Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mouse in the Warehouse

When we moved to Portland nine years ago, it was such an adventure.  I had so much fun figuring out how to maneuver around the area, where to find the necessities of life.  Fast forward to the present.  It has been eight months since we moved and I still feel lost, and I hate that feeling.
It may seem strange, but I haven't the slightest idea where the best place to buy a wall calendar is.  I used to have a few favorite places I would look until I found just the right one:  functional and beautiful.  Now, that small, seemingly insignificant detail eludes me and I feel lost.
I know, you're thinking, A calendar?  Really?  You're upset because you can't find a wall calendar?
No, not exactly, but then, in a way, yes.  The fact that I don't have a special place to go (not just an ordinary Staples box store) and browse through calendars makes me feel very lost, and small.  Southern California is huge.  If you've never been here, it's like going to a huge wholesale warehouse and staring at everything around you, not knowing where to start;  knowing it will take you hours to see everything, and even after you've been through all the aisles, you can't remember what you just saw or where it was.  In a word, it's overwhelming.  The vastness of SoCal is just unimaginable unless you've experienced it.
So, yes, I can't find a calendar and that fact makes me feel insignificant.  You realize, of course, that this is just like the straw that broke the camel's back.  Lots of little things add up to one big, overwhelming, insignificant, insurmountable plight.
I am a little mouse trying to find my way around the warehouse.  I'm trying to make my little corner a cozy home, but sometimes the outside still seems overwhelming.  I know it takes time, and I'll get there.  I'm just being honest here.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Love and Discipline

Why is it so hard to discipline our kids?
The other day, I watched as a mom friend told her son to stop doing something.  He didn't stop, and it was obvious to me that action was required on her part.  I am pretty sure that she realized that she needed to discipline her son as well, but she decided that it was just easier to ignore the behavior.  Now, maybe her reasoning was that she had company and didn't want to ruin the fun; I don't know, and I'm not judging her - I've done the same thing many a time.  It made me wonder how many times I have chosen to ignore an undesirable behavior instead of taking time to address it right away.
So often I would rather just ignore the behavior of my kids.  It isn't really hurting anyone, right?  Wrong.  It is hurting my kids.   By ignoring misbehavior, I am telling my kids that it is okay to misbehave.  I have seen my daughter look at me as she does something she thinks might be wrong.  She is wanting to know if I'm going to stop her, or if I'm going to let her continue.
Ignoring bad behavior is the same as condoning it.   Plato said, "I shall assume your silence gives consent."  If we teach our children to ignore bad behavior now, will they speak up as adults when they see wrongs done?  By addressing bad behavior in our children now, we are also teaching them to address wrongs when they see them.
As hard as it is to discipline our kids right away, we do them a huge disservice when we don't.  The Bible says a few times that the Lord disciplines those he loves.  If we love our children, we will discipline them when they are doing wrong, when they are sinning.  My job as a mom is to raise my children to be responsible adults, and responsible adults speak up when something is amiss.
I love my kids dearly.  Yet, sometimes it is so hard to do the right thing and discipline them when they need it.  I am going to challenge myself to address the issues right away with my kids.  Will you join me on that challenge?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Laundry Love

The one chore that I enjoy the least is laundry.  Or, more specifically, putting the clean laundry away.  I actually like the washing part.  I could wash 10 loads in one day.  It's the putting away part that I have trouble with.
My laundry set-up is different than I am used to.  The laundry room is now downstairs, so it seems like such a bother to take the clothes downstairs just to take them back up again.  However, I've discovered that if I fold or hang them straight out of the dryer, it's much easier for me to put them away. 
So, with that in mind, I decided I needed some inspiration while I was standing in the hot laundry room doing the folding that I dislike.  We live in a rental, so I can't paint the laundry room (or any room for that matter) the bright colors I would love to see.  I'm soooooo tired of brown (which is saying a lot for me).  Since I can't paint the entire room, I decided I could at least paint a little saying on the wall and just cover it up quickly when we move.  I scrounged up some of the extra house paint from the garage and in an hour, my laundry room was a much happier place.

I think that pretty much says it all.
What chore do you despise that you need to do in love?

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

5-Minute Pedicure

As a mom, I often don't feel like I have the time or money to go out and get a pedicure, but I do like to have pretty toenails!  So, I've perfected the art of a very quick pedicure.  If you have five minutes to sit down, you can polish your toes!  But don't do this if you are just about to go out the door; do it before you shower.  Since I usually shower at night (the only time I'm able to with three kids!), it's easy for me to get the polish off my skin before anyone sees my toes.
Step 1) Trim and rough file nails.
Step 2) Using a quick dry nail polish (I like Sally Hansen's Insta-Dry), quickly paint nails with a thin coat of polish.  Do not worry about getting the polish on your skin.  It will look really messy at first, but trust me, it will look good when you are done!
Step 3) Let the polish dry.  If it is a quick dry polish, this should only take a minute.  Probably by the time you get the other foot done, the polish on the first foot will be dry.  If needed, apply a second coat.  I often take a break in-between coats to take care of a child.
Step 4) In the shower it is easy to peel the excess polish off your skin.  It will stay on your nails and not get smudged.  If the polish seems a little stubborn, gently use a soaped up pouff to scrub it off your skin.
And now you have beautifully polished toes!  Throughout the week, as I notice a chip in the polish, I will do a quick fix job.  Up close it doesn't look perfect, but the only people close enough to your toes to see will be your kids, and they won't care that it looks a little lumpy.
Happy polishing!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Work Schedule

It was 4 p.m.  I was looking forward to having my husband come home for dinner and helping me put the kids to bed.  It had been a difficult day with the kids and I just wanted some adult conversation and time to relax.  Then the text came.  "I have a meeting at 5:30 and will be home after 7:30.  Working 10 - 10 on Thurs., swing shift on Friday, and likely will need to work on Saturday."

What would your reaction be?

Honestly, my first reaction was not very gracious.  I was upset because I hadn't had an adult conversation in almost two weeks.  I was upset because he would be on a business trip the next week and I would be even more alone.  I knew I needed to change the way I was feeling, but how?

My friend recently told me that she admires me for being so flexible about my husband's work schedule.  I laughed and asked her what else would I do?  Whine and complain about something I couldn't control?  She replied that a lot of women would do just that.

That was a light bulb me.  I try really hard not to complain about my husband's schedule...out loud.  But I know that in my heart, I do just that.

The fact that he works allows me to say home and raise our kids.  His work requires him to be on call 24/7, and he often gets calls or texts in the middle of the night.  His job often has him working long days, and odd hours; we never know from one day to the next what his schedule might be.

MY job is to be supportive of him and to be the keeper of our home.  Complaining because he isn't able to come home from HIS job and relieve me from MY job is wrong.  I am not saying that it is wrong for my husband to help out around the house and with the kids, I'm saying that my attitude is wrong.

God has given my husband a great means of earning money.  God has given us three wonderful kids and a house to live in.  God has given me the responsibility of raising those kids to have cheerful attitudes and to be thankful.  How can I teach them to be thankful and cheerful when I am whining and complaining about the job that God has given to my husband?

Psalm 92:1  It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD.
Philippians 2:14  Do all things without complaining and disputing.
Philippians 4:5  Let your gracious attitude be known to all people.
1 Thessalonians 5:18  In everything be thankful, for this is God's will for you.
Ephesians 4:23, 29, 31, 32  Be renewed in your mental attitude... Let no filthy talk be heard from your mouths, but only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment. This way you will administer grace to those who hear you...  Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, quarreling, and slander be put away from you with all hatred.  And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God has forgiven you in the Messiah.

Well, that is convicting.

Be renewed in my mental attitude.  How?  By thinking on everything that is true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, commendable, praiseworthy, and excellent.  By practicing what I have know to be right; by making my words gracious so that my heart will follow.

Of course, I also shouldn't be acting the martyr and not saying anything about my needs.  But I should make sure that my heart is in the right place before I do, and then speak graciously.

I challenge you (and myself) that the next time you feel tempted to complain about your husband's job, instead to thank him for working so hard to provide for your family.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Husband Rant

How do you talk about your husband?  Do you vent about him to your friends?  Or do you make your friends jealous by bragging about what a wonderful husband you have?  Does your husband have complete confidence in you?  When you and your husband have an argument in the morning, does he think that your best friend knows of it by noon?

 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29 (NASB)
Every time I talk with a specific friend, she complains about her husband in some way.  This makes me very uncomfortable and I try to change the subject as soon as I possibly can.  By her telling me her husband's flaws, my estimation of him gets knocked down a peg each time, whether I want it to or not (by the way, my estimation of her also gets knocked down a peg).  "Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers." (KJV)  The word for corrupt in Greek means rotten, or worthless.  It is rotten and worthless to say negative things about your husband. There is no point, other than making you feel better because you can vent.  Unless you are venting to God or to your husband, you are venting to the wrong person.
When you speak ill of your husband, it is as if you are airing your dirty laundry for all the world to see.  You are uncovering your husband, exposing his flaws, when you should be preserving his dignity.  "Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen." (NIV)  Telling of your husband's flaws does not build him up; it tears him down.
I want my friends to think I have a wonderful husband (which I do, by the way).  Whenever I talk about him, I want my words to be encouraging, to be a blessing, to be gracious.  "Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." (NLT)
All marriages have rough patches.  Every wife gets irritated with her husband.  However, this does not give you leave to be disrespectful of him.  If you have a problem with your husband, go to him!  Pray that God will 1) help you see if you are in the wrong and 2) give you respectful words to figure out how to solve the problem.  If you need advice on how to handle a situation, go talk to a mentor woman who has your complete confidence; but I warn you, make sure your heart is in the right spot, because if it isn't, you may not like what she has to say about your attitude and heart condition.
"Let no filthy talk be heard from your mouths, but only what is good for building up people and meeting the need of the moment. This way you will administer grace to those who hear you." (ISV)
I challenge you (and myself): the next time you want to vent to your friend about your husband, instead, say something that builds him up and makes him look good in her eyes.  He may never know that you said he is a wonderful husband, but she will.  And so will you.

photo credit

Saturday, October 20, 2012

If Mama Ain't Happy. . .

My kids woke up before 6:00 a.m. this morning.
I rushed into their room.  "It is not time to wake up yet.  It is pitch dark outside.  Lay down and be quiet!"  My whispered instructions were not at all loving or full of grace.
I went back into my room and contemplated laying down when I heard the giggles coming from the kids' room.  I stormed back in and started to mutter threats at the kids, but when I realized the alarm would be going off in a minute, I stood with my hands on my hips, looking toward heaven and sighed.  "You might as well get up."
I flipped on the light, not caring that it made them both duck their heads from the brightness.  I marched into the kitchen and started slamming doors as I got their morning milk ready.  I had been awake since 4:00 a.m. because of the baby, and I was not in a good mood, to say the least.
Then that still, small voice spoke to me.  Do you really want to start your day off in a bad mood and take your bad attitude out on your kids?  Do you want your husband to suffer because you are cranky?  I sighed again.  No, Lord, I don't want to have a day like that.  Please forgive my bad attitude and help me to be gracious to my family.
I brought the milk out to the kids with a smile and asked them if they were ready to have a fun day.  And the rest of the day turned out pretty good.  However, it could have been a horrible day.  I could have chosen to make my family as miserable as I was.  After all, it was their fault I was in a bad mood to begin with, right?
Life will always make us miserable.  If we decide to let the bad things that happen to us dictate the way we act, we will be miserable indeed.  However, we can choose how we react, and choose to be joyful, even when we don't feel joyful.  The first step to being joyful and gracious is to act joyful and gracious.
I'll bet when you read the title, you finished it in your mind: If Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.  Sadly, it is a true saying.  As wives and mothers, we set the tone for our homes.  If we choose to be in a bad mood, it rubs off on our kids and husbands.  Then we have a household full of resentment and discord.  However, if we choose to set aside our own selfish attitudes of crankiness and dissatisfaction, and instead, choose to be joyful, our homes will be full of happy husbands and content children.
I challenge you, the next time you are having a bad day, pause for a minute and ask the Lord to help you set aside your bad attitude, and give you grace to love on your family in a joyful manner.  Trust me, if you sincerely want to change your demeanor, God will help you. 
Because the opposite of that saying is also true:  If Mama is happy, then everybody is happy.

Monday, October 8, 2012

In Mourning

It's been a while since I've blogged because, well, I've been having a very hard time emotionally.  I have never really mourned for a person; I've missed people who have died, but while I would miss them, I knew they were in heaven because they have all been Christians.  Well, now I feel as if I am in mourning, not for a person, but for a place.  I have said good-bye to Oregon, and it is very likely that I will never live there again.  I probably won't even visit Oregon again (or at least that is how I feel). 
I am not yearning to go back to Oregon.  But I do miss it.  I miss the place, as well as the people.  Oregon really felt like home to me, like no place ever has before.  I felt as if I belonged there.  I could easily see living the rest of my life there.  So, I feel as if I am mourning the death of a dear friend, because I really miss everything about living in Oregon.
You are probably thinking, waa waa waa, get over it already.  You may be right.  But here's the thing: I am not yearning to go back.  I'm not pining for the place or the people.  I miss them.  To me, it is as if my life in Oregon has died, and I will never get it back.  I am not longing for my life in Oregon back, because that will never happen (even if, by some miracle, we move back, things will have changed).  I just miss it.  Plain and simple.  And it has been very hard on me.
I am having a hard time trying to make our new area feel like home.  The church we have decided on does not yet feel like a home church to me.  Always before, when I was looking for a new church, I found one that felt like "home."  This time I haven't had that "home" feeling.  I am determined to invest myself in the church, though, and give it a real chance.
I have had a hard time making connections with other women because 1) we moved unexpectedly after I had already started putting roots down and making connections and 2) the second move was at the beginning of summer when there were no activities going on and it was too hot to go outside to meet our neighbors or other moms at the playground.
All of this, on top of the stresses and sleep deprivation of having a new baby along with a 3- and a 5-year-old have made me an emotional wreck.  I am not proud of that, and it is embarrassing to admit.  But that is why I haven't blogged in a while.
So, now I'm back.  See you in a few days with my next post.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Uptight Mom

Not only am I a fearful mom, I am an uptight mom.  Some of the most relaxed moms I know have multiple kids; the more kids, the more relaxed the mom seems to be.  One would hope that with the advent of our third child, I would learn to be a little more relaxed (so far, that hasn't happened!).

By "uptight" I mean that I often feel as if I am constantly monitoring my kids.  I'm always telling them not to do something: don't take the pillows off the couch, don't throw that toy, get off of your sister, don't pull your brother's hair...

I hate the way I sound.  My kids probably do as well.

Sometimes I find myself telling my kids not to do something and then I wonder why I even said it.  Does it really matter if they dump all the toys out of the toy box?  I think the reason I don't want them to make a mess is because I don't want to deal with the headache of getting them to clean up.  But isn't that part of being a parent?  I have to keep reminding myself that I am raising my children to be competent adults.

But back to being uptight.  I just need to relax and let my kids be kids.  Because, while I am training them to be competent adults, they are still kids and need to be kids.  So what if they make a mess?  Life is messy.  So what if they break one of their toys?  It's a good moment to teach them to take care of their belongings.  If they hurt each other by fighting...well, there is a valuable lesson there, as well.
So how do I relax and let the kids be kids?  I'm trying not to be an uptight mom by determining whether or not what my kids are doing is really going to matter in the long run.  I'll stop them from banging on the window with a toy, but banging on the carpet?  Why not?  I'll ask myself, "Does it really matter?"  If it isn't going to hurt some one or some thing, I should let it happen.  Just because I am inconvenienced doesn't mean I should stop my kids from playing.
So, here's to relaxing a little and letting my kids be kids.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Question: Screaming

My almost three-year-old girl loves to scream.  She screams at the slightest provocation.  This morning, she woke the entire house with her "playful" screaming.  It is getting out of hand.  She has the vocabulary of a four- or five-year-old, so telling us what is wrong is no problem.  We can't seem to get her to stop screaming, though.
So, how do you get a child to stop screaming all the time?


Blogger answers:
Mary Lou: We did go through that with with DG to some extent. For us once we explained that the screaming was not acceptable and that she would be removed to her room every time where she would be disciplined, it became a disobedience issue for us. I know everyone is different. But perhaps removing her to her room every time. If you are out, removing her to the van.

Tiffany R. My son who is almost 6 has always been quiet but has recently discovered screaming and I mean those blood curdling screams. He thinks it's funny, we don't. Thankfully for us he doesn't do it all the time but when if he does and he doesn't stop then he is disciplined. We try explaining to him that you don't scream like that unless there is really something wrong.
I think with your daughter too it might be her age and a stage she is going through. I agree with what Mary Lou has said too. I'm glad that you have been posting lately! I always enjoy seeing your emails! Thanks for keeping it real too!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Freedom from Stuff

When we moved out of our house in Portland, we left most of our household items and moved into a temporary apartment for two months.  It was a furnished apartment, and had quite a few amenities, but there was also a minimalistic feeling about the apartment.  For a family of five, the dishware was barely adequate.  But I tried not to complain - we were only there for two months, and we were there as a family, instead of me staying behind in Portland with the kids while my husband started his new job in California.
After two months of this simplistic living, I realized that there are a lot of things I can do without.  When our household finally arrived on the moving truck, I was thrilled to have a fully stocked kitchen once again.  And then I started the process of unpacking.  Oh. My. Gosh.  We have a bunch of stuff!
As I sorted through the boxes of stuff, I started to get a little depressed.  It was actually a little freeing not to have a bunch of things around me while we were in the apartment.  So I've decided not to be depressed by all the stuff we have.  I'm going to enjoy everything I own, or I'm going to get rid of it.
I have come up with this motto: Love it, Use it, or Lose it.  If I don't love it or use it, I'll get rid of it.  There is absolutely no point of having something that I don't use.  Just as pointless is having something I sort of like, or something I don't like at all.  It's like that sweater in your closet that you keep only because you might wear it someday, even though every time you put it on you hate how you look in it.  GET RID OF IT!  Really, it is very freeing to only have things around you that you love.
As I unpack, I ask myself, "Is this something I use?"  By "use" I mean: can I define a specific time when I use the item?  "Use" doesn't mean that I might want to use it at some point, but can't pinpoint exactly when.  If I'm only holding onto it because I might need it sometime in the future, I'm getting rid of it.  It is clutter.
I also ask myself, "Is it something I love?  Does it have meaning to me?"  And if I don't love it, or it doesn't mean anything to me, I get rid of it.  For instance, my curio cabinet has a bunch of pretty things in it.  One thing is a miniature salt and pepper shaker that was given to me by a friend who couldn't use them.  I love how they look, but they don't mean anything special to me.  So, I was about to get rid of them, but then realized that I could use them.  They match my dishes and I could keep them on my table.  Perfect.  One item I love is now getting used.
Something else in my curio cabinet is a red glass coffee service.  It is pretty, but I don't particularly love it.  It was my grandmother's, but it wasn't anything special to her, she just bought it because it was pretty.  So, since I will never use it, and I don't love it, and it doesn't have any memories attached to it, I am going to get rid of it.
I just finished getting the master bathroom set up the way I want it.  I pulled out a bunch of pretty containers and a pretty tray that I've been holding on to but haven't used, and I found uses for all of them.  I plopped my wedding bouquet into a vase and placed it in a corner of the counter.  I love how refreshing my bathroom feels now.  There isn't a bunch of clutter on the counter, and everything on it is something I love, use, and/or has meaning to me.
Do you look around your house and just see a bunch of stuff?  I challenge you: Love it, Use it, or Lose it.  You may just be surprised at how freeing getting rid of stuff is.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Vision

With the birth of my third child, I have really been pondering how I want our family to look.  What do I want to focus the eyes of my family on?  What traditions do I want to set up?  How do I want to make celebrations memorable?  How do I want to make Sundays special?  What values do I want to instill in my kids that will carry them through adulthood?  Businesses have a mission statement, a vision of where the company wants to be in five years.  I started thinking about how I want my family to look like in five, ten, twenty-five years. 
First off, I want the center of my family to be Jesus.  I want a family that is joyful and loving.  When someone walks into our house, I want them to feel like Jesus lives here.  And I want to incorporate Jesus into the traditions we keep.
I want the kids to look forward to those traditions every year and cherish them when they are older.  The first tradition we started is an Advent calendar that tells the Christmas story.  My mother- and sister-in-law made it for my eldest's first Christmas.  My husband had one growing up and remembers it fondly.  I want to build that fond memory for my kids.
Sundays in our house are fairly un-remarkable.  The only thing that makes Sunday different from any other day is that we go to church in the morning.  I want Sundays to be a day that is looked forward to with joy and excitement, and to be looked back on in fond remembrance.  When the kids are out of the house, I want them to remember the Sundays that we spent together and cherish those moments.
How will I make these traditions happen?  I'm not sure; I have a lot of thinking to do on the subject, which will probably happen as I type my thoughts out on this blog. :)
Do you have a vision for your family?  How have you accomplished it?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday's Meal: Popovers

These are so easy, and extremely yummy!  You can serve them plain, with butter, jam, cream cheese, or stuff them with almost anything you like.  I stuffed a few with some leftover Mexican rice for a simple meal.
Popovers
4 eggs
2 cups milk
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp dried herb or spice (I like sage for a savory, or cinnamon for a sweet)
Whisk eggs until light and fluffy.  Add milk and whisk until incorporated.  Add flour and salt on top of liquid and whisk gently until the flour is moist.  There will be a few lumps.  Let batter sit for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking spray or grease with clarified butter. 
Stir batter one more time.  Pour batter into muffin cups almost to the top.  Bake for 30 minutes and DO NOT OPEN OVEN while they bake. 
Remove muffin pan and immediately pierce the top of each popover with a knife to let the steam escape.  This will keep them from being soggy.  Let them sit in the muffin pan for a minute before turning them out.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Today's Blessing

One tired baby, needs to go to bed.
Two hungry children, waiting to be fed.
One mama rocking said baby to sleep,
One child yelling, Have you seen my Jeep?
A toddler on the toilet yells, Can you wipe me now?
Mama rocking baby silently wonders, How?
Setting screaming baby down she opens bathroom door
And tells the five-year-old to go and rock the baby more 
The two-year-old is taken care of, now it's the elder's turn
Mama also needs to go potty, for privacy she yearns.
Quickly setting granola bars out for the kids
She hopes the baby soon will close his sleepy lids.
Finally everyone is quiet, eating snack or taking rest,
And Mama finally takes a breath and realizes how she's bless'd.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

I Need A Refill

I hated myself yesterday.  I hated the way I spoke to my kids.  I hated the way they reacted to my tone of voice.  It was not a good day for me. 
I could make many excuses:  I just had a baby.  I am recovering from a major surgery.  My hormones are contributing to my emotional state.  I have not been getting enough sleep.  I am stressed out by everything that needs to be done before we move.  But all of those, while true, do NOT excuse my behavior.
My kids deserve a mom who is loving and gentle at all times.  They do not need a mom who gets annoyed easily at every little thing.  Especially right now.  They are picking up on the underlying anxiety of my husband and me.  My eldest is realizing that we are moving and has his own anxiety about that, even though he doesn't fully comprehend what is happening.
A friend of mine asked today, what does your happy place look like?  My happy place is my home, and it is what I make of it.  I am the one who sets the tone of my home.  If I am happy, my home will be happy.  If I am upset, anxious, annoyed, frustrated, etc, my kids will reflect that and my house will not be in a happy place.
So then, how do I become happy?  It is more than just putting on a smile and faking it (though that is a good start, you often end up feeling what you are purposely portraying).  I need to get my inner joy refilled on a daily basis by spending time with the Lord in reading the Bible and praying.  I haven't been doing that lately and my kids are suffering for it.  It is time for me to get back into the habit of daily refilling my joy and spending time with God. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

My Little Gift

I am in love with a new little person.  You may think, "Of course you are!  You just had a baby!  Who doesn't love little babies?"   Me.  That's who.  I don't love newborns. 

I have said it before, and I will say it again.  I am not ashamed of the fact that, in general, I do not enjoy the first three months of infancy.  It is a very difficult time learning how to get to know this new person who has come into your life.  I would find myself annoyed with my new baby because I didn't know what the crying meant.  The lack of sleep intensified the negative effects and emotions my hormones were having on me.

Those first three months were not enjoyable for me.  I was not able to take delight in my first two kids during that "fourth trimester."  I had an extremely hard time bonding with my daughter and didn't feel really connected to her until she was about five months old.

Because of my previous experience, I fully expected to have a miserable first three months with our new baby.  This time, however, God has really blessed me.  He gave me a double gift: my baby and my love for my baby.  I am totally in love with my newest son.  I delight in holding him and looking at him, in snuggling his fuzzy head.  I have the overwhelming mother love that I didn't have with my first two infants.

I am so in awe of how God has blessed me with this baby.  He is a precious gift that I hold dear to my heart.  I am extremely thankful for my little blessing of joy.




Sunday, March 18, 2012

Overflowing and Spinning

I'm a little overwhelmed right now, I'll admit it.  We are moving in less than a month and there are so many thoughts running through my head that it is hard to think straight.  As of right now, we don't know exactly when we are going to move.  We also don't know where we are going to live.  We will have temporary housing for three weeks at the most.  If we don't find a place to live in those three weeks, we will likely move in with my parents.  My mom is going through chemo right now, and they live over an hour from my husband's work, which will make a long commute for him.
The biggest complicating matter is that I will have a 6-week old baby.  Both he and I will be due for check-ups the week after we move.  How do you find a doctor when you don't even know where you are going to live?
My mind is overflowing with things that need to get done.  I think of all the stuff I need to take care of before we leave.  Of all the items I need to buy and all the things I borrowed that need returning.  Of all the doctor appointments we have before we leave and all the doctor appointments I need to make and find a doctor for down in California. 
I have lists upon lists in my head, on paper, on my phone.   Things are being added to my lists faster than they are being crossed off.
All of the uncertainties of our move weigh on me.  We don't know where we will live.  We don't even know when we are going to move.  Finding a church is a scary task for me; the hardest part of our move to Oregon was not having a home church for so long.  I want to get settled in as quickly as I can, but I know it isn't going to be easy...or quick.
The good news is:  I am in a better place emotionally with my third child than I was with either of my first two.  My hormones did a doozy on me the first two times.  I am not nearly as emotional this time around, which is a miracle, considering I have two kids already, I don't have any family help this time, and we are moving in less than four weeks.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Living Life Now

When my husband's job transferred us to Oregon in 2003, we thought we would be living here for five years at the most.  As of this weekend, it will be nine years.  Unbelievable!
But, because we always knew in the back of our heads that we could move at any time, I haven't been living my life to the fullest.  I've held back in my relationships with friends, which is probably why I don't have many close friends, but have a lot of acquaintances.  It has only been recently that I have felt that I can pour myself into my current living situation and live as if I will always be here.
Of course, our living situation may still change at any moment.  But just because there is the possibility that I won't be living here in six months, I shouldn't live my life that way.  It stunts my relationships.  It keeps me from being myself with people I meet.  I no longer want to hold back just because I might be moving.  I have been in the "might move soon" mode for the last eight years.  That is no way to live.
I need to live my life now.  Not in a "what if" state, but in a "this is how it is now and how it will be tomorrow" state.  So what if I am scared to reach out to people for fear that I might have to give up the friendship soon?  At least I had that precious time with that person.  Maybe that is all the time I needed with them.   I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to get to know someone just because I was afraid that I wouldn't have the time to get to know them.
I equate it to our lives as Christians.  We know that the church could be raptured at any time.  But we still live our lives as if we have many years left in them.  We make plans for the future, we don't hold back just because we might not be here in six months.  In our heads, we know that at any point in time we could die unexpectedly, but we don't live our lives in fear of that.  We live each day as if there was going to be a tomorrow, and a next year.
That is how I need to live my life.  Even if I move tomorrow to a new place, I should live as if I am there permanently.  I should put down roots and make new friends.  Find a new church and get involved in it.  We sat on the outside of our church for so long, I feel we wasted some precious time that we could have been connecting with people.
I encourage you to live your life in the now.  Don't be scared to gain relationships, even if they are short.  Live in the "now" and not in the "what if."

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Finding Enjoyment in the Chaos

Today and yesterday have been rather chaotic with my kids.  It seemed that every 10 minutes one of them got hurt, had a meltdown, or was in time-out.  They were constantly whining or complaining or crying about some wrong done by the other sibling.  It seems the only words out of my mouth were those of some sort of correction:
Please don't eat anything off the floor.
Crayons are for coloring paper only.
Do NOT slam doors!
Give your sister her blanket back.
You may not hit your brother with the Wii remote.
Stop chasing the cat.
We send the kids to sit on the stairs when they misbehave.  This gives mom and dad a chance to 1) finish whatever we are doing and 2) cool off if need be before we go over to deliver whatever discipline is necessary;  it is also the time-out spot.  It seems this weekend the stairs have been occupied by little bottoms for a few hours.  Earlier this evening my daughter was sent to time-out immediately after she got out, and then right after she got out the second time, my son was sent to the stairs.
Both my husband and I were getting very frustrated with the kids.  How in the world are we to enjoy our kids when they are making our lives miserable?
It doesn't help that, at 34 weeks pregnant, I feel as if I can't breathe and I've a lump of bile constantly in my throat.  I've had a very nice pregnancy so far, but now I am at the point where I can't get comfortable, I can breathe, and I can't eat.  I have 33 more days until this baby comes (at the most), and I plan on enjoying every one of them.  This is the first time I've whined (sorry) about my pregnancy - any of my pregnancies, I think.  It has just been a very trying two days and I need to vent a little; some empathy wouldn't hurt either. :)
It is hard to find enjoyment in the little things when the little ones are so un-enjoyable at the moment.  However, if I concentrate on the hard times, I will never enjoy my kids.  I have to make a point of finding the little enjoyable moments and remember those.
Like earlier when my son was needing comfort for some un-seen hurt and he bumped his head into my stomach.  "Hey!" I said.  "Why is 3-Dot (the nick-name we've given unborn baby) hitting you?"  I had my son in giggles in seconds.
Or, when my daughter had her footie pajamas trailing behind her as she raced around saying, "I'm a superhero, flying around!"
Those are the moments I need to hang on to, the moments I want to remember.  The time passes by so quickly.  I can't dwell on the brief moments of insanity; I need to dwell on the eternal moments of enjoyment within the chaos of our lives.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Mommy Version of the 30 Minute Meal

Rachael Ray has made 30-minute meals very popular.  I have perfected the art of a 30-minute meal.  Here's how this 34 week pregnant mom makes a 30-minute meal for her 4- and 2-year-old.
I decide on a can of spaghetti O's for the kids dinner.  Hey, when you are this pregnant, you sometimes opt for easy over healthy.  And it's is one of the few items that both kids will eat without complaint.
I start to open the can of O's.
My son needs help undoing his suspenders so he can go to the bathroom.
I finish opening the can.  I grab a bowl to put the O's in.
My daughter informs me that she needs her diaper changed.  I take a look and decide it is something I need to take care of right away.
I start to pour the O's into the bowl.  I stop midway to get a frozen cube of spaghetti sauce I've made with lots of vegetables (my pretense at healthy), plop it in the O's.
My son needs help with his clothes after going to the bathroom.
I finish pouring the O's into the bowl.
I am asked to help find my son's conductor hat (a small blue purse he puts on his head, the straps go under his ears).  I don't see it, so I suggest he look in the dress up box.
I resume pouring the O's into the bowl.
I put the can down to stop the kids from fighting over who gets to close the bathroom door (we have a strict rule about doors) since the conductor hat is NOT in the bathroom.  I suggest looking under my desk, where I see a tell-tale patch of blue.
I finish pouring the O's into the bowl.  Before I can get it into the microwave, my daughter is told to go sit on the stairs in time-out.  I put the bowl into the microwave and start it.
I go over to ask my daughter why she is in time-out.  She knows why.  I go and set the timer for her time-out.
I stir the O's after the microwave beeps for the third time (conversations with two-year-olds are never short), and start them on their second round.
I call my daughter to me after her time-out.  She brings a toy over with her.  We then talk about why toys are not allowed in time-out.  She runs off. (Meanwhile, my son lets me know the microwave is beeping.) I call her back because she needs to apologize, which she takes her time about doing.
I take two bowls out to distribute the kids' O's and wonder where I put the spoon I was stirring with.
My son lets me know that the microwave is beeping again.
My daughter races past me and hits me with her bracelet.  I stop what I am doing to speak to her and take the bracelet. She hands me her bracelet and pouts, but doesn't dispute because she knows she was wrong.
My son lets me know the microwave is still beeping.
I discover I forgot to cover the O's and have to wipe down the microwave.
I pull out cups for the kids.  I ask my son what color he wants.  He wants blue.  My daughter throws a fit.  I ask her what color she wants.  She wants green.  It was a needless fit.
I pour the milk and warm it up in the microwave.
My son needs help undoing his firefighter uniform.
The microwave beeps about three times before I am able to retrieve the warmed milk (my son lets me know every time it beeps, as if I can't hear it).
I start to distribute the O's into the kids' bowls.
Someone got hurt on accident and I am needed for comfort. 
I finish distributing the O's.
My daughter runs screaming to grab my legs as my son is running after her.   I untangle myself and send her on her way.
I put the bowls on the table and ask my son to get spoons while I put my daughter in her booster seat.
The kids both complain that they don't want spaghetti O's.  I tell them they are eating pasta zeros.  That seems to pacify them.
I bring the milk to the table amid complaints that my daughter wants green, which is what I set in front of her as she deflates and says with a pout, "Oh.  Thank you."
I finally sit down.
We pray, first my son, then my daughter (they both whiz through "Thankyouforfoodamen."), then it's my turn for a short prayer.
Approximately thirty minutes after I pulled the can out of the pantry, the kids are finally eating.  And that, my friends, is how you cook a 30-minute meal.

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Clean House is a Lonely House

My house was finally clean.
There were no toys on the living room floor.  The couch had all the pillows on it and wasn't rumpled.
All of the dishes were done and put away.  The kitchen counters were clean, there were no crumbs on the floor.
All of the laundry was done and put away.  Every single bed was made.
Then I went to the airport and picked up my husband and kids.
Now there are toys and pillows scattered around the living room, crumbs on the kitchen floor and dishes in the sink.  There are about three loads of laundry waiting for me to do and I'm pretty sure that the kids' beds aren't made.
But you know what?  I don't care.  In fact, I am happier now than I have been all week while my husband and kids were gone.  I am glad for the little messes in my life because the people who put them there make my life so much better.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Why, Yes, Yes I Am Pregnant

I am 33 weeks pregnant today; and it is pretty obvious.
I turn into a total ditz when I am pregnant, as in the punch-line-of-a-blonde-joke ditzy.  As in I say something and my husband just looks at me and shakes his head.
I also can't remember anything.  Names of people I've known for years just fly out of my head.
I sit in the back of the sanctuary because I will need to use the bathroom mid-service.
People give me strange looks when I push on the moving lump on my stomach.  Hey, when you see a lump in the pizza dough or a bubble floating through the air, you want to poke it, right?  Same thing.
I am thankful that maternity pants have a panel that covers my stomach, because my maternity tops protest at covering my stomach completely.
When I drop something on the floor, I have a few choices:
  • wait for a little person to pick it up.
  • find a replacement.
  • decide I can do without it.
  • as a last resort, pick up dropped item in a very unladylike manner while making horrible grunting noises.
Hilarious, and sometime socially awkward things, happen to you when you are pregnant:
  • you stand on tiptoe to put something in the cupboard and upon completion of your task your stomach gets stuck on the counter.
  • you pull out a glass for some water, and then put it in the dishwasher before you use it.
  • you shut the pantry door on your protruding stomach, then your kids look at you like you are crazy while you laugh hysterically.
  • you stop walking when you have to sneeze or cough and hold your stomach while clenching your lower extremities; it looks really strange.
  • you say "excuse me" to pass someone and then misjudge the distance between their back and your stomach, and then have to apologize all over yourself while red in the face.
And then there are the pregnancy neuroses:
  • you don't want to go to bed because you are afraid you won't be able to fall asleep due to restless leg syndrome, thinking too much, can't find the right position, etc.
  • you wake up in the middle of the night on your back and, gasp! Have I killed the baby??
  • for some reason, people's opinions really matter and can really make you upset; and even though your mind is telling you there is no reason to be upset, you cry anyway.
  • you think about all the things you need to buy to make it "even" for your third child: the first two have matching water bottles and matching beach chairs.  Will I be able to find a third one that matches as well?  Maybe I should go out and buy one tomorrow, just for the future, even though my baby won't be able to use it for at least two years.
  • you wonder about the non-microwaved lunch meat you just consumed because you were hungry, but didn't remember that you're supposed to cook the meat first to avoid some sort of bug invading your system and possibly sending you into pre-term labor or some flu-like illness.
  • you ramble on and can't seem to stop yourself even though you know you should have put a few commas or periods in that last sentence and you wonder what in the world people think about your lack of writing skills.
I love being pregnant.  I'll almost be sorry for this pregnancy to end!  I will look forward to sleeping on my back again, though.
Oh, and being able to breathe freely...that will be nice too.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

31 Weeks

I have really been enjoying this pregnancy.  I have been fortunate enough to not have any morning sickness, which I did with my first two pregnancies.  I actually look pregnant this time around as well.
I love feeling my baby move around all the time.  He gets hiccups a lot; it cracks me up.
The strange part is, I am kind of dreading the end of pregnancy, because that means I will have a baby on my hands to take care of.
Most women love infants, the smell of a baby head, the way they just sleep all the time, just getting to hold them and snuggle with them.  That's nice, but...I don't particularly enjoy the first three months of my baby's life.  I am sleep deprived and struggling to get to know this strange person who has entered my life.
I'm not looking forward to the sleepless nights.  I get frustrated when the baby cries and I can't figure out what is wrong.  Breastfeeding frustrates me as well; I did not have an enjoyable experience breastfeeding either of my kids.
This time around I will have a two year old and a five year old as well.  I feel like I am not equipped to handle the two kids I have much less adding a third to the mix.  I get easily frustrated with my kids and often find myself saying things in a tone that I hate.  Their whining gets on my nerves and then I seem unable to think straight.  How will I be able to handle a screaming infant on top of that?
Seek the LORD and his strength. Always look to him.  1 Chronicles 16:11
These are the things I think of while I am waiting for the baby to come.  I have two months left of my final pregnancy.  I want to take full advantage of them and enjoy the time I have left with this baby where I can almost effortlessly take care of him.

Friday, February 3, 2012

To Paper Or Not To Paper

In trying to save money, as well as reduce waste, I've been trying to get my family to use fewer paper towels.  We use paper towels mostly for two things: picking up cat throw up and draining cooked bacon.
I use the paper towels for the cat mostly because, well, it's gross.  I would rather just throw the paper towel away than have to rinse a cloth towel into the sink.  Being pregnant makes me a little more prone to queasiness, so in that case, I'll go with convenience.
As for the bacon, I just can't imagine draining it onto a cloth towel.  Wouldn't the grease clog up your washing machine?  Would the grease contaminate the other towels?
So...
If you do not use paper towels in your house, how would you get around the bacon grease issue?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If You Give A Mom A Muffin

We love the "If You Give A..." book series by Laura Numeroff.  The kids got three of the books for Christmas, bringing our total up to five of the books in the series.  If you've read them, and you are a mom, you will probably appreciate this.  I'm just sorry I can't take credit for it; it is hilarious!

"If you give a mom a muffin, she'll want a cup of coffee to go with it. She'll pour herself some. Her three-year-old will spill the coffee. She'll wipe it up. Wiping the floor, she will find dirty socks. She'll remember she has to do laundry. When she puts the laundry in the washer, she'll trip over boots and bump into the freezer. Bumping into the freezer... will remind her... she has to plan supper. She will get out a pound of hamburger. She'll look for her cookbook (101 Things To Make With A Pound Of Hamburger.) The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail. She will see the phone bill, which is due tomorrow. She will look for her checkbook. The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two-year-old. She'll smell something funny. She'll change the two-year-old. While she is changing the two-year-old the phone will ring. Her five-year-old will answer and hang up. She'll remember that she wants to phone a friend to come for coffee. Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup. She will pour herself some. And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee, her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it." ~By Kathy Fictorie

Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday's Meal: Split Pea Soup

I am all for easy recipes, and I often look for shortcuts.  I've been making split pea soup for a few years now and have modified the original recipe to the quick and easy one I usually make.  But for those who like and have time for all the chopping, I've kept the original and in parentheses is the way I actually make this recipe.
2 1/2 cups split peas
2 quarts water
1 onion, finely chopped (1 large handful of dehydrated onion)
2 carrots, chopped (1 large carrot, grated)
1 stalk celery, chopped (if I have celery I use it, I often don't have celery)
2 tsp salt (I use 2 tsp garlic salt)
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp of one of these herbs: oregano, marjoram, thyme, basil, sage.  It depends on my mood which one I pick.
Soak the peas in enough water to cover the peas at least 2" for 8-10 hours (I soak overnight).  Drain, rinse and add 2 quarts of fresh water and all the other ingredients (I keep the salt out and add it in when the peas are done).  Bring to a boil (I like to skim off all the starchy foam), reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours, or until the peas dissolve.
I then take a stick blender and blend the peas so they are slightly chunky, but mostly smooth.  At this point I add the garlic salt.
I cool the soup and then freeze it into ice cube trays, that way I can have soup at a moments notice.  If you freeze it, you will need to add water to the soup when you warm it up.
Here are some topping suggestions:
fresh ground pepper
Grated cheese: Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, pepper jack
Goldfish crackers
Cooked ham pieces
Bacon bits
Chopped chives
Sliced olives
French fried onions

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fearful Mom

I am a fearful mom, I admit it.  I am constantly visualizing horrible things happening to my kids.  It's awful, but I don't know how to stop.

At age two, my son had stitches above his eye when he fell onto a bench.  At age three he tumbled down the stairs.  That same year he tumbled out of bed and knocked two teeth loose.  At age four he tripped and his now no-longer-loose teeth went through his bottom lip and he has a nice scar.  These scenes (or imaginary scenarios) run through my head almost every day.  Whenever my kids aren't within view, my ears are on hyper alert to listen for anything happening to them.  Every little squeak or squawk makes me pay attention to see if it will turn into a cry.  This is a very wearying way to live, and I need to find a way past it.

A few years ago my friend wrote a post Parenting Based in Fear, and this has been a huge help to me.  I really try to not think about what might possibly happen, but what will probably happen; to parent by the probable and not by the possible.  I really try not to hover around my kids and let them explore.  After re-reading her post, I have stopped myself from warning my kids to be careful or not to do something that might hurt them, but probably won't.  Instead, I've let them go ahead, and you know what?  They didn't get hurt.  In fact, they enjoyed doing whatever it was I could have stopped them from doing.  Of course, I was watching carefully, but really trying not to hover.

My 2 year old just transferred to a big-girl bed.  She likes to be independent and wants to put her pacifiers away when she wakes up (yes, we need to work on getting rid of the paci).  So she walks to the end of the bed and puts her paci in the box on top of the dresser.  Now, she is still not always very steady on her feet and so she holds onto the wall.  There is also a five inch gap between her bed and the dresser.  The first time she did this, I was scared she would fall and hurt herself.  Then I realized, 1) she's being very careful and 2) even if she does fall, I doubt she would get seriously hurt, i.e. broken bones.  I just need to swallow my fear and let her explore.

I don't know how to stop thinking about the bad things that could happen.  The images pop into my mind and I can't seem to get rid of them.  But I am learning to let my kids do things that I'd really like to not let them do, but there is no real reason for me to stop them (like letting my almost five-year-old plug in an appliance).  It is difficult to let go and parent on the probable and not on the possible.  But I think with God's help I will get there.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

It Would Be Easier To Quit

When you are training a dog, one of the first things you learn is that you need to be consistent.  You have to give the same command over and over again and see that the command is obeyed.  When you tell the dog to sit, you make sure the dog sits, even if you have to physically sit the dog down.
It is no different with our children.  If you tell your child to sit down, make sure she obeys, even if you have to physically make her obey.  But, if you tell her to sit, and she doesn't, and you just ignore the disobedience, you are telling your child that you don't expect obedience out of her.
This can be very wearying.  Consistency is not always easy, and sometimes it is one of the more difficult concepts to get through my parent brain.  It would be so much easier for me to just ignore the slight disobedience and move on with what I am doing.  But that is doing a HUGE disservice to my child, and to me.  Children thrive in an environment where they know the rules, and when the rules are enforced with consistency.
Another thing I have noticed: when I am not consistent, the bad behavior escalates to a point of extreme frustration; both on my part and on that of my child.  If I do not address a bad behavior when it occurs, the next action is a little more blatant, and the next, until the child is out of control.  Children do not always have the ability to stop themselves, they lack self-control, which is why God gives them parents who do have self-control.
I encourage you (and myself) to do yourself and your children a favor by always being consistent in your 1) expectations of them and 2) discipline of them.  It will go a long way in helping your (my) kids become responsible adults one day.
On the window sill above my sink is my little piece of happiness and a reminder to be patient and consistent.