Monthly Archives: July 2011

Grace in Small Things

I won’t lie; this week has been tough.
My days have been long and my fuse has been short.
Anna Alden is working hard on cutting some teeth.
Overall, she’s still a very pleasant baby…
But she’s cried more in the past week than in the past two months.
Summer is wearing on me.
I love the lazy days of summer,
But sometimes they are hard to fill.
Especially when it’s so dang hot!

But…through it all, I am constantly still amazed at all the small things that make me smile:

 

Sunshine and Rain

the sun shining bright
and yet the rain falls

life is good, happy
and yet the rain falls

(is it just me?
or is it like that for everyone?)

i breathe in
i close my eyes
shut down my mind
surrender
still

~be still and know that i am god~

and yet…
the rain still falls

~be still and know that i am god~
~and listen to this, my love~
~the rain is what nourishes your soul~
~and draws you closer to me~
~be still~

 

linked to (in)courage and 5 minute friday

Freedom

I knew I would be opening up a can of worms when I complained.
I knew there would be some people who would think, “What’s she complaining about?  She’s got it all?”
I knew there would be some who would say, “But I…” or “At least you don’t have to…”
And I knew that there was a chance that I might hurt some feelings.

But here’s the truth:
This blog isn’t for you.
This blog is for me.
And for my kids.
Oh, sure, I love that you come here.
I love that I am able to share our days, my thoughts with you.
And I love the conversations that come from this space.
But ultimately it’s for me, for us.
And when I look back and read this someday-
Or even more so…when my kids come back and read this someday-
I want them to see what it was like from my perspective.
And I don’t want it to be all sunshine and roses.
(Because it’s certainly not always sunshine and roses.)

In the comments from yesterday’s post, my cousin said this:

“…I love honesty about motherhood. It’s the best and the worst.
I feel like the worst was hid from me, or maybe I ignored it.”

I think that is so, so true.
We are quick to share our delivery room horror stories,
But we, as mothers (and fathers), don’t want to share our parenting lows.
And I get it.  I really do.

In the delivery room, most problems are not caused by the mother.
If something went wrong, we delve into conversations by saying “You won’t believe what happened…”
And when they’re little bitty babies, we talk of feedings and poop and sleep.
And we complain about long nights and spit-up.
All of these are things that are beyond our control.

But when that little baby starts to get bigger, I feel like we get more and more hesitant to share about the hard stuff.
Because if you admit that sometimes it is ridiculously hard, it somehow seems as if you have failed.
And you (well, maybe I’m the only one?) feel like you can’t complain because it would make you seem ungrateful.
And you can’t say what’s really on your mind because people will talk about how you shouldn’t do this or shouldn’t do that.
But I think in doing this, we are doing a disservice to each other.

I may present a pretty picture online (and my life is actually pretty darn amazing).
BUT there are days that aren’t.  And I have struggles just like any other parent.
And I yell sometimes.  (Ok, I yell a lot.)  (And very loudly.)
And I say things to them that I shouldn’t.
And, on occasion, I’ve been known to pop them a little harder than I meant to.
And while it’s kind of embarrassing to admit, there is something freeing about saying those things aloud.

It is almost as if I was unknowingly tied down by my own reputation.
I frequently get comments about how I am a fun mom and a good mom.
(And I genuinely appreciate them!)
But sometimes it is impossible to live up to the expectations that are there.
(And it is most certainly impossible to live up to the expectations I set for myself!)

And so here I sit, thinking back on the day.
Analyzing where it all went wrong
And how I could have done things better.
And I hear my own words echoing in my head.
You aren’t perfect.
You won’t ever be perfect.
Perfection is impossible
(But finding happiness in the imperfection is not).

Now if I could just learn to practice what I preach.
The learning curve is steep on this learning to love imperfection stuff.

 

Some Days

Sometimes my days actually are filled with (painted) rainbows and (plush) unicorns.
Sometimes my days really do seem to sparkle and shine.
And sometimes, on days like those, I feel like I’m not so bad at this stay-at-home-mom gig.

But then there are other days.  (Like today.)
The days when I telepathically tell defenseless kitties they should stay away lest I kick them for no reason.
The days when I think I may lose it if I am molested by even a single drop of bodily fluid that is not my own.
The days when I want to put them all somewhere safe and drive away.
(Not forever, of course.  A couple of hours would work.  A couple of days would be even better.)

I think it’s fairly obvious that I enjoy being a mother.
I enjoy doing things with my kids.
I really enjoy being with them.
I have as much fun as they do with the singing and playing and rocking and cuddling.
Usually.

But sometimes the screaming and the crying and the touching.
Oh, heavens!  The Touching.
Sometimes I just want to sit alone and not hold anyone.
Or send a quick email with no one in my lap.

I know that there are lots of moms who have day jobs and wish they could be at home.
(And I know that if I worked a full-time day job, I’d be one of them.)
But I also know that being the primary caregiver
all.day.long.
every.single.day.
is exhausting
and frustrating
and overwhelming.

I guess what I’m saying is this:
I love my life.
I love my children.
I love my job.
And most days I like my life, my children and my job.
But some days I don’t.
And on those days, just getting to bedtime is a struggle for me.

But ever the optimist, I always expect tomorrow to be better.
(And usually it is.)

 

***
This morning I found out that I was one of 3 people chosen to attend the Becoming Conference in NC.  (This could not have been more well timed.)  Many thanks to the One2One Network for their sponsorship.(I love working with them!) 

The Haves and The Have Nots

I’ve mentioned a few times that I stayed at a friend’s house last week.
My kids spent long hours playing with older friends, doing things that we don’t normally do.
Nothing bad, just different from the norm around here.
One of the the biggest things I noticed was screen time.
My children were memorized by the technology that their friends have.
Leapster, DS, iPod, iTouch.
They loved them!

We have none of those.
I rarely even let my kids use the computer.
And only occasionally the Wii.

I must admit that there is a reasonable amount of irony that I am Mrs. Technology and my kids barely ever get screen time.
I don’t intend to share my laptop or my iPhone for a variety of reasons-the biggest being I don’t trust them to not tear it up.
(And, if we’re being honest, I sometimes don’t even trust Marshall to not tear it up.)

It’s not that I’m opposed to my kids playing video games -
I think there are some games that really do have educational value
And I think it’s important for my children to be technologically savvy -
But it’s just not a threshold we’ve crossed yet.
And I’m wondering if we should have.

I am frequently taken aback by people my age who don’t know how to use technology.
Now I know that I am a big geek and I spend a  lot of time face-to-face with my beloved ol’ red,
But I’m talking basic computer knowledge.
(It’s almost irresponsible to not know a little bit these days.)

And, like most parents, I want the best for my kids.
I want them to be able to access a world outside of our tiny town.
I want them to have the ability to use technology to help them grow and learn.
I want them to be able to keep up in this digital world that is certain to become even more technological.

But where is that line?
How young is too young?
Shouldn’t they still be focused on imaginary play?
But can’t imaginary play be virtual?
And with some gaming systems, they can even play together.
Isn’t that what I really want?
For them to learn a little something new
and practice playing well with others?

Oh, I don’t know.
(This parenting gig is hard, yo.)

When I think about this,
I tend to get annoyed with myself.
I just wrote about letting go of perfection,
and yet here I am struggling to find the perfect answer to my conundrum.
Hint: There is no perfect answer. 

My children are the only grandchildren on either side.
We have many friends who gratefully pass on hand-me-down toys (and clothes).
My children are certainly not lacking in the toy department.
Is going out and buying an expensive gaming system really the most responsible thing to do?
They are all under the age of 6.
They’ve done nothing to deserve getting video games.
Nor do they need technology.

My internal dialogue is pummeled with thoughts like:
“There are starving children in…” and
“It’s your job as parent to get them the resources they need to prosper” and
“Quit over-analyzing every.single.thing!”

So over-analyze for me.
Where is that line?
When should game systems come into play?
And how to do you balance it all?
Our days are already happy and full -
Will another screen detract from that?

 

 

The Plight of Perfection.

This past week I spent a lot of time at a friend’s house.
A quick glance at her house and you can tell that she has great taste.
Her style is classic colonial with splash of cottage and a dash of shabby chic.
It all looks so put-together and perfect.
Pillows that match and sets of golden frames.
Books for decor and books for reading.
Beautiful art and fabulous accessories.

But if you look a little closer, you’ll find scratched hardwood,
a little stain on those matchy-match decorative pillows,
part of the art sculpture that is broken off,
sheet sets with mismatched pillowcases,
a washer and dryer that are on their last legs,
and a door that sticks.

And I’d be willing to bet that as my friend stands in her own home and looks around her,
It’s the torn up and broken and less-than-perfect stuff that she sees.
(At your house, don’t you?)
(I know I do.)

And it’s not just our houses that don’t pass self-inspection.
It’s our looks and clothes and stuff and the work we do.
We are, indeed, our own worst critic.
I can find flaws in every picture I take.
I agonize over words that I write in this space and others.
My house is always cluttered.
My car is never clean.
I always have piles of papers stashed in corners
And closets crammed with stuff I don’t have time to organize.
I think my own ideas are ridiculous and fruitless.
And I often squash good ideas before they blossom simply because they don’t seem good enough.

We put an insane amount of pressure on ourselves (and others) to be perfect.
Oh, we don’t use that word, of course.
And we don’t admit that we’re even doing it.
We call it constructive criticism or critique.
(But it’s there.)
(And it’s hurting us all.)

There is nothing wrong with pushing yourself to be more, be a better you.
But there is something wrong with pushing yourself to be more of someone you’re not.

So the next time you look in the mirror and see crows feet and wrinkles?
Remember that I look at you and I see someone who smiles a lot.

Tomorrow when you get dressed and think your clothes are old and ratty?
Remember that I will see you dressed well in a shirt that looks comfortable and classy.
(I won’t even notice the frayed hem and that one spot on the bottom left side.)

And when you put on your shoes and notice the side is scratched and your nails aren’t painted?
I won’t even look at your feet, I promise.
(I hate feet.)

Lean in, dear friend.
There’s something I want to tell you
(and myself):

You aren’t perfect.
You won’t ever be perfect.
Your house won’t be perfect.
Your car won’t be perfect.
Your life will never be perfect.
And…
listen closely…

perfection is impossible.
but finding happiness in the perfectly imperfect isn’t.

So now will you hold my hand?
Because this idea of perfect imperfection?
It’s kind of new to me.
And I’m not really sure how to do it on my own.

 

Grace in Small Things

This week has been full and colorful and wonderful.
I have friends who are twins.  Between them they have 4 kids.
I (obviously) have 4 of my own.
I was in charge of all of them (plus a friend here and a cousin there) this week.
We had so, so much fun!

We colored and tie-dyed and painted.
And made lip gloss and paper butterflies.
We made chalk (that was supposed to glow-in-the-dark).
We watched movies and swam and splashed in the pool for hours at a time.

This week there were a lot of small things, but we made big memories.

I may have stolen this idea from Heather, but she loves me so it’s all good.

Pimpin’

So…I started a little etsy store.  And I’m pretty darn excited about it.
And yet I realized I hadn’t pimped it on my blog.
Silly me.
Anyway…

You know those little stick people you see on the back of cars?
Well check out my alternative:

I have several different family options available for only $12.
Or I can custom design one of your family for $15.
(More than 6 people?  Just add $2 per person.)

I can do black, white, red, hot pink or lime green.
(Note: Black isn’t very visible on most car windows.)

Cut from premium vinyl which is made to last 3-5 years in outdoor environments.

Depending on family size, finished product is roughly 5×7.

I’m hoping to soon add some fun ones(family, singles and pets…I hope) so if you have any great ideas, let me know!

P.S. Heather, I’m still working on yours.  A little harder than I first anticipated.  But I will get it!

Grace in Small Things

My lovely friend Heather started doing a little thing on Saturdays called Grace in Small Things.
And you guys know I get all mushy thinking about the little things that make up our lives.
And you also know I post approximately 4,039 pictures a week.
But I’m going to start trying to not post every picture and save some for this weekly ditty.
(But instant gratification is sooo great.  I may not be able to ignore that siren’s song.)


Silly Girls


Bedtime at the Beach


Sunrise at the beach
(Sun obstructed by the smoke)


Jellies on the beach


TOES!


Mater and the Ghostlight Story Time


First Time Bowling


You mean I was supposed to be taking a nap?


You mean you want me to eat that stuff?


A moment alone.  Ahhh…

Dinner of the Year

Tonight I whipped up a delicious little dinner.  It was nothing overly special, but it ended up being perfect.
So perfect, actually, that I inhaled it before I took a picture of it.
Therefore you get recipes with no pictures.
And I hate when people post recipes with no picture, but oh well…
Absolutely none of this is accurately measured, so just roll with it.
Stuffed Steak Roll-Ups
2 long steaks (I think flank steak.  I don’t really know my cuts of meat.)
a big handful of fresh spinach
2 triangles of Laughing Cow Garlic and Herb cheese
a shake or two or four of McCormick’s Grill Mates Mesquite seasoning
one half bottle Italian dressing
tooth picks

Using a meat mallet/tenderizer, flatten the steak well.
Season one  side of the meat with the McCormick’s seasoning.
Spread one triangle of cheese onto one steak.
Top with spinach.
Roll jellyroll-style and secure with toothpicks.
Cut into 4-6 circles.
Top with Italian dressing.
Bake at 350* until done(20ish minutes), broil, or grill.

Pesto Asparagus
Pesto:
handful of fresh basil leaves(approx 1/2 cup)
roughly 1 ounce pine nuts
roughly 1 TBsp EVOO
2 cloves garlic

Combine all ingredients in blender and blend well.
Add EVOO as needed, remembering that it will thicken some as it sits.

Asparagus:
Heat one bunch of asparagus tips in skillet with 1ish TBsp butter or margarine.
Add pesto and coat well.
Sautee for several minutes.
Add enough water to barely cover the bottom of pan and cover with lid.
Let asparagus steam cook for approx 5-10 minutes or until desired crunchiness is reached.

Best Mashed Potatoes EVAH
3ish pounds red potatoes
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
4ish oz. sour cream
1ish cup shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Slice and boil potatoes for 15ish minutes, or until tender.
While potatoes are boiling, mix the cheeses, sour cream and salt and pepper.
Drain potatoes and smash, mixing well with cheese mixture.
Easy peasy.

If you try any of these, let me know if I guestimated my numbers correctly.