Guest Blog: Sarah the Supermom

A little less than a year ago I learned that a friend of my brother and sister-in-law’s, lives quite close to us. I had seen photos of them together out in California so I was surprised and excited to see she was on this side of the country, and even in the same state! Through some stalking browsing on Facebook, I learned that she not only had a beautiful little girl, but twins on the way! So, being the creeper that I am I reached out to her, explained the connection, and made it known that I had every intention of continuing to stalk her adorable family, and hoped that we could some day have an official meeting. That was some months ago and now that the twins are here I decided this mama’s baby-wrangling expertise would be perfect for the blog. I asked her to write about what it’s like being a mother of three {under the age of 2} and she was awesome enough to oblige with this wonderful glimpse into her heart.
She’s a God-fearing mama, who credits everything to the love and sacrifice of Christ, with a cool, calm, and collected head on her shoulders, taking things one day at a time. If you are not a religious person, or a mother for that matter, I encourage you to read anyway. I think her sense of serenity for all that life throws at us could be an inspiration to just about anyone.
Plus her name is also Sarah {I don’t discriminate against ‘h-ers’} so she’s double-y awesome. Enjoy!

Elmers

Photo from The Black Sheep Studio

Everyone is asleep!  And by everyone, I mean my 16 month old daughter Vivien, and my 4 month old twins: Elijah and Evelyn.  They are all listening to lullabies and enjoying their mid afternoon naps.

On a perfect day, simultaneous sleeping can happen up to three times.  And it does happen some days.  These are the moments when my mind races through the zillion things that I have dreamt of achieving hoping to settle on one that I may accomplish before someone wakes up.  I am being taught to get in my Bible.  It’s hard though. Sometimes I can only read a verse or two before my mind is swept away into the thoughts of “Is that a baby?  Wait, when was the last time the twins ate?  When was the last time I changed Elijah/Evelyn/Vivien’s diaper?  I should probably run downstairs and unload the dishes and throw in that second load of laundry for today. Speaking of which, have a washed the diapers today? Oh!  I forgot my tea in the microwave! What in THE WORLD is on my shirt?!  Is that dried pesto, or dried poop?!”

Quieting my mind!  What an exercise!

I bet you think that I am going to lament having no time to myself?  That all good wives and mothers must take tons of time for themselves?  Or maybe that I will bemoan the busyness that is my life? No way. In fact, I love stewarding the blessings that The Lord has given us…in a healthy way.

Let me explain “healthy”.  I love my life.  I believe it is because Jesus gave me life about 8 years ago.  As in, set me free from sin and shame.  The way He protected me, stood by me, was so miraculous that I almost have no choice but to worship His Holy Name.  I believe His plan for me involves ownership of me, so I am set free from the bondage of control.  That nasty Mommy idol.  Please learn this.  Before you may attempt any practical incorporation in your life, you must grasp this truth.  If you don’t, you will set yourself up for all sorts of selfish idolatry…

Now, if you think three kids under two is crazy, try this on for size:  I have been married for 2 years and 4 months to the love of my life, Jonathan.  Ours was a whirlwind courtship.  Jonathan and I met and were married in about 4 1/2 months.  Because we were so aware that The Lord had made us for each other, the thoughts of starting a family came easy.  We thought we might perhaps spend some time alone that first year, but The Lord had other plans for us (and that’s another post entirely).  We conceived our daughter the third month we were married.  The twins came four months after her birth.  They are exactly one year and one day apart.  WOW!   And we’ll have as many as The Lord gives us.  Yep.  The Lord is still guiding us and growing us in that area- Hallelujah!

Not only did we have kids quickly, my husband changed careers, we bought our first house (and are fixing it up), and we experienced a few deaths in the family.  It has been a full two plus years, but we believe that things that are known to be the sources of much stress have brought us together in a deeper way that we might have ever been able to achieve had it been different.

In a word: Expectations.
We had to define ours.  Quickly.  And we continue to redefine as we grow.
If I am unhappy in my circumstance, is it because my expectations are wrong?  Probably.  At the very least, they could be the right expectations said to your husband (friend, etc.) poorly.

Are you being incredibly selfish with what God has so freely given you.  I remind myself: I am not my own.  I was bought with a price- Jesus’s blood- and in accepting that, I live for Him.  Am I content in that?  (Hint:  I believe that is a life long discipline…)

Okay, great.  Thanks.  What does that mean practically?

Well, before I begin telling you what it looks like for ME, for US at the Elmer house, please let me encourage you to seek The Lord in prayer for YOUR home.  What does He have for you?

In my world, I find that saying “No” to things is my number one weapon to protecting my sanity and preserving my family integrity.  It gets crazy around here, people.  CRAAAAZY.  I have three under two years of age.  My days ZIP by. Most days I congratulate myself if the twins have had their proper intake of milk (yes, I am nursing twins), Vivien has eaten, been bathed, not stabbed out any of the babies eyes, at least read one book, taken a few naps, and I have kept up my food/water intake.  Woo hoo!  Anything after that is a bonus!  And I love getting through other things by structuring my time well.

The Internet.  That time sucker!  Surfing the internet can really make you feel productive, yet at the same time produce a schizophrenia most unsettling…”Why am I on here, again? Ohhhh, yes.  I wanted to look up which radio station in Atlanta plays Focus on the Family programs.  How did I get to pictures of AJ McCarron’s tattoo?!”  Gosh, with just a few clicks you can immerse yourselves in so many projects for Christ that all have good intentions, but are not FOR YOU.  I could spend a week reading blog after blog after blog from this Christian woman, or that one encouraging me in one way or the other.  Why not pare that down and spend my time with The Lord instead.  Yes?  Do you need encouragement?  Invite a friend over that encourages you and that will pray with you.

How about those friendships? I’ll put it out there:  you can only have a few friendships in your life that are close.  The friend or friends that know your heart, your daily routines, the work that Christ is doing in you and your family.  Please choose these wisely.  You may have many people who you know, and maybe people who you want to get to know better, but a true friendship requires investment.  After your spouse, who should be your very best friend, who are you investing in?  And who are you allowing to invest in you?

What do my children see when they look at their mommy?  Am I buried in my iPhone?  Am I unavailable?  Am I TOO available?  Am I constantly referring to the latest parenting trends, reading blogs and parenting books?  Some foundational help is good as first time parents, but these things need balance.

You must set up a guard in your life, creating balance.  Lean on that still, small voice.  If you can’t see where you need help, ask someone you trust to help you.

And finally, can you hear The Lord calling you?  I don’t know about you, but with three small children, a large home, and the pressures that can come along with it, we have officially divorced a lot of noise around here.  Right now, it is so quiet in my home that I can hear the dryer turning, the rain outside my window falling, and most importantly: my thoughts.

A handful of years ago, I read a book called “Ministry in the Image of God”.  Most of it has left me now, but I will never forget the heart of Jesus he conveyed about the Son of God’s mission here.  He emphasized His obedience to God in His private fellowship.  In this, Jesus knew what God was asking Him to do everyday, all of the time.

Am I living in such a way that I can hear God’s plan for me everyday?  Have I carved out time for Him in order to get my instructions for the day? for the week?  Have I asked Him to lead me?

Last spring I was beginning to feel the pressures that Mommies can place on other Mommies.  It is almost inevitable, whether it is self-created or from an outside source.  My daughter was 11 months and she still wasn’t crawling (even typing that sentence snaps me into reality— what a dumb thing to dwell on!)  I had to start guarding my thoughts.  The worldly answers started pouring in:  “Perhaps she has a developmental delay and needs therapy?  Are you not working with her enough?  Could she have a birth defect?”  And it goes on…I won’t belabor the negatives, but encourage you.  I started desperately asking The Lord to guard those thoughts.  Those negative, intellectually idolatrous thoughts.  And in no time, the Holy Spirit spoke to my thirsty Mom’s heart:  “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”  John 14:27 (I went to look up the reference then and there!)  How thankful I was that I had studied that verse many, many years ago and The Lord brought it to memory!

“…not as THE WORLD gives…” Is the world your source of peace?  I believe it can be, very quickly.  It creeps in ever so slowly.  Fight to have Him be your peace.  He will show you, as He is your Father that loves you, just as He is showing me.

I love to remind myself that The Lord will allow me to deepen my relationship with Him as much as I am willing.  He pursues me.  Am I giving Him everything in my prayers and in my heart everyday?

Someone is crying…yes, I think that all day long everyday.  *Sigh* I’m so glad we could spend this short time together, it’s back to the wonderful and challenging world of mothering now.  How thankful I feel that God has seen it fit to bless me in this.  Have a sweet day in Jesus!!!

A HUGE thank you to Sarah for sharing this little glimpse into her life and heart as she follows her faith through the wonderful adventure of motherhood. If you know someone {even if it’s yourself} who would like to share their parenting endeavors, please let me know! I love reading about other mommy adventures!

Until next time…

FIFTY-TWOsie aka ONE YEARsie

One year ago today, at exactly 9:38 am, a beautifully magnificent, true blessing from God, albeit totally slimy, baby girl was born. She was absolutely perfect and completely filled the hearts of her parents in a way they never thought possible. Here she is today.

52 weeks

What a goof ball. This little stinker is still filling our hearts with more joy, laughter, and fun than we could have ever imagined. On the one hand it feels like she’s been here much more than just a year, and on the other it’s hard to believe it’s gone by so quickly. Last night as we were going to bed my mom {Gammie and Granddaddy are visiting!} looked at Z and said, “Now don’t come waking me up at midnight telling me it’s time to go to the hospital.” Crazy. Totally, insanely, unbelievable crazy, that it was a full 365 days ago that we took the first step on that final stretch to becoming parents.  {Yes, I realize I’ve already linked to Keelin’s birth story twice and we’re only about 180 words into the post. I can’t promise you won’t see another link before you’re finished reading. If you are new to the blog and haven’t read it yet, please feel free. It was an experience I will never forget and means enough to me that I’m proud to share it with you all}.  I’ve learned more in the last year than I ever imagined. From my faith and patience, to understanding more about myself and my dreams, I can honestly say that 2012 {and 4 1/2 days in 2011} has given me more tid bits of knowledge and full-on slaps to the face than the 24 years before it combined. People talk about having calling to certain careers and paths, this is my calling. Mommyhood. I feel completely undeserving, especially when this sweet and innocent little person runs at me with her arms held out and buries her head in my unacceptably bony shoulder, but so incredibly thankful that God chose me to be a mother. Not just a mother, her mother.

Alright enough reminiscing {see… gotcha again!}… this is STILL a weekly onesie post after all. The final weekly onesie post, to be more specific!

This has been a fantastic week filled with fun, family, traditions, and toys! Christmas {all 3-parts of it} was absolutely wonderful and Keelin has had a blast. We woke up Christmas morning and celebrated the holiday with just the three of us. It was quiet, and quaint, and simply wonderful. Keelin wasn’t all that interested in unwrapping her presents until we got to her EleFUN ball popper! As soon as she got a peek of it from behind the wrapping paper she perked right up and went to town trying to free it from the gift wrap shackles. Once Z and I figured out how to put the thing together {seriously Playskool} it was on like Donkey Kong. Alright, it wasn’t THAT exciting, but she did pick up on the fact that pushing the giant red button would result in fun elephant noises, music, and a rainbow of flying plastic balls. Fun city people! After our little family celebration Z had to go to work and sing to two PACKED houses {who knew that many people would be at the aquarium on Christmas day!} but the Bean and I enjoyed the afternoon together picking up, lounging around, and playing with our toys. The hubs got me a HOT PINK forever lazy… so it was quite the comfy day. Once he returned home it was off to Go Go and Grandpa Gizmo’s house for Christmas part deux. More gifts, more food, more family, more fun. Keelin even took a ride on her new rocking horse elephant.  Yes, rocking ELEPHANT. It’s amazing. She spent the majority of the night walking back and forth over the “speed bump” in the floor {where the kitchen turns into the living room} and trying to snatch my glass of Bailey’s. She was one tuckered out little lady.

This morning we both slept in {poor Z had to get up early for a 4-show day at work} and spent the majority of the day prepping for Gammie and Granddaddy’s visit! Clean house, organized {mostly} guest room closet, our LAST onesie pic snapped *tear*, cookies displayed in an overly inviting manner… please resist the urge to come hang at my house. My parents arrived in the early evening and Christmas part 3 commenced. MORE gifts… of which she was completely interested in… more food, a roaring fire, farting boston terriers, lots of laughs, and a ton of love. Doesn’t get much better than this… except I would have liked to exchange the farting boston terriers for my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew. Farting or not… they were are missed. Last year really spoiled us.

Tomorrow we will celebrate Keelin’s birthday with some close family and friends {for which I am way behind in preparing for… operation party planning is officially ON} and I’m hoping my heart can handle more of these wonderful blessings. I’ve always loved this time of year but seriously… I’m swelling over here. 🙂

Happy Birthday beautiful girl. You have blessed our lives in more ways that you will ever know!
We had THE MOST FUN during this last photo shoot, and although most of them turned out blurry, there’s no denying Keelin had as much fun as I did. Here are a few favorites from today… and then a year comparison of newborn, 3 month, 6 month, 9 month and 12 month pics. Don’t forget to check out the weekly onesie page to look back at the full year’s worth of weekly pictures. I will miss scanning through all the photos from each shoot but I have to admit it will be nice not having to make sure her fabric and white onesies are prepped and ready each week. Farewell weekly photoshoots.

52_week_fun

 

year_progressionUntil next time…

 

The Santa Struggle

Disclaimer… This post may or may not question the existence of a magical man in a red suit who shows up on Christmas eve and eats all your cookies. If your kids like to read over your shoulder… you may want to kick them out of the room.

There are some things that I just didn’t think about when we found out we were going to be parents. Obviously there was plenty of excitement and uncertainty, thoughts about finances, who he/she was going to look like, and how different our lives are going to be… that’s all to be expected. But the one thing that I didn’t really think about was what kind of a role Santa would play in my kids’ childhood. I know some moms-to-be think about these kinds of things but to be totally honest it never really crossed my mind until recently when I started seeing some of my mommy-friends posting photos on Facebook of their little one’s sitting on Santa’s lap for the first time.

This time last year the hubs and I obviously weren’t thinking about whether or not we were going to make it to see Santa… considering our main thoughts were something closer to “get OUT of my bellay!” But now that we celebrating our first Christmas as a family of 3, we’ve got to ask ourselves if we’re going to ‘play along’ with the mystery of Santa Claus or live the next years of our lives braced for the phone calls and hate emails from parents of classmates who “heard from the Pierce child” that Santa isn’t real. Eeep!

First we looked at how much of a roll Santa played in our own childhoods.

I have an utterly terrible memory {seriously I think sometime between high school and 2012 I must have run into an MIB who totally flashy-thinged me because my childhood recollection is toast} but I do recall being really excited when ‘Santa’ brought me that hot pink Barbie camper with “working” grill and  fold out cabana. It was only later that I learned my mother spend hours putting that piece of crap together while Santa was nowhere to be found. What’s up with that Claus? Anyway. My brother and I did the sit on Santa’s lap thing a few times… definitely not every year. And I don’t even really remember the time when I ‘learned’ that Santa wasn’t real… I don’t know if it was something I learned or just realized. I think my parents had fun with it and let us enjoy the magic of it all but they were always very clear on the real meaning of Christmas, both in the biblical sense and in terms of the holiday NOT being about what presence we got. So if I can’t say that Santa’s ‘existence’ really had that great of an effect on my life, should it be that important that my kids believe in him at all? Ponder, ponder, ponder.

As for Z’s upbringing, his parents were very upfront with he and his brother about Santa not being real. No shenanigans in that family {and coming from two mimes, that says a lot!}. They didn’t want either of them expecting that some fat man in a velour suit was going to get them exactly what they wanted for Christmas and, much like my parents, really strived to make sure they understood the real reason to celebrate – the birth of Christ. They did make sure to tell both of them not to go off and spoil it for the other kids who did believe… which Z ignored on a number of occasions. Yeah, he was THAT KID.

So… what does a Christian {and Catholic to boot} family, who grew up with slightly different Santa experiences, who want to make sure they maintain the true spirit of Christmas for their children, while still having fun DO when it comes to Jolly Old St. Nick?

YOU TELL ME! We’re still figuring out the details. It’s highly unlikely that Keelin will even remember this Christmas so we’ve got some time to finalize our Santa-Plan but here’s what we’ve got so far…

#1 at Christmas for us is, without a doubt, understanding our faith’s reason for celebrating. We are Christians, we believe in the miracle birth of Christ, we use Christmas to celebrate that event. Plain and simple, that is what Christmas is about for us. As long as our kids understand that, you could say that the rest is just extra fun stuff, right?

I think the story of Santa Claus, with the reindeer and the sled and the Ho’s {I mean…}, and the big-fat-jelly-belly, is sweet and totally fine to incorporate into a child’s Christmas experience. I STILL love reading “Twas the Night Before Christmas”, signing “From Santa” on gifts, and watching all the fun Santa-Christmas movies. It’s festive, spirited, light-hearted, and FUN. We’re definitely going to make sure our kids know the original story of St. Nicholas too – where the common story of Santa Claus is said to have originated. There is far too much Santa out in the world to try to ignore it all together. Plus, how lame would that be?!

I DON’T think the idea of Santa should be used as a way to make kids behave. It’s one thing to joke about getting coal in your stocking if your kids are being particularly pesky {I still do that with friends and family today} but I’ve been witness to a mother GOING OFF on her kid mid-supermarket telling them with all sincerity {and intent to frighten} that Santa is not going to bring them ANYTHING because of their awful behavior. Seriously I think I saw steam coming out of her ears and her eyes were definitely set to LASER mode. I’ll admit her kid was being  a little demon but I want my children to behave properly because they know it’s the right way to act, not because I threaten them with fewer toys at Christmas. Just doesn’t seem right. And if Santa were real I don’t think he would appreciate you making him out to be the bad guy like that. Tisk.

So do we say, “Hey kids… there’s this guy named Santa Claus we’d like you to know about. The story books say he shimmy’s down chimneys on Christmas Eve to deliver gifts to every little girl and boy. He’ also has magical flying reindeer, and perfect no-blush-necessary cheeks. He’s not real, even though some children think he is, so just go along with it when they talk about him at school, and know that it’s all in fun when you come back home. Ok?”  Maybe. It’s upfront, simply put, lets them know we’re all about enjoying the legend for the STORY that it is, but set on knowing the truth from the get-go.

At the end of the day as long as my kids know the real meaning of Christmas, and don’t go around being the jerks that spoil the ‘magic’ for everyone else, I don’t think there’s any reason to ignore the story of Santa. Just be clear on its truth and appreciate it for the fun that it brings to the holiday.

What do you think. Any parents juggling a similar issue? Did I lose you all when I started an 8th paragraph? How did Santa impact your childhood?

Guest Blogger: Lauren the Military Mama

A very dear friend of mine {she was actually a guest blogger here before!} recently announced that she and her husband are expecting baby boy #2! They already have a beautiful son who is a ball of energy just like his mama and I’m positive #2 will be just as sweet and spunky!

I reached out to her to see if she would be willing to do another guest spot talking about what it’s like wrangling one little man AND cookin’ another! She had some problems toward the end of her first pregnancy that resulted in an emergency c-section and some time in the NICU for her sweet boy, Connor. Obviously she is taking extra precautions with pregnancy #2 to ensure a healthy and safe delivery. BUT… enough jib-jab from me, I’ll let her tell you about her experience as an almost mother of 2!

Hill family portrait

I can remember being pregnant with Connor, my first son, and thinking “how do mom’s do it a second time?” Especially on days when I was incredibly exhausted and slept on the couch all day watching movies. I thought, “man, this is hard.” Once the first trimester was over, I regained energy and sort of forgot how exhausting and nauseating the first few months of pregnancy are. (I am sure after I have this next little boy, I will also be quickly reminded how tough the first few months with a newborn are)!
I can tell you that one of the pros (and maybe cons) of being pregnant with the second baby is how fast the time goes by. I almost halfway through this pregnancy, and I have no clue where the time went. Well, I know about weeks 6-13 were spent with me on the couch watching Madagascar 2 on repeat, and my son whining because he just wanted to play. Talk about the guilt that was already setting in. One thing I am having a hard time with is the fact that I have to realize that I am, in fact, pregnant, and I have to be careful and “take it easy.” I can’t just pick up my 30 lb toddler without thinking, “bend your knees so you don’t strain.” I went to pick up Connor the other day, and as soon as I picked him up I wanted to kick myself. I pulled something and cramped all day long, and then I spotted. When I called my doctor, they sent me to the ER because he was in surgery. 4 hours later, and I was sent home with a “your baby is fine and take it easy.” We had the ultrasound which showed him bouncing off the walls (literally). I was so mad at myself, but when your toddler holds their arms up for you to hold them, you don’t think twice about it. I will now.
You know how when you are pregnant with your first, your nursery is already planned out by 20 weeks, your stroller is picked out, and you have already bought clothes? Yeah, well, I haven’t done anything! Probably, in part, because it’s the Christmas season and we now have a kid to buy for. But, mainly, because by the end of the day when I have time to sit down and look up cute nursery ideas and double strollers, I’m just too tired. (Thank God for Pinterest)! The great thing about another boy is that Austin (my baby in the womb) will be born the same season Connor was! How’s that for financial planning?? I’m pumped! Because we all learn after the first baby that there are several outfits that Connor wore one time… or didn’t wear at all.
I can’t say that Connor is excited about his baby brother though. He is only 19 months, and when we ask him if he is excited about getting a brother, he answers with “NO!” But that is his answer to just about everything except, “are you hungry?” or “did you poop?” Of course I am worried about how Connor will feel already, but it’s too late for that, right? I know that in time, Connor is going to be an awesome big brother, and it will be a big adjustment, but most families have more than one child. At some point, most kids gain a sibling, and everyone gets through it.
I haven’t gotten through this pregnancy yet, but my advice to any second time pregnant mom is to just take a deep breath and enjoy it. They say that “the best gift you can give your child is a sibling.” I forgot how miserable the first few months are, and I forgot how hard a newborn can be. The one thing I did not and will not ever forget is the feeling I got when I heard that first cry, saw my son’s beautiful face, and held him for the first time. That isn’t a coincidence you know. I cannot wait to have two beautiful children to stare at and Thank God for on a daily basis.

I can’t wait to see how Lauren and her family adjust to this beautiful new life and I’m incredibly thankful that she would share a few thoughts on being pregnant with a toddler! She has a sweet little blog where she keeps her friends and family updated on her progress so feel free to check her out there!

Until next time…