Mommy Mondays – #2

I’ve decided that ‘Mommy Mondays’ has a nice ring to it…  So I’ll keep that title and just blog on Mondays about my commitment to taking weekly personal time.  Whether I took my personal time on Monday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, I’ll just update the blog on Mondays!

That’s using the tired mommy brain, right?  🙂  Mommy Mondays it’ll stay!


 

I always thought that I was a patient person…

Then I had kids.

And suddenly all sanity, rational, and reason was sucked out of me.  I mean, my son literally freaked out at me this morning for smiling too much.  And I wasn’t even smiling with that creepy, I’m-about-to-go-crazy smile that sometimes comes across my face at the end of a really long day.  I was just trying to be friendly.

Like any typical three year old, he has moments of unexplainable, excessive emotion.  He asks “why” fifty million times, and that’s just before lunchtime.  He gets into trouble faster than you can say “don’t unplug the bounce house when there are kids inside.”  And he is constantly trying to figure out who is in charge and running the show.

After long days of desperately clinging to every ounce of patience within me, I definitely hit my moments when I’ve met my quota.  I want to run screaming from the room, calling for an adult to take over already.  But then I realize that I’m the adult, and my actions and reactions are going to have a tremendous influence on my son.

It is usually then that I take a deep breath, say a quick prayer, and then begin the countdown to my weekly night out.  🙂

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A momma needs what a momma NEEDS!

I’m already realizing that my time away from the kids each week is going to make a world of difference this year.  This was only week two of my commitment to enjoy a few hours to myself, BUT I know success when I feel it.  🙂  It’s that breath of fresh air that lets me laugh, vent, share, giggle, and refuel.  I feel human again, which shrinks down everything I blew out of proportion  and helps me focus on what matters again.

This week’s mom night was one that I always greatly look forward to, because it’s a fave of mine!  My friend Liz and I shop for clearance finds and try on clothes just for fun.  (We usually make sure this happens every new season, so that we can browse the out-of-season racks and also take a peak at what’s new).

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Generally, we  try on outfits that fit into one of four categories…

The ridiculous…  I’m talking about gaudy holiday apparel, the dresses that make you ask “who would wear that”, and fur sweaters that look crazy on hangers but somehow always manage to look adorable the minute Liz puts them on.  (I still don’t know how she does it).

The over-the-top fancy…  Glitter, glitz, shimmery, and elegant outfits that would be perfect for a cocktail party on a yacht.  (You know, the life we typically lead as budgeting moms who magically turn into pajama-wearing versions of Cinderella at the strike of 8:30pm).

Edgy…  If you’ve ever met me, you know that I’m bubbly, smiley, and will chat with pretty much anyone as though we’re friends.  Edgy isn’t exactly in my wheel house.  (Hence the fact that the edgiest face I could make for this outfit resembled a slightly mad version of the duck face).  But it does make for a fun photo-shoot… and sometimes – on a rare occasion – the outfit surprises me and is the right mix of edgy and feminine for me to pull off.  😉

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Clearance…  Liz and I are the queens of bargain shopping and rarely buy things at full price.  I mean, sometimes we do.  There are always those “must have” pieces.  But she and I are both on budgets this year, so we’re trying to stretch our pennies as far as we possibly can!

Speaking of stretching pennies, Liz found this gorgeous dress on sale at Maurices for only $15!

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And I bought a lovely green t-shirt from the 24/7 line for only $3.75!

While at the store, I fell in love with this military style jacket and striped dress.  The navy jacket has the prettiest of details with gold buttons and ruffles.  And I’ve really been into florals lately, but still have a love of stripes.  So a dress that has stripes and floral?  I’m in love!

I left both items at the store, however; due to their not being on sale.  Spoiler alert though!  Two days later, I was in possession of both items!   My sister shared a great coupon with me, so I was able to order the jacket.  And then my sister-in-law gave me the dress as a present!  (I know, I know.  I am spoiled and blessed)!

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What a FUN night we had!

My mom’s night was definitely a success and left me feeling refreshed and ready to go!  I am SO glad that I’m making this a priority this year… and that I have an incredible hubby who lets me enjoy them!

 

 

 

 

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Masterpiece!

I’m not sure if it’s my personality or if one naturally tries carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders once they become a mom…  But perfection is too often my enemy.  I have these visions of who I need to be as a mother and as a wife, and – when I fall short – I label myself “failure” and hang my head in silent shame.

I try, again and again, to measure up.  To be that Proverbs 31 woman who rises early in the morning to manage her families needs, to care for the poor, and to secure the praises of her husband.  But where I succeed in one area, I find another falls short.  And instead of working on shortcomings and celebrating my strengths, I have too often focused with laser vision on wherever I haven’t succeeded.

And let’s face it, as moms, we juggle so many responsibilities that sometimes priorities get jumbled; and we confuse what’s even important in the first place.  There is so much pressure, opinions, and social media swirling around us to give us a false sense of what’s best or necessary.  And so a weight is added to the guilt that we already place on ourselves.

I struggled with so many feelings of inadequacy last year.  But God has really been reminding me as of late that He is perfect… not me.  And that as I continue to shift my gaze and to seek Him more, that everything else will fall into place.  My attitude, my actions, my priorities…

My goal for perfection should be my journey to be more like my Creator.

And throughout that journey, there is pain, disappointment, and heartbreak.  People let us down…  Circumstances are scary…  We don’t measure up to what we think we should be…

But just like clay being formed into beautiful artwork, we are not finished yet.  We are being molded, shaped, and perfected through fire.  And while it’s so easy to focus on where we are now and to dwell on our shortcomings, we serve a God who has already given us the joy and the victory to move forward.  To celebrate what we are through Him.  And to continue striving for betterment.

We can want (and try) to do better without focusing on what we have not yet accomplished.  We are in a marathon.  But we are not failures just because we have not yet crossed the finish line.

In so many ways, this is my mantra for the year.  Because while I so often felt like a failure last year, I am so encouraged to focus on the positive this year.  To see where I started and how much God has brought me through, as a mom, a wife, and even as a woman.

Sometimes I say or do the wrong things.  Sometimes I find myself dwelling on the difficult.  But I am so thankful that I am not yet finished.  That God has a plan for my life.

And I’m thankful that I am – even while a work in progress – a masterpiece in His eyes!

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Mommy Monday #1 – Spa and Blog Night

Mommy Mondays (my 2018 goal to make sure that I have a couple hours of personal time every week) officially began a few days ago!  It’s my slightly-desperate, oh-so-needed attempt to provide myself with moments in which I can breathe… regroup… and pee alone.  I don’t think it’s too much for any mom to ask for.  But sadly, so few moms get to have that.

I am SO blessed to be married to a man who not only understands that I need time for myself, but who also encourages it.  He gets it.  Happy wife; happy life.  Seriously, men, if your wife is nagging and complaining about how much she has to do all day, just send her out of the house for an hour or two of alone time.  I promise you she’ll come back with a smile on her face and a bounce in her step.

We’re moms.  Not superhumans.  We need breaks too!!

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I quickly realized this week, however, that Mommy Mondays are going to find a new home on Thursdays.  (I haven’t renamed them yet, so I need to get on that before next week. Ha, ha).  But Mondays tend to be one of my busier days with the weekend laundry having piled up, meal prep for the week beginning, and piano lessons just around the corner.  It’s hard for me to fully embrace the mental break if I have SO much on my to-do list.  Thursday nights will be much easier for my schedule!

For this week, I stuck with my Monday night plans; since Nate will be busy on Thursday.  To be honest, I almost decided to just start next week, because snow was falling pretty hard outside.  And the kids were bouncing off the walls.  By the time I helped get the baby to bed and Brady was finally settled down a bit, the time was already reaching 7pm.  And I have a strict, must-wear-jammies-by-8pm policy.

This mama did not have the motivation or energy to clean out the car and drive somewhere in the cold.

In the end though, I decided that I couldn’t fail at my goal during the first week; because if I don’t prioritize it, it’s just not going to happen.  Sooooo, I decided to lock myself in the upstairs bathroom for two hours.  Now I realize how depressing this sounds, but – you guys – I may as well have spent the evening at the spa.  (Well, okay, an evening at the spa maybe would have been a little nicer.  HA!).  BUT my night at home was honestly perfect.

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I set myself up with a strawberry lemonaid and a little table for my laptop.  I blogged, read blogs, scanned Pinterest, and then took a hot bath.  It was two hours to myself during which I could sit still and just relax.  I never in a million years would have thought that sitting in the corner of a bathroom could feel so amazing, but it sure did!   Ha, ha.

I’m looking forward to going out next week, but I think that this week’s relaxing night at home was just what I needed!!

 

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

I was sitting on a living room chair, quickly texting a picture of my son’s latest artwork to a friend…  Earlier in the week, Brady had let himself into my piano closet (which is child-proofed, but the little guy has a degree in locking picks apparently).  Once inside, he had found a permanent black marker and decided to practice doodling on my beautiful chair.  I had been sitting just feet away, but – caught up in trying to jot down items onto my grocery list – I didn’t look up until one minute too late.  And although I’m quite proud of how well he accidentally drew the letter ‘P’, I had to swallow my initial reaction and to calmly explain to Brady that we don’t draw on furniture.

Or the wall.  Or on Kaitlyn.

We don’t draw on anything unless it’s paper provided by Mommy and Daddy.

I had literally just sat down, took a quick picture of the chair with my phone, sent it to my friend, and added a brief text, when I glanced up to see Brady walking into the room looking like this.

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After applying nail polish earlier in the day, I had set the jar onto the kitchen island; because a family member had stopped by really quick.    It was quickly forgotten in the daily events that followed.  But my son later found it, successfully reached for it, opened it, and applied a generous coat of said polish to each of his fingernails.

(I have come to the realization that Brady follows me around every moment of the day, waiting for me to slip up and to leave something out that should be immediately put back in its place.  I assure you that our house is baby and toddler proofed.  It is, however, never going to be Brady proofed.  I am not capable of that kind of proofing.  It is beyond my mental capability and physical energy levels).

Anyway, with my son standing in front of me displaying his manicure, I sat there in complete shock and silence.  Brady, his face beaming from ear to ear, proceeded to lightly shake his hands and to say, “Now we let them dry.”

I realized, slightly in awe, that I was looking at a mirror image of myself after I’ve painted my nails… I mean, at the age of three, he’s almost as good at applying nail polish as I am too.  (It’s sad but true).  And he had that gentle shake of the hand down and even that thing I apparently say every time…  “Now we let them dry.”

He was mimicking my every move and looking to me for approval.  He had copied his mamma, and now he was waiting for me to say, “Good job!”   Just like he had tried to write down his own little scribbles while watching me create a grocery list.

Just as he shouts out, “Hi, Daddy!” if I first exclaim,, “Yay, Daddy’s home!”

Or just as he eagerly climbs onto a chair to help with dishes, when I chat about how much fun we’ll have doing it together.  But acts disgruntled about spilled juice if I react too sharply to a careless accident on the rug.

Even just as he sits at the piano and tries to sing “Jesus Loves Me” after I’ve practiced for a Sunday’s worship song.

He mimics.  Copies.  Watches, learns, and then incorporates it into his own young life.

It brought to mind a Bible verse from Deuteronomy (6:5 – 7) – “ Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Our children are watching.  And as parents, we know that; because it all sounds so obvious.  But I think too often we forget just how much of an impression our actions and words are having on our kids.

Our children are listening to our every word…  To the tone with which we speak them.  They’re watching the way we get through our days, soaking in our attitudes and our body language.

Our lives are living testimonies and ‘speaking’ even louder than those words we’re saying.  We say “help others”, but are we joyfully giving of our time.  We say “turn the other cheek”; but do our casual, ‘when-no-one-is-listening’ words speak of grudges.  We say “love God with all your heart,” but is time spent in God’s word, worship, and church a priority for us?  Do our children see us kneeling in prayer and meditating on the Bible?  We say “love others”, but do we love when it’s not comfortable or safe?  We say “God made everyone special and unique,” but do we look in the mirror and criticize the person looking back at us?

Impress them (God’s commandments) on their hearts.

Our children are watching…  Are we showing them what they need to be seeing?

A little boy who drew on my chair and painted his nails reminded me this week that eyes are watching me.  And more than anything, I want to impress God’s love and living word into his life!  Not only by speaking God’s truth, but also in the way I conduct myself every day.

 

Christmas is All in the Heart

My closest friends know just how much of a Type-A, control freak I can be.  And if you’ve read my blog for awhile, you have a pretty good idea too.  😉  I like everything planned, organized, and lined neatly in a row.

So sometimes, it’s a BIG deal for me to not only accept how things are but to also embrace them. Like how I won’t be baking as much this holiday season as I normally would… Or how I never posed my family in matching outfits; so that we could send out a photo, Christmas card. (Guys, I didn’t even send out any cards this year)! My Christmas tree looks like it was decorated by a toddler (because it mostly was). And most of our decorations are homemade (which is cute if you just look at the ones that Brady made, but there’s no excuse for my attempts). 😂

But I also realize that I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep in over 7 months, I’m still nursing, I have a baby who rolls around the floor faster than a tumble-weed in the desert, and am raising a little boy who is currently in the “what happens if I do this” stage of life. (Spoiler alert: Most of the times, the answer to that question is ‘nothing good‘).

I’m realizing suddenly that – especially in this ridiculously busy phase of life – I don’t have time to be one of those Pinterest moms who live in magical homes of pristine white, cleanliness, and creativity…  Quite frankly, I’m too busy trying to keep everyone alive. But I’m also realizing that this is actually okay.

I mean, the sky hasn’t fallen in yet!  And even though I’m more tired and busy than I could ever imagine possible, I’m also happy.  Like really happy.  And despite how different this Christmas may be than in years past, it’s still shaping up to be a favorite.  (Because oh goodness, there’s nothing sweeter than spending holidays with your family, especially when one of its members is an excited child.  The pure joy on Brady’s face when he experiences the holidays as though for the first time?  You can’t put a price on that). 

I’m really trying to focus on just living in the moment this year.  I play Christmas music on the radio every chance I get.  At night, we always take the long way home to look at the beautiful lights.  We run around the house in excitement when it’s time to turn on the tree and candles.  We read the story of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph almost every day; and I constantly talk to Brady about how much fun Christmas morning will be.

So while very little of it is planned or organized, it is experienced.  And treasured.

This afternoon, as we cuddled on the floor underneath the light of the Christmas tree (surrounded by toys and laundry that I hadn’t yet picked up), Brady looked at me with a smile and said, “Christmas is fun, Mama.” And it just hit home that – for this little boy – all that matters is that Mommy loves him and has been ‘trying’ her best to make Christmas special for him. . ❤️

That certainly makes Christmas special for me too!

P.S.  You’d better believe that we’re going to have a family, Christmas card photo next year though!  Ha, ha, ha!  I just love them so much!!  But for this year, I just love receiving photo cards from family and friends who have done them.  They’re  too sweet!

Who I Do It For

“The Struggle is Real” is, in a sense, the mantra for most of my mom friends and I.  And I know that if you’re already a mom, you ‘get it’.  I therefore don’t need to go into a lengthy paragraph about how my world revolves around my children.  You know that I treasure my kiddo’s more than words can say and that I would do absolutely anything for them.

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But you also know that sometimes, I just get lost in all of it.   You know that, because you’re a mom.  So you do too.

The daily struggle is SO real, let’s face it.  That breakneck speed you keep in order to keep everyone fed, clothed, entertained, and shuttled from here to there…  It’s endless.  You wake in the morning and jump out of bed with your running shoes on, and those shoes don’t come off until you fall into bed exhausted at night. You lie there, staring at the ceiling, reviewing all the tidying, cooking, prepping, dressing, laundry folding, kissing, snuggling, driving, organizing, budgeting, disciplining, craft making, exploring, picture book reading, singing, dancing, dressing, encouraging, and bathing you did that day.

And you realize suddenly that you’re going to have to do it again tomorrow.  And tomorrow.

And the tomorrow after that!

There will be very little (oftentimes no) verbal praise.  There will be no monetary compensation.  No quarterly review during which someone sits down with you to discuss all of your efforts and sacrifices.  (Like growing a human life…  And learning to love an unfamiliar body that has been stretched in inhumane ways…  And willingly denying yourself of all you once knew to now embrace your new identity as MOM).

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The day-to-day that keeps your family happy and healthy will – most often – go unnoticed by everyone.  You might feel as though you just ran a marathon, but there is no finish line in site where crowds are waving wildly and shouting your name.

There are instead hugs.  And kisses.  Snotty noises.  Time-out chairs.  Playdough crusted floors.  Casseroles that bubble over.

In your head, you know that it’s all worth it.  You know that you’re doing the most important job, because you’re raising up a future generation in the way it should go.  But sometimes your sanity wants to scream from the monotony of it all.  Sometimes your heart screams that you were meant to do more than this, because there has to be more than this.

There HAS to be more than POOP!  

You cleaned the same messes, wiped the same bums, played the same silly games, and cooked the same kid-friendly meals ALL day.  You will do it all again the next day.  And there are moments when you lose sight of how fast it’ll go by and how beautiful these precious days are, and you get lost in the struggle.

The mom life feels too big and leaves you feeling a little too small and insignificant.

But it matters.  Every…little…thing that we do matters.  I know this.  And one day, after a particularly overwhelming week, it hit me…

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It’s not WHAT I do that matters.  It’s WHO I do it for.

My job right now is filling this home with as much warmth, comfort, and love as I possibly can.  And yes, that job consists of completing some of the most mundane, dirty, unglamorous tasks that one could imagine.  But it’s my job.  As in, I might not have moved mountains, or passed a new law, or sealed my name in the history books.

But I cleaned poop.  Like lots of poop.  And I tidied up blocks, and baked meals, and snuggled little babies who needed some love.  There was no other job I needed to get to.  There was no other important thing that I needed to accomplish.

My kids…  They are the important thing.

And while this world will never celebrate or appreciate the simple things that I do every single day, a full day’s ‘work’ for me is a work-day well done.  I’ve found a new sense of purpose and joy as of late, because I have shifted focus.  Instead of dwelling on the seemingly menial tasks I complete every day, I tune into the faces of my family.

That is where I find the appreciation.  The “thank you”.  The worth for what I do.  I see it there…  The happiness.  The contentment.  The sigh of relief when comfort is needed.

Because again, in the end…

It’s not WHAT you do that matters.  It’s WHO you do it for.

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I’m a chef…a dishwasher…a musician…an art instructor…a nanny… a maid… a chauffeur….  I do it all without being paid a penny.  And while the struggle is real most days, the who’ I do this for really does make it all worth it.

I might have to complete the same chores… again, and again, and again.  But you’d better believe that I’ll be doing it to the best of my ability.   🙂  Because the WHO is making the WHAT a whole lot more important than those tasks may see at first glance!

 

 

Sweater Weather

My family hosted its first ugly sweater contest last Christmas, and I have to say that the festive competition was a hilarious success.  We all got a good laugh out of it…  Someone won a prize.  It was all in good fun!

But now that I’m the mom to a toddler and a six month old, I’m not so eager to dive into the world of ugly sweater competitions.  Because here’s the thing…  I live in ugly sweaters!  I live in sweaters that have been pulled and tugged in ways they’ll never recover from.  In sweaters that have been puked on, pooped on, peed on, and stained with a variety of foods ranging from macaroni and cheese to ketchup.

I try my best to put time, energy, and thought into a couple of outfits a week for the sake of my poor husband.  (Although I draw the line at shaving my legs these days, because who has time for that)?  But most days I throw on whatever is clean and unwrinkled, which oftentimes results in a look that is less than attractive.  (Unless the Mombie Look is your thing, in which case I’m the runner up for Miss America).

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To be honest, sometimes I walk past a mirror and gasp in horror, realizing that I had stepped out in public like that.  So I decide to put effort into my outfit the following day and at least take the time to put on a hat so as to tame the runaway curls.  At least then I look a bit more like a frazzled mom than a homeless person.

Want to know what’s hilarious?  I actually get ‘hit on’ looking like this.  My wedding rings almost fit again, but they are still painfully tight.  So I haven’t been wearing them on my fingers quite yet.  And the crazies in the grocery store take notice apparently.  (One man even gave me his business card last week and told me to come see him at his restaurant, and he’d cook up a special meal just for me.  I must have been sporting the homeless look that day…).  Obviously these men don’t realize that I come with a baby…a toddler…two cats….and a husband.

Still though, I wonder if I’d still get a free meal if I walked into that chef’s restaurant with my entire family in tow?  Worth trying, right?!?

Anyway, ugly sweater contests.  I used to be a fan, but now I’m all like, “PLEASE!  Please let me have my excuse to dress up!”  I know that I’ll just be going to my parent’s house, conveniently located two miles up the street from my own home.  And the cozy kitchen and dining room will be filled with close aunts, uncles, and cousins; so there’s really no need for overly dressy attire.

But the holidays?  They’re like this wonderful excuse for moms to don sparkly tops, red lipstick, and dangly earrings.  Sure, the outfit will come with accessories like bouncing toddlers, squirmy babies, and a sprinkle of spitup here and there.  But we’re getting out of the house!  We’re having adult conversation (amidst helping little ones guide food into their mouths).

It’s fuel for a tired mommy who needs a little break from the usual routine.  And it’s exciting!

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Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner are the biggest events of the year.  Please, PLEASE, don’t take that away from me and ask me to wear an ugly outfit… for FUN.  I might not be dressed fancy or in anything new, but I am going to try my absolute best to look put together and pretty.  (And then if I do pull that off, please, someone take a ton of pictures).  HA!

Want to know what is fun though?  Trying on those larger-than-life outfits in the store that – when you walk by – you can’t help but ask, “For what event could you possibly need a feathery jacket that looks like an ostrich?”

Because as much as I love the excuse to get dressed up for the holidays, I also love an excuse to not be too serious and to laugh at myself a little.  We all need that, but we moms especially need that reminder to have fun.  We spend so much time keeping everyone alive that sometimes we forget to live a little.

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A favorite tradition that my friend Liz and I have is to try on a few over-the-top (or ridiculous) outfits to see if we (or anyone) could pull them off.  We usually only do it once a year, because – well – that’s the way it happens.  But we’ve decided that it should be a seasonal thing, so expect a fashion blog in January that captures all the hot (and crazy) fashions of the upcoming season.  😉

I might not be sporting an ugly sweater this upcoming Christmas.  But man, it was sure fun trying some on with my best friend last night.  We laughed, we shared, and we tried on clothes that we’ll absolutely never have any excuse to buy or wear.

It was that refueling that I so desperately needed.

And it doesn’t get much better than that.  🙂

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Oh but don’t worry, we didn’t leave the store empty handed.  We raided the clearance rack, and I found a $7 sundress!  (Liz found something too).  So yes, the evening was a success!  🙂

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