Why Moms give Unsolicited Advice

As with 90% of my blog posts, this thought train comes out of a conversation with my best friend Betsy. Thankfully we are constantly catching ourselves doing annoying things and laughing about it with each other. We probably only have a few more years of self-awareness before we're just downright ridiculous. Bless. Betsy reminds me every day that you don't have to live close by, or have quiet kids because ours are for real the LOUDEST (hers are worse) to maintain a great friendship.

Here is a little flashback montage of Betsy and I, we worked for a campus ministry together so there was a LOT of dressing up for theme nights-- which are a clean version of a sorority social!

And one picture of us looking normal, just as a reference
One of the drawbacks in talking on the phone with people is that you avoid it because it has been TOO long and there is TOO much to say and we all have NO time. Find a Betsy! Restrike up a friendship with an old friend that you can talk to for 3 minutes, where most of the conversations start with: "Listen to this..." and end with your children slapping each other or needing their butts wiped.

Today I told Betsy that I have started noticing I do this super annoying thing, I give a lot of unsolicited advice. For instance, a great friend came to visit a few weeks ago and I could not stop offering my opinion on things. What the best diaper brand is, how to sleep train, my newest recipe for baked chicken, why I stopped wearing flip flops (no time for pedicures!), where to buy the best almonds. Who even knows what I was talking about half the time?! I couldn't stop!

If you have ever been in a group of women, particularly parents, you might notice that person, the outspoken lady who has her two cents to say about every topic. Having become that sort of person myself, I would nothing more than to tell you why some people can't keep their thoughts to themselves! Because that is my new M.O.

I'll start by sharing an example and a chance to give you a piece of advice. Last week I tried a recipe that was awesome-- baked apples by a favorite blogger Mix and Match Mama. I bought an apple corer 2 years ago and finally had a little bit of motivation to use it as this recipe sounded so easy. No added sugar (aside from maple syrup) and all the ingredients were in my cupboard: apples, oatmeal, pecans and raisins. My kids helped me without creating a mini-food tornado in the kitchen, and it tasted amazing. It was even safe for my baby to eat and he gobbled it up.

Being home alone with the kids, I sometimes don't even notice how desperate I feel to share life with another adult. My husband can only get THIS MUCH excited about the baked apples I made 8 hours ago-- and didn't save any for him,--when he walks through the door at night. No other adult was in the room with me to chime in and say, "Wow, Ally you really nailed this recipe! How nice of you to try something new for the joy of your children!" Instead I got 3 and 4-year-old feedback like, "Why is it mushy? This makes me thirsty for milk! Mackie got more than me! I dropped mine on my shirt!"

Since I have all the time in the world for self-reflection, sarcasm! --I see that for me, my advice giving comes out of a desire to really connect with other women and not knowing how. Rarely am I listened to around the house. I spend all day figuring out laundry systems and mastering crockpot meals with no one to share my hard won victories with. It takes 10 conversations to make my 3-year-old aware that I'm asking him to pick-up his toys. My daughter takes great joy in doing the same things over and over again that I've asked her not to do, especially picking up the baby! And Archie is oblivious to my voice except when I mention the words "dada" or "bottle" so really I am 0/3 for active listening in my house.

Spending your day issuing unfollowed instructions gets a little old, but ah, such is parenting. It is a new world to interact with others who might not only listen to you but also respect and glean "wisdom" from your thoughts!

This advice heaping definitely was not true about me with baby #1. I was the ultimate advice SEEKER. I read books, I texted friends, I googled all day and all night. Now that we have 3.5 kids, I am for real no more confident. The view that moms with more kids have it more together is a total joke. If anything, we are more clueless because the differences in our kids baffle us and just leave us with more questions than answers! My quest to share things with the world is totally not coming out of a place of pride and confidence, it is much more a desire to engage with other women and actually hear my own voice.

Surely, God is with me, helping me create a life for my family and championing my every move. He holds mamas like in high regard, scoffing at the world's lowly view of the housewife and using our tinniest sacrifices in ways that seem mostly invisible. His promise to use me is a soothing balm to my anxious worries that I'm not a good enough mom, that there is no point in cleaning messes that will be made again, and that my kids will be selfish and whiny until the end of time.

But too, I think God might understand that sometimes--  we just want to be good at something. We need a little win, and a pat on the back. Since nobody is going to pull you aside at the end of the quarter and give you a raving peer-review, offer you a year-end bonus, give you an office "perk", or tell you you got a promotion and bonus, I tend to settle for sharing things on social media and hoping friends engage me with comments and likes.

I forget that there is no replacement for instead being that soft place to land for another friend, being the one to listen and not judge, to receive her worries and concerns and help her carry her burdens through a little encouragement and a sympathetic ear. When I imagine the type of friend I long to be and am working towards, I think of a person who is at peace with all her frettings and failures and has learned to silence them in order to better hear the ones she loves.

But for now, I am still taking the unsolicited advice route-- if I don't stop myself soon, I can totally see myself as one of the older ladies hovering around small children at the grocery store, reminding mothers how quickly it all passes-- and shouldn't that baby be wearing socks? It is a good reminder that those women often aren't judging you, they are doing their best to connect in an otherwise lonely world. Perhaps you are the only person that will interact with them that day so please smile, give a nod, and if they ask you in a sassy tone: "Are all of those children really yours," cheerfully smile and tell them you and your husband just have a lot of sex!

Long Car Trips with Littles!

Let me preface this by saying, I love driving. I grew up in Chicago, but attended college in Charleston, SC so I made the 14 hour drive back and forth a couple times a year. I love the freedom, the independence, the scenery (except for Indiana, no offense). I love being able to tune out, listening to my favorite podcast, my audible app, or book on tape-- I once drove 14 hours to Charleston, but sat in my car for an EXTRA HOUR once arriving because I was finishing up the 7th Harry Potter book on cd, I mean... who wouldn't!?

So I already don't think it's a big deal to make long treks, adding the kids has certainly changed things but seeing my family is really important to me. Driving 6 1/2 hours to Chicago (even though with Archie who loves to pretend he's hungry, but then laughs at me instead of taking his bottle-- it actually takes us 8 hours) is worth it no matter what transpires during the car trip. We make this drive every month in the Summer, and about every 6 weeks in the Fall/Winter. I am always wondering how things will change when we add another kiddo to our brood this January. I already am anticipating that we will never leave the house, Lord help me, please come visit us!

Another reason for our frequent trips is my husband works a lot, maybe I have mentioned this before? I call it my "Martyr Banner" that I love to wave around! The point is, he has crazy hours, and even though it depresses him to come home to an empty house at night, I crave community and connection that I can't always find at home during this season of our lives. We are at peace with that, and get creative with finding outlets that refresh us. The family that waits for me in Chicago offering to baby-sit might be a big incentive for these long trips! And also getting my hair highlighted is a TOP priority during this season of my life, because um, one must look dignified at CostCo and the preschool drop-off/pick-up. I leave the kids with my mother-in-law, and get to spend all morning turning blonde at the salon, saving my baby-sitter money for a REAL crisis-- like having to go to the post office.

I know, it's hard to believe I could ever leave this face for days at a time
Hopefully without being too cavalier, I am relating driving with kids to the 5 stages of Grief.
The similarities must be spotlighted:

1. Denial (pulling out of the driveway)-- 
You have loaded the car, everyone has gone to the bathroom, the sun is shining and the snacks have been portioned out. The car is organized, the children are singing, there is the promise of an unseen dvd you just checked out from the library on the horizon. You downloaded a new podcast, your phone is fully charged and your headphones are within reach (note: headphones are illegal, but essential. Do not judge, or tattle).

You falsely believe this trip is going to go smoothly, your kids look at you with hope and encouragement, they are so excited to embark on this journey! They cannot wait to do all the fun things you have promised them! They have no idea they have to wait 8 hours to go to the park with Papa and have that special dinner Nana made them. It's only 9 in the morning and you will not be there until dinner time, but use the cheery voice and don't look at that ETA on your GPS!

Smile on, Archie, it's gonna be a great day!
Someone dropped something but that's okay, you will pull off onto the exit ramp to get it for them, you are so sure this is the only time this car trip you will have to do that. Whatever they need!

2. Anger (3 hours in)--
The snacks are gone (because they got spilled all over the car) you can't find anything in that massive pile of crap in the passenger seat. You went to grab a pacifier for the baby and put your hand in mashed banana. Someone is crying because the dropped a toy they MUST have that you CANNOT reach. You just stopped, but they have to go to the bathroom again.

Most frustratingly, you are ALL OUT OF ALL THE WORDS. You cannot even believe you have 5 more hours of this.

At this point you have also done at least one stop, unless you're a driving rockstar then don't pass go, don't pull over, no drive thru, keep at it mama! Stops kill me. I would rather do anything than stop. We used to be so quick! 2 kids! What a breeze! Now by the time everyone has gone to the bathroom, we purchased snacks, and Archer drank his bottle, THEY NEED TO GO AGAIN. This happens to me all the time! Usually they only completed 1/2 of the potty options and require ANOTHER trip back inside. I die! Here is where I beg my well-potty-trained kids to wear pull-ups, the disgrace!

3. Bargaining (4 hours in)-- These are some of the lower moments of my parenting. It's called The Zone of Compromise, where you make a choice that is not sanitary or that may come up later when your kids go to therapy.

This is the stage where I may say things like:
"I am so sorry that you peed your pants, but your baby brother is napping and we are unable to stop because he spent the last hour crying himself to sleep. I will give you my shirt so that you can dry yourself off the best you can."

"Please watch this dvd I put on for you! When we stop, I will let you choose any candy you want if you do not ask me again how long this car ride is!"

"That is so sad to me that your dress fell into the toilet. No, you can't walk through the gas station naked. Please wear this hoodie of mine until we get to the car!" To to which my 4-year-old cried, "But why do I have to cover up my chest, Mama? I don't even have ta-ta's!"
Loving Life!
During this stage, you may do things that you did not know you were capable of...

I may [or may not, depending on how grossed out you are] have taught myself to pee in a cup when Emmy and Mack were both babies. Marginal spills occurred. The idea of taking a baby in a carseat carrier, AND holding the hand of 14 month old who could barely walk into a gas station to use the restroom COMPLETELY overwhelmed me. Since they were both in diapers and didn't need toilets, I learned this skill and would pull over (out of sight of the truckers, always the lady that I am!), take care of business, throw it in the trash, and we literally never go out of the car during what was back then a 5 hour car trip to my mom and mother-in-law's!

To keep a toddler baby happy, I also have handed out ridiculous, age-inappropriate snacks like leftover spaghetti squash in a tupperware. This was back when we were strictly following the paleo diet and on my way out the door, I just grabbed whatever I could find in the fridge!

4. Depression-- (5-7.5 hours inthis trip will never end. The rest of my life I will be in this car listening to the Little Mermaid play on repeat. These kids will never stop fussing. We have HOURS to go, I have used up my caffeine allotment for the day, and I am starving too!

One thing that helps me when things look really dark is my refusal to answer the "Are we there yet, how much longer question?" This falls under my "I do not negotiate with terrorists" mantra. They are starting to ask that, and I am sticking firm to my: "I'm sorry, I do not answer that question. We get there when we get there!" Which actually takes WAY longer to say then "30 minutes," ha! But I am hoping this will benefit me in the long run.

5. Acceptance-- (tbd, based on your capacity for chaos this may never come) Here is where the ear phones really come in handy.

I love this throwback photo!
At this point, you  might not want any tips from me, but here are some anyways!

1. We love this lap table. It is soft but firm enough for them to color on. It also has ridges to keep toy trucks, markers, and snacks from rolling off. You simply buckle it around the back of the carseat.

2. I think it's easier to drive with the kids in their jammies, and slip-on shoes. Because they inevitably take them off, it makes for a quicker transition to get out of the car for stops.

3. I try to do a mix of snacks with at least one sweet treat but then some extra protein. My kids love beef jerky, cheese sticks, and almonds. They know that mom chooses their "treats" when we stop. Everyone also gets a sippy cup that is half filled with water.

4. After a trip where BOTH toddlers had an accident, I keep wipes, a change of underwear, and extra pants close by so I don't have to open the trunk and have suitcases fall on me!

5. We we stop for lunch (almost always a Chick-fil-a) I let them run around and play for a while, then get our meal to-go and eat in the car. I don't want to waste valuable bathroom-going-time by sitting at a table eating. If it is a "quick" stop, I challenge whoever isn't using the potty to a round of calisthenics! "Do 10 jumping jacks, I yell! Now touch your toes 5 times. Show me how high you can jump!"

6. I always have our stops planned out, since our route is familiar to us, I can time everything based on crankiness and starvation levels! This helps as I can explain to the kids what to expect before they get out of the car.

7. If you have the extra time, it is worth it to stop at a park! Last time we stopped at a lake with a playground and had a great walk about 5 hours into our trip. Everyone got fresh air and the baby even slept the last few hours! Although that day we left Chicago at 9 am and rolled into our house at 7pm, it still felt good to have done something else besides sit in the car all day!

8. Driving alone with little ones can seem daunting, but it some ways it is easier than traveling with my husband. The kids know I'm inaccessible so I am not coerced out of my seat every like some bendable ballerina every few minutes to get a dropped toy or pass back a snack.

This of course is NOT true when you have a nursing baby! I loved having Michal with me (for his companionship #1) because he would take the big kids into get a snack and go potty while I nursed Archie in the front seat. By the time they got back, I would be done and pass him the baby to change (we like to do this on the front seat of the car with our portable changing mat, I still do this even though Archie is huge because the bathroom changers gross me out! Such varying standards from the lady who pees in a cup!) then I could run in unaccompanied to use the potty myself.

9. I have tried leaving every time of the day, and for us, mornings are best. I pack the car the night before and then grab the rest of the essentials in the morning, giving them about an hour to run around and get out some energy before we head out. If Mike is with me, we leave at night which I LOVE because we can turn off the dvd player, listen to music, and actually talk. Mack has never slept in the car so he will chat us up until 1 am or so!

10. If you hate driving, you will probably hate driving with kids. Find a buddy or just fly if you can swing it! I think it is just a preference issue so don't feel guilty if this isn't your jam!

Like all parenting things, part of the day I am thinking to myself, "I got this! We can do anything! This is so fun! My kids are awesome!" followed immediately by moments where someone announces "Mommy... I think I am going to throw up" as we drive past a NO EXIT FOR 40 MILES sign. Such is the life!

You Know You Be Livin' in the Country If...

We have been "enjoying" our isolation from civilization for the last year. A lot of these observations about country life might seem dramatic, but keep in mind I have never lived in a city that had less than 200,000 people. We had a brief stint in Pella, Iowa but that place is kind of like a small-town dreamland. Picture: windmills, a perfectly manicured square, it is illegal to mow your grass on Sundays (noise violation!), and it is pretty much out of the movie Pleasantville --in a good way, because we are BASIC and like stuff like that.

Now we are legit rural people, our town is less than 3,000 and that is big compared to the surrounding ones. The main struggle is we are missing the BIG THREE, my requirements for all the joys and happiness:

1. Coffee Shop
2. Target with a coffee shop
3. Mexican food

There is a lot to love about the town we're in. The people are wonderful, and it really is scenic as we're in the Loess Hills, which is this cool area where the dirt has settled into these beautiful hills.
Country rooooooad, Take me hoooooome
Being a new country gal, here are a few ways to know if you live in the country:
  • It constantly seems like the woods are trying to take over your house.
Can you spot the Mike doing his weekly sweep of leaves and cobwebs off the roof?

My funny husband told me the other day that it reminds him of a documentary he watched of Chernobyl (and I am wondering when the heck was that because I have only seen you watch the fishing channel and weirdo hunting dvd's where all the grown men WHISPER). He said once the town was abandoned, trees started growing through the middle of buildings. We are days away from that here.

This is our backyard "garden" just a few feet from our house. I love the view from my family room windows of the poison ivy and poison oak vines drooping down, really gives it that something special. 

After hearing my complaints, last weekend Mike started hacking at all the poison vines with the electric weedeater, sending poison ivy blowing through the air like a dust storm while the kids and I played on the patio. This is real life people. I was yelling at him and stomping my feet, per usual, but he couldn't hear me over the motor. I rushed the kids inside before they inhaled poisonous dust particles and ruined their lungs forever. Terrified by my panicked yells at their father, they were crying and asking me why daddy was being so naughty!

His response? "Well, I'm not allergic to it." It really is every man for himself out here. Wild west I tell ya.

  • You call the previous homeowners to ask them where the trash cans are and they laugh at you, saying, "Oh honey, you gotta go down to the Walmart and buy those yourself!"

"So who comes and picks up the trash?" A valid question from the suburbanite.

"You've got to hire somebody to do it, there are some local guys in town that have a truck."

City girl be like whaaaat?

Also there is no recycling pick-up out here which makes me super sad-- we have an entire closet dedicated to cardboard and plastic. Which fills up until my hubby gets frustrated and drives it to the "Recycling Center" in town (aka a blue dumpster)

Turn left down a dirt road and you see these happy neighbors!

This was my favorite view every morning on the way to preschool, there are 3 white horses the kids and I love to watch
  • You tell your husband you think you hear "a" bat in the garage and he gleefully informs you that there is a very large BAT FLOCK taking up residence in your garage to nap between sunrise and sunset. "But they're so great at getting rid of mosquitoes!" he says. Your kids become proficient at bat noises.

They like to screech at me when I take out the trash.
  • You can pee off the front porch and none of your neighbors can see you (3 out of 4 members of my household have done this. I'll leave you guessing on who). 

This also applies to getting to wear your leopard-print-bathrobe when you go get the mail. Cars do pass by our house often on their way to town, but thankfully we can hear them coming and I have time to make a mad dash for coverage. Due to my slow, postpartum sluggish run (go too fast and I'll start to pee), I've been caught twice. 

  • The closest Target and grocery store are 30 miles away so every time you go, you stock up like it is the APOCALYPSE. You also can almost never buy ice cream (too far) and have to put all your perishables in the cooler you keep in your trunk!

  • You wave at every car you pass, just in case you know them. My neighbors probably think I'm super bipolar. When we first moved out here, I assumed the 20 houses or so that I could see were the only people using these back roads. So I waved at every car I passed, assuming each person would recognize my car as the "new neighbor" and I didn't want to get labeled as unfriendly! Little did I know, there was a network of back roads leading to probably another 100 rural houses belonging to people who drove past our house all the time. So I gave up the waving campaign and settled for a "Oh, I didn't see you" reply when people mention they drove past me and I didn't notice! 
This little guy was attracted to my dust-free baseboards
  • When you talk to people in town, your neighborhood is referred to as "out in the..." as, "oh, you live out in the dips?" Extra bonus if people call where you live the "dips" because then you're just cool. 
    In the winter, there were 8-10 deer that came through our front yard every night to eat all my dead weeds
  • Everyone knows where you live, even if you haven't met them yet. This happens every time I call someone for a repair, because also, #countrylife there are lots. 3 weeks ago it was the AC/Furnace, last week it was the water softener, this week our underground septic tank "smells funny." Each time I find the listing, call, and before I even give out my neighborhood or address the serviceman says, "Yep, I know where you live. I drive by your house all the time." Oh thank you. That does not make me feel any more secure living in the middle of nowhere with no visible neighbors. It took me only one month of living out here to get us a legit security system! 

Visiting our cousins' chickens: Luvie, Dylan, and Chickaletta
  • Stray cats. Rosie is our 5th. Don't ask me about cats one through four, emotions. Every time a new one showed up, I posted on our town's swap page advertising the missing cat that turned up at my back door, solidifying my status as weird new girl in town who didn't understand the feral cat system. Then I realized all the cats are ownerless, there is a nomad pack that prowl the woods roaming from house to house until they're picked off by coyotes, bobcats, or mountain lions (oh, my). This made me second guess Emmy's love to treat the cats like babies and push them in her doll stroller. But then I forgot to warn her about fleas and cat scratch and let the play continue. 
RIP Huck and Sawyer

Rosie was afraid of us her first few days here and sat on this rafter. Mack was terrified and we had to run to our car with our hands over our heads for a week #notcatpeople #dontpooponme

I was afraid of her because I couldn't tell if she had a black nose or was missing half of her face #catfight #literally
Feeling at home now and soaking up the afternoon sun in our flower garden
For real I am grateful for our home and this experience. I would love to see our kids grow up in a small town! The first night we slept in this house, I felt so loved by God who provided this home for us. I love seeing the fireflies light up the woods at night and hear the train whistles echo through town. The verse Psalm 18:18 comes to my mind a lot: "The Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." The slower pace here and getting to see my husband everyday has been so healing for my marriage and redeeming for my crazy parenting methods. Except in the winter. Then shit really hits the fan and as mentioned previously, I for real feel like I'm in the book The Shining. 

A Day in the Life: Ally Edition

One of my favorite bloggers does this every few months, I love it! Except she lives in a beautiful town in Texas, has a pool, drives around in her golf cart, and is all around a whole lot fancier than us out here in Western Iowa.

I had the WORST day with my kids yesterday, seriously I was having flashbacks to when Archer was a new baby and we were all feelin' the stress. Everyone whined the whole morning, including mom, nothing got done, I felt like I was walking in circles all day, and I swear I gave out a dozen bandaids because we were all tired and crashing into things. So I thought it'd be fun to start fresh this morning, and document a "day in the life." It might appear from this post that all I did today was sleep in, take my kids to the park and out to lunch, but try to read between the lines!

4:25 am-- Hubby wakes me up because he can't find clean jeans. Since this is my area of jurisdiction, so many choice words to say about that, I stumbled into the laundry room (aka Archie's closet) and needed to be the one to get the pants since I am WAY stealthier than he is. That man wakes up all the babies in the mornings as he looks for a granola bar. SO. LOUD.

4:30-5:30 am-- it is storming and I can't fall back asleep! Scrolled through social media for an hour, that's a fancy way of saying I looked at people's pictures on Facebook. I think I was still having adrenaline from the stress of watching the Bachelorette finale! #teamrobbie

8:00 am-- Mack crawls in my bed and makes me move over so he can have my "warm spot"

(please don't judge, we are SO lazy. My kiddos have learned to sleep late because it helps ward off the hunger pains they have when nobody is getting out of bed to get them breakfast. I'll learn to be a grown-up again when Emmy and Mack go to school in the fall. We will reform, I promise! Also Archie is finally sleeping all night so I'm celebrating with late mornings! I sure did put my time in with through-the-night wake-ups the first 8 months!) 

8:20 am-- Emmy comes in my room. She is always fully dressed when she comes upstairs and it is never seasonally appropriate. Our high today was 97 so of course she chose leggings and a ill-fitted sweater. 

8:30 am-- Archie awake and trying to stand up. Time to be a contributing member to society.
His pajamas are an indicator of how cold our house is at night, I hate to be hot while sleeping!
8:40-- Feed Archie bottle, put in a load of laundry, unload dishwasher from last night, give the kids breakfast (always an almond butter bar and greek yogurt), make my own breakfast, and since I didn't clean up last night walk around picking up garbage (it's an issue) and stray toys!
I eat the same thing every day! Half a gluten-free English Muffin w/peanut butter
9:00-- Make coffee. Clap hands! 
This is what we're working with today. Mascara from Sunday (it's Tuesday), hair last washed Friday.
9:05-- Emmy "babysits" so I can take a quick shower and shave my legs.

9:12-- Microwave cup of coffee. 

9:30-- Put Archie down for nap. He says no. Cries in crib. Get Archie back up and hope he naps in the car while we're out later.

9:37-- Microwave coffee.

9:45-- Ask Emmy why her hair is wet. Touch hair. It is not wet. It is greasy. Emmy put a whole tube of steroid eczema cream all over body and wiped the remnants in her hair "like she sees Mommy do." Mommy never does this. Call doctor. Call poison control. Bathe Emmy. 

9:52-- Microwave coffee. 

10:25-- Put coffee in to-go cup and wrap the breakfast I never finished in a paper towel to bring in the car. 

10:30 am-- our cousins meet us to drive into Omaha and try a new splash pad

I love these kids and I especially love their mama! They live 10 miles up the road, which is the reason we chose the town we live in. She is hilarious and full of energy, our kids play great together, and our husbands are so similar (they are first cousins) we have lots to bond over and she is one of my favorite things about this season of life. 

11:30-- We got lost, it was quite the journey, so by the time we made it to the actual splash area we were starving and needed a Diet Coke. Stayed at park 15 minutes. Off to the Old Market (a shopping and restaurant district in Omaha) to eat at Spaghetti Works
The girls + Archie eating his bread! So much cheaper than 'puffs,' he loves it!
A sign of a meal enjoyed, who remembers these days crawling under restaurant tables picking up chunks of food?! The best part is I always forget I have a tattoo on my "lower back" that hangs out when I do this and Mike loves to remind me about my tramp stamp
1:45-- Back home, during our 30 minute drive Archie fell asleep even though the kids were yelling and singing trying to keep him up! 

2 pm-- Made dinner while everyone ran around yelling and asking for snacks (um, we just went out to eat!) I LOVE prepping dinner early in the afternoon so I don't have to do it at night. I do this as often as possible, the 5-7pm time slot is so hard for me because I can't drink caffeine that time of day and everyone is starting to freak the freak out. If I have dinner ready to bake/in the crockpot, it makes that time slot easier and I can finish picking up the house or sit and rest for a bit. 

2:30 pm-- everyone off to bed! Archie helped me tuck in Emmy and Mack, then he went back to sleep as well. 

2:45-- Mama settles in her own bed with a book, her computer, and a huge sugar cookie (I made my own icing which is basically whipped butter and some confectioners sugar) Whenever I rest during nap time (which is every, single, day) I hear my mom's voice saying, "When you guys were little, I never sat down during nap time. I always used that time to work and get things done." Good for you, Mom! So sorry to depart from the ancient family tradition of productivity. **But note, my mom is the least judgmental person ever, she just made this comment responding to my complaints that I never get enough done during the day! 

I'm reading At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (she wrote Girl with the Pearl Earring) and it's really interesting! A historical fiction novel NOT about WWII. Last week on vacation I read The Improbability of Love, it was SO, SO good. I highly recommend it! 

3:45-- Emmy comes in my room. I work on the computer while she lays next to me and uses my phone. I finally caved and bought an app they can use, it is called "Jellytelly" they love it! It is faith based tv shows like Veggietales, the cartoon version of my favorite kids' book: The Jesus Storybook Bible, and a whole bunch of other riffraff like a pig that sings Bible Songs and a sitcom called Davey and Goliath.

K, so Archie is not a good napper but today he napped until 5! I for real laid in bed this whole time. Mack got up around 4:45. But since I already had dinner made, and this NEVER happens, I enjoyed just snuggling with my kiddos and relaxing. Since today I was doing the "day in the life" I considered doing something productive to blog about how awesome I am, but I'm not! Just a normal mama who loves a good break when it comes her way. 

5:15-6:15-- a blur of an hour, playing our favorite game "Mom! HOW LONG UNTIL DINNER IS READY?" To which I answer every 2 minutes, making up different countdowns-- because they can't tell time at all!  
Playing outside while Mom finishes dinner 
Emmy feeds her cat, Rosie, who has been with us the longest! She's our 5th stray cat this year, whatever.

My lovies eating dinner and complaining about all the parts they don't like! 
6:15-- Emmy and Mack shower while Archie crawls around putting every single thing in his mouth and partaking in his favorite snack, shoes

6:30-- Post Bath Dance Party, we love Disney Pandora! 

6:45-- Mom cleans the kitchen floors with Archie's help (he eats all the crumbs)

6:57-- DADDY IS HOME!! This is early for him this time of year, usually I put the wee ones to bed before he gets in but we are so excited to see him!!

Archie can't get enough of his "Dada," whenever he hears his voice, he crawls towards him as fast as he can

7:05 pm-- Mom calms everyone down with a book on the couch

 7:10 pm-- Daddy gets everyone riled up by doing push-ups with the kids and throwing them in the air
Not a photo blur, he does not have his teeth in right now

Also missing some teeth
7:15 pm-- Mike puts the kids to bed (even though it sounds like they're wrestling wild bears downstairs) and Mama has her favorite evening snack

 7:30 pm-- Time for our guilty pleasure, Bachelor in Paradise! Love it! So trashy, so much drama, we are new Bachelor fans and can't get enough of this silliness

9:45 pm-- Time for bed for this Mama, sleeping in the same clothes I wore all day, this will make getting ready tomorrow morning much easier 

I will be doing this again, I love being able to capture these memories. I know someday I'll miss the ordinariness of being home and raising these sweet littles. 

Not pictured: My kids asking for snacks 100 times a day, and me giving them snacks 75 times today then wondering why they didn't eat their dinner.

I picked up clothes off the floor for hours, you may notice in these pictures that Emmy has 4 outfit changes and for some reason, Mack likes to put on new underwear each time he poops on the potty (I should probably ask him why).

Also, my kids do not stop talking, ever. It is a joke within my extended family as well, they just follow any and everyone around all day narrating themselves, asking questions, begging for food, attention, and partakers in their fantastical adventures (as I write this they are playing Barber Shop with a container of Dental Floss).  They also talk extremely loudly, multiple friends have noted I should get their hearing checked.

I broke up over a dozen fights, one of which involved Mack sitting on his sister accusing her of stealing from his "Gas Station" which is a weird make-believe game they play where they pretend to pick out snacks at the Quick 'n Fuel. Reminding me that my kids don't need a vacation to Disney World, we just need to give them more excitement than weekly trips to the truck stop.

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