Public Bathrooms: Just Another Reason My Children Will Need Therapy

In February, the girls and I took our first long road trip since the previous October (note: the definition of a long road trip is a drive that requires a bathroom stop). I already knew bathrooms were a challenge for Babykins. She’s still small enough that she’s uncomfortable sitting on a regular-sized toilet and the echos of most public bathrooms make her nervous. On this particular trip, I had already given up on getting her to pee on an actual toilet–the little travel potty in the back of the van would suffice for her. However, I still needed a real bathroom.

Since it was lunchtime, I found a McDonald’s for us to stop at. I strapped Sweet Pea into the stroller, helped Babykins out of the van, and cheerfully announced, “Okay, Mommy has to go potty before we order food!” We traipsed inside and found the bathroom.

In typical traveling-solo-with-littles fashion, my best laid plans went to pot immediately. The handicap stall, the stall big enough for the stroller to squeeze into, was out of order. Since I had already unloaded the girls out of the van, we were committed to this stop and I really needed to use the restroom. Thankfully, it was a small bathroom that only had one other stall. I parked the stroller in front of the stall door, firmly told Babykins not to move away from the stroller, and locked myself into the stall.

Sweet Pea started crying as soon as I stepped out of her sight. “It’s okay, Sweet Pea,” I crooned, “Momma’s right here!” Sweet Pea just cried harder. “Babykins, can you play patty-cake with Sweet Pea?” I called out.

“Otay!” her little voice replied, “Pat cake, pat cake. . .” Then disaster struck.

As I mentioned earlier, it was a small bathroom. When Babykins moved to the front of the stroller, she stepped directly under the hand dryer. The AUTOMATIC hand dryer. The dryer roared to life directly above Babykins’s head.

I rushed to finish my business as both girls started screaming. “Babykins, move away from the dryer!” I shouted. Then the automatic toilet flushed and both girls screamed louder. I burst out of the stall and Babykins attempted to scale my leg like a terrified cat while Sweet Pea thrashed in the stroller.

I can only imagine what horrors people outside of the bathroom thought were occuring as I tried to calm my hysterical girls down. After a few minutes, I managed to convince Babykins that I needed to wash my hands but I would dry them on my pants. I wouldn’t make the hand dryer turn on. She continued to tremble by my leg as I changed an equally perturbed Sweet Pea on the changing table. A quick text message asking a friend to use the bathroom at her house as our next potty break ensured that we would not have to endure another torturous public bathroom experience on this particular trip.

Consequently, our road trips from now on will be limited to a) trips that my husband can come with us or b) places that have friends along the way so we can use their bathrooms.

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Thunder Cake

A stormy afternoon yesterday gave us the perfect opportunity to make thunder cake. What is thunder cake? It’s the cake that a grandma and her granddaughter make as a storm rolls in in Patricia Polacco’s book Thunder Cake. The book tells a lovely story of a grandmother-granddaughter bond and what bravery actually is, a perfect read for Babykins since storms now make her nervous.

After the girls and I read Thunder Cake, I pulled out the ingredients for the cake and we set to work. The full recipe can be found at the back of the book, but I’ll share the “secret” ingredient now: Tomatoes (specifically, pureed tomatoes)!

I was skeptical about how a cake with tomatoes would taste. I like tomatoes well enough, but in a cake? Really? Oh my goodness, the cake is delicious (even despite the fact that I didn’t add and cream the ingredients one at a time. It’s hard trying new recipes when you have little helpers). My issue with homemade cake is that it’s usually dry but this cake was wonderfully moist. My husband said that the cake was birthday-cake worthy–high praise from a guy who would prefer an ice cream cake.

Admittedly, the frosting is store bought. Likewise, I had some issues getting the cake out of the pans.

The only problem is that I fear I have set a precedence for making cake every time it storms. Although maybe that isn’t such a bad idea!


Pew Wrangling with a 1 year old and 3.5 year old

Growing up, my family of 5 sat together unless my dad or brother needed to usher. I figured that’s how church worked–unless you had extended family in church, you sat with your parents. Consequently, I always imagined that all my children would sit with me in the pew on Sunday mornings.

Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. . .

I did solo wrangle Babykins and Sweet Pea for over a year. But as Sweet Pea gets older, she gets wigglier and louder. I often have to take her to the back of the church during the sermon. And while Babykins generally sits quietly in the pew, taking her to the back with Sweet Pea and me meant she started crawling on the floor and talking loudly.

I asked our church grandma if I could leave Babykins with her when I needed to take Sweet Pea to the back. After a few weeks of this method, Babykins was begging to sit with Granny the entire service.

I was hesitant–after all, children should sit with their parents–but Babykins had also started to feed off of Sweet Pea’s antics and would try to cling to me as I wrestled with her sister. Truth be told, Babykins behaves better when separated from her sister. Now she peacefully sits with Granny. When I glance back at her, she’s either observing what is happening around her or eating her snack.

As for Sweet Pea, she’s much more of a handful in church than her sister was. Most of this is because she’s so much louder than Babykins! I generally let her be as loud as she wants during most of the service (as long as she’s not screaming for screaming’s sake) and try to keep her quieter during the readings, sermon, and prayer of the church.

I’m still making it through church without a designated “busy bag”, but I do pack her a snack, a couple of crayons, a doll, and a book for Sunday mornings. Sometimes I can keep her quieter during the sermon by whispering the text of the book I’ve brought (I usually choose a book by Joni Walker or a Kloria Publishing book). Often I need to take her to the back during the last few minutes of the sermon because she gets too wiggly to contain in the pew. Sundays are exhausting now, but my hope is that if I keep on patiently teaching her how to “do” church, she’ll be as good as her sister in a couple of years.


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. . .


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!


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


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.


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.