Friday, November 30, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Faith Building

A year after I discovered Facebook I discovered something else; My mind began to think in status updates. Somehow, "I need to load the dishwasher" was transformed into, "These dishes are out of control. Time to do what I do best and tackle the mess." And "I'm so tired" became, "Long night up with the baby. Mama needs a coffee." Perhaps it's the writer in me but this new pattern of thought came very easily. I began living out my inner monologue in a manner that would make Mark Zuckerberg oh so proud. I didn't always run to the computer to update my friends on things such as the jaw dropping size of Adam's poop, but my mind formulated a status update regardless.

Now when you're a stay at home mom, locked in the house with a bunch of pooping, screaming, laughing little ones, it is nice to have an outlet. And Facebook is certainly an outlet. On the occasions when my thoughts escaped my mind and found their way into Faceland my friends were so encouraging. They liked me! They really, really liked me! They appreciated not feeling alone in their mothering. They were grateful that I made them laugh out loud. And suddenly Facebook not only became an outlet, it also became a place where I received praise and affirmation. And let's be honest, no one thanks me when I wipe their butts around here.

I loved this new found land. It was a place where the attention I received from my captive audience of friends distracted me from the monotony of life in the motherhood. I found it particularly welcome during the years I endured long Wisconsin winters. But over time I realized something. My status driven thinking, need for an outlet, and desire for praise were actually stealing sweet moments from my life. It's so obvious really.  I know many people have caught onto this much sooner than I did. And when the light bulb went off I was simultaneously struck with this verse:

I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. (Psalm 34:1) 

And I realized I could not have praise "always on my lips" if status updates were always on my mind. So what was I to do? The most simple (and yet ashamedly difficult) answer was to redirect my thinking. My mind had developed a pattern of thinking in status. I had to change the pattern into thinking in praise. About 6 months ago the transformation began. Whenever my mind began the think in status, I stopped and refocused.

"It's HOT! Time for a family dip in the pool."

became ...

 "Thank you God for the blessings you've given my family. A home and the health to do the things we enjoy."

And ...

"Cookies in the oven and Matt home playing with the boys. This is bliss." 

became ...

"Thank you heavenly father for my children and my husband who loves them so well." 

Even well intentioned updates like ...

"Please pray for Henry. He's has surgery tomorrow morning."

became ...

"Thank you Father for holding Henry in the palm of your hand. Please guide the doctors and nurses as they work to heal his little body."

Time and again I had to redirect my thoughts. Was I going to send them into the abyss of the internet? Or would I send them heavenward? One would feed my desire for distraction and attention. The other would grow in me the fruits of thanksgiving and faithfulness. So with the help of the Spirit I chose to look heavenward with my thoughts. Over. And over. And over again.

As is always the case when you respond to God's tug on your heart, the timing of my thought-life transformation was perfect. The last 6 months have been a particularly challenging time. We experienced the loss of a tiny life growing in my womb. Henry had a mysterious lump appear on his neck. He had a wonderfully successful surgery to remove the mass and while it's exact origin is still a mystery he is healthy. During this time of trial our home was filled with stress, anxiety and tears. But in the quiet moments when it would have been so easy to hop on the computer and seek affirmation in my struggles I turned instead to prayer. In his divine wisdom God knew I would need Him (always ... but even more) in the last 6 months. I can see it clearly now. And while the last 6 months have been a challenging time, they have also been a faith building time. And for that I am thankful.

Thank you God for speaking to my heart, for encouraging me to lean on you more, and for bringing my family through every joy and struggle you place in our path.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Lost In Translation

We just spent a perfect week in Milwaukee. Although it's been 2 years since we moved back home to California, Wisconsin will always be this family's first home. I have so much to say about our trip. And I have over 300 pictures to sort through and a few I'm sure to post. But before I do I just have to share a brief interaction I had on our trip. I made a quick trip into the grocery store one afternoon. We needed a few essentials. And some chap stick. I forgot the chap stick until I reached the front of the checkout.

Cashier: Did you find everything okay?
Me: Actually, I was wondering where I could find chap stick.
Cashier: Chap stick?? Good question. Um, are you looking for one? Or a pack? Or ... (he seemed confused).
Me: Just one.
Cashier (looking at the bager): Do you know where we'd have chap stick?
Bager: Hmmm. If we have them I think they'd be over here. Follow me.
(He glanced quickly down the pasta and rice aisle and then walked toward the customer service counter)

Bager (asking two employees standing behind the counter): Do you know if we have chap stick?

Employee #1: Hmmm. Well we sometimes have them by the sushi.

Me: (laughing out loud) Really? That's funny.
(and then a light bulb goes off)

Me: Oh wait. Do you think I'm saying chOpsticks?!? I'm saying chaaaaap stick (making sure to enunciate my most nasally, Wisconsin worthy "a").

Employee #1: Oh chaaap stick. Of course we have chaaap stick. Um. You're not from here are you?

Me: Well I was for 7 years.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Are You Smarter Than A Kindergartener?

Tonight at dinner Henry told us that "a google is a 1 with 100 zeros behind it."

Matt and I quickly corrected him.

Me: "No Henry. Google is a website. Like"
Henry: "No, it's a number."
Matt: "I don't think so Henry."
Henry: "Yes it is!!!! My teacher told me. It's a 1 with 100 zeros behind it!!!!"
Me: "Henry. I don't think it's a number."
Henry: "It is. It really is!!!!!!!!!"

I had to excuse myself so I could Google, "the number 1 followed by 100 zeros"
Gulp. Um. It's a googol! We had no idea.

Me: "Um. He's right. A googol is a one followed by 100 zeros."
Matt: (stunned)
Adam: (laughing)
Claire: (eating)
Henry: "Seeeeeeeeee."

Can you say humble pie?!?

So well done, Mrs. D. Well done.
Now our son will always think he's right.
Regardless, you have our blessing to keep
 imparting these fun facts into his eager little brain.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Force

 She may be small.
But she's a force to be reckoned with.
Her ability to bring wrath and destruction upon our house is matched only by her adversary, Yoda ...

Monday, September 10, 2012

Roughing It

A friend recently blogged about her camping trip. She, her husband and their 9 month old baby were dropped by plane "way out" in Alaska for a few days of tent camping and hiking. I read her blog entry as I was taking a break from packing for 2 days and nights of camping in Lassen national park. And can I just say, I am in awe of my friend. They essentially took tents and sleeping bags. We took, well, more than that. I'm a wee bit embarrassed to say what all we took. Let's just say we left all electronic devices at home (other than our phones that lost service at camp) so I felt justified that we were just taking the necessities. Although I will admit that the Barron's have a pretty loose definition of what's a necessity.

My friend went on to say she worried the entire time that her family would meet a bear. She actually agonized over it a bit. I'm happy to report their adventure was bear free. Only to cross paths with one sitting in their driveway when they returned home. Funny the things we worry about. I worried the entire time that Claire would poop through all the clothes I brought her and the bed she was sleeping on. I'm happy to report she didn't. She did however poop (diarrhea) in the tub she and her brothers where sharing within the first 15 minutes of our homecoming. The beauty of it was all 3 had already showered the dirt away but I was just giving them extra soaking time to make sure all the dirt in their creases washed away.

We had a fantastic time on our trip. We were blessed with the company of 90 people from our wonderful church. The trip was even catered (while my friends munched on smoked Alaskan salmon and wild blueberries). And when all was said and done we returned home dirtier, happier, fatter and blessed with deeper friendships and treasured family memories.

Fishing on Lake Manzanita.

Dirt. Lots and lots of dirt.

Henry spells quality time C-A-R-D-S. And Matt is great to always play with him.

These fallen trees provided hours of fun, free, dirty entertainment for the kids.

Getting ready for S'mores!

Claire's sweet, dirty hands.

Crazy mountain men.

Dirty. And ready for a nap.

Playing in the tent was as fun as playing in the woods.

Early morning fire and fishy crackers.

Waiting for breakfast on our last day. I love this rugged bunch.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Maybe Next Time

I was a fierce competitor in Jr. High 4H sewing. Fierce. I do believe I always took the cake while modeling my creations at the annual fashion show. And I recall a few "best of show" ribbons at the Colusa County fair when all judging was said and done in the sewing tent. I owe it all to genetics (my mom is a mean seamstress) and a great teacher in Mary Massa.

Fast forward 15 or so years and a few years into marriage. Matt heard of my legendary sewing skills, scraped together some pennies that were very hard to come by during our Wisconsin years, and bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. We scraped even harder and bought a little table for my sewing machine. I was in love. I sewed away many long, dark, cold nights at that little table. My endeavors mostly consisted of curtains and aprons and one lone quilt. I have since realized that two things made for the perfect sewing environment back then: Wisconsin winters and a house with no children. Just a few years into my new found love for the homey hobby Henry was born. And all my sewing ceased.

Fast forward again nearly 6 years to present day where I discover the ultimate motivation to revive my seamstress hand ...

There is just something about a little girl that screams, "Sew for me! Adorn me in handmade dresses and bows and ruffly things." 

So a few nights ago, after waiting 7 days for my machine to be serviced, I decided to make something for my baby girl. I put the kids to bed and eagerly dove into stacks of material that I've held onto for 6 years. I found the perfect print. It was soft, and pink, and covered with roses. It just looked like Claire. Now while I may enjoy sewing, I hate reading patterns, and cutting and pinning and ironing. So I decided I would just "create" the perfect dress for Claire. And that's what I did. From 8pm to 11pm I thought and schemed and cut and sewed and seam ripped and sewed some more until this perfectly simple creation was born ...

I stared at it for awhile before I fell asleep, eagerly awaiting the moment I would hear Claire's first morning babbles so I could get her dressed for the day. The moment arrived 8 hours later. I walked into her room with the dress in hand and slipped it gently over her sweet little curls. Um. Well, it actually looked a bit more like this ...

And like this ...

Before she and I both realized it just wasn't going to happen.


Lesson learned. Perhaps I do need patters. And measurements. And maybe my sewing skills peaked during 4H sewing when I was 13 years old. Oh well. It turns out that Claire's future dolls will have a darling dress one day. In fact, this dress already made it's way onto a friends teddy bear. And I do believe that teddy bear was quite happy with my skills.

By the way, I carved out an hour the next day to sew Claire a little something. A redemptive shot at a dress for my baby girl. It's a pillow case dress. The easiest design out there. But I do believe it looks just darling on her.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Peace Over Impatience

My dear friend Jenny sent me this book awhile back ...

... and it's helping me become the mom I've always wanted my children to have.
The other morning I read the following passages:
"Choosing to be a servant-mother means ... that, by faith, I have already made a decision to make myself available in the routine tasks and myriad interruptions of daily life because I believe it is God's will for me to serve my family through them. Making this choice ahead of time means I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment."

"And yet somewhere, over the years, the Lord convicted me that the future was not where real life began. Each day was God's perfect will for me. There would be no wasted years of "just taking care of the needs of my young children." On the contrary, these years would be among the most important of my life."

And the remainder of the day, after I was encouraged and inspired by these words, went something like this ...
I did about 20 push ups and one set of crunches before Henry woke up. Workout over.
I folded laundry as Claire unfolded it.
My neighbor stopped to chat as I was running late loading the kids in the car.
I cooked. Adam "helped."
As we were sitting down to lunch Tyson came to the door covered in mud and had to be rinsed off, dried off and tied up.
Adam was "helping" me vacuum up a (different) mess Tyson made and the hand vac (which was filled with thousands of tiny chia seeds) exploded when he dropped it on the hard wood floor.
I sat down to rest my brain and feet and soul ... and Claire woke up.
I got stuck at a railroad crossing while already running late to Kindergarten pick up.
And when the kids were all in bed, the remainder of my night was spent folding their laundry, packing Henry's lunch, unloading the dishwasher and sweeping ... still finding chia seeds.
I could go on ... and on ... and on. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone.
Now the thing is, all of these interruptions are annoying. And challenging. And I can't say I didn't feel frustrated numerous times throughout the day. But I can say that I did not take that frustration out on my kids. I didn't say something I regretted later. I didn't even sigh heavily just so they would know "mommy is working hard here!" And believe me when I tell you that is not me. Not. At. All. 
I am reminded daily that God doesn't want perfection. I'm glad. Because I will never be a perfect mom. He does however desire to see faith and obedience. So when my kids are pulling from all directions, and the dog is rolling in mud, and the neighbor stops to tell me about his literary dreams, I am choosing to handle it all with "peace instead of impatience and resentment."

Little things help along the way. This poem - which has become my daily prayer - is one of them.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Little Snipits

(Forgot to post this conversation I had with the boys a few week ago)
A Bud Light truck passed us as we were leaving the neighborhood.
HENRY: "Hey! There goes dada's favorite beer truck! It said Butter Butt Beer right?"
ME: "No. It said, Bud Light."
HENRY: "Oh. Well he likes that kind too."
ADAM: (after a slight pause) "Wait a minute. How did dat truck know how to get to our house?!?!"

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Everything I Need to Know ...

Well the big day came and went. Henry started Kindergarten today. He is going to Chico Christian School and I'm pretty sure his teacher, Mrs. D, will be amazing. He is more than ready for this transition. He was bright eyed, bushy tailed and ready to get going this morning but I made him cuddle with me on the couch for a few minutes before the rush of the morning took over.

He enjoyed posing for his first day of Kindergarten pictures.

I can't say the same for Adam and Claire.

We enjoyed our ride to school.
Henry LOVED being able to play on the big kid playground.

I nearly lost it seeing his itty-bitty body and big ol' backpack walk down the hall to his classroom.

And of course there was a place waiting for him when he got inside.

And since Henry is in school Adam officially started "Momma School" today. We kicked it off by going to the library and getting Adam his own library card. We enjoyed a snack at the library. I do believe I held Adam and Claire a bit tighter than usual today.

And at 11:45 sharp we were finally reunited. And it felt so good!
Oh. And Tyson had fun today too.

I will always remember this day. I will remember it for a few reasons.  Of course I will remember Henry starting school. And I will remember driving to pick him up and wanting to kill Tyson because I smelled like wet dog and was covered in mud. And I will remember today because Claire had an epic blowout during her afternoon nap and decided to smear poop all over her crib and hair and hands and feet and face and mouth. But what I will remember most about today is the moment when I clearly heard God speaking to me.  
If I'm being honest there have been many little things about Henry's room placement that have been causing me to feel heavy hearted. He got the kindergarten classroom that is furthest from the parking lot which means I will have to unload (just to load again) the kids and trek to the far end of the campus when I pick Henry up everyday. He didn't get placed with any of his preschool buddies which means I will rarely see the mom friends I was getting to know last year. He got placed in the class with peanut and almond allergy kids which means I will have to think really hard about what to feed my son who only eats PB&J. I've been wallowing in all these (petty) thoughts for awhile. And it's been ugly. And today I clearly heard God tell me, "Stop. This is not about you. It's about Henry. And I have him in the palm of my hand and have placed him with the perfect teacher to help him know and love me more."
So at the end of a very hard day, I am thankful that God knows the plans he has for my child. I am thankful that He plans to grow and prosper Henry. I am thankful that 6 years ago God, the creator of the world, carefully knit Henry together in my womb. I am thankful that this very day He knows even the number of hairs on his precious little head. And I am thankful that God will never leave Henry and in fact goodness and mercy will follow Henry all the days of his life. And that is all I need to know. Yesterday. Today. And forever.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Goals Revised

Henry starts Kindergarten in a couple weeks and according to almost everyone this makes me one step closer to freedom. My first child is starting school, all day kindergarten none the less. A couple years ago I thought having the first of my three in school would put me closer to the goal tired moms everywhere work toward: get all your kids in school. I am discovering that for me and my family I couldn't have been more wrong.

Now don't misundertand. I need time away from my kids. Quite honestly I am exhausted by  them. It's mind numbing work to wipe bottoms, break up fights, listen to whining, buckle and unbuckle car seats, make PB&J's just to turn around and serve another snack an hour later, whip out crafts, break up more fights, wipe noses, and be touched CONSTANTLY by nasty little hands that gross even me - their mother - out! But as I approach the sought after milestone of "finally" having a school age child I am discovering something I missed until recently. The goal of early childhood is NOT to work toward the day you can drop your child off at school. The goal of early childhood is to take full advantage of the time you have them under your wing, making sure to invest diligently, lovingly and wholeheartedly into the lives that have been entrusted into your care. These early years are formative and as Mom I have been given the privilege and responsibility to train my children in the way they should go.

My hearts desire is to see my children equipped with the spiritual foundation, confidence and character to handle all that life throws at them. I believe that these life long skills take shape in the first 5 years of life. And I hope that after they slay the dragons that await them in kindergarten and beyond my children will never be too old to come home for cookies and milk. I will however, gladly leave them to handle their own bottom wiping.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A Little Bit of Claire

Busting a move ...

Becoming chatty patty ...

Pestering Tyson ...

Loving her Aunties.

Being a little doll.

With her BFF.

Nearing the terrible two's.

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