Monkey See Monkey Do

We may all be familiar with the saying monkey see, monkey do. Meaning some, most of us, emulate the behavior we see around us. Particularly if the person we are mimicking has a strong personality or authority over us.

This is never more true than with children. Every single day kids are acting like the people around them. Trying to figure out how to be in different situations. I think this is the most scary thing about parenting.

I know that I have some really great qualities. I also know I have some pretty great flaws. Like my temper (0-100 in about 3 seconds), the way I handle stress (I like to avoid it and tend to hide out with my shows) and my obsessiveness (once I start something it needs to be finished). I see all three of these things in my kids. My oldest is a snapper like me. The middle one is obsessive and my youngest is a teller too.

So those three little monkeys are my warning. I desire nothing but the best for my kids and that they would learn from me that things could be done differently. That we don’t have to always take every characteristic, good or bad, and mimic.

It’s hard to overcome what we observe and take into ourselves. But we can take steps to analyze ourselves and change the course of our direction with accountability and grace.



Questions needing Answers

Screen-shot-2012-07-30-at-10.38.35-AMOur oldest is just a few month shy of ten. He is an observer. Taking in the situation before he jumps on board. These past few months he has been jumping into the conversation with my husband and I. Noticing and picking up on things that we hadn’t needed to address until now. One of those questions I was asked in the car was, “Why don’t you and daddy get along?”

That little missive hit me right in the gut. I will be the first to admit that I can be a big time cranky pants. Especially at home. And the last year in particular has been difficult. I don’t hide my feelings. They are all out there. If I’m sad, I’ll cry. If I am mad, I yell. If I think something is funny, I will laugh. One of the primary emotions I have had for the last year is annoyance. Annoyance that I had to take care of other people. There was a lot to take care of in myself. I know that seems terribly selfish. But when I was in the throes of depression and processing deep hurts, I didn’t have a lot of energy to focus on my husband or kids.

These are things I am making better now. But, obviously, marks have been made. If my nine year old son can pick up on the fact I don’t have a lot of patience for my husband who has been nothing but generous and sweet and loving thru all of this emotional upheaval, than the effects of my processing have been noticed. My son’s question made a place for a conversation to be had. I calmly explained that it has been hard for mommy to be happy and just laugh off teasing. That there is a place of sadness inside of me that makes it difficult for me to just have fun.

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My son’s question has made me think about my own responses. I absolutely believe my home and family is the place I am safest to be upset. But I have seen that my responses to my processing were causing harm to our family. So now I take a pause. I go clean a bathroom or make something for dinner that has onions so I can have a good cry. It is not ok for me to take my bad day out on the members of my family.

You know what, all of this is ok. Because I have been honest about my feelings and didn’t stuff them inside, I have been able to allow my kids to have feelings to. I’m not saying we are a family of Godzilla’s rampaging over the city of each other’s emotions (although if you come over at four o’clock in the afternoon it might seem that way to the outside observer), but there is space in our home for people to be upset. There is room for someone to slam a door and take some time to cool down.  There are also places for I’m sorry and I forgive you to be said. We have to learn about constructive and harmful ways to process our emotions, because if we don’t know the difference it will hurt others. While it’s ok to be upset, it is NOT ok to hurt others to make ourselves feel better. These are the lessons we’ve been learning at home.





It’s hard

Random tidbit: I’ve been eating gluten-free for about a month now. And it really helps with how I feel. What we eat affects us.

It’s hard right now. It’s hard to do a lot of things. It’s hard to admit things are hard. Because more than anything, I don’t like to admit defeat. I never saw myself as a go-getter, as a scraper. But I’m finding I am. But that I fight about what doesn’t matter. And I try to keep things close that should be let go.

So here is my confession of what’s hard.

It’s hard to get up and exercise. Because I would rather eat brownies for breakfast and sleep in.

It’s hard to be gracious with strangers because I have so much of my own hurt and pain, I can’t see theirs.

It’s hard to parent fairly because I have little to no resources for my sweet little cherubs because most of my emotional energy is being spent working on my issues.

It’s hard to be kind to my husband, because I can’t even be kind to myself.

It’s hard to go to church because I always seem to be the one crying in the pew during the worship songs.

It’s hard to sing worship songs because I have doubt about my faith.

It’s hard to admit I have doubt about my faith in God.

It’s hard to say I have depression.

It’s hard to think I might need to be on medication for my depression.

It’s hard to keep explaining why things are hard.




Traveling with small kids is….

Random tidbit: the west side of Michigan really is more beautiful than the east side. I’m sorry to my home town, but you’re have come up wanting.

This past weekend our little family took a drive up the west side of Michigan to attend a wedding. It was a beautiful wedding. There was lots of tulle and fairy lights. The bride and groom were totally in love and happy. The in-laws all got along. It was really a remarkable celebration for these two youngins as they joined together in holy matrimony.

Going up to this wedding meant we would be in a car. For five hours. That number is without stops, so really it was more like seven hours. Normally this wouldn’t be so bad. But when you travel with a toddler, it can be a special kind of horrible.

Let me set the scene: it’s Sunday morning. We had eaten a light breakfast and the car is loaded up.. After a final check of our hotel rooms we pile into the car and start towards home. Now reader, let me tell you that we do not have a large car. There is no distance between the front seats and the back seat. There is no dvd player, but we do have iPhones that are used in extreme emergencies. We have traveled maybe twenty minutes when the screaming starts. It is not one loud continual scream, but intermittent bursts of high pitched sound that rattle thru your brain and down your spinal column. My husband and I jump with fright with each burst of sound from our daughters mouth, as we think a pterodactyl has somehow come back from extinction and appeared in our car. I curl up into a small ball on the passengers seat and my husband hisses at me to “Do something”. I pulled out the few books I had packed for our journey and threw them in the backseat for her older brothers to read to her. The child was having none of it. The screaming persisted. We pulled out the iPhone so she could watch a show. We gave it to the child in the middle seat so all of them could see it. This turned the screaming from intermittent to constant rage as she was upset she didn’t get to hold the phone. So the show went away cause we can’t reward negative behavior. That was the first ninety minutes of our trip. We stopped for lunch and immediately the demon spawn that had been my child melted away into our sweet angelic creature once again.

We ate lunch and then carefully headed back to the car. We achieved some blessed silence during the two hour nap time. Then we just let her have the phone to watch her show and then gave her the toddler game device while her brothers took a turn watching their show. That got us to the border of our home town where once again the screaming began again. I could see my husbands knuckles on the steering wheel getting whiter and whiter. Thankfully we pulled into our driveway just before we all burst into flames.

How do you handle long car rides with kids?


Being Replaced

Random Tidbit: I don’t like driving downtown in a big city. It makes me nervous.


I knew the day would come when my daughter would grow up and meet someone, but I never thought it would happen this soon.

It was a day like any other day. We were on summer break, the older two had played pretty well, but the youngest one was having a hard time. Her brothers were playing their Lego games and that meant she couldn’t be with them. I was trying to make dinner. But if you have ever been in a house with a toddler around 4:30 PM, you know that dinner can be, let’s say difficult.

As I was chopping up chicken for dinner, my daughter was trying to climb up my leg. This was not working for either of us. I looked frantically around for a distraction for my little cherub and my eyes lit on the magic black box in our living room. I washed my hands, grabbed my daughter and the remote.

I found Sesame Street on Netflix and this is where my daughter met her new obsession. There is a little red puppet on Sesame Street. Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He has his own show and line of toys. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about Elmo. He’s the love of my daughter’s life that she never knew she was looking for. It only took two episodes of Elmo’s World for her to have the opening theme song memorized. And now, when ever she see’s a television or my iPad she starts to ask for Elmo. And I fear that with every passing day her addiction to the little red fur ball grows.

I can’t really blame my daughter for the glee she feels when Elmo comes on the tv. He’s just so bright and sweet. Full of giggles and funny dances. He’s exactly what she’s looking for. Who can compete with a puppet dancing to a kazoo?

At least Elmo is educational.



To my kids

I subscribe to a blog called People I want to Punch in the throat. It’s irreverent and funny. Sometimes poignant. It usually makes me laugh. The author is a woman named Jen. If you don’t mind a little sass mixed in with a chuckle, I would recommend you subscribe to Jen’s blog.

Anywho, the bloggers husband wrote the following post to their two kids who are starting school today. My kids are also starting today. I thought the list was a good one and I wanted to pass it on to you. I might even print it off and post it on my fridge.

1. Be fearless. Don’t spend your life in fear of the unknown. You should not be afraid of the unknown. You should embrace the unknown as new adventures in your life.

2. Be strong. Be strong in spirit, body and mind. I’m not saying I want you to be pumping iron and do 100 push ups a day, but to be strong in everything you do. To be strong in mind and spirit and don’t give up on anything you try and to persevere through the difficult things in your life.

3. Be funny. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and with others. Having a sense of humor is so important because it will help you handle the stresses of everyday life.

4. Be careful. Be careful with your things, and your feelings. Take good care of your stuff because no one else will. Be careful with your feelings because they will get hurt very easily and a broken heart or a crushed spirit are the hardest things to fix.

5. Be smart. Studying hard at school is important. No matter what happens, getting a good education will serve you well in the future. Smart is sexy and it is never out of style. Nerds rule the world and they always will.

6. Be choosy. Choose your friends carefully. Who you choose to associate yourself with is a reflection on who you are and how you will be influenced. Be very choosy when picking a mate. Don’t just sleep around with everyone, make sure you pick the right mate because they will be a HUGE part of your life and they can either make your life easier or much much harder.

7. Be yourself. Everyone is different and unique. Don’t follow and try to be like everyone else. We are all unique and we should celebrate just how unique we truly are. All our differences make us who we are. There is only one of you in the world, you should celebrate this fact.

8. Be generous. You should always be generous. Generous with your time, your money and your talents. If you have more than others, always share because sharing is the right thing to do.

9. Be connected. The world is a big place. There are billions of people in thousands of countries around the world. Find your tribe and stay connected to your tribe. Being connected on a real level with just one other person in the world can be enough to keep you sane and normal.

10. Don’t be a quitter. This last one is important because to do everything else on this list you will have to work at it. Nothing comes easy and will require hours of work and dedication. Remember that when you want to stop something because it is too hard, that is when you must push harder and work harder. Quitting will never get you where you want to be. Quitting should never be the answer to anything you do. Quitting is not an option if you want to be successful.


Thankfully, Summer Ends

Random tidbit: Coconut milk- go buy it and use it in everything!

Over the last few months its been summer here in our part of the world. And it’s been great. The days have been long, lazy days. Spontaneous movie marathons and sweaty games of tag in the back yard were part of the weekly activities.

The only structure we had was our meal times. Without set meal times we turn into a pack of wild wolves fighting to be the pack leader. It’s all snarly and vicious until we get some food and then we turn back into our regular happy as a lark selves.

It’s been a really great summer. But all good things come to in end. And I couldn’t be more grateful.

The older two are fighting more and playing less. The youngest one is jumping into the fights out of boredom because I have run out of toddler activities on my Pinterest board. (Or I refuse to buy the [insert random ingredient] to make that perfect whatever that will keep my two year old enthralled for hours). It’s getting crazy up in our house.

I look forward to my kids seeing their friends everyday and I look forward to them enjoying one another because they have had time away from each other. I look forward to going to the store with just one kid.

I’m ready to get back to work. To get back into the grind of daily order. With school lunches to pack and permission slips to sign, bring it on. Because when school starts, that’s when I have a bit more. More time to think. More time to work on the gunk that needs to get out of me. I’ll have time for relationship building and serving outside myself. This is what I’m looking forward to.