Tuesday, March 29

Late Night Hospital Visits and Other Ramblings...

I dropped the girls off at playschool this morning and boy oh boy am I happy for the gift of a quiet house right now.

I actually don't think there is ANYTHING that I would appreciate more than these few moments of pure silence...to drink tea...to sit near a sunny window and just blog my chaos away...I mean maybe a really, REALLY large sum of money, but if it meant giving up this quiet house it would have to be in the MILLIONS of dollars to make it worthwhile.

If you're feeling a little nutty this morning, or your kids are making you want to lock them in the house while you go sit out in the snow in your backyard to meditate or say a prayer, do read on. I can't promise my recounting of my last 24 hours will take any of your troubles away, and it certainly won't quiet your whining children (sorry!) but, maybe it will make you laugh and remind you that you are not the only one dealing with craziness on a day to day basis.

So, after my very wise post about "feeling" happy yesterday and managing our emotions I decided that it was time to check myself into a yoga class, at least once a week, just to see if it helped to quiet my mind.

I made it to my yoga class by 7:30, settled in and was stretching, and breathing and stretching, and breathing...and wait...there is a gym employee standing near the back door staring into the class...why is he staring into our room...he looks like he is waiting for the class to end...someone in class actually makes a joke about it...."Someone should go tell that guy that we have another 15 minutes," she says...Someone probably should, but hey, this is yoga, we need to focus on our breathing not the other distractions...

Until, said gym man finally comes walking into the room...

"Is there a Lisa Littlewood here? Your husband is on the phone and says there is an emergency!"

My heart jumps all the way from my grounded feet up to my throat.

"Yeah. Right here." I say, as I quickly and clumsily grab my mat, and my socks and my boots and my jacket, leave any peacefulness or centeredness on the floor in that room as me and my adrenaline go flying to the nearest phone.

"Lis, I'm friggin' pissed at the gym...I've been waiting on this friggin' phone for 10 minutes!" Scott says.

Honey, I know...but we were in yoga and the poor guy was standing outside the door not wanting to disturb us all as we are trying to find our inner peace.

"Babe, I'm sorry. What is going on?"

"Ella ate Benadryl. I don't know how much. I'm on my way to Children's Hospital. Ava is at your moms."

So, to summarize...here is what supposedly happened. The next door neighbor's daughter was over playing with Ava. Scott was downstairs saying goodbye to my brother who had come over for dinner...The next door neighbor came over to pick up her daughter and Scott ventured upstairs to get her. What he found in the bathroom was Ava and Madison (the neighbor girl) sopping wet in the bathroom because they had decided to wash their own hair in the bathtub and Ella sitting on the floor after somehow having climbed into our medicine cabinet, finding the adult Benadryl, managing to get the bottle opened and still having a pill in her mouth with several other wet pills on the floor.

Scott called poison control and no one knew how much Ella actually ate so they said she should get to the ER.

Anyway, to make a long story short. Ella is fine. We don't think she ate very much. She did get to bed at 1 a.m. and woke up at 7:30 this morning though. We tried to put her back to sleep and 1/2 an hour later I hear,


Well, I guess that settles that. I wasn't done drinking the coffee that I was attempting to use to wake me out of my own morning slumber after also not falling asleep until Scott got home...but that tiny detail really has no relevance here...

I got Ella up. I got the girls fed, dressed and out of the house. I drove them all the way over to the church. I dropped them off and then bumped into another mom I know who has two very small children. We were commiserating about how our houses are always trashed, how it is impossible to fold a basket of laundry because someone needs you every 2 1/2 minutes, and how we are mostly completely overwhelmed by the utter chaos on many days. Not a very uplifting conversation on the surface, but TOTALLY uplifting in the sense that WE ARE NOT ALONE in our craziness, and that reminder, in and of itself is all I need on some days.

So, thanks Kelly for sharing your craziness with me. I'm glad I'm not alone, and please know you are not either.

I get I the car and start driving home, all happy to have dropped the girls off and grateful that the sun is shining when I look up in the mirror and realize I have a big friggin' piece of black pepper from my breakfast stuck right between my two front teeth.

Now, maybe this would not have been a big deal if I hadn't talked to anyone, but I had just recounted the entire last night's events to the playschool teachers, and then yakked away to Kelly about my crazy house, and smiled big toothy grins as she told me about hers. It wasn't bad enough that I was feeling as frumpy, messy, dumpy as one can feel in my fleece, sweats, the no make-up on my unwashed face from the night before, my glasses, the hat the was covering my very scary hair...and alas, that big ole piece of pepper just hanging out between my teeth to remind everybody that, well, we're all VERY very human I suppose.

Ahhh....such is life.  I'm off to "fake it till I make it!" today...hope you are too! (If you don't know what I'm talking about, read my post from yesterday!)

Monday, March 28

Managing Momma Mondays: Your Emotions

Bee Happy! 

I don't know about you, but I would have to say, on a day to day basis, that one of my biggest struggles, in general and as a mother is managing my own emotions and feelings. We women, we're an emotional bunch. We mother's, we're an even more emotional bunch...and, I don't know about you, but if you have girls in your house....HOLY MOLY...watch out...things are highly charged, always emotional and sometimes leave you feeling like you are on a perpetual amusement park ride that is whipping you around in circles leaving you dizzy and confused and unable to walk in a straight line once you get off...like at 10 p.m. at night after the children are FINALLY sleeping.

I'm beginning to realize that this may always be my struggle...trying to balance my emotions, especially when things start to pile up on my plate. They can be good things that are piling up-- articles to be written, leadership courses that I have the opportunity to attend, house projects we are working on, birthday parties to plan, holidays to shop and prepare for, the garden to think about in the summer, the list goes on and on.

BUT, for me...too much on my plate is just too much...no matter how good it is...You could load up my dinner plate with cheese, and bread, potatoes and fettucine alfredo, but if it starts spilling over the side, I'm going to get a little overwhelmed by the possibility of eating it ALL...everything in moderation, right?

That said, when you have little ones life is perpetual time crunch and so I'm learning to find the right balance between saying "NO" to the things that are going to leave my plate overflowing, and to trying to manage well what is on my plate without getting overwhelmed.

I used to have a teaching professor whose favorite thing to tell us was "Fake it 'till you make it". Well, the same goes with your emotions sometimes....or so I'm told...even if you are not "feeling" happy...start telling yourself you are. Start counting your blessings. Looking at the good and eventually you will not be 'faking' it any longer, but will actually be feeling happier.

I am currently reading a book called Spontaneous Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil (a brilliant Harvard educated naturopath who is a proponent of the body's ability to heal itself if we treat it well and offers a lot of great advice on nutrition, healthy living, etc.) This is what he says in his chapter on "Mind and Spirit"
"In Buddhist psychology, addiction to thought is seen as a major obstacle to enlightenment, because when our attention is focused on thought, we cannot experience reality. Thought takes us out of the here and now and into the past, into the future and into fantasy-- all unreal realms. On a practical level, thoughts are the major sources of anxiety, fear and sadness-- emotions that probably obstruct healing and certainly cause us a great deal of anguish." 
Oh my. This is SO true in my life.  My EMOTIONS leave my head spinning sometimes.

Weil goes on to quote an 18th century Jewish mystic who says the following...
"Always be joyful, no matter what you are. With happiness you can give a person life." Every day, he further stressed, we must deliberately induce in ourselves a buoyant, exuberant attitude towards life; in this manner we will gradually become receptive to the subtle mysteries around us. And, if no inspired moments seem to come, we should act as though we have them anyway. "If you have no enthusiasm, put on a front," he says, "Act enthusiastic, and the feeling will become genuine." 
In essence, "Fake it 'till you make it."

So, I'm trying this...it helped me a lot yesterday when I was feeling a little crabby about needing to get the girls dressed and ready and to church on my own in the morning. "BE HAPPY Lisa. The sun is shining. Your girls are healthy. We have a home and food and so much else."

Eventually, I did really start to feel happier.

Today, feeling a little irritable again...trying to focus on the sunshine and planning to try a yoga class later..I met a woman at the gym this past weekend who is a lovely Christian woman and told me how much yoga has changed her life and her mind. It is a day by day journey.

I will write again next week about managing our emotions. What the bible has to say about it, and some of the other things I'm working on throughout the week to accomplish this in my life.

Thursday, March 24

Naughty or Nice?

Does this look like a face that would do any harm?

Well, now that I'm looking at the picture, I'm realizing those are my glasses...that she must have taken from my dresser...which she must have climbed up onto via a stool...but, besides that, sweet girl, sweet face...right?! 

I asked Ava a simple question before her nap this afternoon. "How was playschool this morning? Can you tell me one thing that you did?"

I was hoping for a simple answer. This is what she said instead.

"Naughty or nice?"

"Naughty or nice?!! AVA! What does that mean? Did you do something naughty at playschool today?"

"Uh-huh," she says with a smirk.

I'm trying not to laugh, even though I'm now finding the entire conversation pretty humorous. Partially because she is smirking, partially because I'm so surprised by her answer, partially because I can't WAIT to hear the rest of the story. Also, I'm thinking, It can't be that bad or her teacher would have SURELY mentioned something....right?!

"Ava, what did you do?"

Brace yourself. This is pretty funny. Also, be glad you don't have to supress your laughter in the guise of trying to be a responsible parent who needs to teach her child the difference between right and wrong.

"I squished a kid under a triangle."


"Huh?! You did what?" I ask again...utterly perplexed.

"I squished a kid under a  triangle," she says trying to hide her own grin.

"Ava Katherine. That is NOT nice!" I say.  In my head I'm thinking, What in the WORLD does she mean by squishing a kid under a friggin' triangle?!!!! And since when is she the squishing other kids type?!!!

The thing that is quite perplexing is that this is my little girl, who although not always sweet to her little sister, is usually quite timid and shy and reluctant to enter into preschool, or Sunday school, or any other sort of classroom situation. She usually clings to her teachers and doesn't play with the kids.

...now she's SQUISHING them!!!

"Ava, was it a little girl or a little boy?" As if it matters, right?!

"A little girl."

"Did you say you were sorry."


"Ava, you should always say you're sorry when you hurt someone. What did Miss Carrie (the teacher) say?"

"She said 'Put the triangle away.'

Now I'm really trying to hold it all in because she is telling me this all so nonchalantly-- as if it is the most normal thing in the world to squish a kid with a triangle and then have your teacher tell you to put the triangle away!

"Well, next time you see the little girl, I want you to tell her you are sorry. You should apologize to your teacher too!"

"Ella told her she was sorry Mom."

"Ella wasn't the one squishing people Ava."

"Yes she was. Ella squished her too"

Oh dear God help me. Now my sweet girls have figured out to gang up on people when they are squishing them with triangles.

I did go on to ask Ava how she would feel if she had been the one being squished and she said she would not have liked it. I do also plan to also call Miss Carrie tomorrow morning to apologize and to have Ava apologize to her too. I suppose if the incident had been that bad the teacher would have said something today...cringe, cringe, cringe...right?!

In the meantime I'm heading over to Amazon to look for a toddler devotional book. My sister has the One Year Devotional for Toddlers.  Each day has a short story/commentary about a biblical principal with some questions for the kids to answer. It's quite simple, very cute and perfect for kids under 5. I've been thinking about ordering it for a while, but suddenly feel the urge to institute some higher levels of moral teaching around here!!

Tuesday, March 22

Dear Mom...

Dear Mom,

Thank you for watching the girls this morning...so sorry they have the energy of wild monkey's.

Just wanted to say...sorry that...

Ella was standing on your coffee table within two minutes of walking in the door

That she likely spilled dog food all over the kitchen in an attempt to "feed the dog"

That she was flinging lettuce into the middle of the table and spitting juice from her mouth like a llama at lunchtime

That she started throwing crackers on the floor

That they both made you forget to put flour in the cookies...they are REALLY good cookies...thanks for making them with my crazy kids...I forget all sorts of things when they're awake!

That Ella was putting her feet on the lunch table, and then Ava decided to put her feet on the table, after pulling her pants off because she spilled juice on them and was sitting in just underwear...

That Ava was dropping ham and mayonnaise all over your dining room chair

That the jar of baby food splattered all over your microwave while I was warming it up for Ella...even though she should be no longer be eating baby food, but is incredibly picky!

That you had to listen to a major meltdown of gargantuan proportions after Ella chose a cookie for a snack after lunch instead of M & M's, but after finishing the cookie decided her life was going to be incredibly awful if she didn't get M & M's and therefore threw herself into an uncontrollable tizzy...

That you are kind enough to keep watching them after episodes like that...

...and these were only the things that I witnessed in the hour I was with you all this morning when I dropped them off and brought sandwiches over for lunch. There were probably a host of other 'incidences that I did not see in the 2 1/2 hours that they were at your house.

...you are probably quite right about the angel's working over time to keep up with these two...

Thankful for you. Thankful for those angels!


Your Grateful Daughter who is about to take a nap because her children are nuts...I blame it all on genes (Scott's of course), because otherwise I'd be steeped in guilt wondering where in the world I'm going wrong in the upbringing department. I'm sure you're about to take a nap too!

P.S. I DO discipline them at home....I SWEAR!

Monday, March 21

Managing Momma Mondays: Laughter

There is a lot on our plates, us momma's. We manage our kids, and their emotions (dear Lord, help me here!), their meals, and their clothes. We manage most of what goes on in our homes by trying to organize and simplify and rectify the things that are not working. We mange our grocery lists, and our meal planning, the laundry and our children's schedules. If we have job's outside the home, we manage those responsibilities as well....deep breath...I'm tired just writing about it all.

In the midst of all of this managing we often forget one very important element...ourselves. Perhaps it's not that we forget as much as we end up putting ourselves at the bottom of the list. I know it's for good reasons sometimes-- being a mom is a sacrificial job and the things that need to be sacrificed tend to be our time, our energy, our gray hairs that need to be dyed, or eyebrows that need to be waxed. On a more serious note, sometimes it is our health (we don't eat well while we're running around), our physical stamina (we don't sleep enough or exercise like we should) and our spiritual being (we don't pray or spend the quiet time to gather our thoughts that we need).

In light of this universal struggle I've decided to change things up a bit and start calling my Monday posts "Managing Momma Mondays". On Monday I will post about any one of these things...the physical, the spiritual, the emotional and how I attempt to fit these things into my life.

Believe me when I say I DO NOT have it all together. HaHa. I have meltdowns and breakdowns and mommy time outs quite frequently. But, as I venture through life, particularly through motherhood, I find myself making changes, adjusting schedules and being deliberate about making time for some of the things that are important for keeping me sane. It is those things I will share with you on Mondays...to hopefully give you some motivation and encouragement to make it through your own crazy lives and weeks.

So, my first short "tip" is laughter...you must laugh...at life, at the funny things your kids do, at the spilled milk and the butter smeared all over your kitchen table. You must laugh. So much of being a parent is nutty and unexpected. If you don't laugh at some of it you will become nutty and perhaps eventually committed.

I'm clumsy sometimes. I trip over things that most people wouldn't trip over. I fall in high heeled shoes. I leave things on the top of my car that fly off the top when I drive. I spill, spill, SPILL things on tables and counters and my clothing. SO, when my kids do the same things it does me no good to be upset...it's part of being human sometimes and this clumsy lady is the one setting the example. I often have to remind Scott of this...he gets grumpy when the girls get messy...I tell him it's not a big deal...there are more serious things to be grumpy about!

In that spirit I went in search of a couple of quotes about laughter to help you lighten your grumpy load and manage being a momma this week...here they are:

"An optimist laughs to forget. A pessimist forgets to laugh." (Anon)

"The person who knows how to laugh at himself will never cease to be amused." (Shirley MacLaine)

"Don't cry over spilled milk."

In that light be optimistic this week. See the glass half full. I know this isn't  always easy, but hey, a half full glass makes less of a mess than a full one, and a half empty glass just isn't a whole lot of fun, right!? (I'm not sure that was very optimistic of me, but it certainly is practical!).

Friday, March 18

Teaching the World Around You

I can tend to get caught in the competitive parenting trap. I don't intend it to be competitive parenting when I'm in the moment, but if I step back and really think about what I am doing there is no other definition for it.

What am I defining as competitive parenting? Well, any pressure we place on ourselves, especially when our children are young to learn the right things, at the right time, in the right way. I mean, for heaven's sake, if our children don't know all of their colors and can't count to 10 by the time they are 11 months old, well, then not only are we in big trouble with that little trouble maker but really, you have utterly failed as a parent. I'm serious. (Hands on hips, stern teacher look).

Alright, seriously though, there are parents that get really crazy about all of this stuff. I saw a posting on an online mothers bulletin board recently where a woman asked the following questions, "My daughter is 3 1/2 and while she can sing her ABC's, she can't identify all of the letters in the alphabet individually and she is having a hard time writing them?"


I seriously must have missed something if that is where a 3 1/2 year old should be because I thought Ava was pretty smart and she can't do all of that either...I'm calling early intervention first thing Monday morning. I'm serious. (the look...)

That said, while I thought this woman was a little OC for asking the question, there was a tiny weeny little part of me thinking, 'uh-oh, should Ava  be doing more? She's not in pre-school this year, is she missing out? Should I hire a reading tutor for her?'

I didn't really ask myself that last question...about the tutor...but you do start to feel a little crazy sometimes!

All that said, for the most part I feel like I'm pretty comfortable about where I am with the girls. I think my approach is a little 'old-school' because I'm pretty laid back about it all. I mean, I learned the alphabet when I went to kindergarten and I'm not illiterate!

So, in the spirit of being more casual about our teaching, using the time we have with our children at home to have fun and create bonds, not get all crazy with workbooks, and tutors and computer programs, I thought I'd offer a few suggestions for teaching from the world around you.

1. Practice Letters and Numbers While you Walk
We went for a walk today and  suddenly it dawned on me that there were learning opportunities for Ava all around us. It started with a  little game of "I-spy" (which she loves to play and which always cracks me up because when she is 'spying' she concentrates really, really hard, stares at whatever the thing is for like 5 minutes and says with furrowed brow...'I spy with my little eye, something red and white and blue that looks like a flag'....and I'm always like...'um, could it be the flag up there?' and she gets all excited, "YES. YES. YOU Got it mom!" And I just smile).

Anyway, we turned our game of color I -Spy into a number and letter I-Spy with house numbers, and license plate numbers and letters written on street signs. It was a lot of fun. Once we were done with that I'd point to a house and ask her to tell me what numbers she saw on the house. She'd get all excited and tell me what they were and then we talked about how the mailman uses the numbers to give us our mail...she was so darned excited to figure all of this out!

2. Make Cards for Those You Love
I was writing a card for my friend Sara who lives (sadly) 425 miles away, and thought I'd seize the opportunity to have the girls do an art project with purpose...Sara has 3 little kiddos so I gave the girls blank cards and had them color pictures, decorate with stickers, and then had Ava practice writing her name. Ava loved the idea of sending someone mail, she practiced writing her name (which is only 3 letters, two of which are the same, so I guess I'm lucky on that front!), then I showed her how to address an envelope (which I did while she watched) and had her put the stamps and return labels on. She then went out to the mail box all by herself, put the mail in and raised the little red flag. She was quite proud.

3. Bake With Your Kids
Most of you probably do this already, but it is one of our favorite past times when we are bored. We print a recipe (Ava gets it off the printer), we pull out all of the ingredients, the girls get on their little chairs and I let them take turns helping to measure and dump ingredients, put cupcake liners in the pan, or drop cookies onto the sheet. Is it messier with kids? Of course! But they love to feel included, watch things baking and I often show Ava how to measure correctly, let her smell thing ingredients (spices especially) and help clean up.

4.Teach at the Grocery Store
I won't lie, this is kind of hard with two kids...if I have both of them with me I usually shove lollipops in their hands to keep them quiet and occupied...BUT, I do try to teach them things, especially if I only have one. Ava will help to count out produce. I tell her to grab 5 oranges (very carefully!) and she counts them out...Ella often repeats the counting which is great. We practice colors of fruit, I teach them names of things (asparagus, kale, ginger...sometimes I try to find more unique items, even if we don't buy them). We ALWAYS stop to see the lobsters...sometimes the store workers will take them out and show Ava how their arms move around (which always grosses me out! ewww!).

We also talk about money sometimes, especially when Ava starts asking to buy this, that and the other thingamajig. I'll tell her how much things cost and sometimes explain how I compare prices.

5. In Season Plant a Garden!
If you have kids and you've never done this you SOOOO need to plant something with them this year. Even if it is just a couple of tomato plants in a pot. The girls had SO much fun with me last year digging holes, weeding, and obviously and eventually picking the fruits and vegetables. They are SO proud when they pick green beans and tomatoes and then bring them inside and help wash and cook them. I think it is important to teach them, eventually, that food doesn't just magically appear like it does when we go through the drive-thru (AND, the food that DOES just magically appear is probably not the best option for one's body!). That it takes work, and patience, but also how cool God is to have created all of this stuff!

That's all I've got for today. Not rocket science I know...but after all, Ava is not going to MIT to be a rocket scientist anyway...that's already been proven by the fact that she can't recite the Declaration of Independence word for word or write, legibly 72 vocabulary words on paper already. So, we're on a path of a different sort, but we're happy there. Hopefully you'll try some of these things and find some happiness in your casual teaching as well.

Friday, March 11

A Whole Lotta Crazy Going On...

I won't lie, being a momma makes me feel a little crazy sometimes. Alright, a lotta crazy. Like I have no idea where I am, where I'm going, or which end is up. Like my former life is a mere mirage created in my dreams to taunt me about the might have beens or things I used to do. 

Some days I pray in earnest, 'God, I love my children, but this is stinkin' hard.' God could you make them compliant today. Not whine today. Not fight today. Heck, maybe you could make them lunch today. Just send down some manna...that works for me. God, the other moms seem to have it all together...can I have some of that 'together'...I think I'm missing something here...

Lisa...my child...let go...of the expectation...of the discontentment...of the idea that you were not created for this...

I know, I know, YOU know that plans you have for me. I have to trust. Have faith. Hold onto the truth that you know the desires of my heart. That you see me, and my hopes even as I wash floors, and change diapers and put another boot on another foot because it is snowing for the 172nd day here in Buffalo. You know. You know, right?

Lisa (stern voice, eyebrows raised...)

I know. I know. I'm being stubborn. I'm being doubtful. I'm not listening. Gosh darned...just like my two year old. I'm probably driving you as crazy as she drives me some days. I'm trying God. To be patient and just do the tasks set before me. To do them well...without grumbling and complaining. I'm trying to be patient, throughout the day, in the midst of it all. 

Lisa, I know. I see you. 

Thank you God. For stories like Hagar. You knew her. You saw her. You had plans for her. I will cling to you today instead of to my discontent. I will trust. I will stop and breathe. I will pray. And thank you for the blessings you have bestowed upon me. 

...But, if you could...if you would...just in case you didn't know exactly what I've been thinking about...there is this writing conference in Concord, North Carolina in July that I'd really, really, REALLY, like to go to, and there is this scholarship contest going on right now...and well...just, maybe? 

Smirk. You make me laugh my child. 

Here's the thing...I have this HUGE passion in my heart to speak to, and write for, and connect with other mommies who feel a little lost in all of this mothering too. I want to encourage them. I want to connect with them. I want to help the other's who are struggling. I would love to share my story so at the very least they know they are not alone, but sometimes I feel a little lost in figuring out how to do that. But this conference...well, I think it would be a great motivator-- a huge help. I know God, you are there for all of those other moms, that they don't really need me in their lives... but I'd love to be your hands, your feet, your mouth, in flesh, to reach them and remind them that you created them too...that you see them. I'd really love to do that God. 

Nod. Smile. I know Lisa. I know. 

Alright...well, that's it for today. I saw this quote the other day and it made me laugh...It said 'God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called." I spent my whole life, before kids, trying to "qualify" myself to do what I thought I wanted to do...lately, I feel so unqualified to do anything, but maybe that's the whole point, huh? To help me to realize that it's your help I need, not the 'qualifications' of the world. I suppose I am learning a thing or two beyond toddler speak and how to give a preschooler a bath without soaking the entire bathroom...cool stuff. Thanks God. 

You're welcome Lisa. I love you. Remember that. 

I know. Thank you. I'm a bit of a bugger sometimes. 


So, friends...there is this really cool writing conference in Concord, North Carolina from July 22nd-24th and I think it would be a wonderful opportunity to give some grit, gusto and gumption to the ideas in my head...ideas for books, for talks, for reaching a wider audience than my itty bitty blog here...although I do love ya'll and I would keep writing blog entries just for you no matter what! 

The conference is called She Speaks and it is run by Proverbs 31 Ministries, this really cool, encouraging and empowering ministry that reaches out to empower and encourage women. 

That said, there is a contest going on right now to win a scholarship to the conference so I'm writing this post to A) tell you about the conference, B) tell you about the contest and C) enter myself in the contest via this post. 

Say some prayers my friends...For my guidance...and for a really cool door to open!  



Wednesday, March 9

Where Did I Go?

Some days I wonder, where did I go...

Am I under the kitchen table with the leftover crumbs?

Am I buried beneath one of the laundry piles on the basement floor?

Am I stashed away in one of the toy bins with princess dresses, tiaras, balls, blocks and legos?

Perhaps I am hiding away in one of the messy, unorganized closets or cabinets with that packet of gravy mix that I SWORE I bought, but seems nowhere to be found, or the 8 month old tablecloth in the target bag without a receipt that was supposed to have been returned, well, at least 6 months ago?

Yesterday was a day like that ladies. Where on earth did I go?

It was a long one. Scott's boss was in town and he left early and came home late (after the girls were in bed).

I was numb and crabby by the time he came home. I know these things go with the territory (literally, in our case as Scott is in sales which requires him to cover a very specific territory), but it doesn't make me like them any better. I have great empathy for single moms on days like yesterday. I don't know how they do it...how they survive. Or military moms...God bless you all...truly... my selfish pity-party holds no candle to what you go through.

But partner or no partner, I am convinced that many moms struggle with losing themselves in the constant demands...and I am no exception. As a matter of fact, if there were a manual on motherhood with a chapter on struggling with your identity as a mother, my photo would be right there on the front page looking a little disgruntled with greasy hair and bags under my eyes.

Some days I think my lesson in all of this motherhood craziness is to rise above, to change my perspective, to choose to be happier, more peaceful and more at ease about it all.

Some days I think that I may never be completely peaceful about it all, it is just something I'll have to work through until my girls are in school and I have a bit more time to work on other things I'm passionate about.

Some days I think I should get a job just to get out of the house. On those days I literally think that I would maintain more of my sanity collecting trash. I've always thought it looked like fun to ride on the side of the garbage truck.

When I'm having days like this I try to remind myself that even if I can't really see where I am going, God knows where I am...He sees me whether I'm hidden in the closet, with the crumbs under the table or up to my ankles in toilet water with a play date going on in my kitchen (true story!).

I had a meeting with a woman at my church several weeks ago...I just wanted to talk about all of these passions in my heart and mind to do all sorts of things while continuing to balance my responsibilities to my family...

...sometimes it's hard to lay those things aside...dreams to write, to teach, to reach others...when God just wants you to reach out and hug your own whining child all day....it's humbling, for sure.

Anyway, she said, "God knows your heart and knows your dreams and knows RIGHT where you are. Every dirty dish, and diaper and tantrum that you need to manage IS part of his plan...You can't write, or teach or reach those HE has for you to reach without going through the steps He has for you to go through."

Grrrrr. And thank you. That's what I had to say to that. 

How do other moms deal with feeling like they've lost themselves? Though I often feel like I'm the only one, I know that can't be true...

Wednesday, March 2

Today's Terrible Two Moments

So the saga continues...Since we spent most of the morning eating breakfast and getting ready to get out of the house for my dentist appointment we seemed to have avoided most toddler drama...

Ella saved it up for later though...don't you worry!

Here is the picture to prove it.

What is that? you may be asking.

That, my dear friends, is the almost cleaned up remnants of an almost full box of Cocoa Puffs that Ella found upstairs, proceeded to COMPLETELY empty onto the floor and then began to stomp on, crushing them into the rug. I entered onto the scene when I heard playful laughing coming from the hallway and looked to see what the girls were doing that was making them laugh so hard....

...stomping on an ENTIRE box of Cocoa Puffs, smashing them into the rug. Thats what!

Mommy was not vey happy.


I gave them two plastic bags and left them to clean...which was not very productive because everywhere they moved on their hands and knees they proceeded to further crush cereal into the rug. I left them alone for a couple of minutes because I wanted them to know spilling cereal all over the floor is not appropriate and that it was their responsibility to clean it up. When I returned Ella just sat on her bottom and stared at me.

"Ella, keep picking up the cereal."



"No I WON'T pick pick up the cereal."

"Ella, you pick up the cereal or there will be a spanking."

She picks up a few more pieces of cereal and laughs.

"Ella...this is NOT funny."

"Yes it is."

(I actually had to bite my tongue not to laugh because it was SO not funny even though it kind of was!)

"No. It isn't Ella. Keep picking up the cereal."

"Yes it ISSS"

I ignore her.

She stops picking up the cereal.

"Ella, if you don't start picking up the cereal on the count of 3 you will get a spanking and go to your bedroom."

I count...she does nothing...kind of like yesterday....the counting thing is workin' real well for me here, isn't it?!

I spank her once on her bum.

She looks at me.

"MOMMY. Why you hit my bum mommy?"

"Ella, you're being bad. I told you that."

"No I not mommy."

"Ella, keep cleaning up or you're going to your bed."

She just stares at me...I count again...she stares some more. Ava is cleaning up this entire time...she is looking like an angel in comparison these days!

I spank Ella again and then I pick her up, put her in her crib and take EVERYTHING out...blankets, snuggies, binkies. I tell her she is staying there until Scott gets home and that she as been bad, bad, bad. I close the door.

I crack the door 5 minutes later to see what she is doing....CRAWLING over the railing of her bed to get out is what she is doing!!!!!


She high-tails it back to her bed. She knows I'm mad.

That was pretty much the end of the episode. Scott came home about 20 minutes later and I sent him upstairs where the girls were waiting for him...I told them they were to stay in their rooms until Daddy came home...

Truly, there is very little that seems to get through to Ella these days. I spank her, she hardly flinches. I count, she stares. I put her in time out, she could care less. I tell her not to do ANYTHING and it is usually all the more reason for her to do it!

I did not do a lot of spanking with Ava...she never seemed to push the issues that far...I'd count to 2 and she'd be doing whatever I asked...Ella...she THRIVES on pushing my buttons...she thinks it's a game...and I'm running out of tactics!

Scott helped them finish cleaning the mess and sent Ella down to apologize to me...want to know the first thing she said....

"Mommy...Why'd you smack my bottom...it's not nice to smack my bottom!"

Great...now my two year old is giving me instruction on good vs. bad....Is there a role reversal of some sort that I missed here?!

Better luck tomorrow, right?!

p.s. I forgot to add one of the funniest moments...while the girls were in their rooms waiting for Scott to come home I snuck upstairs to take the pictures posted above...suddenly I hear Ava calling from her room..

"Mommy, Why you taking pictures?"



"Pictures mommy, why are you taking pictures."

I ignored her and ran downstairs before she actually caught me in the act...it's hard to believe you're actions are punishable when you're mother is photographing them for safe-keeping, huh?!

Tuesday, March 1

Terrible Twos Revisited

Oh my heavens...have we ever reentered back into the land of the 'terrible twos' over here! (That's not Ella, by the way, but she certainly looks like that on many an occasion these days).

I gotta tell you...I've always hated that label 'terrible twos', but truly, there is no other practical way to explain little Miss Ella's behavior lately.

I've actually stopped counting the number of tantrums she's had today...it's like one every 12 1/2 minutes she's awake...seriously.

Today, for example, she woke up and she was happy, but THEN...

...I wanted to change her diaper and she refused to lay down, and then she was upset that I grabbed her diaper because SHE wanted to do it...tantrum.

12 1/2 minutes later...I grabbed her clothes and started to get her dressed....she flips out because I tried to put her arms in the arm holes of her shirt...SHE wanted to do it.

12 1/2 minutes later...alright, maybe a few more...she was in the middle of eating her breakfast and there were egg yokes dripping down her chin, almost onto her shirt, and major snots dripping out of her nose...I grabbed a warm cloth to wipe her face....bad move...MAJOR TANTRUM...I mean crying like someone had just stomped on her foot, or stolen her favorite toy....for like 10 minutes!

I let Scott deal with that one...

12 1/2 minutes later...I'm trying to get both of the girls in the car to take them to Playschool for the morning. I grab Ella's coat and shoes...I start putting Ella's coat on...apparently today it was the wrong coat! She looks down at her sleeves, realizes it is not the red, ragged, corduroy coat and starts screaming, "Wrong coat! Wrong coat! Wrong coat!" Again...like someone had stomped on her toe. She was carrying on and on and on and on.

No lie.

I let Scott deal with that one too while I put Ava in the car.

12 1/2 minutes later...we arrive at church and are walking in and before I even know what is happening Ava runs up to the door and pushes the handicap access button to automatically open the door and Ella starts screaming and flings herself almost on the ground!!! Truly.

I have to pick her up and try to rationally  explain (for the record... there is no such thing as rational around here lately) that she can press the OTHER button on the inside of the door that opens the second set of doors!!!! I then have to forcefully command Ava, who is about to press the OTHER button, to stop all actions so that Ella can do it before I have a flailing two year old on a wet, snowy sidewalk outside of a church!

Well, I dropped them off for almost 3 hours and did some writing, a Zumba class and grabbed a few groceries...I picked them shortly after 12 noon....

12 1/2 minutes later...Ella is screaming AGAIN. I had let them run outside, each one got to press a handicap door button (though that was almost an issue again!) and put them in the car. Ella insisted on climbing in (instead of my putting her in) which I let her do...but then she just stood there...I tried to give her a choice (like I used to do with Ava and which USED to work well with Ava!)

"Ella, you have until I count to 3 to climb into your car seat or I will put you in."

She just stands there, in the car, and turns and stares at me. Not moving. Not one inch.


She stands and stares.


Stares some more.


Turns away and does not even look at me anymore.


I grab her and put her, KICKING AND SCREAMING, into her car seat. I literally have to hold her down to buckle her in.

She screams and screams and screams. We have now pulled out of the church parking lot and are on the main road. I hand her her cup and tell her to take a sip of juice and a deep breath.

She flings her cup as hard as she can to the floor.

I'm telling you, this one is a STINKER. Ava was naughty, but usually eventually compliant. Ella has baby anger management issues. I'm sure of it.

I finally pull a technique my own mother used to pull. The "sit on the side of the road until everyone behaves" technique.

Yes. Yes, I did.

"Ella. I am stopping this car right now and we WILL sit here until you stop all of this nonsense!"

She cries. And cries. And cries. And cries. Kicking her legs. Pulling at her car seat straps.

I look away.

"Ella, you can tell me when you're ready."

Like 4 minutes later she finally calms down.

"Are you ready now."

She whimpers a "yes" as she nods her head up and down...

We finally pull away.

I think that was it so far, but she's been sleeping for 2 hours...so I'm not sure that exactly counts....

Lord, bless me with patience and wisdom to handle a two year old! People say they're worse as teenagers, but I'm not sure....

I don't think Scott is winning the "whose job is harder" conversation today...

Oops. Did I say that out loud?

Love you honey. But you can take the two year old to Utica with you tomorrow.