Thursday, April 25, 2013

Picture Post: Because Moving is No Joke

I'll write about it later!  For now, this is a little bit what it looks like around here...
Empty cupboards. Don't pack the coffee mugs, yet!
Got colds?  Because moving was just too easy.
Bubble wrap, yo. And why did we keep the chocolate bunnies from Easter?

And then there's laundry.  Always the laundry.
Boxes just make things more interesting, really.

Important: Bella is still playing with these toys until the very last minute.
The Legos keep escaping!!!
The last bedtime stories and boy things.
The kids don't know it, but those toys aren't leaving the garage until we purge them one more time!
Tomorrow's Moving Day! Soon the madness will be over...
so that the unpacking craziness can begin, of course!

See you at the "House/Blog Warming Party" in May!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Count it ALL Joy

This is MOVING WEEK! Aaahhh... Boxes everywhere.  My in-laws have swooped in as much needed additional troops to aid in this massive operation. Even the kids have jumped in and bargained to earn $1 for each box they pack.  Deal.  Just pack!

Truckloads of our possessions have disappeared from our driveway and consumed the garage at the new house.  I refuse to think about the UNpacking process yet.  Yeesh. 

Good news: we will be spending the weekend in our new house!  Hooray!

As always, I'm required to be a Multi-Tasking Mommy. With all that's already happening around here, there are still school lunches to pack every morning, laundry to do, homework to complete, soccer games to attend, and end-of-the-year school events written on my calendar. We are BUSY.

Enter life interruption: My littlest boy woke up before 5am yesterday morning coughing and throwing up every 30 minutes, I was like, "Seriously?!" My plans for the day drastically changed as I traded taping boxes to disinfect, rotate laundry, schedule a doctor's appointment, and figure out who was going to pick up the older kids from school.  Great.

But as I went into Mommy-Nurse mode, a verse popped into my frazzled thoughts:
"Count it all joy... (James 1:2)"
Sometimes the Bible has so many eyebrow-raising notions that it causes us to stop and think, "Now, what does THAT mean?" Which is what I have been doing.  Thinking.  How do I find joy in struggles? I mean, what is happy about sickness?  What's so great about delays?

When my kids are sick, I do notice that it makes me slow down.  I have to drop everything and divert my attention to bringing them back to health.  Joy= Being there for my kids and showing them love.  This is what I'm here for. And thankfully rejoicing when they recover.

When my to do list is a mile long and I am overwhelmed at the prospect of not accomplishing what I need to do.  I am then required to stop and prioritize the important things, so that I'm not just being busy for the sake of being busy.  Thank goodness for a husband who thinks more logically than emotionally.  That helps too :-)  Joy= Constantly reminding myself to not make the small stuff big stuff. 

Joy= Friends and family that come out of the woodwork when you need them.
Joy= Every good night's rest and brand new morning to start over and try again.

How do YOU "count it all joy" when times are tough?

Friday, April 19, 2013

To Share or To Shelter?

There are parents who let freedom ring in their homes, doors wide open, letting the children lead and make whatever choices they may.  Then across the street exists a breed of kids who are barely allowed to peek outside of their bedroom windows into the big bad world, for fear that it will infect them.  I, personally, teeter between sheltering my kids from the blemishes that life sometimes shows- to protect them from hurt as long as possible- or letting them in on the unfortunate truths, so that I can train them up to be brave little world changers.

To share or to shelter? Mommy conundrum.

It seems that with anything, there has to be a balance.  I am starting to realize that my 9 1/2 year old is capable of understanding more than she did in preschool, so my conversations with her are changing.  She can handle more information without overloading. Meanwhile, my almost 6-year-old still bounces through his imaginary planets often oblivious to things I notice.  While he still asks questions, they aren't usually very deep- more like, "Just the facts, Ma'am.  Just the facts."

When tragedies strike, it appears so other-worldly to our kids.  Something you read in books.  There are wars happening overseas, yet it doesn't typically interfere with their day. Out of sight, out of mind, I guess.  But then they hear about a little girl from their community who dies suddenly.  They find out about a bombing in our country. This isn't normal. How do you switch from My Little Ponies and Lego-building to comprehend that?

I read a great article about discussions with kids concerning death.  While it is a bit lengthy, I appreciated it's helpfulness. When the questions come, will I be prepared? Because I am usually caught off guard when blatant curiosity bursts forth from little mouths.  It takes a minute to pull my thoughts together and respond appropriately. My eyes grow large when my children shock me with their honesty.  I can begin with a simple explanation, but their reactions may be different than I expect:
"A child may show little immediate grief, and we may think she is unaffected by the loss. Some mental health experts believe that children are not mature enough to work through a deeply felt loss until they are adolescents. Because of this, they say, children are apt to express their sadness on and off over a long period of time and often at unexpected moments ("Talking to Children about Death." 1991)."
I would rather hurry aside the yucky stuff so that we can move onto lighter pleasantries, and yet this article reminds me that, as with anything, it takes time for kids to process heavy subjects. It does for me too, really. This is bigger than a fast food, drive-thru interaction.  Talking about sad things may take a while.  Unfortunately, sad stuff and bad stuff happens, and we can't always prevent our kids from seeing it. We might as well stop pretending and face reality- slowly and gradually at their pace.

Thankfully, as a Christian, I can filter the hard truths through the lenses of hope and security in a God who loves us, who also wants justice, and who never ever leaves us alone.
"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose...If God is for us, who can be against us...Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?...No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:28-39)."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Toys: Sentimental Things and Memories that Matter

I am a sentimental person.  Things represent memories to me, and it takes a passage of time to separate the nostalgia from the stuff. The stuff is not as important as the memories made, I have to remind myself.  I have gotten better at letting go of the things over the years, as I remember that I can still retain those memories without them.

So it is time to purge again. Clean out the extra and simplify. It's essential to a mom's survival- letting go of the old and moving on with the new.  With every move and changing seasons with the kids, I have to assess the toys our family has accumulated- especially since we're moving into a smaller house.

We have almost always had a play space dedicated just for their collections, which means that a lot of colorful, inanimate objects sit on display there- sometimes untouched for weeks, months. Because the toys do not play with my kids, but wait for someone to manipulate their moving parts and breathe imaginary life into their stationary existence.  Our kids figure out very quickly that those things will not make them happy, because they are unable to play back.  It's the friends and family who make playing fun and create memories that matter- not toys.  No wonder kids are so quickly bored with their stuff. 

And yet, they have an equally hard time saying goodbye to the things that they own.  I believe their struggle lies more in how they view their relationship with their toys- is their identity wrapped up in the things they possess?  Does more stuff mean that you are more important in the eyes of others?  Does is represent your worth?  Making attachments to things means that a deeper need is probably not being met- a need for love. By showing our children that material things cannot provide true contentment and often tempt us away from relationships that truly matter, we're saving them some heartache in the future- and possibly terrible spending habits.

It doesn't mean that I struggle any less with buying the lie that purchasing shiny new objects will make my kids happy.  The TV shouts it at us all the time.  I joke with my three children every time Christmas rolls around and they see the barrage of toy commercials hitting the air waves: "Do you want that for Christmas?  That's what they want you to do.  Don't even think about."

It's true what they say, Stuff doesn't make you happy, and Money can't buy you love.
Let's remember today that time is more precious than the things that we own.  That is what our kids will remember the most.  Toys never reciprocate love, but you can.

Do you have any encouragement or words of wisdom for others that have trouble letting go of things?  Share!


Friday, April 12, 2013

A New Home and More Changes

So the cat's already out of the bag on facebook, but I haven't made it blog-official until now.  Our family just bought a house!

After about seven months renting in a new city, we have finally found a place to settle.  While this move won't be as gigantic as the last one, it still involves another round of changes.  We'll have to learn our way around a different side of town.  The kids will start another school in the fall.  Then, there's a new house to furnish and decorate and unknown neighbors to meet.

While our family packs up and loads boxes, picks out new furniture, and sells stuff we don't need anymore, I'm also renovating this blog! It was past time for a new look. The changes will be gradual, as this mommy only has so many hours to sit down undisturbed.   
But the first bit of blog news is that we have an official title: The Mom Season.

I have been blogging for about nine years.  It has always been cathartic for me, and I have been blessed to meet other moms in the blogosphere that I still keep up with today.  Over the past year or two, I have felt the nudge to bring a clearer focus to my posts.  A writing professor once told me to "Write what you know," so I have found that what I care and know about is what it feels like to live, love, and struggle through this season of being a mom.  I had no idea what I was getting into when I had my firstborn, and I'm still learning with ever new developmental stage.  Not only do I mark their accomplishments over time, but I sense my own growth during this parenting process.

So The Mom Season blog will be all about encouraging other moms in their own journey of motherhood and sharing honest stories of what life is like- the sparkly, rainbow moments and the ugly, I-wanna-start-over days.

* * * * * To celebrate all things new around here, I will be hosting a blog warming party in the next month.  While I share pictures of our new home, I will also be announcing changes related to the blog.  And there will be giveaways from some creative friends of mine!  Stay tuned.... * * * * *

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Cannot Do it All

Busy mom, full life.
After a week of losing myself in nursing a sick boy back to health, my brain got bogged down with life events that delay certain aspirations (like blogging).  As a mom, I find myself here a lot.  I'm dying to get a haircut and a pedicure, but I'm limited on hours sans kids- and there are still soccer practices, dishes, laundry, and homework. I slept through precious early morning quiet times, because I was physically drained.  I napped through writing hours, because I was trying to catch up.

And then I remembered, I CANNOT DO IT ALL AT ONCE.  Calm down, Dani.  You will get it all done eventually.  Pace, yourself.  There are children to take care of and dinners to cook, and those are as important as everything on your to-do list.

So when I recently read an article in which Drew Barrymore declares that women can't have it all, I was like, "THANK YOU!" Of all the voices, a successful Hollywood actress who probably has every resource available to make the rest of us believe that she can do it all, admits that it isn't possible.  You can only focus so much time and energy into a few things to do them well.  If you throw yourself into your career, you will definitely become an expert at what you do and make strides towards titles and pay raises.  If you spend time honing your craft or practicing your hobby, you will become better at it.  If you choose to invest most of your energy into raising kids and managing a home, you will build a strong family. 

Homework before soccer practice 3 afternoons/week.
Unfortunately, when you choose the latter, the successes are often quiet and invisible.  There aren't award ceremonies to celebrate the spelling test your daughter passed after you helped her study. You're not invited to banquets to announce the masterful job you did organizing the pantry.  But take note of those little moments when your kindergartener starts reading and the cookout you planned goes off without a hitch. Whenever your kids are singing on stage and making homemade cards for you, it makes your heart smile.  That is a wonderful feeling- better than any framed certificate on your wall.

It's okay to put off some tasks that you want to do, if it means that you're trading it for something better- time with your family and much needed rest.  You will get back to it.  You will conquer the cleaning soon. I will write again. Let's give ourselves grace, and take it one day- one bite-sized morsel at a time. 

I am admitting that I cannot do it all, but I can do one important thing today: I can be MOM. I can do that.
The other things can wait.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Without a Nursing Degree

This has been the scene at our house for the past three days.  A sad, feverish little guy sleeping the hours away. The doctor says it's another case of Strep.  The sick boy won't take his meds, so it looks like we're going to ride this one out...

This post is for all the moms out there who've nursed sick kids without a nursing degree. You deserve a license, a bonus, or something for the extra job of making your kids better.  Because you do miracles.

  • You dab their heads with a cold wash cloth, when the fever won't go away.
  • You patiently coax them with chocolate to take their yucky medicine and popsicles to take in more fluids.
  • You make them laugh and let them watch movies or T.V. for as long as they're sick.
  • You hardly sleep, because they started breathing weird and you wanted to make sure they were okay.
  • You can't focus on anything else, because you're watching the clock and jotting down symptoms and the last time they had a dose of Tylenol.
  • You Lysol anything little hands touch and open windows to air the germs out.
  • You simultaneously manage to keep the other children entertained and away from the sick patient.
  • You rub their backs, sing songs, pray, and tell them they'll be okay, even though you're completely stressed out watching them suffer. 
  • You drop everything you're doing to nurse them back to health.

They're aren't degrees for parenting sick kids, but you do it. You demonstrate love in these times, and you're there. Your kids will remember that.
So even though you're tired and untrained, you're doing a great job.  Keep it up.

How do you cheer up your kids when they're sick?

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter Hope

For the last few days leading up to Easter, I decided to read from The Jesus Storybook Bible with my kids. It's one of my favorite versions of classic Bible stories, because it rings of HOPE throughout each chapter.
The hope was that God would send someone to rescue us from our paths towards destruction. No matter what happened, God reminded people that He had a plan and He hadn't forgotten them.   

Jesus was that plan. Jesus was our hope. Jesus IS our hope! 

And that's why we celebrate Easter. We dyed hard-boiled eggs, hung up decorations, hunted Easter eggs, and ate the ears off of chocolate bunnies :-)  But it's all a part of the bigger celebration.  We don't forget the "why."

Through the lens of Jesus' selfless love, we can see life as beautiful.  We can live with purpose. We can experience joy & freedom.   
 Go everywhere and tell everyone the happy news! Tell them I love them so much that I died for them.  It's the Truth that overcomes the terrible lie.  God loves his children. Yes, he really does! Now everyone can come home to God. Death is not the end of you.  You can live forever with your Father in heaven because I have rescued the whole world! -Jesus (The Jesus Storybook Bible)
Happy Easter!