A Gift for Miss H: You are Safe and You are Loved

Each of my kiddos are dear to me. They’re each so special and unique, and let’s be honest – adorable and hilarious. My heart could not be whole with out all three of them.

Miss H going off to school has been a weird, bittersweet experience for me.

On the one hand: I miss her terribly. I really don’t want to be without her for 6 hours out of each day. Even on our most challenging days, I like her. And I like being with her.

I enjoy sharing all of her moments with her. The smiles, the tears, the jokes, the sass, the songs, the drama. All of it. I want to witness and elate and sigh with her through it all.

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On the other hand: I am so happy for her. Y’all, this girl is loving school. It’s those mixed feelings of being so happy she’s happy, and a wee bit sad she’s happy there. Because she’s thriving somewhere without me. And I’m a little bit selfish. I can admit that.

I’m so thrilled that I have, thus far, successfully raised a very self-reliant, independent, kind, charismatic, thoughtful, empathetic, exuberant little girl who loves being at school. Who smiles and waves and says, “Okay, Mom, seriously, you can go now!” I know she feels so confident and secure in herself, and in our relationship, that she knows she’s so safe and loved, even when I’m not right there.

But damn. I should have thought this through before helping her to be this kid.

But she’s still just a little girl.

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Each night when I tuck my kids into bed I ask them three questions: What was the best part of your day? What was the most challenging part of your day? When were you a helper?

And the two days that H has spent without me at school (the second day was a field trip and the boys and I all went), she has answered the second question with, “The most challenging is definitely being away from you all day!”

So at least I know she does miss me. Just not enough to want to stay home. I’ll take it.

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A few days before she started school, we had a loud, intense thunder storm. She was out of bed several times before J and I went to bed. I had several things I really needed to do, or maybe I just wanted a few quiet moments to recharge, I can’t remember that part too vividly with my terribly sleep-deprived brain, but I grabbed a little white box I’d been saving for her first day of school, grabbed her hand, and took her back to bed.

“This is something special,” I told her. “So special. And it’s just for you and me.”

Her eyes lit up; when you’ve got siblings, something special just for you is just that much more special.

I let her open the box and she took out two silver necklaces that I’d gotten from A Gift From Atlanta Lane.

One for her and one for me.

On her necklace was a single, tiny heart.

On my necklace was a small rectangle with a punch out of that tiny, little heart.

“You are my heart,” I told her. “No matter where you are or what you’re doing; no matter where Momma is or what Momma is doing; we are connected. There is nothing that can ever separate us. Because our hearts will always be connected. And when you wear this necklace, you will know that you are so safe, and so loved. Always. You are safe and you are loved. I am always with you, no matter what.”

(Sidenote: when she was a toddler/preschooler and would get upset or have screaming fits, I’d wrap her in my arms and repeat the mantra “You are safe and you are loved” a million times while rocking her until she was calm.)

Miss H beamed and let me help her put her necklace on. Then I put my own on.

“My heart fits right there,” she said, matching her pendant over mine.

“Because you’re a part of me,” I told her.

She laid back in bed, smiling, and said, “I am safe and I am loved. You can go back downstairs now, Mommy.”

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Oh, this girl. She can drive me to the end of a cliff some days, and right when I think I will fling myself off, she lassos me back in with all that she is. I adore her.

So now my baby girl is off to school each day, wearing a beautiful little pendant heart: a reminder that we are entwined with one another no matter what or where. And we are both so safe and loved because we’ve got each other.

 

 

***I received our necklaces from A Gift From Atlanta Lane. They are beautiful, great quality, and Miss H and I both are really loving them. If you’re in the market for a mother/daughter necklace or any other custom handstamped jewelry, key chains, etc., I cannot recommend Ruchelle from A Gift From Atlanta Lane enough. Go check her out!

No One Ever Does Anything Great Without Being a Little Bit Scared

This week has been a big deal.

And it’s only Tuesday.

Sunday, my dear, darling boy Mr. B turned 5. I’m not sure why that seems like such a huge milestone, but it does. I’m so happy and so sad. All those 4-year-old moments that I’ll never live through again with him. But so much excitement to watch him grow into the amazing young man he is and will be.

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He’s taking off leaps and bounds with his learning. He’s so eager and happy to sit down and work with me each day. I seriously thought he’d never be able to sit down long enough to pay attention to anything in life, let alone happily do it willingly.

Monday, Sweet M slept 1.5 hours in his crib for a nap, followed by pulling a 5 hour stretch in his crib that night (the fact that it was 7pm-12am, you know, the hours I was still awake, we’ll let slide). Plus, he’s doing this funny lunge/hop thing while trying to crawl. He’s going to be crazy mobile after I blink here in a second.

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Tuesday, oh my. Tuesday. My lovely girl started her first day of school outside of home. So many mixed feelings.

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J and I have always been in agreement that we would meet our kids’ needs, whatever they may be, right where they are at, and that we realize that perhaps they’ll have vastly different needs. Even education-wise. They may each have drastically different learning and educational experiences, and I am okay with that.

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Still.

Six whole hours of my girl somewhere else is rough.

But she was so, so excited to go.

And Mr. B loved getting all the attention at home as we worked on his kindergarten Bookshark curriculum.

So I think it was a win/win all around. Even if I hate that there is someone else out there that can meet Miss H’s needs better than I can right in this moment. I’m just trying to think of this as time I have to better meet my boys’ needs and fill their cups up so full that when Miss H is around they won’t mind if I love on her a little too hard right now. And I’m feeling incredibly grateful that we have the ability to send her to a school that is right for her. I can certainly appreciate that that option is not always available to everyone, and I don’t take that for granted.

I am so happy that my children are thriving and blossoming into these fantastic, inquisitive, attentive, independent little people. But by golly, the feels are so deep and overwhelming at moments.

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This morning, after teasingly saying to M that he’d never grow up and leave me, H assured me that he in fact would.

Why?

As H said, “Because you say we can do anything we want. And Morgan is going to do great things like me. No one ever does anything great without being a little bit scared. And we can’t be a little bit scared if we are always with our mom.”

Whooo boy.

I love who these babies are. I love who they are becoming. I love watching it all and being a part of it all.

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But man. As cliché as it is, time really does fly when you’re having fun. And it flies even quicker once you have kids. I didn’t know time could move this fast.

It’s such a beautiful, exhilarating, terrifying experience: being their momma. Being open to changes. Meeting all of their needs. Accepting the help of others to sometimes do that. Loving them so hard that it means letting go a little bit at times.

But as my own wise little girl said just this morning, I have to be a little bit scared if I’m going to do anything great. And they certainly are great!

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Mr. B Turns Five!

Somehow we have managed to keep two kids alive and (mostly) happy for five whole years. I’m sure this will feel like an even bigger feat when it’s three kids we’ve managed this with!

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I totally dropped the ball this year and Miss H didn’t have a birthday party at all. I had a six week old and J wasn’t even in the country. I mean, I could have pulled it off, but I’m not trying out for Wonder Woman’s job so I just let it go. And then made up for it by going to Chicago and visiting the American Girl store. So there is that.

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Mr. B loves birthdays. What kid doesn’t? But he’s also got his momma’s introverted tendencies in him; so it can get really overwhelming pretty quickly. For this reason, I love having his birthday parties at our local splash pad and playground. He can be as involved with others as much or as little as he wants. He can play with his friends, but he can also go swing solo to recharge.

I am definitely an extroverted introvert, but I still understand that need to have calm and recharge (and I wasn’t half as outgoing as I am now, when I was B’s age!). He’s a boy of my own heart. So I know that it’s important to try and provide him that space. Which, when your kid wants a big party with all of his friends, can sometimes be tricky. But we figure it out as best as we can!

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These adorable balloons are courtesy of The Balloon Box

This year, in the theme of simplifying and making things as easy as possible for myself, I tried to make his party as low key as possible. I outsourced the cupcake making to Stryking Events, and they turned out fabulous! I often enjoy making my kids’ cupcakes/cakes, but I knew that right now, I just needed to make things as easy as possible on myself; and I sure am glad I did because they were scrumptious!

I also made lunch so super easy on myself and bought a ton of lunch meat and cheese and chicken curry salad and let everyone assemble their own sandwiches. Paired with a veggie tray and some fruit, and voila! Easy peasy.

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These giant dinosaur balloons are from Party Gnome

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It was so awesome to have so many of our friends and family in one place, celebrating our darling little boys’ birthday. I feel like it’s taken us a long time to really find our village, but we certainly have. All these people there – they’re the people we call on when we need a hand. And they’re always ever so willing. It’s a really great feeling!

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We’ve been friends since we were 7, but I’m pretty sure she likes my kids more now.

 

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Being loved on by his Godmother.

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Check out that adorableness!

 

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So much baby love!

 

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Making faces with Papa.

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There is just so much I could say. But I’m utterly exhausted. My Mr. B is five. One whole hand full. He has helped me to grow as a person and a momma. His mere existence has made me realize my worth as a human being: when I was so low in the trenches of PPD after he was born; it was for him (and his sister) that I grew strong.

On my very worst of days his biggest bear hugs can mend my soul. When he is being especially ornery and I’m trying my hardest to be stern, his crooked little smile and tilted glasses never let me get to the point before I melt, utterly in love with him.

I’ve helped to hold him down for stitches and IV’s, which has broken my heart. I didn’t know that you could truly feel your heart break before those days. That it could literally ache.

I’ve wanted to chuck him out the window at times, and other times I’ve reduced myself to tears just by thinking about how much I love him.

He is so strong and passionate and brilliant. He’s persistent when it matters to him, and he’s not budging an inch if it doesn’t.

He’s a charmer. He can be a stranger’s best friend and at other times he won’t give his actual best friend the time of day (I get it my little introvert, I get it!).

He is playing the drum that he marches to; and it’s a beat unlike any other. He does things on his own time, at his own pace.

He is so sweet and peaceful. So loud and boisterous.

He is delightful and mischievous. He is loving and utterly loveable.

You guys. This kid is all ready so amazing; I can only imagine what else he has to offer the world. I can’t wait to watch him grow into two whole hands fulls. And then some.

 

Sweet M’s Favorite Blanket – Austin Tie Dye Co.

Sweet M has a rhythm and routine down when it comes to falling asleep. It doesn’t mean he sleeps well or for long stretches, ha, but he is a boy who knows exactly what he wants.

And what Sweet M wants is a blanket on his cheek and a dummy in his mouth. Every. Single. Time.

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Third baby and still full of surprises. Wouldn’t change a blessed thing about this kid.

My absolute favorite blankets are muslin, due to them being so lightweight and breathable, and also extremely versatile.

Baby likes to be swaddled? Check! Need a breathable nursing cover or sunshade for babe? Check! Need to throw a blanket down to change babe or let them kick and play for a bit? Check! Big kids need a quick cape? Check! Someone just needs a snuggly by their face to sleep? Check!

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So it’s no surprise that we have a handful of muslin blankets.

I also super love bamboo material. It’s so incredibly soft. If you’ve never touched some before, do. Do it now. You will not regret it; it’s so lovely!

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Bamboo is also very eco-friendly. It grows nearly anywhere, and quickly to boot (up to 6 feet a day!). It’s also takes only 1/3 the water it takes to grow cotton, and is pretty much all organic. That being said, turning bamboo into fabric isn’t quite as eco-friendly. But you can’t win ’em all sometimes.

I recently discovered the Austin Tie Dye Co. and their amazing muslin bamboo swaddle blankets. You guys. Two of my greatest loves got together and produced these bad boys. There are no words.

And they’re hand dyed to boot. These blankets are singing love songs to my soul!

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And to Sweet M’s. Because guess what has quickly become his favorite blanket to snuggle and sleep with? I can’t even make this up. If I grab another blanket and he can see his Austin Tie Dye Co. blanket he will fuss and flail until I swap blankets. This boy knows luxury when he feels it; and he’s not going back now that he’s known it!

Even Miss H knows how much he prefers this blanket to all others and will grab it or remind me to when we are headed out for a long and busy day. It’s just not worth chancing it without anymore.

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These blankets are definitely going on my baby must-haves list, and will certainly be gifts for future friends’ babies and my someday nieces and nephews. They are so luxurious and affordable, and there is nothing better than buying from small businesses. Plus, Rebecca, the owner of the Austin Tie Dye Co. is so sweet and easy to work with! Seriously, if you’re looking for a baby gift for someone else or for your own babe, Sweet M highly recommends Austin Tie Dye Co. muslin bamboo, hand dyed blankets.

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Let’s Talk Aplastic Anemia

Yesterday was the first day in what seems like forever that it hasn’t been raining. Maybe it’s because it was SweetM’s half birthday (what!? How can that be?). So we headed out to take some photos outdoors for some super cool products I can’t wait to tell you about!

But those will wait. Today I want to tell you about a super cool kid I know. He is the single most sweetest little boy I’ve ever known. His name is Xisto. Well, he’s 10 now, so maybe not so little anymore; but definitely still the sweetest.

He was 3-years-old when I met him. He was so happy and sweet, and I, being a lover of all children, was immediately taken with him. I vividly remember as we drove back to his house after his momma, Anita, and big sisters picked J and I up from the airport, he was fussing a bit because he was tired. Anita reached her hand back (a pose I’m all too familiar with myself now) so that Xisto could hold her hand, and he fell asleep clutching her hand like that. That picture of a tiny sleeping boy, clutching his momma’s hand has been imprinted in my brain forever. And was probably my very first lesson in parenting, multi-tasking, and unconditional love.

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J grew up with Xisto’s dad, Xavier. You know how some friendships run deeper than family? That’s J with Xavi. His brother from another mother. The man who walked arm in arm with my little sister the day J and I got married, and stood by J’s side as we made our vows to one another: praying and working hard to have a love and marriage as steadfast and strong as Xavier and Anita’s.

img_0139I’ve modeled so much of my parenting off of them. Their three children are three of the most lovely, genuinely kind human beings I know. Anita’s number is often at my finger tips anytime I’m at a parenting crossroads.

It’s no surprise we chose them to be the Godparents of Miss H and Mr. B. I knew I wanted those kind of role models and that sort of family so deeply intertwined in the lives of my children. Some of that goodness is bound to rub off, even if we live 100s of miles away from one another.

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This spring things changed drastically for Xisto. He’s the third child, the baby, of a very busy family. They’re on the go each day from 8am to 8pm with their busy schedules between school, work, Tae Kwan Do, orchestra, volleyball and church. Xisto has always been an easy going kid, learning to nap when he had the opportunity since he was a baby. He went to bed at a decent hour, woke up fine, took naps in the car and was healthy, so it never occurred to his momma that he was “more tired” than most kids his age.

At this time little red dots began appearing on his legs. His parents chalked it up to allergies as he’d just been to the doctor for red, itchy eyes and allergies had been deemed the reason for them. Since the red dots weren’t itchy or causing any issues, they kept an eye on them but didn’t worry too much more about them.

He developed some bruising, but nothing that was atypical for a 10-year-old studying the art of bow staff and nunchucks in Tae Kwan Do. After each class he’d have the same bruises, but no unusual pain, swelling, or discoloration, so again, nothing to be too concerned about or that really seemed like a red flag.

Then during a Tae Kwan Do tournament trip out of town Xavier noticed that Xisto’s gums were bleeding. Both parents assumed he over did it on some sunflower seeds and may have gotten a seed stuck in between his teeth or had scraped his gums. His momma laid in on him about his teeth brushing routine, reminded him to floss, and then put it on her mind to call the dentist.

By that Sunday Xisto’s mouth looked more like he was experimenting with Halloween zombie makeup. Monday came and he went to school with a bleeding mouth. His parents made him a doctor’s appointment, at which time the doctor said with no fever or any other symptoms, and since he had good energy levels, he would be fine until his 2 pm appointment.

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At his appointment blood was drawn and Xavier was told that the results would be be called in to them in 24 hours. At 7 that same evening Anita was running Xisto into Tae Kwan Do class, late as usual, when a call from the doctor stopped her before leaving to head for the grocery store. Blood work showed that Xisto had 0 platelets, and other levels were flagged for what was very indicative of leukemia. Any hit or fall could result in a fatal outcome.

And just like that, the world was jolted a bit off axis.

Blood work. Bone marrow biopsies and infusions of platelets and red blood cells. Two days later it was confirmed he did not in fact have leukemia, but instead an extremely rare severe aplastic anemia.

Taken from the Mayo Clinics website: “Aplastic anemia is a condition that occurs when your body stops producing enough new blood cells. Aplastic anemia leaves you feeling fatigued and with a higher risk of infections and uncontrolled bleeding.

A rare and serious condition, aplastic anemia can develop at any age. Aplastic anemia may occur suddenly, or it can occur slowly and get worse over a long period of time. Treatment for aplastic anemia may include medications, blood transfusions or a stem cell transplant.” (You can head over to the May Clinics website for further in depth info. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/aplastic-anemia/basics/definition/CON-20019296)

And just like that, an active little boy suddenly began an adventure no one could have ever anticipated.

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Often a bone marrow donor is the first course of action. Having two older sisters, everyone’s fingers were crossed. His sisters were matches for one another, however they were not matches for Xisto.

So they went to Plan B: Immunosuppressive therapy.

Guys, this kid is the strongest, toughest, most courageous person I know. Followed closely behind by his momma and papa. The treatment is rigorous. He’s been poked, prodded, and has spent way too many nights in a hospital bed instead of at home where he belongs. But he’s been so positive through this all. He knows it’s just a detour before he’s healthy again. He’s a fighter, and he’s meeting this long road head on with positivity. And I suspect, there are a lot of nights that he’s holding his momma’s hand just like that night so long ago when he first stole a piece of my heart.

And three months into the immunosuppressive therapy, his bone marrow has gone from 5% to 30%! That means it’s taking. There is always a chance of it going backward, but at this point, there is a far greater chance of it going forward. Xisto and his family still have a loooong road ahead of them; but with an excellent and dedicated team of doctors, and with so many people loving, supporting, and praying for them, they’re getting there

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If you’re not all ready a registered bone marrow donor, I urge you to be. It’s very simple and absolutely free. You can go here to register. They mail you four cotton swabs. You simply swab your cheeks and mail it back in. I know several of my friends have all ready done it, and it means more to me than they know; but it means even more to those who are in need of a bone marrow donor. It might not be Xisto you match; but if ever you are matched with someone, what a beautiful, selfless gift.

Also, if you find it to be the right thing for you and your family, I urge you to go here and donate to this wonderful family to help with medical expenses. Any little bit helps.

 

*** Each person who shares this post and comments below that they shared will be entered in to win a free Starbucks gift card (winner to be determined Friday, Aug 26 2016). So share away so we can spread awareness about severe aplastic anemia and flood Xisto with so much love and prayers while he spends yet another night in the hospital.

Cookies with Oogaa!

First, let me start off my apologizing for the horrendous photos. They’re clearly a cry for a bigger kitchen and better lighting. (Hear that, J? Bigger kitchen, better lighting! Or maybe just a new camera lens. I’ll leave the ball in your court and let you decide, ha. Also, go to sleep all ready!)

Sweet M’s godmother gave us a baggie full of baby cutlery her youngest no longer needed a while back, and in it was an Oogaa spoon. It was instant love and I knew I needed to get my hands on more of it. I had no idea that they carried a whole line of products, and that I would love all of their BPA-free, silicone products just as much as that one single spoon. (Read: If you’re in the market for baby/toddler/kid cutlery and dishes, save yourself the trouble of trying out a dozen different brands and just go get some Oogaa. It’ll be love.)

The great part about silicone dishes is that they’re multi-functional. Use them to eat off of. Use them to freeze things. And use them to bake!

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We do baby lead weaning around here, so Sweet M eats what we eat. But he also eats quite a bit of “baby food.” He started eating (per his pediatrician’s recommendation) at a younger age than his sibs, so he didn’t quite have the dexterity to feed himself. And of course, “food before one is just for fun” but he really wanted that food in his mouth. Hence the baby food, which he does get spoon-fed daily. But he also does self feed, or play/smoosh, at this point.

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So today as a special treat I decided to make the kids some after-dinner cookies. And I baked those tasty things right in our Oogaa divided plate. It was perfect because it has three ovals – one cookie for each kid.

We eat a primarily whole foods, primal diet. But I also believe moderation is key (and things like wine and dark chocolate are pivotal and life-sustaining), and we certainly like our sweets around here, too! I wanted to make something that Sweet M and Miss H and Mr. B would all enjoy, but that I felt comfortable letting Sweet M eat at this point.

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I’m really bad at following recipes, or measuring stuff, but roughly; I put a small banana in the food processor with about 1/4 cup of almond butter and a dash of walnut oil and a pinch of baking powder. I greased the Oogaa divided plate with coconut oil before pouring the batter in. I topped Miss H and Mr. B’s cookies with some dark chocolate chips, and left Sweet M’s plain. Cooked at 350 degrees for about 11 minutes and voila! Kid-loved, momma-approved cookies.

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They admittedly were more of a muffin texture, which I was anticipating, as I use a similar recipe to make the kids mini-muffins frequently. But that was perfect because it was a great texture for Sweet M and the big kids loved the shape of their cookies!

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I’m so excited to see what we can do next with our Oogaa products!

And Sweet M finished his desert by chewing on our Oogaa silicone mat; that poor teething baby.

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I Will Always Be Their Friend First

I always hear people say, “I’m their parent and not their friend” in regards to their children, and honestly, it makes me a bit sad. For them. For their kids. For the beautiful relationship that they could have if they weren’t on such a power trip.

And I get it. I really do. They most likely were raised the same way. So now that they finally have their own tiny people, it feels good to finally be at the top.

But what if I told you that you could all be at the top?

Now don’t get me wrong; I mess this gig up a lot. I’m not perfect. My parenting isn’t full-proof. I do not know all, and I’m certainly not infallible.

I do believe that kids need some semblance of structure. And I believe in boundaries that are safety issues or could otherwise cause harm to themselves or someone else. But tidy rooms and asking to be excused when they’re finished with dinner are not on those lists. I fall short on them every single day; it’d be utterly ridiculous and unfair of me to expect that of my children.

But more so, it would be damaging to our relationship. It would essentially be me harping on them for every infraction, cementing one brick after another onto the giant wall that would inevitably separate us.

The majority of the people I know who parent this way were also parented this way, and they do not have solid, healthy relationships with their own parents. Most of them claim to have good relationships, but to any outsider looking in, it’s obvious that they don’t: they simply do not know any differently.  It’s hard, trust me, I know, to change patterns. But your kids are more than worth it.

I am the mother to three amazing, vivacious, stubborn, strong-willed children. Some days mothering is challenging; knowing when to bend and when to stand firm. But being their friend? That’s always easy.

Think of all the big moments in your life. The challenges, joys, heartaches. I bet you shared all of those with friends. I know I did. But most people didn’t share all of those things with their parents. They just couldn’t wrap their brain around being that intimate with them. Too much fear of shame and being critiqued.

I want my kids to know I will always be here to help them. That’s my job. I want to help them. I want to gently guide them and mold them into being good people, and I know they don’t need a strong armed momma to dole out consequences for any little mishap.

It doesn’t mean I sit passively by while they rule the world. It just means we work together. And I do my job of modeling for them the way I hope they grow to behave. Gentle, kind, patient, self controlled. They absolutely cannot possibly learn these things if I don’t model it for them. Actions speak louder than words; unless of course your words are screaming. But even then.

I can tell my children all day long to say “please” and “thank you” but it’s a moot point if I don’t use those words myself and genuinely mean them. But if they hear me using them and whole-heartedly meaning them, they don’t need me to tell them to say it anyway because they will naturally do so. Now, will they say it every single time they “should”? Probably not. But you’ll only notice it because they’re kids. We rarely notice or care when adults forget to say it. But that’s a whole other essay about childism waiting to happen (can you tell yet I have a lot of beef with childism?).

I can tell my children not to yell when they’re angry, and offer alternatives to find relief for their upset; but if I’m yelling at them when I’m angry it will never matter. They’re learning from me to yell in anger; who cares what I’m telling them when they’re angry?

I want my kids to be so happy and so loved that it’s all they know. And I want them to always be able to say, “of course my mom is my friend!” because they know no one will ever be quite as in love or vested in them as me. And because I don’t understand how I could love someone this immensely and not want so deeply to develop the very closest of friendships with them.

When they break our rules, which are essentially, “treat one another with love and kindness” then we talk about it. We discuss what happened, why it happened, and what we can change in the future. Sometimes we take some time to calm down when they’re particularly upset, typically together, because “in our house we don’t deal with big scary, overwhelming feelings by ourselves” so I always stay nearby. I want them to always, always know that no matter how big, or angry, or sad, or quite frankly, annoying to me at times, those feelings are; they are never too big for me. If I, a grown adult, cannot help them cope with their feelings, how can I expect them, young children, to do so?

And so I try my very best to meet all of the emotions, those moments of utter frustration with them, when they’re purposely gauging and calculating how far they can push, with patience and love. Because I know that those moments are the biggest test of our relationship; they’re looking for the reassurance that I’m not just talk, that I really do love them at their naughtiest, that I really do have the patience and grace for them that they deserve. (And I am not saying that I get this right each time, or that it’s remotely easy: it’s isn’t always!)

I want to build a foundation of friendship now, while they’re still so little, that is so strong that by the time they’re teenagers and things like sex and drugs become very real realities, they don’t hesitate to talk to me about these things; to confide in me, to brainstorm with me, to lament to me, or even to confess to me. Because they know I will always be on their team, even for the big scary mishaps. I won’t judge them or criticize them. I will simply help them. Because that is what friends do. And as their momma, I will always be their friend. My relationship with them is worth far more than any power trip I could ever have by bullying them to be perfect little minions.

I want them to be so secure with themselves, to be so strong and vocal and courageous, which, I dare not say can only happen if they first have a secure and strong relationship with their parents, but I guarantee it will remove a lot of hurdles on their way to feeling confident and secure.

The philosophy J and I have adopted in our marriage when it comes to differences of views is: Will this matter tomorrow? Will it matter next week? Next year? Will this matter 20 years from now?

If the answer to the last question is yes, then we realize it is something that must be addressed. Ask me how many arguments (and this does not mean yelling at each other – neither of us have ever raised our voices at the other actually) we’ve ever had? I can tell you: one. Yep, that’s it. Because we’ve learned super early on that the little stuff just isn’t worth the time or energy micromanaging and worrying over.

And I’ve essentially adopted the same philosophy with our kids.

It is not going to matter in 20 years if our kids happen to forget to say “thank you” once or twice. It will matter in 20 years if I don’t model that etiquette so they learn though. It won’t matter in 20 years if our rule is “toys get picked up before bedtime” and they don’t. I know that it will not sentence them to a lifestyle of unsanitary filth (and besides, it’s a scientific fact that creative people are a bit more messy – so really, it’s probably a win!). It won’t matter in 20 years if they get ice cream after dinner this one time, even though they didn’t eat a single vegetable: they typically do eat veggies so I know they have good, healthful eating habits most of the time (and I’ve had ice cream for dinner as an adult more than I should admit, so there is that). I know that if they scream in excitement and wake the baby from his nap, although frustrating for me in that moment, although they know outside voices are for outside, will not even be an occasion of remembrance in 20 years, thus I’d do better to show them grace and strengthen that relationship, as opposed to getting mad and putting up another brick in the wall.

So, yes. I will always, always, always be my children’s friend. I am their mother, of course; a beautiful and sacred role that is so much deeper than friendship. But I am also a friend; a role that only strengthens our bond for the long term.

Please Do Not Ask Me If I Have A “Good” Baby

By the time you get to baby #3 there is a lot that no longer fazes you.

You take unsolicited parenting advice with a grain of salt (though I still solicit a whole lot of it!).

You’re not fazed by the strangers who want to croon over your baby.

You know all challenges have their season and do not last forever.

You know that it’s more nature than nurture, despite having convinced your pre-kid self otherwise (though nurture matters too! But things like sleep habits, yeah, you have no pull.)

When people stare at your tantruming toddler you smile; you know better than to be embarrassed that your child is merely human.

But the one thing I still can’t stand is when someone asks me if he’s a “good” baby. What does that mean exactly? Does he sleep through the night? No. Is he content in the car? No. Does he amuse himself on the floor so I can get things done? No. Is he a good napper? No. Is he unfazed by teething? No. Is he a good baby? Well, of course! He’s a baby. He’s the best. He’s vivacious and tenacious, and his demanding needs are high. But the antithesis of “good” is “bad” and there simply is no such thing as a bad baby, no matter how challenging or needy (which is only par for the course: they’re completely helpless).

So please, please, don’t ask me if I have “good” baby. You can ask if he’s got teeth yet, or what his favorite foods are. I don’t even mind if you ask his sleeping habits or how frequently her nurses; because I can’t tell you much else at this point: I don’t know if he’ll be a soccer player or a bookworm. Maybe he’ll yodel or be a chess champ. So much of his person I don’t yet know.

But what I do know is that yes, of course, he is so, so innately good. There is nothing bad about him. So don’t put limitations on what makes him “good” – challenging does not equal bad. Trust me. And easy doesn’t equal good either.

A baby is a baby is a baby. And all babies are good.

Baby Bonnets by Emmifaye Boutique

We spend a lot of time outdoors. I try to keep Sweet M in the shade as much as possible, but sometimes it just isn’t feasible. IMG_0869

He’s not quite old enough for sunscreen, and I’d rather avoid slathering him in it when possible anyway. So I like to keep him as well-guarded from the sun as possible when we are going to be out and about.

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He’s expressed great displeasure with most sunhats I’ve found for him. I suppose that while shielding his eyes and face from the sun, the hats also shielding him from seeing quite a bit. I get that.

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Still. His little head is so exposed. And on windy days he can’t bury himself into me quite enough to get away from it.

So when I found emmifaye boutique (right in Minnesota!) with it’s plethora of baby bonnets for every season and occasion; I knew Sweet M needed one.

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And boy was I right!

He doesn’t fuss when I put it on him, nor does he try to take it off (though he does try to use the strings as teethers on occasion – so we now know it’s quite durable!).

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This handmade hat is not just adorable, but it’s ridiculously utilitarian. It shields his tiny noggin’ from the sun and the wind; and he looks adorable to boot! He’s got a noggin’ in the 75th% – so a big ol’ head compared to Miss H and Mr. B at nearly 6 months old, and he comfortably fits in a size 6-12 month/small hat.

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Judy, the owner of emmifaye was so easy and pleasant to work with, and extremely prompt with turnaround. So if you need a bonnet for your little one, be sure to check her out! We will definitely be back for more!

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Holiday World with My Peoples

Yesterday I took my peoples to Holiday World.

I’d been planning this adventure before summer even began. I looked up the last week it was operating during business days and marked that Thursday on our calendar. I knew most kids would be in school all ready, so it would be less crowded.

I was right. There was no wait for hardly anything. And when you’ve got tiny humans; that’s everything.

I’d hemmed and hawed mentally over whether or not Sweet M and I should go since he couldn’t really partake in anything and it’d be hot, but ultimately, I knew I didn’t want to miss it. Seeing those smiles on my big kids and husband, well, it’s totally worth it.

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It turned out to be a pretty nice day any way. It got muggy in the afternoon, but nothing too unbearable. And Sweet M was an absolute champ.

We ventured in the waterpark for more than half of the time. J kept Sweet M while the big kids and I did one giant waterslide together. Then the kids played on smaller waterslides on their own, while we watched them from the sidelines. And later I snuck Miss H away with me to go on a water coaster that Mr. B just wasn’t quite tall enough to ride yet (he needed to be 42″ and he’s only 41.5″ – so close!).

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My favorite part of the day was probably lounging in a tube in the lazy river with a sweet, happy baby sitting on my tummy. But we were all in on that, so no photos.

Miss H saw a Dippin’ Dots stand on our way into the waterpark, and her mind was set. So I told her after she’d had lunch and we were leaving the waterpark we’d get some. She reminded us relentlessly about the Dippin’ Dots, and was pleased as punch when she finally got them.

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But really, this day trip was so awesome and no one fussed or had a fit. Even Sweet M was a chill little fellow the whole time. It was great!

Other than the roller coasters, the kids could ride nearly everything with an adult. So J and I switched off riding different rides with them. And then J and I watched together while they rode many of the rides just with one another. I see these two thrill-seekers being great theme park buddies as they grow!

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Overall, the day was lovely. The parks short end-of-season-hours were perfect for us, and forced us to leave at bedtime so no one hit that epic overtired stage that would have been ruinous.

I can’t wait to go back next year with them: and Sweet M can participate some then too!