Kids Say the Darnedest Things

happiness
My kids crack me up.  Jett is one and just starting to talk and JJ is three and won’t stop talking.  I try to document the funny/crazy things they do and say so here are some of my favorite quotables:

Random conversation recently overheard in the car:

JJ: “Jett – zip the lip!”

Jett: “No.”

JJ: “Zip the lip!”

Jett: “No.

JJ: “I’m getting frustrated.  I really don’t love when you make all those noises.”

Jett:”Noises.”

JJ: “Jett – zip it!!!”

All Jett was doing was sucking his thumb prior to this conversation.

 

When frustrated or trying to figure something out, JJ can often be heard saying one or more of these phrases:

“Oh, what’s the use! I already lost my marbles!”

“What in tar-nation!”

“Wait just a corn-popping minute!”

“Oh, biscuits and gravy!”

“Cinders and ashes!”

“Bust my buffers!”

He gets most of these from Thomas or Sheriff Callie, but the first one listed is a JJ original.

 

Complimenting my church attire:

“Mommy, you look just like Barney in that purple dress!”

Yes, large dinosaur was just the look I was going for.

 

Unfortunate word changes:

Me: “What happened to my English muffin?  Someone took a bite out of it.”

JJ: “Jett took a nipple out of it.”

Me: “I believe the word your looking for is nibble.”

Or:

JJ: “Is this a nipple?”

Me: “No, it’s a freckle.  Plus, it’s on your leg.”

Um yeah, we have a little bit of trouble with that word.

 

On playing with his brother:

JJ: “Mom, why is Jett such a pain in the boots?”

Me: “He just wants to play with you.  I don’t think he’s a pain.”

JJ: “Well, I do.  A big ole’ pain in the boots.”

Or:

“Jett, you can look at my tractors but you can’t touch them.  They are mine – very, very mine.”

 

Trying to weasel his way out of discipline:

“Am I done with timeout now? I just want to snuggle with my pretty Mommy.”

“Mom, I just want you to know – I love you no matter what.”

Notice how he goes after my sensitive side and not Dad’s. Hmmmm.

 

On personal hygiene:

(sees himself in the mirror) “Ah! My hair is a frightful mess!”

(while cuddling with me) “Please stop breathing on me.  Your breath smells like a garden – a horrible garden.”

(while going to the bathroom) “I will call you in when it’s time for you to be the butt-wiper, but for now I just want my privacy. Please leave, Mommy.”

Can I add butt-wiper with garden breath to my resume?

 

When asked about his costume for Halloween:

Me: “Do you still want to be a bear for Halloween?”

JJ: “Yes, I want to be a bear…bare naked.”

Me: “Your birthday suit is not a viable costume option.”

JJ: “Fine. Then I want to be one of the Octonauts.”

 

Snacktime:

Me: “What would you like for a snack.”

JJ: “Metamucil.  That’s what Meme and Pap have for snack.”

Let me just say that I do not do a great job at hiding my laughter in some of these situations. I love their creativity and hearing the things that they come up with.  Next to the kisses and cuddles, laughter is my favorite part of parenthood.
Linked with these great blogs: Equipping Godly Women

Worry is My Best Friend

I have a friend named Worry.  She is closer to me than my own shadow and almost always stops by unannounced and without invitation.  In fact, if I let her, Worry would come with me everywhere I go.

I can’t exactly give our relationship a specific start date, but Worry and I have been close for years and years now.  I was very young when we met.  We really began hanging out together during my high school years.  There were times when we were pretty close in college, but we drifted apart for a while, too.  After graduation the real world came knocking, and Worry was right there beside me.

These last few years, Worry and I have been closer than ever.  We talk every day, multiple times a day.  She knows the deepest, darkest parts of me.  Our pity parties are – in a word – legendary.  There are nights when Worry wakes me up just so we can stay up together until my alarm sounds.  If I am relaxing on the couch, Worry is there.  If I am making dinner, Worry is there.  If I am playing with my kids, Worry is there, too.

At first, I thought our relationship was harmless, but lately I have noticed that Worry is a taker – she never gives.  She knows much more about me than I know about her.  She brings out the worst in me and is a terrible influence.  She’s disrespectful and often leaves me in tears.  She tries to ruin my relationships with other people and never wants me to have fun and enjoy the moment.

I think we need a break.

I have struggled with worry and anxiety for a long time.  Sometimes I feel as if my anxiety has a choke hold on me and my life.  If I look at the relationship I have with worry as an actual relationship, it’s completely ridiculous.  I would never put up with that type of behavior from a true friend – I know better than that.  For whatever reason, I justify these things when it comes to my anxiety.  Yes, some things that worry me are legitimate concerns; however, I cannot truly control much of what I worry about.  On the other hand, there are tons of things I spend my time worrying about that haven’t even happened or may never happen.  What a waste of time and energy!

Because of my faith in Christ, I know there is a better way to handle all of this.  Over and over again, God talks about his desire to help us through all of life’s situations and ease our fears.  I am not experiencing anxiety because God hasn’t kept his promises.  I am choosing to hang onto my worries by not allowing God to take over.

The best example I can think of is this: my kids never don’t always share.  When one of them decides to share their toy, they will often change their mind in a matter of minutes and rip it back out of the other’s hands and yell “Mine!”  This is exactly what I do to God with my worries.  Sure, I’ll pray about it and ask for help, but I want to start worrying again shortly thereafter.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Matthew 6:25-27

I know I have trust issues and I like to handle things on my own without asking for help (a nice way of saying this is, I’m ‘independent’).  I am a Type A personality and I do not procrastinate.  I have little patience and when things are not accomplished in a timely manner, it’s very hard for me to let it go.  Top this off with perfectionism and you have quite the little mixture of crazy.  While this has served me well in some areas of life, it’s been a hindrance in others.

I have been worrying about the same few issues for a decent length of time now.  It has weighed on me so much that it has begun to have physical and spiritual side effects.  I am positive that much of my never-ending exhaustion is due to my anxiety levels.  I have the useless ability to jump to the worst-case scenario for every situation and then dwell on that scenario for an inordinate amount of time.  I also know that this is Satan’s way to attack me.

anxietygirl
But then there’s hope:

“Cast all your anxiety on Him because he cares for you.”

I Peter 5:7

How do I handle my worries?  I go straight to God through prayer and recommit to reading the Bible.  My struggles and inadequacies are not meant to defeat me – they are meant to highlight my need for a Savior and send me into the loving arms of Christ.  I cannot conquer my anxiety on my own.  I have to lean on God and let him carry my worries for me.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

It’s not easy for me to turn my worries over to God.  It’s something I have to do on a daily basis.  Depending on the day, I might have to submit worries to God on an hourly basis.  It’s not just a one-and-done process.  I am constantly learning and growing in my faith and it will be that way until the day that I die.  But I know that if I am ever going to find peace, contentment, and rest I have to trust in my Creator.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Philippians 4:6-7

Please know that if you are struggling with worry and anxiety that you are not alone and there is certainly hope for you to find relief.  The verses I shared are just some of the many found in the Bible that talk about this issue.  Jesus himself addressed the problem of anxiety; that in and of itself provides a great deal of comfort.  I refuse to let the worries of life rob me of the joy I have in Christ.  He has given me so much to be thankful for and enjoy.

Linked to these great blogs: Serving Joyfully, Equipping Godly Women

You’re Positively Glowing

My pregnancies were not what I was expecting while I was expecting.  They weren’t laced with complications (I am extremely thankful for that), but it wasn’t a breeze for me either.  I didn’t enjoy all the parts of pregnancy the way I thought I would.  Don’t get me wrong, I was always, always thrilled to be pregnant.  I have loved my little ones from the moment I found out I was pregnant – both times – with a fierceness I didn’t even know existed.  Again, I am in no way saying that I hated pregnancy, it was a gift that I will always treasure…It was just different than I thought it would be.

Maybe I was oblivious to it before, but once I announced my first pregnancy, it was like people came out of the woodwork to share their own pregnancy horror stories.  At that point, I hadn’t started feeling any symptoms and I liked thinking that the next nine months were going to be nothing but unicorns farting rainbows while skipping through a meadow.  (I know that imagery is dancing through your head right now.)  We told our families we were pregnant very early – 1) we can’t keep secrets, 2) we were so excited.

Around Week 8, I started to feel queasy all of the time.  It was that I-think-I’m-going-to-throw-up-but-I-don’t-want-to-throw-up-but-I-might-feel-better-if-I-throw-up feeling…constantly.  My love of coffee is no secret, but after tossing that up several days in a row, I finally got it through my thick skull that I had to break up with my favorite brew.  It made me so sick that I didn’t even mind parting ways with it.  People would say, “Jess, you are just glowing!”  I was so unbelievably happy, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they weren’t referring to the sheen of sweat that was constantly on my brow due to my nausea.

I was still waitressing when I was first pregnant with JJ.  By this time, I was keenly aware that I had developed super powers – a heightened sense of smell and a sensitive gag reflex.  This is a poor combo for a waitress.  I would drop food off at tables and run off for fresh air.  If I couldn’t make it to the fresh air in time, I would text my co-workers from the bathroom to ask them to keep an eye on my tables for a few minutes.  Thankfully, they always had my back.  I started a job at the local hospital when I was 15 weeks, so at least I wasn’t bombarded with these smells throughout the pregnancy.  But to be fair, hospitals are full of their own funky smells.

By the time my second trimester rolled around, my third super power would make itself known – raging hormones .  I was an aggressive, emotional wreck.  I had just started to show, and while I was excited about that, it was like a magnet for everyone else who was also pregnant or had ever been pregnant.  Women would come up to me and ask me how I was feeling.  I would explain that I was so excited, but I felt pretty rotten so far.  That’s when they would say things like, “What!?  I have never felt more healthy and wonderful in my life then when I was pregnant!”  Congratulations – I just mentally punched you in the face.  With the hormones coursing through my veins, they were lucky it didn’t turn into a real punch.  Like I said earlier, people come out of the woodwork to talk about pregnancy and I knew tons of people who were experiencing the symptoms that I was.  It made me feel so much better once I realized that I wasn’t alone.

17 weeks and sick as a dog    17 weeks and sick as a dog

The emotional roller coaster I was riding didn’t help things.  It was like I was being forced to watch those SPCA commercials with Sarah McLaughlin singing “In the Arms of the Angels” over and over again.  One time I was craving Taco Bell, so I went there on my lunch break and started crying in the drive-thru.  I have no idea why I was crying, I just was.  I was crying when I ordered my food and then when I pulled around to pay and pick it up, the workers just kept asking me what was wrong and if I was ok.  I couldn’t tell them why I was crying because I didn’t even know. And no, I didn’t think I was ok – I thought a major screw was loose somewhere in my brain.  Just give me my stinkin’ burrito so I can get out of here!

Thanks to meals from Taco Bell and the lasagna that I washed down with orange juice, I began getting heartburn for the first time in my life.  Several hours after the lasagna and orange juice debacle, I thought I was going into cardiac arrest.  This is no joke – the heartburn lasted for THREE DAYS!!  I had to sleep sitting up and there was nothing I could do to make it go away.  The doctor told me that Tums were safe to use, but I should avoid red sauce and acidic foods and drinks (i.e. lasagna and orange juice). I had heartburn throughout both pregnancies and by the end of my pregnancy with Jett, JJ would point to the bottle of Tums on the counter and call it “Mommy’s candy.”  It was so necessary.

My cravings were not too crazy, but pregnancy hunger is unlike anything I have ever experienced.  When you get hungry, you have to eat immediately or else it becomes so overpowering that you can’t function.  This is the weird thing about being pregnant – you can feel sick yet simultaneously want to eat everything in sight.  For example, one night Jeff and I were out and about and we both decided that a stop at Cold Stone Creamery was a great idea.  My sensitive gag reflex kicked in and something made me run for the bathroom.  I puked, rallied, got back in line and ordered some cake batter ice cream.  “Gotta Have It’ size, please!  That would never happen with the stomach flu.  When I get the stomach flu, I convince myself that I can go without food for the next 48 years.

During my second pregnancy, I got headaches that turned into migraines.  At one point, I had five migraines from one Monday to the next.  The doctor said that I could take baby aspirin.  Sure, that will help.  They started to go away about halfway through, but it was such a rough stretch to overcome.  When the migraines subsided, my blood pressure started to go up.  I have always had relatively low blood pressure.  One day I was sitting at work and I suddenly felt like I was going to pass out. My face was flushed, I could barely focus, and I felt so weak.  There really wasn’t anything that could be done.  I didn’t have preeclampsia or gestational diabetes.  I was just told to drink plenty of water and rest.  The water I could do, but resting while working full-time and raising a toddler was impossible.  I just powered on through.

One morning I woke up and I had such terrible pain in my pelvis.  I could barely lift my legs to put my pants on.  I thought something was seriously wrong so I called my doctor.  The poor doctor was on speed dial at this point, but when it came to the health and safety of my baby I wasn’t going to take any chances.  I told her that it hurt worse than my arm did when it was broken and it felt like I had been kicked in the crotch thousands of times.  She said that my pelvis hurt due to the position the baby was in, but also because my pubic bone was essentially breaking.  It was separating in order to prepare for birth.  Say what!?  I had to waddle from there on out just to relieve the pain.  I always thought that pregnant women waddled because they were getting bigger.  Not me – I waddled because my crotch hurt too much to walk normally.

I also experienced incontinence for the first (and hopefully last) time ever.  No sneeze was safe with me.  One evening, I was dressed to go to dinner and sneezed as I was coming down the stairs.  I didn’t even finish the flight, I just turned around and went back to my room to change my pee pants.  Another time, I barfed and peed my pants at the same time. I am so glad that I was home when this happened; although, I did learn to bring a change of pants with me to work just in case.

39 weeks...still working39 weeks…still working

When I reached the last few weeks of pregnancy (with both kids), I just wanted them to come out.  The anticipation was so great and my body had been through enough.  I never would have wanted to go into labor if I thought it wouldn’t be safe, but around week 37 I started to pray that it would happen at any time.  During one of my last appointments, I asked my doctor what I could do to naturally induce labor.  She was a straight shooter and said that the best way to get the baby out was to do the same deed that got them in there in the first place.  That’s when I looked at my OB/GYN and asked her point-blank if she was doing drugs.  I guess the baby was just going to stay in there a little bit longer.

Pregnancy is one of the strangest, craziest, most wonderful things I have ever experienced.  It’s one of the only things in my life that at times felt like torture, yet I would happily go through it again.  There were so many things to enjoy and look forward to in the midst of all the sickness.  There is nothing quite like hearing your baby’s heartbeat.  I cried every time I heard it with both boys.  It was amazing and reassuring and it gave me the strength to get through the toughest parts of my pregnancy.  We decided to find out the gender with both pregnancies.  I felt like I needed to know so that I could plan things a little better and so that I could call our little ones by their names.  As you know, we have two boys.  I didn’t have a preference either time, but the sheer joy I felt when I could see our guys on the ultrasound monitor was overwhelming.  Again, I cried.  Don’t even get me started on what it was like to feel their kicks and movements.  I still daydream about what those kicks felt like and how precious they were to me.

The cherry on top was that both of my labors were quick and way less dramatic than the nine months that preceded it.  I delivered two healthy baby boys and have thanked God every day for his abundant blessings.  I can laugh about my pregnancy experiences now because I know how completely worth it everything was.  This stuff is small potatoes compared to what some women go through.  I don’t know if I’ll ever experience pregnancy again (Jeff says no), but if I do I’ll know what to expect while expecting.

One of my all-time favorite pictures...I'm glowingOne of my all-time favorite pictures…I’m glowing

Easy Like Sunday Morning

There is nothing easy about my Sunday mornings.  In fact, Sunday mornings are the hardest mornings of my week.  Even though I get up early and go to work Monday-Friday, my husband is at home with the boys so I do not have to get them up and ready to go anywhere.  I only need to get myself ready and out the door.  Except on Sundays.

Easy like Sunday morning

Clearly, I am not the first person to think this, but I have often said that the individual who wrote the song ‘Easy Like Sunday Morning’ either didn’t have kids and/or didn’t take those kids to church.  Some Sundays go smoothly, but not without a ton of effort.  Other weeks, Satan is sitting back and laughing his head off at me.

Most of the time, Jeff does not work until Sunday afternoon so he is there to help me get the kids ready and go to church with us.  However, there are times that he works in the mornings and those Sundays look a little like this:

If Jeff has already left for work, then I am left to get myself showered and dressed while simultaneously feeding the kids.  Ultimately, I would be able to shower before they wake up, but that doesn’t always happen.  JJ has a Lightning McQueen light in his room with a timer and he is not allowed out of his room until it turns on.  It is set for 7:05am (we need to set that back a little bit).  He likes to come into our room around 6:30am and declare that the light is broken because he is awake but the light is not yet on.  We check the clock and realize that the light is ‘broken’ because the timer hasn’t turned it on.  I take him back to bed and snuggle under my covers again.  A couple minutes later JJ comes back in and says that he is sooo hungry and thirsty.  He’s not old enough to get his own drink and snack yet, so I get up because he will certainly try to get his own drink and snack if I do not help him.

By the time he is situated, Jett wakes up.  I go up to his room and he is standing in his crib all smiles.  He is such a happy guy when he wakes up!  He is saying something to me and it sounds like ‘dirt’ followed by ‘poop.’  I peer into his crib and realize that he is talking about the massive poop he just had that leaked out of his diaper and got smeared all over his mattress and blankets.  Jett keeps pointing to it and saying ‘dirt.’  This requires immediate action.  Jett is taken to the bath tub and scrubbed down and the sheets are thrown into the washer.  I get Jett settled into his high chair with some breakfast.  After glancing at the clock I find that I am now running late.  Now that Jett is occupied with food and JJ is playing, I jump into the shower and try to make it quick.

I try to find something decent to wear.  I get sick of dressing up because I do that all week and sometimes I just want to be comfortable.  I throw on a pair of white shorts and a summer-ish sweater.  Back downstairs, I get Jett out of the high chair and find something to keep him occupied while I attempt to dry my hair and put on some makeup.  As soon as I turn on the hair dryer, Jett comes busting through the bathroom door.  He tries to play with the toilet water so I have to turn of the hair dryer to get him away from the toilet.  My luck, I would drop that thing in there while it was still turned on.  Since he succeeded in reaching the toilet water before I could stop him, I now have to clean up both him and the floor.  Thankfully, it was clean water (sometimes JJ forgets to flush).  Jett has moved on to the contents underneath the sink.  He grabs my brush and brushes his hair.  I flip my hair over to continue drying it and when I flip it back over I scream because Jett has found a razor that he is now playing with.  Why are there razors in reach of the kids!?  Obviously, I take it away from him and continue trying to dry my hair.  The next thing he finds is my nail polish.  Again, why is this under the sink!?  He runs off with it and I have to chase him down to get it back.  While Jett is often happy, he will throw temper tantrums when he doesn’t get what he wants.  He screams and slams the two nail polish bottles he is holding together and one of them breaks all over the floor.  I clean all the glass up first and then wipe up all of the polish.  The silver lining here is that it was not spilled on the carpet so it doesn’t take too much effort to clean up.  I decide that my hair is dry enough – I don’t know how to style it anyway, it’s either in a ponytail or straight down.  I would like to put a little bit of makeup on, though. I don’t want to scare the people at church.

It takes me two minutes to slap on some makeup while JJ is asking me to “stop getting all makeup-y and doing lady things.”  He says, “I like it better when you’re stinky.”  He might prefer me to be stinky, but he likes to pretend that he wears deodorant.  I let him pretend to put some on and he declares that he is now ready for church because he “smells like a man.”

Time continues to tick away and the boys are still not dressed.  JJ insists that he should be allowed to go to church naked.  He doesn’t feel like wearing clothes today.  Personally, I believe this takes the ‘come just as you are’ concept a little further than intended.  I pick out an outfit for him, but it’s not the right outfit.  He says that he is going to pick out his own outfit and I let him go and do that while I dress Jett.  After Jett is dressed, JJ comes back downstairs with the most random, mismatched outfit he could have found – sweatpants, a striped polo shirt, and a sweater vest.  It’s summer, plus that outfit is not going to happen for a variety of other reasons.  We eventually reach a compromise and get him dressed.  I throw the poopy sheets into the dryer and we head out the door!

Somewhere along the line, stopping at Dunkin Donuts became a tradition/necessity.  Because of the craziness, I neither had breakfast nor coffee.  If I were to go without either of those things, the world would be in big trouble.  I choose coffee over food and get the boys a little snack.  JJ usually gets hash browns and attempts to yell his order into the drive-thru speaker.  Jett gets some donut hole munchkins.

Give him a donut and he'll love you forever.

By the time we get to church, Jett is covered in glazed donut residue and JJ is a little greasy from the hash browns.  Bonus!!! It’s now raining!  The parking lot in relation to the building is not exactly ideal.  There is no way I can use an umbrella while carrying Jett and holding JJ’s hand. I have my purse, a diaper bag, and my precious coffee in tow as well. I can’t make use of the underpass because I can’t leave the boys by themselves while I park and I don’t have time to take them to their classes and hold up the traffic heading into the underpass.  I can only imagine how ridiculous we look as we fumble our way into the building.  I get the boys off to their classes and head to my own Sunday School class.  After Sunday School, I try to stealthily check on the boys without them seeing me and they are both having fun and playing.

During the worship service I start to cry.  While Jeff isn’t there this week, he usually makes fun of me because I cry while we sing almost every single Sunday.  He says that people are going to start thinking that I have a horrible life and suspect him of treating me poorly.  I don’t really know what my deal is, but I assume it has something to do with how raw and vulnerable I feel while worshiping God.  The worship service is time I use each week to reset and refresh.  It’s like the week has caught up to me and all the stress I am feeling comes out in the form of tears.  It’s borderline embarrassing, but that doesn’t seem to keep me from getting emotional.

Most Sundays Satan tries to do everything he can to keep us from church.  I will roll over and hear him whisper, “Just go back to bed.  You get up early every day of the week, you deserve a day to sleep in.”  I hear him again when I am trying to wrangle the boys.  “Wouldn’t it just be easier if everyone stayed in their pajamas and watched TV all morning?”  He comes to me yet again before we leave. “It’s raining.  You don’t really want the hassle of getting the kids into church by yourself do you?”

All I can say is that it is by the grace of God that we make it to church each week.  Jeff and I have purposed in our hearts that this is a top priority for our family and we power through whatever may be going on to make sure that we are in church every Sunday.  Of course, if any of us are sick we stay home, but other than that we are there.  We decided as soon as we had kids that we could not afford to have a relaxed church attendance policy.  If we had the attitude that it wasn’t important to worship God or enjoy the fellowship of other Christians, then how could we expect our own children to come to faith in Christ and want to go to church?  There are too many things in this world at war for our minds and hearts.  We need to stand firm in our faith and teach our children to do the same.  Just as we make church a priority, praying with our kids and teaching them God’s Word are also a priority.  Obviously, we want our kids to one day share our faith.  This is a choice that they have to come to on their own, but we teach them about our beliefs and make a point to know what it is we believe in.  It’s not just enough to say that we are Christians – are we living out our beliefs?

It’s no coincidence that on the Sundays that require the most effort to get out the door, I almost always receive the biggest blessing when I walk through the doors of the church.  Whether it is a message that seems like it was meant directly for me, an encouraging word from a friend, or the chance to share the gospel with a child I am teaching in Children’s Church, something always happens that reinforces my faith and my need to be there.  It doesn’t matter how we get there, or how haggard I may look and feel.  It doesn’t matter that my kids usually have some form of bed head or Dunkin Donuts stain on their clothing.  It doesn’t matter if I am dressed up or dressed down.  It only matters that we are there.

Going to church used to seem like a simple act of faith.  During this stage of my life, Sunday mornings may not be easy, but going to church is still one of the most important things we do each week.  It’s not easy but it’s definitely worth it.

Linked to these great blogs: Equipping Godly Women

What a Blessing Looks Like

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – nothing in my life thus far has challenged me and blessed me like parenthood.  I love it.  There are times when I need to stay in the bathroom a few extra minutes so I can let the tears stop rolling down my face and there are times when I can’t stop laughing because we are being so crazy together.

This is for the times when we need a hug, a smile, an encouraging word. These are the people who provide me with a hug, a smile, an encouraging word.

I’ve always known that my parents are amazing.  Now that I am a mom, I have been able to experience their blessings in a whole new way.  When we lived out-of-town, they would make the hour and fifteen minute drive at least once every other week.  They knew that it was difficult for us to not only pack up two little ones, but afford the gas used to come to their home. Usually they would bring a box of diapers and wipes or buy us dinner.  My dad works a very rough schedule, but on his days off he would come to visit us and take us for lunch.  When I was on maternity leave he would watch the boys so I could go to Barnes and Noble, grab a cup of coffee and a minute of silence.  On numerous occasions he would grab my car keys without me noticing and go to pick up some food.  The next time I jumped in my car I would see that the gas tank was suddenly full.

My mom will go to the outlets with a friend and will just happen to come back with clothes for the boys and a sweater for me.  She’ll just say, “Oh, they were having a sale!”  If she is going to the grocery store, it is not uncommon for her to text me and ask if we need anything.  Even if I tell her we don’t need anything, she will usually bring pretzels, goldfish, or Teddy Grahams to our house whenever she comes over.  The boys and I were in Walmart a few weeks ago and ran into my mom there.  It was not planned, but my mom took the boys around and let them pick out a bunch of goodies.  They were thrilled and my cabinets were filled!

In fact, they are so helpful that they invited us to live with them during our move here.  We ended up staying with them for almost 8 months.  While no one wants to move back in with their parents, the option to move here would have been nonexistent had we not been able to live in their basement.  It was a little unnerving at times, but there were no fights and we all still have a great relationship.  Now, they will often stop by our house and bring the boys their favorite pizza or take them to see the trains at the train station.  They don’t hesitate to help out if I have to work late and need someone to watch the boys for a bit.  They are always there to ease these stressful situations.

Our budget is tight.  My parents know this and have been there and done that themselves.  Their faithfulness with both the large and small things has always been evident to me.  Growing up, I had no clue the amount of sacrifice my parents were making for my sister and I.  I will never forget the day that my parents paid off their house.  I think I was around 12 or 13 years old.  My dad bought my mom a card and inside he thanked her for her willingness to go without and for the fact that she never complained about the circumstances.  He mentioned that he will always remember how at one point she only had two dresses for church, but would rotate them each Sunday.  I cannot tell you the impact this has had on me.  It gives me such hope to know that this is only a stage of life that we are going through and most likely things will get easier.

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Their godly example of perseverance and wise decision-making is the blueprint that we try to follow with our own family.  We know that times are tough, but we know that we are blessed no matter the circumstances.  I’ve mentioned mostly monetary and material ways that my parents have given to us, yet the most important thing they do for us is lift us up in prayer.  I know that they pray daily for Jeff and myself, our boys, and my sister and her family.  They celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this summer and have a lot of wisdom to share.  It means so much to me that I can go to them for advice and encouragement and I know that they will be honest with me and will have something to offer from a biblical perspective.  It keeps me grounded and focused on what is most important in life.  When I am having a rough day, I will often get a text from my mom asking how the boys are doing.  Then she’ll usually say something like, “They are so precious and you are so blessed.”  She may not even know that particular day had been a struggle, but her words always hit home.

The whole family

The whole family

I may be blessed because I am a wife and a mother.  But I am equally blessed because I am the daughter of my incredible parents.  Thank you for exemplifying what it means to be a blessing in the lives of others.  My hope and prayer is that I can pay it forward the way you have shown me over the years. I love you both so much!

Bedtime Routine

Ah, the bedtime routine. First of all, why do we call it a bedtime ‘routine’? Sure, I try to keep things consistent, but my kids are bound and determined to shake it up every night. The term should be renamed to something like ‘bedtime attempts’ or ‘bedtime challenge.’ We could have a perfectly lovely day, but as soon as bedtime rolls around let the games begin.

Thankfully, once my boys are asleep, they usually stay asleep. They might get up early, but at least they will sleep through the night. Trust me, I know I am fortunate. It’s the part before they sleep that makes me feel like I am a tri-athlete in training; it takes an exorbitant amount of endurance to get them settled down.

Let’s use this recent night as an example:

JJ didn’t nap during the afternoon. That is my first clue that things are not going to go well. He comes downstairs at 3:30, sits beside me on the couch and says, “How about we just sit here and talk.” I have already been up and down the stairs to his room multiple times and I have hit my limit so he just stays up with me.

After Jett gets up from his nap, we play, make dinner, and play some more. We also take a walk and get plenty of fresh air. Good times!

This leads us to bath time. Once again, Jeff is at work so I have to bathe both boys at the same time. They fight over which bath toys they get to play with. They dump water over each other’s heads. They pee in the water. They drink the dirty pee water. They pinch each other. They squirm away from me as I try to scrub the filth off of them.

bedtime

Finally, they are both clean-ish and I dry them off. Jett insists on brushing his teeth right after his bath. JJ likes to wait until it’s time to go to bed. I brush Jett’s teeth and go to get the boys dressed. JJ is in his room, balancing precariously on his train table and trying to reach into the top drawer of his dresser. He likes to dress himself, which I encourage, but he knows he is not allowed to get into the dresser this way. After catching him right before he falls, I grab his underwear and pjs and let him do the rest.

I take Jett to his room and grab a diaper. I have to wrestle him down in order to put it on. I forgot to grab his pjs before the wrestling match so I go do that while he runs down the hall. I chase him, wrestle him again, and only get his shirt on before he wriggles away from me again. Screw it. Its summer and he doesn’t need to wear the shorts. On a side note, I could probably be a WWE contender at this point.

Because Jett is getting into JJ’s stuff, we decide to go back downstairs for a snack and a TV show in order to wind down. JJ chooses an apple and Jett has baby apples (also known as grapes but we call them that because he can’t chew through apples very well yet and still wants to have an apple like his brother). Sheriff Callie is their go-to show lately. It’s a cute cartoon and very clean, but I cannot get the theme song out of my head for the life of me. We currently have 19 episodes recorded and I have seen them all 29375 times.

Jett finishes his grapes. JJ decides that he has eaten enough of his apple and gives it to Jett. JJ goes to play for a few minutes but then starts to toss stuff out of the toy box and I have to go calm him down and get him to put the toys away. I turn back to Jett and don’t see the apple anywhere. I ask Jett where it is and he says, “Gone.” I cannot find a remnant of this thing anywhere. I decide this means that my 18-month-old just ate the seeds, core, and stem of an apple for his bedtime snack. Awesome.

While I’m searching for the apple remains (which I don’t find), JJ dumps Legos. Seriously, what is the deal with the Legos!!! I remind him that he needs to pick those up in a few minutes, but he can play for now since I am going to take Jett up to bed. Jett grabs his blanket, which he calls ‘duck.’ It took us forever to figure out what he was saying, but then we realized that the blanket has a little duck on it in the one corner and our dear Jett had been calling it his duck because that was a word he could say. Precious.

So Jett, duck, and I head upstairs and rock in the rocking chair. Jett points to his bookshelf and says, “Book!” I pick one of his favorites – No, David – and begin to read. He grabs the book out of my hands and tries to read himself. “No, no, no, no,” he says on every page. Then he decides he’s had enough of that and gets down off of my lab and runs around his room. I’m not having it, so I pick him up, snuggle him close, and put him in his bed. He sees a play remote in his room and wants to have it. I give it to him because I know that he has no problem playing by himself until he falls asleep.

I go back downstairs and find that the recording of Sheriff Callie has now stopped and American Ninja Warrior is on. Just what my high-energy three-year-old needs to see. He is mesmerized. During the commercial, we clean up the Legos and head upstairs; however, it takes us longer than usual now that he is making an obstacle course out of everything because he wants to be just like the ninja warriors.

We finally make it to the bathroom where he must pee and brush his teeth. Once in his room, I read a few books, sing a few songs, and tuck him in. Again, he asks me a million questions to stall me from leaving. One of them was, “Why did the chicken cross the road?” My response was, “Is this a joke?” As it turns out, he was being completely serious. When you live in the country, you literally see chickens crossing the road and he wanted to know why the chicken that we saw on our walk tonight crossed the road.

I go downstairs and finish folding a load of laundry. I hear a lot of loud noises coming from upstairs so I go do damage control. Right off the bat I see that JJ’s bedroom light is on. His door is still closed, though. I let that go because the noise is actually coming from Jett’s room. He is banging that toy remote against his crib and running it along the bars as if he were in jail. He then throws it across the room. I just let it lie on the floor and kiss him goodnight. I turn the light out in JJ’s room and go back downstairs.

Two minutes later, JJ comes downstairs and says he has to go to the bathroom. He really doesn’t, but he knows this is the only excuse he can give to get out of bed without punishment. Back to bed he goes. Another two minutes pass and he comes back downstairs. This time he tells me that he can’t sleep because he realized that his fingernails are not all the same length and it’s bothering him. I told him that we just cut his nails a few days ago and they are fine. Back to bed. Another two minutes pass and he comes back downstairs for a third time and says he has a secret to tell me. He gets right next to me and whispers in my ear that he needs to go to Jamaica because that is where he can find pants and a khaki shirt to fit him.

I think back on all the things that JJ ate and drank that day and decide that he can’t be drugged, yet that is the only possible explanation for the level of weirdness coming out of his mouth right now. Where does he come up with this stuff??? How does he know about Jamaica??? Doesn’t he know that chambray shirts are in right now and not khaki???

I am laughing too hard to thoroughly discipline him. I take him back up to bed and tell him he better not open that door. He is clear on what punishment awaits him if he disobeys.  Thankfully, he listens and does not get out of bed again.

What I need to take to heart is that the bedtime routine is very important work. I am wrapping up our day and making the boys feel safe and secure for the night. As with most things in parenthood, I know my consistency will pay off in the long run. I love that Jett wants his ‘duck’ and then will snuggle on my left shoulder and suck his right thumb while he settles down for bed. I can’t get enough of his sweet little boy smell and his chubby little arms around my neck. I love that JJ just wants me to hang out with him. I know that he is just trying to delay going to bed, but many times we have our best conversations while I’m tucking him in at night. Sometimes I have allowed him to stay up way past his bedtime just because I want to see where his imagination is taking a topic. He is so creative and hilarious! If Jeff is home, he will often come up and see what all the commotion is about because JJ and I are giggling so loudly.  The best part is that I will give him a hug and a kiss and head to the door and he’ll say, “Mom, one more thing! I just want to give you another big hug! You’re my girl!”  That just can’t be beat.

To the Mothers of Daughters

I am the mother of two incredibly handsome and energetic sons.  I have no daughters.  I LOVE raising boys!  My boys are enthusiastic, creative, and hysterical.  They are the bees knees and are just so fun to be around (most of the time).  I don’t feel that I am missing out on anything by not having a daughter and if we choose to have more children, I wouldn’t be ‘trying’ for a girl.  I don’t really know how you ‘try’ for a specific gender anyway – it’s completely ordained by God.

What I didn’t realize before having my boys is that there are too many women – myself included – who are terrified of losing their sons one day.  We do not want to become the dreaded mother-in-law.  We don’t want to be the other woman who our sons and their future families are obligated to spend time with every now and then.  To my mind, society perpetuates these stereotypes and makes the situation worse than it needs to be.  In order to stop this madness, here is my petition and promise to the mothers of daughters – daughters who will someday be my daughter-in-laws:

1. Tell her that I am not the enemy.  Please teach your daughters from an early age that I am not their enemy and I am not out to get them.  I do not want to compete with them in any way, shape, or form.  The roles that we play in my sons’ lives will be very different and they are meant to be different.  The last thing I want is for us to be pitted against one another.  We are on the same team, we just play different positions.

2.  Tell her that I love her.  Odds are that I do not know my future daughter-in-laws yet.  But I want to be very clear about this – I already love them.  Obviously, my sons will love them, too, and will love them so much that they will commit to spending their entire lives with them.  I promise to raise my sons in such a way that they will make wise choices in this regard.  As a result, I can say with confidence that I already love your daughter.

3.  Tell her I will not try to be her mom.  Your daughter already has a mom – you.  You are doing a great job and for that I am very grateful.  I do not need to fill that role in her life, so I don’t plan to.  My goal is to be her friend and encourager.  I dream of having the kind of relationship where I can take her out for lunch and then go shopping for a few hours.  I want to have her over for coffee and dessert – you can come too.  I don’t get much girl time now, so I am very much looking forward to it with her.

4. Tell her that I respect her.  When your daughter becomes my daughter-in-law, she will already be a fully grown woman.  She will be starting out on a new journey as the wife of my son and will be trying to figure all kinds of things out.  There will be choices that she wishes she could take back and ones that she will be grateful she made.  I will have her back.  I know that at the end of the day, she is always making decisions based on what she feels is best for her family.

5. Tell her I remember.  Please let your precious daughter know that I remember what it’s like to be a wife and a new mom.  In fact, I am writing this to you while I am in the midst of a crazy time in life (her future husband is a toddler and he’s nuts but we’re working on it).  I know full well what it is like to be ‘in the trenches’ of motherhood.  I will not judge her, but will be there to lend a hand, give her a hug, and bring her some fresh coffee for goodness sake!  I am not naive to the fact that everything will change in the game of parenting by the time I am a grandmother.  Unsolicited advice will not come from me because I would not want to receive it myself.  However, she is always free to ask me any questions and I will be there.

6.  Tell her that I pray for her.  Everyday.  My sons are 1 and 3 and I pray for the two women they will marry each and every day.  Yes, her future father-in-law thinks I am crazy and I’m sure he hasn’t given any of this much thought – but I have.  I pray for your daughter just like you pray for her.  I pray that she would come to find faith in Christ and will be a woman among girls.  I pray that she will be strong and confident and will build others up rather than tear them down.  I pray the same thing for my sons.

7. Tell her that I am working hard to raise a godly man for her.  Our society doesn’t place much weight on being a godly man (or woman) these days, but I do.  I am working my tail off to ensure that my sons will one day grow to be godly men who lead and take care of their families.  It didn’t take long for it to become apparent to me that this is a daunting task.  Nevertheless, I work each day to discipline and love my boys and teach them about the love of their Savior.  I want to ensure that your daughter never has to worry about the morality of my son or whether or not he will do everything he can to provide for and protect her.

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I once heard the term ‘mother-in-love’ used instead of ‘mother-in-law.’  I thought it was corny (I still kind of do), but I loved the meaning behind it.  It’s my goal to be a loving and encouraging friend in your daughter’s life.  I will do all that I can to stick to the promises I have made and I trust that you will, too, dear mothers of daughters.