Sunday, September 24, 2017

INTENTIONALITY

I logged into Blogger and hit "View Blog," and realized that I've only posted 3 times in the month of September, and this month is already waning. 😱 We are creeping ever closer to October which officially starts the holiday slide effect where each week seems packed more fully with exciting events of some sort or another that consume lots of time and energy, and then I wake up on January 1st and wonder how 2017 passed so quickly.  Maybe its just me, but if you have small children or any children, I imagine it's probably you, too.

Since school started back in August, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to spend my time.  I've prayed.  I've talked to John.  I've started bullet journaling (which I super love and plan to post about soon!).  Last year, I sent all of my children to school and for the first time in years, I had breathing room in my life.  Every day, there were 7 "blank" hours where there used to be children.  I made no secret of the fact that I was devastated about all of my children heading to school at the same time.  That lasted about a week - maybe less if I'm being honest. 😂

Every family and every mother and every season is different, but for this season and our family, having everyone in school works out to be a massive blessing to us all.  I LOVE it.  Each of my kids loves their school, and they are thriving in their classrooms.  I do not take this for granted and am so grateful.

Last school year, it really did feel as if all kinds of time and opportunities were opened to me.  I went to Rwanda with a group of like-minded women.  I made a TON of cookies.  I revved back up my involvement in the non-profits that I work with.  I even worked a tiny bit at the restaurant - such a tiny amount that it was laughable, but I can now work our updated register system. 👊🏻

However, as summer hit, and we wrapped on that first full school year this May, I realized that I was just as exhausted as when all the kids had been home.  It was like instead of doing arm workouts all the time, I switched to all leg workouts, making sure that I was still wiped out.  Turns out that those seven blank and childless hours go by SO QUICKLY.

Please hear no complaint from me.  I understand that my position of stay-at-home mother with all of her children in school who does not HAVE to work is one of extreme privilege.  Because of how John and I have chosen to divvy up our work load, most of the house stuff falls to me.  I need to plan meals and make sure that everyone eats.  I do the laundry.  I pick up the house.  It all takes time, especially if I want to do it well.  I also try to workout regularly and see some friends during the school hours to stay physically/socially healthy.

Basically, all of the stuff that I was doing with kids at home still takes a lot of time whether they are with me or not.  And, now that they are in school most of the day, I would prefer to focus more of my energy on them in the hours that we have together after school and on the weekends.  Last year, I tried to stuff in too many other things on top of what it takes just to run our home well and be present with my young children.  

So, I've tried to approach this year more cautiously.  I've signed on for less.  I'm trying to pace myself, because, as it turns out, I'm running a marathon - not a sprint.  I'm still winded from the sprinting of the last few years and working to break some bad habits.

One of the verses that has been pivotal in our lives has come back to me during this time.

1 Thessalonians 4:11 NIV

.. Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands. ...

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cuff by FarmGirl Paints on Etsy - I 😍 her work.

I'm not sure what about me leads me to want a LOUD life in unhealthy ways.  We all have tenancies within ourselves that lead us down paths that don't end well.  I want to be noticed and do all the things and win life in every area all of the time.  Is that asking too much? 🤦🏻‍♀️

Yes.  Yes it is.  And often, it isn't honoring to the Lord.  In many cases, I end up seeking honor for myself - usually not intentionally, but by default.  So, I'm looking to quiet my life for the time being and do the things that HAVE to be done well and be very careful about what I add on top of those.  

As I've examined myself, I've been reminded how much I love writing.  I kept a journal starting in 6th grade that I updated very regularly.  Writing has always been a healing way to express and work through what's going on inside my brain.  With that said, I'm hoping to spend more time writing here and sharing some of this journey.  I've noticed that in the last couple of years, I've mostly posted about things we've done and less about thoughts I'm having, and I'm looking to mix up that ratio moving forward.

So - here's to being intentional and quiet and doing less so that I can be more.  I'd love to have you along for the journey - what are some ways that help you to live quietly?

Sunday, September 17, 2017

FAM PICS BY MAIN STREET STUDIOS

Back at the very end of July, Luke took our family pictures while we were in Siloam Springs.  It should be noted, that one of my children, who happens to be male, was EXTREMELY OPPOSED to this photo session.  But Luke was able to make photo magic anyway, because he is super awesome like that.  It is unbelievable to me that the same person who took our engagement pictures many many moons ago has now taken pictures of us as a family at every stage.  My best advice for this is to have your sister also marry a fantastic photographer.  I am so grateful.

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The girls were all extremely willing participants, especially since I kept slipping them Smarties, my go to photo bribe due to lack of messiness.  Do you ever catch yourself looking at pictures of your children and being just floored at how beautiful they are?  That was my sensation when I saw these.

8 year old Lily

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6 year old Bella

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4 year old Violet

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4 year old William

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I've been sort of obsessed with balloons, so I brought some, along with a helium tank.  We blew up four before the helium ran out, and then one floated away. 🤣 So, my vision didn't exactly come to fruition, but we still got a few fun shots.

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That last picture sums up life pretty well.  I'm bringing the fun, John is bringing the steady, and the kids are clinging and/or running depending on the moment.

Thank you so much, Main Street Studios!  To see our past photo sessions with Main Street Studios, click here.  And, if you are in NorthWest Arkansas, you should definitely book Luke to take your pictures - he is amazing!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

POTTY TRAINING: CHILD 1 VS. CHILD 4

We hit a major milestone a couple of weeks ago.  All of my children are potty trained!  It only took us a million years and two million Pull-Ups to get here.  As we've arrived in this enviable position, it barely even registered with me, which shows just how far I've come as a mother.

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There are myriad differences between walking a road with your first child compared with your last.  Even though the span between my oldest and youngest is only 4 years, so much has changed in those 4 years.  Mainly, me.

Here's a little review.  When child number one was potty training, I was a psychopath.  Let's take a little walk down memory lane, shall we?  Since I chronicled every part of the journey 🙈, we've got it easily accessible in memorandum.  When Lily was three, I started seriously trying to potty train her, which I found humbling and difficult and was sure to lace with lots of drama - the post was titled, "Trying to Tame the Bladder of Steel." That didn't work, which I mentioned in this post, and then I took her to ACH to get an ultrasound of said bladder. 🤷🏻‍♀️ The next step I took was taking us both to a child psychologist. 🤦🏻‍♀️ How am I not kidding with this?  I am not.  Not even a little bit.

Y'all.  She did finally get potty trained.  Obviously.  We survived, though not unscathed.  I was much more chill about child number two, though I still made a pretty big deal about it: see family trip to Wal-Mart to pick out a toy, dinner out at a Chinese buffet and a family donut date.  No skimping there.

Fast forward some years to the twins.  They've had some developmental delays, but the truth is, they are both quite bright.  Here is the other truth, I did not care one lick about when or whether they potty trained.  After the major drama of potty-training Lily and realizing that she finally did it when she was ready AND ONLY THEN, I was scarred and gun-shy.  And also lazy.  And there are two of them, always.  Potty-training twins sounded like the worst thing ever, so I basically tried to avoid it completely.

Plus, I'm just worn down, with a lot of other things going on now.  There are 4 kids, instead of 2, and we've got other fish to fry.  So, when Violet showed a lot of interest, it was fine, but I moved very slowly.  She's been fully potty-trained for quite some time now, though it took a long time to get there.  She's also still my most avid toilet tourist and never misses an opportunity to use a public restroom - what a joy! 😒

However, William had zero concern over peeing in a pull-up - and why would he?  It was convenient.  It was comforting.  For both of us.  At the most recent school conference, they asked about whether or not I was considering potty-training (they were very gracious, though we all fully recognized that it should have already been done), and they also volunteered to help.  "Send him in undies!" they said.  "We'll deal with it!" they said.  I felt guilty about letting them do ALL of the work, so I put him in underwear, very much against his will, one Saturday.  It was a disaster that included two accidents, that were not actually accidents since he smiled right through them, while we were at the mall and then at the movie theater.  John put a mostly empty popcorn bin under him to catch the urine streaming down his legs the second time.

But Sunday came, and he realized we were serious.  He's had an almost perfect record since then for both day and night.  I guess he was ready.  😂  He was extremely pleased to be rewarded with SpiderMan Legos for the first full week of getting it done a while back.

Just like that - my four children are potty trained!  I never thought this day would come - especially when potty training child one seemed like the hardest thing I might ever face.  Even though John and I lead by example in this area, it seemed a difficult thing for many of our kids to catch on to.  But the years and diapers flew by.  We are onto bigger, better and honestly harder things.  We all grow together.  I'm not sure the next thing I will be a psychopath about, but I'm sure it's looming.

Til then, I'll be hoping and praying for wisdom and grace to prop us up along the way.  And, I'll try to remember to have a little levity and a long view, because Lord knows, we're all gonna need both.  For now, I'm reveling in the lack of a diaper bag, while always always always keeping wipes in my car because life.

Monday, September 04, 2017

LABOR DAY WEEKEND

I honestly thought we didn't do much this weekend, but then I looked through my phone and realized that we stayed on the go, mostly because sitting around our home all day is not a very pleasant option with our kids, and it was the last weekend to enjoy the pool, so we did a lot of that.

The other sort of bizarro thing is that we really kicked off the weekend fun on Thursday night with the Hogs season opener in Little Rock.  The rain stayed away, and the evening shaped up to be unexpected fall perfection.  We attended the game with John's parents and thoroughly enjoyed cheering the Razorbacks onto victory!

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Friends came over Friday night after bedtime, and though this is the only picture I took, it was truly a delightful evening filled with spicy edamame, wine, sushi and lots of laughing.

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We really did spend a lot of time at the pool this weekend, trying to soak in the last of the summer.

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Another favorite pastime was driving very slowly through our neighborhood looking for rabbits, geese, deer and rainbows.

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We hit up Loblolly, which is quickly becoming a family favorite due to their large selection of dairy-free ice cream.  We love it!  This time John and I split a flight which was a really good life decision.

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Today was mostly spent trying to tame Violet's precious curls into a protective style.  We did take a mid-day break to eat lunch at CFA with a sweet friend who I met in Rwanda who happened to be driving through Little Rock today - so fun!!

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Hope your weekend was filled with good things! Cannot believe we are really working our way into fall.  I feel like I am trying to ready myself for the way the days speed right up as September zips along into October and then the holidays and then its 2018, just like that.  At least, that is how it will feel. 😳😜