A Life Stirred

Ten on Ten :: The Summer Edition

It’s finally summer here in the far north.  Which naturally means it’s almost fall.  (I know I should be sad, but I’m not…I love fall!!)

Anyway, it’s been a while since I’ve done a Ten on Ten.  Largely because I completely missed July 10th.  Like completely missed it.

But I’m here now, and that’s what really matters, right?

Yesterday we went on a day trip to a lake to catch up with some friends.  (Who moved far, far away a few years ago…boo.)

Of course, a simple day trip requires no less than 47 bags.

Of course, a simple day trip requires no less than 47 bags.

I didn't know this place existed until I was 22, and now I'm totally hooked!

No road trip is complete without a quick stop to Tim’s!

"Holy, holy, holy!"  The chorus of her favorite song.

“Holy, holy, holy!” The chorus of her favorite song.

No road trip would be complete without a random bathroom stop.

No road trip would be complete without a random bathroom stop.

Jo and her Rachel.  It took Jo a few minutes to warm up and then she wouldn't leave her side.

Jo and her Rachel. It took Jo a few minutes to warm up and then she wouldn’t leave her 

Summer sister sweetness.

Summer sister sweetness.

Aaaaand we're back home.  Hello, laundry.

Aaaaand we’re back home. Hello, laundry.

We skipped naps today.  Some of us had a hard time making it through the afternoon.

We skipped naps today. Some of us had a hard time making it through the afternoon.

Pre-dinner playing.

Pre-dinner playing.

I know, I know.  I’m one picture short.  I’ve got no excuse.  Except that it was a beautiful day with some beautiful friends.  And that’s all the excuse I need.

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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!

 

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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.

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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…”

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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

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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?

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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!

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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

 

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What do you do well? :: A Follow-Up

So, last week, I asked a question:  What do you do well?

I got one response.  One.

<insert cricket chirping>

Now, the number of comments isn’t generally important to me, but it got me wondering why so few responded.

Maybe no one responded because it was Friday afternoon, and who has the time to comment on a blog?!

Or maybe no one responded because it is unnatural to talk about where we excel.  It feels prideful and gloat-y.

Or maybe no one responded because it’s hard to think of anything we do well.  We can easily list off about 27 things we need to work on, but where we are gifted is harder.

Suppose if I asked a different question.  What do your kids do well?  How has the Lord uniquely gifted and wired them?

Don't even get me started on the awesome-ness of these two!

Don’t even get me started on the awesome-ness of these two!

That’s a lot easier, right?

I bet you could go on and on about your kiddos’ gifts.  Even without much thought.  Even on a Friday.

So, God is our Heavenly Father.  He loves us as His child.  He sees us flaws and all.  He sees the “silly” little things that we’re good at (and that bring us joy), and He sees the ways He’s uniquely equipped us to serve Him.

I guess my question has two parts now.  (Drat.  I wanted to make this easier to answer.  It’s just getting harder.)

1.  What is one “silly” thing that you’re good at?

2.  What is one way you are uniquely wired to serve God?

I’ll start.  That only seems fair.

I am a good organizer.  I love my planner (like really, really love it!).  I can knock out a to-do list like a boss.  It’s a gift.

Sometimes I even take pictures of my to do lists.  For posterity.

Sometimes I even take pictures of my to do lists. That’s not weird, is it?

Obviously, it’s harder to see how God has equipped me to serve Him.  Because generally I feel so unqualified.  But I think God has given me an ability to encourage others.  It brings me such joy to be able to speak encouragement to those around me and to stir their affections for God.

Ok, your turn!  Don’t be shy.

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Three Years Ago…

Three years ago, we became a family of three.

Welcome, Joanna Joy.

Welcome, Joanna Joy.

My first motherly thought was, “Whoa!  Look at those cheeks!!”

One week old.  Best cheeks ever!

(One week old)

And now, we have a three year old on our hands.  I’m praying she doesn’t become a threenager, but everyone keeps telling me three is worse than two.  So encouraging….or not.

I think I’ve said it at almost every stage, but I LOVE this age!  Personality is exploding; language is hitting a useful and entertaining point; creativity and imagination are a part of play now.  It’s just awesome.

So, Joanna, what are you like at three?  I’m sure you’ll want to know someday…and if you don’t, I’m sure I’ll tell you anyway.

You have a very thankful nature.  For example, you’ll ask, “Who gave me my boots?”  When you find out we gave you the boots, you say, “Oh, thank you, Mommy, for my boots!”  I love your thankful heart.

You are the best big sister.  You are (generally) so patient and loving with Claire.  You love to play with her.  You always look out for her.  My favorite is when you girls hold hands and walk together.

You care about your friends, and I think you have a special ability to befriend those who might be a bit harder to love.

You are so excited to be three because it means you’ll get to be in Cubbies (an Awana class).  You love reading the Bible and singing songs about God.  I can’t wait to see how your relationship with God continues to grow.

Happy birthday, JoJo.

That seems like a lot of candles for someone so little.

That seems like a lot of candles for someone so little.

She didn't even spit on the cake!

She didn’t even spit on the cake!

Who needs a fork?!

Who needs a fork?!

Present-time!

Present-time!

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