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Last night my family attended our usual church service, and considering it was our weekend to usher as a family, we all (well, most of us) had taken a few minutes to look extra nice. Ty and Chase were decked out in sport coats, ties, and slicked over hair, and I was in something presentable, as was Nick. Jackson was the lone wolf in his athletic pants and fleece. Ha! Some battles just aren’t worth fighting though, am I right? {Lily was in the nursery, for those wondering where she was in this picture of put-togetherness.}

As I stood there, watching my oh-so-well-behaved boys smiling and greeting people coming into the sanctuary, something struck me….

We’re really good at pulling off the So Well Behaved, Put Together Family look. I mean, really good at it. Can I tell you what happened before church?

Before church the behavior of my children made me cry.


It’s been approximately 10 days straight of battles. While the stubborn streak in Lily is strong (holy cow, 4 year old girls!), the temperament on the boys right now is insane. They melt down at the drop of a hat (and over the most ridiculous things!), they argue like arguing is going out of style, they fight with us, they’re disrespectful (and honestly, I think sometimes they don’t realize they are – we’re having a big discussion on that today), and they’re just not pleasant to be around.

Crazy In My HouseI’ve been ready to run away multiple times this last week.

What’s interesting is virtually all of that crazy is reserved for the walls of our house. Teachers would never believe my sweet boys could behave like that. Adults at church would never believe it. People at Target wouldn’t believe it either (unless they somehow remember my boys as 3 year olds, but that’s really not fair).

In public, we’re a model family. In private, we’re a hot mess.

Last night I told Nick I’m experiencing the same level of “tired” as I did when the boys were 3 years old. It’s pure exhaustion from being emotionally played all day long, every stinking day. I feel like I ran a half marathon, yet all I’ve done is deal with cranky 8 year olds and an ornery 4 year old occasionally (oh yes – Lily has had some moments too, as seen on my Instagram feed last week). I’m completely worn out and just DONE.

The first time I cried yesterday was when I was on the phone with my sister. I burst into tears as I told her how terrible things had been, and that I didn’t know what else to do, and how Nick and I must have royally messed up somewhere along the way. “Don’t have kids!”, I said jokingly, but probably didn’t sound like a joke because I was crying.

I didn’t mean it, Laura. I need more babies in my life! {wink}

As the movie Inside Out teaches us, sadness is a necessity in our life. It teaches us to appreciate those joyful moments even more! The challenge of outsmarting and parenting a bunch of children is filled with so many peaks and valleys that I can’t keep track.

I love these little people fiercely, even when I feel like a failure of a mama and therefore want to quit. Thankfully, they love me fiercely too, even when I mess up and yell so much that my throat hurts.

Last night, during the sermon, our pastor told us to ask ourselves the question “Is the world a more loving place because I am here?”. Yes. Yes it is. Even though there’s a heck of a lot of crazy happening in my house lately, I am doing my best to teach my children love, and I know they’re learning it based on how they act in public. “Loving” is definitely a word many use to describe my children, and for that I am so proud and grateful. The world is more loving because I am here, and it will continue to be more loving because my children are here.

Nobody said parenting would be easy, but they definitely never tell you just how hard it is. We’re grateful our kids know how to behave for other people, and are glad they reserve the worst of the worst behavior for us. They know they can be real and let their guard down at home, now the trick is teaching them appropriate ways to deal with that frustration.

Ahh, parenting. For now we’ll continue to try to minimize the crazy in our house, and just teach our children how to love, because love is something that will always be needed in the world.

  • December 6, 2015 - 7:28 pm

    Emily Dahlke - My 8 year old boy cries over EVERYTHING. His 6 year old brother has just started the crying too. Add in their 4 year old sister and you would think we spend our days planning ways to ruin their lives. At least my youngest two still love me.ReplyCancel

  • December 6, 2015 - 8:12 pm

    Gina Taldo - My thoughts exactly. I’ve totally felt like running away lately. We are in the process of moving to Olathe. We’ve never moved the kids before. It is not pretty right now between all the extra holiday stuff, packing, & buying/selling a home. The ugly behaviors are showing up a lot!!ReplyCancel

  • December 6, 2015 - 8:57 pm

    Jennifer Miller Johnson - I hear you, I’ve been exhausted lately – the constant bickering has me about ready to go over the edge. And I only have 2 so I can’t imagine having to deal with that x 2. But last night as we were sitting in church, I saw your boys ushering & it made me think of Family Advent Night when one of them walked up to us at the cookie station. They said, I have a couple questions for you, “Which do you like better – giving or getting?” And as I watched them ushering, I thought to myself “these boys are going to do big things in their life.” I marvel at your parenting & how you are teaching them to love & serve others so well. And when Pastor Adam asked that question, I immediately thought of you. You amaze me, friend – thanks for being a great example to us all. And thanks for keeping it real! And hooray for Monday tomorrow! 😉ReplyCancel

  • December 7, 2015 - 10:34 am

    Susan - I haven’t posted here in along time…honestly I haven’t kept up with your blog. I’ll be going back to read and see how big the kids have gotten!
    My boys are 13 and 11 and I just said the other day how I feel as if they are 5 and 3. Somehow they have regressed! The fighting is non-stop, they are not kind to each other and not always to us. I’m hoping it’s just a season; a teen/tween thing. There are times, albeit few and far between, where they get along. Just wishing for more!
    You have to deal with 3 at the exact same age! Wishing I had some wisdom or advice. But, if I did I’d likely be worth a fortune!ReplyCancel

    • December 7, 2015 - 2:12 pm

      Helen - Yes, if you had wisdom and advice on this, you’d clearly be rich! Hang in there, Susan! Hopefully your boys come out of this phase soon.ReplyCancel

Almost a year and a half ago, Nick and I both had a “man, our kids (especially the boys) are growing up so fast all of a sudden!” thoughts. People warned us. When they get into school – watch out! Time will really fly then!

People weren’t kidding!

When we realized we’d had virtually the same thoughts at the same time, we brought up the dream vacation to Disney World in Florida. We’d only been talking about it for over 4 years. Every time we’d brought it up in the past, we would half-heartedly deposit some money into a savings account, and that would be it. We had saved a whopping $500 so far. Hmmm…. that doesn’t buy a family of 6 much fun at Disney!

We knew we needed to get serious, and we needed to do it now. So we set up a plan, and saved, and scrimped. 15 months after starting our plan, we woke the kids up and whisked them off!

I’m so glad we kept this a secret the entire time! It involved not telling many people at all about our trip (we were too afraid the cover would be accidentally blown), and our four kids didn’t even know we were traveling anywhere, let alone Disney World. The looks on their faces made it all worth it though!


The trip was amazing, and we’re all wishing we could have stayed longer and/or go back again soon. We were asked this morning to please start saving for another trip today, so that we can go back again in 18 months.

Fun pictures will be blogged very soon, but for now, watch this video of us surprising the kids with their first visit to Walt Disney World! 

Yesterday was the boys’ 8th birthday party (their birthday was on Thursday). We had a ball climbing and playing on an awesome playground, and then we all (15 second graders, plus some siblings and parents) gathered in a gazebo for some amazing pizza (pizza so amazing I wrote about it on my photography blog), cake and presents.

A funny thing happened during the cake part…. No, not that the song turned into a big jumbled mess when everyone tried to list off 3 names – that always happens (file that under the hashtag #TripletProblems). This funny thing was courtesy of the boys’ 2.5 year old cousin.

Amazingly enough, I was actually taking video instead of still pictures, so now all of you can experience the silliness! Pay close attention to Jackson (far left) and his little cousin….

Ah, goodnatured Jackson! She really picked the best cousin to do that to. I love how he just looks at her, and then looks around to see if anyone else saw what she’d done (and I don’t think many had), and then smiles. What a guy!

Don’t worry – we re-lit his candles so he could blow them out and have his wish {wink}