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. . .


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!

We’re Back, Part 2: Some Updates and Thoughts

Goodness, now it’s October?! I’m guessing one of these months you’ll get tired of these, “Wow, time really flies–here’s a brief update!” posts. But here we are. Another month has come and gone.

Babykins turned 3 years old last month. She loved her birthday party, especially the lovely cake a member made for her. Sweet Pea is now 10 months old. She is pulling herself up on things, starting to cruise next to furniture, and has made it her life’s mission to eat the cats’ food every time I turn my back. Oh, and our cats also turned 4. I made cupcakes for their birthday (actually, I just wanted cupcakes but pretended they were the reason).

In other news, you might be wondering if this blog is more or less defunct. Not officially. I keep thinking that I’ll get my act together and put together some awesome posts with hilarious illustrations, but it just isn’t happening. Most of the reason is that the biggest chunk of free time I get during they day is after the girls are in bed. Sadly, I’ve never been a night owl and my brain just doesn’t have the same creativity that it would have at 6 a.m. Both girls are typically up around 6:15 a.m. There goes creative work time. I suppose I could always get up at 4 a.m., but Sweet Pea would have to start sleeping through the night. . . or at least stop waking up every 2-3 hours throughout the night. But it’s not entirely due to the girls’ poorly timed wakeups that I’m not posting–I also have a tendency to waste time on Facebook during nap/quiet time.

At any rate, this rambling post was to give you a quick update as well as prove that evening writing isn’t my strong suit.


Patience is a Virtue and We’re All Learning It

I’ve never considered myself a naturally patient person. However, I did fancy that I was decent at forcing myself to be patient once I started working with children. On particularly hard days as a daycare worker or nanny, I could always tell myself on difficult days that I only had to stay patient for number of hours before going home. There was a finish line for patience at the end of the day.

Even when I just had Babykins, I still could dig deep to find patience when I was starting to loose it. Love is a powerful motivator and I could often look at the situation and tell myself that she was just a baby–she needed me to be patient.

All this isn’t to say that I didn’t lose my patience as an employee or a mother of 1. There were times that I was impatient or things were going so horribly that even the most composed person would have lost their cool. But my patience reservoir seemed much deeper then.

But being a mother of 2 young children. . . oh, man. Patience is in short supply these days. It’s no longer enough to fake patience anymore because Babykins and Sweet Pea still need most of my attention during their waking hours and it seems like someone is always awake. There is no “end time”. Additionally, Babykins is in a “I do it!” phase, so everything takes 5 time longer than if  I was doing it myself (and yes, I know it’s good for toddlers to learn to do things and have a sense of independence. It’s hard to wait when the baby is crying and dinner is burning and for the love of all that is good and holy can we get this show on the road?!).

So in these long days, the three of us are all having a lesson in patience. Babykins is learning that she doesn’t always get what she wants, Sweet Pea is learning that her whims aren’t always immediately answered, and I’m learning to take deep breaths before speaking.

18-20 years from now, I might actually have the patience of a saint. Until then, “Lord, help me,” is a constant prayer in my life.


Conversations With My Toddler: Crucifixes vs. Crosses

Recently, Babykins has started to notice the crucifixes in our bedrooms. My husband and my bedroom has one hanging above our bed, the nursery has one hanging above the closet door. Whenever she points them out, we talk about how Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins.

However, in the guestroom we have a decorative cross. Babykins was looking at it the other day and we then had this chat:

Babykins: What’s dat? (points to the cross)

Me: That’s a cross

Babykins: Jesus no on that one!

Me: Well, yes, um. . . That’s because it’s just a cross. When Jesus is on the cross, it’s called a crucifix. Can you say “crucifix”?

Babykins: Crucifix!

Pastor’s kids can have the oddest vocabulary.


The Whirlwind of Motherhood

I was warned that life would seemingly go faster with two children. It’s true. Sweet Pea turned 6 months old at the end of May. How did half a year already pass?!

Babykins is turning 3 in a few months. She sleeps in a toddler bed and is quickly becoming potty trained. Sometimes I look at her and wonder when did she start becoming a little girl.

Sweet Pea is different than her sister. She is quick to laugh and quick to wail (I think she’s going to have what we might call a “strong personality”), and has a strong desire to not sleep in her bed at night. All babies grow quickly, but it’s still shocking to think that the chubby baby that is learning to sit and roll over had very little controlled movements 6 months ago.

It’s so hard to write about these days–the mundane triumphs, the trivial woes, and the never ending sleep deprivation. My daily grind can seem repetitious and dull to an outside observer (and sometimes it is to me!). However, I find more and more that there are moments in my days that amaze me.

There is breathtaking beauty in seeing my girls grow. I cannot orchestrate these times that dazzle, so it is a privilege to observe them. For example, I get to hear Sweet Pea’s delighted giggles as she watches her sister frolic around her, I can watch as Babykins unabashedly runs about in a rainstorm. I am the audience for Babykins’s yells of, “Momma! Watch me, Momma!” and the receiver of Sweet Pea’s nuzzles. Like I said, so many little moments of immense joy.

This isn’t the life I wished for growing up, but I suppose this just shows that it can be wonderful that our wishes don’t always come true.



The Mother’s Day Gift from Babykins

On Tuesday, the girls and I made our weekly trek to the library’s storytime. The craft for that day supposed to be a card for the children’s mothers. I’m not sure why the craft was making a Mother’s Day card since it’s generally mothers who attend storytime, but what do I know? I strapped Sweet Pea into the baby carrier and started to help Babykins make my card.

Admittedly, the card idea was cute. The children were supposed to fold a paper in half, trace their hand so the thumb and pointer finger rested on the fold, and cut the traced hand out. Then they would have a card in the shape of their hand.

Once the hand card was cut out, then the children’t were supposed to decorate it with crayons and stickers.

However, the card idea didn’t transition well into reality. First, Babykins is tiny. Her hand card was about 3 inches at its widest part. Secondly, Babykins’s favorite part about making storytime crafts is destroying them. She immediately tore her hand card in half. She then proceeded to make a scribble and stick a sticker on it before cheerfully announcing, “All done!”

I could really feel the love she put into my card. 😉


Keeping It Real on Good Friday

Yesterday I took both girls to a midday service for Good Friday at another church in our circuit. Generally I try not to get too worked up about circus act that comes with bringing two little children to church. However, Good Friday services are so somber and quiet that the girls’ inevitable antics seem especially jarring even in the most child-friendly churches. Why? Because while people are reflecting on Jesus’ suffering and death, things like this are going down in our pew:

  1. 4 month old Sweet Pea grinning like a fool in the silent sanctuary.
  2. 2.5 year old Babykins slamming her water bottle against the pew.
  3. Sweet Pea needing to eat during the sermon.
  4. Me realizing that Babykins is pooping right before communion (I left her in the pew to finish her business while I went up).
  5. Babykins loudly annoucing, “All done pooping!” as the rest of the congregation silently leave the sanctuary.

Needless to say, the feeling of piety was pretty low after that. At least the children keep me humble.



Witnessing Childhood

A lot of dealing with parenthood–at least with parenting babies and toddlers–is gallows humor. The daily work of raising these little people is hard and there are no guaranteed breaks. So when parents face a crappy day (figuratively or literally), they seemingly have 2 choices: Cry in a corner or laugh about it. Consequently, there are lots of jokes about things like chronic sleep deprivation and toddler tantrums.

I have nothing against this humor. A fair share of my content here is laughing about the absurdity of motherhood. Frankly, humor is a good way to stave off despair and it would be difficult to learn how to give up my selfish desires without a chuckle here and there.

However, I’ve recently discovered a new joy in motherhood: Watching my toddler play. I’m not talking about stacking blocks or throwing balls. While it is fun to see those types of skills develop, it’s not going to hold my attention for long. But Babykins has recently begun imaginative play and creates her own worlds with Legos, dolls, or whatever else strikes her fancy. It’s enthralling to watch her little stories play out, oblivious to the reality around her.

For example, the other day we were eating sliced peppers with our lunch. After she had devoured a couple of slices, Babykins picked one up. Her pepper then walked across her placemat and hopped back across. Next, the pepper leaped off the side of the table but was able to fly back to the plate. It then walked across the placemat again, only to have its legs bitten of by Babykins. She then apologized to the pepper and gave it a hug.

This little play had nothing to do with me. I certainly didn’t suggest that she anthropomorphize the pepper slice; she’s learning to use her imagination without specific direction. I was amazed at the hilarity and sweetness (and slight creepiness due to the violent “leg” amputation) of the pepper’s story. What a joy it was to see Babykins play like this.

While there is still plenty of gallows humor in my daily life (after all, we haven’t even started potty training yet), I’m beginning to find more and more enjoyment in simply seeing my sweet Babykins grow. Every person has a childhood, but it’s a parents’ privilege to be able to witness their children’s childhood as well.


How Toddlers and Cats are Alike: Giant Sheets of Paper

My husband’s birthday was last week. In order to kill time add to the festivities, I thought it would be fun if Babykins and I made a birthday banner. So I hauled out a long piece of banner paper, dumped out some crayons, and went to work.

I outlined the words “Happy Birthday, Daddy!” (inspired, I know) and told Babykins that we were going to color the paper. She colored for about 30 seconds and then proceeded to gleefully roll around on the paper. Then one of our cats joined her. The toddler and the cat, both enjoying a giant sheet of paper in the same unhelpful way.


I never did finish that banner.