KIKn it! Part one: the conception.

I’ve been waiting to publish this post… mostly because I needed to make sure that it was something that I would keep doing beyond the initial “weeee!” phase of new ideas.

But since I outlasted any record that I have set in the past 15 years of marriage and 12 years of mommy hood, I thought it was a pretty good indication that I might just be on to something.  Well that, and the kids have now adopted KIK as set-in-stone-tablets commandments of the home so I know they won’t let me brush it off anytime soon.

Here’s how it all started… and how I turned (well, how I’m trying really hard to turn) my mess into my message:

If I were in charge of a standardized test and one of the sections was on synonyms, my question would be:

bamboo shoots under fingernails are to torture like:

meal planning is to Jen

Seriously.  Hate everything about it.  In the twelve years that I have had children, I have done it for exactly 2 weeks.  Those two weeks were great after the planning and shopping were done, but the planning and shopping part… well… there are just other things that I would much rather do than actually sit down to do it.  Things like clean my toilets.  With a toothbrush.

Many a new year have come and gone with “Plan meals!” as one of my goals.

I even made a cutsie menu display to hang in the kitchen, complete with designs that could be changed for different holidays.







(Which, in hindsight was a really bad idea… if I didn’t even change the menu week to week, what made me think I would change the background for different seasons??!)


With all of my efforts from year to year, our menu planning/carrying out ratio was about 2 days tops.

And year after year, my frustration with dinner time grew and grew.

I mean, sure, anyone can cook a great meal – if all of the ingredients are just laid out before them, and there is oodles of free time, and there are no babies crying to be nursed, or toddlers leaching onto their legs, or other children asking for help with homework, or to play x-box (which requires you checking on said homework), or fighting with other children who are asking similar questions.  Add all of these into the mix, and dinner time has become something that I absolutely dread.

Or at least used to.

As the afternoon hours ticked by, I inevitably had the dreaded ‘what’s for dinner?!’ question pop into my head (or asked by one of the kiddos), and more times than not, ended up with ‘quick and easy’ being the two main ingredients.

But this has been a problem for me.  Because I spent years studying the fine art of nutrition.


Got my degree in dietetics.

And as I was thinking about what to study in college, this thought actually helped me make my decision: “well, I love nutrition.  I would really love to be a stay at home mom, which means I am going to be cooking a lot of meals, so why not combine studying what I love to be able to make nutritious, yummy meals for my family.”  I seriously had visions of sautéing exotic vegetables while my children played peacefully around me, or stood next to me donned in mini chef hats.  Then they would eagerly gobble up everything that was set in front of them, singing my praises.

Yeah… you can stop laughing now.  Never happened.

Until now.

Really.  (okay, minus the chef’s hats).

We are really going on three weeks of planned, prepared, nutritious (well, for the most part… I’ll get to that in another post!) meals.

THREE WEEKS, folks!  I know for many of you, that is nothing.

But for this throw-something-on-and-call-it-good mama, it’s a WORLD RECORD!!

It all started with the realization that winter break was over, and our crazy run around everywhere schedule was about to resume, and the thought of going through all of that and having to do dinners day in and day out was enough to almost bring me to tears.

We were all sitting around on Sunday and I looked up at the menu sign (which still had the summer motif background, ahem.  Did I mention we had just finished Christmas??!).  And something snapped.

I realized that I have been failing my children.  They were going to go out into the world not knowing how to cook.  Many of them had expressed interested in helping me in the kitchen before, but I have always been too rushed to really take the time to teach them the little things that would truly serve them their whole life through (I have yet to meet someone who has never had to cook for themselves for at least some points in their life).

I got the menu chart down, and announced that we would be doing something different this year.  Each week the kids would pick a day, and they were in charge of dinner.  They could pick whatever they wanted to cook, and I would have the ingredients ready for them, and be here to help them through, but they were ultimately in charge of at least the main course of dinner.

They jumped at the idea.  And KIK (Kids in the Kitchen) was born!

Good Morning Mamma!

I’ve spent many-a-year in mommyhood now.  A dozen and 6 months to be exact.  I know by some standards that is a drop in the pan and some of you more experienced, expert mommies are laughing, saying, “honey, you ain’t seen nothen yet!!”  and I quite agree – I’m sure there is MUCH more on this mommy boat that I have yet to learn.

But there is one thing that I have learned.  One little secret that saved my sanity. and my happiness.  and quite a lot of money not spent on years of therapy to come to the same conclusion.

Here is the secret:  there is no ONE way through this path that we call mommy hood.  There is no ONE perfect way to be a mommy.  There is NO pinterest perfect mommy.  I don’t have to bury my own quirks in some vain attempt to become the perfect mommy mold.  My quirks are what make me uniquily  qualified to mother my children.

When I started on the baby train, I loaded up on the mountain of mommy books that everyone recommended.  I did the checklist preparation.  I read.  I planned.  I prepared.

And then they came.

And I realized that I was anything but prepared.

In fact, the more children that came, the less and less prepared I felt.

And I started to feel like maybe I wasn’t cut out for this whole mommy gig after all.

So often, I felt like I wasn’t fitting the mold of the good night tubs, the hours spent on the floor playing candy land, the cutsie-faced (healthy!) food arranged decadently on plates for them to gingerly consume as we smile and giggle and point at the birds singing sweetly in the trees.

And everything I read just heaped on more guilt.

For me it was particularly about the night time routine.  People went on and on about how their night time moments were treasures to them – how they loved to do the bath-time and read to the kids, then how much they loved and cherished that snuggle time as their children drifted slowly into slumberland and their mommy hearts burst at the time that they devoted to these activities, knowing full well that all to soon the bed time snuggles would vanish.

Songs were even written about ‘letting them sleep in the middle’  (it’s actually a really good song, even though it did infuse guilt for quite some time!)

You see – the reason that I had a hard time with this is because I am NOT a night time person.  Never have been.  Never will be.  My cinderella clock chimes WAY before midnight, and instead of the sweet cinderella hum, my children more often than not got some version of the step mother character begging, then pleading, then threatening them will all sorts of not-so-well wishes if they didn’t GET TO BED RIGHT NOW!!!

As much as I hate to admit it, even the sweet, innocent face, puppy eyed plea of ‘can I snuggle with you?’ would send shivers down my spine.  Yes, I did all of those night time things.  But I didn’t cherish them.  I didn’t relish them.  I counted down the minutes until I could finally fall into my own semi-coma toast state of slumber.

And while doing so, man did I pour on the guilt.  What kind of mom don’t like to snuggle in bed with her children??  What kind of mom gets super mad and even yells at her kids to get out of her room so she can have some (ever-so-selfish) alone time? What kind of mom will purposely plan a meeting right about bed time… and then even drive around the block a few times to make sure that they are all in bed and for just one night give herself a by on this dreaded routine??

THIS mom – that’s who!

Now don’t get me wrong – I have stayed up late, and I will stay up late when need be.  On vacation, I love late night talks.

But just as a routine, daily occurrence, I’m all about sleep.

Sweet slumbering silent sleep.  For this mama…

adam hands

it is literally my ‘zen’

true story:  I used to tell my dates to not be offended – that if we went to a movie I would most likely be asleep before it reached the plot twist.  Some of them didn’t believe me.  they were wrong.

Nope – never been a night owl.

Now… give me a bright, early morning???  I’m your gal!!!

I LOVE mornings.  Crazy.  Weird.  Even a little sadistic.  I know.  But I LOVE them.  Don’t get me wrong – that first moment of dragging myself out of bed is rough – not gonna lie.  But once I’m up, I feel so energized.  I can get so many things done in those wee hours of the morning.

including mommy hood moments.  Oh how I love those early morning snuggles!  I love looking over the stirring baby and soaking in their reaction when they open their eyes for the first time, focus in on my face, and break into that huge unadulterated smile.  THESE moments are the ones that I treasure.

Yep – I am a morning mommy ROCKSTAR!!

I love to hear all of the stirring and tiny feet plodding down the stairs to join me in the kitchen as I cook breakfast.  I love to listen to their excitement for the day that lies ahead, aid in the last minute studying for the quiz or test, put the last touches on the homework, and listen to the description of dreams, both night time and life-long.

Then one day it hit me.  I can do tubby time in the morning!  I can do reading time in the morning!

Once I unleashed myself from the ‘perfect pinterest recipe’ of what a ‘good mom’ routine looked like, I came to realize that I could do this mommy hood gig, because I could do it on MY terms.

Some mommies get on the floor and play candy land for hours.  This mommy puts on some music and zumbas with her kids for hours (okay, not for hours… but I had to keep up the literary consistency!).  Some mommies make gourmet meals for birthday breakfast.  This mommy brings home donuts and chocolate milk for birthday mornings.  Some moms do night time readings.  This mom does morning math.

The point that I came to understand is that there isn’t one right way or time to make mommy moments.  We just need to make sure that they get made.

An interesting side effect of this discovery not only freed me from my own guilt, but it also freed me from judging other peoples journey of mommy hood.  As I have come to not only accept, but more importantly cherish my unique mothering methods I have also been able to openly cherish and relish other mothers in their mommy hood moments (without feeling the urgent rush to abandon my own ways and jump on her bandwagon).

I am not anywhere near perfect in my mothering moments.  In fact, there are many, many times that I would love to call ‘do over!’ so I can go back and get it right.

But I am learning

and growing.

and releasing the guilt as I help my children experience this world through the use of my individual strengths… that perhaps they were even sent to me because they would benefit from my particular set of strengths, not my trying to morph my motherhood into someone else’s set of strengths.

And THAT, my friends, has made all the difference.

So what are YOUR mommy hood strengthening moments??  C’mon by, let’s chat.  I’d love to hear them!  (just not during the midnight hour…).


Don’t Be a Duck!

I just arrived home from a crazy week… which is a story in and of itself… it consisted of an impromptu cross country drive (sans hubby!) with 6 kiddos, attending my sweet grandmas funeral, celebrating sons birthday, putting another son on a plane with hubby to New York, driving across the state to speak at education week, then picking up hubby and son at airport and driving back across the country.  Whew!!

As I have been trying to re-enter life here in mommyhood, I have still kept a bit of the education week buzz.  You know, the one you get when you sit in a class and they say something that suddenly resonates with you so deep that you know it’s God way of telling you that he put those words into the speakers mouth just so you would finally hear his promptings.

Usually that high stays with me for a good week… until I get right back into my routine and keep putting the incredible inner ‘blings’ I had at education week on the “yeah, I’ve got to get on that sometime…” to-do list.

In short, after soaring at education week, I come home and start walking again…. much like these ducks:


There was once a town called Duckville.  Everyone there was a duck.  There were duck teachers, duck grocers, duck doctors, duck lawyers.  And everyone in Duckville always walked everywhere he went.  That was, until the day two out-of-town ducks arrived.

They were very enterprising visitors.  First they rented the local gymnasium and then they put up posters all around town which read, “Come to the gym tonight.  See a flying demonstration.  Fun for all.”

The residents of Duckville were intrigued over the flying idea.  They turned out in mass to see what the visiting ducks had to show them.  They were excited to learn a new way to move from place to place.  And all of them learned to fly that evening.  They spent hours and hours flying around the gym.  When the program ended, they thanked the out-of-town ducks.  And then all of them walked home.

Don’t Be a Duck!


So here’s to a commitment to dig in and make the changes that I vowed I would do while sitting, inspired and enlightened at education week!


Riding the Rapids

I took a leadership class.  When we started reading the given book, I have to admit, I didn’t really relate – it was based almost solely on leading in the business world, and in my life of diapers and drippy noses, I am far from the business world, nor do I have any desire to enter the business leadership realm.

But I kept reading.  And so glad that I did.

There was a part in there that talked about leaders feeling like the company should be acting like a placid lake.  They hit rapids every once in a while, but then will get back to the placid lake.  Most leaders are constantly striving to lead in the lake, but the authors brought out the reality… they have to learn to lead in the rapids, because the RAPIDS, not the lake, are in fact the norm.

This paragraph hit me like a ton of bricks.  I suddenly realized that all of the discontentment that I have been feeling lately was trying (in vain) to find the placid lake.

Life in motherhood is exactly like riding the rapids.

It’s great, and exciting, but also unpredictable and ever changing.  And forever forcing us forward at breakneck speed.

And the more time I spend trying to recapture the lake, the more frustrated I will be.

So I have given up the search for the placid lake.  Instead, I give in to the notion that each day is going to be a crazy ride, so I may as well buck up and enjoy it while it lasts.

So now, when people ask me how things are going… my response is to smile just a bit and say,

“Riding the rapids, baby.  Riding the Rapids.”

I see…

My vision …