Thursday, April 26, 2012

Last night, Josh and I were fortunate to steal away a couple hours to ourselves.  After our girls went to bed and the babysitter arrived, we slipped out the door, eager to get some quiet time for just the two of us. It wasn't going to be anything super special.  In fact, we had finalized our plans for the night only a few hours prior.  We decided to go to an old date spot of ours, The Olde Ship, a cozy little English pub that is just blocks away.  Nothing extravagant...just a calm (on a Tuesday night, anyway) little dive with great fish and chips.

As we sat across from each other, we took a moment of exhaustion as we gazed into each others' eyes.  That is, sometimes on date night it takes a second to just SIT and BE with each other before you can get into a groove of actually being decent company.  It brings back memories of before I lived in California.  Back when I was living in Nashville and only texting and emailing and (dare I say it) "myspacing" this cute boy in California.  Then, when we finally got to see each other in person, it took some strange "warming up time" to match up my brain with my speech with my actions and feel comfortable.  To remember "Ah yes, I know you!  You ARE that same clever person with the cute emoticons and snappy comebacks.  Plus, you are so cute! Score!"  

So, this is what was running through my head as I stared aimlessly at my husband and order a pint of Smithwicks.  It was refreshing to take a deep breath with him.  It was cleansing to my soul to intentionally not be talking about our children.  And it hit me like a ton of bricks that for the first time in a long while, I had absolutely no agenda to task him with.

Agenda? You might be wondering.

You know.  Agenda.  That long list of things that pile up in our heads throughout the day that we've been meaning to talk to another adult about?  That stack of to-dos that cloud up our brains until we finally get him alone and all to ourselves and he is sitting there hoping to kiss you and all you can think about is whether to ask him if he could watch the girls for your chiropractor appointment next Thursday and did he get a chance to call the Discount Tire Center and has he heard from his friends who had their baby last week and would he rather have steak or pork chops for dinner a week from tomorrow?????? Oh, right.  Agenda.

And here I sat...agenda-less!  I finally spoke this to him, out loud.

I have nothing to say!  And it's wonderful!

So, I listened!  I totally forgot about my two sleeping daughters at home, I thoroughly enjoyed (and I mean - ate every single bite) of my drenched-in-malt-vinegar fish and chips, and sipped my Smithwicks as my husband and I engaged in real honest-to-goodness conversation.  Sports, tv, work, ideas, dreams, silly Hollywood gossip, this podcast he's listening to, that thing I saw on the Today show last week...whatever.  The point is - HE was interesting, I was interesting - we SHARED interests and just had a great time.

It isn't just important to get out of the house and look into each others eyes and talk about common's necessary.  And I don't think I've ever really felt that until last night.  I mean, sure, I've talked about date night in the past.  We know it is important to keep the marriage first.  But, amidst the daily between baby feedings and laundry and asking him to take out the trash and getting off the phone with your mother and planning another meal and did he pick up the dry cleaning....well, we're all just too often exhausted to put much effort beyond curling our eye lashes and ordering an appetizer to engage in actual conversation with our spouse that is strictly entertaining!

Frankly, it's not an intentional kind of avoidance either!  Usually I will spend half my day thinking "I wish Josh was here to see this" or "Oh, I gotta remember to tell Josh that" and then he gets home and I "task" away on him and by the time the girls are in bed I just want to shut up and eat cookie dough and watch How I Met Your Mother.  It's not personal, it's just the business of parenthood.

And, so, who are we really becoming?

A couple of parents...or a couple that parents.

I hope it's the latter.  I'm so thankful to have a husband I find interesting.  I'm so thankful to have a fun and friendly fellow by my side.  I'm so thankful I'm married to a guy that gets excited with me when we realize we accidentally just walked out the door wearing matching yellow shoes (true story, see pic).  I'm thankful to even know a guy willing to wear yellow shoes!  HA!  I'm thankful to not only be completely in love with a guy I find irresistibly charming, but get the privilege of attacking the giant challenge that is parenthood alongside him.

And, that's more than just a couple of reasons I need to remember to sometimes just put away the tasks for a night, listen and stare at my husband, and take a refreshingly deep sigh in the awkward silence of our togetherness.  This couple is for keeps.

Planting Memories

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I was only supposed to pick up a few herbs. That's it, just a little parsley and basil to replant into the tiny pots where my previous attempt had died a few months prior. You would think having grown up on a farm that I may have inherited a thumb as green as grass, but you would be acutely mistaken. The fact that my tomato plant is blooming and producing edible vegetation at all is a constant reminder that miracles happen.

I am the worst gardener I know. I will neglect my plants for days, forget to water them, let them burn in the sun, and then be shocked and disappointed that we can't make a salad out of our yard. I have perfectly delightful intentions! If intentions worked as well on plants as sun and water, then by all means I would have the Garden of Eden back there, I swear it. But, alas, my herbs have dried up and the ones that have made it this far are clearly the sturdiest of the bunch. I am hoping this summer will bring me a little more motivation to keep them growing...after all, I love to cook and I love to save money, so it seems the next logical step to grow something cheap and edible where I get to enjoy the best of both worlds!

So, the girls and I were off to Lowe's for a little "garden improvement". I had minimal funds and only the under-the-stroller compartment to contain what we needed, so I figured it was pretty safe to just go, get a few herbs, come home and make a mess of ourselves outside in the hot sun. A nice, relatively simple activity to take on with a 2-year-old and a 9-month-old (which is never actually "simple"). Josh was gone working all day, so it would be a nice Saturday surprise for him to return to.

I'm not sure when it hit me, probably somewhere between lugging a bag of soil (while pushing a stroller and making sure Matilda didn't run off into the lumberyard) and buying some flowers that were on sale...but, that moment of Lowe's-commercial-inspiration knocked me over the head. Color. That's what we needed! Color! And sure enough, not a moment later we are in the paint department going wild.

While Matilda starts yanking swatches down from the displays, "Mom-mom! Look! Brownie! Orangie! Bluuuuue! Purrrrrple!" (she was in a rainbow wonderland of imagination) I inquired with the strapping young lad behind the paint counter as to how one might go about painting a concrete birdbath. And, just like in the commercials (but with worse music and longer waiting time), the Lowe's lad hooked me up and we were on our way - turquoise paint and primer in tow.

Now...if you think that the idea of giving your backyard (albeit, only a few hundred square feet) a mini-makeover with a toddler and baby as your sidekicks sounds like a brilliant would be mistaken. (ha!) I know, I know, it was a totally spontaneous thought that developed into an entire day's activity...but, here I was with plants and dirt and paint and babies, sitting outside in the hot sun wondering why HGTV hasn't gotten me my own show yet. I mean, come on!

After many scoops of dirt, trimming of plants, yanking of weeds, a few snack breaks, many crying fits (mostly the babies), priming, painting, and hours of blood, sweat, and tears later...
Before................................and After

Tada! We did it. I still can't believe it! Both Matilda and I completely ruined our clothes. We were such a hot mess, that even after scrubbing in a hot shower we had remnants of paint and dirt still surfacing. It was actually a blast though, to throw caution (and Miracle Grow) into the wind and let our creative, inner-gardener out for the day. The beauty of planting something straight from the pot is that it is already lovely - already flowering and fruitful - and has no idea it is about to be planted into a home where many-a-plant previously met their doom. So...for the moment, we have a delightful little backyard: herbs, flowers, and an inviting birdbath that Matilda is counting on attracting "many tweet-tweets".

I'll be honest. I don't really know how long it will last. I am going to try to be better about tending this sweet little area, offering whatever TLC I can give in between the million other things on my daily to-do list. But, even if the weeds grow, or the herbs dry out, or the flowers die...I'll always have the memory of the day Matilda and I (Daphne, cheering us on from her highchair) got good and filthy and practically turned into Smurfs by painting our silly birdbath.

Three dirty girls and a turquoise birdbath. I'm sure HGTV will be calling any day now.

The Write Stuff

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

A word about writing. I've been doing an awful lot of writing lately, and I thought I'd just take a minute and let you in on my life as a writer. If you are reading this, then you are the reason I am so thankful this Thursday. I never thought I would be a writer with an audience, let alone have the potential to reach people I might not even know. So, thanks to you and thanks to the "interwebs", here we are. Hello.

I can't remember the first time I was really inspired to write. I remember in grade school that my best friend, Jessica, and I would make up stories and I would usually try to illustrate what she so giftedly wrote. We were going to grow up and be a writing/illustrating team, marry blonde handsome ski-instructor brothers, and live in log cabins that overlooked the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. This plan seemed ideal and totally plausible...until I hit fourth grade and realized that my illustration skills had already hit their peak and the likelihood of this collaboration started to lose its footing.

Then, in high school, I had a promising time passing an "English Comp I" class. I enjoyed the instructor and it was the first time I may have felt creative and good at something all at the same time. Still, my interest remained in the dramatics, and I set my sights on something "higher"...acting. (Okay, you can stop laughing now.)

Fast-forward to college. I came out to California at the ripe age of 17, jumping into student films wholeheartedly with both feet. While my intention grew toward acting, I couldn't help but allow my attention to be drawn towards writing. I had a couple very encouraging and influential professors who very candidly took me aside and essentially said "If you want a family someday, you should write." Acting wasn't going to allow me the lifestyle I truly desired. Writing, however, might. As a film student, at the time, this meant one thing: screenplays. And, so, I wrote screenplays. There is a little something you may or may not know about me...I've written about 7 screenplays in my life. Whew. Some interesting, some terrible, all of which are gathering dust and helping hold up books on a shelf in my dining room. Still, they have all helped get me here...just like each and every post I type. Practice, practice, practice.

Now, I'm writing the most regularly I've written since being in school. And it feels great. I am finding a niche. I am feeling out my audience (wink!). I am working hard to just keep the words coming and praying often about what you all might want to hear or read about next.

Writing feels like a workout to me. I have to do it to keep wanting to do it. I might drag myself to it beforehand, but then feel so refreshed and back in balance after it is over. I am my biggest critic and almost always feel insecure until I hit "publish" and just let it go. Then, when I'm free of it, I just feel better all around.

Writing is work. It is mentally taxing to search for the right words or analogies or phrases. It feels uncomfortable and familiar at the same time, like catching up with an old friend you haven't seen in person for years. I love it, I hate it, I need it. It's a strange gift that only God can motivate, and I'm thankful for that. I am thankful for people who ask me "Are you writing?" as if to nudge me to keep it up, even through the thick of it...that is, the years of muck that you have to write and have people read before you start to get a knack for it.

I hope I'm starting to get a knack for it. I hope you stick with me on this whole "writing a blog" journey until we are both sick of each other and our kids are grown and the internet is the most uncool thing you can pass time doing, yet you still click on "pardymama" just to see how this old kook is doing these days. I hope we weave a rich history that becomes an integration of exchanges - one post and one comment at a time.

Thanks, folks, for reading this silly little blog that has taken over the creative/vulnerable/needy part of my brain. Some days I will spew some blessings of genius that the Lord has put in my heart...and other days I will reflect the bottomless pit of hap-hazardous mayhem that is my life as a mother and wife. For the first time, maybe ever, I'm starting to feel like an actual "writer", thanks for letting me have this little moment to self-indulge and offer up a post of gratitude just for you.

The pen...mightier than the sword and a lot less awkward than a side-hug. You can quote me on that. ;)

Gummy Bear

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Daphne baby will be 9 months this Friday. NINE months. Didn't I just announce that we were expecting her? Didn't we just find out she was a girl? And, weren't we debating names for her just yesterday? Oh me oh my, I can't even get a grip on it.
And now, we've had a month full of milestones for her to top it all off. It was only a few weeks ago that she started to really crawl. Not the belly-on-the-floor "army" crawl, but I mean really hands-and-knees start to get mobile (yikes!) Our days have become filled with shouts of "No Daphne!" and "No cords, baby! Let go!" as she inevitably seems to navigate her way straight to a power outage on each and every journey she embarks. Not only has she mastered crawling, but now she pulls herself up to standing - in her crib, at the couch, the ottoman, anything! And she has entered into the "I-think-I-can-walk-but-I-actually-can't-so-I-just-topple-and-hit-my-head-every-ten-minutes-instead" phase, which is really creating a peaceful environment for mommy (ha).

But, the change with the most impact occurring right now, is that this little lady is finally getting some teeth! Four at once, in fact. The whole top row seems to have just barely peeked through overnight, like a garden that has woken up to springtime. Tiny little teeth buds, making their debut to my daughter's smile, how sweet.

Babies go through so many insanely vast changes within the first year, it continues to boggle my mind. When they are first born, my husband and I lovingly refer to newborns as having "squishy face" syndrome. You know what I'm talking about - all new babies have that little face that is wrinkly and red and soft, so soft, that it truly is, in fact, squishy! Then, about six weeks or so later, they start to "get their face" so to speak. They are blinking and smiling at you. A bit of personality is chirping up between bouts of crying and sleeping. They react to you and know your voice and you can start to see which one of you she might actually resemble. Their skin has adjusted to the outside world and their eyes are huge with every little glance of something new. It's not long before more dominant features start to show definition. By 6 months, they are labeled "smiley" or "happy baby" or "chunky buns" or whatever might stick out to you when you look at them. They are real little people, growing and changing right before our eyes.

Daphne was plump and round right from the start (having been born a week late at a whopping 9 lb 5 oz!) and so we called her "little bear" from the get-go. She just looked like a little bear to me. And so, of course, as is Pardy-tradition around here, many more nicknames sprung up from "bear": "Daph-a-bear", "Mini-bear", "Bitty-bear", "Baby-bear", and when you look at that big, toothless smile, it's not hard to imagine where "Gummy-bear" got its start.

My little Gummy Bear is growing up, like it or not. And soon those little teeth will be filling her mouth and changing that little smile and giving her face an entirely new look altogether. It's so weird. Honestly, the whole "teething" bit just kind of freaks me out. Your sweet baby is going through their life, happy as a clam and then WHAM!

"Oh, sorry sweet one, that throbbing pain you are feeling in your mouth is just bits of bone trying to grow their way through your sensitive gum-line. Once it pierces through, after many sleepless nights of tears and anguish, you'll be able to enjoy new activities, like chewing food and biting your sister back."

I wish we could explain it to her. I wish she could understand that it was worth it or tell me what I could do to help her. And I wish I could make her understand how gosh darn cute she has been for the last eight months and how I have treasured her little gummy smiles. Matilda had four teeth by four months old, so the fact that Daphne is almost nine months has truly been a fun, much more manageable pace for me to appreciate this time around.

I know there are many milestones to come for this wee one. I am excited to see, at her own pace, how she grows into the little beauty she will become. Each little phase of babydom is precious, with its own triumphs and challenges along the way. I know I will fall in love with her toothy smile just as much (or more!) as I have with this gummy one; but, of course with each new chapter comes a bit of sadness and sentimentality for this mama. Still, there are three months left to this first year with my lil Daph-a-bear. And, no doubt, she will be bringing smiles to my face for many more to come.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Well, apparently I've been taking water for granted. I know this, now, because the other day we woke up to a sputtering faucet that went dry and sudden panic struck our home. No. Water. NO WATER?!? Then there is that sinking feeling that you have to call the landlord, find out what's going on, and anticipate the worst. Sure enough, some leak in some pipe somewhere needed fixing, so the water on our whole block was shut off for "probably all day" which almost always means "definitely all day and maybe longer".

Thank goodness we are "night showerers", so we all smelled relatively fine for not having water in our pipes. Still, the dirty dishes from the night before sat in the sink and we prayed our children wouldn't cause too huge of accidents throughout the day to dictate a need for a hosing-down (no promises). We were sort of pathetic. I mean, we still had our electricity! (Thank goodness!) But, you'd be surprised at how you just get in the habit of hitting that faucet or flushing that toilet or getting that drink...again and again I would totally forget, only to be frustrated and disappointed at the turn of the handle. Ugh! Where's my water!?

Finally, Josh ran down to our local grocery store and picked up a couple jugs. Our day seemed brighter as we could now brush our teeth and pretend we were camping in our own home (this is about as close to camping as the Pardys get anyway). We adapted easily to pouring water into cups or tapping the giant jug's spout to wash up.

And that's when it hit me: I've totally been taking water for granted.

Yes, we all do, I suppose. We live in a country where we can shower multiple times a day if we feel like it. We can boil water to cook with the ease of turning a handle. We can even play in water for sport or fun and not think anything of it. And then, we are reminded from time to time that there are others less fortunate. We see an ad at Christmas of a little African village you can donate to. We hear about friends raising funds for missions that are going to build a well somewhere. We may even give up drinking anything but water for lent so we can do our part for social justice.

But, there's nothing like just being home, and watching your little girl pretend to be a dolphin in her tub of suds to make you stop and be thankful, so thankful, for water. I know it sounds simple, silly maybe, but that's what got me. I don't have to walk for my water. I don't have to dig for it or haul it in buckets. I don't have to wonder where my next glass of water will come from to quench my thirst. And you know, that's okay. I'm not here to say "Feel bad for being privileged" or "give to this organization" or whatever. (Though certainly you know of one already that is worthwhile and if this stirs you...give!) But none of those movements mean anything without starting with one simple step: be grateful.

I watch Matilda take her bath with sheer joy and completely free of worry. She dunks her belly in, splashes about, spits on her own toes, and plummets her tub toys in and out between the bubbles and suds that surround her. She loves bath time, and it's a good thing since she needs one nearly daily! And it humbled me to go without water for one day (not even 24 hours!) to be able to stop and recognize how ridiculously blessed we are to have it.

Water is such a simple substance, yet so essential to our lives. So essential that we are greatly debilitated to go without it, even here in my privileged little bubble. I will never know the pains some have had to endure to have to get their water through difficult, even dangerous, means. I know it is a great need that truly only our God can provide and solve. But, I can do something daily to help my perspective, to help keep my focus in the right direction...every time I turn that little knob, I can be grateful, and pray for those who don't have it so easy. I can do that. It doesn't require any monthly pledge. It doesn't pressure me into giving up something (though, probably I should). It doesn't come with any guilt over what to do about an issue you or I most likely won't solve ourselves.

The truth of the matter is that most of us are home, taking showers and sipping coffee we probably won't even finish. Most of us are busy and forgetful and only feel bad when we hear stories of poverty. So, it's easier to turn up the music, play with our iPhones, click on the tv and take our kids to the park and most of the time not stop and think about how others are struggling to survive the day. That is the brutal reality.

yes, I washed my sink just for this photo

So, if you are like me, and you aren't planning any missions trips anytime soon, or you can't dig any wells for a village somewhere or you are just not even sure where to start with it all...start here: be grateful, pray for others. And one more...stay thirsty. Thirsty to help where and when we can. Thirsty to seek out opportunity if it presents itself. Thirsty to follow where God leads us to give. Thirsty to stay reminded of how blessed we all are.

Yes, maybe with enough hope and heart we can change the world with God's help. Maybe our children will find the solution or even their children's children. But, in the meantime, while we're busy updating our Facebook and turning on another Yo Gabba Gabba...let's start with just teaching our children to know the truth and to say thanks for something as simple as water. And, the next time my water gets turned off unexpectedly, maybe I'll be able to respond with a little more humility and a little less frustration. Here's hoping.

**Please, if you know of a legit charity that helps provide water to those in need, list it in the comments below! I'd love to help give a shout-out to those actively making a difference.

Piece of Cake

Monday, April 9, 2012

Disciplining a toddler is like baking a cake. Not a box cake. Not a Duncan Heinz you can throw together at the last minute, no. But, a scrumptious, delicately concocted masterpiece made from real eggs you cracked yourself, real flour you speckled your apron with when you sifted it, and real butter and sugar that you can't help yourself from sampling when you add it in.

Disciplining a toddler is like homemade cake. You know it will work in your head. You've seen it in real life, done by others with perfect results. You've even gotten a taste of it and been inspired to try it yourself. You follow the rules exactly. A recipe so specific is bound to have perfect results, right? Sometimes. Sometimes you serve up a masterpiece. You couldn't be more proud. And other times...well, other times you are embarrassed of the finished product. Other times you are left wringing your hands wondering how something you made yourself could have such a disastrous outcome when you did exactly the same thing you did before when everything turned out fine.

Disciplining a toddler is a piece of cake. Sometimes it is just the boost you need to sweeten your day - to see your little human sit in that corner diligently, learn her lesson, come back to you apologetically and lovingly kiss you with remorse. And other times it is nothing but a heap of guilt on a plate of confusing emotions. So frustrating that too much in one sitting can make you sick to your stomach.

Time out. Ugh. In theory it works like a dream. Your child is naughty, you explain to them that's not okay, they sit in the corner until the timer dings, at which point the child lovingly returns to explain why they are sorry for what they did. Yeah, right...sometimes. But, just like that recipe for the perfect cake, it doesn't always go like you planned. Some variable has slipped in that you didn't/couldn't account for. While humidity, larger eggs, colder butter or unsifted flour can make all the difference between dessert or waste...a missed nap time, a tooth coming in, a misunderstanding or just plain naughty willfulness can spin a child's discipline out of control. Suddenly the Norman Rockwell painting of your life looks more like a Jackson Pollack, and your left wondering how to interpret the last five minutes of what just happened.

It's wearing. You want so badly for them to just freaking GET IT. I mean, how many times do I have to say Don't lay on your sister. Don't sit on your sister. Don't bite your sister. Don't hit your sister. Don't kick your sister. Don't touch your sister. JUST LEAVE YOUR SISTER ALONE! Oh my gosh, I seriously think I might have it tattooed on her somewhere. How do you reason with a two-year-old who so desperately wants her 8-month-old sister to be sturdy enough to wrestle with. And, really, it's all fun and games until the baby topples over and smacks something and then they are both upset.

Good grief. How do I explain to a two-year-old that I'm (like it or not) in charge and I've been deemed the one responsible to make sure the three of us make it alive through the rest of the day? You can't. (I try, believe me.) So, you discipline. Don't do this. Do that. Simple, concise, straight to the point. Seems easy enough, right? Until you do it again and again and again until you think you are certifiable (after all, isn't doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome the definition of insanity???)

I am, however, a big fan of "the timeout". Not even so much for the kid as for the parent! Whew, mama needs you to sit in the corner before I pull my own hair out and call daddy to come home for the afternoon, okay? I need just as much the one or two or three minute timer to allow me to step away and think clearly and grab a breath before I have to do it all over again. I need a second to contemplate my next move and be able to welcome her back with open arms of forgiveness. And, especially on the occasion that she is in the corner because she has yelled at me or even so much as thought about raising an arm or foot in my direction - so help me, I need to gain some perspective before wanting to just react in defense.

Did anyone ever tell me how physically demanding parenthood is??? That picking up a flailing 30 lb toddler who is trying with all her might to flee the scene of the crime requires muscles I never knew I had. And, then forcing her into a corner and allowing her to scream in my ears until she's "done her time" is both emotionally and mentally exhausting? Teaching a toddler those little lessons can be a downright workout! Am I raising the next Jillian Michaels here, or is it just me?

But, once in a while, we will see a glimmer of hope. Something will stick from who-knows-what-episode and their little head will recall the difference between getting their way and doing the right thing. Today, though she found herself in the corner a few times, Matilda actually practiced self-control right in front of me. She has only purposefully hit or kicked a handful of times in the past - it's not really in her usual arsenal of naughtiness - but, today she got instantly mad and held up her fist ready to hit me...and she stopped. I watched her change her mind. I watched her take a deep breath. I watched her make a good decision and keep herself out of that corner a little while longer.

Disciplining a toddler is a piece of cake. And when it is successful, there is nothing sweeter.

I know we have a lifetime of rules, guidelines, prayers, boundaries, and decisions ahead of us in parenthood. I know it is a long road to try and hope to shape our kids into productive and kind persons. I know it will take a lot more timeouts in the corner before she even understands not to put her baby sister in a headlock (sigh). But, I'm hopeful that the recipe...while ever-changing and always being perfected...only gets sweeter along the way.

And that sounds really delicious to me.

Good News!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Easter!
Okay, okay, okay...wait a minute. It's April??? It's Easter? Does anyone else feel like we just got done packing away the Christmas ornaments? (Oh wait, maybe that's my fault for having actually just packed away the last of the Christmas decor...)

Well, indeed, the hunt for eggs and all things pastel is upon us. This weekend is full of fun and joy for the Pardy clan. Coloring eggs, hiding/hunting them, getting dolled up in our Easter Sunday best, and gorging ourselves silly at brunch. He is Risen! He is Risen! Pass the ham, He is Risen!

I jest. While all of the above are true, certainly I can't let another holiday morph the original intention of what Jesus has done for us into some candy-covered-vinegar-dyed-chocolate-bunny-hopping-day-of-perpetual-gluttony. Heavens, no. (Though, I'll admit it is ridiculously cute that Matilda calls the Easter Bunny "Boing Boing"!) While I love that my girls get excited at the sight of petticoats and white patent leather shoes...I hope that they quickly learn the true meaning of Easter starts on Friday. "Good Friday." Followed by what I like to call "Even Better Sunday".

Good news! Good news! The stone has been rolled away! Jesus is no longer there, He is Risen! He is ALIVE!

As we read the Easter story to Matilda, I can see the wonder and confusion building in her brain as only a 2 year old can muster.

Death, life, angels.
Sadness, joy, excitement.
Church, bunnies, dress.

These must be the wheels that are turning inside that little head, and I can only pray (and repeat, repeat, repeat the story) that what sinks down into her heart is the truth, and not some distorted view that comes out something like "...and then The Easter Bunny rolled the stone away and Jesus brought us all candy!" which is probably closer to what she is actually thinking right now.

That's okay. Let it simmer. I'm the parent, not the Holy Spirit (can I get an AMEN!?) I can't force feed her the gospel message. (That's what vegetables are for.) I can't turn her little heart into a servant's longing or mold her soul into a soft, truth-seeker. But, I can trust God and I can love her something fierce and I can repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat (repeat) the truth to her like a broken record that never ends. And I can explain it to her the best I can. And I can believe it and live it myself each day, honestly and openly, and imperfectly (this last one I do very well!)

And I can do it all with joy and candy and white patent leather shoes too! Yes! Just like we do with Christmas and Halloween, the Pardys (hey, we're nothing if not celebratory, right?) embrace the fun right along with the truth. Afterall, God made the bunnies, and if they want to bring us candy in little eggs once a year, why, who am I to put a stop to that?

Besides, the Easter Bunny provides something else along with candy...a healthy dose of Stranger Danger. Yikes. We brought the girls to visit the Easter Bunny in the mall last weekend, and, as you can see by the classic photo...Matilda has her suspicions. Pay no attention to the man behind the bunny mask!

I'll admit, the giant bunny man is sort of creepy. But, when she saw him from a distance she LOVED him. Honestly, she was waving and blowing kisses and wanted to hug him...until it actually came time to hug him, then instinct set in and there wasn't enough candy in the world to get that girl up on his lap. Still, get two girls in matching Easter dresses and I don't care where they're sitting - they are going to be goshdarnCUTE.

So, Happy Easter from the Pardys. Eat your ham. Gnaw on some chocolate bunny ears. Take another handful of jelly beans. But, please, take a moment to stop at the cross. Remember how our Jesus took on our sins (whoa) and died and was buried. Gone. Dead. And then, conquered death on our behalf and rose again. ALIVE. The miracle of all miracles that keeps me waking up every morning able to breath and cry and love again.

Tell your children the good news. Again and again. I have faith it will one day sink in deeper than any chocolate bunny.

He is Risen!

After Midnight

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

After five years of marriage and two kids, things start to get uncomfortably comfortable around the house. That is, it becomes easier and easier to slip into bad habits, put less effort into things, or actually start to resent the familiarity of one's routine. Idiosyncrasies that were once charming (He combs his mustache with his fingers when he's trying to think of what to say - so cute!!) become alarmingly annoying (He won't stop grooming that stupid mustache with his fingers that he probably didn't even wash after supper - gross!) And, well, the union between two very different individuals can start to show signs of discourse if not attended to immediately.

That being said, marriage can be hard enough at times even before children enter the picture. So, taking our covenant with the utmost sincerity and seriousness, Josh and I have (for better or for worse) developed sort of "rules" that help us uphold Team Pardy, maintaining our sanity and helping to fill the cracks in this foundation we call marriage. After all, keeping Christ first and our spouses a very close second is the only option if we are gonna make it through life/parenthood/the-next-five-minutes alive! Whew!

So, today I'm shedding light on one of these "rules". Yep, just one. Trust me, you're gonna want to pace yourselves...Team Pardy works hard and plays even harder, after all. Anyway, it works for us, and I'm sure there will only be more and more added to the list as the journey continues for years to come.

The "After Midnight" rule came-to-be sometime shortly after Matilda arrived. I remember the night well. As you might have guessed by my many posts on being a zombie, Matilda was not a good sleeper right from the start. She would cry and fuss and claw at me with relentless and freakish strength I thought only baby grizzly bears could be born with. She wasn't necessarily "unhappy"...she was just active. This particular night, the darling child would not shut her eyes. She would not rest.
We were going on only a handful of hours of sleep over the last few days and Josh was trying to push himself through a full-time job during the day, unable to take the occasional catnap that I was attempting to sneak in during daylight. We were exhausted to say the least. The redbull and coffee had worn off. The second and third wind had died to a dusty, desert cough.

I remember "shushing" her and swaying her until my back ached, the soles of my feet were swollen and my eyelids kept springing open and shut like a cartoon window shade. She just kept crying. Finally, I made Josh take over. I was at my limit and I just needed this new daddy to step up to the plate and get this baby to sleep somehow.

I remember laying in bed, too tired to cry or form tears that my emotions were brewing underneath the dull glaze one could see on my outside. I couldn't help my baby. I didn't know what to do. And Josh wasn't doing any better. He rocked her, he shushed her, he hummed...she screamed. The minutes ticked by and suddenly, out of seemingly nowhere, over the top of her cries I hear my husband (my sweet and thoughtful husband, the love of my life and father to my new child) erupt with fierce exclamation "I WANT TO THROW HER THROUGH THE WINDOW!"

I darted out of bed, yanked the screaming babe from his arms and sought haven in the nursery. I burst into tears and rocked the little terror until we were both soaked with our own tears. I couldn't believe it - Who was that man in the other room and what had he done with my husband? I was already beyond tired and emotional and had no more wits left to even think about finding their ends. I wanted somebody to rock me to sleep and explain who that monster was who was now soundly sleeping in my bed. WHAT had happened to my husband?

I'll tell you what. 2am and no sleep is what.

By morning, he got ready for work (albeit, groggy looking) but no worse for wear. No explanation, no apology, no remorse. He kissed us both goodbye and left for work...leaving me to wonder if what I had experienced the night before had all been a horrible dream. Is this charming fellow the same jerk who wanted to throw my bundle of joy through the window last night? Am I married to Jekyll or Hyde?

Needless to say, we sorted it out. It took a few talks and a whole lot of coffee, but we came to an understanding that we've found many couples can relate to. Given a highly emotional situation, women tend to resort to emotional responses (crying) and men tend to react with anger (yelling, shutting down, or wanting to throw a child through a bedroom window are apparently all natural responses in this situation). So, what's a couple to do when it is 3am, emotions are running high, and you end up snapping at each other as if you'd never met a worse enemy (and JUST at the moment you could really use a partner)?? How do you wake up and kiss each other and act like you didn't purposefully throw that pacifier in his face to get him to wake up and get the baby????

Well, if you are a Pardy, you do just that. Because nothing after midnight counts. That is, we don't hold anything we say against each other the next morning. Nothing between the hours of midnight to 6am are begrudged or used to argue a point. It just doesn't count. It can't. We're too tired and we don't mean it. It really is that simple.

Now, when I say "simple"...don't mistake this for being "easy". It's not. There have been many times that I can still draw to memory how I felt sad or angry that my husband was not more helpful at 2 in the morning - or how I resented the fact that I was blessed with the bosoms to nurse our hungry child in the middle of the night while my beloved snored soundly next to me. But, there also come to mind many times I was short with him, rude to him, and downright inconsiderate of the fact that he had to get up in a couple hours, present himself as awake and sharp, and go earn a living that we both are so grateful for. take a deep breath, you ask God for more grace, you forgive your spouse...then you go to sleep (eventually) and wake up with a smile and pour them coffee and kiss them goodbye for the day. And you don't bring it up again. Ever.

The "After Midnight" rule has even become something of a humorous staple in our home. There have been enough times now, with two youngins to care for, that we will actually find ourselves commiserating and even laughing about it in the morning. Sure, maybe we are both just too out-of-our-minds-tired to choose arguing over laughing about it...but, that's kind of the point. It just doesn't matter. It really, truly (and, believe me, I know this is hard to recall at 3am) doesn't matter who gets up to get the stupid pacifier for the baby...or change her diaper...or find that burp rag...or change those crib sheets (oh, that's the worst!) Just do it. Or let him. Or whatever the heck will be the most efficient way to get you back to bed as soon as possible - do that. Go to bed angry. Just go to bed.

And, when you wake up in the morning, remember that you hold the potential to set the tone for the day. He's not a monster. He does want to help you. He won't throw your baby out the window. He just needs a hug and some coffee, just like you do.

I'm so thankful for my husband. On this thankful Thursday, I just want to say how grateful I am for a gentleman that sticks by me and loves our babies so well...and restrains his anger to the midnight beast that so desperately requires rest...and who forgives me and my big mouth each and every morning.

Team Pardy. Rock on.

Crazy Pills

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Pretty often, maybe even daily, my husband and I will be watching our children, blinking hard past our exhaustion and find ourselves once again asking the same question we asked the day before: How do people do this every day?

Parenthood, that is. I mean, is it this hard for everyone? Are all parents just sitting in a daze all wondering if everyone else is wondering if it is this hard for them too?

The other Sunday, we were once again in the "wiggle room" with Daphne (8 mo) while Matilda ran amuck in nursery for the morning. While everyone pretty much keeps to themselves quietly, trying to absorb the lovely church service through the 45" plasma hanging on the wall, one can't help but observe others and their children. There was a sweet nearly-2-year-old girl just playing quietly while her mother nursed a new baby. They looked happy, well-rested and calm. Were they thinking the same thing about me?

I ran into the same mother in the restroom later, as we both changed our baby's diapers, and we quickly exchanged the names, age and birth experiences of our new daughters. Even though, by the end of our sharing, I found myself envious of her 1-hour labor story and sleeping-through-the-night 7 week-old (are you freaking kidding me?)...I still shared a mutual sympathy for her efforts. I think there is always an understood sentiment felt between women once they are ushered into the club of motherhood, and I felt that for her in this moment. That, even though I wanted to shout "You have it so easy!" I still could see the frazzled look in her eye, the worry in the tightness of her lips, and the nervousness in the intensity of her grip on her new baby that told me - she is still struggling to do the best she can just like me.

My children sleep so little that you would seriously
think I was filling their bottles with coffee.
We parted ways a bit awkwardly (as many encounters in the restroom can be) and I could tell I was headed in a different direction than she was. I didn't know how to end this conversation that went from "Aw, cute baby" to "how far were you dilated" in split seconds and now was curiously making its way back to normal-people-status. Uhhh. I wanted to say "It gets easier!" and leave her with one sturdy ounce of encouragement to make it through the next hour...but, literally, in that moment, I thought Does it? Does it get easier? I don't want to lie to this poor soul! It gets different, but so far it does not get easier! So, instead, as I was walking out the door, I turned awkwardly and just said "By the way, you look really great!" The end.

Yes, this was my awkward encounter with a strange new mother in a church restroom. But, you know what? She smiled. Mission accomplished. The next time you see a new mother in a frazzled state or looking discouraged...don't tell her it gets easier. Don't tell her to enjoy the moment or nap when the baby naps. Just tell her she looks fantastic and walk away. We need that. It's probably the one thing you could say that doesn't get old hearing.

So, this whole parenting thing - will it get easier? Let me narrow down what I'm talking about: exhaustion. Lack of sleep. Life progressing around you in a blur of picking up toys and cleaning spit-up. Surviving in warp-speed of tripping over laundry and get yet another meal on the table. Being. Tired. All. The. Time.

Am I taking crazy pills? Am I the only mother who is sitting here thinking "I really don't think other people understand"? Surely, not. So, then, are their children equally crazy? Do their children incessantly yell at them and demand their attention until it ends in a fit of rage and tantrum kicking? And then, of course, the next SECOND later the same children are smiling and saying "I love you mom-mom" and asking to read Cinderella again and SUCKING you back into that deep vortex of love that makes you want to buy them ponies and make home-baked-masterpieces that you only drool over via pinterest???

I see posts all the time of moms complaining/venting about how their kid won't sleep or eat or behave, etc. But then, I read further and find out that their baby woke up once during their 3 hour nap...and my head spins at the thought of having such a luxurious amount of time to fill with whatever I might choose. My children sleep so little that you would seriously think I was filling their bottles with coffee. Sigh. So, does that mom understand me? Does she look at me and envy that my toddler will eat her green beans? Does she read my posts and think "this crazy loon doesn't know how hard my life is!"?

Yes. Yes to it all. We are all taking crazy pills.

We are all exhausted in some area of parenthood somewhere, I just have to believe that. We are all trying to raise productive little souls that will be kind and grow up to make their own nutritious breakfast every day and not become serial killers who won't remember when Mother's Day is. We all wear clothes we have to wash and eat food we have to fix. We all work jobs that don't pay enough and drive cars that break down too much. We all have friends who we don't deserve, both good and bad. We all have crazy families who offer terrible advice and not enough help. We all are fighting The Man, the traffic and bad breath.

We will make it.

It may take a lot of coffee, even more prayer, and a crazy lady in the church bathroom telling us we look great to get us through one more day...but we will. We are parents. We are awesome.

Now, take two more crazy pills and call me in the morning. Cause trust me...I understand.
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