Tuesday, December 31, 2013
May I present my 2014 goals-
including plan B.
Plan A: Plan out and stick to a training schedule that includes exercise at least 4 times a week.
Plan B: When I have to go up and down the stairs 947372949272 times a day, I'll run. And count it.
Plan A: Develop a regular sleep schedule for going to bed and getting up.
Plan B: Learn to walk in my sleep so I always feel like I slept through the night.
Be intentional about what we eat
Plan A: Plan out a biweekly menu, trying new dishes and incorporating healthy choices.
Plan B: Plan out a biweekly menu that incorporates healthy choices. And also incorporates the occasional breakfast for dinner and eating out nights. Allow for spontaneous "tonight I just can't cook".
Spend intentional time with my children
Plan A: Plan monthly one-on-one dates with each child. Help them discover their talents and special interests. Plan learning experiences for the whole family.
Plan B: Recognize the spontaneous opportunities I get each day to teach my kids. Take them with me to the grocery store, even if it means sweating more. Talk to them about money and Jesus and friendships and family while we drive in the car, while we snuggle together on the couch and while we eat dinner together. Be present.
Be involved at the kids' school
Plan A: volunteer more in the classroom, find an organization to be part of, get to know the other parents from our classes by inviting them over.
Plan B: take sonic drinks to the teachers when I think about it.. Say thank you more often. Say yes when others invite us on play dates. And recognize moments like taking a forgotten lunch or homework as opportunities to encourage kids I see in the hall and the adults who take such good care of my treasures each day.
Get to know our neighbors
Plan A: Invite neighbors over for dinner and play dates. Plan regular block parties.
Plan B: Play in the front yard more. Hire someone to mow our yard so that when we do get around to having people over we aren't already on the neighborhood naughty list.
Deepen relationships with others
Plan A: Set aside intentional time each week to visit with friends. Send encouraging notes and texts. Listen more.
Plan B: Pray that I'll still have some friends when I do come up for social air.
Do my part to grow our marriage
Plan A: Plan frequent dates. Find a study or other learning experience to work through together.
Plan B: say thank you more. Be frustrated less. Be quick to point out successes and slow to measure by unfair standards. Always give the benefit of the doubt. Say I'm sorry. Have fun together.
Grow in relationship with the Lord
Plan A: Plan out and stick to a daily Bible study plan. Get up early to start my day with the Lord.
Plan B: Pray to become a morning person. Ask for a heart that sees His presence in the busy-ness of each day.
Sweet readers of DRRF- Here's to you and your fresh start in this new year. I hope 2014 finds you with a spirit that is willing to dream big and set lofty goals. But also cut yourself some slack this year. Sometimes as a spouse/parent/neighbor, you'll find that if you'll allow yourself to embrace it- plan B isn't so bad after all.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I made it through with few being none the wiser.
This year I soaked up getting out every single ornament and putting up garland, and tying bows.
This year I loved planning out our family advent calendar.
And letting the kids decorate this tree.
This year, long before the season actually arrived, the LORD gave me a picture to celebrate. A picture of transformation and of hope in waiting. I wrote about that picture of a parade on this blog and many of you could relate. With that picture I began a Charlie Brown search for purpose in Christmas.
Transformation began with remembering the reason for the season. I bet Charlie Brown already knew the story- about a baby named Jesus. But maybe he needed some help remembering. And not just remembering the part about the humble beginnings of that baby, but maybe especially the part about the enormous celebration.
Jesus did come humbly.
But he also came so very celebrated.
With GREAT JOY!
There was great joy because for the first time the hurts of the world, every single fear, all the poverty and all of the loss had HOPE, there was a Redeemer. And it was joy for all people...A savior born!
What hasn't changed for me this Christmas is that I still know of many whose deepest Christmas wish can't be wrapped and placed under a tree. There are desires that weigh heavily on my heart- I wish I could give gifts like forever homes for children, like safety for deployed loved ones. If I only I could wrap up restored marriages, and healing for grieving hearts. It would be awesome to mail gifts like an assurance of a next meal or like true freedom from abuse or addiction. These are gifts I can neither give nor wish into being.
But I believe there is a Redeemer. I believe in miracles- those I've seen and those I await.
Which is why more than anything, this Christmas, I want the WORLD...or at least my little world...to see us CELEBRATE. I don't want anyone to misperceive our belief to be that the more we experience hurt, frustration, disappointment, or grief means the less we celebrate Christmas.
While I know its a crazy ridiculously fine balance- in some ways I think this means we have to celebrate in a way the world can recognize. Maybe it means I put up a giant tree. Maybe it means we give gifts to teachers and friends. Maybe it means we wear matching Christmas outfits and take festive pictures. Because this is a PARTY. And maybe by celebrating we won't lose the spirit of Christmas- maybe instead we'll lead others straight into it. We may not celebrate by romping in the field with our sheep, but maybe we'll celebrate by romping down the street to look at Christmas lights. And there, in a whisper, I'll hear my sweet little girl remind us all, "At Christmas we celebrate that Jesus is born!" And I'll answer, "That's right, baby. We certainly do. We definitely celebrate!"
May you celebrate with great Joy.
Because long ago a savior was born.
Lets lead people to Him with our celebrations this Christmas.
I love our little Charlie Brown tree in these pictures.
As a gentle reminder of the spirit of this season, it makes me smile every time I pass by.
It leans a little and the lights don't match (one blue strand proudly placed in the middle).
There's a paper chain unfinished because its crafter got distracted.
But I love this tree that was all RRL and I could afford for our first Christmas.
I love that we dragged it out of the attic this year for our kids to enjoy.
I love that it's imperfect. And I love the joy my kids are finding in transforming it.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
After hours scouring the web for ideas- to purchase or copy- this year's advent calendar is at the very top of my unpinterestable list.
It cost approximately nothing. KJ and I measured, cut and tied the string. Cbug made all of the numbers and I even let him cut them out without regard to whether any of them were the same size or shape. We even stuck holes in the wall with thumb tacks. GASP.
I used a hodge podge of websites and google images to make the nativity characters we are adding each night. And I stole the wording from the advent calendar my brothers and I used as children. Finally, written on the back of each character is our daily "family activity" for counting down the days until Christmas- other unpinterestable ideas like making nativity scenes out of playdough. (you can read about our 2011 and 2012 countdowns here and here for unpinterestable ideas to share with your family. I'll post a recap of this year at the end of the month-ish.)
And voila, an advent calendar that is absolutely my very favorite ever.
It is hanging right smack dab in the middle of my dining room where everyone who enters my home can see it. It is placed like a treasure because we love it that much- not because anyone else would see any value in it.
It is unpinterestable. And it is so very perfect for our family.
So here's to you. Whether pinterestable. Or un.
Find JOY this Christmas in using your talents to embrace the holiday season.
And find ways to share that joy with others.
Monday, November 4, 2013
On this occassion the entire dinner time crowd was in a spell- staring and swooning over our sweet first born son. "Nonna" was loving playing her new role and "Granny Frannie" an adopted grandmother was happy to step-in when she needed a free hand. At some point during dinner one of them mentioned, "ABL, isn't this just the sweetest time of your ENTIRE life?"
And I burst into tears.
Oh, heavens- I sure hope not. Because if you are telling me that cleaning yellow slimy poop, struggling to breast feed, and not sleeping (oh, how I missed sleep) are the sweetest times of my life- I'm not sure I'm cut out for this parenting thing. Sure, I loved the little guy in a completely unexplainable sort of way. Somehow, although no formula could rationalize it, I was absolutely head-over-heels for him. But I also loved sleep. Really missed it. Lots.
I was smack dab in my first of four periods of "I don't think I've ever been this tired. Will I ever sleep again? I'm not sure rational sentences are even coming out of my mouth. What day is it?" exhaustion. And every single time I had a baby, even with more wisdom and less stress in each subsequent period, it was overwhelming. Yes, every.single.time.
But guess what? And depending on where you are right now in the sleepless-night-stage this may shock you:
Each time I came out on the other side. At some point (and the points were broadly mapped across the spectrum with our four), I did sleep.
If there is any one question I get asked by other moms most frequently, this probably is it:
HOW do I get them to SLEEP?
Here is usually my answer: "I have no idea."
Which is why this blog is read by 5.3 people. Ok, sure, I have ideas. Lots of ideas. But beware: so does every other mom you ask. Everysingleone. So, do yourself a favor- don't ask.
And for that, I actually DO have some suggestions.
Tips for surviving sleepless nights (none of which have to do with making your baby sleep more):
1) Hide treats for yourself. Whatever you love- a favorite lotion, some chocolate, a healthy snack (i mean, if you're like that), a book. Make them accessible. Forget a sock drawer in the nursery- you need a survival drawer. Because lets be real, if you've been up 199 times already you don't want to go scrounging around downstairs for these items.
2) Have your husband (or friend or mom) write you notes about what a great mom you are. These should be very short and easy to read in a state of delirium. Wives- YES! It is absolutely ok to ASK your husband to do this. He won't ever think to do it on his own, but he'll be so thrilled that his way to "help" at night can be accomplished in the day. Post these on your bathroom mirror, on a table in the baby's room or as book marks in that book you've stashed (see #1). Believe the words written in love. Don't let the enemy of doubt creep into the literal darkness of night. Its one of his favorite places to lurk. Instead, believe that you were made for this purpose and this baby was made for greatness.
3) Write yourself notes: "This won't last forever" "In the morning he'll be adorable" or favorite verses or other quotes you find encouraging. Put them where you'll see them. On top of the wipes dispenser, on the diaper trash can, near the crib, beside your clock (I mean have those glowing red numbers EVER been so annoying)- wherever your eyes might go before your brain goes somewhere you don't want it to be: COVER that space.
3) Get a hobby- something you like doing when you are awake for longer periods of time and something you might even start looking forward to. (watching Downton Abbey, Play Sudoku reading children's books to your baby, picking out paint colors for the dining room. You know- hypothetically speaking.) Pick something you'll be proud of in the morning. Beware of addictions.
4) Keep a journal to jot down notes- on paper or just in your phone. Just write down where-ever your crazy brain takes you on that midnight train. You will either A- literally laugh out loud later reading what you thought were perfectly rational thoughts at the time or B-record something that only the Lord could have spoken through an exhausted heart. Either way- it will be a best seller! Do me a favor though- don't post any of these thoughts online until you are awake enough to be sure you really wanted to share that.
5) Remember it is ok to walk away and breathe. I'm not talking cry it out (remember this is not about how to make your baby sleep). I'm just saying- recognize your limit and believe with your heart that if you need to put your baby in a safe place for a few minutes and walk to another room in the middle of the night (while munching on something from your stash), this is perfectly acceptable- even commendable.
6) PRAY! I know, I just lost a few of you. But really. Try this: Pray for your baby. Pray for your husband. Pray for your coming day. Make a list during daytime hours of other people you can pray for. Grab that list at the moment in which you are thinking your life might be the hardest of all lives ever created.
None of these will make your baby sleep more. That's my disclaimer. But maybe one of these will help you make it to the other side! There is light ahead, I promise. There are many blessings that will come from this season, indeed. You'll depend on others, your baby will depend on you, you are just at the very beginning of a relationship that will ROCK YOUR WORLD.
And I think that is what they meant that summer night around my Momma's table- they knew that this sweet baby being born (keeping me up at night, not withstanding) was the beginning of greatness for me. They'd seen their own babies grow AND SLEEP and love and learn and change and share and give and become. They'd seen the path that would lead out of those sleepless and selfless nights, so they could recognize the beauty of the beginning. A beginning I now know I wouldn't trade for all the sleep in the world.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
Thursday, October 24, 2013
And my superheros would like to remind you that the 5th annual Teen Lifeline 5K is only a couple of days a way. Please consider supporting our team this weekend as we work together to make a difference. Any amount truly does help- who knows, maybe together we'll be real life crime fighters!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
As a volunteer, I loved sitting at the back table CRACKING UP at some of the things that first graders say. It was just about as close as one could get to really being a fly on the wall.
"Well, I don't have an answer to that question, but I do have an answer to the one you asked earlier"
And that was just in a 5 minute story time.
I mean, seriously- how can the teacher just look straight at them, not crack a grin and just go on like what just came out of their mouths is perfectly normal. Seriously. I was DYING.
Monday, October 21, 2013
I couldn't pull a fast one on ya'll.... now you are driving me to the point of confession. Because it's true. What may seem easy, or even helpful for some- kids picking out their own clothes- is often difficult for me. In this post, I'll come clean about the real "problem". But before I get to that, don't forget to stop by my recent post about how you can support the TL 5th annual 5K- helping real people and real problems. Problems just slightly more significant than whether my children's clothes match. Seriously.
Ode to the tension
Welp. It's true. I have a problem folks.
Some serious tension.
On one hand- I'm an accountant.
On the other- I have four small children.
I like control, order, structure, routine, schedules and spreadsheets.
They prefer to trample all of those keys-to-great-life-success.
|Craft Cabinet my way|
|Craft Cabinet their way|
Because it's true-
I would prefer:
To never leave the house without everything in its place
To have all the books in the playroom sorted by genre, size and alphabetically by author's last name.
To have all four children not only dressed neatly, but preferably in coordinating outfits every.single.day
And I'd love to have the house seasonally decorated by a professional around key holidays.
|Don't miss the missile coming |
at the pumpkin's head
|Love this three eyed pumpkin face|
But I have four small children.
And they ensure:
I am much more excited about leaving the house with them- even if we leave behind a disaster.
I want to read with them more than I care about where the books live
I (occasionally) let go of what they wear and enjoy their self-expressions when they dress themselves
And I'm perfectly thrilled the my fall decorations (pictured in this post)
= create-your-own pumpkins on the front porch AND the back door fall gallery.
|At least when they stick stickers they do it in a pattern|
|whats better than a pic of you & your bro|
taped onto the back door?
one folded into a paper airplane, of course.
As I think about the hours (and hours and hours and hours) that the kids, especially Lou, have put in to decorating that back door.
As I think about the deep breaths I took when she first started taping "art" up.
As I help clean up the mess that trails behind as they cut, glue, fold, tear, color and CREATE.
And as I have forever captured in my mind's eye the joy and excitement on their faces as someone new notices and compliments their work.
Ya know what?
They bring out the best parts of me.
I'm so very thankful that this accountant
gets to be their mom.
Life would certainly be boring if I was just me, without them.
I'll take the tension any day.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Now- on to the adorable blonds:
I mentioned that I was cutting down on a few battles at our house by beginning "Wrestling Privileges". What a great day that was at our house!
But there's another "battle" looming.
Kids have opinions about what they wear.
I get that.
But, I have opinions, too.
I put time, effort, energy into purchasing, washing, folding, hanging, ironing (ok, only sometimes) their clothing. Because its true, I care how they look. It honestly isn't about brand names or expensive clothing. I just feel like there is something about a person's self-confidence and the impressions that they leave with others when they are neat and tidy. I want it to be a habit they begin early- not that I'm placing value in their appearance alone, but there is some value to be placed in the impression they make on other people.
the very last way I want to start the day is arguing with them about what they are wearing.
For years, I cut down on that battle- in all humility I pretty much eliminated it- by a simple compromise. Our compromise was this: I pick the clothes. You pick the shoes.
Sometimes that meant rain boots with shorts
or dress clothes.
Sometimes that meant shoes that didn't match at all.
For most of the last year it meant the same multi-colored-polka-dot flats with EVERYTHING for Lou.
And then one day, that all changed.
Round about the first week of school this year, the big two boys (who I'm pretty sure conspire against me each night as they fall asleep together) declared, "WE WANT MORE! More choices, more opportunities for expression, more FREEEEEEEEDOMMMMMM!"
Well, really they just said "When are we going to get to pick out our own clothes for school".
So, in a brilliant parenting move that can only be described as "THANK YOU LORD!"
words came out of my mouth that simultaneously bought me a little longer of picking out their clothes and them the opportunity for self-expression.
FREE DRESS FRIDAY
Now, we all know- compromise always comes with a price.
Just like the missing tooth and black eye from "wrestling privileges", Free Dress Fridays have a downside, too.
|"My col-uhs ah blush and bashful" -|
Steel Magnolias, anyone?
|where a little red is good, a lotta red is AWEOME|
and why not tuck in?
|I match. Thumbs up.|
The deal is- They don't complain, not a word, about the clothes I lay out for them 5 days out of the week (sun-thurs) and Friday they get to wear absolutely whatever they want. And I don't say a word. Even when it was 123 degrees outside and KJ wanted to wear two shirts, I might have mentioned he'd get hot- but he glared the look that say "don't trample the rules of Free Dress Friday" and I let him go to school that way.
|KJ's double shirt look and Lou's blue Cinderella socks.|
I'll tell ya this- Fridays sure are simple. I don't have to get anyone's clothes (except Tito's of course). The others make their own choices pretty quickly (usually the night before). KJ's choice is simple. Favorite.Red.Shirt.Always. The other two are a toss up. Lou usually wears a dress and Cbug wears whatever he touches in the closet first. And I'm pretty sure there isn't a single doubt in any of their teachers' minds whether I dressed my children on Fridays.
So- here's to you and your battles on the home front.
Find a "free dress Friday" or maybe a "wrestling privilege" compromise and embrace it!
You can thank me later.
Unless its picture day!
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
Monday, September 23, 2013
A day that according to my surgeons and doctors should never have been celebrated.
In 2004, I underwent extensive GI surgery hoping to eliminate the chronic pain I'd been dealing with related to Crohn's disease. At best, I was told, I might get 3-5 years of pain free living and even then I'd likely need medication to manage it.
It seems to me today that maybe they forgot to factor in HOPE. They knew what they knew- but not what HE knew. And boy HOWDY did He show them.
One hike to the bottom of the grand canyon
Lots of half marathons (three while pregnant)
Four babies (three completely without medication).
I can officially say:
Don't be confused by this list of my accomplishments over the last nine years. Join me in recognizing that there is not a single ounce of any of that I could have done. Oh, sure- saying "it shouldn't be" was great motivation for me to try (it is so strange that my kids have a stubborn streak). But when I see this list, stare into those sweet faces, remember how far we've come...welp, I'm simply overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with praise for the ONE who provides beyond what we can ask or imagine. The One who grinned at the thought of "maybe 3-5 years" and delighted in providing so much more.
And don't be confused. If today was different. If there comes a day when it IS different. Whether there are 9 more years, 3 more days, or a lifetime of living without pain- I'll still declare HIM mighty to heal. I'll still shout out "HE is mighty to save". I'll still remember that He is doing more than we can ever imagine. Don't get me wrong- it won't be easy. There are other areas of my life that have certainly proven that hope doesn't mean "what I want, when I want it". Other "miracles" I've HOPED for have tested my willingness to believe. But isn't it always true that the best things are worth fighting for, and lots of times you WILL have to fight for them.
I'll fight for Hope every.single.time. I will chose to believe in miracles.
It just so happens that today it is easy. Today is a day to celebrate.
It shouldn't be. But it is.
Sunday, September 8, 2013
But if I'm going to tap into this booming wedding business, maybe instead I should write something called:
With the subtitle
"You are going to need a LOT of pennies"
Its just that my children have made a grand total of 20 combined appearances
We own four tuxedos (in two different sizes) with an assortment of ties
Having my children be the mini-wedding-party-members honestly doesn't stress me out (anymore).
(like the time KJ's newly polished BLACK shoe came in contact with a brides beautiful WHITE dress)
We've definitely had to make some adjustments to our wedding routine over time.
Which is actually how we got these pictures. All 6 of us were hiding out. Outside.
Far away from the rest of the getting-ready-for-the-wedding-hub-bub.
I happen to know where you can find one.
OR, even better,
if your kiddos are the ones invited to play this special role- just remember:
Nothing they can do can actually keep the bride and groom from getting married.
Even if they do invite the father-of-the-groom to play catch with the ring pillow mid-ceremony.
So sit back and enjoy your children being dressed up and doted on.
It's that simple.
and bring a lot of pennies.