Parent Test

Am I the only mom that stresses out when I get to the doctor’s office for one of the kid’s well-check appointments and am handed the 17-page form to fill out asking all the questions about what your child can and can’t do? You know the ones. They usually send them a week early so you can leisurely fill them out in the comfort of your own home.

Unless, of course, you never receive them. Or forget to check the mail. Or accidentally throw them in the recycle bin and don’t remember you’re supposed to have the form until you’re 5 minutes past the time you should be heading out with the little one to said wellness check. Not that that’s ever happened to me.

Maybe I’m the only one that panics when I get to the appointment and they hand me the (second copy of the) massive questionnaire that really feels like it’s testing my parenting abilities as much as it’s testing my child’s development.

We always start off great. The first section is “Communication.” Oh yes, he has this one down. I’m feeling pretty good at this point.

Then comes the “Gross Motor” section.

“Without holding onto anything for support, does your child kick a ball by swinging his leg forward?” Well, he can kick his sister while standing up, so I think that counts. Yep, doing good here, too.

And then, “Fine Motor.” This one proves to be a bit more challenging for me.

“Does your child thread a shoelace through either a bead or an eyelet of a shoe?” Uh-oh. I don’t know. Never done this. He has velcro, I’m wearing flip-flops. This is a problem. Maybe I’ll just skip just this one and they won’t even notice.

“After he watches you draw a line from the top of the paper to the bottom with a crayon, does your child copy you by drawing a single line on the paper in the same direction?” Oh crap. I’ve never sat with my child and drawn a straight line and asked him to do the same. Clearly, this is something I should have done, or they wouldn’t have asked. I already skipped one question, so I can’t leave this one blank. But I also can’t answer until I’ve tried, and the only paper I have right now to try this on is this paper. So now they will see my line and his line and know I don’t draw lines with my son, and so I had to while at the appointment in the waiting room. And they’ll think I’m a terrible parent for never doing this before.

Repeat this entire scenario for the next question about drawing circles. Yes, he can. But I’m not sure he can when I ask him to draw this shape.

Next is the “Problem Solving” section.

“Without showing him how, does your child purposefully turn a small, clear bottle upside down to dump out a crumb or a Cheerio?” Um… I have never done this, either! And I have no clear bottle and cheerio in my purse. MOM FAIL. But know what? I’m gonna just go ahead and say yes. Because give him a bottle with a chocolate chip in it? And that boy will do anything, anything, to get that chocolate out.

This section really tests my parenting, because at this point – the point at which the questions begin to make me panic –  the kids have sat unattended far too long and are now whacking the glass of the aquarium and hollering at the fish, or possibly jumping up and down on a chair while shouting hello to all the passer-byers on the other side of the half-wall. Or both. Not to mention, we are in an waiting room full of sick and coughing people, and Jacob is now licking things and rolling around on the dirty germ-infested floor.

I’m absolutely certain the “receptionist” is not filling out forms, because she is actually a spy taking notes on how I’m handling this situation in order to determine whether or not I am fit to parent. I know this, because while trying to settle my panic from the licking incident and calm my nerves about my parenting fails on the parenting test child development survey, I do my best not to yell and instead ask my children in my ever-so-sweet voice to sit quietly beside me, but to no avail. I then firmly (but discretely) grab the arm of my defiant 3-year-old while maintaining my composure and a smile on my face and whisper some threatening punishment in his ear, to which he says out loud, “NO! Do NOT pinch my bottom! DO. NOT. DO IT!” From across the room, I can see the receptionist/spy smile in response and clack louder on her keyboard, obviously reporting my horrible parenting strategies. I flash her a smile while she glances up, but then quickly give my child the look when she looks back down at her computer screen. He reluctantly climbs in the chair and sits down.

Children now quietly reading germ-doused books next to me, I move on to the next question:

“Does your child put things away where they belong?” WHAT? Really? WHAT child does this? Seriously. Give me their names, address, phone number. I want to TALK TO THEIR PARENTS. Because my child can do this, but he doesn’t do this. Not without some seriously exhausting action on my part. Because know what? Parenting is HARD, doctor, it’s HARD. These little people… they like to do whatever they want. And then they like to go to Grandma’s or the babysitter’s and pretend they are so obedient. But that is just not the case. So NO. NO, my child does NOT put things away where they belong.

He’s climbing on the chair again. At least his tongue is in his mouth…

“When you say, ‘Say seven three,’ does your child repeat the numbers in the correct order? Do not repeat the numbers. If necessary, try another pair of numbers…”
I don’t know. So I try. “Jacob, say seven three.”
He shakes his head no.
“Jacob, say it. Say the numbers I said.”
He looks at me confused, “Why, Mom? Dat’s not even da wight way.”
“Yes, I know it’s not the right way. Just say them.”
“Say what ones?”
Good grief. “Say seven three. Oh wait. No. I wasn’t supposed to repeat it. Say eight two.”

He looks at me like I’m crazy.
“Jacob, the test says you have to say it. Just SAY
Seven-free or eight-two? Which one?”

I finish the questionnaire and go back to one I skipped earlier, because he was busy scaring the fish at the time. This one shows an incomplete picture of a person.

photo(80)“When you point to the figure and ask your child, ‘What is this?’ does your child say a word that means a person? Responses like ‘snowman,’ ‘boy,’ ‘man,’ ‘girl,’ and ‘daddy’ are correct. Please write your child’s response here: ______________”

And so I do. I show him. I ask him. But I don’t know whether his answer is correct. I just write his response on the line and add put a question mark by it. Because at this point, I’m seriously done. D-O-N-E, folks. I don’t even care right now if they think I’m a bad parent. I just want to get the kids and get out. Because the fish are frightened enough, the licking may continue at any moment and he may or may not have already contracted some rare disease, the receptionist/spy is starting to get suspicious, and I’m seriously failing at this parenting test. I don’t even know if his answer is correct because no, he doesn’t say “It’s a boy.” Or anything similar to their right answers. Not even “It’s a snowman.” He says this:


“It’s a penguin. Da penguin poked his eye off.”

They call his name. It’s our turn. I hand the nurse my test and try not to look too nervous. We pass. He passes. 40 inches, 40 pounds. No shots today. The doctor doesn’t tell me I’m a bad parent. Jacob makes her laugh. Annalise sits politely and answers her questions with poise. I only stammer at a couple points, and we make it out with three stickers. One for each of us. Because while the kids pick theirs out, the spy hands me an “Angry Birds” sticker. She either feels sorry for me, or she’s testing my reaction to see if I’m someone that ignores my children while playing too many games. I say, “Thanks. Daddy will love this one, right guys?” Just in case it’s the latter. But I take the sticker anyway, because really, I deserve one the most today.

Annalise’s 5-year well-check is scheduled for July 8. I’m only 9 months late for that one. Another questionnaire. Kindergarten shots… I’m pretty sure I’m gonna need some serious prayer support.

Hunky Dunky

Sorry for the Facebook repeat. I decided this one was worth saving with our family stories.

I wish I could explain just how hard it is to keep it together when Jacob looks at me with the most serious face and with raised eyebrows says, “MOM. I HAFTA tell you dis. Dunky-Wunky dist totally FELL. He dist totally BWOKE a bunch, Mom. He did! And den, he couldn’t even be FIXED. I’m not even kidding. Dunky-Wunky is BWOKEN. But, MOM… He was SO BWAVE. Dunky-Wunky is SO BWAVE because he didn’t even CWY when he was all bwoken on his head. I’m so see-wious. And when all da kings and ho-ses came, day couldn’t even fix him, Mom! Day dist COULDN’T DO IT.”

Is it terrible that I asked him to tell me the story about 7 more times, just because I died inside of pure and utter hilarity each and every time he said Dunky-Wunky? I didn’t even know who the heck Dunky-Wunky was until he was all the way through the story the first time. And now, I just want to wake him up to hear him tell me the story again. Or the one about “Little Wed Widing Hood who was chased by da big WOOF-DOG while her Gwampa was at work.”

Next Morning:
First thing this morning, I asked Jacob to tell me the story of Dunky-Wunky again. He was just waking up (video includes puffy eyes, morning voice, and a hair spike), so I didn’t get as many details. Also, after hearing his version of the story last night, his older and wiser sister did her best to correct “Dunky Wunky.” But he still doesn’t get it quite right. So here it is, the shortened, partly corrected story of the now-called Hunky-Dunky. You’ll at least get a picture of the seriousness of his story telling last night…


First Crush?

It’s late.

I should be doing report cards.
I should be cleaning the kitchen.
I should be folding the laundry that has been laying in the corner of the hallway for longer than I care to admit. It might even be dirty by now.
I should be switching the load of laundry before the stuff in the washer starts to stink and I have to run it on a rinse cycle with more fabric softener. Again.
I should be in bed.

None of the above are happening, because I have this story that keeps making me smile, and I need to get it out. Some of you may have seen part of it already. I originally included it in my 10-list that I posted yesterday. But after hitting “publish,” I decided to take it out and make it it’s own post. It’s worthy of standing alone.

In yesterday’s post, you met one of Jacob’s heroes: Pastor Phil. The other is the beautiful Julianne Seely. You may remember her from this post, where I used Jacob’s adoration of her to try to convince him to eat his dinner. Whatever works, right? Only it didn’t.

Yesterday, Jacob came with me to drop Annalise off at her ballet class. Once we got there and saw Julianne’s car in the parking lot, I realized why he had wanted to go with me so badly: We pass Julianne’s dance class in the hall on the way to Annalise’s. Sometimes, we get to see her and say hello. This time, however, the door was shut. I kept walking towards Leesie’s class when I realized Jacob wasn’t with me. I turned around and saw this:

photo(62)Yes, that is my child laying on the ground.
Yes, he is looking under the closed door.
Yes, that is the door to Julianne’s dance class.
Yes, he did cry when we left because, “I didn’t get to see Julianne! I dist got to see her FEET!!”

I tried to console him by reminding him that we would likely see Julianne when we came back at the end of class. There was no consoling. Only panic. “But what if she’s gone already? What if we miss her?” I switched my tactics to distraction, which seemed to do the trick. (Wondering how much longer I have with that tactic. It can be such a life-saver.)

After some errands, it was time to head back. Jacob spotted Julianne’s red VW bug as we pulled in. He started to giggle, clap, and even squeal with delight. “Mommy, LOOK! You were right! She IS here! We get to see her!” He was beginning to remind me of a pre-teen girl giddy over a boy-band. We were nearing full-on freak-out excitement.

“Mommy! I’m dist so excited!… Auntie Nee’s Honey is here!!!”

Auntie Nee’s Honey? Julianne is Auntie Nee’s daughter, but I’ve never used that phrase. And to my knowledge, neither has anyone else. Bewildered, I looked back at him for clarification.

His wide smile got even wider. He had a twinkle in his eye and he let out a little giggle. Yes, this was very much like a pre-teen girl freak-out. “(giggle) I’m dist so excited. So excited dat I forgot her name for a sec. So dat’s why I dist called her Auntie Nee’s Honey.”

Oh, if only Auntie Nee’s Honey were 18 years younger. Poor Jacob.

The Priestmans love you, Julianne! (Only most of us won’t come looking under any doors for you.)


Growing up, whenever someone made me mad, my mom would make me say 10 things I liked about that person. You know, to focus on the positive and remember the reasons I’m thankful for that person. To think about why it is that I love them.

I hated it.

Lots of times, I could only (begrudgingly) squeak out one or two good things about someone before I would need to start a whole new list in my head of 10 things I like… about my mom. For making me play such a horrible game. Obviously.

Now I’m a grown-up (or so they say.) And a mom. I may or may not have made my children do the same thing. I’m not admitting to anything.

Sometimes you need a 10-list for life…

-Maybe it’s because someone caused your “Mama Bear”-ness to kick into high gear and you’d like to teach that person a thing or twelve. Just. Breathe. 10 things. 10 reasons NOT to rip their face off… And yes, you know you’ve been there.
-Maybe you were hurt and ready to quit and you forgot that there is good or how to smile, so you just needed a little smile-reminder.
-Maybe you got to a point where you felt like what’s the point and who really cares anyway and all this work is just turning into more work and I’ve had it up to HERE with it all. And who would even notice if I just drowned in it, because it’s already at my chin and will reach my eyeballs soon… but by then it will be too late.

Or maybe, just maybe, you said too many things that tear down, and it’s time you forced yourself to say a thing or two that builds up.

I may or may not have experienced all of the above these past few weeks. But I’m not admitting to anything.

I’m reminded I need to get back to journaling my Gifts of Grace. The things that remind me how much my God loves ME. That his grace is big enough to hold even me. And even more than that, He takes great delight in meHe delights in Me. Why does that surprise me every time I read it? And when my fists shake and my heart aches and everything is anything but still, He quiets me with his love.

Here are some of the love gifts of grace that have quieted my soul these past few weeks. Things that have made me remember to smile when I didn’t feel like it. My 10-list for life right now:

1. A teacher smile. While correcting a measurement test, I got to a question on appropriate units for measuring temperature. The Super Tall Kid in my class answered in three words: “Fair In Height.”

2. I was blessed to attend several graduation parties for students I taught for two years. I was Miss Kuzina their 4th grade year and Mrs. Priestman for 5th. They threw a shower for me at the end of 4th grade, and a few even attended our wedding that summer. And now? They’re all growed up and heading off to college. I know, I know. I couldn’t possibly be old enough to have former students graduating already. Or to have others already graduated, married, and with kids my own son’s age. Just… whatever.

3. Annalise is also growing up and would like me to stop using baby words on her. I told her that the belt needed to go around her tummy. She said, without a hint of disrespect in a totally serious and surprised-I-didn’t-already-know-it tone, “It’s called a waist, Mom.”

4. Jacob and I were having a conversation about obedience. Every day. Every 3 minutes. Forever. In one of those conversations, I said he had disobeyed. “No, Mom. I unbeyed.” Exasperated, I asked him what he was talking about. “When I do what you ask, it’s called O-beying. When I don’t do what you ask, it’s called UN-beying. Mom, it makes perfect sense.” Yes. Yes it does.

5. Matt’s parents took the kids for a couple hours one Sunday afternoon just for fun, which gave me time to work. I somehow found myself alone on the patio in the sunshine with good coffee and a good book. Who needs work? Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa!

6. Annalise and I had a discussion about a behavior pattern she (we) are working on. Proverbs 29:11 “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” At first, she felt the verse didn’t apply to her, because she’s not a man, of course. Um, no. So I read it again. “A fool always loses his temper, but a wise man holds it back.” I waited. She thought. And then she grimaced. “Mommy! I do not want to be that fool. Because you know why? His house went SPLAT!”  You know, because it was built on the sand, and the rains came and… you know the rest. Splat.

7. One of Jacob’s favorite people on earth is Pastor Phil. While getting his haircut the other day, Jacob informed the hairdresser he “wanted his hair short, but not as short as Daddy’s.” She asked how short Daddy’s hair is. “Weeeeeally short. ‘Cause he doesn’t have any hair!” She laughed. He continued, “Just make it like Past-oh Phil’s. I want it dat short.” She responded, “Make it like Buster who?” He repeated his request and told her all about his “buddy” and our church. Mom Smile.

8. When I picked Leesie up from ballet today, she was given her ballet pictures along with several wonderful compliments from different grown-ups about how she is doing in tap. My girl stood there and beamed. Sometimes, those are the things that fill a Mama’s heart the most. I can’t wait to see her perform this weekend.


9. The kids were invited to ride on a tractor in the Farmer’s Day Parade with THE Pastor Phil. (I thought Jacob might die.) He loved every second, but he was seriously cool as a cucumber once we got there. And while it was no carriage, it was the perfect chance for Annalise to master her princess wave. photo(66)

photo(67)     photo(65)

10. Friends. Friends that bail you out in a pinch. Friends that encourage. Friends that are more than willing to take your kids, even when they’re all sugared up from way too much candy being thrown at the parade. Friends who laugh with you when – after we momentarily lose our daughters – one comes outside of the building saying the other is still inside in the bathroom but has “a paper towel stuck to her bottom.” Just don’t even ask. Friends starting their day in matching hats…

photo(63)…and ending their day in matching birthday suits…

photo(64)And really, how can you not smile when you see those two faces?

Oh yes, and a bonus item. I guess it’s an 11-list.
Getting my phone to find a picture and instead finding this:


38 of them in all. THIRTY-EIGHT. Plus several videos of her singing just exactly like she’s the star of a Broadway production. Dancing and singing… a song about Princess Annalise, of course. The videos won’t be shown without her permission, but they were just too hilarious not to mention.

And so I leave you with this… A sampling of the many faces of my girl. May it bring a smile to your face too:

photo(74) photo(73) photo(72) photo(71) photo(70)

30 Minute Meals?

Try 5. Yes, Five Minute Meals.

I’m just that good.

Five minute meals that produced CHEERS… From BOTH kids. Yes, you read that right. Even the boy cheered for dinner!

Kid cheers and lavish compliments, such as, “Mommy, this is the best dinner ever.” And, “Mommy, I LOVE this. You should make this more often!” And even, “Mommy, this is so good. Thank you for making us such delicious food.”

And no, I’m not even kidding.

These compliments are helpful, because yesterday after I picked them up from a friend’s house, I was told, “Mommy, she makes the best food. It’s always so creative. Like today, she put thinly sliced pickles on my tuna sandwich! I just love her food. You should try to make food like that sometime.”

So yeah, the compliments ego boosts came at just the right time…

I make the best dinners ever. Delicious food. And in five minutes.

Tonight’s Best Dinner Ever menu:


Burnt grilled cheese and a giant raw carrot.

Eat your heart out, Rachel Ray.