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Friday, June 28, 2013

12 Things I Learned in June

I haven't done a "Link Up" before, but I've been reading over at Chatting at the Sky for a few months now, and I really enjoy her perspective.  So I'm joining in the community of bloggers!  Here's a few things I learned in June:

1. After visiting the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville Alabama (where I lived from 10th grade- age 24, and had somehow not visited before),
I learned that many of the schools in this town are named after astronauts and other contributors to space exploration.  That makes so much sense, but I really had no idea.  For example, Mr. Ed White, Mr. Grissom, and Mr. Chaffee were the three men who were the astronauts in the test simulation who died on earth during a practice run when their pod caught on fire and they were unable to escape before smoke inhalation killed all three.  Sad, but true.

2. Amy Grant and Natalie Grant (Christian female singers), are unfortunately not related at all. But how cool would that have been?! For some reason I used to think they were mother/daughter, although they don't really look alike... for me it was a major disappointment.

3. Even old men like receiving cards with their picture on them.  Walgreens has several super cheap deals on cards and other photo items that you can give as gifts. For mother's day our moms loved our homemade cards, and I got my mom 4 recycled shopping bags with big pictures on them, and John got his mom and I big blankets with a picture collage of Jonah's first year.  I knew we ladies loved the pictures and personalized cards, but on Father's Day, even our dads loved them! Now I'm not saying the pictures are high-quality or anything, and the paper looks grainy and recycled, but they're cheaper than a Hallmark card in the store, with personalized photos and messages.

4. No matter how often I type it, the word "from" always ends up "form" and I have to go back and correct it.  "Morning" is also often "Monring" according to my fingers.

5.  When you plan a "Family Trip" you think it will be so nice to get out of your little southern Mississippi town.  However, when you bring the house full of kids with you, it's not nearly as great as it sounded before you left.  It's definitely NOT a vacation, anyway.

6.  Eventually, five months of constant baby sign language will pay off and at least one of the babies will suddenly start signing and talking back to you! Yay for 18 month Other Baby finally signing and trying to say: "More," "All Done," "Nite Nite," "Yes," and learn the "ABC's" (A-G anyway...).  However, noticing Other Baby signing seems to make our 13 month old Jonah stubbornly refuse to do so.  He used to do "More" and "All Done" and he has suddenly started whining like a little pig instead for all wants. It's almost like he's thinking, "I canNOT believe you taught that other kid our Secret Code, Mom!" He'll get over it and start signing again, eventually...I hope.

7. My helpful mother reminded me of this one: Sometimes God calls us to push immovable rocks for a while.  We may keep asking God, "Why are you making me push this big rock when it hasn't moved an inch?"  He answers, "Look how strong your body has become from pushing against this rock! Look how much patience you have developed.  I see how strong your prayers have become from the times you cried out and asked me to help you push that rock!" We sure do feel like we've been pushing some boulders lately!

8.  "If God doesn't rule your mundane, then He doesn't rule you, because that's where you live." This quote from Paul Tripp in this great article by Gloria Furman really helped to change my perspective on all the "Mundane" things in life right now.  From constant laundry and dishes and cleaning, to struggling to reach two teenagers who don't really want to let us in, I needed to read and re-read and ponder this article several times to let it sink in and ask God to transform me.  I am still very much in process of trying to become more grateful, compassionate, and loving through every task, but it's a real mindset/soul altering change that takes a while to finish.  Another blog I read said that changing diapers is the modern day equivalent of washing feet.  I'd rather wash feet though. Ah, this pursuit of holiness!

9. Exercise is not only good for your body - but so very good for your mind as well! I really learned why exercise is so positively addicting and great for your mind and body in this neatO article!

10.  Becoming a mother has made me appreciate my body more, and care less about make up.  I love the way my one year old generously gives cuddles and kisses only first thing in the morning, when we both have bad breath, and I have done absolutely nothing to my hair or face. I'm mommy, and that's enough for him.

11. Speaking of bad breath - apparently all cute baby smells DISAPPEAR when said child is around age one.  Jonah smells like a wet puppy if he's outside for more than 5.7891 seconds.  He has bad breath in the morning.  Long gone are the mild breast-milk diapers, and in their place we have the most disgusting solids and teething loose stool combination diapers ever.  Oh for the sweet baby smells again...

12. I am happiest in my marriage when my husband and I are actively, regularly, praying together.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Prep Work - Just Do It!

 I have noticed and learned lately that the better I, or my husband, or anyone for that matter, prepares for something ( a task, a meal, a sermon, a lesson, a trip, etc), the better the outcome usually is.

As a teacher, most of the good lessons I taught came from being prepared.  When I had all the materials ready, the technology ready with a single 'click', the script in my head, and the objectives on the wall and explained to the students, I taught a better lesson, the students LEARNED more, and I was less stressed.  Now, as a parent, I am learning the same principle applies.

When I take the time to prepare meals in advance (mostly consisting of cutting all veggies and making sure I have all ingredients needed), it really helps me to accomplish more and be less stressed during cooking and at meal times.

When I read my Bible and have quiet time in the morning, I am preparing myself to be a kinder, more loving wife and mother with the influence of my Savior.  When I prepare our household for big events the night before - making sure everyone bathes and picks out clothes, and the diaper bag is packed - we are much less stressed in the morning trying to leave the house. I have watched my husband prepare for a message or sermon for 3 weeks and totally nail it, or throw something together the day before and blow it.

When I was pregnant with Jonah, I wanted to have a natural labor and delivery, so I had to prepare mentally and physically for it.  I walked a LOT, did some yoga and pilates, and read several books and articles about it. I wrote down encouraging scriptures, had my husband write me encouraging notes, and we hired a doula to help.  It was totally worth all that prep work!  (You can read about his birth story here Jonah's birth) I wanted to breast feed, so I took a parenting class, read articles, and talked to other women who knew about nursing.  Jonah wasn't the greatest nurser because he was so easily distracted, but other than that, it went pretty well, for the first solid seven months, anyway.

When I taught exercise classes (mostly Les Mills), I had to know the choreography well to teach each class.  On days when I didn't have to think so hard about what came next, because I was well-prepared, I could lighten up, have fun, joke a little, sing, dance, encourage, and give better instructions for how to do the exercises.  I knew I had to prepare to be a good instructor.

I am viewing exercise now as preparation for our future.  We are preparing ourselves to be healthy parents, to age well, to be able play with our kids for many years to come by staying active now.

I'm not saying I'm an expert at this by any means.  We still have plenty of stressful, rushed, hectic days where I sit back and say, "Why did I not prepare better for this?" We often miss Sunday School because it's just that difficult to get 5 kids and 2 adults out the door in time.  So don't think we live in this pristine preparation bubble.  Oh No, I want to be real and honest and tell you that we don't.  However, I can tell you 100% of the time that we prepare ahead for things, they go exceedingly better than the times we do not.

This week, we are preparing to go on a big trip, bringing all the kids to Alabama for sort of "Summer Vacation."  I am about to be entrenched in laundry, cleaning, and packing, so that the day we leave, we will be less stressed and it will all go smoother.  Prep work isn't easy, but I have learned in numerous situations that it is completely worth the effort.

Jesus prepared his whole life for his ministry, and continued to pray and meet with the Lord to prepare himself daily.  Our pastor preached a phenomenal sermon around Easter on how Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was a preparation time for him to be fully surrendered and ready to go to the cross.  He sweat blood during those prayers - he did the preparation to get himself ready to be the sacrifice, so that during the trial, the beatings, the mockings, the torture, and agony, he could continually draw on that strength and peace he had established in the Garden.

What do you need to prepare for today, so that you will be better tomorrow? It's worth it my friend!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Funny Moments

Yes, that's my baby!
Trying to remember/capture some of the funny times amidst the more difficult ones...

One morning I gave Other Baby quite a big handful of cheerios on the high-chair tray.  When baby was full, baby started throwing them on the floor, and I kept saying, "No! No throwing food!"  John turned around and looked at the tray and said, "Whoa! How many did you put on there!?"  I paused, a little frustrated because I was also trying to feed Jonah at the same time, and so I sarcastically answered, "63. Exactly." He laughed and helped to pick up the ones baby had thrown.

Things we have said to the babies, more than once:

"NO! We don't bite our friends!"

"NO! Do NOT put your hand in poop!" (Mid-diaper change)

"Please don't pull my hair...NO! No hair for you!"

"Ouch! Don't poke me in the eye!"

"No, you can't put your fingers in my nose."

"NO! We ride the motorcycle, not stand on it!"

Standing on the motorcycle
"Stoooooooop Cryyyyyyyyyyyying!" (Not that it ever works, but in desperate moments you say it anyway)

"We don't eat socks."

"Get OUT of the toilet! Yucky!"

"Noooooo...Windex is not for babies."

"No, mommy is eating that, you cannot put your hand in it."

"Please don't do that while I'm trying to feed you." (Think "Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah" noise because mouth is open and hollering while the hand is hitting it over and over to create sound stops/starts, which creates great frustration for the parent trying to put food therein.)

"NO! Don't puke!" (This sometimes does work - the element of surprise can stop them if they're just gagging a little)

Then there are the things John and I say to each other:

"I call -Not It- on that diaper."

"If you're going to be in there a while, take a baby." (referring to restroom trips)

My partner in crime
Jonah already finds all bodily functions to be humorous.  When we laugh, or sneeze, or burp, or pass gas, he laughs like its a great joke.  He's ONE.  How much worse this is going to get with time, I can only imagine!

Then there's the little jokes we have with the teenagers, occasionally.  The oldest boy frequently lets us know how he feels "trapped" and like a "slave" although he really has a lot of freedom here. Their main issues are that they can't have cell phones, and they can't get on social media stuff (facebook, etc), and they can't just come and go as they please, so we often get this, "See, if I was at home..." story/complaining business.  I understand, I do, but it doesn't make it any Less annoying.  One day he announces at dinner, "I'm a slave. This place is just like a big plantation."
John - "Really? How is that, since you don't do hardly any work besides keeping your own room clean, you do get paid an allowance, we don't own you at all, and this place doesn't make any money.  This is a NON-PROFIT organization."
Kid - "OK, then I'm a sharecropper."
HAHAHAHA! Yeah.  We had to laugh so we wouldn't get mad and super annoyed at the ingrate.

Our most recent funny moment was tonight because we ran out of gas in the Ford Flex.  I have owned many vehicles.  I love and have fully respected all vehicles we've had that are Toyota and Nissan.  I'd like a Honda someday maybe.  I drove a Ford Contour in High School, and now one of the village vehicles is a Ford Flex.  I'm sorry if you're a Ford fan, but after these 2 vehicles, I AM NOT.  I really dislike Ford manufacturing.  The "Found On Road Dead" acronym seems to fit perfectly.  The Flex said "26 miles to empty" when we pulled out of the driveway to pick up the kids from VBS, less than 5 miles later, we had to pull over as the car ran out of gas.  Major bummer at 8:45pm, in the rain, with 2 babies and 2 teenagers.  It was super annoying, but looking back, it's kind of funny, because I had just told John, "We should just get like $2 of gas here to make it into town." and he was like, "No, it still says 10 miles, we'll make it." Not so, my darling.  Oh well.

A nice, but somewhat intoxicated country stranger stopped and drove John about 2 miles back to the house to get the other vehicle and the gas can.  There was some pushing of the vehicle to move it to a safer place off the road, and we left the flashers on, locked it, and left. We then had to drive into town to get gas in the little can, and buy a funnel from Wal-Mart because the gas tank spout on the Flex makes it impossible to pour gas in from anything remotely easy.  I was just thankful that we had literally just fed the babies and changed their diapers before we left, so they weren't bad at all, and the one time we leave the house without the diaper bag, it wasn't a big deal.  It was funny/hot to see John unhook the car seats and move the babies - still-strapped-in-to-their-car seats from one vehicle to the other and re-install the car seats in the other vehicle.  It was funny because it was so awkward looking with the babies still in their car seats looking around like, "What the heck?" and it was hot because I know those things are super heavy.  Jonah weighs almost 30 pounds now (yeah, he's a chunk!), so our little sumo man and his big-kid car seat is crazy large to just be pulling up and moving around like cake.  Go strong hubby!  Then John was so silly all the way from Wal-Mart back to the Flex, making goofy noises in the funnel like a teenager.  I sat in the back with the babies and kept kissing and tickling them to keep them awake so they would take their bottles and go to bed like normal when we finally got home.  Not a bad night. Ahhhhh, good times.

I know I'm not super funny, but Ilana, a working New York mama, is hilarious on her blog over at Mommy Shorts if you need a laugh, although she does use some profanity.  I'm going to try baby mugging very soon!