Children, Family

The Rain and the Soul of a Child

rain soul of childRecently on a Monday afternoon, it rained unexpectedly. No thunder or lightning…just rain. The kids had been doing their schoolwork most of the day but were finished and had hoped to go outside to play. So they were not happy to see the sky open up and pour down on their plans. [NOTE: This post may contain affiliate links. It helps support our blog but we only recommend things we have tried and love!]

So we watched it pour and pour and the kids tried to think of things to do now that they were officially stuck in the house. But then the rain slowed to a steady sprinkle. Seeing that there was no thunder or lightning and that this was a pop up fall shower, I told the kids to get their rain boots on. I also told baby girl to get her new umbrella that she had colored herself. (This is the neatest umbrella that has panels of colorless drawings that your kids can color with water-proof markers…completely adorable!) They all happily obliged because they knew what was coming next.

Outside we went, into the steady sprinkles for some good old fashioned puddle jumping and playing in the rain.

This seems to be a lost art, though the instructions for doing this activity are woven into a child’s DNA. You don’t see this activity much anymore but I think it’s one that is useful to everyone who engages in it.

Playing in the rain feeds the soul of a child.

rain soul of childIt does. Scientific fact. Playing in the rain allows kids to get wet and dirty and it also allows the built up laughter deep inside of them (not just the little laughs at the surface) to bubble up and be released. This causes the mouth muscles to engage the usually-underworked latero-obglingota maxio facial muscles. Ok, so maybe that last part is a bit made up. But it does make them smile huge and constantly.

And the laughter…all the giggles! The birds in the trees even stop their singing to watch the fun the kids are having. I watch them soak up the rain into their stringy hair and a little bit inside their rain boots. They jump in puddles, the bigger the splash the better. Running in the puddles works well, too. All of this gets the heart pumping and the laughter flowing. The eyes sparkling and the soul feeding.

This is what children thrive on…fun. No bickering, no arguing, no whining and no pouting. It’s virtually impossible to simultaneously do any of these offensive kid behaviors and also play in the rain. Also scientific fact.

rain soul of childPlaying in the rain is one of the few times I can count on my kids not arguing with each other. They truly enjoy each other’s company and feed off of each other while splashing in the puddles.

Imagine all the memories they are stitching together in their childhood. Stitching together a blanket of memories that they’ll undoubtedly pull out of the closet when they’re older and wrap themselves up in it to recall those moments of pure bliss and innocence.

Maybe all of us should go play in the rain every now and then.

 

Children, Family, Uncategorized

One Day She Will Roll Her Eyes At Me

one day she will roll her eyes at meWhen our first child was born, I remember looking down at her, in awe of her newness and so in love with this warm, wiggly little being. And I remember thinking that this beautiful gift from God would one day roll her eyes at me in frustration. I knew that day would come. Because she would grow and learn and develop her own opinions and thoughts about things.

And occasionally her thoughts would be in direct opposition to my thoughts. She would grow to want to be independent and the struggle between parents holding on and children wanting to let go would rage on, like a dance with all the delicacy of a bull in a china shop.

Fast forward to today. Girl child really likes to do things by herself. Not like baby girl does…spilling the cereal all over the table because she wanted to pour it herself but does not yet possess the fine motor skills to maintain accuracy when aiming for her cereal bowl. Girl child likes responsibility. She likes to do things that confirm she’s growing up. Like emptying the dishwasher herself, including the knives. She knows what’s been off limits to her until she’s old enough. And she wants to be old enough!

So, as she gains more and more independence, I wonder where I will fit in to her world. When she was fresh from God, I was completely in charge of everything for her. Now I reach into my pockets and hand over yet another thing I managed that she now can do for herself. Lord help me when she’s old enough to drive.

That’s kind of scary. Because at some point in her life, I won’t know where she is or what she’s doing. She’ll call me and check in (she better if she knows what’s good for her!). We will chat and catch up on all the stuff she’s been into. Maybe she’ll share heartbreak with me, but who knows. Maybe not. And then, she’ll hang up and go on with her life. Without me.

As we move further away from dependence, I try to remind her how family always sticks together. How we always look out for each other, no matter what. That her brother and sister are now and will forever be her closest and best friends. She will still roll her eyes every now and then but I’m trying to plant the seeds now so that later, when she needs the tree of support and faithful love and encouragement, she’ll find us all there.

 

 

 

Children, Family, Issues!, Social media

So Strong and So Mighty

So Strong and so mightyRemember the song, “My God is so big, so strong and so mighty. There’s nothing my God cannot do”?

The mountains are His, the valleys are His. The stars are His handiwork too.

Recently I got to see something that reminded me of my childhood church. I saw a Bible Study where the folks (mostly older adults…there’s something there, too) came to each other, hugged each other, checked in on each other, exchanged smiles, enjoyed a laugh, called out to each other. I couldn’t help but think that these lovely people are an example of what we have lost in our society.

These people surely had opinions on what was going on in the world, immigration issues, whether they want more gun control or not, their thoughts on the President…the list goes on. But more so, they kept it to themselves. They didn’t plaster their polarizing opinions on social media in an attempt to be the single-handed catalyst that our United States needs right now.

Looking at these people made me long for my own childhood days of church where folks just wanted to see how “your Momma and them” are doing. Where they gathered together in earnest prayer and thanksgiving.

I think of my kids.

I give them an instruction to clean the family room. Simple enough… “Just pick up your own things. Worry about yourself.”

And then, it starts. The arguing. Sometimes they argue with each other over literally the stupidest things. Oh, they seem so important to them but as the adult peering over them, I can assure you that this thing they’re arguing about is so very unimportant. Not only that, their arguments are weak and frankly riddled with logic holes. They are just too immature and busy arguing to even realize it.

I call the offending children to me and there standing before me are two kids still going at it with each other. Each thinking of how important it is that they win this argument.

strong and so mightyThis makes me think of how we look in front of our Lord. And when I say “we”, I mean the body of Christ. We bicker and argue over the nastiness of our President, gun control, violence, world issues, free enterprise, capitalism, abortion, immigration…right in front of Him. He has given us the instruction to love our neighbor as ourselves, to follow Him and to lead others to a saving knowledge of Christ. Simple enough.

Then why are we bickering with each other? Why are we debating each other? Because of all the squabbling I’ve seen and heard, I’ve not seen or heard of one person actually doing something about it other than working out the finger muscles as a keyboard jockey, spewing back-handed insults at brothers and sisters in the name of calling out injustice.

In love, of course. As if that makes it ok.

I think God is powerful enough and the Holy Spirit moves fine without our opinions. God wins in the end. God is in control. And God is enough. What if, instead of wasting time convincing the other person why he’s wrong, we got on our knees in prayer? What if we humble ourselves to the Lord and pray?

Do you think God is big enough and strong enough?

Children, Family, Funnies..., travel

That time she almost peed in the Uber!

uberYou guys! You don’t know stress until you experience something so traumatic as hitching a ride in a lovely Uber with your littles only to hear “Momma…I have to go potty weely bad!” from the backseat. Um. wut?? The littlest of our littles has urgently advised she has to go and she can’t hold it. We are at the near beginning of our ride back into Washington DC from Alexandria during evening traffic. So, the seemingly forever 7 mile trek to the hotel is wrought with pleas of relief because her pee-pees are coming and she can’t hold it anymore!!!!!

At first we figure, how bad can she really have to go…I mean she went twice in the course of our dinner (completely normal activity for her- a combination of curiosity of what the bathroom looks like and maybe also actually having to go). There can’t really be THAT MUCH pee in her at this point. But then we start thinking, she’s really sticking to this ‘having to go potty’ mess. And she’s getting a little louder.

We try telling her “we’re almost there…look I can see it!” (we can’t see it AT ALL). That does not work.

We try telling her to imagine her pee is going back into his little house (a trick my grandma used on me as a kid and it usually bought us about 10 minutes). That also does not work.

Now we start really feeling the stress of the logistics of managing the situation if, in fact, she really can’t hold it any longer as she is now vocalizing quite loudly. I mean, there’s no way the Uber driver can’t hear what’s going on at this point. We are in a mini-van. A nicely appointed one with comfortable leather seats. Crap. What if this child actually pees on this guy’s car? What’s the protocol here?

Anyone who’s been to DC knows you can’t just “pull over” and “stop in” to a “shop”. Besides the double-parked issue, there’s also this: “No, pal, those restrooms are for paying customers only”. And a teary-eyed four-year-old whose pee-pees are coming doesn’t faze them at all. Those cold-hearted savages.

Nope. We have to make it to the hotel. We HAVE to make it to the hotel.

So baby girl is now crying, “I can’t make it! My pee-pees are coming!!” and she’s wiggling all over the place. I spot the car mats and see that they are the plastic kind with spill catching grooves all in them. Ok. Worst case scenario, I lift baby girl up, she pees all over herself onto the mat. We arrive at the hotel, give the Uber driver an extra $20 for his trouble while I take the mat into the bathroom and rinse it down.

While I’m mentally preparing for this scenario, my dear husband has come up with his own idea. He’s thinking of taking off his t-shirt and fashioning a diaper around baby girl so at least his shirt bears the brunt of her dilemma. Bless him.

uber alexandria washington DCA huge tour bus has now pulled in front of us, slowing our rate on the last leg of our seemingly endless trip. CRAP!! MOVE!! It is at this point that I know for sure that our Uber driver is in this with us as he starts maneuvering like a parent who’s kid has to pee. He weaves in and out of stupid traffic…and this is more than the efficiency that Uber drivers usually use. This guy does not want his car to be peed on. But he says nothing. He just focuses on his mission.

Finally…we round the last turn. We really CAN see the hotel. “Look baby girl! There’s our hotel! We are here!!” She’s still a crying mess. But we made it. As the driver rounds the turn in the courtyard, I’ve already unbuckled her so I can grab her and dash out of the car. Whatever happens next, I can handle.

I proclaim to the Uber driver, “we are still dry!” and he smiles at us. We thank him for this expeditiousness and I bolt to the lobby bathroom with baby girl. We make it to the bathroom, I lock the door and strip down her pants, then hoist her up on the potty. She then starts chatting about how the bathroom light turns itself on and off and did I know this? Also she can’t reach the toilet paper but that’s ok because Momma can hand her some. This is her favorite hotel ever.

Wait, what?!? GO POTTY!!!

She says, “oh yeah!” like she forgot! Then the relieving sounds of tinkling and she smiles up at me, saying, “See?? I told you I had to go!”

Traveling with little kids…ugh!!

 

 

 

 

Children, Family, parenting, Uncategorized

Don’t Cross The Line

Cross the lineEach child is uniquely different, with different personalities and different triggers to action. So what happens when your child is willfully disobedient or unruly? When they knowingly cross the line?

You’ll Break Your Tailbone!

helicopter parentRecently my little kids got roller skates! I discovered three pairs of skates at a thrift store that perfectly fit each kid. And they were the grow-with-me skates. All for the price of $9!! So I put the skates on the kids…8, 7 and 4 years old. I also made them wear their bike helmets. I never wore mine when skating, but I think the Earth’s gravitational pull is stronger now so the odds of the kids falling and busting their heads is significantly greater than when I was a kid.

Anyway…it became obvious really quickly that these kids were not good at skating. If you ever were unsure if you were a helicopter parent, put skates on your kids. You’ll find out where you stand really quickly! So, I established boundaries for skating. The kids couldn’t pass the first line in the driveway until they had become a little more proficient in not falling all over the place. Our driveway slopes upward so I was not about to let them up that hill until they showed me some skill.

Of course soon enough, girl child was a skating “pro” (not really…but she’s waaay better than she was) and boy child was completely out of control but for some reason never fell. Like ever. I’m not sure what was happening but it was almost like he couldn’t fall if he wanted to. He was a straight up mess of flailing arms and wildly kicking, rolling feet but his grin was huge and he always made it to his intended destination (the other side of the driveway into the grass). So I relaxed the rule a bit for them.

Baby girl? That was another story. She is not good at all with skating. Partly because she’s four and how good can you actually be at that age? Partly because she kept sitting down, goofing off, taking one skate off and just not getting any real practice time in. But as soon as she saw girl child and boy child crossing “the line” she wanted to cross the line as well.

Oh heck no, darling. No way in all of heck am I going to let you past that line. Are you kidding me? Have you seen yourself skate? She was not pleased that she couldn’t cross the line. So do you know what she spent the rest of skate time doing? Getting herself right up to the line and looking back at me with a sparkly eye while saying, “I’m gonna cwoss da line, Momma!”

Why would she do this? Why would she knowingly disobey me and why is she wanting to cross the line? Well, if you’ve met baby girl, you’ll know the force is strong in that one. She’s got a strong will that makes me wonder what we are going to do with her because all of our tried and true manipulation tactics do not work on this child.

So here’s the thing..and believe me when I say I’ve failed at this. Miserably. Yelling at a child like this will not make her want to change whatever she’s doing and do what it is that you want her to do. In fact, it thus becomes her mission to never do that thing you want her to do. Or conversely, she will try come hell or high water to do the thing you’ve yelled at her not to do. And this may or may not include skating past the line.

Manipulation- The Puppeetering of Childhood

We may have stumbled upon some things that work pretty good for this kind of child. I don’t claim to guarantee these will always work and maybe these are unique to baby girl. But here’s some things that we found to be effective:

  1. A distinct choice Not a crappy choice…she smells a bad deal a mile away. A good choice. Baby girl falls apart if she doesn’t get to sit next to Momma at a restaurant. Like big, loud, long-lasting fall apart. So…a trip to the bathroom to discuss options is in order. I squat down to her eye level and I ask her to quiet her cry. Then I ask her to take a breath…fill her lungs (she obliges). I tell her “here are your two options:” and I make sure to put up two fingers so she “sees” her options. “#1, you sit across from Momma now and it’ll be your turn to sit by me the next restaurant we go to. I’ll write it down. #2, we go home right now and you spend the rest of the afternoon in your room while girl child and boy child skate.” She gets to choose her fate. Now she’ll try to negotiate and I again list her two options. She’ll try to wind up her fit and I tell her the choices are gone, it’s time to go home. At this point in her young life, she can’t call my bluff so she starts yelling “No, Momma!” and I start the process over again. I give her the two choices. Once she resigns herself to choosing option 1, I tell her how proud I am of her and I ask her for a hug, which she really wants. While I hug her I tell her I’m so happy she will be across from me because I can look at her beautiful eyes when we talk. She suddenly likes this idea.
  2. “I need you to…OK?” I used to think asking a child “OK?” after I gave an instruction was a sign of weakness. But now I see it, at least for baby girl, as a way to empower her to be a part of what she’s about to do. Obviously I still manipulate the situation to produce the desired result, but she gets to actually agree “all by herself”. “Baby girl, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” or “Baby girl, I need you to pick up your books, ok?”. She usually responds favorably to this kind of request. But in the instances where she may balk, I sprinkle the request with a compliment: “Baby girl, You are always so good at helping out, I need you to help me set the table, ok?” Compliments go far with her…really far. She wants to do good. She wants to be noticed for doing what she is supposed to do. If she’s doing something she knows is good and we are a little slow to notice her, she’ll say, “Momma aren’t you so very pwoud of me?” This is the part that impresses me. She really does want to do the right thing. We’ve just got to convince her of what it is sometimes.
  3. Logic At least with Baby girl, she gets logic. She really understands it. The key is to keep it simple and attainable. So don’t threaten her with tossing all her clothes in the trash if she doesn’t put them away. That’s obviously not going to happen and it’ll reduce the credibility of your future logic arguments. Logic to baby girl looks like this: “Baby girl, I need you to put all of your markers away because I’m worried that puppy dog will get a hold of them and start chewing on them. I don’t want a marker to get stuck in her belly because she will get very sick!” Baby girl is loyal to her dog. That dog isn’t going down on her watch, no sir. That appeal to logic (or really emotion) sets baby girl in motion quickly.

Obviously, there’s much to consider with a determined child…this is just a sampling of what works for ours. We often think of how much of a challenge baby girl is, where it comes from, and how to dismantle it without breaking her spirit. There’s no one way to tackle this and it’s a moving target. The key is to adapt and adjust. I’ll reiterate what I said earlier…I have failed at all of this. But I’ve also had success. And it’s those successes that you build on.

Children, Family, Uncategorized

It’s Picture Day- I Must Paint My Face

Picture DayIt’s picture day. The day you clean your kids up, brush their hair, and press their clothes. You make it seem on print like they are cherubs who don’t break things, scrape knees, get dirty, or otherwise have kid fun whenever possible. Everyone knows this is true. And yet everyone does the same thing.

If you think about it, how often are your kids as clean and orderly as they are in the portrait hanging in your main hallway of your house? At least for us…it’s kind of never? Maybe Sunday for a few hours during church time.

Picture day should be letting kids do the very thing they were designed to to…kid things. Clean, dirty or whatever. Then when they’ve really gotten into their fun for the day, plop them on a little stool sitting in the middle of the very “creativity” they have made (read: mess) and take a really good quality portrait.

Slap it up on the wall, baby! That’s a memory. That’s the true essence of childhood.

Picture dayAnd yet here I am, thinking about the time ticking down before my kids’ scheduled picture day. I’m both impressed and mortified that baby girl decided this morning, of all days, to “play with make-up”. She smeared stamping ink all over her face. Today, of all days. It’s like her DNA code tells her that paint must be applied to her face because the energy of the universe indicates that a picture will be taken today.

I scrub baby girl’s face to the point where I can’t tell if I’m scrubbing off pink ink or irritating her skin. I make the kids brush their teeth for obvious reasons. Like quality brushing…the kind you make your kids do before their dentist appointment. You hope to fool the hygienist into believing that your kids brushed their teeth every single day like they’re supposed to. I don’t want to see last night’s pizza oregano nestled in between the two front big teeth of girl child.

Now I’ll brush their hair so it doesn’t look like the sweaty, stringy heap it does every other warm, sunny afternoon. I wipe their faces as if they don’t shove food into their mouths with such accuracy that the gooey sides of food don’t smear all over their cheeks. I save the clean clothes for the very last moment. And then bark out orders to quickly change clothes and for the love of Pete, don’t get into any messes!

We tip-toe to the car, not touching anything on the way. Don’t pick anything up, don’t run anywhere, don’t do anything. Just get into the car.

I try to manage all attitudes and interactions such that no one feels offended or slighted or anything else that causes one or all to burst into tears due to some obviously important injustice. You know, like the sun shining too much. Or the seat belt being too gray. And dear heavens do not let anyone fall asleep on the way to the picture studio.

Yes, picture day represents a completely accurate vision of childhood. It’s not at all a fictional version of my kids at any point in their little lives. If nothing else, it shows everyone what my kids look like under all their fun.

 

 

Children, Family, Holidays, Uncategorized

Top Ten Fall Activities for Families with Young Children

Fall is in the air! And you know what that means, right? It’s time to spend time together as a family. Making memories. Enjoying each other’s company…as a family. Together. All together. So, without further ado, here are our Top Ten Fall Activities for Families with Young Children!!

1. Go Apple-Picking

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenThis is such a fun activity, especially if you have children in the 3-5 year old bracket. Because you know apple trees are taller than your kids at this age. And you also know that they must do everything (EVERYTHING) themselves, right? So, be prepared to bust your back lifting your little kid into the air to get an apple from the tree. And also know they are not strong enough to pull the apple off themselves. So be prepared to then hold the child up in the air with one hand while being sneaky enough to pull the apple into the child’s hand without them knowing you actually picked the apple. Bonus points for getting mud or questionable poop-like material smeared on your shirt and pants from your kid’s shoes.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children2. Play in a Pile of Leaves

Yes! A chore someone actually managed to turn into a “makin’ memories” thing. I think dads like this one the best. Because now dads have to get the rake out and start working up a sweat to bring enough leaves into a pile worthy of his kids jumping into it and literally undoing everything he’s just done. What’s even more special is when that awesome 3-5 year old age bracket wants in on the action and says, let’s all say it together, “I wanna do it myself!”. Hand over the oversized raked to the child and just pray you aren’t close enough to the window for the butt end of it to smash through as the child halfway maintains control while flinging the rake around and “raking leaves”. Bonus points for those of you who have two kids who want to do it themselves and only one rake.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children3. Go to a Pumpkin Patch

These pumpkin patches are popping up everywhere these days. So to get this straight, I have to pay to walk around your garden to pick out my own pumpkin. Then I have to cut it from the vine and lug it all the way back to the “pumpkin hut” to pay top dollar for said pumpkin. (I know you’re over-charging me and I know it’s all part of the experience). Please know that kids only have to go to the bathroom after you are carrying a pumpkin under each arm. Bonus points for any bee stings that may occur in this activity (parents included) because bees just don’t care about your fall memories.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children4. Pick out Halloween Costumes

Never mind the thousands of conversations with your kids that starts out with them saying, “You know what I’m gonna be for Halloween?”. And never mind that you must retain all the answers over the course of the prior six months when these conversations started. At last we are close enough to Halloween that you can reasonably assume that the costume your child wants now is the one he will want come October 31st. When you realize at the store that there are no more of his desired costumes, you must make a decision. Tell him and risk a meltdown or trek across town to another store and pray that the costume is there! Bonus points for the parent who buys the costume and whose child still manages to meltdown before exiting the store.

5. Visit a Fall Festival

Ah fall festivals…the crisp air, the jaunt into the country, the smell of cinnamon and pumpkin. The miles of traffic from similar-minded parents looking to etch memories into their kids’ heads if it kills them in the process. There’s nothing quite like underestimating the ability of your umbrella stroller on a gravel road that leads to a rocky path not built for strollers. Unless you’re trying to also hang an over-packed diaper bag from the handles completely not designed to hold a diaper bag. Bonus points for kids who have to go potty real bad but refuse to use a porta-potty.

6. Take a Walk on a Nature Trail

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenWhat a lovely way to take in autumn in all it’s splendor. Who are we kidding? Take a walk anywhere with little kids and it will result in a pile of “found things” that better all be present during inventory counting at the car. So the idea is to enjoy the nature walk…maybe see a deer or pretty birds? No, you’re going to carry one of your kids back to the car because she skinned her knee and it’s bleeding down her leg and onto your fall-inspired flannel shirt. Bonus points for the parent who has to retrace steps because somewhere along the way your child’s shoe fell off.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children7. Make a Pie

Oh good grief…this is a mess. A hot mess. And someone will most likely get burned. Between “Let me do it!” and cracking an egg, be surprised if you end up with a pie at all. Little kid pies are like mystery prizes. There will be egg shells and a piece of sand or two, maybe some lint. Who knows. Upside is that the house will smell good because spices know their job and they always perform well. Bonus point to the parents who eat the pie.

8. Go for a Drive to See the Changing Leaves

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young childrenNow this is a great excursion. The kids are contained and you can put some relaxing music on and just enjoy the scenery. Don’t worry, once you’re out on the windy roads and far away from civilization. It’ll hit you. The beauty of the changing leaves will overwhelm you. If not, the smell of the diaper from the back seat will do it. There’s nothing like the feeling of hopelessness when you realize the poop has leaked onto the carseat itself so that smell? It ain’t going anywhere any time soon. Bonus points to the kid who arrives back in town wearing a diaper and nothing else because Mom and Dad forgot to put new “emergency clothes” in the diaper bag after the last explosion.

Top Ten Fall Activities for families with young children9. Visit a Petting Zoo

A lot of petting zoos have fall activities that are perfect for little kids. Things like coloring contests, face painting and cotton candy. Plus all the adorable, fluffy animals that your kid is deathly afraid of and wants nothing to do with. I smell a photo-op!! One day we’ll all look back and laugh at the picture of junior sitting on dad’s lap literally scared to death at the helpless rabbit sitting on junior’s lap. Bonus point for dad laughing his tail off instead of consoling junior. Because that’s also in the picture!

10. Take the Kids to Grandma’s House and then Go To A Movie

Now here’s a fall activity I can really get my arms around. Parents, this is realistic. This is the activity that’s going to make everyone happy. Grandma can do a fall craft with the kids and they can make those memories while Mom and Dad go relax in the cool, dark movie theatre. Go ahead and get that large popcorn and enjoy yourself. When the kids are a little older and more self sufficient, you can make those memories with them. For now, build up your energy. Because you’re gonna need it when you get the kids from Grandma’s house. You know she’s going to stuff them with “yummy sweet fall treats”, right?

 

Children, Family

Make It or Buy It? The Baby Food Dilemma

Baby girlI honestly didn’t realize this was a big issue but it is. Make it or buy it? It’s the baby food dilemma. And in this world where literally everyone has a qualifying opinion on how you should tend to your own baby, you’ve got some big decisions to make in the area of baby food. And please know that whatever decision you make, you will be wrong. I kid, of course. Know that whatever decision you make, it is the right one. (Note: This post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase a product using one of these links, the cost of the products will not increase for you but you will be supporting this blog and we thank you!)

It’s funny how people think they can answer a question you never asked when it comes to childcare. But, thanks to social media, we all have mega phones and lots to say about lots of things. So…baby food. Make it or buy it? Let me share with you what we did…because we did both. For different reasons.

For our first two children, we bought baby food. I honestly didn’t give a single thought to making it. Both my husband and I worked full-time, which meant the kids were in daycare all day. I know, we’re horrible parents. So, having jars of baby food was extremely convenient, both for packing their bags for daycare and for managing dinner when we all piled into the house, hungry after a long day.

No one died from eating jar baby food. And to my recollection, the kids loved eating it. There was no issue. We did dabble some in the “organic” baby foods once we stumbled upon it by accident. Those marketing geniuses preyed on the insecurities of new parents by slapping the word “organic” on the front of a beautifully natural-looking baby food jar and suddenly we have to spend more money on those jars just so we aren’t bad parents feeding our babies pesticide-ridden baby food. Well played, marketing department.

Now, for our third child, I made the baby food. Let me set the stage a bit here. Baby girl was born prematurely so we had a heightened awareness of her health and making sure she was protected from germs. Legitimately so, as she was at extreme risk of things like RSV and the unknown possible effects of prematurity like a weakened immune system, etc. Also in play, my husband became a stay-at-home dad since baby girl couldn’t go to daycare for at least two years- doctors orders.

So I pumped at work (I had built up a monstrous stash of breastmilk while baby girl was still in the NICU, eating only .5oz while I pumped out a good 6oz every two hours) and she was exclusively breastfed for six months. Then we introduced rice cereal slowly. She stayed on that for a bit because she was still developmentally two months behind. We generally went slower with her, but then she got good at eating the cereal so we decided to add a vegetable.

Baby foodIt was at this point I decided, uneventfully, to make her veggies instead of buy them. I don’t even recall being twisted up about it. I just said, “You know, I’ll just steam veggies, drain them and then store them in ice cube trays so we’ll have ready-to-thaw serving sizes”. It really didn’t take much time at all and it ended up being really convenient. We used these Baby Food Cube Trays to keep the food protected from any possible funky smells in the freezer as well as to help make it super easy to remove the food from the trays.

Once she was ready for combo foods, I just pureed whatever we were eating and put them into ice trays. So she was eating what we were eating. And bonus…she transitioned to table food way easier. She was familiar with the taste and texture we were already serving so it worked out great in that respect.

So, I say all of that to say this…don’t lose any sleep over whether to feed your baby from a jar or to feed your baby homemade baby food. Your baby will be fine either way (unless she has some rare issue that the doctor has specified going one way or the other. In that case, listen to the doc!). Don’t worry about what your friends or your family says.

Do what’s best for you. This is probably the hardest lesson for new parents to learn but you will not break your kids. You have what’s in you to do the best for your family. Trust yourself. Feed your kids. Change their diapers. Love them. Let them sleep. Enjoy them.

 

Tell us your thoughts on baby food. Is this an issue for you at all? What’s your preference…make it or buy it?

Children, Family, Uncategorized

Evening Tea

evening tea 8A few nights ago, our little girls wanted to have evening tea. They wanted some “girl time”. So I took it upon myself to use this precious occasion to blackmail them into baths that didn’t take forever to get started, drag on incessantly and leave the bathroom floor a wet mess.

Yes I did.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why in the world would you have the girls get cleaned up with baths and then give them spillable tea?!” I do not know. Really…I do not know what I was thinking other than I took an opportunity to forego a wet bathroom floor and a frustrating overall bath time by using good old fashioned blackmail.

Evening Tea2 Evening Tea3 evening tea 9

So after a splendid and efficient bath time, I held up my end of the bargain and prepared the girls’ tea time. The girls were so excited and started talking to each other about proper tea drinking technique. Like raising your pinky finger and sipping slowly. Putting the cup down gently and saying “that’s just lovely” and stuff like that. The water finished boiling and the girls picked out their tea flavor…they both chose peach tea. They started steeping their tea bags and I added some sugar to their cups. If I left it to them, there would be so much sugar that you’d be able to eat the tea instead of drink it!

Evening tea 10At that point, I left the girls to their “girl time” at the kitchen island. The girls started chatting about little girl things, pretty things, fancy things, etc. And they were giggling a bit, just enjoying each other’s company. And then…things started going south. Because what starts out as a cute, sweet moment with little giggles often turns into excessive silliness and little kid disgusting jokes. My sweet girls…making each other laugh by making farting noises and picking their noses.

It’s funny, you picture these Norman Rockwell moments with your kids. Then they go and act like regular kids and completely pop that bubble of perfection in a way that only little kids can do. Sometimes we want perfection and that’s just not how kids are made. They are made to be silly and funny. They certainly are made to remind us cranky adults to stop and enjoy little things for what they are…a bunch of farting, nose-picking silly girls just enjoying some evening tea. What’s not to love about that?!

 

Children, Family, Homeschool

Totality…almost.

Totality almost baby girlLast week was the week of the total eclipse across the entire continental United States. And we were in the path of totality…almost. We were in the path of 97% totality. What’s a measly 3%, anyway?! Well…when you’re dealing with the sun, apparently 3% of the sun is still super bright. More on that later.

So…the day of the eclipse arrived and the kids were super excited. This was a homeschool day focused completely on what happens with an eclipse, how the moon covers the sun, how the shadow screams across the ground lightning fast although it seems to us on the ground like it’s taking forever!! We had bought our glasses awhile back (shout out to dear husband for thinking of buying them back before the price jacked up with supply and demand!) and those glasses came with an eclipse book. So we poured over the book while we waited our turn for the big show. On the east coast, that was about 2:30pm so we had time to watch the eclipse on TV as it made its way across the country.

Pinhole Eclipse ViewerI had found cute pinhole eclipse viewers you can make out of cereal boxes so we spent some time making those as well. As much as my OCD self wanted to take command of this project, I made myself stand back and let the kids cut out the holes, tape the tin foil and…poke the hole in the foil! I need a minute for this one because every fiber of my being wanted to manage the ‘poke the hole’ step!!

But, I let them do the whole project and the kids ran outside to look in their viewers. They were not pleased. I’m not sure what they thought they were going to see, but a little bright circle at the bottom of a box of Special K was not it! So, the boxes were kind of flung to the side. But at least it was time spent having fun making a craft. Memories, right? 🙂

I had put on my viewing glasses just to see what the sun looks like through them and low and behold, the moon was already kissing the edge of the sun!! “The moon!!!”, I screamed like a little kid,  “I can see the moon!! It’s starting!!”. And my own little ones came scampering outside with their glasses loosely attached to their heads. It was in this moment that I realized that baby girl’s glasses would never stay on her face. So, the resourceful side of me poked holes in the back edge of the glasses and I tied twine pieces to the holes.

Then I tied the glasses to baby girl’s face. Yep…tied them to her face. Worked perfectly!

So…in all of this excitement we had told our dear children, “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We can’t make it happen again so don’t miss it! We aren’t going to stop looking at the eclipse because you are having a fit. You are on your own until after the totality.” Because, for real…this IS a big deal!!

So, we had thought the wildcard would be baby girl. She’s got a knack for pitching a fit at the worst times. But she did great! No… the dark horse of the day was boy child and I’m debating to tell you why he was pouting right at the moment of maximum coverage of the moon…

He wanted to eat hummus. Right then. At that moment. Yeah. you read that right. He wanted to eat hummus. It was all we could do to get those glasses on his head and make him look at the sun!

“Look at the sun right now, son!!” If I had a nickel for every time I’ve said that…

The moment was upon us. All the kids were quietly watching. We took off our glasses to look at the darkness around us that wasn’t there…begin commentary now:

Totality almost eclipse maximumHey, it isn’t dark!..Hey, the moon isn’t completely covering the sun..I thought the street lights would come on!..It isn’t even cold!…Where’s the stars??

This picture is the moment of maximum moon cover. This is 97% totality:

So, feeling a bit disappointed ourselves, we start talking about how bright the sun is. How when only 3% of the sun is showing, it’s still bright enough to cast shadows, still bright enough that we can see to read, still bright enough to feel hot outside, still bright enough to burn your eyes …It’s bright!! Although for a few minutes, we were able to see a single planet in the sky.

So, it was totality…almost. But for us, it was an entire day of lifetime memory making. And though I didn’t see the Bailey’s beads, the wispy corona or the diamond ring effect I had an entire day of time with the kids that we will undoubtedly be talking and laughing about years in the future around our Thanksgiving table…

“Remember that summer where we had a total (almost) eclipse?! Who was complaining about the hummus??