Thanksgiving 2016

1 Dec

For Thanksgiving this year, we both traveled and stayed home, which is a new thing for us. We went up to Travis’ parents’ house in Nevis on Thursday morning. My dad and brother Brian met us up there a little later, and the whole gang on Travis’ side was there. We ate Thanksgiving dinner around 4, hoping to time it for when the girls were napping so we could actually eat and enjoy it. Things were looking good but as we were going around the table saying what we were thankful for, I heard Emma yell, “Mommy!” from upstairs, and Annabelle was standing right beside her. But it all worked out (for me anyway, as both girls wanted to sit with a grandparent instead of me). 

After dinner, we talked, played a little Catch Phrase, and ate pie. I made two pumpkin pies, both of which bore the marks of being tasted by a certain little girl. We headed back to our house around 8:30 with my dad and brother. 

Friday, we bummed around in our pajamas the whole morning, doing some online shopping and eating French toast and sausage. Travis went out to set deer blinds during naptime. Annabelle took an early nap and was up before 2, so we had Emma skip her nap. Once Travis got back, we headed up to Nisswa for their City of Lights festival. I had never been since we’ve been out of town on Black Friday since moving back. 

It was fun, but chaotic with a child as young as Annabelle who won’t ride in a stroller. The main area of the event is on Main Street and it was still open to traffic so we couldn’t just let Annabelle walk around. Even Emma we had to keep close tabs on (it would just be less stressful if you didn’t have to watch for cars).  

We bought some hot chocolate (not knowing they were giving it out for free at the other end of town) and walked around a bit. We pet reindeer, walked through the luminary path and the Polar Express train car, watched a live nativity, and learned some history about the area in Pioneer Village. And we finally found the free cider and mini donuts. After that, we were out of things to do and cold, so my dad and brother went to pick up pizza while we headed home. Emma crashed and went straight to bed. Annabelle wasn’t far behind. The pizza was delicious after being outside. 

Brian headed to the MSP airport that night to pick up his wife, Jill, but my dad stayed the whole weekend until Sunday afternoon. 

Saturday, Travis went hunting in the morning, and my dad and I took the girls to 321 Bounce (a bouncy house place for kids) to burn off some energy. Then it was home for lunch and naps. Travis came home briefly for lunch, then headed back out hunting for a few hours. I made chili for dinner, and we had a relaxed (at least, as relaxed as it gets with young kids) evening at home. 

Sunday, we went to the early church service (Annabelle made it through without a meltdown in the nursery!), attempted to hang up Travis’ second elk head mount (but the hanger we bought from the taxidermist was awful), ate lunch, the girls napped, and then it was time for my dad to head home. 

Both Emma and Annabelle have really grown to love my dad, and that is so fun to see. Emma asked to have Papa put her down for a nap or bed several times, and Annabelle often prefers to cuddle with Papa instead of with me. Melts my heart. 

Thankful Even When It’s Hard

24 Nov

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” – Psalm 50:23

All your feeds today will be full of messages of thanksgiving–how blessed we are, how much we’ve been given, etc. All of which is true. But a lot of people are also weeping this Thanksgiving, dealing with hard things, and don’t feel like giving thanks. Maybe they’re dealing with something big, like a loved one’s death; with chronic frustrations, like their child’s consistent willful defiance; or their own suffering, emotional or physical. 

That’s me. This is the first Thanksgiving without my mom. And my day today began with Emma unleashing some of her biggest tantrums to date for a good 45 minutes. 

As we drive to my in-laws’ house, I don’t feel thankful. I feel down-trodden, discouraged, and just plain sad. But then Psalm 50:23 came to mind: “Offer God a sacrifice of thanksgiving.” And that reminds me: we don’t offer God thanks simply because we look around at our life and agree that it’s everything we’ve asked for. We don’t primarily give thanks because we’ve been blessed with family or food or a home. Rather, we give thanks to God because HE IS WORTHY of our thanks. And because no matter what we have or don’t have, no matter what we’re going through here on earth, we have a Savior and a guaranteed future in heaven with Jesus. That is why we can give thanks in all circumstances: because wherever we are, we always get God. 

So let’s glorify Him with thanksgiving, today and every day, for the good and the hard. 

Loved in Christ: A Response to Two Bestsellers

22 Nov

wintersceneI’ve  been on reading kick lately. Whether it’s because I’ve watched all the episodes of my favorite shows on Netflix (single tear) or because I’ve serendipitously chosen books that have been absolutely fascinating to me, I’ve been spending almost all my free time during naps and before bed reading.

Two of the books I’ve read are Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton and Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. I found both books to be well-written and page-turners. I finished Love Warrior in less than a week and Present Over Perfect in just two days.

My reasons for choosing each book were different. Several years ago, I was following Glennon’s blog when her and her husband separated due to issues she was not discussing at the time. There was talk of divorce, so I stopped following her blog because it made me uncomfortable. A year or so later, I heard that they had actually not gotten divorced—they were going to counseling and working through things. Which intrigued me because reconciliation seems to be so rare in our culture. I started reading her blog again, which is where I heard about her forthcoming book Love Warrior. I preordered an autographed edition.

This book has gone on to become a New York Times bestseller and was chosen by Oprah for her book club. To that, I say: Of course it did, both seriously and sarcastically. I’ll explain my sarcastic response in a bit, but I seriously think that Glennon is an awesome writer and I truly LOVED her book. She perceives the world in a completely different way than I do, so I’ve always found her writing and perspective refreshing and challenging.

My biggest takeaway from her book (among many) was that if I want to be truly known, I have to LET MYSELF BE KNOWN.

It seems so simple and DUH that as I read her book, I wondered, “Why is it so hard to just tell the truth about who we are, about what we’re thinking and feeling and needing? Why can’t we just let ourselves be known?”

Because we are complex beings and we live in a fallen world.

Because we’ve been told lies by Satan and our culture.

Because we’ve had experiences of people rejecting and misusing what they know about us.

So we hide. We lie. We misdirect. We pretend.

This insight has shed new light on conflict in my marriage. One Saturday, we were down at my dad’s cabin helping him do some yardwork—meaning I was watching the girls while Travis was helping my dad do yardwork. We had decided to buy my old Ford Focus back from Travis’ brother and Travis said he was thinking about driving down to a town halfway between the cabin and the Cities to meet up with Matthew and get the car. He asked me if that was ok, or if I wanted him to do it later.

Inside, I was screaming, “NOOOOO!!!! IT IS NOT OKAY!!!!! I am with the girls ALL ALONE every single day of the week and now you want to leave me all alone AGAIN to go get a stupid car that I don’t even want to buy? YOU CANNOT LEAVE ME HERE!”

But instead of telling the truth, I said in a disgusted tone, “Whatever, do what you want.”

I started walking away and then remembered the truth that if I want to be known, I have to let myself be known. So I turned back and said, “Actually, could you do it later instead of right now?” Travis was totally fine with that, and it actually ended up being better, because Matthew brought the car up to our house on deer hunting weekend instead.

Another similar instance happened more recently, though in my frazzled mommy brain I cannot for the life of me remember what it was. What I do know is, it reinforced that, similar to how Glennon talks about the expectations and lies women have been fed by culture about how we’re supposed to act and be, I had been believing the lie that I am not supposed to be needy, particular, or demanding. I am supposed to go along with whatever. Don’t cause a stir. Don’t be a b!tch.

But because I wasn’t honest, Travis didn’t know how I really felt. Because he didn’t know how I really felt, I was hurt and bitter. How many times have I lied (badly) about my feelings in a certain situation, Travis goes off to do what he thinks I’ve agreed to (though it was a lie), and I get mad at him because I didn’t really want him to do it? By not being honest, I was actually causing more drama and neediness in my marriage than if I had just told the truth at the outset! So this idea of letting myself be known is truly transforming my marriage.

I LOVE it when a book rocks my world.

That’s why I found Present Over Perfect to be just okay. Shauna is a good writer (though I find her essay-style chapters sometimes confusing) but her book echoed many thoughts I’ve already had about being who God created me to be and pursuing a slower pace of life focused on connecting with people, thoughts like: “The crucial journey, then, for me, has been from dependence on external expectations, down into my own self, deeper still into God’s view of me, his love for me that doesn’t change, that will not change, that defines and grounds everything.”

But then I read this: “It is only when you understand God’s truly unconditional love that you begin to understand the worth of your own soul—not because of anything you’ve done, but because every soul is worthy, every one of us is worthy of love, having been created by and in the image of the God of love.”

Reading that, my jaw dropped.

No. she. didn’t.

As I read the first part of that sentence, I was thinking, “Oh, here it comes—a mention of the gospel, finally. A mention of how God’s unconditional love for us was BOUGHT by Christ’s BLOOD on the CROSS.” And she was leading right into with “not because of anything you’ve done”, a completely perfect place to say “but because of what Jesus has done on your behalf.” But NO, instead she goes into some mumbo jumbo about every soul being worthy. Are you kidding me?!?!

Yes, we have all been created in the image of God, and for that reason, are all equally valuable humans. But without Christ, we’re all also equally going to hell, regardless of how worthy we see our souls. Maybe I had too high of expectations for Shauna’s book, or maybe I expected more out of her since she’s Bill Hybels’ daughter and her book was published by Zondervan. But I’m sorry… just. NO.

I have the same beef with Glennon’s book, but at least with her, I already knew that her beliefs are liberal to the point of maybe not being completely biblical, so I filter everything she says anyway. This was one of my favorite quotes: “Our only hope to be fully human together is to first insist upon our right to be fully human before God. And it will only be the acceptance that I am already loved perfectly by God that will let me forgive Craig and those women for loving so imperfectly.” But even that quote is not without issues.

The problem I have with these sentences, and the ideas they’re communicating, and the books they are from in general, is the same that I have with a lot of Christian thoughts and sermons these days: it’s not they’re wrong or unbiblical per se; it’s that they don’t go far enough. We have to go all the way to the cross, to the historical event that single-handedly procured our acceptance by God and intimate relationship with Him. Without the cross, we are cut off from God. Without the cross, it is not a good thing to be fully human before God. Because our fallen humanity is JUDGED by God, and our sin demands payment—an eternity in hell. Ephesians 2:1-9 says that before we were believers in Christ, we were by nature children of wrath. Whose wrath? GOD’S WRATH.

And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is why these books are so appealing to people across the board, Christians and non-Christians alike. We’d prefer to not hear about hell, sin, blood, crucifixion. We want God’s unconditional love, because we were created to want it, thrive in it, be transformed by it. But we want it without the messiness of Jesus, without the implications of our sinfulness that come from Jesus’ hands and feet being pierced with nails. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

God’s unconditional love is not good news because it allows us to look at ourselves and say, “I’m worthy. I’m lovable.” It’s good news because it allows us to honestly look at ourselves and say, “I’m not worthy of God’s love. I’m not lovable a lot of the time. BUT GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY. And He proved it, and procured it, through Jesus’ death and resurrection.”

Which love is greater: loving someone who is lovable and always lovely to you, or loving someone who is unlovely and shuns you? God’s love is greater. He loves the UNLOVABLE. He loves the UNWORTHY. The Unlovable and the Unworthy are YOU and ME. This is the GOOD NEWS! He takes the NOTHING we have to offer and turns it into ENOUGH in His infinite measure of sufficiency.

First Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” The power of God is the word of the cross. Strip Christianity of the cross of Christ and the power of God goes with it. True Christianity is not moralism. It is not just a better way to live life on this earth. It is not just loving those around us. It is “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). Christianity begins and ends at the Cross. God’s unconditional love for us is true ONLY BECAUSE Jesus died on the cross and rose again. Not because our souls are worthy, but because HE is worthy.

And that is why we can let ourselves be known, even in this harsh and cruel world: because we are already fully known by God and fully approved by Him. But let us not forget that that approval is only the result of our being clothed in Christ’s righteousness. He gets the glory; we get the joy.

Emma Grace: 3.5 Years

17 Nov

Emma was 3 ½ years old on October 7, so I’m a liiiiitttttle behind on this update. How is Thanksgiving only a week away?!?!

img_1821img_1811Since my last update on Emma, she has not slowed down one bit. In fact, now that Annabelle is cruising around and causing trouble, the two feed off of each other and create even more and bigger messes and disasters than either one would do on their own. Or Emma will do things that she knows she shouldn’t, just because Annabelle is doing them (and is too young to know better). Thankfully their shenanigans have not yet destroyed anything valuable or ended in serious injury.

We like to say that Emma is 3 going on 13 because she has taken to growling when she gets frustrated (gee… I wonder where she learned that, mom?), frequently stomping off to her room while yelling “Leave me alone!”, and slamming her bedroom door. {insert Facebook Wow emoji here}

img_20160824_104737-largeThis girl seriously gives me a run for my money, and pushes my buttons. Oh man, I could tell you stories… and maybe I will one day. I’ve been working on a post about dealing with anger—MY OWN—in motherhood for almost a whole year now, but I haven’t published it because there’s no conclusion. I’m STILL struggling with it, yo!

Emma is just an extremely strong-willed, particular, won’t-back-down-for-nothing child, who will defy me while looking me straight in the eye. I’ve come to understand, though, that she does this for the exact same reason I am often strong-willed and defiant: she thinks her ideas are better than mine, and that she’s right. A chip off the old block, right there. It’s extremely humbling (and scary) when you see that your child inherited your personality, and is also learning your bad habits of dealing with that personality.

img_20160801_125539-largeThank God for His grace and the truth that “Love covers a multitude of sins.” I’ve started praying that even if I don’t stop messing up and doing things I later regret in regards to relating to and disciplining Emma, that at least God will continue to give me a soft enough heart to repent and apologize to her. It’s a daily occurrence in this household. Man, parenting is haaaarrrddd.

But I do love this girl. She has a big heart, and just the other day, when we went and played with friends at the new mall play area, Emma asked for a snack, but then shared most of it with her friends. She’s also hilarious, and thinks of the craziest things to do and say. She has a great imagination, and has started to play by herself in her room quite often, because she knows that if she is anywhere Annabelle can reach her, it’s game over for playing with anything in a particular way (Annabelle is the new Destructobaby). I do often remind her that it’s more fun to play with other kids than by herself, even if they don’t play how she wants them to.

img_1757-largeOverall though, Emma and Annabelle get along really well, and most days they are like two peas in a pod. They both seem to have very similar personalities (in that they’re both CRAZY!) and can often be found running circles around our couches, giggling in the pitch-dark bathroom doing God-knows-what, and making disasters out of books, water, toilet paper, markers, you name it whenever Mommy has been distracted for too long.img_1811-largeimg_1785-largeimg_1835-large

img_1754-largeSpeaking of destruction, Emma has recently gone through a book/paper ripping phase. We were at a loss for how to handle this type of destruction (since I refuse to put all books away or out of her reach). But after several instances of surprisingly intentional destruction (meaning she ripped A LOT of pages), we explained to her that she was no longer allowed to rip anything, under any circumstances, ever again. And if she did rip something, she would get a spanking.

After we explained that, she did rip a few more things (and received a detailed explanation of her disobedience and resulting discipline), but she hasn’t ripped anything since then—and that was about 3 weeks ago. She has mentioned a few times, and I have seen her do so, that she exercised restraint in not ripping something, and I have praised her for going so long without ripping anything. Maybe after a month of no ripping, we’ll take her out to China Buffet (her favorite restaurant) to celebrate.

img_20160922_131613-largeSince the beginning of September, we have tried to do some preschool activities at home (testing out the waters of homeschooling) but so far, it’s been kind of a flop. Emma was excited the first couple weeks, and still asks to “do school” on a semi-regular basis, but never wants to do what I suggest. She mostly just wants to color and maybe trace some letters. I tried telling her about Christopher Columbus while she was coloring a picture on Columbus Day, but she just kept interrupting me and saying “Mommy, stop talking. Mommy, stop talking.” So, we’re leaning toward NO on the homeschooling.

img_20160907_091425-largeAnd I shouldn’t forget an update on potty training… Ugh, potty training. Emma is mostly potty trained during the day, though she has been having a few accidents lately because she just waits too long to head to the toilet. She’s still pooping in a diaper. She pooped on the toilet a handful of times a few months ago but then got constipated and it was downhill from there. And she still wears a diaper to bed. I was feeling pretty discouraged about the whole situation but recently we decided to have her wear undies during her nap, even if there was a chance she’d wet the bed. But she’s only wet the bed once in a couple of weeks. So that encourages me that she’ll get there. I just don’t want this to turn into a daily battle. She really dislikes me wiping her after a poopy diaper though, so hopefully that will convince her to start pooping on the potty again.

20160921_104042-largeSome of Emma’s other favorite things at 3.5 years are:

  • iPad and movies—Of course!
  • Candy and ice cream – This may be her nightly bedtime snack…20160911_115349-large
  • Rock-a-baby in the chair—I rock her to sleep in the glider in her room fairly often, mostly for naps, but we rock a little before bedtime too when I’m the one doing her bedtime routine.
  • Jesus on the cross—Emma has really started to understand stories about Jesus, and loves to point out when she sees something making the shape of the cross. She also loves to hear songs about Jesus, and has started to really enjoy being in the church service with us (and behaves pretty well now too).
  • Dresses and flip-flops—This poor girl is in denial that winter is coming (and frankly, should already be here by Minnesota standards). She frequently doesn’t want to wear pants or a jacket, and almost always doesn’t want to wear shoes. Then she complains about being cold.img_20160801_115416-large
  • Getting dirty and wet—Emma still has a thing for dirt and water. She has loved playing in the leaves this fall (and we had TONS of them!) and on a few of these above-average-temperature days, we’ve had the water table out because both Emma and Annabelle just can’t get enough. One time at the beach this summer, Emma literally army crawled through the sand to the water. She was covered head to toe in sand.img_1599-largeimg_1269-large20160803_113747-largeimg_20160731_194850-large
  • Baths—When we say it’s bath time, both girls make a beeline to the bathroom. Emma usually starts the water and plugs the drain before we even get in there—and she even gets it the right temperature and everything now! *sniff* She’s getting so old.
  • Dance class—We put Emma in a 30-minute ballet class this fall, and so far she really enjoys it. She’s not always the best listener, and sometimes is pouty and refuses to do the moves the teacher’s doing, but overall, she’s doing well. Funny story: her very first class, Emma showed up straight from the daycare playground wearing pants and a t-shirt, with dirty feet, woodchips stuck to her pants and a band-aid on her head, while all the other girls were wearing cute ballet outfits. The teacher said Emma could wear whatever she wanted and didn’t need shoes, but after that first class, we bought her a leotard and ballet shoes.
  • Popcorn—Since both Emma and Annabelle go to bed around 9 pm, one of our near-nightly rituals is making popcorn after bath time and watching a show together. The girls really love popcorn, and Emma loves to help with measuring out the kernels, pouring them in, and plugging the popper in (with supervision).img_1656-large
  • The Striped Dress—Emma’s favorite dress of all time, only to be rivaled by her white Christmas dress from 2014 that she wore for a whole year until it literally didn’t fit her anymore, is a striped maxi dress we bought from Target this summer. She almost always wants to wear that dress, and I think I’m going to have to hide it when it does get cold outside so that’s she forced to wear all her winter clothes, instead of the same old threadbare, faded summer dress. Kids, I tell ya!20160803_132448-large
  • Elsa—Emma got a 16” Elsa doll from her aunt and cousin last Christmas, and LOVES that thing. We ended up buying Annabelle the Anna doll because they had started fighting over Elsa. Emma had been completely attached to a baby doll but Elsa usurped the #1 spot. Emma still likes her baby doll, though, and also likes a small 6” doll we bought Annabelle for her 1st Annabelle doesn’t play with dolls much yet, so she doesn’t care that Emma plays with “her stuff” but there will come a day…img_1774-large
  • Coloring—For the past month or two, Emma has been on a coloring/writing kick. She has learned how to write her name and loves to practice writing other letters too, though she gets discouraged quickly by the ones she finds difficult. She also enjoys “coloring pictures” (usually she means drawing freehand) for other people, and we often color pictures together. Annabelle likes to be near the action, but mostly likes to throw the colored pencils on the floor and uncap the markers.20160820_121429-large
  • Sleeping in her closet—We bought Emma a bed canopy and have it hung up in her closet so she likes to sleep in there quite a bit. And not just that, but she closes the door! This girl is not afraid of the dark at all.img_20160824_164232-large

And that’s Emma at 3.5 years!img_20160829_121553-large20160913_111857-large20160911_112258-large

A Response to the 2016 Election

9 Nov

“The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will.” (Proverbs 21:1)

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come.” (Proverbs 31:25)

These are the verses that come to mind this post-election morning. God is BIG–BIGGER than this and He can use Trump to bless our country if He sees fit. So let’s pray hard that He would do just that. That Trump would rise to the occasion, put behind his childish and selfish ways, and that his presidency would be a surprise in a good way. 

If you say “HA, there’s no way he will!” I say “Well then what’s the alternative response? To seethe with anger and bitterness for the next 4 years? To wait hopefully for each blunder Trump will make in order to gloat ‘See, this is why I didn’t vote for him!'”

No, regardless of who you voted for, the way to respond to this election result is the same way we respond to anything that happens in life: we accept it from God’s hand. We humbly submit our lives, and in this case our country, to Him, with the knowledge that “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:12)

And then we pray. We pray hard. We plead, beg God to help this nation change for the better, even perhaps despite who’s in charge. We CAN make America great again but it will be by being people sold out for God in Jesus’ name, full of love, compassion, and a willingness to work alongside those who do not share our beliefs or lifestyles. It will be by being bold in our proclamation of the gospel of salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. It will be by laying down our own agendas, conveniences, and desires, and taking up Christ’s. What does that practically mean? It’ll look different for everyone, but like I’ve said before, we will be all united under the banner of

SATISFIED IN GOD ALONE.

We cannot change reality, we can only respond to it. Let’s make our response one that shows how BIG God is and how much we are ultimately trusting in Him to guide and protect our nation. 

Annabelle Lyn: 18-19 Months

1 Nov

Annabelle is already over 19 months old! She was 18 months on September 27 and 19 months on October 27. It’s hard to believe that when Emma was Annabelle’s age, I was already pregnant with Annabelle. She’s growing up so fast!img_1998Size

At Annabelle’s 18-month well-child check, she weighed 23 lbs 1 oz (54%), was 32.5 inches tall (68%), and had a head circumference of 19.78 inches (99.8%). This girl is setting the curve for head size.😉

Annabelle is still wearing size 4 diapers and mostly 18-24 months/2T clothes. She has gone up in shoe size from size 4 to size 5—tiny little feet just like Emma had (which is nice because she can wear all of Emma’s old shoes…at least, the ones she didn’t destroy).img_1481Eating

Annabelle is still a pretty picky eater. The foods she likes to eat consistently are dairy and fruit, which is unfortunate because we discovered that she is most likely lactose intolerant. She had been having trouble with diarrhea and pooping 5-6 times a day, so I asked her doctor about it and she suggested limited her dairy to see if that would help. We stopped giving her any dairy except some hard/sharp cheese, and her poop has changed to be what we would expect. She was never a big fan of cow’s milk, so that won’t be a hard switch, but she loves yogurt and cheese. I’ve started buying Silk yogurt (which is actually pretty tasty) and Ripple milk for her, and being selective about which cheese we give her (apparently the harder and sharper ones have less lactose). Not a huge deal compared to other kids’ allergies, just something to get used to.20160914_141849Annabelle’s other favorite foods are bacon, banana, blueberries, applesauce, peanut butter on a spoon, honey, cereal, apple slices, edamame, suckers, and chocolate. There are other foods she will eat too, but they’re more hit and miss.

I think Annabelle is starting to get her 2-year molars because she’s frequently chewing on her whole hand recently, or sticking her fingers into the back of her mouth.img_20160922_162100Sleeping

Annabelle has been doing about the same in the sleep department as a few months ago. She will sleep through the night about 40-50% of the time; the other nights, she wakes up between 1 and 3 am, and I go sleep in her room on the floor with her.img_1302She is nursing to sleep less often than before–which is good, considering I want to wean her any day now, but hard because it means she cries in her crib before falling asleep more often. I just hate that! I will try rocking and nursing to get her to sleep, but sometimes she just isn’t having it, so crying it out it is. I remember Emma getting to a point like that too around this age. I know it’s a good thing for them to learn, I just wish it didn’t involve so much crying.

Anyway… Annabelle is still taking one nap a day, usually from about 1 to 3:30.img_1070Development

Once Annabelle learned how to walk, she took off and she is now getting into anything and everything. Put Emma and Annabelle together, and they come with some real hairbrained schemes, which usually result in the destruction of something. Annabelle has also learned how to retaliate against Emma, and push her buttons. Emma will be playing with something, and Annabelle will run over to either quick grab one of Emma’s things or scratch her arm, and then quick dart away. Emma has met her match.🙂img_1490Annabelle’s favorite things to do the past two months have been:

  • Sit like a big girl at the dining room table (no more highchair for this girl!), on the couch, in recliners, on the piano bench, and in the big part of the shopping cartimg_20160903_174259img_20160922_084959
  • Run around screaming with Emmaimg_1444
  • Play with Emma’s fishing rod outside (almost every time we go outside, she asks for it by pointing and whining)img_1313
  • Pushing strollers, carts, trucks, etc. – she’d rather push them than ride in themimg_20160906_135151
  • Destroying things – knocking blocks over, ripping paper, throwing bowls out of a drawer, taking all the caps off markers and abandoning them, throwing crayons around, etc.
  • Playing with water – mostly in the kitchen sink and outside – all she wants is several vessels for containing water that she can fill up and use to pour water from one thing to anotherimg_1211
  • Rough-housing – Annabelle actually likes to be thrown up into the air (only when Travis is sitting down though, not when he’s standing up), body-slammed on the bed, steamrolled on the floor, held upside down, flipped over, spun in a chair, etc. There’s really not much you can do to Annabelle that she doesn’t like. She might have a look of fear on her face while you’re doing it, but afterward she gets a big grin on her face and whines for more.20160912_123148
  • Copying Emma—It is truly amazing how many things Annabelle picks up and copies from Emma. Emma sometimes gets upset that Annabelle follows her around so much and always wants to be doing what she’s doing, which is understandable, but it really is so cute. We tell Emma that Annabelle just loves her and wants to be like her.
  • Sitting on the kitchen counter—Annabelle always wants to be where the action is. Obviously, we only let her do this when we’re able to sit right there and watch her.img_1330
  • iPad—Annabelle and Emma have started fighting over who gets to use/watch the iPad. I don’t think Annabelle really has that big of an interest in the iPad for what it is, just that she sees Emma using it quite a bit and wants to be like Big Sister.img_1296

As far as talking goes, Annabelle usually defaults to whining to get what she wants instead of talking. We’re trying to encourage her to use words like “water” when she wants a drink and “more” or “please” when she wants something to eat. She has learned the sign for “please” so she does use that a fair amount when prompted—it comes out as “eeees” with her arm moving back and forth. She also says “eese” (Cheese) often when we’re taking a picture of her. So cute! She has started saying Mama again (yay!), and can also say Emma, Dada, Doggy, Nana (banana), and Wawa (water). She uses several variations of Dah Dah to communicate a number of things. She has said other words, but they’re rare.20160921_110554

img_101120160913_11311620160911_11343920160913_11450420160911_11543720160912_09275320160912_115707And that’s Annabelle at 19 months!

2 Ways to Take Back Your Day Without a Schedule

17 Oct

takebackyourdayA year ago, I went to a conference for moms in Rochester called Hearts at Home. It was awesome, and I took away a lot of thoughts, but one of the biggest was the idea that I needed to get our family life on a schedule. Staying home full-time with a 2.5-year-old and a 6-month-old meant that our days were big on crazy and low on sanity. I thought getting on a schedule would help some at least some of my woes.

The only problem was that I’m a spontaneous person. I can’t commit to the same schedule day after day, week after week. I like change! I like doing things differently! I like lazy mornings some days, and a fresh shower and dressier clothes other mornings. I like having the girls take a bath at night some days, and during the day other days.

Emma (now 3.5) is a wild card like this too. I tried and tried to get her to be more predictable and routined as a baby, but she wasn’t having it. It wasn’t until she was over 2 years that her naps finally became a consistent 2.5-3 hours long. Before that, she’d nap anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours. Drove me crazy! To cope, I stopped having any plans of what I would accomplish during naptime because then I didn’t get frustrated if her nap was too short.

Annabelle (now 18 months) was a lot more predictable as a baby than Emma was. She actually put herself on a schedule! Some babies are just like that. We were so thankful that it seemed we had gotten a mellow baby to balance out our first-born spitfire. Then Annabelle learned to walk and WOW, she has even more energy and chutzpah than her sister did at this age. She’s a climber, and doesn’t take No for an answer without a fight.

My desire to take a crack at homeschool preschool this year with Emma inspired another attempt at implementing a daily schedule/routine. An attempt that also failed almost before it began. Which got me thinking… do I really NEED a schedule?

I had several things that I wanted to change about the way things ran in my house as a full-time, stay-at-home mom, that I thought having a schedule or routine would address. I wanted to be more intentional with how I spent my time–my time with the girls and my alone time. I wanted to stay caught on cleaning, laundry, meal planning, grocery shopping better, instead of waiting for bathrooms to reach an unprecedented ICK factor and the refrigerator to contain nothing but olives and maple syrup. I also thought that being on a schedule is what successful, got-it-together moms do.

But you know what? There’s more than one “right” way to do things. The real question is, is the way we’re doing things right now working for our family? The answer to that is Yes. Things aren’t as tidy or clean or straightforward as they would be if I were more disciplined in the Art of Structure, but I’d be constantly fighting an uphill battle against my spontaneous personality–and for what? Part of the benefit of being at home full-time is the flexibility and relaxed pace of life!

That said, I have noticed that there are two things that I not only enjoy doing, but that truly promote the goals I had with a schedule. Those are:

1. Get up before the kids.

When Annabelle regressed to waking up 1-2 times a night around 6 months (and ever since), I stopped feeling like a morning person. I was a zombie until at least 10 am and two cups of coffee. But for the past couple of months, I have been forcing myself to get up around 6 am anyway because I know that it is SO worth it. My day goes so much better when I’ve had time to drink some coffee and think some thoughts before kids start screaming, whining, and demanding cereal.

I also have more energy for Bible study, blog posts, and pretty much everything in the morning. By naptime, my energy is at about half-power (and I often take a nap with the kids if it works out), and after putting the kids to bed, I only have the energy for zoning out with Netflix, or talking to Travis. So the morning is my time to “get er done.”

2. Don’t get distracted by projects or technology.

I am notorious for thinking, “Oh the girls are playing so well together right now. I’ll just spend a few minutes tidying/organizing/sorting/assembling this thing over here.” ::45 minutes later:: “Mommy’s almost done! Then we’ll go outside!” I say as both kids are crying because they’ve started hitting one another out of boredom and their need for attention.

I’m also notorious for picking my phone up to text someone about something timely or important. ::45 minutes later, emerging from the Facebook and Instagram vortex:: “Mommy just has to text my friend about getting together tomorrow. Then we’ll go outside!”

I’m learning that even though organizing and tidying are good and necessary, and Facebook and Instagram are fine when used wisely, there’s a time and a place. Trying to do those things while the girls are awake almost always spells disaster…or at least a house that’s a disaster because the girls tore it apart while I was distracted.

What this one really comes down to is discipline and trusting God: discipline to wrangle my spontaneous and time-sucking habits into spending my time intentionally and wisely; and trusting God that when I prioritize what He prioritizes, I get joy and He gets glory. Even if that means I get nothing done but spending time with my girls because they were clingy. Even if that means I forego dishes and laundry to spend time reading the Bible. Even if that means I hardly ever blog anymore because I’m reading books about parenting instead (this is true).

Doing these two things gives me the foundation for the day that I need to manage the chaos and challenges of being home full-time with two young kids… without being on a schedule!