My Yesterday

I’m sitting on my in-laws screen porch tonight surrounded by green and lulled to my deep thoughts by a whirring fan and a distant train. The one who changed it all is sitting on the floor playing with trucks and coasters.

I often tell people that my life has been beautiful. I graduated from college and moved to one of the most amazing places on earth. My life’s most crucial years were spent on those wet, bustling city streets, winding through those mountain roads, sitting long hours in a quiet, shaded coffee shop pondering life and love and God in three different languages. It was perfect. For a young girl to find the strong woman inside. For a single girl to fall in love with her Savior- over and over again.

I tell people I had a good long time to be single and chase my dreams and see the world. Then my husband suddenly soared onto the scene and I found myself alongside someone with whom I could share life and dreams and the world with.

Then along came my little world – changer. Continue reading

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Tried and Tuesday: Ooh La La!

How to make RatatouilleI was planning to post a reaction to the Will and Kate baby announcement today, but at some point this afternoon I looked up from being totally absorbed in my kid and realized it was Tuesday.  I literally chuckled out loud thinking, “Ha!  When would I have possibly had time to try anything this crazy weekend?”  Turns out, the day was still young.  But don’t worry, that Will and Kate rant post is still on deck.

I could go a lot of directions with this, but let’s just say, I’m not really into French culture or cuisine.  My grandparents are Irish Scottish German English people.  Not a lick of French in there.  I never watched Julia Child, or if I did I didn’t know it… I was more of a Bob Ross kinda kid.  And when I visited France I was 100% tourist and probably tried out their McDonald’s.

So this morning when my friend handed me a yellow squash and reminded me that I had a whole bag of tomatoes sitting on my counter I was torn between groaning and leaping at the possibilities. Continue reading

No Peeking.

Sleeping

Not long ago (a couple months, maybe? I can’t remember) we moved our little Pickle into a toddler bed.  It was a bittersweet move.  I knew that not only was my little girl growing up, but that I was giving up my own precious moments each morning and each naptime.  Up until then, I could leave her in there alone to play and entertain herself in her crib.  Which she did most days.  At least twenty minutes or more.  Sometimes an hour.  She was happy in her crib, and I was happy in my own little world.  Moving to the toddler bed was a sacrifice for both of us.

Perhaps not coincidentally, around the same time we took away the security of her white-barred jail cell, she began growing increasingly wary of being away from me.  She became afraid of loud noises.  Alarmed by airplanes and thunder and something falling in the kitchen.  In other words, she got clingy. Continue reading

Mad.

I ran into a parenting dilemma the other night.

Not my first.

And surely not my last.

The Pickle was tired.  We were all tired.  And the next day we didn’t have anything going on.

So as we moseyed up the stairs to bed I informed her that she was not taking a bath tonight.  We were just going to brush her teeth and then go in and read stories.

Well…

she had a little meltdown right there at the top of the stairs.  Noooooo!  Baaaaaaaaath!  Noooooo! (something like that)

And I promptly ignored her and headed into her room to get things set up for night ops, as my military dad would’ve called it.  I didn’t mind a meltdown from a tired girl after a long day.  I also knew that once we got settled she’d be happy reading a book or two and then snuggling and getting in bed.

But.

She took the meltdown one step further.

Crying and wailing turned into angry screams and banging on walls and doors and such.

Well, I was having none of that, so I promptly instructed her to get in bed.  Go directly to bed.  Do not pass Go.  Do not collect two-hundred dollars.  Because she chose to be so ugly and violent, she was neither getting toothbrushing nor stories.  And I stuck to my guns.

We got her PJ’s on.  Got her drink.  And got her fuzzy blanket all up close to her mouth where she likes it and she quieted down.  During which I gently told her that it was ok to be angry, but expressing it in such an ugly and violent way was not ok.  I told her I loved her and I love to read stories and cuddle with her before bed. But when she has such a bad attitude, we’re both sad because we both miss out on fun stuff.

And after lots of hugs and kisses, she drifted off to sleep.

While I sat pondering for a good long while if I had made the right decision.

Anger is one of those tricky emotions.  One that I don’t think I will ever fully master.

It’s necessary.  It drives passion.  It brings change.  It clears the air.  It does a lot of necessary things, but expressing it appropriately at all times… well, that’s just elusive to me.

I grew up a fight or flight kinda gal.  Mostly opting for flight.  But as a mom?  Oh boy, have I got some fire in me.  Fire from somewhere that I don’t particularly like.  And while there are times I feel it is justified, most of the time (when it comes to my toddler) I’m just pushed past my breaking point and she ends up at the brunt of my selfish outbursts.

So as I watch her growling and grunting and screaming in her pre-verbal fire I can’t help but wonder how I can channel that in a healthy way.  She didn’t scream at me, she screamed in general.  She didn’t hit a person, she hit a wall.  She wasn’t mad at me, she was mad at the situation and she was mad that she wasn’t getting what she wanted.  As a toddler, there are only so many ways to express anger.  Not all of them are bad or unacceptable.

But by the time I heard her even, sniffling breathing and turned to find her fast asleep, it was too late.  I had already communicated to her, not in so many words, that expressing anger in this way was not ok.  But was it true?  Didn’t she do the only thing she could do?

She can’t exactly walk up to me and say, “Mom, can we talk?  What you said coming up the stairs really frustrated me.  Because I’m used to taking a bath at night and you know that getting out of my routine without a heads up kind of throws me off guard.  And it’s hard, especially when I’m tired, to wrap my mind around doing something different.  Could we talk about how you could do this better next time so I don’t feel so angry inside?”

No.

She can’t do that.

But she can scream.  And growl.  And hit things.

How am I supposed to train her to express her anger in a healthy way when I’m not even sure that I know how to express anger?  In the moment, how do I make the right choice to ensure that she will grow up to be a healthy, well-adjusted adult who is able to deal with conflict in a positive way?  Where do I draw the line between being the mom/boss and being the teacher?  Setting boundaries for her behavior and creating teachable moments within her behavior?

I know I can’t lose sleep over this.  I don’t know if I did the right thing the other night or not.  I don’t even know if there is a right thing.  All I know is, I want to do my very best… even when I’m tired or weary or distracted.

And I could read every book and blog out there about how to deal with anger in toddlers, but that would not change the fact that we are human and we get angry and sometimes we just need to show mercy.

Both to the toddler.

And to the mommy.

Tried and Tuesday: Vintage Sheet Ruffle Romper

You’ve seen the ruffled rompers, right?

Well, maybe not necessarily.  That’s ok.  They’re really cute.

Are made from light, stretchy lace.

And only look cute on little squirts who still have chubby legs and cute round bellies.

I would never wear a ruffled romper… or any romper at all, for that matter.romper inspiration

But I found this (pictured right) on Pinterest and immediately thought, “Oh my gosh… my Pickle HAS to have one!”  But of course, I didn’t want to pay for one.  Or for a pattern.  Or for the lace.

So I went sorting through my fabric and found a couple of old crib sheets that my mom had passed on to me.  I’m not sure if they were ones that my nieces slept on or actual sheets that my brother and I slept on back in the early eighties.  But I was hanging on to them to do something crafty and memorable with.

They have an adorable vintage design on them with teddy bears and ducks and the alphabet and little flags that say “Rah! Rah!”

Doesn’t get more vintage than that.

And since I hadn’t decided what I was going to do with them, I decided this was as good a time as any to get on that romper.

So I figured out what size my kiddo would wear.  Cut out a basic romper.  And then got to ruffling.

To ruffle my millions of sheet strips I used a simple tutorial.  This is not the exact one I used at the time.  That website is broken.  But this is the same principle.  Click and scroll down for Easy ruffles!

Of course, no one told me that sheet material did not ruffle quite as easily as I had hoped and I ended up pulling (and snapping) several threads anyways.  But hey, you live and learn.

After a LOT of sewing and eyeballing it, because hey, that’s just how I roll, I ended up with this GORGEOUS little romper. (don’t look too close)

RomperIf you recall, however, I mentioned that most ruffled rompers are made out of very light lace or jersey material.  Mine, however, is not.  It weighs about 3 pounds.

And sadly, my Sweet P never EVER had a proper occasion to wear it.  So it was never worn!

Until one cool September day when the light in my tiny living room was just right, and I decided that I WOULD get pictures of her in this romper before she grew out of it.  Nevermind that it is a very springy romper and we were embarking on Fall.  I captured this beauty and all my hard work.

And it now hangs in her closet.

A Billion Faces

taiwan scooters

Scooters at an intersection in Taipei, Taiwan -Nicky Loh/Reuters

I had the privilege of sharing about our life in missions with a group of children last week.  During my presentation, I pointed to a map of the world and asked the kids if anyone knew the population.

Some of my favorite answers included:

123, 402 thousand… uh.  Random.

1 million… also the population of the city I lived in for four years in Taiwan.

1 billion… better known as a quote from Austin Powers.

A Gazillion… possibly not a real number.

6 million (there must only be 5 more cities in the world)… but I gently informed them that the capitol of Taiwan had 6 million people alone.

No, there are an estimated 7.09 billion humans walking this earth today.

Why I am fascinated with these numbers, I do not know.  And this post is reminiscent of my post on movie end credits.  But seriously… I wanted to share this incredible slideshow with you.  If names scrolling up a black screen don’t humble you, perhaps this slideshow will.

Many of these pictures bring back fond (and not so fond) memories of living in one of the most densely populated countries in the world.  The scooters at rush hour.  The people smashing together to watch a concert or a sporting event.  The crowded department store.  The piled up train.

It’s hard to imagine this girl from Kansas once lived a life like that.  I grew up in a town of 300 people.  In Taiwan, the building across from us had room for 300 families.  No wonder I needed to drive my scooter out to the mountains once a week, take off my helmet and let the breeze blow through my hair.  It was necessary for survival.  And perspective.  And to get away from all the people.

So please, look at this slideshow… Be amazed.  Be thankful.  Be humbled.  You are literally one in a million (or one in 7.09 billion)

http://photos.msn.com/slideshow/healthy%20living/feeling-claustrophobic/23ku729v#1

 

Everything I Need to Know About Life… I Learned from NickJr.

Watching TV

And I’m not even joking.

I watch a lot of TV these days.  Probably more than I should.  But at least I can say it’s rated G.  Or… what’s the one just under that?  The one for toddlers where the voices are very sing-songy and the enunciation is painfully slow and deliberate?

That’s the one.

And you know, along with how to make ‘banana swirl’ and what the Chinese word for ‘jump’ is, I have learned a whole lot about the values in our culture today.

Have you ever thought about that?  I mean, seriously, what our children watch (our tiny children) is word for word, scene by scene, exactly what the American culture of 2013 values and feels is important to instill in a child.  Starting from birth.

True, it varies a little by show, character and network.  But let’s be honest.  There are some major themes- friendship, education, life skills, character and environment.  Yes, environment is a major theme.  A value.  Every show we watch has at LEAST one episode where they have to clean up or recycle or save the Earth or all three.

Different shows emphasize different themes, but touch on all of them at some point.  For example, Strawberry Shortcake is primarily a friendship and character show.  Not a lot of educational stuff, but there was at least one environment episode… oh, and the kids don’t have parents.  And there’s a baby that shows up on occasion, but not all the time, and we’re not sure where she’s from.  What does THAT tell you about our culture?!

Team Umizoomi, on the other hand, is primarily educational, teaching Mighty Math Powers to toddlers and young children… because apparently our nation is behind on math skills, so we need to start them younger.

Ni Hao, Kai Lan (one of our personal favorites) is friendship, character, and education… in Chinese!  Again, though, no parents.  Just a grandpa.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, though, is the most adorable little show on the planet, loosely based off of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood that I grew up with.  Here young Daniel Tiger teaches us about friendship, character and important life skills- like brushing your teeth and using the potty.  All with some super cute songs.  (shameless plug for Daniel Tiger… we love him)

So, according to my sources, the American people value recycling, math, spelling, friendship, having good character, and being able to use the potty.

Sounds about right.