Saturday, April 30, 2011

women of faith

my dear husband surprised me with tickets this weekend to the women of faith conference! i had plans to go with a good friend of mine and to meet several other good friends there. as you can imagine, the amount of preparation required just for me to leave for 24 hours is phenomenal. between the lists and the meal preps and the laundry and the sitter arrangements, it literally took three days get ready to go away for one! however, when i looked at the line up, i was so excited to see that one of the speakers was none other than angie smith! if you've never checked out her blog, i encourage you to do so. i'm a big fan of hers and i was soooo excited to hear her speak. now the tickets were obtained by another woman from our church who had two extras. so we had no idea where the seats were until we got there. you can imagine our surprise when we were led to the first row. i am not kidding you. we sat directly behind the speakers! i could've told you if angie or either of the ladies from mary mary had split ends! (they didn't!) it was unreal. we literally spent the first thirty minutes completely in awe. all of the speakers were fantastic and inspiring. after the year i've had, it was so refreshing to hear all that was shared today. sometimes you just need to hear someone else's story to remember that you will make it.
angie did not disappoint. let me explain why i love her so much. it's not because she's a famous blogger. it's not because she is married to a celebrity. it is because in the midst of one of my darkest seasons, i came across her story and it encouraged me that i would make it. that even in the darkest place He is there and still in control. i thought if she could survive the tragedy that she had and still love Jesus with all of her heart, then so could i . if God could bring beauty from the ashes of losing a precious child, then He could bring beauty from mine too. sometimes we just need reminded that this will not kill us. that it will make us stronger. angie was as poised and real and beautiful in person as she is online. i couldn't resist putting a note on her seat during the break :) and now.... pictures!

the very talented and beautiful natalie grant

sheila walsh giving angie a hug after her talk. there was not a dry eye in the house!


lisa harper, angie and natalie conversing...
probably about the loud girl sitting right behind them :)

Monday, April 25, 2011

an easter like that of norman rockwell....

so theMr and i had quite a fight yesterday. normally when we have an argument, we'll stay mad for an hour or so and then something funny will happen and we laugh and we're over it. partly because neither of us are much of grudge-holders and partly because we're both so ADD we can't remember what we were fighting about. anyway, we had this big argument yesterday morning while getting ready for church. i won't go into the details, as i'd hate for everyone on the entire internet to realize how grossly wrong he was, so we'll just say that it was your typical division of labor argument. the kind that i would guess every married couple in the world has. well, except for rich people who have nannies and maids. but i digress... so we managed to be so irritated with one another that by the time we got to church we were both livid. this is always super fun. where you are walking through the parking lot ready to throw down right there until you walk through the doors. then it's all smiles and "hi, how are you!?" and "happy easter!" while you both pretend you that you actually like each other and that you do not want to rip that Easter hat right off his head and .... oh sorry. i got sidetracked again. now it's rare that we manage to stay mad at each all through church but apparently this was some kind of holiday doozy because afterwards we were still mad! we had a (tense) easter egg hunt at my parents and went home. now here's the kicker, sunday is date night. i can honestly say that at that moment, the last thing either of us wanted to do was spend three hours alone together. but if you cancel date night because you are mad at each other i'm pretty sure that's a sign that you are one step away from separate beds! so i decide to try and work things out...

"go ahead, say whatever you need to say so we can get over this and have a date"
(i'm quite the communicator, huh? i should offer seminars)

"i'm just waiting for you to apologize and then it will be fine!"
(he's not so smooth at the working it out)

needless to say, we did manage to work it out. i'm not sure who officially won but i'll guess it was me since i'm smarter and always right.
i'm sure it was him because i'm a good, submissive wife like that.

obviously we're the picture of a healthy married couple. i'm sure you are all super jealous of our picket fence life. hope your Easter was good :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh praise the One who paid my debt

and raised this life up from the dead!

happy Easter from our family to yours!

Friday, April 22, 2011

flashback friday!

Top Ten Ways to Know you are getting Old!

10. you are super excited when your parents get you a AAA membership for christmas, like really excited.

9. you read the back of packages in the store. and you can only do so if you remembered to bring your glasses.

8. if you had your choice, the perfect night out would be getting a sitter and taking a nap.

7. you know all about things like pensions and health insurance and you feel really blessed to have both.

6. your kids ask if they had color tv when you were a kid.

5. you've been married for a third of your life.

4. you'd rather hang out with your mom than most people you know.

3. you have friends on their second or third marriage.

2. 50 suddenly seems awfully young.

1. you make friends online because you are too tired to leave the house. and then you meet up with them in real life!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

just another day in the life...

in the interest of full disclosure... just so you don't get confused and think my kids are perfect...or that i'm the perfect mom... here's a little story for you! as you know, i strive to help you feel better about your own parenting by sharing the pitfalls of're welcome! so, the bedtime routine around here starts at 7:30. i put esme to bed then and send the three middle kids upstairs. they brush teeth and get clothes out for the next day and whatnot. while they are doing this, i take my shower before reading our nightly chapter book. (right now we're reading the narnia books!) anyway, last night i'm in the shower when the princess starts banging on the bathroom door screaming for me. i open it (dripping wet) for her to tell me that zaza fell out the window. yes, you read that right. he fell out of the second story window. i am not kidding you. i come running out of the bathroom soaking wet and wrapped in a tiny towel to find him coming upstairs. he got up, went to the front door and rang the doorbell. isn't that what you would do if you fell out of the window? i am, of course, frantically checking his body for injuries but he seems to be ok. upon further questioning they tell me that they dismantled the window (as in actually managed to remove the whole window from the frame) and then while leaning out of it the little guy pushed zaza. seriously? are you kidding me? you can't make stuff like this up! in the ten minutes i was in the shower they manage to do all of this? why?! are they out to get me? is this payback for making them do chores? do they want me to go to jail? (don't answer that) so we monitored him last night and although he seems to be fine, theMr is taking him to the doctor this morning just to be sure. i've asked them to run a few tests on his brain function and reasoning skills while he's there. obviously there's a glitch somewhere!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

what are we teaching these kids??

there are as many types of parenting as there are types of kids. of course, we all think our way is the right way. there is really no one right way to raise children. however, there are a few inevitable consequences of certain parenting choices.... here are a few!

~giving your child gifts constantly for no reason produces children who think they should wait for nothing. if they want it, they should have it! many parents go wrong on this one thinking that if they just make the kid wait a few days before giving in then it's still teaching them something. it is. it's teaching them that they can have everything they want. and never have to work for or earn it. and guess what? your little darling will think the world owes them the same.

~always taking your child's side, no matter what. newsflash! sometimes our kids are wrong! i know, it's hard to swallow. our innate nature drives us to preserve them from pain at any opportunity. to always take their side. however, while our kids need us to advocate us for them they also need us to teach them how to handle being wrong. that requires us as parents to be open to our children being imperfect. sounds easier than it is sometimes :)

~ being their best friends. there are lots of parents that think this one is ok and there are lots of parents who don't but still do it! part of parenting is being the bad guy. but if being the bad guy for a few years means raising a healthy, productive adult then so be it. we have their whole adulthood to be their friend. we only get one chance to raise them.

~ allowing your children to run the show. whether that is major battles at bedtime, not being able to have a phone conversation or never going out to dinner because your kids misbehave in restaurants. so many parents forget who is in charge. you are. or at least you should be. you decide what bedtime is. (that doesn't mean they have to sleep but it does mean they have to stay quietly in their rooms!) you decide when they are allowed to speak and when they need to be quiet. you decide what they eat and when they eat it. i have heard many, many times parents say that (fill in the blank) discipline method just doesn't work with their child. well, find something that does! i can bet a 5 year old who continues to disrespect you despite the punishment will get the hint really quickly after a few nights of going to bed straight from dinner to an empty room. does that seem harsh? or is it better to raise a kid who thinks yelling back at his parents is an acceptable response to anger?

~ media, media and more media. ask yourself honestly how many hours a day your children spend in front of a tv, computer or video games. i'm not against tv. i love tv. it's the only way i can clean the bathroom! but it's also easy to substitute tv watching for parenting. and i can tell you from experience that the concepts they may be picking up on those media sources are not necessarily as innocent as you may think. just wait until your 8 year old thinks she's fat.

~ putting your kids before your marriage. if anyone knows how hard it is to juggle parenting young children and marriage it's me. but someday those kids are going to be gone and you want to still like this person you married when that happens. i know i harp on this one a lot but it's that important. we have a weekly date night. i know that is not feasible for everyone. but if it's a priority then you will make it happen. in our house, putting our marriage first means no kids in the master bed, early bedtimes, no interrupting mommy/daddy time (from 8:30 on!), no interrupting any time mom and dad are having a conversation, etc. the best place for your children to see what a healthy marriage looks like is at home. that means keeping kids in their place. trust me, some day they'll thank you for it.

~ over committed, over involved kids. kids don't need to be in sports and music and youth group and girl scouts all at once. they need time to be kids every day. they go to school all day long. they come home and do homework. if you fill all of their "extra" time with activities they never get time to just be. and it's not good for families either. are you sitting together around a dinner table most nights of the week? or are you eating fast food in your minivan four nights out of seven while driving to various activities? let's be honest, the odds of your kid being a pro athlete are slim. the odds of them hitting their teens disconnected from their families and over stressed are a lot higher if family is not a priority. i'm not anti-sports. i'm anti-over doing it. our policy is on activity per kid per year. yep, that's it. and they're pretty well rounded! amazing :)
this concept also applies to entertaining younger children. don't let the mommy guilt make you think you need to have activities, crafts and entertainment planned for your three year old all day long. it's good for kids to learn to entertain themselves. they'll find something to do. i promise!

~ buying into the american dream. this is a loaded topic, for sure. what do i mean by the american dream? i mean bigger house, bigger car, better clothes, more vacations, etc. i mean having to work harder and longer to acquire things that at the end of the day mean nothing. we all want to live in a nice house. we all want to drive a nice car. but the question is: what are we willing to sacrifice to get it? in 20 years, are you going look back and think "well, i missed my kids childhood but we sure did live in a nice house!" obviously, we all have to work. and in this economy, we all have to work harder just to meet the basic necessities. but when it's all said and done, if you died tomorrow, will you have wished that you spent more time making money? if your spouse died tomorrow, will you regret that you didn't get that expensive car? or will you have missed out on the every day blessing of loving each other? of spending time together? of getting by on less to gain more of each other?

~and lastly, second guessing all of our parenting choices against what experts/friends/family/bloggers/media say we should be doing. because at the end of the day, how we raise our kids is a personal choice. and there will always be someone telling us we're doing it wrong. but we have to be able to look ourselves in the mirror and our kids in the eye one day and say "i did the best i knew how to do and i loved you the most i knew how to love". when it's all said and done, that's all that matters.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

quality time

one of the hardest things about raising a big family is making sure each child gets the one on one attention they need. there are only two of us and five of them! it's probably the biggest issue i worry about daily. inevitably, at the end of each day i can name who probably didn't get as much of me as they needed. this issue is compounded by having a husband that works a lot. one mom can only do so many things in a day!

on the nights where i'm really beating myself up about it, i try to remind myself that i was one of five and don't remember feeling unloved or lacking attention. of course, i was the only girl and a drama queen so who knows :) anyway, we are constantly trying to find creative ways to "sneak in" individual time with each child. for example, they get a dinner out alone with us for their birthdays. no siblings allowed. they love this. they pick the restaurant and have both of our undivided attention. my parents actually do the same for their birthdays and they always remark how different each child is when away from their siblings.

let's be honest, it's constant fighting for airtime over here! and as with most houses, the squeakier wheels get the most attention. and quite frankly, we have two that are really squeaky! i have to be vigilant in remembering the lower maintenance children need me just as much as the one prone to burning the house down.

i try to let one child come with me to run errands or one will get to go with theMr to the "tool store" (Lowe's) to get supplies for a job.

of course this practice has it's downside... like this past weekend when i took the two older girls to the mall for one item to be purchased and ended up shopping at three different stores. tonight the boys need haircuts for their pics this weekend so i'll probably stop and get them a snack on the way home just to make it a little more enjoyable. and i always need some kind of incentive for the little guy to sit for his haircut and not scream like a crazy person. he hates getting his hair cut. it's really fun for all involved! sometimes you just have to wing it and hope they turn out ok. unfortunately the manual is missing. it's probably somewhere under the pile of laundry.

*gratuitous pictures of my kids added for no reason pertinent to this blog post, only because they are so cute!

Monday, April 18, 2011

top ten things NOT to do in church

i'm gonna give it to you straight. i'm gonna tell you the things no one else will tell you. because it's become apparent to me that church etiquette is not a given... pay attention and act accordingly!

10. you can chew gum. you can eat candy. just open it during worship and not during the sermon. and the slower you go, the longer you prolong the distraction. just hurry up and do it. thanks.

9. you may think your toddler running around during the sermon is adorable but not all agree. my kids are in class or the nursery. how about i help you drop yours off there too?

8. this one is directly to my darling husband: it is disrespectful to the pastor to be texting other people in the same service during the sermon. stop it.

7. i've had many a nursing baby in services with me, i understand sometimes they are noisy or burping or whatever. no big deal. but do you really need to change that dirty diaper in the middle of the service? i didn't think so.

6. replying to the pastor's rhetorical questions as if the two of you are having a one on one conversation. calling out an "amen" is fine. anything else is weird.

5. don't "save" an entire row for three people. it's church. you'll have to get over your aversion to sitting next to others.

4. if you and your four kids are going to be 20 mins late, then you need to sit in the back. enough said.

3. while i attend a church that is super laid back about what you wear, there are still a few no no's... they include: muscle shirts, shorts that show your lady business, looking like you work at hooters, pants that allow your entire butt to hang out (i don't care that you are 16, put your behind away in God's house) and pajamas. *i will openly admit that i once had to run something to someone at church during a service i don't normally attend and did so in my PJ pants. i totally forgot that they were having a service. don't worry, no one who saw me will ever let me forget it!

2. if you wear a big hat, sit in the back!

1. when i drop off my (somewhat overly attached) one year old to the nursery, do not sigh in exasperation and say "guess i know who i'll have to be holding all morning" in a sarcastic tone. and when i pick her up, don't tell me you had to hold her the whole time and practically throw her into my arms. that makes mama angry. and she will not hesitate to knock your a$$ out in church. try me.

who wouldn't want to hold her?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

those three little words...

i've heard it said that the three little words every woman wants to hear are "i love you". i beg to differ. i think they are more often "i am sorry". you're probably laughing but you know i'm right! those are closely followed by the coveted "you were right"! as much as we want to hear them they are also hard to say. especially that last one. marriage is hard. i was a part of a discussion recently about this very topic, whether or not marriage should be hard. as i listened silently (and kept my opinions on the matter to myself, for a change) there were several women commenting that marriage shouldn't be hard and theirs isn't. what i was thinking (but didn't say) was that they just haven't been married long enough to hit a rough patch. at some point, your marriage will be work. it's just a matter of when. as we've navigated the hardest season yet in our marriage, i've hesitated time and time again whether or not to share openly about it. it is so hard to know what the line is between transparent and oversharing. that boundary is thin and gray. to top it off, people want to hear a success story, after it's finished. they don't really want to hear the messy, in-process stuff that may or may not work out as planned. they want to hear the fairy tale ending. i admit i've fallen into that mindset. i'll tell this story once it's completed and all is well again. however, what if someone else hearing it now, in the midst of the struggle, and it encourages them that they are not alone in their own struggle? what if our vulnerability and weakness strengthens another? all of this rambling to say: we've been on a hard road. we are working on it and it is getting better but it is still really hard. we have been on what feels like an uphill battle for several years. we are fighting to save our marriage in the midst of trying to raise five kids and have jobs and all the other every day things that don't take a vacation just because you're having problems. we spent a period of time in the last year separated. while we have (thankfully) mostly overcome the big issues that led to that, all the little details are still being ironed out. the biggest of which (in my mind at least) is finding a way to regain the intimacy we've lost. we have been best friends since our very first date. that sounds cheesy but it's true. we have always, no matter what, wanted each other's company more than anyone else's. while those things are still true, we are dealing with the after effects of having lost that deeper connection for a time. we spent many days and nights drowning under the weight of things left unsaid. now that they are being said, we have to learn how to keep being best friends. sometimes i sit on the couch and i feel like we are miles apart. i would guess he feels the same way at times. i say all of this to be honest but also to share what steps we are taking to get better. hoping that maybe someone else who is in the same battle will gain encouragement and hope from it. our story is not over, but the happy ending is in sight. here's how we're trying to make that happen.

~we've instituted a weekly date night. this is a huge sacrifice for us, both time wise and financially (do you know how much a babysitter costs for this many kids??). but we are being intentional to spend at least two hours, every week, alone and out of our house. it's refreshing. after 13 years together i don't know what took us so long.

~we are both getting wise council in many different areas. friends who are trusted, spiritual counsel, etc. there is nothing more valuable than people in your life who will lovingly tell you what you need to hear even if you don't want to hear it. we are blessed to have many people who care deeply for us.

~we are learning to love one another unconditionally and to let go of our expectations. a big part of that is letting go of the past. we have failed one another in so many ways. but at the end of the day, we are each other's biggest fan :)

~we decided on the day we married that divorce was never an option for us and we've stuck to it. even when we were separated we went in to it knowing it was temporary and with a concrete plan in place as to what we were using that time for. we're in this for the long haul.

~lastly, i have to get over myself. i really do. a wise person once told me "you can be right or you can be happy. your choice" (thanks mom :)

this is by no means comprehensive, meant to "counsel" anyone else's marriage, or a claim of knowing anything at all. it's just a glimpse of our journey, a public declaration of our belief that we will be ok and a desire to be real, even when it's messy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

for everything a season...

the Bible says there is a season for everything.
i find that to be true in so many ways.
for example, the season to refinish your 110 year old wood floors is not when you have to find a place to hang out with five kids for a weekend.
the season to stay at your parents' (really nice) house is not that which you have a child who likes to "paint" things with food.

the season to spend a lazy sunday afternoon at home is not when the floors are still not dry, therefore you are all confined to the backyard.

However, it was all worth it!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

can you email that to me?

do you ever read the emails you receive and think "how am i friends with this person in real life??" you know what i'm talking about! the friend from work who's totally sane and normal in person but she sends you every fake "warning" email ever created. she's apparently never even heard of snopes. she thinks a serial killer is really going to leave a recording of a crying baby outside her door to lure her out of her house. just like we all thought in 1996 when we got our first email account. or the aunt who sends you all of those "forward-this-to-29-people-if-you-love-Jesus-or -bad-luck-will-follow-you-for-132-years". the kind with the sparkly animated angel at the end. that tells about a nun that survived a tornado and a fire at the same time because she was carrying a Bible from when she was 2. and, of course, she always forwarded these deeply spiritual emails! and don't forget the friend, again totally normal in every day life, but give her an email account and it's all about Bill Gates giving me a million dollars if i forward an email that he's tracking! and i can also get a free applebees gift card too! it's amazing how many fabulous, free things i can get simply by forwarding emails! it really happened to someone they know! this is not a hoax! they read it on snopes (but you don't need to look it up, they already did it for you!) . now i expect these kind of rookie mistakes from my dad. he just discovered email last year so he's still learning (hey dad- there's this neat function that allows you to erase the "history" of the 56 people who sent this email first before it got to me! learn to use it!) but for the rest of you, who have now been on the internet for at least fifteen years, there are no excuses. other than the fact that you secretly don't like me and this is your revenge. if that's the case, well played sir. well played.

and don't even get me started on facebook statuses... i refuse to prove i love Jesus or the troops or want to end autism by copy and pasting your status. stop pressuring me.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

top ten things i should own stock in....

10. playdoh. as much as it ends up smushed into my carpet and wood floors, i could be making a profit buying more!!

9. poison control. i know, i know, they aren't a corporation! but if they were, and they earned money from each call made, i'd be making them rich.

8. pacifiers. where do they go?? we either have 8 of them on hand or only one that we are guarding like the crown jewel. i cannot even fathom how many i've purchased over the years.

7. tylenol. now, at the risk of making us sound like really bad parents, i have to be honest with you. just about any malady expressed in this house results in a prayer to Jesus and a dose of tylenol. do the two contradict one another? maybe. but i'm too tired to even go into that one. let's just say that my kids probably think that little formula cures anything from a tummy ache to leprosy.

6. toilet paper. good Lord... i know we have a lot of bottoms around here... but we cannot possibly need as much toilet paper as we use. it's ridiculous. it really is.

5. bandaids. if tylenol can't fix it, bandaids can. what's that dear? you cut off your thumb? well no worries, mommy has buzz lightyear bandaids!

4. nutrigrain bars. these littler kids are addicted to nutrigrain bars. but only the green ones (apple). not the purple. the purple enrages them.

3. laundry detergent. i would say that one is self explanatory.

2. baby wipes. we seriously use these things for everything. diaper changes, face and hand cleaning, stain removal, anything sticky. we use a lot of wipes.

1. well, this one would be a tie between pregnancy prevention items and pregnancy tests. obviously we've not used enough of one and too much of the other. you do the math.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

a REAL day in the life... in pictures

do you wanna know what a real day in my life looks like? no? well, i'm gonna tell you anyway! more directly, i'm gonna show you.

this is how i start my day. with a rested, enthusiastic one year old ready to have her morning waffle and juice. cause we're health food conscious like that.

this is my lifeblood. the very essence of my survival. and it tastes different if not in my super fantastic vampire mug. everything is just a little better when vamped :)

this is the most generic cell phone one can own. it doesn't even take video. can you believe someone as social media-ized as myself doesn't have a smart phone?? this phone isn't even a "meets adequate grade level" phone. i have to update my status by text message. it's like i'm stuck in 1999. but you'll never see me without it.

gotta dress a baby...

and kiss a baby...

i wipe a lot of noses. snotty ones. this guy in particular has allergies which pretty much give him a permanent runny nose. did you catch that? it's permanent. it never goes away.

lunch is never a big production. more of a "what-foods-can-i-throw-on-plate-and-still-feel-like-a-good-mother" kind of thing. as you can see.

every errand, appointment or activity requires two carseats, two boosters and one seatbelt. is it any wonder it takes me ten minutes to pull away from the house?

this is my beloved. my laptop. self explanatory :) it resides in my favorite chair right next to a big window.

my other must have? crockpot. because i am just too tired by 5 o'clock to put together a decent dinner. it's my saving grace.

bath time!

the reason i do all of this? because they are totally worth it.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

where i talk about a little bit of everything...

happy saturday morning! while i should be making my grocery list, i'm sitting in my favorite chair letting my mind wander while my kids terrorize the house. theMr is working (again) and it's just us. you know you are desperate when you are hiring a sitter to go to the store alone. i just can't handle doing the "big" shopping trip with them all... no thanks!

i started running this week. i know for a normal person this is probably not earth shattering news...however, i am no normal person! i've never run, i have asthma and i need to lose a lot of baby weight. so i'm trying the couch to 5K plan. how's it going, you ask? i want to die. i want to curl up on the ground and self destruct. it's going that well! my body is in full on rejection mode. my asthma is a mess and my shins feel like they are breaking in half. so all in all, it's going well!

i perused a few new blogs this week. i don't normally do that (i hardly have time to read my "regulars"). i found myself comparing mine to theirs. never a good idea. someone will always be more spiritual or have a better house or perfect looking children or be really skinny while pregnant. they will not be typing their post while a one year old puts syrupy hands in their hair or wondering why their dryer never turns off on it's own. they will not be pretending they do not hear their older children fighting like MMA. (well, maybe that one). but then they wouldn't be me. so that's ok. i just have to keep assuming that those few who read here aren't looking for those things! haha!

on a totally unrelated side note, do you know what totally kills a late night romantic moment? your baby throwing up large amounts of corn, in her crib, in your bedroom. nothing like a midnight load of laundry and emergency bath to spice things up!

happy weekend :)