20 Lessons I Learned From Parenting

Lessons in Parenting

This post is also featured on the Huffington Post.

I am a mom juggling three kids these days.

And I literally mean “juggling.” Toting a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 7-year-old, plus all their diapers, sippy cups, and random toys, is the equivalent of carrying around 50-lb weights while running a marathon. People ask me how I stay in shape, and I say, “Jillian Michaels DVDs,” but I actually mean, “My three children.”

So then, I am now armed with lots of parenting wisdom, which I will pass off to you.

1. Kids will play peacefully for a maximum of 2 1/2 minutes. After that, crying will begin because someone got hurt or someone needs something.

2. Always carry wipes, band-aids, Purell, and emergency snacks.

3. The moment kids are dressed in their “nice” clothes is the moment juice will spill or a poop explosion will occur.

4. Stale Cheerios found under the table are an acceptable adult lunch.

5. Do not allow glitter in the house. Ever.

6. If you ever have the impression that you have time to take a shower, use the bathroom, or fix yourself a meal, you are about to be proved wrong.

7. Bribery with candy is a fine survival tactic.

8. Don’t wear white until your kids grow up and move out.

9. Kids will need the most attention when you are on the phone. That’s why texting was invented.

10. The more you are trying to hurry, the more kids will dawdle and get distracted. Children interpret “Come on, let’s go!” as “Now is a great time to look for that one missing toy.”

11. Daily baths are unnecessary.

12. If one kid is napping, the other kid is awake. They stagger their naps on purpose.

13. It’s okay to have “movie day” so you can get things done.

14. No matter how much you vacuum, babies will find tiny, unidentifiable items to stick in their mouths.

15. Unless you want to say, “No” a thousand times, stay far away from the toy aisles in Target.

16. Make friends with people who are okay with you showing up late.

17. A messy house, undone dishes, and unkempt hair are allowed.

18. Sometimes parents need a time out.

19. A cardboard box and pens make a great afternoon activity. Finger paint, not so much.

20. Vital parenting tools include: iPhones, a helpful spouse, second (or third) cups of coffee, and a good sense of humor.

The Pain and Joy of Motherhood


Motherhood is weird, messy, wonderful, and everything in between.

Some people have painful memories and wounds from their relationship with their mothers. Some people have abiding joy when they think of their mothers. Some people long to become a mother, and are still waiting. Some people choose to mother in other ways – through being teachers, aunts, neighbors.

I have had a myriad of experiences as a mother.

I have the joy of raising my three children. Some moments with them are beautiful and fun. Other moments I want to cry and yank my hair out. Motherhood brings out the best in me, as well as the worst. Some days I feel like I’m in the Mom Zone, doing a great job of parenting. Other days it’s a hot mess and I completely fail.

I also have the pain of losing two children through early-pregnancy miscarriages. It is painful to never hold or know these two babies. But oh how my mother’s heart holds them with such deep love.

I’m trying my best as a mother. I’m trying my best to love and cherish and nurture my children. But I’m also being schooled by motherhood. It’s the place where I am still learning and stumbling. Ultimately, I believe that motherhood is a gift I have been given. I don’t get to control how it all goes. But I do get to learn how to steward it the best that I possibly can. And as I do, my heart is stretched and my love is refined.

I embrace the laughter and the tears. I embrace the beautiful moments and the awful moments. In both the pain and the joy, I embrace motherhood.




10 Things I Learned in April


At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present. In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. Moving from Blogger to WordPress is a pain, but worth the work.

I finally sucked it up, and said goodbye to Blogger, home of The Larissa Monologues since it’s beginning in 2007. It took lots of work to import and edit, but I am so glad I made the change. Blogger was fine for a while, but it was time for me to move to a more helpful and functional platform.

2. People really like dessert recipes.

According to my site stats, these are the three highest performing recipes:

Macadamia Nut Shortbread
Haupia Squares
Chinese Almond Cookies

Speaking of recipes, check out my new, easy to browse Recipe Page with over 200+ tested and approved recipes. You can also follow my recipe board on Pinterest.

3. Always ALWAYS put clothes on a baby before he or she naps.

I made the horrible mistake of putting our 1-year-old down for a nap wearing only her diaper. An hour later, we discovered her naked in her crib, poop-filled diaper off, and poop smeared EVERYWHERE. Her crib, her face, her body. Lesson learned. And no, there is no photo of this horrendous event.

4. I have a severe inability to say no to Jehovah’s Witnesses who show up at our door.

Though I am not interested at all in reading Watchtower pamphlets, I smile and nod and act all engaged with the evangelists that show up regularly at the door. And of course now they think of me as a potential convert. It has gotten so bad, we have a strategy for next time. Steve talks and says no. I stand there silently.

5. Silpat silicone baking mats will burn under extreme heat. 

I learned this awesome lesson while trying to make nachos in the oven. I accidentally left the pan of cheese and chips WAY too long in the broiler, and came back to an oven fire. Thankfully, no one was hurt besides the very charred pan and silicone mat.

6. I am really enjoying having a life coach. 

I have lots of creativity and ideas, and constantly wonder what I should work on next. My life coach is so great at helping me move toward my goals and actually execute them.

7. Loving others in times of grief often means doing simple things without many words.

People in pain do not need to hear things like “Everything happens for a reason,” or “At least you have ____.” Those words are usually spoken from your own fear or discomfort, and really unhelpful to the person dealing with the situation. As their friend who cares, a better thing to say is, “I am so sorry. I’m here for you. Is there any way I can help?”

8. If you host lots of gatherings, you need these plastic food baskets.

Whenever we have potlucks or parties, we use picnic food baskets lined with sheets of wax paper liners. They are fun, easy to reuse, and create less trash than paper plates.


9. It is exhilarating and terrifying to ask your hairstylist to give you a buzz cut. 

For my most recent trim, I got an undercut beneath my short pixie. The sensation of clippers buzzing through my hair was oddly relaxing.

10. Our household goes through an insane amount of milk.

You know how there’s that one item you run out of before anything else? Yeah, that’s milk for us. I now buy two gallons at a time, and that still doesn’t always seem to be enough.

Now it’s your turn. What lessons did you learn in April?