Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day #116: Pleasant Weather in July?!

The kids have been taking swim lessons this week and it's been a touch on the chilly side the past few days.  They are all having a lot of fun and I am enjoying watching them venture out a bit more.  These lessons have also led to a lot of eating out adventures this week, so I thought I'd try something different today.  One of our bucket list items was having a picnic.  Given the beautiful weather, I decided to hit up the local bank's grilling for charity event and have a picnic in the park.

We had such a pleasant lunch.  The kids were hungry and we enjoyed listening to some music coming from the speakers throughout town.  Once we were done, we hit the playground for awhile.  I left my phone in the car.  No distraction and no need to watch the clock.  We all had a great time, no one complained when it was time to leave, and it was such an enjoyable part of our afternoon.

Some days it's the little things...

Day #115: Worry

For quite some time I haven't felt like myself.  I've questioned whether it's exhaustion, mild depression, anxiety, or a combination of both. Recently I've had a strange feeling in the base of my throat near my thyroid, a lingering cough, and unfortunately, a rapid weight gain.  After putting it off for quite some time, I finally went to the doctor today.

I'm hoping it's no big deal.  I have hypothyroidism and maybe my meds just need to be adjusted.  I just have this nagging feeling there's more to it than that.  This feeling in my throat/neck is uncomfortable and continues to get worse.  I had my blood drawn today, so am hoping for some answers by Monday.

I read all of these sad stories about women, mothers, being sick.  Seriously ill.  I think it's natural to think that it won't happen to us.  I am praying this is the case this time.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't scared.  My kids are young and I need to be healthy and full of energy right now.  I am just hoping for the best (and an easy fix to this weight gain problem!).

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Day #114: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...Wow

Wow.  This afternoon was ugly.  Three out of control kids, two doctor's appointments coupled with not enough sleep last night equals a difficult afternoon and evening.  Bedtimes were early, Mom needed a walk, and Dad hit up Whitey's for a well-deserved treat for us both.

My out of control kids yielded and out of control mom.  I could not handle the craziness that exuded from my children this afternoon.  We need to work on self-control and I suppose it starts with us:  the parents.  For the life of me, I could just not stay calm and handle the crazy antics today.  Tomorrow is another day, right?

Seems like a great day for one of my favorite verses:

Day #113: Being Brave

My kids started swim lessons today.  They woke with excitement counting down the hours until we would leave.  I did not expect this reaction.  None of our children can swim, in fact most of them will not even put their heads under water.  There is some fear of the water in all of them, but today each of them exclaimed these four sweet words, "I will be brave."

And they were...

Day #112: Habits

For years I have heard it takes three weeks to create a habit.  I suppose that's somewhat of a myth, because everyone is different and the mind is a powerful thing.  For me, it seems my biggest obstacle in achieving the goals I have created is my mind.  I need to retrain it.  Perhaps I need some consistent sleep so I can have the energy to focus on change instead of creating excuses to forgo it.

My mind races...all day and night.  So many ideas, goals I'd like to achieve, places I'd like to go.  It's all in there on the spin cycle each and every day.  It is so hard to prioritize my thoughts, because on any given day one seems more important than another.  In theory some ideas are good, but in reality some might be a disaster.

Life seems to continue to move quickly and my mind is holding me back from offering my best to my family and friends.  Surely there must be a way to overcome this hurdle and move in the direction of progress.  I just need to get up each day and start creating the good habits I desire instead of letting a setback wipe the slate clean.


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Day #111: Lead Me

Today was a particularly difficult day.  Feelings of frustration, miscommunication, and a general grumpy mood in our household left me feeling discouraged.  I left home to run errands irritated and angry and the first song I heard was "Lead Me."  I've heard this song several times, but never paid close attention to the lyrics.  Today I heard them loud and clear and the song left me in tears.  It was just what I needed...someone was listening.   

"Lead Me"

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames, I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear her saying
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're independent, but on the inside
Oh, I can hear them saying
Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?
Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone
So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?
To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love
Chasing things that I could give up
I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me 'cause I can't do this alone

Day #110: Good Intentions Mean Nothing Without Follow Through

I find it a bit ironic I am working on a project to become more intentional with the way I live my life and our family's life, but have a difficult time following through with even the smallest of intentions.  I am not setting the best example for my children.  I expect them to start something and follow through, yet I struggle with this on a daily basis.  We are just one big family full of good intentions, but don't have much to show in the results category.

I read a blog today about this very topic.  It hit home in a big way.  Earlier I touched on my difficulty committing as of late and this inability to follow through on even the smallest good intention is indicative of this battle.  I WANT to do so many things, I simply do not do them.  My mind is experiencing a civil war of sorts with my heart.  It's an exhausting battle and I so badly want it to end.

Perhaps my goals should be to focus on the interference and eliminate it.  It is inhibiting nearly every goal I set for myself from exercising to being a calmer, focused mother.  Some little voice in my head is telling me I can't achieve these goals and providing me with a million excuses why this is so.

This is not the example I want to set for my children and I need to stop being so hypocritical.  I cannot expect them to follow through when I, myself, struggle to do so.  Lead by example.  Praying for the strength and energy that would allow for some of these changes to take place!


Day #109: The Only Voices that Matter

For the past few months my husband and I have been spending a lot of time researching, discussing, and praying about our choice for our children's education this fall.  This is certainly not a decision we are taking lightly and with under a month before school begins, we still have not committed to a decision...but we're close.

This morning when I woke this thought entered my mind:  the only voice that matters are those in our family.  Our immediate family.  The six of us.  I felt like my prayers had been answered in a roundabout way.  One of my greatest hesitations when deciding whether to homeschool has been fear of what others may say.  In fact, we have yet to share this with our extended family at all in an effort to independently make the decision that works for us without input from others.

Ultimately, the driving force behind our decision should be what we, as our children's parents, feel is the best educational opportunity for them.  I know it will be hard to tune out the questions and criticism coming from those who may disagree with our choice, but if this is the route we choose to take, I will have to learn to let this roll off my shoulders.  Homeschooling is an outside-of-the-box idea, but for our family it may be what coincides the best with our beliefs and desires for our children.

One of my favorite sayings is "To each his own."  It is time for us to put aside all of the outside noise and do what is best for our own.  The dear children that call us Mom and Dad.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Day #108: A Difficult Transition

I broke our golden rule this time around:  no babies in our bed.  It started out innocent, a survival method, but it has become a habit.  She's been sleeping in our bed for 9 months.  I secretly love it.  She curls right into me and we sleep quite well together.  When she wakes in the morning she looks over and gives me the cutest smiles.  I think she's my last baby and I'm soaking up every minute of it.  My husband, however, is not feeling so bubbly about my decision to co-sleep.

I have been putting off the transition for quite some time.  I knew it would be a lot of work, tears, and missed opportunities to snuggle.  I am not sure I want it to end, but today I started the transition...slowly.  She took a brief nap in her crib and slept for three hours at night before waking and promptly brought into our bed.  These baby steps were a win.  No excessive tears.  She just needed some reassurance and comfort from Mommy.  And Mommy needed to be near her.

I'll keep working on fully transitioning her, but in the meantime, I'll lovingly soak up the moments we're snuggled up in bed together.  Don't tell my husband, but I could do this for a long time and think I should have done this with all of my babies!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Day #107: Lessons in Responsibility

"This job is so boring!"  "I don't want to do this anymore!"  "This isn't fun!"

I heard all of these statements and more today when my older two were asked to complete their chores.  The jobs aren't difficult:  sorting laundry for the oldest and folding napkins and washcloths for my daughter.  Our goal is to help them learn to be responsible and helpful members of the family by giving them chores they can handle.  They even get paid to do them!

Unfortunately, most days I am met with great resistance.  They whine, they complain, they stall, but they are still required to complete their chores.  We want our children to have responsibilities.  I want them to understand the work behind the scenes and to be proud they have contributed to making our home run more smoothly.

Life's little lessons add up to be the big ones.  We'll just keep plugging away and as time goes on, more chores will be added.  I'm sure they won't be jumping with joy, but someday they'll appreciate the work ethic we've tried to instill in them.  Until then, we'll just keep on keeping on.


Day #106: Fun in the Sun

This week we're having a backyard play date with a lot of kids.  Our outdoor toys needed some serious scrubbing thanks to countless spider webs, old leaves, mud, and grime.  I decided to create a little backyard toy wash of sorts.  One hose, a bucket of soapy water, some sponges, and three kids (and one baby) ready to get down and dirty...well, sort of.

We sprayed those toys down and then sprayed each other.  We scrubbed and scrubbed producing clean toys the kids would actually want to play in again.  We laughed and had fun until things got a bit out of control and the complaining about doing "work" began.  Ah, those frustrating moments that seem to creep into the innocent fun.  For the most part it was a pleasant little adventure.  I so badly wish we could make it through these fun times without raised voices or complaining.  Someday, right?!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Day #105: Friendships that Span Decades

Twelve years ago we graduated from college.  That doesn't seem possible, yet it seems like a million years ago.  It is hard to remember being so young and ambitious, full of hope, and dreaming about what was yet to come.  A lot has happened in twelve years, but some things never change.

Tonight we spent some time with a few guys from our college days (one was from my youth as well).  It's been many years since we've seen each other, but when back in the same room it felt like hardly any time had passed at all.  They were able to meet our kids and we got a chance to meet one of our friend's.  So much has happened in those twelve years, but on this evening it was just a gathering of old friends and an opportunity to reminisce about the good old days.

I loved that our children were with us.  It is not often that they get to see people we've been friends with for over a decade.  I hope at least our oldest son was able to realize that friendships can last many, many years and those friendships are a precious commodity.

I hope fewer years pass before we cross paths again, but for this night I am grateful.  Until next time!

Day #104: Four years

Today I was struck with this thought:  four years ago I was very pregnant with my little guy and had two small children at home.  FOUR years ago.  It made me sad to think time has passed so quickly.  Since having him, life has been hard.  Being a mother to three kids born in the span of 3.5 years has been hard.  Adding a fourth to that has made it even harder, but I wouldn't change it for the world.

In those four years I can count on one hand the number of nights I have slept straight through.  I have changed countless diapers, spent years of my life breastfeeding, and doing my best to ensure my kids are safe, healthy, and loved.  I have struggled (and still do) with dark periods, wondering, pleading, for difficult phases to end and for some pep back in my step.  Motherhood is hard and anyone telling you it isn't is lying.

This might sound crazy, but I'd do anything to go back and do it all over again.  My kids are growing up fast.  Though I've been home with all of them since they were born, I feel like I've missed out on opportunities to just enjoy them being young and (fairly) innocent.  Despite feeling exhausted, frustrated, and depressed at times, I would turn back time and do it again.

Why?  Because soon my kids won't want to hang around the house and play anymore.  Their ritualistic play schemes will be a thing of the past and it will make me sad.  Just a memory.  Some days we need to dig deep, pull ourselves out of the trenches, and make sure we are observing the changes happening right before our eyes.  We need to embrace the ugly, the mess, and accept that soon this season will end and we will yearn for just one more day with our little ones.

In the blink of an eye those four years have passed.  I hate to think how quickly the next four will go...


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Day #103: Worry Less, Pray More

Generally speaking I am a "take charge" person:  an idea pops into my head, and without too much thought, I run with it.  This has not always be the best option and I have not always been successful when taking this route, but it is the way my mind is programmed.  At least that's how it's been programmed in the past.  Now I find myself confused:  questioning the next move and hesitant to take the plunge when the next big idea pops into my head.  I find my indecisiveness to be paralyzing.  Do I move forward with hope and optimism or do I retreat out of fear and doubt?  These days I seem to be stuck somewhere in between.  Non-committal, full of questions, and in limbo.

This shift in thinking and decision-making has been challenging.  I find myself singing lyrics from songs I hear on K-Love: "I lift my hands and pray," "I want to live with abandon," "We were made to thrive," and my new favorite "What if the trials in your life are mercies in disguise."  I pray for clarity, some sort of a sign, the courage to move forward.  I just know one of these days the vision will be clear.  It is just so very hard to wait.

Yesterday I heard this verse and it resonated deep inside of me.  It is much easier said than done, but I am going to do my best to trust in Him and take the first step in this unknown journey.  Fear and worry simply cannot be an option anymore.  When it is all said and done, standing on the sidelines is safe and unproductive.  I want to be in the game feeling the exhilaration of hitting the winning shot at the buzzer.  I want to live with abandon.  It is time to take the plunge... 

Day #102: Letting Go of the Guilt

In an effort to de-stress, reduce anxiety, and just feel an overall sense of calm, I'm working on doing a little mental overhaul.  Generally speaking, I don't feel a lot of anxiety in my daily life, but lately I have been drowning in it.  There are so many uncertainties in my life right now, from deciding what route we are going to choose for schooling this fall to the ever-burning question of what path I plan to take career-wise in the future, and it is severely impacting my anxiety level.

I cannot live this way!  It is time to take some steps to reduce these feelings and the first step is to let go of the guilt.  The mom-guilt, wife-guilt, daughter-guilt, friend-guilt...all of it.  Each day I do my best and in the end, that is all I can offer.  My decisions may not please everyone nor be understood by those important to me, but they will be the best I can offer at the time.  If I could just let go of the mentality of "if I choose this, what might others think" and shift it to " this is what's best for me and my family" I feel like my anxiety levels would drop substantially.

This may be easier said than done.  I feel like my biggest critics are those nearest and dearest to me.  Their intentions may be good, but it can be mentally draining at times.  If I am brutally honest, I just want to be supported in my decisions.  I don't want to hear the "If I were you" lines or feel guilty because my decisions may not match their expectations.  

Wow.  That was hard to say.  Perhaps it's time for some heart-to-heart conversations with those in my closest circle.  They can be the most difficult, but the most important.



Thursday, July 10, 2014

Day #101: Cuteness

Praying before dinner did not used to be a habit in our family.  We made it a priority for the New Year and we have done a pretty good job of sticking with it.  My daughter shared the snack time prayer she sang at preschool with us, the kids loved it, and we have stuck with it.  If you're interested, here it is:

(To Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star)

Let's be thankful for this day,
For our friends and for our play.
Let's be thankful, let's be glad,
For the food and things we have.
Let's give thanks for your and me
and our home and family.  Amen.

For quite some time, the baby has simply smiled and looked at all of us while we sing our prayer.  Tonight she stopped, looked at us, and folded her hands.  Cutest.thing.ever.  If we've made any progress during this project, it has been baby steps in making our home more faith-centered.  We listen to Christian radio, pray before meals, and try to talk about what God expects of us.  We have a long way to go, put progress has been made.

Have I mentioned how cute it was to see those chubby little hands folded?!

Day #100: A Break in the Action

I have come to realize in order to meet my overall goal, I have to spend time away from my kids.  This surely doesn't sound like a mommy thing to say, but it's the truth.  Right now I am still tied to the baby's schedule since she is still nursing, but in the near future, this stage will be over and I will have a bit more freedom.  I just may go crazy and take advantage of this once it happens (both out of excitement and sadness that more than likely this will be the last baby I nurse).  

Today I had the opportunity to escape for a few hours to get my hair done and have lunch with my husband...alone.  It was heaven.  My stylist probably thought I was unfriendly, as I brought a book along to read, but I just wanted to soak up my two hours of peace and quiet.  It was delightful.  I left feeling relaxed, rejuvenated, and quite hungry!

My husband and I had the opportunity to enjoy lunch at a nice restaurant and talk without interruption.  I am working to convince him we should take a much-deserved mini vacation this fall, so it was the perfect opportunity to discuss this option.  I think it is hard for him to understand I simply don't WANT to go on vacation, I NEED a vacation.  Without the kids.  To reboot the system, get some much-needed rest, and relax.  Oh, it sounds heavenly!

It is not selfish to take time for myself.  At times it takes some convincing, but it would be healthy to spend a bit of time apart.  At least that's the pep talk I'm giving myself!  Excuse me while I search for a great mini-getaway...


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Day #99: Kids Say the Darndest Things

My son was working on his Rainbow Loom at the kitchen island this afternoon.  He still has USA fever from the 4th of July and the World Cup, so he decided to make something red, white, and blue.  During the day, I typically have K-Love playing and we have all come to love it.  Out of the blue I hear this statement from my son and I literally burst out laughing:  "This is the best day ever!  Making bracelets and listening to my favorite song on the radio.  This is great!"

I literally could not contain myself.  The tone he used, the exclamation in itself, and the simplicty of it all just made me laugh.  I said, "Really?"  He laughed and said, "No, not really.  I am just being silly."  He just sounded so funny when he said it.  A moment I wish I had on record.

Sometimes it's the little moments like this that bring a smile to my face.  I'm so glad I didn't miss it!


Monday, July 7, 2014

Day #98: Fumes

A long weekend and too much excitement has left our family running on fumes.  Late bedtimes, shortened naps, and interrupted sleep has left us with a bunch of tired kids and parents.  I am looking forward to a day of relaxation and no plans.  Monday will be welcome this week!

There are times when it seems like such a good idea to pack a weekend with fun activities, but ultimately, I like a simple weekend with semi-regular bedtimes.  I must be getting old...

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Day #97: A Family Legacy

Family.  In the end, it is all that matters.  Once our screaming little bundle of joy was placed in my arms, I realized nothing would ever be the same again.  As I gazed into the eyes of my child, my heart swelled and it became clear I would do anything for him.  When I walked into our home for the first time as a family, it seemed as if life had always been this way.  I wondered how it would be possible for my love to grow, but it did.  In the blink of an eye it became the three of us.  The four.  The five of us.  The six.  Many years from now, this number will likely begin to increase.  Even further down the road, it will increase again.

When you join in marriage with your spouse it is hard to fathom what will become of this union years down the road.  At the time, you can only imagine life as just the two of you.  Only with time, can you see what a tremendous, life-changing impact your union will have.  

Today we spent time at my husband's family farm celebrating the 95th birthday of his grandmother.  Gathered in a room were her children, their children, and their children's children all singing a loud rendition of "Happy Birthday."  In the room were doctors, lawyers, teachers, engineers, and salesmen.  Moms who stay home with their babies, a soon-to-be mom, and adorable children with big dreams.  A room filled with smiles, laughter, and love.  A family.

As I watched, I couldn't help but think to myself how awesome it will be, if I am so lucky to reach an old age, to sit in a room with the generations of my family singing.  I would imagine it may be a bit overwhelming to look around at the large crowd gathered together and realize the impact we have had on this world because of our choice to marry and have children.  It is truly quite amazing this all came to be from a union so many years ago.

Day #96: Fun in Giving

4th of July has finally arrived!  The kids have been counting down to the next holiday for quite some time.  They are convinced we should be counting down to Halloween next since it is the next "big" holiday.  Not so fast, dear children.  We have a glorious summer to enjoy first!

This year the kids had the option to watch the parade or participate as we were representing our charity for the first time in a parade.  The three older kids all wanted to be in it (truth be told, the baby really wanted to ride on the golf cart as well!) and were adamant they did not care about not receiving any candy.  Why not?!  Family fun!

The parade was a blast.  Our neighbors were so kind to not only let us use their golf cart, but to help as well.  All of the kids enjoyed throwing candy and waving to the crowd and not once did they complain about not having a bag of candy of their own to enjoy.  I am thrilled to not have three giant bags of candy at home, because it is usually Mom who is sneaking in the bag for a mid-day treat.  Win-win!


Day #95: Knowing My Limits

We love to have people over.  Parties, dinner, impromptu name it!  Tonight we are having a dinner party.  Generally I have a pretty good idea of a meal plan, but not this time.  Our week has been a bit busy, our house a bit neglected, and an extra trip to the grocery store has not happened quite yet!  

We worked together as a family to tidy up the house and by noon I was ready to think about food.  I started to make a list for a dinner that was perhaps a bit too much to take on in a short time frame and quickly realized I needed to start over with something a little more realistic.  This is a big step for me!

So many times in my life I put too much pressure on myself, extend myself too far, and just don't realize my limits.  This usually ends up stressing me out and turning me into a grumpy, snippy mother and wife.  Knowing my limits is important and keeping myself within those parameters is something I need to work on.  Today was progress.

Imperfect progress is the goal.  Baby steps are encouraging!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Day #94: It Happens...a Lunchtime Realization

Today I glanced around the table during our loud and crazy lunch and it hit about six weeks by lunch crew is going to be cut in half.  Soon I will have two kids in school all day and a third gone each afternoon.  My lunch bunch is shrinking.  I am not sure how I feel about that.

Meals are a challenge.  Through the years we've evolved from spills and messes being our biggest challenge to loud, silly kids using questionable language at the dinner table.  There are giggle fits, some bickering back and forth, and the occasional milk spill.  In the heat of the moment it is frustrating and irritating, but in the blink of an eye it will be eerily quiet.

The light at the end of the tunnel is approaching sooner than I'd like.  Life has been chaotic, loud, and challenging since we added our third in 2010, but two-thirds of the trifecta will be in school full-time soon.  My little guy is going to be lost and Mommy just might be too.

Uh-oh, time for the tissues...

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Day #93: Content with Today

We took a trip to Hobby Lobby today (yes, this is a bit dangerous with four little kids!) in search of some items to complete a home decorating project.  Shortly after we walked in the store, they spotted fall and pumpkin decor.  My oldest son looked confused and asked why they had their pumpkin stuff out already.  A few aisles down he paused and loudly exclaimed, "It's not winter!  Why do they have their Christmas stuff out?"  The younger kids were equally as puzzled.  After all, summer has just begun, right?

This is just an isolated example of the way we are becoming programmed to think.  Why do we live in a time where we have difficulty being happy and content with the present?  Given none of us are guaranteed tomorrow, why do we have such a difficult time embracing today?  As a society we are being programmed by marketing campaigns and retail stores to plan for holidays and seasonal changes half a year out.  I am a planner and enjoy being organized, but this takes it to a whole other level.    

Moms, our kids are watching.  We are setting the example:  what message are we conveying?  We have the ability to swim against the tide and simply enjoy today.  My kids hit the nail on the head.  It is completely ridiculous stores are being filled with Christmas decor in July.  It is equally ridiculous to fill stores with summer items in December.  I truly love how their innocent remarks touched me so profoundly.  Kids are pretty awesome at living in the moment.  Most of the time their biggest concern is what they will eat at the next meal or what they will play next.

Needless to say, our family won't be purchasing more "stuff" for holidays months away.  We won't be purchasing winter clothes, talking about Christmas lists, Santa, or anything holiday-related until November.  Instead, we will enjoy our summer and do our best to live in the moment.  Soaking up the sun is so much more fun than thinking about the cold...enjoy it!



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Day #92: The Best Gift

Today marks the halfway point for 2014.  How is it possible we're already halfway through another year?!  Summer seems so be slipping away quickly and we have quite a lot of activities left on our bucket list to tackle.  I suppose it's time to muster up the courage to venture out solo with the kids and have some fun.  It is always an adventure when we step out in public...I may change my mind about this!

This summer my kids are so content being at home playing together.  It is a bit of a change from last summer.  What a difference a year makes!  I love that three of the four are old enough to play together for hours.  Now that the baby is mobile, she is getting in on the action as well!  They are all very creative and really love to take an idea and roll with it.

Watching this play out is pretty awesome.  When I was young I always longed for a sibling to play with (my brother was much older) and my kids have been blessed with three.  I look forward to watching their relationships continue to develop and pray they remain the best of friends as they age.  What a terrific gift we have been able to give our children!  It is easy to forget this some days when they become out of control and mischievous, but at the end of the day, they are just kids being kids.  To top that, they are friends creating wonderful memories they will share with their own families some day.