How to Get a Toddler to Sleep On Vacation

How to Get a Toddler to Sleep on Vacation

Step 1: Plan a weekend getaway with your husband and ask the grandparents to watch your kids.

You haven’t had a kids-free overnight stay with your husband since your second child was born. A little momma/daddy time is well overdue.

Step 2: Assume (foolishly) your 15-month-old will enjoy a weekend at Mimi and Papa’s. Pack the playpen for him to sleep in, blissfully ignorant of what’s to come. Also pack his favorite blanket and some stuffed animals for good measure.

He’s been sleeping through the night for weeks now, so surely the change of scenery won’t be that big of a deal. There may be a little fussing when you lay him down, but you’re sure he’ll adjust quickly and fall into a sweet, peaceful slumber and dream of lambs and sugar plum fairies.

Step 3: Drive the 2+ hours to the grandparents’ house. Let the kid run around in the yard to dispel all that energy he accumulated on the drive. Fill his belly with pizza and ice cream to lull him into a false sense of security before bedtime.

He got to play outside AND eat junk food, so he should be a happy camper. He should be falling asleep in your arms from all that activity and excitement, not writhing from your gasp at the first sight of the playpen and his pajamas.

Step 4: Change him into his pajamas and make his bed. Kiss him goodnight and sing to him in dulcet tones to induce a drowsy and drama free bedtime experience.

In this moment, you reflect on how sweet it is to have a little boy who loves you so much. You appreciate his snuggles and you grow prematurely nostalgic thinking of the future when he won’t want to cuddle you before bed.

Step 5: Lay him in the playpen. Ignore the immediate wails and ensuing tantrum as you quickly escape the room.

Tell yourself he’ll settle after just a few minutes. He just needs to adjust to the new surroundings, but you know he’s tired and he’ll settle soon. Ignore the little voice in the back of your head telling you this is wishful thinking.

Step 6: Check on him every 5-10 minutes as he continues to scream. Begin to sear your conscience to the relentless wailing.

At this point, you’re trying to remember all that Ferberizing you did when you sleep trained him.

Step 7: Question everything. Adjust lighting, rearrange his bed, change the temperature of the room.

You realize that his bed at home faces the door, so you place him in the bed so he can face the door. You breathe a sigh of relief when he instantly quiets, thinking you found the magic key to unlock the door of toddler sleep secrets.

Step 8: Enjoy a quiet hour of playing cards with in-laws. Feel your confidence rise as you think that bedtime wasn’t so bad, and it’ll be a good night.

Your naivete is so cute.

Step 9: Sneak into bed in the same room as your sleeping toddler. Close your eyes and begin to drift into sleep just as he awakes and begins to scream. Try to ignore it as you tell yourself he’ll settle in a few minutes.

He probably heard you breathe and now he knows you’re in the room. You wonder if he has night vision like a cat, because it’s pitch dark and you can’t see him yet you’re sure he is watching your every twitch.

Step 10: Question everything again. Sing to him, pat his back, pick him up and lay him down. Try to give him a snack. Try to lay him down next to you. Do this on repeat for 5 hours until you’re bleary-eyed and on the brink of insanity.

During this step, you also Google how to get your toddler to sleep on vacation, and much of the advice you find is the same: Don’t go on vacation.

Step 11: Hear grandpa rummaging around in the kitchen. Pawn your kid off on grandpa and go sleep for a couple of hours.

If grandpa isn’t going to sleep, there’s no point in you losing some sleep, too.

Step 12: Bail the next morning for your road trip getaway with your husband. Wish the grandparents best of luck.

See you later, suckers! Have fun with the grandkids!

This post may or may not have been a slight resemblance to a real life scenario in my life, recently. You probably shouldn’t follow any of this advice, by the way. Also, this was inspired by my friend Marisa and her poignant insight on how to care for an orchid. 


Motherhood is more than I can handle

Motherhood is more than I can handle Coffee Stains Blog

God will not give you more than you can handle

There is a common phrase Christians repeat to one another in times of trial or difficulty. It is shared as a word of comfort or encouragement to press on. I’m sure you’ve heard it: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

The concept stems from Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church when he tells them, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). It sounds nice, doesn’t it? Whenever faced with a hard circumstance or an overwhelming situation, we can keep going knowing that we can handle it, because God won’t give us more than we handle. Well friends, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news: it’s not true. Let me explain.

While this Scripture from 1 Corinthians does teach a wonderful principle that provides divine encouragement in our Christian walk, it does not promise that we will be able to handle all of life’s troubles. Take a look at something else Paul told the Corinthians, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced…we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

I want you to read those words again: so utterly burdened beyond our strength. Clearly, Paul had more than he could handle. This fact leads us to an important truth: our strength to endure, whether it be trials or temptations, does not come from ourselves – it comes from God. That’s exactly what Paul says next: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God” (2 Corinthians 1:9). Paul then praises God for his deliverance.

Motherhood is more than we can handle

Today started like most days do around our house – the alarm rings at 5:30 a.m., followed soon after by the cries of a hungry toddler. Toast was made and milk was poured, and I sipped fresh coffee while trying to gain full consciousness before the busyness of the morning set in. After breakfast, my babies climbed into my lap for some morning snuggles and Magic School Bus, and I thought to myself (as I do most mornings), I wish I could stay here. I wish I didn’t have to work.

Soon, the flurry of getting dressed, brushing teeth, and rushing out the door had everyone on edge, and I began to lose my cool. As we were about to walk out the door, my daughter decided to antagonize her brother (as siblings do), and I lost it with her. There was yelling and crying, and I was left with the guilt of shame that comes from these moments.

This moment and others like it cause me to think, I can’t do this. I am a terrible mother. Why do I always end up yelling? I’m damaging them for life. There will be years of therapy tied to this single moment from her childhood. Maybe it’s just me, but I would guess that many of you have these moments, too (though maybe not as dramatic. I’m sure only one year of therapy will result from this episode.).

That is because we can’t do it, not in our own strength. Motherhood is more than you or I can handle. When we rely on ourselves for motherhood, we will remain doubtful, overwhelmed, frustrated, impatient, irritable, insecure and maybe even hopeless. But when we recognize that God is the source of our strength (Psalm 28:7), we are “more than conquerors” in Jesus (Romans 8:34), and that “everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4), we know we can have victory in this thing called motherhood.

God’s gracious promises give us the confidence that though motherhood is hard, anything that comes our way – sibling squabbles, potty accidents, strong-willed defiance, sleepless nights , seemingly endless whining – anything, we are capable, in God’s power, of overcoming. God has given you more than you can handle in motherhood, but he also gives you the victory in it. Are you trusting him for it today?


God will not give you more than you can handle. Except when he does.


Hope Unfolding – A Good Read + a Giveaway!

Hope Unfolding Giveaway

One of my goals for the month of May is to finish reading 5 books, and since that’s a rather ambitious goal, I decided to let the books I started reading in April count towards my goal. One of those books was Hope Unfolding: Grace-Filled Truth for the Momma’s Heart by Becky Thompson. I was drawn to this book initially because Becky is an Oklahoma girl and a blogger. Also, the book is about faith and motherhood, so of course I had to read it.

Becky has an easy-to-read writing style that is relatable and endearing. She unashamedly shares about the messiness of motherhood and she invites you in to share the mess with her. Mamas deep in the trenches of caring for little ones will find this book a refreshing and encouraging read, because Becky’s stories and insights are drawn primarily from this stage of motherhood.

This book will not only provide encouragement for weary mamas, but Becky weaves scripture and biblical insight into her writing to give Hope Unfolding spiritual value, as well. She incorporates a time of application into each chapter through which readers are able to connect that chapter’s themes to their personal experience. She also includes thematic prayers for each chapter, which makes this book a beneficial resource for a small group, especially for moms groups.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Hope Unfolding:

God is with us in the most ordinary parts of our day. That thread of His presence that ties all of our moments together weaves through each one, leaving none untouched by His grace.Hope Unfolding Scripture reminds us that He is the beginning and the end. And friend, I think He must also be everything in between. (p.80)

God doesn’t see things as they are but as He calls them to be. And that means just like He reached into the mud and pulled out [Adam], Jesus reaches into our messes and pulls out miracles over and over again. (p.120)

Sometimes we pray for a miracle.We pray to be delivered from a season or a situation. And while God is able to do all things, often our rescue doesn’t look like getting off the boat. It looks like being pulled from the fear and finding peace despite the storm. Because even if the boat gives way, even if everything that keeps us feeling safe suddenly breaks beneath us, we don’t have to fear…it was never the boat that kept us from drowning. It was never the security of where we placed our feet that kept us from being swallowed by the deep waters. (p.161)

When we look to our kids to find security in our parenting, we will only be left feeling disappointed. Not because they are a disappointment, but because their need for a perfect Savior does not indicate our failure as mothers. (p.193)


Hope Unfolding reads like having a cup of coffee with a friend and sharing about the joys and challenges of mom life. So, I want to give you that experience by offering this giveaway: one copy of Hope Unfolding by Becky Thompson + $10 Starbucks gift card! To enter the giveaway, just follow the link below. This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents, and you must be 18 to enter. The giveaway starts May 9th and will end on May 13th.

Note: This giveaway is not sponsored by Becky Thompson or Starbucks. It is just my special treat for you. 

Hope Unfolding Giveaway

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Mental Health and Motherhood: how my mom impacted my life

Mental Health and Motherhood

I wasn’t sure I wanted to write this story. I’ve written about my childhood in the past, so it’s not the vulnerability that concerns me. I guess I don’t want to be misunderstood. This post isn’t a pity party, nor is it a cry for attention. I just want to shed light into an angle of motherhood that you read about in the news or you hear about in political posturing, but maybe you’ve never seen the real face of it: mental health and motherhood. So, in order to explore this topic further, let me tell you my story.

My mom was a drug addict who suffered from bipolar disorder and paranoid schizophrenia. You might have noticed I used the past tense “was” in introducing her; that’s because she died in 2009, when I was 22 years old. She struggled with addiction and impaired mental health for all of my life. I’m pretty sure her battles began before I was ever born.

She once told me a story about my older sister that illustrates her mental instability. As an aside, my older sister died before I could ever meet her – she had health issues and severe mental retardation, probably owing to the fact that both her parents conceived her while under the influence (we didn’t share a father). Anyway, one night she was crying inconsolable, and my mother, exhausted and delirious from unsuccessfully comforting her wailing child, covered her face with a pillow to escape from the mind-numbing screams. She left the pillow there until my sister quieted; she had lost consciousness. My mother didn’t kill her, but she relayed to me many years later that it was this night when she realized she was unwell, mentally. She also said it was this night when she began to hear the voices in her head that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

This story is only one example of how my mom’s mental health struggles impaired her ability to relate to her children in “normal” ways. I could tell you many such stories, all equally horrifying. Like how she asked me to burn my stepdad’s clothes in the yard after they had an argument, and rewarded me by burning my new Easter clothes 3 days later when they reconciled. How she taught me how to weigh out marijuana, and asked me to bury it in the yard once when the county was on their way to raid our house (I was 10 at the time). How I discovered her sitting in a cold bath, covered in blood, after her first suicide attempt when I was 12. Or like how she kicked me out of the house when I was 13 years old because I refused to place my body underneath her boyfriend’s truck to prevent his abandonment of her.

I could tell you about how she was in and out of jail up until she died, arrested on charges like forgery, possession/distribution of controlled dangerous substances and larceny, which happen to be the primary offenses for women incarcerated in Oklahoma. At one point, she was even listed among Oklahoma’s Ten Most Wanted, which I discovered by seeing her face broadcast on TV during a public service announcement.

My mom was just one woman of many just like her in Oklahoma, which incarcerates nearly twice the national average of female offenders, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. In that same study, critical issues for incarcerated women are explored, and chief among them are history of substance abuse, mental health issues and women offenders as mothers. My mother was a classic example of the mental health crisis in Oklahoma, and how it affects the rate of incarceration for women in this state.

As an adult, my mom’s mental health has not affected me as directly, but it still impacts my life. When I was in college, I was ultra sensitive to the reality that I could very well develop some of the same mental health disorders that plagued my mom. I did struggle with anxiety for a while, but I learned how to cope through spirituality and lifestyle adjustments. Since becoming a mother myself, I have felt the absence of having a healthy mother to mentor me or to turn to for guidance and wisdom. As a mom, I can’t understand the decisions she made towards my siblings and me, or how she treated us as her children.

I tell you this story for two reasons: one, to give a human face to something that’s more than just a policy issue; two, to motivate. I will be the first to admit I’m not as involved as I should be in making my voice known to those who have the power to do something about it. But, I hope by writing this story, I’m taking one step towards being more active.

My mom may have had a chance at rehabilitation if there had been a mental healthcare system that could provide her the help she needed. Instead, incarceration was the bandaid applied to the gushing wound of her mental instability. My story, her story, is not unique; a quick Google search of “mental health issues in Oklahoma” will illustrate the gravity of the mental health crisis in this state.

From postpartum depression to personality disorders that fuel substance abuse, mental health and motherhood are inseparably linked. If we don’t give a voice to these issues and put a face on them, they will remain as simple policy positions and budget line items. Nothing will change if nobody tells their stories. This one is mine.

Mental Health and Motherhood

Mom Quotes

Mom Quotes from Real Moms


Yesterday, I crowd-sourced my Facebook friends for some of the common phrases they often say to their kids. They did not disappoint. Their contributions were hilarious and heart-warming, so I thought I’d share some of my favorites. If you came here to find poetic or inspiring thoughts on motherhood, you should look elsewhere. Instead, here are real mom quotes that reflect real life motherhood:

“As long as you live in this house, you will follow our rules.”

“Because I said so!”

“Please engage your brain!”

“Put kindness in your voice/face/eyes/hands.”

“Stop, you’ll hurt someone or break something.”

“I could never stop loving you.”

“Can you please just stop!?”

“This day is over!”

“Be gentle!”

“Use your words.”

“Please stop touching me.”

“You cannot still be hungry.”

“I just want to pee alone!”

Funny Mom Quotes Coffee Stains Blog

“What were you thinking?!”

“Don’t pee in the hamper!”

“Please put on underwear.”

“Why is there poop in the bathtub?”

“No, people don’t eat poop.”

“I will pull this car over!”

“I love you.”

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

“I’m proud of you.”

“I want to squeeze you until your head pops off!”

“I’m gonna kiss you forever.”

“Act like we let you out of the attic once in a while!”

“I’m gonna eat you up!”

“Be nice to your brother. He’ll be bigger than you one day!”

“Mommy loves you so so so so so much! And Jesus loves you more than that!”

“Stop licking the fridge.”

“Make sure you wash all your nooks and crannies.”

And the best…..


Funny Mom Quotes from Real Moms


I hope these mom quotes made you smile or laugh. Motherhood can push us to our limits some days, but it’s healthy to laugh at the funny and crazy moments that come with it as well. What are some of the funny or weird things you say to your kids often?