Monday, September 24, 2012

I Am Mom Enough


Take that Time Magazine.



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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ugly White Plastic Stool

Today I'm thinking about this ugly white plastic stool we own.

Random, right?  I know, hang with me.

I do not remember how we acquired this stool.  It's one of those things that I can't imagine seeing in the store and saying to myself, "yes!  I MUST have this ugly white plastic stool for my home!".  And yet, somehow, at some point, this ugly white plastic stool still made it into my shopping cart and into my home.

We've had it since I can remember which probably means I bought it not long after we got married.  Almost 13 years ago.

This stool has been everywhere with us.  3 states, 6 homes, 13 years.  No matter how many miles across the country we moved, we drug that ugly white plastic stool with us.

I was staring at this stool today as it stood in it's place under the sink in my girls' bathroom.  I was musing over how insignificant it is, how unassuming, and yet how indispensable it's become in our home.  My girls use it to reach the sink to brush their teeth and wash their hands.  I use it to reach things that are up high.  Hubs uses it to change lightbulbs.  We would really be lost without that ugly white plastic stool.  Without even meaning to, that stool has become an important part of our household.

And it occurred to me how easy it is to allow other things, like that ugly white plastic stool to enter into our homes and become fixtures without meaning for them to.  Sometimes (many times) it's not actual things, but more attitudes, environments, values and philosophies.

We usually don't seek them out.  Very rarely do we think, "yes!  This is an attitude I MUST have present in my home!".  No, more often than not they somehow end up in our "shopping cart" and well established in our day in day out living before we recognize that they are even present.

It's a tough job being a parent.  Even moreso now in our ever present connected culture.  There are so many outside forces vying for our children's attention.  We are constantly bombarded with what others deem "appropriate" and I know that it is just flat out tiring to always be on guard, filtering what "harmlessly" lands in our shopping carts.

And yet we must press on.  Oh please do not grow weary parents!  Just like that ugly white plastic stool  that once meant very little but now has become so important that we have moved it across the country 3 times without even consciously meaning to, so easily do influences impact our children before we know it.

Today my fourth grader came home with work that she completed the first week of school.  Among the many papers was an interview she did with a fellow classmate:


Someone, somewhere has allowed an ugly white plastic stool in the form of a TV show to jump into their cart and establish itself in their home.  And now there is a little girl no more than 10 who, during a sensitive time in her life, is filling her mind with all sorts of confusing messages and forming her belief system around what she sees on a TV show.

I feel like it's so easy to check out as parents, once our children move out of the dependent infant phase and even the growing independent toddler phase.  Physically they can do so much on their own.  And let's face it, after the toddler years, most parents are tired!  I know how nice it is to not have to wipe bums 20 times a day or brush teeny tiny teeth.  Believe me, I get it!

But as parents we cannot let go of the reigns.  Please do not let go!  As they are learning to communicate and interact in the world, our children are exploring their set of beliefs and forming what will be the basis for their moral foundation.  They need to learn to filter and self-regulate, but they need to do it within the confines of a safe environment.  And environment governed by you.

No one else is going to do it for you.  No one is going to look at your shopping cart and pull that ugly white plastic stool out before you can get it home.  That is your job.  Don't buy it.  Don't move it across the country.  Don't let it become such a fixture in your home that you don't even recognize that it's there, influencing your children and becoming so important that you can't live without it.  Guard your children's heart and mind fiercely, no one else will like you.

My friends, I have to be honest, I think you might hear alot about this from me.  As my girls grow older, I'm finding myself dwelling on this topic frequently.  I spend alot of mental time evaluating and analyzing the influences we allow into our home.  I know some may consider us over-protective, but I think the ever increasing rate of teenage pregnancies (we live in a state with one of the highest rates - #5 in the nation in 2010!) is enough of a reason to stay plugged in.  And that's not even the only reason!  My heart is burdened by the things I know my girls will be exposed to in the coming years, and I am determined to be by their side, monitoring and guiding every step of the way.  I am not checking out, and I hope that as you approach these years you won't either.


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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

On Growing Up A Mother

I've been thinking a lot about becoming a mother lately.

For the longest time, I thought that becoming a mother happened when that squirmy, red, wrinkled baby was placed in my arms for the first time.  Like an instantaneous flash that took me from being a child to raising a child.  In a single moment, the transformation was complete.

And in alot of ways, it was.  As any mother can attest to, the second your flesh and blood begins breathing and thriving, your life is not your own.  Lived out in acts of selflessness that is sometimes hard to comprehend until faced with such a moment, motherhood does fully encompass you in ways you never dreamed possible from that very first second.

Yet I'm seeing now that motherhood, much like childhood, is not a static moment, forever frozen in time, measured by the date on the calendar or the time on the clock.  Rather, motherhood is a journey, a process, an ever changing rhythm of life that ebbs and flows and bends and stretches.

And I feel like I'm just beginning.


This one turned 10 a few days ago.

I have been wrestling with this for months.  Not that she could possibly be 10, because she absolutely can.  She is beautiful and precious, smart and witty.  Funny and fun and everything 10 promises to be.  No, I am not surprised that she is 10.

What surprises me is that I've been a mother for that long.

It's prompted me to think back over my life for the last decade.  It's begged me to reflect on my growth, as a mother, as a person.  It's shown me how the first decade was only the beginning, the groundwork laying phase for the real work ahead.

What a beautiful gift I've been given, to grow up a child from that squirmy, red, wrinkled infant to a beautiful, confident young lady who loves Jesus and is embracing her place in this world.  And what an honor to grow up myself, on this journey called motherhood.  For I am not the same person I was when that infant was placed in my arms.  I may not have yet arrived, or figured it all out, but I am confident on my journey, always seeking God's wisdom and grace for the days that lie ahead.



Thank you, my precious, for growing me into the mother God intended for me to be.  I am not perfect (although you already know that).  I promise I am going to make mistakes along the way.  I promise that in the days, months and years ahead there will be many times you will not agree with me, appreciate me, or even like me very much.  I promise that you will do things that will drive me crazy, or drive me to my knees.  But I also promise that through it all my love for you will never ever falter.  I promise that I will always be your confidante, your biggest supporter, your best friend.  As you walk through the years called childhood, I walk through the years called motherhood.  And I cannot think of any other person I would rather experience this journey with, my dear first born.  

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I'm Signing Over Our Paycheck, Get In Line

This smile?  $3000.


This one?  Right behind her.



I'll be collecting an offering at the end of this post.
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Soooo.. This is Awkward...

It feels weird to write again after disappearing for so long.

It wasn't intentional, I promise.

It's just... summer.

Need I say more?

Anywhoooooo.... here's the deal:

I promise I'm coming back.  Just a few more weeks until the crew is back in school, we are back in routine, my life is back in order.

Then.  Then, I shall write.

Until then, I shall leave you with this picture of Princess #4 before her very first gymnastics class.

Look out world.  Olympics 2028 here we come!



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Friday, May 25, 2012

You Can't Make Mistakes

I had a particularly rough evening.

I know, we're only 2 days into summer break and it's already rough.

But this wasn't about the princesses.

It was about me.

I made the mistake of taking a look at our budget and bills this evening, before putting the princesses to bed.  Big mistake.  Things are a bit bleak financially at the moment.  And have I mentioned that I don't compartmentalize well?

That would be a HUGE understatement.

So unfortunately, after looking at a depressing picture, I didn't exactly manage bedtime all that well.

I'm ashamed to say that I raised my voice more times than necessary.  I expected perfection from my beautifully imperfect little souls.  I needed complete peace in my home to calm the turmoil in my mind.  And we all know peace in a home with 4 kids is an impossibility.

I was not nice.

After getting the princesses in bed and saying prayers, I asked forgiveness of my girls.  I held the hands of my two big girls while we sang our good night songs.  The same three songs we've sung every night since Princess #1 was born.  And as we sang, tears rolled down my cheeks.

These precious babies, entrusted to my care, loving me in spite of my shortcomings.  How do I deserve so much?  I could barely keep it together.



I knelt down to kiss my Princess #2, and as I did she grabbed my hand and stroked my face as it lay close to hers.  She wiped the tears from my cheek and whispered her forgiveness:

"You know you can't make any mistakes."

And although on the surface her theology might be a bit off, I think she said exactly what she meant.  There's nothing I can do, nothing I can say that would put me beyond her love.  No mistake is too big, no error so great that her love can not reach me.

I needed that grace tonight.  I need it every single day.  Thank you Lord Jesus for that grace.  Thank you for showing me through my precious child.

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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hide And Seek

Did you know that trash that has been sitting in a bag, in a garbage can, in the hot hot sun for 2 days is really, really nasty?

All I have to say is that we drink a butt load of coffee judging by the coffee grounds that were all over everything.

And why do I know all this you may ask?

Well, if one's hubs were to wait until he needed to leave for work to start looking for his car keys, and said keys weren't in the usual places, so he had to drive the van to work, leaving one searching frantically all over the house for the stupid keys, fueled by the knowledge that they are stuck at home with 4 kids until said stupid keys are found, and aggravation that they were the last ones to drive the car and are thus responsible for losing said stupid keys - AND that one started to worry that maybe they had accidentally thrown them away in the kitchen trash the night before while unloading groceries... well, that one might be compelled to go through the nasty trash.


One should have waited until a certain 5 year old came home from school.

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Really, TIME Magazine?

Do you think we're stupid to fall for this?


Mothers are the blood, sweat and tears behind child-rearing.  We are the ones that sustain life in our own for 9 months, and birth with pain, labor and strength.  We are the ones who juggle the myriad of decisions to be made regarding our children, researching endlessly, engaging in numerous discussions, enduring sleepless nights.  We are the ones that kiss invisible booboos, have tea parties with teddy bears and fly around the backyard with our super hero blankets tied around our necks.

There are as many variations on the same theme as there are stars in the sky.  For every extended breast feeder there will be another bottle feeder.  For every epidural there will be a drug free home birth.  For every public school student there will be a homeschooler.  For every attached child there will be one tear stained alone in their crib.  We all do what we determine to be the best for our families with the information we've been given.  We all approach motherhood with a foundation, a lens and personal experience to draw upon.  And perhaps shockingly to you, many of us are very well prepared for it.

Do you think we're so dumb that we can't see inflammatory, purposely controversial propaganda when it's shoved in our faces?

Do we mean so little to collective society that it's become fun and games to pick at parenting choices, to isolate the outliers, to make fun of a mother's instinct?

To attempt to divide and conquer speaks volumes about your respect for motherhood, and women in general.

And we wonder why our world is spinning out of control.

Take a step back TIME Magazine.  And Happy Mother's Day.



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Thursday, May 10, 2012

Why I've Been Gone

I've been writing a post in my head for weeks.  Explaining my absence.  Trying to do it in love and not condemnation.  But it never sounded right.  Until now.

Go to the link below, read it, absorb it.  That's where you'll find me.

This is so heavy on my heart right now.  Childhood is fragile, impressionable, fleeting.  I don't want to miss it.  And even more heartbreaking, I don't want to miss the future.  Because one day, in a shockingly short amount of time, I will be desperate for connection with my teenage daughters, and if I'm not careful, they will give me the same time of day I once gave them.

No more.

I'm not hanging my blogging hat forever.  But I've got to figure out where it stands in my list of priorities. And right now it's low.  Way, way low.

How to Miss A Childhood


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Monday, March 12, 2012

So You Think You Know How To Potty Train?


Yesterday, on day 3 of potty training, Princess #4 sat her tiny tushie on the potty, held her legs firmly together and told me in her little sing song voice:

"I win.  You lose."

And then she planted a great big kiss on my face.



What am I supposed to do with THAT?!


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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Love Ya Like A Sis

Earlier this week, Princess #4 and I headed out to Target after dropping her big sisters off at school.  We don't usually make a middle of the day run like that because #4 still naps and I'm doing everything in my power to keep her napping as long as possible.  So divergences from our routine rarely happen.

However.

Princess #4, despite having freshly turned 3, is still not potty trained.  I'm not stressed about this or anything, but it's time.  Hubs and I had determined that this weekend was THE weekend.  Potty boot camp.

So of course, we ran out of diapers two days before D-day.  Why does stuff like this happen?  It never fails.  Murphy hates me.

Actually, while I'm at it, why do I have to buy 30 diapers, when I really only need about 6 to get me through the next two days? Can't there be some sort of "pay as you go" type thing for diapers?  Furthermore, why the heck are the so-called "training" diapers twice the price for virtually the same product with different packaging???  Do they think parents are stupid?

Oh I'm sorry.  Didn't realize I'd jumped up on a soapbox.

Where was I?

Oh yes, middle of the day trip to Target.  SO.  We had to go pick up more diapers, so off we went.

It was one of those rare trips with Princess #4 that was actually fun.  That sounds terrible but, well, let's just say that most of the time she's quite opinionated.  But this particular trip she held my hand, skipped through the aisles, carried on logical conversation with me and was just generally pleasant.  We picked up the blasted package of 30 size 4 diapers (I only NEED six!) and while we were at it we went ahead and grabbed a little potty seat to put on the big potty.  3 year olds have tiny tushies.  We also picked up another package of Gerber training undies for good measure.

All set, we headed to check out.

As we were leaving, Princess #4 broke away from me and almost ran into an elderly gentleman as he entered the store.  Distracted by trying to catch up with her, I almost didn't hear him as I passed by but managed to catch the last end of his comment:

"Is she your sister?"

This photo was taken immediately following the incident.  I needed to see if I did indeed look like her sister.

The thought was so preposterous to me that I automatically assumed he was kidding and jokingly, sarcastically replied, "Oh yes, yes, she is!"

I mean come on.  I'm almost 35.  My womb has been stretched to the size of a watermelon 4 times over.  I know I'm short, but really?  I've got enough lines etched on my face from sheer exhaustion at least let me claim that mommy sleep deprived title with some dignity.  I seriously thought he and I were on the same, "haha, that's funny" page.

The look on his face clearly communicated that we were, in fact, NOT on the same page and he thought me incredibly rude.

He walked past me into the store without another word and it was at that moment, as I stood there with my little mini potty and stupid 30 pack of diapers that I realized,

Oh crap.  He wasn't joking.

Yea! for looking young enough to pass as my 3 year old's sister and Boo! for insulting some poor old guy that was just trying to make conversation.

Excuse me while I go hide with my 30 pack of diapers.
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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hi

Hey yeah, it's me.

Slacker.

Overworked.

Underpaid.

Exhausted.

Stressed.

Because of that, I've been focusing on living life, rather than writing about it.  Forgive me for my absence.

I'm finding that everything I thought was hard about having toddlers is magnified when your toddlers turn into pre-pre teens.

lazy morning with Princess #1

Intentional parenting has a WHOLE new meaning.  And it's down right exhausting.  Worth it, but exhausting.

So the little 'ole blog gets set aside when other things take precedence.  I'll always come back.  I promise.

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Day Love Was Born

While the rest of the world celebrated with their true loves,



I held my true love.

Happy birthday Princess #4.

My world is a brighter place with you in it.


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Sunday, February 12, 2012

There's A Party In My Tummy! So Yummy!

This is the first real party I've thrown since discovering Pinterest.



Will any party truly ever be the same after discovering Pinterest?



I'm guessing no.


I had scads of ideas.  Check out my Mama Shall Have Parties board.  SCADS I tell you.


Paper chain decorations?  Yep.


Rainbow fruit?  Yep.


Crepe paper backdrops?  You betcha.


The list goes on.


And don't even get me started on this brilliance:


The gumball border was my brainchild.  Sprinkle covered top courtesy of hubs.


I'd say my first post-Pinterest party was a success.


The birthday girl seemed to think so.


There's a party in my tummy!  So yummy!  So yummy!



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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mama Got Schooled

It occurs to me that I might be enjoying my newfound freedom that comes with having older children who are able to get up and fend for themselves for awhile before feeling the need to wake me a *little* too much:



When after I've hastened my oldest out the door, chiding her to not be late to school and she looks at me with a mix of chagrin and 9 year old honesty and says, "well, why don't you get up sooner so you can help us get ready on time?"

Um.

Either I've just been called on the carpet or someone's getting too big for their own britches.  Or maybe both...

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

How Do You Know When It's Time?

Today my oldest, along with the entire 3rd, 4th and 5th grade from her school, are going to the high school performing arts center to participate in an assembly called Rachel's Challenge.  It is a presentation put on by the high school students, honoring Rachel Scott, the 17 year old girl who was killed by fellow students at Columbine High school nearly 13 years ago.

My understanding is the entire program is based on this quote, found in Rachel's journal after her death:
"I have this theory that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same."

As a parent, my heart wrenches with the memory of that day. I remember it with perfect clarity. I was only 3 years out of high school myself and I watched the horror unfold in complete shock.  I think it's a wonderful thing that's being done in Rachel's honor. High school students are trained, and then have the opportunity to spread the message of kindness and gentleness to younger students. I believe that's a good thing.

So here's my dilemma. I realized as I was sending Princess #1 off to school, that we have not talked at all about what happened on that fateful day in Colorado. She has no idea not only that such a nightmare took place, but that it's possible for a nightmare like that to even come true.  I do not know how much background will be given to the students today, but I expect that the basic story will be shared.

Like any parent, I want to protect my children from the not so nice parts of this world. I want them to live in blissful naivety for awhile. Because I know once it's gone, it's gone for good. 

But how do you know when it's time?


Princess #1 and sweet friends on her birthday

How do you know when it's time to trust them with more? To burden them with more reality? To open up their safe havens just a little bit to the reality that's outside?

I feel a bit foolish because for Princess #1 and today, it's too late.  Rather than preparing her, my only option now is to wait and see what she learns and then talk about it later.  But that's not really how I want to approach things in the future.

So how do you know?  I do not want her to live in fear.  But I also do not want her to be unprepared.

My friends, these are such big decisions parents have to make.  We unfortunately live in a world with great heartache.  Do you have experience with guiding your children through these waters?  Or were your parents particularly good with guiding you?  I would love advice!



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Friday, February 3, 2012

Snowmageddan or Tornadoes? You Pick.

Exactly one year ago, I was writing about Snowmageddan 2011 with drifts as high as my roof line.


There was NO MILK.  We take Snowmageddan seriously around here.


This year?


Yep.  I'm cruising around with the windows down and scheduling installation for my tornado shelter.

We like weather extremes around here.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Every Child Deserves Celebration, Not Just The First

We've all heard the "rule".  You're not supposed to have a baby shower for any baby other than your first.  It's considered rude, or tacky, or something like that.

I've never really understood this rule because it assumes two things:

A) People don't want to give you a gift for your new baby if you've already had one.
and
B) It's impossible for people to celebrate the birth of your new child without giving gifts.


The problem I have with this that I personally cannot resist giving gifts to my friends when they have new babies, whether that baby is their first, sixth or twentieth.  I mean, who among you can walk by the infant clothing section in any store and not stop and look for just a second.  It's miniature clothing people!  Furthermore, to bring a child into the world is an incomparable honor, and to have the opportunity (gift or no gift) to share in that joy with the ones I love is a thrill.

But the biggest problem I have with the rule is that when spoken in casual conversation without clarifying or putting into context, it flippantly makes the insinuation that the child-to-be is somehow not worth celebrating, because they're "just another one".


You can imagine that as mama to four girls, I ran into this quite a bit.  I suppose people are relaxing somewhat, much to Little Miss Etiquette's chagrin, because I did have showers for each of my girls.  But still, especially by my fourth I had a very hard time shaking the fear that people somehow felt that my Princess #4 deserved less of a celebration.

Pregnant mamas are already on an emotional roller coaster.  Not only is their body not their own, they are tired, bloated and constantly hungry.  They worry over things beyond their control, both concrete and abstract.  The health of the baby, the pain of delivery, how their first born will handle a new baby, how they will handle a new baby.  Will there be enough love to go around?


Ladies, if you have a friend who is pregnant with her second, sixth or twentieth baby, PLEASE do not add to her fears and let her wonder whether or not you feel her soon to be child is worth celebrating.

This is not necessarily a call to throw a full blown baby shower.  Celebrations do not have to be over the top.  Keep it simple, intimate and meaningful.  Here are a few ways that you can show love to your friends expecting another baby:

Host a Sip 'n See after the baby is born.  
Unlike the traditional shower that is held before the baby arrives, a Sip 'n See is perfect for the second baby because it is not held until the babe is in arms.  The main purpose is for friends and family to come and literally see the baby for the first time.  A coming out party if you will.  The host can serve beverages and light appetizers or finger foods, and no gifts are required.  It's just a chance for a community of friends to shower love on the newest member.


Collect donations for a money tree.  
Many times, when a family expands from 3 to 4 (or more), although many of the basics are already covered, there are some things they may find they need that they didn't when they only had one: like a double stroller for example.  Gear like that can be pricey, and sometimes rather than giving a 2nd time mom more onesies and blankets, a large cash sum or gift card might be more appreciated, so it can go towards what is really needed.  Taking donations from your circle of friends can be an easy way to show support, without having to go to the effort of organizing a big event.


Throw a diaper shower. 
This is always an appreciated favorite among moms.  With my first, I think I would have been a *teeny* bit disappointed if I only got diapers at my shower (yes, I know that's bratty.  haha), but when I had my third and my office surprised me with a diaper shower, I was overjoyed.  We didn't have to buy diapers for six months!  That's HUGE people!  A diaper shower can be a fun way to celebrate the birth of the baby, satisfy people's desire to bring a gift and yet still be practical and useful.   Just make sure you know whether or not mom is cloth diapering, so you can specify which sort of diaper to bring.


Organize meals.
By the time my fourth was born, this was my most appreciated gift.  Having hot, fresh meals provided to us for two weeks following her birth was a God send, especially since I was recovering from a difficult delivery.  Like the money tree, going this route does not require a big event, but does take some organization.  Luckily, there are websites to help with that.  CaringMeals.com allows you to coordinate and execute the delivery of meals to a postpartum family.


Most of us (especially mothers), I think, naturally believe that every child is worth celebrating.  But after the first, with busy lives of our own, I think it's sometimes easy to fall into the trap of taking another pregnancy in stride.  It's easy to fail to act.  We may have good intentions, but before you know it the baby is here and life goes on.  Be the friend that insists on showing it.  Take some initiative and shower love on babe and mama-to-be.  It will be much appreciated, I promise.

My dear friends, did you have anyone who took the time to shower love on your second, third, etc. baby?  What experiences have you had with baby showers?  Any other ideas for celebrating a birth?

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