Getting Ready to Go Outside in 20 Easy Steps

It gets cold where we live. Recently we had a 20 degree day that felt downright balmy (and yesterday’s high of 40 degrees was practically tropical!). However, I strongly believe in the benefits of fresh air on a daily basis, so I’ve been dragging the girls outside despite the frigid temps. Layers are our friends around here.

After a couple of months of bundling the girls up, I feel confident that you too can get your kids outside in just 20 “simple” steps!

  1. The preschooler sits on the potty and the toddler gets a diaper change (you don’t want to hear “I have to go pee!” at the end of this process!).
  2. I put on long underwear, the preschooler is sent to put on an extra pair of pants and socks. I put an extra pair of leggings and socks on the toddler.
  3. Find the preschooler sitting in her room. Remind her that she was supposed to be getting pants and socks on.
  4.  Answer “Why?” question.
  5. Gather snowpants, coats, mittens, hats, and scarves.
  6. Tell the preschooler that she has to put on her snowpants before putting on her boots and yes, she must wear her snow boots and not her sandals.
  7. Find the toddler who has now wandered away with one of her sister’s mittens. Wrestle her into her snowpants.
  8. Remind the preschooler that she was supposed to be putting on her snowpants and not her coat.
  9. Answer 5 “Why?” questions from the preschooler.
  10. Put on my own snowpants.
  11. Find the toddler who has wandered off with her sister’s boot and put on her scarf and hat.
  12. Tell the preschooler to put on her scarf before her mittens.
  13. Answer “Why?” question. Answer “Why?” question again.
  14. Help preschooler put on her mittens, coat, and hat.
  15. Find toddler to make sure she isn’t in grave peril.
  16. Help preschooler put on her boots. Send her into the garage so she doesn’t collapse from heat exhaustion before her sister and I are ready to go outside.
  17. Find toddler again and stuff her into her coat. Shove her mittens on her hands and boots on her feet.
  18. Try to find toddler’s hat as she howls at the injustice of having to wear snowgear. Put hat on toddler and watch her collapse from my cruelty.
  19. Finish putting on my scarf, hat, coat, gloves, and boots.
  20. Pick up toddler and join preschooler in the garage. Release the girls outside and hope we are outside longer than it took us to get ready.

For the record, I’m usually exhausted by the time I go outside. The silver lining is that first spring-like day is going to feel magical!*

*Really, this insane mission of taking littles outside in all weather is to create hardy kids. Fresh air is good for us, fresh air is good for us, fresh air is good for us. . .


Weaning Woes

I am currently convinced that Sweet Pea will, in fact, be the first child to go to college still nursing.

I kid. . mostly. . .

Doom on Us This Flu Season

I generally try not to think too much about germs. Around here, I generally encourage some hand washing and try to prevent the girls from doing anything too disgusting like licking the toilet, but otherwise just let the whole germ thing play out naturally. What this really means is that you will see my kids eat food off of our floor and there may be a fair amount of dirt-eating occurring. Whatever happens, I try to be chill about it.

Well, until everyone starts losing their ever lovin’ minds about influenza.

Initially I try to ignore the reports. Flu? What flu? There’s no such thing as the flu? We go about our business as usual–shopping trips, playdates, doctor visits, etc. But after a few weeks of the spread of influenza it’s hard for even me to ignore the stories.

Rationally, I know that our little family is healthy and therefore unlikely to have severe complications from the flu. But I think fear wriggles into any parent’s heart whenever they hear of children dying from influenza. So I get nervous and start questioning leaving the house. Should I reschedule the well-child visit? Should I find a babysitter for the girls while I go grocery shopping? Should we just give up and stay inside until May?

Ultimately, I’ve decided to go with some slight precautions with prayer. So this past week my husband and I were trying to make a plan for his day off. “What should we do on Friday?” he asked.

I thought and then said, “Well, I need to do the monthly grocery run. We could make it a family outing and go to Chick-fil-a afterward. The girls could play in the play area since it will be cold again.”

My husband replied, “That sounds okay.”

I made a face. “Oh wait, flu. . .”

We decided to avoid the indoor play area. Instead, I just took Babykins to Aldi with me so we could have a Mother-Daughter outing while my husband had some bonding time with Sweet Pea. Babykins is mostly over the put-everything-in-mouth phase, so I figured the grocery store wouldn’t be too bad.

We got through Aldi without an incident. However, as we were driving back I heard Babykins’s little voice say, “Look, Mommy, look!” I glanced in the review mirror and saw this:

Babykins had taken off her shoes–the shoes she had worn all through Aldi–and was rubbing them on her face. What do I even do with that?!

The moral of the story: Kids are gross and we’re all going to get influenza.

Reading Goal 2018: MMD Reading Challenge

I used to not be into New Year’s resolutions. It made much more sense for me to try to make improvements either when the fancy struck me or at the beginning of the school year. However, it’s now been several years since my life has followed a school year schedule. Consequently, I finally get why people choose January to make resolutions. You might as well try to make a change while everyone else is excited about self improvement!

One of my goals this year is to read more. In this season of life, it’s easy to go days or weeks without reading anything more substantial than a picture book (don’t get me wrong–picture books can be awesome, but I’m trying to aim a little higher here). Consequently, I’ve opted to participate in the Modern Mrs. Darcy reading challenge. The goal is to read 12 books–1 for each category–to motivate readers to read amazing books. Here is what I’ve planned to read thus far:

-A classic you’ve been meaning to read: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (I was supposed to read it for a Facebook book club this past summer and never did)

-A book recommended by someone with great taste: All American Boys by Jason Reynolds (Recommended by my literature teacher-friend from vicarage)

-A book in translation: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

-A book nominated for an award in 2018: TBD

-A book of poetry, a play, or an essay collection: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling and Jack Thorne

-A book you can read in a day: The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stuart (I’m not even sure how long this book is, I just picked a children’s chapter book that I’ve been meaning to read)

-A book that’s more than 500 pages: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett (I technically started this book in 2017, but I was less than 150 pages in and it’s almost 1,000 pages)

-A book by a favorite author: TBD (Can you believe I have a hard time deciding who is my favorite author? Maybe I’ll reread something by Austen or perhaps find something by Jasper Fforde or Neil Gaiman)

-A book recommended by a librarian or indie bookseller: TBD (I hate talking to people)

-A banned book: Fahrenheit 451

-A memoir, biography, or book of creative nonfiction: Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

-A book by an author of a different race, ethnicity, or religion than your own: TBD

Additionally, you are given several different printables to help track reading when you sign up for the challenge. This year I’m focusing on trying to read a hard copy of a book every day (I’ve already missed some days, but that just means there’s room for improvement!). I really upped my reading in 2017 by actually figuring out how to checkout books on my Kindle and reading while nursing Sweet Pea, but I can only read certain types of books on a screen–nothing too dense. By taking the time to read hard copies, that will allow me to tackle some “harder” reads.

I’m so excited to participate in this challenge! I’ve been plugging away at Pillars of the Earth and I just checked out The Mysterious Benedict Society on my Kindle.

Do you have any reading goals for 2018?

Silver Lining of Illness: Christmas Edition

‘Twas the week before Christmas and unsurprisingly, one of our kids wound up sick. Poor Sweet Pea caught a little cold, which then turned into an ear infection, which then lead to thrush. Several sleepless nights, 1 trip to the doctor’s office, and 1 trip to urgent care later, Sweet Pea and I were both so done with her not feeling well. She and I missed both services on Christmas Eve and she was a miserable grump on Christmas Day. It was a difficult week for our family.

I don’t think either girl had been this sick before. Most of their illnesses have been little colds and an occasional fever and they’re generally over the worst of their illnesses in a couple of days. The whole miserably sick-for-a-week thing was a new experience for us. Now that Sweet Pea is back to her healthy, happy self, I have a chance to realize we really are fortunate that this has been our girls’ worst illness. There was no ER visit, no hospitalization, and no chronic illness diagnosis. Even though it’s not a bundle of laughs for a pastor’s family to be dealing with illness the week of Christmas, Sweet Pea is healthy now and we can move on with our life.

Merry Christmas!

Pinterest Mom I am Not

Remember that time I had the brilliant idea to have Babykins make Easter cards? It didn’t work. But now that Babykins is almost 2 years older, I thought now she would be able to make some little crafts to send to grandparents and her sponsors. So I did what every savvy mother seems to do: I headed to Pinterest.

I found a simple Christmas tree craft that I modified. Babykins would cut out 3 triangles (look, we would learn about shapes!) and then glue them together to make a tree. After that, I would have her use a Q-tip and dab paint on the trees to make ornaments (hey, we would learn about colors!). I made an example for Babykins to see:

I then drew some triangles and had Babykins start cutting them out. It took some convincing to get Babykins to cut out all the triangles but she eventually had 6 shapes that somewhat looked like they had 3 sides. I gave her a glue stick and helped her glue on her first triangle. I then left the vicinity of the dining room table to grab something. By the time I came back, Babykins had managed to paste all the triangles onto her two papers. They were all over the page and looked nothing like a tree. Sighing, I told myself that it this way it looked like Babykins did her own work.

Next I set her up with some paint. I showed her how to use the Q-tip and watched as she dabbed on a few “ornaments”. Then Sweet Pea woke up from her nap and I made a rookie parent mistake–I left my 3 year old unattended with paint while I went to take care of the baby. I returned to find Babykins painting her hand and this on her papers:

Honestly, it could have been worse, but it certainly wasn’t what I had envisioned for a gift.  I gave up. Rather than trying to get her to make a proper tree, I just gave her some paper and told her she could paint it however she wanted.

It was time for a bath after Babykins finished painting because she always insists on covering her entire arm whenever we use finger paints.

The moral of the story? Pinterest is filled with caregiver crafts, not preschooler crafts. That, or I’m very lazy about making my preschooler follow directions during art time. Either way, it usually leads to a mess.

Letters to My Family

Dear Sweet Pea,

You are 11 months old–almost not a baby anymore. Please get your act together and start sleeping longer than 2-hour stretches at night. Seriously, I’m tired. But I do love how happy you are to see me in the morning, despite the fact I was with you only 2 hours earlier–it does give my ego a boost.

Love, Mommy

Dear Babykins,

I know you’ve been a little deprived of attention lately thanks to your sister’s clingy behavior, but you have got to stop standing right under my feet in the kitchen. Also, please stop yelling during quiet time because it wears on my nerves. Mommy needs quiet during quiet time. However, I do love how you’ve been walking around saying, “I love my mommy so, so much.” It’s adorable and please never stop doing it.

Love, Mommy

Dear Husband,

Please bring home chocolate.

Love, Your Wife

Dear Cats,

You are no longer “Creature #1” in the house. Please act accordingly. Isn’t enough that you won the battle to come into our bedroom? I suppose you make up for it by being cutely fuzzy.

Love, Your Owner

Creepy Preschooler and Her Doll

Babykins loves her dolly that we bought her for her first birthday. Dolly is a simple 12-inch baby doll whose blue eyes close when you lay her down. Babykins plays “Mommy and Baby” with Dolly regularly. Yesterday, Babykins was cradling Dolly on the couch next to me. “What are you doing with Dolly?” I asked.

“Me rock her,” Babykins replied. Then she shifted Dolly upright so her head was resting on Babykins’s shoulder. Babykins continued her story, “Dolly is up now so she watch you. She always up so can watch you aaaaaalllll the time.”

Because that isn’t creepy at all.

Slide of Doom

At our city’s park, there is a slide.

Part of me is pleased that such a slide still exists in a country obsessed with keeping children in a safety bubble. But part of me wonders how long I can keep the girls off of this death-trap of a slide.


Thanklessness, Know Your Reality!

In my more thankless moments, I long for a bigger house. Our family currently fits comfortably in our parsonage. Technically there are enough rooms for both girls to have their own bedroom, but I would rather keep the third bedroom as a guestroom (Sweet Pea’s impressive nighttime wailing may thwart this plan). We have a sizable kitchen and a spacious living room. Our basement is the same size as the upper floor and provides ample storage space as long as I am careful to pack against dampness.

Still, envy is a strong beast and I sometimes find myself thinking of the “if onlys”: If only we had another bedroom, if only we had an extra living space, if only the basement was drier and finished, etc.

I know contentment is found in what we have, not in getting what we want. Likewise, we have a more spacious house than many people would have had just 75 years ago (and Ma Ingalls would say, “Really, you’re complaining about your house? I lived in a cabin with a dirt floor for many years.”).

However, what actually drives my discontentment away is our reality: No matter how big our house is, we would all still wind up in one small area anyway. We could live in a freakin’ mansion and we would still be crowding each other in the kitchen or bumping into each other in one bathroom. More space would just mean there would be more options for where we could all get in each other’s way.

Just an average morning around here.