Friday, December 25
God Bless you and send you a happy new year! God Bless you and send you a happy new year.
Wednesday, December 23
Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir on GMA
Sunday, December 20
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
Friday, December 18
So now that I've run, wrote and am coffeed I am feeling more grateful and peaceful.
I am thankful for:
- my ability to run. plain and simple. not everyone can.
-the smiles on my children's faces this morning.
-the fact that Ava is pooping in the toilet and sleeping through the night without a diaper, and the money we'll save because of it!
-the fact that we are getting normal nights sleep, most nights, finally!
-the sacrifices our military are making, including my wonderful brother in law, away from their families, especially at the holidays, for our freedom and for a hopefully better world.
Do you ever have one of those nights, or mornings, when you wake up for whatever reason (a crying teething baby, for example) and cannot, no matter what, get back to sleep? You start mulling things you are frustrated about, or anxious about, or angry about...That was me this morning. Ella woke up around 4:45 a.m. quite upset...after 25 minutes, some rocking and a bottle administered by hubby, she finally fell back to sleep. But I didn't.
Christmas is next week, and despite my attempts at really trying to focus on the presence of Jesus and his arrival on earth, I'm flustered because we are trying to figure out family schedules, and who will see who when, and how complicated it gets and how I feel like it's hard to find the downtime I desire to focus on what is really important. I know I am not alone. I think many families find themselves in their own version of this very struggle during holidays, and especially at Christmas. I think because our lives are SO hectic with the craziness of taking care of our wonderful little girlies, that I start to feel really, really selfish about my time.
So...anyways...The verse above, Psalm 51 is one that I often recite to myself, especially when I am feeling frustrated and very far from who I really want to be as a person. I'm reminding myself that Christmas is a season of giving, and not just monetarily, or materially, but of our time and our energies as well. When I look at it this way, that our time spent with others is a gift that we give, it softens my heart a bit.
"Create in me a clean heart..." For me this is a prayer to help remove the frustration, and selfishness. Sometimes it's a prayer to help remove anger, or bitterness. Whatever is in your heart that is making you less than who you want to be...sometimes I have to pray it over, and over and over again.
"And renew a right spirit within me..." This offers hope...hope for renewal and restoration to a place of peace and balance within my spirit. David wrote this Psalm after an adulterous affair that ended up in the death of his adulterers husband. When I think about how far away from God he must have been feeling at that moment, and his obvious faith that God would restore his heart regardless of where it had been, I realize that God really does want to meet us where we are and help us get back to where we should be.
Isn't that what Christmas is really about after all? God sending his son, to meet us in this world, to help restore us back to the people that we ought to be.
So, wherever your heart is today, if it is less than you want it to be, God can take it and reshape it, you just have to ask.
Wednesday, December 16
BEAT butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add dry pudding mix; beat until well blended. Add eggs and baking soda; mix well. Gradually add flour, beating after each addition until well blended. Stir in chocolate.
DROP tablespoons of dough, 2 inches apart, onto baking sheets.
BAKE 10 to 12 min. or until edges are lightly browned. Cool 1 min. on baking sheets; remove to wire racks. Cool completely.
Tuesday, December 15
- Right now I'm sitting a Panera, drinking coffee, watching the snow fall softly, listening to soft jazz and utilizing the free wi-fi to blog away, distraction free-- this is like HEAVEN to me! I pay a babysitter every Tuesday, from 2:30-5:30 to come watch the girls. I prefer to do some writing and/or reading, but often run errands as well. It hasn't always been this way. I've tried a lot of different things, occasional babysitters, mommy's helpers, etc. but this has been the best situation; a lovely 20 year old girl, that lives a couple miles from my house, is a local college student and has a pretty flexible schedule. For me I like being able to look forward to this period of time every week, rather than just doing it occasionally.
- There is a local pre-school that has a playschool program- it's drop-off babysitting at a trusted church for $5 an hour. I take Ava there pretty regularly for two hours. Ella sleeps and I clean the house!
- Sometimes, either after the girls go to bed, or just before I'll grab a book and head off to Starbucks. It helps to get out of the house, because I'm there all day. It is more refreshing than just sitting at home on the couch watching t.v..although that certainly holds merits on some days!
- Taking the kids to the gym with me. I don't do this often because it is a bit of a hassle, and last time I took them both I was 22 minutes into a 30 minute interval run on the treadmill when I was notified that Ava needed to pee and I needed to take her! But, occasionally, I do put them in the nursery at the gym and feel excited to have accomplished a workout early in the day.
Monday, December 14
And, for that reason, I suppose Santa will be coming to our town this Christmas...
Thursday, December 10
Today was a blizzardy day here in Buffalo. Drafty, windy, snowy, cold...downright miserable outside. For many kids this meant a snow day, including Ava's Aunt Caitlyn, who is 13. She called this morning as she was dancing around her kitchen because she was SO excited and wanted to make a snowman with Ava!
All that to say, Grandma Connie and Aunt Caitlyn came to pick Ava up this morning leaving me with just one child!! I hate to sound so excited about this, but after having two kids, taking care of one is a piece of cake!! Not to mention the cleaning I was able to get done around the house while Ella napped. It was a small moment of euphoria to have all, let me repeat, ALL of my clean laundry folded and put away, stew in the crockpot and the entire house vacuumed by 2:00 p.m.!
But here is what else I found; it is really, really nice sometimes to just be able to focus on one child purely because you are so much more easily able to connect to that child in those moments. I imagine this changes as they get older and we can all do more together, but on a day to day basis, poor little 10 mo. old Ella pretty much gets the shaft around here sometimes.
She's so content, bless her heart, to sit in the middle of the living room floor and play with a cap to a jar of baby food for 25 minutes, while her 2 1/2 year old sister is dragging my tired behind around the house to wipe her spilled water, spilled milk or rescue her from some other household trouble she's gotten herself into. I just don't have the time to focus on Ella that I used to with Ava.
So I got to focus on Ella for a little while today; on her beautiful gummy smile, on her laughter as I tickled her, on the smell of her yummy baby head, on feeding her, on helping her walk around the living room, on rolling balls with her-- the little stuff that little ones like. It was delightful and as much as I LOVE having two girls, I LOVE one on one time with them individually sometimes too. Besides my loving it, it's so obvious that they love it, and I think it is really important to do.
NOTE** Here is a link to one of my favorite movie databases; the International Movie Database. When I'm looking for reviews, summaries or information I've found this to be a GREAT web site. Also, I'm not one that likes violence, etc. and if you click on the "parents guide" it gives you a VERY detailed summary of what you're getting into with any given movie.
Wednesday, December 9
Ok, this one will be short and sweet. I’m embarrassed to admit that I watched this at all, but alas, I’ll admit, I’m not a very sophisticated movie watcher at times and this movie fits the “cheap thrill” audience looking for something light. It starred Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon, and while I don't find Vaughn to be a great actor, he can be entertaining, and Witherspoon is usually charming.
Saturday, December 5
Would love to hear ideas from others about how you incorporate spiritual reflection into your Christmas season. Leave comments below!
Wednesday, December 2
Thank God for children who remind us that there is joy in the little things. And the wet things, and the cold things, and the furry things...
Tuesday, December 1
Friday, November 27
Wednesday, November 25
Sunday, November 22
- finish washing, drying and folding laundry
- clean entire kitchen
- finish painting playroom
- run to grocery store for groceries for the week
- have a glass of wine with husband who I haven't talked to all day
- read the Sunday newspaper
- write blog
Friday, November 20
Even though I grew up in a Christian home, and have been supposedly practicing this thing called faith for decades now (that makes me feel old!), I'm still not good at it sometimes. Especially during the times when all of the small things in life are adding up.
It seems that in the big things I remember to go to God. To be prayerful. To ask for help.Things like buying a house, or moving to a different state, or applying to graduate school or for a job. But, being a mom, it's about a whole lot of small things that add up over a whole lot of hours and days. It's the grind of cleaning and preparing meals and cleaning up after the meals, the laundry, the errands that need to be run late at night when we are tired but the kids are in bed, it's the waking in the middle of the night, and early in the morning, not having time to talk to your husband and tripping over mega blocks in the middle of the living room. All that stuff adds up. Somewhere along the line I figured God doesn't want to hear about how tired I am. How tedious this feels. How much patience it can take to get through a day. He has such bigger things to handle then my feelings of being overwhelmed.
I also feel bad praying about it sometimes because I feel as if I shouldn't be allowing myself to feel overwhelmed, or tired, or impatient. I feel like I should be MOM and with the title comes the ability to do it...but like Ladd's words above, I've been looking at the job through my inabilities. I forget sometimes, that God is with me, and think I should be able to handle this on my own. But, I'm learning to grow my mommy faith, to ask for help and to cast ALL of my cares on Him, knowing that He cares for us as we care for our children.
I may be mom, but God is God, and that is a whole lot bigger than I can comprehend and I am thankful for it.
Wednesday, November 18
Right now, we have just finished dinner and here is a round-up of the situation here:
Our nine month old is still sitting in her high-chair, peas smeared all over her face, hands, bib, tray and in her hair, from rubbing her grubby hands there!
There are crayons, unfinished milk, a half-eaten cookie, an old cup of coffee, and dirty placemats on the table.
There is an old bottle, a jacket, one sock and diaper cream on the counter next to the kitchen sink.
There is an upside down car seat (thanks to two-year old play), a vinyl tunnel, an old bottle, a diaper bag and blocks on the floor in the dining room, (in lieu of dining room furniture which perhaps we'll buy when we're not spending over $100 a month on diapers, formula and baby food!)
There is an entire basket of toys (which I picked up before naptime) strewn all over the living floor...again! Along with a book, a CD, a teddy bear, the cover to a DVD, a pillow and a blanket and there is ANOTHER finished bottle laying on the couch.
Leftovers from dinner are still on the stove, dishes still in the sink, and speaker wires running all around the living floor (a project hubby hasn't finished because the evenings get so chaotic.)
My shirt is on inside out.
I won't begin to comment on the situation upstairs in the bedrooms.
And this is relatively clean compared to other nights!
Oh, bless the mess. It's no fun to be clean anyway!
The decision to stay at home or to work outside of the home is one that seems much simpler before you have children. If you had asked me in 2003 B.C.. (before children!), the year I was working as an editorial assistant at Houghton Mifflin in Boston, and living in a great apartment in Cambridge, the year I got married to my boyfriend of 3 years (now husband of 6!), and had time to workout and run 4-5 times a week, and read at my leisure, and, well do anything my whims designed…if you had asked me then I would have told you “of course I will work when I have kids! I don’t know if it will be full-time, but I will definitely work! I’d go crazy if I stayed home all day long!”
Oh, doesn’t perspective change quickly.
Fast-forward four years to 2007 when we had our first daughter. We had moved into our first house about 45 minutes outside of the city (a town closer to my husband’s job), I had just finished a year and a half as a high-school English teacher at a small private school and knew it was not a job I wanted to continue doing full-time with children at home. So, I finished the school year, they found a replacement and in June of 2007 I found myself a full-time SAHM…not on maternity leave, not with the possibility of going back, but full-time SAHM.
I sometimes feel like I more fell into the role than deliberately choosing it. Maybe the timing was meant to be because God knew if I had a job I really loved I might have loved it too much to leave; whatever the case, with mixed emotions I was and have been home pretty much full-time.
I did teach two courses at a local college while I was preggo with baby #2 and loved the balance of working two part-time days and being home three. I’d still love to find a good freelancing gig. I’ve done some writing for smaller newspapers and magazines, and would love to keep doing so—if only I could find the time (that is a whole other post!).
Although, the question of how or when I’ll work again is an ongoing one in my mind the following quotes from Dr.Kevin Leman’s book, “First Time Mom”, helped to reaffirm why I am making this sacrifice of career to be at home cleaning up cheerios crushed into the rug by my dancing toddler:
“Someday, that child you’re holding is going to be in his fifties…When someone asks him to remember something about his childhood, will he talk about the childcare worker who bandaged his knee? Will he talk about being tied into a line as he and fifteen other two-year-olds walked to the park with the worker—of—the month? Or will he talk about autumn afternoons and drinking a cup of hot chocolate while Mommy read his favorite book? Will your children think of home as a warm place if they are raised in continual daycare?”
Well, for as much as I don’t know, the one thing I do know is that, even though I feel like I am going crazy many days, I want my girls to be thinking of warm cocoa and books. So, for now, I’m going to work on being content and grateful for the opportunity to be able to be at home with them because if there is one thing EVERY mother I’ve ever talked to has said, “The time goes fast. Enjoy them while they’re young.”
Monday, November 16
Think about it, how often do we put off doing things we know we should do? Sometimes they are things that we know would benefit our lives in someway, like eating better, or forcing ourselves off the couch and into the gym to run or even just walk on the treadmill. Sometimes they are steps towards a goal-- steps that we need to make just one at a time, but that we put off because the entire thing seems overwhelming; like writing a book, or training for a triathalon, or learning a new skill like fishing, or knitting or photography.
Well, I could go on and on about the things that I don't do during the day that I feel like I should, but that isn't my point. My point is that we all feel better, well, I feel better anyways, when I adopt the 'Just Do It' approach and get things done.
Here' s my example. In one of my posts last week I mentioned trying to gather the courage to make a phone call to an editor about freelancing gigs. The truth is, I've had the phone number and have put that phone call off for a good six weeks now. Why? Fear, quite frankly. Fear of rejection, fear of sounding like an idiot on the phone and never getting a writing assignment again, fear of actually getting an assignment and feeling incompetent enough to complete it. Silly, silly fear!
Anyways, one of my closest friends said to me last week, "Lisa, what do you have to lose?" My husband kept saying to me, "Lisa, what do you have to lose? You don't have anything now, so if she gives you nothing, you've lost nothing..." Right. Right. Right.
It takes a LOT of convincing for me sometimes, but this morning I finally said, "Lisa, just do it. You don't have anything to lose." So I did it. I called the editor. And you know what happened? After a slightly awkward start to a conversation that turned out ok in the end, she asked me to send her my resume and some writing samples and she'd let me know.
No, "I think you're an idiot and don't think I have anything for you." No, "I don't think I like you so I can't help you." Not even, 'You know Lisa, I'm really too busy to talk to you, I'm sorry." All the things that I was afraid of had nothing to do with what actually happened. And you know what, maybe she's even going to call me with an assignment in the near future.
So, my encouragement is this, "Just do it"; whatever it is that you've been putting off. It probably won't be as bad as you think and it might actually even be good!
Friday, November 13
Doesn't he make you smile?
Maybe this is the real reason I stay home with the girls...I like to make paper bag puppets!
In all seriousness, my 2 1/2 year old put this together earlier this week. It was super simple, and even though I did most of the work, she had a lot of fun watching and playing with the finished project. Now I don't want anyone thinking I'm super crafty mom (that would definitely be giving the wrong impression!), I'm just resourceful-- I picked up this kit at Wal-Mart for $2.00. It's from the "Martha Stewart Create" collection and they have a wide variety of animals-- zoo animals, farm animals, birds, etc. We have a bear and a dalmation yet to create.
The best part, there is no tape or glue or scissors involved! Everything is pre-cut and self-adhesive.
If the girls were older I thought it would be fun for them to have a little puppet show-- create a bunch of them, put a little stage together and prance and dance them around!
Maybe we'll table that for a rainy day...
here is a link to them on amazon...although Wal Mart or a craft store is probably cheaper:
p.s. I almost titled this entry, "What I Did With my College Degree Today" but I figured I'd downplay the sarcasm for now...but really, don't you have those thoughts sometimes?
Thursday, November 12
Quite frankly, I think I’m dealing with the said unexpected much better these days. I know this because this is how my phone conversation went with my husband earlier today (the poor soul who bears the brunt of my unmet expectation frustration).
Him: Hey, how’s it going?
Me: I promise this is the last time I’m going to call, I know you have work to do. (It was the 3rd time I’d called him in ½ an hour).
Him: No, really, I don’t have anything to do…(go ahead and laugh, the sarcasm was rising)
Me: Well, I dropped A (our 2 yr. old) off at playschool at 9:30, brought E (9 mo. old) home for her nap at 9:45. She was wide awake in her crib for an hour until I went into her room and she literally laughed at me from her crib. Now the playschool just called and asked me to pick A up because she’s been crying all morning.
Him: Wow. You’re not swearing at me yet.
Me (trying to be a more patient mommy and loving wife): Mmmm. No. Saving that for later.
Him: Can’t wait…
(Just a little backstory. A goes to playschool at a lovely church 10 minutes from our house once a week. I drop her off, E naps. I get 2 hours of free time to clean, write, whatever. The obvious EXPECTATION here: 2 HOURS of free time!)
Oddly enough, I was really doing ok. In the past I’ve called my hubby all gruff, and crabby and bothered. Today I was really glad that at least the sun was shining. I was rolling with the punches.
Never mind the fact that besides wanting to tackle a sky high pile of laundry, clean the pile of clothes off of my bed and wash our filthy kitchen floor that I was just starting to gather the gumption to call an editor I’ve been trying to gather the gumption to call for over a month to see if she had any freelancing gigs.
Maybe I was just glad to have another excuse not to call the editor. Or maybe I’m really learning to let go of expectations.
Whatever the case, E is screaming from her crib because she is on a nap strike today…and so I must go…
Tuesday, November 10
Several nights ago I sent my 2 ½ year old upstairs to put her pajamas on. She is at the age where she really wants to do things by herself. “I do it, I do it, I DO IT!!” is her mantra and so as often as possible, and as long as her safety is not an issue, I let her do things on her own.
In the temperament of many first-borns (myself included) she can tend to be a little stubborn about things. She often wants to put her own clothes on, buckle her own seat belt, she even insists on cracking her own eggs into a bowl when we are making breakfast (a messy habit that my husband started!) and so I let her do many of these things. The problem is, at 2 ½ she has the desire to do them, but often not the skill set to complete the task properly without becoming frustrated.
On this particular night I watched her walk upstairs and listened carefully to see what would develop. Sure enough, within three minutes I heard, “AHHHHHHHHH. MOMMY. AHHHHHHHHH. Whimper, Whimper, Whimper. ARGHHHHHHHHHH!” In typical 2-year-old fashion she has gone from happy to tantrum in 60 seconds and was screaming and crying at a very high decibel.
“Oh boy,” I said to my husband as I rolled my eyes with a smirk and walked upstairs. Though it sounded as if she were in dire trouble I knew she was really just frustrated about something she couldn’t do.
As I walked into her room I had to hold back my laughter as I found her on the floor. In an attempt to take her shirt off, she had managed to pull the bottom of the shirt over her head and around the back of her neck with both of her arms still in the sleeves. She was screaming at me with her arms locked in her shirt and struggling to pull it off.
I calmly walked over to hear, pulled her towards me and gently helped her get her shirt off. She was still crying.
“Honey, you have to be patient with yourself. You don’t need to cry and get frustrated. Just say, ‘mommy I need some help’ in a nice voice’ and I’ll be right here. Alright?”
“Uh-huh,” she whimpered in her saddest voice.
We finished putting on her pj’s and got her to bed. Even though the situation only lasted a few minutes I found myself wondering, “How do I teach a 2 year old that it is not necessary to get so frustrated so quickly? That there are more reasonable ways of reacting and working through such a situation?”
But as I asked myself the question I knew that part of the answer had to do with modeling such behavior. How often during the day do I get frustrated about small things?
Even when she is not watching, how often do I get frustrated with myself and throw personal temper tantrums about not exercising enough, about not being organized, about not writing more, or cleaning more or being able to find my pediatrician’s phone number or even my car keys instantly. Being a mom of two small children is a period that poses great challenges to my time, to my organizational skills, etc. and yet I tend to be really hard on myself about things I think I should be able to do, but realistically cannot do at this period of my life.
Being a mom leaves me regularly listening to the advice I give my daughter and wondering if my actions are matching up with my words. She may need to learn to be more patient with herself in the small tasks that she is doing, but so do I.
So I’m trying to be a mother to myself. To say, “Lisa, you have to be patient with yourself. You don’t need to cry and get frustrated. Ask for help, but also realize that with the best of intentions come limitations.” So that the next time I have a shirt stuck over my head I can model a more rational response, laughter perhaps, but certainly patience—something that reminds myself and shows my daughter that we need to learn to be nice to ourselves and that acting like a 2 year old doesn’t really get us anywhere!
Monday, November 9
Naturally, when our second daughter came along I offered her a pacifier as well. Knowing the immediate comfort it had brought to her sister(and therefore myself!) so often, I thought for sure she needed one as well. She fought us on it in the beginning—spitting it out or making faces when we tried to put it in. She was colicky in the first couple of months, and during those days of colic I drove from drugstore to drugstore laying down good money for different brands of paci’s with different types of nipples in an effort to find one that would “work” for her. Finally, she took the paci, and it did seem to calm some of her crying. It seemed as if all woes were answered, until…
At eight and a half months the youngest was still not sleeping through the night. Ack! We blamed it on her colic, and then on our move to a new house, and then on teeth, and indigestion and…well, we were out of excuses and about out of our minds from the broken nights. Our oldest slept through the night at 3 ½ months—an amount of time acceptable to the new parent who is expecting to lose some sleep…but by six, seven, eight months…well, for those of you who have been there, you know the frustration. It would be nothing for us to have to go into her room four, five, six, seven times a night to plug her paci back in. Sure, she’d fall right back to sleep, but often we wouldn’t and the toll was beginning to add up.
Finally, just last week, my husband and I were lamenting the long nights that were sure to be ahead when we noticed our daughter’s runny nose. We propped her mattress up, put a humidifier in her room, wiped her nose as well as possible, and ran into her bedroom every half hour to forty-five minutes the first night of her cold—she couldn’t breathe through her nose, so she couldn’t keep her paci in, so she couldn’t sleep! The next day during one of her naps I decided putting her down without her paci to sleep wasn’t any more or less ridiculous than our running into her room every half hour and so I did just that—I put her to sleep without her paci and she slept for 2 straight hours!
That night, we thought we would try again and guess what? She slept the entire night, let me repeat that, the ENTIRE NIGHT without so much as a peep-- and then the next, night and the next night and the next night. She has slept through the night, with a runny nose and not a sound for six nights in a row now and we have finally figured out the culprit of our sleepless nights!!
So while her bigger sister keeps trying to push the paci on her when she cries because she believes it to be the ultimate answer to all of life's woes, at nine months our little one is paci free and we are all sleeping a whole lot better for it. Bye, bye paci. Hello sleep. Amen to that!
Oh, and by the way, today I'm thankful for:
4. And the beautiful and unexpected blue skies and 70 degree weather we have had here in Buffalo.
Thursday, November 5
- finding a great babysitter that my girls love.
- that my husband fixed that tailgate on our VW wagon so that it's not falling on my head when I pull the stroller out
- a spirited daughter who dances in a tutu and sings at the top of her lungs making her little sister cackle!