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



In August I visited my dear friend, Gretchen, in Florida.  Without the kids (or husband).  Wowzuhs!  You want to talk about relaxing??
We ate fabulous seafood, we read books, we laid out at the beach, we had drinks, we watched TV, we went to the bathroom [wait for it...] alone!  It was a little bit of heaven on earth.

And now I am paying for it. 

Well, not really paying for it, just serving my time the way Aaron did when I was gone.  He and his mom are currently taking a 5-day trip to San Francisco.  They do this every once in a blue moon.  I think it's sweet that they get along so well and have that special time alone.  I thought it was sweeter before we had kids, but I digress...

So, tonight I am fantasizing.  About chocolate.  Oh how I want some of that sweet, brown goodness right now!  You'd think that the Twix bars I devoured while the kids were drying off from their baths would suffice.  You'd be wrong.

The sad thing is that they weren't even my Twix bars.  They were Maddie's!  Oh the shame!  Even as I type this, I am secretly hoping Aaron won't read this particular post.  He brought them home for her the other night. 

[Cue the excuses.]  Okay, that kid eats wayyy too much sugar as it is.  She has a stash up in her room that she doesn't even touch!  (I'm starting to wonder if she's really my biological child.)  She is more excited about the receiving-a-gift aspect of her candy than the actual candy itself.  She didn't even know it was still up on the counter.  (Nevermind the fact she's too short to see on top of the counter.)  If it really mattered to her, she would have asked for it by now.  Right?  Right???

I am quite the opposite of Maddie.  When I'm feigning [see Urban Dictionary definition] for some sugar, I do not care whether or not it is a gift.  In fact, it's origin does not concern me at all.  For example, that half-eaten, 4-day old chocolate Easter bunny?  Fair game.  "Your bunny?  Oh honey, Mommy had to get rid of it.  You know we start to get ants this time of year!"  Notice I didn't say how Mommy disposed of said bunny. 

I realize I sound downright evil at this point, but I don't think you realize the extent of my sugar addiction.  Even Dr. Oz says sugar is highly addictive.  Look it up!

It doesn't help that Aaron and I recently went on this health kick and got rid of everything, and I mean everything, good in the house.  The only sugar available is in the bag (for baking) or honey (which doesn't even really count as far as I'm concerned).

So here I am, 2 Twix bars with a heavy side of guilt later.  All of my justifications aren't really helping.  And I'm still craving chocolate. 

This is my fantasy (and final confession for the night):

I set the baby monitor up in the middle of the house (to capture any sound).  I crank the receiver way up.  I dial the home phone with my cell phone and set the home phone next to the receiver (so I can hear any noise they make in my cell phone).  Then I hop in the van, speed 1.4 miles to the neighborhood Walmart, buy loads of candy bars and speed back home before anyone even notices I'm gone. 

Seriously, does that not sound brilliant??  *Sigh* If only it were legal.

Upon reading this, some concerned friends thought I actually abandoned the children in search of chocolate.  I assure you, it was merely a fantasy.  I have not left them...yet.


Not Safe

I am plagued with questions.  All. Day. Long. 
No, I am not sitting around philosophically pondering the universe.  I am not the one posing the questions at all. 

Instead, I am surrounded by a constant stream of inquiries flowing from tiny mouths.  And all the questions seem to start with the same word: mom.

"Mom, can I climb up this [door frame]?"
"Mom, can we light some fireworks, and I can I hold 10 sparklers at one time?"
"Mom, how high can I climb up that tree?"
"Mom, can we throw rocks at the house?"
More often than not, they are seeking to obtain permission for dangerous activities. 

Sometimes I cringe at the mere mention of my name [mom].  I know that 9 times out of 10 I will have to decline the request.  I don't want to say "no" all the time, so often I try to reframe the request into an acceptable activity.  "Well, you may throw rocks at the tree."

Unfortunately, Parker is catching on to this tactic pretty quickly.  Once he realizes I am essentially saying "no" to his initial request, it's game. on

Questioning: "Why can't I?"  All of my reasons are ignored.
Bargaining: "But I'll be careful."  Logical counter-arguments, dismissed. 
Foul play: "Dad would let me do it."  Ooh, now he's really pushing it.

I resort to the age old: "Because I'm your mother and I said so!"


Recently I decided to change my tactics and institute some experiential learningRead on...

The other day Parker asked if we could build a fort.  Sure.  I helped him secure the big green blanket to the couch, the chair, the coat rack, etc.  Then I pulled out the camera because forts = fun in our house.  Even Jack gets in the mix. 

"Can I stand on the top of the couch and jump onto the top of the fort?" Parker asked.  Sorely tempted to recite a litany of reasons why that would be a bad idea, I stifled a sigh, bit my tongue, and nodded slowly.  "Let's see what happens." 

Parker's eyes were as wide a saucers.  He looked at me uncertainly.  Did mom just say "yes"?  The first time? 

"Why don't we put some pillows underneath first," I asked causally.  As I arranged the pillows and moved Jack a safe distance away, Parker eyed the fort suspiciously.  "Is this gonna be safe?" 

I looked him in the eye.  "What do you think?" I asked.  He's a bright kid, surely he can reason through this one.  We have hardwood floors for Pete's sake!

"Yeah!" Then again, maybe not. 

As he climbed to the top of the couch I tried to assure myself this was not reckless parenting.  It was experiential learning, right?  I held my breath...


BAM!  Parker scrambled up from the now-collapsed fort.  He looked absolutely shocked as he rubbed his sore backside.  "Well that wasn't safe at all!" His surprised tone held just a hint of accusation.

A little demon popped up on one of my shoulders.  "Really!?" it asked in mock surprise.  Meanwhile, the angel on the other side was sadly shaking his head, "For shame, Jessie!"

Eyes wide, using my best "golly-gee" tone, I said, "Well I guess we learned a lot today, huh, Bud?" 

Parker nodded emphatically.  "Yeah!  Jumping off the top of couch onto the top of the fort not a good idea!"

I nodded in agreement and quickly turned away to hide my smile.  I didn't have to say "no," and he learned a valuable lesson in a [relatively] painless way.  SCORE!

"Mom," Parker's voice interrupted my moment of victory, "Can we add some more pillows underneath and jump from the seat of the couch?"




Having a baby is so much easier when you have older children helping out.  I really mean that.  However, there are two key words in my first statement that should not be overlooked: older and children (plural).

Older, because, well, very young children are not particularly helpful when a newborn arrives on the scene.  They may have a fit of jealous rage and pinch the baby while it nurses.  They may initially comply with your request to fetch a diaper only to lose focus halfway across the room when the toy shelf beckons.  They still need a "wipe," a drink, toy, a [you-name-it].  They have no concept of quiet, especially when baby is napping.

However, if you wait a few short years, that dependent child can become a huge helper.  Add another child to the mix for some friendly competition, and voila!  Parenting is a breeze.

Okay, maybe not a breeze, but there are aspects that become immeasurably easier.  For example: I can cook a meal now.  It may not be gourmet, but I can literally follow a recipe, prep the ingredients, and cook a real meal.  In years past, if I tried to make dinner and a baby woke early from nap, I would rush upstairs (unable to bear the thought of my child alone, awake, bored or scared in a dark room) and rescue said child.  Then I would try, unsuccessfully, to finish cooking with a baby on my hip.  (Chef's knives, hot stoves, and babies do not mix.)

These days, I will be cooking dinner with Parker and Maddie playing nearby.  When Jack wakes from his nap and starts to cry, I simply ask, "Who would like to check on Jack and keep him company until I can come up?"

"I WILL!" they both cry and bolt up the stairs. 

CONFESSION: One of my guilty pleasures is to tune into the monitor and eavesdrop on the three of them.  I love hearing the door creak open.  "Hi Jackie!"  Giggles, scuffing and scraping (as they climb onto the side of the crib), tinkling toys.  "Mommy will be right here."  "Wanna play?"

One afternoon I allowed myself some extra time in the kitchen.  I hadn't heard any crying and assumed all was well.  I'll never forget walking into Jack's room and wondering where all the toys had gone.  Then I looked over at his crib...

I ran over with my heart in my throat.  He was still so little.  He couldn't even sit up yet.  What if he had suffocated??  What had I done?! 

Then there he was, hidden among pile of toys, happily playing with a plush block.  Whew!  What was that thing I said about parenting being a breeze?  Yeah, scratch that.

Even with our minor scares (like finding Jack at the top of the outdoor playhouse because he'd followed Parker up the ladder), it really is great having lots of kids.  Parker and Maddie are big helpers, and I am one blessed mama!