Because I’m The Mama, and I Have to Choose What’s Best

20170427-IMG_3642

photos courtesy of Rachel and Twinkle Photo

 

Being in charge and the primary decision maker is one of the aspects of motherhood that exhausts me the most. Don’t misunderstand, my husband is a wonderful, involved and supportive father. But when it comes to the nitty gritty of the kids’ days, as a stay at home and homeschooling mom, I am generally the first line of defense. So all of that kin keeping, mental load kind of stuff tends to fall to me. The ongoing issues we have with our five year old have weighed heavy on us both for some time. But because I’m with him almost 24 hours a day, I take the brunt of it.

 

Our second born is a wonderful, sweet and bright child with an equally dramatic darker side. He can be laser focused for an hour with a puzzle that fascinates him and an hour later completely lose his mind over being asked to empty the dishwasher. (A chore we do daily at our house). He can be complimentary in one breath and insulting in the next. He learned to read before he was four by listening to me teach his sister (when I thought he wasn’t listening) and seems to have a knack for seeing patterns, whether it be in letters, numbers or shapes. But his stubborn nature and sometimes daily meltdowns over basic requests and inability to control impulses (such as smearing toothpaste all over the bathroom, just because) were wearing on me.

 

Last year we finally took him to see a child psychologist who was a former professor of my husband’s. My husband always liked this professor because he never assumed that every person has a diagnosis. After spending an hour with our son (during which time the child was the best behaved I have ever seem and momentarily wondered if he was still the same kid) declared him unlikely to have ADHD and a wonderful and likely gifted child. We had so many people assume he has ADHD, and mostly I thought he was just an active, energetic, boy. I didn’t want my son to think that there is something wrong with him just because his high energy doesn’t fit into the mold of what is considered ideal or acceptable in the current education system.

 

I didn’t want a label for him, but I did want tools to help us overcome our daily struggles. A year later we find ourselves in the process of getting him evaluated for sensory processing delays. It’s scary because it’s expensive and I haven’t yet wrapped my brain around what all of this means. These are relatively new terms and I’m hoping that at the end of all of this we’ll come up with something that will work.

 

It was a hard call to make, deciding to walk down this road but my husband and I ultimately decided we had to do what was best, not just for our son, but for our family. We don’t know what’s ahead, but we’re determined to make our way by holding fast to each other in love and hope, believing there are better days ahead.

 

20170427-IMG_3495

The Storm is Real, But He Is There: Five Minute Friday

35260166552_d0511717e8_b

Photo Credit: Fred Moore 1947 Flickr via Compfight cc

 

Things have felt a bit off kilter around here lately. Hubby’s work stress, some big decisions to be made for our kids, homeschool deadlines, and unexpected medical and car bills have made things a little bit crazy. We hit the summer activities with a bang, which is great for keeping the big kids busy but tough on introvert mommy who doesn’t love running here and there every day.

Even wonderful, long anticipated things like trips to visit far away friends and family can add pressure to the already intense season. I’ll be honest and say that I’m not feeling very steady.

This is where I usually talk about how Jesus is the rock we stand on, and he is unshakable, which is true. But sometimes when I don’t feel steady, being told that I am makes me feel a little crazy. Yes, it is still true and I need to speak truth.  Yet a different perspective can be helpful.

There is a great story in the Bible about Jesus and disciples going out on a boat into the Sea of Galilee. They met with a huge storm. But Jesus was asleep and the disciplines panicked. I’ve heard many deeply theological interpretations of this scripture, and I’m not going to dispute those. But I tend to take it at face value. Jesus walked the earth in a human body.  His human body was tired, therefore he had to sleep. But the disciples mistook his sleep for lack of concern.

The disciples woke him in distress, and he calmed the storm. But the storm wasn’t in their imagination. It was real. They were, in fact, unsteady. The sea was in turmoil. They were out of control.  But Jesus was in control. He did calm the storm, but even in the midst of the storm he was there.

I know that Jesus is there, even in my storms. I don’t deny the difficulties exist, but I will speak truth over them. I will acknowledge the unsteadiness without giving into guilt that I should be able to hold it all together on my own. I know that calm will come, though I don’t know when. I choose to remember that I’m not in the boat alone.

FMF-Square-Images

five-minute-friday-7

Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 4

Join Fit2b.us

 

Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 25+ minutes

 

We are officially into some longer workouts this week. It will definitely challenge your endurance. But it isn’t worth sacrificing your form and core engagement, so you can always break the workouts into small increments or even just stop early if you can’t keep going. As always, if you still have an abdominal separation, make sure to modify when Beth mentions it.

 

21 Tone Up

I’ve been a member at Fit2B for more than four years and this routine just joined my favorites list. While I like using different fitness equipment, I love that this workout doesn’t require any. It is a full upper and lower body workout. Plus, it takes up hardly any space. Nothing is more aggravating than going down to our family room first thing in the morning only to discover that the kids have left it so messy that I can’t even move. Then I end up wasting my workout time cleaning. But this workout takes up so little space that all I had to do was shift some toys out of the way with my feet. For those of us whose workout areas aren’t large, this workout is essential.

 

Thigh Workout II

While not up there with my favorites, this workout succeeds in providing just what its name suggests, a great thigh workout. There are ways to increase the upper body work if that’s what you want, but I decided to focus primarily on the lower body with this one. I’m finding that the”thigh thing” (that you’ll see featured in many of Beth’s workouts) is getting a bit easier for me. I don’t quite have the range I want yet, but I’m being especially cautious that my core is steady and my upper body isn’t shifting every which way.

 

Weighted Warriors

Since I’d already done the suggested Pilates & Yoga Loaded two weeks ago, I opted to substitute Weighted Warriors instead. This was an exercise in restraint for me. I began the workout with my heavier set of weights and quickly downgraded. I’m glad I did. I was able to focus on maintaining proper form and I was even a tad sore the next day, so clearly the larger weights would have done more harm than good. It can be so difficult to remain in a lower level when we want so badly to be pushing ourselves harder. I’m learning, slowly, that it’s better to be confident at a simpler level than to struggle at higher one. Learning when to push and when to hold back can be so hard to discern sometimes. Hopefully it will get easier as I continue to know my body better.

 

Plain Ol’ Pilates

For those of you who miss traditional Pilates workouts, this is a good one. It’s so much like what I used to do before I found Fit2B. That being said, I continue to find any extended portion of my workout down on my back depressing. It makes me acutely away of how far I still have to do with closing my DR. (I also take it as an opportunity to measure my abdominal separation if it’s been a while and I’m not due to start my cycle. In this case things had improved since I last measured, but still not where I’d like to be. Discouraging, but living in denial won’t help either).

The side leg series here were very challenging to my glutes especially, though I’d like more inner thigh work, since that seems to be an area that doesn’t get much attention. Overall a successful workout though; heart rate up, muscles engaged but not over taxed, not too much sweat.

 

Tabata Ball Workout

I finally invested in a weighted ball after doing this workout many times with just a dumbbell. (I purchased this 8 lb ball from Amazon. You can check out this link for the exercise equipment Beth Learn recommends or just find something from around the house). Wow, this workout got my heart rate going and the part that it worked the hardest, my fingers. If you have the time, I recommend doing Fingers and Toes after this workout. My hands actually ached a bit.

(I even I wasn’t aware of it at the time, this workout worked my hamstrings like crazy because I was sore for days.)

 

Love Handles Lost

This workout is usually not very difficult. But I did do it the day after Tabata ball. The entire side leg series was killer on my glutes and hamstrings. It was a good reminder why it is important to alternate the kind of workouts I do and which major muscle groups they work. As much as I want to do cardio everyday or weights everyday, for me, alternating seems to produce the best effect with minimal overtaxing or injury. Overall, I wouldn’t call this a difficult workout, but it’s nice to do the day after something pretty new and challenging.

 

There are definitely days when I still feel discouraged. But overall I do feel like I’m making progress. I’m trying to squeeze a workout in first thing after breakfast (at least after the kids eat, sometimes before I do). I never know if I’ll have the almost two year old sitting on me or the five year old running circles around me. On tired days I really struggle. Sometimes I have to take it easier than I’d like, using lighter weights or doing fewer reps. But I feel like I might finally be seeing some progress. (Now I just need to break the cookie habit to jump start my weight loss!) Week 5, here I come.

 

 

Don’t Forget! You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!

Fit2B Annual Membership

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support!

 

Closing the Door and Calling It Done

IMG_20170521_164945692

Just like the that, the baby phase is over. It’s been a difficult decision for my husband and me, as we figure out what we think our family will look like. You can dream and plan but there are variables that can’t be anticipated. We came by our decision with a great deal of thought, prayer and soul searching. There was also logic. Our three bedroom house that we just moved to; our ages; my increasingly difficult pregnancies and deliveries. We talked about it a lot and the biggest thing holding us back from making the final call was that something about our family felt incomplete.

 

Yet, we had to remind ourselves that we lost a child to miscarriage. I suspect this feeling of incompleteness will always be there, regardless of how many children we add to our family. Because we are incomplete, at least for now. Just as this world will never feel totally comfortable since it was never intended to be our permanent home (at least not in its broken state), so will we carry a certain level of emptiness for the child we are missing. There is great and beautiful hope, but we still feel the lack.

IMG_20170618_125804458

I’ve tried to write this multiple times. But I couldn’t quite find the way to express it. To talk about how it feels to know that there won’t be anymore babies. To mourn what could have been but to be excited about what is coming. I am someone who loves the baby phase. Despite the not sleeping, I just love that first year and a half as this new person is growing and discovering the world. Their needs are relatively simple and they take joy in the little things. While I love my older kids, I haven’t found the same enjoyment in their more complicated issues, strong opinions and the general chaos of the days.

IMG_20170518_175012624

But I have learned to cultivate excitement for this next season of life. A friend recently talked about how she feels like she is transitioning to the Renaissance of her life. She refers to the time when her kids were tiny as the Dark Ages. Of course she enjoyed her children, but life was hard. There wasn’t much money, time or energy to be had. It was survival mode. But now that her kids are a bit older and she is done with night time feedings, diapers and potty training, there are so many new things available to her. There is time for art, culture and travel. She is learning a new instrument and she has picked up a new career. Her point was that there is beauty and happiness coming. I found this hugely encouraging.

IMG_20170608_201446879

 

That is what I’ve chosen to focus on. I am likely less than two years away from being diaper free. As much as I have loved cloth diapering, I’m ready to be done. My kids generally sleep at night. Soon my kids will be able to do more for themselves. There will be time for me to be creative; both by myself and with them. I am looking forward to this.

IMG_20170422_113440359_HDR

With any time of transition, it hurts a bit and it’s easy to have doubts. I’m allowing myself to experience the sadness and remember fondly the things I know I will be giving up. But I’m also keeping my focus firmly in today, as I watch this last little one getting bigger by the day. I try to pause to soak him in. Then I turn my eyes forward toward what is to come; all the difficulties but also the beauty and wonder that comes with it.

 

 

I Am Valued, I Am Worth It: Five Minute Friday

20170427-IMG_3589

photo courtesy of Rachel from Twinkle Photo

 

One of the hardest parts for me, in the transition to being a stay at home parent was the loss of feeling valued. In a culture that determines our worth based on what we produce or how much we are paid for our services; unpaid, full time keeper of home and children doesn’t rank very high. In fact, we devalue those tasks as “not a real job” and lament the waste of talent and education.

The world around me is filled with voices telling me who I should be and why what and who I am right now isn’t enough.

“Isn’t it nice you get the luxury of staying home with your children?” those voices say. “But when they go school you plan to go back to work and get a real job, right?”

“Wouldn’t it be easier if you just sent them to regular school? How will you save for college if you don’t work?” question the well meaning friends, relatives and sometimes total strangers in the grocery store.

While I feel mostly secure with the simpler and non-mainstream kind of life we have chosen, sometimes it’s hard not to let those voices lead to doubt, both in my decisions and of my value. Is staying home with my children really worth while? Would it be better if I could provide them more material things? Would I be a happier person if I had the regular affirmation of a traditional job where my work was recognized and at a minimum, I had a paycheck to show for my efforts?

20170427-IMG_3634

photo courtesy of Rachel from Twinkle Photo

 

Then I am forced to again remind myself, that my value is intrinsic. No matter how much money I make (or don’t), how good I am at household management (or not) and whether my contribution is culturally recognized (or isn’t); my worth is the same. I am a child of God, who in this season of my life is called to be cook, laundress, house cleaner, nose wiper, diaper changer, teacher, calendar coordinator, boo boo kisser and taxi driver. It will not always be this way.

No matter how many times I remind myself of this, I keep coming back needed to remember again. Regardless of the hats I wear and the titles I hold, my name and identity remain the same. Beloved daughter of the most high God. Worth more than rubies, valued for who I am not what I do.

FMF-Square-Images-7

five-minute-friday-7

Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 3

Join Fit2b.us

 

Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 20+ minutes

20 minutes doesn’t sound like very long. It some ways it isn’t long. But it can still be difficult to find 20 uninterrupted minutes to focus on exercise.

 

Bag a Better Back

This was a tough one for me this week. I probably should have used less weight and in fact I did lower the weight at one point, but I probably should have brought it further down. I did my best to engage my core, but I probably over taxed myself in places. I was irritated at myself and my lack of progress so I may have pushed myself a bit too much with this one. But the beauty of these “bag” workouts is that you really can adjust the weight to your abilities.

 

Basic Aerobics IV

Basic Aerobics IV is one of my favorites in no small part because of the addition of weights. It’s got the same fast paced but doable choreography as in Basic Aerobics II & III plus the nice extra difficulty added on.

 

Jump Change

I heavily modified this workout, since I know that my core was a bit weak right now. I did side planks instead of full planks and made sure I was fully engaging my core with each movement. That said, while it did get my heart pumping, it’s just not a favorites.

 

Insane II

I was pretty worried about trying this workout. It’s been years since I attempted it. But it wasn’t actually as awful as I remembered. It’s definitely challenging and I had to be continually aware of honoring my core’s current state, but I was still able to do the whole workout. There is no doubt this routine will push you but it is insane in name only.

 

Wood Floor Workout

This is an usual workout. It’s definitely not like anything else on Fit2B. It works my muscles in a way that is unlike anything except when I take a good ballet class. The natural resistance produced by the floor and yet the control needed to prevent too much slippage makes this harder than it looks (but in a good way).

I did not get all the way through the first time I attempted this workout because as soon as I lay down on my back, my 20 month old son thought it would be funny to jump on my core. But I was able to come back and finish up after I put him in the high chair.

 

Kickboxing

This workout kicked my butt (pun totally intended). It’s been a while and this is an old favorite. I was excited to do it, but once you hit that 20 minute mark the chances of repeated interruption by small children go up exponentially. But I did manage to get through it and I look forward to coming back to it. I find this to be an easy workout to maintain good core engagement while still picking up the pace and making it a more difficult cardio routine.

This was a week of feeling accomplished. While I didn’t love every workout this week, overall I was pleased with how I felt. I was able to engage, modify at times and overall workout strong and in good alignment. I know from here things are about to bump up in length and intensity. I’m going to try very hard to carry this confidence (and good sense of healthy limits) into Week 4 of 6 X 6.

Week 4

Don’t Forget! You can use the coupon code laundryblog to get 30% off an annual membership with Fit2B Studio!

Fit2B Annual Membership

 

A Place to Launch and Land: Five Minute Friday

34541216815_6e5f1796aa_b

Photo Credit: obsequies Flickr via Compfight cc

 

When you first get pregnant some people refer to the pregnant woman and family as “expecting.” There are so many dreams, assumptions and expectations wrapped up in parenthood, especially with the first child.

I could never have anticipated a baby that didn’t sleep, at all really for almost a year. After successfully nursing my first, I never thought I’d have two boys who each had their own kind of feeding issues that resulted in obsessive weight tracking, and nursing and pumping around the clock. I didn’t imagine I’d be a homeschool mom with an elementary aged reluctant reader and a preschool early reader, at the same time.  That after four years of telling myself my son is just an active boy that I’d be finally getting him evaluated for cognitive processing and other sensory issues; both hopeful and fearful of what I will be told.

As a natural overachiever, I’ve had to learn to lower my expectations as a mom. Because childhood isn’t a race and parenthood isn’t a contest. It shouldn’t matter how my kids and my life match up against others. (Though I’d by lying if I said I don’t still play the comparison game at times).

I read a book recently that had a tag line I’ve tried to embrace.

301325_AFamilyShapedByGraceMorland_Posts5

I’m still figuring out what this looks like now, with small children. At times it means being honest with my kids when I’m struggling. Remind them I love them, even if their behavior is hurtful to me. Attempting to help them navigate the balance between needed time alone and the realities of living with others.  I expect that we will continue to have difficult seasons in our house. But I also believe I will be granted the strength and grace that I need. I know where I am weak, and it is in those areas where I most expect to see God show up; that when I succeed it may be credited to his might rather than mine.

FMF-Square-Images-5

five-minute-friday-7