Monday, August 03, 2015

Parenting Has Too Many Emotions

Keeping a clean house while raising a family. It's a subject I don't even pretend to have any knowledge or advice on....seriously. I started my marriage as a young woman who lived a little on the sloppy side, despite my best intentions. Over the years, I've learned how to keep a house clean, and i have even become a tidier...although that one is a work in progress.
Since having children I have again had good intentions. Intentions of teaching them how to clean up after themselves, and how to respect our home and help me do some of the main chores.
Well, the process has worn me down over the years. Day after day of them dropping things and not picking up after themselves, years of pulling clothes out of their drawers just to find one shirt. Ugh. I want to teach my girls to take care of things, but I feel so defeated. I keep asking myself what in doing wrong, and how I can be more diligent in teaching them these skills.
I know I'm not alone....there is articles everywhere about tornado toddlers, and houses that don't remember what they used to look like. I nod my head as I read them. I feel you, fellow moms. Will our houses ever be clean again?
There are exceptions. I have a friend who is not online, and her kids really do help her keep the house clean. She is a naturally good housekeeper herself, and so I assume it just rubbed off on her kids. I admire her so much and wish I could just figure out a smidgen of how she does it.

Anyways, this might sound like it's a post about me complaining about my children and the state of my house, and it is a bit, but that's not the point. Lol.
Another friend of mine mentioned last summer that her kids do most of the cleaning at their house. My interest was piqued. She has four kids that are the same ages as mine. How did she do it?
In our house it goes something like this:
Me: "I will do this. Even if it takes all day, I will patiently coach the girls through doing these chores. They will only learn by doing it, and I will teach them to do a good job."
1 hour later
Me: "i could have loaded the dishwasher 6 times by now. Myka and danica, stop fighting, i dont care if you think it's fair. Forget it, Just go play outside, I'll just do it myself! Aaaaargh!

Anyways, this year I asked her how she did it. She gave me some tips and made it seem doable, so I've been implementing those tips, along with heaps of prayers for patience, and wisdom.

Today it happened. For the first time ever, each girl completed her chores with minimal complaining. Danica whined a bit, but myka went and helped her once she was done with her chore. By the time Daniel and I left on our date this afternoon my kitchen was clean, the living room was cleaned, and the toy room was neat and tidy. Whaaaaat?! Seriously, what just happened!? I spent the afternoon so happy at our breakthrough. It's been so long coming.

And then tonight I read an article posted by a friend about milestones...about kids growing up and little things ending, like washing their hair for example. It was a great article, and then the sadness hit. My girls are growing up. My house stayed clean all day because of them for the first time ever. It's a good milestone to hit, but maybe it means some other milestones are coming to an end too.
Seriously, I know this post is just a mess of emotion. Hashtag momlife.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

So this is being a work from home mom

Hi mom,
I heard that you want to work from home so that you can earn money while staying home with me. That's really sweet, and I'm sure you have the best intentions, but I'm not quite sure that's going to fly around here.
You see, my love language is "time spent", which means that if you are in sight, or anywhere in the house, really, I will find you, and I will spend time with you.
If you bend down to cut a piece of fabric, I will sit on it...or stand on it and slide my feet around.
If you sit down to work on embroidery designs on the computer, I will climb into your head, or stick my fingers in your nose and mouth, or want to nurse.
If you try and close the door to your sewing room, I will scream so loud that Grandma will hear me and hopefully come smack some sense into you.
If you try and sew, I will try and climb onto your lap, using my ridiculously sharp tiny nails.
If you succeed in distracting me for two minutes with an empty thread spool, I will poop in my diaper and make your workspace unbearably smelly.
Hey, are those pins? I wonder how fast I can take them out of the cushion and spread them all over the floor? Last time she caught me before I even got one taken out. This is my day, I can feel it.

Also mommy, just so you know, I don't like the feeling of the floor on my feels yucky and I would really prefer to be in your arms. How are you supposed to get anything done with only one arm, you ask? I dunno. You're the one who wanted kids, you figure it out! I'll just be right here while you think about it.

Want a kiss mom? Is that your eyeball? What happens when I stick my finger in it? Haha, that was fun! Can I check your teeth? You are so much more fun than any of my toys!

You could always try working during my naptime, I've heard that some moms do that. But good luck with:
A) my new and improved 32 minute nap...20 of which you were rocking me for.
B) the wall of fatigue that hits you when you realize that for the first time all day you can hear yourself think.....and coffee and facebooking sounds way more relaxing than working.

It's OK, you can always work after I go to bed for the night...I'm sure daddy didn't want to spend any time with you tonight anyways, right?

And also, I've heard that moms can survive on nothing but coffee for days at a time. Just make sure you keep that adoring smile on your face and loving tone in your voice, especially when I spill the Tupperware full of rice krispies on the floor. Aren't I cute?

I'm so glad you decided to work from home mom. Now you can spend all of your time with me while getting your work done!
Well, at least we get to spend time together, and that's what counts, right? Can I have another snack?

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 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'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 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, 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!


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