Monday, December 28, 2015

Forgetting Eugene in 2016

Recurring dreams can feel like nightmares. I have found when I feel like I've not accomplished a goal or didn't do my best in an area of my life, I tend to have recurring dreams about doing that certain thing over again. I'm sure it's my subconscious way of trying to fix what I've done wrong. 

I can't shake Eugene. I dream about it frequently especially our house. I loved that house. Zoe learned to walk there. We brought Levi home from the hospital there. We grew closer together there. Most of our family were thousands of miles away so we clung to each other. We started new traditions. We truly studied the Bible together. Sure, there were struggles just like all families have, but we grew a deeper understanding of each other there.  

Our family has outgrown that house now for sure, but it was our home. I've never missed a house like this before and we've lived in many, many homes. It was quaint like a cottage in the midst of a strange area. Although, the strangeness of Eugene is what makes it magical. I can't remember how many times I heard strangers carrying on conversations in the park or in a store about how Eugene is a magical place. I laughed then but now I understand that it truly is. For a conservative southerner, Eugene could seem like a nightmare. Liberal and hippy are definitely the opposite of small town Alabama. I never thought I would grow to love it so. It taught me how to truly just look at people as people. No labels. 

When we lived in Eugene sometimes I felt like I stuck out like a sore thumb with my southern ways, and of course my accent. Now that we live in Alabama again I feel as though I have Eugene in my blood, and maybe I stick out like a sore thumb again. Eugene is a part of me. It isn't a perfect place by any means. It was actually a little scary to a small town southern girl, but it was also pretty perfect. 

I find myself being homesick for a place that isn't really my home. It brings me to tears at times. We love our home in Alabama, but we miss our home in Eugene. If I could have both, I would. If we could go visit tomorrow, we would. Eugene gave us lacrosse, love for the outdoors, mountain snow, tie dye, and understanding. The best thing that it gave us was our family. We can't go back and change or relive the past. We will never have those years again, but at least we have the memories. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

5 Things to Know Before You Have a Large Family

1. When you have a big family someone will ALWAYS be sick.
There has never been a truer statement in all of time. When there are several of you cohabitating in one small space, just give up on the dream of health for everyone. It isn't going to happen. Sure, you may only have a cold but after it slowly travels through every person in your family for two months, you will feel like someone has cast a plague on your house. Your sheets, pillow cases, and comforters will be worn ragged by all of the washing they endure. I'm still waiting for a washable couch to be invented. 

A cold pales in comparison to a stomach virus. When that hits you might as well call the CDC. EVERYONE WILL GO DOWN!!  Your only hope is that someone will be healthy each time a member of the family has it so that they can scrub carpets, toilets, wash everything thoroughly, and administer Gatorade, Sprite, and saltine crackers. Hopefully, that someone is you mom, because when mom goes down total chaos and anarchy may ensue. 

2. There is never enough milk or orange juice (or insert the name of your family's favorite juice). 
You just bought a gallon of milk and juice yesterday?  That's cute that you thought you didn't need to buy it again today! Seriously, every single time you go to the grocery store you need to buy these staples and every single time means everyday. Don't kid yourself and think there is enough. THERE IS NEVER ENOUGH!!! Save yourself from the juice Armageddon that will occur if your children awake in the morning and there is no juice or milk!! Your name will be mud. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and I'm not just talking about your children. You will rue the day that you "forgot" the milk and juice. Just do it!! Buy it everyday!!! 

I use to think if we could have an orange tree and cow that it would save us money. Then, I nervously laughed at the thought of my husband and I trying to milk a cow and juice oranges in the morning. Thank you Lord for the invention of the grocery store. And all God's people said, AMEN!!!

3. Toilet paper, diapers, and wipes will be bought in bulk. 
Basically your money goes to wiping hinees. You literally flush your money down the drain or throw it away in the form of tissue and diapers. There was a time that a four pack of tp would last you a week or two. Ha!  Why even waste (pun intended) your time on a four pack of tp now?  You must want to return to the store tomorrow and buy more? Save yourself the trip, and gas money, and buy the largest pack available in the store that consumes the entire grocery cart. Unless you just plan on picking up more tp because you will be back at the store to purchase milk and juice anyway. It's your call. 

Baby wipes perform miracles!!  They will clean the food from your child's face, clean the floor, bathroom, car, etc. There has never in the history of the world been a cleaning tool more versatile. You will realize just how dependent on wipes you have become when you are in your car one day and there are none for you to wipe your dirty hands on. Keep packs stashed all over your car. Believe me you do not want to get caught out one day with a child who has dirtied their diaper and you have ran out of wipes. Your child will be crying and so will you. Save yourself the pain and keep boxes of them stock piled at home. I know this sounds extremely environmentally unfriendly. I have tried to think of ways to use washable rags but the thought of holding onto something as vile and germ infested as that makes me feel sure that my family would contract an infectious disease. So, no....I will not do it. I will use packs of wipes on a regular basis and I will recycle everything else that I possibly can to balance it out.

4. There will be laundry until the end of time. 
I wake up, I start laundry. I come home, I start laundry. It's time for bed, I must fold laundry. One of my husband's gifts for me, when we strike it rich, is to hire someone to do the laundry for me. He knows the way to my heart, that's for sure. He knows I could care less about a mansion, expensive car, or diamond ring. Just take care of the laundry and cleaning for me. That's all I will ever need.
5. The bathrooms will ALWAYS need to be cleaned. 
You say you just cleaned the toilets and sinks yesterday? Yeah, well your teenager has spit toothpaste all over the mirror and sink again. He did it yesterday too. It's kind of his thing so don't waste your breath, just clean it up. I won't delve into the details of cleaning the toilet after your large family everyday. I'll let your imagination do that for you. You're welcome!

While a large family may bring sickness and never ending cleaning, it also brings never ending love. I don't know what I would do without them. I might not clean as much or buy things in bulk, but that just adds to the adventure that is life. Or the adventure that is Walmart. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

From College to Diapers

Our family is larger than Erik and I ever dreamed. We had our oldest at a young age and we thought after 4 years of life with just him, that he would be it. Then, along came our daughter. When she came into the world we thought our family was complete. We had a boy and a girl and we even had our boy first so that he could be the big brother. What more could we want?  

Well, there was a surprise for us 6 years later, another girl. We were pretty sure at this point there would be no more children for us. Three is an uneven number but that was ok. It made us a family that was a bit larger than average, but three children really isn't that many. Then to our surprise.....BAM! Number four came just two years later. A boy, and that made our number even. Two boys and two girls. 

Erik and I never really wanted a big family. He and I both wanted larger than life careers and we wanted to travel. Children never were something we imagined would shape our lives and our paths. Boy, were we ever wrong. When it comes to being wrong, I guess we have the market cornered because anything we've ever thought we have been right about, has pretty much turned out to be wrong. Or, if we are right, something eventually happens that makes us have to change our view and see things from a new perspective. 

The initial plans that we had for our lives weren't bad, and neither is the route that our lives have taken. For some a life without children, or one, or two children, suits them just fine. Then, there are those of us with larger families, and it suits us just fine as well.
 Sure, it can be trying to have four children ranging from college to diapers. (The daily needs that must be met are so different. One needs scholarship and career path guidance, while another needs us to feed him and change his diaper. The differences can mentally give me whiplash, but it also keeps me on my toes.) Our oldest just registered to take some courses at the college where his father and I met. Life comes full circle, in a beautiful and spiraling way. One day we may have the path all figured out, and then before we know it, we're back where we started. Life is challenging but it's beautiful. 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Why it stinks to be a mom on your birthday

I am turning 35 today. I had a blog that I was working on titled, "Things I can do at 35 that I couldn't at 25". It was full of items that while hilarious, are really issues that I hate about getting older or even that I sort of "pity" myself for enduring. Topics such as: gaining weight just by looking at food, varicose veins, stretch marks, wearing the same clothes, shoes, and jewelry over and over, topped my list. While I could delve into funny stories about each topic I started thinking about the choices that have led me to what some (including myself) may look at as misfortunate and disgusting. I realized while I may look at these things as trying or even depressing sometimes, I have four people that I brought into this world that were worth every "hideous" mark and bulging vein. 

I even had an ugly cry/pity party, for myself yesterday about how my birthday was going to be spent at home all day with sick children, since a virus is slowly spreading through our family. I wasn't going to get gussied up and go out. I would be taking temperatures, administering meds, changing diapers, washing laundry, cleaning toilets, etc. All of these things are not really enjoyable ways to spend a birthday. 

However, today I woke up thankful. I am so incredibly thankful that I get to spend the day with these beautiful gifts. I get to sit with my big teenager and apply a cold rag to his head and talk about Star Wars and college. I can watch my one year-old run around the living room jabbering the new words he's learned that mostly, only he can understand, but he's proud nonetheless. I am able to listen to my overachieving, ambitious nine-year old count to one hundred in Japanese (because she decided to teach herself) and listen to her list of things she needs to do before she turns 11. (Because she is about to turn 10 and that would be too soon to do things like get a book published and break a world record, so she's giving herself a little time.) And I also get to listen to my spirited three year-old scream at the top of her lungs because she can't find her pink sunglasses. Even though she can drain me, she can also give me the sweetest smile and tell me how much she loves me, and at that moment my heart feels full. 

While life with my four children is in no way perfect, and most days I spend standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes and pulling my hair out, I am so thankful I have these amazing people. I in no way deserve them. There are so many other people in this world that are more deserving and would be far more thankful on a daily basis for the love of these four children. 

I'm thankful that God can forgive me when I am not grateful, and when I am pitching a baby/diva fit. I am thankful for the grace and understanding that I receive from Him. I am just a human who falls minute by minute, and I hope that I will never forget to look up in search of His forgiveness for the things I may take for granted. I am also thankful today for the love and grace of my husband. I can be pretty harsh and unforgiving to him but he just holds on through my diva fits and still tries to shower me with the unconditional love I don't deserve. 
I am undeserving of the love and grace that I receive daily but today I am thankful. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Love is

Love is so misconstrued and misinterpreted in our culture. It is equated to a warm fuzzy feeling or romance. I think love is so much more. 

Love is.....

Staying awake all night to reassure that you are there, that everything will be alright. This can come in different seasons of life. When you have an infant, or when there is a traumatic event in life, or you or your loved one is just going through a rough time. When you or they are sick or even nearing the end. Love is staying by their side. 

Wiping noses, changing diapers, feeding, cleaning, dressing them. It's not the most enjoyable part of love but, love will see you through your worst and at your most vulnerable. From the time when your infant needs you for all diaper changes and feedings and cleanings, to the time in life when you or your spouse or loved one may need help through sickness, injury, or old age. When they can't lift their head or body to help themselves. When they need you to help them get healthy or even keep them alive. That is love. It's wading through the mess. It's giving them your best, even when it's not pleasant. 

It's putting your dreams, goals, and ambitions on the back burner and sometimes it's not. There are seasons when your loved one may need you physically to be there by their side and there are sometimes that they need to see you work hard for your dreams. Determining which and when can be tricky but, in the end that's what love does. Love sacrifices. 

It's encouraging and equipping and sometimes letting go. Even writing that was hard. The last thing I want is to let my children leave my nest one day. The world is cruel, the world is tough. It's unforgiving and brutal but it's also beautiful and awe inspiring. My children have big goals and aspirations. Chasing after those may end in defeat or victory. It may not be safe but better to have lived and experienced than to sit on the sidelines watching. I want them to see and experience all that they can imagine. I want them to dream and inspire others. In order to do that I must give them wings and let them go. 

Love is also holding on. From infancy we scream and we cry, this doesn't change. When we become teenagers we scream and push our parents to the brink. As young adults, discovering our new found freedom, we push and scream some more. And sometimes as spouses when the going gets tough, we scream and we push again. Love doesn't waiver. Love doesn't budge. Love holds on through the storm. Even though the winds may blow and the boat may rock. Even though the one we love screams and kicks, we are their constant. We are steady. Even if when they look at us they don't see us or know us, love never stops loving. 

Love is sacrifice. Love is caring. Love is holding on and letting go. Love is never giving up. Love is so much more than just a feeling. Love is hard. Love is perseverance. Love never ends.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

7 Parents We Love to Hate

Parenting is an adventure and most of us would agree possibly the toughest job on the planet. We all either are, have been, aspired to be, or will be at some point the type of parents listed below. We have to laugh at our parenting prowess to keep from going insane. So here is the list of parents we love to hate. 

1. The "My child has slept all night since birth" parent. When this person shares this bit of information with you, after the fight or flight reaction of punching them in the face due to your total sleep deprivation, you immediately jump to the "fact" that you obviously are doing this whole parenting thing wrong and/or there is something wrong with your child. 

Believe me I have 4 children and none of them have slept so spanning my 14 1/2 years of parenting I've probably gotten 2 hours of sleep (my math skills are spot on). I know I haven't done what's necessary to teach my children to sleep but I also know some kids are just more difficult than others. I happen to have 4. 

2. The parents who NEVER miss church. I have grown up in the South and lived here most of my life. If you and your family aren't in church every time the doors are open then you probably don't love Jesus. Most churches have Wednesday, Sunday morning, and Sunday night services. As a true Christian family you should be there all three times or people might start questioning your relationship with the good Lord. (Before you gasp too deeply and pass out fellow southerners this is a joke...sort of.)

I am in no way saying regular church attendance isn't important because it can be very instrumental in spiritual growth. However, we all know "that" family, I really wish I could be them. They NEVER miss a service or fellowship and somehow they do this all while looking like they stepped out of a Ralph Lauren catalog (if there are even catalogs anymore but you get the point) and their children are dressed to the nines in boutique clothing complete with matching bows and shoes and their initials are probably monogrammed somewhere. For goodness sake I monogrammed my first daughter's initials on her diaper cover. I had a bow in her hair every single day of her life until she was 7. The bigger the better. And don't even get me started on appliqué or smocking. I mean honestly, is there anything else you can slap on a plain white shirt or dress and increase the value by $50+ in the south? I don't think so. 

I commend this family for braving hell or high water, extreme cold and snow, and facing the dreaded flu season with no fear (because hypochondriac, fear driven people like me look at the nursery at this time of year and don't see sweet little children....I see germs....EVERYWHERE!!!). It truly is amazing that your five year old has perfect attendance at Sunday School, while having 3 younger siblings. Mom, I would love to know your secrets and have your wardrobe or just your clothing budget. 

Let's just follow that one up with...

3. The parents whose children must ALWAYS be dressed perfectly. Their kids always have the latest styles, the cutest hair and accessories (complete with monogrammed backpack, yes I've been guilty of this as well). Their children dare not step outside of the house with miss matched clothes or a costume when it isn't Halloween. 

I've pretty much given up on this dream of perfectly dressed children. I try to suggest or guide them and I especially try to ensure they aren't scantily clad but other than that I have begun to choose my battles and if my daughter wants to dress like Anna from Frozen while we go to the grocery store and the weather is permitting, then why not? You're only a kid once. Explore your style, enjoy your comfort, and rock that ninja turtle costume like its 1989!

4. Super healthy, non GMO, all natural/organic mom or dad. I have DESPERATELY wanted to be this parent. I have tried SO hard but my budget, time, and will just aren't strong enough. When I saw that a vegetarian friend of mine (who is in awesome shape along with the rest of her family) made spinach and peach smoothies for her children to drink for breakfast, I immediately texted my husband that we were SO going to do that!! I'm sure he was like.... yay...(read that with no excitement and complete sarcasm). Just the look of this drink made my children want to puke. While it would be a super healthy alternative it just didn't work for us. 

The time that needs to go into planning and preparing the all natural, non GMO food can't be done consistently. Not when you have several kids. Because sometimes you just have to buy that box of frozen waffles or pancakes or pick up that $5 pizza because if you spend one more minute in the kitchen with a child or children screaming at your feet you just might bury your face in the unrefined coconut oil sprinkled with organic flax seed and scream!!!! 

5. The parents whose children have never gone through separation anxiety or social awkwardness. You know the feeling when you go to drop off your child at nursery or daycare and they scream bloody murder while doing the choke hold around your neck. It's heart wrenching to see the fear in your child's eyes when you think they feel as though you're abandoning them. What doesn't make that feeling any better is the caregiver or by stander/friend who wants to look shocked and horrified by your child's behavior or they want to tell you that their child always loved going into childcare and never cried a tear. 

Thank you for your support. I realize I've made my child a clingy basket case. Why don't you take her/him for a while and see what you can do. won't let you because I am a crazy hovering mother who can't let go of her child even though his screaming is making me want to run far, far away right now...I'll probably just run with him in my arms while we both scream. 

Having the child who has separation anxiety and social awkwardness is a double bonus. Yes, dear sweet church lady, every single time you talk to her she is going to look angrily at you and hide behind my leg. Just be glad she's not screaming at the top of her lungs like her brother does when a stranger speaks to him. It takes a lot of work to be this socially awkward and a lot of mommy nervous sweats. 

6. The parent who has a child that says the sweetest things you've ever heard. We've all known or been this parent. I know I've been guilty of it, I just thank the sweet Lord above that there wasn't Facebook when I had my first child. All of us think our first child hung the moon and broke the mold of all awesomeness and no one has ever seen or heard the greatness that spews forth from them. It's just how it is. We're new to all of this making little people stuff but by the second, third, or forth you think they're cute and all but you realize they may just be the spawn of satan sometimes and if that's the case you know who that means satan must be....that's has to be your spouse. 

These parents with angelic children would never have a child that drops a bomb in public, maybe even...dare I say it....CHURCH!!! I'm not talking about a diaper bomb. I am speaking of an unforgivable sin of foul language which could have only been learned by his/her other parent or from the hours of dreaded, unsupervised TV I've let them watch. (Yes, I'd much rather have committed that sin than to fess up to the fact that I cuss.) Of course, others look horrified or they give a smirk like, I knew it! I knew she was a heathen!! They have rarely ever let a dirty word slip passed their lips much less in front of their child. Let's just be honest. I try my best not to say "bad" words in front of my children but usually they are what cause me to want to cuss a blue streak so sometimes I can't hold it in. Here's your halo and your wings non-cussing parent. You really deserve them if you can control your mouth 24/7 with a toddler and a teen. And the people said, "Amen!"

7. The mom who left the hospital after giving birth in her pre-maternity blue jeans. This is a mythical creature that I've heard about on occasion. Usually the occasion is when I'm about to burst out of my maternity pants. Some kind soul decides to tell me about their niece, friend, sister-in-law, etc. who just after giving birth jumped right back into her regular blue jeans. Who is this person?!?! Are you kidding me?!?! From the moment I see two lines on a pregnancy test I'm in elastic waist pants, my feet and ankles become as wide as my thighs and I've got those bad boys propped up in the recliner. There is no "popping" right back into shape after my entire body has swollen to its greatest capacity before exploding. Whoever these mythical creatures are, if they indeed do exist, they really need to continue to reproduce and create a super human race of perfect people. I'm sure they will NEVER miss church and look AWESOME all the time!

So, if you found yourself in any of these parents, you're not alone. Except if you're a super skinny mom who just gave birth and your newborn sleeps all night, then I think you're pretty much alone, but I think you're ok with that.