Archive | February, 2015

Learning to Handle Sleep Deprivation Graciously

23 Feb

As my due date approaches, I feel like I’m staring down the barrel of a gun. Whenever Emma has a few bad nights of sleep or takes a few short naps, I’m quickly reminded of how horrible sleep deprivation is – and how horribly I deal with it.

I’m panicking just a little thinking about taking care of both a newborn and a toddler, especially when Travis is traveling for work. WHEN WILL I EVER SLEEP?!?!

I want to learn how to deal with sleep deprivation in a gracious, accepting way. But that would require me to be gracious and accept it. And that’s exactly what I can’t get myself to do.

Instead, I slide quickly down into the pit of self-pity and anger. I find myself countering the misery of a too-short nap with sweets and impulse eating. I let Emma get away with stuff I normally wouldn’t because I don’t care enough to fight her on it (hello fruit snacks for breakfast). Or I snap at her for little things because I don’t have “the patience to deal with this.” I don’t spend time in the Word because I’m either too tired to concentrate or I’m attempting to not be a complete and utter zombie by using the time to sleep – and that lack of time shows in my attitude.

From there, the self-pity deepens into: I don’t have time or energy to exercise. I don’t have energy to clean my house. I resent having to make dinner (almost) every night. I feel guilty for not planning fun and creative activities with Emma. I silently mock Travis for mentioning anything about being tired – like he even has a CLUE.

Some parents seem to handle being sleep deprived rather well. They continue functioning and enjoying life. I go into self-destruct, wallow mode. I go into THE WORLD COULD BE ENDING BUT I’M SO EXHAUSTED I WOULDN’T EVEN CARE mode.

I know that to handle sleep deprivation well, I have to stop demanding to NOT be sleep deprived. I have to accept it as a fact of life with a toddler and soon, a newborn. I have to stop digging in my heels and throwing a mental tantrum over the fact that I was up every 3 hours during the night, and my toddler did not take a nap like I expected her to, and she got up after ‘resting’ with 0-to-60 energy while I can barely hold an eye open as I stumble to the pantry for some chocolate.

It is times like these that I am forced to think out the full implications of my faith in God. If I truly believe that He provides ALL the grace I need in EVERY circumstance, He’s providing sufficient grace right now. Even though it REALLY doesn’t feel like it. Because I’d prefer His grace come in the form of some shuteye.

And you know, sometimes it does. But if it doesn’t (and it often doesn’t), what am I going to do about it? What happens when God’s grace comes to us in a form OTHER than what we’re yearning for? Thinking bigger than sleep, what happens when God DOESN’T heal us of cancer? What happens when God DOESN’T provide the answer we prayed for? What happens when God doesn’t take away the dirty mess of life, the pain, the sorrow, the frustration, the challenge? Do we go looking elsewhere for the answer that we do want? Do we act like Jonah, and sit sulking under the blazing sun, convinced that we do well to be angry, angry enough to die because God has given us something OTHER than what we wanted?

I am often like Jonah. I often reject God’s grace and make myself miserable because I want what I want, period. I wish that knowing joy comes from accepting the circumstances God allows would make It easier to accept those circumstances. I wish my desire for joy in the LORD was bigger than my fleshly insistence on having my own way. I wish that I could relinquish my need for sleep as easily as I relinquish my need for a shower, or that simply drinking a cup of coffee could make it feel like I got a solid 8 hours. I wish that I truly trusted God to provide sufficient grace in whatever form in the midst of sleep deprivation.

I don’t yet. And I can’t get myself to the place of graciously accepting sleep deprivation on my own. I am asking God to do it in me. Like A.W. Tozer says, I must insist upon the work being done, but I’m not actually the one to do it. My part is to focus on God and on what Christ purchased through His death and resurrection. As I behold Him, at 2 a.m. or 5 a.m. or while bouncing a swaddled baby on an exercise ball with a toddler tornado running rampant around my house, I will be changed.

Cleaning Up Our {Eating} Act

18 Feb

After the holidays, Travis and I felt like we needed something to motivate us to get back to eating healthier. Even though we were no longer consuming cookies and treats like they were going out of style, our eating habits had declined. In Travis’ case, he was drinking too many beers (on average 1-3 a night) and eating too many snacks during the day, instead of actual meals. In my case, I had been eating too many refined, ‘easy’ carbs like Ramen noodles, Kraft macaroni & cheese, quesadillas on white tortillas, bagels, and cereal.

Since I’m pregnant, I knew I couldn’t go crazy — after all, I’m still growing a little human inside of me! The goal of this ‘challenge’ was just to be healthier anyway, not detox or lose a bunch of weight (though Travis was hoping to drop a few pounds).

So here were our ground rules:

20150214_092426

The first week of the challenge was tough. We both realized how many of the snacks we ate during the day were refined carbs or sweets, or at least contained chocolate (like trail mix and granola bars). We didn’t enjoy our morning coffee as much without the added sugar, and Travis missed the relaxation aspect of having a few beers at night while watching TV.

The second week was better. Travis made eggs and bacon for breakfast fairly often, until I told him we couldn’t afford for him to eat 3 strips of bacon every morning. I ate oatmeal, whole wheat bagels, and smoothies for breakfast. We started snacking on more fruit and nuts, like clementines, apples + peanut butter, mixed nuts, and granola bars without chocolate. For dinner, we made our pizza dough with whole wheat flour and used whole wheat noodles in our pasta.

The third week, I was visiting my parents and Travis was on a work trip and visiting friends, so we didn’t follow our plan exactly. Still, we made different choices than we would’ve otherwise. For example, I ate a taco salad one night instead of using a white tortilla (though I SO wanted one!), and declined ice cream when my dad offered. But other days, I ate some pretzels and drank some cranberry juice (pregnancy craving!). Similarly, when eating out, Travis opted for salad instead of french fries, and ordered a leaner cut of steak, but drank some beers with his buddy when it wasn’t a cheat day.

The last 10 days or so, we mostly stuck to the rules, but also cheated some. I ate some of Emma’s fruit snacks (for some reason, pregnancy makes me crave them!) and a few pieces of chocolate. Travis had a friend/co-worker visiting so he drank some beers/cocktails on non-cheat days.

Regardless, we feel like the challenge accomplished our desired purpose. Travis lost a few pounds, but mostly, we were motivated to eat healthier snacks, reacquaint ourselves with whole wheat products (we used to eat them more, but got out of the habit for one reason or another), and relax at night with air-popped popcorn and water instead of beer and/or sweets. I also totally kicked putting sugar in my coffee — though I still use liquid coffee creamer. I know it’s not very healthy, but it makes me enjoy coffee, and coffee keeps me sane. So there.

I will say, though, that this challenge has reinforced my belief in Intuitive Eating. The idea of IE is that no food is off-limits or labeled ‘bad’. There are only 2 rules: You eat when you’re hungry, and you stop when you’re full. IE got me out of the rut of obsessing about food and calories. By giving myself the freedom to eat whatever I wanted, and focusing on listening to my body’s hunger signals, food stopped having power over me. Knowing that I could have more ice cream whenever I wanted (instead of telling myself “I really shouldn’t have any, but I guess just this once…”), I didn’t feel the out-of-control impulse to eat an entire pint in one sitting. With this challenge (and being pregnant!), I started once again salivating over treats. I do best when I can have a little bit of chocolate everyday.

That is why, barring medical necessity, I will never follow any of the more extreme diets like paleo, vegan, gluten-free, etc or declare any foods off-limits. I don’t do well with restriction. It might make me physically healthier, but at the cost of my mental and emotional health. I’d rather focus on eating mostly healthy and enjoying sweets in moderation. That said, even though chocolate is back in my life, I’m hoping to stick with the healthier alternatives to my beloved refined carbs. 😉

Valentine’s Day Weekend 2015

17 Feb

Our Valentine’s Day weekend didn’t really pan out as we had planned, but it was a nice weekend anyway.

On Friday night, some friends were going to watch Emma while Travis and I ate a Papa Murphy’s pizza at home, played Scrabble, drank beer/sparkling cider, and chilled. But our friends ended up being sick, so Emma stayed home with us. We still ate pizza but we played with Emma and watched hockey on TV instead.

Saturday, I made Overnight Blueberry French Toast Casserole for breakfast. I had had it for the first time at MOPS and it was amazing. Sadly, my version did not measure up completely. Considering how much work it is (I hate prepping things the night before), I probably won’t make it again.

For most of the day, we just hung out at home, playing and picking up after Emma. After lunch, Travis headed into town to run some errands and worked a bit. I honestly don’t remember what I did while Emma napped, but I’m guessing it was some version of tidying up, reading and napping myself. After Emma woke up, we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings. We figured that was a safe bet on Valentine’s Day, since it’s always a madhouse in there anyway.

Sunday, we went to church in the morning. During Emma’s nap, Travis put the pulls on our kitchen cabinets (only 8 months after moving in):

20150216_083004

I read a bit and fell asleep. About 1.5 hours after Emma had gone down, she woke up and I held her while she slept for another 1.5 hours. I used to get frustrated when that happened, but when I plan on taking a nap myself anyway, I really don’t mind. I don’t sleep that well holding her, but it’s better than chasing her around!

Emma finally woke up around 5 pm and we got all our gear together for checking out one of the local indoor waterparks (there are 3 in town, plus the YMCA). Unfortunately, we totally spaced that it was President’s Day weekend and all of the waterparks were closed to the public. Whomp whomp. So instead of swimming, we went to Target and let Emma run around (this is what you do with a toddler when it is 10 below outside). We thought of several things we “needed” and ended up spending $120 before we got out of there. #targetvortex

So the weekend wasn’t very ‘romantic’ you could say, but Travis and I are getting away for a night at the end of this month, so we weren’t too bummed.

On a side note, I have never really gotten into decorating or doing stuff for Valentine’s Day beyond getting Travis a card and eating lots of chocolate. But now that Emma is old enough to kinda/sorta notice as well as participate in crafts, I had her make Valentine’s Day cards for her grandparents, her 3-year-old cousin, and Travis. Here was her Valentine for daddy:

vdaycardfordaddy

I used the scraps and extra hearts to decorate our kitchen:

20150211_100852

I also took a blank canvas, wrote the word LOVE on it with masking tape, and let Emma go to town with paint. It took some coercion to get her to paint the whole thing, instead of just paint and repaint the same 6-inch square, but I think it turned out well. Kid-made Valentine’s Day decorations!

20150211_092827 20150211_100832 13681_894194193944237_4409628117157725046_n

The last thing I did was check out a few books from the library about love and Valentine’s Day, and I bought Emma a new book called How Do I Love You? Even sappy holidays are more fun with kids! Now on to Lent and Easter…

Pregnancy #2 Update: 8 Months

11 Feb

My lack of blog posts lately is the result of pregnancy exhaustion. Even though I have ideas about posts to write, I just can’t bring myself to sit down and write them. By the time Emma’s naptime rolls around, all I can think about is a nap myself. And by the time bedtime rolls around, I’m wiped and either want to read or watch TV and then hit the sack.

I’m 32 weeks as of today and being pregnant is definitely getting challenging. Being pregnant while chasing around a toddler is no joke!

32 weeks then now

I can only stand for a few minutes before needing to sit down. My big belly makes it hard to hold Emma on my lap or get down on the floor with her to play. Sleep is still decent — I get up 2-3 times a night to pee, and have started to be awake for 20-30 minutes at 3 a.m. for no apparent reason, but I can still get up before Emma 3-4 days a week. (It really just depends on when I go to bed.) I’ve started to have some back pain if I stand too long, or sit slouched over (which is easy to do when you have no core muscles!). Overall though, I am still blessed with a very easy pregnancy and a healthy, active baby. Only 2 months to go!

I made a ridiculously long to-do list of all the stuff — baby-related and otherwise — I want to get done before Junior comes. I’m trying to do at least 30-45 minutes of something during Emma’s naps instead of heading straight to my bed after putting her down, but some days that doesn’t happen! I keep waiting for that whole nesting instinct to kick in, but so far, it hasn’t.

Junior’s nursery is pretty much done though, so at least there’s that. We hung up the curtain rod this past weekend, and I found and hung picture frames for the prints that I made. I still have to paint the frames though, and finish a few minor details. I also bought newborn diapers and a few more gender-neutral sleepers so we’re good to go on that stuff until we find out if Junior is a boy or girl. Slowly but surely! I’ll do a separate post on the nursery once it’s all done.

So far, since signing up for the Northwoods Triathlon on August 8, I’ve swam and biked twice each. My speed and stamina are pretty pathetic (I’m blaming pregnancy), but I only want to get familiar with those activities again before giving birth, not actually make much progress. I swam for about 30 minutes each time (doing about 1,000 yards total I would guess). As for the bike, my butt is SO not used to a bike seat (I set my tri bike up on the trainer in the basement), so I’ve only lasted 5-7 minutes before switching to our elliptical. And my belly is too big for me to reach the handlebars, so I just hold myself up with my fingertips on the aerobar pads… But still, it’s better than nothing! I have to admit, I’m a little nervous about this whole thing, but it has been good motivation.

I haven’t done one of these ‘lists’ yet so I’ll close with one for this post:

Symptoms: Braxton Hicks, back pain, exhaustion, some inner thigh/pelvic pain

Cravings: Chocolate, but I think that’s mostly because Travis and I have been doing this ‘diet’ for the past month where we can’t eat sweets or refined carbs (more on that in a separate post)

Weight gained: 23 lbs at last week’s prenatal appointment (same as last pregnancy)

Movement: Baby is kicking a soccer ball in my belly — and only on the right side! I am noticing more defined times of activity and rest though.

Rings on or off: On, but sometimes tight in the morning

Belly button in or out: Starting to poke out!

Stretch marks: None that I can tell

What I Miss: Running! Wine. And my pre-pregnancy clothes.

Favorite Moment This Week: It’s not a single moment, but Emma has been really fun the past couple of weeks — I’ve been loving her quirkiness and crazy antics!

Least Favorite Moment: One of our dogs having diarrhea all over our carpet, causing an impromptu carpet cleaning on Saturday.

Looking Forward To: My sister-in-law having her baby — she’s due March 7!

Emma Grace: 22 Months

7 Feb

Emma’s obsessions this past month have been eating yogurt and wearing adult shoes around the house. She also loves wearing Mommy’s socks instead of her own. The ‘water play in the kitchen sink’ obsession has mostly run its course, which I’m thankful for. It was getting old!

Emma’s still holding strong with naptime around 2 and bedtime between 8 and 9. She does sleep in until 7:30 or 8 on a regular basis now though, which is nice. Her eating habits are mostly back to normal and she will sit in a booster seat at the table (as we discovered at Grandma and Grandpa’s house) so we plan to buy one of those and put her highchair away until Bisky Junior needs it.

20150115_190527 20150124_174847 20150125_202742

Emma is babbling up a storm now, and trying to use words at daycare. The things she says most often are “Ah na” for all done and “Meh meh” for more while signing. Other words she has said at least a few times are “Bubble”, “Emma”, “hot”, “on”, and “off” (osh). And her favorite non-word thing to say is “Ah dubba dubba dubba dubba.” Her little voice is SO CUTE, it makes me melt every time.

20150115_175236 20150121_120259

Our schedule is finally back to ‘normal’ after the holidays, which has been nice. It helps me to have places to go and things to do. During Travis’ most recent work trip, Emma and I went down to Rochester and spent the week with my parents. It was nice seeing them.

20150127_162917 20150128_105544

Emma got to push her very own shopping cart around the People’s Coop — making it the most exhausting, chaotic grocery shopping trip I’ve ever been on! She loved it though.
20150129_101802

Emma also found a balance disk to bounce on, which she thought was extremely entertaining. Little girl wore grandma out!

20150129_202809

I forgot to bring Emma a sippy cup so she had to drink juice and milk out of her bottles. I think she actually prefers that… so it probably goes without saying that weaning her off her bottle was a no-go. She was just cranky all the time so I finally caved. We’ll try again later.

20150131_112750

Emma and I went to the Children’s Museum on Saturday, and she had a blast running around and ‘playing with’ the other kids. She dressed up like a mailman for about 30 seconds.
20150201_094323

Where’s Emma?20150202_130741

After I unpacked from our Rochester trip, Emma discovered that playing in my suitcase was lots of fun! (And in that picture, you can see that she’s wearing some of my socks.)20150202_171424

Playing with grocery bags and wearing Mommy’s socks. That’s what we do.20150205_192818Emma got her 3rd haircut this past week, and even though we went to the same lady as we did the 2nd time (and she did a good job then), Emma totally ended up with a bowl cut this time. I think she looks like a Friar. Oh well. At least it’ll grow back out, right?

Embrace Your Life {Or, Why I’m Writing a Book on Joy}

3 Feb

Just the other day, I was driving from Rochester to pick Travis up at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and had found a Christian radio station to listen to. I’m not a huge fan of radio in general, but I usually choose to listen to Christian radio over Country or The Hits because 1) There are fewer commercials, 2) I don’t have to worry about the song lyrics, 3) I like at least 60% of the songs, and 4) Christian songs can serve as good reminders of Truth.

But every once in a while, I hear something in a song or some musician says something that I think is not entirely helpful. On Sunday, it was this statement:

“The only thing we have to fear is living an insignificant life.”

I disagree with this statement on so many levels, it gets me riled up. It’s statements like that that are the reason I’m writing a book on how joy in life is found in accepting the circumstances God allows, and embracing your current place as God’s will for you.

You see, I struggled for years believing statements like the one above. I thought that God’s will for me must be Something Other than what I was doing, Something Out There that I hadn’t yet discovered, and I went crazy running in circles trying to discover what God’s purpose for me was, and what I should be doing in order to be doing His will.

All the while, the Enemy (Satan) was laughing hysterically, thrilled to the core that he had gotten me to focus on Me and My Life and How I’m Living Out My Faith, instead of focusing on Christ and His Cause and His Power to change me from the inside out.

Here’s what I discovered: God’s will is that we focus on Him and let the rest go. We lay down our expectations and standards and ideas about what makes life significant, and we spend time at our Savior’s feet. As we grow in our relationship with God, we are inspired to pray more. Our eyes are opened to the way the Spirit works, and we start watching for His direction and guidance throughout the day, instead of living out our own agenda. The most amazing thing about living this way is that it brings us the most joy, and God the most glory. Because He gets to be all-sufficient, and we get to be all-dependent.

If you’re like me, you might be thinking “But if stop striving for things in my life and self to change and make a difference, how will anything get done?!?!” To that, I would answer: Make God your focus and it will happen. It is impossible to truly fix your eyes on God and stay the same. Like A.W. Tozer so eloquently put it in The Pursuit of God, “The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.”

Another question you might have is “What do you mean by ‘look to God’ or ‘fix your eyes on God’?” What I mean is: Study the Bible. Read commentaries and wise Christian authors. Pray about everything, even the menial stuff. Meditate on verses. Sing and listen to worship songs. Practice forms of fasting. Research what God says in the Bible about cultural issues. And I say all that with a caveat: The purpose of doing those things is connecting with God, not building up your spiritual resume or checking off things on a to-do list. If you feel guilty about not doing something, examine why. Maybe you’re just not there yet. If your desire is lacking, bring that very thing to God in prayer, and ask Him to change your heart.

Fixing your eyes on God also means turning away from your expectations and standards about life. You stop trying to determine your life’s worth. To borrow the words of Tim Keller, if you have been declared righteous by the blood of Jesus, accept that the verdict is in and get out of the courtroom. Then move forward in faith that if something in your life needs changing, or if God wants you to go in a different direction, He will tell you. Jesus says in John 10:27, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” If the message is truly from God, He will keep repeating it until you get it.

What is the result of living this way? Freedom. Rest. Joy. Peace. No more do you have to worry that you might not be doing everything God intended for you to do. No more do you have to agonize over the fact that you fall so short of who you want to be. God knows that you can’t do anything without Him — and He doesn’t expect you to. What He wants is YOU. He wants a relationship. He wants your honesty and humility that comes to Him and urges for Him to accomplish in your life through the Spirit what you want to have happen, but cannot do yourself.

He doesn’t want your failed attempts at living what you think is a significant life. He wants YOU, fully surrendered, willing to accept whatever He has for you — even if, especially if it’s nothing like you pictured it would be. Even if it’s nothing glamorous or monumental or earth-shattering. Even if it involves a dead-end job, or mounds of laundry, or tasks that no one appreciates or even notices.

Or maybe you’re one of those rare people who is called to something big (and you know specifically what it is), and it scares the poop out of you. Maybe you wish you could just stay in the shadows and not take a risk. Being faithful to God’s calling for you is taking that leap and trusting Him to be everything He has promised to be.

So instead of saying “The only thing we have to fear is living an insignificant life,” I would say:

The only thing that brings us true joy is living the life that God has for us, in dependence on the Spirit, for God’s glory and favor.

Keep your eyes on the Savior, and rest in the good that He has planned for you.