The Comfort of Smallness

  I’m a city girl. I always have been. I’ve always lived in fairly large, busy urban centers. I love to escape to the wilderness, but the city is where I’ve spent most of my life. 

Some people say they feel small walking beneath the tall buildings that stretch skyward in a booming metropolis, but I don’t. Towering buildings make me feel large too, as if to say, “Look what humanity has built with our intelligence and our strength and our power, and I am among them with my own intelligence and strength and power!” It makes me feel proud. It makes me feel ambitious. It makes me feel zealous for work and activity and achievement. 

Then there are those moments when I escape the monuments of the city for the grandeur of the wild. Sitting in the midst of an expansive, untouched forest where creatures run savagely, or beneath the peaks of mountains that have stood for eons, firm and strong and timeless, I can’t help but feel small. I feel tiny. Infinitesimal. I realize in those moments what true grandeur is. 

There is such peace in the moments when I feel small. The bustling business of ambition ceases. The stillness is soothing. The realization of my own smallness is strangely calming, strangely reassuring. Burdens are lifted and make way for awe. And I drink deep of the beauty. And breathe in the majesty of the things humanity cannot create. I rest secure in what is beyond the ability of my hands to build. 

I emerge from these moments with a fresh understanding of my place in the cosmos. I don’t occupy a space of power, but of humility. The world does not revolve around me, and that’s the right order or things. I’m small on this Earth, and there is so much left to see, so much to continue to pursue if I commit to embrace the wonder. 

These are treasured moments. Moments I want to pass on to my children. Moments worth pursuing, when I experience the comfort of smallness. 

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Funniest Things My Kids Said This Week (Part 2)!

  Thanks to everyone for the great feedback on my crazy kiddos’ silly comments last week. I have decided to keep posting some of their comments on the blog to keep sharing the giggles. Kids truly say the most hilarious things!

Here are some of the silliest things my kids came up with this week:

  • 3 year old: Mommy, I make the rules of you. Just like you make the rules of me.
  • 3 year old: Mommy, you have daddy arms. 
  • 3 year old (giving me a hug): I love squishy things! 
  • 3 year old: Sometimes I make mistakes. But they’re fun mistakes.
  • 3 year old (about his dinner): Just put it in the trash. 
  • 3 year old (referring to my skin temperature on a hot day): I’ve never seen a mommy as hot as you! 
  • 6 year old: I only listen to you once a day. 
  • 6 year old: I wish I had a giant hammer to whack my brother with. 
  • 3 year old: I need a trash bag! I’m throwing away my brother’s toys. 

They’re endless fun!! I hope they never outgrow being so entertaining! What sorts of silly things do your kids say?

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To My Kindergarten Graduate

 I remember not so long ago, when you were a baby. When you were born, you changed my life in such a remarkable way, and you continue to change it every day. It seems like only days have passed since I would stay up with you all night in our rocking chair, soothing your colicky cries in the dark. But now you’re growing up. Every day I feel like I’m looking at a new person as you continue to grow and learn and discover. 

There’s so much that I hope we never forget as these years continue on, at a pace far too quick for comfort. 

I hope you remember:

  • That you’re loved. That our home and my love for you will always be a place of safety and security, where you’re loved and accepted just as you are and where you’re always celebrated for who you were created to be. You’ll always have my love to come home to as you travel on through life and adventure through the years. 
  • That you’re strong. That you accomplished so much this year. That despite frustrations and (many) struggles over homework and new challenges to overcome – you did it! Nobody else did it for you; you chose to apply yourself, to focus and succeed. You excelled in class and learned to read. You had your first taste of setting out into the world on your own. There were days you didn’t want to, but you did. And you grew so much and made me so proud. 
  • That you’re good. You know right from wrong. You have an amazing sense of justice. You know when others are treated fairly and when they aren’t. I hope you’ll never lose sight of what is right. I hope that you’ll always stand for justice for those who need it. I hope you’ll always champion the causes of others. I hope you’ll believe in good, even when days are dark, and I hope you’ll stand strong even when nobody else has the courage to. 
  • That you’re unique. There’s nobody else in this world just like you. You have unique abilities and purposes. Don’t spend any time trying to fit into anyone else’s mould, and don’t demand that others change for you. Celebrate who you are – your uniqueness, your individuality. I promise that you’re extraordinary. 


What I hope I remember:

  • That you’re big. And that’s okay. There will be times I need to let go and let you explore this life on your own. I need to remember you’re growing up and you’re capable. I need to trust you to be the amazing big boy you’re growing into. I need to know when to get out of your way and when to step back even though I want to pick you up and carry you. 
  • That you’re still little. In so many ways you’re growing and maturing every day, but in many ways you’re still my little boy, and will be forever. I can’t expect more from you than your age requires. Thankfully, for now you still need me and your dad to partner with you on this journey, to hold your hand, to guide you in the rough places and through the unknown. There will still be times like yesterday, when you ask to sleep in my bed all night after a disappointment. I hope to remember to treasure every one of these moments as they become fewer throughout the years. 
  • That you need me. That every moment matters. That you need my encouragement and enthusiasm and faith to help build the foundation of your confidence and character that will propel you through this life. I hope to invest in each moment we spend together. 
  • Who you are. I hope that as you continue to grow and change, I’ll remember you every step of the way. From the baby boy who wanted me to push him on the swings for hours on end, to the toddler who would only wear green shirts, to the schoolboy who brings home his artwork, beaming with pride. I hope all these moments stay treasured in my heart because I never want to forget a single one of them. 


Watching your kindergarten promotion, my eyes filled with tears. Happy tears, sad tears, proud tears. Tears of the infinitely many emotions that well up in a mother’s heart. I know that one chapter in our lives has come to an end, and a new one begins. I can’t see the road ahead or where the years will carry you, but I know you – so I know that whatever comes, you’ll be amazing!


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Stop Giving My Kids Sugar

  

I get it – kids are adorable and everyone wants to make them happy and see them smile. But please, I’m begging you, world, please, please stop giving my kids sugar. They think it’s a treat, you think it’s a treat – but I guarantee that it’s no treat…

My kids are sweet and loving and adventurous. See the picture above? That’s one of them after he acquired and ate some sugar. He’s insane. 

Before sugar my son is fun, silly, quick-witted and a pleasure to be around. After ingesting some of that sweet snack-time poison, he’s screaming like a banshee and hurling Legos at people while taking a toy axe to his bunk bed! Psychiatric lockdown-type stuff! 

Now, before you ask why I just don’t give them sugar & police their eating habits better, allow me to explain – I DON’T give them sugar. I don’t want to spend the rest of the day as a hostage to a tiny little maniac in my own home. 

Here are the top sugar sources in my kids’ lives: 

School:

Yes, I too thought the school would know better. They have a phenomenal physical education program. They have a daily running club, in which my child has run nearly 200 miles this year. Its brilliant. Or at least I thought it was brilliant until I discovered that the top runners are rewarded with gummy worms!

 It also seems to be someone’s birthday at least twice a week, which means cupcakes or cake or little goody bags of sweets. I asked my son’s kindergarten teacher about it and she said, “Don’t worry. I save the treats for the end of the day so the sugar highs don’t interfere with their lessons.” But that’s exactly what I’m worried about. If you want to get them hyped up on candy, please do it at 9:30 in the morning so you can live with the consequences of your poor decision all day. I only get a few precious hours with my darling angels every day and it’s so much more pleasant when they’re not bouncing off the walls and screaming at me before the inevitable crash and evening sugar withdrawal sets in. Now everyone’s day is ruined! 

The class newsletter last week revealed they had made ice cream on Monday, had a party on Tuesday with brownies and green popcorn, and I’m supposed to supply cookies for events on both Thursday and Friday. If you’re going to keep force-feeding the kids sugar, then please stop assigning homework. Because they’re not sitting still. It’s not getting done! 

Church:

Now, isn’t it enough that we’re offering kids the free gift of eternal salvation without trying to sweeten the deal with candy? My kids come home from their Wednesday night program loaded up with goodies after being rewarded with huge amounts of treats for the Bible verses they recite – and it just so happens that my boys have excellent memories. 

This is, of course, right before bedtime. Wednesday nights are therefore filled with pure, unadulterated chaos, rivaled only by the stress of Thursday mornings, when we’re trying to get two kids dressed and off to school while they’re detoxing from the previous night’s sugar binge.  

I’ve tried complaining. Everyone else thinks I’m a mean mom trying to suck the joy out of childhood. I assure you I’m tons of fun. I also assure you we have more fun when everyone is acting sane and I’m not battling two mini Hulks who are completely out of control. 

Grandma:

One day my son asked me, “Was grandma like this when you were little?” I tried to explain that, no, when I was little, if I wanted something sweet to eat I had to bake a pie — and then do all the dishes. Every time I walked into a room I wasn’t presented with chocolate milk and ice cream and M&Ms and Oreos and Popsicles…. But Grandma has transformed into some sort of sugar and toy-supplying magical fairy. She’s a rockstar. The kids love her. No mom stands a chance against grandma and everyone knows it! 

So while we do our best to wage war on candy in our home, we seem to be fighting a losing battle. Without fail, when they kids are having a particularly difficult evening, hubby and I will look at each other and one of us will ask, “Did they have sugar?”

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Quick Pepperoni Pizza Quesadillas

  
Sometimes my family needs a super-quick dinner or lunch. And sometimes I’m just too plain exhausted at the end of the day to make anything fancy. These are quick, tasty & the kids love them! (Because, honestly, who doesn’t love pizza or quesadillas?)


Ingredients
:

  • tortillas (whatever you’re into – whole grain, flaxseed, gluten-free
  • diced tomatoes (I like to chop them up with some garlic)
  • salami or pepperoni
  • cheese



Directions
:

1. Toss a tortilla on a skillet over medium heat

2. Spread on diced tomatoes

3. Layer with salami or pepperoni slices

4. Sprinkle with cheese

5. Place second tortilla on top

6. Grill for approx 45-60 seconds & flip. Grill another 45-60 seconds on other side.

7. Once heated through, remove from heat and slice.

Much healthier (and even tastier!) than pizza! Great as a snack or for school lunches too. 

 

Enjoy! 
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I Want to See You Be Proud!

 
It’s been a busy few weeks for my Explorer as his first year of school comes to an end. He’s impressed me incredibly this year – with the independent little person he’s become, with how lovingly and sensitively he’s made friends, with how much he’s learned and grown …

Last week he performed in his first-ever talent show, and I watched the shy little guy who used to hide behind me on the sidelines at birthday parties get up in front of his entire school and put his heart into a hula hoop routine he’d been practicing for weeks. He was brilliant! And he was so proud. He was proud of himself and it radiated. My heart was just bursting and my eyes were full of happy tears while I laughed and smiled like crazy, watching him on stage, so content and confident in who he is. The video I took of his performance is shaky – I couldn’t stop my hands from trembling – with excitement, with pride, with joy for this little person I had helped bring into the world.   

Today I stood in the back of the room again while he won an award. My wild Explorer was presented with an award for outstanding citizenship. And again, he was so proud of himself. And again, I was so proud of him. There weren’t that many awards presented to the kindergarteners – attendance, citizenship and reading log completion (and given that he was out of school for quite a few sick days and that I have forgotten to turn in about 40% of his reading logs – citizenship was really the only category in which he had any chance at all!). 

I know that the world around him may not always celebrate him. He’ll have times in his life where others will make him feel inadequate or inferior. He’ll endure criticism. He’ll endure hardships. He’ll inevitably experience failure and self-doubt. And my heart breaks in my chest so often for all the cruelty and callousness and cold in the world that he has yet to encounter. 

So in those moments where he’s celebrated, when his face lights up with pride and confidence and the knowledge of his own precious worth is radiant on his face – I’m overjoyed. I want him to carry that glow with him throughout his life, through all that will come; so that, while the world may try to break him, he’ll stand just as proud, just as solid, just as strong as when he had an auditorium full of his friends, family and classmates cheering him on. 

I want to see him be proud, proud of who he is, of how he was created, of his purpose, his uniqueness, his strengths and his abilities. I want to see him be secure in all that he is and all he can do. I want to see that expression of loving himself for exactly who he is on his face throughout all his life – and I want him to know that I am one proud mommy, cheering wildly for him every step of the way! 

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10 Ideas for Creative Play in a Splash Pool

A splash pool is a kids’ essential for cooling down on a hot summer day! Here are some ways to stay cool and encourage creative play while splashing away!

  1. Throw in some balls! This is a great way to add in play objects. Young kids can explore learning to throw and sorting colors too.
  2. Add a slide. We once had a splash pool with a slide attached, but it didn’t last too long. We have a lot more success using a play slide we have in the yard & setting it up to land in the splash pool. The kids love sliding down it and also love racing cars down into the water!
  3. Dive rings. Not just for diving in deep pools! Dive rings are fun in splash pools too. Try to catch them on your feet, wrists, see who can gather the most… Pick up a multi-color set and try challenging kids to compete to find the colors you yell out, “Blue! Now, red!”
  4. Include a sprinkler. I love having the kids run through sprinklers on hot summer days. My husband hates wasting water. We compromise by putting a sprinkler in the middle of the pool. It sprays water for them to play with and the pool catches most of it for further splashing!
  5. Make a science lab! Add a few buckets or bowls or items from a toy test tube set and get to work creating your own backyard science lab! What happens when you mix water with rocks? With dirt? With leaves? Mix and play and mix some more!
  6. Toy wash! My kids’ outdoor toys get dirty! Super dirty! This is a great way to have them clean and play at the same time. We like to make a pool car wash with some scrub brushes and rags and they clean all their sandbox cars and leave them to dry off in the sun!
  7. Underwater picnic:  On days when it’s just to hot to do anything, even play – fill up the splash pool, climb in and eat lunch as a picnic in the water! It’s a lot of fun and is a great twist on the everyday backyard picnic. A friend of mine even hosted a Fourth of July party one year where everyone sat in pools & watched fireworks!
  8. Ice cube hunt: Throw a tray of ice cubes into the splash pool and have kids compete to see who can find the most. Add some toys in too and make the hunt more challenging!
  9. Mud fight! This option isn’t for those who don’t like a mess. My kids can’t go long after seeing water before they want to mix dirt in with it. Embrace it. Get messy. This can be a ton of fun – and you can always hose everyone down before they go back inside the house!
  10. Outdoor bathtime! If a mud fight wasn’t the right option for you – how about a cleaner one? Bring out the bubbles and the bath toys for bathtime in the great outdoors!

Do you have others? I’d love to hear them! 

Stay cool & have fun!

 

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Mums' Days
Summer days

Kid-Approved Homemade Breakfast Bars

If your life is like mine, mornings are a mile a minute… or more! Getting the kids out the door & on the way to school can be pretty hectic!
I’ve been on the lookout for some quick, easy, healthy breakfast ideas that the kids can grab on the go! I played around with a few & this my kids’ absolute favorite!
Ingredients:

  • 3 over-ripe bananas
  • 2 cups raw oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  •  1/2 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Mash bananas in a mixing bowl.
  3. Stir in oats, vanilla, salt & coconut.
  4. Spread into an 8×8 parchment paper-lined pan.
  5. Bake for 25 min.

Done! That’s it! The kids LOVE them (and they’re very harsh critics of my cooking.) My husband couldn’t believe how delicious these are and kept asking if I was sure I didn’t add sugar.

The best part is you can tweak the recipe as much as you want. Raisins? Dates? Dried fruit? Almonds? Chia seeds? Why not? Go crazy!!!!

I like to whip up a batch while I’m making dinner or while the kids are in the bath and we’re ready to go for the next morning.
 

What mix-ins will you try?

Enjoy!   

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My Prayer for my Daughter

  

My dear, sweet Princess Bean,

The early weeks of my pregnancy with you were filled with all the usual prayers for your health and safety as your grew inside me. But I remember distinctly my first earnest heart-plea for you….

“Love God, Baby Girl….”

Love God. A simple plea from a mother’s heart as I hold you now, sleeping snuggled against my breast. If only you grow up loving God, then all fears I have can disappear. All those fears about raising a daughter in this ugly, broken and fallen world can fade away because they won’t matter.

If you truly love God as your creator, then you’ll always recognize your worth. You will know you were miraculously and wondrously made for a purpose, with significance and value and immense worth. You’ll know you were created to be unique, with gifts and abilities and passions all your own, that were put in your heart by a God whose plans for you are bigger and more amazing than any dreams you could ever dare to dream on your own!

If you truly love God as your master, then you’ll always follow the right path. I won’t have to spend countless hours awake at night worried about the decisions you’re making or the company you’re keeping, because I’ll know your soul is anchored deep in your Father’s heart. You’ll be willing to sacrifice for what is right and have the courage to stand up for the oppressed and forgotten and unloved.

If you truly love God as your Heavenly Father, you’ll always be secure. Always feel loved. Never be incomplete.

So, love God, my precious little one. Because that’s what will carry you through this life. It’s not easy. There are disappointments and discouragements and diversions. There are moments you feel alone and forgotten. There are moments your heart breaks, and your tears flow, and your soul aches. But love God, sweet darling, and you’ll have all you need. Know how He made you. Know how He loves you. Know how He holds you fast though the world may spin senselessly around you. Love God and cling fast to Him as your sole, firm anchor because He alone will never fail you.

Love God, my Princess Bean….

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The Makings of a Perfect Weekend

  

A perfect weekend:

  • Sunshine on our skin
  • The smell of fresh grass and flowering blooms in our noses
  • Wind in our hair
  • Smiles on our faces 
  • Breath in our lungs coming out in giggles
  • Rich earth beneath our feet as we run, skip, jump and roll

What’s your recipe for the perfect summer weekend? 

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