Posts Tagged ‘toddlers’

My joy for today is birthday parties.

This past Saturday, we attended two children’s birthday parties.  We have been invited to at least one party every weekend this month.  For those of you that don’t have kids, do not be under the false assumption that we are very popular.  When you are a parent of school-age children, it is just part of the job description.  Sometimes these parties are great, sometimes they are not.  But they are always thrilling for our kids and we are always honored to celebrate a special moment in a friend’s life.

So far, we have only hosted one birthday party that included more than family for any of our four kids.  We are attempting to institute a 5, 10, 16 year old plan for big birthday parties.  Time will tell if we stick to that proposal.

In the meantime, we will enjoy entertaining our kids by celebrating other kid’s birthdays.  The cake, the presents, the games, the entertaining locations; free food, fun, entertainment, and time with friends, for both the kids and for us; it all makes for a pleasant way to spend some weekend time.

All of these parties also allows my kids the opportunity to do a lot of things that they do not normally get to experience.  At birthday parties, we have been to several farms, where we held chickens, rode horses, and got to take home freshly laid eggs, played laser tag, had gymnastics lessons, karate lessons, enjoyed bounce houses, many different pools, parks, and friend’s backyards, just to name a few.

Having kids can help you and hurt you when making friends.  At birthday parties, you have as many new friends as you choose to talk to, at least for the several hours of the engagement.  You are in it together, to have fun, to eat, to help your children with the new activities, to socialize, and to survive.  It can be overwhelming and exhausting, but as with so many aspects of having children, it is a simple, short-lived joy.  Twenty years from now, I might not miss navigating the crowds at Chuck E. Cheese, but I will miss seeing the overwhelming joy on my child’s face from a simple cupcake and goodie bag.

Enjoy your joys for today.


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My joy for today is being rescued at Target.

A few days ago, I went to Target, quite ambitiously, after visiting a friend.  I only had two kids with me, so it seemed like the trip should be a breeze.  It was going well, except for the fact that I had to pick up a few very heavy and bulky items- kitty litter, diapers, a few groceries, and some outdoor chairs.  The chairs were on sale and although I had thought about asking the hubs to get them on the way home from work, I wanted to accomplish everything on the list, all by myself.  That was not in the cards.

I got everything on my list and then went to the outdoor section.  I picked up the handy red phone, asked for help, and was quickly greeted by a Target employee with very little personality.  She was about fifty years old, and neither pleasant nor unpleasant.  I showed her the five chairs I wanted, she put them on a cart, and I met her at the register.

We had to practically sprint to keep up with my cart of chairs and the nonplussed Target employee.  Cart overflowing with kitty litter, diapers, milk, bananas, a ten month old, and being followed by a cheerful but tired three year old, we made it to the front of the store.  I paid for my items with a more friendly Target employee, although I found out later she had not applied a coupon correctly.  Another employee was called to help take my chairs to my car.  He was a young man that worked mostly in the parking lot, with several piercings, a hat, and was friendlier than employee number one.

We walked out towards my vehicle and non-smiling employee number one said that they would wait at the curb and that I should pull my car up to the entrance.  I pointed out to her that my car was right in front of us, in the third or fourth spot from the store, but she insisted they wait at the curb.

I packed my kids and all of my groceries into my vehicle, and pulled up to the curb as instructed.  I got out of the car, and thought for the first time about where all these chairs might fit in my car.  I drive one of the largest SUV’s on the market, but have four car seats inside.  As I opened the back lift gate, I started to think my ambition for this shopping trip was misguided.

Young hipster Target employee:  “I don’t think these are going to fit.”

Tired Mother of 4:  “Really?”

Hipster:  “No, I don’t think so.  I had this same problem the other day with these chairs.”

Loyal Target Customer:  “Oh crap.  Can we maybe get one or two in?”

Hipster:  (Tries pointlessly to angle a chair into the back.)  “Nope.”

Meanwhile, older Target employee stands by silently, looking annoyed.

Me:  “Well, what should I do?”

Not Target Employee of the Year:  “You’ll have to come back inside and return them.”

Annoyed:  “That’s not going to happen.”

And so began an uncomfortable period of silence.  They just looked at me.  I just looked at them and thought about how I was already running late to pick up my second from preschool, half an hour away from this store.  I also thought about the absurd idea of parking again, getting two overly tired children back out of the car, and going inside to return these chairs.

Me again:  “Can you just take them back inside and I will have someone pick them up later today?”

Employee #1:  “No, we cannot keep any merchandise that has been paid for in the store.”

Beyond Annoyed:  “Well, I’m not going back inside.”

More uncomfortable silence.

Me again:  “What if I could have someone come get them now?”

Unimpressed Woman:  “How long until they would be here?”

I proceed to call my amazing, nearly perfect cousin, Jason, who works in the area.  I was praying he was not having a busy day at work or was possibly having his lunch break.  By an actual miracle, he was right across the street at Wal-Mart (which was looking better and better all the time).  He has a very useful pick-up truck.  I told him my absurd predicament, and he said he would be over as quickly as possible.

I turned back to the Target employees and explained that my hero would be here soon.  They were surprisingly unimpressed with my resourcefulness or with my soon to be hero.  By their silence, I sensed they were still confused as to what to do.

“So just leave the chairs on the sidewalk and I will watch them.”

Possibly least helpful employee of the year:  “We can’t just leave them there.”

“Yes, you can.  I paid for them, and that’s what I want to do with them.  I will assume responsibility for them.  I will watch them from my car and if someone tries to take them, I will yell at them in my scariest voice.”

Hipster:  “I’ll be in the parking lot most of the time, I can keep an eye on them too.”

Finally, someone at this store is on my side!

Hipster:  “We could just put them by your car in the parking lot.”

An actual suggestion!  Will wonders ever cease?

Don’t worry, non-helpful woman is just silent.  She seems annoyed that this is actually working out for me.

I get back in my car, drive to an uninhabited area of the parking lot, and the Target force of two brings my chairs over on the flats.  They put them right next to my car, and I sit.

In very little time, my cousin comes to our rescue!  It was quite easy to find me, as I was the one in the huge SUV, with five colorful outdoor chairs next to my car in the parking lot.  All I needed to complete the scene was a grill.  He drove over, got out, and I told him the whole ridiculous story.  We laughed together for a while, as we do so gloriously often, he put the chairs in the back of his truck, and I stood amazed at what a joy it is to have my cousin in my life.  I am certainly not even attempting to summarize how much I adore and admire Jason in this post.  This is just a teaser.

I drove away, with a new story in the crazy times of a busy mom.  Although I am still a loyal Target customer, I was incredibly underwhelmed by the attitude and helpfulness of one employee in particular.  But in frustration and loneliness in a Target parking lot, came a chance to add yet another story in the saga of trying to do it all, well.  Sometimes we just need a little help from our friends, or cousins.

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is answering questions about heaven.

Almost two years ago exactly, when Noah was four, I wrote a blog very similar to the one you are about to read.  As it seems with so many things in life, patterns are followed, cycles continue.  For the past couple of days, my four year old daughter has been asking a lot of questions about heaven, death, and God.  It seems this just must be the age, at least for my kids, where issues of mortality and eternity come to the forefront of their little minds.

When Noah went through this stage, we had a big, gut wrenching, tear filled conversation about heaven and death.  So far, I have not had such a dramatic and emotional experience with Molly, but that seems to fit with both of their personalities.  When Noah experiences an emotion, he experiences it 1,000%, very quickly and intensely.  Molly usually ruminates over something in her mind, and we only get glimpses of what is happening in her beautiful head.  This has been no different.

In the past few days, I have heard so many precious questions from our sweet princess.  Tonight, about an hour after we put her to bed, she was calling for us.

If we die in heaven, will we come back down here?  Oh my.  How precious.  I explained that we can’t die in heaven and that we can’t even get hurt or sad.  She seemed sad after I said this, which surprised me.  Then, with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice…

I’ll miss my doggie and tigger.  Now I have tears in my eyes!  This girl has slept with her favorite “critters,” a stuffed dog and tigger, for every nap and bedtime since she was a year old.  I was so happy to be able to tell her that she will certainly have doggie and tigger in heaven.

Earlier tonight, at dinner, she leaned over to me and said, “Will we have our same hair in heaven?”  I was not entirely sure which way she hoped I answered this, so I paused for a moment and then she said, “Because I really like my hair, and Nana’s hair, and your hair.”  Yes Molly, we will definitely have our hair in heaven.

I am sure that we have not heard the end of these questions.  It is a very precious time in my sweet girl’s life.  Laying with her in bed, after all her siblings are asleep, rubbing her back and talking about God, I could not treasure this time more.  Can God hear us in heaven?  Yes Molls.  So He can hear us down here and up there?  Yep.  Isn’t that great?  He must have really good listening ears.  Yes ma’am, He does.

Enjoy your joys for today.

Contemplative Molly

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My joy for today is a Saturday well spent.

I recently read an article in a parenting magazine that said there are only about 940 Saturdays between when a child is born and when they typically leave for college.  If you are a parent of a child older than 5, let the waterworks begin.  If you are the parent of a child younger than that and particularly sensitive to this issue, you are welcome to join the pity party as well.

We had a fairly average Saturday today.  I started my day off with a wake up call from our 9 month old at 6:30 am.  I nursed her, put her back to bed, and went for a run.  When I came back, pancakes were just coming off the hot griddle, coffee hot and ready at the table.  We have had a “Pancake Saturday” tradition for many, many years in our home.  This actually got it’s start in my own childhood, and I have wonderful memories of these times with my family.  It’s such a great tradition for many reasons.  It is a much-needed break for a mom to be served breakfast, giving her a respite from chef duties in the morning.  The kids also get to help with the cooking and cleaning, giving them an opportunity to practice life skills.  And of course, we all know the benefits of sitting around the table together as a family.  At the start of a busy upcoming day, often filled with extended family and friends, it’s a great opportunity to start the weekend off in a calm and together manner.

Today, after pancakes, we all got ready for soccer games.  We are very blessed with an amazing sports complex behind our neighborhood, about 5 minutes from our home.  Noah’s game was first, and their match ended in a tie.  Molly’s team was next, coached by my amazing hubs and cousin, and their game also ended in a tie.  It’s a whirlwind of activity at the field, and a great opportunity to see lots of friends, as well as being cheered on by family.

Our kids are very active in sports, so this is a very typical start to a Saturday in our home.  The afternoon is filled with variety.  Sometimes chores must be accomplished, and the kids are included in these as much as possible, especially involved with Daddy’s duties in the yard.  Sometimes we go to the beach, to Disney, or to a friend’s birthday party.  Today, we went to my Granny’s house to spend time at the pool with my parents.  We had a cook-out, swam, read, and got some sun.  Basically, we were together.  Tonight, we are playing some video games, getting a few things done around the house, and early to bed to get ready for church tomorrow.

That was our Saturday; pretty simple.  We never left a five mile radius around our house.  For our youngest, we have just enjoyed about #36 of her 940 in our home.  I shudder to think of how many have already passed for our almost-7 year old.  Most have been spent well.  No matter what we are doing, if we are together, they are a success.  Strangers that like to talk to me in random places always like to remind me that the time goes so fast.  I do not need reminded.  I am acutely aware, and treasure every second.  Excuse me while I go read a bedtime story (or five or six) to my four little ones.

Enjoy your joys for today.  

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My joy for today is my children’s shoes on the wrong feet.

Some of you have probably realized that I use this blog, at times, to spin something that is sad, annoying, or generally negative, into something positive.  I may as well be honest right now.  This is one of those blogs.

As most of you know, I have four children.  I know lots of people that have quite a few more kids than I do, so I am not under any false pretenses that I am superwoman or that my life is as hectic as they come.  I know it could be much, much more so.  However, as we all know, sacrifices must be made to preserve our sanity, no matter our life circumstances.  One of the sacrifices I made when I had just one child was caring whether or not my child’s shoes were on the wrong feet.  I have chosen, many years ago, to not concern myself if the right shoe is on the left foot or vice versa.

The world is not okay with this.

Since I now have three children walking and wearing shoes, the probability that one of them will have their shoes on the wrong feet is quite high.  One of the qualities I prize and cultivate in my kids is independence.  The ability to dress oneself falls into that category.  For that reason, I guide and oversee them while they are getting dressed, because I also believe in them looking presentable and put together, but I do not micromanage the minute details.  I make sure their clothes match, that they are weather appropriate, that their hair is decently brushed, and that they are wearing shoes.  I consider other things to be not worth assaulting their self esteem over, such as hair accessories for my daughter, sock choices, and which foot a shoe is put on.  Apparently, to most people, having shoes on the wrong feet is not a small thing.

I have had more people than I can count tell me about this “problem” over the past four years.  The phenomenon reaches the height of absurdity when people who do not speak English must find a way to tell me in other languages, and with the use of hand motions.  I have had performers in a show we just watched go out of their way to inform us about the shoes.  Doctors, gas station attendants, homeless people, high powered businessmen, and in general, complete strangers of all variations in any situation feel the duty to share this information with me.  It is fascinating to me how this is something that universally bothers others to their core.  It seems to be the one thing that people will go out of their way to tell a complete stranger, no matter that person’s level of shyness or social ineptitude.  My reaction seems to confuse them even more.  I usually just say, “I know.  Thanks.”

My whole theory on the shoe thing is that if it bothers the child enough, they will switch them.  Many times I tell them myself before we leave the house that their shoes are on the wrong feet.  But I do not demand that they change them.  Sometimes after I tell them, they change them on their own accord.  But sometimes they do not.  If it doesn’t bother their little feet, why should it bother me?  And why should it bother you, random stranger in the grocery store?

I have a feeling that the “shoes on the wrong feet” phenomenon is short-lived in the life of a child.  My oldest is almost 7 and he rarely puts his shoes on the wrong feet anymore.  This is probably both because he is better at recognizing which foot is correct and also because he understands that it is indeed more comfortable when the shoe is on the correct foot.  This phenomenon seems to reach it’s height around four, at the age that a child is very proud of their independence and more adamant about asserting it.  This will not last forever; rest easy world.

I do actually believe that almost every person that feels the need to approach me about this issue is trying to be helpful.  Sometimes I believe people are just finding a reason to interact with me and my children, and this is a good conversation starter.  At times, it’s just the sheer number of people saying it in the course of the day that makes it trying.  Of course, you, dear reader, may be saying to yourself, “If it bothers you, just switch their shoes!”  True, that would be a simple solution.  But if I had started doing that four years ago, I would not have this blog to write today, and would not have this joy for which to be thankful.  It’s kind of like our thing now, shoes on the wrong feet.  I have the opportunity to have my kid’s back in the face of strangers, and adult strangers nonetheless.  They know now that other people do not like their shoes being on the wrong feet, that they do like it that way (or at the least, do not want to switch them), and they know that their mother does not care.  I think that is a good place to be.  My kids and me, we are on the same page, in the face of the world.

Enjoy your joys for today.


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A Dog Birthday

My joy for today is a dog’s 2nd birthday party.

A few days ago, we celebrated our Goldendoodle’s 2nd birthday.  She enjoyed a homemade vanilla cake with peanut butter frosting, topped with dog bones and a number two candle.  My two older kids picked out gifts for her, we sang “Happy Birthday” and helped her blow out her candle.  She gobbled up her cake and enjoyed her new toys and then the humans enjoyed their own cake and watched a movie as a family.  The living area of our home was decorated with homemade signs from my 6 year old and 4 year old.  There were hearts and balloons cut from construction paper, as well as a banner that read “Happy Birthday NGO.  We Love You.  Love Noah.”  Noah planned almost every detail of this party, right down to the placement of the bones on the cake.

Before NGO came into our lives, I never would have dreamed that I would have been throwing a birthday party for a dog.  I am emphatically not a dog person.  I have had an irrational fear of dogs for as long as I can remember.  Even when our family had a dog when I was a teenager, I can only remember actually petting him once or twice.  I admired Scooby from a distance, but was just not inclined to get too close.  Of course, the husband and son given to me are very much dog people.  Noah started asking for a dog to live at our house when he was about two years old.  Motherhood squashes selfishness in so many ways, and this was no exception.  I relented and the search began.  NGO came to us from a rescue organization in Kentucky when she was a few months old.

Having a dog necessitates the performance of humbling duties.  This is good for our souls.  Serving something with no hope of reciprocation is a healthy exercise in selflessness.  Having a dog also provides routine and a focus on simplicity, which is something that is easily lost for me.

I assumed I was getting a dog for my kids.  They loved her instantly and rolled around in the grass and let her lick them.  I kept my distance.  But over time, I had to touch her.  I was the only adult home and she was just a puppy. We bonded and I came to enjoy her company, despite the many disgusting jobs she added to my day.  I said to my husband a few months ago, “I can’t imagine my life without a dog.”  Anyone who has known me long would consider this shocking.   But she brings joy, simplicity, companionship and happiness, for every member of our family.   She magically knows to play very roughly with our 6 year old, more gently with our 4 year old, very gently with our two year old who literally climbs on top of her, and lay calmly and protectively on the floor by our 7 month old.  She entertains and harasses the cat, and is a loyal and meaningful member of our family.

Thank you Noah and Chad for insisting on her arrival and for transforming me into a one-dog person.   Happy Birthday NGO!

Enjoy your joys for today.

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My joy for today is two year old mispronunciations.

Our 2-year old, Molly, has a better vocabulary than her older brother at the same age.  I think his presence and constant talking to her and at her is helpful.  She can sing many full songs, say her ABCs, count to 12, and carry on a conversation.  Most of the time she speaks very, very softly and we are always asking her to speak louder.  We don’t seem to ever have that problem with Noah…  However, she is at the age where she mispronounces so many words, and it is so adorable!  Some of our favorites:

Noah = Doah

Princess = P  (which her Daddy uses to call her his “Precious P”)

Milk= Juice

Swimming= simming

That most recent word has been used often and is one of the two main reasons for my lack of postings recently.  We have been doing every day swimming lessons with Molly for the past three weeks.  When we started, she cried the entire time and kicked and screamed on the way to the pool.  Today, she jumped in the water to her beloved teacher, Miss Lisa, swam underwater, floated, and made it to the side by herself.  As soon as she got out of the water, she said, “I love swimming Mommy.”  It has been great to see her progress and her newfound love of the water, but it has been exhausting for me to have to drive half an hour away every day.

The second reason that I have been a reclusive blogger is the plague of colds and flu that have been going around our home.  It has been pretty much all I can handle to maintain my daily responsibilities and fall into bed around 9 pm.  All five of our family members have not been healthy at the same time for at least the past month.  Praying so much for a time of health for at least a few weeks!

This explanation is mostly for my most faithful blog reader, my brother.  More on him in a future post.  🙂

Signing off for today and looking forward to Molly waking up from her nap and greeting me with her beautiful voice and cuddly arms.  Enjoy your joys for today!

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