momma songs

Who needs to cry? Even if you've heard these songs before, you must listen to them right now and then share them with every foster or adoptive parent you know. Because, yes. YES. YES.

Kari Kimmel's Where You Belong

You might know this song as the theme to the TV show The Fosters.

The lyrics that will make you cry:

It's not where you come from
It's where you belong
Nothin' I would trade
I wouldn't have it any other way
You're surrounded
By love and you're wanted
So never feel alone
You are home with me
Right where you belong

Phillip Phillips' Home

You might know this song as the summer Olympics theme from London 2012.

The lyrics that will make you cry:

If you get lost, you can always be found
Just know you’re not alone
'Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Phil Collins' You'll Be In My Heart

You might know this song from Disney's Tarzan movie.

The lyrics that will make you cry:

Come stop your crying
It will be alright
Just take my hand
And hold it tight
For one so small,
You seem so strong
My arms will hold you,
Keep you safe and warm
I know we're different, but deep inside us
We're not that different at all


Happy Labor Day


It's not because of April Fool's Day that I say this. It's because this is the anniversary laboring to deliver my first baby.  My baby is turning seven tomorrow (LIES, IT'S ALL LIES!). He told me today that since it was almost his birthday, he should get to do whatever he wants. I said, "Yeah, right, I worked myself to death the day before your birthday," and handed him the dustpan. #notkidding

So, here's the abridged version of my labor with my now-giant son, which I wrote two days later. It's abridged because I was as wordy then as I am now, and the complete thing is nine pages long and includes words like cervix that no one wants to read. Even me.

Here, then, is Lincoln's amazing and wonderful birth story...

I had been having contractions for several days.  On Friday, we’d spent the evening at Mikie and Heidi's with Laura and Shaun and my back hurt bad enough that we went home early.  I was really hoping that was a sign that we were starting… but no. 

Monday and Tuesday saw more back pain… I’d taken to hollering “come out baby” every 15 to 20 minutes.  I was having so much trouble sleeping at night that I’d end up in bed until 10 am.  By Wednesday, my back was hurting so bad I didn’t sleep a wink.  Poor Matt – I woke him up several times that night just to be sure he knew I still wasn’t sleeping!  I was able to close my eyes for an hour or two in the morning (Matt was on the early shift at work so I stayed in bed after he left at 6 am) simply out of exhaustion.

Caryn was coming into town for Easter/spring break so she spent the day with me on Thursday.  By that point, I had a pretty good idea that we were going into labor.  Things were about the same timing-wise but the contractions seemed to be getting more intense.  Caryn helped me time my contractions all afternoon while we watched The Whole Nine Yards.  Matt got home from work around 2:30 which was about the same time that I wasn’t able to sit through the contractions anymore.

For the next few hours, Caryn and Matt tag-teamed to time my contractions and remind me to go to the bathroom.  They also experimented with the massage tools from our child birthing classes: a nerf football and three tennis balls in a sock (which Caryn thought was a dog toy). 

Matt was a little restless – I don’t think he enjoyed watching me be in pain.  He cleaned the kitchen, did the dishes, and then actually cleaned the stove!  At least we came home to a clean house…

As we did the final check (including making sure our pup Gina had some lights on and had gone potty), I asked Matt if the car seat was in the car (which it was).  Caryn gasped and said “that’s right because you’ll be going as two and coming home as three!”  Sometimes the simplest thoughts are the most profound.

After check-in at the hospital, Matt and I wandered the halls for a bit until our nurse came out to get us.  She introduced herself and said she would be my nurse until 11 pm.  I joked that I promised to finish before she left!  But things didn’t go that fast.

I watched Caryn pace beside the bed with her very telling “I’m praying” face which was actually a huge relief for me as I labored. At some point while I was relaxing after the nasty process of getting an epidural in a back full of scar tissue from spinal fusion surgery, Caryn asked the nurse how many laboring moms she was caring for.  She said normally it would be different but that tonight I was the only person laboring in the whole place! Wow! 

Caryn, Matt & I chatted and took some video until I suddenly felt like I needed to push.  They tried to keep me from using my neck muscles too much to support my head by putting lots of pillows behind me, but I was doing it anyway, like a bad sit-up. (Two days later, I really regretted that – I felt like a bus had run over my neck and shoulders!) When he finally whooshed out, I let out a yell of relief.  It was all over!  It was 3:54 am on Friday, April 2, 2010.  Good Friday!

They put him up on my belly and he promptly pooped all over.  Thanks, Linc!  They cleaned me up while Daddy Matt cut the umbilical cord.  When they placed him back on my belly, he peed!  Boy, I’m just a target…

So as time passed, we had visitors – Poppy and Mom-Mom, Grandma and Grandpa, Aunt Kelcy and Uncle Mike.  Everyone got a chance to hold baby and see me & Matt. When Poppy and Mom-Mom walked in, the nurse was just finishing up Lincoln’s footprints.  She asked Matt if he had a white t-shirt on under his sweatshirt, but he did not.  Poppy announced that he did, so he took his shirt off and she used the rest of the ink to stamp Lincoln’s footprints on Poppy’s t-shirt!  What a special memento.


A legacy of reading

Me: Who gave you this book?

Him: You did.

Me: And this one?

Him: Aunt Patty. I love reptiles.

Me: That’s right! What about this one?

Him: Oh, Nina got me that before I was even born!

My husband and I may often read on our tablets instead of holding a paperback, but our children have inherited our love of reading. But I have to back up and point out that we didn’t start the cycle… it’s been passed down. We are so blessed to be in a family of readers. That particular blessing always makes me smile when I read books with my kids.

It’s so special to me that my sons know where their books have come from. It gives me a giggle when I hear the 6yo tell the 3yo, “Be careful with that one, it was daddy’s when he was a little boy and it’s very, very, VERY old.” (Yep, just like Daddy, it’s being held together with six layers of scotch tape!)

We use our books hard, and of course there have been the occasional tearing incidents that any kids go through that make me angry… but the truth is that books don’t really get old. The story is always there, frankly, even if the middle spread where Thomas finally gets to the bakery and picks up the milk is missing. You can just sort of figure it out and keep going. (Plot points in children’s books aren’t that hard to improvise.)

Looking through my children’s bookshelves, I found at least one signed book from basically every living family member (except my one sister doesn’t sign her books!), plus books from those who are already with Jesus. I found books inscribed to my husband on various childhood occasions plus books inscribed in my amazing aunt's childhood cursive (the original Curious George book), one inscribed to my brother-in-law (#sorrynotsorry, Mike), and one addressed to my cousin from our mutual uncle with a note dated 1977 (In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak). I was particularly pleased to find one my husband received on his first Christmas from his Great Aunt Naomi who just went to heaven this week. A legacy that lives on...

Thinking about all the little hands who have read these words makes me so happy. The legacy of reading in my family is such a blessing, and I’m thrilled to be able to pass it on to my kids.


the things I haven't said to my kids

  • The Farmer in the Dell song is broken forever. I killed it, and I have no regrets.
  • Who are you talking to? You didn't say my name 64 times so I wasn't listening.
  • How oh how oh how do you destroy clothing so quickly? Are you actually Edward Scissorhands?
  • I would like to play Chutes and Ladders with you again, but I'm afraid that if I do, my brain will melt.
  • If I step on another Lego today, your vocabulary is going to rapidly multiply in new and creative ways.
  • I don't want to play that, so I'm going to stand here at the stove and pretend to cook dinner instead.
  • Your breath is so bad, like worse than I imagine a coyote's would be if he's just eaten a skunk.
  • No, I do NOT know the muffin man. Stop asking. Also, you're terribly off key.
  • That picture doesn't look like a castle. It looks kind of like a box covered in beetles. Did you try to draw a box covered in beetles?
  • This is a toy box and that is the dusty, hidden space under my couch. Why is it hard to tell them apart?
  • What? I didn't hear you. Please repeat yourself in a higher pitch and at a progressively higher volume.
  • Please behead my flowers one by one, leaving a long line of bedraggled green stalks that represent the herbivore edition of Game of Thrones.


daddy isn't a babysitter

There's a weird element of family culture that bugs me. Maybe people don't talk about it, but it's sort of understood in certain circles. There's a weird idea floating around that in two-parent households, Mommy is The Parent, and if/when she's gone, Daddy steps in as The Babysitter.

Mommy does things a certain way. She's human. She knows her limits and her kids, so she's established systems of how things work.  Monday through Friday, the shoes are here, the cup is there, and we know at which stage of the routine we take that last-minute trip to the potty. Things aren't always smooth because of, well, humans, but we get it done by following point A to point B and so forth.

But then, it's Saturday and Daddy's home from work (or, more likely, Sunday and you're trying to be less than ten minutes late to church). The extra hands means everything's different. Kids are screaming, teeth are gnashing. I can't pee with my sneakers on!  I only drink milk in the Darth Vader cup! These are my brother's socks!

I do understand that kids respond to routine and habit, but as mothers -- and as people in general -- we need to be able to tell the difference between what's wrong and what's another way of doing things.  I'm not going to 'correct' my husband for putting a child's shoes on before he goes pee. (Logic: He does not take his shoes off before he pees anywhere else. I hope..) 

Mommy, don't be so ruled by your child that you begin to believe that it's reasonable for him/her to demand that ONLY you open his juice box.  Maybe you put the wings up and maybe Daddy bent the straw, but the message to your child that his/her father is incompetent is damaging.  That undermines not only his entire position as a father, as a leader, and as a man.

How will your kids ever believe that Daddy is the God-ordained head of the household if all they ever see is him deferring to Mommy on everything that matters to them? Do you think your kids tune into your discussions about finances or some topic where you are more readily willing to submit? Here's a hint: they do not. If you want your kids to see Biblical submission in a marriage modeled, they need to see it in a context that is in some way relevant to them. So chill out, Mommy, and don't communicate that Daddy is a sub-standard, fill-in Mommy. Let Daddy be Daddy. He's probably really good at it.