Pumpkin Patch 2014

Yesterday we made a little visit to a nearby pumpkin patch. It’s a tradition of ours to take the kids to a pumpkin patch each fall and let them each pick out a pumpkin. Isaiah was so excited all day long… He couldn’t WAIT for daddy to get home from work so we could go! Eloise caught onto Isaiah’s excitement but I don’t think she had any idea what a pumpkin patch was because she was too little to remember last year. But all the kids had a blast and we found some perfect pumpkins that we are going to work on carving sometime soon. =) Krispy Kreme donuts on the way home made for a perfect evening.

What fall traditions do you have for your family?

Let the pumpkin picking begin!

 

❤ The cuteness!!!! ❤

 

I promise you, we TRIED to get a good picture… after about 10 shots, cheesy smiles, and silly gestures, we took what we could get. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

So thankful for my family!
Leaving with pumpkins in hand! (Daddy carried the big one!) It was a fun evening!
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Dear Tired Mama

Dear Tired Mama,

I know. I know your baby kept you up half the night. I know she wanted either a snack or a snuggle every two hours. I know your toddlers fought all day. I know it seems that you are constantly disciplining and not only do you constantly doubt that you are disciplining the “right way” but it seems that nothing you do or say seems to impact them anyways. I know the munchkins destroyed the house and you picked it up 9 times. I know they cried when they didn’t get their way. I know you did 5 loads of laundry, cleaned the toilet, and made dinner all while your children were ungrateful and wanted you to do more (like play with them…who has time for that?!). I know you have either been home alone all day with them and feel like you may go insane for lack of adult interaction or you have worked at a stressful job all day only to come home to more work on the home front. I know it seems like you are constantly wiping either a bottom or a nose. I know your children decide to fight and scream and desperately “NEED” you every time you are on the phone. I know your baby wants you to hold her just when you are trying to get something done. I know you always have to be watching to make sure she doesn’t play in the dog food or put a Lego in her mouth. You are always on guard. I know sometimes your sweet little ones won’t nap and don’t allow you to get anything done. I know sometimes you feel like you live in a tiny little kingdom controlled by an army that you made yourself! I know. I’ve been there. I’m there.

These days are tiring, but I am choosing not to let the difficulty of these days take away from their sweetness. Babies are only little for a while.

I remember when we brought our first child home and I felt like I could get nothing done. I was always looking for ways to get him to sleep longer or play on his own longer. Now, four years later, I look at him and wonder where time went?  I thought those sleepless nights and busy days would last forever. And yet somehow he’s so independent, so grown up. He sleeps soundlessly through the night and plays on his own during the day. He doesn’t need me as much as he used to.

Tired Mama, let them be little. Because they’re only that way for a while. In the blink of an eye they grow up. My oldest is only four and I know he has SOOO much more growing up to do. But I can already look back and realize that these years FLY by.

With my second I held her a little more. I cherished her sweet “babyness” a little more. I tried not to let the days slip by so fast. I rocked her a little longer at bed time. I told her I loved her a little more often.

With my third, now 5 months old, I admit that I let her sleep with me often at night. Sometimes, I just can’t bare to put her back in her bed. I take pictures of her sweet face sleeping on my chest. I trace her face with my finger, trying to memorize it’s baby softness. I start to cry if I think about her big siblings and how fast they have grown up, knowing she is doing the same thing.

Try and enjoy these days, Tired Mama. They will be gone before you know it. Kiss those sweet babies more often. Hold them a little longer at bed time. Don’t yell when they get out of bed for “a drink of water” and then “they have to go pee pee” and then “they need a snack.” They just love you so much they can’t bare to part with you at bed time. When your baby wants you to hold her constantly, strap on a baby carrier and go about your day. There will come a day when your “baby” doesn’t even want you to drop them off closer than one block away from school, let alone hold her all day! When she wakes up at night, of course there is nothing wrong with sleep training, but remember also to cherish those sweet times with just the two of you. Your baby will eventually sleep through the night.

There is scarcely anything more important in your life right now than raising your children. Your job IS incredible. You ARE making a difference in the lives of your children and impacting future generations to come. Be encouraged. Take heart. These days are long and tiring now but they won’t be forever. Make the most of your time with your children now because you can never ever EVER get these days back.

Some day you will look back on your life and evaluate it. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I’m going to say, “I wish I had held my children less, made them grow up faster, and spent more time wishing away their childhood so that life could get easier.”

Go kiss your babies right now. Love on them. Enjoy them. Try not to stress so much over the little things. Try not to blow up when the days don’t go like you had planned. This is a season of life that will soon pass. Enjoy it while you can.

Love,

A Tired Mama

 

 

“So let them be little ’cause they’re only that way for a while

 

 

Give them hope, give them praise, give them love every day
Let them cry, let them giggle, let them sleep in the middle
Oh just let them be little”
-Let Them be Little by Billy Dean (redone by Lonestar)

 

 

I’m Still Alive!

I’m still here! I’m still alive! Life has been crazy lately but I’ll try to update you…. and I’ll try to get back to blogging more often as we continue to get more settled!

Two weeks ago today Drew and his dad arrived in Michigan and we were finally reunited as a family after six weeks apart! The kids readjusted to life with daddy much quicker than I thought. I thought there would be a period of time where they wouldn’t want much to do with him and might even be mad at him. Isaiah especially took the separation very hard and I was most worried about him readjusting. However, all three kids did wonderfully! They acted like daddy had never been gone and we went right back into life as normal. It was an unexpected blessing!

On Monday, the 18th, we rented two u-hauls and tried to cram all of our stuff from two storage units into them! Needless to say, we couldn’t fit everything in and ended up leaving much of it behind. It’s ok, God will provide more! On Tuesday we headed out and began our l.o.n.g. and s.l.o.w. drive down to Florida! Between pulling two {heavy} u-hauls and having three kids who needed several breaks, we moved slowly! But it was ok because that was our plan. We wanted to take it slow and easy and planned to do the normally 18 hour trip in three days and arrive on Thursday. The kids traveled extremely well. Olive was probably the hardest as she had a hard time being entertained when not sleeping. She wanted to be held (who can blame her!?!?!). But Isaiah and Eloise were excellent little travelers. Give them snacks, paper and pens, a movie, and their blankets and they are good to go for hours!

Let’s do this!
Traveling made Olive hungry! She ordered a double cheeseburger!! 
This is when we pulled into our hotel the first night. The kids were all sleeping when we arrived. Apparently Isaiah did not want to be disturbed! 
Hanging out in the hotel the next morning.
Love these three babies!!

We arrived in Jacksonville just after noon on Thursday, the 21st and then began the hard work (in almost 100 degree weather!) of moving everything up to our second floor (no elevator) apartment. Thankfully we had Drew’s aunt and uncle here helping us, as well as Drew’s dad! Then came the tedious work of washing all of our linens and dishes as everything had been in storage for over two years. Also the task of trying to figure out what to unpack and what to keep packed, and figuring out where to put things. Whew! It was quite a day and no, not everything got done that day!

We are staying in a nice apartment building just a few miles from Drew’s work. We’re staying in a one bedroom apartment. Yes, all FIVE of us in ONE bedroom!!!! But don’t worry, it’s not permanent. 😉 We have a three month lease on the apartment and are currently house hunting. We hope to buy a house by the time our lease is up and finally move somewhere permanently! We have done {SO} much moving recently (I moved 3 times while Drew was in Florida) and the kids are itching for stability. We had originally thought that the kids and I would stay in Michigan until we were able to buy a house and then move straight in. However, it is looking like it will be a while until we close on a house so we decided just to get us all together in something temporary until that time.

First night in our new apartment!
Does anyone feel like they’re watching an episode of Hoarders: Buried Alive ? 
Not even unpacked and we’ve already run out of room!

We don’t have much space but I really love this tiny little apartment! It’s obviously not a permanent solution as more than half our stuff is still packed up for lack of space. And it’s not ideal to have us all in one bedroom. But, honestly, I really don’t need much space to be happy. I love that I’m so close to the kids all day and can always see what they are doing. It feels quiet and cozy in here and I love it! =) And I think the best part is that, after 2 1/2 years, I’m {FINALLY} using all of my own things again and that really helps the place to feel like home to me. The apartment also has four different pools so the kids are having a blast going to the pool every day. We have all we need for now and we are satisfied!

Enjoying the pool! We’ve only been here a week and Isaiah has already learned how to swim, all on his own!
I’m just going to think the best and assume that all this dirt that I vacuumed up off the apartment floor came from us when we moved everything in…. not that the apartment was terribly dirty when we got the keys!
Getting a little more settled.
It’s starting to look livable in here!
Isaiah likes his new bunk bed!

We’ve been in the apartment for about a week and a half now and it’s starting to feel like home around here. I’m obviously not going to decorate or unpack everything but it still feels good just to be all together as a family, using our own familiar things.

Our dining room is being used as a storage unit right now, housing all the stuff we can’t unpack.
Not looking too bad!
Feels like home!

Olive sleeps in the walk-in closet. 😉
Just enough space for us all! =)

We’re currently house hunting (crazy stressful!) and believe that the Lord has a house just for us. We’re looking and praying and hope to find the right house for us soon and finally have a permanent place to call home! In the meantime, we are enjoying our tiny little apartment. =)

My Thoughts on Being Team Green

It’s been a little more than a month since Olive was born and I’ve had some time to process my thoughts about being “team green” and not knowing her gender before she was born. Here’s my take on the experience:

1. Being TEAM GREEN was fun

Even though it was hard, both Drew and I enjoyed not knowing the gender of our baby. It was fun to hear people’s guesses, to look up old wives tales, and to dream and wonder for an extra 20+ weeks what our baby would be.

But, I think a big part of why being team green was fun for me in the end was because I had the gender that I thought I was going to. Let me explain. Many moms have a “mother’s intuition” and often times have a strong feeling about what gender their baby is. In fact, mother’s intuition is claimed to be right more than 70% of the time!

I had a pretty strong feeling that this baby was going to be a girl. My pregnancy was {so} different from when I was pregnant with Isaiah and also Olive was a totally different baby in the womb. My whole experience was different this time around. The night before I went in for my induction I asked Drew to cast his final vote on what the baby would be. He said boy. =) But I said girl and I was almost positive I would be right!!

Love this little face!

Although I tried hard not to, since I thought the baby would be a girl, I tended to think more often of our lives with a baby girl in our family instead of a baby boy. Thus, I wasn’t disappointed when we had a girl because I had already sort of been thinking it was going to be a girl. However, if someone thinks strongly that their baby is a certain gender (or is hoping strongly for a certain gender) and then the baby ends up being the opposite gender, being team green could be a disappointing experience on birth day.

I will also add, though, that even though I thought my baby would be a girl I still felt a little disappointment when I realized that she wasn’t a boy. I had washed all of Isaiah’s old baby clothes and put them in the nursery dresser drawers. And I was a little sad when we came home from the hospital and packed those up and I realized that I may never use them again. I was overjoyed that I had a daughter yet somehow missing the son I could have had. Does that make sense?

Olive loves bath time! (But hates getting lotioned up!)

2. Being TEAM GREEN is not for everyone

Like I mentioned in this post, I would not consider being team green for my first baby and unless I had atleast one of each gender already. For some people that’s not a big deal. But for me, I only felt comfortable being team green because I had both hand-me-down boy and girl stuff on hand, and because I was not hoping for a certain gender like I would have been had I not already had one of each.

But everyone is different and you have to consider your emotions and personality before you decide if team green is right for you. And remember, it could be hard to deal with any “disappointment” if your baby is not the gender you had hoped for or thought he/she would be… especially when you are flooded with all those after birth hormones that make your emotions go wacko!! It may be better to allow yourself a little time and work through your feelings at the 20 week mark rather than wait until baby is born.

My sweet matching girls!

3. Being TEAM GREEN was worth the wait

The moment Olive was born and I saw that she was a girl was {indescribable}!! (You can read her birth story here). She was born face up, so right when the doctor held her up she was facing me and I could see what she was. No one had to tell me! It was amazing to hold her on my chest and finally know what my baby was. I kept saying, “It’s a girl! It’s a girl! Oh my goodness, it’s a girl! You’re a girl! I knew you were a girl! I knew it!” 

It was definitely a high that was worth the 9 month wait! And it took me forever to get over the fact that she was a girl. Even though I had a strong suspicion that she was going to be a girl I still couldn’t believe it! Lol! It is a great memory that was worth the wait to make!

4. I would consider being TEAM GREEN again but not sure if we would be

If we have another baby I would consider being team green again. I liked the surprise and the anticipation. And I liked the amazing feeling of finding out her gender on the day she was born. But it was also hard! I would have liked to have known if Olive was a boy or a girl so I could be a little more prepared. And I also liked finding out Isaiah’s gender before he was born so we could start calling him a “he” and start thinking about our life with him in “gender specific” ways.

Kisses for baby sister!

The bottom line is that there are pros and cons to being team green. There are exciting things about it and disappointing things. (Just as there are no matter when you find out your baby’s gender!) Some people are team green for every single pregnancy and some people would never even consider it (and some people are forced into it by an uncooperative baby on ultrasound day!). {But} the reality is that whenever you find out your baby’s gender (whether at 20 weeks or 40 weeks) it will be a fun and wonderful surprise! One that is worth the wait!!!

What in the World Does a Stay At Home Mom Do ALL Day?

A couple of months ago, Kentucky radio personality Matt Walsh wrote a controversial blog post defending his wife, a stay at home mom. You may have seen the post floating around Facebook; that’s where I was first introduced to it.

The post arose after Walsh’s conversation with two working women who asked him how his wife and children were doing and whether or not his wife was planning to go back to work. They also asked what she does all day as a stay at home mom. Walsh quickly rose to the defense of his wife, stating that no, his wife was not returning to “work”, she keeps busy taking care of their twins all day, that being a stay at home mom is not always fun, and that his wife actually never quits working. Needless to say, Walsh’s response sparked quite a controversy and his post received more than 12,000 comments!

In his post he wrote:

“This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone – particularly other women – to have such contempt and hostility for “stay-at-home” mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused?”

It seems that whenever a stay at home mom is asked what she does all day, it’s completely fine to verbally attack the poor person who asked the question! It’s acceptable to ask a dentist, doctor, secretary, teacher, or police officer how they spend their days, but for some reason stay at home moms can become very defensive when asked what they do all day long!

Most stay at home moms stay incredibly busy and I understand how some can get defensive when the person asking them is asking because they seem to think that stay at home moms just sit on the couch eating Oreos all day. But many people are simply asking out of a sense of curiosity or a lack of knowledge about the amount of work that goes into being a stay at home mom.

Being a stay at home mom is hard. It is A LOT of work. I rarely have a moment to sit down uninterrupted during the day. I’m taking my toddler potty, preparing meals, breaking up fights, organizing fun activities for the kids to do, cleaning, laundry, answering millions of (seemingly) pointless questions from my 3 1/2 year old, taking out the trash, making sure bills are paid on time, doing the grocery shopping, driving my kids to various activities, kissing boo boos, stopping tantrums, wiping bottoms and noses, doing dishes, and cleaning up messes.

If you have only one incredibly well behaved (i.e. perfect angel) child who you plunk down in front of the TV all day and if you don’t spend much time cleaning and cooking, then yes, you probably have a lot of free time on your hands to pursue what YOU want to do as a stay at home mom. However, if you have {normal} needy children who you spend time with; teaching them, interacting with them, and taking them places, and you also strive to cook decent meals and keep your house in operational order… well you probably don’t have much free time as a stay at home mom. Stay at home moms DO work, we just work at home and not in the workforce.

Salary.com does an interesting breakdown of what a stay at home mom would be worth if she really got paid for all the work she does.

Being a working mom is hard too. It is A LOT of work. Working mothers often spend long, stressful hours at their jobs and {then} have to come home and do their housework and take care of their kids!

Salary.com also does an interesting breakdown of what a working mother is worth:

Not sure how truly accurate these salaries are, but the point is: being a stay at home mom is work and being a working mom is work. And it’s not really about whose job is harder or easier or better or worse. They both have their pros and cons, their benefits and disadvantages, their good times and bad, their hard times and easy times.

But I don’t think being a working mom or a stay at home mom should define the ability to cook, clean, or care for a family. It’s simply what we do as parents for our children. To say that stay at home moms have an important job is true. But to say that they have the most important job in the world and that all of society would crumble if moms return to the workforce is an exaggeration. To say that working moms have an important job is true. But to say that they are smarter, wiser, better parents contributing to society in a more useful way is completely false.

I love being a stay at home mom. It’s what I’ve {chosen} for this time period of my life. I could work if I wanted to! But I don’t. I {want} to be home full time with my kids. But some moms {want} to work and be with their kids in the evenings and on weekends. Does that make them bad moms? Absolutely not. Putting stay at home moms on a pedestal, like Walsh suggests, or claiming it’s better to be a working mom like this article claims, just drives a wedge between working and stay at home moms. One type of mom is not “better” than the other.

I love this article here which is a letter from a working mother to a stay at home mother (and vice versa). The letters show respect and understanding for what the other mother has chosen. No judgment, no trying to convince each other that they are a better mother. Just understanding from one mother to another that they have both chosen the route that they feel is best for themselves and their families.

Whether you’ve chosen to stay home with your children or not, most of us are parents with a tremendous amount of love for our children, trying to raise them the best we can! Let’s cut each other some slack! Let’s not be full of judgement over how other parents are choosing to raise their kids. And let’s remember that {all} mothers, working or stay at home, serve a tremendously important role in the lives of their children.

And then check out this beautiful video below about how wonderful it is to be a mom!

Are Children a Blessing or a Burden?

Some days are better than others in our household.

There are days when my children are amazingly obedient, kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around! Those are the days when I think I’ve got this mothering thing down and start thinking about baby number 4 already (not really… I’m not that crazy)! And then there are days when my children throw all manners out the window and seriously act like they have been raised by cave men… clawing at each other, beating each other over the head with sticks, and speaking in loud screeching sounds that don’t even remotely sound like English.

Then there are the days that I am an especially great mother… kind, respectful, and pleasant to be around. And…. there are also the days when I beat myself over the head with a stick and make strange screeching sounds into my pillow at night while I contemplate how I can convince Drew to become a stay at home dad so I can escape the madness! (I’m just kidding, by the way!) =)

But in all seriousness, not every day around here is a perfect day (although most are really pretty good!). But at the end of each and every day, no matter how the day went, I am incredibly thankful to have the blessing of my children and if I could ever rewrite my life story I would never, ever, ever write them out of it. I absolutely {love}  being a mom!

In this era, though, this is not necessarily the norm. In fact, an article published in Time Magazine in August 2013 entitled “The Childfree Life” states that the current birth rate in the U.S. is the lowest it has ever been and that more and more people are choosing to opt out of having children.

Notice the title of the article: “The Childfree Life: When Having it All Means Not Having Children“. An article here claims that the author used the term “childfree” instead of “childless” because “the most educated, highest IQ non-mothers by choice now say, “Childlessness is for someone who wants a child but doesn’t have one. It’s a lack. I’m not lacking anything.””

We live in a world where children are most often viewed as a {burden} rather than a {blessing}. And parents who chose to have more than two of these “burdens” are considered to be especially foolish, unwise, and totally irresponsible.

Even as Christians, we often take on the same view as the secular world around us. We don’t value children. The world tells us that no children or less children are better because it allows you to be more free to pursue your dreams and your passions, have {more} fun with your significant other and friends, less to worry about, less responsibility, and overall more {joy} in life. Our own experiences seem to validate the fact that children {are} sometimes inconvenient, irritating, annoying, embarrassing, expensive, and just down right a. lot. of. work.

I’m not saying that sometimes our children are not these things. Nor am I saying that children are perfect little angels all the time who will be incredibly easy to care for and require no amount of sacrifice on a parents’ part. But when the world tries to paint a picture of something it deems good or bad, a warning bell should go off in the mind of a Christian and we can most assuredly come to the conclusion that it is exactly the opposite.

This girl brings SO much joy into our lives.

The Bible tells us that:

Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a {reward} from him.
Psalm 127:3

Since the Bible teaches us that children are a {blessing} and not a burden, it is our job to adjust our thinking to align with what the Scripture says, not to reinterpret Scripture to match what the world says.

Isaiah and Eloise with their cousin, Novalee. Three blessings!

So, how can we start viewing our children as blessings?

First of all, we need to stop viewing our children with an earthly perspective. Most everyone would agree that children often times cost {lots} of money, embarrass us in front of others, get sick at the most inconvenient times, don’t allow us to get as much done as WE want to, make messes that we spend the whole day picking up, whine, disobey, make poor choices, and often take so much physical and mental energy that we feel we have nothing left at the end of the day. Raising kids is not for the faint of heart!

But, to help us understand the blessing of children we need to develop an eternal, spiritual perspective.  God {says} children are a blessing, so they {are}! They advance His kingdom. They are like arrows in the hand of a warrior (Psalm 127:4-5), which we need in spiritual battle against the enemy. They force us to grow up and develop character, to learn patience and selflessness. Children cause us to get over ourselves and learn the blessing of self-sacrifice. And, as any parent knows, children are a blessing because of the sheer joy and delight they bring into a home! I think my kids are the cutest, smartest, most entertaining, and most fun kids on the planet and I could just eat them up! Drew and I video tape or take a picture of almost every cute moment and treasure every sweet and tender one. Our kids have brought unending joy and happiness into our home and I know many other parents feel the same (on most days!).

As Christians, we have the responsibility of raising up a future generation of adults who love and serve the Lord. What an incredible, huge, and daunting task. And yet what could be of more eternal value?!

If I didn’t have Isaiah who would paint my toes while I’m pregnant?!?!
“The Bible calls debt a curse and children a blessing; but in our culture, we apply for a curse and reject blessings.” 

This is not a post trying to guilt people into having children or into having more children. The decision about whether or not to have children and/or how many to have (or adopt) is between you, God, and your spouse! And I also realize that many out there desperately want to have children and cannot.

I simply want to encourage those of us who do have children to view them as blessings instead of burdens. Being a parent has it’s good days and it’s bad days. Not every day will you be over the top, enthusiastically thankful for the little creatures who are driving you bonkers that day. And that’s ok. That’s part of life and no matter how hard we try we can’t make every day a perfect day (because we are sinners and we are raising kids who are sinners!).

But, whether you have one child or ten, praise God for the blessing of your children and ask Him for the grace and patience to view them as the blessings they are, even when the days get rough. Ask Him to help you see the {JOY} in raising children! It’s an awesome job!

The world sees children as a burden but God sees them as a blessing to help share the burdens of life!

 

My little “superhero” helping me with the dishes last night. So thankful for him.