Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Next (Right) Thing

The month of May - although gloriously beautiful - felt somewhat like a whirlwind,
with birthday parties, sports, new babies, a dance recital and a wedding, 
in addition to all the normal household duties.

Nicholas played tee ball and loved it! It was rewarding to watch him
be a part of something he enjoyed so much,
even though a good part of my evenings at the ball fields were spent chasing after a toddler
who tried on every helmet, and drank from every water bottle she could get her hands on! 
Occasionally, she’d slip through an open gate,
and toddle onto the ball field as fast as her little legs would carry her!
No, tee ball wasn’t exactly a relaxing experience for me this year,
but I guess it really wasn't about me, either, was it?

Since we began our summer vacation at the beginning of May,
I assumed I would have extra time to do some extra projects.
But life has a way of filling up,
and those extra hours?
I spent them riding the lawn mower, weeding the flower beds and garden,
and shuttling my crew from one appointment to the next.

As the days stretched out longer than usual, with Eddie working 80-100 hour weeks,
and my schedule overflowing, 
I found my soul craving rest and order.
Sometimes I would complain to him that I didn’t even have time to sit down!
Maybe that was a bit of an exaggeration, but the real struggle
was that I felt like I couldn’t take the time to rest.

On days when I knew I had to leave the house for morning and evening appointments,
and every spare minute was accounted for,
I felt overwhelmed before I even started my day!
I wanted to cry, or better yet, go back to bed, and forget all the responsibilities for awhile.
But we just don’t get that option in the real world, do we?
So I often found myself silently chanting, “Just do the next thing.”

If the bed is unmade, I can make it in less than 5 minutes, and I feel so much more at rest 
when I enter my room.
Typically, I clean up the kitchen before I start any other projects.
I find that I function so much better when the clutter is gone!
Then I tackle the laundry or cleaning or whatever else needs to be finished. 
When I feel exhausted, and it’s not even lunchtime,
I focus on the next thing, and do that.
And then the next. 

And I pray - many little prayers throughout the day,
some as simple as “help me, God!”
And He does.
Sometimes, it’s by giving me strength just to do the next thing.
 And sometimes, it’s by a gentle nudge, reminding me to sit for a few minutes
and watch my children play.

Doing the next thing doesn't mean that I busy myself every minute of every day.
I tend to do that: so overwhelmed by life at times
that I race from one project to the next like a hamster on a wheel.
At the end of the day, that busy-ness will feel more exhausting than productive
if doing the next thing hasn't been the right thing.

Sometimes the right thing will mean a temporary sacrifice of my list,
but it will always mean a deep sense of satisfaction.
In every season, there will be challenging days and exhaustion.
But there can also be peace, order and joy in these moments,
if I choose to live my life on purpose.
Make that list!
Prioritize what is most important, and do that first.

And then do the next thing.
And when you don't know what to do next?
Pray for grace to do the next right thing,
and just do that.
Make time to pick flowers, and swing the children,
and read them stories.
Kiss your husband and tell him you love him, and spend a few minutes reading the Bible.
Text that friend who is struggling;
make that meal.

And always - especially when you think you can't - take time to rest.
If you're a doer like me,
you know just how hard it is to give yourself that freedom.
But even a few minutes of rest will make that next thing
feel so much more possible!

As I walk into another busy week, my prayer is that I will have strength
 to do the next right thing,
and find joy in doing it.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Tirzah's First Birthday

One month ago, we celebrated Tirzah's first birthday!
It's hard to believe that if she had arrived on her due date, we would have had a party this past weekend instead!

What's even harder to believe is that this tiny 5 pound 12 ounce bundle of pure sweetness is now an active, determined curly-headed toddler!
This first birthday celebration always contains so many emotions for me.

But the strongest emotion I always feel is JOY!
These little ones are such a gift, even though not every moment of that first year feels like it.
There are plenty of highs and lows, sleepless nights and milestones to celebrate.

My husband always jokes with me that the party is more for me than for the baby!
I just smile and say that he's probably right.
Getting through the first year of life with a baby feels like a pretty big deal to me! 😄

I had some (unrealistic) dreams of making a naked smash cake for her party.
It looked my head!
Turns out, cakes have to be basically perfect if they're not going to be covered with icing. 
And mine never are!

I ended up just frosting a simple cake and adding flowers and this gold topper that my sister-in-law loaned to me.
I think Tirzah was just fine with it! 😊

This "first year stats" board was so fun to create!
After making some for a friend's twins, I decided I wanted the same thing at her party.

I made these vanilla cupcakes with strawberry buttercream frosting, and Eddie declared they were the best cupcakes he's ever had! 
I call that a win.

We planned a big party with both of our families and some friends.
The day of the party, there was a big snowstorm in the forecast.
And snow it did!!
After having two birthdays during the summer/early fall season, I'm still getting used to the challenges of winter celebrations!

Thankfully, my parents were able to make it here safely before the storm hit us.
Judging by the photo, you'd never know that some of us were happy,
but we really were so glad to have both sets of parents here to celebrate with us!

I love this picture of our happy little birthday girl! She was clapping her hands and enjoying all the attention that a one-year-old gets at their party. 😍

Earlier in the day, she was taking quite a few steps, to the delight of her grandparents and family!

Tirzah loved the icing on her cake, but she didn't actually do much smashing...
...not until she had some "help"!

I think her siblings ate more of it than she did!
(Notice the fingers in her brother's mouth!)

As you can see, she's often the center of attention around here! 

This is her "Why-did-you-take-away-my-cake" face!

It's amazing how much extra love one little person can bring to a family!
She's our feisty little snuggle-bug,
so determined, yet so sweet.

She's fearless, which has caused her mama more than a little stress.
She loves to climb the stairs, clean out the cupboards and go fishing in the toilet. (Why??!!)

She loves to dance, play the piano, and "sings" loudly when she hears us singing.
It's so fun to hear her say "Mom!" and chatter "Papa" when she hears his voice on the phone!

She's the delight of our family, and we love her so much!
Happy birthday, Tirzah Anne!

Monday, January 7, 2019

Embracing the Seasons

I bounced a fussing baby on my hip as I hurried around the house, collecting a bottle, burp cloth and change of clothes. Glancing at the clock, I realized that we needed to be left in 5 minutes if we were going to make it to soccer practice on time! One child was still looking for their water bottle and the other was upset that their favorite shorts were no where to be found. My patience was wearing thin, and the baby's whines changes to wails. "Just hurry up and put SOMETHING on!" I snapped to the frustrated 5 year old. "We don't have time to find your shorts! Put something on! Anything."  Inwardly, I wondered at my sanity for thinking it would be fun for the children to play soccer. Getting out of the house with a baby in tow requires some effort, not to mention having to make sure both children have all their soccer gear along!

Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot and unloaded what felt like a days' worth of belongings. We slid into a bench, just in the nick of time, and I let out a sigh of relief! After the children headed to the field, I began chatting with another mom who was sitting near me. Her youngest daughter, who was playing soccer, was 11 years old. She also had two older children, in their twenties. She smiled wistfully at me and my baby, who was chewing anything she could get her hands on. “I remember those days”, she said. We talked about homeschooling and how quickly the years fly by. Her children are now in college, miles away from her home.
 She seemed to have happy memories of those busy years when they were little, and she was their mother and teacher. I tried to picture my life in 15 years, when my oldest is 22, and suddenly I wanted to just freeze time! The chaos of leaving for a soccer game felt smaller, somehow, as my perspective on this season momentarily shifted. Because that’s the reality: I don’t get it all. One day, my house will stay cleaner and I won’t be constantly changing diapers, breaking up fights and teaching letters. But I won’t get those sweet childish hugs and see the wonder in their eyes when they start to read or watch them take their first step! This is my season, the hard and the wonderful, and I get to choose how I live it.

As the leaves turned from golden hues and fell to the ground, leaving naked trees behind them, I found myself resisting the change. I’m not ready for the cold to set in, and the darkness that comes so early in the evening! I longed for color and beauty for just a few more weeks, please. But I don’t choose these things; I choose what I do with the long winter days. Instead, I think about how to declutter the junk that magically collects in closets and drawers, and find a few minutes to paint or play piano when I would have been working outside in the summer. I embrace the urge to slow down and focus on creating a cozy space indoors. Each season can be beautiful, although I have to convince myself of the fact quite frequently in January and February!

One thing I have learned in my 35 years of life is that whether good or bad, no season lasts forever. Motherhood - and all of life - is also part of the cycle of seasons: always changing, never stagnant. And while I have moments that I would love to escape my reality, (aka: fighting siblings and babies that don’t nap) there are so many others that I wish I could capture forever.
So I lean into this season, with its sacrifices as well as its wonder, praying for grace and for eyes to see the blessings that are all around me. This is my season, and I embrace it, with joy!


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What I Learned during the Fourth Trimester

Until recently, I wasn't familiar with the term "fourth trimester",
and would probably have looked at you like you were crazy if you had asked me how that particular season was going!
It goes without mentioning that most of us are more than ready to be DONE with pregnancy by the end of the third trimester!
Since Tirzah arrived 5 weeks early, I skipped over part of that final stage!
But we all go through the next phase, whether or not the baby arrives early.
Typically, the fourth trimester is considered the 3 month time frame after the baby's birth.
I can hardly believe it, but we are just ending that phase as she celebrates 3 months earth-side today!
As I look back on these last 12 weeks, there are several things that I've learned - or maybe I should say "re-learned", since this is my third child!

1. Exhaustion is a real thing. Rest as often as possible!
I was so blessed with family and friends who offered to keep our two oldest children so I could sleep when the baby slept.
It was the best gift!

2. Vitamins are your best friend.
If you're one of those people who think vitamins are only for health nuts, hear me out! After giving birth, your body suddenly stops producing hormones that were necessary for the development of the baby. You are healing from said birth and producing nourishment for a tiny (albeit very hungry!) little human, all while being seriously depleted of sleep! A good prenatal vitamin is so important for you and your baby. Omega 3's are vital for brain health and aid in relaxation. I used a plant-based one that had Omegas 3, 6, 9, 5 and 7 in it! B12 is also wonderful in combatting those baby blues.

3. Accept help.
I think most of us have had great training in what it means to be a responsible adult, and that is such a good thing! But it can make it harder to admit that you do need help, and gracefully accept it when it is given. If a friend offers to come do your laundry and cook dinner, let her! And thank God if you have the gift of family close by, like I do! I had to swallow my pride when Tirzah was born, because I simply wasn't ready. The nursery wasn't even set up! But our family and friends stepped in and cleaned the house, including the refrigerator (which was an absolute disgrace!) and set up the nursery. My parents took down the Christmas decor and helped us get settled in. Friends brought delicious food. And I realized again what a beautiful gift community really is!

4. Remember that this is a phase.
My Mom has a simple piece of advice when I feel overwhelmed: "This too shall pass."
And she's right!
When  you wonder if you will ever get a full night's sleep again or the baby will ever move past their growth spurt and actually stay full longer than 1 hour, know that it will happen!

5. Trust your instincts.
Whether you're making a decision about sleep training, vaccinations or baby wearing, you will find there are as many opinions as there are people!
It can feel overwhelming, but as the mother of your child, you have a sense for what is best for your baby.
Every baby is different, and what works for another mama may not work for you...
and that is okay!

6. Enjoy your baby!
After having had 2 babies, I had an idea about how fast they really grow. But it still amazes me just how quickly they pass through each phase! Those precious newborn snuggles are THE BEST, and I cherish them even more because I know they don't last. I'm trying to savor the little grunts when she's eating, the way her chubby hand wraps around my finger and the softness of her cheeks.
I only get this chance once to enjoy her as a newborn,
and I'm soaking it up!

Monday, December 18, 2017

My Christmas Home

It's the most wonderful time of the year again!
The lights twinkle on the trees while the aroma of freshly-baked cookies fills the kitchen.
Excited children count down the days until Christmas,
and carols play on Pandora.

I broke my tradition this year, and began decorating for Christmas before we even celebrated Thanksgiving, thanks to some pleading from my children!
But I'm not even mad about it.
A few extra weeks of enjoying the coziness of evergreen and twinkly lights is just fine by me!

I hung my hand-crocheted snowflakes (gifted from a friend) on a branch,
and then added some mini trees and a cloche to the arrangement, along with some candles.
This is probably one of my favorite spaces in the house!

I love the mini white church and house that I found at the Embellish Christmas sale!
Aren't they the cutest?!

I hadn't found any Advent calendars that I liked, but wanted something visual for the children to count down the days until Christmas, so I was happy to find these printable tags online! 

Just don't ask me how many times they have fallen down! 😏
I may need to come up with a more stable solution for next year. (See what I did there? Stable?! haha.)

This is Mom's corner: aka my personal hot chocolate bar.
And yes, salted caramel can take that drink to a whole new level!
You're welcome.

Who doesn't love a crackling fire?

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care...
but there's only room for two of them there!
Okay, I'll stop with the cheesy rhymes!

The wall seemed bare so I used some embroidery hoops to create a few simple wreaths.
Maybe they still need some ribbon, but I like the simplicity of the evergreen.

Target has some of the cutest ornaments!
I found this one on clearance after Christmas last year.
Rather than use just one style of ornaments, I like to collect a variety over time from different places.

After last year's tree issues (in which the tree shed half its needles before we even made it to Christmas 😞), I'm happy to report that this tree has been good to us!
Is there anything better than the glow of twinkly lights at night?

I wish I could invite you all over for a pot of hot tea (or coffee!), 
but I sure am glad you joined me on our Christmas home tour!

May your Christmas season be a time of rest
and your heart full of joy in the Gift of our Saviour.