Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

Tag Archives: motherhood

At home. Mom, stay . . .

Read the title of this post like you would if you were talking to a dog.

I’m just gonna be honest with you.

Today was one of those days.

There were beads in the ears. There was arguing. There was ungratefulness (from the grownup as well as the children). There was one dress-up princess crown (out of the six or seven that we have in our dress up box) that the girls couldn’t seem to share. And there was this:

Today I wondered to myself, “Why did I decide to be a stay at home mom?” Today I started reminiscing about my working days, before I had children, when I could fit into my cute business-casual clothes. I don’t even think I have any of my suits anymore. And even if I did, none of them would fit. Some days, I wonder, if I ever decide to go back to work, what will I put on my resume?

  • Proficient at cleaning urine, feces (human and canine), and vomit, while suppressing gag reflex
  • Supplier of magic kisses; they make pain and tears disappear instantly
  • Well-versed at the art of breastfeeding and swaddling.
  • Multi-tasker extraordinaire – can email, tweet, facebook, prepare a meal, write a check, and change a diaper simultaneously
  • Fluent in sarcasm, but not the good kind.

Would you hire me?

Le sigh.

Even as I write this, the tension in my shoulders persists, my head’s starting to ache, and I still want to throw myself on the ground and have a mommy meltdown. I want to run out the doors kicking and screaming just to get a few moments to myself where I don’t have to think about where someone’s shoe is or if they’re climbing something they’re not supposed to climb or if they’re writing on the walls in blue sharpie.

But, this is MY life.

And it isn’t always like this.

And even when it is, it’s still a good life.

Because I’m raising two little girls who decided to this without prompting (even though it was the wrong cleaner and even though they actually made it a little worse):

Because they needed to clean up their little sister’s mess. Because they wanted to make mom happy. Because mom works so hard. Because, “we want to show mom that we love her.”

Hmmmmmm . . .

Maybe I’m not so bad at my job.

Or maybe, just maybe, in my failings as a parent, as a wife, as a human being, God’s grace still shines through. Somewhere in this mess of a woman is a dim reflection of Christ who reaches out to my children, who loves them, who teaches them, who nurtures their tender little souls.

So, here I’ll stay. It may be a dirty mirror, but somehow, it’s enough. Somehow, it’s sufficient.

Why I Heart Christmas: New Traditions Edition

This is No. 4 in the four-part series “Why I heart Christmas”.

Click on the links to check out previous posts, A little Background, The Sibling Edition, and The Husband Edition.

Sorry this post is a little late, folks. We had some last minute house guests, which led to impromptu grocery shopping and house cleaning. And also, I was having a hard time loading pictures and videos. I’d better get the hang of this if I’m going to ever become a serious blogger, huh?

I think this post is my favorite to write of the bunch. I think because it’s so open with possibility. The girls are young and each Christmas brings a new age with new awareness and understanding of this special holiday.

First and foremost, this will probably cause a little controversy, but Hubs and I have chosen to NOT do the Santa thing in our household. The bottom line is because we don’t want to lie to our children, no matter how innocent or fun the lie is. (I need to insert here that in between starting this post and writing this sentence, we went to Chic-fil-A for Kids’ Night. Guess who was making an appearance? Santa. The kids giggled and were giddy. Firstborn Diva Child said, “I knew you weren’t telling the truth! Santa’s real! He’s here!” And Drama Queen Middle Child said, “Don’t you know he’s real mom?” Here’s a little picture from the encounter).

We do several fun things throughout the season to prepare for Christmas.

Like most families, we decorate the Christmas tree. I think my firstborn Diva child is going to enjoy it as much as I do. She loves ornaments. Our favorite is the Peanuts ornament. It’s shows Linus on the stage. We went to great lengths to get this ornament for her after seeing it some friends’ house a few years ago. Long story short, we tried to get it at several stores where we lived and we tried to get it online. They were sold out. I asked my mom to ask around. She called all the Hallmark stores in her city and found one that had the store model left. She drove to the other side of town to pick it up. She mailed us the box. When I received the package, it was empty. I called my mom who called the store who found it stashed somewhere in the back room. Then the battery was dead. So, all in all, when you consider the time spent hunting and procuring it, the gas used going to the store twice, postage, and the replacement battery, not to mention the cost of the ornament itself, we probably spent somewhere in the ball park of $60 to $70 on this ornament. I don’t think about that. I think about how much my girls love it. And how each time they push the button, they hear the Christmas story. Here’s what it looks like and does, in case you were wondering what ornament is worth that much money (FYI, this is a video I took of our ornament).

This year, one of my favorite bloggers, Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience wrote and gave a free Jesse Tree Devotional, complete with pictures to make ornaments. If you don’t know what a Jesse Tree is, it’s a daily devotional starting at the beginning of Advent. It goes through the history of Jesus’ lineage up to his birth. It helps those of us who are believers see our own lineage of grace. This is the first year I’ve done a purposeful daily advent devotional with the girls. Sometimes I don’t think they’re listening, but they remember which stories go with the ornaments hanging on the pine branches we cut from our huge backyard tree. Here’s a picture of our Jesse Tree, in progress.

I just have to interject here that if you haven’t discovered Ann Voskamp and A Holy Experience, take a few minutes today to peruse her blog. Everything she has ever posted that I have read has left me hopeful and encouraged. Her’s is a quiet voice in the noisiness of the internet. A quiet respite, a salve to the wearied soul. I have read her blog for years and as long as she continues to write, I will read.

In the past I have made these pancakes.

I may try my hand at Rudolph or Santa-shaped pancakes (see we still talk about and do Santa, we just don’t teach that he’s real). We actually have a family tradition that goes along with pancakes. It’s another from my mother-in-law. She reads “Little Black Sambo” (which is about a little boy in India whose mother makes him pancakes out of tiger ghee – you have to read it to understand it). She would read it on Christmas Eve and then fix pancakes for Breakfast on Christmas morning. Then we use Alton Brown’s recipe for Instant Pancake Mix. So good. Yes, pancakes are in order soon.

When I became a mother, one of the gifts my mother gave me for Christmas was “The ADVENTure of Christmas” by Lisa Whelchel. It’s only until recently that I felt that I could use some of the ideas in this book with the kids. There are all sorts of recipes (we’re SO trying Wassail this year), crafts (we might make some “Reindeer Evangelists” – candy canes made up as reindeer), and historical facts and stories about the traditions of Christmas. The artwork is fun and captivating. Most importantly, it takes some of the well-known holiday traditions and points them toward why our family celebrates the season, Jesus. I’m so excited to get to use it this year (here it is on her website, here it is on amazon.com).

Here are some websites I’ve found with some great ideas for this season:

Check out my friend Sarah’s blog, Mashed Bananas. While she is an incredible writer, she’s even a more incredible mom. Here are a few things she did one year with her kids. Really. She’s uber-mom. Uber-fun-mom. Indoor “paper snow ball” fight? Fun. Homemade snowflakes and hot chocolate? Yum. Then there’s the Santa pancakes I’m totally stealing. Here’s what she did the year before that, a homemade advent calendar made out of match boxes. I’m not nearly that ambitious, but if you are, it’s a super cute idea.

I love what this homeschooling mom (Our Homeschool Fun) has done with her kids. Check out the Christmas Trees made of wooden craft sticks. Love it!

Family Fun Magazine always has creative homemade gift ideas that the kids can do. I actually purchased the supplies to make these fun felt pens last year, but didn’t get to it (we had a lot going on). I think the girls would love to do it this year and give them to the relatives. I also saw these little bowling boys that I thought would be fun to make for my nephews.

And finally, there’s World Vision. We support a little boy named Jose in El Salvador. Because we do, we receive mail from World Vision throughout the year. We’ve been leafing through their Christmas 2010 Gift Catalog trying to figure out what the perfect gift to purchase might be. Do we buy a chicken or a goat or clean drinking water or a Ger for a family in Mongolia? The girls want to buy baby chickens. I’m thinking about a goat. It’s a great way to give to those in need out of the great abundance God has given our family.

While I have always loved Christmas, I think I love it more now. Being a mother and watching my children experience it is far better than experiencing it myself. It is my earnest hope and sincerest prayer that they learn the reason why this holiday is so special. It’s about an all-powerful, infinitely loving, exceedingly just, all gracious God humbling himself into the form of a helpless infant to save the fallen world he so lovingly created. I pray that as our family grows and matures that our faith will as well.

Late Night Rendezvous

It was a normal Monday afternoon, like any other. I was running a few errands with my girls when I saw it. The sign. The store hours.

“Open 24 hours”.

I had forgotten that in some places in the United States, there are grocery stores open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (they don’t exist in small towns and Alaska).

But there it was. Right next to the bin with the apples.

B.H. (Before husband) and B.C. (Before Children), I used to LOVE going grocery shopping late at night, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning. I don’ t know why. Maybe it’s because all the really interesting people come out late at night. Maybe it’s because the store is empty. Maybe it’s because I like being alone (I’m one of those weird people who has no problems going to a movie by myself).

So I had a thought. What if I did my grocery shopping at midnight? I mean, the store’s open. The kids are asleep. Hubs is home. It is the perfect time for a night owl stay at home mom like me to go grocery shopping.

So I shared my thought with my husband. And after he finished laughing at me, he agreed that it might not be a bad idea.

So, I did it. I put the kids down for the night (or at least a few hours because none of them sleep all through the night . . . ever. That’s a whole other post entirely). I grabbed my coupons and headed to the store.

I turned the corner and whoa, prime parking. There was the parking lot, in all its empty glory, giving me my choice of any parking spot I wanted. I didn’t have to compete with the grandma who wants to park as close to the store as possible. There was no game of  chicken with the lady on her lunch break who is running in just to get a few things. Except for the entourage of college students huddled outside the store puffing on some cigarettes, all was quiet.

Like any good American, I parked as close to the store as I possibly could. I walked into the store, grabbed my cart and commenced the shopping experience. Do you know how it good it feels to compare prices without a child vying for your attention? You don’t? Well let me tell you, it feels pretty darn fantastic. I like to take my time. I like to see what my options are. I don’t like to be rushed into my purchases, even if those purchase are just groceries. I compared the name brand over the counter drugs to the generic store brand. I looked at my coupons to see if they were really going to save me money. I got first pick of the Manager’s Special discount items. I actually went down the candy aisle without a meltdown. Well, there was an internal meltdown because I told myself, “No, we didn’t come to the store today to get that Ghiradelli chocolate.” I rationalized with inner two year old, and then moved on.

I did feel a little odd, as I was one of the few in the store who was actually pushing a cart. Apparently, most people who shop at that hour are singles who need no more than a carried basket. Or people who are just running in to get a single item like diapers or milk or ice cream. I soon got over it and just enjoyed having the store practically to myself.

One annoyance was the maintenance man who was changing the light bulbs at the front of the store. His light bulb fixing contraption made a high-pitched beeping noise. However, I’m a mom. To three little girls. I am an expert at tuning out annoying high pitched noises.

My favorite part of my shopping trip however, was the frozen section. In this particular store, the lights in the freezer had some sort of motion detection. The aisles were fairly dim, but as soon as I stepped toward the aisle, a section of the freezer lit up. As I ventured further down the aisle, sections kept lighting up. I felt like I was on the red carpet or I was walking on a deck of the Starship Enterprise. I’m not sure how those two correlate. In some alternate universe it would be like Carrie Bradshaw on the arm of Jean Luc Picard. It made me special. Like the freezer section was saying, “Welcome. We’re so glad you’re here. Let us show you our selection.” And we don’t care that you’re wearing sweats and flip flops.

All in all, my late night trip to the grocery store brought back fond memories of my single days, when the basket was lighter, and the total on the receipt was a much smaller number. However, it was abundantly clear that I was not a single lady doing my shopping in the middle of the night. A jumbo pack of toilet paper? Check. A couple packages of diapers. Check. Check. A container of generic Tums? Check.

I shouldn’t need to go to the grocery store any time soon. I stockpiled enough to get me through to possibly Christmas. But if I do, you can bet your pretty little head that  I’m going to do it without the kids. I’m going to go at midnight. And I’m going to go in my pajamas.

The Fruit of the Spirit in Mothering

I wrote this a few years back for a baby shower I hosted. The intended mother was having her first baby as I was getting ready to have my third. Now she’s mom to three (one two year-old and three-month old twins – yeah, she’s pretty amazing, but mostly because she relies on God to give her the strength to do that job). I had forgotten that I had written this and I stumbled upon it again. Still applicable. Probably always will be, seeing as I’ll be a mom for the rest of my life.

As mom’s we are always in the trenches. While sometimes it feels like we’re a one-woman army taking on the world, our children, and laundry, we often forget that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).

When we walk with the Lord, the fruit of the Spirit should be evident in our daily lives. When we become mothers, the fruit starts to grow and mature in ways we never expected or thought possible. It manifests itself in surprising ways and we realize our children our teaching us about our relationship with the Father, just as much as we are teaching them. As we raise our children, we must lean heavily on the giver of these fruits, not only for our benefit, but also for the benefit of our children.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Love: As soon as a mother begins to love her child, she finds that the love endures for the rest of her life, even in the most difficult circumstances. When the mother looks into her newborn’s eyes for the first time, she can’t imagine loving that little person any more than she does in that moment. As the child grows, the mother finds that her love grows as each day passes. As she realizes that her love for the child is unconditional, she also begins to understand that this human love pales in comparison to God’s gracious and abundant love for her. As her love grows for her child, she starts to understand just how great God’s love for her really is when she ponders how he gave over his son for her sin.

Joy: Most of the time, the joy a mother feels is during the quiet and uneventful times of life. She finds herself overjoyed when her baby smiles at her for the first time. She beams when her three year-old sings a praise song to Jesus. She sees the fruit of her labor when her teenager makes a right decision based on the foundations she taught. She cries tears of joy the day her child marries and begins a family. The joy a mother feels never ends. The joy a Christian mother feels is deeper than mere moments of happiness because even in sorrow, the joy of her Savior sustains her.

Peace: Sometimes, the only peace a mother gets is while her child is sleeping. When life bustles all around, a mother must find her peace in the one who whispers, “Peace, be still.” Her body may be tired, but her soul can rest, knowing that he who calms the waters can also calm her heart. She must cling to the promise he has given “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Though she may face trouble in this life, she can “take heart”, knowing that Christ has overcome the world.

Patience: Some days, the mother finds that her kids are ridiculously out of control. One child is teething and whines non-stop. The other just flushed her favorite pair of earrings down the toilet. Or they keep taking their clothes off and running around naked. Or they just emptied a brand new box of cheerios onto the kitchen floor. Or . . . Some days it’s difficult to find patience in the craziness of motherhood. In the midst of it all, she must remember to ask direction from her perfect father above, who knows better than anyone how to love a disobedient, stubborn, and rebellious child. God is the perfect model of patience. She finds that when she seeks his council and asks for patience, he graciously grants it to her.

Kindness: The kindest thing a mother can do is to bring her child to the Lord. She teaches biblical truths to her child so that the Good News will always be in the forefront of their conversations together. She knows that God’s kindness leads to repentance, so she, in turn, shows kindness to her child. She shares the hope of salvation with her child. Her lips are filled with grace and kindness as she instructs her child in the way of the Lord.

Goodness: A mother’s goodness is evident in how she treats others. She is always aware that little eyes are watching her every action and little ears are hearing her every word. She gives to the needy, and teaches her child to do the same. As an example, she works diligently and discourages idleness from her child. She recognizes that the goodness she gives to her child is merely an extension of the goodness that God gives her. As she experiences God’s goodness, she shares it with all the people in her life.

Faithfulness: A faithful mother stays in the Word, which allows her to faithfully give instruction to her child. She remembers how Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” She daily brings her child to the Lord in prayer. She teaches them to love the Lord, by the way she lives her life. Each day brings new opportunities to trust her Savior’s faithfulness to her, as she gives her child to Him. As she labors for her child, she remembers God’s faithfulness to her throughout her life.

Gentleness: A mother’s gentle touch is often all a child needs to feel comforted or safe. While she dries the tears of her child, she remembers the times her Father has wrapped his loving arms around her and gently consoled her when life seemed too much to bear. Her speech is filled with gentle words for the members of her family as she remembers that a “gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” It becomes evident that the presence or absence of gentleness in her words and actions determines the tone for her entire family. She is aware that the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit is of great worth in God’s sight and she strives daily to give that to her child.

Self-Control: It’s difficult to have self-control on the days that are out of control. A mother often finds that her depth of self-control is tested on a continual basis. Regardless of how she is tested, a mother learns to lean on her Father to give her self-control in the harried and stressful times of life. She remembers her Heavenly Father who gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love. She asks for His help to imitate him as she interacts with her child.

Scripture references: Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 11:28-30, John 16:33, Romans 2:4, Proverbs 31:26, Matthew 9:14, Proverbs 15:1, 1 Peter 3:3-4, Psalm 103:8

It doesn’t matter . . . it’s in the past

Ok, so not really. My past has shaped who I am today. I already wrote a post about what I’d say to my former selves. This post is not a repeat of that.

Actually, I want to try to go to bed before midnight tonight (I have 32 minutes until midnight . . . not sure I’ll make it, but we’ll try). So quick post for you. I have mentioned in my “What’s My Story?” that I tried writing several different types of blogs in the past. And it’s true. I have.

Some of those blogs still exist. I haven’t deleted them. They mostly concentrated on one area of my life. But I still wrote them and those posts could be relevant to what I write here on Doin’ It Halfway.

So, here are half of my other blogs for you to check out. Don’t worry, Doin’ It Halfway is my end-all. But, I thought I’d still share them in case you’d like to see a little bit more of who I am. Because I was as honest on these other blogs as I am on Doin’ It Halfway. It’s just that when I started the other blogs, I didn’t have the time machine to go forward in time to see that I would write a catch-all blog later on down the road.

R House of Drama: Where I posted about my adventures of being a mom of three girls. And really, having three girls is an adventure. of. drama. Why, just today, we had a rendition of “That’s Mine! No it’s not! It’s mine!” Love those girls, even though they make me so crazy that I had to tell hubs to put them to bed tonight because my attitude was as bad as theirs.

Voice of My Depression: I started this blog a month or so ago, wanting to have an honest discussion about depression and show people who don’t suffer from depression what depression is all about. Wow – I used the word depression three times in the previous sentence. Weird. Anyway – it’s a little more of the serious side of me. And there are only like three posts because I started to write this blog instead. But it’s still me and you’ll find posts like these scattered throughout Doin’ It Halfway in the future.

P90X: One Fat Chic’s Journey: Ok, I’m keepin’ it real with this one. I’m a little ashamed to put this one out there because it’s for real, me. And my struggle with weight. But whatever. I’ve had three kids. I’ve gone through a deployment. I’ve had some rough family situations, moved seven times in the last five years, and lived in a hotel when I started writing Fat Chic’s Journey. Oh yeah, I mentioned Tae Bo in my “What’s My Story?”, but not P90X. I did it for about three weeks. Yep. Halfway. I will tell you that I deleted the pictures because the current readers of “Halfway” are people who know me and, while I’m honest, I just can’t share the rolls. But the stats, I’ll keep up. Mostly because it pertains to struggle with weight and eating and exercise that I mention here.

All these themes (and more) will be discussed at some point here on Doin’ It Halfway. But for now, it’s easier to just link to what’s already been written to give you a little more insight into the crazy world that is mine.

Didn’t make the midnight deadline. Boo. Oh well. As Scarlet O’Hara would say, “I won’t think about that today. I’ll think about it tomorrow.”

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