Parenting-thing

The Battle Belongs (Part 3)

Two and a half weeks has passed since Tatum was discharged from Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland, and so far her eye has continued to heal and look better and better!

If you missed part 2 you can read that here

Looking back I can see the repeated hand of Yahweh in our midst. The draining of the abscess spontaneously prevented her from needing surgery. After we recovered from a sleep shortage she felt pretty much back to normal–just stuck in a hospital room with the full attention of both of her parents. She was sort of in heaven, lol! She never experienced any pain despite what had to be a lot of pressure in her sinuses!

You can see on the right how the pus built up in the sinus cavity and into the orbital cavity, displacing her eyeball

To answer some questions I’ve received a lot:

The team of doctors *think* it started as a virus “with no symptoms” that made the cilia in her sinuses “tired” so they didn’t move out mucus–just on one side. At that point it became sinusitis, and the pus built up until it made it’s way into her orbital cavity and formed an abscess. Thankfully the abscess formed a head on the skin between her nose and eye and began to drain spontaneously, and continued to drain well with warm compresses.

She never felt any pressure or pain at all! She felt “sick” and had a fever on Christmas and the few days afterwards. On the 26th she woke up with her eye swollen shut.

There was nothing I could really have done to prevent it–how do you prevent something you don’t know is happening?! Yes, I asked multiple doctors.

There was nothing more I could have done than what we did (again, I asked because I don’t want to repeat this!). She was on antibiotics on the first day her eye swelled up. I even scheduled a repeat doctor visit because I was concerned the antibiotics she was on weren’t strong enough if it was periorbital cellulitis (which it was), so we switched and it seemed to improve. As someone who’s been able to handle almost every ailment at home with three kids (and a dog) for the past 8 years, I’ve made it my mission and my business to educate myself, and had three different doctors ask what my medical background was, lol. However, I think God was teaching me how little control I *actually* have.

And you know what–even if she HAD to have surgery, even if we had a much longer hospital stay, even if the really scary things that are associated with periorbital cellulitis had happened–he is STILL a good God. This world is broken–we broke it. He’s going to fix it all, eventually.

As a mama, reflecting on my time in the hospital I thought about how our Abba, our heavenly Daddy, does so much for us. I was *always* with her, an arm’s length away and ready to do whatever needed to be done. But I’m human. I got tired. I had my moment of tears when I learned they weren’t going to do surgery and I could release some emotion. I need my alone time. I get touched-out (like snuggling with her in her bed and she unknowingly elbowed me repeatedly in her sleep).

God doesn’t need “me” time. He doesn’t need a break from us. He doesn’t need a nap, need a break, need a cup of coffee. He’s always there, by our side, willing to do what He knows we need and be Who we need Him to be.

The girls and I have been listening to Everybody, Always (for kids) by Bob Goff on audio (read by him, which makes it even better). There’s a chapter where he talks about one of his kids who likes to skydive, and so he secretly took lessons to learn and told his son the next time he went skydiving to invite him to watch. Instead of just observing, he strapped on a parachute…much to the shock of his son…and assured him he’d be fine–how hard could it be? When it came time to jump, Bob talks about seeing his son leap out of an airplane and he had an overwhelming urge to be with him. He jumped so hard he literally jumped out of his sneakers. That kind of love–jumping out of your sneakers to be with someone–is one I know a lot of you have experienced, and I love knowing that amount of love is just a drop in the bucket compared to the love He feels for you.

So as I write this tonight, in an actual comfortable chair instead of the hard plastic one in the hospital, I’m so very thankful to rest in the knowledge of His love. To have experienced His indescribable peace. I have friends right now who are dealing with illness, looking at upcoming surgeries for themselves or their kids, or are sitting in a hospital room. My prayer is that you would feel him wrap His arms around you in His overwhelming love. If there’s a way I can pray for you, please feel free to drop me a line through this site or email me at kait@cultivatingabundantlife.com

And know that like in 2 Chronicles 20, the battle belongs to Yahweh. We pray, get prepared, and worship, and He takes care of the battle.

Tatum this past week earning her Bat badge in our homeschool group
Adventures, Parenting-thing

The Battle Belongs (Part 2)

If you missed Part 1, you can read that here

**On December 26 Tatum woke up with a very swollen eye. We talked with a Doctor and had her on antibiotics just hours later. I was concerned it was more serious so on Tuesday we saw another Doctor, and got on a different antibiotic. It was improving—swelling down, fever gone, etc. when New Year’s Day she woke up with much more swelling, and I could see an abscess. We went to urgent care, who directed us to the ER, who called in an ophthalmologist, who said we needed to transfer to Portland.**

The first battle was emotions. Just telling Tatum we were going to Urgent Care sent her sobbing uncontrollably. We got through that with prayer, a lavender Aroma Ring under the mask, reassurances, and a kind doctor who took one look at her eye and sent us to the Emergency room. We picked up my mom on the way, and with each new thing at the ER–repeating the story of the past week, doctors asking the same questions, doing the same exams–she grew braver and more confident. 

Then a certain ophthalmologist who could use some compassion training showed up and said bluntly we needed to go to Portland, probably by helicopter, and when Tatum asked if I was going with her he said, “maybe.” Uhhhhhh…Mama is going, no question about that, but it sent Tatum into a panic. Thanks, dude. He just gave a thumbs up and said, “Cool, a heli ride!” 

I thought my mom was going to murder him right there.

After hours of waiting to figure out transportation up there, we learned we were flying up there in a small plane. I made a frenzied trip back to the house (trying to follow my mom’s directions of where she parked the car and hopping a fence to get there faster), where I threw stuff in bags, not knowing if we were going through airport security or if I needed to follow the 3 ounce rule so leaving most liquids (like toothpaste) behind, and trying to grab as many comforting things for Tatum as possible but forgetting things like underwear for myself…priorities, right? I hugged my littles hard and kissed my old dog as I flew out the door. Driving back I listened to the song “Waymaker,” and felt that inexplicable peace wash over me. After parking I still decided throwing the bags over and hopping the fence shaved off a few minutes since we thought the plane was leaving very shortly. I pulled my quad as a thanks for that decision, LOL!

After wearing the mask in the ER I was starting to get a migraine, and often if it develops it can last 4-7 days. I did NOT have time for that. I literally dumped Cool Azul oil blend on my neck and shoulders and took a mystery OTC pain med from my mom’s mixed bottle of things, and then God fought the next battle for me. The transport team was totally great with Tatum and I not wearing masks in the ambulance or the flight, especially after they commented on the good smelling oils and I told them why I had used it. 

Then Doug, one of the EMTs, asked if we had any congestion or physical problems flying. I haven’t flown in 3 years because the last two times I’ve flown I’ve had intense sinus pain. Living in Oklahoma my allergies got worse and worse, and on a flight home the pain hit me like nothing I’ve ever experienced. I thought I was having an aneurism or something because the pain was worse than pushing out a 10 ½ lb baby naturally! So when I did mention that, Doug looked a little dubious and said I might experience some pain. I told him you could chop my arm off but I was going and he nodded his approval. 

At this point, Tatum was almost chipper. She’s so polite and friendly, she won over the team right away. Even getting loaded up in the gurney, hooked up to vitals, strapped down for the journey, making sure her stuffed dog was there, she had a great attitude and the fear and panic of before was nowhere to be seen. Thanks God–You handled that battle.

The friendliness and calm of the transport team helped Tatum have fun in the ambulance ride to the airport, and I snapped a few pics of her smiling as she was being loaded onto this tiny 5 seater plane. By that point my migraine had dissipated as well–chalk another one up to God for winning that battle. 

We loaded up on the aircraft and Doug asked her if she’d been on a small airplane before. She said, “No, but my mom has when she went to Africa.” 

“You were in Africa?” he asked and I told him I’d been to Uganda and we flew to northern Uganda in small planes. I got to share a bit about what Far Reaching Ministries got to do in Gulu, Kitgum, and Mucwini as we taxied around, and then we took off. As we climbed, Tatum had fun watching the lights and trying to guess the layout of the valley floor in the dark.

I thought I would be on edge, waiting for that stab of pain in my sinuses, nervous about such a tiny plane, worried Tatum would be scared…but none of that existed. You’d have thought we were off on the grandest adventure and we were both relaxed and content. Peace that passes understanding–just like He promises. It was loud on the plane, so I pulled out my kindle and read another chapter of Love Does by Bob Goff. And wouldn’t you know it? He goes to Gulu in that chapter…I love God winks. After we landed, I also realized I had experienced zero sinus issues…thanks again, God!

Loaded up in the ambulance where it was quieter, Doug asked more about the mission trip. Tatum piped up, “Was that the time the guy tried to drive you and another lady off in the night?” To which I chuckled, “Nope, that was a different trip.” Haha, there were some big eyes on that. 

Doug asked if I was afraid when I told him about Joseph Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) being active in the area when we went. I replied we’re safest where God wants us (and still very much believe that), the ministry was monitoring the activity, we traveled in armored vehicles, and had been briefed on what to do if there was an attack. 

One night while there, however, my roommate had a cold and had taken Nyquil and passed out. The generators went off at 10, and I was sitting in the dark on my laptop writing out my thoughts for the day when the screaming started. Over and over, blood curdling screams from just over the compound wall outside our window. My heart was pounding, my palms were sweaty. “Don’t open the door, stay inside,” is what we had been told. I tried to wake my roommate with no luck. I made sure I was right with Jesus and prayed.

I looked up from telling the story and noticed Cindy who was doing all the paperwork had stopped and was listening, and the EMT to my left was not working on his tablet anymore. I glanced at Tatum who was sitting there with a smile, knowing the tale. 

Eventually, the screaming stopped and somehow I was able to fall asleep. The next morning everyone looked a little tired but no one said anything about it…so I wondered, was it a dream?

We loaded up into the armored truck and as we pulled away from the compound someone asked, “Sooooo….did anyone hear screaming last night?” The truck erupted with everyone talking at once–What was that? I thought we were being attacked! I was so scared!

Then we hear laughter and look over to see Francis–a Ugandan–cracking up. Through his laughter he said, “The GOATS–they scream when they are stressed!” 

I love the relief laughter that story gets 😉

Doug asked if I was of any particular denomination, and I replied, “I love Jesus, I don’t think he was particularly concerned with denominations and divisions. Just love God, love people.” The EMT to my left nodded and said, “Right on,” and told me his wife had done missions in South Africa. 

We arrived at the hospital and Tatum and Doug fist bumped that she was one minute off her guess of arrival time. Once we were in our room we were greeted by a flurry of doctors and nurses. More relaying the story, more exams, and the kindest nurse ever flying around trying to get us situated and apologizing for all the commotion and working her darndest to get us feeling settled.

I was ready to battle for our medical choices, but we were completely respected and it was not an issue in the slightest –God handled that battle. 

We hadn’t been told if there was a limitation to visitors with Tatum but when Matt arrived it was not a problem at all. Another army down.

Tatum was still in unbelievably good spirits, and our nurse said she had her choice of who to work with that night and had hit the jackpot with our kiddo. Seriously–through the night Allie made our transition and all the craziness great and I so enjoyed talking with her.

They wanted Tatum to do a COVID test, and I decided that for that night and the urgency we needed to get things going that this was not going to be my hill to die on and not push back on that. She was nervous, so I offered to go first. Turns out I didn’t need one, but I still offered so Tatum could watch it being done. Not pleasant, and my test swab went straight in the trash, but it helped put her mind at ease and get through it. 

A few hours later she and I went to get the CT scan. When the technician asked me to step out of the room Tatum had a moment of panic, so I asked if I could suit up and stay. I got to wear the super cool lead clothes to stay close. 

Earlier in the day at the ER, the abscess had spontaneously started to drain and did so for two hours before drying up on the flight. Around 4 in the morning I suggested a warm compress to help clear the crusties, and when she pulled it away that abscess was draining a ton! I don’t want to get graphic if you’re not into medical stuff, but Allie and I sat on her bed with her tag teaming wiping all the pus draining. A bit later we had the results from the CT scan, and confirmation there was an abscess along the eye and that it went pretty deep. Initially they were talking about draining it in the emergency room, but after learning how much it had drained decided to take a “let’s wait and observe” approach. As of writing on Monday night it’s definitely looking like we’re getting out of here without surgery–another battlefield God decimated for us!

She and I fell asleep around 6 in the morning, and thankfully the nurses let us sleep until about 10:30 when Tatum woke up. The day passed with lots of check ins and more draining the abscess, Matt bringing tacos and Thai food and doodling markers and a stuffed animal for Tatum. We listened to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, she played chess and tetris games on the kindle, and Marco Polo-ed Matt’s parents to chat with the girls. We actually were able to get a really sound night of sleep…do they test the nurses here on how quiet they can be because I’m a light sleeper and hardly noticed them!

Being a super light sleeper, I sleep with earplugs and usually an arm over my ear. I could still hear each time the door handle open or someone was walking around in the room. In the early hours I woke up to hearing multiple sets of feet walking around much louder than the nurses and turned my head expecting to see a few doctors.

No one was in the room that I could see, and as I looked around I heard in my heart–Just us.

Just us angels here making sure you’re ok. I said out loud, “Cool guys–thanks!” and went back to sleep. Like I talk to angels all the time, you know. Me and Mary and Zechariah and Joseph.

When I woke up again I was thinking about the biblical portrayal of angels. Not Precious Moments looking ones, but warriors. The Hebrew word is messengers, and I got the message. Just us–nothing else to worry about.

As I write this it’s Monday evening, we’re still on track for no surgery, and switching to oral antibiotics tomorrow to transition to getting us home. We get to be with our favorite nurse again tonight, Tatum is not going to know what to do transitioning to limited Kindle time after this, and I’m going to hop in the shower before settling for the evening.

Thank you for all the prayers–we have felt them all and seen God’s hand in this during every step. He has granted deep peace, joy, and laughter during this very unexpected New Year’s week. I’m sure there’s more miracles and victorious battles to come, so stay tuned.

Parenting-thing

Rule #1

When you go on regular walks or hikes and have three kids but only two hands, you have to lay down some ground rules.

Ask my kids what’s Rule #1 of hiking and they will all chime together, “LISTEN TO YOUR MAMA!”

Ask what Rule #2 is and they’ll all say, “Always stay on the trail!”

Rules 3-8ish get a little jumbled after that…don’t yank up plants or throw rocks at your sisters or lick mushrooms and that sort of thing…

She was crying half a second before this pic 😂

I find the longer I’m a mama the more I realize just how rotten kids are…and how rotten I probably was as well. (**who me? Never!**) Bennett, our 3 year old, just LIVES to aggravate her sisters (and often her parents). Nothing, and I mean not ice cream or slides or her crocodiles, brings her more joy than seeing her sisters get upset. We’re hoping it passes, but it’s just a gas to deal with until then!

So tonight while trying to get them ready for bed, after about the 9th time I’ve asked Bennett to put on the pajama shirt she’s been slinging around her head like a cowboy throwing a lasso, she delightfully looked at me and shouted, “RULE NUMBER ONE! DON’T AGGRAVATE YOUR MAMA!”

Oh man. That’s how the baby gets you–humor. “Don’t smile DO NOT SMILE” I think.

“RULE NUMBER TWO!” She continued in a drill sergeant voice…still circling the pajama around her head, “DON’T PLAY WITH THE TOYS THAN ARE NOT YOURS!”

Well, even if she’s not practicing the rules at least she knows them!

**We did finally get her to bed after warnings followed by consequences that were completely shocking (despite the warnings). The tears melted away during a hug and she sighed happily, content with my rising blood pressure, turned over, and went to sleep.**

Adventures, Family culture, Parenting-thing

The Springs to Granby

Originally I had wanted to blog along the way during our trips. I mean, with an app and your smartphone you can do it anywhere, right? Theoretically, yes. With three small demanding kids, no.

Let me put it to you this way–in 12 hours of travel and a book I was so excited to read, I got to read…three pages.

So here’s the recap. The girls are pretty awesome at traveling. If we have a good sense of humor. Bennett is the queen of “want it–don’t want it.” Asking for things, tossing them away, then crying for them again. Tatum is all about listening to the Kirsten American Girl books. Kenna is happy if she has her Tinkerbell dolls or can color. We actually made it a couple days of traveling before we ever turned on a movie for them–so we consider that a win!

Friday, June 8th we got a late start leaving Edmond to Colorado Springs…and by late I mean we didn’t pull into our hotel until about 5 am. Tired, much???

The next day we got to explore Colorado Springs, get an oil change (hmmm…the shop that checked our car before our trip missed that), and then

headed up to the Garden of the Gods. It was hot, but a dry heat so it wasn’t bad at all–and the girls loved having their own cameras (old digital ones we don’t use anymore) to take their own pics.

Up through Woodland Park and Divide, we headed towards our next destination–Granby. We took the scenic route that was maybe 30 minutes longer (probably not when you consider Denver traffic), and it was one of the best decisions EVER. The sunset over the valleys and mountains was breathtaking! So beautiful we pulled over just to take some pics and enjoy it!!!

We stopped in Breckenridge for ice cream and changing into jammies before heading on.

We had a bit of a surprise when we got to Granby at 11:30–all of the lock boxes had been removed! After calling over a dozen hotels we were finally able to find one that gave us a great deal, and the girls got to spend another night in a hotel (which was so fun for them).

Even on the road we drink our Ningxia Red!

The next morning we walked around Winter Park, the girls were blown away by the mountains and the soft grass and just EVERYTHING. After climbing some stairs to an outdoor amphitheater, Kenna looked around, sighed loudly, and said, “I just LOVE it here!”

We were able to get into the condo, unpack, and the girls thought that bunk beds, a balcony, a giant bean bag, and a dog crate were just the best things to play with EVER. Who needs toys?!

The next day was Monday and Matt had to work, so after a leisurely morning I loaded up the girls and we went for a short hike along the Fraser River Trail.

I’m learning with most kid hikes, the first 10-30 minutes consist of complaining, and then if I get them distracted with something they’re all in. After we started trying to identify wildflowers they loved it. We took pics, used our book, ate snacks, and ended up having a good time.

I’ll post more updates later, but that gets us to the beautiful mountains of Colorado–which sort of feel like home. We’re not sure where we’re going in the next 6 months or even a year, but I’m so grateful for tidbits like this.

 

Adventures, Family culture, Parenting-thing

5 Lessons From Hiking With Kids

Looking ahead to summer there are a lot of trails I would like to see, especially during our two weeks in Colorado and Utah coming up in June.

Last week I nabbed a pair of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking shoes from REI (thank you dividend!) and when they got here today we all were so excited we decided to go try them out right away. I figured it would be good to get them all outside and on a “hike,” because while they’ll play for hours on a playground getting from Point A to Point B is a whole different thing.

The big girls pulled on their hiking boots as I put on mine, and we headed to Mitch Park with a backpack, 3 water bottles, and two types of snacks for a bit of an experiment.

All went fine at first. The girls scampered, giggled, climbed rocks, pointed out flowers blooming in the grass…

You only wished you were as cool as them. I can almost hear some theme music…

That was the first 5 minutes.

It was almost 90° outside, and despite the high winds their cheeks were getting flushed and they started begging for water like they were lost in the Sahara.

We stopped in the shade and everyone chugged from the big water bottle…impatiently waiting their turn.

When Tatum was done she squatted down so I took the opportunity to point out she was in a lightning position…

 

So we all crouched in the lightning position. Yay us. And the 834 lightning-related questions that followed from my curious 6-year-old.

We chose our next route and Kenna was fascinated with the sign…and chose to show it off in style. This kid has more ‘tude and style than she knows what to do with!

A few minutes later I got my first “Up?” from Bennett and I checked my phone to see our distance… .35 of a mile 🤦🏼‍♀️We made it another third of a mile and one more water bottle down before I gave in and got her up and into the back of my backpack (finally putting those WAFA skills to use!) and we kept on cruisin’.

We spotted birds, drank more water, ate a snack, drank more water.

Lesson #1   Assume my children are part dromedary and carry three times the amount of water I think we need. Let’s just say we’re going nowhere in the mountains without a LifeStraw.

I noticed a gully with a clear cut trail across that cut out a significant part of our path. Since Tatum was exclaiming she needed to go to the bathroom, a shortcut looked like a good idea.

We started downhill when Kenna–my often too-fearless kid decided to become terrified of going down a little trail. And of bugs…all of the sudden. Kenna, who often will pick up bugs to inspect them, squeal with delight over the cuteness, and I have to warn not to touch the quarter inch stinger on the cicada killer. But there she was, having a mini meltdown in a gully about all the bugs…that I couldn’t see.

Lesson #2 Assume your kids will do a 180° on their preferences and personalities at any time.

Once we reached the bottom of the gully it actually turned out to be one of the most interesting features I’ve seen in Mitch Park–ever! And we’ve been walking there for six years!

Once at the bottom it wasn’t quite so windy, and there were trees and bushes so I gave Tatum permission to relieve herself “like a hiker.” You’d have thought she hit the jackpot–ever since she first peed next to a tree while hiking in Colorado it’s the height of outdoorsy excitement for her.

Lesson #3 Always carry toilet paper/tissues/baby wipes and plastic bags with you. Thankfully I was prepared.

With 90% of our water gone we ate a few more snacks, Kenna calmed down about the bugs, Bennett was down from the backpack and exploring, and things were looking up. I even managed to find a rock to do a group photo…this was the only place where the wind wouldn’t knock the phone over and I could prop it up.

Lesson #4 Always carry one of those mini tripods for your phone. Memories are the big things and the everyday moments.

 

We hiked up the hill–Bennett insisting on doing it herself a lot and sometimes fully face-planting in the red Oklahoma dirt but keeping on. The girls spotted some trash we gathered and threw away (made my Leave No Trace heart so proud), and by the time we were just maybe one fifth of a mile away from the car they decided they were having way too much fun to go home.

Bennett became quite desperate to show me every flower in the grass. Kenna’s eyes became quite adept at finding all the bird houses and bird feeders in the area. Tatum spun in circles. When I realized it was almost 6:00 and we needed to get home to make dinner, Bennett became the noodle child, Kenna wanted to stop and admire everything, and Tatum became the task master trying to help me drive them forward. Which leads me to my last lesson.

Lesson #5 Give yourself three times the normal amount of time to do any hike. 

Yeah, that has to be the slowest seven-tenths of a mile EVER.

BUT, it’s a starting point.

Everyone ate a BIG dinner (which isn’t always the norm).

Bennett crashed as soon as we put her in her crib.

I hardly had a moment to realize my new hiking shoes were amazingly comfortable…even carrying a 10 pound backpack and a 30 pound kid.

And the girls want to “hike” again. Tomorrow.

I’d call that a success…but glad of my lessons learned!

Family culture, Parenting-thing, Uncategorized

Mamahood is…

Mamahood is knowing exactly how to hand your four-year-old a banana so she doesn’t see the tiny blemish.

Mamahood is not leaving your house all day except to check the mail but by the end of the day your feet hurt.

Mamahood is using your toddler’s bottle of milk from the fridge for cream in your coffee.


Mamahood is not being able to stop your toddler from going fishing in the dog bowl with her bath toys because you’re pumping and don’t want milk to get everywhere.

Mamahood is weighing 13 different contributing factors when your kid asks if they can play with play-doh. Factors include the distance between meals, their level of energy, their level of rascaliness (I’m sure that’s a word), how clean the house is, and whether or not you were planning on vacuuming the second time that day.

Mamahood is bouncing your baby until your biceps are sore praying they’ll nod off, and then missing their snuggles when they’re asleep. 


Mamahood is deciding what’s for dinner based on how much energy you have for cleanup.

Mamahood is throwing impromptu dance parties just because it’s Wednesday. 

Mamahood is perfecting your band-aid rule book. 

Mamahood is letting them play in the backyard paddling pool and deciding they are clean enough for bed.


Mamahood is wearing nine different shirts in a day when your baby is on a spit up spree.

Mamahood is having your eyes water every time your baby laughs because it’s so beautiful you can’t take it. 

Mamahood is eyeballing the bench at the gym trying to decide if it is wide enough to nap on. 

Mamahood is working so so hard to ensure enough boredom for them to be creative.

Mamahood is magic kisses and hugs that heal the hurt. 

Family culture, Parenting-thing

Shaping Our Family Culture 

Lately I’ve been listening to the audio book Desperate by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae. In it, they talk about sitting down with your spouse and deciding what kind of family culture you want to have. Just like any goals in life, they advocate if you don’t set the goals for what you want your family to look like, ten years from now you may find yourself just trudging through and find you never did any of those things with your family you wanted to do.

So when Matt and I went on our date night a few weeks ago, we talked about it.

Clarkson and Mae write, “Plan what kind of family you want to be. Determine for yourself what you hope to be the outcome for your family. What legacies do you want to leave for your children?”

We talked about teaching our girls to love Jesus and be loving to everyone they meet, and have servant’s hearts. To show hospitality, and be dependable.

Adventure, and being outside are important to us. We want them to experience different places and ways people live and gorgeous scenery.

We want them to be immersed in culture–we want them to be well read, able to carry on intelligent conversation, love music, and value a wide range of art and aesthetics. We enjoy cooking and good food, and want them to appreciate a perfectly cooked steak well as a pbj.

We want to teach them to be comfortable and themselves in any situation–whether camping in the backwoods or hanging out with friends or dining at a restaurant with 3 Michelin stars or attending a Presidential inauguration.

We want our home and our family to be FUN, that our girls feel like home is the best place in the world.

We want them to value experience over possessions. To be lifelong learners. To be kind and generous.

These are a few of the things we talked about. Yes, you might be thinking well DUH, doesn’t everyone want that for their kids? and yes, maybe there are a lot of overlapping themes. But the point is we sat down, talked about it, wrote it down, and started to come up with action plans on how to incorporate each of these things into our family culture.

We’ve made it a point to try to sit down to dinner together–which is a lot easier now that Matt is done with his MBA! We try…but it isn’t always successful…

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This is Kenna giving me her rice noodles. And dropping them on the floor.

And this is Tatum making letters and shapes out of the noodles. I guess I should be happy she’s learning?

The girls started off sitting together on the bench. Then they fought over raisins and when Tatum tried to get off the bench she somehow fell over and all I saw were two feet flying in the air. Matt and I hadn’t even sat down yet when she was asking to be excused. Neither girl ate much, the baby was fussy, and Tatum was grumpy but we slogged through.

Last weekend we bought dollar water guns and a kiddie pool and had a water fight in the front yard, then washed the car while the baby slept. Fun definitely got checked that day!

On Saturday it was Oklahoma Free Fishing day where you didn’t need a fishing license, so Matt took Tatum to Lake Arcadia and they had a daddy daughter date learning to cast and reel. They spotted a beach that looked fun, so yesterday (Sunday) we loaded everyone up after nap, grabbed dinner and went to the lake. Kenna had quite the ensemble…

Matt was a very happy daddy…

This picture is a bit deceiving as when I went to nurse Bennett she had a complete meltdown for about 10 minutes…until I put her in the sling and she passed out! She spent most of her time in there with me while Matt wrangled the big girls.

We’ve been making a concentrated effort to develop our family culture. There’s been tears and bad attitudes and things that didn’t seem but be a success, but we’re committed to doing them.

So I thought I’d share our efforts to develop what “The Palmers” look like. This month, before it gets too hot, I’ve been pushing for an overnight camping trip. With three kids 4 and under? Crazy? Maybe. But Tatum did inform me yesterday, “I am an expert at peeing behind trees” so at least we have that going for us!

If you’re a mama, I highly recommend the book Desperate. I’ve been taking my time going through it…usually while grocery shopping at night after the girls are in bed or while walking around the track at the Y. If you’ve never tried Audible, your first book is free and if you give me your email I’m happy to send this one to you!

So I’m curious–what do you want your family to look like ten years from now?

Parenting-thing

Never Trust A Parenting Book

Never trust a parenting book…if the author has no kids. Or even just one kid.

With one kid you can figure them out for the most part. Correct the child and they usually obey. If they don’t, a well-placed I’m-your-mother-obey-me-now look will do the trick. They don’t stick their fingers in the light sockets after you’ve disciplined them once. Or five times. Or ten times. They eventually listen…and stop trying to eletrocute themselves.

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Only children have no one to have screaming matches with…for fun or in fury. No one is touching their stuff. They can play with their toys that have tiny pieces wherever and whenever they want…not just in a loft bed during quiet time so the younger can’t try to aspirate a Shopkins yogurt cup. They may not have the insatiable desire to put everything in their mouth.

You might be rolling along with your single child, thinking smugly you’ve got a handle on this parenting thing. Sure, it might be more work with more kids, but the discipline thing you’ve got down. Lots of love, right?

Then comes #2. And even though you have tried so many different methods of correction–from sternness to clapping to smacking a chubby hand to yelling in an attempt to scare them into obedience–they STILL pop those socket covers out and try to shove their two-year-old fingers into it. EVERYTHING goes in the mouth. Shoes, the cat’s tail, dirt (so much dirt), EVERYONE’S toothbrushes, those socket cover safety-thingies, poop-covered fingers. Oh, and that was just today.

Yep, if you’re going to read a parenting book make sure it’s at least written by someone with multiple children. And at least one who is “the wild child.” The one who has no fear. Who you honestly wonder if they have a hearing problem because they are so good at ignoring you calling them…and then they come running when they hear the whispered word “cookie.” The one who takes off running in a parking lot if they are not physically tethered to you. The one who thinks it great fun to reach in the back of the diaper and pull out handfuls of poop…you know why? Because they know it might lead to a bath.

If you only have one kid right now, I’m sorry. You might get two doe-eyed angels who respond to discipline just as you wish. But if you get a kid like my crazy Kenna, hang on. You’ll need every book, Focus on the Family broadcast and ounce of grace you can get your hands on.

The good news is that cuteness seems to be in proportion to how much grace a child needs. Kenna is irrevocably loving. Beyond adorable with her blonde curls and large blue eyes and her own toddler language and voice inflections. Devoted to her big sister and copying her every move…even moving her sit and spin so close to Tatum’s that they can’t even spin around properly. She is an expert snuggler–when she wants to be–and is the best and easiest sleeper you could ask for.

So before you load up on the next thing in parenting philosophy, make sure it’s written  by someone who spends 12+ hours a day on average with multiple children. Someone who knows that one discipline style–which made your firstborn straighten up–will make your second look at you with a twinkle in their eye like, “you’re so cute for trying to stop me” and test (and blow up) every limit of your patience.

You don’t quite realize how easy parenting one kid is…until you have two. But as wild and crazy and uncontrollable as #2 may be, you can’t imagine life without the crazy sauce.

Now someone tell me what #3 is like…

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