Monthly Archives: February 2011

First Day Back At Work

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First day back!  Wish me luck!

I’m too excited/anxious to write anything useful today, so here’s a Sarah story:

I must have the MOST dramatic four year old ever…

All evening she’s been hitting her Emma, taking her toys, screaming when she can’t HAVE Emma’s toys, talking back, throwing things in the house, screaming loudly because Daddy is sleeping, knowing it’ll bring the wrath of Dad down on Mom. etc. She spent all of supper sitting in her chair screaming till her voice was hoarse (not gone… darnit.) because she didn’t like her food. Then when supper was over, she ran in circles around the kitchen and kept bumping into Ava’s bouncy seat, even after I told her to walk in the house. so yeah. rough night.

at 7:00, I’ve HAD IT. I know if this goes on much longer, I might be jailed for what happens next.
Whats a sensible Mom to do?

I sent her to bed early. She traipses upstairs, crying bitterly. I hear her throw herself on the bed and say:
“Oh! What have I done? WHAT HAVE I DONE?!”
and with one more loud wail… she fell asleep.
I guess she was tired?

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Work It! For Working Moms: Don’t Do It Alone! (Part 2)

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Last week we talked about getting your kids in on the action, building responsibility for them and keeping your overwhelming list of duties in check.  This isn’t the only way to “not do it alone”  You can have other support too!  In fact, I would add it is integral to have adult support.  How many times have we, as working moms, been at work, and the daycare calls to say Susie is sick?  I’ve been on both ends of that call, and it is never an easy phone call.  The parent can’t take time off, for whatever reason, or they can, but it will take time to get to Susie, and the child is miserable meanwhile, just wanting Mommy or Daddy.

This is where we need more adult support (among other times) Its great to have a list of people who have agreed, in an emergency, to help out with childcare in a pinch.  Not everybody has this resource, in fact, my childcare list is extremely short.  My mom, and daycare.  So when either of them don’t work.  Its all me!   But if you DO have this resource, use it! You are very blessed if you have a list that contains more than three names.

Another way adult support is helpful?  Sanity!! I have some adult support in the way of sanity, in the form one of my closest friends.  She calls me on a regular basis to make sure the men in white coats haven’t dragged me away yet, and she schedules random dates where my husband steps to the plate and lets me regain some sanity.

The last bastion of adult support is: other Moms.  Get in touch with other working moms, and some stay at home moms.  I say this for many reasons;

1. Its good to know you are not alone.  Similar experiences and difficulties provide a great shoulder to cry on, and an awesome reality check if you need it.

2. Its good to know you’ve got other options, stay at home moms are a good way to remind you of other things you wouldn’t think of or do, because you are in a different situation.  Its also good networking.  I am good friends with a stay at home mom, who runs DIYparenting and she has been such a wealth of information.  Not to mention a very good friend.

3. It gets you out of yourself.  Knowing other moms, helping other moms, keeps you from feeling isolated and alone in the world of parenting.  I know I had alot of non mother friends who didn’t understand my special commitment to my children.  It is good to have someone who does understand when you can’t drop everything to go to the movies in 30 minutes.  And who doesn’t mind when you call her to cry about how much you WANTED to drop everything to go to the movies in 30 minutes.

Lastly, and most importantly, keep in touch with your family, you never know what kind of support they can and will provide, from the material support to the emotional and spiritual kind.  My family has always been an amazing support to me.  Support is so important!  Get yourself a net!

The Recipe:

Anything Casserole

This casserole is great!  You can use chicken or pork, whatever vegetables you have on hand, and make noodles or rice as a side.  I always keep the ingredients on hand for when I need something quick and easy.  Not to mention, Cream of Mushroom soup can yield many good things in a pinch!  This is not the healthiest, so I try not to fall on it too often. full disclosure: I adapted it from a campbells soup recipe.

ingredients:

1 Can Cream of Mushroom soup

1 can of milk

shredded cheese (anywhere from 1/2 cup to 1 cup)

1 or 2 chicken breasts (or pork chops)

frozen veggies.  About a bags worth.  Feel free to mix and match.  I like broccoli personally, but a mixed veggies bag is tasty too.

Directions:

Using your kitchen shears (this makes this alot quicker) cut the meat into bite size pieces.  Put in a casserole dish.  Dump in your choice of veggies.  Dump in soup, milk, and cheese.  Mix it all around till its all coated.  Pop in oven at 375 degrees.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until top is golden and bubbling.

I like to serve this with egg noodles, and a side of green beans.  Easy, and quick!

 

 

 

The Award Season Post- A Parody

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As I’ve embarked on the  journey to Motherhood, I’ve many people to thank for any success in this role:

I would like to begin by thanking Claude Debussy, for without him naptimes would not be possible, with which to regain my sanity.  I would also like to thank the creators of Allrecipes.com, since they have helped so much in making dinners my children will actually eat.  I thank my Mom for taking all the frantic phone calls at all hours of the day or night while I am obsessing over something stupid.  I’d like to thank Clorox, because without them, my house would smell like children, and their lovely habits.  I’d also like to thank Rachel C. for all the emails where we agree over the weird habits our husbands have, and for understanding the mystery of Fatherhood with me.  I’d like to thank Esther and Rachel K. for talking me through many parenting flummoxes, and Jenny at DIYparenting, for being my cheerleader as I make good choices for my kids. (music begins, I start talking REALLY FAST now!) I thank my husband, Allen for the extra Ooomph he adds to all my disciplinary threats, and for being my rock overall, and God for the guidance in all my parenting.  I’d also like to thank my children for trying each and every day to be good, whether they succeed or not.

And to my fans… I love you!! Muah! (was that a little over the top?  Ok, strike that…)

Can you tell I really enjoy awards season? That being said, by the time the Oscars come around, I’m kind of frustrated that the majority of these films are either unwatchable, or senseless entertainment that the whole industry pats its back over.  There are, however, a few winners in this lot, and I‘m really excited about this years group.  So, here is a link to enjoy, that made me laugh out loud, it describes these films in more *truthful* terms: (Warning: Explicit language, not for little eyes)

Let’s Save That!

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Before you start reading Today’s post, feel free to check out my first post as a DIYparenting writer!   Enjoy!

 

Is it possible we take parenting too seriously?

I know this is a slightly, nay, definitely crazy statement. I just think that sometimes we glorify what isn’t necessarily glorious. Take for instance, a penchant for saving everything. Yes, I saved the first outfit home from the hospital, their little hospital bracelets, and their pink caps and hospital blanket.  But I did not save the first soiled diaper. I didn’t take a picture of the first potty training experience. I didn’t save the first dirty tissue, and I didn’t save EVERY picture they’ve ever colored (my house would be a huge stack of papers and gross items.)  That seems extreme, doesn’t it?

Dare I say this?  Parenting is kind of mundane. It involves all sorts of disgusting discoveries, frustrating moments, and ordinary days. There are hardly any shining moments in the whole bunch, aside from a few knee slappers now and then. Take the quarters quote from yesterday, republished for the sake of non facebook friends:

Sarah: (Suspiciously) Mom, are there onions in this?
Me: No! There are not! Stop worrying and complaining.
Sarah: I don’t like onions, Mom.
Me: If you find an onion, I’ll give you a quarter!
Sarah: WHY would you give me a quarter? I can’t even BUY anything with THAT!

And then there are those few and far between lightbulb moments, where an older sibling kisses the baby, or tries to teach them something precious (I once witnessed Sarah trying to teach a wide-eyed Ava how to dance, Ava, freshly awoken from her nap, with Sarah dancing next to the crib, giving a play by play… “First you point your toe… thats called a tendu.”) I’ve also witnessed some beautiful moments where Emma has sung lullabies to Ava.

Then there are my favorite moments, where you get through to them, and you know a life lesson has been learned. Whether it will stay for life, I won’t know till 20-30 years from now.

But lets face it. We can’t save their childhood, nor should we. Whom among us wants our parents to think of us perpetually as children? I don’t. I want to be recognized as an accomplished adult who can make my own decisions. I did save my hospital outfit though.  So I can think back to when I WAS cute!

Now if you’ll excuse me, Ava has just made her first booger, and I gotta go shrink wrap that puppy…

Being Pecked To Death By Chickens… It Ain’t Pretty!

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Ever heard the maxim:

“Parenting is like being pecked to death by chickens, slowly!”

Well its true! Yesterday was one of THOSE days.  You Moms all know what I mean.  The day that your children wake up, agree to conspire to ruin your life and HAVE AT IT!    Mine certainly did.  And I felt like the meanest Mom ever.  All day.

Thinking further on it.  I kinda realized it was because I told myself I was the meanest Mom ever.  No-No number 1.

Number 2? I wasn’t entirely consistent.  I really need to kick that up a notch.

Number 3?  Our routine was changed.  We havn’t had a routine for almost a week now (I’m not so good at that.) and they didn’t nap.  That really added to the stress.

Number 4?  This one is all them:  They knew better, and they didn’t care.

Lessons learned?  3-Mom       1-Kids.

Lets hope this makes for a better tomorrow.  I think we’re all exhausted.  Some days just seem like a fight from start to finish.  Its been one of those WEEKS.

Tomorrow will be better.  I know it.

Working Hard, Or Hardly Working?

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I’m proud to say that I am joining the crew at DIYparenting.  Jenny and I have a shared vision and hope that our blogs provide encouragement to other moms out there.  Given that our experiences with motherhood are both amazingly similar in our philosophy and goals, but different in our experiences and situations, we appreciate the unique team we can be!  I am so excited to be working with Jenny, and will be doing some guest posts on her blog on a regular basis.

I have to thank Van and Abbe here and now for getting me into blogging.  It has been a real adventure, and one that I am enjoying thoroughly each and every day.  Thank you guys!!  🙂

I am so thrilled to be doing this.  As a starry eyed teenager I hoped I would be able to write as an adult.  As a teenage Mom, I gave up that dream and went into something I knew would keep me paid, and somewhat fulfilled, Early Childhood Education.  As an adult, I’m happy to be a Wife, a Mom, a Teacher, a Writer.  I am truly blessed.  Its amazing how things do work out for good.  Its also amazing how I’ve realized its not material success, or keeping up with the Joneses that makes one happy, fulfilled, and joyful, its becoming the person we were born to be, and following the plan God meant for us.

 

The Danger Of One Size Fits All Parenting

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Now hold it right there if you think this is going to be a “why can’t we all just get along?” article.  Its not.

I believe that in tolerance our society has created intolerance.   We are so tolerant of others point of view that the focused, the “narrow minded,” if you will, have become the ones who are wrong.  Because openmindedness is apparently a virtue.

Full disclosure folks:  I am narrow minded.  And I won’t apologize for it.

I have simple goals.  To serve God, do right, love my neighbor as myself, and show unconditional love, as Christ did.  I’m not perfect, I fail CONSTANTLY in these goals.  But the point in pursuing them, is eventually getting them.  I don’t carry signs that say terrible things at people’s funerals, I don’t tote weapons to the local abortionists, and I most definitely don’t scream things at the people going in.  This all being said, I have one focus, and one focus only, Jesus Christ.  There are alot of things I enjoy, I do, and I like.  (I run, I like wine, I love all kinds of music.  Joan Jett, Queen, Reliant K, Regina Spektor, DCtalk, Newsboys, The Who. I love to watch The Office, Project Runway, Saturday Night Live, I also enjoy listening to a good sermon by James MacDonald. I love to read Jane Austen and Shakespeare.)

How does this relate to parenting?  Well, I parent By The Book.  My parenting decisions are informed by my focus (or narrow mindedness) on the Bible.  I think my children ought to be raised as the Bible dictates.

2 Timothy 3:16-17

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

I understand that every family is different, every child is different, and that in applying principles and parenting choices, there is flexibility in how it plays out, person to person.   I may be “narrow minded”  But I’m not legalistic.  I don’t expect everyone to do things like I do.   In fact, I appreciate the diversity that is natural in people.   Please don’t take away from this post that I expect everyone to follow me.  I am not the authority, God is.  I’m exploring parenting just as any other parent is.

To get to the point: We all have our own focus.  We are all “narrow minded.”   We all know what we believe, and we all make choices in parenting.  This is why it is dangerous to assume, as many do “if she would just parent like me, listen to me, her kids would be so much better.”

They won’t.  She knows what she’s doing, or maybe she doesn’t, but it is none of our business, or anybody else’s to interfere in reasonable parenting decisions.    We focus so much on the little details in parenting, the details that really don’t matter. If another parent chooses a school you don’t approve of, feeds their child a food you don’t approve of, lets their child participate in activities you don’t approve of, so what?

Proverbs 22:6

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.

A Light Post: My Family Is…

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I’m going to do a little exercise here.  I will describe my children.  There will be a list of 5 things for each entitled: My Child Is.   We’ll do this in age order.  Enjoy! (Note: this will be saved for boyfriends later on.  We will need SOME kind of ammunition, aside from the shotgun, to scare off the awful ones.)

Sarah (4):  My Child Is:

1. Terribly Polite.  Known as “No Thank You Girl” at some functions due to her crying wildly and going “No THANK YOU!” While other children terrorize her.  Easy Target.  Needs a little support. That being said, she eats like a dainty little kitten!  So cute!

2. Little Miss Encyclopedia.  She can name all sorts of body parts, and enjoys teaching other people things she knows.  I love her spongelike mind!

3. Quite a reader.  It is not uncommon to hear her whine “Read it to meeeeeee!”

4. A romantic.  Prince Charming is around every corner, and Laurie Berkner and a sewing leftover can become a grand ball instantly.  Wild imagination on this one!  She’s also rather fond of impromptu tea parties and picnics.  Eating is not the name of the game, the game is the name of the game.  Why eat when you can hold your pinkie up and giggle?

5. Quite the chatterer.  She says the Darndest things.  Like today’s gem “Mom, I am drawing for Emma, she doesn’t know anything, so I’m teaching her…”  Riiiiiiight.  You do that.

Emma (2): My Child is:

1. You all know what goes here. A NUDIST!

2. A singer.  She can be frequently found singing to Ava.  Its adoreable!  Until she tries to smack her, it all goes downhill from there…

3. A bit of a bully.  Excels in the hit and run toy theft.  Smack Sarah, wait for tears, take toy, run away giggling.  This is a habit we are at present trying to break.

4. A real eater.  Eats me under the table.  She inhales her food in seconds!  There’s a platefull, BAM! Its gone. More Please?

5. An accessorizer.  While clothes aren’t important, accessories are!  You will often find her bedecked in a sombrero, necklaces, bracelets, heels(mine) rings, and a backback.  Clothing optional!

Ava (2 months): My Child Is:

1. Pudgy.  We boast a Beergut and cankles.  🙂 I love pudgy babies!

2. A smiler.  Wakes up so darn chipper in the morning.  Meanwhile I’ve got crazy hair and morning breath, and she’s giggling and kicking away.  Why are we so darned happy?

3. A eater.  This child may take after Emma when solids are introduced.  I kid you not. This child is ALWAYS packing it in!

4. Sleeps like a rock.  This kid will sleep through Emma streaking, and Sarah yelling at Emma for being nude, and me chasing the two of them to keep them from eating all the cookies.  Yet, she lays there, smile on her face, calmly sleeping through it all.

5. A fan of the vacuum.  If we WANT her to sleep like a rock, turning that puppy on and letting it run for five minutes in earshot will do the trick.  Every. Time.

Liz: Their Mom Is:

1. Crazy.  I enjoy cooking with the lot, playing stupid games, and singing silly songs.  I also like torturing myself by doing crazy parent stuff.

2. Absolutely frazzled.  It gets LOUD around here.  And some days, I feel like I live in the zoo.  Sometimes, I need to just stand amidst the chaos and nibble on chocolate.  Calmly.  While they tear my house apart.  Its a necessary evil.  What can I say?

3. An escapist.  I will admit, here and now, to letting them run amuck, while I hide on my favorite rocking armchair, holding Ava, and watching a movie while I’m nursing her.  Call me terrible, call me lazy, but sometimes I just need my pudgy kid and some netflix.

4. I like my alone time.  Running is the current mode d’emploi, and not only is it restoring my sanity, but I have the added plus of restoring my figure.  Hubba Hubba. the spandex doesn’t really upset the hubby either…  I think he likes it.  All in all, it beats bathroom web surfing while the chaos rages outside the door, with Allen as referee.

5. I love our nightly snuggle sessions before bedtime.  I get to love my children, instead of escape them, and they love me back, all over a good book.  Whats not to love? Plus, the best Sarahisms come out at this time.  Half asleep suits her…

Allen: My Husband Is:

1. Always tired.  That whole third shift idea? The guy who came up with it is on my LIST.  I dunno what kind of list this is, but its not good!

2. A good sport.  He puts up with all the females, PLUS our craziness, and with a smile on his face.  I don’t know how he does it.

3.  He does ALL the dishes AND the laundry AND the grocery shopping.  Can’t get any sexier than that!

4. Has a great sense of humour.  Nothing like laughing with your hubby over a poopy smeared living room!

5. Is my partner in every way.  This has grown through the good times and the hard times.  Its a wonderful thing to live.

Work It! For Working Moms: Don’t Do It Alone! (Part 1)

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My friend, Alaithia Humphrey posted this as her facebook status, and it got me thinking:

“so I totally forgot I had to bring a snack for Ethan for school tomorrow. So I will be making cupcakes til one in the morning. Fun fun:)”

Many Moms have been here!  We’re exhausted, we have a ton of things to do on a daily basis.  Get lunches, get everybody out the door, do our jobs at work, keep track of everything there, get home, keep house clean, feed everybody, house is messy again, exhaustion hits and time for be… OH CRAP!  THE CUPCAKES!

Go back downstairs, dig out the pans, and its go time.  No sleep for the weary…

Why are we like this? We have a lot to manage! Its rough, I’m tired, and I forget things, because I have too much to do.  Sound familiar?  We don’t have to do it alone!  For starters, even kids can help around the house.   I know Dads can (and should!) help too (I promptly did a jig in my kitchen just this morning, because I found my husband had done the dishes!)  But why should our kids help?  Cleaning up their own mess, and contributing to family life teaches teamwork, and responsibility.  This is truly making the most of your time with your kids, You are teaching them, working with them, and loving them in a unique way.  Not to mention, having a 5 year old who can mix a batch of cupcakes singlehandedly is a fun thing to brag about!  There so are many ways that kids can help:

Tell the kids when something is coming up they are involved in at school and should cook/bake for.  Involve them in the decision making process of what to make.  Its a great learning experience, and an opportunity to exhibit responsibility.  They can help get out and mix ingredients, decorate, return the ingredients and clean up the mess.  The first few times will be tough. It seems like more work to start, but it saves everybody in the long run. Safety is also very important! At the start, always make sure young children know their boundaries when in the kitchen.  Mine are not allowed to even touch the stove. Children can also help with regular household tasks.  Even a 1 1/2 year old is old enough to begin to help clean up toys.  They won’t do it perfectly, but at this age, that is not the point.

Here is a list of some ways to establish good habits.  Take it slow for starters, and after you’ve established specific tasks, introduce more complex tasks.

1. Don’t get it all out!  Let them do some of it! (Emma gets ingredients out of the fridge)

2. Pick up as you go.  Your children can place some things where directed (Sarah returns all finished items to the pantry for me)

For both ideas, you can also give children a specific domain, obviously Sarah has the Pantry, Emma, the Fridge, and they can do all the reasonable fetch and carry.

3. Give THEM the towel!  Let them wipe up their messes, and encourage good handwashing.

4. Let them have ownership in the kitchen too, this will increase pride in good work.  Sarah helps unload the dishwasher (I go through it first and remove all sharp objects) and she puts the silverware away.   Emma puts everything in the bottom cabinets (tupperware) away. Both girls assist in wiping cabinets, tables, chairs and sweeping the floor.

5.  Our golden rule is, if you make a mess, clean it up! (applies to everyone!)  Let them clean up their own toy messes, food messes, ANY messes! Be consistent!!  Don’t ever clean up after them.  If they say “I can’t do it by myself!” Chances are the size of the task overwhelms them.  “Help” them by breaking it up into parts for them.  Maybe by identifying types of items to clean up at a shot.  I tell Sarah, “Find all the stuffed animals, put them here” and Emma “Put all the trash into this can.”    They are also responsible for their own laundry placement.  They put it in the laundry bin when it is dirty, and after it is washed and folded, they put it away.

6.  Keep a community piggy bank.  If it is broken, and needs to be replaced, messed and it needs to be cleaned professionally, money from this fund will help pay for the mess.  My children hate the thought of the piggybank being dipped into to replace a lost game, or broken toy.  They are more responsible with their things because of it. What is left over can be deposited into their student bank accounts later.

7. Last but not least, the dreaded trash bag.   If my children fail to help clean up their messes, I reserve the right to use the trash bag.  Usually the threat is enough to have them clean the whole house spotless right then and there.  Once, I had to use it, little do my kids know I hid it in the attic and replaced the toys later.  They never noticed, but I got my point across!

I know this all sounds really hard hearted, but if we don’t teach our children to be responsible, who will? We need to teach them patiently, lovingly, and consistently.  No one else will support them like we can.  No one else can teach them like we can.  When they succeed, who else will praise them like we will?  There is something wonderful in a life lesson with Mom or Dad.

One day, I heard Sarah exclaim, “We did it!! We cleaned the kitchen!  Oh Mom! Its beautiful!”  Hearing the excitement, seeing the smile, knowing she was proud of her own hard work was the best reward ever.  It is well worth every difficult moment, extra clean up, and tantrums to reach the day when your child is excited they accomplished something worthwhile through good old fashioned hard work!  I am so proud of my children!

The Recipe

If all else fails, and everybody simply forgot the cupcakes/cookies etc, here is a recipe that will save you in a pinch (inexpensively, I might add.)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

 

2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup quick oats

1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, softened

3/4 (packed) light brown sugar

3/4 granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 pack semi sweet chocolate chips

yield: 4 dozen(ish)

1. Combine dry ingredients in one bowl.  In another bowl, cream butter and sugars, beat in eggs and vanilla.  beat in flour mixture, then stir in chocolate chips.

2. turn half of the dough out onto a sheet of wax paper, shape a log 2 inches in diameter.  Roll up the log into the wax paper, twist ends closed.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Chill until firm.  This can be refridgerated for one week, or frozen for 6 months in an airtight plastic bag.

3. to bake: preheat oven to 300 F.  If using frozen, give it some time to soften a bit.  Cut the log into 1/2 inch slices.  Arrange on ungreased cookie sheet about 2 inches apart.  bake for 22-24 minutes, or until set. (a little trick, I always bake for 21 minutes, they are softer, and more moist.)


A Post About Learning Lessons- The Hard Way

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It is gonna be a busy day for the Sacks household… So I won’t linger.

Last night we were at a gathering of friends, and there was chinese food, cookies, cakes, etc.  Miss Sarah, not to miss a chance to score a big coup, ate a little chicken and passed over all vegetables, noodles and rice.

But she hit them cookies HARD.

We got home, midnight, children were asleep, placed into beds gently and quietly, and everyone slept on.  At 4 am, nobody was sleeping.  Sarah hobbled on into our bedroom, “Mom, my tummy hurts from all that sugar, I didn’t make healthy choices…” And she promptly threw up. There was about a half hour of frantic cleaning.  Before she came into us she had deposited large amounts of pink icing all over her bed.  Walking down the hall to her bedroom was terrible.  I called Allen for help.

“Allen! Help! I just can’t do this alone, I don’t want to make a mess either.”

“Liz this is what marriage is for! Did you think I could keep sleeping and let you clean this up by yourself?”

I tell ya what, those are the moments that make you fall in love with your husband a little more every time. Roses are nice, chocolate is tasty, but doing dishes, vomit, diapers, vacuuming, its the sexiest thing a man could do!  Not to mention, so much more romantic!   So, there we were, laughing over vomit together, cracking jokes as we cleaned it up.  Those few moments with him, working as a team, did more for us than any planned date could.  There is something to be said for facing a crises together.

I love being married to my Man.  I think we learned more last night than Sarah did.  Although she woke up this morning, chipper as ever “Mom!  I’m making healthy choices today! My tummy hurt from all that SUGAR!”  Learning lessons the hard way.  Wonder if it stuck?