Little things matter. Along the way you discover they weren't so little after all.

Tag Archives: kids

“I’m not wearing them.”

My son had no other clean shorts.

The only other clothes for his lower half were a pair of jeans.

It was forecasted to be 80 degrees.

He runs hot.

Jeans were not an option.

“What is wrong with them? You liked them when we bought them, they look nice on you, so what’s the problem?” I demanded.

“They’re too fancy. They’re church shorts,” he answered.

This coming from the kid who never has to dress up for church. He associates anything other than basketball shorts with “dressing up”. If only he knew what real “dressing up” was, he would not complain.

This is also coming from the kid who usually just grabs whatever from the drawer and throws it on without much thought.

The other two kids had their teeth brushed and backpacks loaded.

Princess Teacup needed to put on her socks and get her hair pulled up.

Bobo was already out the door, waiting for the bus.

The bus was due to come in three minutes.

‘I am willing to go down with this ship,’ I thought.

I had already explained how the shorts he pulled out of the dirty clothes hamper were in there because they were d.i.r.t.y. And if they’d been put in the hamper while they were NOT dirty, then that was too bad ’cause they’d been smushed up against dirty stuff and were now dirty by association. The blue khaki shorts were his only option, but Rex had decided they were a non-contender.

He was now in his bed, refusing to get dressed.

The bus came at 8:18 on the dot. Now it is this time:


Rather than being on my child who is now on the bus, this is where I find important items:


I Am Willing to Die on This Hill

For clarification purposes I should probably let you know that about a week ago I warned my boys that if they didn’t clean up their room by a specific time I would clean it, and all the stuff I cleaned up would go away for a while. I wouldn’t throw it out or donate it, but it would just “go away” for an irritating amount of time.

They cleaned up what their eyes saw, and later on I cleaned up everything that my eyes saw.

Let’s just say there was a lot of stuff in my bag.

Amongst all the toys, there were many articles of clothing in my bag, probably some of the shorts that Rex was now missing.

There are a couple things I would like to get on the record.

  1. I am not an unreasonable person , not a control freak in any way.
  2. I do not have rigorous standards with my children.
  3. It is reasonable for kids to put dirty clothes in the hamper rather than on the floor.

Thanks, I feel better now that you know.

Since I am the person who does the laundry, I don’t appreciate washing clean clothes just because the hamper was the location that required less effort than folding a still-clean shirt and putting it back in the drawer. Am I crazy? Do all the other moms wash clothes even thought they aren’t dirty? Do I have an unfair expectation here?

I say thee Nay!

People of the cloth and soap, we must rise up against the forces that would demand we wash perfectly clean clothes! Think of the wasted time, electricity, water and detergent!


After a brief cooling-off period, I returned to his room and told Rex I had come up with a compromise. If he would just put on the shorts, I would tell him what it was. He put them on, and I started to tell him the compromise, but once he had them on, he immediately realized that they are comfortable shorts.

He has friends who wear similar shorts.

He can still move in the shorts.

He likes the shorts.

I could just pinch him.

The crisis now averted, we loaded up the car and I backed out of the driveway.

He stretched out his ever-growing legs, propped them up on the armrests which are usually protected by his siblings and said,

“Ah, now I can lay out and relax. Maybe I should do this every day.”

The look I gave him in the rearview mirror made him grin and say, “But I won’t.”

Do you have battles with anyone in your family? How do you decide which things to let go? Do you have any tricks to help kids (or adults) keep their rooms clean?  


This post is a part of link-up with Lisa Jo Baker ( Here’s what she says about it:…on Fridays a group of people who love to throw caution to the wind and just write without worrying if it’s just right gather to share what five minutes buys them. Just five minutes.

This week’s prompt was the word “Here” and away we go…

English: Students used LEGOs to 'Build the Fut...My daughter loves to play tiger…or snow leopards or lions or meer cats.Snow leopard

My son loves to play with Legos and create new intricate vehicles.

My other son loves to draw complicated battle scenes.

They all love to tell me about these things in great detail.

I mean exhausting detail.

Mind numbing detail.

It is hard to listen.

It is hard to want to play meer cats again.

But that is a value I’ve tried to cultivate since having kids, to be here, in this present moment together and actively participating in the moment rather than just nodding and saying absent “Uh-huhs” while not really paying attention.There are times when I’m better at it than others.

There are times when I have to tell my kids that I’m taking a break from listening.

They understand my need to turn off my ears for a while.

They also understand that when they speak I listen. I’m all here.

Have you ever taken a long road trip? Gone a great distance on an airplane? Travelled to the grocery store with small children?

My husband and I once combined two of these activities (not the grocery store part, but the small children part and a long road trip) as a summer vacation. Why we deemed it a vacation rather than a crash course in anger management and patience building, I don’t know. We drove in a minivan from Minnesota to Wyoming with a three-month-old and a two- and four-year old. The baby was nursing. The carseat laws were enforced. It was madness.

Good thing we brought hats. Summer in the mountains is tricky!

When you combine all of this (roadtrip, children, mountain driving, long distances, road construction, unfamiliar sleeping conditions) it could have been a stress filled week. But looking back on it now, I don’t remember the whole thing being stressful. Am I using memory suppression in order to block out this traumatic experience? I don’t think so. I think it was just the way it was. One must accept a certain amount of craziness with three kids ages four and under.

When grandparents or people no longer “in the trenches” of parenting young children talk to those who are still in the thick of it, I think they go to two default positions: one is to romanticize those years as being leisurely time spent lolling in the grass, counting the leaves on four leaf clovers. The other is to demonize that time as being constantly harried, maxed out, never leaving the house, and handling disciplinary nightmares. Certainly there are moments of both, and sometimes immediately back to back, but I think the reality is somewhere in the middle.

If you’ve been a parent for any length of time, and have ventured out in public, you’ve probably been greeted by someone who holds one of the two extreme memory positions. There are those who shake their heads sympathetically and say, “Are you ready for school to start yet?” And there are those who get all quivery-lipped about the kids and dab their eyes while saying, “Cherish this time. It goes so fast.” Without fail, I run into the person who acts the exact opposite of what I feel at that moment. I’m friendly and make a brief comment about leaving a trail of baby socks or toys behind us so we can find our way out of the store, but rarely can I agree with them.

The reality is, life continues. You can’t stop doing all interactions with others once you have a child. You can’t pile an entire cupboard of dirty dishes into the sink while you stare in amazement at the little person who can now sit up for three minutes without falling onto the pillow you have placed behind her as a spotter. (I mean, you can, but eventually somebody has to make dinner around here, right?) The reality is, sometimes you just do what needs to be done and you can’t get caught up in how much work it is or how much patience it involves or how little you’ll actually get done in a one hour period if you bring the kids versus what you could get done in that same period WITHOUT the kids.

(You don’t get an hour without the kids? Well just wait. Once you do, you’ll be flabbergasted at all the things you can cram into 60 minutes.)

Keep pressing on, all you parents! Bust out the sunscreen and the bug spray. Don’t forget your water bottles. Live it up! Enjoy the children you have in your family, even in those moments when the only positive thing you can think about the baby is that she is a human gas decoy (go ahead, use the baby to disguise your own gas. Silently toot then make a comment about how gassy she is, she’ll never know). Even you who are at the point of looking back with astonishment that you made it through, you probably aren’t done being a parent, even now. You just get to be at a different stage of parenting, when it looks a lot more like mentoring or friendship (or heckling — it all depends on your strategy). If you abandon all outside relationships and activities, you might regret it later, either for your children or for yourself.

So take that vacation, even if when you get home you need another vacation just to recover. Luck favors the prepared, dahling, and vacation is for making memories, if only the memories you’ll have to laugh about later if it was a disaster. At least you will have the memories together. Hooray for summer!

It is cool this morning, the air is dry, and there is a subtle scent that has me thinking that even if the calendar didn’t say it was the middle of August, I would still know that autumn is on the way. My sweetie has been saying it is the end of summer since July, though, so I’ve been resisting and trying to be the summer optimist.

My family is in for a serious reality check this fall. Over the past year, we’ve had very few things regularly scheduled in our lives. I homeschooled my oldest son, my middle son did a few days of preschool, and our youngest, our daughter, just hung out and did whatever the rest of us did. Even this summer, my husband and I chose not to sign up the kids for many activities, for a few different reasons: we wanted to be free to spend time at the family cabin, we were just getting settled into a new house and town, we don’t want to be the parents that schedule every waking moment for our kids…and we missed most of the deadlines in the spring!

A few weeks ago, however, I wished we had more structured outlets for the kids. There was one five day period when they were all crabby and difficult, which made me feel crabby and irritated. I realized then that there is a certain amount of schedule that helps define a summer, helps punctuate it and make it flow. Of course families who sign up their kids for multiple clubs or sports also have times when their kids are ornery too, but they have more times when they don’t have to hear it since their kids are off doing something else with somebody else. There’ve been times when I wished for that this summer, if I’m totally honest. But shhhh, ’cause I’m not supposed to say that out loud.

As we get ready to start life with a 2nd grader and kindergartener (the preschooler hasn’t gone anywhere, but we aren’t sure if she’ll attend a program or not), we want to be purposeful about which activities we enroll the kids in. There are so many things available for kids to do these days, and they’d probably have a great time in any number of them. But we’re trying to look towards the future, and not get ourselves committed to something we’ll regret later.

Let’s take sports, for instance. What if we sign up our oldest for hockey this winter? Do I ever want to see my baby get checked up against the boards by a boy twice his size? That sounds like a really stupid idea! But what if he tries it and likes it? I had a brother who played hockey growing up, and I’m familiar with the sharp smell of indoor ice rinks and the smell of stinky hockey equipment cluttering up the laundry room. And football doesn’t seem much better, without even bringing up the expense of the required equipment.

It’s not only sports that we’re thinking about. In an attempt to raise well-rounded children, we also want them to be involved in music (a high priority for me, especially). Do we automatically start them on piano? Then I’ll have to draw them a keyboard on the dining room table, ’cause we don’t have a piano, nor do we intend to purchase one. (Do they have indestructible, outdoor pianos?) Then there’s the mid-week church activities, not to mention all the after-school clubs they offer these days. We could already choose between chess, Legos, science, cooking, art, and even more “enrichment” activities.

How does one choose? That’s where you come in, Dear Reader. I have my own ideas, but I’d love to hear your words of wisdom, as my family enters the world of elementary school schedules, and grooming my children to take over the world. How do you pick between “the better” and “the best” for your family? Post your comment so I can come back and blame you when I’m stressed out from driving my kids all over the place! Ha! I’ll need somebody to be the scapegoat.

My Children's Musical Future

Two days ago it was over 100 degrees here in good ‘ol Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes and plenty of beaches that are either skunky or private. Until I started trying to find a lake to swim in, I never noticed how many of our 10,000+ lakes are really only for fishing – lots of them are surrounded by reeds or weeds that would devour any brave swimmer who attempted to reach the open water.

My three kids and I loaded up the car in search of a better beach experience than our most recent at the horrible, smelly, dead-fish infested beach on White Bear Lake which, as it turned out, had a sign posted saying “No Swimming” because of the low water levels and drop offs. As if I would have wanted to hopscotch over the fish corpses to get to the water in the first place (okay, there were three dead fish, but they had been there a long time and the whole place smelled like it should be the end of August instead of the beginning of June). I remained scarred by the disappointment of our last swimming attempt, so although the kids were outfitted in swim suits, I remained in my tank top and capris. Soon, I was wishing I had exercised more faith and put on the swim suit because we found one of the best spots I’ve been to and it was less than 10 minutes from my Lake Elmo home and, wait for it, because it happened to be the first Tuesday of the month, it was FREE. I couldn’t have planned it better if I had tried!

What was this sublime discovery of bliss on such a sweaty hot day? It was a swimming pond. What exactly is that, you ask? To the untrained eye, it looks like a cross between a traditional pond (because of the small size), a sandy beach (because of the, well, the sand), and a park (because of the restrooms close nearby and the playground just over the hill). But it is even more than all that. It is a chlorinated, shallow, sandy bottomed haven of respite on an unseasonably hot day. It was perfect for my three kids (ages seven and under) to splash and swim safely for hours without any leeches, weeds, or swimmer’s itch. I was kicking myself for not having on my suit because we would have stayed much longer than the two hours we did had I been prepared. Next time, I’ll bring one of those plastic weave, collapsible lawn chairs so I can sit in the water and throw things for my little retrievers to fetch while I bask without getting any sand anywhere it does not belong.

The word on the street is that if you want a spot under an umbrella, especially on the weekend, you must get there by 10:00a.m., and the weekends during the summer are very busy. It will be sure to pick up as children finish school. It was also suggested that it settles down after dinner, so for less activity and more room to spread out, it might be wise to leave for an early dinner, then return just as everyone else is heading out. It only costs $25 for a permit that is good for a year, which is so worth it especially when you consider the cost of bringing a family to a water park for the day. I drive a rockin’ minivan so just think of how many people I could cram in it and bring to the swimming pond, especially if we have a hot summer. If you’re looking for a cheap time and a chance to swim, dig, splash, build, float and relax, this is the place to try. (Scroll down in the link to see/read info about the swimming pond.)

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