Tag Archives: parenting

a dozen things i’d tell my younger self

14 Oct
Ronald and me, circa 2010, Thailand

Thailand, 2008

1. Go ahead. Hang up on those telemarketers.

2. Don’t sweat the mess. Keeping a tidy house is not how you want to be spending you time, trust me. Did someone see it? Don’t sweat that either. IT’S FINE. So you’re not going to be remembered for how orderly you were. So what?

3. The world is a wildly confusing place. Form your opinions, but don’t expect to be right all the time.

4. Don’t rush your plans. Think slowly and carefully about where you’re going with your life. At the same time…

5. Make decisions! Yeah, you’re going to make bad ones, but picking a path and walking down it is better than being in limbo all the time.

6. Mistakes are great. Mistakes are the best teachers.

7. Rejection will help to refine your art and transform you into a badass. Don’t shy away from it.

8. Let the kids flip the pancakes, even though they suck at it.

9. Wake up early. You actually like it. No joke.

10. This is not a perfect little world so drop the perfect little facade. Things getting real? Well, get real with them. Don’t be embarrassed for you or anyone else. You’re not putting on a play. Besides, if you were putting on a play then you’d need all of that emotional and awkward¬† and messed up stuff or else it’d just be boring.

11. Don’t take yourself too seriously.

12. Persistence is key. Forget about easy. Easy gets you nothing.

Anyone else feeling any of these? I missed a lot. Anything you would add?



oh, baby – it’s time to slow down

31 Mar

I had a baby 12 days ago, and today is my husband’s first day back at work. This means several things:

  • I’m wildly in love with a new, little person.
  • My kids are doing significantly less math.
  • My home is a mess.

I’m completely fine with these three things. Look at this face and try and tell me that a sink full of dishes is a big deal…

IMGP0096 (2) IMGP0141 (3)

This is Adelveiss Leigh Burns. Her first name is inspired by the edelweiss flower and is the result of me watching The Sound of Music during early pregnancy. This, of course, is her song:

Her middle name is also my mother’s middle name. A beautiful name now shared by two beautiful ladies ūüôā

I want my babies to slow me down, slow me way down, and Adel has been doing just that. The determined writer who spent the winter waking up at 5:30 and milked each hour of the day for more writing time is now in hibernation, replaced by a mama bear more interested in the quality of her milk supply than the number of her word count. I’m catching up on reading and going over flawed story aspects as well as potential fixes, but they circle in the far back of my mind, and I only let my attention drift there when all else has gone quiet.

Wake up time has been moved to 9 AM, the to-do list has been abandoned, and my expectations have been… significantly adjusted.

Here is all I want out of today:

  • Make some food
  • Make homemade play dough with the “big” kids
  • Love my family and myself well
  • Bless God

Dishes and toilets and word counts don’t make the list; they will soon enough because babies grow too quickly, but not yet.




productivity & perspective

7 Mar


If¬†someone had stopped by my house two days ago at around three o’clock in the afternoon, it would have been easy for them to make a few unsavory judgments about me.

I was still in my pajamas, the sink behind me was full of dirty dishes, and I had a towel slung over my arm because I was just heading into the bathroom to take my shower.

Again, this was at three in the afternoon.

Here are some of the things that could have gone through their mind:

“She’s lazy.”

“Lucky stay-at-home moms.”

“Gee, I wonder when she finally rolled out of bed…”

“I wish I didn’t have a job and responsibilities to show up for every day.”

“Doesn’t she want to do anything with her life?”

They would have had quite a bit of evidence at their disposal for making those kinds of judgments too, but they’d still be lacking one important thing: Perspective.

Two days ago, come three in the afternoon, I was overjoyed with all I had accomplished. I’d been on¬† a consistent diet of 5:30 wake-ups for awhile, but that particular morning saw me up at 5:00. I had a hefty list of edits to make on¬†my middle grade novel and a plan to get the story polished for literary agents. Long before the sun came up in the sky, I was at my kitchen table giving all I had in the form of a Word document. I worked until the kids woke up at 8:00 and paused long enough to¬†get them ready for the day and fed. When they went off to play, I¬†hit my¬†edits even harder until it was time for the kids and I to get busy with their¬†homeschool work. I cleared my computer and my mountains of notes¬†off of the table, and we¬†pulled out their papers and books.¬†Letters, math, reading, and endless questions – we made a time of it, and soon we were clearing the table off again.¬†I whipped together some grub for lunch, we ate, I cleared the table again, and, when the kids were settled in front of a movie, I got back to my novel. I worked until three o’clock,¬†seven hours¬†at my keyboard spent fixing, figuring,¬†writing, and rewriting.

The kid’s movie was over and they¬†were hungry for snack. Half in a daze, I got them food and told them how proud I was that they had been so good for me and let me get so much accomplished. Then I told them that I required a shower if I was going to be able to get my mind straight¬†and have¬†fun with them for the rest of the day. I took a shower, beaming and blushing with how close I was to my goal of querying agents, and got dressed.

Then it hit me: it was 3:30 before I’d gotten¬†dressed.

Wouldn’t it be so easy for someone to assume I’d done little to nothing with my day had they only seen pieces of evidence with none of the perspective?

I’m a writer and a mom. Work for people like me looks a bit… odd. Productivity is difficult,¬†when even possible, to measure.

As a writer, I can announce that I wrote 5,000 words in a single day, but only my fellow writers are going to see that number for what it’s worth. And there are many more days when I go backwards in word count, editing the heck out of my manuscript,¬†yet those days¬†are often just as productive and necessary.

As a mom, there are days when just keeping the kids fed and attended to is all I can manage. You moms with your teething babies know what I’m talking about. And if¬†I take a much needed¬†day to clean, organize, and revamp the basement, it might look amazing down there¬†come 5:30, but the rest of the house is going to be in shambles and dinner is going to be a frozen pizza. And the neighbor will likely stop by and think I did nothing but scroll Facebook.

A farmer can bale X acres of hay, a teacher can go through so many lessons with so many kids, an IT guy can get his eight hours, and a mason can lay block for a whole basement.

But not all forms of work lend themselves to being measured this easily. And not all forms of work require pants.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, pajamas can be perfectly acceptable work attire.

Oh, and judging productivity accurately requires perspective. 


six-year-old wisdom

20 Mar

Today my six-year-old gave my four-year-old a piece of advice:

“Don’t be whiny. It wastes all our fun time together.”

I plan on using this advice on my husband just as soon as I can. I’ll also give him permission to use it right back at me when he needs to.

The four-year-old gets it from us.


like a five-year-old with dreadlocks

12 Feb

dreadlocksI’ve never been one to seek out the spotlight. If there’s a stage, I don’t want on it. Center of attention? No, thanks. I’ve never wanted to blend in, per say, but I like to keep to the outskirts. Out of view and out of the crowd. That’s where I feel the best.

This was the only thing that made me consider NOT dreading my hair. I love dreadlocks and always have, but I knew they’d make people look at me twice. In the end I decided I was going to have to get over it. Let people look. I wanted dreadlocks, dang it. And besides, I’m an adult. I can make my own choices, and if people don’t like them, well, they can deal with it by themselves, right? Right.

That’s when my five-year-old started begging for dreadlocks too.

Now, there are lots of things that draw attention. Like a 26 year old with dreadlocks. Then there are things that draw A LOT of attention. Like a five-year-old with dreadlocks.

“Sweetie,” I tried to tell her. “Dreadlocks are messy and fuzzy at first. They take a long time to mature. Wait until I get mine, and then you’ll see.”

She waited, and I put my dreadlocks in, backcombing my hair into a mess of knots. And with them sticking straight out from my head, just as frizzy as you please, she cried, “I love them, Mom! Please, can I get mine now?!”

At this point, I  started getting really nervous. Give my little girl dreadlocks? People would think I was a terrible mom! Kids might make fun of her, and old people might make rude comments.

“Honey,” I told her. “Most people don’t like dreadlocks. Some people might even say mean things to me because I have them. I really like them, and think they’re beautiful, but not everyone will.”

“I know, Mom,” she said. “I don’t care if people don’t like my dreadlocks. I like them!”

I thought about all the attention we would draw. I thought about the conversations people would surely have behind my back and the ones people might want to have face-to-face (or Facebook comment to Facebook comment, as it turns out). I ran over everything in my head a hundred times.

Then I thought about the things I’d heard women say for so long: “I just love pixies. If I were braver, I would get one.” “I’ve always wanted to dye my hair that color, but I’ve always been too afraid.” “That hair cut is awesome, but people will think I’m ___ if I do that.”

Here my little girl was wanting to be brave. She was wanting to go for what she loved even though I had warned her countless times that others might not like it. She was wanting to look to her own soul and not the judgements of others. She persisted… for a whole month.

So, I dreaded her hair.

She fell in love with those dreadlocks the moment I made them, the frizz and all.

As brave and beautiful as they come, she trekked off to church with us a few days later, me shaking in my boots behind her. I was so terrified that something would happen. Someone would say something and hurt her feelings. But Kadie didn’t have a fear in the world. She burst through the doors and quickly found her best friend.

“Gracie, I got dreadlocks! See? Do you like them? It’s okay if you don’t. I do!”

Gracie looked at Kadie’s hair for a few moments, not quite understanding, before a smile broke over her face. “I do like them!” she said.

At which point I nearly collapsed of relief.

People’s eyes linger on Kadie, but she doesn’t notice. She’s too brave for silly things like that. And I could not be more proud of my amazing daughter who truly does not care what others think of her crazy hair because she knows what she thinks about it.

She loves it.


conversations with dad

28 Sep

I’m having conversations with my Dad in my head. I think that’s a good sign he needs to call me when he has a few minutes so we can talk. What are we talking about? Writing.

You see, it’s my Dad’s fault that I’m like this. When I was little, he would sit on a chair by my bed and read me Hemingway before I fell asleep. Some nights, he’d bring in a pad of paper and a pen so we could write poetry together. When I wrote a story in 2nd grade about a magical orca, he read it with enthusiasm and went on about it like it had a Calldecott medal stamped on the front.

These days, he calls me up and we talk about what we’re writing or what we should be writing, what we’re reading and what we want to read, the highs, the lows, the brilliant bits, the challenges, our hopes and frustrations. It’s nice, because not many people you meet realize what it is to sit down and write. They think it sounds more like a hobby than actual work. They don’t get how torturous it is, and few people understand me when I say that sticking with my novel has been the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

But my Dad get’s it. So does our pal Hemingway…

I know, you non-writers think we’re being melodramatic. If that’s you, then I challenge you to NaNoWriMo this November. Finish that and we can talk about it again.

Anyway, that’s it, I guess. I need to get back to bleeding, and my Dad will be calling soon.


for all the sucky parents like me

13 Feb

It’s last week. I’m laying on the couch, mulling over the day in my head, feeling like a parental failure. I’m beating myself up. I feel like a boring mom. Gasp! A loser my kids wont want to spend time with. Why can’t I be more fun? Why am I always so distracted? So busy?

Then my amazing little girl spies me from the stairs and laughs, commenting that I should go to bed if I’m tired. As she turns to leave she blows me away. Her feet treading the worn wood, I hear her happy words:

“I’m so glad I’m four, because I’ll need you for a long time.”

Baby Child, your heart is so beautiful. I cherish you and all the time I get with you. Thank you for your kind words and for your sweet love.

I’ll be here as long as you need me.

And for all you parents out there, your child loves you, even when you suck.

That’s the truth.