Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Some needed cheer around here

We have the January-funk. Or by "we" I mean "me." The boys have traces of the awful sickness. Their sweet baby fine bangs are covering their eyes out of neglect, their clothes go on a 3 day rotation with a rare washing, they start finding crumbs and pony tail holders and kitchen tongs to use for toys, and they actually get tired of boxed mac and cheese. For me it's much more severe. I get stuck in the January rut and I just can't fathom that the sun will ever stay out for longer than 2 hours, and Christmas just seems so darned far away, and, I, too, go on more like a 2 outfit rotation and may even have been known to just turn some pants inside out to wear two days in a row. Eww. Things just start to get stale and by things I dont just mean food and hair but like my ambition and my optimism. Are you still here? You are a true friend because who wants to read about a whiney stay at home mom with major first world problems? Not me!

So in light of my church getting a hold of my icky little heart this weekend. I have decided to push out all of these cobwebs with worship. And by worship I mean this:
Worship is our response both personal and corporate to God for who He is and what He has done expressed in and by the things we say and the way we live. -Louie Giglio, Passion City Church

Further, he said, "There is a direct connection between our appreciation for grace and my expression of worship."

Ouch. My tummy just turned retyping that from my notes. Judging by the way I am living this week my worship is pretty pathetic which just means my gratitude for what has been done in my life and on my behalf is non-existent. This morning I woke up with this funk that I thought surely would have shaken by now but it was just there.....lingering powerfully over me. I decided to do what a wise man (thank you, Jeff Henderson) taught me to do a few years ago in looking at my "pillars of faith" to see Gods hand in my life but also to know He has worked and is working all the time.....even if the January's feel like they're winning. If I can better see what God has done for me not just in the circumstances of my life but in what He did for me on the cross then wouldn't my worship explode! I'm not just talking singing and going crazy in church (though that's surely a byproduct) as you may think but like the definition states....worship in the WAY I LIVE.

So, here are some pillars in order to turn the cloud over our home into a place of genuine gratitude and beautiful worship.

1)Brad. The one that gets me without any words and even at my worst. Worth the wait. Period. Thank you, God, the ultimate Romancer.

2)Sleep, sweet sleep. I'm kinda eerie when it comes to making notes on how this body of mine is doing. My apple calendar at home is full of every workout I may have ever done, every sickness I've ever even started to catch, every doctor's appointment I've had, and every pregnancy fact I never thought I would care about. When I look back at the calendar for 2011 it is stocked full of pain. Looking back I see that this "note keeping" only fueled the process. 9 out of 10 days were full of notes about how many hours I slept, how much ambien, melatonin or drug of the week I took that night, and any physical symptoms I was feeling along side of the severe exhaustion. Until recently I couldnt even look back at those long months and heavy days but as the months of better sleep add up and I get farther and farther away from that monster I am more able to look at the whole thing objectively. And goodness is God's hand all over that year! While the January-itis is heavy it doesnt stop me from thanking God every single morning for even an interrupted 5.5 hours of sleep. We have come a looooong way, baby! Thank you, my Redeemer and Healer.

3)Three energetic, edible little boys that always can get a smile out of me and a good belly laugh even on the worst of days. Each one of them has their own gifts they bring to our family make-up. The oldest boy makes me believe in love and all things good on this earth with his huge heart. The middle boy keeps us young and on our toes at all times. ANd the little guy, oh boy, he doesn't move yet but he just makes me relaxed. He is the one that set our house into pace of life that I love....much slower and less cluttered than without him. What a number these little people have done on my faith. What a walking display of Gods hand they are for me and Brad. Thank you, Creator of life.

4) And last but most importantly, the cross. This is by far the pillar on which all of the other ones stand. It is radical grace that God came all the way to me when I couldn't in my own effort get to Him. Thank you, Savior of the world.

And here are some pictures that surely turn my lemons into lemonade.

What are your pillars of faith? What can you look back on and know for certain that God was at work in your life?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

17 days into 2013

And the only thing I know for certain is that the ground is wet.

I like to think I have the ability to dance, sing, or bake my way into happiness even after 6 days of rain but no amount of boxed cakes and new music can beat these winter blues this week. Excuse me for my little bout of SeasonAffectiveDisorder but I just can't take rain boots and drive through trips to the bank anymore. We are floating away here in Atlanta and with each passing hour of rain I think I lose a little more ambition to ever do anything more than watch morning television like I'm getting paid. I even considered calling in to the Kelly and Michael show yesterday....starting to feel a little too "close" to the only adult conversation I've had this week. And, I tell no lies - we have not changed our pajamas all week long. Day 1 and 2 of the rain were quite refreshing....laziness coupled with extensive time rolling on the floor with the babies and the excuse to cook soup and drink hot chocolate. But yesterday we hit a wall and the teller at the bank and my drive through laundry friend both refused to talk to me again on my 2nd trip of the day.

But......there are a few take aways from our week in the rain that I'll put down in the books.
*Our older boys are pure entertainment these days...for me and for eachother. Yesterday I finally went to check on them after surely more than an hour of quiet from the basement. They had made a car and of course the oldest was driving while the youngest was taking pictures of the zebras. They were driving to get hot chocolate they said. I was pretty sad to not have been included for the past hour because I shorty realized that their pretend world was way better than my 4th segment of The Dr's telling me about the flu epidemic. Then yesterday during the time when I had anticipated all would nap and I would actually find my way out of my pajamas, the boys instead played hookie from that desirable nap. They both stayed in their rooms thankfully (for way longer than should be allowed). This is the conversation I heard....{William} "Broooooooooooks! Brooks Bag-y-well! Wee-yum needs you! Brooooooooks!" The little man called his brother using his first and last name for maybe 40 minutes. The rule following, oldest child sat at his door and just repeated over and over "Lillam (which is William in 3 year old talk), I can not come help you. Mommy will get mad at you and you will not get to eat oatmeal and we will have a consequence and we will never get to go to grandmas or have treats." Geez! Whoever is the mama to these poor boys is certainly a little too intense! Anyway, moral of this story - the two oldest boys are certainly getting to that divine place where they LOVE playing with eachother, they are wildly imaginitive, and they don't always need me! If I could only now take advantage of these sweet hours of relief and get-something-done! For the love....

*Ironically, just as the two older boys are entering the world of childhood play, the littlest weeble is needing me to do things for him! Seriously, I didn't sign up for this. I signed up for a chunky, immobile, always happy, and easily entertained 6 month old. I was surely thinking as my 3rd boy that he would just jump into self care straight from the womb. Now I can barely walk out of the room without the chubster yelling for me. Literally. It's not a cry. It's a half grunt and half squeal that makes you turn around in your tracks and run to see what could be the awful matter. If I so as turn my head towards the terrible shows that have been on this week in our living room, the once-self soothed little boy stomps his feet, kicks his legs, and makes "that" sound until I turn to him and acknowledge his cuteness. What have I created? This all must be planned. I start to feel some breathing room in my daily routine and sure enough the littlest man, grows up, needs real food, and wants someone to look at him all day! (And all joking aside - I do love it! It just doesn't help my quest for even slight productivity.)

All this self sufficient talk has me sounding like a waste of a mother. That's okay. It's just the rain soaking up all of my creativity, energy, and ambition for things other than processed foods, reused clothing, and useless television. Yesterday I did hit an all time low. I will use this (not so forgiving place called the internet) as a confessional. Here's the gist of it....

I'm sure if the floods ever surmise I'll get back to those 60 phalanges that need to be tended to and I'll actually care if we eat something other than a carbohydrate (and I'll stop hiding in the bath tub) but for now it is still raining. We are still in our pajamas and The Dr's is about to start. Bring on the life altering information. Atleast we know what to do should anyone come down with the flu this season. And atleast I have cute rain boots.

Oh, and we did celebrate a birthday this rainy week so atleast we have 2 cakes to keep us going. The rain certainly hasn't stopped the aging process or our craving for sugar!

Monday, January 7, 2013

New year but no promises

As I sit down to write for the first time in weeks I realize that my time could be just as useful talking to my washing machine right now. I have become one of those half-blog-hearted moms that I used to resent. Resent is harsh but think something with about half that much intensity. Even two young kids in and I still found time atleast once a week to "commune" with the internet world but now 10 more fingers and 10 more toes under my care and I am one of "those" that get forgotten about after months of neglect.

I don't vow to write much more than I did last year but there is a small hope deep inside my warm puffer vest right now that maybe I will be able to chronicle these tales somewhere even if it's not always here. These moments with three little boys not even tall enough to ride the big rides yet are so monumental even in their own small way and I just have to be able to look back on them some how when Im more rested and less physically needed in a few years. With that little semi-promise being made I will also say this...It has been nice to start to peel my fingers off my grip on social media. I don't think I am any worse than the average conversation starved stay at home parent but my attraction was bad enough for me to want to do a little purging. It was after some well circulated blog that I read last year urging moms to look up from their phones and actually be present with their children (novel idea huh?) that it all finally clicked, pun intended, and I was okay allowing moments inside our young home to be just that - moments - and not tweets or titles of blogs or some status update somewhere. So I have certainly been a little AWOL on here but I haven't been sitting around catching up on soaps I can assure you of that. (Though I have been severely drawn to Sex in the City reruns these last few months because I think the first time around I didnt fully appreciate the fabulous character typing.)Anyway, I digress...

In complete random-Betsy-like fashion - here are some things I would like to consider doing (or stopping) in this new year and maybe some things that I just thought were fabulous about last year.

1) Can I get an "amen" to this in advance? MY CHILDREN ARE SPONGES AND THEY ARE TAKING IN EVERY SINGLE THING I DO/SAY/EAT/WATCH/SING/YELL/ENJOY/CRY OVER/DESPISE/APPRECIATE/OBSESS OVER and EVERY MISTAKE I HAVE EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT MAKING. So in this new year I need to get my act together just a tad. Christmas was a perfect example of this. I went into this gift-showering season feeling quite confidentally that our oldest boys still only knew about Jesus' birthday and had no desire for any shiny new toys. Sure candy canes make them perform any task I would like but the thought of ole St. Nick (I thought) had no power over their ever impressionable minds. Did I ever learn how wrong I was Christmas morning when our oldest bounced out of bed as early as I used to but barely after Santa had left the house and the dissappointment that boy showed that morning would cause you, too, to be considering a petting zoo for his 4th birthday party - just to make up. Santa didn't wrap the presents. "Why mommy?" Santa took au unopened toy that had been stashed in the way back of his closet for over a year and (so stupidly) gave it to his younger brother for Christmas. "Why did Santa bring William the toy that was in my closet, mommy? Will you go get my same toy that is up in my closet." {Eeek} Santa also didn't bring the poor-pitiful child the one item he had asked Santa for the 4 times his mama drug him to see him this season. "Why didn't Santa bring my magnet blocks, mommy?" {Crickets. Crickets. You, see, Santa, didn't really know that you would really remember what you had even wanted. I mean you are only three and you are as easily entertained with an empty box as you are a pet pony so Santa just didn't really go with the pony this year.} The bottom line is that once your child inches past that 2 year old mark you can't make up the stories you once made up and you can't slip the words you usually slip and you can't complain to your husband about how your neighbor was rude (and maybe some other words) because those little eyes, ears, and hearts are sucking it alllll up and it WILL come back to haunt you like when your 3 year old asks that neighbor why he doesn't have Jesus in his heart since he is mean on that cold Halloween night. Ooopsie.

2) I seek (not promise or vow) to juice my way back into health! I kmow I am pretty behind on this band wagon but I assure you we have made up for lost years of kale and rutabaga smoothies. My children BEG me every day for a frog-smoothie and I can't tell you how redemptive it feels to happily serve them up a little spinach, carrot, avocado, kale, apple, and banana cocktail. Seriously, it makes all the syrupy pancakes and weeks and weeks of peanut butter and jellies instantly vanish from my guilt thermometer. My whole family has eaten more green leafy vegetables in the two weeks since Christmas than in the last 4 years. We took the plunge and bought the 2nd most expensive "staple" in our house (next to the double bob stroller) and bought the super-duper-make-any-meal-into-a-drink Vitamix and we are sooooo glad we did! Let's just hope we continue to use this thing everyday for good reasons rather than sliding the smoothie setting down to the icecream setting and experimenting that way! We've also made baby food, soup, and mashed potatoes and I may or may not have tried to make a cake just to say I did but that will certainly go in the FAIL category. Brad says we should fry up some bacon and add it to my drinks because bacon makes everything better, right?

3) Sometime recently I also looked at that Guilt factor thing that I spoke about with the peanut butter and jelly's. It's a real thing yall and unfortunately something I have always done well. But I do have some refreshing thoughts about unneccessary guilt and I hope to see them playout this year. It's easy as a mom to fall into the same category with every other mom - the category of moms wanting to literlly be everything and do everything and make their own bread, too. Having our third child FINALLY freed much of my mind up from feeling silly guilt over silly things. I used to only take my kids to the gym nursery for 35 minutes because....well I don;t know why - so the nursery ladies wouldn't think Im a lazy mom always handing my kids over? Well, lately, I have finally started to let go a little bit and man does it feel good! Brad and I served at Passion 2013 {which deserves it's own post soon} this year and one of the things that stuck with me was actually from a Christian rapper - I never even knew that existed - he said, "If you live for peoples acceptance you'll die to their rejection." I don't know how this exactly fits with my guilt-ometer but it does. Half of my guilt is because I fear what others might think.....that I am lazy because I don't own a grass fed cow or that I am careless because my children don't know Spanish....whatever it is it's all silly and useless guilt. Luckily, our little chunkster sort of forced me out of this circle of guilt and I couldn't be happier for it.

4) Back to the social media revolt that is rising up deep in me is my desire to get back to note writing. In my corporate days I remember a man I respected actually calling me out in a team meeting for writing notes to others in the office. In college my dear friends and I wrote each other throughout the year and as you well know there is nothing like getting a hand written note in the mail. I still have notes my 11 years younger sister wrote to me in college when she was just learning how to even write sentences. I ordered my new stationary and I have a list going of the "just because" notes that I hope to start writing. 5 a week? That seems like a good place to start. Maybe you'll be a lucky receiver and if so, I urge you to pay it forward! I open my devotional (almost) everyday and have a note written to me 8 years ago about being positive. I laugh and cry about every time I look at it. My mom should be a motivational speaker when she grows up. (And obviously I should be on Hoarders!) But that brings me to my next un-promise....

5) Last but what probably would be first if there was any order to this little list is my desire to be light in this world.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Have you ever just listened to yourself throughout the day and wondered why anyone would want to be around you anyway? Sometimes Ill preface my little post-busy day rants to my husband with "Im not complaining, Im just saying..." Seriously! I can't believe he doesn't slap me right then! Last year I posted about the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. My take away from her book was to look for and even write down things that I am grateful for as it is the only way to truly experience gratitude. I don't know what my excuse is but somehow I guess I think being home with fairly helpless little human beings all day affords me the right to "just say" anytime I would like. Would you not agree that the most attractive women you know are the ones that aren't "just sayin" things for no reason. I can have a splendid day with the boys, enjoy a good run, the sun can be beaming, and my (tolerant) husband will come home to me giggling with the monsters on the floor and then Ill greet him with the list of things that went wrong or an even worse list of the things our house needs to be more comfortable. But then Ill always say - "no really, we've had a great day." Yuck yuck yuck. I hope I can look back next January and recall this as the year that I finally and seriously took control of my ungrateful heart. Even if it means writing my little daily joys down and literally zipping my lips like my mom used to say if I have nothing nice to say. The truth is - I have a treasure in knowing my Savior, and therefore, I want nothing but sweet words to come from my mouth. Words that might even show a glimpse of my heart that has been rescued by the only true redeemer. You can 'amen" that, too!

And a few more quickies
6) I VOW to keep my hands off my husband and maybe have our 2nd year in our 5 year marriage of not being pregnant!

7) Umm.....Budget? I loathe the word but I love the outcome. Come on, Mr. Husband, let's do this for real this year and experience the fruit that so many speak of when you really know where your money goes.....

8) Now that we are pretty back to cruise mode over here we are ready to have friends again. We hope to host and be hosted throughout the new year. It is so easy for us to say no to every invite and every uneasy thing and while we hope to protect our family first I do hope we can connect with our friends, new and old again. Though there aren't too many people that care to invite a family of FIVE over for a relaxing dinner we are happy to add your chaos to our chaos and pop open a bottle of wine. We have truly fallen in love with our new church and though we barely know too many people we already feel like a little family. We plan to make the effort this year to cultivate these relationships....and many others that have fallen prey to multiplying our family.

9) Sign me up for Hoarders for real! Christmas broke the camel or snapped the straw, whatever, it was insane the amount of items that came flooding into these walls! I may only have 30-45 minutes a day where little people aren't making forts out of every object in the house but I hope to spend many of those "breaks" purging every drawer and corner of this space and truly taking on a simpler attitude when it comes to "stuff." We really only need our double stroller, my Vitamix and boocoodles of Costco wet wipes to get by. The basics.

10) A friend recently wrote about reading 5 pages a day in order to read 9 books a year. I'll sign up for that. I want my children to love the classics but maybe I need to freshen up my appetite for the classics first? Maybe. :)

11) Eat at home more, people! This could contribute to about every item on this list. Yes, I'd rather over pay for a chicken sandwich than to have to clean up the kitchen again but can't we learn that three children, at dinner time, all not fully capable of caring for themselves just isnt fun and the tip we have to pay someone to clean up after us is just atrocious. For the love of all of my beloved and unused cook books - EAT AT HOME!

12) We plan to vacation this year! Woo hoo! Every year my selfless (and not much of a planner) husband has to let much of his vacation time go to waste. So far..... (keeping with number 6) we are not pregnant this year and unpregnant women are much more fun to travel with so grab your flip flops, baby, and let's live la vida loca. We need it! Our kids need it for us to be away and every once in awhile we can be even crazier and take the whole gang and make some memories. Let's pledge to not waste those days this year!

13) Which leads to the last and most important. We vow to hire lots of babysitters and I promise to not feel guilty about it because as many wise women have told me - babysitters saved their marriage in these early years and I couldn't agree more. My munchkins are my world. I don't put a thing in my mouth or attempt to use the potty without one of them questioning me so I think it is okay to have a little time for ourselves at night to just dream together. As I slowly get out of the post baby funk that I have been in the last 4 years I start to realize that I am pretty fun to be around and all of a sudden my husband reminds me of the music loving, outdoor guru, fashionably considerate hunk that I first fell for....and my goodness...it is so fun to be young and in love! BUT LET"S MAYBE TRY TO HAVE MAYBE JUST ONE YEAR WITHOUT A BABY. MAYBE? (Obviously, I say that giving God all the credit and all the control over that but just maybe???)

Cheers to a new year....hopefully a few more posts....lots of encouraging words, stock in spinach and kale , and a budget that alots plenty of funds for a babysitter!