Favorite Things Friday

Let’s start this post with some honesty: I have been a crankster this week.

This week has been nothing short of…long (no pun intended). It began promisingly enough…but then it slowly starting unraveling. And then I began the gradual slide down into a constant attitude of impatience and exhaustion.

It’s been a hectic week. A tuna casserole, trip to the dentist, father in the hospital, teething children, sinus infection kind of week. How does a four-day work-week end up feeling like it takes eons to get through? How does a week that starts off with a childless day-out for the husband and I end up feeling like it was so rotten? I mean, come ON! 6 hours out of the house to OURSELVES?! AND a bloomin’ onion from Outback? Maybe it’s just that when you start at that point, you have nowhere to go but down.

But when I turn on the news and hear the chaos in our country because our elected leaders can’t get along are failing miserably or I see the ravaged shores of the Philippines and hear talk of the potential for thousands upon thousands of souls being lost or I hear about Marines dying from what was a routine training exercise I have to intentionally be grateful about my own life. I have to intentionally look out for goodness. I have to seek out God. Because hope doesn’t always come naturally and instantly. Defeat, and desperation on the other hand? Sometimes, they’re our default settings.

I know that when these tragedies strike, avoidable or unavoidable, people question where God is. I mean, it’s completely understandable. If we can’t see God then surely He can’t see us, right?

Wrong.

Sometimes, we have to simply choose to believe what we know to be true. If for no other reason than because we know it to be true. We have no other remedy for calamity. We have nothing else to go on. We might not feel it, but we have to commit the truth to memory. God is not a God who abandons, God is not a God of senselessness. God is a God who reaches out a hand in the darkness, bidding you to take it. Because He is the only way to healing.

I have much to be thankful for, inconveniences and doubt be darned. It’s been a good week.

Starting off with a family trip to the National Museum of the United Stats Marine Corps. What a better day to mark the USMC’s birthday and Veteran’s Day with our veteran than to introduce the children to a world of courage, commitment and dedication. I cannot wait to keep taking them back every year. And I am unbelievably proud to be able to tell them about their father and his service to his country and to us.

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Barking orders, I’m sure.

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Oh yea, that trip to the dentist I was writing about? Guess whose son is already losing some of his baby teeth. This gal’s. I can’t believe it. He wasn’t alarmed, though. Always a trooper! Even in the dentist’s chair.

Someone is already losing his baby teeth and getting, (gasp), grown up teeth!

Someone is already losing his baby teeth and getting, (gasp), grown up teeth!

It's been a take-what-I-can-get kind of week.

It’s been a take-what-I-can-get kind of week.

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My view for dishes, dinner making and, occasionally, coffee sipping.

Enjoying warm blankets, straight from the dryer. Woot!

Enjoying warm blankets, straight from the dryer. Woot!

They enjoyed the warm blankets, I enjoyed the tiny baby feet.

They enjoyed the warm blankets, I enjoyed the tiny baby feet.

Have a great week!

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Three Things to Remember on the Days That Are Ridiculous

Have my children ever driven me nuts?

Is the sky blue?

Is Miley Cyrus cray-cray?

Is it wrong that chocolate doesn’t have its own food group on the food pyramid?

That’s a big fat ‘yes’ to all of those questions. 

My children drive me nuts on occasion. There are good days, okay days, and then there are blow out days. Blow out days where they fight with one another incessantly, where they back talk constantly, where they deliberately disobey me time and time again, where they constantly bump their heads on something, where they are clingy and whiny. You name it and I can assure you that they are ‘it’ sometimes. 

Sometimes I can see the impending insanity coming and can brace myself (or assume the fetal position). Other times, the wheels come off quicker than I anticipated on the mom-express and I lose my mind.

And afterwards I’m left wondering why or how it all happened, because in the afterglow (if you can call meltdowns something that “glow”) nothing that seemed so intolerable in the moment seems halfway as bad now that it’s over. 

And then the cycles of guilt whirl up. About how my children aren’t getting the best mother that I can be. About how I feel like I’m failing them. About how I feel like I don’t do enough for them and around the house. About how I’m not as together as so-and-so. It’s nonstop. 

I wish that I could always be prepared for such moments but I can’t. I wish that it was as simple as doing A, B and C to get my day back to where it should be. It’s not. But we can still try. We have more control over our days and how they pan out than we think that they do. 

Here are three things to remember on the days that are cray-cray (I’ll stop using that phrase now).

1. Sometimes it’s them, but most of the time it’s probably us.

Think your children are insane? Think that there can’t possibly be a crazier set of children anywhere else in the entire world? Newsflash: you’re wrong on both accounts.

I mean, who hasn’t gotten that email thread with tons of pictures of the awful things that children have done? Remember the child that painted the t.v. or drew on their infant sibling with permanent marker? Remember him. Remember him and shudder.

But on the flip side: they’re KIDS. Which means that they will at times be incoherent balls of atomic energy that will consume everything in their paths. They’re gonna be a hot mess sometimes. Because they’re children. 

Now US growed-up type people on the other hand – what’s our excuse? I am guilty of throwing mini pity- parties and playing the spit-up covered, sleep deprived martyr. I have moments where I take the marker stains on the walls personally. I convince myself that deep down, they’re simply trying to drive me nuts. I let the little things rattle me more than they should.

I meltdown like I’M the kid when it’s not necessary.

Yes, they’re kids. And sometimes, they’ll be ridiculous. That, however, is not a cover for our poor attitude. The shape of the heart can shape the home. If we are grouchy, if we are ungrateful, if we are whiny – then what else can we expect our children to be, sometimes? We give off more vibes than we think that we do and they absorb them. Simple as that.

Sometimes, we need to take a step back. Turn on a cartoon, give ourselves a 30 minute breather, find some scripture, grab some coffee, take a shower, put on real pants (with a button and everything!) and take a chill pill. Refresh and try again.

Coke. Also known to jilted mom's everywhere as "therapy."

Coke. Also known to jilted mom’s everywhere as “therapy.”

Don’t drag your feet in saying “I’m sorry” to your children if you go off the deep end. When I have done this with my children, I am always shocked at how quickly they forgive and how eager they are to cover me in their love. Because your children do love you, and they notice when you’re hurting and discouraged. And God can use their tiny little loving hearts to heal you. 

2. A bad day (week, month…) 

….does not a terrible mother make. And chances are if you’re having a rocky season and you notice it, that you care enough to be conscious of yourself. And that right there is a sign that you’re a mother who cares for and wants to do right by her children.

If you have kept your children alive, nursed fevers, cleaned up vomit and kept clean underwear in everyone’s drawers, you’re a champ. If you have made dinner out of left overs and white rice, gotten your children’s school work done and made sure that the kids don’t kill each other over a Transformer’s toy, then you’re a winner.

Making a play dough penguin made me a winner in my children's eyes.

Making a play dough penguin made me a winner in my children’s eyes.

Our professional victories look different from those who are climbing the corporate ladder. The pay offs can be few and far between.

Sometimes they come on a day when you’re going crazy (like me, just this morning) and your ears tune into the fact that your two-year old daughter is singing her ABC’s all the way through while sitting in her high chair eating oatmeal. You can take silent relief that your son says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at the right times.

The fruits of our labor are growing and multiplying, even when we don’t notice or can’t see that they are. Sometimes, in God’s grace, He lets us have a chance to see that. And thankfully, for me, He does it when I need it most. 

3. Your chief mission is…

…not what you think it is. It’s not to keep them content with cartoons. Or to keep the outfitted in the cutest clothes with nary a speck of dirt in sight. Or to keep the laundry to a minimal and acceptable level. Or to serve a healthy four-course dinner at a perfectly set table. You can have the most beautiful of everything and spill out bitter water every time you are jostled. Your chief mission is to love them, to show them God, and to give them Jesus every step of the way.

And if you’re striving to give out Jesus at every junction, that probably means that you yourself will be making the time to wallow in His love and truth every chance that you get.

His chief mission is to be a Ninja Turtle.

His chief mission is to be a Ninja Turtle.

And every disciplinary issue, every mess is a chance to show them grace and to point them to the cross. And the best part: it’s an opportunity for both you and your little one. You will show one another grace, every day. We just have to give in to it. And when your align your goals with the Lord’s, suddenly everything becomes less of a struggle, because it takes your eyes off of yourself. And we do loads better that way. 

There you have it. I just wrote something insightful in less than 30 minutes time, which as to be a record. It’s a good thing that I’m done because my son is about to get off of the school bus and there are dishes and laundry to do and toys everywhere. Happy Thursday, momma’s! 

You Are NOT Crazy

There I sat on the floor of the bathroom at our local YMCA with both children locked into the narrow stall with me. The boy needed to use the bathroom and decided that he was going to do so while standing up – this is still something that is relatively new for him. The girl was chattering away behind me but eventually squeezed up along side of me curious as to just what her bother and mommy were doing. After a few attempts on his own to use the potty standing up, and a few undirected sprays, Jerry gave up and mommy had to help. While he was doing his business Clara did the unthinkable. You know, those unthinkable things that SURELY your child or children wouldn’t do…but you know somewhere in the back of your mind is a miniature you yelling at the top of her lungs, “you IDIOT!! You know what’s about to happen don’t you??! You can’t trust your children!!! LOOK OUT, LOOK OUT!!” I didn’t listen to my inner (stark raving mad) mother until it was too late.

Clara stuck her hand into her brother’s stream of pee pee.

:::Gasp. Ick. Ew.::: 

My yells at her echoed off of the beige walls in the bathroom and brought everything to a halt. Thankfully, no one else was in there.  She stared at me in shock, she doesn’t get yelled at very often. I grabbed her hand and held it in a death grip while I pulled her brother’s pants up with the other hand. Stinking baby. She’s cute and all, but really? PEE? I guess that the temptation was too great for her. She is very lucky that she is cute. I brought her out of the stall and cleaned up her hands. Jerry asked if he could wash his hands by himself and I ignored my inner mother all over again and let Jerry handle the hand washin’ himself while I took care of sister. I couldn’t fathom why it was taking him so long to finish his task until I watched him rinse his hands off of soap…and promptly turn to his left and load up his hands with more soap via the dispenser.

:::SIGH:::

Me: We will never get out of here. I am going to die in this bathroom with these children pulling at me and climbing on me, asking for juice and to go pee pee.

I always feel like I’m yelling now a days. Yelling just as things go haywire and get out of control. Just as the child sticks her hand in the pee. It’s the verbal equivalent of Kevin Costner diving in front of the bullet for Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard (shut up) and taking the hit. Except that I don’t save the day, the child puts her hand in pee, the boy covers himself in soap and I die in a bathroom from my nerves finally getting the better of me. But I know that I am not crazy. I know that I don’t like yelling. You, mother of one, two, three, four little ones who is trying to get it all done, cleaning up those puzzle pieces from the living room floor AGAIN, pulling smushed blueberries from your daughter’s hair, read this: You are NOT crazy.

You, momma, sitting in a parking lot, trying not to have a melt down because of your sassy three-year old who insists that he isn’t taking a nap when he gets home and that sharks do talk. You, momma, that just wants to turn up the radio and cease all outside noise and not listen to your one-year old and her constant whine for juice (not the milk that is in her cup) from the backseat. You are NOT crazy. You, mother, who has asked her kids to pick up the same toys 269 times today, only to step on them again. You, who has politely requested that people clear off their dishes from the table and to put their shoes away. Who has finally gone insane, shouting orders through eye twitches and fits of rage. You are NOT crazy. You are not crazy for wanting to hide in a bubble bath…for three days. You are not crazy for wanting to take a vacation..by yourself so that you don’t have to talk. You aren’t crazy when you come downstairs in the middle of the night to enjoy a bowl of cereal by yourself when the house is quiet. You aren’t crazy if you get a burger at McDonald’s and sit in the car in silence, eating it like a lion devours its prey.

You aren’t crazy.

You aren’t crazy, because you’re not. Because I said so. Because maybe if you aren’t crazy, than I can feel better because maybe that means that I’M not crazy…Right?