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

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

Fit2B 6 X 6: Week 1

Join Fit2b.us

This week starts slow, which is good because trying to do 6 days in a row isn’t going to be easy for me. But 10-15 minutes is very attainable.

Goal: 6 Fit2B routines in 6 days for just 10+ minutes

 

The Big {Little} Band Workout  

I’ve always loved this little workout because I’ve always preferred stretchy bands to weights. While I’ve learned the benefits of weights and I’m looking forward to exploring them further as I improve my witness level, this is still one of my favorites.

 

Wall Workout with Beth

It was a lot harder to do this workout this time around, because I barely had any wall to work with. (It’s temporary until we can get some more boxes unpacked and out of the way). I appreciate how Beth provides modifications for this workout. I’ve been having to scale back the level of challenge I give my core while recovering from a bad two week cough. I was especially glad for her cues and reminders for how to keep the movements simpler while my core recovers.

 

Insane Upper Body

I’m still using a combination of 3 and 6 lb weights for this workout. I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon and not been able to increase my strength as I’d hope. However, I’m not willing to give up yet. Short workouts like this are a great opportunity to increase the intensity, because naturally it’s easy to do that for shorter duration.

 

Ab Attack

I haven’t done with one in more than a year. It’s great if you miss traditional Pilates style ab workouts. It’s totally tummy safe but still employs versions of many of those movements. Also a good opportunity to get down on the floor, since many of my favorite workouts are done entirely standing up.

 

Body Sculpting II

This little workout packs a punch. This was day where I had been too busy to workout but I thought I’d just squeeze it in before my kids got home from their evening program. It got my heart rate up, but could still do it at the end of a long day without feeling like I was immediately so exhausted that I had to go to bed.

 

Bag a Better Booty

I really do enjoy this workout but I can’t seem to find the right size bag to use. I often end up struggling to maintain my alignment and still be able to get the bag off the floor and perform each exercise as suggested. But it is definitely effective.
I really appreciate that this week is made up of such short workouts. (In the interests of honesty, it took me longer than 6 days to do this because I couldn’t manage to fit in a workout every day.) It can be so hard to build a consistent exercise habit, so starting with these short, but still appropriately intense workout makes consistency easier to attain.

On to Week 2, hopefully a little stronger now.

 

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

Fit2B Annual Membership

6 X 6 Pathway at Fit2B Studio

Join Fit2b.us

6 X 6

What do I do when I’ve fallen off the exercise wagon? What I always do, find a new Fit2B Studio pathway to explore. This is one of the few pathways I haven’t tried yet on Fit2B, so I’m very excited to see how it works for me.

The goal of the 6 X 6 pathway is to do 6 videos in 6 days for 6 weeks. I’m usually a 4-5 workout a week kind of gal, so disciplining myself with prioritizing fitness 6 days out of the week will be a challenge for me.
However, if you feel like 6 workouts a week just too many, guess what? You can take longer, 10 days, two weeks, whatever works for you.

I had planned to provide an update on my fitness and weight loss journey. Except I haven’t made much progress. Ok, that isn’t fair. I have definitely increased my stamina and in general I feel better. But my diet has been awful. (To summarize; too many birthdays, too many holidays, too much cake). So I’m taking steps toward making healthy eating easier and generally trying to be more aware of my choices. (Meaning that when I eat cookies I am well aware that they are not the best choice for me and then I eat them anyway. Seriously though, I have significantly increased my leafy greens intake, so that’s something.)

I’ve also been disappointed with the nasty, coughing cold that left my middle squishy and my separation pulled open again. So I’m being extra careful to listen to Beth’s cues and modify as needed moving forward. While I haven’t done as well at this as I’d like, I need to begin prioritizing my sleep again. I just can’t seem to get to bed at a decent hour and thus hauling myself out of bed with the kids in the morning hasn’t been much fun. I need to find a new routine that I can stick with.

It’s healthy to continually reevaluate our health and fitness situations. Sometimes we need to set new goals, or return to old goals. One of reason I stay a member of Fit2B is the need for new challenges and I always find that with Beth Learn. I can always find a pathway I haven’t yet explored or a series of new routines I haven’t tried. When I get into a fitness rut, there is always something to peak my interest again.
So join me as I review the 6 X 6 pathway. It starts out slow, just 10-15 minutes a day. We can handle that right?

 

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

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

Keep Dreaming

32854675054_df32d01e73_b

Photo Credit: jeronimoooooooo Flickr via Compfight cc

 

My husband and I were having a conversation the other night about dreams. Because we’ve just come through a season of survival mode. Looking back I almost can’t believe how long it lasted. I began packing up my house last summer, we made an offer on a new house in October and didn’t get a signed lease for our old house (now the rental property) until early December. Now we are starting into April and while my house is becoming livable, it is also still full of boxes. I’m still struggling with getting back to a routine and making sure all the necessities are covered.

While the whole moving process was a big part of our future dreams, during that time many other things had to be pushed to the side. We are both creative people and our creative activities have always been a big part of our personal self care. But during this survival mode season, much of that has had to take a back seat. Suddenly, the long term dreams and aspirations surrounding those creative endeavors seem like lost and forgotten dreams.

I was lamenting the fact that I seem to have given up on my dreams. (And that my wonderful and creative husband seems to have given up on his.) Then it occurred to me that there is more than one kind of dream.

 

Abstract Dreams

These are the things that sound nice, but may or may not ever happen. Somewhat along the lines of wishes, but I would call them more than that because usually we have invested a great deal of thought, and sometimes even preliminary plans into these dreams. Sometimes because they are entirely outside of our control (like winning the lottery), or simply highly unlikely or because they will require a complete lifestyle chance that we aren’t prepared for. My husband and I have a dream of sorts to travel the country with our kids and home school on the road. While it’s a fun idea, it doesn’t matter enough to us to do the work it would take the make it happen right now. That doesn’t mean never, but until we are prepared to take this dream to the next step, it will remain where it is.

 

Concrete Dreams

Concrete dreams are the kind that motivate goals. They may be likely or unlikely, but they meant enough that we are making measurable steps towards them. One of our dreams is to be debt free (or virtually debt free, I’ve decided to be Ok with a mortgage of some kind). So that means I have to do the math to figure out how to pay down our student loans faster than the current rate. Even if the steps feel small, they still have measurable success; even if it’s just $20 or $30 a month.

If my goal is to publish a book, reading books on writing, blocking out time to write and reading books in my proposed genre are helpful concrete tasks towards achieving that goal. Yes, given the number of people who claim to want to be published authors and the odds of being successful enough as an author to support myself and my family may not be in my favor. But I feel that even if I fail at that aspect of the dream, but in the process I produce work that I am proud of, I won’t really have failed.

I always struggle finding a balance between not dreaming at all (because it feels like it will never happen) and being Ok with dreams that I know are unlikely to happen. If something is really important to me, I need to be willing to make the lifestyle and financial sacrifices to make it happen.

 

Look Back and Remember

I also need to be willing to look back at my life and see where the dreams are coming true. My life may not be glamorous, but much of it is exactly what I always said I wanted. My desires and dreams may have changed a bit, that’s OK. But it’s still important for me to look objectively at my life and acknowledge with gratitude the dreams that have come to fruition. I have three beautiful children. We have been able to move out of our attached home into something a little bit larger. I am able to stay home with my children and home school them. These are all part of the dream I had when my husband and I were first married and I was working jobs just to pay the bills. Most of the paid work in my life hasn’t provide me with much fulfillment, but it was a means to an end.

 

Reassess and Categorize Accordingly

Sometimes we really do give up on a dream, but that doesn’t always have to be negative. Regularly reevaluating how we spend our time and money is a wonderful tool towards this end. If I believe that my dream is to run a marathon, but I can’t even bring myself to walk a mile, let alone take up running, I need to reconsider whether this is really a concrete dream or be willing to chance my behavior. Realizing that something we’ve been working toward is no longer what we want can be freeing. I can stop feeling guilty about what I’m not accomplishing and funnel my time, energy and money into something that I am really passionate about.

 

Enjoy the Journey

We also need to be able to enjoy the process. Life will never been perfect. It’s easy to think that when we have the house, the spouse, the kids, the dream job, the bank account life will be perfect and we’ll be able to relax. That once the kids are older, more independent, out of the house or we retire that suddenly we’ll be able to do all the things we’ve dreamed about. But I would counter that if something is a deeply held desire (i.e. concrete dream rather than abstract one) we will be working towards it now, at least in some capacity, rather than waiting for tomorrow.

 

Waiting Is OK

I think it is also OK to deliberately defer dreams. This doesn’t mean giving up on the, but rather making an intentional choice to pursue something at a later time. This is a hard one for me, because part of me is filled with the deep fear that some how I will miss out on the things I was meant to do. I have dreams regarding writing and speaking that are simply not possible right now. Why? Because other dreams have taken priority. The one’s involving a family, homeschooling and ministry that I am currently involved in. Because I am only one person, an I cannot do everything. (I am going to say that one more time, mostly because I need to hear it, but maybe you do to).

I CAN NOT DO EVERYTHING!

No one can. Despite what it meant appear on social media, none of us has it all together. We all must decide which dreams to pursue, which to defer and which to let go of. While there maybe be a sense of sadness or resignation in the process, it shouldn’t be a deep abiding grief. This is where may faith will show, because I firmly believe that if we seek God constantly and consistently in the process, he will be faithful to guide us. It is much easier to defer or even let go of a dream when we believe that God is faithful to guide and mold the desires of hearts into the best possible direction for us.

 

Ask yourself these important questions:

What dreams in my life are abstract?
Which dreams in my life are concrete?
Are these dreams in the correct position in my life? Do some abstract dreams need to become concrete through deliberate goal setting and intentional investment or do some need to be deferred or released as I pursue something else during this season?

Always keep dreaming, all kinds in all ways. Let that inspire and sustain you through the difficulties of today without allowing you to miss the beauty of the present.

Just As I Am: Five Minute Friday

32813231684_c26649ea7b_b

Photo Credit: Jim Morefield Flickr via Compfight cc

 

This is such a fitting word for someone going through the existential journey I have been on for the past couple of months. Because identity and purpose have been heavy on my mind lately; who I am and how I define myself.  Because I live in a culture that focuses so much on what I do as the definition of who I am.

When you are a parent who primarily stays at home and doesn’t have much else to show for her day than piles of dishes and laundry, defining myself by my accomplishments isn’t very appealing. I don’t produce much in the way of product because most of the tasks in my life are perpetual. Dishes will be used and washed, clothes worn, meals eaten faster than they are prepared.  Much of the rest is immeasurable. I cannot quantify the hugs I give my children or the discipline and encouragement I dispense (often more of one than the other, depending on the day).

It is easiest to define myself as wife and mother but if I wasn’t those things (or if I suddenly ceased to be those things), I am still someone. I can focus on my identity as author, dancer, creative artist, but again, even if those were stripped away, I am still someone.

As I’ve labored over this concept for the past few months a friend commented to me something that has stuck fast, and I keep returning to it again and again.

“Something that God is teaching me is that my most important ‘job’ in life is not to be ‘productive’, but to love Him. If I never work outside the home again; if all of my life is spent driving children, wiping bums and noses, limiting screen time and folding laundry, I am just as loved and valuable to Him as if I was a globe-trotting evangelist – and that’s what is really important. My value needs to be in what He thinks of me, not how ‘productive’ for the Kingdom I feel.”

I strive to live like I really believe this. That even as I pursue God’s will for my life, investing myself in dreams and desires that I believe he has given to me, I need to be willing to build all of that on the immutable and unchangeable foundation of my identity in Christ. That I am a loved child, a daughter of the king. Nothing I accomplish in my life can make me more worthy of that position in the heart of God than my redemption through the blood of Christ has already made me. It is done, finished. With that comes a beautiful freedom to explore because I cannot fail, not really. Because even if my strivings, godly as they are, come to nothing measurable; I am loved just as I am for who I am.

define-600x600

five-minute-friday-4

Finding Solitude and Silence in a Noisy World

32729176194_3d40723149_o

Photo Credit: Sober Rabbit Flickr via Compfight cc

 

I never realized before that there is no silence in my world. Yes, I know I’m a mom, so yes there is a lot of noise. But it’s more than that. I had given up even trying to find some semblance of silence. Some of it was of my own doing. Putting on the TV or the music. At first, it was a way to help create my own version of silence, to drown out the noise of the outside world. But soon I became dependent on having something going on. Because I couldn’t quiet my thoughts, so I redirected and distracted my mind instead.

But as I began to deliberately pursue silence and solitude, I became so much more accurately aware of the loudness of my existence. While we no longer live in the heart of the city, the street in front of our home becomes busy during certain times of day, in certain parts of the house, the sound of traffic rushes by, not regular enough to be a white noise substitute. Sounds of random construction vehicles and the distance siren of the nearby fire department are barely noticeable most of the time, but suddenly I became very aware of these outside distractions. They felt intrusive and I found myself irritated that the anonymous outside world would dare disrupt me with it’s noise.

I would try to take a shower, thinking maybe I could meet God there, but instead the children banged on the door and called out to me the whole time. Then when I situated them in front of the TV I could hear the sound of their fighting, and soon another was at the door to request assistance finding the desired movie. (This from a seven year old who figured out how to use Netflix when she was three). It felt like all the forces of evil were marshaled against me, determined not to let me experience silence. Then I realized, that is exactly what was going on.

 
“In silence there is the potential for each of us to ‘know that I m God’ with such certainty that the competing powers of evil and sin and the ego-self can no longer hold us in their grip. All the forces of evil band together to prevent our knowing God in this way, because it brings to an end the dominion of those powers in our lives.”
Invitation to Solitude and Silence: Experiencing God’s Transforming Presence – Ruth Haley Barton

 

Hell will throw everything it has at me to keep me from engaging God. So for now, I’m trying to avoid getting angry every time I’m distracted or interrupted and my senses are assaulted. I’ll just try again later. I have far from figured this out. I am seriously considering investing in good quality noise canceling headphones. Not so I can shut out everything else, though that helps, but so I can keep the distractions at bay long enough to hear the voice of my Father. I have to believe that eventually I will learn to create quiet within, without needing external silence.