Confessions of THIS mom, Part 1…sleeping, or the lack of

I am not a morning person.  I really want to be, but I have figured out that sleep is too important to me.  That may sound really dumb, but let me explain.  Since having kids and staying home with them, I have realized that if I don’t get sleep I am not a very good mom at all.  The newborn stage of kids, I would say by far, is the hardest stage of life.  Keeping up with the demands of a newborn and other kids can be brutal and I had a hard time keeping my head straight because I wasn’t sleeping.  After my first baby I had to go back to work while my husband finished his last semester of his bachelor degree and found a job.  I worked four 10-hour days, which really was like 12 hours away because of driving time and lunch time.  I woke up at 5 am every morning to pump milk and then get ready to go to work.  I pumped at work as well and came home around 7 pm to feed her and put her to bed.  The schedule was brutal.  For my last baby my husband was in graduate school. Even though I was able to stay at home and not work it was still hard because I was aware of my husband’s need to sleep to be able to function.  SO…as my kids have grown I have found myself wondering how in the world did I ever survive?  But I did.

Now, I just know that I need sleep.  I really want to be that mom that wakes up early, exercises, fixes a wonderful breakfast for her husband and her kids and walks out the door ready to go, but that is not my reality.  Yes, most of the time I take my kids to school in my pajamas.  I have tried at times to wake up before my kids and exercise, but WITHOUT fail my kids always wake up earlier than my alarm…ALWAYS!!!!!  I have tried at times to wake up early and read in the quiet of the morning, but my eyes are usually burning because of lack of sleep.  Granted, I am not the best sleeper.  If something wakes me up…uh said children…it takes me A LONG time to get back to sleep.  I am jealous sometimes of the ability that my sweet husband has to just roll over and be in dream land…how would it be?  So I am trying to embrace my need for some more sleep.  Scott and I have an unwritten rule that we don’t stay up past a certain time.  I try and get as many things done at night after the kids have gone to sleep and call it a day.  No, I will probably never be the person that gets up early and exercises (I wish I was because I am not the best at exercising) but I will at least be able to be a good mom because I have gotten some sleep!

Today my four year-old asked me why I am always tired…I could have named a lot of things i.e. daylight savings time, but instead I asked him why he was always grumpy at breakfast.  He didn’t have an answer, just a little head nod, and we moved on with our day.  To all of you moms out there that are morning people, you amaze me and I hope that one day I can be more like you!

Being Defined

I have been thinking a lot about some conversations I had with an old friend, a long time ago now, about being defined.  The conclusion was we can either be defined by the world, or by God.  I want to explore both of those.  By being defined by the world, it would be by the things we have, by what clothes we wear, by having the most, the best and the beautiful is the desired outlook.  I like to think of this as being defined by the “natural man”.  By being defined by God, it would be our soul, our relationship with Him, the true desires of our hearts, and our willingness to trust Him.

I began thinking about how I could bring these two more in line with each other.  And then I was reminded of a scripture I know in the Book of Mormon. It comes from Mosiah where a King/Prophet is telling his people his last words to them.

19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

God

World

-daughter/son of royalty -car                                            -clothes
-spiritual gifts -house                                       -money
-knowledge of truth -body type/size
-desires of heart -charisma

Feels like

-peaceful and safe -comparison to others
-better than I think I am -never good enough
-unique, no comparison needed -criticism is at the core
-infinite potential -no perfection ever reached
-takes me where I am, builds me up and allows me to learn -scared

Do I want to be in the middle? No, not really.  The natural man, or the carnal man, is an enemy to God.  Trying to be defined in the middle of the world and God isn’t comfortable, and it never will be.  How can I see myself through God’s eyes (and see others the same way) and put off that natural man?  Go back to the scripture above…I need to become as a child…submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, and willing to submit.  This hits me hard.  How many times as a parent to I inflict MY will on my kids and really they have NO CHOICE?  Most of the time they are willing to submit to me (going to the store, sitting in the school pick up line, eating their dinner) am I as willing?

I need to YIELD my heart to God.  To yield means “to give up and cease resistance or contention” according to my friend Merriam-Webster.  There is an action required on our part to yield.  A couple more scriptures, if you want to look them up, go for it!  2 Chr 30:8- yield to the Lord and ENTER His sanctuary, Helaman 3:35- yield your heart=become SANCTIFIED (becoming submissive and teachable), and Romans 6:13 (12-14)- less likely to sin because yield to RIGHTEOUSNESS, not the opposite.  So I can’t have both, I can’t just straddle the fence.  So where does my sense of self come from?

This is a hard question to answer.  Truthfully I struggle with my self esteem…my natural man is always telling me that I am not enough.  Not pretty enough, not skinny enough, not fashionable enough, not able to be an amazing decorator…blah blah.  So if my sense of self comes from the world/natural man= temporary, finite, and corruptible.  But if my sense of self comes from God=Infinite and eternal.  It is hard when one seems so tangible and the other not touchable but is more FELT on the inside.  As I am working to quiet my natural man and to truly YIELD to the spiritual, it truly is a fight! Like everyday.

My biggest battle, I want to please everyone.  I want to be able to do everything great all the time, and look great, but you know what…I can’t.  I can try my best and TRUST that God will make up the rest.  That said I am not saying everything worldly is bad.  Our bodies are a gift.  I am amazed at how much I can do with this body of mine, even though I am not slim.  I am trying as hard as I can to do my best with it but it is not perfect.  Control what you can control, do your best and give up the rest!

And one more scripture: 1 John 3:20 God is greater than our heart.

There are times when I don’t know if I can do it, but you know what? God knows and I choose to trust Him.

Two relaxing things

Everyone has something that they love to do to just relax and let go right?  Well, I have two things.  #1 Reading…okay, you probably could figure that out, right?!  Who wouldn’t want to curl up with a good book and just read.  My only problem with reading lately is that I keep falling asleep.  I really want to read, I wait all day to read in the quiet, but I am just too tired!!  So I don’t get my full stress relief from reading.  It is sad.  But, I still love reading.  My wonderful hubby has a fun blog on creativity and he just blogged about what he likes to read.  You should check it out on this link. I am pretty much in line with him, I don’t read a ton of fiction and I really LOVE autobiographies/biographies.

Ready for #2??

I LOVE baking.  Seriously, that is one of the reasons that I love when it is cooler weather, it gives me a chance to bake.  I think it fulfills me in many ways.  It is relaxing to me, it makes me calm down and focus and take time for something.  It is a creative outlet for me.  That may sound funny, but baking really is a way for me to create something, to hold it in my hands.  It is something tangible that was created with love for others.  My favorite thing to bake is bread.  Come on, who doesn’t love a warm buttery roll or fresh bread.  Ah…I can smell it now.  And you know what the other great thing is…I get to eat something amazingly delicious! Another thing I love is that I can share it with others and it makes others happy.

A few weeks ago I tried out a new bread recipe…it was a mixed grain bread and it was so good.  The first loaf was gone in less than 15 minutes.  It made a lot of bread though and so I took some to a super nice couple that lives close to me.  Last year they brought us a WARM loaf of homemade bread so I thought it was a great time to pay it forward to them!  (Speaking of paying it forward…this is totally a side note.  I went to Dairy Queen to get a little treat for me and the hubby after the kids went to sleep and when I drove up to pay, the car in front of me had paid for my order.  I had always heard about things like that, but it never happened to me.  Well, I paid for the car behind me.  It was SO awesome!) For one of my sister-in-laws birthday I let her choose what treat she wanted and she chose cinnamon rolls.  I was so happy she did, because I LOVE cinnamon rolls (I made pumpkin cinnamon rolls) and I ate one too! YUM.   So bread, I love it.

I still have not been able to get my Grandma’s bread recipe exactly right.  It always makes good bread, but it is just not exactly like hers was.  She was a wheat bread pro.  I do not own a mixer so I make everything by hand (although my dream is to one day have a Bosch mixer with all the cool attachments :)). My grandma did it by hand, she must have just put more muscle into it or something.  Every time I pull out her recipe I have sweet memories.  I guess that is another reason I love baking and sharing with my kids.  My kids love to be my helpers, although sometimes mom just needs her baking time!  Some of my favorite breads are a rosemary flax bread, wheat bread, spinach barley bread, mixed grain bread, honey oat bread, and of course dinner rolls. I also love making different kinds of bread sticks, flat breads, hamburger buns, and we have homemade pizza every Friday.  I love experimenting with different grains and seeing if my family notices!  We can’t forget the treat side of baking though either!  I would still say that those pumpkin cinnamon rolls are my favorite to make, smell, and eat, but cookies and brownies they definitely count as baking in my mind!

The one thing that I am trying to figure out with baking though…well…I just really love food.  I enjoy making food and I enjoy eating it.  Some times I eat too much.  And that is when I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  I love what my body can do, I have put it through a lot, but you know what…it is not as young as it once was.  I am on the downward slide to 40 (don’t tell!) and I am not as spry as I would like. But, I am focusing on the relaxing qualities of baking.

So happy reading and happy baking.  I am currently reading a book called, “The Crucible of Doubt” and have another book on hold and I know what I am going to read after that.  Maybe I just need to bake something amazing and eat it while I am reading, then I can stay awake 🙂

Believe Him

I read something this past week that I have been thinking about A LOT.

“We come to know the Lord as we not only believe IN Him, but also BELIEVE HIM and His assurances.” David Bednar

This thought has been rolling around in my head almost non-stop.  I kept asking myself that same questions, “Do I really believe in Christ” and “Do I really seriously believe Him”?  The first question was easy for me.  I do believe in Christ!  I know from study, pondering, and prayer that He is real, present, and our Savior.  The second question though was a different matter.  There are many things that I believe that Christ will do and can do for “us” but I never took things personally.  Do I believe that He will help ME, an ordinary red-headed girl living in a great big world?  There are many times I have prayed for someone to receive a certain blessing because I know that Christ would do that for them.  There have been times when my prayers were not as sincere and although I would pray for something, it was more of a trite phrase and I truthfully never though it would happen to me, because again I am just me.

I remember when I was single and trying to be in the dating scene, but just feeling awkward about the whole thing.  I remember thinking that all my roommates deserved to be married and how amazing they were (and they all still are!) and that the boys should just snatch them up.  I also remember praying one night that some day that I would get married and literally saying in my head, “yeah right” and moving on.  Another day I remember talking to God and telling Him that life was good, I had things figured out and it was totally fine if I never got married…and then before I could go on, I stopped myself.  Actually, I just couldn’t go on.  I remember the feeling of truly feeling God’s love at that moment and that I needed to just trust Him. I didn’t believe Him and that assurance, but then not even six months later I was married.

Why do we sell ourselves short?  Why is it so easy for us to see God’s hand in other peoples lives but discount them in our own?  David Bednar reflected on the account of the father that asked the Savior to heal his son in Mark 9:22-23 and then he said this, “[P]erhaps he needed help to believe the Master’s healing power indeed could be so individual and so personalized as to bless his own beloved son.  He may have believed in Christ generally but not believed Christ specifically and personally.”  Yep, that is what I have felt.

But then again, I have had times in my life when I felt God’s love for me SPECIFICALLY and on a very personal level.  I have been healed through the atonement of Jesus Christ, I have been carried on His shoulders and have been buoyed up in times of trouble.  I have many blessings in my life that have come from a loving Heavenly Father, my family has been blessed in many ways, and I have felt His peace.  I need to LIVE that more. I need to be able to not pause when I think about truly believing Him.  I need to trust more and throw out fear.  And I need to believe MY Savior and remember how personally and individually He loves me.

Lately…

Lately, I haven’t felt much like writing.  When I started this blog I promised myself that I was not going to be one of THOSE people who started a blog and loved it for awhile and then left it. Also, my introvert has been coming out and saying that no one really cares and who knows how many people actually read this blog and why do I share things with people who don’t even know me.  I am not leaving…I have just decided that some things are more important that others.  I have found myself the last month reflecting on how important each day is and have been living in the moment, instead of always thinking ahead to what is coming.  I have done that for most of my life.  When this happens…I can’t wait until….I wish it was Saturday.  If I just keep looking toward the next thing, I am truly missing the journey of it all.  It has been amazing to just enjoy what is happening today, NOW, and watch my cute kids as they are learning and growing.

Some kid observations, if you don’t mind… First, my 4 year-old son. He is a constant question, he has questions about everything.  I am so grateful that his little brain is working, and learning, and growing, and sometimes it gets annoying to keep hearing questions but I have become more mindful of his questions and have started answering them truthfully and he is learning that mom AND dad don’t know everything!  Then we get to learn something new!  How fun!  He has also been learning sight words and has been reading.  It is amazing to see him connect all that he is learning and see him realize that HE CAN read!   He has been totally empowered by that!  He is a tender hearted, sweet,tickle lover, rule following and rule stretching kid and I sure love him!

Second, my 2 year-old.  She is such a girly girl.  My other daughter is not, but we are experiencing everything pink and princess.  Some days there are fights between her and her brother because he is calling her by her name and she insists that her name is “Princess Ana”.  She loves to wear a dress and will cry her eyes out if she doesn’t get to wear one . She decides what princess she is by how she wants her hair done.  Two braids or pig tails= Princess Ana, one braid with a beautiful bow=Queen Elsa, hair down=Rapunzel and on and on and she will tell you, “I am a beautiful princess”.  When I ask her if her bed is warm and snuggly, she always responds with “No, my bed is cute.”  She has been picking up on songs, and if she catches you at the piano, expect to stay there.  If she catches you on the couch by the library books, expect to stay there until all are read.  Her first question almost every morning is, “Will you read me a book?”  And if you think a 2 year-old can’t talk, well let me assure you, she can talk, a lot!  She is sweet, super cute, feisty, has her own opinion, and loves to eat condiments and I sure love her!

Lastly, my first born.  My 6 year old who will say, “I am almost 7!!!!!!!” She loves to read.  Over Christmas, Great-Grandma gave her an abridged version of “Anne of Green Gables”.  She has read the whole thing twice, so we decided to get the movie from the library.  I remember waiting for it to come on PBS when I was little and they always had to continue it the next day because it is so long.  Well, we finally got it from the library (we actually had to put it on hold because it was ALWAYS checked out) and started watching it this weekend.  She laughs and laughs and keeps saying, “I won’t tell you what happened next, because I don’t want to ruin it for you.”  I have forgot how great the movie is and it is way more funny now too!  She is learning so much at school and it was awesome to ask her a couple of days ago what the difference between a long “a” and a short “a” is and she totally knew the answer.  It made my English loving husband so proud!  She is sassy, has the greatest belly laugh in the world, is a thinker, creative, a bookworm, and tells me what to do some times, and I sure love her!

Lately I have just been enjoying life.  It has been great to also spend more time with my husband and to read.  Have I told you that I love reading, well I do.  So instead of day dreaming about a post to write, my mind has been busy with being in the present.

Thoughts on a Word

I sat two rows away as I watched people pay their final respects for a great man. The funeral director then asked the family members to come forward.  My mother-in-law waited for her siblings and then she gave her dad one last look.  Grandma then went and gave Grandpa a kiss, a hug, and whispered something in his ear then everyone stepped back.  The last time we would see our dear friend on this earth.  I was bawling.  My kids on my lap where looking at me like I was crazy, their little minds not understanding the sweetness of the moment.

Grandpa died before our anniversary, so we knew after our little celebration at home we would be traveling to go to the funeral.  New Year’s Eve was quiet and the old year passed by in the night, with all of my little ones and my hubby breathing deeply in their sleep.  As I lived that scene above I was just filled with an understanding of the truth that we will see those we love again.  That this life is not all and that there is something higher and bigger than us.

Since this all happened before our anniversary and I was already thinking about the beauty of human love and how amazing of a man I married, my thoughts turned to Grandma and Grandpa. I was reading in the scriptures about how marriage is called of God.  One verse really struck me this time, even though I have read it many times before.

Genesis 2:24

24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

My hubby is a word nerd, so it has rubbed off on me.  So yes, I looked up the word CLEAVE.  Our good friend Merriam-Webster defines cleave as:

to adhere firmly and closely or loyally and unwaveringly.

That is spot on.  When we cleave unto our spouse we are adhered firmly together, we are close, we are loyal, and we are unwavering in our love to one another.  I was grateful for the time that I have had to reflect not just on my own marriage, but to see it in the lives of Grandma and Grandpa, my In-Laws, my Own parents, and many others around.  It pays to look up words that you think you already know the definition to, the meaning becomes deeper, more real, and you can more fully live the definition in your life.

Hold your loved ones close, they are a blessing every day.

The First Decade

This past week me and my sweet hubby celebrated 10 years of marriage!  Woo Hoo!  It some ways I can’t believe that it has already been 10 years, but in another way it feels like we have always been together!  Lots of things have happened in those 10 years and it has been an amazing journey.  My husband has received his Bachelor and Master Degree, we have had three wonderfully cute kids, been through some learning times, made lots of memories, and continue to make memories.

20161230_091539

There have been lots of changes in those 10 years.  When we got married Scott did not like pizza.  Now, that is just down right crazy, isn’t it.  Well, he likes it now!  Every Friday at our house is pizza Friday (usually homemade :)).  He also didn’t like spaghetti…sometimes this one is up for debate, you just have to add meatballs!  Our relationship has grown a lot in the 10 years as well.  It is hard to describe, but it has been most amazing.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to have lots more decades of memories ahead!

 

A Still Christmas

One of my favorite Christmas songs is “Still, Still, Still”.  There just always seemed like there was something magically about the song.

Still, Still, Still
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
For all is hushed,
The world is sleeping,
Holy Star its vigil keeping.
Still, still, still,
One can hear the falling snow.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Savior’s birth.
The night is peaceful all around you,
Close your eyes,
Let sleep surround you.
Sleep, sleep, sleep,
‘Tis the eve of our Savior’s birth.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
While guardian angels without number,
Watch you as you sweetly slumber.
Dream, dream, dream,
Of the joyous day to come.
Songwriters: Bryan Michael Paul Cox / Jermaine Dupri / Johnata M Austin
Still, Still, Still lyrics © Norman Luboff Music
I love how the words speak of stillness and how this can be part of us.  Just like with our Savior.  He is there, but sometimes we have to be still and let Him become part of us.  Merry Christmas!

 

Blessed with Earthly Angels and a Big Mama Bear

The past couple of weeks we have been especially blessed.  We have had two different packages left on our door step, one specifically for our kids (so full of little toys and things the box wasn’t even closed all the way) and another one for the kids and us, as parents (Little People Nativity and some Christmas cash).  I can’t even tell you what these few things have meant to me.  Remember my post about not feeling like I matter, well receiving these unknown gifts made my heart burn.  It was a tender reminder to me, that someone out there was thinking of our family.  I have no idea who gave us those gifts, but the greatest gift they really gave, was love.  It wasn’t about the gifts really for me, it was the joy that entered our home when our kids especially felt SPECIAL LOVE for them.  I didn’t feel like we were worthy of such gifts, but the gift of love and joy are true gifts from a Heavenly Father that loves us.  What a blessing to see this happen in our own home.  Then this week, some special new friends, have picked our family to do the 12 days of Christmas to.  I have no idea who it is, but our kids look forward to it every night.

15349662_748601071969042_9016670552724542087_n

To say that I don’t feel blessed, would be a lie.  How blessed I feel by “earthy angels” who have shared love and joy in our home and continue to do so.  What a blessing!  I hope you are looking for the blessings in your life and in ways to be a blessing to those around you.

With all that said though, there is more.  Some days I feel like I’ve got this parenting thing down, but other days I feel like a complete failure.  I felt like this week has been a dismal failure.  Maybe, it is way too many failures that have culminated.  They have been complaining about EVERYTHING and one kid has even started the “I never get to do what I want to do…”.  The other huge struggle this week…eating dinner.

We have been working on breaking our kids’ habit of being picky eaters.  We have introduced a lot of new food along with new rules for dinner.  One rule is they have to try 5 bites of whatever is new.  They don’t have to LIKE it, but they have to EAT it.  Well, tonight it was all out war.  I was excited to eat dinner until the complaining started before I even sat down.  I love cooking, I love baking, and it is hard to hear complaining before I even reach the dinner table.  Ugh.  This challenge of introducing new things etc., is not for the weak in spirit and consistency is the key, but tonight I snapped.  I made my 4-year-old sit at the table until he ate a carrot and a potato (it was like ¼ of each).  He did not like that.  He sat there for a long time, with 3 bathroom breaks and lots of complaining.  I finally let him leave, but he will be eating said food at breakfast and lunch if he hasn’t finished (and dinner is leftovers).  Maybe I am too mean of a parent, but I am trying to show him that I will follow through and his complaining is not going to make his food go away.  But, that doesn’t mean that I feel great about it.  I feel like a total failure.  Why can’t we just sit down for Sunday dinner, have a great conversation about what we learned about at church, and enjoy being together.  Someday..

I feel like sometimes I don’t know how to be a mom, I don’t know how to teach them certain things, and I just hope that I am doing something right, because I feel like I am ruining them. With all that said though, I want the best for them.  I want them to be able to be good people and good kids and respectable.  I want to see what they are passionate about and what drives them. I love to see them create and imagine and grow and I marvel at all their little brains can do and learn in so short of a time.  I want to be a close knit family, I want my kids to be each others best friends and to enjoy life together.  I want them all to know that I will fight for them.  I want to share, tell, and sink love deep in their hearts from their mom.  I don’t want them to question at all that I love them, and I just hope that all my failures and shortcomings I will somehow be able to teach them to love and serve and care for each other and for those around them.  I want them to be the people reaching out, like people have been reaching out to our family, instead for greedy gift hoarders.  For Christmas I want our home to be a place of peace and a place where all love more.

Fruit Snack Attack

This week I got to go on a field trip with LOTS of 1st graders.  It was actually really fun and the time went too quickly.  I was in charge of 3 of them, and those three girls keep me running.  It was fun to see things through their little 6-7-year-old eyes.  So fun. Normally the kids eat lunch at 11:40 when they are at school. Well, the field trip was LONG for them.  At about 11:30, you could see them kinda get glassy eyed and slow down.  When we climbed on the bus to come back to school it was 12:10 and we had a 45 minute drive back to school.  Luckily the 1st grade teachers knew their students well.  They passed out fruit snacks and water.  Normally, I HATE fruit snacks, but I had some any way and they were the best fruit snacks I have ever had.  I think I just needed some sugar to boost me through the craziness.  So, sometimes you just have to be flexible.

There are many things that I said I wasn’t going to do when I was a parent, but I have learned to be flexible.  We don’t have the financial security that I thought we would, we don’t buy the expensive mac and cheese, and my kids don’t love vegetables.  But, we have fun, we smile, we laugh and we read together.  I love my life and am so grateful for every day.  But, I still don’t buy fruit snacks.