Category: confessions (page 1 of 10)

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist.

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There are probably worse things to wake up to than a cat peeing right beside your face, but right now I can’t think of too many. When your day starts out like that it’s a sure sign that it is going to be a doozy.

And, yesterday did not fail to live up to that standard. In fact, considering the fact that my day ended with a snarky nastygram from an anonymous neighbor demanding that I “mow the grass and edge the lawn!” I think I can safely say that the cat pee on my head might have been the least jarring part of the day.

It’s not like anything catastrophic really happened yesterday. It was mostly life stuff. But some days you seem have two weeks of life stuffed into 12 hours and it is exhausting. Some days it just feels like I will never catch up. Never add up. Never measure up.

Life is like that right now. Holding up all the expectations of all the people in all of the areas of my life has been a real job. But this past weekend, thanks to some amazing family friends, Thomas and I got a mini break from that job. We dropped our kids off Friday evening and picked them up Sunday afternoon and took off to be tourists in our own city. It was a much welcome break from our responsibilities.

It’s funny what happens when you have a break from the constant chaos of kids. We got to talk and sleep and eat meals without having anyone climb on us or spill anything and it was pretty wonderful. It’s amazing, though, how much you get to think when you are without kids for a few days. I thought a lot about what our future holds as a family. What my future holds outside of my kids.

Most days it is impossible to believe that this stage of my life isn’t forever. I can’t imagine a house that isn’t a constant mess. I can’t picture not having to clean up a broken dish or toy or collectible once a day. I can’t imagine having a moment without the din of kids running, playing, arguing, laughing, crying. It seems a hundred years away.

One of the things that has come out in my therapy lately is just how much I fear being perceived as a bad mom. It triggers more anxiety and panic than nearly any other thing in my life. The thing is that particular trigger is lurking behind nearly every moment of my day.

Running late to pick up one of the kids from an appointment? Neglectful mom.

Lose all of your daughter’s ballet paperwork? Disorganized mom.

Fall asleep nursing the toddler and didn’t finish folding laundry? Lazy mom.

It doesn’t help that I have the image of the Proverbs 31 woman in my head all the time. She is the ever present measuring stick for every Christian mom out there. She looms over us like some holy mother we will never live up to. She’s the inspiration for countless mothering books, magazines, and websites. Seriously, who is this lady? Could she have set a more impossible standard?

[a]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.

You guys, my husband had to wear swim trunks under his suit the other day because his wife of noble character forgot to put his underwear in the dryer. That’s not going to earn me any praise at the city gates.

14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.

Does the Zaxby’s by the Publix count as bringing food from afar? Because if so, then I’m winning at that part at least.

15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.

Last week my kids all shared two leftover brownies for breakfast because I had been up all night with a sick baby and they were too lazy to make cereal for themselves while I slept. So I guess I can’t check that whole “gets up and provides food thing” off the list either.

16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.

So, I’m not sure that my trading is all that profitable but the good news is if my lamp not going out at night means my power bill is always paid then I can check yes on that. Though there was that time I forgot to pay the water bill and my kids woke me up at 6:30 in the morning to ask why water in the sink was broken…

25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.

Most days I am clothed in a thrifted black dress covered in sticky toddler handprints and I think we can all agree that whole dignity ship set sail about 3 kids ago. 

26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed; (Proverbs 31: 10-31, NIV)

My tween calls me lots of things lately. Blessed doesn’t happen to be one of them. Though she did gently caress my cheek the other day and say, “I never realized how wrinkly you are, mom.” so that’s something I guess.

The more I think about her the more I wonder if even she would recognize the woman in these verses? Would she have been flattered to read this tribute to her abilities? Or exhausted at the thought of keeping up such an reputation? Since, as far as I know, there is only one perfect person described in the Bible she must have had at least a few flaws. Did she wake up grumpy in the mornings? Did she have to nag her kids to help her? Did she ever forget where she put something for 2 months and only find it after she had gone out and bought a replacement? Did her three-year-old ever repeat a swear word in perfect context after hearing it yelled loudly in traffic? (okay, I’m probably pushing it there. I’ve never known anyone who has had that happen. Certainly not me. And certainly not with every. single. one. of my kids.)

I guess my point is that even the woman who is the gold standard for Christian femininity had to be imperfect at some point. She had to question how well she was doing her job. She had to have moments where she wasn’t the best version of herself. And, yet, the parts that are memorialized are the best parts. The days when she did her very best. The days when her family was proud.

My prayer lately has been that God will meet me where I am lacking. That He will give me His love for my kids. That He will fill the gaps that I leave with His perfect love so that they will never question their worth and their value. I am a recovering perfectionist. I want things to be perfect. And they so rarely are. But I am seeing that perfection isn’t what I am called to. I am called to love. I am called to give compassion. And I am called to trust in God to fill the needs of my children. Some days that is harder than others but thankfully His mercies are new every morning.

The Lord loves us very much.
    So we haven’t been completely destroyed.
    His loving concern never fails.
23 His great love is new every morning.
    Lord, how faithful you are!
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is everything I will ever need.
    So I will put my hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24 NIRV**)

I’m counting on the freedom of that promise. And I am thankful for the days to come.

**The last translation I just used was from the NIRV which is the kids’ version of the NIV. If you haven’t ever read that translation I would encourage you to check it out sometime. I’m no Bible scholar so I don’t know how it stacks up against the others but I do know it is written in simple English for kids and new English speakers and sometimes the beauty of the simple wording is exactly what I need to hear. It is often one of my favorite ways to read a verse that I am using to speak to my fears or inadequacies.

Storms.

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When I was a child I was terrified of storms. I was an anxious kid anyways, but the threat (real or perceived) of a storm was enough to throw me into a panic. I knew the phone number for Civil Defense by the time I was 9 and would call them anytime I heard thunder to see if there was threat of a storm coming our way. It’s probably a very good thing that I wasn’t a child in the age of internet.

Now though? Oh, I love a good thunderstorm. Give me a stormy night at home any time and I am a happy girl. I will snuggle up under one of my million thrifted crochet blankets and turn on a good movie and rest peacefully in my house while listening to the raging storm outside.

Because somewhere along the way to this point I learned that the house I am in is stronger than most storms we are likely to face. Are there some that can shake the foundation of this house? Sure. Are they likely to hit me here where we live? Not so much.

Now my kids aren’t quite as frightened by storms as I was as a child, but they do get nervous at the sound of an approaching storm. The look at me to make sure we are safe and I always reassure them that we are safe as houses under the cozy blankets in our living room. And whether they are completely reassured or not they seem to believe my confident assurances and try and ignore the storm that rages outside their windows.

And I find myself thankful that I’ve grown up so much that I’m not scared of storms anymore.

At least not those of the meteorological variety.

But I would be lying if it didn’t occur to me recently that the little girl with Civil Defense on speed dial is still inside trembling at other storms that come her way. I’ve been thinking lately about what storms have replaced those thunderstorms of my childhood.

Losing my husband?

The health of my children?

Seeing people I love suffer?

Juggling the bills that never seem to end?

The older you get and more you have to hold on to the more terrifying it seems to see the possibilities for things that can take the people you love away.

I’m trying to remember more lately how strong the foundation of my house is. I’m trying to remember that just as I am caring for my children there is Someone who is caring for me. That I know Him. And that He loves me.

I don’t want Viola to be the only thing I ever write about on here because I don’t want to give the impression that her disability dominates our life. It doesn’t. But God is using it to teach me so much. Like who she belongs to. And who I belong to.

Viola’s diagnosis of Childhood Apraxia of Speech has meant lots of intense speech therapy. And that therapy is not covered by insurance. So, we’ve got an unexpected expense of nearly $700 a month that we are dealing with to give her the help she needs. Outside of all of the other medical expenses for her and the other kids. For a  one-income family of 7 (with two kids in braces) it is not an insignificant expense.

And I remember the day I booked her appointment for an evaluation and was told the cost was $450 for the initial visit and $160 per hour thereafter that I had no idea where that money would come from. But Thomas and I decided to step out in faith and book the appointment and take it on a week by week basis.

So, every week I ask God to supply the money for her therapy outside of our usual budget. And, so far, every single week He has.

Mostly, the money comes from selling things that have stacked up in our home unused. But, I also make things. And go to antique shows. And sell essential oils. And somehow in between it all it has covered every session.

Last week I was pulling out all the stops to avoid dipping into savings for her session. By Thursday I was taking loose change to Publix to add to the fund for Friday’s session. (How on Earth did we accumulate $30 in change?!) The night before her session, I was $35 short.  And my faith wasn’t shaken. I knew I would  be able to dip into our reserve to pay for her session this time. And then the next morning about 15 minutes before I got to her session I got an email from someone who wanted to buy a couple of the dream catchers I made and it filled in that gap. I was so very thankful for that provision.

I wasn’t thankful because I didn’t have the $35 we needed to cover the remainder of the payment. I was thankful that God provided for His child in that way. And I was thankful for the eyes to see that it was His provision.

Now, does that mean we won’t ever struggle to cover this expense? Of course not. Does it mean I will never worry? Don’t I wish.

However, it does mean that I am praying for the eyes to see those moments of provision and to see them as God’s love for me and for Thomas and for our children.

A friend posted a picture the other day of refugee children playing in a bathtub filled with water in a pile of rubble. Their father had provided a small bit of happiness and relief for them in a very dark and difficult situation. At the time it made me realize that my struggles in the north Atlanta suburbs (while not unimportant to me) are often in much need of perspective in the grand scheme of things. But, as I have digested that image it also made me realize that sometimes God provides us moments of peace and joy and relief in what feels like the rubble of a difficult situation. Just as that father gave his children a moment of joy in the midst of a great struggle, so has my Father given me joy. If only I have the eyes to see it.

And that is what I really want to remember. That seeing those moments, those gifts, are completely up to me. God, my Heavenly Father, has provided untold gifts in the midst of turmoil that I have likely been too closed minded to see. If only I could have seen this sooner. But, if I fail to look around now and to be aware I may miss some of the most beautiful moments of my life.

The smiles on the faces of those children were such a wake-up call to me. Joy comes from inside. Joy in the midst of rubble, of destruction, of sadness and even death is a possibility. Lord, please do not let me be too short sighted to see this here on this Earth. Let me see Your beauty in everything. Let me see every small and big thing as a gift. Let me cherish these breaths, these struggles. Because You are here with me. And in every moment let me realize I am not alone.

I don’t call the Civil Defense anymore when I am scared. But I do still find myself scared and trembling in the midst of the storms of life. However much we change and grow in our lives there is still that small child inside who longs for reassurance that we are safe. Perhaps without that fear we would never reach for the hand of the One who can give us peace.

Lord, give me that peace and the wisdom to see where it comes from.

 

The Ordinary Life.

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I always have big plans for summer. Somewhere around March or April I start dreaming of what our days will be like. Long lazy trips to the pool with PB&J picnics on towels in the sun. Book after book after book marked off our summer reading list. Day trips and field trips and endless adventures. Maybe a weekend or two sneaking away to some seaside location.

The truth of summer always disappoints me a little. It’s not that we don’t enjoy it. It’s just that it never quite lives up to my hype and I spend most of August feeling guilty for not providing a more magical Pinterest-worthy, Instagram beautiful summer.

I’ve become so much more aware of how quickly time is moving. Kai is 12 and there are fewer summers home with us ahead of her than there are behind her and I feel an urgency to make them all count. Life moves so quickly and I find it so hard to cherish the moment I am in and seem to spend so much time wishing I had savoring the moments that have passed.

I’m working on being mindful of my present moment. I’m working to put my phone down, stop worrying so much about things being perfect, and start appreciating those seemingly mundane experiences together as a family. Because those are the memories my kids seem to love the most.

We moved a few years ago from the house we had spent most of the kids’ lives in. It was a cute quaint retro ranch when we bought it and it turned into a bit of a money pit that, in the last couple years we lived there, had no heat and no air and a basement full of mold. It took our kids nearly a year to stop crying about not living there at least once a week. And to this day they all have the fondest memories of that place. When I remind them that the house didn’t have heat they say, “But it was so fun to cuddle by the fire together.” When I remind them that it didn’t have air conditioning they say, “But that meant we got to eat popsicles on the couch all summer.” They don’t remember a single bad thing about that house. It occurred to me this summer that if they could cherish those memories of a too small house with so many discomforts that they will probably remember the mediocre summers we have with great fondness as well. It doesn’t take a whole lot to make a wonderful memory. It takes time spent together, a willingness to be present in the moment, and a whole lot of love.

When my kids look back on Summer 2016 they won’t have fantastic and exotic adventures to relive. But they will remember:

*Nights spent catching fireflies and listening to live music under the stars at Matilda’s.

*Eating blackberries and blueberries straight from the bushes until our stomachs were full and our faces were stained with juice.

*Days spent snuggled on the couch under quilts watching our favorite Netflix shows together.

*A Fourth of July weekend spent in the country with their grandparents splashing in a cheapo plastic kiddie pool.

*A weekend visit with a special Hawaiian cousin and a night spent camping out on the living room floor with her.

*Days spent playing throughout the neighborhood with their best friends.

*Countless kisses on sweaty heads and skinned knees.

It doesn’t really matter if these moments were glamorous. Because they will likely grow up to view these things through their own magical sepia toned filter. As adults, its the ordinary childhood moments that always feel more fantastic in hindsight. I know that is certainly true for me. As a kid I did get the chance to travel a lot and spent a lot of my childhood adventuring across most of the country on road trips. We took fun trips and made great memories. But one summer memory always stands out in my mind. My sister and I spent our days playing all over our family’s 8+ acres of land most days and getting into as much outdoor trouble as we could. One particular day we found what had to be the biggest mud pit we had ever seen in our lives. We spent what felt like hours playing in the mud. We jumped in it and rolled in it and threw it at each other.  I know for a fact that neither of us even once worried what our parents would say. We finally showed up on the doorstep for dinner fully clothed and covered from head to toe in the worst smelling mud you can imagine. I will never forget my mom’s face when she saw us and realized we had been playing in the septic tank drain field all day. Turns out our greatest adventure was actually a big field of sewage. Seriously.

And that, my friends, is one of my favorite childhood memories. Swimming in a pool of crap for an afternoon. And I guess I only share that to remind myself (and all of us parents) that if I can grow up and cherish a memory of playing in the grey water of a septic drain field then surely my kids will be able to grow up and cherish these less than picture perfect summers.

So, I’ve decided to cut myself some slack on my stress over memory making. Because ordinary and special don’t have to be opposites. We make memories every day. And some of them will be extraordinary once-in-a-lifetime adventures. And some of them will be moments spent discovering a new favorite movie on Netflix. And all of them will be special.

Even the ones spent covered in crap.

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This post has been shared at Thank Goodness It’s Monday at Nourishing Joy.

Talking about talking. Or, more specifically, talking about not talking.

When we got the diagnosis that Viola was a Little Person I remember feeling really hopeful for her future. I knew things wouldn’t be easy for her but this girl’s spirit is something to be admired. When we got the diagnosis of mild/moderate hearing loss I was worried but optimistic. We would be able to get her a hearing aid if she needed one (she didn’t) or tubes to help improve her hearing (she did). Then a few weeks ago our speech therapist suggested an additional diagnosis.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech.

And I still feel hopeful and optimistic and all of those things. But I feel a little weary for her. Because I just feel like maybe she deserves a smaller mountain to climb.

Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) is a motor speech disorder. Children with CAS have problems saying sounds, syllables, and words. This is not because of muscle weakness or paralysis. The brain has problems planning to move the body parts (e.g., lips, jaw, tongue) needed for speech.

How this looks in our daily life is that she struggles to say any words on command. And she struggles to imitate sounds. She wants to. She looks at me and tries and tries and tries to tell me something but it comes out completely different than any word she’s trying to say.

For example, yesterday we were doing our speech homework. The goal was to get her to say the long A sound. “Aaaaa” I said. She set her eyes on my mouth to study it and forced out “Mmmm.”

At 26 months she isn’t saying much more than 5-6 words. Most all of those words are exclamations. Words she says spontaneously. Nothing much on command. “Uh-Oh!” “Oh Dear!” and now that we have kittens to chase around, “Meeeooow.” But not much else consistently. She knows lots of signs. She follows directions. And she can communicate non-verbally in a really effective matter.

We’ve seen lots of experts and therapists. And a Naturopathic doctor or two as well. And we are working to make progress. We’re doing some really intensive speech therapy right now. And taking probiotics and vitamin B-12 and cod liver oil supplements. And using essential oils. And pretty much any other thing I can think of to help her.

Maybe the thing I’m learning most in all of this is that Viola’s journey is just that – her journey. I can try and help her. I can be there for her but the truth is she is going to be climbing this mountain and there isn’t much I can do to fix things for her. That is true for all of my kids. It just took Viola to make me see it.

Lately I worry a lot about everyone. The more struggle I see my kids having the more I realize how limited my ability is to make life easier for them. I’ve been praying for wisdom and for patience and for healing. And I think I’m getting it. Just not always in the way I want to.

I want God to give me the wisdom to know how to “fix” Viola’s challenges. He’s giving me the wisdom to see that He created her (and all my kids) for a special purpose. And they don’t need to be fixed.

I want God to give me the patience to help her through this. He’s giving me the patience to wait on Him and to recognize that life may look differently for her than I had planned but that it is okay.

I want God to heal her of her motor speech disorder. He’s healing my mama’s heart of the fear I have for my children’s future.

This world is a scary place. Whether you’re average height or small. Whether you speak or whether you communicate by other means. And I’m being reminded daily that I am not the one driving this train. I have to trust more than I think I am able to sometimes. But trust feels like a rubber band. Just when I feel like I am going to break from the waiting and the trusting my rubber band stretches and I find myself capable of trusting more. God is here for me as much now as He ever has been. I’m just learning to rely on Him more. I’m seeing His provision more. I’m thanking Him more for the little things.

One of the things we talked about in my therapy recently was the idea of emotions being bad. If you had asked me 6 months ago which emotions were “bad” emotions I would say: sadness, worry, anger, fear, envy…and a whole host of other not so fun feelings. What I am learning is that these feelings are uncomfortable. And I mean, really, really uncomfortable. But so is growing. And that doesn’t mean its a bad thing.

It sounds pretty basic. After discussing this with my kids it seems like they already knew feelings weren’t bad. So I guess I’m a little late to the party. When I realized it was okay to feel sad or disappointed or angry at things it freed me up to see what these feelings were teaching me. I’m focusing on riding the waves of these emotions without letting them drown me. It’s been healing to have this change of perspective.

Tomorrow I am going to get up and get ready to surf the waves of emotions that come from being a mom to five kids (one with needs that are a little different from the rest). I’m going to exercise patience and trust. And I’m going to love and love and love and love.

Because, in the end, love is everything I have to give to my kids. And I’m trusting in that to be enough.

 

 

 

On the importance of self-care.

One of my biggest pet peeves is selfishness. I hate it in myself. I worry often that my decisions are selfish. As a mom, I hate to see it in my kids. It’s my biggest irritation at the self-love/self-esteem culture that I feel gets way out of control.

However, what I am learning this year is that selfishness and self-care are NOT the same thing.

For years I have neglected certain things in the fear that taking care of them is selfish. And I’m not talking about mani/pedi type stuff. If you’ve seen my feet you know that aspect of self-care is still one I struggle to embrace spending money on. I’m mostly talking about mental health and taking care of my mind/soul/heart.

Way, way back in the blog archives is a few posts somewhere about depression. Or anxiety. But, because I’ve been pregnant for, oh, 13 YEARS I just always called it Post-Partum Depression/Anxiety and felt like it would resolve itself. (Side note: PPD/PPA is a real thing and I shouldn’t have been “writing it off” and not dealing with it. If you’ve got it, seek some help. You absolutely deserve it.) The truth is I have been anxious for as much of my life as I can remember. I’m an anxious person. I worry. I fret. I stress most hours of the day.

I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. And Depression. And so there I said it.

About 5 months ago I made an appointment with a local therapist to start DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) in an attempt to get a handle on all of this. My midwife was not comfortable prescribing anti-depressants any longer without me seeing someone who was an expert in mental health.

Can I just tell you how pissed off that made me? Was she implying I wasn’t mentally healthy? No, it turns out she wasn’t implying it. SHE WAS SAYING IT. And that’s okay. I didn’t need to get any more angry with her than I would with someone telling me I had Strep Throat. Because mentally I was (okay, AM) unhealthy. But seeing the right person was going to help me get better.

So, self-care. I’m learning how important it is. I’m learning that loving my kids means taking care of their mother. I’m taking medicine and being mindful and using words like “opposite action” and “radical acceptance” and feeling better and better. Weekly therapy feels like a workout at the gym. Hard but worth it. Exhausting but so gratifying.

And I wish I had done all of this sooner.

Honestly, I don’t know where to go with this. Except that I wanted to say it out loud. To say that I am a work in progress. To say that the reason I have avoided blogging for a while (um…a couple of years?!) now is because I was so afraid of not doing it perfectly and amazingly that I just kept myself from doing it at all. But these are things I am working on. Letting go of my fear of being imperfect and my expectations.

I’m hoping this will be an exercise that helps me get back into this space. Back into writing and expressing myself here. I’ve lost too much time to anxiety and the fear of not having it all together.

I am who I am. And you either like me or you don’t. So there.

I still really hope you like me. I guess my therapist and I probably need to work on that a little more. 🙂

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Lazy Potty Training: The sequel

Remember a few years ago when I told you how I potty trained Ivy? Basically, I was lazy and let her decide when to be potty trained. Well, for some reason, I didn’t learn my lesson there. Because about the time Traveler was approaching 3 I decided he needed to be potty trained. Not because I really cared whether or not he was, but more because kids are supposed to be potty trained at 3, right? And lots of other people I knew were potty training. So, I did it because I thought I was supposed to. And it didn’t go well – as in pee puddles in the dairy aisle of Trader Joe’s. So I gave up. Mostly because he was so not interested. He cried every time I even put him near the potty. He hated it. It was miserable for everyone.

That’s about the point where I told my husband that Traveler was going to have to beg me to let him wear underwear because unless he really wanted it I was not potty training any time soon. Fast forward to last Monday. Traveler wakes up and asks to wear underwear. My first thought was, “Really? Seriously? Please please please no!” But I put it on him. And he didn’t have an accident all day long. Not the whole week. As of today, he has had one accident and it wasn’t even a terrible traumatic one. And he’s wearing underwear all the time. No pain. No tears. Not even much bribing. It has been a piece of cake.

Which leads me to my point. (You were wondering when I was going to get there, right?) The number one parenting stress in my life comes from worrying about what my kids are “supposed” to be doing versus what they need to be doing or what they’re ready to do. When I step back, stop comparing, and think about my kids as the individuals that they are everything works so much more smoothly.

You would have thought I would have learned this lesson when I was stressing over the fact that Traveler wouldn’t go to sleep on his own in his bed when he was 2.5. I thought he would always be falling asleep on the couch snuggled up in my lap. Because, after all, kids are supposed to go to sleep on their own by 6 months, right? I mean, let’s forget that it was infinitely easier and happier for both of us if he laid down beside me on the sofa at bedtime and fell asleep all snuggled up. And let’s forget that I enjoyed babying him just a little. If you read too many parenting books you’d believe he would never be able to sleep on his own. He’d be ruined for life. But, one day he climbed into his bed and announced that he wanted to go to sleep in there. And for the last 7 months he has gone to sleep in his bed with no problems. So apparently I didn’t ruin him for life. Yet.

My litmus test has always been (and continues to be) to ask myself whether I truly see him going to college engaging in the same behavior I am worried about. That was true for breastfeeding. And diapers. And sleep training. All of it. Letting my kids do things on their time and not some random prescribed plan enforced by mainstream parenting “experts” has always served me well. I guess one of these days I’ll start to remember that before freaking out…

Sensory Boxes: A cautionary tale

I love sensory boxes. Really, I do. But, apparently it has taken me four kids to realize that sensory boxes are not intended to be utilized without adult supervision. Or at least not inside. Here’s to 16 ounces of Penne pasta all over my kitchen. At least they had fun doing it. : )

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On turning 33…

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My many blessings…

Yesterday was my 33rd birthday. And the end of birthday season in the Loving family. It’s quite an exhausting and expensive season. Between March 25th and May 23rd we have no less than 7 birthdays in our family- 5 of which are in our little family alone. It’s a marathon for sure.

By the time we get to my birthday we are usually worn out and tight on cash. It’s just par for the course. Throw in a beach vacation that went a little over budget and you have a 33rd birthday without too much fanfare. My usual reaction to this has been to passive aggressively play the martyr. There I admitted it. I act like a baby. Oh, poor me! I don’t have a big spectacular birthday! Boohoo.

Something changed this year and I hope it means I’m finally growing up. Or gaining perspective. Because it felt good not to act like a total baby about it for once. It felt nice to have a good attitude and to be happy with my day no matter how simple it was. There is something so empowering about peace.

For years and years I’ve had an inner war with my underlying materialism. It’s partly why I love embracing the hippie Earth mama ideology. It helps me break out from materialism. But it is a struggle. Probably always will be to some extent. How can you live in our culture of rampant consumerism and not be tempted to want want want more than you need?

But yesterday I was putting my littlest ones down for a nap (which sometimes entails snuggling up in bed with one or more of them until they/I fall asleep) and I was laying there with my babies and hearing the soft rhythmic breath of the deep sleepers and listening to my big girls play happily in the other room with their dolls and I realized something. I am happy with what I have. I am happy with a simple day and simple joys. I am happy to have a small house with a big life. I am happy. It was the perfect birthday present to myself. How could I not be happy with my blessings? How could I not love this season of life?

I realized that lamenting having to sacrifice an elaborate birthday would essentially be saying that having these babies in my life is worth less than the new purse or shoes or sunglasses I would have gotten if we didn’t have so many little ones and their birthdays to celebrate. And the truth? My simple birthday with a home cooked meal and birthday brownies and hours spent cuddling my littles was 1000 times better than any store bought birthday present I could have gotten. It fills a place in my soul no material pleasure could.

Last night after snuggling up on the couch with my husband and watching a movie he asked me if I was disappointed that my birthday wasn’t more “exciting.” For once I could answer with 100% truth that I wasn’t disappointed. I could say with all honesty that my heart was full and I was completely content. My life is not exciting to most and it isn’t filled with glamour but it is good. And it is great. And it is everything I want it to be right now. Realizing that was a gift on my 33rd birthday. It was, perhaps, my most valuable gift ever.

On the run.

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I am not a runner. Not. At. All.

You know that picture on the internet that says “If you see me running, call the police?” That’s me. I faked sick or my period nearly every day of middle school to avoid P.E. because I am the most unathletic person you will meet. No exaggeration.

But, my husband? He wants to run. So we signed up for the Couch 2 5K program. And today before church was our first official running day.

I want to say I loved it. Because I love Nike’s marketing and the empowered running women they feature. I want to love the wind in my hair and the calm, rhythmic sound of my feet pounding on the pavement. The only problem is…I hated it. I hated every single second of those 25 minutes running. But I did it. Or (here’s to you Nike) I just did it. Hindsight being 20/20, I have identified a few rookie mistakes made.

1. I didn’t stretch. So now? I can only take strides as long as my feet. Fun times.

2. I didn’t have running shoes. And I didn’t want to go out and buy running shoes (given my tendency to always sometimes give up on exercising fads in my life) so I decided to run barefoot. Heck, that’s what all the cool kids do, right? Wrong. I have 4″ x 2″ blisters on the bottoms of my heels. More fun times.

Those two things combined with being at the park on a Sunday morning with four kids made this not my favorite new exercising adventure. But, my husband loved it and I love him so back to the park we go on Tuesday. I will say that I felt darn good after we got done. You know, aside from not being able to walk properly. And I figured, heck, I hated red wine the first time I tried it, too, but I got used to it. And look at all the fun I would have missed out on if I’d given up on that!

Things I’ve learned this week. (And it’s only Monday.)

1. “Shark Teeth” is the word for when your child grows permanent teeth behind their baby teeth without losing the aforementioned baby teeth. “Freaked” is the word to describe my reaction to seeing two sets of teeth growing in the exact same place in my 5-year-old’s mouth.

2. Hobby Lobby will not make you pay (no matter how much you insist) for the $6.99 decorative plaster ball that gets chucked violently across the store and decimated by your 2-year-old in his fit of rage at the indignity of being forced to ride in a shopping cart. Thank you, Hobby Lobby. You have earned a customer for life.

3. A bank-wide computer glitch can prevent all bank customers from accessing any money for an entire day and in those instances there is nothing at all that can be done to get your money while the computers hold it hostage. Scary but true. The moral of the story? People who hide cash in their mattresses or floor boards might not be as crazy as I thought.

4. When you’re at your son’s first dentist appointment and he has an epically dirty diaper just moments before getting in the chair and you realize you came to the dentist with diapers but no wipes it is good to know that Trader Joe’s Oatmeal Make-up Remover wipes also work on the other end of the human body.

It’s been a busy day around here. Can’t wait to see what I get to learn with the rest of my week…

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