Tuesday, February 26, 2013

my day

Love is:
 babies that somehow manage to mark up their face accidentally even when you are carefully supervising them with markers (and with the darkest color possible)
 homemade breakfast dates on sunday mornings with just me and my girl
 cutest boy in the world
(had to add two similar photos because they both were cute for different reasons). sue me, i'm helpess against the cute!!
 bathing beauty after eating cream of wheat
 mom putting the playfood in the baskets fifty million times in a row so that you can go shopping and dump the baskets into your little cart fifty million times in a row
 and then they pay you at the cash register with coins that they promptly demand that you give back

 stepping over this mess all day (even though it makes your eye twitch) because it's the principle of the thing, and you are teaching your kids to work (and teaching them how to not make your eye twitch)
 clean underwear that magically appears in your drawer (scandalous!) haha
 a bed that gets made day after day
 hidden love notes uncovered at unexpected moments
 books read to mom at night
 a glitter treasure box of markers
 a tall stack of freshly laundered delicious smelling and fluffy wash cloths, ready to go
 puddle jumping
 puddle jumper 1

 (in motion)
 (in falling motion)
 puddle jumper 2 (nice action shot!)

 puddle jumper mad that I made him hold still for two seconds

 Take THAT mommy! (puddle jumper 2 cracking up over naughtiness of puddle jumper 1)
cups of cocoa after wet clothes are pulled off and cozy clothes put back on

 not telling babies about the marshmallow on their face. we just laughed at him and took pictures. and...we nicknamed him Count Chocolate
 pensive Count Chocolate
 sitting in the laundry basket your mom needs to use so that someday you might be able to wear socks that actually match, unlike today
 honey from my beekeeping parentals. yum
coming upon this sight at the end of the day.

in a nutshell, love is work. but it's good work.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

a mothery post that you can skip if you don't like feeling all warm and lovey inside

If you watched the video before reading the post, you may be wondering why in the world I'm posting a Backyardigans video. Sometimes I just have to post the soundtrack that goes along with my post. I just finished tucking Maddy in (we had late Sunday naps despite my best intentions to power through it) and the kids ended up staying up a bit later because of it. And in the end, it was okay.

 They are both tucked snug and cozy in their beds with full tummies and heads that have been patted and backs that have been rubbed and cheeks that have been kissed. After I tuck Madeline in at night our special thing is for me to put this Backyardigans song on before I leave. I sing the first couple of lines to her and then let the song play for her after I leave. It's sweet and cute and tonight it made me feel all sorts of emotional. Sometimes these tender moments of mothering pierce me straight to my heart and fill me up with melty fuzzy love-choked feelings. I feel like I can't hug them tight enough. I can't kiss their cheeks enough. I can't keep them small enough. The time seems to slip through my fingers and it seems like I haven't ever done enough to show those two little precious children that they are their dad's and my most darling treasures.

But tonight, I prayed that message got through. I whispered to Mads in the dim light, "You know Dad and I love you?" She nodded yes. "You know you're such a good girl?" She nodded yes. "You know that you will always be my squidge no matter what?" She started grinning with her eyes closed and nodded and she sleepily pulled her fuzzy pink blanket around her.

Sometimes it's easy for me to feel weighed down by the other things going on in my life (when I am going to be smarter than that??). Today I felt sorta sad about feeling like I don't have any friends here. I gave myself pep talks. I came up with strategies. I called my sister and told her that I don't know how to make friends anymore. But deep inside I knew it's all just times and seasons. I know that right now, with my precocious two year old, I don't have a lot of time to devote outside of these walls. I can still do my part to make friends, but as long as I am doing the best that I can do then there is no need to get too down about it. I have these two little people that depend on me so very much, and right now they are where that focus has been, and that's okay.

My sister told me that she sees all of the comments I get on my blog and other places and can tell that I still have good friends, they are just far away. She said she thinks how much my friends must care about me if they keep trying to keep in touch even from so far away. I realized that she is right. I am lucky. I don't have everything I wish for right now, but I still have people that care about me, and most of all, I have these moments of sweetness with my kids that show me in no uncertain terms that I am in the right place doing the right thing. I am a mother. I get it wrong so many times, but sometimes I am lucky enough to know that my kids feel my love like that fuzzy pink blanket wrapped around them. And that's enough to fill me to the top.

 Goodnight friends. love, jenn

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Place Called Home

I hope you'll indulge me a little as I write about a topic that has been on my mind almost constantly since we moved from Charleston. It's a myriad of topics that all coalesce into a sort of deeper issue. So it may take me a bit to get to the moral of this story.

For those of you that have known John and I for a long time, and read this blog through its many forms and addresses (bless you for that), you have seen our family change and grow. You have seen us from our first married apartment that was basically a furnished split studio apartment to townhouses, big houses, and just about every type of housing situation in between. This year John and I will have been married 9 years (if my math is right, which, let's face it, is probably wrong), so I'll say approximately 9 years, and we have run quite a gamut of experiences. Throughout all of these years, we have tried to find just the right house to complement the lifestyle that we wanted for ourselves.  Now when I type lifestyle--and probably when you read the word "lifestyle"-- it sounds fake and richy and stuck up. I'm sorry, I can't think of a less snooty word for it, but the idea of a lifestyle--a way of living--is what I want to talk about. It's the way you approach your home. It's the way you approach your problems. It's a way you hope you parent your children. I think at its very essence, it is a vision you have of your life's possibilities. Is there a better word for that than lifestyle? I am guessing so, but that's what I'll refer to it as in this blogpost.

For lots of years I felt that the house I chose would help to reach the vision I had for my life. I didn't think of it in terms of class or keeping up with the Joneses, but more of a space where I could picture our family living up to its best potential. I wanted space for the kids to play. I wanted nooks where kids could hide away and read when they are older. I wanted rooms that were sanctuaries, filled with books, and piano lessons (which also means a piano someday!) and counters for kids to do homework while I baked or putzed around the kitchen. I had in my minds eye a place that would be safe, comfortable, cozy, and welcoming to friends and family.

I think this sort of thinking is normal. I think it is part of what gives women that "nesting instinct." It is a part of my nature that I can appreciate and embrace because I happen to feel that it also gives impetus to my desires to raise my children well and create a haven in our home for them.

However, I think in all of the changes and movings and changing of homes that we have experienced over the course of our marriage, I began to forget that in the search for this feeling in our home, a small part of me began to think that it was more the house that would accomplish this than the people.

What does that difference in outlook matter? Oh, I think it matters immensely.

When you start to think that it's the house that matters and not the home, all of the sudden nothing you do ever seems good enough. Your house is too small. The decorations are not right. The kitchen isn't grand enough. The discontent that pinterest and blogs (or the joneses) can bring enters into our hearts and instead of seeing our house for the potential it once held for us, we only see all of the things that it lacks. We see all of the wishes and wants, instead of the things we have and the wishes granted. It's a sad change--and it happens slowly.

I have been guilty of it, and with this big change in our lives and the time to rent someone else's home, I have been surprised how content I have felt. I can't change anything about this house. I can't paint, I can't beadboard, I can't scheme. And being free from all of that pressure, all of the sudden I felt free to simply enjoy. Do I still sorta hate the colors on the walls of this house? Um, yes, without reservation. :) But does it bother me? No. It's surprising even to me.

All of the sudden, with the focus off of the change and the imperfections, all I can see is the family. I can see the things that I need to work on (and yes, it hurts), and the things that we were doing right all along. I see how the feeling that I was searching and yearning and praying for was the permission to be content with less. The permission to say, yes we could probably afford more of a house, but this time I want less. I want less stress, less of a mortgage, less of a commute for John. I want less noise, less debt, less clutter. But beyond that, I also want more. I want more time for playing games as a family, for cleaning up messes together, for learning and exploring and growing. More time for the gospel to fill my heart and the spaces of boredom and sadness and hurt that I feel I've been carrying for a long time.

It is a difficult change to make. I feel like it is a real change of heart. But it feels freeing to me to learn to say, "That's enough. We are blessed." It feels freeing to lower my (and my realtor's) expectations. :) It feels good to say, These are the things that really matter--safety, good schools, a yard for the kids to play and maybe (if we are ever super amazing) grow a tomato plant. A place for those things that matter in my heart--the books, a beat-up craigslist piano, the dinner table--those can be found in almost any house. But a home? That is something special that must be cultivated in the soul.

As I am going through this process of searching and ruling out homes and schools and areas, I try and remind myself of that truth, and it feels good. Don't let what other's seem to have ruin what you have or are hoping to create. That doesn't mean that painting and decorating and looking at ways to fancy something up is bad. I think it's awesome! I plan to do more of it in our next house because like I said, it's part of what makes women homemakers. But I do hope that I will start off that journey with my heart in the right place this time. And that I'll work harder to keep all good things in their proper perspective. Because really my friends, good enough is better than more.

some links that have helped me and talk about this too are here, here  and also here and here. (and a non-church one that is interesting about comparison here).

Monday, February 18, 2013

a three part post in one

 I should probably split all of these pictures into three different posts, but as you know I like to dump massive amounts of photos and then be done. The good news is that when I do that I usually use short sentences. So let's get to it. Above I snapped a discreet photo of a great church lesson. I wanted time to think it over afterwards.

 Someone lost ANOTHER tooth.  She lost two teeth within about a week of each other. Crazy (the tooth is in the baggie and it was from her bottom teeth).
 Maddy's ballet class did a special dance for Dads and so John got off early to come. To say Maddy was excited might be the understatement of the century.
 John got her some baby roses and she was SO cute when she got them--all of the sudden shy and blushing and hugging her Daddy.

I love this picture so much


Maddy made Daddy a card

 Let me translate: I like you Dad because I like when you come home. HEART MELTER alert

 speaking of hearts, lots of dollar store fun going on at our house on valentines
 Maddy's ballet roses fit right in
 my motto with valentine's day is the more garish the better. it was so bright it almost hurt my eyes. maddy and grant loved it.
 I had big plans for a heart shaped cake
 and then i tried to take a picture of my tiniest valentine but he thought that was funny
 I thought it was funny that he was hunched over coloring on a blanket
 making another valentine for daddy to put into a cute glittery heart frame she made for him to have at work
 i made this ice cream heart cake and my mom suggested raspberries on a cloud of whip cream. it sounded like it would be cute in a pinterest worthy way and so I did it. Upon finishing the raspberries I stepped back and realized it looked like the cake caught the chicken pox. sometimes things don't turn out as pinteresting as you might hope.
 then the kids had fun with their bubble valentine guns

 because it was SO warm and beautiful it was like summer
and then a day later it snowed. I LOVE you Charlotte, North Carolina! Maddy woke up from her nap and it was like this and she was so astonished when she looked outside. I wish I had caught her reaction on video. It was amazing.

 So we all bundled up and wonder of all wonders Grant actually kept his hat and gloves on. I think he was just all around confused about what snow was and so he forgot to be quarrelsome about his outfit. :)
 The next few photos are Dad taking Grant on his first sled ride. The best photo of the entire post is coming up (even if it isn't in focus). Watch for the biggest Grant smile ever recorded.
 Wait for it.....
 Boom! he loved it
 we only had a pizza pan to slide down. me...the queen of sledding (seriously ask my byu roommates heh), but luckily our neighbors behind us had some and they came over and all played together

 we had to make a snowman obviously
 this was the first time i've ever seen someone actually roll a ball of snow around and it grew like in the cartoons. it was awesome!
 there's me!

 we all had to take a picture by our snowguy

 Maddy's neighbor sledding buddy. we let them sled until it got a bit dark and my camera freaked out with the crazy contrasts of snow and dark

 i feel sorry for the moms that deal with the snow gear every day. one day was enough for me. perfect in fact.
 and then some nice warm cocoa.
what a great weekend. now wish me luck because Maddy is home from school today and that means mom has to be extra entertaining today. oh boy.