Monday, November 17

Sleepless Nights and Thankfulness (But Not Always At the Same Time!)


I have written six blog posts in the last several weeks and have not posted one of them.

That's right...I've sat, and thought and spent upwards of six plus hours writing a combined total of more than 5,000 words and have not posted a single one of them on my blog. 

I just perused them all in my blog post manager tool in hopes that one of them might be fodder for  nice snowy November day like today.

Not so much.

Every time I read through one of them I think...Ugh...too dreary, too boring, too blah, blah, blah...

Maybe this is what they call writers block. Or maybe I'm not wanting to be completely transparent about all of the things that are making parenting life feel a little bit crazy right now.

The lack of sleep hasn't helped.

Did I mention I'm tired?

We've had coughs, and teething and bad dreams and runny noses. When one things seems to resolve itself the entire rotation starts all over agin. All night. For weeks on end.

I once heard a friend of a friend say that after they had their third child sleeping at night started to feel like a game of Whack A Mole (that silly arcade game where you use a mallet to keep bopping the mole heads back down into their little circle!).  I know it's a bit of an aggressive comparison, but hey...if the shoe fits...and oh it does...use the comparison!

It does feel a  little bit like a Whack A Mole game, if I'm honest. You hear one child cry, get up, settle them down (or give them cough medicine or assure them there will be no more bad dreams or that there are no monsters in the house) and just about the time you settle back into your bed and begin to doze off...POP! Someone else starts to cry.

You spend 15 minutes settling that little one down, tuck yourself back into bed under the heavy warmth of your down comforter with your even heavier eyelids closing quickly and then...POP!

You get the picture.

 I wish I were joking about how our nighttimes are going lately, but I'm not. At all.

Therefore, when I sit down to write a blog post these days this is what comes out...I'm tired. I'm tired. I'm tired. What are we having for dinner tonight? Shoot, that permission slip needs to be sent in and book orders are due tomorrow. I'm tired. I'm tired. No one has socks in their drawers. I guess that's better than no underwear. I'm tired.

I wish I were exaggerating...even a wee little bit.

So anyways, instead of lamenting the fact that I have writers blocks and am tired and that it's all building up into large amounts of  un-inspiration in regards to my blogging efforts I figured I'd at last share the titles of those six un posted, half drafted, tired sounding blog posts. After reading the titles myself I realized they will give you a enough insight into life lately without bogging you down with all of the daily details...

So, without further adieu...here are my unposted posts summarized by their titles:
1. It's Been Another Crazy Week in the Littlewood Household 
2. Wanting to Get It Right- The Mommy Thing 
3. Motherhood: The School of Hard Knocks 
4. Helping Your Hope to Fly 
5. Survival Mode Isn't for the Faint of Heart 
6. Working on my Long-Term view 
There you have it. My life in a nutshell of titles.


In other news...the more upbeat kind...I do love thanksgiving and the added opportunity to talk to the girls about being thankful and grateful for the many things that we have. We created our annual "Thanksgiving Tree" on Saturday. I almost purchased a pre-made one from Pottery Barn with some coupons I had, but then realized I love the community effort of making our own.

Plus, as we write our notes of thanks onto leaves and post them on the tree you wind up seeing all of the notes and are able to re-read them throughout the month- unlike some of the pre-made trees I've seen where you stick them inside a pocket and then don't have the benefit of seeing your collective wall of thanks.

Here is a photo of our handmade tree hanging next to the kitchen table on the sliding glass door...


And the girls first "thankfulness" leaves...



Yes, my sweet little Ava wrote down that she was thankful that Jesus had died on the cross...Yes, my dear, me too. And so thankful that that is one of the first things she would think to write down (; 


Blessings to you all from one tired, but thankful momma.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Here's to hoping my blogging inspiration returns with some much needed sleep in the weeks to come (;







Saturday, October 25

The Best Laid Plans of Moms with Kids



Friday night the girls were invited to a two hour birthday party at a local bounce house facility.

This meant two things:

1) They would have an opportunity to run, jump, eat cake and pizza, and then shake their sillies out  before settling down for the evening after a long week at school.

2) I would have an opportunity to run some desperately overdue errands, helping me to shake some of the momma sillies out of my head, which is what happens when too many overdue errands start to pile up in my mind (and in the back of my car!).

The party was for the daughter of a family who we know from church and really love and the mom had sent me a text saying, 'Feel free to stay or head out for a bit'.

A note like that is like a free hall pass that sends all sorts of images of sugarplums and freedom dancing through my head. What book could I read? What errands could be done? Where's my journal, the one with the dusty cover? Shall I sit quietly and write some scattered thoughts?

Oh, the opportunities were endless!

While I temporarily labored over whether to stay or leave, (because that's what we moms do-- spend all of our time on the lookout for a moment to take a deep breath or get a few things done and then when the moment presents itself we feel guilty about it) Ava asked if I was staying (Bah!).

I struck a deal with her since, by this time, I had concocted a plan to run some errands.

Hey babe- how about I'll go in with you girls, make sure you're settled and have someone to play with, stay about half an hour and then run out to the store for an hour.  I'll be back for the end of the party. 

For emphasis I added that I needed to run to Wal-Mart for Halloween candy and to look for the white hairspray she was hoping we could find before Friday so that she can spray her hair to match her Elsa costume.

A deal was struck.

Ok Mom. But only because you're going to get candy and hairspray. 

After school we had some snacks, signed the birthday card, wrapped the present, made sure we had our socks on (no bare feet!) and ponytails in (it gets hot in those places!).

Mom had the bag with Dad's too small shirt and my too small sweater to return to Marshalls, the chipped desk organizer to return to TJ Maxx, my coupon for JC Pennies where I needed to pick up a couple of fleece blankets (long story), and the list of things that I needed from Wal-Mart, which mostly consisted of candy and hairspray.

I also threw a book in my purse (because an hour feels like an exponential amount of time in mommy world and I envisioned myself getting all of that done, eating a quick and quiet dinner AND having time to read a page or two in my book!) and we were out the door, feeling completely prepared and ready to go.

I felt completely organized, on top of things and excited about the plan.

We arrived at the party, the girls settled in and connected with some friends and started to bounce away until they could have cared less if I was there or not. I said my goodbyes, checked in with the other mom to make sure it was still ok that I snuck out, and pranced along on my merry way ready to execute my plan.

Oh, the plan.

 I should SO know better by now.

As I drove out of the parking lot a very clear thought presented itself to me, "Your wallet is in the diaper bag that you took to the playdate with Aubrey earlier today. The diaper bag is hanging on a kitchen chair. At home."

Ugh.

I stopped on the side of the road and started fishing through my purse hoping I had been smarter than that.

Nope. Hadn't been smarter than that.

I had all of my returns, receipts, coupons and shopping lists but no wallet.

I sent my husband a text...

                  I left my wallet at home. 

He responded....

                  I feel so sad for you right now. Do you need a hug?

                  Yes. ): 

I did manage to find a very crumpled five dollar bill at the bottom of the purse that I did have. That and my library card and an old used Starbucks card. Neither of which was very helpful at the moment.

I drove to Arby's (the closest fast food restaurant) hoping to find something on their menu for $5 or less since I hadn't eaten dinner and purchased one of the most disgusting salads I had had in a l-o-n-g time.

I took the salad, drove to a parking lot across the street from the bounce house place, and figured since I had the time and had at least packed a book in my purse that I'd eat and read for 20 minutes and then go back into the party.

I turned off the car, but left the keys in the ignition and read a few pages of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess by Jen Hatmaker (a very interesting and convicting read, I might add), while finishing my gross Arby's salad.

I must have turned the car to the almost off position, and my husband forgot to tell me that the battery in the car was almost dead. So, when I went to turn the keys to start the car to head back to the party...

I.Got.Nothing.

I laughed out loud. The entire last hour had been so comical that there was nothing left to do but laugh.

I called Scott who was going to strap the baby into one of the girls big car seats and come to my rescue, but fortunately one of the dads at the party had jumper cables and I learned how to jump our truck (Score! I might need the information at some point in the future, right!).

I finally ran back into the party telling the girls that the car was outside and still running and that we better go before (with my luck) someone got in and drove it away!

My sweet friend Sarah (who was throwing the party) told me that maybe I should stop blogging because it is as if all of this ridiculousness keeps presenting itself on purpose as material for my blog posts.

I swear sometimes I wonder if she's right.

But, I probably won't stop blogging because what fun would that be? Foiled plans keep me on my toes and keep reminding me that motherhood is about adjusting, and readjusting and readjusting again.

We continually recalibrate our lives to love more, serve more and stretch ourselves in places we didn't even know we needed stretching...

It's as if God keeps dropping life lessons my way...

Need more patience? How about some lost library books, extra whining,  a burnt dinner and kids who have no desire to go to bed?

More stamina? A very busy day followed by a night with a teething toddler.

More grace? Spilled milk, crushed crackers and an gymnastics leotard that always seems to be MIA 15 minutes before we leave the house.

More flexibility? A night with plans to run errands foiled by a forgotten wallet and a dead car battery.

At the end of the day I realize these are such small problems given the scary state of affairs all over the world.   We are blessed beyond measure and have much to be grateful for.  I also know that  God is growing me into someone stronger, better and more able to cope with a greater capacity to live the life He intends me to live.  One day and one lesson at a time. 

So, in the meantime I will quote Robert Burns, "The best laid plans of mice and men aft (often) go awry" only I think it needs a slight alteration to suit this season of life...

The best laid plans of moms with kids always go awry!

That's the motto I'm learning to live by (: 







Wednesday, October 15

Having Fun With Fall

Tis the season for pumpkins, apples, cinnamon and cider, all of which have entered our house in unabashed surplus. We go through almost a gallon of cider a week (my husband is one of the biggest culprits), sprinkle extra cinnamon on our french toast and into our pancakes, and pumpkins big and small seem to be making an appearance all over the house.

     While the girls know Halloween is not one of my favorite days of the year, I can’t fault them for the growing anticipation over trick or treating. Their cousins come over, we order pizza and eat chili and usually layer jackets over carefully chosen costumes because the evening is often cold, windy or rainy in our neck of the woods.

  Autumn is a favorite season for most of us up here in the Northeast and I am no exception.
    
 A-u-t-u-m-n was one of Ava’s bonus spelling words last week. She nailed it, making momma proud.

We’ve been decorating and nature walking and making simple fall crafts (i.e. painting pictures of pumpkins, accessorizing orange and yellow foam leaves and painting paper plates to look like happy pumpkin faces).

There are a LOT of pumpkins, scarecrows, leaves and a few silly spiders around the house.  These are all on the list of “mommy acceptable fall/Halloween decorations and fit my rules, “If its happy it can be in our home—if it’s dreary or scary…forget about it!”

The weather has been cooperating thus far, and so we are still running around in flip-flops and sandals on some days, and haven’t had to dig the hats out of the basement yet (though I should probably get on that sooner rather than later).

Just yesterday the girls and I recreated one of their favorite fall crafts, leaf lanterns, as we’ll call them. I did this with them two years ago and Ava enjoyed it so much that she’s been asking to do it again. I’ll include the simple instructions below so that you can make your own at home. They are perfect tabletop decorations for this time of year. I even lit ours and set them on the counter before the girls came down for breakfast this morning and enjoyed watching their faces light up when they saw they handiwork at use (it’s always a bonus when the morning starts with a moment of unexpected joy, rather than the groggy tired nitpicking that can often pervade before breakfast).

So, without further adieu, a few of our fall photos from the last couple of weeks an easy craft idea for you to do with your kids. 


Apple picking shenanigans...



Our paper plate pumpkins...

An example of our foam leaf art... 




Easy Instructions for Leaf Lanterns

1. Save a couple of old glass jars (these were from roasted red peppers and salsa). Any clear glass jar you have around the house will do. 


2. Collect leaves from your backyard, or while you're out on a nature walk.

3. Flatten the leaves between papers (I then put the paper under a book) for a couple of hours, or over night if you have the time. It helps make the leaves easier to work with. 

4. We started with glue sticks (last time we used modge podge for the entire craft and it was incredibly messy!). We put glue on the back of the leaves and gently placed them on the glass jar, flattening them out as much as possible and moving them into position. 

5. Once you have them attached via glue from the glue stick then bring in the modge podge. Simply us an old paint brush and brush the modge podge right over the leaves. It can be goopy and thick (it will dry clear!)-- smooth it out with your finger if necessary.

6. Pop two votive candles into the jars after they dry and you have a beautiful centerpiece created by your kiddos. 








This has ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with fall, but it was so hilarious I had to include it. Aubrey is a bit of a funny girl these days, experimenting with whatever is on hand. You'll notice she's stripped down to her diaper as she sits in her high chair- there is a very good reason for that!









Friday, October 10

My Love/Hate Relationship with Being a Woman



The Woes and Wows of Womanhood

“Ugh! I hate being a woman!” I declared boldly as I flung yet another ill-fitting shirt into the heap of clothing piled at the end of my bed.

            My husband sat by watching as I continued fingering through the hangers in my closet. I was meeting two girlfriends at a local restaurant in less than half an hour and had nothing to wear.

            “You know,” I continued on my rant, “men have it so much easier. Your hair is short, you never have to shave your legs and, if you had them, your clothes from high school would still fit!”

            Scott, my husband, nodded in agreement and laughed out loud, “I don’t know if it’s easier to be a man,” he quickly retorted. “We have to support our wives and that’s a hard job.”

            I cracked a smile in response to his aptly truthful statement. He always found a way to make me laugh.

            In all honestly there are many days when I believe it would be easier to be male than female. When it would be easier to not shave my legs, or paint my nails, or (gasp!) color my persistently graying hairs. Definitely days when I think it would be easier to not face the hormonal fluctuations that can wreak havoc on our moods.

            Then there is the issue of the closet. Mine is currently a testament to my persistently changing body over the last seven years while I have been pregnant, nursing and chasing after three children. Clothing ranging in sizes from 2 to 10 hang haphazardly and always ignite frustration when a date with my husband or an outing with friends requires more than jeans, t-shirts or sweats. Not only does it seem like nothing fits, but who has time to actually get to the mall to buy something that does?

            Quite frankly, all of this female powdering and prepping can often seem like a nuisance. One, that as the mother of three children, I do not have time for.
            And yet.

            God made me a woman and sometimes I have to remember to be thankful for that.

            “Babe, you’re beautiful,” Scott added gently and compassionately. “You always look great.”

            When I am not angry with my clothing and graying roots I will concede to try to believe him for a moment and then thank God for the gift of my husband’s kind words. Words that remind me that God created us purposefully different and then intentionally brought us together.

            Words that remind me that there is a beauty inherent in being a woman that I must work to appreciate and that I should find ways to be thankful for, regardless of how mysterious it feels even to me.

            I guess, if I’m honest, there are some things I rather enjoy about being a woman. I do like painting my toenails bubble gum pink in the summer and now my girls ask me to paint theirs as well. I’m a sucker for a cute pair of earrings, especially when needed to add interest to my boring jeans and solid color tees. I do actually enjoy shaving my legs, when I have the time and, if I must confess, visits to the salon do offer a chance to sit quietly and read a magazine. What momma doesn’t enjoy that?

            While many of these things seem superficial, they are a part of being the feminine me—the me that is also softer emotionally, more intuitive about some things and that allows a perspective on life that is very different and yet complementary to that of my husbands—a very good thing for our children indeed.

            I’m learning to embrace all of me, just the way God created me. Not only for myself, but because a healthy perspective on my part is necessary as I try to shape healthy perspectives in the minds of the three little women God has entrusted to my care. Being a woman and raising women adds a lot of extra color to my life, literally and figuratively, but I’m realizing that color, after all, is a very good thing.