A Life Stirred

Ten on Ten :: A Poor Substitute

Well, I missed “Ten on Ten“…again.  Which at this point isn’t really shocking.

But there is so much I want to remember about right now–about the girls, about our day-to-day life.  It’s stuff that I will no doubt forget all too soon (forget or block out…same thing).

So, I present you with a poor substitute for Ten on Ten…aka “Little Bits about our Life Right Now Without Any Pictures (Sorry, Mom).”

In a lot of ways, life is exactly the same as it’s always been.  Wake up, eat, play, errands, play, eat, naptime, play, dishes, survive until Daddy gets home, eat, play, bedtime, crash!  (Not included: all that “training” that comes with having a two and three year old…and by “training”, I clearly mean, teaching them to not meltdown at everything!)

But there’s something a little extra sweet about this season right now.  The girls have hit a seriously awesome stage.  Their developing personalities are so enjoyable.  They are each other’s best friends, and they will play together (with minimal disagreements) for hours!  Sometimes they just disappear upstairs, which is so strange (and nice).

Joanna is, as she would say, “almost 4.”  I mean, she’s got two months until her birthday, but she’s excited.  I’m not sure I’m quite as ready for 4 as she is.  Four seems like a real big kid.  She says the most hilarious and awesome things.

And in case I felt like Jo was growing up too fast, I can just look at Claire, who is DEFINITELY growing up too fast.  Last Monday, she came into my bedroom (before I was even out of bed), and said, “I want to wear big girl underwears.”  This was pretty much out of the blue.  I had casually been mentioning that “big girls wear underwear.” But I wasn’t actually that eager to dive into potty-training again.  And I definitely hadn’t wanted to do it before Thanksgiving (because 15 hours in the car does NOT work well with a potty-training toddler).

Anyway, she requested big girl underwears.  So we did it.  And the determined little kid potty-trained herself!!  She hasn’t looked back.  It’s absolutely crazy…and oddly easy.

And then that Friday (5 days into big girl underwears), she got a haircut.  It was time to get rid of the mullet.  For her sake and ours.

Anyway, with the combo of the haircut and the underwear, my baby is gone.  It was all a bit sudden.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m so stinkin’ proud of her.  And I love the haircut.  But esh!  We don’t have a baby anymore!  And it happened literally overnight.

So, that’s our life lately.  It feels so ordinary, and yet, when I look back, these are going to be the days that I remember fondly.

100_4000

Leave a comment »

The Motherhood Paradox

“The days are long, but the years are short.”

“Enjoy every moment.  They grow up so fast.”

“This too shall pass.”

“Don’t wish the time away.”

Anyone who has been a mom for more than a day has probably heard one or all of these comments.  They’re meant to encourage and give perspective.  And they kind of do.

Except they kind of don’t.

Most often, I hear these types of comments as a response to a mom’s frustrations in her current season.  It certainly does give a big picture perspective of how long this current season will last, but it does nothing to affirm the mom’s feelings in the moment.  If anything, it dismisses her frustrations, and tells her to suck it up because someday her frustrating baby will be gone.

See?  Not so encouraging.

And yet, all those statements are absolutely true.  The days are long, and the years are short.  They do grow up fast.

Case in point: This was 3 years ago yesterday. That definitely went fast.

Case in point: This was 3 years ago yesterday. That definitely went fast.

So what do you do with it all?

It’s the Motherhood Paradox.  As a mom, I experience this paradox every.single.day.

It’s fast.  It’s slow.

It’s enjoyable.  It’s torture.

It’s fulfilling.  It’s absolutely draining.

I love my kids.  I….still love my kids, but need a minute alone (or a few hours).  (Anyone else?)

But you know what I’ve realized?  Motherhood can be all of those things at once.

You can also absolutely love your three year old, and her blossoming personality and language.  And you can want that very same threeanger to hurry up and be four.  It doesn’t take away from enjoying this stage.  And it does nothing to actually change the speed of time.  (Spoiler Alert:  Time is constant.)

You can love having all little kiddos.  And you can wish for the day when you don’t have to change diapers and wipe poo.  (TMI?  Maybe…but we’ve all been there, right?)

So, vent those motherhood frustrations, and don’t feel guilty for one minute.  (Because, seriously, don’t we all have enough mom-guilt as it is?)  Enjoy your kids in their current season, and wish for the next one.  It’s the Motherhood Paradox*.  And it’s ok.

*I should put a trademark on that phrase and make millions.  Because apparently, you can do that.

This delightful moment was followed up with a toddler melt-down. Thank you, Motherhood Paradox.

This delightful moment was followed up with a toddler melt-down. Thank you, Motherhood Paradox.

2 Comments »

10 on 10 :: The Out-Of-Control-Project Edition

You know that book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie?  You know, where the mouse wants one little, simple thing, and it spirals out of control until the house is destroyed, and he and his human-friend are completely exhausted?  Yeah, that was my day.  I just wanted to organize the girls’ toys.  But somehow it turned into a massive overhaul of the girls bedroom.  I’m pleased with the results, but goodness!!  I need a nap….and maybe a cookie.

Lucky for you, it’s September 10th, which means you get a front-row seat to my out-of-control project.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s start at the beginning…

Once your daughter realizes she can see every picture you take, it becomes very hard to get a quality picture.

Once your daughter realizes she can see every picture you take, it becomes very hard to get a quality picture.

Reading a little Fancy Nancy before we head out for the morning.

Reading a little Fancy Nancy before we head out for the morning.

Pretending to be tech-y...

Pretending to be tech-y…

Meanwhile, my girls were playing with their favorite 11 month old (and his mom).

Meanwhile, my girls were playing with their favorite 11 month old (and his mom).

They can do some of the buckling themselves. It's a game-changer.

They can do some of the buckling themselves. It’s a game-changer.

A quick snuggle before naptime.

A quick snuggle before naptime.

This is when the insanity starts. I just wanted to sort through these toys...

This is when the insanity starts. I just wanted to sort through these toys…

An hour later, the girls room is *completely* changed! They like it!

An hour later, the girls room is *completely* changed!

Another hour later, the living room is back to normal. I moved furniture around....and then moved it back. A lot of work for it to look exactly the same.

Another hour later, the living room is back to normal. I moved furniture around….and then moved it back. A lot of work for it to look exactly the same.

They've been playing in their room all afternoon. I think it's a hit!

They’ve been playing in their room all afternoon. I think it’s a hit!

What a productive day!  I’m awfully proud of myself.  However, “rearrange the girls room” wasn’t on my to-do list…and lots of things were left undone.  Oh, well.  I’ll just add it, cross it off, and call it a day!

Leave a comment »

The Baby Question

Remember when you were a senior in high school?  Do you remember the question everyone asked you that year? What are you doing next year?  Family, friends, neighbors, fellow-church members, even the occasional chatty grocery store clerk, everyone wanted to know where you were headed.  If you had a plan, it was no big deal.  You answered the question and moved on.

But if you didn’t have a plan, it was the.most.annoying.question in the world!

Same thing happened senior year of college.  And then at each life stage there seems to be another similarly annoying question that everyone asks.  When are you getting married?  When will you start a family?  [Aaaaah!  Just let me enjoy my life for a minute!!]

And then you have a baby.  It’s a joyous moment.  But it doesn’t take long before someone asks the new question, the one that will follow you until menopause:  Will you have more kids?  

I'm pretty sure I was still in the hospital with this adorable squish when I got that question for the first time.

I’m pretty sure I was still in the hospital with this adorable squish when I got that question for the first time.

Before I go any further, I should confess.  I have absolutely asked that question to nearly all of my friends (and some strangers).  I’m just fascinated by family size, kid spacing, and my friends’ dreams for their family.

Actually, the question itself doesn’t bug me.  Not as much as the what’s-your-plan-after-college question did, anyway.  (Sidenote:  I had no plan, and there was only so many times I could say, “Haha, well, I’ll figure it out when I get there.”)

I think that question is generally asked out of a genuine interest…or an attempt at small talk.  Neither of which is annoying.

However, I’ve been hearing (well, reading) a version of that question on a few blogs and instagram lately.  Specifically, “Are you done?”  The comments to that question are always plentiful.  It seems like everyone has an answer…or rather, no answer.

Very few women have a clear we’re-done feeling.  And it got me wondering why.  Why does the desire for more kids linger in so many of us?  Why are there so many women who “struggle” with the not-done feeling?

Is it a lack of contentment with what we have?  Is it just part of being a woman (we can procreate so we feel we should)?  Is it that little kid clothes are just so stinkin’ cute!?

I mean, obviously, they are.  But I don't think that's the reason.

I mean, obviously, they are.  But I don’t think that’s the reason.

Or is it maybe something else entirely?

For the moms who still feel a pull towards the baby-stage, maybe that doesn’t necessarily mean birthing more babies.  Maybe it means adoption.  Or foster care.  Or serving in the church’s nursery (a place that almost universally needs more volunteers).  Or serving a new mom.  Or a million other ways to be involved in the baby stage.

Maybe that not-done feeling means you’re not done.  But it might just look different than you thought.

Obviously, this isn’t the universal answer for that not-done feeling.  Sometimes you feel not-done because you’re not done.  Everyone is different.  Just something to consider, I think.  I know I will be considering it.

What about you?  Are you done?  (And seriously, I’d love to hear.)

4 Comments »

The Baby is TWO!

So, usually, I start these kinds of birthday posts with a big long rant about how fast time goes and how crazy it is that my baby is another year older.

But the crazy thing about Claire turning two is that I can’t believe she’s not already two!  It’s probably because she has a big sister and spends most of her time trying to be big.  I guess it’s working.

How do I describe Claire at two?  I mean, other than just plain awesome.  Because she is.

She is determined…and has a bit of a one-track mind (which means she will repeat the same thing over and over and over until she is absolutely sure she’s being understood).

She hauled this stick out of the woods by herself.

She hauled this stick out of the woods by herself.

She love love LOVES her big sister.  After naptime, her first question is always, “Nana sleeping?”

At the maple syrup shack this winter

At the maple syrup shack this winter

She is the most polite toddler I have ever met.  She will consistently say “excuse me” and “thank you” INDEPENDENTLY!  It makes my heart happy every time.

She loves the hiking backpack, baby dolls, her bear, books, Georgie, and horseys (though just in theory, I think a real one would freak her out).

Such a good mama!

Such a good mama!

She will repeat anything you ask her to…which is really a lot of fun.  My favorite phrases are “I got it,” “I did it!,” “Eeeeoooo inky poo.” (Pee-yew stinky poo…which I say to her every time I change her diaper.)

Claire, you are two!  And that just seems so big and so little all at the same time.  You are a delight and a joy to have in our family.  I can’t wait to see what the next years bring!

Claire, one week old.

Claire, one week old.

Claire, almost-two.

Claire, almost-two.

PS So, we put her in a big girl bed.  And she wouldn’t stay in.  But it was the sweetest disobedience I’ve ever seen.  She would go to the top of the stairs, stand there until we noticed her, and then say, “Obey?”  We finally just switched her back into a crib.  I just don’t think she was quite ready for the responsibility of a big girl bed.  But I’m ok with that…I’ll keep my baby for a few more months.

2 Comments »

Ten on Ten :: The Every Day Edition

Why, hello there, Blog.  It’s been a while.  I haven’t forgotten you.  It just turns out that I can only have one hobby at a time.

But today, Blog, it’s your turn because it’s TEN ON TEN!  Woot, woot!  And today, I made a point to take pictures of completely ordinary activities.  Because someday (and that someday will be here before I know it…because time is crazy), I will have forgotten all the completely ordinary activities we did when we had a 3 year old and an almost-2 year old.

Ben put on the "Classical for studying" Pandora station and calls it "Princess Music."  He obviously knows the way to our girls' hearts.

Ben put on the “Classical for studying” Pandora station and calls it “Princess Music.” He obviously knows the way to our girls’ hearts.  (PS Look!  Basil!!)

I'm a sucker for freshly bathed kiddos and their piggie toes...and their zoned-out-watching-Curious-George face.

I’m a sucker for freshly bathed kiddos and their piggie toes…and their zoned-out-watching-Curious-George faces.

Almost two and too cool for school.

Almost two and too cool for school.

Bonus Picture:  Because every 10 on 10 needs a little dose of reality…

Proof that we aren't always happy and perfect.  (Though still cute...don't tell her.)

Not everyone was as cheerful about heading out to run errands.

Sending off some fun mail.  I want to be better at sending snail mail.  It's a lost art, and I want to revive it.  (Because, seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn't LOVE getting fun mail!?!?)

Sending off some fun mail. I want to be better at sending snail mail. It’s a lost art, and I want to revive it. (Because, seriously, is there anyone out there who doesn’t LOVE getting fun mail!?!?)

Playing a game at the library...this was about 30 seconds before they melted down at the suggestion that it was time to go home.  (Also, note Claire's hat change...she found this one in the car and decided it was a better match with her outfit.)

Playing a game at the library…this was about 30 seconds before they melted down at the suggestion that it was time to go home.

  Naptime!  That glorious mid-day break.

Sometimes you just have to put up your feet and snuggle under a blanket.

Aaaaand both kids are asleep.  Pardon me, while I go take a nap too.  It's a perfect nap day!

Aaaaand both kids are asleep. I may or may not be doing a happy dance.

Post-nap train playing.

Post-nap train playing.

Dang, we are cute.

Dang, we are cute.

"We are AWANA Cubbies.  Were happy all day long..."

“We are AWANA Cubbies. We’re happy all day long…”

Leave a comment »

Ten on Ten: Mother’s Day Edition

As with any big, celebrate-y day, there is all kinds of potential for high expectations and subsequent disappointment on Mother’s Day.  I tried very, very hard to have zero expectations and to simply enjoy the day (and my family and my job as mother).

And whenever I felt the tug of expectation, I remembered this line from an excellent blog post by Lisa-Jo Baker:

How 24 hours can’t possibly hold the measure of a lifetime of laying oneself low for the loving and raising and wrangling of tiny humans.

Mother’s Day is one day, and it is foolish to think that one day will satisfy all my desires to be loved and thanked and appreciated.

That being said, I had a very nice Mother’s day.  I felt very loved and appreciated…and full!  Literally…as Jo pointed out at bedtime, “We had all your favorite foods today, Mama!”  Indeed we did!

My jammied girls.  My true Mother's Day gifts.

My jammied girls. My true Mother’s Day gifts.

Independent clean-up.  Another Mother's Day gift.

Independent clean-up. Another Mother’s Day gift.

Mother's Day selfie.  Because why not?

Mother’s Day selfie. Because why not?

Alone time = sewing time!

Alone time = sewing time!

Giving the quilt a test run.

Giving the quilt a test run.

A husband doing dishes...be still my heart!

A husband doing dishes…be still my heart!

My flower from church.  And the verse that shapes how I want to mother (the top verse).

My flower from church. And the verse that shapes how I want to serve my family (the top verse).

Doll quilt is DONE!  Naked baby doll seems to enjoy it.

Doll quilt is DONE! The baby doll seems to enjoy it.  No complaints yet.

Making important phone calls together.  Jo's pretend phone conversations are hilarious!

Making important phone calls together. Jo’s pretend phone conversations are hilarious!

I built a killer train track this afternoon.  My best one ever!

I built a killer train track this afternoon. My best one ever!

ten on ten button

Leave a comment »

Ten on Ten: The Unconventional Edition

Let’s just be honest.  I forgot it was the tenth.  Motherhood does lots of weird things to a person…not the least of which is that I hardly ever write the date anymore.  I mean, I’m vaguely aware that it’s April…and I think it’s Friday (although I’ve been thinking that since Wednesday).

So, please sit back and enjoy “Ten on Ten”…or as I’d like to call it this month, “A Handful of Pictures on an Undetermined Day.”

It’s April…so they say.  April here isn’t really a spring month.  It’s more of a snow-melting, mud-everywhere kind of month.

And sometimes there are ice storms.

And sometimes there are ice storms.

Sidenote:  So, I’ve been thinking about our long winters.  It’s easy to get discouraged and frustrated by winter in March and April.  Especially as pictures of other people enjoying actual-Spring start cropping up on Facebook, Instagram, and blogs.  But isn’t that just a comparison issue?  I don’t live in an area of the country that has grass by Easter.  I shouldn’t really expect it.  And yet, as I start to see everyone else enjoying warm weather and flowers, I get a little jealous.  Comparison really *is* the thief of joy!  I’ve gotta stop doing that…

Anyway, moving on…Once I realized that today was the tenth, I thought I should at least take a few pictures to document the day.  So we did lunchtime selfies!
My sweet Bear-Bear.

My sweet Bear-Bear.

Oh, JoJo, you are a joy!

Oh, JoJo, you are a joy!

We are adorable, and we know it.

We are adorable, and we know it.

Right now, there is a naptime miracle happening upstairs!  Both girls are napping!!  At the same time!!  Clearly, that is worth lots and lots of somewhat blurry pictures, right?

A three-year-old napping.  It's as elusive as Bigfoot.

A three-year-old napping. It’s as elusive as Bigfoot.

Not as elusive, but worth a picture.

Not as elusive, but worth a picture.

I will leave you with that.  Hope you have a great April 10, 2015.  (I know the date now…aren’t you proud?)

ten on ten button

Leave a comment »

Ten on Ten: The Snow-Castle Edition

Confession:  I am not good at taking the girls outside to play in the winter.  So we stay inside a lot.  I’ve been justifying it because it’s been legit cold for months (5 days above freezing since the start of 2015…that’s cray-cray).

But today?  Today was different.  Today we played outside!!  I will be accepting my “Mother of the Year” award any day now.

This bird feeder makes doing dishes fun...or at least, not as painful.

This bird feeder makes my heart happy.  Hello, chickadee-dee-dee!  (Can you name that book?)

Packing for our upcoming big-big trip.

Packing for our upcoming big-big trip.

Oh, snow clothes, you are such a pain.

Oh, snow clothes, you are such a pain.

Bonus picture (because getting all the gear on is definitely photo-worthy):

Ready to roll!

Ready to roll!

Tell me you aren't a little jealous of this snow castle...

Coolest snow castle ever!

The clothing combos never cease to amaze.

The clothing combos never cease to amaze.

I worked on projects in another room, while the girls destroyed the rest of the house.

I worked on projects in another room, while the girls destroyed the rest of the house.

Without any prompts, she started to clean up.  Two minutes later (without any prompts), she dumped it all on the floor again.  We'll call it even.

Without any prompts, she started to clean up. Two minutes later (without any prompts), she dumped it all on the floor again.

ten on ten button

 

Leave a comment »

Phrases that Phrustrate

Confession:  I’m a bit of a language snob.  Cutesy misspellings and grammatical errors drive me up the wall!  (Yes, that would include the title of this post too.  I’m bugging myself right now.)

You’d like a few real-life examples?

“Kmart Kares About Kids.”  Apparently, not enough to use spell check.

“Bilt Rite,” a construction company.  I’m sorry, but I’m not going to trust you as a contractor if you can’t even spell all your words right!

And don’t even get me started on grammatical errors!  There, their, they’re.  Come on, people!  Think it through!!

Believe it or not, this post isn’t actually about my desire for accurate grammar and spelling.

I think every mom has a phrase or comment that triggers irrational frustration.  It’s usually something benign, but something we hear over and over and over again and after the one millionth time, it’s just doesn’t feel so benign anymore.  It causes Hulk-like anger and often triggers a snappy and unkind response.

“Whoa!  Are they all yours?”  –No, I just thought I’d borrow a few extra children and then go shopping.

“You certainly have your hands full.”  –Oh, do I?  Thanks for pointing that out.

“You think this season of motherhood is hard?  Just wait…”  –No, you just wait…

And that’s just a few.  There are probably as many examples of frustrating phrases as there are moms.

Recently, I’ve felt challenged to change the way I view these phrases (and the people who say them).  Instead of resorting frustration, I’m trying to be more understanding, more grace-filled.

Generally, the commenter isn’t trying to be malicious or rude or obnoxious.  Generally, it’s just someone who wants to strike up a conversation.  Someone older or lonely or missing the days when their hands were full with little kids.  Or all of the above.

So, I’ve been trying to treat each comment as an opportunity to connect with the people around me (even if it’s the 427th comment that day).  It is waaaaay too easy for me to stay in my own little introverted bubble and never interact with those around me.  So, sometimes that frustrating phrase is just what I need to be pulled out of my bubble.

It’s not always easy.  Sometimes I’m in a hurry, or I’m distracted, or my kids are whiney, but really, taking time for people should always be high on my list.  For my girls, I want to model grace, love, and patience towards others.  I want them to extend those very same things to those who cross their paths.

So that means I have to take a deep breath, assume the best, and respond kindly.

And yes, I know that there are some phrases that we can hear that are actually offensive or hurtful.  And I’m so sorry if that’s been the case for you.  But people are still people (even if they’re being rude or unkind), and I think it’s always valuable to extend grace when we can…even if extending grace means walking away before you hurt someone.

What phrase drives you up the wall?  How do you respond?  How do you want to respond?

 

3 Comments »