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Family, Friendship, Holidays, Life, Marriage, Motherhood

Happy in the Holidays, Even When it’s Hard

There has been quite a deafening silence on this site lately, and I promise there is a good reason. You see, I haven’t been well – and I don’t mean just physically, but emotionally and mentally as well.

At the beginning of August I had quite literally a complete meltdown. Many of the plates I was spinning came crashing down, and the thought of picking them all up at once was too overwhelming for me to bear. But little by little I’ve been able to sweep up the mess, wipe away the debris, and clear the air from the disaster that was this fall. And I can tell you that I DID NOT do this alone!! Faith, family, and friends carried me through this season, and I’ll be forever grateful.

With the holidays around the corner- Thanksgiving less than a week away and Christmas on its tail! – I’ve started to really wonder what kind of season we are going to have! Money is tight; like “I need a new belt because mine just bust through the last hole” tight. And patience is thin; like “I might burst into tears if I have to wait one more second for you to get out of this car” thin. A holly jolly Christmas doesn’t feel very feasible. And days of merry and bright seem like a pipe dream.

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But guess what? It is. And they’re not! Maybe this year will be the happiest Christmas of all! Maybe this year will finally teach me and my kids what it is to be thankful for all the things! Big and small. Mostly small. Because I’m terrible at overlooking the blessings and focusing on the big problems.

I’ve been thinking and speaking a lot about how thankfulness is something that I’m determined to implement every day, not just during a season of the year! Gratitude really does change your attitude! And I’ve recognized a difference in myself when I’m practicing being thankful, especially during this trying time in my family’s life!

If it helps you, to get a glimpse of what a focus shift looks like for me, I’ve provided just a few below.

 

Big Problem: Strapped Finances

HUGE Blessing: A gift card to take the kids to Chick-Fil-A

Big Problem: Thin Patience

HUGE Blessing: Seeing my children help one another with a task

Big Problem: Strained Relationships

HUGE Blessing: Waking up to a note on my bedside table or a text from a friend

Big Problem: Health Concerns

HUGE Blessing: Being able to get out of bed in the morning and happy to be here.

 

You see, there really is so much to be thankful for! God has been so faithful to provide what my family has needed when we needed it! And I know He will continue to carry me through situations and seasons that are ultimately for my good and for His glory! That’s a blessing to me, and it speaks peace to my soul during the “best time of the year”, even if it’s not. Even when it’s hard there’s cause to be happy during the holidays!

 

Mollie

 

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Life, Marriage, Religious

Me, Myself & Matrimony {Overcoming Selfishness in Marriage} Part II

Hey friends! I know it has been a century since I last wrote to you about this topic, but I’ve sort of taken a break from the heavier posts for my own sake. It’s just a lot. Ha!! That’s probably pretty selfish of me, (there I go again, being selfish- ugh), but I hope you’ll forgive me, and we can move forward on this journey together as I try to get back into the swing of bearing my soul to y’all in hopes that you are encouraged and challenged as I have been in recent months. So, here goes nothing!

If you missed my first post of this series here, or if it’s been a while since you read it, I encourage you to take a quick look. I just reread it myself, and boy was I convicted! I’m not kidding. I did that to myself! I have such a tendency to forget that marriage is a team and try to “get things done” on my own. I can tell you that it doesn’t usually end very well, and it often creates tension beyond just a single event or particular situation.

Tension, at least in my house, tends to fester. It breeds uncertainty, guilt, shame, resentment, and those things do not foster a healthy, thriving marriage! I’m here today to give some practical ways that we as spouses can support and love one another, starting with sacrificing our selfishness on the altar where it belongs!

#1 Be repentant. The first thing you absolutely must do when weeding out a selfish spirit is to repent. Ask the Lord for forgiveness and direction to show you the areas you have been acting on your own accord, for your own purposes. Then take those to your partner, and confess them! This will NOT be easy, but friends it is worth it! Repentance almost always leads to healing! Remember what I said about selfishness attacking unity? This is the opposite of that! The next step is to….

#2 Be honest. Admitting your selfishness takes pride out of the equation and opens your heart up to giving, and receiving, unconditional love to your spouse. When you sit down to repent of a selfish spirit, it’s really important to be honest about what has been pushing you to pursue selfish desires apart from your marriage. This MUST be done with love.

Timothy Keller writes, “Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.” (The Meaning of Marriage: Facing the Complexities of Commitment with the Wisdom of God)*

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This leads me to my next point:

#3 Be Committed. Be committed to walking through the pain of laying these things on the altar! It’s hard to change a habit of self-servitude! I know I personally find it much easier to stay where I’m at than to be repentant, honest, and committed to change something that, in my opinion, has appeared to serve me well- no matter what it is! But it’s not the marriage I signed up for. I didn’t vow to “do only those things I want to do” and “get what I can when I can” from my husband. No! I vowed to love and to cherish him, to walk through life WITH him! Not with myself. Ya hear what I’m saying?

#4 Be selfless. Duh. You’re probably going, “Isn’t what this whole post series is about?!” YES! But it bares repeating, often. In the same way it takes a series of selfish choices to drive a wedge in your marriage, it takes a series of selfless ones to mend your fences. Trust is not built overnight! If you haven’t read Gary Chapman’s bestselling book The Five Love Languages, I would encourage you to do so! Start by taking the Love Language Test- both you and your spouse- to better understand each others’ needs. You might go weak in the knees at the sight of a clean house (acts of service), but your spouse couldn’t care less about the clutter yet begs for a date night (quality time). It’s important to understand that the way you show, and receive, love may not match up – and that’s okay!

Being selfless means taking time to listen to and learn another’s hopes, dreams and desires. It means putting a priority on someone else, not at the expense of yourself but at the abundance of yourself! It doesn’t mean you have to be or do all the things. It just means that you’re intentional with using your gifts to bless your partner. To share yourself with them.

And finally,

#5 Be Gracious. It shouldn’t go without saying that there needs to be an extreme amount of grace toward yourself and toward your significant other in overcoming selfishness. This is absolutely essential, and it’s probably the hardest thing to implement. We want to see progress and change overnight (see above), and we are quick to judge when selfishness creeps back in. Y’all. “Old habits die hard.” Yours do too! So, have grace. Extend it. Accept it. And keep moving forward!

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All of these steps take time. They take prayer. And they take courage. They take stepping out in faith that God will redeem and restore the marriage He created for you. “What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.” These words are spoken at every wedding, and they articulate the power of the Lord working in and through your relationship. No one would accuse marriage of being easy, but then again nothing worth having ever is. And I find in myself that the largest force working against my marriage is ME! My selfishness. My pride. My brokenness.

Laying all these things at the altar and being repentant, honest, committed, selfless, and gracious is the best way I’ve found to mend what’s broken in my marriage. No matter what issue arises, whether it’s lack of communication, financial hardship, over-scheduling, or just being short-tempered, I keep re-thinking my first post on this topic, remembering that “marriage means you’re on a team that needs you.” My selfish spirit wants to fix “what’s wrong with him” in lieu of examining my own heart. But that’s just not being a team player! And it’s not the marriage that the Lord wants for us. Or for you!

I hope that today’s post has left you feeling encouraged, and not overwhelmed! Just know that the heart of this message is to say that everyone has a little self-examination and repentance to do. Everyone, left to their own devices, will chose self over others. That’s human nature. But God wants better for your relationships, and so do I! And the best way to show that to you is for me to share my own experiences, even if it means I embarrass myself in the process. Love you all!!

 

Mollie

 

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*Affiliate links above are provided for your convenience. I’m currently not an Amazon associate, therefore I do not receive any compensation for or commission from the sale of the books, or any other recommendations/ Amazon links provided in my posts. This is subject to change, and you will be informed if and when it does. Happy reading!

 

Dining, Family, Friendship, Life, Marriage

Dine Around Town: My Favorite Places to Eat, Drink, and be Merry in and around OKC

Hey y’all! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week! It’s been quite a busy one over here with VBS, meetings, play dates, and dinner guests. Whew. I’m tired just thinking back on it all! If you find yourself weary from the week and looking for a night out on the town (and by town I mean the OKC metro area), I’d like to give you some friendly advice: take a culinary tour with your significant other OR your besties “progressive dinner” style! Because I’m giving you all. the. scoop on my favorite places to go and what I get when I go there. You’re welcome. Shall we begin? (I’m already salivating…)

Pre-Game (Amuse Buche, if you will) 

If you find yourself in Edmond on a Thursday or Friday night, I highly recommend The Martini Lounge at 505 S. Boulevard. From 4:30-6:30 they have a free appetizer buffet with the purchase of a beverage. I’ll suggest, also, that you order a lemon basil gin gimlet (you can order it with vodka if you prefer) or a glass of Rombauer Red Zinfandel because it’s just like Heaven in a glass. The fact that I’m even sharing this information with you is proof of my undying love.

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The Patriarch is located at 9 E. Edwards St. in Edmond, OK

If you’re a beer drinker, I cannot recommend The Patriarch Craft Beer House & Lawn at 9 E. Edwards St. in downtown Edmond enough! So. Many. Taps. The staff is amazing, the atmosphere is awesome, and they also have a small selection of wine and cocktails so there’s now something for everyone! And there’s always a food truck serving up foodstuffs in case you gotta get something in that belly after a long day. A couple of other places for great beer that come to mind include RePUBlic in Classen Curve, and Oak & Ore in the Plaza District. Options, people!

 

If I’m already in the city, I love going to Side Car on 10th Street downtown – and now they have a new location in Chisholm Creek on Western & Memorial-  for a quick drink and some yummy charcuterie before dinner. Literally every cocktail is delicious, and I often just leave it to the bartender to surprise me. (My dear, sweet husband has rubbed off on me like that! We live on the edge.) Also, O Bar atop the Ambassador Hotel has “Wine Down Wednesday” with a featured glass of wine that only costs $5, and you can order food from the Viceroy Grille which resides on the first floor of the hotel. It’s all delicious!

Sticking with the downtown vibe, if you long for another era in time I IMPLORE YOU to visit R&J’s Supper Club and Lounge. It totally takes you back to the the 60s with its decor, its table settings, and its culinary offerings. Please, please, please order a Bees Knees (can you tell I like gun? Another husband-y rub-off) and for the love get yourself the mussels. Wine, butter, mussels, and French-freaking-Fries instead of toast points. I’m all about it, y’all.

Finally, if you’re not in Edmond and are kind of looking to stay out of the downtown scene, I would say that En Croute in Nichols Hills Plaza is where it’s at! The mushrooms and truffle on toast is what dreams are absolutely made of. Prepare for a light dinner if you go this route though. Consider yourself warned.

The Main Event

Okay, now that your mouth is officially watering (drool city over here!), let’s move on to the main course. Any and all of the aforementioned restaurants have wonderful culinary offerings, so if you must stay put or cannot pull yourself away, please don’t feel guilt about this. You’re in good hands! I’m simply saying that while you’re out, you might as well enjoy some more tastes of the town!

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Victoria’s is located at 327 White St. in Norman, OK

I’ll start south of the city. If you are in Norman (Boomer!), you absolutely must visit Victoria’s The Pasta Shop on White St. Oh my goodness, every-single-thing is to die for. The bread. Oh! The tortellini. MmHmmm! It’s literally the best Italian in the metro. No. Lie. I will happily drive 45 minutes for this business. Yes, yes I will.

Another gem in Norman is Scratch Kitchen & Cocktails at 132 W Main St. Aside from the fact that their brunch is AH-mazing, they have my 2 favorite things ever: crispy fried green tomatoes and decadent macaroni and cheese! I cannot, you guys. It’s sinful.

If you’re looking for an experience, a fancy date night out, or are celebrating a special event, please look no further than Broadway 10|Bar & Chophouse. Located at the corner of 10th and Broadway in Downtown OKC, it’s a pricey option, but WOW it’s so worth it! The sushi is wonderful, the pork chops are delectable, and there’s nothing better than their roasted Brussels sprouts. Absolutely nothing. Then there’s the dessert… but I’ll save that for later. Other wonderful places to celebrate a special occasion include The Metro Wine Bar & Bistro in Nichols Hills, The Ranch Steakhouse on Britton, The Jones Assembly, our newest eatery in the city, and Boulevard Steakhouse in Edmond. Each of these places has it’s own unique vibe, so do some research and plan your next splurge!

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Now, let’s get exotic. If you’re a fan of sushi, Oklahoma City has some seriously awesome options! Old and new alike, I’m gonna run through the list of my favorite places to order this Japanese delight! Number 1 on my list is Cafe Icon in Edmond at 311 S. Blackwelder. It’s the absolute greatest, in my opinion. The service is wonderful, and the quality of the fish is just incredible. My favorite rolls include the Firecracker, The Rebel, Double Crunch, and Tiger roll. Give me all the crunchy rolls! On the west side of Edmond, The Sushi Bar is a wonderful option too! You won’t be disappointed either way.

If you’re in the city, look no further than Sushi Neko, you guys! It’s been a staple on Western for as long as I can remember. My favorite rolls are the Atomic Tootsie and Red Canyon. Oh em gee. Be right back, I gotta get my sushi fix.

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Barrios is located at 1000 N. Hudson in OKC.

And finally, we cannot talk about dinner in this blessed city without discussing Mexican food. We just can’t do it. It would be blasphemy. You can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Mexican or Tex Mex restaurant in this town. Or any other town in this state, for that matter. Anyway, I’ll start with my most recent trip to Barrios Fine Mexican Dishes located at 1000 N. Hudson downtown. My absolute favorite thing besides the atmosphere and the avocado margarita is lobster and crab enchilada. I’ve heard that the tacos are also to die for, but I haven’t had personal experience with them!

 

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention a metro classic, Ted’s Cafe Escondido. With multiple locations, this place is a local favorite for sure!! The homemade tortillas cannot be beat. And you absolutely cannot order one bad thing off the menu. It’s all amazing, and you’ll leave with a stomach ache. So just accept it.

Oh!! And let’s not forget that we have a Chuy’s!! I’ve never been to the one at 760 N. Interstate Dr., but y’all don’t know what you’re missing if you’ve never been to Chuy’s. I will claim this Austin-born Tex Mex fave! They have a plethora of delicious options, including vegetarian-friendly tacos, enchiladas, burriots, etc. The last options I’ll recommend include Three Tequilas in Edmond, Cultivar in Downtown OKC, and the many Fuzzy’s Tacos locations around the metro – that queso, though. Muy Bien!!!!

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The Wedge Pizzeria is located at 4709 N. Western in OKC

I want to quickly make some nods to local pizzerias and burger joints that I just love! If you’re looking for some good ol’ fashioned pizza without frills or fuss, hit up any of the local Hideaway Pizza locations. And for the love, order the fried mushrooms while you’re at it! I like my pizzas straight out of a wood burning oven, so when I’m in the mood for some pie I hit up Hall’s Pizza Kitchen on 1004 N. Hudson for The Samwise (trust me), Pizzeria Gusto on N. Walker for the Butternut Squash and pizza, or The Wedge on Western for The Napoli. You honestly just cannot go wrong with any of these excellent pizzerias. You just can’t. They’re all amazing!

If a hunk of meat between a bun is your thing, don’t miss the opportunity to visit RePUBlic for their creative burgers served on a pretzel bun, and choose an accompanying delish side dish!! And if you like things a little funky, hit up S&B’s Burger Joint (multiple locations) for sliders and full burgers that are creative and crazy good!

Dessert

Is anyone else stuffed just thinking about the many cocktail, appetizer, and main course options mentioned already? Yeah, me too! But who in their right mind would pass up dessert?? Who, I say!? Not me. So real quick, I’m gonna share my most favorite desserts at my most favorite restaurants. Grab your spoon and  get that sweet tooth ready, cause here we go!

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Packard’s New American Kitchen

Number, absolute, ONE on my list is Packard’s New American Kitchen‘s donut bread pudding. You’re gonna see bread pudding on this list a couple times, so just deal with it. It’s served with coffee ice cream, so yeah, it goes there. Packard’s also has a rooftop bar, so you can take in the city views! It’s located on the corner of 10th and Robinson downtown.

Let’s just get the bread puddings out of the way. Cafe 501 in Edmond and Classen Curve serves up a delicious traditional dessert bread pudding with a bourbon butter sauce that is just heavenly! Ask for a scoop of vanilla ice cream while you’re at it, because it just takes it to that next level. Ya know what I mean, Jean?

If you’re a cheesecake fan and/or a créme brûleè then I’m going to say this one time: Broadway 10 (remember the pork chops and Brussels sprouts?) has brûleèd cheesecake. No, I’m not kidding! It is the absolute best thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. And I really, really, dislike cheesecake *please put your fork down and stop glaring at me*.

And since it hasn’t gotten any love yet, I’ll give a nod to Hefner Grill on Lake Hefner for their decadent key lime pie. Their brunch is awesome too, but we’re talking sweets so let’s just continue… It’s tart, and sweet, and the whipped cream is just AGH! I die. They have excellent views of the lake, so I really enjoy going here on a nice evening with a light breeze. (April 25th weather, you guys. Not too hot, not too cold.) Pie Junkie in The Plaza also has excellent key lime. Highly recommend that too!

If chocolate is your jam, I am not the blogger for you, since I really could live without any chocolate anything ever. BUT, La Baguette has some of the tastiest chocolate pastries I’ve ever had. I’d recommend the chocolate mouse. No, not mousse. Mouse. It’s adorable and delicious.

roxysFinally, I cannot write a post about foods and desserts without mentioning the ever beloved ice cream. Seriously. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest Roxy’s Ice Cream Social near you! Their ice cream AND what they do with it (hello there, ice cream sandwich on salted chocolate chip cookies) is just beyond. They have vegan options also, and they’re amazing…. Banana’s Foster I’m looking at you, baby!

But the best, THE BEST, ice cream dessert in this entire city, and probably in the entire state is found at Cheever’s Cafe on the corner of 23rd and Hudson. This ice cream ball is the most decadent dessert you can have, I’m just sure of it. It’s ice cream that’s rolled in spiced pecans and covered in chocolate and caramel sauces. You can order a full, half, or quarter size depending on how many you have in your party, or how hungry you are in general. My love of ice cream is solidified in this dessert. And I never miss an opportunity to partake in it’s creamy, crunchy, spicy, and sweet goodness.

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Whew! So there you have it… It’s been delight for me to walk you through some of my favorite progressive dinner options. I intentionally stayed away from *most* chain restaurants, even though I do have several favorites of those also. But my heart for this post was to show you just how many wonderful, local options there are in the city and surrounding suburbs for dinner! Lunch favorites and the ever-important brunch are a post for another day.

If you feel like I left some of your favorites out, I would love to know about them!! It would be impossible for me to list all the wonderful restaurants in the metro, so I know I’m not going to please everyone (or even myself) with my limited suggestions. Just know I did my very best! And I can’t wait to hear where you love to dine!

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*This post was not sponsored by any establishment mentioned. These are my opinions, my experiences, and my personal favorite places to dine when we can 1) get away from the kids and 2) afford the bill.

** The images you see of each restaurant have been taken off that business’s Facebook timeline. I stayed away from images of dining patrons for that reason.

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Surviving the Doctor’s Office with Littles

Earlier this week, I did something I swore I would never do: I took all three kids to the doctor for their well child checks at the same time! Like, who does that? Apparently only people who seriously have a death wish. My husband had a work engagement that he couldn’t get out of to help me, so I recruited the help of my dear mother – hi mom! – and we set off for the doctor’s office with bravery in our hearts.

I debated on what to title this post, and to be honest I don’t know that the one I chose does justice to our experience, but in the hopes that people would not be warded off by “The Peds Office with Three Kids: A Time Lapse of Misery”, I decided in favor of the less dramatic. 🙂 But be aware that the post you’re about to read is nothing short of hysterical (now) because only fools endeavor to take all the kids to the doctor at once. I’ll give you a glimpse of the TWO AND A HALF HOUR ordeal. So buckle up, grab a drink, and get ready to laugh your -youknowwhat- off.

The appointment was set for 10:45, and since we were visiting a new doctor in a new building, I loaded up my little people at 10:15 so that we could get there with plenty of time to find a parking spot, unload, find the office and get checked in. I woke the sleeping baby up at 10:13. Yeah. He was super happy about that.

My mom showed up at 10:14 to help me get everyone loaded. And off we went to the doctor’s office.

10:22- We arrive in the parking lot and find a spot at what seems to be a mile away. It was probably only 75 yards, but with three kids in the summer heat, with all the diapers, waters, and extras it’s a haul.

10:29- We make it into the building, where we are greeted by a HUGE table of cookies in the lobby. Of course everyone wants one, but being a health-conscious mama I say “not before lunch.” Cue the first meltdown. We haven’t made it 10 steps in and 2/3 of my kids are losing it. Losing it, I say!

10:34– Great! We are 10 minutes early, and everyone is crying. I get us checked in while my mom takes the two younger kids down the hall to look out the big glass windows. It entertains them for approximately .00075674 seconds. The oldest is still asking for the cookie I’ve said no to about 100 times now.

10:47– All checked in and ready to wait. Remember when I said our appointment was at 10:45? I didn’t realized that meant “check in and wait until….” *whip out the phone so my kids can watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood*. Mother of the year, right here! Technology #forthewin

10:49–  A little boy walks up to the check in desk with his mom holding a cookie. Oh em gee. I’m about to join my 4-year-old in his fit.

10:55– After all our efforts to keep the kids entertained, I finally give in and give the kids the freaking cookies. Because you know when you’ve been beaten.

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Kids + Cookies = Happiness

11:10– I’ve watched at least 3 families who showed up before us walk in to the office before us, and I’m starting to have a mini meltdown on the inside.

11:12– They finally call us back, and let me tell you this office know’s what’s up! All three of my kids had their own nurse to take their height, weight, head circumference, and BP. Literally it took no time at all. None. I breathed a sigh of relief.

11:15– “Okay, the doctor will be in shortly!” They said. Again, doctor’s office to the rescue they had a “shapes hid and seek” game that thoroughly enthralled the 2 and 4-year-olds. It was a blast, and they played “find the shapes” for at least 10 minutes.

11:26– Still no doctor, and hanger sets in. Daniel Tiger to the rescue again! I love that little feline.

11:32– Doctor walks in, and every child is running around everywhere. We attempt to have conversations about each one between the screaming, the jumping, the crying, the hitting, and the jabbering “Mommy, mommy, mommy!” It was fun. And God bless our pediatrician for her patience and tenderness toward 3 “over-it” kids.

11:52– Everyone’s been checked, cleared and the oldest and youngest are ready for their shots. Yay! Said no mom, ever. My sainted mother and I come up with a plan for the 4-year-old to get his shots first so he doesn’t get freaked out by the youngest’s experience, then she’ll take the 2 big kids and the keys to the car to get them loaded up and cooled off while the baby gets his shots. Game. On. Point.

12:08– The nurse comes in with all the shots, and I had to do what every mother hates, which is hold their child down while they get poked with needles. It was fun! Next! Baby gets his shots, we go over all the paperwork, and my ears start to bleed from the screaming.

12:23– Everyone’s loaded up. This 2 hour ordeal has everyone’s blood pressure up and energy low. So we go through the Chick-Fil-A drive through down the street and head home so that we can get nourishment and naps, for the love!

So there you have it. Two hours, three kids, five shots, and infinite levels of stress and all the tears. That’s taking three kids to the doctor at one time. I will say, I consider myself fortunate that no one vomited, passed out, or had a blow out! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow! And if  you’ve ever, and I mean ever, done this by yourself then you are a Super Human and you should get a medal.

I hope this doesn’t scare any of you from doing what is necessary- and sometimes that looks like taking all your kids to the doctor at one time. The whole point of this post is to be real, honest, and also encouraging. “Wow, real encouraging post, there Moll.” I know, I know. It might not seem like it, but my heart for this post is to show moms that sometimes surviving is thriving.

Sometimes doing really hard things like taking all the babies to the doctor, with or without help, is necessary and even beneficial! I learned my limits this time. And I probably won’t repeat this experience in the future! And that’s okay! If you can, do it! If you can’t, ask for help. You deserve credit for your efforts either way.

Just do the best you can, Mama! And if that means giving your kid a cookie before lunch, then I’m in no position to judge. Ever.

 

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Family, Home, Life, Motherhood

The Midsummer Slump, & What To Do About It

Raise your hand if you get excited for back-to-school commercials. I know I do! From the time I was a little girl all the way to being a teacher with my very own classroom, I have loved “back-to-school season”. The last two years I have been less than enthusiastic, however, because my little bitties don’t actually go to school, and therefore don’t actually need supplies. I feel like I’ve missed out on all the excitement.

When I was a teacher, I always gave myself the month of June “off” to relax and recoup from the previous school year. But the day after July 4th, man I was back in the classroom! Researching, writing lesson plans, and getting my classroom ready for the next set of bright-eyed and bushy-tailed little people that would walk through my classroom door in August!

Now as a stay-at-home-mom, the 4th of July doesn’t signal the “return to work” that it used to for me. The last few years as a parent, the 4th has been lackluster to say the least. Instead of parades, I am laying the baby down for his morning nap. Instead of fireworks, I am cursing the noise praying it doesn’t wake up a sleeping child. And instead of waking up on the 5th ready to get back into school-mode, I’m caught wondering if I should be doing that Pinterest activity with the kids I saw a couple of days ago or if I should just keep watching Kelly & Ryan.

If you’ve read my earlier posts, you’ll know that I don’t fancy myself a world-class SAHM. And summer is, I feel like, the most difficult season to be at home with little ones. I have visions of grandeur going into it, but alas my enthusiasm tends to fizzle, and I stick to what I know my kids will enjoy: cartoons, endless hours in the sandbox, playing with friends once or twice a week, and being served PB&J and veggie straws every day for lunch. These things pass the time, sure, but they leave me feeling like I’m failing my children in some way. It could just be my millennial sensitivities, given we are apparently all about overstimulating and over-scheduling our children. But there has to be a balance.

I have so many fond memories of my summers as a child. I lived in a cul-de-sac for several years, and those are some of the happiest times I can recall! Riding bikes, taking trips to museums, melting crayons on the concrete- living the life! I feel the pressure of those things for my children. I want for them the same happy memories that I have. But alas I find myself in a “summer slump”. And I’m trying to get over it by doing a few simple things.

1) Get out of the house. It takes a lot of energy to get little people dressed, packed up and out the door! But making the effort for an adventure is worth it. Even if that “adventure” is going through the drive through at Chick-Fil-A on the way to get a car wash. I’ve recently backed off of my ambition and willingness to get outside, so I’m going to make more of an effort to get out of the house at least for a little bit everyday- or every other day- for the remainder of the summer.

2) Find an acountabili-buddy. Ask a friend to help you make the effort to get out of the house and go somewhere together! The park and zoo can be fun destinations with friends in the morning when it’s cooler. And the neighborhood pool or a splash pad can keep your babes occupied in the afternoon. Find a crazy craft that you’d never have the guts to undertake by yourself and do it with friends! The kids will love the company, and you’ll have a partner to help you clean up the mess.Win-win.

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3) Make the most of free events! Lots of towns across the country do summer concert series, movies in the park, and have food truck festivals during the summer months. Find a few of these and go! Pack a picnic and some blankets and enjoy people watching and listening to music while your kiddos run around and enjoy themselves too!

 

4) Do mundane things in creative ways. Vacuuming, dishes, grocery shopping- all of these things have to get done. Why not spice them up a little bit? Involve your kids, even the littles, by having them race to see who can gather the most toys for the toy bin, and give them a prize! Time yourself when vacuuming or doing dishes and give yourself a “treat” (aka a cocktail) if you finish before the timer goes off! coffee-flower-reading-magazine

5) Set some time aside for yourself. Ask your partner, a family member, or a friend to watch your kids every once in a while to get out for some “me time”. Get a pedicure. Grab a coffee. Walk the aisles at Target. Whatever! Sometimes that’s all it takes to hit “reset” and come back to your family refreshed and ready for more summer fun!

Take some time in the next few days to think about the things that make summer so much fun with family and friends, then make it a priority to do them! I know I’m certainly excited to bring life back to my, and my kids’, summer!

What are some things you like to do with your kids during the summer? How do you get over the midsummer slump?

 

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Family, Friendship, Life, Religious

When Life Gives You Lemons: Walking Through Sour Seasons With Sweet People

I just love lemonade. It’s a little bit tart, it’s sweet, and I truly believe there’s nothing better on a hot day -or any day for that matter! It’s my beverage of choice next to La Croix or a crisp glass of Savignon Blanc. 😉 Why am I telling you this? Well, because I think we are friends now, and I believe you should know my favorite drinks. Just kidding.

I’ve only made lemonade from scratch one time. I was squeezing the lemons, completely forgetting about my day old paper cut. One of the lemons soaked into the cut, and it was pure misery. I managed to stop the stinging after running my finger under running water, letting it breathe, and wrapping the cut with a bandage. I thought to myself “Is this going to be worth it? Why am I going through the trouble of it all?” My roommate had just walked in the door, so I asked her to help me finish squeezing the lemons. And when we worked together, the result was sweet lemonade and a sweet memory!

A lot of life is like that! I’m serious. I could have saved myself a little misery had I just waited until my friend came home to begin squeezing lemons. The more personal account I’m about to give you is proof that when you let other people into your pain, the results will surprise you!

Recently, my family and I have hit a sour patch of lemons. The last 18 months have been a rough, rough road. Just a few months before the birth of our youngest child, my husband was laid off from his job in the oil & gas industry. I can’t say that it was complete shock, but it certainly laid the groundwork for future challenges we were not prepared for. Rather than find another corporate position in his field, we felt lead to pursue a life of self-employment. This meant no security, something I had never experienced. It meant longer hours, something I wasn’t prepared for. It meant strained finances and patience, something already in short supply.

With three young kids, no solid group of friends, and the stress of starting a new business, the first few months were miserable. Pure, sour lemon juice. We realized that we were making a mistake by not surrounding ourselves with a support group, a tribe of friends, that could walk with us on this journey. So we began to seek out a village, somewhere to belong, and by God’s grace we found one!

Early on, we opened up about our struggles. We shared our pain. We took the lemons we had and laid them on the table. And the response we received was so humbling and sweet. These new friends poured water on our wounds, let our hurts breathe, and wrapped us in affirming, loving, and truthful words. We received grace upon grace from almost strangers, and now they are some of the dearest friends we have.

Another blessing of sharing our burdens was witnessing others open up about theirs. It’s incredible to see how contagious vulnerability is! Our openness has given us opportunities: opportunities to serve, to share our story, and to stand up with those squeezing their own lemons. Our pain hasn’t been wasted. Our troubles have not been in vain. God gave us these lemons! Only He knows the results of their squeezing. But I am betting that the result will be the sweetest lemonade we’ve ever tasted.

Keeping this in mind, don’t squeeze your lemons alone. The Lord desires us to be in community, to “share each other’s burdens” (Gal 6:2). I promise it will be worth it!

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Who do you have to help you squeeze the lemons in your life?

 

Family, Home, Life, Marriage, Motherhood, Religious

Me, Myself & Matrimony {Overcoming Selfishness in Marriage} Part I

Hey y’all!! I’m finally back after a hiatus that seemed never-ending, thanks to some good-ol’ technical difficulties. I tell ya, I’m a little ashamed to call myself a millennial because I legit hate technology. I lose my patience so quickly, and I have a tendency to royally mess things up with no effort whatsoever. It’s really a skill; one that my husband bemoans on a regular basis. Anywho, in my absence some things have gone down. My three-almost-four-year-old finally potty trained, and I cannot tell you how good it feels to not have to buy an extra pack of diapers every week knowing they won’t do any good, because #blowouts. It feels like we got a sort-of raise now that we are only buying two packs of diapers instead of three. And this spring I’m determined to get Little Miss Middle out of Pampers and into panties. It’s going to happen. Also, my husband and I have started planning our anniversary trip in April. We will have been married for five years, but to be honest it feels more like 15. There have been so many major life changes, ups and downs, and in betweens that sometimes we look at each other and wonder how we aren’t dead already. He made the comment recently that it’s probably a good thing that we had our children as young as we did or we would die of exhaustion trying to keep up! And he’s right. It’s exhausting. It’s challenging. And if you’re not careful it can be a killer. A marriage-killer.

I have come across several articles in recent weeks about young families and the toll it takes on our marriages. Every word skipped right into my soul and planted seeds of hope that one day the dust will settle, things will slow down (maybe), and you’ll remember what it was all for. But in the meantime there are the frazzled days, sleepless nights, and sharp words spoken in haste to get moving onto the next thing. We all do this. We all have these seasons. And it’s so important to remember that you’re not alone! Other families are trudging through these trenches too. Find them. Find your people! (You’re probably thinking, really? She’s obsessed with her people. Yes, I am! They give me life!) Confess the hardships and heartaches with them. But most importantly, confess them to your spouse. Vulnerability begets intimacy. And this is KEY for your marriage.

Now, why am I writing a blog post about selfishness? Because I’m freaking selfish, and I need to preach to myself for a minute, okay? And I figured you probably needed to read what I have to say, too. So, shall we dive in to some hard truths? Awesome!!

The word selfish is defined as “being excessively or exclusively concerned with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others”. Now, many of us are not this way all the time, but I’ve caught myself being really concerned about my own wants and desires over those of my spouse a few too many times recently. And I can assure you he would say the same. And I’ve found that when I am being overly selfish and discontent, I’m not the nicest person to be around. I’m moody, short-tempered, and pretty unpleasant in general. Have you ever been around someone like this? It’s no fun, and usually you’re looking for the quickest way out! I know I do. And lately, I’ve wanted to get away from myself. How sad. This about the time that I start looking at my circumstances, evaluate my attitude, ask for forgiveness, and break out the gratitude journal- but we will come back to that later.

Marriage has a couple of definitions, one being that it is a binding legal contract between two persons, but my favorite is that it is a “intimate union”. Now, remember what I said about wanting to get away from selfish, moody people? Hmmm. These two definitions just can’t coexist. At the risk of sounding cheesy, there is no “I” in team. Marriage means you’re on a team that needs you. Your teammate relies on you to make choices and act in a way that benefits the unit! When you act selfishly, you not only violate the trust of your teammate, but you could very well compromise the outcome of the game. (That’s the end of my sports analogy, promise).

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“Marriage means you’re on a team that needs you.”
Marriage is such a treasure, you guys! What I so often fail to realize is that my selfishness affects not just my attitude, but my sweet husband’s as well. It torments our unity. It compromises our intimacy. And it puts the whole operation of marriage on pause. This is not only true for just your spouse, but your children too- if you have them. Kids know when there is division in the home. If that’s news to you, I’m glad you are here! To use another cliche “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”, selfishness sets a negative tone for the entire household. So next time you get to thinking, “I want this/that… I don’t have enough… I’m tired of…My spouse never/always does…” remember that what your thoughts become actions pretty quickly, and so take a second to ask God to give you a word, a thought, a verse, something to redirect your thoughts! Paul calls that taking our thoughts captive and calling them into obedience with Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). How many of us need to do that more often?! Yes! Me too!

If you’re battling a selfish spirit today, I encourage you to just send a text to your spouse telling them how much you appreciate them. Even if you don’t feel appreciative, even if you still think you should be getting more than you are, feeling more fulfilled than you are, or whatever, it doesn’t take 30 seconds to think of one thing your spouse has done right in the last week. Really. It could just change the mood of the day. And one day at a time is what it takes…

Y’all, I’ve got two babies that are crying in their cribs. I’ve been ignoring them for like ten minutes because I just had to get this out to you! It’s too important to walk away from. In Part II, and maybe III depending on how long-winded I get, I’ll be talking more about ways that we can practice putting selfishness aside for the sake of our marriage. I hope you’ll join me there!!

 

xo

 

Mollie

 

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For the Love of Jen Hatmaker

Earlier this week my girlfriends and I had the best experience! We got together and sat at the feet of one of the most influential, precious, honest, and loving teachers of all time. I’m talking about Jen Hatmaker! It was big. Some of you may be going, “I’ve heard that name, where have I heard that name!?” Well, she’s gotten quite a bit of attention recently in the Christian community, and otherwise, after she came out in support of the LGBT community- specifically supporting homosexual marriage. This almost broke the internet, y’all. People lost their minds! Some were absolutely gung-ho, hurray, hallelujah! Others were all “Off with her head!” Major figures in the faith had varying reactions that further polarized an already divisive and sensitive people. Oh. My. Gosh. Can’t we all just get along!?

Jen’s response to the backlash from her article (here) was beautiful! In fact, it made me love her more. So, when on of my girlfriends heard she was coming to speak down the street, she jumped into action and bought our tickets!

I wasn’t sure going into the auditorium what to expect. I had high hopes, no doubt, but I found them exceeded within minutes. Jen’s message was powerful, truthful, and exceedingly redeeming. Every word that came out of her mouth spoke to my dry and weary soul. Her message? Overcoming fear. The result? One overwhelmed and emotional Mollie.

Basically, we all have an island containing people/ things that we “protect” with copious amounts of prayer and surveillance. These are essentially the things that we say to God “take anything but this”. Health, husband, children, job, home, etc. And we think if we fret over them, pray over them, watch over them that they are immune from the hazards and destruction of real life. When these things (these idols) don’t turn out the way we want them to, don’t go according to plan, don’t remain untouched by the enemy, we turn to fear. “God must not have heard me, he must not care about me, therefore it is up to me.” Hope and trust in His providence, His protection, His care, diminish. And you become overwhelmed, afraid, and maybe (probably) even angry.

This hit me like a ton of bricks. My mind raced over the last 13 months of my life. I was a stay at home mom to two children, pregnant with the third when my husband lost his job in the oil and gas industry. Our monthly expenses were increasing and our income was dwindling. I delivered a healthy baby boy and came home to a loving family, yet the depths of postpartum depression held me captive for months. We struggled, and worried, and wondered when the break would come. My husband worked tirelessly to provide for our family, and often it wasn’t enough to pay the bills. I struggled to see how things would get any better.

Turning the page into 2017, I cried out for some hope. Some verse, some word, some song, something to give me the motivation and courage to keep going. The word He gave me? Enough. I took that to mean that I have enough, that I am enough. But after leaving the auditorium on January 23, 2017 that word took on new meaning for me. Enough. I Am enough. Not me, but He. He is enough. And I need not fear.

Jen’s message of overcoming fear was simple. When things don’t turn out how we thought they would, when hope becomes absent and fear ever-present, we are to:

1) Declare His Goodness. Claim this as truth! No matter what the circumstances, He’s good. He’s just. He loves you. He sees you. He’s with you.  Any one of these declarations is powerful. It’s meaningful, and it’s the first step to walking back the fear and anxiety that comes with uncertainty, failure, and brokenness.

2) Find Community. It’s in isolation that our problems seem insurmountable. The enemy wants this for you and for me! We’ve got to find our people. Loving, honest, trustworthy people. This can be tough, especially if you’ve been burned by closeness in the past, but we were created to be in community. We are not supposed to be in this alone.

3) Confess. Vulnerability is so key in this process. Not only does it free you but it allows others to be free of the mask they too are wearing. There is no other people so adept at hiding than the Church. There has been a premium placed on appearances, and I promise you that the only thing this accomplishes is more fear, shame, and dishonesty among members. This is the opposite of how Jesus called us to live! Find people who will pray for you, love you, and challenge you.

So there it was, right in front of me. The message my heart needed to hear. Declare His goodness. Find my community. Confess my fears. Okay, but I thought I was doing that? I haven’t ever been one to really shy away from telling others the truth about my struggles. And they go back a long way! Control, anxiety, depression, eating disorders, the list could go on. But honestly, I was hiding. I was hiding behind false honesty. What? Is that a thing? I think it is, because no matter how much confessing I did, how many prayers I prayed, I still felt like it was up to me. I could fix what was broken. I could try harder, be more. False. God, not so gently, reminded me this night that He is in control. Only He can fix what is broken. And He gave me this word, again: Enough. I Am enough. And then he reminded me of a verse that began to stir in my soul at the start of this new year: I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten… (Joel 2:25 ESV). This brought such peace over me. I referred to 2016 as our locust year recently, and immediately this verse came to mind. I have been dwelling on it for weeks, but not believing it to be true until I heard Jen say “You have to declare these things. God is who He says He is. He can do what he says He can do. He has not given you a spirit of fear! (2 Tim. 1:7)

So see, sometimes He takes our idols of comfort, of money, of job security, our marriage, our children, and He allows them to be eaten by the locust (translation: stripped away from their unholy place in our lives) to show you that He’s in control. He knows what’s best. He has a plan. I keep thinking that I’ve learned this lesson a thousand times, but every time it hits me like a ton of bricks!

Maybe there are things you have on your island that are about to, or already have, fallen into the ocean. Maybe you are overcome with fear of the future. Maybe you are paralyzed by all the emotions that come with the loss of false security. Maybe your marriage is struggling. Maybe your child is sick. Maybe you have been turned down for that job you thought was a guarantee. All of these matter to God. They do! And He doesn’t want you to worry. He doesn’t want you to wallow. He’s got this! And He’s got you.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:32 ESV

xo

Mollie

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Moving into an Older Home: What you need to know

Two years ago this month, we bought our first home. It’s a one story ranch built in 1951 with three bedrooms and two, smallish, bathrooms. We couldn’t have been more excited on closing day when we got the keys to something that we worked so hard for! When we walked through the house for only the second time that night, my excitement faded a little as I noticed all the things that hadn’t previously caught my attention. Of course it’s easy to miss the hidden dirt, the uneven floors, and the leaky faucets when hunting for a house. Those are things that are usually addressed to some degree when going through the purchasing process, but for some reason I didn’t pay that much attention- #firsttimehomebuyerprobs. The carpets were gross! The popcorn ceiling had cobwebs. The kitchen was AVOCADO GREEN- noticed that one first time around, don’t worry. I started making a list of all the things we needed to do, and it added up FAST!

Here are the pictures of our house when it was listed:

There are so many things I could say about these pictures. Suffice to say I HAD PLANS!

When you walk into your outdated home for the first time as the new homeowner, it’s important to think about a couple of things before you move the first piece of furniture in.

First, do your own inspection and make a list of priorities. For us, the non-negotiables were to shampoo the carpets, steam clean the tiles, give the bathrooms a GOOD scrubbin’, and wipe down the cabinets and closets in every room. This took the better half of one day even with a few helping hands!

Second, paint the rooms you will spend the most time in, if you wish. When we moved in, I immediately painted the dining room because it was the first room people saw when they walked in the door! I know, I know, the avocado kitchen remained with us for some months… I proceeded to paint all the bedrooms because I believe you should sleep in spaces that are welcoming, and institutional gray is nothing if not off-putting.

Finally, move in the big items and make the spaces yours. If you find later that you don’t love that paint color, or that light fixture, or even that stovetop- those are all relatively easy to adjust as you go. We have big plans for our kitchen, which I cannot wait to share with you! We also hope to address the laundry “room” (aka closet) soon as part of a “get organized” mission for the new year. I’m all about function, beautiful spaces that are inspiring, welcoming, and foster relationships. There’s something comforting about sitting on a friend’s couch with a glass of wine and taking in the warmth that a room can provide. (For all you minimalists out there, I love you and I see you! Warmth is a relative term- whatever comforts you!) The point is to live in your space with a sense of accomplishment and pride- you made this new (old) house your home, and though things may not be perfect, like the popcorn ceilings and uneven floors, take a moment to recognize what you’ve already accomplished in purchasing a home, packing, moving, unpacking, and reorganizing your entire life!

There will, no doubt, be some hiccups when taking on an older home. We found out pretty quickly that we needed a new hot water hook up for our washing machine, and my husband and dad had to get under the house to jack up part of a sunken floor joist. These are things that were easily fixed, but others aren’t so lucky. I’m fully aware that we sort of slipped through unscathed when it came to major, costly, fixes on our home! It was quite a relief because it meant I could focus our resources on the cosmetic rather than the logistic. Yay!

Below is a gallery of pictures of my home in progress. I’ve lived here for two years, and there are still things I desperately want to change! That day will come, but in the meantime I’m proud of what we have accomplished on our own, with no small amount of help from family and crazy great friends! I’ve lovingly begun to call this house my DIY on a dime, with time. In the coming months you’ll see just what I mean. And I hope it inspires you!

 

 

xo

Mollie

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Potty Training= Hell On Earth {Part I}

If you follow me through any avenue of social media, you will know that I’ve been on the struggle bus for a while. That bus has hit more potholes and speed bumps than I can count! And just when things get scenic and beautiful again, BUMP! It’s a jolt back to reality that life with toddlers is HARD! 

I’m currently potty training two out of three children. Somehow, the 19 month old is THRILLED with the idea of being a big girl and doing her business in the potty. My almost 4 year old couldn’t care less. Yeah. We’ve spent hours on the potty this week. There have been cheers and tears. Rewards and reprimands. Today was a tear-filled, torrential downpour of a day. Everything went awry. And I couldn’t handle it. This mommy job is no joke. 

Today, while Little Miss Middle was sitting pleasantly on the potty and I was feeding the baby, I hear this all-too-familiar call “MAAAAAMMAAAAAA” and the subsequent cries echoing through the hall. I thought, “Oh, his show must have paused” or something simple like that. WRONG. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the BLOWOUT of the century.

 Poop E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E. Couch, floor, hands, feet, walls. It was not a pretty sight! I couldn’t contain myself. I started crying RIGHT along with my child.  After the 20 minute clean up and midday bath, I found myself getting angry. Angry that I couldn’t be all the things to everyone. Angry that my kid KNOWS how to go to the potty and refuses because it’s easier to just keep playing and get a diaper change later. Angry because most of my days revolve around cleaning up someone else’s bodily functions AND blatant destruction of my house. It was all too much! 

I resorted to scrubbing the grout in the kitchen floor after throwing dinner in the oven with the greatest resentment and bitterness I could muster. (Can you say Drama Mama!?) I only got 1/4 of the way through the kitchen when the timer went off, but guess what? That 16 minutes was what I needed to cry, to pray, and to plead with God to forgive me for how I spoke to my babies, for my attitude about this day, and for being so selfish in my motivations. 

The truth is it is embarrassing to be one of the only moms with an untrained 3-year-old. It’s frustrating to hear so many people question your child “REALLY? He isn’t potty trained!?” It’s insulting to get the “Well, my child potty trained in 3 days. You should do….” Thank for for the unsolicited advice, person I may never speak to again! 

I obviously don’t have any answers. Tomorrow we are putting a “Little Loo” (Here) in the playroom, because I’m thinking if it’s right there we can’t avoid it. Plus there’s no bribing with your phone and hoping they don’t drop it in the toilet. 😝   

I’ve received some wonderful advice from friends that I can’t wait to try, so stay tuned for Part II, whenever that may be. 

Just know that in this season of toddler-training, there are ups and downs. Kids don’t come with a manual, but there are days when we ALL wish we could send them off to obedience school and come back to us compliant and house broken. We are all doing the best we can. And sometimes our best is scrubbing grout through stinging tears and pleading words. 
xo

Mollie