A trip to crazytown.

Sooo, my sweet little man has been teething and the discomfort has wrought havoc on his sleep.  He is waking more frequently right now and is also rising well before dawn.  Sweet.

A few mornings ago, he woke up just after 5 am and was ready to start the day.  We waited to see if it was just a fleeting desire, but when it was clear that he would not be going back to sleep, we developed a game plan.    Gilbert went in, bundled him up, and popped him in the stroller.  I made myself a nice large mug of coffee and decided to look on the bright side of our early morning…it was chilly outside, I had yummy coffee, and if all worked out we would get to see a beautiful sunrise!

Once W was settled, we took off around the neighborhood.  The crisp air invigorated me and I took the opportunity to pray and enjoy the quiet morning.  William nestled in and relaxed as we walked our familiar route in an unfamiliar time.  It seemed that this was the perfect solution to his fussy wake up and I was just about to pat us on the back for our brilliant thinking until…yes until.  Such power in a single word.  As soon as one hears/reads/utters the word “until” it becomes instantly apparent that something is about to change…and in this case, not for the better.

The loop around our neighborhood is just over a mile.  When we were as close to the halfway point as possible, William lost it.  I mean, absolutely positively lost. his. mind.  There were tears, there were screams, and my feeble attempts to reign him back in were fruitless.  The serene setting I had only moments before embraced now turned into a wicked nightmare.  The quiet only magnified the piercing shrieks and the once friendly looking houses were now certainly filled with angry, judgmental neighbors with their phones in hand calling DCF.

I sang, I danced, I pulled out every toy I had stowed away, and there was absolutely no effect.  In fact, at certain points my antics seemed only to add fuel to the fire, with his cries reaching the upper register of a banshee.  When it became apparent that my usual tricks were not going to work this time around, I swiftly popped him out of the stroller.  With his screams still slicing through the darkness, I threw my coffee into the seat of the stroller and started hauling tail toward home.  With W still crying in my arms, I started singing “The Mexican Hat Dance”–our go to meltdown tune since he was a newborn.  This turned down the volume, but didn’t eliminate the noise entirely.  With only a single bullet left in my gun, I drew out the iPhone and loaded the “Rattle” app as quickly as I could.  Magic: crying stopped.  Being carried, sung to, and entertained with technology was the solution I sought.  Any attempt to withdraw any portion of this twisted trifecta resulted in more tears.

And so we motored on.  I was as happy as a mama could be walking with a baby in one hand, simultaneously pushing a stroller and engaging an app making farm animal noises with the other, while singing “The Mexican Hat Dance”…all before dawn.

As we rounded the bend for home, we passed a jogger taking full advantage of the cool, peaceful morning.  I cringed as we neared this unsuspecting person, who until this point had no doubt been living under the blissful assumption that the neighborhood was free of crazies.  Not the case.  I could only imagine how ridiculous I must look to someone outside the insane world of babies.  I had to appear absolutely certifiable.

When our eyes met however, I found something I wasn’t expecting…familiarity.  On this woman’s face, I saw the unmistakable acknowledgment of someone who knew exactly what I was enduring.  A fellow mama in a different season, she recognized my world and gave me the knowing smile that said, “Don’t sweat it…I have been. there.”  I could almost see the battle scars on her face as she shook her head and closed her eyes, no doubt recalling countless moments of her own insanity and offering as much compassion and empathy as she could.

I smiled the rest of the way home.  Motherhood is such an incredibly cool club and I am beyond blessed to be a part of it.  There are highs and lows, victories and challenges, and when I find myself crossing the border into crazytown, it helps to know I’m not alone.  ;0)

Tampa Trip

We hit the road this weekend to celebrate William’s BFF’s first birthday!!  Harrison celebrated in style, rockin’ a bow tie and making short work of his delicious cake.  This was a long-awaited visit, because it marked the first time that William and Harrison could officially “hang.”  They met when William first arrived on the scene, but I’m fairly certain William slept through the entire encounter.  Truthfully, they met even before William was born.  I visited Summer when Harrison was just weeks old and I was five months pregnant.  Harrison snuggled my belly and we knew they were destined to be friends for life!!

It was so much fun to watch them together.  Harrison’s got 5 months on William, so he was motoring around while William was stuck in one place.  He would bounce in fits to get me to move him closer to the action.  What an absolute blast it will be to watch these boys grow up together!!!

Happy Birthday, H-man!  We’re so glad God gave us you!!

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Harrison snuggles unborn Mr. William

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BFFs all around!

Letters to William

Butter,

We had the most glorious day yesterday, you and I.  You slept so well and woke up in the most delicious, smoochable mood–I couldn’t get enough.  The whole day was filled with smiles and laughs–I found myself frequently willing time to freeze so that I could hold on to those moments for eternity.  We took our typical walk around the neighborhood and here are some of the things we discussed:

-Halloween decorations

-Fire hydrant review–we have covered this before and were just reviewing

-Squirrel sounds

-Beautiful fall weather (specifically, how funny it is that fall days make us yearn for colder weather, while the exact same weather in the spring makes us yearn for warmer weather)

-The importance of waving to people, even if they look grumpy and you think they aren’t going to wave back

-Looking both ways before crossing streets (again, a review)

-How much you are loved (which I’m sure at this point garners an eye roll or two, as you get this speech every. single. day.  ;0)

My favorite part of our conversation though, was about prayer.  I have told you before that prayer is just a fancy word for talking to God and that you should never feel like you have to have the “right” words.  Talking to God is just like talking to a friend.  Actually, it’s even cooler because when you have a hard time expressing how you are feeling, God gets it no matter what.  In fact, the Bible even says that when you can’t figure out what you want to say to God, He helps fill in the gaps because he knows our hearts (Romans 8:26).  Amazing!!

So yesterday, we talked to God.  We told him about the people in our life who are sick and hurting and we asked God to help them feel better.  We told Him how much we enjoyed the weather and how we would love to have more of it.  We thanked him for keeping us safe when we traveled to and from Tampa and for blessing us with such a fun day.  We told God everything we had on our hearts–thanks, praise, requests, all of it.  While we could only hear our voices and couldn’t see what God was doing, you can be assured that not only was He listening, our prayers were causing him to act.  I’m not making this up!  Matthew 18:19-20 says this: “When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”  Isn’t that incredible?  So we were just out enjoying a beautiful walk and having a conversation with our friend and because of it, things started happening in heaven!

I hope you remember that throughout your life.  Every day I pray that you would not only know who God is, but have a relationship with Him.  It is without question, the biggest prayer I have for you.  It trumps everything else because I know that if you have a relationship with God, He will see you through EVERYTHING else…no matter the circumstance.  I know, because it’s happened to me.

Oh my little lovebug, I love you more than you will ever know.  I am treasuring every moment with you and can’t thank God enough for blessing me with you!!!

AML,

Mama

Run with perseverance…

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3

I have recently started trying to hone the practice of praying specific scriptures over my life and the lives of others.  This morning I dug out my trusty scripture box and pored over the countless verses that God has drawn my attention to over the years.  I flipped through each one and selected nine that are just perfect for this season in my life.  I also found scriptures for Gilbert, for William, for friends and extended family.  Some overlap and I pray the same verse over multiple people, while others are specific to individuals in their present circumstances.

I stumbled upon Hebrews 12:1-3 and set that card aside for me.  I have read those verses, spoken them, and reflected on them throughout my life, but they called to me with new significance this morning.  The message of running a race with perseverance perfectly fits this season of motherhood and I seized upon them.  As a new mama, I am in a marathon, not a 5k, and need God’s continual provision to remain faithful in living as the wife and mother He has called me to be.

When I prayed these verses out loud this morning, I imagined myself running in an actual race and vividly pictured the scene.  Hair in a pony tail, sweat running from my brow, I could see myself jogging along, the sound of footsteps and shallow breaths filling my ears.  When I got to the portion about “fixing our eyes on Jesus” I paused to consider what that would look like in my scene.  Am I looking ahead of me?  Looking at Him running beside me?  Running with my eyes up to the heavens?

The more I thought about it, the more I pictured all of the other things that would be vying for my attention as I ran along.  Different portions of the race would yield different temptations to take my eyes off of Him and focus elsewhere.  Knowing myself, there would be times that the temptation to check out the crowds to my left and right would steal my attention.  Are the people around me cheering or are they snickering about how slowly I am running?  In other moments, I know I would be tempted to look down the road—how much longer do I have to go?  Are there hills up ahead?  In still other times, I would be tempted to look behind me, indulging in pride about how far I had run.  Look at me!!  These are common temptations I face every day in the race I am running—I’m not even going into the distractions that come when obstacles arise, when weariness sets in, or when the weather changes.

There are so many other places to set my sights that I have to be intentional every day to focus my eyes on Him.  For me, this means taking a cue from Psalm 5:3 and going to God in the morning, before the day is in full swing.  I complete Bible study homework, read scripture, and spend time just talking to God.  There is a noticeable difference in the days that I do this—I am more centered, I have greater peace, and my perspective on life is tremendously impacted.  Without this focus, I frequently veer off course and barely limp along.

This is a race and running well requires dedication.  While I am not competing against anyone else, I am called to take every day that God blesses me with and run it faithfully.  This will not happen by accident, I must be intentional.

In the end, I decided that fixing my eyes on Jesus, means that I am running while looking directly in front of me.  That’s where I imagine Him to be—a few steps ahead so that He can guide me along the path, while in the perfect position to encourage my every step.  What a mighty God we serve.  Oh that I would be so faithful to train my eyes on Him alone.

Punkins!

So we took the long-awaited family trip to the pumpkin patch!!  William was decked out in his fall gear and we were beyond excited.  There is an adorable patch down the street from our house and we were so looking forward to sharing it with him.  Unfortunately, it was about a million degrees, even though we arrived after 5 so the experience was much less “fall like” than I had hoped.  William was not a fan of the heat, but was a definite trooper through my seemingly endless desire for photos…86 to be exact.  :0)  He seemed to be absolutely fascinated by all of the pumpkins–loved looking at them up close.  We ended up purchasing 15 pumpkins in all, including a precious little pumpkin for our little pumpkin!

This gave such a taste of the excitement that is to come with holidays.  What fun it will be to share all of the different traditions and festivities with him!!!

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Sometimes, quiet.

There’s a lot to be said for quiet.

Every day, William and I go on several walks.  We take a walk mid-morning to get fresh air around the neighborhood.  We walk to the pond in the afternoon to feed the fish and the ducks.  More often than not, we will sneak in a third walk in the evening to decompress before we start his bedtime routine.  He absolutely loves being outside, so I seize every opportunity to nurture that love.

On most of our adventures, we chat constantly.  The teacher in me can’t resist pointing out different sights and providing explanations for new experiences and encounters.  I ask him questions about the things we pass and I tell him stories that randomly come to mind.  We talk about the blessings in our lives and how cool our God is to have made such an incredible world.  His responses vary from humming and chirping to blowing raspberries and I love them all.  These “conversations” are absolute treasures to me in our days together.  It blows my mind to think that, in time, my monologues will give way to two-way communication.

All that said, I find time on at least one of our walks every day for us to simply enjoy the quiet.  My mini-lessons are tabled and my musings are silenced.  We walk together and simply enjoy the sounds around us.

Quiet has been a dear friend of mine for as long as I can remember.  This may strike you as odd, given that my chosen profession was public school teaching, which is not known for its serenity.  Quiet is something often sought but seldom found in the fourth grade world and yet, I loved every minute of it.  Cherishing quiet doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the beautiful chaos of being with other people.  I adore being right in the middle of kids’ hustle and bustle and relish opportunities to socialize with friends and family whenever I can.  When my tank is empty, however; it’s quiet that refuels me.

These days, if you want quiet you have to intentionally seek it out.  There are 9 million voices (both spoken and written) clamoring for our attention at any given moment.  As a result, many people have developed a discomfort with quiet and seek to fill every second void of sound. I don’t want that for William.  I frequently wonder if the noise in our lives is the single greatest contributor to stress and anxiety.  When was the last time you sat at a red light and just thought?  When your ears are always filled with something to dictate your thinking, do you ever have time to truly reflect?  To remember?  To process?  To pray?  To grieve?  When we distract ourselves from sadness or pain so that we never face it or feel it, do we ever really heal?

My fear is that the lack of quiet is stunting our emotional growth.  We are so preoccupied with external voices speaking all day long that our internal voice is often ignored.  I don’t want that to be the case in my life.  Rather than constantly allowing someone else to control what I think about, I want to choose daily to walk through the experiences in my life and be fully present within them.  This means spending some time every day just thinking…expressing my gratitude, reflecting on my victories and struggles, acknowledging my hurt, praying, remembering, and hopefully, growing.

I know quiet can be hard, but I believe it’s worthwhile.  Regardless of how often William chooses to pursue it, I don’t ever want him to be uncomfortable with it.  Rather than viewing quiet as a lack of something, I want him to see it as a gift of time for just him.  And so…we walk.  And while I treasure the chats we have during the rest of the day, sometimes our most incredible conversation can be found within those quiet strolls.

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Letters to William

Babee Boy,

I hope one day you will know with every cell of your being, how much I delight in you.  Sure, I’m your mom and moms are “supposed” to love their babies, but saying that I love you doesn’t capture every dimension of the way I feel for you.  Because you see, I don’t just love you, I genuinely ENJOY you. I have spent every day with you (today marks 225) since you were born and I literally can’t get enough.  There is no where else I would rather be than hanging out with you on any given day of the week and I thank God constantly that He has blessed me with the privilege of being your mama.

Each and every day, you make me laugh and smile from deep within my heart.  Yesterday, we were playing in the backyard and Liza started to run around you.  Your eyes sparkled as you watched her tear around.  While you can’t yet walk, you were stomping your feet and pulling my arms as if you wanted to chase her.  Without warning, you let loose a series of giggles that brought me to my knees!!  You do joy so well, bud…I’m learning a lot about that from you.

You amaze me with your intelligence (already!) and I love watching you learn new things. You have loved books since you were just a couple of months old.  You will sit in my lap and let me read story after story to you and I absolutely treasure that time.  You recently started turning the pages as we read and I get so tickled by it.  When you are officially “over it” your page turning speed increases exponentially, further proving your exceptional problem solving ability.  ;0)

You melt my heart with your hugs and snuggles.  You stretch your arms up for me and when I scoop you up, you have this way of burying your head in my neck that makes me tear up almost every time.  When I lean in for a kiss, you put your sweet hands on my cheeks and pull my face to yours.  Honestly, I could cry just thinking about it.

When I hear your chirps in the morning, I don’t get to your door before a smile has overtaken my entire face in anticipation of seeing you.  I get positively giddy when I hear your little laugh of relief, knowing that you are being rescued from your crib once again.  I soak up every minute I have with you during the day and I’m going to be honest…when I lay you in your crib at night, there is a little pang of sadness in my heart knowing that our day is over.

Reading this, you might think that I love and delight in you for all of the things you do to make me smile.  You would be right, but only partially.  For you see, today was a tough day for you.  The tooth that is coming in is giving you fits and had you feeling tired and cranky.  There weren’t many laughs today and the smiles were labored.  Our playtime was dotted with fussy spells and you just weren’t yourself.  Even still, I found myself flooded with gratitude that I got to spend the day with you.  I didn’t wish the clock would hurry up or that bedtime would come sooner.  Even in the midst of a cloudy day, I still wanted to be no where else but doing life with you.  That, my boy, is delight.  It isn’t dependent on your mood or what you have to offer me.  I delight in you because of who you are, not what you do.

Someday, I hope you’ll understand but until such time, just know that without fail, every day I thank God for giving me you and blessing me with the privilege of being your mama.
The smile that melts my heart.

An Unexpected Reunion

Today I had the awesome privilege of reuniting with an old friend.

As I know many of you can relate, having a new baby makes it extremely difficult to maintain relationships.  Shortly after becoming a mama, things move into overdrive with days and weeks blurring into a deliciously abstract rendering of your former life.   Before you know it, it’s been months since you truly connected, sometimes even with those you treasure most.

Today out of nowhere,  I found myself with unexpected time before me.  I wasn’t sure exactly how long I had to enjoy, so I knew I needed to make every minute count.  Many possibilities of what to do flooded my mind, but ultimately I decided to invest in a relationship that has gone by the wayside since William arrived on the scene.   Before he was born, this friend and I used to get together at least a few times a week.  Toward the end of my pregnancy, we were having dates daily and I absolutely treasured those times.  I always emerged from our time together feeling renewed, refreshed, and with an overall improved outlook on life.  The more I thought about this friend’s impact on my life, the more I became convinced that we had to reconnect.  I may have only had 10 or 15 minutes to spare, but whatever I had would be worth it.

Once the decision was made, I couldn’t wait to see her.  I became almost giddy in anticipation, but knew I had to stay calm, lest I ruin the short amount of time we had together.  Without hesitation, I hurried to the couch, snuggled down deep into the cushions and ushered in my old friend…the afternoon nap.  Oh sweet mercy.  Initially my body and mind were in stunned disbelief.  It had been so long since I attempted a nap that I was clearly out of practice.  “Really?  Really???” my tired eyes fluttered.  “This can’t be happening,” my brain buzzed.  Oh but it was…it WAS.  Football was on TV, the Sunday sun was streaming through the windows, and before I knew it, my old friend had wrapped her arms around me and carried me off to dreamland.  Absolute bliss.

I wish I could adequately capture the magic of this incredible and long-awaited reunion.  I am quite convinced that I slept the entire time with a goofy smile on my face.  There were no dreams, no alarming wake ups, just perfect contented rest.  I savored every scrumptious minute we had together and just like I remembered, when I awoke I found myself renewed, refreshed, and ready to take on the world.  What a difference a nap makes.  Thanks old friend…hope to see you again soon.

And so it begins.

The pressure to be profound on an initial blog posting is quite intense.   I have literally typed and deleted 10 different versions of that first sentence.  Yes, you read that correctly–the first sentence…all 13 words of it…the one that said, basically nothing.  “That’s edited?” Yes.  Let me just say, that I am the mother of a busy 7 month old baby boy and if I waited for the “perfect” words to start this blog, it would never get off the ground.  So with that in mind, let me just say…welcome.  ;0)