Be in the Moment

My mind is constantly going.

Constantly.

I’m a “do-er” so I’m always thinking about lists, ideas, and activities.

I think about tasks that need completing, what to make for dinner…then I stop to wonder just how many dishes are waiting for me in the kitchen. I think about creative projects and I plan parties.

(Really, I actually plan parties in my head that don’t even exist.)

And even more…I think about finances. I think about what school my child will go to, if we should have more kids, and what would happen if we lost a loved one.

Big things.

And these ‘things’ are constantly running through my mind.

Honestly…I have a hard time staying IN any moment, lately.

Last night I was feeding Samuel his nighttime bottle (precious moments that are numbered, no doubt) and it wasn’t until I left his room that I realized…I never even looked at him.

Not once.

Sure, I glanced at him long enough to pick him up and settle into our favorite chair. I kissed him on the head as he squirmed to get comfortable in my lap. But from that point on? My mind was filled with to-do lists. I spent that entire time, somewhere else.

I couldn’t believe I missed it.

I also couldn’t help myself. I walked right back in and picked up my sleeping baby boy. I rocked him and rocked him, singing in his ear–desperately trying to get that moment back.

There really isn’t much of a point to this post.

Just this. I’m going commit to BE IN THE MOMENT. Right now, tomorrow, and every day after.

I’m determined.

I’m going to put down the lists, and better yet, put down the phone. I’m going to watch less TV with my children, and watch THEM instead–their eyes, their expressions, their joy.

I’m going to stop getting lost in thoughts about things much less important than my children.

I’m going to stop planning life, and start enjoying it.

No more preoccupation. No more distance. No more missing moments.

BOOM.

Who’s with me?

Glamour-less

 “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  -Theodore Roosevelt

Last week I had “one of those days.” Nothing was going right, and it was a pure fight just to keep up morale.

Fast forward to the afternoon when I had some rare, and deeply appreciated, personal time. I was getting my hair cut and while I waited I picked up a much coveted fashion magazine.

I flipped through said magazine, reading article after article, seeing picture after picture of one thing: glamorous people.

Movie stars. Models. Producers and Editors. People who sit in the beauty chair DAILY, not bi-annually like me.

And then it happened. Upon reading a particular article about one woman’s fashion-forward glamorous life, I suddenly realized that I recognized her. Could it be? Is that??? Yes. We went to high school together.

And suddenly my life felt really, really small.

I mean, let’s be honest. Thirty minutes earlier, I barely had the wherewithal to give myself a once over before leaving the house. Actually, I know I didn’t. I spent that precious MINUTE picking dried Cheerios off my pants instead.

I just spent $2.50 on a new bottle of nail polish as a “pick me up” treat.

Really. That’s about as fashion-forward as I get.

As I sat in the salon chair, quietly evaluating my life, I realized that everyone around me seems to lead a more glamorous life than I do.

My friends attend glamorous luncheons and galas. They wear glamorous clothes, and their jobs lead them to glamorous places all over the world. Seriously, I have a friend in New Dehli as we speak.

And me?

Sticky, day-old Cheerios.

Later that evening, I walked in our door…nothing to show for myself but a haircut and some cheap nail polish—little to no make-up—and last night’s lack of sleep still hanging under my eyes.

The first thing I hear? A soft, ever-so-high pitched angelic voice…

“Mommy, you wanna play with me?”

I could feel the love melt over me.

Yes, son. Yes I do.

As we played, all my previous thoughts and insecurities disappeared.

My life may not be glamorous…

But it is sweet. It’s playing cars, and having tickle fights. It’s morning cuddles and swinging at the park. It’s jumping on the couch and dance parties in the kitchen. Daily.

It’s “I love you’s” and magical kisses that instantly heal boo-boos. It’s singing lullabies and saying nighttime prayers.

It’s being loved. And needed.

And it’s shaping little human beings.

I’m the only Mommy my boys will ever have. And I have a sneaking suspicion that “glamour” isn’t one of the job requirements.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s not even on their radar. And I know it’s not on God’s…so remind me again why it’s on mine?

My life is not glamorous. No.

Important?

Yes.

I’m enough for my family, just as I am.

And you know what? That’s enough for me.

Dust it Off

DustItOff

 

Let me set the scene for you.

In my room, I have a vintage waterfall desk. It’s where I get ready in the mornings. It’s also my bedside table, and a catchall for the odds and ends I keep near and dear.

Rewind to Friday. I’m getting ready for the day, and as I’m putting on my make-up, drawer pulled open, I see my Bible sweetly staring at me. And get this. There’s a light coating of dust on it.

Dust? In a drawer? I didn’t even know that was possible.

But I immediately knew what it meant.

I left my job at the church almost two years ago (okay, a year and a half). And here I am, just now realizing how far I’ve really wandered.

The reasons are many, but unimportant.

Recently, Michael and I have decided to get back to Sundays. We’ve always been an “every Sunday family” and now that Samuel is 9 months, the “we just had a baby” line has officially expired.

And I think it was no coincidence that we decided to return around Palm Sunday. Was it planned? Not by us, that’s for sure. It just happened to be the time we felt a pull.

But really, isn’t that what Palm Sunday is all about? Didn’t Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a dusty road to lead us to closer to God? To show us the way? Even in the face of death?

I don’t write about my faith too often, but today I felt compelled.

I think we all have things in our lives that need a little dusting. Maybe it’s our relationship with God. Maybe it’s our marriage. Maybe it’s an estranged family member, or even relationships with our own kids.  Maybe it’s work.

But regardless of what IT is…

Maybe it’s time to dust it off.

I picked up my Bible today, and the dust was thicker than I had originally thought.

Wiping it CLEAN was theraputic.

It’s officially Holy Week. I hope you have a wonderful one.

And I hope you spend the whole week dusting…

For All The New Moms (What I Wish I’d Known)

Not the most flattering pic of myself, but one of my favorites. I take one look at this picture, and I remember exactly what I was feeling. Excitement. Terror. Exhaustion. Adrenaline.

I look back at that girl and realize…she had no idea how her life was about to change.

My sister is pregnant. Have I told you that? We are all so very excited.

I’ve been doing my best to help her (with registry lists, answering questions, etc.) and it made me realize just how much I’ve learned these past couple of years.

Once upon a time, I was clueless. And now, somehow, I feel like I know what I am doing. As much as you can know what you are doing, anyway…

So I decided to write a post for my dear sister, and anyone else who is trying to find their way in the early stages of Mommy-hood.

Here goes.

1. I don’t care what anyone says, put ice on it for 72 hours. Every nurse told me that ice does nothing after the first 12 hours of childbirth. I call FOUL. Before Samuel (my second), a friend told me to ice as long as possible to minimize the pain after birth. And let me tell you…my healing time was drastically different. ICE. Ice is your  new best friend.

2. When someone offers to watch your baby for you, take them up on it. AND THEN SLEEP. You’ll thank me later. You think you won’t need it, until you do. And then you are desperate. Always accept the offer, and always sleep.

3. You may not fall in love immediately. No one ever told me this. Okay, so you’ll love your baby deep down. Sure. But there will definitely be a “who is this stranger living in my house?” kinda feeling. Just like anyone else in life, you have to get to know each other. Baby steps. And before you know it, you don’t just love them…they become your heart.

4. Take a laxative (daily) from the moment you give birth. And that’s all I am going to say about that.

5. You know your child best. No, really. Say that out loud. You won’t trust your instincts in the beginning. You’ll want to follow the books, by the letter. You’ll even trust other Moms more than you’ll trust yourself. Just remember: God gives us motherly intuition, even before our children are born. Trust your gut.

6. Get ready to make mistakes. I’m a perfectionist. Mistakes and perfectionism DO NOT go hand in hand. So if you are like me, just get used to the idea right now. You WILL make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up for them. Try to have as much grace for yourself as you have for your child.

7. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. One of the hardest things about your first child is not knowing what to expect. You don’t know how long they’ll cry. You don’t know when they will sleep through the night. You don’t know that projectile vomit truly exists. So you’re left with this sort of “will this be the rest of my life?” panic. Just know one thing…everything is finite. Your baby WILL stop crying. You WILL sleep through the night again. And you WILL get used to vomit. I promise.

8. Take pictures. Time will be moving at warp-speed.

9. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re too tired to take pictures.

10. Never let anyone set standards for your children.  From the second they are born, people will  lump your child into categories. You’ll be told they are “ahead in this” or “behind in that.” This piggybacks onto #3. Don’t let anyone define what’s “normal” for your baby. You know their normal better than anyone else.

11. Don’t give up on breastfeeding. I got Mastitis five times. FIVE TIMES. So many people kept trying to convince me to give up. But I pressed on. And you know what? It got easier. So much easier. I achieved my goal of six months, and couldn’t be more proud. Someone once told me it takes six weeks for you and your baby to really adjust to breastfeeding. And guess when it clicked for us? Six weeks. If you choose to breastfeed (and to each their own)…keep at it. If I can do it, anyone can.

12. Ask for help. There is no such thing as Supermom. The sooner you get used to that idea, the better. Nursing a newborn is hard. Running on little-to-no sleep is hard. Adjusting when your life has been turned upside down…guess what…is hard! Don’t forget to ask for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak. It means you’re SMART.

13. Join a new Mommy group. Being exhausted can trick you into feeling alone. But you aren’t alone. There are plenty other new Mommies going through exactly what you are going through, and at the exact same time. Meet them. Make new friendships. They’ll probably last a lifetime. 

14. Never underestimate your baby’s comprehension. Babies constantly amaze me. Every time I think they are “too young” to understand something, they do. They are more aware than we realize. I wish I had known that when Isaiah was a newborn. Talk to them, read to them, explain everything. They are listening and learning. Even at one week old.
  
15. Remember the end goal. Your job is to believe in your child, and make them believe in themselves. It’s amazing how quickly that begins. We’re not raising children, we are raising adults. When they are newborns, the days will be long. And the nights will be SHORT. Just remember the end goal. Everything falls into place with a little perspective.

16. Take a deep breath. You’ll do fine. And you will.

Congratulations. Welcome to one of the best seasons of life.

What I’m listening to…

Another thing I’ve decided to do for a happier, healthier Stay at Home existence (can you tell I am determined?) is add music back into my life.

I’m not sure what happened these past two years (was our iTunes broken?) but this house has been VOID of any real music. Definition: anything that DIDN’T come from a kids movie.

Music is therapy, at least for me. So it’s no wonder I was losing sight of myself, when all I did was default to what my kids wanted to hear. I live here too, right???

So I sat down this weekend and brought out some oldies, but goodies. Not really sure why I am sharing them–just for posterity’s sake, I guess. But in case you are looking for a good listen…any and all of these qualify.

(An added bonus, Isaiah loves ALL of these. So it’s a win-win if you’ve got kids.)

Beautiful Things, Gungor. Looking to really re-charge your soul? This is IT.  The entire album centers me, and brings me straight back to God. Especially You Have Me.

Flags, Brooke Fraser. Listen to Something in the Water and have a bad day, I dare you. 

Wide Open Spaces, Dixie Chicks. I know, I know. But however you feel about them politically, the fact of the matter is…their music was amazing. And the second I hear this album, I immediately revert to my twenty-something self. And, well, maybe I need a little bit of that lately.  And that’s OK.
 

The Blessed Unrest, Sara Bareilles. I love this album for so may reasons, but I would buy it for Brave alone. It makes me want to dance down the street in my underwear.  (Not really, but it comes close).

The Definitive Collection, Lionel Richie. Don’t judge me. This makes for a mean kitchen dance party.

Prodigal Martha, Kate Miner. I was privileged to work with this amazing woman in my last job. She’s the real deal. And her song, Prodigal Martha is one of my all time favs. It’s healing. Give it a listen.

So there you go. Those are my go-to’s as of late. They renew my energy, refresh my mind, and encourage my heart…as only music can.

Such a random post, I know, but it was on my heart tonight. And sometimes the thoughts just come out…and it’s my job NOT to stop them.

Hope you are having your own kitchen dance party, wherever you are.

Surviving Stay at Home Mommy-hood: A Battle Plan

I’m not gonna lie. My morale has been down these past couple of weeks.

I’m two years in and, without a doubt, this ‘Stay at Home Mommy’ gig is the hardest job I’ve ever known. The most rewarding, by far. But the hardest.

I didn’t fully understand that when I took the promotion. Six months in, I started to figure it out. But now? There’s a whole new level of realization.

And it sneaks up on you.

Don’t get me wrong. Staying home is still the best decision I ever made.

But that doesn’t change the fact that, somewhere along the way, the SAHM life begins to consume you. It suddenly becomes hard to distinguish the line between caring for your family, and taking care of yourself. And if you are not careful, it threatens to take you down (mentally).

These last few months have been hard on me. No. Impossible. Illnesses around every corner (we’re STILL sick), a never-ending Winter and because of both…little to no human interaction outside the house. It’s enough to drive anyone insane.

We’ve all been there at some point or another.

So here’s the million dollar question: What can you do about it?

My answer? Create a STRATEGY.

Like I’ve said before, I look at ‘Stay at Home Mommy-hood’ as my job. And when your job gets off track, you create a strategy to realign goals and expectations. So why wouldn’t we do the same thing as parents?

And let’s be honest. This existence is crazy. Sometimes I feel like I need full body armor to even leave my bedroom in the morning.

Hence, my “battle plan” was born. And hear me out, these aren’t things that I have already mastered. They are goals. It’s my strategy for a less-crazy, healthier, and happier Stay at Home life. And I’m starting today.

1. Have an Oulet. Do something for yourself. Me? This is it. I’m always hearing…”why do you continue to blog?” I’ll tell you why. Because it’s one of the only things I have. It’s MINE. And no one else’s. It’s my outlet. And I need it, for ME. Find something just for you, and do it.

2. Unplug. The average person checks their cell phone 150 times a day. I can’t help but wonder what our lives would be like if we would put the phones down. What if we had a limit on phone time, or better yet, scheduled phone time in the mornings and evenings? I have a sneaking suspicion we’d connect with our kids more. And all that phone time? It wouldn’t even be missed. (This one is SO hard for me. In fact, I’ve never been successful at it. Not once. But all the more reason for me to try.)

3. Prioritize. I once read that to be truly effective in your daily life, you have to evaluate your priorities. This one is so easy, I’m not sure why I haven’t done it before. Sit down with a pen and paper, and list the things you give the most time to every day. Then make a list of all the things you SHOULD be giving time to (spoiler alert: make sure your marriage is on this list). Then alter your days accordingly. Total. Game. Changer.

4. Be an Earlybird. Hahahaaa haha haaa haaa hahaha ha. If you know me at all, you know why that’s funny. But here’s what I’ve figured out these last few weeks. You don’t have to get up at 5am. If you can? I tip my hat to you. But take the pressure off. If you have early risers, waking up just fifteen minutes ahead of your family can do wonders. Have a deep breathing routine. Make a cup of tea in silence. Get ready for the day. You’ll be glad you did. (Now, who’s going to hold my feet to the fire on this one?)

5. Be Social. Talk to someone. Anyone. And not just on social media. This one can be hard for those that tend to be more introverted. Even when you don’t feel like it, make an effort to make that play date. Go out of your way to call a friend. Better yet, schedule a happy hour. Remind yourself that you have a life outside of your children.

6. Take a breather. Y’all. You have to get away. It doesn’t matter if it’s 30 minutes, or a weekend. You’ll be AMAZED at how super-charged you are. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder (even of the terrible twos). When you start to feel like you’re going to boil over (and you will), it’s time to take a breather. Trust me. DO THIS. And often.

7. Re-evaluate. Life is constantly moving. Constantly changing. And so are we. So guess what? This battle plan wont always be effective. And I know that. Once a little time has passed, I’ll have to re-evaluate. What’s working? What’s not? How can I adjust a little to keep my sanity? And I’ll do just that. Who’s with me?

Most importantly, remember that you are not alone. There are so many of us out there, struggling with the very same things. Rest in that.

It’s true, we are blessed to do what we do. But everyone needs a battle plan…

Onward ho, soldiers. Onward ho.

Lately

Life has been a little nuts, lately. I have so many posts to get to, but time just seems to slip away with every day that passes.

So rather than write one long post about everything, or all the posts I plan to get to…I’ve decided to share the little things. Because afterall, our lives are really nothing more than the sum of the little things. Am I right?

Sometimes I trick myself–thinking I have to be profound in my posts, or big in my thoughts. But life doesn’t always work that way.

Sometimes, the little things are enough. (More than enough, really.) And sometimes, the little things are the easiest to forget.

But since this is my journal of sorts, I want to remember them. No matter how little or insignificant they may seem. I want to remember…

-Dancing in our kitchen, usually to FROZEN or everyone’s fav…”Happy”
-Bedtime battles. Enough said.
-Dishes. Then laundry. Then Dishes. And more dishes.
-Did I say dishes?
-Really. It’s amazing the amount of dishes a family of four can go through.
-Worrying. About friends in the hospital. About family members. About my kids. I could teach a class on worry.
-Tickle fights. They are epic around here.
-Baby Shower planning (there’s a fun one for ya). I love it. It’s my wheelhouse.
-Meal planning. An absolute necessity for sanity.
-Cleaning up messes that multiply like Gremlins.
-Checking the weather. Seriously, Texas. A forty degree drop in 24 hours? You have to stay on top of that stuff. Or you walk into freezing weather wearing flip flops, like I did.
-Nursing a sick family. The curse continues.
-Washing bottles.
-Jumping on beds.
-Watching a little too much TV.
-Coffee.
-Telling myself that I’ll go to bed early. And then staying up late. (I’m writing this at 11:39pm)
-Cuddling my babies. Trying to cherish every last bit of them.

I know. I know. It may not seem like much. But to me, this list is everything. Those little things mean the world to me. And you know why?

Because they are OUR LIFE.

Lately.

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