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Things I Don’t Do

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A couple of friends shared these articles, and I enjoyed reading them.

Things I Don’t Do

How I Almost Became the Smug Mom

Considering my own imperfect parenting of my imperfect kids, I’ve thought about what my don’t-do list should look like,  what I want to prioritize, and what I naturally prioritize. I wondered what qualities my good days all have in common. I came up with these lists:

Things I Do

1. Enjoy my children. Toddlers are pagans in diapers. No one could enjoy every minute with them. But I’ve found that a well-placed tickle fight or a giggle over a silly joke (usually involving the words “monkey boogers”) goes a long way toward reminding me what a blessing Emmeline and Gareth are.

2. Have a conversation with Josh free of interruptions from children or electronics. A few minutes of listening and eye contact goes a long way toward filling my love tank. This sounds like something for Josh’s to-do list, but it’s as much my responsibility to put my phone away, turn the TV off, and create an environment that’s conducive to nice conversations.

3. Read my Bible. A beloved mentor and former pastor has been blogging daily through Scripture. It’s provided the accountability I need to read my Bible every day, and doing so has blessed me so much this year. I’ve read books I always got slogged down in before (shout out to Leviticus!). Pastor Carroll’s wisdom has given me insight into passages that would leave me feeling discouraged if I was left to my own devices. I’ve made it to Nehemiah, and by the grace of God, I’m still going strong. If you want to read his blog, check out thistledewfarm.us.

4. Complete these daily 7 chores. I try to get to all of these each day, and usually end up finishing about 5 of them. But it’s the simplest, least overwhelming way I’ve found to maintain a semblance of order in our house without devoting my entire day to cleaning. Emmeline is old enough now that’s she’s able to help with some of them, and that’s very encouraging. Maybe she will grow up to be an independent, responsible adult after all!

5. Spend some time outside. This is a struggle right now because allergy season is going strong, but a few minutes of sunshine each day is good for my soul.

Things I Don’t Do

1. Expect perfection. My new motto is “Low expectations.” If I don’t expect things to be perfect, then I don’t get stressed out when they’re not. I’m working on taking deep breaths and telling myself to let things go.

2. Worry about how much TV the kids are watching. I’ve found that this tends to balance itself out (i.e. they won’t spend every day watching 5+ hours of television). Also, because Josh works long hours and we don’t have a car most days, it’s hard for us to stay busy and active. When we could drive to the YMCA every morning, the kids’ TV time dropped off to 30 minutes a day. But I can’t entertain two toddlers by myself every day for 14+ hours a day (maybe some moms can, but I just end up yelling at my kids).

3. Yell at the kids. This really is more of a “Something I shouldn’t do; something I do way too much; something I ask forgiveness for daily.” I want to get better. Emmeline gets hyper-defensive every time she is yelled at. It’s more beneficial for me to keep my patience because she’s much more likely to obey. It’s also hard to teach my kids not to scream and yell if I’m screaming and yelling at them. While I want to treasure their tender little hearts, I’m thankful for God’s grace as well, so I don’t think my yelling at them will ruin them for the rest of their lives and land them in prison day.

4. Keep a spotless house. I don’t dust, I don’t clean the baseboards, and I don’t move our stove and fridge to mop behind them. I don’t expect my house to be perfectly clean, and I’m OK with that. I’m content with a basic lack of clutter, a bathroom that doesn’t look like it belongs in a bachelor pad, and a kitchen that doesn’t scream “Free Buffet” to all the local rodents.

5. Subscribe to any particular diet. I don’t mean just counting calories, I mean clean eating, paleo, low-carb, low-fat, gluten-free–any of it. Some weeks we will order takeout. Sometimes I will buy snacks that come in a cardboard box. We try to be basically healthy, but we may need to make allowances when we’re sick/stressed/tired/low on funds. I don’t want to set us up for failure by saying we will always eat a certain way. Now, that being said, we don’t eat red meat (and when we do we sincerely regret it), because it makes Josh sick. If we were living with food-allergies or something like Celiac, then it would be a different issue.

Those are my lists! What would yours look like?

Another three bite the dust

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Josh got sick a couple of weeks ago. He was pretty miserable. We all felt kind of miserable, but I thought we’d avoided the worst of it and had put viruses and fevers behind us. Then yesterday Gareth woke up with a 101 degree fever. Turns out he has ear infections in both ears. Then last night Emmeline lost her voice. Have you ever tried explaining vocal rest to a spirited 3-year-old? I don’t recommend it. This morning I woke up feeling like my head was going to implode. I guess we’re not through with nasty winter crud yet. Emmeline cried, “Mommy, I hate my snot!” Gareth just cried. Surprisingly though, in spite of everything, the kids and I actually had a pretty good day together. Maybe we were all just too miserable to get upset at each other. I did learn today that Emmeline wants a Twilight Sparkle birthday party (her birthday isn’t until May; she’s just getting a head start) with a Twilight Sparkle cake (please tell me where to get one of those) and she wants Twilight Sparkle roller skates (I don’t think those are actually a thing). She’s inviting her Daddy to her birthday party. And I think possibly her aunts and her cousin Abigail. But I wasn’t on the guest list. Maybe she figures I won’t be able to come because I’ll be too busy trying to track down Twilight Sparkle everything. 

Boys vs. Girls

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Josh has been under the weather this week. On Monday, when he felt his worst, both the kids wanted to take care of Daddy. Emmeline walked in, gave him hugs and kisses, and brought him treats. Gareth walked in, brought a book with him, and sat down at the foot of the bed.

The kids played with cloud dough today (8 parts flour 1 part oil). Emmeline pretended to bake “the best stew ever” with her tub of dough…and Gareth just tried to eat his. I can envision his kindergarten report card: paste eater. They both ended up throwing it on the floor. Gareth threw his sooner, but Emmeline threw more.

Cloud dough021

Yesterday Gareth ran around the sunroom completely naked, eventually sitting down to read his Tanks book. Emmeline asked for a ponytail then threw a hissy fit and yanked it out when it wasn’t perfect. Frizzball.

yesterday 017

Blog.

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Josh: “Katie, you know that issue of Life Matters you wrote for just came out, and you put your blog address in your bio. You should probably write something.”

Me: “Blerg.”

I completely on purpose ignored my blog during Christmas time. I have wonderful childhood memories of Christmas being a magical, fun time filled with cookies, carols, and clay-mation (Hi, Rudolph!). But I learned that when you’re a mommy trying to make Christmas magical and fun for your kiddos, December is exhausting–blessed and magical, but exhausting nonetheless. I have a new found appreciation for my mother and for the month of January. The little squirts and I made cookies, read through half of our advent devotional (Christmas 2013 might be our year!), fashioned crafts out of construction paper and glitter, and watched lots of schmaltzy, feel-good Hallmark movies. Emmie got to visit Santa. It’s hard to convince her he’s pretend when she still believes Tinkerbell is real. With great trepidation, Gareth accepted a candy cane from Santa. The jolly old elf doesn’t have to be Gareth’s thing. We didn’t even intend to do Santa with Emmeline, but I like Christmas movies too much, so there was no avoiding him.

For my New Year’s resolution I decided I was going to read food labels, because I read a study that said on average, people who read nutrition labels weigh 10 pounds less than those who don’t. Reading sounds a heck of a lot easier to me than diet and exercise.

Also Bethany Krebs became Bethany Wright, and the Krebs added another family member. But the Wrights have known the Krebs for years, so I’m pretty sure Benjamin’s initiation was easier than mine. Don’t be ridiculous. The Krebs don’t initiate new family members…at least not that we’re allowed to discuss with the public.

Random Family Updates

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Turns out this last couple of months I’ve been having a bad reaction to my allergy medicine, and the more it built up in my system, the worse the reaction became. I am now adding Zyrtec to my list of things never to put in my body again. But I’m just glad it wasn’t the diet cokes making me sick like I thought it was. I’ll have to go back and correct Emmeline, who, after overhearing a conversation between Josh and I the other day, had learned to say, “Aspartame is bad for you. Aspartame makes you sick.” And for the record, I didn’t know she was listening to that conversation; I’m not trying to raise another member of the artificial-sweetener police.

I took Emmie to a puppet show and she got to be the volunteer up on stage. She was very cute and serious. That’s my little oldest daughter the perfectionist. She didn’t smile once; she was concentrating so hard on jumping over the candlestick at the right time. She did a great job and loved it when everyone clapped for her. Emmeline the performer.  Emmeline has a huge vocabulary, and we love hearing her say things that are way beyond her years. She gives kisses and cuddles when someone doesn’t feel well and she loves reading Charlotte’s Web with me, which makes me happy because it’s my favorite book. She even named her stuffed pig “Gilver” because that’s what she thinks Wilbur’s name is in the book. She takes her “Gilver” everywhere and makes sure he eats his breakfast all gone and takes his naps. She also saves him from the Gareth-giant who terrorizes the house from time to time.

Gareth gives lots of hugs these days–mostly to his mommy and to pretty little girls because he’s a flirt. But when it comes to vocabulary Josh wins the prize. Gareth loves to say “Daddy!” whereas I rarely even get a “MA!” anymore. Gareth imitates Josh all the time and toddles around everywhere, but he looks less like a little drunken sailor with each day. He loves riding toys more than Emmeline ever did. We finally lowered the seat on her balance bike so Gareth could use it because Emmie has zero interest in it. Emmeline is a perfectionist like me and doesn’t want to do anything she can’t excel at, whereas Gareth will happily fall on his bum over and over if it means he gets to play with his own set of wheels.

Tweedle has a fenced backyard now and she’s a much happier dog now that she can run around and explore. Except she still spends most of her time napping by the back door. People ask us, “So is she an outside dog now?” She’s a puppy with a lot of energy and we all–Tweedle included–get very frustrated when she is in the house because she has to be sweet and quiet and not jump on people. Plus having her outside gives the kiddos and me an excuse to go outside and play. I let her in for a few minutes each night to eat Gareth’s leftovers off the floor, and overall everyone is happy with the arrangement–especially Tweedle, who is getting fat off of spaghetti noodles and cheerios.

And Josh? He works full time, has a family, and is in his last year of grad school. So basically he never sleeps. But he graduates in the spring so we’re very optimistic that he will get to take a nap sometime next April or May.