When You’re Totally Inadequate 

I saw a post on Facebook the other day and had a vivid memory of our time in seminary. We were in Dr. Wellum’s Sunday school class and someone’s baby started to fuss. Before I had kids I was never around them and had NO experience. Not a clue. So this baby started to fuss (in her car seat and the parents weren’t right there) and I froze, totally inadequate to the task. Emily crouched down and soothed the baby like it was nothing, because to her, it was: she already had a baby. 

I remember talking with Dan afterwards about how I just didn’t know what to do, and was kind of freaked out about my future parenting endeavors. Remembering this has been really encouraging to me this week. As now a mother of five, soothing a baby is no longer a daunting task. I’m no baby whisperer, but parenting little people IS my skill set now and though it was a process when we had our first baby, we figured it out. 

Are you getting ready to have your first baby? Start a new job? Go back to school? Do a new thing? Or just parent an older kid through a new struggle?

So grow. Don’t fight it–rise to it. 

Every single phase and season of life has new challenges and we have to be flexible, adapt, and grow. 
It’s not about American ingenuity, it’s about God-given human creativity. There are things I do now that I would never have thought of then and aspects of life then that were critical that have no value to my life now. Kids need routine, it’s really important for them and good for their development; but they also desperately need to learn to be flexible and solve problems. And they should first and foremost see their parents doing the same!

Here are some questions that are helpful to me:

  • What is going to be most helpful?
  • What is the goal?
  • What is going to accomplish this task?
  • What do I need to learn about? Who do I need to talk to?
  • What will set them up for success/help them navigate this issue in a life-giving way? (Parenting older kids)

Make Having a Baby a Breeze



I realized a week or so ago that I desperately needed to make a list of things to do before baby comes.  Here it is.  Share it with anyone getting ready to have a baby!

My husband is smart and savvy and entirely capable of handling the home and the kids, but we have a LOT of kids and being REALLY ready will make life a little more doable.

  • Empty the vacuum(s)

Why?  Because vacuuming is chore enough, let alone if it’s super full and the trash is too full to dump it.  So having this done avoids all that.

  • Top off all the soap dispensers

I make my own foaming handsoap (1 oz Castille soap + water=Done!), which my husband has never done.  Let’s just not have to deal with that for a few weeks (we have 2-3 spares).

  • Make sure you’re stocked on toilet paper, napkins, paper towels, tissues, shampoo and soap, etc.

Because the things you buy less often are easier to forget about and no one enjoys running out of TP.

  • Make disposable cleaning wipes

Having a lot of kids means you’re cleaning up stuff CONSTANTLY.  And having cheap disposable cleaning wipes means that it’s easier.  Period.  The link in my Pinterest doesn’t work anymore, but basically, you use a serrated knife to cut a roll of high quality paper towels (like Brawny) to fit in your container.  Then mix 1/4 cup of all-purpose cleaner like Lysol with 2 1/4 cups of water and pour it over (remove the cardboard tube after 10 minutes or so).  I had my husband drill a hole in the lid of my container, but most of the time, I just remove the lid to get wipes out easier since they tend to shred when pulled through the hole.  The wipes are great, but you have to get used to them (they’re certainly not as strong as commercial wipes).

  • Transition clothes for other kids (or get them ready in a trashbag or box)

Are seasons changing? Has someone just had a crazy growth spurt?  This will be a major headache if the main person who does this can’t and it needs to be done desperately.

  • Start making a list of freezer meals to make/freeze beforehand

This time, hubby said he wants about 8 casseroles frozen to use about once or twice a week and he’ll cook the other couple times a week (he’s really quite something).  I definitely COULD search my Freezer Food board on Pinterest, but I think I’ll stick to old favorites that I have saved in Disheroo (cue shameless plug, HERE!) to make the planning and shopping list ZERO EFFORT.

You Don’t Have to Hate Transitioning Clothes


A friend recently posted on Facebook her trials with seasonal clothing transition for her four children.  I was a little surprised at how similar I and the other commenters view this task: We all seem to LOATHE it.

This has been an area of major growth for me.  One thing I’ve done has made a HUGE difference and I thought I’d share it.  Several days ago, I had to paw through my 2T tub and it was an ordeal–because I hadn’t worked the magic on it.

Here’s the MAGIC:

I divide every size tub of clothes into seasons in trashbags that I can tie and untie.  So then I can open the tub, and open the trashbag I need (which I’ve labeled with a Sharpie) and find what I need or put stuff back.

OK, that doesn’t sound spectacular, does it?  We have winter (turtlenecks, longjohns, blanket-weight/fleece pjs, etc), summer (shorts, tank tops, etc), and spring/fall (a good mix of short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts, capris, and long pants).

This cuts my “shopping” down to about a third of the work and frustration.


View yourself as “shopping” in your available clothes.  NOT EVERYTHING has to go into the dresser.

It’s really helpful to accurately assess what the child will really wear and let that and your laundry schedule drive your “shopping” decisions.  I do kid laundry on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, so I don’t need more than 3 pairs of jeans or jammies per kid.

I don’t bring the tubs upstairs.  I take a laundry basket down for my “shopping trip” for the child.  This prevents having massive tubs overtake our home, having to lift and maneuver them up and down the stairs, and introducing wrong-season or otherwise unhelpful clothes into that child’s dresser.

I want my kids to look cute, but clothes don’t really matter to me.  Mostly, I want them to be situationally- and weather-appropriate, comfortable, and economically attired.  We buy infrequently–and when we want to for a specific reason, or have gaps to fill–that’s it.

Wardrobe capsules: if you’re not familiar, this is essentially a pared-down collection of pieces you love that work well together.  This is always my aim.

I keep a Goodwill box ready downstairs to easily toss items I’ve always hated or which are heavily stained.

When we’re done with certain pieces, putting away by season is a LOT easier.  Stuff little shorts in the summer bag and be done!

We’re down to 3 dresser drawers per kid.  When they’re crowded, it means some items need to find their way back to tubs.  But I keep a small space for off-season just-in-case items.  In summer: a pair of jeans and a cardigan; in winter: 1-2 t-shirts and a pair of good general-use shorts.

Keep what you NEED and WANT and leave the rest in the tub.

We DO buy shoes.  Once our kids start kindergarten, shoes seem to self-destruct on their little feet.

You’ll have to make adjustments depending on your climate.  (Texans don’t generally need a lot of winter wear, but we need months worth of clothes to handle snow on the ground.)

We’ve gotten a number of beautiful and precious dresses from people, but our girls only wear them to weddings or other special occasions.  So they stay in the tubs in the basement and I get them out when necessary.

Those t-shirts kids get from sports and activities that don’t really fit?  Unless school or the activity tell them to wear them, my kids won’t, so they’re one of the first things to go.  Surely, you have some category like this that is plaguing your dressers.  Toss ’em as soon as you can!




The 1 Parenting Car Hack That You Need Now


This isn’t really for traveling.  This is for any car trip ever.  Once this saves your bacon (like it has mine and I’ve only used it for one trip), you will never be the same.  Are you ready to be amazed?


For each kid in your vehicle who is old enough and capable, give them a gallon storage bag.  They can tuck it into their carseat or the pocket in front of them–anywhere within reach.   Now the next time they say, “Oh, I don’t feel good…,” instead of panicking or pulling over (or not and reaping the consequences), you just say, “Get your bag ready, but try NOT to throw up!”

At the most, it will cost you $0.10 for the bag.  The last time a kid threw up in the car, we were out of town and ended up stopping at a store and buying trash bags and cleaner, costing around $15, so this is DEFINITELY worth it!


Store baby clothes like never before

We’re having another baby. And we’re out of room. Like lots of families, the first several weeks of newborn-ness are spent with baby in our room. So while thinking about how to facilitate this a few weeks ago, I was pinning away and came across all these pins about using shoe organizers for snacks and other stuff and I thought, “maybe that would work for baby clothes!”  So $10 later, I’m optimistic!



  • It really limits you and encourages minimalism
  • I got an entire laundry basket of clothes in here and had 3-4 pockets empty still (I need to add hats, socks, and burp cloths)
  • It doesn’t require any different kind of folding
  • There will be zero barriers to customization–anything will be able to go anywhere and we can move item to different pockets in a snap
  • When we’re done with this stage, it’ll be really easy to repurpose the organizer
What do I have in here?
  • 3-4 “outfit” onesies
  • 6 pairs of pants (all 6 in one pocket was no problem)
  • 2 jackets
  • 15 sleepers (2 fit in each pocket nicely)
  • 4 longsleeved onesie/matching pants combos
  • ~8 short-sleeved onesies
  • a swaddler (I have 3 more to add since these are CRUCIAL!)
  • a couple newborn diapers that I found hiding on my changing table from last baby
  • a new pack of wipes (it didn’t really fit, it was CRAMMED in there, but maybe a partial or a travel pack?)

I’m entirely certain that I can add 8 pairs of socks and 2-3 hats in one pocket, neither of those particular baby item do we use very much.  We really just stick to sleepers.  And I will probably get rid of 4 more sleepers to free up 2 more pockets for burp clothes or more swaddlers since with doing 3 loads of kid laundry each week, we should be fine with 10 sleepers.  And realistically, with her being a November baby, I won’t need the warm-weather “outfit” onesies (maybe I’ll just take a picture of her in them and then put them away!)

Everything’s OK


I think in a lot of ways, we’ve all been over-complicating things a little bit.

We look at the mess with despair.  We break up another fight and we wonder why they’re not GETTING IT.  We infrequently get to have a real conversation with our spouse and we feel that distance.  We want to spend more time with all the people we like, but logistically, it’s just problematic with schedules, naps, tantrums, and dinner to make.  Are your kids happy?  Are they going to get into a good college?  How in the world will you pay for that?  How in the world will you pay for it if your van breaks down or your water heater craps out?  How could you possibly cram another kid into the mix and potty train the one who is so obviously ready?

Can I encourage you for one wee little minute?

Everything is going to be OK.

You’re nailing it.  You’re crushing it.  Don’t worry about the pile of laundry.  Start a load when you finish reading this.  Your kids are happy.  They’re fed.  They’re learning social skills because you’re teaching them.  Text your friend that you’ve been thinking about her, that you miss her.  Unload the dishwasher.  Realize that things ARE NOT going to be perfect and that’s OK.  You’re not perfect.  Anyone who expects that is ridiculous.  God made you and sustains your literal breath all day long and he knows you’re not perfect and that you’re struggling.  That’s why he sent Jesus.  So look at your kid.  Smile at her.  Tell her you love her.  Figure out what you’re going to have for lunch.  Do your day the best you can.  Pray for help in the midst of hard moments.  (A simple “Help!” under your breath is more than sufficient.  Then thank God for his grace in that moment that you recognize you need help and go from there.  What does a grace-filled response look like in that moment?  Clean up the urine or the milk.  Hug the crying kid.  Respond sweetly like you’d need if you forgot to do that thing that someone really needed.)

We all need perspective.

It feels hard.  That’s OK.  Just because we don’t have to walk 3 miles every day to get water for our family doesn’t mean it’s not hard when someone cries through every single meal for a week straight.  Yes, it’s a first-world problem, but it’s still a problem.  Work to fix it.  Train through it.  Take a breath.  Most of us don’t worry about being sex-trafficked or watching our child perish from a curable disease or being under constant threat of war.  We don’t worry about IF we’ll have food, but what combo will cause the fewest fits.  And then we worry that our kids are growing up too entitled and we lob a comment at them about other kids not having enough food EVER.  This world is wrecked.  But Jesus is also making it new, so all is not lost.  Be the change in your day.  If you’ve been in a funk today, in your brain list 5 things you’re grateful for.  Then hug your kids until they wriggle away.  Cover their faces in kisses until you’re both giggling.

We don’t get to decide all the things that happen, but we do get to decide how we respond to them.  Make sure you’re not making it worse for yourself and the people you love.

Keep your priorities straight.  Put away your phone.  Read a stack of books to your kid.  Do you know why old people keep telling you it’s going to go by fast?  Because it is.  And they wish they got to be around little kids more.  So we need the constant reminder to savor our littles.  But sometimes we need breaks from them.  Because little kids get clingy and needy and annoying.  Usually at the worst times.  I make dinner multiple nights each week while someone cries.

Keep doing the things that are working for you.  Think about the things that are a hot mess and see if you can come up with a better way.  I’m awesome at practical solutions.  Comment about what’s not working and we’ll work on it together.  Use the internet to make your life better.  I wasn’t planning on doing this, but I want to help you because there are some ways I can and I often need help, too, so here are some free tools:

  • Disheroo.com is a free meal planning site that I built and run.  It has a standard plan, but you can customize it however you want.  Adding your own meals is a snap.
  • OneLineWord.com is a free Bible reading tool that I also built and run.  I built it to make reading your Bible convenient while working out, but it works just as well while eating a bagel and drinking coffee.

First Day Props


The first day of school is this week in our town.  Fellow parents, one of the least important decisions you have to make is whether or not you’re going to use a prop or not (DO take a picture though, it’s a rite of passage).

If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve no doubt noticed that it is rife with wildly-creative prop ideas. The last 2 years, I’ve worked really hard on the girls’ signs and ALWAYS regretted it.  Sure they’re cute, but they stressed me out and I wished I’d done something simpler that took WAY less time.  So make a choice you WON’T regret.

5 Prop Ideas (Easiest to hardest):

  • Get a blank piece of paper, white or colored according to what you have.  DO NOT GO TO THE STORE TO BUY PAPER.  Draw a big number of what grade your kid is going into.  Maybe write the year (2016).  Maybe let them decorate with stickers.  Kids like their names being on stuff, so write their name on it, too.
  • Let them make their own signs on construction paper or cardboard.  Help them with the parts they can’t accomplish on their own.  It’ll be a fun task for them to help with that’s FOR THEM and something THEY can do to prepare for school.
  • Use an existing chalkboard or white board you have laying around
  • Cut a cardboard box into a square or rectangle.  Cover it in pretty wrapping paper or foil.  Cut out a big number of grade in paper.  Outline it with glue/glitter.  Write kid’s name in glue/glitter.
  • Make a fancier sign from Pinterest: Google pinterest first day of school signs


How to End School Paper Clutter


If you kids aren’t school-aged, you don’t understand, but there is a DELUGE of paper that comes home with kids EVERY DAY.  (Or worse, if there’s a suspicious lack of papers, that means a TIDAL WAVE is coming as soon as your kids teacher discovers he or she has been cramming it all in a sad, sad desk at school.)

This 1 trick will cost you a whopping $0.20 per kid and save you endless frustration when dealing with school paper clutter.
  1. Buy 2 folders per kid
  2. Put 1 folder, labeled for the kid, in a place where he/she knows NOT to mess with it.  This is Mom’s folder of papers for the year.  Special stuff.  Sweet stuff.  Beautiful artwork.  Terrific grades.  Awards.  (I don’t even use the pockets, just place everything in chronologically.)
  3. Put 1 folder, labeled for the kid, in a place where he/she HAS ACCESS to it.  Bookshelf?  Desk?  Maybe even next to yours.  This folder is for your kid to put papers he/she wants to keep.  They are special to him.  (Even if they are only partially colored.)  When this folder is full, have her CLEAN IT OUT.  What papers do you not care about anymore?  Keep what’s important.  Make room for other stuff.

How this conversation goes on a daily basis as we process their folders:

Me: Ok, here’s your stack.  Either put it in your folder or the trash.

Kid: OK

(Kid sorts through stack)

Kid: Where’s [beautiful artwork or worksheet with amazing grade]?

Me: I put it in my folder of special things

(Kid beams ecstatically with pride)

The end.

Obvious teaching points:
  1. There are things to be proud of keep for special reasons.  Let’s celebrate those!
  2. We aren’t going to keep everything.  We don’t need to and it’s impractical to manage.
  3. It’s good to purge periodically.  For everyone of all ages.  Period.
  4. We can work in a system with finite space.  Let’s figure out how to accomplish a goal within a given set of parameters.
  5. We aren’t going to have HUGE amounts of paper floating through the house.  Because that’s awful!  (And my kids tend to start shredding paper if they’re left alone with it for any length of time!)

When trying to figure out this dilemma, I found a post that talked about keeping everything in a paper box and going through it all at the end of the year.  That is SO MUCH SPACE.  A box.  Holy cow, I have too many kids for that!  And talk about an excruciating chore to have at the end of the year when you’re sick of everything school-related!  No, thanks.  I have to go through the papers right away anyway in case there’s an urgent reminder from school (which happens frequently), so let’s toss the trash, save the precious and impressive in Mom’s folder, and let kiddo keep her 37th math worksheet in hers until she’s ready to toss it in 2 months.