Waiting Is Hard!

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is a new show on PBS.  It’s a spin-off of the old Mister Roger’s Neighborhood and I love it.  So do my kids.  Since I have a pretty strict TV policy in our house, I was excited to include this as part of my children’s programming repertoire.

I think I have learned as much from this show as my kids have.  I have learned that waiting is hard, getting mad is okay, and playing with people is more important than playing with toys.  Okay, so I might have known those things before, but Daniel Tiger reminded me of their importance.

This last month I found myself in a tough spot.  I was feeling very tired.  Tired of not having any time to myself, or time to work out, or time to just think/eat/sleep.  (Not to mention that silly depression came out again.)  So I thought, “Hey! You can make time!”  And I did.  I used my nap times, bed times, and any time I could think of to work out/read/eat.  Soon I was so exhausted that I was crying every night.

In the midst of this, I remembered a goal I made before Andrew was born to not worry about things like working out or having any “alone” time until my baby was at least 6 months.  By then, s/he would have a more regular schedule and hopefully sleep for longer than 2-3 hour spurts.  Sound advice, right?

But, doggone it! Waiting for that is hard.  I want to work out. I want time when I’m not surrounded by my 3 and 4 year-old or holding my baby.  However, Ben works a lot and we live too far away from friends.  Rather than banging my head on the door from frustration, I am learning to be patient.  It’s like when Amelia was really colicky. Though it was hard, I could rely on my previous knowledge of that period ending.  Guess what? It did.  Sooner than I expected.

I hear often that moms need time to themselves so they can recharge.  It’s true. However, when circumstances prevail and it just doesn’t happen or is impossible to realize, is it really helpful to dwell on it?*  To cry, scream, or thrown oneself on the ground in absolute frustration?**  I don’t think so.  This is where Daniel Tiger’s infinite wisdom comes in: while waiting is hard, that period won’t last forever.

Thanks Daniel Tiger for reminding me of this valuable lesson.

*I am certainly not advocating to do way with alone time, because it is important for a parent’s health.  I just think that sometimes it doesn’t work out that way and a parent doesn’t need to carry around extra guilt for not putting one more thing on their check-list.
**Though I certainly reserve the right to cry, scream, and throw myself on the ground in frustration occasionally.  Sometimes it just feels good.


Filed under Uncategorized

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Unless You're Sitting in My Living Room

Yesterday was election day here in the U.S of A.  Being the intelligent person I am, I gathered all the kids in the car so they could participate in the process by standing in an hour-long line with me.  To enhance the experience, I forgot the Halloween candy and interrupted their nap time.

As awesome as that experience was (envision my 2 oldest running and screaming in the tiny, crowded voting station and you’ll get the idea), it did not compare to the masterful mess my kids created in the living room that morning.

They followed an airtight recipe:

  • Two boxes of Legos
  • A package of Saltines crackers
  • A bag of dried Cheerios
  • 16 oz. of spilled water
  • 1 container of dress-up clothes
  • 1 container of dolls and stuffed animals

Which resulted in this:


The mess was – is – epic people.  EPIC.  (Sadly the photo does not do it justice.)

Which is why I will be spending my morning cleaning and singing Snow White’s “Whistle While You Work.”

Alright friends, spill it.  What is the best (worst?) mess made by your kid(s)?


Filed under My Kids

I Could Get Used to This

Amelia hasn’t stopped crying since midnight last night,  (at least it feels that way but I’m sure the truth is somewhere in the middle.), the kids refused nap time, and I ate way too many chips and drank way too much hot chocolate so am now feeling frumpy, tired, and yucky.

Rather than dwell on all that, I’d like to return to the cozy feelings I had yesterday.


I had a perfect day today.  It started this morning, after my work-out and before Ben went to work.

While sitting on my blue, flower-print couch nursing Amelia, she looked up at me with the widest grin, making cooing noises.  We chatted for a minute while her brother and sister were in another room playing with their dad. If I looked hard enough, I’m sure I would have seen sparkles signifying the magical aspects of that moment.

I still haven’t had a night where she’s slept over 4 hours.  Sometimes, if I’m lucky, she’ll sleep for 3 hours straight, but that’s a rare occurrence   Even rarer is when one or both of her siblings doesn’t climb into bed and wake me up with their jerky movements and shifting positions the rest of the night.  Each morning I look at the dark spots under my eyes and vow to not let anyone in bed with us, but every night they come to the edge of my bed crying, “Mommy, I need you,” and I scoot over so they can sleep next to me, unable to refuse their sad faces.

I also can’t place Amelia in a crib yet, partly because of her siblings’ delight in throwing items in with her, partly because she whimpers and cries if I put her in there, but mostly because I really enjoy snuggling with her at night.

Sleepless nights are not my enemy anymore.

After I took Emily to preschool, I sat with Andrew and read story after story.  We played blocks and giggled as his fire truck repeatedly knocked over the towers we built.  Once we picked Emily up from preschool, we came home and ate a snack together. The kids then went to their room and played while I laid down with Amelia and watched her beautiful face smile and listened to her coo.  At one point she stared straight into my eyes for a full minute, until she noticed the overhead fan. I might have gasped.

The kids refused a nap and I didn’t have the energy to fight, so they played while I cleaned and wrote.  I’m sure I felt tugs of sleepiness in the corners of my eyes, but I didn’t feel overpowered by them.  Instead, I basked in their sweet noises and conversations.

I listened as Emily created an imaginary world using their toy boxes, her dress-up clothes, and the cheap plastic McDonald’s figurines they managed to sneak past the open grimace of our black trash can.  Andrew zoomed around the room with his big fire truck, carrying his “pink horsey” to and from danger.  Amelia snoozed on the bed, occasionally letting sleep moans and sighs escape her rose-colored lips.

I drank it all in.

This parenting gig, with all its fluctuations from perfect to crazy, is a thrilling ride.  I can’t remember one boring moment – okay, there was that one month – and I also can’t remember not feeling both overwhelmed and grateful that I, imperfect me, get to parent these delightful sweethearts.  I think that as I’ve dropped the expectations I created from reading parenting books and on-line resources on How Not to Ruin Your Children’s Lives – which seems to be the basic theme behind every parenting article that endorses one idea over another – I’ve really embraced the fun aspects of it.  Parenting is no longer scary.


Filed under Reflections

Choosing Relationships Over Belief Systems: An Apology

Knowledge should be shared.  At least that’s what I’ve always thought.  Surely, if I learn something new, I should spread my newly found truth far and wide.

Last year, when I had my crisis of faith, I read and listened to everything I could regarding the religion I grew up in.  And, upon doing so, I felt sad for those living in ignorance so I decided to “educate” them.

I once had an associate that often corrected me when I expressed any opinion.  From innocent remarks like mentioning my favorite colors were pink and yellow – “those are typical colors for females to like, perhaps you should reconsider” – to recounting my mishaps in parenting “hm, if I were a parent, I would have done it this way” – this person’s snide commentary often left me feeling small and worthless.

In a similar fashion, my newly discovered knowledge on religions in general and Mormonism specifically often led to unintended criticisms of my family, friends, and associates when they brought up any religious theme.   I became that associate the people did not wish to converse with because I denigrated rather than uplifted.  People were uncomfortable in my presence and by my writing.

Emily and Andrew have sibling fights daily. Usually they argue over who can play with a particular toy or who can sit/lay next to me or Ben.  During these tense moments, I remind them that they are brother and sister.  It’s natural to have disagreements but they need not let material things ruin their relationship. Apologies ensue and they return to playing happily together.

I know that some people disagree with me politically and spiritually. I am sure that people also disagree with how I parent.   But that’s okay.  Letting that get in the way of positive relationships by criticizing another for how they think or feel – rather than discussing a specific idea – is harmful and doesn’t align with my religion of compassion.  Basically, I’m letting material ideas get in the way of relationships.

So, I’m sorry.  I’m sorry to my parents, friends, and associates for making cruel remarks about their belief systems.  I’m sorry for alienating people by assuming their faith is based on falsehoods and that I need to educate them.

I’m sorry.

I hope that in our world, in which we are ever evolving into people who put aside belief systems to nourish friendships and familial relationships, I can have thoughtful discussions with people about their belief systems.  I also hope that forgiveness and a renewal of friendships is possible.


Filed under Religion

The Day I Couldn't Stop Crying

When I reached the third trimester of Amelia’s pregnancy, and started preparing for the birth, I began yearning for the peace of the hospital room.  I have many friends who prefer home births because they find it more serene than the hustling hospital birth.  I understand.  But, for me, the hospital is much more relaxing because it means space and time to myself and being served – literally – 24/7.

Once I had Amelia, and settled into the room, I didn’t want to leave. It was peaceful. I had meals brought to me.  I spent 24/7 holding my infant.  It was heaven.

On the day before I was to go home, I started crying and I couldn’t stop.

I haven’t told very many people about this event because as much as I fight against the stigma of depression/anxiety/everyothermentalillness, I know it still exists.  I also don’t want sympathy or cries of “I didn’t know, I would have helped!” because there really isn’t much a person could do to help, or “so glad you’re feeling better!”  because I don’t ever get better.  The sadness/worry is always hovering above my head waiting until THAT moment to rain down.

As the nurses tried to comfort me, I cried even more.  How could I explain to them that I didn’t want to go home?  That I wanted to stay in the hospital for months?

My reasons for crying were legion: returning to our tiny apartment that always hovered near 100 degrees during that hot summer; having to surrender laundry duties to Ben because we don’t have a washer and dryer; having 3 flights of stairs (or 52 steps) separate me from the rest of the world; having all my friends live too far away to visit without a car; being alone with my kids for 10-14 hours a day when Ben returned to work; and not being able to take the kids outside to run around because we don’t have a yard (that’s safe) and don’t have parks nearby.

I continued crying throughout the rest of my hospital stay and for the whole day I was home with Ben before he returned to work.


When I think of wanting to stay in a little hospital bed surrounded by machines, instead of home with my dear husband and sweet children, I wonder what was wrong with me.

Except I know.

I know that my fears weren’t unfounded.  Heck, Amelia is almost 3 months now and I still wake up with that fear clutching my heart and those suffocating feelings of can I really do this today?

These feelings aren’t because I have three children.  It’s because we, the kids and I, are stuck; with no car, no parks, and no friends close by we quickly grow tired of each other.

But, unlike the other periods of suffocating postpartum depression, I have insight and perspective.  I also have hope – even if it is fleeting.  I know that this time really will end.  In 4.5 months we will move from this place with it’s 52 steps and isolating location.  We will find somewhere that allows us to stretch, to walk, and to interact with people who will, hopefully, become lifelong friends.

Yes. Light seeps through the darkness.


Filed under Uncategorized

A Greener Neighborhood

We’ve lived in Missouri for over a year now.  In that year, we moved from a huge townhouse in a small town to a tiny (third floor) apartment in a large city.  While I prefer the large townhouse, I don’t exactly miss the small town.  In cities, it is easier to walk around town.  Our current location does not afford that.   After a year of being forced to drive places (because of poor sidewalk systems and large hills that separate me from my destinations), I realize how important walking/biking is to me.

When we lived in Utah, we lived in an apartment that was within walking distance of several parks, stores, doctors’ offices, downtown restaurants, the local library and schools.  After I had Andrew, I started to walk everywhere to cope with postpartum depression and it grew on me. So when we decided to cut our gas budget in half, just enough to transport Ben to work and back, I learned to use my stroller to get everywhere.  I went over a year without using a car except for big shopping trips and when we needed to get somewhere that was further away than 2 miles.

This kept me and the kids healthy. We slept better, ate better, and felt better because we were outside for the majority of the day.

I miss that.

Since we’ll be moving in less than 5 months, I am keeping my eyes and ears open for the best locations to move to.  I am looking for homes with good schools, parks, and stores – all within walking distance.  I’d like to use my stroller again.

Is walking important to you?  Do you prefer it over driving your car?  What do you think about planning green communities that will, hopefully, limit the amount a person needs to drive? 


Filed under stuff

The Complexity of Grief

As I stand outside, the cold wind sneaks through my jacket, causing the hairs on my arms to raise and my body to shiver involuntarily.  The glades of the grass glisten with frozen water drops and I hear the soft crunch, crunch of cold grass folding under my children’s running feet.  I tighten the blanket that holds Amelia’s little body and bring her closer to me.

The wind stirs up a memory deep inside as the tears make a path down my cheeks.  Gasping, I remember.  September 8 marks the 2nd year anniversary of my second miscarriage.  In another month, the first year anniversary of miscarriage # 4 will also come and go. Conflicted, I hold Amelia – my miracle – close and wonder about the complexity of grief.


“Your miscarriages have changed you,” Ben tells me one night as I remind him of these anniversaries.  “Since having them, you see the world through a different lens.”

He’s right.  I am no longer afraid of death.

When my grandmother passed away, I wondered why I didn’t cry tears of sadness.  At the time, I felt I had cried too many tears over the last year that I didn’t have any grief left inside.  I recognize now that there was a different reason.  My grandma struggled for years with Parkinson’s disease.  Her mind quickly gave way to dementia and she was no longer the Grandma Alice I grew up with.  Her passing indicated that her time on Earth had ended but her time elsewhere had begun.  (I like to think of her dancing with the clouds, as graceful as she once was.) This will happen to me, to my dear Ben, and to my much loved children. Naturally, like all parents, I hope my children outlive me.  But I understand all too well how my hopes don’t always match with reality.


Amelia is my miracle, I don’t doubt that. Yet when I think of her, I wonder how this happened.  I have far too many friends who suffer through recurrent miscarriages and heartbreaking infertility in which answers are unlikely.  So why did I suddenly have a healthy pregnancy that ended with a healthy, beautiful infant?  I didn’t deserve it more than my other friends whose hearts are hurting and whose wombs are barren.  I also don’t believe that if God exists he selectively chooses who he’ll heal.


Creak, Creak

The rocking chair sings a lullaby with me as I rock Amelia to sleep.  The words to her song flow from my lips as the melody calms her shaking body.  She is sick and tired and just wants to rest, but doesn’t know how to sleep through pain.

I longingly look at my bed.  Emily and Andrew are sprawled out while Ben is huddled at the edge, clutching at the blankets the kids have not taken.  I smile, despite my exhaustion, and think about how quickly time passes.  Soon the long nights will end and Amelia will look as grown-up as her older siblings.

I suppose perspective mixed with grieving is a great anecdote to sleep-deprived panic, though I wouldn’t suggest it to anyone.


Filed under miscarriage

{Messy Parenting} The Transition to Three

Going from two to three kids has not been the easiest transition; nor has it been the most difficult.

Emily and Andrew interpret nursing time to be house-trashing time.  It’s also, apparently, prime time for trouble-making – like taking baths in the sink, finding and destroying my make-up, ripping books, coloring in books, emptying out drawers, cracking eggs, etc.  Going out of the house requires an inordinate amount of time directing and redirecting the other two with my voice as my hands are usually full.

The infant part is not hard.

Having Amelia has changed my life.  From the very first heart beat to the final push of labor I worried I would lose her.  I couldn’t imagine my body keeping this baby after it had spontaneously aborted 4 previous pregnancies.  As silly as it sounds, I could not convince my brain that the pregnancy would be okay. I suppose having all those losses convinced me that having another baby was impossible.

Yet, here she is.  My miracle baby.

I get the baby stage.  I get her. Our night time feedings aren’t nearly as depleting as they were with the previous two.  Her colic didn’t break me as it seemed to do with both Emily and Andrew.  Every morning I wake up happy to feed her – even if I’ve been awake all night long.  I snuggle her as she smiles and coos at me.  Her brother and sister attack her with hugs and kisses.  We all watch her in amazement.

I don’t feel guilty about missed tummy time.  (Tummy time with a 2 and 4 year-old is very difficult and slightly dangerous anyway.)  I don’t worry about her growth.  I feel comfortable with nursing.  I feel comfortable having her sleep next to me.

So, yes, having a third has been easy in some ways.

I’m still learning the personalities of her older siblings and often feel stumped as to how to parent them.  Emily is now 4 and astounds me with her intelligence.  Andrew is 2.5 and exhausts me with his toddlerness (my own made up word).

I just know that this transition is not as difficult as I expected it to be.  It wasn’t any harder than going from 0 to 1 child or 1 to 2 children.  I have experience regarding infancy – making the baby stage easier – but I am still inexperienced in so many other ways.

I constantly walk that line between comfortable and uncomfortable, thriving and drowning, experience and inexperience.  I suppose that sums up parenting when other kids are added to the mix. Heck, it sums up parenting in general.


How about you?  How did you feel about transitions in parenting – whether it was from 0 to 1 child, 2 to 3 children, or 9 to 10 children?


Filed under messy parenting

{Messy Parenting} Jealousy

A friend of mine recently posted a parenting article from Huffington Post on Facebook.  I read it, found some of it interesting, and started feeling a bit defensive.  Why?  Jealousy.

In the article, the author talks about how, through her sleeping techniques, her child was sleeping through the night at 6 weeks and continues to do so as a 3 year-old.  Cool, right?

But the whole article sent me into a depressive, sob-myself-silly, spiral.

None of my babies are sleeping through the night.  And I’ve tried every method!  

After thinking about this for a few days, I came to a conclusion.  My jealousy is okay. It’s also okay for parents to celebrate those moments when their parenting techniques yield successful results.

Being in the thick of newborn sweetness, exhaustion, and incessant crying, my emotions change as often as the weather in my current town (which is to say a lot).   I might react more than I’d like, yet I’m learning lessons a lot more quickly.

Sometimes during these really difficult times – when my older kids refuse to go to bed (coming out of their rooms every few minutes) until after 10 pm, when my baby cries until 1 am, when I’m changing 3 sets of diapers, when I’m cleaning up multiple poop messes during the week, when I subsist on chocolate and cheerios, and when Ben is working 14 hour work days – I doubt my parenting abilities.  I wonder why Sally’s kids are fully potty trained, why Dan’s children sleep through the night, why Julie’s kid eats everything put in front of her, and I think that I must have done something wrong.

Until I remember that their kids are not my kids.  Parenting methods are successful when they fully match a child’s personality.  Some kids thrive under attachment parenting, others through so-called detachment parenting, and others through a mix-and-match of all available methods.  When parenting some kids, you end up writing your own book on how to parent just that child.

That’s okay.

When reading through parenting books, magazines, blog posts, news articles, etc, it’s so easy to think that “if I just did X then Y would happen” and become frustrated when your plans go awry.  Children are as different as the cloud shapes in the sky.  That’s what is so incredibly beautiful and frustrating about parenting, it means finding your own way and can feel lonely at times.

During these moments when everything has seemingly fallen apart and I’m questioning why any person thought I was suited for this job, I have moments when I remember that this gig is as nuanced as I am.  If someone put me in one box, I would feel chafed.  I don’t belong in any personality box, I am me, an individual that exists beyond stereotypes and classifications (except Homo sapien, something that none of us can escape).  Yeah, try to write a book on how to “parent” me.  Good luck.

The same thing is true of children – infants, toddlers, preschoolers and beyond.  Informing yourself is important but pulling your hair out when things aren’t going as the book says it should, is just not worth it.  Shelve that book and try something else.

We, as parents, are too hard on ourselves.  Let’s give ourselves credit today, tomorrow, and forever.

And if you feel depleted, just remember that parenting is messy. Then, join me in my weekly parent validation post (which occurs at any time during the week because my life really is messy right now). I promise, once you give yourself a little credit for things you are proud of, you’ll feel better about moving forward.


(You can find my button here.)


Filed under messy parenting

Women Who Run With the Wolves Book Club: Chapter 8

I meant to write this on Monday but misplaced my book.  Naturally, I put it in a safe place that I thereby forgot until today.  I think Momnesia is settling in.


In this chapter, Estes goes into detail about traps – how to identify them, where they come from, and how to protect/heal ourselves from them.  This chapter is full of treasures in which I will only discuss a few things that particularly stuck out to me.  It goes without saying that to fully appreciate what Clarissa has written would take a million blog posts. (I guess that’s why we read these types of books, right?)


“If a woman attempts to be a part of an organization, association, or family that neglects to peer into her to see what she is made of, one that fails to ask “what makes this person run?” and one that does not put forth effort to challenge or encourage her in any positive manner…then her ability to thrive and create is diminished.” (p. 244)

In many cases, it’s easier to accept a person’s surface-level characteristics.  It takes work to fully comb out the nuances of a individual’s character, habits, etc.  There is danger in this.  I have been in many places in life in which it was easier to put up a façade of confidence and fulfillment when deep down my psyche was yearning for more.  So much more.  But, as is often inherent in these types of environments, I was forced to hide that part of myself.

“A woman who is starved for her real soul-life may look ‘cleaned up and combed’ on the outside, but on the inside she is filled with dozens of pleading hands and empty mouths.”  (p. 246)

As easy as it is for an organization or particular set of people (i.e. in a church setting) to glance over a person, it is also easy for a woman to keep up appearances by showing forth what she feels society wants from her.  This falsehood she perpetuates is dangerous.  One can feel empty inside for only so long before she seeks for something – anything – to fill her up.

“Overkill through excesses, or excessive behaviors, is acted out by women who are famished for a life that has meaning and makes sense for them.”

I recall when I was in a dark place and how, rather than addressing the real issue (my starved soul) I found solace in (over) exercising, counting calories and, therefore, under eating, and the internet.  I could spend hours poring over blogs and other websites in attempt to forget the monstrous pain that dwelled inside.

“The instinct-injured woman usually gives herself away because she has a difficult time asking for help or recognizing her own needs.” (p. 251)

When I read this sentence, I buried my face in a pillow and simultaneously laughed and cried myself into a silly stupor.  Before this last year, my poor husband would often ask what I needed and I, I just didn’t know.  It’s awful to not know what you need or be able to ask for help.

“Sneaking a counterfeit soul-life never works…It’s better to get up, stand up, no matter how homemade your platform, and live the most you can, the best you can, and forgo the sneaking of counterfeits.”  (p. 256)

I am still learning how to live an authentic life.  With the pressure I face in society to conform, I struggle with allowing my inner voice to sing.

Discussion Questions: 

  • Were there traps, or one trap, that stood out to you?
  • Have you found yourself in engaging in excessive behaviours as you’ve come to know Wild Woman?  How have you stopped this process?  (If you are still working through it, how are you doing so?)

How We are Trapped

“And in this light, it must be asked at each level how it came to be that any individual woman feels she has to cringe, flinch, grovel, and plead for a life that is her own to begin with.  What is in any culture that demands such?”

I am in the process of evaluating the culture I grew up in to examine the layers that produced the intense conformity that exists.  It’s not easy to look at something I loved so much for what it truly is; at the same time, it’s refreshing to recognize that I wasn’t broken, something within my culture is.

Discussion Questions:

  • Has society contributed to your traps?  If so, how?
  • Do you feel that certain religious cultures are more demanding and, therefore, entrapping of its members than other religious cultures?  How about cultures within a country?  Or countries in general?

Healing from and Avoiding Traps

“Regaining lost instinct and healing injured instinct is truly within one’s reach, for it returns when a woman pays close attention through listening, looking, and sensing the world around herself, and then by acting as she sees others act; efficiently, effectively, and soulfully.

“If our own wild natures have been wounded by something or someone, we refuse to lie down and die.” (p. 273)

The symbolism of not laying down and dying reminds me of a parenting method I employ.  When my kids fall or get hurt in some way or another while doing an activity they enjoy, I don’t coddle them and tell them to stop the activity, I provide comfort and encourage them to try again.  Healing is important; and so is getting up.

“One of the most important things we can do is to understand life, all life, as a living body in itself, one that has respiration, new cell turnover, sloughing off, and waste material.

“It is just as fatuous to think that once we solve an issue it stays solved, that once we learn, we always remain conscious ever after.  No, life is a great body that grows and diminishes in different areas, at different rates.  When we are like the body, doing the work of new growth, wading through la mierda, the shit, just breathing or resting, we are very alive. we are within the cycles of the Wild Woman.  If we could realize that the work is to keep doing the work, we would be much more fierce and much more peaceful.” (p. 274)

I think that this idea is exhausting and empowering.  Again, it parallels how I see parenting: while I would like my kids to learn their lessons the first time, to not hit their sibling again, I know I will need to teach them over and over again.  It’s exhausting and sometimes frustrating, but to raise mindful children takes love, dedication, and a lot of repetition.

Discussion Questions:

  • If you are a parent, did you also find many of Estes’ ideas in this chapter mirror your parenting?
  • Are you healing or have you healed from traps?  What has kept you going?


Filed under Book Club