Stages of Parenthood

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I once read a book by a woman who joked about the day she realized she had reached a new stage of parenting when all of her kids were able to get their shoes and jackets on themselves, get into the car and even buckle themselves in without her having to lift a finger. What a glorious day, she shared.

I have yet to reach that stage, however I have noticed a few others that have stuck out to me. One is the day I realized my heart wasn’t jumping out of my throat when my children came to a flight of stairs. I remember my usual response-all blood drained from my face as I unsuccessfully tried to stop the word “noooooooooooo!” coming from my lips so that I didn’t either startle them into losing their balance or send them into a gleeful defiant strut down the stairs as they grinned back at me. Both are old enough to either be able to quite quickly navigate up and down the stairs or to know that they aren’t as agile as the big kids running up and down and they need to take their time. Big moment in parenthood. HUGE.

There’s also the stage where my son discovered he has orifices on his body…..and that he can stick a finger in them……especially the one on his butt. Yes, that was my son. It was a new stage of parenting because he was still in diapers. When I tried to teach him we don’t stick our fingers down there because we might get poop on them, he thought that meant not to reach down until after I had wiped him. It took some effort on my part to break him of that. I am happy to say that stage is over.

I used to be the mom who was not allowed to sit down at a social gathering. Oh, how I longed to be able to sit and chat with the other moms as their kids ran and played. I, on the other hand, had to not just keep an eye on my 2 young ones who wanted to run around too, but follow them around to steer them away from the fire ant mounds and the road. Just a couple of days ago, I realized that stage is over. At a friend’s house with a few other families, I sat back and slowly smiled as I realized I had no idea exactly where my kids were….but I knew they were at least somewhat safe. I had it narrowed down to outside with the big kids or in the back bedroom with the other younger ones, but I had full confidence that the knowledge they had gleaned over their few short years on this earth was sinking in and they knew where the safe boundaries were. There was no guarantee they wouldn’t still get into fire ants (this is Florida after all), but at least they wouldn’t be actively seeking them out, thinking their hills were a small sandbox to play in.

This also brings us to the stage where my kids officially have dragon breath upon waking up. Gross.

This morning was another huge step for parenthood in our house. We had a special activity to head to and not enough time for me to help them with everything while also being able to shower and present myself to the world as half normal looking (and smelling after exercising). Get this-my kids, ages 2 and 4, finished their breakfast while I showered and put their dishes in the kitchen. My youngest even turned the TV off by himself (not a big moment for me, but he thought he was pretty darn smart). They then went and got dressed by themselves. My son, who is in the midst of potty training (fun times), even went to the bathroom without consulting me first. Granted he ended up peeing all over, but I’ll be darned if I don’t throw a party for his effort! His reward for using the toilet is looking at pictures on my phone and when I told him it was time to put the phone away, he promptly brought it to me and said he picked some music just for me. It just happened to be a song I really like. What a big sweetie. When I told my oldest it was time to brush her teeth, she set her marker down, came closer to me and said “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you, what did you say?” Ummmmm, who are you and what did you do with my daughter? As we walked out to the car, my son topped it all off by picking a little flower from our front walk way and handing it to me.

So I get that this new stage may not actually be a stage and maybe it will last just today, but y’all, this morning I saw a glimmer of hope that after the past 4.5 years of parenting, we may actually be raising kids that will in fact be able to take care of themselves one day. Glorious day.

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Wise and Innocent Kids

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F3F331AD-465E-4E5E-8A4B-B210C148BE1AReading my Bible this morning, I came to Romans 16:19 (last half), “but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.” This resonated with me regarding raising our kids. I have noticed just how saturated my kids are with God. The other day I was showing Georgia how to talk into the big fan to sound like a robot. What did she decide to say? Something about God, Jesus Lord is King. William loves singing (really, both kids do) and he almost always chooses Jesus songs (though Twinkle Twinkle is also a favorite). Georgia enjoys reading her bible by herself and will often play church and tell sermons to her stuffed animals. When we see crosses on the side of the road where someone has died, William points out the cross and says that’s where Jesus died (then Georgia chimes in that Jesus came back to life). If we hear an ambulance, the kids remind me to say a prayer for the hurt people. 

As far as I can tell, this isn’t normal. And to be honest, I wondered if my kids are going to be labeled “weird”. Yet, this verse reminded me that it may not be normal according to the world, but this is how my children should be (and myself as well). 

I looked up the meanings of a couple key words in this verse. ‘Wise’ means to have a taste for, skilled in, akin to’. ‘Innocent’ means to be pure, unmixed, simple’. 

In training up my kids, I am called to saturate them with God so that they are so full of God that there is no room for any evil (evil meaning anything not of God), that they want God, that they are skilled in following God, that their hearts are pure (blameless) before God. 

So I will choose to continue to surround them with everything Jesus to the point where we may be weird according to the world, but we are normal according to who Jesus was and is. I choose to make Jesus such a normal topic for us that it’s like talking about our best friend. I choose to pour God’s truth into their minds and hearts so that as they get older and are exposed to more of the world, that they will not be swayed in their faith and that in fact they will be the ones changing the world for Him. I choose to teach my kids that having a personal relationship with Jesus is better than having the best friend they could ever imagine here on earth. 

Playing Homestead

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I don’t watch much TV nowadays, but when I do, it’s usually reality shows like ‘Alaska, the Last Frontier’ and ‘Homestead Rescue’. I like to live vicariously through these people as they live off the land. I’m even a member of a small farm and homestead Facebook page. 99% of the information shared and questions asked are so beyond my scope of living, but I tell myself I better tuck away these little nuggets of information because one day that may be me….most definitely not, but if I ever found myself in that kind of life, I’m pretty sure I could do it. I could survive.

In the meantime however, I’m having fun pretending. I pretend I have a garden that supplies our family with all the vegetables and even some fruit that we need. In reality, I failed at growing sweet potatoes (which I didn’t realize until I spent 3 months watering what I thought was a mound brimming with the orange tubers) and after growing carrots for over 3 months, this is what I dug up for tonight’s dinner.28323B28-86BF-469C-8208-373178BCF533

They tasted bitter with a hint of mint. If I wasn’t having fun being a gardener failure (I’m blaming it all on our soil, which is all sand), I might just throw in the towel. Instead I’ll continue to water my second batch of growing carrots and mound of russet potatoes with the false expectation that we will end up with a bounty of both. Oh, I laugh just typing that.

Why do I forge on? One, because there’s the hope that I can amend the soil to the point where things will actually grow. Two, because my daughter’s gasp and “ooooohhh” as we dug up the carrots today were all the encouragement I needed. She was so excited to see what we had grown from seeds. She promptly ran inside to show her daddy. Meanwhile my son enjoyed feeding all the carrots that didn’t make it past an inch long (these greatly outnumbered the carrots we actually did save before tasting them) to to our chickens. The kids are learning the joy of digging in the dirt, getting their hands dirty (and their feet, knees, and faces), the accomplishment of growing something with their own 2 dirty hands and discovering God’s creation first hand.

Did I mention our garden has nice wooden frames and fence around it, all built with used lumbar and fencing and our own dirty hands?0DE38D5D-3A88-4D95-84D4-5EBD5804C220

It looks like a super nice garden (if only it were). We also have a rain barrel to take advantage of the free water that falls from the sky. If that isn’t self-sustainability at its finest, I don’t know what is.

Slightly more successful than our garden endeavor is our chicken situation. We bought 5 little chicks 4.5 months ago with the hopes they would all turn out to be girls and would eventually lay beautiful, brown eggs on at least a semi-regular schedule.20171007_122902

We have yet to get eggs (not old enough) so that aspect outcome remains to be determined. So far they are all girls, but I keep forgetting how old they’ll get before you’re really sure. I don’t see any rooster looking features or hear any cock-a-doodle-dooing thus far, but I’m hesitant to chalk this up to a success just yet. However, I can proudly say we have kept all 5 chickens alive and well for over 4 months! From 5 little fluff balls in a tub in our bathroom to pooping, clucking hens running around our backyard, we have managed to see them flourish in our care.12F53DFB-F605-460C-9F07-11BA72374F3C

This even includes nursing one back to perfect health after a hawk attack. Poor girl was carried a short distance in the talons of the predator bird, then, thankfully, dropped to what I was sure her death as I ran into our yard screaming at the hawk like a lunatic. I even kept a nasty opossum from getting into our chicken run one night with my hawk netting booby trap (the netting came into existence after the hawk attack). I won’t mention I had forgotten to lock the girls in their coop that night, which is what lured the opossum to our yard in the first place. 😬

The kids still call our feathered friends our baby chicks, as opposed to chickens. While they (the kids) love the idea of playing with the chickens, they scream when one even looks at them. Yet, the kids are there with me most mornings and evenings letting our flock out of and into their coop, “helping” feed and water them. They also find the chicken poop fascinating to look at and they of course step in it too, which is also fun to look at on their shoes (or bare feet….gross, did I just admit I’m that mom that lets their kids in with the chickens with bare feet?).

And that’s it. That’s the end of my homestead wanna be life. There are all the little projects that I suppose encompass the homesteading spirit, but that list would be way too long to add. This life may not be much like those on my favorite shows, but it’s our life and I love it.

Four score and…four years ago

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Four. Years. Old. How and when did I become the mother of a four year old? I feel old, especially when I calculate that when my mom was my age, she was well past the four year old stage. She had a 12 and 14 year old. I didn’t even start having kids until the age that my mom had a middle schooler and high schooler. Four year olds wear you out. I run around the backyard for about .3 yards and I’m out of breath (okay not really, I did just run a 5k after all). Still, we were not meant to be having and raising babies in our 30’s and 40’s. I’d like to see pictures of those celebrities who have had miracle babies when in their 40’s or even 50’s. I bet even botox and a face lift can’t keep away the 3am screaming session (by the baby, not mom or dad) stress and exhaustion.

But I digress. Regardless of my age, my oldest is four years old. I am blessed beyond measure to be the mom of this particular four year old and I knew it at 6 weeks of age (her age, not mine, and yes, it took me about 6 weeks to feel attached to her….but I haven’t let go since then). By 6 weeks old she was waking up only once a night. Oh, the joy I found in getting the sleep I needed while my baby was so young. On a side note, my second child made up for all the sleep I got with my first. I was a zombie for a good year and a half with him. I love my sleep. I’ve always been a good sleeper. And behold! Like mother, like daughter. Thank you Jesus.

For both pregnancies, I lived in a black fog during the first trimesters. Everyone talks to you about post partum depression, yet it turns out many women experience depression during pregnancy. I was one of those women. I’m not talking about “oh, I feel sick, I’m going to throw up…bleeeehhh. Oh, I feel sick again, give me saltines.” No, I’m talking about a blackness hanging over my mind from the second I woke up to the second I feel asleep and all the times I couldn’t sleep during the night. I found zero joy in life, including when my four year old was just over one year old during my second pregnancy. I remember laying on the couch, watching her happily play, and wanting her to not be there. Awful, huh?

You know how that girl reacted to my depression? It was at that point she started giving me kisses. Randomly. She came up to me one time as I lay limply on the couch and she stretched her face to mine, her lips to my lips. Five minutes later she did it again. And again, and again. My sweet, sweet girl knew how to touch my heart even if I just wanted to be left alone. Fast forward to year number four and now she asks to sit and cuddle with me, makes sure I give her a kiss before I leave, even if I’m just taking the dog for a bike ride, and loves to pretend play that she’s the mom leaving me as she comes to kiss me good bye. Yes, I am blessed to have this four year old.

A few months leading up to her fourth birthday, she added a whole new dimension to her personality. We had talked about being a big girl before, but as the number four birthday approached, I saw and heard a huge difference in her actions and speech (she also had the lack of sleep that often comes with growth changes-physical or mental, which didn’t do anything good for her behavior, but I won’t talk about those fun times). She officially became a big girl. She went from older toddler to older preschool in a matter of a month.

Yes, I am blessed to have a four year old. This four year old. She is forever my daughter, wild, curly hair and all.

 

Coops and kids

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We are officially chicken owners! After a 2 month long process, we finally have 5 chicks, which we have kept alive for exactly one week today. Please allow me to pat myself on my back.

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For the past 5 months (at least) I have been building a chicken coop for these babies. Yes, that is correct: 5 months (at least). Why, you ask? Allow me to explain.

Reason #1: I have no idea what I’m doing. Everything I read said to draw up your plans beforehand, whether you’re building a chicken condo or piecing it together with scrap materials you have on hand. Not only am I doing the latter-piecing it together-but my scrap materials are not all on hand. I first picked up some wood pallets and ripped them apart into various smaller pieces, which is not so easy. I have also picked up scrap wood from curbs including plywood I had my kids hold on their laps while taking them and the dog on a wagon ride (the dog walked in the road). While I have bought about $3 worth of screws, most of what I am using are random ones we keep in a jar in our shed as well as our hurricane shutter screws (causing my husband to find more when hurricane Irma came our way a few weeks ago). I started to build the coop, finally, but after getting to a point where I just had no idea what to do next, I took it all apart and started building it another way, which seems to be working out better. How the heck am I supposed to start with written/drawn out plans for something when I have no idea what I have to work with?  So while the lack of plans has made this process a lot longer, I can pat myself on the back again because I have basically built this, so far, for less than $10. Resourceful is my middle name.

Reason #2: I have kids. Young kids. Preschool and toddler age kids. This reason should actually be #1 because what else need I say? Why have my kids made building a chicken coop a process stretched over 3 seasons so far (even though in Florida it’s been like one really long season-summer)? Allow me to give examples:

A lot of thought has gone into this coop building. Thought takes, well, thought. It is hard to think when I have kids grabbing hammers and drills, wanting my attention, pleading for my attention, crying when they don’t get my attention, and then I end up explaining to them why they need to leave me alone for just 2 minutes so I can figure something out. The whole process has taken 10 minutes to come up with one idea and I haven’t even started actually doing anything yet.

My kids love to play. I love to play with my kids…..most of the time. So I can’t help but go find them behind the tree as they giggle in the anticipation of me “sneaking” up on them (in reality, their little faces peaking around the tree give them away, as well as their giggles). After drilling a couple more holes and screwing on another board, it then becomes my turn to hide, which I am better at so it takes them longer and while part of me wants to just jump out crying out “boo!” so I can get back to the coop, the other part of me wants to continue to stay put and give them clues to my hiding spot until they find me. Then it’s back to attach another board. Do you see the pattern?

My kids love to help and let’s be honest, when kids help, things take at least twice as long to finish. Alas, this is the job of us parents-to actually teach our children. So, my kids help me put the washers on the screws that I need to hold the hardware cloth in place, which is tricky enough for me, let alone a little person who is still working on fine motor skills. This also involves many dropped screws and washers and digging around in the grass to find them. They are also learning how to use the drill. This skill kind of freaks me out because Georgia is to the point where she can actually drill holes and little brother isn’t known for looking where he’s going. So far though the holes have only gone in pieces of wood and I have dreams of my kids building homes for homeless people one day (I saw a video of a 9 year old doing just that-amazing girl). My kiddos also like to “help” by moving pieces of boards around, stacking them up, laying them across two other boards to form a balance beam of sorts, etc. I have no idea what they are up to, but in their expanding minds they are constructing a chicken coop and I shall not stand in the way.

Reason #3: I have project ADD. I typically have multiple projects going on at any given time, starting one or two, then coming up with other fantastic ideas that I go start, then seeing someone else’s project that I could totally do myself and promptly start….it never ends. One day my back patio will be ready for dining al fresco (which I better finish soon because the weather is finally starting to cool down here in Florida), my fence line will be dug up and my 3 remaining flowering plants will be put into the ground and mulched around and my chicken coop will be built.

In the meantime, excuse me while I go work on another project while the kids sleep because Lord knows when they wake up…….

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Family

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A couple months ago our church held a beach baptism at a local beach. This is where new Christians profess their faith in Christ in public by being dunked under water, symbolizing being washed clean by Jesus. Church goers gather at the park, have a time of worship then we all go down to the beach to celebrate with those getting baptized, play and hang out. Sometimes the waves are really big and end up dunking the people before the Pastor has time to lower them under. It makes me laugh, but that’s besides the point.

My family decided to go to the baptism, which quite honestly, I was not looking forward to. I didn’t want to bother with the kids in the sand and water, being in the sun, etc. etc. Never mind that there were over 20 people, many of them kids, who had recently turned their life over to God, which is the reason of all reasons to celebrate. I was going to be uncomfortable and that was more important to me. Not one of my proudest moments.

But we went. As soon as we got there, we found friends to stand and sing with. I slipped in next to a fellow mom who was holding the young daughter of another mama friend, who was at home sick. After a few minutes the young son of my friend next to me walked over and wanted to be held too. She bent to pick him up and after helping hoist him up, I offered to take the friends’ girl she was holding. She lay her head on my shoulder and I softly sang in her ear. Some of the older kids were playing with a coconut behind us and I turned around as one of the dads stepped in to quiet them down. A few minutes later my two kids came up and wanted my attention, so I sat the friend’s girl down with her older brothers and sisters, their friends and another mom.

That’s when it hit me. Today is about family; new members of the family of Christ being welcomed; sharing in a time of worship and play with my family; living life with our friends, many who have become like family. We take care of each others kids, passing them between us, caring for them, correcting them, loving them. We weren’t doing each other a favor, we were simply living life together. I was humbled.

The icing on the cake came when I looked down at my daughter who was telling me the song we were singing was from church. It wasn’t a favorite song of mine at the time, not even one I really cared for, but as I watched my little girl raise her hand to Jesus and sing the words she picked up on, it became my new favorite song. How awesome is was to be able to stand there, in a public place, with my family and my friends, worshiping the Creator of the ocean itself.

I often struggle with not feeling at home, regardless of the fact that I have lived here for over 5 years, married my husband here and have raised my kids, thus far, in this town. That day changed me. It filled me with a peace knowing that no matter where I live, God is there. I may miss seeing him in the mountains, but He is in the ocean too. I may miss my family I grew up with, but I still have family surrounding me.

Praising Jesus to the same song, just at home. She calls it her song now.

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Here is the link to my new favorite song:

2 Years Ago Today

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Oh my sweet boy, you are two years old today. I have nothing witty or poignant to say, no lesson I’ve learned that I need to share with the world. No, today all I need do is look at you and say “Behold! This is my son. My heart overflows with my love for him.”

However, as I get older, I will forget things more and more, moments I treasure so dear will slip further from my memory. So, I will share you with the world today; what makes you tick, what makes you laugh, how you make me laugh, how you make me cry, and everything in between. Today is about you, my son, my dear one.

I gave birth to a different baby. You weren’t William, you were Zeke. However, the name didn’t fit and so you became nameless. Oh, how I cried when I was rushed into picking a name for you. I didn’t want you to be named after someone else, I wanted you to be unique, to have your own name. But Daddy felt led to name you after his Dad, your Poppy, and I had nothing else to suggest, so William you became. After 2 years, your name just rolls off my lips now, whether it’s ‘William’, ‘Will’, ‘Willy boy’, ‘Willard’, ‘Willis’, or ‘Bud’.

“They” say parents shouldn’t bribe their kids, but oh, how much easier life is sometimes when you do! Food has always been the winning key for you. I bribe you into your car seat with snacks or to sit still in the grocery cart to earn a treat, to take a nap with the promise of a lollipop afterwards and a mint after letting me brush your teeth.

You became a little brother as soon as you entered the world, not just because of birth order, but because you have taken to following your big sis everywhere. First, with your eyes as she danced around you, and now, 2 years later, with your feet as you want to do everything she does. She taught you how to cover your face with your hands as you giggle, to (fake) an injury in order to get a kiss from mom, to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, to close the bathroom door so we don’t hear you playing in water in the sink, and to cuddle a blanket at night time (and to call your blanket ‘nah-nee’). Anything Georgia does that earns her verbal praise or a high five, you insist you did it too. At church, you guys are inseparable. Though you two should be in separate rooms based on your ages, all the workers and volunteers know that you two go together, either in the baby room or the older toddler room. You need your big sis and she needs you, too.

It took you a year and a half to finally get the concept of sleeping through the night. Granted, your first 14 months you were being fed dairy (or nursed while I was eating dairy) while being lactose intolerant (please forgive me). I was a zombie for 14 months and it was only by God’s strength and energy I lived through it to tell about it. I eventually learned to enjoy our time rocking you back to sleep, watching you curled up in my arms, praying over your sleeping sister and you.

At just 2 years old, you’re a pretty honest little guy. When you put your hands down your diaper and get poop on your hands, you come and tell me right away, before smearing it all over the house. Thank you. You also told me about the 8 cookies you retrieved off the kitchen counter and ate while I was in the shower. It was my fault I didn’t know what you meant when you kept coming into the bathroom and telling me “more mama!”

You love the outdoors and everything in it. So much so that sometimes when we go walking down the road, you will lay down and just start licking the dirt. If there’s water out there, you will find it and splash in it, maybe even sit and lay down in it (which you have also learned from big sis). You have grown from squishing any bug you see to enjoying watching it and, if it’s still alive, moving it out of the way so it doesn’t get squished. You like to help me throw chunks of fruit or bread out for the birds and squirrels, though you’re more likely to eat the bread yourself. Did I mention you love food?

Books, blocks and cars: 3 of your favorite things (not to mention food). As you get older, you will play with the blocks by yourself, which means instead of just knocking down what everyone else has built, you have learned to build yourself. Sometimes I’ll look in the den and you’ll be sitting there with a book in your lap, pointing out all the things you know. Once in awhile you’ll call out to me to tell me about it. More often that not, you’d rather crawl into my lap and have me read you a book….the same one we’ve been reading day after day. Not that I’m complaining…..

My dear William, happy birthday to you, here’s to being two!

(These pics are a few months old. I’m writing this during nap times and the time it would take to get recent pics onto my computer is more than I have to spare. I still love you.)

 

 

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