Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Bookish Blog with Baby Sightings

Last week was drenched in happy rain which meant cancelled football practice, puddle jumping, hot cocoa parties, pillow piles, and, you guessed it, lots of books. I thought I'd share a few of the ones that have been circulating in our home, just in case you were looking for reading material of your own.


First, the kids and I are still plowing through the Little House books. Plum Creek wound up last week, and this week we are already neck deep in Silver Lake. So much drama: new baby Grace! dead Jack! blind Mary! And we're only on chapter two. Also, Bruiser took the time to ask me if Trigger was old or new. You know, just in case Trigs decided to join Jack in the Happy Hunting Grounds.


Meanwhile, the twins and I re-enjoyed (for the third time) The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson. Cute, cute, cute. And Donaldson gave us some great discussion about when your fears are just in your head instead of based on reality. Here's Bee showing you her favorite page.


We satisfied Bruiser's need for machine books with Firefighter Duckies by Frank Dormer (which was charming and funny and needed to be read at an excited yell) and Little Excavator by Anna Dewdney. As Dewdney's work goes, Little Excavator was not one of my favorites. Sure, it rhymes and it scans, but mostly it just fit the bill for a book about something with a motor and wheels, which is about as discerning as three year old boys get. Sad truths. I didn't find it to have any of the humor and sweetness of the Llama Llama books, but maybe that was just me. Bruiser loved it.


For the inquiring minds that need to know, Twinkle enjoyed any and all books presented to her. This isn't saying much as she tends to happiness, not discernment. I'll give her a grace period.




The Bigs have been obsessed with Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales by Nathan Hale (the author, not the spy, but based on the spy, not the author--which I thoroughly enjoyed). True confession: I haven't read all of them but I have skimmed through parts. I did also do my research. History in comic form with a good dose of humor and imagination thrown in.


I included both shots of Tiny reading Nathan Hale simply because I couldn't decide which was cuter: the cat in the background or the baby butt exiting the frame. So far the boys have plowed through One Dead Spy (set during the Revolutionary War), Big Bad Ironclad! (Civil War), Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood (WW1), and Alamo All-Stars (which was what got them sucked into the series initially). If nothing else, I love that these books are giving us a chance to talk about history. The illustrations help my boys envision the past more fully. We had a rousing discussion of about war tactics (trench warfare, guerrilla warfare, attacking head on, etc) which about used up all my military knowledge. From now on, I'll be fielding all questions to the Man.


Meanwhile, I plowed through two different trilogies. The first was Orson Scott Card's Pathfinder series. If you like your sci-fi with a heavy dose of physics, philosophy and time travel theory, these will be a good fit for you. Personally, I find all of the above to be quite fun, and I like it when a good novel (or three) makes my mind work as well as entertaining me. I also didn't mind thinking through the evolutionary framework Card insisted on providing. It's always good to consider why I believe what I believe and then go from there.


The other trilogy was Colors of Madeleine by Jaclyn Moriarty. So many great plot twists that kept me engaged while also teaching me fascinating information about Isaac Newton, color, and light. Moriarty's humor keeps it fun but her writing provides depth and empathy, helping the reader see from multiple perspectives. Young Adult fantasy done right.


Lastly, I've been relishing Shauna Niequist's Present Over Perfect. It's been on my To Read list for quite some time, and it's been worth the wait. It showed up at the library at the perfect time, enabling me to think through how I really want my days spent and who I want to be. Months ago I had a friend tell me that as she passed her 35th birthday she thought to herself, "Is this who I want to be at forty?" and adjusted accordingly. This book goes hand in hand with that idea in my mind. It's helping me to slow my mind and heart even as my hands are busy caring for the precious ones entrusted to me.


Anyway, now that you've enjoyed the myriad pictures of my myriad cute kids, go forth and stock your book list! And know that I will never lead you astray, even if Bruiser valiantly continues to brainwash me into accepting machine books as classic lit.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Megaphones, Elephants, and a Side of Football

I'm only blogging right now because I'm trying to keep myself from buying book two in the trilogy I'm reading. My library doesn't have it yet and the immediacy of kindle is so tempting... Evidently, my ability to embrace delayed gratification has died an early death this week.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I'm also eating a spoonful of hot fudge straight from the jar, because I've discovered there are few things worse than not having decent dessert options while a) your husband is out of town and b) you're supposedly trying to lose what's left of the baby weight.


With that said, I thought you'd like to know that the twins started a two day Kids Day Out program because, get this, I'm not super mom. They're only gone for about three hours, and I have already trashed my grandiose plans to actually get stuff done during that time, but what I am enjoying: there has been a dramatic reduction in noise. Hands down the hardest thing for this introverted, homeschooling mother of five is the noise, noise, noise, NOISE (name that quote!). And my two worst culprits are the twins, who like to tie on blanket capes and charge from one end of the house to the other bellowing a mash up of "How Far I'll Go" and "Let It Go" (pretty much the same song) like a herd of trumpeting elephants armed with megaphones. So yeah, it was a little blissful.


Then we went to pick them up and got to hear all about their day which was essentially doing exactly what they would've done at home: playing with each other (except I didn't have to hear them do so). I asked them if they'd made any new friends which prompted confused looks from both of them. Why would they play with someone else when they can play with each other? Twins: a universe unto themselves.


I was gratified to discover that they missed me (so, maybe not quite a universe unto themselves) when Bruiser dissolved into a puddle of tears on the drive home demanding some 'nuggles NOW. Sorry, bud. Mom doesn't snuggle and drive. He got half an hour curled up in my lap once we got home before we had to start prepping for Tiny's first football practice.


What can I say about Tiny starting football? I'm glad that he started this week and Littles doesn't start until next week (in spite of the fact that I get to spend this whole week hearing Littles sigh pathetically about how he can't wait until it's Monday). This way, they're kind of easing me in. I have also discovered that doing football with five kids is going to stretch my multitasking abilities to their uttermost.


First, I packed dinner for everyone (Tiny ate in the car on the way home) because when one has a baby who is very attached to her early bedtime which is in direct conflict with someone else's football practice, one gets creative with scheduling. Second, I played soccer with kid number one while holding kid number five and watching kid number two (who demanded that I send multiple video clips to his dad). In the meantime, kids three and four were charging up and down the bleachers with reckless abandon while I lovingly reminded them that there are no ER visits allowed while Daddy is on work trips. Third, I decided that I was not going to resign myself to this season in life but instead accept it as a new and exciting logistical challenge. I also promised myself the couch, a good book, and a bowl of popcorn if I could get everyone in bed by 8. Which I did. Because I may not be super enough to dismiss the opportunity to farm out a couple of my kids two afternoons a week but I am definitely super enough to respect the blessings of bed time. Amen.

This is how Twinkle pulls off dinner (with a side of football).

One last note: I ended up chatting with another mom of multiples as we left practice. She asked me if I was baby sitting the other kids. Nope. They're all mine. This is my circus, and I do love these monkeys. Even the ones who masquerade as megaphone toting elephants.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Quacamole

Having five kids is kind of like waking up on a Monday morning and discovering that you have just enough milk to make a double batch of pancakes (if you partially substitute with the buttermilk that expired a month and a half ago). First, though, you pour a splash of milk into your waiting mug for the coffee you're about to make. Unfortunately, in your morning delirium, you then accidentally pour the coffee grounds into your mug instead of the coffee pot, thereby destroying the tablespoon of milk that you had explicitly saved. You then contemplate drinking your coffee black--something only sad people do--or bothering the neighbors. But THEN you realize there is ice cream in the freezer! So you get to start your day with a scoop of ice cream melting deliciously into your mug small bowl of coffee.

Alternatively, having five kids is kind of like going to shake the new bottle of lemon juice before opening it only to discover that 1) your super helpful oldest son already opened it for you and 2) he didn't replace the cap leading to a fountain of lemon juice drenching your kitchen. Since lemon juice is a natural disinfectant, you can now put off cleaning the kitchen for another week. Also, it covers up the smell of wet cat food so...winning!

Finally, having five kids is like accidentally typing "quacamole" when you meant "guacamole" and knowing that there is a great joke there if you could just figure out exactly what it was and laughing anyway at the joke that you can't quite put your finger on.


I'm telling you this because it might help you understand why there are such massively long gaps between blogs right now. But also because I'm here tonight to provide you with a brief break in your obsessive checking on the status of Hurricane Harvey. Tonight I don't have for you any deep thoughts or thought provoking words, only a few funny moments that happened because we have a truck load of kids. So, for your entertainment pleasure:

  • Last night at 1.30am, stumbling blearily towards' Twinkle, who is yelling happily for her second middle of the night feeding, I see the light on in the twins' room. I go in to investigate, assuming there will most likely be pee waiting for me in someone's bed. Instead, I discover empty bunk beds. I notice that there is also light filtering up the stairs, accompanied by the sound of small voices. I find the twins playing stuffed animals on the couch. They inform me that they're tired of sleeping. I inform them that I'm exhausted and don't care. I haul them off to bed (protesting) while Twinkle continues to demand milk NOW. I realize that this is the closest I get to a theme song.

  • The votes are in: our creepiest child is definitely Bee. The other day she informed me: "Mom, I have slept with one eye open. I have slept with two eyes closed too. It was very dark." She also shared with me in confidence once that Bruiser saw a pepperoni on a tree outside. Alrighty, then...
  • Tiny recently expressed his frustration because there was a) too much bacon on his bacon and egg burrito, b) the bacon was too brown, and c) the bacon was too crispy. We are considering excommunication.
  • You know you're reaching new parenting lows when the following conversation occurs:
    • Bee: what movie are we watching?
    • Me: The Jungle Book
    • Bee: you mean, The Jungle Movie
    • Me: no, The Jungle Book
    • Bee: The Jungle MOVIE
    • Me: sure, whatever


  • Being a homeschooling mom of five kids when the youngest is teething like a beast and refusing to sleep for longer than 2.5 hour stretches at night has left me feeling a bit like Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone...except I'm living off caffeine instead of unicorn blood. Still, pretty much the same thing. I've rejected the idea of finding the blood of my father (unknowingly given), the flesh of the servant (willingly sacrificed), and the blood of my enemy (forcibly taken) simply because I'm worried that I will lose my nose in the process, and I really like being a rebel with a nose ring. No nose ring with no nose. If only He Who Must Not Be Named had thought that one through a little more.
  • Your hormones might still be a bit out of whack if your husband finds you crying while watching American Ninja Warrior. This is a public service announcement.
Not shown: book I was simultaneously reading to Bee,
while playing cards with Littles and Tiny,
while balancing Bruiser on my shoulders,
and keeping Twinkle from face planting.
  • One must always be prepared to walk into the bathroom and inexplicably find a long turd sitting in the sink. Preparation is key to not screaming hysterically, "WHAT THE CRAP!?" only to discover that it literally is crap and you just said "crap" in front of the child who gets in trouble regularly for saying, you guessed it, "crap". Explanations as to how said turd got in the sink are only understandable if you too think like a 3 year old twin.
  • Icing your bruised knee with a tub of ice cream while you simultaneously eat said ice cream is like making lemonade out of life's lemons but way better. 

  • The twins decided to move their humongous dresser across the room during rest time today and position it directly in front of their window. Then they pulled all the clothes out of their closet and deliberately snapped a third of their hangers in half. One day I will understand why they do the things they do, but today is not that day.
  • Twinkle peed on the kid who has been pulling out all the stops in the misbehavior department this week. I enjoyed it more than I should've.
The kids are on stair duty as our future mountain climber
risks life and limb and Mom's sanity.
  • Some people bring themselves to full consciousness by splashing a little cold water in their faces and drinking a cup of coffee. Last week, I got the same effect during early morning snuggles with Bruiser when I discovered a cockroach crawling up Bruiser's leg.
  • Our unrepentant beast of a dog stole one of the kids' quesadillas during a picnic the other day. I got him back by looking directly in his eyes while I proceeded to eat every bite of the leftover chicken I'd been planning to share with him, and then licking off my fingers. Slowly. 

And this is now way more entertainment than you called for. Good luck and good night!

I leave you with Cat Face.
Two seconds after I took this picture,
she decided to stretch out both paws
and knead my chin.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Broken Record Truth

A few weeks ago, I plowed through Psalm 119. It took a few days, and by the end, my snarky self was convinced that the psalmist had an alternate identity as a broken record.  Seriously: 176 verses of the same thing over and over again. Evidently the psalmist didn't consider conciseness to be a virtue worth having.

But then, I realized that the psalmist is doing exactly what I have to force myself to do all day long: preaching the truth to himself. Our world is antagonistic to truth. Our hearts are as well. And so if we want to walk in truth, which is the only way to peace, we have to remind ourselves of it over and over again.

Sometimes this gets repetitive. I remind myself minute by minute that not only does what I do matter, but how I do it matters too. I remember that Christ is with me, Emmanuel. I hold before myself the suffering Christ and then the hope of the resurrection. I tell myself that being present is more important than being productive. I repeat truth to myself like it's a paying job that can provide for my expensive book habit. All day. Every day. And sometimes it gets tiring. Okay, often it gets tiring.

At the close of the day, I am tired of reminding myself of what is Real and just want to wallow instead in what is easy for a little while, knowing that the next morning and the battle to believe truth will come quickly. But here is my joyful realization for the week: this is why God gives us the Church. Because when we are the Church for each other, we know that others are walking alongside us fighting the same fight, struggling to remind themselves of truth as well. We are not alone in our fight to live in the hard truths instead of easy numbness.

Simultaneously, when we are part of the Church, there are moments of reprieve when someone else can speak truth into our lives for a bit. This is one of the reasons why Sunday morning church is so important to me: because for just an hour and a half every Sunday, I get to just listen as someone else reminds me gently of what I have to forcibly fight for the rest of the week. This is an incredible gift.

If you are someone like me who struggles to remember what is real, I hope you find others who can help you remember. I also hope you try memorizing Scripture with your children so that then the inner voice repeating it to you throughout the day has a really cute voice. Most of all, I hope you don't beat yourself up over the off days but just keep trying to jump back on the broken record band wagon of truth. It might make for a ridiculously long Psalm, but it also makes for a richer life.

video

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Overdoing

There are times when we blink fast and suddenly find ourselves finishing out the month. Honestly, it's kind of like going for a run in the early morning dark and then discovering yourself face down on the concrete and not completely sure how you got there. Not that that happened to me this week, of course.


So what have I been up to this month instead of updating the blog? Well, other than turning myself into a full body scab, I've been working hard to get quality time with the Team before we start school again (and it just becomes quantity time full of math lessons and handwriting). What does quality time look like these days? It's endless games of Dutch Blitz and Rummikub, baking sessions, snuggle time, half of the Little House series, weekend movie marathons, braving the pool (and no one drowning!), and laughing hysterically at Twinkle doing her best imitation of the Worm. Also, I might've broken up a few fights here and there...potentially...in between all the quality time we were having.


I've also spent a good portion of the summer letting the kids loose to entertain themselves (legos! football! ridiculously intricate games of Pretend!) while I attempt to get housework done and keep up on my reading. Other than my annual reread of Harry Potter (because what else are you going to do with your right hand and both knees out of commission?), I've been enjoying a handful of books that have functioned well as a triple whammy of conviction. So, if you too are looking for a challenge I can offer you:
  1. Your familial kick in the pants: Parenting: 14 Gospel Principles That Can Radically Change Your Family by Paul David Tripp. It will give you a big picture, long term view of your parenting along with practical encouragement along the way. The Man downloaded the audible version of this onto my phone last week, and I've been listening to it when my children decide to move their tumult out of my general area. Worth it. 
  2. Your marital kick in the pants: Sacred Influence: How God Uses Wives to Shape the Souls of Their Husbands by Gary Thomas. You should know up front this book is not about how to change your husband, rather it reminds us that we are not a neutral influence in their lives. It gave me a lot to think about and even more to rejoice over.
  3. Your personal kick in the pants: Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer's Life by Kathleen Norris. I'm still plowing through this one, but I wish I'd read it years ago. Norris is not a light writer, but she is helping me see my soul in new ways. If you have a history of depression, this is a must read.
One week until this gets covered in school books again...

Then, if you need something just for happiness and joy, something that doesn't make you say "Amen, but ouch!", Megan Whalen Turner, one of my all time favorite YA authors, just put out another book in her Queen's Thief series: Thick as Thieves, which was just good, clever fun. And don't worry, Eugenides does show up to steal the show, even though he's not the main character this time around.


In the meantime, I'll be over here herding children, kneading bread dough one handed, planning for the up coming school year, admiring Twinkle's new teeth, and feeling guilty for not updating the blog more often. Because, as I was reminded while reading Thick as Thieves, "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing", which could be our new family motto, now that I come to think of it...

Monday, June 19, 2017

Competitive Reading

I made the mistake of signing our family up for a summer reading program at the library. It's a mistake because evidently the Man and I suffer from hyper-competitiveness. We're one week in and neck and neck at 500 minutes of reading. He tried to convince me that the night time reading I get done while up with Twinkle doesn't count while making sure I wasn't logging quiet time minutes (which I had to confess I'd thought about). He also tried to log all the audio book minutes that he listened to after he fell asleep. Let me just say: dirty. cheater. Let me also say: I am putting every free minute to good use these days because he is going down.

Side note, I have the ability to do this because Twinkle has transitioned to the jumperoo after trying to flip her bouncer off the kitchen counter during breakfast and evidently the jumperoo is fun for the whole family.


At any rate, I thought it was time for a quick book blog. It has to be quick because I was up from midnight until 330 last night with my favorite fifth child and I would like to get a little bit of time to hang out with the Man before I pass out from exhaustion. And before anyone makes the assumption that the Man was snoozing away blissfully while I manned point with the baby, he took the first shift...and also has to get up at an obscenely early hour to go to the gym so that he doesn't kill people when he goes to bring home the bacon. Moving on, apologies for not including nice pictures of the books but all my reading is happening on my phone these days (the better to read while night-nursing, my dear). So here's what's been hanging out of my kindle app:

The Pigeon Pie Mystery and Acedia & Me are both still in the works
so no comment as of yet.

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari. My middle sister suggested this one primarily because she wanted someone to discuss it with. Aziz Ansari is best known for his role as Tom Haverford in Parks and Rec but this is primarily a research driven book on what it's like to find love in the 21st century. I could write an entire blog post just about this book, and I don't want to because not enough sleep AND want to hang out with the husband BUT if you want to understand a little better what is going on in our culture (and even cultures around the world), this might be worth a read. I found it to be a somewhat sad read (especially because I'm reading Little House on the Prairie to the Bigs right now all most people want in life is a relationship like Ma and Pa's).

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Allie Brosh's blog is one of my favorite online reads, and I was so excited when I heard she was putting out a book. Turns out that more than a few of the chapters are repeats from the blog, which is why I get books from the library instead of buying them, but I didn't necessarily mind the reread. Her story about the dinosaur-goose was a fun add in, but her strongest chapters are still the ones on depression. If you haven't read her two posts on depression, please go over to her blog and read them. The last two chapters about identity were also fascinating. Brosh manages to blend humor with depth in ways that really gave me a lot to think about.

She's scooting, but only backwards...
which means I'm fishing her out from under the piano a lot.

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith. My oldest sister suggested this book (why have a librarian when you can have sisters!), and it was a great read. I went through a massive Alexander McCall Smith phase after the Little Man was born, but this may be my new favorite. It made me want to take the Man to Italy. But we wouldn't rent a bulldozer to drive around in. But we might gently bend a few laws. But we wouldn't land in Italian prison. Hopefully.

This is the portion of the blog where I was going to force the Man to tell me about what he's been reading (he audio books like a beast), but he got sucked into watching The Office, so that ship has sailed. Anyway, assume I said something about military history and things that actually happen in real life and stuff blowing up, and you'll be pretty spot on.

I take a break from reading to hang out with this kid,
because she's pretty cute.

So, books: read them. And then compete wildly with the people you love to see who can read more of them. And then stay up way too late reading them instead of actually adulting.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Mom Truths (That Might Just Be Regular Truths--Who Knows?!)

Dear New Mom,

I hear you had a rough night last night with your baby--I've been there. You may be wondering when it gets better. You may be worrying that it won't. You may worry, and perhaps rightly so, that you are going to be sleep deprived, overwhelmed, and drowning in someone else's body fluids for the rest of your life.

Even body fluids from super cute babies like
this can be wearing.

You may make the mistake of telling a mom of teenagers your misguided hopes that things will get easier one day--and they will then shoot you down by telling you that you're doing the easy part now, that it only gets harder as you go along. They are dealing with teenagers. To them, toddlers are mere child's play.

Personally, I think these non-teenagers are pretty terrifying.

May I take a few minutes just to tell you a couple truthful encouragements? That mom of teenagers may be right (but she should've just nodded sympathetically and given you a cup of coffee). It doesn't necessarily get easier. Parenting, just like most relationships, will present you with one challenge after another. This is called dealing with people.

But the challenges are different challenges. You are not forever in a season of sleepless nights (says the woman whose twins didn't sleep through the night until they were a year and a half old). Potty training does, indeed, come to an end (says the woman whose twins took close to a full year to stop peeing gleefully all over the house). And the days of leaking breastmilk and having a very cute parasite constantly latched to your chest will one day draw to an end (says the woman with five kids who thought she was done after two).

There are children hanging off all your appendages:
ARE YOU HAVING FUN YET?!

I think you know these things and may just need a reminder because sometimes it's hard to think straight when you are very tired.

Also, when you are tired,
you might decide to sit in the backyard
and let your next door neighbor parent your kids.
This is legit.

Here's something you may not know: it doesn't necessarily get easier, but you will get stronger. It's true. I promise. I remember when I had my first, and I was tired and overwhelmed, and there may or may not have been one night early on when my mom brought Littles to me and I told her I'd just nursed him and I wasn't ready to do it again. She gently refrained from laughing in my face--and I manned up and nursed that poor baby. But last month, I drove two days with four sick kids who had excess fluid coming out both ends and a baby who wanted to stop and nurse every 2.5 hours (and never timed her meals for when we were already pulled over to clean up barf), and while it wasn't fun, I handled it. Because...it didn't necessarily get easier, but I got stronger. And you will too.

This picture goes with a comment in the paragraph below about
Twinkle being a ridiculously happy baby.
Also, she's rocking those eyebrows.

You get stronger because there is such a thing as muscle memory, and it's not just for exercise. This is one of the reasons why breast feeding moms are encouraged to get through the first six weeks if they can. Because at some point, your muscle memory kicks in and your brain tells itself, "Hey, I've done this before, and it stunk, but I got through it, so I'll probably get through it again." This is also the reason adding kid number five hasn't been as hard as some of you might be imagining it would be (that and Twinkle is a ridiculously happy baby). My body is used to nights of interrupted sleep. It remembers how to nurse, how to change a diaper in the dark, how to unfold a stroller with one hand while grasping a wiggling baby and the diaper bag in the other.

Side note: you don't have to have five children to get to this point.

These were the test run children. Now I know what's up.

Every day that you make the choice to get out of bed and Mom like a Boss, your body and brain (and heart!) are filing away information, telling themselves "Oh, so this is what it means to be a mom." And later, when you need it, the muscle memory will kick in, and you will be able to handle without blinking things that would've pushed you over the edge in the early days. You will grow because you are adaptable and strong and resilient. And because God gives us incredible amounts of grace in these days.

Sometimes the biggest measure of
God's grace is a happy 5th child.

The last thing I want to remind you of is something I think I've said before (and flagrantly stole from a friend): this is hard, but you can do it. Say it to yourself as many times a day as you need. Because each time that you acknowledge that it's hard (which is true) while simultaneously rising to the occasion, you are training those muscles up in the way they should go...which will hopefully help you as you're trying to train up your children in the way they should go.

Naturally, you hope they will go the way
of the books. They will.

If it's hard, say so. There's nothing wrong with that. It doesn't mean that you don't love your kid. It also doesn't mean that you can't do it. You are made by God, in his image, and He doesn't make mistakes. This doesn't mean you will get everything right the first time, but that you have the capacity to do incredibly challenging things with His help.

So, new mom, it may not get easier, but you will get stronger. And while this is hard, you can do it. Hang in there.

Yours,
Another Mom in the Trenches


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Myth of the Supermom

Once upon a time, I was asked to write a blog about being a Supermom. Naturally, since the Man is on a week long out of town trip and I'm kicking it with all five kids, now is the opportune time to rise to the occasion and instruct all of you in the Ways of Awesomeness.

First, I'd like to extend an invitation to come spend some time in my home. Seriously, there is no better way for you to learn the ropes than to watch me in action. You will note Exhibit A) me yelling at my kids and only grudgingly apologizing hours later, Exhibit B) just how little actually gets done during the day, Exhibit C) some seriously impressive three year old tantrums, Exhibit D) me reading novels when I should be parenting, and Exhibit E) a goodly amount of chaos. Also, while you're here, can I please take a nap?

And I need a nap because keeping up with all of these kids is hard work.

If, after your foray into my home, you still believe in the Myth of the Supermom, I will tell you my secret. Come closer. Seriously, lean in a little bit farther. I'm getting ready to pretend whisper into your ear only to surprise you by yelling. Are you ready?

THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A SUPERMOM.

Public service announcement:
This kid knows first hand that there is no Supermom.
He is Super Good at getting into trouble.
He also has Super Awesome bed head.

Supermoms are like magical pregnancy unicorns. They may be able to wear five inch heels and flounce around majestically in their third trimester before popping out a beautiful bouncing baby without a milligram of pain medicine, but sooner or later, something is going to bite them in the rear. And it may be the aforementioned beautiful bouncing baby that they just accidentally sat on in their newly sleep deprived state.

We all have moments when we think that we are rocking it, when we think we have achieved the perfect state of the Supermom (or the magical pregnancy unicorn). When you are in that moment, enjoy it while it lasts. Nothing lasts forever but those moments really are great to remember. Personally, I like to look back on the day when I managed to change a poopy toddler while nursing a newborn. On the days when I have to bodily straightjacket a screaming, hitting, biting three year old, I remember that, once, I too was awesome. But no one is awesome all the time. Except for Jesus. And last time I checked, He wasn't in the running for Supermom.

This kid is so happy that sometimes...
she makes me look pretty Super.

Now that we have debunked the Myth of the Supermom, I do want to say a few things to encourage you, oh sister in the trenches of motherhood. One: every pregnancy is different, every child is different, every mother is different, every family is different, every stage of life is different. Figure out what works best for your family--in this stage that you're in--and don't worry about the rest of it. What works for someone else may not work for you. Then again, it might be worth a shot. Who knows? The point is: everyone is different (say it again: everyone is different). Do what works for your family. Let the rest of it go. Comparisons are odious.

I said "odious" above, not "odorous".
Littles' feet after a long day of playing in the yard are odorous.
Luckily for him, Trigger doesn't care.

Second: cut yourself some slack. And yes, this is me, preaching to the choir. Most of us are our own worst critics. Guess what? You don't have to be Supermom. You just need to be you. Case in point: I lost my temper yesterday with one of my lovely and challenging young children, but Littles informed me I only lost it a little bit so you know what? I'm taking that for a win and refusing to wallow in guilt. Stop beating yourself up. There's no such thing as a Supermom.

Sometimes cutting yourself slack means letting Kid No. 2 read to Kid No. 3.

Third: laugh about it. I think a lot about that Princess Bride quote: if you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything. But in parenting, if you haven't got your sense of humor, you haven't got anything. See, if you don't laugh about the fact that your son called from the bathroom, "Mom! I made the Great Lakes! Look! There's Lake Michigan!" you might start to suffer from anxiety or high blood pressure. If you can't laugh about the fact that the twins used "rest" time to rearrange their room by shoving the bunk bed away from the wall, unloading all of the clothes from their dresser, constructing a humongous maze of dumped toys, and adding a shining pool of pee in one corner and some new marker-to-the-wall artwork, you might literally explode like a blender with its top off. My new plan these days is to remember that I would've laughed about it eight years ago before I actually had kids of my own, which tells me that somewhere, deep in the recesses of my heart, I can dig up the ability to laugh about it now. Hopefully.

If you can't laugh at yourself or your own kids,
feel free to laugh at mine.
Finally, and this is one that I learned from a friend recently and am still trying desperately to implement in my own life: prioritize kindness. There's a lot of things your kids will not remember about their childhood, but how you treated your kids probably isn't one of them. So if you have to choose between getting dinner on the table on time and not screaming at your kids, choose the late dinner. If you have to choose between a Pinterest perfect craft that you can photograph and then put on Facebook and not losing your temper due to shattered expectations, choose just a simple coloring sheet and move on. If you have to choose between a pristine home and losing your ever loving mind, go ahead and start naming those dust bunnies so you can count them as pets. Most of the time, you won't have to choose. You seem like the kind of person who can be awesome and kind at the same time (obviously: you are kindly choosing to spend your time being awesome by reading my blog). But for me, sometimes I have to stop trying so hard for awesome and just settle for kind. It matters more.

I'm sorry I crushed your dreams of being Supermom.
Feel free to try your hand at being Captain America,
but know you've got some competition.

We all want to be Supermom. But let's just be honest: there are days and then there are days. Celebrate your Super moments (and the Super moments of other moms you see), laugh about the off days, and for the rest of it...make like Elsa and let it go. You've got better things to do with your time.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Sharing Our Plenty

A few weeks ago, I saw a friend post on Facebook asking how other parents of littles manage to fit in a quiet time. I didn't have a chance to comment because--Five Kids--but I had a quick moment of empathy because, let's be honest, the struggle is real (see photographic evidence below).

Bruiser not included because he was too busy throwing a tantrum.
Twinkle got in on the action, empathetic soul that she is.
Bee was not impressed.

There are seasons of plenty and then sometimes there are seasons that just are not. And while we may find ourselves with an abundance of one thing (in my case, children), occasionally that leads to a deficit in another (in my case, the brain waves and time required to study God's word). But here's the beautiful part of being in community: what I may lack at this moment, someone else may have in profusion. And sometimes that someone may have so much that a little bit of their plenty can overflow into my life.

Here's an example. A couple weeks ago, the Man's younger brother sent him a message that included a quotation about God's sovereignty and timing. The Man, in turn, passed it on my way.  It was something so small, but sent from a generous heart, it encouraged my thoughts back to God's goodness and lifted my spirit that day. Neither my brother-in-law nor my husband were under any compulsion to share, but they did, out of their overflow, and ministered to my heart, which was in need.


I share this for two reasons. One, if you find yourself in a season of need, don't kick yourself while you're down. This isn't the time to put yourself on a guilt trip for not having an hour long quiet time. Look for the little ways God is still speaking to you. When I was surviving the twins, my quiet times were 5 minutes on the toilet with a little book of blessings from Scripture. Maybe you just have time to listen to a few short verses as you drive to work. Maybe you don't manage to touch your Bible in between Sundays. Sure, it's not ideal. We know that. But that doesn't mean God can't speak to you in other ways. So pay attention: He might be using someone else to draw you into His presence.

That brings me to number two. If you, on the other hand, find yourself in a season of plenty: share the wealth. If you have time to pray for someone, let them know. If you learned something in your quiet time, tell someone about it. If you read something that made you think more deeply about Jesus, text the quote to a friend. You never know who might need to share in what you are learning.

We all go through different seasons of life. When I am in a season of need, sometimes it's hard not to look back longingly at the season of plenty, when really, I should be giving thanks for what I learned during that time and continuing to wait for the unique ways God might speak to me even now.