Daughter, Wife, Mother... this is what I do

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

6. The Castle I Love to Hate...

With parks getting to be fun and exciting for my 13 month old, I'm L O V I N G living 4 minutes walking distance from our fabulous neighborhood park. I've learned that playing hard in the morning is crucial to a good nap for Elle. So we've been trying our best to get out to the park around 10 lots of a mornings and make it home by 11:30 for a little snooze.

One of the best things about our park (aside from the location and the shadiness of it) is this huge, magical castle. If I was 4 years old, you better believe I would be playing princess and having tea parties at the very top of that mighty, green castle. 


As the mama of a newly toddling little one. This castle is my worst enemy. It was NOT made for adults. But what do you do with a adventurous walker who MUST climb all the way up the tiny, windy steps? 

You climb with her. Herein lies my hatred. 30 or so doubled-over, sweaty, squeezing-past-big-kids, steps and I'm donezo. 

Well after about 7 times of this circus while at the park yesterday, I moved Elle to a different section of the park to play, hopefully buying me 10 or 15 minutes of upright breeziness. Inevitably, though, she found her way back to the castle she so dearly loves. I didn't follow her immediately, but could see her the whole time. And as I was enjoying conversation with a dear friend, I saw her start to climb the dreaded steps. But, I figured, I would go chase her down once she was half way up so that she could make it safely down. Well, only 3 steps up the stairs, she fell. A mama's worst nightmare. So I ran as fast as my Mizunos would take me and swooped under the kiddie sized doorway to rescue her. 

She was scared and probably hurt a little, but other than that there were no bumps, bruises or scrapes and she perked right back up after 30 seconds of crying. She was fine.

I, however, in my concern for my child, totally forgot about the kiddie-sized doorway I just swooped under to get in and on my way out slammed my head against the castle and got a huge egg on my head and my ego. :/

That was yesterday. And while that goose egg still smarts, my kiddo may have learned that going up those stairs is not as fun as she thought yesterday, because she sat quietly on the first step today. Never going up, though I would have gone up there with her, begrudgingly, if she had insisted. Maybe she'll remember that tumble for a few more months, until she figures out stair climbing safety. :)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

5. Past grace and future reminders...

This post will be simply to serve as a reminder when (God willing) I have another little bit and am struggling with anxiety and a battle of the wills over naps.

Naps have been the bane of my mama existence for a long time. Elle has always napped. But not well. After about 5 months, she decided she was DONEZO with sleeping for longer than 30-45 minutes at a time. Along with that, I felt (feel) like her sleep needs constantly shift and I never have any idea what I'm doing. What works one week won't work the next and I'm a frustrated puddle on the floor.

Currently, Elle is taking only 1 nap. I'm still not certain that she was completely ready to give it up, but she was fighting me tooth and nail on the morning nap and it was more of a source of stress for both of us than it was beneficial. Forty-five minutes of crying (or rocking if I had nothing to do) for 20 minutes of sleep was not enough of a pay off to make the morning from hell worth it. She was honestly pretty OK without it. She stopped dozing off after her 11 am feeding, so I knew that she had adjusted.

BUT at this point, during her one and only nap during the day she was ONLY napping in the afternoon for 40 minutes. I could pretty much time it. So I had JUST enough time to slap together a sandwich and eat it and maybe clean up the breakfast dishes.

I had no idea what to do to lengthen this afternoon nap. I left her in her crib until it had been at least an hour so. Because I needed to try to help her understand that I wasn't going to come get her at the first sound of her waking if she hadn't taken a solid nap. [Turns out, that did NOT work for my kid. I'm not sure if it has something to do with the fact that I held/rocked/nursed her to sleep for so long so she was aware that there were other, more snuggly options out there and was upset  about it. Or that she just is not a good self soother... either way. It was ineffective for us.] And she's not a happy, play-in-my-crib-until-someone-comes-to-get-me waker. She's pissed. She wants some TLC stat when she wakes up. [I'm not complaining a bit. It is one of the single best parts of my day. But it does make the whole sleep issue a bit trickier.]

Then, one day I stumbled upon some site that promises to solve all your children's sleep problems and make you happy forever on the ever reliable internet. I read there that putting your little down too late or too early could cause the early waking in your kiddo. Automatically ruling out the need for a LATER nap (because she had just moved to 1 nap, I knew she couldn't handle a longer wake time) I tried putting her down at 12 instead of 1. And that did it! She slept for 1 1/2 hours that first earlier nap time. The next day, however, she did not. But I soon became certain of a molar busting through (which has to be so painful! Yeesh!) that I could blame for her early waking.

We're still taking one nap. Napping more consistently for 1 1/2 hours (praise Jesus!) and still trying to figure things out. (Lately, she's been wanting to nap at 11:30 , which just makes that stretch before bed a little tricky. )

Moral of the story- it is a puzzle. But we are figuring things out. That's the story of being a parent, right?

2nd moral of the story-  (but, unarguably the most important moral) every time my child naps for a significant amount of time is a gift from God. A gift of rest and rejuvenation. A gift of productivity. A gift of peace.

Even BIGGER than that, I've learned, is that even the non-nap, up all night "partying" days - weeks even-  is a gift. A gift from a God who loves me and does every single thing for my good and His glory.

It's not a gift that is immediately fun and restorative. Nope, He has never promised me that. But He has promised me Himself, and all the gifts He gives me serve to point to how wonderful He is.

Ultimately,  HE is the source of any joy, peace, restoration, (insert your own fancy feeling noun) anyway.

Friday, May 18, 2012

4. Kisses and Crying

Today (well, yesterday... I'm a bit behind...) my little lady learned to kiss. At some point I'll cringe at the thought of her knowing how to kiss. But today, it melts my heart. I tried to get a picture or video, but the girl is quick. And she never ever performs on command. Figures...

So I'll do my best to describe it to you. If I catch her at a particularly cuddly moment (which isn't tough, my kid is one of the best cuddlers ever...) and say, "Can mama have a kiss?" She'll lean her little closed mouth towards mine and say "Mmmmmaa" Sometimes she'll make the smacking noise afterwards.

Melts my heart to even recount it. I'll do my best to get some sort of visual evidence of the kissing queen and put it in this post so that my story doesn't just fall flat. :)

Speaking of sentimentality and kids... I had a conversation with a group of moms about crying the other day. Not our kids' crying. Mama crying. The happy kind of cry. The kind that happens when your kiddo takes her first steps or moves to a big girl bed or all of a sudden turns into a teenager.  I am totally a crying mom. I well up when people tell me how sweet my little girl is. (This happened to me a few weeks ago. I'm sure I did not hide it well.)  I cry at commercials featuring chubby, precious babies and new mamas. (not recently, so I guess I have hormones partly to blame here...) I cry when I see someone else crying over the astonishing rate with which their child is growing up.

It embarrasses me slightly. But mostly, I love it. Emotion is a beautiful and God given thing. But it can be tricky. God has taught me (through His Word and my experience) over and over again that my heart is deceitful. So, while I will cherish the emotion I experience because of my kids, I won't let it run me.

For example, it can be tricky to gush out love and emotion for my husband that equals my emotion and affection for Elle. It is my calling as his wife to be more loyal to and more in love with him than I am with my kids. I believe that it is the absolute best thing I can do for them. To show them an accurate, though flawed, picture of what the relationship of Jesus and His Bride, the Church should look like.

I must fight to love my husband above my kids like I must fight to love Jesus above all else.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3. Rainy Day

Who doesn't love a good rainy day? There's not much better than the occasional wet, grey, stay-in-your-comfy-pants-all-day day. Right? 

Today was that day for Elle and I. I realize that getting to do this with my daughter is such a gift. I think that's what made today so sweet. 

I can all too vividly remember the grey, rainy mornings where I fought to get out of bed and get going. There were kids to teach, by golly! I couldn't just put in a movie and lounge with them on rainy days. Nothing slowed down on rainy days in 3rd grade. In fact, rainy days were MORE stressful because that meant indoor recess. And antsy children. And mud on my floor. And cancelled outdoor science experiments. Yeesh!

[What's funny, is that even as I recount what I loathed about rainy days as a teacher, there's a part of my heart that longs for that again. How does that saying go? You can take the girl out of the classroom, but you can't take the classroom out of the girl...? :/ Whatever... you get it, right?]

But today. I got to stop and soak up time with my little girl. We watched cartoons in our comfy pants. She fell asleep cuddling with me as the rain poured outside. Then I just let her take her nap on the couch. I turned all the lights off and sat and read a book, because any sort of door slamming or kitchen cleaning and I'd be one sorry mama. 

We pulled all the cushions off the couches and ran and climbed and wrestled. We stood at the door and watched the rain. 

I soaked her up. We rarely have days where I have nothing on the agenda. I do my best to utilize the time that I've been gifted with well. We have play dates and meetings and errands and make it home for nap time (usually). But today. I just enjoyed the rain with my little girl. I enjoyed the sweet gift of time with her that I've been given. Because I'm not promised to have this time with her forever. 

2. Becoming Family

The sweetest part of my day was dinner. Tonight we celebrated with some very dear friends before they embark on a new journey out west. We shared dinner, drinks and dessert as we ooh-ed over sweet new babies and laughed until our bellies ached at the all-of-a-sudden-not-babies-anymore toddlers and kids.

We used to meet with these families weekly in a discipleship group. It was because of this group I learned to look at the local church and the people in my community as family. Not individual events and meetings that occupied my time and kept me from sleep that I felt like I desperately needed, but family that I spent an evening with. I would never in a million years think of coming home to my husband and daughter as an event that replaced something else I should be doing. But often, that's how I viewed things like discipleship groups and missional communities. Events. Keeping me from doing whatever else needed to be done. (And if I'm brutally honest with you, usually what needed to be "done" was my lounging on the couch with a book or a good TV show. Yikes.) But as we shared Papa Murphy's pizza after Papa Murphy's pizza together, (seriously. we ate a lot of pizza. It was easy and delicious. But it's a wonder we don't all weigh much, much more.) sat around drinking decaf coffee and discussing scripture and theology, God began to shift my paradigm of what was going on. This was not an event. It was a really good meal and great discussion with family.

And like any family, we've grown [Fun fact: our group, which started with 1 kid total, now numbers 10 kids total. We've got that whole "be fruitful and multiply" thing down.] and changed and are beginning to move on. And that's healthy and beautiful. And bittersweet, for sure. I probably won't get to meet the Williams' new little girl, due in November, for some time. We won't get to watch wildman, Caleb, become a little boy. (He is maybe one of the most entertaining children I've ever been around. Second only to Hudson. Who, lucky for us, still lives in Austin less than half a mile away.) But it is a joy to look back on all our family dinners with deep love and look forward to enjoying eternity praising the God who united us as family together.

And. My kid fell asleep at someone else's house. So Tyler and I soaked it up and partied until 11:30. And got into a very mind boggling discussion on Quantum Physics. Well, I did not. Tyler and Todd did and Olivia piped in every now and then. I listened, only half attempting to wrap my mind around what was being said. I'm worthless after 10:30. and maybe worthless when it comes to chemistry and physics all together.

And just for fun:
I signed up to bring a dessert for tonight. Because we're eating clean again. (Minus Mother's Day, of course) I wanted to bring something we could all enjoy, guilt free and it's literally the easiest, tastiest dessert in the history of all desserts.

Ready? Here it goes

1. Slice a banana in to 1/2 inch chunks.
2. Place a 1/2 a dollop of natural peanut butter (or any kind of nut butter, I suppose) on banana chunks.
3. Melt dark chocolate chips. (The key here is to NOT burn the chocolate. I start with 1 minute in the microwave at 50% power and then stir, then do 15 second intervals always stirring in between until it's smooth.)
4. Pour your dark chocolate (Really, it can be any sort of chocolate your little heart desires.) over your peanut butter dolloped bananas. 
5. Stick in the freezer until they're cold and frozen. Or just eat them on the spot.

Another delicious and awesome variation on this is to stick all these ingredients (bananas must already be frozen) into the food processor to make ice cream. 

It. Is. Awesome. It's not really ice cream, but it is genuinely a tasty replacement. WAYYY better than that low sugar, low carb business. 

Easy. Not horrible for you. Delicious. Done. You're welcome.

Happy Writing Day #2!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

1. Child Dedication

Tonight at church, a sweet family that I don't know stood before their church family and asked that we would commit to praying for their sweet son, Tyler. (not my Tyler, obviously.) They asked that we would pray for them, that God would guide them, provide wisdom, encouragement and correction as they seek to raise their son to love and trust our King and Savior, Jesus.

I. lost. it.

Did I mention I don't know this family at all? I have never even seen them before this evening. But it was such a beautiful picture and reminder of the importance of community in raising my kid.

I NEED people around me that are praying for me. Praying for Tyler. Praying for Elle. Correcting me when I'm harsh or lazy. Encouraging me with the truth that Jesus uses my failures as a mom for my daughter's good. Reminding me that if I do anything right and good for her soul, it is because God is using me and ultimately because He loves her more than I could ever dream! (Which is quite mind boggling, because I cannot imagine anyone loving anything more than I love her.)

And at the end of it all, God willing, if her soul is well with her Creator, there will be a group of people going cuh-razy with joy because they fought alongside me for her to know Him and love Him above all else.  And THAT is what makes my knees go weak with joy and my heart pound with hope. I am not in this alone. I am speechlessly thankful for a community of men and women (and all their crazy kids) that love Jesus, want Him more than anything, and want me and my family to want Him more than anything and everything as well.

Praising Jesus tonight for His beautiful, beautiful Bride. What a gift to get to raise another life, with all it's failures and victories, heartaches and joys, trials and gifts, together with the Body of Christ.

30 Days...

...of writing.

I'm a horrible blogger. I have great intentions. I want to document everything. I plan to document everything. But I am what some might call a "procrastinator." I put overwhelming things (like sharing my thoughts with the world) off until it's completely passed and I've forgotten what it was that I wanted to write down.

Well. I started reassessing my goal as a blogger. I decided that I wanted this to be a place to document the extraordinary in my everyday. I want to look back as the years go by and be able to clearly recount the sweet, colorful moments in a life that is slightly blurry because it has gone by at lightning speed.

To make this pie-in-the-sky vision a reality, I'm going to have to step up my writing game. I really do love writing. It's not burdensome for me. It's the discipline of sitting down (after I've put the munchkin to bed) and NOT turning on the TV and getting the pen to the paper, er, my fingers to the keyboard, that I struggle with.

We all know how resolutions go. I have a graveyard of resolutions filed away. Run 10 miles a week! Drink 64 ounces of water a day! Read the Bible in a year! Never eat cake again!

That's why I'm going to commit to writing every evening for a month. I'm going to be realistic and face the music, though. There will likely be weeks I don't write 7 days. That's ok. I just want to make sure my goal in having this blog is worked towards.

So, let the writing begin!