You Know You Be Livin' in the Country If...

We have been "enjoying" our isolation from civilization for the last year. A lot of these observations about country life might seem dramatic, but keep in mind I have never lived in a city that had less than 200,000 people. We had a brief stint in Pella, Iowa but that place is kind of like a small-town dreamland. Picture: windmills, a perfectly manicured square, it is illegal to mow your grass on Sundays (noise violation!), and it is pretty much out of the movie Pleasantville --in a good way, because we are BASIC and like stuff like that.

Now we are legit rural people, our town is less than 3,000 and that is big compared to the surrounding ones. The main struggle is we are missing the BIG THREE, my requirements for all the joys and happiness:

1. Coffee Shop
2. Target with a coffee shop
3. Mexican food

There is a lot to love about the town we're in. The people are wonderful, and it really is scenic as we're in the Loess Hills, which is this cool area where the dirt has settled into these beautiful hills.
Country rooooooad, Take me hoooooome
Being a new country gal, here are a few ways to know if you live in the country:
  • It constantly seems like the woods are trying to take over your house.
Can you spot the Mike doing his weekly sweep of leaves and cobwebs off the roof?

My funny husband told me the other day that it reminds him of a documentary he watched of Chernobyl (and I am wondering when the heck was that because I have only seen you watch the fishing channel and weirdo hunting dvd's where all the grown men WHISPER). He said once the town was abandoned, trees started growing through the middle of buildings. We are days away from that here.

This is our backyard "garden" just a few feet from our house. I love the view from my family room windows of the poison ivy and poison oak vines drooping down, really gives it that something special. 

After hearing my complaints, last weekend Mike started hacking at all the poison vines with the electric weedeater, sending poison ivy blowing through the air like a dust storm while the kids and I played on the patio. This is real life people. I was yelling at him and stomping my feet, per usual, but he couldn't hear me over the motor. I rushed the kids inside before they inhaled poisonous dust particles and ruined their lungs forever. Terrified by my panicked yells at their father, they were crying and asking me why daddy was being so naughty!

His response? "Well, I'm not allergic to it." It really is every man for himself out here. Wild west I tell ya.

  • You call the previous homeowners to ask them where the trash cans are and they laugh at you, saying, "Oh honey, you gotta go down to the Walmart and buy those yourself!"

"So who comes and picks up the trash?" A valid question from the suburbanite.

"You've got to hire somebody to do it, there are some local guys in town that have a truck."

City girl be like whaaaat?

Also there is no recycling pick-up out here which makes me super sad-- we have an entire closet dedicated to cardboard and plastic. Which fills up until my hubby gets frustrated and drives it to the "Recycling Center" in town (aka a blue dumpster)

Turn left down a dirt road and you see these happy neighbors!

This was my favorite view every morning on the way to preschool, there are 3 white horses the kids and I love to watch
  • You tell your husband you think you hear "a" bat in the garage and he gleefully informs you that there is a very large BAT FLOCK taking up residence in your garage to nap between sunrise and sunset. "But they're so great at getting rid of mosquitoes!" he says. Your kids become proficient at bat noises.

They like to screech at me when I take out the trash.
  • You can pee off the front porch and none of your neighbors can see you (3 out of 4 members of my household have done this. I'll leave you guessing on who). 

This also applies to getting to wear your leopard-print-bathrobe when you go get the mail. Cars do pass by our house often on their way to town, but thankfully we can hear them coming and I have time to make a mad dash for coverage. Due to my slow, postpartum sluggish run (go too fast and I'll start to pee), I've been caught twice. 

  • The closest Target and grocery store are 30 miles away so every time you go, you stock up like it is the APOCALYPSE. You also can almost never buy ice cream (too far) and have to put all your perishables in the cooler you keep in your trunk!
This little guy was attracted to my dust-free baseboards
  • When you talk to people in town, your neighborhood is referred to as "out in the..." as, "oh, you live out in the dips?" Extra bonus if people call where you live the "dips" because then you're just cool. 
    In the winter, there were 8-10 deer that came through our front yard every night to eat all my dead weeds
  • Everyone knows where you live, even if you haven't met them yet. This happens every time I call someone for a repair, because also, #countrylife there are lots. 3 weeks ago it was the AC/Furnace, last week it was the water softener, this week our underground septic tank "smells funny." Each time I find the listing, call, and before I even give out my neighborhood or address the serviceman says, "Yep, I know where you live. I drive by your house all the time." Oh thank you. That does not make me feel any more secure living in the middle of nowhere with no visible neighbors. It took me only one month of living out here to get us a legit security system! 

Visiting our cousins' chickens: Luvie, Dylan, and Chickaletta
  • Stray cats. Rosie is our 5th. Don't ask me about cats one through four, emotions. Every time a new one showed up, I posted on our town's swap page advertising the missing cat that turned up at my back door, solidifying my status as weird new girl in town who didn't understand the feral cat system. Then I realized all the cats are ownerless, there is a nomad pack that prowl the woods roaming from house to house until they're picked off by coyotes, bobcats, or mountain lions (oh, my). This made me second guess Emmy's love to treat the cats like babies and push them in her doll stroller. But then I forgot to warn her about fleas and cat scratch and let the play continue. 
RIP Huck and Sawyer

Rosie was afraid of us her first few days here and sat on this rafter. Mack was terrified and we had to run to our car with our hands over our heads for a week #notcatpeople #dontpooponme

I was afraid of her because I couldn't tell if she had a black nose or was missing half of her face #catfight #literally
Feeling at home now and soaking up the afternoon sun in our flower garden
For real I am grateful for our home and this experience. I would love to see our kids grow up in a small town! The first night we slept in this house, I felt so loved by God who provided this home for us. I love seeing the fireflies light up the woods at night and hear the train whistles echo through town. The verse Psalm 18:18 comes to my mind a lot: "The Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." The slower pace here and getting to see my husband everyday has been so healing for my marriage and redeeming for my crazy parenting methods. Except in the winter. Then shit really hits the fan and as mentioned previously, I for real feel like I'm in the book The Shining. 

A Day in the Life: Ally Edition

One of my favorite bloggers does this every few months, I love it! Except she lives in a beautiful town in Texas, has a pool, drives around in her golf cart, and is all around a whole lot fancier than us out here in Western Iowa.

I had the WORST day with my kids yesterday, seriously I was having flashbacks to when Archer was a new baby and we were all feelin' the stress. Everyone whined the whole morning, including mom, nothing got done, I felt like I was walking in circles all day, and I swear I gave out a dozen bandaids because we were all tired and crashing into things. So I thought it'd be fun to start fresh this morning, and document a "day in the life." It might appear from this post that all I did today was sleep in, take my kids to the park and out to lunch, but try to read between the lines!

4:25 am-- Hubby wakes me up because he can't find clean jeans. Since this is my area of jurisdiction, so many choice words to say about that, I stumbled into the laundry room (aka Archie's closet) and needed to be the one to get the pants since I am WAY stealthier than he is. That man wakes up all the babies in the mornings as he looks for a granola bar. SO. LOUD.

4:30-5:30 am-- it is storming and I can't fall back asleep! Scrolled through social media for an hour, that's a fancy way of saying I looked at people's pictures on Facebook. I think I was still having adrenaline from the stress of watching the Bachelorette finale! #teamrobbie

8:00 am-- Mack crawls in my bed and makes me move over so he can have my "warm spot"

(please don't judge, we are SO lazy. My kiddos have learned to sleep late because it helps ward off the hunger pains they have when nobody is getting out of bed to get them breakfast. I'll learn to be a grown-up again when Emmy and Mack go to school in the fall. We will reform, I promise! Also Archie is finally sleeping all night so I'm celebrating with late mornings! I sure did put my time in with through-the-night wake-ups the first 8 months!) 

8:20 am-- Emmy comes in my room. She is always fully dressed when she comes upstairs and it is never seasonally appropriate. Our high today was 97 so of course she chose leggings and a ill-fitted sweater. 

8:30 am-- Archie awake and trying to stand up. Time to be a contributing member to society.
His pajamas are an indicator of how cold our house is at night, I hate to be hot while sleeping!
8:40-- Feed Archie bottle, put in a load of laundry, unload dishwasher from last night, give the kids breakfast (always an almond butter bar and greek yogurt), make my own breakfast, and since I didn't clean up last night walk around picking up garbage (it's an issue) and stray toys!
I eat the same thing every day! Half a gluten-free English Muffin w/peanut butter
9:00-- Make coffee. Clap hands! 
This is what we're working with today. Mascara from Sunday (it's Tuesday), hair last washed Friday.
9:05-- Emmy "babysits" so I can take a quick shower and shave my legs.

9:12-- Microwave cup of coffee. 

9:30-- Put Archie down for nap. He says no. Cries in crib. Get Archie back up and hope he naps in the car while we're out later.

9:37-- Microwave coffee.

9:45-- Ask Emmy why her hair is wet. Touch hair. It is not wet. It is greasy. Emmy put a whole tube of steroid eczema cream all over body and wiped the remnants in her hair "like she sees Mommy do." Mommy never does this. Call doctor. Call poison control. Bathe Emmy. 

9:52-- Microwave coffee. 

10:25-- Put coffee in to-go cup and wrap the breakfast I never finished in a paper towel to bring in the car. 

10:30 am-- our cousins meet us to drive into Omaha and try a new splash pad

I love these kids and I especially love their mama! They live 10 miles up the road, which is the reason we chose the town we live in. She is hilarious and full of energy, our kids play great together, and our husbands are so similar (they are first cousins) we have lots to bond over and she is one of my favorite things about this season of life. 

11:30-- We got lost, it was quite the journey, so by the time we made it to the actual splash area we were starving and needed a Diet Coke. Stayed at park 15 minutes. Off to the Old Market (a shopping and restaurant district in Omaha) to eat at Spaghetti Works
The girls + Archie eating his bread! So much cheaper than 'puffs,' he loves it!
A sign of a meal enjoyed, who remembers these days crawling under restaurant tables picking up chunks of food?! The best part is I always forget I have a tattoo on my "lower back" that hangs out when I do this and Mike loves to remind me about my tramp stamp
1:45-- Back home, during our 30 minute drive Archie fell asleep even though the kids were yelling and singing trying to keep him up! 

2 pm-- Made dinner while everyone ran around yelling and asking for snacks (um, we just went out to eat!) I LOVE prepping dinner early in the afternoon so I don't have to do it at night. I do this as often as possible, the 5-7pm time slot is so hard for me because I can't drink caffeine that time of day and everyone is starting to freak the freak out. If I have dinner ready to bake/in the crockpot, it makes that time slot easier and I can finish picking up the house or sit and rest for a bit. 

2:30 pm-- everyone off to bed! Archie helped me tuck in Emmy and Mack, then he went back to sleep as well. 

2:45-- Mama settles in her own bed with a book, her computer, and a huge sugar cookie (I made my own icing which is basically whipped butter and some confectioners sugar) Whenever I rest during nap time (which is every, single, day) I hear my mom's voice saying, "When you guys were little, I never sat down during nap time. I always used that time to work and get things done." Good for you, Mom! So sorry to depart from the ancient family tradition of productivity. **But note, my mom is the least judgmental person ever, she just made this comment responding to my complaints that I never get enough done during the day! 

I'm reading At the Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier (she wrote Girl with the Pearl Earring) and it's really interesting! A historical fiction novel NOT about WWII. Last week on vacation I read The Improbability of Love, it was SO, SO good. I highly recommend it! 

3:45-- Emmy comes in my room. I work on the computer while she lays next to me and uses my phone. I finally caved and bought an app they can use, it is called "Jellytelly" they love it! It is faith based tv shows like Veggietales, the cartoon version of my favorite kids' book: The Jesus Storybook Bible, and a whole bunch of other riffraff like a pig that sings Bible Songs and a sitcom called Davey and Goliath.

K, so Archie is not a good napper but today he napped until 5! I for real laid in bed this whole time. Mack got up around 4:45. But since I already had dinner made, and this NEVER happens, I enjoyed just snuggling with my kiddos and relaxing. Since today I was doing the "day in the life" I considered doing something productive to blog about how awesome I am, but I'm not! Just a normal mama who loves a good break when it comes her way. 

5:15-6:15-- a blur of an hour, playing our favorite game "Mom! HOW LONG UNTIL DINNER IS READY?" To which I answer every 2 minutes, making up different countdowns-- because they can't tell time at all!  
Playing outside while Mom finishes dinner 
Emmy feeds her cat, Rosie, who has been with us the longest! She's our 5th stray cat this year, whatever.

My lovies eating dinner and complaining about all the parts they don't like! 
6:15-- Emmy and Mack shower while Archie crawls around putting every single thing in his mouth and partaking in his favorite snack, shoes

6:30-- Post Bath Dance Party, we love Disney Pandora! 

6:45-- Mom cleans the kitchen floors with Archie's help (he eats all the crumbs)

6:57-- DADDY IS HOME!! This is early for him this time of year, usually I put the wee ones to bed before he gets in but we are so excited to see him!!

Archie can't get enough of his "Dada," whenever he hears his voice, he crawls towards him as fast as he can

7:05 pm-- Mom calms everyone down with a book on the couch

 7:10 pm-- Daddy gets everyone riled up by doing push-ups with the kids and throwing them in the air
Not a photo blur, he does not have his teeth in right now

Also missing some teeth
7:15 pm-- Mike puts the kids to bed (even though it sounds like they're wrestling wild bears downstairs) and Mama has her favorite evening snack

 7:30 pm-- Time for our guilty pleasure, Bachelor in Paradise! Love it! So trashy, so much drama, we are new Bachelor fans and can't get enough of this silliness

9:45 pm-- Time for bed for this Mama, sleeping in the same clothes I wore all day, this will make getting ready tomorrow morning much easier 

I will be doing this again, I love being able to capture these memories. I know someday I'll miss the ordinariness of being home and raising these sweet littles. 

Not pictured: My kids asking for snacks 100 times a day, and me giving them snacks 75 times today then wondering why they didn't eat their dinner.

I picked up clothes off the floor for hours, you may notice in these pictures that Emmy has 4 outfit changes and for some reason, Mack likes to put on new underwear each time he poops on the potty (I should probably ask him why).

Also, my kids do not stop talking, ever. It is a joke within my extended family as well, they just follow any and everyone around all day narrating themselves, asking questions, begging for food, attention, and partakers in their fantastical adventures (as I write this they are playing Barber Shop with a container of Dental Floss).  They also talk extremely loudly, multiple friends have noted I should get their hearing checked.

I broke up over a dozen fights, one of which involved Mack sitting on his sister accusing her of stealing from his "Gas Station" which is a weird make-believe game they play where they pretend to pick out snacks at the Quick 'n Fuel. Reminding me that my kids don't need a vacation to Disney World, we just need to give them more excitement than weekly trips to the truck stop.

The Learning Curve

My Mom came to visit me my SOPHOMORE year of college, 2nd semester. She was being a sweetie and offered to do my laundry. After getting started, she came into where I was studying and said, "Honey, where is your laundry detergent?" To which I rolled my eyes and replied, "That's it right there, in your hand!"
"Um, no. This is fabric softener," said All-Knowing-Mama.
I had been washing my clothes for a loooooong time using fabric softener.

Blonde, blonde, blonde. 

I bet some of you have made mistakes like this in your domestic career, but for me, this is totally an indicator of my life in general

These last four years, I have so, SO struggled to figure out how to actually be a stay-at-home mom. 

Now let's be clear, it's totally different for each person, everyone has their methods, and a different priority list. But there definitely are a few things we all are challenged with daily. THE laundry. Cooking/Preparing meals. Some degree of housework. Making and keeping a schedule. Parenting children. Working on our marriage. I count myself lucky to share these duties with my hubby (even though "a few" of these things cause us to argue, a lot!) I would say though absolutely nothing on this list comes natural to me, arises out of any kind of gifting, or is something I would chose to do in my free time. Most of them I am looking at my head and wondering, why did I not go to college for any of THIS?!

Most of my life revolves around things that I am not good at, and am not well-trained in. I love my mom so much but I almost never listened to her growing up (I was the stubborn, slightly rebellious child) and any lessons on "adulting" she tried to give me went in one ear and out the other,

Needless to say, my first few years staying home were confusingly miserable. 

I thought I would love not going to work every day-- I can totally relate to the author of Meternity-- it looked like moms had it so much easier than everyone else! But instead, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of things there were to do in my home. Rather than dealing with any of it, the kids and I would leave! Every day! As soon as I could get them dressed and out the door, we busied ourselves with attending Bible Studies, playdates, library story times, running errands, then to return home for a nap, wake up mid-afternoon and go out to do the same again! Most days we had 2-3 set plans. It was serious madness. I ran those little ones ragged. I started blogging and ran an in home business. It took me over a year to figure out I was making myself and them miserable. That year (it was when Emmy was 2 and Mack was 1) my husband worked out of town so I would rush to clean the house Friday afternoon before he came home. I usually didn't finish in time, and would spend the rest of the weekend frustrated with everyone for not pulling their weight (umm, he was on the road 90% of the time and my children were totally incapable!).

Faithful readers who have been with me since my blog beginnings, all 4 of you, might remember this post where I documented how I dressed my kids in their clothes for the next day, the night before. This was that season of life! 

Unless you were taught how to run a home (and were receptive to it!), a lot of us can feel lost these first few years of motherhood. God bless the working mamas. I'm sorry but this post barely applies to you because you have less fluid time than the rest of us, I don't know how you do it and I send you all the love and hugs! 

If you stay at home with your child or children, these are some things that have helped me grow into my role. I would have told you two years ago that I hated being a stay-at-home mom, that I loved my kids to death, but every chance I had to work outside the home I took it. I went to several job interviews but each time, God made it clear (um, I never got the job) that home is where I'm called for now. I just couldn't stand the fact that I spent my whole day doing things I wasn't good at-- especially after having gone to grad school and had a career that was deeply satisfying. Oh the self-righteousness-- thankfully the people in my life have been patient with me.

1. Ask the other mama's.

I had one friend who asked everyone she knew what their laundry system was. It cracked me up. I didn't get what the big deal was (I had one kid at the time, and my laundry method was "buy more underwear"). Every time we were at a Bible study, or having a group play date, there she was again asking everyone how they tackle all them dirty clothes. But you know what, now I think back to all those girls' answers and apply their ideas myself.

I really learned most of what I know from watching and asking my friends. When we had Emmy, we were in a great community of young families and there were a few women that I leeched myself onto. I loved being in their homes, listening to them talk to their kids and husbands, and gleaning the advice they offered. I also attached myself (such a parasite!) to some older women who had already raised their kids. I loved hearing their wisdom and perspective on God, family, and marriage and my early days parenting were truly blessed by their influence (and offers to baby-sit).
My dearest friend Susan visiting us and loving on my kids

2. Be Honest with your Struggles

The best thing I did for my other mama relationships was read the book Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Melton Doyle. I don't agree with everything she says theologically, but how boring is that to only read people you agree with! Glennon truly taught me how to be vulnerable in my relationships.
Having a total fan-girl moment meeting Glennon at the Storyline Conference!
Nothing has given me greater depth in my friendships than learning how to tell people when I'm struggling, and to be honest about my ACTUAL LIFE, not just the one I want people to see on the outside or on social media (barf!)

Life is lonely enough. I got to a point where I couldn't bear one more playdate or conversation with a girlfriend where I pretended like I was doing great and loving life when in reality I was feeling super overwhelmed by my two young children, isolated and friendless in a new town, probably experiencing postpartum depression, and had some legit struggles in my marriage. I am so thankful for the friendships that came my way when I started sharing who I really was and the hurt I was experiencing. I couldn't believe how many other women felt the same way I did-- here I had been so in the dark thinking everyone else's life was perfect except for mine! There really isn't room in my life anymore for surface relationships because the deep ones I have are much better! (And more time consuming, all that drama being shared!) 

3. Trial and Error

Thankfully, we have figured out several things that work for our family. I am actually now glad(ish) for those long, hard days where I felt lost and clueless because they pushed me to get sick of the chaos and find some structure that works for us. Mostly I would hire literally everything out, from cleaning my house, to having the laundry done, and even get a sitter a few times a week. We do get our house cleaned before we have company come (almost once a month), and I do get a sitter when I'm feeling a little cray or need to go to the post office (worst. errand. ever) but mostly I try to do things myself. The real sanity killer is that we don't have places in our town to get food delivery or take-out so that is my biggest hurdle to conquer right now (first world problems). Here are a few things that have helped us!

- Meal plan, meal plan, meal plan. I would rather chew my arm off than take 3 kids to the grocery store more than once a week. We eat out on weekends and for lunch if we're out during the week.

-Wash and dry a load of laundry every day. This is wacko but I don't fold any of it until Friday because I just can't even. So all the clean laundry builds up in baskets and then Friday, I sit and the kids help me and we fold and put it all away in one swoop.

-Only go two places a day. This is a hard and fast rule. Gosh if we try to go more than 2 places a day everybody suffers! So it's typically, Target + the dr.'s office, Target + fast food, Target + the gym, Target + the pool... you get the idea.

- Have the kids help you. Mine empty the dishwasher and put away their laundry now. They are also responsible for picking up their toys, making their beds, clearing off the table after each meal, and putting all their dirty laundry in the laundry room. In theory people, all in theory...

-I have 2 nights a week where I do not care. I do not even care one bit if there are dirty dishes in the sink and a diaper on the floor. Whatever about the hundred socks laying everywhere from next to the TV to beside the toilet. I make no apologies about the crafts all over the table and the toys laying around the front lawn. Honestly, this sucks the next morning when I wake up (I am energized when I wake up to a clean house!) but it is helpful during this season of life to literally let myself off the hook and say, "Okay, today it looks bad, real bad, but now is time for snacking and Netflix, we will deal with this tomorrowish."

-Ask for help- Most nights my hubby gets home after the kids are in bed but I love to bombard him with hugs, kisses, dinner, and a few requests. Since it's summer and his hours are longer, it's usually just one request and none if he walks in looking like he's been in the coal mines all day.
This is "Summer Mike" not to be confused with his chubbier, paler version "Winter Mike" outdoor work can really take a toll!
We are big on the philosophy that this is OUR home, OUR kids, OUR mess, that his job is OUR provision and we seek to lighten each other's load whenever possible (again, totally in theory!) After really struggling through this area, --gosh, a whole entire blog post-- every day for a year could be written on this-- a friend told me her husband asks what she needs every night when he gets home. Because it's always different! *He did not come up with this on his own, it came upon him via a counselor! Not that our husbands are incapable idiots but some are just in more need of suggestions than others.*  So before he settles in and relaxes after his long day, he puts the toddler to bed, does the dishes, folds a load of laundry, whatever the need of the hour is. Mike keeps forgetting that this is our new arrangement but don't worry, I remind him!

4. Learn your Kids

I thought that keeping my kids in the house was like prepping all day for a cage fight. I also thought I would actually die, and pictured myself miserably walking from room to room looking comatose, folding and dusting things as I went. False! My kids love it. They are truly happiest when we are not busy or rushing. I used to be able to only stay home one day at a time. The next day we would need an activity on the calendar. Now I can stay home for days on ends, actually never leaving the house. We save money on gas and our neighbors worry about us so much! We are like zombies running around the yard in pajamas (I still have on my swimsuit from yesterday under my clothes) and very rarely bathe. But my kids really do love being home, even if they get a little feisty, and it gives me a bigger margin to sit and spend time with them, being a more engaged mom.
Staying home all day can lead to cute, impromptu moments like this one! My mini-me!
A book that has really helped me connect with my kiddo's (I'm 100% sure I've mentioned this before) is the Love Languages for Kids. I know that if I have 10 minutes, Emmy needs to have me do a craft with her (quality time) and Mack needs to sit on my lap (physical touch). Archer's emotional needs go widely unmet during this season but I make up for it with a ridiculously long bedtime routine where we sit forehead-to-forehead for 20 minutes plus, giggling and staring into each other's eyes. Because, Archie!

5. Learn yourself

I am so much more productive in the mornings! If I keep moving once I wake up (no easy task! this actually happens about once every 2-3 weeks!) and go straight from the bed to unload the dishwasher, start a load of laundry, and brush my teeth, all before sitting down and checking my e-mail or watching the Today Show, the trajectory of my day is entirely more productive. I learned this one from other mamas, and Freshman Physics-- it's Newton's Law of Motion, people.  

I also am a people pleaser 101 so 'ish gets real the last hour of the day before the hubby gets home. He has a long commute so as soon as I hear from him, I see the house through HIS eyes and think to myself, omg he will walk in and call 9-1-1 if he doesn't hear us right away because it looks like this house has been ransacked by a mob of vandals! I spend that last hour cleaning up our two main rooms-- open concept living, so hot right now, can make your entire house look like a disaster or a photoshoot for Better Home & Gardens depending on if that eating/living area is clean or not! Clean this area, and call it good for the day!

6. Grace, grace, grace

There are some seasons of life that are super hard and you are going to fail way more than you succeed in managing your personal, domestic, and family life. This comes from Miss-Moves-A-Lot. Times of transition are hard. Duh. Also, I really struggle postpartum so I am constantly walking around and telling myself, "You just had a baby. It will not be like this forever. This is just a season." I am constantly seeking grace and the daily reminder that my worth is not defined by how my kids act, what my home looks like, and how many things I get done in a day. 

Thankfully I have had a glimpse of how things get easier as your kids get older, when Emmy and Mack were 2 and 3, we had a golden six months where I had energy, slept through the night, and felt like I could keep up with the house before we got pregnant again and hit a big ole' RESET on the whole system. But God gives me reminders every day how sweet this season is and how quickly it is passing me by. 

On days where I am in my head and being too hard on myself, I will call another mama to vent and hear that empathetic "me too,"remembering I'm not alone. My husband can be super affirming in this area (when he is not complaining that the handles on all our appliances are "disgusting") and if I tell him I am feeling discouraged, he is quick to offer me grace as well. 

The best giver of Grace is Jesus Himself who tells us: "'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me." 2 Corinthians 12:9 

SO glad that I can follow a God who not only reminds me I am not SUPPOSED to be perfect, that rather I am to boast in being weak so I can seek all the strength he has to give.

Cheers for a more hopeful week to all and may we not hope in perfectly clean counters or well-entertained kids! Or just look to this e-card for some healthy inspiration:

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