The Second Time Around

I found out I was expecting each of my children on the 9th of November… two years apart. This wasn’t on purpose — I had taken several false negative pregnancy tests with my daughter before finally confirming what I had expected all along — that I really was pregnant again.

Their due dates were three years and two days apart on — July 9th and July 11th. And they were born three years and one week apart on July 14th and July 21st. Both of them decided to come after their due dates — Roman five days “late” and Aletheia had to be willfully ushered into the world by induction a full ten days after we had expected her. If I have any more children I’m going to add like a month to their expected due date 😉
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On this day, the day I found out each of them was coming, I have been thinking over the last 15 months of life with two. Having babies is one of those odd situations where you know your life is about to change profoundly but because you’ve never done it before, you don’t exactly know how. Life seemed busy and full before we had our son so it was hard to imagine adding a baby to the mix. But then we did and it was hard to remember what life was like before we were a family of three.
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Then, when we knew we wanted another baby, it was hard to imagine how we’d love and care for two. Again, life seemed brimming and it felt impossible to split our affection between two babies instead of one. I’m not going to say that has always been easy; the second time around has felt much harder to give enough time and attention to every relationship individually. But in other ways, it’s hard to imagine it was ever any other way and we wouldn’t want it to be either.

Here are some of the things I have learned or enjoyed along the way about having two kiddos:

Grace Upon Grace and More Grace //

Once the dust settled after bringing my daughter home, I wanted to get right to it and tackle all the things. I remember trying to carry heavy baskets of laundry across the house and needing to sit down half-way across a room because my body was too fragile to be doing such a thing. But at the time, it all felt so urgent. I can’t not do the laundry — we need clean clothes! I can’t not sweep and mop — the house is a mess!

I remember looking at my post baby body (which is a whole other thing the second time around) and thinking I’d never have my body back again. This was days and weeks after delivering. I remember crying into Darren’s arms, thinking he would never find me attractive again. I went to the ocean with friends a mere six weeks after my daughter was born, saw all the girls in swimsuits, and thought I’d never wear a swimsuit again.

I was way too hard on myself. Too hard on myself in all I thought I needed to accomplish. Too hard on my body in what I demanded it do and how I thought it should look. I think back to those weeks and months and wish I would have given myself and my family more grace. I wish I would have sat on the couch, turned Netflix on, and enjoyed slow, lazy days with my kids. I realize now that no matter how much laundry or sweeping you do when you have a young family, there will always be more dirty clothes and the floor will never not be sticky — and that’s ok for a while.IMG_20171107_090720_562.jpg

I look at my body now, and realize (as I did after my first pregnancy too) that though things are different, there was no need to worry or be so hard on myself. I lost the weight and feel like myself again — howbeit with stretchmarks, but myself all the same. There is nothing (including a swimsuit) that I can’t wear now that I wore before my babies.

Having a child, and then having another child — these are huge, life-altering changes. And if I could do it all again, I’d do my best to relax and enjoy as much of it as possible. And the parts you really can’t enjoy (because there’s plenty of that too), I’d give myself grace to not have it all together for a while. I’d let my body heal slowly and well rather than trying to push it hard after having done such a hard thing already. And I’d have grace on my family rather than trying to keep everything under control and make everything perfect right away. IMG_20180408_192924_294.jpg

Trusting and Letting Go //

Maybe you’ve noticed — I like to control things. But a funny thing happens when you have two kids: you can’t control everyone or everything all the time anymore. I’ve had to learn to let go and trust other people — including my four-year-old son. When I need to lay his sister down for a nap, I have to leave him with instructions not to do anything crazy until I get back and trust that he will listen. For the most part, he does 😉

I suppose one of the hardest things about motherhood is the letting go part. Essentially, if we’re doing a good job with our kids, we’re raising them to leave us. We’re teaching them how to do life well on their own. As my son gets older and my hands get fuller with his sister and other responsibilities, I have to learn to let him grow more and more independent. And I’m learning this with my daughter too. She’s not a baby anymore — she walks and climbs and is learning to talk. I have to fight the urge everyday to bubble wrap my kids and keep them inside so nothing bad can happen. Instead I have to let them go outside to climb and explore and test their own limitations and abilities. It’s hard to watch and it’s hard to let go but I must. 20181001_193529.jpg

They Are Good For Each Other //

We want to give our kids everything and don’t want to see them struggle or do without. This is good to a point but beyond that point, it’s easy to raise kids who are spoiled and entitled. As I watch my kids play together and get into scrapes with each other, I’m realizing just how good that friction is for both of them. They’re learning to share, to work together, to say “I’m sorry.” They’re learning how to navigate life and relationships as they do life together day by day. IMG_20180903_125919_996.jpg

I worried about how hard it would be on our son to share us and everything else in his world with someone else — and it has been hard. But I’m glad he’s learning these lessons as a preschooler instead of a grownup trying to navigate life and relationships. Not to mention, they really do love each other and have a lot of fun together. We always joke that Aletheia will do anything — so long as Roman is the one asking and not us. The sun rises and sets around her big brother. And when they’re not together for some reason, Roman worries about his sister and is always asking where she is ❤

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Its been a wild fifteen months, for sure. But the only thing I’d change about any of it is learning to relax, love, and let go more. Life with two is good and I’m so thankful for each of them ❤

A Weekend in Maine

We celebrated the Labor Day weekend up in Maine with Darren’s family. It’s fun watching all the cousins playing together and letting them run a little wild outside at Grammie and Papa’s house in the woods. We live off a busy road here so even though I let my kids play outside a lot, it’s just a different feel up in Maine among the woods and pastures, mountains and lakes. Everything feels slower and quieter (helped I’m sure, by the fact that my phone doesn’t even really work up there).
IMG_20180903_125357_582.jpgNow we are home and I was tempted not to post anything about our trip at all. We have spent most of the day in post-travel meltdowns and tears. I have a mound of dirty laundry to unpack and wash. Everyone is just a bit tired and out of sorts and it didn’t feel genuine at first to share a bunch of photos of smiling faces when that is not at all how things look today.IMG_20180903_131137_453.jpg

IMG_20180903_130132_273.jpgBut that is life—this mixture of happy memories photographed and cherished combined with all the headache and frustration that comes with leaving and trying to come back into your routine (especially with little kids). IMG_20180903_125919_996.jpgSo here are some of my favorite photos from our weekend, mostly of my kids’ faces while they watched the Labor Day parade 🙂IMG_20180903_130237_763.jpg

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Life with Littles and Other Misadventures

Already we are to the last week of August and in some ways, it feels like the last week of summer too. Though we are still in the middle of 90+ degree days, kids are heading back to school and here and there I notice leaves beginning to change. On Monday we will celebrate Labor Day here in the States and with that, summer’s last hurrah will officially be over.

We decided last-minute, middle of the week to take one final trip to the ocean. I ran around the house tossing everything in bags and as soon as Darren walked in the door from work on Monday, we threw the kids in the car and took off for a hotel. Darren and I are both fairly spontaneous, adventurous people and if there is a trip to be had, we will gladly be taking it. But life with kids is certainly a lesson in patience and flexibility when you are used to going where the wind blows.

This was our first time staying in a hotel with both kids. Roman had a wonderful time and was especially excited about going downstairs for a hotel breakfast in the morning 🙂 Aletheia saw no real point in sleeping at all.IMG_20180828_174710_111.jpgThe more I do life with kids the more I believe two things: 1) Kids make everything more magical and 2) Kids make everything harder. As grownups, we don’t typically leap from one hotel bed to the other in excitement. Nor do we race downstairs first thing in the morning for a continental breakfast. We’re mostly just tired and grumpy. So watching the world unfold through a child’s eyes is a lot of fun and a good reminder to chill out and enjoy life a little more.

However, children are also the most difficult, infuriating creatures alive.IMG_20180828_174506_267.jpgWe wanted to walk around Portsmouth for a couple of hours before heading to the beach. We hadn’t been in years and never with our kids. Portsmouth never seems to change. All our favorite shops are just as they’ve always been. I walked through my favorite letterpress store that still sells all my favorite Rifle Paper products, got my favorite dirty chai latte at the same little German café, and had sandwiches at our favorite sandwich shop.IMG_20180828_174343_657.jpgWe walked the same loop down through Main street, by the water, and back up. Everything was just as I remembered it from previous visits. Only this time we pushed a stroller over the uneven cobblestone streets and listened to a toddler file many a complaint in the background. He did not want to go in the stores. He did not want to walk. He did not want to eat the fancy grilled cheese we bought him for lunch though it was made with his three favorite food groups (bread, butter, cheese).IMG_20180828_174242_172.jpgHe wanted to go to the ocean and that was all. So after we finished lunch, got the stroller back in the car and both kids back in their car seats, we left for the water. Once there, we figured out how to the load the beach tent, umbrella, chairs, and beach mat along with snacks, sippy cups, changes of clothes and diapers into our trusty red wagon. Everyone changed into swimwear and off we trekked to the sand.

It was approximately 2,000 degrees out and as soon as Roman touched the sand he began to come unhinged. He didn’t want sand on his hands and he didn’t want sand on his feet. His legs most certainly did not work and he desperately wanted to be carried. I was already carrying his sister and his dad was carrying everything else we own in the little red wagon.

So Mr. Roman plopped himself down in that horribly offensive sand and threw a royal temper tantrum. It wasn’t a horrible day, really, it was just another day with kids. All winter my friends talk about how they can’t wait to go to the beach, sit by the water, and read a book. And I chuckle inside a bit because that is not at all how I picture a day at the beach…and that is why I only go once or twice a year.IMG_20180828_174824_398.jpgI know this season of littles will change. Someday when we want to take a trip to the ocean all we will have to do is throw a couple boogie boards at our kids and they will be happy all day—and I will finally get to read that book. But for now, traveling with kids feels a bit more like an obstacle course and a lot less like a vacation.

But we’re not quitters, Darren and I—we spent last night on Google and Amazon trying to figure out how to get ourselves, our children, two car seats, a stroller, and two suitcases through the airport next month. We will travel, watch the world unfold before our children’s eyes, and deal with plenty more tears along the way—both theirs and ours.

Here’s to life with littles and all the misadventures along the way ❤IMG_20180828_170121_273.jpg

When Life is Heavy

This week was hard. Yes, hard in the sense that I’m an American, middle class, white girl who gets to stay home with her babies kinda hard; certainly there are plenty of people who have it harder. I know that, but still. No matter who or where you are in life, we all have days and weeks that are “sanctifying”—this was one of those weeks for me.

Before I go any further, let me say that I’m not sharing this to complain, get pity, or create drama. There’s redemption in the end and that’s the part I’d like to get to but truuust me when I tell you there were a lot of high fevers, crying babies, sleepless nights, poo (I am now referring to Monday as “poo-pocalypse”), long road trips that fell at the worst time, concerns I didn’t anticipate raised by the doctor, and the most humbling trip I’ve ever made to Target that ended with a shopping cart full of groceries abandoned while I did a walk of shame from one end of the store to the other with a baby on my hip and toddler in tow.

It was not a stellar week.

And none of this accounts for the hard conversations about life with friends and family that go far beyond just one hard week.IMG_20180413_194821_948.jpg

If I could sum life up in one word right now it would be heavy. My heart is heavy. My mind is heavy. My body is heavy beneath the weight of it. And I’m weary. I’d like to say that’s all and drop the mic before I give up and walk away. But again, this story doesn’t end that way…and for that I’m so thankful.

I’m learning something right now, especially about how I pray and ask God’s help and blessing over my life. I used to pray, “please let this day go okay” or “please help me get through.” I was seeking immediate relief from immediate circumstances that felt hard and overwhelming. The only “right” answer then would be a day that went smoothly, enough sleep to manage, or not feeling overwhelmed.

But the thing I’m learning is this: Truly growing and putting down deeper roots in my faith means not just praying for a good day but rather praying for the right heart attitude, grace sufficient, and God’s work to progress no matter the circumstances.

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Yes, I would like the days to go smoothly too. But the key is how I respond when everything goes awry. How do I react when, even after I’ve prayed and asked for help, the days are still exhausting and hard? What do I do when I’m frustrated by circumstances out of my control or humbling moments of motherhood that make me question if I’m doing anything right at all?

Whether or not the days go smoothly says almost nothing in comparison to how I react in my heart, mind, and attitude regardless of the circumstances. Growing in my faith means trusting in the heart of God even when life feels like a brick wall on every side. Is God a magic genie I conjure up when I want to wish something away or is he someone I love and trust even when I’m asked to walk through deep waters in order to know him better?IMG_20180510_114445_195.jpg

It’s easy to walk through life thinking everything will be okay on the other side of_____you feel in the blank. Life will be easier once my kids are in school. Life will be easier once my baby sleeps through the night. Life would be so much better if we could just move or if I could just land that certain job.

I find myself doing this in a million smaller ways day-to-day, too. I seek comfort and reprieve in an iced coffee, online shopping or getting five uninterrupted minutes to myself. I tell myself, “I deserve this” or “I just need to get through this day and start over tomorrow.”

But the truth is, no change in circumstances, no temporary pleasure or comfort is actually going to fix anything if I’m not already surrendered in my heart and present situation. Troubles will resolve, one season will change into another, what feels impossible today will nearly be forgotten tomorrow. But where one weed is pulled out in this life to make room for flowers, so more weeds will continue to pop up.IMG_20180503_211214_754.jpg

The truth of my heart and nature is this: The more comfortable I am, the easier it is to drift away from God. Knowing I need God every waking moment also draws me closer to his heart. So while I’m thankful for the simple pleasures that dot this life—the iced coffees and spring flowers—I’m learning to be thankful too for all the hard things that draw me nearer to my true hope and help.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day, which makes me laugh a little considering how this week has gone. In truth, all I want from the day is Chinese takeout and maybe a nap. But regardless of how the day actually goes, I hope I will remember where my hope rests and carry that truth with me into a new week—regardless of the circumstances.

 

Broken Better: Finding Healing in Motherhood—A Guest Post by Rachel Kaye

Today I’m excited to introduce you to my friend (and also, fun fact, my husband’s cousin). I first met Rachel in college and have thought ever since that if I’m ever half as artsy and hip as she is then I’m on my way haha.

Rachel recently had her first baby and after reading some of her words about motherhood on Facebook, I knew right away I wanted to share her heart with you as well.

I’m so thankful Rachel took the time in this busy, sleepless season to pen these words and share a raw piece of her heart with us ❤


There’s a lot of brokenness in motherhood, I’m learning. I see it all around me. Friends who suffer through infertility and miscarriage, long-awaited children born with special needs, adult offspring who alienate themselves from their parents. It’s a joyous thing, motherhood, but it’s also the most violent rending your heart will ever experience.

My own fractures appeared early. First, there was the waiting, the hoping that each new month would bring a baby. Then, there was the expectation. A baby was in my womb. My heart was torn between excitement and fear. How could I care for this new life? Who was I to take on such a momentous task? That fear nearly crippled me.  

We lost that child. I remember hemorrhaging blood on the bathroom floor in a foreign country, far away from my home and family. I learned then just how broken my own body was. I had failed to protect the life developing inside me.

We lost three more babies after that one. With each pregnancy, I opened my heart to love. With each loss, I fled the heartache. I pretended I was a hardened whole, worn but unbroken.

After the years of uncertainty and loss, our beautiful daughter came. I thought the experience would heal me. Instead, I felt the last vestiges of control slipping away.

I saw it first in my body. The terrain of my physical self had changed, stretching to contain a new life. I wrestled with the knowledge that who I was is permanently altered. There was a child within me, and that was magical, but it was also disconcerting. That physical change mirrored emotional and mental ones. I no longer existed merely for myself but now for another too. I’ve long clung fiercely to my own independence and identity, in part because it’s taken so long for me to feel at home in my own skin, but that identity was splintering. 31351501_10155281681741426_5063599612569321472_n

My daughter is now nearly six months old, and I’m just beginning to come to terms with my bruised, torn heart. It’s scary to love this little life. At times, I’ve tried to run from this love. I fear a shattering so complete that I lose myself entirely. The funny thing is, though, as much as I fear it, it’s in losing myself that I’m truly finding myself.

Muscles tear and bones break before they grow stronger so too with motherhood. This daily death to self is where theological concepts like sanctification get fleshed out. By becoming more like Christ, I become more fully the person God created me to be. I’m more me than ever before.

It occurred to me recently that God knows a lot about parenting. He chose me, loved me despite knowing just how much I would hurt him when each of my sins was heaped on him on the cross. The self-sacrificing love I fear was embodied perfectly by the God who rightfully could have walked away.

Love means heartache. It’s an inevitable consequence. I can’t run from the heartache I’ve already experienced. I can’t run from the potential for heartache to come. At some point, my daughter will hurt me. When she does, I’ll heal, but I’ll heal a little different than I was before. That change isn’t a bad thing, though. Each time my heart stretches and tears for love, I have the potential to be made stronger if I just let God do that sanctifying work.

There’s a tendency in our culture to glory in brokenness. As Christians, we should have a slightly different goal. We live in a messed-up world. That’s not something to celebrate. But we should celebrate the God who takes the pieces and makes all things new and whole.

I was created for a purpose. I’m here to glorify God. God is love. I think a large part of glorifying him is modeling his attributes to a hurting world. True rubber-meets-the-road love isn’t easy, though. To love like that, I have to become more myself, more like Christ. I have to take up my cross and follow him. I have to fall apart in order to be made whole. I have to let my heart break in order to love again.


31318374_10155281688306426_3375813839042904064_nRachel Kaye calls Maine home but currently lives in South Carolina with her husband and daughter.

As a child, she promised herself she would never forget what it was like to be young. As she’s grown older, she’s also grown more childlike. Quick with tears and laughter, she endeavors to embrace life in all its joys, pains, and inconsistencies.

At heart a wayward, wandering, restless soul in need of a Savior, Rachel Kaye looks to Jesus, the author and finisher of her faith to direct her path.

You can follow her musings on Instagram at afreckledrachel


 

These are the Days

I wasted a lot of time this winter looking around wishing I could be someone else, doing something else, somewhere else. I spent too many hours looking around watching other people live bits and pieces of their lives while I questioned and struggled against my own beautiful story. I forgot for a while that this beautiful life of mine is just that—mine. A precious gift in my hands. A beautiful story to be told. A blank canvas for life and imagination to be lived out on. All mine. IMG_20180408_170242_475.jpg

Our pastor on Sunday used an illustration about how you might be running and winning a race while you’re looking ahead focused on the goal, but as soon as you start looking around, looking back to see who might be catching up, you veer, you slow down, you begin to lose ground. We need to keep our eyes on the road—our road and not on the person beside us. IMG_20180408_170617_175.jpg

I always seem to be at a different place in life than a lot of the people around me. When I was working, my friends were having babies. When I am having babies, my friends are going back to work. I catch myself always grasping for that next step—for leaving my job and starting a family when I still need to work. For wishing my kids would grow up and go to school so I can go back to work and be with grownups again.

IMG_20180408_093110_222.jpg Only I’ve started to see things differently of late. As spring slowly (ever so slowly) begins to spread frosty green fingers into these last cold days of winter, so a bit of spring has begun to bloom in my heart toward motherhood, home, and the season of life I’m in. I don’t want to run away anymore. I don’t want that job or desk I’ve spent far too long dreaming about while rocking babies and washing dishes.IMG_20180408_153147_326.jpg

For the first time in a really long time, I see what’s right in front of me—and I’m excited about it. I want to be home and “make home.” I’m happy to be “just” a wife and momma. It feels like an adventure I get to dive into instead of a to-do list to check off so I can move onto the next step.

And I find, the more I open my heart to being right where I am, the more I want to put down roots and dive deep into all the possibilities this blank canvas offers. I am beginning to see all I can do with these precious days and hours rather than all I have to do.

IMG_20180408_152731_156.jpgNow of course it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. I find it funny that all day yesterday I had this post I wanted to write tumbling around in my mind—sharing my new love for home and motherhood—and yet it turned out to be one of the absolute hardest days I’ve had as a mom involving a lot of vomit, poo, crying babies, and one frustrated, impatient momma who had espresso for dinner. Just because it’s beautiful doesn’t mean it’s easy.

IMG_20180403_200830_145.jpgBut I’m learning to hold on, to really grab hold of these crazy days and years when life feels like noise covered in dirt. I’m so tired but time is moving so fast and I don’t want to look back and realize I wished it all away or hurried through something I’ll never get back. IMG_20180408_163644_897.jpgThese are the days—long, hard days, but also days filled with laughter, toddler hugs, and baby snuggles. Days watching my husband love not only me but our children in a way I never imagined. Days when we’re all together—sharing the same house, mess, and story.

IMG_20180408_155411_001.jpgSomeday, my children will move away and I’ll sleep through the night, have a house that stays clean, and margin to do some of the things I want but have to set aside for now. But I know when those days come, I will miss the beautiful chaos of today. I’ll miss having my arms full of family and my days filled with the noise of life and growth. IMG_20180408_192924_294.jpg

Today is a new day—hopefully a better day than yesterday. I type these words as my son sits beside me disassembling a lamp (he says he’s fixing it; it’s not broken…yet 😉 ). I see my daughter on the baby monitor, rolling around in her crib cooing and trying to make words. These are the days and I hope I never forget it in the crazy middle chapters of this story we’re writing day by day by day ❤

 

Staying Inspired as a Stay-at-Home Mom

I sit here curled up with my second cup of coffee for the day. A sunshiny morning drifted into afternoon rain and now gives way to chubby flakes of snow. Ahh, snow on the 3rd of April—perhaps I’ll cry some chubby teardrops onto my keyboard while we’re at it.

Both my babies are asleep which has become the case more and more lately. I remember when I was expecting, wondering how nap time would work with two kids and two conflicting schedules. Basically, it was a zoo for eight months but now we’re getting somewhere 😉

It feels like a really long time since we’ve had good weather here. Last summer was kind of a dud—cool, rainy, Gypsy moths stripping the trees so bare it looked as brown as winter in the middle of July. Our days outside were limited and few compared to our normal summertime routine. Summer cooled into a very sickly fall and we were still in survival mode with our newborn. Then winter came as winter always does and has sat on us proud and stubborn ever since.

We are legit stir-crazy and I find myself every day trying to think of an excuse to leave the house and escape these walls for which we’ve spent so much time over the last year. Which in turn has me thinking about this life as a stay-at-home mom and ways it can be enjoyed a little more.

I realize it’s a privilege to stay home with my kids. I know moms who would love to spend their days with their children and with enough time to really “make home.” I’m thankful I get to do what I do—but you guys, sometimes I still want to burn the house down. I like to stay busy, go places, see people, talk to adults sometimes. So being home almost all day every day between these same walls with these same crazy humans can get to you after a while.

In the summertime, I’m a rock star mom lol. We go to the park, the lake and ocean, take long walks, play in the backyard….the TV is almost never on and we’re almost always outside. Then winter comes and I curl up and cry for nine months while Netflix keeps asking if I’m still watching. Rude.

Here’s what I’m trying to say…I am (still, right now, currently) learning how to make these long days at home a little more enjoyable and I wanted to share a few ideas in case you’re curled up crying, too:

Go Places…Even if You’re Alone

I didn’t do a very good job getting out of the house this winter, in part because I couldn’t find anyone to go with. Most of my friends have jobs or homeschool so they’re not available in the middle of a weekday to hang out. But I’ve realized it’s still fun to go places even if it’s just me and my kids. We go to play places, children’s museums, Target (give your kid a bag of that Target popcorn and they’ll ride around happily for a bit while you lose your mind in the $1 section). I love bargain shopping so we go to Marshalls and Home Goods and dig around for deals. I make sure Roman gets to spend some time playing in the toy aisle so it’s fun for him too.

And once it warms up there will be tons of stuff to do outside so it will be even easier to go places together. All I know is, the days and weeks get really long when you stay home all the time so even though it’s work and can be intimidating to go places alone with littles, just throw your stuff in the car and do it; it’ll be good for all of you.IMG_20170519_214606_556.jpg

Stop Hustling for a Minute

I hate the word “hustle,” just for the record. You hear it talked about constantly like the most virtuous and admirable thing you can say about a person is that they’re “hustling”—busy, getting stuff done, moving up.

It’s hard when you’re home and see both how much can be done and how much everyone else seems to be getting done (via social media mostly) to ever feel like it’s okay to sit down and not do anything. This has been a hard lesson for me because I’m a doer and like to be moving and accomplishing. But I’m learning how important it is to my kids and my days just to slow down and hold them or play in the dirt or go for a walk and not constantly be moving onto the next thing.

I think too, that telling people you’re a SAHM can feel a little small and intimidating and it’s tempting to puff your life up with something more—a project or an at-home business so you don’t feel like you’re “just” a mom or “just” a home-maker. I’ve struggled a lot with this and have wrestled with my purpose and identity as a mom. But I’m learning that filling my days with hustle and stuff doesn’t fill a void—it just distracts from what I’m actually here to do—make home and raise a family; the rest needs to fit in secondarily during this season of motherhood.IMG_20180403_161709_370.jpgIMG_20180403_161556_913.jpg

Find Time Alone + Together

Find some time alone away from your house to change up your surroundings and get some fresh perspective. My husband and I try to trade off every few weeks and let each other have a night out. I like to grab dinner (without having to share with anyone, what?!), get a coffee, walk slowly through those bargain stores undistracted, or go to a café and write. And if I can’t get out of the house alone, I try to take advantage of naps and spend some time reading or writing instead of just moving onto the next chore or mess—that stuff will always be there waiting, trust me.

Also, find some time with your husband. Get a sitter and schedule a date or order pizza and have a fun dessert after the kids are in bed. Whatever it takes, make your relationship a priority and keep things fresh.

Love Your Space + Change Things Up

Since you’re going to be spending a whole lotta time at home, make sure you actually like your home as much as possible. I’m not saying things have to be perfect but don’t be afraid to spend some money decorating if you can or shop your own home and change things up every now and then.

Our master bath has been driving me crazy so the other day I decided to move stuff around and borrow from other rooms to get a fresh look. It’s amazing how much of a difference a fresh coat of paint or moving things around can make.

String some twinkle lights up in your bedroom for ambiance, light a candle, buy a cute throw pillow, or put some fresh flowers in vases around the house. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to have big impact.

Get Up Before Your Kids

This is the game changer for me. If I sleep until my kids wake up, the day always seems to descend into anarchy and chaos. No matter how tired I am, it’s worth it to start the day before my kids even if it means trying to take a nap later while they nap or trying to get into bed a little earlier.


A couple other things that help me are getting out of my yoga pants and in real clothes, making my bed and keeping things clean and organized, and having a hobby that doesn’t revolve around my kids (for me, writing, decorating, bargain shopping).

So if you, like me, are struggling to stay inspired during these last painfully long days of winter, I hope this will be an inspiration and encouragement to you. And if you have any other ideas, leave them in the comments—I’m always up for trying something different! ❤

A Piece of the Puzzle

I’ve written a lot about how I’ve struggled as a mom—with my temper, with depression, with regret. I knew motherhood would be hard, I just never imagined how it would be hard or how I would struggle.

But along with all I’ve said about the tough times and the learning curb, I don’t want to fail in sharing the good stuff and the victories too.

Eight months ago today, our daughter was born. Eight months. How do the nine months of pregnancy feel like a small eternity while the first year runs like water through your hands? It’s not fair but here we are with a baby who is trying to give up her morning nap, crawl, pop two teeth through, and laughs at everything her brother does.IMG_20180308_145354_700.jpg

We, all of us, adore her; but that doesn’t mean the last eight months have been easy. If we struggled with our son before our daughter was born, we just about sank after. Bringing our daughter home took every last gain we’d made with our son two steps back and it was discouraging, frustrating and downright heartbreaking at times.

And yet, like so many times before, it was here that I met with God. God is seen in all the beauty and goodness He offers, for sure. But no doubt about it, God is felt and known in the midnight hour when our souls are cracked open and raw with hurt and want.

These last eight months I have needed God in a way I simply didn’t before. And while I fought and wrestled against Him at first, for a while to be honest, I have found God to be waiting with open arms on the other side of the struggle. Mostly, I just needed to realize how much I need Him and to taste and see how willing He is to meet me with hope and answers in the struggle.

Have you ever prayed a prayer and known without question that God answered you—that there was simply no other explanation beyond Him moving and working on your behalf? I had a moment like that a few weeks ago.

I have long prayed for wisdom about how to reach my son’s heart and how to build a relationship with him. I reached out for help and read lots of books and tried to be open to advice when given. But still, everything seemed to fall flat and end in more frustration and heartache. But still I prayed. What else could I do? I knew I desperately needed wisdom and help only God could give so I asked Him for it and hoped, someday, I would find an answer.

One night we sat at dinner, struggling to get through the meal as we often do with lots of, “I don’t like this food” and “sit down and take a bite.” Without ever thinking about it before, honestly, until the words were coming out of my mouth, I told Roman he should hurry up and eat because after dinner and getting his sister in bed, we could stay up and have a special time together eating popcorn and ice cream and watching a show.

I’ve never seen a kid change his speed so fast. He might not want to eat his dinner but he fo sho wanted to stay up with us watching shows. After I said it, I wasn’t even sure if we had ice cream or popcorn or if Darren would be up for him staying up late. I put his sister to bed and came downstairs to find Roman all set up in the living room with his snacks, show picked out, and telling his dad that they couldn’t start the show until I was in there too. I thought I would tidy the kitchen quickly while they started but he insisted I be in there to begin :] So we piled on the couch together and had a super fun night spending some time focused on just our boy.

It seems like such an obvious thing, spending some special one-on-one time with just him while his sister sleeps but somehow it had honestly never occurred to me how we could make that work before this moment. But here we are, a few weeks later and every single night, as soon as I start prepping dinner, Roman starts telling me about how after dinner and baths and jammies and once sissy is in bed, we’re going to stay up together watching a show and eating ice cream and popcorn—and we do. And he is such a different kid from the little guy we were struggling so hard with just a few weeks ago.IMG_20180320_122227_888.jpg

Is everything perfect and easy now? No, not at all. After all, he’s still just 3 years old and we’re all still sinners. But I can’t even explain what a difference it has made in our relationship with him, his relationship with his sister, or the overall vibe of our family. It’s a “God did this” thing for sure and an undeniable answer to my prayer for wisdom.

God knows each of us, made each of us. God knows the workings and makeup of this 3 1/2 year old who so mystifies me at times. And in that, God knew what his little heart needed— t i m e.  And that is perhaps what has moved me the most—not just that God saw and heard me and my heart but that he also saw the hurts and needs of a little boy and met even him, a little child, in his need for time and attention.

When you are parenting a small child, you are the face of God. I don’t mean that irreverently but it’s true. A child does not know or understand much about God and in fact a lot of what you tell your children about God they will believe simply because you said it. If I tell my son God loves him, as I do, and then fail to show him the love of God in my attitudes and actions toward him, what have I now shown him about this God of mine? It’s a sobering, humbling thought—that my life, for a time at least, speaks God (the true God or lies about that God) into my children’s hearts.

But God is good and gracious. He answered me in one small way for now at least. And in doing so, He is showing His heart and love to both my boy and his needy momma ❤IMG_20180321_130404_078.jpg