Friday, November 22, 2013

a year without santa claus

this year has been difficult for my family. I struggle to type the word "difficult" because I know we've seen harder days but, as an accumulation, this year has seen its fair share of hurts.
i am constantly looking for the plus side. forcing myself to, as i know, just as well as you do, that things could be so much worse. i have much to be grateful for.

first you should know this: i HATE asking for help. it's ingrained in my system, i'd rather swallow hot coals than admit i cant do something on my own..
i had medical issues. i hate without going into them, i had to have a minor surgery, i didn't follow all the orders to a "T" (it's hard to do that when you have 3 kids at home, one of which, at the time, was only 3 months old) and in turn i tore a muscle near my incision making my life a great deal more painful. in the end, everything healed, i have my health. i'm not perfect, no one is, but i'm healthier now for the entire ordeal I've gone through.

we took an enormous pay cut to move home. we basically cut out income in half. it was a shock to the system, one we still haven't worked all the kinks out of--but we're home. we're so much closer to family, we have a more complete support system...and have i mentioned how much i love my home town?

arnie took a job that he really wasn't "made" to do. being a corrections officer takes a certain type of person. not everyone can do this job and when you aren't really "made" to do it, it can most certainly add un-needed stress to an already stressed environment. ...but this job is the reason we were able to move home. were it not for fantastic family and friends putting in good words here and there, we wouldn't have been able to make this journey.

at the end of a year, we made the heart wrenching decision to really, really trust God.
Arnie lost his job. i wont go into details, it isn't my story to tell, but i will make this clear: we've no hard feelings, no bitterness, and no anger at all towards anyone or anything- in fact, we've nothing but gratitude. at the end of the day, being a corrections officer wasn't in arnie's heart and this lifted a great deal of stress out of our home.

and so, here we are, nearing the end of November and searching diligently for a job, throwing applications, resumes, and references at nearly anyone who looks our way..and i am, most certainly, a very impatient person. when i submit something, i expect it to be reviewed immediately...which i know is unrealistic. i cant help it, though- i want things to happen NOW. i have a need to know that my gut feeling that everything is going to be alright is, in fact, right. I've been fighting myself here recently with the "countdown" towards Christmas...which is what got this whole blog rolling. i needed to stop worrying myself into sickness. worrying gets you nowhere, and it surely must be a slap to God's face when you start worrying the way I've been going at it.

I've decided (slightly from of being thrust into this situation) that Christmas in our home will be handled quite differently this year. if you're accustomed to receiving gifts from us, it may be homemade this year. money being "tight" is more than an understatement...and i don't say this for pity- i say this because "struggling" seems to be a taboo subject. no one really wants to talk about nor possibly hear about struggling, but it's real- it happens more than you think--and to people you might least likely suspect. i'm writing this because even though i know this is a darker time in our lives, it could be so much worse and there are people out there who have it much worse than we do. we have much to be thankful for.

i want this Christmas to stick in our kids' minds so that later, when we are blessed with much, we will remember when we had very little ( material wise) but so much more spiritually...and what it felt like and how we might possibly minister to those who need more than we do. i want this Christmas to be more about the true reason for the holiday and less about deals from black Friday.

right now, there are families that don't have heat...that don't have a home...that are wondering where their next meal might come from. cliché or not, it is the truth. i struggled with writing this because i don't want this to be a pity party, i am so thankful for what we do have, but i also wanted to make a taboo subject maybe become a little less taboo.

we're going to spin this positively, and try (hopefully with success) to celebrate: a year without santa claus.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What changes.

If you were to ask me the biggest change that happens when you become a parent- it isn't what you think; it isn't the sleepless nights, it isn't the diaper nightmares, it isnt the surprising amount of times a toddler can vomit -completely unprovoked. it's something entirely different.
*It's the way a child grows your heart.
Whenever you grow, sometimes you grow too quickly, resulting in growing pains. You get those growing pains when you become a parent. Your heart aches with love for your little one. You will be overwhelmed with the feeling of love.
It's the increase in tear production. Who knew that when your little newborn infant involuntarily wraps his or her hand around your finger, it would cause your eyes to tear up? Or the first true smile, that knowing look of understanding- that makes all the crying, colic, and weeks without sleep so very worth it. Witnessing the firsts- first words (your name- mom or dad), first steps (toward you)...
*It's the increase in bravery. Hearing your name cried out in the middle of the night, running blindly to get to them, knowing you'd run through anything to reach them- feeling their tiny heart beat against your chest and wanting to take away whatever it was that scared them.
*It's the ability to become world's best and most strict safety inspector. Never in your life will you see more danger present in a playground than after you have a child. (And forget about jumping on the bed)
But the biggest change is the knowledge that those feelings, those changes- they never go away. if anything, they increase 10 fold as your child/children get older.
Heaven help us as parents. And God, show mercy on us.
This past week's events have made me all to aware of the fragility of life. And as so many have said; and it is proven over and over to us , we are not promised tomorrow. Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do or say today.
I look at my kids napping and I try to imprint the memories of today into my mind: Cain's mischievous smiles- the way he's learning words and surprising me every day.
Amelia's sweetness and cleverness. Even at two, her big sister powers are stretching, and she shows such love towards her baby brother and big sister.
Lily's maturity, at 8, she sees certain things and knows when to step in and help out. I sometimes forget her age because she shows such maturity in helping out- instead of calling to me that someone needs changed, she does it herself. She fixes snacks, pours drinks, and fixes boo boos as needed.
I don't want to forget the little moments of today. I want to wrap them up and save them for forever.

So when you think about becoming a parent for the first time or anytime after, and someone chimes in as a debby-downer, remember these things.
In truth- everything changes when you become a parent, but a few things are left unspoken- things that seem like common sense but until you have experienced it, until you have felt it- they are just words on a screen.
You can have all the "things" in the world and still feel alone and unfulfilled; and you can be as poor as dirt and have the love of your child and know you are as rich as you will ever be.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate (Psalm 127:3-5)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

remember, we're not perfect.

when I was around 8 or 9, I went- at the urging of my friend, to vacation bible school. I don't remember everything about it. I don't remember the crafts, but I remember something that changed my outlook for while.
we were in a small classroom full of kids I knew by name, who unbeknownst to me, were regulars in attending church. I was not. this was my first time in vacation bible school; and other than opening up a bible and glancing through it (I was familiar with the story of Noah), I knew very little about church or the bible.
I didn't know you were supposed to bring your bible to vbs. I know, it seems like common sense, but I didn't know; and since I didn't bring my bible to the classroom, I was given a spare King James Version. (in my opinion, pretty difficult to read at kid level)
we were to go around the table, each of us reading a certain number of verses, and the next child was to pick up where the last one had left off.
the teacher called out the book and chapter. I didn't know any of the books. I looked around and everyone had found the spot. I gauged their bibles, and tried to open mine to about the same spot, hoping to help find the book. I went the wrong way. I was in a panic. I was typically a good student. here, I couldn't even find the right page.
I looked up for help. "where is the book?" I asked. "it's in the new testament," they all replied almost in unison. "right after romans," someone else replied. my head swirled. where was the new testament? where was romans? I felt sick. I wanted to run out and leave.
"if you haven't found it, we'll have to skip you," the teacher said in a voice that to me seemed disapproving.
"I haven't found it," I said, hearing my own voice shake.
I didn't earn any points that day. I hadn't brought my bible, I didn't read aloud. I couldn't come up with a song to sing. I didn't know the words to any of the songs they were singing.
I would come home from the morning spent there feeling like a disappointment. I didn't have fun. I had seen tabs on bibles before, the ones that tell you where the books of the bible are. I thought that would solve my problems, so I had asked about them in that small classroom. i was told that if I actually took the time to read the bible, I wouldn't need those silly tabs. I just thought it would help while i was learning. I didn't finish out that week of vbs and I didn't return that next summer.
I felt like a total outsider...and really, I was. and that's the persona I took on. an outsider.

I wonder how many other kids have gone to a function like that for the very first time and felt that way. what happened to me then-- now, it seems small, unimportant. but I wanted so much to fit in, to make new friends, to learn new things...and the whole thing just backfired horribly.

it made me afraid of church. I felt judged because I wasn't familiar with the bible, because I didn't know their songs, because I was laughed at for asking if they had the words so I could sing along.

later, whenever I was invited to a church, I refused to dress up; partly because at the time, I felt awkward in dresses, and partly because I didn't want to do anything to conform to "them". I would NOT be one of them.."them" who judged a young girl who was there on an invite and was in completely new territory and just didn't have a clue.

I was angry with any church that someone spoke about; surely, they too would've behaved the same way towards me. how dare they.
and that anger grew when my name mysteriously ended up on a church prayer list in a church I had no affiliation with...
and not because I was sick...I wasn't; but because of how I dressed, and the music I listened to. I was so angry and it basically confirmed for me what I had always thought: "they're all alike."

please don't look at this and be angry with these folks. I've gone down that road (see my high school years if you'd like to know why I dressed the way I did or was completely cynical about everything) and really, being angry- it does no good.

I can look back now and think, "good...I needed prayer then." but at the time, wow, I was mad. I was embarrassed. I didn't worship the devil, I was mad about everything. and as for vacation bible school, well, I just chalk it up to inexperience. whoever it was that was teaching, they clearly didn't know it would've helped to have helped me. they had no idea they were molding me into someone. lots of things happen in a person's life that changes who we are or how we react to things.

honestly, it's helped me.
if it weren't for a friend and her mother, I would've never set foot in that church for vacation bible school. if it weren't for a youth pastor and his wife (joy and aaron young- I hope some day to find out where they are now) I wouldn't have developed a thirst for knowledge about the bible- I loved their bible workbooks and after school meetings. if it wasn't for arnie and his mom's urging for us to find a church after we were married, I would've never been baptized, or met the most wonderful people who've become life long friends.

yes, some crappy things happened to me in church by people I perceived as Christians. i'm somewhat nervous about posting this, but I hope that anyone who reads this knows that I don't want to bad mouth anyone. I don't want to give anyone a bad name. they made some mistakes. but guess what: we all do. we can live with mistakes or we can move forward and grow from it. it took me a while, but eventually I let go and grew up.
having been in that position, it's made me a lot more aware of "new" people. I try to go out of my way to let them know they're welcome in any place i'm familiar with.
and I might add- the good far outweighs the bad i'm thankful for everything that's happened and i wouldn't change a thing. we'd all do well to remember that churches are made up of human beings. imperfect, sinning human beings. we need to remember that....and cut each other some slack.


if I could give one piece of advice, it is this: please don't judge or write someone off because of how they dress, or how they look. don't ever write someone off, especially if you see that person in your church. show kindness. show God's love. let them hear "welcome, i'm glad you're here." instead of snickers and whispers. that small act could change that person's outlook on the day...on their week...on their life...and on God.

learning to loosen your grasp (review of TrueBeautyFilm: not of this world )

When asked to review a DVD, I was excited. It's a chance for me to write with purpose, and the fact that I was asked to come back and write for the same group I've previously written for again, it is truly an honor.
Then, I received the DVD. The day I picked it up, our family dog of 13 years passed away. I was shattered. I felt broken. I looked down at my table through tears and saw this DVD: Not of This World. I needed to watch it.
This DVD has been a blessing to me, everyone has something they can take away from watching it. It lifted me up and took away my lost feeling.
Lisa Chan brings you back to your "center". Through real world, real life experiences, Not of This World reminds us that our focus should be always on God and the eternal life He has prepared for us. These things, this place here- it's all temporary.
Through an analogy of camping (this temporary life we're living), we're shown how fun and how exhilarating camping can be. You see beauty and it can be a wonderful experience; but by the end, aren't we all ready to go home?
As Lisa so eloquently puts it, you feel dirty (sins of the world) and can't wait to get clean and put on fresh clothes (clothed in righteousness).
Not of This World uses beautiful imagery throughout, and really brings you back to focus on what matters: God.
I encourage you to watch this short, to the point film. I promise you'll bring something away from it.
Hear Carolyn and Shawn's story. How when you're forced to give up everything, the scripture really begins to light up- you begin to open your eyes and see God moving and making things happen- with God's will backing you all the way.
You become privy to a secret that shouldn't be a secret- all that we're given, everything we're blessed with- it isn't ours to keep. It's ours to share and bless others with.
Once you've experienced that type of kindness, a new chamber in your heart and soul open up, and you see, maybe for the first time, that we're not made for this world.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

our family dog has died

I sit here, without really knowing what to say. our dog, Cujo, of 12 years passed away this morning. he was our first "baby", being older than our first born by 3 years. he passed away alone, outside. my heart is exploding with pain.
I knew something was wrong. I felt it. I even thought this could be happening and I did nothing.
and it wasn't from lack of caring. I loved him more than words could say. I just didn't want to admit that something might be wrong. to me, after all, he was only 12. my first dog lived well beyond twelve, and lived a much harder life. it doesn't matter. the pain I feel for him is immense. the loneliness he must've felt in his last moments. we weren't there. we weren't holding him, petting him, telling him it was okay to let go. how could I have done this to my dog? how could I have let this happen?
why didn't I go outside? why didn't I check on him? my guilt is enormous. my sadness overwhelms me.
what kills me even more is the relationship that Arnie had with Cujo. they were so close. cujo would always sit on Arnie's lap, no matter how big he grew to be, his place was there, on Arnie's lap. Arnie had to break the news to me. Arnie packed him up and took him to bury him. Arnie is doing this by himself, while I watch the kids. I don't know what to say to him. while I stood outside and cried, he merely watched. everyone grieves in their own way. it just kills me.
we haven't told Lily yet. Amelia is only 2, and Cain is nearly one. neither one will grasp what has happened.
I wanted to look at pictures of him, so I was flipping through photo albums, when Amelia lit up at the sight of him, "Cujo!!" she proclaimed loudly, squealing at every snapshot of him. my heart was crumbling as I tried to smile and affirm her shouts.
there is so much regret that comes with death. we didn't spend enough time with him. we could've made things comfier for him. we could've took him on more walks. we could've played with him more. we could've just hugged him one more time.
there's always witty sayings on facebook about living for today, about cherishing everything, because nothing is promised tomorrow. death is a stark reminder of how true those saying are. 
I want more than anything to go hug him one more time.
don't wait for death to sneak into your lives. the heartache, I can assure you, is a hard look in the mirror of what you thought was important.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Modesty vs. the itsy bitsy Bikini

"It is strange that modesty is the rule for women when what they most value in men is boldness."
I've thought about writing this blog for 2 days now. it's such a gray area. modesty: define it. can you? are you modest in your modesty? or are you vain about your modesty? how many "self portrait" pictures do you have floating around your phone, facebook, instagram, and whatever else you have for socializing?
when you're getting ready to walk out the door, do you look yourself over in the mirror? if someone walks in, and says, hey let's go- do you immediately panic because your hair isn't done, you're not dressed, and you've no make up on?
still think you're modest?
I know i'm not. i'm not saying that as a vain statement, i'm just stating the truth. i'm not modest. but i'm not modest in different ways than you think. I DONT wear make up. at all. my hair is short, so "fixing it" takes all of five minutes. and being dressed is well...defined for me as a tank and a pair of jeans or yoga-ish pants. but modesty did pass me by. when you breast feed, modesty kind of flies out the window...especially about that 5 month mark when your child is way more interested in everything else while they're eating and a blanket is just unacceptable to them. eventually, someone gets flashed and while that thought used to mortify me, now...not so much.
this is the area that I speak of. women who fight for breast feeding rights where ever they may be- they fight for the idea that breasts are not and should not be sexualized. they have a purpose....
but then, we speak of modesty and suddenly a bikini is wrong and (let's take it extreme here) we should just wear moomoos everywhere so as not to cause "temptation".
that's right. I read an article that spoke of choosing not to wear a bikini so as not to tempt our brothers in Christ.
sorry, but i'm not buying it. if a man is looking to be tempted...if a man is already in that state of mind, it doesn't take a bikini to get a man looking. he was looking long before then. and if you are truly worried about temptation, then maybe we should shut down the internet for men and stop magazines, too. for temptation is everywhere. sex sells...and it sells well.
and why draw a line at one piece suits as acceptable. really...the only difference is your tummy showing or not. you are still showing an awful lot of tempting skin. where do you draw the line with modesty? is it then, okay for a man to bare his chest? honestly, where does one draw the line clearly? are shorts okay? tank tops? what about covering your hair? i'm not being sarcastic here, though you may not know it.
i *think* the Bible talks about your hair being the glory of God.
modesty is a hard word to define.
I have worn a bikini since forever. I have a short torso; have you ever tried to find a bathing suit with a short torso and a unique body type? one that fits a extra small to small bottom and an large to extra large top? not quite as easy as the writer implies. in fact, i'm still looking, as I, too, LOVE the 50s style suits but I look like a child playing dress up when I try one on. it's comical really. the crotch of the suit will sometimes hang to my knees. so it's another reason I stick with the bikinis.
do I get looked at in a bikini? I've no idea. i'm not looking to be seen. I don't go anywhere to be seen. I am, however, looking to get a tan as the days of casually going to a tanning bed are long gone. I miss that warming of my joints. it did wonders for sore muscles! and my days are spent outside chasing after 2 children, while carrying a 3rd..and you know what? i'd like to get some sun while i'm out there. i'd also like to teach my daughter a healthy body image...while also teaching her that what other people think doesn't matter. (something I struggled deeply with growing up.)
did you know we don't own a scale in this home? I wont. it causes panic and stress and I don't really care where i'm at on a scale anymore. i'm happy and healthy and I couldn't ask for more.
the other writer, she made good points. some of which I agree with but I wont adhere to. she also posted pictures of herself looking flirty in her suit, which you can see here, I haven't done. (maybe some day..but not today)
I finally like my body. I enjoy bikinis and wearing them makes me feel a little better about myself. I wear them frequently around my house (no air conditioning makes for one warm home). we honestly don't go to public places where bathing suits are least not for the last 2 years. maybe this year will be different...but I wont be. bikinis have been around since bikini island...and you wont catch me "covering up" in 90+ degree heat and risking heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
so wear what you will. my idea is that your behavior speak volumes about you, rather than the clothes. I should know. I used to wear all black and I KNOW how I was treated then..until someone got to know me.
what really bugs me were more the comments under the article. lots of judging...lots of hating. women are a lot like cats. eventually the claws come out.
you cant very well call yourself modest and then gloat about what you wear or choose not to wear. just be yourself, worry about yourself. get yourself right with God. stop picking at the piece in my eye, and worry about your own...
besides that, I don't like people trying to touch my face.

Friday, May 24, 2013

what are you willing to give up

a lot of parents would love to be stay at home parents and a lot, including me, thought that dream to be impossible.
even now, i still have my doubts. we do make mistakes. but i know what it takes to succeed. it just takes a lot more discipline, something we are working on daily.

when i think about where arnie and i were pre children, i get a little angry with ourselves. actually i get more than a little angry. we were both working and we were basically throwing money down the drain. spending it on garbage that we didnt need, barely used, and was overpriced.

where we are now, i sometimes wish we had that income available to us again...but then i stop wishing. i'm happy with where we are now- we just have to work harder for it.

now, i cant guarantee you will convert successfully to staying at home, there is a lot more than budgeting that goes into staying at home..but i can give you some tips- after all, hindsight is 20/20.

if you are both working now, consider the hours you are away from home. then assess what you're paying for "in home". do you need cable? really?

some people at this point will cut bait and walk away. some simply cant live without american idol or dancing with the stars. i was leaning that way until we gave it up. after 2 days, i just didnt care "what happened next". i'm sure you wouldnt either. it's just a show...not your life. and i'd like to remind you that if you want something bad enough (staying at home), you'll take the necessary steps to make it happen....and honestly, if cable tv was the only sacrifice keeping you from staying home- i do not want to hear you complain about it when you decide to keep working. the flip side of no cable? more time to spend together- whether it's just you and your husband...or a whole house full of kids. spend time getting to know them. when you look back on life, would you rather say i saw all 200 seasons of Freaks and Geeks or that you spent real time laughing and loving your family?

while we were childless, we had the cable/internet/phone bundle that started out at $89 a month, and then jumped to around $130 a month after a year. we paid it because...well, i dont know...i'm still kicking myself over crap like this.

eventually, we gave up the home phone part of the bundle, thinking this would help save us money...and converted to cell phones. we started out simple. just calls only....and then slowly, we "needed" more. i wanted to text. we needed a data plan. we wanted to surf the internet on our phones...
but our phones were simple, so we needed to upgrade those.

soon, we were paying for cable, internet at home, and two cell phones with all the bells and whistles. i thought we switched to *save* money...not to pay more.

our phones cost us in total around $140 month, now that's on top of still paying for cable and home internet.

dont forget we still had the every day costs of gas in both vehicles, lunches being bought (because why would we pack...), groceries, snacks, and eating out. we also obviously had the household bills: water, sewer, garbage, gas heat, electric, our car payment, and a mortgage.

and then, we added a child to our mix. we didnt give up much. we didnt want to. we did add a new expense once i went back to work: day care....and let me tell you- it isnt cheap. $400 a month. but while she was there, she was educated, she was potty trained, she learned friendships, and so much more. i dont regret it. i'm just saying it was one heck of an expense.

to make a long story short, we added two more babies to the mix, rather quickly and not without complication. i was on bed rest and couldnt work...and then i didnt want to work once they came...

and then we started looking at how we could possibly save money. we did the math. day care was going to be all of my month's salary, plus $150 from Arnie's. we simply couldnt do that. i was becoming a stay at home mom by force- i wanted to- this was just more abrupt.

by then, we had paid off our car. one less expense. we decided to give up cable. we were barely watching it as it was. it didnt hurt nearly as bad as you think it did. in fact, we hardly noticed. we gave up the bundle all together. one more less expense. i shopped around for an internet for the home and found one that worked for us. $20 a month.

we realized that we really didnt need a contract phone...let alone 2. we gave them up when the contract ran out. another expense gone. we bit another bullet and bough a phone outright with our tax return and did the straight talk plan. $40 a month.

with 2 babies under 2, disposable diapers were insane. i looked into alternatives. i found a website that bases everything off of income.
thanks to we were supplied with cloth diapers for free (i paid a one time flat fee of $30 for shipping both ways- you do return them whenever you are done, no time limit). now, i also bought some additional diapers with our tax return simply for peace of mind, but it wasnt really needed and we could've done just fine on the free diapers.
*if you think cloth diapering is gross, you're preaching to the choir. i'll happily discuss the differences in diapering with you- pros, cons, etc.*

somewhere around here, we moved back home. arnie took a job for roughly the same pay he was already receiving but much better benefits and way better hours. rent was less than a mortgage and so another expense became a little less.

if you're wondering about boredom, there isnt much. we did "splurge" a little and bought netflix. it's $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming on multiple devices (at once). we also bought magic jack for a land line (a little more stability, less dropped calls) $40 for the YEAR. and by the way, it works great. the other day at the store, we splurged a little more and bought -it's $10 for the year. yeah. $10. and it was worth it. WAY worth it.

*you may also qualify for a free cell phone through your income. look up assurancewireless through google and apply there.

other corner cutting skills we've take on:
*making our own laundry detergent (occasionally, i havent take on this feat full time just yet, but it's working!)

*line drying whenever possible for a cut back on an electric bill

*making our own cleaning supplies (it's amazing what vinegar can do...and add in some natural lemons for a better scent and voila: homemade and safe to use around kids)

*making my own diaper inserts. not for everyone, but i can do makes me feel a little better creatively, and it makes life a little easier)

*cooking at home and from scratch on occasion. i havent done the "from scratch" thing a bunch, but i know it's healthier and when i have the time, i absolutely do it. we do real sit down meals instead of at the restaurant 'gosh i hope my kids dont have a break down and scream' scenario. cheaper and much more stress free.

*do the math on your purchases on everything. sometimes buying in bulk pays off...sometimes not. buy used on items where you know it's safe to buy used and buy new only when you can afford to truly 'pay' for it and when you know you truly NEED to.

*arnie takes his lunch to work. not always, but more often than not he does...and it's cheaper, saves us money, and keeps us from throwing out any leftovers.

*home schooling. not really to save money, but just to be closer as a family and to be sure that values are being instilled in my kids. God is a part of our lives and public school doesnt really "allow" that. it does cut down on expenses though: school clothes, shoes? not so much, only when needed. school lunches? nope. we're healthier at home. school fees? no. is free and extremely easy to execute.

we could most certainly make more cuts to our budget, we definitely need to be more disciplined in our budget now. the main point is even when you think you've got nothing else to cut- believe me, there's more. one of the self help books call it the latte factor. you just have to find yours. maybe it's a donut factor...or a pepsi factor...or a starbucks factor. find yours and figure out if it's worth it to you to give it up...whether you give it up every day, every other day...or once a week.

when you add up the monthly expenses we were paying, plus the rough averages for money going out to lunches, gas, eating out, and the differences in bills here vs. zanesville....we "save" $2500 every month by changing our lifestyles to the above list. i say "save" because we gave up those things- but i also gave up my job which was roughly that same amount. we traded, so to speak. and if i must say, we got the better end of that deal.

i get to stay at home with my kids. that wins over every time.

my suggestion to you is start doing all or some of this *before* you begin your stay at home adventure. start saving real money. put it away and dont touch it until a real live emergency occurs that requires money that wasnt budgeted out in your monthly plan.

and like i said, we occasionally make mistakes. we over spend in areas where we shouldnt, but also, like i said- it takes discipline. it IS a lifestyle change....

but it IS worth it.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

what do you do all day?.....

this blog is long and jumps topics several times. i apologize for this, but this is what happens when nap times of littles coincide. i can write...and i try to write quickly so as to get other things done during nap time. i'll try to round it off near the end of this blog, but like i said, it's lengthy and i climb a little on the soap box. no apologies for that. enjoy.

almost 9 years ago, i used to dream of being a stay at home mom. i looked at those who did/could with great envy and sometimes a little anger and jealousy. they would speak of how "busy" they were. how they didnt have "time" for anything and it would honestly piss me off.
try working nine hours, paying for daycare, and still having to come home and do all the crap every mom does. i was very bitter about working. i know the stress that comes with a mom that works. i know the feelings of guilt...and that guilt flies both ways.
what happens when your child is sick? you get a phone call at must must care for your child...and eventually send a child on the mend back to daycare (often times that child will be crying and begging to stay with you) while you must leave them and head back into the land of working adults...
and those working adults often look at you, working mommy, with disdain. (or at least it can feel that way)
"wow..must be nice to leave work no matter what's going on because your kid is running a fever.." or whatever ailment your kiddo caught. you ride both sides of the fence. it's a constant battle...that NEVER ends.
child cant sleep? doesnt matter, you're still up before dawn, and heading to work on minimal sleep and dont expect a lot of sympathy from the work force. (unless you are blessed with a fantastic work environment!)
and to top it all off, you will inevitably have stay at home mom friends who will at one time or another....complain. at sigh...and wish quietly for that lifestyle.

at least i did.

and then, whether by divine intervention (believe me, i prayed to stay at home) or by force of nature; while pregnant with Amelia, i was put on bed rest. i was forced out of the work force, so to speak.

i thought i would welcome bed rest with open arms, but as the days crept by, i began to wish i could go back to work. but it never happened. so boredom got the best of me and i started budgeting. we were barely surviving but we were surviving.

when amelia was born, i didnt want to go back. i couldnt fathom leaving her. so arnie and i talked and talked and talked...and we decided that between paying for daycare and other bills, that it wouldnt be worth it for us for me to continue working.

so i became what i always wished i could be....the holiest of holy grails:   a stay at home mom

and life continued to happen. it took me a while (months and months) to adjust to the idea that i was not going back to work...and each time i told myself that i wasnt going back, my heart skipped a beat.

what would i do with all my time??
see, i had told myself while working, that if i ever became a stay at home mom, i would do house chores with glee. i would happily do piles of laundry and mountains of dishes if i could just stay home.

and here i was...staying at home.

amelia was only 4 months old when we became pregnant with cain. see what happens when you cut your budget and there isnt cable tv? ;)

being pregnant, dealing with morning sickness, and a baby, and the house's demands (we had just moved!) was insane. i sort of went insane. arnie was home very little in those days as his job as a truck driver meant unpredictability so he had to make hay while the sun shined. i let my hormones rule the house. i was scary mean some days. where was the angelic me that i had promised would be around, should i get to be a stay at home mom??
i'm sure my husband was begging for an answer to that question.

and then...i added more to my plate. i wasnt juggling enough balls. i needed more things to while lily's school pushed and pushed about her behavior, i stopped listening and decided to home school her. i was "home" after all...why the heck wouldnt i choose a God centered education that would focus 100% on lily's pace of learning??

so i did. and then i decided to cut out more budget eating monsters,: i would cloth diaper. two babies equal lots of disposable diapers..and they arent cheap. so cloth diapering became part of our lifestyle too. mountains of laundry? yep, i was climbing Everest at this point.

now, i need to stop at this point and talk about something. at walmart, i started off an evening worker and i worked my way up from there. i invested 8 years of my life into that company and was promoted from evening worker, to meat dept associate, to dept manager of pets, to dept manager of toys, to Zone Merchandise Supervisor, where i became responsible for all of Grocery, beer, pop, and water, paper goods and chemicals, pets, over the counter pharmacy, and health and beauty aids. when someone asked me what i did, i had no problem telling them. i had a lot of responsibility...and a lot of stress.

now, i was staying at home. it was a shock. i had to stop myself when someone asked me what i did from saying nothing. i know i wasnt doing "nothing"...but i struggled with it. what i was doing 'in home' was much more important, but it's still a fight in my head to see that i'm not taking the easy road. i'm finally doing the work that i love and i'm not getting paid for it. i'm being loved in exchange. i'm seeing my children grow and that's something i'll never regret or question.

i fight a lot in my head about what i'm doing. i've locked myself into this position of being a stay at home mom. i'm somewhat anchored to the house and tethered to our children. so where a working mom can go out and have "adult" lunches through their work week, i'm making spaghettios, cleaning up cheerios, and dancing a silly dance to keep a baby laughing. if i put forth a lot of effort, i could go out too, but most days, i'd rather be here.

so...what do i do all day? i wake up when Amelia and Cain wake up. usually around 8am (on a good day)
i change them, get them dressed for the day, and spend about 20-25 minutes in our nursery/closet (while they play on the floor) putting away all the clothes from left over laundry. we are blessed enough to fit all the family's clothes in that room nicely and i cannot stress how convenient that is!--no trips up stairs!!

we move into the kitchen where i wash sippies and any other left over dishes from the night before while the babies snack on cheerios and play on the floor. i make my breakfast (usually bacon) which is shared with both Amelia and Cain now...two bacon lovers after my own heart.

i then start laundry and about this time, Lily comes downstairs for her breakfast..and unless i'm feeling particularly froggy (making pancakes or something), she has peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, toast, applesauce, or cereal- something she can easily obtain herself.

once Lily is finished, school begins. (although now school is done) it's also time for diaper changes.
i try to balance entertaining Amelia and Cain while overseeing Lily's online work/book work and reading with her where ever i can..and doing all testing that's required. About an hour to two hours into this it's diaper changing time and nap time. Amelia goes to her bed and Cain gets held until he falls asleep and then he gets laid on his daytime "nest" in the living room.

Lily has lunch, i have lunch, and while the babies nap, i do laundry - if it's nice, i hang clothes to dry. if the babies arent napping together, Amelia walks outside with me to hang clothes while Lily watches Cain.

we finish up with school, we do some play time. i do any additional dishes. *note- i dont like to let dishes pile up on me, i do much better with small amounts of dishes...which is why i do it this way. i also put up any laundry that has finished drying in the dryer if i can (mostly towels, socks, and underwear, which are kept in our bathroom- which we've been blessed to have such a spacious one that all that fits comfortably in!)
this is the time in which i can do God time, light cleaning, writing a blog, or reading a book.

IF both babies have napped, they tend to wake up at the same time and when they do, it's  diaper changing time and time for them to eat.

here's where a day gets dicey. it should be about 3pm or 4pm and here, it could go two ways. if lily has practice or a game, we begin packing and getting ready to leave. if lily doesnt have a game, then we fly by the seat of our pants. if it's nice and everyone's in a good mood, it's outside time! if it's raining, it's movie/book time until about 6-6:30...
then diapers get changed again...and i attempt to make a dinner for when arnie will be home. then eventually, we have dinner, we watch a movie or two or play a game, do more diaper changes...and bed time which point it starts all over again.

everything changes if we have trips to town, which tend to happen directly after waking up in the morning- that way, by the time we get home, it's nap time and it just makes everything easier.

i guess i'm busy..but i'm not, "oh my gosh, my day is so full, i never going to get anything done- 'busy'". every mother, i'm sure, is different...and has tons of different things they're juggling. my days are pretty easy when i compare them to working at walmart. and i can deal with a toddler's screaming fits much easier than i can that of an adult whose badge was bigger than mine, metaphorically speaking. there are stresses everywhere. i enjoy these stresses of home life much more.

i'm blessed that i can be here and stay home, and i try not to knock it too much or complain. i have the utmost respect for working moms. i've done that shift, and i know your heartache. all i can say is if you are happy where you are, then dont let anyone- anyone- give you guff for it. you are doing the best thing you can do for your baby (or babies). and if you still feel that ache inside you that tells you that you should be home, then sit down and work out the numbers. have long talks with your spouse about expectations should your situation change. make phone calls, look up research online (there are tons of staying at home when you can barely afford it links)

bottom line is: know what will make you happy and fight for it. in the end, you'll feel and see the difference in your life.

happy home making folks. :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

trying to land the helicopter

whenever i ask Lily what she would like to do some day, her answers are always wild:
chase tornadoes, study volcanoes, see an earthquake, swim with sharks.

it is in these moments that i realize that i have become...a mom.

when arnie asks me what i would do if we won the lottery, my answer is simple: buy a home with just enough space, buy an RV and travel the country.

since i was young, i've loved to read and from that love of reading came a thirst for knowledge. since having children, i deal with this by watching loads of documentaries, the history channel, and the biography channel (and some animal planet!) -reading books these days is a true luxury; finding a book after starting it is a treasure hunt that could last days.

when i hear "chase tornadoes", i think of debris, rain wrapped tornadoes (hard to see until they're on you), i think F5 on the fujita scale, i think "oh my goodness, the danger that would come with such a job!"

when i hear "study volcanoes", i think of Pompeii, i think Mt St Helens, i see clouds of ash and poison filled gasses. i think massive eruptions and no time to escape.

when i hear "see an earthquake", i think the burning of San Francisco. i see mass destruction: gas line breaks, endless fires, crumbled buildings and missing people.

when i hear "swim with sharks", i hear only ridiculousness. i see Jaws, i hear the music. i see shark attack victims. i see dark, open water. i think scuba diving accidents. i think "when animals attack".

can you hear the helicopter yet? yes, i am a helicopter rehab, trying to land.

when Lily says tornadoes, she thinks adventure. she wants to see and feel mother nature in full force. she sees the beauty in lightening (i do, too..just from a distance). she sees wonderment in funnel clouds.
she sees Hawaiian islands in volcanoes. she sees science in an eruption. she sees the massive power of an explosion and wants to know more.
when she says she wants to see an earthquake, i see the "red cross" come out in her. i watch her as she watches documentaries and i see her dismay as some people run away...when she sees people being left behind. she wants to know why we cant "predict" an earthquake (the same for the volcano) and why we havent figured more out about fault lines.
when she says she wants to swim with sharks, she sees excitement. she believes whole-heartedly in living life to its fullest and last drop and while i cannot concur that swimming with sharks would be worth it...i shake my head and listen to the energy in her voice when she talks about what she wants to do.

i'm told i watch too many documentaries. i'm told i read too much. i argue that knowledge is something we should never stop acquiring, but i do see their point. i see danger in everything: from roller coaster rides to swimming in open water; and i see a lot of it based on the things i've watched and read.

so this year, i'm trying to hold myself back and bite my tongue more often. i'm trying to educate Lily on the things she loves and finds excitement in so that *should* she actually decide to take that path, then maybe some of my caution will have rubbed off on her.

see, when i say buy an RV and travel the country, Lily sees area 51, California, Mt St Helens. i see not straying too far off the beaten path. i see earthquakes in California (i'd just avoid that state altogether), i see the chance of a violent volcano, i see desert and i think broken down RV, dehydration, death. yeah...i need help. :)

Lily's teaching me caution can hold you back from the fun stuff, so i'm trying to reach a goal of a happy medium...and trying like heck to land this helicopter; because i've read hovering can actually cause crashes and the chance of survival from a helicopter crash is slim without massive injury..and i hate heights...and.... (hehehe)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

i am a mommy girl living in a mommy world.

i had always hoped that when high school ended that the whole competition thing would end. i had hoped that there wouldnt be the comparison of "you did this? oh, well, alllow me to one up you."

apparently, i was blissfully ignorant to the world of grown up girls. i say girls because i want to show a difference between the girls i encounter and the women i call friends.

becoming a mother was (a defining moment in my life) but an utter blur. i remember very little about lily's infant moments and that hurts. i dont know why i dont remember...i just dont. i remember her first night she cried and cried. how i had no help when it came to feeding her. i was uneducated and so was my husband. we were lost and i had no idea who to turn to. i ache when i think back to those days and what i know now. how i hope no one else will ever be as ignorant as we were. i needed help and i never even asked.
i didnt heed the advice or warnings of anyone. i was burnt out on well wishers and dooms dayers. you encounter a lot of both when you are very visably pregnant.

the second time around, after a loss, i took everyone's advice. i looked for help. i joined groups. i asked questions, i read books. there's no such thing as too much information. i read avidly on different facebook/internet groups of moms and moms to be....and it was those "groups" i had joined that i was introduced to the dark, dark world of mommy hatred.

there are more cliques in mommy world than there are in high school. there's tons of resentment, judgement, smack talk, and so much passive aggressiveness that i truly felt like i had stumbled down a rabbit hole of hatred.

i thought that if you were a mom or a mom to be, that you would be supported- because as i learned the first time around, we ALL need some help...and there's always someone who is willing to give you advice.

but that isnt the case. if you use disposable diapers, you will be judged. if you are a stay at home mom, you will be judged. if you go back to work, you will be judged. if you (for whatever reason) formula feed, you will be judged. if you breast feed (extended-especially) you will be judged. if you breast feed privately only, you will be judged. if you dont feed solids until your baby is 1, you will be judged. if you use cow's milk after the age of 1, you will be judged. if you vaccinate, you will be judged. if you choose to circumsize your son, you will be judged. if you choose public school, you will be judged.

and not only will be harshly criticized. i read in disbelief the hurtful things these girls were writing. these strangers...who were answering an unknown mother's questions. this poor woman was being berated...and it just-kept-going.

it became a train wreck that i couldnt turn away from. i had to go back and read more. there were so many reasons for moms to hate other moms. i had no idea. i began to look at everyone differently. while i was standing in line at the grocery store, i would silently glance around at other women and wonder if everyone thought like that. is everyone really that hateful and judgemental?

i was guarded before...but now, i'm even more so. i dont trust girls. no matter how friendly they may seem, i keep my distance. i'm kind to everyone, but friends? eh...not so much. i've seen too much comparisons among moms. "oh your 12 month old isnt walking yet? mine was walking at 7 months...maybe there's something wrong with your kid."

i'm wrapped up in a world of home schooling, child rearing, trying to keep the house remotely clean, laundry, and teething babies.

i know friendships are important and it's not that i dont have time. i really dislike when people say those words. there's always time. to me, right now, there are just more important things to tend to that make me happy. maybe i'll make some friends...i'm just not actively searching or seeking them out.

i've learned a few things from these groups.

*dont judge anyone. everyone is walking their own path with their own problems. their choices affect you in no way whatsoever. show kindness and wish them well. sometimes people only need a smile or some friendly words to brighten their day

*every child develops at their own pace. you are the best judge of whether something is developmentally wrong with your child. i've learned that my kids are slow to come around. they are on the other end of the stick...eventually they hit the mean time, i enjoy these baby days that dont last long and i dont force them to 'grow up'.

*treat everyone as you would want to be treated. maybe even go so far as to speak to others as if your grandma were sitting beside you. there's no need for meaness.

*give them support. they're on that site...asking for help because they feel lost and they are reaching out. even if you dont understand their situation, try to show support or even just keep your mouth shut.

it's rare that i frequent those sites anymore. i look occassionally...especially when i see potty training advice/picky eaters/feeding large families on a budget. and dont get me wrong, there are some great sites out there and what's even better is when they have great moderators that keep the meaness to a minimum.

bottom line: try to ask real people that you know the questions that you have. ask your mom, your grandma, your aunt, your sister (in law), your dad, your brother.
and even more important: have doctors in your life that you trust. i happen to have 2 extraordinarily awesome doctors in my life whom i trust whole heartedly.

i mean, honestly, who would you take sound advice from? a stranger on the internet, or the doctor whom you see on a regular basis? use your head here, folks...only one of them can actually make you feel better should you catch the flu. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

gun control

while reading through history, one does not read about mass shootings from random citizens (with any regularity) until the 1900s. guns were around long before then. my opinion, though i know mine doesnt count (i am not a gun owner) is that guns are not the problem. we, as human beings, raising other human beings, have failed to teach accountability. we have failed to teach quality and value of life.

i see it daily. if a child does wrong and you ask why? what do they typically do? they point at other children and say incredulously, "they were doing it. they didnt get in trouble."

if you ask someone in prison, "why did you commit this crime?" they rarely take ownership of their deeds. they point fingers at their mean father, their over-bearing mother...or their lack of parents and the poor state of group homes and even poorer state of foster families. they say "i was abused." they say "i was bullied." they do not say, "i did this because i was angry and i acted out without care of concern for anyone."
there are plenty of people who were brought into this world in depraved conditions, who've witnessed the murder of their own families, who've survived when no one should have...and they did not grab a gun and go on a spree.
when mass murder happens, the news will flash that murderer, his name, and his life all over the media for weeks, months, and even years. as spectators, we watch, gap-jawed and unable to turn away. the news feeds on our morbid fascination and digs deeper: "what was his childhood like? what was his mother/father like? why why why?"
instead of giving these murderers notoriety and teaching our children that these terrible acts can earn you instant celebrity and a free psychoanalysis, why cant we turn our children's focus on some success and how hard work and a fierce determination to overcome the odds is rewarding beyond words?
look at the boy down the road who is deaf, wore hearing aids, and went to regular school. he was looked at funny, singled out, and sometimes made fun of, but he turned the other cheek, focused on what mattered, and now...he's a doctor.
what about the girl who was in a car accident and was told repeatedly there was no hope. that she would never walk again: 2 years of painful rehabilitation, lots of tears and sweat...she just took her first steps two weeks ago.
we need to teach our children that life, no matter how young or how old, no matter the odds---life matters. life is worth living and always worth saving.
teach by action. our children are always watching. if we cannot handle our anger without acting out in violence, then our children will mirror our actions.
guns are not the problem. we, as a society, have been. let's show our future generations how to overcome when the odds are stacked against us.
picture a toddler. a toddler cannot articulate their frustration, they get angry, they pick up a toy, and they throw it. if left alone, they will continue this. if you simply take that toy away without saying anything, without doing anything, that toddler will pick up another toy and throw it. you must use words. you must educate. once you've done that, you can surround that toddler with toys and that toddler will not throw any of them.
dont take away the guns. we're still left with hands that can do harm- either on their own- or with whatever object is within their reach.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Trophy Child (Ted Cunningham) book review

As a parent, I think we can all agree that we only want the best for our children.
In the book, Trophy Child, Ted Cunningham, the author, helps us see the real and true definition of what that "best" is.
Trophy Child takes you by the hand and walks you through some of Mr. Cunningham's own family experiences- no matter how cringe worthy they may be. This book doesn't feel as though you're being scolded as a bad parent for getting caught up in the world's "bests"; it feels more like a meeting of two close friends helping hold each other accountable to the Bible's calling of being a mother or father.

As a parent to a child who is socially and athletically active, this book convicted my heart on more than one level.

Mr. Cunningham talks about knowing our limits (our own, as well as each member of our family) and to refrain from adding more and more activities to fill every minute of every day.

He provides simple strategies for maintaining margin in our family's lives, he doesn't really care so much for your parenting style so much as as he cares about your family values, your balancing, and your ablilty to prioritize your relationship with God.

Every chapter ends with a parent gut check; bringing the whole chapter home to you. I personally LOVE that. It's like a friendly little reminder- "You know this was for you, right? Make sure you're bringing this home, literally and figuratively."

This book is full of parenting jewels and gems that I will use from here on out. I cannot wait to reread this book again with my husband.

My personal reccomendation?

Don't just buy this book to read it, utilize it.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

bringing out the troll in all of us

what is it about the internet that turns us into the cruelest versions of ourselves? if you were to take a look at any opinionated stance on a hot button issue (vaccinating babies, circumcision, God in schools, republican vs. democrat, etc.) you will see that people dont respond politely- hardly ever.
i rarely- if ever- see a comment that goes something like this: "thank you for sharing how you feel on this topic and why you feel the way you, now, i would love to share my view with you and why i hold that view; maybe we can get together for coffee and dig a little deeper into the issue?"
nope. normally i see a LOT of name calling, harsh words, and just blatant anger towards someone for not seeing things the way they do.

now, i'm not innocent in this matter. i, too, have gone off the deep end when replying to someone. i try to censor myself, check myself, and breathe before replying, but sometimes, the faceless wall that is the internet takes me by the hand and i become...a 5 year old that wants to pinch the soft part of their arm (about 3 inches above the elbow) and call them a doody head.

i cant help it. i get angry..dont we all, sometimes? mostly, i lose my cool when someone starts calling you an idiot or worse (a poor parent) for your beliefs and choices. for example, some parents- especially the "crunchy" or granola-type parents, see circumcision as cruel, inhumane, and just an out right form of terrible torture. we'll call crunchy parent, parent A. so when someone replies-parent B- with a statement, "we circumcised our son due to our religious beliefs, we were there for it, he never reacted as though he was in pain, he healed nicely, and we've had no issues since then." parent A, claiming cruelty, goes defcon 5. you, my dear parent B, have just unknowingly entered yourself into war...and while you may have a few folks come to your defense; parent A will have an army of trolls seek you out, find you on other sites, and hound you incessantly.

which causes me to take step back and ask- what are these people like in real life? have i met these types? the ones who will almost stalk you with anger and name calling simply because you dont see eye to eye with them? how do they behave day to day? do they have children? how do they react when one of them disagrees with them??

recently, wsaz has been running a story about a picture of Jesus in school and a group of folks wanting it taken down. now, let me be clear, i'm not following this story. havent watched any part of it on tv. i've only seen postings on facebook about it. i clicked on the comments and it actually scared me how angry people- adults- are reacting to this. angry, personal attacks on one another.

which leads me to ask: who raised these people?? did the parents fail? who taught them that this was acceptable behavior?? what makes them think that talking/typing this way is okay?

when i was in first grade, we would say a prayer as a class before going to lunch. "God is great, God is good...etc" i loved that. i still remember this prayer, word for word. i taught it to my daughter. she says it before all her meals.

thanks to our church and our families God is a part of my children's lives. public school? not so much. Perry elementary (when Lily attended there) was okay with any and all talk about God- which i thought was awesome, but not necessary.

why isnt it necessary? because a love of God should be formed in a child's heart, cultured, and nurtured by those who love her to prepare her for the outside world. you cannot force others to love will...freedom of choice...however sad it may be, some folks simply choose to walk away from the truth. and we're teaching Lily that (as we will Amelia and Cain).

so should they take the picture of Jesus down? if you ask me, no...i dont think so. i'm old-school and i dont like change. change bugs me...but that's one of my quirks.
but would i be just as okay with a picture of allah hanging in a school? honestly, i dont know. i know that Lily wouldnt care and i wouldnt "worry" about a photo convincing Lily to leave God. she's smarter than that.

i think some people just really need attention and have no idea how to get positive essence, they never outgrew their terrible twos phase. and so, you end up with these super angry comments from these folks who will literally haunt a post awaiting your reply so they can get more irate and belligerent.

i guess you need to go back to the old adage that our mothers and grandmothers taught us: if you dont have something nice to say, then dont say anything at all. and if your mother didnt teach you that, take it under advisement now. it's a wise choice.

Friday, January 4, 2013

moments when i should be sleeping...

some days i still catch myself getting lost in grief.
i'll see a picture of Lily smiling in july 2010. it's a crazy, open, laughing smile. a smile that doesnt know real sadness. a smile that knows no loss. i can date most pictures by looking at them. our faces have changed. everything has changed.
just a picture pre-august 2010 can still send me reeling. it will place me right back in the er, staring helplessly back and forth at arnie and at Lily who was standing near the end of my bed.

but that's not why i'm writing this.

i'm writing this because every day, i find something new to be thankful for. Amelia wouldnt be here if i hadnt went through that storm of grief. i simply wouldnt have her.
i truly believe that Amelia was sent directly from heaven above to me. she is my clown. she makes me laugh nonstop. it doesnt matter what kind of day i have, she can put a smile on my lips and laughter in my lungs. i dont think she even tries, she's just naturally a total character. she's made funny faces since the day she was born. now she poses, dances, yells, talks, and sings to me.
when i get upset and raise my voice, Amelia is the first one to make me laugh before i can get mad. she'll follow me around and mimic everything i do, making me laugh and realize- i'm ridiculous when i'm mad...and by the way, dont we all feel better when we laugh?
she's a total ball of energy that can wear you down quickly, but i tell you, however relieved i am that she's taking a nap, minutes into it, i find myself missing her and watching a clock for the time for her to wake up.
she's started walking much more now. she loves walking towards me and at the very last minute spinning around and walking away- chuckling at my fake dismay. she'll smile knowingly when she knows she's about to make me laugh. for a 18 month old, she's wise beyond her year(s).
and little man. he is so very special. Cain has hugged me and clung to me since day one. even as he sleeps, he reaches for my finger, my hand, my arm..something to hold. he will often raise his eyebrows at me, as if even at his young age, he cannot believe what a total sap his mommy is. he giggles when i kiss his cheeks. he steals my heart daily. i find myself marveling at the man he will become. i whisper to him to never change his sweetness, and if he must, to simply become sweeter.
and if you know me, you might be wondering where Lily is in all this. well, Lily put this all back in perspective for me one day when i was feeling sad. it was as if she had read my mind. she was playing with Amelia and just said- out of the blue- that while losing the baby made her sad, she was thankful because now we have Amelia..and we wouldnt have her at all if we hadnt gone through that.

so the point isnt that we've gone through dark days, the point is we MADE it through together and we're stronger and so much more thankful for everything.
Baby smiles, baby giggles, and holding hands are things that i live for.

so hug your children. hug them until they tell you to stop. dont ever look back and wish you'd hugged more. be thankful for every moment and on bad days, make a list of things that make you smile.

there are some nights when i am beat down tired...the day has been hard, nothing went right, and i know sleep cant come soon enough...
but instead, i stand still, silent, and i listen to the sound of sleeping babies. Cain, who chuckles and belly laughs in his sleep and Amelia who snores like an old man, and sometimes talks. i stand and i marvel at the gifts God has blessed me with.
i cannot hold onto anger, sadness, or frustration from the day or from the past when i take in these moments for what they truly are:
gifts from God.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

we're not gonna take it...NO we're not gonna take it...we're not gonna take it anymore...

i've just read this article entitled "how to talk to little girls" and now i'm just angry with society.
the article talks about how we shouldnt start a conversation with a little girl by telling her how darn cute she is. apparently, telling her she's adorable will set her up for eating disorders, an overwhelming urge to get plastic surgery, and a general overall bad feeling about themselves....all because you noticed she was pretty.
the article also talks about how nearly 50% of 3-6 years old worry about being fat. mascara and lip stick are being worn on a regular basis before the age of 12.


see, i was under the impression that as a parent of little girls...i would set the standard for beauty.
i was also under the impression that since these kids aren't even teenagers, I would most certainly have a say so over when and where my girls can and will (if EVER, at these ages) wear make up.

i was unaware that telling my girls i think they're flipping adorable would cause harm and i'm basically killing their self worth with every compliment i give.

i really loath articles that tell me how i should talk to my children. it makes me angry when a writer tries to scare me with statistics and warnings of what my children will turn into if i dont heed their warnings right now.

my children are NOT statistics. you learn to not be a statistic when you're facing down illnesses (that statistically don't give you long to live) every day. dont base your future off numbers based off studies controlled by people who

i've taught my children that beauty is everywhere because everything and everyone is made by God. if God made it, it IS beautiful. i've taught them to never EVER make fun of someone for their looks. looks are unique and only a small part of what makes someone special.

lily learned a lesson in beauty a few years ago when i used an analogy of an old building (one that i fell in love with) in pt pleasant, wv...that was torn down. i showed her pictures of it when it was in its prime, i showed her pictures of it when i was in high school and i trespassed to get those pictures and marvel at its beauty...and finally i showed her the spot where it used to stand. she almost cried. we drive by there every now and then and she comments on how empty the place seems now. i have to agree.
not everyone saw that place as beautiful and it was torn down. i told her to NEVER let someone tear her down...because..well...look at what's left behind.

lastly, if I wear make up, it's mascara. if i wear more than that, it is seriously a special occasion. every now and then, i let Lily play with my makeup. to me, it's part of being a little girl. she also will wear my heels. we laugh, we take pictures, and we have a great time.
oh, and also, my 10 year old has caught glimpses of america's next top model and YES, she wants to be on it. you know why? to make sure ALL the girls know they're beautiful, and also, she wants to prove that a smart girl can win, too.
i tell my children they are gorgeous. ALL THE TIME.
i'm going to make sure when they get to that point where i'm no longer within ear shot, if some idiot says something hurtful about their looks, it will roll off them like it's NOTHING..because they'll know how beautiful they are.
because their mom told them so. because their family tells them so. because strangers tell them in grocery stores.
telling a kid they're cute is NOT harmful, lisa bloom, but telling parents to conform to society's expectations- yeah. i'd say that's tantamount to drinking the koolaid.
grow a pair of lady balls and think for yourself. define beauty for your children because if you dont, some dumb ass writer for the huffington post will gladly define it for them. who do you want your kids looking up to and believing in?
RAISE your own kids. dont bother me with your semantics.