Category Archives: Candid Kid-versations

The things kids say can be enlightening.

The Toy Free Summer Challenge- How to Jumpstart Imagination

At the moment it’s a gorgeous, sunny afternoon in Midtown Atlanta.  The windows are open and the fans are spinning with the sweet, peaceful drone that’s hypnotized me since I was a child.  To my left is a lovely iced coffee with stevia and coconut cream that Selah (9) made for me after she  folded a load of laundry.  The children’s bedroom is basically immaculate.  The TV is off and there is no one asking for batteries or chargers or to talk on the phone. In front of me are  my four children, a 4th grader, 2nd grader, kindergartener and 3 year old, all playing contentedly with a pile of construction paper and one pair of scissors. Yes, I mean together. Yes, I mean without fighting. No, they don’t have anything battery operated involved, especially with letters like DS, Xbox, Wii, I(enter your choice of pad, phone, touch)… It’s a moment of bliss. Something to be documented.  And it’s all because we made a commitment together as a family yesterday. We’re spending the summer without toys!!

Wait, let me explain,
Last week I had a moment where I lost my cool with the kids and threatened to take all of their toys away and give them to goodwill.  I say threatened because it was one of the few times that I really didn’t expect to go through with it all the way.  The poor crew was already in one room with 2 sets of bunks and hardly any toys…. Anyway, the story… Poor Selah and Jake asked me to go ahead and do it!  Now, if I were assuming adult motivations in my children, which we all often do, I would have gotten more angry. I would have yelled at them to not talk back, treated them poorly for the defiance they were clearly showing. Instead, I looked in their eyes and didn’t assume it was just defiance. Instead I asked them why they would say that and if it’s really how they feel.  To my surprise they were as serious as I was! They weren’t trying to trap me or call my bluff. They both agreed they would rather go without toys than have the constant stress and pressure of picking them up. So we sat down and talked about what that would mean for all of us. Lucas got involved. They all got excited… The idea of  the Toy Free Summer Challenge was born.
Also, we have been in a rut, so to speak, and I know other families get in them, too.  They play the same thing, they do the same thing and they fight over the same thing.  For our family, it’s always creative, but for yours it may not be. I’ve had friend ask me how I get my kids to play together. I’ll share some other tips on that later.  But for a lot of people, joining in the Toy Free Summer Challenge could really help jump start imaginations that have been going dormant amid a world of Ipad, Itouch… well, key word being I, I, I…right?  Let’s help them snap out of it!!  Get your kids creating!!

The goal is to get rid of anything that  creates mess, causes solidarity, destroys any community in your family and wreaks general  havoc in the house, so we can enjoy our moments better. Here are the rules for our family. Yours may be different.


  1. Things that are messy and doesn’t get put away on a regular basis.
  2. Anything that causes strife and gets fought over instead of shared and played with together.
  3. Things that don’t get played with, or we are tired of, but still takes up space.
  4. Anything that drives someone else in the family nuts.
  5. Anything that steals our peace, space or happy moments. (by fighting, excluding, hoarding…)
  6. Anything that makes noise, causes hyper-focus and ignoring of parents and/or siblings
  7. Extra blankets, cuddlies, stuffed animals, lovies… things that we can live without but cause clutter.
  8. Movies, handheld games, zone-out material other than books


  1. Games that require multiple players
  2. Smiles
  3. Things that require creativity, instead of direct it
  4. Hugs
  5. Things that we work with together on a regular basis without conflict.
  7. Smiles
  8. Things that have been consistently cared for and put away. (legos!)

So, it’s a work in progress, as anything like this is, but in this case it is the brainchild of a little boy and girl.  We’ll give them some time to perfect the process, shall we?

Feel free to do your own version of the Toy Free Summer Challenge and tell us about it!!  We’re so excited about creating this concept for a stress-free summer outside the box, by boxing things up!!!

Clear it out and find the space to move and breath, together…



Filed under Candid Kid-versations, Family, Purging Clutter, Uncategorized

Letting Her Be

I’m up at 2am.  I don’t know if I’m actually getting “sick” or if this is just food poisoning. All I know is that 2 sips of water is enough in my stomach to send me to the bathroom to puke.  And I’ve got it “running” out of me, too.  M.I.S.E.R.Y.

So I’m trying to distract myself, I thought I’d blog about Selah.  My big girl. My beauty.  She’s always been dramatic, in a good way. Not a little diva at all.  Well, ok. She can be that, too, at times.  But when I say dramatic I mean as in acting, and taking on characters.  Still at almost 8 years old she is constantly playing dress up, giving everyone characters..acting, acting, acting.

One day at 3 1/2 years old she came to me and said that when she is 10 she is going on Dr. Phil to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star to him.  I laughed and explained to her that is not what his show is for.  She persisted.  For about 5 years. Yeah. She’s still thinks that is going to happen. What bothers her mother is the idea that the only way it would work out is for a sympathy stunt if she gets cancer or something. Dr. Phil would love to milk that. Mommy? No.

When she was 4, we let her take dance for a year  and she was thrilled because she will be a star some day.  At 5 she asked for voice lessons for her birthday. We compromised and told her that we would start with piano.  For her 7th birthday this year she asked for acting lessons.  I looked into it. It looked expensive, time consuming and like a recipe for hanging out with a bunch of moms who I have NOTHING in common with and kids who I do NOT want influencing my daughter.  I came up with a compromise.  I didn’t have my first go at acting until I was 9, so if she persisted we would meet in the middle and go for acting at 8. And I got her some books on creative writing (which she also has a great knack for) and tried to paint the picture of how cool it would be to WRITE for films or TV, instead of just being an actor.  No go.

Oh, and the Dr. Phil thing?  I finally figured out that he did a show around that time on horrible stage moms, and she saw a clip from the commercial of a girl singing on the show.  She still thinks she can convince him somehow..

I feel like a bad mom. She’s made it very clear for years that she has an interest in this. It’s not that I’m straight out telling her no. I’ve never belittled her for the desire. I just don’t want her to do it.  Stage moms suck.  Rejection sucks. The odds of her getting anywhere with this are pretty slim, and going nowhere with it is still going to be a lot of work.  But I have to be honest that if she were showing this much interest in anything else I would have jumped on it a long time ago.  Dance, gymnastics, horses, writing, just about anything. Oh wait. Not cheerleading. I’ll take the acting over that, I guess.  Anything else I would be encouraging and supporting her. Why not this?

I don’t want her to get sucked into mainstream ideas about her body and her value as a woman.  I don’t want her to face the failures that are bound to happen. I’m not naive enough to think that I have the next Dakota Fanning of anything.  But she loved doing this, and I’m holding back on it because of my own issues.  It’s not like we’re going to make a career for a 7 year old.

She’ll be 8 next month. I’ve already settled on letting her take an acting workshop for her birthday, to see how she likes it.  I was ready to go from there.

But then this week a friend called me. Her husband is producing a short  for a Christian speaker and really wants to use Selah. I’m surprised at how quickly I jumped on it. I guess it’s an opportunity for her to experience a little, in a safe environment?  Also, when I saw the script it was clear that the small part is perfect for her.  So, I woke her up the next morning and asked her if she would like to do it. Did she ask about strangers?  Did she worry about being shy or stage-fright? Nope. That child popped up in bed and said?  “Wait, do you know the name of my character yet?”   Who thinks that way?  My daughter is fearless.  And her level of focus jumped way over what my first hurdles would have been.

She got out of bed, took her shower and I had her sit on the floor for a few quick “Headshots” to send the producer before going to school.  I sent the photos in, they have her height and size  and we’re set for call time on Monday.  She’s on cloud nine. I’m on the watch to see how this works out…. I have to let her be, well, HER.  Finding and encouraging who she is,  and at this point I have to acknowledge that this little desire in her heart is real. Cultivating her talents, not training her to mine.

And as a little side note, the Dave Ramsey groupie inside of me is fully aware that if this works out even in a small way, a few hundred dollars in a ROTH IRA for a 7 year old could end up suuuWWEEETTT when she’s retiring as an adult. Yeah, I know. I overthink things. But if she is earning her own $$ it is legit….  So if you’re reading this and have any advice, experience or tips to share on how to support her, I’m all ears or eyes. I mean, I’ll be reading your responses, right?

And now, I’ll go back to my time at the porcelain shrine of puking. Thanks for letting me blab about my girl for a break.  Bleck.






Filed under Candid Kid-versations

My Birthy Girl

I know it's a bad photo. It's a webcam.

I know it's a bad photo. It's a webcam.

Yes, my 7 year old is more educated than many American women on birth. Don’t believe me? Here’s the story she just told me, while I was doing the dishes. )(I stopped and had her come repeat it so I could type it up).

So, in Selah’s words:

“Mom, look at this baby boy!  He’s my second son. (holds up doll). He was born at home, but in my hospital room. I have one at my house, so that I can be comfortable because my back hurts.  Sometimes when I have to bend down to pick up chickens for dinner, my spinal cord snaps and I have to sleep in my hospital room because it’s so painful.  But my doctor came to our house for the birth, because we chose to stay home instead of going to a hospital.  And she is VERY supportive.  I usually like to have my babies in the water, because it’s so calm and it’s very comfortable. And waterbirths don’t hurt your vagina as much.   But this time I started to feel the pushes when I was on the bed and I didn’t have time to get in the pool. And the baby came out and once his head popped out I chose to reach down and pull the baby up on my skin so then he can feel me and know that his momma is home.  We waited to cut the cord because the doctor was helping someone else first. And it’s good for my baby’s blood to be out of the cord first.  I wrapped him around in a red blanket. I nurse him right when I was done.   And then I invited all of my friends over to show them my new baby for his birthday.”

Think she listens much? Maybe?

Also, I’m aware that the big pic of my eyes is cheesy. I’m playing with the header and just threw something up there to try. It’s not staying, but it was better than a picture of my nose hairs, so…..

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Don’t Call Your Father a Fairy!!

Gosh my dad thought he was so clever saying that whenever someone lost a tooth in our house!  Now, we are talking about a man who wore pink button-down dress shirts in the middle all through the 80’s and 90’s when it wasn’t quite as now.   He claimed that any man with 10 kids was man enough to pull off pink. And he did it pretty well. Often.

Selah lost her 3rd tooth last weekend.   We don’t say anything about a fairy, really. Never had to.  The first tooth she lost I just told her to put it under her pillow without explanation.  Our intention was to just do the dollar thing and let her think whatever, without comment from us.  The next morning she was amazed at the transformation of her tooth.

She simply believes that a tooth, when properly positioned under the ‘losers’ pillow, and when said ‘loser’ completes a FULL nights sleep without incident…such a tooth somehow turns into a dollar. Not is traded for, taken by some mystical being… but in actuality is completely transformed to American currency.  Ahhhh-mazing, isn’t it?

She stopped asking about the mechanics of the ‘change’ when I explained that Yes, adults do in fact know how it happens but from the moment we tell a child it will never ‘happen’ for that child again. Then she started asking how old she will be when she loses her last tooth so she can ask again. I told her 38 years old…

So, on Sunday morning I was up at 4am watching, re-watching this online tutorial and folding a poor tortured $1 bill into a beautiful little heart to really wow her this time. I mean, she worked HARD on this tooth. It was lose for 10 months. Yes, 10.   It took me about 30 minutes and I was back in bed at 5.  Just in time to rest for 30 minutes before the young one woke to nurse. Again.

Unfortunately, daughter was COMPLETELY unimpressed by the gorgeous fold. She didn’t even acknowledge it and when I asked her if she noticed anything special about her dollar all she could say was that it was crumpled and folded up a lot to fit in her silver ‘tooth’ box. Next time, I’m going back to sleep.

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Like a Rock

So, I wake up to Travis huffing around this morning.  Apparently the little guy had to pee and made quite a mess all over the floor, which is very uncommon. In fact, I can’t really think of any time he’s missed the pot before.  He’s been potty trained for over 2 years now. 

“Jacob, what happened?” I hear Travis asking a bit huffily as I’m searching for my robe to go lug my big ol self in there to help.  I can’t blame him.  Who wants to clean up pee first thing in the morning? The sacrifices of parenting on a lovely Saturday.
“I had to be, Papi, but I didn’t do it very well.”  Travis coughs as he tries not to giggle at how cute and forlorn the statement is made.
“Well, you’ve got to make sure you hold it down, son.”
“I did.”  Little man still sits to pee. He’s kinda short, and well, mom doesn’t really want the mess of trying to teach him to stand yet.  Call me selfish. It keeps my bathroom clean. Well, not today, but anyway…
Travis goes on about how ne needs to be careful and he shouldn’t something….still annoyed.
So I walk in, finally having found the robe and waddled down the hall.
“Trav, you KNOW what happened, and it’s not really his fault. Did you ASK him?” I have no problem being direct and matter-of-fact with our kids about their body parts, but I think my dear husband avoids it a bit.
“I asked him what happened.” A little bit defensive, there.
I turned to Jacob and, because it really is no big deal, it just hasn’t come up before (no pun intended…)
“Jacob, was your penis standing up when you tried to pee?”
“Yeah Mom!” In his little voice of wonder. “It was like a MOUNTAIN!”
After explaining that next time he should try to wait until it’s normal again before he pees, I will walk around all day with that “Like a rock!” car commercial running through my head.  Kids are great.

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Easter Story Cookies

Oh, and here’s our Easter Story Cookie RecipeDLTK’s Bible Activities for Kids
Easter Story Cookies

My neighbor gave me this recipe, but I found it by searcing, too.


To be made the evening before Easter

bullet 1cup whole pecans
bullet 1tsp vinegar
bullet 3 egg whites
bullet pinch salt
bullet 1 cup sugar
bullet zipper baggie
bullet wooden spoon
bullet tape
bullet Bible

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (this is important, don’t wait till you’re half done with the recipe!)Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces.  Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was Beaten by the Roman soldiers.  Read John 19:1-3.

Let each child smell the vinegar.  Put 1tsp vinegar into mixing bowl.  Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross, He was given vinegar to drink.  Read John 19:28-30.

Add egg whites to vinegar.  Eggs represent life.  Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life.  Read John 10:10-11.

Sprinkle a little salt into each child’s hand.  Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl.  Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus’ followers, and the bitterness of our own sin.  Read Luke 23:27.

So far, the ingredients are not very appetizing.  Add 1 cup sugar.

Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us.  He wants us to know and belong to Him.  Read Psalm 34:8 and John 3:16.

Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed.  Explain that the color white represents the purity in God’s eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus.  Read Isaiah 1:18 and John 3:1-3.

Fold in broken nuts.  Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet.  Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus’ body was laid.  Read Matthew 27:57-60.

 Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF.  Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door.  Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed.  Read Matthew 27:65-66.

GO TO BED!  Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight.  Jesus’ followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed.  Read John 16:20 and 22.

On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie.  Notice the cracked surface and take a bite.  The cookies are hollow!  On the first Easter, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.  Read Matthew 28:1-9.
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The Day of The Colonoscopy

Just got home and I’m totally spent.  It was a long day.  I wanted to let my mommas know that they were able to rule out any cysts or tumors. Not a polyp either.  His colon is inflamed and they took 2 biopsies that we will not get the results of until Friday.  So, at least the big scary stuff is off the list of options.   
Selah and Lucas spent the night at my in-laws house, a rare treat for them and us.  It’s amazing how well Jacob did with not being able to eat for 24 hours. He would ask for food but never fussed when we told him that he had to wait for the doctor to give him permission at the hospital. During mealtimes I sat and played with him so he got some special momma time.
He started out excited when we got to the hospital, but became uneasy when we were put in the room. We almost had a full on revolt when he recognized the gown from prior visits. He didn’t want that thing near him.  The’ goofy gas’ they gave him loosened him up pretty quickly.  We got a bit of a glimpse of what Jacob the Stoner would be like…
The took him from the room and we waited, and waited… I tried to knit. I turned on the TV. Finally I forced Travis to get off of his laptop and walk down to the cafe with me for a cup of coffee and a muffin. We hadn’t eaten, of course, since Jacob couldn’t.  I walked through the gift shop to laugh at a bunch of horrendous junk.  Who buys this stuff?
We were only back in the room for about 10 minutes before the brought him back.  Coming out of it was pretty traumatic for all of us.  He was kicking and screaming as if he didn’t even know we were there.  All I could think of is ‘This is what Jacob would be like if he was autistic”.  I’ve never heard him scream like that or have a fit like that.  I held him kicking and screaming for 20 minutes while he was still coming out. He doesn’t even remember it, but my arms are literally still sore from it for hours afterward. Finally the only thing that would calm him was to have the lights off while watching TV.  But the only thing that made it work was me talking in a constant, low voice while he watched ‘The Fox and The Hound”.  The second he didn’t hear my voice, he would start screaming and writhing again.  Eventually it all wore off and he was jut a little dizzy and off balance for the rest of the afternoon.
We let him choose to go to a restaurant after the hospital to get something to eat. Chickfila, of course. That’s a big treat around here.  It was so strange to be there, just Mom, Popi and Jake. He was loving it.
We drove up to get Selah and Lucas, about 45 minutes away, and spent the rest of the afternoon there.
By the time I got them all dressed and in bed I was so worn out.  I felt like I could use some goffy gas myself. For kicks here’s a video of him on the ‘goofy gas’ before he went in.


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