Sunday, November 9, 2014

{Real Mom Life} At Rest

Ever have so much stuff running through your head that ya run around like a crazy person trying to do all the things?

Yeah, me too.

You ever just get overwhelmed by stuff? Chores? Clutter? To-dos?

Yeah, me too.

Glad I'm not the only one over here.

My world is a small one, I'll admit. Home. Grocery store. Home. Park. Home. Church. Home. Walgreens. Home. No big bells and fancy whistles over here. I'm pretty much the most average stay-at-home mom you'll ever meet. And it's not like I have a whole bunch of stuff to be overwhelmed by, BUT for some reason, I still get stressed. And uptight. And crazy busy. I've set a certain standard for myself, certain expectations, goals. And when I'm failing to meet this self-imposed standard, I start to feel waaaay more stressed out than I should.

One of my expectations as a mama and our household manager is to keep a clean, tidy home. I like everything in its proper place: dishes in the cabinets, jackets and shoes put away, clothes folded and in drawers, floors swept and vacuumed, books on the shelves, and toys in the box after playtime. {I'm a Nazi, I know. I worry far too much about the dirt on our baseboards.} The errands and to-do lists? Check. Check. Check. These things help me feel accomplished and in control.

These expectations, though? They're completely unrealistic for my life right now. They're kinda unrealistic for anyone actually who lives a full life. But here's the thing: sometimes, okay most of the time, I totally forget those expectations are unrealistic and I stress about making them happen anyway. 

And who suffers from it? My daughters. 

I left my job as a teacher specifically because I didn't want to be stressed out all the time. I didn't want them to see their mother as a harried, irritable, worn out woman who worried about her job too much. This is who I was when I was teaching. It's always been difficult for me to handle intense stress of any kind, and being a teacher was definitely intense. What I've discovered, though, is that sometimes my daughters get that woman anyway. They see that me when I want to get everything checked off but know my time is running out. They see that me when I force one extra errand that bleeds into naptime. They see that me when the house is a complete wreck but I don't have the energy or the extra hands to get it all picked up before bedtime. They see that me. 

I'm not saying I should {or could} have perfect control over my emotions all the time. But I am saying that I should be more aware of how I'm acting around my daughters. It's hard to believe in the moment, but that kind of action rubs off on them. 

The other day I was watching Maylin play. She was moving her things from one part of the room to the other. Babies, her teddy bear, books, blocks, random small objects. She's not a sit still player. Never has been. She's more of a doer. An explorer. An open the cabinets and pull out the dishes, an empty out all the trash, and transport the dog food to the water bowl kind of player. She's a piddler. No puzzles. No stacking blocks. No movies. Barely even 30 minute Daniel Tiger episodes. She's not interested in sitting and touching the buttons to make the lights come on. 

At first I didn't understand it. Why does she do that? Where does she get it? I used to get frustrated. So frustrated. I would whine, "She doesn't just sit and play. She doesn't want to stack blocks or do puzzles. She doesn't just sit and watch a movie. {whine, whine, whine} She doesn't play the way I used to as a child. She doesn't do things like me." 


Oh but she does.

She does things exactly like me. 

Because that's what I do. That's what she sees me do. That's the example I'm giving her. I move things from one room to another. I take things out. I put things away. I don't sit. Rarely sit. I'm always busy doing something around the house. Always trying to complete the chores, do the list, clean the clutter. I haven't modeled to her how to sit and play. I haven't modeled to her the learned trait of being still. Of resting

What's important here? In my home? Is it that the house always has to be picked up and dishes can't be left in the sink? Or is what's important that my girls see me sitting still, being with them, taking a break, resting. 

What am I showing my kids? What are my actions teaching them?

Having a clean house and getting all the chores done is a good thing. It keeps our lives running smoothly and effectively. But you know what? It's okay to be still too. And also? It's not worth being that woman who's stressed about it all the time.

It's okay to rest. To take a break. Sitting still to watch a movie is just as learned as riding a bike. Sitting still to stack blocks, or play with puzzles, or play house with the stuffed animals is just as important as all the chores.

So from now on? That's my new goal. To make time during the day to be still and rest with my daughters. To be intentional about setting aside the list to make time for breaks. Hopefully, one day my daughters will know the value of being still. Hopefully, one day I'll know that too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

{Recap} The Pumpkin Patch

Can I indulge you in a few {more} pictures of some time spent at the pumpkin patch?

Great! Here we go!

I took over 200 photos of these two girlies and am happy to report that I have culled this post down to a mere 35. {You're welcome.}

Before we get too deep into November and everyone starts playing Christmas music and stringing twinkle lights and posting holiday gift guides, I want to imprint this little slice of fall onto the World Wide Web.

I've so enjoyed this fall season with my girls, from the cool breezy weather to the homemade apple cider, from the Halloween books we've read to the candy corn we've shared. It's been precious. And memorable. And if it stayed fall all year long that'd be okay with me. I really don't want it to end! 

Hopefully fall has been going your way, too! Just a few more weeks of pumpkins and colorful leaves before tinsel and fir, around here at least anyway since I don't start celebrating Christmas until after Thanksgiving. Each to her own. 

Okay, without further ado. Enjoy!

{Hello Pumpkins}

{Sister Act}

{The Evolution of a Smile}

{Front Porch Charm}

{Smile, Girls..... and Nope}

{Sister Act II}

{Walk With Me}

{Bribing} or {The Struggle is Real}

{You Are My Sunshine}

{You Make Me Happy When Skies Are Gray}

Sunday, October 26, 2014

{Miss Maylin} Suddenly

I feel I'm a pretty positive person in general, but for some reason my writing tends to lean toward the melancholy. I don't know why this is, but for some reason I do my best writing when my mood is less than sunny. I tend to write about the hard things. And often. It's just easier for me than writing about the great things. 


I don't want to look  back on my blog and read about only the hard, difficult, less than perfect times in my life, in motherhood. {I'm sure you don't either!} I want there to be some sunshiny posts smattered along the way, too. 

Because it is. My life is super sunny. A "charmed life," as one of my dear friends once labeled it. I'm reminded of that more and more often as news gets more and more grim. I am blessed. I am fortunate. I have so, so much to be thankful for.

And one of those reasons {and a very BIG one at that!} is sitting right there in that rocking chair on our front porch. 

I love her. It will be forever astonishing to me how quickly children develop. On one day, she's not doing something, is completely disinterested in it. The next day, the very next day, she will have mastered it. Not thanks to any help I've given her along the way. She just does it.

Like sitting in this rocking chair, for instance. We play outside on this front porch a lot. Mainly because our back yard is carpeted with pine needles and dog poop, and who wants to play in that? Um, not me. And our front yard is just more open and sunny and clean. I'll sit in the rocking chair while Maylin plays on the steps or carries the pumpkins around. We'll blow bubbles or balance on stumps or say "ah ah" with flat palmed hands to bugs. A jolly time is had by all.

Not once has Maylin been interested in sitting in the rocking chair. Until one day she was. And in that very moment that she was interested in it, she put her little feet on the bottom rungs and climbed up all by herself. She stretched out her two arms to reach the armrest and started rocking back and forth, back and forth. All by herself. I wasn't even in the vicinity. I was on the other side of the porch. She did it all by herself.

My mama heart was so proud. And so pleased. And so surprised. And in such amazement at the versatility of my daughter's learning. Yes, she's learning to talk, and eat at the table, and that no means no means no. But she's also learning to climb. Learning to make decisions and take risks. Learning to take what she's seen someone else do and do it for herself. 

She's learning to be a human. 

It comes in stops and starts. It comes in pieces and parts. But that learning, it comes. Some days it feels like I've been trying to teach her the same thing for weeks. Other days she's mastered a milestone in a matter of minutes. Suddenly, it's there.

Suddenly, she's sitting in the rocking chair looking at me with that sweetly coy expression.

Suddenly she's saying "Mama" and "please" and "down."

Suddenly she's done with being rocked to sleep and wants to go to bed by herself.


I'm learning to greet "suddenly" as a great friend, to welcome it rather than lament it. And surprisingly, suddenly, that's an okay thing with me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

{Real Mom Life} That Pre-Dawn Moment

You know that moment, that moment when you open your eyes in the morning and feel so full of rest and realize that it's morning and not 1:30 or 3:00 in the AM and that your baby has slept through the entire night without waking you? Yeah, I had that moment this morning.

For a split second it's pure exaltation. You want to fist pump the air with both arms high above your head. Yessssss. The baby slept through the night!

And then that split second is gone. Vanished. Vaporized. Because then, like a ton of bricks, the thought hits you. Gasp! There's something wrong with the baby! There's absolutely no logical reason why she would suddenly sleep all night long when she hasn't done so for weeks and weeks. SIDS. Oh my gosh, I bet it's SIDS. Why else would she have slept all night long??

From that moment on, you're consumed with agonizing worry, and you can't even enjoy the feeling of rest or a quiet morning drinking coffee with your husband because you suddenly must go check on the baby right this very instant.

Yeah, I had that moment this morning, too.

But, this being my second child and all, and being much more calm and relaxed as a mom {ahem}, I made myself wait until her 7:30 wake up time before tiptoeing upstairs and cracking open the nursery door and peering intently at her little body until seeing the very faintest movement of her chest rising and falling as she slumbered in the early morning.

And there she was. Just beginning to stir and open her eyes.

And then there's that moment when you know your baby is perfectly fine, she has slept through the night, and now she's starting to wake up for the day. There's that moment when you think, No! Wait! Not yet! as you frantically back out of the room and shut the door as softly as you can.

That moment? Yep, had it this morning, too.

Such is the emotional seesaw of motherhood, I suppose. 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

{Recap} A Pumpkin-ing We'll Go

October has done me well. Every part of it. I've loved the weather, which is now cooling off nicely. I've loved the topics at toddler story time at our library- fall leaves, pumpkins, and today, spiders! I've loved the warmer clothes I get to wear- light sweaters, blazers, denim, booties. I've loved the chai flavor I've been adding to my dark roast in the mornings, and the extra cup it makes me drink. I've loved extending our daily mail runs by an extra 30 minutes, the weather just begging us to sit on the front porch, enjoy a snack, and roll the bubble-blowing toy lawn mower up and down the driveway. I've even loved the change of the light during the day. Please tell me I'm not the only one who thinks the sunlight looks different in the fall? Lighter, cleaner, clearer, more golden, less brassy.

To top it all off, I just love our little town in the fall. Being in the piney hills of the Deep South, we don't see much colorful foilage, but our town is accented everywhere with Bradford Pears, which allllmost make up for the obscene amount of pine. We also have the best little pumpkin patch. Visiting the pumpkin patch is one of my very favorite fall activities. There's something about it. When you go, you know it's official. Autumn is official. The best season of the year has arrived. 

I had lofty plans of taking my girls to the pumpkin patch and having their pictures made in pretty smocked dresses and oversized bows {and I may still yet}, but instead I found myself with a long afternoon indoors stretched out before us and decided on a quick whim to pile them both in the car and go. Just go.

I threw their festive Halloween tees on, packed my camera, donned my sunglasses, and before you could say "Bob's your uncle" we were there. Right there in the midst of the pumpkin-y orange goodness of it all. Watching Maylin explore while tagging along behind with my camera strapped to my shouldern and Hartlie wrapped to my torso is something I always want to remember. The way Maylin's little legs ran and her little eyes roamed and her little hands patted. The constant stream of "conversation" she kept up. The way she looked over her shoulder and motioned for me to "come on." The little pumpkin she picked out to be all her own.

That sweet little pumpkin! I wish I could bottle her up and keep her forever like this. Young, childlike, innocent, filled with wonder. Maylin chose her own and I picked out a matching one for Hartlie. They're sitting on the top step of our front porch as I type, along with two pots of yellow mums.

I was just a tagalong. And I'm more than okay with that. My eyes drank her in. My boots clomped on the wooden boards of the sidewalk. Hartlie bounced her warm weight against my torso. Sunlight flirted between the leaves of overhanging trees. Pure bliss, I tell you.

Michael met us after work and I commisioned his help to pose the girls for a quick snap or two. Out of about a hundred outtakes, this is the only one that's not blurry, that's wail-free, and where both children are sitting up and not face deep in the hay.

Maylin's face! She's just not too sure. Hartlie, though. She's an easy crowd to please.

Then we told Maylin to give Hartlie a hug.

It's okay, May, breathing isn't that important.
Oh Hartlie. Such a good-tempered trooper, that one. Not even the slightest whine about it.

And this one! Hartlie's smile = 100% genuine. Maylin's, eh. Close enough! At least Hartlie's air passages aren't blocked here. But really, Maylin was truly being so sweet to sister. In this picture she's actually saying "awwwww" as she leans her head on top of Hartlie's. 

Daddy-daughter love. Heart. Melting.

I'm soaking October up, drinking it in to the very last delicious drop. October has always been my favorite, but it's even more so now that I'm living it with my two girls. 

Now, I'm off to cozy up with a warm blanket, a fresh-from-the-oven sugar cookie, and the best man a girl could want.

Happy Fall, y'all!