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 »

When the kids are away, the mom will…mop?

It’s 3:00, and my house is quiet.  And not because the stars have aligned, and everyone is napping. (Though really, a 3:00 nap never results in anything good come bedtime.)

No, it’s quiet because my girls are having their first overnight with the grandparents!  There really ought to be a spot in the baby books for that milestone.

I’ve never had this much time alone at my house without my kids.  At least, not in past 3.5 years.  It’s strange.  And wonderful.  And relaxing.  And lonely.  And productive.  All at the same time.

In the past five hours, I’ve learned a few things…

1.  I talk to myself.  A lot.  Thankfully, under normal circumstances, you wouldn’t know because there are usually two kids around me, giving the illusion that I’m talking to them.

2.  I can be productive.  I’ve already done the dishes, planned for our church’s moms’ group, gone swimming, mopped, made lunch, done laundry, planned date night, and written a blog post.  Seems pretty good for 3:00 on a Monday.

3.  I like my kids.  I mean, that’s not a shocker.  I knew that I liked them.  But I actually miss them!  And it’s only been 5 hours!!

4.  My house can be quiet.  Really quiet.  And it’s weird.  I think I’ll go put some music on…

5.  I can get a snack and not have to share (or hide).  Enough said.

I am thankful for this time alone.  And I am thankful for the reminder that I really do love being a stay-at-home mom–even though I often feel tired and unproductive and unimportant.  Spending my days with my two precious girls is such a gift!  And sometimes it just takes a day alone to remember that.

These cuties are my favorites.

My favorite girls!

 

Leave a comment »

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 »

That Sneaky Part of My Heart

It seems that in every playdate I’ve had lately, the same topic keeps coming up–school.  Apparently, once your child hits 3, it’s time to have an educational plan in place.

She knows 3/26 letters, so we're thinking Harvard next fall.

She knows 3/26 letters, so we’re thinking Harvard next fall.

Really, though, this is a natural progression in mom-conversations.  It’s totally normal to think ahead.  I mean, really, Pre-K is only 16 months away.  [Anyone else have heart palpitations at that thought?]

Anyway, Jo is 3.  And suddenly, there is all this pressure to have a school plan and to be involved in a variety of activities (for the college applications, obviously)!

I think this kind pressure was always there.  It’s just changing as our kids’ skills are changing.  This new pressure fells weightier.

Is Jo going to be in dance?  You can start at three, you know?

Does she do swim lessons?  It’s great to start young.

Did you hear about the preschool at the high school?  You have to enroll early.  There’s a wait list.

Here’s the crazy thing, though.  For the most part, I am completely satisfied with the parenting choices we’ve made.

And yet…

And yet, there’s this sneaky part of my heart that starts to get stressed out and starts to question if I’m doing the right things.

So, of course, I’ve been thinking about where this sneaky pressure comes from.

And surprisingly, it has some very familiar roots.

Comparison.  Identity.  Insecurity.

[Goodness, Lord, really?  Why do I always struggle with the exact. same. issue over and over?  Can’t I have something new?!  Just for variety?]

This sneaky part of my heart reveals quite a bit.  I have a propensity towards insecurity in my parenting choices.  I’ve placed some of my identity in my children’s ability to be successful and excellent and advanced (because it makes me look good).  I measure my kids against other kids so I can prove (to myself and others) that I’m a better mom.

Yeah, that’s not cool.  Thankfully, God can (and will!) change my heart, and He can help me gain freedom.

As a mom and friend, I long to be quietly confident in the choices I make for my family.  I want to share what we do, when others want to hear it.  I want to eliminate competition from my conversations.  I want to support my friends in their choices.  I want to decrease comparison and increase encouragement.

So, do you have a sneaky part of your heart?  (Please tell me I’m not alone.)  When does it sneak up on you?  What have you done to eliminate it?

7 Comments »

Mothers and Daughters :: A Guest Post

I consider myself an unlikely mom of girls.  I never really saw it coming.  I thought I was more of mom-of-boys kind of girl.  Really, I’m still regularly surprised that I have two (TWO!) girls.

But I do.  And I kind of love it.  A lot.

Today I’m sharing about this over at Mary Evelyn’s blog, What Do You Do, Dear?  If you don’t read her blog, you really, really should (no, really, you should).  It’s one of my all-time favorites!  She’s funny and deep and real and wise and has the best hair I’ve ever seen outside of a Disney movie.  She has a ridiculously handsome son with Spina Bifida and an adorable, brand-new baby girl.

I am so excited to be joining in her series about Mothers and Daughters.  Hopefully, you’ll go check it out!

Leave a comment »

What do you do well?

I read a lot of blogs these days.  Because 5 minute chunks of time for reading is about all I can handle.

[Sidenote: Sometimes I worry that I’ve broken the part of my brain that could focus on a mental task for more than 10 minutes.  I’m blaming motherhood for that, but I wonder if it’s more a cultural trend.]

So, anyway, I read mostly Christian, mom blogs.  [Maybe I should diversify my blog-reading, but that’s not what this post is about…]

Generally, these blogs strive to encourage and challenge other moms in their walk with the Lord. Which is great.  I need that.  The Bible even tells us to encourage one another and build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

BUT lately, it seems like everything I’m reading focuses on areas where we might be falling short.  Presumably because those are probably the areas where we most need encouragement.  Things like being patient as a mom, practicing hospitality, housekeeping things, developing a regular prayer time, loving our children well, loving our husband well, being a good friend, focusing on self-care and on and on.

And before I go any further with this post, let me say clearly, there is nothing wrong with those postsNothing.  I need all the encouragement I can get in most of those areas (ok, ok, all of those areas).  There’s a reason I read the blogs I do—I want to be spurred on towards love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).  And heck, I do the exact same thing on my own blog (or I try to)!

However, with all the focus on areas where we need help and encouragement, I think we forget an important piece.  We don’t often acknowledge the ways where we are doing well, the things that do come easily to us

No matter who you are, there is something that you do well.  There are areas of motherhood and life where you don’t struggle, areas where you actually shine!

Maybe you are really good at keeping your house clean and organized.  Maybe you find joy in mopping.

Maybe you are naturally patient with your kids.

Maybe you find joy in throwing elaborate, Pinterest-worthy birthday parties.

Maybe you are thrifty.

Maybe you love inviting others into your home.

Maybe you are consistently in the Word and in prayer.

Maybe you do super-creative educational projects with your kids.

Maybe you are really good at selfies in the mirror aisle at Hobby Lobby.

No gift is too small.

Not as easy as it looks.

Do you get the idea? You excel in some way.  Yet, too often, we push those gifts aside or long for a different gift or dwell on the 318 ways we could be doing better.

Granted, I know that it wouldn’t be healthy (or fruitful) to spend all our time talking about the ways we do things well.  But I think there is value in sharing our gifts.

So, today, I want to hear from you.  Yes, really, you.

 What do you do well?

And if you share (and I hope you will), don’t make excuses or be apologetic about your gift.  Be proud of the gifts the Lord has given you.  I know it will encourage my heart to hear how you are uniquely gifted!

[P.S. If you can’t think of anything, ask someone who is close to you for some ideas.  I bet your friends could give you a few ideas.  We are often so critical of ourselves (and even of our own gifts) that we are blind to our strengths.]

 

 

3 Comments »

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 »