Friday, June 28, 2013

grade k. ready or not.

Does it make me a lazy mom that I encourage my 5-year-old son to dress my 2-year-old son?  Lazy? I think more like ingenious even though it is so going to back fire on me come this fall when we enter the kindergarten zone.  Then I will be left at home with an almost 3-year-old & neither of us will know how to get him dressed!

I have a few more pressing concerns about kindergarten that I am focused on though so that can wait. It isn't my son I am worried about.  He is so ready for Grade K.  He is ready to learn & be challenged & he is so excited about the possibility of playing on a playground 5 days a week that he is besides himself with excitement.  No, my concerns are all about me.

The thought of kindergarten looming at the end of summer is tainting my weeks of ice cream & beach days.  I literally can't escape it as the elementary school my son will be attending is at the end of our block so whenever I leave the house either by foot or by car I see it there all high & mighty with it's brick & mortar taunting me.  Saying "who does she think she is?  Is she really ready to be a mom of one of our students?  Does she really think she has prepared him enough for this?  Does she really think it is okay to send him here even though he can' t tie his own shoes?!  Does she think she can hang on our PTA?  Does she think she is smart enough or engaging enough to other kids to be a room mom?" (If they can even call it that anymore?)  All's  I know that if I am a room mom or, whatever it is, it will not be nearly as detrimental for my kiddo as it was for me the time my mom helped out.  5th grade, Mrs Wrights mom came for the day wearing the exact same sweatshirt I was wearing!  We were twinsies & I was mortified.  Safe to say I don't have many shirts with footballs or tractors on them so I think we are all good.

Maybe it's just me, but this new chapter of grade school seems so large & unknown.  We have had a lot of transition in the last few years & typically I roll with it & look forward to what it brings, but this one feels so different to me.  I feel like I am sending my son out in to the world & he is ready, but I am afraid I will find that I am unprepared.  Haven't started school shopping (when do you do that?), will the other kids know that he doesn't have a new lunch box?  Do I ever go & eat lunch with him?  What assemblies do parents actually go to?  What if it isn't casual chic to drop him off without showering & in sweats?  What if his new BFF's mom & I don't mesh?

I think a lot of it has to do with control (doesn't it always) & that up until now I have chosen where we go & when.  I have gotten to choose our church, our friends & our activities.  I have chosen whether I want to be uncomfortable or not. I have chosen the situations that my kids & I are exposed to.  Basically I have been living in a self-induced bubble & life there hasn't been too shabby.

But, now I have to choose to let go (just a tiny bit) & choose to trust.  Trust that I have done a good job at preparing him. Trust that he is a smart & determined fella & not only that he will be kind & tenderhearted to the other kids even if he is playing the bad guy at recess.  I am going to trust that there is a plan for this new season we will be entering into & I am also choosing to trust that I will adapt & grow in my new role as mom of elementary student extraordinaire.  So bring it brick & mortar.  I'll be seeing you in 67 days.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

a little bit better.

Maybe it's just me, but sometimes I don't know how I am going to make it through the day & then I look at the clock & think to myself." Oh, crap. It is only 9am".  Then I repeat that same thought at 1pm & 3pm & it used to always be all dinner long when my husband worked nights, but he is home for dinners now (yay!) and having another adult around at meal times makes a WORLD of difference.

These thoughts of "how am I possibly going to make it through the day" are often preceded by whining (from the tiny people not myself) or complaining or arguing all things/attitudes which make it really hard to be mindful of the fact that I love these 2 kiddos to the moon & back & am on a sacred journey of shaping their hearts & characters.  All that & it is only 9am?!  No CEO even has to deal with that much before their second cup of coffee.

I also have these "how am I going to make it" thoughts when I am using la toilette & my eldest is banging on the door about how badly he has to go poo & could I please hurry up?  Need I remind you we only have the one bathroom & who really likes to be rushed at such a time?  Especially when as most moms know that is our only quiet time during the day (if we are lucky & by that I mean if we remembered to lock the bathroom door).

The other day I had a total meltdown & said "I am going to get rid of all of the movies!!!"  which immediately brought on reactions that would have made one think there were no more ice cream cones or puppies or teddy bears anywhere on the planet.    Now that wasn't the brightest moment for me as I would never get rid of the boy's movies which are my sanity all very educational.  Later I thought "what am I a 5 year old?"  My 5 year old always throws out random things when he is frustrated too.  If he is upset that he hasn't mastered the pedal bike he will say things such as "I am never going to look at another bike again" and I think we all know not only would that be impossible living as we do in the Pacific Northwest, but also it is spoken out of pure annoyance at not getting the end result he wanted.  He also likes to try this when he is upset with my husband or I. The other day he threw out " You are not my dad anymore.  You are my cousin!"  Which in all fairness kind of back fired since the kid has a passel of cousins & adores them all.

So me throwing out the bit about the movies was just one of those statements that I threw out due to my annoyance at his attitude & wasn't really mindful about the situation at.all.  Had I taken a moment to step back & really see the situation for what it was I may have noticed that he was needing a snack. That his brother was getting all up in his space & what we needed was a distraction...we didn't need some off handed threat that wasn't going to be carried out & that actually just made the emotions all around more intensified & drew the whole ordeal out even longer than any of us wanted.  Way longer.

After we all calmed down  & had a snack (is that a theme with just us or what?)  we talked a lot about how we as people are imperfect & how we don't have to say the right things every time or always do the right thing, but one thing we have to do as our family is to always try to do a little better.  To always try to be patient & kind with one another.  We even shook on it so that seems pretty official & I am guessing parenting will be a breeze from here on out.

The great thing about the "how will I make it through the day" days is that they often have little moments of delight peppered in there that help make it to the next hour or even day (like an impromptu dance party in the living room).  This day had some sweet moments of just playing in the back yard.  Enjoying the sunshine & breeze as is flitted about.  We even had some good book time before bed when he crawled up into my lap with his 5 year old longish legs & arms & we cuddled as we read The Lorax for the 66,000 time.  It is like a little affirmation that things are ever changing even if we can't see it in the hard moments.  He is learning.  I am learning. Our hearts are changing.  And thankfully we will always get another opportunity to try and do a little bit better the next time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Murphy's law is so not cool when it happens to things regarding mommy hood.  The ole' my angel is sleeping through the night bit is sure to stop that very evening after you exclaimed the words with glee.  The ole' isn't my junior playing so well with other kiddos ceases just as you think that thought & junior whacks someone on the head with a book.  Just today sitting at my kitchen table over a cup of (warm-hallelujah) coffee with a friend while the boys were watching a movie.  Because honestly how else do you get to have an uninterrupted conversation with a friend?  No shame.  We don't have tv, but you can be sure we have a dvd collection of movies for such a time as this.  I was advising my first time mom friend to not try so hard to get her sweet baby girl to take a nap.  To pick her battles & that it just isn't worth it if she has to try so hard to get her to nap.  But, that I was certainly happy my 2 year old had started taking naps again because that was such a gift.

Fast forward to napping.  In room screaming "All done sleeping" & he has been screaming that ever since he went in there.  Seriously how does that happen?  Do kiddos listen from afar & plot their attack of how they can best stick it to us with a surprise gotcha--I don't sleep anymore sucker!  It just isn't fair.  And, not matter how many times I have fallen for it I will fall for it again & again.  I have totally been that person thinking smugly about how well my eldest does at other people's homes only to have him throw the fit of all fits only moments later.  Or have heard myself saying oh, he does so great in the stroller he doesn't mind it at all only to then have to wrestle my son like he is a wet seal to try & get him contained in the stroller long enough to buckle him in.  You know when you are using one arm to kind of try to pin them down & the other to attempt to get the strap in all while blowing your sweaty hair out of your eyes & hoping the people around you have found themselves in similar situations & are looking at you with compassion & understanding rather than thinking of the  poor child to get such a crazy lady for a mom.

Perhaps it is just one big joke to keep us on our toes knowing that at any moment whatever we have so figured out about our kiddos could change suddenly & without warning. Maybe it is meant to keep us humble & to know that their reactions, character & even napping really don't have that much to do with whether we are doing a "good" job or not as their parent.  Maybe it is just a reminder (that I know I often need) that they are tiny, but they are people too.  They are living, breathing, thinking, growing, feeling people just like me.  Not only are  they are figuring different things out & feeling who knows how many emotions that are unidentifiable at all once all while there mom (yours truly) is yelling at them to clean up the legos & put their dirty underwear in the hamper instead of throwing it at their brother, but they are also trying to figure out Independence while under the control of their parents.  Like what if I were to give up a little bit of that control & actually let them figure something out on their own even if it wouldn't be as clean or quick as I would do it for them.

What if I did have them crack the eggs when we were making cookies & the egg did (gasp) fall  to the floor.  Well, I guess we would just have to clean it up & crack another egg.  News flash to myself sometimes I drop the egg too & at some point along the way I was taught that when you make a mess you clean it up.  But, how will my tiny people learn this if I clean up the mess for them or yell at them when the mess is made?

It is so hard to figure out what battles to pick or what or when or how to give up some of the control. One battle I have given up that was near & dear to my heart was socks with sandels.  What is a mom to do when her boys were born in the PNW & don't see the morale dilemma of it?  They just truly prefer it. But, if we don't learn when to give up some of the control then there is the chance that when we fast forward a few years down the road our kids will still be living in the basement asking us to make eggs for them for breakfast even though they are in their 20's & that just wouldn't be cool.  I would much rather have my adult sons come for a visit wearing socks & sandals than having to see them shuffle around the kitchen in their bathrobes day after day.  So, I am going to continue to try & embrace the independence they are craving & make sure to never buy them black socks.

Monday, June 24, 2013


I spent the past weekend with a great group of girls talking about what it meant to embrace our mess. How our lives as moms are a beautiful mess.  I really like that. I like the idea of seeing my messy life through the lens of  beautiful.  That doesn't mean it is put together, or pretty, or even ascetically pleasing at times, but it does mean it is real, revealing, open, and that there is no reason to hide out on account of my mess.  Rather we should embrace it it all it's messy glory! Because it tells the tale of who we are.  Of what we are going through in this season of mommy hood when you don't get to shower every day & on the days you do there is no guarantee that you aren't going to have to referee an argument from the shower, or  even worse have someone come in to poop at the same time you are trying to get clean & refreshed for the day.  Seriously isn't that the worst?  Our house has one bathroom & the shower has glass doors. Um...need I say more as the only female in the house?  Needless to say we recently hung up a shower rod & shower curtain over the previously mentioned glass doors so mama could get a little privacy.

The  concept of embracing your messy life sounds totally freeing.  Let it all  out & let's be real & let's connect & be honest about how it is going.  Because really... Who is good?  All the time? Each time you ask them?

These days we have such advantages to stay "connected" with people via the information super highway. Maybe it's just me, but  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with the likes of Facebook, Pinterest & blogs.  I absolutely love having it all available to me & being able to learn from others & glean what I want, but I don't care for how it isn't always a true glimpse of real life.  But, I totally get it.  Who wants to post a pic of themselves without make-up when you can see the bags under your eyes or the ones of your kids with the weird milk crust around their mouths?  This past Christmas the only and I repeat only picture that turned out of our family in front of the tree had my youngest one with his finger up his nose. And no I did not share that one.

But all of this technology could be & sometimes is  really awesome.  It could be a way for us to connect and support & embrace one another & our struggles. To truly rejoice & mourn along side one another if you will.

You could look at it like no other era of motherhood has been so bombarded with pictures of perfect families or what craft you should make on a rainy day with those supplies you are supposed to just "happen" to have on hand,  you could let all of the connectedness lead you to comparisons, judgments, guilt & feeling down about yourself as a woman, wife & mother.

Or....what if we took advantage of the technology & saw it that no other era of motherhood has ever been so connected?  That when my mom had me, but had no other friends at the time with young ones she couldn't connect online with a chat group of other moms going through the exact same ups & downs.    Teething & blow outs.  She wouldn't have been able to join a facebook group & go on outings with other people that the only thing they had in common was that they both had  2 year olds  Or in any other time has a mom been able to send off a quick text to a friend saying: "Pray for me.  I am going to loose it" (because her baby won't nap & it's nap time & doesn't he know it's nap time & why isn't he napping?!) & know as she throws her phone down that her friend will be praying for her in nano seconds?  When have moms been able to listen to a message from their favorite author, pastor, speaker on a podcast while folding mounds of laundry, doing the dishes, or zoning out driving errands from Costco to Fred Meyer to Trader Joe's?

Yes, motherhood can be a lonely gig even in the midst of all this.  But, it doesn't have to be.  We have the freedom to reach out at any moment & connect with someone.  To laugh with, to cry with, to you won't believe what happened with...they won't always call/text/message us first.  We may have to initiate it, but sometimes taking that step to muster up a little bit of courage to put ourselves out there could be the difference between being lonely & being loved on.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

cooling down.

 I put my head in the freezer y'all.  For reals.  In part of my efforts to not yell at my kids I have read a lot of advice, tips, secrets that are supposed to help you refrain from letting the yell out or from having the urge to yell at all.  I knew I was in uncharted territory when I told a friend I thought I had an anger problem, because I couldn't stop yelling at my eldest. She suggested I count to 10.  I totally get that counting to 10 is a tried & true method that works for many.  But, for me my heart kind of sank a little, because I was so beyond the counting thing.  It just hadn't been a strong enough deterrent for me if you know what I mean.  So, I have been reading books, reading blogs, spending time on my knees, talking to people & searching for what works for me.  What helps me see situations from different perspectives & helps me to be mindful enough in the moment to not loose it.

As of late I have been doing really good with not yelling.  It had been weeks since I had began my challenge.  My voice has certainly gotten terse, but yell I have not.  That is until yesterday happened.

It was raining all day long.  We haven't had much social time, I was hungry & tired.  All triggers for me to get my yell on.  The fort was what set me over the edge.  I was trying to change the sheets on my boy's beds & I kept tripping over fort "materials" aka blankets & pillows & about 50,000 stuffed animals that always accompany the forts. As the forts are not merely a place to sit & chat in.  They are wild animal dens or pet shops or zoos.  Each built with mounds of "materials".  Thus I was failing at changing the sheets & since it is something I only do every once in awhile I just wanted to be

And.I.Lost.It.  "I am going to freak out if this fort doesn't get cleaned up right way!!" I yelled & then started tossing blankets, pillows, socks, animals, whatever was in my way...the tiny table & chairs I tripped on again asking my son to get them out of the way & back where they belong with my gritted teeth.  My sons complied looking at me like I always am a wild eyed froth mouth monster....only they went about it at the speed of let's say 0.  So sloooooooow which of course didn't help.  Which by the way I think it is safe to say that since I had to say I was going to freak out that I was probably already freaking out.

I ran out of the room because at this point I was swearing in my head.  Truly I was.  Back in the day I swore like  a sailor, but the last few years I haven't uttered any to my knowledge..but here was the f-bomb swirling around in my head.  Seriously nothing says you've come unglued like hearing  a voice cuss out a fort in your head.  During the meltdown (mine not the kids) I suddenly remembered a tip I had read & that was how I found myself with my head in the freezer.  Yup.  Tried it.  And, it honestly helped a little.  I don' know if it helped because there is something about the temperature that truly "cools" you down or because it is so totally ridiculous.  I can say that I was thankful that the husband wasn't home, because I am pretty sure that would have been a source of glee for him to happen upon.  I can also say if you ever find yourself with your head in the freezer that you quickly realize how badly said freezer needs to be cleaned out & then freezer time is done.

So after I had  a little snack, got over my guilt about swearing at the fort, and got a little perspective  I realized (shocker) it wasn't really about the fort, animals, sheets at all, but that I hadn't been taking care of myself that morning & news flash multiple cups of creamer with a little coffee splashed in them is not the way to get your calm on.    I apologized to my sons for the way I had acted & how I shouldn't have spoken or shouted that way & thanked them for cleaning up the fort. They proceeded to forgive me instantly.  Without  a thought or with out a little "yeah mom you were acting a little crazy what's up with that?"

I appreciated how they reacted. I think I could learn a lesson about forgiveness from their little hearts. They were able to forgive me for being the imperfect & messy gal I am with out keeping a record of my wrong & with kindness.  I think it is valuable for them to see me in my imperfect moments.  To know that I mess up.  I don't want the expectation around our home to be that you have to have it all together all of the time, because that is not how real life is.  Better yet I want to be able to forgive my boys when I see them having their imperfect  months moments with the swiftness & tenderness that they attributed to me.  One thing that no one ever told me was how much I would learn from these tiny people who live in my house eating all my food & getting all of the laundry dirty.  I never thought that watching them would somehow reflect back to me the me I am striving to be.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

boys are foreign.

Maybe it's just me, but I kind of think little boys are foreign. I love my two fellas so much & enjoy their energy & thrill for life that they have.  But, at times I find them so out of this world puzzling to me.  They love to play army men.  The literally crawl around the back yard on their tummies wearing their bike helmets & use random objects like plastic golf clubs & driftwood as their guns as they "shoot" at who knows what.  They have never seen any sort of shoot them up movie or video game.  My son gets scared at at anything other than Veggietales & Bob the Builder so it bewilders me how they just know to do this.  This boy thing.

They also LOVE to wrestle.  They must do it at all times & typically with out wearing shirts.  Sometimes my older son has to be in just his underwear since according to him really good wrestlers don't wear shirts or pants.  What?!  

Racing is a must.  Indoors.  Outdoors. It doesn't matter what or where the finish line is they just need me to watch how fast they can go.

One of my boys is constantly asking me about ninjas.  Can people grow up to be ninjas?  What do ninjas wear?  Do they have super powers?  What kind of school do you think ninjas go to?  This happens on a continuous loop as he follows me around as I vacuum or do the dishes or some other mundane task.  So, although I don't know much anything about ninjas our conversations do help the vacuuming and what not go by a little quicker.  

But, should I try to bring up anything remotely girl like they turn on me quickly and we are no longer a united team.  I didn't have any idea any of this would happen so quickly.  A mom mentions getting her toes painted & the 2 year old starts saying how weird that it is & then it is evident.  We are different them & I.  I am solo here.  No hello kitty or barbies up in this place.  It is straight up cars, legos, super hero's & dirt. And rocks.  And sticks. And leaves.  So many collections of so many things.  Each stick must be picked up & inspected at once to see how it would operate as a sword or perhaps some sort of digging utensil.  It is either thrown down in disgust for it's apparent lack of use or it is heralded as  At least until we come across the next stick.

Even though my boys boggle my brain & most of what we play is not of interest to me...I can only build so many flying cars out of legos before my brain goes to mush I try to say more yes's than no's to them.  I want them to continue to seek me out.  To enjoy playing besides me.  To remember that their mommy played with them.  I want to make them & their interests a priority in my day even though I would rather be watching Parenthood on hulu or reading or mowing the lawn. You get my drift.  It is a little bit of dying to self each time I lower myself to their hardwood bedroom floor to get our legos on, but hopefully this way they will remember I care when the bigger things come along.  The hurt feelings at school, the girls, the all around awkwardness they are sure to encounter.  No, I don't say yes every time.  I do have to make sure they are fed & watered too & sometimes I need some space or they need some space, but I am trying to be present & be in the moment with them even when I have no idea how to really describe what a storm trooper does.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


I thought that if I am going to be spending some time here I should probably share part of our story.  It has been shaping us into the family we are these past few years.  My hope in sharing it is that if you are in a tough season that you would find encouragement in knowing you aren't alone & that it won't go on forever.   My story begins on December 18, 2009 when my husband lost his job. It is a date forever seared into my brain as it has changed the entire course of our lives. At that point he was a journeyman union carpenter typically building bridges or schools and once a project was completed he would get hired on another one. He was making a great salary and we were comfortable as a one income family with just one son.

I can remember he was kind of excited as he was telling me thinking of new possibility and adventures as I was listening and nodding w/a smile plastered to my face my mind was running a 10000 different directions. Where will he work, where will I work, should we sell our house, what will we eat, why is he excited? I was having a hard time getting on board about this new chapter and was more at the panic and freak out w/unknown chapter. It was the only time I really recall hearing audibly from God. I walked into the dark kitchen and was praying and said I am not strong enough for this. And, I heard Him say I know, but I am. I had to take Him at His words as I had nothing else to cling to and a few weeks later we found out we were expecting baby number 2 . This news was really mixed for me. On the one hand I was overjoyed, because years earlier after sometime of trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and after testing I was told that I would never be able to conceive a child. And, since then we had one baby and know we were getting blessed w/miracle baby #2, but that was tinted by the fact that there were no job prospects in sight & the concern of how to care for our growing family was becoming a reality. He had been spending nearly every day driving from city to city looking for work, but since this is when the economy had started tanking jobs like bridges and schools were on hold or put off all together. We immediately applied for a mortgage modification for our house & were hopeful that we would be approved and be able to stay in our home that we had so many dreams tied up in.

After a few months we decided to start our own business. Details fell into place. Retirement was used to fund the start up costs. My husband took business classes, had a plan, got a contractors license and went into business. We had total peace about it and felt that this was the direction that we were supposed to go in at least for now. We had clients right away and my husband was loving every aspect of it.

We were denied for a mortgage modification and put our house on the market. We used all of our remaining retirement and our reserves & sold a car to pay our monthly payment & also to help with those other pesky things like utilities, food, gas for the car, etc...

Work continued to come in at a steady pace, but we quickly realized that with licensing, insurance, bond, taxes and our bills not much was going to be left over to live off of. We found ourselves needing to visit the food bank. This was very humbling for us. Only a few years earlier prior to having kids we had been earning well over 100,000 a year dropping $100 out on dinner was pretty typical so to be at this place was pretty surreal. We started having offers on our house and discovered that our septic system had failed & needed to be replaced. That was a cost we simply couldn't incur especially on a house we couldn't afford so we let it go. We started seeing evidence on the driveway especially after a lot of rainfall. We had to largely reduce our water usage, no dishwasher, limited laundry, etc...The Health Dept. started to make weekly house calls to see what we or our lender was going to do about the issue & they started using phrases like disease transmission and such.  At times all that we could do was laugh, because it was getting so unbelievable.  We nicknamed the evidence in our driveway as Poo River which made me smile every time I had to forge the river to go get the mail.

I started to feel super isolated & lonely during this time. Most of the other families we spent time with were in a different place economically, our lender started sending people to take photos of us through the window at dinner time to show the occupancy status of the house so between them & the health dept. home wasn't a very happy place to be, I didn't have anyone to talk to about how it felt after grocery shopping to have the cashier be friendly & engaged with my kids until they would see my form of payment was food stamps & suddenly their demeanor would change & they would almost be rude or just kind of closed off (this did not happen every where or every store) Just want to be clear about that. But, it happened often enough that it would make me want to explain to them how hard my husband was working or it would just make me embarrassed & second guess my purchases. I just started praying a lot and God was so faithful to meet me in that place. I don't think I've ever had as vivid as a prayer life as I did at that time. He was a constant presence and reassurance to me.

It became evident to us that we would have to leave our house soon. We had no idea where we would go and everything in our future was uncertain & it seemed never ending. But, we had such peace about it & the few times when my husband & I did have freak outs or break downs it it was never at the same time. And, that was such a gift!  I remember one instance where I was so excited that my mom came for a visit & brought a Costco size pack of toothpaste for us.  I was like so thrilled & my husband was in disbelief that we couldn't even afford our own even though we didn't have much no one could ever say we had bad breath!

During this time God's provision was so evident. And we felt really loved on. We would receive anonymous gift cards in the mail, groceries would show up on our porch, friends would offer hand me downs for my boys just as their pants were creeping up into capris :). Literally I had no money to buy my son pjs and so I prayed about it. Next thing I knew a girl friend gave me a gigantic box of clothes to borrow complete with pjs:).  My mom was constantly helping us out  & once a check for 2 thousand dollars came. Still don't know where that was from. Even with all of these amazing and encouraging gifts it was so tough not to get amnesia and worry the next time the bills would be due. I was constantly having to juggle them to decide which one could be over due the longest before we finally had to pay it so we could try and stretch out our payments as much as possible. I started to write down all of these gifts so when the doubts started to creep in & I got caught focusing on my circumstances I could be reminded of God's faithfulness our family & that even though our finances or lack thereof didn't work on paper it would work out.

Christmas last year was huge for my entire family. Leading up to it I felt totally awkward every time someone asked me if I was ready for Christmas. I had no idea how to respond . Like yes we have a tree up, but when you can't afford presents for anyone there isn't much prep work that needs to be done. It became a point of contention with my husband and I. We both wanted so badly to be able to buy a little something for our boys, but there was no way. He wanted to use credit cards, but we only had one left a business card and there was no way we could risk it by putting things on there we wouldn't be able to pay off. I told him one day I would just love it if we could get them matching Christmas pj’s we were both resolved that we wouldn't be able to do anything and it wasn't like previous years we had gone all out we were always pretty conservative with gifts. Our oldest son was at the age where he was noticing the presents accumulating around other people's trees and I anticipated teachers, etc asking him what he got. We figured they would probably get something from my mom, but we were still bummed because who doesn't want to be the reason you see that joy on your kiddos face.

Anyways one night we came home from a Christmas party at a friend's house to a note on our door saying Merry Christmas & go check out your back patio. Through our kitchen window you could see that someone had strung up white lights while we had been gone. I thought that was so festive and fun we wanted to go check it out. As we started walking closer you could see the lights were wrapped around mounds of beautifully wrapped presents, groceries, paper goods&baby wipes. Our oldest son shouted someone got us juice!! To this day it warms my heart that the juice was what he first noticed and was excited about. He quickly started tallying how many presents were for him and how many were for his little brother and there sizes, etc...As he sorted that out my husband was silently taking it all in (not a shocker if you knew him) /tears in his eyes. I was a little more vocal (also not a shocker) doing some sort of hysterical laughing and crying thing. Later we found a card with gift certificates for more food and for gas. There were also 2 presents marked to be opened Christmas eve that turned out to be matching Christmas pjs!!! It was so awesome. I have never felt so loved. And, we had been struggling so much that this filled our encouragement tanks for a long time. To have people be the hands and feet of Jesus to us time and time again is how we got through intact as a family whole and not callous or bitter.

Fast forward to today.: We closed our business one year ago and my husband has had a few jobs since that time & has currently found one he is very excited about & it is providing enough for our family complete with a paycheck that comes consistently every week rain or shine:). I love checking the bank each Thursday morning it is a total thrill for me:). After 5 offers our house was foreclosed on and we survived:)!!! We have the most generous and compassionate landlords and a house we just love. We walked out of these past few years with zero debt and we are more generous and giving with what we have. Before we went through this we thought we were pretty generous people, but being on the receiving end of so much shows you how tightly you actually hold things.

When we were in the midst of this time it seemed like it was going to go on forever. Like life had stopped, but actually life as we knew it stopped and our new life went forward we just couldn't always see it. But, God was so good, He sustained us with His goodness and He grew our faith and trust in Him. I don't ever want to forget that time I want to be able to remember it clearly and be able to share it with my boys & hopefully it will strengthen their faith & it will remind me when other tough seasons come of how faithful He is. Which I forgot momentarily (amnesia again) last week when my extended family entered into crisis mode, but I think remembering that faithfulness is part of the reason I think I had it on my heart to share with you today.

Friday, June 14, 2013

family of 4?

Maybe it's just me, but I seem to be able to trick my body into thinking I am pregnant.  All. The. Time.  Years ago before we had children while we were trying I was constantly buying tests, because my boobs were sore or I felt a little sick one morning...all of the tests came back negative time & time again.  I would do this thing that is probably a little crazy, but whatevs.  After staring at a negative test for what seemed like hours I would either sigh or cry & then throw it away in trash.  That is until I would sneak back it to pull it out of the trash for a little looksie because I must have either A. looked at the lines incorrectly or B.  hadn't allowed enough time for the test & threw it away prematurely.  I did that over & over as well, but never did find a test that had while sitting in a trash can suddenly reverted to a positive result.

Long story short we went into to do some testing after trying unsuccessfully for a year or so & decided that I would get "tested" first.  So, I had the blood work done, took my basal temperature every morning at 6 a.m. sharp & then found out that I didn't ovulate so they suggested fertility or adoption if we wanted to grow our family.

We took some time to grieve the fact that we wouldn't have our own babies.  It was especially hard for me as I thought for me that was just part of being a woman & a wife & next was supposed to come baby.  It was to be a rite of passage so to speak.  After taking some time we decided that fertility treatments were not for us.  We had 2 nephews who had been adopted & that seemed like a more comfortable route for us to explore.  We researched different agencies & made an appointment.

A few days before the appointment I went to the gym after work to watch my nieces at their gymnastic practice.  During that hour I could barely keep my eyes open & I remember lamenting to my sister-in-law how tired I was lately. She said "It's because you are pregnant."  I shook it off reminding her that was impossible & that I had been told that road needed a detour.  She was so certain ( but she does have 4 kids so maybe that is some of her super hero power's that come with child 3 & 4) so I agreed I would buy a pregnancy test since I had totally stopped keeping track of my period since there was no point in doing otherwise.

The next morning I proceeded to take 3 tests one right after another.  They were all positive.  All 3 tests said the same thing.  I was in total disbelief. I was laughing/crying pretty hysterically I might add it wasn't pretty.  But, what did my dog care since she was the only one around.  My husband was at work & rather than think of an amazing reveal I called him & left a shouting message on his phone (which he still has saved today 6 years later) that was barley decipherable.  But, he got the gist of it.  Life was going to change & it was going to happen in a way we didn't think had been possible.  I remember still laughing/crying/praying/ falling down/standing back up/ dancing around & then getting ready to go to my office job & sit at my desk as though nothing had happened. It was cool though I had been a junior high drama star so this was my time to shine.

So, we decided that adoption at that point wasn't something our family was supposed to pursue.  We ended up having a boy & then followed that up a few years later with our second son. It isn't until now that the idea of adoption is creeping back into my heart.  We had decided that we were done with having kids. We have had some L-E-A-N financial times the last few years & it seemed a little irresponsible to grow our family & we really did feel a sense of completeness.  I am even on an IUD for birth control in which like 1 in 1,000 women can get pregnant. We were done.  Finished.  Happy as a family of 4. We had given away all of our baby things.  So, it was funny the other day that after I asked my husband to pray about the possibility of adoption that I started to think I was pregnant.  My mind may have known the possibility was a slim one at best , but sure enough I became sooooooo tired my boobs were sore I was Positive that I had conceived against all odds again. But, there was a teeny tiny part of me that didn't want to tell my husband or anyone else for that matter. It wasn't that I wanted to savor the news or anything it was like a bit of me knew that this wasn't' going anywhere. 

So the other night I snuck out of the house after my sons & husband were asleep for the night.  I planned my great escape & felt very thrilled & frightened of getting caught at the same time.  I left a note in the kitchen in case they suddenly woke up in the night & were panicked in my absence. So, maybe 9:30 isn't really in the night, but it was going to start think about getting dark. Did I mention my neighbor was still mowing his lawn?  Must have been wearing a head lamp. The worse part was I had just realized earlier in the day that our tabs were expired (okay I didn't notice my 5 year old kindly pointed it out to me) & the new tabs had just been ordered online.  So, the sneaking off to Walgreen's suddenly got a little more thrilling.  I just hoped I wasn't going to get pulled over & then have to call & wake up my husband to explain why I needed him to come get me out of the pokey.  

Got home with the test.  Drank a ton of water, because I hadn't really thought that through & had gone before I left for my drive into the night, and took the test. It was negative.  I was sad. I couldn't believe how sad I was that it was negative.  I threw it out.  I went back in & dug it out just to double check it hadn't changed for old times sake.  It remained negative.  

And, even though I was sad about it I was also a little delighted, because my sadness was evidence to me that I do want more children.  But, I don't necessarily think I want to have them myself.  I think it may have been more confirmation to me that the longing to grow our family is there, but the means may be a different route again.    All's I know is that there are many older girls & boys from our county & others that are waiting.  And, it breaks my heart to think of them waiting for a home as they see all of the younger ones & babies go before them. Again & Again. So maybe our family is going to grow & maybe it isn't. I have peace either way, but I am excited to see how it all turns out.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

wouldn't it be nice.

Long ago when I was preparing the arrival of my first child, ok not that long ago he is only 5 1/2, but some of those years have been loooooong if you know what I mean.  I couldn't get enough of the pregnancy books, the baby center chat rooms, the emails telling me what size my little bean, lemon, watermelon-yikes was now.  We took the birthing class that prepared us for delivery, the breathing, the strategy's not to panic, & we watched the Happiest Baby on the Block. So we were all set. Bring it on.  Two people totally ready to be parents here.  Not.  Quite.  It wasn't that we were immature or too young.  We had been married over 10 years before we even had children.  We were street smart.  Savvy working adults who could take care of themselves pretty okay & had even tested out parenthood on 2 dogs & they were doing just fine.  What I didn't know then as I would cuddle my little bundle in his oh so tight swaddle, shushing him & swaying with him is something I know now.  I/we were totally & completely unprepared to parent.  Hadn't a clue about so many things we were about to encounter over the next few years. So many things that NO ONE mentioned to us.  I don't know if they don't tell you certain things because they expect you to know, they dont' want you to be scared off from reproducing or maybe it was just us & everyone else already had been filled in on what to expect & we were absent that day, but sometimes I think it would have been so great to have been aware of this.

Like it would have be great to hear that nursing doesn't work for everyone.  And, when that discovery is made it is ok.  There is no shame in giving a baby a bottle of formula.  That is what it has been made for.  And, there is no need for health professionals to suggest you are being lesser of a mom if in your sleep deprived, crazy eyed, frumpy self decides that instead of starving her baby any longer by trying to pump every 15 minutes each day, using the shield, eating or not eating certain foods that you have given it a great try, but as a mama you know your babe just needs to eat.  And, that maybe just maybe both of you will flourish & find relief that there is some alternative to this really personal, upsetting & serious issue.

It would have been great to hear that each kiddo comes complete with their own temperament.  That there are no 2 alike.  Seriously they are just like snow flakes!  I remember after having my second child I kept waiting for things to go back to normal (duh..) for him to start acting like his older brother. I couldn't understand why he would react so differently in situations that his brother had gone through before him with a completely different outcome.  I think he was a little over a year when it dawned on me.  They were different people...that was how it was supposed to go down.  Because they weren't the same.  I know some people have light bulb moments, but this was like a light show moment.  I couldn't believe it. I was so relieved & ecstatic that it wasn't anything I had been doing "wrong", but that this is how they came. Each one individual with their own set of emotions, attention span & sensitivities.  It made things so much easier on me to parent them to accept & relish in their differences. I was also able to stop waiting for things to go back to normal & just accept & appreciate & adjust to our whole new normal.

I think it would have also been fantastic to hear that not every discipline method works on every kid every time.  Seriously there are so many to choose from & we have found that as our kids mature & change so does the method need to evolve as well.  But, typically I am a few steps behind so it is like sitting at a table with a lazy susan full of condiments.  I spin & grab time out. Nope not this time.  Spin again.  I'll try spankings. Nope just makes him laugh.  Okaaay try again spin for a love & logic here is your choice.  Great  we found one that works.  What?!  That expired already.  Anybody?  I know part of the struggle we have had is not always being consistent.  I totally admit to that.  The lazy susan approach is pretty much just that. L-A-Z-Y.  So, I have been trying to study my kids see who they are & figure out how to reach them. Really reach them.  Not punish them to punish them because I do have a  bit on a controlling side to me that really just wants them to obey me, because I want them to obey me.  But, I more than anything want their heart changed not just the behavior.  When I yell & get hysterical at them because they haven't yet picked up the Lego's I asked them to pick up 2 seconds before it may produce the result I was looking for in the moment, but it didn't teach them anything other than they hold the power to make mom froth at the mouth & to get her already frizzy hair more frizz as it stands on end.  And, really that's just not pretty.

So, although it can be totally frustrating that they are so different & I wish they had come with an instruction manual, because wouldn't that have been so nice I am actually delighted that they are so unique & I am looking forward to how we will all grow & change together in the coming years.  And, I look forward to the little moments of encouragement when seeking their heart is rewarded with a glimpse of it & the potential that is there.

Would love to hear if there is anything else that would have been nice for you to hear while you were still sans kiddos.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

cultivating the heart.

Last night at dinner the husband & I were enticing our 2 boys with some seriously delicious fresh (so much better than frozen...who knew?) from the garden broccoli & all of it's sure to make you a super hero qualities.  We called it trees, monster truck food & then went with the old stand by "you don't have a choice.  You HAVE to"  Thank goodness they are still wee ones who don't think past the threat opportunity since I hadn't thought through to the consequence of it myself.  Anyway the husband & I won they choked down the brocolli & we were all happy.

Lest you get the wrong impression of me I do not have the garden were that delicious brocooli was sown.  Nope.  I am more of an instant gratification gal with my yard work.  I like to mow & pull weeds.  There you see it there you don't.  I love the idea of having a garden & have planned many out even buying seeds a few times, but then reality settles in & the idea kind of fizzles when I consider how you have to actually culitvate it.  

Our veggies are currently coming from our neighbors CSA.  Truly.  I walk out my front door at a certain time one day of the week cross the street & return with a box full of goodness.  I am just that lazy concerned about supporting local agriculture.

It occurred to me recently that I had become very lazy with my parenting as well...forgetting that my little ones hearts, dreams, imaginations need to be cultivated as well.  And, as much as preschool teachers, Sunday school, and Jake the Pirate help out with that it actually falls more on my shoulders more specifically my heart.  

I realized that when my heart is not in check there is no way I can be cultivating a good heart in them.  I have been a yeller, a threatener, a punisher & let me tell you none of that has been working out to well.  So, I am in the process of trying to find a balance between discipline and relationship.  Trying not to yell which since Summer is upon us it is great motivation to keep my tone in check.  The windows are constantly open & who really wants their neighbors to hear them talk to their kiddos like that?!  It is really humbling & embarrassing at times to hear how I actually speak to them.  I would never speak that way to a friend or a stranger so why in the world to I speak that way to the precious ones that I longed for so much?   So it is a work in progress. Not searching for perfection, but the progress I'll take.

P.S. if yelling at your kids is something you would like to squelch I have found some great encouragement & tips at: The Orange Rhino

the beginning.

At the beginning of the year I had decided not to go the resolution route which I was sure to fail on within the first 30 days (not being a downer just speaking from personal experience) that instead I would focus on a word for the year.  A word to think about, talk about, pray about.  A word that would personify my year.  It would guide me & propel me in my decision making & planning.  The word I decided on after much deliberation was Pioneer.  It suited me as I was & still am in the midst of  a lot of transition & new seasons (hey, more on that later we just met after all) & I really liked the idea of putting myself out there spritually, physically, with loving others more genuinly & in my parenting.

Thus far my list of new or 1st time experiences is still on the short side, but hey it's only May June so I have plenty of time.  All this to say the other day I posted a status on my Facebook page something about feeding my boys kale is so good for them it trumps the times I yell at them or bypass sweeping the crumbs that live on my kitchen floor.  In the comments someone said:

"You should write a parenting blog.  I always love reading your posts!"

So here we are.  Madcap Mama starting a parenting blog with the only qualifications being um... I am a parent.  Not an A+ parent, but a fly by the seat of my pants, trying to figure this out while not yelling very much & making sure my boys eat their veggies.  This blog is uncharted territory for me therefore becoming #10 on my list.  Don't judge I was upfront with the fact my list was on the shorter side.  What do you expect when #1 on the list was played Bunco?!  I will say that things got a little more interesting by #6 when I had my first cross-fit workout.  I even peed my pants a little when doing burpees so I figure that must help with the wow factor.

Any who,  no idea how/if anyone will ever find this blog & read it, but I don't think pioneers always did what they did in order to make the way for others.  I think sometimes they just needed to see what was on the other side of that bluff, to carve out something new & to initiate it for their family & I am really hoping that my wagon makes it over the river without breaking a wheel.