Tuesday, April 28, 2015

be prepared

While driving today, I saw a sign that I had seen a hundred times before in various places: "Be Prepared to Stop." I knew then that I would be coming up on a part of the road that was under construction, and I may have to wait a bit before it was my turn to drive.

As I sat behind a few cars, waiting on the flaggers to let us through, I realized that the reason I felt calm in this situation rather than frustrated was because I had been prepared to stop. I knew that an obstacle to my drive was coming, and my heart was prepared to handle the inconvenience peacefully.

If only someone had waved one of those signs in front of my face when I was pregnant! Living with a small child is like driving on a road with construction every mile or so. You have to realize that it is temporary, and that growth will bring positive change.

In our house, the dishes are one of the major sources of stress and arguments. We do not have a dishwasher, and there are about a thousand things I'd rather do than spend time scrubbing food off of dishes. However, since I do stay home, I usually end up being the one responsible for dishes and most of the other household chores. Everly is not on board with this arrangement. She will happily play in her jumping gym for an hour while I sit beside her and do work or art, but if I am moving around the house and she is tired/grumpy/hungry, she will let me know until I come pick her up. This poses a problem when I am washing dishes or cleaning the bathroom. My hands are wet and soapy and I do not want to start over with a fresh batch of dishwater, but I put down the sponge, wipe off my hands, and hold my baby.

That's where I meet the Lord. He speaks to my Martha heart and shows me that all the work can wait while I stare at my sleeping baby's sweet cheeks as I rock her in the afternoon. The work is meant to enable this time. This little bouncing bundle of chubs is going to grow up into a young lady who is able to close her bedroom door and shut me out. I need to prepare myself when I am working to stop and rest with her, because it is temporary and priceless.

Now listen, I'm not advocating that you throw in the towel on your housework and watch Netflix with your baby all day. I'm telling you that the best houses are those that are lived in happily. As a stay at home parent, a working parent, or a work at home parent, know that this time in your life will be filled with roadblocks in the form of a needy little snuggler, and that it is good and right for the work to wait.

Be prepared to stop, and stop when the time is right.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

what women should do

The other day I was having breakfast with Everly at a local bagel place, and a group of sorority girls began smiling and waving at her. I thought nothing of it; she's a super cute baby and we get hounded everywhere we go.

Next thing I know, I'm overhearing a loud conversation about why none of those girls want to be me.

"I could never be a stay at home mom. They just like, clean and read a magazine."

(One girl starts acting like she's made of plastic, doing a princess wave, insinuating that stay at home moms are silly.)

I was shocked. They had just spoken to my sweet little girl, and here they are less than 10 feet away from me berating my choice of lifestyle. I posted about it on Facebook and got a huge response, and I realized that we have strong feelings in our society about What Women Should Do. We want to "have it all" and all is just too much for me.

what women should do (as society says)

wake up like this
be attractive
but not too slutty
catch a good man
but be independent
have a great career
have children
have a natural birth
but lose the baby weight in 6 weeks
feed them organic food that you grew without pesticides in your pinterest perfect garden
dress them in teeny designer outfits
avoid gluten, dairy, and sugar
but treat yoself with a frappe and pastry
have friends
keep your husband satisfied
make time for yourself
but also martyr yourself in the name of good parenting

And these are just the standards of the culture that I have chosen to participate in. All over this country, women find ways to judge each other based on what we do or don't do.

The standards are ridiculous and unattainable. We are basing our lives off of results rather than roots. The roots of a happy life are as follows:

1. Love yourself.
2. Love others.
3. Be around people who love you, and don't let the haters get you down.

By taking these three steps in order, all of the other things will follow.

three steps to being an awesome person

1. Love yourself:
Work out just because it makes you feel happy.
Treat yourself but eat healthy foods to take care of your body.
Believe in your dreams and follow them because you know you are worth it.
Take time to listen to your own heart and the Lord's heart for you, because they hold answers to many of the questions that stress you out.

2. Love others:
Kids will be fine if you make decisions with love and not fear. Don't worry about so much. Every single person you see around you was once a baby and they made it.
Spend time and energy with your husband.
Invest in your friendships. I feel like the investment is so underrated; we seem to think that meeting up for coffee once and not becoming instant bosom buddies is a failure on our part, but friendships take time and intention. 
*note: to properly love someone, you have to love yourself first. You want to give them the best in the world, so start believing that you are the best version of yourself and give them that.

3. Be around people who love you, and don't let the haters get you down.
If you surround yourself with people who love you, this becomes a cyclical list.

love yourself--> give love --> receive love --> realize just how worthy of love you are (answer: very worthy)--> love yourself more.

(don't let the haters get you down is self-explanatory.)

After all that, I feel like the biggest thing to takeaway from this incident is that you never know a mom's situation, and so should only provide support (as long as she's not hurting anyone.) When in doubt, just love.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

bare necessities

Today was a tough one. Everly has been teething again, and I have put my foot down on sleep training and am being ruthless in not picking her up. Unfortunately, she's developed a hoarse voice from all the screaming, and it is so pitiful and cute that Everett can't stop himself from giving in to her demands. Needless to say, we're all exhausted. Everly and I spent today resting; walking down to our neighborhood's pond to watch the geese and get some vitamin D, and snuggling while watching Netflix and breastfeeding.

About an hour ago, however, I reached my limit of how long I could stay in my pjs. I don't know about everyone else, but I get so sick and lazy feeling if I don't get up and get ready for the day. To combat those feelings, I got dressed at 5 pm, did my hair and makeup, and cleaned a little with some nice smelling products like Mrs. Meyers. It took me only a few minutes to feel so much better, so I thought I'd share my essentials to a daily routine here.


(from left to right)

1. Hairspray-- I know I'm becoming a southern mama because I don't feel right unless my hair is fluffed and sprayed.

2. Dove dry spray (or any deodorant)-- I bought this on a whim when I was feeling like treating myself (oh how times have changed when $5 deodorant is treating yourself) and I love it.

3. Lipstick-- A swipe of a shade slightly darker than your natural lip color will leave you feeling refreshed and put together.

4. Tinted moisturizer-- For covering up dark circles and keeping my skin from flaking off (TMI maybe, but breastfeeding can be really dehydrating!)

5. Perfume-- I'm not gonna lie, I keep this by the door for last minute freshening.

You may have noticed how several of my picks have some sort of fragrance. That is not accidental. Motherhood can be very smelly.

tools of the trade

I posted a while back about the top pieces of baby gear that I recommended, but today I'm letting you in on the few essentials I need for my personal survival, self care, and general functionality.

(from left to right)

1. Markers/pens/pencils-- I write things down all the time. I need them to look pretty. I don't ever carry a pen if I don't like how it writes; what's the point in providing your own writing utensil if it's not attractive to revisit?

2. Phone-- I know, I know. iMommying is not the best route. However, there are a few apps I use on a regular basis that I need for sanity purposes:
  • Afterlight-- for editing photos on the go; makes my instagram look pretty.
  • Chatbooks-- I am in LOVE with this app/service. You subscribe to your instagram feed, and every 60 pictures you post, you get sent a book for only $6! It's $6 per book, not per month so you can go at whatever pace you want. I use it to get my pictures offline and to send copies to grandparents. (You can exclude any pictures from the book that you don't want to print, i.e. giveaway reposts)
  • Forest-- This one is fun and helps me to be less plugged in. I know what you're thinking, an app that reduces your screen time? In Forest, you "plant" a virtual tree and set a timer for its growth. If you close out the app and try to access other things, the tree dies. To collect a forest full of trees, you have to be totally unplugged from your phone for self-determined periods of time. It's great. I probably only have 2 trees so far because I do so much of my business on my phone, but I'm going to try to do better. 
3. Notebook-- I have a ton of cheapo little notebooks scattered around my living spaces, because I need to write things down all the time. I always feel like inspiration strikes hardest when I am on the go, so my notebooks go with me.

I hope this little list can help you find some sanity on those days where you look at the baby with your hair frazzled and circles under your eyes, and think, "I'm glad you're so cute."

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