Rat Poison and a Trip to See Santa (7QT)

If you are a pet owner and are ever so unfortunate as to see chewed open, and empty, mouse poison bait boxes at the opening to your garage right when you have just gotten your children into the car for a promised and eagerly anticipated trip to see Santa, have no fear. Here is your step-by-step guide for how to handle such a situation:


These dogs are awesome, but they chew everything.

  1. Go ahead and let your kids get in their car seats. Put Christmas movies on their car DVD players. Don’t tell them about the possible deadly poisoning of their beloved pets yet. This will keep them contained and un-hysterical while you proceed to dealing with potential poisoning.
  2. Call your vet. Get a little freaked out when they tell you that knowing the type of poison and its active ingredient is essential for correct treatment of your dogs (because of course you don’t know this information). Get a little more freaked out when they tell you that you have to induce vomiting in your dogs, as you imagine the horror of sticking your finger down poor dogs’ throats… Get relieved a little bit when they tell you that you just have to give them peroxide.
  3. Get bottle of peroxide. Thank God that you have peroxide. Wander around for a few minutes trying to find something that will work well for administering peroxide to dogs. Thank God again when one of the men at your house working on your kitchen backsplash (who overheard your conversation with the vet) mentions that he had to do the same thing with his dog and that it worked well to put the peroxide in ice cream.
  4. Put leashes on your dogs and take them outside with bottle of peroxide and a spoon. Realize you need bowls and ice cream. Start to take the dogs back inside to mix up a concoction for them. Answer questions of your now-starting-to-get-a-little-impatient children with a (mostly) cheerful, “Please be patient girls. Mom just has to take care of something with the puppies before we can go.” Get bowls and ice cream and mix the prescribed amount of peroxide into each. Take dogs outside on leashes again with bowls of peroxide-laced ice cream. Feel a little guilty as the dogs eagerly lap up the ice cream. Walk around with them until the desired result starts happening. Smile and nod at the roofing guys working on your house when they look at you like you’re nuts as you’re holding your retching dogs on leashes.
  5. When the purging is completed, go inside again and put dogs into their kennel (just in case they aren’t quite done vomiting). Go back out to put in a new movie for youngest daughter who has informed you that she needs a new DVD (Christmas movies are so short!). Realize that her DVD player has stopped working. Bite the inside of your cheek to keep from swearing. Try to fix DVD player and fail. Continue to resist the urge to swear. Again plead with children to be patient as you go back inside and call exterminator who placed the bait boxes in your garage many months ago. Thank God again that he answers his phone and provides the information you need.
  6. Call vet’s office with the active ingredient of the poison. Wait for receptionist to speak to vet. When she says the vet is with a patient and will have to call you back, use the time to Google the probable course of action and go out and address the DVD situation. Explain to children that you might have to postpone the visit to Santa because the dogs ate some mouse poison and you will probably have to take them to the vet. Deal (mostly) calmly with the wails and protests and cries of “Are the dogs going to be okay???”
  7. When the vet’s office calls back and tells you you will have to bring the dogs in to be weighed so they can get some medication, put them back on leashes, load them in the car, drive 25 minutes to the vet’s office, get said medication, drive 25 minutes home, leave kids in car, take dogs inside, give them medication, and go back out to car to take kids to see Santa, even though it is now over two hours after your intended time for leaving to do so. Offer up the fact that your kids (and you) will again be skipping nap/quiet time (for the fourth time that week). Take a snack out for kids since it’s now lunch time and you have a 30 minute drive to the mall. Relish the cheers that come from your back seat when you tell the kids they’ll be going to see Santa after all. Thank God that your dogs will be okay. Then enjoy the heck out of the rest of your day.


I’m linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 Quick Takes Friday. Even though it’s Saturday.


My Kids Went to Vacation Bible School, and It Made Me Cry

Last week was VBS at our parish. I have wanted to send Miss to it for the past two summers, but it always coincided with a week that we were out of town. This year, we decided to stay home, and Lass was old enough to go too, so both of my older girls attended.


Our parish really goes all out and does a wonderful job with the program. The kids made crafts and played games, all while learning Bible verses and stories, and about the love of God. My girls just loved it, and I was so happy they got to attend.

Each day when I dropped them off, and again when I picked them up, the whole group of kids and volunteers sang a song together in the church. The message of the song: “My God is powerful. He stands invincible. I will hold on to Him. Through God I will overcome. He’s the rock that will never move.”


Most days at drop off and pick up I got to see the kids do the song together (complete with arm motions throughout), and I was surprised to find that I couldn’t help but get choked up as I watched them sing. Every time, my eyes welled with tears, and I just stood there feeling all the feels and hoping that the tears wouldn’t spill over and make me look really foolish.

It seems like kind of a weird thing to get all emotional over, right? But as I watched all the kids get so excited over this song and it’s message, I felt this overwhelming joy that my children have this community and this Faith to grow up with.

Sometimes it’s still hard for  to believe that we even go to church, that we are even Catholic at all. I think back to where I was three years ago, on my unbelief and scorn for all things Christian, and I marvel at where we are now. I get overwhelmed with gratitude for what we have that we almost didn’t: Faith. Prayer. Community. Church.

And it’s in small moments, like those in the back of the church at the start and end of each VBS day, that I realize how powerful God really is. That He could take someone like me, a diehard atheist, and transform me into a true believer, a weekly-Mass-attending, pope-loving, confession-going, Jesus-freak Catholic, is nothing short of a miracle.


The kids performed the song in the front of the church at the end of Mass yesterday. I got all teary-eyed again, and then nearly dissolved into full-on sobs when the recessional hymn was “As For Me and My House, We Will Serve the Lord.”

Yes we will. And I am so incredibly grateful for it.

Being a Mom. In a Nutshell.

Yesterday I took my girls to a Mother’s Day Tea at our church.


After we ate lunch, the emcee of the event asked if anyone wanted to come up to say something about her mom. Lass, my talkative, never-met-a-stranger, middle child wanted to go right away. She walked to the front of the room, and when it was her turn to speak into the microphone, she clearly and sweetly said, “My mom gives good hugs.”

I started to cry a little. Obviously.

After a few more people went, Miss decided that she wanted to have a turn. This surprised me a little, because she is not much for speaking up in front of groups and she tends to be a bit more shy, especially with strangers. As she walked up to the front of the room, I sat there wondering what she was going to say. Not only is she my most reserved child, as a general rule she also isn’t as touchy-feely as her sisters.

She got the microphone and said, serious as can be, “My mom does the laundry.”

The whole room erupted in laughter, and she came back to the table giggling and feeling proud as punch that she had made a good joke, though she might not have been quite sure what it was.

This little situation served as a perfect example of the differences in my two older daughters. Their personalities were fully apparent in the comments they wanted to make about me as their Mom.


Last night, I was thinking back on the moment and smiling a little bit (and drinking some wine), when I realized that their words were also pretty much representative of what it means, in a nutshell, to be a mom in general.

We give love.

We serve.

We tuck little ones into bed with kisses and special lullabies. We give words of praise and encouragement. We tell our children how much we love them. We kiss boo-boos and cheer victories. We give good hugs.

We wash dishes. We cook meals. We teach manners (And do it again. And do it again). We let them help with chores, even though it takes longer. We do laundry.


These things are what make up the day to day of being a mom.

We give love and we serve in hundreds of different ways every day. In big ways and little ways. In obvious acts and those that no one ever notices. In ways that are easy and ways that sometimes feel so, so hard.

When I think about the moms I know, I see this so clearly.

To my Mom, my Grandma, my Mother-in-law, my Auntie, Super Friend, the Godmother, and all the rest of the moms, near and far, among my family and friends, I see you. I see how you love and serve your children, and families, and others. Thank you.



Happy Mother’s Day. 

Embrace the Ordinary – Holy Week

Holy week is anything but ordinary. It is the most beautiful and powerful week of the year.



“…there is something holy, something divine hidden in the most ordinary situations, and it is up to each one of you to discover it.” St. Josemaria Escriva, Passionately Loving the World

I found myself trying to explain its magnitude to my children so many times, hoping that they are understanding at least a little bit of it. I think they do. We went to the Good Friday Mass last night for the first time, which was haunting and lovely. At the point of the Mass when we kneel and stand repeatedly during prayers for various people and groups, the deacon chanted “Let us kneel” for the third or fourth time, and Sis loudly said, “He keeps doing that!” I quickly shushed her while trying not to chuckle, and found myself smiling at this shot of ordinary mothering in the midst of an extraordinary ritual.

Then my girls all took off their shoes as we went up together to reverence the cross. Touching that cross and seeing their little hands on it. . . It was impossible to hold back all of the tears in those short moments and after we returned to our seats to wait and watch the rest of the parishioners do the same.

As we waited solemnly, my girls saw some of their friends coming up to reverence the cross themselves, and they started jumping up and down and waving and trying to update them on the news that Miss’s first tooth is loose (my husband told me later that Miss was attempting to solicit a dental consult from our oral surgeon friend). Again we shushed them, but I was reminded that they are small and they cannot possibly fully comprehend the significance of the service and the day.

They get it, but they are little. Loose teeth and fairy houses are important too. Those are the things that make up the ordinary amidst the extraordinary in these mothering days.

Ordinary moments in the middle of this amazing week.


Today is Holy Saturday, the day of the Easter Vigil Mass. Naturally I am thinking back to last year, when I was baptized and confirmed, and received Holy Communion for the first time.




I’m sponsoring another woman who is entering the Church tonight. I’m so excited for her and for all those who will do the same this evening.


Today I’m focusing on waiting and on praying for all the new members of our Church.


And on enjoying all the little moments with my family.



I hope you all have a happy and blessed Easter.

Thanks to Gina for the opportunity to host this link up during Lent. This will be my last time hosting, and next week you can find the link up back on her blog.

Share your ordinary moments below!

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What I Learned From a Drawing of Poop

Sometimes I get kind of caught up in the stuff of a day. The endless repetitive tasks that moms do. The routine. You know.

Make breakfast. Clean up breakfast. Get everyone dressed. Make beds. Do school for a while. Serve snack. Clean up snack. Do more school. Clean something. Make lunch. Clean up lunch. Get little girls down for naps. Do more school with big girl. . . And so forth. Every. Day.

I can get caught in the routine and overly focused on getting the job done. Or overly focused on making sure that my girls use their manners or learn XYZ lesson. I want to raise my kids to be thoughtful, generous, kind, grateful, faithful, well-spoken women. There’s a bit of pressure there, so sometimes I just put my head down and plod forward, toward achieving the goal.

But when I do it that way, it’s not always very fun.

“Please chew with your mouth closed.”

“We don’t use potty talk!”

“Please use your strong words if there is something you need.”

Over and over and over.


Right before snapping the above photo, at the end of our field trip last Friday, I sounded like this while trying to wipe mud off the pumpkins so the girls could hold them to pose for a picture:

“Come here please. Stop dropping the pumpkins. Don’t climb in the wheelbarrow. Don’t touch that stem, I told you it has prickles on it. Get over here please. Okay, hold the pumpkins and look at me. Nevermind, that one’s too heavy. Just sit and face me. Turn this way. No. This way. Please. Just sit by your pumpkin and let me take your picture to show how. much. FUN. we’ve. had!!!”

We really did have a good time. Pony-riding, cow-milking, pig-petting. . .

Mulberry lane collage

Some of my favorite moments:

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And then there was the goose-chasing. Oh my goodness. The hilarity.

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Miss wanted to try to sneak, but her sisters don’t have an ounce of stealth between them.



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They screamed. They ran (the poor geese). We all laughed and laughed and laughed.

You know, when I remember to do it, that’s one of my favorite parts about being a mom. The laughing. My kids are really funny sometimes.

Last night was a good example of one of those moments when you just have to let the lesson pass you by, skip the moral of the story, and just laugh your head off with your kids.

Picture it. Last night. Bed time. We were all piled on Miss’s bed for prayers and stories. My husband picked up a “book” Miss had written and we caught a glimpse of the back cover of it, on which she had written, “Poop.”

Miss grabbed the book and slammed it down on the bed. She did not want us to see what it said. Neither my husband nor I were angry or scolding, but he asked her why she had written that randomly on the back of her book (which was not about poop). She stammered uncertainly for a second. Then my husband picked up the book again, and we got a good look at the back, writing, drawing, and all. I’m not one for bathroom humor, but I just lost it.


Any thought of having a little teaching moment about using potty words gratuitously or whatever went right out the window.

All five of us sat on Miss’s bed and howled with laughter at her word and her drawing. The silliness. The absurdity. The drawing!

Teaching moment missed. Hilarious family bonding moment embraced. I say that’s a win.

And I was the one who learned a lesson.

Living on a Prayer

I overheard some interesting comments from my girls today while pushing my two youngers on the swings as Miss swung  by herself on the glider.


Lass (to Miss): “You’re doing that all by yourself. You can teach me how to swing by myself too.”

Miss: “Yeah. I’ll teach you. I’m a good teacher. I can be your mommy.”

Lass: “Yeah! You can be my mommy!”

Me: “Hey, wait. I’m your mommy.”

Lass: “No, no, no. I mean after you die.”

Oh. Well, that makes me feel better.


I have to admit though, I can’t blame them for fantasizing about another mommy a little bit. The past week or so I have been so tired and so crabby. I can’t even stand myself when I act like a jerk to my kids for much of the day, so I can understand if they might think an alternative would be enjoyable from time to time.


I’m sure that being tired in itself has contributed to my yucky attitude, but it’s a bit more than that too, I think.

Usually I wake up at 5:30 in the morning and spend some time praying and reading the Bible. It’s a wonderful way to get my mind and my heart right for the rest of the day. But lately I’ve been so tired, I haven’t wanted to get up early and I’ve been missing out on my usual prayer time. I’ve been trying to squeeze it in at other times, but that is never quite as fulfilling, and some days I’ve even missed it all together. This is not a good thing.

I was so disgusted with myself last night after a few days of just being a grouch, that I vowed to get up early and start my day right. So I did. I didn’t quite make it out of bed at 5:30, but I was downstairs saying my prayers by a few minutes after 6. And it made all the difference. I got some good Jesus time to start my day, and then I had an awesome day with my kids. DSC_0155

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An amazing thing I’ve learned in the past year and a half is that when I feel like a crappy mom, when I’m grumpy and acting like a jerk, when I’m impatient and snappish, I now have an incredible solution. I used to beat myself up and flounder through my difficulties and eventually give myself a pep talk and feel better. Now I know that I can just turn to prayer and pretty quickly get myself back on track. Seriously, it works.

When I’m drowning and feeling like I can’t do anything right, I turn my face to God and say, “Help me!” And He does.

When I’m having a wonderful day and feel like I’m Super Mom and all is going just right, I turn my face to God and say, “Thank you!”


Today, I said, “Thank you!”

Receiving Communion With a Two Year Old

Saturday we went to the evening Mass. We don’t usually choose to go on Saturday evening, but we did this week because my husband worked this weekend. Why don’t we usually choose Saturday evening? Well, because it falls right during our usual dinner time for one. But mostly because our parish does not offer childcare in their nursery for the Saturday evening Mass. My older two do fairly well during Mass now, but at barely two years old, Sis is just, um difficult to wrangle for an hour. So she usually goes to the nursery.

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Who, me??

I’ll spare you the details of trying to keep her contained while she was saying the whole time, “I cazy! I cazy!” and trying to hang upside-down on my lap. We’re not the first parents to manage a two-year-old through a Mass, nor was this the first time we had her in the service.

But, this was the first time for us to go up to receive communion as a family. Having only one previous experience of receiving the Eucharist, in a serene and peaceful and lovely moment with my husband while not juggling three children, I was extremely nervous about doing it with all three of them in tow.

I was a little nervous that my eldest, my super curious girl, would be begging the whole time, “Let me see! Can I have some?” I was a little nervous that my sweet middle daughter, who chose that day to skip her still much-needed nap, would have a minor meltdown in the middle of the aisle, or worse, at the feet of the communion minister. But mostly I was worried about handling my littlest.

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I had practiced receiving communion during RCIA, but never using the open-mouth technique as would be required by someone holding a baby or small child (I think??? They didn’t teach us about this), so I wasn’t comfortable doing it that way. But I was scared that, as soon as I let go of Sis so I could properly accept the Eucharist with two hands, she would run off and do who-knows-what in the few seconds I’d need to, with proper reverence, receive communion. I did not want to take any chances with her running around people holding consecrated hosts and wine. Surely I’m not the only person to have felt this dilemma?

Let’s just say the second time receiving communion was a little bit different from the first.

So. You’re wondering, what did I do?? Well of course I held her hand as we walked to the front of church (she was pulling me with all her might the whole way). And when we got there? I pulled her in front of me and squeezed her between my knees to hold her in place while I used two hands to receive the Body of Christ. I am no artist, and I certainly cannot render a drawing like Heather of Mama Knows, Honeychild, but here’s my attempt at providing a visual of the moment:

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Yes. A bit different from the first time. But it was still just wonderful. I love being Catholic.

A Day in the Life – My Monday

Seems like the “Day in the life” posts are all the rage these days. I’ve read lots of them (like Grace’s, Kendra’s, and Blythe’s), and I think they are strangely interesting. I thought there was a link up of “day in the life” posts somewhere that I was going to throw my hat into (does that even make sense?), but now I can’t find it, so whatever. I’m going solo. Here’s my day (Monday):

4:57 am – I hear a door closing. Wake enough to check the video monitor and confirm that all of my children are in their beds. Lass is sitting up playing (hence the door). Congratulate myself for still having a video monitor on my girls (even though two of them are probably too old for it), which allowed me to not get out of bed to investigate door sound.

5:03 am – Curse myself for having video monitors. Lass is playing too loudly for me to go back to sleep. Turn volume down.

5:30 am – My alarm goes off. I say my morning offering and get out of bed.

5:32 am – Come downstairs. Look outside to see a completely flooded front yard. With snow. Water and snow. Consider checking the basement to make sure it’s not wet. Decide I don’t want to know quite yet.


5:33 am – Sit in my comfy chair to say my prayers. I can hear Lass playing the whole time and am hoping she’ll stay in her room for a while.

5:55 am – Make coffee. Experiment with different flashes (pop-up flash, external flash at a few different angles) for this photo. Decide I like the dark, blurry, no flash pic the best. It fits the mood of the moment.


6:05 am – Can’t find my phone. Go up to my bedroom to look for it. Find phone along with my husband, who is awake and reading a book that he cannot seem to put down.

6:06 am – As I’m almost back down the stairs I hear Lass open her bedroom door. I hurry down the last step to get around the corner into the office and not be seen. She goes back in her room.

6:11 am – Start reading Bible (Luke 21) by Kindle-light


6:15 am – Lass comes downstairs and climbs in my lap for snuggles.


6:19 am – Lass goes into playroom and I resume my reading, this time with the regular light on.


6:25 am – Hear Sis wake up. She doesn’t sound unhappy. I keep reading.

6:30 am – My husband comes downstairs and continues reading his addictive book.


^^ Notice the raised eyebrow. He is wondering why I’m taking his picture.

6:34 am – My computer is freezing up. I try to close and reopen my browser. It doesn’t work. I try other stuff.

6:45 am – My computer is still not working right. I’m starting to freak, because my time is running out. I go make another cup of coffee.

6:51 am – Plan to restart computer because nothing else has worked. Then I don’t have to, because it suddenly starts working well again. Yay! Check email and Facebook.

7:00 am – Miss comes downstairs.


She goes straight to looking out the front window at our snowy lake.


7:08 am – I’m trying to read one last thing (Today’s post from Carrots for Michaelmas) before starting into the business of the day. Miss is pouting and complaining because I’ve told her we cannot go outside and play in our “puddle.” (update on Tuesday- I started this post on Monday and am finishing it on Tuesday, so the Carrots post is actually from yesterday)


7:15 am – Miss is still pouting about not being able to go out in the water. She says, “Fine. Then I’m not going to give you any hugs and loves and kisses this morning.” I finish the blog post I was reading (finally) and go upstairs to get Sis (who is still happily hanging out in her crib). She says, “I poop. I pook.” Happily, she had done neither.

7:21 am – Come downstairs with Sis to see that my husband has cut his hair and trimmed his beard. And Miss has stopped pouting.


^^ This time he asks me why I’m taking his picture. I give him a vague non-answer.


7:23 am – My husband leaves for work.

7:28 am – I finally muster the courage to check the basement and find it dry.


7:31 am – I make breakfast. Oatmeal.


7:41 am – I call the girls to wash their hands for breakfast. Lass gets upset. She says, “I am not going to eat breakfast!” I remind her of our rule, which is that she doesn’t have to eat but she has to wash her hands and come to the table. Then she has a fit about washing her hands. I remember that she woke up before 5 am. The other girls start to eat.



7:47 am – Lass finally starts eating. She says, “Mom, I’ll try some before I say ‘yuck.’ Mom, I like this oatmeal.”

7:52 am – The girls are done eating. I realize that I have stepped in oatmeal twice and it’s stuck to my socks.

7:53 am – As I take my socks off and determine that I must find the spot of oatmeal on the floor, Lass comes around the counter with her bowl balancing on her hand trying to bring it to the sink. It crashes to the floor and breaks. She melts down when I ask her to help clean it up. I try to show her how to do it. She says she can’t.


7:59 am – We finally finish cleaning up the oatmeal, though I never do find the spot(s) I stepped in.

8:00 am – The girls are playing and I can hear that Lass is just out of sorts. She’s having a rough morning.


8:01 am – I go and try to give her some snuggles (which is usually just the trick for her). I’m flat out rejected. I get big snuggles from Sis instead.

8:04 am – Go back to kitchen. Sweep up the pieces of the broken bowl.

8:06 am – Clean up kitchen some more. Start to type a text to Super Friend. Get distracted by Miss asking me where the purple “My Little Pony” is. I tell her I don’t know.

8:09 am – Miss is screaming at Sis. I decide to let them work it out. They do.

8:11 am – Sis calls to me, “Mama, I poopy.” I don’t think she actually is (she says this anytime she wets her diaper too), but I decide to go ahead and round everyone up to go upstairs and get dressed. I change Sis and put her clothes on.

8:18 am – Miss is still not dressed. She says, “I am not going to get dressed until you help me find that purple pony!” I remind her how things actually work in our family. She gets dressed.

8:20 am – I unpack the girls’ suitcase from our trip to my parents’ while Miss and Lass make their beds. Miss gets upset when I tell her hers needs a bit more work.


8:34 am – Brush the big girls’ hair. Lass screams bloody murder, as usual.

8:37 am – Make my bed.


8:40 am – Go downstairs. Ask the girls if they want to start school now or in five minutes. They reply, “Six minutes!” They always say that.

8:42 am – Miss is still complaining that she cannot find the purple pony. She asks me to help her. I go into the playroom and point out to her that she has not yet looked in the most obvious place, where the pony would be if it was put away properly. I leave her to look there and go finish cleaning the kitchen. I clean three toilets (we have well water and our toilets get gross when the water sits in them when we’ve been gone for a week).


8:52 am – Announce that six minutes is up (yes, I know that it was actually 12 minutes).

8:54 am – Start circle time in the school room. Pray morning offering. Discuss Palm Sunday a day late. Read some Easter stories. Do calendar activities.


9:15 am – Get big girls set up coloring their Lenten countdown calendars while I go change Sis (who actually is poopy now).


9:20 am – Move on to a palm leaf coloring page. Cut out and staple their Letter Y books from two weeks ago while they color and practice writing.

9:29 am – Finish up school. Miss asks to do more. I love this, but I tell her we can’t today because we have to go to the grocery store and the doctor’s office. As I’m about to have them start getting on their shoes and coats, I realize that I haven’t even brushed my hair, so I run up to get myself ready to go.

9:39 am – Accidentally put blush on my forehead. Feel relief that I don’t wear a bright shade of blush. Wipe it off and cover it up as best I can.


9:45 am – Finish getting myself ready. Grab socks for the girls and myself and hurry downstairs.

9:47 am – Look outside and wonder if I should put snow boots or rain boots on the girls. Decide I don’t care and let them choose. They all choose rain boots.

9:50 am – I tell Lass she is putting her boots on the wrong feet and she spits at me Raspberries, but not funny, playful raspberries. I’m cool with funny playful raspberries. But I don’t do rude raspberries. I lose my temper and snap at her. She has a total meltdown. She wipes a huge dripping snot on her sleeve. I don’t have time to get her a different shirt. She says she isn’t going with us. She unzips her coat and then can’t get it zipped again. I feel like crap. I realize we have two big errands to run before she will get a nap. I take deep breaths. I zip her coat for her.

9:59 am – We are finally in the car and leaving for the grocery store.

10:12 am – I realize I don’t have time to drop the girls off in our grocery store’s childcare area, so they shop with me. They all get into being helpful. Sis develops a love for a can of beans, such that she gets mildly upset, “My beans! My beans!” when we have to put them on the belt to check out.

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10:44 am – We are back in the car after the fastest grocery shopping trip ever. I know I forgot most of what I need, but I’ll be back to the store later this week anyway, so I don’t worry about it. We drive less than a block to our doctor’s office. We’re early. The doctor is not.


11:15 am – We get called back to our appointment, which was scheduled at 11. My girls are getting tired and hungry (and so am I), and it seems like our appointment takes forever.

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12:00 pm – Miss gets two shots. Sis gets one. Guess who made more of a fuss about it?


12:18 pm – Finally in the car and on the way home.

12:32 pm – Home. I realize that in the craziness of getting melting-down Lass into the car, I left our door open. I say a quick prayer that there were no critters in our garage that have now found a home in our house.


12:45 pm – Put away groceries while the girls eat their lunch of leftover Culver’s and applesauce.


12:58 pm – Spill #2 of the day. Miss cleans it up.


1:06 pm – Lunch is done. Clean up lunch.

1:08 pm – Round up the girls and head upstairs for naps.

1:15 pm – Read nap stories.

1:28 pm – Sis is down for her nap. Start special time with Lass. She chooses to play with our apostle/Jesus/Mary toys.

1:41 pm – Lass is in her room for her nap. Start special time with Miss. She wants me to choose her activity. I suggest she complete the frame she started before we went to my parents’ last week.


1:55 pm – Miss is in her room for her quiet time. I change into clothes for exercising, turn on the heater in our garage, and go through our week of mail while waiting for it to heat up.

2:07 pm – Finally finish sending the text to Super Friend that I started in the morning. Clean up boxes in workout area.


2:10 pm – Go out to exercise. Do a quick warm up and set up for my workout.


Then get started:

  • 33 back squats
  • 15 burpees
  • 33 deadlifts
  • 15 burpees
  • 33 kettlebell swings
  • 15 burpees

Realize when I start back squats that I have way too much weight on the bar to complete 33 of them. Stop after seven to decrease the load. Proceed through the rest of the workout. Think I might die of burpees.

2:39 pm – Done with my workout. It took me almost 15 minutes. Make another coffee.


2:48 pm – Sit down for some computer time. Check email and Facebook. Look for something I need on the Elizabeth Ministry website (Super Friend and I are restarting the chapter at our parish). Don’t find what I need.

3:04 pm – Lass wakes up crying. She comes out of her room calling for me. When I get to the stairs she says her toes hurt. I suspect she slept on her foot funny or something. I kiss her toes and give snuggles. She goes back to bed, which I can’t believe. She never does that. Then I remember, she woke up before five am.

3:23 pm – Finish computer wanderings. Call Elizabeth Ministry but they are closed for the day.

3:27 pm – Pray the rosary.

3:45 pm – Get Miss from her rest time so she can practice piano.


3:58 pm – Finish piano practice with Miss. Get Lass and Sis up from naps. I have to wake both of them. One of them is not ready to get up.


4:09 pm – After lots of trying and failing to get Lass up, I go downstairs with Miss and Sis and get them started with a snack. I go back up to get Lass and try to give her a snack too. She’s not interested.


4:18 pm – My husband is home early! Hooray!!

4:22 pm – Get punched in the face by Sis. Give her a short time out. I suspect she enjoys it, but I do it anyway.


4:26 pm – Get in the shower.

4:52 pm – As I’m blowing my hair dry I realize I need to get going on dinner before I finish getting ready. I go downstairs and start getting stuff together for dinner.

4:58 pm – I laugh to see my husband blowing up Sis’s new birthday Rody with his mouth.


5:17 pm – Dinner is in the oven (roasted broccoli and this chicken recipe) and I’m back upstairs to finish getting ready.


5:34 pm – Downstairs. Dinner is ready. Have big girls set the table and wash hands. Eat dinner.

6:02 pm – Dinner is over. My super hubby starts doing the dishes.


6:05 pm – Say goodbye to the girls and leave for my last RCIA class.

6:25 pm – Get to RCIA. Visit with everyone for a few. Class starts, and we’re just having rehearsal tonight. Go through the whole Easter Vigil Mass. Feel a little bit confident I know what to do when I’m getting baptized, confirmed, and then receiving first communion. Feel relieved we will have another rehearsal on Saturday. I’m nervous and excited and kind of sad because RCIA is over and it has been fun.


7:46 pm – Home from RCIA. My husband has cleaned the kitchen and got the girls to clean up their toys. Sis has already been bathed and put to bed. Miss and Lass are finishing up their baths. I remember that my husband is wonderful.


8:21 pm – Done putting the big girls to bed (brushing teeth, reading stories, saying prayers, singing songs).

8:27 pm – Start uploading and editing the photos for this post.

8:44 pm – Putz around on the internet for a bit, checking email, etc.

9:06 pm – Start writing this post.

9:40 pm – Take a break to talk with my husband for a bit.

10:11 pm – Continue working on this post.

10:47 pm – Realize I am not going to get the post done tonight. Go to bed.

Whew! That was long. I have no idea if it was interesting to read, but it was fun to write.

Peaceful and Joyful

Today I had an acupuncture appointment. Each time I have gone, when I start the treatment, the doctor tells me to try to focus my mind on a time and/or place that is peaceful and joyful.

As I psychologist, I have done lots of work with clients on mental imagery. I’ve trained plenty of people to use it for relaxation. I’ve studied mindfulness and taught many people how to be mindful. But I’m not that great at doing it myself.

I can do it. It’s just not easy for me. So when I am directed to focus on mental imagery of something peaceful and joyful, I can’t spend 20 minutes focusing on just one scene. Can’t do it.

So I flow through lots of memories of peaceful and joyful times, picture myself in various peaceful and joyful places. I find it interesting to think about the scenes that come to my mind.

Here are a few of them:

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^^ The Farm, where we got married

wedding 039 wedding 021Several moments from our wedding day came to mind. Also, any time I’m in this guy’s arms = peaceful+joyful



^^ Every single time (P.S. this is an old picture, from when I found out I was pregnant with Lass)

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Hawaii 2010:

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^^The place we had breakfast most mornings

DSC_0027 DSC_0109 DSC_0050 DSC_0143DSC_0113The Farm. The day I married my true love. Finding out I was pregnant. Being hugged my my husband and girls. Our trip to Hawaii.The first time I saw/held each of my children. Seeing my girls meet their new sisters for the first time. Church.

I imagined myself in each of these places/moments and felt peaceful and joyful. It’s a fabulous way to spend 20 minutes. I highly recommend it (needle-poking optional).

What images make you feel peace and joy?

Motherhood in a Pumpkin Patch

Recently, I’ve read a few articles about moms dealing with rambunctious and tantrumming kids in public and getting not-so-kind reactions from non-parents in response (this one and this one, specifically). The articles are good reading, but the comments? Whoa. Almost 70 comments on the first one and over 11,000 comments on the second one. Apparently everyone has an opinion about how kids should act and how parents should react in public.


Don’t worry though. This post isn’t about how kids should act or how parents should respond.

I’ve been thinking since reading the above-linked posts about some of the hostile comments, both from parents and non-parents alike. There were lots of ugly ones ranging from some variation of: 1. “Spank them!” to 2. “Don’t bring your kids in public. Ever. And by they way, definitely don’t take them on an airplane until they’re at least five, you inconsiderate jerks with kids!” to 3. “If your kid has a fit and gets loud in public, take them home right away. Who cares if you have a cart full of groceries you’ve just spent an hour accumulating and no food in your house? If you don’t take them out of the store immediately when they’re loud, you are a bad parent,” and everything in between.

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Another general theme of the comments that stuck with me was this: “Just because someone doesn’t have children doesn’t mean they don’t know about children and how to deal with them.”

I agree with this statement. I know lots of people who don’t have children but are really great with kids. I was a psychologist, so I know plenty of people with extensive knowledge about behavioral principles, discipline, and child development who don’t happen to have children of their own. There are lots of great teachers and other people who work with kids and do a great job of it even though they don’t have kids.

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But that’s not quite what this post is about either.

The comments that stayed with me went beyond simply stating that people who don’t have kids can be knowledgeable about them. They added assertions that people without children know what it’s like to deal with a difficult child, have better ideas  how to handle them, and should not have to “tolerate” bad behavior from others’ children/”brats.” There was plenty of resentment that parents are overly “permissive” or “spoiling” their kids when they “let” them act up in public. Some of the comments were quite hateful (i.e. “because YOU decided to breed, does not mean the rest of us should have to suffer your obnoxious children”). One even compared children to chimpanzees!

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to gloss over the fact that there certainly are some parents out there who do not correct the misbehavior of their children and can be frustrating both to people with kids and without.

Because that’s not what this post is about either.

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I’ll get to my point (finally).

My gut reaction to the ugly comments about non-parents knowing about children and what it takes to discipline them was this:

Yes, absolutely, non-parents can be very knowledgeable about children.

BUT, no matter how much you know about human development, reinforcement contingencies, and/or various strategies of disciplining kids, you cannot know what it is like to be a mom in the moment your child is acting out in public until you are a mom in that moment.

I have certainly had to learn myself that having all kinds of knowledge about kids/development/psychology didn’t qualify me to judge parents in the trenches or even to be a mom myself. Knowing about something is very different from living it in the most highly invested way possible.

Unless you are a parent, you can’t know how humiliating it can be to have your child throwing a totally unforeseen fit in public.

You can’t know how frustrating (or panic inducing) it is when sometimes in the heat of the moment your mind goes blank and you can’t think what to do to calm your child down, or when you know that all the things that are coming to mind are not the most effective strategies.

You can’t know what it’s like to look back on a teachable moment and realize that you totally screwed it up.

You can’t know the thoughts, fears, and insecurities that run through a mom’s mind when her child is acting inappropriately.

You can’t know what it feels like to fear that your kid is going to grow up to be a jerk if you don’t handle this particular situation perfectly. Every. time. (Even though you know this is not realistic, the fear is still there, deep down).


It’s more than just dealing with a kid throwing a fit or otherwise acting in an undesirable way. It’s dealing with a kid doing these things who is also your flesh and blood and one of the most important beings in your universe, and, oh yeah, it’s all up to you to make sure this child grows up to be a productive and responsible adult. No pressure.

(Please note, this is in no way intended to insult or otherwise devalue people who don’t have kids. I love my non-parent friends, who are awesome with my kids, BTW.)

I’ll use a small example from this past weekend to illustrate a little bit what it can be like inside a parent’s head (at least in mine) when a kid is acting not so nicely in a public place. My kids generally don’t have tantrums in public. I can only remember this happening once, when Lass didn’t want to put her coat on right-side-up when we were leaving the grocery store last winter. But they definitely do sometimes act in ways that I don’t love when we are in a public place.

We went to a pumpkin patch last Friday. It was sunny and hot. We were all tired from a long trip and lack of sleep the night before.


We went out to the patch. Lass picked her pumpkin pretty quickly.

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Baby Sis even picked a pumpkin with no problem.


Miss on the other hand, was a bit more, um, picky. Not only did she reject all of the pumpkins that were enthusiastically pointed out to her, she pouted and whined about not finding one like her sister’s. She couldn’t find one just the right color. Or size. Or shape.


We were wandering around (and around) the pumpkin patch with my Mom and two of my friends from graduate school. Did I mention it was hot?

I was sweaty and tired and uncomfortable.

I was feeling guilty that my friends and mom were roasting in the heat.

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I admit, I felt mortified when Miss repeatedly dropped pumpkins on the ground and said petulantly, “That’s ugly” or “I hate it,” or stood and pouted without even looking for a pumpkin, because she wanted the one Lass had chosen.


She didn’t actually have a fit, but clearly she wasn’t acting very nicely either.

I had a small tug of war in my head that went something like this, “I love that she is so particular about things! She’s not going to settle for something that isn’t up to her standards and that’s good!” vs. “She is acting. like. a. brat! She’s never going to pick a pumpkin. And she’s just being difficult about it.”

So as I repeatedly went through the cycle of rising frustration and then talking myself off the ledge, my behavior toward her alternated between, “How about this one Honey? This one has a cool color. Let’s keep looking. We’ll find one that’s just right” and “Don’t just stand there and pout! If you’re not even going to look for a pumpkin, I’ll just find one for you.”

Of course, she did eventually find the. perfect. pumpkin. And she was thrilled with it.

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And I was left looking back at my internal dialog and external reactions to her and feeling a bit embarrassed that I was at times impatient and kind of jerky towards her while she was trying to find her pumpkin, knowing that she was tired and hot just like I was. Because although she was acting in a way I didn’t like, and it was seemingly taking forever for her to find a dang pumpkin, my impatience and frustration with her was not the response that was helping the situation. And in that moment, I really struggled to produce the response that would.

And although I don’t really believe that my Mom and my friends were judging me because of her behavior, I still had this teeny tiny little nagging feeling that they would think I was letting my kid act like a brat or that I don’t teach her manners or something else like that. And then I had a teeny tiny little nagging feeling that they would think, “Geez, she’s kind of a Jerk-Mom. The poor kid’s just trying to find a pumpkin.”

As a psychologist, I would call these “automatic (irrational) thoughts.” As a mom I have to combat these all. the. time.


I can just imagine if there had been strangers about glaring at me or my daughter or making nasty comments about her behavior or my reaction to it.

My kids are not brats, in spite of how they may sometimes behave, both in private and public. They are sweet, loving, delightful little girls. Most kids are delightful most of the time. A glimpse of a child acting “bratty” doesn’t define that child or that child’s parents.

There are lots of ways parents can react when their kids are unpleasant in public. And what is going on inside a parent’s head may or may not reflect what she is actually doing. I don’t think it really ever helps anyone when people make ugly comments or otherwise show obvious disdain in response to a child’s behavior or a parent’s response, whether those people have kids themselves or not.

My point is that you never know what a mom is thinking when her kid is acting not-so-nicely in public.

She might be embarrassed. She might be scared. She might be angry. She might be all of those and more, or none of them.

If you don’t have kids (or even if you do), please don’t assume that knowledge about children gives you an understanding of what a mom is going through when trying to manage her child’s behavior or that you could do it better yourself.

You just can’t know what it’s like until you’re a parent in that moment.

And though I don’t expect people without children, or anyone really, to give me some sort of special treatment when one of my kids acts less than perfectly in a public place, it sure is amazing when someone unexpectedly offers help. Like the nice woman who got a high chair for me when we stopped at Wendy’s during our drive down last week and in response to my “Thank you so much,” said, “I hope someday someone will help me out too when I have kids.” It’s such a boost when someone offers kind words of support, like my friend’s sister who said to me while my kids were running and playing in the rain, “You’re a good mom.”

Our day at the pumpkin patch turned out just fine.


My girls had a great time overall, and so did I.


Even in the moments when I’m not doing such a bang up job of mothering my kids, I’m doing the best I can and am always trying to improve.

Most parents are, and that’s what matters.