Good Days and Bad Days in Parentville

Parents of young children can laugh or cry at the chaos.

In parenting, there are good days and there are bad days.

The good day? We finally remembered to take out our trash, after forgetting it the last two times IN A ROW post-sleepless newborn nights. (We may or may not have set it out a full 24 hours before they arrived so we wouldn’t forget again. Behond, the lone DIAPER TRASH MOUNTAIN of Arlie Lane.)

Third times the charm.

The bad days of parenting? Dave and I are used to a lot of spills and messes. We really are. They. Are. Young. Children. It’s natural. It’s normal. It’s our life. But yesterday was a day for the books.

First incident? During breakfast, Esther yanked the wood blinds so hard (or more accurately she was swinging from the wood blinds like Tarzan’s cousin), the big wood crown molding piece at the top of the blinds came crashing down. Samson and Esther burst out laughing. Dave and I just took another swig of coffee without batting an eye.IMG_4579

(Sometimes when parenting young children, I feel you emotionally distance and detach yourself from the chaos as a survival mechanism.)

Second incident? At dinner time, Esther was chomping Scalloped Potatoes and Ham in her high chair. (Don’t be impressed. Someone made it for us. I cook nothing with a newborn, two-year-old and five-year-old. Yogurt and cheese slice yet again for the win.)

Suddenly, she reached over from her high chair, and slapped my iphone off the counter to the floor. POW! I tried to STAY CALM AND CARRY ON as I pulled the phone up. Yep. The screen was shattered in a beautiful spider web. Awesome.
But none of this held a candle to the day’s final event.

We put the kids down for bedtime at 8pm, like we always do. We thought they were out for the night. I stumbled into my bedroom like a sleepless newborn mom zombie and crashed into the sheets. I was out in 2.5 seconds in a deep, deep delicious sleep. Dave went downstairs into the garage – aka man cave – to work on a project.
Suddenly, I heard Esther’s two-year-old high-pitched voice mumbling something like, “I all wet! I all wet!” (Her voice is so high she literally sounds like the Muppets character Beaker).

I wasn’t sure if her voice was a dream or real. But when I distinctly heard “wet” repeated over and over combined with the sound of running water, I bolted out of my dark room. The only light on in the dark house was Esther’s bathroom. I was half asleep when I walked in, but immediately woke up. She had both sinks running full blast. And both sinks were completely full of water, overflowing and flooding the bathroom rugs and floor.

Like the level-headed, calm woman I am under stress, I took one look and started screaming at the top of my lungs, “DAAAAAAAAAVID! DAAAAAAAAAAVID! IT’S AN EMERGENCY!!!!!” (Unfortunately, he was in the garage, so he couldn’t hear me.) I flew down the staircase like a Mom Usain Bolt.

But I couldn’t get to the garage because the hallway was raining. THE HALLWAY WAS RAINING. I looked up and the ceiling was pouring water like a luxury shower head at a hotel. Our very nice, very expensive hand-knotted runner rug below was soaked.

I popped through the ceiling shower, like a child going bursting through a splash pad water spout, to retrieve happily ignorant Dave from the garage. My husband is athletic. My husband is quick. I’ve seen his catlike reflexes and proudly watched him compete many times. But never have I seen him move faster than when he saw THE HALL RAINING.

He shoved a big red plastic bucket underneath the ceiling waterfall, yanked the rug out like a boss, and flew up the stairs like a cat with it’s tail on fire. I followed, almost as fast, but more out of concern for the wrath awaiting my two-year-old baby girl, than for the thousands of dollars of house damage to be stopped.

The culprit was nowhere to be found. (Esther’s a smart cookie. She was in bed fake sleeping.) After Dave stuffed every towel we owned onto the flooded bathroom floor, he headed toward my darling two-year-old’s princess room with fire in eyes. He swooped her up on his hip, and she immediately started sobbing as they made their way to the bathroom.
Like a good defense lawyer, I started yelling, “Honey! She’s only two! SHE’S ONLY TWO! It was an accident!”

Dave: “SEE THIS, ESTHER? THIS IS A ‘NO, NO!’ DO NOT TURN ON THE WATER AGAIN! WATER IS A ‘NO, NO’! DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

I had to cover my mouth with my hand at this point to stifle my laughter. Because no matter how many times we correct Esther, she still says, “Yes, ma’am!” instead of “Yes, sir!” to Dave. Sure enough, through her sobbing, she yelled out, “YES, MA’AM!”

My man’s man hunter Dave, like every time, corrected her firmly, “It’s ‘yes, SIR!”’

Esther sobbing, “Yes, SIR!”

Good days and bad days in Parentingville. To parents everywhere, I salute you. We are in this together.

STOP AND SMELL: Parents of young children can either laugh or cry at the chaos. Let’s laugh! Have a funny story to share about your child’s spill or mess? Tell us about it on the Stop and Smell facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/LeahSpinaAuthor

 

Want more stories like this? Order my Leah’s new Amazon Best-Seller book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on her site here.

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The Battle of the Ottoman

Keep perspective in the middle of harried parenting moments

 

Baby Hannah is only five-weeks-old. So I nurse her minimum every three hours in her pink nursery. I’ll say it again. MINIMUM EVERY THREE HOURS, all day and all night long.

(Ladies and gentlemen, that is a commitment.)

When I just had one baby, nursing was a calm, beautiful respite from the busy day’s harried pace. Not anymore. Now I have a high-energy five-year-old boy and a curious two-year-old girl that are ENAMOURED with the process. They want to be within 2.5 inches from the baby’s head or bouncing off the nursery walls like Red Bull poster children.

I try to keep perspective. I try to remind myself how sweet it is that they love their baby sister so much. (I.e. During the day, they constantly ask where Hannah is. If I tell them she’s napping, they look like they just lost the lottery by one number. SO SWEET.)

(PS Is it wrong if I purposely hide the baby from the over-loving two-year-old for the baby’s safety?)
(PPS Is it considered LYING if I tell the two-year-old I don’t know where the hidden babe is? #ParentMorality)

But bottom line: it’s hard to nurse when you have two loud, jumping hooligans distracting you and the baby. I cannot bear to order them out of the room. But it is stressful parenting these wild beasts I made when I can’t enforce any commands because I cannot physically move. So I just threaten, like any level-headed parent: “Samson! Give Esther her doll back, OR ELSE!”

Last week, however, something changed my heart on this new motherhood challenge.
It was time to feed the baby. Samson and Esther darted in front of me to pop open the white nursery door, cooing, “Hannah! Hannah!” I tenderly pulled up the sleeping baby from her black crib, so deliciously tiny and warm. Baby Hannah arched her back, like only a newborn baby can. I set her down on the changing table, with Samson and Esther flanking me on either side, intently watching the diaper changing process on tip-toe.

(If it is a “number two” diaper, they explode into laughter and melt on the floor, giggling their heads off. Why this is so funny to them, I have no idea. I am a Jane Austen buff. I obviously do not exhibit or model this type of crude humor. *clears throat* Clearly, they must have picked it up from SOMEONE ELSE who’s name begins with a “D” and rhymes with “mad”.)

I sat down to nurse the baby in the same black wooden glider that I used to nurse Samson and Esther. I was dreading the usual antics: Esther and Samson fighting over who gets to sit on the gliding ottoman, WHERE MY TIRED FEET SHOULD REST. (Aka one of them sits/swings wildly back and forth on top of the ottoman, slamming the thing into my shins, until they violently fall over and crash it on top of my feet.)

Sure enough, Battle of the Ottoman no. 39484 began. Back and forth they argued over who’s turn it was to sit on the prized ottoman. Finally, like the mature mother that I am, I covered my eyes with the only free hand I had and yelled, “GUYS! PLEASE STOP FIGHTING OVER WHO GETS THE OTTOMAN. WE TAKE TURNS! EVERY DAY, WE TAKE TURNS! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE STOP FIGHTING OVER IT!”

Surprisingly, Samson popped off the ottoman like a jack-in-the-box, and fled the room. Esther greedily pounced back on the prized seat, rocking back and forth wildly. Then suddenly I saw the front of our massive brown leather ottoman plunging into the nursery. Samson was pushing it with all his might from behind, like a little white-haired Hercules. I watched with silent big eyes because, again, I can do nothing physically while nursing. He steered it in, right behind the ottoman.

“Wook, mom! Now I have a seat, too!” he piped, hopping on top of the gigantic, out-of-place piece of furniture.

There sat my blue-eyed Samboy looking up at me, with his little arms folded proudly across his chest. My tiny man felt he had solved the problem. Now everyone had a seat. Suddenly all the stress and tension of two high-energy children constantly mauling me while trying to nurse just melted away. Samson just wanted to be together and included. I looked down at my feet at little Esther. She was wearing her favorite pink princess gown and had fresh post-nap frazzled hair. My favorite part: her little, fat toddler hand resting on my knee. She, like Samson, just wanted to be together and included.

Yes, these are long, lonely isolated days. Yes, I am exhausted from caring for three little ones. But every time I walk into Hannah’s nursery and see that big, out-of-place ottoman, I smile. There will come a day when we won’t all be together, all day long, every day. So I’m going to enjoy these moments with my little wild darlings while I can. I truly wouldn’t trade these days for anything!

TAKEAWAY: Can you stop in your busy day as a mom to find ordinary, extraordinary moments with your little darlings in the midst of busy caretaking? Can you fast-forward to what it will be like when your children are teenagers, so you can see today’s beauty: like a little hand resting on you for security or your pre-schooler wanting to be with you? Remember to look for the good so you can truly enjoy the little years!

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Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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Hotel Life with Little People

It’s worth it to take ’em!

It’s the hotel life for these little cousins!

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(My sister and I birthed all these children in the past five years. Are you impressed, or are you impressed.)

We have been living in a swanky Dallas hotel thanks to my husband’s generous company for the past several days. (My sister’s husband and my husband work for the same company – bonus! Work events together!) These little ones are having a blast running through big open hotel lobby spaces, swimming together, breakfasting like kings at the restaurant, ordering room service like a boss (Me: what do you want, Samboy? Samson: “Um, I would wike Mac n’cheese, pizza and a hamburger”), pizza/movie parties at night, etc.

(However, Samson may be getting a tad bit spoiled. Yesterday, he asked me for water. Me: Go grab a bottled water right over there. Samson: But it’s not cold. Can you just order me a cold one to my room, please? Me: Uh, no.)

Two-year-old Esther loves to pretend order room service for everyone throughout the day, so we finally disconnected the plastic black hotel phone so she can order room service to her heart’s delight.

E: “What YOU like, Mama?”
Me: “Um, French fries and ketchup.
E: “Oh, tay! Tanks! Coming riiiiight up!”

(Picks up disconnected phone with the focus of an investor closing a multi-billion-dollar deal. Puts lower part of phone on ear so most of phone is sticking above her head like a snorkel)

“MA’AM! Need Fries! Ketchup! Ok?!?!? Ok?!?! BYE!”

Slams down phone back on receiver (favorite part).

Samson and Esther fight over who gets to use the “Magic Card” to insert and unlock our hotel room.

(PS When did Samson get so big to be able to unlock and then open a gigantic heavy hotel door by himself? Wasn’t it just yesterday when he was a baby and I carried him through these same hotel doors swaddled in a blanket?!? Stop. Growing. So. Fast. What happened to my tiny baby boy!!! ???)

When waiting for the elevator, each of us dashes to one of the potential eight elevator doors to see which door will open first – the family member that guessed correctly WINS!

After breakfast, we ride the glass elevator to the top of the hotel, looking down at all the people eating like busy ants.

(I love stop-and-smell-the-roses moments like these with small children! Yes, I’m downing coffee like a crazed sleepless zombie to off-set feeding a three-week-old baby all night long on an orange hotel couch. But crouching down by little two-year-old Esther each morning to enjoy the glass elevator view? Totally worth it.)

And although David Spina’s company graciously gets us a Texas-sized suite each year overlooking downtown Dallas’ twinkling skyline, the kids’ favorite part this year?? Pushing the button to flush the super fast, super LOUD hotel toilets in our room, over and over. It half terrifies, half delights them. Dave and I steal a silent parenting smile across the suite as we hear the toilet flush for the 48,824 time and little giggles spill out the bathroom door.

And that’s why, even though it’s a lot of work and energy to bring little ones on work trips, it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT.

“Enjoy the little things in life – like loud high-powered hotel toilets – for one day you will look back and realize they were the big things.”

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Late night swimming with dad

Late night swimming with dad

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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Grand-angels

 

Be thankful for the grandparent help when you have young children!

 

You know those MasterCard TV commercials where they cite the cost of items and then end with a sappy memory with a cost of “Priceless”?

Well, my parents drove ALLTHEWAYACROSSTHEWORLD to Dallas to spend the night and help watch all three of our kids in the hotel so I could attend some of my husband’s events at his company’s annual big convention. Yesterday, I returned from a business lunch, exhausted post long newborn night. But three-week-old Hannah would not nap, so I couldn’t nap, either. Each time I thought she was finally asleep, she kept fussing. Mom finally INSISTED I go into the other dark, cool, deliciously silent bedroom to nap and she would take care of Hannah.

I was out like a light in two-seconds in a deep coma sleep. When I stumbled out of the bedroom two glorious hours later, there was my precious angel mom that had lulled Hannah to sleep. (We call her the Baby Whisperer). And my dad was behind her at the dining room table, patiently giving Samson a terrific chess lesson.

So, yes, when you are an exhausted, sleep-deprived newborn mom and your parents take care of your high-energy children AND fussy three-week-old newborn and INSIST you take nap??? PRICELESS.

I truly have the best, most thoughtful parents….

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Later that night, they did something else spectacular.

When I was sick and couldn’t eat anything with Hannah’s pregnancy, Dave promised to take me to a fine dining restaurant as soon as I could eat again post-delivary. So we celebrated with a delicious, romantic dinner overlooking Dallas while my kind parents took care of ALL THREE KIDS a few floors below us in our hotel room! Hurrah for the end of morning sickness and kind grandparents!

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Everyone has different types grandparents. Some grandparents are uninvolved. Some are over-involved. But some, like my parents, are what I call grand-angels, sent straight from heaven. If you have amazing grandparents, take time to thank them for their support during the little years. I like to send a hand-written thank you note, text message, post about their kindness on Facebook to honor them publically, gift a manicure to my mom or just call them up, after they have been extra helpful, to let them know how much their support means.

Special note if you don’t have grandparents or have uninvolved grandparents:
If your grandparent situation is not ideal, remember comparison and complaining never helps. I know that is easy for me to say since I have terrific grandparent involvement, but I believe it with all my heart, in all aspects of life. Don’t get sucked down into bitterness over unmet expectations. Even if your grandparent involvement is minimal, you can always be grateful for that! (Some don’t have any grandparents living, or their grandparents live out of state.) If you have a very bad grandparent situation, you can at least take note of what would be PRICELESS to you right now with young children. Then, someday when your children have babies, YOU can be a “Grand-angel” to them!

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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Life with Three Kids, Age Five and Under

Real Motherhood, y’all

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We just entered the three children, age five and under “new normal” life. The baby is four-weeks-old. It is cray-cray. Here’s some little stories about the hard times and the good times of having three kids close in age! (PS Did I mention we bought a minivan the DAY BEFORE the baby arrived? Hee, hee!)

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You know what’s awesome about having a two-week-old newborn AND a toddler and five-year-old?
When I am SO TIRED after being up ALL NIGHT LONG with the baby, I finally lay the baby down for a second to pour the kids cereal….or lay the baby down for a nap and dash to grab something….and then the baby starts screaming. Like clockwork (as if I have no idea):

Two-year-old Esther comes bursting in with her big cheeks in my face: “BEE-BEE Hannah CWY-ING, MAMA!!!!! BEE-BEE Hannah CWY-ING, MAMA!!!!!

Me: I know, Esther. I know.

Samson yelling from across the house: “Maaaaaaamaaaaa! HANNAH’S CRYING AGAIN!!!!”

Me, covering my puffy eyes with my hands in desperation: “GUYS! I know, guys. I KNOOOOOOooooow!!!!”

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The next day Hannah was crying and everyone was trying to eat and I was starving (nursing makes me have the appitite of a high school football player.) Hannah was right next to us, laying in her bed crying and Samson said: “you need to get her mom!” (He was standing right by her)

I said: “oh Samson! I wish you could just pick her up and hold her for me!”

I think that is one of the hardest parts – I don’t have any older kids. It can only get better because they can ONLY GET BIGGER AND OLDER AND MORE HELPFUL, right? This is as hard as it gets, right? 😉

First time soloing it with three kids age five and under?
– Breakfast: cereal.
– Activity: watching lots of TV.
– Lunch: slice of deli meat, cheese and crackers.
– Productivity: nothing accomplished.
– End result: no one was harmed and everyone was fed.

Note wee babe in background

Note wee babe in background

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Nothing but hot, gourmet cooking here

That time you were so tired and moving so fast while the baby was sleeping that you attempted to put body lotion on your toothbrush instead of toothpaste

That time you were so tired and moving so fast while the baby was sleeping that you attempted to put body lotion on your toothbrush instead of toothpaste

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What do you do on a Saturday night at 7pm when your overtired, four-week-old baby won’t stop fussing? And your husband and five-year-old son are at a hockey game? And you don’t want to have to get everyone dressed and drag your toddler and baby somewhere to load and unload them out of the car??? Why, you load everyone in your SWEET minivan and go to Starbucks drive-thru, of course. The car drive puts the crying baby to sleep. The apple juice makes the barefoot, princess pajama toddler happy. I got to get out of the house AND got some espresso energy just in time for bedtime routine. I call that a win/win/win. Best $6 I spent all day.

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TODDLER AND NEWBORN COMBO PROBLEM:

The non-stop buckling queen

The non-stop buckling queen

Mamas of a toddler and newborn, does anyone else have this problem? The toddler loves to snap the infant carseat buckles together any chance she can get…so when you go to put the baby in the car seat, you have to unbuckle the buckles EVERY TIME before you can lay the baby in the car seat?!?! Kinda …funny, but kind of a hassle, too

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First time out driving WITH A FAMILY OF FIVE!

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(So strange to look back and see THREE children!!!)
Samson from the back seat: “Hey! We have as many people AS I AM OLD!”

Me, delighted: “Correct! (Dave, he’s so smart!)”

Samson: “And and and now there are more kids than adults!”

Dave, with eyebrows raised to me in fear: “Correct. More kids than parents.”

Samson: “And and and if we have another baby, they can sit here by me. But if we have ANOTHER baby after ‘dat, there is nowhere for the other baby to sit!”

Me: Samson, exactly how many more babies do you want?

Samson: I would like 100 babies.

You got it, buddy.

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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“Wearing” My Baby in Public For the First Time

The nitty, gritty story

Today I attempted to “wear” my baby in public for the first time.

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(This smiling, happy, over-confident selfie photo was taken BEFORE the deed, when I was practicing baby-wearing around the house. *insert wicked villain laugh* – BWAHAHA).

My earliest memory of baby-wearing was when I was an impressionable young girl of about ten-years-old. I remember only one woman that wore her babies and that was none other than my now dear friend Lynn Sneed, the mother of, count ’em, nine children. I distinctly remember her at the the Fort Worth Zoo with a wee babe mysteriously tucked away and hidden in yards and yards of fabric wrapped around her frame. To me, as a young carefree girl, it looked simultaneously intriguing and intimidating. She looked like the Queen of Sheba, shrouded in layers of fabric. No wonder all her many children followed her like obedient ducklings in a row. OBEY YOUR MAMA OR YOU TOO WILL BE WRAPPED.

Maybe the intimidating Lynn Sneed is why I never attempted baby wearing with my first two children.

Maybe it’s also that I wanted to be a hip, cool mom that didn’t get pulled down to unkept caretaker in public, sans make-up, clad in old work out clothes. (Please take another look at cited photo.)

And yet, after I birthed a third child, baby-wearing was suddenly VERY, VERY appealing.
So, back to my first attempt at public baby-wearring today. I DIDN’T GOOGLE OR YOUTUBE ANY INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS. Just cold-turkey left the house: just me, the wee babe and the maroon Ergo baby carrier.

(Fear? I LAUGH AT FEAR.)

I pull into the store parking lot in my SWEET grey Honda Odessey minivan. (Sorry for always using the adjective “SWEET” to describe my minivan, but it always makes me laugh typing it in conjunction with the ultimate practical mom-mobile.)

(Also, I’m up all night with a newborn so my vocabulary is down to a limited set of one-syllable adjectives.)

It is still sweltering hot here in Texas. I auto opened the sliding minivan door, like a baby-wearing boss. There was the baby. There was the baby carrier. And there was me, standing there, clueless.

“Well, the only way to learn is to begin,” I thought, STUPIDLY.

I mean, how hard could it be? A few buckle snaps and I should be good to go, right? Let’s just say that after about an epic long struggle under the beating sun, baby Hannah and I both were both sweating like Germans in a summer sauna (tiny beads of sweat on her nose, and mammoth panic sweat spots on me). After a solid ten minutes, the only thing that was snapped was the belt around my waist.

I finally scooped up the baby and the rest of the open plastic buckles and clips just hung off me, like dead snakes. I held the baby against my chest where she should have been in the carrier. Instead of using the baby carrier, I WAS THE BABY CARRIER.

(When I initially left the house for this errand, I had visions of me, the cool organic crunchy mom, gliding hands-free into the clothing department store. Instead, I crossed the parking lot like a frazzled weirdo clutching her baby with buckles and straps flapping down around me like a odd Hawaiian luau grass skirt.)

I dove into the store (true story) and laid baby Hannah and the baby carrier that I WAS CARRYING on the glass countertop displaying luxury gold watches below. (Bet those watches had never seen a baby carrier and sweaty baby on top of them before).

And you know what I did? I could have left with my tail between my legs. But, by golly, if you make it this far you follow through, come hell or high water. I took a breath. Regrouped, scooped up the baby again against my chest and made my way to a complete stranger: Kind Brunette Shopper.
“Hello, ma’am? I am so sorry to bother you but I am *awkward laugh” having a little difficulty snapping the buckles on this. Would you mind helping me?”

(Bet she didn’t anticipate when she left her house for a fun day of shopping that an unkept, no-make-up sleepless zombie mom would ask her to buckle a baby to her torso, mid-shirt aisle).

Like any southern kind lady, Kind Brunette Shopper giggled sweet nothings about how she remembered little ones while I quickly swiped my sweaty hair stuck to neck to the side, so she could see to buckle.
I shopped for 2.5 seconds and bolted for the door.

But when I returned to my SWEET minivan, I started panic sweating again. I mean. There I was in the hit parking lot again, but now I faced an even bigger problem. HOW IN THE WORLD AM I GOING TO GET THE BABY OR ME OUT OF THIS THING?!?! Kind Brunette had snapped me in like Fort Knox. Napoleon had an easier chance escaping Elba than a sweaty panicking mom escaping THE BABY CARRIER. After several failed attempts, the baby started crying, so I unbuckled the only buckle I could reach: the hip buckle. And then the baby and I slowly backed AWAY and OUT of the snake pit of mysterious buckles to glorious freedom.

Suffice to say, when I returned home, I watched this video clip 50-million times in a row on how to put on and take off the baby carrier: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=6SeOwBYCa3o. (I mean, the model mom alone is memorizing. She looks like a smiling, perfect make-up angel Baby Carrying ballerina snapping all the buckles with the ease of modeling diamonds).

Moral of the story: I WILL continue to learn and practice the elusive art of baby wearing, but only after some home practice.

PS: All my love to Kind Brunette Shopper wherever you are. You inspired me with your kindness to a stranger in need. Maybe when I am a carefree shopper someday, I can assist a sweaty baby-carrying newbie, too. xo

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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Unmask Your Child’s Personality

Study your child’s strengths and weaknesses while they are young so you can better parent today and in the future!

Last week, I was feeding baby Hannah in her pink nursery. Two-year-old Esther was clawing my legs for attention. But I was distracted by an odd, reoccurring sound. I kept hearing five-year-old Samson rip by the nursery door, running as fast as he could, over and over again.

Finally, Samson emerged into the nursery, huffing and puffing like the wolf on The Three Little Pigs. His face was bright red and beads of sweat stood on his little nose. “Mom! Mom! Mom! I’m running on my TRACK! I’m working out! I be strong! How many more times should I go?”

My husband, David, is training for a big biathlon in west Texas in the blazing heat. He invites Samson to join him for his daily garage gym workouts. So, apparently today, when Dave had to go workout at his real gym, Samson didn’t want to fall behind. So Samson created his own workout. He formed a special “track” – running on top of three leather couches, then jumping to an end table, tearing into the master bedroom, hopping over the bed and landing in a pile of pillows. Over and over.

I looked down at my little over-achieving, first-born son. “How about three more times around the track?” I smiled, rocking the baby back and forth in the black glider. Samson looked down at his hand and slowly formed three fingers to hold toward me, “Like this, right?” “Right, buddy.”

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When I saw Samson conquering his homemade track, over and over, I tried to make a mental parent note. Samson is driven and puts a lot of pressure on himself. I.e. when working on handwriting he often asks, “Did I do it PERFECT?” It’s obvious now, but what about when he is in middle school, or high school? He will still have the same make-up and personality, but I won’t see it as clearly. I need to remember Samson as five-year-old, to better parent him as a 15-year-old.

Young children offer parents a short, unique perspective into their innate makeup and personality. We get to see their budding personalities unmasked because they are so young. Wise parents (like you and me – ha!) will take note of our child’s strengths and weaknesses so we can better parent today and in the future.

Bonus: When we remember our child’s core struggles as we parent, it lends compassion and empathy instead of anger and resentment. Just like when we extend grace to our spouse, or vice versa, because we they struggle with an area in their innate personality and make-up.

Does your young child constantly seek your approval as a parent – am I big, am I the best, did I do a good job? Right now our children’s strengths and weaknesses are in our face, all day long. Is your child tender? Is your child strong-willed – i.e. future leader? They demonstrate their needs, we don’t have to guess. But they may not always be so obvious as older children and teenagers.

Young children give us a unique window of opportunity to see their personality unmasked. Take time to analyze your child today so you can better parent now and in the days to come.

Takeaway: Can you see your young child’s strengths and weaknesses starting to emerge? How can you help them grow in their strengths? If you see some weaknesses, how can you address that and help your child to grow?

Want more stories like this? Order my new book Stop and Smell Your Children: Laugh and Enjoy the Little Years now on Amazon here or on my site here.

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