Category Archives: parenting fails

epic failures as a parent who tries… but doesn’t always win.

Halloween Fail

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

My family is a Disney-loving crew. Hubby and I grew up watching the movies, visiting Disney world, collecting paraphernalia and loving every minute, so why shouldn’t we do that with our kids?

That being said, we recognized this year as the perfect year for a group costume. We could still dictate what the kids would dress up as, and pull off a silly, matching family costume. Because we’re a group of five, we decided on the Incredibles.

True story: Hubby and I were Mr. and Mrs. Incredible before we had kids (see below) because we happen to have pretty good body types for it – aka Hubby is a big, strong dude, and I have short hair and hips. (Disclaimer: our attempt to make Hubby’s hair blond simply turned it green. Oops.)

So naturally, with that being our best costume together ever, we decided to bring it back with our three kids. I started looking for the costumes (less iron-on this time) and rounding up everyone’s parts. I got really excited, and let the kids run around in their outfits several times. This week, Hubby and I finally tried on ours!

Oh crap.

We aren’t huge people. Okay, well, fine. Hubby is a heavyweight wrestler, but I ordered him the largest size so it should’ve been fine. But I’m not a huge person! And I ordered my costume based on their sizing chart! I should’ve known that superhero outfits would be… well… tight. And that a $30 costume wouldn’t be… uh… totally well-made. So naturally, Hubby and I are melted and poured into our costumes. Because I ordered them according to size charts. UGH I don’t want to go to my church’s Trunk or Treat in a costume fit for a Sig Ep party. So I get on figuring out how to be a little more comfortable and less… risqué.

It just so happens that I have a friend who had the same idea I did – family of 5 Disney lovers, young kids – obviously they’re also the Incredibles. I shot her a text – “What do I do?!” She said, “Oh, you’re also Elastigirl: Brazilian Edition?” Yikes. Looks like we are both in a pinch – literally. We each brainstormed ideas of what to put on top to just cover up – black bathing suit bottoms? Probably not that helpful. A tutu? Black granny panties? Finally I decided on a black skirt I have that would cover more than a tutu would, and be more comfortable to boot. Hubby decided to wear a pair of black shorts over his, and a red shirt underneath. Preventing a wardrobe malfunction was a little more difficult than I had anticipated.

So now, after much deliberation on what to wear, how to wear it, and all the excitement building for the last few weeks, two out of our three kids are sick. The other probably will have it soon, so she’s also in quarantine. No trunk or treat. No visiting neighbors. No collecting candy from every house on the block. No wearing our costumes, unless it’s while we sit in our house with the lights off. This Halloween still ended up being a huge fail.

This is us, on our back porch, before I put a note on the door and turned the lights out.

This post is part of my NaBloPoMo, where I publish a piece every day in November. Many of the posts will be writing exercises, sometimes straying from my usual style. 

How to Achieve the Perfect Family Photo

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus.

As you start thinking ahead to the holidays, you might be pondering ways to get the perfect family photograph. Whether you want to frame it as a gift for Grandma, or plaster it on a card to send to 500 of your closest friends, getting a perfect photo of your entire family is likely on your to-do list. If you’re like me, and you have young children, I have a few easy tips to make the process easier, and ensure a valuable, timeless product at the end of your session. You don’t want your Christmas card to look like mine did last year (see #2 – actually included on last year’s Christmas card). Here are my suggestions as you plan your endeavor to get the “perfect family photo”:

1. Hire a photographer. Like your mom, brother, or an unsuspecting stranger with an iPhone. This will ensure that the person taking the picture has the skills and equipment necessary to catch the perfect moment of a genuine group smile. (Or if you’re on a budget, invest in a selfie stick.)IMG_2199.jpg

2. Dress your brood well. First, make sure you give your kids coordinating names that will result in the same monogram for each child. Then, choose a neutral color for everyone to wear, and make sure each shirt is monogrammed in a coordinating “pop” color. It’s also important to wear hair bows, shoes, jewelry, belts, and scarves that match the monogram’s accent color. Finally, make sure you don’t eat in the outfit in which you plan to photograph. You wouldn’t want that marinara stain to ruin your Christmas card!img_0033

3. Strike a pose. Make sure each subject in the photo is being still, and smiling with just the right amount of teeth showing. Hands folded in laps and slight head tilts are recommended. Never allow movement while the pictures are being taken.DSC_0232.jpg

4. Keep your eyes open. To be certain that none of your photos include a blinking subject, make sure your family knows that blinking is not allowed. Pass the eyedrops around before you get started, so that there will be no need to blink to prevent dryness of the eye. (Note: this also prevents the eyes half-closed look, as though the subject is about to sneeze.)DSC_0269.jpg

5. Work the natural light. Morning and evening are the best times to take photos outside. Skip breakfast or dinner to ensure that the lighting is perfect. Tell those cranky, hungry children if they’d just smile, you could all go eat… and maybe have some of your own natural light.DSC_0186.jpg

6. Choose a few props. Pumpkins are always a nice choice for the fall, and beaches, snow, mountains, or lakes could be nice choices for other times of year, too! Be sure to bring things like these with you for the session.DSC_0026.jpg

7. Let your family be themselves. As long as it’s their happy, cute, lovey-dovey selves.DSC_0548.jpg

I hope that these simple tips help you get the perfect framer of your family!

20 Thoughts a Mom Might Have at 4:30am

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus

I’ve been a mom for four and a half years. It’s been about that long since I’ve had a night’s sleep that was uninterrupted. Even if my kids aren’t the ones that wake me, my brain is on overdrive, wondering if my to-do list was accomplished, hearing phantom baby cries, or already worrying about the things happening the next day. I don’t always wake up in the middle of the night with a baby, but I almost always wake up with at least a little stress. Here are a few thoughts I might have, if I wake at 4:30am…

1. Ugh. I have to be up so soon.

2. Did I ever move those clothes into the dryer?

3. I think we’re out of milk!

4. How is it possible that he snores so loudly?

5. Was that a baby I just heard?

6. I can’t forget to make the appointment for the baby’s check up.

7. When did she come upstairs? I’d take her back to her room, but she’s fast asleep. I guess one night is fine.

8. I thought the night sweats would be over by now.

9. I remembered to turn off the oven after dinner. I’m sure I did.

10. I definitely hear the baby.

11. Okay, we need milk, bananas, tomatoes, and bread. I should probably get up and write that down. But my body is sooooo heavyyyyy…

12. I wonder what happened at the end of that episode? I must’ve fallen asleep.

13. I just can’t get comfortable!

14. I’ve got to pee, too. Maybe I should just get up.

15. I guess the baby is quiet now, so I’m going to hold it.

16. Okay, count the sheep. One. Two. Three…

17. Thirty-one, thirty-two…

18. How many more minutes till my alarm goes off?

19. I guess if I’m not going to sleep, I could squeeze in a run before everyone wakes up.

20. Actually, I’m pretty sleepy now…

And then, I bet you can guess what happens. I finally doze off, somewhere in the ballpark of 6:00am, and then it just isn’t very long until there’s a toddler stomping up the stairs, or  a baby shouting “Mama!”

Revoking My Bragging Rights

Sometimes, it’s good to brag on your kids. There are times that you’ve worked so hard for something, spent time, effort, or money on making something work, and it all finally clicks. But if you’re like me, sometimes you may brag a little early. 

Recently, my youngest has been going through an awful phase (it is just a phase, right?) of sleeping for an unpredictable number of hours at night. I don’t mean, “Oh, it could be 8 or 10 or 12 hours.” It’s more like whether he will sleep through the night, or get up three times. He can sleep 12 hours in a row, several nights in a row. And then one night it’ll all go away. Like magic, he reverts back into a newborn schedule. In my opinion, even though you’re more well-rested, it’s harder to get up in the night after you’ve had that few nights of good sleep.

So now, every time someone asks “How is he sleeping?” I’m unsure how to answer. I don’t want to complain. The bags under my eyes do that all on their own. But I don’t want to jinx myself either, if the night before happened to be a good one. I’ve learned that any time I say out loud that he’s sleeping better, I’ll have the night from hell to pay for it. For instance, we had three good nights in a row, Thursday, Friday and Saturday night of last week. On Sunday night, our small group got together, and because we’d been asking them to pray for good rest in our home, they all asked how he had been doing. “Great!” we replied. “Three wonderful nights in a row of the baby sleeping all night!” Sunday night, you might have predicted, he was up four times, including once where I just fell asleep in the rocker with him on my chest for two hours.

The moral of the story seems to be something along the lines of “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” Not that I’m counting chickens, but I suppose I won’t say he’s sleeping well until he’s in middle school and I’ve got to dump cold water on him to wake him. I guess I won’t be mentioning that our daughter hasn’t worn diapers in a week, and we haven’t had any accidents…

A Mom’s Day in the Car

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

Last week, my family did the unthinkable: we took a road trip. 

 Now, I don’t say that because we didn’t want to leave town, or even because we packed a lot. (In fact, Hubby and I remarked about how we felt like we packed the same amount for this trip as we had packed for our eldest’s first road trip – even though now we have three times the number of children.) I say that because the 350-ish miles to my parents’ house took us way longer than it should’ve. Hubby and I used to do it in 5 1/2 hours before we had kids. Now, it takes at least 8 and maybe more. Basically, road tripping with small kids is a long, arduous process. Here are a few reasons why:

Poop. Yes, as we are constantly telling our children, everyone poops. However, when poop happens into a diaper, there’s quite the clean up to be had. And sometimes if it takes us a little longer than usual to either realize there has been a poop, or to find a place to go to clean up said poop, the mess may have just gotten bigger. For example, on the way back to NC, my youngest (8 months old) went through three changes of pants. All I have to say is thank goodness the child seat wasn’t ruined, because there’s no way to change that in small town SC.

Food. Everyone has to eat. The problem is that everyone eats different things at different times and sometimes, they’re pickier than usual. For instance, my terrible two went completely bonkers when I suggested he drink lemonade and eat oranges. For crying out loud, HE LOVES LEMONADE AND ORANGES! But for some reason, when those were the most readily available things, he flat out refused, via a tantrum. We ended up making it the last two hours with jelly beans. That was the only reason we made it home. 

 Scheduling problems. My kids typically have an afternoon nap all at the same time, (within about half an hour of each other). My youngest also has a morning nap. But when we’re in the car all day, and no one has let out any energy, we’re just watching movies and eating jelly beans, naps are a little wonky. However, at some point each of them are going to have a meltdown (probably about how we won’t stop the car and let them out) and get tired. It’s just tough when one goes to sleep, and another has a meltdown and wakes that one up. Then finally those two are asleep, and the third one gets hungry and starts yelling. I’m telling y’all, it’s one of the circles of hell.

Movie preference. We are extremely lucky to have a car that has a DVD player and screens in it. We’ve not even had it a year, and before that we were using the iPad, harnessed between the two front seats (that had to be exactly side by side). But even with the screens, there’s a little bit of complaining about what we’re watching. Why can’t I just put on Frozen? Why can’t we watch endless episodes of Sofia the First? Well, what about Chuggington? Because MY CAR DOESN’T HAVE NETFLIX. That’s why. I brought 8 DVDS. CHOOSE ONE AND BE HAPPY.

All in all, we made it out alive and well. There might be some emotional scarring, but in a few days, I’ll be okay.

Questions You Ask As the Parent of Small Children

This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!

  When I was a kid (and even now) it seemed to me my mom knew everything. If I was sick, she knew exactly what I needed to feel better. If I had lost something, she knew where it was. Even when I was a teen, she knew the fastest way to get anywhere and the best place to buy anything. Now that I’m the mom, I’m constantly confronted with questions that I’m asking my mom, my other mom friends, or even Google. (“Thank goodness for Google!” said all the millennial parents.) Here are just a few of the questions I feel like I’m constantly wondering:

Why won’t she eat banana anymore?

How much Tylenol do you give to a one year old?

What color poop should the baby have?

What day is it?

Will my kid ever get all his teeth?

Will I ever sleep again?

Where is the other sippy cup?

When will my kid just put his own clothes on?

How do I get up this many times in a night, and not die?

When did I last shower?

What does a concussion look like in a toddler?

How do I get that stain out?

Do I really have to wash my coffee mug every day?

How can it possibly still be two hours until bedtime?

Weren’t we just at the doctor’s office?

Does the baby have any clean pajamas?

Why does my daughter outgrow her clothes so quickly?

What’s the liquid on the floor?

Why is formula so expensive?

Is potty training this hard for everyone?

Do the grocery store people know me by name?

When will my kids be able to buckle themselves into the car?

What would I be doing right now if I didn’t have all these kids?

How fast do toddlers run?

How do we go through diapers so quickly?

Where’d that come from?

How am I out of clean underwear again already?

What sound does a zebra make? (Okay, I didn’t wonder that one, but I did have to Google it for my daughter.)

If you’ve ever asked Google or your own mom any of these things, then we could be friends. Just be careful when deciding if it’s poop or chocolate.

How do you think it looks? 

 This post also appeared on My Big Jesus!


The other night, while the kids were taking their bath, I decided to give J’s and EK’s hair a little trim, mostly to make sure their bangs didn’t get into their eyes. They have endearingly shaggy cuts, and so I’d never want to jeopardize that. We had had some friends lingering after our dinner together, so after bath time, we fast-forwarded the bedtime routine, so we could get back to chatting with our friends. I was VERY surprised that EK didn’t make her way back up the stairs, as is her usual custom when we have friends over. (She likes to rejoin the party.) Their bedtime was a little late, so I attributed her absence to tiredness.

Around 11:00, when everyone had gone home and Hubby and I were getting ready for bed, I felt like I should go check once more and see if they were nestled in their beds. When Hubby and I got to the hallway where the kids’ rooms are, I saw EK’s light on underneath her door. When we got inside, we immediately saw little pieces of paper and ribbon from various bows that had all been cut into tiny pieces.

(I’ll take a moment to clarify that we don’t allow scissors without supervision. I’ll also clarify that I happened to leave those bangs-trimming scissors to dry on the bathroom counter, but up against the backsplash, and out of sight.)

Finding EK on the far side of her bed, working on a ribbon on her nightgown, I asked, “What are you doing, babe?” She looked up at me, and replied, “Just cutting stuff.” At this, I started to the see hair on the floor. I took the scissors and said, “Well you know that it’s not okay for you to use scissors without me or Daddy with you. And look at all the hair you’ve cut off!”

As she started to cry (mostly from being in trouble, I think), I looked at Hubby and said quietly, “That’s a lot of hair…” Turning back to a sniffling EK, I said, “You really cut a lot of hair. How do you think it looks?” And as the dam broke and she crumbled into a hot mess, she cried, “Great!” and succumbed to the sobbing. As tears filled my eyes, I told her the most important thing I could think to tell her: “If you think you look great, then so do I.”

You see, she’s not yet four years old. She is outwardly tough, but can be fragile in many ways. She is moldable, flexible, and absorbs every single thing she sees and hears. If I had dared tell her it didn’t look good, or that she did an awful job on her hair, well, it would’ve crushed her. It likely would’ve stuck out in her mind for a long while. Instead, the focus of the scold was on scissor safety and not the outcome of a self-done haircut. After all, it’ll grow. And it looks right cute with a headband in it. She’s still my adorable EK, and her hair just has a little extra spunk.