Guilt-Free Parenting

I never read parenting magazines. Do you know why? Because I found myself reading them and thinking “I wish I had the time to make that recipe” or “I wish I could remember to get stuff at the store so I could make that craft with my kids” or “why can’t I take the advice of other moms and teach my kids how to behave by modeling good behavior instead of losing my temper?” When you obsess over this way of thinking, you will easily convince yourself that you’re not good enough, when in all actuality, you’re just normal.

When I read articles on parenting.com titled “How to Win Over Stubborn Children” or “Raising An Adventurous Eater: How to get your child to try new foods (and like ‘em!),” I cringe. So what if my child doesn’t like a certain food? Isn’t it a good thing if my child is stubborn and strong willed and doesn’t let others bring her down? While I’m all for helpful parenting tips and strategies, I’m against leading parents to believe there is a magic way to mold your child into someone YOU want them to be. There’s no 5-step process to raising a perfect child; it’s messy! Raising a child takes patience, love and the ability to see past the flaws you think your child has. He or she will never be perfect in the way you think they should be. They will have temper tantrums in the grocery store when they don’t get their way, they will embarrass you when you’re out to dinner, they will make you feel as though you did something terribly wrong when trying to do your best raising them.

I’m here to tell you not to believe these things. It’s ok to get frustrated and overwhelmed, to sometimes even yell. Don’t beat yourself up to the point of not being able to see the good things each day offers. People always say to enjoy every minute of having young children because they grow so fast, but I’m telling you – you don’t have to love every minute of parenting – it’s not natural. It goes against our lifestyle as adults. When you go to bed every night, even after the most frustrating day, think of 3 things your child did that day that made you smile. It can be as simple as a hug. Focus your energy on that rather than what you think were “missed chances.”

Germ Central

For the past 3 weeks our house has been germ central. Someone has been sick the whole time, except me. It has made things very stressful to say the least.
Erin gave us all a scare as a baby by having a febrile seizure from her fever. She also had one 2 weeks ago. When she was a baby, it scared the life out of me. I had no idea what was going on. I honest to God thought she was dying in my arms. I remember clear as day thinking, “in a couple seconds I will be holding my child in my arms and she won’t be alive.” I remember thinking that I would have only spent 8 months with my daughter. It was the most raw, terrifying feeling I have ever had my whole life. Seeing it last week was easier in the sense that I knew what was going on, but it still pained me to see Erin like that and once again managed to scare me and make me cry. It is by far the worst thing I’ve ever had to watch in my life.
Anyways, I guess my point is that while I’m so cranky and impatient with everyone being sick and a lack of routine, I need to remember that things could be worse. Way worse. I hope someone reading this can take a step back, too, and realize that things could actually be worse…

Chipotle Chicken Burrito Bowl – Copycat

I’m always looking for healthy recipes that everyone in my family will eat. I was craving Chipotle one day and decided to try and find a similar recipe to satisfy my cravings. And I found one! It’s from a blog titled SavingsLifestyle.com. It’s a very neat blog. Not only was the recipe delicious, but the writers actually break out the cost savings to make (in particular) this recipe at home vs. buying it for your family at the restaurant. I encourage others to try it if you want something different and pretty healthy to eat. Or, if you want to be unhealthy, top on the cheese and sour cream!

Corn Salsa

Toppings (homemade guacamole, chicken marinated overnight then cooked on the grill, corn salsa, tomato salsa)

Finished product (in addition to the toppings: cilantro and lime rice, and black beans)

Close-up

Be sure to check out the recipe! It’s worth the effort and makes quite a bit. I think it would have been a bit easier if I had cut up some of the ingredients (and made the corn/tomato salsa) the night before. Enjoy!

The Greatest Feeling of Exhaustion

EASTER, Easter, easter. Just the word has begun to exhaust me. On Saturday, the thought of Easter was so happy and spring-like. I thought of flowers, sun, kids laughing and playing, a beautiful church service. Now, on Monday night, the very word “Easter” sends shivers up my spine. I look at myself in the mirror with bags under my eyes, hair that is not so good looking, and clothes that are hideous and I think – “I don’t even have the energy to pick up the bathmat.”

BUT with all that said…we really did have a great Easter and a great Monday – Will and I went to the White House Easter Egg Roll!! (Courtesy of my mother-in-law). We had a blast and Will was such a trooper. We were dropped off near the White House around 2:30 and didn’t get home until about 7:30. He never whined or complained once about waiting in line for 2 hours or for being hungry, thirsty, having to walk, etc. We did things such as: dance to music, dye an Easter egg, listen to a story, do an obstacle course, see characters, learn about bees, eat fresh apples, and get Will’s face painted. It was so cool to be on the lawn of the White House! It was astounding to me. I couldn’t stop staring at it and thinking of all the life changing decisions that have been made there. Or of all the events that have been discussed within those walls. Or of all the many presidents that have lived there. It stopped me in my tracks, to say the least.

Now back to Easter weekend – we spent a good portion of the weekend gardening and cleaning, which always makes for happiness (and aching body parts). We had no plans for after church on Sunday, so we decided to have a cook out at our house and invite our families. I know that usually people cook ham or something gourmet on these types of holidays, but I opted for hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. And it turned out to be wonderful. Of course, we visited Bill’s grandfather for dinner, also.

Maybe I have already said this once, but I’m going to say it again. The best, most rewarding feeling of exhaustion a person can ever have is after days like these…when you are so tired you feel like you can’t even move. Where you stand up to get your kids juice during dinner and feel dizzy like you’re going to fall over from exhaustion. Mommies – can you relate? I can’t be the only one who gets this feeling. But in spite of it sounding so awful, it’s actually a rewarding feeling because you know that you did things to better your family, make your kids happy, and give your day your all! And when you get to lay down and go to sleep that night, you know that you have nothing left to give for a good reason, and that everyone is happily asleep in their beds. This is why I love that feeling.

Anyways, enjoy pictures from our weekend – minus the White House. I will upload those whenever I figure out how to size them correctly (need I even say “and have the energy to?”)

Inside the Mind of a 5 Year Old

Sometimes I get so fed up that all my son wants to do is play with me. And by playing, I mean he wants to boss me around ;) . Usually I can think of so many other things I’d rather be doing – like cleaning up the house, doing the dishes, (shopping online <;– how did that get in there??), or just sitting after a long day. My father-in-law said something one day that put this struggle into perspective for me. He said something along the lines of, “If you don’t play with him or talk to him about things that are going on his life, he’s completely alone. He has no one to talk to, no one to play with, and no one to relate to.” All I could do was just sit and think “wow.” He’s so right!

Another friend of mine mentioned the fact that she has to force her child to spend time with her. It really got me thinking – when will Will start thinking it’s not cool to hang out with me? When will he stop talking to me and telling me silly, sometimes ridiculous stories?

Obviously I can’t pay attention to Will ALL the time, but I think twice now before I blow him off or give him the “bare minimum.”

Doin’ the Saturday Stuff

We had such a jam packed day! Bill was out of town so me and the kids just hung out and played and did fun things all day. Now, I would be lying if I didn’t say there were a couple times that I thought I was going to lose my mind. I would also be lying if I didn’t admit that I looked forward to the kids’ bedtime. And, I would also be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m having a glass or two of wine right now. But, regardless, we had lots of fun!

This morning before Bill left he made breakfast for all of us, then we lounged around and played until Will’s baseball practice. My dad popped in right before we left the house and came with us – that made it even more fun!

After baseball we came back, freshened up, and went to Frederick with my family to walk around and eat lunch at my favorite┬áMexican┬árestaurant – La Paz. Of course, it took a while to get to the restaurant. The kids finally fell asleep (after crying, stopping once to take off Erin’s coat, and another time to buy her a binky), so we made a pit-stop on the way so they could get their sleep on and so I could buy Will a LEGO set, like I’ve been promising.

Lunch was so delicious I forgot to take any pictures. Afterwards, we got some ice cream. Now I did get a picture of ice cream because Will was so sweet and decided to share with Erin. I was so tickled by them.

All in all we had a really great Saturday. The evening was pretty low-key; Will and I built part of his LEGO set and the kids went to bed really well for me. (But not before Erin pooped in the tub).

Grass Stains, Careless Days, and Lazy Posts

I made a deal with myself last night that I would do nothing on Sunday besides exercise and play with my kids. So, that’s what I did! Part of the afternoon was spent at the community college outside on this beautiful, warm, sunny day in an open field! We threw baseballs, ran in circles, and most importantly (and most fun) rolled down hills. I haven’t done it in years…and it was a blast! Will loved it, and I got to enjoy listening to him belly laugh hysterically. Erin tried it but couldn’t quite get it. She still managed to entertain herself in other ways – like tripping down the hill and following Will around. :) (Bill rolled down the hill, too, but unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of that!)

The Key To Good Parenting

I figured out the key to good parenting. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long. I need to parent when the times are hardest. Meaning, instead of putting my children off because I’m feeling angry, stressed, irritable, or impatient – I need to grow up and be the parent.

I thought of this tonight when I came home from work/running errands and was completely and utterly exhausted. Is there a better word to portray tiredness besides exhausted? If there is, that was me tonight. And usually when I am feeling like that, I tend to do my own thing and let Will play on his own so that I’m less likely to be irritated with him wanting to just talk and be a kid (parents, you know exactly what I mean)! Tonight I challenged myself to do something different – I decided to put ALL of my “issues” aside, and focus solely on him. It took quite a bit of self-discipline, but I pushed through it. After the kids went to bed, I felt so much better knowing I had given my all and had no regrets. It was such a relief to me! Besides, is it really fair for me to burden my kids with my emotions?

So this is my goal from now on – to put myself aside in order to be the parent I want to be when it gets the hardest.

Make a List

I have been feeling so full of joy these past few weeks. I really love my life. (And this is probably not the last post you will see on this subject ;) ). I really love all the people in our lives and all the people who help and support us. I love living close to my family and my in-laws and how close everyone is to our kids. I love the mundane routine of our mornings and evenings even though sometimes they are so stressful and, I’ll admit, sometimes they make me cranky. I even love the tough times that Bill and I go through because almost always they bring us closer together rather than pulling us apart. I struggle with wanting the house to be immaculate, but I secretly love seeing the playroom (and other rooms) messy knowing that the kids had fun tearing them apart.

Oh, and Buddy (our dog) just coughed up a hairball. Yep, I love that too.

Take a moment today (or, tonight?) and make a “thankful list.” And when you’re feeling down, look at it! It sounds so simple, but I think it works.

Buzz-Cut, Carrot Cake, Food, Festivities Kind of Weekend

What a great weekend. But before I start in on our fun weekend and birthday festivities for Bill, I just have to post this picture of Erin from the other night. She had just finished eating pizza and we gave her a popsicle to hold for the first time by herself. Results below:

Last night we went out to Fells Point with friends to celebrate Bill’s birthday (it’s on Feb 28). This morning I got up with the kids, took them to church, then out for a bagel. Next to the bagel place was our usual barber shop. So Will said to me, “Mommy, I think I need a haircut. I need a buzzcut.” So after we got our bagels and came home, Bill buzzed Will’s hair. It looks adorable!! I love it, and he does, too!

Mid-buzz

Handsome!

When the kids went down for a nap (well, only 1 of them slept. Guess which one didn’t?! That’s right, WILL!) I made icing for the carrot cake I made for Bill yesterday (recipe from America’s Test Kitchen). Carrot cake is Bill’s favorite cake and actually one of the only cakes he will ever eat! He’s a lucky man – carrot cake from scratch! But I’m not going to pretend I’m a baker or that I have it all together. It was a total mess as I was making it yesterday. The kids were crazy and cranky and the kitchen was a disaster and I made the supposed to be 2-layer cake unevenly, which resulted in a 3-layer cake :) . Anyways, that’s a whole other story and I will still post my cake photos PROUDLY!

After this, I NAPPED! When the kids woke up, we got together with my family and our in-laws for an early birthday dinner for Bill at Sakura (a hibachi restaurant). It was especially fun because my dad and my younger sister had just returned from a week long mission trip with our church in Costa Rica. My sister in-law went to Costa Rica, too, and was home until Monday morning before heading back to college in NH. It was fun as always.

After dinner, we had carrot cake and gave Bill his presents.

Messy but yummy!

Of course, Will and Erin lucked out from Mom-Mom ;-) Erin got 2 adorable outfits and BOY OH BOY did she LOVE them! I have never seen her react that way to clothes or any present before. She ran around the house holding the 2 hangers babbling, yelling, laughing, and dancing. I wish I could’ve captured it. I tried to get a picture but she wouldn’t stand still for me.

I realized tonight I didn’t even have a picture of the birthday boy! But since his actual birthday is on the 28th I have some time to come up with something.

All in all, it was a fun-full-filled weekend and now I am exhausted. Good-night to everyone and I hope you all had as great of a weekend as I did!