Thursday, November 19, 2009

Answered Prayer

I will admit I am pretty much the worst blogger in the history of blogging. I won't even make up an excuse this time, because the truth is you make time for the things that are important and most days blogging just isn't it. With three young kids constantly demanding my attention there are days I can feel drained before I've even started and when I do have downtime the last thing I want to do is sit at the computer and type about...nothing. I've shared quite enough about what a difficult season we've been in and honestly there's not much else to say. The daily grind has drained me so that the last thing I want to do is write about the monotony. In fact I can be known to snap pretty fiercely at my husband should he dare to walk in the door and ask "What did you do today?" He's learned to ask questions like "How was Bible Study?"(because I am almost always in a good mood when I've actually showered and dressed up a little and gotten out of the house)"Can I help you with that" or most appropriately lately simply take the unusually fussy baby (7 teeth within about 2 weeks people!) from my very tired arms and let me walk without a word to the bathroom, lock the door and take the shower I didn't have time for that day...or the day before sometimes. I love my kids so much, though. Gracie is going to be four in less than two weeks, Will is making his transformation from baby to little boy and Walker is sitting up in his high chair eating babyfood...I just don't know where the time is going! Even on those hardest of days when everyone is grumpy I still find myself wishing life would slow down just a little.
Today was our last day of Bible Study until January, "celebration day". The holiday season is so wonderfully busy I probably won't miss it as much as I think I will, but it's just especially bittersweet today. I've been blessed in some way by every Bible Study I've done, but this was was extra special. We did the God Seeker Study by Kristen Sauder, and in the beginning I rose early in the morning as often as I could(translate wanted to and had nothing more pressing, like more sleep) to have my quiet time and work on my "heartwork" but about halfway through the study, maybe a little earlier the transformation began. We were studying Exodus 33, particularly verse 7 about Moses and the tent of meeting.
"Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the "tent of meeting." Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp."
Before this study my quiet times were somewhat regular and I was in Bible Study each semester studying the word, but I was not wholeheartedly seeking God. I moved my "tent" to a more secluded and quiet spot and began making a daily habit of rising obediently at about 5:30 to meet with God, wholeheartedly seeking him. Making the decision to do that has transformed my heart almost as powerfully as when I first accepted Christ. If you have not experienced it yourself it is my prayer that you find that being a Christian is not about praying to a distant and abstract God, but one who will speak to you "as a man speaks to his friend."(33:11) I still, of course, have a long way to go. It is a lifelong process that, not unlike motherhood, is painful and yet so very rewarding. Through this process I have been praying quite adamantly on my face for an end to our seemingly never ending search for an answer about John's employment situation. He has been on temporary orders at Ft. Knox which end Dec. 11, we have bills that are behind, Gracie's birthday, Christmas, and a trip to Disney(planned and mostly paid for over a year ago) coming up. Today God has begun to answer many prayers that have been prayed by me and others. I'm quite sure, though I'll never be positive this side of heaven, that his waiting had a lot to do with work he was doing in me. I can now let go of my pride and tell you there was a time I was angry at God for making me suffer when John was the one who needed to change. He was, after all, the one looking for a job with no luck. While it may be that He was working on both of us, now that He has removed the log from my eyes, I am not sure how I saw around it to find fault in John or anyone else for that matter. I feel amazingly freed and humbled and I am so thankful even for the painful process that got me here. I finally gave in and shared today (quite reluctantly in fact) a little bit about how this study has transformed me and got to my car to see that I had 3 text messages from John. The military has finally medically cleared him (we have been waiting on this for a long long time) and we were not only approved in about 24 hours for an interest free sort of emergency relief loan through military but he already had the check which will bring all of our bills up to date (we have till April to start paying it back and it will remain interest free through the life of the loan). I am so joyful about this amazing news that I am reluctant even to mention that this isn't quite it. He has to be assigned a duty station and given official orders still. I will continue to pray that he is able to stay at Ft. Knox because I am just not ready to leave Louisville right now for so many reasons. But I will obediently follow wherever he leads if I must, how could I not?

Monday, August 10, 2009

One More Thing

Dare I ask what else could go wrong?? Honestly...a lot, so I won't, but really I hope something gives soon. Yesterday on the way to church the battery light came on in the Suburban(the car I have to drive to fit all three kiddos safely in car seats when I'd really much rather be driving my smaller safer easier to park Discovery) then the radio went out as I pulled into the parking lot, then the air stopped working as we drove around looking for a parking spot. I'm no mechanic, but I know these are not good signs so I tried to call John (7 hours away in Atlanta) to prepare for what I could only assume would be a car that wouldn't start by the time we were ready to head home. No answer, but sure enough I was right. I got out to the car in the 95 degree heat and to my relief it started, but by the time I had strapped all three kiddos securely into their car seats and loaded up the stroller, died. What?!?! I prayed "Please just let me get home!" I got the kids back out of the car and parked them in the shade of a nearby tree to try to keep them out of the heat while I tried to figure out what to do, I popped the hood, but that's about the extent of my car repair abilities. No one I know that would have been close by has a car big enough for me plus 3 car seats and much to my disappointment many many people drove by without offering to help a single mother with 3 kids three and under stranded in the heat. Finally a man stopped by and attempted to jump start the car. It started, he left, and as he was pulling out of the parking lot it died again. The parking lot was nearly empty and I was unloading the stroller to take the kids inside to get some lunch at the cafe and cool down assuming I would have to wait a while for a ride home when a family of 4 came by and offered to help. After I explained the situation the wife and 2 kids offered to stay at church while the man took me and my kids home. He is an officer with the Louisville metro police department and I felt at ease(and also desperate to get my children home and out of the heat). So I loaded all three car seats into the back of his old Buick sedan and he drove us home only to realize I had neglected to get the house key and garage door opener out of the truck before we left. I unloaded the kids and we waited in the shade while he went back to pick up his family and my house key. While we waited I thought and prayed about all the things that had gone wrong in the last 16 months...Single parent to 2 kids for a year while John was away, deaths of 3 loved ones, difficult pregnancy, John comes home unemployed, the stress of taking care of 3 kids 3 and under when one is a newborn, alternator goes out in the Discovery, water heater busts, John has to leave again, single parent to 3 kids, still no word on active duty assignment...suburban dies. I suppose I would be pretty justified to be depressed or at least down, but then I thought about all the blessings I have and how much closer I am to Jesus than I was before all this. Our basic needs are met and then some, we're nowhere close to loosing our house, we have cars to drive, good food on the table, my family has been supportive and helpful, and most importantly I have 3 beautiful healthy children. There may be a lot of things I want, but I have everything I need, for my father in heaven know what I need even before I ask him (Matthew 6:8)Comforting to know on days like yesterday when I try to pray but can't seem to find the right words. The thing I'm most thankful for though, last night before bed when we were praying Gracie prayed "Thank you that we got to play outside in the grass at church and please help us so our car will be fixed." What a blessing to have a child that can see the good in a bad situation.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Purpose in Pain

There have been some heavy things on my heart and mind the last couple days. I woke up Sunday morning thinking about the challenges my family and I have faced over the last year and a half and how it has affected my faith. Even now I can't recall the verses I was thinking of, but I can recall my frustration as we struggled to get ready for church on time and that I could see on the screen that the message had already started as we were getting our children checked into childcare. We are members at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville and we LOVE our church. They speak truth from the word of God and they never sugar coat it for the sake of making people more comfortable to be there. Christianity is not comfortable, growth and change require some pain and it is easy to feel like an outcast when you embrace Jesus Christ in a world that rejects him. I am not a preacher or theologian, I do not even feel equipped to be a small group leader and I have a terrible memory which won't seem to allow me to memorize as much scripture as I would like, but I do know this, God does not make mistakes. Our current sermon series is on seeing God, and this Sunday it was on "Seeing God in My Pain". I cannot adequately summarize it so I really encourage you to click on the link and watch or listen to it, especially the interview with Cindy Winters, wife of pastor Fred Winters who was killed in his church in Illinois. God knew this was exactly what I needed to hear this day, I don't question that one bit. I had been second guessing myself and my ability to handle difficult circumstances. I grew up with this "suck it up" mentality, in my family it was never acceptable to complain or let difficulties affect your performance. I'm not saying there is necessarily anything wrong with this, to not complain is biblical, but we have to be careful about being too legalistic and find a balance between complaining and sharing our struggles with those who can reach out to us and lift us up in prayer or even grow closer to the Lord because of the struggles we are facing. To not complain does not necessarily mean to keep it to yourself, I think it has more to do with the attitude behind it. As I sat in church on Sunday listening to Kyle share about Job and the incredible pain he experienced and how God redeemed that pain I didn't necessarily feel comforted, in fact I cried through most of the sermon(something I don't really care to do in public), but I did feel hopeful. God's purpose for us is not happiness, but he does love us and He will redeem us, maybe not in this life, but he will. Job's pain was redeemed during his life on earth, he was blessed with family and wealth and I would say he deserved it though no human, fallen as we are, really deserves any blessing we receive. More than that, as Kyle shared, people have been reading his story for years and years and growing closer to the Lord because of it, amazing.
My struggles are pretty minimal compared to most. I have more than adequate shelter and can put food on the table for my family and clothes on their backs. I never had to try to get pregnant, let alone be denied that opportunity altogether and I have not lost a child which I can only imagine is the worst pain possible, and I am a pretty healthy person in general. That said, my pain is still real. The past year and a half has brought financial struggles, unemployment, loss of three loved ones, a difficult pregnancy, being separated from my husband and having to care for my very young children and maintain our household alone, and after months of looking for a job and waiting for answers we still don't know what the future holds for us. Those are not easy burdens to bear, but given the pain Jesus endured for me on the cross it hardly compares. He may redeem it in this life, he may not, it may get worse before it gets better, it may never get better. But the purpose of my life is not for my happiness, it is to bring him glory to God, so my prayer is just that. I will praise him in joy and in pain and hope that someone may grow closer to Jesus because of it. "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." Romans 8:18-21

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Picture Day!

Some might say I'm a little crazy about pictures of my kids. I don't always have time or a free hand to break out my own camera as often as I would like, but I do make sure to take my kiddos regularly to Portrait Innovations and get pictures taken. They're inexpensive and they're used to working with kids so as a general rule they do a really great job. I like to get newborn, 3, 6, and 9 months, one year and every year after that. I just really like to capture those milestones. Of course it also means my house is filled with pictures of my kids and not much other artwork, but I like it that way :)
Yesterday was just such an occasion. The primary goal was 3 month pictures of Walker and 2 year pictures of Will, but of course I couldn't leave Gracie out and my sweet nephew Sawyer came along for some newborn shots. Here are just a few of the 131 shots they took.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Discipline Frustrations

2 days in a row, can you believe it! :) I'm going to try to do better, but no guarantees I won't get busy again and be MIA for a week or 2....

Anyway, here's what's on my mind today. Gracie is going to be 4 in December, but it's been clear to be for quite some time that she has has a strong willed, very independent since she was 6 months old. Don't ask how I knew, but it's always been pretty obvious to me and the lion is really making it's way out this year. Don't misunderstand, I think these can be wonderful qualities, I would be proud for her to grow up to be a strong, independent woman. Parenting these qualities, however, is entirely another story. I can't predict the future, but I imagine it is only going to get harder! My patience runs out way too soon somedays and really, try prying a 30 pound child off the floor with a baby in one arm, it's a serious physical challenge too! I like to think I am a good parent when it comes to discipline. I started setting boundaries at an early age, teaching choices and consequences and "punishing" appropriately(taking things away, time out, and the occasional spanking). Some days, though, I feel like nothing works with Gracie. Will is very compliant and helpful. He is happy to go to his room and put his toys away (in the appropriate organized bin) the first time I ask almost every time to the extent of the capability of a just turned 2 year old(and if he can't lift it back on the shelf he puts it neatly out of the way or comes to me for help). I think I'm even more amazed at his ability and willingness to do this because compliance has always been a struggle with Gracie. I have pondered and prayed over it wondering what the root of her stubbornness is. Just her personality or something else? I've watched for triggers and tried to make a connection to the difference between the times she is obedient and the times she is not. Sometimes she is just being childish, other times it is clearly downright defiance. All the time it is VERY frustrating! She certainly isn't a terror child, she's very sweet, helpful and compliant a lot of the time, it's just something I see in her that I want to get a handle on while the stakes are low because I know how much harder it will be if I wait. It has been a goal of mine from the beginning to teach my children to have an obedient heart and positive conscience(doing the right thing because it's right rather than out of fear of getting caught)yes people, children have to be taught these things ;). I have spent every spare minute I have combing the internet for good resources and have found a lot of good info. One thing I know I need to work on is my patience with her, that's awfully hard some days when we're running late and trying to get out the door and she's moving at a snail's pace and acting like a typical woman trying to decide what shoes she wants to wear :) As frustrated as I feel sometimes, I still have very high hopes for her and am thankful for the reminder that parenting is as much about growing me as it is about growing my children.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Chaos and Cakes

I just can't seem to keep up these days! It seems like I think of something else that needs done before I've finished the current task and I start my days with a huge to do list of things that needed to be done yesterday, go nonstop all day long and start the horrible cycle again the next day. I find myself missing meals because I get too busy to sit down and suddenly it's 3pm and all I've had all day is a couple cups of tea and a banana. So I'm working on finding ways to stay more organized which does not come naturally to me! John is away again, he took a temporary assignment at Fort McPherson(sp?) in Atlanta to help cover the lag while we wait wait wait for an active duty assignment. Because of this I am spending a lot of time with my parents in Georgetown to have some extra help with the kids. As wonderful as the help is it makes my days at home all the more stressful because I spend them trying to catch up on things that need done there. I am really looking forward to getting back to a "normal" routine. 2 day a week preschool starts in just a few weeks for Gracie and Will(for the first time! He's so excited) and I find myself wondering where the summer went though I should know it just got lost in the blur of a newborn baby and all the other busy-ness that has taken place in the last few months. My brother got married in June, their sweet baby, Sawyer, was born just a week ago and all of this has seemed to overlap with Walker finally sleeping through the night and hitting that 3 month mark I have been looking forward to which means the start of a more normal and manageable routine with him. I am loving the age he is right now, I really love all the baby stages, but this is one of my favorites. Smiles are abundant, he still naps quite a bit during the day, when he is awake he is easily entertained, and he's still a small sweet baby. I just hate that they change so much in the first year! In spite of all the difficulties we are currently facing I would be a fool to not recognize how very blessed I am, my children amaze me daily and my family has been so supportive.
On a sort of unrelated note, making the cake for Brandon and Heidi's wedding gave me the inspiration I needed to pursue cake decorating further. I've taught myself some over the years making cakes for my family, and now I'm taking classes and have even sold a few cakes! Though I still have a long way to go, I feel the Lord has opened a door for me and I'm really excited to see where it will go!
2 quick plugs before I go, I know I only have a handful of readers(if that many!) but just in case... is an awesome resource for moms of babies, toddlers, and/or preschoolers (or all three if you're like me!). The babywise books have been my go to resource since I was pregnant with Gracie (birthwise) and while I don't agree with/use everything they say, I love most of it and this blog is a great easy way to access and apply some really good parenting info. I've never felt comfortable tooting my own horn so to speak, but yes I already have a (free) website, maybe a little overambitious, but having sold a few cakes and had people show some interest I felt the internet was the easiest way to put my info out there for anyone interested.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

One foot in front of the other

It's been a long time, and I probably don't have to tell you why. Taking care of 3 little ones so close together is exhausting to say the least and in the rare few free moments I get in a day you can usually find me curled up on the couch or frantically trying to keep up with the never ending house work. Today though, after spending my morning in the loving presence of my small group at church, I am feeling compelled to share my struggles. I am learning more every day to cling to the truth of God's word and His promises and allow him to work in and through me in every situation. There are a lot of stay at home mom's in our group, and I write a lot about how blessed I feel to be able to stay home with my children, for most mom's it's a choice. But my eyes were opened today to see that it is not a chosen path for many mom's though that's the road they are on. It is so easy to generalize other people's lives by our own and make wrong assumptions about who they are. For a long time now I have been doing this with God. The ongoing struggles I have experienced over the last year and counting have worn me down to a point that I am beginning to believe that God is waiting for me to learn to pick myself up, to do something on my own to improve my situation. There is so much chaos going on in my life right now that it's hard to pinpoint the true source, it's possible I'm dipping my feet in the murky waters of postpartum depression, but it could be that the stress of caring for a new baby and two needy young children combined with the other stresses in my life is wearing me down. John is still unemployed, so not only are our finances a great mess after 21/2 months of practically no income, he is home ALL THE TIME. I don't care how much you love your husband, that is hard on a marriage for a million reasons that I won't bother to list now, not the least of which is needing some alone time every day to appease my very introverted personality. There are other more personal things going on to, but those details would more distract you from the evidence of God's grace and that is not my goal. I can try on my own to figure it out and solve the problem or I can rely on the truth from God's word. "...Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast." (1 Peter 5:8-10) I may never know in this life why He is allowing this darkness to continue to hang over me, but I do know there is nothing I can do my cling to him and allow him to lead me through it. It was a hard thing for me today to expose to my group the struggles I am facing. Many faces were familiar, but there were many new faces this semester as well and my stomach churned as my turn came to ask for prayer. I don't have to tell you they embraced my hurt and tears (not that I should have expected any less!) and comforted me as only women who love the Lord really can. I am incredibly grateful for each one of them, spending that short time with them each week is a great blessing and the Lord continues to teach me in spite of myself and in spite of never finishing my homework. "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there...even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." (Psalm 139:7-8, 10) It is so comforting to know we are never alone!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Day in the Life...

When I decided to start this blog I said I would never do this, I thought it would be way to boring for anyone to want to read it. But after the day I had last Monday I just have to share. At the time I thought I was going to loose my mind, but even now it's already almost funny to look back on. It was really more like something you would see in a movie or on t.v. than what life with kids is normally like day to day. A normal day, with just a little organization and consistency, runs pretty smoothly. Of course there's the occasional melt down or tantrum, sometimes in the middle of Target, the kind that cause people to look at you like you're the worst parent on the planet or even, heaven forbid, offer advice or criticism. These people usually don't have children of their own and I'm usually able to resist the urge to criticize back, well some of the time...ok at least I say it in love, that really is true. The little bumps in the road are hardly newsworthy, but occasionally there's a day that's more like a minefield and I am feeling obligated to share because the most comforting thing to most moms on a bad day or in a bad moment is that we are not alone and other moms go through the same thing more regularly that we realize.
Monday was my second day alone with all three kids. While most of the 2 people who will probably read this already know my children's ages, let me restate just in case...Gracie turned 3 in December, Will is going to be 2 in June and Walker was a day shy of 3 weeks old. People who know me, or see me in public with the kids are quick to point out that I have my hands kidding?? It reminds me a little of when I used to take our Great Dane, Charlie, out anywhere and couldn't get three steps without hearing someone make some joke about having a horse for a pet. It did get me out of a ticket once though,"Ya know they make trailers for those things, ha ha ha"... Really, though, it's not as bad as people seem to think. Even more surprising is that it has been easier to go from 2 to 3 than it was from 1 to 2. I didn't say it's easy, just easier!
Monday started only slightly differently than most for us. For one I was running on 2 or 3 1 1/2 to 2 hour naps and looking forward to the kid's nap time before I was out of bed. Usually on a Monday(and Fridays too) we stay home and the kids play, paint, play outside, and rest. It's my day to catch up from the weekend and get some things done around the house and one of 2 days the kids get to stay home all day and make their own schedule (besides meals and sleep which are always the same) and I am usually very flexible about it. We sometimes even stay in our pjs till noon and unless I'm up by 6 or 630 I don't get a shower till nap time. Needless to say, on such little sleep, that was to be the case this day. It's all kind of a blur now, but what I do remember is that after breakfast everything went south. Gracie and Will were at each others throats, verbally and physically abusing one another to the point that I had to drag them to their rooms to separate them on more than one occasion. I know a lot of brothers and sisters regularly fight like this, but that is not usually the norm for us. I'm not supposed to be lifting anything more than 10 pounds for another 3 weeks, they each weigh around 30 plus whatever difficulty they choose to add by either kicking and flailing about or falling limp in a pile on the floor (Gracie's recent specialty). Needless to say, I forgot to eat breakfast which my body choose to remind me loud and clear with an almost fainting spell standing at Walker's changing table that I am nursing a baby and can't go that long without eating. Just when I thought things had settled down a little, Gracie and Will were playing contently together in the living room, and I had a minute to make their lunch (Disney Princess Spaghettio's were the choice of the day) I got it on the table just in time to hear Gracie say "Mama come look what Will did" which is never good and usually translates "come look what Will AND I did that I know we shouldn't have." I took a deep breath and walked into the living room to find that the wall above the entire length of the couch had been decorated with crayon. Walker was screaming and nap time was a mere hour or so away, so with all the self control I could muster I took away the crayons and gave a mild verbal warning and sent them to eat lunch. I am the last person to claim that my children behave perfectly even part of the time, but I usually can trust them to sit at the table and eat their lunch neatly and peacefully with minimal supervision (yes, even spaghettio's). So I got them settled and went to change Walker in an attempt to calm him only to come back and find milk and spaghettio's all over the kitchen table, floor, and the kids. After they "helped" me clean up their mess and finished their lunch (all while listening to Walker scream from his swing) I gave them the usual "you have x minutes to play before nap time" and added "stay where I can see you." I sat down to nurse Walker while they created an obstacle course out of their little soft "reading" chairs. It's not the first time nor will it be the last that they have climbed and jumped and played on them, they are made of foam and cotton and in and of themselves pretty safe. Our living room, being very open in the center with no coffee table could also potentially be a safe place on any other day. On this day, however, after 2 warnings not to play so close to the furniture and one "ok, no more climbing on the chairs" Gracie turned her chair on it's side and jumped on top of it and proceeded to fall face first into the TV console. She was crying, obviously hurt, and bleeding and in my exasperation what was the first thing out of my mouth? Not concern for my poor child or worry over her injuries, no I said "Do you see why I didn't want you climbing on your chair?" Of course I instantly felt guilty and picked her up and panicked as I saw the cut under her eye swell up like a marshmallow in a campfire.
 I'll spare you the details of the next couple of hours except to say that I loaded all three tired and very cranky kids into the car to take Gracie to the doctor. John left work at Ft. Knox and met me there to help with the kids. Gracie's injury turned out to be relatively minor and thankfully didn't need stitches, just a steri strip (which she somehow ripped off the next day) but it's healing fine. The kids didn't get a nap that day, but my sweet husband, who came home from the doctor's office with us since it was too late for him to return to work, allowed me to take a short nap and shower while he and the kids picked up AND vacuumed the house. We had a frozen pizza for dinner and the kids went to bed a little early and so did I. The days since then have gone much more smoothly, but it is still exhausting to keep up with all the responsibilities of caring for 3 young children. I am taking it one day at a time, reminding myself to be thankful for small blessings, and looking forward to the day Walker begins to sleep for longer periods at night. And the truth is, even on days like that, I am so blessed to be a mother :)

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Catching Up

I started this last Saturday and never got around to posting it...
Wow I'm having a hard time getting caught up! I guess it's no surprise considering all the major changes that have taken place in the last month and the serious lack of sleep from having 3 kids 3 and under including a less than 3 week old baby. I wouldn't trade it for the world, though, and I say that with all the sincerity I can muster on such little sleep. These early weeks with a new baby are when  I most wish I was a coffee drinker. I've had 2 cups of tea and I'm already working on a diet coke which I don't usually do before noon or more than once a day.  In an effort to have something for myself in the midst of changing diapers and feeding children and cleaning up after them then starting over I'm spending some time on this rainy Derby saturday catching up on blog posts I've missed and trying to update mine in between facilitating the play-doh project going on behind me. Then I'm looking forward to a shower and some alone time by way of a hot chai from Starbucks and a short trip to Kroger. Quite a contrast I'm sure to what people who don't have young children look forward to on a Saturday! :) I'll readily admit that there is a part of me who misses being able to sleep in and enjoy the things I used to on my own schedule, though I sometimes have a hard time recalling what I did with my time before kids. Mostly I think the hardest thing is always having to plan things around someone else's schedule which is especially hard right now with a baby who needs to nurse every three hours around the clock. BUT how lucky am I to be able to be home with them all the time?? I know a lot of moms judge each other for lots of different reasons, the biggest one is usually the debate between stay at home moms and working moms, but I really don't understand why. Moms should support and encourage one another, though I suppose this dynamic is true about most human relationships unfortunately. Anyway, I really admire working moms, and I know there are many who want to be home with their kiddos and can't for various reasons, so whenever I'm feeling overwhelmed and exhausted like I am right now  it really helps to remember how lucky I am to be able to focus 100% on my family without other responsibilities to worry about.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Beginning of a Turn Around

It has been a long time, I don't even know where to start!! I was without a computer for most of the last month and a half which we have just gotten to, it was pretty far down our to do list. You would be amazed at the things that can pile up in a year! That said, I can't believe John is finally home for good!! It's been such a long and difficult year, and though we're still unsure about the job situation (he is currently working at Ft. Knox on a temporary basis) I can see the beginning of a turn around. TOMORROW morning I'll go in for my third (and likely final) c-section and we'll welcome a new baby to our family. The stance so many in our culture have taken to support abortion may seem to diminish it, but each new life is a miracle and we are thrilled to finally welcome this unexpected new addition to our family! I can say without hesitation that this has been my most difficult pregnancy by far! No doubt it had more to do with being over stressed and under rested with John away, loosing 3 loved ones in such a short time, and worry about my mom in the aftermath of those tragedies than anything that was a direct result of the pregnancy itself; but the almost constant contractions and other scares that the baby might come earlier than what was safe make me more thankful than you could ever know that I am still pregnant at 38 weeks (no matter how uncomfortable I am!). I have been so blessed by the women in my small group, friends, and family who have prayed for me and supported me than any of them will ever know. Beth Moore's Esther study couldn't have come at a more appropriate time in my life. I may not be able to feel God's presence all the time, but I KNOW He is there and doing amazing things. He worked no less powerfully in Esther's story where there is no mention of His name than in every other book that bears it. And more than that it renewed my love for deeply studying God's word and seeing how beautifully and purposefully he has been weaving his story together since the beginning. He has answered my prayers when I couldn't put together the words through exhaustion and tears and I know he is working on me :) One of the most prominent things I learned during this study is that the most frequent command (or one of the most?) in the Bible is some version of "Do not be afraid" and yet I have to admit I have some fears for how tomorrow will go and what it will be like to have a newborn, 3 year old and almost 2 year old at home, to not know what kind of job John will get, when, or where that may be...but what a blessing to be able to say that whatever happens it will be ok!!  I might even get some funny stories out of it and, better yet, maybe I can find 10 minutes to share them with you! :) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Mother's Guilt

I always heard people talk about "mother's guilt" before I had children of my own, but like so many other things about motherhood, you can never fully understand or appreciate it until you've lived it. Like anything else, some days it's worse than others, but for a person who struggles with misplaced guilt anyway, it's ALWAYS in the back of my mind. I feel guilty for so many things (sometimes all in one day!) that I never imagined feeling guilty for. Like taking a nap or catching up on a t.v. show or 3 while my children nap in the afternoon instead of tackling my to do list for the day, or the handful of times I've taken a trip for a few days and left them with my mom (I usually feel more guilty about leaving them than how much I miss them while I'm gone!), or letting them watch t.v. so I can get something done (or take a shower!!), or not spending enough time with them on any given day, or letting them eat some unhealthy snack before dinner just so I can get dinner finished! I could go on and on, and of course I try to reason with myself about how nobody is perfect or there is nothing wrong with taking time for myself every now and then, but the guilt never seems to fully go away. Then, of course, there's the one legitimate guilt that I'm sure almost every mother experiences from time to time when your children push the wrong button and you loose your temper and yell at them louder than you should or hand out some other unwarranted punishment because you're angry rather than because it fits the offense. That is the worst! But, in my short 3+ years of experience as a mom I have figured out this one thing at least. As unpleasant as the guilt may be, it only comes out of love and wanting to be the best mom I can to my babies. I'm not here to be their best friend and make them happy all the time. As much as I want to it's just not the best thing for them, they need to learn discipline and boundaries. And as much as I sometimes hate to admit it, taking better care of myself will ultimately make me a better mom in so many ways. So I'm going leave the kiddos with Granddad for a few hours this weekend and go get my birthday pedicure with my mom and maybe do some shopping (the kind where I don't have to monitor little sticky fingers that like to try to pull everything off the shelf as we go by, or get everything done in a hurry in case someone has a meltdown in the middle of the store forcing me to make a premature exit), and I'll remind myself, probably more than once, that it's as good for them as it is for me to get some time away every now and then, not to mention the great bonding time they'll get with my dad while I'm gone :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

6 weeks and counting!

It seems like it should get easier each time John leaves after a visit home, but it doesn't. He's been gone for almost 11 months now and we've had a handful of visits, mostly over long weekends like this past one and it always seems like they're over before they've even begun. Just about the time the kids get adjusted to him being home, Gracie is laying in be with us on the morning he has to leave, just like she does every day he is home, asking him in her own sweet way not to go back. She only ever succeeds in keeping him here an extra hour or two. I can't help but wonder what Will thinks about all this. He was about 9 months old when John left and has mostly gotten to know him through a web cam, pictures, and these occasional trips home.  Amazingly, though, he is always just as excited to see him as Gracie and I and never has to take time to get reacquainted with him like I'm always afraid he will. It is an adjustment for both of them when he is here, though. Like most kids, the excitement, change of pace, and missing daily routine they've grown accustomed to is hard for them to comprehend and it comes out in their behavior, especially Gracie's. I can't help but be a little fearful of what it's going to be like around here 6 weeks from now when he comes home for good and we bring a new baby into the picture shortly thereafter. Not to mention the very likely possibility that we will have to move because whatever job John ends up with (sooner than later I hope!) may be somewhere outside of the city or state or won't pay enough for us to stay in this house. That's a lot for me, so I can't imagine how difficult it might be for 2 young kids who can't wrap their mind around all the huge changes that are about to take place. 
That said, I can't wait for him to come back, to stop feeling like a single parent, to stop having to try to explain to Gracie how long it will be before she sees him again, and to have a normal relationship with my husband. We've survived this long, the next six weeks should be a piece of cake. At least provided I don't have to make any more premature trips to the hospital! It serves me right I guess for trying to do more than I should have to ensure that John finished everything on his exhausting to do list and still had time to spend with the kids. But it all got done and they definitely got some time together Sunday afternoon while I was hanging out in the hospital having more contractions than I should at 30 weeks. They eventually had to give me medicine to stop them, but everything is fine now and I have learned my lesson...I hope! God has been faithful in so many ways even (maybe especially) in the moments, days, or weeks when I can't find the energy or the right words to call on him for help. And I know he will continue to be faithful in the future, however unknown. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Guys and Dolls

You know all those theories and studies about kids and gender specific toys? The ones where they put a masculine and feminine toy in a room and the boys gravitate to the "boy toys" and the girls gravitate to the "girly toys"...I'm pretty sure they can't be as accurate as they let on, at least I'm sure that game would not work with my kids. Will learned to say "princess" and "baby" way before he learned to say "dinosaur" and "car" and the very first time I took Gracie to Target with her own money and let her pick out a toy she chose a bucket of dinosaurs. Don't get me wrong, Gracie is about as girly as I can stand for her to be, she loves to paint her nails (and Will's! though I only let that happen once) and play dress up and reminds me every day that she's a princess. And Will loves to play with cars and his tool bench and throw balls and, as much as I hate it, has a new found fondness for spitting...which he learned from Gracie. Truthfully though, I don't think I would have it any other way. I'm not sure why it bothers John so much more that Will likes to play with Gracie's baby dolls and barbies than it does that Gracie likes to play with dinosaurs and throw rocks and sticks in the creek. I just think it's great that they have so much fun playing together. If they want to do a study that would be worthwhile they should put a cardboard box and some exciting new toy in a room and see if they can figure out why kids loose interest in the toy in about 30 seconds but will play with the box for hours. AND, even more importantly, when will they start making a toy vacuum that really works?!?!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Keep Moving Forward

I’m not a coffee drinker, and trust me I’ve tried pretty hard to like it on more than one occasion. So I get my caffeine from chocolate, hot tea, and Diet Coke, it’s kind of a necessity when you spend your days caring for 2 young children. I’m pretty sure a lot of people would say that the life of a “stay-at-home mom” of 2 and a half is hardly worth reading, but if it’s good enough for me maybe I’ll occasionally find something in my day worth sharing :) Mostly it’s the same routine, but there is nothing like the incredible joy and overwhelming responsibility of raising children whether you do it hands on full time or you work away from home to support them. 

This past year has been an incredible challenge for my family. Between John having to close his law practice and go 13 hours away to active duty, loosing 3 loved ones in the span of just 6 months, facing the stress an unplanned pregnancy brings, knowing that John comes home in 2 months and is still without a job, and looking around and seeing family and friends I care deeply about struggling with their own difficulties great and small it would have been easy to become discouraged. But God has given me incredible peace and my dad’s personality so stress never comes easily and I have been able to see blessings where many would see only pain. I have so many things to be thankful for! I certainly have a new appreciation for single moms, my marriage relationship has really grown from time apart when it could have suffered, and how can I not feel blessed to be part of the miracle of life when so many are unable? Not to mention our great fortune that John was still in the states and able to come home occasionally. SO I keep my focus on what I can do now to make the best of my situation and look forward to seeing how God will use this thankful for the promise of Romans 8:28, and knowing from very real experience that His strength is sufficient to get me through any circumstance. 

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:12-13