Dear Brooke Allen

Oh, my sweet angel.  You turned five today! Five seems like such a huge milestone, and I’m not handling it well at all.  You are growing up way too quickly, and I know this year will bring big changes for you.  You will go to “real” school in the fall, and you will make new friends, eat in a new lunch room, and have new teachers apart from the daycare you’ve been attending basically your entire life.  I know you aren’t the least bit nervous about it, but me – I’m terrified. I should take some bravery hints from you.   You amaze me. You’re reading.  And I don’t mean just regular sight words.  I mean real live books.  You love to read Cat in the Hat, and you are trying to read every store sign and text message and advertisement you see. I know every parent believes their child is exceptional, and I’ll throw my hat in that ring.  You are absolutely brilliant.  You are creative with a huge imagination.  I can see the wheels turning in your head when you are trying to understand things.  You can connect stories and characters like someone way past your age. Especially

Read more

The other night at a baby shower for some sweet friends, we seasoned parents were asked to give some advice to the newbies. Being the OG mom in the group, I had some sage advice for my friends as they embark on this insane trip of parenthood.  As I’ve thought more about it, and at the urging of some friends who enjoy my parenthood mishaps on social media, I decided to come up with the ultimate list of parenthood tips for you today. Now, let’s get one thing clear – I am not a parenting expert.  I am probably a pretty terrible parent by textbook standards.  I raise my voice probably a bit too much, and I also am not very consistent in my discipline at times.  My kids love McDonald’s, and we’ve watched Trolls fifteen times this week.  Our kids went to bed way too late last night because we just couldn’t drag ourselves away from Flip or Flop long enough for bedtime routines (three cheers for the pause button).  I don’t do things right all the time, but honestly, I don’t really care.  Which leads me to point number one… 1. Don’t listen to anyone else.  Ever.  (Ok, well except

Read more

Last night, I painted ten little chubby fingers and ten little chubby toes the perfect shade of Sofia purple.  I brushed her long blonde hair, and she picked out her favorite pink dress, pink headband, and “pretty” shoes.  I led her to my jewelry box and she giggled as I pulled out my pearl necklace and fastened it around her neck. She waited not-so-patiently for her date to arrive, talking about what fun things she and her beau might do.  She had never been on a date before, and she was a bit nervous.  She danced down the hall and clicked her fancy shoes and waited for the moment. Then the doorbell rang, and she poked her head around the corner.  Is this it?  She opened the door slowly, and stood in shock. Her daddy was standing there in his nice clothes holding a bouquet of beautiful flowers. He hugged her tight and told her how beautiful she looked, and she grinned and smelled her flowers. After a few photos, they left for a magical evening at Chick Fil A, dessert at Coldstone, and a trip down the princess aisle at Target. When they returned home, she all but floated into the living

Read more

Dear John Paul, You’re two years old today. And you are every bit of two years old. You are into everything, and you never ever stop.  You are constantly at open speed, zooming around the house leaving a trail of destruction behind you. You love to make a mess.  You think it’s hilarious to turn the tv off while people are watching it, and you also think it’s funny to play in the dog bowls.  You splashed so much in the tub one night I had to hang the bath mat up to dry.  My walls have beautiful art at knee height from the night you found a permanent marker.  You broke my fantasy football trophy, and I’m waiting for you to fly through the glass panes of my grandmother’s china cabinet.  For a long time, the play pen was no longer for play – it was “baby jail.” You also throw things.  A lot.  And very well.  Your aim is spot on.  While I spy baseball and football in our future, I wait with baited breath for you to launch a milk cup through the tv. You’re always dirty.  I don’t know what you get into, but your face

Read more

It’s been a year since my post To My Husband in this Weird Phase of Life went viral. And by viral, I mean it has had over 500,000 views on my blog alone, not counting the over 1 million views on other websites that picked it up.  I would love to be able to know exactly how many Facebook shares it has had, but I can only guess that it’s over 300k.  It was the most shared and viewed post on For Every Mom for 2015. That’s mind-blowing. I’ve never painted myself as a perfect person.  I make mistakes.  A lot of mistakes.  I’ve never painted my marriage as perfect.  We have to work really really hard for our marriage not to crumble and fall to pieces.  It has not been easy for us.  By no means do I believe I am any sort of expert on marriage, parenting, Christianity, or life in general.  I’m just me, writing words down as I feel them and life as I experience it. It’s amazing what honesty will do for a person.  In conversation with a colleague one day, I said something to the effect of that I don’t really care what people

Read more

Sometimes motherhood can make you really raw. This kind of raw hurts.  It exposes parts of you that you didn’t know existed, and if you did know about them, you fought really hard to keep them quiet.  But they all come out when the mothering starts. Maybe it’s your bear side fiercely protecting your children in ways that your friends and family might feel are a bit wigged out. Maybe it’s your crazy side who popped up when you stepped on the third lego this morning. Maybe it’s your scary side that appears like a werewolf with gnashing teeth when your kid screams for an hour about eating pork chops. Maybe it’s your lazy side that cuts corners with baths and vegetables and hair brushing. Maybe it’s the realization that maybe you just don’t like parenting very much.  You like your kids.  But you just don’t like parenting. Whatever it is, we all have it.  There’s not a mother around who can honestly say she’s never lost her ever-loving mind with her kids about something really stupid like losing doll shoes that you told her not to take off, or soaking his shirt in the dog’s water bowl five seconds before you need to

Read more

Dear Brooke Allen, Call me crazy, but I put you in a pageant. I know you pageant haters will say she’s too young, and I’m living out my dreams through my daughter, and it’s only objectifying her. Whatever.  I’m a long time pageant girl, and I simply wanted to expose her to all the awesome experiences I had as a pageant competitor. Knowing that you are extremely unpredictable, I was a bit wary of how this weekend would work out for you.  But I signed you up anyway, just to see how you would do.  It was a charity pageant for Relay for Life, so if I figured the whole thing was a bust and you were that toddler from Toddlers and Tiaras who cried and kicked the whole time, at least the money went to a good cause. Part of the pageant was an optional interview that had no bearing on the total scores for the pageant.  I prepped you as much as I could without you completely refusing to do the interview, and we talked about what kind of questions they would ask.  We got you all dressed in a sweet little outfit and put your hair in pigtails, and

Read more

So it turns out morbid curiosity is not limited to my four year old. In a conversation with some other moms, I learned that they are all starting to realize that death and pain are real things, and I was asked how I handle such things in our house.  I told them that I focus not on grasping the difficult concepts of the theologies of our faith, but stating simple facts about what we believe.  “If you believe in Jesus, you will go to Heaven,” and I answer questions the best I know how to, without terrifying her of the grave realities that mark our faith.  Childlike faith is encouraged by Jesus, and I believe that means believing words given to you by someone you wholly trust. The more thought I give to it, the more I realize that I am a much bigger part of the puzzle than I previously recognized. I speak often of the cultivation that we are to bring to the wide open fields that are our children.  How God has entrusted us to minister to our children by making Biblical decision for our families, and pushing towards a Christ-like atmosphere in which to raise our

Read more

Two times this weekend, my daughter was told she wasn’t allowed to play with some other children. Two times this weekend, I held my daughter as she melted into a pile of loneliness in my lap. This is nothing new to kids, and I can’t blame the kids who said it to her.  Both times, she was the youngest kid, wanting to play with the big kids.  She was probably too small for whatever they were playing, or she was wrecking it. I get it. And both times, the mothers of the other children corrected the situation by speaking to their children about inclusion, and Brooke Allen was invited to play after that.  I am so grateful for their attentiveness. But there, in those few moments, brushing back the hair from Brooke Allen’s tear streaked face, all I could do is think about how this is going to happen over and over again in her life. It’s hard to raise a kind child in a world that is so unkind. Girls are ruthless.  For the rest of her life, she will be told she is not good enough.  Her clothes will not be cool, her friends will say she is

Read more

It all started with a hat. I bought this adorably cute beanie for JP at the beginning of October with the Peanut Festival in mind.  It was from a little boutique here in town, hand crocheted with a police car on it.  I spent more than I should have.  But it was adorable and the same colors as this little pair of leather shoes that he has with police cars on them. I went to his bookshelf on Saturday morning as we were getting dressed to go to the parade.  It wasn’t there.  I know I put it there.  I searched all over the bookcase and in the dirty clothes, in case it fell in there.  I opened all his drawers, searched the top of his closet, and checked in the kitchen where it had spent a day or two before being put away.  No hat anywhere. I went into the bedroom to ask Ben if he had seen the hat, and he woke up to help me look for it.  By the end of the search, our house looked like Chernobyl.  Closets torn apart, drawers open, even boxes that I know we haven’t opened since we moved over three months

Read more