All the ways that kids humble you

Dan and I are recovering from what seems to be our thirteenth cold this winter (in all seriousness, I think it's the fifth, but I swear we have been sick more days this season than we have been well), and it has made me think about all the ways our lives have changed with young children in the house.  Sure, many of the cliches are true--there are more messes and spills, more silliness, more laughter, more poop--but those things that people do not talk about have caught me by surprise. 


Your child will always find the zit on your face, and earnestly and loudly ask, in a very public place, "Mommy, what's that red thing on your chin?"

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Emily Rowell Brownkids, faith, grace
Commendable links about guns

I think we are all running out of things to say about mass shootings and school violence.  Right now, I don't have anything new to add to the dialogue, other than:

1.  This has to stop.

2.  God help us.

3.  But we also need to help ourselves.

4.  We have to learn to find our common ground in this country--for many reasons, on many matters, but especially on this issue, when lives are literally at stake, and our most vulnerable citizens at that

So I am praying and reading and trying to fight the numb feeling that has become all to familiar as I encounter story after story of evil and despair from that safe, faraway place of my computer and cell phone screens.

Here's what is giving me hope, inspiration, and food for thought:

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Emily Rowell Brown
Attachment: That dreaded term with fostering and adoption

But won't you get attached?

That is always the second question I am asked when people hear that my husband and I are fostering.  (The first is about what our children are called, since they both came to us with unusual names).

Yes, yes we will.  We already have.

But what will you do if they go back?

We will be heartbroken.

How can you do it then?

With this last question, most people do not expect an answer.  I have thought about it a lot, though, and I have one, even if it is not the most satisfying.  

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Emily Rowell Brown
18 Rules to Live By for 2018

I am not much of a resolutions person, per se, but I do love how the start of a new year invites reflection on what has worked and what has not.  This year, I thought it would be fun to do 18 for 2018.   If I had to name a theme for my list, it would be "Actually do what you know works."  This year I want to be less about discovery and adventure than about honing in and improving.  Some items on the list will be easy; others require more effort.  These are my rules to live by for 2018--and hopefully beyond.


1.  Nab the early appointments. 

I mean to do this more often, and this year, I am going to be intentional about it.  Whenever possible, book the first appointment of the day.  It reduces wait time, since there has not been time to get behind yet, and your service providers are fresh, not tired from a long day's work.

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When it is worth spending the extra money

Time vs. money.  The older most of us get, the more the former wins out.  Granted, you have to have money for there to be a contest, but outsourcing is becoming a huge thing in our world.  Home cleaning services.  Child care.  Instacart.  Dog walking.  Meal delivery services.  

It's funny how much it varies from person to person what is and isn't worth paying for.  I never have understood the appeal of Blue Apron, yet I am sure that many would think it's absurd how much I spend on pre-cut grocery store fruit bowls.  It totally depends on your pain points and grievances.  For fun, here is my list of what is totally worth it.

1.  Nice grocery stores. 

By nice, I mean: good lighting, friendly customer service, bagging assistance.  Wegmans, Trader Joe's, and Whole Foods (and Publix, when we lived deeper south) have won my heart because they make grocery shopping pleasant.  Grocery shopping is a necessary evil that I must complete at least once a week, and if I am routinely setting foot in a store, I want to enjoy it.  The few times I end up in a different store, I notice immediately how cold and harsh the lighting is and how a stores associate is nowhere to be found, and I don't care how cheap the grapes are.  I am in a grumpy mood for the rest of the trip.  I'll go on the record with that: will pay for cheerfulness!

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Fall Bucket List

We are a few weeks into fall, and it already feels like it is flying by!  As the calendar fills up, I tend to let the fun things slide.  Here is my autumn bucket list:


1.  Attend the school's fall carnival.

2.  Paint or carve a pumpkin.  Or both!

3.  Buy something with an autumnal scent--a candle, soap, potpourri.

4.  Roast pumpkin seeds (This is a job for my husband Dan.  I have no patience for pumpkin guts!). 

5.  Decorate for fall and Halloween.

6.  Make a Halloween-themed menu for dinner.

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Emily Rowell Brown
One year

This weekend flooded me with memories.  Exactly one year ago, our daughter came to live with us and I started a new job as vicar of a small country church.  Much about the weekend was exactly the same as the previous year: the first fallen leaves crunched beneath my family's feet as we walked the familiar trail in our neighborhood, the church was decorated with pumpkin, hay, and all things autumn for its "Homecoming" Sunday, I inadvertently chose the exact same dress for Sunday morning as I had last year.

It was surreal how much was so familiar.  And yet so different.

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Emily Rowell Brown
Healthy kids' snacks

So many of the snacks suggested for children today are junky or nutritionally empty.  There's nothing wrong with pretzels, but there's nothing great about them either.  Our daughter C of course receives her fair share of treats and less-than-healthy snacks, but we try to take every opportunity to sneak in extra nutrition.  Here are some of our favorites, kid and adult approved!

Note: we're vegan, so all of these snacks are free of dairy, egg, and meat.

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Emily Rowell Brownfood, vegan, kids, healthy
Behind closed doors

We have been introducing our newly five-year-old daughter to the bike, and, to put it mildly, it has been trying.  Never mind that the training wheels are still on the the bike, the terrain is smooth and flat, and the distance we are covering is short--we may as well be asking our child to bike Mount Everest.  Over the past few weeks, we have seen so many tears and screams. 

I know all of the advice: keep the bike rides short and fun.  Do not get into a battle of wills.  Be patient; every kid is different.  Easier said than done.

We live in a very bike-unfriendly area.  Our neighborhood is practically a mini mountain, and we have no sidewalks, which means our rides are limited to our driveway, or we must venture out to parks and empty parking lots for practice.  That means that all of our bike rides are public, and I am keenly aware of how many eyes are scrutinizing our parenting decisions.

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