Author Archives: The Dependent Life

About The Dependent Life

A City Mama raising her boys to walk in Truth.

Baking With Children

Sometimes when I don’t feel like I have enough stress in my day I will have my boys help me bake something. Today it was scones. I have long since learned that having both of them help at the same time leads to fighting over whose turn it is to break the eggs, pour in the sugar, or stir the batter, and inevitably something gets spilled.

Perhaps I should have them take turns, you might be thinking. Oh reader, I do. I do. But my kids have this uncanny ability to both forget who poured in the last ingredient, literally 30 seconds ago, and both be 100% sure that it is their turn and that we are trying to sabotage them by insisting that it’s not.

So our rule is that only one boy at a time gets to be assistant baker. Today the younger insisted that he needed to stand right next to the counter and watch even though it wasn’t his turn to help. 

So see, this was easier because I had one boy scooping flour and sugar, and the other boy standing to the side talking and asking questions constantly. Questions like, What are you doing? Why are you doing that? What kind of milk is that? Why do you keep the frozen blueberries in the freezer?

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So between trying to stay one step ahead of the boy reading the recipe and doing the things, and correcting his mistakes, I was trying to answer the other boy kindly when I really wanted him to just leave the kitchen, my goodness why do you need to be in here?

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Then after rolling out the dough and cutting it, the helper is rolling around on the kitchen floor on his hands and knees like a naughty puppy. Normally I’m okay with this, because it cleans the floor as it dirties the child, but I’d rather not have floor filth in my scones, so we pause the recipe to wash hands.

Now, when you and I wash our hands, we understand that there is a sequence of events that must take place every time in order for our hands to truly be considered washed. You turn on warm water, you scrub with soap, rinse, and then for goodness sakes, dry them.

My children, however, reserve such fanciness only for important events, like presidential visits, or Christmas.

So out of the bathroom he comes, dripping water everywhere, and when I tell him to dry his hands he rubs them down his shirt. Did you use soap? I ask, and receive a blank look in return.

Back to the bathroom he goes, with instructions to use soap and dry thoroughly.

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Blueberry scones are completed, my kitchen is a mess, the younger boy is still chattering away to nobody in particular. I hope you didn’t come here for 10 Tips for Baking With Children, this ain’t that kind of blog. You should actually head over to my friend Brit at Little Mountain Momma. She’s awesome at doing stuff with her littles, whereas I tend to say stuff like, Can you not? and You gotta get outta here, you’re making me crazy.

I guess I should end this by saying something like, It’s worth it, bake with your kids! And it is. You get to eat scones at the end, so there’s that.

 

“Do You Ever Feel Tired?”

I had just scolded Little Guy for the seventh time in the last five minutes, this time for licking the almond milk on the shelf at Trader Joes, when I felt someone at my elbow. I turned around and this little old lady put her hand on my shoulder and said, “God’s blessings be upon you, dear!”

I buried my face in her shoulder and wept. Okay, actually I just bit back tears and gave her a hug. I thanked her for her kind words, they meant so much to me. She looked at my pregnant belly, then looked at my boys rolling around on the dirty tile floor like puppies and asked,

“Do you ever feel tired?”

At this, I burst into laughter. Like, insane woman, crazy eyed, hysterical, howling laughter. It was either that or cry. Do I ever feel tired? The night before, I got up no less than 4 times to pee, and each time I came back to bed my dog had migrated from the foot of the bed into the warm space I vacated. She growls at me when I try to move her and turns into dead weight so that by the time I have reclaimed my sleeping space I’m wide awake and so is the karate kid that resides in my uterus. I don’t sleep much.

Do I ever feel tired? That morning when my boys were praying before we started our school lesson (yes, June is almost over and we’re still doing school. Shhhh, don’t tell them, they don’t realize we should have stopped!) I almost fell asleep in the 30 seconds I had my eyes shut.

Do I ever feel tired? I live on the third floor of an old building and the hardest part of my day is climbing the stairs up to our apartment. Halfway up I have to stop and assess whether the contractions I’m besieged with are the real thing or not, because if it’s go-time there’s no way in heck I’m doing that last flight to just turn around and head back down to the hospital.

Do I ever feel tired? Through my laughter I replied, “Every #*@%  day!”

Okay not really. This was a sweet old granny. “Pretty often,” is what I actually said.

I don’t remember much of the exchange after that, but when I left the store I felt so much better than when I came in. God keeps sending the right people at the right time into my life to encourage me. Throughout the last couple months (this pregnancy has been challenging, it’s been rough) I have lost track of the number of people who have stopped me at the park, grocery store, parking lot, library, everywhere to compliment my children, or tell me how amazing I look, or just say, “You are doing a great work!”

I’m trying to become that kind of person. If I’m thinking something encouraging, I pray that God would give me the boldness to say it. To the mom struggling with the screaming two year old at Target, “You are doing a great job!”

To the pregnant mom at the park struggling to keep up with her energetic kids, “You look amazing!”

Encouraging words leave a positive mark that can help erase all the negative self talk we’re capable of. Let’s make use of them.

Do you enjoy being complimented by strangers? Does it creep you out? Tell me about it.

The Time I Let My Poker Face Slip

Yesterday I made a devastating parenting mistake.

Tim and I were sitting in the shade in his brother’s backyard, sipping cold drinks and reading. Beautiful summer morning. The boys were playing on a slip-n-slide a ways off. A peaceful moment.

We had no idea what was coming.

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Pile o’ worms

Now here’s the thing about my boys: They love bugs. They are constantly catching bugs and creepy crawly things. This doesn’t bother me. Sometimes I’ll even help them.

We’ve caught ladybugs, worms, lizards, even snakes together.

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Have you ever seen anyone so in love with a snake?

There have only been a few occasions where they’ve stuck something right under my nose (literally) that has horrified me, and I’ve managed to keep my cool and breathe slowly until they take it away.

I have a pretty good poker face. This comes from years of youth ministry of all sorts. I can usually hear or see something outrageous and not react. This is a useful parenting skill. As long as you can keep your kids from surprising you, you keep the upper hand.

So. Back to yesterday.

Our blissful reverie was interrupted by our two children running over yelling. Big Brother had something clutched tight in his butterfly net, and Little Guy was proudly yelling that Big Brother caught “a huge spider!”

Before that phrase could even register he shoved the net under our noses and we saw this. IMG_0755

Look closely. That is a big, nasty wolf spider. It was frantically running around its little net space on top of Big Brother’s hand looking for someone to kill.

I immediately screamed and tried to keep from throwing up.

Tim calmly (of course, the man is never ruffled) said, “Umm, buddy, that kind can actually bite. You might want to let that one go.”

At this, Big Brother opened the net and dropped it right where we were sitting.

I screamed and flew out of my chair (I’m extremely pregnant, it usually takes me awhile to move anywhere) and shot across the yard away from the angry spider now bent on revenge.

This is when I realized my mistake.

I let my poker face slip. Not just slip. I destroyed my calm, parenting face.

They can smell fear, you know. I’m talking about the children, not the spider. They saw what makes their mom lose her mind and scream in terror. And they. did. it. They have the power now. If you have boys, you realize how dangerous this is. Boys love to make their moms scream. I think this is considered loving in their minds? And I freely showed them what I’m most afraid of.

What have I done?

If you are a mom of boys, can you relate? I want to hear about it.

What’s Wrong With the World? I Am.

I was in the 8th grade on April 20, 1999 when Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris massacred their fellow students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. We were shocked. Nothing like this had happened in our memory. For my classmates and myself this was our introduction into the violent evil of which the world is capable. Two short years later 9/11 happened, and it seems as if the chaos has not stopped since then. That happens when you become aware of evil.

An interesting thing occurred after the Columbine shooting. The habits and lifestyles of those two boys were dissected and analyzed by the media and given back to us as some sort of warning. They listened to this kind of music. They wore that style of clothing. And on and on.

It seemed as if the media and our parents were trying to find the triggers that led them to such a degree of evil. If we just avoided A, B, and C, we would not be capable of the same. Evil and hate became this idea that we could control and avoid.

Fast forward to today, our country is threatening to lose its ever-loving mind. A sociopathic narcissist is coming closer and closer to the presidential chair. The media would have us believe that predators are suddenly lurking inside every public restroom. Beyonce just dropped an album that exploded the internet and has led to hate-filled arguments about racism and sexuality on just about every Facebook mommy group I’m part of. Hatred and fear rule the day.

Here’s the thing though. It’s easy to look at this hair here: and say that he’s created racism and violence among his supporters. It’s easy to look at those with opposing viewpoints on the Target bathroom issue, or any LGBT issue, and call them names. They are evil. They are wrong. The problem is out there, right?

Here’s the problem, and honestly, it scared me for years as a teenager after Columbine: I am capable of evil. Those people who are outright racist? Those people spewing hate in internet comment threads? Those people who I simply disagree with? They aren’t that different from myself.

These issues don’t create hate, they just reveal it.

This makes me uncomfortable, to be honest. I’d much rather believe that if only I was on the right side of every issue (and of course, my side is always the right side), I would be incapable of evil thoughts and words. But I’m only doing what our parents tried to do in the late 90’s following Columbine, trying to control evil through outward appearances.

This doesn’t work.

There’s a story (probably true, although apparently never actually documented) about the great G.K. Chesterton, where he, along with other famous authors were asked by The Times what was wrong with the world today. He simply responded,

“Dear Sir,

I am.

Yours, G.K. Chesterton.”

Chesterton recognized that evil originates in our hearts and the only way to fight against it is through change from within. He also recognized that the only person he was capable of changing was himself.

I can’t change anyone but myself.

In light of this, what if we stopped arguing online? What if we stopped sharing fear-based articles on Facebook? What if we truly loved our neighbors? What if we had face-to-face conversations about these issues with people we care about instead of just filling social media with controversial topics?

What if we committed to change ourselves first, by the grace of God?

I’m making drastic changes in my life, more on that later, due to the amount of crippling anxiety I’ve been experiencing throughout my pregnancy. I’m changing what voices are speaking into my life and heart. I’m done with hate. I’m done with fear.

What’s wrong with the world? I am. And I know the One who can change me, and to him I run.

Saturday: The Day of Silence

Good Friday is over. Now it’s Saturday.

Saturday. As Jesus’ friends awoke, the day after they watched their dear friend violently die, I imagine it took some longer than others to remember. As the morning sun streamed in the windows, bringing the promise of a new day, their memories of the night before caught up with them. The morning sun no longer held promise. Just defeat.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to end.

How could Jesus leave them like this?

Where do we go from here?

I’ve been there. I’ve lived through a “Saturday” filled with hopelessness. My life wasn’t supposed to look like this. I was supposed to have purpose. Things weren’t supposed to look this way. It didn’t feel as if I would ever find joy again.

Friend, are you stuck on Saturday? It looks different for all of us. Depression. A soul-killing job. Illness. Divorce. But one thing is the same, we feel as if God has abandoned us. He’s stopped speaking. Or at least, we’ve stopped hearing. He’s silent. Maybe even…dead.

Saturday.

But oh, the best part of all, is that no day lasts forever. Even Saturday. As Sunday dawned, so did the hopes of the world.

The women came to the tomb. The only ones strong enough to face what had happened. Women, look in the cracks of history, and you will always find us. Doing hard things. Being present at the most glorious moments. He isn’t here, he is risen! Go, tell the others.

He is risen!

Everything I believe hangs on this historical fact. He. is. no. longer. dead.

Sunday brings life. Sunday brings hope. Sunday brings the answers to Saturday.

God will not remain silent. Death could not contain Jesus. Sunday will come. And when it does, you can look back and praise him for his faithfulness, even on Saturday.

His love is relentless.

Easter is coming.

 

Pregnancy IRL

I have friends who love being pregnant. They thrive on being pregnant. They would be pregnant all the time if they could. This, on the other hand, is me pregnant. wp-1455407450067.jpeg

This was taken about 3 weeks ago and I am wearing a band around my belly to literally hold my stomach together. I got a major umbilical hernia the last time I was pregnant, and parts of my abdomen are threatening to come through my belly button. Sounds like a blast, right? It’s not as severe as it sounds, it just hurts a lot, and apparently it’s not a big deal (!?) because I have yet to have a doctor/midwife seem overly concerned.

So yeah, this kid better love me the most.

I’m not mocking my friends who love pregnancy. I’m more than a little jealous, to be honest. And if I could take the good parts of pregnancy and have those always I would. Like my shiny hair, gorgeous fingernails, and umm… c’mon, there’s gotta be a third one…

The truth is, I don’t love being pregnant. It’s hard for me to write that. I prayed and longed for this baby for so long and I’m absolutely thrilled to be pregnant with this little parasite. And the first time I felt this baby move I was so in love I cried. So I feel weird saying that this is hard, and uncomfortable, and icky, and weird… But I think that’s why I need to say it.

There’s this thing about being a woman, or being a mom, where you’re supposed to pretend that everything is fine. If a mom makes a complaint about her children, she’s attacked. You chose to have these kids, why would you have them if you hate it so much? As if there’s only two options, love it all the time or hate it. So we smile, and say this is the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I live for my kids.

But Emily, you may be thinking, that’s true though. I do feel that way about my kids! That’s great. I believe you. I’m happy for you. I just don’t believe you feel that way 100% of the time. No one does. And I want us to have the freedom to admit it. Let’s not take to Facebook and complain about our kids, or how horrible our day is, but let’s give ourselves permission to text a friend and tell her we’re struggling. She gets it. Give yourself permission to put your kids in front of Netflix so you can get 20 minutes to recharge. Give yourself permission to lock the bathroom door and eat chocolate. You’re human.

I go through this time knowing the end result will make this all pale in comparison. It’s true for you too. Whatever the struggle is right now, it’s worth it. One day your child will use the potty on their own. Your little booger eventually will sleep all night. It will be worth it.

Until then. Give yourself grace. You don’t have to enjoy every moment. You can feel impatience, frustration, even anger, at your children. They probably deserve it! So take a cleansing breath, send those ornery monsters to their room, and remind yourself that you’re human. God is forgiving. Your children are forgiving. And this won’t last forever.

Do you love being pregnant? Tell me why. I want to vicariously enjoy it 🙂

In Defense of Valentine’s Day

Like it or lump it, Valentine’s Day is coming this weekend. That commercialistic, sappy holiday sponsored by Hallmark. It also happens to be my birthday, so clearly this is my favorite holiday and I think it’s worthy of celebration. It doesn’t have to be a commercial mess like a certain December holiday, and it doesn’t have to be solely about romantic love. Let’s take a look at where it all began.

The history of Valentine’s Day is murky and muddled, but it’s clear that it started in Rome as a fertility festival called Lupercalia. It was celebrated as most Romans festivals were with nakedness, drunkeness, and sex. Oh, also the women were whipped by men with the hides of newly slain animals, all in the name of fertility, of course.

Later, St. Valentine was added in to the festival. The church was not, and is not, sure which man named Valentine this saint was named after, apparently there were several that were martyred for their faith in some fashion or other.

St. Valentine was made part of the celebration in an attempt to Christianize the holiday. Pope Gelasius the First did this in order to “put the clothes back on” the festival even though it remained a drunken party. By the way, that is the funniest description of how Christians took something over, isn’t it? Can we please describe all Christian cultural things that way? GodTube is like YouTube but with clothes on. Creation Fest is like Woodstock but with clothes on. (Yeah, those are things.) Terrible Christian movies are like the ones from Hollywood but with clothes on. I could do this all day.

Anyway, by Shakespeare’s time, Valentine’s Day was becoming more about romantic love and continued to do so until Hallmark got ahold of it in 1913. And here we are today. My point in all this is not that we go back to the origins and bring back fertility beatings, but that the holiday really has no set agenda to it, outside of Hallmark’s bottom line. Which means, at least in my figuring, that you can do whatever you want with this day.

wp-1455304679672.jpegIn our house we use Valentine’s Day, and really the whole month, as an opportunity to tell our loved ones they are special to us. Our boys have been making cards for weeks, mailing them, delivering them door to door, and passing out chocolates. We tell them that sometimes we have special sweethearts on Valentine’s Day, and sometimes we don’t, but that’s not really the point. The point is that there are always people in our life who we can show love to, because God’s love never stops for us.

Every Valentine’s Day I make a card for Tim (take that, Hallmark!). It’s usually silly, I’ve usually stolen the idea from someone on the internet, but it’s fun, and it’s us. Here’s last year’s card. And honestly, I love the idea of giving something, anything, on my birthday. You should try it too.

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Full disclosure: I did NOT come up with this. I saw it online and redrew it. You should follow me on Instagram if you want to see this year’s card. It’s going to be awesome!

So I challenge you to look at this day differently. If you’re tempted to complain about it, instead do something about it. Send an encouraging note to a friend. Buy someone flowers. Make something. Bake cookies. If this is a special day to you and your significant other, great! But don’t forget that romantic love is not the only thing worth celebrating. How can the two of you work together to bring joy to someone else?

Take this day back. How will you celebrate your Valentine’s Day? Let me know. And enjoy your chocolates.

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My sweet friend blessed me this week with these beautiful flowers, and now I’m reminded of her friendship and love every time I look at them.

By the way, if you’re wondering about my sources. I used this and this for my history lesson.