Monday, September 30, 2013

Letting Go of Control

Oh Facebook, I don't have time for you. There are too many "friends" on there and I have things to do. And blog posts to write.

Today was, maybe kind of still is, a not-so-very-good-terrible-day. Or at least that's what I was thinking until about thirty minutes ago, or maybe an hour ago.

Now, let me start by saying that last Monday was AMAZING. It was like the perfect day sent down from heaven to us. The weather was perfect, we went on a walk, we did a ton of school, the kids were good, lunch was easy... it was beautiful. This Monday may have been the complete opposite.

Maybe I need to couch that in saying that there were good things that happened today, they just didn't happen according to plan. We did make it to the grocery store and we did spend an exorbitant amount of money. Levi rode through about half the store on TOP of the little car that goes in the front of the cart. No one said anything to me. I fed them goldfish in order to save our sanity. It took us about an hour and a half. Last time I went to the grocery store by myself and it took me 45 minutes. I remember flying through the store and thinking, I get to look at prices and compare things and I get to move when I want to move and stay when I want to stay.

We did no school today. Deep sigh. I kind of, sort of tried to do school today. The problem is that when I don't have everything set up perfectly, it's difficult for us to get to the table. If I'm not looking over his shoulder, it's hard to get him to do things. I also didn't finish cutting things out last night, so we didn't have our letter "G" to lace. also, the kitchen and dining room were still a bit of a mess and it was driving me crazy. And I needed to make my grocery list and as soon as we got back from the grocery it was time for lunch. They didn't want to eat lunch because I had fed them half a bag of goldfish. Of course.

Lunch was filled with tears of us trying to get Aria to eat her sandwich. I have not done a very good job at getting past her pickyness, plus, it's the stage that she's in. I am having flashbacks of when Levi was this age and dinner times were just plain traumatic sometimes. Note to self: it helps if they are actually HUNGRY. The problem with letting a toddler who can't quite communicate their needs get hungry is that then they are angry as well. Oh the dinners I have fixed with a screaming kid pulling at my clothes. Oh the times I have wished for a padded room... It may be worse trying to get through a grocery store with screaming children though, I'm not sure. As is evident, I have not figured out how to do that.

I tried to lay them down for naps at 12:50. By about 1:10 Aria was hysterically screaming in her room. It occurred to me that maybe she was finally hungry and needed something to eat before she went down. Levi was hungry too. After they ate I just let them play. I was tired of fighting. I had fought them all morning and now I was just going to let whatever happened happen. What a good mom I am... (says sarcastically).

The best part of it all, was that they actually played together. They were running around, jumping and chasing and having a great time. Probably because they knew they were delaying nap time, but I really didn't care at that point. I loaded the dishwasher, made some pesto and just listened to them. More than anything, I want them to be friends. I want them to love each other, I want them to be on the same team and enjoy each other.

Eventually they went down for naps. The house is still standing and we live to tell about another day.

Lord, help me. I need Thee every hour, every hour I need Thee. Help me to know what is important. Help me to discipline and love my children in wisdom. Help me to see the good, the successes. Help me to rejoice in every day because it's the day that You have made. Thank You that each afternoon is new, each morning is new, each evening is new. You make all things new and Your mercies are new. Thank You for kids that keep me on my toes and surprise me daily. Thank You for peace and patience that I could not muster on my own. Thank You that we will get to add another one of these crazy kids to our family soon. What a humbling, wonderful gift they are.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Mom Struggles

Whenever I want to blog our internet usually stops working. Why is that?? I usually just have to reset the router, but by the time I go through all of that, I've lost the motivation to blog. As you can see, I'm easily dissuaded. But today I will persevere!

I finally, finally, FINALLY got Levi to nap today. Woohoo! He really needed a nap yesterday, and the day before that, but when I fight him it usually just blows up in my face and I spend an hour and a half getting angrier and angrier at him and then finally give up and let him skip his nap. I will try all kinds of strategies: reading more books (problem is that I'm usually the one falling asleep at that point), singing more songs as softly as I can, cuddling with him, laying in bed with him, not laying in bed with him and spanking him he gets out of his bed or is not LAYING in the bed with his head on the pillow (I often come in and he's sitting there, playing with his animals. I've taken away animals, used different pillows (fail), cried, begged and pleaded. Sometimes he just doesn't nap.

Last night he was a basket case. Ben and I had not seen him like that in a long time. It confirmed the fact that he is not ready to completely be done with the nap. Whew. I'm definitely mourning that alone time. I'm sure every mom mourns when her first child drops their nap. I'm sure after this I will never mourn dropping naps again. What's the point really? If one's awake, why not have them all up?

Today Aria and Levi were  fighting over a toy dog. I've decided that I am not going to allow them to have "mine" and "yours" every toy is "ours" who had it first? I hate that one too. If the rule is finders keepers, what in the world does that reinforce? Just because someone got to the toy first? What if they pushed their little sister down to get to that toy? I'm still working on this one.

Anyways, Levi had the toy and Aria was chasing him and screaming. He likes to be chased. What kid doesn't? He also likes to tease her. But, I don't want her to learn that she will get something just because she screams for it. So, I took the toy away and put it on the mantel. (Our mantel ends up piling up with all kinds of things I want to keep out of reach for the kids, I gotta find a new system.) Aria was still hysterical. Now she really wasn't getting the toy. Levi went and sat on the couch.

I have a hard time with when she is crying like this, do I let her throw her temper tantrum or do I try to stop her and let her know that is not acceptable behavior? Looking back on the situation now, she was probably the one who had and wanted the toy to begin with. After she had been screaming for several minutes and becoming more and more hysterical Levi said, "Just give her the toy mom!" No way am I giving it to her at this point. I am not following instructions from a three year old and I'm not giving into the tantrum of my 20 month old.

I decided to take the toy and put it in a closet where it would not be seen. Aria didn't even notice that I took it off the mantel. She proceeded to climb on top of the fire place, onto a Little People's parking garage. As I was putting the toy in the closet I heard a crash and scream. Yep. She had fallen off the parking garage and hit her face on the fireplace.

Champion mom moment. Oh my.

Now I had a little girl who was not only angry that she didn't get what she wanted, but she was also maimed. What do you do? Comfort her? Tell her that she was being too stubborn in the first place?

Aria is just at such a difficult age with limited ability to communicate but very definite opinions. So many times I am at a loss. I want her to know that I love her and I want the best for her, but I also don't want her to grow up spoiled. Where is the line?

Lord, help me. Every day. Every hour, every minute... help! Give me wisdom to look into her little heart, to show her that I love her and I want the best for her and because I want the best for her I'm not going to give her what she wants. Oh my, this is difficult to communicate to both my children. Thank You that You do the same with us. You are faithful and wise and give us exactly what we need, even if we don't want it in that moment. Thank You for these little mirrors that I can look into and see my own life and struggles and how perfect of a parent You are. Help me to trust You. Help me to keep my tantrums at a minimum. Help me to delight in You and know that You have my best interests at heart.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Aria Stories

Talking with some other young moms this morning about the difficulty of the 18 month to 2 1/2 age. What's tough about this age is the fact that they are curious and can do a lot of stuff, but it's very difficult for them to communicate what they want or need. They understand a lot and they are also very much developing a will and opinion. They just can't quite dialogue about it yet.

One mom said, "So what do you do?"

My response: write down the stories.

Here are a few Aria Stories. Just for the record.

Once we were in the grocery store and Aria had been wanting to get out of the cart the whole time. Big mistake ever letting a kid out of the cart, they will be asking themselves, "Why would I ever let mom put me in that thing again?" And it's all over from there. So FINALLY we get to the checkout (and it's been a big, long trip) and I decide, what's the harm? I'll get her out and let her stretch her legs. I am a complete idiot honestly. So I'm wedged between the grocery cart and the checkout and trying to load stuff onto the conveyer belt and keep an eye on my toddler and honestly, who knows where Levi is at this point? This is totally a dumb mom moment. After I'm halfway through my cart another grocery store worker comes up to me with Aria and asks "Is this yours?" Upon closer observation I see she is holding a glass bottle of BEER. Yep. The baby is mine. Maybe I need to buy that beer and take it home and drink it too. Or just go hide.

Yesterday I was doing school with Levi. Normally, its a good idea to just put Aria in her crib. As usual, the safest place for a 20 month old is a contained place. But we had been eating breakfast while doing school and then she wanted down and so I let her down, foolishly thinking that she would just push her grocery cart around quietly while we worked. Foolishly. After about 15 minutes I thought, Aria has been really quiet, I wonder where she is? The next thing I knew she came into the dining room proudly displaying her hands and legs that hard strange black marks on them. I thought, has been been playing with a sharpie? Nope, it was mascara. I went back into our bathroom and sure enough, she had smeared it into the off white carpet. Next time she is going in her crib.

She's going through a phase of opening and closing doors. Usually I will just hear a door opening and closing somewhere in the house. The good thing is that she has never hurt herself unless someone else was involved (most likely Levi) and happened to push it open or close it on her. My favorite thing is to get on the other side of the door and when she opens it to scare her. She loves it.

Her main words right now are "wook" (look) "no" and "huck" (hug) She especially loves to show her daddy her dress or hat or bow.

So, those are a few Aria stories to look back on, learn from and laugh at.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fear of Suffering

Oh man, I have said this many times before, but sometimes I just don't want to blog. That's ridiculous. Jody, why do you have a blog then? Why are you typing right now?

I guess I blog to just put myself out there, to say what no one wants to say out loud. Many times before I do something I don't want to do, I have to just say so out loud. For some reason, it helps.

I don't want to blog.


Fear. That's what I was thinking about today during our sermon at church. I love our pastor, can I just say that? At one point he was talking about how God leads us through suffering because He is preparing us to lead others. Whenever I hear people talk about suffering... I don't know, I just feel like we haven't had a lot of it. I mean, this past season of Ben rupturing his achilles and me being pregnant and sick and dealing with two little kids, that was hard, but I don't know if it was tragic, painful... I don't know, I just don't know that it was suffering.

I remember when I was first pregnant and hearing this couple on the radio talk about having a still-birth. I have never miscarried, but I'm not sure it would be as hard on me as waiting a whole 8-9 months and then giving birth and the child die. I just don't know. (I need to be knocking on wood right now). Honestly, I have been thinking, "why have I been able to get pregnant so easily and others around me struggle for so long?" Why have I had two and a half completely healthy pregnancies and others around me struggle?

Part of me worries. I struggle with a bit of fear that we have not been through major suffering yet. Something could happen to us or our children... thankfully, I don't walk around thinking about that all the time.

Two things: I don't want to be exempt from suffering and I want to go through suffering because I know it will bring me closer to God. I want my relationship with Him to be strengthened.

I think it just grips my heart to think that something could happen to my children or my husband that God would use as suffering. I'm not at all saying that is always the case and this is bound to happen and my children WILL be instruments in the process of strengthening my faith.

Lord, I don't know what You will do. I know I want to be close to You and I want not to fear. Help me to focus on my family now. Help me to keep my mind on what is important. Help me to teach my children about You and Your goodness no matter what. I want to follow You whatever the cost, teach me to trust and to move forward. Help me not to be afraid of the unknown. Thank You for the good and precious gifts that You have given us. Help us not to take them for granted for one little moment. I give it to You. I ask that You would strengthen Ben and me as parents, as husband and wife, strengthen us and grow us together in You.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Pregnancy Update 23 Weeks

It's a beautiful Saturday morning! Fall is in the air and I LOVE it.

I'm now 23 weeks. In some ways it has sped by, but I realize I still have a while to go. I'm only going to get bigger from here... that's just a scary thought. I was just listening to a girl who just had a baby, saying that the night after she had her, she had the best sleep in a while. Oh yeah, waking up every hour to pee... I'm not looking forward to that.

I'm going to have to really start watching my posture. Especially when I sit. The problem is that I love my recliner! I love putting my feet up. The problem is that, it causes the baby to be positioned wrong in the womb and be more posterior (they are facing the wrong way, this makes them coming out more difficult and painful). At the same time, I'm only 23 weeks, so I probably won't have to watch it until I'm more like 30-35 weeks. Still, I have to watch out as well that I am sitting up straight, walking properly, and standing properly so I don't pop out a rib again.

I've been feeling a lot of kicks in the upper right side of my belly. It's been cool to think about him spinning around in there. I think for the most part, he is kind of sideways and head down.

The awesome part is that still, at 23 weeks I feel pretty awesome. I still have a lot of energy and we are still getting a lot accomplished. And by a lot, I mean, as much as you can with two little kids and homeschooling and discipline and part-time cloth diapering and cleaning up mess after mess.

Examples: there is a bunch of stone ground oatmeal in our dining room carpet right now because Levi has been playing with it and won't keep it in the pan. Yesterday, while the kids were waiting for me to fix their quesadillas, they swept the grated cheese onto the floor. I asked Levi who was going to sweep it up off the floor. He looked at me and said, "YOU are!" Thank you Levi, thank you for adding just one more thing to my work load.

Sometimes it's okay to just get around to the messes when I get around to it. Thankfully I have a very gracious and helpful husband. We have miraculously still been able to host people and have a somewhat presentable house. We just ignore the fact that we have no doors on our lower cabinets. :)

Levi Story:
Oh, I just have to inject here, my favorite thing that Levi does is talk about the past. He usually starts out by saying, "When I was two years old... " and he will say something completely inaccurage. Like that Aria was bigger than he was. Or how he was the size of a lima bean... I think it's his way of trying to make sense of what we say as adults and how we reference the past. I love it.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Life with Levi

I'm taking a break from cleaning the kitchen because I just realized, both my kids are ASLEEP. It's actually possible to sit and think right now.

Naps have been becoming more rare for Levi lately. He will be four in a few months, so I'm sure he's bound to outgrow them sometime. I'm just realizing this phase of my life is going to come to an end, the phase where there will always be a nap time break in the afternoon. It's okay though because he does play independently so well, the thought of this phase used to terrify me, but now I'm beginning to see that it will be okay.

Speaking of Levi... oh so many things I want to blog about him.

Right now, I'm realizing how dramatic he can be. Usually the drama heightens as he becomes more sleep-deprived. I'm praying for patience and wisdom as to how to deal with a child who falls over on the floor and howls at the top of his lungs when he doesn't get exactly what he wants. Maybe I give him a drink in a blue cup instead of the cup with Lightning McQueen (why in the world did I buy those  cups in the first place?!) Or when I try to put him to bed, or when he wants to sleep on one of the throw pillows from the couch instead of the regular pillows people use on their beds.

He also has a tendency to ask for things and not accept "no" as an answer. It can be mind-numbing. I've begun to tell him that if he even asks for this certain thing again he will get a spanking. This often does not deter him. It's difficult because I want to give him things that he asks for. I want to appease him, just simply because I love him and I believe that's what God does for us as his children. He will give us what we ask for. Although, I'm just now recalling a scripture in James that talks about asking inside of His will. Maybe this will give me something to discuss with Levi. When he asks for something that mommy already has in her will and would be good for the family, he will get it.

I don't mean to paint such a negative picture though. This little boy... there are so many things about him that even as I sit here, I am amazed at what a blessing he is in my life. What a blessing he is in general. Ben pointed out that recently Levi has been very cuddly, especially before bedtimes. Sometimes he will just want to lay there and hug and cuddle for a few minutes. We have found that this will prevent many spankings and getting out of bed later. Poor little guy, how long did it take us to figure that one out?

He loves to include Aria in his adventures. He sets up a chair at the end of the couch "so that she won't fall" (I think really, she would just fall onto the wooden chair than the floor, I'm not sure it would help much. He helps feed her too. I was offering her a sandwich, trying to get her to take a bite, but she refused. I set it down and he picked it up and offered it to her, she opened wide! I didn't know whether to be mad or glad at this.

Every time Aria has to go to bed, he always asks for a hug and a kiss. I love these times. I am looking forward to watching their friendship grow between them. I believe these are precious building blocks that will pull them closer together. I know it won't always be this simple with them being little and everything, but I want them to just truly be friends right now.

Lord, help me to parent these kids. I'm so weak and so many times I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. Give me patience, help me to head off tantrums. Help me to realize that my children are not perfect and I am not perfect either. Give me strength Lord, I need it.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

A Confession

Taking a break from projecting right now. The truth is, I really just don't want to go out and paint in 97 degree weather. Maybe I'm just a wimp.

I'm about 22 and a half weeks. Pregnancy isn't something you can speed up or slow down, it just is what it is. I'm feeling pretty good these days, but wondering if I'm gaining a little more weight than I should...

I've been wanting to blog in the afternoons, honestly, just because that is when I'm always so tempted just to eat. It may be my worst time of day as far as temptation goes. I'm usually tired, I'm usually alone and usually I feel like it's "my time" to do whatever I want. Also, I am usually starving by about 3 o clock (or at least it feels like I am).

Honesty Room: I have not wanted to give this area over to the Lord lately. I've wanted to keep my eating to myself, I've enjoyed it and I have run to it as a source of comfort.

I've been reading in Ezekiel lately. I've never really read Ezekiel and didn't know much about him. I'm super duper proud of how I'm STILL on track for reading the whole Bible chronologically this year. This is the first time I've read the Bible in a year and I have to say, it is awesome. Do it. Stick with it. It's hard at times, but it's good.

So, Ezekiel is probably the most graphic prophet I've read yet. I always though Hosea was the most scandalous, but really, it's Ezekiel. He has the most visions from God, direct, crazy visions, and his prophecies are intense. Like when he was prophesying to a religious leader and the guy just dropped dead, or the analogy about Israel being found and nurtured by God, then they went and prostituted themselves out to other nations.

Anyways, this morning I was reading in chapters 31-34 and it just talked about obeying God and how these people talk like they are believers, but they do not act that way. They do not depend on God. They still sin in secret. I was so convicted in my heart that I had not been trusting in God. I had been trusting in me. I had been running to pleasures.

Lord, help me to run to You. It is so hard, and those voices of sin are so strong within me. I see how sin destroys and leaves us emptier than we were before. I pray that I would overcome. Thank You for the songs this morning that talk about how You are stronger, You break the chains of our sin, You have risen and sin is broken. Please continue to break the sins inside of me.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Balancing life, projects and homeschool

We are now in the middle of project mode. We've been working on our kitchen for at least a month now (Ben estimated that it would take about three months, I was hoping for less, we will see.) With each weekend or stint we bite off a little more. At first it was just two cabinets and over the sink, then it was seven cabinets, this weekend we are attacking all of our lower cabinets and island. It helped that my parents took the kids last night and Ben's dad came over this morning to help us paint.

I realized about a week and a half ago that I needed to choose one: working on the kitchen or exercising. On days that I exercised I was too tired or it took up too much time and energy to do any projects. I figure if I press on for a while the project will end sooner, the weather will cool down and walks will become much more a part of our lives.

Homeschooling is going well so far. We are doing lessons plans from, just the preK curriculum. We never do all the lessons prescribed, but I give us a lot of grace since he's only three and a half. He is doing really well with recognizing the letters we have talked about so far "A" and "B". I will be reading along when suddenly he says, "I see an A!" and points out an "A" it's very exciting.

I never thought I would be a homeschool mom. Is that terrible? That's terrible. I swore I would never marry a homeschooler and that I would not homeschool. I mean, maybe in the back of my mind I would consider it, but never really thought I would. But really, the Lord has given me a heart for just teaching at home. I feel like right now I can do a good job with Levi and interact with him and just teach him. I like the one on one time, it's been good just for our relationship to sit down and work together. Yes, sometimes I would rather be checking my email or doing something around the house, but then I remember, this is my SON, he is not going to stay little forever.

Speaking of teaching, Aria is learning to talk. I LOVE this part. It's like you put something into their little brains like, "house" or "cheese" or if you really want a laugh "hippopotamus" then you get to see what comes out. Sometimes it sounds vaguely similar, sometimes it's not close at all. I love it. I usually laugh and tell her she does a good job. However, it's important for me to be able to understand my children. It's also important to me that OTHERS understand my children. (I want to know all of the cute things they are trying to communicate.) So sometimes when Aria does pronounce a word completely wrong, I try to correct her.

My method of correcting speech is this: I smile and tell her she did a good job, then I get down on her level, look at her and we pronounce whatever consonant she was trying to say. If it was "play" I will just sit and say the "P" sound. If she stays interested, we will move on to the L sound and so forth. More than anything, I want her to see my mouth moving and experience what it is doing. I want her to see the difference between a "D" and a "T". This is just my method. I did it with Levi and I have gotten a lot of compliments about how well he speaks. I am quite proud. Although, it did take him a long time to say his L's (which he can say quite well now) and he still has trouble with the word "air conditioner" :)

All in all, I feel like I'm slowly learning that if one area is going to get focused on, another area has to give. My house will not be immaculate, especially during projects. If I spend a lot of time on facebook, I probably won't get what I need to get done. It's all kind of a balancing act. There's no such thing as the perfect mom, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep trying to focus on what needs focus at that point.