I was reading back to when Lucy was 2 because I am having SUCH a hard time with my 2-year-old right now. She is so independent and gets frustrated so easily. Do you have any advice on how to deal with that without giving in every time? Our first daughter seemed to skip the terrible 2 phase so we are at a loss.

The best advice I can give is the advice my mother gave me when I was in the midst of the terrible twos (and threes…and fours): kids that age simply have not developed the will power to stop themselves from mischief. They don’t know how to reason and comply to our wishes/commands. They just don’t have those skills yet. It sure helped me have more patience with my particularly trying toddlers.

I have found that the best two things that worked for me were 1) taking my emotion out of how I dealt with the frustration. It is TOUGH, but really, what two-year-old is really going to learn from having a frustrated, ranting mother? I think natural consequences, time out, and the 1-2-3 Magic method work miracles. (If you haven’t read that “1-2-3 Magic” book click here for more information that will change your life forever. That thing got me through my mothering of toddlers like magic 🙂 I still do the 1-2-3- thing with my big kids and it works like a charm).

And 2) be consistent and do not threaten anything that you are not really willing to follow through with. If you say you won’t go to the park if they keep whining and they whine, don’t go to the park. That’s so much easier said than done. But try to take the emotion out of how it’s ruining your plans while you place them gently in time out. Yes, sometimes you’ll need to hold the door closed while they kick and scream, but after two or three times of you holding your own they’ll get it: their mama means business!

Wow, I’m more passionate about that than I thought 🙂

I love the pictures of your family formal and casual. What are your suggestions for having good family pictures taken? When you take pictures of families do you prefer specific colors, stripes, patterns, or solids? Trees or open sky? Any suggestions that you have that might help us not behind the camera?

I know I’m late on this one…Christmas pictures are taken and folded into cards by now. But there’s always time for another family picture, right? I like all of the above depending on what mood you are going for. I think things like trees, open sky, a front door or a desert can all create an interesting backdrop. I think multiple people in the portrait can wear patterns as long as they are subtle. If the pattern you are wanting to incorporate is more bold, it’s better for just one or two people to be wearing it, and have everyone else coordinate with them.

My best advice would be to search the internet for good ideas. There’s never a shortage there.

What a wonderful trip and beautiful pictures! {from this post} Your girls looked so bright and colorful in their jackets and scarves. I have to ask, was that just a coincidence or do you plan their clothes so they’ll look good in pictures? I wish I could get my family to wear bright colors!

I am nerdy but have realized that I subconsciously often do think about what clothes will look good in pictures when I’m on a trip. I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it, but it’s just sort of a habit.

Do you cut your kids hair or do they go to the salon/barber?

I usually cut their hair. Max and Dave have just recently started to go to the barber together, but I still do theirs occasionally. I’ve taken Elle to the salon (a friend who cuts hair out of her garage) a couple times and Grace once (which was a horrifying experience to relate on another day), but their hair is so easy to cut (nothing really fancy) so I just do it myself.

As a mother of a now teenager who feels the need to double-check every picture that ends up in the family photo album (and then makes me hide all the ones where she thinks she doesn’t look her absolute best), I was wondering if your children have an opinion on what makes it to the blog or not.

Most of the time I do ask if I can post pictures…especially ones I think may be even a tiny bit embarrassing. And sometimes my older kids will ask before I take a picture, “can you please not put this on the blog?” But more often it’s, “can you put this on the blog?” from the little girls. I know Lu will have my hide some day for posting some things (particularly this and this) but hey, I can hardly help it she’s so darn cute 🙂

Apart from your book club, do you ever go out with girl friends on a regular basis, or have GNO, shopping with girl friends, girl time etc??

Although I do get to spend some good time with friends: occasional birthday lunches, a rare lucky girls’ trip here and there, book club and certainly lots of church stuff, I feel like I’m in a season of life right now when my family needs every bit of me I can give.

And I want to give myself to them with all my heart.

I used to do a lot more with friends. When my girlfriends and I all had little kids we would meet at the park or at each other’s houses to do crafts or playgroup together all day long. We would take field trips together and plan out our dreams as our children busied themselves with their imagination and our little ones clung to our legs. How I loved those long days when friends and children and family life could coexist so well.

I also used to occasionally sneak out by myself and run errands at night after my children were tucked safely in bed and Dave was around to tide me over. I needed a moment to catch my breath to keep me sane after changing explosive diapers and scrubbing ballpoint pen off the walls and vacuuming out the dryer that had been filled with laundry detergent.

Now my evenings are filled with teenagers needing help with homework who I long to be with to draw things out of as they get ready for bed late into the night. I have this ongoing project to try to figure out how they tick. No matter how much I think I am starting to get it down, they throw me a curve ball and I have to re-learn what I thought I knew. I am mesmerized trying to learn their “language.” (I’m definitely not an expert at this especially lately…I’ve been quite distracted…but it is and always will be a hobby of mine:)

I have elementary school girls who beg with puppy-dog eyes for me to read with them. I have Lucy who is so cuddly and particular about bedtime routine: how many stories she gets, the order in which she does things, that I fall in love with her more every night and wish I could just curl up with her and listen to her breathe in my ear all night long. I have Dave who I long to just lay in bed and talk to after the kids drift off to dreamland.

And despite all the things that pull me away from this life right here and right now (and we all know there are a lot of them), I’m holding on to all that with all my might. And trying to find a balance. Because I like it here. A lot.

I know my babies will be gone before I can blink. Max’s cheeks are already hollowed out and there’s a hint of a mustache above his lip. His voice is as deep as velvet and I know his non-stop growing body will soon enough not be as welcoming to my hugs and requests for lunch dates. Elle’s huffs and eye-rolls mix in with her sweetness and turn her into more of a teenager every day and no matter how much of me I give to Grace, she needs more. Everyone needs parts of me and I feel as if I’m being tugged in every direction.

But I love it. I want with all my heart to be there for everything.

Along with that I have Young Women responsibilities that are never done and I’m out of town a lot…and I like to keep up this blog 🙂

So, long story short, as much as I love being with friends, I’m ok with hunkering down with my family for as much time as I can squeeze out right now. I know that “life is long” and that I’ll be able to be involved with friends more when I’m not so in the thick of things here. And I know we’ll pick up right where we left off.

I’m SO grateful for the influence that those friends have been and still are in my life. They have helped me become who I am and are still influencing so many of my choices and decisions for good. And even if it’s just book club or passing in the halls in church or a long phone call while I mop the floor, they are kindred spirits and I adore them.

Social outlets are so important, (especially for young mothers as far as I’m concerned), and I think every mother should find them conducive to each season of her mothering. My season just happens to be a “late fall” as far as hanging with friends goes for now and “full-summer” for my family.

If anyone is looking for a good social outlet that is productive and inspiring, start a book club or a “learning circle.” Those things make a world of difference.

I need more advice for young kids as I am only starting out as a mom and only have one! more advice on how to set up family traditions and rules for your little ones please!!!

My best simple advice would be to keep it simple. But click here for many more details on that question.

Happy weekend!

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  1. loved that!!
    K, what time do your kids go to bed at night, and what time do they wake.. and same question for you. Is the bedtime routine easy at your house? Do you read to all the kids before bed? ( max & Ella maybe excluded? LOL

  2. "My season just happens to be a "late fall" as far as hanging with friends goes for now and "full-summer" for my family." LOVE this. Happy Weekend!

  3. "and I love love love my friends, but I'm in a season of life right now when I feel like my family needs every bit of me I can give"

    As a childless woman, I have to say that you probably have no idea how much this hurts some of your friends!

    I'm not LDS, and I'm not in a circle of peers with large families, but I can tell you that I never feel so offended and marginalized as I do when my girlfriends with children "disappear".

    One by one they have babies and they drop off the face of the Earth, and suddenly my *real* value to them becomes painfully clear. I actually get sad at this point at every pregnancy announcement, because I know what's coming.

    Please don't just assume that you'll pick right back up with us when *you're* ready. If we're so unimportant during this "late fall" season that we don't even warrant a GNO or a lunch date, we might not be so inclined to fit *you* back into our lives when the last kid has left the house and you're suddenly available again.

    It's not a true friendship if effort doesn't flow both ways.

  4. mccxxiii….I am so sorry you feel this way about your friends with children. I am a mother of 5 and my friends are still incredibly important to me. I just have chosen a "career" path that I am on "task" 24/7 and unfortunately it doesn't leave much time for anything else (including sleep and exercise). It isn't that I don't love and cherish those friendships but I am consumed with my chosen life. I hope not to offend people with my lack of time, it is just where I am right now. I do try and keep in touch as much as possible through email/facebook and an occasional lunch etc and hopefully that is enough to sustain a true friendship until this season of my life is done.

  5. On a post last summer you wrote about your eyre girls trip and mentioned you shared things you had done for your husband during the year. I would love to hear more about what was shared. Thanks love your insights they get me thinking and trying to be a better mother, friend and wife.

  6. Thanks so much for the response concerning the terrible 2's. Since asking, she has come to learn that I do mean business. We bought a special timer for time-outs only. When she (or her sister) misbehave, she has to sit on her bed for one minute. Each time thereafter, she gets an additional minute added. It has worked really well. Also, she was a late talker so I feel like a lot of the acting out was in frustration of not being able to communicate with us like she wanted to. Thanks again for your response. I was the first of my friends to have children so it is hard to get advice at times! Have a great weekend!

  7. I love love your comment about being with your kids- so good and so true!!!

    However, if I had a huge family like yours, with my parents and extended family like you have- I would not need girlfriends too!

    You and your children are so blessed to be surrounded by so much family and cousins- such an amazing blessing!!!

    I love your desire for family and closeness- we need a lot more of that in our society!!!! I really appreciate your blog!!! Just realize that not everyone has the amazing family network that you have- so sadly our "friends" become our family especially during job transfers.

    Your trips with sisters in laws and your mom are such a blessing. But, since I don't have that, getting a coffee at night with a girlfriend is a needed activity to regroup and energize myself.

    Blessings…Sandy Toe

    Sandy Toe

  8. I wanted to ask you if you could recommend good point and shoot camera? What do you use? I tried looking through your blog to see if you had posted this info before, but couldn't find any point and shoot recommendations. I'd appreciate it!


  9. Awesome questions AND answers! I'm having a hard time balancing friends and family right now, but I think its because I know i'm not doing well with either one! Time to re-focus and re-prioritize. I think I might have to grab that 1-2-3 magic book, I NEED a new avenue for my discipline tactics. Thanks for the info Shawni!

  10. Our small family (one child, loving husband and gorgeous black pomeranean) are about to move into our new place, much larger and quieter neighbourhood. What suggestions do you have for establishing routines and traditions and for the mammoth task of moving house!

  11. Do you children's friends or peers ever read your blog? I am always surprised when I see a parent blog about their teens – it would be so easy for the other teens at school to find the blog and then make fun (or even worse – take an unhealthy interest). Do your teens worry about their privacy – or is that something that teens don't worry about anymore in the age of facebook, etc.?

  12. Seems like I'm not the only one wondering about your family bedtime routines! Do you put all the younger kids down at one time or do you take the time to read to them all separately? How long does it take you before they are all fast asleep and what are their bedtimes? Also, what time do they start their nightly routines?

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