The Fun Mom


Some days I felt like a pretty boring mom.

Clean, clean, clean.
Work, work, work.
Shhh! Stop! Don't!

There are days when it's just easier to contain my children, to keep them occupied and out of my hair.

I just get so focused on the work I have to do, work that I've let pile sky high, that I don't really enjoy being with my children. I just want them to leave me alone...

Then there are days when I can be a pretty fun mom.

I spend more time playing with my kids and less time worrying about all the little things in life. I choose to smile and do nice things for them, even though they often choose to be a little wild and crazy.

Today was one of those really good days. 

Recently my grandma gave the kids some monster shaped cookie cutters.

Cookie box along with my first attempt at a "cute" cookie.
Not so much...
My three-year-old took one look at the box and started begging me to open it.

"Mom, can we eat the monster cookies now PLEASE?!?!"
"Buddy, they aren't cookies. They are just cookie cutters."
"Can we eat the cookie cutters now PLEASE?!?!"
"You can't eat cookie cutters. You use them to make the cookies."

All I've heard since then is, "Can we make cookies now? Now is it time to make cookies? Can we eat them now? Mom? Mom?!?!"

So last night I stayed up late cleaning my kitchen and making a batch of sugar cookies knowing that the first thing my kids would think of this morning would be monsters.

I hopped out of bed at 7 am and instead of exercising, I walked to the corner grocery store for Karo and powdered sugar.

And by 9 am, my kids were painting their very own monster shaped cookies.

Of course, our cookies weren't anywhere near bakery standards. The cookies themselves were dense and a little dry because all I had was whole wheat flour. The icing was super sweet and sugary with not quite enough vanilla. And the decorations looked very much like I had preschoolers assisting me (although I'm not sure I could have done much better on me own...).

But they were our monster cookies, and my kids loved them!

As I watched my kids work this morning, I couldn't help but smile. There are days when I wish I didn't have to stay here and corral so many young ones, but not today. Today I am thankful that this is my job. 

I'm thankful that I can choose to make our days funs. I can choose to spend time with my kids. I can choose to enjoy my children, even when they seem like a lot of work!

Picnics in the backyard.
Riding bikes down the sidewalk.
Trips to the library.
Painting pictures (followed by an extra soapy bubble bath).
Running in the sprinklers.
Endless piles of books, puzzles, and games.
Snuggles on the couch.

This is the real stuff of childhood, the stuff that they'll remember and cherish. This is the stuff that makes life fun, and I can give that to them. Maybe not everyday, but hopefully more often than not.

Because it's through these routine experiences of childhood that I can really teach them the more important things in life.

Lessons in togetherness, sharing, kindness, and obedience. Lessons about their Creator and our Life Sustainer. As we do life together, we share so much more than fun. We share our hearts.

I know that motherhood won't always be easy and full of sunshine, but if you have time to make cookies today, do it.

The rest of the work will wait.

Just One More


I've always heard that the transition of going from two kids to three is the hardest for most parents.  Today I'm here to testify that's it true, at least for me. 

Just yesterday as I was sitting on my front porch watching my 2 and 3-year-old play in a pool full of soapy water while their younger brother took his morning nap, I realized how much easier life seems when I only have two kids to take care of.

There is this instant relief that comes from having one child safely tucked away out of harms way (and out of my hair) leaving me free to play with the other two.

Contrast that to just a few hours before when my husband was trying to get the kids settled in for breakfast. I walked through the kitchen, and I could just feel the chaos running behind me trying to grab me and bite my knee caps (turns out it was my 1 year-old). Life felt overwhelming, loud, and crazy.

That is the difference between two kids and three.

I mentioned this phenomenon to my husband, and he agreed that on those rare occasions he just has two kids life flows more smoothly. And the combination of children doesn't really matter much. Take any two you like and the chaos just seems to diminish 100 fold. 

The extra work that comes from having three children is rooted in the fact that I only have two hands. 

I have to make an extra trip to carry anything anywhere: plates from the kitchen, drinks from the fountain, kids from the car.

Likewise, whether I'm trying to get everyone through the parking lot or simply get them inside from the backyard, one of my kids is always free to run loose. I can only hold hands, carry two babies or grab two shirt tails. 

Then there is the waiting and the sharing that is inevitable in a house with three children. Whether it's teeth brushing, or going down the slide, or sitting in mom's lap, there just isn't room for everybody at one time! Someone is always waiting impatiently and rather loudly for something they need right now. 

But really I think the main challenge of having three kids (especially ones as young as mine) is this feeling of always being outnumbered. With two kids I can still pretend I’ve got in under control, but add that third child into the mix and suddenly there doesn't seem to be enough mom to go around. 

I read a blog post the other day by a mom listing all the reasons having only two kids was perfect for her family. She mentioned many of the things I did, the challenges I live out everyday.

And she concluded that having that third child, throwing her family off balance just a bit, simply wasn't worth it. Having three children was just too inconvenient.

She's right about that. Having three kids is inconvenient. It's also wonderful, fun, and worth every ounce of trouble.

I think sometimes our problem as parents is that we think about our future kids as numbers. We think about how inconvenient #2 or #3 or #4 would be if we were to open ourselves up to one more child. 

I recently read a Facebook thread from someone asking the question, "How many kids would you have in an ideal world and how many would you have in the real world?"

The answers were telling and surprisingly consistent. Most people's ideal answer and real world answer only varied by one (sometimes two) children.

It seems that 90% of the moms thought that in an ideal world they would have one more child.

Just one more.

As I read those answers I really wanted to ask, "What's stopping you?!?!"

But I know what the response would be. In fact, most people I know think having one more child is absolutely crazy, and I get that, because some days it seems absolutely crazy to me too. 

I know how hard, how expensive, how utterly frustrating my kids can be and the idea of adding another number to our mix is just plain ridiculous. 

But then again, it's not a number. It's a person. 

I'm reminded of this every time I get a chance to spend a few minutes alone with any one of my children. The noise dies down, and I have a chance to just hold them, rock them, and love on one of my little ones. 

As I gaze into that sweet face I ask myself, "If this child was the only one, would I love them any less?" 

Maybe that seems like a strange question, but for me it's grounding. When I focus my attention on just one child, I’m reminded just how unique and valuable they are apart from siblings.

Each of my children were created by God and given to me so that I could love them and teach them to love Him. They come with their own personality, and that makes them wonderful.  

God has a plan for each of my children, not just now while they are in my care, but a plan for their future, perhaps a family and children of their own one day. They will have people that will depend on them, friends, co-workers, and neighbors. These children will make an impact on the community around them. 

It's all about perspective. You can choose to go through life focusing on all those things that cause you trouble, those moments when you want to pull your hair out; or you can choose to focus your mind and heart on what matters most. 

You can think of growing your family in terms of another number, consuming your time and costing you money; or you can think about that new person, a baby you will love unconditionally, but also a person who will grow into a man or woman after God’s own heart.

Of course, I know that not every family can have another child. Not every family wants one.

But I know that no matter how crazy life gets around here, we'll always be open to the possibility that God has just one more child for our family. 

Because all of the best little people I know started out as "just one more," and I wouldn't trade any of them for the world. 

A Tour of our Home {What It Really Looks Like}


Life with three little kids is messy. If you showed up at my home on any given day I'd probably spend the first 10 minutes apologizing for the mess.  

I've kind of come to accept it. One of the blessing of the little years is that my kids are little. They love running and playing and making messes.

But just recently I was talking to some ladies with young children, and the question came up, "How do you keep your house clean?"

We talked about chore charts, daily routines, cleaning schedules and in the end, this is the answer I came too.

I don't keep my house clean. We live here, and as long as I'm blessed to stay home with my kids, we're going to constantly be making a mess! But there are things we can do to keep thing under control.

1. I have one BIG cleaning day a week, usually Monday because I have a few hours at home without the kids. Otherwise, I just clean as I have opportunity. I clean the bathroom anytime the kids take a bath because I'm just sitting there supervising anyway. I wash dishes during snack time and fold clothes during movie time because again, I can supervise while being productive.

2. I turned vacuuming into a game instead of a chore. In fact, some days my kids come to ME asking if we can vacuum. I have them help me clear the floor, plug in the vacuum, and push the button. Then I chase them around the room while cleaning the floors. They all love it, running, jumping, hiding, and trying to sneak around so the vacuum doesn't get them. I probably vacuum three or four times a week easily. I don't mind the toys all over the floor when I know the floor itself is clean. 

3. I make picking up toys second nature. When I'm sitting on the floor playing with the kids, I straighten books on the shelves and find missing puzzle pieces. There are always more toys around than we need, so I take those few minutes in between sips of pretend tea to pick up a bit. I'll admit my biggest challenge these days is Little Bears love of scattering things.

4. I keep our stuff to a minimum. I LOVE throwing things away and getting rid of stuff, so if there is an area of my house that is getting too messy too quickly I will gladly take an hour and sort through the stuff, reorganizing and getting rid of things. Less stuff means less picking up and more time to play! 

So with that said, here is my house EXACTLY as it looked at 4 pm yesterday.

This is my living room: couches, piano, and lots of toys. We chose to have no shelves or storage in this room because I like it to be clean and simple. When the toys are put away (which would take a whole two minutes), my living room is perfectly empty and it's wonderful!

This is the big kids' room. Their beds are behind the camera. As you can see, most of the mess is puzzle pieces and stuffed animals. The game of the morning involved rolling around in the big green bin and chasing each other around with stuff animals. 

This is Little Bear's room. Most days this is the cleanest room in my house. Usually when the kids play in here they are more interested in the three bean bags in the corner than the toys in the box. We have the crib pulled out from the wall just far enough that they can run behind it and hide in the corner. You wouldn't believe how fun it is to hide under a pile of bean bags! 

And this is the master bedroom. I was in the middle of cleaning this room when I got the grand idea to take pictures of our mess. Sorry you missed the shot of all my clothes on the floor. I can't blame that on the kids. It's all me. 

This is the kids' bathroom. Notice the pull-up someone took off and just left on the floor. I don't know who that belongs too, but it's probably one of the bare bottomed kids that are always running around my house. Why is it so hard for them to keep their clothes on?!?!

If you step out of our bathroom, you'll find this lovely view of our hallway. Notice the suitcases sitting in the corner. They've been there for over a week now. I hate putting away little kids clothes. They are just so small, and there are so many!!!

And finally, I bring you my dining room and kitchen. These rooms tend to be the hardest to keep clean.  It wouldn't be so bad if my kids didn't insist on eating every three hours and throwing their food on the floor and then not cleaning up after themselves. My only saving grace here is that banana smeared all over the floor doesn't really show up well in pictures. 

And since I'm being completely honest, I'll show you a picture of my kitchen. This mess has nothing to do with my kids. They aren't the ones who constantly leave cabinet doors open and forget to put the top back on the olive oil bottle. They also aren't the ones that insist on getting a new cup out of the cabinet every time they want a drink of water. That's all me. This is my mess, which is why I will be the one to clean it up. Eventually. 

So there you have it. This is my real house, with our real mess. This is what life with little kids looks like. At least this is what MY life with little kids looks like. 

I kind of like it. 


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