Spring…Finally

Could spring actually be arriving here in Rochester? I mean its only April already…

I feel like we have been stuck in this black hole of gloomy days, frigid temps and incredible amounts of snow for WAY TOO LONG. But, finally, it seems to be turning the corner.

My kids have been a special kind of crazy this week. Think skipping naps, not going to bed, making gigantic messes, copping little attitudes and FIGHTING LIKE CRAZY. Its this ridiculous cabin fever and yesterday I couldn’t take it a second longer. My kids were standing on their chairs and the table, making a giant mess with their lunch and Autumn was even naked…and dancing…in cowboy boots…with her bagel. I told them to hurry up and get dressed because I was taking them to one of my favorite parks as a kid – The Holy Ghost Playground. Of course they all screamed when I said ghost but I assured them they would have fun. We got there and had the whole playground to ourselves and they ran and let all of their craziness out. We stayed for over an hour and it was the most relaxed I had been all day. I was even able to capture some pretty good pictures of our first official trip to the park as a family of 6!!

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Emerson’s Birth Story and Health Testimony!

Hey all!

Can you believe that Emerson will be 4 months old soon?? I can’t! She has been such a wonderful addition to our family and has become such a smiley, happy little girl! Due to all the crazy PPD/PPOCD/PPA that I have been experiencing (if you don’t know what I am talking about you can visit the posts here and here), I never got around to writing about Emerson’s crazy entrance in to this world. I know that I have continued to say that I would post it when I was ready, but going back to that day was a little hard for me over the past few months.

But now I am ready to share it with you all 🙂

The majority of you probably read my extremely dramatic post that I wrote on Emerson’s due date. If you didn’t, don’t worry. You didn’t miss out on much – just me lamenting about how she was taking FOREVER and would NEVER come out. Pregnancy emotions at their very best :).

That night, perhaps an hour or two after posting, I had some cramps and was generally uncomfortable. I called the doctor and she basically said “Its your 4th, you would know if you were in labor, just try to get some rest…” So I did just that, or at least I tried. I went to bed and had a normal night (kids waking up with nightmares, wanting milk, getting up every 20 min to pee…) until Matt’s alarm for work went off around 330am. After 5 minutes of deliberating we decided that being uncomfortable wasn’t a reason for him to stay home from work and so he left. About 30 minutes later, on one of my many trips to the bathroom, my water broke. I immediately started panicking because the pressure was so intense, but still no contractions. I called my mom, Matt’s mom and Matt. Matt rushed back home and my mom rushed over so that we could go to the hospital. I was still just uncomfortable, so we knew we had some time, but we didn’t want to risk anything….

When I got into the triage part of the hospital we informed them that we would be wanting an epidural this time around. At the time I couldn’t figure out why I was so anxious about this birth, I mean I was literally so scared. Looking back now I can recognize that I was already on the road to postpartum anxiety even before Emerson had arrived. I thought that an epidural would ease some of that anxiety. The nurse informed us that since it didn’t look like I was in transition and my contractions were irregular that we had time and could wait it out.

She was WRONG. They checked me a few minutes later and I was already 7.5 cm dilated. Things moved very quickly from there. We were transferred to our room, blood taken, IV started all within 15 minutes. The anesthesiologist came in to administer the epidural. While inserting the needle I had my first real contraction. I got through it sitting still so that he was able to administer the test dose. It was working so they decided they would check me before the actual epidural was put into place. Emerson decided she wasn’t going to wait. As soon as I laid back down on the bed the nurse said I could push if I wanted to. I had still only had one real contraction but I thought we would give it a try. 30 seconds later Emerson was lying on my chest, beautiful and crying. One push – that was it. We had only parked the car 40 minutes earlier.

To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I was overjoyed but also overwhelmed. She was beautiful and I was so happy that she was here, but for the first time in my life I started to truly question my ability to be a mom. I was so in love with her, but so afraid that I couldn’t handle it all.

The time in the hospital was quick. We stayed for 24 hours, the girls came up to visit and then we bundled her up and brought her home. Here are some of the pics from the hospital…

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Emerson was diagnosed with “failure to thrive” at around 2 months. She stopped gaining weight, would throw up what little food she would eat, couldn’t go to the bathroom on her own and was miserable most of the time. Already plagued with anxiety, I was a nervous wreck as we talked about all the possible things that could wrong with the doctor. We decided that we needed to enlist our church, as well as family to pray for her. We began to pray hard, specifically for weight gain, and for me it WAS hard. I was having a really hard time trusting the Lord because of everything that I have been going through. When we are walking through darkness and can’t see the purpose it is so easy for us to become quickly discouraged and to begin to question everything we thought we believed in so strongly. I was desperate for some sign from the Lord that He was in fact working in our family, despite the fact that I felt forsaken.

5 days after we had all begun praying for Emerson we had to take her back to the doctors unexpectedly. We (my husband and I) actually thought that he liver or gall bladder might be shutting down (do NOT google your child’s symptoms, especially if you are as anxiety prone as I am!!). So we took her in and found out that in 5 days she had gained 12oz!! She also had no ear infection anymore, and a few tests that they did came back normal! Then we had to bring her back again 4 days later and she gained another 11oz!!

Today she is thriving! She is gaining weight, eating a TON, barely spitting up and hitting all of her milestones!! We are SO thankful. Having her heal so quickly and so miraculously has given me a lot of strength and determination to get through all of my own issues as well. Knowing without a doubt that the Lord is truly working in our family has instilled in a me a new hope that I will get better in His timing.

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Look at those chubby little cheeks!!

Anyways, I am so excited to be back to regular blogging and I am working on some new series coming up soon!! Stay tuned!!

And in case you are need of some extra cuteness:

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Slowing Down

I can’t believe that summer is almost over! We did a lot of things, we felt really busy and it just seemed to go by so fast! I just can’t believe that 2 whole months have gone by just like that…

But then I started thinking about the past few years over all, and they have seemed to go by just as fast as this summer has. Matt and I were talking about a few things that we had done in the past as a family, and couldn’t believe that we were talking about things that had gone on nearly three or four YEARS ago.

This got me really thinking, like about how I felt like I was pregnant FOREVER with Autumn and now she is a walking/talking 2.5 year old! That she is about to be the big sister to TWO younger sisters, that Gabbi is about to start SECOND grade and she is SEVEN and that Scarlet, who is supposed to still be a baby, suddenly woke up in the last few days a toddler that is starting to talk and constantly trying to keep up her big sisters….

I know, I know….I am pregnant and probably WAY over emotional, but being pregnant doesn’t make time go by faster than it does normally, and it is going by way too fast. And while I know I don’t MAKE time go by faster, I suddenly felt convicted that I wasn’t using these short years that I have with the girls to my greatest advantage. I know, that to some extent, I am making it feel like it is going faster….because I can’t seem to slow down.

Matt is always asking me why I feel the need to constantly be doing something, anything, and while I have not totally figured out why I do this, I have figured out, recently, that it isn’t necessary and that it is causing me to become totally stressed out, about time moving too fast and just about daily life in general. I am always trying to squeeze in a million things to our days, weeks, months and years (yes…I have some things planned out on our calendar MONTHS in advance…), I hate last minute schedule changes (they totally cause me anxiety), I LOATHE being late to anything and I seem to constantly be in a hurry. Hurrying to get everyone ready, to get out the door, to get the chores done, to feed everyone, to get through bedtime and then just like that on to the next day…..its becoming pretty exhausting.

The worst part of it is, is that I am realizing that in every moment I feel like I am only half there, and halfway into preparing for the next thing. So often its was causes me to lose my temper with the girls, because something they are doing unexpectedly is causing me to stress out, not necessarily over what we are doing right that moment, but for what we will be doing in the next. I don’t want to overschedule these growing up years so much that I miss out on enjoying them, and just being in the moment with my girls. I need to let go of some of the time control and just let us all be together, enjoying each other….

So, I am making a pledge to my girls that with the start of this school year we will slow down. We will take time this fall to just enjoy each other and await the arrival of the newest beauty to our group. It doesn’t mean we won’t go on outings, or be busy at all, but it means that I will change my attitude towards timing and scheduling. It means that I will let go of the reigns a *tiny* bit and let us just be.

Most importantly, it means that I will be present in each and every moment, and stop putting so much focus on the ones that aren’t even here yet. The days with these girls can seem so long when we are in them, but when we look back on them, the weeks and the years add up so quickly. I want to get the most valuable, quality time with my girls that I can…

So if I am a little bit late this season, I apologize in advance. And if you show up to my house and it’s a little messier than usual, just take it as a sign that I am busy enjoying the greatest parts of my life instead Smile….

Gluten Free Girl Scout Cookies??

When I was younger, I was in girl scouts for a long time. I loved every minute of it, and my two very best friends in girl scouts are still two of my very best friends now! Last year, when Gabbi started school, I decided to look into scouts for her because I knew that it would be such a great experience. When I found out that a leader was needed for her troop, I jumped at the chance! Now, in a few weeks were are about to embark on our second year in scouts and our first year as Brownies….but this post is really about one of the most important parts of scouts…COOKIES!

I have ordered Girl Scout Cookies every year of my life that I can remember, and I know a lot of you have done the same! Last year, I was so excited to find out that some of the cookies were dairy free, so I ordered a bunch. However, by the time we got our orders in, we had started on our gluten free journey and I realized I had just eliminated one of my favorite foods – Tag-a-longs.  I was so upset (seriously…I might have shed a tear or two out of sheer frustration at my body for seeming to have so many food issues!). Then I broke down, ate a box and got sick. My husband literally hid the rest of the boxes until he had eaten them all, even though I had no intention of trying them again and making myself feel so horrible.

I thought that my relationship with these wonderful chocolate covered peanut butter cookies was over, until last week when I finally decided to check out a blog that so many people I know have been RAVING about for a long time. I have been a little bored with our go to recipes, and since the morning sickness finally ended around 20ish weeks, I have been meaning to try out some new recipes – especially baked goods! So I went over to Real Sustenance, a food blog devoted to all sorts of allergen free recipes and I was overwhelmed with the number of recipes. I literally have a huge list of things that I want to try out! However, I knew that the first thing I needed to try to make were some cookies for my husband, so I went straight to the cookie section. When I saw the picture of the cookies I nearly jumped for joy! When I read the recipe and realized that I had all of the ingredients here at home I was even more excited!!

I’m just going to post a link to the actual recipe on her site, because I didn’t change anything and they came out fantastic:

Gluten Free Tag-a-longs

However, I did take some pics of our time making them! So I will go ahead and post those here Smile

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Her recipe started out with this super-easy-to-make-can’t-really-mess-it-up short “bread” cookie made from almond meal. This cookie by itself was REALLY GOOD. I am going to make up some plain today just for the girls to munch on.

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After they have cooled, we spread a mixture of peanut butter and powdered sugar onto the shortbread cookie…I was getting more and more excited as we went along! Have I mentioned how much we LOVE peanut butter in this house? Will all the food sensitivities and allergies we have,  I am so grateful that peanuts are NOT one of them

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Then Gabbi got to dunk all of the peanut butter covered cookies into melted chocolate. Clearly ours don’t looks as nice as the ones pictured on her site, but Gabbi had a lot of fun and took her time covering each and every cookie!

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We took some of the leftover shortbread cookies and topped them with honey and toasted shredded coconut, following the easier version of her Grain Free Samoas.

They were both incredibly delicious and will definitely become staples around this house….especially when Girl Scout Cookie season comes up in a few months!

For you former thin mint lovers, she also has a recipe for those as well, though I have not tried it!

I definitely recommend heading over to her site if you are looking for some fantastic recipes or even just some new ideas!

And simply because pictures of messy children are cute…here are some pictures of Autumn and Scarlet eating their breakfast of (previously frozen) mixed berry salad the other morning….

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Date Night Jars!

When Matt and I first got married we got SO MUCH ADVICE from couples who had been married for awhile about the importance of scheduling time together, especially in the midst of adding more and more babies to the family. I have to admit that at the time I thought we wouldn’t need to “schedule” date night, or even pay attention to how much “alone time” we had to reconnect because we already did nearly everything we could together. Plus, I had already had Gabbi and we kind of had a little routine going on spending time together going out on those nights when she was away at her dad’s house. Fast forward to when we were celebrating our second wedding anniversary last October, with having bought a house, added 2 new babies to the family and the crazy work hours Matt had for so long and we realized that we hadn’t left the house alone together in OVER 6 MONTHS! Whoa! Its not like we weren’t spending any time together, we tried to order take out and watch movies together when we could, but it became very clear that we had let our one on one relationship drop WAY down on the priority list. Ever since that night, we have made a tremendous effort to take time out as a couple, even if most of our date nights are at home after the kids go to bed. We even met with our Pastor and his wife to find out how we could communicate better, so that little time that we had alone together would be much more effective at strengthening our marriage. Things have been fantastic, and we have gotten so much closer all over again. Marriage can be tough work at times, but the rewards are so worth it!

Now, most Friday nights are devoted to spending time together after the craziness of our long weeks. Because of Matt’s work hours, we don’t get much time to see each other, let alone talk about anything other than what we did that day, from Tuesday night until Friday when he comes home. It makes for some seriously long weeks, and by Friday night at 830, I am so ready to reconnect with my best friend. But, during the past few weeks I have noticed that we seem to be slowly sinking back into a routine of watching a movie or ordering some take out and I wanted to shake things up a bit before potentially falling into another dull spell.

Thank the Lord for Pinterest and all of you crafty mamas out there! It only took me about 15 seconds to find the idea for the date night jar, and about as much time to make it! I like to pretend I am a crafty person, but the truth is my life is full of half finished projects because I just don’t have the time or skill to do half of these ambitious craft projects that I set out to do. I was so glad to find something so easy! The original idea is from a wonderful blog and can be found by clicking here. I just took out one of our mini mason jars that we had lying around, spray painted some wooden popsicle sticks and wrote some fun ideas on them!

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The blue sticks are for date nights at home and include things like: movie night, make sushi, play a board game, create a bucket list, indoor picnic and other fun things like that. I had a really hard time coming up with some of the ideas!

The pink sticks require someone coming to watch the kids for a short time and get us out of the house without spending a lot of money and include things like: dessert out, go for a walk at Hamlin Beach, go out for coffee, go ice skating (when I’m not pregnant anymore…) and those type of things.

The purple ones are things that require more planning, getting a sitter for a longer time and are more expensive. They are things like: get dressed up and go out to a really nice rest, go away for the night, dinner and a movie out (which we have only done once because we never want to be gone that long!), and go to a show at Geva or Eastman.

I put all the sticks together in the jar, added a cute little label and that was it! It was so easy and I can’t wait to use it!

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On the back of the label, I wrote out what all the different colored sticks stand for, in case we forget!

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One of the best things that we can do as parents for our children is to work on our marriage and ensure that our marriage will not only help to create the foundation of the home that they are growing up in, but also be a great example of what a working marriage is like, so that they can begin to understand what it should be like for them in the future.

After I made the Date Night Jar for us, I came up with an idea to make one for the girls too! Matt and I have been talking about taking each of the girls on one on one dates starting in September. Our family has grown so quickly that in our house it is really hard for the kids to get a lot of one on one time with each of us. We try to make the time for it, but things always seem to be popping up. We finally sat down and decided to make a schedule that allows us to each take two of the girls out each month (once Emerson arrives) so that they will each get one date every month. We had come up with a little list of things that might be fun to do, allowed us to spend time connecting with each of them and that didn’t require us to set aside an entire day, but rather an hour or two of quality time. I decided to take this list and turn it into a “Daughter Date Nights” jar as well! I assigned a color to each of the girls, and then added activities to those popsicles that would appeal to each of them individually:

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Autumn is blue and has things such as: go on a picnic, go to the playground, go out for ice cream, visit Country Max (her FAVORITE store) and go to Chuck E Cheese

Scarlet’s are pink and have: Springdale Farms, trip to play at the play room at the Y, outside date (park, walk etc.), trip to library and those types of things…

Gabbi has purple and she has things like: bowling, ice skating, pedicures, out for coffee, trip to the mall etc.

Because we have Strong Museum and Zoo memberships, each girl has a popsicle stick for a trip to those places as well.

I also added some sparkly nail polish to the tops of those activities that Matt wouldn’t want to take the girls to go do:

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That way they will know not to pick the sparkly ones when it is his turn to take them Smile.

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The jar turned out just as cute as the one that I had made for Matt and I , and I am so excited to begin this tradition of taking our girls on dates. I truly hope that this will help to add to the foundation that we are trying to build for them at home. I want to enjoy each of them now while they are young, and ensure that we have a trusting bond that will allow them to continue to be open, honest and forth coming with us in the future.

 

Each of these jars have a lot of blank popsicle sticks in them because I had such a hard time coming up with ideas to put on them! If anyone has any great date night or daughter date night ideas, please leave a comment!

My Heart Aches…

 

As a parent of a first grader, I have been feeling very conflicted all weekend. Watching the news unfold about the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School on Friday was the most heart wrenching thing that I have ever experienced. I can’t even begin to imagine what it is like for the parents of all the children of the school, especially the parents of those who didn’t survive the vicious attack. I have been fervently praying for the Lord to be with them all weekend and as we are heading into a new school week I can’t shake the fact that this could have been any school, anyone’s children. How do we send our children off to school without feeling some kind of fear/anxiety about their safety? I keep telling myself over and over again that the likelihood of anything like that happening here, tomorrow or any day, is not probable. Then again, those parents sent their kids off to school on Friday never even beginning to imagine that this would happen to their children. It is nerve wracking that we live in a world where this kind of vicious attack is taking place. My heart aches for those families and for the children all over the world who live in fear for their own safety. I don’t want my child to have to know what it feels like to fear for her safety in any way.

I had originally intended on waiting to see if Gabbi would bring anything up about the attack today, and when she didn’t I had resolved at first to not say anything to her at all. The more I thought about it (and after talking briefly about with my mother – in – law, who also happens to be an educator and has worked in the public school system for many years) I decided that if she was going to hear anything about what happened Friday that it should be from me, and not some mouthy older kid on the school bus whose parents didn’t happen to monitor how much of the news they were catching this weekend. I didn’t want her to go to school being afraid, but I wanted her to be prepared for any comments that she might hear from other kids, to know the truth in a way appropriate for her age. So I went up to her room, crawled into her bed and began to explain to her just a small bit about what happened. I knew that she would ask questions, but I was unprepared for the level of questioning I received. What I had expected to be a short conversation lasted nearly an hour, with her asking questions like “If the mean person isn’t around anymore, do you think he is heaven?”, “Can you tell me how many people were hurt?”, “What did the parents do when they found out?”, “Why would someone want to do that?”, “How did he get in?”, mixed in amongst questions asking for details about names, ages, grade level of students and where the teachers were. I answered these as age appropriately as I could on the spot, and a lot of the answers I gave her were also a question like “I don’t know for sure how that part worked out, what do you think might have happened?” The conversation went great and she assured me that she wasn’t afraid to attend school in the morning. I was so glad that I had chosen to talk to her about it.

Then, after we prayed for all of the families that were affected on Friday and for the safety of all the students going to school in the morning, she laid one last question on me…

“Mom, you said that you knew I would be safe tomorrow when I leave in the morning. I know that I will be safe too. But, how do we know? How do we really know that we are safe all the time?”….

I sat back down and told her that in all honesty we can’t know all the time. I explained to her that no one but God knows what is around the corner, but that we can place our trust in Him to always know what is safe for us. She said that she was glad that God “had her back” (6 year olds…) and I told her that I was really glad too….

We want to protect our children all of the time, but the reality is that we just can’t. We can’t always know what is going to happen when they are away from us, we can’t even always know what will happen when they are with us. I am so grateful tonight that I am speaking to my child about what has happened, that I have her here to have this conversation with. I can’t imagine the grief of the parents in that small town in Connecticut tonight who are wishing that they had the same opportunity. To the families of Newtown, Connecticut, I pray that the Lord will be with you through this difficult time, that He will bring grace, comforting and peace to you as you begin to cope with what has happened.

I pray for the safety of all children as the enter in to the new school week tomorrow, and the safety of all school staff members as well.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

        2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

To all you parents of school aged children, how did you or how do you plan on handling this topic with your children?

Happier At Work?

This morning I had the opportunity to volunteer at Gabbi’s school for the first time. It was a lot of fun, face painting with the other moms and getting to know some of the kids in Gabbi’s class this year. I can’t wait until I start volunteering weekly, starting next Tuesday, so I can get a better feel for the school, teacher and how Gabbi is handling it all. She seems to be loving school, which truly makes me happy, but I still feel a little weird with her having this whole part of her life that I feel like I am not that much of a part of yet. More on that to come….

This post is about a comment that another mother made during our conversation that struck me as odd. She said she was newer to staying at home and that she had recently read a study that claimed that “women who go to work are happier, in general, with their lives.” I was shocked. I mean I am sure that some women who LOVE their jobs/careers are happier going to work than staying at home, but ALL MOMS? How can you create a study that generalizes what makes women happy, especially in terms of mothering their children? This really led me to start thinking on this whole stay at home mom vs. working mom argument that never seems to end.

Over the weekend I stumbled upon a blog of another young mom (click here to view her blog) who posted about the guilt that she felt about not bringing money in for her family, something that I think all stay at home moms struggle with feeling guilty about from time to time. The blog itself was great, relatable and seemed to sum up a lot of how I have been feeling, so I was appalled when I scrolled down to the first comment and saw another woman completely bash this poor girl for staying home with her son. In this response she accused women who stayed at home of putting too much pressure on their husbands financially, feeling entitled to not have to work and essentially called them lazy. However, it wasn’t just what she said, but how ANGRY she seemed at someone she didn’t even know for staying at home with her family and the type of struggles that it may or may not be creating for them, that really shocked me. Why was she so upset about how this couple was choosing to raise their children?

The problem I believe, is that we over generalize parenting in a way that makes some of us truly believe that there is a right or a wrong way to raise our kids. The truth is, each family is different and furthermore, every mother is different. When we chose for me to not go to work, we decided this because we thought that this is what is best for OUR children, not everyone else’s. I do not believe that I would be happier at work. Would we have more money? Yes (but not that much after paying for full time daycare for two kids, plus after school care for Gabbi). Would we be able to buy more things? Sure. Would their be less pressure on Matt financially? Probably. However, we decided that our financial standing wasn’t going to be our most important value. Children are only young once, and we wanted to make sure that we were the ones raising them and instilling in them a foundation that we believe in. It makes me more than happy to be home with them, changing every diaper, cooking every meal, playing with them, reading to them and creating a stable home for them. My life revolves around the lives of my children right now, and that is my greatest joy! But this is my choice and I am in no way saying that it is the only choice.

I know moms who work because they love their careers and they feel that they can balance both their careers and their families in a way that suits them and that is great too. They are happy, their kids are happy so it works well for them! Then I know moms who work because they need to provide more financial support for their families, and doing so makes them feel great because they are contributing to their family’s financial stability and that is awesome.

The best advice that I was given about being a mom is that there is no “normal family”. In order to be happy and create the best environment for your unique family, in your unique situation, you need to create your unique normal. Your values, your family make up, your schedule, your finances all factor into that normal. And once you get settled into your normal, you have to quit comparing yourself and your family to others around you.

As moms, we need to be nicer to each other, regardless of the differences in our families. We need to lift up and support those moms who are going to work, and we need to lift up and support those moms who choose to leave the work force to take care of their families full time. If we are sure that each mom in these situations are doing what they believe is best for their families, than we should be offering encouragement instead of comparison.

I have to be confident that I am living the life that the Lord created for me. He created me, my husband and all of my children and He put all of us together for His unique purposes. And He did the same for all of your families, regardless of what they look like from the outside.

 

On a side note…I am totally looking forward to taking the kids out tonight to go trick or treating. It is our first year trick or treating and we are going to let Gabbi get together with some little girls from her soccer team! Check back tomorrow for some pics from our night, plus some information on our views on Halloween!

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I kind of hope some of the people hand out toothpaste, because we all know who will probably end up eating most of that candy Sad smile

You want me to do what!!?

 

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(Where does the term “sleep like a baby”, even come from because mine wakes up all the time lately!!)

My husband and I literally have a conversation about rest and sleep nearly every week. With his work schedule and children that rarely sleep through the night, rest and sleep are a huge issue. It usually starts with one of us complaining that we are tired, a short argument over who got more sleep that week, and then ends with both of us apologizing, and coming up with a plan that never works. The reason that it never works…me.

Why is it that as moms we seem to have this overwhelming amount of guilt when we take the time to rest? If I sit on the couch for twenty minutes in lieu of doing the dishes that afternoon, I feel bad about it the rest of the day. If I say no to an event or a get together because I am too tired, I feel like I should be putting more effort into my friendships and relationships. If I ask someone else to take Gabbi to dance, I feel bad for not taking her myself. If I ask Matt to stay up on his night off so that I can sleep, I feel like I am being unfair because he works so hard. Even worse, I feel like I am missing out on spending time with him, since he is gone so much. I don’t like missing out on my one on one time with Autumn either, if I ask Matt to watch her so that I can nap. Our plan for sleep never works because I refuse to trade in something for someone else in order to get something that I need. 

After talking to some other moms about this recently, I realized, thankfully, that I am not the only one who feels this way. As moms, the least guilt inducing thing to do seems to be to always put ourselves on the back burner. It is easier to put everyone else first, because that is what we do, day in and day out. Our lives are about taking care of the lives of those we love the most. But today I have to stop and ask myself, don’t I love MYSELF just as much as I love the rest of my little family? I think I do, but I definitely don’t treat myself in that way.

And I am not just talking about sleep. I am a person who can function well on very little sleep, as long as I make up for it eventually. I am talking about rest. Relaxing, not thinking about the to do list, not chasing babies, cleaning the house, making food or worrying about some project you signed up for out of excitement (I am the queen of overextending myself), that kind of thing. Even just being alone for 30 minutes…

However, if I can’t even listen to myself about rest, that who can I listen to? There is one person who loves me more than I could ever love myself, and He spoke to me so loudly this morning that I had to listen up. In reading our devotional this morning the Lord explained to me, again, how He created me to NEED rest. Even He rested on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3)! But then He said something else to me that left me dumbfounded. The idea that we can keep going and going without rest is a lie, a trick from the devil and another attempt to keep us too busy to stay close to the Lord and to be confident in the way He created us. Whoa!

I once heard a sermon that talked about how the enemy isn’t going to just come in one day and turn you away from the Lord. It won’t happen in one instant, or one moment, but instead in slow and calculated steps. It’s the steady decline of time with the Lord, time in the word and time in prayer that leads eventually to separation, sin and confusion over what is right or wrong. After almost two weeks of not doing my morning devotional, and after about a week of not reading the word at all because I was too “busy”, this is what the Lord lead me to. He is reminding me that I need rest, because He made me that way, but also because it will bring me back closer to Him. Needing rest in this way should not lead to guilt, but should instead lead to peace and the ability to face everything the Lord places in front of us.

So, moms, stop feeling guilty about resting! I am going to try to stop. The last part of our devotional this morning said this:

“Lie down, close your eyes and whisper “Jesus, help me rest". I’ll cover you with a blanket of Peace and watch over you as you rest in Me.” (Jesus Calling for Kids)

The adult version says it this way, which I thought was powerful as well:

“I built into you the very need for rest. How twisted the world has become when people feel guilty about meeting this basic need!…I have chosen you less for you strengths than for your weaknesses, which amplify your need for me.” (Jesus Calling)

So think about that, and take some time to rest today Smile….

Let’s Talk Politics

vote

This post is not about picking a side….

Everyday when I log on to one of my various social medias, my feed is overwhelmed with posts of people complaining about something one or both candidates said or did, something they saw in an ad campaign, or who we should vote for followed by some very biased explanation as to why.

Following the last two debates, my feed was equally flooded with posts from people complaining that coverage of the debate interfered with their regular programming, and I hate to say it, but I felt the same way at first when it “interrupted” some show that I had been planning on watching. I can say that, in general, politics has never been something that I have been interested in. I have fallen into the category of people who seems to be unimpressed by campaign ads, bored by debates and who isn’t held by any specific loyalty to any party. In the last election, my first, I voted. But, I didn’t give much thought to who I was going to vote for before getting there. I went because I felt tied to some societal duty as an 18 year old citizen of this country. As the ads began playing and the conversation surrounding this election began, I felt much the same as I did last time. Required to pick a side, but not feeling much like it mattered. I mean this is something we do every four years, and I am just one person, does my vote really even count that much?

Then, a few weeks ago, I saw something that stopped me in my tracks. It was a post from a person who has lived in this country, legally, for many, many years but just recently became a citizen. This person looked towards this election with excitement and freedom. They said something along the lines of, “I can’t believe that I finally will have the PRIVILEGE of voting in this election, I can’t believe my opinion finally matters.” This person has never been able to vote for has long as they have lived here, but more than that, they had come from a country where their opinion never mattered. They were not asked who they preferred to lead their country, yet had it forced upon them. They didn’t have the ability to voice their opinion, let alone send out post after post complaining about their leader. The person leading their country may or may not have the interest of its people at heart, and its people would have no civil means of changing who was in control. This person has waited years to have their voice heard in such a simple way, and they are so grateful for this opportunity coming  up.

I think that this is what is most important about our elections, yet it is the one thing that we tend not to focus on. As a country, we get so wrapped in the little things (or big, yellow, feathery things), that we begin to miss the point. We are given the opportunity to vote. We can think for ourselves and decide for ourselves. We focus so much on the things that we don’t like, that we forget to be grateful just for the ability to cast a vote.

So maybe, even if its just for today, be grateful for the government that we have, for the freedom that we have. I know as well as anyone else that our system of government isn’t perfect, but whose is? The only thing that is perfect is the leadership of God. As a Christian, I will choose to pray for whomever is chosen as the winner of the election. I will prayerfully consider who to vote for, and I will be thankful that I get one vote.

The sad truth is that despite having the ability to vote, most of you who talk so negatively about the presidential campaigns will not take the time out of your day to vote on November 6th. I challenge all of you to stop and think about the issues that are most important to you, to carefully consider who you would prefer to be the leader for the next four years, to get out to vote on election day and to be thankful for the opportunity. There are people all around the world who would give anything to be in your position, don’t take it for granted.