Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3 Lessons I Learned from the Biggest Temper Tantrum Ever

Here's a news flash for all you parents out there:

Sometimes, being a parent really sucks.

Like when you want to enjoy a nice, relaxing lunch out as a family, but one strong-willed child throws the mother of all temper tantrums, and changes your plans completely.

Been there. 

Done that. 

Just two days ago, actually. Yet here it is, Tuesday already, and I'm still thinking about how much being a responsible parent sucks sometimes.

On Sundays we like to eat out after church. Often, it's the only time the six of us sit around the table at the same time all week. It's sort of our little family tradition. This week, the kids picked my favorite: Ground Round.

Sundays are Penny-a-Pound at Ground Round, so it's always busy. Little Miss Strong-Willed-Morgan did not have patience to wait for a table. After running away from us a couple of times, not listening, and sassing back, I'd had enough. 

I took her to the van for a "talk" and had every intention of returning to the restaurant after we both calmed down. I could feel people staring at me as I dragged Morgan by her arm out of the lobby and across the parking lot. It might have looked like I was hurting her, but when I let go of her arm, she turned the drama up a notch and went limp and just laid on the sidewalk. So I hung onto her arm and pretty much dragged her to the van.

As I replay the scene over and over and over in my head, I've realized that the this monster temper tantrum actually taught me a few important lessons.

Lesson number one: don't judge other parents. It may look like they're being mean, but I bet they're just trying to control the drama.

After a few minutes in the van, it was clear this temper tantrum was not ending anytime soon. She kicked, screamed, cried, and pulled out every single excuse in her very big book of excuses:

"I'm starving!"

"I have to go to the bathroom!"

"Give me another chance!"

"I miss my family!"

"Please let me eat lunch with Jake!"

Unfortunately for Morgan, the kicking, yelling, crying, and attitude kept those excuses from working on me this time, that and the fact that she had already had three chances to shape up.

So we left.

In all my nearly 15-years of being a mom, I've never actually had to leave a restaurant (although I have ditched many a full grocery cart over the years). Usually just going outside is enough to fix things. 

But not this time.

Not even the idea of feeding my child for 41-cents could convince me to take her back into the restaurant.

Morgan continued her meltdown the entire seven minute drive home, and for another 25 minutes in her bedroom. 

I wanted to cry too -- I was really craving Ground Round popcorn and ranch dressing.

But, I knew if I didn't follow through, I'd regret it the next time she threw a tantrum. I had to be strong, stronger than my popcorn craving. She eventually fell asleep and woke up a different, happier kid.

Lesson number two: don't take an overtired, strong-willed child out for lunch on a busy Sunday.

I'm still bummed about missing lunch, but I'm glad the rest of the family could enjoy our Sunday tradition, and popcorn. I bet they enjoyed the popcorn and I bet they had a big bowl of ranch dressing to dip it in.

And I promised Morgan we'll try again next week. She has brought up the subject of her "really bad, naughty tantrum" several times since Sunday. We've talked about why how she acted was wrong, and talked about the right way to behave in public, and the right way to talk to adults. And I promised her we'll try again next week (she keeps saying "next year"… no way am I waiting a year to get my popcorn and ranch!)

Lesson number three: Talk about what happened, in kid terms of course, and, when the time is right, do something to reinforce what you've been talking (in my case preaching) to your child about.  So today, I asked Morgan if she wanted to go out for lunch. Of course she said yes, and as we walked in to the Ground Round, she reminded me of all the rules we talked about. Maybe it was because the restaurant wasn't busy, or because it was just the two of us, or because she hadn't hit "starving-mode" yet, but today's experience was a thousand times better. We had a nice conversation, a yummy lunch, and, of course, popcorn and ranch. 

Let me tell you, that was the most delicious popcorn and ranch I've ever had!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Next Must-Read Book

I've had the opportunity to do some really cool things in my adult life:
  • I interviewed Garth Brooks (and he hugged me..still gives me goosebumps!)
  • I traveled to Ground Zero shortly after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
  • I gave birth to four pretty awesome kids.
But now, I've been given an opportunity to try something new, something I've never done before, but something I'm super excited about.

I've been chosen as a member of the "launch team" for the book "Smart Money, Smart Kids" by none other than Dave Ramsey (I know… goosebumps again.. that man is amazing) and his equally amazing daughter Rachel Cruze.

So what does that mean?

I'm still figuring all that out, but the first step was reading the the first two chapters of the book. Pretty awesome, yet common sense, stuff. Here's a link to check out those first two chapters for yourself: www.smartmoneysmartkids.com. Scroll to the bottom, enter your email, and start reading. You can pre-order the book on that same page, and I gotta say, I think it will be money well spent. I am reading the entire book now (I guess that's a launch team perk!) and loving it. I can't wait until it's available for everyone to read!

It's funny that I'm on this launch team though.

I don't exactly have a perfect financial history. I can't even count how many times my parents bailed me out of money troubles in college, and even as recent as a few years ago. But, the last time we borrowed money from them, my parents got smart. They put conditions on the loan:
  1. It was a loan. That meant it had to be paid back. And there was a deadline for the final payment.
  2. They made us take Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. 
We paid the money back on time, and we took the online class.

Did our money ways change? Kind of. We paid off a bunch of stuff, built an emergency fund, and then fell into our old habits again. We've never had to ask for another loan, and we've paid cash for lots of stuff, but we're not exactly living the Dave Ramsey way either. 

But we're climbing back on the Ramsey bandwagon. Topping our list: doing a monthly budget together on paper and building that emergency fund up again. 

I'm only about halfway through "Smart Money, Smart Kids" but this book has inspired me to be a better example for our four kids. I want them to know how to handle money now, so when they leave (ahhh… the oldest will be gone in just three years! Sniff, sniff) they don't make the same mistakes we made.

 My parents always say they wish they would have taught us better money management, but while we can't turn back time, we can change our family tree. My kids, ages 4-14, already know more about saving, spending, and giving than I did in my 20s. Here's just one example: Our oldest begged for an iPhone ("I'm the only one out of the entire 1,600 kids at my school that doesn't have an iPhone") -- we said not before upgrade time, and we won't pay your data plan. So she saved. And she saved. And she saved. Then she stumbled upon a great deal -- her grandpa upgraded and when she asked to buy his old one, he pulled the grandpa card and gave it to her. Bargain! It's been three months, and she has paid her $30 data plan on time (early, actually) every single month. She's accepted babysitting jobs in the middle of a crazy basketball season, just to make sure she has her phone money. Now, she's planning her summer: summer school (biology -- five hours a day!), weight training, and a summer job. When I told her that sounds pretty busy, she calmly explained that she needs to save up for her data plan and get her shopping-fix so she doesn't have to work during basketball and track seasons. 

Smart kid.

I'm working on being an equally smart mom.

***What do you think? Will you check out this book with me? 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


As I looked through pictures from Lizzy's first grade program last night, these two stood out more than any other pictures.

These pictures are more proof of what I've slowly been realizing: we are blessed. 

How many six-year-olds are lucky enough to have both out-of-town grandpas and two great aunts (and two parents, a sister, and a brother) come to their 20-minute program in the school gym?

Not many.

I've been thinking about this for a couple of weeks now. It started when I got a frantic phone call from Lexi's friend's mom. She and her fiancĂ© had to leave town unexpectedly for a funeral and she was in need of a place for her 14-year-old daughter to stay while they were gone. Of course I said yes, and of course she felt like she was totally imposing, and of course she wasn't. 

But it started me thinking about something that, in my nearly 15 years of motherhood, I'd never thought about before: what do people do if they don't have family around to help with their kids?

I'm spoiled.

Not only do we have awesome great aunts in town that would drop everything (and have dropped everything) to help with our kids, both sets of grandparents are only a few hours away. I can't even begin to count the number of times I've called an aunt or a grandparent in a total panic because I suddenly need a sitter overnight, or a kid needs a ride, or I need someone to stay with a puking kid while I attend a mandatory meeting. 

Seriously, how do people do it without family nearby? I am in awe of you all. And I am feeling extra blessed knowing that two grandpas drove to town specifically for Lizzy's program and two aunts gave up sleep and "me time" to watch Lizzy as Little Bo Peep. 

I can only hope that one day my children will be equally grateful.