When your daily activities are in concert with your highest priorities, you have a credible claim to inner peace. – Hyrum Smith


Out to Lunch

Going "out to eat" has taken on a new meaning since having children. Gone are the days of leisurely dining.
When you are a new parent with your first infant, you don't even realize how good you've got it. You're too preoccupied with concerns that the baby will scream in the restaurant, interrupting others' peaceful meals. Or perhaps, he'll puke all over his outfit, and you'll have to rush to the bathroom to change him. Worse yet, he could have an explosive movement, saturating his outfit and car seat. If you happen to make it through a meal while he is sleeping, you are giddy with excitement.

When you have a second child, you begin to make restaurant choices based on the atmosphere and clientele. Louder is better, as it will likely drown out your eldest child's whines and infant's cries. "Family friendly" is music to your ears. Suckers at the hostess station are a good sign, and changing tables in the bathroom are a must.

As your children age, you actually try to pick places they will enjoy. We love you, Red Robin. Such places serve chicken fingers, and have kids cups with lids and straws. You don't feel guilty when it looks as if a bomb went off at your table, and don't even think about looking underneath. The servers frequently sing "happy birthday." This is your kind of place.

Tonight we went to the new El Nopal on Zorn Avenue. It was huge. The host seated us in a nearly vacant room. By the time we finished dinner, the room had cleared and the kids were able to run in circles around the tables. I smiled to myself. There was a time when I would have been almost offended to sit in an empty room, when the company of others and ambiance were to be desired. There was a time when I wished to see and be seen. Today, donning my mommy tee shirt and shorts, I was content to sit in an empty room and simply enjoy the company of my family.


Fun dad, funny kid

I receive email updates from a website called BabyCenter (a site that records your child's age then tracks his/her development). I chuckled at the most recent update: "How to Raise a Fun and Funny Child."

We don't need any help in that department. Parker is pretty darn hilarious in his own right. Though his comedic appeal was previously unintentional [read: we were laughing at him], these days, he is actually telling jokes [we are laughing with him]. I think he gets his great sense of humor from his daddy.

Daddy is just plain fun. He laughs easily, teases often, always has a joke, and plays chase on demand. Daddy also loves to lavish gifts (often in the form of sweets) on the kids. They adore him.

He's been out of town for a few days, so I've been trying to fill in and be amusing, fun-loving, and carefree with the kids. Sometimes, however, my practical side rears it's ugly head and is met with fierce resisitance from the kids. Tonight, for example, as we were heading home from Grammy and PawPaw's house:

Parker: Mommy, can we stop at a gas station and get me a treat?
Me: Well, no - we don't need any gas right now.
Parker: No! Not to get gas...just to get me a treat! [something daddy has done and would do again]
Me: Honey, it's very late, we just ate dinner, and we need to get home to go to bed.
Parker: But I'm still hungry for a treat!
Me: How about this...Tomorrow we have to go the grocery store to get food for Pappy's dinner [attack of the Pracital Mom]. How about we get you a special treat while we're there?
Parker: No! No [none] of your ideas are any good! Just daddy's!

*Sigh* I suppose it depends on your definition of good. Seemed like a perfectly good idea to me.
Daddy, come home!



When I was a counselor at a juvenile detention center in Florida, I encountered many kiddos with ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). I have forgotten the exact criteria for the disorder, but I seem to recall there can be an "early onset." I am beginning to wonder just how early one can be diagnosed...

We were driving in the van. Parker was being - you guessed it - oppositional. My husband, Aaron, who is typically a very patient man, erupted. "Enough, Parker! I'm not going to argue with you about it anymore!"

(thoughtful pause)

"Mommy, will you argue with me?"



We all have random thoughts. Parker's are just instantaneously on his lips. Most people have a filter in their brains, allowing them to decide if their thoughts are relative/appropriate before sharing them. Parker's inability to perform this function makes for some pretty amusing exchanges.

He recently asked his cousin, "How much does your dog weigh?" She answered, "About 100 pounds." Parker's response? "I don't like spider webs."

There is a part of me that will be saddened when he begins to filter his thoughts, as we all eventually do. Right now there is something refreshing about his unintentional honesty. His complete transparency is endearing and adorable...most of the time.

I can think of only a handful of instances during which I was truly embarrassed by the random thoughts and observations spilling out of his little mouth. The day we visited a restaurant where the hostess happened to be a little person, for example.

As Parker stared at her thoughtfully, I silently prayed he would keep quiet for once in his life. He seemed to understand she was not a child, but he couldn't quite understand why an adult would be so small. When she seated us, he stood on his highchair, pointed down at her, and shouted to me: "Mommy! She's little!" I just wanted to sink into the floor. "Sit down," I hissed. "But she's so little!" he continued to shout, confused at her size and my response.

We had a long talk about how God makes everyone differently. Explaining that it could hurt people's feelings if you point out those differences, I asked him to whisper his future questions or observations about people he perceived as "different" to me.

Did I mention that in addition to lacking the ability to filter his thoughts, Parker also lacks the ability to whisper? Every heard of a "stage whisper"? It's where characters on stage make their voices raspy, but by no means quiet (so the audience can still hear them).

A few weeks after the restaurant fiasco, the kids and I were walking down the street. As we passed a disabled person on crutches, Parker shouted in a raspy voice, "Mom! He's different!"




I have learned one of the secrets of being a contented SAHM (stay-at-home-mom)...

It's all about lowering your standards. Really. There was a time when I took pride in my spotless floors, shiny mirrors, and neatly folded clothes. When Parker was an infant I was lulled into a false sense of security, assuming I could maintain the same level of order in our home. Ha!

Then he stopped napping for half the day. Okay, I could let a few things slip. Maybe I would just clean the mirrors once a week. Then he started moving...Hmmm, letting dishes pile up in the sink for one day [okay,three] wasn't that bad. Then Maddie came along and all hell broke loose in our home (and van).

These days, I consider my floor to be "clean" if I can remember the last time I mopped it and my feet aren't sticking to it anywhere.

Bathtubs must be free of hair and dirt. Bath crayon markings [thank you, Aunt Natalie] are acceptable.

Wrinkled laundry is a given. If it's been washed and dried I give myself at least 3 days to get it folded and another 3 to actually put it away. [I would not recommend this schedule, as searching for clean clothes inevitably means digging through the basket of folded clothes and recreating a mess. However, until my fairy godmother arrives, it will have to suffice.]

Maddie's hair has to be clean (free of dirt, oil, cotton candy, etc.) and brushed. Even if she looks like a crazed Banshee, it's okay; she doesn't have to wear the bow if she doesn't want to.

A well-time, unexpected take-and-bake Papa Murphy's pizza can bring me to tears [of gratitude]. B.P. (before Parker) it would have taken a candle-lit, home-cooked gourmet meal, complete with flowers to create such an emotional response.

It's not just about lowering my standards. I think it's about letting go of unrealistic expectations. Or maybe unnecessary ones. Whatever the reason, all I know is that I'm pretty darn happy...in my messy house, wearing my wrinkled clothes, with my crazy kids.



Before nap time, I like to read Parker a story from his children's Bible. He enjoys flipping through the colorful pages, finding an interesting picture, and having that story read to him. Recently, he found the story of the crucifixion. Oh boy.

He lost interest part way through the story and interrupted me:

"Mommy, why did they put nails in his hands?"

I tried to explain the idea that sins required sacrifice, and Jesus offered to be the sacrifice for all of us. In hindsight, perhaps that was a little too high-brow.

"But mommy, why did those guys put nails in his hands?"

"To hang him up and kill him." [How's that for concrete? Lovely bedtime story, huh?]

Parker: But he didn't do anything wrong.

Me: I know.

Parker: [pointing to the picture of the Roman soldiers] Those are bad guys! [thoughtful pause] Well, I'm just going to put nails through their hands!

Me: Jesus wouldn't want that. [Quickly told him the turn-the-other-cheek story.] Jesus even asked his dad, God, to forgive them.

Parker: [shrugging carelessly] I'm still gonna put nails in their hands.

Me: [a little alarmed his last statement reflected all the compassion of a trained assassin] But that's not what Jesus would do!

Parker: Well that's what I would do.

And with a satisfied nod, he closed the Bible. End of story.

Note to self: Might be nice if next Bible story focuses on grace/forgiveness...Just a thought.


A Season of Grace

Today at lunch, my friend, Rosemary asked, "So how do you like being a mom?"

I paused. My other friend, Sharan, chimed in, "Some days better than others, right?"

So true. I love being a mom and staying home with the kids - most of the time. I'm just not always very good at it.

"This is just not my 'season of grace,'" I finally said. I stole that phrase from my friend, Serina. She was consoling me when I called to tell her about my abnormally calm sister-in-law who just had a baby. I had visited Natalie and the baby for a few days and left there utterly confounded. Where were her tears (my sister's, not the baby's)? Where were the hormonal rages, the sleep-deprived zombie-like stares, and emotional breakdowns? I certainly wasn't wishing them on her, I just assumed they were all part of the birthing process. I left wondering what the heck was wrong with me? Why did I run around like a chicken with its head cut off and cry at the drop of a hat when I had babies?

Like me, Serina has had her ups and downs making the transition into parenthood. "This is just not our season of grace," she explained. She offered hope that one day we, too, would be in our element with our kids, knowing just what to say and do at just the right times. Maybe when they were in middle school, she pondered aloud. (Or maybe in about 30 years, I thought to myself.)

Okay, so it's not my season. But isn't there some middle ground? If I'm not graceful, does that mean I have to be graceless? Constantly floundering for all the world to see?

We recently visited Mammoth Cave (the longest cave system in the world located right here in the great state of KY). About 5 minutes into the 1 hour 15 minute tour, Parker said, "Mommy, let's get out of here! I want to go [the 1 hour 30 minute hellish van ride] home!" Meanwhile, Maddie's arms encircled my neck in a tenacious death grip as I bent low to avoid the ceiling and slipped down the wet passages. She utilized a very clever system to ensure I would carry her the entire tour. Every time her feet touched the ground she emitted deafening shrieks which echoed off the cavern walls, endearing us to our fellow spelunkers and drowning out the tour guide.

A kind, old man approached us and addressed Parker. "Do you want to come with Grandpa Greg? This here is my grandson, Connor." Parker happily held their hands and prattled on and on about his friend named Connor in Seattle. I sighed. Simultaneously relieved and embarrassed, I realized the reason random strangers so often offer to help me with the kids...I just have an air of desperation about me.

But you know, that's okay. This season of gracelessness is enabling me to recognize a greater power in my life. My desperation is not synonymous with hopelessness. It is simply me (and everyone around me) recognizing I am at the end of my rope. Then my God, whom I can't see, sends someone I can see to help me along this journey. Thank you, Father.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 "But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."


Boys are Magic

Tonight as I was tucking him into bed, Parker reached up and touched my head to stroke my hair - such a sweet gesture. However, he quickly withdrew his hand, his brow furrowed.

"Mommy, you have to wash your hair because it has poo [pool] chemicals in it."

We had been swimming less than an hour before bed, and my hair was still wet.

He thoughtfully touched his own head.
"But I don't have to because my hair is already dry. It's magic. Girls don't have magic hair. Just boys. Sometimes my hair changes in different ways."

Though I can't say I am thrilled about Parker's hair changing "in different ways" [read: Daddy gave Parker a buzz cut when Mommy was out of town], I will agree with him on one point: He is magic.


Big Boy Alcohol

My husband and I don't drink much alcohol. We'll have an occasional glass of wine or mixed drink, but that's about it.

Parker, ever curious, has shown some interest in this magical drink of which he cannot partake (see previous post: Underage Drinking).

With many things, he likes to push the envelope once we've told him "no" (using the permanent marker on the table, spitting on the floor, taking his pants off in public). However, he has been compliant with the ban on alcohol. At least, I thought he had...

We were in the van one afternoon. Maddie finished her juice. Noticing her brother was still happily sipping away, she began to whine and stretched her chubby arms toward his seat.

Parker turned toward her and stated matter-of-factly, "Sorry Maddie. You can't have any of my drink. It has big boy alcohol in it."

Oh well...It's 5 o'clock somewhere.