Thursday, September 26, 2013

failing as a mother

"i feel like i have failed as a mother." these were the words i cried to my husband one night this week. after the battle was over. after the kids were asleep. after all the hurtful words. after the dust had settled. "i must have done something wrong. it's not supposed to be this way." i was grasping for something, anything to help me understand why parenting is sometimes so, so very hard.

earlier that night, my ten year old had run away from home for the first time. there had been a battle over everything that afternoon...homework, chores, being kind to his siblings. everything was work. i would love to say that i had the time or the patience to pause and get to the core reasons for his behavior but with five kids needing attention at once, the best i could do was to remind him to "think before you speak" and "examine your response." as i was preparing dinner, i asked him to help his younger brother empty the dishwasher while i cooked the meal. he looked at me and his hands formed into fists and said the devastating words, "i hate my life! why do you always do this to me?"

as i was stirring the pot of what would eventually be our dinner, i reminded myself to keep breathing. i picked my heart up off the floor and turned to stare at this stranger otherwise known as my ten year old. my other children were staring at the train wreck that was our dysfunctional kitchen interaction. somehow, by the grace of God, i held myself together and offered my son an out. "you are welcome to go look for another family that you think would treat you better but if you are a part of this family, you will do your chores." 

he slammed his fist into his sides and with an angry turn and a "fine, i will," he was out the front door. he was gone for two hours...and i died a little bit with each minute he was gone.

what in the world had happened? this is my first born son. 
born while we were living in South America, he and i were an isolated duo. 
there were no grandparents nearby. there was no vonage or skype. there were no friends with other children his age. it was him and me. we danced the crazy mother-son dance all on our own, without advice, without help, completely on our own...and that was just fine.
we would sing ourselves to sleep in the hammock.
we would splash in the Caribbean.
we would cover the walls with our artwork.
we would find joy in the simplest of pleasures.

we were a team and he was my joy, my first born.
my days were filled with him.
he had the very best i had to offer, uninterrupted, unshared, completely devoted.

when he needed more interaction, he got it. he got me (and my husband when he was home) 100%. he had it made.

somewhere, that baby, that precious boy who filled my days, disappeared and the tween i look at each day has morphed into someone else. he's hard to recognize.

i used to buy into the notion that, if you do the work when your children are really little, it will get easier and easier as the years go by. there are parts of that idea that ring true. there are other parts that are delusional. i have come to understand that parenting is work, no matter the age, no matter the child. there will always be another area of their character that can be refined. there will always be lessons to learn. there will always be a heart that can be molded, 

to be more kind, 

more compassionate, 

more patient, 

more grateful, 

more loving. 

those are lessons that don't end when a child is grown. those are lessons that we will keep teaching as parents long after our children leave the house. those are lessons my own parents are still teaching me.

still, in this instance, with tears in my eyes, i looked at my husband and asked, "what have i done wrong? how can someone i love so much be so intentionally hurtful? surely, it is not supposed to be this way. it is not supposed to be so hard."

my husband's response was simple and somehow cut through the weight of what i had felt that day. "he's not done. we're not done. it is like looking at a painting that is only half finished and being critical. the idea of that would be ridiculous. you can't judge a painting until it is complete. our son isn't finished yet. when he becomes an adult, when we see the man he will become, then we can look back at all the parts of his life that made up the light and the shadows and see each piece for what it was." my sweet man did everything in his power to remind me that i'm a good mother. 

slowly, i started to believe it again myself. i'm not perfect. i'm full of flaws. i have to pray for grace and patience everyday, but i'm a good mother. as i hold my one year old son and look over at his ten year old brother, i marvel at how much nine years has changed things. my heart breaks a little bit at how fast the time has gone and at how, with each outburst, with each stance of his will, my first born pulls farther and farther toward his independence. i want to hold back the clock and bring back the sweetness that once was. still, as i watch him become the adolescent he will be and see him change before my eyes i'm reminded that everything i have done for him has been a piece to his puzzle, a brush stroke on the painting that is his life. even on my worst days, when it feels like my heart may not recover, i can remember that, by God's grace, i am a good mother...and i'm parenting an unfinished masterpiece.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

san diego: disney on ice presents passport to adventure - september 25-29

tonight i had the wonderful experience of attending opening night of disney on ice, passport to adventure at the valley view casino center (former sports arena). 

passport adventure is a fast-paced, high energy show that kept my littles, and everyone around us happy and entertained the entire time. it is a family friendly adventure where children of all ages (yep. even me.) were smiling, clapping and singing along with familiar friends and songs from the lion king, little mermaid, lilo and stitch and peter pan. 

happy times with our old nanny, hillary. what a fun night all together!

mommy & silly, first born.

passport to adventure features an international team of award-winning figure skaters, high-energy choreography and a colorful set that captures all four unique worlds. audiences will be entranced (as my oldest, pictured below) as they experience this exciting excursion — one that will fill the arena with magic, music, and best of all, mickey and minnie (as well as donald, daisy and goofy too!

fun times with the little mermaid

those are bubbles coming from the celling! so fun!

hilarious timon and pumba

singing along with lilo and stitch

off to neverland with peter pan!

mesmerized by the entire experience. love.

passport to adventure is in san diego through the weekend. it truly was a wonderful experience for all four of us. don't miss out, buy tickets and take the family this week to disney on won't regret it.


wednesday, september 25 – sunday, september 29

wednesday, sept. 25 7:00 pm

thursday, sept. 26 7:00 pm

friday, sept. 27 7:00 pm

saturday, sept. 28 11:00 am, 3:00 pm & 7:00 pm

sunday, sept. 29 1:30 pm* & 5:30 pm

*spanish language performance


valley view casino center (formerly known as the san diego sports arena)

3500 sports arena blvd., san diego ca 92110


ticket prices range from $17, $25, $39 (VIP) and $55 (front row)

all seats are reserved; tickets are available for purchase online at, charge by phone at 800-745-3000 or in-person at the valley view casino center box office.

*tickets may be subject to service charges, facility and handling fees.

Monday, September 23, 2013

mmmmm: gluten-free crock pot apricot chicken

i don't know about you, but i am all about great tasting, easy to prepare meals. with school back in session and days busier than ever, it is wonderful to throw ingredients into a crock pot (slow cooker) in the morning and return home to an already cooked meal that the entire family loves. this is a favorite in our home and i hope you enjoy it as well. 

gluten-free crock pot apricot chicken

--11 oz jar of apricot preserves 
--1 teaspoon dried minced onion flakes 
--1 tablespoon dijon mustard 
--1 tablespoon soy sauce (tamari is gluten-free) 
--1/4 teaspoon ginger 
--1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional) 
--6 chicken breasts (we prefer boneless, skinless)

--drop the chicken into your crock pot. 
--in a small bowl, combine the other ingredients.
--pour evenly over the chicken cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours 
  or high for 4-6
--serve over rice and with fruit/veggies. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

lost in suburbia

i had the pleasure of meeting the lovely tracy beckerman at a blogging conference about a year ago. i immediately liked her, not just for her friendly and bouyant personality but much more so for her hilarious sense of humor and sarcasm. she had me laughing...i appreciate that in people more than anything else.

when i heard that tracy had written a book, i had to read it. she kindly sent me her book to read back in may...yes...that many months ago. i had every intention of sitting down and reading it all at one sitting on a quiet sunday afternoon. then i woke up and realized i am the mother of five. my reading times are almost exclusively limited to those brief moments i lock myself in the bathroom and the twenty seconds between my head hitting the pillow at night and an instant exhaustion coma. 

here is where the acolades for tracy's book really begin. every time...and i mean that every time i picked up her book, lost in suburbia, i laughed...outloud. laughed. it was like my own little sarcastic, brutally honest happy pill in the form of a mommy memoir. that is about the greatest compliment i have ever given a book.

tracy sandwiches her entire journey into motherhood between stories about getting pulled over by the police...not once, but twice...and once in a duck print bathrobe. what is there not to love? she calls her nursing breasts udders, calls her butt "buttzilla", fakes the sound of a breast pump, and goes through all the crazies of first time parenting vividly sharing it all as an open book (pun completely intended). 

so, if you have a lazy sunday afternoon...or five minutes locked in the bathroom, pick up tracy's book. you won't be sorry. you will get a great laugh and you will find a girlfriend who isn't afraid to share all the gory details of motherhood while still ultimately painting a picture that includes tremendous love for her husband and children. it is filled with honesty and laughter...and someone you will want as a friend.

here is where your day just improved. we are giving away a copy of Lost In Suburbia to one reader. if you would like to win a copy of tracy's book, leave us a message on our facebook page at  good luck and happy reading!

giveaway ends september 24th, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST. open to residents of the US only.  prizes cannot be shipped to PO boxes.  winner will be selected by and be notified by email. winner have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is selected. the book provided for the review was free of charge from the company. the book offered for the giveaway is free of charge, no purchase necessary. my opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation.  facebook, twitter and google+ are in no way associated with this giveaway. i do not share or sell information and will use any information only for the purpose of contacting the winner.

Friday, September 20, 2013

someday...the second installment

a few weeks ago, we started a new "someday" series. don't get us wrong...we love our lives, love our kids, love what we get to do each day. still, there are moments that if we do not document, one day we will mentally block from our memories. they will be the stuff of urban legends. our kids will never believe us. 

so, here they are...numbers 11-20. some are ours, and some are sent in by some brave friends. do you have a great "someday"? if you do, send us a picture and your favorite "someday" moments. you'll want proof that your "someday" ever happened.


11) someday, i won't have to say the words, "why are you holding your penis?

12) someday, i won't have homework at the start of each school year.

13) someday, i won't walk into the bathroom to find this...on top of the toilet. i'm assuming it was there because someone had to pee in the shower but didn't want to get out to do it. good thing there was a bucket nearby.

14) someday i won't have to boil my own bathwater so that i can shave my legs because my children used up all the hot water.

15) someday, i won't walk into my bedroom to find that strawberry lemonade has been spilled all over my white sheets. awesome.

16) someday, strange alien illnesses won't appear during naptime. what is up with that eye?

17) someday, my kitchen floor will stay clean for more than five minutes.

18) someday, i will be able to fold a load of laundry without worrying where he will go next.

19) someday my children will flush the toilet.
20) someday, my toddler won't find playing in unflushed toilets to be such a fun pastime. 


send us your "someday" pictures at we can't wait to share these moments with you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

school lunch: tips and tricks for packing the perfect lunch box

it's back to school time and for parents everywhere that means the return of the dreaded school lunch. packing school lunches, although a seemingly easy task, can become overwhelming whether you have one kiddo or five when you are in the mad school morning rush. 

both nellie and myself have found that organization is the key as well as involving the kids in packing their own lunch.

in the pantry, we both keep items for lunches organized and accessible in bins.

yogurt tubes are a stable in both of our houses. nellie keeps them in the fridge while i choose to keep them frozen to use as an ice pack to keep lunches cool until ready to eat. what works best for you?

if you have all of the items for lunches already prepared and ready to go, then all that has to be made is a sandwich or perhaps to pack up leftovers in a small container.

nellie also keeps the school lunch calendar visible on a clipboard so, the night before school her kids can choose if they will be buying a lunch or packing one. 

if you have a place for lunch boxes to go, it makes life so much easier. the kids know that, when they get home from school, they need to clean out their lunch box and return it to the bin, ready to be re-packed that evening for the following day.

i love to use these awesome labels from mabel's labels to clearly label lunch boxes and water bottles. you can order them online, or i found mine at my local target store.

you can also make homemade granola bars from our recipe here: 

while looking at some of my favorite blogs and pinterest, i found some other great ideas to help make school lunches fun and interesting. 

i just love this organization from delightful order. if i had an extra fridge in the garage i would be all over this! 

katie at simple bites has some great solutions for picky eaters including awesome smoothie recipes and homemade fruit roll-ups!

love from the oven has some super cute, simple ways to add a little fun into the lunch box.

these stickers from just bento are amazing! 

how does she has some wonderful ideas from cute clips to jokes and other creative goodness.

"donut" sandwiches from super healthy kids 

banana magic trick for perfectly hidden sliced bananas from zakka life--so fun!

apple puzzle from at home with real food

diy lunchbox icepacks from my kitchen escapades

what are *your* favorite lunchbox tips and tricks? please share and help a fellow mama out!