Sep 14, 2014

When the Men are Away...

Remember my Muskoka trip last fall?  (you can read parts one, two and three - if you like)  Well this year, that Bible center was running it's first fall men's retreat and weren't my Bestie and I all over getting our men to go!

And of course, they happily agreed! 


So on Friday, our men folk loaded into our little car and headed off!  And yes, I was left alone for two nights and three days with all four kiddos. 


Dun, dun DUNNN!!!







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No.  Actually we have had a pretty fantastic little weekend, just me and my four!  First, what has been a BIG help is that the baby is (mostly) napping in her crib! Yay!  She will usually do an hour, sometimes more, sometimes less - but it has made for an easy flow of other things.  Not to mention....which I'm pretty sure I have....but she's such a good baby!


And with Daddy gone and I having to divide my attention, I have been enjoying watching Joe play with Alice more. He's been good playing with her and me....sharing cars with both of us!!  He is liking her more and more and she just adores him...always keeping a curious and keen eye on him!







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And my boy and I got some serious one on one time this weekend as well!  Daddy being gone and all, I got all the loving - and that boy doted some serious loving on me!  He's been such a Daddy's boy since the baby was born - which has been good - but lately he's returned for Mommy love and that's been wonderful! 





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He's such a sweet little guy but He seriously doesn't stop moving!!  We had to take his crib for Alice and I worried that this busy boy would not stay in his 'big boy bed' - but he does...which is about the only time he is still - see, I captured the action...these are my attempts at getting one decent photo of him....





What a ham!!  But if he'll be still to sleep but not for photos... then I'll take that trade off, any day!



On Saturday, we were adventurous enough to head out to a birthday party.  What a hoot that was!! It was a Frozen themed party, complete with a guest appearance from Olaf! Ha!! The kids enjoyed it and I made some new parent friends - a new family from our daughters' school - lovely people and I look forward to getting to know them better!



The big gals were in school Friday but we got in some craft time this weekend too!  They made necklaces....from kits that we bought for them at Christmas! I'm so bad at actually getting these things out - I buy things for them and then never remember to use it with them!  But they were very proud of their designs and wore them to the party!





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Sunday, well...I decided against the adventure of church...I know I could have done it - but with Joe and the baby...what would I really have gleaned from it all...plus we had rented a movie and the morning was dreary....so we hunkered down in pj's, eating cinnamon buns and watching a girly fairy movie.....yes even Joseph watched it....sorta...





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After the movie and lunch, I had both of the littlest Littles napping - so I pulled out a painting craft for my big gals to enjoy!  You may be surprised, seeing as I'm so crafty myself, but we don't paint much around here...I don't usual have the patience or energy but this weekend we did it all!  Plus my gals are getting older, so these things are more enjoyable...for everyone!






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Right now, the kids are playing, the babe is napping and I'm about to get supper going.  Hubby should be home in a few hours - just after all the Littles are tucked into bed.  I'm sure he will have lots to say....he did already send a quick email and from what I gather, they made a new friend and that hubby didn't sleep well because of missing me and from the convicting message by the speaker...and that was just the first night!



It's been different not having my man here - this is the first time he has gone away - I've been away for a few nights (over our ten years!) - but it's not often we are apart!! I was a tad anxious on how it would go - I felt...rusty....having had him home for the past three and a half months and me just basically on baby duty and nothing else.  But I quickly found my groove and it feels good!



So the oven is preheated and the baby won't be napping much longer so I best get at it!  I eagerly await my hubby's return and I look forward to hearing what he learned this weekend....or do I???





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Sep 9, 2014

Hey, Momma, it's okay. You're doing fine!


To all the momma's out there, young, old, seasoned or new. 
Momma's of one, two or twenty two.  A letter to each and everyone of you! ♥






Dear Momma,


It's okay, you know!  You're doing fine!


No...you didn't brush your kids' hair last night...this morning or for the whole week....it's okay.  You got them dressed from the clothes in the dryer, yes they were clean, a tad wrinkled but your Littles are dressed - it's a good day!  You served them breakfast...cereal...where the colours are almost neon but you know they love it! They love how the milk is the colour of mud at the end but tastes like a candy store exploded in their bowl.

It's okay, you love them! You're doing fine!


Hey, Momma, it's okay....it's okay that your child has the best designer stroller, top of the line educational toys and post consumer recycled made sip cups, plates and bibs even!  You have their clothes cleaned, folded and the hangers labelled, it's a good day!  You serve your Little one fresh, close to home grown, food and they gobble up the organic pork sausages asking for a second helping of real maple syrup, which you politely decline.

It's okay, you love them! You're doing fine!


Well Momma, your Littles...they aren't so little now, are they?  Grown, married, some in school, some moved miles away.  Their clothes are no longer your concern...you no longer fight with them to put things away, you take a moment to tidy your now easy to clean laundry room, it looks...orderly, it's a good day!  You make your oatmeal, and while enjoying it, hot, you check your emails to hear the latest news of these grown up people and the new ones coming.  You sigh, in the quiet house, and take up your knitting needles.

It's okay, you love them! You're doing fine!


You see Mommas, all you mommas, it's how you love that counts.  How you love your Littles, how you love this role called motherhood, how you live it, that's all that matters! Whether you birthed your babes, or you opened your heart to house another's Little for a time or for forever - you are Momma!


This is a crazy role - motherhood!  It's no nine to five job, there is nothing else like it!  You never clock out, ever!  It changes day by day, moment by moment...and just when you think you've got it all packaged up and organized...it changes again!  You can't count on much, but you can count on those changes! 


And you can count on Him!  Our Almighty Father....the one who gave you the gift of being Momma!  He knew, when He chose you, that this little one needed what you offered....and you needed them!  And though, I'm sure, there are days where you think He must have been crazy to entrust you with the growth and nurturing of this wee one - He did, and you can rest in that!


Will you mess up Momma?  Oh yes! Yes, yes, yes!!  But and I say it again, just love them!  Love them how you know to!  Don't love them how the Momma at the play group does.  Don't love them how your sister does.  Don't love them like your husband does.  Don't even love them the way Grammy used to...even if she was the sweetest lady to ever live - love them the way you do!


Love them by teaching them about History, or Math, or Music!  Love them by building the biggest play structure you could imagine!  Love them by making homemade play-doh and then leaving them to play with it while you enjoy a, hot!, cup of coffee! Love them while you let them watch their favourite movie...for the third time in a row! Love them while you listen to their stories, as silly and non-sensical as they may be - soaking up every word!  Love them while you take a bath and let Daddy mind them!   Love them as you hang up their fifteenth piece of art work, that day!  Love them when they are sick and you wait on them hand and foot!  Love them when you buy all the licensed products because you can get enough of seeing their eyes light up when they see, "so and so!" Love them by colouring quietly.  Love them by making supper!  Love them by letting them 'get away with it' just once more! Love them....however you love them...but love them!


It doesn't....and it won't, look how it looks for anyone else!  God has given us many people in our lives to both inspire and learn from but He gave you, Momma, your little people and He knew what He was doing when He did it!  He knows that you are just the one to teach, guide and nurture this child of His.  He knows all the mistakes you will make but He knows how you do try! 


He also knows all the lessons these little people will teach you, Momma!  Oh the lessons!  Lessons in patience, empathy, in seeing the world anew again, patience, learning when to hold ones tongue, to play, to laugh, patience, to be silly, to take the seriousness of the fact that Teddy is hurt!, to imagine, to sing and dance, and of course, patience!


And all He wants from you, Momma, is to love these little people and honour Him while you do it!  To cast aside what the world, your culture, your well meaning 'friend', tells you - and love on these people! Love them in the way He leads you and they way you know how. 


So no matter if you are a baby wearing, a bottle feeder, a pay for chores, a let them take the family car, a cry-it-out, a homeschooling, a strict curfew, a movie marathoner, a nothing by take-out, a stay at home, a scheduling, a cartwheeling, a me-time finagling, a clothes shopping, a sport supporting, a van toting, Momma - you are, Momma!


And hey, Momma, it's okay.  You're doing fine!





Aug 31, 2014

Sentimental Sin

And so I sneak in a second post for August, getting it in just under the wire! ;)


Summer is officially over in a couple of days...I guess I should say, summer break!  This has been the first year where we had an obvious beginning and end to it - being as last year was the first year for the girls being in school....I wonder if that's why it seemed to pass so quickly?!?







And in a couple of days my oldest little ladies will return to their sweet school.  We were already back the other night for an open house, where we met and mingled with families from last year and some of the new families joining the school this year.


I'm ready though....not so much ready for them to return as I am ready for the return of routine!  We plan to begin/work on sleep training the baby when the girls return to class.  She did a half hour in her bed this morning - not too shabby for her first time!  I hope to get a regular pattern out of her and have her in her room for all naps and bed time soon.


I never like the sleep training bit....it always feels like it will never happen and I hate hearing them cry if/when it comes to them having to cry it out.  But I know that she will learn, they all have, and in no time my baby girl will be sleeping on her own and these precious baby day snuggles will be a memory!


I'm getting sentimental in my old age!
 

Actually...when I think about it...I'm becoming less sentimental....well...when it comes to material things, it seems.  I find, that as of late, the idea of holding onto things, for the pure sake of memory, is... tiring!  I've never been a minimalist, in fact, both hubby and I have pack rat tendencies.  But it seems with each year and each move that the idea of stuff, is just...overwhelming!


Now, Dave and I haven't moved a whole lot ourselves, two apartments and three houses in our ten years - but I do change rooms around....frequently....and in doing so, that's when I most notice all the things we have accumulated.


Especially this last move of bedrooms.  Where we tore out our closet..(a tad premature on the idea of dividing our giant bedroom into two rooms) and putting our oldest girls in our third floor and thus eliminating basically all of our 'extra' storage spaces.  So the items that were housed in the now-gone closet and tucked away nicely in our third floor are piled...yes, piled, in our master bedroom.


I look at this pile...knowing that we still have items stashed else where in the house, and I become anxious.  Stressed even, at the fact that we have this...stuff!  Stuff, after moving here just over two years ago.  Stuff, after two...or three?!?..giant purges!  Stuff. Stuff. Stuff! And well, I just feel done with it.





So why do I keep many of these things?  Because culturally I feel I must!  Take for example...my wedding dress.  It's tucked away, in a protective bag, in a storage space in our third level....it sits there...in the dark....tucked away... and has been...for Ten. Years.  Why do I keep it?? Because our culture says I should.  It says that the memory of my wedding is locked in that garment and to not have that article of clothing stashed away, to virtually never see the light of day, is what validates our wedding day.


Let's just forget the few hundred photos....


I have carried this dress through each move and held onto it through each purge...and for what?  Will my daughter's want to wear it someday...highly unlikely....will I wear it to our 25th or 50th anniversary... HA!!!  So why do I keep it....


It's just an example of the many pieces of sentimental....stuff...that we... I, keep.  This stuff that weighs on me...even when I don't realize it!  Now...please, I'm not saying that sentimental things are wrong...and even if I was, who cares, it's just my opinion after-all!  But what I am coming to realize is...that many items I "treasure" are only treasured because the culture I'm in says they have value.


But do they really?

 
With the loss of my dad, just over two years ago now, the idea of sentimental items....has been a bit touchy....a bit too real for me.  Things that once held some meaning became the only connection to someone I love...and have loss....


But it has also given me a fresh perspective on this idea of holding memories in items.  And in doing so the value that is placed on such...things...until they almost become idols...of a sort.  I have, now in my possession, things that my dad used, things he made with his own hands and things that he kept for his own sentimental reasons.


I have fretted over the stained glass lamp that hangs in my home...knowing that a tossed ball or thoughtless move of furniture could case this lamp to break....shattering into a million pieces...taking with it....him?!  No...he's already gone....the lamp is a wonderful reminder of him, of his thoughtfulness and his creativity...but it's not him....


Right after his passing, I feared greatly about the above mentioned incidences...knowing that whoever broke it would suffer a terrible wrath...my inner turmoil would be unleashed and ohhh they would know....know the awful, awful thing that they would have done....


Wow....real Christ like eh??


Choosing a thing over people?  Loving a thing to the point that imagining the possibility of what might happen and already knowing the out come....even to the detriment of someone else???  Strange, the importance the inanimate can take!







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I have since pondered on these feelings of mine...pondered on how an item can hold such precedence over other matters...like time spent, memories made and feelings ministered to.  How items we carry around with us...become almost a shrine to the memories kept with them.  How the fear about losing stuff...will somehow cause one to lose that which is associated with it....


...that if I sold or gave away my wedding dress...that my marriage would crumble???


What if you have a bad memory...and you feel these things are all you have...well I sympathize...because that is me.  My memory is less then admirable...and I barely can remember what happened last week, let alone, months or years ago...and so I take pictures....hundreds...thousands, of pictures!  Is that better?? No...not really....not if it evokes the same heart response!


The fact that I would run back into a burning building to save my laptop - thus all the pictures stored on it....says something about the level of importance these images have to me.  Is it wrong to want to treasure the past....I think it is. 

Philippians 3:13-14 says, "Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

As well as Isaiah 43:18-19; " 'Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.' "


And there are many other scriptures that talk about sufficient is today, not looking back and keeping our eyes on the works God is doing in our lives now


So I see plainly, in God's word, that treasuring the past and thus idolizing the items associated with it is certainly a sin.  Especially when these items take over your home and your heart!  I am coming to realize that the items that I associate with my wedding, my childhood....or even my dad...are just that...items.   


 
 
 
I do not think it is wrong to treasure memories, loved ones or special occasions. I think it is lovely to look back on photos and see how my children have their grandparents, ears, eyes or smile!  And I do not think it is a sin to see where God has brought you through the years....good...or bad.


What is a sin, is the place of honour we give to these memories. 


I have come to terms...for the most part...that the lamp from my dad....will probably...eventually, break.  And though in that moment...a small piece of my heart will deeply ache....I know that it was just a thing...that locked away in me is the memories and who I am is the product of who my dad was and what he meant to me!  That my wedding dress will someday be purged (it's really only a matter of when...) and that regardless of it's leaving my possession, I will still love and cherish my husband! 


 
 
 
And so....I am seeing in my sentimental sin....that I place importance on things and the memories of times gone, where I should be looking to the work on the cross...the only thing to be treasured! Holding onto things will not grant immortality, will not secure my loved ones memories...not the memories I have...nor what they have of me...but that my faith in Jesus and His death and resurrection are what grant me life eternal.


So...friends...keep those trinkets, keep the baby shoes, keep the hundreds of photos that make you smile...but keep them in the place they belong.  As temporal, earthly and fleeting.





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Aug 19, 2014

Cold and Quiet August Days

Well...yes...I have been a little silent this month....a few reasons I suppose...



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One...I don't have much to say that I haven't already said.  Basically the days are flying by fast, school starts in two weeks, my baby is three months on Thursday and I just don't know where the time is going!


It's been cool here...much too cool for most people...but I have to admit...I've been enjoying it!! It's like a prelude to autumn but without the feeling that snow is around the corner...unless it is...then I'm not so happy!  Buuut, I doubt the white stuff is going to fly anytime soon... today was much more normal for this time of year!!  But these cool days had me making chili and thinking of baking...and regretting the fact that I planted no pumpkins this year!





 
Even though it has been cool, we have gotten to the beach!  Not as often and I would have liked but at least we made it there a few times and with a newborn in tow! On our last trip there, I finally remembered to bring along a watermelon with us. It is essential beach food you know! Plus the kids love it...not me so much...I'm just weird I guess!  But anyways...I had wanted to try cutting it a little different - the way I have seen on...the Internet...(read, Pinterest!).  I tried the cubed cut way and it was GREAT for the kids!! Easy to eat and less mess....well...as less mess as eating watermelon can get!







I love this little beach of 'ours'!  It's super close to home and so perfect for kids!!  I wanted to "waste" much of the summer there....but the weather just hasn't co-operated!






So we have been busy indoors.  Bringing me to another reason for my absence online.  We have been in the process of  moving bedrooms around, then painting them, plotting new reno ideas and drinking far to much coffee!  The older gals we now have squared away in our third floor space.  It's a half story, really, and for a short time it was our "parent oasis" but that has changed.  I had originally intended to show you pictures of the before and after...but I did not get pictures of either....so I will try to remember to get photos of this space as our big girls' bedroom.  It's super cute up there and a much bigger room then I thought it would be for the two of them!  Still some things to finish up, like trim and better flooring (it's painted plywood right now) but all in good time!




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And Alice, well she's got her own room and it's well on it's way to being finished!  So far it's adorable...I'm really soaking up this little girl thing...something I never did with my older gals! I stayed clear of pink for them...over all...so let's just say, Alice's room is making up for all the pink I didn't have before! *wink!*  And this littlest one, she's doing so well!  Still sleeping through the night, still happy and content!  She's stared to laugh now and it's adorable!! And her smiles still melt my heart....and her daddy's!  ;)  And, like I said...she'll be three months old in a couple of days!! Crazy!!




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Our Joe is a growing weed!!  He is just over two and the size of most three year olds...and even some four year olds!! I kid you not!! He's a big boy, a very sweet big boy...and a very much two year old, boy!  He has a great love for his sisters...mostly to annoy and pester the older two and then a sweet, gentle...bop you with a car, love for his little sis.  He refuses to use the toilet...refuses...so we are still in the land of diapers....did you know we have been in this land (of diapering) for seven years now...isn't that a crazy thought?!






In all honestly it hasn't all been great....there have been days of kids fighting, hubby and I 'talking', baby fussing, toddler tantruming and just the downs of life that will always accompany the ups! But that's how it goes - life is all those ups and downs...and cool quite days or hot and loud or any combination in between...well, that is what makes up this time here on earth....and it's how my days have been this past while.


And well...I guess the short of it all is that, it's just been life happening around me....nothing exciting but....captivating, troubling, surprising, annoying, amazing, mundane, wonderful...life!













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Jul 23, 2014

Two Months, Too Fast!

And just like that - our baby girl is two months old!




I'm not one to keep a good record of these things, to mark the month by month kind of growth and changes - getting three out of four (so far) baby books, mostly, completed is an amazing feat!! But I was thinking of my precious baby girl and how so much has already changed in these two short months.


Even over the last month alone...see the changes from last month to this month's, 'Wonderland' photos!?!





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She's growing so fast!!

*sob!*
*sniff*


Okay...composing myself now...so I wanted to record some of the changes and little things I have taken the time to or just happen to, notice these past few days...


Just tonight, as I was trying to settle her - working on having her learn to fall asleep on her own better and maybe in the bassinet (?!?!), out of habit, I ran my lower lip across her forehead....and noticed...that sweet, sweet baby peach fuzz is gone!  There's hair there, longer, not fuzzy anymore, hair.






Her feet.  Still adorable!  Still one of the most edible bits on her!  But no longer that buttery soft, delicate, newborness.  Not that that stops me from snarffling them in any way!



 
 

I am noticing the rapid change in her eye colour! I think we will have our first brown-eyed beauty!!  She may go hazel like my second oldest gal - but I'm thinking....(and maybe hoping!? *wink*) that this little one will take after her momma!






And ohhh, her adorable faces....yes, ALL of them!! She has so many looks about her!!  I can't get over it!! I smitten by her cheeks, her chin, her sweet dimples...all four of them!  I love her lashes and eyebrows and her scrumptious ears!  All the bits and all the expressions - how they capture my heart so!?!



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And over these fast flying months, there is one thing I look back on so fondly - it is those first few nights in the hospital!  I don't think I can articulate how special those nights were!  I will never forget her precious little body, heavy in slumber, slumped on chest, using my breast as a pillow (lol!) and the amazing sound of her breathing - precious new life, a miracle in the flesh! If I pause, I can still feel the weight of her little body laying on me.


 
 

*sigh*




It's amazing how the days have flown.  How our littlest, Little is just such a completing part of our family!  And on that note...Dave and I have had some serious conversations about our family....and whether we are 'done' or not....it's really a hard decision....


For us...but probably with anyone, really...there are many factors to consider....but for me...and us...it's the fact that each pregnancy, after as many sections as I have had, comes with greater risk.  Greater risk for miscarriage and greater risk for myself.


But how to decide we are 'done'....that our family is...complete....and how to go about it....


A few years ago...about four months before I became pregnant with Joseph, Dave and I came to a realization that we had too much control when it came to how we viewed our two children and the idea of any more.  We realized that we needed to repent of our poor heart attitudes and give back control to God over this area of our lives. (more on that in this post) 


So recently we have revisited these revelations.  When we repented, at that time, we gave over the size of our family and the timing of when/if we were to have any more children, to God.  And I cannot ignore how richly and amazingly He has blessed us since!! 


But, now...a little over two years later, two more kids and two more C-sections...we stand...wondering what to do...


We know the Lord is the one who opens and closes the womb....but also, He gives us the means, tools and wisdom in many areas of life....so is this one of those areas....a place where we can just leave it all up to God and He will make the choice for us....or is having children a result of the act of love?  Where-in God has granted us the means to make a choice in this matter. 


Now, we know God is all powerful and that nothing...(but you know...not having fun!) is 100% guarantee for a means of birth control - I know that no matter our choice, God can over-rule it - I mean, we were told that we might not have any children....just saying....  I also know that God sees our hearts, He knows us and I know that He won't give us more then we can handle...but I know that He has granted much wisdom to us all.  I have looked through His word and it is easy to see how it talks about the blessing that children are and oh, I agree - but how many are a blessing?  Two, eight....sixteen???  Or one...is one still a blessing?


Of course they are!!  The answer really lies in our heart.  How we view the gifts that God has given, whether it be one...or twenty-one!  It lies in our hearts in the reasoning's behind the choices we make to have or not have some, any or more.  And I think at the end of it all there really isn't an answer....not a blanket, universal, I got it, you got it...answer!  What I do know is that, I'm crazy blessed!! I'm crazy happy with my Littles and love them more then I could imagine a person could ever love something!!


And with all these thoughts and wonderings, I think it is why each moment with my sweet Alice is beyond precious.  Why I linger to look at her, study her, when other duties are calling.  It's why I can't take enough photos, pause long enough to watch her sleep, or kiss her enough times.  And yes, it's why I certainly cannot hold her enough!!!

It may be my last time to soak in these precious baby days, of my own babies....our own blessings.
Then again...it might not be!

And...maybe it comes with age...or maybe experience....but whatever the reason...whether Alice is our last baby or we have oodles more....I can't express just how fast and fleeting the time is!  How they are newborns and needy to growing kids on the way to independence in, what feels like, a matter of mere moments...the days just don't slow down!

So I have slowed, where I can, pausing, when I can and soaking in each moment...while I can, of these ever fleeting and oh, so special moments!


*sigh*


Now excuse me while I go snuggle my little ones....





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