8 Things I’ve “Counted” Towards Earning the Mother of the Year Award

Count everything!

I recently shared how I became Mother of the Year, which basically consisted of me giving myself the award every day for any reason possible.  And it got such great response, I thought I’d expand on my first idea of how to get started – which is, COUNT EVERYTHING!

It all began one day when Josie ate more ketchup in one sitting than I thought humanly possible.  At first I thought, “I am the worst.”  Then, in my desperate brain, I made the connection that ketchup is made from tomatoes, tomatoes are technically a fruit, so Josie just ate lots and lots (and lots) of fruit.  And then I sarcastically called myself Mother of the Year!

But something happened in that moment where I decided that I needed to call myself that every day so I don’t get bogged down with the meltdowns and the poopy diapers and the sleepless nights.  So I started counting everything.  This is good practice, so take note.

What Counts on the Road to Winning Mother of the Year? 

Everything.  Like these 8 things.

  1. The Generous Food Pyramid: Anything that is derived from fruits or vegetables counts in this category. Pickles are cucumbers.  Ketchup is tomatoes.  French fries are potatoes.  Peanut butter and jelly is the perfect combination of whole grain, protein, and fruit.
  2. Peanut Butter and Jelly: Here’s where it gets fun. Anytime I give Josie a PBJ I give myself Mother of the Year because of what I mentioned above.  Anytime she gets something other than PBJ for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I also award myself the honor.  Seriously, guys, are you getting this?  Being extremely, overly generous to yourself is what it is all about.
  3. The Donut Ninja: One time I promised Josie a donut on the road to see Grandpa and Grandma. The gas station we stopped at only had Donettes, so I bought the big bag (obviously), and passed her a couple.  Then, because I’m human and was pregnant at the time, I couldn’t stop at just 2, so I secretly reopened the bag without raising suspicion, and shoveled in one tiny piece of heaven at a time until my pregnant self was full of sugar and regret.  It was amazing.  I held conversation with her, and even reclosed the bag.  If you’ve ever tried to sneak ANYTHING (but usually food) past your toddler, you know what a victory this was for me.  It felt good.
  4. Reverse Psychology: Enough said, probably. But here’s what’s working for me now.  Josie’s potty-trained and very adamant that she is only going to use the bathroom when she absolutely has to.  But before bed, I really need her to go to avoid any nighttime wakings or catastrophes.  So most nights my line is, “You know what, Josie?  I bet if you sat on that toilet nothing would even come out.”  And like magic, she’s up there tinkling.  I act all surprised and impressed and she loves it.  The downside is, she will no longer just go to the bathroom without me making this big fuss.  But mission accomplished either way.
  5. Formula Win: Cal is on formula, which is another story for another time. But dang, that stuff is expensive.  And he has expensive taste which is even more expensive.  And as we were figuring out which formula to give him, lots of moms suggested this super ridiculously expensive can of formula that was $40.  $40!!!!  For less than a week’s supply.  And he hated it.  So I called the company and asked for a refund.  Turns out they can’t give me my money but they can send me 2 cans of what he uses now.    And just for fun I called the store to see if I could get a refund on opened formula.  Yes I can.  Boom.  Got $40 back in my pocket and 2 full cans of the good stuff for my little man.  Life lesson: It doesn’t hurt to ask.
  6. The Belle Dress: This one is actually legit.  Josie was going to her first theatre experience to see the musical Beauty and the Beast.  And I really wanted to get her a Belle dress.  $22 at Target, ugh!   I hardly spend that much money on any clothing items for myself.  But I just couldn’t pass it up.  I was like a kid on Christmas Morning, bursting with anticipation and excitement at the thought of giving this gift to her and then watching her wear it to the show.  (Spiritual side note: this must be a glimpse into how excited and delighted God gets when He gives us all the great gifts in our lives!) It was worth every stinking penny.
  7. Laughter is the Best Medicine: Punishing your kid is hard sometimes. But when I put soap in Josie’s mouth for talking back, I just can’t help it.  I grab the first towel/burp cloth/sweater I see, bury my face, and giggle.  And she doesn’t see me do this, so that’s why I earn the award.
  8. Leaving Cal with a Stranger: Josie really really wanted to ride the escalator at the mall. You can’t bring strollers on those things, so I had a dilemma and it must’ve shown on my face, because the Guest Relations lady left her nearby kiosk and offered to keep Cal company while I took Josie for a ride.  And I said SURE!  I left my child with a stranger to watch my other child hop on the escalator like Buddy the Elf.  It was awesome.

So there ya have it.  Mother of the Year.  You guys, we’re doing it.  We’re awesome.  And I’m pretty sure this list proves that.  What crazy ways are you earning Mother of the Year status?

The Do’s and Don’ts of Toddler Dental Trauma

Based on a true story…Ok it is a true story.  The story of how the Josie, the Toothless Wonder, came to be!

So, what to do and not to do during a toddler dental emergency?

When your toddler first trips and breaks her fall with her mouth…

DO: Provide a way to mop up the blood that is pooling on the sidewalk and staining her princess dress.

DON’T: Let her keep the wipe on her mouth for an hour before checking to see if her teeth are jacked up.

When first examining your child’s injuries…

DO: Take a long pause and a deep breath to talk yourself into staying calm.

Dthe injuryON’T: Let your eyes become the size of baseballs when you see that your child’s teeth look like shattered glass.

 

When explaining the situation to your child…

DO: Keep your voice calm and your tears at bay.

DON’T: Process the situation out loud and say stupid things like, “She can’t even eat now!  Her teeth are all cracked!”

When deciding on a plan of action…

DO: Call your dentist and leave a very long and borderline hysterical message on his voicemail.

DON’T: Feel bad about doing this, even at 8:13 p.m. on a Tuesday.

When putting your child to sleep that night…

DO: Give her a little extra dose of Ibuprofen just in case.

DON’T: Give her the entire bottle, no matter how tempting.  (Bonus DON’T: Sleep with your child that night to comfort yourself her.  Turns out she sleeps just fine and has to be woken up in the morning after said trauma).

When your child refuses to eat because you said that she couldn’t eat with cracked teeth…

DO:  Continue to offer all sorts of healthy food options, including yogurt, blueberries, and a pouch.

DON’T: Feel bad when she succumbs to her hunger in the waiting room of the dentist’s office and eats 2 granola bars and a package of fruit snacks.

brave like belleWhen your child is a little apprehensive about seeing the dentist…

DO:  Let her wear her Belle dress so she feels strong and brave.

DON’T:  Promise her that the dentist won’t hurt her.

When your child starts to get emotional about sitting in the big chair…

DO: Go ahead and promise that the dentist won’t hurt her.

DON’T: Feel silly about sitting on the chair and sitting her in your lap.

When your child gets to go see a Pediatric Dentist next…

DO: Send her to Dr. Tawana Ware at Fishers Pediatric Dentistry.  Seriously.

DON’T: Make any less than 419 promises of prizes, ice cream, donuts, and treats of all kinds to incentivize relaxed and even excited behavior.

When said Pediatric Dentist tells you that she needs to pull the two front teeth…

DO: Send your child with an assistant to the prize box so you can totally lose control of your emotions.

DON’T: Wait too long to compose yourself lest the tiny one return to find you sniffling and red-eyed.

Josie laughing gasWhen your child is hooked up to laughing gas…

DO: Laugh out loud when she comments to her assistant/new best friend that it smells good.

DON’T: Steal the laughing gas from your toddler to help calm your own nerves.

When your child has been stuck with a numbing needle several times and is ready to get her teeth pulled…

DO: Grip her hand tightly and shout sweet nothings over her screaming.

DON’T: Look as the dentist rips her two front teeth out with plyers.

Josie ice cream coneWhen your child finishes bravely and needs something cold for her mouth…

DO: Head immediately to the McDonald’s drive-thru for a vanilla cone the size of her head.

DON’T: Worry too much about the mess it will make and how the cashier is probably judging you for giving ice cream to the screaming toddler in the back seat.

When your child doesn’t know that her teeth are pulled but only thinks her “cracks” have been fixed…

DO: Take a really sweet video of her discovering that she has become the Toothless Wonder for the first time.

DON’T: Worry at all about her.  She’s a tiny warrior.  She doesn’t know or care that most kids her age still have all of their teeth.  She will reflect the self-esteem and bravery she sees in you.

the toothless wonderWhen you tuck your tiny and brave child in for the night…

DO: Giggle a little bit at her new lisp.

DON’T: Forget to thank God for the best girl in the whole world who will keep teaching you about life and love.

Am I Going to Miss This Crazy Stage of Life?

youre-gonna-miss-this.png

You’re gonna miss this.  That’s what they say, and what Trace Adkins so beautifully sings about, and the exact lyrics that I sing out loud at home any time I think about the absurdity of missing whatever chaotic thing is happening at the moment.  And then I burst into tears.

Tears of exhaustion from sleep deprivation, not knowing what the heck I’m doing and usually not even knowing how to pretend like I do, and frustration.  Tears of deep love for my kids and my life.  And just the smallest amount of guilt that I might not be mom enough because I do not think that I will miss any of this, and I think that real moms do.

Of coimg_4127.jpgurse, we are in the thick of it now.  A super sassy almost-3-year-old and an impossible-to-figure-out 7-week old.  And I keep thinking that maybe this newborn thing will get a little easier and it never does.  I keep telling myself over and over that this is a phase.  And someday I will look back on it.  Probably with relief.

I put it out there to my Facebook friends who are past this time in their lives.  Most said almost the exact same thing, coupled with some great advice – I’ll miss some parts and not others!

Lynne – “I miss the cuddles and sweetness of toddlers. I do not miss diapers, bottles and not sleeping! Each stage is wonderful and awful at the same time. I have enjoyed the stages my boys have gone through and going through now (for the most part!) I think of it more as savor the special moments. Don’t get too busy that you can’t enjoy your children. It’s hard when they’re so little. They demand so much more. Savor those special moments. And try not to let the nitty-grittiness of life get in the way.

Kelli – “There are things I miss and things I don’t–true of every stage. Despite being so demanding and exhausting, enjoy the moments. It really goes fast and contrary to what I thought it did not get easier! The older they get the bigger the issues, more impactful are the choices, hard to let them learn on their own when you have the experience. Keep praying and communicating…and remember you are not alone! Other parents face the same things, even if it doesn’t appear that they do! Talking with a mom who has kids a few years older than yours is a great benefit!”

Elizabeth – “This very particular stage you are in….helpless newborn baby, needy toddler, sleepless nights…NOPE, don’t miss that.  A few months out and the years after…yes I will miss those dearly. Pull my hair out craziness most days, but the toddler to preschool stage is the best in my opinion.”

One said, YES you will miss this! 

Sherree – “Yes, you will miss it terribly. This stage of life is where you still have control and the worries are far smaller than what comes later. It is replaced by attitudes, pimples, a driver’s license and dating.”

And her sentiments were echoed by our Radio Theology listeners when I asked for calls on the topic.   They all agreed that time goes too fast and I will miss this baby/toddler stage.  (You can listen to that below.  Spoiler Alert: at one point in this segment I may or may not get sassy with one of the listeners.  Oops!)

Then there was some talk and agreement that even if I will miss it, that’s the worst possible thing you can say to someone who feels like she is drowning, or maybe on good days doggy paddling in the endless ocean of toddler tears and baby poop.  (Wow, there’s an image for ya.)

lean-in.pngAfter processing and digesting all of this, the point, I’ve decided, is not whether I like or dislike this stage, or whether or not I will miss this stage.  But that I lean into my own life.  Actively participate.  In the good and the bad.  One of my favorite quotes from Ann Voskamp is this very idea.  “Joy and pain.  They are put two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to really living.”  So when it is tempting to disengage and retreat from my own circumstances, I’ll always try to remember to do the hard work of leaning back in.

I might miss Josie jumping up and down, excited to see me after a day at daycare, but I’ll block out the meltdowns over leaving her at the top of the stairs even though she is fully capable of walking down them herself, not letting her sleep with a toy nut and bolt, or telling her yes for something she asked for and then somehow heard no or decided in a split second that having the very thing she wanted would ruin her life forever.

I will look fondly back at when she took her first steps, but will erase from my memory the months of her spitting up all over the entire world (and somehow always on me and usually down my shirt, her spit up pooling in my bra).

I will try to look back at both Josie and Cal’s newborn phase with joy and gratitude, remembering that they were healthy babies, and will disregard how crazy I felt after the hours of sleep I missed feeding or comforting them in the middle of the night.

I realize in reading back through this that it sounds like I’m absolutely miserable, and that’s just not the case.  We really are doing fine, and much better than the last time I posted.  It’s the moments where I am miserable that all of these emotions come into play.  But I feel like it is so important to say out loud to myself and anyone else who’s in the thick of it, that it is ok to feel however you feel in the moment.  But keep leaning in. 

“How’s It Going?” You Ask? – A 4-Week Postpartum Check In

So everyone is asking me the same question…… “So, how it’s going?!”

I look at them and half smile, take a long pause with an extended sigh, and say, “Good!”

Here’s what I don’t tell most people (some people, of course, get the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth).  It all runs through my head in an instant during the sigh.

How’s it going?

Well, let’s see…I’ve got a new tiny baby who, although perfect and adorable and amazing in every way, lives in my house now.  He’s fully dependent on his parents for every little thing.  He doesn’t acknowledge my existence, but demands every ounce of everything I Calhave, making me feel like most days I’ve given all I can give by 10 a.m.  He is sleeping at night, but still up every 3 hours to eat.  And then of course because he has gas and spit up issues and is already rocking a gnarly cold with congestion galore, we have to keep him upright for at least 20 minutes after he eats so he doesn’t die or something — making a simple middle of the night bottle feed feel like an eternity, even though it lasts for only 45 minutes (if I don’t fall asleep holding him in that last 20 minutes – then it’s anyone’s guess when I wake up hoping I haven’t dropped him and get myself back to bed).  And during the day he sleeps best when attached to me in some way, making it impossible to get anything done.  I know I need to just lay him down and let him cry but then there goes my relaxing nap time!  Seriously, my victory at the end of the day is knowing that we are all alive and that I maybe unloaded the dishwasher…or at least had the presence of mind to write it down on the to-do list I never look at anymore. And that’s just Cal.

Then there’s Josie, who has always been amazing and stubborn and goofy and empathetic with a large dose of sass.  Now that she’s almost 3 and simultaneously going Josie and Calthrough a major life change where she has to realize she isn’t the center of the universe, she’s really amped up the stubborn and the sass.  Oh my.  Screaming, disobeying, hitting – you name it – she’s doing it.  Now, in between those meltdowns are amazing memories that I will try to use to block out the other low points she’s bringing me to these days.  Sweet moments where she begs to hold Cal, where he makes a tiny whimper and she sprints from any room in the house to force-feed him his paci.  Every time she talks to him, her voices goes up an extra octave and her smile is ear to ear.  Those are the things I will remember instead of us yelling at each other to stop crying and yelling at each other (Parenting Tip:  This method does not work.  If you find yourself in this situation, immediately question all of your life decisions, and then abort mission.  You’re welcome).

And then there’s Ryan, whom I love but don’t really know right now.  Who walks in from a long day at work and an even longer commute home to me telling him to choose which Ryan josie Calscreaming child he’d like to take a run at comforting.  Josie, locked in her high chair but throwing a world-ending fit because I “started” her string cheese for her.  Or Cal, who was quietly napping in the other room until the string cheese incident occurred.  Ryan, who loses his wife to either tears or sleep between 8 and 9 every night now (thankfully at 4 weeks postpartum, most nights it is sleep, not tears).  And Ryan, who has a million projects to do around the house, but forfeits those most of the time to engage with his family instead.  I mean, watching the relationship between Josie and her Daddy take off these last few weeks has been awesome.  Life-changing and life-saving (because prior to this she was all Mommy, all the time, and right now Mommy ain’t got time for that).

And then there’s me, who just to carve out an hour to write this blog, had to first drop Me and CalJosie off at daycare, let my baby scream while I showered, heat up coffee for the third time this morning, and get a spoonful of leftover chocolate buttercream icing from the fridge.  (*Real life update: Just finishing this 30 hours later.)  Me, who had to make some tough choices in the last few weeks (like going from nursing to pumping to formula, but more on that in another post).  And sometimes the choices were only tough because in the few weeks after having a baby, my mental capacity for decision-making is basically zero.

Week 1 example: Ryan’s sisters wants to order us dinner for delivery all the way from Arizona?  Awesome!  I cry, and then Ryan hands me the menu and I cry harder because I can’t decide what to order.  All the while knowing I won’t enjoy the meal anyway because I have anxiety that hits between 5-7 p.m. the first week or two postpartum for fear of what the night may bring.

Week 2 example: I have Cal sleeping quietly in my arms, but I need to pee, so I decide to put him down.  The time between when the decision was made and the actual putting him down was at least 15 minutes, because I was just paralyzed (until the bathroom thing became a real motivator).

Week 3 example: I get text messages from my Radio Theology peeps and I want to go back sooooooo bad, but I can’t even muster enough courage to text them back to say that I’m not ready yet and feel like I have nothing to offer anyone.  (*Healthy update: by Week 4 I was back in action)

Week 4 example: Shave my legs.  Ok, fine, I didn’t shave all the way up, I stopped at the knee because it was just too big of a commitment.

And me, who admits out loud when I can, to the best moms I know, including my own, that I don’t know how people do this.  They each give the same answer, by the way, and it is this: They just do.  You figure it out.  And keep figuring it out.  You talk to other moms about it so you don’t feel at all alone.  And you let yourself laugh and cry and succeed and fail again and again.

So, to answer your question – how’s it going?  It’s good!  Reeeeaaaalllly good…with all the other tough stuff in between.  And that’s ok.

And a big fat P.S. A HUGE thank you to our amazing family and friends for all of the help they’ve given us – with meals, toddler-watching and baby-holding, cleaning, cooking, and doses and doses of encouragement.  You guys rock.  And are the reason that people can do this.

You Learned All of That from a Sprinkler?

Yep.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.  This rush of wonderful feelings.  And I wished I could stop time.

My husband and I set the sprinkler up for my almost-2-year-old daughter Josie for the first time ever.  We stripped her down to her diaper (and eventually stripped that as well), and helped her enjoy cheap summer fun.

josie-sprinkler-edited

So as we ran back and forth, she learned her teapot could catch some of the water, and that sometimes the sprinkler doesn’t show mercy, and I just stood there in the back yard, soaked and happy, and realized a million things at once.  Here are just a few!

I hope, as a mother (and a human), I remember to:

  • Be Present! Nothing was distracting me from this fun, and I’m so glad I didn’t think that checking my Facebook feed was more important.
  • Be a Kid at Heart! Sure, there’s more hours in the day that I have to be the parent, but when I get to be a kid with my kid, YES!  I ran through the sprinkler and giggled more times than she did.  And I was probably more disappointed when we had to shut the thing off.
  • Be Adventurous! Adventure might be as small as putting on a swimsuit and running through a sprinkler with my kids, or as big as chasing dreams and exploring the whole wide world, but in any case, I want to keep reaching for it.  What’s more, I want to instill a sense of adventure in my daughter.

all-done-in-love-sprinkler

Reason My Kid Was Crying

Have you ever seen the posts going around Facebook/Pinterest/Internet called Reasons My Kids Are Crying?

Here are just a few examples.  (If you want more, you can find some here and here.)

dog-poop-toddlergoat-toddlerreceipt-toddler

So as the mother of a pre-toddler, I was always wondering what Josie’s “ridiculous” tantrum would be about.  Sure, we’ve had the “don’t eat dog food” and “no, you can’t go outside right now” tantrums.  No biggie.

But earlier this week, I picked Josie up from daycare, and at the stop light, I turned around, looked her in the eye, and told her that I loved her.  She said, “NO!” and proceeded to lose her mind completely.  She was inconsolable.

When I unhooked her from the car seat, she struggled away from me and climbed into the back window of the car…where she screamed forever.  I kept trying to restrain her, to no avail.

It got to the point where the neighbors walking their dogs HAD to consider whether or not to call 911.

Eventually, we made it through.  As we always do.  Sometimes it seems like these horrible moments last FOREVER!  But I always try to remember that it’s a blip on the radar of real life.  And there are always more highs than lows!

So, someday, maybe you’ll see this meme on a toddler blog:

josie-tantrum

*Update: since this blog was written, I can now tell Josie I love her about 99% of the time without a meltdown!  That’s progress!