No Bathroom Left Behind

bathroom

My children are on a self-imposed journey to visit every bathroom east of the Mississippi River. They have conspired together and are determined to make this happen. It doesn’t matter if we are in our hometown or traveling – we must check out any and all bathrooms.  There will be no bathroom left behind.

The kids know that if they mention that they have to go to the bathroom, I will move mountains to find them a toilet immediately. This is due to the fact that children don’t mention their need to go until they are a sneeze away from soiling themselves. I can prompt them to go before we leave the house, but if they are otherwise preoccupied, forget about it.

Case in point, we were leaving my parent’s house recently and getting ready for the 20-minute drive back home. I told my 4-year-old to go to the bathroom before we left. He said that he did and we drove away. I stopped for gas and when I did so, he began to yell through the window at me that he had to go NOW. I finished filling up the tank, unbuckled both boys from their car seats, and hustled them into the gas station. The cashier showed us the back room that housed the toilet and I told my son to go.

“Mom, it smells horrible in here! It smells like old toots!”

“Yes, it does smell bad.”

“I can’t go! I’m going to barf. I can’t pee, I can’t pee!”

This is when I tried to take a deep breath (then regretted it because of the awful stench) to calm down. I was holding my 2-year-old who kept grabbing on to a rusty pipe and then popping his thumb in his mouth. He’s up-to-date on his tetanus so he should be fine. Anyway, I managed to keep my cool as I said to my oldest, “You are going to need to find a way to put some pee in that toilet. We are 6 minutes from our own bathroom and you told me that this had to happen now. Make it happen.”

Two drops of pee made it into the toilet. But at least we know what the bathroom looks like at the local Sunoco station.

A few weeks later, we were traveling the hour-and-a-half to my in-laws over Memorial Day weekend. Again, I hear from the backseat that nature was calling and it was calling hard. We had to drive ten more minutes before we could reach the nearest public toilet. Do you know where that toilet happened to be? Boalsburg, PA – the birth place of Memorial Day. Do you know where you do NOT want to randomly stop on Memorial Day weekend? Boalsburg.

As it turns out, it was a false alarm. But the boys can cross the Boalsburg Mart bathroom off of their list of places to see.

We recently took a long trip to South Carolina and back for vacation. Normally, we drive through the night so that the kids are sleeping and the trip doesn’t feel as long to them. However, my husband and I decided that this year we had no desire to struggle to stay awake and then figure out who had enough energy to take care of the kids once we reached our destination. As a result, there were more bathroom breaks.

I always love it when my 2-year-old insists that he use the restroom. He still wears a diaper and I can’t get him interested in using the toilet at home to save my life. As soon as we go somewhere, he immediately wants to visit the bathroom. Part of me feels like saying, “Just go in your pants!” But a bigger part of me wants him to learn to wipe his own butt. So we journey into the restroom where he attempts to unroll the toilet paper and then we all get covered in soap and water because holding up a small child so that they can ‘wash’ their hands is a nightmare.

It’s all worth it because the Buffalo Wild Wings in a random Virginian town is now one less bathroom for us to visit.

Sometimes I’m the one who needs to use the bathroom. On long trips, I try to go as long as possible but that is dangerous because you never know when you might get stuck in traffic. For example, on our recent trip down south, I took over the wheel and about an hour later realized I could use a bathroom break. I didn’t want to stop so soon, so I continued on. At one point, I saw a beautiful rest stop that looked like it was part of a day spa. We were seven hours into our drive and I really could have used some cucumber water and a ten minute neck massage! But no, I soldiered on only to see a sign a mile down the road that said, “Next Rest Stop – 108 Miles.”

Grrrreat. It’s just me, the road, and a handful of shady Exxon’s between my bladder and a decent toilet. If my option is retrieving a key from a gas station worker so that I can walk around to the back of the building to pee in a room that looks like it should be taped off for a crime scene investigation or just hold it, I think I’ll hold it.

Once we reached our destination, the kids were able to hit up more bathrooms than I can even mention. They’ve got to be making great headway with their list.

At one restaurant, the boys took turns making trips with me. My oldest locked the door and then crawled out the bottom rather than unlocking it. Nope, you need to crawl back under and unlock that thing and then I need to wash your clothes as soon as possible now that you crawled all over a bathroom floor. My youngest kept hugging the weird statue that was in the corner of the bathroom and then we both got drenched during the hand-washing portion of the bathroom visit.

*I would like to take a brief moment to discuss family bathrooms.  These seem like a great idea until you realize that your kid is tall enough to unlock the bathroom door and run out, leaving the door open while you are still on the toilet.  This may or may not have happened at Kohl’s.

While shopping, we made another trip to the restrooms. We walked in and my son, always feeling the need to comment on everything, said, “Someone is pooping in here!”

This was accurate, but I quickly explained that this is a bathroom and that’s what people do in bathrooms. Also, just zip your lip.

He just kept at it. “It’s smelly! Are they done pooping yet?” Judging by the orthotic sneakers I saw under the stall, I can only hope and pray that this woman was too hard of hearing to catch what was going on. Given the fact that my son must state everything at the loudest possible volume, especially things that he should keep to himself, I doubt she missed it. My apologies, innocent bathroom goer – but yet another venue has been crossed off of the list.

On the way back home, we stopped at a McDonald’s for breakfast and a quick stretch. The thing that baffled my mind was that this McDonald’s had a PlayPlace, but no diaper changing station in either restroom. Whaaaaat!? You have tried to accommodate the many children that will pass through your doors by offering a place to play, but you failed to allow their parents to change them?? C’mon, man! My oldest could go, but I had to wrestle my youngest in the front seat of the car in order to give him a fresh diaper. At least we put a check-mark beside that location.

The last time I asked the boys, we had only 4,796 bathrooms to go! Ain’t no stoppin’ us now!

 

*On a side note, there needs to be changing stations in men’s restrooms, too. Is it really that much of a shocker that men take their kids places by themselves? I don’t think so. I can’t tell you how many times my husband has not been able to change our children’s diapers in the men’s restroom because there is no option to do so. This is an easy fix, people!

I Don’t Want to be in the Trenches Today

trenchesofmotherhood

It was early on Saturday morning and I was already in a foul mood.  I had been coughed, sneezed, and snotted on too many times to count by 8am.  There is just something about wiping someone else’s mucus off of your face that will cause you to get up on the wrong side of the bed.

Not today.  I don’t want to be in the trenches of motherhood today.  I don’t want to be so heavily needed.

It’s not that I didn’t want to spend the day with my kids – I did.  I just wanted them to wipe their own butts, blow their own noses, properly brush their own teeth, cook their own meals, clean up after themselves, and use their inside voices.  And for the love of organization, I wanted them to just pick one or two toys out at a time rather than dump four bins and decide that they have nothing to play with!  I didn’t want to become the broken record that I am by the end of each day by repeating, “Be gentle.  Be careful.  Be kind.”

After a long week of working mommy, today was stay-at-home-mommy day.  I was girding my loins for a full day in the trenches when I felt so ill-equipped to be leading my troops.  My husband had a ten hour shift and the kids and all of my neglected housework from the week lay before me.  I just didn’t want to do any of it.

Before my husband left for work he could already sense my poor attitude.  I had raised my voice to one of the kids over something that really didn’t necessitate a raised voice.  He called me out on it.  While I knew he was right, I was less-than-thrilled that my weaknesses were being pointed out right in the middle of me displaying said weakness.  I accepted the accountability, but I did give him an icy stare-down for about 30 seconds.

My husband also pointed out that this was my day off and I look forward to stay-at-home-mommy day all week.  That’s when my thoughts overtook me.  Shouldn’t I be thrilled?  Don’t I know how blessed I am?  Aren’t there so many couples who would trade places with me in a minute?  Am I a horrible mother?  The thing is, recognizing how blessed I am only made me feel worse because I couldn’t seem to legitimize my feelings.

Then, as if on cue, Satan made sure that guilt (who he always has on-call) came to keep me company.

I finished my coffee with guilt, grabbed some lunch with guilt (and I severely burnt my tongue), and started the laundry with guilt.

Then something happened.

My oldest son went to spend some time with his grandparents and it was just me and my youngest who was fighting a nasty cough.  My little one coughed so hard that he threw up all over the living room.  Then he just stood there looking at me with his big, blue eyes saying “Mommy, mommy, help me!”

I was the only one who could comfort him and clean him up and assure him that it was okay and he would be fine.  He needed me and in that moment I was so glad that I could meet those needs.

When I got him situated, I suddenly felt like I was walking around without one of my limbs.  I realized that I missed my oldest son terribly and he had only been gone for a whopping ten minutes.  It turns out that I wanted to be needed after all.

I stopped what I was doing and prayed.  I begged God for forgiveness and prayed that He would give me strength and a change in my attitude.  I can’t do this parenting thing on my own.  The trenches can be downright suffocating and I’m truly not equipped to deal with all of these responsibilities every day.  But He is – God is the only one who can give me the ability to deal with life.  Not only that, but my feelings are legitimate to God.  He wants me to pour out my heart to Him rather than keep everything so bottled up that I fantasize about running away (I would never do that, but you know what I mean…maybe just a few hours alone in a bookstore).

I had to continue praying to get through all of my duties for the remainder of the day.  That and the four peanut butter melt-away Easter eggs that I may or may not have eaten seemed to do the trick.  I had a renewed sense of energy to tackle my housework and care for my sick son.  By the end of the day, my precious toddler was feeling better and he asked me to dance with him when he heard his favorite song in a movie.  We danced and twirled ourselves into a fit of laughter and it was amazing.

Not every day ends on a high note and not every day feels like I am deep within the trenches.  But, at this time in my life there are enough of those brutal days that can leave me feeling pretty discouraged if I let them.  I’m just going to refuse to let the hard times get me down.  This is far from my last rough day as a mother, but because I have Christ by my side for eternity I know that I will never be left to handle it on my own.

 

 

Observations from the Supermarket

supermarket

I can’t be the only one who has noticed and experienced these things while going to the supermarket.

Rules of the cart

Upon entering the supermarket, we grab a cart and then must decide who sits up front and who sits in the back. You know the little flap that covers the front seat of the cart? Well, if you actually look at it, it has several pictures on it displaying what you are NOT supposed to do and how kids are NOT supposed to ride in the cart. We ignore all of these rules. We have hung on to the sides of the cart. We sit on things in the cart. We stand in the cart. We unbuckle ourselves and stand up in the front seat of the cart. We even stand and hold our arms out like we are on the front of the Titanic while riding in the cart.  The only thing missing was Celine Dion’s sweet voice crooning over the loud speaker.

Yes, I know that this is dangerous, but I’m not at the store because it’s happy-fun time. I’m there with two kids by myself because we actually need things. If I did a pantry raid to see what items I can throw together for a meal, I would come up with a can of green beans and some stale cake icing. So, we must power through the supermarket and if that means we break every cart-riding rule, then so be it.

Tampons and acquaintances

Why is it that every time I need to go to the store by myself with both of my kids, it perfectly lines up with the few times a year when I have simultaneously run out of every personal hygiene and household product? Not only does this add extra time onto our trip to the supermarket, it also causes me to field a barrage of questions from my children.  It’s the perfect storm. I have one kid in the front seat hugging a package of pads and another kid in the back of the cart shaking a box of Tampax Sport.

“Mom, what is this? Is this lady stuff? How do you use these? Can I use them? Can you eat them?”

Now that I have stocked up on my ‘lady stuff’ I round the corner of the aisle to run into everyone I have ever known. Or at least a couple of guys from church.  How about we save the small talk for Sunday morning and not while my kid is waving my tampons in your face?

Out-of-stock

It just so happens that the only time I could fit in a trip to the grocery store was the day right before the trucks arrive to replenish the shelves. Seriously, I go down through my list and half of the items are nowhere to be found. Because of this, I get what I can now, but will have to find a way to make another trip back to the supermarket in a few days. What’s for dinner? I guess we are still having green beans and icing.

Consider it destroyed

I try to stay focused and motor through the store as fast as I can in the hopes that this experience will be less painful for everyone. In doing so, the kids have opened a box of cereal and a box of fruit snacks.  Now I know why they have been so quiet. On two separate trips, each one of my kids has gnawed through a package of bologna. True story.

I’m going to pay for these items anyway, but I still have a discussion with my kids about the fact that we haven’t paid for then yet so we can’t open or destroy them. I don’t think that a can has made it from the store to our home without being dented when my kids were along for the supermarket experience.

Staring Contest

It’s no secret that kids are observant and riding in a cart through the store gives them the perfect opportunity to people-watch.  Along with the gift of observation, my kids cannot whisper to save their lives and they also have little to no filter before speaking.  So this ends up happening: “Mom, her boobs – I mean chest – was coming out of her shirt!”  Little one overhears boobs and just repeats “boobies” loudly for several aisles.

“Mom, did you see that guy’s butt crack!?  He leaned over and I saw his butt crack!”  Annnd the little one is now saying butt crack instead of boobies.

I swear this is in no way indicative of the way I parent.  But I will give the private part speech again just in case.

How did this get here

I love when I get home and start to unpack the groceries only to find several random items that I have no recollection of purchasing. I forgot cheese and half of the stuff I need to pack my lunches for the week, but I now have the latest issue of Soap Opera Digest, some Ferrero Rocher chocolate, a vile of 5-hour energy, and that matchbox car one of them just had to have. Did I pay for this stuff? The receipt confirms that I did but all of this junk sneaked passed me.  Granted, the chocolate is a nice treat, but clearly my little ninjas were hard at work while I was unloading the cart in the checkout line. Why are the checkout lines so small and compact? I bet they were designed by someone who doesn’t have kids.

I can’t wait to do this all again in a few days.

 

5 Cleaning Tips for the Busy Mom

I am a neat freak and I want my home to be clean and organized – always.  I also want to be realistic.  With a toddler and a preschooler, the toys seem to multiply along with the peanut butter finger prints.  For the longest time, I was trying to keep things as clean as they were before we had kids.  I was also trying to stick to the same cleaning schedule but found that I just wanted to bang my head against the wall.  After a lot of trial and error, I came up with some tactics that work for me and keep me (mostly) sane while balancing family, work, and homemaking.  These tips may not be the right fit for everyone, so please keep that in mind.

homemaking

1. Clean something each day or most days.  I used to take a block of time each week or every other week to clean my house from top to bottom.  I tried to do this for a couple years after I had kids and just grew increasingly frustrated.  Who has three hours of uninterrupted time each week??? I work full-time and just cannot dedicate this much time to cleaning.  Even if I didn’t work full-time I wouldn’t have that much time to set aside.  For whatever reason, I was stuck on wanting everything to be cleaned at the same time.  When I let go of that idea I found that doing some type of cleaning task daily was much more feasible.  Now, I will take 10-15 minutes each day and focus on a task.  When I put the boys to bed, I will sweep and scrub the floors or clean the bathrooms.  I have not gotten to the point where each day has a specific assignment, but I clean the area that seems to need it the most.  With crumbs and potty training, the floors and bathrooms always seem to need the most attention.

I try to utilize the time that I have.  For example, if Jeff has the boys outside, I will take that time to run the vacuum upstairs and then I will go outside to join them.  I know that I can vacuum downstairs while they sleep, but I obviously can’t vacuum their bedrooms at the same time.  I consider the laundry to be part of my cleaning routine.  Again, I have found that for me it works best if I just do a load every other day rather than spend a whole day washing, drying, folding, and putting away.  This way, nothing piles up and it’s not nearly as overwhelming to put everything away.

2. Random pick-ups.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Legos are the worst.  Super fun to play with, but they can take forever to pick up.  I try to do several toy clean-ups each day so that it is not so overwhelming at bedtime.  This works best on weekends when I am home all day.  When the boys take their naps, I clean up their playroom and put things back where they belong.  They have to help me with this, but are still learning the concept of picking up after themselves.  I do the same thing when it is time for them to go to bed at night.  Some days, this is a fruitless effort but I still go for it.  Along with this, I try to rotate which toys are downstairs and which toys are in their rooms or the attic.  They still get to play with everything, but less toys equals less clutter.  I have also found that the boys get a little distracted with too many toys and they don’t play as well as a result.

3. Pick an area of focus.  For me, I like to have the downstairs area of our home clean and organized each night.  We don’t spend much time in our bedrooms; while I still want them to be neat and tidy, it’s not as much of an eyesore as it would be downstairs.  I would say that 70% of my downstairs cleaning is taken care of just by organizing the toys each night.  After that, I just wipe down the kitchen counters and dining room table.  If the dishes aren’t washed, I will take care of them and put them away in the morning.  I know myself well enough to know that I feel much more relaxed when I don’t look around and see a cluttered mess.

4. Little things make a big difference. Just by making your bed and folding the throw blankets in the living room, you will notice a major difference.  At the end of a long day, it makes me feel more relaxed when I can walk into my bedroom and see that it is put together.  Call me crazy, but it makes my room feel fresh and welcoming.  Simply folding blankets can make a space feel much less disheveled.  As a bonus, these are things that take very little time to accomplish. 

5. Lowered expectations.  It may not seem like I have lowered my expectations, but I have.  Things are not going to be perfect and they don’t need to be.  We live here.  If we are playing and having fun, I’m not going to put the toys away at nap time because the boys will want to play with the train track that they built when they wake up.  If we are away for the day and are too tired when we get home, then the dishes will be washed the following day.  I am trying to teach the boys how to clean and put things back where they belong.  So if they pick up their toys and they are not exactly neat, I just leave them where they put them.  For me, this has been huge.  They are proud of their effort and I need to acknowledge their work. I am still working through my desire to have everything ‘just so.’  There are days and times when some or all of these steps are skipped.  That’s okay and it’s certainly not the end of the world.

If you came to my home it would not be immaculate, but hopefully it would not be chaotic.  I am all about finding manageable ways to accomplish everyday tasks.  After trying many things, these steps have given me the greatest success.  For a long time I thought it was just impossible to clean with little kids, but now I know better.

Please do not think that I have it all together, because this is all a work in progress.  These are all ideas I got from various people and I would love to hear what you do.  If you are struggling to find a cleaning routine that works, don’t worry – you will get there!  Like I said, it took me several years to find what worked the best not only for me, but for my family and our lifestyle.  What are some of your favorite cleaning tips?  How do you clean with little ones?

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

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

The Doctor’s Office

Every time we take the boys to the doctor’s office for a check-up, I feel like we have to step up our game. I imagine that the doctor is going to give us some sort of award for being the best parents ever and having it together. When we leave, I want them to think that these parents know exactly what they’re doing.

The reality of the doctor’s office is much different. I leave work and walk over to meet Jeff and the boys at the appointment. My favorite part of this visit is the fact that my husband let Jett pick out one toy to bring with him to his check-up and Jett chose a toy syringe from his doctor’s kit. Hilarious foreshadowing.

jettdr

Jett, my youngest, usually needs to be wrestled to get his clothes off because heaven forbid we weigh the kid with a onesie on. Down to the diaper! So I lay him on the exam table and he squirms everywhere and rolls himself up in the crinkly paper while I continue to wrestle him. Any other time he would love to be naked, but not now. As soon as the doctor comes in he just starts to cry. It’s as if he already knows that shots are in his future.

Dr. B is super-nice, but Jett is convinced that his hands are made of razors and his eyes are daggers. If Dr. B glances in Jett’s direction, he cries. If he touches Jett to exam him, he wails. No shots have been administered yet. My kid isn’t even sick – it’s just a routine check-up. I should also mention that JJ, my three-year-old, is looking in the trash can, opening drawers, and generally just helping himself to various medical supplies in the room while this is going on. Jeff and I are trying to have a conversation with the doctor while preventing JJ from manhandling the exam room. (side note: When JJ goes for check-ups, it’s like that scene from ‘Elf’ when Buddy eats cotton balls and asks the doctor to explain what everything is.)

Once Jett receives his shots the game is over. We can’t do anything to calm him down. Then I notice that JJ has taken his shoes and socks off for who knows what reason. So now I must have another crinkle paper wrestling match with Jett to put his clothes back on while trying to calm him down. Then I need to put socks and shoes back on JJ but I can’t let go of Jett to do so because he has a death grip on my neck. Jeff and I switch kids and he attempts to calm Jett down while I take care of JJ.

I almost told the receptionist to bill me the co-pay rather than paying it there just so I could make a beeline for the nearest Dunkin Donuts (I have to find an incentive to make it through these things and coffee donuts do the trick). Suddenly Jett stops crying and I realize he has spotted the giant tub of lollipops on the counter. He digs in and grabs a massive handful. At this point, he can put them all in his mouth at once for all I care. He’s been screaming for what feels like several hours. It’s like a switch has been flipped and he no longer remembers why he was upset. Food is his love language.

We make our way to the car and everyone is happy. We start to drive away and another blood-curdling scream comes from Jett. JJ has reached over and grabbed several lollipops out of his hand. As it turns out, the screams for this infraction are way worse than they were for the shots.

My husband surprised me and had a Dunkin Donuts coffee waiting for me in the car (woohoo!). They drop me off at work and the boys go home as I wonder if the doctor will give us an award the next time.

No Nap Nightmare

I like to decompress on my ride home from work before I begin what I refer to as ‘second shift.’ If I’m lucky, the boys will still be napping and I’ll have a few minutes to myself to change my clothes, sort the mail, and begin cooking dinner. If I can transition from work to home calmly, then the evening goes much more smoothly. Tonight is not that night.

As soon as I open the door, the boys come running at me. The first thing out of JJ’s mouth is, “Hi Mommy! We didn’t nap very well.” Initially, I have a proud moment because my three-year-old properly used ‘well’ instead of ‘good’ in his sentence. But the more prominent thought I have is, “What level of hell awaits me this evening???” I can’t think about it too long because Jeff is giving me a kiss as he heads out the door for work. As usual, we have nothing stronger than tap water in the house so I’m going to have to face this night stone-cold sober and alone.

I put my purse and shoes away as Jett hugs my leg and simultaneously wipes his runny nose down the length of my thigh. Nooooo!!! I didn’t want to wash these dress pants yet. Everyone knows you can wear pants 33 times before they need to be cleaned. Speaking of laundry, since I am in the laundry room I look at the hamper and realize I might as well start a load of clothes now.

Once that’s done, I finally make my way into the dining room only to be greeted by shouts of JJ screaming, “Ewww, Jett pooped!” In the living room I find Jett wearing just a diaper and that diaper is pulled halfway down his butt, which is how JJ discovered he had pooped. Jett makes me work to change him these days so he immediately takes off and runs around the dining room table laughing hysterically while I chase him. There is a turd threatening to fall out of his diaper the entire time. I finally catch him and clean him up as I hear the Legos being dumped in the playroom. Legos are the worst.

This lasted for 2 seconds before they tackled each other.

This lasted for 2 seconds before they tackled each other.

Thankfully, I had prepped dinner this morning and Jeff had peeled some potatoes for me before he left for work. I put the finishing touches on our meal and pop it in the oven. I really need to get out of my work clothes and into my ‘play clothes’ as JJ calls them. I run upstairs and change as quickly as I can. When I come downstairs, JJ is in the bathroom and is attempting to wipe himself. He has already used what appears to be an entire roll of toilet paper and it takes me several plunges to get everything to flush.

After I thoroughly wash my hands, I head to the playroom to have some quality time with the boys. We build a tower with the Legos, play with tractors on the farm, make cupcakes and pizza at the toy kitchen, and in between all of this I am giving timeouts and taking toys away for the brother-on-brother death match that’s been going on ever since I’ve walked through the door. Some nights they are best buds and other nights they can’t be in the same vicinity without chaos ensuing.

I check on dinner, which isn’t ready, and suddenly everyone realizes they are starving. The whining starts. “Mommy, I am sooo hungry! I need a snack! Is the chicken ready yet? When are we having dinner? I want to eat!!!!” Somehow I am able to distract them long enough for dinner to finish cooking. After all that anticipation, I expect them to eat. Not tonight. Well, I shouldn’t say that. Jett housed his food, but he always does. JJ, on the other hand, sat at the table and started asking for a snack as soon as I said “Amen” after the prayer.

“You are not getting a snack. You literally have a full plate of food in front of you.”

“I don’t want chicken! I want Teddy Grahams!!!!”

“You need to eat your dinner.”

“NOOOO!!!”

Next, he begins to pound his fork on his plate and the table. He’s given a timeout and goes to sit on the steps. He is wailing. Two minutes ago he kept asking for chicken, now he has chicken and it’s the end of the world. He is not allowed to get up from timeout until he has calmed down. Jett needs more food at this point so I get him some more and make sure it’s cool enough for him to eat. JJ has calmed down and is back at the table. He is still insisting that he have Teddy Grahams immediately. Not gonna happen. After calling the food “yucky” and “gross” (he hasn’t tried a bite of it), he gets up from the table and declares that he is not eating it.

I am not going to try to reason or argue with him. I simply state our rule when it comes to dinner – if you didn’t try it or eat enough, you won’t get a snack until you do. We don’t make our kids finish their plates, but they need to eat what we consider to be enough food to be of nutritional value. If they don’t, we wrap up their food and keep it in the fridge until they get hungry again. They must eat this food before they can have anything else. We are aiming to teach them not to waste and to be grateful for the meals that are prepared for them.

JJ agrees to this rule. He gets down from the table and goes to play. I finally start to eat my food and realize that it’s now lukewarm. Ugh. I don’t feel like getting up from the table to heat it up, so I just eat it as-is. Jett is finally full, but he has started to throw his food off of his high chair. He is covered in potatoes and green beans, so I scrub him down and send him on his way. I clean up the floor and table, rinse the dishes, and go back to the playroom.

It looks nice outside so we decide to go out to the yard. We play on the swing set, dig in the dirt, and throw some balls around. JJ has his bike out in the yard, even though he doesn’t know how to ride it yet. He keeps saying that he wants to ride it down our hill. And I keep telling him no. Jett runs off and gets into some of Jeff’s tools, so as I am chasing him, JJ jumps on his bike and goes down the hill. Inevitably, he hits a divot and wrecks the bike. I run to him and make sure that nothing is broken. He’s still crying but he is fine except for a bloody nose. As soon as he finds out he’s bleeding he stops crying – he’s excited!

So proud of himself.

So proud of himself.

He has only one request of me. “Mom, are you gonna tell Dad that I bleeded!?” Yes, yes I will tell Dad. Dad is going to hear allll about this evening.

Now that we have been sufficiently covered in dirt and blood, we head inside for a bath. Because Jeff is at work, I have to bathe them both at the same time. Rarely does this go well and tonight is no exception. We make it through with only one kid getting peed on and only one kid crying. The crying wasn’t because of the pee – they thought that was hysterical.

Both kids are clean and in their jammies. We all snuggle on the couch, take a deep breath, and watch Sheriff Callie. After that, it’s time for Jett to go to bed. He takes it easy on me, grabs his blanket, and snuggles in his crib.

JJ and I play for a little bit longer and then I take him to bed. He requires off-key singing, back scratching, and answers to a million questions before he settles down.

I finally get downstairs and start to wash the dishes. I finish them and hear JJ coming down the steps. He has to pee. He goes to the bathroom and I put him back in bed. I pick up all the toys and put them back. Normally I would make the boys help with this, but that usually takes an awful lot of teeth-pulling and I just wasn’t up for the challenge tonight. Once that’s done, I vacuum the carpet and get out the mop to scrub floors.

JJ comes back downstairs. “Mom, I want to help you!” That’s sweet of you, but what you really want is just an excuse to be out of bed. I take him back and let him know that there will be consequences if he gets out of bed again. I finish mopping the floors.

Just as I am about to sit down, it dawns on me that I never put the clothes in the dryer. Great. I started that load five hours ago. Sure enough, it stinks! I just decide to rerun the washing machine and pray that I don’t fall asleep before it needs to go in the dryer.

It’s time to settle in on the couch when Jeff walks in. He asks me how my night went.

My night can best be described by this image of our living room and play room - a messy mess.

My night can best be described by this image of our living room and play room – a messy mess.

At this point, I’m so tired I feel like I can’t even form sentences. I give him a run-down and am sure to include that JJ ‘bleeded.’ Jeff asks why I didn’t just relax when the boys went to bed. As I always do, I explain that I can’t relax when there is still work to be done. Not only that, but if I wake up and the house is clean, it makes me feel like I truly have a clean slate for the day and keeps me from losing it.

I make my way upstairs to check on the boys and realize that while it was one heck of a night, I made it through. No matter what, God never fails. He always gives me just enough strength to make it through each day. I may not have any strength left over, but I had what I needed for tonight. I kiss their sweet, sleeping faces and know that I have so much for which to be thankful. Then I collapse diagonally on my bed and pass out. Jeff has to push me to my side when he comes to bed a few minutes later.

Tomorrow is a new day and hopefully it will be filled with great naps.

My House Smells like Poop

I would say 3-out-of-5 nights a week, I come home from work, open the door and either think or ask, “Did someone just poop?” Rarely is the answer yes. It took me a while, but I finally realized that my house just smells like poop. All of the time.

One time the odor was so bad, that both my husband and I were in our laundry/mud room searching for a dirty diaper. We honestly thought that JJ had grabbed his brother’s diaper after we changed him and chucked it behind the washing machine. Neither one of us could remember if we put the diaper in the garbage can and we didn’t want to go digging through it to find out. We couldn’t find anything behind the washer, but we also couldn’t figure out why such a foul smell was coming from the room where we keep our soaps. Granted, we keep our sweaty shoes in that room, but this was an unmistakable poop smell.

The next day I came home and Jeff had placed a fresh linen wall plug in the laundry room. Odor masked. Problem solved.

My mom will come over to the house and ask about the smell of my bathrooms. Mom, I assure you – the floor is scrubbed, the toilet is scrubbed, the rug has even been washed (JJ experiments a lot with his pee stream). It just always smells like poop. In case you are wondering whether or not we have a sewage issue, we do not. We have a potty trained toddler (most of the time) and a diapered toddler. So poop could literally be anywhere.

I am probably exaggerating the smell. I really do take care of my home – at least I try. But after changing what feels like 49857397 blowout diapers in the past few years, I always smell poop.

The worst is when I take great pains to look and feel presentable and then I get to work or church and swear that there is a skid mark somewhere on my shirt. This did happen once when I was at the grocery store, but I just kept on motoring because there were things we needed and it had already taken me about an hour of prep time to get to the store in the first place. I have also grocery shopped in the same store with vomit on my shirt and leaking breast milk. These things happened on different occasions. It’s a good thing we moved.

Candles are usually out of the question. Our boys love to climb and are naturally mini pyromaniacs, so it’s just an accident waiting to happen. I love the air freshener scents that come out in the fall, so last year I decided to treat myself to some from Bath & Body Works. I believe the scent I picked was Autumn Leaves and I commented to Jeff that in our house it was more like Autumn Fart. There was just enough of the pleasant scent mixed in with the poo. Sometimes you just gotta take the edge off.

fall candle

There are many things that I imagine I will dearly miss when my boys grow up. But I am fairly certain that these smells will not be one of them. The terrifying thing is that I just realized that once the poop smell is gone, the sweat and body odor phase will be right behind it.

Dear Lord, give me strength!