The New Year

Happy New Year!

God is great! We’ve had an excellent time over the holidays as a family. Granted, there were a few days there at the beginning as we were adjusting to Brandon having days off and the hustle and bustle of the season. We quickly got over those, enjoyed our days, and are now snowed in after that massive cold/snow storm!

 

As the year turned, many decisions had to be made (insurance, mostly – blah), and I have been amazed at the peace God has given me in our decisions (one that normally would be keeping me up at night). I am enjoying my birthday gift – Jesus Calling – immensely! I am so glad to have found something that reaches me on such a deep level and then offers verses that support that. I was getting so overwhelmed coming up with my own devotions and scripture reading. I wanted to do well and make sure my time was well-spent, but didn’t really have a leading.

 

Over the past month or so, major things (at the time) were turned into minor things — after I prayed! I’m very much seeing the power of prayer in my life. The connection I’ve got going with God is something I hope I never lose again. I have seen it spill over in to Lillian’s life, too, which is just the most amazing thing! She asks to read her Bible, tries to retell stories, and talks about God all the time. We are having her pray after her devotions at night (using Jesus Calling for Kids, which directly correlate with my devotions). She has even offered to pray before meals — which she was super embarrassed to do before. It really is the sweetest thing to hear her voice talking to God.

 

I am hoping 2014 brings many more blessings to us and to you. I truly believe it will! Yesterday’s devotion out of Jesus Calling was about believing that God can do more than we can even imagine. I’m going to try to remember that all year long!

A Heaven on Earth

I’ve been reading Life Management for Busy Women by Elizabeth George with even more yearning for direction in my quiet times with God. I have been doing well at maintaining a time/space for my quiet times (yay!), yet my reading is random and often unfocused. I love reading books like this that give me direction — something to think about without replacing my quiet times.

This book has given me the inspiration I’ve needed to write out a specific prayer list for each member of my family, house, extended family, friends, pastor, president, and myself. If nothing else, this list keeps me focused and reminds me of the important things. Every day there are things I add to each area, but I have my steady beat, which helps me get started!

But, like I said, when I reach the reading portion of my time with God I often feel distracted (even though I just prayed for the ability to focus!). I have been reading through the more uncommon books of the Bible — and honestly, have really been enjoying them!

I’ve done studies by Elizabeth George before and she mentions that she has a file system for specific topics that she focuses on during her study time. These files grow every day as she discovers more about the topic — and her Bible gets more and more used and written in every day, too. Thinking about this, and reading the chapters on creating a Heaven on Earth in your home — starting by loving your husband and children, then your home, managing your finances, etc… — I’ve started to realize that a topic I am very very interested in is the expectation of a wife/mother/friend that God has. Are my expectations any where close? Am I so far from what God wants that I can’t even see clearly the areas that need improvement and the areas that need less attention in my life?

Therefore, I am planning to figure out just how I want to approach this study – which I plan to last the rest of my life! How do I organize my thoughts? How do I keep track of my progress and learning? What supplemental material should I read/experience? Any suggestions would be appreciated!

I’m really excited about having a specific direction. I plan to keep reading parts of my Bible previously undiscovered, but this is going to be a big part of my time.

Prayers appreciated!

Duty

“You do it because it is what you need to do, You do it because it contributes to and propels you toward what you want to be and do … and in our case, that is becoming women with a passion for God. And then… somehow… the duty of the discipline turns into sheer delight and we reap the blessings of a priceless, tender relationship with the Lord a thousandfold.”

– Elizabeth George, Life Management for Busy Women

 So you know how I’m trying? Well, part of this is getting back into God’s Word. This means I am praying about it more, thinking about it more, wanting it more.

I got called to sub this morning in the high school. I knew that would mean lots of down time, as teachers usually have worksheets or study halls. So, with a few minutes before I had to leave, I went to my bookshelf to find a book to read during the day. I pulled out two: The BFG (Roald Dahl), and Life Management for Busy Women. Both have been books I’ve read multiple times, but both are great go-to books.

I started Life Management from the beginning again. It has been eye-opening to see the things that have been highlighted and underlined before and compare them to the things I am highlighting and underlining now, in this point in my life.

This quote is inspiring me right now. I may not feel a true passion to spend time with God every day. But, when I do, I see the results. I see the difference in my day. It is a true discipline. I have to make myself do it. But afterwards, I’m glad I did. And I hope that one day it becomes less of a “have to” and more of a “want/need to.”

The time I realized that I’m trying…

I have really had it laid on my heart lately that I’m not living up to my potential. Not with my household duties. Not with my parenting. Not with being a spouse. And certainly, definitely not with God.

I have tried so hard to be something I’m not that it’s relieving to have come to the realization that living to my full potential may not look like what living up to your full potential looks like. I’d like to address all the areas I mentioned above….

 Household Duties-

What I thought I should be doing:

  • House should be clean and picked up every moment of every day.
  • There should never be any dirty laundry.
  • There should never be any clean laundry waiting to be folded/put away.
  • There should never be any dirty dishes sitting in sink.
  • There should never be an clean dishes waiting to be put away.
  • Dinner should always be at a predictable time, prepared by wearing an apron, and be a nutritious part of the day.
  • Breakfasts should always be served hot with a smile.
  • Once a week, lunch should be served on a blanket under a tree at the park.
  • Dogs should be well-behaved and never stinky.

What I think now:

  • House should be clean and picked up by the time I go to bed, and only as long as the kids/husband are taken care of
  • There will always be dirty laundry. Accept it.
  • Be grateful when the laundry gets put away – I am clearly on top of it… today!
  • I will always find one more cup/plate/random fork somewhere in the house after I’ve done the dishes for the night
  • Even in they aren’t in the cabinets, at least I have plates to eat on
  • Dinner may not be completely nutritious according to the latest fad, or even traditional ones. It may have been prepared by a mommy still in her Pjs. It may be at 3:30 or 7:50. But dinner is here. It is good.
  • Breakfast is served at different times depending on the person being served. Mom eats last.
  • Every day is just too hot to be at the park at noon for lunch. But I’m down with picnicking under the ceiling fan in the living room!
  • We have an outside kennel for the dogs for a reason. They are beasts and are always stinky.

 

Parenting-

What I thought it should look like:

  • Children should be clean, in nice clothes, hair & teeth brushed, and smiling by 7:00 AM everyday.
  • When in public, children should be well-behaved and under a tight set of rules. They should say “hello” when spoken to, their “please”s and “thank you”s, and always hold my hand in the parking lot.
  • Time-outs are the limit of discipline. No other method is necessary.
  • My child will always behave better than yours.
  • I will be the guru for all my friends for discipline, potty-training, toddler-feeding, breastfeeding, & cloth diapering.
  • I will never want to be done having kids. I’m too good at this.

What it really looks like for me:

  • You will be lucky to knock on my door any given day by 4:00 PM and see anything but a toddler in only panties, a baby in a diaper, & Mommy in her Pjs. You’ll be really lucky if we brushed our teeth.
  • When in public, I’m happy if I didn’t have to threaten a time-out. And I’ll just settle for my kid walking next to me in the parking lot.
  • Time-outs aren’t the answer for everything. Creativity in discipline makes me proud of myself.
  • Odds are, honestly, that your child may behave better than mine but I like mine more.
  • I don’t know anything about discipline, potty-training, toddler-feeding, breastfeeding, or cloth diapering…. but I have the internet on my phone and at home. I’m a few keywords away from having an answer.
  • I think I have a limit to how many kids I can/should have… and I think I’m getting close.

 

Spouse-

The kind of spouse I thought I should be:

  • The kind that greets him at the door every evening with a smile, happy kids, and fresh baked cookies to tide him over to before mentioned nutritious dinner.
  • The kind that never says “no” to practicing our… skills… ::wink wink::
  • The kind that is ever so happy to wake up an hour or more before the kids will just so I can say good-bye to him before work, make his coffee, and pack his lunch.
  • The kind that thinks all his ideas are brilliant.

More realistically:

  • I’m the kind of spouse that knows he appreciates napping children, sometimes even a napping wife, to greet him when he gets home.
  • I’ve been pregnant for most of our marriage. We don’t need any practice. We’ve got mad skills.
  • I’d rather be sleeping when he leaves & not have to call him at the office about how tired and drained I am during the day or have him come home to someone who is unpleasant to be around.
  • All of my ideas are brilliant. But when we think up ideas together they are even more brilliant-er.

 

God-

The kind of child I thought I should be:

  • Never-failing
  • Blameless
  • Sinless
  • A model Christian
  • A constant prayer – in good and bad times
  • Fulling trusting
  • Selfless
  • An every day Bible reader
  • Prays before every meal
  • Prays before every decision
  • Equally praises Him and asks of Him

The kind of child I am:

  • Always failing
  • Totally to blame
  • Full of sin
  • A struggling Christian
  • Prayers go up more often in bad times than good
  • Mostly trusting
  • Very selfish
  • A Sunday and Wednesday Bible reader, but a “daily verse” reader with my Bible app
  • Is reminded by the 3 year-old to thank God for our food
  • Looks back on decisions and wishes I would have prayed first
  • Makes sure to praise Him before asking, but spends most time asking

 

Clearly, these are just snippets of each area. There are so many other expectations I have had that I have had to change to fit our family, our marriage, our home, and, yes, I am still working with God, too. Making this list was a little bit of an eye-opener for me. I wanted to change some of the realistic points to sound better. I don’t want you to think that I don’t care for my husband or think that reading my Bible every day isn’t important. But honestly, I want you to know I’m trying. And, also, every marriage has different expectations.

I want to show every person how much I love God and my family by how I live. But it is hard for me to remember that I don’t have to live up to these made-up expectations. As long as I am living loving God, my husband, and my kids, even though first glance may not look like “I have it together,” people will see at least what I am striving for – to be a good child to my God in every area of my life. What I’ve learned this past year is that the moms that don’t “have it together” are typically the ones I want to spend time with to grow and challenge myself!

What works to show love to my family is going to be different than what it looks like for your family. Find what works, what makes every person under your roof feel loved, focus on God’s plan for you and your family… and tell me about it!

Pressure

Pressure.

There is so much of it these days.

It’s all Pinterest’s fault, I think.

Blogging was supposed to be fun, a way to keep a journal of sorts for my kids in the future, a way to help me vent… It turned out that I was putting too much pressure on myself and this blog to be what I liked about reading other people’s blogs. I love it when they post everyday about different things. I love reading about their kids & watching them grow up… over the internet… creepily from 100s of miles away… I also love getting new ideas for my home like decorating tips, recipes to try, & discipline techniques. So, naturally, I wanted to be one of those blogs with a million devoted followers who thought my home was so cute and tidy and my kids are so adorable they would send me free things.

That didn’t happen.

And then I stopped blogging.

Then I wanted to start again because I had a lot to say and update you on.

But then I felt guilty because since I last posted I’ve had a baby and gotten pregnant again. And that just seems like too much to have not blogged about. To become committed to this again seemed silly.

However, I’m here! I’m excited to have a new outlook on this blogging thing. I want to update you on my family – how we are growing emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I want to share my mother/wife experiences with you. That’s how we learn, right?

Mostly, I don’t want there to be any pressure on me. I feel like being a woman of God and raising two girls of God is pressure enough!

When Daddy Handles It

I have to remember sometimes that I am not a single parent. Let me clarify — Brandon has ALWAYS helped out with Lillian. Anything I’ve needed, he’s either realized I’ve needed and is there to help or is only a “Will you…” away.

It was easier when I was working because when I was with Lillian, I was also with Brandon. We shared parenting. I got used to that very quickly.

And now that I’m home — well, things are different again.

Lillian responds to me differently than she does to Brandon. Some days she looks forward to him walking in the door and is immediately Daddy’s girl. Other days she clings to me and avoids him like the plague (on which days I feel sorry for him …. and me). The biggest thing is that even though we both have the same goals in mind, our approaches are often different. He is more straight-forward, black & white, my way or the highway. I give Lil chances (& more chances), explain a lot more, & talk more.

It’s hard sometimes to let Brandon handle a situation when I would do it differently. It is especially hard if we are in a public setting. I feel the pressure of the eyes upon us, judging us as parents & watching our every move. Lillian feels that pressure, too, which is often the reason for her behavior.

I also have to remember that when he is handling a situation, Lillian asking for Mommy is not necessarily because Brandon is doing something wrong/she is hurt. Often times, it is because she knows that I am a softy. She knows that if Brandon keeps returning her to bed and I intervene, I’ll lay in bed with her, get her to calm down, and often times, stay until she falls asleep. But ignoring that “Mommy!!” is soooo hard.

I believe that God gave Brandon and I Lillian to raise in Him for a reason. God knew that Brandon & I would have different approaches. He knew how Lillian’s personality would play a huge role in our parenting style. So I have to remember that God didn’t just give ME Lillian. That, in fact, God gave BOTH of us Lillian to raise — because he knew that Lillian needed a softy every once in a while and someone who could lay down the law other times.

Mission: Wear The Child Out – Day 1

Success!!!

Today started off like any other day… We woke up (yea, I didn’t wake up before her or shower…or get dressed…), ate breakfast while watching our daily morning line-up on PBS Kids. After Super Why!, she got to do an activity that she got for going “big potty” on the potty!! :)

Then we cleaned up the breakfast mess, and I asked her if she wanted to play a new game. Oh, man. Her eyes lit up!! She was so super pumped for whatever I had planned! That, of course, got me even more excited.

We headed up to her room, cleared the space, and following the lead of this momma, we played some masking tape games! I used the ideas she had as a starting place, but quickly came up with my own ideas. It was surprising to me how quickly I was able to change up ideas to keep her occupied. a whole 45 minutes went by and we didn’t even realize it! (45 minutes may not seem like a lot, but believe me, for us to do 1 thing for that long is HUGE)

I started by making a rectangle on the floor with the tape. We talked about what shape it was and why it was a rectangle and not a square. I then made a line a few feet back for her to put her toes on to roll the ball into the rectangle. She loved it! When I noticed her getting bored, we put some squares of different sizes and then some X’s on the floor randomly. She had to hop, skip, bear crawl, etc. from one to another. Then it was Mommy’s turn!

While she made her baby dolls do those things, I went to the other side of the room and made a line (zigzag, straight, diagonal, etc.) for her to walk along like a balance beam. She did that, but it didn’t last long. So then we got out her cars and I showed her how we could pretend they were roads. We couldn’t stop there! We got out puzzle pieces (farm animals) and placed them all over the “town,” and also her ferris wheel and nativity set (this is not the exact one we had, but kind of like it.). Side note: she said the nativity set was the church — which I thought was adorable.

After a while, this, too, got boring for her. So, I just let her play on her own. But I could tell that she was using some of the new ideas we discovered in her play.

While I was making lunch later, we build a fort using her pop-up tents and blankets. She loved hiding from the dogs!

After lunch, we took a bath and headed up to her room. She played for about 5 minutes then helped me clean up the mess we had made earlier. We followed our routine chart for bedtime and she fell right asleep!

Yay for a great day!!

It was one of those days when…

Today was just one of those days. It was gloomy outside. It is getting colder, so we can’t go to the park at just anytime of the day. I felt stuck inside with Lillian. I felt like I just needed to sleep all day. I can blame some on my pregnancy… but not all of it.

We’re trying to get Lil to nap and sleep at night in her new big girl bed. And frankly, nap time is not going so well. But really, it wasn’t going well when she was in a crib, either. A crib just contained her for a while with the books I threw in there so I didn’t feel like a horrible parent locking my kid up so I could catch 15 minutes of a snooze myself.

After a week of doing whatever I could (mostly letting her watch Diego in our bed) to get her to nap, I decided that enough was enough. She used to be such an awesome napper! I miss that! I know that the day will come that she won’t need a nap — and I thought that day might have arrived — until her behavior by the evening told us otherwise. I tried the Supernanny approach: doing our routine, placing her in bed, hugs and kisses, explain that it is nap time, leave room — if she gets up once, you say it’s nap time, return her to bed, leave room — if she gets up again, you don’t say anything, just place her back in bed and leave the room. Well, that went on for an hour… I could tell I was wearing her down. And I should also add that every 15 minutes or so I would lay down with her to get her to calm down and talk about nap time. But I think I was just making it worse by starting the cycle all over again.

So after an hour of this mess, I took her to our room. We recently moved the rocker in our room in preparation for Meredith’s arrival, but she still likes to be rocked. She fell asleep almost instantly. And then, of course, I got uncomfortable. So I tried to lay her in our bed. Fail. Awake. Wiiiiiide  awake. I lost my patience. We got in the van and drove to Daddy’s office. We then went to Grandma’s. When I noticed her showing signs of tiredness, we went back home and I spent 20 minutes doing the routine over again. Finally, I laid down with her and within seconds she was asleep. This time at least she was in her bed and I could get out easily.

So, I came downstairs, cleaned up the house, and started thinking…. this is ridiculous. I know that I am tired. I know that she is tired, but not as tired as she needs to be to lay down peacefully.

I got on Pinterest, started searching for toddler activities, and have now got a plan to wear her out by nap time!! I have a craft planned for every day until the end of October. I have a list of “boredom busters” for those moments when I know we need some entertainment. I have a shopping list for some items I need to get from the Dollar Store to make some Quiet Time Bins.

I feel like a teacher again.

And it feels good.

Also, I plan to get up, shower, and get dressed every day before she wakes up. This should help my moods, too!

I just really want to get things on a schedule and under control before Meredith gets here, knowing I’ll be stressed enough. I know Lil loves structure, as do I, I don’t know why it’s such a hard thing for me to accomplish!

 

P.S. Any tips on nap time would be great! She’s got bedtime down!

Mish Mash

So, I’ve been slacking again with blogging.

I’m currently 34 1/2 weeks prego and really starting to feel it now. In comparison with Lil’s pregnancy, I’ve gained much less weight (20 lbs. vs. 70 lbs.), am much less tired (although still have waves of exhaustion), and worry much less.

 

Nesting has def begun. I have so much to do to prepare for Mer’s arrival. Although, looking over my list, I see that none of them HAVE to be done in order for us to bring her home. Tonight I packed her hospital bag and most of mine & set the car seat in an easy to grab location. That’s all we really need, right? I have lists and lists laying around the house. It’s becoming overwhelming.

 

I’ve started work on Lil’s costume. She is going to be Jesse this year. I have half of the shirt done. I showed it to her today and she knew right away that it was a “Jesse shirt.” So, overall, I think it’s a success so far! Pictures to come, obviously.

 

I have 4 gifts this year to make for Christmas that will take a lot of time to finish. I’m hoping to get enough crossed off my lists so I can “relax” and finish those before she comes, too.

 

I think my goals are unobtainable. …..

The Sweetest…

My daughter was super sweet today.
And she wore the adorable clothes I picked out for her.
And she had a great nap.
And she was helpful to me when I had to get things done for a meeting tonight and boys’ night (for the hubs).
And she stayed up an hour and a half past her bedtime and was still sweet to us.

I love days like this.