Waterpark + 5 kids + me…not too long ago that would equal massive amounts of stress. Actually, I would not have even attempted it. Kids grow up. They really do and there is so much wonderful about that truth.

I headed to a small waterpark with my sister-in-law, 3 nephews and my crew. AND it was relaxing. What?! Relaxing? I know it feels like a lie to even write that, but it truly was a relaxing day. All of my kids are terrific swimmers, they stick together, and there were no huge rides/slides to be worried about. A lazy river, 2 slides, a net course, a shallow pool and a kiddie area. It was not ideal for my oldest, but he still had a great time.

We were among the first to arrive and my kids instantly wanted on the net course. They watch a lot of American Ninja Warrior, so they were ready to test their skills. They patiently waited for the lifeguards to give the clear that the pool was open.

(all these were shot with my iPhone. I did not want to take my big camera because I wanted to be in the water and on the slides too!)

8.16waterpark-018.16waterpark-028.16waterpark-03Over and over and over again they crossed the nets trying it a variety of ways and challenging each other to races. I just sat and watched. I SAT CALMLY STRESS-FREE AT A WATERPARK. A handful of you understand why that is in all caps. I feel like I’ve crossed a motherhood rite of passage. Hallelujah!8.16waterpark-04My youngest was bound and determined to cross the net too. For a solid two hours she attempted over and over again. She would get to the very end and stretch her legs out…and fall into the water. I asked her if she wanted to go to the kiddie area with the slides and climbing structure. Nope. She wasn’t leaving until she crossed the net. I cheered. I coached her with my words, but I did not reach out to help her. She didn’t want help and I think we both knew she could do it. Each time she would make it to nearly the end and then plop in the water as she stretched to get across. Climb. Stretch. Fall. Get up and get back in line. The girl has grit.8.16waterpark-058.16waterpark-06I was planning on taking a picture of her stretching to try to finish when out of nowhere she leaped from the floating log. You have to look closely at the picture below. The girl leaped! She made it across and looked over at me with a big smile. “I completed the course!”8.16waterpark-07After her flying leap, she went back and figured out how to stretch, use her arms and make it across. I think she shocked quite a few parents and lifeguards.8.16waterpark-088.16waterpark-09I sat in a chair with my feet up at a water park. I was nearly giddy at the reality of it. I thought about all those years of having little ones that couldn’t swim. All those leaps to grab a little guy that fell in the 8 inches of water. All the assisting babies on tiny slides shaped like animals. All the years of avoiding going to the pool alone. All those floaties and life jackets and swimsuits with random cartoon characters.

I sat in that chair and felt like I paid my dues…this was what the other side looked like. I could go cross that net with them. I could go down the slide and the lazy river with them. I could sit and simply watch them in awe that we all survived and made it this far. I could choose. I did a little bit of it all and it was awesome.

There is a beauty of those early years where they were so dependent on me. It wore me out, but it was beautiful too. This new stage…well, there is a beauty with their growing independence too. It wears me out in a different way, but still so beautiful.



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  • Diana - This was so reassuring to read! I only have one three year old but a day at the pool still isn’t very relaxing! We’re big Ninja Warrior fans too!

  • Carrie - This was my first summer to have made it to the other side, too! We went to a big hotel with a HUGE pool this summer and I let my kids just go do what they wanted, as long as they were together. I didn’t watch every move – I talked to my husband in the chair next to me – it was wonderful! The baby years are so fun, but this is going to be fun too!!

  • Beth Ann - What an awesome milestone! My friends and I all look forward to the day that we can be an “ass-down” mom.

  • Allison Gottlieb - I love babies. I love toddlers. As my kids completed each stage, I felt myself getting a little sad that those stages were over. And then I realized that I LOVE my BIG kids. I have a 9 year old and a 13 year old – and they are so cool. The independence, the intellectual conversations…it’s the BEST. Congrats to you on your stress-free waterpark day!

  • Brady - I can’t EVEN with the baby pictures at the end of the post! SO cute. I’m in the middle of the little kid phase and trying to remember to enjoy it to it’s fullest!

  • Leslie - Congrats on this accomplishment. We are in that gray area of independence and still needing hands-on help. I eagerly look forward to the day of watching from the side, while still enjoying this season of now. Thank you for sharing!

  • Ruth - I love this. ALL of it! I’m in the mist of life with littles at the pool. My kids are 6,4,2, and two months. Going to the beach or pool is a JOB but I try and go as often as possible with hopes of someday being able to kick up my feet and just enjoy the time swimming with them….or watching them ? Thanks for the encouragement today.

  • Lacey Meyers - I smiled all the way through this because I totally understand and just had such a similar experience with similar thoughts when we visited a water park last week. I could lay by the pool, go on the slides with my husband, and actually relax… it is so awesome to come to this point!

  • Irene Wiranata - This is SO GOOD to read. I have only one toddler now and its really exhausting at times, but is beautiful too. I should savour the moments (good and bad). Love your perspective in parenting :)

  • Andrea - I love this and can relate as well. My 3 sons can all finally swim in their own this summer as well. My youngest is 5 and just joined swim team this summer. Going to the pool is so fun now that I don’t have to worry about them!

    I’ve been reading your blog for years and I remember your post on Hawaii where you looked seriously stressed watching your kids at the beach. That post made me laugh because I could relate!

  • Melissa Carr - I’m not sure if anyone else is having this issue, but I’m having a ton of trouble loading your site. It’s going really slowly and about half of the pictures won’t load for me. I looked at some pages in the archives and it’s the same thing. Wonder if you’re having some server issues?

    (And I loved this post– currently in the ‘chasing a toddler who thinks she’s independent but can’t swim’ phase of pool-going. Exhausting!

  • Trisha - Your youngest provides a great reminder via this story not to give up when things get too hard. I know you must be so proud of her determination! :)

  • Katie Thomassen - I was rereading this one today and had to share my Rite of Passage. Today I got to send my son to the doctor’s office on his own! It was only a recheck of something that we had lapsed on, but CAN I TELL YOU!?!?! What a freeing experience!! He is 17 so old enough to vocalize what hurts and what we have done, and the dr always sends a detailed plan of what was discussed. But I was so happy to be able to use that extra hour and half to do something fun! Like grocery shopping!

The last couple weeks have been full around here. My nieces were in town for a week from IL. I had the chance to take one’s senior pictures. Hard to believe by next May all the toddlers in my wedding will be either in college or college graduates. Wild. My nephews are in town this week from CO and Corbett started 7th grade in a new (AKA INTENSE) program. Football practices have begun. Chris and I snuck away for a couple days together – hiking and rafting. We’ve been swimming, thrifting and working on projects. Of course, there has been mounds of laundry, breaking up fights, piles of dishes and the beginnings of longing for the school routine. We are soaking up the end of summer, but I’m ready for routine!


I came in the kitchen earlier this week to find my son adding a common “mom quote” from our house to our letter board. “That will be 10 burpees”. It made me laugh – I do say that almost daily. Sometimes (quite often) my kids need a little reinforcement to encourage them not to repeat a behavior. Not sure that it works, but the biceps in this house are getting remarkably ripped!

I posted the picture on Instagram and asked others to share things they often say or things their parents said. The list was too good to leave buried in Instagram comments. I thought some of you would enjoy these too (you can read them all on my IG).

Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything!

Be kind or be quiet!

Why don’t you go take five laps around the house?

Parking lots are not a place to play, they’re a place to obey.

Take a breath.

Fold your hands (when we are in a public bathroom)

Watch your tone.

Is that how you’d want to be treated?

Stop and think.

You turkey!

Don’t be a turd.

You’ll have to face the consequences.

Don’t leave a mess for someone else to clean up…..be a blessing.

Be a helper, not a hurter!

Do you girls need an AA meeting? (AA = Attitude Adjustment ~ my mom contributed this one)

You can’t always get what you want.

Patience is waiting without whining.

Would you like it if it was done to you?

Somebody’s spicey! (Teenage boys are always spicey!!!)

For serious!!!

You can’t cuddle your way out of discipline.

If you’re going to be a turd, go lay in the yard.

You’ve lost the freedom to speak.

Be nice or be quiet.

**I** will be the mother here, thank you.

Hey, let me be the mom, you be the sibling.

Scoot your boot.

Hustle your bustle.

Anyone who makes it to the car before me gets ice cream on the way home

I understand. You’re too tired to obey. No problem. Let’s get you to bed.

Go to your bed and count to 100.

An attitude of gratitude.

Many hands make light work.

Eyes on me, ears turned on.

Be a blessing not a burden.

Let us oft speak kind words to each other.

I can be kind to everyone for that is right you see. (So I say to myself) remember this: kindness begins with me.

Obey the first time.

You lost that opportunity.

Thank you for choosing to obey.

Swing hard, run fast.

I’m not an octopus!

Use your power for good.

You get what you get and don’t throw a fit.

Use your words.

We all work til we are all done.


As the new school year approaches, feel free to add your own to the comment section to help the rest of us out (whether through laughing or simply wisdom in words).


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  • JenW - Reading that list made me smile. That’s pretty much the day in the life of a mother!

    I especially liked “Patience is waiting without whining”. I’m not sure I’ve ever defined patience for my kid. I’ll definitely be using that one.

    Also, I do believe that standing in the corner just became laps around the house!

  • Jenw - Also, I really like these type of posts. I like that I get a glimpse into other parenting approaches and people chime in with what works for them. It feels much more supportive than mom forums…which can get judgy and snarky very quick!

  • Cindy - “Go outside and get the stink blowed off you”. My best friend and I grew up in towns 250 miles apart, but both of our mothers said the exact same thing!

  • Southern Gal - My mom always said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” That made your list. She also said her daddy used to tell her, “I could ride to (close town) on those lips” when she pouted.
    My kids didn’t say this much (thank the Lord), but when they said,”That’s not fair!” my husband would always reply with, “Well, it’s not cloudy!”

  • Addie - I say this all the time…

    “fair? who told you life was fair? whoever told you that is a liar, life is not fair”

  • Juli - Do tell… what is the intense homeschooling program that Corbett will be doing this year? My son is also 7th grade, also just surpassed me in height, homeschools, etc…please tell me that your son’s feet stink to high heaven, too! My 15 year old daughter (who also follows your IG feed) and I were just discussing what good friends our boys would be if we lived anywhere near one another! We recently moved to a new state and no longer have the support of the co-op that he literally grew up in. I feel like I’m floundering, this year. I’d love suggestions of what program you use with Corbett.

  • Tiffany - This is a fave of mine too: Use your power for good!

  • Sayonada Y T Laeng - Ha ha — love these. Some things I already say, and some I will be adding to my repertoire. Things I also say are:
    – Let’s go back to bed and start this day over.
    – Keep your hands and feet to yourself.
    – Six feet on the floor (4 for the chair and two actual human feet).

  • Amy D - I find myself saying these two a LOT:
    “Worry about you” (similar to “Hey, let me be the mom, you be the sibling.”)
    “Make Good Choices” or “You have a new opportunity to make good choices now”

  • Katrina - Words, not bodies, please. (for our little guy who likes to communicate by hurling this body at you!)

    Do I need to call the waaaambulance? (for instances of extreme whining.)

    Is anyone bleeding? No? Then go work it out. (for sibling tattling)

  • Trista - The phrase that seems to help my 4-year-old the most is “You get what you get, and you don’t pitch a fit.”

    If you say it in your best Southern accent (which I possess naturally), it rhymes…

  • Molly - I often say “cooperate and appreciate!” and “be kind!” and “go with the flow.”

    I really like your list!

  • Katie Thomassen - My absolute go-to phrase that I have used around the house and now with my swim team…”Suck it up, Buttercup”. My swimmers even got me a t-shirt with the saying on it. I have it hanging on at least two walls in my house. The secret comes in practicing what you preach, however, and it can be a vicious circle! Also, you have to be sure that the smallest ones know what you are implying by the term “suck it up”…my smallest swimmers kept sucking in their little guts every time I would say it until I explained that it meant they were just supposed to endure a little discomfort (aka “toughen up”)in the name of getting to their goals! (but I still laugh about that!)

  • Brittany - One I hear come out of my mouth a lot is “When I ask you to do something I actually mean it!” ??

  • naama - when i was young and complained to my mom that i’m bored, she used to say: well, bang your head against a wall until a good idea comes out…

  • Chris - My Dad used to write letters to me in college and always included the saying “you can’t soar with the eagles if you hoot with the owls”.

  • Carrie - “Leave it….” Then the kids reply “better than you found it!”
    “Work before play” then the kids reply “makes for a happier day!”
    “you were made for hard work!”
    “Those who do not work…..do not eat!”
    “Think before you speak”

    Love these! So fun to read what other moms say!

  • Mary - “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

  • Jenn - I love this. One I think a lot but haven’t said (yet):

    Do not start with me. You will not win.

  • Anne Marie - I love these! A few things I say that my 4 boys will probably remember…
    “What’s the magic word?” {“Please”} – My Dad always said that to us & now I say it to my kids.
    “Quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.” – Another one from my Dad!
    “Once was one time too many.”
    “You don’t talk to your Mama that way!”
    If I ask a question and they say “Yeah” or “Yes” I say “What?” or “Excuse me?” until they say “Yes, ma’am!” (We’re Southerners, y’all!) ?

  • Stephanie - You are old enough your wants won’t hurt ya. (My dad said it all the time when I was growing up!)

  • Debi - I think my kids would say the phrases I say ALL the time would be
    ***People are more important than things. (if something is being fought over, or something gets broken… the relationship is ALWAYS the priority)
    ***Kindness costs you nothing. So be kind.
    ***Assume the best. (of each other! Your siblings are NOT always out to get you!) HA HA HA! Or are they??? :)

  • Suzie Bauman - There are ALWAYS consequences for our actions. Both good and bad.

  • Amber - I think I need to adopt, “I’m not an octopus.” Love it!

  • Cindy B - “If wishes were horses, beggars would ride!”

  • Ezzie3 - How about some Japanese proverbs:

    “Even monkeys fall from their tree sometimes.” (everybody makes mistakes)

    “After the rain, the earth hardens.” (adversity builds character)

    “Stumbling seven times but recovering 8.” (perseverance is better than defeat)

  • Karen B - I have no idea what my children remember that I said to them. But I sure wish I had this resource when they were growing up. There are some great ones!!

  • jw - “I cannot hear whining” When he was younger it was “I cannot hear whining. Try again in a different voice”. But now I can just say I cannot hear whining”. Nothing pushes my buttons faster than a child whining at me!

  • Angela - Patience means waiting for things you want without being angry or upset.
    We don’t eat until everyone has been seated and everyone has been served.
    You can do hard things.
    Are you being a first-time listener?
    Do what you have been asked to do the first time, the right way, and with a happy heart.
    Do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. (Aka You are not getting a reward EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. lol)

  • Angie - My husband often tells my daughter, “only you can control your attitude.”

  • Katie - Our family mantras are “Celebrate your sibling/sister” (meaning, be happy for their successes, blessings, and cheer them on), and “Rainbows, not rain” (when we have little ones that wish to “rain on their sibling’s parade”, or qualify their success/good experience)

  • jules - Oh my gosh… love them all! Makes me smile and giggle and know that I’m not alone in raising kids. Thanks for sharing some of those – very original. My favorite: If you’re going to be a turd, go lay in the yard.

  • Sharla - Love the list. I need to add some of these! :) As a child I would always tell my dad (when I was saying something that I didn’t want his feedback/response to) – “I wasn’t talking to you.” and my dad always responded, “I’m talking to you.” I find myself being my dad a lot!!

  • Hannah - I have to tell my kids alllllll the time…”Use your words, not your whines.”

  • Casey - this is fun, I’ve said many of the things on the list to my kids!

  • Kerry - Making sure they hear and obey;
    Me “what do you say?”
    Kid “yes mom”
    Me “that’s yes who?”
    Kid “yes, sir mommy”
    Me “thank you”

  • Sherry - “Every action has an equal and natural reaction [consequence]. Choose wisely.” Perhaps that was as much for me, to remind myself to let her “suffer” the consequences without rescuing her or fixing things for her. Sometimes so hard to do!

  • Carla - Ashleyann, can I please ask do you use a specific planner? you seem to have so many things on the go and with your love of pretty paper whether there is anything you recommend to keep my world in some sort of order?

  • Happy Friday! - From China Village - […] mom quotes to remember for when Maya’s older. I really loved be kind or be quiet. Goes well with When […]

  • { l y d I a } - “Tomorrow starts tonight

    I think I’ll go embroider that on a pillow. ?

  • Rachel De Haven - I have said so many of these… including don’t be a turd! Hahaha, whatever works, right?

  • Alix - I didn’t realize but I say well that is just the way life is. My 4 year old repeated this back to me one day when I was telling him I was annoyed about something. Well mom that is just the way life is sometimes.
    I also say a phrase my grandma use to say. “Tute sweet” it means hurry up. It just rolls off with a sweeter sound than hurry up.

  • Pam - Get it together!

  • currently : september - […] these “mom” (mum) quotes via under the […]

A year ago my friend Ruth’s boys gave my boys a new book…Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction. I know the name might raise some eyebrows, so lets move past that. Really it is a book for little MacGyvers! Page after page is full of ideas of how to take everyday items and turn them into something small and fun. My 10 year old recently ordered a second book by the author and every table in my house is a reflection of how much they are enjoying both books.

8.16guycrafting-01The boys made me a list of items they needed. Most we found around the house, but we did head to the dollar store to pick up a few more. Their building process includes a scroll saw, hot glue guns, matches, box knives…not necessarily things for tiny guys, but perfect for my crew. It is pretty awesome to walk around a corner and see them working together and creating.8.16guycrafting-038.16guycrafting-048.16guycrafting-058.16guycrafting-068.16guycrafting-078.16guycrafting-088.16guycrafting-09From experience, I know it can be hard sometimes to find things boys enjoy that are outside the realm of nerf guns, legos, video games or books. If you have a boy (I’d say 8 years old and up) you are looking for a fun gift for…I’d recommend one of these books accompanied by a gift card to an office supply store!

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  • Abby - My boy would absolutely love those books!

  • Emily - Thanks for this! You recommended King of Random a while ago and it’s changed my son’s life for the better. He and my husband have worked together on so many projects. I will definitely pick up these books!

  • AshleyAnn - Emily – if they like King of Random, they will definitely like these!

  • Shannon - My two boys will love these books! Thanks for sharing – I’m going to have to look up King of Random too

  • Byron - WHY?!? Why were these not available when I was a boy? Life is so unfair…. 😉

  • Lisa M. - What a great book! My son would love this. Thanks for the recommendation!

    Also, maybe sometime you could do another post about your IKEA cabinets? I know you did a detailed post about them at one point, but I’m having a hard time locating it here. Thanks!

  • Tonia - Question for you… we have had this book for several years but I’ve put it away while we try to replenish every simple household item that the boys have disassembled to use to create. This was my biggest frustration. It seemed that every useful tool in the house was garnished for a project… all the pens taken apart, all the pencils destroyed, all the paperclips bent, and books cut apart. While I LOVE the creativity, I couldn’t figure out a good system. Do you keep a stash of “trash to treasure” items that they can only use to work with? We love this book, but it just needed to take a little time out while I gathered my thoughts. :)

  • Emily Bartnikowski - oh my goodness! We LOVE these kinds of books! The Don’t Let The Pigeon Finish This Activity Book was a huge hit after Christmas and I’ve been snatching up everything I can see that might be similar since then. We’re currently making a sit-in airplane out of shipping boxes from a book that is called (I believe) The Cardboard Box Book….my guys are 6 and 4 — so maybe that’s a good one for your girls? I’ll add these MacGuyver books (I LOVED MacGuyver!) to our TBR list for when they’re a little more confident with sharp objects. Thank you!

  • Amy Arroyo - Perfect timing! We have a birthday party coming up. Used your link and just placed an order! He’s going to LOVE this!!

  • MH - Got it at the library today. It’s terrific! Thank you for the suggestion.

  • Lacey Meyers - SO fun! My boys were looking over my shoulder as I read this post and they all agreed this is a book they MUST have. 😉 They love to make creations on their own so I’m excited to see what they come up with with some guidance! :)