Thursday, May 30, 2013

What Have Those Teachers Really Been Doing All Year?

My son finished preschool last week.  Looking back, I cannot believe how amazingly fast these 9 months have gone.  But when I start to think about how much my son has learned and changed and truly grown up, sometimes I can't believe it was only 9 months ago his preschool adventure began.

Whether your child is graduating from preschool or from high school, this time of year most definitely calls for celebration, for reflection, for rejoicing.  

As the school year winds to a close, it is a time to celebrate your child and all they've accomplished and worked for this year.  It is a time to reflect on how far they've come, and also to look ahead to the next step that lies before them.  It is a time to rejoice that you will not have to remind them to finish their homework or remember their gym shoes or their lunch money for three more blessed months.

In the midst of all this celebration, sometimes as parents it is easy for us to forget that it's also a time to show our gratitude to the people who have worked with our children day in and day out for the past 9 months.  

Yes, your child's teacher has been busy, well, teaching, but they've also been up to a lot more than that.  Just in case you're wondering...

What Have Those Teachers Really Been Doing All Year?
Back in August, they spent some very hot, sweaty days putting up bulletin boards, sticking labels on notebooks, organizing files and cupboards and bookshelves, and rearranging desks and furniture in 18 different ways until they got it just right.  And then moving it all around just one more time to allow for a little more space in the reading corner or a better traffic flow between student desks.

They worked tirelessly to create a community in your child's classroom.  They purposefully and intentionally engaged students in lessons and activities and discussions to make sure every single child in that classroom felt safe and cared for.  When someone was wronged or treated disrespectfully, they did some serious detective work get to the bottom of it and try to make things right again.  Most likely, that time was spent during their own lunch break or recess or planning time.  But they did it.  They did it because they knew it was important to that child, to the safety of that community, to the self-worth of everyone involved.

They planned lessons, planned field trips, planned hands-on activities.  They wrote reports, wrote lesson plans, wrote recommendation letters.  They completed paperwork, report cards, and then some more paperwork.  They conducted parent/teacher conferences, conducted experiments and conducted bands and choirs.  
At night and on the weekends, they worried about your child's well-being.  Sometimes it was for the whole class or for a group of kids, but a lot of times, it was for an individual child.  And you can believe each and every child was thought of and worried about on some weekend or some night.  What can I do differently to help him get that concept?  How can I help her to work things out with her friends?  How can I make sure he feels included at recess?  What can I do to make this lesson new and exciting and interesting?  What haven't I thought of yet?  Where can I get the resource she needs?  How can I support him through this tough time?

While working a full-time job, teachers were also taking college classes to make sure they were up-to-date on the most effective ways to teach your children.  They were writing papers and submitting projects, on top of grading papers and critiquing projects themselves.

They spent money out of their own pockets to make sure their students had what they needed, and had some little "extras" here and there, too.  From crayons to snacks to bean bag chairs to ice cream sandwiches, they also invested financially in your children.

They have been focused on your child's needs as a learner.  Not just the class as a whole, but your child.  They have been monitoring your child's progress to make sure they "get it," and then trying this and that and this other thing to help them if they don't "get it" quite yet.  They have stood by your child's side and encouraged them time and time again when something just isn't making sense.  They have helped them to try again and again, and they've helped your child to learn to persevere even when something is hard.  They have celebrated when your child proudly exclaims "I GET IT!" They cannot explain how proud they are of the hard work your child has put forth.  They have extended a challenge and pushed your child to go just a little bit further then they thought they could go.

They have helped your child learn their ABCs, how to draw a self-portrait, their multiplication facts, how to play the recorder, the scientific method, how to type, the capitals of the 50 states, and how to play floor hockey.  They have helped them prepare for the ACT, study for their AP exams, and write and re-write their college applications and scholarship essays.

Unfortunately, there have been some extremely sad situations that have occurred in school settings this year.  There are teachers who gave their all, who in some cases, even gave their lives, in an effort to protect their students.  These teachers are amazing, extraordinary people.  Please remember that the people teaching your children are just as amazing and just as extraordinary, and they would react in just the same way if their students were in any type of danger.  It is part of who they are and what they do.  They love, care for, and protect their students, no matter the circumstances.  They would come to their defense and their aid without a second thought.  

Teachers have spent the last 9 months loving on their students.  Absolutely loving them.  They have written notes, dried tears, and tied shoes.  They have listened, supported and encouraged.  They have attended your child's plays and concerts and games and matches.  They have talked with them about what's going on in their lives, about what their interests, hopes and dreams are, about who they are as people in this world, not just students in their classrooms.  

Are they excited for summer to arrive?  Absolutely.  But as summer approaches, they are also looking back on the school year spent with their students and thinking about how much they have grown and changed and learned.  They are reflecting on the leaps and bounds they have come together as a community, and the strides that have been made not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.  They are thinking about the smiles and laughs and hugs they will miss during those summer months.   

So yes, school's (almost) out for summer.  These teachers will take some time to refresh, relax, rejuvenate.  (Some of them will even spend the next few months teaching summer school, working on graduate classes, coaching summer sports teams or working or volunteering at summer camps.)  But before you know it, they will be back at it again.  Doing the job outlined in their contract, but also doing so much more than that.  They will be giving of themselves to their students -- their kids -- day in and day out.  

To teachers, principals, secretaries, counselors, social workers, paraprofessionals, speech pathologists, reading specialists, physical therapists, media specialists, occupational therapists, bus drivers, food service workers, school psychologists, playground supervisors:  THANK YOU.  Thank you for caring for our kids as if they were your own.  Thank you for giving of yourself tirelessly.  As parents, we appreciate you all more than you will ever know.  From the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU.

You Are a Good Mom, there is no question about that.  Before your child is out of school for the summer, though, don't forget to thank a teacher, and let them know They Are a Good Teacher, too.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

NQ: Stinky USBs

Notable Quotables:  Volume 6

My now 3-year-old daughter...
"I'm surfin' USB!"
...sang while "surfing" on balance boards at the Children's Museum.  She heard my son singing "Surfin' USA" and apparently, she decided to change it up a little bit.  That, or she may be our child to have a career in technology.  Or not.  Is a USB port at all related to surfing the web?

"Excuse me, God.  I would like to talk to you." she started her prayers the other night

My almost 5-year-old son...
"I am so stinky.  Yes, oh yes, I am.  I am so so so so so so STINK-EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"
...a lovely little tune performed by my son while he was in the bathroom.  Fortunately, I only heard this from the other side of the closed bathroom door.  

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.


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Sunday, May 26, 2013

"Parent"dox: Tag Team Sleeping

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #13: Tag Team Sleeping

It is no big secret that my kids are not the very best sleepers in town.  Or our neighborhood.  Or even our house for that matter.  

This is nothing new for me.  They weren't great sleepers as newborns or infants or toddlers.  

What is new, however, is this tag team approach to sleeping they have developed.

What is tag team sleeping you ask?  (You may have this very phenomenon occurring in your own household.  I really hope you don't, but read may recognize some of these traits.)  Tag team sleeping is when two or more children take turns waking up in the night on different nights throughout the week.  They are skilled organizers who coordinate who will wake up on any given night to ensure the adults in the house never actually get a full night's sleep.  

Tag Team Sleeping Monday Morning Staff Meeting
I totally picture my children mapping our their week on Monday morning, much like a staff office meeting.  They each pull out their calendars over a sippy cup of juice and a bowl of yogurt.  I think the conversation probably goes something like this:

"Yeah, tonight is good for me.  I don't have preschool, so I'll probably be pretty rested and be able to handle at least one good middle of the night coughing fit.  But Wednesday is gonna be tough.  I've got soccer that night, so I'll probably be pretty whooped.  I think I may actually sleep pretty sound all night long.  Can you pick up my Wednesday?"

"I can swing that.  I can probably do two or three night terror mini episodes that night.  I'll be so tired from Wednesday, that can spill into more night terrors on Thursday and Friday, too.  But if I take those 3 nights in a row, I'm gonna need you to handle Tuesday."

"Done.  I usually get thirsty on Tuesdays.  I'll just turn my light on in the middle of the night that shines right into Mom and Dad's room while I read some books.  But then the weekend is all you."

"Hmm...I may have to get back to you on that.  I do like to nap on Friday afternoons.  Maybe I can do a nap, then just arrange for an 11:00pm bedtime.  That should work.  But then Saturday is gonna be tough.  Can we meet in the middle on Saturday?  What if we both take Saturday?"

"Nice.  I like that.  A good double up to end the week sounds great.  What if you wet the bed and I just stumble into Mom and Dad's room for no real reason?  I'm liking how this week is shaping up.  This may be some of our best work yet."

The "parent"dox is this: I can't catch a break and just have one awful night of sleep with both kids.  If one sleeps through the night, the other is up.  And then it's pretty much guaranteed they'll flip flop and the "sleeper" from that night will become the "waker upper" the next night and vice versa.    

Case in Point: Last Tuesday
For about seven months now, my daughter has been struggling on and off with night terrors.  They have been occurring much more frequently in the last month or so.

[Please note: Night terrors are awful.  AWFUL.  I do not wish them on my worst enemy.  It is a screaming, crying child, who is not awake.  It's pretty much like they are having the most terrible nightmare ever, and they can't wake up.  I take that back.  It's not like that.  It is that.  You can't wake them up, and if you do try, it just makes it worse.  Kind of like how you're not supposed to wake up a sleep walker.  

There is no comforting, no consoling and no cure. 

I feel completely and totally helpless as my daughter screams and cries like one of her limbs is being ripped from her body, only for her to wake up in the morning and proudly report to me "I sleeped all night, Momma!" and have no recollection of whatever was making her so upset.  I've been told it's a phase and something they just eventually grow out of of.  I've also been given a few suggestions to try, but nothing has worked to this point.  I'm still open to ideas, though, so feel free to leave me one if you've got one...]

These night terrors pop up about 5-6 nights a week lately.  There can be anywhere from one to four different episodes throughout the night.  Sometimes they last a few minutes, sometimes almost an hour.  Either way, as soon as I hear her, I'm awake.  As in wide awake.  As in about 3 weeks ago, I started my day at 3:45am because I could not get back to sleep, even though my daughter had cried for about 2 minutes and was already back to dreamland.  

We celebrate the nights she sleeps through the night.  And how do we celebrate?  With joy and thanksgiving.  And also with my son being up in the night.  

On one such "daughter-slept-though-the-night miracle" last week, I awoke in the middle of the night to see a dim light coming from the kitchen.  (Did I mention I'm a super light sleeper ever since having kids?)  I heard footsteps and rustling around.  I rolled over, and sure enough, my husband was sound asleep next to me.  This, of course, made my stomach drop as I assumed he was the one making noise in the kitchen.  My heart started to race, until I heard a familiar voice "Mom?  Mom?  I'm thirsty."  

It was my son.  

I made my way into the kitchen to find him standing in his Spiderman pajamas in front of the warm glow of the refrigerator light.  He looked up at me and asked very matter-of-factly "Can you get me a Capri Sun?" as though there was nothing odd or out of the ordinary about searching the fridge for a beverage at 3:38am.  Yup.  3:38am.  He requested getting the straw into his Capri Sun (no small task in the dark at 3:38am), gulped the juice pouch down while we sat in a chair in the living room, and then headed back to bed.  This did not result it any bed wetting later in the night, so I did have that going for me.

Of course, this early morning juice run did occur on the rare occasion that my daughter slept through the night.  Not a night where I was already laying awake in bed after hearing my daughter cry.  Nope.  A night I was sleeping soundly and enjoying every second I could.  And why did it happen that way?  Their Monday morning staff meeting.  I am totally convinced of it.  

Tag team sleepers.  That's my kids.  It's just who they are.  

(Here's the most amazingly "parent"doxical part of it all:  I am still head over heels in love with both of them.)

I'm hoping I'll get some sleep around 2023 or so.  Or when we put a mini-fridge in my son's room.  Or when I can intercept their Monday Morning staff meetings.  I'll keep you posted.

Even when you're tired...  Even when your kids aren't sleeping...  Even when your kids join forces against you...  Fear not:  You Are a Good Mom.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

If you Give a Mom a Vacuum

If you're a Mom, chances are good you've read If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff to your kids once or twice or 127 times.  

It dawned on me the other day that I live out the plot of this book each and every time I try to vacuum my house.  Here is my attempt at how I think the Mom's version of this book would go.

If You Give a Mom a Vacuum

If you give a Mom a vacuum, she's going to take it to her son's room to get started on the seemingly simply task of vacuuming the house.  She'll see Legos, books, toy planes, pajamas and every size and shape of stuffed animal covering the floor.  

Before she can vacuum, she'll have to dig down through the layers of debris to see if there really still is carpet underneath it all.  She'll start by picking up the Legos, and she'll have to walk into the living room to put them away.  

When she walks into the living room to put them away, she spot a half-empty sippy cup.  She'll walk over to the sippy cup and smell it to see if anything has grown or fermented inside of it.  When she doesn't pass out from sniffing it because it only contained water, she'll decide to take the sippy cup into the kitchen to put it in the dishwasher.

As she opens the dishwasher, she'll notice it is full of clean dishes.  So she'll begin to empty the clean dishes out of the dishwasher.  She'll want to put the still-wet Tupperware containers on a kitchen towel to air dry, so she'll bend down to open the kitchen towel drawer.  When she opens the drawer, she'll notice that the drawer is completely empty.

This will remind her she needs to wash the load of dirty towels sitting in the hamper.  She'll walk into the closet to grab the basket of towels to throw in the washing machine.  Before she starts the load, she'll want to gather the remaining dirty towels  and washcloths out of the bathrooms.  

When she goes into the bathroom to grab the towels, she'll notice all the stuff sitting out on the counter.  She'll put all the bottles and tubes and jars and toothbrushes away.  As she turns to leave, she'll notice an empty cardboard tube where a full roll of toilet paper once used to be.  She'll reach under the sink to grab a new roll of toilet paper, but there won't be any there, either.

Next, she'll walk out to the closet to grab a few more rolls of toilet paper to put in all the bathrooms.  She'll spot the paper towel in the back of the closet, and this will remind her to put more paper towel in the kitchen, too.  

Once she walks into the kitchen to put the paper towel on the counter, she'll see 47 pairs of shoes by the kitchen door that leads to the garage.  She'll grab the shoes, and head back to her kids' bedrooms to put them away in their closets.

When she gets to her son's closet, she'll see the vacuum in the middle of his bedroom.  She'll see that it has yet to be plugged in, and that will probably remind her she was going to vacuum his room...if she can ever find the carpet in there.


Call it productive procrastination.  Call it "Give a Mouse a Cookie Syndrome."  Call it attempting to clean while there are real live children living in the space you are attempting to clean.  

No matter what you call it, this little parody pretty much sums up why I rarely see any task all the way through to completion at my house.  It seems like everything is always started, but nothing is ever finished.  I have a hunch Laura Numeroff was simply trying to vacuum her kid's room when this whole "Give a Mouse a Cookie" idea came to her.  

Even when your attempts to complete any task get de-railed by the millions of other tasks and distractions awaiting you, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

WTSW(t)BNQ: Skinny pants & A Condo

What They Said WednesTuesday Becomes Notable Quotables:  Volume 5

My now 3-year-old daughter...
"These are my skinny pants!" she was holding up her tights to show me.  I can count the number of times she has worn tights on one hand, which was quite obvious when she made this statement.  First, skinny jeans.  Next, skinny pants.  This may be the next style to sweep the nation.  You heard it here first.

"Dad, you are so smart.  You got out my Pull Up and you got out my jammies and you got out my toothbrush and you got my toothpaste on it."
...she was apparently quite impressed with my husband's preparedness for her bedtime routine

"I'm going to Florida Canada!"
...she announced this as she and her brother were packing their backpacks and going on a  "trip," which in actuality, was her brother's bedroom.  I hear Florida Canada is nice this time of year.  You can go snorkeling and play hockey all in the same day.  

My almost 5-year-old son...
P: "Mom, when are we moving?" 
Me:  "Where would you like to move?"
P:  "To a condo."
...this was the beginning of a conversation he started over breakfast.  In the last few months, his aunt has moved, his grandma has moved and his great uncle has moved.  I think he thinks everyone just moves at some point.  I guess he's ready to downsize!

"It would be hard work to burp two babies."
...his response to seeing twins at the grocery store.  I love that burping them is what he thought of as being the thing that would be most difficult with two babies.  God bless all you moms of multiples out there!

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

"Parent"dox: Feeling ExcitedSadProudAnxiousEagerNostalgic

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #12: Feeling ExcitedSadProudAnxiousEager

I realized something this week.  My family is now entering into that "next phase" of life, where our kids are getting more involved in things, from sports to school to church to friends.  They are becoming "big kids" who do "big kid" things.

Beyond a couple nights of soccer and tball, a couple of "big kid" milestone events also worked their way into our week.  We had our son's kindergarten orientation meeting at school (yes, ladies and gentlemen, I said kindergarten!).  A few days later, we had his kindergarten move up meeting at church for moving from the preschool classroom to the school age program next fall.  And we capped off this "big kid" week with my daughter's 3rd birthday party today.  

That's some serious growing up action crammed into 6 days!

So, how am I feeling after this milestone-filled week?  I have one word.  


(Is that a word?  If not, I am officially submitting it to the people who determine such things to make it a word.  Because it should be.)

I stumbled into this "parent"dox after I tucked my son into bed the night of his kindergarten orientation meeting.  Going into that night, I thought I would simply be sad that my oldest was growing up so fast.  Clear cut.  Simple.  One emotion.  I knew what to expect.  

Parenting is a lot of things, but clear cut and simple it is not.  (Apparently I'm a slow learner on this one...)

So no, that night was no different than any other night of parenting thus far.  It was not clear cut.  It was not simple.  I didn't know what to expect.  

I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel a at least a little bit of sadness, but there was also so much more than that.  So much more that I hadn't anticipated.  

I was excited for all of the opportunities that kindergarten held for my son:  the things he will learn, the friends he will make, the more he will grow into his own incredible self.

I was incredibly proud of the little boy my son is becoming.  How he is learning and growing.  How he sat and listened, how he interacted with his soon-to-be classmates and teacher, how he seemed to soak up everything that night like a little sponge.

I was anxious about him going into this great big world all on his own.  Riding the bus, eating lunch at school, being at school all day.  The 'what if's' have already started piling up in my little prone-to-worrying brain.

I was eager for him to begin this journey.  I saw a sparkle in his eye as he toured his classroom and met his teacher.  There was pure joy on his face as he met the class pet fish, checked out the cozy reading corner, found out their were Legos in his classroom, took a ride on the school bus, ate ice cream in the cafeteria, and finally got to see the music room where he found out, yes indeed, there will be a show next year.  He was eager to do all these things, and that, in turn, filled me with an eagerness I hadn't anticipated. 

I was nostalgic as I kept thinking about how incredibly fast these last nearly 5 years of his life had flown by.  I thought about how it seemed like just yesterday he was a newborn, who needed me for everything, and now he was a "big kid" who could do so much on his own.  I thought about how his cousin had entered kindergarten when he was only 2 months old.  She'll be heading off to 4th grade this fall.  How fast would the next 5 years go for my son?  And the next 5 after that?  

The thing that was amazing to me is I was truly feeling all of these things at the same time.  An then at the church kindergarten meeting, I felt them all over again.  And the same thing at my daughter's birthday party.  Feeling so many big emotions, that were so very different from one another, all at the same time.

Stretching your Capacity to Feel
I remember when I was pregnant with my first baby, my dad told me "When you are a parent, you realize the capacity for human emotion.  When I became a dad, my capacity to 'feel' was stretched farther than I ever imagined it could be, in all directions possible."  

At the time, I remember thinking "Huh.  That's a lovely little sentiment.  He should sell that to Hallmark or something."  

Now that my own two kiddos are here, I am starting to understand and appreciate what he was saying.  With a 5 and 3 year old, I'm guessing it's still just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm guessing I've still got a long was to go, and a lot more "understanding" and "appreciating" that will come during the teenage years...with the rest to follow.  But I am starting to get...I mean really get...what he meant by that.  The capacity to feel, in all directions, is truly stretched and pushed to the limit when you become a parent.  I had no idea how deeply I could love and care for someone, how deeply I could feel pain and sorrow, how happy, frustrated, proud, worried, amazed I could feel.  It was different than all those amazing feelings I've had for my family, for my , for my incredible spouse.  This was my child.

These emotions somehow just felt "different."

At the same time, it has also made those feelings I have for my family, my friends, for my incredible spouse that much deeper and bigger and wider.  My dad nailed it:  My capacity to 'feel' was stretched farther than I ever imagined it could be, in all directions possible.  And somehow, in one of life's great "parent"doxes, feel all those things at the same time.

How is it that your own parents become geniuses the second you become a parent yourself?  

I think next week's "parent"dox may already be writing itself...

When you feel a million different emotions all at the same time, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Looking for a Good Read? Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle

I have a confession to make.

I read a book the other night.  As in, an entire book.  As in, cover to cover.  In one sitting.  

It started out innocently enough.  The kids were in bed (finally).  I joyfully -- oh so joyfully! -- pulled out the book that I had been waiting to begin all day.  My husband was out of town.  The house was quiet.  I don't know what happened.  One thing led to another, and there it was 3:30am and I had just read the entire book.

I have never read a book cover to cover in my life.  Ever.  And I love to read, and have devoured many, many books in my lifetime.  There were probably a few times I should have done this. (Like in college...when I should have read a book cover to cover before the test in American Lit, but I opted for the much less wise option of reading about 20 pages and calling it good.  The test?  Not so good.  But I digress...)

This book turned out to be everything I had hoped for and more.  

Yes, it is a story about motherhood.  And yes it is funny (like get out the Depends funny...) and heartfelt (like get out the Kleenex heartfelt...) and everything in between.  I was anticipating that from reading her blog ( and from the reviews of the book.  

What I was not anticipating, however, was the beautiful story it was of her daughter, Caroline.  It is truly her story.  What an incredible, immeasurable gift from Mother to Daughter.  It is the story of a journey through Motherhood, yes, but it is also the precious moments and memories of a daughter through her eight years of life to this point.  

The details are vivid, honest and genuine.  It's as if she has defied the rush of time that is childhood -- just for a moment -- and added her own wit and wisdom, and captured it all between the covers of this book.  Her daughter will have those special little moments, written down for her by her Mom, always and forever.  She is a lucky girl indeed.

Because of her warm and funny writing style, I felt like I was talking with a friend while reading her book.  There were so many sections that resonated with me as a Mom, a friend, a woman.  

I know it's a busy time of year.  I know you have soccer practice and spring recitals and piles of grass-stained laundry and graduation open houses and softball games and a million other things on your to do list.  If you do have a few minutes to squeeze in some time for yourself to catch your breath and read, read this book.  If that time won't come until you can steal a day or two at the beach or the pool this summer, then read this book this summer.  

No matter when you get the chance, read this book.  You will, no doubt, be blessed by it.

When you can connect with another Mom who makes you laugh, cry and then laugh some more through the written word alone, You Are a Good Mom.

{Thank you, Kelli, for suggesting this book and this blog.  I have loved them both!}

{These are all my own opinions and my own infatuation with this book.  I didn't get anything for writing this...not even a pair of Green Earrings. I just wrote this because I loved this book, and think you might like it, too! }

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

WTSW(t): My Little Human Treasure Map

What They Said WednesTuesday:  Volume 4
I'm sure this is incredibly crucial information to all of you, but this whole "crazy things my kids say" thing is moving from it's regularly scheduled Wednesday slot to Tuesday.  Upon first glance, Wednesday seemed like a great middle of the week time to post, and I had that lovely little "What They Said Wednesday" alliteration thing going.  But, alas, I've found Wednesday is  turning into a big weekday hog, inadvertently sucking up Tuesday and Thursday in it's wake, and then I feel like I'm posting to many things all squished together on back to back days.  I'm sure you were all very concerned about this and will now sleep much easier at night.

Did I mention I have a tendency to over-explain myself?  Like all the time? 

Also, I don't have a catchy little slogan for Tuesday like I did for Wednesday, so I'm totally open to suggestions.  

Whew.  Glad to get all that off my chest.  And now, without further ado... (That may be the first and last time I ever type the word "ado.")

My now 3-year-old daughter...
"...and that Jesus makes good choices..." of the things she was thankful for during her bedtime prayers.  Now you get to guess how many times we've had the "good choices talk" around our house lately.

M:  "I'm hungry."
Grandma: "But you are eating a snack right now."
M:  "I'm the kind of hungry when you need a drink."
...a fantastically 3-year-old way of describing the word 'thirsty' without actually using the word 'thirsty'

Costco employee:  "I like your John Deere sweatshirt!  Nothing runs like a Deere."
M:  "I run like a deer! Gallop gallop gallop!"  (complete with hand motions) deer gallop?  I don't think this is the image the John Deere marketing department had in mind when they came up with this slogan

My almost 5-year-old son...
"Look, Mom!  I'm a pirate!  'X' marks the spot.  It's a treasure map!" he came out of his room during 'quiet time.'  He had been writing and drawing with a pen in a notebook...which must have gotten boring, as he then moved on the more interesting medium of his arm.  Both of his arms were completely covered with ink 'X's.

"Are you just making noise?"  (about 5 minutes later)  "Ok, that's enough crying for now." his sister as she was just kind of whiney/crying/fussing over pretty much nothing 

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Thank You Letter to Moms Everywhere

A Little Backstory
For the past few weeks, I've been really looking forward to writing a Mother's Day post.  A day all about Moms on a blog all about Moms?  It's a perfect fit!  At least it was a perfect fit, that is, until I actually tried to start writing.  And then tried again.  And again.  And again.  This day means so many different things to so many different people and elicits so many different emotions.  I had no idea where to even begin.

Every time I tried to pull it all together, something didn't feel right.  The words just wouldn't come as a I stared at a blank screen.  Or I wrote too much without saying anything at all.  So there I sat, at 8:51pm the night before Mother's Day, trying to say something...anything...that would mean anyone out there reading it.

Just about the time I was getting ready to fold up my lap top and give this whole "Mother's Day post" thing a try next year, a notification came through on Facebook.  I happily clicked on over to Facebook because obviously no writing was actually taking place on my end, and this seemed like as good a reason as any to continue procrastinating.  Out of the blue, I had received a message from a friend who had gone back tonight and re-read the very first post I wrote when I started this whole blogging adventure a few months back.  She shared how it had touched her, how it had encouraged her and actually thanked me for writing it.  

Thanked me.  

There it was.  The words that had been eluding me.  The words I needed to hear.  The words that spoke to my heart. 

I was shocked as I read her message.  I didn't feel like I had done anything that warranted a thank you.  A few months ago, I had simply put together a string of words, a few sentences, a couple of paragraphs, and sent them out into cyberspace, wondering if anyone would ever read them.  But she did.  And she thanked me for it.  And that, along with the rest of her sweet message, made me cry.  Right there at my computer, just as I was getting ready to call it quits.  

In that moment, I realized how powerful those two little words were, and how much we all need to hear them.  Even when we don't think we've done anything "special" to deserve them.  And especially when we are just about ready to call it quits.

Sometimes, God doesn't work in mysterious ways.  Sometimes, He just flat out works.  At a time when I was struggling to find words myself, He was speaking them to me through her.  It was the encouragement I needed, exactly in that moment, to put a post together for today.

So here is my Mother's Day post.  It isn't perfect.  But neither am I.  It isn't exactly how I imagined it to be.  But neither is Motherhood.  It is simply from my heart.  

I hope in some way, some part of it speaks to your heart on this Mother's Day.


A Thank You Letter to Moms Everywhere

Thank you.

You.  Yes, you.  All of you.    

Thank you.

Each and every one of you.  Especially you; you who are feeling like you're hanging on by a thread today.  And you; you who are joyfully soaking up every moment of your very first Mother's Day today.  And you; you who are filled with grief and sadness today as you mourn a loss.  And you; you who are overcome with gratitude and happiness and love today.  And you; you who seems to roller coaster between all those feelings day in and day out.  You.  I'm talking to you.  

Thank you.

Let me say that again in case it didn't quite sink in.

Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.

You don't hear it nearly enough, but thank you.  

Being a mom usually means long hours and lots of work, and often there aren't too many "thank you's" floating around.  Sometimes it's because your child isn't able to speak those words.  Sometimes it's because life just becomes so very busy that there aren't the moments for those words to be sincerely spoken.  Sometimes it's because you are always there, doing what you do, and those words get forgotten.

Thank you.

Thank you for the little things.  Thank you for the big things.
Thank you for changing diapers, changing sheets, changing clothes in closets as the seasons change and kids grow.  Thank you for finding lost mittens, lost socks, lost library books, lost dreams and helping your child to believe in them again.  Thank you for wiping noses, wiping down counters, wiping away tears.  Thank you for applying band aids, applying kisses, applying yourself.  Thank you for tying shoes, tying ribbons on pigtails, typing up loose ends.  Thank you for washing uniforms, washing dishes, washing away past mistakes and letting your kids know it's OK to be human.

Thank you for always knowing the answer to the question "Where is my (fill in the blank)?" when it is asked by any family member at any time.

Thank you for sitting at endless baseball games, dance recitals, volleyball tournaments, band concerts, basketball scrimmages, and school plays.  Thank you for helping to sell wrapping paper, cookie dough, coupon books and sub sandwiches so your child could participate in all those activities.  

Thank you for telling your children no, even when it's hard; especially when it's hard.  Thank you for providing them with boundaries and keeping them safe and helping them to understand that life is about so much more than just getting "your way."

Thank you for doing laundry.  And more laundry.  And more laundry.

Thank you for loving your child in a way only you can.  Thank you for giving them a sense of worth just by being there for them, unconditionally, over and over and over again.  Thank you for never giving up on them, even when it gets hard and you are exhausted.  Thank you for having that special place in your heart that has been, and will forever be, saved for your child.  No matter what.  

Thank you for hearing what your children are really saying, even when that message is hidden behind different words; even when they aren't talking at all.  Thank you for giving them space to grow and be who they need to be.  Thank you for hugging them and holding them tight when they need that, too.  

Thank you for the way you embody patience, grace, love, humility, kindness and selflessness.  You are teaching these qualities to your children everyday without speaking a single word,  simply through your actions, and most likely don't even realize you are doing it.  Thank you for bringing to life these intangibles for your child to experience firsthand.   

Thank you for the time, effort, love and care you put into your family.  Thank you for working around the clock.  Thank you for being real.  Thank you for all the things you do, day in and day out, that you don't think of as "special" or deserving a thank you.   

Thank you for being you.

Thank you for being a mom.  

Happy Mother's Day!  For today and for always, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Who Says a Washing Machine is Just for Clothes?

Things I Have Pulled Out of my Washing Machine or Dryer Since Becoming a Mom
  1. broccoli
  2. a wide variety of combinations of change  (The upside of this is unanticipated pennies for pony rides at Meijer for my kids and quarters for my husband to feed the parking meter when he goes to his grad classes.)
  3. a Lego
  4. guitar picks
  5. mailing labels that my daughter had been playing with and stuck all over her pajamas while wearing them  (Those labels are now pretty much permanently glued to those pajamas.)
  6. ear buds 
  7. a clean pull up (which now happens to be a very clean pull up...)
#7 was most definitely the worst.  And the most recent.  As in it happened two days ago.  

Please hear me loud and clear on this one:  Do NOT try this at home.  

I opened my washing machine to find lots of little gel "crystals" on everything.  EVERYTHING.  As soon as I saw it, I knew what it was and I knew it was not good.  I immediately pictured my daughter putting her own clothes in her hamper.  While it is exciting to watch my children grow up and  become more independent and self-sufficient, it is not exciting when it results in a complete and total mess.  

(All you parents out there know that for independence to be achieved, a complete and total mess is pretty much necessary.  Case in point: learning to pour juice.  I rest my case.) 

Unfortunately, this time around, being independent also involved a clean pull up being tucked inside her jeans as she tossed them in her hamper.  I mistakenly dumped the entire hamper into the washing machine without paying too much attention to the contents.  Guess who will be checking every single pair of pants that goes from her hamper into my washing machine from here on out?  Add that to my "Weird Stuff I Do Now That I'm a Mom" list.  

Just in case you ever find yourself in this same unfortunate position, here was my plan of attack that proved to be fairly successful.
  1. Throw your gelified clothes from your washer into your dryer.  
  2. Run the "clean washer" cycle in your washing machine using one of those over-sized Alka Seltzer cleaning tablet things.  
  3. Dry your gel-covered clothes.  
  4. The gel will all clump together and form a strange science experiment which could win you a science fair blue ribbon, as you've just discovered a new state of matter.  
  5. Washer is clean.  Clothes are gel-free.  All is right with the world again.  
I'm sure you can find that entire process out there on Pinterest somewhere...complete with pictures and a recipe for homemade over-sized Alka Seltzer cleaning tablet things.

Please do not ask what I've found in my dishwasher.  Yesterday I opened it up to find a Dora the Explorer Band-Aid.  Really?  A Band-Aid?  How on earth did a Band-Aid make it into my dishwasher?  I cannot make this stuff up, people.  I wish I was, but alas, this is just the craziness that is my life.  

When emptying the contents of your washer or dryer (or dishwasher around here...) is an adventure, You Are a Good Mom

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

To My Daughter on Her Birthday

To My Daughter...

Three years ago today, you made your grand entrance into this great big world.  In some ways, it feels like those three years have absolutely flown by, but in other ways, it feels like you've always been here and I simply can't remember what life was like before you were a part of our lives.

Three years ago today, I was past my due date by a day and had just gone through a week of lots of contractions.  More than once, Daddy and I thought we'd be heading to the hospital, only to find out it was a false alarm.  Knowing you and your flair for the dramatic, now I think it was you playing a little joke on us!  

Three years ago today, I had a contraction in the middle of the night.  And then another one a few hours later.  And then hopped in the shower around 5:30am and had two more and thought this might actually be something and I should probably wake your Dad up.  We called Grandma to come stay with your brother, and by 7:30am my contractions were pretty close together, pretty intense, and we were headed downtown to the hospital.

Three years ago today, the Riverbank Run was also taking place.  As in, thousands and thousands of people converging on downtown, which just so happens to be where the hospital is.  So as I gripped the arm rests and tried to breathe, your Dad navigated through closed road after closed road and herds of runners warming up for the race that was about to begin just as we neared the hospital.

Three years ago today, you arrived at 12:51pm, weighing 6 pounds, 12 ounces.  Daddy got to tell me you were a girl, and we decided on your name together.  I was completely overcome with emotion, and I remember a single, silent tear rolling down my cheek when they placed you in my arms.  I had a daughter.

Three years ago today, your big brother got to be the very first family member to meet you.  We were able to celebrate as a little family of four.  Those are some of my most precious memories.  Seeing him hold you and look at you and be amazed by you are images that are forever stored in my memory and tucked away in my heart.  I try to pull them out on the days when you guys are fighting over the same blue Lego piece, and there is a tub of 53 million of the exact same Lego pieces in the tub behind you.

Three years ago today, that very proud big brother got to walk into the waiting room full of your family, waiting to meet you, and eagerly announce "I have a little sister!"

Three years ago today, it was the day before Mother's Day.  You were absolutely without a doubt the very best Mother's Day gift I could have ever imagined.  You smelled better than any flowers, your kisses were sweeter than any candy and your eyes sparkled brighter than any jewelry I could have received.  You made me a mom for the second time, and I was completely and totally in love.  That, my dear, has never, and will never, change.

My sweet girl, I love your spunky, strong, independent spirit.  You are always finding a way to make me laugh or smile with your silly antics.  You know what you want, and you are not afraid to go for it. You are so full of life and love to try new things and new adventures.  You are the very best grocery shopper helper I could ask for.  You are loving and caring, and always seem to find creative ways to help others.  You love to sing, you love to dance, you love to be the center of attention.  You love to play outside and draw and swim and run and laugh...oh how you love to laugh.  You give the very best loves, even though you usually only give them on your terms.  You are such a quick learner, and are eager to keep up with your brother every step of the way.

May you continue to be completely and totally you. May you know how deeply and truly you are me, by your Dad, by your family, and most of all, by God.  May you dream big dreams, and have the courage to follow them.  May you know you will always, always, always have a place to call home.

I love you forever and for always!

You are my daughter.  My sweet, precious gift.  For you, everyday, I strive to live up to those words "You Are a Good Mom."  I hope every now and then, I hit the mark!  I love you to the moon and back!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

WTSW: Dandelions & Red Blueberries

What They Said Wednesday:  Volume 3
I know that title up there says What They Said Wednesday.  And today is very much Tuesday.  Sorry for any day-of-the-week confusion this may have caused you.  My daughter's birthday lands on a Wednesday, and there will be a birthday post for her tomorrow, so my kids' goofy quotes are being delivered a day early.  Happy TuesWednesday!

My almost 3-year-old daughter...
"Take that out of her mouth, Mom!  She wants milk!"
...said very seriously to me as I was holding my niece and giving her a pacifier while my sister was getting her bottle ready

"I'm not cranky!" the most whiny, cranky, crabby voice imaginable

My almost 5-year-old son...
"Look!  It's our very first dandelion!"
...said with extreme joy and delight upon spotting said dandelion in our side yard.  Dad, however, did not have the same joy and delight upon hearing this statement.

"They are like little red blueberries!"
...describing the strawberries in his Eggo waffle.  You could always just call them strawberries, but where's the fun in that?

"You wanna come to my show next year?"
...what he has been asking everyone he talks to since he had his preschool concert last week.  Mark your calendars now, folks, for some unknown show circa May 2014.

"You need to use your nice words, not your freakin' out words." his little sister as she was, well, freakin' out.

"...and that Baby Hazel will open her eyes because her eyes have been closed for 20,000 days and one year.  Mom, will she ever open her eyes again?"
...part of his prayers, after a visit from Baby Hazel when she slept the whole time she was at our house.

No matter what they say, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

"Parent"dox: So Small, Yet So Big

Sunday Night "Parent"dox #11: So Small, Yet So Big

This was how I spent my Saturday night.  I don't mean to brag, but I guarantee it beats the pants off whatever anyone else in the entire universe was doing.  I'm just saying.

I was in the basement of sister and brother-in-law's house as they were finishing up a long day of moving.  I found myself a nice quiet piece of their sectional couch that was actually right side up, and snuggled with my sweet, sleeping two-week-old niece.  For about 2 hours.

I was most definitely in my happy place.

And while in my happy place, holding my sweet little niece, I looked down to notice she was wearing an outfit that used to belong to my daughter.  I was instantly transported three years back in time.  I remembered picking that outfit out and choosing it because it was cute, but not pink and not too girly.  I remembered the first place she wore it, which was to a retirement party for a few colleagues of mine.  I remembered how very tiny my daughter seemed when I put that outfit on her little two-week-old self.

That is when this "parent"doxical question crossed my mind:  How is it possible to love something so small with a love that is so astronomically big?

My life was completely and totally changed with the arrival of each of my children.  I discovered I had a capacity to love in a way I never knew I was capable of when I met each of them.  I experienced a love so deep, so rich, that even now I have trouble putting words to it.

These little tiny people -- each of them weighing no more than 7 pounds -- had captured my heart.  Forever.  

What continues to baffle my mind is how quickly and deeply I fell in love with these tiny little people who I knew so little about. This love was different than any other love I had experienced in my life.  I had no idea what talents they would have, what fears they would have, what hopes and dreams they would have, what struggles and difficulties they would have.  I had no idea if we would have anything in common.  I had no idea what their personalities would be, what their interests would be, what foods or books or colors or ice cream flavors would be their favorites.  They had no words to communicate any of this to me, and wouldn't for a very long time.  They couldn't hug me or kiss me.  They couldn't even look me in the eye, or smile at me to show me they were connecting with me in some way in those first few days.

I didn't know if they would ever love me in the way I loved them.  

But it didn't matter.  None of that mattered.

I knew everything I needed to about them.  They were mine.  Nothing else mattered.  I loved them totally and completely and unconditionally.  Instantly.

I knew I had experienced a love that went beyond anything else.  I knew I this was a love that was bigger than me.  I knew something in my heart grew and stretched and changed in those early days with both of my babies, and it hasn't been the same since.  It loves in a way I can't make sense of, in a way I can't put words to.  It is an unconditional, unchangeable, immeasurable kind of love.

Even when I was spit up on...and peed on...and pooped on...without so much as a smile from this little tiny person I was devoting myself to caring for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Even when I hadn't slept or showered or eaten a warm meal.  I was in love.  I couldn't explain it then, and I can't explain it now.

The smallest people I have ever been blessed to know have blessed my life with the biggest love I could possibly imagine.  

When your heart is full beyond words.  When you experience love beyond words.  When you have a love bigger than words for such a tiny little miracle, You Are a Good Mom.

If you haven't already, be sure to stop by and check out the "You're a Good Mom" page on Facebook.  "Like" it and any new blog posts will be delivered right to your news feed!  Thanks!

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