Saturday, April 30, 2011

Lighten Up!

I take myself too seriously. I can laugh at myself, but I still do take it all too seriously. I have a hard time lightening up.

I wish I could be the low key, laid back person I see myself as.

Most of the time I feel like I'm more of this on edge, drained, exhausted and verbally constipated person. Yes, verbally constipated.

I know I do a lot of things right. And there a lot of ideas and ideals I have, that I'm really just learning and grappling with what they mean for me.

And yet I'm in awe, why do these amazing little people love me so much? How are they so forgiving, giving. They always want to be with me. They think I'm like...better than sliced bread!

Friendly certainly thinks I taste way better than gross processed bread...At least she sure seems to for as much as I see her in this position!!!
I feel like I've spent the last six...erm, seven  years of my life doggie paddling. I have learned so much about myself. I have grown, a lot. But as much healing as has happened, I still feel a bit stuck. Kind of tripping over things, tangled and...waiting.

I wish I had the kind of brain that saw things clearly. That could look at a situation in a nice neat...Like this:

People with this kind of brain can explain things clearly. They know what they mean when it comes out of their mouths. They articulate things clearly. They see things in an organized fashion.

And then...There is my brain:
Funny, right?  My brain is a very emotional beast. I if I had to describe how I see things it would be exactly like this! Every thing has too many layers to it to be organized neatly. There are feelings, emotions, vibes (or whatever, things have feelings to them!)...It's not neat and tidy.
Hold on with me here, I know I take myself too seriously...I know I mull over things I can't change, or lament over things I should have done differently. I'm not always going to live up to all of them. If my kids can love me despite my inadaquecies...The fact that I dont' have all my act together. The fact that I don't have all the answers. The fact that I am still doggie paddling through life, kinda trying to figure out how I work... Becoming more aware of myself as a person... If they can love me, WELL WOW!!!!! I need to lighten up...But more importantly?



He has a dream for me, a hope for me...He (needs to be? should be? is?) my hope. And I am His child, His friend, His baby, His. 

And another thing, I was thinking about the girls  how every few months when I look back I think "Wow! They were such babies..." The same is true for me! I need to embrace where growth is happening, celebrate it! I need to celebrate the fact that I'm becoming more aware of who I am as a person, who God created me to be. I need to lighten up and realize, I'm never going to think like other people and that's okay.

It's also okay to try. to learn. to be. I struggle to communicate, especially more and more as words become important to my littles. I mean I'm pretty normal, I'm not a mute...I get by. Actually some in real life (if they know me really well) know me as a bit loquacious (vocab word, whoot whoot!). But when I get stressed or overwhelmed, WHOOSH they leave my brain and my tongue. Stuck: nothing comes out. It's been so frustrating to be overwhelmed trying to communicate verbally to my children and then try to simultaneously handle it physically (like redirecting with my hands full: never a good idea!).

And I'll say, knock my 3 year old off her tricycle. Yup, real winner of a moment this morning. (She was riding towards the center of the street and the only word that kept coming out was "Roo, side side side side side!!" In the midst of that I was right next to her trying to coax her back towards the side, while holding Friendly, a sippie, her doll and her baby doll stroller...I nudged Roo's trike handle bar with my knee and knocked the whole thing over! ugh).

Anyway, there is grace enough...seriously.

Bottom line, it always comes back to two things...The story of the past year. It all comes back to Horizontal and Vertical Parenting .I can't be the best with the horizontal people in my life, unless I'm plugged in vertically. 

I keep coming back to one of my favorite Newsboys songs:
(Light Up by Newsboys)

...Back and forth like a daytime drama
Up and down like a Yo-Yo Ma
Say there's gonna be days like this
Cause light and dark don't coexist

How ya gonna see through this fog
How ya gonna get back on course
Ya ain't never gonna feel the force
If ya don't connect to a power source
Cause ya been swapping out day for night
But ya see a lamp light burning bright
If ya get your flip-flops off the porch
We're passing you the torch

When the boys light up, ya know
Who gets the praise who owns the show
When the boys light up, it's on
We ain't stopping till we're done
We ain't nothing but the conduits
He's got the power, He'll flip the switch
Leaving the dark behind
Light up and let it shine

When the boys light up, light up
When the boys light up, light up

I was feeling all overcome
Had a faith gone dim and then some
Gotta call from a band of brothers
Turn the mic on, flash the Nikons
All the doubters, I heard them say,
Now the band's gonna fade away
But the boys are back for a second act
No excuses, we're lighting fuses
You're in the dawn of your finest hour
So get wired to the highest power
If you're down pick any sight
Get ready to ignite


When we walk in His footsteps
It's a brighter day
When we follow His word
He lights the way
When we lift up His banner
and raise it high
We light up the sky

When the boys light up, light up
When the boys light up, light up

chorus 2x

When the boys light up, ya know
Who gets the praise who owns the show
When the boys light up, it's on
We ain't stopping till we're done
If we ain't nothing but the conduits
He's got the power, He'll flip the switch
Leaving the dark behind
Light up and let it shine

Lyrics produced here for educational purposes only, as heard on Lyrics are property and copywrite of their owners.

Bottom line... There's always grace enough! And also...It may look messy to me now. But in the end I know it's going to be beautiful.

And this is from my walk last night... It was pretty. and strangely messy too!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"L" is for Carrot

Did you know that? Well, you learn some thing new every day.

Roo at 5 days old
Off topic ramble here, hold on! I snuggled a tiny new baby last week. Were my babies ever so small? They were, they were smaller. Roo was 6lbs 3oz when we brought her home from the hospital. She was such a tiny peanut.

Friendly never had that teeny tiny feel. She was a strong little thing. She didn't lose any weight after birth, and went from 7lbs 150z at birth to 13lbs2oz at her 6 week check up. I kinda feel like I missed the teeny tiny stage with her, that  "Oh my goodness how could any thing possibly be soooo small?" stage.

Friendly 1 week old!

My girls are growing. The years are starting to race by! It kinda takes your breath away. When I think on it this is our FOURTH spring with Roo.

I blinked and I had 2 little kids!

Friendly is losing her baby ways. Ooh she still has plenty! But she's talking more, she says things like "Ummmmm" when you ask her a question. She declares "I do it!". She consideres her answers carefully, and even if what she says is unintelligible it is shared with the utmost dignity.
 I love her answers of, "Welllll, oookay". She's 20 months going on 10.  The other day I was redirecting her from digging in her Daddy's desk drawer and she pushed my hand away and said "No! Go away!" clear as day. And then threw a fantastic fit when I removed her anyway. She's going to be interesting!

Roo loves to swing, and is getting really good at the big kid ones!

Friendly likes to practice on the "big kid" swings.

Roo is turning into a little girl. She is a little girl. How'd that happen? I just want to suck her back into that little itty baby she was. I want to take back all that time and relive it with all the experience and tools I have now. Why do you have to be so green when you start this parenting thing? Why can't you just appreciate how fast it goes? Like REALLY appreciate the sleepless nights and the teething crank and the ...everything! Okay I still have some time to snuggle her, lots of time hopefully! But I can't believe how the past 3 years have just zipped by.

Lately, I find myself just pressing pause in my brain. 
Snap take a picture of this moment...Hold it, it's going to go away too soon!

I digress.

The other week Roo drew the letter "W". It was really an "M" but she declared it a "W" and I was just too proud that she made an actual intelligible letter I didn't correct her. Also the "letter" (she informed me) on the left is a carrot "wif an 'L' at the bottowm becwause 'L' is for carrot." again, I know I should take advantage of educational moments, teaching and instructing etc. But I was just too freaking proud to correct her! The carrot was REALLY good! It looked like a real little carrot, until she added the L to it... And she added an "O" on top of her "L". Letter's, letters everywhere!
I love that she's trying, all on her own. I have consciously tried to avoid stressing colors, numbers or letters. This is the only time in their life they get to be little...And I've wanted it to be their genuine interest in why things are called certain colors, and the shapes of different letters. Not my pushing it on them when they aren't really developmentally ready to process it. Sure, we have refrigerator magnets, ABC, Numbers, and Shape board books that the girls love, but other than Sesame street and ocassionally reading those books together, that's been it.

I'm not a flash card kinda Mom is what I'm getting at. 

Anyway it's cool to see how they learn, it just happens- amazing! And it's so cool to see that Roo is gleaning some things..She just hasn't been interested and it's exciting to see that some things are clicking!

Well the girls are asleep...So I will leave you with this thought, if L is for carrot... N is for SLEEP. It's been a long day!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Well Behaved Child Part ONE

Yes, I still haven't finished my Working In the Home theme...I'll get to part 2 soon!

This is a vent post. I think.

Nothing like family to leave ya feeling incompetent and stressed out. :0D

Okay not really.

It's just the "Oh she's a good baby."mindset. (What is a good baby, really?) "Oh well if you train her right you'll have a well behaved child that will make people want to become a Christian." attitude. Oh and did you know that it's rude to let your 3 year old have a carrot stick before we've prayed??

I'll get back to it.

I've been having a random (or perhaps not so) fit of insecurity. Oh Mothering, it's not easy.

I'm a baby person, I've always been a baby person...I love them.

Growing up I just had a natural "knack" with babies. They like me, I could almost always get them to calm down in their parents absence. They liked me and I really liked them. You get it. I didn't mind getting spit up on, drooled on, chewed on. I didn't mind holding a screaming baby. There was nothing I liked more than calming an upset baby down and getting them to fall asleep in my arms. It was the best. I would hold and bounce that tired upset baby and dream of holding my own babies some day.

Then I had my own baby, and I wasn't good at it. Okay I wasn't bad at it. But there were all these hormones and instincts, the crying broke my heart. I was this little persons MOMMIE- if I couldn't make it better who could? I thought I knew babies, until I met Roo. Oh that girl gave me the run for my money. I'm so glad.

This is SO Roo...The, REALLY Mom, REALLY? look
5 weeks old

Oh my sweet Roo girl. She's growing way too fast. She spits out sentences like, "Oh that was horrible." and " Youw're the best Mommie in the whole wide wowld." and "You weally hewt my feelings." And some times mouthfuls of words she can't wait to get out, so nothing intelligible comes out! Oh but the expression on her face is so earnest and and sweet.

I'm so thankful for the lessons she's taught me. She taught me what it was like to hold my baby, to know my baby. to be so familiar with her in my arms that it felt wrong when she wasn't there.

So to my point...I'll try.

The "good" baby thing bothers me. I took a lot of stalk in how you parented, before I had kids. I thought you did a,b, and c and you would get x,y,and z results. And to a point, that is still very true. But I though parenting babies had more of a science to it. And then I had Roo. I thought babies were easier. I thought I would be a good Mom. That I would have an orderly baby who slept, ate and pooped at regular intervals...That's what babies do, right?

I thought a good baby meant I was a good Mama.

My babies weren't "good". My babies have been inflexible at certain stages (okay, make that most stages), they aren't much for sleep. They teeth horribly and with great noise and crank (erm, GUSTO!). They hate to travel and be out of their routine and element. They make every one around them know their misery in these situations and glue themselves to Mommie like little octopi. They don't like new people (though they surprise me at times). They had an insatiable thirst for breastmilk. They aren't big on new places (unless it's outside). They don't like to seperate from Mommie (or Daddy) and protest loudly when some one even approaches with the "I'll hold that baby" gleam in their eye.

They are the epitome of a "bad" baby.

So I must be a bad Mommie, right? I did it to them. I spoiled them. I held them too much, I let them sleep near me, I nursed them too much and should have weaned them sooner (Friendly at 20mos, is still nursing several times a day and a bit at night). Doing those things didn't make my babies mellow like I felt like several parenting sources promised. It was hard!

But you know what? It wasn't about their behavior. It was about what they needed. They came out that way. A little feisty, a little bit more vocal, a bit on the strong side personality wise. They knew what they needed, and they made it known. And my instincts kicked in and I gave. Some times I found ways to meet their need by breaking rules. They didn't sleep well and they needed lots of milk and closeness to Mommie. So I brought them into my bed. I didn't wean them or hold them back, I embraced them.

I heard the analogy recently and I loved it. Imagine you are SO thirsty and you ask for a drink. You hubby brings you a drink and you guzzle it, but right when you are starting to feel the dryness leave your mouth, your hubby snatches the drink away and says, "that's enough, you don't need so much...Too much water will spoil you!" Oh how you looong for that water! You start to crave it more than any thing. It's all you can think about, it dictates every thing about you. YOU HAVE TO HAVE MORE!
How would it be different if your hubby handed you the water and let you drink, and drink, and drink until you were satisfied? You'd happily fill up and be on your way. You wouldn't give water a second thought. It was there if you needed it. Some times if you had a lot going on you might need a bit more water than usual, but it was available.

The same idea is what fueled my instincts. My children needed me. They needed more. It wasn't about how it made me look as Mama. It didn't matter if it made them look like "bad" babies. I am their first expression and understanding of God, what a huge responsibility. I want them to know, I'm here...I'll always be here, my love, commitment, and time for you will never be rationed. Drink fully my baby, drink fully. And when you get your fill, at some point that will happen, you can run off and fly freely knowing I'm here for you...But most importantly, you'll be full of that love, you'll have seen giving, empathy, caring, grace, gentleness modeled day in and day out. You'll have seen the Father's heart for you... And as you grow I'll guide you to find you water in His arms as well. I'll lead you in prayer when you are hurt or sad. I'll pray over you. I'll be there for you.

Why is it about the outside? Why do we control the way we respond to be sure the outside aligns with what is deemed "good"?

I'll take "bad" (or could we say normal) baby and all the lessons that I have learned in giving, in learning to set boundaries in other areas of my life. The lessons of God's Grace and mercy for me.
Oh and now my Roo isn't a baby anymore. She's nearly 3.5 years old. Her cup is starting to overflow...Oh certainly she some times needs some watering! But the sweet giving and empathetic heart that is starting to appear is amazing to behold. She wants to please so very much, she is human. But I am very glad I choose to be bad.

Oh this post is so rough. I want to write more, I want to process more. I want to clarify more. But I'm afraid, I'm out of time. My children need me. Time to head back home. Part Two and more thoughts soon.

Funny How It Hits You...But not really.

At this moment, I'm curled up in a corner window seat at my local Panera Bread. I'm sitting next to a window and the rain is pouring down outside. As I waited for my computer to connect to the network I listened to the couple next to me prattle away in Spanish. It reminds me of my time in Spain... Sitting in a cafe with friends, quickly using their lap top for a few minutes so I could write home. Or at an internet cafe/laundromat in Roma (Italy, obviously) listening to people go on in several different languages.


Erhem, back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

I'm feeling especially... relaxed? tired? done? sad? relieved? quiet? I'm not sure. I've started and erased this so many times. I'm "still" grieving. It really surprises me how hard. And how it will randomly it will hit me.

*deep breath* not crying in Panera Bread, seriously.

I would have been 12 weeks today.

That's all.

I miss you baby, I hope you're having fun with your Papa G.

Okay crying in Panera Bread a little bit.

Just a little.

To my next post...the "well behaved child".

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Working In the Home...PART ONE

I work in the home. Nothing offends me more than to hear "Oh so you just stay home?"

Insert incredulous look here. I won't go on about how much work "this job" is. I've vented before, and any one who has spent a week caring for young children knows, it's can be a soul sucking and exhausting undertaking.

And honestly, I don't have time tonight. I've been in a funk all evening and "escaping" from my family (on the computer) and I need to plug back in and get the girls in bed and spend some time with the hubbers.

To quickly get to my point, I was reading this post on another blog earlier and this was my response:

The commenter who said this, "You might be fine trusting god but I'm not."

For me, it's definitely not as simple as this. It's not a matter of just trusting God to be our "safety net". I firmly believe that some seasons of life, that is what He calls us to. But I also know He lays out in scripture principles for being good stewards of our money. We're not called to horde money, or promised that we'll always live in prosperity or comfort. But we do our family and our testimony a disservice when we just live by the skin of our teeth. Especially if we're setting up our lives in such a way that that is how it's going to be, scraping by for the rest of our life. Savings is important (in fact it's KEY). Living with in your means is important. Having a legitimate budget that is prepared to handle an accident, a lapse in income with out breaking the bank and setting your family back is important.
For some families setting up life in such a way (to have a buffer/safety net) that means Mom has to work for a while. Unfortunately it's not just black and white. It's not just a choice. Life happens. Dynamics, backgrounds, incomes, schooling, what age they got married, when children came into the picture (expected or unexpected): it all plays a heavy hand in what a family can legitimately swing. STUFF HAPPENS. And you do what you can with what is on your plate.

That said, I do work in the home, domestic engineer. I am home all day with my 2 small children. We do live in a smaller apartment (and we lived with family for 3 years because it was THAT important to us that I stay home). My husband goes to Bible school online and works over-time on the weekends. We do have debt due to some unfortunate circumstances and just foolish planning on our part. We do make sacrifices, cook from scratch and do with out/ think outside of the box. I HAVE worked several months outside the home with small children, but we did it so that my husband was home in my place. Was it ideal? Not for us. Was it hard? You bet. But we were convicted that extra income was especially important for us to have some savings so that we could really pay down our debt, and keep it at bay.

You asked, "What am I missing? What is work offering moms that I don't understand?"

I just don't think it's as simple as that. I don't think it's always about being fulfilled outside the home, or not being willing to tighten the proverbial belt. Some times it is, but that should be respected and accepted. We should walk the path we've been called to walk and keep our eyes there. I completely agree with your feelings, I feel very similarly. But judgment (which I know you weren't trying to come across that way)is unproductive and just causes unnecessary strife.

If I could add, I would say. Why are we worrying about this? Why are the "SAHM" judging the ones who work? Why are we more righteous? On the flipside, and I rail against this a lot, I don't think Mom's who stay home (be it by choice or the fact that the family can't afford childcare for her to work!) get nearly enough respect in our culture. Not an iota of the respect that this profession should get! And some times, I think that's why we boost ourselves up a little with the "well it's what God tells us to do" (I don't think God is as black and white and simple as that, sorry). and the "Well, I really care about being the one to teach my children every thing."

Do I believe children benefit from having a parent at home at all times? Absolutely, Yes. But that's the ideal. And as we all know- we don't live in an ideal world. Raising children, unfortunately can't always be weighed by what's "best" (I wish it could!). It's about what is really workable and legitimately going to keep balance in the family. Can belts be cinched? Can long-term goals be pushed back. Many times they can. Some times it's just not worth it, for that season.

Can we re-evaluate what is really necessary to raise children?I think it's important for every parent to do so. They don't have to do any thing with it, but it's good to get a reality check now and then.

So here it is, our kids don't need all the fancy toys, video games, they don't need to ride in a new minivan (or SUV what's that Toyota Highlander commercial- oh that one drives me nuts!). Kids won't remember that they couldn't take the special expensive classes. Or that they were fed cool looking pre-packaged (or for that matter from-scratch organic etc) food. They don't need much more than lots of hugs, some firm boundaries and gentle guidance. Some comfortable clothing to cover their body, and lots of fresh air and time outside.

What will they remember? That you met their eyes when they asked you a question and you were overwhelmed and busy. You stopped and listened. How you rubbed their backs when they were sick. How you stopped what you were doing to play with them. That you took them on adventures and enjoyed them. That you were there when they couldn't sleep and needed comfort. That you had silly special jokes with just them. That you tried really hard, and you admitted when you were wrong. That you were more worried about how they felt or where they were at, than how it made you look. That you apologized when you handled things badly. That you were there, when you were there, as much as you could be.

We can judge (secretly I hope!) that some might need to think outside the box, that some "could stay home if they wanted to" . We can judge their kids (outside behavior) and how, "off they must be because their mom doesn't stay at home". But I think that's just sad. What we need to do is find ways to support families to spend as much healthy time together as possible. To find balance for their unique situation. Yes, to think outside the box. Being frugal isn't bad. Cinching the belt, pinching pennies (whether we need to or not), can't hurt to model good habits of frugality and simple living for our children. But we're wasting our energy asking selfish questions (even if we don't mean them that way) about what other parents choices. Let's focus on where we're at, and what we need to do to make our experience the best it can be.

All that said...And like I said, I have to run.

More in part two!

Friday, April 1, 2011

10 Rainy Day Activities

Things get ugly when Mama is sick. Thankfully (?) it's been rainy and cold this week...Which means, it's time to get creative.

I have a head cold. The kind that make you want to curl up in a ball down a dose of Nyquil and sleep the days away until you feel better.

But instead I'm parenting from the couch. Curled up with the TV on (we're watching Babies right now, girls favorite movie for 6months running...That's saying some thing!), tea in hand and mound of tissues at my side.

I hate colds.

So I was thinking about what is in my arsenal for "survival mode"...And I thought I'd share.

1) TV, but the trick is not to over-use it. Turn it off and be concentrated about watching it, using it. And then turn it off for a few hours until you need another break.

Friendly trying out the new "sit and spin" I got for $1 at the sale this morning.

2) "new" toys. Today I lucked out at the local $1 sale (at a children's consignment shop) and got Roo a new bicycle, a sit and spin, and another baby stroller (yaay! I was tired of having to lock it up because they wouldn't take turns!)...The girls are very happy with their new toys and are having so much fun. But I also have a tub stored away full of toys that we just don't need out. I can pull that out when I need to keep them distracted, switch it up a bit.

*Also with that make sure that you don't have TOO many toys out. I try to limit the bins allowed open to ONE at a time, it really cuts down on the crazies and tantrums and just boredom. It's not as much fun to play with clutter about.

3) bath time: sitting in the warm steamy room helps every one out, burns at least 30 if not 45 minutes and every one is happy (as long as no one is washing their hair).

4) make a tent...We have a kiddie tent- or you can make your own with some chairs and blankets (or like below: a tarp!). It's a low energy way to hang out with the kids with out having to actively play...I can curl up by the tent and we can look at books and rest. That lasts a few minutes off and on during the day.
make a tent!

5)when it doubt pull out some crayons and butchers paper.

6) Beans and rice. Not to eat, but pull out a tarp or a sheet and let them at it. With random spoons, cups, and containers this could seriously burn up a LOT of time. My suggestion is to use beans OR rice...Together it just gets messier and it doesn't give them that "organized" feel, which toddlers crave.

beans and!

7) Set up the stroller...Put the break on and supervise. But the girls love just sitting in the stroller, I don't claim to understand the appeal but it entertains them. They'll sit in it quite happily off and on for quite some time!

ride bikes in the house!

8) obstacle courses: lay down a blanket, a mini-trampoline, another blanket, several pillows 2 by 2 for a total of 6 pillows, and a few balls...They have to crawl across the first blanket, jump on the trampoline 10 times, crawl UNDER the second blanket, roll across the bumpy pillows (as best they can) and then roll a ball across the room (and bring it back). This only requires some directing and counting and fixing the obstacle course is optional.

9) Couch Jumping: a favorite past time of Roo's. Involves SEVERAL pillows (and cushiony blankets) piled thickly in front of the couch...No jumping ON the couch is our rule, only off and you have to take turns.

10) movie theater: pop corn, pillows blankets and a good movie with the lights dim...If you have the energy and your kids are old enough rig up some tickets and a pop corn table and monopoly money SO fun.

(I am not liable for any mishaps or injuries resulting from these ideas...Just saying! Use your own discretion if they would work for your household! ;0)

And if you're just having a really bad day where you got ZERO accomplished...Pull out the video camera. It really is cathartic to see how bad it gets when you don't do anything at all. Really, it is!

Here's my documentation:

carseat sitting in the livingroom because hubby went to pick up compost at the local center today.
And I won't even show the "clean video" I made last week after I worked all morning rearranging the house. :0D

And just because she's so cute...She wanted her hair in a "pout" (whale spout) yesterday:

Happy Friday!