Wednesday, October 26, 2011

start as you intend to go on

With Little L fast approaching 3 years of age, we've entered a new phase of parenting. The part where society really starts to enter the picture.

For example, this weekend a neighbor and I took our girls to a local elementary school fall festival. So local, in fact, we just piled the girls in to the wagon and walked. As we were walking through the booths and bounce houses, I sorta noticed loud music blaring and a karaoke tent behind us but didn't give it too much thought... until I realized I was tapping my foot along to "Last.Friday.Night" by Katy-Perry. Are you familiar with the lyrics?

As a child, I remember my mom making a HUGE deal over pop music and culture and banning me from regular radio stations and only allowing me Christian music tapes. (yea, that's right, I'm old enough that I got audio cassettes at some point in my life) I also remember hitting a point when I thought she was totally overbearing and I really resented her for trying to shelter me so much.

Funny how life has a way of turning full circle, right?

I paused at the festival and looked around at the HOARDS of small children. The lyrics to that song are AWFUL and completely child inappropriate. Yet no one else seemed remotely phased. And I know people who think it is hilarious when their toddlers are singing Lady.Ga.Ga or Brit.ney S.pears songs word for word, but I don't find it to be funny at all. When I think back to what was considered to be cutting edge pop culture when I was young and realize just how far we've come in society on the raunch-o-meter in the last 25 years, I'm kinda terrified. Because while I remember a time when certain curse words were NOT allowed on prime time TV or when the standard of normal didn't include little girls wearing stuff written on the backside of their sweat pants or baring enough skin to make a grown man blush, in this day and age many people seem to be completely comfortable with their children growing up WAY TOO FAST. Especially their little girls.

I try to do all the right things here. She's in church several times a week. We stress the importance of acting like a lady. I do my best to keep the radio tuned to safe stations or just use the ipod with a play list for her. I keep the TV to child-approved stations or DVDs only when she's awake and I do my best to keep her from being bombarded by images of what modern day society believes to be the standards in beauty and behavior.

At some point, though, this will be a losing battle for me. Especially when she heads off to school and is surrounded by children whose parents don't have the same standards as I do. I don't want her to be the unpopular kid at school who is deemed meekly and cast out for being a "Jesus-freak," because I remember those days. They were TOUGH and it was ultimately a war that led me to a lot of self destruction and confusion as a young adult. And the worst part for me was that my parents were SO hot and cold with our lifestyle. One year was church every Sunday, no music, no TV, nothing and then the next year they would do an absolute 180. No, I do NOT want to be that parent that cannot make up her mind about what is and isn't acceptable in my household.

So I feel like each decision I make right now is so crucial. She is totally aware of things like Hallow.een and Santa Claus. 2 major hot spots in most Christian households, I think. And while part of me thinks these things are innocent and should just be approached and handled as such, another part of me feels something wrong inside about them. How do I explain to her as a teenager and young adult that she shouldn't participate in a holiday that was originally intended for Pagans to connect with spirits and worship Satan by dressing up as a witch or something else scary (or in an embarrassingly skanky costume as a young adult) when I paraded her up and down our street in innocent costumes as a young child? How do you deal with the true importance of Christmas after you've placed a truck load of emphasis on an imaginary fat guy in a red suit bringing a ton of presents? Because let's face it, the secular part of Christmas is VASTLY more appealing to a child than the biblical part (which, really, should be the only part).

I think maybe I am having such a hard time knowing how to handle all of these things because my parents never figured it out either and it really did a number on me as a kid. I just don't want it to be the same way for my kids. Now that L is getting to a place where she is understanding things so much more, I really want to determine the best approach and start as we intend to go on. Because confusion and inconsistency is so unfair to children and while I know they will be old enough at some point to figure out what they believe to be true and best for themselves, it is MY job to set their feet on the proper path.

"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it." (Prov 22:6)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

many thoughts, all somehow related

Baby S turned 3 months old yesterday. I'd say "wow, where did the time go?" but I've honestly felt each day of the past 3 months and I am so glad we're where we are today. She is happy, so healthy and an absolute joy to my life. I often stop and remember that there was life before her and wonder how that is possible because she just BELONGS here. There could never be a life without her, she's so perfectly nestled in to my heart.

I noticed she's really (finally) interested in the toys hanging on her gymini. I watch her stare at them intently and she even clumsily bats at some of the longer ones when they are near to her. She's started the early stages of laughing and she smiles at everyone who looks her way. I could sit and talk in length about how she is inconsistent with her night sleep, occasionally has days where her naps aren't perfect and I still cannot determine if I should reintroduce soy or dairy back in yet. But ultimately? Those things don't matter. Simply put, I don't think they make a better baby than this. I'm so glad she's mine.


There's an old expression you sometimes hear that "Friends are God's way of making up for family." While it's a stretch of a thing to say, I've pretty much stood by that line since I was a teenager. My immediate family is painfully, irreversibly broken and at some point, instead of whining or wasting time on wishing that things would be different, I just learned to fill the void with the wonderful friends I made.

The long and short of my early life is that my parents really screwed up in their marriage and their child rearing. And while it seems like society doesn't place much value on either of those things anymore, I believe that they are absolute musts in the realization of a happy and healthy family. While I found myself an avenue to fly away and stretch out an arm's length from the people that failed me in so many ways early on, my 2 younger brothers found themselves spiraling downward and creating for themselves unhealthy dependencies on other unhealthy people, including my parents.

All this said to come to the point that I've spent the last 4 days deeply inbound in drama surrounding my brothers and my dad. So much drama, in fact, that I actually had to temporarily suspend my account because I couldn't stand to read any more of the hatred that was being spewed my direction. I'm not even sure how I was pulled in to the entire drama and I spent a few sleepless nights tossing in turning in bed over it all. I spent time praying protection over both of their lives, praying for God to give me the appropriate words to say to everyone involved and for Him to place my feet in the right direction to help them. I'm taking it day by day right now, but I am surprised at how off guard this entire mess caught me. I've been so simple in my life for so long, to be wrapped in such a complicated and painful whirlwind like this made me clearly remember a time when my life was not so comfortable.

I am so thankful for where I am today. And I pray that God will help me bring up my children to be honest, humble, thankful, independent, wise, self sufficient and to be a blessing to everyone they meet in life.


I've been running like crazy the past 2 weeks. It has been so good for my mind, body and soul. I'm 2 pounds away from my pre-pregnancy weight and I am getting better to make sure that every day I HAVE to make some kind of time for myself. To put the individual things that matter to me in the top of the priorities chart everyday: my relationship with Christ, my romance with my husband, my personal appearance and the state of my home. It is hard but it is paying off in spades. I also realize that the decisions I make and the life I live are the only examples my children have to learn from on how to model their lives someday. And I want them to see that while I love them and place them at the top of my spectrum, I still place value in myself and will not lose me in them.

Work is still hectic. My husband offered for me to quit. He said things would be tight and we'd have to dial back most of our "fun" spending, but that we would survive. I thought about it for a few days and realized that the result of me quitting could be too damaging on my household. I don't want to stress my husband out too much with finances and I do ultimately want to have a career after the girls are in school. And really, my set up is awesome. Sure it is dang hard to juggle it all, but you just don't find a company who will let you work from home, just laugh when they hear the kids in the background and schedule meetings around your childcare situation. They have completely accommodated me for 2.5 years now and they send ME money every 2 weeks at that. You know what? I'll master this. And I'll be so proud. And I hope my husband and daughters will be, too.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

the other mom

There's this mom at Mother's Day Out, who always seems to drop her kid off and pick up at the exact same time as me. She lives in a neighborhood near ours and I often find myself behind/in front of her on the way to the church.

For some reason, I feel ridiculously inferior around this woman.

Let me say, this is not my normal behavior. Sure, I was insecure as a teenager and struggled with these feelings often at that time in my life. And there were times as a young adult that I found myself feeling rather puny next to some gorgeous socialite at a bar or feeling paltry in comparison to some of my beautiful friends. But as I've matured, these feelings have disappeared and I've gotten over comparing myself to others.

In my mind, I've created a pretty amazing life for this woman (whom, I might add, I've never even spoken to). She is gorgeous. Surely she never feels guilty about spending $150 to get her hair colored and cut regularly to stay fresh. Her clothes are stylish and she always looks so well put together. On weekends, she probably shops at nice stores and never worries about the cost of looking polished. She has a baby sitter on demand and regularly gets time alone to herself and time to enjoy out with her husband. Her shiny new Esc.alade is always clean and gleaming. I suspect she has a housekeeper and personal trainer. She's quite tan and in excellent shape and often shows up in the kind of work out apparel you'd see on a fitness model in the mornings. Somehow she never seems in a hurry or impatient or stressed. She smiles at everyone (including me) and she just seems.... perfect.

I really got to thinking about her today and what my problem is. Why can't I just look at her the same way as I do every other mom there? What makes her so special and why am I even investing this much time in to the whole situation?

She's at a similar place in life as me. The child she drops off appears to be a bit older than Little L and she carries a baby who appears to be about 8 months old. I'd guess she's in her late 20's to early 30's.

Maybe it's what she's NOT doing that interests me more than what I think she IS doing.

I don't imagine she's working 20 hours a week from home. Frantically returning phone calls while a toddler yells in the background or struggling to return emails while simultaneously nursing a baby. Working late nights and weekends just to keep up with her job. Surely she's not ignoring the housework that's been neglected for weeks while standing in front of the pantry every single night failing miserably at putting together good, healthy, MSPI friendly meals. She's definitely not stuffing her face with oreos and corn chips while swearing she'll lose the last of her baby weight "next week" or "starting Monday." Her cute clothes fit, she isn't having to get creative with billowy tops that hide the fact that her pants are too snug and her arms are flabby. She's not spending her precious MDO days fighting with herself over what obligatory chore her time precious "alone" is best spent doing: working, cleaning, laundry or grocery shopping. The coffee she makes every morning gets enjoyed, not a few sips and then later dumped when rediscovered in the bathroom. It's obvious she's not rushing out the door disheveled, without makeup and in whatever clothes were lying on the closet floor from the previous day. She's not ignoring the "clean the car" item on her to-do list week after week. No way she's neglecting her hair, her nails and her skin or struggling to find time to shower or shave her legs.

And she's not lamely comparing herself to some random woman she doesn't even know.

Clearly, I'm struggling to get back to "me" after the addition of this baby for some reason. I had no idea how hard things would be and instead of taking the challenge and conquering it, I'm finding myself drowning. I cannot seem to find my footing. Most days it just appears to be dumb luck that everyone gets their basic needs met. I told my husband that I feel like I don't get the benefits of being a stay at home mom OR a working mom while simultaneously getting the work load of both. It amazes me how adding one tiny person in to the mix has thrown my whole balance off SO much.

I know that girl's life isn't as perfect as I'm making it out to be. There's a good chance she's just as stressed out as I am, she's just doing a better job at managing it. I'll figure out a plan of action and somehow get back to not feeling like a complete disaster.

Maybe Monday.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

31 months (or 2 years, 7 months)

Yes, I realize this is a random age for an update on Little L. But? I've been doing a lousy job at updates on her, so now is better than never!

I cannot believe how big she has gotten. She's currently 39" tall and 32 lbs. I have no idea where that puts her on a growth chart, but I suspect she's on the big side. She looks huge compared to kids in her age group. I also guess that she's on the verge of a growth spurt as she asks to eat constantly. CONSTANTLY. "Mama, eat?" "Mama, I'm hungry." "Mama, time for yunch?" Just this morning, she's already eaten an entire bowl of frosted miniwheats, a cup of milk, a nutrigrain bar and a cup of yogurt. It's only 10AM. She often will eat 2 bowls of cereal for breakfast now and rarely leaves her plate anything but clean at meal times. We thank God every day for the food he provides us with, I never realized how thankful I really should be until now. Teenage boy or toddler? I had to stop letting her have milk with every meal, she was asking for it constantly and we were going through a half gallon in a matter of days. I also finally switched her from whole to 2%.

Current favorite movie? Tangled. I am so thankful, too. I was really getting sick of watching Cars. We went through a few week obsession with Beauty-and-the-Beast (my personal favorite Dis.ney princess movie) but it was dethroned with Tangled all of the sudden. She's gotten a Rapunzel costume for Halloween (though, all the sudden she's asking to be a cow this week) and a Rapunzel doll she loves to drag around the house. I asked her one day which her favorite princess was "Rapunzel or Belle?" To which she thoughtfully replied "Rapunzel. Because she has beautiful hair like me. And mama."

She still loves her Cars toys, though. They are EVERYWHERE. And I mean that literally. I am constantly stepping on them, digging them out of her bed, shoving them in storage bins in the playroom and finding them under the seats of the van. The child is spoiled rotten. I never understood how parents could just buy stuff nonstop for their kids and then? I had one sweet, doe-eyed, witty little girl come in to my life and boom. SPOILED ROTTEN CENTRAL. Her daddy is worse than me. He can't seem to go to the store without coming back with something for her. (Note to self: Do NOT grocery shop at Super.Target. It's too tempting.)

We started her in a mothers day out program at church last month ("school") and she has done just wonderfully. She actually asks to go every morning when she wakes up... I only wish she could go more than 2 days a week! They do lots of art projects, chapel, Spanish lessons, gymnastics, music and fun monthly scheduled events. Everyone compliments on how well-behaved she is and how smart she is. Her favorite part of the day is helping me pack her precious Mc.Queen yunch-box before we leave the house. Tomorrow they are having a petting zoo and pony rides and I am SO excited for her!

I am amazed at the language development from 2 years to now. She is a total chatterbox, we cannot get her to stop talking. And the things she comes up with are hilarious. Her favorite phrases: "That sounds silly." "I'm ok." "Don't worry, Mama/Daddy." "Don't cry, Mama/Daddy." "Thank you, JESUS!" (said after EVERY prayer, with hands reaching out to the heavens) She prays on her own, regularly. They are always the same, thanking the Lord for the day and asking Him to watch over Mama, Daddy, herself, baby sister and the dog. Her daddy was out of town for business last week and came home while she was in "school." When I picked her up I told her that he had a prize waiting for her at home and she informed me "Whoa. That sounds pretty neat." Now every time she comes home from school she asks him where her prize is. I laugh so much every day now.

Sure, she has attitude and tantrums. As she develops her own thoughts about things, I find that I cannot just do anything for her anymore. She wants to pick out and do everything herself. And when she does happen to throw a fit, it is over the most bizarre things! She'll never cry or fuss if we leave her at the church nursery or her grandparents like so many other children do, yet she'll WAIL her head off if you just buckle her carseat instead of letting her do it. We actually got in to a massive argument at the grocery store one day when I wouldn't let her push the cart (with the baby in it) and I actually had to grab both children and LEAVE a half full cart on the aisle, without buying anything. I never dreamed I'd actually had to do that, but I did!

We're slowly hitting the "girly" phase. She's finally interested in playing dress up, hair styling, singing, dancing, picking out her own clothes and staring at her beautiful face in the mirror. This morning she decided she wanted to wear a green tutu and silver sparkle shoes. Her hair is so long and pretty, I love braiding it or even just brushing it for her. (she also loves to brush my hair, as well) I have not had her hair cut once in her life! It is starting to look a little ratty on the ends, though, so I am pretty sure I'll take her in to see my stylist in the next few weeks. Naturally, my husband thinks this is ridiculous and I should just take her in to a super-cuts or something, but I remember MANY a bad haircut from those places as a child and I will not let them ruin this child's gorgeous locks!

I feel like I'm forgetting so many things about her. I barely recognize the little baby she was in photos anymore... she is such a little person. She is a wonderful big sister, constantly asking to be near the baby or hold her hand. Loves to help me change and throw away diapers and is always there to help me whenever I need it I am loving seeing the world through her eyes. Things like the pumpkin patch, the state fair, the holidays, birthdays... she really "GETS" all of it now instead of just being dragged along because we wanted her to go. And every time she just busts out with an "I yub you, mama" I feel as if I never knew how amazing life truly was before now.