Life Lesson: Be Kind. Always. 

The news gives me anxiety. 

I watch it and I’m always afraid and ashamed by what I see. Violence. Hate. Fear. It’s really just too much. 

I live in middle America. I live in a very diverse suburb of a diverse city in Missouri. My daughter will go to school with children of all races, ethnicities, and religions. She will have classmates who don’t speak English as their first language and some whose parents don’t speak it at all. I am very proud that she will go to such a school. 

She will be raised in home that teaches her that people are people, children are children, and everyone deserves love, respect, and an equal opportunity. 

I am sad that she has to live in a world that will try and teach her otherwise. 

I will do my best to teach her that being kind is the most important thing she can do. That she should always be kind, compassionate, inclusive, and respectful. I will teach her that even if someone looks different than her, talks different than her, or believes different than her they are beautiful and can still be an amazing friend. Because differences are sometimes the best parts of friendships. 

I will not shelter her from the reality that is racism and hate that still exists in this world, but I will teach her to be one that stands up against it.  I will teach her to be part of a generation that really does become the change. 

I want better for her and for her friends and I know that starts with how I raise her. 

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A Broken Crayon Still Colors

I often find myself telling Madeline that broken crayons still color.  


I think it’s one of the more profound words of wisdom I have given my three year old so far. While I’m quite literally reassuring her that the broken Crayola in her hand will in fact still color in her coloring book just as beautifully as before, it means so much more. 

This is advice that I hope she is able to apply to more than just her crayon box. 

In life there are times where she will feel broken. Her heart, her spirit, her motivation. I want her to remember that she is still full of beautiful colors that even when broken can still color. 

She was made for a purpose and even if it might not always feel clear to her, she was created to do great things. 

We call her our rainbow baby because she was born after the storm of our loss. She brought light and color into our lives where there was much darkness and pain. Everywhere she goes she leaves a path of color and joy. I believe this is part of her purpose. Joy. She brings joy wherever she goes. 

I want her to remember that even those days where she feels like the world is working against her, that smile of hers is enough to bring joy to someone around her. A broken crayon can still color. 

Even while she is nursing a broken heart and feels like she might never love again, she can hold a door open for someone and that might make the difference in their day. A broken crayon can still color. 

If she someday finds out that her best friend has lied behind her back, she can go and sit at the lunch table with the new girl in school and make a new friend. A broken crayon can still color. 

I want her to always remember that she is here for a reason. She was created for a purpose. Even when she feels lost and aimless God can still use her and work through her. Sometimes it is that very brokenness that He uses. 

Our own brokenness gives us empathy and grows our compassion. It helps us know the right words to say when we meet someone walking down the same broken road. 

While I wish nothing but sunshine and rainbows for my beautiful little girl, I know that she will face the storms too. I know that she will unfortunately get her heart broken, have her spirit broken, or just feel broken down at times. I just pray that she will have the strength to know that even when broken she is still beautiful inside and out and capable of changing the world. 

That sparkly pink crayon can still color just as bright even if it breaks. 

But for now I’ll just keep buying her new crayons when hers break. I’ll fix as much of her brokenness as I can for as long as I can. 

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Matching Set

Everyday this week Madeline has insisted that we match outfits. 


This started on Monday after I had already had her dressed in a pretty purple floral skirt and white shirt. This was awful. This would not do. This did not match the black shirt and black and white striped skirt that mommy was wearing. I should have known that she wanted to wear a black shirt and black and white striped skirt too. 

There were tears and a full outfit change so that she could match and then lots of extra cuddles to make up for the horrible mistake.  

She has done this before. Asked to wear a matching skirt or shirt that I am wearing. It’s usually a one day phase and she goes back to her normal routine of asking to wear a dress everyday. 

Not this week.

This week, every morning in her sleepy little voice, the first thing she says is, “I want to match.” 

So, everyday I have searched our closets finding similar shirts, making sure that she looks even more like my mini-me than ever before. 

Since I’m not sure how long this phase of hers will last, I’m thinking we might take advantage of Missouri’s tax-free weekend this weekend and see if we can find some more matching outfits. 

I know there will come a day all too soon where dressing like mommy will be the worst idea ever, so I’ll cherish these memories and moments now while I’m still her hero and the person she most looks up to. 

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Boyfriends, Breakups, and Saying No

Madeline informed me last night that her and her boyfriend broke up. 

Reminder: she’s three. 

I asked her what happened. She said she told him not to kiss her and now he’s not her friend anymore. 

Again, she’s three. 

I told her that she did the right thing by telling him not to kiss her, and that she shouldn’t be kissing boys yet. I also told her I was sad that he wasn’t being her friend anymore. That seemed to satisfy her for now. I hugged her and she went on to play. 

I know that most likely the next break up won’t be so easy to cure with a hug, and that makes my heart ache for my little girl. 

Already at three a boy chose not to be her friend because she said no when he tried to kiss her (something they have already been in trouble for previously, so Madeline knew she wasn’t supposed to do it).

What happens when she is thirteen and it’s more than a kiss?

These are the things that already make my momma heart and mind worry. 

What if next time a boy she really likes threatens to break up with her if doesn’t do more than just kiss him? How do I instill strength in my daughter, beginning even now, so that when she wants to say no, she can say no and stand firm in that decision?

How can I make sure that her heart is not broken by a boy who only wants to see how far she will let him go. These may seem like crazy things to worry about, because well, she’s only three. But I believe that foundation of strength, self-worth, and confidence is being built now. 

She watches our every action. She sees how sweetly her dad treats me. She knows what love looks like. I want her to seek that in her life. I want her to grow up not settling for less than she deserves. I want her to expect the best, because she deserves the best. 

For now our little threenager has seemingly gotten over her first broken heart fairly easily. She was able to say no to the unwanted kisses from the boy who is always trying to kiss and hug her. She is learning that while she likes to give out hugs, she doesn’t want to be kissed, and she is in control of herself, so she gets to make those decisions not the boys. 

I can only hope remembers that she is incharge of her body as she grows in to her teen years and that that beautiful heart of hers doesn’t get too broken along the way. 

But I will be prepared with a shoulder to cry on, some sappy music, chessy movies, and some ice cream to make it all better when it does.

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Garage Sale Goodbye

We’ve been trying to get ready for a garage sale this week (which we apparently planned for the hottest weekend of the year #winning). Part of the massive amount of prep that it takes to get a garage sale ready has included going through Madeline’s baby clothes and toys. 

This has got to be a special kind of torture for someone who is as sentimental as me. 

Every dress, every tiny t-shirt, they all seem to hold a memory. I find it so hard to put a price on a memory. 

I know I realistically can’t keep everything. Right? Can I? 

No. That’s just crazy. Especially considering I probably really do have several photos of her in each special outfit. So it’s not like those memories are going to fade away completely. 

Maybe it’s just because she’s the first baby that I got to actually bring home. Maybe it’s a little bit because of the loss of her brother. Maybe it’s just that she’s a girl, and her clothes were/are so adorable. Maybe it’s that we decided we weren’t having anymore and selling things makes that decision seem real and final. Maybe it’s all if it, but getting rid of her baby things… Closing that chapter of her life, our lives, man this is hard. 

And to think, I just thought we were having a garage sale. 

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We Spoil Her, but She’s Not Spoiled


This face is why my child often gets ice cream before bed or a new Shopkins from Target.

“Please, momma.”

And those eyes and that lip is just too hard to resist. I know we spoil her.

I do.

I know she doesn’t need another Barbie, another Shopkins, another anything, but I want to buy these things for her. It’s my choice as her parent to say yes more often than no.

And yes, she does hear no.

We also know that she is grateful. Every new toy is met with a giant hug and more “thank you”s than we can count. We may spoil her, but don’t ever call her a spoiled brat.

She has a generous, giving spirit. One that we got to witness at the Fourth of July fireworks display last week.

We had set our chairs up next to a mother who was there with her three young children. We noticed they were calling the youngest girl, Maddy. This made our Maddy very excited. She loves to meet other little girls that share her name. She smiled and waved at the girl and said hi.

Later, when as it began to get dark and we got out the glow sticks for Madeline to make bracelets, Madeline decided she wanted to share one with her new friend. Together we walked over and gave the other Maddy a glow bracelet. Madeline was so excited to share with her.

Madeline is always willing to share her toys, snacks, whatever she has, if her friends want to play, she invites them to join in. This is why I don’t worry about spoiling her. She appreciates what she has and loves to share it with others. Her heart is big.

Then there is always that little nagging part of me that wishes I was buying toys and clothes for two, so sometimes I over indulge my guilt and grief and she reaps the benefits.

We currently are in a place where we can say yes to her requests. Thankfully, her requests are usually small. This won’t always be the case. As she grows those wants will too and she will have to hear no more and more. So we say yes now while it’s still exciting for to get a toy from Target’s Dollar Spot or a $3 Shopkins blind bag. Soon enough she’ll be asking for a car and we’ll be a little slower with that yes I’m afraid.

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On Her Own

Currently, Madeline is asleep in her own room.  In her own bed.

 

I realize that she is three, and that for most this seems like this should be an obvious statement of facts.  However, this is the first time this has ever happened.  I have mentioned before that we co-sleep with Madeline.

Now that she is three, I know that she really should start sleeping in her own bed.  At least occasionally.  That said, I’m still not sure I’m ready for that.  My anxiety is high.   I’m finding myself staring at the monitor even as I’m typing this.  I’m watching.  I’m resisting the urge to run in and either crawl into bed next her, or just pick her up and bring her back out her with me to cuddle up where I can hold her and constantly reassure myself that she is breathing.

I know that she is fine.

My rationale mind knows this.

It’s just there is this crazy, anxiety-ridden part of my brain that keeps telling me that I need to check that she’s still breathing every 30 seconds.

And I wonder why I’ve been exhausted for the last 4 years.  I basically haven’t slept since I was pregnant the first time around.

She is fine.  I keep staring at the monitor and telling myself this.  The volume is turned all the way up.  I’m just staring now.  I can see the rise and fall of her chest as she breathes.  This reassures me.

She looks so tiny in her big girl bed.

I know I will still go and get her before the night is over.  She won’t stay in there all night.

I’m not ready for that.

Not just yet.


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Baby Dreams

When Patrick and I were dating and first married and we talked about having kids, for some reason we often talked about having a little girl.

I’m not sure why we always seemed to picture ourselves with a little girl, dressed in pink dresses and pigtails, but this was always the image we, especially me, seemed to have in our heads.  Maybe my subconscious knew something I didn’t yet.

Naturally when we first got pregnant we started dreaming of all things pink.

We did sort of assume we would have a boy, just based on his family’s track record, but still, every dream I had was always of us with a little girl.  I could never seem to picture a little boy.  We picked out names.  We had Madeline’s name.  We had Joshua’s name (just in case).

When it came time to have our gender ultrasound we went to a 3D ultrasound place.

They were able to do the scan earlier than at our doctor and we were excited to find out. When the lady said, “it’s a boy.” I think Patrick and I were both a little surprised and sad at first.  I feel terrible admitting that now.
(Yes, there was a brief moment where I was sad that we were having a boy.  Now, I would give anything to have him.  I have often wondered if he felt my disappointment and that is why he didn’t stay.  Stick around for more crazy thoughts from the life of a guilt-stricken bereaved mom.)

The moment was short-lived of course.

Once the initial shock of that revelation wore off, the excitement set in.  We really were going to have a boy.  Even though all of my crazy pregnancy dreams were about a little chubby-cheeked girl dressed all in pink, we were having a boy!  Joshua.  His name was going to be Joshua Patrick.  (In reality, had he lived, we were going to follow the same double middle name pattern that Patrick has (and Madeline too).  His full name was going to be Joshua Patrick Arthur Denney, after Patrick’s dad’s middle name.  We’ve never told anyone that.  We didn’t want to leave that extra burden of grief on anyone, but in my mind that has always been his name.)

We started planning the nursery almost immediately.

Baseball.  Obviously it was going to be baseball.  I wanted to do a classic baseball theme with little bits of our team, the Kansas City Royals thrown in here and there.  We left the ultrasound place and immediately went and bought his first little outfit.  While I was still a little sad that I wasn’t getting to buy the little ruffled dresses, I was pretty excited about the cute little bow-ties and suspenders.  I was going to dress him like a little preppy man.

I suddenly had Pinterest boards full of baseball themed ideas for a nursery and baby shower.

I started pinning newborn baby boy photo ideas and the excitement grew.  We went shopping for little boy clothes and were excited to imagine taking him to baseball games and football games and watch him grow.

And then he didn’t.

We had to pack away all of the little boy clothes.  We never decorated that baseball themed nursery and we never got to take him to a Royals game.
The disappointment of never getting to do those things is so much bigger than that fraction of a second that I felt sad that he was going to be
a boy, but I still feel so much guilt for feeling that tiny bit of disappointment.  I think we had always just assumed we would have a girl and then we would have a boy later.  It wasn’t that we didn’t want a boy ever.  He was very much wanted. Wanted with every fiber of our being, it’s just that we had always kept picturing this little girl.

Then there were those dreams I kept having.

Every dream I had when I was pregnant with Joshua, it was always a baby girl.  I could picture her face – clear as could be.

When Madeline was born, I recognized her instantly.

She was the little baby from those dreams.  I had been dreaming about her.  I always wondered how my heart new what my head didn’t back then.  I always wondered if that was why when Patrick and I thought about kids, we always talked about a little girl.  We always talked about our Madeline.

When people ask us if we want any more children, that is such a complicated question.

Of course we do, we want our Joshua.  But that’s not going to happen.  So, we are content with our Madeline.  In a perfect world we would have our two children.  We would get to have our Joshua and Madeline together, here with us, but we all know this world is far from perfect.  So we will live our perfectly imperfect lives with our Madeline – our little girl that we dreamed of for so long while we hold tight to our dreams of her big brother.

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She’s a Firework 

StopGrowing 


Up


So


Fast!

I mean where did this tiny little baby go?


Look at how we watched the fireworks her first year. Snuggled close in her Ergo with the Baby Banz headphones protecting her little ears. 


Last night she danced around with glow sticks and asked when we were going to do our own fireworks. She has grown so much in such a short time. 

I so much wish I could bottle up each of these different stages and keep each of these versions of her in a safe place.  Somewhere that I could come back to as she grows. When she’s a moody a teenager and I need to remember that she was once my sweet, cuddly, little toddler. 

I just want to be able to open up my little Madeline time capsule and get my cuddles while teenage Madeline slams a door and blares her angsty music. Someone needs to invent this completely impossible vision of mine. I mean, who wouldn’t want to come back to this face time and time again?

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A Girl and Her Dog

I always see those sweet photos of little kids with their dogs.

Honestly, I thought that was how our dog, Sophie, would be with Madeline.  She was always such a cuddly dog.  She seemed to love kids when my little cousins came to visit.  And then we had Madeline.

We did things the way the books suggested.

We introduced a blanket that Madeline had slept with to Sophie first.  Thinking that this would allow her to grow familiar with her scent before we brought this new little creature home.  We tried to continue to give her attention.  Allowing her to come close enough to get a look at the new baby and get a get sniff or two.  But almost immediately she had no interest in Madeline.

If we were holding Madeline, Sophie stayed away.

At first that was fine.  I mean honestly a dog and a newborn, I didn’t mind if she didn’t take that much interest.  However, as Madeline grew and started noticing the dog more herself, Sophie still wanted nothing to do with her.

If Madeline would try to pet her Sophie would run away.

Much to Madeline’s confusion, every time she tries to pet the dog, she runs away and hides.  She has never bonded with her, and that makes me sad.  While she has never been outright mean or aggressive towards her, she has snipped a few times, and it has made us consider whether she is still a good fit for our family.

Most of the time Madeline loves Sophie.

We’ve asked her if she would be sad if Sophie didn’t live with us anymore.  She says she would.  Then of course we have moments like the other night when she got super upset and sad because,

“Sophie looked at me and hurt my feelings.”

The drama of a three-year-old is real in our house.  I mean look at these hurt feelings here, folks.

Of course, then again, the first thing Madeline says everyday when we get home from school is,

“Hi, Sophie, I’m back.”

So really, they have a very complicated relationship.  I just wish I knew how to get Sophie to bond with her a little more.  Is it too late?  How to you get your preschooler and your dog to like each other?  Any suggestions?


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