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.

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.

Dog children

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I don’t understand how people have toddlers without a dog.

I should probably qualify this post before you read it. I love our dogs. They are fantastic with our children, they eat all of the food our children drop (besides Cheerios and carrots), they are cute, and quirky. But there’s something you should know…

I am the worst dog owner ever.

It wasn’t always like this. When we were a young married couple with no responsibilities besides each other and our jobs we did what every middle-class white couple with anything that resembles a yard does….we got a dog. To be honest, we were really just practicing keeping something alive. I have a really bad track record with plants (I’d call myself a black thumb); so before we could even talk about or think about bringing a real live human into the world we needed some practice with something more consequential than a beta fish. So we scoured petfinder.com and found our first love, Copa.

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Tiny Copa with well-rested Clint
We drove two hours one-way to meet her and make sure she was the one. We then picked her up three weeks later after our adoption application was approved. So in total, we drove 8 hours and spent $150 to bring our dog child home.

At first things were great. We gave her weekly baths, got her a cute collar, took her on walks, and took a ridiculous amount of pictures of her. We took her camping with us, let her sleep in the bed, and she even made the Christmas card one year.

Then after a few years of Copa staying alive with a few hiccups (snake bites, falling off the balcony of the back porch, killing a kitten in front of a young child, etc) we decided we had arrived as dog parents and it was time to graduate to tiny human parents.

In January of 2012 I woke up to a SOAKED bed at 2:00am. My due date was in late march and I had no idea of anything that involved beginnings of labor. Cue total first-time parent freak out mode. We were googling frantically and calling the emergency nurse line because we thought my water had broken. Upon talking to the OB nurse and a more adept sniff of the bed we came to find out that Copa had pissed the bed.

Copa earned a major strike against her that night.

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Scene of the crime
After Kate came on the scene (In March, not in January after the dog peed on us) I kept up with being a semi-decent dog parent. It really wasn’t until we (I) made a really bad choice and took on another dog right around the time we got pregnant with baby #2. Then things took a turn for the worse.

When you go from 1 dog to 2 dogs it somehow comes out to 4 times the amount of dog hair. I went from NEEDING to sweep/vacuum roughly twice a week to needing to every other day at a minimum. Having a crawling baby really highlights how dirty your floors are, by the way.

Sometimes as I am vacuuming up dog hair for what feels like the millionth time I daydream about how much cleaner my house would be without dogs. There, I said it.

Clint has managed to continue being an excellent dog Dad; he pets them, feeds them, takes them on a run on occasion, buys them heart worm meds, etc. However, when Clint is out of town things get real dicey for the dogs.

I forget to feed them. After a day of this (that’s real) they just start stalking me around the house until I figure it out and put food in their bowls. I have a lot of mouths to feed in this current stage of life and when push comes to shove I am going to focus my nurturing energy on the people in my house that I’m lawfully accountable for. The cops don’t come and arrest you if the dog is hungry. (They do get a lot of food that the toddlers drop)

They run away every time Kate or Cooper open the gate. I’ve just stopped being concerned about this because they always come back. *So sorry if you’ve had a panic attack after a run-in with Samba on the greenbelts, I would too if I didn’t know he was a gentle giant. I need to get the phone numbers on their tags changed to Clint’s number because when strangers call me and tell me my dog is loose I show no sense of urgency in the matter. I actually told someone once “don’t worry about it, they always come back.” I’m glad we weren’t face timing because I could hear the judgement, I didn’t need to see it.

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Samba sleeps like this all the time. He also audibly farts.
Our neighbors are dog-lovers and have given them many a treat and a ride home from the local park. There have been many instances where I didn’t even know they were missing and then Big John (neighbor) just walks up the drive with them and lets them in the back gate. They are truly the best neighbors ever and they can definitely attest to the fact that I’m the worst dog owner ever.

This was really highlighted for me the other day when a friend from church was watching Kiah for me and I mentioned I was running by the store. She asked me if I could pick up some dog treats for her. This was a new section of the pet aisle for me. I couldn’t remember the last time I even thought to buy a dog treat. So I thought I’d try this whole dog treat thing out and get a bag for my dogs while I was there. Turns out that this is such a foreign concept in our home that I’ve had to stop Cooper from eating them multiple times.

All of this to say, things change. Your priorities shift big time when you become a human parent. If you are in dog child phase, live it up (so should your dog!) because it’s going to be a long time after having kids that they get the love they want. Please know that I do love them, it’s just more of a you eat chewed up salami that a 2-year-old threw on the ground love at this current time.