Looking on the Bright Side

Time for a post of happy things…

Last Friday, I got a day all to myself.  Well…  With Ruby, the 8 month old.  Same thing, really.  I decided with the boys gone, I would use that day to start sleep training her for naps and bedtime.  Well…  Little Noodle was way ahead of me, apparently.  She fully cooperated – and has been sleeping like a champ ever since!  It’s currently 8:21pm and she’s been asleep, in her crib, for over an hour.  Success!!!

In addition to getting the little one to sleep well, I managed to clean, organize, do three loads of laundry, and read.  Like…a book.  And write.  And daydream.  Outside.  On the porch.  It felt like I was being incredibly irresponsible, sloughing off my responsibilities.  In other words, it felt wonderful.

On Saturday, our family went to one of my favorite places to pick blueberries.  An amazingly beautiful farm, tucked up in the hills of Wisconsin, near the Mississippi River and Lake Pepin.  It’s one of my happy places.  And much to my delight, I discovered my son is an awesome blueberry picker!  (And I think he had as much fun as I did – and has already asked to go back.)

Sunday, I snuck out for a bit.  We have lived in our new house for over a year, and still have nothing hung on our living room walls.  I visited a few shops to try to rectify that situation.    I found a couple of things…  On sale, too!  Gotta love it.

That evening, we grilled kabobs for dinner!  And grilled some fresh pineapple, too.  Deeeelish!  We don’t grill near as often as we used to (too many mini-people running around with tight schedules to stick to).  So this tasted even better than usual.  AND, we had blueberry cobbler for dessert.  Perfection.  Summer meals make everything seem brighter.

Have to admit, I had a rough morning with my boy…  Thought my good vibes had already come to an end.  BUT…  This afternoon, after his nap, he and I cuddled up and watched videos of the Okee Dokee Brothers on Youtube for an hour.  (Not something I normally would do…)  He is fascinated with bluegrass instruments – guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass, harmonica, drums…  And has been pretending to play them all day.  We have a coffee can that we have turned into a drum (that is actually pretty cool).  It’s cardboard, with a plastic lid, and a metal bottom – so lots of different noises are possible, depending what you use to play it!  He was experimenting with it all afternoon.  I’m in awe of how his brain works.  (And need to find someone to start teaching him some instruments!)

 

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A piano outside an antique store in Stockholm, WI.  A street performer in the making!

Another high point today was simply getting the mail.  Besides receiving my fun new hairbands from amazon, I got the sweetest note in the mail from a lovely friend (and former youth group kid).  Her card simply said that she appreciated the “honest, authentic” perspective that I share about life in general.  I’ve been afraid, beginning to blog again, that people would take my writing the wrong way….  Some of it may seem really negative or like I’m complaining about being a parent…  But really, it’s just my perspective from the now.  If I wrote about these things years from now, I’m sure I’d look back with rose-tinted glasses.  But right now is hard.  And that is ok.  It’s real.  And for other moms going through the same things – we need to hear it from each other.  Because it’s a lonely road when most people say, “it gets better;” “you’ll miss it someday;” “you’re just lucky to have kids;” “you’re so blessed.”  And yes, while I agree with all these things with a whole heart, sometimes it’s nice to hear, “you too?!  Ugh…”

So, yes.  I loved this quote, sent from my friend (it’s now hanging on the wall right next to my computer):

 

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Life is what we make it.  But it gets knocked around a lot by influences outside our control…  So it’s important to look on the bright side!  What’s your bright side today?

 

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July: Currently

Another blog I used to read did a quick “where am I at?” post once a month… And I love it. It’s so simple, and yet – a great check in. So, I’m going to give it a try! Here goes:

coming to terms with being a stay at home mama of two littles.  One was work, and fun, and surprising, and manageable.  Two is different.  A handful, chaos, frustrating, and exhausting…  Finding the joy takes a little more effort from me somedays.  But I’m lucky – I have two adorable goofballs.  We’ll get there.

feeling burnt out.  Busy holiday weekend.  Both kids still wake up at night.  The two year old was up to his new tricks today – busy, busy, busy.  It was a tough day of balancing discipline and compromise.  Ugh.  He’s smart, persistent, energetic, talkative, and cute.  Sometimes its hard to be mad…  And sometimes it’s hard not to!

looking out my window.  Storms are rolling in.  The birds are getting their last snacks from our feeders before racing off to hide from the winds and the rain…  It’s suddenly much darker…  Which only makes me more sleepy!

starting to get back on track.  Looking for the magic in each day.  Recording those moments in pictures, Facebook posts, and journal entries.  I learned from Sawyer’s baby days how much those little memories mean to me…  I love looking back on them already!  (And so does he!  He looks through my pictures and asks me to tell him the stories…  Pretty sweet.)

laughing at both the kids.  As exasperating as they can be, they’re quite the team.  Today, Sawyer was pretending to give a concert in our living room.  He’s standing on the ottoman, holding his “guitar,” talking through the intro of his song, then singing screaming some unintelligible nonsense while jumping around.  Ruby, who I thought would be terrified by this display, proceeds to bounce and clap, cheer and laugh when we was done.  Oh brother.  They’re quite the team.

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squeezing in a little quiet before dinner.  By the time Hubby got home today, I was done.  Fuse was short.  I just needed a break.  He took the kids for a walk, and in a moment I’ll make dinner.  But the last 45 minutes was just what I need to recharge before dinner, baths, and bedtime…

And…  Storms brought a power outage during story time   We lost power for 16 hours!  I’m finishing this post the next day.  Ugh.

believing life is good.  Even through the storms.  Literally, and figuratively.

thinking I’d love a family vacation at a cabin this summer…  On the water.  Something to soothe my soul and nerves…  (Not likely to happen.  But I can daydream!)

knowing Ruby is almost on the move!  She’s rolling, rocking, pulling herself partway up on things…  Life is about to get even crazier.  (I’m kind of excited for her to chase Sawyer around…  Is that mean of me?!  Hee hee.)  Time to start contemplating child-proofing, again.

fighting – or arguing – with the 2.5 year old all. day. long.  He’s an emotional mess these days.  One moment he wants to do something for himself, then he screams and throws something because he wants mommy to do it…  And then, regardless of whether I do it, he will cry and scream for the next 30 minutes.  Somedays, life seems impossible for him AND me.  He’s feeling a lot of things these days.  And they’re big feelings.  And apparently, I’m the wrong person to help him through them…  So we sit at an impasse most of the day.  It’s exhausting to say the least.

thanking God, everyday, for these kiddos.  They make me crazy.  Like, somedays, certifiably crazy.  But…  They can be sweet, cute, funny, amazing, lovable little creatures, too.  I’ll keep them – God help me!

being me. The good days and the not so good days…  Pluggin’ along.

Make Plans… God Laughs

Wow.  Today on my memory feed on Facebook, a link to this blog appeared.  Honestly, I completely forgot I created this blog!  I started it shortly after I became a stay-at-home-mom with one little guy…

Life sure has changed!

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I’m still a SAHM, but now have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old.  Life is fuller.  Busier.  More frustrating.  Not as rosy.  A lot more chaos.  A lot more screaming.  A lot more “no.”  A lot less sleep.  A lot less getting done (hence no blogging for two years…).

And I realized today, maybe I’ve allowed myself to fall into a way of life I’m not too keen on living.  I look back at those happier blog entries and wonder, “what happened to her?”  She was so positive, happy, and full of joy….  These days, I just want sleep.  And quiet.  Quiet would be nice…

I read those old blog posts at 6:30 this morning.  It’s 4:30pm now…   The hubby took the kids to play at the neighbor’s house – and I’m taking a moment to myself to put into words what I’ve been thinking all day.

It’s time to start with a clean slate.

I need to find ways to bring joy and gratefulness back into my everyday, every moment…  I need to find ways to incorporate peace and stillness, reading and walking back into the daily grind.  I need to center myself again.

This parenting thing takes it out of you.  Big time.  Toddlers take every last morsel of life and devour it whole…  Leaving crumbs for you to gather in their wake.

Not anymore.  Mama’s taking it back.  (Not sure how, yet, but realizing how far I’ve strayed is a start!)

Maybe we’ll start here.  Let’s re-write that 3rd paragraph:

I’m still a SAHM, but now have a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. Life is fuller. Messier. More unpredictable. Not as quiet. A lot more giggles. A lot more singing. A lot more snuggles. A lot less nights out. A lot less projects.  But more reading books.  More building blocks and knocking them down.  More pretending.  More trying new things.  More cheering and screaming with delight.  More splashing and spraying.  More garbage trucks, diggers, firetrucks, and lawn mowers.  More “Good morning, Ruby” and “Please and thank yous.”  More dance parties and singing in the shower.  

Life is good.  I just need to pay attention to ALL of it.

So here’s ten things I’m grateful for today, in this moment:

  1. Hubby took the kids for a walk = Quiet.
  2. This blog, and the reminder that it exists.  The reminder of who I was.
  3. Sunshine after a storm.
  4. Sawyer, the 2.5 year old, loving “parfaits.”
  5. Ruby, the 8 month old, trying to pull herself up with such determination.
  6. A four day weekend with the hubby home.
  7. Decorating the house for the 4th of July with Sawyer, and adding decorations to his little kitchen.
  8. Library visits.
  9. Sawyer trying to help me pick out sunglasses.  (He picks up the gaudiest ones there, and says, “Here Mommy, these would look soooo pretty on you!”)
  10. Naps.  Long naps.

Road Trip!

Ahhh…   The dreaded road trip – with a baby.  What usually takes 5 hours to get to my mother-in-law’s house, now takes at least 6 hours, usually 6.5.  Lovely.

But here’s the thing – I LOVE our rest stops!  It’s great family time!

We bring a giant picnic blanket and find a shady spot in the grass.  Get the babe out of the car, let him wiggle and crawl and play. Change him.  Feed him.  And play.  Lots of play.  Gotta say, after a long week – this can be pretty fun times!  (Even the dog gets in on the fun.)

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Daddy is trying to eat his lunch…  With Sawyer and Bailey doing their best to make him give it up!  (Mr Tough Guy!)

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Stretching his legs – with wiggles and dancing, too!

Today, we found some great McDonald’s with nice, big trees and grassy areas around their parking lots.  Perfect.  Isn’t it funny that we now rate places to stop along the way by who has the nicest lawns?  I’ll be very sad when winter comes and we actually have to sit inside… and behave… and use the icky changing tables…  I plan to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the summer road trips!

What are you – particularly – loving this summer?

 

“Made It” Monday – Baby Food

So, I usually need some inspiration on Mondays.  So I was trying to think of something fun – and thought, what about “Made It Mondays?”  I could write about something I made – like, craft-wise; or a new recipe; or a goal I achieved; or even a journey I completed!  Whatever comes to mind…  Whatever I “made” over the last week.

So, here goes…  This week, I made….

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Baby Food!

When I decided I would give it a go, and try making my own, I started combing the internet for “how-to” articles, recipes, suggestions for equipment, etc.  I felt like I was diving into the unknown and wanted to get it right for my little one…

I ended up buying a little baby food gadget that would steam and puree the food easily and without much hassle…  And found a couple of lists of what foods to start with.  But that’s about it!

And, actually, I tried the gadget – and it was broken when I got it.  I already prepped some food and had to get them pureed, so I did it over the stove – and Wa-la!  Everything worked so easily, I returned the gadget.  Silly me.

So, if you’re reading this, and you’re like me – wondering where the heck you start with something like making your own baby food.  Here’s my two cents:

1)  What you need: a small sauce pan and a cheap steamer basket (Target has a great one for $7).  Then, put together a little kit with: a small cutting board, paring knife, small spatula, maybe a vegetable peeler, and a small food processor (or small bowl insert for your large one!).

2)  How to do it:  Wash, peel, and chop up the fruit or veggie being used.  Steam it for about 10 minutes.  Pop it in the food processor and whiz it up til nice and creamy (with some veggies, I added formula to make it a creamier consistency).  No need to add anything – it’s that easy!

3)  To store it:  Some people put the pureed food in ice trays, freeze til solid, then pop in ziploc bags.  Great idea!  I chose to go this route, though – I LOVE the Oxo Baby Blocks.  I use the small ones in the fridge and to take with us, and the large ones to freeze.  I have two sets and it’s working perfect – and keeps me from making too much food.  If I make food once or twice a week, for about an hour each time – we have plenty!

4)  What I’ve made so far:  I started with two things I didn’t have to cook (avocado and bananas).  Then moved on to:  sweet potatoes, apples, peas, cantaloupe, carrots, peaches, edamame, and we’re introducing black beans this week.  Each food is introduced for 4 days before we try another new one (just in case there is an allergic reaction).  I try to alternate fruits and veggies – and now I’m adding in meatless proteins (I’m exactly excited about pureeing meats!).

It really is that easy.  And he actually seems to like his food – and eats very enthusiastically!  (At 7 months old, he’s all boy – eating lots!)  And get this…  It’s fun!  I actually like taking the time once or twice a week to make his food.  It’s the kind of task that you get to actually see the results of your labor – and the smiles it brings.  And whether I’m entertaining him while cooking (turning the radio up and dancing around the kitchen) or I’m by myself after he goes to bed…  It’s relaxing and fulfilling.

Who whuddathunk?

What have you made this week?  I’d love to hear!

What Do I Do?

I took out my “Q&A a Day” book this morning, and the question I flipped to asked,

What do you want to say when someone asks “What do you do?”

Ha!  I’m still figuring that out!  This is the first time in my adult life that I haven’t had a paying job, a workplace to go to everyday…  And yet, “What do I do?” seems even more complicated than ever before.

I’m hoping, soon, I’ll be able to say, “I’m creating a home for my husband and kid to thrive in with love, stability, and joy.”  That sounds like a nice mission statement for a SAHM mama, right?

Although, some days, I’m happy if we don’t have any meltdowns, I catch the poopy diapers before they explode, and I can actually get the kid to eat and sleep on some sort of schedule.  Oh, and get the bottles cleaned before I need one.  And keep the dog and kid apart so there are no nips and growls.  Oh yeah…  And now that he’s crawling and we haven’t quite baby-proofed yet, chase him around and keep him away from any dangers.  And make dinner.  And that pesky laundry…

And still find time to encourage the kid’s discovering of new things, trying new tasks, singing and playing on the floor, reading books (over and over again), tickling and laughing, going for walks or adventures…

And then Hubby comes home…  And we try to have dinner together, feed Sawyer, give him a bath, read to him, and put him to bed…  By the time that’s all done, I’m exhausted.  Normal, right?  I know.  But…  I’m working on finding more ways to be “present” in the evenings, too.  I pictured staying at home as a gift not only to the baby, but also to my husband.  I hoped to make his life easier, too.  And I don’t know if I’m really accomplishing that yet.    We’re still figuring it out.

I’ve always been a homebody – and so far, I really am loving this new job.  I feel like I do pretty well with the kid.  I’m working on maintaining the house in a way that a little gets done everyday – so it never becomes an overwhelming chore.  I’m starting to cook healthy meals again – which feels FANTASTIC!  I’m making our own baby food (which is so fun and easy – and makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something!).  I’m starting to get out more, both with and without Sawyer.

We’re getting there.

What do I do?  I’m creating a home for my husband and kid to thrive in with love, stability, and joy.  The key word is creating.  Meaning, it’s in process.  It’s happening – slowly, with hiccups, and lessons to learn.  But we’re on our way.  And that’s what matters.

How would you answer the question, “What do you do?”  And what is “in process” in your life?  (I’d love to hear other stories of where people are at – and where they’re headed!  Life’s a journey…  Right?)

Chasing

The Daily Question is:  What are you chasing at the moment?

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Hmmm…  I’m getting ready to chase my 6 1/2 month old!  He’s “army crawling” now and able to make his way across the room…  So, any day now, he’ll be on the move!  Getting into things every time my back is turned.  Good grief.  I’m so not ready for that!

But what else am I “chasing?”

I’m not sure…

I think for the first time in my life – I’m at rest for the moment.  And it’s a weird sensation.  

Career goals are on hold.  Vacation and travels are on hold – or, at least, majorly simplified!  The dreams of moving and buying a house are on hold for a few years.  The only thing I can think of that I’m “moving toward” is my weight loss and getting back into healthy habits.  And maybe, returning to my crafty, loves-to-cook self.  

But neither of those goals are being “chased” – just gradually re-entered.

When I think of “chasing” something, it feels like it’s urgent.  It’s needed.  It’s something that you put all your energy towards until you reach it.  There’s a goal that must be met, before you can rest and feel content – or happy, for that matter.

I’m not chasing right now.  Thank goodness.  Life is good.  I do rest (when the kid rests).  And I am content (even as I sit here mid-morning, in my yoga pants and hoodie, no make-up, hair in a ponytail, with cold coffee on the desk and no plans for the day other than crawling around on the floor, reading books, experimenting with peas and apples, and giggling at peek-a-boo!).

And I’m happy.  Very happy.

I’m sure it won’t be long before I have the need to “chase” a goal again.  I think it’s natural and what keeps us moving forward.  But I also intend to fully enjoy this moment – as I don’t think it happens very often in life.  I intend to soak up these days of playing and rocking and singing and reading…  Every minute.  Because one day it will be over…  And suddenly, I’ll be free to “chase” other things again…  

And I’ll miss this.  I know I will.  The simplicity.  The overwhelming love.  The cuddles and wonder.

So, no.  I’m not chasing anything at the moment – and next week, it will probably be the little one.   And that’s ok.  Actually…  It’s so, so good!

What are you chasing at this moment?  I’d love to hear!

Do You Like You?

What a great video – and perfect timing for me to see it!  This new stay-at-home-mama gig has me rediscovering priorities and what self-esteem feels like…  It’s interesting when you spend an entire day at home (and it’s not just a vacation, lazy day kind of thing) – what do you do?  wear?  make-up or no?  blow dry and curl the hair or not?  And if I choose not to do these things…  Can I walk past a mirror and not cringe?!

Or will I just feel ugly and lazy…?

It’s a weird thing…  Even when we’re by ourself, do we let society’s notion of beauty decide for us?  Or do we notice new things about ourselves?  Find new strengths?  See ourselves as “more than?”

This is really only the first full week I’ve been home with the kid since my last day of work, 3 weeks ago, and I’ve kind of decided if I’m not going anywhere why bother?  I get dressed in comfy clothes and skip the hair and make-up.  It’s so liberating!  Ha ha ha.  And then I walk past a mirror…  And see new things.

I see a mama.  And I see the beautiful little boy attached to my hip, smiling at our reflection.  I see that my laugh lines are getting deeper since he joined our little family.  I see the smile that lights up my face as his chubby hands grab my cheeks.  I see my hair, frizzy and huge – and know it fills his big eyes with wonder when my hair escapes from the pony tail.  I see my forehead, beginning to wrinkle from learning and concentrating on this thing called parenting….

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It may not be beautiful to Hollywood, or fashion magazines, or those who crave perfection.  But honestly, I feel pretty beautiful most days in this role called Mom.  I didn’t know what I was missing before this little man entered my life.  And now, I feel more whole than I ever have before.

Do you like you?  What does it mean to fully embrace who we are and our own unique beauty?  What does it take to let the world’s perception of beauty fall away and simply appreciate our bodies and spirits for what they are?

Tomorrow, I’m once again beginning a new weight loss journey (“once again” because I got side-tracked with my pregnancy!).  Am I doing it to be skinny and gorgeous?  No.  (But I’m ok with that side-effect.)  I’m doing it to regain a healthy body and spirit – that can be up to new adventures and possibilities.  I want a life of trying new things and chasing after my son.  I want to go on grand journeys with my husband and discover new places.  I want my mind to be sharp and my eyes to be bright.  I want to be healthy so I can serve the world in bigger and bolder ways…  Sharing God’s love.

I believe God made us – each one – to be unique and beautiful.  And for me…  I need to take a few moments each day and claim that.  Look in the mirror.  Stare at the reflection with no make-up, no hairdo, no photoshop…  Find one thing to love.  Every day.  A new challenge to myself – and maybe to you?

Do you like you?  I hope so…!

Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
before I’d even lived one day.  –Psalm 139:13-16

Welcome

Well, here goes nothing!  I’m officially a SAHM (yep, I even know the code for “stay at home mom” now).  Craziness.

You can read the story of our little man’s arrival on my old blog, megslifeisgood@blogspot.com.  We had just about given up on having kids, when Surprise!  We were pregnant.  I had started making plans for my future without kids…  Registering for classes, looking into a new certification, new goals and ambitions…

And then, a few months go by and as I began feeling kicks and hiccups, the thought of staying home with him became more and more a dream that could come true.

And so here I am – beginning a new adventure that I thought I’d never want to do – but filled with excitement, nerves, and a heart full of love!  This little guy has broken my heart wide open and I can’t wait to see what kind of life unfolds for us.

So, I’ll be recording our adventures here – mostly to document our life, partly to “think out loud,” and hopefully, to be part of larger conversations with other women, moms, daughters, and friends.  I’ve relied heavily on blogs and message boards for ideas, thoughts, and just to “feel normal” when things seemed a little out of whack.  So maybe I can offer that help to someone else, too.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey!

Life is good.

And it seems to always be getting better…!Image