How I Became A Human Vending Machine

How I Became A Human Vending Machine | thisgratefulmama.comOnce upon a time I began giving our kids snacks in the store – a welcome and needed diversion, providing extra time and distraction. And, a more pleasant shopping experience for all.

The goal of the store snack is time.

MORE time.

Now, I’m not saying my kids are unruly or unmanageable without snacks. Most of the time, they are great. I can count on one hand times our kids have melted in the store – with or without snacks. They know how to behave. But when it comes to kids, even with the best laid plans, melt-downs do sometimes happen so we need to be prepared to deal with them with grace and move on.

Every child, even the most pleasant child, has a time limit. That limit may vary but could be caused by boredom, hunger, fatigue or some unexpected issue. Whatever the looming threat may be, we’re always on the melt-down clock when running errands.

For us, snacks keep the peace while warding off the real and serious problem of the hangries.

Tick-tock.

At first, the kids slowly ate and talked while we shopped. It was really quite lovely. Foods that take time to chew are first on the list: carrot sticks, snap peas, apple slices, etc.

These bags of healthy goodness were a win-win – they ate without complaint, and stayed happy longer. Generally, appetites for lunch weren’t ruined, and if they were it was OK – they got the good stuff in first.

For a while – it was almost foolproof.

Gone were the days of running through the store at break-neck speeds tossing things in the cart to get in and out before the melt-down clock ran out.

Our pace was just right. Leisurely, even.

I seemed like a brilliant solution. And maybe it was

But the glory-days of snack shopping was limited to about one year. As the kids grew older, that shiny brilliance has faded.

It isn’t that snacks don’t work anymore. They do. But trips just aren’t leisurely anymore.

Snacks can be a slippery slope. If there’s one snack, why not another, and another?

We’re back on the clock – but now it’s the snack clock. Better get everything done before the snacks run out.

My now older children scarf down even the chewiest snack in 2.2 seconds. They don’t want to chat and eat, they just want the next snack. Fast. So they inhale them – I mean, do they even chew them? At dinner, the same foods would take FOR-EV-ER.

Bottomless pits, I tell you.

I delay the next snack by requiring that we find a garbage to get rid of our trash first. It’s kind of a game, but more so just a tool for getting a few minutes between snacks. You can find us easily, my kids are the ones shouting at the top of their lungs – mom, I see a garbage!

Hooray (note sarcasm)...now you can have more snacks.

It seems that the store snack solution has slowly made me into a real-life human vending machine. For the payment of quiet, happy children, I fork over snacks while I get my workout pushing a cart loaded with 3 children and all our stuff at record speed.

It’s a mad dash, but, generally still a pleasant one.

Now that the kids are older, snacks still include healthy veggies and fruit. To try and slow the bigger kids down, they get beef jerky, raisins, roasted chickpeas or sunflower seeds (no shell), and mini bagels. The chewier, the better.

As you may assume from that list, sometimes snacks become lunch. It isn’t ideal, but does work out well if you need to do a lot of errands in a row. 

Plus, returning home and immediately plopping them in their rooms for a rest still feels somewhat shiny and brilliant. Unloading groceries in peace is a gift.

Don’t tell my kids, but I may also keep a bag Dum-Dums in my purse for emergencies (ahem – when snacks run out). IF the kids were good the whole trip, they just might get one.

I’m not above bribing them.

But one could argue that giving kids snacks in the store is bribery – I prefer to use the word incentives. 

Although snacks no longer provide a luxurious shopping experience, they are still effective in making our errands happier on a regular basis – and for that I’m grateful.

The human vending machine – yep, that’s me. Or perhaps more like the genie from Aladdin – Poof, what do you need?

Either way, I’m OK with it.

How do YOU feel about snacks in the store? 

How I Became A Human Vending Machine | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy New Year! {And Top 10 Posts of 2015}

Happy New Year | thisgratefulmama.com

Happy New Year!

I am so grateful for all of you. May God bless you richly in 2016.

Lets ring in the New Year with a countdown of the top 10 posts from 2015.

 

Top 10 Posts of 2015

10. A Couples Wedding Shower

9. It Takes a Village {to Raise a Child With Food Allergies}…And This One’s Fantastic

8. I Chose To Stay Home With My Children – Not To Throw Away My Career

7. ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Birthday – DIY ‘You Are My Sunshine’ Photo Birthday Banner

6. A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate

5. 25 DOs and DON’Ts for Travel With Small Children

4. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Experience Navigating Reflux Treatment

3. DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors

2. The thisgratefulmama 2015 Twin Cities Summer Bucket-List (70+ Toddler & Preschooler-Friendly Places To Visit)

1.  Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries

11 ThisGratefulMama Confessions

1. I covet one-on-one time with each child

In the morning, I run in to our daughter’s room, change her diaper and whisk her back to my room before she can make a ruckus. I cherish those morning snuggles.  Sometimes if our son is awake, I do it anyway. In the afternoon our son takes a ‘rest’ while our daughter sleeps. We sneak our time alone in the afternoon. These moments are sweet, restoring, and special.

2. I will do almost anything to hear our children laugh

A child’s laugh is like crack and I’m an addict. I will do anything to get just one more laugh – act silly, tickle them until they pee, you name it. I love the way their laughs make me laugh. Every. Single. Time.

3. Thunder isn’t fun anymore

I love loud thunder that startles and falling asleep to the sound of pouring rain. The problem is, there is little sleep in our house if there is any indication of thunder. Our son has struggled with fear of storms since we got 2-3 inch hail a couple of years ago (understandable – it sounded like the sky was falling).  I can not sleep on his twin waterproof mattress with him so he ends up on a make-shift bed on our floor.

4. Date nights are much different

Before kids, date night had a much different meaning…a special event, a nice dinner, and getting all dressed up. Now, a date is quality time spent with my husband, in ANY location, at ANY time. Dates require a little more creativity and either require a baby-sitter or scheduling around the kids. Many of our dates have changed from nighttime activities to coffee and lunch dates. Sometimes worshipping in church, holding hands while the kids are in Sunday School feels like our little Sunday morning ‘date’. Or, after kids are in bed, a candle-lit dinner, Netflix movie night or game of Scrabble. I’m just happy to have time with my hubby, no matter the circumstance.

5. Pinterest is seriously distracting

I. Cant. Stop. Seriously, follow me, you’ll see.

6. Changing diapers is easier than potty training

Diapers are gross. Our son is pretty much done potty training except for the occasional nighttime accident. I am NOT ready to start with our daughter although I think she could do it. I’m just not ready to return to tear-inducing potty reminders, waking up in the night to take a trip to the potty, or to have to pull over for an emergency bathroom break. SOME days I wish we could stay in diapers forever – accidents are even grosser than diapers.

7. I admire working moms

I worked outside the home when our son was a baby. Getting out the door on time and getting all the proper supplies to daycare with a child was NOT easy. Leaving a crying child in the arms of a caregiver and going to work wasn’t easy either. Working all day, running errands, picking up a child and trying to get dinner on the table so we didn’t starve was HARD! And the laundry…putting laundry in after work and remembering to move it to the dryer…is the reason we had a monster laundry pile to get through every weekend. If you are a working mom, YOU. ARE. AMAZING. You are a great mom and I salute you!

8. My house will never be as clean as I want

While I clean something different every day, I simply don’t have time to clean it all at once. This means the whole house is never really clean at the same time. Especially the floors. Our kids may eat off of them, but it’s not a good idea! Between the sandbox, crumbs, and tiny pieces of cut paper from our son’s crafts, our floors are dirty immediately after I mop, and potentially smeared with water, drool, or applesauce. The 10 second rule does not apply here – throw that away!

9. I still feel like I don’t have enough time

When working full-time, I was sure my morning time with the Lord, working out, and house cleaning would be easier when I could stay at home. Truth is, these kids keep me busy and I find the same time struggle as when I worked. Making these things priority takes effort and discipline I didn’t expect! I can get up early or my kids can play while I sit and pray, read or workout – I just have to be disciplined to do it!

10. I rely more on the Lord

Parenting is a humbling experience. It reveals my shortcomings in the mirrored responses and behavior of our children. I need grace, peace, patience, and wisdom more than I ever have. For them. For me. I am so grateful that the Lord is faithful to supply all we need. I rely on him daily (sometimes minute-by-minute) to supply what I lack and so desperately need in parenting and life. Without Him…this would be a true disaster. But WITH Him, I can do ALL things and trust that His mercies are new every morning, even when I fail.

11. This is the best job that ever was

Hands down, being a wife and mom is the best job I’ve ever had. I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Even if in demand all day long, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These kids make my day, every day. I am grateful for my husband’s hard work and dedication to make it possible for me to be here. No matter what happens during the day, I’d rather be paid in giggles than any other currency the world has to offer.

11 ThisGratefulMama Confessions | thisgratefulmama.com

 

Happy Birthday thisgratefulmama! (Top 15 Posts From Year One)

happy first birthday thisgratefulmama!

Somehow…it’s been a whole year.

And yet, I can’t believe it’s only been a year.

Admittedly, this began as a bit of an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to post regularly, nor was I sure if I’d have enough content. Ha! As it turns out, I have a lot to say. I realize that to those who have spent time here, the idea of me running out of things to say might be a little funny. Maybe even laughable.

Honestly, I just wasn’t sure about the whole thing. I wasn’t sure if I’d enjoy blogging long-term. I didn’t know if anyone would want to read it, or if this site could be at all unique among the millions of other blogs out there.

I perseverated over starting a blog for at least a year before finally taking the plunge. I am so grateful for the outlet this blog provides for me to process and share thoughts and ideas. Blogging brings an unexpected sense of purpose and direction. This may have started as a necessary and self-serving outlet to flush out ideas, but it has become much more than I expected or dreamed it would be.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy writing. I realize now how much I missed it – and have been surprised by how much I need it.

Every time I click the ‘Publish’ button, I find myself feeling refreshed and energized. I’d call it more of a ‘release’ button.

The publishing of my first post left me anxious, hopeful, excited, and giddy. In the first few weeks I was a stats junky…an addict (which is funny because no one knew the site existed). I was excited when just one person found the blog per day (or initially, per week). Imagine my joy when people not only visited the site but subscribed. I love taking time to check out readers blogs – you are writing some amazing and inspiring stuff!

It has been humbling and fun to see increasing traffic – growth happens sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but so far, the site is consistently growing. In fact, the number of visitors and page views in the first quarter of 2015 surpassed the traffic from 2014. I’m excited to see what year 2 will bring. Thank you.

During the past year, many of you have blessed me with your feedback. Some of you have written or spoken encouragement and kind words that have brought me to tears. Repeatedly. Thank you to all who have cheered me on and to those who have given both invaluable advice and constructive feedback. Your insight and support have been both impactful and treasured. I’ve been both surprised and honored by each of you who visit the site, and furthermore by those who use their precious time to read, reblog, share and comment.

This blog is pure joy to me, only amplified by each of you.

I hope you’ll keep reading and giving feedback, because I have no intention to stop writing.

The closing words from the very first post are still true today:

The name www.thisgratefulmama.com was chosen because it describes who I am striving to be, regardless of my circumstances. I certainly don’t have it all together, so what you’ll find here is a discussion of honest successes and failures, and hopefully some fun ideas. I hope you enjoy this blog and share your feedback with me.

To commemorate this first birthday, I compiled a list of the top 15 posts you visited over the last 12 months, in descending order of page views.

I am grateful for each of you. Thank you.

Top 15 Posts from thisgratefulmama – Year 1:

  1. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Thank You For Answering My Food Allergy “20 Questions” Before We Get Together
  2. A Laid-back Open House Couples Shower – soon to overtake #1
  3. I am THAT Allergy Mama: Something Good HAS To Come From All Of This…6 Beneficial Life-Skills Our Kids CAN Develop As A Result Of Having A Food Allergy
  4. Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – Our Search For An Answer To Our Baby’s Cries
  5. DIY Painted Console Table: How to Update Furniture with Spray Paint
  6. Thoughts on Christian Persecution in Iraq – Please Pray for the Persecuted
  7. DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign
  8. I Chose To Stay Home With My Children – Not To Throw Away My Career
  9. DIY Dinosaur Tails, Dinosaur Spike Party Hats and Favors
  10. 7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown
  11. To the Busy Mom: 10 Reasons to Take Better Care of YOU in 2015
  12. Update Furniture You Already Own: DIY Spray Painted Bar Stools
  13. 6 Truths For A Mama-Attitude Adjustment When Our Work Feels Unnoticed
  14. A Salute to Working Moms
  15. Impatient for Patience

Why thisgratefulmama?

When I asked my husband if he would object to me buying a domain name to start a blog, he was surprised, but supportive. He asked what I was going to write about.

Good question.

He was probably more surprised at my flustered and sassy “I have things to say” answer. A good man, he gave me an amused look at my substandard answer.

In June of 2013, I left my job to stay home with my now 1 and 3 year old children. The transition has been an adventure.  I’ll save details of that for another day and just say that staying home IS what I want but there are some things from working that I miss. One of those things is the uninterrupted conversation or thought.

I am blessed to have my husband, family and other mom-friends. I could not do this without them. Although I see other adults often, my focus is on my kids when I am with them (pretty much always), so my conversations are just not as in depth as they used to be and both thoughts and conversations are often interrupted and unfinished. When my husband gets home, I don’t want to bombard him with ALL the unfinished things I have in my head.  Talk about information overload!

All those unfinished ideas need a place to be flushed out.

One of the great things about writing is that even if I get interrupted, the ideas are there and I can come back to them later.  When my husband travels, instead of sitting on my couch wasting time watching garbage TV and eating snacks I don’t need, this blog is a better use of time and an avenue to complete my thoughts.  Even in planning to blog, I have been somewhat incomplete. Notes and ideas jotted down, in random places… Step one, organize scattered ideas and figure out what this blog is about!

Here are the main topics you’ll find from thisgratefulmama:

  • Practice Gratitude: concerted efforts to be grateful in the moment and with what I already have (this is not something that comes natural to me)
  • I’m a Work in Progress: trying to be a better at-home wife and mom,  and to deepen my relationship with the Lord
  • Parenting: what my kids are teaching me, and what I’m trying to teach them (including failures because that is just the truth)
  • Joyful Hosting: ideas for hosting gatherings to make things fun but simple to help ensure serving friends and family is joyful, not stressful
  • DIY: a place to show progress on the long list of projects I hope to start this summer

The name www.thisgratefulmama.com was chosen because it describes who I am striving to be, regardless of my circumstances. I certainly don’t have it all together, so what you’ll find here is a discussion of honest successes and failures, and hopefully some fun ideas. I hope you enjoy this blog and share your feedback with me.

Welcome.

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