Toddlers, Tantrums, & Tears – oh my!

Hey friends! Today I wanted to write a little bit about tantrums, behaviors, and toddlers! Though, I am writing with my children, who are two years old, in mind. I do think some of these things work with any age group.

If you know me well, you know that studying behavior was something I really enjoyed about my job as a teacher. Why? To me, it was one of the most important aspects of what I did because when my students went into adult life and tried to find a job, or to find a volunteer experience, or to engage with people in other settings – the thing that I would argue would hold students back the most was inappropriate behaviors. It really didn’t matter if a student was on a 1st grade reading level or 3rd grade reading level, if they weren’t kind to other people or able to interact as appropriately as possible with other people. Anyways, that’s a little bit about my background and my passion for studying behavior. My poor children!

With that being said, there are a few things that I believe in my core.

*Most people like knowing what’s going on and what is coming next (some more than others).
*Most people like to feel heard.
*Most people like to feel respected.
*Most people want to have some sense of control over their lives.
*Most people want to have positive relationships with others. With these things in mind, I can better respond to my toddlers when they are having a tantrum over something that appears to be ridiculous – like when they just have to have a certain towel or when they loved strawberries yesterday but the next day they are gagging just seeing them on their plate.

I’ve heard the twos are described as “terrible twos”, but I don’t think that’s accurate. I think two year olds are little people processing A LOT of emotions and stimuli. We need to definitely keep that in mind as we think about their behavior.

Another thing to keep in mind about anyone is that behavior is COMMUNICATION. People are communicating to us through their behavior. With my girls, I try to observe them to see what new behaviors or old behaviors are occurring in their day (behavior doesn’t mean it is bad – it is just how they are acting). Let’s say a specific behavior is reoccurring – like one of my girls biting the other. (I won’t mention any names) The first time it happened it caught me off guard and I didn’t really have time to observe so I had to “react”. My first attempt to curb this behavior was to say “we use our teeth to bite food. we use our words to tell sissy what you need.” If possible, I like to tell my kids WHAT TO DO instead of WHAT NOT TO DO. (you are most likely already doing this, but i’ll write some examples below) Well, the next day she bit her again. I repeated my language. The next day it happened again. I repeated my language. The next day it happened again. Okay, the language wasn’t preventing this from happening, so I said “no ma’am. if you bite your sister again, mommy will have to spank you.” It happened again. I spanked her and then ignored her and focused on my baby with the bite marks. The reason I did this was to discern whether she was biting for attention. If she was getting attention from biting and attention was her motivator then I needed to fix that. It continued to happen, even with me spanking her. I started to notice a trend with the timing of her biting… it would be during a time that she was really focused on an activity (like playing with her animals a certain way in her barn) and her sister would come in like a wrecking ball and join her…interrupting her thoughts and processes. Quite honestly, this would piss me off too. I was able to observe and catch her mid bite one day (i wish someone had video evidence of these days) and I “prevented” it. I stopped both of my girls and explained to her if sissy was interrupting her, she could say “wait sissy” or “no sissy”. If that didn’t work, she needed to come find me. I told her that would we need to use our words and we don’t bite. Then to my other, I explained that she was interrupting her sister. She needed to say “can i play?” and then if she said “no”, she needed to find a different toy at that time.

Okay, that’s a lot of information to tell you this: I had to figure out what the function of my babe’s behavior was in order to really help her work through it. Keep in mind, this was a behavior that I wanted to nix as soon as possible. Thankfully, it never happened to anyone but her sister but my concern was that it would eventually start happening in other settings if we didn’t work through it at home.

Common functions of behavior are attention, escape, sensory, and tangible. Here’s a little chart that explains it. I would best describe her behavior as tangible because she wanted a preferred activity and it wasn’t happening for her in the way she wanted. However, I do think some of it was related to the inability to express herself the way she needed to because of the language skills she had at the time. I felt like it was my job to give her an easy script for the situation and it really helped.

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In my classroom and as a parent, I try to prevent behaviors when I can. There are a few things we can try…

  1. predictability. I for one do not like just being tossed around without any information about who, what, when, where, or why. We have to know our kids and their developmental level but for some kids, verbal explanations are sufficient, for others we may use a visual schedule, maybe for one child we have to explain it several times for them to understand, or maybe we show our child a picture of where we are going. It doesn’t have to be complicated. This morning when we were eating breakfast, I said “today is Wednesday. Daddy is at work today and mommy is at home with you. Today we are going to take a walk in town because we need to go to the post office. I paused for them to think on that. Then I said, after the post office we will go to story time at the library. They responded with “two shakers mommy. leave some for people” (this is a script we have gone over when they want more than 2 shakers so it is cool to see them understand and apply the information). A year ago, our conversation would have been much simpler perhaps something like “first post office then story time”. Over the summer, we want to add a visual schedule. Life is always changing and so is the way we engage the girls.
  2. Positive commands. I don’t know about you, but for me when someone says “don’t walk on the grass” I just have this temptation to stick my toe on the grass when they aren’t looking. We just seem to have this innate desire to rebel again what people tell us not to do. These are easy easy things to fix.
    1. don’t run – walk please
    2. don’t touch that – look with your eyes please
    3. don’t eat that – put that down please
    4. don’t yell – talk quietly
    5. stop arguing – be kind to each other
      I don’t use positive commands 100% of the time of course. There are times, especially in times of danger that I have to say STOP. or NO. to get my girls’ attention, but here’s something to keep in mind… if we are constantly saying STOP or NO then they hold little weight when we actually need them to.
  3. control. Most of us like having at least a little bit of control. God has ultimate authority and control, of course but we do have free will which means we get to control aspects of our lives. The desire to have control is something I see with my two year olds, my husband, myself, my students, etc. I’m not saying complete control, but some control. Something Ethan and I think about are ways to give the girls control over things that don’t change the outcome of the situation. For example, do you want to eat dinner inside or outside tonight? (We give them this option because the goal is to eat dinner, but we don’t have a preference where it happens so this gives them some control). Do you want to use blue or pink toothpaste? Doesn’t matter to me which one they use as long as they brush their teeth. Do you want to nap with your bunny or your kitty cat? Nap/rest time is happening, but you can control what’s with you.

We can’t prevent melt downs, or tantrums, or tears, or negative behaviors from always happening because our two year olds are humans. Little people with big emotions. We are big people with big emotions and we still have melt downs, tantrums, tears, and negative behaviors.

So what do we do when our tools have been pulled out of our toolbox and our kids just tantrum?

  1. Breathe. Most of the time no one will be injured from a tantrum – ha!
  2. Stay calm. It can be hard not to mirror the emotion our little ones are feeling and sometimes we need to know when to remove ourselves if we aren’t able to stay calm.
  3. Hug our child if that helps them. Sometimes they just feel too much and can’t process and just need physical touch and reassurance from us.
  4. Give them space to process their emotions. We tend to fill space with words and that can complicate a situation. We can’t reason with an irrational person – and let’s be honest sometimes toddlers are irrational.
  5. Use language that they can understand. Keep it simple.

Those are just a few simple things that Ethan and I agree work really well at home with our girls. We have both seen fruit from using this in our classrooms too! Do you have tips for preventing negative behaviors and promoting positive ones? All kids are different so I would love to hear what works for you and your family.

Ps: I highly recommend reading “the gift of imperfect parenting” by Brene Brown – she’s much more eloquent that I am 🙂




Our Story – 6 years & counting

Our story. It isn’t anything special, nothing that will lead to a novel on the bestseller list, but it is ours and so it is special to me.

In 2008 Ethan and I both arrived at Appalachian State University as North Carolina Teaching Fellows. I remember meeting Ethan on our first retreat before the actual school year began. My first impression was that he was quiet and he seemed so kind. (first impression was on point) After the retreat, we realized we had a math class together so we would walk the big ole hill down to Walker Hall every Tuesday and Thursday. We started a friendship.. one that included me telling Ethan all about my boyfriend who would hopefully be transferring to App during the next semester. He was a great listener, still is. Things were always just friendly between us. I never got the vibe that he had any romantic feelings for me and I always felt like he respected my relationship.

We spent much of our time with other teaching fellows since we all lived in the same dorm and it was on top of a big hill- most people gave up coming to visit when they saw all of the stairs. Anyways,  I just remember Ethan and I always being in the same friend group during our years of college. There aren’t many memories from my college experience that don’t include Ethan – oh well except for the weekends because he was a homebody and loved going home our freshman year. 🙂

I’ll spare you details, but my high school boy friend and I ended things the spring semester of my sophomore year. It wasn’t an easy break up, but it was definitely the right thing. After a while, it’s like all of the synapses started connecting and I realized how much Ethan’s friendship meant to me and I basically knew I wanted him to be my best friend for like, ever. The summer of 2010 we started dating and really the rest is kind of history. They say when you know, you know and I hate to be cliche, but that summer I knew I wouldn’t date another person. I didn’t know when, but I knew we would get married someday. We were pretty much inseparable those last years of college and praise the Lord after graduation we both landed jobs in the same county.

Ethan proposed in July of 2012, exactly two years after we started dating. The proposal was short and sweet with little fanfare, which is exactly our style. We went down to the pointe at Cherry Grove and ate dinner on the beach. I had an inclination that Ethan might propose because he wasn’t in gym clothes ;), but it was also our anniversary so I wasn’t 100% sure what would happen.

He sang me a song called, “the day before you” by Rascal Flatts and then popped the question. It was an easy yes. Here are the lyrics from the song… cue the waterworks.

I had all but given up
On finding the one that I could fall into
On the day before you
I was ready to settle for
Less than love and not much more
There was no such thing as a dream come true
Oh, but that was on the day before you
Now you’re here and everything’s changing
Suddenly life means so much
I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow
And find out this promise is true
I will never have to go back to
The day before you
In your eyes I see forever
It makes me wish that my life never knew
The day before you
Oh, but Heaven knows those years without you
Were shapin’ my heart for the day that I found you
You’re the reason for all that I’ve been through
Then I’m thankful for the day before you-
Yeah, yeah
Now you’re here and everything’s changing
Suddenly life means so much
I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow
And find out this promise is true
I will never have to go back to
The day before you
We got married in June of 2013 on Oak Island, NC. We had our ceremony on the beach and then our reception at a Yacht Club nearby. I remember feeling so calm the morning of our wedding -napkin colors, place settings, order of events just didn’t really matter to me. I couldn’t wait be married to Ethan.
After we were married, we took our honeymoon in Costa Rica. We had quite the adventure getting there with plane issues, lost luggage, and a complete downpour as we walked the beach back to our hotel. It really felt like a scene from the movie, “just married”, and I felt like our vows were definitely being tested. Here I was taking this country boy to another country for the first time and I just knew he was never going to travel again after the way our trip had begun. I was wrong… we had the most incredible time together and by the end, we were planning our next adventure. Today, we reflect on our years of marriage based on the places we’ve been together.
2013- Costa Rica
2014- Cross Country
2015- Cancun & Alaska
2016- Hawaii
2017- blur
2018- Todd, NC
2019- Todd, NC
Each year has had challenges, heartache, stress, fear, but each year we have experienced simple joys, laughter, deep love, and incredible companionship. Our relationship has always been built on this amazing friendship, one with mutual respect, understanding, compassion, and vulnerability and for that I am so grateful. As for why was Ethan the one for me? He’s the patient to my impatient, the calm to my crazy, the listener to my chatty, and the optimist to my realist. He is stable, humble, kind, generous, and did I mention patient? I don’t believe in soul mates, but regardless I’m thankful that his soul loves mine. Happy Anniversary, babe!

A Winter of House Arrest

If you have seen a little about our story over the last few months, you may know what this title is about. If you haven’t, you may be wondering what crime I committed?! Rest assured there have not been any crimes committed. Let me explain…

On a Saturday night in October, Ava had a runny nose and seemed really worn out. We were at a church event and she fell asleep on us, which is very unusual for the girls to do so it was a red flag that she was getting sick. That night she fell asleep quickly, but didn’t stay asleep. When we got her out of bed, she seemed to be struggling to breathe. Ethan and I made the decision to give her a breathing treatment from her nebulizer machine and bring her back to our bed. Mama instinct maybe? At 2 am, I woke to her labored breathing. In a panic, I called my sister (thankfully she’s up all hours of the night, 3rd shift problems) and the after hours line for our pediatrician. At 4 am, Ethan took her to the emergency room where they gave her a steroid burst (which is a lot of steroids at once) and more breathing treatments. It was scary, but as she started to feel better in the next few days we didn’t really think much about it.

On Halloween, Hayden showed similar symptoms of a cold and difficulty breathing. Thankfully that was on a Wednesday and we were able to take her for a same day appointment. She was given steroids to take over a 5 day period to get her lungs clear. Have you had a kid on steroids? How about twice in a month? They are mean little boogers, and they don’t need sleep when they have it in their system!

On Thanksgiving, we woke up and noticed Ava’s breathing was a little “off” so we decided to give her a breathing treatment and as we did, we realized our box of albuterol was really low. This sent me into a negative head space because I felt guilty for not realizing we needed a refill on their prescription and also very anxious about what we would do since the doctor office was closed and so was the pharmacy. Anyways, we loaded up our car to celebrate with Ethan’s family in Taylorsville, NC. We were all excited to visit with family there and eat yummy food, but also nervous about how her breathing would be as the day continued. After two more breathing treatments and no change in her breathing, we made the decision to leave the gathering (Hayden hung back with GiGi and Paw) to visit the emergency room again. Once again, Ava was given oral steroids and more breathing treatments. (the ER can more safely give higher doses of albuterol because her levels are being monitored by machines there)


At this point, we realized a trend of the girls having cold symptoms and with that, difficulty breathing. It was hard to wrap our brain around because it would come out of nowhere for them and become an emergency quickly. We wondered if we were missing signs? Were we exposing them to something we shouldn’t? What were we doing wrong? Were they allergic to animals? Were we overreacting by taking her to the emergency room? After talking to our pediatrician, she assured us we were doing nothing wrong and that if the doctor’s office was open, we would bring them there, but if not then the emergency room was our only other option. You kinda have to breathe to live, so I guess that’s the emergency part. Our pediatrician reminded us that more than 40 breaths per minute is labored and told us not to second guess taking her in when this happens. (We had spent many hours overnight and during the day wondering when to make the call to take her to the ER.)

The first weekend of December or maybe the second, I really can’t remember at this point, we were lighting the advent candle at church as a family so the girls were skipping the nursery to come to service with us. Ava fell asleep on my mom during church and started to show signs of a cold. Once again we tried at home treatments and ended up in the ER because it wasn’t helping. More steroids, more albuterol. At this point, I was become a big ball of nerves. For starters, seeing Ava and Hayden struggle to breathe was terrifying. Taking Ava to the ER three times in 60 days was exhausting and startling for her. Having our children on steroids 4 times (20 days) out of last 60 was enough to make me feel defeated – steroids are gnarly y’all.

ava sleeping

We met with our pediatrician again and she basically said, “your girls have childhood asthma but no one in the medical field will call it that because they wait to put a label on it. I’m not waiting to tell you that’s what it is because you need to know what is going on so you can respond to it.” She then referred  us to a pediatric pulmonologist (lung doctor) and allergist. After a few hours at his office, he confirmed that basically this is asthma. When the girls get sick, their bronchial tubes swell and restrict their airways. He assured us that typically children grow out of this and he set up a preventative plan for the girls. They were to take an allergy pill daily and they would do an inhaled steroid each morning and each night (much safer than oral steroids). As far as the allergy testing, they tested positive for dust mites and dust mites only which was mostly a relief.


All of the news above was easy to get down with – preventative plan, sign me up. But then he said, “and you need to stay away from other kids during cold and flu season”. Keep your kids home and away from children and adults who are sick. A cold that may take a day or two for you to kick, could take them weeks.” Being me I said, but they can go to the church nursery, story time, and those types of things don’t you think? He looked at me pretty sternly and said, “It isn’t worth the risk. The goal is to keep your girls off of the oral steroids.”

What the what. We had this beautiful routine for each day of the week, which required us to be around other children. Sunday- church nursery. Tuesday-story time. Wednesday-church nursery. Friday- open gym. Repeat. How would I skip all of those things and survive the days at home? What on earth would we do all day? I even said to Ethan, but if I was a working mom, they would be in daycare so I think the doctors are overreacting. My husband gently said, “but you aren’t a working mom. You are a stay at home mom and the doctor wants you to keep the girls home.” Boo! Everyone was out to get me basically 😉 That’s when I deemed our winter, house arrest. It really is a joke, but felt pretty accurate.

I remember putting a post on facebook explaining all of this and getting loads of encouragement. One friend even told me, her winter at home (for similar reasons) was one of her favorite times with her children so far. I knew right then and there I needed an attitude change and a heart change.

When I started this post, I wanted to talk about how I was scared people would think I was a crazy overprotective mom for keeping my kids home, and how I went into my daughters’ rooms multiples times a night after this started happening to make sure they could breathe, and about how I was crippled with anxiety about all of the people we would come in contact with during the Christmas season (7 events so lots of people), and how I could see germs floating in the air everywhere we went, and about how I envisioned myself punching people who said things like “you can’t control whether they get sick by staying home”, and about how I took Ava to the doctor too many times in December just to make sure I wasn’t missing something, and about how one of those doctor visits was really for me and I broke down sobbing about how scared I was all of the time, and about how my pediatrician told me to talk to my doctor about a low dose of anxiety medicine (which I did and am on), but spending more than a sentence on those things feels like a waste of my time and yours…and here is why…

If I spend time telling you more details about those things, then I miss the opportunity to tell you how incredibly beautiful this winter was in spite of the hard. So, how did we survive the winter of house arrest?

God, family, and our neighbors. Such a Sunday School answer, right? Hang with me,

God gave me the word “trust” for the new year. Trust my instincts as a mother, trust my husbands instincts, trust that He sees Hayden and Ava and He is working through the doctors to keep our girls healthy. He took my anxious heart and gave me a spirit of courage. Courage to say “no” to things that wouldn’t work for us because we needed to avoid germs. Courage to tell people what I was feeling. Courage to go into situations (like birthday parties or even the grocery store) and know that everything was going to be okay. God is faithful. Even if we had to go back to the ER, He was still faithful. But since the first weekend in December, Ava and Hayden have stayed well. I can’t even remember a cold this winter much less difficult breathing. Slowly, I began to feel peace in my heart again. What a gift that has been.

Our family stepped up in big ways to make sure we felt comfortable at family gatherings, and encouraged us to do what we needed to do for the girls. My mom would babysit some Sundays so Ethan and I could go to church and we were so grateful for this. Ethan’s parents would come spend a day with the girls so we could get out of the house. My sister visited often and even got her tonsils removed for us (jk, but she did have step like 17 times in 2 months and each time was sad about the time she missed with the girls) Grandparents would reassure us when they stayed overnight with them that their breathing was normal and never made me feel stupid for asking.

Our neighbors. These are the friends that showed us love in small and big ways. I have to give a shoutout to Heather Lopina, one of my friends and a prior students’ mama. Over the last month or so, she came every Sunday to spend time with the girls while we went to church. What a gift. The friend who said, “these are your kids and you don’t need to worry what people think for another minute”. The friends who texted 30 minutes before they were coming to crash our house arrest party. The friends who used to meet you at the gym on Friday’s and changed that to playdates instead. The mamas who sent their kids to childcare on Wednesday mornings who took time to let me know they weren’t sending their kids if they were sick. Ms. Michelle who told me how much she sanitized her classroom before Wednesday mornings and encouraged me to try bringing the girls. This was the one place we continued to go. The literal neighbors who let us visit at their house many afternoons so we would have a place to go, other than home. The people who said, “y’all are doing the right thing.” The doctors who gave us a much needed plan. The accounts on social media with great ideas for inside activities.  Each of these acts of kindness helped ease the stress of winter.

As I sit on my deck enjoying the beautiful spring weather, I reflect on the winter with a smile. Seriously. God used the time of “house arrest” as a time of growth for me. Go figure 😉 Winter is funny because everything looks so dead on the surface, but it is a time when growth is happening under ground in places we can’t actually see until Spring. That’s what happened to me too, in the dead of winter I was growing in ways that no one could really see.

My season was literally just a season, but I encourage you if you are in a hard season to read this verse and cling to the Truth in it. The same God who created everything- literally everything- wants to know truly how we feel because He cares.  “Cast your anxieties on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 


“Twins are Two-er than anyone”

Soon after Ava and Hayden’s second birthday, I sat down to write a blog to them individually and if you are wondering if you missed that one… the answer is no because it’s sitting in my drafts. It just felt like I couldn’t find the “right words”, whatever that means so I sort of gave up.

It hit me one day that I try really really hard to make sure they feel like individuals, which is wonderful. But do I also celebrate their TWIN-ness? And what does that even mean? God is continually showing me that He gifted Hayden and Ava with this extraordinary connection and ONE-ness.

Let’s rewind… when I was 10 weeks pregnant, we were told we were pregnant with identical twins – which meant that they shared 100% of their DNA. Wrap your brain around that for  a minute. (I did a post on the different types of twins a while back if you’re interested in all of those details) When we went to our specialist appointments, we would see our healthy little girls on the screen – More often than not, Hayden would be dancing around while Ava slept. It was interesting to see this difference on the screen – the first hint that yes, they share all of their DNA but they are still unique. Then they came into the world in the same minute weighing the same amount, showing us just how similar they are. (and oh, they gave away their ability to share well right then and there)

After bringing the girls home, I noticed that they often made noises in their sleep at the same exact time. They would sneeze at the same time, poop at the same time, smile at the same time. As they started teething, a tooth would come through at the same time or a few days apart -EVERY. SINGLE. TOOTH. They met milestones at similar times, such as rolling, crawling, walking, talking.


And yet, Ava always preferred to lay straight back when she slept while Hayden preferred to turn her head to the side and eventually rest on her stomach. Hayden has always slept a little longer than Ava. Ava loves to observe and Hayden jumps right in. Hayden has never liked to be rocked to sleep, while Ava would gladly snuggle up anytime you were willing. Hayden has had a few ear infections, while Ava has only had one. Hayden can put on her own shoes, and Ava has very little desire to try. Hayden likes tomatoes, but not cucumbers and Ava is the opposite. Ava does not like milk, while Hayden loves it. We celebrate these differences while also realizing we can’t deny their God given connection.

They have had a best friend from day one – what a gift that is. When they went into the nursery at church for the first time, they had each other. When they stayed away from mommy and daddy for the first time, they had each other. When they wake up in the morning, they look over and call for each other. If I give them something, they say “sissy want one?” – always thinking of one another. When I can’t understand something they have said, their sister interprets for me. Their connection is worth celebrating.

We read a book that my mom gifted the girls called “Twins Make Two” and recently it has given me opportunities to talk to them about the fact that they are twins.

“Twins as you can plainly see are just as two as two can be.” When we read this line, I will count them and say “my two girls” and they just giggle.

“Sometimes twins wear matching clothes, and then they’re two from nose to toes.” When I became a twin mom, I swore I’d always dress my girls in different outfits, but life proved me wrong again. They like to dress alike sometimes & it is the cutest thing.

“Sometimes they prefer to do different things and that’s fun too, but even so there is no doubt- twins are two inside and out.”  These words ring true every day with our girls.

“Each one has the other there, to play a game, to help, to share” Bingo. Y’all, we have hit the twin sweet spot. Let’s say they are playing a game and I just don’t want to play at the moment, no problem.. they have each other. Recently, they love playing “crying baby” which is a game where they take turns crying and needing a bottle. It gives me some scary flashbacks to newborn twins and I can’t hang around for that one, so thankfully they just do it together. Let’s say they can’t reach something, no problem… they help each other.. Let’s say Ava sneaks a bag of marshmallows and Hayden’s busy playing, no problem… she will bring them to her. 😉

“Twins are Two-er than anyone. Two times the hugs. Two times the fun” Ava and Hayden truly embody the number two, just as the book says. At times, things are twice as hard. (ahem, potty training.. stay tuned for that) But overall, our life is just twice as sweet because we have twins.

I can’t speak for other twin moms, but there are a few things I want my singleton friends to know. For clarification, we refer to people who have one child at a time as “singleton friends”.

  1. We are not offended when you have to ask us, who is who. They are identical and we know that. We would rather you ask than feel uncomfortable trying to guess.
  2. If you want to guess, go for it. The girls find that hilarious and will often try to trick you. Yep, starting early on that one.
  3. Please don’t compare having a child and a dog as basically having twins, we may become a dragon and attack you. BAHAHA. (I speak for Ethan and I on this one)
  4. There is no easy parenting. Twins. 1 kid. 2 kids. 3 kids. 4 kids. Colicky babies. Kids who don’t sleep. Children with special needs. Each has their own unique challenge and unique beauty. I have had hard moments where I thought, “if only…” but now that feels like a slap in the face to the Creator of my children. The design He picked for my family and your family is worth celebrating.


An imperfect mom learning to embrace her messy life 🙂img_0366


Is forgetfulness an excuse?

Hey there! It has been a while since I’ve managed to write due to one thing or another, but today I am hoping to form some cohesive thoughts to share with you- thoughts that have been jumping around in my brain for a little while now.

Recently, I read a post that asked (jokingly) if forgetfulness was an excuse or personality trait? It really made me stop and think. I used to pride myself on remembering things about my family and friends, things that are important to them. (pride being the first issue here) Maybe that’s an upcoming appointment, their birthday, a special occasion, a hardship, etc. However, in January I forgot to text my best friend to wish her one year old a happy birthday and it was the worst feeling and yet, a very humbling moment for me.

We have all heard the jokes about mom brain, which no doubt is a real thing that I did not understand until becoming a mom myself, but here are some real life examples that have all happened just this week.

It looks something like, starting a message to a friend to hear a toddler screaming so you drop your phone and head their way and you guessed it… never sent the text. Or it looks opening a text from a friend only to see your toddler has unrolled two paper towel rolls in the playroom and you HAVE to intervene and you guessed it…responded to the text 3 days later. It looks like starting a blog post (this just happened) and hearing the toddler who is supposed to be sleeping say “mommy, i pooped” and you guessed it… my thoughts are no longer “cohesive”. It looks like filling out the monthly calendar with important dates and four hands appearing with their own marker to “write lines” and you guessed it… the important dates didn’t seem as important as the moment with my girls. It looks like giving medicine 3 times a day to the girls (to keep breathing under control) and you guessed it…forgetting to take my own.

It looks like two little people who need me to remember a lot of things for them, and not having the same space that I used to have. 

With that being said, I’d like to answer the question… “is forgetfulness an excuse?” Yes it still is. Before you leave an angry comment, keep reading.

However, I believe we expect ourselves to remember too much. With the addition of two children who are in a stage where they have high needs, I just do not have the capacity to remember all of the things that I used to remember. Even with phone calendars, social media, setting alarms, and all the other fancy reminders… I still just can’t remember it all. This is where grace comes in for me and some soul searching.

In the moment that I realized I had forgotten to wish my friend’s son a happy first birthday, I felt so much shame. It took her “letting me off the hook” in a sense, for me to shake those feelings of shame. To clear the air, she was not at all bothered by my forgetting to reach out, but I still wanted to ask for her forgiveness and let her know that her son is important to me.

This moment and a few others, led me to a healthy space. A space where I can ask myself questions to really check myself.

  1. Is this something critical for me to remember? If yes, put it in all those fancy reminders and pray that I remember. For example, I have an app that reminds me to give the girls’ their medication each day and Ethan has alarms for the same things – surely with the two of us and our fancy reminders, it will happen. (most days, yes.) If no, then remember if I can and show myself grace if I can’t.
  2. Who is it important that I remember things about? For me that answer is, my intimate family and friends. With social media, I can see a ton of things about a ton of people and think that I should follow up with people who aren’t in my intimate group. Now, I don’t think it’s all bad to follow up with people, regardless of how I would group them in my life, BUT I do think it is a problem if I am forgetting things about my intimate peeps and remembering things about acquaintances.

It’s all about that heart check for me, y’all. I know this hasn’t been a super exciting post, but it has just been on my mind and heart to share. Let’s not use forgetfulness as an excuse when we do forget things that we really do need to remember. Instead, let’s ask for forgiveness from whomever was affected.

Let’s not shame ourselves for forgetting things that we shouldn’t expect ourselves to remember anyways- like an acquaintances favorite color. 😉 God doesn’t ask for us to remember ALL things because that is HIS job. As a dear friend reminded me, forgetfulness is a time for us to remember our humanness and neediness for Jesus. Amen and Amen.

Have a great day, friends!

Two are turning Two

The month of February brings the excitement of our two little girls turning two years old. Lately I would describe myself as “all in my feelings” about it so I have had this strong desire to attempt to share some of what is on my mind. In large part for my future self to read.

This age feels like such a sweet spot. The girls are so expressive – they talk from the moment they wake up until the moment they fall asleep at night. Ava even talks in her sleep some nights! They find joy in all the little things that I barely even noticed before them. They operate with very little fear. They give me hugs and kisses just because. They tantrum when I won’t let them flush the toilet over and over. They run to the door to greet their daddy every afternoon. When they create something, they look so proud and say “look mama”. They want to buckle themselves into their car seats. They sing as loud as they want to without any regard for what others think. One of their favorite things right now is to run around without clothes and say “i naked” and while I’m on that, getting dressed feels like torture to them. They think it’s funny when I say, “let’s tickle your teeth”, to convince them to let me brush their teeth.

When they are happy, they want mama. When they are sad, they want mama. When they get hurt, they want mama. When they are sick, they want mama. When they are hungry, they tell mama. It makes me think of the song, “in my daughters eyes” by Martina McBridge which says…

“In my daughter’s eyes
I am a hero
I am strong and wise
And I know no fear
But the truth is plain to see
She was sent to rescue me
I see who I want to be
In my daughter’s eyes”

Recently when things happen during the day, I think about how I see the situation and then what my two little girls seem to think about the same situation. Here is my effort to put it into words as if I am writing to them.

Where I see time stealing my babies, you see only today – this very moment. (but see below because time really did steal those babies, but in return it has given us two little girls)


When I look at our little house and think, “there’s jut not enough space”, you see a home that is safe and warm and filled with your favorite people.

When I feel frustrated by a sleepless night because we reluctantly pulled you into our bed because you just wouldn’t stop crying, you feel safe nestled on the pillow beside me and daddy.

When I think of all the times my attention has been split between you and your sister and feel so inadequate, you see a mama who loves you and is enough.

In the moments that I feel it isn’t fair that you have never had mommy and daddy to yourself (including the womb), you see the gift of having a best friend who has been with you for every moment of your life. A friend who loves your at your worst and at your best.

hand holding

Where I see an unfinished swing set, you see a chance to help your daddy do something really cool!

Where I feel overwhelmed by helping you through yet another tantrum, you feel just as overwhelmed by the emotions that are just too big for you.

When I feel the redundancy of our days and worry that you might be “bored”, you find comfort in the routine and predictability of each day.

When I go to bed thinking there is no way I can wake up and do this again, you call for me in the quiet of the morning and embrace me with a hug that makes me forget the challenges of the day before.

Where I see a gravel driveway that could really use new rocks, you see your favorite place to march to the song “the ants go marching”.

When I feel guilt over leaving you for a night with grandparents because I “should” do it all, you feel excited over the time you spend with someone else who loves you so big.

When I lay down at night thinking of all the ways I fell short that day, you lay down without a care in the world.

When I see the crazy silverware drawer and fight the urge to straighten it, you feel so proud of the way you “helped” me unload the dishes.

When I see you climbing stairs and see all that could go wrong, you see an adventure waiting for you at the top.



When I look at you, I see beauty in your eyes, the shape of your mouth, the way your hair curls in the back. When you look at yourself, you see the same – not yet swayed by the world’s perception of beauty.

Oh to be two. It is an age of wonder, adventure, and the purist joy. Each day is filled with a new word, a new observation, and new questions. I wish I knew the number of times you smiled in a day, but all I know is each time you do my heart swells a little.

This age is referred to as a time when children learn that they have their own wills – and boy is it true. Each day is a new opportunity for you to see how far you can push, and you should. It’s my job to teach you. Like the times you find the baking drawer and sneak the bag of marshmallows. Or when you snatch a toy right out of your sister’s hand.

This time in parenting is also said to be the “good ole days”, and I believe with every part of me that I’ll yearn for these simple days. Our struggles right now are over how many snacks you can have in a day (or in an hour let’s be honest), whether bedtime is 7 or 730, whether you can run naked in the house or need to get dressed, whether you get to walk in the grocery store or need to be in the cart, and so on.

Not to diminish the challenges of toddlerhood because some days are flat exhausting and raising little people is no joke. Reasoning with toddlers is infuriatingly difficult at times. Deciding whether a blanket or pillow is safe in your crib is enough to make me lay awake at night overwhelmed with thoughts of worse case scenarios. Balancing room sharing with two – two year olds who would rather play together than sleep, is enough to make me crazy. Deciding just how long we can live on one income in order to be with you every day is constantly on my mind.

Yet, these days are some of my absolute favorites of my life so far. Two years of loving two little girls, what a gift it has been.

Hayden. Ava.




Who needs boundaries, anyways?

Who needs boundaries anyways? We all do, my friends. We all do.

Boundaries. When I hear that word, I think about a playground with a fence around it. What purpose does that fence serve? Is it meant to punish the children playing inside? Is it there just to look pretty? Or is it to protect the children on the playground?

I know, I know. That’s a really simple example and has a super obvious answer. The fence is meant to protect the children who are on the playground. It is a clear visible boundary.

In our lives, we have boundaries – even if we don’t name them or aren’t fully aware of them. We have things in place that protect us from things that could hurt us or have hurt us in the past. It has been clear to me in my adult life that boundaries are necessary to protect my mental and emotional health. I want to tell you a little bit about some ways having boundaries has helped me learn to balance my personal and professional life. As to protect all of my relationships with people I know and love, my examples will be vague.

Let’s rewind to 2012. It was my first year of teaching and I had SO much I wanted to accomplish professionally. If you are a teacher, then you will know what kind of behind the scenes things go into your day. What many folks don’t know is that an Exceptional Children’s teacher who is in a self contained setting does not always have a planning period or duty free lunch. This was me. In case you were wondering, I was told in my interview that I wouldn’t have a planning, but I was young and naive and just knew I wanted to change the world one child at a time. Bring on the no planning time! I say all that to say, I was starting my career. In addition, I was newly engaged and planning a wedding. Many days I worked from 6:30 am until 6:00 pm (or later). It did not bother me one bit that year. I loved my job and the wedding got planned (with lots of help) so all was fine in my mind. I had no professional boundaries. 

2013. Newly married and still working in the same school and same classroom. I still loved my job, but Ethan and I had really important conversations about what we wanted our marriage to look like (the parts we could control). He said, “I’m worried that because you love your job so much, you will never be home.” Dang. I can see why this was a concern for him. I had proven the year before that my job was a big priority for me. That school year, I made a cut-off time for myself and I rarely brought work home. I still got to school around 6:45 am, but I left by 4:30 most days. This became a boundary for me in my professional life so that I could have a healthier personal life. I was fearful to put this boundary in place for myself because what if? What if I wasn’t a good enough teacher? What if I didn’t get it all done? What if the parents thought I was a slacker? or my co workers? News flash, I would never get it “all done” no matter how long I stayed. However, I could leave at a decent hour and nourish my new marriage. This specific boundary was made to protect my marriage – notice how it isn’t there to punish anything or anyone.

2014-2015. Let’s just clump these together because my personal and professional life didn’t really change. Same husband 😉 and same job. I continued to have the same boundary, but there was one issue… I didn’t know how to stop communicating with parents after school hours. I had given out my cell phone number because I wanted relationships with my students’ families – in my mind, parents would send me cute pictures of their kids on the weekend or something. If you know me, you know I am relational to the core and in unhealthy times it results in people pleasing behavior. By the way, there were a few families who sent me cute pictures and became more like friends and for that I am grateful. There were others that wanted to talk about their child’s education at 9:00 pm. In football, I think this would be called encroachment. haha! There were several occasions that I was not present at home with my husband or with my family and friends because I was worried about a missed call from a parent or an angry text I had received. Why folks? because once again, I needed a new boundary. 

I also want to say here that every person has a different personality, different triggers, different limitations. It is really important to know what yours are. Maybe you’re reading this and thinking she’s a weirdo – well you’re right, I am – but my boundaries are specific to my personality and my needs. Knowing my personality well and what my emotional needs are help me create healthy boundaries that work for me. Boundaries are going to be different from person to person.

2016. I started this school year with a secret: two babies were growing in my belly. This little secret and the words “high risk pregnancy” and knowing my history with blood pressure encouraged me to set that new boundary that I desperately needed. At the start of the school year, I did not give out my cell phone number. I recommended that school email, school phones, and the agenda be used for communication. This was not because I no longer wanted relationships with my students or their families. Of course I did! However, I knew that I needed to protect my health that year for the sake of my little baby girls. I was still a good teacher; my work was done, my students knew how much I loved them, and I communicated with parents. This new boundary helped me keep my work and home life as separate as they can be for a person like me whose brain truly never shuts off. I felt the healthiest I had been in all of my years as a teacher. 

2017-2018. As you may know, I resigned from teaching. That doesn’t mean that my need for boundaries had gone away. It hadn’t. I was still extremely relational and a huge people pleaser. I still worked – it was just at home with two tiny little bosses. I still had a marriage to protect. I still had relationships with people that I loved. So, boundaries.

For starters, I have to have boundaries with my phone. I am one of those people who feels an obligation to respond immediately to a text or missed call… oh and I love to scroll. This mindless scrolling at night doesn’t fuel my marriage, y’all. At 9:00 pm, my phone goes on the charger in the kitchen for the night. I don’t check my phone after that and I don’t check it during the night. As someone who struggles with insomnia, this has played a critical role in healthy sleep for me.

Saying no. Oh, I love to help. I want to be all things for all people, which sounds so ridiculous since well, ya know, I’M NOT GOD. The moment I start saying yes out of obligation instead of because I really can and really want to… problems arise. Doing this breeds things like resentment, expectations, exhaustion, and anxiety. This is not a healthy place for me. Learning to say no to things that I really cannot do is a healthy boundary for me.

Over the years, I have become more self aware. This really means that I am slowly learning why I do what I do, what makes me tick, what hurts me, and what fuels me. With this knowledge, I am able to set boundaries for myself. The boundaries I set aren’t permanent (as you read above) and are able to change based on situations, my emotional health, and the people in my little family.

Thanks for reading, y’all. I started this post about a month ago, but disruptions kept me from finishing. I’m learning to be okay with that 🙂

When God Speaks Through Grey’s Anatomy

If you clicked on this post after reading the title, it might be because you think I’m crazy and need to know exactly how crazy. You’re not alone. When I told my husband that I wanted to write about this, he laughed and gave me that Ethan look – you may have received this look at some point too. If you haven’t, it is a look that says, “are you serious?”

Over the last year, I jumped on the Grey’s Anatomy train after mourning the end of a different series, Friday Night Lights. I really had no expectation for Grey’s, but wanted something to decompress to at night. Well let’s just say after finishing seasons 1-14 on Netflix, the characters are basically my BFFs.

Stay with me.

There’s a character named April on the show who is a Christian. Throughout the show, she is open about her faith and most of the time she sees the good in situations. Well, then she loses a child soon after birth. She gets a divorce. She’s spiraling in a lot of ways and then she loses several patients in one day – where she just couldn’t see how God was present or fair. Her character soon evolves into a negative, grumbly, cynical character until months later when she has a patient who happens to be a Rabbi and is dying from a rare side effect to medicine.

As I watched this episode, I happened to be in the midst of some personal things. Things that didn’t seem fair. I’ll spare you the details because we all have our things, but the conversation between April and the Rabbi really hit me that night. April is explaining to the Rabbi that she has been a “good Christian” and God hasn’t been fair to her, or rather life hasn’t been fair, but she feels God is to blame. Here are his responses:

“Fair? Was it fair when Isaac went blind and then his child betrayed him? And where was the fairness when Sara had to wait 99 years before she had a child, and God said, “sacrifice him”? And Moses couldn’t even get past the bouncer to the Promised Land.”

“Nobody in the Bible lived a life free of suffering or injustice, or it wouldn’t have been a best seller.”

“Now, if people only believed in God when things were good, I guarantee you, after the Holocaust, not a single Jew would be a believer.” DANG

“Terrible, wonderful, devastating things happen. Who the heck are you to know why? Who are you to know why some people live and some people die?”

“God’s not indifferent to our pain. Listen tikkun olam – means that the world is full of brokenness and it’s our job to put it back together again.”

If you’re still with me, I wonder what you’re thinking. I think God is big enough to handle my emotions- anger, sadness, happiness, etc. Even Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” I think it is absolutely okay for me to have moments where I wonder the same thing. I have had my fair share of those moments – one being a few years ago. I can remember where I was driving, the song on the radio, and the words I yelled at God. I felt like He had forsaken me in a moment of pain. I felt like He wasn’t working in my situation.

Feelings aren’t facts.

I felt like God had forsaken me, but the fact is God has never forsaken me. That day after I yelled at God, I turned the radio to 91.9 and heard a word from God. He spoke directly to my situation through a song.

“I need a Father
Whose love will never fail me
A friend like no other
Whose trusted arms will hold me
I need a Father

I am wounded
But I tuck the pain away
Free me, heal me
I don’t want to be afraid
My heart cries out

Here’s my heart
Be tender, please
Let me know your love for me
Here’s my heart
I’m on my knees
I will trust
‘Cause I believe

You are my Father
Your love will never fail me
A friend like no other
Your trusted arms will hold me
You are my Father”

Again, God has never forsaken me. He has never forsaken you. I have no idea what you’re walking through right now, but I do know that God is right there with you. Pain and suffering are inevitable in this earthly life, but today I am grateful for the ways that God winks at me (or speaks to me) to remind me that He’s got me. He sees me. He is working in my situation. I pray you see God wink at you today.





What does your kid want for Christmas?

Hey guys! Today I want to share my favorite toys (so far) with y’all. We have found it so helpful to be intentional about what toys are available to Ava and Hayden. I can remember last year around Christmas time feeling a little anxious about all of the stuff the girls would receive – and then again a month and a half later on their birthday. (keep in mind in our 1100 square foot house… extra space isn’t a term we use very often) With that being said, we have found some toys that are worth taking up space in our house and some toys that aren’t.

One thing that we have noticed is that battery operated toys are a one hit wonder… the girls love them for a second and then move on to their open ended toys. For that reason, we rarely put battery operated toys on their wish lists. They do come in handy at times, of course but just not as the primary toy option.

Here are my favorites:

Melissa and Doug Ice Cream Scoop

The girls love this one. The parts are magnetic, so the scoops stay on top of the cone as they walk around offering licks to any and all visitors. It’s awesome!

Melissa and Doug Farm Puzzle

The latches are great for fine motor skills and underneath there are different animals. It’s really been fun to watch their vocabulary grow with this one puzzle! It stays out all of the time.

Melissa and Doug Shape Puzzle

I love the big knobs on this puzzle because it’s great for those chubby little hands to grab onto when they’re still learning to control their grasp. The girls loved teething on this one when they were cutting their first set of molars – haha! They aren’t spectacular at getting the pieces to fit in the puzzle yet, but they can match it (the puzzle underneath the piece is exactly the same). They just become more and more independent with toys like this.

Babydoll Stroller

Another favorite. I bought this toy when the girls were a little over a year old and they’ve used it ever since. They push their babies in it, the want daddy to push them in it, and they use it for hauling little items around the house (kitchen food mainly).

Ride on toy

This isn’t the exact one that we have, but you get the idea. It can be ridden on, pushed, and played with. The seat lifts and kiddos can put things inside their little car. Before the girls could walk, we received this toy and we would push them around the house on it. Then they walked behind it and now they ride on it and can push themselves. My personal favorite is when they push each other. This toy was a suggestion from a friend because it seriously works for children in lots of stages.

Melissa and Doug slicing food activity

The girls don’t have this exactly because we have been gifted food from a friend and it works for us, but if not this is something I’d like for them to have. The food velcros together and littles one practice slicing it. I love the tray that this comes in because it gives this activity a place. Great fine motor task and overall just a fun way to see your babe interact with pretend food.

Melissa & Doug Shape Sorting Cube - Classic Wooden Toy With 12 Shapes
Melissa and Doug Shape Sorting
Shape sorting is still above their pay grade, but they have played with a shape sorter toy for a while now. They can remove the lid and put everything inside and they sure love to dump everything out. When I sit down 1:1 with them, it’s a good activity for us to work on the shape language and the fine motor.

Any Kitchen
I’m not married to a specific kitchen, but we love love love having one for the girls. A friend recently gave us theirs and it’s been a really fun toy for this age. The girls use their kitchen multiple times a day and now we have moved it into our kitchen, so they can be “cooking” when we do. I have nothing but good things to say about having a pretend kitchen. The link and picture are just “amazon’s choice”, but seriously just pick one that works for you – maybe it’s a hammy down (yay), consignment find, or brand new…

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella Sleepy Time Scents 12
Stella Doll

I have to say that we love the stella baby doll. I put it on here because it’s a great first doll with the soft material. The paci and other accessories are magnetic, so really easy for little ones to play with independently. With that being said, when the girls first starting getting baby dolls (at 10 months old- last Christmas) I wondered how long it would be before they got into them. For them, it was around their first birthday. They LOVE baby dolls and playing pretend with them. It’s truly amazing to watch… my husband says it’s their only shot at a baby sibling – aka – no real ones coming from us.

Orange Wagon

This wagon is just the best little toy. It can be used in so many different ways. When the girls were really little, we would pull them around in it. Now, they pull their baby dolls around. They collect things in it and drag them around the house. It’s just a versatile toy.

Little People Doll House

This little doll house is the perfect size for this age. They received this on their first birthday and have played with it more and more as they’ve gotten older. When they need some time away from us or each other, they’ll sneak away to their doll house and play. It’s really cute to watch!

Little People Barn

My mom has this toy at her house and it’s the first thing the girls want to do when they go over there. They LOVE animals, so getting to engage with animal figurines in a cool barn is right up their alley. Just like the doll house, this opens up for play and folds up nicely for storage.

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone - Award Winning Durable Wooden Musical Pounding Toy for Toddlers, Multifunctional and Bright Colours
Wooden Toy with Mallet

I have no idea what this is called, but it was a consignment sale find for us and the girls have enjoyed it off and on. It is 2 toys in 1… the mallet is used for hammering the balls through the holes and for playing music on the xylophone. It’s a cute open ended toy.

Melissa and Doug Pull Back Cars

The girls have always loved these vehicles – they received them for their first birthday and at the time they needed help pulling them back and getting them to go, but now they are able to do so on their own. They are a soft material, so a really good first toy.

Tool Bench

This is a toy similar to the kitchen for our girls. It is outside, so when Ethan is working they can be working too. They play with it each day that we are able to go outside and I imagine this will be a toy that just grows with them as they are more able to use the tools.

This year’s Christmas wish list has more toys that are similar to these. I LOVE Melissa and Doug so when in doubt, I get on amazon and just search through all of their toys and day dream about owning all of them – hahahaha!

I hope this helps! For me, the key is open ended toys. Toys that are going to be used for more than just one stage or one day. Toys that will allow the girls to use their imagination and give them freedom and versatility in their play. I’d love to hear about your favorite toddler toys 🙂

All images sourced from

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