Category Archives: Uncategorized

It’s over, Winter

Dear winter,

We are breaking up. It’s not you … it’s my children. You see, being loud, running fast and creating wreckage as fast, ferocious, and wide-spread as an F5 are a few of their favorite things. And I think you would agree, loud noises and tornadoes are really better suited for the outdoors.

DSC_1371

We had a fling once. It started with wanting to feel the crisp air back in October. The leaves, family photo opportunities and all the hoopla for chai-pumpkin-scarves-boots-hoodies everything season passed quickly, followed by the allure of the holidays. You seduced me when those children’s big blue eyes danced of sugarplums and Christmas Barbie and listening to Jingle Bells on repeat everywhere we went. I didn’t even mind repeating the number of days until Christmas 600 times a day for a few short weeks.

You convinced me to spend 65 dollars on something that I killed on purpose for it to shed needles all over my floor – especially when it didn’t get taken down until three weeks after Christmas. And now that I’m still finding those darn things in my rugs, I lust for a Roomba.  But it was such a romantic time, so I happily went along with it all.

IMG_5119

You were new and exciting and flirtatious with your promises of snowmen to be built, family memories to be made and joy on those little faces every time you’d come around. You had the kids convinced too – they nearly cried every time you started to go away.

IMG_5500

Until they were distracted by the next indoor activity for all of their 5-minute attention span.

IMG_5321

IMG_5356

And then, February hit and things got crazy fast. One morning, I couldn’t take it anymore. I took away the TV, toys, bubbles inside the house (because that’s never been an expectation), the couch (because it is not a jungle gym nor gymnastics bars, a bounce house, or apparently even a place to sit, once I started my threat). I blame you.

I freaked out when my kid didn’t put the princess tattoos in her Valentine’s cards just right. We played Play Doh and drew until the crayons were stubs, but still you wouldn’t go away.

You tried to make it right. And you almost succeeded. I thoroughly enjoyed the peppermint mochas, mashed potatoes my grandma makes with a full stick of butter and Valentine’s chocolates, but when the Samoas overtook my cabinet, I’d had enough. I went on a binge and hid everything from the sticky fingers who knew what cabinet to stand on to reach for  the mint truffle, candy cane stripe and raspberry love Hershey’s kisses that I took of the store’s hands at the bulk rate of half price.

IMG_5236

I know what you’re thinking, but I’m not one of those people with a bad memory who will be finding smooshed chocolates and wrappers in my underwear drawer for years to come. Nope, turns out the freezer is the perfect hiding spot (especially the top shelf) and Thin Mints taste even better when frozen. ‘No dessert week’ was more or less a loose term anyways for Mommy every time I had to ‘take out the trash,’ ‘feed the dog,’ or ‘check on something’.

Now there’s somebody new. I’ve just seen a glimpse of him once or twice. He brings warmth to my cheeks, and I can’t wait to feel the full effect of his glorious burning love. He doesn’t control what I wear or when I can go out. He lets me do things like throw whatever I can find or grow on the grill instead of planning 47 ways to fail at producing something edible from my crockpot. It turns out Pinterest lies. I even shave my legs when he comes around.

It’s time to go away. Admit defeat. Quit belittling me at my door, half desperate to hang on for the sake of the past. It’s over, Winter. I’ll break it to the children and tell them about their new home. A place of sanity for us all. Outside!

when perfect isn’t working

It sneaks in as a little voice in your head – starting as admiration, but quickly turning into the green-eyed twin monsters of comparison and jealousy.

You were having a rough day, and stopping by her house made you feel better – at first. Until you started noticing she already had snacks made out. There were no piles of laundry on the floor, the couch, or probably not even hiding in the dryer. And she was all sporty looking and ready for a walk.

The drive home and entrance into your own house seals the deal. The undone laundry, exhaustion, and lack of a dinner plan – other than a ‘buffet’ of ‘whatever y’all can find in the fridge’ taunts you. FAILURE. A quick recap of the day reminds you that while you were busy having your mini-meltdown, your still-not-potty-trained child was eating her boogers in public.

But, really, it’s not the lack of listening, fear of botulism by boogers, or friend I know well enough to know she’s only 95 percent perfect, that put me in the driver’s seat heading off the crazy cliff.

It’s me. The complete reliance on the voice of destruction – the one that comes to steal and kill and destroy. As soon as I let the voice in, I don’t just turn to it. I sprint full force to it’s beakoning. And then I can’t stop. I leave the door wide open for it to operate my every thought.

The destroyer voice hides behind lovely things – the longing in my soul to want things beautiful and organized and to just have it together. I try so hard, but even in the brief moments when I arrive at that place, it never satisfies. It’s just a mirage.

I hide behind my accomplishments and what I can get done instead of nourishing relationships. I make busy and perfect my idols. And I almost burn down the house because I forgot I shoved the dirty dishes in the oven before the next time I turned it on.

photo (80) photo (82)

Today, I needed some quiet space. To get back to potty training and letting my blonde heads help with saucing the apples that don’t care whether or not they’ve been rotting on the counter. To wash my soul with the words of the one who comes to give me abundant life. And to forget about washing the windows.

photo (81)

this summer

I know … it kind of feels like summer packed up its bags more than a month ago for kids who had to go back to school. But this unusual streak of 80-degree days, coupled with BOTH OF MY KIDS being at preschool for THREE HOURS OF QUIET and the fact that I haven’t blogged in, oh, six months, made me want to recap our summer.

Because when people ask, I tend to think/say we had an uneventful summer. And when I’m old and have 24 hours of quiet, I don’t want to sit on this same front porch and reminisce of uneventful summers.

I want to remember my kid’s ice-cream stained face and the way the sand stuck to all the messy drips down her leg. How she still asks when we can go back to Michigan to the beach.

photo (79)

I want to remember the excitement and innocence of preschool, and how our worries aren’t of bullies and homework, but of not wanting to pick up her toys and locating the missing tennis shoes, because we already violated the dress code by wearing sandals the first day.

photo (78)

… the lazy trips to the park and splash pad. Fairs and berry picking.photo (76)

photo (72)

photo (55)Weird obsessions with goggles and crawdads/worms/frogs/creatures that aren’t meant to be pets. Being worn out from Bible School and falling asleep at the table. Her first time wanting to get her hair cut to look like someone else. Most every afternoon spent splashing, floating, jumping and asking me to watch or catch her in the pool.

photo (75)

photo (73)Gaining confidence and getting over her fear of going underwater, jumping in and swimming. The girl in that last September swim looking nothing like the scared girl in the chilly early-June water where she cried her way through swimming lessons. Spending the day exploring the Children’s Museum with friends and cousins we don’t get to see very much. The thrill of staying up too late to watch the fireflies light up the sky. Helping Daddy farm and going to the same zoo Mommy grew up visiting. Failing at potty training.

Getting away with my husband, not once, but twice – with no plans other than to eat, see, and enjoy each other. Realizing that the planner in me might just have more fun if she jumped in the backseat every once in a while – realizing sometimes life happens best when you turn ‘uneventful’ into a lot of little good things.

four=big

My baby, my firstborn turns four today. I almost can’t remember life BC (before children), but four years old screams “BIG.”

grace 4

grace 0

Whether it be watching through the window since she can now play by herself outside, or really being perplexed by the thoughtfulness of the things she says, I’m so aware that she’s really becoming her own person with her own likes and opinions (which are sometimes opposite of mine). Her own fiery, independent, yet loves-to-be -around-people person.

Today, I’m a little sad that happiness won’t always be as simple as a pretty dress and twirling and a ‘4’ candle. That my days won’t always be filled with playdates and popsicles, books and make believe. That she won’t always request macaroni and cheese for her birthday supper.

No one told me that a child could be so willful (well, my dad may have), so clever, and so determined. No one told me I would cry and laugh so much, that I could be so lonely, yet so full of love, in a house with small children who don’t understand the importance of coffee and talking about things that matter. How much I’d wish it to be naptime, only to wish for bedtime, yet I’d miss them only a few  minutes after they fall asleep. That I’d wonder who I was and know exactly who I am, all at the same time, simply by becoming a mom.

Sometimes, I can’t wait until the next milestone. More often, I want to freeze time.  But praise God, both of my babies are healthy and growing … as they should. They’re learning and exploring and changing, and I have to remind myself what a gift that is.

Happy rainbow, glittery-purple-unicorn Birthday, Baby Girl!

grace 1

grace 2 (2)

IMG_1863

DSC_0502

around here: remodeling is fun!

These last two months have flown, which is good, unless you like going outside and getting blasted in the face with artic wind while dragging along a toddler and a preschooler. It’s not really my thing.

Soo … like any good Hoosier, I’m ready for Spring. But before it comletely ‘Springs,’ and Matt goes to working all hours, I need my kitchen, which is currently being remodeled DONE.

IMG_2197

If for nothing more than to record this to remind myself to pause before going knocking out walls the next time, here’s how our year has gone down:

Christmas-tear out kitchen walls-clean up plaster-drywall-clean up drywall dust-tear out floor-clean up floor-paint walls-paint trim-paint windows-paint desk-paint fridge-clean up paint-take everything out of cabinets-paint cabinets-keep painting cabinets-stay up too late painting cabinets-take off countertops-take off stove-remember you have to make supper-get creative cooking on an electric skillet-go to California for a week-eat pb&j-daughter throws up pb&j-house smells like throw up-order Cracker Barrel-paint some more-keep children out of paint-prepare for girls’ birthday party-wonder what was so good about changing the kitchen anyways-the end.

IMG_2235
Because soon it will be – has to be – done, and I’ll go back to dreaming about my next project. 🙂 Until then, here’s a sneak peak of the finished product. Can’t wait to get these babies onto my counters!

IMG_2277

We started the day over

I have a strong-willed child. Like the kind who tries to negotiate her way about everything. Tell most kids not to cross the line and they either shrink back or walk right up to it. Not this one, she’s already two feet in front of it. Tell her to put on pink clothes, and it’s blue outfit day. ‘Oops, too late’ is a response I get ‘too much.’

Think wearing socks or picking up toys are any less of an ordeal than planning a mission to space? Not to her! While driving down the interstate, she asked me to get a piece of paper she had dropped on the floor. I told her it would have to wait until I stopped.

“Fine, I guess I won’t ever have that paper, ever again,” she responded.

I so wish I could blame her will on her dad’s genetics. But let’s just stop there.

(I’m really sorry, Mom and Dad!)

How a hurricane can turn in to still air, I don’t understand. But I’ve witnessed it with my firstborn.

“Mom, I’m sorry I haven’t been a good listener this morning. I love you. Hug and kiss?” she says as she looks at me through her big blue eyes.

If she were a robot, programmed to obey every word out of my mouth, those words wouldn’t mean anything. But, despite my frustration and the words I threw right back at her in response to said frustration (cue my maturity), she’d still choose me over any calmer, more even-tempered mommy in the world.

“I’m sorry too,” I say.

We started the day over.

The post-Christmas letdown

Every year when December rolls around, I dream of a chaos-free trip to pick out the Christmas tree, a mess-less kitchen full of Christmas cookies, and every night having a planned activity consisting of caroling, visiting the live nativity or watching a Christmas movie.

Instead, last year, my baby had to use a nebulizer for all of December; our dog got hit and my husband’s Grandpa was hospitalized the week before Christmas; our babysitter cancelled; and I got some virus from my Grandma’s jello that my little cousins had been sticking their fingers in all day.

I was planning a Norman Rockwell Christmas. Instead, I felt like I got jipped – I was left with Cousin Eddie, a full sewer, and a jelly-of-the-month club membership.

Don’t get me wrong – Christmas is still my favorite time of the year. I just think we put too much pressure on ourselves, especially as moms, to make all these memories and buy all these present for our kids, on top of the Oreo balls and homemade teacher’s gifts we just have to make.

And when it’s all over? We still have the gloom of winter ahead of us, even when the clamor of the new toys stops and the Christmas lights get shoved back in the box.

Our kids are on to the next thing. No matter how excited they were on Christmas morning, when they return to school, there will always be one kid in their class who get something that’s newer, bigger, or more exciting.

And then, a mere week later, there are New Year’s resolutions to be made. No pressure, right? This year, I resolved to thought about working on being more punctual. It’s not even the middle of January, and like all those unused gym memberships, my ‘winning’ streak is about as hot as the weather.

If we’re not careful, the whole season can feel like a great big fail. We forget that all of the decorating, buying, baking and anticipating are really just means to an end. An end that just may force you to think very negative thoughts about why your husband won’t just take out all the trash full of wrapping paper already!

I have to wonder if maybe Mary felt the same way. While the Bible doesn’t give many details about Jesus’ birth, she surely wasn’t spared the inevitable weight gain, mesh underwear and cracked nipples that come along with a new baby.

But one of the few things God’ word does tell us about the mother of Jesus? That she treasured all of these things and pondered them in her heart.

Although it can be a letdown to have the extended family leave, put away the pretty decorations, return to a routine and step on the scale, Mary got it right. In the midst of her circumstances – which only a short time later would have her fleeing for her son’s life to escape the murderous plot of a jealous king – she was joyful.

We haven’t taken our (very real, but can’t possibly still be alive) Christmas tree down yet. Mostly because I’m too busy catching up on Netflix, eating stale red and green cookies and dreaming of sunshine. But last night, my three-year-old said out of the blue “I want to keep our tree forever, because it means worshiping God.”

For the time being, she gets it, in spite of me and my expectations. It’s that joy – the same joy Mary treasured – that we can keep with us, long after we’ve flipped the pages to a new calendar year. I’d much rather have joy as the gift that keeps giving the whole year instead of the jelly of the month, anyways!

Seasons

Come August, and the conversation turns to pumpkin spice lattes, tall boots, football and bonfires. I, too, am a Fall lover.

But then Halloween passes and it seems everyone gets a little crankier about the weather. I, too, am not a fan of cold weather.

Seasons are always changing, but sometimes, no matter how many well-meaning gray haired ladies tell me how fast it goes (I know this, too), it feels like I’m stuck in this season of life forever.

Want to go to the dentist? Bring along 4,282 toys and still forget my kid’s favorite one. Plus, the dental tools are better toys, especially when mom can’t open her mouth to argue. Quiet time? Only before 6 a.m. Floors that stay clean? Count.us.out!

But before I start to focus on the negative (‘Cause really, I’m surprised it snows in February in Indiana?), I want to not only deal with the messes and the chaos, and the fact that I can’t go anywhere by myself. But I want to revel in it. I want to use every place and person we encounter when at the dentist’s office as a conversation with my daughter to prepare her for her grownup life. I want to meet the needs of my babies before I meet my own on-the-verge-crazy need to sweep the floor five times a day.

I just had a pretty bad case of jealousy over someone’s Facebook post about a day date she had with her husband. A day date? Huh? All the hours Matt and I have been out on a date in the last year don’t even equal a day.

I was thinking back to before we had kids. We did fun things like that, too. But I mainly remember stressing about the house we were fixing up, and not loving  working in an office all day long. We had the world ahead of us, but I didn’t see what we had right in front of us. I wish I would have enjoyed the newlywed years more instead of looking ahead.

I don’t want to live like that. I don’t want to wish away time because I’m looking forward to something seemingly more exciting.

I just read an article written by a dad of a teenagers who claimed despite the stress, fatigue and frustration, child-rearing years have been the best of his life. He cited reasons like children (as compared to teenagers) are relatively carefree; you have more control over your preschooler than teen; you get more validation from your child than your teen; there’s more ‘fun/play’ involved in raising a young child than an older one; and you have more of a primary mission/sense of purpose as a young parent.

Not sure I 100 percent agree with all of that (but I don’t have a teenager, so who am I to argue?). But I am here to tell you that potty training and battles over what to eat for lunch and ‘why can’t I wear my princess dress to the store again?’ are REAL.

If you’d have asked me in college if I’d have loved any of that, I might never have had kids. And, as much as I love a shiny floor, I will never truly find purpose in or love sweeping. But I’ve learned to love where I am. I love that my girl wants to be a princess and that my toddler wants to use the potty … even if it’s on the living room floor.

I’ve even learned to like winter. A fresh snowfall is downright beautiful. Reliving some of my funnest childhood winter pastimes with my own kids: sledding behind the 4-wheeler and then coming in to drink hot chocolate, dancing as the snow falls, and cuddling up to watch a movie or read a book. Those things slow time down, if just for that moment.

photo (46)

I used to whine about the cold and wind and ‘What were my parents thinking, raising me in the tundra?’ But now, I want to enjoy the seasons. The miracle of new life in the spring. The whirl of summer activities all day long. The smell of leaves (and pumpkin lattes) in the fall. The stillness and time to regroup of winter. And the contrast of the seasons that makes you appreciate the others more fully.

As fast as they change, we only get so many summers to lick ice cream cones, and so many springs to really feel the dirt in our hands.

photo (48)

photo (44)

photo (47)

A surprising 60-degree day in November after a Halloween snow had me and the girls outside, raking leaves and playing.

“Can I run through that pile you just raked?” FireCracker asks.

Begrudgingly, I nod yes. Leaves go flying, and so does her blonde hair. Her sister laughs as she tightens her arms around my neck. They ‘wee’ as I push them on the swings and beg for one more under doggy. We stay out until it’s dark, and supper is late. They’re sleepy and hyper and I start to regret the late evening.

photo (49)

I don’t carpe diem every moment. But the seasons, I can appreciate those.

Me too

Posting on social media is pretty much the equivalent of having a quick passing conversation with another person.

“I’m great. Just got back from vacation.”

“How fun! We’re too busy for vacation, but that’s because Johnny made the soccer team and Sarah is taking four honors classes.”

I’m not against Facebook (my time on it would tell you otherwise), and think it can be useful for connecting with and staying in touch with people. So long as we I remember it shows the highlights, not the whole story.

Can’t tell you the last time I’ve passed someone – even a close friend – and yelled out “I’m great, thanks for asking! Nearly had a breakdown and yelled at my kids a bazillion times today,” or “Just had the worst fight ever,” or “Sure, I made this creative potty chart … but then I ripped into small pieces because I’m convinced my kid won’t be potty trained before the age of 12.”

We share highlights, not the stories that might make people avoid us in the grocery store. Online, I can make you perceive me any way I want to be perceived.

Searching for inspiration for our entryway, I Googled ‘foyer.’ My thought was that our front door opens into a room that’s bigger than a typical entryway, so I thought foyer was the proper terminology. But it turns out it just made me stop thinking about home improvement projects and want to watch Gone with the Wind.

foyer 2 me too

Or go to a cathedral??

foyer 4 me too

Or, if I was feeling a tad less fancy, here this was my third option.

foyer 3 me too

The Internet seems to show what’s pretty and hide what’s not.

I’m as guilty as the next person of wanting to post an accomplishment or especially darling photo of my daughters for all my ‘friends’ to see. But in this world of online insanity, sometimes I just want to be real. I want to be real, and I want everyone else to be real too. I want to hear a ‘me too.’

I want you to know that – while not Facebook news worthy – a lot of weeks our folded laundry never makes it into the dresser. That I cannot.stop.biting.my.stinking.nails. I fight with my husband more than I’d like. I get jealous when I see pictures of my friends and/or acquaintances hanging out and I wasn’t invited. To the point where I let it ruin my day. A lot of days I don’t feel pretty. Like a lot. I regret the time I didn’t spend with my kids after they’re in bed. I slightly freak out when someone else’s 3 year old is writing words and mine just wants to argue over which pair of underwear to wear.

Instead of being honest and vulnerable, I just want to compare. My defense tells me to post something online about her learning Spanish. #thankyouDora

But more than anything, sometimes I just want to know that somewhere else someone on this planet feels the same way I do and is brave enough to talk about it.

In a way that feels all-too-timely to be random, I just sat in on a workshop at a Mom’s conference where a popular speaker and seemingly has-it-all-together, wonderful mom shared of the fear that overtook her life as a mom.

Me too.

And then I received an e-mail from an acquaintance from college:

I know you’re a farmer’s wife and have kids. How do you do it during harvest? I’m finding it really hard.

Me too.

Know deep down that you’re enough, but feel inadequate to do whatever it is you’re doing? Ever feel lonely? Question your role as a mom, wife, sister, friend? Feel discontent and you don’t know why? Don’t understand why your husband thinks it’s absurd to spend 45 minutes in Target to buy three things (somebody, please tell him this is normal!)?

Me too.

And when I’m feeling small and don’t have the courage to admit these things, I’m thankful for the people around me who do. For the experienced mom who picks up my screaming child and tells me she’s been there. For the friend who’s honest about her struggles, as well as her good times. And for the ones who pause for a minute before giving the expected ‘I’m good,’ response.

Those who are brave enough to be real. Impatiently, unpolished, imperfectly real.

And when someone else does the same? Give them the same encouragement you crave. Open up, be vulnerable, and tell them ‘me too.’

fall = harvest

I love me some flip flops, shorts, water, gardening, and, well … everything about summer. But, there’s nothing like an Indiana harvest.

Matt’s been helping over at the farm. We all love to be there!photo (41)

Gotta include our farm dog, Tink.

photo (39)

She loves to be there, too!

photo (38)

There really is nothing like the fresh air – albeit, a little full of bean dust – scenery, and reliance on God that farm life provides. Matt and I both grew up on farms and want nothing more than for our kids to do the same (only with a little less ‘farmer’ screaming outfits … but who doesn’t love red Wrangler jeans and matching red cowgirl boots, left over from my Shania Twain Halloween costume?!).

I love how the seasons help mark time. Fall is the ending of one thing, but the beginning of the next, too. A celebration of all that you’ve worked for coming to fruition.

Look at how much Firecracker has changed since last harvest.

photo (43)

photo (37)

And Smiley!

photo (42)

photo (40)