Thursday, October 9, 2014

People pleasing

You know who I really envy?

I envy those people who just don't give a damn.

I have spent many months and more money than I would care to admit in therapy discussing my issues with people pleasing. As much as I'd like to tell you that I have clear boundaries and priorities and don't let other people's expectations shake me, I don't. I've gotten better- you have to when you juggle parenting, working, graduate school, and family.  I know I can't please everyone, but I spend a lot of time agonizing over how to juggle life- asking permission from two out of three superiors to take this night off or turn this in late or leave early. 

Who's been there with me? Your kid gets sick, can't go to daycare. You take the day off. Your hubby gets sick and now you're taking care of two with a paper due in three days. Just as everyone is feeling better, your throat feels like it's on fire and you have to take another day off. 

While you're out, you miss two important deadlines and your kid eats goldfish and yogurt for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

I realize that I may be perceived as a flake, even when I feel like I work my ass off everyday. 

My parents have been so wonderful to keep reminding me that it's a season. And I'm sure when and if we have another child, I'll wonder what the heck I was so stressed out about back then when I only had one. 

I guess what I'm hoping is that my husband and I aren't the only jugglers here- that other people out there feel pulled in twelve different directions. 

And I'm also hoping that I can extend the same grace to you as I hope you do to me- because I know we are all doing what we need to in order to keep it together.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Here's to all the things you won't remember...

At precisely 10:58 am (or 10:57?) tomorrow, you will be exactly a year old. I do not have your father's way with words, but I do have a year full of memories that I want to make sure I record before they disappear.

Here are 365 things I remember about this year, one for each day you have blessed us with your life.

Just kidding. That would be ridiculous. Here are eight things I remember about this year.

1) You were a spitfire from the first minute I held you. I remember thinking you smelled really good, and that you were really pretty, and that I was so happy that you were actually a girl and I didn't have to go back and figure out a boy's name.

2) The nurse's first instructions to me as she wheeled me to the recovery room were to feed you every 2-3 hours during the day and 3-4 hours at night. What a joke. You didn't sleep a 4 hour stretch until you were 6 months old. You also didn't go 3 hours without eating until maybe last week. I took this picture of you on our first night together. Everyone had left, and I was awake with you. You refused to let me put you in that weird hospital Tupperware, so I spent two nights holding you in my arms, but terrified I would drop you, so I didn't sleep. This was the moment I remember falling in love. I still think you look really pretty here.

3) You still love it when I babywear. Thank goodness, because sometimes it's the only way this mama gets anything done.

4) You turned me into a hippie mama. You slept on me for the first four months of your life. Yes, on my chest. For months. (I thought I would miss that but...I don't. It was really sweet but also exhausting.) You also were a nursing champ. I'm not going to get all militant about breastfeeding, but it has been the one thing in this entire year I have felt that we really got the hang of.

5)  From day one, you've always made your will very clear. I spent countless hours with you wrapped in a Moby, doing mini-squats and lunges to keep you from crying. You used to hate riding in the car until, that is, we discovered your love of Taylor Swift music. I will forever be indebted to her for quieting my sweet baby. Sometimes you yell at me until I get down on the floor and play hide and go seek with you. I think you're a force to be reckoned with.

6)  You love to play the piano, the xylophone, the Baby Einstein's hoping you got some of your daddy's musical genes, because your mama can't carry a tune in a bucket.

7) I'm really thankful that you like to laugh with me. Otherwise, I'd feel even more awkward about the silly faces I make in public, or the number of times I jump out from behind a door and yell "BOO!" to your utter delight. I hope I'm not on The Truman Show. 

8) You turned our worlds upside down. This year hasn't been easy. If we had sat down with a financial planner in 2013, he (or she) would have LAUGHED at us for getting pregnant while we were both in school and employed as a writer and a public servant.
But you know, this year has taught us more about God's provision, the blessings of family, and the importance of keeping your priorities in check than we ever could have learned on our own.

So here's to you, my darling Scarlett fox. To celebrate, I have baked you a cake (allergen free, of course), thus finally showing you that my love language is truly carbohydrate based. May we always share a love of chocolate cake and sarcasm.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Stress Eating

This is the list of books I read this summer for graduate school and in preparation for my new job:

The Accidental Teacher by Eric Mandel
Drive by Daniel Pink
Strengthsfinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Everyday Teacher Leadership: Taking Action Where You Are by Michelle Collay
Effective Supervision: Supporting the Art and Science of Teaching by Robert Marzano
Improbable Scholars: The Rebirth of the Great American School System and a Strategy for America's Schools by David Kirp
Multiplication is for White People: Raising Expectations for Other People's Children by Lisa Delpit
Reframing the Path to School Leadership: A Guide for Teachers and Principals by Lee Bolman and Terrence Deal
Interactions: Collaboration Skills for School Professionals by Marilyn Friend and Lynn Cook
The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other by Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot
Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, and Al Switzler
Purposeful Co-Teaching: Real Cases and Effective Strategies by Gregory Conderman, Mary V. Bresnahan, and Theresa Pedersen

(A side note for nursing moms: download the Kindle app on your iPhone. Load all required reading onto said app. If you're nursing 6 times a day for roughly 15 minutes each time, you have just gained 90 minutes of quiet reading time. Make sure you make an eye appointment, however, as it is guaranteed that your vision will deteriorate at a more rapid rate thanks to the constant eye strain.)

 A stack (or in my case, a Kindle home screen full) of books can provide useful tools to these important conversations.

But sometimes working together for a common goal can be difficult. I'm learning how to communicate a shared vision and support and serve teachers in a new capacity, but I'm only a few weeks in. I struggle with hoping I'm doing a good job. I'm not sure if this is people pleasing or being a reflective learner, but either way, it can lead to one eating one's own weight in candy corn. Not me, of course. It's just a possibility of which one should be aware.

This evening, as I sit tensely on my couch enjoying the fermented fruits of California while I pray my daughter will settle herself to sleep and thus my blood pressure will return to a healthier level, I am thankful for the opportunity to grow.

As I coached my students, no one has yet arrived. In my classroom, I attempted to create a safe environment in which mistakes were accepted and viewed as springboards for change. But that advice can be hard to swallow. The vulnerability required to humbly grow is challenging. I hope I can work to create the safe environment that allows for meaningful change.
Struggle by Krissy.Venosdale, via Flickr

Monday, September 22, 2014

Balancing Act

Well, friends, for those of you following along at home, we have just completed month one of my New Job.

I spent six wonderful and challenging years as a classroom teacher, but this year, I was given the opportunity to work four days a week and coordinate our magnet  program and also work with intervention.

There's thankful, and then there's thankful. And that is how I feel about this new opportunity.

I love teaching, and my heart will always be in the classroom. But this is also my thesis year, and my girl will only be this little once, and I needed to take a break. The thing about classroom teaching, as I'm sure you all know, is that it is rarely confined to the hours of 8 am to 3:30 pm. The hours spent on parent conferences, extra duties, lesson planning, grading papers, writing report cards, and general worry for each child can be exhausting.

Friends, I can't tell you how good it does my heart to have time. 

This weekend, I met a friend at a park. I bought bread and sweet potatoes at the Farmer's Market. We went on three walks and played on the swings in the backyard and also made two batches of pumpkin muffins. I did not grade a single paper or plan a single lesson.

 It wasn't all sunshine. I had to wake up two hours before my family on Sunday to do my grad school work. There is still a huge pile of laundry that is not folded, it's just relocated.  This little one was super fussy. The darling hubs and I had an argument. But we had time to connect with her and work out our conflict and go to bed Sunday evening with peaceful hearts (and a mountain of laundry that has yet to be folded).

There are seasons of life, I know (thanks Ecclesiastes and the Byrds), and I'm hoping that this is one of balance.

Monday, September 1, 2014

How I spent my Labor Day vacation

Last night I was awoken at 1am to the familiar sounds of my daughter fussing. For those of you who know us, Joel and I seemed to have bred an energetic spitfire who doesn't take to sleeping on her own. Yes, I have tried that and no it did not work.

The funny thing is, I was rejoicing because she had slept from 7:30pm to 1am, the longest stretch I have gotten in a few weeks. Imagine my surprise when I was met with every bodily fluid- we had to change pajamas twice. How nice.

Of course, being the nervous mom that I am, I was terrified that she would puke again and I, in my sleep deprived stupor, would not hear it. So naturally, I kick Joel out of bed and make a baby safe area for her to cuddle up sweetly as she drifted off to sleep in the arms of her loving mother. 

Well, that was the plan.

Instead what happened was no less than 2 hours of Crazy Baby climbing all over me, kicking me in the chest, and literally jumping on the bed. 

Some of you know I used to sleep with her. For three months straight she slept upright on my chest, easing what I now know to be common colic. In month four, I returned to work and she slept in the crook of my arm, which sounds idyllic when Dr. Sears describes it but was a nightly battle to make sure I didn't lose circulation to my fingers. 

I remember wistfully thinking of the day when she would no longer want to cuddle, reminding myself that "The days are long but the years are short." That day came approximate five months ago. This kid wants her freedom. 

So, at 3:45 in the morning, I relented and set her down in her crib, where she slept for the next 3.5 hours until something deadly escaped into her diaper.

Needless to say, we both got showers this morning.

As I was typing this, my daughter was allowed to eat apple snack sticks (read: sugar coated apple flavored chips) for breakfast because shut up. That's why.

And to top it all off, I spilled coffee onto our beige couch, thus presenting the current dilemma: 
Do I spot clean that area, leaving the rest of the couch to look dingier by comparison, or do I leave said coffee stain in hopes people will think there is a permanent shadow on our couch?

Today was supposed to be a date day for Joel and I. We don't get out much and I can count on one hand the times the two of us have been on a date in the last year. We carve out time here and there, but with the two of us working and in grad school, it's not so easy.

On this Labor Day, I want to acknowledge all those mamas out there who are covered in puke, folding their third load of laundry this morning, and succumbing to the sweet silence that an episode of Curious George can bring. 

We may not get a day off today, but...

I don't have advice. I just have commiseration.

Monday, August 25, 2014

New favorite!

Last week, I  had this tickle in my throat. You know, the kind that fills you with dread as you picture the next week and a half of congestion and late night coughing fits. I drank tea. I took naps. And still, it felt like the Jaws theme music was playing in my head as I just felt...icky. Duh nuh. Duh nuh. Duhnuhdunuh!

Enter this new favorite product-the On Guard beadlets. This cute little package included some sort of immune boosting wonder, because I took a couple a day for a few days and I'm happy to report that nary a tissue was used!  It wasn't an instant cure, but I definitely never got the dreaded cold that invariably follows the sore throat. Bonus: they taste like Christmas! 

Let me know if you want to know more!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

I've Got This

For the past couple of years, our household has lived in a state of uncertainty. We rarely know what to expect from month to month or week to week. Our modus operandi has been to step forward without even seeing the path on which we walk.

We have made huge, life-changing decisions without much of worldly security. 

I am not a poster child of faith in that I have basically freaked out at every twist and turn. I'm not going lie: it can be a scary place.


In my years of teaching and working with children, I have had some kids who struggle with anxiety. A common theme for these kids is always wanting me to post the day's schedule on the board. They are the ones who walk into the classroom and immediately ask what we are doing. When disruptions in our schedule occur, they are the ones who sit, fidgeting, and ask a million questions  about how this will affect our plans.

Often, in a moment of exasperation, I answer, "Don't worry- I've got this."


I am a problem solver. When there is a crisis, my first instinct is to make a list.

A physical list.

 I am not exaggerating. In the hardest times in my adult life, I have made more lists than I care to admit, and I rely on these lists to create calm in my life. With each check mark I feel calm returning, but only temporarily.

Lately,  I think God is telling me to stop relying on these lists- these daily plans and schedules. My prayers revolve around endless questions and concerns as life disruptions have come.

The thing is, lists are good. Schedules are good. Plans are good. But I have made them the Ultimate. Rather than seeking Him, I seek the Plan. The next step. The security of being able to check every box. 

"Don't worry. I've got this."

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.- Matthew 6:33

Saturday, August 23, 2014

This post took me entirely too long to write.

Blame it on my upbringing, my elementary school professional experience, or my burgeoning type A personality, but I am constantly aware of the rapid passing of time.

When I was in college, I read this book by John Piper called Don't Waste Your Life. In all honesty, I read the back cover and first two pages, which is generally how things go with me and John Piper. It kind of messed me up because ever since then, I have been terrified of wasting time.

In an attempt to describe how my brain works, I tend to visualize units of time like Tetris pieces that need to fit together perfectly. I wake up every morning trying to guide those little pieces into comforting alignment.

This leads me to do crazy things like read textbooks while I nurse and freak out if I buy too many fresh vegetables for fear I won't have time to cook them before they rot.

Are you familiar with The Five Love Languages? Can you guess what mine is?

I have written before about how I am learning how to sit and be still, and I say learning because it lets me get away with not actually "getting" it.

 One of my favorite things about my daughter is that she doesn't care about time. She doesn't care that it's Nine O'Clock and Should Be Nap Time because she's ready to play. She does this really cute thing where she'll be nursing and suddenly stop, look me in the eye, and start cracking up. She's not thinking about the fact that if she doesn't eat now, that will push mommy's departure time back 10 minutes, making her late for a meeting.

It can be maddening, but I envy it.

But mostly, I'm thankful that she's teaching me that time is less of a thing to be managed and more of a gift to be joyfully given.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What a mama

After a stressful week of working 40+ hours, barely seeing my little one, and being hit with one "lemon" after another, I let my hubs put the baby to bed and drove over to the house of a dear friend. After putting her sweet daughter to bed, we poured glasses of red wine and ate freshly baked chocolate chip cookies which I'm sure have healing properties, both physically and spiritually. And after hashing out our lives of late, we anxiously spoke of our relationships with our girls and hoped that our daughters would love us and we would love them and we would have sweet relationships with them into adulthood.

Something I couldn't have understood until becoming a parents myself is that I am legitimately obsessed with my daughter. Think what you want, but when I look at her, I see the most beautiful little girl in the whole world. Thinking of her slamming the door on me after a hormone-fueled argument or knowing that she may see my name pop up on her caller ID (or whatever they'll have in 15 years) and not taking my call...well, it's almost more than I can handle.

We thought of moms and daughters who have good relationships, knowing that every relationship has its flaws and trials. They shared one common theme.

That mama loved the Lord. She took the time to cultivate her own relationship with Jesus and fostered the same in her daughter. 

My own mom is the daughter of a Brit and went to boarding school in England, so she was my "mum." 

Mum prayed with me and answered all my God questions and although she has always worked full-time, I have never felt that she didn't have time for me. I remember talking with her while she cooked dinner or ironed in the kitchen, and even now I'm sure I take up way too much of her time by calling on the phone a few times a week. 

What a blessing it is to have a mother whose heart is close to the Lord's. How much I hope that my daughter can say that of me.  

"Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!"
-William Ross Wallace (1865)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Why I am The Rookie

My sweet husband believes I should not dub myself as the Rookie.

The more I learn, the more I do, the more I experience, the more I realize how little I know.

As I begin my 7th year as a professional educator, I am leaving the classroom that I love in order to pursue three things:

1) More time at home.  I will be working 4 days out of the week, leaving one sweet extra day to play with my little girl.
2) Time to complete my thesis year of graduate school. I'm extremely excited about the ideas swirling around my head in this arena!
3) An opportunity to grow professionally as a magnet coordinator and intervention specialist.

While I have years of classroom experience, I am a new mom. I am new to this job. And while I am anxiously excited, I am ready to start a new journey! It seems, however, that I've been "starting a new journey" every year for the past 10 or so. And thus, regardless of my station in life, I hope I remain the Rookie.

 This year. Work during nap time with toys in the background.... It's crazy and I love it.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Filled with joy

I have a sweet friend with whom I share a picnic table during recess time. She and I talk about love, life, God, our dreams. I love her because of her authenticity, and the fact that I can be authentic with her. We all need friends like that.

This week, in between refereeing soccer spats and oh-so-kindly reminding students to stop running into the carpool loop, she asked me, "What brings you joy right now?"

(Like I said y'all, this friend is legit.)

I thought about the big areas in my life right now. Her sweet question caused me to reflect all week on how much I have to be thankful for.

I love my job. It's hard and exhausting and sometimes frustrating but I truly love my job. I am passionate about public education, and even with all the craziness surrounding my profession lately, I have a lot of fight left in me. 

I love being a student. I couldn't wait to start my masters after completing my undergrad degree. I'm curious by nature (and nurture- my mom is the same way!) and I get really excited about learning something new. 

I love my family. I have more than a husband. I have a best friend. And my daughter is the most beautiful creature I have ever laid eyes on. Spending time with them is pure delight.
Yes, my days are busy. But they are full- full of things I love to do. 

The Lord has done great things

For us and we are filled with joy.

(Ps. 126:3)

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Daylight and Quaker Oats

There's this Quaker granola bar commercial that features a haggard looking mom who pours OJ in her kid's cereal and groans when she realizes she has donned two different pointy-toed heels to work. All of her problems are miraculously solved, however, when a hot air balloon appears outside of her window, bearing gifts of dried fruit and granola in a neatly wrapped package. Suddenly, she is bright and beautiful again, even shooting hoops with the fam! The wonders of oats, I tell ya.

I have this strong and annoying desire for a quick fix in my life. I want my solution to sail in on a hot air balloon, too.

Maybe it's our modern American life, but I doubt it. The Israelites were the same when they built a golden calf when Moses was up getting those commandments (dude, I'll be right back) or despaired that God didn't bring them swiftly to the promised land.

It's the condition of our human souls, I think, to desperately want an end to suffering. I'm not sure the desire for quick fixes is a bad thing. I mean, if healing can come quickly, by all means, PLEASE bring it. 

But the real problem for me is my lack of trust in the Lord and impatience by working outside of His will for a quick answer.

I'm in a season now. It's one in which I have blessing upon blessing but fear upon fear that it will all go away. It's hard to talk about but I imagine I'm not the only one that deals with anxiety. It's also not the first time this has happened, but I'm supposed to be able to pray Philippians 4:6 and all my mental anguish will disappear. But it doesn't. Or maybe I should take a pill, and it will all be better. But it isn't.

I am in this struggle to discern if I have a chemical imbalance or a spiritual one, and in realizing the answer is probably both, I'm tempted to despair.

Because I really want a quick fix. I want to take a special pill or pray a verse and be able to sleep at night.

There's this Barenaked ladies song from the 90's. One line goes "You gotta kick at the darkness till it bleeds daylight." Answers may take a while. They may not sail in on a balloon. They may not even come this side of heaven. But it will happen. For we serve the One who is the Light of the world (John 9:5)

I think maybe this is one where I'm just gonna have to sit here for a while, kicking at darkness, praying for Daylight.

Monday, February 10, 2014

We pause from our regularly scheduled deep thoughts to bring you...

The much requested post about my freezer meals since returning to work.

I am a graduate student, full-time teacher, and mommy. I used to be busy. Now I'm just crazed. I'm also doing this thing where I'm trying to lose the last eight pounds of the fifty I put on with the Sweet Potato, so in addition to doing the Bikini Body Mommy workouts (found here), I'm trying to eat at home more.

*as I type this, I'm eating from a pint of dark chocolate gelato. it has antioxidants, right?*

I get home around 4, just in time for Sweet Tater's last nap of the day. No way on this green earth am I going to bang around pots at pans at this time, or I will face the wrath of a Grumpy Baby and ain't nobody got time for that.

She wakes up around 5:30, and I wash out her bottles from the day, workout next to her while she tummy-times-it-up, nurse her, bathe her, and put her to bed. At this point, I lesson plan or do homework and pass out at 8:30. So yeah, cooking is low on the totem pole of priorities.

We're over a month into this new system, and here is what has worked. Twice now I have had a marathon cooking session wherein I destroy my kitchen and stock my freezer.

A few notes:

1) I don't have recipes for everything. I'll link to the ones I have, but mostly, the meals are easy and made up.
2) I use a lot of cheap and quick ingredients. Russet potatoes instead of red, fresh kale, jasmine rice instead of brown (cooks faster), and ground beef instead of stew beef. I also buy canned beans like they're going out of style, even though dry are cheaper. But not faster. You catching my drift?
3) I bought those foil tins from the Dollar Tree and also some gallon freezer bags. Bags of soup sounds gross but it is what it is.
4) Sides include Jiffy cornbread (can't beat 33 cents a box), sweet potatoes (sounds eerie now, eh?), and bagged salads if they're on sale.

Round one 
Buy the huge tube (ew) of ground beef and brown it all. Divide into half lb or 3/4 lb portions. Whatever you don't use can be frozen and used for a quick pasta and meat sauce dinner. I ended up with 6 bags from a 3 pound tube (ew). I also buy the bags of frozen chicken. They honestly gross me out unless I put them in the crock pot and they're cooked to shreds. Then I used them for the chili and tamale pie. Roasted red peppers are super easy, so when bell peppers are on sale I buy a ton. Then I throw them in pretty much every recipe.

Black bean pie (I added a little ground beef)
Beef chili (Three bags)
Tamale pie (I made two)
The Pioneer Woman's Mac and cheese (This was more to satisfy a took a little too long, but I made three pans)
Baked Ziti
Chili pie (basically the small amount of chili I had left in a pie crust with cheese on top)
Oatmeal breakfast bars *
Roasted red pepper quiche**

*I've made these a few times and am obsessed. They're really cheap and easy. Unlike me. Ha. I mash up 3 bananas, throw in oats, a little sugar, 2 eggs, and whatever random baking ingredients I have (chocolate chips, coconut, cranberries, etc). I ran out of vanilla so I used almond extract. And, because I'm nursing, I added four tablespoons of brewer's yeast and a few tablespoons wheat germ. It makes them kinda bitter, but I can smear peanut butter on them in the morning and for about 350 calories, I have a pretty filling breakfast.

**Quiche is one of those catch-alls. I just throw my leftover veggies, meat, and cheese in with four eggs and about a cup of milk and pour it in a pie crust. So I don't really have a recipe, but I make it all the time.
Sometimes I make extra filling and bake it in muffin tins, sans the pie crust. It's a quick breakfast that way.

Total for groceries was about $180, including our breakfast and lunch stuff.

Round Two
Chicken pot pie (2)
Bacon and Red Pepper Quiche (2)
Potato and kale soup with bacon (if you puree boiled potatoes with chicken broth in the blender it turns out like a creamy soup!)
Beef stroganoff (2)
Beef and rice casserole (3) (made from leftover rice, veggies, and ground beef)
Chicken and dressing casserole (3)
Chicken Pesto Alfredo Pasta (4 pans!)

I came home from grocery shopping ready to tackle round two of freezer meal cooking. It was a little hectic, but here's what I did:

-In the oven, I put bacon, cornbread, red peppers, and chicken breasts to bake. It was a little crowded in there!
-In the crockpot, I added a bag of that frozen chicken.
-I browned 3 lbs of beef,  boiled two boxes of pasta, and boiled a bunch of potatoes.
-When I had room on the stove top, I made stove top stuffing, sauteed celery and a bag of chopped onions, made rice andd two bags of mixed veggies.

As things finished, I put them in large ziplocs or tupperware in the fridge. The next day, I threw the components  together. For example, the pot pie is basically chicken, mixed veggies, celery, and a cream of chicken soup.  The pasta was some mushrooms and tomatoes (I didn't even cook them...), chicken, pasta, a jar of pesto and a jar of alfredo, and some shredded cheese. 

I labeled the tins and threw it all in the freezer. I'm amazed if you stuck with me this far!

Here's your prize: a picture of my freezer:
Happy cooking!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

The Old and the New

my facebook feed is taken up by three categories of news items:
1) sponsered ads for weight loss products. guess they have me pegged.
2) friends with babies. lots of babies eating rice cereal for the first time or rolling over or staring blank-eyed into the iPhone camera for a mommy/baby selfie. i love every picture because i am guilty of posting dozens of snapshots of my Sweet Potato, and i now understand the joy behind each picture.
3) friends without babies doing Very Interesting Things. like jumping off cliffs in australia, wandering the streets of paris, or eating a molten lava cake at the chili’s. i literally lump all of your pictures together now, as they speak of an Old Life.

there was a certain amount of dying to self (which is a Christian way of saying suck it up)  when I got married. my goals now had to be meshed with Our goals and my desires sometimes took a backseat to serve my spouse. i say sometimes because i have a strong desire to still Do My Own Thing and Voice That Assertively.

but The Sweet Potato has a much louder voice and stronger will. so when she came along, suddenly, i did not exist for any purpose other than keeping her alive and comfortable.

in my first few weeks post-partum, i realized how many things were now in my Old Life. i had done my fair share of traveling. i stayed out till all hours with best friends on the weekends. i had casually gone shopping at Target with nothing but a debit card and a cell phone.

my daughter, until very recently, nursed every two hours round the clock. in the first few weeks, she seemed to nurse every hour. i felt like i  couldn’t see friends, go on car rides that lasted longer than 7-10 minutes, or have a conversation with the husband. i realize this is what it means to have a newborn baby, and i knew it would change things, but until it happens, it’s a little shocking.

now that we are working on settling the Sweet Potato into her nighttime routine in a crib, any social engagement after 7pm seems like a long  ago dream.  

i say all these things, not to complain, but to illustrate that a very stark line was drawn on October 4. that line separated the Old from the New. and this New thing is costly.

but the Good things in my life are just that-costly.  marriage has been costly. my education (holy cow yes it has been) is costly. and the Sweet Potato is costly.

which got me wondering about the Best Good Thing-my relationship with Jesus. how costly has it been? typing that is a bit scary. but leaves me wondering….my sacrifices as a mother have just begun but they pale in comparison to the treasure of having my daughter. how much more would i like to say that i have forsaken the good things to treasure the Ultimate.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

As I Sit Pumping

You may feel weird about that picture but now that it's a daily routine for me, it's about as regular as brushing my teeth. Actually, it's more regular than brushing my teeth.
* It's also one of those things moms do all the time but nobody really talks about, and as breastfeeding produced an inordinate amount of anxiety within me during my first few weeks as a mommy, I'm determined to communicate openly about it so that other new mommies don't feel nervous or awkward to do or discuss what is just about the most natural thing in the world. Soapbox over.*

Anywho, I pump twice a day during work. I'm grateful to work in a school that gives and gives and gives, so I have 15 minutes of coverage every morning and a planning period every afternoon to make sure my kid has the benefits of breast milk when I'm working hard for da money.

That means twice a day, I have to stop everything I'm doing and sit very still in a locked room.

It can be a slight inconvenience, especially if I'm in mental flow and want to finish a task. Because an object in motion will stay in motion, I tend to come in like a wrecking ball (yep, I went there) during the school day. 

So basically what happens is I'm in the middle of grading, or typing an email, or doing some other Monumentally Important Task, and I look at the clock and realize it's time to go. Everyday I think about skipping it, but The Sweet Potato has this weird thing where she has to eat every few hours. I dunno. We'll ask the doctor about it. 

This time, however, has become a blessing. That's a Christian way of saying it's a good thing that maybe I didn't see before.

It's a required time to rest.

Think. Pray. Be still.

The Lord has built in pauses in my day out of His grace, knowing I'm not so good at them myself. I love how He knows what we need even before we ask Him. 

my mind is a hostile work environment

here we are, knee-deep into the hustlebustle of work, school, and mothering. i a little bit love my life right now, although it’s full of craziness. here is my reasoning: i love my daughter and i love my husband and i love teaching and i love learning and pretty much that’s all i do. i try to maintain that perspective when i’m super duper tired.

something i learned last week is that i am not superwoman and nobody wins a medal for running yourself into the ground. (or being able to button your pre-pregnancy pants at four months post-partum, for what it's worth).

last week, we were blessed with four snow days, only one of which included dangerous driving conditions for our neck of the woods. i still had workdays, but was able to spend extra time snuggling with my daughter. and filling up with an extra dose of you shouldas and oughttas. how annoying. why does the highly prized beast of productivity and efficiency smack right into the blessing of rest and relationship? will it always be this way?

i find this is a recurring theme in my life lately. i am horrible at relaxing but long for it to no end. the thought of eternal rest, to be completely honest, terrifies me. what does this say about the core of my soul? do i glorify my ability to produce and accomplish? have i turned a good thing into an ultimate thing? we were created to work and commanded to rest and maybe this is the tension i must live with this side of heaven.

Monday, February 3, 2014

on becoming type a

i have a wonderful husband. he is loving and helpful and caring.
he also has a massive case of add. like, lots of ritalin add.

up until about a year ago, i would not have described myself as an organized or efficient individual.

i have heard of cases in which a person loses one important sense (like vision) and their hearing becomes so much stronger in order to compensate. because i have chosen to tie my life to this man in such a way that the two become one, his sweet, (mostly) endearing lack of organization has created a multitasking monster in me.

this afternoon, i pumped while unpacking groceries. i regularly grade papers while eating lunch, plan curriculum at recess, and clean the kitchen while cooking dinner.

life is a bit crazy for us. i am now a mom. a parent. i have a daughter. (can you tell it still sounds new to me?) my daughter is beautiful and sweet. she has emerged from the “fourth trimester” just in time for me to return to my regularly scheduled job as a third-grade teacher and graduate student.

i became pregnant last year just as i had decided to return to graduate school full-time in addition to my teaching career and working in the afterschool program. yes, i am crazy. yes, it was hard, but to be completely honest, i’m extremely thankful for that time. i learned how to do fourteen things at once. i learned how to manage my time, prioritize the important things, and say no to everything outside of the important. i also learned my limits. i pushed myself too hard sometimes, and had to learn to rest.

when i am at work, these new skills are invaluable. i used to be the last one done with any task, and now i’m much more efficient. but when i come home to my sweet baby girl, i had a learn a new skill.

i am learning to breathe.

these are things i tell myself often: 

it’s ok that there are toys all over the floor (and my daughter can’t even put them there). 
it’s ok that there is clean and dirty laundry in literally every room in our house. 
it’s ok that our yard is the only one in the neighborhood that isn’t raked. like ever.

my new type a self is learning (read: has not yet mastered the concept) it’s more than ok.

my beautiful sweet potato is asleep on my chest. i fight daily that anxiety to run around and get things done. she has caused me to stop and slow down because i literally cannot get up when she is sleeping. i can stare at the dirty floor or my daughter's chubby cheeks. that floor isn't going anywhere, but soon my sweet potato will.

New Year's Eve Post. In February.

2012 was not my year. At this point last year, I was happy only because I was kissing the past 365 days goodbye. The year was marked with some dark times, and it turns out you can live on less money and more heartache than you thought possible. It turns out there isn’t a quota on setbacks or grief. I realize 2012 was more difficult for many, many people in the world. If I were to compare, our trials were not so significant. But when you are living in the trials, perspective is hard to maintain. Either way, I rang in the new year with much less sobriety than the year contained.

Today, I am typing this as my baby girl sleeps peacefully on my chest. Fairly soon into the year, I became pregnant with my daughter, whom shall henceforth be referred to as The Sweet Potato.

I have never been more aware of the passing of a week than I was this year. Each week when you are pregnant or have a newborn brings a new development.  Many developments were exciting (She has fingernails! She can lift her head!) but many brought fear (Will there be a heartbeat? Will she make it to term?) I have never known fear like I have as a mother. This is a whole new ballgame of anxiety. Yes, I should keep calm. But I am acutely aware of the incredible responsibility of keeping this little girl alive.

This year, I am learning to trust. I have felt like Wonder Woman, thinking “I carried this baby. I have fed this baby to her chunky-cheek status with my body.” But in reality, every heartbeat and breath is a gift from the Lord. As much as I would like to say it was me, it wasn’t. She was formed by a loving God in the secret of my womb, before I even knew of her existence.

While there is no quota on setbacks, it turns out there is no quota on joy. I have learned about the amazing providence of the Lord. He has provided financially, yes, but He has also provided immeasurable joy. He truly has restored unto us the years that the locusts have eaten, as described in the book of Joel. (I even was reminded of that verse the day before my husband, Joel, was offered a new job this year).

God wasn’t absent last year. He didn’t forget about us or delight in the heartache, but I can now see His hand in a way I didn’t last year. My vision was cloudy. I can see a little more clearly now. 2012 was not a cup of total bitterness, just as there were not-so-sweet times in 2013. But now I can see that in Him, my cup can be full.