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“Mommy, you’re my best friend! And you’re a good cooker too.” – Emmie 

Emmeline and I made popsicles together this morning. In the process, we spent a lot of quality time together. It was very exciting from a 4-year-old perspective. Who wouldn’t want to make fresh fruit popsicles with their favorite celebrity? I think in preschool girl terms, making popsicles with Mommy is the equivalent of having Bradley Cooper grilling burgers for you. 

Now here’s hoping her love tank is so full that she will rest peacefully for the next couple of hours, so I can eat my lunch in a quiet house. 


Is this blog repetitive?

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I’ve often wondered that. They say to write about what you know, and what I know is staying at home with my two little kiddos. Josh claims that because I’m a good writer, I find creative ways to discuss our daily life. And I love writing about what happens day in and day out, but when you have toddlers, it’s all pretty much the same thing over and over and over. That’s the way the squirts like it.

Our days usually go like this:

1. Emmeline wakes up first. Emmeline throws toys and kicks the walls of her room to get attention.

2. I wake up in a rotten mood. Looking like the hunchback of middle Tennessee, I shuffle over to Emmie’s room and remind her for the millionth time that she has to play quietly in her room until I come and get her. I then shuffle back into my room and wonder why Emmeline insists on waking up so early and noisily when all Gareth and I want to do is sleep til 8 o’clock without being rudely awakened.

3. 8 o’clock. We all wake up. As a “treat” for obeying and playing quietly, I let Emmeline (and by default, Gareth too) watch cartoons while I take a bath or shower.

4. After breakfast the kids usually play in the sunroom. They bang things, they fight over toys, I remind them to share. Between pretend meals, block towers, and rocking horse rides, I steal kisses and hugs. I chase Gareth down and try to change his diaper. He gets away from me and runs around naked while I yell, “Gareth, let mommy put your tee-tees away!” I try to get chores done. Sometimes (like today) I let them watch extra TV if I’m especially behind on things like dishes and laundry. Except I only end up doing the dishes and laundry about half the time. The other half I manage to find valuable but not quite as productive pursuits–like blogging and catching up on Bible reading. See, I don’t have to feel quite as guilty about their extra TV watching and my general laziness if I’m seeking intellectual fulfillment.

5. After lunch Emmeline has quiet room time, which is very difficult for little extroverts. She comes to her door a lot. Gareth is supposed to take a nap, but he usually just screams, and points a chubby, accusing finger at me and says, “Momma go!” with tears streaking his red-from-crying face. I flop down on the couch and wonder what on earth I’m going to do with a baby who is so attached to me that he can’t even bear to be abandoned for a two-hour nap. While I’m thankful for two kids who know they’re loved and want to be around me all the time, they can’t be around me all the time. I would like to feel that I could leave them with friends or relatives for a couple of hours without the world coming to an end. So I call Josh during his lunch break and whine, “I don’t know what to do! If I leave Gareth for 5 minutes he’s terrified, and he gets so wound up that he can’t settle down and sleep!”

6. After about an hour I give up and let Gareth watch Cars, Barney, Yo Gabba Gabba–anything that will keep him quiet so he doesn’t wake up his sister, who does actually take naps. I would let him play, but he’s a boy, so he’s very noisy. Then Emmie wakes up grouchy and says, “Mommy, Gareth is bothering me!” And I do like for at least one of them to be well rested.

7. Afternoons. Chaos. If the weather’s nice we go play outside. While we’re outside, I’ll get stressed out about all the yardwork I wish we could do. I’ll get mad at Josh and his crazy work schedule. Then I’ll get a shovel and some hedge clippers and take out my anger on the bushes. My goal is to be able to plant some flowers this spring. I’ve now dug up 3 bushes which were probably planted in 1978 when the house was first built.

8. Gareth takes his bath before dinner, otherwise he gets too wound up and won’t sleep. The bathwater raises his body temperature and makes him a little bit wild.

9. Dinner time. Half the time Josh works late and doesn’t get back til after the kids’ bedtimes. Gareth, who probably hasn’t taken a nap, goes to bed around 6. By this  time I’m so exhausted I’ve stopped caring if Gareth feels abandoned in his crib, so I stick him in there, sing him one song, and leave. He actually falls asleep in about 10-15 minutes, and I realize for the millionth time that maybe the problem is me not him. Emmeline plays computer games, does puzzles, and colors until her bath and bedtime. I try not to let her watch TV at night because it makes it hard for her to settle. Sometimes she gets away with it though–like last night when she got her first splinter. We were both so traumatized by it that I let her eat popcorn for dinner and watch as much Nick Jr. as she wanted.

And that’s pretty much every day in our house. You know how it goes: The days are long, but the years are short. It can get lonely, and sometimes I wonder if I’ll ever have another intellectual discussion ever again. But as hard as it is, I wouldn’t pass these years up. All that to say, don’t expect any fascinating blog posts on my adventures backpacking through the Amazon or anything like that.

Sleep Training

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Emmeline was a perfect little sleeper. She was such a good sleeper it got her in trouble when she was a newborn. She had jaundice, which made her tired, and she would not wake up to feed. She was so stubborn about it that her jaundice levels got scary high, and she ended up in Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. To this day, if she wants to be asleep, nothing can wake her up. Not loud alarm clocks, not waving McDonald’s fries in her face, and not late night surprise donut trips (tried once. failed. not her thing.). Heaven help our eldest child when she’s a college student.

When it was time to move her out of mommy and daddy’s bed and into her own crib, we went with the Ferber method for training her to put herself to sleep. It was a horrible three days, but it was also horribly easy. She did everything by the textbook, and with a few rare exceptions she has basically slept through the night since she was three months old. We thought we were awesome parents. Then her younger brother was born.

With his signature charm, Gareth has fooled everyone into thinking he’s a good sleeper. And yeah, as far as quantity of sleep goes, he’s fine. But getting him to fall asleep and stay asleep has been a different story. Gareth is a lover, a snuggler, and a party animal. He’s also a light sleeper. Footsteps outside his door? He’s awake. Rumbly tummy? Awake. Sick or teething? Awake. Just feeling lonely and wanting to snuggle? Awake.

When Gareth was a newborn, we were warned that after he was circumcised he’d probably sleep for several hours until he felt better. Not Gareth. He wanted to nurse. And nurse. And nurse. It was as if he was saying, “WOMAN! What did you let them do to me?! Now feed me until I feel better and never set me down again!” (He’s a little drama queen.) But loving as he is, he hasn’t consistently slept through the night ever.

I think we’ve tried five or six different times to Ferber him. We thought, “It worked so well on Emmeline; we’ll try it again.” And five or six different times Ferber failed us. At first we thought we were doing it wrong, but then finally we threw in the towel and admitted that Gareth had just outsmarted us. I mentioned how much he loves to eat for comfort? He won’t go to sleep without a bottle. It’s his preciousss. Anytime we try to cut him off, switch him to sippy cups, or change his sleep routine so it doesn’t involve drinking a bottle in his crib, he goes on a fluids strike. I’m serious–he will refuse all liquids until he’s so dehydrated that he’ll have gone several hours without needing a diaper change. Eventually his dehydration forces our hands and we give him a bottle just so he’ll drink something. Then he falls asleep for hours. Unless he feels like playing–then he’ll wake up two or three times more for kicks.

This, unfortunately, is a story without a resolution, since he’s still outsmarting us in the bedtime department. He’s gotten a little bit better as he’s gotten older, but he mostly just does what he feels (and if he occasionally feels like going to bed without his bottle, then yay for us). We try to brush his teeth religiously to make up for his bad bottle habits, but other than that, here’s what Gareth’s little addiction has taught Josh and I:

It’s just a phase; it will pass, and there is no such thing as perfect parenting. Gareth will not be drinking bottles in college, and as much as I might miss our late night cuddles one day, he won’t always need me to rock him to sleep when he gets a little bit cold at 2 a.m. Meanwhile, the next time Emmeline pees in her booster seat on purpose just to prove to me she doesn’t have to use the potty if she doesn’t want to, I’m going to remind myself, “At least she’s a pretty good sleeper.”

They’re so cute when they’re napping. It almost makes me want to wake them back up. Then I remember that they’re napping because they threw food, peed everywhere, and called me a mean mommy. They can sleep a little longer.

Several loads of laundry, lots of TV, and a few doses of tylenol later…

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We’re having a rough week. It’s been the kind of week that makes you go “Why am I so tired?” And makes your husband respond, “Because everyone is sick and no one is sleeping well.” The kind of week that makes you want to re-study all the negative effects TV watching has on small children because yours have watched hours. and hours. And the kind of week that makes you forget how much you actually enjoy writing as well as all those blog topics you were saving up in your head.

But it’s also been the kind of week that makes you yell at your kids less because you just don’t have the energy. The kind of week that makes you nag your husband less because you really do get that he’s too tired to mow the yard. And the kind of week that brings lots of extra cuddles with everyone.

So sickness isn’t all bad. Plus, it could be worse. No one has croup or liver damage or any life-threatening allergies. However, I’m still getting Taco Bell for dinner tonight.

Happy Friday!

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I for one, am excited it’s the weekend because I’m going out tonight. I can’t wait to catch up with a college friend over dinner. Going out also means I have a reason to take a real shower and fix my hair, which is very exciting. Of course, that’s dependent on Emmeline actually taking her nap, which looks iffy right now.

While the rest of the world was bullying each other about chicken, I found a few good blog posts about motherhood I thought I’d share. Girl Talk is doing a series on the mother’s role and avoiding distractions online. You know, distractions kind of like this blog post I’m writing right now. Apparently I enjoyed the series but not enough to be too convicted by it. You can read the series here: Girl Talk Blog.

I also enjoyed reading Jim Hamilton’s “A Biblical Theology of Motherhood” which you can find here: A Biblical Theology of Motherhood

Here’s a taste of Hamilton’s article:

If the woman does not become a mother, the serpent will not have his head crushed. God’s justice against the woman, pain in childbearing (Gen 3:16), makes triumph difficult but not impossible. Motherhood makes the world’s salvation possible. Indeed, the world’s salvation will only come through motherhood. 

This side of the curses narrated in Genesis 3:14-19, motherhood is a mercy. Promised to none, none deserve it; none have earned it. None can justly expect or demand to experience it. Death was deserved, and God upheld justice but also extended the mercy of motherhood. Motherhood is a sacred privilege granted by God’s good pleasure. 

And now since it seems my little blessings are finally asleep, it’s time for that shower.

Where’s the Poop, Robin?

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I’m pretty sure that’s a joke only my husband gets. Oh well. So much for keeping it mainstream.

I started out trying to write a post about what we’ve been up to, and all I could think was “Poop, poop, poop, diapers, diapers, poop.” Motherhood is a pretty crappy job (har har har). Please forgive me for using a pun. I’ll try not to let it happen again. Seriously, it’s the greatest job there is, but there’s still a lot of poop involved.

I won’t give you the rundown of who’s wearing what brand of diaper and who’s putting their ones and twos where and at what times of day. I know it bores everyone but me, and only me because I’m their mother, I love them, and I’ve spent so much time around them that I’m starting to forget what grownups talk about. Y’all don’t talk about poop, right?

Here’s what we’re doing when we’re not wiping our own or someone else’s bottom:

1. Making block towers. Gareth used to just knock them down, but he’s slowly starting to figure out how to stack them. Exciting times in the play room!

2. Doing “cooking crafts.” Emmeline and I agree this is the best kind of craft. And also, because I don’t own any real craft supplies, I’ve convinced Emmeline that cooking is a craft too. I come off looking like a fun mom, and we all get snacks to eat. Win win!

3. Taking turns with the Scoop and Pour Tugboat. All other bath toys have been relegated to the side as this is the newest toy and therefore the coolest. So we are learning to share it–at least until I lose my marbles and just. buy. another. dang. toy. boat. Pray for patience–the USS Scoop and Pour could really use some.

4. Watching Gareth take one…two…steps and then falling on his hiney. He gets tired of trying to walk. Crawling is faster.

5. Reading stories.

6. Watching cartoons.

7. Having tea parties.

8. Taking Tweedle’s toys out of Gareth’s mouth and taking Gareth’s toys out of Tweedle’s mouth. One day I will just let them swap playthings and they’ll both be happy.

9. Having rock band. Gareth got a set of rhythm instruments for his birthday. Emmeline counts us off, “1, 2, 3 ROCK!” and we all start shaking our instruments. Emmeline gets the drums because she’s the resident Diva-Princess, Gareth gets the eggs because he likes to have one instrument for each hand, and I usually get stuck with the tambourine. Tambourines are to picking rhythm instruments what slow kids are to choosing baseball teams. Poor suckers always get picked last. Seriously, does anyone dream about being a tambourine player when they grow up?

10. There’s also been plenty of laundry, dishes, sweeping, cooking, and grocery shopping as usual. It’s another normal, crazy week over here at the Krebs’ house.

My Son

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When Josh and I found out we were having a boy, I cried. Not that I had wanted another girl necessarily–I didn’t really care–it was just that, as my hormonal, pregnant self put it, “He’s going to have cooties and be gross!” Josh, thinking I needed some encouragement, suggested we read a book together about raising sons. We picked up Wild Things by Stephen James and David Thomas. It’s an excellent book, but when we finished reading it I cried for hours and hours–this time because “It’s just going to be too hard! He’s going to be a teenager and have boy parts and he won’t know how to talk about his feelings!” Again, hormones may have played a teensy part in those fears.

But when Gareth was born, I fell hard for that little guy. And one of my first thoughts was, “He’s going to grow up and leave me!” Josh assured me that by the time he was 18 I’d probably want him to leave me. I remain unconvinced. But he’s only one year right now, so time will tell.

On the one hand, having a daughter is an incredible blessing. It means dress up, friendship, fanciness, and cuddles. I love seeing the person she’s becoming. But Emmeline drives me crazy in a way only a daughter could. It’s kind of a “Emmeline. Stop whining. I pulled the same thing with my mom. I know what you’re doing here, now grow up” kind of crazy. But Josh? He hates it when his baby girl is upset. She has him wrapped around his finger in a way only a daddy could be.

It’s the same with me and Gareth. And there’s a very fancy, psychological explanation, which Josh told me because he’s a genius, and I forgot because I’m less of a genius. But basically, it comes down to this: with that smile, he gets away with murder. I call it his “Mommy, you’re so pretty!” face. And one day, he’s going to grow up and leave me, and love another woman more than me. But hopefully she will be a good woman who will like me and won’t take him away from me but will let us visit and will let him hug me, and she won’t be insecure about my relationship with Gareth or feel like I’m taking her job when I want to do something to help him. Hopefully. Because he’s my baby, and I love him.

I’ve promised (or threatened, depending on your point of view) that when he’s grown I’m going to have a house key, and I’ll sneak into his room late at night and rock him like the mommy in Love You Forever (which is a must-have children’s book if you’re a mommy to a boy). That won’t be weird, and his wife will be OK with it because I know he’s going to marry an understanding woman and she is going to love me–and give me a house key. It’s cool.

And sometime between now and when he gets married I should probably visit a shrink because I clearly have unresolved fears towards my future daughter-in-law. But that can wait. Because Gareth is still little right now, and I’m still his favorite woman on the planet, and we both like it that way.

“Mommy, you’re so pretty! You’re just the greatest Mommy ever! Now will you please hold me in your lap and hand-feed me my chocolate cereal?”
“Of course, Son. Anything for you my sweet boy.”