Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Tiara Is Polished

I'm ready.

Are you?

Break out the tea cups ladies.

Tomorrow (today?) is the stuff little princess dreams are made of.


The Little Engine That Could Never Had Kids

So, hubs was gone the last 4 days for a business trip.

Thank God that doesn't happen often.

If there's anything that's going to cause me to curl into a ball in the corner and start rocking, it's the thought of going it alone.

I may talk a big talk here (do I?), but parenting 4 kids is HARD.  Honestly at times it's "Oh dear God what did we do?" hard.  And that's with TWO fully competent, capable parents under the roof.

You take one of those parents out of the equation and it's full on freak out mode.

The thought of getting up, feeding the kids, dressing the kids, getting the kids out the door to school, doing laundry, planning dinner, picking up the kids, feeding the kids, getting the kids to do homework, getting the kids to practice, driving the kids to lessons, feeding the kids, bathing the kids, getting the kids to bed, getting the kids water, getting the kids BACK to bed...  Oy vey.

So while on the outside I put on my best "I think I can, I think I can" attitude, inside I was running around screaming like a chicken with it's head cut off.

Let me tell you, I was not meant to do this alone.

Thank goodness God seems to know that.  I cannot explain exactly how I managed, but I'm pretty darn sure I was the recipient of some extra doses of grace this week.  And patience.  And sanity.

There may or may not have been a lot of bribes in the form of left over Easter candy thrown into the mix as well.

I'm just sayin.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dreams of Grandeur

Princess #2:  (twirling around the room)  Mommy, guess what I want to be when I grow up!

Me:  Um, a ballerina?

Princess #2:  Yep!

Princess #3:  (jumping up and down)  Mommy, guess what I want to be when I grow up!

Me:  Hmm.... a gymnast?

Princess #3:  Nope!

Me:  Well, what do you want to be?

Princess #3:  A MOMMY!

Me:  Aw, well that's a nice thing to want to be.  Why do you want to be a mommy?

Princess #3:  Because I wanna do what I wanna do!

Ah well, a girl can dream.  


Sunday, April 24, 2011

His Grace Is Enough

How many times have you tried and failed?

How many times have you looked in the mirror and not liked what you see?

How often do you wish you could rewind and redo?

How often do you find yourself needing to apologize?

We are messed up, imperfect, lost people.

We try and fail.

And try and fail.

And try and fail.

Any person in their right mind would give up.

And give up on me.

Thank goodness God doesn't evaluate me with a right mind.

He loves me with a perfect mind.

And He extends to me (and you!) an indescribable gift:

Grace I don't deserve.

Grace I don't understand.

Grace that covers it all.

An act of sacrifice,

A miracle beyond reason,

the promise of a glorious, everlasting life.

Christ the Lord is risen today!

Embrace the gift.

Freely offered to you.

Know that His grace is enough.


Friday, April 22, 2011

We Hit 200 Kids!

Whoo hoo!

I've been blogging for 3 years now, and I finally hit 200 followers today!


I know, I know, the numbers don't really mean anything.

Except, when you're putting yourself out there, they sorta mean everything.

It's validation that I'm not completely crazy.

So thanks for following!

Just for fun, and to show my appreciation, I thought I'd highlight the last few bloggers to follow me.  These are gals that have their blogs linked to their profiles, for easy finding (side note, please do this!  I like to know where you blog!)

So without further adieu....


the Luaces Lifestyle

Thanks ladies for the love!  I can't wait to get to "know" you more!


Flashback Friday: Robert Burns Has It Right

I wrote this post almost a year ago and as I was going back and looking through my archives, I found myself needing to be reminded of my words.  So here it is again, for my new readers or old ones who missed it the first time.  Enjoy and embrace your imperfectness!

It's so easy to be the perfect parent before you are one. C'mon, admit it. You know you had those thoughts. I sure did. The "my child will NEVER act like that in public!" scorn shot through exchanged glances across the supermarket aisles. The proud declarations to your friends as you gathered around small tables at Starbucks at 7pm, sipping your lattes, patting each other on the back for how well behaved your children will be someday, and how NOT like that little rugrat running around Starbucks they'll be. Or even the thoughts that were kept to yourself, or perhaps only shared with your spouse or significant other. The ones about how you'll birth with no drugs, nurse until your child is 12 months exactly, give them only organic baby food hand processed by you, train them to sleep through the night at 6 weeks old, never let them cry it out, never ever spank, speak only calmly to them, diffuse temper tantrums with redirection... I could go on and on. And that's only covering the first year of parenthood.

And it really never ends does it? The perfect parent can continue on their parade right through their child's infancy and early childhood. I will freely admit there were plenty of times I strolled through the mall with my complacent, quiet, dozing baby in a stroller, pausing to casually check out things in Gymboree, while inwardly rolling my eyes and cursing the moms who let their toddlers run amuck in and out of the rounders. Or as I hovered in the kiddie play area, protecting my precious toddler from the kids that are clearly too big to be allowed to play and really too old to care.

I'm not sure when exactly it happened, but at some point I slowly started to peel away at the layers of my "perfect parenting". Maybe it was when Princess #2 was born and she cried and cried for no reason whatsoever. Maybe it was when Princess #1 became a young child and started questioning everything - not out of defiance, but because she was trying to figure out her world. Maybe it was when I found myself the mother of 4 children and it became physically impossible to keep all 4 children in check at all times.

Maybe it was when I realized that my children are not little robots to be programmed, but actual humans with needs, desires, feelings. Often selfish in nature, yes. But honest and innocent nonetheless.

You know that poem by Robert Burns? The one that goes "The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." Yeah, that. Life happens. To all who have yet to embark on the journey of parenthood, or who have only just begun, do yourself and favor and start cutting yourself slack now. You are NOT the perfect parent. Your kids are going to screw up. They are going to embarrass you. There are going to be moments where you wish you could dig a hole right there in the middle of Target and hide in it.

I say, embrace that. I think there may be no greater gift than to teach your children that you are fallible and they are too. Yes, we set boundaries, we have rules, we teach patience and tolerance. But we also know that humans make mistakes. And the important thing is that we learn and grow from them. Projecting yourself as the perfect parent is setting yourself up for parental failure and setting your child up for the belief that they can never measure up.

I know we all have ideals. Ideals are what we have until reality bears down upon us. And they occur in every area of life, not just in parenting. But I think parenting is where we are the hardest on each other. Mamas, in particular, can be just so downright judgmental. And it needs to stop. Truly. We can just as easily dole out the grace as we can the judgment. We have no idea what is going on inside a family when we see a public temper tantrum. Maybe the child is physically and emotionally incapable of acting any other way. Maybe the mama had no choice but to run to the grocery store during nap time that day, dragging her tired children with her because the fridge is empty and bellies are hungry. Maybe, just maybe some inexplicable and unforeseen thing set their child off and they are as clueless as you are as to why. Instead of thinking in your head how YOU would NEVER allow YOUR child to act that way (which, by the way, shows on your face whether you want it to or not), maybe just offer a small reassuring smile across the aisle and mentally note that if you haven't been there yet, someday you will. I speak this to myself, because I know that my default response is to be smug.

We mamas are all on the same journey. Most of us want our children to grow into kind, gracious and contributing members of society. We may make different choices in our journey to get them there, but the goal is the same. It's time to put the perfect parent to rest and embrace Robert Burns' wisdom. It's not the plan that's important, but what you do with it when it inevitably fails.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Dear Buff College Dude:

Yes, I noticed your physical prowess.

(I'm not blind)

But that was unfortunately overshadowed by your clear obliviousness to your surroundings.

I'm not sure how you missed that I had a full shopping cart.

Afterall, you stood right behind it in line.

I would expect any normal person to notice that my cart was extremely full (bonus points if they notice all the good healthy produce and natural, organic food choices - I like to think that's impressive, throw me a bone, ok?).

And like most people with full shopping carts, it does take a bit of time to unload said cart.

Judging from your casual demeanor and intent on flirting with the girl in line behind you, I'm assuming you had no where pressing to be.

So I have to say I was a bit startled when you plopped the conveyor belt divider thingy (what's the official term?) on the belt and started loading up your stuff - even though I wasn't half through emptying my own cart onto the belt.

Do you know how those grocery store conveyor belts work?  They move forward.  As they move forward you get less space up front, and more space in the back.

So while you had plenty of space to put your stuff, I was quickly running out of room.

Did you even notice that I had to start just handing my food directly to the cashier, bypassing the conveyor altogether, thanks to YOUR food taking up the whole belt?

No, probably not.  The girl behind you was cute.

So here's the thing:  If you paid half as much attention to what's going on around you as you do your biceps, the tired, weary, put-grocery-shopping-off-until-the-kids-are-in-bed mamas of the world would thank you.

And just be glad I wasn't in the mood for confrontation.


Monday, April 18, 2011

How Do You Handle Fear?

View of the storm barreling towards my city on Thursday night (photo credit).  Thankfully, despite the impressive appearance, no tornado was spawned from this storm.

The photo above personifies fear for me.

I grew up in tornado alley.  I should be one of those that runs outside and looks up as soon as the storm sirens start wailing.  And on clear weather days, I sorta am.  Storms fascinate me.  Unless I'm in the middle of one.

I remember with crystal clear clarity two specific storms.  The first one I experienced as a child, about the age of Princess #1.  That was when I first realized that thunderstorms were more than just loud.  That they could be devastating.  I remember huddling in our hallway covered in blankets, and later escaping out to my dad's place of work (which had a basement) as storm after storm barreled toward us that night. I never looked at clouds in the sky the same after that night.

The second storm imprinted in my mind occurred much later, when I was in college.  An EF-5 storm (the strongest tornado possible) flattened the southern part of our city.  I will never, ever forget seeing my beloved meteorologist on our TV saying "you're going to need to be underground for this one".  It still sends chills down my spine.

And yet, I never really knew what fear was and how it can grip you and hold you captive until I had children.  Suddenly, this Southern Plains gal finds herself in the middle of storms, the same ones of her childhood, except this time with 4 little ones to protect.

The lack of control I feel in those moments often spirals to extreme anxiety.  I feel sick, I feel paralyzed.  I begin envisioning trying to hold on to my babies with a storm angrily swirling about us, tearing our home apart.  My mind can become a terrifying place.

I'm trying to gain control over that.  I can't control the weather.  I can't redirect it's path.  But I can control how I respond to it.  I stay informed about the weather during storm season.  Hubs has hinted that I'm probably a teeny bit obsessive about it (ok, alot obsessive), but for me KNOWING what is happening gives me a tiny bit of the illusion of control.  Then I feel like I know how to prepare.  Our home (as most around here) does not have a basement, and building a storm shelter is financially an impossibility right now (believe me, I've researched!).  So we've sought out other safe places to be.  We of course have an interior closet to hide in, but if given the opportunity we seek out a more sturdy place.  Hubs does this for me, I know, because it's a major inconvenience and kind of a pain in the rear.  But he loves me, and knows I feel better when I feel like we are safe.

In addition to knowledge, and preparation, I also spend alot of time praying.  On stormy days a prayer is always on my mind.  I pray for safety, for peace and mostly for protection of my mind.  Much of my anxiety stems from anticipation and fear of what will never be.  So I pray that I may focus not on the fear and I work to take control over those poisonous thoughts.

A healthy respect for Mother Nature is not a bad thing I think.  I may get teased for not running out to my front porch or flat out ignoring the sirens and warnings altogether.  But I know what I need to do for myself and for my family to keep the fear from running my life.  And for that I don't apologize.  I may be a chicken, but I'm proud of it!

My friends, maybe you don't fear storms, but we all have something in our life that invokes those feelings of anxiety, anticipation and complete lack of control.  How do you deal with your fear?  Is it something you have to face on a regular basis?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Difference Between Girls and Boys

Kindergarten farm scenes at the district art show:

Girls:  High probability of rainbows and sunshine.

Boys:  Extreme risk of alien abduction.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Oh The Drama

Princess #3 BEFORE: covered in pizza (thanks to dinner) and dirt (thanks to the wind), posing with plastic knives (???  I honestly have no idea).

Princess #3 AFTER (literally 5 seconds later):  still covered in pizza and dirt, but now also a teensy bit wet thanks to Daddy and the water hose.  Mean old Daddy.

See that dimple?  I die.  Too bad it only comes out during high drama.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Excessive Giving

"Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more?" ~ David Platt, Radical.

This is what I've been mulling over lately.

It's so easy to look to our neighbors and see what we don't have.  Each of us could probably make a list several pages long of all the things we'd love to own, if only we had the money to buy them.

And yet, let's be honest, even in our humblest of living, we're blessed beyond words.

So why do we always want more?  What is it we're looking for?  Why is it so easy to live, surrounded by what would be considered luxury to most of the world, and yet still be so unsatisfied?

I can't sit here and honestly say I'd just give it all away.  I can wander through Target for hours on end for a reason, people.  We all have our weaknesses.

But I do like what David Platt is saying, because it causes me to stop and reassess:  if we were to get a bonus on the next paycheck, or if we were presented with an opportunity to earn more money, where would it go, and why?  Is there ever a point we could reach where we'd say we have enough, anything above and beyond this we're going to give away?

Just something to think about.


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Things I'm Noticing

I only change a diaper about 3 times a day.

Bibs are used as dish rags.

Naps are getting shorter.

The stroller is collecting dust in the garage.

"I do it" and "No help me" are frequently heard.

The bin of baby toys in the attic is beginning to overflow.

Kisses are hit and run.

Baby blankets are used as super hero capes.

The diaper bag sits untouched.

You know what this means....

We've passed the point of no return.

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