Smells of the Season

I tried to get away with not making cutout cookies this year.


I had plans to make other cookies, but not those. I mean, gosh, they’re so time-consuming. And messy. You roll out the dough onto a flour-covered mat, press, unveil, scoop, repeat. Plus, with counter-space being a rare commodity these days, I justified we’d go without. Instead, I’d fill our cookie trays with other favorites. Even with two busy 19-month olds, I’ve been able to use their sleep time to create three other kinds!

But when I asked my husband which cookies he’d like, those were the only ones he mentioned. So guess what’s in the oven right now?

You know what, though? I’m so glad I did!

Rolling out the dough brought back so many memories of Christmases past. My two sisters and I would roll up our pajama sleeves and sit at the kitchen table where my mom had prepped a great spread of flour, cookie cutters and dough. We’d play with the chilled dough, adding flour like a pro, and prepped our trays, picking out our favorite cookie cutters and puzzling them together so there was little waste. When we finished a tray, we’d proudly parade our masterpiece to the oven and Mom would excitedly lift the oven door open after admiring our work. We’d go back to our station and continue the process, each time becoming better and better at lifting the frail dough without it falling into a million pieces.

As we’d bake, we’d sample our work, laugh, tell stories and talk about how excited we were for Christmas. We peeked into the oven to see if each batch was ready, getting hints from our mom to know when they’re just perfect. We decorated each cookie with painstaking effort (and sometimes, put a few aside to save for ourselves.) It was the only time we could throw flour into our sister’s hair without getting in trouble! Looking back, I know why so many of my friends wanted to come to my house, especially around the holidays. “Maybe your mom would let us make cookies!” Gee, whose friend are you anyway? But those were memories specific to my house. My kitchen. My mom.

So Mom, as I pull my first tray of cutouts out of the oven – with a touch of brown on the bottom, just how they’re supposed to be – this one’s for you. (Well, you and Andy :) Thanks for teaching me how to create the smells and magic of home.

It is going to be a very Merry Christmas.


Perspective in a Photo

And suddenly it's all worth it.
Jack and Ben, 19 months old

Being a (Godly) Boy

One of the reasons parenting is so exhausting is the fact that our little ones are learning. They're experimenting. They're seeing how things work and how they fit in. And in order to learn, they need to hear it, experience and DO it over and over and over and over again.

Because my boys are so active, I treasure the moments where it's quiet. When they're both sitting on my lap and reading a book. Thank God, they enjoy books! We do this every day before naptime and bedtime. One of our favorite books recently is "A Little Boy After God's Own Heart," by Jim & Elizabeth George. They also have one for girls. It was a baby shower gift from a dear friend with two little boys of her own. Andy and I love the emphasis on character traits and the pictures are beautiful (my boys love pointing out the dog, birds and teddy bear on each page!) But the boys seem to especially enjoy the rhyme. The book focuses on the fruits of the Spirit - love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These are two of my favorites: 

"I'm tired of waiting. Speed up! Come  on!"
Are the words of a boy whose patience is gone.
How can a guy wait when he's raring to go?
He asks God for patience and help to go slow.

When you're in a hurry, don't think of yourself.
Instead ask the question, "How can I help?"
Let God give you the patience for the needs of others,
Including your parents, sisters, and brothers.
Loud, rough, and rowdy describes most little boys.
They run, and they jump, and they scatter their toys.
But God's little boy is way different from these-
He's gentle and calm and puts people at ease.

Gentleness seems strange to an active young guy,
Who thinks being gentle shows weakness inside.
But gentleness is part of God's wonderful plan,
As boys use their strength to help where they can.
I want my boys know that it's okay to act like a boy. I want them to know that it's healthy to be active, adventurous and curious. But I also want them to know what it means to be a child of God. God's little boys can practice self-control and restraint as they mature and grow in Him.

Yes, I will probably go insane in the process - hiding my valuables, covering the hardwood floor with protective matts and keeping plenty of soft balls around the house - but I suppose I'll be in good company. Because as my husband teases me, there are some things that girls just can't understand :)


Testing the Limits

This age has got to be the most draining yet.

The boys are 19.5 months old and into eeeevvveeerrryyyttthhhiiinnnggg. And they're testing the limits. And they're experimenting with their abilities. And they're seeing just how much I'll let them get away with. Both of them. Simultaneously.

If Benjamin is going for the computer plug, I'll say, "No Benjamin, don't touch." Jack's head immediately turns - even if he's across the room - and he runs to the plug. Because, of course, he's got to see if the same rule applies to him. This is even MORE annoying when it involves something physical. If Jack is standing on my computer desk chair with the weight of his body pressed against the back, he knows he'll get reprimanded. I mean, that thing can just tip backward at any moment! But the second I say, "Jonathan, sit down please," Ben's little legs carry him as fast as they can to the chair so he can test it too. Ugh. Then I'm manhandling two toddlers off of the computer chair who are both trying to nose-dive onto the floor.

And they're using this against me, too.

If I'm doing something in the kitchen - blocked off and separate from them - they obviously don't like that. So they'll do something bad just because they know it will get my attention. They'll cry for a while. Sob. Real tears and everything, trying to get me to stop what I'm doing and hold them both so they can see what I'm doing. You all know how impossible this is (especially when I've got to be at MOPS in an hour and these cookies need to be put in a container and their juice packaged into their cooler.) You simply cannot hold two toddlers and get much of ANYthing done, so I continue to ignore them. Two more minutes, I tell myself, then they'll have my attention. But when this is taking too long, they take matters into their own hands. They grab something they know not to touch, bite their brother in the arm or begin to climb onto the dining room table.

When I run to discipline them, comfort their brother or get them back to safe grounds, I can't help but notice that little grin on their face as if to say, Well, at least I got your attention.

And don't underestimate them either. They may not be able to say more than 20 words, but they understand SOOOO much more. Tonight at dinner, Jack wanted my water bottle. Now he had been given his own water bottle - a smaller, fatter water bottle more suited to his needs. But he wanted mine. If this was a battle of wills, I. will. win. So I refused, offering him his bottle yet keeping it far enough away for him to swat at it to show his disapproval. I knew what he wanted, but I would not comply. I was determined for him to understand so I tried to identify the different bottles. "Jonathan, this is mommy's water," I said, pointing to my water bottle. "This one is Jonathan's," pointing to his. "You can have Jonathan's water bottle or you're all done. You can't have mommy's." I kept offering it to him with the same results. So I put them both on the table, away from his reach.

A few minutes later, he came to sit on my lap and pointed at my water bottle saying, "peez, peez, peez." I identified each of the bottles again and he still refused to drink his. I thought I might test him to see if and how much he was understanding. "Jack, which one is mommy's water bottle?" He pointed to mine. I looked at Andy - both of us were amazed. "And which one is Jonathan's water bottle?" He pointed to his. I did this a few times and each time, he idenfied the correct bottle. He understood that one was mine and one was his. He eventually gave in and drank from his bottle, but not until he was completely sure I wasn't giving in.

That little stinker.

I suppose this is all developmental. But geez, can it be over yet? Thank God they're only awake 9 hours of the day... I need the other 13 to summon enough energy to do it all again tomorrow!


A Myriad of Facebook Statuses

Perhaps this is just me.

I do know that I am weird. But I write about a 834 Facebook statuses every day. In my mind. All throughout the day. It's like I'm publishing a story in my head. Every single day. And I might publish one of them.

Perhaps this is just me.

Today has been a hectic day. A day that involved not going to our MOPS Christmas party because of the weather and then having my husband having to rescue us to take our boys to the pediatrician for what turned out to be a normal diaper rash. Crazy. Exhausting. And emotional.

Here are a few of the statuses that weren't written that might help describe a little of the drama from our day.
Mindy Sauer would have hoped for another hour in bed today.
Mindy Sauer is sorry we had to miss the MOPS Christmas party this morning. But on the bright side, she's got ten egg salad sandwiches already made for lunch!
Mindy Sauer is wondering when the appeal for these ornaments is going to wear off.

Mindy Sauer can't believe her boys like egg salad!

Mindy Sauer wishes she could take a nap. Perhaps she will. In just two... more... hours...

Mindy Sauer has never been more excited for nap time.

Mindy Sauer probably should call the pediatrician. Jack's rash seems to be getting worse.

Mindy Sauer is hoping Jack's rash is not infected.

Mindy Sauer was not excited about the conversation with the pediatrician. What do you mean you want me to come in? TODAY? In this weather? You've got to be kidding me.

Mindy Sauer is getting things packed up for a trip to the doctor. That means shoveling the driveway, stocking the van with everything we'd need if we got stranded and then waking up the boys for the dreaded trip.

Mindy Sauer is exhausted. Am I too old for naps?

Mindy Sauer is THRILLED! Andy is leaving work to take us to the pediatrician! And he's going to shovel! And he's going to drive! My hero.

Mindy Sauer is really wishing this would have happened another day.

Mindy Sauer is honestly amazed at her boys' taste for egg salad.

Mindy Sauer is on her way! We're going slow, but at least we're moving!

Mindy Sauer can't believe it took us 45 minutes to make a 20 minute commute.

Mindy Sauer is soooo relieved that Jack's rash isn't infected. On our way to buy more Desitin to help the healing!

Mindy Sauer really wishes she could take the rest of the day off.

Mindy Sauer is loving this egg salad!

Mindy Sauer is glad to be home, but wishing Andy didn't have to go back out again.

Mindy Sauer should probably start dinner.

Mindy Sauer is so much more aware of the "uh ohs" she hears when one of her sons is streaking, running loose around the house.

Mindy Sauer wonders when her boys will get sick of her carrying them around on her hip.

Mindy Sauer never realized she gave birth to monkeys. Two monkeys. Climbing, crawling and clawing their way up everything, including up to mommy.

Mindy Sauer is counting down the hours until bedtime.

Mindy Sauer wishes she hadn't sent the rest of that egg salad with Andy. I bet the boys would have cleaned that up!

Mindy Sauer really wishes her husband would have chosen a different night to work late. Of all days.

Mindy Sauer hates having to prepare a separate meal for her boys. Anyone else feel like they could get so much more done if they didn't have to prepare food for everyone everyday?

Mindy Sauer is relieved that Andy's home! Time for baths!
Mindy Sauer is so in love with her husband.
Mindy Sauer is going to blog, prepare tomorrow's lunch, shower and then it's bedtime!
Mindy Sauer should really start wrapping presents. But not tonight. No baking cookies either.

Mindy Sauer wonders why I don't get more sleep when the boys are sleeping more than 11 hours? Isn't there something wrong with this picture?
Mindy Sauer is sore. My arms. My back. My knees. Perhaps I should have started having kids a little sooner. These toddlers are literally wearing me out!
Mindy Sauer is going to bed. G'night!
Now, for those of you that are my Facebook friend, aren't you glad I'm selective in my postings? ;) And thank God for Facebook, the only chance we've got to talk about ourselves in the third person!


Top Ten Signs There's a Toddler in Your House around Christmas

10. The bottom half of your Christmas tree is bare and all of the ornaments are scattered throughout the living room. You found two of them hiding in the Diaper Champ.

9. You made your kids scrambled eggs, toast and strawberries for breakfast. You had Diet Coke.

8. Your tree is shedding and it’s not even real!

7. You wonder if other families have Little People hidden in their Christmas tree branches, too.

6. You walked right by your toddlers throwing their grapes on the floor because you saw it as a solid 5-minute Facebook break.

5. While you normally make ten different kinds of elaborate Christmas cookies, you’re thinking of scaling it down a bit. Perhaps you’ll make a bowl of Jello. But only if you find some time.

4. When someone calls to see what your toddlers want for Christmas, you look at all of the toys spewed through the house as well as the one you just stepped on and respond, “Nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

3. All morning, you look forward to their naptime so you could get work done. Then when they finally go down and it’s time to work, you’re too exhausted to do anything.

2. You just finish cleaning up from breakfast and begin to look through your Christmas cookie recipes and you realize it’s time to make lunch.

1. You wish there really was a Santa Claus... because he would be the one responsible for buying and wrapping all of the presents!


No Rest for the Weary

While reading "Toddlerwise" by Gary Ezzo tonight, I found these truths and thought they were worth sharing.
During the one-year span between 12 and 24 months, the walking, talking, exploring toddler multiplies the demands of mother's time, energy and patience more than any other period in his life (page 22.)
and then
There is no question that a toddler's mom is a tired mom, and for good reason. The emotional and physical energy needed to supervise an energy-packed tot can take down the most physically fit mom. If your toddler happens to be a boy, add fifty percent more energy. Never so beautiful does this child look to his weary mom as he does when he closes his eyes in sleep (page 23.)
And I've got two. Boys. Toddler twin boys.

Well, no wonder I sleep so well!


How I'm Saving Money on Gas

Did I find a new gas rewards program? No.

Did I get a new "in" with a fuel distributor? No.

Did I tap into a gold mine? No.

I'm not driving around while the boys nap!

While this may not seem like a big deal, allow me to explain what I've been doing for the past year (plus.) Every other Tuesday during the schoolyear, I go to my Mothers of Preschoolers group at my church. I love MOPS. In that first year, it was the ONLY time I was getting out on my own. To spend time with other moms. Even as the boys are 19 months old, I still love it. So it was always worth the extra effort of bundling and packing for two little boys as well as getting my butt out of the house.

The biggest challenge was their nap. They used to nap at 10am, then it was extended to 11am and now it's around 12pm. But because MOPS goes from 9:30-11:30am, they would always fall asleep in the van on the way home. Sigh. I didn't have a chance to keep them awake with a 25-minute commute. And if I woke them up when we got home (after carrying them upstairs to our apartment) they were done with their nap. Or they'd want to sleep again later that afternoon, ruining their bedtime... but it was worth going to MOPS, so I rationalized driving around with them in the van for an hour and a half while they slept. It was worth trying to keep their schedule intact.

Fast-forward the last two meetings. Now that my boys are soothing themselves to sleep during their afternoon nap (can I get an AMEN!?) I knew I could make the next transition. Plus, the snow was coming and I knew it would be a good time to get off the roads. So when my boys fell asleep on the way home, I let them. When we got home, though, I carried them up to their cribs (one at a time,) took off their coats and set them in their cribs. Yesterday, they were awake and sitting up. But I gave them a kiss and closed the door. They knew what they had to do. They fussed a little, but not for long. They gave up and allowed themselves to fall back asleep. Yesterday I had to wake them up because they were still asleep three hours later!

So, not only am I saving myself some aggravation, but I am allowing myself to get stuff done around the house while they sleep and saving some gas money. And as I prepare for Christmas while still trying to manage some sense of sanity, that's huge.

I'm taking one step at a time. And making some progress!


Breathe In, Breathe Out

I had my first panic attack last night.

Well, at least I think it was a panic attack.

I have been going in a million directions, prepping things for the holidays while also trying to maintain regular life. I'm sure you have, too. Yesterday was crazy. I woke up knowing I had to be productive (and I prayed my boys would comply!) Things went well and I got everything done on my list that I "had" to get done yesterday. But at the end of the night, I was increasingly overwhelmed by everything more I had to do.

But the more I thought about what I had to do, the more overwhelmed I became. I shut down the computer and decided it was better for me to turn off my brain and just go to bed.

Yeah, like I've ever been able to do that.

So instead, I sat on the bed (I was too wound up to even lie down) and verbally went through my exhaused list of things I had to do. Andy listened. Poor guy, he's been here many times before. As my list grew, I kept making up things. Things that I hadn't thought of for a while but all of a sudden, I decided they had to get done! And this week, of all times!

The more I went on, the more excited I got and the harder it was to breathe. I literally felt like someone was sitting on my chest, cutting off my air. I couldn't get a good breath. I stood up and tried to increase my air flow. No luck. It felt like I was going to suffocate. My husband noticed something wasn't quite right, so he encouraged me to sit down against the wall and breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out... Breathe in. Breathe out.

So not only do I have a gazillion things floating around in my head - a million loose ends that feel like they are unraveling before my eyes - but I'm getting a lesson how to breathe. Rather than snapping his head off, I decided to listen. I tried to yawn, knowing it would give me a deep breath. "No Mindy," Andy kept saying. "Just breathe."

Well, as it turns out, he was right. I tried to regulate my breathing and asked him to talk. "Just talk to me," I said. "Tell me anything. What else is going on at work." Andy complied - still visibly concerned about his wife's inability to control the air around her - but told me more about his day. And do you know what happened? The moment I started thinking about something other than myself and everything I had to do, I could breathe. I was fine. Competely fine.

Today, I still feel a tightness in my chest that I can only imagine has to do with the weight of things I still have to do. But it doesn't take me long to get back to normal. I'm much better than how I felt for those few minutes last night. Here's what I learned: this has less to do with breathing and more to do with me being overly concerned with ME.

I got myself so wound up thinking about everything I had to do that my body couldn't even take it. It was as if that was my subconscious attempt to say, "Listen to yourself! There are other people to think about than YOU!" How interesting, that I could breathe when I started feeling empathetic for my husband's day rather than exaggerating my agenda.

I am now going to make a renewed mission to take it easy this holiday season. I'll still work hard to see that everything that reeeeeally has to get done, get's done, but I'm not going to make myself sick about it. Because literally, I've been there. And I don't want to go there again.

So, I'm going to breathe in, breathe out... breathe in, breathe out... ;)