Courage is…

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage recently. Is it one act? Is it a mindset? Does it have to be a big, important thing to be courageous? Do small things count? Does someone have to notice it? What if it’s a small thing, something no one sees but you? Is that still courage?

I decided to Google it (since that’s what you do when it’s 2017 and you have a question). Some of the definitions that popped up were really interesting.

“the ability to do something that frightens one”

“strength in the face of pain or grief”

“courage, bravery, valor, bravado refer to qualities of spirit and conduct”

“mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”

So after my extensive research of skimming the top web hits, I decided that the answer is yes. Yes, courage is one act. It is also a mindset. It is big and important, and small and quiet. Courage can be noticed or unnoticed, big or small, sometimes or all the time.

Courage is hiking up Enchanted Rock when you’re afraid of heights.

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Courage is sitting with the girl on the bus that’s mean to you and trying to be friends.

Courage is going to work each day to provide for your family even when you don’t like your job.

Courage is changing your path when you don’t know the way.

Courage is playing with your kids even though you’re torn apart by grief.

Courage is getting out of bed and facing the day when you’re battling depression.

Courage is getting back on the horse that just bucked you off.

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Courage is applying for that job you don’t think you’re qualified for.

Courage is submitting to your spouse even when you think you’re right.

Courage is talking about your faith to people who don’t care to hear it.

Courage is writing a poem, singing a song, drawing a picture, playing an instrument, and waiting for the criticism.

Courage is playing with the dog even though last time she knocked you over.

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Courage is sharing your private thoughts with another person.

Courage is asking for forgiveness.

Courage is fighting a battle you don’t think you’ll win.

Courage is waiting for the cancer screen results.

Courage is letting your baby get on the school bus, drive off with a new license or enter that dorm without you.

I think courage is a choice. It’s one we make over and over each day in hundreds of ways. Sometimes we choose to do the hard thing, the scary thing, the new thing. Sometimes we choose to be vulnerable. Sometimes we choose to stand firm.

And sometimes we don’t. But that’s ok, too, because we get to try again tomorrow.

Have your kids ever asked you something that made you realize they sometimes see things much more clearly than you do? As we were driving home after Bible Study the other night, my daughter asked one of those questions.

Sydney: How do we celebrate Good Friday?

Me: Well, you get the day off from school.

Sydney: I know, but we should celebrate it. We celebrate Easter, so we should celebrate Good Friday, too. We wouldn’t have the resurrection without the death on the cross.

Here’s a true confession for you.  I have never really thought about celebrating Good Friday. There I was, getting excited about no school on Friday and getting to sleep in a little, as well as wondering how to keep all of the kids entertained without them destroying their rooms, and my daughter made me realize such an important truth –

There wouldn’t be a victory to celebrate if there wasn’t a sacrifice made.

But how do you celebrate Good Friday? Especially with young kids? How do you focus their attention on what God did for all of us in a way that is understandable, memorable, meaningful and available?

In case any others out there are struggling with similar questions, here are few suggestions from my family to yours.

Read the Easter story together

We have four kids, ages one to ten, so over the years we have gotten lots and lots and lots of children’s Bibles. Any of them would be a good choice for reading out of, but my absolute favorite is the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. The whole book shows how Jesus and God’s plan for Him is woven throughout the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament. The part about Jesus’s death on the cross is done so beautifully and with such heart, that I’ve been known to tear up a little when reading it aloud.

Jesus Storybook Bible

We got ours at Mardel (a Christian bookstore nearby that is owned by Hobby Lobby), but you can find it on Amazon or at any number of other bookstores.

Make Resurrection Rolls

Rolls

Our family did this for the first time last year, and it was a big hit. On the Friday before Easter, after reading the story of Jesus’s death on the cross, we made these as a special breakfast to be baked Easter morning. While making them, we went through the story of Jesus’s death again, then left the end as a surprise for Sunday morning.

Ingredients:

  • 1 10 oz can of crescent dinner rolls
  • 8 large marshmallows
  • ¼ cup melted butter in one small bowl
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar mixed together in another small bowl

Step 1 – Separate the crescent rolls into individual triangles while you talk about the crucifixion.

Step 2 – Take each marshmallow and dip it in the butter, then roll it in the cinnamon and sugar. We talk about how after Jesus gave up His life, they took Him down from the cross and cleaned His body, then used linen and spices to wrap Him up.

Step 3 – Place the coated marshmallow on a triangle of crescent roll, and wrap the marshmallow up, being sure to press the edges of roll together to seal it. This symbolizes Jesus being buried in the tomb. Put the rolls in a lightly greased bowl, cover and stick in the refrigerator.

Step 4 – On Easter morning, preheat oven to 400° and put the rolls on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

When you cut into the rolls, the marshmallow will have melted, symbolizing Jesus’s resurrection from the dead.

This is not an original recipe, you can find it and those like it online. My source was http://allrecipes.com/recipe/84289/resurrection-rolls/.

Decorate

What’s a holiday without decorations? My kids love decorating for holidays – I’m pretty sure they measure the importance of a holiday by the amount of decorations we put up. Since Target doesn’t have a Good Friday section, we have come up with something else. I didn’t think bunnies were appropriate for the Good Friday part of our Easter celebration, so we do something a little simpler.

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We have a wooden cross hanging in our front porch entry. The kids and I will drape a purple cloth on it on Friday, then change it to a white one on Easter morning. This is pretty simple, but it gives another way to talk about the holiday.

Resurrection Eggs

I know some people dislike the commercialization of Easter and the hype around Easter eggs, but, let’s be honest, my kids really enjoy hunting for eggs, opening them up to see what candy they got, and filling their baskets. Truthfully, I find the whole thing pretty fun, too. So as a way to incorporate the fun of Easter eggs with the truth of Easter, I found these (these are put out by FamilyLife, but you can find them elsewhere also).

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Each egg has a small toy inside that symbolizes a different part of the Easter story – a donkey, a crown of thorns, a linen cloth, etc. There is a small book that comes with the eggs where you can read the verse associated with the toy and a small bit about why it is important to the story. We have been doing one egg a day leading up to Easter, but you could do the whole carton at once, too.

If you don’t want to spend the money on these, make your own. In each egg you can put a piece of paper with the bible verse written on it, as well as a picture of the object if you want the visual aid. The objects used in these eggs are: a donkey, silver coins, a cup, praying hands, a whip, a rooster, a crown of thorns, nails shaped into a cross, a spear, a linen cloth, a stone, and the last egg is empty to symbolize the empty tomb. The verses are all taken from the gospel accounts of Jesus’s last days from Palm Sunday leading up to Easter morning.

These are all just ideas our family has come up with to explain to our kids the meaning of Good Friday and Easter. I know it is by no means exhaustive, so if you have any other ideas, or things you do that works well for your family, PLEASE share!

How to Celebrate Good Friday with Your Kids

Why I Really Love Bedtime (and it’s Probably Not the Reason You Think)

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I love bedtime around here. Love it. Yes, some of it is because the house finally gets quiet. I enjoy that last little bit of the evening when the kids are tucked in, the dogs are mostly asleep, and it’s just my husband and I sitting on the couch. Sometimes he watches tv while I read, sometimes we talk, and sometimes one or the other of us passes out by 9:30 – but those couple of hours of peace and quiet are lovely.

However, those calm moments without the kid-created chaos aren’t the reason I love bedtime so much.

I really love and cherish those last few minutes of each day with my kiddos.

I love sitting on my ten year old’s bed with her talking about whatever is on her mind. Sometimes it can be a serious conversation about what is going on in the world – things she’s heard about at school or seen on the news, headlines she read or an adult conversation she overheard. Sometimes we talk about fun plans coming up or how she feels about the new Minecraft world she and her cousin created. Sometimes we pray for people we’re worried about or she shares something in her own life she’s worried about. And sometimes we just hug for a few minutes, enjoying each other’s company without being interrupted by younger siblings.

I love tucking in the two younger girls. I love answering questions about aliens and playground etiquette. I love giving 10 hugs and 15 kisses, and getting squeezed around the neck by my almost five year old. I love picking out my eight year old’s clothes because she has a hard time waking up in the morning, and finding matching clothes is just too much at 6:30am. I love being asked to sing just one more lullaby, and hearing a new theory on why God made girls be the ones to have babies (they’re pretty sure it’s because girls are usually softer and more cuddly). I love prayers for no bad dreams, and can we please have a unicorn?

I love rocking my baby boy to sleep. I love holding him in the dark, quiet room, watching his eyes slowly drift shut. I love measuring how long his legs are getting – it’s almost time for new footie pajamas – and brushing his hair off his face. I love that feeling when he finally gives up on being awake, and his whole body sags into mine. He rests his head on my shoulder, and I can feel those slow, warm breaths on my neck. I know these days are numbered and he’s my last little one to rock to sleep, so sometimes I sit there a few extra minutes just enjoying that small body that is finally still after a long day of playing.

So as much as I enjoy finally being able to have a conversation with my husband without someone asking for milk or a snack or help with homework, and as much as I like being able to sit on the couch without someone throwing a ball at my head or escaping out the doggy door, I can honestly say that my favorite part of bedtime is not the aloneness, but those final few minutes of togetherness.

Funny Things Kids Say

Sometimes they make you laugh, sometimes they make you think, and sometimes they make you go….umm…what? Whatever they are saying, it ALWAYS keeps you on your toes.

That time I tried not to laugh when disciplining, but failed.

Layla: Mom, Sydney called me booty pants.
Me: Ok. Did that hurt your feelings?
Layla: Yes.
Me: Sydney, you hurt Layla’s feelings.
Sydney: I’m ok with that.

—–

Me: Gwen, stop drawing all over the bible. Gwendolyn: But God told me to.
Me: No, he didn’t
Gwendolyn: Yes, he did. (In a deep voice) Gwendolyn, draw in the bible. (Switches to normal voice) See, he told me to.
Me: *face palm*

—–

Me: Scoot over here so I can rinse the shampoo from your hair.
Sydney: Just so you know, I have lost control of my body. So if I start doing the hokey pokey, it’s not my fault.

—–

Layla: I’m not saying I don’t like the rice, dad, I’m just saying there’s not much flavor.
Sydney: Yeah. I’m not saying I don’t like the rice, dad, I’m just saying it’s kind of…uh…yuck. And it looks like poop.

—–

Sydney: You know when you come in after a long day and see a big mess?
Me. Yes.
Sydney: That wasn’t us.
Me: Who was it then?
Sydney: I don’t know, maybe a bad guy. Or a ghost. Definitely a stranger.

That time I realized I never really have control of the conversation.

Layla: People in England speak the same language we do, but it’s in a different font.

—–

Sydney: What’s J plus G?
Aaron: 4.
Sydney: Don’t be silly, Dad, it’s a yes or no question.

—–

Layla: Are you getting new stuff for the house?
Me: That will cost more money.
Layla: Go to the dollar store and get some dollars.

—–

Layla: Uhoh.
Aaron: What happened?
Layla: Uhh, nothing you need to worry about.
Me: Oh yeah. I’m definitely not worried now.

—–

Layla: A friend in my class, Annabelle, has a twin. They have the same shoes and wear the same outfits.
Me: Do they look the same?
Layla: No, Sophia has the wrong face.

—–

Layla: You smell like red neck and old fart.

That time I realized I wasn’t the smartest one in the room.

Me: How was your day at school?
Sydney: My friend got a little mad at me on the bus.
Me: Why?
Sydney: He just doesn’t understand you can’t always get what you want.

—–

Gwendolyn just asked me what unicorns ate. I told her sugar cookies. I didn’t know 3 year olds could do the “you’re an idiot” look with so much passion.

—–

Syd: Someone made fun of my shirt today. They said it was stupid and I am stupid.
Me: Did you punch them in the face?
Syd: No. I stayed calm, and said, “I don’t care, I like this shirt.”
Me. Oh….yeah, that was probably a better response.

—–

At the bus stop this morning:
Sydney: That girl still doesn’t like me. She glares and says she hates me.
Layla: She does that to me, too.
Aaron: When people do that to me, do you know what I do? I smile and wink at them. It’s like I’m saying, “Come at me, bro.”

After school:
Aaron: Did you see that girl? Was she mean?
Layla: Yes.
Aaron: Did you say, “Come at me, bro”?
Layla: No, I said, “Jesus loves you.” 
 

The Multiple Personalities of a Mom of Many Kids

I am finding myself in an interesting place these days. A place where the days can sometimes pass by at a snail’s pace, where time moves so slowly I feel like I’m watching the clock just waiting for bedtime. At the same time, they speed by so fast that I can’t keep up. I wake up and it’s April, when I feel like September was yesterday and school just started a few weeks ago.

It’s a place where I seem to have multiple people living inside of me. On one side I’m that mom of young children. That mom that spends so much of her time just trying to keep up with the spilled milk, diaper changes, nap times, toys everywhere and the CONSTANT grabbing of little hands.

The mom who can play ponies with the four-year old, do dishes, and keep the destructive 18-month old from pulling a stack of unopened mail off the counter and onto his head at the same time.

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That mom who hates it when well-meaning strangers say, cherish every moment, it goes by so fast. That mom who, on a really bad day, kind of wants to punch those strangers in the face.

They have no idea that I’m working on about three and a half hours of interrupted sleep, spent my morning cleaning up a bowl of yogurt that was launched from the toddler in his high chair, and I only came out to the store because we were out of milk and I desperately needed to see other adults for a few minutes to remind me I’m not alone. Yes, I love love love my kids, but these days can pass soooo sloooowly.

However, since I have older kids too, there’s another side. I look at my 10 year old, and think, where has the time gone? Didn’t I just teach you to tie your shoes? How is it possible you can fit in my shoes now? Weren’t we working on your ABC’s just yesterday? How can I possibly be helping you with a book report today? What do you mean, preteen camp? Didn’t you just have your first sleepover at Grandma’s house? How did everything go by so quickly?

My eight year old can use my computer better than me and can clean the bathroom by herself (ok, that one’s not so bad). It seems like five minutes ago that I was rocking her back to sleep when she had a nightmare. Where did my little babies go?

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And that side of me, the one with the older children who are getting more independent every day, looks at the mom of little ones and says, cherish every moment, it goes by so fast.

It’s an interesting place. I never thought there would come a time when I wanted to punch myself in the face.

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Please Don’t Call Yourself That

I was sitting in the car yesterday with two of my daughters, and my middle daughter said something that bothered me. A lot.

She was trying to tell us a story about something or other, but in the middle of it she got a little mixed up. She said, “Sometimes I’m stupid.”

Of course I immediately jumped in. Please don’t call yourself stupid. You’re not stupid at all. You’re smart, funny, beautiful and unique. Getting mixed up doesn’t make you stupid, and you shouldn’t think those things about yourself.

She nodded, said ok and finished her story, but that moment really made me think.

First I wondered why she would say that. Kids don’t start out thinking they’re stupid. All the young children I’ve been around pretty much think they’re awesome. I’ve never met a two year old who didn’t believe the world revolved around him or her, and that it was right to do so. Obviously that’s something you don’t want them to think forever, but my point is that this self-deprecatory talk is learned.

I’m sure fingers can be pointed everywhere – TV, movies, other kids, too many expectations, not enough expectations, too many compliments, not enough compliments – pick your expert and I’m sure they will tell you who is to blame. But in that moment riding in the car, I realized that I say those things, too.

Usually I don’t really mean it, but sometimes I do. After locking my keys in the car, “Sandra, you’re so stupid.” After forgetting to check my calendar and missing Muffins with Mom, “Sandra, you’re so forgetful.” After snapping at the kids for the fifth time in an hour, “Sandra, you’re such a bad mom.”

So probably there are lots of different things that went in to making my baby call herself stupid, but some of it can be laid at my feet. It reminds me of that old commercial they used to run about kids doing drugs. “You, alright! I learned it by watching you!” Anyone else remember that one?

The second thing I thought while sitting in that car, was that it is physically painful to me to hear my sweet little girl call herself stupid. My heart ached, I lost my breath and I wanted to cry.

When I look at her, I see my child. She’s absolutely wonderful and all the things I told her that she is. I don’t look at her and think critical thoughts, I look at her through eyes of love – eyes that see the beautiful creation that she is as well as the awesome potential she carries within her. The thought that she would think of herself in such a bad way made me incredibly sad.

If I, a flawed person, feel that way hearing my child criticize herself, how much more does my heavenly Father feel saddened when he hears his children speak like that? If He, the God who is love, truly sees us as His children, His gifts and His treasures, then these words we speak about ourselves surely matter to Him.

How does God feel when I call myself stupid? How does He react when I say I’m dumb, or a bad mom, or a klutz? Is he saddened? Is it painful for Him? Does He want to stop the car and give me a big hug? Does He want to say, “I made you, I know you, I love you. I see who you are and I love you. I see who you have been and I love you. I see who you will become and I love you.”?

So that’s my new resolution. I am going to start paying attention to the words I use about myself and others. I am going to stop being so critical, and start looking at myself as my Father does – through eyes of love. Then, hopefully, I’ll be able to show my kids through actions as well as words that they ARE smart. They ARE beautiful. They ARE unique and funny and worthy. They ARE loved.

To My Husband – You’re Still Pretty Sexy

Dear Husband,

Remember when we were in our 20s, before kids and bills and meetings and obligations? Remember the time before 3am screams about nightmares and toddlers trying to watch you pee? We would take a drive in your jeep with the top off and you would take your shirt off to get some sun. You were pretty sexy.

Remember when the only things we were worried about was making it to work on time and deciding if there was enough in our bank account to rent a movie at Blockbuster? We would snuggle up on the couch and binge watch Lord of the Rings until 2am, only pausing it long enough for you to get me another drink or rub my feet. You were pretty sexy.

Remember when the house was always clean and quiet, and we would spend a lazy Saturday sleeping in and browsing through antique stores? I would pretend I was interested in the old comic books you liked to look at and you would nod and smile when I pointed out the pretty vintage china in the hand-carved buffet. You were pretty sexy.

We’re a lot older now, and there are a lot more people in this house. There never seems to be enough time for talking or meandering or sleep. The jeep is gone and we drive something with three rows of seats and good gas mileage. When we’re feeling crazy, we watch Food Network until 11pm or until you fall asleep on the couch and I have to wake you up five times before you come in to bed.

Our Saturdays are usually spent at a child’s birthday party, doing yard work or running errands. I’m pretty sure the last time we were shopping together something got broken, someone threw up and the battery died in your pickup.

But you know what? You’re still sexy.

When you get up at 3am because you hear the four year old crying before I do, you’re pretty sexy. When you’re outside mowing the grass and pause to wave at the one year old staring through the living room window at you, you’re pretty sexy.

When I call you in the middle of the day almost in tears because the dogs ran through a mud puddle and tracked it through the house, I found lice on one of the kids and the toddler won’t let go of my leg, and you step out of a meeting to talk me off the ledge – you’re pretty sexy.

When you get my coffee in the morning, do the dishes after dinner and tell me you think I’m hot in my reading glasses, you’re pretty sexy. And this morning, when I realized I forgot to give our eight year old her lunch before she left for the bus – you grabbed the lunchbox and ran out the door. I looked out the front window to see you call for her, then hand her the purple flowered lunch bag. You bent down, the tall man kneeling before the little girl in her purple jacket and pony tail, and tied her shoelaces before sending her back to the bus stop. You have never been more sexy to me than in that moment.

So even though we’re a little older now, with a few more wrinkles and a lot more experience, I wouldn’t go back in time. Even though the jeep is gone, you need an ankle brace for volleyball and we yell at people driving over 20 miles per hour down our street, I wouldn’t change a thing. You’re still pretty sexy.

Lazy Mom’s Tuna Casserole

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In case you haven’t heard this about me, I hate cooking. I don’t like looking at cookbooks, finding recipes, reading recipes, or shopping for food. In fact, there are certain kinds of food (like raw meat) that I have to force myself to touch, and I only do so because I love my kids and don’t want them to starve. If it was just me I would probably live on cold cereal and peanut butter sandwiches.

Part of the hatred may stem from the fact that I’m truly terrible at the whole process. I’m notorious for burning grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes, for forgetting key ingredients, and for having to Google things like “what does sauté mean.”

Fortunately for me – and for the health of our family – I married a man who loves to cook. He actually enjoys reading cookbooks, trying new recipes out and making stuff up. The thought of making stuff up in the kitchen gives me a physical anxiety attack, so I consider him pretty miraculous.

We really try to prioritize sitting at the table all together for family meals, so on those unfortunate days when our schedule doesn’t allow time for him to come home from work and put dinner on the table before we have to leave for some activity, I am in charge of the cooking. I’m not going to lie; we occasionally have frozen pizza or, my personal favorite, frozen chicken nuggets on those days. However, sometimes I attempt to put something on the table that takes a little more effort and has a modicum of nutritional value.

Yesterday was one of those days, and I am incredibly proud of myself, so I thought I would share. Not only did I make something with multiple ingredients, I did it without a recipe, with only a couple panicked phone calls to Aaron, AND, it tasted good! I’ve hit one or two of those, but never all of them at the same time. So to pat myself on the back and let all of you know that I actually can make something other than flat brownies and burnt grilled cheese, here’s the recipe for my awesome tuna casserole last night. I’m calling it the Lazy Mom’s Tuna Casserole because it only took me about 15 minutes to throw together since it uses some jarred stuff.

Ingredients:

  • 1 15oz jar creamy alfredo sauce
  • 1 12oz can tuna
  • Spaghetti noodles
  • 1 sliced up fire roasted red pepper (out of a jar)
  • 1 cup chopped frozen spinach
  • ½ cup mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°. Cook pasta. In casserole dish, combine alfredo sauce, drained tuna, pasta, chopped red pepper, cooked spinach and mozzarella. Mix together. Melt butter and mix in bread crumbs, then sprinkle on top. Stick that baby in the oven and cook it for about 30 minutes.

Ta da! Pretty easy, right? The kids loved it, and even Aaron liked it! This fed our whole family with very few leftovers, so you can adjust amounts as needed.

 

That Time My Daughter Creeped Me Out

So I have this kid. She has a crazy imagination, and has since she was old enough to talk. Sometimes her stories are obviously made up – like the one where an alien teleported her to his planet to have a disco party. Others seem made up, but are also pretty plausible. This is the child that had an imaginary friend that I thought was an actual person for a whole year before I finally realized she was fictional. I kept quizzing her teachers to find out who this “Hally” was (awkward).

Many times when I ask her if her stories are true or pretend, she has to think about it for a while before she can tell me.  I’m pretty sure that’s because the stories in her head are as real to her as what we had for dinner last night. This makes her incredibly convincing.

The other night, as I was tucking her in bed, we had this conversation.

Sydney: What time is it?

Me: 8:30, why?

Sydney: I have to be asleep by 9:40.

Me: Why 9:40?

Sydney: Well, I didn’t tell you this before, but the other night, I was lying in bed and I saw this wind. Usually you can’t see wind, but I saw this one. It was weird. It came up and looked at me in my bed, then swished down to Gwen’s bed and looked at her. Then it went out my door, so I got up and followed it. I saw it go down the hall to Layla’s room, then head down the stairs. When I got back in bed I noticed it was 9:40.

Me: You saw a wind?

Sydney: Yeah. And it didn’t act like regular wind since it was moving around like that. So I call it the Night Spirit.

Me: Uhhh…

Sydney: I’m pretty sure the Night Spirit comes to every house at night – you know, like Santa Clause, but every night, not just Christmas. It comes at 9:40 to see if you’re asleep. If you’re not asleep it gives you bad luck the next day, and if you are asleep then you’ll have a good day.

Me: How do you know that?

Sydney: Well, I figured it out because the day after I saw it, I had a really unlucky day. Lots of bad stuff happened. The dog drooled on my foot, I couldn’t tie my shoe fast, stuff like that.

Me: Ah, I don’t really think…

Sydney: So we have to go to sleep by 9:40 tonight, so that when the Night Spirit comes it won’t see us awake.

Ok, obviously there’s no such thing as a Night Spirit, right? I mean, she didn’t really see a strange wind floating between her and her sister’s beds. Right?…Right? Just in case, I’ll be in bed by 9:30 from now on.

Bad Mom, No Cookie!

Have you ever had one of those days where everything goes wrong? Where no matter what you do or how you try to make things run smoothly, you fail spectacularly at everything? One of those days when you actively wish for a reset button or a really big mallet to knock yourself out so you can just sleep until tomorrow? Yeah. Today was a little like that.

To be fair, it really wasn’t the whole day. Most of the day went pretty smoothly (probably because I had a meeting, so wasn’t in charge from about 7am to 3pm). However, once 3pm hit, things quickly began unraveling.

Mistake #1 – I went to the bathroom. It seems pretty innocent, right? I mean, the doors were locked, the living room is child proofed, and two minutes is pretty quick, right? No. No, it’s not. Do you know how much trouble an 18 month old can get into for the two minutes it takes his mom to use the restroom? I came out of the bathroom to a suspicious quiet. Hearing a noise, I looked out the back window to see my son (who I suddenly recalled had recently developed a fascination with the doggy door) standing in the back yard covered in mud from head to toe.

Mistake #2 – I took him directly to the bathroom to put him in the tub. I figured I could strip him down on the tile floor and plop him in the bath. Bad idea. Apparently falling in mud puddles causes boys to have a dirty diaper. I have three older girls, so I wasn’t aware of this little quirk. Needless to say, wiggly boy + muddy clothes + muddy shoes + dirty diaper = DISGUSTING bathroom.

Mistake #3 – I took the boy to get dressed before cleaning the bathroom up. As I was drying, diapering and clothing the now clean child, the four-year old screamed from the hallway, “Mom! Davey is eating Calvin’s dirty diaper! In my room!” Fortunately, Davey is a dog and not another kid. Unfortunately, Davey enjoys spreading his dirty diapers out all over the place when he eats them.

Mistake #4 – I don’t keep cleaning supplies in the upstairs bathroom. That seems like a smart move, right? After all, kids and cleaning supplies usually don’t mix. However, when you’ve already dealt with a dirty diaper covered in dog slobber, ripped up, and spread all over your daughter’s room, the very last thing you want to do is go downstairs to grab the bathroom cleaner. So do you know what you end up doing? Wiping up all of the mud and other stuff with the already dirty clothes piled on the floor, then throwing that stuff in the trash.

So here I am. 5:00 on a Tuesday. I’ve decided the day is officially over, and I’m no longer participating in it. I have my pajamas on, I kept the four year old home from gymnastics because I just COULD NOT face getting out of the house, and the children are running wild. Dinner will be pizza and cookies. I may even let the kids have more than one so I don’t have to sneak extra when their backs are turned.