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. . .


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.

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.


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. 😉