Reclaiming the Day

9-4-14 013 (756x1024)Perhaps it has something to do with the weather. Last I recall it wasn’t supposed to be a gloomy rainy day. Or perhaps it has more to do with my own lack of sleep. Or the three sick kids, or maybe even a few minuscule pregnancy hormones run amok.
Or, maybe it has to do with his job stress or our finances. Or the sheer business of the last few weeks. Maybe its the looming business of the weeks ahead?

Most likely it has something to do with all of it.

You know the feeling:

Not one more snotty nose to wipe.

Not one more meal to prepare with complaining voices and bodies wrapped around your legs.

Not one more quarrel to quell.

Not one more thought to invade my already crowded mind.

Not. one. more. thing!

I feel empty. Empty of energy, empty of compassion, empty of patience.

…. and its not even nine o’clock!

And so the morning starts. On the day I gave up drinking coffee…. hmm, maybe…?

So much to do. We’ll just steam roll through it.

I’m in no mood to cuddle, to talk them through the squabbles. I need to get breakfast on the table before all anarchy breaks loose… don’t I?

As we sit around the table, with each begrudgingly accepted and yet custom made meal, I open our devotional book. I glance around the table. None of us (myself leading the pack) are into it. But we soldier on. This is our routine. Its supposed to be beautitful… often it is.

Just not today.

I read, and the words strike my heart like little beads of hail. Reminding, exhorting,  convicting. Isn’t this for the kids?!

Still we push through. My attitude as stormy as the weather outside. And now the kids are picking up on it. The more I push them forward into our day, the more they dig in and refuse to be moved. The more they cling to me the more I push them away.

Our day is going down the tubes fast.  Something has to change. Did I mention I feel empty?

The moment comes and all is quiet… not the good quiet. My thoughtful one has retreated. The other two…. are somewhere…

But, I find him, sullen lying in bed. My heart cannot resist this one. He is far too in tune to his mothers moods and affected to deeply. I have to change this. I cannot let my DRA (Dirty Rotten Attitude) ruin his day too.

We chat, I confess I’m having a hard day too. I tell him I’m sorry. He says he’s sorry for his attitude too. Then I dig deeper.

“You know, sometimes I can’t change my attitude on my own.” I say.

He looks at me surprised. “You can’t?”

“No, I have been trying all morning. I need help. I need God’s help.”

We decide to pray. We both pray and begin to feel that slow pouring of renewal.

Prayer and confession always leads the way to restoration. But, the real secret to reclaiming the day was found in what we did next.

We hugged.

For a long time.

Just sitting there in quiet company.

Letting go of our frustration, letting go of our anger. Remembering we love each other.

Accepting HIS forgiveness.

Realizing we have the gift to start again.

When we looked up. The little ones had found us, and joined in.

And the next secret to recovering out day. We all squished together on the couch and cuddled. We read book after book. We giggled, we relaxed, we restarted our day.

I’m not sharing this because I want brag about a touching moment. Nor am I here to say I have found the secret to saving your morning that may be going a little rougher than you would like.

I’m writing this to remind us all.

The day can be recovered. It can be saved.

The only secret we need know is found in the relationships we carry so close to our hearts.

Relationship with God, with each other. Yes, the day can be reclaimed when we remember the relationships.

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On this First Day of School

9-2-14 001 (768x1024)Today marks (at least for our little part of the country) the first day most kids head back to school. It is usually an exciting day with lots of pictures of kids who grew too much over the summer, new outfits, book bags and binders popping up all day along my Face Book feed. And of course there is the ever emotion filled post from a mom who is both relieved to have lived through the summer, excited for the next chapter in her families life and yet is heart broken that she and her brood will be separated again for hours upon hours each day.

If the truth be told this day is also a bit bitter sweet for me. We home school and while we certainly have a “first day” of the school year, I seem to let it pass with far less pageantry than I see others do. In fact we have actually been cracking open the books for nearly a month already. Easing into the year with as much gentleness and grace as possible.
And yet, despite my failing at the social media worthy first day picture, I wouldn’t trade this life for the world.

I am glad that on the morning of this “first day” my kids are still all in their p.j.’s allowed to greet the day as the sun rises and the mists lift. We will slowly get around and do our chores and begin our school day. And though some would argue that I am not preparing them for life properly. I figure at this stage in the game that preparation (as in getting up at the crack of dawn and hurried to get ready) will have its chance, why rush now? Why rush when we don’t need to? Time may be the only gift we have today, so I will choose to embrace it.

I get a lot of questions about what our home school day entails. I never really quite know how to answer these questions, because every day can look a bit different. Yes, we do have subjects that we try to cover each day, and yes we have kind of routine. Though as each year passes I see our home school style ever changing and shifting to meet the needs of my children’s learning style and the further incorporation of other little minds and hands.  This too is a gift.

There is one thing that I think other parents and I do have in common on this “First day.” It is that feeling that today above all days we are reminded that we are required to let go a little more. Sure my kids are still very young, and I’m not even close to saying a final goodbye to diapers and sippy-cups. But, the fact remains that each year that passes means I am one year closer to letting go.  And therefore I must embrace the days and throw myself fully into the preparation of these precious souls for the life they are meant to lead.

Therefore on this day of first for many, I wish you blessing, and unhurried enjoyment. Learning is precious however you approach it. For the mothers (and fathers) letting go is harder each year, I get that. I hope you all enjoy your day as well. Get that cup of coffee or other reward of choice for making it through another summer. Remember to breath. No doubt we will face many new challenges this school year, and be offered less time to go slow and relish the days. I pray that you will gain strength  and joy at looking at the blank page this school year has to offer.  With all the hopes and ideals you dream of. I know we all are aware they won’t last. But, for this moment we are at a begining. Fresh and new.

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Happy Birthday Miss Addie

Adelina 0128-17-13 0358-17-14 009 (689x1024)The day has arrived. Miss Adelina had turned two!
What a busy couple of years it has been. We are so thankful for this little life. We love the person she is becoming. Passionate, loving, assertive and ever busy, may be the best words to describe her.
We like birthday celebrations to lean towards the simple and quiet side, and this year was no exception. We went to church this morning, followed by lunch lunch at home.  A little brownie and ice cream treat. I’d like to note that Addie is not that into cake, but she loves her ice cream.
We also enjoyed visiting with Papa and Manna and Grandma G. And of course she is reveling in her gifts.

And now we melt in sugar, present and attention overload. Looking with gratitude to all the joy the day has brought and thankful that a birthday does only come to one, but once a year. What a wonderful and full day.

Happy birthday little girl, may you be blessed with many more. :)

 

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In the Garden (a post in humility)

8-7-14 008 (1024x555) 8-7-14 010 (762x1024) 8-7-14 012 (1024x734) 8-7-14 013 (762x1024) 8-7-14 014 (768x1024) 8-7-14 015 (765x1024)This may be the most humbling post I have ever shared.

Many know that I love my gardens. I love the planting and the watering and even the weeding (though I admit I have never been as diligent about it as I could be – there are little ones to chase and all.) And of course I love the harvest.

…But something happened this year. I’m not proud of it. But none-the-less it still happened.

Somewhere along the way I got discouraged.

It may have started with the soil problems. We have a lot of clay around here and thus some very alkaline soil. So, with my first planting nothing grew. We did fertilize and had slightly better results with our second planting… for a few minutes anyway.

But, then the rabbits and deer found the garden and promptly ate every seedling and sprout!

After that there was the morning sickness that wouldn’t abate. Thus the weeding and tending pretty much halted.

And now, here I am admitting defeat. This years garden is a total flop.

I think we’ll get a few tomato’s, I’ve harvested two zucchini, and one broccoli floret.

Its sad, and I know there is a lesson in there somewhere. Something about perseverance I’m sure. Perhaps even a little something about pride.

Yes, this year has been full of bumps and disappointments when it comes to the garden. But, then I remember, there is (Lord willing) always next year.

That thing about grace, and about looking forward and learning from your mistakes. Yes, this years garden may not have an abundant harvest. But, I will try again next year. I will be greatful for the fruits I have and will harvest this year. Thankful still that God has blessed us with this little piece of earth.

 

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Learning the Ropes

7-19-14 042 (1024x764) 7-19-14 050 (1024x768) 7-19-14 054 (753x1024) 7-19-14 059 (753x1024) 7-19-14 063 (1024x766)We have a new addition at our little house. This is Belle — or “Bella” (as Addie calls her.) She is a 5 year old P.O.A. (Pony of America) mare.
Sweet Belle is a gift and and answer to some little children’s prayers. Though we cannot say she is quite ready to be turned loose with the kiddo’s, this little girl is already learning the ropes of what her job at our house will be. We hope she loves it. One thing is certain they already love her. <3

 

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Weaning

Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul, Like a weaned child with his mother; Like a weaned child is my soul within me.
Psalm 131:2

The day has come. It was a day I swore I would not initiate. But, yet here it is, and here I am requiring it happen.

Today, I say Adelina is weaned. I have been blessed to have nursed her these last 22 months. It truly has been a precious time. It has also had its challenges. But I am at peace, and by all shocks I think she is too.

As you can see I fall in the extended breast-feeder camp. I believe it is good for my baby and even good for me. I know in our culture there are about a bazillion opinions on the duration and location one should nurse their baby. Having done it three times now over the past 7 years I can rattle off the stats from the CDC, the WHO and the AAP. And though those guidelines have helped my justification. This time around I settle in the peace that NOW after 22 months is the time that Addie needed to be weaned.

Weaning is a common concept in our culture typically led by the mother. Most even see it as the only way to get a baby to stop nursing. A prime motivator; the fear that if we don’t, a little nip will be required as we send them off to college.
Of course a nursing mother knows this to be a ridiculous notion. None-the-less it is one perpetuated by our culture. In my experience my oldest self-weaned at 33 months. And by that I mean, after he turned one he gradually began skipping nursing’s and I supported his decision until one day he woke up and skipped the only remaining feeding left. Then we were done. There was no crying or drama over it. He was just satisfied.  This all happened as I was just ending the first trimester of my second pregnancy. Great timing I thought.

Now nursing my second child was a different story. A needy nurser from day one. He was relentless about his milk. Add to that complications with starting solid foods and we were actively nursing as a primary source of nutrition for much longer than the norm. Then toss in a pregnancy, a miscarriage, followed by another pregnancy a few months later and you have a mama who was near the end of her rope and had spent more than a few months dealing with pain during nursing. I dreaded the moment he would ask for milk. I began to even resent having him close to me. Thankfully a good mama friend reminded me the importance of our nursing relationship working for both of us. So, for the sake of saving our relationship it was time to wean.

My experience initiating weaning turned out to be exactly as I had heard and how I feared. It was hard, we both cried a lot. We gave up, I gave in. In the end it took me four months to be able to say he was weaned. He was 22 months.  On that day I vowed I would never wean another child.

So, when Addie was born I was already set for the long-haul. Prepared for the fact that she would probably nurse (at least once-a-day) well into her second year. And I was good with it. Until, those little blue lines told me our family was about to change again. And here I was faced with a cross road: Do I stick it out and let her nursing career run its course? Or, Do I start the weaning process now?

Well, it appears that the latter was easier to decide than I thought. Willing as I may be to nurse a baby — for years. I always (personally) couldn’t envision my self tandem nursing (that is, nursing two babies at once.) I know moms who have done or are doing it. I admire them greatly. I have seen the peace it can bring to a home with a new baby. I just really struggled with the concept for myself and my body.

Then add that miss Addie is the only one of my three babies to end up with nursing carries (oh boy, is that a whole other can of worms for another day.) and I felt pretty settled it was time to start weaning.

So, I gritted my teeth and prepared mentally for the battle before me but, to my surprise she has taken it rather well. Last Monday was the last day she nursed and though she has asked for it a few times (sometimes in broken record fashion, “milk. milk. milk. milk…”) When I tell her the milk is all gone, she simply says, “okay.” and asks for a snuggle or snack instead. This time the whole process took less than 5 weeks.

The thing I find most amazing about these experiences is how different they are. I used to think the most “natural” way to wean was to let the child lead it. But, now I have been humbled and can’t deny that mother-led weaning may be just as natural. Who is to say that preservation of relationship is not a natural reason to wean? Or that physical reasons on either the mother or the child’s part are not good enough reasons to wean also?

I cannot help but think of animals when it comes to this part of life – And please be aware I do not believe human beings are animals – But the similarities in this aspect of life are striking. For instance, a mare will wean a foal by moving and sometimes kicking it away from her. We consider that no less natural. A mother dog will do the same. In other instance the young will decide it is time to grow up and move on. And the mother knows why.

The point is this, weaning: whether mother-led or child-led is inevitable. It is not one-sided. In both cases my best advice is to offer grace to yourself and your child and go slow. You will both be satisfied that way.

 

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TV

I will admit there are days, or more like certain times of the day that I have really wished we had television. Let me elaborate because we do in fact own a TV, but its not hooked up to cable or satellite or even to an antenna. Gasp! we don’t even have Netflix!

I know there are thousands of people who have chosen to live this way and love it. I am working on joining that bandwagon also, and since we moved to this house we have enjoyed (or consciously made the effort to enjoy) watching even less TV.

Not to say it hasn’t been an adjustment, one that quite frankly took me a bit by surprise. From the day we got married it was a simple consensus that we would not pay for television. But, we have always had access to some form of television be it by antena, or instantly through Netflix.
At this house however, we have neither. When we moved here we decided (or rather it was decided for us because there is not access to unlimited high-speed internet) that we would not have Netflix. Nor would we choose to opt for Satellite. Antenna would not work with out purchasing a converter for our dinosaur age television either.
So, for the first time ever we are limited just to our DVD player. And until we moved here I never realized just how much television had infiltrated our lives.

But rather than lament on the hard things we have gone through during our TV withdrawals. I want to share something that I think is rather exciting. 6-22-14 008 (1024x768)

 

Yes, it is simple and surly it happened while we watched TV a little more. But, you cannot imagine how much peace I receive knowing this is our off-and-on throughout the day routine.

Some of the other family perks I’ve noticed since starting our TV hiatus have been:

  • Increased attention spans.
  • More peaceful play with a lot more imagination.
  • Easier bedtimes – Realized that one after letting them watch a movie before bed one night.
  • We are all reading a lot more.
  • We are all talking a lot more.
  • We are all eating together face to face (not face to TV) at lot more.
  • We are all outside a lot more.
  • We still enjoy a good movie but do not get trapped in front of the TV as much.
  • We are all a little more content (since we are not bombarded with advertisements.)

I know living without television is not for everyone. But I would encourage those who wish they watched just a little bit less to give it a go. And though it was hard at first it has turned out to be a blessing for our family.

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