Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Great Big Mess

I'm trying to figure myself out this week, because I confuse myself.  I'm trying to figure out why I am, by nature, a very organized person, yet SO disorganized at home.  In the workplace or with any responsibilities I am given, I am very detail-oriented, stay on task and stay organized.  But at home, I am a mess.  I am disorganized, I lose things constantly, papers are strewn in different piles throughout the house, I am forgetful, and my house is a great big mess.  I make lists for myself: shopping lists, meals & recipes, cleaning charts, projects to work on, etc... and then I lose my lists or forget about them.

Some of this comes down to basic self-discipline.  This has always been a struggle for me in my personal life.  I have struggled with discipline in the area of devotions, eating, exercising, staying on top of household chores, and much more.  I just don't feel like doing things, and so I won't do them!  Isn't that bad?  I let things get out of hand because I don't want to take the time to fix them.  Then it gets too overwhelming.

This is an area that God has been convicting me of lately.  I want to honor God with my time, and I haven't been.  I would much rather take a nap or read the newspaper than clean up the great big mess in the kitchen.  I would much rather make a mess than clean it up.  I would much rather go run errands than deal with a disorganized office.  I see the effects of this, and it is not good.  It even makes my family suffer.  I was talking with my husband about it last night and he gently reminded me that when I am chaotic, my kids feel chaotic too.  When I can't find things, I run late, and I lose my patience.  When the house is a wreck, it does not make for a peaceful environment to live in.  Every time I start cleaning, my kids automatically ask "who is coming over?"  You know that's not good! :)

I don't know where to start.  But here are the areas I want to improve:

-Waking up earlier
-Spending time with God
-Eating healthy
-Keeping on top of the laundry
-Keeping the house clean
-Having set "work" times so I'm not working all throughout the day

All of these take self-discipline.  I know that this starts in the heart and moves outward.  Maybe you guys can  help me.  Do you have any tips that help you be more organized at home or with your time?  I'm sure you have areas too that you want to be more self-disciplined in.  Where do we begin?

Saturday, March 27, 2010

I am Laughing

Today I am laughing :)  Is it because....

I realized that on TWO different days this week, I was walking around with only ONE silver hoop earring in my ear out in public?  (Sometimes I take one out when I'm napping and then forget about it).

Today at Subway a fireman gave my boys an "honorary fireman" sticker, and Jaden said loudly "But mommy, I'm not a fireman, I'm just a little boy!"

Yesterday a hairdresser from Paris dyed my hair, and I couldn't understand anything she was saying or asking me, even though I pretended I did understand.  But I did get the whole haircolor for FREE courtesy of an ad on Craigslist!!

My wonderful husband let me sleep in on Thursday until 8:36am, even though I needed to be out of the house for MOPS by 8:45am (I don't fault him; he didn't know. Sweet guy!) :)

I took the boys to the park and as we were leaving, I said "Hurry boys, mommy has to get home and go to the bathroom!" and Micah yelled, "Why, mommy? Are you going to poop your pants?"

Yesterday we ate at Chik-Fil-A and found out it was March Madness; we get to go back any day before March is over and get the same meal for FREE!

Indeed, it has been a fun week :)

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Day Off!

A few months ago Martin and I agreed that we each need a "day off" at least once a month, where we are each able to get some rest and rejuvenation that is completely guilt-free.  (Because it is so hard to leave your kids and spouse without feeling some sort of guilt).  We each choose one Monday a month and write it on the calendar, and the other one of us watches the kids the whole day (Martin's day off is Monday).  It has been great and I don't know why we didn't start doing this sooner!

We spend our days off differently; On Martin's day off, he often chooses to stay around the house and relax, and I get up early with the boys and make all the meals for the day.  Sometimes he'll go running at the beach, and he often reads and plays guitar.

I, on the other hand, love to get out of the house since I'm here so much anyway.  On most days off, I have no money to spend, so it is hard to think of things to do outside the house, but I'll often sleep in, go to the beach for a while to pray and look for dolphins, come home and take a nap, and just lounge around.  But today was extra fun!!  Today I got up at 8am, got dressed, and then went out to a bunch of stores to window-shop.  I went to Goodwill (my favorite place to find fun Target returns) and JoAnn's Fabrics,  then met my friend for lunch, then went window-shopping with her, and then went and got my hair cut (it has been a whole YEAR!).

After taking care of sick kids for 2 weeks, getting no sleep, and griping about it a few times on my blog, I feel like I am BACK! :)  It is amazing what a few hours can do.  I know most people can't get a whole day to themselves, as many spouses work long hours or two jobs (or both), but before doing this, we would give each other "night's off" - just 2 or 3 hours where the other one would put the kids to bed, and one of us could go out and relax.  I highly recommend it!    Even a few hours away makes me miss my hubby and kids, and gives me new energy.  I know what it's like to be exhausted and worn out, so I hope you get a few hours to yourself this week too - if even late at night after the kids go to bed.  So glad to finally be feeling better!!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Could This Be The Week...

Could this be the week...
That I have not had a good night's sleep in over 9 nights?
That Daylight Savings Time has messed with our heads?
That BOTH of my boys are no longer taking naps?  (I think Jaden took 1 nap this week)

Could this be the week...
That I knew would come but always dreaded?
That is bringing us into a new season in life (that I don't want)?
That my patience is wearing thin?

Could this be the week...
That I need more sleep than ever?
That I am not getting any sleep?
That I am not pleasant to be around?

Could this be the week...
That my 2 boys have both, simultaneously given up on napping?

Yep, that pretty much describes this week.  I really hope it is just due to Daylight Savings Time. But something tells me this may be indicative of a change happening.  A change I do not want.  Mommy  needs a nap, and mommy is not getting one.  Sorry to whine, but it has been one of those weeks.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Working Mother

Lately I have been craving having a job.  (Not that I don't have one already, but you know, the type of job where you leave the house and work somewhere else).  It has been almost 5 years since I quit my job to stay home with Micah and Jaden.  I have been so incredibly thankful for the opportunity. But sometimes I actually want to get away from the house, focus my mind and energy on something else, so that I can come back and fully appreciate my family again.

I do think that this period of time has been the best thing for our kids.  I have been there for every milestone, every smile, every cry, every diaper change, etc...  But there have also been days where I felt isolated, unmotivated, depressed, and bored.  Micah is going into kindergarten in the fall, and he'll be there from 9am-2pm daily.  Jaden will be in preschool two mornings a week, although we could choose three if we had the money.  He is so excited about it, he wishes he were there now.  In the Fall, I will have a little more time on my hands. But part of me doesn't want to wait until then.

Looking back on my life pre-children, I was focused on schooling and my job.  I got my Master's Degree. I was all set to use it and go apply all my newfound-knowledge.  (My MA was in Church Leadership).  Then we moved, and I got a job that was offered to me and paid the bills, and thought "I'll get to that soon." Then baby #1 came, then baby #2.  But whenever I get to use my education and knowledge for situations in the church or elsewhere, I get so excited.  I feel alive again.  I have new energy and joy.  And I really feel like it makes me a better mom!

Don't get me wrong; I can definitely use those skills now, and I have been. Everything I do, I do for free - at church and wherever I can.  But we need some extra money, and I am praying God will lead me to the right thing.

I don't want to go back to work full-time.  I want flexibility, and for our kids to continue to be taken care of by one of us most of the time.  That leaves me the option of finding a job that is about 10 hours a week, or on a consultant-basis.  Just something small.

Here are my options (although none have opened up yet):
-Photography.  Pump up my business and go for it.  Do more photo shoots.  Or work for another photographer as an editor or contract-worker.  (But honestly, been there and done that, and I kindof want something different right now, just keeping that as my "side-job".
-Lactation Counseling.  I do this for free right now.  This is another thing where I will have to drum up business.  Yet I enjoy doing this as a ministry and know many new moms cannot afford to pay.  I have looked into teaching courses at local hospitals, but our hospitals are not hiring for these positions right now.
-Administrative Work.  This is something I am strong in and have a lot of experience in. However, it is hard to find work like this that pays well enough and is only 10 hours a week.  I'd prefer not to work behind a desk getting paid pretty low.
-Speaking.  I love to speak for women's events, retreats, MOPS groups, etc..., but again, it is not steady work.  I need something steady.
-Social Work.  It is so great having best friends who know what you're good at and know where you're heart is.  When I told my friend these thoughts about working, she immediately gave me some suggestions in the field of social work.  My BA was in Sociology, and I would love to work in that field.   This is a possibility if I found the right job.
-Ministry and/or Consulting.  This is first and foremost where my heart beats and what I would love to do.  But when your husband is also in ministry, it can complicate things.  He is the main breadwinner, and he gets paid to do ministry.  Our church cannot afford to hire me at the present time. I have helped my pastor with consulting (for church planters) on occasion but this is also a volunteer job.  We would have to find a church that would hire both of us, but it is a rare church that has two job positions open at the same time for our specific areas, and besides, we like where we are.
-Writing.  A hobby, perhaps; but not a job yet.  This is one I may be able to do in the future if I had set blocks of time.  I have written letters for companies before, but did not enjoy it. Not sure if this could ever turn into a job or not.

For now, I will keep doing what I'm doing, enjoying my time at home with my boys.  I know that I will never be able to get this time back (when they are at these young ages) and I do love it.  But wouldn't it be great if you could get paid to do what you LOVE and are already doing?   Because Lord knows I wear many hats right now and do many jobs, but just need some of them to pay.

So...what would you want to do if you had a job right now? (Or what do you do already?)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Long Nights

This is the 7th night in a row we've been up with a sick boy.  The first 4 nights it was Micah, who had a terrible cough and stuffy nose, then the 5th night it was Micah and Jaden, and now it is mainly just Jaden (Micah is still sick but sleeping through the night now).  We have been playing "musical beds" each of these nights.  This is what Saturday night looked like:

8:00pm- put boys to bed in their room with humidifier on
11:00pm- Micah woke up with stuffy nose and came into our room
12:00am- I went to bed with Micah on our bed, Martin fell asleep on the couch
12:30am- Jaden woke up, and Martin held Jaden on the couch
1:00am- Martin went to sleep with Jaden on Jaden's bed
2:00am- Jaden woke up and came into the bed with me and Micah
3:00am- Martin came into the bed with all of us, and I woke up to go sleep in Jaden's bed
3:30am- Jaden came into bed with me (in his own bed)
5:00am- I went back to our bed with Jaden
6:00am- Both boys woke up.  Martin got up with them and I crashed until 8am.

Crazy, right?!  Our days and nights have been mixed up and I feel like we have a newborn in the house or something!  (Definitely makes me NOT miss those days).  When our nights are all mixed up like this, it is hard for me to focus during the day. All I want to do is sleep.  Micah is still coughing but sleeping through the night now, but Jaden is not doing well and just threw up all over his bed (right before I wrote this) from having a coughing attack.

Honestly, though, I am actually thankful, because since Micah's surgery last May he has hardly gotten sick at all. This was the sickest he has been in 10 months, and it didn't turn into an ear infection!   I remember we used to go through this at least once a month.  Jaden rarely gets sick, so it is unusual to see him like this, but he handles it really well.  (He hardly cries at all and always asks for medicine.  I give him teething tablets instead and suddenly he feels all better) :)  I know that all the studies say we shouldn't give our kids medicine when they are under 4 years old, but I practically have a CVS pharmacy in my house.  I do give my kids medicine to help them sleep through the night when they're sick. I don't like the effect the medicine has on their bodies (makes them a little "loopy"), yet it helps them to sleep when they otherwise would be up crying.  I use children's Motrin, children's Tylenol cough and cold, and Little Noses (not all at once, of course).  The humidifier is our life saver - I see such a huge difference when we use that.

I'm so thankful that God has given me a husband who is a total night person and does not mind staying up with the boys at night when they're sick. He has this unusual ability to hold them upright AND be able to get a good night's sleep.  I don't know what I'd do without him.  I am a mess when I don't get sleep and feel it for days.  We have had a team-approach to our kid's sicknesses and I'm so thankful for that!

Here's to hoping tonight we get a little bit of rest (although it is not looking that way right now) :) Off to play another version of "Musical Beds"! :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Accidents Happen

Yesterday I took the boys on another "adventure." I'm trying to use our Tuesdays as "Adventure Days" because it is the one day each week I have both boys all morning and no plans. We went to Wilderness Park, which is a park within our city that looks like a campground. You can even camp there overnight. The funny thing is, as you are hiking through the park, you see houses bordering each edge and you can look right into their backyards and their windows, and you remember that you are not really in the wilderness after all. There are no deer or bears or coyotes; we were lucky enough to just see a skunk from a distance. After all, this is right in the middle of the city.

Last week I took Jaden to this park while Micah was in school, and Micah wanted to go so badly. He donned his khaki "adventure hat" and the boys took their bug keepers and found sticks right away to use as their walking sticks. We took a hike down to the large pond at the farthest edge of the park, where you can see and touch TONS of turtles and ducks, and there are many strange fish in the pond (that look like catfish).

I was standing next to the boys at the edge of the pond, when Jaden got too close to the edge and fell straight in. I immediately bent down and pulled him out, and he was screaming at the top of his lungs. A small preschool was there visiting, and all the kids and parents were right next to us when this happened. Poor Jaden was soaking wet and terrified, and I'm not sure if it was more from falling in and getting soaked, or feeling all the turtles and fish under him (I'm sure it was both, actually). I held him for about 15 minutes (while I was also getting wet from him), and a kind man with the preschool ran to his car and got me a towel. I stripped Jaden down to his underwear and wrapped him in the towel. After calming him down, I made the hike all the way uphill back to the car (about a 15-20 minute hike), with Micah following behind. WOW. What an adventure it was!! :)

Last night as I layed in bed, though, mommy-guilt washed over me and I couldn't help but tear up about it. I had a nightmare just the night before that Jaden drowned in the bathtub. I woke up really upset about the dream, and it came back to my mind last night as the scene of him falling in the pond flashed back. I knew it wasn't my fault, that I really was watching him and was standing right next to him. Yet that guilt was still hovering over me. For just a moment I thought about what it would feel like if something worse happened. I just wanted to run and hold him tightly. About 5 minutes later, we heard the pitter-patter of his feet running full speed down the hall, and he joined us in bed (around 1am). We were able to snuggle him closely and kiss his little head. I'm so glad he is okay.

Here are some pictures...

See the houses behind him?  :)

Okay, GROSS!!

This picture is from last week, but the exact spot where he fell in:
Very upset here in the car:

SO not happy right here.

And a warm bubble bath makes it all better!! 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Not Me! Monday (on Sunday)

I haven't done a "Not Me! Monday" in quite awhile, but this week was just too interesting to pass up:

I did NOT take both boys to a department store at the mall last week to look for some clothing for Jaden, warning them firmly to stay with me at all times (I had left the stroller at home). Jaden did NOT think my warning was funny and proceed to run through the clothing aisles until he got lost in the store (in the same department, thankfully). He was NOT only gone for approximately two minutes (which felt like ten) as I was frantically searching under clothing racks for him. He did NOT come bounding down the aisle giggling, as if nothing ever happened. My child never gets lost in a store, NEVER!

I did NOT then lose Micah (also for the very first time) in another department store a few days later. Micah usually stays right by my side but I was in a hurry and was rushing from rack to rack looking for a shirt. He did NOT disappear for a minute, and I did NOT look up to see two moms looking at me from a few aisles away very concerned. I looked down by them and did NOT find Micah sobbing and scared to death, unable to speak from fear. He ran to me and I held him for a few minutes trying to calm him down. He did NOT go on to hold my hand every single second from then on through the rest of the store. My children never get lost in a store, remember? :) (Also goes to show two completely different reactions from two completely different kids when each of them got lost).

I did NOT teach a breastfeeding class this week of which two teenage boys came (with their female friend) and have to demonstrate breastfeeding right in front of them. When asked if they wanted to view the video, one of the boys did NOT respond "YES!" out of excitement. I forgot my "boob model" and did NOT have to hold myself to demonstrate, right in front of them.

At church this week, as I was setting up a table and tablecloth in the lobby, I did NOT slowly slip on the tablecloth underneath my feet, and proceed to DO THE SPLITS right there in front of God and everybody in the church lobby. I was NOT wearing a long skirt and boots at the time, which made the event even more spectacular. I was NOT observed by at least 5 people (the service was thankfully going on during this time). I was NOT helped up by a male who was next to me when this happened. I did NOT proceed to almost die of embarrassment and could not stop laughing about it. (By the way, I have never done the splits in my life and am surprised I did not break my legs or my inner thighs by this).

So.... how was your week? :)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Finding Freedom

Today is Day 8 of my 40 day sugar fast.  Except it's not going to be just 40 days, I decided.  I am going to do it again for another 40 days.  Why?  Because I'm that serious about giving it up; I have tried and failed too many times before.  I just don't think it's coincidence, either, that the 40th day is Easter, and the 2nd 40th day falls only 2 days before Jaden's birthday.  If I did it for another 40 days (a third time), it would end the day before Micah's birthday.  I don't know, that just seems odd to me!

God is speaking to me a LOT since deciding to do this.  If you read my other blog, you know that I am going through Beth Moore's Breaking Free book. A great quote I read from her book says "A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for him or her" (p.2).  She goes on to say "no amount of determination will bring freedom."

I started to think about all of the things that hold Christians captive from living the life God wants for us:  addictions, fear, worry, anxiety, stress, judgment, criticism, anger, debt.  There are so many things.  I struggle with each of these to varying degrees.  So many of us settle for living life every day wrapped up in these things; they become such a regular part of our lives that we don't even try to fight against them anymore.

But today I was listening to an amazing broadcast from Family Life Today where Francis Chan spoke about the Holy Spirit.  This is what the summary said about the broadcast:  "The Holy Spirit is the secret ingredient in every believer's life, says Francis Chan. The reality for believers, Chan says, is that God lives inside our bodies, and that should transform the way we live."

Isn't it sad that we have this amazing person living inside of us, who has the power to free us from ALL of these things, and yet we settle for less?  We settle for mediocrity?  We settle for anger, worry, doubt, fear, addictions and more?   He said "one person does not have more of the Holy Spirit than another person.  But one person can give himself over more to the Holy Spirit than another person."

Finally, I read this verse today:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance for our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  

They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.  They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations."
Isaiah 61:1-4

So, today I have been thinking - what are the areas I have not given over to the Holy Spirit?  Why am I holding onto those things, when he promises me freedom, release, comfort, provision, beauty, gladness and praise?  If he wants to rebuild me, restore me and renew me, then why am I not letting Him?   For me, I wasn't ready for it.  I wasn't ready to give it all over to Him.  I wanted to continue having control, because it felt safer.  If you are feeling a tug in your heart that there is something you need to give over to Him (but don't want to yet), just begin to pray that He would make you ready to give it over to Him.  And He will.  He will make you ready at the right time.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Bittersweet Goodbye

This morning we woke up, and Mike was gone.  We had reminded him quite a few times that March 1st would be the last day that we could have him stay with us (for a few reasons which I won't get into here).  What I didn't expect was that we would wake up and he would have already left, without a goodbye.  But I did receive this text at 9:30 this morning:

"Ill c u when i c u ummk bi u guys and thank u"

Well, that's pretty much as good as it gets :)  Last night I had planned a farewell dinner for him.  I made all of his favorite foods (that he had divulged to me during his stay here): steak, stuffed bell peppers and baked potatoes.  We invited another family to come, who has also been helping him out, and we all gathered together at 5:00.  But Mike was not here.  We waited, and texted him, and he said he was in Santa Monica and his friend was having car trouble.  At 7:30pm he finally arrived, with no real explanation, and only ate a few bites of cold steak.  I was pretty disappointed.

After the dinner, the three of us adults sat down with him to talk with him one last time about his life and where we feel God is leading him next.  He didn't want to hear it.  He is struggling. He wants to do things his way and take care of himself.  We told him that he was choosing to be homeless; he does have other, really good options, but was choosing to say no to all of them. We told him that God has a major plan for his life, and it is obvious what direction God wants him to go in.  But we also reminded him that God will not force him to do it.  The conversation was hard.  It was heart-wrenching.  It was difficult for all of us.  Mike was not happy with what we were telling him.  We spoke to him for an hour, and he wouldn't look at us or answer our questions.  After it was over, he packed all of his stuff in a hurry and went to bed.

So, I shouldn't have been surprised when he got up and left early this morning.  But I was.  I was sad.  I didn't do any of this for a "thank you" or a pat on the back, and God really put my motives in check last night when Mike didn't show up for the grand dinner I prepared.  Yet I know God wanted him to be here for these past 5 weeks, and now it is time to let him go and let God take over and take care of him.  I am worried about him tonight.  I don't know if he has a place to stay. But we did the best that we could to prepare him to go, and took care of him the best we knew how.  Now it's up to him, and we hope that he chooses God's plan for his life instead of his own.

If you think about it, please pray for Mike.  Pray that God would continue to get a hold of his heart and lead him out to his family's home where they will love on him and take care of him.

What I will miss:
-our long conversations about what God is doing in his life
-his funny comments where he tried to be an expert on various areas
-him keeping the boys entertained and teaching them to say "I'm the boss" with a funny voice all day long
-him doing skateboard tricks and then me having to take care of him since he kept getting hurt
-having an extra person in our house which made me keep it cleaner, put myself together earlier in the morning, and make dinner faithfully 6-7 nights a week!

What I look forward to now:
-being able to walk around the house without a bra on in the mornings again (Whew! It was a pain having to strap that thing on first thing in the morning all the time!)
-being able to keep the bathroom door open when I pee
-being able to work in my office again
-having more milk in the fridge

All joking aside, we will really miss him and would do it all over again!  We hope he can continue to be a part of our family, too.

(This looks like a creepy dead body, but it is actually him showing us how he could fit in a suitcase yesterday) :)

We will miss you, Mike!