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.
Sweet Pea is 4 months old, which means we have already cycled through many sleep phases in her short life. Despite this being my second child and despite the fact that Babykins now sleeps through the night even though we let her sleep with many “bad habits” (Nap in the swing? Check. No schedule? Check. Nursing to sleep? Check. Nursing in the middle of the night? Check.), I still find myself subject to the roller coaster of emotions relating to baby sleep.
Sweet Pea will go through a few days that she sleeps “by the book”. Her awake times are predictable, she goes down for naps without a fight, and she drifts off to sleep at night in a timely manner. Then I feel like a sleep master–I unlocked the magical door to my baby’s sleep!
But then everything will fall apart and Sweet Pea just. won’t. sleep. Careful observation of her wake times does nothing. Turning off all the lights in the bedroom just means she yells in the dark. Leaving the house doesn’t make her sleepy. And when she does sleep, it’s only for a short time. At that point, it’s fairly clear that I’m a failure as a sleep guru and a mother.
But here’s the secret that all those sleep books and blog posts never fully admit: YOU CAN’T MAKE A BABY SLEEP! Sure, there are things you can do to encourage sleep but babies do what they want, when they want.
Now could someone please remind me of this about every other day? Thanks.
One of the biggest struggles of running a household with a baby and toddler is meals. In this season of “survival mode”, many things can be put off. The bathroom doesn’t have to be cleaned today, the garage can stay messy for another couple of months, and those projects I have pinned to various boards on Pintrest can wait a couple of years. But we have to eat today. To be precise, we have to eat several times today and these people are going to be hungry again tomorrow! It would also be preferable if most of these foods are healthy.
Our family is still small enough that every meal doesn’t need to be planned out. Breakfast is usually cereal, bagels, or oatmeal. Lunch is either leftovers or sandwiches. Snacks are fruit, cheese, and graham crackers. So that leaves supper, that tricky time of day when Sweet Pea is less likely to nap and Babykins is having her pre-bedtime crazies. Fancy dinners that require constant attention and precise timing just can’t happen right now. Consequently, I’ve been relying heavily on two kitchen appliances these past few months: my slow cooker and my rice cooker.
Many people are familiar with slow cookers–throw in your ingredients in the morning and have a meal by dinnertime. My requirements for slow cooker meals is that it doesn’t take a lot of precooking. The point of using the Crock Pot is so that I don’t have to cook! About the only thing I’ll consider precooking is browning ground beef. Anything else means the recipe is a no-go.
It used to be that I wanted recipes that contained the entire meal so I wouldn’t have to worry about making a side dish during the afternoon. This made finding simple and yummy meals extremely difficult. Then I got a rice cooker for Christmas and it has been a game changer! Since I can program my rice cooker to finish the rice at a certain time (and it also has a “Keep Warm” setting), I can prep the rice during quiet time. Easy peasy!
Here are some of my tried and true favorite recipes that helps keep dinner on our table:
Broccoli Cheese Soup: This recipe takes a little more hands on work at the end but my husband enjoys this soup.
BBQ Pork Tenderloin: I put carrots and potatoes in with the meat to make a full meal.
Potato Soup: An extremely simple recipe!
Whole Chicken: The leftover chicken is perfect for things like quesadillas or fried rice.
Make with Rice
Honey Ginger Chicken: Typically I make this in my 3 qt. Crock Pot and cook it on high for 2.5-3 hours.
What are your favorite slow cooker meals?
A couple of weeks ago I was walking into church with the girls when one of our elders met us outside. He pointed to Babykins the flocks of geese flying north high above our heads. As Babykins excitedly watched the birds, the elder asked me, “You know how geese always fly in a “V” shape?”
“Oh, yes,” I replied.
The elder continued his question, “Have you ever noticed how one side of the “V” is always longer than the other?”
“I have, actually!” I said.
“Do you know why that is?” the elder asked in a tone that implied that he knew the answer.
“No, do you?” I asked, curious about the reason.
“Why, yes,” the elder gleefully stated, “It’s because one side has more geese than the other!”
My husband gets 3 Sundays off a year. While 3 Sundays off is more than some pastors get, we still have to consider carefully how to best use these Sundays. Last year we used 2 of the Sundays for vacations (because we’ve found that a vacation isn’t really a vacation when he still has to write a sermon) but saved the third Sunday for after Sweet Pea was born. That way he could take a full week off as we tried to settle into our new normal.
Unfortunately, the week Sweet Pea was born was a Sunday that my husband hadn’t lined up an “on call” substitute (it was Thanksgiving weekend and his go-to subs were either already booked or out of town). My husband suggested that he take the following Sunday off but I was anxious to get Sweet Pea baptized on that Sunday. I came up with a different solution: He get a substitute pastor to preach but he would do the rest of the service, including the baptism. My rational at the time (which was just a few days postpartum, so not thinking clearly) was that not writing a sermon would free up time in his schedule during the week and that Sunday could still seem vacation-like. It made sense in the moment. :p
At any rate, the night before the baptism we were under a winter storm advisory. Several inches of snow was predicted to fall overnight and continue until late morning. I spent that Saturday fretting about the possibly of church being cancelled and not being able to get Sweet Pea baptized. I started asking my husband if we could still do the baptism even if church was cancelled. One of the in town elders could witness it for the sake of good order and whatnot. Worry, worry, worry. Fret, fret, fret.
Sunday morning arrived and while the roads weren’t great, members who lived in town could still safely get to church. The service was still on!
We arrived at church about 20 minutes prior to the service. I rushed to get Babykins settled and Sweet Pea dressed in her baptismal gown. However, since family members were there to help, we were actually settled into the pew in time for the pre-service announcements. As my husband read through the announcements, he casually mentioned, “Well, Pastor M. hasn’t arrived yet, so let’s hope he gets here in time for the sermon. Otherwise, I’ll be preaching off the cuff!” Since I have a terrible poker face, my husband glanced at my face and stated,
If you read the title of this post, you can already guess what happened: Pastor M. didn’t make the service. So my husband preached a five minute sermon without any preparation. I missed most of the sermon because I was feeding Sweet Pea but apparently the congregation liked the content. Definitely not a Sunday off for him, but it made for a memorable service!
Note: Pastor M. was fine and had a legitimate reason for missing the service (as could have been assumed since pastors don’t just forget to go to church). His car had slid off the snowy road and got stuck in a ditch. He had texted my husband to tell him this but my husband had already locked his phone in his office.
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.
Our dryer has recently had the audacity to break on me–during our bought with the stomach flu, no less.
Once upon a time, I thought I could easily get by without a dryer. What an ignorant lady I was! I’ve been frantically trying to keep up with our laundry because hanging everything to dry adds a fair amount of time to this chore. A big part of the problem is the cloth diapers.
I do a load of cloth diapers every other day since we have 2 in diapers. This load takes up almost all of the space on my drying racks. Additionally, the diapers take well over 24 hours to completely dry (and that’s with a fan blowing on them). That means other loads of laundry can’t go through the wash until the diapers are finished drying.
However, a couple of years ago I read a blog post about line drying diapers even in the winter. I didn’t save it, so I can’t reference it now, but it seemed to claim that diapers on the line could be a year-round endeavor. Generally I have no motivation to hang up diapers when it’s freezing outside, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I was a little skeptical that the diapers would dry but the only way I would know is by trying.
It was sunny, windy, and a high of 22 degrees on the day I tested this theory. I hung up the diapers at 11:15 a.m. and took them down at about 5:30 p.m. They were in direct sunlight for a good chunk of this time. I use prefold diapers and I’ve heard those generally take less time to dry than all-in-one diapers.
The diapers were frozen stiff on the line when I took them off. When I brought them inside and they thawed a bit, they were almost as wet as when I initially hung them outside. People with half a brain probably could have predicted that outcome given the fact that other sources of water remain frozen on cold, sunny days, but I was hoping something magical would happen when the sun’s rays hit the cloth diapers.
And no, science wasn’t my strongest subject in school.
Almost complete failure.
In hindsight, the half remembered blog post may have been talking about sun bleaching diapers year-round, not actually drying them. And I will admit that my diapers do look significantly brighter. However, line drying outside wasn’t the space saver I was hoping it would be since I had to rehang all the diapers inside. Ain’t nobody got time for that with a toddler and infant to tend.
I need to get the dryer repaired ASAP.
*Update on 2/9/17*
So a bit of research has shown that you can line dry clothes in the winter. . . sometimes. I think it was too humid the day I tried.
But at any rate, I fixed my dryer a few hours after I posted this! 🙂
Looking for a great baptism gift for a little one? Have I a book for you!
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It illustrated by Jonathan Mayer shows the lifelong gift that baptism provides through the text of the hymn “God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It.” The book journeys through a boy’s life, from the baptismal font as an infant to the end of his earthly life and start of his eternal life in Heaven. The illustrations are beautiful and engaging and the hymn text is the same that is found in the Lutheran Service Book.
We got this book for Sweet Pea for Christmas. She’s rather indifferent towards it (as she is to most things since she’s only 2 months old), but 2-year-old Babykins loves it. She asks me to sing it 3 or 4 times whenever she pulls out the book. A good bonus to this book is that I’m in the process of memorizing the hymn just from sheer repetition (I find this much more useful to me than memorizing Chicka Chicka Boom Boom). Likewise, my husband used the book while teaching about baptism to his confirmation students. He said that they actually enjoyed having the hymn illustrated so clearly despite them being in 6th and 7th grade and past the age of picture books.
God’s Own Child, I Gladly Say It: Buy it, sing it, enjoy it!
Babykins has made some huge language leaps the past month. One of her more recent skills is actually being able to answer what she did during an activity without me supplying the answer. Her ability to answer open-ended questions and supplement details to yes-no questions certainly make for some interesting conversations! Last Sunday, we had this discussion:
Me: Did you like going to church today?
Babykins: Uh-huh. I play phone.
Me: Yes, you played with Mrs. C.’s phone during Bible study. Did you do anything else?
Babykins: I sing.
Me: Yes, we sang hymns. What else did we do?
Babykins: I pray.
Me: We said prayers. Anything else?
Babykins: I play phone.
I’m glad she enjoys going to church but we may have to work on her priority of reasons for liking it. 😉
I’m going to regret writing this but. . .
Church with Babykins and Sweet Pea has been going much better than I anticipated.
Please note that I described the service as “going much better”, not that it is “easy”.
When I was pregnant with Sweet Pea, I would sometimes leave the church service and think, “How am I going to do this with 2?!” I would think about trying to catch an escaping Babykins while holding an infant or trying to slip out of the service to nurse Sweet Pea with a toddler in tow. It seemed impossible, especially since we sit up front.
Thankfully, Babykins is currently at a cooperative stage for church attendance. She likes hearing the music and flipping through the hymnal. She also likes being able to see the congregation, hence the reason we sit up front. And somehow I’ve managed to convince her that apple slices are an acceptable snack during the service and she’ll happily munch on those.
Likewise, Sweet Pea is proving to be an easier baby than Babykins was. She isn’t nearly as prone to crying fits as her sister, nor does she have the same intense need for movement when I wear her (I can get by with rocking her in the pew instead of marching around the back of the church). She is also a better nurser and I’m able to feed her in the pew. Sometimes she even sleeps in her car seat! About the only time I’ve left the service for Sweet Pea is when she needed a diaper change.
Of course, I’m still far from consciously getting anything from the service. I sing the liturgy mostly from memory as I awkwardly hold a hymnal open for Babykins. I half hear the readings while trying to get Sweet Pea ready to nurse. I less-than-piously stand for the prayers while keeping one eye open on Babykins lest one of her mischievous hankerings take hold of her. And there are moments throughout the service that I have one child strapped to my front and another child balanced on my hip. It’s exhausting, but manageable.
However, I’m not naive enough to think that pew wrangling will stay at this manageable level. I know handling both girls will probably get harder at some point (like when there’s 2 mobile kids in the pew. Oh my!). I’ll get frustrated and wonder what’s the point of going to church. Then it will get easier, then harder, then easier, and then someday the girls will be old enough to not need my constant attention during the service. And then I’ll be by myself again and remember with laughing fondness of this time in my life–at least that’s what the church grandmas seem to do.
Now, getting to church on time–well, that’s a different matter entirely. :p