Thursday, April 16

Gray Hairs, Sleepless Nights, and Thoughts on Moving Past the Baby Stage

"Hi, my name is Lisa and I gave away my Boppy this week...

If I were an active participant in a live support group for mothers, this is how I would have introduced myself.

"...the pink one with the little purple and white flowers. The one I used to support all three children while I nursed them as infants...just days old. It feels like just yesterday."

"And my changing pad. And a stroller. The first stroller I ever owned. The one my husband painstakingly put together, with the manual by his side, in our first house in Whitinsville, Massachusetts,  months before our daughter was born. The green one with the paisley pattern that matched the pack-n-play that his mom bought for us. It also matched her car seat. The one we brought her home from the hospital in. We spent far too much money on it all. I gave it all away and I want it back. Is that ridiculous?"

Pause. Insert empathetic nods from knowing mommas.

"And clothes. Lots of clothes. I kept some, probably too many, but I've given a ton away. And her high chair. The high chair all three of our children ate all of their first solid food in. The one they whipped potatoes on the floor from. The one I have pictures of them eating their....(insert tears...sniffle...sniffle...wail)...first bite of birthday cake from!!!!"

"I really want to drive back to the crises pregnancy center and re-load it all in my truck. Do you think they would let me have it all back?"

Sympathetic eyes would connect with mine and nod empathetically in reaction to my distress.  

"I'm serious. Do you think they would give it back? I mean, maybe we could build a little baby shrine in our a hall of history to show the girls all of the stuff that formed and shaped the busy days of their first years?"

Oh mommas...

Letting go is hard to do. Isn't it?

Letting go of the baby stuff is hard because it means letting go of the baby days...and years. The ones that have ticked past us at the speed of light. The ones that painstakingly remind us that the child we bought that stroller for is almost as tall as her mother.  The ones that felt so very long, and somehow, like everyone said, wound up being so very short.

The ones we can scarcely believe may be coming to a very real end... yielding their way, of course, to a whole new chapter of homework, friendships, vacations and memories, but wait...wait...I'm not ready yet.

Fortunately, just about the time I find myself reminiscing enough to get me into trouble, we seem to have a night like we had earlier this week.

A night in which our youngest (who will be 2 in less than one month) kept us up for more than three hours wailing and crying simply because she didn't want to sleep. When I finally got her settled down at 5 a.m., the middle and oldest girls woke up telling me that they had had very bad dreams and wanted me to hang out in their room for a while.  Of course I was a little sad for everyone, but I was also too darned tired to be the nurturing type and told everyone they needed to go back to sleep because their father and I were really, really, REALLY tired and desperately NEEDED some stinkin' sleep (Sorry girls, the sympathy for the bad dreams is going to have to wait for a better night!!).

(I did apologize the next morning).

Usually after those nights I can confidently declare that I'm 120% sure that I'm done. Maybe 250% sure. After those night I'm really, really done. Like burnt toast done!

Done being pregnant. Done with the crazy sleep schedules. Done with the food flinging and nursing and tantrumming. Done with the wild messes of stuff that I can't keep up with, or even comprehend half the time. Let's move on to the greener pastures of more sleep (I like to naively believe that there is more sleep in those pastures, but I could be completely mistaken!),  and more rational forms of communication (though I hear the teenage years are a tough bit!), and less crushed cheerio dust in all corners of the house.

But then I walk into the baby's room in the morning and she is smiling at me from over the rail of her bed with a face that says, "Momma!" so big and wide that it competes with the span of the Golden Gate bridge and I melt. It's a face that says, "What's the problem mom? Why do you look so...tired?"

She's far too cute to be mad at, and the affirmative 120% part of me that says I'm done with the baby stage shrinks a little like 96%...

Just enough to nudge that door open a crack and leave me wondering if I made the right decision in giving all of my stuff away, even though I'm pretty sure that I did.

The girls are getting bigger day by day and time is a fast paced race horse that doesn't stop to smell the roses. We have to yank it by the reigns sometimes and force it to stop, just so that we can see more more that we can be in these fastly fading moments more fully.

It's a wild horse of ride, that's for sure, but I'm learning to manage my horse a little bit better these days and it seems to be understanding me.

Aubrey will be 2 very soon, and oh my heavens is she ever acting like it!

She's growing into bigger shoes, literally and figuratively, and learning by leaps and bounds.

Her contagiously happy big blue eyes are enough to stop us in our tracks everyday, and usually enough to make amends for the massive mess she has left in her wake.

Ava will be 8, which always reminds me of my age as a mom...I will be 8 years old as a mom this year, which always offers perspective on how far we've come and how much more we still have to learn--as parents, as a family, as individuals.

And, little miss Ella who turned 6 this year, just read me a story before bed last night...If You Give a Mouse a of our favorites.

"Ella, no one ever reads me bedtime stories. This is such a treat."

She just grins and reads the words as if the whole thing is no big deal, my big little girl who could hardly read a cereal box a year ago.

Scott has more gray hairs, and I'm experimenting with covering mine up. While I would never pay the price, I'm starting to see where a little botox could be appealing.

Our basement and our garage have been bursting at the seams and it was time for a good purge...out with the old, in with the new.

We don't have a need for a high-chair any longer, though after realizing how bittersweet it was to see it go I might have come up with a couple of really good reasons that we coulda, woulda, shoulda, kept it.

But I'm a writer and a reader, so I know that stories are full of chapters. Chapters that must begin, and then end to make way for new chapters. The story must progress, the characters must change and grow. Time, as they say, marches on.

I know that we are writing our family story and that is a beautiful thing.

I just wish it weren't so darned hard to give the Boppy and the high chair away.

Thursday, April 2

A Writing and Planning Kind of Day

The sun is shining!

Easter is this weekend!

And I'm holed up in a hotel room, all by myself, writing, reading and planning for a few hours this afternoon....and I'm completely giddy about it all!

I'm a thinker who feels most centered when I can find quiet places to contemplate and work through life on paper. As you know (either because you're a busy mom, or because you've heard me say it before!) finding "quiet" time can sometimes feel like looking for a watering hole in the middle of a keep seeing water off in the distance, but as you get closer it just keeps disappearing. Until, eventually,  you find yourself really, really which point you usually just snuggle up to share a juice box with one of the wee ones along for the ride and call it a day.

All that to say, quiet time is in short supply so when I do have a few minutes, I treasure them deeply.

So here I am, in a hotel in Syracuse, New York, while my husband is running business meetings and my mother in law (who is a saint!!!) is hanging with the girlies this afternoon and evening.

As a Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor I was invited to attend a regional event at Syracuse University this evening-- a panel discussion on non-fiction writing in general, and the mission behind the Chicken Soup brand, followed by a dinner with the Publisher and several other contributors from the region.  Since I don't know a soul I almost turned the invitation down, but then realized my hubby had business in Syracuse anyway, offering a chance for him and I to travel together and for me to meet some new, local, writing comrades.

I've brought books and notebooks, file folders and scraps of paper. I have my calendar, notepads, computers, and I-phone. I'm not completely sure where to start, or what to focus on...I'm hoping focus is something that comes out of this time.

Has that ever happened to you?! You have so much that you need to do, and even aspire to do, and then you finally have the house to yourself, or the babysitter shows up, or you find yourself all alone in a hotel room, and you just stand there dumbfounded? "What do I now?! I have no idea!"

I'm currently working on several projects...two separate "books"-- one a spiritual memoir, and one a collection of reflections on motherhood. I have a half dozen ideas for other books, and oodles of blog posts I'd  love to write if time allowed. Today I'm throwing many of those ideas down on paper to save for the future, when the time and season allow...but for today I'm just thankful for this quiet time.

I've found a lot of internal peace about my writing lately (the writing I am able to do, and more importantly the writing I am unable to do right now). There was a long season where I found myself frustrated by how seldom I was able to put pen to paper (or fingers to the keyboard), and would get discouraged and irritable about it all...but lately...well, I guess God is doing work in my heart. Truly.

It's like King Solomon says in Ecclesiastes, "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens."

In this season, I have been called to full-time stay at home motherhood, a job that requires a lot of time and energy...more than I could have ever imagined, actually. And so I find myself fully coming into myself as a mother, bit by bit and day by day, while still trying to integrate time for other parts of my life that I value.

It's the age old dilemma, right? How do we find balance, keep our priorities straight, and make the most of the pieces of our lives in a way that is honorable to ourselves, our families, but most importantly, in a way that is honorable to God? 

We put one foot in front of the other, one day at a time, trusting that God will offer wisdom and that the path will become clear. As you get stronger, and learn a little bit more, you start to trot instead of walk, and than jog instead of trot...sooner or later you are running a race that you didn't know you had the stamina to run.

It feels good when you start running and you realize that you are capable of so much more than you thought you were when you first set out. When you realize that you can only do so much in your own strength, but the spiritual refining that happens as we journey through motherhood teaches us a very, very important lesson...we can do so much more and ALL things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

I am incredibly thankful for that truth and hope that you are finding the same to be true in your lives as well.

So, today I am thankful for the life I've been given (all things, people and circumstances included!), the blessing of my family, and a quiet space to think and write for even a short time. I'm hopeful for the future, and all of the adventure it holds. And I'm trusting, that in the right season and at the right time, God will take these scraps of a writing life that I've created and turn them into something meaningful.

Hope you all have a very happy and blessed Easter weekend!


Saturday, March 28

Some Thoughts on Blogging and Why I Keep Going

Have you ever remodeled or simply repainted a room in your house? Sometimes a fresh coat of paint makes me plain giddy-- the shine, the sheen, the way new paint makes something that was feeling tired look completely new!

That's how this blog space makes me feel today (I'm still relishing in the new colors and design!), like I just remodeled a room in my house. It makes me want to invite you all over to drink coffee,  eat cookies and enjoy the fellowship of each other's company, as we share stories about our families and the day-to-day pursuit of making something beautiful of this adventure called life.

But since that doesn't always work out,  I keep writing these little posts. It's one of my favorite ways to connect with you. Its a way of sharing little pieces of me, even when our schedules or geographical locations don't coincide.

Sure, I've had my share of moments where I've shouted to the hilltops, "I'm done! I don't have time for this! I have four baskets of laundry to fold, the kids are about to get off the school bus, a hurricane apparently ripped through the kitchen,  and a baby chicken just pooped on my floor! Who has time for blog posts when you're cleaning up chicken s***?" (This was all true on Friday afternoon when I started writing this post!)

But, I always come back. Because it's become a part of me that I can't let go of. Because it's part of the way I process my days. Because it's part of the way I capture the moments that are fluttering by with such speedy intensity that I can hardly comprehend how the 3T Nemo underwear I recently found in my kindergarteners top drawer don't fit her any longer.

This post is #408 in my Little Writer Momma blogging journey. That's hard for me to believe!

When I look back at my early posts I am reminded about many things. In the same way that looking through old pictures kicks up pangs of nostalgia and sometimes cringes of embarrassment, reading through old blog posts does the same...Some of the pictures make you say, "Awwww, wasn't that sweet," and some of the pictures make you say, "Ewww! Did I really do that? Did I really wear that?"

Some of my earliest posts allow me to relive funny, candid and cherished memories,  while others leave me cringing and asking serious questions, "Did I really need to talk about poop?" (Yup, that would be this one, right here.)

But, at the end of the day, as I read through the old, and then the recent, I'm reminded that I'm a blessed woman and that I've grown as a parent by leaps and bounds in the last eight years. I'm very thankful for both of those things, and reminded that life is a journey and that it is the process that is important, not some hoped for destination.

As I peruse the last five years of blog posts I realize three things...

How quickly time goes. 

How much they've grown.

How much I've grown in the process of helping them grow. 

I recently came across this quote by writer and humorist Andy Rooney. He said,

“Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.” 

We are climbing the mountain step by step over here. And, while early on in my parenting I expected to naturally be at the top of the mountain (and often found myself frustrated when I wasn't) on a regular basis (you know, it was supposed to be continuous sweet cuddles, accolades from my children  for my awesome culinary skills at dinner and no whining EVER!), I'm more content these days to just enjoy the journey and to be peaceful right where I am. 

I look forward to continuing to share my Little Momma life with you one blog post at a time..the posts may be fewer and far between these days, but they'll always be honest, and I'll keep coming back. I promise.

Here's to finding ways to enjoy the journey, one precious day at a time!

Saturday, March 21


Welcome to the new blog space!! 

Isn't it beautiful?

A huge shout out and a thank you goes to Traci Michele Designs who worked with perseverance and persistence to finish this in a relatively short amount of time! Traci, you're awesome and thank you! (You can check her blog out by clicking on her name above!).

I had plans to write a well crafted post to say "hello" and welcome you all to the new page, but as life would have it, we've had a very sick toddler, haven't gotten a whole lot of sleep and have other commitments to tend to today!

I suppose the irony is that that is exactly what this space is all about! No matter how pretty the blog, life can still be messy (:  It has always been my desire to capture the moments and pursue the creative right in the middle of real life with kids and family, which is often messy and unpredictable. My hope has always been to encourage you to do the same. To live fully, joyful and peacefully (in God's strength) right in the middle of it all (whatever "it all" is for you!).

So welcome. Thank you for reading. I love you all. More to come soon!!

On a side note..

I am very excited to join my local writer's group, Ink & Keys, for a radio interview on WDCX (99.5) this afternoon. We will be talking with Linda Penn about pursuing our God given creative passions, sometimes in the midst of everything else that is going on (family life, job commitments, etc.) Tune in at 1 p.m. if you can, and if not I'll post a link to the podcast in a few days!