Caution: HOT

Annalise has some fancy rolls of tape, each with a different design or picture on them. It is really a nice addition to the mounds of oh-so-adorable paper/glitter glue/tape creations. A mom just can’t get enough of those, you know. The fancy tape also comes in handy when hanging, say, artwork you’ve created just especially for your doggy’s kennel decor. “So she has something pretty to look at while she’s locked up.” How very thoughtful, wouldn’t you say? I’m sure the hours locked in the box are worth it, now that she has beautiful drawings to eat view.

One of Annalise’s tape rolls doubles as a “Caution” sticker. It reads: CAUTION HOT!

After asking her dad what it said, she realized how useful this tape could be. So, she began sticking it in appropriate places as a clear warning to all.

The oven door:

photo(50)(And yes, that is the reflection of Jacob in his undies in the background. Undies and a shirt is an improvement. Lately, he’s preferred no clothing at all.)

My curling iron:

photo(51)Useful stuff.

Before taping up her warnings, Annalise was curious about the message. “Daddy, what does ‘Caution Hot’ actually mean?”

Matt explained it was like a warning that something was hot, so people won’t get burned.

“So, what’s hot?” she wondered out loud.

His reply, “Well, whatever you put the tape on.”

And so with a look of panic, she quickly ripped her “Caution Hot” tape off her finger.



And also… this:


Yeah. I couldn’t believe it either. Not sure I’m ready for this.

But, for those especially bad hair days, or when you have a massive zit in the middle of your forehead, or when you feel like crying because your “baby” is looking like she’s just aged a few years just because her hair got shorter and now it’s time to register her for kindergarten, or all of the above, that fancy tape can really come in handy…

photo(52)So there’s that.

Parenting Ain’t for Sissies

People always say parenting is hard.

Mom always said, “Parenting ain’t for sissies, Baby.”

There never were truer statements. But I don’t think they mean the same thing…

Hard: Raising teens (I’m sure.) Watching your child hurt. Watching your child fail. All the excruciating times you have to step back and let go. Loving unconditionally. Yes, fully and unconditionally. Hearts full of that much love leave room for lots of heartache. It just does. Hard.

Then there are the times that aren’t necessarily hard, but they require you to step-up. To buck-up. To actually parent when you feel like not. It’s not for sissies… Right, Mom?

There are the obvious times… Most of which stem from the selfishness of kids that are 2 (and 5/6) and 5 (and 1/3). There’s the fighting over toys, who gets to do what first, not wanting to obey because they’d rather be doing anything else. These daily trials can be challenging, but mainly because it requires tons of patience to deal with the same issue 17 million times a day while still remaining calm. It’s seriously exhausting. If I have to referee another battle over which toothbrush someone may or may not have just touched, or if I have to hear one. more. argument. over who gets to pray first, I might just lose it. 

Do you have these same parenting frustrations? Do you also feel like not parenting, but instead snapping, “Seriously? SERIOUSLY?? You’re going to fight over praying??? Do you not see the irony, children???” I’m making myself buck-up here. I’m doing my best to not lose it. But I’m feeling a bit sissy-ish. You, too? How ’bout let’s all pray about it? K? Just ME FIRST.

Parenting is also hard because of the tricky life-balances we parents try to manage. Independence vs. protection. Doing things that have to get done (or we want to get done) vs. doing things with them that help them grow/learn. Teaching/helping vs. letting them figure it out on their own. Finding the right balance is hard. Making the choices you feel are best and not carrying guilt is hard. And definitely not for sissies.

Then there are the once-in-a-while situations that come up that I’d never thought of before. The things that suddenly smack you in the face and make you think, “Oh, crap. How am I supposed to handle this? WHERE IS MY PARENTING HANDBOOK???” These are the things that may or may not be hard, but they are the reasons “sissies” can’t exist in parenting.

I don’t know about your kids, but my kids are good at coming up with these situations. It’s like they enjoy testing my parenting creativity. I wonder if mom can keep her cool when we do this. She’ll never expect it! Or, I can’t wait to see mom’s face when she hears what we’re saying! I bet she’ll have no clue what to do! They’re testing my level of sissy-ness…

I’m certain that last one is what my two cherubs were saying just the other morning. It started when they asked permission to get out the watercolor paint brushes to play with, without the paint. There were 14 brushes, so they divided them up evenly. Each of their 7 brushes then received a made-up name so they could play as though the brushes were people. I heard the naming begin, “This one’s Bumble. This is Mxtrah. That one will be Peetose…” and headed out of the room to blow-dry my hair.

Several minutes went by, the sounds of their playing with the paintbrush people drowned out by the hum of the hairdryer.

And then I turned the dryer off.

What I heard next was bad. I can’t even write it, it’s that bad. But in order to tell the story, I have to sorta-kinda write it. What I heard next was my darling female child say something I’ve never said, Matt’s never said, and I’m absolutely certain her babysitters and Bible class teachers have never said. She said the inappropriate phrase – appropriately – with a tone of anger and frustration. Directed to whom, I was not sure. When I turned the dryer off, what I heard my darling say was, “Come HERE, Witch!” Only not witch. Only she said that same word but with a different beginning letter.

That’s right. My sweet girl just called someone – and I was not sure who – the “B word.” And she had said it with attitude.

Yeah. I was shocked, too. So much so that I was certain she couldn’t have actually said it. I didn’t move. But then I heard it again.“I said, COME HERE, WITCH!” Oh no. she. didn’t.

I headed to where they were playing. Wanting to run, but actually going much slower because I wasn’t sure what I was going to say once I got there. It was one of those tricky parenting moments not made for sissies. There is not handbook for these. My goal was to 1) Stop the use of the word. Immediately. 2) Figure out where she learned it. 3) Not draw too much attention to it so as to increase curiosity of said bad word, causing it to be used when mom is not around. You know, to inform other kids that “Witch” is a never-to-be-said-bad-word .

My brain snapped to attention when I heard it again. “Witch! You’re not listening to me! Go to time out, Witch!”

“Annalise! What are you saying???” I gasped. Probably not the right approach, because it brought out the word again.

“I was telling Witch to come here. She didn’t listen, so I sent her to time out.”

“Stop saying that word!”

“What word? Witch?”

“Yes! That word! That is very bad word! Where did you hear it?”

“Witch is not a bad word! I didn’t hear it anywhere. I just made it up! (Pointing to the brushes.) This is Bumble. This is Peetose. This is WITCH!”

“Annalise, PLEASE stop saying that word! It is very naughty!”

“Why? What does Witch mean? And how can it be naughty when I just made it up?”

Cringing every time it slips off her tongue. “Oh dear. STOP saying it. It doesn’t matter what it means. It’s naughty. And you maybe just made it up, but it’s a real word. A very naughty word.” Not doing so good at goal #3. Lots of attention to the word here. LOTS.

“Mommy, I didn’t know Witch was naughty. I just made it up. I didn’t know I was making up a naughty word.  So I can’t say Witch even though I just made it up?”

Goal #1 FAIL. It’s now been said WAY too many times. “NO. I already said not to. STOP. NOW. Don’t say it again. Ever.”

“Ok. I won’t. I just didn’t know it was bad. I just made it up. I promise.”

“I know. You didn’t know. Just stop.”

“Ok, Mom. What can I name it then. Is Pitch a bad word? Can I call it Pitch?”

“No. Pitch isn’t bad. Call it that. It’s a real word, but it’s not bad.”

I headed back to the bathroom, thinking about the odd chances here. 14 paint brushes named random made-up names. And the one that is being naughty and getting talked to sternly just happened to be named “Witch.” Nope, they don’t make a handbook for moments like these.

And then… yes the story doesn’t end there… I was snapped to attention once again as I heard my two littles singing a song to one of the paint brushes I hadn’t yet met. This one named “Axs.” (When spoken by Jacob, this word is remarkably similar to a word that means “butt.”) And no, I’m not even joking. You just can’t make this stuff up. The song they were singing, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, caused the paintbrush’s name to slur together, sounding like a string of swear words. “Axs-axs-axs. Axs-axs-axs. Axs-axs-axs-axs-aaaxss….” And so I headed back in to tell them again. Axs’ name must change. It doesn’t matter what it means. Yes, I know you just made it up. Yes, Max is more appropriate. Thank you.

14 made-up names. 2 swear words. 58 times I cringed hearing my angels swear. What are the chances?

Yes. Parenting ain’t for sissies. Because there is just no way you can plan for moments like this. Moments where you’re caught completely off guard, trying to figure out how to handle any given situation the best way. And most of the time, the best way doesn’t even seem to exist.

Another tricky parenting moment: Jacob sat on the toilet for five minutes the other day. Refusing to let me wipe his bum because… he didn’t like the softness of the toilet paper. Um, yeah. 2 years old. Only been using a toilet for about two months. And he has opinions about the toilet paper.

“Not for sissies” parenting moment because: 1) You are TWO and don’t get that much control. 2) The fact that you have such strong opinions about your toilet paper’s softness – after just two months of using it – is highly concerning to me and our future. So what happens next in this conversation needs to be thought-through and planned out carefully. 3) And this is the biggest reason this was a tricky moment… This is just. plain. sad. You have no idea how easy you have it. Some kids don’t get choices of toilet paper. Or have toilet paper at all. Or toilets. Or baths. Or food. Or love. And how do you teach a 2 year old to appreciate how blessed we are without making their little innocent minds aware of the injustices and cruelty of this world?

You don’t. You can’t. He is innocent. Innocent with a spoiled little American “axs.” But he is too young to know the pain of this world.

And so he sat. For five minutes. After I calmly told him that in this house, we are thankful for what we have. Even if we don’t like the too-soft-TP, we are thankful. And when he was ready to be thankful and have a happy heart, I would wipe his dirty little bum with the t00-soft-TP. His stubborn heart held out for 5 minutes before he was willing to give in to the fluffy softness.

Those innocent little hearts. But they so make mine melt.

Mom is right. It ain’t for sissies. Heart-pounding. Heart-racing. Heart-breaking. Heart-wrenching.

And heart-meltingly-wonderful.

Mother of the year? I think not…

I’m a terrible mother. I’m fairly certain of this because of a number of situations that have transpired these past few days that, instead of reacting the way a “normal” or “good” mother would react, my reactions were more, well, um… terrible.

Example #1.  A few days ago while getting ready, I heard uproarious laughter coming from the kids’ bedroom. That morning, they had struggled with getting along. I had sent them to their room to get dressed. Now, suddenly, there were gut laughs and squeals of delight, followed by even more gut laughs. I knew immediately: something must be up.

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Drop everything and go quickly to their room to find out what bad thing is happening and put a stop to it!

My Reaction: Pray they aren’t going to end up seriously injured while doing what is undoubtedly a very bad idea. Let the laughter and giggles and squeals continue. Because frankly, I just can’t handle one more stupid argument. And because there is really nothing that makes me laugh as much as hearing those two gut laugh so hard.


Example #2. After I had finished getting ready – a good 5 minutes into the giggles – I finally decided to see what was so hilarious. I discovered my 2 darling angels, completely buck naked, each with their own undies around their ankles, both feet in just one leg hole. Ever try to walk with your undies around your ankles, both feet in just one leg hole? You fall immediately. Apparently, this is utter hilarity for a 5 and 2 year old. One would get up, the other would fall, sending both into wild fits of laughter.

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Make the kids get dressed. Talk about appropriate behavior. Maybe even give consequences since they should know better and were supposed to be dressed by now.

My Reaction: Laugh. Hard. Then give them a few challenges, such as: Both of you get up. See who can make it across the room first. Laugh hysterically with them when they both crash to the ground. Give them a 3 more minutes of play time before they’ll need their clean undies pulled up, with clean clothes on, too.


Example #3: I discovered a new word of Jacob’s: titch. The first sentence he said with the word: I don’t like titch. After probing for clarification, he says, “I don’t like it when it’s titch. I don’t like the titch dark.”

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Correct his pronunciation. Make for darn sure he never says “I don’t like titch” again.

My Reaction: Laugh. Hard. While hiding my face. And then think of every opportunity to get him to say it again. Because it is so. darn. hysterical.


Example #4: The kids got silly puddy in their stockings. My sister told me a horror story of a friend’s child who got it stuck in her hair, and they had to cut it out. I stole the silly puddy and put it in a drawer for a rainy day. Yesterday, I was cleaning out that drawer with the kids’ “help,” and they found the stolen silly puddy. They asked me how it got in there.

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Tell the truth. Let them know that they’re just not quite old enough to play with it.

My Reaction: Change the subject and tell them they can play with it tomorrow.


Example #5: The kids are excited to play with their silly puddy, but they can’t remember the name of it. They do know it starts with an s and a p. So, every single time they mention it, the words are different. “Mommy, when do we get to play with the smooshy piddle?” “MOMMY! Look what I can do with my squishy pedal?” “Mommy, can we play with the stoley pud tomorrow?” “Mommy! I love my squooshed puggle so much!”

A Good Mom’s Reaction: I don’t know. Maybe correct their pronunciation? Maybe not? I’m not sure what a good mom would do. Just probably not what I did.

My Reaction: Laugh. Hard. While hiding my face. (I’m noticing a pattern here.) Tell Matt. Laugh with him. Hard. While hiding our faces. Enough that they figure it out and have hurt feelings. But still don’t tell them the real words.


Example #6: The kids love Play-Doh. I hate Play-Doh. It sits in a box on the top shelf in their closet. I think I’ve gotten it out once in the last year and a half. (Probably a lot less than a good mom would.) Something came over me today (maybe a smidge of goodness) and I got it down for them. The whole lot of it. We set up a massive play-doh station at the table. I was reminded how much I hate the horrible stuff. It’s all over the table, floor, and chairs in 0.2 milliseconds. Both kids need my help simultaneously and for every. single. second. of their play time (which is supposed to be my folding laundry time.)

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Play! Lovingly. With smiles and giggles and warm fuzzies. Then clean it all up together in a way that is reminiscent of Mrs. June Cleaver, while looking forward to the next time you’ll all have this much fun with Play-Doh again… next week.

My Reaction: Play. Hate every second. Complain about it on Facebook. Think of every possible excuse, no bribe, to get them to want to quit. Finally win with a trip to pizza for dinner. Yes, I bought them out. And with unhealthy food. Then, while we all clean up, quickly put lids on the containers so the big chunks still on the table would have to be thrown in the garbage. Less Play-Doh next time = Less headache next time. Decide that’s a genius idea, and throw away two of the containers when they aren’t looking. Plan on not getting the stuff out for another year and a half, so they’ll likely never notice the missing containers. Pray that by then, the stuff will be all dried out anyway… Right now this moment, considering opening the container lids… just a smidge. To help with the whole drying out biz…


Example #7: While vacuuming up the remaining Play-Doh mess, send the kids to get shoes on so we can head-out to pizza. (I’m a mom of my word.) They come back, ready to go. But Annalise has made a serious fashion faux-pas and has put neon green Christmas socks on over – yes over her white tights with adorable jumper.

A Good Mom’s Reaction: Another one I’m not sure about. What do you good moms do in this situation? Let her wear it? Make her take it off? Or would you do what I did?…

My Reaction: Gently question her choice in attire. “Are you sure you want to wear Christmas socks?” (As thought that is the biggest problem here.) When she confirms that yes, this is exactly what she wants to wear, go with it. Again laughing. Hard. While hiding my face. When she asks about playing with her “squishy puddle” tomorrow and you laugh, and she gets upset because “you’re laughing at how I said that!” Do everything in your power to not reply, “Yes, I’m laughing at your squishy puddle. And your outfit.” Because that might be crushing to a 5-year old. Who really is about the cutest thing despite the strange choice in clothing.

Then, when at the pizza parlor, take a picture. And post it on your blog for all to see…


up at night

In the wee hours of the morning, my sweet boy climbs into my bed. Obviously wide awake, as though he’d been up a while contemplating life. He leans over and kisses me. Then he sits up. Yes. Yes, he has been up contemplating life. And he has something to say about it.

In a thoughtful tone, he leans over and says to me, “Momma, how come I always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, ALWAYS… eat a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and a lot, and A LOT of boogers? I fink it’s kinda weally weally weally weally weally weally weally gwoss.”

Apparently, these are the things that keep 2-year-olds up at night.

We’re going to have to work on that. On the booger-eating thing.

And also, I think I’ll teach him about adverb variety. It might be really really really really really helpful to improve his word choice.