life lesson: When your kid doesn’t get invited to a birthday party.

My newly turned six year old buckled himself in his seat when I picked him up. I didn’t expect to hear his words for several more years.

“So-and-so’s having a birthday party, and she didn’t invite me.”

“What?” I wanted to make sure I heard him correctly. He repeated what he said. I’d heard correctly.

My heart sank into my stomach.

“Oh, baby, I bet it’s a party for just girls. No big deal.”

“No, Mama, it’s not. She said there’s too many kids in our class. She invited some of the boys, just not me.”


For him.

And for me.

My first reaction was anger. Why wouldn’t he be invited to this party? And why on earth would she even tell him about it? It would be better for him if he didn’t know about this party at all. 

I was worried for him. I hope he doesn’t feel bad about himself. I hope he doesn’t think people don’t like him. Oh my goodness, maybe he’s not a good friend and the other kids don’t WANT to invite him. The head was full of these thoughts. There was silence in the car.

This is a good teaching opportunity. I can tell him that sometimes we just don’t get invited to some things. That’s okay. That’s part of life. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like him. Maybe she just has some friends she plays with more than she plays with him. There are some friends he plays with more, right? I can help him understand. Hopefully he won’t be upset. I hope he doesn’t let it bother him..

“I told her I was mad at her,” he said. Then he grinned. By the look on his face I knew he wasn’t really mad at her. At least not anymore. I was relieved.

“It’s okay, Mama. I’m fine.”

“I’m glad you’re okay. You know, sometimes we get invited to some things, and sometimes we don’t. We just need to be thankful when we do.”

“I know,” he said. And that was the end of it.

I’m not sure if this will come up again. I will ask him about it sometime to get a better feel for how he’s dealing with being left out. My Mama heart hurts for him. And, yet, I know disappointment is part of life. Maybe this little life lesson came too early. Nonetheless, I have to help him through it. I pray that I’ll do a good job.

Dear Lord, please help me be a good Mama. I want to teach my kids to live life in a loving way, no matter what they are dealt with. And I want them to know they are loved. No matter what. But that the world does not revolve around them. Help me see situations objectively. Thanks for helping me keep my cool when I, too, was disappointed for him. Amen.


I’m HALFWAY done parenting. {happy birthday, emma}


Happy birthday to my firstborn. She is nine years old today, and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I cannot believe I’ve been a mommy for this long! In some ways it seems like its been longer than that, and yet, I can still remember those first few months after she was born. Like it was yesterday.

Last night as I tried to sleep, I thought about her. I thought back to things about her in the first few months and years of her life… her first steps, the first time she went swimming, her first words… her sweet toothless, gummy smile.. her bald head {she didn’t have hair for a LONG time.} I will cherish those memories always.

I remembered how brave she was during the time that Ian was sick and not home for several months. She’d always been mature for her age, talking way earlier than other kiddos, and bright as could be. She was reading before she started kindergarten, spoke before she was two, and just had a maturity beyond her age. At five years old, she went through family hardship some kids might never have to face. God knew to make her strong.. and smart.. and He gave her faith. For that reason, she was able to survive the season life threw at her. She made me so proud.

Today, I realized I only get her for another nine years. That’s it. Isn’t that crazy? I’m halfway through the parenting years under my roof. At eighteen I pray she will be a responsible young woman, ready for college, and ready to face the world. I pray that I would continue to raise her in a way that will prepare her for that. I want to teach her to be gentle, honest, and hardworking. I want her to love others more than herself, and to treat others with respect and kindness. I want her to fill a need when she sees one. I want her to do God’s work, selflessly. I want her to LOVE others.

I want her to change the world. So, today, on her ninth birthday, I reflect on these things and set my mind and my heart on those goals. God has trusted me to be her mommy. I pray that I’m up for the challenge and teach her well.


13. Family Time.


Your kids adore you. They look up to you. They desire to spend time with you. A few years ago I read an article that changed my perspective forever. When given the choice between a new toy or spending time with their parent, the article said kids actually chose time with their parent over a fancy new gadget.

Crazy, huh? Kids don’t really care for more stuff. They want time with YOU.

Since then, I’ve tried to make our time with our kids special. I believe it is important to invest in them, to nurture them, and grow them. The best way to do it is to spend time with them.

We love going on vacation with our kids. (I have fond memories of my own when I was growing up.) However, since that is not always possible, we come up with fun activities to do at home, too. Here’s a list of some recent ones.

1. Camping in the living room- we pull out the inflatable mattress and sleep together… All five of us. Ian and I get terrible sleep, but the kids LOVE it and talk about it for weeks.

2. Movie night- lately we’ve found some old movies that we watched when we were kids to watch together. It almost always means we order pizza, too.

3. Board games- it’s fun to play at the kitchen table. We don’t usually keep score. It is HILARIOUS to hear what the kids say sometimes. Some games include Spot It, Headbanz, Connect 4, Guess Who.

4. Holiday & Seasonal activities- tonight we carved a jack-o-lantern. The kids had mixed feelings about scooping out the seeds and pumpkin pulp. Still, I’m sure they’ll remember the experience. We baked the pumpkin seeds and they all seemed to like them.
Around Christmas we make a gingerbread house and decorate our tree together. Around Easter we dye and fill eggs. You get the idea.

5. Cooking together- my kids love food. (The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) We have made lots of fun meals and snacks together. They enjoy it so much they are often the ones who request to do it again.

I LOVE spending time with my family. It doesn’t matter what we do, we always make it fun. Often times when Ian asks me if I’d like something for my birthday or Christmas, I say I’d much rather DO something than GET something. Right now I’m actually planning a little mommy/daughter date with just Emma to see the Nutcracker next month. I want to get dressed up and have a nice dinner just her and me. Hopefully she will feel special and remember the occasion for years to come.

What about you? How do you spend quality time with your loved ones??


This is part of a series called 31 Days of Living the Good Life.

I give up.

Luke, my third child, likes to make a mess with his toys and does not clean up. He procrastinates so much I end up cleaning up for him just so we can move on to the next thing of the day. (I know this is not a good idea, totally my fault.)

Sunday night Luke was in the playroom with his trains and tracks, one of his favorite things to play. It was time for bed so I asked him to clean up.

“But I’m not ready to clean up, Mama,” he said.

“I still want to play.”

“I don’t think so, Luke. It’s time for bed.”

He stared at me with a disagreeing look, but said, “Okay, Mama.”

He turned away from me and I watched as he continued to play. He got down on the floor, his face eye level with the trains. He continued to attach more trains, knowing he was supposed to be cleaning up, but having no idea I was watching him.

“I give up. I don’t know how to clean up,” Luke said.

“What? You can’t give up on cleaning up. Nice try.”

In my eight and a half years of parenting I’ve never had any of my kids say they give up when they don’t want to do something. Oh, sweet Luke! You are something else!

Nice try, buddy. I take full responsibility though. I created him to be this way. He knows that if he doesn’t clean up, I will do it for him. Time to follow through, Denisse. This third child has it way easier than the other two did.

“You can do it. If you made this mess, you can clean it up,” I told him.

After a while of whining and crying, and a LOT of redirection and threats to lose toys, Luke finally did clean up. Hopefully I can continue to follow through.

Dear Lord, Help me to be consistent with my expectations with all three of my children. Although sometimes its easier to do things myself, I know there is value in training them to do right on their own.