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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: June 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Easy Day

Learning to say yes to messes.

I woke to baby stirrings.  Reached over the side of her bassinet and pulled her into my arms.  I nursed her for the first time in almost two weeks.  Fears and worries drained away as she latched on.  Suckled.   I sighed relief.  Silent praise.

Always asking to paint.
The alarm sounded and My Beloved moved from beneath covers to stop the sound.  Grabbed up clean clothes and moved toward the shower.  A door opened down the hall and little feet came walking toward my door and moved inside.  A messy headed boy climbed onto our bed.  We talked while sweet Belle nursed.  After a few minutes other littles were making their noises from the bedroom down the hall.  The toddler struggling with the door knob;  not able to open it himself. 

It was starting again.  A new day.  Yesterday, like so many recent days, was hard.  I determined then that today... today... I wanted it to be easy.

Last week I say yes to Father's Day cards.

Daddy leaves for work on time.  A group of littles wave from the front porch before we all head to the kitchen to scavenge for breakfast.  Almost 4 weeks since our last full shopping trip, we're running a little dry.  We buy farm fresh eggs and raw milk from a local store, so I open the carton and warm the pan.  Strawberries brought with a chicken dinner late last week bring smiles to little faces.  Applesauce fills bowls.  Eggs cook.

Caterpillars from our kit.

Behind me children do their thing.  I don't yell.  Water spills.  I bring a towel.  Little Man howls hunger and impatience.  I calmly correct.

Breakfast dishes gathered to sink, we move to the living room.  Kids ask for Candy Land.  Unhesitatingly, I say yes.  Their faces light up as I choose relationship over the easy way.  But isn't that just it?  Choosing to love on these sweet children by giving my time to them in relationship is a yoke I cannot, would not, choose to do on my own.  But in it, I took on the yoke that is easy, the burden that is light.

Another favorite I usually say no to.

Later we do some handwriting and math, Tornado and I.  Sweet Pea plays at the table.  Little Man "sits" with me and, for nearly 45 minutes, I patiently "guide" him through one tantrum after another, training him to sit nicely in my lap. 

The day passes.  Nursing.  Lunch.  Nap time. Play. Dinner.  Reading together.  Baths. Bed.

Little Man's first play-doh experience

No part of the day is perfect.  Training moments abound.  Correction too.  At day's end I'm tired, but not from a hard day.  I worked hard, but my day was easy... His burden is light!

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Longing for the Easy Life

I'm reading through Managers of Their Chores by Steven and Teri Maxwell.  I'm really enjoying the book so far.  I'm still in the trenches of the why and wherefore, and haven't yet reached the practical how to on training my children to do their chores.  I look forward to that part and have been tempted more than once to skip ahead and get on with it already.  I already agree with everything they say anyway.  Though they have thought through more than I have and it's great reading.

Chapter five is all about Dad's attitudes.  It was a great chapter.  They present the entire household/family as being Dad's responsibility.  Mom's the helper, but ultimately, it all falls on Dad.  What mom wouldn't love that?  Still, many of the things I read in that chapter I knew could and does apply to me and there were several "ouch" moments.

So when I turned the page to chapter six and saw that it was all about Mom's attitude, I knew I was in for it.  I grimaced just seeing it there.

And I was right.

The first page.

"Owning Responsibilities."  Hmmm... I wondered, looking at the section heading.  I wonder what that's going to be about. 

I read on with head turned, eyes squinted, peering out of the corner of my eye.  Afraid.  And well I should have been. 

"A starting place for us as mothers is to own our responsibility in our duties first as mothers and then as homemakers." (p. 41)
This doesn't just apply to teaching our children to do chores.  This can apply to my minute by minute attitude toward my children.

They reference Titus 2:4-5, which lists loving husbands and loving children before being keepers at home.  Then 1 Timothy 5:14, that talks about bearing children and then guiding the house.  Not tearing the house down with anger and yelling.  And finally Ephesians 6:4, which reminds fathers (and dare I say mothers as well) not to provoke your children to wrath, but to "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

They continue:
"These verses are a good summary of the major responsibilities God has placed into the life of a Christian wife and mother.
 Have we owned these responsibilities, or do we shirk them?  Sometimes it can be easy to feel like it is too much, too hard, and too overwhelming." (p. 41)
Isn't it so easy to feel like it's too much?  Too hard?  Way too overwhelming?

I don't know about you, but I have not "owned these responsibilities".  But to say that I shirk them hurts.  Can't there be something in between?

I so want there to be something in between.  But there's not.  We're never going to be perfect, but if we are not "owning these responsibilities", we certainly are shirking them!

I have been, not just failing, but shirking these responsibilities in my attitude and behavior toward my sweet children.  I do desire to change, but it does feel like it is "to much, too hard, and too overwhelming."

In the Maxwells' very next sentence, I shifted from worn out and hopeless, discouraged that I have not "owned these responsibilities" to the reminder of hope given in the Scriptures:
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).


What did that say?

"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden..."  That's me!

"For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

I read it over again.

"Easy... Light."

God has given me the task, these responsibilities in raising up my children.  To love them and to train them.  Not to be angry with them and to yell at them all the time.  Leaning on myself always gets me to the same place... shirked responsibility.

Jesus says, though, that his yoke is easy, his burden... light.

He doesn't ask us to do anything He will not enable us to do.  Should I simply come to Him with this area of life and motherhood and frustration, He has promised rest

And if I will only be willing to take His yoke upon me, to learn of Him, I will find rest for my soul.

And then, resting in Him, I will find that his yoke... walking with Him in the life He has called me to... is easy.  That His burden... everything so heavy upon my shoulders each day... is light

I can "own these responsibilities".  But I cannot do it alone.  I must go to Him, take up His yoke, and find rest for my soul!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Saying I love you

Playground fun

I'm not going to hide from you that the last couple weeks have been hard.

Hard emotionally.

Hard physically.

Hard as a mom.


Mashing bananas for daddy's birthday cake
Among the difficulties is my sweet Little Man.  Combined with my lack of energy and my being pulled in multiple directions (i.e. pumping and bottle feeding to name a few), Little Man has an overdeveloped willfulness that has come close to pushing me over the edge a time or two (or more!)

Candidly, I've found myself downright angry... even livid!

Winter fun
In the last week I've found a bag of yogurt covered raisins widely dispersed on my living room carpet.  Little man sitting in the middle of the room with loaf of bread in his lap, large chunks gone.  Permanent marker on toys and shirt.  Hands, smeared on my favorite skirt, covered in ink from my printer.  Breast milk dumped all over the ottoman and carpet (on a positive note, I was going to dump it anyway, but not in the living room.)  There are so many more I could list, but I've blocked them out.  And I thought I was watching him... imagine how bad it could be. 

Do any of these things, or the outright disobedience, justify my anger?  No.

Just the same, I have been.  Time and time again!

A favored way to slide
I've found myself yelling, or seething through gritted teeth, "[Little Man]...", and the next words were not going to be pretty.  In my heart I was poring out my feelings toward that Little Man without restraint.  Sinfully.

I praise the Lord I was willing to restrain myself from actually saying them.  No little one (or his siblings) should ever hear such terrible things said to them by their mama.

So what did I do about it???  That, my friends, is the whole point of this post.

Playing ball with grandpa
In the heat of my desire to punish my sweet 22 month old baby with my words, I would begin... "[Little Man]..." but I would shift my words, and my heart, in that last minute with... "I love you!"

Sometimes those words were spoken in a whisper.  Sometimes they were through same gritted teeth.  Sometimes they sounded sweet, but most of the time they were said in the same sinful mean place my heart was.

Little Man just had to have a towel over his shoulder like mommy always does!
Funny thing though.  Not only did saying those simple words make my little boy smile, or even laugh (as mommy was using her "funny" voice... *sheepish grin*), but saying that I love you changes my heart... every time.  It reminds me that I do, indeed, love that little boy!

Please realize, this isn't a permanent solution.  If it were, I wouldn't be repeating the whole process scores of times in a single day.  The true issue is my heart... not his.  He's still a baby!  And, apparently, an untrained one at that.  

Saying these "I love yous" is simply a way out of the moment without injuring my little one.  To be truly affective, each one must come with repentance and a pleading for God's help.  Each situation will require different help.  For some it's a matter of learning patience and developing His heart for your children.  For others is wisdom in coping with your current situation (i.e. so many young children, sickness, etc.)

Know this.  He can and will forgive you if you take your sin to Him in broken repentance.  He can and will help you if you seek His wisdom (James 1:5-8).

Anyone ever been there?  Ready to yell horrible things at your precious children?  Next time, try an I love you.  It works wonders.

But don't forget the rest of it!

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Lyme Treatment and Baby

Last night I took my last antibiotic.  I'm not sure just yet when it will be out of my system and I'll begin nursing again, but at least I'm not putting them into my system anymore.

As far as the Lyme Disease goes, I am feeling much better.  I wouldn't say I'm at 100%, but I'm getting closer.  Ladies from church are still bringing meals for our family through this week and my mom's scheduled vacation here begins Friday night.  Hopefully by the time she leaves 2 weeks later, I'll be back full force!

Sadly, the sweet ladies who were able to pump for me early on have each had to stop for one reason or another.  I was so grateful that God helped me to see His heart about this issue before that time came.  His grace was and is sufficient for me, and though I believe we should take the best care of our babies possible, I also believe He cares more about our hearts than the nutrition.  He can provide for and protect my little ones as He sees fit.  And should it ever be in His perfect will not to in any way, that is His decision.  And he is good.  All the time!

So, without breast milk, My Beloved made a last minute, late night trip across town to the only store we could find that carried what we deemed an acceptable commercial infant formula and was still open.  After some research, we decided to use Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula.

I still think that, if we needed formula longer term, I would opt for making our own at home, but for this short term use, it's the decision, financially and for expedience sake, we went with.

I was relieved that she took to it easily, just as she had with the bottle in the first place.  Sadly, after the first couple days on formula full time, her little body wasn't having it so easy.  She's struggled with the constipation that sometimes comes with such a fast switch over from breast milk to formula.  :(  She is pooping, but it's difficult and painful.  She cries a lot, which is unusual for our sweet, normally happy baby.  And I can tell the difference in her cry.  It's definitely a pain cry.  As soon as I detect a problem, I whisk her up in my arms and we head to the bathroom where she can at least try to get that stuff out with mommy helping... and in a better position than laying on her back.  It seems to help... I hope so!

Sometime in the next few days we will be making the switch back to nursing.  I'm praying that's as easy a switch as the bottle was!  Pray with me??? 

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Hundred Acre Wood Baby Shower... and giveaway!

It used to be that there was a woman who was in charge of planning all the showers, etc. for people in our church.  She did our baby shower almost six years ago and it was great!  I always thought it looked like so much fun! But she was already "the one" and she was so much better at it than I would be anyway.  

A couple years ago I jumped at a chance to plan a baby shower for a friend and I had a blast.  It was a budget shower, but I thought it turned out cute!

Fast forward to the end of last year.  There were a couple of us pregnant at the same time, myself and another gal, expecting her first.  She needed a shower, but the "shower lady" and her husband had moved to another church where he took an assistant pastorship (or whatever you call it).  I talked with the church secretary about it.  Asked who was doing that now.  

No one. 

Really??? No one???

I offered (non-nonchalantly) to plan it.  And I mentioned that I'd talk to My Beloved about the ministry.

Fabric garland... tied onto raffia.

"Pooh Corner"... aka the gift table.  Honey at the right were game prizes.

So, back in January, I had the joy of planning a baby shower for a friend of ours.  (And I'm the new "shower lady"... so cool!!!  There's another one next weekend.)

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart."  ~ Pooh
Wreath inspiration here.

She had chosen a Winnie the Pooh theme for the nursery since they didn't know boy or girl, so I decided to go with a slightly more sophisticated "Hundred Acre Wood" theme for the baby shower.  

"Time for a Little something." ~Pooh
 I started with the food table, making the garland at the front and planning the perfect foods. 

Hunny Snack Mix

Hunny Wheat Pretzels

"Pooh Sticks"... chocolate dipped pretzels.
Oak Leaf Rice Crispy Treats (also dipped in chocolate... why not?)
Hunny Bee Cupcakes
Aren't they cute??  Mini marshmallows for wings.

And some other sweet things... Kettle Corn.

Chocolate Mousse... again, why not???

Ribbon accented half pint jars in brown, yellow and white serve as cups. 

I was stumped on the center piece until I found the split peas in the supply closet.  I found some pretty glasses in the kitchen and filled them up.  The honey sticks were also the party favors.  I wrapped them with green raffia and added a little note printable that said "Thank you for bee-ing here".  Then I added the Bit O-Honey around the tables too.  


 One last little detail... the subway art.  I came up with it myself and was really happy with it... except when My Beloved pointed out that Pooh would have spelled it "hunny".  Oh well.  It's fixed now.  I put it out as a decoration on the gift table and then gifted it to the mommy (without the borrowed frame.)

For a game I came up with a bunch of "Pooh Trivia" from the original stories.  It was great because many people know the newer versions of things, but few know the real story!  And store bought bottles of honey were the prizes... very simple!

You can find the printables I used for the shower here.

The Giveaway!
And now... if anyone is interested in the word art (subway art) in that last picture, I'd love to give a few away.  Leave a comment about your favorite party theme (for a kid party, baby shower, bridal shower... or whatever!) and I'll pick a winner next Wednesday.  (That's the day I'm hoping to be nursing again... you can help me pass the time until then!) Winners will get a JPG image to print yourself.  I used a lab to print mine, but you could do it anyway you want.

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

First Day of Spring Celebrations

Almost summer???  Then I suppose I should post about our "First day of spring" celebration!

With a new baby born just days before the first day of spring, I still had high hopes for a special day.  We picked up library books to start up my latest homeschooling plan.  Our first unit would be spring... original, no?

Since I brought our little Belle home on the actual first day of spring, I decided to bump our "celebration" to Friday.  Daddy would be off work still and grandparents were still here.  Perfect!

My kids had their first ever egg hunt.  We don't do anything "egg" related for Easter, but both My Beloved and I grew up with "Easter Egg Hunts" every year.  And baskets.  And bunnies.

So when we determined early on that we wanted Easter to be all about Jesus, I knew that, one day, I would have to institute a special "first day of spring egg hunt". 
We started pretty simple.  I picked up a couple bags of plastic eggs in advance and filled them the night before.  Each kid got a paper "lunch" bag that I folded down to make a nice sized "basket" for collecting their eggs.  Just before the hunt began, I grabbed my bag of eggs and went out back to hide them.  I knew just how many we had (33 I think) so each kid was allowed 11 eggs (though I think I increased the older ones and decreased Little Man's for time sake).  I put some up high, some down low, some in easy places, some in hard (I thought). 

After everyone was done, we headed back for the front door where they found this shared "Spring Basket" waiting on the front steps for them.

I simply used a basket we already use somewhere else and added the fabric and some blue "grass" someone gave us last year because they weren't going to use it. We were going to make cookies, but when friends brought us a bunch of cute "spring" cookies they had decorated, I just put a few of those in there (we're talking simplifying with a newborn here people!)

I had also asked my mom to find and send us some "Simply Fruit" fruit roll ups because I haven't found them in our stores.  That was a fun treat for the kids (and me!)  And the punch balls were from some other little gift a while back that we'd never used and forgotten about, so I put those in there.  (Sadly, I'm not sure we've done them yet.)

The kids thought it was all great!

Inside the eggs???  Not chocolate bunnies and jelly beans.

Nope... "Bunny" crackers (health food version of fishy crackers), almonds,

raisins, and cute little gummy "moose heads".

(I was fussing about wanting the gummy bunnies, but they were more expensive.  I was reminded by My Beloved that baby moose are born in the spring too.  I guess I was still stuck on the "Easter" part of the whole thing.  Glad to be reminded!) 

It was a great day!!!  What memories we made!  And they got to eat the contents of their eggs for lunch! :)

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

So Much Water

Water was everywhere.

Pooling on the counter.  Soaking through my clothes.  Dripping down the cabinets.  Puddling on the floor.


I just kept thinking about high school chemistry.  About those eye wash stations in the corner of the lab.  About that first day of class when they went over the safety measures.  What we were to do if some chemical was splashed into our eyes. 

I couldn't stand the thought of forcing my eyes open with water flowing directly into them.  I never wanted that to be me.

And now, here I was, spray nozzle in hand, doing it to my own little boy.

Twenty-two month old Little man lay on the counter screaming.  I took turns holding his eyes open to let water flow from the spray nozzle in my hand and wrestling his strong little body into a flat on his back position on the counter.  Then I repeated the process.

The kitchen was a mess.  Dishes, both clean and dirty, were everywhere.  There wasn't room to put him up at first.  Not until after I moved the dish drainer of clean dishes to the floor and shoved everything else to the far corner in one swift move of my arm.  Every second this took was another that his eyes could be burning.

Laundry soap.  The home made variety.  Washing Soda, Borax, Fels Naptha and Oxiclean.  I make mine dry, and I love it.  Saturday morning, home alone with baby Belle, Little Man and I were starting the laundry.  He put in the rest of the towels and I added the soap.

The tiniest bit of soap grainules remained in the spoon as I put it back into the two quart jar I keep it in and as I did, they flew past the top of the jar into the hall.  Right to Little Man.  Right into his eyes.

I froze, stunned.  Then I watched.  Maybe it didn't get those sweet eyes after all.  Then hands went to eyes and the cries began.

I grabbed him and ran through the house for what I would need.  What would be better?  Eye drop solution?  Water?  I wished My Beloved was here.  He's the EMT!  I grabbed the phone on my way by, dialing as I ran.  What should I do?  What was best?

"Water,"  he told me.  "Go to the sink." 

Alone, the process was hardly possible, but I kept at it.  My Beloved was going to try our neighbor to come help me.  He called moments later to say he found a friend, close by.  She was on her way.  I breathed an airy prayer of thank giving.  Extra hands would be nice, but this woman had been a paramedic.  At least someone would know what to do.

She came and held eyes open.  Tilted head.  Wrapped flailing body in a sheet.  Together we held my sweet boy down through wails and screams of "down" and "no" while I did to him the thing I hoped would never happen to me. 

Twenty-five minutes passed.  The time recommended by poison control for those chemicals.  Now it was time to watch.  To see.  Would he rub?  Fuss of pain?  Could he see?

Picking him up I held him close.  Offering comfort.  Then stripping him of soaked clothes, set him down.  Set him free.

We watched and he didn't rub.  His eyes were barely red, even after the washing.  He looked right at us, eye to eye.  He could see.

He was fine.

We would both sleep well that afternoon.

Sweet friend stayed a few minutes to make sure I was okay before I sent her on her way.  Isn't it always us mamas who are still shaken up while our littles run off and play like nothing ever happened.

God spared my little guy's eyes that day!  I prayed and prayed throughout the whole ordeal... Please let him see!  But even in the midst of the seeming chaos, I had to answer the question... Will you praise Him still?

Yes Lord!  No matter what happens in this moment.  Whether sight or blindness.  I will praise You still... for You are good.  All the time!

Any other accidents this past week?  Any close calls?  Have you ever had to do an eye wash on one of your babies???  

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