Friday, December 31, 2010

this is not a year in review

It seems like everyone in the blogosphere is doing a "year in review" or "resolutions" post today.  I wasn't planning on posting anything today.  But I'm waiting for a sugar/water mixture to turn amber, to complete Salted Caramel Brownies.  So I guess I might as well share a couple quick things.

I don't really have any strong sentiments about 2010, which I guess is good and bad.  It was a year.  It had it's ups and downs.  A lot of challenges,  through which I tried to learn to rejoice and give thanks and count all things joy.

I quit making resolutions a few years ago.  Because I never fully keep them.  I usually have new goals and intentions.  This year is no different, but I won't bore you with them tonight.

What does matter to me, more than anything is family.  My husband, my girls and our extended family.

This was our 3rd Annual New Year's Eve trip to our favorite ice cream shop.  The first time we went, I was very large with child and we were in the midst of renovating our house so we could actually move in.  I really hope this is a tradition that lives on.  When our girls are teenagers and want to hang out with their friends, I hope they love this enough to come with us and then get on with their plans.

(my niece)

Happy New Year's everyone!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

random Christmas moments

I need to blog these before I forget them, because you know this is my cyber baby book.  Maybe I should get out Lily's baby book and actually write something in it before her 2nd birthday in a month.  Quite the overachiever I am.

We've had a great Christmas.  Full of family and love and fun.  The kids actually slept until their normal wake-up time, which was nice since we were up until about midnight the night before, wrapping gifts and hanging with my sisters who are in town.

A sidenote here:  if you have sons, for the love, please teach them to wrap gifts.  As a spent a few hours the past two nights wrapping 100% of our gifts, I wished that my husband was adept at gift wrapping.  He typically bribes one of my sisters to wrap my gifts.  This year, we only got each other one small gift since we need to spend a little money on our house.  I requested a book from him.  {i know, if you clicked on that link, you aren't surprised}  I insisted that HE wrap my one gift.  Which he did. 

And when I opened it this morning, it was still shrink wrapped to the cardboard with the invoice inside.  He claims he wanted to disguise the gift.  The one thing I SPECIFICALLY asked for.

So mother's of sons, please teach your offspring to wrap gifts.  So that they can join in on the hours of wrapping at Christmastime.  It will be a huge blessing to their future wives.  I may actually start a free community class for men, teaching them to wrap gifts.

I won't bore you with the play by play of the day, but these are the moments I want to remember...

Gracie falling in love with two more dogs...which she promptly named after the dog we had for three days, and our friends new puppy whom she loves.

Gracie & Lily getting their groove on to Justin Beiber with their cousins.

My nephew and daughter attacking their grandma in joy because they got gifts they really wanted.

After shooting off a new marshmallow gun, Gracie put one hand on her hip, the other hand in the air and said "I'm awesome."  Yes baby, you are! 

Lily...well, she was a wreck today.  She just didn't know what to do with herself!!  It was a lot of commotion that she didn't necessarily understand, and she was mostly interested in what everyone else was getting.  I purchased just two items for her stocking stuffers.  She doesn't understand it all anyways.  The baby bottle I bought broke and I had to throw it away.  I felt bad that there would just be a ball in her stocking, so I decided to put a toy cell phone in that she's been playing with for a few days.  My sister found that hysterical.  Hey--just being resourceful.

I stopped myself from putting the kids leftover Halloween candy in their stockings when I realized I hadn't bought any for them.  I should have just done it.  Miss Rose expressed extreme disappointment tonight that Santa didn't bring her any candy, but he did bring candy to her friends. 

Mind you, we don't do Santa in our house.  She's only learned about him from friends, TV, movies and the like.  But she has decided he is real, and she gets angry if we insinuate otherwise.  It's like a personal offense to her.

Before bed, as the nightly meltdown was occurring, she said the toe socks she got in her stocking were stupid and Santa shouldn't have bought them for her.  Bean said "hey, don't say that, someone had to spend money on them."  To which she retorted, "nobody bought them.  Santa's elves SEWED them."

Oh my.

These are the moments to remember though.

We were so blessed to be able to give, to our children, our family, our friends.  And so blessed with what we received as well.

Merry, Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family, to yours!

Here's the card we sent out this year! 

With Love Blue Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with custom Christmas cards at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.
Our fabulous card from Shutterfly

And one more!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

the ghost of christmas past

I had this great idea to do a 12 Days of Christmas series, sharing family traditions, Christmas stories, holiday favorites and the like.  But this pesky thing called life got in the way and time ran out before the words flowed from the keyboard.

So I thought I'd do a couple.  I'm thoughtful like that.  Because I know you find these random stories about me interesting.  [I know, I flatter myself.]

This got pretty long.  I don't usually like to read or write long blog posts.  But they happen.  Just warning you.  Maybe it makes up for the lack of posting as of late.  Happy reading!

As a young child, our Christmas celebrations were very small and simple.  We went to a church that was very conservative and discouraged the celebration of holidays.  However, when Christmas was just a few days away, my parents would decide they needed to celebrate in small fashion.  Until I was about 10 years old, that was Christmas.

Sometimes a small tree.  Sometimes no tree.  I have several ornaments bought on Christmas Eve for our tree.  Because money was always tight, often my dad would find an abandoned Christmas tree lot a day or two before Christmas and we'd give a lonely tree a home.  This became a very fun family tradition as I got older, that we even carried on after my dad had his stroke and couldn't go out and get trees with us.

My mom always put an orange, a nut, and a quarter in our stockings.  Tradition from when she was a kid.  I don't remember any gifts.  I'm sure we got them, probably few and small.  But nothing stands out.  I wasn't sad or disappointed.  I knew no different.  The traditions we had, were what made the holidays fun.  One year, we didn't have stockings, so my mom set everything out on plates for us.  Just our regular dinner plates, but we loved it!

My brother's birthday is on New Year's Eve.  One year my dad took us to Toys R Us on his birthday.  I'm not sure if the intention was to buy him a birthday gift, or to buy everyone something.  All I know is it was his birthday, and I walked out with a Cabbage Patch Kid named Lynette Georgette.  Yes, I remember her name.  In fact, I still have her and her clothes although her shoes are long gone.  I also have her birth certificate. 

One time, I was attempting to clean marks off her face with alcohol or nail polish remover and I accidentally wiped off part of one eye.  But my aunt who is an artist repainted the eye for me. 

When I was 9, we returned to Southern California where my parents were from (I was born & lived in Washington until then) and Christmas was celebrated on a bit of a grander scale.  With four kids and a stay at home mom, gifts were not the focus.  We also now had family around us to celebrate with and aunts, uncles and grandparents to bestow gifts.

In fourth grade our family was marked by my school (my brother was in second grade) as one who could use some help for Christmas.  Days before the holiday, a load of gifts was delivered along with stuffed stockings.  They were simple, cheap stockings.  Someone had cut pieces of ribbon into pieces to form our names and ages, then taped across them.  We had those stockings for years.  Actually, decades.  Only recently did we finally get rid of the last ones.

Santa was never a part of Christmas in our house.  We all eventually learned the story, but my parents didn't give us gifts from "Santa."  However, growing up my dad's house didn't have a fireplace so my grandpa made a fake fireplace, that ended up being passed down to us.  Every year we'd haul it out (it moved to probably 4-5 house with us), buy new "brick" paper for it and hang our stockings with care.  It was really hard to part with it when it was time for my parents to downsize, but we have such great memories!

We've had years of plenty.  One year was "Disney Christmas" at our house.  My dad had a paper route (which we often helped on) in a well-to-do area and the homes were very generous with tips.  I happened to have a thing for Mickey Mouse.  One sister loved all things Winnie the Pooh.  There were many Disney Store boxes under our tree that year.

We've had lean years.  Probably more of those.  It's always been the thought that counted in our family. As we've grown into adulthood, that has faded a bit.  I'd like for it to come back though.  It's too easy to get caught up in material things, in having the latest trend, in getting the hot item that year.  One of my good friends was blessed to always get the biggest ticket items for Christmas.  But my family had a lot more fun.

There was great emphasis on choosing gifts for one another.  We had an annual trip for many years to a local mountain town where we shopped for one another.  When we were young, my grandma took us shopping at the drugstore every year for my parents.  We had a $5 limit per parent.  If we wanted to spend more, we had to convince a sibling to go in with us.  Then we'd climb back in my Grandpa's Pinto and at their house we'd wrap gifts and drink eggnog cut with milk.  Oh the memories.  I miss them, especially at Christmas.

I've been more purposeful in my Christmas shopping this year.  Partially in an effort to stay on budget.  But also, to make sure I get gifts that are meaningful and will be used.  An inexpensive or sale item that gets frequent use is of greater value than something that costs more, just because it's trendy.  I wanted to get gifts my children would actually play with.  Too many times I've picked up things I thought were cute or fun, but really didn't fit them.  I hope I've done well.

I want to have holiday traditions with my children that are fun and memorable.  I don't know if we've established those yet.  They are still young though, so there is time.  I want my children to look back at Christmas' past and remember the family togetherness, the laughter, the meaningful gifts.  I don't want it to be only about what was under the tree.

Thanksgiving and Christmas have always been about family for us.  Family and food.  Good, home cooked food.  Except for See's Candy. That's a must also.   Well, the last few years we've been getting tamales for Christmas, from one of the best Mexican places in town, so I think that counts as home cooked.

I hope these are the holiday traditions we are instilling in our children.  Just writing this was a wonderful reminder of why the holidays have been important to me growing up and I need to focus more on these aspects with the girls.

I'd love to hear a special memory or favorite holiday tradition you had growing up!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

frazzled & fragmented [running through my head]

It's been too long since I blogged.  I miss this space when I don't get to visit.  Life feels fragmented right now, and I'm frazzled.

When I got home from work today, the security screen was unlocked and the front door was wide open.  At first I was freaked out and entered the house calling "hello" waiting for the boogieman to pop out.  Sure I had a baby on my hip, but I have strong legs and I could have kicked him and defended my children.  My mom said there were no contractors here today.  The best explanation is that I was concerned about getting the kids to the car through the rain, planned to come back and lock the house, but promptly forgot.  Major FAIL.

We have too much furniture.  The addition of a Christmas tree is suffocating me.  Our last house was the largest living space we'd had and we bought a couch and love seat, in addition to the comfy chair and love seat we already had.  It was perfect for that space (dual living rooms).  But now our home is smaller, and we own it.  The chair has a home with my sister currently.  And we have one too many love seats. 

Bean mentioned the idea of selling the set, and getting a couch to match the original love seat we've had.  It is our favorite.  In the meantime, we may need to move a couch to the garage before I go crazy.  Yes, those things can make me go crazy.  Even though next week we will take the tree down, and bring the couch back in.

I am not ready mentally for Christmas.  I've done all the major shopping, with the exception of one item for Lily and stocking stuffers.  But things have been so fragmented with moving out last week, being home now, but still not settled.  We've still barely been home.  I have yet to wash laundry from last week.  The rain doesn't help because we have to go outside to wash clothes.  We don't wash them outside.  That's how we get to the garage.

I want to bake.  I want to fill my home with yummy smells.  I want to bring goodies to my neighbors and my co-workers.  I need to watch White Christmas.  I have more Christmas cards to send out.

Tomorrow is my last day in the office for a week and a half.  Which is good.  As a pastor though, rarely can you fully disconnect.  Hopefully I can get enough done tomorrow that I will be able to mostly disconnect.

I'm working on not coveting this holiday season.  Bean and I aren't really doing gifts for each other this year.  Our gift is the house.  There were a few items that we weren't able to stay within the budget on (because you can't really find an entry door for $100) and if the contingency money written into the contract runs out, we'll need to pay the difference.  If not, there are many things we need for the house.  Well, things we want, but things that will help make this a home to be proud of, a complete home.

There are plenty of things I want.  Plenty of things that people around me seem to have or be getting.  But nothing that I need.  I want to be content.  I want to be thankful for what we have and that we are staying the course to pay off debt and stay within our budget.  But I will tell you, coveting is very difficult to suppress. 

Although I struggle wanting the ideal Christmas (decor, baking, gift-giving, Advent, Jesse Tree, discussions with my children), I'm thankful that this year the main focus is on family togetherness.  There is simplicity.  There isn't much distraction.  Kind of like the night the Savior was born.  Simplicity out of necessity. 

I have rambled enough for one night. 

Hopefully I'll remember to lock the house tomorrow.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Fit Friday: when fitness doesn't happen

If you've been following me on Twitter or read my blog a few days ago, this has been a crazy week.

We received a grant from the housing commission to do some upgrades on our home.  It's a huge blessing since we are getting new windows (to replace the originals from 1954), new countertops and a new sink, new tile in the bathroom, some new doors and more. 

But due to lead content in old paint, we had to move out for a week.  We've known for a few months this was coming, but there is only so much prep you can do.  We've been staying in a 2-bedroom apartment with my mother-in-law.  She has been so gracious and a wonderful hostess.  But it's a 2-bedroom apartment.

We've also had several evening events and commitments this week.  Along with Bean working two evenings.

There hasn't been a lot of exercise happening.  Not for lack of desire, because with all the stress it's been the thing I wanted most.  But I can't get up early and run on the treadmill nor can I do a DVD because it's a 2nd story and even walking across the floor is noisy.

There has been a lot of less than healthy eating.  Part of the deal is that we got a food allowance for the time away from our home.  Which is great because we've just bought convenience foods and eaten out as necessary.  But I happen to like eating my "boring" foods that I eat every week.

Fitness has not been happening.  I'm not even going to get on the scale for a few weeks.  My body feels ok, but I'm sure I've gained a bit just from the abnormal diet.  Which means once I'm back to my normal diet, the few pounds will drop off.

There are times in life, that fitness and healthy eating are next to impossible.  Yes, I could have made some different decisions about my food, but it was better for my state of mind to just go with ease. 

As long as everything goes according to plan, we'll be back in our house tomorrow night.  We have a lot of settling to do since a lot of furniture had to be moved, counters cleared etc.  But we'll be home.  In our own beds.  In our own rooms.  With the kids having their own toys.

I WILL be back to fitness next week.  I will get up early to run (even though I've slacked off a bit with the early mornings).  I will eat my fruits, veggies, whole grains and lean protein.  Oh, it sounds so refreshing just writing about it.

Unless you are a professional athlete, times like these are going to happen.

The key though, is to love your healthy routines enough (which means establishing ones that you love) that you are excited to get back to them.

Crazy as it is, I look forward to that 5:30am alarm on Monday, the concrete floor of the garage, the old creaky treadmill (thanks Sandra, I'm giving it lots of love!) and sweating out this past week.

How do you get back on track after a difficult week?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

the mom I am

Thank you so much for your supportive and encouraging comments on my last post.  Unfortunately moms are one of the most competitive communities.  Which is such a shame because each mom is different, each child is different, each life is different and you can't really compare how this all plays out.

So today, I want to toot my own horn.  Because we worry about offending others, because we don't want to brag, because we don't want to sound stuck up or snobby, we don't give ourselves enough credit for the mom we are.  I'm not saying I'm better than anyone else.  I'm not looking down on anyone who's made different choices in their life.  We are each unique and individual.  That's okay, and it's good.

This, is the mom I am.

I am a working mom, who managed to bring my babies to work with me until they were 6 months old.

I pumped the life out of my boobs, in order to provide my children with that precious liquid gold, until they were one year old.  A drop of formula never crossed their lips.  (although I chose to supplement with a little bit of organic whole milk the last few months before they turned 1, when my supply started to dwindle)

I wear my babies, and my toddlers.

I rear-face my children until they are close to two years old.  (well, not my first daughter, but I didn't really know better at that time)

I insist on some form of protein at almost every meal.

I co-slept with my babies, even though I thought I never would. Everyone got more sleep that way, and I cherish those memories of their tiny bodies nestled in as close as possible to my body.

I let my children eat their share of candy and treats, and they even drink Sprite at restaurants.  (in their eyes, this makes me very cool)

My sick children sleep in bed with me, even though the idea of sleeping in their infectious germs gives me the creeps.  (so far, I rarely get their illnesses)

I ignore housework, a lot, so that I can cuddle on the couch with my kids.

I let them lick the spoon, and the beaters, and wipe the bowl clean when we bake.

I put them to bed on time 75% of the time, because everyone is happier that way

We listen to a lot of worship music in the car and the house.  We also listen to the radio and fun dance music.

I burp and fart.  Hey, girls need to do know it's okay to do that stuff too.  Although there are times we emphasize manners too.

I bring the older girls to church with me sometimes, at 7:30am on Sundays, even though they wreak havoc in my office and run through the hallways screaming (you think I jest, I don't, they really do).  Because how often does a mom get to bring her kids to work with her.

I wake up early (sometimes) to exercise, so that I don't have to miss precious time with them later in the day.

When I get home from work, I gather my children to me, like a mother hen gathering her chicks, and we soak each other in.

This, and more, is the mom I am.  The mom I am proud to be.

Your turn now.  Toot your horn in the comments!  What makes you stand out as a mom?  What are you proud of?  Nothing is off limits!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

the mom I'm not

I have quite a long list of blogs that come into my Google Reader.  This gives me great reading material as I unwind before bed.  I rarely read every post in every blog.  I love finding a blog where I have something in common with the author, maybe they are also a runner, or they have all daughters, or another working mom.  Sometimes I have nothing in common with them, but I enjoy their writing style or their take on life, or their life journey is fascinating. 

Sometimes though while reading blogs, I'm overwhelmed by the mom I'm not.  The mom I wish I was. 

I am not the mom who is doing anything related to Advent with her children.  I wish I was.  There are so many wonderful and easy ideas out there.  But finding the time to put it together, and having an opportunity each day to do it with the children--just isn't something I have the energy for.

I am not crafty.  I don't often do crafts with my children.  I don't do a good job decorating our home.  I see things I like.  I read blogs with great do-it-yourself ideas.  But I'm not a crafty mom.

I rarely get to volunteer at my daughter's school.

I have spent very little time teaching my almost 4-year old letters and numbers.

I laugh at my kids when I should probably discipline them.  I yell when I should be patient.  I don't follow through with consequences.

These, and so much more, are the mom I'm not.  It's easy to be disappointed in myself. To think I should try harder, do more.  Make more an effort.  Be more selfless. 

Yet, I can't be defined by the mom I'm not.  By the mom I think I should be. 

Because I am a mom who is helping provide a good future for my children.  And working is a huge dynamic in my mothering.  My heart is to be home with my children.  I believe one day, that will happen.  But for now, I believe I'm doing what God wants me to do.  My parents never owned a home.  We usually had cars that broke down all the time.  My parents weren't able to contribute to my college education.  I love my parents dearly and I loved my life.  But I have the opportunity right now, to set my family up differently and I don't want to waste it.

I am a mom who loves my children deeply.  My favorite thing is to be with them.  They are my priority.  Yes, I take time for myself; I run, go out for girls nights, rare date nights with my husband.  But these things make me a better mom, and I try to do them in such a way that has the least impact on my kids and my time with them.

I may not be crafty or good at imaginative play, but I will sit on the floor and let my kids crawl all over me.  When the baby is crying, I'll hold her.  When Gracie is grumpy, I cuddle her.  When Miss Rose is exhibiting bad behavior, I'll first shower her with love and affection, because often that solves the problem.

I just love being a mom, being with my kids.  The mom I'm not, doesn't define me.  The mom I'm not, doesn't matter as much as sometimes I think it is.  That's not the mom God made me. 

Someday, I hope I have the time and energy to learn to be more crafty.  As my children get older, we'll get to do more things like celebrating Advent and nightly Bible reading.  I have to remind myself, they are young.  There is time.

My kids don't know the mom I'm not.  They just know the mom I am, and I know they love me.

Monday, December 13, 2010

which way is up?

I am so incredibly disoriented in life, it's quite pitiful.

I love my routines and patterns.  My kids thrive on them as well.  Our life is never wrapped up in a box with a nice bow on it--but 50-75% of the time, things go as planned.  Some semblance of routine is required to keep us on track with the demands of a working mom, a first grader, two little girls and the rest of life.

All that has been thrown out of the window in the last several days.  Some was expected, some was not.

Last week, Bean got the opportunity to work some hours at his former part-time job at the church.  It's short-term, but you can always use extra money, right?  Especially this time of year.  Especially when I unexplicabely broke a tooth last week and now have a temporary crown and will go back next week for the permanent one.  Which will necessitate getting a new custom-molded mouth guard which prevents me from clenching my teeth at night, most likely a stress/tension related habit.  But I have TMJ and am prone to headaches, so this mouth guard is a must for me.  And it's super sexy when I talk with a lisp at night to Bean.  Just ask him.

Anyhow, this means that Bean worked 5-6 hours on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.  In the midst of holiday extravaganzas and other such busyness, which I navigated on my own so that he could work.  That was the unexpected, for which we are thankful though.

The expected was moving out of our house last night, for a week.  The fact that it was expected, didn't make it any easier.  So much couldn't be done until the day of or the night of.  It was pointless to do much to prepare, which of course made me freak out in my head the last few weeks.

At 4:30pm last night, it began.  I packed for myself and the kids.  Clothes, toiletries, anything we might need.  We got dinner, and bathed all the kids early.  Headed over to his mom's apartment, where the kids proceeded to bounce off the walls for about thirty minutes, before we put them to bed.  His mom likes to keep her house quite warm.  We were broiling. The kids ended up sleeping in their underwear.  We are having an odd heat wave right now.  But still.  It was hot.  And she was wearing a sweatshirt.

Bean and I then returned to the house to gather the rest of what we needed.  We also had to clear the floor, tub and vanity of the hall bathroom.  We moved furniture away from windows (which are all being replaced). We had to clear off every surface in the kitchen (new granite countertops, whoo-hoo!).  Technically since there is lead abatement involved, we aren't supposed to return to the house until it's cleared.  However Bean was trying to convince me that it would be easier for him to return after work hours each night, to get what we needed for the next day.  He's a raging lunatic sometimes.

Last night, Miss Rose & Gracie slept on a queen Aero Bed, I slept (kind of) on a twin bed and Lily was in a pack-n-play.  Bean slept on the couch.  None of us slept well.  Miss Rose said she woke up every time she moved because the Aero bed was noisy.  Lily woke at one point and was crying, so I brought her into bed with me for a bit.

It's just odd.  Everything is out of sorts right now.  And like the title says today, I have no idea which way is up, what time it is or what day it is today.  The normal organized chaos of my life has become very unorganized chaos. 

We are so thankful to my mother-in-law for opening her home to us, for Bean's grandma moving out for the week to give us a bedroom to spread our stuff out.  The other option was staying in a residence hotel in a less than satisfactory part of town.  This is much, much better.

Hopefully, the novelty has worn off and everyone will be good and tired tonight, and sleep well.  The chaos continues though, because we have a holiday dinner to attend.  Miss Rose will stay with Grammie so she can go to bed on time.  The little girls will go to the home of a co-worker for the evening.  Since Grammie watched the kids all day while I'm working, we didn't want to stick her with them all again tonight.

*Sigh*  If you see me, in person, or in the interwebs, please show me which way is up.

I may not find it again until Sunday or Monday.

{but, I am doing my best to still choose joy because it's all for a reason, for a purpose and we will return to an upgraded house, for which we've barely had pay anything}

Thursday, December 9, 2010

fit friday: holiday

The holidays are upon us!  Christmas is just two weeks away now.  Parties, events and holiday cheer are in full effect!  Co-workers are bringing in baked goods.  Schedules are full, meaning life is hectic and nutritious eating and exercise are not always on the top of your priority list.

We all know how easy it is to gain weight during the holidays.  Even just a few pounds can have a great impact on how you feel both in self-esteem and physically. 

My goal is usually to maintain my weight during the holidays.  If I have a losing goal (which it seems like I always do, because I'm always above my ideal weight) I put it on the back burner.  You'd think with all the running I did for my half marathon, I would have lost several pounds.  But if you've ever watched the Biggest Loser Marathon episode, those who train hardest usually lose the least weight.  I'm okay with that.  I am proud of my half marathon accomplishment and I have no regrets.

There is one very easy method I use to attempt to maintain my weight.  It's easy, but it does take discipline.

I do my best to eat normal and nutritiously for as many meals as possible each day/week etc.  I eat my oatmeal or cottage cheese like always in the morning.  Basic lunches and balanced dinners; healthy snacks.

When an event or special food comes along, I will indulge a bit.  I try not to overeat in these instances, but I enjoy the food.  I enjoyed tri-tip, mashed potatoes, Caesar salad and pumpkin mousse at a dinner on Monday.  I ate some pumpkin cake on Wednesday.  Today was a "normal" day.  I ate well today and I ran.

I feel like this approach is balanced.  It works for me because if I deny myself too much, I'll over-indulge.  And if I don't stick to my normal foods as much as possible, I'll eat way too much!

That's how I deal with all the extra calories at the holidays.  How do you do it?

Monday, December 6, 2010

What do you do?

What do you do, when your almost 2-year old decides yelling all the time is meaingful communication?  And by yelling, I mostly mean yelling the world "no" over and over.  And by yelling, I mean REALLY LOUD.  What do you do, when she thinks it's funny to not come when you call?  And she just looks at you with a smirk and says no.  And when she does this all day long?

What do you do when your 3-and-a-half year-old is obsessed with potty talk and actions?  As in, pulling down her tights and panties to moon her dad, completely out of the blue.  (and to our knowledge and her confirmation, she hasn't ever seen this, she just felt like it).  What do you do when she instead of giving you a goodnight kiss, she sticks her booty in your face and says "kiss my butt" even when you don't use the word "butt" in your house.

What do you do, when your first grader only has negative remarks and responses to just about everything in life?  Even though her life really is quite good, she can only see the negative, which usually is what she perceives as negative.  Or sometimes it seems like she fabricates negativity, just for the sake of being negative. 

What do you do?

Oh, did you think I was going to answer the question?

I wish I could.  I wish I could answer these questions.  Because they plague me.  I do my best to deal with each situation.  But it's exhausting.  And my punishments, the consequences, at the moment, don't seem to make a difference.  My days and nights are filled with yelling, booties and negativity.

Welcome to my world.

Even so, I like my little world and the little people that live in it.  But oh they are challenging.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

balance part 2: sometimes, you gotta do nothing

This is Part 2 in a brief series I'm blogging on finding balance in your life.  Check out Part 1 here.  I said I would post the next part the rest day.  But I lied.  Or actually, life just got in the way.  But nonetheless, here's more.  There is at least one more post to come, maybe two.  I'm verbose.

Remember the pie of each day?  Every day how you spend your time is going to vary.  Your priorities are going to change with the needs of your family and the demands of life.

Guess what?

You can ALWAYS be doing something.  You know.  You've been there.  You collapse onto the couch after you get the kids down for a nap, or down for the night.  Staring you in the face is the laundry yet to be put away, the dishes piled in the sink, the empty lunch bag that needs to be filled for the morning.  There is always something to do.  That something sometimes is fun or entertaining.  But it's still something.

But, you can always be doing NOTHING.  The few moments to check your email or bank balance turns into two hours on Facebook and blog-hopping.  (of course I've never done that, just heard it can happen)  The housework and household management piles up.

Balance is know what to do, when to do it and when to not do anything.

Things have to get done.  Picking up the living room, having a semi-clean kitchen and making my daughter's lunch the night before make for a much smoother morning in our household.  That doesn't mean those things are always done every night.  But most nights they are.  That's something that does need to be done.  Like I've said before, there are other things I don't worry about as much.  My dresser is piled high with random papers, keepsakes and paraphernalia.  But that's not something I feel pressured to take care of.

You know what your hot buttons are.  You know what your husbands hot buttons are.  My husband detests a sinkful of dirty dishes.  On a Saturday when our family is home most of the day, he probably does dishes at least five times.  No joke.  I don't care as much about dirty dishes.  I'd rather they pile up and then I'll do them all at once.  But because I know how Bean gets with the kitchen, I almost always try to have the dishes done when he gets home from work (on the days I'm home).  If I choose to do nothing, he immediately goes to the kitchen to wash dishes when he gets home from work, which sometimes annoys me.

But some days, if I've been on a big outing with the kids or done a lot of errands or maybe I'm just exhausted, I'll let the kitchen slide.  And Bean lives.  There are days that I choose to do nothing that can wait.  Because it's right for that day.  Because I want to snuggle my kids on the couch while we have downtime and I need to just lose myself in mindless reading or television.

That's balance.

When I lack balance in my life, when I do too much or when I don't do enough, I pay the price.  I crash on the days I'm off.  I spiral downward.  Bean loves when I use that phrase.  It's not a good sign.  By the end of my workweek, I'm a mess.  I have no motivation to do the things I need to do or should do.  I don't eat right.  I don't exercise.  One negative thought turns into about 1,000 and all of the sudden I'm finding every little thing wrong with life and it's the end of the world.  I may appear to have it all together, but this really does happen.  Inside, I'm falling apart.

When I have balance in my life, I am happy and fulfilled.  I find joy in the small things, even if the big picture isn't what I would like it to be.  The things that are un-done don't bother me.  I am thankful for the blessings in my life.  I can see the blessings in my life.  I recognize the value of eating well and exercising.

If you stop to think on it, you can probably identify similar patterns in your own life. 

What happens when you lack balance in your life? 

What does it look like when you know what needs to be done, when to do it and when do not do anything?

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I don't think I could love her more.

Friday, December 3, 2010

al rescate {oh gracie #2}

Gracie is a fan of Go, Diego, Go.  She is an animal lover.  Where the girl is, some sort of stuffed animal isn't far away.  Right now it's mostly dogs. 

(this dog is actually a real one...but can you see the love on her face?  it was halloween, hence the dress.  however, such attire isn't that uncommon for her.)

Gracie is also frequently constipated.

I know, big topic change here.  Stick with me.

A few days ago Gracie was in the bathroom again, trying to work things out.  It had been a few days since things had been worked out and her tummy was hurting.

Me: "Did your poop come out?" 

Gracie: "NO!  My poop is stuck.  I think someone needs to rescue it."

(she rocks outfits like this all the time.  notice the two different colored gloves, among other fabulous-ness) 

Oh Gracie!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Hello out there

I'm writing this on my phone with a baby on my chest. Lily has a slight case of pneumonia. But that still means she's been running a fever for 3 days and is pretty miserable.

She's slept with us some or all of the last several nights. Her fever is finally coming down. I'm not sure if her refusal to continue sleeping in her bed right now is due to not feeling well or a new habit.

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, but it's been back to the daily grind this week and last week already feels like a distant memory. I am now counting down to our family time at Christmas.

My goal is to have our Christmas shopping done in the next week. We have to move out on the 12th for a week while our windows are replaced as well as other work in the house. Christmas will be a week away when we move back in. I want to enjoy the season and rush around.

I've been reflecting a lot on the verse in James that says "Count it all joy when you face trials of any kind." Everyday has trials. They come in all shapes and sizes. The challenge is to count them joy.

Joy when the kids make a mess again.
Joy when the checking account is running on empty.
Joy when we are kicked all night by a sick baby in our bed.
Joy while we wait on God to move mountains.

Joy to the world, the Lord has come.

This is a season of joy. And even when faced with trials, I want to count each and every one joy.

You all can hold me accountable.

(and I confess I'm struggling to count the baby who won't sleep in her bed, again, a joy. But, she will only be this young and small once. And I do love cuddling her.)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, November 27, 2010

oh Gracie!

Oh Gracie!  This girl, she dances to the beat of her own drummer. 

She loves her sisters, but mostly enjoys playing independently.  She is on the brink of becoming a little girl, but still holds on to some of her baby/toddler ways.

The things that come out of this girl's mouth!  They make me laugh.  And they scare me.

"I don't want to wear the striped tights {ribbed}.  Tigers like stripes on their backs but little girls don't like them on their legs."

The other day Gracie whacked me on the bum out of the blue.  I said, "why did you do that?"  Her response was, "Well, I like when I hit my own bum."  At which point she stuck her bum out and slapped it.  Oh boy.

Last night we celebrated my youngest sister's birthday.  Don't all 24-year-olds want to dance to "Whip My Hair" and "Single Ladies" with their nieces and nephews?  It was a paarr-tay!  After saying goodbye to some family, we walked back into the house.  Gracie pointed to my sister and said, "can we keep her?"  Melt.Your.Heart. 

Oh, and tonight.  In the midst of another dance party (we're doing a lot of this lately) Gracie stopped and came and sat next to me.  She looked at me and said, "I need a break.  My nipples are sore."  WHAT?

I have no words.  Well, two words.  OH GRACIE!

I'm afraid this post might become a regular series.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


I have many things to be thankful for.  Wonderful children, a great family, awesome friends.  Our house is in the midst of renovations that are mostly *free* (once we live here 10 years).  We have a brand new automatic garage door, a new pantry and cupboards and drawers and more to come.

But, I'm dedicating this Thanksgiving post to my husband.  For whom I am extraordinarily grateful.

Bean is an amazing husband.  He contributes so much to the family.  He makes dinner about half of the week.  And he always does the dishes because that's what he loves.  He does all the yardwork and landscaping.  He does a lot of household and children's laundry (I fold and put away).

I almost never have to get gas in the van.  Bean willingly does almost all of our store runs.  Even when it's 3 times in one day.  Because he'll go for one thing.  And then we'll realize we need something else.  And then I forget to have him get milk, so he goes one more time.  Luckily the grocery store is two short blocks away!

He is a great support to my ministry.  It's impossible to be in vocational ministry without the support of your spouse.  He always is on kid duty on Sundays.  Getting three girls to church isn't always the easiest thing.  Bean is a fantastic father.  The girls love him so much.  When we are driving home after work they always want to know if he's home already and when they see his car, it's like we arrived at Disneyland.

As a working mom, in a not always traditional job, I need the help and support of my husband so much.  I rely on his involvement.  It's one of the reasons I haven't had a nervous breakdown.  Bean talks me down when I'm on the edge.  He listens.  He prays.

I am so thankful for the husband God blessed me with.  He is everything I wanted, and so much more.  Sure we banter and bicker.  We get annoyed with each other.  But in the end, there is no one else we'd rather share this life with--the ups and the downs.

These are the words to the first song we ever danced to.  Bean catches me, every time.

can you sleep as the sound hits your ears, one at a time?
an unspoken balance here,
unabridged for so many years
that i should stare at receivers to receive her isn't fair
don't worry i'll catch you
don't ever worry
your arms in mine, anytime
i wouldn't trade anything
you're still my everything
to my surprise, before my eyes, you arrive
don't worry I'll catch you
don't ever worry
i'm still breaking old habits, habits when you pulled the wool over me
i can see everything, everything remembering "jinx removing"
don't worry i'll catch you
don't ever worry
no need for reminding... you're still all that matters to me

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

let's get it started!

Tonight is the first night of my holiday!  I decided to take tomorrow off from work.  It would have been a half day, but the energy required for waking, readying and feeding children, dropping them off and getting to work just wasn't worth it!

This way I can have a relaxing morning, get my house in order, shop for baking and cooking and just soak in my kids.  Because that's what I love to do on my days off. 

I started my holiday with a fabulous run.  I got started a little later than intended, so I was under the gun to finish before it was pitch black and before my husband and/or children imploded.  Well, really they do fine without me; they just like when I'm there too.

My legs were feeling spry and springy, so I decided to take off at a faster pace than normal.  Then I decided to just push it the whole run.  If I can run 4-5 miles around 9:00/mile on a treadmill, I should be able to transfer that to the road.  There were a few times I had to slow down because I was getting a side-stitch, but mostly I was booking it. 

As it got darker and darker, that was even more impetus to be speedy.  I usually run on the street because the asphalt is better than concrete sidewalks.  But it got too dark for me to feel safe since I really wasn't dressed for night running.  I had to be careful on the sidewalks because there are uneven breaks and bumps from tree roots.

I was pretty happy when I finished to see that I ran almost 3.75 miles and my pace was 9:30.  I just need to keep pushing myself.  I have been thinking it would be fun to run the same half marathon for the next few years just for the sake of trying better my time each year.

It was a good start to what should be several great days.  No one is sick or injured as of right now.  family is coming in.

There are days that I'm overwhelmed and discouraged.  There are things I wish were different, and maybe one day will be.

But overall, I truly love my life.

Monday, November 22, 2010

running through my head

I see that this is my 500th post.  Had I noticed I was nearing that mark before, maybe I would have planned something special.  Let's be honest though, I would have had great intentions, but it probably still wouldn't have happened. 

So much in my life seems to be low priority right now.  High priority is just living, loving my kids and paying bills.  Well--loving God of course is the highest.  I have projects I'd like to complete, ideas for decorating and organizing, books I want to read.  But most days all that falls to the wayside for sake of survival.  It's a good survival, don't get me wrong.  I just wish I had time to do more than survive.

Last Wednesday night I dragged myself into Bible Study.  I was tired at the end of my work-week as I always am.  I saw an empty seat and dropped into it asking if it was free.  In jest one of the ladies said "yes, but it's going to cost you."  Sometimes I can come up with some witty in a situation like that.  Not that night.  All I could be was brutally honest.  Without even thinking about it I said, "it's the end of my work week and I have nothing to give."  Which was true.  We laughed about it.  But I must say I caught myself off guard with the exchange.

I've been thinking today on my optimistic spirit.  I guess it's good to be an optimist.  But that also means you trust too easily and aren't as cautious as you should be in some situations.  And it's so hard to understand pessimists.  I find myself being too judgemental.  And I repent and ask God to help me with my attitude.  And then I pray for those I have trouble understanding. 

God seems to be sending a lot of pessimists my way.  I don't really appreciate this learning experience.  I struggle with knowing how to relate to others who approach life differently.  Usually I just want to scream.  But I don't.  My other instinct is to climb inside my bubble and close out most of the world.  If I don't hear it or read it than it won't affect me.  But that's not a healthy approach either.  I'm still figuring it out I guess.

I'm really looking forward to the holiday this week.  I decided to take Wednesday off from work.  I have a lot of vacation time built up.  Which means I'm not using it.  I probably should use more of it.  I plan to get organized for cooking and baking and having my sisters in town.  They know my house is usually messy, and I think they have grace for me, but I like to pretend I keep things better organized when the come to town. 

I desperately want to experience the holidays this year.  Two years ago we were closing on the house during the holiday season and work began to ready it for us to move in.  I was also large with child.  It was a stressful time.  Last year we were more settled and we did have some special family moments, but Lily was still under a year old.  I was nursing and pumping which takes time and energy.  I had some intentions that were never realized.

This year, I want to put up Christmas lights outside.  Even if it's just a few strands on our porch.  I want to make Christmas goodies to share with family and friends.  I want to read the Christmas story as a family.  I don't want this year to pass by. 

My babies are growing and that makes me a bit sad.  Next year Lily will be leaving toddlerhood and talking in complete sentences.  There is something so precious to me about celebrating the holdays babies and young children.  It's especially magical for me.  In fact, had God not sent Lily in his timing, my timing would have been a babe born between September and November.  A snuggly newborn to photograph in a stocking for Christmas.

I digress.  I could talk about babies forever.

I am such a work in progress.  My brain is working overtime lately to figure me out.  To figure out what God is doing with this mess.  To him I know that I am a beautiful mess, but most days I can't see the beautiful part.  I see my flesh and how far off the mark I am.  There are so many paths right now I don't have the courage to travel down.  This hanging in the balance though, isn't so great either.

I need about two solid hours of loud, intense worship and a good cry.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


I write a lot about fitness and running. 

But I strongly believe in balance and enjoying life.

Such as holidays.  They should be enjoyed.  With good food.

For the past few years, I have a tradition of burning a lot of calories on Thanksgiving morning.  It started sisters extended, with a homemade Turkey Trot we called the "Pie k".  You ran as many "k" as you could for the sake of eating pie later!  We even had tank tops we wrote our favorite foods on.  The next year it poured rain and our Pie k got moved to the gym.

I haven't quite decided what calorie burn I'll have on Thursday, but one of the reasons is this.


It's a different take on pumpkin pie and it's so yummy.

1 lb can of pumpkin
1 12-oz can of evaporated milk
(in whatever amount you like.  you can use the amounts on the can of pumpkin for pie--or use pumpkin pie spice)
1.5 cups sugar
4 eggs

Mix together and smooth into a 9x11 pan

On the top of the pie mix sprinkle 1 yellow cake mix
Melt 2 sticks of butter (1 cup) and pour evenly over the cake mix.
Top with pecans.

You can use whole pecans and lay them across the entire pan or you can chop them up as chunky or as fine as you like.  Or you can do half and half.  Or you can skip the pecans.

Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

Skeptical?  Give it a try early this week.  Bring it to work.  Send it with your husband to work.  Or you may just keep it for yourself.

Happy pre-Thanksgiving weekend!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fit Friday: Race Wrap-up

I promise, this is the last time I will blog about this race!  Obviously, it's been pretty consuming--in a good way.  Just a few more things I want to process, and then I'm moving on!

I realized through this process that there is a lot of science and wisdom behind training schedules.  As I've said before, this was the first time I'd followed a training schedule.  For my birthday in June, Bean got me a subscription to Runner's World.  One of the first issues I got was all about Half Marathon's.  One article had several training schedules based on specific time goals.  I chose to do the training schedule for a two-hour half.  I felt that it was good goal because my typical pace was similar what I run.

I feel like the training schedule played a huge part in my ultimate time.  I knew from my speed days and tempo runs that I could run 8 and 9 minute miles.  I learned what my body felt like at different paces, which helped me gauge where I was at during the race.  Especially after I did my 13 mile training run.  It wasn't the greatest run and so I knew I could finish the half marathon in less time.

I haven't been able to run all week though, which has killed me!  My toe is very tender and I haven't want to subject it to shoes yet.  I think I may give it a try tomorrow.  My body and soul are aching to run.  I miss sweating.  This experience makes me thankful I haven't sustained any major injuries while running.

Up next, I want to keep running but also work on strength and toning. This takes much more discipline for me.  I have a three month membership to 24-Hour fitness that I can activate at any time.  I also have several boot camp sessions I've bought at major discounts, so those will help too.  I think strengthening my upper body and core will help me perform better in running--and feel better too!

Miss Rose is dying to play some computer games, so I'm done here for now! 

Happy Fitness!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

family photos

I feel a bit schizophrenic when it comes to family photos.  On the one hand, I want the picture perfect shot with everyone looking and smiling, every hair in place, with personalities shining through.  On the other hand, I'm all about reality.  Reality is, Miss Rose doesn't care for taking photos most of the time.  Gracie gets very goofy and we are lucky to get Lily to look at the camera and smile at the same time.

It's been a few years since I sent out Christmas cards.  Life has just been too overwhelming.  But this year, I am determined to do it.  I love receiving photo cards in the mail and I want to be on the giving end as well this year.

We have two shots at getting a good photo this year.  Opportunity #1 actually went really well.  I kinda want to share it today, but I haven't decided if I will.  I might save it for later :)

Shutterfly is giving bloggers the opportunity for 50 free photo cards this year and I'm so excited!  I've used Shutterfly for years for many things!  Photo prints, enlargements, photo books and calendars.  They are fast, easy and great quality!

Some of the top runners for our card this year are:

I love the classic, polished look of it!

This one is great for sharing multiple photos...if I have that many decent ones to share!

Another strong contender!

Check out all the photo card options here! There are also folded cards.

Too busy or overwhelmed this holiday season?  Then check out the Valentine's Day Cards!!  These would be so fun to send out.

Once I choose a photo and create a card, I'll share it here.  So, you'll just have to wait :)

Are you a blogger who'd like to get 50 free cards yourself?  Go here and sign up with Shutterfly  It's that easy.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I ran my heart out

This was a good weekend.  I achieved two goals, realized two dreams in my life.

I taught my first course.  The whole reason I went to seminary for my Master's degree was because I had an interest in teaching at the college level.  But things like marriage, jobs and babies have put goals like that on the back burner.

Our church recently began hosting a School of Ministry for those seeking ministers credentials.  I taught the first of a two-part Old Testament class.  I love the Old Testament and I loved teaching this class.  I've had some incredible, intelligent professors (as in: one's name is in many NIV Bible's).  Compared to them, I know so little.  But I have the heart for it.  And I think I was able to stir the student's hearts as well, and that was my goal. 

And of course, the update you've been perhaps waiting for.

I ran the race.  And for me, I ran it really well.  And I'm really happy and proud.

When I crossed the finish line, the clock read 2:12.  I knew it had taken me a few minutes to cross the start, so I was anxiously awaiting the chip results.  And they read:

2:12:21 2:09:25 9:53
I ran13.1 miles in less than 2 hours and 10 minutes and I my average pace was UNDER ten minutes an hour.  This is a BIG deal for me people.  That 10-minute mile has been a wall I couldn't break for a few years now. 

But I couldn't have done it by myself.  So, here are some shout-outs.

To my husband who has endured my 5:30am wake-ups for months now.  I know you rarely go back to sleep after I get up, but you never complain.  And you put up with me taking a few hours out of our only family day to run double-digit miles.

To my children, who don't like when mommy leaves on Saturday mornings, but are good sports.

To my sister, who invited me to go running for the first time 6 years ago.

To my high school friend, who I haven't seen since high school, but had her mom deliver her old treadmill to my house, when I put a silly plea out on Facebook (not thinking I'd get a response)

To my friend, who helps me find and get the right shoes.

To the Shredheads and those who Run Like A Mother for always inspiring me to be like you.

To the many blogs I follow written by running moms.

To the friends and family who registered for the race too.  It was a blast to see you before, during and after the race.  Let's do it again soon.

To the guy with spikey hair and the girl with the blonde ponytail who were my muses during the race.  I don't know you, but I got to know your backs pretty well.  I liked your pace and tried to stick with you.  I'd lose you, but then I'd speed up and find you again.  And when I had to stop at mile 10 and use the bathroom, my whole goal was to catch up to you again.  Which I did, and I finished right behind you.

Thank you.

I ran my heart out.  And almost ran my legs off too, judging by how I'm hobbling around today.  My blister got bigger (I think I'm going to have to drain it).  And I almost ran my toenail off.  Gracie finished the job tonight by pouncing on my foot.  My toenail was seriously hanging by two threads of skin, which I cut off.  Bloody mess, but not gushing.

I'm still so tired today.  But it was oh so worth it!

(yes, this photo is a microcosm of my life.  no child actually smiling at the camera.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

mommy days

It's Wednesday night.  By this time of the week I'm pretty exhausted.  Four full days of work and life.  Add in a sick baby girl this week--which means a little less sleep and interrupted sleep--and it's been a week.

Wednesday night is also a great night because it means "mommy days" are coming up.  When Miss Rose was little she always wanted to know what the plan for the day was.  Somehow I started identifying the day by who she would be with--especially since her week has always been split between different family members and a daycare for a while too.  The days I was home we called "Mommy days.'

This title has carried on of course, and now Gracie often asks if "today is a Mommy day".

I love Mommy days.  They love Mommy days. 

Tomorrow will be extra fun because Miss Rose is off school for Veterans Day.  I think we're heading to the Children's Museum.  I recently scored a family membership for 1/2 off.  We haven't ever been before, but I hear it's lots of fun--very hands on.  I'm sure it will be kind of busy since it's a holiday, but we'll give it a shot.

Over at Work, Wife, Mom....Life it's Working Mommy Wednesday and Julia wants to know about lunch habits!  I'm sure this is just going to be fascinating.

Well, I'm in the office three days a week.  I usually bring lunch two days and buy out one day.  Tuesdays are our staff meetings and we always go out to lunch afterwards.  I try to keep my meal at $15 or less.  Sometimes I wish I didn't spend that money each week, but it's an important time for fellowship and relationship with my co-workers.

When I bring my lunch, what I bring often depends on how much time I have to prepare it.  Peanut butter & jelly is a fan favorite.  Seriously.  I love that sandwich.  A great mix of protein and carbs, sweet and salty and I usually have it on whole grain bread.  A new favorite is using sandwich thins, toasting them and putting egg salad on them.  I also love this recipe--so easy and tasty.  I haven't made it in a few weeks.  I think it's time.  I also usually have a piece of fruit, and maybe something crunchy.  More often than not, I have a few small pieces of candy too, if I have to be honest.  I don't bring it...but one of the offices is always stocked and I have a hard time not going in there!

That's what's for lunch! 

Monday, November 8, 2010

sweetest days//cyber baby book

I've been terrible about keeping a baby book for Lily.  I have one.  And I will fill it in someday, using the things I've recorded here on my blog.

Lily has a pretty extensive vocabulary already.  Perhaps my memory is fuzzy, but it seems like she is saying a lot more at 22 months than the other girls were.  I'm sure much of that comes from being the youngest and trying to keep up with her big sisters.

Here are many of the things Lily says.  And the way she says them.

Hold you
Yes, yeah, no (often she says these in a sing-song adorable!)
Brush (for brushing teeth)
Help you
Hello (usually refers to the phone)
Sprinkle (Sunday, in reference to a donut)
Names of about 8 family members and several friends too
Happy to you (happy birthday)
Rocka-baby (Rock-a-bye-Baby)
Buckle (in the carseat)

There are so many more too!  She repeats most anything and adds it to her vocabulary.

  Lily loves to help push the stroller.  It's a lot easier when I have the smaller umbrella stroller.  But she insists on bending down to find something to push on the jogger too.

She is still incredibly attached to her Wubby.  That's the brand name.  But she calls it the Wee-Ooo.  It's pretty much the cutest thing.  I need to get it on video before she stops saying it that way.

How you see it in this picture is the ideal placement of the Wubby.  She wants the tag, close to her nose while she sucks her two middle fingers on her left hand.  Miss Rose and Gracie love finding her blanket for her because she gets so happy about it! 

Lily and Gracie fight over babies every day.  Whichever doll one has, is the one the other one wants.  Even though we must have like 20 dolls.  Seriously, I had like three dolls as a kid.  Which I still have and the kids play with.  But my kids have SO many already.  Only a few were actually purchased by us.

Lily is absolutely precious with the dolls.  She cradles them or puts them over her shoulder while patting their back and saying "shhhh."  She rocks them, wraps them in blankets, carries them in a sling (as pictured above) and feeds them bottles.  She sways and bounces.  It's incredible how much she has picked up on how a baby is cared for.

I am in denial that my sweet baby is going to turn two in just a few months.  I'm in denial that soon I won't have a baby any longer, I'll have a toddler.  I'm in denial that these last few months are my last months having a baby at all.  I'm such a baby-junkie.  If Bean wasn't snipped, I'd probably be talking him into another baby at this point.  Just one more, I promise.  Sigh.

I may just go pick her up and cuddle her while she sleeps tonight.

These are the sweetest days.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

on achieving balance (hint: impossible)

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of speaking at a mom’s group that a college friend helps lead.  While there, I also met another blogger.  I had come across her blog not too long before meeting her and was intrigued because she is a mom to three girls and I knew of her husband and their band from my college days also.  Check out her blog.  You’ll keep going back.

Anyhow, I digress.

Back when I spoke, I intended to share the content here on my blog.  But time got away from me, and then I couldn’t find my notes.  I thought I had it typed up on my computer, but all I could find was an outline with blanks.  And I couldn’t remember all the fill-in’s.  But last week while reading one of my Bible’s, I found my original notes!

So I can finally share them here with you.  I’m going to break it up though into a few days of posts because otherwise it will be too long.  I get wordy.

As moms, I think we often strive for balance in our lives.  We want to have all our ducks in a row.  We want to have a clean and organized home, homemade meals, laundry clean and put away, time for ourselves, time with our husbands and to be showered would be nice too.  All in the same day. 

When was the last time that happened for you?  Oh, and for me and other working moms---add in working to that balanced day too.

But honestly, it’s not realistic. 

Balance, is defined as a state of equilibrium or equipoise; equal distribution of weight, amount, etc.

This sort of balance, where there is equal distribution is almost impossible.  As a mom, as human being living on earth, things are always changing.  You can’t predict which day your baby will take that glorious three-hour nap giving you plenty of time to catch up on the housework as well as your favorite TV show.  Because it could just as easily be the day your baby is teething and refuses to nap more than thirty minutes at a time.

As a working mom, illness is what often throws the wrench into my “perfect balance.”  When my kids or my caregivers are sick, it often means I lose time at work.  So I’m trying to work at home.  Or trying to get more done in less time.  And the balance goes out the door.  Because then I get stressed, and I have anxiety over what I’m not getting done and because I’m caring for a sick child, I’m not getting anything else done.

The list goes on for what disrupts balance; car trouble, weather, broken appliances, or fill-in-the-blank.

I prefer a different definition of balance when it comes to motherhood.

Balance does not necessarily mean equal.  If your life were represented by a pie (mine would be apple crumb if you’re wondering), you are not going to be able to cut that pie in equal pieces each day.  Some days, one piece of the pie will need to be bigger than the others.

Three days a week, when it’s all said and done, about 11 hours of my day are devoted to work.  It begins when I wake up—and maybe run on the treadmill—and get myself and the kids out of the door (with Bean’s help too), work and then pick the kids up and get home.  Even once we are home, the time goes quickly and I’m tired from a long day, and trying to maximize the time I do have with my kids.  Housekeeping is usually low on the list—the smallest piece of the pie.

The days that I am at home, balance swings more towards housework and quality time with children.  The hardest days for me are those where I truly need downtime and I don’t push myself to accomplish much.  I feel guilty, selfish and lazy. I want to have that perfectly put together home and fully homecooked meal ready for dinner.  But the pace of my life catches up with me sometimes, and I need a semi-catatonic day to reboot.

Instead of feeling guilty that you aren’t getting it all done in one day, look at the big picture.  It gets done, when it needs to get done, when you can get it done, when what’s most important has already been done.

Balance is individual.  I am amazed at the status updates I read on Facebook from a college friend of mine.  She never stops moving!  When her kids are napping or sleeping at night, she’s doing laundry and housework.  When my kids sleep, I sometimes don’t do anything!  But obviously for her, as a stay at home mom, cleanliness and organization and completion of tasks are important to her. 

We all have our priorities.  We all have those areas of our house that need to be clean or organized, lest we go crazy.  We also have those areas that aren’t as important. 

My balance is extremely individual.  I am a working mom in a position where I am the only one who can do most of my duties.  Sundays are workdays for me.  Yet, I’m off two weekdays.  Sometimes my job requires evenings or weekends.  It’s not just a job, it’s a calling, a lifestyle, it’s emotionally demanding at times.

I get in trouble when I compare my life to the life of a stay-at-home-mom, or a mom who can leave work at work.  My life is unique.  Thus my approach to my life must be unique.  And the balance I must achieve varies from week to week and I am the only one who can determine it.

We all have different personalities.  Our priorities and needs in life are individual.  And how we cut that pie each day will be different.  And that’s okay.

Own your own sense of balance.  Don’t judge another mom for her sense of balance. 

Take a deep breath and live your life, according to how God made you.  Just like it says in Ecclesiastes, there is a time for everything.  It does not specify how much time for each thing.  Because it’s different for each of us.

Just to recap…
Balance is almost impossible
Balance does not necessarily mean equal
Balance is individual

More tomorrow!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

rough run

Most of my runs are pretty enjoyable.  It takes me a mile or two to find my groove, especially for longer runs, but I find it.  I may have minor discomfort or difficulty, but I push through and overcome it.

Today, I'm a mess!  I guess it's better that it's today, one week before the race, than on race day.

First of all, I just really wasn't feeling my run this morning.  But I knew that meant I needed to get it done sooner rather than later, so I began my slow preparations.  Finally I was on the road.  Just got to get 'er done was my mantra.  I didn't need to try to run fast, I just needed to get those 11 miles in.

I had a couple hot spots on my toes that bothered me off and on while running.  My stomach also kept cramping quite a bit, but I pushed through.  I'm telling 'ya, that 10 mile mark is my magic place.  I was still feeling decent at 10 miles.  That last mile to 11 though--I felt like I was running in quicksand, or wet cement, or water jogging.  You get the picture.

The worst was once I was home.  My stomach was not happy.  I have a ginormous blister on the inside of my left big toe.  I have a couple other small blisters on my right toes.  I chafed on the inside of my arms, at the bottom of my armpits.

My stomach has not let up.  I was somewhat functional, but not a "feeling great" functional.  I did make it on one errand this afternoon, but that's it.  I had to cancel plans I had tonight because of this darn crampy stomach.

I think the main culprit was milk and cereal.  I don't think I've had milk before a long run, and a few people said it can upset your tummy.  I haven't really been able to eat and drink today like I normally would after expending over a thousand calories.  Luckily, eating and drinking doesn't make me feel worse--but since it doesn't make me better, it's not too appealing.  I've still been doing it though.

I am just hoping that after sleeping tonight, I'll be all better in the morning.  This has not been a fun day.  And I need that blister to go away by the weekend.  Should I pop it?  Usually they dry out or pop on their own.  I may be questioning someone at the running store later this week.

Speaking of rough...we've had to say goodbye already to our dog.  Such a bummer!  We had him for all of three days.  But he was oh so sad because he was raised with other dogs and he was not ok with being the only dog.  All he did was lay and sleep.  He didn't want to play or interact with us at all.  He had a major case of depression.

Luckily Bean knew of someone looking for a companion for their dog--and it was love at first site today for them all.  So Lucky aka Reggie aka Tucker is in a new home now.  The girls are bummed, but they understand.  They were disappointed that he didn't want to play with him.  He was such a sweet, well-behaved dog.  But he's much happier now.

We're going to wait a bit now, to figure out it we want to find another dog or not.  We found out the day we were getting Reggie that we have to move out of our house for a week in December while they do lead abatement.  Yikes!! 

Here's hoping tomorrow is smooth all around!