Friday, October 31, 2014

Letting go of their Little Ones

It's that time again.  Time when we almost don't have to use our sound machines to sleep because of the hum of the calves bawling outside.  They are crying for their mommas who are just across the fence.  Yet, they will never be together again.
That paragraph paints it to be the most devastating thing.  I never looked at it that way until I was a mom.  Yet, I must remind myself that these are not humans, and I'm going to stick with the idea that they don't think quite like we do.
Plus, this is our way of life.  This is what allows me to stay home with my little ones.  This is how it works.  The cows have calves every Spring; and every Fall, those calves are weaned, giving the already-pregnant-again-mommas the chance to nourish the little calves inside.

In a few days time, the mommas and calves will not be standing on either side of the fence anymore. Typically the mommas go first.  Yet, it isn't a first time for them...just for their babies.  It happens every October.  Then, the calves seem to get used to their new lives, and the bawling ends.
Having them right out of our back door serves as a constant reminder of the bond between moms and children...really, moms of any kind.  I'm just so incredibly thankful that I get to have these little ones under my wing for more than six months.

I don't think I'd do too well with this kind of weaning.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Things I Love

I'm completely stealing this idea from Bridget.  I love her.  
Things I Love

1.  A new baby smell.
2.  Fall days.
3.  This lipstick.  Nothing feels better.
4.  Conversations with my four-year-old.
5.  Seeing the boys already protect Sophie.
6.  Flannel.
7.  These snacks.  
8.  A warm blanket and fire going on a cold day.
9.  Writing.
10.  Living somewhat in the middle of nowhere.
11.  Everything Christmas.
12.  A good pair of tall leather boots.
13.  Children getting along.
14.  The smell (and feel) of a clean home.
15.  A good hug.
16.  A handwritten note.
17.  Caramels (any kind)!
18.  Little kids' tiny toes.
19.  Peter's obsession with the one outfit he wears daily.  
20.  Amazon Prime.
21. A warm drink in my hand.
22.  Confession.
23.  Lists.
24.  Seeing the way Jeremy loves the kids.
25.  Pedicures.
26.  The bond between sisters.
27.  The way my mom just understands.
28.  Seeing the kids grow up near both sets of grandparents they adore.
29.  Not knowing, yet understanding and finding solidarity in, other bloggers.
30.  This camera bag.  
31.  Fathers and their daughters.
32.  How John Paul refers to himself as Pauly.
33.  "I love you the whole world."

What do you love?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

He's Not Napping as Much

Lately, Carter hasn't been napping every day.  I can count on him not napping at all about every third day.  I'm still in denial.  He gets out of bed every fifteen minutes or so exclaiming what a wonderful nap he took.  I threaten him, walk him back to his room, surround him with books and beg him to just rest a little bit longer so I can get a couple things done.  It lasts for about another ten minutes, and then I finally let him up.  Then, some days, after he's been up a bit and he asks me, "How was your morning?" or proclaims, "Isn't is a beauuuutiful day?!" we pull down the big bag of treats and he gets to pick one thing (don't worry, it's not one bag or skittles or a pack of starburst - it's just one of those things -- unless it's a really bad day, ha!).  Then we "visit," maybe read a book or just hang out.

So, the other day was one of those days, and he picked a starburst.

And, then he went outside to practice being Robin Hood.

Waiting for the right hunt... took too long.
He's reminding me to savor these little moments...even when a thousand to-dos await!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Unending Search for Balance

Olivia is one of my blogging friends I finally was able to meet in Dallas this August.  I gathered she was sweet via her blog, but I had no idea she would be as genuinely wonderful as she was the instant we met!  She's so very generous and extremely gracious.  She's one of those women who makes you want to be a better you.  Her love for others shines in all she does, and man, you ought to see her with her precious George.  She's a natural!  Okay, I'm letting her take it from here...

I want to thank Britt for completing her charitable giving by letting me guest post. I'm a long time fan of this blog, and I was able to spend some good quality time with Britt at The Hundred Event in August. Her grace, sweetness, and undiscriminating love captivated me right then and there. So I count myself super blessed to be writing about a topic she and I discussed at length while we were together, something that we both wrestle with on a daily basis, and I bet you do, too ... Balance.

 It's something that we all want in our lives, and something that is a constant struggle for most of us. As women, we can wear many hats: child of God, daughter, sister, student, wife, mother, teacher, boo-boo fixer, baker, chef, housekeeper, employee, volunteer, financial manager, etc. Gosh, we have a lot to juggle. Women are naturally terrific multi-taskers, which, I'm starting to see as a new mom, is necessary in order for the female species to get anything done. At all. God gave us a gift for multi-tasking for a purpose. But just because we can do a lot at once does not mean we should do everything at once. Yet most of us tend to push ourselves to the limits. In our eagerness to serve others, we can over-exert ourselves. We self-impose this notion of "doing it all" and for seem reason we hate saying "no" to anything. In our noble desire to help anyone we can, we can actually do more harm than good. We end up driving ourselves into the ground, exhausting all our faculties and, in most cases, causing us to be a crabby person to live with. And if our family is our main priority, we just shot ourselves in the foot. IMG_3700

Priorities. We talk about the importance of prioritizing, but how many of us take the time to write down our priorities and plan accordingly? It is so vital that we consistently make time for taking stock of our lives, our current season of life, and determine where our time and energy are most required. The kicker, then, is in following through on our findings. Sometimes it's important to say "no" to the good, little things in order to give a more resounding "yes" to the better, bigger things. For me, my relationship with God is number one in my life. But my actions don't always reflect that. Sometimes I forget to make time for prayer or I get distracted by a minuscule task when I should be in conversation with God. My family is numero dos. My husband and my son are my "why" in life. They are why I work, they are why I serve, they are why I go to bed happy each night. But have you noticed how easy it is to neglect the people closest to us in order to fulfill some outside duty? We tend to think that they'll be more understanding of our situation,which is probably true; however, they don't deserve to get the shaft 24/7. If we don't take time to pray with our family, to spend quality time with our spouse, to learn about our children, and to have fun with them at the park, then our actions aren't reflecting our priorities. IMG_5121

Awareness. Thus, we should be hyper-aware throughout the day. How many of us have "accidentally" committed to being PTO president when our kid's principal asked us during the craze of after-school pick up? You're in a hurry, you're frazzled trying to get last week's science project in your car, and the principal expresses a need for the position to be filled. In your honest, selfless, and good desire to fill that need, you agree, only to kick yourself 10 minutes later when the dust settles. You think: What did I just do? I don't have time to organize meetings and print flyers and brainstorm creative fundraisers, I can barely organize my shoes in the closet! Trust me, I've been in situations like this one. And although our desires to help are not to be shunned, it's imperative that we are constantly aware of what is required of us from our main priorities. Everything else must fall under those.

Mercy. Finding balance is a lifelong search, isn't it, friends? Just as soon as we have the wheels turning smoothly, a wrench is thrown in, we're thrown off course, and we are forced to recover. That's why it is vital that we have mercy on ourselves. Achieving a balanced life is hard stinking work, and it's not for the faint of heart. But you are not faint of heart. You are bold and brave and willing. That is half the battle. The desire for a balanced life is what will fuel us to constantly seek to strike that balance. Because the more balanced our life, the more we are able to give of ourselves to those whom we love. The more balanced our life, the more we are able to become the person we were created to be. The more balanced our life, the more we are able to glorify God by being dedicated to the most important roles to which He has appointed us. The more balanced our life, the happier we are. But we must have mercy on ourselves, because the Lord has mercy on us in our efforts. If we're not patient with ourselves we will drive ourselves and everyone else up the wall. Mercy breeds patience, and patience breeds results. We will get there, I just know it. Until then, let's walk arm in arm, encouraging one another along the way and reminding one another why we are doing this in the first place. And let's not ask one another to head up the PTO {wink}.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Confessions: Catching up, Motherhood, and Too Many Words

Does it ever feel like the second you get caught up, the piles of to-dos mount again?  That's how it's been feeling here.  I feel like I just get a blog post ready, and something (or someone) else needs my attention.  Usually, those attention grabbers pull me toward more important things, so the interruption is welcomed (hesitantly, at first).  In saying that, I haven't read some of my favorite blogs in awhile, and I feel behind.  Crazy, right?!  On top of that, I've not commented in forever.  Sorry!  It's funny how the littlest things (like those) can seem heavy sometimes, and it's even crazier that not blogging, reading, or commenting can cause feelings of inadequacy.  I can't believe I just typed that, but I did. 

Anyway, I'm just jotting a ton of things down here in this post as a way to catch up quickly!  Here goes:

I'm on day 22 of Whole30.  Before you think that's a big feat, let me remind you that it's my third try, haha.  So, I've had a few special (for me) snacks around the house.  Do you know what happens when you do that?  Your kids find them extra special, too...

I did a little eye make-up tutorial for Olivia this Monday.  It's nothing professional, but if you want to know my daily routine, check it out here.

When you live in the country (or anywhere really) you're internet randomly goes down.  That doesn't go over well when it's a day you plan to get a lot of emails responded to.  It happened yesterday.  I owe several of you an email, maybe from weeks ago (I'm getting on that)!  So, rather than catching up, we did a little of this...
...I sent the boys outside with watercolors.  Carter and Peter's faces were clean.  Hmmm.  "Let's paint John Paul!"

Have I mentioned how in love with this little thing I am?  Seriously, I cannot get enough of her. Having a girl is fun in ways I didn't expect, but my absolute favorite thing thus far is seeing all of the boys around her.  Everyone is in love.

It's funny how tastes change.  I never really liked southwest decor growing up.  Well, I shouldn't say that.  Really, it just wasn't for me.  But, I feel these make the entrance to our house so much prettier. I'm a changed woman.
Do you have an Erin Condren planner?  If so, did you know until November 1st, you can order a new free cover?  Use the code FREECOVER.  

I'm shooting my first wedding this weekend.  Tiffany is getting married, and she asked me and a couple others to take photos.  If you think about it, on Saturday, say a prayer all goes well as this beautiful bride begins such a holy sacrament!

Some days I think I have split personalities.  Let me explain.  I've always loved kids and have always wanted to grow our family (His plan, permitting).  Some days I walk around thinking, "I've got this!" Others, I am quickly put in my place.  Like this weekend when Peter had a meltdown in a restaurant full of people and screamed in the car for over an hour until he calmed down.  Maybe I should tell you we were 6+ hours from home, no naps had taken place in two days, and it was past his bedtime.  Are those all just excuses?   But, what if I told you something similar happened two days later with Carter.  Granted, we had just driven that 6+ hours back home (same situation, different day, different child).  During those moments (especially when not in the comfort of my own home), I question everything.  Every thing.  Should we be disciplining differently?  Are they watching too much TV?  How do I get through to him?  Am I giving them enough attention?  The list goes on.  But, if I dig deeply, something might edge to the lead in terms of what really bothers me in these moments.  It comes down to this:  others think I'm in over my head (don't they have to be thinking this?).  If I'm honest, some days I feel that I am.  But, at the end of those days, I know (and am always reassured) that it is all worth it.  Truly, I feel that.  I adore these kids.  I love the chance to learn from them.  I love being made so raw...seeing so very clearly where I am weak (I just prefer it to not be in public, ha!).  Love it in a, "God, I need your help, this is getting deep" kind of way. Obviously, I worry too much about what others think.  I am selfish. And, I want a level of control of my life that will never be mine.  Those deep, gut-check moments of clarity are brilliant and give reason to the doubt.  However, they don't always make the moments any more bearable.  Yes, I want my children to be "good" because I want others to see that we're trying our very best to raise them the "right" way.  Yes, I want them to behave, because I so desperately want people to know that even on the hardest days, I'm not throwing in the towel or saying "no" to other little ones, if we're so blessed. Yes, I want them to act in public as they do the majority of time at home because I want someone to truly say, deep in their heart, that they support us as parents, that we aren't crazy, that we aren't irresponsible, and that they see the blessing in these little ones, too. But, the truth is, none of that matters.  It doesn't.  What does is realizing that I cannot and will not make it trying so desperately to seek approval from anyone other than Him.  Another truth: life with four kids, ages 0-4, is demanding.  It's exhausting.  And, it's downright difficult at times.  But, I keep coming back for more. Why?  For the little moments.  For the kisses and hugs and "God bless you and keep you safe, Mommy"s.  For the joy that comes in seeing them reach up to the Cross and ask to kiss "Jejus."  For the moments, however far between, that come with a deep sigh of relief and the thought, "I've got this."  Why?  Because. this. is. my. vocation.  These little ones are bringing me closer and closer to Christ, no matter the purging that it takes for me to get there.  It is hard.  But it is good.  So very good.  By the end of this vignette, I'm back to thinking, "I've got this."  Pray for me.

With all of that said, the idea of balance comes in.  Why do I blog?  Why in the world am I even considering starting a side photography business right now?  What - you just got a new puppy? (Yes, we did).  How in the world will we manage if we homeschool?  Should I try to grow my blog and my presence via social media?  Does ANY of that even matter?  Oh wait, I need to cook?  And clean? And pay bills?  Blah blah blah. You've heard it all.  Luckily, you get to hear about trying to manage all of those things from someone other than me because I'm sure I question everything relating to balance at least once a day.  I'm looking for an answer!  Olivia is sharing a post here on The Fisk Files this week about that very thing.  Balance.  Don't miss it.  

Finally (promise I'm stopping), I've been really debating starting a Capsule Wardrobe.  I know you've heard of it.  It's all the rage, thanks to Caroline.  Jenna has done it.  This Jenna has, too!  Kendra's doing it.  Grace, Blythe, are you next?  I want to do it.  I think I will.  But, I'm not so sure when I'll find the time to squeeze that one in.  Maybe a babysitter is in order while I line my closet out and simplify my life (and my materialistic addictions).  Doesn't Caroline make it look so cool?  I'm sure it may have just a tiny bit to do with how beautiful she is and how put together she seems!  Anyway, it's fun to think about.  And, will be even more fun to do!  

This post is finally over.  Thanks for listening.  

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Peter is Three

Yes.  It's been another year.  This little man is three, as of last Friday.  And, I'm finally blogging it up. So, just a little recap of the man of the hour: Peter is a strong-willed little guy.  He definitely has his mind set on certain things and rarely is swayed.  Yet, juxtaposed to that will is one of the softest hearts imaginable.  He's as sweet as can be to his baby sister, and the thought of you being upset with him sends him into hysteria.  As I've mentioned before, he's in an "army" phase (most call it camo, but don't tell him).  He loves everything "army" and drives his little jeep with reckless abandon.  He's an animal lover, and he'll gladly help the guys with any work they have to do.  He's attached to his little horse blanket ("neigh-neigh"), and his blue blanket is rarely far from his side.  Ice cream is his favorite treat, and he loves to have time to himself.  Sometimes I wonder if we were alike as kids. He isn't much of a cuddler and can be unbearably shy.  He's definitely one who requires a bit more figuring out, and his's so good.  Just like Saint Peter, he's a little rock and will be forever strong.

Onto the party.  I never think the kids will even know what is going on (in terms of a birthday party this early in life), but I'm always wrong when it comes to being three.  They know.  Boy, do they know.  

I say this every year, but my mom always made a huge birthday poster for us, detailing (in pictures) our lives throughout the years.  It was one of my favorite things about my birthday.  So, I've tried to carry on the tradition.  
Since Peter loves army things so much, we decided to go with a army party theme.  Now, when I say theme, I mean a few coordinated utensils, favors and maybe a banner.  I am not your party planning mom by any means.  But, it works for us.
With that in mind, I knew we (Jeremy and I) had to make these.  And, we did.  They were so fun...until I iced them.  How can something go from army to witch's hat/Halloween in seconds? Look.  That's how.
Oh well.  The taste didn't change.
We have enough cousins in the area that when we have a party, it's typically just family.  When people started arriving, I looked to find Peter.  And, half the presents were already opened.  Thank-you writing might be very general, as I have no clue who gave what.  But, he was loving it!

 I went outside to check on the kids and found this... in her army bunk.

Carter managed to get a few more cuts in need of bandaids.
When I talked to Jeremy about an army theme, he said he might put together a little obstacle course. Honestly, I wasn't sure it would work.  The oldest at the party would be seven, and well, I didn't think they'd be that into it.  Was I ever wrong!!  It was the "life of the pary!"

There were tunnels...
 ...a hay maze...
 ...a gunny sack pull...

 ...a wall climb...
...a crawl under the wire...

...a tire thing...
 ...and a balance activity.

To say they loved it is an understatement!

Carter was in.tense!

 Peter was a bit concerned about the dirt in his new boots.

 Rett has always been so sweet to the little ones!
 And, you'd never know Gentry was the only girl there.
There were prizes for the finishers.
 A very typical face...
 ...and a gate decoration?
 Finally, we had cupcakes, and ice cream.

 And, they asked if they could sleep in the new army tent.
He woke up to this.
When I asked him his favorite part of the day, he responded, "All da people came for me, Momma!"

I would call that a success.