Category Archives: parenting

Motherhood Summed Up

Today, Caitlyn and I tried making our first Syrian food on our own.  We made sambousak.  The variation we made is Spanish cheese wrapped in phyllo dough and fried in zayt (olive oil).  I did some of the frying–Caitlyn did all the rest.  We realized part way through that the oil needed to be hotter…that made her nervous, actually made me nervous too, but I had to be the mom and be brave.

It brought to mind a story that pretty much encapsulates much of motherhood for me.

When I was about Caitlyn’s age, 12, I had to swallow a whole lot of fear to help someone else.

We heated our house with wood when I was growing up.  We had two wood stoves on the main floor of the house and a wood burning furnace in the basement.  Putting wood in them scared the crud out of me.  I was terrified of the flames.  Then, in the dead of winter my mom got really sick from an allergic reaction.  In my young mind, I was afraid she was going to die.  I did everything I could think of to take care of her.  I got worried she would get cold so I gathered up all my courage and learned to put wood in the furnace.  I did it time and time again.  I can’t even tell you it got easier, but I learned I could do what had to be done.

That, to me, is a lot of what motherhood is.  Seeing the fear, feeling the fear, and doing it anyway.

The results aren’t always pretty, but it gets done.  One fire at a time.

Please Say Play Dough

My house is a wreck.  I am not kidding.  There is a porcupine in my living room…

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I have a ton of energy right now.  I worked out.  I shoveled snow.  Cleaned the snow, unloaded/loaded the dishwasher and even dusted a ton.  And yet, if you came in my house, you might want to call the health department on me (kidding, don’t.  Really.  Don’t.)

I wanted to keep going this morning and then my 4 year old said, “can we make play dough?”

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Yes, yes we can.  The rest can wait.

Here is the recipe I love for play dough.

Now about that Porcupine.   It’s a funny story.  Really.


Just a Mama

*I originally posted this as a status update yesterday.  I asked the mentioned people if it would be okay to post it on my blog as well.  Both gave their assent.  I set about editing what I had originally written to make it more–but I quickly realized I was editing for the sake of editing and that is never a good idea.


I’m going to say something about a divisive issue and then run away. I don’t want any negative comments. Only ones that build others, and the world, up.

Anyway–I don’t understand all of the factors or issues [of America’s race difficulties], but I know I have mama friends who are afraid for their brown baby boys. They are afraid of the world their children will face. They are afraid their boys will be seen as less than human because of their skin color.

And that is wrong. It breaks my heart to look at A’Driane and Leelah’s beautiful sweet boys and think of the fear their mamas carry. Why in the world can’t we be people? Just people. Why can’t we go about life loving and knowing people as– people.

I want a day that the mamas don’t have to tell their boys they are more likely to be arrested or harassed than their white friends, when they don’t have to watch the news in terror.

Please Lord, bring that day. Use me today and everyday to bring that day, to teach my girls about now, and that day. I am stepping into something I know nothing about in order to be a mama, just a mama with my lovely fellow mamas.


I have not joined 5 minute Friday in a long time.   I wouldn’t be surprised if it has been a year or more.  5 minute Friday is a weekly meme originally hosted by LisaJo Baker and now living over at Kate Motaung’s blog Heading Home.  Each Friday she provides a prompt that all are invited to write about–whatever can be said in 5 minutes with limited editing.  Here I go, diving back in with the prompt TURN


“It’s my turn.”

“No, it’s my turn.”

“Uh–uh, you already had a turn.  Mommy, Caitlyn won’t give me my turn.”

I hear this or some variation of this many times a week, often many times a day.  It apparently comes with the territory with multiple children.

It throws me for a loop every time.

I am an only child.  I didn’t have to share or take turns with a sibling on a daily basis, but for some reason, I developed an overpowering sense of fairness.  I try desperately to help my girls settle each squabble or issue fairly and quickly.

This makes parenthood very labor intensive and confusing to me.  I am always asking my hubby, the baby of 5, “Is this normal?  Are kids always like this?”  He repeatedly says, “yes dear.  You don’t have to answer their every question, you won’t make everything fair.  They’re kids.  They’ll be fine.”

Man, I hope so.  I hope they will exit childhood knowing there is unity and peace in family and that they are loved by their parents and each of their sisters, very, very much.

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Times up!  Now it is your turn to take 5 minutes and put together a post!

Mommy in Waiting

Eight years and 10 or 11 months.  That’s how long the calendar says I have been a parent.  I think I took to it pretty well.  I mean, I only forgot to change her diaper once, for like hours, and puzzled over why she was crying so intensely.  And I’m sure it was terribly wise to tuck my 6 week old into the moby wrap, zip my coat around her and shovel snow.  Right?

I sufficiently stressed over nursing my three girls.  I freaked out over their weight gain.  Worried about when they were psychologically ready for solid food.

My timing for potty training the firstborn was many months too early and the whole process was very drawn out and stressful.  I kept the potty chair accessible for her to get to…and the dog only ate her poopies once; she was only hysterical about it for a couple hours.  That’s a win, right?

And when school came, I made sure the two oldest ones were in matching outfits, at the last second, for the separate pictures they would be taking.  Said pictures were never even near each other, because I forgot to hang them up.  I bought the frames, so I was close…?????

Then, stop the presses, I lobbied my hubby to homeschool.  Because I needed the opportunity to puzzle over just the right curriculum and their learning styles and making sure they had other kids to interact with, to the extent we ended up with too many outside activities and had to cut some out.

All of this fun, these adventures have left me waiting…waiting for parenthood, and particularly motherhood, to get easy.  I think by now I have leaped over several hurdles and passed many tests, so today is when it will get ready, right?  Today is the day it will all be perfect.  Or, it will be the day Sue chases after a peacock at the zoo and I don’t notice until another mom stopped her.  And the icing on this first day of easy parenting will be my hubby asking me if I always yell at them that much…

Maybe it is tomorrow I will get to stop waiting for it to get easy.


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Quiet Here

Praying for friends who said their earthly good byes to their daughter today.

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Parenting with an Audience

Normally, I feel pretty good about my parenting skills. Well, there are those times that I am trying to reason with the 3 yr old and I wonder if I have ever been a mom before. (For those who have not had the privilege of a 3 yr old, there is noooooo reasoning with them.)  Or those times the girls ask me things like, “why did God make us right now to be your girl?”  Those questions catch me off guard, but NORMALLY, I feel like I know what I am doing.

Except when I am with other people.

I hate parenting with an audience.  When I am in the grocery store and the girls keep leaning on the check out belt.  Again and again.  And I don’t see it and the cashier tells them not to do that.  I feel like she is saying, “Parenting Fail.”  We’re at church and the girls start running, and someone looks over and I see in their eyes, “don’t you teach your children to respect the house of God.”  Even at friends houses.  Am I being too hard on my kids, too soft on my kids, am I not disciplining things they would correct, am I feeding my kids something they would never let theirs snack on?

I hate parenting with an audience.  I always feel off kilter, so I feel like I am waffling, demanding of my children one moment, soft on them the next.

Does this ever end?  Is it that I’m not really a good parent?  Do other parents feel this way?  Or am I just not confident in myself?

Do you struggle with this?  Or am I alone?  Do you care about what others think of your parenting, or do you know yourself well enough stand bravely on your own two feet?

My Life Painting

I have these three beautiful girls and an amazing hubby.  They truly rule my heart.

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Any wonder why?  Being the wife and mama takes my breathe away.

When I was working outside of the home, I absolutely could not justify additional time away from my family.  I was away from them a lot of hours, I reasoned, that must fulfill my needs for me.

Then I came home to roost.  And my mind didn’t know how to balance me and them and us.  I knew there was this concept, self-care, taking time to invest in the heart and soul through whatever activities or ideas feed your life, out there.  I knew people who espoused it.  I respected those who did.  I just felt lost.

I began to look around…and wonder what self-care was really all about.  And as often happens, my heart was drawn to a fellow mama.

My friend A’Driane does an amazing job of seeking and embracing self care. I watch her carve out the time and I am jealous. Not in the petty, she gets self care and I don’t, but in awe that she values herself enough to do so.

I grew up with women who saw surrendering of themselves to their children as admirable.  One of my strongest role model did just that.  She was so involved in her kid’s life and she made it look so easy, watching her invest herself so heavily seemed like a wonderful model of motherhood.  She was, and is, an amazing mother.  I dreamed of being such a mom. *

I also grew up under Biblical teachings often twisted to prove women should lose themselves in their vocation as wife and mother–or be able to do it ALLLL!!! (Proverbs 31 Woman).  So, I threw myself into doing it all.

But this idea of self-care nagged at me.  Was there something to it?  Should it be part of my life?  Could I still be considered a good mom if I indulged myself in this idea?

Truly, when I heard about self-care for the first time in ‪#‎ppdchat‬,** the idea was so foreign to me that I brushed it aside as something I didn’t need.  I was stronger than that, than those who “needed” time away.

But my beautiful A’Driane challenged my misguided notions just by living intentionally.  I saw her with her beautiful family of three boys and a great hubby.  I saw her making time to eat well, I saw her making time to exercise, I saw her making time to paint and write and love herself.

And I knew how strong she was.  There was no way I could construe her need of self-care as indulgence or a sign of weakness.  The woman chases after three boys, keeping up with demanding schedules with honesty and grace.

I began to wonder if the truth wasn’t that I loved my girls too much to take the time for self-care, but rather I didn’t love me enough to invest in who I am, in who I want to become.  I realized I haven’t arrived at at the final destination of who I am just because I love being a wife and mother.  I haven’t completed my journey of growth, I am still a changing, emerging, me.

Sometimes being me means I am all mom, or all wife, all family, sometimes maybe it means something more.  Maybe it means embracing where I’ve been, where I am and where I want to be.

It’s time to blend it all, to create my own life painting.

Today, I’m here to invest in myself. I’m here to take baby steps.

I’m here to re-embrace my lifelong love of reading. I’m here to let the authors words wash my soul, feed my soul, rebirth my soul.

I’m here to embrace me and all that it means.


*That amazing role model in my life?  I have watched her grow and rebirth as her motherhood journey has continued and she IS an amazing mother, friend, woman.  She has strength and drive to spare for all of those around her.

**Please, if you are working through a postpartum mood disorder, check out the hashtag #ppdchat on twitter to get an army of women who are right there in the journey with love and strength for you.  You will find resources and help, love and compassion that you never dreamed possible.

Great Day with Some Groveling Here Y’all

Today, meaning Saturday, since it is now actually Sunday, was a great day.  Well for me and the girls.  Hubby is being knocked for a loop with a cold, but he holds his own with those.  So, back to those of us who are healthy.

Thanks to my ongoing issues with insomnia, case in point, I am typing this at 3 am, my day started very early yesterday.  By 5:30 I was sewing for Sue.  She has been begging me for a neck pillow.  She drives me crazy every time she sees them at the store.  I keep explaining I have everything to make them, I just haven’t done it yet.  Well I remedied that situation.  I made hers completely and cut out the other two.

Then I headed off to donate blood.  Even that went well.  Next, was a couple pleasant errands (read, craft store). Finally, I made my way home where hubby had scrubbed and bleached the kitchen and bathroom.  How can you go wrong with any of that?

Kids are kids, so there were whinings, time outs and moments of, well, just moments.

But the good outweighed ALL of the that.

Caitlyn and I made her a stress ball (sand in a balloon) and a birdseed wreath.  She made a birdseed feeder as well.

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And the leaves are still hanging out and BEAUTIFUL.

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I even got a couple short naps.  Yes, a couple.  Donating blood drained me a bit. Bwhahaha.

The girls and I ended the day making banana bread.  As a side note, I can’t find my recipe so used one with buttermilk in it.  I’m not sold.  Does anybody have just a straight, no bourbon, recipe they’d like to share?

Pinally, Patrice, Caitlyn and Sue went to bed VERY easily tonight.  Patrice even put herself to bed.

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I should feel fantabulous about this day.  And I do, when I look at the pieces, but when I look at the whole, I feel a desperate need for affirmation as a mother.  Why is that?

I have questions.  Am I doing too much with/for my kids?  Am I letting them use electronics too much?  Am I pushing them too hard to clean their room?  Do I compliment them too much/not enough?  Should I be worried that Caitlyn wants a stress ball?  Am I doing this right?

A Parenting Moment

My father-in-law is very ill, so my husband has been at the hospital with his family most days.  And last night was a really long one.

That went okay.

At dinner my girls were all giggles and fun.  They even had their arms around each other saying, “best friends”


And after Patrice sneaking out of the house and getting halfway to the furthest stop sign on her tricycle, twice, I loaded them up to go to the park.  They wanted to walk; I voted for driving so we could maximize some play time.  The first one had no parking, so we went to the second one (we are very blessed to have several parks very nearby).

Once we got there, I realized two of the girls were in skirts, which yes, allowed one boo boo, the other two managed to come down the slide sideways and knock their noggins.  Sigh.

Caitlyn told me she was going to talk herself to sleep by “counting her bruises.”  I asked her to “Please not say that at school!”  I can just imagine that conversation with social services.  Oh boy.

All was going well.

Even bedtime was going swimmingly.

Then out comes Caitlyn.

“Sue says I am not part of this family because I don’t think thank you is the greatest word.”

“What do you think is the greatest word?,” I ask.



“Because it means great, better than great.  Cool!”

“Well, Caitlyn, I like how you have thought that out.  That is some great thinking.  You totally belong in this family.  You are perfect in this family.  God put you in this family and I love you very much.”  And she climbs in my arms.

Just as we are finishing up, Sue comes in.

“Everybody else belongs in this family except me.”  Sobbed as only a high strung 5 year old can sob it.  And she tries to run.  I, by the way am trapped under the sleeping baby, so have to get Sue to come back without chasing her down.  She comes back fighting like a little wild cat.  “Caitlyn and her friend only do what her friend wants (neighbor girl who is 10 and a great girl).  They never do what I want.  I don’t belong here.”

“Sue, look at me.  Look at mama’s face.  Look right at my face.  You look JUST LIKE MAMA.  We look just alike.  And you belong in this family.  You are perfect in this family.  Each of us belongs in this family.  God put mama and daddy together and he put you guys in our family.  And we love you.”

And she was finally calmed down enough to go to bed.

My wonderful hubby got home about an hour later.  I told him our latest drama and he said “Well honey, I think you handled that perfectly and had just the right words!”

My heart hurts for my Sue, but sings for me.  I don’t always know what to do as a mama.  My tongue is often sharp when it should be soft.  But last night, last night I shall cherish.


PS–I know families are built in many different ways, fostering, adoption and birth.  And I think each is beautiful,  but due to the odd nature of these conversations with Sue, which we’ve had more than once, I would like to clarify, each of my children carry mine and my husband’s DNA.  I am not sure why she is struggling so much with fitting here or not fitting here, but it is what it is, and we have some variation of this conversation almost daily.