Posts tagged ‘Mother’

A Letter to Myself

When putting away the Christmas clutter decorations, I wrote a letter to pack along with them and open next December. I know it will be new again, and I won’t remember writing it, because I wrote a grocery list last week and I didn’t remember anything on that by the time I get to the store.

Dear Me,

You’re looking well.

It’s all over. Another holiday season, another chapter, another year. Your tree was pretty bad. Seriously. Lights on half the tree is not better than “none of the tree.” It’s not usually a choice like that. I know that lights go on sale for 50% off on Boxing Day, but then you bought two packs of lights. If you would have just bought one box of lights three weeks before, you wouldn’t have as much stuff to put away now, and people wouldn’t look at you all sad when they see your tree.

I’m glad you took the whole month off school. It was busy enough! I’m glad you took them to do a few service projects, so that they can be a light to others (not 50% of a light, like your tree) and to teach them the world is much bigger than they are. Metaphorically and literally. They won’t forget that. Now try to be as courageous as your kids- people might not call you “so adorable!” but they may listen and you can be a light too. (Again, a WHOLE light. Not half.) It’s easy to hide behind their cuteness, but make sure you model evangelism and a “fear not” attitude. They will catch on one day, when you are always in the background. They will follow.

The gifts went well. Three each is enough. Every year you get all worried that it’s not enough, that other kids get more, blah, blah, blah. THEY LOVED IT. The gifts were thoughtful, in budget and you didn’t hurt yourself on the sewing machine. Well done.

The Christmas books, movies and activities were fun. You didn’t do all of Truth in the Tinsel, but your kids do not all like crafts, and don’t like them every day. It’s a beautiful thought to make a Christmas ornament each DAY of Advent, with part of the story to go along with it, but you have four kids. Four children X 24 Days= 96 ornaments in total. Are you really just trying to make up for the lack of lights? Either way, they had fun with what we did. Maybe next year you’ll do a couple more. Who cares? Not them.

The family Advent went WAY better than you thought. Special Sunday dinners, reading a litany and lighting candles in your wreath was something all the kids looked forward to. But the way you introduced it to your handsome hubby (Remember? “Hey! We’re going to do this.”) left a lot to be desired. If you have something you want to do as a family, present your ideas thoroughly and don’t get absolutely furious if he doesn’t love them as much as you in the first ten seconds. Good grief. Give the guy a break. Your homemade wreath was fun to make, even if it doesn’t look as nice as you wanted. I’m just proud you didn’t spend any money, and used stuff from around the house. Maybe next year you can find a special one to keep from year to year (and remember, November 30 is NOT the day to start looking!)

The baking. There’s something special about filling the house with yummy smells, and mixing cookie batter with the kids. Flour on their noses, accidentally spilling the chocolate chips in the bowl. Christmas music in the background; making up beautiful platters to bring to all your parties. What are you even talking about?! That didn’t happen. You used a hand mixer once, but other than that, there was not a square/cookie/snickerdoodle/chocolate yum yum to be found in your house. Who cares? Use the excuse that you’re trying to eat healthy or something. No one cares. The kids didn’t, and you were actually a little more peaceful than last year.

The decorating (other than your tree) was fine. Definitely mediocre at best, but you don’t care about that anyways, so why pretend like you do? It took way less time to put it all away in the end.

The date night with HH for dinner and the last bit of gifts was awesome. Do that again. Don’t forget to make his Christmas fun and special too (even if he doesn’t jump up and down like the kids do.)

All in all, I think this year went well. You took time to prepare Him room- in your heart and in your home. The little things either happened, or they didn’t, but they were little anyways. You bulldozed your way through a few things it would have been better to ponder in your heart, but that’s what it’s all about. He came for you just as much as He came for your babies. Accept His grace, His mercy and start fresh again. Marvel over the fact that a baby has saved you.

If I can give you any advice next season, while I am still fresh from this one:

  1. *If something is pushing you or pulling you along, and it’s not Jesus, cut it out.
  2. *If you are staying up late to make something magical the next day, you will just ruin it with your fatigue and lack of energy. Don’t do it.
  3. *Pick a couple things and do them well, and with love. It’s better than a lot of things rushed through and done with impatience.
  4. *Smile more.
  5. *Don’t be embarrassed when you cry through the Christmas songs. Your soul has felt it’s worth!

Love always, your biggest enemy your friend,

Me.

P.S. Buying all your gifts online so that you only went out once- DO THAT AGAIN.

Sandra

How about you? What did you learn (maybe the hard way) this year? What saved you time or heartache? What is the most important thing to remember about Christmas with little kids? I’d love to hear from you!

Advertisements

Life hurts.

It just does. As surely as there’s life, there’s death. They go hand in hand. 

I knew I was expecting three days before my period was even due. When you do natural family planning, you kinda know. It was so crazy: I ovulated twice in one month which completely came as a surprise. We were ready for the first, the second time (after Googling if it was even possible) we knew that God had a different plan for us.

Nonetheless, I am nothing but frugal and waited exactly 24 hours from when my period was due. I was up the whole night before, dreaming of our new baby. At 5:30 am, it was positive, and I waited for my handsome hubby to wake up. I let him take two sips of coffee before I bubbled over.

We were slightly overwhelmed, but by the end of the day, pumped. We kept it quiet for the first bit. I made plans to school through the summer so that we could be done when our baby (a boy, I’m sure of it) arrived in March. After all, isn’t that what homeschooling is all about? Making school fit around your family?

I was sick, but not as sick with the girls. They were a special brand of possibly-on-the-verge-of-death sick. This was more of a queasy, walking on a ship at sea after eating three Big Macs sick. I found that the better I ate, the better I felt. Almost all whole foods, with some grains mixed in for convenience. I drank liters of water.

All the while, we smiled at my growing belly. It goes quick, with the fifth. My pants stopped fitting at a month. Leggings and low rise jeans got me through the next one. Imagine if it were twins? How funny!

Finally, even the No Frills ladies were commenting on my new accessory. Yes, this is a baby bump. Yes, we’re excited. Yes, I know where they come from. We realized that all our acquaintances and the people who see me on a regular basis now knew, but not family.

We were so excited. Each new life that God has given us we have received as a total gift. Each pregnancy seems to go faster and faster. I LOVE being nine months pregnant. I love how close my emotions are to the surface: I feel so genuine in my feelings, and how they regularly spill down my cheeks. I love being a woman, an ambassador for life. It’s never “easy”: we have dealt with breech babies turning, a car accident at nine months, falling down the stairs at 6 months, Braxton Hicks, salsa that MUST BE HAD RIGHT NOW, nursing while pregnant, missing heartbeats (that later turned up after a few weeks) and ultrasounds, pee tests, blood work and glucose testing. Never have I needed to go for an ultrasound in the first trimester: I always know my dates (of conception and last periods). 

Pregnancy is bliss. After all, we can throw our charts out the window, because you can’t get pregnant twice! Life is good. Kids are excited. Life is crazy, but with the two of us and a whole lot of Jesus, we can swing it.

baby

Flash forward.

Sitting in the hospital for three hours, feeling my baby leave my body and not being able to stop it. Waiting through every person that gets called to hear MY NAME! Please, call me back. Please, do something. Please.

An acquaintance comes in. “Well, if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it didn’t happen.” 

Finally, they call me back. They tell me that the ultrasound tech is on her way home. I lose it.

They are frightened, call her back. She examines me; tells me that I don’t need any more children when I already have four! But I love THIS ONE. They are all different, and I love this one so much already. Please, tell me if it’s alive or not.

Test is inconclusive. Fetus may be dead. Fetus may be viable. Come back in a few days.

Two days of cramping, bleeding, but possibility.

Monday rolls around. “We must have school today! We want to be done before Baby comes.”

Halfway through math class I am bawling in the bathroom, feeling the hope drain out of me while the other kids fight and bang on the door.

“He hit me!”

“She was bugging me!”

“Juice! Mom. Juice!”

Please, give me five minutes to say goodbye to our baby.

After another hospital visit and more pain than I thought, our baby is gone. A life is gone.

Well if you wouldn’t have told anyone, you could have pretended it never happened. What a nightmare that would be. Because he was here. My baby boy was here, and now he’s not, and I’m sad. But he was. And I’m so thankful that I was excited and proud of my baby for the time he was in my body. What a privilege it is to have had him for as long as I did. I don’t know why any of this happened. But it did.

The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord! 

baby2

STEP RIGHT UP! It’s time for the circus!

Last year, on our first day of home educating, in first grade, our first child, it was HORRIBLE. It did not go well. I don’t remember exactly why, but I remember thinking, they are going to hate school, learning, and it will all be my fault!

Cue the circus. After our work was done, I found the box I had just purchased off a buy/sell site on Facebook. It had a circus game, table cloths, animal headbands, and special bags for popcorn (that was really cool for us. Low standards.)

circus

We had a great night. They won a DVD that I already had (What’s in the Bible? had a special promo through a buyer’s club. I got the whole series, but they don’t know that yet. We give them one for special occasions.) We played the game a few times, made popcorn, ate it out of special bags, and watched the movie together. The day ended well.

We kinda do all-year round school. We started grade 2 in May, but have taken off the last five or so weeks. I like the flexibility of taking time off when we need to, and taking the whole month of December off. We are really always “schooling,” it just becomes who you are. But now we’re ready to get back in the swing of structured things, and we have some new friends that are here during the day while their mom works. This made for a way better circus!

Sandra 1898 Sandra 1901

This year, I put more thought into the games:

Knock the Balls Down with a Ball

Sandra 1913

Shoot the Cans with a Water Gun (which turned out to be too hard for the littles- they used a hose)

Sandra 1921

Throw the Water Balloon in the Basket (obviously the other kids had to stand behind the basket as a wall. It was smokin’ hot, so they loved this part!

Sandra 1939

 

For our morning snack, we popped popcorn in the air popper and put it in those same special bags.

Sandra 1889

 

For lunch, we had homemade pizza (that we had made a few weeks before and froze) and a dance party. The prizes from the circus included a cd from our church’s VBS, and it provided a great soundtrack. In the afternoon, we made caramel apples. I’ve never done it before, and would suggest making the caramel while kids are otherwise occupied. It took a few minutes of stirring, and they were reeaaaallllyyy excited. I used this recipe, but I did it in half and used honey instead of corn syrup. It was so ridiculous good. Even thinking of it now, oh man. There is nothing like homemade caramel.

Sandra 1962Sandra 1958

So that was our “first” day of grade two for our eldest, and kindergarten for our second. Next year I would like to involve face paints and a photo booth. I looked up whether you can use acrylic paints as face paints, and I found mixed results. I don’t mind using my kids as guinea pigs, but having other kids over makes me be a little more cautious. So, next year.

What do you do to celebrate the first day, whether you do it at home, or in school?

Trans Fats, Conspiracies and Provision

I’m tired. I have been trying to switch our family over to whole foods, as quietly and calmly as possible. I don’t want to hear a lot of whining, complaining or arguing: that’s why I don’t talk to myself anymore. But as I do this, I am fighting the “rules” that I’ve been fed for years by the media. I’m starting to not only trust that butter is better for you than margarine, and that maple syrup and organic honey are better than white sugar; I’m beginning to put my money where my mouth is. Slowly. But it makes me tired. I can’t trust anything. Every other Facebook post is about a conspiracy engineered by big Pharma/GMO’s/Obama.

*I can’t trust doctors. They are out to make us sick, so that they can heal us.

*I can’t trust the GMO’s. And they make everything.

*I can’t trust the government. Ever. It doesn’t matter who you vote for, they are out for their own gain.

*I can’t trust the “systems.” Welfare, criminal, social, school, etc. Basically, if it has the word “system” in in, and it’s not DOS or Windows, don’t trust it.

There is officially no establishment outside my little home in rural AB that I can trust that will not hurt me or eat my children. This has been backed up by research that they are hiding from us. I definitely believe that there is credence to parts of it, but maybe some is reaching. You have to give the conspiracies that are made up a lot of credit. It requires an amazing imagination to come up with some of this stuff. They even falsify Amber alerts. For what purpose? Almost every “share” on facebook can be researched on Snopes to show that it is nothing but a crazy rumour that someone made up.

Sometimes I think of deleting all social networks. So I can live in my little happy place, where no one is trying to kill me and put razors in the baby food (obviously, I don’t use baby food. That stuff is deadly.) I try so hard to do a good job, as a mom, wife, Christian. And yet everywhere I turn, someone is telling me it’s wrong. I’m sure it’s always been that way, but never as passive aggressive, quickly and repetitive as Facebook can be. We can’t even always trust Christian establishments. I know lots of people who’ve been hurt by people in a church (and then turn around and hate the whole church) and obviously the World Vision decision, fallout and reversal, just made everyone hang their heads, for various reasons.

I can trust no one.

But I can trust One.

The One who provides.

The One who heals.

The One who loves.

The One who saves.

The One who has a plan for me, my husband, my children.

Of course, we often pay the consequences of our choices. That’s fact.

But His promises are not contingent on my actions.

I am so thankful for His promises.

 

 

Happy Holicrazy {Part 2}

We’ve all seen the pictures, the taglines, the defiant “I’m Keeping Christ in Christmas.” I love facebook for keeping alive the passive aggressive war of semantics, beliefs and agendas. After all, it’s your facebook, you can post what you want, right?

So, are you? You know, “keeping Christ in Christmas.” Let’s start a checklist. For me, too.

Have we used your credit card to buy gifts you can’t afford?

Have we bought a Christmas present for ourselves?

Have we engaged in gluttony, envy, pride, wrath, greed, etc. due to “the holidays”?

Have we aided and encouraged the consumerism in our children, and the children around us? 

I think we can all say that we have definitely done some of these. So what’s the point here?

Well, I think the point is this: When we post ownership of the holiday, and all which it is in our present day fashion, we are owning a holiday that doesn’t truly exist anymore. Christmas is so far removed from the manger scene. So far removed from the virgin birth. So far removed from the stable. I think that I can safely say that if you ask any of our children the best part of Christmas, they will say the gifts. Most of Christmas in Canada, 2013, has NOTHING to do with a stable. (Check out last year’s post, Happy Holicrazy!)

Can you see Jesus shopping the malls, buying toys made in China by other little children, spending too much, dead tired, snapping at His children when He gets home because He took on too much AGAIN?

Probably not.

So what are we doing? What are we doing that is so different from the “world”?

It’s a rhetorical question, I don’t really have an answer.

I wonder how people who don’t profess to live for Jesus feel when we say, “I keep Christ in Christmas.” Do they feel the love of Christ that first drew us to Him? Are they feeling the arms of His grace enveloping and removing their sins? 

All this to say, of course, I am trying so hard to keep Christ in Christmas. So hard. We try not to get our kids a lot, because I don’t want that association of gifts=Christmas. We are teaching them to say “I like” instead of “I want” when they happen to venture into a toy section. They don’t see catalogs, flyers or commercials, so that’s narrowed it down a bit. We include them with the giving, either for gifts from Compassion (things given to other children/people around the world in their name) or baking cookies for neighbours, or helping in the community. But we still have so much worldly stuff: stockings, Christmas tree, lights, big dinners,mistletoe (my hubby’s good-looking, what can I say). I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of it: but it has NOTHING to do with Jesus. 

So, is this the hill we want to die on? The proof that we love Jesus? The proof that we are saved by His grace? The facebook picture that we are “Keeping Christ in Christmas?” 

I would like it a whole lot better if it said:

“Trying my hardest to keep this holiday about Jesus, even though I’m going to mess up and the kids are going to get spoiled, and I’m going to go out of budget a little; but I know that He loves me anyways, and that He will forgive me, and that His grace is the reason I get out of bed each morning, and if you want to know more about Him, and what He can do in your life, please ask me.”

Might have to work on the wording.

Happy birthday, Jesus!

 

The Conclusion

Well, it’s been over a month since I started posting about submission. Like most things in my life, it gets harder right when I think I have it all figured out. You know, like potty training. Just when I start to think, “We’ve got this! We’re okay! Perseverance for Mommy, and self-control for Pretty One is totally attainable in 3 days!” someone goes and pees on the floor. But the process is just as important as the result. Sure, she will be potty trained. And one day, I will be lovingly submissive in absolutely everything, including my facial expressions. One day. But I can’t (and she can’t) fast forward through the million baby steps on the way. These little steps are needed to keep us from becoming prideful. To help us to be compassionate with others. And to realize, that we just can’t be perfect. And to feel the forgiveness and love from our Father. The process is as much a blessing as the result. Self control, patience and goodness do not just come overnight. So I’m getting there.

But the original question: Are submissive women as strong as domineering women?

My answer: No, they are stronger.

It makes me nervous to say that. Lori, a commenter on one of the earlier posts, had absolutely nooo qualms about saying so. I am much more afraid of offending someone. But hey, people who disagree have no issue with offending me, so here we go.

I am stronger, because it isn’t just me.

I’m not strong enough to control my hormones, my feelings, my emotions. I cry at commercials, when the kids say something sweet, songs on the radio (and lately, Adventures in Odyssey). I can’t help it. It’s who I am.

Sometimes, when I’m upset, I take it out on other things, or people. I can’t compartmentalize. If I am upset at home, I take it with me to the store. When someone would make me mad at work, I’d take it home with me.

I am soft. I’m a 2013 Pollyanna. I believe the best, and am always surprised by the worst. I always think people have good intentions, even when they don’t. I know that there’s evil in the world, and in other people, but I am always shocked at it. I get hurt easily.

And that’s just my character, my sensibilities. There’s also me as a physical person.

I can’t even get the lid off a jar of pickles. 

And yet, I am so strong. 

You see, to get to me, or for me to fail, something first has to be allowed by God. Nothing touches me that is not allowed by Him first, and for my ultimate good. Then, when trials and tribulations do come, I give them to my husband. He holds me up. Any issue with the children, finances, family, health, you name it. He shelters me from what he can, and supports me through what I have to do. He makes decisions for me, knowing I have a hard time saying no to people, or that I think too much, or worry about what people might say. As a matter of fact, he reads all my writing first, to make sure that I don’t make myself too vulnerable with people who might hurt me. He also protects the public from the stuff I say that might be too harsh, or come off the wrong way. Mostly, he protects me from myself.

This is how I know I’m strong: I know I’m weak. Yes, I’m strong enough to endure over 50 hours of hard labour with no interventions. But I can’t get over a friend that stopped talking to me without a reason why.

I know that I don’t always get it right. I know that I screw up.

And that’s okay.

I am completely free to be me.

A complete mess, yet prized. Sheltered, protected, and because of that I can love without holding back. I can cry, because my emotions and feelings are so important to the warmth in our home.

I am woman, see me SOAR.

Floating on the wings of eagles, protected by the Father. Covered by my husband.

There is so much strength in ultimate freedom.

Advice on Advice

If only this were possible. . .

 

 

Dear me, on the occasion of your first pregnancy,

 

This is so exciting! I know that your mind is filled with all kinds of dreams and hopes. You are embarking on a new stage of life, and there is no turning back! I know it all seems like gumdrops and unicorns, but I just wanted to let you know a few things to save you some heartache and stress.

1. During the pregnancy, and through the first few years of Baby’s life, you are going to get LOTS of advice. Now that the world is smaller, you will be hearing it from more than just your mom and Granny. People in the grocery store, people at church, Facebook, Pinterest, everyone will have something to say to you. Here is something you need to understand:

JUST BECAUSE SOMEONE GIVES YOU ADVICE DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.

I can’t tell you that enough! They are just trying to help. They forget what it’s like to be on the opposite end, or they are just trying to show you another way to do things. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. They don’t think you are, either. You have two choices: File the tip or info away to think about later, or smile and nod. They are both just fine. Do not argue, it may have worked for them.

2. Every single item of pregnancy, childbirth and childrearing is a potential Pandora’s box of controversy. Seriously. Here are some things that will be argued about in nurseries, blogs, facebook, and every other location in MommyLand:

Breastfeeding/Bottle feeding

Diapers/Elimination communication (If I knew how to link up blogs, I would show you your old friend Kathleen’s. She never really had to wipe a baby’s dirty bum. And she’s a real person.)

Cloth/Disposable diapers

Rice cereal

Baby weaning

Scheduling/On demand feeding

Co-sleeping

Baby wearing

Expired car seats

Organic foods

Rocking to sleep

Baby reading

Potty training

These are just a few of things you will argue about. It’s okay. None of these things are God given directives.  You could maybe make a case for one or two, but in the long run, none of these things will be important. None of these will grow your child into a mature, well-rounded individual. That’s where the parenting and relationship you have with your baby will come in. God knew how you felt about organic foods, or rocking your baby to sleep. And He still gave you this specific baby. So ask Him if you are really worried about it, research it, talk to your Handsome Hubby, and then just let it go. You will develop your OWN opinions on all of these. Keep them to yourself, unless someone asks. This leads into number three. . .

3. No one has the right to judge you about how you grow your baby. Just like you have no right to judge them, either. So feed your two year old a hotdog. Or don’t. Let your three year old decide when to potty train. Or don’t. But do not judge others for how they raise their children, and if you think others are judging you, pray for them. It’s a hard world. Concentrate on your own family.

4. Your HH knows stuff. He may not know all the philosophies, he may not have read all the books. But it’s his baby too. It is never too early to let him lead his family. If he thinks the baby is hungry, feed him or her. If he wants to snuggle the baby through the hockey game, let him. You are going to make LOTS of mistakes. Give him grace and space to make his own.

5. You can’t do it all. Give up now. It will make it easier later.

6. Write it down! You think you are going to remember all these special things. You will forget them all! Especially once the next one comes (Yes, you will have more than one. Go get a pedicure and paint the master bedroom, NOW, or it will wait for six years and counting.) Seriously, don’t worry about a special “book” or format. Write it down on a piece of paper, and stick it in a binder. Done. Memory saved.

7. Back up your pictures. You will lose them all for your second baby. Make sure someone actually takes them, too.

8. Go to a midwife. Doctors are for sick people.

9. Never, I repeat, NEVER say the words, “I will always,” or “I will never.” They taste terrible later. You will eat a lot of them.

10. I know you aren’t going to find out at the ultrasounds. So, just so you know, your first one is a boy. You will love him.

Love, 

Me.