Friday, January 22, 2016

Friday Friends #2

Hey Friday Friends!

Every Friday I do a post of random items I would have to tell my BFF if she called me up right now. If you need to hear why you aren't a stalker for reading and responding to these, check out my first Friday Friends post to feel all the warm fuzzies from me. Since I get lonely in motherhood, I'm going to share a bit of myself here and would LOVE if you responded with a few Friday Friend items to me in the comments here on the blog, Insta, or FB.  You could even do your own Friday Friend post on your blog, IG, or FB and we'll meet up through the hashtag #fridayfriendsmeetup. Without further ado, here's my list:

1. I'm leaving for a week in Sanibel Island, Florida today! My parents will be there, and one of my brothers, his wife, and two girls. We'll have the following kid ages: 4.5, 3.5, 2.5, almost 2, and 1.5. Yup. Let the preschool/toddler adventures commence. 

2. The thing I'm most excited for in Florida is the FRUIT. The juxtaposition of that fresh sweet fruit against the canned stuff I've been living on is just perfection.

3. I've been potty-training my second son, Zander, for months and he's still only partially trained. Ugh. My firstborn was fully trained in two weeks. Isaac did it completely for the praise and the joy of pleasing Mommy (#peoplepleaserbenefits am I right?). This guy wants to be doing it, but just doesn't care if he does it all the way and I feel like we will NEVER move beyond this point. Every time he pees his pants (about once a day) I feel like it's my fault because I am not keeping as close track of when he might need to go as I did for my firstborn. Also, my 18-month-old, Judah, throws a fit every time I lock him out of the bathroom, but he just can't be there. 

4. All the boys have been out of sorts for the past couple of weeks. Tons of fighting, including (oh joy!) the little guys have started fighting/pushing/kicking/hitting each other. So let's just go on vacation and share really close quarters for a week. Ahhh! Hoping maybe the warmer weather and outside fun will change their attitudes. We definitely need a reset.

5. I LOVE podcasts. They are so perfect for moms. I love listening to them while I do the dishes or the laundry. The podcasts even make me look forward to those activities! I find that I'm more productive because I'm in a happier mood too. Just use the podcast app on your phone. PLEASE check out the Jamie Ivey Happy Hour podcast, especially the Jamie Nato episode. I'm going to go back and listen to it again because it was so super encouraging and real. I'll share more of my favorites here in the future!

Have a happy Friyay Friends! 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The Unexpected Fruit of a Survival Season

How did you do it?

I get asked that question all the time. Mostly by parents freshly in the newborn stage of their second or third child. Trying to learn the impossible juggle of managing multiple needs. Why do they think I have the answer? Because when my second son was only 5 months old, I became pregnant with my third. No, we didn't plan it that way. Yes, we do know how it happens. When Judah was born my oldest was 3 days shy of turning 3 and my middle son was 13.5 months old. It. Was. Rough.

First, you have to know that I didn't do it beautifully. I was a mess. My house and my kids were a mess. We watched more TV than I would care to admit. We didn't get out of our pajamas a couple days a week. At one point I had to call a moratorium on play dates. All I did was survive it. Nothing fancy. Nothing perfect. There were countless tears and too many blowups amid the blowouts. I had to ask for my oldest son's forgiveness several times a day. I thought I would never see it through. That I would never be anything other than the angry, exhausted, barely-managing mother. 

I starved myself from God's Word for months before I came to my utter end. He used an unexpected source, Instagram of all places, to encourage me back into His Truth. I had become a spiritual baby again, and I needed some spoon feeding. I'm so thankful for all the women on Instagram who constantly put God's truth up to counteract the lies that fill our hearts. Then through an influence network class by Jess Connolly God encouraged me to learn to snack on his Word. I didn't have the time or mental stamina for meals of his Word, but I began to snack throughout my day and his Truth pulled me back into the shelter of His wings among the storm of my life.

Eventually, I learned to wake up with the attitude that my only expectation was that I walk with Jesus that day. Even if no naps were managed, food came from a box, diapers remained unchanged for far too long, and too much TV was consumed, but I walked through it with Jesus, it was good. That's how I survived it. With Jesus.

I came to the utter end of myself and found Jesus. God let motherhood break me so I could be rebuilt. Sometimes the only way to wholeness is to be completely broken. I grew up in a Christian home, and I don't remember a time I didn't know Jesus, but I never knew Him like this before. He sustained me not just day-by-day, but moment-by-moment. It wasn't pretty and it wasn't perfect, but I did it. I survived the fire. I came out refined. Less obsessed with my list but head full of Jesus.

I sowed sorrow, exhaustion, failures, and inabilities and now I'm reaping faith like I've never known. 

Now that I know Him like that--when I've walked with him through the rough ride of the external while managing the awful of my own sin--I'll never be the same. Last week, after grieving for the pain of the present and future trial of my uncle and his family from his stroke, I was still able to clear the dishes, turn on some music, and stand at my kitchen sink, arms stretched high and sing: "rejoice. When you cry to him he hears your voice. In the midst of suffering He will help you sing." Because I know that. I know that. I can rejoice because I know that all roads belong to Him. I can rejoice because He never leaves me to myself. I can rejoice because I have suffered and He heard my voice when my cry was only a whisper hidden deep in the dry folds of my inner soul.

He redeems the imperfect, the simple, the subpar. His power flows through our weak and weary frames. We just have to give up. Acknowledge that we can't do one minute of motherhood without his power and his grace. When you reach the end of your rope, He is the net. Fall into his redemption.

We can't survive another minute without Him.

Sitting in the loving arms of Jesus. That's how I do it.

{If you're struggling through life with a newborn, check out my friend Gina Zeidler's latest blog for more encouragement. You are not alone:

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Purple-Haired Mommy

A lot of people are curious about my purple hair. No, it was not in support of the Vikings ill-fated playoff attempt. It wasn't about the new year or an attempt to outwardly demonstrate some inward change.

The simple explanation is that I wanted purple hair. 1. I love purple (this is not news). 2. I get easily bored with my hair, so when I'm in a growing out stage I often experiment with color.

Here's the details: it's Manic Panic brand in Purple Haze. It's semi-permanent color, so I wouldn't be surprised if I lose most of it in the pool next week in Florida. You are supposed to bleach all your hair before dyeing, but I wasn't up to that commitment so I have a lot more vibrant color on my previously blonde ends than my dark root area, and I like purple ombré effect it created.

I wanted to dye my hair purple for a long time, but a few things held me back:

  1. My husband: For a long time I assumed he would hate it, but when I finally really asked him and showed him pictures, he was all for it. Isn't it fun with your spouse surprises you? I always assume I know what his response will be, but I should probably give him more opportunities to give his opinion before I assume I know it.
  2. My Kids: Well, not so much my kids as my status as a MOM. I felt like it wasn't motherly to have purple hair.
  3. My Conservative Status: I'm a Christian and a pretty conservative girl on top of that. As much as I wanted to try purple hair, I didn't like the idea of people assuming I was alternative instead of conservative.

Why did I do it anyway?

Because it's totally me. As I looked in the mirror touching my newly purple locks, I told my husband that my high-school self would be squealing and giving me high fives if she could see me now. Because although I'm conservative, I'm a little wild too. I'm a major rule and tradition follower, but I'm also a bit of a renegade. I decided I didn't care if people thought I was alternative or the nanny instead of the mom. I wanted to be ME more than I cared about what acquaintances or strangers thought of me.

Because I want my kids to know all of me. Not just the conservative, by-the-book mom, but also the silly, fun, uninhibited mom too. The mom who comes up with crazy ideas and follows through with them. I hope one day after I'm long gone, they'll tell their kids or their grandkids that I was the kind of mom who died her hair purple. I don't have to be the mom who looks like all the other moms to be a good mom to my boys.

So here's to purple hair. To letting every part of my personality influence my motherhood. To never being too afraid of what other people think to be myself. To letting my kids really know me, even my wild side and especially my imperfections. Here's to being a purple-haired UnsuperMommy.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday Friends #1

Hey Blog Friends!

I'm attempting to post to my blog more regularly, so I wanted to start a special feature for Fridays. I may know you well, I may not know you in real life at all, or we may be in that acquaintance place where you might feel like a stalker checking out my blog. Let me first assure you, whether I know you well, a little, or not at all, there's no stalking here. This is my open book. I'm going to put my true self, struggles and triumphs and all onto this blog, and I'd love if you joined me for the ride. Get into the game by commenting here or on my Instagram or Facebook posts or catching me over on my periscope! When people respond to something I blog about it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

What's Friday Friendly going to be? A short blog where I share the kinds of tidbits that come up in conversations with all my real life friends. Imagine you are my best friend and you called me up because the kiddos are down for sleep and you just need a good chat. These Friday blogs will be me just sharing unfiltered me. I figure even if you are my real life best friend (you know who you are), we can't get a lot of chances to just chit-chat.

The truth is, motherhood can feel really lonely. It can feel like no one really knows me because it's just impossible to maintain those long-hour, daily friendships like what I grew up enjoying. These posts will be an attempt to counteract that feeling. I want you to know me and I want to know you. I'd love if you shared a few random thoughts about your weekly experience in the blog comments or on my Insta or Facebook. Let's open up and get to know each other through the daily simple thoughts of life as young mothers. Enough explanation, here goes!

1. I'm a Woo: 

If you haven't done Strengthsfinder 2.0, I highly suggest it. I just retook the test to determine my strengths. It had been 5 years or so and my life has changed a LOT, so I thought maybe my strengths would look different in this season. I'm going to persicope and probably blog more about this in the coming weeks, but I want you to know I'm a Woo. Woo is short for "winning others over." Woo's thrive on building new relationships and getting to know people. Like I said before, don't think you are a stalker. I LOVE meeting new people or finding new connections with old acquaintances. Reach out, I'd love to make a connection with you. It gives me a natural high!

2. My 17-month-old fell out of his crib at 1 am the other night:

I have never even seen him try to escape his crib, and he makes his first attempt in the middle of the night. I'm just crossing my fingers that it was a scary enough experience that he won't attempt it again any time soon. If he does, I may have to get one of those weird tent things for above his crib because he is definitely not ready for a big boy bed. He's probably my last baby, so I had been really hoping he would stick in his crib until maybe 2 and 1/2. He just flushed that pipe dream right down the toilet.

3. I'm all about bold lipstick these days:

When my mom taught me to wear makeup in Junior High, she stressed simple rosy lipstick, even though she always wore bright colors herself. I've been slowly working my way into fun lipstick colors for the past 3ish months and I'm loving it. I've always told my friends that putting on jewelry is the perfect way to fake that you put effort into your outfit, and I'm finding lipstick is the jewelry of makeup! I definitely don't put makeup on every day, but if I dab on a bold red in the car I look like I tried. It's a pretty amazing trick that takes about 15 seconds. My favorite colors right now are dark berry and cherry red. Lovely. Try it!

4. I'm already packing for our trip to Florida next Friday:

That will seem early or right on time to some of you, but I feel WAY behind. Since we don't need our summer clothes in January in Minnesota, I usually pack for Florida at least two weeks in advance. Yes, I'm that crazy person.

5. I spend way too much mental energy on Curious George: That program actually has pretty clever writing (especially the Halloween and Christmas specials), but some of it's assumptions drive me crazy. Why is George always at fault when the Man with the Yellow Hat is essentially letting a preschooler run around NYC on his own? Why does everyone George meets in NYC find it totally natural to see a monkey running around the city? How is he able to visit the Zoo without being accidentally locked in an exhibit? Oh George.

I hope you know me a little better now. I'd love to know you better too! Comment below or on Insta or FB with a couple Friday Friendlies about yourself! I'd love to woo you into friendship with me.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When Daddy Works Late

My husband works late about once a week. It can be rough. I dread that night. Often, he tells me early in the week so I can plan around it, but there are times when the clock hits 5 and I haven't heard from him all day and my heart just knows--he's going to be late. Sigh.

Let me just pause for a moment and give a major shoutout to single moms and military wives who do night time all by themselves every night. You rock.

My husband is working late two nights this week. TWO nights. Since I know ahead of time, I can plan my day to prepare for the crazy of dad-less dinner and bedtime. Here's what I do:

1. Keep Dinner Simple: 

Obvious, right? But I can't tell you how many times I've stubbornly stuck to a "real dinner" rather than stay simple and do only food the kids love. Avoid dinner battles like the plague on nights without Daddy. Tonight's dinner: raviolis (not homemade, no way) and Costco pesto sauce. I also don't shy away from calling up the grandparents to see what their dinner plans are and if involve 3 overactive boys and 1 tired mom.

2. Pace Myself:

Although a mommy work day always lasts until bedtime (I won't even mention everything we do after they go to bed), we're used to the reprieve of that Daddy Home moment and all the help that comes after it. Dinner and bedtime are no easy feat, but they are particularly hard when we're missing half of the tag-team.

When I'm used to running a 5k of motherhood every day, and suddenly get thrown into a half-marathon, I must adjust my pace. When Daddy's working late, I give myself extra breathing room throughout the day. I revert to rest-when -they-rest, newborn-style living. Cross today's day off the top of my list and write tomorrow's day there instead. Almost every goal I've set for myself can wait. Better to maintain a rhythm of rest than become Volcano Mommy, spewing angry mouthfuls of crushing criticism. I know enough about myself as a mom to recognize when I just need rest. So they are asleep or on quiet time and I know Dad's coming home late, I forget the task list and indulge: watch a tv show, read a book, surf the internet, or even take a nap.

When they aren't resting I continue to maintain a slow pace for the day, forgetting the unnecessary and just being Mom.

3. Plan an extra treat:

Think of something special for your kids and keep it in your back pocket for when the breaking point comes. Then you just step back and yell over the chaos: I've got _____ waiting! Think a trip to the playground, that book with flaps you have to keep on top of the fridge so it doesn't get destroyed, a popsicle, or even a bath. Today I have homemade chocolate chip cookies at the ready for when the insanity breaks loose beyond my control.

4. Do a Daddy Thing:

For my 3 boys, it's wrestling, tickling, or Hide and Seek after dinner. I try to do one of their favorite Dad-activities on nights he can't be home with them. Because it's hard for them to not see Daddy too. Because my husband fills a different role in their lives than I do. I can't replace Dad, but I can get outside of my box and give them a small dose of what he offers them.

5. Receive and Give Extra Grace:

I'm going to get honest and say some days I nurse grudges against one or all of my children. Because as much as I talk about giving space for failure in myself and my kids, my default is always going to be expecting perfection of all of us. When I know it's going to be a long day, I have to receive extra grace from God and let it overflow to my kids. Pray for a supernatural filling of the Holy Spirit. Repeat a simple Bible verse (I can do all things through him who strengthens me, Phil 4:13). Play worship songs on my phone. He gives me new grace for every new day. There's always enough on God's table to overflow into my relationships with my kids, but I don't always eat everything He is providing.

When Dad Gets Home:

My husband got home just in time to tuck my oldest son in for the night. But no matter when Wes gets home, even if it's a minute after I finish putting all the boys to bed or shortly before I go to sleep, my attitude should be the same: grateful. Because my man doesn't work late to make my life more difficult. He doesn't work late to avoid his family. He works early mornings and late nights to provide for our us. He works long hours to make certain his job is done right for the good of the company and for the good of his family. And for that I'll greet him with a kiss and a listening ear, not a list of my hard day.