Category Archives: Parenting

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.

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 🙂

2016: The Year of Grace

2015 was the Year of Healing for me. Like a lot of you, I choose a word for my year to pursue and meditate on. My year of healing ironically led to quite a bit of medical issues. I got diagnosed with a thyroid disease, ended up in the E.R. two days in a row with stomach pain, and my normal cycles stopped completely.

That wasn’t how my year was supposed to go.

The more I dug into my health, the more my diet and lifestyle changed. Good changes, of course, but hard to do when the rest of my family has a love affair with carbohydrates.

When I finally started to feel like my normal self (I haven’t felt great in about 7 years), I saw a gynecologist who in response to my issues of the last couple years told me I was probably done having kids without medical intervention.

So that was fun.

I left her office in tears and never went back, determined to prove her wrong.

Our word for this year is Grace. God freely giving us what we don’t deserve. My health. My children. My patient husband. Jesus.

Grace.

We will explore God’s grace in 2016. What will your word or theme be?

There is a happy ending to 2015, as hard as the year was. In the late fall, my doctor (who I love, and who listens to me, and who values nutritional medicine) suggested we do some bloodwork to find out what my body was lacking hormonally. I had 3 periods in 2015. That’s not normal. And she knew our desire to have another baby.

5 weeks of bloodwork.

The day of my appointment to talk over the bloodwork, I took a pregnancy test on a whim.

You guys. Positive.

I fell on my knees, crying and thanking God.

What a gift!

What grace!

Over a year of trying to conceive. Thank you, God.

As 2016 starts, I watch and feel the evidence of God’s grace growing in my body. July will bring a baby to this family that has been waiting and praying for so long. I am overwhelmed by this gift.

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Some of us are more shocked than others.

Happy New Year!

Do Over

We were dressed, had eaten, had completed school. Long, frustrating schoolwork where Little Guy needed 100% of my attention 100% of the time. That’s mathematically impossible because I have two boys, and I need to help both of them.

We are all cranky with each other, everyone’s waking up at ridiculous hours and going to bed at ridiculous hours, and still detoxing after a weekend filled with sweets.

“I’m hungry!”

That whine. That whining plea for food as if they never eat.

It has to be lunch time, I though to myself. I’ll feed them, and then we will all have an hour of silent, solitary rest before we face the rest of the day.

I looked at the clock.

9:30.

Crap.

I had already had as much Tuesday as I could handle, and it was just starting.

The next half hour did not go well. There was lots of tears, yelling, and time outs. As I sat on the couch contemplating moving to Australia (there are no terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days in Australia), I realized I had a choice. I could let my depression get the best of me and give in to the day, or start over.

The week after Daylight Savings Time ends is consistently one of the worst weeks for my mental health. The extra hour screws up our sleeping schedules, brings the sunset sooner, and leaves us with a cranky, tear filled week. Every. Year.

Last week I felt great. I felt like I could take on the world. I felt like maybe I would approach winter with a better view on life and health, and maybe, just maybe I would escape my depression this year.

This week I want to move to Australia.

“Put your shoes on, we’re leaving!”

No, we didn’t move across the world. Just to Trader Joes. Well, we didn’t move there, we just shopped. We took the dog out. Got away for a bit. Fresh air fixes a lot.

In a little bit we’ll head next door to share lunch with  friends. Then we’ll go outside and play in the warm sunshine while it lasts. And tonight I’ll go to yoga, and remember to breathe. Breathe through the hard moments. Breathe through my frustration at the endless chatter of these munchkins.

We had a do over. I apologized. The boys apologized. I gave my guilt and anger over to God. He gives grace in return. Tuesday has started over.

It’s never too late for a do over.

On the wall next to my bed is lavender. Sometimes I hide up here and just breathe it in.

On the wall next to my bed hangs lavender. Sometimes I hide up here and just breathe it in.

Parenting Fail: The Litterbug

One of the hard things about being a parent is that you constantly have an audience. And they are paying attention. All the time. I’ve written before about the stupid things I’ve done or said in front of my kids that have come back to bite me. That’s part of parenting.

wpid-img_20150628_181030.jpgThe other day we were riding bike home from Union Station, where we had stopped to play in the fountains and eat ice cream. A favorite Sunday night activity for Sheppards. On the way to the street, I rode by a trash can to throw away the ice cream cups I had in my hand. I hit a bump and one of the itty bitty plastic spoons fell out of my hand onto the sidewalk.

I kept riding.

I left the plastic spoon on the sidewalk three feet from the trash can.

I know, I know. I’m the worst. I should have just stopped, bent down and picked it up.

But here’s the bigger problem.

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Big Brother was right behind me. Watching me.

After I dropped it, he started yelling ahead to his dad to stop, because we had to pick up the garbage. Only we didn’t stop. And I told him it was okay, we weren’t stopping, Tim wouldn’t leave us.

“You’re not gonna pick it up?”

“No, buddy, it’s okay. We need to catch up to Dad,” I replied.

“Oh.”

We rode in silence for a few moments. Then he spoke again.

“Is littering sometimes okay?”

“Yes,” I answered, then immediately thought of all the times they’ve just wanted to leave their picnic messes at the park. “I mean no. Well, maybe sometimes.” Well no, actually, I can’t think of a time when they should litter. “Um, no, never. Ugh. Nope, I was wrong, I should’ve stopped and got it. That was my bad. Never litter, okay?”

Fail.

Have your kids caught you littering? Or something else? Want to share your latest Parenting Fail?