Friday, June 14, 2013

This is Parenting...

Lately I've been getting up early to go on a long walk before my kids wake up. (My pregnant body seems to appreciate walking a whole lot more than weight lifting and Insanity DVDs. Go figure.) I absolutely love this time. The air is cool. No one is stirring about yet. And I have an amazing view of the whole Silicon Valley. I've been using the time to listen to worship music and pray.

I think about my boys a lot while I'm walking. I think about how the day went yesterday and what we have in store for today. I feel bad about the moments I fussed at one of them over something insignificant and smile as I remember funny comments they said. I pray great big world-changing prayers on their behalf while they sleep peacefully in their beds. And it is amazing to me just how much I love them while I'm out there walking.

Then I get home.

They typically wake up right about the same time I get home and, Folks, sometimes it's not too pretty.

You see, my kids gross me out multiple times a day. They show me lugees on their tongue as I lean down to kiss them. They fart really loud and then ask if I like their new perfume. They put things in their mouths that explain why God gave us white blood cells.

Not only that, but my kids can suck peace out of a room faster than that squirrel ran across my kitchen floor. Andy could have just enjoyed an hour long time alone with God while I basked the serenity of my walk. Peacefulness is radiating throughout our home until that bedroom door crashes open and out they roll. They may kick each other full force in the stomach and then stare blankly at me when the other one starts crying. They snatch toys, they laugh at their own meanness, and gleefully do things to make the other person mad.

On top of this, there is the element of their childishness. They can make a mess in 5 minutes that will take 45 minutes to clean up. They tell jokes that don't make sense and aren't funny but require a pleasant response (over and over and over). They lose library books, break things, and get stains on their brand new clothes. They require the same verbal instructions way more times than I deem necessary and take an excessively long time to do simple tasks. They are opinionated, demanding, and have put me in the category of waitress, maid, and chauffeur.

I began to see a pattern forming. Every morning I would pray these wonderful prayers about who God wants me to be as a mom and what He is shaping in my children's lives. Every morning I would have expectations of peace, joy, and laughter in our family. "Today," I determine, "I will enjoy my kids. They are my gifts from God." But then by the end of breakfast, I'm contemplating escape plans.

What went wrong?

I found myself reflecting on this question as I washed up the breakfast dishes, disgusted with the way the last 30 minutes had just unfolded. And then a thought popped in my head.

"This is parenting."

I like to think of parenting as Bible stories before bedtime, trips to Yogurtland, picnics at the playground, family movie nights, and wrestling matches in the living room. I like the way my children look when they're sleeping or laughing or focused on constructing something out of Legos. I like it when they play independently or peacefully with each other for extended periods of time.

Yes, that's the kind of parenting I signed up for.

But that's not the whole of parenting. Parenting is also rough edges of personalities, awkward quirks that drive you nuts, bad attitudes, lack of gratitude, cleaning up messes, and laundry. Oh, the laundry!

It's the whole kit & caboodle. You can't have one without the other. It is glorious and it is humiliating. It is energizing and it is draining. The same children that make you smile will make you cry, and those who fill up your heart can also break it.

This is parenting.

God is using them to refine us just as He is using us to train them. 

So, if you've ever wondered, "Shouldn't I be enjoying this more? What is wrong with me? What is wrong with my kids?" just know, you are not alone. You are a parent, and this is parenting. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Summer Reading

My summer reading list is getting a little out of control. For some reason, I seem to have really high hopes that I'm going to come across a ton of free time this summer and will be able to devour a ridiculous amount of books. My high school English teacher would be proud that I still enforce "summer reading" upon myself. Thankfully, though, Jane Eyre is not on the list!

Mercy Triumphs by Beth Moore
This is what I am doing for my Bible Study this summer. I've already completed week 1 and it is SO refreshing to me! Really enjoying it already.

And the Word Came With Power by Joanne Shelter
This is the story of how God worked through a couple missionaries in Philippines to to show His great power. I love true stories of courageous men & women who give their all for the KING and His Kingdom!

Seven by Jen Hatmaker
This is the story of one women's journey to eliminate excess in her life so that she could enjoy God more fully. My friend recently read this and was challenged to make some "crazy" adjustments to the way she lives. I can't wait to see what God challenges me to do.

For the Children's Sake by Susan Macaulay
This was a book recommended to me by our homeschooling curriculum. It explores the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason and lays a framework for effective education through a biblical lens.

Grace Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel
I've been listening to this audiobook and it has been so insightful. I great perspective on parenting and creating a healthy home environment. I feel like I would get even more out of it if I had the book in front of me, so I may order a hard copy as well.

Home Schooling 101 by Erica @ Confessions of a Homeschooler
I follow Erica's blog and have found her stuff tremendously helpful in setting up our home school. I've used a lot of her resources, so I was pretty excited when she recently released this book on how to get started. Goodness knows, I need some help in this area...I feel like I'm fumbling around in the dark most days.

Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer
I'm reading this book because I really enjoy this author. I recently finished another one of his book about Mount Everest called Into Thin Air. Fascinating. This one is about the Mormon church, plural marriage, and fundamentalist off-shoots of the Mormon church. It's kinda a disturbing book, but it really makes you think about the nature of religion in society.

Come Be My Light by Mother Teresa
I've never read anything by Mother Teresa, but her life intrigues me. Every story I hear about her makes me want to know her better. So, I finally ordered this book to hopefully catch a glimpse inside her heart and mind.

Here's to a few plane trips, long car rides, and laying by bodies of water... Let the Summer Reading begin!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

IT'S A...

Last night was one of the happiest nights of my life. 

A few weeks ago my friend, Mandy, said she'd like to do some type of gender reveal celebration for us.    Boy, did she ever pull off something great!

Mandy is my "we're in this together" friend. She and her husband, Filipe, were the first to join us in taking ownership of the vision of South Bay. They sold virtually everything they owned, moved across the country with us, and have labored side-by-side with us as South Bay turned from a vision to a reality.We raise our children together, vacation together, and share life's ups and downs with each other. She has walked this whole journey with me emotionally...from the years of infertility, the excitement of pregnancy, the devastation of losing the baby, the timidity of beginning another pregnancy, and now this... 

Last night before the reveal she said (without crying, amazingly!), "I have prayed for this baby for the last 5 years." What a gift. What a friend. 

As I looked around at the friends who were gathered, I knew each of them knew our story. Each of them had prayed prayers on behalf of our situation. They grieved with us in our pain and were pulling for us every step of the way. The joy of last night was magnified because of the back drop of pain it was cast against. 

Mandy called in the A-Team of party planning and they pulled off such a special, beautiful, and fun party. (She promised me they would keep it simple. I told her I think she must have a different definition of the word "simple"!) It was a night full of laughter, excitement, hugs, and tears of joy. 

 Yummy desserts with an adorable banner

Everyone had to vote whether they thought the baby would be a 
"Bow" or "Bowtie". This group was betting on a girl! 

Here are the bowties. 

It was really late on the East Coast, but my sister & mom insisted that they wanted to stay 
awake and be apart. I Skyped my mom and Facetimed in my sister. Love technology!

No one at the party knew the gender. Even my friend who brought the balloons had 
someone else prepare the balloons for her. There was SO MUCH anticipation and 
excitement in the air! That moment was more wonderful than anything I had hoped for. 

It's a GIRL!!!!!!!

Here are all the girls celebrating another addition to our tribe! Don't let the silly faces 
fool least half of these ladies were in tears moments earlier. What a joy to 
have friends who love you so deeply!

 Here's a 45 second clip of the reveal! I've watched it at least a dozen or two times!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Doing Life Together

Occasionally someone at South Bay that I may or may not know will tell me that they have been reading my blog. I always love it when people tell me they're out there because it inspires me to keep writing and it gives me a better idea of who I'm writing to.

Recently one sweet gal came up to me and began telling me how much she had been enjoying reading my blog. Then she said a phrase that made me laugh out loud and meant the world to me at the same time. She said, "I feel better about my life when I read about yours."

I loved that. I read (or avoid reading) plenty of blogs that make me feel worse about myself...I don't do enough crafts with my kids. My home looks like a single guy decorated it. My days are spent cleaning up messes and folding clothes while she's out writing books and changing the world. And on, and on, and on.

While it is not my goal to air all of my dirty laundry in cyber-space, it is a huge value of mine to be authentic. In my opinion, the last thing this world needs is one more person pretending like they've got it all together. We benefit a lot more from people who are willing to share their struggles, trials, and failures. It's the stuff life is made of, and the way we respond to those difficult moments will shape our lives.

We are ALL works in progress. We ALL have days that leave us cringing in frustration over things we wish were different. And, if we are willing to let the guard down and be authentic, we can ALL experience the grace of God that is ours for the journey.

So, let someone in today. Not in a TMI-weird-major-over-sharer kind of way. But in a let's-do-life-together kind of way. I'll splash some grace on you while you splash some grace on me. I'll follow your lead on paths you've walked before, and I'll invite to join me in the journey God has me on.

Instead of desperately focusing on our own image control, let's be willing to allow others to feel better about their lives when they look at ours. The road's a lot more beautiful when we do this journey together. 

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

All About Andy Day!

I’m not sure anything gives me more joy than planning and pulling off something really special for someone that I love. 

I realized a few weeks ago that our family would be traveling on Andy’s birthday AND Father’s Day this year. Poor guy. That’s not a very fun way to spend your special day. So I started racking my brain for ideas of what I could do to make those events meaningful celebrations. 

After pursuing half a dozen options, I finally landed on “All About Andy Day”. On Thursday morning I gave Andy the following paper to let him know that the next day would be his special day!

Thursday afternoon I picked up Andy’s dream car (a Jeep Wrangler) from a friend of ours. They were so gracious to allow us to use the car all weekend. It made the whole experience feel like a rugged adventure. So fun!

After the boys went to sleep on Thursday night, I prepped all of our food for the picnic the next day. Andy prefers healthy food, so In-N-Out was not an option on a day especially crafted for him. Made egg salad, assembled fruit kabobs, sliced fresh veggies, and whipped up some homemade hummus. 

I told Andy, "I think I must express love through thoughtfully prepared food!"

Friday turned out about as perfect as a day could be. One minor glitch in the plans was that Andy didn't really get to "wake up slowly and snuggle with his boys" due to the fact that his boys thought it would be great fun to bust out of their room at 6:40 and begin opening and slamming all the upstairs doors. Oh well. Not all variables can be controlled. :-/

A yummy breakfast

Andy went for a long walk while I made these beauties.

We hit the road a little after 10 and took the scenic route to Santa Cruz.

We stopped at a playground to play and enjoy our picnic.

Who do you think had the most fun at the playground? Watch this 6 second video to find out!

After the playground, Andy introduced the rest of us to frozen Acai. Ahhh! Where have you been all my life?! If you haven't had it, evidently it's a type of fruit that is popular in Brazil. There's a place in Santa Cruz that mixes the frozen Acai with your choice of toppings, such as granola, bananas, etc... So good!

Then, of course, we had to head over to the beach for a bit...

After the beach, we drove home to take showers and get ready for Date Night!! We dropped our boys off at the Santos house and headed over to Maggiano's for a delicious, romantic dinner. What a perfect way to end a wonderful day!

The day took a bit of planning and prep, but not a whole lot of extra money. Investing in the people we love is so worth the effort and it's mutually beneficial! I got to enjoy all the fun, too. Plus, a husband who feels loved and blessed delights in loving and blessing his wife! It's a good cycle to be on!

Happy Birthday & Father's Day, Andy! My admiration and respect for you is constantly growing. You are an amazing man and I'm SO THANKFUL to get to call you mine!