confessions of an impatient mom.

They say patience is a virtue. I looked up the definition of patience, just to see if maybe there was a loophole I could cling to for dear life and claim to posses said virtue.

Patience. The capacity to accept or tolerate delay, trouble or suffering without getting angry or upset.

Well crap. That settles it.

I am the most impatient person in the world.

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I have never been a patient person. Growing up I would see something I wanted and immediately the obsession would begin. I would harass my parents, think about it constantly, there may have been some whining involved. Charming right? I was also pretty good with words so I could usually talk my way into things.

Just last week I found a three page essay I wrote to my parents when I was fifteen years old. It was typed, with proper heading, and entitled “The Pros and Cons of a Cellular Phone.” It included golden arguments such as, “If I am ever with one of my friends and they run out of gas or they have a flat tire, someone kidnaps us etc, and they don’t have a phone, I will have one.” I rocked that neon yellow phone hard.

One day I showed up at my house with a dog that my friend was giving away, because the second I saw that pup, I desperately needed a dog. We had Maggie for thirteen years.

Waiting for Christmas morning was torture. Forget about college application responses. And sitting by the phone wondering when that super cute boy was going to call me? No way. I would just call him. Patience may be a problem, but boldness I posses.

I think we all have stories like this. Learning patience is part of growing up. Controlling our reactions is part of maturing. Realizing when something is a want and not a need, I think they call that adulthood. Living with life’s little annoyances, is something we all do. Nobody enjoys slow drivers, or traffic jams, or long lines at target. But most of the time we don’t fly off the handle, yelling at the cashier to hurry it up or lay on our horn in standstill traffic because we think it will magically make things change. (Notice I said most of the time. There’s always that one horn honker.) So then we think wow, I’m a really cool, calm, collected, person. My patience is to be admired. At least that’s what I thought.

Then I had kids.

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Two of them.

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My days were suddenly filled with breastfeeding and cuddling and kissing and staring. My nights were no longer filled with sleep. It is so much harder to feel wonder and awe when your exhaustion is overwhelming. When I heard my tiny son cry in the middle of the night my immediate reaction was not joy and delight. It was frustration, maybe even a twinge of annoyance. Then the entire time I fed him, I was racked with guilt because I wasn’t loving every single second of this motherhood journey. I was tapping my foot and waiting impatiently for him to fall back to sleep so I could also. What was wrong with me?

Toddlerhood came quickly. So did my second son. Managing a two year old and a newborn is similar to climbing Mount Everest. But probably a little bit harder. In my postpartum haze, still nursing a toddler as well as a ravenous newborn, and sleeping almost never, I wondered how we would make it.

But we did, and now here we are.

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The last five years have tested me and stretched me and broken me in so many ways. This journey of motherhood is not for the faint of heart. But it is for the heart who knows imperfection is beautiful and that in our weakness He makes us strong.

The reality is this.

I still sigh too often while they search long for the right pair of shoes. I hurry them more than I let them tarry looking at a tiny bug. My words feel sharp when they delay bedtime or don’t clean up right away. There are days my hands are too busy with a to do list and I know I have missed cuddles we both needed, giggles that bring joy uncontainable, and quiet moments that I cannot steal back.

You see I am still not a patient person. But I do pray for patience every single morning, the second my eyes open and I remember that his mercies are brand new right now and today is a whole new chance to love better, speak gently, stare longer, and choose my words with meticulous care.

I recently read these painful but beautiful words from Mr. Jon Bloom, the president of Desiring God. “The pattern in everything is this, the greater joys are obtained through struggle and difficulty and pain – things you must force yourself to do when you don’t feel like it.”

I always feel like loving my boys deep. But I do not always feel like fighting for the discipline and self-control required to exercise true patience. Sometimes it is easier to throw a tantrum when they throw a tantrum. Or yell at them from across the room instead of dropping my task and calmly discipling them in the way the should go. Too many times I have let words come out sharp and painful instead of breathing deep and choosing words that encourage and heal.

To live a life of patience takes energy and dedication and consistency and a whole lot of patience. It is mundane and exhausting and overwhelming. It is a battle with the strong will of a three year old who knows better than you. It is a struggle with the questionable logic of a five year old.

It is an opportunity to fall on your knees.

When the day is too long and the bickering is too loud. When you cannot do it all and the beds are undone. When they need all of you but you have nothing left.

When motherhood seems too tall a mountain to climb.

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He is enough.

The God that created me and you, the one who loved us first and always. He knows our hearts, our hopes, our dreams, and our weaknesses. He invites us to come to Him. He wants us to ask Him to be strong where we are not. He gives patience. He gives self-control. He gives peace.

But sometimes in the busy I forget to ask. Which is really a shame because oh, when I do ask. When I remember that I cannot carry the weight of our tiny little world alone. When I lay on my face, words fall short, but tears are the cry of my heart. When I decrease so He can increase. Our life changes.

This surrender, this daily acknowledgement that I need Him so desperately, it’s not easy. It is a struggle. It is a daily choice. It is the breaking of patterns and pride worn deep into the fabric of who I am and who I do not want to raise my boys to be. So I work hard to remember, I fight long to die to myself so these boys can see their mama choose Jesus time and time again.

It may not be simple but it is so very worth it.

You see my boys don’t need me to be perfect. They need me to be a mama willing to admit mistakes, ask forgiveness, pray hard, then pray some more, practice what she preaches, laugh hard and love deep. They need a mama who may not be a patient person but who is committed to learning more and more every day how to practice the art of patience.

And that I can do.

So can you.

Along the journey, let’s always remind ourselves. Practice does not make perfect, but practice does become habit. And I want to be in the habit of living a life worthy of their imitation and admiration. Also all of their belly laughs.

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the only chocolate cake that matters.

I’m almost completely positive that my children are plotting against my sanity today. Whining. Fighting. Selective hearing. A dog got hit in the face with a stuffed otter. I was the victim of a biting incident. I may have threatened to sell all of my kid’s toys in a garage sale.

And the worst part of all is that the chocolate cake I would normally stuff my face with on a never-ending, my kids are winning, how can bedtime still be so many hours away, kind of day… is gone. It’s a serious tragedy. I ate the last piece, and licked the plate, in bed last night and I don’t have the ingredients to make another.

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So, instead of eating my emotions, which is totally okay because this gorgeous piece of culinary heaven, is grain free, refined sugar-free, and can easily be made dairy free if you use coconut oil instead of  grass fed butter, I thought I would share my favorite dessert recipe with you. You can mix it all up in one bowl. And every single person who eats food will love it. Unless they hate chocolate. Like my weird husband. But everyone else will adore you for making this. I promise.

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(I adapted this cake from a yummy recipe I found here.)

The Only Chocolate Cake That Matters 

makes two 9″ round cake layers

Cake Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 8 eggs
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup grass fed butter softened or melted (or melted coconut oil if you want to make the cake dairy free)
  • pinch of sea salt

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic palm shortening
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp pure almond extract (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon tapioca or arrowroot powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • pinch of sea salt

Instructions

cake

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees
  2. Combine the cocoa, almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, cinnamon and sea salt. Stir until evenly mixed.
  3. Add the eggs, butter, maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Beat with a hand mixture until the batter is smooth.
  5. Grease two 9″ round (or square) cake pans with butter or coconut oil. Then line the bottom of the pans with parchment paper.
  6. Evenly distribute the batter between the two pans.
  7. Bake the cake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean and your kitchen smells like a chocolate dream.
  8. Allow the cakes to cool completely before removing from pans and adding frosting.

Frosting

  1. Put all ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
  2. Beat with hand mixer on medium high until fully combined and creamy, be careful not to over mix.

Putting it all together

  1. Place one layer of cake on a serving dish.
  2. Add a generous layer of frosting to the top and spread evenly.
  3. Place second layer of cake on top of frosting.
  4. Frost the top and sides of the cake.
  5. Finish by sprinkling the cake with cinnamon, and if you’re feeling crazy, some coconut sugar.
  6. Serve immediately or store in the fridge. If the cake is refrigerated be sure to remove  from the fridge 20-30 minutes before serving as the frosting does harden in the cold but will soften up quickly at room temperature.

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Oh and if you’re feeling crazy, add some raspberries. Because the only thing better than chocolate is chocolate with raspberries, am I right?

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Are you hungry yet? Go ahead, get baking. Use this cake for a birthday party or a potluck dish (do potlucks still happen?) or as a coping mechanism. It’s the perfect treat for all occasions. And no, I didn’t ask my threenager to stick his finger into the cake for these photos. It was literally all I could do to keep him from grabbing a handful. But really, who can blame him?

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five reasons to fight for sisterhood.

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I spent most of my free time during high school in the basement of a dear friend, sitting on an old couch, and watching Wrestlemania. It’s hard to picture. I know. But there I was. Me. Maybe one other girl. And lots of dudes.

Because I was one of the guys. Because girls are too much drama. Because I just get along better with boys.

Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah. Blah.

I’ll tell you what I was really doing.

I was searching for as much attention as possible from the opposite sex, and I was avoiding friendships with girls like the plague because girls are scary, and mean and they judge you with their eyes.

High school ended. Then there was college. My first job. Marriage. Babies.

Somehow those adolescent insecurities followed me through it all.

A few persistent women forced their way through my carefully constructed walls, and I eventually learned to love them. Trust them. Need them.

Today, they are the foundation of my passion for sisterhood.

But I get it. I hear your protest. I know you’ve been hurt. I know the scars still sting. I know not all friendships can be saved. I know you feel battle weary and the last thing you want to do is put your heart on the line again. I know she broke your heart. You probably broke hers too. I know she didn’t end up being the person you believed she was. I know promises were broken.

I know it’s easier to text your husband. Binge on Netflix. Stay busy with the kids. Or scroll through Pinterest. Anything is easier than admitting you are lonely. I mean, you are busy, and you are needed, maybe you even have a large family and a doting spouse. You’ll be fine.

I hear you. I have been you.

You can survive without sisterhood.

But can you really live?

Without sisterhood there is loneliness.

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I believe that as women we are our best in community with each other. I also believe that we are all human and every single one of us has hurt someone we care about and most likely each one of us has been hurt by someone we love. This is the reality of relationship.

Sisterhood is an enormous risk. Sisterhood is scary. Sisterhood can make you feel like the awkward thirteen year old version of yourself watching the popular girls walk past while you pick food out of your rainbow-colored braces and try to hide your giant nose pimple behind a novel.

Sisterhood can be terribly uncomfortable in the beginning. Like a new pair of shoes. You will probably get blisters. You might even bleed a little bit. But once they’re worn in there is nothing else in the world you would rather wear.

It’s okay if you don’t believe me. It’s also okay if you sort of wish you could slap me because how dare I assume that every single woman needs sisterhood. And why is she talking about blisters? I understand how crazy I might sound. But experiencing true sisterhood can prove even the staunchest critic wrong.

I’m not here to convince you I’m right. I’m here to share five reasons sisterhood is worth fighting for, and then you can decide for yourself.

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five reasons to fight for sisterhood

  1. Sisterhood tells you when you have food in your teeth. She has your back no matter what and she will always tell you the truth. Because no one wants to walk around with food in their teeth or toilet paper stuck to their shoe or live in a toxic dating relationship without someone telling them the truth. It might be difficult, and awkward and you might be mad at her for a minute but at the end of the day you know sisterhood loves the crap out of you and that’s why she will tell you things no one else will.
  2. Sisterhood comes to your pity party just to kick your ass back to reality. We have all spent days buried under the covers feeling sorry for ourselves. Sisterhood knows when we need her to cuddle up next to us and she also knows when we’re milking it for all it’s worth. Then she drags us out of the depths, kicking and screaming, and reminds us how wonderful the world can be and that we should really become human again. We resist but eventually all the sunshine and all the chocolate and the obnoxious persistent sister convince us that the hermit life is not the best life.
  3. Sisterhood doesn’t pass out when you give birth. Husbands might but sisterhood won’t. Sisterhood holds your legs, tells you to push when all you want to do is scream. And that is how sisterhood loves you through each and every storm in your life. She cheers you on, carries you when necessary, and she knows you can when you’re positive you cannot.
  4. Sisterhood loves you deeper than is expected and longer than is convenient. Everyone is annoying sometimes. I am. You are. Sisterhood loves you even then. She loves all of you. She loves all of me. It’s crazy and nearly incomprehensible to think that we could be loved that deeply, but it’s true. Sisterhood knows your secrets, has seen your worst, has heard it all, and it doesn’t change how her heart loves you. Not one tiny little bit. Distance doesn’t matter. Time doesn’t matter. Your kids screaming in the background of your phone call doesn’t matter. She is truly, madly, deeply committed to loving you and you are just going to have to live with that.
  5. Sisterhood doesn’t knock. and it borrows your favorite dress without asking. The greatest gift of sisterhood is that it is home. It doesn’t feel like home. It doesn’t remind you of home. It is home. Sisterhood throws her doors wide open and says come on in, how rude of you to knock. Help yourself to some food. I’ll be busy letting myself into your house and borrowing that dress I love and probably grabbing some tampons because I’m out and those things are stinking expensive. Sisterhood doesn’t ask your permission to do life with you, it just does. Because that’s what sisters do.

So you see, it’s worth the fight. It’s worth the messy of relationship. Because the good is so much greater than the bad.

You will definitely have to step outside of your comfort zone. I’m not saying you have to decide to love manicures if you don’t, or that you have to go to Crossfit if yoga is your jam. I’m not saying you have to be best friends with every woman you meet. No. I’m saying put yourself out there. Have real conversations. And see what happens.

You might connect most deeply with women who have the same passions as you. Or you may find some of the women who become your closest friends are your total opposite. They might introduce you to new things you never would have tried otherwise. Maybe you will teach them about something they will grow to love.

Maybe you will find a little bit of both. Because no two friendships look exactly the same.

You might get hurt again. You might not. But once you find true sisterhood, it will make the entire journey worth it. You can quote me, the one who fought against the idea of sisterhood for way too long, on that.

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There are incredible stories of sisterhood surrounding us and so often we don’t get to hear them. Everyone asks to hear a couple’s love story. Well, what about our sisterhood stories? We need to hear these stories and be reminded that sisterhood is important and wonderful and worth it.

Next week I will be launching a blog series called “A Portrait of Sisterhood”.

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A Portrait of Sisterhood will be a series of posts highlighting friendships. I am currently interviewing and photographing incredible women and cannot wait to share their real stories with you. Sisterhood is not easy, but when I listen to their stories I am reminded over and over again that sisterhood is so worth it. I cannot wait to share these incredible women with you. I hope and pray that more and more stories will be brought to my attention to share with the world because let’s face it, we need to hear them!

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my comment section. my call.

I wrote a blog post last week called “hi. my sons have long hair. now watch your mouth.” It was about my sons having long hair, yes. But at its heart it was a thought piece on how as adults we need to think before we speak to children. Something about this post connected with a large audience and it has been shared thousands of times.

As the number of shares grew, I was very prepared for commenters who disagree with my stance or who wanted to offer a different point of view. I was actually looking forward to it. I enjoy hearing varying opinions, I love intelligent conversation, and I learn so much from people with a world view different from my own.

The reaction to my post was overwhelmingly positive, but inevitably I began (and will probably continue) to get comments from people who think I am a terrible person for letting my sons have long hair. And they made sure I knew exactly how they felt. Not only did they go to extremes to let me know how they felt, they also missed the entire point of my post.

As I read a comment from one such person, let’s call him Bill, using the most colorful language possible and calling my sons names that would make Miley Cyrus blush, I was once again reminded what a gross place the internet can be.

I also felt sorry for Bill who found it necessary to rip other people apart with his words. I don’t know Bill, and he doesn’t know me. Maybe he is actually a really nice person, maybe something I said hit a chord with him and made him defensive, maybe he was having a super bad day, or maybe he just genuinely hates it when little boys have long hair. I will never know. But what I do know for sure is that, no matter what, my comment section will never be a gross part of the internet.

It can be a place for encouragement, education, support, debate, disagreement, polite confrontation. Sure. All day every day I will be okay with that. I invite it. Let’s talk. Like adults.

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, time I have received comments that stopped me in my tracks and reminded me how public my writing can become. I write a post in the privacy of my own living room and then suddenly the entire world has access. It is overwhelming. And scary. And really sort of incredible. I made a choice to share my thoughts, my opinions, my life, my family. It is not a choice that I take lightly and I understand what it means.

The evils of the internet are real. So is the amazing, life changing power the internet has to create community and relationships and conversations that never would have happened otherwise. I choose to embrace that reality and I understand making that choice means also dealing with the uglier side of the blogosphere.

However, I do not have to let people say whatever they want whenever they want without any repercussions. Enter my decision to put a comment section policy into place for this tiny little blog. I’m a huge fan of the New York Times comments policy and after reading it I realized how necessary it truly is to moderate the conversation in the space I am responsible for. I want to help guide wonderful conversations, not enable internet trolls. And by putting it into writing I don’t have to explain it to every single commenter who begins to cross the line, I can just link them right back here and ask them to comply or find another site to stir up trouble on. My hope is that this policy will make reading my blog an enjoyable experience for the overwhelming majority of my readers who are here for all the right reasons.

johnnyandginger.com Comment Section Policy

  1. Valid email address required. All commenters must provide a valid email address to leave a comment. This address is never made public and will only be used if the need arises to contact you in regards to a comment.
  2. Zero tolerance policy for abuse. Comments that contain profanity, obscene language, personal attacks, or bullying of any kind will be deleted immediately. Repeat offenders will be blocked from commenting permanently. End of story.
  3. Difference of opinion welcome. Commenters are welcome to disagree and discuss topics relevant to the post in a civil and respectful manner. If a conversation spirals into an abusive place the comments will then be deleted.
  4. Relevant links allowed. Please feel free to leave a link in your comment to a relevant blog or article. Links to irrelevant sites will be deleted.
  5. Editorial discretion. I agree to manage the comments on this page by these guidelines but reserve the right to make exceptions when necessary.
  6. Have fun. I love the internet and its potential for community. Enjoy your time here, learn something, meet someone and join in the discussion.

You guys, I’m gonna be honest. There is part of me that gets so overwhelmed worrying about each comment and each person who disagrees with me and tells me so in less than classy ways. Sometimes I think maybe I should just pack it up and move off the grid. And then I remember how my life has changed for the absolute best thanks to the community I have found on Instagram and Facebook and in this crazy blogosphere. The truth is that the beautiful is so much more amazing than the people who try to ruin it for everyone. So if you’re dealing with unkind strangers online and wondering why you even stick around, remember that there is a richness and a rawness and a depth of community here that wasn’t even possible not that many years ago. It isn’t perfect but let’s use the internet as a tool to spread love and community and a couple more cat videos. Or maybe just the first two.

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hi. my sons have long hair. now watch your mouth.

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I always knew my boys would have long hair. I mean the thought of cutting it when they were little just never crossed my mind. What’s more adorable than a sweet baby boy? A sweet baby boy with long gorgeous hair of course. Admittedly this is my own personal opinion, but I stand by it.

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What I never expected, and in hindsight possibly should have seen coming, was the countless people who would glance at my boys for a split second and automatically assume they are girls. It happens ALL. THE. TIME. And I really don’t mind. I look at my kids and I see boys with long hair, but I also understand how a passerby could glance at them and make a quick assumption that long hair equals a girl.

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It’s not always a true assumption, but it is an innocent one.

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When someone refers to one of my boys as a girl, I smile kindly and let them know that he is in fact a boy, with long hair. Most people quickly apologize or simply say, “Oops! of course he is!” and we move on. But sometimes the conversation takes a slightly different path, and then I start to mind.

This was my interaction with a kind and well-meaning cashier last week.

Cashier: Oh she’s beautiful!

Me: Thank you! He is actually a boy, he just has long hair. (Somewhere in the background the child in question is interjecting with an adamant, “I am not a girl!”)

Cashier: What?! (pointing directly at my son while my son sees and hears the whole conversation) You’re telling me this is a boy?

Me: (smiling but desperately trying to move the conversation in a different direction) Yep!

Cashier: (shaking head in disbelief) Seriously? 

Me: I throw his hair in an ponytail when it’s extra hot out. But trust me, he’s a boy. 

Cashier: (jaw literally dropping) You do what?! (looks around frantically) POLICE! POLICE!

The cashier drops the act, winks at me, finishes bagging my purchases and calls me sweetheart as we walk away.

(end scene)

Because really, I felt like I was in a bad sitcom just then.

The issue is not that people mistake my boys for girls. The issue is not that I don’t want anyone to ever say anything that might possibly offend one of my offspring. The issue is not that the cashier suggested I should be arrested for putting my son’s hair in a ponytail.  The issue is not that I can’t take a joke.

You want to know the issue?

When you make jokes about who my child is or is not, when they hear you say that something about them is unacceptable, when you point at them and question what they know to be true about themselves, you change the person they see in the mirror.

The heart of the matter has nothing to do with my boy’s hair length, and everything to do with adults thinking before they speak to kids.

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Even as adults, the words people say to us are powerful. A stranger on social media leaving a hurtful comment can bring all of my insecurities screaming to the surface. How much harder for a child, one who is just beginning to discover who they are and who they want to become, to navigate sarcastic or joking comments centered around their identity.

You can call me dramatic, it has happened before, but consider this.

We see so many kids, children so young, struggling with anxiety and depression and self harm and eating disorders and on and on. So often the blame is placed on their peers or Hollywood. I can’t help but wonder, if they were asked, how many of those precious kids carry deep wounds from the careless words of an adult.

I do not think that the sweet, misguided, cashier wounded my son. In fact my three-year old has seemingly forgotten the whole interaction. But last year, after too many similar situations, my oldest son asked me to cut his long hair. His words broke my heart. “I love my long hair mama, but I don’t want people to think I’m a girl anymore.” We cut his hair the next day. He stared at himself long in the mirror and I asked if he liked his haircut. He nodded, “Yeah, I like it. I liked my long hair better, but now no one will call me a girl.”

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I am left wondering, how many thousands of interactions will my boys have with adults during these precious, formative years of childhood? How many of them will be life-giving? How many will cause them to question their value? Their identity? Their purpose?

How many children have changed who they were because someone told them what they are, who they are, is less than enough?

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I cannot protect my sons from everything. Or even most things. Trust me, I have moments I want to be like the mom from Bubble Boy and never let them out into the real world, lest they scrape their knee or get knocked over by a bully or catch the common cold. I sometimes mutter under my breath in the grocery store aisles, while my kids beg for Froot Loops, about food dyes and gmos and evil marketing companies preying on children with cartoons and preservatives. I have had my heart-broken watching other kids ignore or refuse to play with my boys. I also understand that these are all normal, albeit difficult, parts of childhood. And sometimes they even get the Froot Loops.

The thing I refuse to accept, no matter how normal or common it may be, is adults speaking anything but life into children.

We have all been there. We have all gone through the awkward, uncomfortable, scary, hormonal, acne-ridden journey that is growing up. Remember that before you roll your eyes at rowdy teenagers aimlessly wandering the mall on Saturday afternoon. Think about it before you wonder why the exhausted and overwhelmed six-year-old throwing a tantrum in public can’t control himself. Before you make a joke, ask yourself if you would have thought it was funny at their age, or would it have stung?

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And hey, don’t be afraid to apologize if you say something without thinking.

I’m a red-headed Irish woman who lived most of her adult life in New York. I was born with a temper and a wild spirit. When I think something, I say it. And too often those sharp words land on my boys. I am not perfect. I never will be. I will always make mistakes. But one thing is for sure, my boys have heard, and will continue to hear, me apologize to them when I accidentally say something hurtful.

Because when I say I want adults to speak life into my kids, and any kids they happen to encounter, that expectation starts with me.

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two pounds of almonds. endless possibilities.

I use a lot of almonds. I mean a lot. Living a grain free lifestyle, and loving to bake, means I use almond flour regularly for baking. I use almond milk instead of cows milk for our whole family. And instead of peanut butter we all use almond butter. So, as you can see, almonds are a daily use item around our house.

The problem is, almonds can be a fairly expensive habit to support.

Not anymore.

I will not pay anywhere from eight to fifteen dollars for a jar of almond butter ever again. I will not buy cartons of almond milk that have added unnecessary ingredients. But I will keep my almond habit.

Here’s how.

Every week I buy two pounds of raw almonds from Trader Joe’s. They cost $6.99 per pound which is not too shabby, but you may be able to find them even cheaper by the pound elsewhere. Look around!

What do I do with two pounds of almonds every single week? I’m so glad you asked.

  • I make a jar of almond butter.
  • I make a jug of almond milk.
  • I use the pulp left over from making almond milk and I turn it into almond meal.

Not only am I now spending fourteen dollars a week on products that used to cost me twenty dollars a week, I am also completely in control of what does and does not go into my food. There are no unnecessary ingredients, it all tastes fantastic and it is super simple.

Let’s start with almond butter. You will need a food processor for this recipe. If you don’t have a food processor it is a wonderful investment to make. I use mine almost daily and I’m pretty sure you will too.

IMG_0655Another thing you will need to make almond butter is a decent dose of patience. The process is simple, but tedious and will take a while. At some point you will be positive that your almonds will never become butter. But they always do eventually and it’s worth it.This is what it looks like when I’m ready to give up every single time. But keep going, there is hope!

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See how beautiful hope is?

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Almond Butter

makes 16 oz

Ingredients

  • three cups of raw almonds
  • pinch of sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • coconut oil (optional)

*some people choose to add a sweetener such as honey or maple syrup to their almond butter. I find that the cinnamon adds a nice sweet touch without adding an actual sugar but it is also delicious with a tablespoon or two of your favorite sweetener. 

Instructions 

  1. Pour almonds into food processor and process away.
  2. When almonds get pushed against the side of the food processor, stop the processor and use a spatula to scrape the almond pieces off the sides. You will have to do this quite often for the first several minutes. Repeat this step until your almonds become almost almond butter.
  3. Add cinnamon and sea salt and coconut oil if desired (the coconut oil helps speed up the process, and cinnamon and sea salt are just delightful, but you can make almond butter with simply almonds if you want to).
  4. Blend until your almond butter is the perfect consistency and then store in an airtight container. Or eat it all in one sitting with apples or bananas or my favorite almond date milkshake recipe which I’ll share at the end of this post.

Now that was pretty easy, but almond milk is about ten times easier.

IMG_0654For making almond milk you will need a nut milk bag which you can order online or find at some local health food stores. I ordered mine here, it is currently on sale for only $8.99.

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My kids come running when I make almond milk and they ask for it all the time. Sometimes I tell them we’re out of it, even when maybe there might be a tiny bit left, because I need it for my milkshake. Seriously when you guys try the recipe you will understand! But more on that later. Back to almond milk…

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Almond Milk

makes approx 7 cups

Ingredients

  • two cups of raw almonds (many people choose to soak their almonds overnight, there are lots of articles you can read about why this is a good idea. It is not necessary for making the almond milk but if you find you have a hard time digesting nuts, soaking them will help!
  • two Medjool dates (pitted and sliced into quarters)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 7 cups water

Instructions

  1. Put all on the ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend the mixture on high for approximately thirty seconds.
  3. Place your milk bag in a large mixing bowl (as seen in the photo above of Hudson staring lovingly at a large yellow bowl) and slowly pour the contents of the blender into the bag.
  4. Tighten the draw string on the milk bag and squeeze all of the almond milk into the mixing bowl. When you think you have all of the liquid out of the pulp, squeeze it one more time just to be sure.
  5. Set your milk bag, which is now filled with almond pulp, to the side and pour your almond milk into a pitcher or milk jar or directly into your mouth. Whatever works.
  6. Enjoy!

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Now you want to grab your milk bag filled with almond pulp and make some almond meal. Simply spread your almond pulp out in a thin layer on a non stick baking sheet, or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Now toss it into an oven preheated to 170 degrees fahrenheit. You want to bake this at a low temperature, for two hours, to remove any excess moisture left in the pulp. Be sure to stir every thirty minutes, and two hours later you will have almond meal. Now bake whatever you’re craving!

For the record, almond meal made from almond pulp is not quite as fine as almond meal or flour from the store, so it does slightly change the consistency of your baked goods. I use it primarily to make the almond meal biscuits that we use for sandwiches. If I’m baking cookies or a cake I use my emergency bag of Trader Joe’s almond meal. But next time I make almond meal I am planning to try blending the dried out meal in the food processor for a few seconds so it is more fine, and then I’ll try baking a dessert with it. I’ll let you know how it goes!

Now that you know most of my almond tricks, you need to know the most important one. Using the almond milk and the almond butter that you just made, you MUST make my favorite milkshake of all time. I found the inspiration for it here and only made simple modifications. I am not ashamed to tell you I eat this almost every single day.

Almond Date Milkshake

serves 1 (but you should probably double it because your kids will try to steal it)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 frozen bananas
  • 2 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2-4 Tbsp almond butter (my opinion is the more the better)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch sea salt
  • 2-3 ice cubes

Instructions

  1. Put all ingredients into a blender.
  2. Blend until you have a thick creamy consistency.
  3. Eat it right away and then make another one because you know you want to.

So there are all of the ways I use and enjoy almonds. I’m addicted and I’m okay with it. Now go buy some almonds! And tag your almond goodness to #thecrunchyconfessional so I can see how it went!

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thirty-two things i’ve learned about being a mama.

Last week I turned thirty-two. So I figured, why not share a list of thirty-two things I have learned about being a mama? Naturally this post is fashionably late because some tiny people demanded every second of my attention and every ounce of my energy over the weekend and I had to write this list in between preparing snacks and wiping butts and building Lego sets and refereeing wrestling matches. They are so lucky they have dimples.

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Thirty two things I have learned about being a mama.

  1. Childbirth is painful. Babies are worth it.
  2. Recovering from childbirth is NOTHING like they show on tv. It is messy and painful and exhausting and there is no mascara involved. Hollywood needs to stop the lies.
  3. It is completely normal to drive away from the hospital, or birthing center, or exit the birthing tub in your living room, with your newborn and be in literal shock that they handed you a tiny person and let you keep it. I mean what do you know about being responsible for an entire human being? Don’t worry. We’ve all been there. And our kids are just fine.
  4. Yoga pants are always an option.
  5. Simplicity is underrated. 
  6. There will always be a catastrophe the second you try to shower or nap or poop.
  7. It’s not a TRUE catastrophe unless someone is bleeding.
  8. Listening to your kids is not the same thing as really hearing them.
  9. Embrace the minivan.
  10. Comparison has the power to destroy me. And you. Fight it. Hard.
  11. Target is out to steal all of our money and also to cause enormous embarrassing tantrum scenes in the Lego aisle. To avoid the tantrum, run past the toy aisles while covering your kids eyes. People will stare, but who the heck cares? You are winning at life.
  12. Busy is not better. In fact it’s way worse.
  13. Sugar is the enemy. The beautiful, delicious enemy out to destroy attitudes and teeth and bedtime.
  14. Playing with your kids is never a waste of time. Even though your weapon sound effects are embarrassing and your super hero voices are laughable. All your kids notice is that you are there. With them. Doing something they love.
  15. Jesus loves you. Even when your patience is short and your voice is sharp. Even when you’re locked in the bathroom hiding from your hurricane of a toddler and reminding yourself to breathe. And even when you’re tucked tight in bed bingeing on Friends and anything chocolate you can find.
  16. Take the time to put yourself in your kids shoes. It will change how you parent. And teach them how lovely empathy is.
  17. Other mamas are not the enemy. In fact we’re on the same team. Act like it.
  18. Kids wake up earlier on the weekends. Netflix is your friend. Before you leave an opinionated comment about screen time, please reread number seventeen.
  19. You will always be five minutes late, no matter how many empty threats or weak bribes you throw at your kids, they just won’t stop taking time to enjoy every tiny stick and bug and spider they see. Maybe you need to take a lesson from them on enjoying the little things. Also you should probably leave ten minutes earlier.
  20. Notice the wonderful in your kids more than you notice the naughty. Then take the time to tell them.
  21. Assume the best of your kids. Of other kids. Of other parents. Of yourself.
  22. Prayer is powerful.
  23. It truly does take a village. Ask for help. Offer help. We are so much stronger together.
  24. You will never take sleep for granted ever again. Or having more than four inches of your own bed to sleep on. Or privacy. Or peace and quiet. Or your waistline. Or peeing alone.
  25. Whining is mama kryptonite. If our kids ever find out they will officially win.
  26. Selective hearing is the super power every child is born with. They perfect their skills at a very young age. Be vigilant.
  27. Dance parties can instantaneously fix almost any problem.
  28. Grace is a gift. Give it. Receive it. Live in it.
  29. Poop jokes bring kids endless amounts of joy. If you tell a poop joke you are automatically the coolest parent. Ever.
  30. Trust yourself. You have totally got this.
  31. Live a life worthy of your kids imitation. Let them see you make mistakes. Hear you ask for forgiveness. Watch you pray, read, serve, laugh and love deep. Oh, and being silly. Definitely let them see you being silly.
  32. Your kids are not perfect. You are not perfect. But you are perfect for each other.

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armpits. and pudding.

I can remember it just like yesterday. I mean it was only last week, but the trauma is as fresh as five minutes ago. We were driving to Whole Foods to buy clay for my face. (It’s a thing. It works. I promise. But more about that in another post.) We had just taken our exit when one of my children needed something super important right that very second. I remember reaching into the backseat to tend to my little angels. I was trying to reach whatever had fallen onto the floor and rolled just far enough out of my reach to make me swear under my breath. As I reached for it I suddenly realized that the terrible odor I was smelling was definitely coming from me. I dropped my arm down at lightning speed. Just as I was about to come up with a wafer thin excuse about why I could’t reach the dropped toy, I heard my husband do a quick double sniff.

The dreaded double sniff.

You know the one.

It’s not the deep inhale of a man savoring a woman’s perfume or delighting in the aroma of chocolate chip cookies. It was the quick, one two sniff, with the crinkled nose and the sideways glance. The double sniff that is typically reserved for dumpsters or newborn diapers or in this case his wife’s underarms. And then, just to make the situation more horrifying, for me, we had the following conversation.

Me: Oh crap, you just smelled me didn’t you?

Husband: Well yeah. But I’ve been smelling you a lot lately.

Me: (mortified and stuttering) WHAT?!?! What a terrible thing to say to your wife! What do you mean you’ve ‘been smelling me a lot lately’?!

Husband: I mean I know you’re experimenting with different deodorant options and…

Me: WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME!!! How many other people have been ‘smelling me a lot lately’? What did they say to you? WHO ELSE KNOWS ABOUT THIS?! This is the worst conversation I have ever had. Ever. It’s not my fault you know. They just don’t make a good aluminum free deodorant option. I am trying!!! Do you think I want to smell?

I continued on and on in my own defense. I was vaguely aware that my crazy was showing and my husband somehow refrained from laughing out loud at me.

But I knew how bad I smelled and I knew the Florida heat was out to destroy my quest towards smelling good and I knew I had most likely alienated dozens of potential friends because of my experimenting. And I wanted to scream. So I did. In my head anyway.

Why is there no middle ground between smelling like a flower but filling your pits with aluminum, and saving your body from all of the aluminum and chemical exposure but sweating like a pig and smelling like a trash can? 

THERE HAS GOT TO BE A BETTER WAY!

That day I stayed in the shadows at Whole Foods hoping that everyone else was too busy, figuring out how to sell their stocks to pay for quinoa and kale, to smell me. I paid without making eye contact and high tailed it to the car. I was bound and determined to figure out a way to a) not smell and b) forego chemicals and metals and c) never have a conversation about my body odor with my husband EVER again.

You guys, the last seven years of my life has been spent experimenting. Experimenting with food and beauty products and household cleaners, and homeopathy, and holistic medicine, and acupuncture and essential oils and on and on and on. Once in a while I experiment in the kitchen and make an amazing recipe. And just as often I try some new goop on my face and wind up with a breakout reminiscent of eighth grade. I have found brilliant doctors who have helped me heal and regain a life I never thought I would live again. I also visited a doctor who went barefoot in her office and was a clown in her spare time. She tried some sort of laser, energy, Star Trek treatment on me. When I asked her to explain how it worked, she laughed and said she had no idea.

I couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried.

Now it’s time to share all that stuff with you. So wrapped up in between motherhood posts, and homeschool stories and dreams of saving sisterhood, I will continue to share with you my crunchy catastrophes as well as my biggest victories. Maybe you are on a healing journey of your own and some of what worked for me might help you. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes. Maybe you have had similar experiences and knowing you are not alone will be encouraging. Maybe you’re perfectly healthy and you can’t relate to my story at all but you want to laugh at a stranger. Whatever reason brought you here, welcome.

I’m excited to inform you that I think I may have found the answer for my armpits. I’ll share more when I’m absolutely sure, but I’ll give you something to research and think about in the meantime.

Magnesium oil.

It’s a miracle worker. Our bodies need way more magnesium than we give them. And our armpits tend to stop stinking when we use magnesium oil as deodorant. Now I have sensitive skin and straight magnesium oil is a little irritating for me so I am currently experimenting with exactly how much to use and how to dilute it so that it keeps me stink free but not in pain. Then you can benefit from my suffering. You’re welcome.

But seriously, read about it, I’ll be back soon to discuss the results of my experiments. Oh and I’ll talk about acne and how clay can heal your skin. Because that is a train you need to get on. And since you’ve stuck around this long and read more about my armpits than any one person should ever have to, I want to share the recipe for one of our favorite treats as a thank you and please come again. IMG_0080 I found the recipe for that gorgeous raspberry chia pudding right here. IMG_0081 Then I made our go to avocado chocolate pudding. Yes I said avocado. And yes it is delicious. And yes one of my kids will eat it and the other one won’t because he says it looks like poop. Oh well, more for me. IMG_0086 And him. Because he loves pudding and I love him so I’m willing to share. A little bit. How do you make this pudding you ask? I’m not a food blogger so I don’t have the fancy recipe card plug in yet or anything, but this is so easy I think we’ll be okay with out it.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding
serves 3-4 (or one if you’re a pig like me)

Ingredients 

  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/2 c medjool dates
  • 1/2 very ripe banana
  • 2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of sea salt
  • a small amount of coconut milk or water

Instructions

  1. Remove pits from dates and soak dates in warm water for 15-20 minutes.
  2. Throw all of the ingredients, except for water/coconut milk, into a blender and puree. (It is important to note that a high powered blender like a Vitamix is the best for this recipe. However, I don’t have a Vitamix, in fact I blend this up in my tiny little NutriBullet. I do have to stop several time and scrape the mixture down the walls and keep going, but I promise it’s worth it!)
  3. While you’re blending you will find that you need to add small amounts of liquid to get the pudding to the right consistency. Slowly add water or coconut milk, but be sure to not add more than you need because you want pudding, not soup. I typically end up adding a tablespoon or a little more but I do it a tiny bit at a time.
  4. Now put your pudding in the fridge for a while and serve it cold. Topped with raspberry chia pudding. Or coconut whipped cream. Or almond butter. Or use it as a pie filling. Or make fudgsicles. The opportunities are endless!

There you have it. I hope it made all of the armpit talk worth it. Let me know how your pudding turns out, better yet take a photo and tag it to #thecrunchyconfessional so I’ll be sure to see it! And now i’m off to watch Friends on Netflix until one of my children wakes up needing a snack and sixteen cups of water before they go back to sleep. Sweet dreams everyone. IMG_0090

this is why i love hashtags.

I love hashtags.

A lot.

I considered naming our new puppy, Hashtag because I thought it was hilarious. Don’t worry. I was mostly joking…

If you know me. You know I love a good hashtag. The more ridiculous the better. But poor old hashtags aren’t usually taken very seriously. Take, for instance, this conversation with my husband tonight.

Husband: Is it okay with you if I go out tonight? I know I’ve been gone a lot this week. (He’s the best.)

Me: Oh no, it’s okay. I have a blog post to write anyway. I’m going to write about how much I love hashtags.

Husband: (long pause) (hysterical laughter)

I knew I could get a good laugh out of him by putting it that way. But I wasn’t lying, exaggerating or being sarcastic.

Hashtags are one of my very favorite things. Ever.

Now before you laugh at me hysterically too, let me tell you why.

Hashtags were created to connect people and build community.

I understand the selfie hashtag probably isn’t building too many new lifelong friendships (Maybe it is. Who really knows?) And I 100% recognize the destructive nature of many hashtags that exist. This post is not to dispute that or say that all hashtags are created equal. This post is meant to hopefully give you a little chuckle at my admitted obsession, but also to show you the wonderful power of this weird social media feature when used one of the ways I believe it was originally intended.

I love community. I live for relationship. Connection. Sisterhood. Family. Team. People.

I have spent the greater part of the past six years fighting chronic illness. For several of those years we weren’t even sure what I was sick with. It took every. single. ounce. of my strength and energy to feed and clothe my kids. Some days I succeeded. Most days my husband had to come home from work early after yet another phone call and desperate plea from me because I simply couldn’t finish the day on my own. (Did I mention he is the best?)

So there I was. A stay at home mom, struggling with things all moms of young kids struggle with, and also fighting for my health. Fighting for my life back. Watching life happen around me. Craving connection and friendship but too sick to leave the house for play dates or girls nights. During that time I found the strange new app, Instagram. I’m going to sounds dramatic again, but I literally had no idea how much that little app would change my life.

I started documenting our life. The lame life that it was at the time.

I added filters with gusto.

Mayfair! Valencia! Early bird! Lo-fi!!!!

I was reckless and out of control. Isn’t everyone when they’re falling in love?

But my life didn’t really change until I discovered hashtags. I remember browsing the suggested user list on Instagram and seeing lots of number signs followed by words. Finally I started to get the hang of it. Filters AND hashtags? I was unstoppable.

Slowly I began to see the potential for real connection through these hashtags. I found parenting hashtags, crafting hashtags, chronic illness hashtags, clean eating hashtags. I browsed them for hours. It’s a little embarrassing. But true. When you spend most of your time in bed, you find yourself with lots of tag browsing time. As I scrolled and scrolled through these tags filled with photos, I began to visit the galleries of the people I was finding. I began to connect with other moms. Other crafters. Other photographers. We built relationships. We started doing life together. And not just the picture perfect parts. We talked about the hard. The ugly. The scary. The overwhelming. We started to talk outside of social media. We read books together and had online book clubs. We grieved miscarriages and illnesses and hard moves and life’s ever-changing seasons. We celebrated birthdays and new babies and grand adventures. We told the truth. We admitted our weaknesses. We encouraged each other. We took the crazy technology in this modern world of ours and we did what people have done for centuries.

We made friends.

And even at that, some of you will chuckle. And say, “Friends? From social media? Yeah right.”

To which I say, I understand your skepticism. My husband chuckled at me the first time I referred to my friend Jess as such. I believe his exact words were, “She’s from Instagram. She’s not your friend.” As if she weren’t real or the connection we had couldn’t possibly exist.

Two years later we’re still friends and my husband would be the first to admit that the friendships I have made through social media are some of the most wonderful relationships in my life.

Slowly I progressed, became stronger. I began to see hope, believe in healing. As I crawled my way back to some sense of normalcy, I realized how dear these friendships were to my heart and knew I needed to pursue building them further. So far I have spent time in “real life” with seven of my friends from Instagram, and their families. I chat with several more on a regular basis. And in September I’m speaking at a homeschool conference for a couple hundred women, almost all of whom have been connected because of Instagram. And it all started with each of us browsing hashtags and finding people we connected with.

Do you see the power? The wonderful potential?

However, as with all things wonderful, we must not be blinded by the beauty. Remember it doesn’t end with liking a photo or retweeting a tweet. If that’s all the depth there is then I understand why people think social media is a waste of time and takes away from real life and real friends and real community. But I would argue that when used the right way, social media, and all of its endless hashtags, has the power to build and ignite community in a way that our world has never seen before. If we take the extra steps. Go out on a limb. Take a road trip and meet that friend. Go to a conference even if you’re nervous about it. Step out from behind the screen and hug in real life. If meeting in person isn’t possible yet, talk on the phone, FaceTime, send care packages. Allow social media to be a tool to create community, not a substitute for the real thing.

Community encourages, challenges, loves, grows, listens, believes, and heals. And I think hashtags are one of the best community building tools around.

#callmecrazy #ilovehashtags

keep the training wheels. toss the tv.

I adore my children.

I believe that most who know me, know this is true.

However.

Lately I feel like the president of the Crappy Mom Club.

Impatient. Short fused. Ugly voice. Snapping at my kids. Forgetting gentleness. Telling them we’ll cuddle later. Yelling across the house when I hear bickering. And on and on.

There are a million things I want to blame it on. I’ve considered deleting this post a dozen times already. But this is the real. The raw. The ugly.

Last night Ezra was fighting sleep. Like always. And not listening to me. Like always. And watching a movie. Like always. And I snapped. It wasn’t kind or loving or even remotely thought through.

“Ezra! I am so sick of your attitude!”

He looked at me. Held my gaze. I saw in his eyes the same nasty glare that was in mine at that exact moment.

“I am so sick of you!”

I gasped. He quickly said, “Sorry mom!” And rolled back to his show.

I, however, was not so quick to recover. What is happening to my child? Who was that? The past couple of months I have watched him struggle to listen. Fail to obey simple instructions. I have seen him become angry. I have watched my sweet boy react physically when a friend or his brother upset him. He has started bursting into tears the second something doesn’t go his way instead of communicating with words.

And I have blamed my frustration. My stress. My bad attitude. My terrible parenting. On my kids and the way they drive me wild.

Then I felt the tap tap tap on my shoulder. The tap I hate because it means I have done something wrong. The tap I trust with my whole heart because I know it is my Jesus making me more like him.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

My sweet child. Listen to me. Those boys you love. The ones you hold so dear. They will only become the men they are meant to be if you guide them there. Speak gently. Love fiercely. Teach wisely. And live a life worthy of emulating.

Truth I already knew.
Truth I forget all too often.
Truth so heartbreaking. So convicting. So very clear.

Truth overflowing with hope.

I grasped tight. I clung desperate. I claimed that hope as my own.

In the book, Home-Making, by J.R. Miller (one of the best books ever written, in my opinion) the truth is shared as this.

“Selfishness in parents will spread the same unhappy spirit through all the household life. They must be, not in seeming but in reality, what they want their children to be. The lessons they would teach, they must live.”

Oh my heart. My aching, heavy heart.

How dare I act one way and expect my children to act another.
How dare I speak with courtesy and compassion to a stranger, yet pour my frustration out on my babies.
How dare I forget each word I utter has the power of life and death.
How dare I act like the very person I never want to be.
How dare I think I can raise Godly men without first falling daily at the feet of my Jesus.
How dare I think anything good will pour from me when my cup is dry.
How dare I give anything less than the best of me to my boys.

How gracious is my God to gently remind me. Lovingly guide me. Tirelessly teach me. How to be the mama my boys need.

Every time I think I’m ready to take the training wheels off. Think I can handle this parenting thing on my own. Think that I’ve got this.

Tap. tap. tap.
He reminds me.

Parenting always requires training wheels. We are never perfect. We never have it all figured out. And his guidance, his wisdom, his grace, his love, is how we make it through. How our children become their very best selves. How our mistakes are forgiven and relationships are restored.

I think I’ll keep those training wheels. 

I’ll choose not to become overwhelmed by how imperfect I am. How many things I need to work on. How many ways I fail. I will focus on being the best version of me I can be today. Breathing deep and asking myself,

“Is this the way I would want my children to act in this situation?”

Simple enough in theory. Overwhelmingly difficult in execution. Life changing power in this new habit.

Today is day one of this venture into more purposeful parenting. More humble loving. More depth in relationship. And within this large idea of how to be better, there are several practical changes I know we need to make in our household. Changes long thought about but too overwhelming or scary to face. Until now.

Because let’s face it. Our kids are worth being better for. No matter how hard it might seem.

So we start small. One change at a time. Change number one is an enormous thorn in my side. A terrible habit that formed slowly and gradually became a regular part of our daily routine.

Television. Way. Too. Much. Television.

Well, Netflix, YouTube Toy Reviews and Disney Movies to be exact. But too much screen time all the same.

What started as a show or two a day became much more and the worst part of this habit is that for a year or more, Ezra has fallen asleep at night while watching his beloved “calm down shows.” Sometimes it takes hours for him to fall asleep, we’re talking midnight or later, but I so desperately craved quiet time to myself, that at the time it didn’t matter what the cost. So what if he watches shows at night? It can’t be that big of a deal. Can it?

The past several weeks as I began to feel more strongly about kicking this habit of ours, I started reading articles and watching videos about the effects of too much tv and young kids brains. The science behind it has brought me to tears on more than one occasion. How easy it was to stick my kids in front of the tv and not think about how detrimental it really was because I chose not to do the research.

The more I have read. The more I have learned. And the more convinced I am that the majority of Ezra’s behavioral issues lately are a result of way too much screen time. Too much stimulation for his little brain. If this sounds dramatic, I promise you it’s not. Below I have posted a fantastic TED Talk, delivered by a doctor who has done extensive research into the effects of tv on a young brain. It is well worth your time to watch.

How could I watch that and not be changed? How could I see Ezra’s shortening attention span and his disinterest in books and games that are “boring”, and not see the connection?

I made a mistake. 

But we’re changing it. 

We have already cut tv completely out of our days, except for Hudson’s nap time when Ezra watches a couple shows. It’s been about a week and it has been ROUGH at times, but the boys have begun to engage in much more imaginative play. They are playing together more. They are creating games. They are also bickering more. But at least I know that means their minds are engaged.

Tonight is the night I have been preparing Ezra for. Tonight we are not going to watch any shows at bedtime. Him or me. I am committed to not watching shows of my own when my boys are awake, so they know this is a change for the whole family. (I’ll still watch a Star Trek episode or two after they doze off… obviously.) I need prayers for strength and resolve to not give in, but I think we’re ready and I know a couple of rough nights will be totally worth it on the other end. The next goal will be to cut out Ezra’s shows during Hudson’s nap time. My ultimate goal is not to have them never ever watch a show again. My goal is for shows to be an occasional treat. For movie nights to be something looked forward to and not expected. For interest in books and play to be chosen over the desire, or the tantrum, demanding mindless entertainment. For me to engage my kids in my daily tasks instead of having Disney Junior babysit while I clean the house.

Even reading those goals I get a little overwhelmed. My palms are sweaty. I’m a tad nauseous. But I mean it. I’m sticking to it. And if you want to follow our journey, or even better, want to join in (we’re stronger in numbers) visit or share on the tag #purposefullyunplugged on Instagram.

Thank you Jesus for grace.