Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Finding the Balance as a Mom

I often get asked how I "do it all", as if I have it all together. I've been wondering why people think that I probably do...and then it hit me. I put my best foot forward online. Oh sure, I post the occasional picture of my laundry pile or a cluttered counter, but for the most part I post statuses about funny things my kids say, or pictures of them smiling and being goofy...like they do that all day long. I really enjoy looking at my friends' posts about those things too!
They say the first step is admitting it, and it's probably glaringly obvious to everyone around me already, but here goes....I like to be busy. I know I say that my dream day would include having the whole spotless house to myself for a whole day so I could nap, eat and watch TV all day long. I would like it I'm sure, but I have way too short of an attention span to enjoy being bored for very long. I'm sure most of my fellow moms can relate!
On any given day, my list of to do's includes, but is not limited to:
Feeding my family
Doing the dishes
Tidying the house
Doing laundry
Sewing for LLB
Paying bills or taking care of assorted paperwork
Filling out forms for various kid related activities
Buying groceries (that one isn't daily, but it feels like it!)
Tending to my garden
Spending quality time with the girls
Spending quality time with Daniel
Sleep (like, who really needs it anyways, amiright?)

So how do I do it all? The answer isn't profound. It's pretty average actually. I'M pretty average. Just an average mom who likes to stay busy and has trouble knowing when to say no. Something always gets missed. Some days it's a big thing, like I'll leave the huge laundry pile on the couch and the dishes in the sink overnight so I can sew. Some days I get halfway to town and realize I hadn't even looked in the mirror that morning, let alone put on any makeup.
More than a few times I've gotten to town and realized that one of the kids got in the vehicle with no shoes, or a sweater, or without their hair brushed.
Sometimes my husband starts to feel a bit neglected.
Sometimes my kids do too....I can tell because they start to get super cranky and irrational. I've learned to take that as my cue to leave the rest of the stuff and spend time with them instead.
Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by everything in not getting done that I freeze. When that happens I like to call Daniel. He usually can't come home to help me, but he is one of the calmest people I know and helps clear the clutter from my mind so I can see the big picture. "It is what it is" is his motto, and I'm so blessed to have him to help balance me.
I always feel so under qualified to write "how-to" posts or advice giving posts. I have my little tricks for getting things done, but none of it is profound.
And so, this is more of an encouragement post. An "I can sympathize with you, busy mom, because I'm right there too" post.
I'm right here, in the midst of it all. In a whirlwind of dirty diapers, dirty dishes, muddy kids and sibling rivalry, I somehow muddle through each day. On the best of days I remind myself to take some deep breaths, and focus on one thing at a time. On the worst of days I lay on my living room floor and call my husband to bring pizza and a hug. It doesn't all get done every day, no siree!

You know those posts I was talking about at the beginning though? The happy kids or funny quotes...they are not the WHOLE picture, but they are definitely there. As much as I like to be busy, I like happiness. I enjoy nothing more than a goofy moment with my husband or kids. I think it's inevitable that we will all feel overwhelmed, which makes it that much more important that we allow ourselves the grace to laugh and enjoy the craziness when we can :)
So here's a hug, fellow moms...and an encouragement to allow yourself a bit of grace today. It is what it is :)

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Saturday Morning

Don't you just love Saturday mornings? The school week is finally over...getting up at the crack of dawn, making lunches, rushing out the door...that's all done for a couple of days.
All the kids are as excited as you are to sleep in, and wake up at a wonderfully refreshing time of morning to soft angel kisses. If all has gone to plan, one of the older kids already has a cup of coffee waiting for you upon waking. Your hisband has to work today, but that's ok because the kids are excited to make today as easy as possible for you. You casually make a delicious brunch while giggling with your well rested and helpful children. After a nutritious meal, you sit in your favorite comfy chair in the living room that is still neat and tidy from the night before. You sip your coffee in the sunshine while the kids play happily with each other...it's so nice to have the older kids out of school so they can play with the littles and give you a break :). Aaaaah, Saturday morning.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Sadie's One!

One year ago today I was snuggling my precious newborn, still in awe that we now had five girls. She was so precious, and such a calm baby. I kept expecting that to end once she had recovered from birth, but she continued to be a content baby for a couple of months. It didn't take long until I learned her "hungry" cues, so I could feed her before she cried. Once she was fed, she was happy to look around and take everything in.
I'm not sure exactly when things changed, but she quickly decided she needed to go everywhere, so she learned to roll, sit and crawl ASAP. Then she walked at 8.5 months...by 11 months she was running away from me and laughing when I told her to come back.
People who know me know that I carry her in a Tula baby carrier often...or as it's more accurately referred to, "the containment device". It's quickly become 100% necessary to have her in it when we are in public. If I just hold her, she squirms to get down, then runs. If I sit her in a cart or stroller, same thing. But for some glorious reason, she has accepted the fact that there is no escape from the tula, and she happily rides in it most of the time. Plus I love the fact that i can kiss her anytime I want when she's in it :)
Sadie's crazy need to run everywhere is just one of the things I've learned about her this year. This kid has one dynamic personality, and we are all having the most fun with her!
Here's what is currently cool in Sadie's world:

-breastfeeding is da bomb, and she still prefers it to solid food most of the time.
-on the subject of food, if we put things in her highchair tray that she doesn't want, or if she's done, she'll look me in the eye with an expressionless face as she drops it onto the floor.
-BUT, when I finally give up trying to feed her and let her out of her highchair, she beelines it under the highchair and eats a high percentage of what she dropped. I swear I don't purposely feed her on the floor 😝
-foods she won't eat: crackers, crisps, yogurt, most bread, applesauce or any other pureed fruit.
Foods she will eat: berries, noodles, smoothies (I guess these are different than pureed fruit because they come through a straw?), cucumber, oranges, dirt from the garden, random things she finds on the floor...whether or not they are actually food.
-if I am sitting on the couch, she is happy to play by herself or with one of her sisters. She'll even leave the living room and go to the bedrooms.
-however, if I try and get off the couch to be productive in any way, she shuts that down quick!
-lately her greatest goal in life is to get outside. This girl knows instinctively that we need to take advantage of the warm weather while it's here, and she is determined!
-she just learned how to give lip smacking kisses, and it's the sweetest thing ever!
-when she's cranky for me, she's almost guaranteed to cheer up as soon as Daniel or Addison walks in the room
-current words that she doesn't say perfectly, but uses in context....mom, dad, milk, ball, up...and she chatters lots to get across everything else she's trying to say.
-she loves to climb, and I am crossing my fingers that she doesn't learn how to get on the counters anytime soon, although this week she's been lifting a foot to the drawer handles, so....
-this week she also learned how to do the plank when I try to put her in her car seat, which is super fun!
-she doesn't understand why she needs to wear a diaper. It's so unfair, mom!

So, as we enter the toddler years with her, I'm preparing to pretty much never get to sit still. Thanks for adding so much fun to our crazy family Sadie! This next part is going to be great :)

Thursday, May 07, 2015

What Makes You a Great Mom?

I think it goes without saying that the internet is overwhelming. This is true for almost every subject, but for the sake of this post, I'm going to focus on how the internet is overwhelming for moms.
You don't have to spend much time online to see it all...there is an article for each possible parenting style under the sun, and an article against each possible parenting style under the sun. In the span of 15 minutes we can be brought to tears by a heartwarming post about the magic of parenthood, riddled with guilt over the food we do or don't feed our families, and rage over an overzealous "judgy" opinion based article. It doesn't take long before we are questioning everything.
"Am I a bad mom if I let her fuss in her bed for a few minutes?"
"Am I a bad mom if I don't pull over the car the minute they cry?"
"Am I bad mom if I don't play with my baby all day?"
"Am I a bad mom if I .....?"
You can fill in that blank with a thousand different options. I've seen more of that question than I can count.
I've thought that question more than I can count.
I'm not blaming the internet for me feeling that way. No, I think moms have probably felt that way since the beginning of time. It's one of the "hazards" of learning on the job. We have mom instincts, but we aren't always sure we can trust them. Why don't kids come with a manual again?!
The power of the internet in all of this is that it draws those feelings out and brings them to the surface. On one hand it's great. There is a comforting relief in knowing other moms are dealing with the same toddler issues as you. There's relief in knowing other moms have had the same emotions flood through them.
On the other hand, we know a LOT about other parents. We learn about parenting styles and techniques that we had never heard of. We see increasingly imaginative ways of dealing with everything....from potty training, to chores, to discipline.
Let me solidify my point by saying this: I know I'm not alone when I say that I feel overwhelmed by all of this. At first I'm just interested and entertained, but as time goes on, if I'm not careful, I find myself feeling worn down and a little bit like a failure, because I can't keep up on learning about all of these things I should be doing, let alone doing them!
If I stop for a second though (OK, it might take more than a second), and strip all of that away; all of the opinionated articles, all of the feelings that I have associated with reading them and how it relates to me as a mom. If I take all of that away, what am I left with? I'm left with me. I'm left with my husband, and I'm left with my girls. It's just us, and the love we have for each other. The feelings I'm left with when I take away all of the outside voices vying for my attention are a heart squeezing love for them, a fierce protectiveness, and if I'm being completely honest, a heaviness. The heaviness is a mixture of those "since the beginning of time" feelings I was talking about earlier. Fear and worry about raising our girls in today's society. An anxiousness about them gaining independence and venturing out into the world. It's the kind of heaviness that is only relieved when I lay it at the feet of God and pour my mom heart out to him. I have to continually do that though, because the heaviness creeps in often.
My point in all of this is that no matter how often I think "does blank make me a bad mom?" Deep down I know the answer.

The answer is that I am a good mom, and what makes me a good mom is that I love my daughters.

That's it! All the rest of the little things fall by the wayside. The rest is a mixture of happy moments and sad moments, proud moments and moments of regret. The moments of regret usually translate into teachable moments...again, part of learning on the job.
Being a mom is a challenge, and it's a challenge that I've seen so many women handle beautifully, even though every one of us handles it a bit differently.
It's easy to feel like we should maybe be hard on ourselves as moms, so I'm issuing a challenge this Mother's Day. Think about what makes you a good mom. Try and think big picture. Try and see yourself through your children's eyes. What are the most important things to them? What will they remember most about you when they are grown up?
Who are you being right now that makes you a great mom?

Saturday, May 02, 2015

After School Gingersnaps

There is no "snap" in these gingersnaps! I tried them for the first time about 5 years ago at a friend's house and immediately got the recipe. Since then, it's the only gingersnap recipe I use, and by far the most requested cookie  in our home. If I don't want to be making them three times a week, I have to at least double it.
They turn out perfect almost every time...except when I don't hear my stove's quiet buzzer and leave them in too long, that is! They are so incredibly chewy and have great flavor. I made a double batch today, so I thought I would share the recipe here so you can make some too!

After school Gingersnaps

3/4 C butter
1C white sugar
1C brown sugar
1/4 C molasses
1 egg
2 1/2 C flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice or ginger

Cream butter and sugars together. Add molasses and egg and mix. Add dry ingredients and mix. Drop by Tbsp full on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 6-8 minutes. The edges and top will just be starting to turn brown when they are done....don't overcook or you will compromise the chewiness :) let them cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Photos From Our Phoenix Vacation

A couple of weeks ago, Daniel and I took the girls down to Phoenix to visit his parents. I will admit that I dreaded the traveling part of the trips for weeks before hand...packing for all 7 of us and spending the day in airports is so much work! As usual, I worried for nothing. I did my part by packing as organized as I could and the rest of our traveling success was due to Daniel and his amazing ability to lead us all through the airport like a boss. Seriously, he is amazing! And the girls were so good. On the way home we had an overnight flight, complete with a short 5 hour stay at a hotel between flights. I expected at least one melt down with that crazy schedule, but every single one of them handled it like a champ!

As for the trip itself, it was full of swimming, sunshine, good food, and fun activities with family! I won't say too much more about it, but here's a bunch of photos that I took. I'm not very good at taking photos of everything though....there were lots of times when I forgot my phone at the condo!

Monday, April 20, 2015

The Little Kitty...A Story By Myka

This evening Myka handed me this story that she wrote at school. I was happy to see it of course, and marveled at the pictures with her. But then she told me what the words said. At second look I realized that even though it looked random, she actually sounded out and spelled the words exactly how she says them (D for "the" for instance). I had to post it here as a keepsake :)
The first page says: "The Little Kitty"
The middle she just told me, so I'll try and relay it accurately.
"The kitty was little, so he ate some yogurt and grew very big! Then he kept eating yogurt and got even bigger."
The last page says "The little kitty got back small again"
No matter how many kids we have, watching each one grow and learn new things never gets old. When Myka started kindergarten in September, she didn't quite know all of the alphabet in order, and to see her do this is pretty cool! Go Myka!

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Why I Can't Get Anything Done

When people make comments about us having five kids, it is usually something like this: "I don't know how you DO it!"Or "you must have your hands full". You know, all the cliche large family comments. This isn't a post about hating those comments, because really, I've gotten used to them.
It's about my answer. Usually my answer is something like, " it gets crazy, but it's not that bad actually" or "I don't have five toddlers thankfully, so having more independent older girls really helps me out".
And that's true. At least for certain seasons of my life (aka, right before I had Sadie), our routine was pretty predictable, and manageable. I would do all my mom duties, and the girls would do theirs. I still had to answer questions every 40 seconds and had to break up fights, but I could still do what I needed to do. It was even like that when Sadie was a little baby, because the girls could entertain her while I did things...or she would sit still in the carrier at least.
But all that has changed, once again. Now, if anyone makes one of the above comments, I have to try hard to hide my pleading eyes and whimper "yes, my hands are full...help me."
I forgot what it was like. When I say "forgot" I mean lied to myself about what toddlers are like. It was easy to do, since Danica hadn't been a toddler for a year or so. I told myself, it's really not that bad, and it goes by so fast anyways.
All of that is true, and I feel I must disclaimer this by saying that I LOVE Sadie with all my heart and we are having so much fun with her.
The girl NEVER stops moving! It's like she took all that energy she conserved by being a fairly calm baby and whipped it all out at once into a tornado of baby! The worst part is, she's not even technically a toddler yet! I would sit there with my head in my hands whining "I thought I had more time!" Except that I have no hands to rest my head on....because she is always in them! Now you might be saying, "now wait. If she never stops moving, how is she always in your arms?"
I'm sure I don't have to explain that to many of my fellow moms, but believe me, it's possible. Imagine having 5 pounds of that cornstarch goo.... You know, the stuff that is solid when you squeeze it, but liquid when you open your hands? Yeah, imagine you have 5 pounds of it in your arms and you can't let a drip of it fall to the floor. That is what it's like to hold Sadie lately. My reflexes have to be on, always.
Just set her down, you say? That seems like the easy answer, since she is walking now and can get around to entertain herself....except that this kid is OBSESSED with me. A month ago, I could send her off to play with her sisters and she would be so happy. Now she's in a phase that's like the game "let go of mom's leg and you will die". Oh, that's not a real game?
Tell that to Sadie.
It's partly frustrating because I can't move at all with her holding onto me, and partly guilt inducing because just when I think she's gone and I shift my weight backwards to take a step, I knock her over. Sorry Sadie.
I can't do anything around the house that requires two hands while she's awake. If i thought it took a long time to get the laundry folded before, now I just helplessly stare at it for days, hoping it just finds it's own way to the drawers! it's especially bad now that we are on vacation, too, because she's not napping well unless I'm holding her.
I'd write more, but I'm using valuable " Sadie sleeping" minutes to write this. Sadie, I love you, but please don't be in this stage much longer. Pretty please? I'll put a cherry on top!
(That's how Danica asks me questions, and it's so sweet, it's hard to say no too!)


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