Thursday, June 23, 2011

A Little Conviction

My husband was just holding the baby when the Little Guy came up and bashed right into him.  I was thinking of my own reaction to this happening MANY many many times.  I usually react in anger and make the Little Guy move away from me.  I'm always telling him "gentle, Mommy likes nice touches".  My husband's reaction just convicted me though.  He said "sometimes 'rough' is all I get with Little Guy".  The way he said it was like it was a privilege to be assaulted by our very rough and tumble Little Guy.  Wow.  All this time I've been treating it like something that should only happen at certain times (like tickle-wrestle time), and here my husband was treasuring it.  You know the saying "there is no 'I' in team"?  I'm always saying "there is no 'gentle' in Little Guy".  And there isn't really.  He WILL hug, and he will kiss, but it's usually accompanied with a body blow or tackle of some sort immediately before or after...or he uses my hair or skin to pull me toward him.  And you know what, that's ok.  I'm going to adopt my husband's attitude (with God's help because it really does trigger an angry response from me when he hurts me oftentimes) and treasure my little guy and the way that HE needs to love.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Stress, shingles and garlic

I had shingles in the fall of 2008 while pregnant with my 2yo.  It was not fun.  I got it from being OVERLY, extremely, "oh-my-gosh-the-world-is-ending" stressed about the presidential election.  My parents had gotten so head-over-heels into prepping and "end-of-the-worldness" (not saying they ALWAYS go together, I think responsible/reasonable "prepping" is great) and were CONSTANTLY talking about how if the election went a certain way that we'd need to move to the mountains and burn our vehicles and live out our last days hiding from the government and how I'd have to learn how to perform surgery and do stitches, on and on.  Here I was, just turning 26 (figured out it was shingles the morning of my birthday), having the absolute time of my life.  I was married to an amazing guy, had 2 beautiful kids and another precious blessing on the way, we had started homeschooling, work was going great for my husband, we'd just moved to a bigger apartment less than a year before, got the vehicle of my dreams (older and it just about fell from Heaven the way all the details worked out)...everything was so great and here my parents were telling me day in and day out that I was going to have to take my kids to the mountains and raise them in seclusion (seriously, they talked about how they'd shoot anyone who got too close to our dwelling) this life my parents were painting, my kids would never get to experience love, they'd be hermits and have no idea how to be around anyone outside our family.  Unlike my husband, I daydream about my children courting and marrying.  I'm out of this world EXCITED and ECSTATIC that they might find someone to love as much as I love their dad.  Giddy.  But my parents were completely dashing that dream.  I couldn't even pick a homeschool curriculum because anything that required computers or library access would be out because we'd be in the middle of the forest, secluded, for the next 10+ years according to their plan.  Thinking about it now it makes me sick the lack of faith they had and the effect it had on me.  How did I fall for it all?  I was absolutely sick with worry and scared out of my mind.  I know I drove my friend crazy talking about it.  I'm so thankful that eventually she told me that she couldn't be a part of the conversation anymore because it was worrisome and gave me courage to eventually say the same thing to my parents. 

My "reward" for all the stress...shingles.  It all started with some severe pain in a small spot just to the right of my spine at about my bra line.  It was terrible.  I'd check it once an hour (or more) fully expecting to see a deep purple bruise.  I was certain I had to have backed into something and not remembered (which is easy for me to do, I'm constantly noticing new bruises and am left wondering how on earth I got them).  No bruise ever came and eventually little blisters did.  The morning of my birthday I spent hours researching rashes and blisters and all sorts of scary things and came to shingles.  It fit.  I sent a picture to my friend and her wonderful in-laws confirmed it.  I decided at that point to treat it holistically.  I was probably already beyond the time limit for antibiotics (which we try to use only as a LAST resort) and found that garlic would be great.  So I took a ton of garlic and endured the pain for days.  I found too that apple cider vinegar was great for the itchies.  I thought for sure it would burn, so I took my sweet time trying it out, but it didn't.  It cooled and eased the itchy sensation.  Wonderful!  My husband noticed a second patch of blisters starting to surface after several days, but the garlic knocked it out!  Amazing.  They never fully came up.  I did end up with some nasty scars, but that's ok.  At least they're on my back.

Fast forward now, 2 1/2 years later and here I find myself with that all too familiar intense pain on my back.  This time it's on my left shoulder blade near my arm and also on my left front about where the hooks of my nursing bra hit.  I noticed the pain late yesterday and within a few hours checked the mirror and saw nothing, so I cut up a garlic clove.  I used softgels last time, but I have none right now and I wanted to get started on some right away.  Plus my friend has told me MANY times how much more effective plain old garlic is.  I just have to cut the clove up very small or I choke (so pathetic!).  I took 3/4 of a clove last night (my 4yo daughter beat me to the last 1/4 and chewed it up excitedly!) and 3/4 of a clove this morning and would you believe me if I said the pain was MORE intense this morning than last night, but it is LESS intense this evening?  I don't know if I'm out of the woods yet or if I'll end up with some blisters, but this sure seems promising!  Thank you to my sweet friends who are praying for me, and to Jesus for being the ultimate healer.

And the reason for the stress this time?  I think it's sleep.  I've never been a sleep fan, always had a hard time falling asleep, and I just operate on less than most people.  But as a mommy to 4 kids I am tired a lot and I do cherish those 6ish hours each night.  I've been struggling lately though.  My 2 yo is still in bed with me (and that means no room for my husband who has made a huge sacrifice and slept on the couch since the night my labor started with our 5mo) and he likes to kick a lot and put his arms under me.  I don't want to hurt him, so I'm always waking up and pushing him back to his side, and I also don't want him to hurt the baby-or for her to roll off the bed while she's on the other side, so I sleep with my arm around her.  My hair is also driving me crazy at night too.  I roll on it and it gets pulled and wakes me up, or I'm afraid that it's on the baby and I wake up to move it.  I'd wear it up, but my scalp is so darn sensitive that that would just give me a perma-headache, plus I have dread locks and it's important that they have time to breathe so they don't get yucky.  Then there is my poor bladder that has been so abused by 4 successful pregnancies-especially the 3rd.  He just really nailed my bladder for some reason and it's never I'm up several times a night to go potty.  And of course then I have to think about my 4yo who sleeps perpendicular to my bed...well, at least that is where her mattress is, she is usually on the floor next to it, and I've almost stepped ON her head several times.  And then there is my 7yo who sleeps perpendicular to the 4yo and his allergies.  He snorts and sniffles and coughs several times a night, which also wakes me.  But this is all important stuff that is non-negotiable as far as I'm concerned.  I'm not going to boot the baby and the 2yo from my bed (though I'd be lying if I said I wasn't longing for the day that the 2yo is ready for his own bed...we've tried and he wakes up and cries for me until I let him back in bed with me), and I'm not going to boot the 4yo and 7yo from my room either.  The hair, I could always cut I suppose, but I've worked SO long to grow it out, I'd be really sad, and so would my 4yo who says that girls should have long hair.  So I need to find another way to deal with this stress, obviously.  I'm going to start reading my Bible in bed (well, ok, I'll be reading on my phone on and praying more.  I know that I can still be aware of all this stuff without letting it stress me out so badly.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A father's day wish: Dads, wake the hell up!

I've seen this posted all over Facebook and I don't really know what I think about this it yet...I guess I agree with some of it, but not all of it.
#1, I agree, expecting to take an entire day to yourself EVERY weekend is just inconsiderate and I would be upset if my husband did that. I am totally cool with him doing it once a month or so though. I want him to get that stress-free man-time in. 
#2, I think it really depends on the person. I need a LOT less sleep than my husband, so I've willingly committed to letting him sleep in on the weekend. He has no problem getting up if I need something or we need to be somewhere, but it's one way that I say "thank you" for working so hard to provide for our family. Don't get me wrong, if this wasn't an agreement between me and God, it could be very ugly and I could (and do occasionally) get upset and selfish about it. But that is how it works for us. It won't work for everyone.
#3, Again I think it depends on the family. I don't care if he doesn't change diapers. In fact, when we switched to cloth we decided I would do diaper changes from then on because pins freak him out. I'm fine with that. He will take a dirty diaper off, he will take them potty, but generally speaking, I re-diaper. This is a "me giving" not a "him refusing" thing.
#4, I think boys are boys and girls are girls. Boys don't paint their toenails at our house (except once when Little Guy was beside himself with grief when Pretty and I painted ours) and they don't wear dresses, but they CAN play with dolls no problem. My husband does have fun playing with his daughters, but he's 100% man when he does and I think that's important.
#5, I agree with. It's hard for anyone, and I'm sure all of us have room to improve on that one. I know I hate playing outside, but I've been making myself do it because it's good for the kids.
#6, Definitely. And my husband is great at it. Whether it's sending me to the craft store or mall, or letting me shower or sew. ♥
#7, I'm sure if our kids had extracurriculars they were involved in or were public schooled he'd totally do this. As it is, he does do activities with them and date nights. It's definitely a good thing.
#8, I do disagree with this one. I'm NOT changing the oil in the Suburban and I don't expect him to do the dishes or clean the bathrooms. Those are my responsibility. If he needs a dish that is dirty and I can't do it, he has no problem washing it. But as for the sink full, that's me.
#9, I don't think we've ever done. Once they're asleep, we usually let them be. But whatever, we have serious sleep issues in this house.
#10, Definitely.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Time to get my nurture on

Mondays...Mondays really have been hard lately and I don't know why.  They never used to bother me, but for whatever reason, I've realized over the last several weeks that I'm mega grumpy on Mondays.  I know my awesome husband has been praying extra for me on Mondays, and I'm so appreciative.  I think it's partly due to being with Daddy all weekend and all of us missing him when he goes back to work. 

This Monday wasn't too bad until the afternoon, and then it was just...blah.  I let it get the best of me and broke a promise to myself and didn't get the living room picked up before my husband came home from work.  My husband's job is loud and messy, and he's let me know that it's really hard to relax on his time off when the house is the same (or worse...which is very possible with several small children and a wife who struggles with the housekeeping part of being a sahm).  I have been trying to get the living room picked up before he gets home for the past few months to bless him and serve him, but Monday I didn't even try.  I just felt blah and I let it dictate my afternoon and his evening.  At bedtime, as he kicked a toy he'd just stepped on, he vented his frustration a little to me.  I failed him and I was sorry. 

Tuesday I did a much better job picking up, but Tuesday was Monday 2.0 in its own way.  Tuesday my patience appeared to be on vacation.  According to my 7 year old's dictionary, patience is "the ability to remain calm when dealing with a difficult or annoying situation, task, or person".  My 2 year old was deep into the "Terrible Two's" yesterday.  He kept hitting and laying on his older sister and me, and tried to crawl on his baby sister.  He was pushing all my buttons and he was unrelenting in it.  As much as I tried, I couldn't channel Michelle Duggar (bless her for sharing her whisper instead of yell tip...if I could just manage to successfully incorporate that).  I *should* have taken a time out, put my little guy in bed, and gone to pray, but I didn't.  Let's just say it's a wonder that I'm not hoarse today.  Not my proudest afternoon for sure.

Today is Wednesday.  It's a new day.  It's a chance to make reparations for the wrongs I've done.  It's a day to nurture.  Obviously, I plan on having the living room picked up for my awesome husband when he gets home...and hopefully the dishes too.  Everything else is pretty tidy right now.  I also plan to serve him in whatever way he needs or asks for this evening.  For the baby, there will all the usual cuddles and carrier time and some floor time play.  For my 2 year old, I've promised to go and play Thomas just as soon as I finish up here.  I also plan to tickle wrestle with him later.  When he gets rough, it seems to be his way of showing that he just needs some rough love and boyish affection, and I completely disregarded that yesterday.  He loves to just go in the bedroom on our bed and snuggle, wrestle, and tickle.  So we'll do that this afternoon sometime, probably when he starts getting grumpy and tired.  For my 4 year old, we're going to do dishes together-her new favorite way to "help" and sew some headband/scarves this afternoon.  Maybe we'll color together too.  Quality/quantity time and affection seem to be a big need for her, and I'm not good at filling it everyday.  This is an area I NEED to improve.  For my 7 year old, I plan on writing a "love" note.  He feels really special when he finds them and usually carries them around for a while or puts them on his shelf.  I also plan to ask him more about his latest Lego creation and maybe we'll read a book together later too.

I love my family and I definitely haven't done a very good job showing it this week so far.  But we are renewed each morning and I'm going to take it.  All too often in our society when we have a rough day, we're told to take a day off and focus on ourselves, do something nice for ourselves, but I'm going to focus on service today, and I KNOW I'll feel better.  I'll feel fulfilled, satisfied, renewed.

"22)The Lord's lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23)They are new every morning,
Great is Your faithfulness.
24)'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul,
'Therefore I have hope in Him'"
Lamentations 3:22-24

Monday, June 13, 2011

Yay, I'm making a healthy choice!

Yesterday I stayed out of service at church because I had a rough morning getting to church and I was late and decided not to try and find a seat somewhere.  I sat in the lobby and it actually turned out really well.  I had been wanting to talk to one of the children's pastors for a while since she is the person we're closest to at church.  She's really sweet and makes us feel so welcome, and she just baptised our 7 year old a week ago.  I also got to talk to the other children's pastor as she was walking around checking up on things.  I haven't really spent much time talking to her before and we got on the subject of my parents.  "V", the first pastor knows about my family,  but "D" doesn't.  I told her just a little about my parents, that there was emotional, mental, and verbal abuse growing up, plus some sexual abuse from my mother.  I told her how my parents hate other races and would constantly talk about black people and illegal immigrants like they aren't people and shouldn't be respected.  I explained that we tried talking to them about the matter and how we didn't want our children to grow up being taught that kind of attitude.  We make sure that our children know that ALL people are created in God's image, no matter how different we look, and that God thinks all of us are beautiful.  But my parents would have none of it.  So we took a step back out of the relationship (after asking them to go to counseling, neither of them had peachy childhoods either).  I am always anxious when talking to someone from church about it...certain that someone will tell me "well, forgive and forget"...basically "let them walk on you and treat you however they want, you know, 'honor thy father and mother'" even though I know that isn't what I should be doing.  But she didn't say any of that.  She said "well, that sounds really healthy!".  Wow.  It's so nice to have confirmation in that from someone who has spent a great deal of time studying God's word.  I DO have to take a step back and protect myself and my children.  I don't want them growing up seeing their mom be a footstool or doormat, and I certainly don't want them growing up thinking it's ok for them to be a footstool or doormat either.  I also don't want them growing up hearing the way that my parents and brother talk about different people.  God made us all equal, not one of us is elevated above the other.  If someday my parents take steps to get better mentally, then we'll see what happens, but until then, I'm going to keep protecting my family.  It's just so nice to hear that it's healthy.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Littlest Mister

So my two year old son is quite the rough and tumble boy.  And a little grumpster at heart.  We knew it right from the start, even before he was born.  Around 18w he picked a posterior (face forward instead of toward mom's back) presentation and stuck with it to the end.  His favorite activity in utero was to push one or both of his feet as far into my belly button as he could.  Thanks to him, my belly button has gone from an "outie" to a "downie" in it points downward now.  Awesome.  He's worth it though.  He further clued us in to his stubborn ways when as a baby he took his sweet time learning to laugh, and then sharing it.  The usual tricks that worked with our first two didn't always work on him, and he'd only laugh when he really felt like it.  I guess he's like me a bit in that, I don't always laugh when somethings funny...I think I'm laughing, but then my husband ends up saying "guess you had to be there" and I realize that I'm NOT laughing.
My littlest guy is a happy boy...sometimes.  But he's definitely a brooding, emotional, easily soured little guy.  We're learning how to help pull him out of his shell though.  A few days ago he was having a moment...or rather, an afternoon of stormy emotions.  I pulled him to me and planted a bunch of sloppy mommy kisses all over him.  He laughed a little and went back to brooding (a favorite code-saying of ours in reference to these moods is "oh, it looks like someone killed Little Guy's puppy again" and one of us will go off and try to cheer him up).  My husband and I have been talking a lot about helping boys be boys and what little boys are inherently drawn to and it struck me.  I pulled Little Guy to me and went to plant a kiss on him and stopped suddenly, pulled back, turned my head and exclaimed "EEEWWWWWWW!  Toddler kisses!  Yuck!" and he laughed his little monster head off.  We did that over and over and over again, probably for a full 10 minutes.  He's such a boy!  Any kind of gross noises tickle him right to his core (like when the squirrel passes gas on Phineas and Ferb).  That kind of stuff may make ME uncomfortable, but my husband is always reminding me that boys are boys, and they love that stuff.  So I'll do it for them.  Do you have a broody little one?  What do you do to cheer them up?

Friday, June 10, 2011

What a neat resource!

Faith on the Go

I got this on my Facebook feed a few days ago and I love these ideas!  We've only done one thing so far, but we're definitely going to be doing many of these.  We talked about the word patience (from #1) and the older two kids drew pictures that showed patience.  My daughter drew a picture of herself "patiently" waiting for a carrot and then wrote the word "patience" as I spelled it for her.  My son drew a picture of Thomas the train "patiently" waiting to cross a signal, and then wrote a sentence describing it.  While they did that, I held the sleeping baby and drew whatever letter my 2 year old asked me to draw.  We've been trying to talk about patience ever since, and I need to get some Bible verses for reference for them.  I think today while we run errands I'll talk to them about #11 too!  Have you done any of the activities from this?  I'd love to hear about it.

Just a little (a lot?) about me.

Welcome to my new blog! 

My name is Jennifer.  I'm a 28yo SAHM (stay-at-home-mom).  I have a wonderful husband (10 years together, 8 years married!).  He's just amazing...I don't know how to describe his awesomeness really.  But I think he should teach classes on how to be a husband because he bats it out of the park!  I'm so blessed.  We have 4 kids, a son who is almost 8, a daughter who is almost 5, a 2 1/2 year old son, and a new(ish) baby girl who is 5 months old.  We've also been through 4 miscarriages and we know that our babies are in Heaven rejoicing with Jesus.  We long for the day that we get to meet them, and so do our children.  They find it pretty exciting that they've got brothers and/or sisters in Heaven already.
I wasn't raised a Christian.  Much the opposite in fact.  We went to church occasionally as a kid to a strict church-strict but lax at the same time.  Ritual-y I guess.  I don't ever remember learning that the KEY to our salvation, our only ticket to Heaven, is a relationship with Jesus Christ, our one and only Savior.  Maybe I missed it when they talked about it.  By highschool, I had completely abandoned any thoughts of a God for this world.  I was a vegetarian (fine for some, but it created some idol worship issues for me) and I would literally read my Bible (my aunt sent me a new one every few years) and rant and rave about the animal sacrifices.  It was a huge wedge preventing a relationship with Jesus for me.  A year into our relationship, my future husband and I were talking one day when I got word that a friend of mine had decided to be an athiest like me.  I felt victorious, like I'd won someone over finally.  I was really excited and told him so.  The way he looked at me cut completely through me.  I knew then that I had a real chance to lose him.  I was terrified, he was the BEST thing that had happened to me.  For the first time in my life, I was willing to listen to the truth about Jesus, and I did.  He witnessed, and I confessed.  It was like a veil was lifted from my eyes and I could finally see the TRUTH.  I had been witnessed to so many times before, but it fell on deaf ears.  I wasn't interested.  I wish I could say that getting saved changed my life immediately, but it was a slow journey.  I was locked into some really scary OCD/fear/anxiety issues at that time, but with the Lord's help I really worked through them and gave up a lot of my issues.  It's always awesome to improve your mental health, and I was so grateful.
My awesome guy and I grew closer together, and we got married a little over a year after that.  Unfortnuately, like I said, we weren't closely following the Lord and didn't experience an immediate transformation into...perfection (but who does?) and we conceived our oldest child 4 1/2 months before the wedding.  It's always *fun* when people figure that out, so it's just best to throw it out there and avoid the looks while they try to count out the months.  It's a blessing in disguise I suppose because it gives us a "hey, we did this and we want BETTER for your lives" conversation starter for when it comes time to talk the talk with the kids.
Besides being picked by this amazing guy to share his life and love forever, being a mom is the best thing ever!  These kids teach me lessons on a daily basis, and being a parent has taught me so much about Jesus and how He cares for us.  We made the decision right away that I would be a SAHM and have been so blessed in that respect.  It was extremely tight for the first few years...I can still hear those pennies squeal, but it was so worth it.  We're just now getting the ball rolling on buying a house in the next year or so.  Our vehicles are both almost 20 years old, but that's all worth it to me!  I've not missed out on any of my kids''s a worthy trade-off for sure.

I wanted to make this blog because I guess I've had it "up to here" with how relationships are portrayed on tv and movies and all over.  Men are constantly beaten up by their "ball-busting" wives, disrespected, put down, and treated like idiots.  Women "wear the pants" in the family and are in charge of everything.  They can "take care of themselves" and don't need a man to help them with anything.  They seem to almost always work through their mothering years, putting their kids in daycare or hiring a nanny, I know that's exactly what happened in my house growing up.  I just don't feel like the rest of us, those of us who submit willingly and lovingly to our husbands and who willingly and lovingly stay home to raise our kids ourselves are being represented.  I want to encourage the women out there who aren't sure and reaffirm the women out there who already live this lifestyle.  It can be lonely sometimes when everyone around you looks down on your family for living the "old-fashioned" way.

Please don't take me the wrong way and think that I'm going to be preaching at you from my pedestal.  I am so far from perfect, it's not even funny (though I do wonder if sometimes in my stupidity if I make God laugh).  It's a that we can't finish until Jesus comes to take us all.  We'll never be perfect here in this life, but that doesn't mean that we can't make a conscious effort to try our hardest everyday.  Even if all we've done is wrong and awful all day (any other moms feel like that sometimes?  Raise your hand if you struggle with yelling or being too hard or soft on your kids), we can still do some good.  If your kids are in bed, write them a love note (or draw a picture for the non-readers) and leave it where they can find it in the morning.  Apologize as soon as you can and use the opportunity to talk about how we are all imperfect sinners and that Jesus loves us anyway.  I hope that this blog will be encouragement to someone.