Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm really thankful for humor in marriage today.  On occasion I will reveal what I call Team Pardy rules for our marriage.  Maybe "rules" is too harsh of a word - but I also like the double meaning of Team Pardy RULES as if we are conquering the world, and since they are guidelines that we do our best to live by, I suppose "rules" is just as good a word as any to describe them.   Well, here's one for you:  Keep it silly.  That is, Marriage and the Art of Silliness, if you will, truly go hand in hand in the Pardy home.  And let me tell you, between a crazy flu-stricken Mother's Day and the great flea infestation fiasco of 2012...if we didn't have humor, we would have probably strangled each other by now.

Being funny is not only an art form in our home, it is a constant competition.  Both Josh and I value humor and rate it extremely highly on our list of necessary traits for deep friendship - at least, if you aren't funny then you'd better think we are funny - that is, laugh near us if you can't laugh at us in the very least. And it has made our friendship deepen through the years while we are maintaining and growing in our love for each other.  Having humor in common is not only healthy for our relationship, however, it is also just loads of fun.  And you know, above all, I love that we don't even care if other people find us funny or not (yes, that would be you I'm talking about) - as long as we find each other funny, with all our inside jokes and songs and voices and quips - if we laugh at each other...mission accomplished.  With each and every chuckle, my heart is reminded:  He gets me.

So, we do our best to keep the silly in our marriage.  What do we find silly?  Well, a while back, before Josh left for work, I stole his phone.  We had just seen the Hunger Games movie, and so I changed my contact information in his phone to Katniss Everdeen (the lead character in the movie, in case you've been living under a rock for the last several months), when I texted him (all day long) he received messages from "Katniss Everdeen", complimenting him, flirting with him, and keeping him updated on all things Capitol and what was happening in the arena and so on.  Silly.  What's better?  The next morning I started receiving messages from Mad Men's "Don Draper" (the lead character in that series in case you've been living under a rock for the last few years) all day long.  Pure silliness.

What else is silly in the Pardy home?  Our Chipotle fridge.

We love Chipotle.  I could honestly eat from Chipotle like every other night if I could afford it.  We almost always order the same thing again and again, and thanks to the iPhone app, we can place our order ahead of time and then just run by and pick it up without having to wait in line (genius!)  When you place your order in the app, you "name" and place "special instructions" within each order.  I'm not sure when it all started, but one night instead of "Josh - steak burrito no cheese" and "Emily - carnitas tacos no hot sauce" I decided to put "Han Solo - steak burrito and a high five" and "Princess Leia - carnitas tacos and have yourself a fine evening" in the order.  And so -  we got a huge kick out of it when they obliged the order, and we kept the labels off our food, and stuck them to our fridge.  And voila!  The Chipotle-famous-couples-name-sticker-fridge was born.  (I have a feeling that our local Chipotle may get a surge of suspicious monikers coming through their app in the next week now?  Haha.)

Hmm, I'm spotting a trend here as I write this.  But, before you start wondering if all our silliness requires us to rename ourselves and trick the general public, let me list you some more silly stunts:  making up songs about each other (usually which involve free style rapping and a chorus involving our cat Dutch or anything that rhymes with Matilda), emailing each other ridiculous articles or YouTube videos that simply make us laugh (yes, this could potentially involve cats playing pianos), making fun of anything on tv at any time - there is constant commentary circulating our home of whatever happens to be on the tube at the time.  Even if we are stuck watching yet another episode of Olivia (the pig) or The Berenstain Bears because that is all that will calm Matilda at the moment - we humor ourselves by making up our own dialogue (i.e. Why yes, Brother Bear, it is unusual that there are no humans around, but remember - we ate all the humans and turned it into Bear Country long ago before the robot wars began and the planet relied on an energy source of honey to sustain its existence!)  And it helps us maintain our sanity a little longer.

How do you keep humor in your marriage?  What do you find funny?  When is the last time you pulled a prank on your hubster and got laughing so hard that diet Coke nearly shot out your nose?

I'm so thankful to be married to a funny guy.  Our humor thrives on being competitive with each other, always trying to one-up the last prank or joke or play on words.  We challenge each other and respect each other and do what we can to keep ourselves in tune with what each other finds clever or witty.  I once told Josh that it doesn't necessarily bother me so much if a pretty woman walked by and was noticeably more attractive than me (I'm secure enough to know that I will never look like Catherine Zeta Jones in this lifetime) but that he'd better never ever (ever) tell me that he thinks another woman is funnier than me.  Haha.  It's true!

And, if we can keep the silliness in our marriage going, the inside jokes and the billows of laughter that seep out the seams of our home and contagiously find their ways into our extended friendships and communities....then, I think we'll be laughing all the way to our love.  Don't underestimate the power of humor in your marriage.  A good joke can diffuse an ugly situation.  A kind smile or little smirk can break the tension of any unreasonable argument.  An ounce of hilarity can mend a week of frustrations.  It's free and fuels happiness.  It's healthy and promotes compromise.  When you are laughing, and always looking for new reasons to laugh, you will be amazed at how vulnerable and pleasant your home can become.

I'm thankful God gave us humor in this life.  It is certainly an optional component when it comes to survival - but, it makes life turn from bearable to enjoyable with a single giggle.  I'd love to hear how you keep things silly in your own home - maybe we can laugh ourselves silly into the weekend.  Maybe we can start a giggle revolution.  :)


Monday, May 28, 2012

Alrighty - I'm back! Whew.  And I have missed an entire week of writing and sharing and catching up with all of you since "the-week-from-you-know-where" struck our house.  Just coming off the heels of having the stomach flu over Mother's Day, both my girls and Josh caught horrible colds.  The kind of cold  that, even if you aren't sick with it, keeps you up all night because everyone is hacking away every hour anyway.  So, yeah, none of us were really getting any rest.

Well, when it rains, it pours...cats and dogs...with fleas.  (Can I get a collective groan from the audience, please? Thank you.)  Wednesday morning started like any other...the usual chaos over choosing toast or cereal, the manic pouring of coffee, the anxious scramble to find socks that match and more baby wipes and where did I put my glasses?  You know, the usual gig.  Until...Josh sends me a little text that changes the entire course of the week:  I just found two fleas.  Check the cats.

Oh. No.

Dutch...the lazy culprit.
Two nights prior, the culprit - er, I mean, our cat, Dutch, had escaped outside for about half an hour.  We didn't think anything of it really, besides his usual naughty/mischievous behavior.  He had escaped before, and for longer amounts of time, but he is such a lazy bones that whenever we would call him in for kitty food he would be swift to return to his life of luxury.  So, reluctantly and with much chagrin, I find the cat and search his belly, only to find...fleas.  Ugh of all UGHS.

Panic set in.  I grew up on a farm, so I wasn't entirely unfamiliar with fleas.  We had pets growing up, and suddenly I was having flashbacks of stinky fog bombs and sprays and pet baths and then the sinking realization of all the things Dutch and our other cat, Zuzu, could have come in contact with over the last 48 hours...and just how much laundry that entailed.  (I had JUST done 5 loads of laundry that were clean and sitting out...and I had caught both cats sleeping on the giant pile last night. Oh no!)

My worst memory of fleas came to mind as well.  I was 16, and had found a kitten sitting on top of my car in the garage.  I had swooned over this adorable little furball we quickly adopted and named Gizmo.  I snuggled her and bathed her and she became a new member of our family by the end of that week...but, not before she had given me fleas!  What's worse?  It was 3 weeks  before PROM.  Here I was, picking out shoes, hair accessories, perfectly matching nail polish...and flea treatment for a horrible rash that had ravaged my forearm!  Ugh to the nth degree!  I quickly decided that long satin gloves were going to be in fashion that year, and all crisis was averted.  (Still, if you can imagine yourself 16 again and think about the horror it brought on to even consider telling any one of your friends that you got fleas right before can imagine the drama that created!)

I was thinking about all these memories as the crushing reality set in about how this day needed to already be over before it began.  What do I do?  Well, first things first, I did what any normal, grown woman does when a crisis arises and you feel like you might start hyperventilating before anything even gets decided about what to do first....I called my mother.

Mom!  What do I do????

Three phone calls later between my mother, my sister and again with Josh, we decided that we would just have to burn the place down and join witness protection.  Oh no...wait, that's what I wanted to do.  Sigh.  Instead, the daunting task of fog bombs, pet baths and laundry out the wazoo clearly became our only option in defeating these pesky bugs.  This meant not only washing things that potentially had fleas on them...but, then, once everything had been fogged and killed the pests, it would have been exposed to toxic fumes and needed to be washed as well.  Since I have a 10 month old who is apt to put anything and everything in her mouth, this meant that every little thing (plastic toys, books, remotes, anything fabric whatsoever, all things two feet off the ground and under) needed to be wiped down and cleaned after being bombed.  Ugh to infinity!

Folks, this is what emergency funds are for.  This is why you save back a little money here and there or at least have a credit card you are diligent to pay off.  Days like these are why you try and position yourself to be prepared.  All that to say - I couldn't take it anymore and as soon as I set the fog bombs off...I checked us into a nice hotel just a few miles away.  Hooray!  Clean carpet!  Cable television!  Little soaps!

Thought these tiny, minuscule, little buggers were quickly becoming the smallest-but-most-expensive-by-ratio item I had ever spent money on, it was worth every penny. The girls were enthralled by the novelty of the hotel.  New beds to jump on, fountains of fish in the lobby that Matilda got to feed, new nooks and crannies to investigate and potentially climb.  Since both girls were still snotty-nosed and coughing, I couldn't drop them off at any friend's home or daycare, so it was all I could do to just care for them and pray for help.

Asking for help is highly underrated.  I'm all for independence and self-motivated ambition...but, when you need help, don't hesitate, just ask for help.  So, I did.  I put out the white flag, and my dearest friends came to my rescue.  By that night, as my girls and I ate pizza and visited the lobby fish one  more time for the husband and two of our most gracious friends were at our apartment, scrubbing flea bomb scum off baby toys, stripping beds and wiping off pillows, doing dishes and loading laundry.  I am still so grateful for their hearts of servanthood.  Good friends are salve to the flea-flustered soul (isn't that a Proverb? It should be.)

By morning, I had called in the big guns.  I've never hired a cleaning service before, so I took a chance on Molly Maids of Fullerton.  I'm telling you the name of the company so that you don't use them.  I hate to say it, but I would not recommend them.  While the girls and I were able to return to a flea-free home (can we get a PRAISE JESUS!?) we didn't exactly return to a clean home.  All I'm saying is, when I pay for a service, I expect the work to be up to par with at least the quality that I would do myself, right?  I talked to their manager, and the cleaners had to return the next morning to finish the job (which sort of got completed) but, whatever...the carpet was vacuumed and nothing wreaked of flea bomb and there were no fleas in it was fine.  At this point, as long as I didn't itch all over with the thought of just standing in my own home, I was going to be happy.

Deeeeep sigh of relief.  We survived.  The great flea fiasco of 2012 had passed.  Now, evidently, we have to keep spraying the carpet and vacuuming religiously to avoid potential flea eggs from hatching in the next two weeks...and we'll be treating our cats with Advantage flea treatment from now until forever...and I still have about three loads of laundry left to do and about eight more to fold and put away....but, we made it.  Good golly, what an ordeal.

Thanks for hanging with me, friends, we'll try to keep things interesting around here for you!

Reality Bites

Thursday, May 17, 2012

This will be a short post.  And, getting a Thankful Thursday post in just under the wire here, I'm determined to find something redeemable about the day.  So, here it is:  we survived. 

This was one of those days where you are brutally awoken much too early, and as the morning creeps on and you start to think "Okay, that was fun, that had to have killed half the day, right?" and then you look at the clock only to realize it is a mere 8am in the morning, you just know you are in for one of those days.  [Insert dramatic music here].

So, bear with me.  Here is a mega dose of reality.  Here is a nasty glimpse into the mundane, the necessary, the reality of how a "normal" day shakes down around here.  And here is why I am so freaking thankful it is closing in on 8PM and the house is finally silent for at least (fingers crossed) the next several hours (that's quite optimistic, mind you).

The baby woke up, hacking up half a lung.  The poor thing, just barely over the stomach flu now has a horrible cold.  Of course she can't complain about it or tell me anything or take a cough drop or she just stares at you with those giant doe eyes blinking helplessly for you to do something about the frog in her throat that won't go away.  She's miserable and sad.  Sad enough to cry out and wake her sister up as well.  Alrighty, here we go.

We make it through breakfast and for some reason (why oh why) I decide that today would be a brilliant day to start potty training again (why?).  I have introduced and reintroduced this to Matilda multiple times now.  She has been in pull-ups since the beginning of the year and will go on the potty if I take her, but has yet to jump the hurdle of actually telling me before she goes (sort of an important component in the whole "making it to the potty in time" scenario).  Regardless, I get her chattering about panties and potties and poo poos and the proverbial ball is rolling faster than I can teach her the "potty dance".  So, okay, so we are just going for it!

This, then, of course, starts an ongoing, all-day battle of constantly questioning her about her (lack of) bladder control.  I'm putting her under fierce interrogation all day long:  How do you feel?  Are you getting that feeling?  Do you need to go pee pee?  Should we go to the potty?  and so forth.  It's relentless and a couple hours into it we are both sick of hearing me talk about it.  Still, she is super excited about the panty options and decides she does want to take part in today's activity (I can only hope she understands this particular activity will hopefully last from here on out!)

The baby takes an all-too-short morning nap.  Lunch is a disaster.  I spill banana goo all over my jeans and I'm pretty sure there is still some trapped in between the cushions of the couch (or is that from last week's incident?) and Matilda refuses to eat anything but eggs.  Whatever, sure, I'll cook you scrambled eggs for lunch, what do I care.  She gobbles them up and pleads for more.  Having just done all the dishes, I'm in no rush to dirty the pan yet again for second helpings that she will most likely not finish.  I try to entice her with another food, but this only leads to tantrums and screaming indicating that we are already past the magical window of nap time.

About an hour later (and a zillion readings of "Berenstain Bear's Weekend at Grandma's") she goes down for a nap.  Not two minutes later (just long enough for me to inhale a deep breath, but not yet exhale) an entourage of blaring sirens go screaming down our street.  Of course Matilda wakes up.  I put Daphne in her bouncer and go get Matilda back down.  Magically, this occurs.  Not five minutes later, there is a knock at the door (are you kidding me?) and the UPS guy wonders if I can take a package for my neighbor?!  (Not even a fun package for me!?)  Fine, sure, of course.  I check on Matilda again and she stays asleep (hallelujah).

I finally get a chance to sit while Daphne plays on the floor.  She romps around happily, until...SMACK!  Daphne slips and goes face first into our jaggedy edged coffee table.  WHAT!?  She screams at the top of her lungs, wakes Matilda, and I'm scrambling to just look her over and make sure she is okay.  Then I see blood.  BLOOD!  Blood is gushing out her mouth and this is when all the worst case scenarios start racing through my head and I start thinking how am I the only person here to figure this out!?  She's fine.  Teeth, fine.  Gums, find.  Lip is fat and bloody, but fine.  I get her sucking on an ice pack and she is settled down, meanwhile Matilda is beating down her door like a wild rhinoceros.

Welp, nap time is over.  That was it.  Done.  And now I have the entire afternoon to still kill and then on into the evening since Josh has to work extra late tonight.  Argh.  Matilda is insisting on more eggs for a snack.  Really?  Eggs?  Okay, fine, maybe I'll just nuke them so as to save myself a pan to not have to clean.  I ready the bowl, fix the eggs, and toss it in the microwave.  I kid you not, the scrambled eggs literally exploded in the microwave.  Exploded.  Now...I don't know about you, but scrambled eggs are definitely at the top of my list of things that I wish never to explode in my microwave...right above "bean burrito" and just under "cat food".  Gross.  It is so gross.  So, there was a pleasant little clean up that was unexpected.  Bah!

The afternoon is all a blur.  We played dress up and reviewed shapes and letters.  There were a couple potty accidents and at least a few times I had to yank Matilda up by her arm and move her where she was supposed to go (since I was also holding the baby, this is my polite way of not a) leaving her wherever she is or b) not barrel-rolling her body across the ground by my foot).  At one point Matilda found her pancake plate from breakfast and decided to give her feet a maple syrup bath, and then walked all over the carpet (which actually picked up quite a bit of cat hair that our vacuum can never seem too, so there's a plus!)

Luckily, we ran into some friends out front and were able to get through the last couple hours before dinner time with some playmates.  Thank goodness!

Now, bed time.  There is still macaroni and green beans in my carpet from dinner.  There are clothes and toys strewn alllll over the living room.  There are shoes and blankets in nooks and crannies where I will never find them.  The remote to the TV is no where to be found.  My phone has sticky syrup finger prints on it.  I haven't peed since like 3 this afternoon.  I am too tired to fix dinner for myself and will probably just stick my hand in a box of cereal while I watch a Frasier rerun until my husband comes home and wonders what I've done with his wife.

And there you have it.  I've spent my last brain cell pouring out my soul to all you other tired moms out there so we can all just relax and low-five each other (high fives just take too much energy, am I right?) and say THANK GOD, today is over.

Good work, mamas.  Good night.


Monday, May 14, 2012

I couldn't not post about this weekend.  I hope you all had fabulous Mother's Days, filled with fun and appreciation and gifts and love.  As you may have heard, my Mother's Day went a little less wonderfully than expected.  I suppose there are just certain times when God throws a curve ball at you to make sure you stop and take notice of the small things that are truly important.  And, let me tell you, there is nothing that will make you stop faster in your tracks than vomit.

Ugh.  Yes, this Mother's Day weekend, instead of receiving the usual cards and flowers, my daughter caught a horrible stomach flu and passed it on (every-so-generously) to me and her baby sister.  The Pardy girls were DOWN for the count to say the least.  Don't worry, I'll leave out the gory details.  I'm a recovering Emetophobic (fear of vomiting) myself, and if there is anything that can cure you quicker than's having a toddler.

We've had the stomach flu three times in the last six months.  Now, I don't know about you, but to me that is a LOT of vomit.  I mean, just too many germs to even fathom.  And it's not like we're out at the clubs every night licking hand rails or picking gum up off the street.  We are NORMAL people who have NORMAL friends.  Where are these germs coming from?  Are we manifesting them ourselves?  Are toddlers simply a breeding ground for new super-germs to test out their limits on?  Ugh!  It makes me want to hook up to a Clorox IV, drink Listerine straight from the bottle and bathe in a tub of Purell!  Okay, maybe not...but, c'mon.  G-R-O-S-S.

Yes, so the weekend to say the least.  To top it off, my sweet husband had to work on Saturday morning, so I was left mid-fever to fend for myself and just try to survive for a few hours.  I barely made it and had to call him home early.  He returned to a post-apocalyptic version of our previous home...something hardly livable and now taken over by blankets, buckets and new piles of laundry that could easily be mistaken for that giant "trash-island" floating out in the middle of the sea.  Scaryville.

But, then, a new day dawned.  And it was Mother's Day.  Living through the couple days prior, I had exceedingly lowered my expectations for the day.  I knew we weren't going anywhere.  I knew there would be no smorgasbord (um, gag).  I knew there had been no time for my sweet husband to leave the house or surprise me with anything grand.  So, I took some time to just try and count my blessings.

Health.  Wow, is health underrated or what!?  I mean, I know you always hear the expression "At least you have your health"...but, man, is it true!  That is a huge one that I am in constant need of being reminded how important it is and how fragile it can be.  And we just had the stomach flu!  Inconvenient at most!  Nothing truly debilitating or life-altering.  So, thank you Jesus for our health - especially being on the mend.

Husband.  Major!  My love (who we all thought was doomed to get the nasty virus but still has yet to show signs of it, so Praise God!) may not have brought me breakfast in bed, but he did turn into "Harry Poppins" and magically cleaned the whole house.  I mean, mopped and everything!  So, the massacre of an abode has now remarkably transformed into a livable home again - fit for enjoyment and habitation.  His servanthood blesses me daily, but this went above and beyond as a wonderful gift, and I'm so thankful for his non-complaining attitude in tackling the nasty tasks that just needed to get done.  Kudos, Josh!

Hijas.  (Okay, okay, I don't speak fact, I murder the beautiful language with every attempt...but, see how I have this lovely H alliteration happening, just let me roll with it this once!)  My daughters.  Certainly, Mother's Day wouldn't even be possible, let alone celebrated, without my beautiful daughters.  They bring me simple joys and complex challenges and blessings that exceed any greeting card sentiment imaginable.  They are too young to tell me what I mean to them...and even if they were old enough, I don't know if there are words for it anyway.  Parental bond is truly indescribable.  But, if there was something that would come close, something that could nearly encompass the feeling of bliss that my heart holds for these little beings, it would be in the feeling I get when they rest on me and take complete comfort in my just being there.  Just.  Being.  There.

And that's exactly what they gave me for Mother's Day.  Maybe it was the Tylenol.  Maybe it was the nap schedule gone awry.  Maybe it was the utter exhaustion from not having eaten in two days.  But, on Mother's Day...BOTH of my girls took their naps on me.  Completely fell asleep laying on top of me.  This is a rarity these days.  Sure, the baby will sometimes still doze off after a feeding sometimes, but it doesn't last very long anymore.  And Matilda hasn't slept on me on purpose since she was a baby herself.  This was a little slice of heaven for me to just sit and enjoy.

When you hold your baby, no matter how old they are, and they rest against you with complete comfort and total trust, it is the most humbling and amazing feeling in the world.  I hope every soul in the universe gets to experience this feeling at some point.  Time stops.  Peace triumphs.  And nothing else in the entire world matters.  That is love.

I'm not saying that I'll be wishing for a bout of the flu in our house again anytime soon.  I don't know if the stars will align just right where I'll get a day like that again for a while (or ever).  But, I'm so glad that this year God gave me a moment to just stop and take in the beauty of my precious little babes.

Try to find that in a greeting card!  Thanks, God.  Way to, once again, take my human disappointment and show me that I'm not forgotten.  I may not have had the beautiful brunch or the basket of beauty products (and don't feel too sorry for husband has already planned ahead some escape time for me next weekend - woohoo!) but, I think I scored big time this Mother's Day.  (Plus...I lost like four pounds! Ha!)

I dare you to ask God to turn your "lemons into lemonade"...or, in this case, a post-apocalyptic-laundry-trash-island into a paradise of peace.  If even for a moment, it gave me a blissful reminder...and a Mother's Day I'll never forget.

Mother's Day

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mother's Day is this Sunday (set that reminder to call your mom right now!) and this year I am feeling doubly grateful for it.  It is my first with TWO daughters to celebrate with, and my first as a full-time stay-at-home mom.  This isn't to say that I was any less  of a mom last year than this year, but I will admit that it means a bit more to get some free time and be appreciated since I don't have the time away as often as I did last year when I was still working outside the home.

It is very (very) easy to complain about being a stay-at-home mom.  I do it, I hear it, I see it and live it every day.  I write about it, I talk about it, I even make up songs about it just to help make it through the day.  The truth is, misery loves company, and it is fun to compare notes and brag about how little of sleep we are living on and how we are loathing another poopy diaper or swapping stories about the latest tantrum in public.  It's funny and honest and if we moms didn't have-it-out now and again with each other than I think there is a good chance we would all go crazy or die trying.

That being said...I LOVE MY LIFE.  It's true.  I love it.  I know it might not be as popular to say as "Help!  I can't stand another episode of Sesame Street!" or "If I step on one more lego I'm going to punch a hole in the wall!" But, it's the truth.  And I don't just mean "I love it because I have to and because they are my children whom I willingly chose to bring into the world and if I don't say I love it than I'm admitting that I actually made an enormous mistake that I can't take back but I will instead go on living and just resent my kids and hope they feel guilty the rest of their life for ruining mine."  Nope.  And let's face it - even if that's not probably know a long-suffering mom in your local playgroup that does feel that, let's say a prayer for her and hand her another cup of coffee with a side hug of hope, shall we?

I love being a mom.  It is my dream come true.  I love staying home and taking care of my girls.  My crazy, chaotic, completely unpredictable, totally messy and sometimes despicable girls.  I know it feels more cute and funny and popular to sit and complain about how hard this job is...and it is...but, I also know that sometimes I can feel bad for how much I love it and want to shout it from the roof tops that this is actually what I really want to be doing right, here I go!

There is this weird perception in the world that stay-at-home-moms should do more.  I feel this myself as I introduce myself to new people and sense a tension between the question "And what do you do?" and my answer "I stay home with our girls."  I will be honest and say that sometimes I am quick to add "And I write...and I cook...and I'm working on this or that..." as if my answer wasn't complete or enough.  But, who am I kidding?  Taking care of two little girls is MORE than enough, and some days it is too much!  Why do I sense this ridiculous need for justifying my choice of vocation?

That being said, I'm over it.  I love being a mom.

Now, I think there are a LOT of moms out there that actually completely and whole-heartedly love being a stay-at-home worker.  I think that oftentimes, though, we can feel belittled into thinking (usually via media or misunderstandings from those around us) that we are just suffering through these hard days, doing "what's best" for our family, putting our own dreams on hold or buy into the thought that "If I actually admit to loving such-n-such, than I will look/sound/seem not as motivated/academic/current as I truly want to be".  False.

We've heard it time and again - "Motherhood is the hardest job on the planet".  We've grown up hearing how it is rewarding and painful and difficult and that it pays off, but not without sacrifice and great steps of courage.  We've been brought up to respect mothers, but not without a glance of sympathy or a prayer of encouragement...of pity.  Yes, I know that when you read my blogs and millions others and you hear/share how crazy and exhausting this day-to-day life as a mom is that it can sound like a discouragement towards a job that we're all just "getting through"...but, it's not.  I hope no one reads what I write and ever walks away thinking I am less than incredibly grateful to be where I am (albeit, tired at times).

I wanted this job more than anything.  The fact that God granted it to me and hired me for the particular girls at this particular time amazes me every single day.  I work hard to keep up with the tasks of the daily life, yes, but I also have insane amounts of FUN and take immense JOY in watching my darlings grow and change by the second.  I get to have coffee on my own couch every morning.  I get to nurse my baby whenever I want to, right out in the open convenience of my own home.  I get to care for the things I love most - not just my girls, but also our health and wellness by cooking and cleaning.  I get to open the Word of God and teach my sweet girls about a man named Jesus who will hopefully one day soon be the center of their minds and hearts.  I get to teach them kindness, gentleness, and self-control by getting to practice it myself right in front of them...with every teething challenge or potty-training obstacle I might encounter.

And I get to shift and grow and slowly be shaped into a more and more selfless person with every hour I know my children.  I get glimpses of Jesus through their bias-free eyes and through the grace I give them that I know is not by my own strength.  I learn more about myself and who I should be just by showing them the things of life they are noticing for the first time.  I get to witness incredible amounts of beauty through the perspective of young minds.  They see people as "fun" or "super fun" race, no prejudice, no money or manipulation of any kind.  When my children look at the faces of others, they only see smiles.  And it's my job (my job) to witness that (learn from it) and encourage it.  And I hope my girls grow up knowing that they helped me to live the life that I wanted to live...that I am choosing to live...dustpans and sippy cups and burp rags and all.

This Mother's Day, I'm the one who is grateful.  I'm the one who is feeling the need to hand out the candy and cards and flowers to those who support me.  I'm the one who is so blessed to be able to say THANK YOU JESUS for letting me take part in this planet as a helper and bringer-upper of the next generation.  I love being a mother - a stay-at-home mother - and I'm not ashamed to say it!

Maybe it is the hardest job on the planet.  Challenge, accepted.  This is one mother who is willing and ready and excited to remember each year that it is also the absolutely best job a gal could ever ask for.

Happy Mother's Day, indeed.


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I was privileged to grow up in a house where I got to have my own room.  This was a good thing, since I already felt that the 20-step walk to my sister's bedroom was entirely too close for comfort already.  It wasn't that I didn't like her, it was just the fact that I'd rather claw my own eyes out than let her touch anything that was mine.  Yikes.  (Yes, this is my poor, one and only sister who goes down in history as the only human I have ever thrown an entire Big Gulp Slurpy at with full force or shoved an eight-foot-tall Christmas tree on top's lucky that either of us lived to see today, let alone the miracle that we actually speak kindly to one another now!  Ha!)

Needless to say, I wasn't the sibling you dream about when you hold a baby doll and ask your parents for a sister.  Sorry, sis.  But, my sister and I are nearly five years apart in age, also.  Growing up, this made us not quite close enough to share clothes or boy stories, and just far enough apart that I could never catch up to being as good as something as she was. Add in my sister's sweet spirit and my brutally honest spunk...and you have yourself a volatile combination, my friends.  Just the thought of it is conjuring up memories of my parents deeply sighing in disappointment while my older brother just laughs uncontrollably in the background.

This art by Creative Thursday hangs in the girls' room. 
So, I must be a glutton for punishment when I sit here today and fully intend on having my two little daughters share a room.  That's right, the big day has come, Matilda and Daphne are now officially roommates.  Granted, there's not much option here.  I grew up in my house that my father grew up in and his father grew up in (no kidding) which gave way to decades of renovations and additions which gave me my very own space to call my own.  Whereas, living in Southern California, we may have free sunshine and traffic - but space comes at a sweet price (or, should I say sour?)

The fact of the matter is, we live in a two bedroom apartment, and unless one of them is willing to sleep in the refrigerator, then the two little girlykins will be sharing a room.  Honestly, while the "American Dream" might tell us that owning a home and dog and 2.5 kids each with their own personal space is what we are ideally supposed to be aiming for...I gotta say, my answer is:  No.  Okay, okay, okay...No, thank you.  A huge percentage of the world live in much tighter quarters, and I refuse to believe that two little babies can't coexist in a 12x10 ft room!

I want my girls to share a room.  In fact, (I'll say it) if we had a third bedroom, I still would choose to have them share a room.  I mean, why not?  I share a room, why shouldn't they?  (I kid.)  I don't know, it just seems like too many times it is easy to jump to the conclusion that "if I only had such-n-such, my life would be easier" than it is to just stick with something and decide "this is enough...this will work" and just go for it.  So, we're going for it.

Now, if you think that I'm being swayed by images of two little girls snuggled up in matching pajamas sharing bedtime stories with their stuffed animals...let me debunk this notion for you all together.  In the last week, since putting them in the same room, I've been averaging about 4 hours of sleep a night.  Four cumulative hours of sleep a night.  And, did I mention they nap at different times during the day?  So, yeah, there's no saving grace there either.

I'm not looking for sympathy (if anything, I'm looking for ADVICE!) but I just want to be clear that I'm not muddling up this whole roommate idea with grand notions of ideal sisterly love.  My daughters are far from Anne and Diana's Green-Gable-Bosom-Buddy-status.  They are just tiny little humans who aren't even used to the idea of sleeping at all, let alone with someone else in the room.  But, that's exactly why I'm hoping this will work (it is, after all, just crazy enough).  I'm hoping for:  Security.

Having someone else by your side.  Someone to hear you cry in the night and say "Okay, sissy, okay."  Someone to wake up smiling next to.  Someone to throw you a paci back into your crib when you've sent it sailing overboard in a fit of exhaustion.  Someone to giggle with.  Someone to mimic you.  Someone to recite storybooks long after the book is closed.  Someone to keep praying over you after the lights have gone off.  Someone sleeping soundly just a few feet away, offering the comfort of quiet, rest, and total peace.

This week may have been a total train wreck.  I'm sure our neighbors must think we are holding a couple jaguars captive or attempting to start a chicken fighting ring.  It has been loud and sad and utter chaos at all hours trying to get one or both of them asleep within mere feet of each other.  But, I know it can't last like this forever (right, God?)  Hopefully soon and very soon they will be accustomed to each other.  No, not only accustomed, but prefer to be with each other.

I am happy to say that today, I love my sister dearly.  It must have been tortuous at times to be my sister - to put up with my tagging along or my taunting or begging or whatever.  I wish I could say "I'm sure she had her moments too" (and, I'm sure she did) but honestly, all I can ever remember about growing up with my sister was her being pretty nice to me and me scheming a new prank on her every chance I got.  But, for whatever reason, she's stuck with me through thick and thin.  We get excited together when something wonderful happens for one of us, and cry together when it's a time to share sorrow.

It's true that a sister is a built-in friend for life.  When I was little I might have thought of this as a negative thing...wishing I could have chosen the people who made up my family instead of the ones God placed around me.  But, God put me in exactly the right place I was supposed to be.  Maybe I wouldn't have befriended my sister along life's road if we weren't born into the same family.  Maybe I wouldn't have sat next to her at a restaurant or sung next to her in church or introduced myself at a party.  Maybe I would have never found out how awesome and talented and forgiving and fun she was because of all the reasons that I think we are not alike seems like enough to separate us from being friends.

Maybe that's exactly why we're more than friends.  We're sisters.  And I'm so glad that God made sure I didn't miss out on who she and what our friendship has become simply because of a few silly differences along the way.  I am so glad to have the security of our friendship.  It's such a blessing to know, through thick and thin, she will always be there to giggle with or cry with or call on when I need a hug.

I don't know if my girls will always like each other along the way as they grow up together.  I'm not even sure they won't try to kill each other by the end of the week!  But, I do know that space isn't going to dictate whether the love between friends is nurtured or diminished.  Because, when you're sisters...nothing can crush that kind of bond.  Not even an eight-foot-tall Christmas tree.

Murphy's Law: Baby Edition

Sunday, May 6, 2012

We've all heard of Murphy's Law...c'mon, you know the old adage:  If something can go will!
Never has this statement felt truer in life, than in parenthood.  Of course they tell you before the baby arrives that everything in your life is about to change.  You get warnings about things taking longer that they used to, or that you should get your rest in while you can.  You could be a millionaire if you got a nickel every time you heard how there will never be enough time or money or sleep to store up before the baby enters your world.

But, once you've crossed the threshold into parent-dom...once, you've got that baby home and you truly start to grasp the utter magnitude of exactly what has happened to your life...well, that's when it starts to sink in.  Nothing could have prepared you for this little being.

To say that children remind you how the only thing predictable in life is that it is unpredictable is an understatement.  So, I'd like to entertain you for a moment, and present to you what I like to call:

Murphy's Law:  Baby Edition

1.  If you are wearing black, you are about to get spit-up on.
2.  If you are running late, you are guaranteed a poop blow-out as soon as you get the baby in the car seat all ready to go.
3.  Dress the baby in whatever fancy outfit grandma sent prior to grandma's visit, and most certainly that baby will either poop or spit-up on said fancy outfit just moments before grandma arrives.
4.  If baby hasn't ruined the outfit before grandma arrives...just wait until grandma holds the baby and the baby will ruin grandma's outfit.
5.  If you are planning on an expensive photo session, the baby will either break out in hives or fall and get a giant goose egg size lump right in the middle of the forehead the night before.
6.  If someone is praying, the baby is tooting.
7.  If someone is silent, the baby is tooting.
8.  If you happen to toot, most definitely someone else is holding the baby so you can't blame it on the baby.
9.  If you just had the carpet cleaned, your baby is about to get the stomach flu.
10.  Put the baby down for a nap if you want firetrucks, sirens, or random construction work to begin on your street.
11.  The one day your baby sleeps late is the one morning your gardeners will come early.
12.  At the end of the week, after your longest day at work, right when you are the absolutely most exhausted, it is guaranteed to be the night your baby will not go to bed.
13.  Your baby will most definitely wake up extra early the morning after #12.
14.  The baby will say "mama", "dada" or whatever other amazing new word they just started saying a million times...until you get grandma on the phone to hear it.
15.  Your baby will take those precious first steps only if you aren't looking...and then, as soon as you look you see your baby has fallen, gotten a new lump on the forehead, and lucky for you a new photo session with grandma is scheduled for the morning.
16.  The one morning your baby seems willing to go to the church nursery will be the one morning some other baby gets dropped off with the flu.
17.  If you just had your hair done, your baby will be fixated on yanking it.
18.  If you just got new glasses, your baby will be determined to claw them off your face.
19.  The baby always knows the difference between the real tv remote and the toy one...and will somehow find a way to not DVR the series finale of your favorite show.
20.  As soon as you rock your baby to sleep, you will realize you forgot to put sheets on the crib mattress.
21.  If you pack an extra jacket for the baby, the weather will be perfect.
22.  If you completely forget a blanket, there will be a snowstorm.
23.  If you forget the diaper bag, there is guaranteed an explosion of bodily fluid of some sort, most likely in a public setting.
24.  The baby will burp as soon as you stop trying to burp the baby.
25.  If the baby smiles, it's just gas.
26.  If the baby has gas, the baby will scream bloody murder all night.
27.  If you are a light sleeper, your baby will remind you of how you are a light sleeper a dozen times a night.
28.  If you are a deep sleeper, the baby will cure you of that.
29.  As soon as you sit down to a hot meal, the baby will need something from the other room.
30.  If you are nursing the baby, the baby will unlatch as soon as you have a let-down.
31.  As soon as the baby latches on and you start to feel comfortable, your phone will ring from the other room and it most certainly will be a very important call you absolutely can't miss.
32.  This very important call will probably be your husband telling you he will be late coming home from work, which will be the one evening your baby decides to not be comforted by you and only wants daddy.
33.  As soon as daddy holds the baby, the baby will only want you.
34.  If your baby shows signs of illness, all symptoms will disappear as soon as you take the baby to the doctor - and promptly return as soon as you get home.
35.  Regardless of how much advice you ask for, the doctor will always just tell you that your baby is fairly normal.
36.  Regardless of how much advice you don't ask for, your friend will always tell you that you have an easier baby than she does.
37.  Regardless of how much advice you deserve, your mother will always tell you how much your baby is exactly like you were (usually when the baby is misbehaving or acting out horribly in public or not sleeping or throwing a tantrum).
38.  If your baby loves bath time, your baby is never dirty.
39.  If your baby hates bath time, your baby is never clean.
40.  If you pick up all your baby's toys and there is one you are missing...don't worry, you will find it by stepping on it in the middle of the night, trip, and nearly kill yourself.
41.  Even if you vacuum eight times a day, your baby will find the one crumb you missed.
42.  Your baby's favorite toy/blanket/stuffed animal will most definitely get lost in a store somewhere on a day you are running late.
43.  If you are brave enough to venture on a long car ride, brace yourself for hearing the baby cry the entire trip up until ten minutes before you arrive - when they will finally crash asleep, only to awake as soon as the car comes to a final stop.
44.  The only tv show that will capture your baby's attention is the one show you always vowed to never allow your baby to watch.
45.  This show has the world's most annoying theme song that will replay in your head and keep you up all hours of the night - but only the hours of the night when your baby is sleeping peacefully.
46.  Your baby will happily be held by others, until you actually say out loud how well your baby does being held by others, then the baby will only want you.
47.  Your baby will start teething the minute you run out of Tylenol.
48.  The baby will smile, look at you, and keep the hat/headband on their head...until you actually take the photo.
49.  If the baby smiles, looks at you, and keeps the hat/headband on their head for the photo...someone else has their eyes closed.
50. As soon as you feel like you have a grasp on this whole parenting thing and you decide to announce to the world that you are pretty sure "we're done having kids" are sure to find out you're pregnant again.

Whew!  I hope you enjoyed that list as much as I had fun making it!  So, you can stop giving yourself a hard time about not feeling prepared...remember, it's all the baby's fault.  :)

Park Attack

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

I'm super excited to have my Pardy Man take the writing reigns this week.  I was out of town with the baby over the weekend, so he and Matilda faired for themselves for a few days.  I think you'll enjoy his reflection on part of their time together...and see why I consider myself so golly darn blessed to be his wife.

I suppose it was inevitable, but a few days ago, Matilda had her very first run in with a playground meanie. 

Our time at the park is always fun, Matilda loves to play play play hard hard hard and on this trip there were three other children as well.  There was an older girl 4, maybe 5 years old, a 3 year old boy, and toddler girl.  Their parents were sitting relatively a ways up the hill and would sometimes yell down instructions to their kids. 

As usual, I was shadowing Matilda because I know that she has no fear and just moves so quickly.  The three other kids were actually being pretty nice, asking me and Matilda questions and wanting to play.  It all seemed so nice. 

Until it turned not-so-nice.  All at once, while in the playhouses, the oldest girl announces that she’s the mommy and the rest of the babies need to go.  Matilda did leave the playhouse, but not very willingly, and the older girl threw a fairly sizable rock at Matilda which hit her in the chest.  Thankfully it was just a toss and it didn’t leave a mark, but nonetheless, Matilda just kind of stood there in disbelief processing what had just happened.  Her little baby bottom lip was stuck out quavering; I had no idea what she was going to do next… or what I should do next for that matter.

For about 10 seconds she stood amidst the woodchip covered playground looking at her little chest where the rock had struck her.  She seemed to be getting over it when the perpetrator came up and began to taunt, “why are you crying? Is it because I hit you with that rock?  Well, we are just mean to babies around here!” 

We are just mean to babies around here? Are you kidding me?!  At that point, Matilda lost it, and really who could blame her.  So I picked her up and moved to the other end of the park without another word.  I didn’t want our special daddy-daughter time to be ruined by one bratty little kid.  Oh and that wasn’t the end either.  Little Ms. Sociopath decided to follow us and then ask me, “is she sad because I threw a rock at her?  Well, we are just mean to babies around here.”  Hey, thanks for the reminder, psycho. 

At that point, I figured it was just best to leave.  As I walked home, I was fuming. 

Daughter was sad and shaken up, Daddy was pissed beyond belief, but powerless. But, by the Lord’s grace, I realized that this was a powerful teachable moment.  I set Matilda on the ground, and got down on her level.  Through her sweet baby tears I had her look into my eyes and I told her some hard truths.

I told my child (no angel herself mind you, but at least never malicious) that not everybody is nice, and in fact some people are just plain mean. I reinforced that she is a nice, happy girl and I told my daughter that situations like these did not give her warrant to be a mean-girl herself.  I even went all meta on my little baby and told her that the real reason the other girl was being mean, was because she was probably sad and while it’s okay to feel sad, we can’t turn that sadness into a weapon. 

Sheesh, I was telling this to a 2 year-old.

Finally, I looked right into my daughter’s eyes and I told her that it was all okay, because Daddy was there, and Daddy will always be here to protect and comfort her.  I then asked for a kiss, and from a frown, those sweet little lippies puckered up, and she gave me a kiss and chokingly tight hug.  She pulled away and I asked if she was okay and very distinctly she answered, “Yes, Daddy.”  And then it was off to the races.

In God’s incredible mercy, I don’t think Matilda was scarred (both physically and emotionally) by what could very well have been a traumatic event.  After we returned home and had our little heart-to-heart, she was back to her happy, wild self.  Thanks be to God. 

To be honest, before I was a Dad, I would have read this and thought, “hey dude, welcome to the jungle (playground), get over it.”  But let me tell you, this event has changed me, and the way that I want to be a parent.  Yes, I was upset because my daughter was the kid getting picked on.  But, the kicker is that at the time all of this went down, the mother of the little girl was a mere 10 feet away witnessing everything, and she did nothing.  That, dear readers, is unacceptable.  It’s not my place to discipline someone else’s kid, or to tell a parent what to do.  She saw it and chose to do nothing, fine. 

Poor parenting aside, what disturbs me most is the lack of empathy that is unfortunately one of the sad trademarks of our broken culture.  Not being able, or willing to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and attempt to understand or feel their feelings is the epitome of self-centeredness.  I know bullying is a hot-button topic, and thankfully this event was actually minor in comparison to what some kids have to endure, but nonetheless my Matilda experienced some not-so-nice behavior that I truly think stems from utterly insular selfishness.  

Plus, this was a young kid!  Her behavior was really just a reflection of what happens inside her home.  Our kids will treat others the way that we treat them or their siblings, or the way that we treat our spouses. Golly, what a terrifying proposition! 

As fallen humans, we are innately self-centered, something that left unchecked will undoubtedly transfer to our children, our children’s children, etc.  It’s just a fact.  So we look to, and rely upon Christ to change our natures.  But, as a Dad I can’t wait to become perfect (hint: never), I simply must model and teach empathy now.

In the end, though I am loathe to see my child’s feelings get hurt, this event opened my eyes to see the importance of teaching my children to look outside of themselves and to be able and willing to engage with someone else’s feelings.  It is paramount to producing good people that will marry other good people and produce good grandchildren.   Thank you Jesus for showing us a way out of our selfish stupor and truly modeling what love (and parenting) is all about!

written by Josh Pardy (the Pardy Man)

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