August 22, 2016

Why I stopped apologizing to strangers for my toddler

Photos taken and post originally written July 16, 2016

It may be hard to believe ;) but when this girl was two, it was rough, friends. Really rough. It's easy to look back and laugh at now, but at the time, it was not. funny. I mean, add a new, de-throning sibling to all the emotional turmoil of being a two-year-old and you've got a mess. I felt like I was constantly apologizing to other moms for my daughter hitting theirs, taking their toys, giving them mean looks, ignoring them, and whatever else she was doing.

The worst was when she started biting. There was one time that I was worried that Alexa's finger would never work right again after Chelsea had bit it. It was that bad.

What was worse - well, more like equally bad - was the time she bit her cousin. They were playing and there was some kind of disagreement over toys and Chelsea bit her sweet little cousin hard enough to draw blood. I was horrified, embarrassed, lost, devastated, even ashamed of myself as a parent. I thought I had ruined my child somehow and that she would grow up to be a bully and never have any friends.

And my sister-in-law would have been totally justified in having a few words for me, or at least an increase in distance between us. But you know what? She didn't do any of that. You know what she did instead? She comforted me. And it wasn't even the type of comfort that was like "Oh, Susan. I'm so sorry that happened! It's rough having a two-year-old!" It was the type of comfort that made it clear that she had forgiven me and my daughter even before the event happened. She said to me something I will never forget. She said, "It's a hazard of being a toddler!"

I. Was. Shocked.

I shouldn't have been because Brooke is a total saint, but I thought for sure her Mama Bear was gonna come out. Well, it must have been hibernating in the cave because it never came. And mind you! This wasn't her fourth or fifth child that Chelsea bit, this was her very first.

It finally became clear to me at that moment that my daughter was just a two-year-old trying to make sense of her crazy life. She wasn't a monster or a bad kid. She was just a toddler, and situations like these are a hazard of being a toddler.

Now I'm not saying that we should just let our kids run rampant, biting whoever they see on the street (and you probably should apologize to the other parent if your kid has hurt theirs), but I don't think we need to go apologizing to the strangers in the store or on the street for every inconvenience and every nicety our toddlers forget. Our responsibility as parents isn't to be ashamed of them, to have a look of disapproval plastered to our faces as a default, interrupted on occasion by a sigh of exasperation for yet another inconvenience. Our responsibility is to teach them what is right and what is wrong. They don't come hard-wired with that intelligence. They do come with amazing potential and room to learn and grow, if those closest to them show them the way.

Being a parent is super hard. SUPER hard. A lot of people who aren't parents don't get that and some people who were parents but haven't been for YEARS forget that. They might look at  you disapprovingly, they might judge you, they might turn their noses up at you, they might even say something to you, but you know what I say?

Nothing. Because what I would like to say to them would be totally inappropriate.

So I'm done apologizing to you when my kid yells in the grocery store. I'm done apologizing to you when my kid turns from yelling to having a total meltdown on the floor. I'm done apologizing to you for behavior that comes from being a toddler. If an apology needs to be made, it will be made to the person that has been the direct victim of the "crime" and it will be delivered by the perpetrator. I don't want my daughter to grow up thinking that her mother is ashamed of her and talks behind her back. I do want her to grow up knowing that she is accountable for her actions and that it's important to make up for the things she does wrong.

My daughter, though, at times can be difficult, trying, extremely energetic (like, all the time), particular, and passionate is also beautiful, thoughtful, giving, kind, and still learning. And if you have a problem with it, I apologize that it's been so long since you've had an amazing little girl like her in your life.

August 19, 2016

Service Ideas for you and your Toddler | Yellow Quakies

the honey bear on the table has absolutely nothing to do with this post.
This post has been compensated by Yellow Quakies. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A few weeks ago, Chelsea had kinda a rough day at church. It's true! She has those days, believe-it-or-not. ;) I was sitting in the third hour of my church meetings (Relief Society) and I heard wailing out in the hall. Of course, I recognized it as my daughter's, so I went out there to take care of things. Chelsea was sitting on her teacher's lap, her arms restrained, screaming her head off. I mean, this was wailing and gnashing-of-teeth-level, guys.

Turned out that Chelsea lost it because she really wanted to sit by her little friend in class, but her teacher (who had been suffering from a migraine all weekend, poor woman!) had said no because they were disrupting the class, and that was just totally unacceptable to Chelsea that day!

As you can imagine, I was feeling pretty bad for the teacher, and I felt like if I didn't do something, this experience would turn Chelsea against her teacher and put a HUGE strain on the relationship to the point where we'd have these kind of meltdowns weekly. So I decided that Chelsea and I would do something about it!

photo c/o Chelsea's teacher who still doesn't know it was us! shhhhhhh...

We heart-attacked her! Well, it wasn't totally a heart-attack because Chelsea wanted stars and flowers, and suns, too. The funny looking little man was my idea :)

Chelsea and I had such a great time drawing the shapes, cutting them out, and writing nice things on them, then sneaking up to their house to tape them to the house, and Chelsea ESPECIALLY loved ringing the doorbell and running away as fast as we could! We walked home, piggy-back, with huge smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts.

I decided that I wanted to experience that warmth with Chelsea more often and so, have made it a Sunday tradition! I call it "Service Sunday!"

The hardest part of Service Sunday is coming up with the service activity. Luckily, I know a number of fabulous moms (you fabulous moms in my FB mom support group!) and @servetogether who helped me out! So here are a couple of ideas that I came up with myself, + some from my mom friends!

Heart-Attack someone's door

Bake cookies for someone

Color a picture for someone
Write a letter to someone - we have a couple of cousins on missions we love to write to!
Make a "Just Because" card for someone (click for printable front and inside - print front, then flip paper over to print the inside)

my printer wasn't working for some reason, but i wasn't going to let THAT stop us!

Go visit a nursing home
Go to a food pantry
Take flowers to someone
Take sandwiches to the homeless, or just sit and talk a while
Have a FREE lemonade stand!

So often it's not how you serve, but who you serve. Try doing some of these projects for your local police department! Those guys have been catching A LOT of flack recently.

I'll definitely put some activities on repeat, but I also don't want it to get old.

This necklace from Yellow Quakies will forever be a reminder for me and my kids (especially Chelsea) that when we give service, our hearts are full.

Good luck this week, friends! Go find someone to serve, and make sure to stop by Yellow Quakies - @yellowquakies - to say hello and see what else she has available! I am currently crushing on her Custom Couple pieces!

P.S. Chelsea was WONDERFUL in class the next week!

August 16, 2016

Best friends and Rattlesnakes!

With all these back-to-school posts on social media, I'm really feeling the end of summer coming on and the urgency to get everything on my summer checklist checked off! One thing I have not done NEARLY enough of is hiking. So I grabbed my bestie and we went to Fernwood for a quick hike!

The most exciting part of the hike was definitely our encounter with the rattlesnake!!! I had my camera out and just so happened to capture the moment our party met with grumpy guy! I just thought I was getting a good shot with the trees and the trail tunnel it made, buuuuuuut...

I was more worried about getting Alexa (who I picked up) and Barrett safely past the snake than seeing what he looked like. All I needed was to hear the rattle to know that he meant business! *shivers*

We didn't have any more encounters after that and a few bikers rode past us going the opposite direction (towards the snake) who I think scared the snake away so we didn't see him on our way back (thank goodness!)

We only went as far as the creek where the kids took off their shoes and socks to wade in the water a bit, then it was back down to the cars for snacks and a group pic! Yay for tripods!

Best friends are precious and our friendship is almost 3 years old! Time really does fly! Love you VanWagoner Family!!!

would you believe me if I told you we only took one shot of us all together? not bad for the first and only try, right?

August 11, 2016

Play time + Half a Year?!

I think you know what I'm going to say. But I'm going to say it anyway.


I don't know what the big rush is, Little Cub. Why don't you slow down a bit? Stay little just a bit longer. There's plenty of time for you to learn how to crawl and get mobile, although I do understand the sense of urgency you feel when Alexa tries to sit on you or Chelsea is carrying you all around the house in a less than comfortable manner.

Oftentimes I feel like you're the one thing that your sisters can agree on. They love you so much. Alexa is ALWAYS getting into trouble opening your bedroom door while you're napping and waking you up, and Chelsea prides herself on her ability to make you laugh.

I wish I could secretly capture the look in your camera-shy Daddy's eyes on camera when he plays with you. He is so proud of you! As am I.

I hope I never forget the way your eyes grow wide when you're presented with a colorful toy, or that big smile you greet me with every morning, even though you're hungry. It starts my day off on the right foot. I love the way you giggle when I tease you and even your boyish cries!

I hope you keep that wide-eyed-wonder and patience. You are the peace-keeper in our home. Even when you're the one with the most reason to be crying and throwing a fit because you haven't eaten in hours, you somehow remain the only cool and composed person in the house! (sometimes)

You still spit-up more than your sisters did COMBINED! You wake up one or two times in the night to eat still, and I can probably start you on solids now, but I'm resisting time. It just doesn't feel like it's really been 6 months already!

You make me feel so special, Little Cub. You look at me with those big brown eyes (Daddy's eyes) like I'm the most beautiful creature you've ever seen and your dimpled smile (only in the right cheek!) melts my heart. Every. Time.

You are a very special person, Barrett. Before you were born, I was praying one night and telling our Heavenly Father about my concerns about raising a son. I didn't know what to expect. Boys just seemed so foreign to me. As I prayed, I had the impression that the baby boy that Heavenly Father was sending me was a very special one. From that moment on, I knew that you were going to change, and bless my life.