Calling All Parents!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Are we ready to start a family?

This is the question many couples ask when they come to the crossroads of entering parenthood. If you are already a parent, then you know it's daunting to step through the threshold of having a baby.

In a new survey I've constructed, I'm evaluating that very topic: How prepared did you feel when you became a parent? I'm gearing up for a new project regarding parenthood preparedness, and I NEED YOUR HELP!
I'll be keeping the survey open for several weeks, so please feel free to SHARE the link with your friends, neighbors, co-workers, family, that nice gal from Bible Study and so on... The more the merrier!

Your answers help me understand your unique experience through conception, pregnancy, and the first year after your baby was born.  It's anonymous, there's no "right" answer, and it only takes a couple minutes to complete.  Best of all, your input will contribute to helping couples in the future as they approach this sacred life stage for themselves!

Please encourage all parents you know to TAKE THE SURVEY and give their much needed input! You can even take the survey on your mobile device (woohoo for multitaskers!)

Thank you in advance - and be sure to keep your eye on the blog for future updates about this!

Y is for Yawn: The Mom Alphabet

Thursday, January 21, 2016


I've got one in Kindergarten and another headed there next fall, so the alphabet is a popular topic in our household these days. Every day we are spelling new words, learning sounds, and practicing writing those tricky curves and bumps that make up the language we love.

I love it...but it can get wearing.

So, this one's for the moms of alphabet-learners out there! Next time you are up to your neck in vowel sounds, crossing t's and dotting i's, maybe you can think of this and get that smile back on your face.

Hugs!

The Mom Alphabet

A is for Appetite, as I eat your leftover goldfish crackers for breakfast.
B is for Backwash that you leave in my water bottle after only ONE SIP.
C is for Crumbs that I vacuum up in your bed, car seat, and anywhere you've ever been.
D is for Drool that pools on your pillowcase when you finally crash for a nap.
E is for Evite for the birthday parties you get invited to nearly every weekend.
F is for Free, which you know how to spell because they are the only apps you're allowed to buy.
G is for Grocery cart that you won't sit in until it's too full of food to have room for you.
H is for Hamburger Helper which is way more work than the box makes it sound like.
I is for Instagram that lets me  filter out how tired mommy really is.
J is for Juice, which you want more of as soon as I sit down.
K is for Kale, and kale is for suckers.
L is for Laundry that never ever ever ever ends.
M is for McDonald's play land when it's winter and mommy gives up.
N is for Netflix. Enough said.
O is for Oh no, when it gets too quiet around here and I know something is up.
P is for Popcorn, which I will be vacuuming up from under our couches for the next decade.
Q is for Quarter, that I don't have for that video game over there and never will so stop asking.
R is for Reheating my coffee again and again and again.
S is for Sweaty head when you wake up from your nap and I could just eat you up.
T is for Timehop that makes me swoon and sob inside my heart each day.
U is for Uh-oh, which is never good to hear from the other room.
V is for Vacuuming. Again.
W is for What did I forget to buy at the store/put in your backpack/mark on the calendar today?
X is for eXactly how many times do I need to ask you to find your [ anything ] before we can leave?
Y is for Yawn as I tuck you in for the millionth time.
Z is for Zzzz as I fall asleep watching Downton Abbey way past my bedtime.

Ain't No One Got Time For That: True Self-Care For Mamas

Thursday, January 14, 2016

I'm really good at chatting about self-care. I have my Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy, after all. I have three children and put on deodorant today, for heaven's sake. I have a marriage that still makes me smile and remembered to schedule my six-month dentist check-up only 10 months after the last one! I mean, I'm seriously good at this self-care business, right?

If you're like me, you are great at telling others how to take better care of themselves, but slipping slowly down the sub-par slope yourself. Cringing yet?

As mothers, we deal daily in the chores of sympathy, compassion, care, and inevitably spread ourselves too thin across the needs of our family, all in the name of love. This is wonderful. This is often necessary. But, this is not sustainable. 

Yesterday, I joined a Bible Study that "I don't have time for", "It's just far enough away to be too far", "I don't even know if anyone I know will be there", "I'm not even sure what they are studying", and "I'm not sure I want to commit or feel obligated to keep going".

Sound familiar?

I can easily think of a million reasons not to go. I have plenty of dishes/laundry/cooking that I could fill that time-slot with. I didn't even want to tell anyone I was considering going in case I backed out at the last minute.

Then I remembered that in the last two years, God brought me through the absolute busiest time of my life. With two children, I got through grad school, held a part-time job, and had a book published, and somehow managed to not completely have my brain melt.

God was faithful, and while I have no desire to relive that kind of manic schedule, I know that He provides what I need when I need it - including time (and especially time to worship Him)!

I often forget that true self-care starts from the inside out. Soul care doesn't just happen on its own. 

I don't just feel joyful because of the "stuff" I have or the blessings around me. I don't just automatically desire to read the Bible every day because it's the "right thing to do". I don't constantly thank Jesus for saving me simply because I should. AND I SHOULD...but, reality holds obligations, deadlines, crying babies, phone calls, and dentist appointments that I allow to get in the way.

It's easy to think that something so basic as taking care of ourselves should come naturally. But, I'm here to tell you that it's OKAY to schedule it in. Do it!

You don't have to join a Bible Study. That's not necessarily the answer for you in the season you are in. But, how are you taking care of yourself? Wine nights with girlfriends and the occasional mani/pedi might be what most mommy blogs are urging you to do - but I'm here to ask, What are you doing to pamper your soul?

I'm learning how to do this right alongside you, mamas. I am thick in the struggle of balancing all the spinning plates while riding a unicycle, just like you are. I pray every day that I will appreciate this season, even through the groggy fog of sleep deprivation and the sounds of whiney children and the reheated cups of coffee.  It's hard.

But, let's remember who is truly spinning all those plates. It's not us. It's certainly not by my strength that my children get hugged and disciplined all in the same day. It's not by my faithfulness that food is on the table or the unfolded laundry keeps us warm day to day.

Give yourself the time-out that a mama sincerely deserves, and let us encourage one another to focus on the One from whom all blessings flow. We all got time for that.
If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. - Jeremiah 29:13 NLT 
 

Ten Resolutions for Normal Mothers (That Have Nothing To Do With Kids)

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Happy New Year! It's 2016 - the year we're all going to be healthier, calmer, and happier. Right? [Insert fear and loathing here.]

As a mother of three, every night feels like New Year's Eve to me. When my kids are finally in bed and the house gets eerily quiet, it's all I can do to fend off the mommy guilt and combat my insecurities of the day. And as the thoughts of would've-should've-could'ves come trickling in, I commit to doing better the next day.

Tomorrow I won't yell at her when she can't find her other shoe and we're ten minutes late. Tomorrow I'll have supper ready at a normal hour and it will include a vegetable. Tomorrow I'll wake up earlier and take a shower before the kids wake up. Tomorrow I'll fold that pile of laundry that's taking up the entire couch. 

This is a wearing cycle. Do you relate?

Not every day is New Year's Day. I can't keep starting over like this. Who's with me?

I need practical solutions I can conquer throughout the day so I can look back in the evening with a feeling of triumph and not disdain. I want goals that are not only attainable, but progressive and have lasting impact.

So, I've come up with Ten Resolutions for NORMAL Mothers that will help keep you focused on the true priorities that offer your kids an example rather than a new set of rules. You can do these as often or as little as you like - but, when you are feeling bogged down that "nothing got done today", try one out and feel a sense of accomplishment instead!

Here we go!

1. Thank Jesus out loud. 
It's awkward and cheesy, but nothing stops complaining like saying "Thank you Jesus for this house that keeps us warm!" in front of your children. Maybe they will even join in.

2. Hold your spouse's hand. 
At dinner. On the couch. In the car. It doesn't really matter where or for how long. But if each of you has one hand free at the same time (i.e. the planets are aligned just right) then go for it.

3. Cereal for dinner.
If it's good enough to start the day, it's good enough to end with. Your kids will thank you. Your husband will survive. Just make it a thing and when the pantry is low and your guilt starts to creep up surprise everyone with bowls on the table that night. Voila.

4. Like stuff.
What do you like? I like coffee and I like cardigans and I like red lipstick even though I don't really wear it since I smooch my baby a lot and don't want her covered in splotches. There, was that so hard? When you feel worried about irrational things or have negative thoughts, start naming things you like and get to know why you like the stuff you like. It's amazing how much time can pass without someone asking you what you like - so ask yourself!

5. Get hooked on a TV show.
Congratulations! Chances are good you've already conquered this one. Keep at it. I know this sounds crazy, but in this chaotic phase of life with diaper blow-outs and Kindergarten politics, I need some seriously out-there fictional drama to look forward to now and then. It's okay to escape. It's okay to be entertained. And if you can't add this to your list of resolutions that you accomplish this year, I'm not sure we can be friends. Just sayin.

6. Wash your face, breathe, repeat.
You have time for this. It feels great. You need to do it. I know it feels silly to say these things, but when you are packing lunches and wiping little bottoms all day, even the most basic self-care can get tossed to the side when all you want to do is sleep. But, I have found that washing my face even in the middle of the day or to kickstart the morning or just before bed (so, anytime ever really) is more than cleansing for the pores, it just makes me calmer. It's a reset button that's just one washcloth away. You can do it.

7. Put shoes on.
I don't know if there's any research on this, but I get at least twice as much done in a day if I'm wearing shoes. It feels like I have somewhere to go, something to do, some place to be.  And I do! Even if it is, right here, sitting, folding laundry for my family.

8. Drink a glass of water.
I don't know anybody who drinks enough water. If the whole day is shot - then drink a glass of water and pat yourself on the back. Your body with thank you and it forces you to slow down for at least that moment. Bonus points if you say a prayer of gratitude for having clean water to drink while doing it!

9. Read a verse. 
Just one. Any book of the Bible. Any chapter. Yes, it would be lovely to sit down for an hour and sip coffee while getting out a Beth Moore study or highlighting a series of topics throughout the Word. There are days for that, and I hope they are many. But, some days your Bible gathers dust and you can't seem to recall if Hosea was in the Old Testament or the New Testament and you just need a hug. YOU ARE A NORMAL, CHRISTIAN MOTHER. And just one verse can travel to your core and give you peace that surpasses your understanding. On the days you just can't get any quiet time - google a verse and read it. You have time for that.

10. Smile in the mirror.
Be a dork. Just do it. Enjoy your face and try to see what everyone else gets to see the rest of the day. Even if your hair is a mess and you have spinach in your teeth (and by spinach I mean Oreos, of course) you look better with a smile. The action itself releases endorphins in your brain to trigger happy chemicals that can help you stay calm when you find your toddler coloring on the wall in the next room. Smile at yourself - it makes it a lot easier to smile at everyone else too.

This may not be the year you get out of debt or lose 30 pounds or cook every meal from scratch. Maybe you've already blown your resolutions and are frustrated with your willpower. It's going to be okay. You're in good company.

My kids don't need a thinner, perfectly organized, robot-mother. They need me. And I didn't decide that - God did! So, the best thing I can offer them in the new year is an honest human who's depending on Jesus openly. The other stuff will get done as needed...it always does.

This year I'm trying to focus less on what I'm doing and more on what I'm learning. I'm trying to stay honest with myself and keep my priorities centered more around the things that last forever (Jesus, relationships, gratitude) and allow myself the freedom to let go of the things that are temporary (dirty dishes, crumbs in the bunk bed).

Tonight, as I inevitably fold the clothes I'm neglecting in my dryer right now, I'm going to choose to thank Jesus out loud for the opportunity to live today and enjoy the little faces I get to hug on and kiss goodnight. And, instead of saying "I'll do better tomorrow", I'm going to rest in the assurance that today had plenty of purpose all its own.
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