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 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!)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Snippets of Life Lately

I think it's safe to say that spring is pretty much here...although spring at our house sure doesn't start out pretty! Right now I'm fighting (and losing) a never ending battle of muddy boots and floors. And clothes. And jackets. And hair. I don't even know why I call "don't get muddy!" After the girls as they head outside. Habit, I suppose.
We have lots to look forward to in the coming month(s) of spring sister is having her first baby, and the girls are so excited for their new cousin! We are also going to Phoenix next week to visit Grandma and Grandpa. Sunshine and pool, here we come! Another thing we are all really looking forward to is planting a garden this year. It will be little, because I am still working on my green thumb, and don't want to crash and burn by planting a gigantic garden. We plan on getting chicks next month brace yourselves for loads of cute "chicky and the girls" photos!

In the meantime, the last two weeks have been spring break, and we planned very little for it. I have to say, it's been a great two weeks. We've stayed home and played, baked cookies and hung out with friends. It's been dreary outside, but still pretty nice, and the girls have kept their evening hours busy playing cops and robbers out there.

It's been so fun watching them use their imaginations. The other day Myka and Danica were playing pretend and doing the usual "pretend you said..." And "and then you did...."
It was pretty quiet until Myka spoke up. "Danica, pretend you said, 'Sweet Mother of Mercy!"
Danica has also started responding with "you got it dude."
Have I mentioned that I introduced the girls to Full House? Lol

Sadie has turned into a little whirlwind, hitting a full fledged toddler stage at the tender age of 9 months. She has become much more confident in her walking abilities the last couple of weeks, and can be seen doing laps around the kitchen island, while shrieking and trying to open drawers. She's so busy with all of that that she can't be bothered to stay still for a diaper change. That girls gets MAD when I try to hold her down for one, yikes!
I don't mind her toddling sometimes though....I like when she follows her sisters down the hall to play with them. They are pretty darn adorable together!

Addison and Tegan have really gotten independent in the past few months. They regularly bake now, although we are still working on them finishing baking all the cookies without trying to pass that job off to me :) they can bake some pretty delicious cookies though!
They like to take the quad out to our field to visit the horse lots. Addison is determined to train him, and from the little I know about horses, she seems to be doing a pretty good job. The other day she came into the house all excited because he finally lifted his hoof for her.

Well, I'm off to finish making dinner. Next to fighting mud, making food for the girls' ever growing appetites seems to be taking up a huge chunk of my time :)
Happy spring break!!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Just A Little Post

A long time ago on the blog I talked about different moments we have as parents. Most time seems to slip away in the routine of the day....some happy, some stressful, some sad. Then there are the tiny moments, sometimes even just a few seconds, that seem to slow time to a crawl and etch themselves as memories onto our hearts. You know the ones; when you see one child give another a hug, or see them laughing together, or when you see your husband give the baby a kiss out of the corner of your eye :) Some moments are just quick and so precious.

That being said, today was a pretty ordinary, yet crazy-as-always Friday. It's spring break, which means that there was noise all. Day. Long. I cooked, we baked cookies, I rocked Sadie to sleep, Danica fell and bonked her head, I did laundry, we watched a show.
After supper, things finally slowed down a bit and I  got the girls ready for bed. I tucked Myka and Danica in, said goodnight to Addison and Tegan, then brought Sadie out to the living room to read a book.
No sooner had I sat down, that Sadie started squirming to get off my lap. She looked around the living room and said, "Da! Daa!"
She crawled to the edge of the living room and called it again.
"Are you looking for the girls Sadie? They went to bed!"
She then proceeded to crawl down the hall and smacked Addison and Tegan's door with her hand!
It was a little longer than one of those momenta I talked about above, but precious and one that I won't soon forget! Needless to say, Addison and Tegan are now rolling around on the living room floor with a VERY happy Sadie baby :)

Enjoying this almost makes up for the fact that I have a mountain of laundry to fold once my little tornado goes to bed
Happy Friday :)

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

My Thoughts On Recent Marriage Articles

There is no shortage of marriage and relationship articles online. I've only read a handful of them, but for the most part they have pretty good advice. The articles themselves speak to both husbands and wives, but I've noticed something that makes me wonder a bit....
Last week I saw an article titled "5 Ways You are Unknowingly Destroying Your Husband and Killing Your Marriage"
I really enjoyed the article and agreed with all of the points, which included things like "Constant Negativity", "Putting Everything Else First" and "With holding Physical Affection". It's not always easy to admit that we as wives do these things. We want to believe that we have a good balance going on, and we also want to believe that our husband is a "big boy" and should be able to take care of himself, while treating us well, despite what we do or say to him. That was no clearer than it was when I read the comments on that article.
"clearly this was written by a man" and many, many other similar disgusted comments filled the comment section.
The article was quickly counteracted with a similar one for husbands, and the comments for that one showed that it was much more happily accepted by the women of the internet.

Then today on my newsfeed, "Why Women Leave the Men They Love" popped up. Many people have shared it, and with good reason. It's a very well written article that touches on a woman's greatest need. It had women everywhere saying, "yes! That's all I want him to see...just a little bit of tenderness and love is what I'm looking for." The article encourages husbands to "touch her with your full attention" and " notice how she reacts when you make contact". It says to take just 5 minutes a day to really notice her, to give her your full attention. The article goes even deeper, saying that many women admit that when they don't feel that emotional connection with their husband, when they feel like he doesn't care, or doesn't see her, it would be easier than she would like to admit for another man to sweep her off her feet.

At last glance, the article had been shared 16020 times, many of which had women tagging their husbands in it.

It made me wonder. What if the opposite version of the article was out? "Why men leave their wives-what every woman needs to know." Women would immediately bristle. Then imagine if your husband shared the article and tagged you in it. If you started reading the article and it said something like this:
"While many situations are complex, there's one profoundly simple truth that women need to know- men leave the women they love. They feel terrible about it, but they do it. They rally their courage and they leave. Men leave women with whom they have children, homes and lives. Men leave for many reasons, but there's one reason in particular that haunts me, one I want women to understand:
Men leave because their woman is not present. She's taking care of the house, the kids, she's volunteering for PTA meetings and events, she's at coffee with other moms, and out for "mom's night out". These aren't bad women. They are good women and mothers. They take care of their family well. They are nice, likeable, and they take their husband for granted."

I won't write out the entire article from the opposite point of view, but you get the picture. If we as women saw that our husband's tagged us in the above article, how would we feel? What would our fellow girl friends comment on such a post?

This article has taken me a couple of weeks to write, just because I keep setting it aside to come back to. I'm still not 100% sure I'm confident enough to publish it! But in that two weeks I have seen more on Facebook.
I saw an article talking about "making the first move" when it comes to reconciling a marriage. It spoke to both parties and applied to the person reading it, not wives in particular, yet the comment section was still full of comments such as "here we go again. The WIFE is always expected to fix everything."
As people, both husband's and wives, we can really let our pride get in the way of seeing the underlying issues.
I know that so far in this article, I'm really risking sounding like I'm on my pedestal. That may be true, but it's something I feel like I need to say to my fellow wives and moms. I'm saying it because I have been humbled in the past. I have experienced my marriage going through some really tough spots, and I've experienced my marriage crumbling. It is only by the grace of God that it was rebuilt stronger than it had been before. And by that I don't mean that God came down and magically fixed the problems we were going through.
I mean that when things were at their worst in my marriage, when I thought that maybe Daniel just didn't love me anymore, God showed me some things. It was really hard to see those things, and harder to do them at the time. I've learned that all the bad days and the feelings I have....he probably has them too. We are both human and both broken in our own ways, and depending on the situation, we both need to "go first" when it comes to reconciling.
I'm not going to write out a bunch more...I've said what I came to say, but lots of what I learned can be summed up in this quote: "A person who feels appreciated will always do more than expected."
Whether you are a husband or a wife, making an effort to make your other half feel appreciated goes a loooooong way.
Everybody wants to feel loved, respected, cherished, and appreciated. When those things come from our spouse, it is a powerful medicine!
OK really. I'm done now, lol.


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