Speaking their language

I am a huge proponent of the Five Love Languages. My primary language, especially to express, is gifts. It’s not uncommon for me to buy the kids something while they’re gone, whether it’s something they need or something I think they would just enjoy.

Recently, Ana needed new undies. Not the most exciting thing to buy, but I was tickled to find a package of day of the week underwear. I was unprepared for just how much she would love them. I really wish I had a video of the shrieking and bouncing when she discovered them on her bed.

She promptly took every single pair out of the package and excitedly lined the couch with them.

She was not this excited when I bought her a new toy, a new dress, or a new book.

This was easily the best $6.99 I’ve ever spent at TJ Maxx.

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Domestic Powers

I don’t really fancy myself an overly domestic person, though I’ve become more so since I got married. This year, I bought a rolling pin AND planted flowers by our sidewalk, so I figure that’s about as good as it gets.

Every once in a while, I’m struck by something we do or use for convenience that means Ana and Yoseph will never understand the “hard” way of doing it.

The biggest example of this is having a cleaning lady. My best days are the days she comes. I’m just so happy to come home to clean toilets, the smell of cleaning products, and vacuumed rugs. I realized, though, that having someone to help meant the kids weren’t having to clean out sinks or empty trash bins as often as they otherwise would. So we have adjusted our expectations of them to basically pretend like we don’t have a cleaning lady (and it probably makes life a lot easier for her, too).  So everyone wins.

When it comes to making dinner, I’m proud of how often Yoseph wants to help with cooking.

beef

Until the day this happened.

carrots

Completely confused, he asks, “Um, what are you doing?”

“I’m cleaning carrots.”

“Cleaning them with what?”

“A vegetable peeler.”

“What are you cleaning them from? Why are they dirty?”

Facepalm. I have failed this boy with my convenient, already cleaned, already peeled, bagged baby carrots.

Turns out, he thought it was pretty cool to skin carrots. Just wait until I buy him a bag of potatoes…

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Laid-Back & Flexible

Nearly ten years ago, I had a conversation with coworkers about what it means to be laid-back. I listened for a while and then inserted myself into the conversation, commenting that I, too, am laid-back.

“Oh, really,” someone commented. “So if you were on a road trip and had to stop for the night, you would just stop when you got tired and take your chances that a hotel room would be available?”

I scoffed. “Well, that’s just stupid. Why wouldn’t you book a room in advance?!”

Realization suddenly dawned. Ohhhh. Got it. Lesson learned.

So I may not be laid-back. But I can be flexible. As long as you define flexible like this.

Flexible

Totally. Totally flexible.

Maybe all children crave order, or maybe ours are just special, but these kids have responded unbelievably well to my need for order and systems in our house.

But the person who doesn’t get enough credit, or have any cute anecdotes shared, is Tim.

You guys, this man deserves a medal.

TC Wabash

I am difficult to live with. No, no, no, I don’t mean I’m difficult to live with. I mean I’m IMPOSSIBLE to live with. So much so that I lived alone my senior year of college because basically no one wanted to live with me. (I’m not entirely sorry about how that turned out, by the way.)

As the fabulous someecard notes above, as long as it’s exactly the way I want it, I’m totally flexible.

Sometimes I wonder why he hasn’t totally flipped out on me. It helps that he appreciates organization and systems for things. It helps that we have two bathrooms. And it helps that he is the definition of laid-back. But most of all? It helps that I married a man who BENDS OVER BACKWARDS to accommodate me. Seriously.

I have changed locations of the garbage cans three times in the kitchen. He just rolls with it. I freak out about clods of dirt on the wood floors. He doesn’t comment and just grabs a broom and sweeps them up. I want the laundry done a certain way so I overreact when he TRIES TO HELP AND PUTS CLOTHES IN THE DRYER. He just explains that he was trying to help. (I’m shaking my head at myself as I type this). I want beds made every day. So he does it if I don’t–and he reminds the kids to do it (on the off chance they need reminded–they’re so good).

Sainthood. He deserves sainthood.

Even as I type this, I’m incredibly embarrassed that I should be so unbelievably blessed especially when I can be so unbelievably unreasonable sometimes.

So my heartfelt thank you to you, Tim, for never reprimanding me for going to Target, for understanding why I only want to buy organic meat, and for continuing to love me even after I turned all of your hangers backwards so you would consider if each item gives you joy (from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). And most of all, thank you for trusting me enough to be StepMolly to the two cutest children ever.

TC Collins

(and isn’t he HOT?!)

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A Different Kind of Mom Guilt

The last few months I’ve found myself in a different stage of stepmotherhood: the stay at home part-time stepmom. I lost my job at the end of March (though disappointing, not entirely unexpected, part of the transition of Indianapolis city government under a new mayoral administration). The first month was busy, the second month was sad, and the third and fourth months have been kind of great. With some promising opportunities out there at this time, it seems this period is coming to an end soon. That has caused me to reflect on the guilt I feel for just how much I have enjoyed this unique time in my life.

I was beyond blessed to grow up with a stay at home mom. I mean beyond blessed. But in the generation I grew up in, the thought of staying at home is very taboo. I grieve if the women’s rights movement gave us choices that we then judge harshly when exercised.

I find myself at a rare loss for words to explain my thoughts on my current situation. I have loved having the time to do extra things with the kids–more baking from scratch, no pressuring Tim for “his turn” to make dinner or do the dishes, and the comfort in feeling like I have the time to adjust to adopting a dog (oh yes…more on that later). I also feel incredibly guilty for how much I have enjoyed this time. Most of my peers who are staying at home at this point in our lives are doing so because they have a newborn or toddlers. Or they’re home because they’ve lost a job and are really angsty about getting back to work. Don’t get me wrong, I’m anxious to get back to a paycheck and to being more “in the loop” about what’s going on in our community, but I have truly enjoyed these months.

But shhhh. Don’t tell anyone. Because that may make me sound lazy or unmotivated. Or pampered and princess-y. (Great article in the Scary Mommy blog about this). But I choose to think of it as God giving me contentment for this period of my life. Not just contentment–but joy. As a woman who was driven by her career for the first decade and a half of my professional career, it never occurred to me that I could be unemployed and enjoy it.

Our house has never been so clean and our closets never so organized. But you know what else? I’ve developed an entirely new level of respect for my stay at home mother. There’s no paycheck for clean closets. There’s no thank you for clean laundry or appreciation for floors that aren’t sticky. Homemade food truly does taste much better than store bought/convenience things and my time invested in that this summer has renewed my commitment to it.

I envy my sister who is a teacher and has a chunk of time every summer to anticipate like this. My other sister recently decided to become a stay at home mom and braced herself from the backlash of friends and family who thought she was “wasting” her nursing degree. I vehemently disagree with that language, she has made a brave choice in prioritizing her role as a mom. But there are many who judge her for it and you would be surprised at how many of them feel incredibly comfortable to tell her so.

But without full-time little kids underfoot, I do feel guilty to confess my enjoyment of these last few months. Alas, the time will draw to a close soon enough, the kids will go back to school, and I will go back to work. There is a piece of me that dreads having to renew the balancing act of home and work (heartfelt post in the Indianapolis City Moms blog about this). In a new way, I find myself committed to supporting the diverse choices of women with and without small kids, all of whom do what they think is best for their families.

No words of wisdom here–just a reminder that we all make different choices and that it’s really. really. hard. when there is so much judgment about our choices and what’s best for each of us. It’s been a good summer of reminders to me to be less judgy.

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Homebodies

During a rousing discussion of “what I want to be/do when I grow up”, Ana announced to the surprise of no one, “I want to be a vet!”

Yoseph declared, “I want to stay at the house like your keys!”

Certain I misunderstood, I asked, “What? Like my what?”

But my question was drowned out by Ana shouting, “And I want to be mayor!”

The conversation moved on to discuss important things like what was for lunch. Only later that day did I realize what he meant.

Keys

He doesn’t want to go anywhere when he grows up; he wants to stay home. Fine by me, Yoseph, you can stay here as long as you want. I’m all for it.

(By the way, the awesome key chain is from Silver in the City, but it looks like they may be sold out.)

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A T-Rex by any other name…

I don’t often take the kids clothes shopping. They wear uniforms to school, so their needs are actually pretty minimal. But recently, we were hunting elastic-waisted shorts for a skinny Ethiopian boy and so we found ourselves in the boys’ section of the downtown Carson’s.

“Look at this!” I called to Yoseph. “It’s a Tyrannosaurus rex. Pretty cool.”

TRex

“No,” he responded authoritatively, and with a bit of judgment. “It’s a T-Rex.”

“Right,” I said. “A Tyrannosaurus rex IS a T-Rex.”

“No,” he dismissed me. “That’s a T-Rex.”

Ana watched the exchange like a ping-pong match and smiled at me knowingly. Some battles just aren’t worth fighting.

 

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Weather Update

Kids say the darndest things, right? And as I’ve shared before, they have a knack for demonstrating what’s going on in the rest of their world.

For example, last week Yoseph revealed how well he learned his kindergarten lesson of telling the temperature. Out of the blue, he announced from the back seat of the car, “It’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit!”

Sure enough–a digital reading of the outdoor temperature was there on the dashboard, right in his line of sight. There’s just something about him using the word Fahrenheit that makes me giggle even as I write this. It wouldn’t have occurred to him to just say it’s 70 degrees.

Though after today’s, I wonder how well he will be able to pronounce his F?

Yo Front Teeth

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