Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oh, Hey! Didn't See Ya There, 6 Months!

Well, friends and neighbors,

I have been about as good writing blogs about this pregnancy as I was with my last pregnancy!  (In case you are a recent follower, that means indescribably BAD.)

I am 6 months pregnant already, and, boy, did it go by quickly!  I really popped out around 21 weeks and have been growing since!  This pregnancy has been much more enjoyable this time around since I started the journey thinner and healthier.  I have avoided gluten this time, eaten better in general, and continued exercising (Insanity, floor exercises, and, more than anything, keeping up with T.J.- swimming, biking, walking, kicking the ball around, going to the park, etc., etc.).

Thank goodness I have kept in better shape because when you are taking care of a toddler, you never know when he is going to get sick and you are going to be up until midnight cleaning up vomit... multiple times...

not that that happened recently or anything...

This time around I am taking apple cider vinegar, keeping fiber a consistent part of my diet, and drinking a lot more water than I did with my first pregnancy.  By the grace of God and His sovereignty, T.J. came out beautifully perfect!  However, this time around, I feel better.  I am sure that Daniel will be healthy and beautiful, but I feel that would have happened even if I lived off of peanut butter M&Ms and Cheezits like I did with T.J.  This time it is nice to see that my rings still come off easily, the bones and veins in my feet still show, I can still wrap my fingers around my wrists just as easily as ever.  I feel great!  I have been so blessed.

The self-esteem is a beautiful thing, too.  Every woman wants to still feel "little" and beautiful during her pregnancy.  That was never something I felt or was really told during my first.  Why should it have been?  This is by no means a pity party!  This is me remembering how poorly I chose to take care of myself and that I reaped the repercussions.

This time around, I cannot tell you how many times I was pretty far into my pregnancy and people didn't even KNOW I was pregnant.  How many times I got the "Would you just SHOW already!?!" comment.  How many times I have been told how little I still look...LITTLE!!  ME!!!  I have also been called beautiful so many times.  I know these seem like petty little vain things, but I gotta tell ya, when the scale is going up and won't be going down for a LONG time, your skin is getting stretched, you are tired, and you don't know if your nose is going to blow up to 3 times its size or you are going to bust out in full body acne any day now, getting called beautiful sure makes the experience special.

The true beauty of motherhood is that I am beautiful when I have my hair up in a bun, a makeup free face, and sweats on, cradling my child before he goes to sleep at night.  I am beautiful when I am in exercise clothes at the park chasing my kid around the playground playing Captain Hook and the Crocodile (Yes, it does get morbid at times, thanks for asking- he is a boy, what can ya do?).  The beauty comes from the fact that I am literally playing with, sculpting, teaching, and pouring into a being that God formed IN MY BODY.  WHAAAAT?!  SO STINKIN' COOL!

Don't get me wrong.  I don't think motherhood is at ALL an excuse to look unkempt, dirty, and disheveled by any means.  I read a blog recently that made an awesome point about the fact that this is my DREAM job- for any other dream job, I would make sure I look like a million bucks to show that I love and respect what I do.  I thought that was a very refreshing perspective on taking care of oneself during your "career" as a mom.  But, as always, I digress.

Guess what, guys... I get to do all of that with a second kid!!!!!  All of the spitting up, diapering, potty training, play-dohing, finger painting, train track building, breastfeeding, tummy-timing... ALL OF IT!!!!  I am STOKED, people!!!!!  It's like I am getting elected to the presidency all over again.  I am getting that call about landing a gig to open for a major band AGAIN.  I landed the LEAD in that amazing movie AGAIN.  I got a promotion AGAIN.  I got signed with a major record company AGAIN.  I am getting to do what I have adored doing for the past 3 years ALL over again beginning in June.

Simply put: motherhood rocks and is the only job I could ever dream of wanting and loving this much.

As I sit here feeling Daniel kicking and pressing against the inside of my belly, I am full- yes of baby, but also full emotionally knowing that God has blessed us with another little boy who will be here in the blink of an eye, and off to college even sooner.

Well, I don't know what this blog post was supposed to be.  An update I suppose.  To cut it short...

Update:  I am pregnant.  We are healthy.  We are happy.

As for the rest, well, I could chalk it up to pregnancy hormones carrying me away on an outpouring of grateful words expressing how blessed I feel... but I suppose it doesn't take hormones to open any mom's eyes to the beauty and blessing that "momhood" is... it just takes feeling that first kick, hearing that first heartbeat, or, hey, for some, seeing those two lines on that peed on stick for the first time!!!  To cut it short....

God has a way of satisfying my soul and spirit with children.

"For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him..."  
1 Samuel 1:27

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oh boy...

I walk around the corner from the kitchen to the hallway and see T.J. squatted down...

T.J.: I goin' poop.
Me: I can see that.
T.J.: Go in the kitchen.
Me: Why?
T.J.: 'Cause I poopin'.

Life with a boy.

Here is T.J. cheesin' it with a mouth full of raisins... but it kind of looks like he is pooping, so it applies to this post.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Maintaining Your Home (While Maintaining Your Sanity)

Let’s begin with what the Word has to say about being a wife.  Keep all of these Biblical qualities in mind and let the Spirit speak to you while you read so you can test and discern my words according to God’s Word.  Please remember, I am imperfect.  He is perfect.:

10 [d] An excellent wife who can find?
    She is far more precious than jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
    and he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good, and not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She seeks wool and flax,
    and works with willing hands.
14 She is like the ships of the merchant;
    she brings her food from afar.
15 She rises while it is yet night
    and provides food for her household
    and portions for her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
17 She dresses herself[e] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.
20 She opens her hand to the poor
    and reaches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of snow for her household,
    for all her household are clothed in scarlet.[
22 She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates
    when he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them;
    she delivers sashes to the merchant.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
    and she laughs at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom,
    and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women have done excellently,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands,
    and let her works praise her in the gates.”

Proverbs 31:10-31 (ESV)

As a stay-at-home mother, I find distraction slipping into my everyday life like a dense fog setting me off-balance and causing me to lose focus on my goals and God-given duties.

·      Overabundance of screen time.
·      Not enough time with my child.
·      Not enough time to maintain our home.

Unfortunately, these are always going to be a struggle. Mommy-hood can transform into a lifelong battle between that precious, fleeting time with our kids, distractedness/laziness, and other important responsibilities such as maintaining our homes and schedules.  Many times, if I keep these five tips and few general principles in mind for maintaining my home, I can keep myself from completely submitting to anxiety and that distracting fog of daily elements playing tug-o-war for my attention.

1. Cleanse Your Spirit

30 Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

            If you take away anything from this, please let this be it.  Starting the day with your Heavenly Father is the most important thing you can do.  It puts your whole day in perspective.  How are you going to deal with others?  Are you going to do all things (including that pesky laundry) unto God’s glory?  It places the priority of your day where it should be- God and complete submission to Him and His will for you, even in the tedious tasks that many times seem unimportant to us.  How many minutes a day do you spend checking facebook, writing e-mails, blogging, watching TV, etc.?  Shouldn’t you allot a portion of your day to the one who created you and gave you all of those gifts?  Get into the Word and pray.  Every day.  Commit.

2. Move

17 She dresses herself[e] with strength
    and makes her arms strong.
18 She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
    Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.

            Regardless of the redundant nature of this point, considering we definitely move around to get things done, I think it is important to mention that in this day and age, we have a lot of conveniences that can give us unforeseen “down time”.  You may be thinking, “The absurdity!  I am a mother!  Of course I do not have down time!”  I encourage you to monitor yourself throughout the day… you may find you have more sporadic “relaxation” time than you think (AKA checking e-mails, pinning recipes for the most delicious treats you may never create, browsing Instagram, etc.).  If you don’t have any time where you are taking a moment and a breath, you need to set aside time specifically for that.  Nothing rejuvenates me and makes me feel ready to take on the world like a soothing bath and a good book.  However, realize that setting aside time to relax isn’t what I am referring to in this case.  I am encouraging you to abolish unscheduled lazy time that sweeps your off your feet and like a thief, swiftly steals a precious hour or two from your day before you even realize what has happened.  Just as there must be purposeful relaxation time, there must be purposeful exercise time.  Exercising makes you feel wonderful in the short term as well as the long term (endorphins, anyone?).  Do it- even if it is something seemingly small. You will not regret it.  It will make the rest of your day more productive.

3. Make Your Bed

She makes bed coverings for herself;
    her clothing is fine linen and purple.”

            I don’t know about you, but when my bed is made, the whole house feels cleaner to me.  Is that strange?  I know someone out there is nodding her head to this point.  When my bed is made, I have space to fold my laundry.  When my bed is made, I can walk into my room and sigh with relief that something is crisp and orderly.  When my bed is made, I feel like it is fresher when I slip into it at night, and that puts my mind more at ease so I can drift to sleep without the heaviness of the day bearing down on me.  For me, that is my “if I can do one thing today” cleaning duty.  Even if yours is something else like wiping down the kitchen counters daily, just make sure you accomplish that cleaning task first.  If there is something that you for sure want to complete that is a small job, write it on your to-do list; finish it; check it off; and feel accomplished.  Sometimes just knowing you’ve started your day off with a productive “bang” can set the stage for more productivity throughout the remainder of your day.

4. Leave

She looks well to the ways of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:”

I have heard it said that cleaning while living with a child is like shoveling while it is still snowing outside.  You don’t want to let the house get out of control, but you don’t want to be so “in control” that you miss time watching your child grow up.  These are the precious times.  The Lord encourages us to live abundantly for His glory.  So leave.  Go to the park.  Go to a friend’s house.  Go kick the ball around outside.  Go on a walk.  The more time you spend away from your house, the less wreckage happens inside of your house.  Plus, it is great for kids to get outside and fellowship with their friends in boisterous playtime!  It is a guilt-free way of preventing the tornado that becomes of our home before naptime hits.

5. Make Use of Your “Robot Minions”

She puts her hands to the distaff,
    and her hands hold the spindle.”

            Keep your robot minions working for you at all times.  If you have a washer, dryer, and/or dishwasher, congratulations, you have robot minions!  Remember, if they are working, YOU are working, without actually breaking a sweat (although you should never underestimate the soothing, therapeutic power of washing your dishes by hand).  Technology can cripple our productivity, but I happily place my stamp of approval on technology that helps me clean.  I will take all the help I can get! 

General Principles:

·      God comes first. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 (ESV)

·      It won’t all get done.  The reason you try to keep up with it is because you won’t always be able to keep up with it.  On those days where you get home from an evening night outing with your hubby and are just too sleepy to sweep, go to bed.  It will get accomplished tomorrow, don’t sweat it.  Nothing destroys a lovely evening of romance with your spouse more than forcing yourself to labor over chores instead of snuggling up under a billowy duvet until peacefully drifting into sleep.  Remember that your main purpose doesn’t lie here on Earth, but in Heaven. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust[a] destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV)

·      Give yourself a break (remember that bath and book combo?).  As long as you are doing all things unto God’s glory, you’re doing great!   So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Corinthians 10:31 (ESV)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Average Turned Adventure

The heavens are yours; the earth also is yours; the world and all that is in it, you have founded them.” (Psalm 89:11, ESV)

 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1, ESV)

A couple of weekends ago, my husband and I spent the majority of the day outside because it was just gorgeous- warm and sunny with a crisp breeze.  It was that kind of day that continuously beckoned us outside, even if we tried to avoid it!  Most days like that we would decide to take a walk together as a family.  However, on this particularly inviting Saturday, I decided to do an idea I created inspired by a previous article in Deeply Rooted Issue 1: Four Ways to Raise Creative Children (p. 83, 2014, Rogers).  I decided that on this day, my son who lives in a cookie cutter home in suburbia would get a chance to explore nature around him.  Living in a suburban home shouldn’t be an excuse for me to not have my child discover and explore on a regular basis.  We grabbed a Mason jar, headed out the door, and began an activity that we will frequently enjoy from here on out.  We walked along the sidewalk in our neighborhood, the same walk we have taken many a time with my son relaxing lazily in his stroller, me walking briskly to escape the heat and “get our walk in”.   This time it was different.  This time my son walked with us, and this walk was filled with treasures.  It was no longer, “Oh see the pink flowers over there?”, while breezing past, it was instead, “See that?!  Wow!  What is that?  What color is it?  Go pick one of those and put it in our jar so we can look at it more closely later!”  A simple rock became a treasure.  A stick?  Oh, forget about it!  If you have boys, you know that a stick is the BOMB!  We collected different colored leaves, flower buds, etc.  On our walk we met a neighbor who allowed us to pick one of his petite, purple flowers.  We didn’t log a lot of miles, but we sure logged a lot of memories.  I hope that you, too, will experience (no matter where you live) an adventure of your own with your children- no matter the setting, treasure is there to be found!

One of the greatest parts of this activity is when you get home and pour all the goodies onto your table for observation!  This easily becomes at-home science, mathematics, and Bible projects:

Science:  You should ask your child questions about the characteristics of each of his or her findings (i.e. color, shape, weight, amount).  He or she is using much needed skills to observe and discuss with you the different qualities of each item.  You should also have him or her compare items (i.e. “Which do you have more of, rocks or leaves?”  “Which is heavier, the little flower or the mulch?”)

Mathematics: Ask your child to categorize his or her findings (categories could be as simple as rocks, leaves, flowers, etc. to as complicated as red leaves, green leaves, small rocks, large rocks, etc.).  If your child seems developmentally ready, have him or her create a graph of his or her findings.

Bible: Emphasize the importance of knowing that God created all things for our enjoyment and His glory.  With your child, look through a concordance for verses about earth and creation.  Take this time to read the story of Creation in Genesis- reiterating how and when all of your child’s findings were created by the Lord.

Have your kiddo take pictures of his or her findings or show a friend!  Get excited and he or she will, too!  The most important thing to remember is to make it fun and focus on the fact that you are viewing God’s creation. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” (James 1:17, ESV)

What You Need:

1. A Mason jar (Or some other sturdy container for the different things you gather with your child)

2. Comfy shoes (Remember that you may be trekking over grass, rocks, etc.- though it might be nice to whip those shoes off to feel the grass between your toes!)

3. Time (This is the hardest to acquire, yet the most important.  You don’t want your child to feel rushed.  You want to be able to meander along enjoying discussing all of your beautiful findings.)

4. A journal to draw and write down observations (optional dependent on child’s age)

5. Graph paper and crayons for a mathematics graphing project (optional dependent on child’s age)

6. Bible and concordance

As your children collect their treasures, you will soon find that the treasure you receive is time spent with them.  Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.” (Psalm 127, ESV)

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Appreciating Art Together

Today, Trav, T.J., and I all headed to Vero Beach for an art festival.  We had so much fun, and it was a splendid day!  Here are some pictures and videos from our fun time.  Enjoy!

 It was a warm, gorgeous day...

 This is the Brazilian martial art, Capoeira.  It has a interesting, rich history and was entertaining to watch!

We explored the area of the museum where people take lessons, and this wonderful woman allowed T.J. to experiment with her potter's wheel!  An amazing, one-of-a-kind experience for a two and a half year old!  We were overwhelmingly grateful!

 If you have ever owned an "Eye Spy" book, you know this artist.  He is a skilled artist who designs, creates, builds, sculpts, and photographs.  He is skilled in a plethora of different artistic skills, and his art was super fun and colorful to experience!  The perfect kind of art to show to T.J.!

 On the right is the sculpted, created model Wick designed in order to take the photograph on the left.  When we were standing in front of the photographs, it was hard to believe that they were, indeed, photographs of his sculptures and not paintings.  So incredible!

Some of the artwork outside the museum.

  My love and I

Sweet baby kisses and nibbles!

We did our job!