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a little more

  Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up 

Don’t you ever grow up, just stay this little

Oh darling, don’t you ever grow up

               Don’t you ever grow up, it could stay this simple – t swift

There’s probably some unwritten rule that if you start a blog post with Taylor Swift lyrics people won’t take you seriously, but Taylor rules so whatever.

A close friend of mine was talking to me about something related to parenting recently and then said, “you’ll have to be honest with me, when the time comes.”

The weight of that statement hit me for a good minute.

There are a lot of cliche statements thrown about when people are expecting a new life to enter their home and it’s the easier route to take, honestly… to say something pleasant and well-intentioned can almost make you feel good and like you’ve done your friend a service by not letting them in on the raw and the real. I’ve never been able to function like that, though, and so I’d like to offer up a gentle, honest, reflective look at those first months. For anyone whose “time [has] come” and needs “[me] to be honest with [them].”

There is something about parenting, and specifically motherhood, that makes the heavy parts of raising children enigmatic unless you actually are or have been in that season of life. I think for that reason alone, we fill our conversations with these blanket statments about the moments of motherhood but, while well-intentioned, some people need a little more to grasp onto in those trying times, and so this is my offering of ‘a little more‘ to: you; love: me

Like the first time you hear that hope inducing but frustrating phrase “They’ll sleep through the night eventually!”

but what i’d really want to say is they’ll sleep through the night eventually but it’s hard, i hope you find rest in any avenue you can. i wish i could come hold your baby while you sleep – you’re tired, i get it. i really do. i know your best friends baby sleeps through the night, i know your grandmas cousin told you that you’re checking on that baby too much, i know your neighbor said you need to cater to every cry, every time. i know with all these conflicting pieces of advice you feel frustrated and like a failure and might be ready to punch a wall. i know you may have even googled ‘can you give a baby Benadryl  fyi: you can’t, sorry :/ but it’s okay that the thought crossed your mind. don’t feel awful. i hope your baby starts sleeping well soon, i also know your baby might not sleep, and so that is why i am having a hard time navigating this conversation because my first born actually didn’t sleep through the night until after a year old. and i know, your baby is 2 months, and you can’t fathom 10 more months of this. and i could tell you attachment parenting is good, and your baby will benefit from you snuggling them the moment they begin crying and i could tell you attachment parenting is stupid because that baby can cry for a little bit and will be just fine. but either of those things comes with the notion that what you’re currently doing is ‘less than’ but you aren’t less, you aren’t alone, and you feel like you might not survive one more night of constant waking but you can get through it, and you will. and you’ll do it with grace, and tears, and you’ll be somewhere in-between going mad and falling in love all at the same time. and i’ll silently rejoice that day you tell me that your little one actually *did* sleep through the night, and i’ll pray that one of those days that she starts sleeping through the night that you can too 😉

Or when you’re struggling to nurse your baby and someone says “Breastfeeding or bottle feeding is just fine, do what’s right for you!”

what a hot topic, it’s really easier if i don’t get involved but maybe you want me to give you my thoughts and you don’t know how to ask, so what i want you to know breastfeeding or bottle feeding is just fine, do what’s right for you but let me tell you… breastfeeding was so hard for me initially. it literally felt like my baby had broken glass in her mouth as she assaulted me for food every 1.5 hours for the indefinite future. and i cried. and i wanted to quit. and some people didn’t support me when i needed it – and some people did. and some told me ‘why don’t you just quit’ and when i didn’t quit someone said ‘isn’t she too old for that’ and ‘give yourself a break and give that baby some formula’ but i pushed through because it was important to me and then suddenly, the difficult hours of glass-mouth-painful-nursing transformed to unexpected-bliss-bonding with the sweetest creature i had the privilege of carrying and now getting to know, as we grew and bonded, we worked it out and then i happily nursed my baby for 18 months of her precious life, and i want you to know if you need someone to coach you through the hard days – that’s me. i’m here. but can i also take a moment and say breastfeeding or bottle feeding is just fine, do what’s right for you but… breastfeeding was so hard for some of my best friends initially, and they chose to bottle feed, and people didn’t support them when they needed it. people would say ‘don’t you want to give your baby what’s best?’ or ‘formula is so expensive’ but giving their baby their best didn’t look the same as my best and doesn’t look the same as your best – and they pushed through and they happily bottle fed their baby and that baby thrived and grew and was happy and healthy. and so if you need me to coach you through the sometimes guilt that comes with that decision, that’s me, i’m here.

Or when you for the first time walk into a room somewhat put together after having your baby and someone says “You look great!”

the truth is you look greati know you haven’t washed your hair in 3 days. maybe 4. and that’s okay. i know your body feels squishy and like it’s gone to war. i know you look in the mirror and sometimes don’t recognize the person looking back at you. i know you feel insecure when you get together with your friends because they are in the latest fashion styles and you’re in your yoga pants. again. i know you feel the stress of fueling your body for breastfeeding or finding three minutes of the day to take even a small walk up and down the driveway. but you are beautiful, and not because you have your look pulled together, but because you’re laying down your vanities and comforts for the well being of your baby and there is nothing that brings out beauty in people like serving the most helpless of creatures…

Or when you’re at your first lunch with a friend and your baby is crying and through his cries you swear you hear your friend say “You’re doing a great job!”

it can sound condescending almost, at least through the ears of post-pregnancy-hormones, or like theres a little judgment “oh look at you, your baby is screaming, this is awkward, how about i just tell you you’re doing a great job because what else is helpful?” can I be honest you actually are doing a great job, I see that you feel unsure as you soothingly try to bounce that baby who is crying for the first time in a very public setting, and i know you’re embarrassed – and i know there’s nothing you can do – but you don’t have to be embarrassed, that hyper awareness you have of your baby means you’re in tune with their needs and i’ve been in your shoes, i won’t say ‘wow that baby must be hungry’ or ‘somebody isn’t happy!’ or ‘awe it must be nap time’ because none of those things are helpful, and while one or 3 of them may be true, they are actually all annoying. so you just keep bouncing that baby and i’ll just keep carrying on conversation with you, i’m not ignoring your baby, i’m not ignoring your stressful moment, i’m aware you know what is best for that baby and i will let you do your thing in hopes of helping you feel like you’re not alone, and you’re doing a great job.

There are countless other cliche phrases I could break down but I’ll stop there for now. New moms house such a sweet place in my heart, I’m thinking about you in these tough months, you’ve got this. You’re doing a great job. ❤

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Rinaldi Recap

The holidays seem to fly by faster each year, so I just wanted to document a little bit of what life has been like lately and what the kids are like at this stage of their lives.

We decorated our tree and I think this was the first year Brooklyn really got into it. Last year she was excited about the tree itself but wasn’t really into placing ornaments. I love seeing her involved in a  process instead of just observing or wanting to facilitate (which is her normal default). She dove right in to placing ornaments and loves to look at them everyday. Her favorite ornaments this year are our Linus from the Peanuts and a star that she made last year as a Christmas craft. Brooklyn continues to amaze me with the amount of information she retains.

Her attention to detail is something else, she could probably tell you what she had for lunch 7 weeks and 3 days ago and I am lucky to remember where I put my contact case this morning. She’s been able to put those memory skills to the test throughout this fall at Awana. This is the first time our church has had this program and we as parents and as participating leaders have had nothing but a great (and sometimes tiring 😉 ) experience so far. Brooklyn loves her teachers (sometimes she likes to act like the teacher 😀 whoops) and is developing a genuine love for God, the Bible, and the Church. I’m thankful for this program and the way that it encourages parents to get involved with their children’s spiritual lives.

Aside from Awana, Brooklyn is really interested in books, letters, drawing/writing, and pretending. She sometimes phases in and out of different characters she is imagining herself to be, I have to stay attentive or else I’m all the sudden calling her Elsa when she’s changed to Flo the Dog. “Princesses don’t bark, Mom.” Her favorite story right now is Jonah. Favorite book is new this week, Amelia Bedelia – though she hides her face every time Amelia Bedelia messes something up. Favorite show is Wild Kratts. Favorite food is greek yogurt. Favorite person is her dad. IMG_9215   Timothy is all about that eating life. Really if you see him and he isn’t eating, then we must be coming into a building or about to leave one. He eats ALL. THE. TIME. I have to make sure I always have food handy. Though he eats all the time he is still a little dude, he stays in the 3-5% of the weight chart for growth. He’s happy and healthy so we’re okay with that. His favorite foods are: anything. No, but really – apples, crackers, chili, string cheese, pasta, pizza, cooked carrots, cooked broccoli. He sleeps like a dream, from about 6pm – 7am and naps twice a day. Give or take half an hour either way. He’s generally happy, he likes having me nearby though. He isn’t walking for us at home, though it’s rumored he has taken several steps at Sunday School and Awana. He will walk all day around furniture but the moment he is standing alone he just plops down. I look forward to him walking and running but I’m enjoying him being the baby for a little bit longer. He says lots of words these days that I can decipher, though if you aren’t me it probably sounds like a bunch of baby blabber. His favorite words are “No”, “Thank You”, “Uh oh”, “Daddy”, and “More”. IMG_9237   The kids are starting to play together, which is a dream come true. Brooklyn loves to hold Timothy, and would carry him around if she could handle his weight, haha. This is a picture of the two of them at one of Brooklyn’s little friends birthday parties. She loves to mother people, she will be a great mom one day. He is content to let her hold him most of the time. IMG_9509   While Timothy is all about Momma, Brooklyn remains a daddy’s girl. Brooklyn is sad most mornings when Joseph heads to work and talks about him frequently throughout the day. She loves to call his work line and leave a message and she loves to wait by the door and “hide” when he gets home. She asks for him to put her to bed most nights, and if we are ever driving separate somewhere she will 9 times out of 10 pick daddy’s car to ride in, I hear the music is better. They are so similar and I love that. I see her do things a certain way, or say things a certain way and think: wow, you are just like your dad. It’ sweet…and sometimes terrifying, ha!

This is a particularly busy season for Joseph at work, and we were blessed the other day with an unexpected lull in the office so he got to come scoop Brooklyn up from home and take her on a daddy/daughter play date with one of Joseph’s best buddies, Jamison, and his daughter, Selah. Pizza + singing Christmas bears + Discovery Place. They had a blast.  IMG_9765   We’ve had several playdates recently and it’s been nice to catch up with some other Moms.

Brooklyn got to hang with Selah earlier in the month when we crashed their house and we had a wonderful time visiting. Selah’s mom not only has Selah but also twin boys, a superwoman, for sure.

One of my best friends had her first son back in September and though she is sleep deprived she is doing awesome with the whole thing and it’s been neat to grow the mom bond through an already existing friend bond. Most of my mom friends are the other way around, we’ve gotten to know each other more through the process of having kids, so it’s been such a treat to go through the motherhood thing with such a long time friend. In the past two weeks alone we’ve had playdates with two different moms in the Sunday School class I am in. When we first started we were one of two couples with kids, and now several others have either joined or started families and it’s just been great.

All these moments spent with other moms have been really sweet, each of them is my type of girl. Down to earth, engaged with their children, loving the Lord, and humble. Our generation seems to be super obsessed with perfect houses, kids, crafts, clothes, and really just lives in general. I can’t handle that kind of pressure, though to be honest sometimes it is hard not to get sucked in, as I grow as a person and as a Mom I find myself giving myself grace to be who I am instead of who I feel pressured to be. I know this is a struggle for almost every woman, because once you admit it to one you are more than likely to hear “me too!” right back. I try to maintain a neat home and have fun with my kids but give me a pb&j and conversation inside a somewhat cluttered living area with a hoodie and jeans on any day of the week over a locally sourced brunch with martha stewarts lastest floral arrangement adorning your all white kitchen without a crumb in sight while you’re in heels and pearls. I kid, kind of. Buy local, have clean homes, do cool stuff with your kids, but don’t be a brat about it. Also I love all white kitchens.

Joseph and I are coming up on 5 years of marriage which means we are about to start trying to have kids…….. except that we already have two and your plans never turn out the way you plan them.

We’re loving our house we moved into. We have been able to host several get togethers and that makes me feel all merry and bright inside. When we moved, we moved for a few reasons, but when we decided to buy a home that was larger than our previous home we wanted to make sure we were intentional about using the space we have to live life with others. I look forward to the other opportunities we’ll have to be a place where people can gather and enjoy each others company. 2015 doesn’t have much on the horizon for us yet. It’s always exciting to enter a new year with not much in store because it leaves room for a lot of possibilities.

If we don’t see you over the coming weeks, Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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Brooklyn loves to figure things out. She is constantly asking questions.

Every time we listen to music she wants to know “what is this song about?”

We always listen to “Christian” music (in quotes because…can music be saved? no…lol) in my car. So, generally the songs are about God.

Typically our conversation starts like this:

B: Mommy, what’s this song about?

Me: God

B: But it doesn’t say God

She’s usually right, because she knows almost all of the songs on the radio by heart, she knows which ones actually say the word God in them.

After she says that I try to find a way to explain how the song can still be about God without actually saying God. Ya know, like, God can be talked about in terms of “He” just like Brooklyn is a “she”, or Brooklyn is a daughter and God is a father. We’ll talk about specific attributes of God that are mentioned in the song that give us a clue this song is about God because the bible tells us these attributes are part of who God is…etc.

So, just as some songs don’t say God but are about God, that’s a way we can think about the way we interact with people and how to discern others interactions with us. We can’t fault those that haven’t been truly changed by Christ for not acting like Christ, but we can respond to them and our response should be Christ filled.

So these music conversations have given us a chance to talk about the way we handle friendships in this house too. She’s not unaware of the idea of being included and the idea of being left out (even at 3 years old, so sad). She’s caught on to other people not treating people (her) the way that she’s encouraged to treat people. I try to remind her that not everyone knows that God loves them and everyone struggles with sin and if we don’t take care of the sin in our heart it is very hard to be about God. Just like any song can say the word God, we have to look at the song as a whole to figure out what it’s actually about…it is the same with humans.

We can say anything with our lips but our actions are the reflection of our heart.

Explaining this to a three year old is time consuming, challenging, but so precious at the same time. Her curious mind really ministers to my heart more than she will ever know. She is not quite aware that some of the things she’s just now being introduced to in regards to human interaction are potentially lifelong struggles for women, and definitely a personal struggle of mine. I feel the gentleness of God working on my heart through the curious mind of my child, and it is incredible to become aware of the intimate ways God speaks to me. My deepest love on this earth is for my husband, but my most convicting love on this earth is for my children. By that I mean, Joseph is a believer and so his spiritual life is not my responsibility but as Brooklyn and Timothy’s parents, Joseph and I both feel a strong sense of responsibility to teach them who God is and what He is about, and since I am home with them a majority of the time, I really feel a conviction about teaching them these things as early as I see they are ready in a way that makes sense to them at the time. So, when I am taking opportunities to share some truth with Brooklyn, it really comes full circle when God teaches me through me teaching Brooklyn.

Someone may not have to quote scripture or profess Christ to you for you to know they are about God. Though this doesn’t happen in music often, the inverse of this can be true too, and it’s a harsh truth: sometimes those who say so much about God are not about God. They are about themselves.

We’ve all probably grown up with the phrase “actions speak louder than words”.

The bible’s take on this:

Matthew 7:17-18

“So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.”

So, although with your lips you may say the things of God, what are you doing with your actions in your life? Are you being loving? Inclusive? Are you a servant? Do you seek out what benefits you or others? Are you humble? Are you kind? Do you seek to be good to all or just some?

The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

These fruits aren’t just for those in your ‘inner circle’, if you find you only can excercise these fruits to certain people on your “approved” list, it might be time for a heart check.

This is something I have to do often for myself.

It’s hard being around people who “say God”, as Brooklyn would say, but aren’t about God. When in those situations, and you’ve heart checked your own self, rest in the fact that though you may not be ‘enough’ to some, you are so enough to God.

Haven’t left a little song for you lately, so here is the initial song that brought about this whole convo… it doesn’t say God 😉 but it says you are enough, God’s greater than any greatness you could ever want or need.

MercyMe- Greater

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Joseph and I sort of make it our goal to annoy everyone with our parenting.

Not really.

🙂 But around the holidays it may seem like it is that way because we’re all “down with the commercialism of Christian holidays!!!!! Say no to Santa! Ease off the Easter Bunny! ”

But you know, those things are for you and your family to figure out, so I’m pretty much unapologetic for talking about what my family is up to. Since it is my family.

Guys, my kids are gonna hunt ‘Easter eggs’ on Sunday, or Brooklyn will and Timothy will eat them. We’re cool with fun, just also want to keep it about Jesus first then fun second.

So, in an attempt to share with Brooklyn in a visual way about what Easter is truly about before she goes all egg crazy this weekend, I decided I wanted to think up a meal that might help to explain Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

If you’re on facebook you’ve probably seen these ‘Resurrection Rolls’, I’ve been wanting to make them with B but I wanted to start earlier in the biblical account than just the burial…so I thought up this meal. Some of the items you’ll need to use your imagination with, but the general story should still come across.

I tried to use practical, somewhat healthy foods. Brooklyn is a picky eater, but maybe she will at least try some of these things.

If you want to try this with your family, I suggest reading along in the Jesus Storybook Bible and pair that with a ‘adult’ version of scripture, we’re using an ESV study bible. The children’s bible will help your kids visualize through pictures, but don’t feel like you can’t read them a ‘grown up’ Bible. Let them learn, and let them ask questions if they don’t understand.

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Slice some zucchini – talk about how Jesus was betrayed by Judas, read the account of how Judas  betrayed Jesus for money {zuccchini – green -representing money Judas accepted in exchange for selling Jesus out… if you want to let me know of a silver vegetable to be more in line with scripture, I’m all ears 😉 ) Season and cook the zucchini to your taste.

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Chicken is our main dish, but before we get to that, we’ve made a sauce to baste the chicken in. Prepare in a dish any sauce you want, we are using BBQ sauce. It is deep red and has a saltiness to it. This represents Jesus’ sweat turning into blood as he prayed in the garden.

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Take some fresh (or frozen, thawed) chicken. Read the account of Jesus’ body being beaten. Pound out the chicken (let your kid help too!). I would say it’s important to not make this part seem like fun given the reason you’re tenderizing the meat in this way… although it is sort of inevitable that your kid will probably enjoy being given permission to beat on something. Given the stage of maturity of my little girl, I won’t restrict her from enjoying this but I would not initiate that mood, I’ll let her initiate it, and as she gets older I can see this leading to conversations about what Jesus’ beating was really like (not fun or enjoyable).

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Baste your chicken and cook it until it’s done. You’re capable of figuring out the type of cut and how long that’s gonna take, I believe in you.

While your chicken is cooking, prepare the side dishes for your meal. This is where things get ‘toddler approved’. As my children grow and their palates (hopefully) mature, we’ll change the sides here and there to something more grown up. For now, you’re gonna feel like you just entered snack-time at a 3 year olds play-date.

Read about how Jesus was mocked. Talk about the crown of thorns and how it was made out of sticks. Use veggie sticks (or anything else crunchy) to represent the sticks that made the crown of thorns.

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Jesus was also offered sour wine as he was being tortured. Prepare some grapes for your dinner plate. Please don’t give your toddler wine. 😉

 

 

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As you transition from such a hard to read story about our Savior being mocked, here is where you have a real opportunity to brag on Jesus. Throw in the details of what you’re doing on Easter weekend, and tell them that Jesus is sweeter than any candy they will eat and cooler than any bunny they will meet. Let them understand how much of a hero Jesus is and how precious his sacrifice was and still is to each and every one of us. Remind your kids of when he was praying so hard in the garden, that he gave himself up to God the Father’s plan, he knew he would be beaten, he knew he would be mocked, and he did this all for us to be saved from hell, where the pain and torture is eternal, never ending.

Talk about hell and how it is a place where death would win, where after we die we would be consumed in a forever burning.

Talk about how this selfless act from Jesus changed our very outlook on death. He has made earthly death sweet for those of us who choose to follow him.

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What once destined us to a fiery eternal misery, now has been redeemed to the sweetest of all gifts. Use sweet peppers to draw this parallel. Peppers are used in dishes to spice things up, they create a fiery burn in your mouth, sweet peppers are encased by what to the eye looks like will light your world on fire but it actually tastes of sweetness.

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When your chicken is finished, assemble your plate and reiterate what each thing represents.

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Everyone knows the meal is just an avenue to dessert, and Friday is just a precursor to the main event: SUNDAY IS COMING, and so is dessert . On to the good stuff (and the greatest part of the story)!

Remember my link to Resurrection Rolls? Here is what you need:

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Take the marshmallow and talk about how it is white and blameless, just as Jesus was, which is why his sacrifice was the only one that could save.

Dip the marshmallow in melted butter and roll in cinnamon and sugar to represent the burial spices used on Jesus. Arrange on a cookie sheet and follow baking directions on crescent roll package (or click link to read more).

Open your (preheated) oven tomb.

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Place the representation of Jesus body into to oven and close the oven. Tomb. You get the idea.

As you are waiting for your dessert to bake, read about those who came to the tomb and saw that it was empty!

 

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When your rolls are ready, check for “Jesus’ body”, is it in there?

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Hope you enjoyed learning about our meal and thanks for letting me share a new tradition!

Happy Easter, friends, He is RISEN!

 

*adding this pic just because it’s so cute*

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I’ve had some really awesome moments recently with people who do not have kids or people who have grown kids.

Sometimes when you’re the one with 2 littles it can get pretty frustrating trying to keep up a social life while guarding your children while maintaining your sanity AKA I don’t have a lot of time but when I do create time I want to make sure I’m spending it with people who 1) I want to be around 2) Respect the way we raise our kids 3) Won’t add stress to my life but provide refreshment to my day.

So, since I’ve had some really awesome run-ins with this type of thing lately, I thought I would formulate a list of ways people without kids (or without little kids… maybe you have kids that are grown and are a little removed from baby days) can help out those of us with tots when you’re wanting to hang out.

I figure this is a good time to write this post, since I can talk about the negatives by focusing on the positive experiences I’ve ran into lately. The other way around would be me complaining about people who don’t abide by these rules and drive me nuts. SO, 🙂 here ya go…

1) Offer us grace when planning to hang out –

You may text or call me on Wednesday and want to hang out Friday, but I may not respond to you in the same time frame I used to before kids. There is a small  big chance that one of my kids is crying or on the potty or needs me in some real way, so if I don’t get back to you for a few hours, or *gasp* a few days – please don’t answer the phone and berate me about not talking to me in awhile or ask me why I haven’t come to see you… be like my friend Christa and say “It’s nice to hear from you!” or “How have you been?” you can *totally* skip the part where you address the fact that I haven’t called you back. Parents of little ones try to keep up to date on the social scene but sometimes it’s delayed, give us grace in those moments. If I don’t call you back until Saturday, 😦 I’m sorry I missed hanging out with you Friday, but I’m not intentionally putting off hanging out with you.

2) Come to my house –

If I have the option of putting the baby down in his crib and having access to the toddlers snacks and toys at my house, it’s really awesome if we can hang out at my house. You can even invite yourself over. It’s actually really awesome when you realize that is what I need. Nap times and bed times are real, it’s best for my sanity and the kids well-being if we stick to somewhat of a schedule, don’t make fun of these things. Seriously, you can invite yourself over- be like our friends Paul and Katie …tell us you want to hang out, and then casually mention if it’s easier for us then you will come to our house – we will say “sure!” and quietly do a happy dance that we can keep up a normal schedule. Also bonus points for this, if we have company that means my house has to be somewhat presentable, so props for keeping me accountable on housekeeping.

3) If you want me out of the house, give notice –

Ok maybe on the last one you are thinking “you really should get out of the house sometime.” Yes, I agree. That’s why you need to plan in advance. If you know restaurant week is coming up and you want the Rinaldi’s to join, be like my friend Whitney and give me the date of the reservation you already made, 3 weeks before the date arrives. That way I have enough time to figure out the plan for the kids. 24 hours notice is kind of lame/impossible if you’re wanting a no-kids evening.

4) Interact with my kids-

Maybe you don’t like kids (I guess we are done being friends at this point in life if that’s the case though, we’re sort of a packaged deal for the next errr forever). Maybe you do like kids but you really do want to have adult conversation. That’s great. I like not talking about princesses and play-doh, too. I actually love it and need it. In order for that to happen – let’s give the little girl some conversation first. If you follow step 2 and come over to my house, and it isn’t nap time, then you should embrace step 4 like my friend Natalie. Are you a nurse? She is. If you’re a nurse, bring over your stethoscope so my little girl can play with it. Not a nurse? Not a problem. Do you know anything about the sky being blue, why fuzz isn’t an animal, if the snowman melting across the street looks like a chicken, or have you ever eaten sprinkles? These are all talking points Brooklyn might want to cover, give her a little attention and she’ll casually lose interest in you like all toddlers do and when she heads off to the playroom to give her stuffed dog a check-up because he has a case of no-wag-a-tail-itis then you and I can talk about things other than veggies tales and juice cups.

5)  Don’t teach my kids bad habits-

If you see we’re working hard on getting Brooklyn to use her manners, it’s ok for you to join in the loving encouragement. If a child’s parents are instilling manners and they try to take something from you, it’s okay to sweetly ask them to use manners (well, here I speak for my kids, maybe other parents aren’t comfortable with this?). If you have an opportunity to acknowledge my parenting skills and encourage them while I am around, do you know how much that blesses me and makes me feel like everything Joseph and I do isn’t for naught? If Brooklyn snatches something out of your hand, be like my Sunday School teacher Julie. We were at a Super Bowl party and Brooklyn took a toy out of Julie’s hand (Julie was interacting with Brooklyn while I was eating some dessert), Julie has kids who are more grown than Brooklyn so she’s been down this road before (and her and her husband are great parents). Instead of just letting Brooklyn snatch the toy, she said sweetly and lovingly “can you ask with your manners instead of just taking it?”…I could have hugged her but like I said I was eating dessert. Simple as that, Brooklyn asked, and I felt validated in my parenting style. One of the most harmful things you can do to the parent/child relationship is undermine the parent in front of the child, if I ask her to call you ma’am, don’t say that’s not necessary…if I ask her to use her manners, give her an opportunity to do so… if you want to ask her to use her manners – well then that saves me a step and I can get back to my dessert. 🙂

I’m thankful for people in my life that maybe haven’t been where I am right now or maybe were there awhile ago but find it in themselves to help keep things peaceful and enjoyable and respect the way Joseph and I parent.

If you are friends with people who have little kids, be mindful of these things – it really makes us (ME) feel so great. To those of you who are aware of these things, keep it up, you’re a blessing.

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I’ve been dairy-free for about 3 months.

My son has an allergy to milk protein and in order to continue nursing him I had to eliminate all sources of this milk protein in my diet.

It was a little difficult at first to figure out what I could have, it’s in everything. But, it’s necessary for my son to live a healthy life and be a happy {not screaming all day} baby. So, it is what it is.

If I know I’m going somewhere where  there will be food I most likely can’t have, I don’t go with the expectation to be fed. I feed myself before hand and if there is anything to nibble on while I’m there, it’s an exciting treat.

This is now routine for me, and I usually run into these situations once a week or at least a couple times a month. Just this morning I joined a bible study at my church, there was a delicious looking breakfast spread – lots of women telling me to go try this or that- but I knew I could have the fruit and so I stuck to that.

When I’m out at an event with friends or church people, sometimes someone will ask if I am dieting and I’ll just give my little quick explanation which is more often than not met with words of sympathy.

It’s sweet of people to offer a sweet “aw, I’m sorry about that” or “that must be hard!”

But, because I know the benefit to my son since I have made these changes and choices, I’ve taken ownership of it and plan accordingly.

I don’t expect other people to know about or adhere to my modified lifestyle.

I don’t expect people to know what is considered in the best interest of my son.

I am responsible for my son so I have to make the choice in my diet and be consistent with it if I want to see the full potential of his health.

I’m responsible for both of my children, in many ways.

One of our biggest responsibilities for Brooklyn right now is to steer her towards the direction of a life pleasing to the Lord. Just as I can’t expect everywhere I go to understand the dietary choices I make for Timothy, I can’t expect everywhere Brooklyn goes to understand the direction we desire for her life to steer towards.

I have to take ownership of my responsibility to raise Brooklyn, I can’t place that responsibility on a children’s ministry, YMCA classroom, or play dates with friends.

Not everyone can be aware of the way in which you want to raise your children, so you have to make a choice and be consistent in it if you want to see the full potential of their ability.

I don’t fully understand parenting, but since becoming a parent I have had my eyes open up to several things. One of the main things I have learned is that parenting in a way that is easiest to me now, may make life harder on Brooklyn later.

We live in a culture that is very “me” focused, and with a toddler who is pitching a fit in the middle of the grocery store because she wants a cookie, it’s tempting to let the “me” inside of her get her way. But, what does that reinforce in the long run?

Joseph and I have a conviction to lead our children down a road different from the typical childhood life.

Our kids lives are full of fun and exciting things but they are also full of an honest awareness of our sin nature.

The culture around us has been telling us for years that children are defiant, tantrums are normal, and “good luck when you get to the terrible twos”. The advice you are often given from the world is to basically do the best you can and these days will pass, they are only little once.

We’ve seen Brooklyn’s behavior shift, no doubt. But, this mentality that you just kind of wait for it to pass and “that’s the norm” sort of gives parents a pass to be lazy with their children, to not challenge them to rise above these new troubling emotions they face that send them in a tizzy.

These tiny beings are now aware of toys that are “theirs”, food they don’t “like”, and responsibilities they “can’t do”.

If someone takes a toy from Brooklyn, her first response, like most children, is usually “that’s mine!” A typical response to that type of behavior is to explain “well it is your toy, but we need to share it with others”, our response is to try and push through even further than that “toys are a privilege, and it isn’t ‘yours’, we are blessed to have access to it though, it’s not kind of you to take ownership of a blessing and not share it with others.”

When Brooklyn doesn’t want to finish her food, and she isn’t doing it out of fullness but because she wants to have something else (example: she’s eating a sandwich but halfway through the sandwich she decides she would rather have apples and peanut butter), we explain that “hungry people eat what is in front of them”, if she is truly hungry she will learn to eat what is on the table. Now, of course I’m not going to starve my child, I allow her as long as she wants at the table to decide that she is going to eat the food set before her for a meal, I don’t just say “you eat this or you get down” because I know she is hungry, but I’m not just going to say “oh well, sure here you can have this and throw that away”, if she doesn’t want to finish her sandwich then she knows it goes in a ziplock bag and it is the first thing offered to her at the next meal. 98% of the time, she finishes the sandwich, because she is hungry and well… hungry people eat what is in front of them. It’s a privilege to have food, let alone choose the food you want, and we want her to understand there are people countries away and on the streets in downtown charlotte who don’t have the opportunity to get ‘bored’ with a sandwich and ask for something else, so we try and establish a mindset that no matter what we are eating, let’s not take it for granted.

If Brooklyn says she “can’t” clean her playroom and needs me to do it, I will help her by pointing out specific toys and then reminding her of her capabilities “remember you go that out of your toy chest? I bet you can put it back in!”, it’s encouraging but it’s honest, it reminds her: you have the ability to do this, so let’s make the choice to use that ability.

In all of these situations, these are choices we have had to make about the way we will raise our children in the home, because we know we can’t always control what is outside of the home: I don’t know if her sunday school teacher makes sure she uses manners, but we enforce it at home in hopes that it follows her to sunday school, I don’t always see if she is cleaning up her mess with toys at the YMCA but we clean up at home so that when she is in the situation outside of the home it isn’t unfamiliar to her, I’m at all of her playdates now, but there will be a day where she maybe plays at a friends house and I’m not there to remind her that toys are a privilege and we need to share the things we are blessed with so we have to talk about these things first at home. We have to set up this behavior at home, so that when we go into uncharted waters, she is better equipped to share, to be grateful for what is in front of her, and to know her ability (in regards to more than just cleaning up a playroom).

Kids, while not always understanding of these adult sentences, not watered down with baby talk, are still human beings. They will learn and grow at the rate in which we set out for them. It may be more of a challenge as a parent to sit at the table for 30 minutes for them to finish a sandwich, and you may not have the time to do that, I get that – but I challenge you to push yourself to give the exact amount of energy and time you have available for your kids, to your kids.

It may be easier to say “well we need to share this toy” and leave it at that.

It may be easier to just give them something they will eat instead of working with them to eat what you’ve already prepared for them.

It may be easier to clean up the playroom yourself in 5 minutes than wait 20 more minutes for them to slowly pick it up.

But in the long run, giving your child a chance to grow in maturity can bless both of you. It will bless them because as they grow, they will see you as an authority, which means they will know you are a person in their life who can give guidance (whether they come to you or not in times they need guidance is another blog post in and of itself, but this at least sets the tone and puts the idea in their mind of your role) and they will learn that you are willing to set aside time to engage with them which truly can be priceless to a child. It will bless you, maybe you won’t see the results of the blessing until a few years down the road, but when you get the ball rolling early on manners and politeness and selflessness and gratitude, you are already helping to detoxify the “me first” thoughts that the world tells us we should have at the forefront of our minds.

We live in a culture that doesn’t put much weight into the lives and ability of children, after all – have you seen the abortion rates? It reinforces the “me first”. Not convenient for you to have a child? You first, so have an abortion.

Our culture also doesn’t value you until you can “contribute something” to this world. You’re having a baby who they can tell in the womb will have a disability and won’t live a life that society feels will be much of anything? Go ahead and abort that baby, you’re doing ‘him/her’ a favor.

Our culture doesn’t see the potential and value in children, but the Lord did.

Joseph and I know that Jesus referenced children in the scriptures and even made a example through them of how we are to approach him – like children – with nothing to offer, but everything to learn. Having a child-like faith means you won’t always understand things, you won’t always do it the right way, you may even throw a tantrum or five when asked to do something difficult – but God gives us the opportunity, because He knows what He can accomplish through willingness and meekness.

Learning to look at your children the way that God looks at us, as beings who have nothing to offer but that are loved so dearly and have the potential to change the world with a lot of love and a healthy guidance, it really can be the sweetest thing you’ve ever learned.

I’m so proud of Brooklyn’s potential as a human being, she is such a joy in our lives and though I will not get everything, or even half of everything right when it comes to parenting, I’m thankful for the opportunity to steer that potential into a meaningful direction.

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The transition from one to two kids has grown me in ways I wasn’t expecting.

I write this post with complete vulnerability knowing that it could open up judgement or misunderstanding or (if you don’t read to the end) could cause you to feel as if I am ungrateful for my blessings. I pray that if you read this blog you understand its intentions and offer me grace as I extend part of my personal life to you.

I write this post because what I experienced was real, and not often talked about, and I want to be a voice for so many new parents I know who may come across the same feelings.

I write this post to share a story of depression that transformed into deliverance which has brought me such peace.

As I sit here today, I am so full of joy.

But it wasn’t always this way…

The past two and a half months have been an ebb and flow of emotions and I feel like they have settled into that sweet spot that eventually comes for parents. It’s a balance between loving where you are at, excited for what is ahead, and appreciative for what is behind.

When Brooklyn came into this world, I was nauseatingly in love with her. I couldn’t get enough of every moment with her – despite the fact that she was a terrible sleeper- I couldn’t make myself break away from her to sleep when she rested, I would just watch her sleep with the biggest smile on my face. I created some serious attachment issues on my end (thankfully she was resilient and really never hesitated to leave my side to go to a family member or friends arms). Her pregnancy was a complete surprise for us, I grew to be so protective of this being inside of me that I had trouble letting her out of my grasp when she finally made her entrance into this world.

As I passed through my pregnancy with Timothy I anticipated those same enamoring feelings to overtake me after he was born. I expected to never want to leave his side. I expected to want to watch his every move, awake or asleep. I expected to annoy everyone with how much I loved him!

But a few weeks after Timothy was born I became overcame with sadness. I cried and cried, and sometimes I didn’t even know why I was crying but the tears would fall none-the-less. I loved Timothy with a fierce, protective, motherly love but I didn’t feel the fluffy and warm love I felt with Brooklyn. Which confused me and frustrated me beyond belief.

Talking with Joseph, my mom, my sister…the same conversations…

“I feel so crazy…”

“I wish he would stop crying, I wish he would let someone, anyone, besides me hold him…just for five minutes!”

“Sometimes I know I love him but I feel like I can’t make myself like him”.

These are really scary things to think as a mother. These thoughts, they make you feel horrible. As I was adjusting to all that comes with a newborn and all that comes with a newborn while already having a toddler, I tucked the thoughts away but I knew they weren’t ‘normal’.

I tried so hard to bond with him. I held him so often, I told him how much I loved him, I told him how sorry I was that I was having these thoughts, I prayed over him, I prayed for myself, I rocked him when I didn’t feel like rocking him, I asked the Lord to quiet my mind and make loud the feelings of my heart.

Your heart as a mother is so much different than your mind as a mother.

I knew that my heart had such a deep love for him but my mind wouldn’t let it come to the surface. That’s the thing about depression – which I believe is straight from the devil – it shields your heart, it silences what is real and replaces it with noise of what is false.

False thoughts that I couldn’t like my son, false thoughts that I was a bad mother, false thoughts that I was responsible for feeling these things, false thoughts that it may always be this way.

I eventually talked to my doctor about how I was feeling, I broke down in tears while I was talking to her telling her how guilty I felt and that I had no idea how to fix it but I wanted to feel better.

Of course I had heard of post-partum depression, but never really considered it to be something that I was dealing with. That is the thing about lies the devil will try to get you to believe, you have all the evidence but can’t put it together so that it makes sense.

We talked over different ways to combat post-partum depression, we talked about the fact that this wasn’t my fault- I hadn’t set myself up for this in one way or another, it was just simply something that strikes certain people and stays away from others.

Whether you are for or against medicine, whether you are for or against counseling, whether you are for or against changing lifestyle habits …if you pass through feelings like this as a parent: be vocal with your family and doctor, be assured that this is not your fault, be hopeful that you will not always feel this way.

After I further understood what I was going through, I knew that God would lead me through these uncertain times just as soon as I was ready to give up trying to fix these feelings instead of living through them in appreciation for how they would stretch my relationship with the Lord.

The world offers a diagnosis to you and tells you “here is how to get your problem to go away”.

We live in a society that constantly feeds us crap that life is always supposed to reward us in some way.

As a Believer, if I looked at my depression the way that the world wants me to, I could feel very sorry for myself. I could feel like the world owes me. I could feel like God owes me. I am a “decent person” by the worlds standards, why do I have to have depression? Why does life get messy? Why me? Me. Me. Me. That is who the world teaches us to have in mind, ourselves.

As a Believer, if I take God’s word to be truth, I know that God’s plan for my life is for His glory and not mine, He will refine me through the process though (Isaiah 48). That’s how I began to choose to see the days I passed through this depression, as something that would benefit my spirit for His glory, though it may trouble my mind. Each moment of pain I felt mentally, was a moment God would (undeserved to me) offer grace to me and allow me to one day (this day) share with you not just about how He has taken me from a dark place (that’s what the world would want to hear about, how things have gotten better) but that He was IN the dark place with me. God is present though you may feel your troubles are undeserved, God tells us differently – our troubles are not for us to define as deserved or undeserved but for a greater purpose of looking beyond ourself. It’s not about me. It’s not about you.

When I began to think this way, I noticed my heart overtaking my mind.

I started smiling at my son.

When I laid him down to sleep at night, I started missing his face and would go back in for one last look before he wanted to eat next. I still have a text saved on my phone that I sent my older sister “I laid Timothy in his crib and I miss him :)”, it felt so good to feel that way.

I started finding everything he did nauseatingly cute [because it is :)…].

I began to process, even more so, this journey the Lord has taken me on, growing in appreciation for the Lord’s hand on my life from the very beginning in such specific ways capturing my heart at different moments knowing what I needed best in each stage of life.

From a surprise pregnancy allowing me to pass through such intense feelings for Brooklyn so that my heart would be captured from the first moments of motherhood, teaching me to love children and lay a burden on my heart for the unborn and born alike who have mothers that don’t love them enough to be selfless.

To the amount of time God allowed Joseph and I to wait before that positive pregnancy test where we found out I was pregnant with Timothy. Though it was not a long time in the scheme of things considering how long others wait for that positive to show, it was the time the Lord knew Joseph and I needed, to grow closer to Brooklyn while waiting for another, to lean on the Lord when my desire for another child was so strong, to grasp that God’s timing is not our own in another way than we learned with finding out I was pregnant with Brooklyn.

I began to appreciate the Lord’s hand on my life in the present state I was in, shattered and weak, allowing me to pass through such low feelings that I really only could rely on God to see me through. Dark places that gave me a clearer understanding of the Lord’s role in my life, that not a single second of motherhood can be done without a close grip to the Lord’s hand. Were it not for the Lord walking by my side, whispering at times and shouting at times that these thoughts are lies from satan and not a testament to my love for my baby or my ability to be a parent, but they were simply about learning to live each day…each second even, with the perspective that it is not about me and these trials are not for naught.

I hope to never take the dark days for granted.

These things I have come to understand about my relationship and reliance on the Lord are not for motherhood alone. You don’t have to be a parent to come into inches of the devil whispering fear into your soul, you simply have to be a person. My deliverance at this time in my life has been from depression in regards to motherhood, but there are countless other things you may need to be delivered from, and the Lord is ready to deliver you when you are ready to grasp His hand.

He may not deliver you in the way you expect, He may not deliver you from the actual hardship but He may deliver your mind to a new understanding of the hardship. There are days I may still pass through thoughts of depression, but that will not overtake the joy the Lord has graciously overflowed my heart with.

People love to say “God meets you where you are at…” but He truly, truly is already there – if you are just willing to acknowledge Him.

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior” [Oceans by Hillsong United]

 

 

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