The Book that Single-handedly Ended Preschool Drop-off Tears… and Almost Solved World Peace

At the beginning of the year Doodlebug started a Mother’s Morning Out program and he seemed to enjoy the activities his class did there, but he cried (read: weeping and gnashing of teeth) every time I dropped him off. It was hard. 

When we returned to our home, Hubby and I knew we wanted him to go to local preschool to learn the local language and make some friends. We knew this time away (three mornings a week) would be helpful to him but I found myself DREADING the drop off.

Enter the miracle drop-off book, Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney.


We love Llama Llama Red Pajama and have read it to our kids since Ladybug was a tiny thing. It’s a cute story with a good rhythm and it’s just plain fun to read out loud.

I didn’t realize there were other llama llama books, but somehow through our move we obtained a copy of Llama Llama Misses Mama (if you’re our real life friend and it’s yours– sorry about that! But seriously, I owe you a coffee… or ten!)

Anyhow, the book is about little llama starting school and he’s so sad and misses his mama while he’s there. Then he starts realizing that school is fun and (SPOILER ALERT) his mom comes back to pick him up! Little llama learns is OK to love mama and school too.

I know, not real earth-shaking, right? Whatever man, it worked! Doodlebug and I have read the book probably 50 times in the past few months (hours on the potty during potty-training) and when we started dropping him off at his new school, we would talk about llama and how he had fun and then his mama came back. No tears! Absolute brilliance! Thanks Ms. Dewdney!

This morning I walked the boys to school and Doodle held up one finger asking me to wait while his teacher took his backpack and shoes off (yes, they wear slippers in school!) and then he ran over to me at the door and said, “Mama llama you come back?”

Yes, baby llama, Mama llama will always come back for you.

Two: The Real Deal

You know when you see all these fantastically inspiring family portraits on Pinterest and so you decide to get some of your crew for your living room wall?And you wait for the perfect weather and pick out clean, relatively unwrinkled clothes for everyone… And then your two year old single-handedly foils all your best laid plans?

Yea, that.

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Parentin’ in my Hood Today

My baby is almost two.

I would deny it and continue to pretend he’s just a “baby” but lately he’s been acting like a demon two.

I’ve had two year olds before… I’m not sure if they are just making them more {crazy hyper into-things curious naughty} nowadays or what, but Y’ALL. Two might just turn my whole head gray this go ’round.

Let me give you a little run down of Doodlebug’s day:

8:30am We take Lady and Stink to their new school orientation. Doodle fusses to be released from his prison stroller and commences to run up and down and up and down the cement steps (falling twice). Then he sees some bigger kids (unwisely) sliding down a ramp on their feet and attempts to follow suit. He is grabbed just before busting his head wide open.

9:15am I go in Stinkbug’s classroom and try to listen to his teacher welcome the class/explain the supply list/calm the anxious mothers. Doodlebug’s activity in the classroom can be better summed up in art:

9:42am After trying to climb up the slide the wrong way on the playground and almost being slid over by a big kid, I wrestle Doodlebug into the stroller. (Read: wrestle. It is a full-on body effort using my elbow to fold his mid-section so he bends enough for me to buckle him in.)

10:02am I stop by the grocery to pick up a few things for dinner. Doodlebug SCREAMS through the entire store. He removes both his shoes and throws them at innocent bystanders (Ladybug, Stinkbug and me) and creates enough racket that store employees start grabbing my items to help me move more quickly out of the store. He is literally foaming at the mouth at this point. I start to wonder if it’s rabies.

10:13am Walking home and Doodle is STILL SCREAMING. I pass an old lady who stares at him and then asks, “Why is he screaming?” I don’t stop to chit chat.

10:23am After amazingly enough making it home with all my groceries and kids, I speak with Doodlebug about the ridiculousness of his behavior and leave him in his room in time out to calm down. I hear him rolling around and screaming on the floor. I turn my attention to Pinterest to wait him out.

11:01am I realize it’s quiet. This is not good in the Land of Two.

11:02am I find this:



12:20pm Doodlebug casually rolls up in the kitchen where I am making lunch as if nothing happened earlier in the day. Hmph.

1:35pm We are school supply shopping for the older two. Doodle is riding quietly in his stroller. (Did I mention quiet is NOT A GOOD THING?!) I realize he has pulled a marker off a low shelf and covered his arms and his beloved blanket with graffiti. He looks pleased with himself. Maybe he’ll be an artist?

2:55pm I find Doodlebug under the dining room table disassembling a fabric-covered bulletin board I made earlier in the day. His hands are full of thumb tacks. Niiice.

4:30pm Temper tantrum while Hubby’s on duty. Rolls under bed during tantrum. Hubby captures the moment forever. We are such good parents.

6:53pm Dinner is over but the table has not been cleaned off. I am helping the older kids with something in the living room when my radar goes off (Doodle was being too quiet…again) I find him in the kitchen, pouring leftover soup and milk between assorted bowls and cups left from dinner. Maybe he will be a chemist?

6:57pm I find Doodle in the bathroom with my makeup bag open and my powder brush out and soaking wet. I seriously hope it’s wet from the sink and not the toilet. I put Doodlebug at the table with his siblings to play with play dough.

7:13pm I answer the phone and chat with my friend for a few minutes about our days, Hubby comes home from a errand and I hear, “Unsupervised play dough?! Really???” I laugh realizing what a mess Doodlebug must be, but I’ll let Hubby deal with him this time!

7:47pm Getting the kids ready for bed, we find play dough crusted on Doodlebug’s face. Cool.

8:07pm The almost-two-year-old is in bed. We need to put the house back together and fortify it. Who knows what tomorrow will bring…



I seem to find our third-born in a lot of naughty messy interesting circumstances lately. Tonight I walked into the kitchen to find this– unlucky for me, he’s learned how to climb up to the table by himself, so nothing is “safe” by just setting it up on the table. 
One night Doodlebug walked into the living room chowing on a lollipop he had fished out of the trash that was covered in hair. (And that’s not the only instance when I’ve discovered Doodlebug eating from the trash.)
I swear, I feed this kid three meals a day plus snacks!
Another day recently, I was sitting on the couch, and he walked up and put the toilet cleaning brush on my lap with a triumphant grin. After gagging, and washing all of his extremities (and mine), I declared that the bathroom doors must be kept SHUT so that Doodlebug could not access the limitless “toys” bathrooms contain.

Good thing he’s cute.

Random Schmattering: Single Parent Edition

Caution: this post contains a lot of potty-talk. If poop and pee bother you, click away, quick!
  • Hubby is out for the week, helping with some disaster relief projects in another city. I am so proud of my husband, and I love his genuine desire to serve others, but y’all— this single parenting thing is not for the faint of heart! Seriously. I don’t think there’s enough coffee in the entire world for this job solo.
  • On a related note: my children are sinners. Amen. (Of course, they get it from they mama…)
  • Tonight (a mere five hours after purchasing a Congrats-you’re-really-potty-trained present for Stinkbug) he pooped in his underwear. And not a nice, clean poop either. Blame the single parenting gig, or my gag reflexes, or just plain laziness, but I threw the poopy underwear into a grocery bag, tied it off, and threw it away. (I’ve also been known to do the same for Tupperware I find in the fridge and just can’t stomach tackling.) Don’t judge.
  • Speaking of the potty… the other night I found Doodlebug playing in a toilet full of pee that his brother did not flush. I fished this toy out of the potty:
After I gagged and washed it thoroughly and then washed it again. I just had to laugh. Did you get it? “Piston”… and it was literally “pissed on”. Hahahahahahahahaha. I need coffee.
  • Also speaking of the potty, I found this in Doodlebug’s diaper the other day:
I’m not really sure how that happened. And I choose to believe that it somehow just got in his diaper without traveling the entire length of his digestive tract… it might take the cake for the weirdest item I’ve ever found in a diaper. 
  • I am tired and ready for my husband to come home. And I can’t wait to go out by myself once he’s home and drink a coffee (or seven) and just exist in silence alone for awhile… but really, I do love my kids. Sometimes I happen upon a moment of sibling endearment and I just stop and wonder at the gift that is these three precious little souls in my care…
Of course, ten minutes later they’re snatching and snitching and hanging on my legs crying while I cook dinner, and then refusing to eat the dinner I make because it’s “yucky”… But really, I do love them. Really. (And what would my blog be without their antics????)

All Three Baby Bug Names

I have loved every second of picking names for my Bugs.  When I saw Amy’s post about Naming Babies, it made me want to share about our name choices for Ladybug and Stinkbug last year as we waited for Doodlebug to arrive. I have redone this post to include our sweet third baby!

Olivia Grace

(Olive tree, Unmerited favor)

But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever. (Psalm 52:8)

When I was newly pregnant, I was reading verses and passages in Scripture about the blessing of children.  I read Psalm 128, which states that children will be like “olive plants” around the table.  That verse cross referenced Psalm 52:8 in my Bible, and I fell in love with the name Olivia, since it meant “olive tree”.  What a perfect verse for my daughter– I desire that she would be content to dwell in the Lord’s presence, and I pray that she will always trust in His steadfast love.

Olivia being four syllables meant (for me) that we needed a succinct middle name, so her name would just flow.  (OK, so I’m a little nuts-o about the sound of names!)  I think Grace is a beautiful name, and even more beautiful is the meaning that “grace” or “unmerited favor” holds for me and Hubby.  God has given us so much grace in our years on this earth, Olivia’s middle name is a tribute to His graciousness.

Hudson Isaiah

(Bright in mind and spirit, Salvation is from the Lord)

Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26)

When Hubby and I were in college, we spent a summer working with students in China.  In preparation for the trip we read Hudson Taylor’s biography.  We were both impressed with the man Hudson Taylor was and once we were married and pregnant, decided we liked Hudson as a boy’s name.  The passage above from Psalm 73 epitomized to us not only how Hudson Taylor lived his time here on earth, but how we desire our son to live– desiring Christ above all else.  So we chose it as Hudson’s life verse.  (The actual meaning of Hudson is “son of Hugh” or “son of the hooded man”, and Hugh means “bright in mind and spirit”, hence the meaning above.)

Isaiah is our favorite book of the Old Testament, and we liked how it sounded with Hudson as a middle name.  When you add that Isaiah means “salvation is from the Lord”, how could we not choose this name for our first son?

Jackson Luke

(Gracious gift of God; Light)

But as for me, <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AT)”>the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AU)”>refuge,
That I may <sup class="xref" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="(AV)”>tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:28)

When we were choosing boy names, I had lists of names I liked and Hubby could not agree to any of them. Until I read “Jackson” and he said, “I like Jackson”. It seemed like one of the few names we could agree on, and I liked both our boys’ names ending with “son”. I love that Jack means “gracious gift of God”. I was pregnant and miscarried in January 2010… in March I was having health issues and before going to see the doctor took a pregnancy test just to be sure it wasn’t that. Lo and behold it was positive! Jackson was God’s gracious gift right after my miscarriage. I didn’t even know about him until I was 10 weeks pregnant.

Luke is such a sweet boy’s name, and we both love the Gospel of Luke. Jackson Luke truly is a light in our family and we are so glad to have him as part of us! His verse was chosen on his birthday as it was the only verse I could recall during his C-section. Just as the nearness of God was my good that day, I pray that Jackson would always seek to be near to the Lord.

One Last Bug Birth

I posted Lady and Stink’s birth stories last year, and in honor of Doodle’s first birthday (OHMYWORDHOWISTHATPOSSIBLE?), here is the story of how Doodlebug arrived.

Since my first two kids were born by C-section, another C-section was scheduled for me for October 11, 2010 at 39 weeks.  During Doodle’s pregnancy, I just had this feeling that my water was going to break, and I was going to have an “early” baby, but I was trying not to get my hopes up about getting out of the last few weeks of misery pregnancy.
All day the Wednesday before my scheduled date, I felt crampy and experienced contractions.  Nothing too major, but it was enough to make me wonder what was going on with my body.  Having never gone into labor on my own, I wasn’t sure what to think.  In the afternoon, the contractions stopped, and I figured it had all been another bout of Braxton Hicks. 
That evening, Hubby and I were watching a movie and took a break to make some caramel popcorn.  (Yum!)  I went to the bathroom and noticed I was leaking a little, but honestly I thought I was suffering from a weak bladder—I have had three kids in just over three years!  I mentioned it to Hubby, but told him I wasn’t concerned, and would just keep an eye on it.  I didn’t notice anything else unusual that night, so we went to bed and I slept SO well!  Seriously, when I opened my eyes and realized I had slept soundly for more than six hours, my thought was I am probably going to have a baby today and that will be my last good night’s sleep for awhile!
Thursday morning was pretty normal.  Ladybug went to preschool, I fed Stinkbug and myself breakfast and got us both dressed and ready for the day.  I started putting away and organizing the kids’ clothes since fall had arrived with cooler weather (Praise the Lord!  Pregnancy during the summer is awful!) 
At some point in the morning, I noticed the same wetness in my underwear, and debated back and forth about whether I should keep writing it off as nothing, or tell Hubby that he needed to come home so we could go to the doctor to have it checked out.  (At the end of my pregnancy with Lady I thought I may be leaking amniotic fluid, so we went in and it ended up being nothing, so in the back of my mind I was thinking it would be nothing this time too.)
Around noon I got lunch ready for us, and about twenty until one, I started pulling out the stroller and getting ready to walk to Lady’s school to pick her up.  All of the sudden, the stroller collapses when Stink tries to crawl up into it.  I hear the clink of metal and a screw and a plastic piece are laying on the floor underneath the stroller.  I have NO clue what happened, but my stroller is now useless and I have to pick my daughter up from preschool in twenty minutes.  Lady’s school is a ten-ish minute walk from our house, and we have to cross a busy street.  I wasn’t sure I could make it there and back with Stinkbug and Ladybug having to walk, so I panicked a little.  I called Hubby and told him I was still leaking something and the stroller was broken and I wasn’t sure how I was going to get our daughter from school. (There were probably a few tears involved in this conversation.)

I knocked on a neighbor’s door to see if they would watch Stinkbug for a few minutes while I went to get Ladybug, but no one was home.  I called my friend, Suz, who has a car, and explained what was going on and asked if she would come and get me and drive me to pick Ladybug up. 
As I was hanging up the phone with Suz (we had walked outside at this point), I glanced up just in time to see Stinkbug, who had run ahead of me to the front gate, run through the front gate and towards the busy street in front of our building!  My heart stopped beating and I screamed Stinkbug’s name.  Thankfully, we have worked hard to train our kids to obey right away and he turned around and came right back to me.  I scooped him up and started weeping.  I have never felt like that in all my life.  I absolutely, totally, completely lost it. I felt so emotional and out-of-control of every aspect of my life at that moment.  I remember thinking Watch me have a baby today when everything feels so out of my control…
Suz came and took us to Lady’s school and I asked her to call my doctor for me to explain what was happening since her language is better than mine (who am I kidding, at this point in my day, I could hardly speak English, forget trying to explain something in the local language).  The receptionist told her that I should come on in, so Hubby came home from class, we laid the kids down for a nap (Suz graciously agreed to sit at the house with the kids) and headed to the doctor’s office.  I told Suz as we were leaving that we would probably be right back because it was nothing, and I thought it was silly that Hubby wanted to put our hospital bags in the car with us.
At the doctor’s office, they collected and tested the fluid, and declared it was amniotic fluid.  A quick ultrasound showed that my water had broken and fluid was missing from around Doodlebug.  My doctor patted my hand and said, “Your baby is coming today.”  I felt out-of-control again.  I hadn’t finished putting the kids’ fall clothes away and they were in a pile on the floor.  I hadn’t prepared anything for dinner for the kids.  I didn’t even hug and kiss them extra hard when we left.  I wasn’t prepared to have a baby today!
The doctor told us to meet him at the hospital, so off we went.  Once there Hubby disappeared to fill out some forms and pay, and I was taken to a room where the poking and prodding and questioning began.  Except they were asking me questions in the local language.  And my brain was not recalling very much of the local language.  I had been told there were English speakers working a the hospital—if there were, they stayed out of sight.  

One of the nurses wanted to know my height in meters, and I told her I didn’t know it in meters and all the nurses in the room exchanged a look and a giggle.  I felt very vulnerable and alone.  Luckily Hubby appeared in the room with me pretty quickly.
We asked about Hubs coming into the OR with me and were told no.  I started crying (really I couldn’t help it at this point, my emotions were so up and down from the whole day’s events!) and I think the nurses had some pity on me when they saw my tears, and started treating me a little more gently.
I was changed and put onto a bed and kissed by Hubby and wheeled to the elevator and taken downstairs to the OR.  The OR had a funny smell, and one guy working in there had an even funnier smell.  He was supposed to hold me still while they inserted the epidural and it was not pleasant.
The only verses that I could conjure to mind were part of Psalm 23 (I had just read it a few days prior) and Psalm 73:28 The nearness of God is my good. I kept repeating those verses to myself and pleaded with the Lord to remind me of His presence.
I felt very out-of-control of everything around me (are you sensing a trend in my day?!) and as they had me lie on my back I was having trouble getting a good, deep breath.  Someone noticed, and they slipped an oxygen mask on me.  As I started breathing freely, a sense of peace washed over me.  It was like God whispered in my ear I’m here, My nearness is your good.  Don’t worry, child.
At some point a sweet nurse who knew a little English started whispering to me about what was happening… Her name was Meleck, which means “angel” in the local language—how true her name was!  I felt such a comfort from hearing her voice and reassuring words.  After Doodlebug was born she even brought him right over to me and shooed the other nurses away saying, “His mother needs to be the first to kiss him.”
Doodlebug was born at 4:43pm on October 7, 2010.  He weighed 8 pounds 3 ounces and 19 2/3 inches long.
Really everything felt OK after the oxygen was flowing to me from the mask and God’s presence felt so real and near.
Doodlebug was wheeled upstairs to his daddy who was waiting in my room.  The doctors finished working on me and I was wheeled back upstairs too.
Doodlebug’s birthday was a true test in relying on the Lord’s strength and not my own, or my husband’s.  I had no control over most of the things that went on that day, and I had to face the C-section without Hubs (or anyone I even knew for that matter) by my side.  God proved Himself faithful, however, and was beside me the entire day.

I am so thankful for the experience of having Doodlebug overseas. It was scary and overwhelming at points, but the Lord was so kind and gracious to me through it all.

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Doodlebug!