Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Urgency of the Unnecessary

Lately I have been struck by my perspective on everything.   I find that in the preparation for a deployment, a move, or a birthday, I become introspective and more open to change.  (Apparently I need a LOT of development considering how many deployments, moves, and birthdays, I've encountered over the past 7 years!) 

As the food critic says in "Ratatouille" regarding his meal for the evening, "I'd like some perspective." So here's my dish for you...

What is the purpose of my day?  What are the interruptions, and what are the important moments?  Often, my to-do list determines what must be accomplished...but is that what truly NEEDS to be accomplished?  As a wife and Mom, I believe my mission is first to my family, and then to the rest of the world...but do my actions show those priorities - or do they show something different?

Unfortunately, I have had the blinders pulled off to uncover where my priorities  lie. (I say unfortunately because it really is quite uncomfortable!) My primary mission as "Mom" right now, is constant parenting. (You know, the kind that makes you late for pretty much everything!?) Yet, often I am upset or annoyed by the tantrum, selfish attitude, drama, and well-rounded sin-nature I see displayed by my little ones. If I truly believe my mission - my task - my purpose, is to "Train up a child in the way he should go" (Proverbs 22:6), then shouldn't I be thankful for the moments of PARENTING...and annoyed at the interruptions of dishes, laundry, phone calls, cooking, cleaning, and all the other things that often eclipse my primary calling?  (Although I really shouldn't be annoyed at those things either - I should be thankful in ALL things! But more on that another day!)

How many times in a day do I tell my girls, "Not right now - Mommy must..." ? But in reality, what "must" Mommy really do?  Will the world fall apart if that load of laundry isn't put away in the next 5 minutes?  Is the toilet being cleaned more important than sitting down and answering a question from my child about the world, about God, about family, about life?  I am not advocating neglecting to care for your things - I firmly believe we are to take care of every item God has placed in our care! - but I am questioning the level of importance placed on those unnecessary things that feel so utterly urgent.

A child's heart doesn't just automatically turn towards their parents -or their Maker -  by osmosis.  It takes careful attention...and a LOT of time and effort. 

The challenge for me then, is this: In all my racing around, am I actually accomplishing ANYTHING of importance? Or am I just hustling because the unnecessary things in life so easily eclipse everything else with their seeming need to be accomplished NOW?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic!

Copyright 2010

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Crazy Lunch Lady

Sooo, aside from being a pregnant hormonal emotional crazy person right now....I'm feeling pretty normal. Or not...I had an insane meltdown this week over LUNCHES. Yep. Lunches.

The scene of the episode definitely helps put it in context:  The Hubby, The Beans, and I, were all out "First time to School" shopping (at Target) and we looked at lunch boxes for String Bean.

Surrounded by the wide array of choices for how to tote one's lunch to school -  Hello Kitty, Mod patterns, princesses, hot pink, camo, zipper, clasp, messenger bag, lunch box; ice packs in more shapes than I could count; thermos'; water bottles; separate sandwich carriers -  I started crying right there in the aisle.  Utterly overwhelmed by the choices, (who knew the brown paper bag was soo 1990??? And I thought that would be the green option!) I was heaving deep breaths - shoulders shaking - the whole nine yards...it felt akin to an anxiety attack!  What caused this utter meltdown? The realization that I have ABSOLUTELY no idea what to pack for her lunches. Seriously.  As someone who didn't attend school away from the dining room table - the concept of packing lunch for a 5 year old that will be healthy, taste good, and be easily eaten, is completely foreign to me.

My husband - who is fluent in emotional-woman due to the 4 he surrounds himself with - put his hand on my shoulder, and laughed. 

I fixed my frightened eyes on him and said "What ON EARTH am I gonna do????  I don't know what to pack for her lunches? I don't know a good routine for school....You can't just leave me when I am walking into foreign territory!"

He calmly turned to me, wiped the laughter-tears from his cheeks,  and said, "Its lunch babe. Get a grip."

You know what? He was completely RIGHT. I needed to step back, breathe, and get a grip. On reality.

Moral of the story? When surrounded by choices and you feel overwhelmed...step back. Chill out. Realize that there are very few things regarding lunch decisions that will kill you. (Unless you have severe food allergies....the wrong choice really COULD kill you. So disregard the moral if that is you.)

Copyright 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Favorite Things....part 2

Here is the promised continuation of yesterday's post.....

5. Sling - My sling enabled Chilly Bean to stay warm and cuddled while I was chasing String Bean and Jumping Bean. I can't overstate how wonderful my life was because of the sling!

6. Sound Machine - All girls have slept with a sound machine in their room from the moment they moved out of mommy's room.....wonderful, wonderful, invention.  You don't need a fancy bumper, or a crib skirt. Get the sound machine and keep your sanity!!!

7. Combi Stroller - Hands down my FAVORITE stroller! It is super light, compact, reclines, can click a car seat into it, has a carry strap, and actually can be opened with ONE hand!!! Those travel systems that eat up your trunk? Feel free to keep 'em.  I'll take my Combi any day!  (I have a single and a double)  The single was a gift when String Bean was born - it has been through quite a lot in the past five years and held up beautifully!  The double was purchased off of EBay for 50%. Wonderful use of $! :)

8. Oxi-Clean Laundry Spray - Blueberries puked all over a white shirt? Macaroni and cheese thrown up in the sheets?  Strawberries smeared on a favorite dress? Poop all over every piece of fabric in sight?  Oxi-clean!  It is a wonderful, wonderful thing!!

9. Rachel Ray's 30 Minute Meals Cookbook - At least for me, the first time of making each recipe it is NOT 30 minutes....but then all subsequent times it is!  Great food, keeps everybody happy, minimizes battles, gets veggies and greens in the meals, AND it makes me look like a great cook! (I'm a fan of all of those side effects.)  :)

10. Crock Pot - For all those days where dinner will not be more than sandwiches if I leave prep till 4 pm.  Especially with a new baby - they are really really really needy from about 3-6pm.....so I make dinner at 8 or 9 in the morning and then forget about it!  What a wonderful invention.

Do you have any favorite products or tricks that have helped you keep your sanity???

Copyright 2010

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Favorite things.....part 1

Since I'm having serious trouble completing sentences right now - and can't seem to find time to write, no matter how early I get up - I'm cheating and doing a Favorite Things list.  (Cop out - for sure. Informative - hopefully)

So in the interest of answering some questions I've been asked a lot recently (since 90% of the women I know are pregnant!)  here is my list of things that have helped me  - tremendously! - in my motherhood career.  (Beware obvious product placement coming soon - a little in this one and a LOT in part 2!)

1. The Bible - Most important tool by far! It is chocked full of verses to help this very flawed woman keep her focus on the reason she is barely clinging to her sanity.  :)

2. Passionate Housewives Desperate for God - (By Jennie Chancey and Stacy McDonald) The second most influential book I've read regarding motherhood and godliness.  I skeptically picked it up....and finished it changed in my perspective on my role, my purpose, and my views on womanhood.  It is completely politically incorrect - and utterly Bible based. It will not be a comfortable read - but is worth reading over and over again.

3. Support - and not from a good bra....although that is very nice. Having a network of people around that encourage me towards God, towards my husband, and yearning to guide the hearts of my children.  Who your friends are is ALWAYS important - but in this battlefield of motherhood, finding people who are in various stages of mothering  as your backup when you just want to curl up in a corner and hum is essential!  Being a mom (especially one who stays home)  can feel extremely lonely - so seek out people that will encourage you in the moments when you are on the edge!

4. Sense of Humor - No matter what happens...there is always a funny lining. :)  Baby just spit up all over your clothes right before the plane takes off and the puke is dripping down your chest, puddling in you bra and underwear?  (Yes, that happened) At least you get to sit in a row by yourself instead of being sandwiched between two very large men!  Suddenly have to sneeze and can't cross your legs?  You've been given the gift of understanding older people and how very hard it is to adjust to physical changes!

What are some of your favorite things from your motherhood journey?  (Don't worry - the post about products will be coming soon!)  :)

Copyright 2010

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Time to whip out the check-lists....

So, I've mentioned before that we are preparing for our first deployment in 3 years... to explain how much life has happened since the husband was last away, here's a quick summary...

We only had 1 child...this time we have 3 and one in the pod.

(Told you it would be quick!)

Since it has been awhile since I've flown solo....I decided to make a list of items I need to have on hand before he leaves:

Infant Tylenol, Children's Tylenol, Benadryl, bandaids, and a teething ring.
Rolls of coins  - for the laundromat
Mechanic's phone number - for the flat tire, or leak, or whatever-could-possibly-go-wrong-with-the-car.
Batteries and candles - we lose electricity almost every time it storms
Obstetrician and Pediatrician on speed dial

Well, I am sure you are thinking, "What an odd list of things to have on hand!" I can assure you it is not. Nor is it overkill.  There is a Murphy's law that seems to relate to the Navy....Everything that can go wrong, will. Immediately AFTER the ship pulls out of port.  (Okay, so that is actually my own saying.  But it really holds true!)

You probably think I am exaggerating....I wish I was...but I'm not! Don't believe me?

Once - the day after he left for 3 months- Canaan came down with the flu. And shared with me.  Then she cut 4 teeth - in one week.(Did I mention she also got an Upper Respiratory Infection less than 24 hours after the flu? And that I was still in my first trimester with Lena? And that we were prepping to move?)
Another time - the week he left - she had a double ear infection. The night before we flew out of state for a friends wedding. And the airline lost our luggage when we returned. And, my washing machine died. With a load of clothes in it. And our car had a flat tire.

Can I prepare for every-single-possible-thing that can go wrong? Nope. But I can try!  This time, I am just hoping the meltdown-breakdown-illness holds off until week 2...we have a wedding out of town that 3 of the 4 of us are in and I really don't want to be the reason people remember it!

Copyright 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Whaaaaat did I just say????

Things I never thought I would say.....but have. Over and over again.

1.  Stop crying - or I'll give you something to cry about. 
2.  If you don't stop your whining I will just TURN THIS CAR AROUND.
3.  If you want to engage in a battle of wills - I WILL win. I am exponentially more stubborn than you.
4. We keep our dresses DOWN.  SERIOUSLY! Stop putting the hem over your head!!!
5.  No!  You don't put your hand up Mommy's dress! Or Skirt! Or Shirt! 
6.  (Always immediately after #5)  AND NEVER pull Mommy's Panties down!!!! (Lena - I will be using this story at your wedding....rest assured.)
7.  Don't eat food out of the TRASH CAN!
8.  You can't just kiss strangers....even IF you just found out their name....they are STILL a stranger.
9.  Whatever it is...the answer is NO.
10.  Stop messing with each other and just sit there and play with yourself. (Okay - so that one I've only said once....but it was pretty funny!)

Do you have any phrases you would like to contribute?
Copyright 2010

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mrs. Pokey-awna

When we went Cabinning at Crabtree Falls over 4th of July.....we became assured that our eldest bean is either destined for the stage....or losing her mind.  (Perhaps it is a combo?!)

On the porch of our cabin there was a beautiful Hiking stick just leaning against the wall.  Canaan (always in search of a friend) eyed the smooth stick and decided it would make a perfect friend for the duration of the trip.  (She is always most industrious in the friend-hunting when her younger sisters/playmates are napping) Anyway, Jonathan and I were sitting on the porch enjoying the peaceful setting... and we heard Canaan having a full in-depth conversation with someone...just out of our line-of-sight.  As we watched the scene unfold - we observed Canaan hugging the hiking stick, talking to it, singing to it, and finally, dancing with it!  Once I gathered myself together, I asked Canaan "Who are you talking to?"
Canaan said, "Oh!  I'm sorry I didn't introduce you - this is Mrs. Pokey-awna."
"Mom - you need to say 'Nice to meet you,' just staring at Mrs. Pokey-awna is rather rude." Canaan whispered to me behind her hand with furtive glances at the stick/friend.
I whispered, "Sorry."  Full voice, "Nice to meet you, Mrs, Pokey-awna."
Then Canaan said, "Mom! Its just a stick. Why are you talking to it????"

Copyright 2010

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


I had forgotten about the growing pains involved with deployments (forgive me, its been 3 years!).  Getting reacquainted with where all the important papers are, having a firm grasp on, well, everything, thinking ahead to get all the heavy stuff moved, finishing all the projects, desperately trying to multiply the moments together.  Many military spouses speak of the odd phenomenon of higher levels of aggravation with each other just prior to a separation...maybe it is easier to leave/be left when you are mad at each other?? I don't really know...but we have to work harder at not letting the little stuff get in the way as we "gear up." 

I was asked today about what its like to be a Navy Wife (A question often asked!) and it caused me to be very pensive - especially in light of the upcoming separation.  Perhaps the answer I've come up with will help in understanding me...or the role...or you might think it is completely wrong....oh well - here it goes anyway!

Being a Navy Wife for me has been a journey.  It has been - at times - a training ground for remembering Who is actually taking care of my husband. (Nothing like having no control over your schedule - even 24 hours in advance to make THAT one clear!)  It has been a boot camp in personal growth.  We've been married almost 7 years now - and all except for the first 3 months I've shared my husband with the US Government.  It can be exceptionally hard. It can be extremely rewarding.  It is a constant mix of sadness and joy - because every time my husband has a homecoming, I know someone else just said goodbye.  It can be lonely, yet it is filled with opportunities to build friendships to last a lifetime - even if you only live near each other for 6 months! It is a wonderful place for self-discovery. (Nothing like moving to a new place and being surrounded by challenges to see what you are made of! Or what you CAN be made into!) It is the tool God has used to break me and rebuild me over and over.  
Would I recommend this military spouse life to everyone? No. 

But for me, it is completely a right fit.  How do I handle the deployments, the moving, the combat zones, and the loneliness? I know I married the man God made me for...He has fit me perfectly to help my husband and support him wherever he is.  That doesn't mean it is easy - but it does mean the Lord is with me and will give me strength to get through whatever lies ahead. 
Me and my Navy man. :)

Copyright 2010

Monday, August 2, 2010

As Happy As A Pig In...

As Mommy for almost five years now - I've experienced my fair share of gross, nasty, and flat-disgusting  moments.  I've been pooped on - twice.  Puked on - countless times.  Peed on.  Spit-up on. Sneezed on in the face. I've fished poop out of the bathtub and cleaned up excessive amounts of throw-up. However, today takes the cake for a new level of yuck.

This morning Taylor slept in...so I thought.  So when 9:15 rolled around and I finally had to go into her room to wake her - I was surprised when the sight of a happy smiling baby did not match the smell accosting my nose.  When I opened the door to her room I was hit with a stench so strong it immediately garnered gagging noises from Lena. (One who is not known for her subtlety.) Upon closer inspection, I discovered the happy baby bouncing in her crib had been very busy for however long she had been awake.
 Poop. Yes. Poop was smeared all over Taylor's body. She had somehow managed a blowout up the back of her diaper that stretched up to her shoulder blades AND covered the back of her diaper! On the outside. Completely.  She also somehow blew it out her thighs...and that was the primary supply area for her morning finger painting session.  Not only were her legs covered...it was smooshed between her toes...covering the bottoms of her feet...on her hands...on her CHIN...even her hair was standing up with the help of the most odiferous hair gel I've ever encountered.  On top of all that - there were little brown footprints covering the edges of the pale pink crib sheet and her two blankets.  Yet, was Taylor upset by the stinking filth she was surrounded by and covered in? Oh no!  She was happy as a pig.
Copyright 2010