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Thursday, December 12, 2013

It's the Little Things

Sometimes the "small" gifts can be the greatest gifts.  I've already shared a few ways I feel doing small or simple things can really make a huge impact in a mother's life.  

This week, God has done several things - small things I guess you might say - to strengthen my faith in Him and His goodness - and I'm so very thankful.  They may seem little or not important.  But to me - they're big.  

I've been looking on Craigslist for Legos for my oldest, who is four.  She loves to build with the blocks she currently has but they're larger and only one size so her creativity is a bit more limited.  And I had no idea before but Legos are expensive!  

Enter Goodwill.  The exact same tub of PINK Legos I had been searching for - $6!  I frequent this Goodwill quite often and have never, ever seen Legos.  Plus I went in the evening so I'm assuming they must have just put these out right before I walked in the store because surely they would't have lasted very long on the shelves.

Ri is gonna LOVE these!
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! - Matt 7:11

I also found some more containers for my girls' lunches (I try to pack them ahead of time - saves my sanity at lunch time).  

I had two and lost the top to one.  This was absolutely driving me crazy to have a container with no lid.  Then a friend had a stray top that fit mine - how perfect!  But the next day, my two year old broke the container.  

But that same night at Goodwill…found two of the exact same container for $1 in great condition. And actually, I like these better than the ones we had before.  I was upset about losing the ones I had but God gave us an upgrade. :)


While at Goodwill I was looking for some clothes for myself.  I very rarely buy anything for myself, let alone clothes.  And that's not to brag - it's just honestly because I don't think about it.  I'm always drawn to find the best clearance deals on kids toys and shoes and clothes.  And then I'm worn out from deal-finding.  Plus clothes shopping for myself isn't really very fun right now anyway.

I found a couple of shirts at Goodwill.  But honestly, I really needed pants.  And I LOATHE pant shopping; especially now.  I'm not back in all of my regular pants so I had been rotating between two different pairs.  

So yesterday I was at my neighbor's house and she remembered someone gave her some clothes but they didn't fit her.  She gave them to me to take home to try.  

And they were just. my. size.  

Plus, a couple of the pants were a short length (which I need).  On top of that, I got a cute extra purse that I had been wanting but couldn't bring myself to buy another one.  


Lastly, this past weekend, I had gotten a few shirts at Target without trying them on.  When I got home, they were definitely too tight…discouraging to say the least.  I mean, they looked huge when I held them up!  Let's just blame it on nursing for the time being ok?  

So anyway, I ended up returning them to a different Target store and they had the SAME shirts on clearance for $3 - that's cheaper than a used shirt at Goodwill!  Plus I got a pretty fantastic Captain America shirt because, well, it fit and was also $3.  


Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  - Luke 12:7
Sometimes I don't feel like all my work to save money and get the best deals is worth it.  And I obviously have to use discernment in it all, but this week, I just felt like the Lord was saying "Hey, I know you try so hard to be a good steward of what you're given.  And sometimes it doesn't work out how you hoped.  But I really am in control.  And all you can do is your best.  So here ya go.  Here are a few things I picked out just for you."

Thanks be to Him!  He has encouraged my heart this week and proven to me that He loves His children - even in the "small" areas.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pressure

These three girls - man do I love them!  I never would have thought the Lord would have given me a house full of girls!!!  I'm just not the girliest person and I've never considered myself the greatest homemaker.  

I've shared with a few friends the pressure I feel as a mom to three girls.  I'm the example to them of what a godly woman is.  How I treat my husband, their father…how I care for my home…nourish my family…control my emotions (let's face it, girls struggle a lot more in this area). 

Many times I feel like I'm failing them.

Will they become nurturing to their families? Emotionally and spiritually?

Will they have the skills to prepare meals for themselves and their (hopefully future) families?

 Will they be educated to face our very confusing and ever-changing world?

Will they know how to effectively and efficiently run a household?


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Will they even desire to have families and children of their own?  Will they see children as blessings?

Will they feel brave enough to try new things and approach situations that seem bigger than them because their God is bigger than anything?

Will they be able to develop relationships with others - sincere and loving relationships that will encourage their souls?  

I know a lot of lessons will also come from their daddy.  But because they are girls and will eventually be women, a lot of what they are learning for their future is going to come directly from me.  And I can tell them all day and night what they should do.  But for me to actually live it out in front of them; well, that's just a bit harder. And it takes a bit more work.  

So I feel a lot of pressure not just because I am an example to my kids but because I'm an example to my kids who will grow up to be women.  And I desire so much for them!

I know I will fail.  I already have.  And where I fail the Lord's grace prevails!  But I still can't help but feel that extra pressure as a mom to three girls.  

Recently, the book we are reading in my Bible study encouraged my heart in this area (it's called Ezer - good read and highly recommended!).  I'm realizing that I struggle with this fear and desire to control.  

****CLICK ON PICTURE TO ENLARGE****


I love to strive.  My pride desires to "look good".  I desire perfection from myself as well as from my children.  But this is unrealistic on this side of heaven.


This is SO me - I don't want to ever mess up.  And while desiring to do what is right is a good thing, God has shown me that the root behind it is usually my pride and not my desire to please and honor Him.  


Through this, the Lord is showing me that my "hard work" is strangling me.  It's putting this pressure on me that's not necessary.  I do have a responsibility to my girls.  I am to present to them the best I know how the way to live as a godly woman of God.  But I cannot beat myself up every time I mess up.  I can't let my pride be the reason I'm striving to do right.  Because if my heart's desire is to be pleasing to the Lord, I shouldn't feel pressure to be perfect.  Because I will mess up.  And I can show my girls Christ even in those failures.  


My prayer is that I will be able to seek God continually as I parent my girls.  I would love nothing more than to see them come to know Him as their Savior - and to be well-rounded citizens, of course. 

And now, on a lighter note…

I just love this picture.  :)  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Short Story

Once Upon a time there was a first-born baby named Rilynn.  Her mommy took monthly pictures of her beside the family dog, Suka.


Rilynn grew and grew.  
The end.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

I first started using cloth diapers when my oldest (now four) was just over a year old.  I fell head over heals in love with it!  It was so fun to find new diapers, especially fun prints.  I branched out and tried several different types of diapers.  And we didn't need to buy disposables.
I didn't feel like cropping the pic - don't judge
 When my second was born, I waited about two months to start cloth.  It was much easier, I think, with babies - especially when EBF (exclusively breastfed) because there was no need to rinse.  



Last Fall, I took a break from cloth diapering.  I was in my first trimester of pregnancy and not feeling so well.  I originally planned to take a week off, then a month.  But then it turned into until my second was potty trained (this past June).  

I had planned to still use cloth with Logann.  Of course I knew I needed to give myself some time.  It wasn't until she was eleven weeks that I started up again.  

look at that cute diaper!!!
After a couple of days, I was done.  For good. 


I, of course, started making myself feel bad.  

- "So-and-so does it and they have just as many, or more kids" 
- "You're going to spend more money now" 
- "You should be able to do this. It's not as hard as you're making it out to be"

etc etc

But my husband was, thankfully, very supportive.  And sometimes, it's worth spending a little more in one area if needed to save a momma from losing it completely right?  :) Plus, I think I'm pretty good at finding deals so now I'll just be looking for diaper deals.  

If anyone out there reading who cloth diapers would like to buy more, email me at susansene@yahooDOTcom and I can give you a list of what's available.  I've already been able to sell a good amount which has already gone towards disposables.  So that makes me feel better.

But I will miss it.  I mean, I won't.  But I will.  It truly feels like a bit of a break up. But I know now this is the right decision for me right now.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Emotional Rollercoaster

This is it.  This is when my emotions go crazy - around three months post partum.  

Time out - let's just take a moment to take in the fact that this little love muffin is already three months old!!?  
Anyway, I should have been more prepared I guess.  But I don't feel like I am.  Nothing can really prepare you for it.  I haven't had a chance to look into why this is - at least for me.  I'm sure it has a lot to do with hormone levels changing.  Plus the fact that this is around the time when everything starts to feel "normal" again.  And I try to be supermom.  And I get unrealistic expectations of what my days should look like.  And I don't have enough sleep.  

Last week was especially hard.  Everything made me want to cry.  Everything seemed ten times more overwhelming.

On top of these emotional struggles, Kaylee - the newest member of the middle child club - began to struggle again.  She would constantly whine.  She wouldn't do anything I asked her to.  She would throw herself on the floor if she didn't get her way.  And she was starting to scratch/poke Logann more than before.  And it wasn't curious poking.  It seemed obvious she was trying to process her feeling left out but she was doing it in all the wrong ways.  
Ri took this and I didn't know until later.  I'm holding Logann and Kalee is whining :)
This made my already-weepy state even worse.  I wanted to make it all better for her.  I felt like I was failing her as her mom.  

Then on Wednesday, my sister-in-law went into labor.  It was slow at first but everything worked out wonderfully.  That same morning, my mom told me they had found my grandmother fairly unresponsive in her room.  IV fluids and oxygen helped perk her up.  Then we found a chicken head in our backyard and another hen across the street (fox we figured since one was seen on our street that same day).
aint he cute?  Cooper Thomas :)

we went to visit GiGi
Thursday was a little better.  Friday I had a serious breakdown and called Septtro at work.  I paced across my room before calling - debating whether or not I should.  I mean, I should be able to handle this right?  But I called.  And I'm so glad I did.  The rest of the day was better.

Saturday I took Kaylee out to run a few errands.  She picked out a special toy at Goodwill and we got a few other fun things that day.  I've started to reward her for using the potty by herself again.  And I've put the girls to bed since I'm usually rocking Logann during that time.  Those things have seemed to help.  She needs more positive attention.

It was no mistake her and I were adjusting at the same time. It forced me, once again, to rely on the strength of the Lord - to plea for his wisdom.  This week has been better so far.  But the emotions are still there.  I can very easily feel overwhelmed at the slightest thing.  

But we will all get through it.  We have each other.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

It Takes a Village

You know the saying right?  

"It takes a village to raise a child"

I'm not certain who actually came up with that quote - or when - or what exactly their intent behind it was.  But after having Logann I've realized more than ever that I cannot do this by myself.  I need the Lord, yes and amen.  But that's not what I'm referring to here.

I need a community of people.  I need them.  And quite honestly, they need me too. 


We are all different...different gifts, different resources, different seasons of life.  And that's all so beautiful!!!



I wasn't around when most families lived next door to each other.  Or across the street.  Or even in the same household (a bit much sometimes, I'm sure).  But just think what a sense of community there was!  An extra pair of hands to hold a fussy baby, refill sippy cups, take out the trash, get children dressed, prepare lunch, unload the dishwasher, fold some laundry, argue and grow from one another, listen to and encourage one another. 

Our society is just so stinkin autonomous.  People are so busy.  And I get it.  We all have lives. But lately I've just had to be home more (running out with three small kids isn't exactly a piece of cake).  And I've realized I need others' help!

I've read several articles recently about young mothers and the stresses of motherhood.  "You are not alone" "Others feel the same way"

That's nice I'm not the only one who feels like a psychotic mother of preschool children.  But isn't there something that can be done instead of nodding my head or telling people "bless your heart", and/or simply saying prayers for those young mothers, middle-aged mothers, elderly couples with health problems, teenagers looking for approval and guidance - why don't I actually get involved??

I do believe the church is a great way to have community.  But not everybody at church lives near you.

But your neighbors do.
 

We didn't know hardly anyone - and we'd lived here for eight years.  Slowly, though, we have developed relationships.  And guess what?

My dear English neighbor who has grown kids and lives alone?  She loves to hold babies.  And come eat lunch with us.  And sit at the house with my older girls while I take Logann to an appointment.  She loves for us to stop by on our way back from walks and "interrupt" her work time so the girls can say hello and look at her thimble collection. She teaches us about the United Kingdom and says things like "lovely" and "cheerio".  And she's a good listener.  



And my pregnant neighbor up the street?  She has a girl Rilynn's age.  The girls play well with one another.  I can have her daughter down to play while she rests, or catches up on laundry, or runs an errand or two.  My girls gain a play mate.  It's a win-win see?  A few days later she may have my girls up for lunch while I do some house chores.  Or nap.  

There's an elderly couple we recently met several houses up.  They have a cute dog that always runs out in the road when we walk.  Because of that dog, we have gotten to know them.  The husband just had triple bypass.  The wife asked if my girls could call her Nanna.  Before his surgery they gave us homemade pear jam and fresh peppers from their garden.  Now every time we pass by and they are outside, we get to chat with each other.  She recently asked about our church and I was able to invite her to ours.  We exchanged phone numbers and have already texted one another.  



I know we aren't living in The Wonder Years era or anything.  I guess what I'm saying is, I've realized that when I am intentional to look for ways to bless my community - my neighbors - it blesses my heart.  We look out for each other.  And I'm realizing more than ever how important that community is and how refreshing it can be to our whole family!


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Family and homemade jam

I'm playing catch-up a little bit here.  Last weekend, Ri moved from her toddler bed to a twin trundle bed.  I didn't plan for it to happen but we found a great deal on Craigslist - matched the dresser we had in there already.

See all the stuff on her bed?  I don't know how there was ever any room for her in her toddler bed!  

Proof that my kids DO have some of my features: (me on left, Logann on right)

 Septtro's brother and sister came to visit last weekend.  It was so fun to have them here - the girls loved having all of them here to play!

Kaylee is about 8 months older than her cousin Skye but she's quite a bit smaller.  Sorry girl, guess you got your momma's short genes.  Beautiful lil gals!!!

Some friends gave us a LOT of muscadine grapes.  Septtro made homemade jelly!! I'm not a fan of the grapes but haven't tried the jelly yet.  He and the girls love the grapes though so I'm sure this won't last long.  


I've been trying to hard to capture that universal newborn stretch where they curl around themselves, hands behind their head.  I just love it!!  I haven't been able to catch it on camera yet.  But I did catch a "praise Jesus" moment.  :)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Mommy Guilt

You know how, no matter what you do accomplish, there's always a tendency to feel guilty over what didn't get done during the day?  

I had this genius idea to go around the house very briefly during nap time the other day and take pictures of what I had done already that day; no matter how small it may seem.  Surely, after doing this, I'd be encouraged as I was likely unaware of the many small tasks I had completed.

I got a load of dirty clothes into the washing machine.  I had kept the kitchen counters fairly clean and decluttered.  Our bed was made.  And I showered AND straightened my hair.  
That's in addition to caring for the emotional and physical needs of three children during the day.  

I should feel accomplished.  And I did.  For moment I felt at peace with not feeling obligated to do anything else that day except enjoy my children as much as possible.  

Then...it came creeping up again.  That mommy guilt.

I managed to get more clothes in the washing machine but I still hadn't folded that basket of laundry in the living room.  The counter was cleared off but the dirty dishes were still in the sink.  My bed was made but our bedroom furniture was covered in dust.  And I'd showered and straightened my hair but when was the last time I'd plucked those caterpillar eyebrows?? And seriously, when is the last time you put on deodorant?  Don't you smell yourself??

I cannot catch up.  It will never end.  I will always have something else that needs to be done.

These thoughts of guilt - this mommy guilt - it's not from the Lord.  


 So what's this purpose the Lord has for me then?  

To embrace this...


And this..

And be ok with this.  


 It's not easy.  And I don't think it's natural for most moms.  I'm still learning how.  
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. - 2 Cor 12:9
I need to be mindful of those times when mommy guilt creeps in.  If I am not diligent and purposeful about refocusing to my ultimate purpose, I will become overwhelmed very quickly.   

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
 
Refrain
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
 
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.

Oh, and just in case your weary soul needs this too - whether due to your job, family, finances  or that dreaded mommy guilt - take a few minutes..close your eyes.  And just listen to this song:

And now I think I'll lie down and nap beside my almost-9 week old baby girl...even though the dishes aren't done and there's wet laundry in the washing machine and my bed isn't made.  :)  

But I *did* remember to put on deodorant today!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Adjusting

Life with three.  I'm totally outnumbered.  :)


I knew it wouldn't be a walk in the park.  I knew I'd struggle.  And I have.  Most days I feel like I hold it all together pretty well.  

But then I decide the dishes have to be done, and the laundry washed, dried, and sorted - right then.  The toilet is showing signs of orange rings, the ceiling fans have layers of dust, where did that dead bug go that I saw an hour ago?  And then there's that shoe that's been missing for a few days that I really want to find.  I want to make applesauce and more homemade meals for my family.  I have to nurse every two to three hours - not to mention the time in between when the baby decides not to nap when I'd like her to.  

And I get overwhelmed.  I feel like I haven't a clue what I'm doing.  Where did my day go?  

How do I know what to do when?  Yes, housework can wait.  But eventually it has to be done.  And when I have a few minutes, I have to choose between sleep and chores.  Septtro has been a huge help.  I know in my head a clean and tidy house will never stay that way.  Why does it bother me so much?

I want to play with my girls...and read to them.  I want to go on walks with them.  But I feel like I'm being pulled in a million different directions.  


I wish somebody could just tell me exactly what I should do each day.  That'd be a whole lot easier.  

I've tried schedules.  I've tried "loose" schedules.  I've tried no schedules.  My kids are still young and they need me for almost everything.  And activities don't last for hours - they last for minutes and then their minds are on to something else.  I feel like I'm constantly finding my new normal.  

I wish I could just take a few weeks and enjoy this newborn stage.  An 8 week old still counts as a newborn right?  Is she really already two months old??!



Will my older two remember all those days filled with their mom constantly apologizing (or not apologizing) after, once again, "having a bad attitude"? How do I help my older girls not argue so much?  Can't I give them something to do so I can nurse my baby without having someone yelling or crying?  Will they remember how much time they spent in front of the TV?

Please don't misunderstand.  I'm thankful.  And I wanted all three of these precious gifts.  They are my heart.


I just feel lost.  And sometimes I feel alone.  

I'm too hard on myself a lot of times.  When I struggle emotionally I feel like I'm being a weenie.  I should just put on my big girl undies and get it done.  Suck it up.  

But I'm telling you, hormones are very real.  And they make this all very difficult.  

Then she smiles.


And they giggle. And tell each other "secets" (secrets for those of you who aren't fluent in toddler/preschool).

I smile.  A real smile.  And for a moment, I feel confident.  I can do this.

I most definitely need Jesus.  Oh how I need Him!  I need His word integrated into my day as much as possible....a Bible story with the girls, a song on the radio, a verse on my iphone, a text from a friend - I need it.  It does miracles in my weary soul.  It gives me confidence - in Him and in my abilities as a mom.


I hope I never forget these little years.  I want to be used to help others in the future.  These are the trenches.  I'm constantly battling - my emotions, my children's behavior, fighting for their souls, organizing and keeping my home.  

It's worth it though.  It's all worth it.