Friday, November 30, 2012

Wonder {Five Minute Friday}

5 minutes. Unedited. Topic: Wonder.

Five Minute Friday


Sometimes my breath catches when I think of the moments of awe I’ve had, and I wonder if I’ll ever have them again.
I wonder if I’ll ever feel that wonder again.

As a girl, when I looked at the world through innocent eyes, I felt it. That sense of awe. That hope. That soaring feeling of a life not yet lived, waiting to begin. All things new. It was just out of reach – everything I’d ever dreamed of. Hoped for. Prayed for.
And now I don’t know how many more moments like that I’ll have. Life has become more real, and with its blessings, more beautiful in many ways. But also more real. It can be scary, cold, indifferent, difficult…

It can change without a moment’s notice and leave us broken and battered in its midst. And yet that wonder still exists. It’s still out there for those who want it, a desire left untouched until the world opens up and gives it to us all over again.
God graces me with His love. Pours it out with all the mighty strength he holds, and yet my sense of wonder is not the same. I long to be that girl again, wishing for a life well lived, not knowing what lies beyond the horizon, and being okay with that.

I'm not good at getting my jumbled thoughts out in just five minutes, especially because I feel like I could go on forever on this topic. I love wonder. It's probably one of my favorite things, and it just doesn't seem to happen as often or with as much intensity as it used to.

But another one of my favorite things is this cutie:
Christmas boy

And today is his first birthday! I just wanted to give him a shout out, since he's one of the things that still fills me with wonder. Happy birthday, my sweet little Abram boy!

Friday, November 23, 2012

A Note To A New Mom

Dear Mama-To-Be,

You have no idea what is about to happen to you.

Bear with me – this isn’t another one of those ‘just you wait’ cautionary tales. By now you are probably tired of (and possibly even extremely irritated by) all the advice you’re getting, all the snide comments about ‘what you’re in for’, and all the self-professed seasoned parenting pros who are telling you EXACTLY how your baby is going to be and exactly how you should handle all of it.

They don’t know anything. And neither do you… because babies are just like life and Forrest’s box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get.

When I was pregnant with my first, I got all kinds of warnings and counsels. Honestly, I shrugged off most of them.
“Your life is about to change.”
“No shit,” I thought.

And I didn’t believe them when they told me I’d better get used to not sleeping. After all, the books said babies only needed to nurse every 3-4 hours and were capable of sleeping through the night at three months old. Surely, it wasn’t that bad.

Advice For a New MomThen my daughter was born, and I spent far too many nights crying right along with her while deliriously and desperately praying that I would not die from the exhaustion. I prayed that the intense anxiety I felt was not the dreaded postpartum depression, prayed that I would one day understand how people could possibly go on to have more children after enduring months like these.

So endure we did, and gradually life got easier.

BUT then my son was born. He did things by the book, we all slept, and life was good. I finally stopped believing that people who supposedly had babies who slept were liars.

So I can’t tell you how to prepare for your little one. You might sleep; you might not. You might have a hard time at first; you might be a natural. You might be scared; you might be confident.

How To Raise A ChildPerhaps you’ll be excited to show your little one off and visit as many friends as possible in those early months, or perhaps, after you get asked why you’re just now bringing the baby by, you’ll smile and say, “It’s just been a little hectic” while wanting to snarkily answer, “Gee, I’ve slept a total of ten hours in the last three weeks and am up to my elbows in spit-up and diaper changes. You tell me.”

I don’t know how your story is going to go. The best I could do is tell you about mine, and perhaps we can compare notes later on down the road.

All I know is that gradually, you will get to know that little person, and his or her presence in your life will fill your world in ways you can’t possibly imagine right now. They’re not kidding when they say it changes your life. I know there are ways that I still haven’t even discovered yet, as my children still have many more years of growing and changing to do.

My strengths and weaknesses are both more apparent. I am a more real version of myself. There is more joy in my laughter, more sorrow in my grief. I both need and receive more grace than ever before.

Yet I often look at these two little beings that I brought into this world and am blown away, completely and utterly blown away by a million tiny things that I can’t quite name.

I'm Afraid Of Being A MomBefore you lies this amazing, uncharted, wild land that is yours to explore. Sometimes the terrain is rugged and rocky. You’ll hit patches of desert. Maybe at times you’ll feel like you’re sliding down a mountain. And then you’ll come across a clearing, a river, an oasis. You’ll find yourself firmly planted on a mountaintop, your breath taken by the beauty you see below.

Your land is different from mine. Your journey may take many different turns, and although I wish I could give you all the answers that you seek, it is a journey that is yours and yours alone.

I might not be able to tell you much, but I can tell you one thing for sure, Mama – this is a journey you are privileged to take, a voyage more significant than any you’ve ever been on. 

That little soul you carry within holds so much more than I could ever begin to tell you.

So much love.

So much life, waiting to be lived.

I wish you well on your journey, my mama comrade.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Toy Ideas: A Not-So-Serious Christmas Gift Guide For Toddlers

As the Christmas holiday rapidly approaches, I once again find myself confused and overwhelmed by the overabundance of beeping, flashing, jangly toys on the market. Most of the stuff out there is just junk that will get tossed in the toy box and forgotten long before the stockings even come down, but sometimes I get lucky and discover a toy that actually entertains my kids beyond Christmas morning. 

We all want to give our children a magical Christmas, but how can we be sure we will get our money’s worth out of a toy purchase? Well, in an effort to help fellow parents weed through all of the unsatisfactory toys and find the ones that will actually provide hours of entertainment, I’ve put together a list of playthings that will undoubtedly spur squeals of glee from your little one.

If my little guy could write a letter to Santa, he would likely include the following in his wish list:

10) Packets of OatmealWhy bother with fancy maracas or drums when your child can let his inner percussionist out by gleefully thwacking together these crinkly casings of fun? Extra fun if one happens to rip open, sending oats flying everywhere.

9) Random TrinketsThis generally includes items your older child discards haphazardly, such as stickers, candy wrappers, marker lids, and other various choking hazards. Fun for you as well – nothing is quite as exciting as watching your toddler pick up a freaky purple spider and shove it in his mouth, only to discover that it’s just one of those plastic rings left over from Halloween.

8) A Giant Pile of Freshly Squeezed Dog TurdIt doesn’t cost a dime, unless you count the animal that provides it and the food required to create it, and Play Doh is highly overrated anyway.

7) Measuring TapeDrape it, drag it, fling it, wag it…with this toy, one thing is certain – it will never, EVER actually be in the drawer it’s supposed to be kept in.
Baby Likes Playing In The Laundry Basket

6) Plastic/Cardboard ContainersThe recycling bin is a veritable treasure trove of Christmas goodies.  Nothing says playtime quite like a tampon box or a mostly-empty bottle of coffee creamer.

5) DVDs, Books, or anything else kept on a shelfThe more important/expensive the item, the better, and all you have to do to ensure that it gets played with is stack the item as neatly as possible amongst other important/expensive items.

4) Remote ControlIn the middle of an intense moment of your favorite television show? That’s exactly when this item will most often be played with. Just make sure this is easily accessible to your little one, and it won’t be long before you’ll kick the television habit – an added bonus for you!

3) Laundry BasketPush toys? No, laundry basket. Rocking animal toy? No, laundry basket. Expensive playhouse? No – laundry basket. The epitome of versatility, this item never loses its appeal. And somehow never gets used for laundry.

2) A Stocked PantryOnce again, who needs a fancy playhouse? There is so much delight to be discovered within…
Playing In The Pantry
And finally,

1) Toilet Paper  And it's even better when it's already in the toilet.

So there you have it – a list of toys that your children would love to have but that you most likely will not purchase for them for Christmas…

Because then they probably wouldn’t want to play with them anymore.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Winter Un-Bucket List

I’m someone my husband likes to call a ‘Christmas junkie’. I admit it – I totally get swept up in the lights, the music, the decorating, the baking, the gift giving, and all of that stuff that doesn’t really matter in the scheme of things. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with that because that stuff is fun, and who doesn’t want to have a little fun during the holidays?

However, the key to enjoying those aspects of the holiday season is to keep it all stress-free. Minimalize. Don’t make the mistake of seeing the unimportant as important. The minute you stop enjoying those things and start stressing over them is the moment you lose all perspective and start failing at life.

If you think about it, the whole point of the holiday season is to celebrate and reflect upon something so simple and amazing – the birth of a V.I.B. (a Very Important Baby) – so shouldn’t it be a season of simplicity and peace?

I started to put together a bucket list of all the things I want to do this winter, and then I realized…I kinda want to do everything. The Christmas junkie in me needs to calm down a little.

So instead I came up with some things I will not be doing this winter:

1)     Participating in Black Friday. Two words: Y’all crazy.

2)      Writing a letter to Santa. Dude’s not real. Someday we gotta accept it.

3)      Stressing about gift giving. Do you think the wise men worried about the gifts they brought to Jesus? “Yo, Melchior, which scent of myrrh should I bring – Dirty Spice or Eau de Tree?”
No – they were wise men. Give from your heart, and don’t worry about it.

4)      Shoveling snow. Not because I’m too good to shovel snow, but because I don’t live in a place where it snows…and I’ve gotta put a positive spin on that.

5)      Burning the Christmas cookies. I’m easily distractible these days, so I figured it would be a good idea to go ahead and add this to the list. One can hope.

6)      Going caroling. I can’t carry a tune. This will never, ever happen, and even if by some miracle it does, I promise I will only mouth the words. It’s for your own good if you’re within hearing range. Trust me.

7)      Watching the ball drop in New York on New Year’s Eve. Again, y’all crazy. Standing in the freezing cold, elbow to elbow with a bunch of strangers, unable to use the bathroom? I’ll pass.

8)      Believing the groundhog. Each year we wait with great anticipation to see if spring is just around the corner, and one thing I’ve learned is…that rascal’s on to us. He thinks we’re a bunch of suckers.

I feel better already just knowing I can mark some things off my list. May your holiday season be merry and bright! (But also relaxing and low-key.)

Do you have a winter bucket list? Or UN-bucket list?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thirty Days Of Thankful

November always sneaks up on me. October tends to feel like a downhill plunge from the summit of a roller coaster – the anticipation barely has time to build, and before I know it, I’m exiting to the left and wondering what the heck just happened.

I’m exhausted. Through and through. Today I just feel completely worn out. After all the traveling, the wedding, the teething, the trick-or-treating, and all that October has brought me, I’m ready to take it easy and relax.
Not gonna happen though. If October is the roller coaster, November is that ride you look at and think “oh, this won’t be so bad”, and then when you get off, you can barely walk and feel like you’re going to puke your guts up.

And don’t even get me started on December.
The reason it’s this way, however, is entirely my fault. I just get overly ambitious toward the end of the year and think I’m going to magically become one of those Pinterest women whose party planning and baking skills rival Martha Stewart.

Is it the weather change? Is it the full moon? Is it because I’ve put off doing the 987 projects I’ve planned throughout the year and suddenly remember all of them at once?
I don’t know, but I do know my world is about to be filled with loaves of chocolate chip pumpkin bread, themed birthday party and holiday decorations, and a muddled brain as I try to figure out which writing/scrapbooking/photo editing/video making project to tackle next. (Until I crash from all the cleaning and kid-chasing and decide that a nap sounds much better.)

No matter what I end up doing, there is one thing in particular that I’m challenging myself to do daily – be thankful. After all, this is the month of Thanksgiving, and what good is doing anything if I’m doing it without a grateful heart?
As we approach the end of the year, I realize I have much to reflect on and much to look forward to. My little boy will turn one year old. My little girl will turn three. We are all currently so healthy and so happy, and I shouldn’t want or need much else.

Enjoy my gifts – that should be my focus this month. I’m thankful I have all of these activities in my life to choose from because they make my world – and my heart – so full.

Being Thankful While Busy