A couple of weeks ago, I took the kids to the children’s museum here in taken with my friend Rochelle and her kids. Her daughter Emery is 3 months older than EK and her son Dean is two months younger than J, so we can clearly see lots of play dates and slumber parties together in our future. Anyway, EK always takes a few minutes to warm up to the museum (we don’t go often enough) so once she got going, she was off. Emery was off in a hundred other directions, so naturally Rochelle and I didn’t spend too much time sitting and chatting. I was wearing J, Rochelle was strolling Dean, and those poor boys didn’t have time to chill.
Finally, the girls were getting a bit cranky (all four of us!) and needed some lunch, followed by naps all around. We decided on Moe’s, since it’s loud and fast and low-key, not to mention fun food for us all to eat. We packed the kiddos and unpacked the kiddos and ushered the kiddos through the line. Rochelle sandwiched the girls into a booth, and I situated myself in between the boys in their carseat carriers. EK and Emery were like popcorn – one was always popping up, turning around, watching the poor souls who also chose Moe’s as their lunch spot. Rochelle and I were losing our voices saying, “Sit down! Eat your lunch! Sit down! Drink your juice! Sit down! Get off the floor! Sit down! Wipe your mouth!” Talk about a broken record. I don’t feel like we were yelling, but we weren’t whispering. We weren’t being mean, but we were being firm.
After most of the quesadillas were eaten and “juices” (water with a splash of lemonade, of course) were drunk, Emery decided to stand up once more, turn around, and check out what was going on behind her. Rochelle and I had all but given up on finishing lunch sitting nicely, so we didn’t say much. EK, however, had finally gotten the point. She looked up at Emery, and firmly (rudely?) said, “SIT! DOWN! NOW!” Rochelle and I looked at each other… and tried very hard not to laugh. From the mouths of our babes, we hear what we sound like. Not that I needed a reminder that my little girl is a parrot, but I sure got one.
How hard is it, sometimes, to control your tone of voice? I know that when I need to tell EK something several times, my tone escalates each time. I almost always start softly and politely. But after I’ve told/asked several times, I begin to lose my patience. Especially if time or safety or politeness to others is a factor, I get firm and sometimes loud very quickly. I wouldn’t say overall that I’m a yeller, but I do raise the volume a little if the first and second (and third) time I say something doesn’t bring forth the desired response.
That day at Moe’s was a prime example of what she remembered about telling someone to do something. Since then, I have been more conscious of my tone and delivery of directions. I try to have a little more patience and grace. And yes, folks, it’s difficult. I have never claimed to be the most patient person in the world. I find myself hollering things like, “Get your shoes!” across the house as we prepare to go somewhere. If I catch her holding my iPad with one hand, I might shout something like, “Put that down, NOW!” a little less nicely than I could. But I’m improving, and doing the best I can. I’ve always been a loud lady, so teaching my daughter to reign her loudness is at best a little difficult for me. At least I’m honest, right?
Have you had that moment where your parrot child repeats something you’ve said, in that perfect tone of voice, and surprises you? Or even disappoints you?
EK went to camp this week. The church where she’ll be attending two mornings a week of preschool in the fall had a Monday-Thursday summer camp, so we thought that would be a great idea to make a few friends and get used to her new space.
In short, here is a summary of some things we did/learned this week:
-Screaming drop offs almost every morning.
-Feather painting, tissue paper art turtle, and glittery paper plate “fish bowls” (this week’s theme was Pet Pals)
-Vacuuming playground sand from her bed when she got up from her nap
-First experience packing a lunch for a toddler. She eats more at home when we’re eating with her. Win of the week: a banana and a squeeze pack of fruit/yogurt
-Receiving a text message from my cousin that she had seen EK on the playground happily running around (on only the second day, no less!)
-Being at home in an all-too-quiet house in the morning is strange and a bit sad (but I could get used to it)
-J was SO HAPPY when she came home each day; he just stared at her and smiled.
-A girl’s gender-neutral sippy cups WILL be mistaken for a boy’s. Come on, people.
-The mixed feelings you have when your daughter waltzes right into her classroom and doesn’t look back will cause you to call Hubby from the car crying.
Before I start on today’s actual post, I want to thank you for the HUGE surge of support and love after my last post. It was really wonderful of y’all to read it, share it, comment on it and message me with thanks and encouragement. You are the BEST. Now, on with the post!
Recently, bedtime with EK has been a marathon. Hubby and I have tried a LOT of different things (now that I’ve said that, maybe that’s the problem?) to get her to go to bed and stay there. When J was born, we moved EK, within a few weeks, to a big girl bed in a different room. We tried moving her before he was born, and we just couldn’t get her to stay in the bed, so he ended up arriving before the switch was complete. She began in that bed just like she was in the crib. It didn’t really occur to her that she could get out on her own. If she woke up, she just called for us and waited for us to get her. She slept the same hours, etc. Then she realized she could get out. This applied mostly to the morning for a while… she’d get up on her own, come into our room, and wake us up, either wanting food or smelling like poop. Or both (blerg).
Nowadays, most nights she gets up 2-4 times after we “put her to bed”, which is a routine that includes a book, singing a song or two, getting a good snuggle in, and kissing her good night and leaving. Sometimes she will even wait up to 15-20 minutes before she climbs out of bed the first time to come find us. We end up putting her back to bed – sometimes staying for a snuggle, sometimes dumping her in there and running out – several times before she’s out for the night. Of course, there’s the odd night that she’s TOTALLY pooped and just goes right to sleep without trouble. But unfortunately even those nights don’t seem to be connected with what we do that day. Even on days where she goes swimming or to the children’s museum or something else different and extra energy-using, she might still get up a few times before she’s down.
((Side note: this is also happening at a time in her development where she’s toying around with getting rid of her nap altogether. Obviously, I say she isn’t ready for that yet, especially if she’s going to sleep late and getting up at the same time (early) so naturally I’m even more concerned about this weird nighttime routine.))
I can tell when we’re getting ready for bed each night that EK is tired. I can tell that she would go to sleep if she’d just let herself. She’s not even asking for anything when she gets up… she doesn’t want water or a snack or a fresh diaper. She just wants to wander around. One night earlier this week, Hubby and I did dishes in the kitchen (her room is at the far end of the house, across the hall from ours) for about 25 minutes after we put her in bed, and we were feeling so great because she hadn’t come looking for us. Well, when we went back to our room to get ready for bed, she was sitting on our bed, cute as pie with her blanket and Daddy’s pillow, playing a game on his phone. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! Now I have to worry about her sneaking out of her room, instead of just coming straight for us. Little sneak.
Then there was last night. My grandmother, aunt and cousin are in town, so there are lots of extra hands. I snuggled J to sleep, while EK played with my family, and then I did her routine. She was being so sweet and cuddly (because snuggles are hard to get right now!) that I sang a few extra songs. Hubby obviously thought I’d been in there for a while, so he came back to her room, opened the door (RIGHT as she was falling asleep, of course) to come tag me out. Well she started to stir so I waved him off, thinking I could lull her back to sleep and leave. Wrong, wrong, wrong. She wrapped her arms around my neck so tightly I was pulled down at a weird angle and stuck there. She neeeeever does that. The combined body heat and her and another person is usually so much that she wants to lay on her own. Every time I tried to pry her off just so I could change positions, she would whine and hang on tighter. It was the weirdest phenomenon. I ended up just scooping her up in my lap, and she fell asleep on my chest… in the worst possible position for me to try to put her down. Finally, I got her off my lap, still awake, and I laid her down and told her I had to go pee-pee in the potty. She let me go and fell asleep, I’m guessing, 10 seconds after I had left. In one way, it was the most annoying and strange thing she’s done during this crazy bedtime thing we’ve got going on right now. But in another way, I was so glad to have those snuggles that I didn’t care if I should have left her 30 minutes earlier. She’s a daddy’s girl in a serious way, so the fact that she wanted to hang on me and keep me in there for the 4613th singing of “Oceans” was the sweetest part of my day.
Now for the real question: what do you do to keep your toddler in his or her bed at night? What’s your bedtime routine?
About a year and a half ago, I had spent a lot of time reading blogs about home organization, DIY updating and repurposing, and improving the functionality of your home. As one of my first projects, I decided to tackle the mess that was our linens closet. I don’t have any pictures from that initial reorganization, but I have noticed the past few weeks that it’s getting bad again, so I just decided to redo the initial organization and chronicle the process for you!
This is what it looked like right before I started. You can see the remnants of what I consider to be a pretty good system, but there are some people (ahem, Hubby) who just haven’t kept with the system quite as well as we did in the beginning. What did I start with? Cleaning the whole thing out.
The first idea that I took from several blog posts about small closets or linen closets was using laundry baskets on the shelves. This worked perfectly for my closet because the shelves are really deep, and I wanted to make the most of that space while still being able to find everything in the back. Since then, I’ve used laundry baskets in organizing several other spaces… more on that later, maybe. You can tell in the first photo at the top that I had a laundry basket and a smaller basket or two leftover from my first stab at organization.
Next, I had to determine which way I would like things folded so that they fit in the baskets nicely. Pillowcases were the main issue – there are so many, there are two different sizes, and they take up so much room! I decided to roll them (cue applause from my father) after I had folded them, and stick them standing up in their basket.
The way I folded and then rolled caused the king-sized pillowcases to stick out above the queen-sized ones. Score!
Everyone loves a label, even if it isn’t a fancy little printable. That sharpie job there works just as well.
I continued to separate sheets and towels by sizes, and put them into corresponding baskets. Then I had an enclosed bin at the very bottom for our beach towels… we use those a lot less so I don’t mind them being a little harder to reach.
I still think the vacuum and mop look a bit silly in there, but I just didn’t really have much to do with them otherwise. That’s a fix for later!
By the way – the main thing that I purged from the closet were curtains. I always like putting curtains on our windows (we have no blinds) because it adds a finished look to a room, even if it’s not all the way there yet. So every time we’ve redesigned a room (study to nursery, girl room to boy room, etc) we’ve gotten new curtains (usually at Target). So naturally, I have a pile of curtains that aren’t currently in use that were taking up a lot of space. I moved them to the basement out of the way for now, but kept them… because who knows when we might need a change?!
Have you ever had to reorganize a closet? What do you think about using laundry baskets as organizational tools?
Some of my people know this story… my family, close friends, prayer warrior friends of mine. I hope that by telling it, someone will be encouraged, someone will feel less alone, someone will be justified in their anguish. This story isn’t cute or sweet, and it doesn’t leave anything out. It’s just heartache and details and sadness and redemption.
Hubby and I tried for seven months to get pregnant with EK. I am well aware that seven months isn’t very long to try to get pregnant. It seemed long going through it, but as the cliché goes, God’s timing is always perfect. Hubby and I have always liked the idea of having our children fairly close together, so when she was born, we decided to “not not try”. Pardon the double negative, but that was our short way of saying we weren’t actively “trying” to get pregnant right away, but we weren’t actively preventing getting pregnant either.
When EK was ten months old, I got pregnant. I knew early on, told Hubby, and we somehow kept the joy and excitement of a sibling for EK to ourselves for two weeks. We finally told my parents (who were visiting at the time) when I estimated myself to be about 6 weeks along. With utterly cruel timing, the following week I started having terrible cramps. Not “implantation cramping” or “stretch cramping” or whatever other excuse they give you to tell you “it’s totally normal”. I was having honest-to-goodness, menstruation-like cramps. I tried to keep calm. I tried to monitor my body. I tried to wish and hope and pray them away. And when the spotting started, I called my OB’s office, heard the nurses say it was normal, read on various medical websites that it was normal. But I knew. Somehow, deep down I already knew what was happening.
I went in for an ultrasound, because my OB wanted to rule out an ectopic pregnancy. He was able to rule that out but said it was too early to tell much else. I went home. Cried a little lot. Rested. Tried to pretend everything was fine. Hubby was preparing for a ski trip with his brothers and some buddies, so I tried my best to put on a happy face and not share my darkest concern with him. But two days later, I knew for sure. My worst fears were all but confirmed. My cramping was a lot worse, and so was the bleeding. Even though my head kept wanting to hope, my heart was resigned to the loss.
I had gotten up at 4:00am that morning when Hubby got up to leave for his trip. He had offered to stay, but what good would it have done? Whether he stayed or went wouldn’t change anything. As I sat in the bathroom, weeping, I could even tell the moment that was the peak. It was done. Over. There would be residual damage, of course, but the event was finished. When I was hugging Hubby and sending him on his trip, I told him it was over. He held me for a long time, and left. I knew asking him to stay, like I really wanted to, would be ridiculous. I had already seen that he felt helpless, and was miserable for me much more than for the situation.
Later we would talk at length about this, about how he was excited at the idea of the baby, but it was just that – an idea. For the partner, it’s just an idea until they start to see the belly grow, feel the kicks, see the movements. For the woman who is pregnant though, the motherhood starts the moment you know that baby is there, just a microscopic little bean. Your feelings in that moment, combined inevitably with your hormones, overwhelm you. You start thinking and planning, praying and seeking wisdom from those other mothers in your life. You love that little thing… that little nameless, shapeless thing, because that’s what the Lord created you to do. You begin to neglect other things in your life as you start to wonder what the baby will look like, how far along you (actually, officially) are, whether it’s a boy or girl, whether you’ll even find out until the birth. It’s incredible how quickly you love that little thing, and every possibility it has.
But to have that little thing taken, snatched from you without reason or ceremony, that will break your heart. “What did I do wrong? What could I have done differently?” The answer is probably nothing. The poor little thing never had a chance. And neither did your heart.
In the next few weeks that seemed to drag, I held onto my first baby, my sweet Ella Kate, so tightly. I thanked the Lord for her, tried to believe that it was still possible for me to have a second such miracle. But if there wasn’t, EK was perfect, and I would do my best to be happy with only her. But I wanted her to have a sibling! I wanted her to experience that bond. I know many only children who wish they had shared their childhood with another. I didn’t want to keep that experience from her. I couldn’t help but wonder, no matter how hard I tried not to, if I had lost the only chance at another little miracle.
After the miscarriage, my doctor told me it could be 4-12 weeks before my cycle would start again. You guessed it – all that stuff about every woman’s body being different and all. He also said we should wait till the cycle started back to try to get pregnant again. And oh, did we ever want to try. I didn’t know there was a gaping, second-child-shaped hole in my life until I glimpsed it and lost it. But we waited to “try”. We took it slow, went about our busy lives. Then one day, chatting with two of my girlfriends, I started to count. I counted the days and weeks since my sadness had begun. There were so many… thirteen weeks, to be exact. How long had my doctor told me to wait? 4-12? Well heck, there ought to be something wrong with me if I haven’t started at this point. What could be the hold up? This girl needs to get pregnant!
When I got home, I found out what the hold up was. I was pregnant, there in that very moment. In the midst of my anguish and waiting and wallowing and praying, I got pregnant. Without trying, without stressing over dates and temperatures and wives’ tales. I couldn’t believe it – women don’t get pregnant like that, right? Our bodies need time and healing and rest, right? I guess sometimes not. And when I called my doctor’s office, the nurse I spoke to estimated (based on my miscarriage date) that I got pregnant about eight weeks after the miscarriage, and made me an appointment for when I should have been abut eight weeks along. At the appointment, the ultrasound tech (the same sweet Kayla who had walked with me through both my pregnancy with EK and my shorter, sadder one) burst out laughing and said, “You’re 10.5 weeks pregnant! Due before the end of the calendar year!” What an incredible surprise, to be that near the baby’s arrival! I was almost out of my first trimester, and I hadn’t even known I was expecting.
Part of the beauty of my story is the way Joseph obliterated my raw sadness. His appearance showed me that my body wasn’t broken. I wasn’t doing anything wrong. A few short months later, he arrived the day before his due date, round and pink and perfect. He’s the symbol of redemption in the story. The proof that something blessed and sweet was on my horizon.
In my story, I just have one. Just one little being I lost and will one day meet in heaven. But I know there are countless women who have lost more, much more, more than even those little babies that should have been. I count myself lucky to have two healthy children, and just one comparatively brief time of sadness. I don’t sit here thinking I’ve had it the worst you can have. But every miscarriage hurts. It still hurts. It is such a deep sadness, in your bones. But look for the redemption. I won’t tell you the redemption will look like mine. It might not be a child at all. But it will be there. Every situation can and will be redeemed. Let yourself believe it.
Disclaimer: attitude and honesty are sure to follow.
I don’t have it all together. No one does. But I’m one of those moms. One of those moms that wishes to be optimistic, to focus on the positive, the highlights of my day. On my Instagram, I’m in the middle (well, almost three-quarters) of my “100 Happy Days”. Because I wanted to be able to click my hashtag and see only my pictures, I dubbed my project #shinyhappy100. I felt a couple months back that I was getting a prophetic word to “shine”. I didn’t know what that looked like, but I took it in stride and did my best to do it, to share it, and to help my family and friends shine as well.
That doesn’t mean that every moment of every day is perfect. I love organization, but just like anyone else, sometimes the mess consumes the house, and I have to succumb to it, go to sleep, and fix it tomorrow (or the next day). I love when my babies nap at their regularly scheduled time, dinner is a delicious feast at the right time, and baths and bedtimes are spot on. But let’s be honest; that shit rarely happens – am I right? Babies don’t nap if they don’t feel like it, dinner can be a peanut butter sandwich (because I’m out of jelly, of course) and we skip the bath to start bedtime early, but no one actually goes to sleep till after 9:00pm. Can I please get an amen, yet?! Sometimes it’s all I can do to not fall asleep in EK’s bed while I’m waiting to her to decide she’s finished playing with my hair and singing to herself… because you know if I leave before she’s finished she jumps right out of bed and follows me out of the room (cue the loud wailing as if being tortured when I put her back).
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33
I just don’t want to give in to negativity. I’m not trying to pretend I don’t have problems. I’m not trying to pretend I’m the happiest person on the planet with a perfect family and flawless friends and a fairytale ending. But I am trying to encourage. I’m trying to send good vibes. Yes, most of my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook feeds show cute pictures, Bible verses, hilarious things that have happened, and sweet things about my family. But would you really want to hear every time my kids pooped out of their diapers and I had a huge mess to clean up? Would you want to hear about every disagreement Hubby and I encounter? Would you care to hear the details of a particularly grueling day where I didn’t get to leave the house or even shower? I bet you wouldn’t. I bet you’d rather hear about cute stories and successes and triumphs, because they give you hope that positive and happy things happen, even on crappy days, even in the midst of strife or sadness. Why? Because he has overcome the world! There are so many things out there that can discourage you and get you don’t. If you’re looking for a place where women write about all the things they hate and complain about every little thing in their lives, this probably won’t be it. Yes, I’ll do my fair share of venting and ranting, I’m sure. I won’t sugarcoat or pretend things are great when they aren’t.
But I will absolutely be happy in little moments with my sweet family, and celebrate small blessings, because that’s what keeps us going. I am about encouraging and lifting up and praising and thanking the Lord for little pieces of His awesomeness. Chocolate-covered mouths in wide grins. Successful bedtimes followed by evenings spent watching tv snuggled in the basement with Hubby. Lunch out with the kids that didn’t end in a scream fest. I will celebrate these things! I will post pictures! I will even post the picture that I took right before the meltdown. I do these things because when I look back at the pictures, at the statuses and blog posts, do I want to remember that my children were crying, sloppy messes and I had a husband who never remembered anything I said? No. I will remember I had precious children who made mistakes but had even more redeeming qualities. I will remember a Hubby who loves me unconditionally, even when I am my worst self. I will remember that I was busy and crazy and stressed, but happy and blessed and loved.
What will you do? What will you focus on and remember?
Hubby and I used to go to the movies a lot. I love seeing films on the big screen, right at the same time as everyone else is seeing them for the first time. However, let’s be honest: once you have a kid, that’s a REALLY expensive date night. Movie tickets aren’t cheap, and neither are babysitters. Once you tack on dinner before the movie or drinks after, you’ve spent a lot of money. So needless to say, since EK has been around (about 27 months), we’ve seen a total of less than 10 movies… maybe even closer to 5. That being said, we didn’t see Frozen until several months after it came out on DVD. I had heard all the hype, had students who were obsessed with the movie, characters, and soundtrack. Because I have loved Idina Menzel since “Rent”, I managed to hold off listening to the song until I watched it in the movie the first time. It’s a great song, she sings it SO WELL, and it was almost unbelievable how quickly my daughter heard the first notes of it, stared open mouthed at the tv, and begged for me to play it again as soon as it was over. I mean, seriously? She had never heard it, didn’t know that it was the song that everyone was supposed to love. It was just that great. I think someone tipped her off.
I have long been a fan of Disney. Nay, a obsessive lover of all things Disney. That about covers it. I love the movies, the shorts, the music, the characters, the voices, the animators, the world created for and devoted to Disney. The first movie I ever saw in a theater was Disney’s The Little Mermaid. The next movie I remember seeing in theaters was Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Every summer for as long as I can remember, my mom would take my brother and me to the newest Disney flick at least once, maybe twice in the theater, and we would get the VHS (yeah, I said it) for Christmas. Like clockwork… it was our tradition.
Now that I’m the mom, the “grown up”, I’m watching these animated features with a little more scrutiny. I still love them, oh yes, but I’m looking for more than a catchy tune and a happy ending. Pixar added incredible things to the latest movies, not the least of which were new ideas and 3-D animation. Whether or not the movies were complete musicals has gone in and out over time, as has using original stories versus tried and true tales. I will say one thing: every time I see a new one, I’m amazed at how the integrity of the movies I’ve loved since childhood has been upheld, in quality and in magic.
Two of my newest favorites are Frozen (I love it almost as much as my daughter) and Brave.On the heels of my #LikeaGirl rant (read it here), I love them for their heroines. Brave‘s Merida is the epitome of who I was as a preteen: outspoken, strong character, always right, forever at odds with her mother, and yes, a bit awkward. I relate to her immediately, as I’m sure thousands of girls did during their first viewing of the movie. My favorite thing about the storyline? Redemption of relationship and no romantic love interest in sight (quite the opposite, in fact). Brave is about Merida and her journey, so no man needed. Talk about empowering girls! Look at this gal, she might have made some mistakes, but she worked to make them right again, and here she is, a total rockstar. She even makes me want to grow out my hair, get a perm, and dye it red.
But Frozen? It’s totally confusing me. I mean, yes… empowering girls? That’s covered. Strong relationships with your girls? Covered. Anna sees that Elsa needs help. She goes out, gets the help, saves the day. But she find one love, realizes that’s a bust, and then finds a new one in what, a day? But back to the girls, in the end, Elsa saves Anna, too. But after she’s been totally unhinged, right? She has this magic power, can’t control it, freaks out, freezes her kingdom, almost kills her sister, and still is just barely hanging on to her sanity until she has a miraculous change at the end of the movie. She’s a powerful gal, sure, but that isn’t the power I want my little girl to aspire to. I want her to be like Anna… I think..? (Check out my friend Sydney’s thoughts on Frozen here)
Maybe I’m reading too much into it. I mean, I don’t remember having any thoughts about the movies past “I love that song “Part of Your World” and “Lumiere was really funny!” and “I can’t believe Pegasus acted like a bird the entire movie.” I never had a thought about Ariel disobeying her dad just to get with a guy, paying for it, and then having to have her dad bail her out anyway. Or how selfish Woody is in all those Toy Story movies, trying to selfishly keep Andy for himself. I just enjoyed them for what they’re worth… and they’re GREAT films. Truly. But some of the early movies, like Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty, don’t really give the image of their heroines doing anything much at all mostly just cleaning, yet I can still safely say that Sleeping Beauty is one of my all-time favorites. How does that work out? Honestly I’m not sure. It just is.
Am I overthinking it? What do you think about the leading ladies of Frozen and Brave?