icon-no-judgement

Category: a good day

These Are the Days

photo copyright of Freckled Cat Photography, http://www.freckledcatphoto.com/

My favorite days at home with my girls–ages 5 and 8-months–are the days when we go slowly. The days we lie on the floor of our kitchen and try to teach Annie to crawl by crawling around ourselves. The days I sit in the rocking chair in Annie’s sunlit room, with both girls on my

Text to Self

Text to Self

It was dark, too dark to be out on a walk with a toddler. We had been in search of a playground and it was just a day or two after the daylight savings time change.

I had misjudged both the time and the distance. It was past dinnertime and I was tired, my baby cranky.

I

First Time to Ski

First Time to Ski

Snow Day!

Snow Day

Strength Training: What Travel and Adventure Did For Our Family

Photo credit: Ashraful Kadir

Ten years ago, as a young couple, we lived in Germany. Our first child was born there just ten days before we wrapped her up and returned to the U.S.A.

Ten years later we found the perfect time to go back and introduce our daughter to her birthplace, and show her and her seven-year-old brother our favorite haunts.

I confess, I had hoped our kids would enjoy stepping squarely into the footprints my husband and I had left years ago. Instead, a huge dancing mess of little prints grew around the larger ones.  And not surprisingly, they insisted on making their own footprints.

They transformed our time in Germany into an adventure of conquering towers.

Any signage with “Schloss” (castle), “Feste” (stronghold), or “Burg” (fortress) sent our car careening in that direction as if driven by the giggling youth in the backseat. Without exception we would climb to the upmost height of the ruin,

Text Your Children Well

texting

I came late to texting. I resisted getting a smartphone for the longest time, knowing that once I did I would never escape work again (which was true). Although I love my smartphone, I do sometimes miss the days when I was physically capable of walking away from my work email account.

Even when I finally stepped on the smartphone train, I continued to abstain from the world of texting. I didn’t see the need for communication that a phone call or an email couldn’t fill.

And then my daughter went to college. Let me tell you, I am now the biggest fan of texting you’ve ever met. I’ll tell random people how great it is that I can have a quick, non-intrusive conversation with my daughter any time I want.

And she’ll write me back and share all sorts of details about her life… with me! Her mom!

I text her all the

Gotcha Day

photo by pixydust8605

Gotcha Day honors the day when a child (or children) is united with her adoptive family.

For our family, this is the day when my husband, our biological daughter, and I welcomed three siblings into our home and hearts forever. Overnight we grew from a family of only one daughter to a family with one son and three daughters, ages 5-3. Adoption answered my prayers of being a mother to four children despite suffering infertility.

On Gotcha Day, we celebrate our adopted children staying together as siblings and having a permanent home, no longer being wards of the state, but being members of a loving family.

While Gotcha Day is huge, we keep our celebrations simple. This year, I set out a butcher paper tablecloth and the kids decorated it while I cooked a special breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes. As with any special occasion, the girls wanted to wear fancy dresses and our

More Like the Sun Than the Sun That Day

More Liek the Sun Than the Sun That Day

It was a perfect day with a bright sun and a cool breeze. My one year old in the stroller was pointing and yelling “Ba!” at each bird, squirrel, dog, butterfly, and live creature he saw along the way.

My three and four year olds raced down the sidewalk smelling every flower they could find. “Smell

Six Life Lessons From Toddlers

lessons from toddlers

We’re always trying to teach our toddlers, but they can teach us, too. Here are six life lessons we can take away from the toddlers in our lives.

Forgive, Forget, and Then Have Fun Together: We waste so much time holding grudges. We sulk, pout, gossip, and complain long after something has happened. When something really upsets a toddler, he’ll have a massive meltdown, but a few minutes later he’ll give a big hug, and minutes after that he’ll be running down the street after a butterfly. It makes our heads spin to see how fast a toddler’s mood changes, but there’s a lesson there: Let it go. At times, it’s a more sophisticated way to handle life.

Master Something New: We love to stay in our comfort zones. As an adult, months can go by before we try to do something truly new, let alone master it. A toddler loves to do

All Lined Up

All Lined Up

ALWAYS Check When They’re Quiet

always check when they're quiet kids

Balloon on a Rainy Day

Balloon on a Rainy Day

Check out more on June’s blog, Coffee Under the Umbrella.

Rainy Day = Bugs!

A little girls goes bug hunting in a raincoat on a rainy day.

All the Moments I Can Give

grandparents

I don’t know how old I was when I started bossing my mother around like I was smarter than she was.

Definitely when I became a mother myself:

“Why are you holding him like that? He doesn’t like that.”

“Please keep your eye on him.”

“Swaddle him like this.”

I’m not sure why I thought that I was God’s gift to mothering and she didn’t have any idea what she was doing.  I WAS HER BABY.  And–I think–I turned out OK.  Aside from the bossy part.

We were in Florida last year, visiting my parents, and my mother and I took a drive to run some errands. I was, once again, telling her what to do and how to do it, and suddenly I stopped.  I put my hand on hers as she drove and I said, “Why do I do that?”

“Do what?” she asked.

“Tell you what to do like you’re a child,” I

Wild Family: This Super-Scary Thing We Do

Wild Family

I met my wife, Kate, when her son, Daniel, was almost two. It felt like a family from the beginning, complete with hill rolling, kite flying, a bubble machine, and peas in my water glass. Kate and I were married in the same year we met, and our daughter, Rosalie, quickly joined us. Then came the perpetual messes, screams in car seats, sleepless nights, diaper hell, and arguing. Our third child arrives this fall.

I used to think I’d be a natural dad, but it’s been hard for me to find my groove. I’ve invested in relationship counseling, psychotherapy, parenting coaching. We have a shelf-full of books on parenting, but it feels as if each one only worsens the pressure I feel to perform at my best at all times. But how’s a guy supposed to perform at his peak when he’s stressed about bills, low on sleep and sex, knee-deep in

Music to His Ears

Richard Thompson

One of my happiest memories as a father is the night I took my son to see a musician who wrote one of the saddest songs ever written.

For close to 25 years, I’ve been a fan of cult singer-songwriter Richard Thompson, formerly with the 1960s folk-rock band Fairport Convention. My wife, Beth, and I chose one of his songs for the first dance at our wedding, I wear my Richard Thompson baseball cap regularly and I refer to my autographed songbooks to look up his lyrics.

Those lyrics, though, posed a bit of a problem for a father trying to introduce his very young son to music and musicians. The words are almost always dark, bleak, biting and bitter. The lyrics for arguably the Most Depressing Song Ever portray a man talking to an infant:

Life seems so rosy in the cradle, but I’ll be a friend, I’ll tell you what’s in

The Only Parenting Advice You Will Ever Need

Best Parenting Advice: afternoon martini

When my first baby was a year old, my mother-in-law came to me with a serious piece of news: my son needed speech therapy. She knew this, because her good friend was a speech therapist and when my mother-in-law described my baby’s development to her, it was evident they needed to step in. They advised immediate professional intervention.

I was floored. And, coincidentally, speechless. Not by the revelation—I happened to think that my son’s speech was on target, and I was right—but by the audacity of these two women, discussing my child and making pronouncements. As a new parent there were so many things I was unprepared for, but how to deal with the never-ending stream of well-meaning and not so well-meaning dollops of wisdom was dizzying.

I’ve learned a one or two things as a mother, so let me give you some advice about all that advice.

First, follow your instincts. Each child, each parent, each family is unique. You will have to find your own way, discover your own solutions for the myriad of challenges that you face, from the baby who won’t sleep, to taming toddler–and teenage–tantrums.

You can listen, you can file information away, but you are never obligated to take anyone’s kibitzing seriously. Just smile and say thanks. You can read all the baby and child books you want…

Summer!

Summer!

Proof Positive

Radio

Listening to an NPR show discuss the Ferguson, MO, shooting in the car this morning, my daughter asked, “Why don’t they just call people by their name? Not black or white, they have a name. I just want to know their name and if they are good people.”

My Favorite Picture of You

picture of my mother at age 4

“I just don’t look good in pictures,” was what my mother would say. It was a statement, a fact.

Her mother had probably told her that, more than once.

She was a pawn for her socially climbing mother, an only child in New York City, stained by her parent’s divorce. She spent her childhood being braided and straightened and showcased.

There are so many pictures of my mother as a child. Professional, expensive photos. I can feel the scratchy wool stockings, tight patent leather shoes and pinching hair clips when I look at them.

My mother would look at a one of these pictures and say, “Look, you can see how I was getting fat there.”

My mother found her rebellion after my father moved her out to the country. But she truly came into her own when he died, and she was left with two young children. For some women, the second