Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Ramblings of a Simple Mom

For those of you who know me, and for those of you who have read this blog before, you probably know that I have pretty definite opinions on a lot of things.  Sometimes my opinions are appreciated, most of the time they are not.  I'm slowly learning to become okay with that, working hard to keep my mouth shut most of the time.

I'm also a mom. And a Christian. And, for several years, I was an employee in the church.  You put all three of those together and it creates a combination of experiences that make it hard for me to keep my mouth shut in certain areas.  


It's difficult being a parent.  Social media has made it more difficult.  I constantly see posts from other moms, on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, or what have you, with activities they are doing with their child, or are planning to do with their child.  I have been guilty of thinking to myself, "I'm a terrible mother.  Most days we just are trying to make it to bedtime without loosing it."  I don't believe I'm alone in that.  The other day I came across a post on Facebook that was something like "50 activities to keep your 1 year old entertained."  My first thought was "I'm supposed to be entertaining my one-year old?"  This thought was followed by a flash of mom guilt.  Then I looked at my baby, toddling around the house, pulling all the magnets off the refrigerator, and decided she was doing a pretty good job entertaining herself.

It's considered a bad word in our house to say that you are "bored."  When I was growing up, my mom would tell us "Only boring people get bored."  When my seven year old uses that word, which she has learned to not use it often, I immediately give her all sorts of ideas of things she can do to occupy her time: clean her room, read a book, sweep the floors, etc.

When I see posts like the one I referenced above, it frustrates me.  What is with our culture that makes us feel like we need to entertain our kids all the time?  So many kids are growing up, not knowing how to play, to explore, to sit quietly.  As I type this, my four year old is in his room, quietly coloring.  Occasionally we will do a special little project, but I love that he can spend a day entertaining himself.  No mom guilt here.

It's okay for our children to learn to sit quietly.  I posted a link on Facebook this morning to a post entitled "Sunday School is killing the church."  This post discussed the danger of having children in a service separate from the adults, never learning what it means to be a part of the Body.  I have always felt very strongly about this topic.  As a mom, I want my kids there beside me.  I want them to learn the liturgy, to sit still, to listen, things that many of our young adults struggle with.  They will learn, they will form opinions, and hopefully, when they are older, participating in church will be a part of their lifestyle.  Hopefully, they will also learn, that church can be fun, at times, and those times that may not be labeled as "fun" can be very fulfilling.

Thanks for sticking with me through my ramblings.  May you find joy in the simple things.






Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tears happen...

I've been anticipating this week for a while now.  Why?  School started!   Don't get me wrong, I love having my kids at home and I love being able to stay home with them.  However, school starting means Zoe gets to be around other kids, something my little social bug needs.  School means getting into a routine and having days with purpose.  School means quieter mornings and no arguing for several hours.  School means Zoe gets an opportunity to meet and make friends in this new town, this new neighborhood, this new school.

I thought I was prepared.  I thought I anticipated those things that could go wrong and dampen the excitement of the first day of school.  Silly mom...  All it took was a shoe that didn't fit right, then a brush that was missing.  Soon my happy, excited little girl was in tears.  It took all we had to try and get those tears to stop, and when we finally succeeded they started back up again when Zoe thought she might be late on her first day.  Finally Zach took a weepy girl and they started the walk to school, leaving an emotional and sad mother behind.  Sad because my girls first morning back to school was rougher than it should of been.  Sad because, for the first time, I didn't get my "back to school" pictures.  Sad because, with the drama, I didn't get to properly say my "goodbyes" and "have a great first day" like I wanted to.  I felt like I failed my daughter.

I was eager to go and pick up my new second grader and see how her day ended up.  She had a good day.  She made a new friend.  Her teacher was nice.  "She was very good today," her teacher said.  "She's a quiet little girl, isn't she?"

What??  Zoe? Quiet?  Um, no....  I've never, ever, known her to be quiet.  It occurred to me then, that we hadn't acknowledged enough how difficult the move and all that it entails has been on her.  Zoe has always been our resilient child, the one we never worried about fitting in with others.  She is sensitive, cries easily, so it never really occurred to me that she may have been scared or nervous.  She would always tell us if she were, so this time I never thought about it.  Perhaps the tears weren't because of not liking the shoes or fear of being late, but stemmed from something else.  Something I hadn't anticipated from this child.

My little girl is growing up.  She is coming out of the stage where I knew always what she was thinking, when she was scared, because she would tell me.  Sigh.  Parenting just got a little bit harder.

We did take Zoe to the bookstore for her "back to school book."  She picked out another Junie B. Jones book.  She was happy, for a while.  The stress of the day came back again later and she had a melt down of emotions.  This morning was a little better.  Things still weren't as smooth as we would like, that will take time I guess.  I will have to remind myself often to be more aware of the things she's not telling us.  Both Zach and I need to be better at seeing the whole picture, try to see it how Zoe sees it.

Isn't that what we always need to be doing?  Seeing all people through eyes without boundaries, to try and see what they aren't showing us, to better understand why they react the way they react?  We never stop trying to figure things out, do we?


 Her Daddy finally was able to coax a smile from her.

Book time!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Life as we know it.

It's been a while since I've made the time to sit down and blog, but for good reason.  We have been in our new home for about 3 weeks now.  We are, for the most part, settled in and adjusting to this new place.  We get asked often how we are enjoying being here, and I can honestly say we love it!  The new church we are at has gone above and beyond to make us feel welcomed.  The entire first week we were here we had meals provided for us.  I didn't even go grocery shopping until the fourth day we were here!  Yes, life is pretty good here and I am very much looking forward to see what the future holds for us.

On a related note, let me tell you all what happened to me yesterday.  From the beginning:

As any mother can attest, Sunday's can be hard.  I can't, for the life of me, get all five of us in a routine that makes getting ready for church easier.  I try very hard to go the entire morning not raising my voice, but I just don't always make it.  Why do the kids move so slow?  Where do all the shoes disappear to on Sunday mornings?  Why does that cowlick pick Sundays to be the most stubborn and pronounced?  The struggle is real, folks.  Regardless, we did make it out the door and to church on time for the kids to go to Sunday school, with little to no permanent scarring.

For worship we enjoy having our kids sit with us.  We feel it helps to teach the kids that it's okay and necessary to learn to sit still and quietly.  Zach took part in the service so I sat with our kids alone.  At one point, Ryann hit her head on the pew and began crying.  I told the other two to stay there and I got up to take her out.  I am almost to the back of the sanctuary when I realize Noah has tagged along.  Somehow, within the 2.5 seconds I left them, his sister had found a way to seriously offend him.  Sigh.  When the closing song begins, Noah, Ryann and I make our way back to our seat.  Jeez, who was sitting here?  Animal crackers strewn about, colors on the floor, two bulletins seemed to have multiplied to countless pieces of paper.  Sigh, again.

With Zoe's help we get everything picked up and gathered.  I grab my purse, Ryanns diaper bag, the church bag, and the baby, and head out to the new Prayer Garden where we were having a blessing and dedication along with taking communion.  Again, Zach is participating in this service so I stand there, in the sun, with my arms full of the above mentioned items.  The baby is hot, tired, hungry (despite the number of animal crackers she partially consumed during church) and is squirming to be put down.  Noah keeps wanting to stand with his Daddy in the front.  Zoe is bored and restless.  Double sigh.

Then, do you know what happened?  This sweet older woman, whom I'm sure I've met but can't remember her face in the sea of faces I've encountered these past few weeks, witnessed my plight from across the garden and made her way to me.  "Can I please help you by holding your purse and bags for you?"  I'm not sure what she thought of my expression, but I felt overwhelmed with relief and gratefulness. "YES!" I practically shouted it.  "Thank you soooo much."  She held my belongings, literally taking a burden from my shoulders, allowing me to enjoy the moment a bit more, to take communion without struggling.

One small, little gesture.  It meant so much to me.

Being part of the church for most of my life, I have heard it countless times: "How can we get young families in the church? How do we reach the millennials?"

Here's my answer:  I couldn't care less about the type of music you play, the clothing your congregants wear, the type of seating, if the pastor robes up or not.  I have enough struggles and worries to let those types of things bother me.  I want to be a part of a place that shows me and others the Love of Christ.  If you want to get young, busy, stressed out families in your church, then love them.  Easy as that.  If you see a young mother struggling with her kids, offer to help. Say something encouraging.  Love her.  If you know a single mother who worries about her car making it to work, to school, to the babysitters, then fix it for her.  Take away that burden.  Replace it with love.

I've been accused in the past of looking unapproachable.  It angers and saddens me when I've heard these comments, always from people I've gone to church with, because I want to ask them, when you see me looking like that, is Zach there? Do I have kids hanging off me?  Have you given any thought to what may have happened in our home, just to get us there?  I'm counting it a victory to just be here sometimes, I'm sorry if I don't appear happy and carefree all the time.

So, moral of the story and of this rant, be aware of what other people may be going through.  Offer to help, even if it's a small, little gesture.  Even a word of encouragement or understanding can go a long way to show other's what LOVE means.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Let Me Tell You a Story...

Today was much like most of our days lately.  Not great, not terrible, just another day to get through.  Zoe had art after school, which is nice for us because the fights with her brother were delayed an hour.  When Zach brought her home I ask the standard question: "How was your day at school," followed by "what color did you get on?"  Once again my little talker got in trouble for gabbing when she wasn't supposed to.  It's an affliction I suppose.  Not one that I have but she comes by it honestly.  I try really hard not to get too upset with her.  Mentally, I'm counting down the minutes until I can put them all to bed and relax in bed with a cup of tea and a book.

Feed the kids.  Clean the kids.  Put Squishy to bed.  Read Noah a story and put him to bed.  Next comes Zoe.

I find her in her room laying in bed reading a "Jack and Annie" book as she calls them.  Specifically she's reading Magic Tree House No. 49.  "Zoe, is that the same book that your daddy and I read to you?"

She responds, "Yes, I'm reading it again.  Will you read some to me?"

I agree to read to her but only if she agrees to reading a different book.  Going to her shelf I pick up the first book I bought her, back when I was still pregnant and had recently discovered we were having a girl.  I'd been waiting for her to be ready to read this book, as it has always been my favorite.

"What about this one? It's called, The Secret Garden."

With eagerness, she bounced beside me as I showed her the cover and turned to the first page.  As I read she would ask questions: "What's a veranda? What is cholera? What does it mean by a 'sour expression?'"

Somewhere around page two Noah appears at the foot of the bed, laying quietly as I read.  We get to the end of the first chapter.  More questions follow, this time inquiring about the future of little Mary and why is the book called "Secret Garden?"

Finally I am able to shepherd Noah back to bed and when I return to check on Zoe I find her once again with her "Jack and Annie" book open in her lap.  "I just want to read a little while."

Thirty minutes later I return to find her in much the same way and hear, "Just one more page!"  Okay.  Who am I to say no to that?  When she is finished she comes to me.  "I read two chapters tonight," she explains.  "Books are my favorite thing.  You must take care of them."

Yes!  This is my daughter after all!  When I am finally able to get her in bed I sat quietly, book in my hand, beaming with pride.  Maybe "pride" isn't the right word.  It's more like "Love."  I've always loved Zoe.  I always will.  Seeing her find joy in something I love, like books, just makes it that much greater, if that's possible.

My little girl is growing up.  Most of the time, that thought makes my chest tighten as I mentally try to slow time, but moments like tonight make me excited to see the woman my daughter will become.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

We all have to deal somehow...

Today was a long day.  It included 3 infants, a crazy three year old, a dog with a foot injury and inability to control his bladder completely, and later, a very excited six year old who was simply bursting to relay to anyone and everyone how completely amazing her day was, oh, about twelve thousand times.  Not a bad day, just a very long one.  I had a conversation with my mother earlier that went like this:

Mom: Your sister got to go home at 2:00 today (because of weather, she's a school teacher).
Me: Yes, I saw that. I considered texting her to say that I got to be home all day but thought she wouldn't appreciate it.
Mom: Probably not.
Me: Although, I imagine that if she spent a few days here taking care of babies she would be eager to return to work.
Mom: She probably would.  I know I would.

Gee...thanks mom.  To be fair, I know my life isn't ideal for many.  That may be why I know so few stay-at-home moms.  It's hard, and not just financially.  I recently read an article about the hardships of staying home all the time.  You can find it here.  What I got from this piece is this: We are trying so hard to be the perfect wife/mother that when we fail, or feel we fail, especially when comparing ourselves to others, we come down so hard on ourselves.  Yes, there are so many blessings to this lifestyle, but the hardships are very real and sometimes we need help, in whatever form we can find.

Zach was home most of the day today, doing homework and getting ready for a banquet tonight at the Wesley.  He was a great help, holding a baby when I just didn't have enough hands or secure places to place one.  Before he left, carting his white elephant gift and fixings for enchiladas, he kissed me on the forehead and said, "Rest if you can. You've worked hard today."  I LOVE that my husband understands that my days are spent busily taking care of my family, and other babies on certain days, and doesn't take it for granted.  I'm blessed by that.

So, here it is the end of the day, the kids are asleep, the house quiet and I finally have time for myself.  I could busy myself wrapping the pile of gifts hiding in our closet or cleaning the house again, a never ending job.  I choose not to.  My sanity and my body demands rest.  For me that means three things.  First, a bubble bath.  Second and third, a cup of Celestial Seasons Sleepytime tea in my favorite mug and my Nook, as I sit propped up on my pillows in my nice warm bed.  Awwww.... A breath of renewal.  The really hard days also may require a Patty Griffin radio station on Spotify.

This bedtime routine is so special to me that I actually wrote a note of appreciation to the Celestial Seasons company, thanking them for contributing to my ability to continue doing what I do.  I got a nice letter in response and a couple of coupons for more tea.  Now I feel convicted to make deliberate efforts to tell others that I appreciate them and the things they do more often.

I love this cup.

Truth be told, I live a blessed life.  I love being home with my children.  I enjoy caring for the other two babies.  I like having the flexibility to pack up and leave town on a Monday, like we did last week.  And lets be honest, if a cup of tea and a book can bring sanity to my day, it's not all that bad.  

Thanks for reading, you are appreciated.  Blessings on your day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Yep, it's the Spirit Bus, Folks!

It's been a while since I've last written.  It's not for the lack of things going on, that's for sure, but more from the lack of energy or coherent thoughts.  The other day I seriously had trouble remembering my own address.   To say the least, life has been crazy lately.

Of course, everyone's life is a little crazy it seems.  It seems that around here everyone is a little more stressed, a little more exhausted, and a little more frustrated.   There are times I wish to shut my family in the house and hope for the world, and the people in it, to return to normal by morning.  Unfortunately, life doesn't work that way and we have to learn to cope.

So, how do you handle the chaos of life?  What helps you deal with the people around you that are just driving you batty?  For me, it's my family.  Interesting that one of my biggest stress makers can also be salvation.  I've been trying really hard to be very conscious of how I react to situations in front of my children.  I'm very intentional about practicing not raising my voice or over reacting in front of my children.  To pat myself on my back I am making great strides in this area.  I'm not completely there yet, but every day I can go without losing it is a victory.

I'm also trying to make every day, especially for Noah, who doesn't get to go out much, something special.  It doesn't always happen, some days I feel we are just trying to survive, but that's my intention anyway.  I want to make the most out of these precious days I have with my kids, because, I know, the time will go by too quickly.

It's in this spirit that we have already begun to celebrate the Christmas season.  Yes, we have already put out some lights on the house, our tree is up and lit (though still awaiting ornaments) and, yes, I have already begun listening to Christmas songs in the car.   We know, with our past experience, that this season passes too fast, and often will come and go without us truly enjoying it.  Every year I have a list of projects and activities to do as a family, and every year the season comes and goes with several of them left undone.  So, we start a little earlier and enjoy it a little longer.

Crazy thing is, people have actually given us criticism for it.  Or, if not us specifically, anyone who gets in the "spirit" a little earlier than is deemed appropriate.  Why does it bother people?  Lately, and I attribute this to those things I said above, people seem to be more negative about things.   I've seen those memes that make fun of those doing the "30 days of Thanksgiving" by accusing them of only being thankful in November.  Why would anyone let the fact that someone chooses to be intentionally thankful bother them??  Shouldn't we be glad that some are choosing to see good things, even if it may only be for 30 days? Isn't one month better than never?

So why get upset about Christmas being seen earlier than Thanksgiving?  Who cares if stores may be doing it to increase profits?  Shouldn't we instead be thankful that, despite intention of others, that some people are going to be a little happier, a little more in the Christmas spirit, a little longer than the month of December?  Why do we let what we perceive to be the intention of others bother us, and instead focus on our reactions?

I guess that's my rant for the day.  Lets worry more about how we act, and less about the motive of others.  Only one of those things do we have any control over.

Now, for a random bit of cuteness, here is little Ryann.  She is six months old already.  Today was her first time riding in the cart like a big girl.  She is growing way too fast!!

And yes, we are in the Christmas aisle....

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

For Zach...

Well, Father's Day has come and gone but it's never to late for me to take a moment and try to put into writing how wonderful a father my husband is.  If you wish to escape some mushiness feel free to exit this page now.  For those of you remaining, consider yourself warned...

Zach was a young one when we married.  Many would say he was too young, perhaps they would be correct.  I was older, by six years, and was desperate to start a family.  I didn't want to push him into something he wasn't ready for but my clock was ticking.  We got pregnant a year after our marriage and I prayed earnestly that Zach was up for the task.  I shouldn't of worried, he was more than up for it.

Zoe came along and I could see immediately how much he was in love with her.  She reciprocated and has ever since had him wrapped around her finger.  Zoe is certain that her Daddy hung the moon. 

Noah came along during our most trying days as a family.  Work was leaching the life out of Zach on a daily basis.  One thing about working in ministry, it's never  just a job.  And when/if it does become "just a job" it ceases to be a ministry.  Zach was so preoccupied that I was worried that he had the energy to be a father to another little one.  Once again, Zach rose to the task.  I can't wait to see the relationship between father and son develop over the years, especially living in a house full of girls.

The next few years were a whirlwind.  Zach lived apart from us for a month, we moved twice, and suffered the loss of a little one.  Zach was gone often and money was tight.  It would of been so easy to let the little things, those precious moments that seem so insignficant to adults, but are so precious to children, go by the wayside.  Despite long work hours, Zach still made time for his family. 

Now we have a new precious gift.  Our family is now complete.  As I type this Zach is traveling to Dallas for Bishop's Week, an honor that I couldn't let him pass up.  He hated to leave us, that was clear.  The next week, and the weeks to come, will be difficult, for sure.  We miss Zach when he is gone but the moments we have together are so precious and dear to all of us.

I had hoped to do a special project with the kids as a special Father's Day gift to Zach, but time didn't allow it.  However, today I decided to get some pictures for Zach, to frame and have in his office.  Taking pictures with three kids can be a huge challenge as any parent knows.  I think a got a few good ones and I hope Zach likes them.  I dressed the kids up in their Rockies gear to make it even more special. 





 
 
I hope Zach always knows how much he is appreciated and loved.  We love you!