Its all in the Agar…

We’ve got another one at the piano. He loves music. He enjoys tinkering on the piano. Not surprising, he doesn’t love practicing his lessons (which may or may not be due to the fact that I’m the one giving him instruction!)

Hunter Piano

He wants to know why I’m making him play. Isn’t it the story of every kid across America to say that they took lessons at some point in their life and then quit?!  Of course, I’m not having him play for that reason.

I tried explaining to him the method to our madness.

It is our ultimate goal to raise well-rounded, confident, kind kids who know their Lord and Savior. Sounds simple enough. But when it comes to raising kids, I’m fully aware, I am no expert – instead I am practicing parenting. I’ve got my ideas and none of them proven. So I practice parenting on my kids. I push things I believe strongly in and then at times I realize somethings not working so I have to change it up. What works with one kid doesn’t work with other kids. It can be chaotic and frustrating at times, but we continue to work towards our goal.

As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the idea of doing enough. We throw them in everything to see what sticks. And even after putting all our time and energy in, we still feel like we didn’t do all we could to cultivate their talents.

I found this online and it put my mind at ease.

It’s All in the Agar.
Agar is that jelly stuff that you put in Petri dishes to grow bacteria and other wonderfully intriguing things.  Often, parents will contact Mensa worried about how to make sure their child is learning.  “But how can I teach him?” they ask.  The answer is as simple as agar: just make sure the environment is right for growing.

You do not need the latest educational toy or gadget. You do not need to invest in tutors and expensive summer programs.  Just make sure the home is a an agar-rich environment, full of reading material, access to appropriate creative materials, and, the most precious resource of all, time to explore.

I fully believe this. This is how we’re going to create well-rounded children – by creating an environment right for growing and giving them time to explore.



High expectations…crushed by reality…

Steve and I hit a major milestone in our parenting journey yesterday. Briggs turned 18 months a few days back which just so happens to be the magical age where kids can attend the nursery class at church. We have been counting down this day for some time and we walked with an extra skip in our step yesterday morning. (We’ve been going in the last couple weeks with him to get him used to it.) But with most things that you look forward to with great anticipation – reality rarely meets our lofty expectations.

Steve and I both know that Briggs is a needy/attached child. But something in me wanted to believe we could drop him off and enjoy church without interruptions. The reality was I dropped him off and made a beeline to the door when he wasn’t looking. The minute he noticed I was gone he was crying and screaming. The bandaid had been ripped off, right? We were in the clear…we were, until minutes later I could hear him from down the hallway. I waited it out a little longer hoping they could get him calmed down. But as much as I wanted an interruption-free Sunday, I couldn’t stand the thought of the poor teachers trying to console my child for the duration of the class.

I ended up bailing them out and I sat on the floor surrounded by toys with Briggs right next to me. When I had to leave to go teach a lesson, Steve took my spot on the floor, and Briggs kept a healthy two foot radius. I realize it was wishful thinking to hope that he would enjoy nursery tear-free. In reality, Steve and I will probably drop him off each week with new and more sophisticated tactics to get him to stay and after he cries for a good amount of time, we will relieve the teachers and enjoy our spot on the floor. Luckily, Briggs isn’t alone. He has a little buddy who is just as nervous in there and I’m hoping they can figure it out together.

Here’s a picture – not from Sunday because he was grumpy pants, but from a couple days prior to show he really does have a fun happy side – it’s just unfortunate that the only people who get to see that usually are the people that live in our home! Wish us luck – and the nursery leaders! 🙂

Briggs Nursery

18 summers…

The state of Idaho has a brilliant marketing campaign right now and every time I see it, it makes me pause. The campaign is “18 summers”. You only have 18 summers to make the memories your kids will remember for a lifetime. Use that vacation time, and make every summer count.

It pulls at the emotions and heart strings of every parent because when you start counting time as summers, you realize time is short. I have 18 summers with a kid under my roof. 18 summers to go on adventures together. To make them fall in love with the national parks. To see family and friends. To grow as a family. 18 – that’s not very many. Especially when I started considering Hallie is two-thirds of the way through her summers with us. How did that happen?!

We’ve spent many of our summers in Idaho and I wouldn’t have it any other way. We always manage to fit some other adventures in there as well. But I’m fully aware that we are in a stage with our kids where we are in complete control of their summers. That will soon change. In no time they will be off to girls/scout camp, church youth activities, sports camps, jobs and I’m sure a myriad of other things I can’t even imagine at this point. It makes those summer vacations even more valuable. We’re going to really have to carve out that summer time together, it’s never too soon to start planning!

Here’s pictures to catalog Hallie’s summers so far. Twelve down…6 to go.

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers

18 summers


Laundry Minions…

Managing a home is a lot of work. And it’s the type of work that is never complete. I pay bills one month and as you can imagine, the next month I pay the same exact bills. The dish washer seems to always be full and even though my kids are little they still expect three meals every single day – and snacks on top of meals!

Its a lot of work. The only thing that makes running this household easier is the help from my minions kids.

Laundry Minions

I have learned that kids are capable of much more than we give them credit. I once saw a meme that had a picture of a washing machine that read – if your kids know how to work a smartphone, they can learn how to run a washing machine. And although I see those tasks as being completely different (lets be real – most toddlers know how to work a smartphone and I wouldn’t let them near a washing machine!) I understood the underlying meaning. Kids are capable. But it takes consistent and deliberate training which can often seem not worth it. And I’m aware, for many it’s not worth it. I have found peace in having kids do chores that may not be to my standard, but it gets done without me doing it.

Take laundry as an example. I despise laundry. I’m pretty good about getting clothes in the washer. I’m decent at moving the clothes to the dryer. And if I’m being honest, I’m mediocre at getting the clothes put away in a timely fashion. In come the laundry minions. Hallie is old enough she can do her laundry from start to finish. Hunter is almost there as well.

But there’s a lot of laundry on top of that. This is how the task is completed. I do several loads of laundry and the baskets get dumped out on the floor of the living room. Sometimes, a load is specific to one person, like Hallie and it isn’t dumped in the pile.

Everyone starts sorting by making piles for individuals around the room. Once the piles are sorted, they sort their own piles. They also sort for the littles who are still  little young, although Cannon is getting there. Once their piles are sorted, they go to their rooms to put it away. This is where control is relinquished. Their shirts are hung in the closet, but everything else goes in drawers, buckets or under bed containers. Pajamas are never folded. They get thrown in a bucket. Shorts are rarely folded. Instead they’re usually laid flat and stacked which means the first time they pull the bottom pair out of their drawer its a mess. And socks are occasionally sorted. And all of this is okay by me, because I didn’t have to do it. I don’t care if their pajamas are wrinkled. I don’t care if they can’t find their matching socks when they need them, and yet they never wear mismatched socks. The only thing I’m concerned with is their shirts and they’re hanging them in their closet (every which way and sometimes only halfway on the hanger).

I explained this process to someone a while back and they thought I was crazy. Here’s a fact: If you are particular about your laundry habits – this would be your nightmare. But when I look at managing a household, I look to see where I can streamline tasks and if I can teach my kids to work at the same time its an added bonus. Don’t get me wrong, this still takes a long time. I’m amazed at how long they can stretch out laundry day. But it’s not my time they’re wasting. It’s their pool time, or friend time or anything else they’d rather be doing.

The best part is when they come to me looking for their clothing and they get the same answer every time, “I don’t know, where did you put it?” 🙂

Laundry Minions

Sunday Shenanigans….

People tell me to enjoy this stage and cherish the small moments. And I honestly think the people telling me this truly believe the words coming out of their mouth. There are wonderful and beautiful moments in the stage we’re in. And there’s plenty of bad as well. I want to document the reality of taking Briggs (17 months) to church so that one day in a not so distant future when my kids are raised and I’ve forgotten the bad moments, I don’t look at the poor mother struggling with her young children at church and think to tell her – enjoy it while you can, they grow up quickly.

Surprisingly enough, the easiest part of Sundays is actually getting to church. I’m often doing it on my own (Steve at meetings) and we’ve got a system down which makes it relatively painless. Except when a child can’t find their church shoe which should have been put in their shoe bucket after last wearing it which happened this morning.

I actually had to wake Briggs this morning which is rare and I was hopeful this would be mean he would be happy during the services. Boy was I wrong. We got in our seats early which is typical. But I’m not sure it works to my advantage. By the time the meeting was actually starting, he was already restless. Walking in 10 minutes late might have helped me out a little bit today, it would’ve bought me more time!

Steve was on the stand speaking so I was flying solo with a wonderful family behind me to lend a helping hand. I wanted so badly to enjoy the meeting but Briggs grew more and more restless despite my fantastic bag of tricks and treats that I carefully planned out. Steve was the second speaker and by the time he stood up I was fighting tooth and nail to stay in the meeting without being disruptive to every one around me. We made it just a few minutes before Briggs was done and screaming. I quickly exited the meeting and made my way to a dark room to let Briggs calm down. I was met in the hallway by the other mothers/fathers with kids similar ages, all of who were working their hardest to stay at church with their disruptive child.

Once Briggs had calmed down, I thought it was safe to reenter the meeting and finish listening to Steve’s talk. I made it two more minutes before he was crying and I walked right back out. Of course the congregation smiling back at me as I made my final exit. I parked it on the couch for the rest of meeting. I wasn’t alone – I was surrounded by other struggling parents. We laughed in our struggles together.

I thought Briggs would be able to pull it together once he was back safely in Steve’s arms and perhaps even make his way to the nursery to play with toys. However, that was not in his cards today. The crying and screaming didn’t stop and it didn’t take us long to pull the plug on church altogether and Steve went home to put him to bed. Briggs and I were both exhausted.

So that’s what church looked like for us today. In fact, it’s what church has looked like for awhile. Today was not glamorous and I didn’t get a whole lot out of the meeting. I assure you, I will not miss these moments. No matter how many people try and tell me that I will! 🙂


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