Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all of MyLifeWithTheseKids friends! This has been a very busy year for my family and I, and we are extremely thankful for God’s faithfulness, provision, grace and mercy through it all!! We were reminded this year that God opens doors that no man can shut, and that He will be your defender when you make conscious decisions to put your faith in Him and to always operate with integrity! So thank you Lord for those faithful reminders!

As far as this Christmas season goes, we have been blessed to give gifts  to Feed The Hungry ministry/organization from their catalog where you could choose gifts that are literally  life saving- chickens, goats, green houses, mosquito nets, etc! We had fun choosing 2 chickens and a Chubby Cheek nutrition package for some babies! Amongst other things, it gives a parent so much joy to be able to grant the desires of your children’s hearts. Check out the video below of Jabin getting what has been on the top of his list!

Caleb, on the other hand, has been obsessed with motorcycles since early Spring. He even went to school this fall creating stories to his teachers of how he rode to school on his motorcycle, and he put so much detail into those stories that his teachers even asked me, “Mrs Gonzales, did Caleb ride to school on a motorcycle today?” LOL LOL #myboy

 

IMG_0844
My husband hadn’t yet taken it out the box yet, so Caleb’s initial reaction was one of slow shock! LOL
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Here we have it out the box and put together! Lord help us!

Elijah, being the youngest boy, really just wants what his older brothers have! We thought we had a hit on our hands with the Paw Patrol Mission Chase toy, but as you can see below, he had his eyes on Caleb’s motorcycle. He doesn’t look that excited huh? Ah well!

Thans mom, but uh can I get on Caleb's motorcycle?
Thans mom, but uh can I get on Caleb’s motorcycle?

I did attempt at being a responsible parent by giving the boys books. Jabin ripped open the wrapping paper, revealing “The Big Book of Bernstein Bears Beginner Books”. I’m looking over his shoulder, corners of my mouth all turned up, proud of the big interest in reading that’s been developing, expecting atleast a smile in return from him. But what do I get? He gave it all of 1.5 seconds of a glance over and dropped it on the floor, with a bang on our hardwood floors and moved right on to the next gift. Sniffle. My husband, who has never been a fan of reading, burst into laughter with a “I told you that was a mud gift!” SMH!  My dream is that one day books will be exciting for Christmas!

So, I pray everyone else is having a Merry Christmas! But the reality is I know everyone is not. I know some of you are struggling with sadness, loss, depression, anxiety, and more. It makes me sad to know that this season prompts such emotional distress. Jesus really is the ONLY reason for the season! How God wrapped himself in flesh because He knew that the world needed a savior in His son Jesus, will always be the focal point for our Christmas’ and I hope this in some way penetrates however you may be feeling in this season, and pray that you get a sense of joy that Jesus truly did give you the best gift ever when He gave His life for you and I! Many blessings to you and yours <3

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

 

10 Reasons You Need a Kid-Free Vacation

When’s the last time you took an out of state trip or even a stay-cation with just your spouse? Other than our awesome honeymoon in June of 2007, we really hadn’t been on a REAL vacation together. Last year, my husband was awarded a trip to the Bahamas for being an awesome salesman, but our youngest son Elijah was only 6 months at the time, and there was just no way I could leave him that early! I know, I have been accused of being a stalker mom a time or three, but I confess and wear it proudly! Not to mention he was still  exclusively breastfeeding and wasn’t yet on solid foods, refused pacifiers AND bottles, so who was watching that kid without going nuts?!  If anything other than sweet human milk from a warm soft bosom hit his palette, he would gag and shake his head profusely.

So, off to the Bahamas we went, towing along a stroller with his infant car seat attached, an infant carrier for the times he didn’t want to be in the stroller, a big overly filled diaper bag that had my shoulder begging for mercy, and an infant who had stomach pains due to being overly gassy for the first time in his life, go figure. He cried hysterically for the first 10 minutes straight on our flight, and I was met with the most evil are-you-serious glares to the point I wanted to burst into tears myself. And then I drugged him with benadryl and forced my boob in his mouth for the 3rd attempt because, I was just panicked. Overwhelmed. And it was a safe dosage. And it worked. Non-judgement zone, k?

Fast forward to this past April. My husband again made the Presidential Elite trip from being awesome, this time with the destination being Orlando, Florida! With our sons now being ages 6, 4, and almost 2, me being the over-concerned stalker mom ceased (ever so slightly) and I was determined to go on that trip kid-free! We did, and it was amazing, and here’s why:

  1. Traveling to and from the airport alone without children felt like a vacation in itself. We seriously could have hung out at the airport and turned around and went right back home and been legitimately refreshed. Being able to just carry your one carry-on, sit down, have some coffee and drink it while its still hot, and peacefully wait to board the plane without shushing, threatening, and reassuring overly excited kiddos while hauling an arsenal of tablets, coloring books, snacks, drinks, diapers, wipes, kleenex, and Benadryl, was just simply heavenly! Speaking of Benadryl, last year when we went to Florida with the kids, Caleb, the one who needs to be sedated the most, was the one who REFUSED the “medicine”. He knew it was a conspiracy! What a smart kid lol.
  2. Packing is a breeze and provides a renewed sense of excitement! When I packed for our trip, it wasn’t as daunting knowing that I didn’t have to write out and check off a super long list to ensure the boys had plenty of clothes and back up clothes. We only needed one large bag, and it was exciting to pack cute little outfits, heels, and dream of holding hands and walking along the beach in your cute little cover up and then surprising him with new “night wear”.  Even if none of that actually happened, its fun to imagine it while you pack lol!
  3. We could hang out as long as we wanted and sleep in as late as we wanted. On previous trips with the kids, we had to be conscious of nap times and bedtimes to prevent overly tired and cranky children. Being on vacation with children means you need a vacation from the vacation. But not when its just you two!  In Orlando, we hung out at the Universal City Walk and sang Karaoke til the wee hours in the morning. We felt like teens again!
  4. You don’t have to worry about car seats and car seat safety.  Our last vacation with the kids we had to decide between taking car seats and checking them in at the gate or renting them when we got there. We discovered renting them is ridiculously expensive and towing them along in the airport is just…annoying.
  5. Uninterrupted Quality Time with your Spouse. Its wonderful to be able to channel all of your focus and attention on your love. We were able to have a spa day together, soak in the jacuzzi, hang out at the pool, and just be “us”, which provided awesome opportunities for us to simply bond, laugh, and intimately converse and interact with one another without the demands of our little ones.
  6. Opportunity to Socialize and Commune With Other Adults. Our last real solo vacation happened on our honeymoon before we even had kids. I remember meeting and hanging out with other couples, hooking up, having dinner, and just being our social selves. We got to do that again.
  7. No toddlers squeezing in the middle of you between the hours of midnight and 3am and your husband resorting to the couch. No explanation needed.
  8. You can Read a Fictional Book Again of Your Choice. Who has time to read books other than large-print kiddy books with multiple small children at home? You do when you’re on vacation and they aren’t with you! LOL I read a book from begin-ting to end-ting and it was beautiful. *In my Madea voice*
  9. Opportunity to Do Excursions! We were able to carelessly jump on shuttles and take an airboat adventure ride in the Florida swamps whilst looking for alligators! We fed gators, marveled at how they growled at us when we threw them food, and overall had a great time participating in fun activities together.
  10. It Shows Your Children that You WANT to be together. My boys have become accustomed to us going on date nights, and just recently we took a night away and got a nice hotel room to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary. Our boys see that we genuinely love each other and want to make time to just be “husband and wife”.  Although they can’t fully articulate it now, it provides a great sense of comfort and security for them knowing that they have parents who love them enough to recognize that a loving marriage is one of the best gifts we can give them and actually work at it to have it<3

So, if you and your spouse have been overwhelmed by the demands of life, really sit down and carve out some time away. Jump on Expedia.com and find a reasonably priced overnight hotel stay or browse Groupon.com for some local getaways at a steal! Even if your marriage may be going through a rocky phase, please be intentional in MAKING the time to just be with each other. Make deals with other friends or family with children and take turns babysitting! Whatever you do, make the plan and make it happen!

“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”- Mark 10:9

I’d love to hear from my fellow married friends! What do you do to get away? What are your favorite get away spots? Any tips for couples struggling to find time to reconnect?

Until Next Time,

Stephanie <3

Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama

Hey hey! I hope all of you had a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! We live in the land of the free due to the brave men and women who relentlessly fought and continue to fight for our freedom! To the families of those that have lost their lives in battle, continued prayers of peace and comfort! <3


 

I hope you all were able to do some fun things with your families. Holidays for me is all about finding that balance between relaxation and building memories with your loved ones. Our weekend included some swimming at our fitness center, family bar-b-ques, and attending the annual St. Mary’s Polish Country Fair, which is truly the kick-off event for the summer complete with all sorts of good eats, real roller coaster rides (see photo below), kid zones, and even Vegas themed areas for the adults.  Although we had bouts of very light sprinkles, the weather was perfect and at a great high 70 degree temp!

 

Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I yelling the hardest though?
Us riding a roller coaster at the fair. Why am I screaming the loudest though?

The St. Mary’s fair attracts about 100,000 attendees every year, and I could definitely feel it as we maneuvered through the crowds, trying to keep an arms-length distance to my three sons. As we made our way from the Dinosaur Dino ride to the basketball games, we bumped into strollers and families with children at every turn, and one family in particular were attracting quite a few eyes as a mother yelled at her young elementary-aged son, “You know what’s gonna happen right? You gone get SOCKED in yo’ mouth! I’m SICK of you complaining!” She turned and continued on her way after she gave a menacing glare, and you could see how angry she was from the grimace that remained planted on her face. Seems harsh right? Uncalled for right? But there are so many of us parents just flat-out losing our cool and taking it out on our kids. How can we change this?

That happened on Sunday. On Tuesday morning, I sat amongst like-minded women and moms as we gathered for our weekly Mom2Mom study, ate some food, sipped on some coffee, and eagerly looked at the TV monitor that would soon be filled with Dr. Kevin Leman, parenting and marriage expert whom I’ve referenced before, giving us Lesson 5 of Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World. Low and behold, this lesson was specifically about …. (drumroll)… how parents can calm our nerves and calm down before we burst! So, I started this blog because I have a desire to share not only stories about my life with these kids, but the lessons and resources, people, and other insightful aspects of parenting that have inspired me to overall just be better. Don’t you want to be a better parent? Being “better” is not easy and I’m learning is not always instinctual! It takes us seeking out the Word (Bible), biblically based parenting resources, much prayer and PRACTICE!

I am sharing here with you some of the tips by Dr. Kevin Leman’s DVD/Workbook below as it relates to anger taken from Chapter 5 of “Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World”!

 

Book Cover!

 

OBSERVING THE WARNING SIGNS BEFORE TEMPERS FLARE aka HOW TO CALM YO’ NERVES, MAMA!

  • STOP–  I can be transparent and admit that sometimes, my children make me angry. Can you join me and admit that right now as well? Right there as you sit reading this on your phone or computer, say it with me: sometimes, my child(ren) make me flat out MAD! And that’s normal and ok! But it’s what we do with that anger that can make or break us as parents and consequently our children. When we feel our tempers rising and that flame starting to get bigger and bigger, we have got to practice a mental “take 5” and allow ourselves to calm down before speaking. My issue is yelling. I grew up with a mother (hey ma, love you! lol) that is LOUD. She is loud when she’s upset, loud when she’s happy, loud when she’s sad, and loud for no reason at all. That loudness growing up felt like #teamtoomuch at times and would hurt my feelings, but I know that she is a passionate person and a very colorful communicator! I know because as a mom myself, I can say I inherited that, LOL! But, one day my son Jabin made me mad. He has this habit of flapping his arms, jumping around in circles and then SPRINTING to the nearest couch or bed and diving in head first as he bursts into tears. When I’m not laughing at how ridiculous he looks (if you guys are laughing its ok haha), I’m mad at the emotional outburst. And sometimes I will just yell, “JABBBBINNNN! Get up off of that bed, get in here RIGHT NOW and apologize to your brother!” or “and clean up this mess!” or “and you are NOT watching another second of TV!” Sometimes, he can just make a simple mistake that ticks me off and I will yell, “Jabinnnnn! You have got to be more careful!” and he will respond in borderline tears, “You don’t have to yell at me!” And that’s what stops me in my tracks, makes me immediately soften my tone, and I apologize. I really DON’T have to yell! I am the example that teaches him healthy communication regardless of how we emotionally feel in the moment. Can you relate? If so, lets practice together a “Take 5” before we automatically resort to what comes easily, yelling or in many cases, verbally bashing our children.  That is NEVER ok. And lets keep it real, some of us need to practice a “take 10, 15, 20, heck…5 minutes” before responding!
  • DETOUR: Dr. Leman says when you feel the anger devil on your shoulder (ok my interpretation) that we need to DETOUR and take an alternate route before we allow our anger/emotions to make us crash and burn. “You choose not to strike out verbally with harsh, threatening words and tone. Instead, you take another path and find solutions to the problem at hand” (page 25 in Raising Rock-Solid Kids in a Pleasure-Driven World). I had to think about how I can apply that to my parenting. When Caleb comes into the kitchen, grabs apple juice from the fridge and tries to pour himself a cup, only he pours too much and then I come in to find apple juice EVERYWHERE on the floor after I just mopped, instead of me bursting at the seams, I can calmly say “Hey Caleb, come here! Were you thirsty? Ok next time please ask me for help so we don’t make a mess ok? Take this paper towel and clean it up real good! Thank you.” Not only is that an acceptable detour, it allows Caleb to be responsible for the mess he made in a healthy way. It feels weird at first, and it takes a minute for the heart rate to go back to normal (lolololol, whew!), but Dr Leman gave a great visual example of how we feel when we are momentarily angry. Picture a balloon blown up. Its tight and the more you blow, there is the potential for the balloon to pop. As you let some air out of the balloon, the latex becomes softer and softer, and then it is no longer possible for it to pop because essentially, some steam has been released. When we are angry, calmly talking about the situation or taking some time to think before responding is how we can slowly let some steam out before we POP! I have also learned that we have to RESPOND to our children vs REACT.

 

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. James 1:19

 

There were tons more great tips that I would love to share with you! But for the sake of not writing a book here, subscribe at the bottom of this blog or in the side panel, or check back here on Friday for Part 2 of “Calm Yo’ Nerves, Mama!” I hope this helps, group hug!

You Know You’re a Boy Mom When…

I grew up in a blended family according to what’s politically correct. My mom and dad both had children from previous relationships before they themselves met and married, and then had three children together. So in our immediate household, there were my two older sisters, me in the middle, and then two little brothers behind me.

Those little brothers TORTURED ME! Especially the one that’s 17 months my junior. He would do whatever he could to annoy, distract, and divert my attention away from whatever it was I was doing to him. And his goal was to get me to squeal, shriek, fight, chase, and ensue in a wrestling match. Most of the times his efforts were rewarded by my emotional and passionate reactions, and he would take off running, bare chested with tight-fitted shorts, eyes twinkling and snaggle-toothed smile gleaming in little brother annoyance, with me charging behind him, swinging and praying for contact.

I remember my little brothers being obsessed with Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme, and them taking two chairs, climbing on top, and then carefully lowering themselves into a split formation..one foot turned up on each chair (see photo below). They were so proud of their efforts. Me as their sister just rolled my eyes in response and prayed for the swoosh and kicks of their verbal sound effects for their 17th karate fight of the day, to soon pass.

 

Jean-Claude Van Damme photo from film, BloodSport. And this is what my brothers replicated every. single. day.
Jean-Claude Van Damme photo from film, BloodSport. And this is what my brothers replicated Every. Single. Day.

Now that I’m a mother of three boys, I find myself watching my boys do many of the things my little brothers did! Although there are two decades of time that has passed, one thing remains the same… boys will be boys! If you have multiple boys or just a single boy, you can probably relate to a few points on my list of:

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A BOY MOM WHEN…

  1. You can get them dressed in 60 seconds or less in the morning. No one really cares when boys aren’t perfectly coordinated. A tshirt, jeans or sweats, and sneakers are pretty much wardrobe staples!
  2. Over time, you expect them to wrestle and fight and you become perfectly ok with it. In fact, when its too quiet, that’s an immediate warning sign that they are up to no good and you need to find them ASAP!
  3. You can hear a very loud thud in a part of the house. Your heart rate accelerates a little bit as you stop what you’re doing, listen for what type of cry that may or may not follow, and then you determine if you need to check on them based off of what you hear. Most of the time you shrug and go about your business.
  4. They’ve gotten into your makeup bag, and when you finally see them, their eyes are plastered in multi-colored eye shadow. You laugh, take a photo, and file that in “High School Graduation Slide-Show Photos”. You also hurry and wipe it off before your husband sees them. LOLOLOL!
  5. If you’ve ever been hit square in the forehead with a youth football, while your husband solely focuses on how accurate the aim was, then congratulations, you’re a boy mom!
  6. Your weeknights and or weekends are slowly but surely being completely taken over by sports. If you have a lawn chair on stand-by in your trunk, then yep! You have boys!
  7. You get presented with dandelions atleast 3 days a week. And each time your son(s) give them to you, they hold them out like they are freshly picked, long-stemmed roses. You take them, conjuring up the happiest smile you can muster while oozing an enthusiastic “awww, thank you! So sweet!” While you are touched at the level of attention your boys give you, you secretly scout out where to stash them. Keep it real with me, ok?! Don’t nobody want them thangs!
  8. You buy new sneakers every 2-3 months, and when the boys get their foot measured, your eyes bulge in surprise that they’ve grown by 2 sizes. How do they grow so fast? How did they walk in their old shoes?! How did you NOT notice their shoes were too small?!
  9. If you have ever had itchy boys, you know the itch can include areas below the belt. My 20 month year older frequently requests that I scratch his er um…scrotum. Today he actually fell into a deep sleep whilst I relieved his itch, with his diaper halfway open and his legs sprawled open like a little frog, his eye lids became heavier and heavier until he finally succombed to nap time slumber. If one of your boys has ever put you through that, extra boy mom points! I will be starting a prayer call for their future wives. Ya’ll in?
  10. And finally, if you have ever greeted your boys (or even other people’s kids) by flipping them upside down and body slamming them on the bed or the couch, or pinning them down and tickling them until they can’t take another second, then you my dear, are a boy mom true and through and need to start workin’ on that girl for some household balance. LOL!

 

Presented by my son Jabin, it took him like 15 minutes to pick all of these.
Presented by my son Jabin, it took him like 15 minutes to pick all of these, lol!

It should go without saying, that no matter the sex of your children, that they are individually special, unique, fun, and come with their own set of parenting challenges. Having all boys has taught me, one who naturally likes to know what’s happening next, to just be flexible and go with the flow! I’m steadily learning that its not the end of the world if they show up somewhere with holes in their knees and grass stains. Life will go on when they face plant into the pavement or jump off of things they had no business climbing on in the first place. With each new phase that we get to experience mothering our children, boys or not, God’s grace is sufficient and available for us to in turn pass that grace back to our children. Parenting boys is HARD! They try your patience day in and day out. But lets remember to have fun with it, to let them see us having fun, and to do fun things together! Serious, authoritative parents are no fun. Cheers to parenting with a loving balance of discipline, joy, order, and a soft place for our children to fall, over and over again.

So how is this list? Can you identify? Add your own “Boy Mom” moments below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Wild Wednesday!

As I type, its only 2pm EST and today has already been nothing short of an open palm slap to the forehead while my neck slowly twists from side to side, wondering, “how will I get through this day with all of my sanity?!”

It’s mid-winter break for my eldest son Jabin’s school district, so I try to plan ahead what activities we can do to keep them distracted and entertained. My fitness center is always on the top of the list because well….we already pay for it so why not drop these little knuckle heads off to them for 2 hours while I get in a good workout?! Right? Right!

My morning preparation to get them all out of the house entailed the following:

  • Breakfast- instant apple and cinnamon oatmeal compliments of Trader Joe’s!
  • Swatting Elijah away from my breasts. The kid is insatiable! *he’s 18 months and has not quite been broken from nursing, another open palm slap to the forehead*
  • Making Jabin get in the shower since he decided he was “too grown” to bathe with his brothers last night.
  • Being told I’m mean by Caleb (my otherwise comedic sweet middle son) because I wouldn’t allow him to shower with Jabin.
  • Swat Elijah again away from my breasts, watch him roll around on the floor in a tantrum, and then give in. *you guessed it, hand to the shaking head*
  • Get the boys dressed, convince Caleb that the gym will be fun today because they will be playing basketball! And then watch him slip his 3T basketball shorts OVER his jogging pants and be very excited about it. *my open palm slap to the head is now hurting me*
  • Wrangling 3 boys into the truck, amidst a borderline Michigan winter blizzard.
  • Walking into the gym, having my boys take off their coats, and then watching the childcare workers faces spread into smiles and then full out laughter when they see Caleb’s attire. At this point, I just laugh along with them!

My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

 My comedic Caleb, gotta love him!

So I finally get to the fitness floor with my iPad mini in hand, anticipating the lovely distraction of Parenthood on Netflix. Imagine my irritation when the wifi wouldn’t connect! *whaaahhhh* So WHATEVER! LOL Despite the disappointment and the urge to just jump off the treadmill and go sit in the cafeteria and sip some coffee in peace, I did my 4 mile interval treadmill workout, which was life saving!  I’ve definitely learned to appreciate and desire the stress-reducing benefits of cardiovascular exercise! Afterwards, I had a steamy hot shower and tried not to envy the toned washboard bellies walking around the women’s locker room, got dressed, threw some type of curly jelly in my hair #teamnatural (which frankly I’m kinda over right now in this -20 degree weather), put on some make up because thats what helps to make me feel vibrant, and set off to pick up my boys! I thought to myself: ok this was good! I got in a good workout, showered, I feel good, and now I have renewed energy and patience to care for the boys the rest of the day! 

And then I got greeted with this.

“Hi.” Said the childcare front desk worker, as she presented me with a strained, you’re not gonna wanna hear this type of smile.

“Hi!” I happily exclaim in return. Remember I’m feeling good, and I didn’t quite catch that she may have some troubling news for me.

“Sooo, we had to write up Elijah today. He was throwing toys at the other kids and hitting them in the head. It made some of the children cry and their parents were upset. He’s even hitting his brothers too.” She quickly explained in a rush-like manner.

I honestly had no reaction. My sweet little baby had become the childcare center toddler terror?! I was in shock.

Elijah David, a terror? Why never!
Elijah David, a terror? Why never!

 

Seeing my pupils slowly dilate, she went on to say, “It’s just a warning! But if it happens again, he will be suspended for 3 days. This here is just a report and I need you to initial so its documented that I went over everything with you.”

I don’t even know if I read the report, I just scribbled my name and stuttered out some type of reasoning as to why my little cuddly baby boy was on his way to being kicked out of the fitness center fun place for kids. And of course when I went to scoop them all up, Elijah was his nice grinning happy self, and ran over to me with his adorable bow legged self, complete with dried up snot and a little slobber hanging from his bottom lip. Despite what I’d just been told, my heart did a little leap and I lifted him in the air and brought him in close for a hug.

“Elijah! Were you not nice today?!” I say in that mommy high-toned voice reserved for kids 2 and under.

“Huh?” he says in return, still smiling and hugging me.

Next on my Motherhood things-to-do list:

TEACH ELIJAH TO NOT HIT….ASAP! 

Wish me luck! Now is probably a good time for me to open up my parenting book on getting my kids to mind before I lose mine. If you have any “no hitting” suggestions that have worked with your kids, PLEASE share them below! I know this is my 3rd kid and all, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have those moments when I just want someone else to tell me how to mother, lol.

Survival Guide of Dining Out With The Kids

Hey hey!

This is my first post of 2015, so a big loud HAPPYYYYY NEW YEARRRRR! I pray that thus far, it has been a great start and is filled with promise! For those of you who have made goals, remember to make a plan of action to accompany that goal and make it happen!  I also personally know that this new year has brought immense heart ache, tragedy, and strife to many families. And for those of you hurting, I pray that in your midnight hour of pain, that you seek the Lord with all your heart and lean not unto your own understanding. In ALL your ways, even in the hard ones, acknowledge HIM, and he WILL direct your path. Hugs and kisses, and prayers of comfort and peace that surpasses all understanding! In Jesus Name, amen! Special acknowledgement to my extended Chicago framily (friends who have become family), I love you!


 

For those of you reading with children, you know how it is going out to eat at a restaurant with young ones.  As a reminder to any new readers, my boys are 6, 3.5, and 17 months. Recent photo below!

My Three Sons, enjoying french vanilla ice cream!
My Three Sons, enjoying french vanilla ice cream!

My husband decided one evening that he would like to go out to eat, and Red Lobster happens to be close to us, and to our oldest son Jabin, the mention of Red Lobster is like seeing a heavenly cloud of cheddar bay biscuits pop up over his head. So if no one else was excited, I knew our restaurant choice would elicit a snaggle-tooth grin out of him! So off we went, and to say the least, it was a very colorful dining experience as usual.

Over the years, we have learned the DO’S & DON’TS of dining out with the kids that have worked for us! So I would like to share them with you and get your feedback as well, we’re all in this together:)

DO’s & DON’Ts!

  • Dine with your kids at a time they would normally eat. If they are not hungry or overly hungry, get ready to be met by all kinds of side eyes and tight lips from other patrons when your kids are banging their forks and knives on the table, chanting “EAT! EAT! EAT!” *this may or may not be a true story*
  • Take toys, rattles, iPads and phones for your little ones. That, or be prepared for your husband to hand your baby a crayon to take bites out of…which may or may not elicit a blank “oh no you didn’t ” stare from you.
  • If you have a baby that still takes pacifiers or other toys that end up in the mouth, ask for a cup of hot water for a quick and easy way to sterilize for the 36 times your baby throws whatever it is on the floor. FUN!
  • Use whatever you got at that table as a distraction! Especially for a teething baby or toddler, we’ve learned that sliced cucumbers or restaurant ice chips are THE BEST! Put one on a spoon and shove that ice in that baby’s mouth as fast as you can without them choking…and its ice, if it got lodged in their throat it’ll melt. *this is an instant where I’m kidding but not kidding? #durp* But If a piece is too big, then bite it. Just do it. lol Provides atleast 20 minutes of quiet time. #winning
  • If you have children around the same age, get them the same meal or  split different meals between them. Ain’t nobody got time for “I wanted that TOOOOOO!” screeches.
  • Be prepared to take a walk with a walking toddler who may get restless. Mental preparation for impending inconvenience is half the battle!
  • Make the meal enjoyable and fun, but get out of there as fast as possible! This is not the place to let your kids scream, cry, yell, and bang their heads on the table while you sit on the phone or ignore them and talk to your spouse/date/or whoever. Don’t be that parent. Okay? K. *now I’m laughing*
  • Consider looking around the table after you all are finished and pick up some of the debris from the tornado that just touched down. Like, how do forks, knives, spoons, crayons, napkins, & french fries constantly end up under the table?! The server and busboy would appreciate it if you have an extra few minutes :)
  • Try and give that waiter who done dealt with your bad rambunctious kids for an hour their 15% or more tip!
  • Make sure you have your fill of patience and handle any melt downs or mishaps with dignity and love. Please don’t be up in there yellin at your kids like you done lost yo’ mind! *this brought out the ebonics*
  • Pay attention to your kids, because you never know when one of them may get a funny look on their face, think they have a piece of shrimp caught in their throat, and comes to you for help. They just might throw up all their dinner in your hand and on the floor by your feet, and you will have to not be concerned with the looks of disgust from the jerks at the nearby table, but pat your son’s back and make sure he is ok. This isn’t the time to smack your lips and sigh with embarrassment at the mess that was made. Instead, clean him up best you can, cover up the puke with napkins, and alert the waiter that your son just vomited on the floor. And THEN, watch the relief and sparkle of gratitude jump into your waiter’s eyes when you insist on cleaning it up, and they happily volunteer to get you a trash bag, napkins, and gloves. And then, your son that just puked may grab your phone and take a photo of you while you are scrubbing up said puke. In case you haven’t gathered, this happened to me in real life. Last week.
Me cleaning up vomit! YAY
Me cleaning up vomit! YAY photo credit: Jabin!

 

So, what do you think of this list?! What did I miss? Leave your do’s and don’ts and own funny stories of your experiences with the kiddies, can’t wait to read them and looking forward to seeing other strategies to add to my own Dining Out Survival Guide!

Why is Jabin Crying?

Why is Jabin, my first-born son, crying? That is the question of the moment. It is currently 4:50pm EST. He called me earlier from school to make me aware that he had a tummy ache, so my husband happened to be home, which is extremely rare, and he went to pick him up.

After Jabin got home, he hung out in our bed for a while…you know, because when kids aren’t feeling their best hanging out in mommy’s bed…on mommy’s side of the bed….on mommy’s pillow is a cure all. He nibbled on some turkey sausage, and even asked for more. Sipped down a juice box and watched one of his favorite shows. He even went as far as to lock the door so no little brother annoyances could bother his “me time.”

Eventually, he came out of the room, played a little football on the Xbox, and announced that he was thirsty and politely asked could I get him something to drink.

Me: What would you like? Water or strawberry milk?

After some thought, he enthusiastically replied “strawberry milk!”

I proceeded to make his beverage of choice, and then the unthinkable happened. I belched during the short trip between the fridge and stirring his strawberry milk. I quickly said “excuse me” because that is a major pet peeve of Jabin’s…for someone to pass gas whether it be from the top end or the bottom end…he demands an “excuse me!” He’s even cut his eyes at me and yelled out in frustration once or twice if my “excuse me” was momentarily delayed.

But as the strawberry syrup begins to color the white milk pink, Jabin bursts into tears and he is visibly upset. As a matter of fact, he has been crying going on 15 minutes and is borderline inconsolable.

So…why is Jabin crying? Is it:

a. His tummy ache magically reappeared

b. His little brother, Elijah, pinched him in the belly, catching him off guard.

c. My belch intoxicated the air and drifted into his newly made strawberry milk.

Answer: C.

The End.

So, what are some peculiar reasons your kids have burst into tears? Share below!