Monday, November 25, 2013

Miscellaneous

    WELP my 21 day detox is over and I'm happy to say that what everyone else said about it is true: I don't feel like going back! I didn't wake up this morning (day 22) and think, yes I can have sugar! I woke up thinking about eating all the foods that I have been eating because I feel won-der-ful. I guess it's a bonus that my clothes are fitting looser but I don't own a scale and wasn't planning on weight loss with this whole thing. My goal was to be healthy and I sure feel like I'm on my way there.
   The food I have been eating can be filed under "paleo" or "primal." I don't know the difference and that's also something I don't care to look into. I have been fighting fighting fighting the whole paleo thing because I find the intensity and superiority complexes of those who follow the diet to be incredibly obnoxious.
   The catch is that since eating this way, I have felt healthier, clearer, more energetic....blah, all the things these people tell you eating paleo does for them has been true for me.
  One of my main problems with the whole paleo thing is that it's based on the idea that our caveman ancestors had it "right" when it comes to food. Well I don't really know about all that...our lifespans are longer than that of the caveman and I'm not completely anti modern medicine.
   From a biblical standpoint, I can't help but believe that our bodies were designed to eat food....not packaged, processed, chemicals that taste like food. I am convicted that doing anything that goes against our design is typically bad for you--and that covers a lot of ground, not just food. [Think: biblical marriage.] I also think that obsessing over food can quickly turn it into an idol. So that is not my goal either. I don't want to go to the grocery store and spend hours reading ingredient lists and forfeit time that I could be at home with my family.....as with most things in life, I'm attempting to find a balance.
  All that being said, for me, eating "paleo" may be more about swallowing my pride than puffing myself up because I'm so cool for eating a certain way....instead it may be more about dropping my judgments and following my convictions.

  We had the privilege of helping a friend get to No Longer Bound last week. He and his beautiful wife and wonderful baby stayed with us and it was stupid-fun watching two one year old girls run the house for a few days. Clementine is obsessed with other babies and this was no exception.



   It was definitely strange--and awesome--and weird--and amazing how our friend Allan helped Thad get to NLB 5 months after Allan graduated the program, and then Thad helped our friend get to NLB 5 months after he graduated the program. God is so cool.
  It was also a huge privilege for me to be there for my friend after her husband was accepted. It was astounding to watch her strength and grace through such a tough week. Despite the incredible head on her shoulders, I am still able in small ways to throw some nuggets of truth and "experience" at her, even though I personally think she is in a way better place emotionally than I was when I was in her shoes (really, this girl is strong! I have been blessed by just witnessing it!). Thad and I look forward to hosting her and her daughter again so she can visit her husband while he's in the program (they are not from Georgia) and I'm planning on talking her in to moving here. I've already started the process by taking her to visit our church. Really, who wouldn't want to live here just to attend this amazing church?

  Poor Thad was sick all week last week. He wasn't able to recover quickly because he was working 10-11 hour days with a fever, and he had short nights on top of it.
  I rarely cease to be in awe of how great of a Dad he is. Even though I worked from Friday night until Saturday afternoon, I never had a moment of "I wonder how Thad and Clementine are doing?" because they are doing awesome. Thad knows her schedule, reads her sleepy cues, rocks the cloth diapers like a champ, keeps her entertained, knows how to make her Magical Mush recipe without even thinking, and somehow manages to do things like dishes, laundry, and bed-making while taking care of her. She thinks he is hilarious and is incredibly content and rarely fussy when he is her main caretaker. It basically melts my heart.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

You seriously have to see what my husband did today for fun....

Thad built a baby food dispensing machine out of cardboard boxes and a can of baby cereal. Clementine HATES it. Basically I love everything about this video. 




video

Friday, November 15, 2013

Day 12. And why I failed.

It's been 12 days since I decided to break up with sugar and I have some bad news.

I had sugar.

Before you get too disappointed, hear me out. 

On Monday, no home, apartment complex, or business had water within a 1 mile radius of here for over 13 hours. The city said it was for "routine maintenance" but clearly something went wrong. The notification we received said it would take 5-6 hours. By the end of the day, the dishes were piled in the sink....don't even ask me about the toliets....and I was freaking thirsty. 

When Clem was really little, I drank about 3 gallons of water a day because I was nursing so much. Still, I average a little over a gallon of water a day and we have a giant water filter that I have to fill 2-3 times a day just to stay hydrated (I am still nursing). By early afternoon, I was so thirsty I jumped in the car and drove to Starbucks and asked them for some large waters. Those were gone 3 hours later. Clementine was asleep. I felt dizzy from thirst. The only thing we had in our fridge to drink was half&half and a small bottle of cold-pressed orange juice.

I had to do it. I just had to. I cracked that thing open and took a few swigs. Really, I drank less than a quarter of it. I know OJ has sugar in it, I just needed SOMETHING to drink. When Thad got home I made another Starbucks run for a few waters. It wasn't until past ten o'clock that night that we had running water again. 

Anyway, that being said, I guess I can't say "I haven't had any sugar for 12 days!" What I can say is that my sugar detox has truly been detoxifying. The subtitle of the book I'm following that has all of my meal plans in it is "Bust sugar and carb cravings naturally" and I can gladly say that after 12 days of following this plan, that is exactly what I've experienced. I just had a cabbage/kale/avocado salad with the foccacia bread on the side that I made last night (more on that in a second) and I am full, feeling great, and not craving sugar (like I usually do every afternoon around this time). 

Okay, it's been a second, so let me tell you how delicious the foccacia "bread" I made last night is. (Can something be called bread if it doesn't contain wheat or sugar? I don't even know.) IT WAS SO STINKING DELICIOUS THERE IS HARDLY ANY LEFT. The recipe is, of course, in my 21 day sugar detox book. It's made with coconut flour, eggs, herbs, n such. Basically there was no talking at the dinner table last night because Thad and I were unceremoniously stuffing our faces with this stuff. 

I told myself I would just nibble on a little of it with my lunch this afternoon, and then Clementine came along and literally stood at my feet crying for me to share. You can't really say no to her face, so she and I just nom-nommed on it until I was sure she had ingested more than a day's worth of the calories she needs and much to the chagrin of us both, decided to save what is left for Thad. 


How great I am feeling and how much I actually love the food I'm eating leads me to wonder how I'm going to eat when I am not on the detox anymore. 

Wait just kidding, I'm always gonna eat like this. I may not cut anything COMPLETELY out of my diet--really, there's no need to feel so badly for drinking an ounce of orange juice--but I can't imagine going back to how I was feeling prior to now! I have not in any way, shape, or form, wanted to conform to a "paleo" or "primal" or "I only eat clean foods!" thing (because really, that can get annoying just way too quickly to have to be around) but I can't ignore the positive effects these bodies of thought have to offer. 

Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 8. Fresh Market, where have you been all my life???

Less than 2 miles from my front doorstep is the mecca of all health food stores. *Cue the angels singing*:



THE FRESH MARKET. 

How have I never learned about this before? UGH SERIOUSLY!? It's like Whole Foods, minus the hippies, plus cheaper prices and mood lighting. You woulda thought I walked into Disneyland I was so giddy walking into this place today. Did I mention its less than 2 miles away?

Yep. Less than 2 miles away.

So basically my 21 day detox just got way more funner (because 'way more funner' is a totally grammatically correct thing to say). 

I'm doing fantastic. I have yet to consume sugar but I did just notice that gum is not allowed on this diet. So, uh, oops. I've chewed gum. But since I haven't eaten any of the insane amounts of cake or pie or cookies Thad brings home from No Longer Bound every weekend, we're gonna just overlook my gum slip-up. Because let's be real. I'm killin it.

I made beef jerky today and it is delicious. The problem is, it's so good it's hard not to eat all of it in one sitting. And the thought of eating $10 worth of food in one sitting literally makes my stomach turn. Ain't nobody in this house got money for that!! 

Today I ate

Breakfast--Bacon/eggs/spinach/banola
Lunch--Salmon/avocado/cabbage salad
Dinner--spaghetti squash/chicken/tomatoes/garlic, onion, spinach





Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sugar Detox Days 5, 6, & 7.

Without a doubt, day 5 was THE WORST. I was on auto-pilot all day, and found myself reaching for sugar/bread without even thinking. Thankfully I have yet slipped up and cheated. Having the "banola" on hand has been so helpful, especially when I'm missing bread.

Yesterday and today have been awesome. I feel so much more clear-headed and energetic. My energy levels are waaaaay up.

My go-to meal has been quinoa, black bean, and avocado with a little bit of Tessemae's Wing Sauce. I seriously could eat this all day every day and I'm super grateful to have found Tessemae because they make sauces and marinades that aren't full of allergens and words I can't pronounce.

Spaghetti squash with this awesome home-made sauce has also been something I can make huge batches of and have for lunch the next day.



This week I will be working on perfecting the kale chips and finding other things I can make that Thad will want to eat, too.

I've got to admit, writing about this on the blog has been super helpful. When the wonderful Nicole Boucher brought pumpkin fudge to work the other night to share with us I just about screamed FORGET IT and slammed my face in the bowl and ate whatever I could get my jaws on but having some accountability has been SUPER HELPFUL. I am really looking forward to creating a healthy habit and chaging how I view food.

YEP. It's going super great. :)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 3 & 4

The ONLY thing I want to do right now is lie flat on my back starfish style and pass out but if I don't write this now, I never will.

DAY FOUR IS NO GOOD.

But since I forgot about day 3, the run down is that I had cheese. Which is not explicitly a no-no but it's also not explicitly allowed. But hey, it's not sugar.

For dinner I made chicken smothered in Tessemae's wing sauce with onion and pepper and YUM. Thad has his like a sloppy joe but I threw mine in some quinoa and black bean and yes....I have a new favorite meal. If it were acceptable to eat the same thing for dinner every day, this would be it. It was THAT good.

Today was the worst so far. My mood was up and down, I'm tired, and several times I reached for something bread-y and sugar-y on complete autopilot. Since things are just a tad bit (and by that I mean a-lot-a-bit) crazy and stressful around here right now, I can honestly say I have no clue how much of my moodiness and exhaustion is due to the detox.

The bad news and good news from today:

BAD--I ate all the banola. And I want about 12 servings more RIGHT NOW but the food processor is loud and its 1230 in the morning. Boo.
GOOD--I made my own kale chips. They were not exactly crisp but somehow they were SO DELICIOUS. I shared some with my girls at work and they liked it, too, which is somewhat validating since they don't HAVE to like things like kale chips at this point in their lives.

Also, I worked today and for the first time in 7 years I did not consume sugar during my shift. If it wasn't for the fact that I was scarfing down kale, carrots, and banola, I probably wouldn't be able to say that.

I have no idea where this resolve is coming from as I have never stuck to any kind of food restrictions for four days in a row in my life and given the amount of stress I am currently under and the fact that sugar is my security blanket it seems even more miraculous!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

No sugar, Day 2.

I woke up feeling exhausted this morning. Completely drained. I got almost 7 hours of sleep so I am not sure why. Once Clementine went down for a nap, I did, too, and slept for an hour. I woke up from my nap feeling like I could take on the world, so I did, by taking C out for a walk on the greenway that our complex has access to.

Really struggled with some sugar cravings today. I feel like a bottomless pit. I could just eat and eat and eat, but strangely, I'm full?

Anyway, today I had

2 eggs
bacon
coffee
Jerky
Quinoa w/avocado and black bean
Spaghetti squash with homemade marinara sauce
and
BANOLA


Yea, banola. It's like granola without the grains. And I realize it's the stupidest word you have probably ever read but it. is. delicious. You should probably whip some up right now and do yourself a favor. It's easy (if you have a food processor) and delicious and you can pretty much eat crazy amounts of it guilt-free. I lowered the temperature and cooked it for less time than the recipe calls for so it actually tastes like banana bread. Um, yea. WIN.

So, that's it for Day 2. I felt terrible and then I didn't, I wanted sugar and then I ate healthy instead. Whew. I should throw that jar of Nutella that is staring at me away...


Monday, November 4, 2013

I'm going through a breakup...

&it's with sugar. 

 Now I know that we've all had it just about up to here with having to hear people talk about their paleo/primal/blahblah/crossfit/I'msocool lifestyles, so I don't want this to be another blog post about that. I'm actually writing this blog post for me. 

I won't be waxing eloquent on how sugar is injected into all kinds of everything that we find in the grocery store today (seriously, why is sugar the number 2 ingredient in every single package of beef jerky??) because if you want to read about that, people with degrees and such have written plenty about it.

I'm giving up sugar for 21 days because I believe that I am completely addicted to it. I crave sugar and carbs. I am on a blood sugar roller coaster day in and day out, and I want to hit the reset button, if you will, on my food cravings and ultimately change the way I use food. (If you wanna see someone stress-eat a pint of ice cream, jump in your time machine and hang out with me almost every single day this past summer.) 

This is not a "diet" in terms of counting calories or a goal of weight loss (I don't own a scale and I don't plan on ever owning one). This is a way to flush out toxins that have built up, bolster my immune system, and help out my poor little liver. 

All that being said, I'm going to blog about it for my own accountability. How utterly embarrassing if in two days, or ten days, I have to admit that I just couldn't do it. I'm going to use my blog to challenge myself and keep a record of how I'm feeling, what I'm eating, and just how grumpy I am because I really want some Nutella.

Today was Day 1.

I ate:

Eggs
Bacon
Cabbage and pepper salad
Beef jerky (sans sugar...because I made the dreaded trip to Whole Foods)
Ground turkey with bell peppers in lettuce wraps
The absolute WORST dessert ever conceived of (because it had no sugar): Chocolate/almond cups

Seriously though, these "chocolate" almond cups were disgusting.  The cool thing was that after a day without sugar, they actually tasted a little sweet (mostly bitter) and after two bites I was full. Or completely grossed-out. Not sure which. 

I'm actually feeling clear-headed. After the nasty chocolate almond things (that I had to make from scratch) I can happily say that I am NOT craving anything sweet. Typically I crave sweets every. single. night. like clockwork, so I'm pretty stoked that I am not currently raiding the fridge for something sugary. My slight headache and complete exhaustion are probably due to being up late with baby, then being up early with baby, and then hanging out all day with grumpy baby, so I can't say that those things are due to a change in diet. 

My friend that has done this 21 day plan before says Day Four was the hardest for her, so I'm not ready to get all trigger happy on this thing and declare victory. This could be an interesting ride. Heck, check back here tomorrow and I could be singing a very different tune!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Miley Cyrus just GETS it.

   After saying that what she did at the VMAs wasn't "planned", Miley Cyrus triumphantly points out that since we're all still talking about it a month later, her 'plan' worked. Thank you Miley for that wonderfully insightful explanation. And you're right, it did work. Much like a trainwreck, I have had a hard time looking away. When a video of her interview with Matt Lauer popped up on my feed today, I wanted to continue to watch the trainwreck.

  Lauer, of course, asked all the questions you would expect a hardball journalist to ask, like "Do you always intend on putting this sexual side on display?", "How old do you think I am?", "Do you have a five year plan?" and "How did hosting Saturday Night Live go?"

   Look folks, Miley Cyrus is not special in terms of what she's doing. She's not wearing a lot of clothes--if you can call them that--and she's parading around on stage doing something called "twerking", which up until now I understood to be something mules did in heat. Why she's getting so much attention for doing it, I'm not sure. The fact of the matter is, Miley Cyrus gets it. If we're nothing more than overgrown monkeys, there's no reason to act any differntly than she is. If there is no moral absolute, nothing ultimate by which to judge right and wrong, what's the big deal with what she's doing?

   She played out her secular humanisitic viewpoint beautifully when she said, "For me, the most important thing is being a really good person and that doesn't depend on what you do on stage, that depends how you treat people when you're off stage and I know how I treat people so, I'm not really too worried.....My parents have always been just about being really who you are and figuring it out."

  The question I would LOVE to ask her (and all of my secular friends) is "What is a 'really good' person?" What do you have to do to be "good"? What is the magic of being on a raised platform that means that whatever you do on stage does not factor in to who you are as a person? This is ridiculous. If you murdered people for fun on stage would that be okay because when you stepped off stage you were kind to the arena's janitors? If you think that's a silly question then you'd have to admit maybe some things should and shouldn't be done on stage. Who gets to say where the line is? Why is a line being drawn? Is there a right and wrong? Are you a good person who doesn't commit heinous acts or are you not? How in the world can a matter of geographic location (on stage/offstage) determine a moral truth?

   What Miley calls "art" is sticking her behind parts in people's faces. Her musical 'art' includes lines about doing drugs in a bathroom stall. I must have missed the day in my modern art class where we went over this material. Last I knew drug abuse leads to nothing but misery and death, but why can't it be "art"? When your morals are based on your feelings, and drugs feel good, and I mean--its not like she does drugs on stage, she's encouraging the use of them behind bathroom doors, but if she did do drugs on stage, that would be okay, because your character doesn't depend on what you do on stage, right? Wait, I'm lost....

   Back to what I was saying: Miley is not special. She is just a highly publicized example of what our culture believes. Do what you want as long as you're basically "nice"--whatever nice means. Of course she can't follow that logic anywhere (I'm using the term "logic" very loosely here). When she says her parents are "just about being really who you are" she of course is very, very wrong. I'm sure her parents would not encourage her to be who she "really is" if she wasn't making millions of dollars. I'm sure her parents would protest if she was being "herself" and herself was someone akin to Jeffery Dahmer. He was, after all, just being himself. His impulses and desires were pretty horrific but they were definitely true to himself, something that Miley over and over in her interview kept impressing upon the audience as important. Being yourself--no matter how offensive or pornographic it is--is SO imporant that it doesn't mater what the "haters" think. This kind of moral relativity is so idiotic, so blatant, I can barely get my thoughts out straight.

   We should not be surprised. We know how our culture thinks. Their hearts beat (or so they think) for themselves. There is no right and wrong. There is no moral absolute. Their god is themselves. Miley Cyrus grasps that and lives accordingly.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I'm Annoyed and I Blog, so....(on the evils of sleep training)

   I just wanna throw this out into the universe, fully aware that what you say on the internet cannot be taken back. Ever, no never. (Two blogs in two days? I must be avoiding laundry....)

  I am annoyed. Really, super, incredibly annoyed. I am tired, so tired, of reading about how babies on sleep 'schedules' are being stressed out, taught not to trust, growing deep seated emotional issues, are forced to sleep when they aren't tired, aren't being fed when they are hungry, etc. etc. etc.
  First off, Exhibit A:


 I started sleep training my baby at 3 weeks old, when I could no longer function for lack of sleep and she still thought that day time was for sleeping and nighttime was for waking, she couldn't stay asleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, and we both were generally unhappy beings. The first few days of attempting to put her on a schedule, which meant she was eating every 3 hours like clockwork, and getting the doctor recommended amount of sleep, she cried. A lot. And then in a few days something magical happened....she slept during her naps. She slept for longer stretches at night. The "cluster feeding" stage was long past, and most babies at that age need to eat every 3 hours, which she did.
   I have never not fed my baby when she was hungry. The assertion that sleep-schedulers starve their children or don't follow their hunger cues simply demonstrates ignorance on the part of those asserting it. In all  my discussions on forums, reading websites, books, blogs, etc., I have never come across a single sleep-training mom who ever thought it was a good idea to not feed a hungry baby. 
    Secondly, the idea that babies who have been brutally subjected to the "cry it out" method are being emotionally scarred and will never be able to trust their parents or anyone, is--sorry--stupid. My child has no problem whatsoever trusting anyone. She smiles at strangers. She cuddles with strangers. She is not afraid of people, she likes them. She is obsessed with me, the mean tyrant that I am. She NEVER cries. The ONLY time she cries is when she is tired and she is not in her crib. Then she will cry. If she's tired and she's put in her crib, she does one of two things: rolls over silently and falls asleep OR rolls over, moans for a few minutes, and falls asleep. Nap time or bed time is never a crisis in our household....it's welcomed. It's comforting. There's no fear or mistrust on her part that she won't be taken care of when she wakes up. 
   Furthermore, and I owe this to the sleep training, her teething has not interuppted her life or sleep whatsoever. Occasionally she is fussier or clingier to me than normal (again, where is this "tear in trust" that sleep training her has created?) but other than that, she is sleeping 12 hours a night and sleeping through all of her naps during the day. As long as she is being held or she is in her crib, she feels safe and the pain of teething is forgotten. 
   The fact is, I know lots and lots of sleep scheduling moms with the most well-adjusted children I've ever met. The fact that every time I pick Clementine up from the nursery after church on Sunday, the workers tell me she is the best baby ever, they want to take her home, she's always well-behaved, let's me know that maybe those mean scheduling moms are on to something. 

  I know every child is different. I would allow that maybe there is a child out there somewhere who does not respond well to eating and sleeping at certain times of the day. Okay sure. But uh....don't all of us normally eat at similar times during the day? Go to sleep and wake up at similar times every day? Isn't that how our bodies work? Don't we get hungry if we don't eat at the normal time we eat? Don't we get tired if we go to bed later than usual, our bodies become weak, etc.etc.? I don't think following this common sense idea and helping our children learn how to sleep is such a horrible, psyche torturing thing to do. It has made my entire family's life easier. 

   Sleep schedulers don't believe that not comforting a crying baby is good. We don't believe that our wants should win out over theirs. We just believe that humans--including the baby humans--require a certain amount of food and sleep every day and we can provide the comfort of structure and consistency and knowing what to do when and that they will be provided for when they need. Scheduling has provided a security for Clementine, a surety and comfort that her day will be the same and she will never have to go hungry or tired. Consistency is one of the absolute best and most comforting things you can offer your children! 

   If you don't put your baby on a schedule, and you follow more of the "attachment" style parenting....that's great. If that's how you have chosen to provide for your child, and you both are happy and healthy beings, I am happy for you. Truly. Motherhood is hard enough without having to always feel like you're doing it 'wrong', right? Really, just because I know that for me sleep training = well-adjusted, easy baby doesn't mean that I think not sleep training = crazy, difficult baby. All babies are different. I wish that both sides of this issue could appreciate that and just support each other as we all attempt to navigate filling the sweetest title we've ever been given: Mom.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On Nursing in Public (& the lack of consensus)

   I've "liked" all these pages on facebook that have applauded my desire to nurse my baby. Because A) who doesn't like to be applauded? and B) nursing is a difficult, full-time job and those of us that choose it definitely need support. And sometimes an ear to listen to us. And sometimes just the reminder that we aren't the only ones fighting this battle.
   The problem is, a lot of the groups I listen to that are uber-supportive of breastfeeding are also uber-angry about the people that uber-aren't supportive of breastfeeding, and they are constantly reading and re-posting links to articles about moms who have won the battle to breastfeed wherever the heck they want! (In most states--if not all--it is legal to nurse in public anywhere, anytime, and you better not try to tell a nursing mom to go away because she will get really mad and write an article about it that will circulate on facebook and twitter!)
   Now look, I get it, I've nursed in public. As a mom, when your baby is hungry, you feel this pull stronger than the earth's magneticism to feed your baby, and it definitely overpowers any sense of "modesty" or "timing." But I find it ironic that the people who are so upset about the groups that are offended by seeing a mom nurse in public are so offended by the offense of these people....and the pro-nursing-in-public-moms are so angry at perceived judgement on the behalf of the offended that they can't help but publicly judge the judgers and.....all the judgment and offense flying around is so exhausting and I can hardly keep it straight (did I even keep it straight? I don't know).
   As a Christian nursing mother, I think the answer is quite simple and straightforward and should remain devoid of judgment, offense or pride: "let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or stumbling block in a brother's way." (Rom 14:13). No fuss. If what I am doing is going to cause another to stumble--whether it be into judgment, offense, or impure thoughts--I shouldn't do it.
  I am not ashamed of breastfeeding. I don't think I'm doing anything worth being offended by. And let me be clear--neither does God. Breastfeeding is natural, it's great, it's a gift from God, something he built into my very design. (Al Mohler discussed a few reasons why it shouldn't be surprising that breastfeeding is so good for mom and baby here). But something being natural and God-given is not a justification for doing it in public. That's why there are stalls on bathroom doors. That's why husbands and wives sleep in their own rooms.
   The question is, do we as Christian mother's have the "right" to breastfeed in public if we know it may cause a brother to stumble? Does doing something that's so great and God given mean it should be done in public?
   Obviously the answer is a resounding No. I wouldn't breastfeed uncovered at church, in front of my brother's in Christ, so why would I do it uncovered, in public at Target or wherever else? It's not because I am ashamed, it's because I love my brothers.

  I'll take it even a step further....I'll cover up in the designated nursing room in front of other nursing women at my church just because they do. When I first discovered that my new church has a room just for nursing moms to nurse in, I was ecstatic! When I discovered that I was the only mom in there not covering herself up while nursing, I thought--I should remedy that. Not because I have any reason to be ashamed but because I am not prideful enough to think "I'm right, they're wrong. Just cause they cover up doesn't mean I have to." Sure, I don't have to but if there's a possibility that I am going to cause one of them to stumble--cause one of them to think, "does she think she's special?" I am not going to do it. I know how easy it is to be a judgey-mommy so whenever I can and am conscious of it, I am responsible for protecting my sisters from it.

   There is a sickness in the world--it's called pride, and envy, and selfishness. And it's super entangled in this "I can breastfeed wherever I want to" issue. Let me be clear: I am super supportive of nursing moms (I AM ONE!). God designed us for it and I think, barring physical issues, we should do it. I do not agree with the world's idea of "this is MY body, it's FOR ME, my own use, my own pleasure." We were bought with us a price, and our bodies are NO LONGER OUR OWN. Breastfeed your babies, ladies, if you can! But please--let's not model our feelings of our rights after the world's. If you can cover up--cover up. If you can be discreet--be discreet. If you don't have to offend your neighbor--don't offend your neighbor. If you can be modest--be modest. This is not to promote a feeling that you should be ashamed (shame on those who ask mom's to cover up in order to shame them!) but to show love to your brother's and sister's in Christ. Let's not make anyone stumble for the sake of our own pride.
 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The little things.

  I probably shouldn't be blogging because I have nothing to blog about but I am just so happy over the little things right now I can't help myself.

    Clementine has started to crawl (although in my head I've always thought "crawling" was being up on your hands and knees....she definitely prefers to army crawl--she's tough like that) so the baby-proofing has begun. It's amazing how many times a day I have to say "don't eat that" as she clearly prefers cardboard, wood, table legs, shoes, feet, and boxes over all the colorful appropriate-to-chew-on baby toys that she has.

This is a Tamagotchi still in its box that my Dad bought me as a joke last Christmas. Clementine loves the cardboard.
  She has also found her voice, as she her cry is no longer a whine, its more of a little-girl scream. Not that she cries a lot....just when it takes too long to get the next spoonful in her mouth or the once a night that she now wakes up.

Yep, she's only waking up to eat once a night now (usually). It. Is. So. Nice. I wish I felt more rested (oddly I don't) but in comparison with the d  e  s  p  e  r  a  t  i  o  n  that is having to be up every two hours at night with a baby, this is a cake-walk. I still believe that no matter how much harder motherhood gets, facing it with several consecutive hours of a sleep at night puts the odds ever in my favor.

  I owe Clementine's sleeping to my dear friend Kelly, who rescued me when I started Clementine on solids and she was beyond constipated. I mean like, screaming in pain hadn't gone in 6 days constipated. My sweet friend Kelly in her sweet southern accent said to me, "I can't believe how pediatricians tell people to feed their kids these days. I didn't do a thing that they said to do and my kids ate great and were never constipated. I'll give you this baby food recipe and if she's still constipated in a few days, she needs a specialist, that's all there is to it."
   So she gave me the recipe, which involved several food items doctors these days say to never feed a constipated baby, as well black eye peas (blech!). And wouldn't you know it? Clem was back to normal in a matter of days. We call it the Magical Mush because it is magical to have a baby that eats well, eats a lot, and is never constipated. Not only that, she's getting fuller during the day so she's sleeping a go-zillion times better at night. If you aren't a parent, you can't yet understand just how magical all of the above is.

  On the subject of magic, we went to IKEA this weekend. We're livin on a shoe-string budget but we did some budgetary breakdancing and made room for a few home improvement items, the biggest one on my list being a home for our books. As we made our way through the IKEA in Atlanta, we kept finding bookshelves we liked and it seemed as though we kept finding cheaper and cheaper ones so we madly scribbled out the last item number we had just written on our slip to write down the new one on the cheaper ones....until finally towards the end we found these adorable shelves that were on clearance for next to nothing. UNFORTUNATELY it's been a year since I've seen all our books lined out so I sorely underestimated just how much shelf space we'd need.


So....oops. I see something very DIY-ey happening in the future to find a home for the rest of these. I'd really like our cute hallway to start being a hallway instead of a tripping hazard.

I also found a coffee table. Maybe it's ridiculous, maybe it's unneccessary, but I saw it and fell in love with it and I've never owned my own coffee table, it's been a silly and never-spoken-about dream of mine to have a coffee table and as my feet are kicked up on it right now I know that the addition of this coffee table into our home life was not a mistake. I can't even stop writing "coffee table" I'm so happy about this stupid thing.

  Thad starts work at 10 in the morning (most mornings) so we get to spend our mornings together and it. is. wonderful. I love going to bed and looking forward to waking up, both because I get to sleep until the morning and because I get to spend a few hours with both of my Pinch's together. We have become quite the bacon-and-egg connoisseurs and we have ghetto-rigged the perfect way to brew iced coffee overnight so basically it is domestic heaven.

  Anyway I leave with you this picture of Clementine. This is what we do in the mornings--laugh because our daughter's hair sometimes makes her look like Dwight Schrute.


Friday, August 2, 2013

Home Sweet Home

  It's been a crazy few weeks round here. We moved into our apartment last weekend and I feel like I haven't sat down since then! I can't even explain the excitement that has been mine since obtaining my own four walls. I spent exactly a year living in other people's homes. I had a baby living in my parent's home and have shared a room with Clementine since her birth.
 
   Don't read me wrong, the shelter Clementine and I were provided while Thad was at No Longer Bound was 100% a blessing. Both my parents and then the Mullins made their homes our home while we stayed with them, but there is nothing quite like having your own space. It's really nice to leave a dish in the sink without feeling like I am being disrespectful to someone else's home. Doing the laundry on my own time, with my own water is freeing. Leaving my purse lying around any old where I want to is relaxing. You (or at least I) never quite realize what a blessing it is to inhabit your own space until the space you inhabit is not your own. Every time I use my own shower without regard to how much time I'm taking or whether or not the floor gets wet, or I put Clementine down for the night and I am free to keep my voice above a whisper and I don't have to creep around my bedroom--because I have my own bedroom!--I feel as though God is giving me a gift (and let's face it: He is).

   My struggle right now lies in the fact that it is so new and so exciting to have my own space that my own space is all that's taking up space in my thoughts. I've really had to check myself here. All I think about is how to get this or that done--what will be more cost effective, making my own curtains or searching around craigslist and the like to purchase them? How can we budget enough money to purchase bookshelves? (There are approximately 500 books sitting on the floor right now, talk about KILLING me!) I never got to nest when I was pregnant--never got to make a nice space for my baby. Now that I have a nursery, I want to make it nice and happy and airy and pretty for my baby. I'm researching the price of crib bedding and figuring out how to upcycle the cute (but somewhat drab) dresser we were given for her. Delayed nesting = intense nesting.

   So this morning, after Thad left for work and Clementine went down for a nap and I was left to my own devices, I felt the stress come upon me as there are a million things I want to do all at once but neither have the immediate time or funds for. I decide to start working on one area (hanging up the clothes for example) and when I end up in the kitchen for a cup of coffee, start wondering how I make the kitchen look nicer. While in the middle of this I realized I'm spending more of my thoughts on where to hang this or that than I am in fellowship with God. Where the heck is my prayer life right now? Dear Lord, please help me find cheap bookshelves? Dear Lord, thanks for providing this great washer/dryer set, now please provide me with a set of curtains? How sad and embarrassing to admit!

   I know I can't be the only woman to be guilty of this which I guess is why I am sharing it. Here I am sitting and obsessing over the little things, when God has provided all of the important things AND THEN SOME. When we couldn't afford a crib, He provided. When we couldn't afford a car, He provided. When we couldn't afford a washer/dryer, some nice person donated them to the NLB Thrift Store and they sold them to us for next to nothing.

  Most importantly, a year ago when everything seemed lost, He threw us on His back and climbed us out of the pit. Thad and I have each other. Clementine has us. Talk about provision.

  So my goal today is no longer to organize the closet or find a good spot on the floor for all the books, but to remember and be glad that as much as I love my new home sweet home, my real home sweet home is not here on earth. It is eternal, secured for me by Christ, and more valuable than any material object I could ever attain. And if I am to hang curtains or organize a closet or make a sweet space for my sweet baby, it is to glorify God by blessing my family.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Finding Dory

   Clementine is going to be 7 months old in two days. She has no teeth, is trying so hard to crawl, hates peas, and no....she does not yet sleep through the night. She is almost 15 pounds and over 26 inches long. She thinks her Daddy is hilarious and of course, I think she's right.
  Last Saturday, Thad surprised us by taking us to the Georgia Aquarium, which has been a year-long dream of mine come true! Clementine didn't really care, but I was over the moon. Also, this sea otter was over the moon about the tire on her stroller and kept trying to get at it. She was very blase about the whole thing, but everyone else watching thought it was cute.




This is clearly something from the dinosaur age.

I basically died from happiness when I saw these guys.



We found Dory.


Also something form the dinosaur age...
  Thad also continues to spoil me, as I just folded my first load of cloth diapers in weeks. It's been so nice having a hubby around that wants to be just as busy as I am with taking care of the baby. He's so good about keeping her on her schedule, creating the right naptime ambiance, keeping her entertained between naps, feeding her the right amounts, changing diapers, and so on. He's become a champion car seat installer and diaper bag packer.
    We are not looking forward to sending him off to Phoenix tomorrow night, BUT we are super excited that he'll be packing up our belongings and getting them shipped here just in time for us to move into our apartment. We are so grateful to have been able to live at the Mullins for the past two months and it has been a special time for us but we are over the moon that we are going to be in our own place in a little over a week. We love love love the apartments we are moving into and it will be so nice to have our own space together for the first time in a year! Unfortunately, our SECOND wedding anniversary is in the middle of all the chaos (July 22nd) so we haven't exactly figured out how we're going to celebrate--plus, it's on a Monday. Boo.
 
Anyway, as you can see, it's nap time!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

No Consequences

   Maybe it's strange, but the rulings made by the Supreme Court yesterday forced me to think of two things: My dad and microwaves. You see, he's sometimes used a microwave as an example of how our culture thinks things should happen: quickly. Don't wanna wait for the oven to cook something? Zap it in the microwave. Similarly, don't wanna wait for the postman to deliver a message? Just zip out an email. My generation is not used to waiting for anything. We want it, and we want it NOW--regardless of the quality, meaning, or consequence.
   Microwaves are cool and all, and I in no way mean this to be a post about the positives and negatives of using a microwave but the truth is, the microwave is not the best way to cook something. Microwaves zap out nutrients from their food. And let's face it....emails carry very little meaning. We get letters in the mail and think wow, this person put time and thought and energy into send this. Emails...well...they just ooze the idea of convenience.

   Our culture thinks very little of consequence and it was screamed loudly from the rooftops yesterday. Everyone, it seems, is just over the moon about the Supreme Courts rulings on DOMA. I could hardly escape it from my news or RSS feeds. There was nary a whisper of the consequences of the rulings both politically and culturally.

   Okay, so, Prop 8 (stating that marriage is between a man and a woman) was struck down. This seems like a victory to those who want marriage to be redefined as....well....I'm not sure what. Redefined as a union between whoever? A union between two people? A union between a man and three women? A 60 year old man and a 12 year old boy? I shudder to think that there are varied answers on this but anyway, those who support "same sex marriage" view the ruling against Prop 8 as a win but whatever political or moral side you stand on, the fact that 5 people can overrule a law brought into being by the majority should scare you. The Supreme Court was never designed to have this kind of power. Essentially, the American idea that the people should be able to say what happens in the country is being decimated, one major court ruling at a time.

   Ah, but my generation, they don't see this. All they see is their friends, the minority, getting what they want, in this moment, and how "happy" their homosexual friends supposedly are. This is because those who live only for the pursuit of their momentary happiness know nothing of consequence--yet. Momentary happiness doesn't ask, but what next?

   And what is next? If marriage can be redefined, why not redefine it again, for those who find their happiness in plural marriages? Incest marriage? On what grounds do we judge them and withhold from them their "happiness"? And if 5 people can say "No" to what the majority votes for, do we the people actually have a voice anymore? What do we vote for? What if the tables were turned and the majority voted in support of gay "marriage" and 5 "justices" overturned their vote? What would be shouted from the rooftops then?

  I can't help but think of Roe V. Wade. Ah, the dancing on the rooftops. The "freedom". The bloodshed of millions of babies now on our hands--the consequences of the "sexual revolution." Could we have known then what the abortion industry would look like now? If mothers could see their babies faces in utero like we can now, what would have happened way back then?

  Mostly I can't help but think of Paul, and what he wrote in the book of Romans,

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, tothe dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature;and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:18-27, ESV)

We are living this, right now. It's happening right in front of us. Our culture might not believe in consequences, but I would suggest the consequences are already here. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Big Ole Fat Rain!

   Holy smokes, Batman! Thad has been home for 2 weeks now! It feels like much longer, in a good way. We took the first week to settle in. Snuggle baby. Snuggle each other. Breathe. Adjust. Take it easy. I worked some of the time, and Thad and Clementine got to spend some time alone together. He became a champion bottle-warmer, cloth diaper changer & laundry man, and teething toy.

Oh yes, this poor little baby is teething like a maniac. Girlfriend lives to chew. And drool. And chew some more. Thankfully she's only spent one night being miserable and having a hard time sleeping, although she has been waking up more frequently on a consistent basis. The poor thing. Cutting teeth is hard work!

Anyway, Thad had an interview a week ago Monday and it went fan-tas-tic. They hired him on the spot. When we told them that the hours wouldn't work for us (three 12 hour shifts over the weekend) they offered to fire the guy working Mon-Fri so Thad could have his position. Of course I never doubted for a second that any print shop he'd walk in to would want him, but we didn't really expect this response. Honestly, the guy has only ever interviewed for a job once (Starbucks!) and so this whole interview thing is new, scary territory.

A lot of people have looked at us sideways when we've told them that we didn't take the job. Don't worry, we took a good, long, sideways stare at the decision, too. But, when we left No Longer Bound and they offered him a job to work in their print shop (NLB Studios) we said yes, knowing it would be a short-term (very, very short-term) gig. They know they can't pay him what he's worth and we know that, too. So a lot of people have put pressure on us when it came to this decision--and we get it. Why would we, when we're in such a terrible financial state, take a low-paying job when a good-paying job is being handed to us?

Well, first things first, we told NLB we would work there for awhile. Secondly, we both like the idea of him being there and continuing to be around all his brothers--yea, that's what they call each other--while he transitions from being a man in a program to a man with a family. God is at work at NLB, there's no doubt about it. It's a great place to be. Maybe not for the wallet---but definitely for the soul. The Mullin's aren't kicking us out of their beautiful home yet so we have some time. Not a whole lot of time but....some. So we're taking it.

The blessings keep pouring in. As we've been sitting down and taking a good hard look at our finances, we've tried to find room in a pinhole for both a second vehicle and a crib (poor baby girl has been sleeping in a pack-n-play for months). We both kinda threw up our hands at the situation because we weren't going to be able to afford either. And then, in a flash, God handed us both.

Last weekend our neighbor two doors down GAVE us a crib, complete with a brand new mattress. Just like that.

Last week the church we've been attending (Grace Fellowship of South Forsyth, check them out, it's real good stuff) offered to sell us a vehicle for $1. One. Dollar. A great, in-better-condition-than-our-current-vehicle '99 Maxima. We are just left speechless. God is just providing for us at every single turn in ways that we couldn't even begin to come up with on our own.

So our plan is to stay at NLB Studios for about a month or so before Thad starts to interview again and we find the right fit for us. We really want to stay in the area, both because we're so close to No Longer Bound & Grace Fellowship. God has and is using both places to sustain us in such big ways we can't imagine being apart from either place for the time being.


We hung out with Uncle Dan for Memorial Day. Clemskidoodles loved it.




Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day

Thad got another 24 hour this past weekend. Usually the guys in the program get two 4 hour breaks and two 24. So last Monday they called me to confirm a 4 hour and I was kinda bummed. My mom was gonna be in town and it was my first Mother's Day and I wanted to get to spend it with Thad but really, I'm just thankful for any time that we get together. So on Friday when I was at work and the program director called me to say they were giving Thad another 24 so we could enjoy Mother's Day together, I cried. I also cried when he told me that this would be Thad's final week in the program. I have waited 10 months for that call!

So, we had a great weekend, got to hang out with my mom, and did our usual favorite things--which is just a bunch of this:





Sunday, May 5, 2013

27.

   For the past TWO weekends I have gotten to pick Thad up at 1pm on Saturday and keep him until 4pm on Sunday. It. Has. Been. WONDERFUL. It's always insanely busy, and we live on NLB time, but that's okay. Both weekends it has POURED so although I planned on picnics and walks in parks, we've been inside snuggling and listening to the rain. Last weekend some of my favorite people in Georgia let us have their house all to ourselves while they were on vacation. We did boring, mundane family things like go to the grocery store and rent a movie at Red Box and cook dinner together and let me tell you, there was very little boring or mundane about it. It was way too precious to have all three of us together. And really, really nice not to be the only one on dirty diaper duty....and Dad definitely doesn't mind it.


This weekend we ran errands, snuggled some more, drank coffee, played with our toes, and had dinner with another family whose guy was on a 24. Thad's bff Dan may or may not be Clementine's new favorite person (he is also a baby whisperer). 

 We also went to Cracker Barrel after church with the Hampton's (and obviously got a haircut)
 Snuggled lots with Dad
 ....and got really upset when he tried to put us down.
 As usual, Clementine is always a princess for her babysitters (Aunt Stacey and Kelly).

Now we're drowning our sorrows that we won't see Dad again for a week by watching Aristocats. We're also getting really excited that Nani is coming out to visit this week.

I've been back at work now for two weeks and it. is. exhausting. I had forgotten how tired I am since I haven't had a night's sleep since December. And even though I usually only work 6 hour shifts, by the time I'm done, I'm so done with life it's unreal. I'm not ready to give up breastfeeding yet so the pumping and planning for that adds a little extra stress on top but it's remained somewhat manageable.

Clementine started rolling over like a champ this week! Girlfriend's chunky thighs are hiding some serious muscle, and she can push herself up on them....but her tiny little arms aren't quite ready to hold her weight so, for the moment, she's still not mobile. And boy am I thankful for that!!

Thad has about two weeks in the program left. His 10 month mark will be May 20th and we couldn't be more excited to move on with whatever the next phase in life is. The time we've gotten the past month and a half has been invaluable to us but we are so ready to move on.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Is big hair cool again? Because it's a million percent humid.

Well it's our third week in Georgia and it's been won-der-ful. I don't have to use my gps anymore to find most things and I've [almost] forgotten how annoying it is to drive a stick in the land that isn't flat. Also, someone forgot to tell whoever build the roads here that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line but I'm getting used to that, too.

On my list of things that I am not used to is:


  • Everyone talking in "Exits." Ask someone where something is located and they will inevitably tell you "It's on Exit [insert number here]." If you ask them what road that is, they will probably look blankly at you, throw out a name, and consult the nearest person who also doesn't know what the road is actually called. Hilarious.
  • Humidity. It's 80 degrees and I'm sweating. At home I'd be willing to put a light scarf on in 80 degree weather if it was gonna look nice, but I just broke a sweat putting a load of laundry in. I feel like I'm in a sauna--which I'm told is good because it helps sweat toxins out. Trying to look on the bright side, you know?
  • Weezer. On the radio. All the time. Sup, 2005?
  • Pollen. I've never had allergies in my life and I haven't stopped blowing my nose for three days now. It is not fun.
Not that I'm complaining. The awesome is outweighing the bad. I love that when I take walks at night, I don't feel the need to constantly look behind me, the crickets are chirping, and it smells like trees. People don't look at me funny when I say 'yes ma'am' and of course, Southern hospitality is a real thing, and I find myself on the receiving end of it constantly.

And then there's the fact that Clemskidoodles and I get to see Thad on a weekly basis, which has been spirit-renewing in so many ways. It is sooooo nice to be able to have the three of us together! He will be done at NLB in about 7 weeks and I can hardly believe it. It seems unreal....we'll all get to LIVE together?! Amazing.

Here is what Clementine has been up to:
Falling asleep at the park

Learning how to grab things (other than my hair)

Making boyfriends
Getting smooches from Dad

Ignoring me because Hook is on TV


Clemskidoodles rolled over for the first time the other day. She did not like it. She rolled back onto her back before I could get my camera and she has not attempted to roll over since. I do not think she was a fan, and that's okay with me. After rolling comes crawling, and after crawling walking, and after walking, running away from me. I like getting to tickle her while she can't stop me. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

My New BFF

   Yesterday was National Autism Awareness day and in honor of that, I wanna tell you a little about my new best friend, Eddie.
   Eddie is the brother of the family I'm living with and he lives here too. I hate to use the stereotype but he's a little like Dustin Hoffman's character in Rain Man. He's incredibly smart and socially unaware. For the past three days, every morning he has come upstairs and we've chatted for a bit. I've learned lots of interesting things, like everything you've ever wanted to know about Haley's comet, what the weather is going to be like thru the weekend, what's going on in the case of a missing girl in Florida, what year it will be when Clementine is old enough to start school, what year it will be when she graduates, and what the jackpot at Bingo on Tuesday night was. He's really very interested in the mail, so when I was headed down to the mailbox to drop something off, he insisted on taking it for me.
   All this to say, I really enjoy our interactions. Every time we hang out I can't help but marvel at what a wonderful thing the human mind is. I'm sure some people would look at me sideways when I say this, but how can you talk to someone whose brain works like Eddie's does and not clearly see a Creator? It is so maddening to me to live in a society that would look down its nose at his quality of life--a society that approves of the murder of the unborn based on some wild-eyed assertion that those with disabilities  are unfit to live.
   Eddie has disabilities but his mind is capable of things my mind will never be. He's a blessing to be around. He helps me slow down. When I watch him enjoy waiting for the mailman, it reminds me to enjoy the little things. When he continues to talk to me about bingo for the rest of the week, it's going to encourage me to find joy in the mundane. Eddie is better at these things than I am, and I can learn from him.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome To Atlanta

   I'm currently writing this from the den of a beautiful house owned by beautiful people in Cumming, Georgia because God is good.
   My stomach has been in knots for months over the space between Thad and I, and how awkward? difficult? seemingly impossible? it would be for us to meld our lives together when he finishes his program. We've both basically been on opposite ends of the country becoming different people--me, a mother and he, a new man. But we both had resigned ourselves to it because God has you where he has you--that is, until he moves you which is exactly what happened to me two weeks ago.
   I'm sitting here starting sentences and backspacing, and starting a new sentence and backspacking, maybe because I haven't processed it all yet. Or I don't really know how to put into words how quickly everything has changed for our little family in the last few weeks. But mostly I don't really know how to express my gratitude for all that has been and is continuing to happen in our lives. The long & short of it is that our brother and sister, Allan and Stacey, talked to their good friends who have a track record of being extremely giving of their home and time, about Clementine coming to live with them through the rest of Thad's program. Without ever having met me, they agreed to open up their home to me and my little Clemenbaby. I often have to pause to let that sink in. I hope that one day, when I have my own home, I will find ways to serve others like they do.
   Anyway, it all happened so quickly. One week I'm fretting over the future of my family and missing Thad horribly and the next I'm trying to sell Thad's car, and calling car shipping companies to ship mine across the States, and packing up my life into suitcases so that Clementine and I can move to Georgia and see her daddy more than once every 3 months.
   All of this started being put into motion when Thad was in a portion of the program without any outside contact. He was finally given privileges back the Saturday before the Thursday we were planning to fly out and I didn't feel like telling him about the move in a letter (I also didn't have time to write one) so not only was it a surprise when we showed up at NLB on Saturday, he didn't know that we moved here, either.
   It has been beyond strange driving around in Georgia. Running errands in Georgia. Having my car in Georgia. I've never lived in another state before but Georgia is prettttty sweeeeet. Of course, I'm totally thrown off by the fact that none of the roads are straight, and they're full of hills and curves and trees and what the heck I drive a manual, I wish these roads would chill out on the climbs. If it weren't for GPS I'd drive in a circle all day, although today I did make it to three destinations without needing directions so I guess in another few weeks or so it won't be so confusing.
   Today I was in Target and there were gaggles of women everywhere. It seems everyone in Georgia knows everyone in Georgia and even though they saw each other yesterday at church, they had more to talk about when they bumped into each other in the cracker aisle, like how this one chick was deciding to get married with a justice of the peace instead of in a church, how scandalous. This other lady "hugged the dickens" out of her friend? neighbor? and, throwing her hand on her hip and in a WINNING southern accent hollered, "Why weren't you at church yesterday?" and I think I had to quickly duck into another aisle to avoid conspicuously laughing at their exchange. Thank you, women of the South! Now I have even more reasons to waste time at Target!

  Anywho. Here we are. And so far, it's great!

 Nani came with us on Clementine's first ever plane ride and stayed for the weekend because she is the best Nani ever. We got a whole row to ourselves and got to bring Clemenbaby's carseat! She slept for most the flight and cried for 30 seconds!

 I look terrible but please note how tight Thad had to hold Clementine. He couldn't stop cheesin for awhile.

 We have the cutest baby ever.

She tries to eat my face but I win. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Am I Really Content With Weakness?

I've been struggling with this whole blogging thing ever since my sweet angel princess baby was born. There's so much to say but so little that seems acceptable to say. The few times I've opened up about the highs and lows of motherhood it seems I have been chided and misunderstood and I wished I could just hit the reset button on the conversation.

But, I'm done with all that.

You all have probably seen the ever popular:


I keep seeing this/hearing this pop up everywhere--on other blogs, pinterest, and facebook posts. I feel like, especially for those who have been married for a good chunk of time, people are all too willing to sagely nod at this wisdom. So I can't help but wonder....why is it not so readily said of parenthood?

Am I amiss to say that the blessing of children isn't so we can fulfill our own selfish desires? That maybe it's more than the cute little clothes and shoes and pictures we take? Is it okay to say that--parenthood is really stinkin' hard, and maybe that's the point? Ultimately, parenthood is for our own sanctification?

Why is it okay to say that my relationship with my husband is so difficult, and that's why it's so edifying but I'll get less nods and more warnings of being ungrateful if I say, taking care of my baby is so difficult?

I'm pretty sure that when a wife opens up to other women about difficulties in her relationship with her husband, the answer is rarely: Oh but he's so cute, just enjoy him! I'd venture to say that most shared difficulties are met with understanding, advice, grace, and then encouragement. You may be walking through a difficult road in your relationship and that's okay. That's normal. But if you're walking through a difficult day with your child, isn't that normal, as well? Is it supposed to be easier to excuse the difficulty because the face of the difficulty is just so precious? I think there's something wrong with that. Our spouses are just as precious, just as adopted into God's kingdom and considered sons and daughters of a King, as our children are.

I'm convinced that--just like with my marriage--God didn't give me my beautiful little girl just to make me happy. He did it to refine me. To test me. To sanctify me. And nothing refines or tests or sanctifies like being utterly and completely challenged to your core.

This doesn't mean that being a parent doesn't make me happy. Again, just like with my sweet husband, being with my sweet baby brings me inexpressible joy. It doesn't matter if I've been pooped on, spit up on, or kept from sleep for days. I love to hold her. I love to look at her little face. Yes I'd rather be asleep at 2am but I'm not sorry to ever be awake with her. I enjoy my long days and short nights as much as I possibly can. I've been warned: It goes by quickly.

I've noticed that it goes by quickly too. Just today I was folding and putting away clothes she doesn't fit in anymore. It's hard to believe she ever was that small--even though it was just 2 months ago. The days are long but the months are short. The joy is inexpressible but the valleys are intensely deep.

I would venture to say that all wonderful things are riddled with this dichotomy. The ultimate example of this would be Jesus dying on the cross....no greater act of love has ever been shown than in death. There is love in death. There is joy in valleys. And there is strength in weakness. Thank you, Paul, for writing "But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 

As a parent, a wife, and a Christian, I often fail in each calling. I am often weak. But I depend on a savior who never failed in any way in any capacity and so my weaknesses point to the cross. 

I think part of the reason why it's so hard to talk about how much we struggle as parents--especially mothers--is that all we want for our children is the best. We want to be the best give them only the best. There is this intense pressure to be that mom that can do it all and handle it all and still somehow manage to put on make up. But the Bible points us to our weaknesses and shatters the idea that we should somehow be super-flawless-mom who never has a bad day. It is when we depend on the Lord's strength, and not our own, that we glorify Him. 

I guess my rambling point is that I wish the stigma of mom-having-a-bad-day would go away. Yes, the "bad day" can be an issue of where mama's heart is aligned--is it with fulfilling her calling or with fulfilling her own desires?--but just like within marriage, and within our walks with the Lord, there are peaks and there are pits. There is no strength or wisdom in keeping the difficulties to ourselves, especially not in light of what Paul has told us about what our weaknesses point to. Just like married couples and christians should fellowship, lean on, and share their challenges with other married couples and other christians, parents should, too. 

Loving the Lord, loving our spouses, and loving our children doesn't make the walk easy. I would submit to you that its not supposed to be (Why else would we be told in Titus 2 that women must be "trained" how to love their husbands and children?). But I'm seriously loving it. I love the giggles and the poopy diapers and the adorable yawns. I'm incredibly humbled that God would entrust to me this little person and the privilege of meeting her needs. It is way more joy than it is pain, but you know I won't stop from being honest about that side of it, too. 

Sweet Angel Princess Baby