Monday, February 27, 2012

The Making of a Mama

Several nights ago we cozied up together as a family for a movie night. For our kids, watching a family movie together equals greatness. The problem we always have is that we usually spend a good 2 hours arguing over what we will watch. With 5 people you can bank on at least 3 of those people having differing opinions. Can you guess which 3?  :) Well, I happened to notice that Mary Poppins was on one of our movie channels and soon found out that NO ONE in my house, other than me, had ever seen it. Can you believe that??? I couldn't fathom that Josh has gone 30 years without chim chim cheree and that my children did not know supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. Of course, I had to fix that immediately. I pulled the Mama card and overuled every other movie suggestion. My heart was full as Mary Poppins floated in with that umbrella and I could hardly keep from getting up to dance during certain parts. If I could be any movie character, I would be Mary Poppins. Because every day is a jolly holiday with Mary, right? :) But, as I watched her give the children their medicine and sing "Just a Spoon Full of Sugar" something dawned on me. Something I had never pondered. Maybe, perhaps, I have exceptionally high expectations for mothering. And maybe it is Mary Poppins fault.

I know, it's not really fair to blame her, but seriously, did you see how that nursery got cleaned up? The truth is that we talk all the time about how movies and books affect us in terms of creating unrealistic expectations for romantic relationships, but I don't think I had ever considered it when it comes to motherhood. The fact that unlike screen mothers, we don't have the opportunity to have take after take while we perfect our skills. We typically get one shot at situations leaving us with a single chance to scar our children for life or create a magical moment. Or, more realistically, to just live life and pray God teaches us all through it. We don't have writers scripting our words, hair and make-up to cover up the bags under our eyes or wardrobe people waiting with fresh clothes when ours end up covered in snot and a host of other fluids you'd rather not discuss.

I've had some rough moments in mothering lately. We've had our share of sickness over the last few months and while I am SO thankful none of it has been serious, it has still been trying. It's exhausting. It requires extra patience and attention and the ability to accept slobbery kisses from a 4 year old with a cold and pinkeye without worrying that your family will be the next TV movie called "Contagion: Part 2". Last night Kate started screaming that her ear hurt and she screamed non-stop for 2 hours. I held her, but I couldn't make her better. She's been on two medicines and has fought us every step of the way. That child is strong. I don't recommend birthing children who triple your strength by their 4th birthday. :)  Sometimes I've been able to convince her to take it and other times it has taken Josh and I both holding her down. I go between wanting to cry and wanting to scream and have done both. I even tried singing "A Spoon Full of Sugar" but she was not impressed. Today she has decided to be a big girl and take her medicine. I know I went through this with Sarah and Eli, but it's crazy how quick you forget. It's a fresh victory in mothering the 3rd time over. 

This morning as I worked on laundry load 412 since last Friday, I felt down. As I cleaned the bathroom and wiped the kitchen counters for the 95th time I felt discouraged. Sometimes it just feels so.......neverending? Pointless? I thought about my last few weeks and all the things I haven't kept up with or haven't accomplished. I found myself thinking, 'All I've done is hold babies. All I've done is laundry. All I've done is give medicine. All I've done is get on to kids. All I've done is fix snacks. All I've done is'.....well you get the picture.

And then it hit me. All I've done is be a Mama. It hasn't been perfect and I won't win any awards. It may not mean a thing in the world to most people. But, it matters to three little people who mean the world to me. I kept thinking how I have obviously prayed for patience too much in my life. I wanted to be mad and frustrated. But I kept thinking of Galatians 5:22 and how patience is a fruit of the Spirit. I remember one time being told that  that means we receive that fruit when we become believers. Meaning, I've already been gifted patience, I just have to grow it. Mine's gonna be big, y'all. :) 

I wish that the making of a Mama included well coiffed hair, carpet bags full of fun things and magic songs that  cleaned rooms and made taking medicine fun. For me, the making of this Mama has come from trying circumstances and desperate prayers that come from that place you reach when there isn't an ounce of pride left to get in the way. Mama muscles are in your heart and  begin to grow when a baby is placed in your arms for the first time and continue to strengthen with every growth spurt, life lesson, and even letting go. It's the making of a Mama. And sometimes it's a little easier taken with a spoon full of sugar, or my favorite, cheek sugars, so take 'em while you can get 'em, even if they are germy. :)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Friday Free For All

I'm getting ready for a movie date (on the couch) with my hubby, but he's running to get some refreshments from Mr. Cheap Butts, so I thought I would check in real quick lest you had decided that I had run away with the circus or moved to a leper colony. Both have crossed my mind, but I'm still here. :)

* We are still fighting off winter illnesses. I hope they are winter illnesses. I hope March equals NO MORE SICKNESS ever. I know, I have big dreams. I woke up last Monday with another stomach bug. Actually it was exactly like the one I had before so I've decided that apparently my immune system went on vacation without leaving notice. I was sicker with those two viruses than I was through 3 pregnancies if that tells you anything. And before you can even ask, NO, I am not! :) Today, Kate has pinkeye. Getting eye drops into a 4 year old's eyes (as of tonight it spread into the other eye as well....) is an Olympic sport of challenging proportions. I imagined a panel of judges watching Josh and I hold her down, coaxing and begging and pleading, and holding up signs with 2's and 3's. Maybe a 4 out of sympathy. 

* So a new man has come into my life. He's British. Let me tell y'all about this. Last week fliers went home with the kids about try-outs for the spring theater production I'm directing. Last time my phone number was not given out, only the organizations that I work with and it led to a lot of miscommunication. This time I said they could put my number on the flier and I figured nobody would really pay attention except the kids I had last time anyway.  Well, the very first day the flier went home, before my kids were even home from school, I got a call from a British guy telling me he was a professional actor who just moved to our area and wanted to meet other "thespians". I put that in quotes because I let Josh listen to the message he left and he started cracking up laughing and I knew that was the part he laughing at. Besides the fact that we don't typically use that term, I don't even pretend that I qualify as a "thespian". More like "the only person they could find in town who doesn't have a real job and could work weird hours with the children's theater." That's what it says in my job description. Okay, not really. Anyway, I decide, because I watch way too much Dateline ID that he is a serial killer who wants to murder me. In a public place. He mentioned meeting me in a public place. So, we have our first try-outs on Wednesday and he came! He turned out to actually be an incredibly nice guy who recently lost his wife and just wants to be a part of theater here. He also has the coolest accent and I could sit and listen to him all day. He tells the kids things like, "That audition was cracking." And it sounds so cool. It does not sound cool if I say it. Anyway, we had 30 kids (double the number from last time) try-out so I am thankful for the extra help. He will be able to teach the kids a lot.

* Tonight I washed my hair with baking soda and rinsed it with apple cider vinegar. I've been doing lots of reading about natural products as I have a lot of chemical sensitivities and I am really hoping I love this baking soda and apple cider vinegar thing. Because I will totally put the $20 I usually spend on shampoo/conditioner on new shoes. :)

Okay, this is the worst, most boring post ever. But my man is back with my trail mix and ready for a movie. I hope you all have a great weekend. Feel free to tell me what you are up to so there will be something interesting on this post.  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Knock, Knock

The thing about teaching Bible stories to kids is, you just don't ever know what your gonna get. Sometimes it's magical. Sometimes it's chaos. Sometimes it's hilarious. Usually it's all of the above. Case in point: my class tonight. I teach kindergarten through 2nd grade and lately Kate (who is 4) has joined our class as she thinks she is too grown up for the nursery.

Tonight, we talked about God choosing a boy, Abraham. We talked about the plans God had for him and how it included leaving his home and his family. During the telling of this story I may have said, "Bottoms in your chairs" and "keep your chairs on the floor" 47 times. I also may have used bribery. Kate may have also found it relevant to share with us that she knows what a "tormado" drill is for. It may have been slightly more chaotic than spiritual. Then, we talked about God being with us wherever we go and that led to a discussion about having Jesus in our hearts. I wanted to make it clear that not everyone has Jesus in their hearts, that we have to ask Jesus to come into our hearts. One of the boys asked, "I have a door in my heart?" As you can imagine, this can be a tricky thing to explain to children. I jumped on the door idea and told them about the verse in Revelation 3:20a, "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in". 

That led to Eli saying, "Knock, knock!" Of course we all answered, "Who's there?"
 He said, "Jesus."
"Jesus who?"
"Jesus who lives in your heart!"

Great, beautiful moment. That led to- "Knock, knock."  
Class-"Who's there?"
Class-"Apple who?"
Mrs. Emily- "Okay, we've got to get back to our lesson."   Thinking-'Was any of the last 15 minutes part of the lesson????'

I went on to ask the kids what we had to get out of our hearts to make room for Jesus to move in. 
"Sin!" answered the preacher's son. :)
So we talked about how we all have done bad things. Eli felt the need to talk about when other people do bad things.  "One time this boy flipped us the bird. And Kate asked, 'Where did he get a bird from?"

And Kate rolled her eyes, flipped her hair and said, "I just didn't know where the heck that bird came from!"

And I decided we should pray and go eat.


Anyone who thinks Bible study is boring obviously doesn't do it with kids!!!!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sweet as Sugar

I've gone four weeks without sugar, y'all. I won't lie, I've had some temptation. We've had 2 church dinners with a table full of the best looking desserts you've ever seen. Last weekend Josh and I spent a night and a day teaching a youth group in a cabin that boasted a bonfire outside and a kitchen  counter full of marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers just begging me to make them a smore. But I didn't. And today, it's Valentine's Day. The national day of chocolate. It's all over my house. I'm staying strong. It helps that I have another kind of sweetness hanging around here.....

            (Daisy is hanging around because Kate had just popped a heart brownie in her mouth.)

Kate just told me, "Roses are red, violets are blue. Sugar is sweet and so are you."  And YOU my sweet babies!!

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope your day is full of sweetness!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Who You Lookin' At?

The lights in dressing rooms are cruel, aren't they? You would think that stores would figure out ways to make you look better so you would feel more obligated to buy something other than an exercise DVD. I was a little (or a lot) disappointed this week as I tried on some clothes. Thanks to the stomach bug and a diet that makes me look forward to raisins as a sweet treat, I am now a number on the scale and a size in clothes I never dared dream I would see again. You would think I would be excited. I thought I would be too. But I wasn't. I don't look like I did the last time I was this number. I'm saggy. And cellulitey. Is that a word? I tried to make myself look at the overall picture instead of focusing on my problem area(s) and that helped some. I looked okay. But I didn't look like.....who was I trying to look like anyway? It was in that moment that I realized I wasn't as upset with how I looked as I was with who I don't look like. As in, I don't look like a supermodel. Newsflash, right?

The truth is, I have slowly come to accept that my body has birthed 3 children and as my sister would say, I fully abused the privilege of pregnancy. :)  I pushed calorie counts to places they should never go and gave the phrase  "sedentary lifestyle" new meaning.  I have the scars and stretch marks to prove it. It's not pretty. But they are very visual reminders of the struggle that took place as my body made room for new life. I recently came across the website "The Shape of A Mother" (Disclaimer: There are pictures of a graphic nature and I do not agree with or condone all thoughts and feelings shared on the website) and I have read stories of so many women struggling to come to grips with their new post-baby bodies. And despite the fact that there are pictures and proof that some women do seem to bounce back perfectly, the fact is that after having babies you are forever changed. If not physically, in every other way. But the statement I read over and over was, I would never trade my baby to have that body back.  Now, we might all like a tummy tuck, but not if it meant giving our babies back. :)

This post actually has nothing to do with babies or stretch marks. It has to do with the new life I mentioned. Not the lives our Mamas sacrificed their bodies to give us, but the new life our Savior sacrificed His for. You see, my discouraged moment in the dressing room wasn't the only discouraging moment for me this week. Or the last few weeks. I've had several. In fact, I've felt downright defeated. For as long as I can remember the enemy has enjoyed playing a game with me I like to call, "How many ways can I fail?" During this game I begin to think on everything in my life that I wish I hadn't done, or felt like was a failure, or current things in life that I feel like I stink at. Just like in the dressing room when I began comparing my body to that of a supermodel, I like to take all aspects of my life and slap them up next to someone or something that is way better than me. I feel like a loser. It's tons of fun. 

Well, just this very week I was drifting off into loserville and I was getting ready for a good cry and a walk down my hall of shame when something happened. My Savior stepped in. I promise it was like being bullied and having the strongest kid in the class step up for you. As I began to tick off the list in my head of things I've done wrong or ways that I've failed I began to have thoughts about other things I've accomplished or overcome. And I was instantly reminded that all of those things had one thing in common-Him. I am so far from perfect it's not even funny, but as I thought back on my life I was completely overwhelmed at where I've been and where I've come. And I can say that without an ounce of arrogance because I know Who has brought me here. It has not been without battles or the scars that come with them. Sometimes those scars seem as real and visible as the ones that cover my tummy. I can honestly say that in the same way I wouldn't trade my babies to be rid of my stretch marks, I wouldn't trade the lessons I've learned to be free of the other scars either.  But the truth is that He bore those scars for me long before I even entered the battle. He hasn't stopped fighting for me yet. 

Do you ever feel defeated? If you are a child of God, we've already been promised the victory. I've learned that success and failure are both very influenced by who we're looking at. I recently came across this verse and I felt like it summed it up perfectly. "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."  Isaiah 26:3.

When our minds (and eyes) are focused on Him, we will find peace no matter what the situation. When we are steadfast. When we do not take our eyes off for even a second to focus on how we measure up with other people, to dwell on what could have been, or what might be. We can trust that He will keep fighting for us, and while we will never be the same, the new life He creates will be worth whatever struggle brings it. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

My New Fashion Trend...

*This is a true story. Every.last.word. But for the sake of my sanity and my social life, let's pretend it's not.

I left y'all with the news that I almost burnt our house down last Sunday night. Turns out, that would be prophetic for what I would want to do by the end of the week. Grab a chair and a hazmat suit and I will tell you all about my week.

Monday- I was still feeling pretty crummy, but trying to pull myself together as I had to work that night. And while spotting girls in a tumbling class doesn't require a ton of skill, it does require a ton of strength and energy. I had been running low on both. I survived though and went home and had a nice supper with the fam. Josh has been so awesome about making sure I stick with my diet and cooking for me on the nights that we would be likely to just want to grab something. All was well until Eli started complaining of a stomachache. We started the bedtime routine and he went to use the bathroom and I just happened to walk by in time to see (because 6 year old boys do not require privacy in the bathroom) him projectile vomiting. Awesome. I was just thankful it happened on the tile floor and not the carpet in his bedroom. Thankfully, this was a one time occurrence.

Tuesday- Eli talked his way into staying home from school, but did NOT act sick. In fact, he was running laps through the house. We already had plans to have friends over for dinner that night and I debated cancelling, but since it only happened once I convinced myself it was just something he had eaten. We spent the day cleaning and preparing for our guests. That night we had fajitas and great conversation with a special couple who will probably never speak to us again, or at the least will avoid our house like the plague. But the night itself was the highlight of our week. :)

Wednesday- I was feeling so good Wednesday. The best I have felt in over a month. I felt alive again. I put on make-up and fixed my hair. I went to pick Kate up at school and took her to have a picnic at the park while we waited for her dentist appointment. It was a gorgeous day. We had just enough time to eat and play. I took Kate to the dentist and it was a quick visit. As we were waiting to pay I noticed something that would change the course of the entire week. LICE!!!!! We went straight home and to the bathtub. Kate had been fighting a cold and was already pretty miserable.

*I have to stop here and back up. A week after Christmas we had this same problem. It turned into an all day and night marathon and I got a new vacuum cleaner out of the deal. I also googled until I became an expert on this subject. My children and I sat around for hours with mayonnaise and plastic bags on our heads. Our doorbell rang 40 times that day. As I was getting ready to wash and comb everybody's heads, Josh informed that one of our puppies that we gave away was being fought over in a custody  battle and the police might be by to talk to him. Seriously? I cannot say it enough, these things only happen to me!!!! At one point I thought the police officer had gotten there and I locked me and 3 kids into our tiny bathroom.  Later I found out Josh was talking on the phone with him. Lucky for that policeman.*

So, I share all of that to say that I now consider myself an expert and went into action. I really debated sharing this information as I figure I will lose all friends and social acquaintances, but I have written about so many aspects of motherhood that I felt this was one I just couldn't pretend didn't happen. Not too long after our first experience we watched "I Don't Know How She Does It", and there was a lice scene that made me laugh and also want to hold her and cry. But of course, not touch heads. If you have boys, the lice solution is simple, shave their heads. That's what Josh and Eli did. While they did that I smothered mine and the girls LONG, THICK, AND CURLY (kate) hair with mayo and wrapped our heads in Wal-Mart bags and shower caps. There are no words for how ridiculous we looked, but I read that suffocating the lice is one of the most sure fire ways to kill them. I won't lie, I was secretly thinking 'Die, you ugly bugs. Suffocate! Suffer!'  If you've had lice, you understand. You leave it on your head as long as humanly possible while you vacuum everything you own that is not being  washed. There are no words to explain what the laundry situation has been like in this house. None.

Kate was running fever that day and cried and whined the entire time I washed her hair and combed it. Combing is key y'all.  You have to comb that hair for HOURS. Anyway, after I covered our furniture in sheets she laid down and passed out.  Then, she woke up and we got to wash and comb all over again. You can't imagine the fun we've had in this house. Eli came home from church (of course this happened on a Wednesday) and announced that he had told everyone we had lice. Thanks Eli.

Thursday- We kept the kids home to treat again. I colored my hair because I read that that will kill them too and I needed to cover some grays anyway. Especially after this week. That afternoon I headed to dance (the girls did not) and when I got there a crowd was already waiting. A new girl was starting and her little brother was having a massive nose bleed. I was trying to get in the door, get my skirt and shoes on, get paper towels for the nose bleed, find shoes for the new girl and calm down my other ballerinas who were extra hyper. We managed to start class and before long the phone was ringing off the hook. Barbie had decided to take the day off and my assistant didn't show up. Normally I just let the phone ring and go to the answering machine if I'm teaching, but we had been under severe weather watches and I was worried someone might be calling about that. They were. Several moms called to ask if we were cancelling classes due to the weather.  I felt like I needed to talk to Barbie first, so I told them to call back later. I couldn't get a hold of Barbie. So many moms called that I just made the decision to cancel my last two classes. That meant calling everybody. I couldn't remember the password to get into the computer to get phone numbers. By this point my second class was getting there and I still didn't have an assistant. I finally remembered where the registration forms were filed and started going through them looking for numbers. I put a 6 year old in charge of stretching out the girls. It was desperate times y'all. The sky kept getting darker and parents started coming in the middle of the class to get their kids. By the end I had two girls left and when one of their moms got their she told me a tornado had been spotted on the Cape, which was about 10 minutes from us. I ushered the girls out and hauled booty home. I remembered later that I had left the computer on. I apologized to Barbie the next time I saw her and she told me she didn't know what had happened. I left the computer, A/C and the stereo on, and there was blood in the bathroom!!!!!! The nosebleed! I had never even had time to go in the bathroom. I told her it must have been like a scene out of CSI. She said she didn't know what those parents had done to me!!!

Friday-4:00am I woke up feeling terrible. Kate was in the bed with us snoring like crazy. My stomach was killing me. I moved to the couch and for some reason Sarah and Eli were already in the living room. I laid down and tried to watch TV to forget that I felt like I was DYING. Then, it happened. The puking. Eli asked me what I was spitting up. I wanted to say, "I don't know son, would you like me to send it off to a lab?" It finally stopped, but it was official, I was camped on the couch for the day. A few hours later I was on the phone with my sister and Kate was sitting in the recliner. She started saying her stomach hurt and before I could get off of the couch, she was projectile vomiting. By Friday night I was in tears asking Josh if he thought I was still a Christian and I was questioning the meaning of life. Did I mention Friday marked my 6th day caffeine free? My Mamaw had come into town the Friday night before and I still had not seen her due to the fact that apparently my house is a CDC petri dish.

I woke up Saturday feeling like a new woman and I told Josh that if I had to take a barf bag and wear a shower cap, I was getting out of the house!!!! We had a fun, busy weekend and life was beginning to feel normal again. Today we went and voted. Tonight, Josh is in the bed. Yep, it's his turn. I'm just going to go bathe in Lysol and sleep with a surgical mask on. If I were you, I'd just be glad you are only a "blogging friend" and not someone who has had physical contact with us. Get on your knees and thank God. And, if you are someone who has had physical contact with us, God bless you. It was nice knowing you. I totally understand if you never want to come within 30 feet of us. And if you do, dress appropriately.

Photo courtesy of Google Images