One Choice That Helped Me Love (ish) Motherhood

A year ago I started doing something totally counterintuitive for me, making a choice that goes against every extrovert bone in my body— I started staying home.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for four years now so that’s not what I mean, I am talking about actually being inside the house. Denying my pull toward playdates, children’s museums, zoos, quick service restaurants, and elaborate outdoor adventures we mostly stay home during the week.

I cannot convey how much this goes against how I am wired or would naturally spend my time if I didn't have kids! It is on my bucket list to live in a dorm again someday, or in some kind of Super Commune where everybody shares everything (like Sister Wives without the sex part). I told Michal last weekend that I would love to live in an apartment building if we could find one with 3-4 bedrooms and he looked at me like I was crazy. I would be a great target for any up and coming cults that are recruiting in the area and might have actually liked living in Communist Russia. 

Honestly staying home almost every day came about not by choice but by circumstance (we live in a rural town far enough from things that going places is a whole process + now that we have 4 kids I don't have the patience to strap everybody into their carseats more than once a day, so how would we get home?!) and I have been surprised to find I love it. I never would’ve chosen this way to raise my kids but I can say it brings me so much more peace and joy in my motherhood than I had when we lived in a big suburb and I took my kids out every day.

But if you offered me a move to the suburbs or the big city I would pack my bags in a hot second! 

During our busier season in Des Moines, I had two kids and felt like I could revolve our schedule around my plans since both weren’t in school and didn’t have any activities. So every day we ate where I wanted to, shopped for what I needed, and hung out with the friends that I loved. I am thankful for the deep friendships I formed but I can look back and see all the ways my kids were exhausted. 

You see, I was giving all my energy to getting them out of the house, making it through our activities without them having a breakdown, rushing them back home in time for naps or dinner, and then I was so exhausted by our outing I wanted some “me time.” I gave the best part of my self to the outing and by the time we got home I didn’t have much left over for the kids. 

Also, this:

Now that we go out so rarely, I can tell my kids are happiest the days we stay home (my daughter still goes to preschool so we get our booties out the door to run her down the road). My older two are extraverts like their mama, thankfully they have each other and pretty wild imaginations. They rotate between crafts, toys, running around outside, and reading. In the winter I let them watch tv on the days they don’t nap and first thing in the morning so I can stay in bed longer and so I don't have to talk to anybody before 9 am.

It wasn’t always this way either! I think all of us had to “learn” to stay home. In the beginning, we could barely make it a day. By 5 o’clock everyone started fighting, I literally felt trapped and suffocated by the walls of my home, and I was already planning at least three places we would go to the next day. Eventually we were able to stretch our days at home into two in a row, and now we are up to three! 

Those first few months learning to stay home I honestly would walk from room to room with my cup of coffee bored out of my mind. ALSO, it was so much easier just to clean the house and then leave it for the day— or who I am kidding, we would trash the house in our hurry to get out the door, leaving diapers and spilled coffee in our wake but at least I didn’t have to look at the mess all day while we were at the zoo or the mall! 

While we're home, I actually try to get a few chores done but don't compare yourself to me-- my housekeeping style is half-hearted at best. Each day I do the same things— rotating the laundry, unloading the dishes, picking up the living areas/kitchen, cooking our meals and some days I add in extras like vacuuming/dusting or cleaning the playroom. Does that sound exciting or what?! And that is just how I spend my “free” time when I don’t have to hold two babies at once and can strap one on my back! 

I honestly get super lonely. That is one of the reasons I blog! My saving graces are music on Pandora, phone calls, my favorite podcast, and watching the opening monologues of Ellen or The Tonight Show. By the end of the day I will sometimes be so over all of it I will park myself on the couch and make that my parenting “command station,” yelling orders and staring at the clock until Mike gets home. 

Exhibit A, a text to Mike last week-- he doesn't answer my phone calls unless they are preceded by a text that reads"S.O.S," which makes me confused because why wouldn't he want to know how many glasses of water Archer dumped on the floor or what I ate for lunch that day? 

All of this has made our transition into having four babies relatively “peaceful” (I clearly have super lower standards for peace or a weird definition of it!) and very, very joyous. People often say, “I don’t know how you do it!” I think to myself, well I really don’t have to go anywhere and my kids aren’t in a lot of activities yet so instead of being stressful, this season is really sweet. The slow pace of life used to feel so monotonous but I think I have gotten used to it for now. I am no longer surprised by the fact that everything is the same, day after day… after day… after day. And I always remember that these years will be gone before I know it and I will be missing our simple schedule big time!

If you are an on-the-go-mama, please don’t feel guilty! I really think if I had the option available I would still be that way. But if you are considering trying to stay home more, I can say the benefits for us have been saving money, less temper tantrums, and a slower pace of life that has helped me enjoy my kids far more than I did a few years ago.

Don’t get me wrong— I cannot WAIT for the day that I shlep my yelling big kids around in a minivan, eat meals on the run, and sit next to other mamas at practices talking their ears off, but for now it’s me and these little people and all my coping mechanisms— best friends to call all day long, a stash of cupcakes in the freezer, and the coffee maker on constant drip.

*EDITORS NOTE** I almost didn't publish this. I wrote it two days ago. Yesterday was AWFUL. Everything went wrong! I had to add the "ish" to the title of this post! 

These are just a few examples but I think there are seriously hundreds. Don't read if you don't have kids or are pregnant with your first:

Archer dumped 2 boxes of spaghetti on the floor, the thin kind that is impossible to sweep up so you have to pick each piece up with your hands
Emmy and Mack got into my essential oils and I found them vigorously washing eucalyptus off their hands and our whole lower level smells like an Altoid
Emmy cried for 30 minutes because Mack chucked a sippy cup down the hallway and it drilled her in the nose, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because she fell off the table, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because I disciplined her for the oil incident, Emmy cried for 30 minutes because SHE STABBED HERSELF IN THE EYE WITH A TOOTHBRUSH?
Archer spent the morning substituting talking with a super high pitched shriek, prompting me to say: "What fresh hell is this?!" the first time I heard it
Nobody napped (love you, Daylight Savings Time)
Charlie spit up so much on me it soaked through my underwear (of course this happened IMMEDIATELY after I FINALLY got dressed at 2 pm and FINALLY bathed him for the first time in 2 days)
By the time Mike got home at 8pm I silently handed him the baby and went to take a bath with a plate of chicken nuggets (it was the first thing I ate since breakfast) 
I ran out of hot water because I did a dozen loads of the damned laundry
And lastly, as I got out my freezing cold skin started stinging and turning red... because I didn't know they had dumped the oils all over the bathtub too!

and worst of all-- we were all out of desserts/snacks SO I HAD NO WHERE TO TURN BUT GOD

Life Lately

Oh my gosh, they're all napping at once! I don't even know what to do with my hands! I am sitting on the couch wrapped in a blanket, shoving food into my mouth, chugging water, looking out the window at the beautiful day and typing--- all at the same time!

Real Time Photo
I probably have like 4 seconds before someone wakes up but I think about blogging all the time and want to get a few (hundred) words out reallll quick-- and this is also a great excuse for ignoring the MOUNTAIN, I say it again MOUNTAIN of laundry waiting to be folded.

This is like a weekend's worth of clothes
1. So far so good. Thanks for those of you who asked and if we aren't friends on the old FB, Charlie Bennett was born January 31st and is as fat and precious as I had dreamed.

 I wrote a blog post about his birth that will be coming at ya in the next few days... months... years... who knows... Consistency is not my strongest virtue. Sponsorships, anyone?

He is still pretty sleepy so it hasn't been too crazy yet. I mean it is craaaaazy, but I know once he is more wakeful and stimulated it will be a lot harder. Maybe I'll be surprised and we'll breeze through trying to get him on a schedule/teaching him to sleep/figuring out nursing but I keep my mothering expectations low, low, low so probably not.

2. Archer has totally gone rogue on us. He is not as hateful to the baby/me as I feared (Low-Expectation-Ally really thought she wouldn't be able to breastfeed because the child is suffocatingly possessive of his mama!) But he has really gotten the hang of climbing on furniture and standing up for all to see and share his madness with him.

He is scaling the baby gates too, yesterday I was scarfing down some leftover something off of a kids plate, and heard him giggling from our loft-- the stairs are super treacherous so I keep it gated off. Aint nothing too big for Archie to climb!

Not exaggerating: Emmy ate organic eggs scrambled with spinach every day at this age. Archer helps himself to a box of Chicken Biscuits and we call it balanced breakfast

I can't help but laugh when he gets onto the kitchen table. We have a pretty large one so it is constantly 1/4 covered with food, 1/4 covered with crafts, 1/4 covered with random kids stuff that needs to find a home, 1/4 hairbrushes/whatever Archer ran from the bathroom with and I quickly confiscated. Having open concept living is SO overrated! Basically it is just way for ALL your mess to be in one place. I have such a love-hate relationship with it!

Another real time photo. Before kids I said I'd never be one of those moms that had random stuff laying all over her house. LOL

Anyways, Emmy and Mack can usually be found sitting here eating their thousandth snack of the day or drumming up some sort of creative mess genius. Archie has figured out how to shove his little body up on the bench, then climbs on the table. You really would think a gorilla has escaped from the zoo and dropped right into their laps-- that's how dramatic and unnecessary Emmy and Mack react! They start screaming "He's on the table, AHHH, MOM-- He's on the table!!" Desperately collecting their colored pencils/aquabeads/cookies. And Archer really does act like a monkey, he manically laughs and tries to gather as much stuff as he can before I run over with my boob out and Charlie tucked under my arm to take him down before the next instance happens... 5 minutes later...

The sweet child also dumped a bag of rice out on the kitchen floor last week. It was a 1 lb bag. It was full. I made the rookie mistake of taking a phone call, and turned to catch him mid-pour. It was too late for any intervention so I calmly carried on my conversation (I chose that free minute to book Mack's birthday party and couldn't hang up!) and sat in a chair to watch the chaos unfold. Emmy and Mack were delighted and started filling pots and skillets up with rice to throw around the house. It was basically like one big sensory table, finally turning into that Pinterest Mom over here, don't be jealous of all my skills! I will be finding rice smushed into all our baseboards until we move. Yesterday I vacuumed some up in Mack's room which is on the other side of the house.

That same night as the rice-tacular, he fell into the coffee table and needed 4 stitches so that was slightly terrifying. I kept my cool until after we got home from the hospital. Sometimes I feel so discouraged because it seems like we have years of the dangerous phase ahead of us!

Archer seems to have a gently masked aggression towards Baby Charlie, he'll approach him with a soft coo and starts to tickle his feet, next he playfully hits him, followed by some serious jabbing and then tries to violently shake his head.

I am considering buying a fence to put up around Charlie's swing

3. Parenting Emmy and Mack is more challenging, too. I feel like I ask a lot of them right now. They are constantly grabbing me things and picking up. Emmy is even on breakfast duty since I taught her to use the microwave, she gets up before anyone else so she makes oatmeal for her and her little brothers! I don't want to put too much pressure on her so I'll probably just teach her how to roast vegetables and fire up the grill before calling it good.

Kids only know what you show them right? So while other kids' definition of "normal" might be trips to the park, riding their bikes, playing tag with their friends, Emmy and Mack are well versed in the experience of watching mom use her breast pump, protecting their little brother as he learns to use the stairs, and playing "who can collect the most dirty diapers?"

The old married couple holding their little bundle of joy
Photo credit Haverlee Photography

It is hard to make them feel loved with all the attention going to Archer and Charlie (please note our major hospital error in that both little boys share almost 100% of the same letters in each of their names). I am asking God to fill in my parenting gaps, as He already so kindly does, My biggest thing for now is just putting down my phone while nursing, trying to look them in the eyes as they tell me their fantastical little kid stories, and telling them I love them every chance I get! Mike of course is a huge help too, Saturday morning I left them for a few hours and told him not to discipline anyone just to let them run wild and be kids-- which he is totes the king of doing anyways!

4. Errands, no thank you. I tried taking all four babes to Target by myself in a blizzard last week. Whoops. We didn't even make it out of the mini-van before Emmy and Mack announced they had to go to the bathroom. Strike 1 against me.

Strike 2 happened in the bathroom when I was ignoring Archers fussy cries and he got stuck in the infant seat (somehow he twisted his legs into the side) so he started shrieking, cue Charlie screaming. I made the mistake of telling Emmy and Mack (in that moment) that I wanted them to spend the money they had each brought on a craft instead of a toy.

So as we left the bathroom, I already hit Strike 3 as Mack started crying, "But Mommy, I REALLY WANTED A TOY!" So I pushed my cart full of hot mess past Customer Service with three crying children before we had even walked up and down a single aisle. Awesome. Mike called me while I was in the check-out line with 1/10 of my list, everybody staring at me, the babies crying, and the big kids loudly asking me how to pronounce all the names of the candy bars, and I answered, "Hello is this Jesus? Are you coming to help me?!"

Yikes. So that was the last time I've gone anywhere unnecessary with the littles! We did make our big debut at the pediatricians last week for Charlie's 1 month check-up which was also a bit of a ish-show once we found out it'd be a 90 minute wait, bless! But our favorite PA saved the day and took mercy on me, seeing us right away and hiding us in a patient room so I could nurse.

Not pictured: Charlie crying to be fed. Not smelled: Archie has a giant poop

Sooooo we are keeping the caffeine intake highhhhh and strong. I am so glad for social media where I can connect with all of you during an otherwise isolating season! Thanks for all your messages and comments, it spurs me on and reminds me that this is such a refreshing space for me and I am grateful for you all!

This is actually how I nurse 90% of the time

Love them!

Pregnancy Must Haves

I have honestly enjoyed this pregnancy so much! I am not feeling miserable and dying to go into labor like I was with the first three pregnancies, soaking up time with Archer and waiting for all this bad weather to pass us is keeping my mind off all the false labor signs my body throws at me.

Nothing more fun than living in a rural area during an ice storm and finding out you are in the "crippling zone" according to the Weather Channel. The other night I woke up every hour, praying that the interstate was still open as I timed contractions. The bonus feature is if we lose power, we also lose water because our well is electric-- so I kept bathing everyone and washing clothes in anticipation! Thankfully the worst has passed and we made it through unscathed.

Bring it on, ice storm!

If you look past the kids and out the window, you can see how much our street looks like an ice rink

I pulled out all my best Pinterest activities to keep everyone entertained
Anyways, fascinating weather tales aside-- here are four main reasons this has been my favorite pregnancy--

1. I am pretty sure it's my last, so I am trying to soak up even the harder moments like realizing my maternity pants are too tight or falling down in the aisles at Target when I get crazy leg contractions (has anyone else ever had these? I literally drop to the ground they are so intense!)

I actually told Mike to remind me to enjoy this season of life if I complain about not being able to walk, bend over, shave my legs, etc-- then quickly said he better not mention it if I'm cranky and hormonal so to choose his timing wisely. Oddly, he hasn't mentioned it... so that says a lot.

2. It has helped to be busy with the older three, I often forget that I'm pregnant until I walk past a mirror and think, "Oh dear God!"

3. This time I decided to deliver with a midwife instead of an OB-GYN. I could write a whole post on the differences and my personal experience with one compared to the other. I can honestly say I have felt far better this pregnancy and had more support than with the first three, and can attribute that to some of the suggestions my midwife group has made. But perhaps you have a great OB who is making those suggestions too! I am definitely not against OB practices, this was just the right choice for us this go around.

4. We haven't moved! It is amazing how much easier it is to be pregnant when you don't move at 32 or 36 weeks as we did with the last two. So much less stress!

Bump Pic at 36 weeks, I think it has doubled in size the last two weeks thanks to the bag of fun size Snickers Bars and chips I've eaten during our Ice Storm!

These are a few of the things I am loving that have made this a sweet pregnancy for me:

1. Blanqi Tank Top

One of my biggest complaints during pregnancy is Round Ligament pain. During my 2nd pregnancy, it felt unbearable as I was carrying around a one-year-old and I even left my job to become a stay-at-home mom earlier than planned because it got so bad. I finally caved and bought one of these tank tops a month ago and it is amazing!

They are expensive but I can say the support is worth every penny. I wear it a day or two in a row, then throw it in the wash and let it air dry. I know I will love it post-partum too because it is really long, has great chest-coverage and smooths everything out!

*I think it runs true to pre-pregnancy size and wore it in a small even though I typically buy tank tops in a medium because I shrink everything!*

2. Dr. Teal's Epson Salts

These are like my pregnancy life-line! By the end of the day I will feel so achy and tired, after soaking in these for 20 minutes (sometimes it's like an hour) I get out and feel like a new woman. As I've shared before, I am even known to get in the bath during the day while my kiddos wreak havoc around me just because it alleviates so many of my aches and pains.

3. Vitamins

I have never taken much beyond a prenatal and this time I am seeing some major differences and know that these are the real deal! Taking a combination of Vitamin D, Magnesium, and Iron in addition to my prenatal has helped me with postpartum/pregnancy depression, achy legs, and most importantly (to me!) insomnia. I had insomnia terribly with each pregnancy where I would lay awake for 3-4 hour stretches at night. I almost never wake up now, if I do it is just to go to the bathroom and that started two weeks ago versus other pregnancies I was getting up through the night from 20 weeks on.

This combo from Trader Joe's was a huge help during my morning sickness the first 15 weeks

4. Soma Cool Nights Pajamas

Since I am basically an old woman trapped in a thirty-something body, wearing these isn't much of a stretch-- my mom got me hooked on them (much to my hubby's disdain, but hello, comfort > sexy at this point in life). The patterns are a little dated but I LOVE how they feel. Even though we turn our thermostat down to a balmy 63 degrees at night, I still get hot. I like to stay pretty covered so I can jump up and quickly deal with the toddler issues that plague us through the night and these pajamas have been awesome. *Their bras are also my favorite nursing bra. Don't worry, I'll spare you the photo of me in my saucy digs-- the bump photo above made me reach my selfie-capacity for the month!

5. Ginger tea

This has helped me avoid a steady stream of TUMS in the evening hours when heartburn sets in and also helps curb my cravings for all the sweets I have started stockpiling around the house-- because, nursing = so hungry!

6. Ina May's Guide to Childbirth

If this is your first pregnancy, I'd love to share this book with you. It definitely has an emphasis on natural, drug-free childbirth but even if that's not your game plan, I LOVE the positive outlook on labor and delivery shared through dozens of birth stories.

So often our culture makes childbirth out to be an awful, traumatizing event with the woman screaming at her husband and begging everyone she sees for drugs! Although this may have been my experience at least once, I am so grateful for all the stories shared in this book about how beautiful and positive childbirth can be. Reading it before having our daughter prepared me for an amazing and dare I say, peaceful birth experience the first time around!

That's all she wrote for now, please share any of your pregnancy must have's as well so I can build a good list for all my favorite mamas-to-be! And lest you think that I am bragging and pregnancy is nothing but smooooooth sailing, let me share that I've been through the ringer with the following pregnancy symptoms that I did not have the previous 3:

- weird face rash (dermatologist said it's called parietal dermatitis and will *hopefully* go away post-partum)

- lots of new skin tags-- sick out!

- a 3 week go around with mastitis that led into thrush-- even though I'm not nursing yet! Just a fun precursor of what's to come

So I promise it's not easy breezy over here and we're all in the ups and downs of this season together!

What a Difference a Day Makes

I woke up this morning, singing this little tune to myself, because oh my gosh, what a difference a day can make!

Bless the families who have had ongoing sickness this winter, I feel for ya. We stiff-armed the stomach flu for weeks, hiding away in our house in the woods, washing hands constantly, even asking family to stay in a hotel when they had gotten the bug right before visiting us. So extreme! But it attacked in the night, the sick stalker that it is-- and we fell like dominoes last week. Like the warrior woman I am, I held out the longest, eating each meal like it would be my last and got sick a few days ago. Nothing more fun then having the pukes nonstop for 12 hours with a 7-8 lb baby in your belly. Noooothing more fun.

So thanks to lots of Gatorade and like 1,000 mg of Zofran (but seriously, everyone MUST have this wonder drug on hand. It is mostly safe. Ask your doctor, don't listen to anything I say) yesterday was my first day back "on the job" and Hubby merrily went off to work at 6 am with his hot coffee and whatever drive-thru deliciousness he picked up for breakfast while I woke up to three little beggars who wanted to eat everything that we didn't have in the house and fought like wild animals throughout the day.

Here Archie, please dear God let this kleenex box entertain you while Mom lays on the couch.

Mom hack: set a box of Kleenex in front of your toddler, then later have the older kids put it all back in the box calling it a game named-- "Do This Or I Won't Give You Dinner"

Archer is at that get-into-everything find-all-the-dangerous-spots-and-climb-them-nonstop phase. His ambition throughout the day is to move this chair around to leverage his little body on top of chairs/tables or as a launching pad to get inside the kitchen drawers.

"Now I lounge, later I destroy..."

While I was trying to "rest" he brought me 2 pouches of taco marinade, an opened pouch of applesauce, an opened fruit cup (he bites through these with his savage little teeth), each piece of tupperware, and cleaning products from under the kitchen sink-- all within 90 seconds. Don't worry, the cleaning products prompted me to shoot up and bind all the cabinets shut with rubber bands.

I did manage a little rest in the bathtub for 45 minutes during his morning nap where I laid with my eyes shut surrounded by bubbles with my side-kick Mack sitting next to me throwing toys in the tub "just checking to see if they float, mom" and asking me non-stop questions about hockey and the female anatomy. Awesome.

And then nobody napped in the afternoon, because I wanted it too much-- and it seems like they only stay in their beds these days when their dad puts them down which he did for two straight weeks when he had his time off. "Back to the previous scheduled programming, Mom!" Their little cries for water and complaints that their rooms were simultaneously "too dark" and "too bright" kept me away from a cozy bed and the hope of 25 minutes of uninterrupted Netflix.

One of the highlights of my day came with a knock at the front door at 4 o'clock from my BFF the UPS man (funny story about that: he really is our friend because many days he is the only other adult I converse with so I chat him up non-stop until he starts backing away and I know my time is up. For Christmas we bought him this lovely container of Macadamia Nut Caramel Corn and it sat on our counter for a week before I could catch him at the door. The kids ADORE him and call him "their buddy" and will run outside in their skivvies to say hello and give him a high-five each day so they decorated a card and helped me wrap the popcorn. Well, a week is a loooong time for a pregnant woman to have fancy, unopened popcorn sitting on her countertop. So I gave in, ate half the container in one standing after a particularly bad morning, and swapped out the note and bow for a box of fancy cookies. That same afternoon, I heard the side door open and when I went to see which kid was escaping, I saw Emmy standing at the door with a package, waving good-bye to our beloved UPS man who was getting in his truck. With a container of half-eaten popcorn! I chased him down with his cookies and couldn't stop laughing about it when he told me that Emmy insisted that this popcorn was for him, even though he could clearly see it was almost gone!) Since the front of our house is windows and that means if there is a knock at the door, it is very hard to hide-- I had to answer wearing my post-sick outfit, which all the mamas know is a ridiculous assortment of stained sweats, no bra, and in my case, as I realized after I signed for the package and quickly bid him adieu, a dozen pieces of popcorn (it's a thing) all down the inside of my shirt.

Next came dinner time where I attempted a meatloaf and homemade rice pilaf-ish-dish and halfway through cooking I felt so tired and frustrated that I sat down at my computer and ordered an instapot (have you heard all the rage?!) and am hoping that it also comes with a person to cook the meals and clean my house. And cheer me up because I started to feel REAL bleak about this day.

So definitely by 6:00 pm, when I called hubby to see when he if he was almost home only to learn that it would be an hour or more, the tears started flowing. Gosh it is hard, people! I know I'm not the only one and maybe yesterday was your first Monday back to normalcy after Holiday break too. Or maybe your little one has started throwing tantrums and you fear this is your "new normal." Or maybe everyone is still acting spoiled or doesn't have a sleep schedule post Christmas crazies. Or maybe the New Year isn't looking any better than the last so you're freaking the freak out and trying to find some kind of hope to grasp on to.

To get through the rest of the evening, I rushed my little people to bed without baths, clinging to the promise of the Bachelor being on tv, abandoned the kitchen cleanup, and YET AGAIN laid on the couch only to look into the face of my adorable offspring 4, 5, 6, 7, at least 8 more times as they came to me with their complaints of belly aches (probably valid, the meatloaf looked a little iffy) a finger that "hurt from the inside," inability to regulate their body temperatures: "I'm too hot" (put on your summer jammies) "I'm too cold" (get a damn blanket), the fakest cough you've ever heard, and finally the breaking point was Mack telling me his knife wasn't sharp enough to fight the dragons that get into his room at night (um, where is this knife?)

Mack showing his concern for sick Mama

At this point, the hubby came home, tamed the children, cleaned the kitchen because he knew I was a woman on the edge-- and he really loves me, and we watched the super slutty episode of the Bachelor until he realized the National Championship game was on, jumped up, yelling at me that he had to watch two teams that he cares nothing about RIGHT AWAY.

As I fell asleep last night, googling "how to be a good mom," I vented all my fears to Mike about my inadequacies and impatience and loneliness and inability to do it all. I told him I felt so guilty because what was the point of having all these kids when all I wanted all day was to be left alone! And we're having another one! Any day now!

He reminded me that a. I had the stomach flu 24 hours ago, of course it was a bad day b. it would be better tomorrow c. I am a great mom d. Our kids are well loved e. God's grace will give me what I need, when I need it

SO if you don't have a Mike, I hope you have a GREAT friend/sister/mama who can talk you off the ledge of mom-guilt when the days are long and the minutes are FOREVER. And just to remind you...

It will be better tomorrow (and if it's worse, let's put our hope in next week)

You are a great Mom

Your kids are loved

God's grace will give you what you need, when you need it.

Exhibit A: This morning I woke up confused at 8 am wondering why nobody had came in my room yet asking me to look at their poop in the toilet or feed them jello for breakfast-- only to find three fed children, coffee brewed, and time for a quick shower before the interstate opened back up and Mike could go to work. Alleluia, God sent an ice storm! I feel like a new woman today even though I've got the same things as yesterday on my to-do list-- my to-do-list exclusively reads: "keep children alive", and nothing else, fyi. I am reminded that sometimes, you can't save the day. There is no fun activity for the kids, no vacation to plan (does anyone else obsess over this?!), nothing fun to order online (I mean you can try, but it doesn't always help-- let's see how much joy the instapot can bring us), no fancy popcorn to hide in a closet and eat, you are just stuck. And on the really bad days, sometimes the best thing is realizing at 10 pm you can go to bed and start it all over again tomorrow. Womp, womp...

As I've been ending my recent posts, here's another great memo to cling to, from a fav hymn:

"Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord God unto Me...
Strength for today, Bright Hope for tomorrow...
Blessings all mine, with 10,000 beside!"

Christmas Promises and New Year Fears...

Welp, thanks to my favorite letter board and some lingering (ahem, the whole tree) Christmas decorations, I'm still singing Christmas carols over here...

Every year all the Christmas hymns make me cry, cry, cry. This past December was the same yet a little different as I really am clinging to the promise that lays beneath these words:

For me, the past year has been an intense struggle. I really battled for my joy. Ending the year, I can look back and say that I chose well and won that battle but looking up ahead to 2017, there is a great deal of fear because in my little world the war isn't quite over.

As I have processed through my feelings and emotions the last few months, most of my fears hover and circle around bringing a newborn to our home this January. I don't think I have to defend my love for my children-- and postpartum depression is certainly by NO MEANS an absence of love.

I adore each of my littles and truly love being their mother. For me, along with that intense bond and love, there are some shadows that follow the joy of a new birth. Shadows that have been amplified by the isolation and loneliness where we live. Raising toddlers and babies can give mamas a "groundhog day affect" and the fear of another year, waking up each day to a rhythm I cannot find the beat to-- at times gives me great anxiety. A sense of being trapped and suffocated by the extraordinary needs yet ordinary moments that each day and each child lays before me.

Thankfully, and there will always be this transition for me-- in my words and in my thoughts-- THANKFULLY, there is a great hope that keeps me from being pinned down by all my fears.

It doesn't matter much that it's a new year, each morning, I choose hope. Yes, I am totally loving the cluttered down house, the fresh pages in my planner, and the quiet whispers that GOOD THINGS are on our horizons. But if it wasn't newly 2017 I would be fighting for hope anyways because that's what I am choosing to do.

Last month I listened to a podcast where Jo Saxton talked about digging in deep to prepare for harder seasons of life. I keep almost missing this. I definitely missed it in December where I clung to my kids' paper Christmas lists, ambitious holiday traditions, over the top meal plans, and an endless stream of beloved houseguests to lay before me a foundation of joy. False! They were temporary joys. In every way, the food, the lists, the packages, the people-- are all gone. The Christmas cookies are very much gone-- all 5 dozen... that I ate by myself... in less than a week. The packages we'll keep coming thanks to my love for Amazon Prime and ordering things at 2 am like when I realized on Monday that I am 36 weeks pregnant and have no newborn diapers in the house!

The lasting joy is always Christ and the promise of Christmas tells me that He comes, He stays, and best of all-- He makes all things new, even this tired mama's heart.

Digging in deep looks for me like getting up a few minutes before my kiddos (only to have us still be the last ones to arrive at preschool!), clinging to promises in Scripture, talking to dear friends who know and love me, asking my husband for help in the kindest ways I can muster, and embracing in the last few weeks of a very sweet pregnancy.

If 2017 looks like it may hold some hard seasons and transitions for you as well, trust that the one who calls you will speak tenderly to you there.

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland."-Isaiah 43:19

"Therefore, look! I will now allure her. I will make her go out to the wilderness, and will speak to her heart." -Hosea 2:14

He is good, all the time. 

"And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold! I am making all things new.' Also he said, 'Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.'-Revelation 21:5

01 09 10 11 12
Blogging tips