Saturday, May 17, 2014

An Ordianry Saturday

Today has been a very ordinary Saturday. 

The kids fixed themselves breakfast more or less. I laid there in bed listening to them fuss at each other. I cringed at the harsh words and the frustrated tone but then just as I was about to get up and deal with it I listened to them self-correct. I hear the words turn kind and the voices turn tender. That was a good moment.

We cleaned the house up a bit.

We wrote invitations for Emma's birthday party.

I did some grocery shopping.

I made lunch - sandwiches, grilled cheese mostly. The kids watched Shark Tank with Daniel

We went to the Library.

We watched The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - SO good!!

I'm making chili-mac. 

It's been a pretty good day.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reading/Writing

Please pardon this post... My blog is slowly devolving into, I don't even know what, but I just had to write this down here. 


The last couple days I've been reading "Fangirl" which, on the one hand was kind of disappointing. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst thing I've attempted to read. Not by a long shot. Once the main character has a boyfriend everything seemed to just loose focus and the characters kind of fell apart to me but... 

It's about a chick who writes Fanfiction. 
This alone is epic. 

I've never tried to write Fanfiction, but since I read the Divergent trilogy it's definitely something I've thought about doing, for fun. 
 
This whole "letting myself write thing. It is insanely liberating. I don't write everyday but when I feel like writing, even just sketching out an outline for a story or a blog post. I do. Instead of just pushing it aside or shoving it down. And I try to at least read or write every day. I'm happier when I'm reading and writing.

I don't read every day, or even finish reading a book every week, but I'm reading again, reading stuff that I like. Just for fun. (Like what is that?)
For every book I read I start reading like five more. Starting a book and returning it to the Library without finishing it isn't a waste of time because it's just part of the process. When I think of it as a waste of time I don't read anything at all. And that's not an option anymore. 

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

I am that mom

I am that mom who stands at the end of my driveway in pajamas and a sweater with my coffee cup and wait for the bus with my kids. 

I am that mom who waves like a crazy person hoping that one of them will see me and wave back.

I am that mom who sometimes comes inside and cries because they are going to be gone all day. 




This year I felt like I made a big transition mentally. 

This year I felt like I graduated into a new group of moms - the moms with big kids. Even though I am also a mom with little kids - I spend my days with my two year old and we go to the grocery store and the Library and the park together and snuggle on the couch watching Little Bear on the iPad and then we take a nap. Most of my friends have little kids. But I also have big kids. I am a mom who can say "I've been there, and I survived." 

We are coming up on the end of what feel like an era - I was a mom with little kids, then I was a mom with school aged kids and this year my firstborn went to Middle School. Maybe to you it is like nothing, you've been there done that and more but for me - it was epic. I'm all like how did my baby get old enough to go to Middle School?!! (By the way, I'm so glad they don't call it "Junior High" here I don't think I could take it) She did brilliantly. Middle School was a HUGE change but it was also an opportunity for independence and she took it with both hands and made it work. I am so proud of her.   

This year I dealt with my kids struggling in school. This was a huge first for me. My girls have always behaved brilliantly at school. Their sign-in sheets (for bad behavior) are always blank and they always get extremely good grades in behavior. They listen, they participate, they get along. With my first boy - who is quite an active little guy - I knew that this would be different. And it was. It so was. It was hard. It was hard to see him make the same mistakes over and over. It was hard to see the notes come home from school. As much as I don't want to take it personally it is hard not to. It was hard to see my son struggle, it was hard not knowing what to do. But I also have watched him do even better acedmeicallly then I thought he would. He is now reading quite well, writing and doing math even better than some of his sisters did at this age. 
 

So yeah, this year has been a big one. It's been good for me, hard - but good.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Baby


I was kind of hoping I could get this post up by Mother's Day but, well - obviously that didn't happen. This post has taken me a ridiculously long time to write! 

I started babysitting this adorable little guy. I watch him all day two or three days a week, depending on his parent's work schedule and I'll be watching him just for the next couple of weeks. He is pretty much the happiest baby I've ever watched, but after the first week I had a revelation: babies are a lot of HARD work. 


I said to my husband the other day and followed it up with  "how did I survive this stage?!" He sweetly reminded me that not only had I survived the baby + toddler stage before I've done this FIVE TIMES. I suddenly have a lot more respect for my young-mom-self and everything I have been through on this journey of motherhood.

Behind all that cuteness is a little guy who can not be left alone, even if he's safely tucked into a car seat or high chair because he will scream if he does not see anyone nearby. Who needs to be watched constantly and carefully because it only takes him a split-second to go from sitting there smiling to speed-crawling for the TV cables. 


So I've been doing a lot of sitting on the floor lately - doing nothing but play with the baby and Eli and I've been doing a lot of pacing the floor trying to get him to settle to take a nap. 

I'm having flashbacks to when wearing the same shirt (and keeping it clean!!) all day was a big deal. Basic things like eating and using the bathroom feel like a luxury. And then I get to pass him off at the end of the day and take a deep breath and go about life as usual.

It's been heartwarming to see Eli interacting with someone smaller than himself and the added gentleness and self-control that this requires of him. For that reason alone I'm thankful for this experience. It's been fun to get out the baby toys and bask in the glory of baby smiles.

But it's also been tough. Every day he fights sleep and he fights it hard. Today was tough. Eli needed to be kept busy too, if I turned my back on him while busy with the baby he invariably got into mischief. The baby did not want to settle and I was getting frustrated, not at the baby, because it's not like he's doing this on purpose, but with the situation in general. I found myself feeling like something deep inside was exploding. I held the baby and walked him around the Living Room, he starts screaming and trying to climb me, kneeing me in my belly over and over. The explosion inside of me expands... The clothes in the dryer need attention, Eli is asking for lunch. The pressure intensifies.

I do something that I don't remember doing a lot of when my own kids were babies - I lay this sweet sleep-fighting guy down in the crib he sleeps in when he's here, even though I know he'll cry. I shut the door and turn on some soothing music and I make Eli some lunch and put the laundry into the dryer and then go back to the nap-battle. I'm ready now. I'm calm again. I kinda wish I'd done this more with my own kids.

We return to pacing the floor. (I act casual, like I don't care if he sleeps or not, because if I try to make him be still he just screams.) He rubs his eyes. I give Eli some jello. The baby starts to close his eyes. I keep pacing the floor. Finally he is asleep. I lay him down in bed.

I clean up Eli and his lunch mess, and then we sit on the couch. I read to him, cuddle him and he falls asleep in my arms. 

When I start to think about laying Eli down I hear a familiar sound coming from the boys' room. He's awake - just as Eli has fallen asleep. The first day that this happened I was frustrated, but today I accept it. I was pretty much expecting this anyway.

We do a post-nap bottle and he spits up all over both of us. I remember the days when this was my everyday. I change both of us and then we sit in the kitchen and watch the rain.


When it is your "normal" I guess you adapt, you adjust, you cope. You forget a little bit what it's like to not plan meals around naptimes and how it feels to wear the same shirt all day...

When it is not your normal - when you jump into it in the middle, when it interrupts your normal, it's jarring - yet somehow - in the very best of ways.

For all the mess and the stress and everything in between I love this.

I love seeing my kids love on him after school. I love the simplicity that having a baby in the house again enforces. I love that this puts pressure on me in all the right places, like a workout boot-camp for my soul. 

Selflessness pushes at selfishness, my desire to control and do my own thing has to die at the feet of this tiny sweet little human who refuses to sleep. I remember that the pressure inside of me is the diamond-creating kind and that seasons that are hard often, in the end, bear the best fruit. 
I'm writing this to you - mom in the middle of it. This season is hard. If you sometimes feel yourself struggling, don't be so hard on yourself - you struggle not because you are weak but because this is so hard. When you feel yourself crumbling, remember what rises from that rubble can be beautiful. That while the days feel long the years fly by - they really, really do. This stage doesn't last forever - the next one will be easier in some ways, a lot harder in others. You'll reap what you sow. While these little seeds of smiles and love and gentleness and patience in the middle of spit-up and diapers might seem insignificant in the moment they reap a harvest bigger than you might even be able to imagine right now.



Friday, May 2, 2014

Mozilla in the Mirror (Part 2)

This morning was awful. Just a disaster, and it was totally my fault. The kids rushed out the door with only half a lunch in their lunch boxes and nearly missed the bus, because of me.


I sat with them at school later in the day. I'd brought them more lunch, feeling a bit like a morning glory at noon, withered and shriveled up on itself. I sat there with my amazing child and felt like an epic failure. It struck me that these beautiful miracles have been stuck with me, this second rate parent who can't even teach her kids to keep their room clean, or pack a decent lunch. I have to face this fear on practically a day to day basis. But it's just a feeling, not reality. And I have learned that it is a terrible place to live from.


When I believe I am a terrible parent, or, and this might be even worse because it sneaks up on me, when I question if I am a good enough parent, this is the place where my Momzilla comes out with a vengeance. I don't know if I'm a good mom - so I make mountains out of molehills. I choose random stuff as my hill to die on and stand and fight my child to the death just to prove (to myself?) that I am a good parent.

I don't know if I'm doing this right and I explode over things that, at the end of the day, don't even matter to me and shouldn't be that big of a deal. 

At the heart of the Momzilla is fear. One of my fears is a fear of failure. I'm afraid that I'm not doing a good enough job as a parent. That my kids will enter their adult lives handicapped by my inadequate parenting.

And this is my cycle of fear. I wonder if I am doing enough, I fear that I am inadequate, I explode at my kids over something small and this seems to prove my inadequacy. I languish in guilt, eaten alive and from this place of guilt am even more likely to explode, perpetuating the the lie that I am a terrible mom. 

Breaking this cycle of guilt and fear was one of the best things I ever did as a mom. When I finally realized that all of these feelings of guilt were actually making me more stressed out and even more likely to lash out in anger I was able to drop the guilt like a hot potato. 

I thought this mom-guilt-thing was just part of the whole mom-gig. I felt that it was my duty to bear it, that if I wasn't sufficiently worried about my parenting then I must be a lousy mom. I discovered the opposite is true. That twinge of guilt should lead me to apologize, put down the phone, turn off the TV, give extra hugs and look into the eyes of my children more but it should never be something I'm hanging onto, certainly not something I carry around with me. 

When I can see my kids as the great kids that they are, (instead of as sources of perpetual interruption and frustration!) when I look at myself and see the time when I spoke gently instead of yelling, that laughter, the hug, the listening, the PB&J made for the millionth time, and see that I'm doing, more or less, a pretty good job, I am free to do an even better job. All of this worry about "am I good enough?" is actually holding me back from being the best mom I can be.

Tonight after dinner I kicked the ball around with the kids. I laughed with them, cheered and clapped for them. It was an awesome moment. It was a moment I needed and a reminder that I don't have to be a Momzilla, at least not all the time.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Things I Learned: April

Things I have learned, April edition.

I have enjoyed doing these posts, especially as they give me a moment to look back, not just at a week or two but the whole month.

1: This song:
We sang this during the weeks leading up to Easter. Such a powerful worship song.
You can listen to a shorter version here

2) This app: Picfx


Got it for free via the Starbucks app! Love the filters, light leaks, textures and frames. 


3) I recently discovered that gift giving is one if my love languages... in that I love getting gifts! The little thoughtful thing that says I see you, I know you, I care. Those are the best. To me it truly is the thought that counts, the littlest thing with thoughtfulness is worth so much more than a big gift (though I have to say my husband has done a few big gifts and knocked it out of the park) To know someone was thinking of me and cared enough to spend money on me gets me right in the heart. Then turning around and loving on the people around me through gift giving is just fantastic. I have always thought that some of the love languages were more silly or selfish than others and I would be embarrassed to own up to wanting to be love and be loved by gifts - but that's not right. To know how you love and how you want to be loved is a powerful thing.

4) This month I rediscovered this truth about myself. I am a writer. I have set it aside, pushed it away, blogged it away, but blogging and writing aren't always the same thing. Sometimes they are, sometimes not. Every time I read Emily Freeman's blog the writer within me rises us. This month the writer within me has found her voice. She says "write" and my inner critic says "what do you have to write about that is worth the time and effort of writing it out?" My inner writer says "write!" And my inner critic says "what about?" And finally my inner writer screams "it doesn't matter!!!" and finally I realize what I've been missing all this time. It doesn't matter where I start. It's okay not to see the end as I take a first start. I'm not preparing a book preposal or anything like that. This is just practice. This is just about being fully me. It's okay to just write. It doesn't matter if what I write now is not something I ever want to publish - it is not unimportant.  It matters, because it is preparing me for my future, whatever that is. Whatever that might mean writing. It's okay if I twiddle away an hour at night with my writing notebook instead of Facebook or Instagram. It's important work. Even if it's only practicing.

A few weeks ago I picked up a few books at the Library. One of which was a collection if nonfiction essays by Ann Patchett called "this is the story of a happy marriage" and so far it's been a lot about writing. Here is my favorite quote so far:

 "If you want to write, practice writing. Practice it for hours a day, not to come up with a story you can publish, but because you long to learn how to write well, because there is something that you alone can say. Write the story and learn from it, put it away, write another story."

5) This month I got to see over and over again that God sees me. That He cares about what I care about. That He moves for my good, sometimes in surprising ways.

6) This month I started writing about my Momzilla moments. I have another one I've been working on and will post soon.  

7)My dad sent me this. It's short, just about a minute and a half and so very cool. 




And yet again, here I am posting YouTube videos and killing way too much time laughing hysterically at nonsense like this and this.

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