Monday, June 27, 2011

Was that really necessary?

I've been running on empty lately.

I'm super tired because nights are never full of sleep, and my sacred nap time is slowly going away. 

Being tired just stinks.

When I'm tired, I don't feel good about myself.  I make poor choices in food.  I have less energy to exercise.  Which then leads to the biggest problem -

When I'm tired, I have a hard time controlling my emotions.

So, last night when Lily woke me up at 1 AM deciding to wage an all out battle with me over sleeping in my bed, I just didn't, I just couldn't let her win.  I won.

It wasn't pretty.  I was definitely not a sweet, loving, kind, patient mommy at 1 AM.  I was a tired human who desperately wanted sleep.  So, I returned to my bed feeling slightly like a monster, and continued sleeping for a few more hours before I started my day.

Today, the kids and I went to the gym so I could do a half-hearted work out, we had a picnic and we went on a bike ride all before 11:30 AM.  By noon, I was ready for nap.  And 3 of the 4 kids were ready too.

Lily asked me to carry her to bed.  I obliged.  I laid her down and told both the girls that they needed to get a good rest because they were having a sleep over with their aunt tonight - and they wanted to be able to have enough energy to enjoy it.  Emma, who can't stand naps, quickly rolled over and fell asleep.

I walked down stairs excited to lay down on the couch and join my children in a few minutes of glorious shut eye. 

But here came Lily.

She had a ridiculous explanation as to why she was out of bed and then she asked me to carry her to bed...again.

I replied with something very loving like, "Walk your little tushie upstairs yourself."

Lily then looked at me, dug her heels into the ground, and said, "MOMMY!!!  CARRY ME!!!"

After we went back and forth, I threw that little girl over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes, stomped up the stairs like a mean ol' giant and tossed her on her bed and demanded she fall asleep (Yes, I win the "Stellar Mom of the Year Award) 

I walked downstairs, as I plopped myself into my chair and I felt this quiet voice speak...

"Was that really necessary?"


"She's just a little girl.  Was that really necessary?"

As I heard His quiet whisper, I was suddenly humbled...but then, I dug my feet into the ground and said, "BUT GOD!!!  If I carried her upstairs all loving and sweet, then she would know she could throw a tantrum like that every time and get what she wants.  If I carried her like she wanted me to, she would think I was wrapped around her finger.  If I didn't respond the way I did, she would think she was in control...."

"But Melissa, I love you.  Sometimes, I make you walk...but a lot of the time I carry you.  And even though I'm holding you, you are learning you aren't in control.  It's taking you awhile, though."


Tonight, as I drove away from my aunt's house waving goodbye to my precious children and Lily screaming, "I WUV YOU MOMMY!!!  I WUV YOU MOMMY!!!" the words I felt whispered to my heart today resonated with me.  She is just a little girl.  They are just little precious babies. 

I know they are 5,3 and almost 2.  I know there are times when boundaries have to be clearly in place, but soon, before I want it to happen, they won't be little anymore.

Soon, she won't want me to carry her to her bed.  Soon, she won't be living in my home.  Soon, she will have a strong willed daughter just like her that she calls me to share the crazy stories about.  Soon, she won't be a little girl anymore but a grown woman and I will think about today and long for the time when she just wanted to cuddle.

So, tonight I am going to bed and I'm going to sleep all night long (well, as long as Will decided to allow me) and in the morning I will be reunited with my three oldest children and I, running hopefully on a half tank by the morning, will embrace them and remember they are just little, precious, wonderful children...

And then she will dig her heels in and I will, hopefully, respond more...kind,gentle,patient...loving.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Discovering The Value Of Girlfriends

I never peeled an orange well until this year.

I didn't learn how to legitimately whistle until I was well in my twenties.

And I think I was about eleven when I realized that after people sneezed they were saying, "Bless You," and not, "Bleshschue" (a word from what I assumed was some foreign language.)

Sometimes, yes sometimes, I am a slow learner.

Something else that has taken me my entire life to fully understand is relationships.  Not with men (perhaps what you are thinking...which is a whole 'nother post!) but with women.

Oh women.

I've just never been a fan really of, well, us.

I mean throughout my childhood and teenage years I had a few good girl friends, but I always felt more comfortable around men.  I think my reasons were all very reasonable, and to this day, think I had a very logical point.

1.  Men don't gossip.
2.  Men don't back bite.
3.  Men aren't (generally) emotional.
4.  Men are pretty consistent.
5.  Men don't always need to talk.

(And yes, referring to my future post about understanding men, these aforementioned things are sometimes the things that drive me crazy about my man...)

Anyhow, but then I got married.  To a man.  And all of a sudden it seemed rather inappropriate to hang with my buddies.  I know some of you women can maintain healthy relationships with your man friends that have very staunch boundaries...however, we just decided to not even let a foot hold in our relationship - blah blah blah, moving on...

And then it was my husband and me.  All the time.  Every day.  Awesome.

No, really, I like him so it's good.  We maintained this little lifestyle of ours for awhile and then we decided to add a few more faces to our picture and then it was my husband and my four kids who don't speak intelligible English half the time and me.  All the time.  Every day. Awe-freaking-some.

And then I realized it, slow learner that I am, that I perhaps need to befriend other people who don't have my last name.  Shocking, I know.

I even recently read an article about how women benefit from spending time with other women:
"The speaker (head  of psychiatry at Stanford) said, among other things, that one of the best things that a man could do for his health is to be married to a woman whereas for a  woman, one of the best things she could do for her health was to nurture her relationships with her girlfriends."

Nurturing relationships with girlfriends.  Hmmm....  I quite honestly don't know what that actually looks like, I mean in an effective way.

Recently my dear friend, with four children of her own, came to visit.  I love her.  But I'm not sure how many sentences we were able to actually complete or complete thoughts we were able to communicate during our three hour visit.  Were we nurturing our friendship?  Probably to some degree...but really, quite honestly, it left me hungry for more.

And Facebook, well, I tend to have more meaningful conversations over Facebook than I do in person or on the phone - because you can't hear the screaming in person or be interrupted 21343923 times because someone threw something at someone else because someone did something to someone - but that still doesn't fill the void I have often times for genuine relationship.

So, what's the solution?

Invest in my relationships, make new relationships with girlfriends.  Perhaps without children so real words can be spoken and heard.  But it must happen.

How are you feeling?  Do you feel like you need to connect with other women?  Are you hungry for relationship with other women to tell you that "no, you aren't crazy" and "yes, that's perfectly normal?"  Do you wish you had friends that could tell you, "Yes, my kid TOTALLY did that" and "Yes, you really should call the doctor."  Perhaps you are ready for friends who can go deeper and say, "I will walk with you friend during this trial," or those ladies who can pray with you for clarity when things are so hazy and confusing.

If so, wanna have coffee?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grown up and Glamorous? Ok, maybe not yet...

I am turning 30 in 18 days.

18 days.

I'm actually quite excited.  30 seems grown up.  I will, by my own definition, finally be a grown up.

Which got me thinking...pondering...mulling over what that means.

WOMAN - for some reason that word has always freaked me out. I don't know why...but it always has.  Now, I remember when I stopped referring to Dave as a great "guy" and started referring to him as a great "man."  But me, a woman?  Really? 

When I was 23 and newly married, I would look at my friends who were in their early thirties and would imagine what it would be like to be that age.  They were so beautiful...and put together.  Not necessarily just physically, but inwardly as well. 

And now, I'm almost there.

I've spent the last 6, nearly 7 months, losing weight.  I've lost a little over 30 pounds.  That's fitting, eh?  Anyway, I'm thinner (which is great) but that's the end of the story.

I feel like inwardly, I'm doing well.  I think I'm mature (most days) and I'm constantly being pruned and shaped by God (every day) and then it stops there.

I was never a girly girl.  I was definitely a tom boy.  I hated dresses.  Now, I have two little girls - one who is the epitome of a girly girl and another one who likes to wear a tutu over her jeans and a baseball hat while covered in mud.  But they both look at me.  They both take notice when I do my hair (however I manage to do it) and when I actually put on make up (however I manage to do it) and they love when I do it. 

But seriously people, I'm lost.

I would like to be pretty.  I would like to feel feminine...especially now that I'm actually thin(ner).  But where do I start?
Ok, so we were making decorations for a bday party, but get the point

I know this isn't seventh grade health class, but I have no idea. 

What clothes? 

What hairstyle and color (and let's be practical here - I can not, nor will I spend more than 20 minutes on my is a threat to my home and all my neighbors if I am preoccupied for longer than that.)

What make up (and please don't sell me a brand...I don't even know what products to buy let alone a brand right now)

What shoes (and once again, be practical...I cannot run after four children down my street while flying a kite and molding a meat loaf in stilettos - although, that would be amazing)

Help a sistah out.

I want my daughters to look at me and I want to show them what beauty is, genuine modest strong beauty.  And I'm not thinking jeans and a t-shirt with my hair pulled back every day is shouting "FEMININE!!!" 

Oh, and please take note - I like to play with my children.  I like to get on the ground and play...all my jeans have holes in the knees...

Ok, ready - give me suggestions!!!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Father's Day worth celebrating

The baby was so tiny.

The numerous wires and IV's that were connected to him looped around his precious feet, as he laid there in peace amongst the beeps and constant chatter of the NICU.  I longed to hold him.  The fear that was inside of my mommy heart was excruciating, and the doctors had yet to give me solid hope that he would survive.

We walked out of the hospital, my heart limping. 

He was strong.

We pulled over to get something to eat, and I collapsed in tears at the side of the car.  "I just want my baby!  I want to know my baby is going to live!  Please God.  Please."

He wrapped his arms around me.  He was strong.

Soon, our precious baby started to improve.  Slowly, the IV's were removed and I was able to hold him.  I couldn't speak.  I soaked in the moment.  Aaah, thank you baby will be ok. 

I handed him the baby, who looked so small in his arms.

"Hey, little guy.  I'm your daddy.  I knew you were going to be ok - you scared your mommy though.  No more of that."

He was strong.

He walked into the house, with his hands full.  He was exhausted - mentally and physically.  He was greeted with the sounds of our children's voices.  I could tell all he wanted to do was sit, relax.

As he spoke to me about his day, that precious little baby who is a toddler now, heard his daddy's voice.  He ran yelling, "Daddy!  Daddy!  Hi!"  He ran straight into him wrapping his tiny little arms around his daddy's legs.

He loves his daddy.  I love his daddy.

We sat around the table eating dinner.  The noise level and the commotion were as normal, and then it was time to do our new dinner time ritual of "feeding our hearts" with a family devotional.

We read the words of the Lord, as we could see the excitement on our kid's faces as they were understanding Jesus in a whole new way.  We prayed and then excused our kids from the table.

My son looked at me and said, "Is that it Mommy?  My heart is still hungry!"

My heart was thrilled.

He loves his Father.

The desire of my heart, is that my children grow into adults feeling abundantly loved and protected by their daddy.  My hope, is that they always love their daddy as big as they love him now.  And the greatest yearning of mine as a parent is that their daddy and I can cultivate a love, a passion, a constant desire for more of their Father God.

May this Father's day be a day for all you wonderful, strong daddies to experience just a glimpse of what treasures you are to your families.

May this Father's day be a day where you take a moment to thank your daddies for their strength and consistent love.

And if today is a day that makes your heart hurt because you don't have a daddy who was strong and loving, or your daddy was taken too soon - please know that you have a Father who is stronger and more loving than any other. 

You are loved. 


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

So long good friend, so long...


Let's all take a deep breath...aaaahhhhhh.

Ya, it's 10 PM and I'm going on less than 2.5 hours of sleep - but hey, it's silent and I know that the minute my head touches my pillow, I will be getting up again...

Anyway, Lily lost her pacifier.

Ya, she's 3.5 - wanna say something about it?

No really...I know how bad it is that she still has it.  She has horrible speech because of it, her teeth are turning because of it, it is always getting lost and then we spend hours finding it.

Well, she lost it yesterday - for good.  We just can't find it.

I know what you are thinking.  This is good, about time, she's 3.5 for goodness sake!  Well, people, hold your horses - let me tell you something:

Lily is loud.  So amazingly loud that she amazes even the loudest of people.  And Lily is the middle child - demanding, outspoken, stubborn and focused.

Once, when she was 1.5, she lost her paci in the middle of the night and since I just had the baby (who I've come to accept is no longer a baby but a punk who is almost 2, agh!) I didn't get up to help her.  Ok, let's be honest...I was exhausted.  I didn't hear her.  She began screaming.

This was in August in the hottest time of the year, windows fully open, box fans on high and I didn't hear her.

Well, apparently someone did.

And apparently they thought someone was being killed.  So they called the cops.

I know, I know, babies cry.  Well, Lily's angry cry does sound like someone is being murdered, but still - hadn't my neighbors heard her do this in the middle of the day?

So the police came out and knocked on my door.  I didn't answer.  They left.  If I can't hear the murderous scream, you really think I can hear the door being knocked on? 

I guess she stopped, and then started up again.  They called the police.  Again!  Really people, come on.  We aren't the quiet family on the block if you know what I mean...we have 7 million children who are all in diapers...don't kids cry in the middle of the night where you come from?

Well, the police came again.  And knocked.  Again.  And I didn't hear them.  Again.

So, at six in the morning, my son who was 3 at the time decided it would be an awesome idea to sneak into the garage, open the garage door and start pulling in the Christmas decorations thinking they were in fact Christmas presents.  And of course, in that moment of parenting glory, the police pull up again.

I had warned him.  I had told him if he continued to sneak away, run off, the police were going to take him to baby jail.  And here they were.

He runs up the stairs screaming, "THEY ARE HERE!  THEY ARE HERE!!!"

"Who's here Luke?"

"The Powice Officawhs!"

In my post baby, sleep deprived state I walked down the stairs greeted by two rather unfriendly police officers.


I was then accused of being a neglectful parent.  I was informed that I was "lucky" I answered this time, otherwise they were going to knock down my door (I didn't know a crying baby was means to knocking on the door, but apparently it is) and I was instructed to no longer use our faithful little box fans to cool down our house.

I shut the door not exactly sure of what just happened, but one thing I knew for sure - that paci wasn't going anywhere.

It's amazing what happens when you are a good mom and accused of being a bad one...the anxiety that comes with that.

Anyway - I know it's been 2 years since then.  But she's still loud.  And it's summer.  And well, my excuses are a mile long...

Last night, she didn't fall asleep until 11 PM and was in my bed this morning at 5.  Tonight though, oh tonight, she was out like a light at 8.

She did inform me that she just knows the "paci fairy" took it and that she "doesn't wike the paci fairy...the paci fairy is dumb...the paci fairy needs to shub up (yes, all bad words in our home punishable by time on the naughty step, but that didn't stop her)"  She wanted me to call the paci fairy this morning so she could have a little 1 on 1, but for some odd reason, I could never connect with her.


Anyway, I think it's gone.  Forever.

Ahhh, a new phase of life.

And now, I'm going to bed...for at least ten minutes.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

True Encouragment, 30 Day Husband Challenge...

We've been married almost 8 years.

And here we are.

I love him, I do.  I am thankful for him, really, I am.

But he's been home for 4 months...unemployed.  I suppose it would be different had he been home for 4 months on a vacation and we were independently wealthy.  But add the stress of looking for a job, and waning finances - the last four months have seemed like 120 days.

Anyway, he finally got a job and it provides for our needs.  It in no way is his dream job - but it provides for our needs.  He, quite randomly, was also in the final three to get another job that would have fallen in that "dream job" category and he found out last night that he didn't get it.

He is rather unhappy about this.

I get it.

So there he is, in all his manly frustration - and instead of having words to encourage him or feeling sympathetic for him, I find myself being frustrated with him being, well, frustrated.

When I have said anything he snaps at me.  So, that adds a bit to my frustration.

But really, even in this, I know that there is a plan.  Right?  The economy sucks.  The job market sucks.  His career field really sucks.  But there is a season for everything...and this is the season for us to lean into God and rely on Him to provide above and beyond our wildest dreams - which He has...just not in ways that are comfortable or desirable...but He has provided.

I don't know.  I've always been the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" kind of person.  And Dave, well, he gets a little more angry at himself and can find himself staying there for a bit longer than I would personally like him to stay.  Darn it, why can't it always be about me?

Anyway, so tonight I googled, because that's what I do when I have deep intense relational questions (ok, not really, ok...nevermind, I actually do...ya, that's pathetic), on encouraging my husband.

I was surprised.  I found site after site after site on how to encourage my husband to do x,y and z for me.  I found sites on how to encourage my husband to be a certain way for me.  I found sites on how to manipulate my husband to get the results I wanted - just in the form of encouragement.

Ok, let's be honest.  There are definitely things I would like Dave to do for dishes or the laundry or changing a dirty diaper.  But come on now, really, do I have to manipulate him to get er' done?  Can't I just ask?

And as for being a certain way for me?  Well, romantic would be fabulous.  But he is who he is...and I married him knowing he's not a romantic, and he has stayed true to form.  Now I tell him what I want, and if I get it, he gets points in the romantic category.  No manipulation doesn't work anyway.

And results?  I think the only way to get results in a marriage is by effectively and honestly communicating.  If I try to glean results from my manipulation - then are they even real?  Will they even really last?

I didn't want to know how to encourage my hubby for selfish reasons - I just want to know how to best encourage my man when he's in a slump.  And I came across this:

30 Day Husband Challenge

So, I think I'll do it.  I think for 30 days, I will get over him not being exactly like me (thank God, really) and encourage him.  Our lives can look drastically different in 30 days than they do today, but in 30 days I will still be his wife, he will still be my hubby and I will still want to spend every single day of my life with him.  So, I think I can encourage him.

Here's how day 1 starts:
To refresh your memory, here's the 30-Day Encouragement Challenge for the next 30

You can't say anything negative about your husband . . . to your husband . . . or to anyone else, about your husband.
Say something that you admire or appreciate about your husband . . . to your
husband . . . and to someone else, about your husband!
To help you get started, have you ever thanked your husband for choosing you above
all other women? He found you attractive as a person, and appreciated you. Though
many circumstances in your marriage may have changed, let your husband know that
you are glad God led you together, and that you want to be a blessing to him for the rest
of your marriage. Let him know that he can trust you to be in his corner.
One of the best opportunities to express your gratitude is first thing in the morning. How
do you greet your husband each morning? Is he confident in your love? Give him a
"wake up call" that he'll never forget—a big "I love you" and an "I'm so glad I'm your wife!"

Wowsahs!  So, quite honestly I do not regularly let him know that I'm so glad I'm his wife.  I am though.  Really, I am.  But I don't let him know it, because, I guess I assume he knows it.  And not saying anything negative too him or about him - I suppose normally, this wouldn't be so hard, but when tensions are so high it's way easier to spout off negativity and frustration than thank you's and you're amazing's.

So tomorrow, I shall start this challenge. 

Want to join me?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Obedience and finally feasting!

I went to college to get my MRS degree.  I admit it.

But that day will forever stand out in my mind.  The day when I was walking to the grocery store from campus and God spoke loud and clear to my heart, "Melissa, right now I'm not calling you to be a mom and a wife.  Right now I'm calling you to speak for me."

So, I obeyed (which is rare for me...I wonder where my kids get it from.)

Then, a couple years later, another day that will forever stand out in my memory.  I was driving home from Nashville for the holidays before I flew to Phoenix to sign a speaking contract with a company when God spoke loud and clear to my heart, "Melissa, right now I'm not calling you to speak, I'm calling you to start a family."

So, I obeyed (please in no way think that this is standard operating procedure for me...for it definitely is not.)

Now, almost ten years later, in the most uncomfortable of times, God is speaking loud and clear to my heart, "Melissa, now I'm calling you to do both."

This time friends, I have not obeyed.  In fact, I have disobeyed.

Ok, my kids get it from me.  For certain.  Those little monkeys have definitely received the strong willed, stubborn, defiance from me.  Acceptance is half the battle, right?

I have disobeyed for a year now.  I have ignored God.  I have told Him and myself that I am quite busy enough let alone to take on something else.  When people have told me that my family is my ministry (which it is) I have allowed myself to accept that my family is my ONLY ministry.  I have volunteered in a ministry that I know I'm not called to so I can have one more reason as to why I'm too busy.

But I can't disobey any longer.

I am so hungry for God right now.  I'm desperate for Him in my life, in my family, in my friend's lives.  I want to see families healthy, broken and hurting families restored, children seeing the power of God's forgiveness and grace in action within their families.

So, I'm going to start putting myself out there to speak again the message that God has laid upon my heart.  Maybe no one will respond.  But at least I will know I obeyed- with a happy heart.

Recently, a friend posted a link to this blog post: One Habit That Changes A Family So, I clicked and read while my kids ran around the house screaming, laughing, fighting, and loving each other.  I thought it was nice.  Very well written.  The words she wrote nestled in my heart and then on Sunday I went to church where the pastor preached on man not surviving on bread alone but by the word of God.  I realized, that despite my great efforts, I was hungry.  I've been snacking on the word of God, but not feasting on it.  Instead, I've been feasting on other things like my desire for control, my fear, my laziness.

That night at dinner, after talking with Dave about it, I informed my kids that after dinner from now on - after we had fed our bodies, we were going to be feeding our hearts by reading the bible.  Now, that looks like a child's devotional bible for our family right now, but it's the word of the Lord none the less.  After the first night of devotions, I shut the bible and excused the kids from the table.  Luke looked at me and said, "That's it Mommy?  My heart is still hungry for more."

Is your heart hungry for more?  Is God calling you to do something that you've been resisting?  If it is, I leave you with this post from my pastor Jim Putman this last week on Facebook:

What if we lived scripture out for the next year?  What if we lived out what we said we believed in every part of our lives...what would happen after one year...what would we have experienced what would our world look like if we lived out what we said we believed...oh I know we couldn't perfectly, but what if our heart was to read and do by God's power?

So, I am compelled to see what happens.  I am compelled to throw myself at the feet of Christ and allow myself to be an offering to Him - and see what happens.

Will you join me?

Is your heart hungry for more?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

It's just not FAIR!!!

In our living room sits our computer.

I love it.  I hate it.  It sucks my time away.  It distracts me.  It gives me an outlet.  It makes me feel like I have friends other than my 4 children I am with all day (really, I'm not that pathetic, but seriously...there are days.)  Anyway, since it sits there in its ugliness, I constantly have a picture of our kids on it to make it a little  bit more desirable to the eyes.

I change the picture on the screen every once in awhile so as to not make the kids feel like I love one more than the other...but, really, on the list of priorities - this is not on the top of priorities.

This morning, Luke was up first (as usual), and when I came down he had already made breakfast.  This morning, it was ice cream cones filled with chocolate syrup and honey.


Sorry, I didn't take a picture - but at 6 AM, my response was less than, um, loving.

Anyway, I sat down at the computer to do my early before the kids all wake up email check when Luke walked over to me and said, "Now the picture is Emma.  Before it was you and Lily.  Then Will.  What, are you trying to hurt my feelings or something?"

OH NO!!!!!!!!

So, I instantly grabbed my memory card and switched the pic.

Now the computer has this precious picture gracing its screen.

I have now entered the land of fair.  I think that I'm pretty fortunate to just now be entering into this grueling, tedious land.  But regardless, I am here.

As we all know, and I'm sure most of you are with me, but I want the world my kids live in to be fair.  I want everything to be easy and simple and cut perfectly down the middle every single time.  But life is just not that way. 

Life is messy and life is not fair.  Crap.

I'm his hero...I'm all of their heroes.  They draw pictures of me and them - I mean, really, I'm right up there with Spiderman...and ya, I'm pretty sure that's how I looked in my workout clothes from the other day.

I should be able to keep it fair all the time for them - well, in theory.

But I don't.

I remember taking a parenting class when the twins were two and this whole fair thing was a topic of conversation, but my kids were different from all other kids, and things being fair was just not an issue nor would it ever be.  Seriously, they were two...lay off.

Well, now I'm there.  My kids, shocking I know, are not different from all other kids.  And fair matters.

So, how do you teach your kids the unfortunate reality of life just not being fair?

I promise this time, I will take notes.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let's be honest aren't really perfect, are you?

I love when in all my motherly wisdom I decide we MUST go to the store at 4:45.

As I walk through the parking lot with all four of my monkeys in tow, I always begin regretting it - but turning around before we even venture into the store would prove to be more disastrous so I continue on.

Yesterday was one such day when, because I was able to buy a 16 pound turkey for 3 bucks (score!) I needed to cook a Thanksgiving dinner in June and hence go to the store at 4:45 (yes, I tend to procrastinate) and buy cranberry sauce and stuffing (yes, Stovetop folks - let's remember, I am the one cooking here.)

I'm not domestic people. Not. One. Bit.  But since I found the easiest turkey recipe ever on line I was feeling confident that I could in fact make (or open the box) three things with it.

So there I was.  My kids are entering that, "I'm 5, I no longer need to ride in a cart being squished like sardines simply to make your life easier" phase.  Which then means, that most of the time, I can't convince my 3 year old to ride either - because I'm certain she is convinced she is 5 as well.  So, one normal cart with Will along for the ride...Luke and Emma holding on to the cart on either side, and Lily deciding she must change positions every few seconds just to shake it up.  Normally, it wouldn't be such a big deal at our regular 8:30 in the morning shopping time...but when everyone and their 2nd cousin twice removed is at the store getting stuff for dinner, it's a big deal.

We were two carts (at least) wide trying to cram through already small aisles.  Awesome.

Ya, so I was overwhelmed a tad.  A little snippy with my dear sweet children, I admit.  And no, shockingly, I wasn't being all too joyful.

And then it happened.  As it always does when you don't want it to.  I ran into a long time friend.  Who has one precious little girl and is pregnant with her second.  She was dolled up.  I was still in my work out clothes from the morning.  Her hubby was with her as they strolled down the aisles.  My hubby was at work (PRAISE THE LIVING GOD!!!!!!) as my kids fought over who should be the pretend grown up and push the cart all by themselves. Fabulous.

My friend giggled at me and said, "Oh, look at your joyful jungle."

In my mind I thought, "jungle it may be, joyful - ha! not right now!"  But I smiled because really, it must have looked quite funny as I had to walk with my butt sticking out so my child in front of me would not be slammed into the cart.

She could tell I was overwhelmed - maybe not the extent as to which I was overwhelmed, but she could tell.

There was no hiding it, so I embraced it and yep, now she is quite aware if you have four kids in 3 years, you too could be in your workout clothes from 8 in the morning at 5 at night with no make up walking around the store with your butt sticking out.  It's the cool thing friends.

Anyway, it made me think of a conversation I had with a friend recently about motherhood...oh, motherhood.  Anyway, she has two little boys who are quite certainly the full and total definition of what a boy is.  Her boys are 15 months apart and she is busy.  Her boys are definitely not placid and serene - instead they are full of energy and everything must be conquered and climbed.  And sometimes, shockingly, she is overwhelmed.

But there are those moms.  You know the moms.  The ones who, when you talk to them about motherhood, they claim that every moment is wonderful and like angels singing in the background.  They are always dressed wonderfully, never have some unknown substance on them and their kids must be on some sort of drug because they are so quiet and calm.  You know, those moms?  The ones who say their babies sleep through the night at 2 weeks old and are potty trained by the time they are 6 months old.  Ya, those moms.  They are my favorite. 

Anyway, my friend asked me after a very long frustrating day with her boys, "Do you think that perhaps those moms' lives are perfect?  I mean, do you think maybe their lives are as wonderful as they say they are?"

My response?

They are lying.

I can sit here behind my computer if I choose, and make you all believe that I am mother of the year and that my life is simply a jungle because of my children, and definitely not because of how I fit into the grand scheme of things.  I can lead you to believe, though it would be an all out downright lie, that my children are always well behaved, my house is always clean and that we constantly live in a house where we sing joyful noises unto the Lord all the time.  I could.  But I won't.

I won't for a couple reasons.  Here we go:

1.  Moms need to know that being a mom is hard.  Really, it is.  And it is okay to admit that you think it's hard too.  I think often times we try to make it sound like it is easy, because if it's easy then maybe we are somehow more successful or more worthy or whatever.  But let's embrace the fact that being a mom - being a good mom takes work. 

2.  Work isn't always fun.  Before I had kids (when I knew everything about parenting) I thought it would be so much fun to be a mommy.  When we were struggling with infertility and my mom friends would complain about their mornings or their kids, I would get so angry.  How could they complain, be frustrated with, not want to spend every waking moment with their kids?  I just didn't get it.  Now I do.

I remember when my twins were 9 months old we switched pediatricians and our new pediatrician had twins as well that were the same age.  And I sat in his office and said, "I feel so guilty."  He said, "Why would you feel guilty?  You are doing such a great job."  And I responded, "I wanted my babies so bad, and now, I just want a break so bad.  I'm so tired.  I shouldn't feel this way."  And he, in all of his pediatrician glory, said, "Melissa, you are doing great.  I want a break too.  I think this is how we are supposed to feel - but no one admits it.  It's nice to hear that someone feels the way I do."

3.  I think parenting is the closest we get to understanding the love God has for us, his children.  And I know, I don't know about you, but I know that God gets frustrated with me.  I'm sure that God probably would love to bang his figurative forehead against the wall due to my slow learning and stubbornness.  I know that I hurt him sometimes with my actions, disappoint him often with my sin, make him proud sometimes with my (very few) growth spurts - and yet, God endures with me, because He is God.  And if God can get frustrated with me - then I think it's reasonable to say that we too will get frustrated with our kids.  I love my children with my whole being, but sometimes folks, I need to lock myself away from them to get sanity.

4.  It takes a village.  I used to think that meant just to raise a child.  But now, more than ever, I strongly believe that it also means it takes a village to support one another.  Sometimes we need a friend, a support system, who can encourage us when we need encouragement.  A friend who can reassure us that just because our baby is six months old, or a year or whatever and not sleeping through the night we are not a failure.  We need those people in our lives to gently remind us that our value and worth do not rest in if our children are potty trained at 12 months or 36 months.  And if we aren't honest, how can we be encouraged the way that we desperately need to?

My friend who saw me last night in the store was aware that it was crazy for me.  But she encouraged me - and reminded me that even though it was crazy, I am blessed.

We are blessed to be mommies - it's work to be mommies - let's be honest mommies and encourage each other.

Oh, and yes, my turkey dinner was ahhhmazing!  Quite proud of myself actually :)

Monday, June 6, 2011

"No Texting While Parenting" - it should be a law.

I'm a mama bear.

Ok, I'm a mama grizzly bear.

And sometimes, my, um, grizzliness (I know it's not a word...come on people) gets the best of me.  Saturday mama grizzly bear showed up with a vengeance and there was no stopping it. 

Each year a local town has a carnival to celebrate their community and it starts with a parade.  I personally can take it or leave it when it comes to parades, but my kids are serious parade goers and so there was no stopping us...we had to go.

I took our little blanket and spread it out, all four kids sitting ever so nicely on it.  We had just been to the farmers market and I bought a big ol' bag of kettle corn for them to eat at the parade, and so my kids were in heaven.  Then the MC began to talk.

"Parents, please keep your children behind the yellow line - we do not want them to get hurt."  My kids heard this and asked me if I had put our blanket behind the yellow line.  They did not want to break the rules. 


I reassured them that we were right where we were supposed to be.  And then parade began.

About twenty feet down from us was another family.  A mom, three boys, and 2 girls.  I don't know if they all actually belonged to her, but they were all with her - therefore being her responsibility.  Right?  Anyway, the mom lounged in her folding chair next to one of the girls and began to text.

Then the candy began to get thrown out.  Her kids, which she was completely oblivious to, had not only crossed the yellow line, but were practically standing IN the parade.  They were standing so close to the floats that the people were handing the candy right to them - no throwing was needed.  Then the floats would go a few more feet, and throw out candy to my kids who dared not leave their blanket - because the MC told them not to (and I reaffirmed his message :) ) 

But soon, the boys from down the way, started taking their candy and then running in front of my children to get the candy that was thrown to them.

Not cool folks.  Not cool.

After probably the second time, I looked at the oldest boy who was about 10 or 11 and said, "That's lousy dude.  Come on, just be happy with your own candy."  He looked at me as if he had never heard anyone tell him that was acting like a punk.  Nice to meet you son.

But apparently since I must have been the first person who ever opposed his behavior and his mom or guardian or whatever she was could have cared less about them and obviously more about her phone - he didn't feel he needed to listen.

I suppose if I were him, I would think the same way.

I sat there trying to enjoy the excruciatingly long parade getting angrier and angrier at these little punks of kids when mama grizzly bared her claws.

My little Emma looked at me and said, "Mommy, I wish they would throw out suckers.  I really want a sucker."


Within seconds of her saying that a float threw a huge sucker right to her.  She was thrilled.  She bent over, picked it up in her newly 5 year old hand and then the punk 10 year old comes over and GRABS it right out of her hand. 


I was angry.  I was livid.  I was so mad I wanted to walk over to that stupid lady and grab her phone out of her hand and throw it under a float.

And then they did it again.  They ran in front of my kids and took their candy again.  I lost it.


Of course.  The mom who is trying to teach her kids to respect authority, be kind, be courteous, be considerate to others - the mom who is trying to do the right thing - ends up looking like the crazy maniac.  Of course.

Everyone around us heard me yell at the kid.  Lovely.

But you know who didn't hear me yell at the kid?

The mom.

She was busy.  Texting.

Dave sent me away - essentially, he put me on time out (which I obviously needed, because I was about to go to jail for punching a mom in the face) and I went and sat behind everyone and tried to cool down.

And then I figured it out.  I don't want my kids to get hurt.  Obviously.  But more than that, I don't want them to suffer injustice...whether it's over candy or their sex or their gender.  I want their lives to be fair.  Which, reasonably, their lives just wont be because that's how life is.  Life is just not fair.  They will learn it eventually - and maybe in the grand scheme of things, I should have calmed myself down and let that be a gentle first lesson in the unfairness of life.  My kids were being so good, and although they were getting plenty of candy, the kids down the way who were being punks and jerks were getting so much more.

I guess the question isn't why do bad things happen to good people, it's more of why good things happen to bad people.  And I was angry.

Also, I was angry at the mom because I get it.  It would be so easy to be that mom.  You know who I'm talking about.  The mom who takes her kids to the park and sits on a bench and talks on her phone the entire time, oblivious to her kids needing her help across the monkey bars or her kids throwing sand in my kids faces, or her kids going the wrong way up the slides so no other kids can come down.  The mom who uses public venues as a way of temporary escape, you know...that mom?  I would love to take my kids to the parade, to the park, to the store and just tune out and go in la la land while my kids did whatever they wanted.  Simply, because it's easier. 

But for the sake of the people who have to deal with your children because you are not, get off your STUPID CELL PHONE!!!!!  Pay attention to your kids.  Show them that they are important.  Show them that you care enough about them that you wont allow them to be punks.  Show the people around you that you want to raise decent contributing members to society.

There are so many distractions every day, trying to vie for our time.  We are constantly plugged in if we want to be...yet, so sadly unplugged from our kids.

Please put down your phones for awhile next time you take your kids to the park.  Turn off Facebook long enough to help your kid build a sand castle or get across the monkey bars.  Stop texting long enough to teach your kids a lesson in being considerate of others. 

Being a parent is hard, but please, at least try.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Please. Please? PLEASE!!!

"Mommy!  Mommy!  Help me with my jammies!"
I rolled over, looking into my three year old little girl's eyes standing on the side of my bed.

My day had begun.

I proceeded to stumble down the stairs where my husband and two boys were watching cartoons (Luke, my 5 year old, knows that on church day Mr. Rogers comes on at 6 AM...he always overshoots by an hour and today was up at 5.)  I hadn't even sat down on the couch to fully wake up when the barrage of requests started to pour in.

"Mommy, I'm hungry,"
"Mommy, I'm thirsty."
"Mommy, I want a new shirt."
"Mommy, I want my toy."
"Mommy, can we go to the park today?"

As a mommy of four little ones who are all very demanding children who have no problem deciding on what they want - I'm constantly being asked to do things and for things.  Most of the time I can handle it, but today, for some reason, maybe lack of sleep, my tolerance was extra low.

I finally had enough shortly after dinner had commenced and I was being asked for what I felt was ridiculous things, when I decided I had had enough.  I walked upstairs to my room, locked the door, and left the jungle for a bit....well, I didn't leave the jungle...I just hid away in my cave.

In the muted noise of my home, I began to think.  I was quickly reminded of how blessed I am to have the noise I have.  There are some women who desperately want to hear the noise in my home and for some reason, never get to.  There are other mommies who just lost the noise in their home due to the tornadoes, and one family who just lost their two precious boys in Piedmont, Oklahoma.  Their loss has been at the forefront of my mind for the last week or so and has constantly offered me perspective when I've found myself getting frustrated and ungrateful.

And then, with my heart and mind in a bit more grateful of perspective, I thought about how I am just like my kids with my Father.

It seems as if when I pray, especially over the last 4 months, I'm a wanting, asking, whining child.  I feel like I'm constantly asking God for stuff...begging in fact.  I wonder if God gets as irritated by that as I do.

I found myself thinking today, "Do my kids even know how to just be with me or am I just a caretaker and getter and giver of all things?  Can they just be with me, or do I constantly have to be fulfilling some need they have?"  I wonder if God thinks that about me.

Do I ever just thank God for being God?

Do I ever just sit with God, in silence, enjoying the fact that I'm in His presence?  Or do I always have to ruin it by constantly requesting stuff?

Well, I'm off to bed - exhausted...but just some food for thought.