How Monsters, Inc. Changes When You Become a Parent

So, the other day, I gave EV all of our Pixar options and let her pick which one she wanted to watch. She picked up Monsters, Inc. and said, “RAWR!!” And so, she made her choice.

Monsters, Inc. was one of my favorite movies growing up. I’ve always been a huge fan of Pixar, I even dreamed of working there someday (and reaping the benefits of their cereal wall) but alas, my calling was to make tiny Pixar fans instead. Pixar seems to do really well with storytelling in a way that is entertaining for kids but also for adults. I mean, I’m really into children’s entertainment- more than most, I gather- but most people agree that most Pixar movies are just great movies in general.

After watching the film like 5 times this week (I mean, not really watching, but you know, having it on, the only way parents watch things for a few years), I have noticed a few things that are totally different now that I’ve got kids. Even more so now that EV is practically the same age as Boo, and also, like, her twin.

Boo is a creative genius

Monsters Inc Screen Shot 27

Based on her level of speech, physical abilities, and general demeanor, I’d say Boo is about 2.5 years old. Which means her drawings are waaayyy ahead of the game. EV is starting to reign in her creative skills, but I seriously doubt she’s only a few months away from drawing cohesive creatures. Then again, kids are pretty stinkin’ amazing at learning things. Still, Boo is probably destined to be a famous artist if she can draw like that at her perceived age. Apparently, she can also write her name (as can bee seen in close-up stills of this scene). So… what’s up with that?

 Boo’s parents are either really horrible or traumatized for life

“Remember that time when little Mary disappeared and then suddenly showed up in her room like nothing happened? Yeah, that was TERRIBLE.”

That’s what I imagine Boo’s (who I guess is named Mary) parents saying to each other a few years after the shock of their toddler being M.I.A. for like 30 hours. That, or they didn’t even notice, which is pretty awful. It’s hard to imagine this scenario, since even ignorant parents would miss their kid at night, but it’s possible her home situation is just that bad. Based on her room, though, she seems well taken care of.

One thing in their favor is that Boo is independent, happy, and really expressive. The evidence would suggest she is often left with others, perhaps in a day care setting, since she never cried for Mama or Dada the whole time, but whether or not that works in their favor is uncertain. Honestly, I’m kind of surprised there weren’t any police or sobbing parents in her bedroom any of the times they tried to put her back in her world.

Either way, I weep for them.

Oh, and to address the whole “passage of time” theory (some people believe time didn’t pass the same way in the human world, therefore the night Boo returns is the same night she left), it doesn’t really hold up when you consider that Mike and Sully showed up, from the human world, just in time to save Boo from the Scream Machine. Speaking of the Scream Machine…

The Scream Machine is 1000x more terrifying

Yes, the idea of a machine that rips screams from you is pretty darn scary. As a kid, I was totally not cool with it. As a parent, that whole idea makes me want to punch a hole in the wall. When you’re a kid, you look at the world as it applies to you. When you’re a parent, you think of it as it applies to your kids.

So Randall and Mr. Waternoose are better off dead, in my mama bear mind. I’ve been through forced torture on my kid before, and all I have left to say is NO. Screw the scream shortage. I nearly cried when Boo was strapped into that thing. “What would her parents do? Omg, I would murder them all!”

Yeah, that’s what was in my mind. Pixar turned me into raging monster, and they didn’t even have to animate me.

Monsters, Inc. teaches something uncommon in the film industry

As much as I might gripe about the inconsistencies I now notice, I’ve realized something hopeful about this movie that I never had before. It teaches a very simple lesson:

Toddlers are people too.


In movies, it seems largely ignored that toddlers are complex individuals all on their own. While most movies with a toddler character treat them only as they benefit the story of the older characters, MI doesn’t do this. Boo is not only an accurate representation of a toddler, presumably because she was modeled after and voiced by a real toddler, but she actually grows as a person in the course of the film. Her unique problems and victories are responded to by the main characters. It’s touching, really. Even Mike, the trademark “put that thing back where it came from or so help me” guy, grows to appreciate her as an individual.

Frankly, we could do with more films that treat toddlers this way. It may be easier for everyone but their parents to ignore them until they have fewer tantrums and better ideas, but they care so much more about the world than we realize. They treat everything they experience with all they got, whether good or bad, and our job is to help them figure it all out.

The compassion that Sully has for Boo is something we don’t see often in movies. The way Boo grows as a person, despite the fact that she’s a toddler, is also not often in movies. But these things happen every day. In fact, it’s my daily life. So I really appreciate it.

I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Monsters, Inc. Especially after having my own little Boo.


A New Year, A New System

So, we had an amazing second Christmas, and spent lots of fun time with my in-laws. Honestly, I did not expect the gift exchange to be as big as it was, but everyone got lots of fun stuff! And I certainly can’t complain about all the extra help, love, and time I got to have with everyone (and Jimmy)! Oh! And we got to play Settlers (among other board games), which is a real treat since we hardly have the time and bodies to get through a whole game.

One of gifts I have most utilized this year was practically free: the bullet journal system. My mom mentioned it and when I looked around the web, I thought I would really like to try it out. I had gotten a journal from Jimmy, nothing fancy, which is perfect because bullet journaling takes some trial and error. If you’re interested, I found this great blog on how to start without getting overwhelmed and I mostly agree. But, really, you should work on it a little yourself and see what you like about it. The blogger doesn’t like to write grocery lists in her bullet journal, but I love it. Writing something on paper and marking it off, in addition to using ibotta is a much better way for my brain than any technological way I’ve used. (Ibotta is a cool grocery rebate app, my referral code is “ostfodm” without quotes, if you want to try it. Why not? It’s free money!)

I personally don’t do diary entries, prayers, or stories in my bullet journal. It functions well for me as just a planner for now. One of the best pieces of advice in the blog is that the Daily Log isn’t just meant for to-do lists, it’s meant for ideas, notes, and other little things you want to write down. It’s a log. That’s one thing I didn’t take into account when I started my Weekly Log in lieu of a daily one. Then I wound up with pages and pages of Collections that I maybe didn’t need. But, I do like a few of them, such as ideas for EV’s 2nd birthday, waiting on, home improvement, and, ironically, collection ideas. I also have pages to track EV’s sleep schedule, grocery lists like I mentioned before, and some inserts with Japanese characters so I can practice my kana if I ever get to it!

That’s another thing: I have so many Japanese language learning tools now. Bullet Journaling is one, but I also got a game, I have a number of books, and the app Human Japanese. I’ve been really excited about it lately, but that’s happened before. Who knows what will happen next? I hope I can some day get into a classroom setting because that environment seems to work well for getting me to actually do the learning. Regardless, my Habit Tracker in my journal shows that I’ve been working on it almost every day, so that’s something!

Gosh, I could go on and on. But I will share one lesson I’ve learned about myself and this bullet journal system: I need a Weekly Log and a Daily Log. The weekly log helps me see what I hope to get done for the week, what plans I’ve made, and I find it’s a great place to write down prayers and have my habit tracker. What I forsook about the Daily Log was that, even if I don’t have tons of things to do in one day, I have lots of thoughts that I want to write down, and all those thoughts don’t need their own collection pages. Now I just have to figure out what I really want to do as for formatting.

Note: I can’t believe January is already half over!

I hope everyone is having a good year so far! I’m looking forward to an exciting 2016 for the Kramers 🙂

Christmas is not over yet!

I really am one of those crazies who can’t get enough of Christmas. I start to miss the season around… March usually. Before Easter even gets going. I just love the spirit, the happiness, the music, and all the lights! And of course, I love that Christmas is a reminder of the birth of Christ, which was such a joyous occasion, a legion of angels sang about it to earthly witnesses! It may not be Jesus’ actual birthday, but God uses it for His glory every year.

And when it comes to the other stuff, sure, it’s far less important, but even God is no stranger to the fun of festivities. So, this year I was super happy to get our tree up about a week before Thanksgiving, because just seeing a tree up gives me those warm fuzzy feelings! And I’m also happy because it’s staying up until mid-January, because we still have some Christmas to take care of! That’s right, Jimmy’s family (all of them!!) are coming to Chucktown to see their littlest members and do some more Christmas stuff. I’ll get to break out the Christmas outfits again. Bake cookies. Open presents. I love it!

And about our actual Christmas Day, I have to say, it was pretty wonderful. We stayed home, in our PJs, played with new toys, ate some good food, watched Frozen and just enjoyed each other. Just me, Jimmy and our two kids. Low-key and, you know, I wouldn’t be upset if that was how our kids remembered Christmas.

I’ve been thinking about traditions, and I want to implement lots of good ones for our kids. We really enjoy St Nicholas Day (candy in your shoe, and don’t forget the orange!) and I love the idea of the Christmas Eve box (pjs, a snack, and a book or movie all meant for that night). Of course, making cookies and watching Christmas movies are great options too. But I want some more meaningful ones too. I didn’t want to go too crazy this year, though. My kids are still babies and I have some time.

Gosh, but these babies are growing so fast! Sam is huge. A couple babies have been born in my circle of friends last month, and comparing him to them is just crazy. But he’s getting rolls, and smiling, and of course he is super strong and loves to move. Sam can roll over both ways now. He is only 11 weeks old and he’s been doing it like a pro for some time. And EV is getting bigger. I find myself looking at pictures from just a month or two ago and seeing such a huge change. She is playing very well with bigger kids, and articulating herself very well. She says “look” and “I’m sorry”and “help” and “all done” and “okay”. Properly. She uses those words how they’re meant to be used. It’s so crazy how fast this is going!

One of the very small gifts I got was a new journal. I am such a journal junkie! But I always have trouble filling journals. Then my mom told be about bullet journaling! It’s so awesome for someone like me, who seriously can’t keep anything straight. I usually like to write diary entries or stories in journals, but I’ve been using this system for my to-dos and ideas, and it’s working pretty well for me. I might try hand-lettering with it. I might start a different blog, like, one for making money and contributing to society and all that, and use my bullet journal to guide me. I’ve played with the idea of podcasting too. I used to have a radio show back in the day, kind of. I loved it. It was fun, and I don’t know, I just love the idea of having a creative outlet. My problem has never been dreaming. It’s been executing.

So we will see what the future holds! But for now, I’m super excited to keep on with my Christmas and watch these kiddos grow. Family has been so worth every sacrifice to me.

New Year’s was not super exciting in this house. That’s what we can expect for a while if we want to spend it with the kids.  But we did open a coconut, like we do every year, and Jimmy made Pina Colada pancakes, which were delicious! We might have to add that to our coconut ritual.

 Happy New Year!

Touched Out

I’m touched out. Touched. Out. But that’s #momlife for you.

What does it mean to be “touched out?” Basically, it means that you are feeling emotionally and physically D-O-N-E with being touched by another creature. And it happens a lot when you have little kids (and needy cats) (and here is the moment my cat pushes “publish” prematurely).

I know there are about a million parenting blogs that talk about being grateful for the snuggles and not knowing when will be the last time you pick them up or they sleep on your chest, but here’s the thing: I’m a human. And though I will surely miss the baby days (heck, I already do with EV), I can’t help feeling over-stimulated by human contact from time to time. Especially when that human contact is a 19-month-old, tantruming, desperately-needs-her-nails-trimmed little snot machine. I know it doesn’t seem loving to describe my beautiful daughter that way, but, well, tell that to the scratches on my chest.

It’s not been easy. But please, don’t just listen to my whining. That’s not where it starts and begins. It’s just part of it, and honestly, it’s not the hardest part. The hardest part is loving them so gosh darn much. I’m serious. I don’t feel guilty for putting up with their toughest moods, or for losing sleep, or for those miserable half-breastfed dirty diapers. It might not be a blast all the time, but the worst part is the guilt you get because you love them. 

Guilt for wanting to be in another room when they scream. Guilt for wishing you could finish a movie without pausing two dozen times. Guilt for missing those nights when you could just spontaneously eat at a restaurant or get a drink without the less-than-compliant child or a babysitter’s fee. Guilt for putting Curious George on for the fifth time today. Guilt for writing this blog while Curious George is on. 

Guilt for feeling touched out.

Guilt for wanting a day when you just don’t want to be Mom. Guilt for taking one. Guilt for anything that isn’t the 1950s perfect mom with her vacuum and string of pearls.

You feel it because you love them so achingly much. I guess in that way, the guilt is a good thing. At least you know you love them, even if you aren’t so sunshiney all the time. Even the bible says that guilt reveals to us that there is truth to be found in a higher place. Take that guilt, and figure out how to make it go away!

Even if it’s just to give yourself a break for being human and not able to do everything at once a hundred percent of the time. 

It’s ok to be touched out, y’all. 

Anyway, here’s the scoop on these last couple weeks. They’re pretty life-y!

Samson is nearly 8-weeks-old! It’s crazy!

Also, EV. She’s crazy too! (I say that with pure love and wobbly conviction. It’s been a hard time for us all.) But if I’m not proud of her ability to stack blocks and cat food cans, I don’t know what I am!


Seriously! That tower is taller than she is!

I’ve been spending a lot of time cuddling the two of them. Especially since Jimmy came down with something and we’ve been trying to be careful keeping them from him, which means… you guessed it! I’ve been the go-to gal.

So yeah. I’ve been really touched out lately. But I know that God is giving me what I need. Call it resolve, short breaks, Jane Austen movie adaptations, whatever form it’s come in, I’m doing fine. Oh, and it’s a good thing God knows the future, because the same day Jimmy came home feeling ill, some of my friends had come to babysit EV for me. No reason, just because they thought I could use the help. Turns out that it would be the only break I got that wasn’t sleeping for the next few days. God is good!

Sam is amazing. He’s been rolling over since he was 4 weeks! He has awesome head control, his leg muscles are really strong, he manipulates toys already, and he actually imitated my waving to him. No joke! He’s working on those motor skills like nobody’s business! 

He’s also starting to resemble me a lot more. But he still looks like a mini-Jimmy with a Moriah head, ha! He’s got HUGE EYES! He often looks verrrrry surprised. Not sure what color his eyes are yet, they’re still mostly dark grey, maybe a little brown or green. It’s hard to tell. But those lashes! Gosh, he’s such a cutie!

And in the last couple weeks, he’s taken to cooing and smiling! It’s so amazing. I’m experiencing all this for the second time, and it’s still exciting. I love being a mom.

Well, not all the time.

EV has been tantruming a ton lately. It’s been so hard. Her sleep regressed, so she’s not staying the entire night in her room anymore. And she nurses way more now that my milk is back. Also, she frequently has teething pain. And she nursed so much more than she used to. She has been so demanding. But again, that stuff doesn’t make me regret having kids. Actually, nothing makes me regret it. But some stuff is really hard. 

At the Target parking lot the other day, EV was throwing a fit. It wasn’t totally her fault, she was tired and we kept her out late, but a guy asked us if we regretted having kids.

Without missing a beat, Jimmy said, “Not at all!”

And that’s when I realized what I’ve been talking about. It’s not the super tantrums or the loss of sleep that make parenting difficult. I mean, it’s not easy or desirable, but the hardest part about parenting, the piece that should give you pause when deciding to be a parent, is the sacrifice of the small things. That’s what gets annoying. You can be fed up with a screaming kid guilt-free, but when you’re fed up with your wonderful child needing to be home when you’d rather go see a movie, that’s tough. I mean, not the same kind of “tough” as other really hard things, but you are attached to your children forever and ever after they get here, and there are times you think you’d like to go back, but you can’t, but you don’t really want to and you feel guilty for thinking you did.

Basically having kids turns you crazy, but in a socially acceptable way.

I would NEVER want my children to think I don’t want to hug or kiss them when they feel they need it. But, I might think so or even say so sometimes. Like now. When I’m touched out. I have to learn how to be loving even when I don’t want their affection, and they have to learn how to respect other people’s boundaries. And sometimes it sucks in either direction, because that’s how you learn, folks.

Maybe that doesn’t make sense to everyone, but to those parents who do get it, seek the answer to your guilt from Jesus. He’s got it covered. It’s okay to feel touched out, but the real question is, what are you going to do about it?

I know the non-specific answer is to love them. And that’s the one way us parents will always be in agreement!

Well that’s embarrassing 

I was just writing a post about being over-stimulated by the creatures in this house, and what happens? My cat, Neptune, knocks my hand with his head, purring as obnoxiously as is possible, and pushes “publish.”

Sorry about that, folks. We just changed his diet. I don’t think he’s too thrilled. 

This is his way of retaliating. 

More on my life soon! Have a wonderful, perfectly whelming day. (If that’s a phrase.)

The Unruly Life with Two Under Two

At this very moment, I am in a rocking chair nursing my 5-week-old son and watching my 19-month-old daughter make use of the books and toys in her unkempt bedroom. I probably won’t end this blog in this same situation, especially since it’s naptime and my boy is screaming and my girl keeps crying for milk because she is jealous and wants to nurse. 

I couldn’t even get through that last sentence without the situation changing.

This life I’m in right now is an unruly, sleepless, loud, sticky, wonderful adventure. It’s a trek through a jungle of thoughts and emotions and everything that happens before we say “night-night.” It’s prioritizing, both poorly and thoughtfully, what’s important in our day, and laundry doesn’t usually win first place.  It’s tandem nursing, cuddling, burping, singing, rocking, kissing, bleeding, wiping, crying, giggling, and praying. It’s a grumpy face, a toothy grin, a tired sigh, and victorious applause for a kid who learned something new. It’s a desperate search for the “buh-buh” or “pacifier” as most non-toddlers call it. It’s the resounding call for “mama” or “daddy” that echoes through the house, and the newborn wailing in the background. It’s the extra-long moment that I take to admire the God-given life that I cradle in my arms. It’s pretty crazy and pretty amazing. 

This season won’t last long. I’ve already gotten through an entire month of having two kids under age two. The changes are already apparent. Pretty soon I’ll have a girl who can articulate herself better than ever and maybe figure out how to jump, and a boy who has barely spent any of his life breathing air already learning how to smile and play and laugh. At some point, their interactions will amount to more than just the bigger one patting the smaller one on the head. And then my little girl will turn 2 and I’ll be living a different (probably unruly) life. Maybe I will even have a handle on the thousand thoughts that race through my barely capable mom-brain, but I’m guessing not. 

Sammy, my Mr. Peaceful, will grow up to be a strong and content young man, I’m sure of it. EV will be fearless and giggly as usual, but she will also have funny quips and unique ideas. She will probably have troves of friends and admirers, but this is her mom talking. And somewhere down the line, there might be more little Kramers to change the identity of our family. I’d be happy with that! (But maybe we can put it off a few years. A girl can only go so long without sushi and wine.) This year’s Christmas card has two beautiful, remarkable children on it, and their close births will mean they are close to each other, like no other person could be.

I wouldn’t change that for anything.

Not for more peace, or sleep, or wine & sushi, or hair, or time, or money, or travel, or sanity, or showers. I will have everything I could want in the next life, so why should I have any regrets about giving someone else the opportunity to have that promise too?

God gave me this messy life, and I tell ya, I am so thankful He did. 


The Birth of Samson

It’s a boy! This child we have been anticipating all year long finally made his appearance on October 18th! And it was a peaceful, beautiful entry earthside.


I feel like this birth story is so much shorter, partly because it was actually a shorter labor and delivery, but I realize that there is so much more to the story than just when labor started. God had been preparing me for this, and I know that it is because of His Glory and Power and Love that it happened the way it did. So, if you’re the kind of person that wants to know what happened, but you don’t need the narrative, for you I have my son’s birth story in moments. I did this last time with EV, and I think it was well-received, as many are so curious as to what happens when babies are born! I know I am! You are also welcome to skip the prologue portion, but I would recommend you read it all to truly understand how powerful this birth story really is! Continue reading