Tag Archives: Parenting

Things Toddlers Say

Happy Tuesday! We’ve been busy bees marrying off my brother, and so I don’t have as much to report as usual. But it’s been a nice time off! Enjoy what I did write down!

Talking about Jesus coming to earth…
EK: Well he had to cross outer space from heaven.

When I woke her up one morning, EK: What is happening?!

D’s new favorite animal: falingo (flamingo)

D, pointing at every item in the house: Sing a song o’ dis! Sing a song o’ dat!

J, about my brother’s wedding: I just didn’t know that weddings were so beautiful!

EK standing at the Nantahala River: Smell that ocean breeze!

J went to bed in his clothes, straight from the car, when we got into town last night. This morning he woke up and said: Did you know that last night I went to bed in my clothes?! Not even pajamas, but just clothes! It’s gonna make my bed a dirty bed! But I do like this shirt.

What have your kids been saying recently? Any Christmas funnies?!

Why Five Minutes Makes Me a Better Parent

This article originally appeared on Perfection Pending.

It’s overwhelming, this whole motherhood thing. I think back to the days of answering only to myself, and doing things only when I felt like it… I don’t necessarily miss those days, but I’d give a large sum of money for a day or two like that every once in a while.

When I get up in the morning, it’s usually to the sounds of (at least) one of the kids. Often, it’s the jabbering of my youngest, playing happily in his crib, knowing I’ll come and get him soon. Those days are so nice. I can go to the bathroom, wash my face, and drink a little water before I start the diaper change and breakfast hustle. But other days, I hear stomping on the stairs, drawers opening and closing, or even cries of, “He hit me!” or something similar. As you can imagine, that’s not quite as pleasant at start. Some days just begin in a more relaxing way than others.

I find myself, on difficult days, craving a moment to myself. That could be almost any sort of moment… for instance, I love the grocery store. I could take a mile-long grocery list to the store, alone, ideally with a cappuccino, and it would be the perfect hour: super productive, not a waste of time, but relaxing, and also delicious if I ended up with that fancy drink. Just to have that bit of time to myself to regroup is my biggest desire in a hectic day. I suppose that’s how the memes about moms eating chocolate while locked in the bathroom are born. Boy, can I relate.

But actually taking the minute to myself doesn’t happen as much as needing it does. If I end up – for whatever reason – pushing through my need for a break, I’ll just end up back feeling crazed again in another half an hour. If I don’t take the moment I need to center myself, zap my coffee and take a big swig, or sit down and zone out for a minute or five. I’m so driven by productivity and “getting things done so that I can relax later” that I rarely let myself take a few minutes for myself before the to-do list is finished.

I do know one thing, though. I can prevent the feelings of stress and anxiety from getting worse (and sometimes break that cycle entirely, if I’m lucky) by taking that time I need for myself sooner. Need a breather? Take one. Need to just sit down for a few minutes? Do it. Need three minutes to calm your brain and scroll through Instagram? That’s just fine. There are very few things on my “list” that won’t still be there in five minutes – including the kids. A mental break is just as important as a physical one, but sometimes I can’t pull my brain out of the frenzy unless I pull my body out of it, too. Sometimes, I even leave the house… I step out to the back porch, or walk to get the mail. Sunshine and fresh air are an immediate shock to my system when it’s bogged down by detailed-oriented tasks and grabby hands that need me. The way my home is set up, the kids are usually in the room that leads to the porch, and it’s full of windows, so I’m not exactly leaving them unattended. But I’m getting out of the situation enough to hear birds instead of the arguing, or to see sun and trees instead of the pile of laundry I was about to get to. Sometimes, even sitting down with the kids and watching Octonauts is a break. It interrupts their cycle of crazy when I redirect them to something else, and it interrupts my cycle of “can’t slow my roll” when I get in there for a snuggle.

So, if you’re like me, sometimes (often?) wound up tightly, pushing yourself through those moments of anxiety or frustration in the sake of thinking you can handle it – or worse, for the sake of productivity – then give yourself a break. Take that minute, or 5, or 10 that you need. Do whatever you need to do to find the time, sooner rather than later, to let yourself unwind. Drink your coffee while it’s still hot. Sit down to chat or snuggle with your child before you get started on the dishes. Sneak that candy bar in the bathroom! There’s no shame in the game of saving your own sanity. You do something for you, mama, and don’t feel bad about it.

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?

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?

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.