BOYS. Frogs, Snails & Puppy Dog Tails

boys 2Why God Made Little Boys

~Author Unknown

God made the world out of His dreams
Of magic mountains, oceans and streams,
Prairies and plains and wooded land,
Then paused and thought,

“I need someone to stand…
On top of mountains, to conquer the seas,
Explore the plains and climb the trees.
Someone to start out small and to grow,
Sturdy, strong as a tree…” And so,

He created boys, full of spirit and fun,
To explore and conquer, to romp and run.
With dirty faces and banged up chins,
With courageous hearts and boyish grins.
When He had completed the task He’d begun
He surely said “A job well done”.

I will never forget the day my first son was born. I heard, “It’s a BOY!” and remember a rush of joy fill my body followed shortly by a jolt of fear. I had no clue what to do with a boy. I have one sibling, a sister. I already had a daughter. I knew every princess name, the best ballet studio and where to buy a frilly dress but I knew absolutely nothing about raising boys. And the thought of messing it up completely overwhelmed me.

I quickly learned how much my life would change by having a son. Not one, but now the mother of two amazing little men, I have learned to catch lizards, build forts and do a perfect cannonball. I have learned to ask big questions and be happy with small answers. I now know little things really don’t matter and it’s ok to make mistakes. They showed me anything can wait when it’s time to snuggle and say goodnight, and everything in life can be easier, more fun and less stressful if you slow down, stop taking everything so seriously and learn to get muddy and jump in puddles.

My boys, now 11 and 8 are growing up faster than the race cars they point out to me on the road. But one thing has never changed…their love for me. Never in a million years would I imagine having a “mama’s boy” adore me, but now I’m blessed to have two. They are truly the sweetness and joy of each day even when they drive me nuts. They are definitely more physically demanding, run me ragged, complacent with school work and argue over taking showers and brushing teeth, but there is something so simple about a little boy’s black and white mind that doesn’t hold grudges, resolves conflict quickly and never takes life too seriously.

My life truly is sweeter with little boys…frogs, snails, puppy-dog tails and all.


IMG_5243I can remember the very moment our eyes met, the smell of her breath, the rush of nausea but absolute euphoria running through my body. She was my first. And she was a girl. And all I could think of was how much guilt and remorse I felt for anything and everything I put my own mother through over the years. I called my mom right away.  “I finally get it! I love you so much! I get it mom! I’m so sorry for everything. I love you so much mom!”

From that point forward I knew my roller coaster of parenthood, particularly with a little princess, would not be smooth sailing. I knew the obstacles we would face, the battles that would ensue, but I also knew the connection I was responsible for building. The mother/daughter bond I wanted so desperately to share with her from that first rush of sweet baby smell.

Looking back, the first years that seemed so difficult were actually the easiest. If given the option, some days I would trade being thrown up on, drag a wailing toddler out of a store, or stay up all night with an inconsolable newborn for parenting a 13-year-old girl. She is no longer little, neither are the problems or the difficulties she will face.

Those of you with older girls understand. The physical needs that drain us as parents in the early years are no match to the emotional needs that come later. Nothing can possibly prepare you for your daughter’s first bully, a learning or medical concern, their first heart-break or their first “real” problem they have to work out on their own because you know that’s the only way they will truly learn the life skills needed to survive in this world.

No one prepares you for the times where you honestly don’t know what to say to make things better. You can’t just grab a band-aid or a bag of M&M’s and make all her problems disappear.

We can’t even rely heavily on the advice of our own parents because they didn’t have the joy of guiding children through Instagram, Twitter, Vine, Snapchat and all the other social media outlets we don’t even know about.

So yeah, it’s scary. And most days I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. But I do know a few things. When I parent with the right balance between little and big girl, life is good. When I can remember to be firm but loving she responds. When I let her be independent but cautiously stand by in case she falls she thrives. When I show her respect but demand the same, she gets it. And when I hold her, even when I think she doesn’t want me to, she still collapses into my arms and doesn’t let go.

Sure there are plenty of self-help books about raising girls, I’ve probably read them all. But trust me, there is no manual. We are in the driver’s seat with a permit and it’s our job to pass the test. No, there isn’t an instructor with a clip board documenting each mistake we make along the road, those check marks are confined to our own critical minds. So relax, your “not so little girl” will turn out ok. One day at a time, several baby steps later.

And when all else fails SMILE because…

“Raising girls is like nailing jello to a tree.” ~ Author Unknown

How To Be A Better Parent In 30 Days

DAY 1: BE QUIET! – Your kids don’t want to be told what to say, how to say it, what to wear, what to eat or when to go to bed. You can still be in charge and get your point across but sometimes you just need to zip it. 

DAY 2: LISTEN – Which brings me to listening. Sometimes your kids just want you to listen. Stop giving advice, reminiscing about your childhood experiences, your ideas, thoughts or concerns and GENUINELY listen to what they are saying. Hard to do but you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll actually get to know your kid.

DAY 3: NEVER SPILL SECRETS – The day you do this is the day they will stop talking to you about anything. Obviously if someone is in danger this rule doesn’t apply. Spill immediately.

DAY 4: READ THE MOOD – Get to know which side of the bed your child falls off each morning. Simply stay away from the wrong side.

DAY 5: GIVE SPACE – Let them breathe! Do you really have to know who they ate lunch with or played with at recess? Whose party is this weekend or who is dating who? You’re the adult, remember?


DAY 7: LET GO OF THE PAST – Stop bringing up past mistakes or disappointments, forgive, forget and move on with your relationship.

DAY 8: DON’T FREAK ABOUT THE FUTURE – So maybe your kid will be the next Bill Gates, earn a gold medal, get accepted to Harvard or make it in Hollywood. But what if they just grow up and do their own thing that is completely separate and opposite of what YOU have dreamed for them? Don’t freak out, nothing is guaranteed.

DAY 9: LET THEM BE UNIQUE – They are not extensions of you. They are separate little human beings with their own unique personalities. Love them no matter how much they drive you nuts.

DAY 10: EMBRACE THEIR QUIRKS – Whoa! How annoyed are you when they crack their knuckles, lack personal hygiene, squeal in that high pitched whiny voice, pick their wedge 20 times a day and drive you nuts with 100 questions on the way to school? Who cares? You’re quirky, they’re quirky, we’re all quirky. Get over it.

DAY 11: STOP NAGGING – yes you nag, even if you think you don’t. Stop doing it or they’ll tune you out and you’ll find yourself yelling at the top of your lungs and get no response.

DAY 12: MODEL BEHAVIOR – Don’t just tell them the type of person you want them to be, lead by example. Yes, it’s very hard to do.

DAY 13: SAY “YES” OR “MAYBE” MORE THAN “NO” – When you consistently say “NO” eventually your kids will stop asking and do it anyway. You don’t want that to happen. So instead of jumping to “NO” every time you’re asked a question, pause…ask for some time to think about it and give a “maybe” or even a “yes”.

DAY 14: SPEND QUALITY TIME – no matter what age your children are, even if they don’t admit it, they do want to spend time with you.

DAY 15: LOVE YOUR SPOUSE – The most important thing you can do is love your spouse. Your child’s relationships will be defined on how they witness you and your spouse treat each other at home.

DAY 16: PRETEND YOU’RE INTERESTED – 99% of the time while you’re making dinner, or driving carpool or rushing to soccer practice, one or multiple children are telling you something. In the early years it’s about their day or what they got in the treasure box. As they get older it might be about girl drama, their latest I-tunes download or getting cut from the football team. Whatever it is, be interested and be present. When your kids are on their phones or have ear buds in every time they’re around you, you’ll know you failed at this one.

DAY 17: DON’T GET INVOLVED WITH DRAMA – The last thing your kid needs is for you to fight their battles. They will get their feelings hurt, multiple times. They won’t be invited to parties, someone will bully them mentally or physical. But kids need to learn to stand up for themselves. No matter how much your mama bear wants to tear apart the perpetrator, stop. Don’t do it. Your actions will only make matters worse for your child.

DAY 18: DON’T NEGATE FEELINGS – Feelings are never right or wrong. They are simply feelings. Assure them that they have every right to feel a certain way and understand where they are coming from. Then go back to numbers 1 & 2.

DAY 19: BE PATIENT – Give them time to open up. Half the time kids are going through something they might not even know how to verbalize it. Don’t rush the process. Kids will be kids and do things you won’t understand because it’s not the way you’d do it. Be patient.

DAY 20: BE LOVING – there is no stronger emotion than love. Do it often and do it big.

DAY 21: BE KIND – Stop being mean. Sometimes parents are more of a bully to their kids than any peer in their life. Just be nice…easier said than done, but seriously give it a whirl.

DAY 22: ENCOURAGE FAITH – whatever your religious or spiritual beliefs, share them with your child. Kids are naturally selfish. Let them understand that there is something so much more important than them. Faith can help them in tough times and bring you closer.

DAY 23: BREATHE – You cannot and will not get through parenthood without taking several deep breaths each day. Sometimes each hour, each minute. Relax…breathe.

DAY 24: STOP FREAKING OUT – Sometimes, even when life totally sucks, you have got to keep your cool. If the mom freaks the house crumbles. Don’t do it. Or at least lock yourself in the bathroom when you do.

DAY 25: GUIDE, DON’T BOSS – Be a mentor not a dictator. You know who you are. Stop it.

DAY 26: BE FUN – Be silly, be creative, remember what it was like to be a kid. Would you have hung around YOU if you were a kid? If you answered “no”, get with the program and hit the dollar store for a whoopee cushion, prank call your kid’s cell phone or Google some new jokes to share on the car ride home.

DAY 27: CREATE MEMORIES – Let them skip school to hit the beach with you, wake them up after everyone else has gone to bed to take them in the jammies to get ice cream, spend extra time snuggling, go on a walk alone in the rain, or go to a park and swing high next to each other and chat about your day. Don’t just create memories, make moments they’ll remember forever.

DAY 28: SPEND TIME WITH EACH KID – Take time out for each kid individually, find out what they like to do, their favorite food, favorite hangout. Join them in their favorite sport, they may laugh at your efforts, but at least you’ll be smiling together.

DAY 29: VALUE THEIR BELIEFS – Again, your child is not you so inevitably you will have different and varied beliefs especially as they get older. Respect their own viewpoints and don’t push your beliefs upon them.

DAY 30: REWARD EFFORTS – Praise, praise, praise. Whether they try and succeed or not, reward the effort. If no effort is given, do not reward. Encourage the journey, not the destination.







Of course I’d like to be the ideal mother,

But I’m too busy raising children.

~from the Comic Strip The Family Circus, by Bil Keane


Sometimes it’s easy to get overwhelmed at this time of year. The kids are adjusting to their new classrooms, getting back in the homework groove, and after school activities are in full swing. We often feel like hamsters on a wheel as we run in circles around town.  Sometimes it’s good to step back from the craziness of our day to remember we can not be all things to all people. It’s impossible to be super mom or dad no matter how hard we try.


Being a parent doesn’t mean we have to be perfect all the time. Our kids actually expect much less. Their needs are pretty simple and can be summed up in one word…LOVE. So next time you forget the lunchbox, run late for batting practice, or don’t have a gourmet meal on the dinner table, don’t stress. And remember, a smile and a hug go a long way when it comes to being the perfect parent.


Have courage for the great sorrows of life and patience for the small ones.

And when you have finished your daily task, go to sleep in peace. God is awake.

~Victor Hugo


One of the toughest jobs we have as parents is to instill a strong faith in our children. We hope someday we can sit back and not worry, knowing they will trust and rely on God during both happy and difficult times. The above quote is a great reminder for our kids that no matter what, they can rest easy knowing God is always on call, 24 hours a day.