Running in your lane.

I have friends that do big things.

Like move across the world to help Iraqi refugees big.

Like being on broadway or TV shows big.

Like being the CEO of their own company big.

I LOVE getting to watch their journeys and cheer them on from afar but at times it makes me wonder what I’m doing. Because it doesn’t look big.

When I started staying home with our kids a couple of years ago it was a weird transition. I remember the first time I was filling out a form that asked for my employer’s name and I had nothing to put. I guess I’m employed by small humans that demand snacks and poop in their pants?

I know this is a limited season of life that I’ll be home with young kids. I kind of think of it as a really weird vacation. The most stressful part of my day is getting to preschool on time (not that stressful). I get to workout in the middle of the day at the gym. I take a shower after working out and change back into workout clothes because why would I wear pants that zip in my own home? It’s awesome yet strange all at the same time.

What I’ve come to realize is that this is my big thing right now. It looks way different from other people’s big things, probably because it’s covered in fecal matter and spit up.

We are all running a race and we all have a lane we are running in. Your lane may be climbing the corporate ladder, putting out a record, making the fastest PBJ sandwich ever, or getting partner at the firm.

Find your lane. Know what works in your lane. 

There are things I can’t do in my lane at the moment. There are awesome, great things I have to say “no” to because it’s not my season of life. One thing I have said “no” to is volunteering with my husband’s youth group. We have a million young kids (at least it seems like that) and it’s not the most feasible thing for me to be at every youth event. I like to think of myself as the white whale of the youth group actually. It’s ok and healthy to say “no” to things. If people don’t like your “no” tell them to step off your lane. I am thankful we are in a church that doesn’t try to tell me what should be in my lane and loves our family in the season we are in.

I’ve found my lane. It’s the loving on and playing with our young kids, working out at 10:00am, helping friends out, occasional writing, building community and supporting my husband lane.

I’m going to run like the wind in my lane. I hope you are running the race of your life in yours.

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First child vs. Third Child

When you have your first child you have all the time in the world to focus on them and their needs. Your world revolves around them. When you have your third child things change. You are just making it, nothing is perfect, but you know that they will be just fine regardless. Here are some of the differences from when you have your first child to when you have your third child.

  1. How you tell people your child’s age. First child you do exact months. i.e. “They are 16 months old”. This sometimes goes on until they are 2. Third child is just a rough estimate for their entire life. Their age progression is as follows: newborn, 4-months or so, 6 months I think, almost one, one, oneish, a little over one, one and a ½, almost 2, two.
  2. First birthday party planning. First child has invites sent out a month in advance, family comes in from out-of-town, a new outfit is purchased, cake is homemade or bought from a bakery, and gifts are brought. Third child either has no party at all or has a group text sent out the day before, grocery store cupcakes, champagne for the adults because we are celebrating survival, no new outfit, and no gifts because they have all of their siblings toys and outfits and they don’t know how to open presents anyways.
  3. Going out and about post-baby. First child you go on lockdown for a few weeks or a month because taking a baby in public is terrifying to you. What if they cry, poop, or scream in the car? I went to the grocery store a few weeks post partum with my first and I was on sensory overload from the fluorescent lights and all the people since I’d been a boob hostage in my home for a month. Third child you go out to dinner on your way home from the hospital because you know this is the easiest they are ever going to be in public. They will sleep anywhere, they can’t run away from you, and they can’t tell you their opinion yet.
  4. Getting them dressed. First child you put them in clothes to go to the church nursery or daycare because it is daytime so they should be wearing something other than pajamas obviously. Third child lives most of their life in pajamas because who cares? Unless they are getting pictures taken or it is too hot for pajamas that is what they are in until they start walking.
  5. Feeding them. For your first child starting solids is terrifying. I knew how to feed her milk and now I’m supposed to try something new? No thanks. They can maybe try real food once or twice a week until 10 months, then we will try 3 times a day. Third kid can be eating steak by 10 months because they have been introduced to everything way earlier.
  6. Teeth brushing. First child has a tooth pop out and you start brushing it right away. Third child has 4 teeth and the thought has never crossed your mind to brush them. (The nurse at our one year check asked if we brushed her teeth once a day and I laughed out loud, whoops.)
  7. Tummy time. First child you start this immediately. You follow all of the guidelines and increase their time each week because you are SO excited for them to roll over and be mobile. Third child you don’t want them to move because you know the time between rolling and walking is THE WORST. No tummy time for them because once they can roll over things get nuts. Our third didn’t have tummy time but 5 times in her first 6 months of life. She walked by 1 so I don’t think we set her back too much.
  8. Naps. First child this is sacred time. You never wake them up and you plan your life around this. They take two naps a day for at least a year. Third child takes 80% of their naps in their car seat as they are being dragged from preschool pick-ups to Sunday school. If they are actually sleeping in their crib they will undoubtedly be woken up by having to leave the house or by an older sibling yelling.
  9. Sugar intake. First child has little to no sweets in their diet before they turn one. The smash cake at their first birthday party is a novelty item to them. Third child has been force-fed a skittle by 5 months of age by an older sibling and has had countless bits of cookies and cupcakes at toddler birthday parties.
  10. The TV Mom gets to watch while nursing. First child I watched all of Prison Break while I breastfed because there weren’t little eyes and ears that were aware. Third kid I watched Curious George, baby bum music videos, or Dora the Explorer because the last thing I needed was a 4-year-old having nightmares about T-Bag and Scofield.

If you aren’t the first born in your family this is why you are so resilient. You know the world doesn’t revolve around you and you have what it takes to survive, congrats.

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Third child after getting doused by the hose while nursing.

 

 

 

Blue Apron: When I discovered that I’m an idiot in the kitchen.

Cooking. Some people love this. For me, it’s just something that has to happen if I want to eat. I feel like I can hold my own in the kitchen; I can throw a dinner party or cook a meal for a friend with a new baby confidently. I’m probably not going to light your world on fire but I’m also pretty sure you aren’t going to have to swing by Jack-In-the-Box later.

My mother has taught me a lot of things in life; how to spend time in the word, how to workout like an amazon woman, how to show hospitality, and how to have to good time. Something that I didn’t learn from her, how to cook fancy things. She is more utilitarian in nature as a cook. Simple, not fancy.

As a result, I’ve been completely self-taught as a cook. If google and YouTube didn’t exist my family would be living off of frozen pizza. We also don’t have cable so I have never watched the food network or anything of that nature. This has led to some embarrassing mispronunciations of common ingredients. “Quinoa” for instance is not pronounced phonetically. As a general rule, these are the types of recipes I will attempt.

  1. It needs to have 5 ingredients or less. Any ingredient list that is half a page long…no chance that is happening.
  2. It must have 3 steps or less. I have small children all over the place, I don’t have an hour to cook dinner.
  3. It can only require one google or YouTube search. This is pretty much only for special occasions.
  4. It can not be spicy. I don’t do food that makes me sweat (which my friends will tell you doesn’t take much). The other day I sampled a piece of sushi at the grocery store and it was so hot that I was sweating for 30 minutes aftwards. I almost had to leave the store because of it.

We have a dear friend, Joel, who went to culinary school. He has been having Blue Apron boxes arrive at his house for a while now (Blue apron gives you a recipe and all of the ingredients you need for that recipe already measured out). He could send a few people a free week worth of recipes/meals and he picked me. Great, right? I figured I could use some new recipes and get outside my comfort zone in the kitchen.

Last Friday our blue apron box arrived. I looked at the recipes and was immediately intimidated, probably because I didn’t recognize half of the ingredients or the names of the dishes. I texted our supper club group text (Joel included) about how intimidated I was by these recipes and ingredients. His response, “What?! They’re really easy to follow. You got this!” Easy to say for someone who goes by “Chef.”

Saturday night I decided to tackle my first meal, Sautéed Beef and Potato Latkes. Turns out that Latke=fancy word for pancake. This meal had a ridiculous amount of steps and way too much hot oil. I singed my eyelashes because if you add cold water to hot oil it pops…a lot (you’re welcome). My husband was in charge of grating an onion and he cried for 10 minutes afterwards. The meal was delicious, however quite painful and it took way longer than originally estimated.

I attempted another meal yesterday, this time while I was solo and all 3 children were awake. I learned quite a few things during this cooking adventure.

  1. I had no idea what a scallion was. I’ve been calling that a green onion all these years.
  2. I learned what kale looks like. I love the kale salad bags from the grocery store but if you would have given me a quiz about which ingredients were which I would have failed miserably. I was pretty sure that kale was the long and clear stringy things in the salad bag.
  3. My children will steal and eat an entire bag of cheetos puffs if I am distracted by foreign vegetables in the kitchen.

Needless to say, I think I’m going to stick to my 5 ingredient meals and keeping my eyelashes in tact. If you want a free week of blue apron, let me know. Hopefully you don’t discover all of your deficiencies in the kitchen like I did.

What your child’s teacher really wants for Christmas…and what they don’t want.

 

Christmas. The season of glitter, parties, too many cookies, warm adult beverages, and gifts for every person in your life from your garbage man to your spouse. If you have a child in school you probably have started thinking about what you are going to get for their teacher.

I used to teach high school English. As a high school teacher you maybe receive 5 or so gifts because parents have stopped giving teacher gifts a LONG time ago. Let’s be real, a high schooler also has 7 different teachers so that is a lot of gifts to get. Elementary teachers on the other hand get inundated with lots of….”things” at Christmas because there is one teacher to shop for and parents don’t see elementary teachers as soul-sucking dream-crushers generally. Here is my list of things your child’s teacher would and wouldn’t like from students and parents at Christmastime that they are too afraid to ask for.

  1. A nice e-mail or a note. If your child enjoys their class in any way shape or form, share that with them. Do you have any idea how many nasty/crazy e-mails your child’s teacher receives? Too many (I’d say 1 of these is too many). This gift is FREE, takes very little time, and goes a long way.
  2. The benefit of the doubt. Before you leave a public servant a 4-minute long voicemail the day of the final exam listing the reasons as to why they are a kid-hating, dream crusher because your child that has obviously never done something wrong has a 65 since their grade book is filled with zeroes; take a step back and don’t pick up the phone. I have a secret for you. Teachers aren’t out to get you or your child, that is completely in your mind. If they really wanted to crush dreams they would have become an insurance claims agent, a cheerleading tryout judge, a dentist, or an IRS auditor. This gift, also FREE.
  3. Gift cards. Do they look exhausted when you see them? Starbucks. Seem stressed out and you are positive they aren’t a Mormon? Spec’s. Crafty? Hobby Lobby. Do they eat food? Restaurant gift cards. Human being with a pulse? Target or Amazon.
  4. Baked goods…if they are worth the calories. You get a lot of cookies and baked goods thrown your way this time of year. If you are going to commit to being a baker of gifts you better bring your “A” game and stand out amongst the crowd. Dry banana bread? Not worth the calories. Homemade chocolate toffee? Worth it, every time.
  5. Not a mug. As much as you may want to get mugs and fill them with candy, just stick to #1-4. If you want to give someone candy then put it in something disposable so they don’t feel guilty throwing it away. I know you may feel the need to dress up said gift with a cute christmas mug…please stop. You know how many mugs someone can use at once? One. You know how many Christmas mugs someone needs in their life? 5, tops.
  6. Not bath goods. I don’t understand this gift to be completely honest. Do you look at someone and think, “They seem dirty or smelly and they are a teacher so they probably can’t afford soap so I’m going to buy it for them?” If you think they need soap that bad just get them a Target gift card. Not everyone wants to smell like vanilla or sun-ripened raspberry.
  7. Not a candle. This gift says “I have no idea what to get you because I don’t know you at all so I am going to get you a $1 candle so you can have a small, poorly-scented fire in your house.” You don’t know what smells I like. Just do #1 and #2 because those are FREE.
  8. Not knickknacks. Have you ever thought to yourself, I need more clutter in my life? No? Your child’s teacher hasn’t either. Don’t give them things you wouldn’t actually use or enjoy yourself. So this should take random ornaments, decorative jars, Christmas socks, and Christmas dish-towels off your shopping list.

Happy shopping or note-writing! Remember, it’s the thought that counts until someone has 20 Santa mugs filled with bath beads on their desk.

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Not this. Never this.

Getting in toddler shape.

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The holidays are upon us and this means lots of Grandparents are going to spend time with their precious grandkids…and get completed dominated by it in the process.

It’s because they aren’t in toddler shape. 

Nature eases you into this as a parent. At the beginning you start out with a baby that can’t move. This is what I like to refer to as easy street. They can’t run away, roll over, crawl, anything! The only way they make it from one place to the next is by someone else physically moving them. Grandparents, childless Aunts/Uncles, and childless friends are ALL ABOUT this stage. It’s because the baby will sleep in your arms so you get to snuggle AND relax on the couch all in the name of service to a new parent. Win-Win.

But then things get complicated. They start moving. So you have to move with them. This is fine for about an hour or so but by the end of a 4-day visit you need a massage, a professional cleaning service for your home, another week off of work to sleep, and 24 hours of silence.

If you find yourself completely exhausted by the end of a visit with your Grandkids or nieces and nephews I have some tips to help you get into toddler shape before they hit your house next week.

  1. Buy the alphabet magnets for your refrigerator. This way your sweet Grandkids can spell out “I love Grandma” on the Fridge for you to see everyday. Now, knock them off the fridge. 10 times a day. At the most inopportune time. By picking these up over and over again you will be conditioning your body to bend over multiple times and giving those patience muscles a good workout.
  2. Start doing things with one hand. Make dinner, coffee, put your shoes on, go to the bathroom, anything! Make a game out of it and if you are feeling real crazy you can try it with your non-dominant hand. This way when little Sally wants you to hold her while you are brining a turkey you got that on lockdown.
  3. Have a peaceful, long conversation with another adult. Now, set a timer for every 34 seconds and interrupt this conversation to answer a question or listen to a comment that CANNOT be ignored.You will also need to brush up on your spellings of any words you do not want any young children to understand: B-E-D, N-A-P, C-O-O-K-I-E. This is how you will be communicating for the next few days while you have little people in the house. Spelling and incoherent conversations. This is why parents have to text eachother instead.
  4. Get a box of blocks. Next, clean your house for your impending company. Then, have your spouse or a friend “surprise” you by emptying the box and scattering the blocks throughout the house. This will help with those patience muscles and your bending over conditioning.
  5. Find your friend that can not handle silence (or someone that is super draining). We all have one in our life. There must be conversation going all the time so you are constantly “on.” Spend the day with them. When you get home you are not allowed to take a nap. You surely have more magnet letters to knock off of the fridge before you can rest.
  6. Play hide and seek with your spouse or a friend for 1.5 hours everyday. This will also assist you in toddler proofing your house because YOU NEED to be the one to discover that your Mother’s crystal china is at knee-height.
  7. Go for a walk. When you go for this walk you need to carry something that weighs 30 pounds. You can fill up a laundry bag with wet towels, bags of flour, free weights, you name it. Even better if you have a dog about that size because that will better depict the wiggliness you will experience while holding a 2-year-old. Now carry this on your hip for a mile or so. Every 20 yards or so stop and pick up a stick without dropping the laundry bag.

Thanksgiving is only 8 days from now so you need to start training. Hopefully these tips will help you feel like you’ve been run over by a smart car instead of a Greyhound bus after hosting your Grandkids for a few days.

In a pinch, Starbucks sells espresso as well.

 

The rules of air travel with a small child.

Thanksgiving week is hands down the craziest week of air travel. Lots of people will be flying home to see family and that means there are going to be lots of small children flying as well.

We have flown with our kids (4.5, 2.5, 1) a lot. Our 4.5 year old has been on easily 25+ flights. It’s not a walk in the park but you can do this. Just because you have a child doesn’t mean you have to sit at home for the rest of your life. There is a whole wide world out there so here are my tips for flying with young kids.

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  1. Pick flight times based on your kid’s schedule. I’ve found that mid-morning flights are the best for our kids. (Please note, the longest flight we’ve taken with them is 4 hours so if you are flying on long international flights I got nothing for you.)
  2. Pack well. Your bag has to be organized because if someone spits up or poops there is no time for searching for a wipe. I usually have one backpack that has entertainment items in it, iPad, leap pad, stickers, and coloring books. The other backpack has snacks, diapers, wipes. Bring more than you need because delays happen, poop happens, etc. You will also need 4x the amount of pacifiers because they will disappear in droves when on a plane.
  3. Be prepared for dirty looks in the airport. People think our kids are cute everywhere except the airport. They are all thinking “please don’t be on my flight” and there’s nothing you can do to prevent this so just let it roll off.
  4. Be the last ones on board. I know they will call for family pre-boarding but that isn’t a privilege, it’s a punishment. Our kids are pretty active, so the less time they are confined to an airplane seat, the better. Before you board you need to wear them out. Let them ride the walkways, dance, walk around, whatever. If you have a walker you should have them out of the stroller as much as possible in the airport.
  5. Set up shop once you get on the airplane. Wipes, a diaper or two, and nursing cover if needed go in the seat back pocket in front of you. In front of the kids you put their water and the first few things they will want such as an iPad or snack. You want to avoid digging in your bag as much as possible.
  6. Don’t make those lame goodie bags for people around you because you have children with you. You paid for a ticket just like everyone else and you paid for your child’s ticket. You don’t have to apologize for having children on an airplane. Let’s be real, you have a much higher chance of being pooped on than anyone else on that airplane so you are the one that needs the candy bar, not business traveler Sam.
  7. All kids need to be eating or drinking something on the way up and the way down. So save a snack or hold off a nursing baby until takeoff because their ears will hurt otherwise.
  8. Once you are in the air the only rule I have for my kids is no screaming or whining allowed. There are no screen time limits at 30,000 feet. If your child watches two hours of movies on the iPad while flying somewhere they will still be an intelligent human-being. I assure you that their SAT score isn’t going to drop because they watched movies all morning that one time you flew to Florida. 30,000 feet is not the place to be a tiger parent. The same goes with snacks. If your child will be quiet if you give them cookies or M&M’s or fruit loops then you do it. They are not going to become an obese adult or get type 2 diabetes from a morning of unhealthy snacks.
  9. Accept help from strangers on the airplane. If you have a 4-year-old that needs to go to the bathroom, a 2-year-0ld that needs a diaper change, and someone offers to hold the baby while you take them to the lavatory you say YES every time. It may seem odd to hand your baby off to a stranger but guess what, there is NO WAY they can steal your child because you are all at 30,000 feet. Add the amount of witnesses they are surrounded by and you can confidently hand off baby to Grandma Sally in the row behind you for 3 minutes.
  10. Only order water for yourself from the flight attendant when they come around. My husband has had to learn this the hard way too many times. He LOVES getting the entire can of cranapple juice when he is on a flight. You know what color that is? Red. You know who it gets spilled on EVERYTIME when the toddler or baby hits it? Mom. He has also attempted to order coffee before as well. You know who can order hot drinks or red drinks on an airplane? Not you, parent of small children.

So get out there and explore the world and remember, you can do anything for 2 hours.

I want some allergies.

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My husband hates glitter. He can’t handle the herpes of art supplies in any context. He has done something genius to combat having to use glitter with our 4-year-old, Kate.

He has convinced her that he is allergic to glitter. 

She believes it. (Toddlers will believe a lot of things if you say it with authority)

When she wants to use glitter to make a craft she asks me when Dad is gone because “Dad is allergic so we can’t do it when he is home.” I go along with this because less glitter use is good for everybody.

I’ve decided that I want to be allergic to some things too.

  1. Picking up pieces of banana off the floor. If you’ve never had to do this then just keep doing what you’re doing. It’s the worst. The texture, the squish, and the fact that if you leave it for 25 minutes it hardens and sticks to any surface like an enormous booger make this my least favorite food my children eat.
  2. Meetings that could have been accomplished with an e-mail. These are 90% of meetings, especially as a teacher. You’ve been in these meetings, they usually involve someone reading you a powerpoint presentation or telling you maybe a paragraph worth of information in a time-span of 45 minutes. Just stop with these. You better be funny or at least provide some hella’ good snacks if you are going to make people come to those.
  3. Being the only parent that can lactate. We’ve put a man on the moon, cured polio, have self-driving vehicles, and can fly across the country in 4 hours yet something is too tricky about milk coming out of a man. They have the equipment and most men are only using them to have moobs (man boobs) or spending too much time at the gym to have enormous pecs. This way everybody is a winner! I don’t need him to do it all the time. Just once every day, preferably at 4:30am. That way I don’t have to watch because let’s be real, it’d be weird.
  4. People that only say negative things. These people are truly the worst. I had a co-worker like this once that I unfortunately shared a break room with. I gave up using the microwave at lunch because I couldn’t handle it anymore. Don’t be the person that deprives others of joy (or hot food).
  5. When someone is talking about something difficult/time-consuming/intricate and guilt trips you that “it’s so easy.” Examples of this: making homemade baby food, cooking 30 meals at once, cloth-diapering, making homemade wreaths, running, knitting, the Whole 30, you name it. It’s not true. Some things are easier for some people and more difficult for others. It’s ok. We don’t have to be the same. If you find great joy washing poop out of clothing that has been intentionally pooped in over and over, you do you. I’m going to keep throwing diapers away so my trash men can play paper, rock, scissors to see who is getting the trash cans from the house that smells like complete and utter death. We can be friends, but if I don’t do everything your way don’t push it on me.
  6. Being puked on by another human. I don’t think I need to expound on this besides saying that the day Kate learned to say “I need the bucket” is a parenting milestone that people don’t celebrate near enough.

So if you want to throw bananas on the ground, be a Debbie-downer, puke on me, hold a meeting that shouldn’t happen, or try to get me to cloth-diaper just be aware that I am allergic from now on.