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Christmas is NOT Cancelled, It’s ON!

So, I read this article/blog post about cancelling Christmas.

And then I got sad.  And then I panicked because what if I’m-a-lesser-Christian-because-I-haven’t-cancelled-Christmas-for-my-own-sinful-children.  They take after their mama.  But I’m sure not gonna cancel Christmas for myself.  Nope, I like presents.  I guess I’m entitled.

Now we did try the 3 symbolic gifts last year for gold, frankincense, and myrrh.  And it felt very religious of us, but it didn’t feel right, for us.  We’ve certainly debated Santa (and the verdict is…he’s coming!).  In fact he’ll be arriving early.  He’s coming on the 22nd because he knows we have very special family that we like to spend the holidays with.  So he comes special for us so we can have our Christmas at our house and have Christmas with all our family.  He sure does like family.

And I’ve certainly debated how many presents are enough and how many are too many.  Should we do a set number or a set dollar amount?  Should we?  Shouldn’t we?  Should we?

And I think I’ve landed on the other side of the fence.  We’re doing Christmas!  The more the merrier, right?  You see, one of my love languages is gifts.  I love to give ’em and get ’em.  I plan all year for this, literally.  I put money aside out of our budget every month to save for Christmas.  I buy gifts all year long as I think of things and see things that I think the people that I love would love.  I have lists and lists for this.

But back to my children and the child psychologist that I am NOT.  They get two days a year, Christmas and their birthday.  Or, one, if you’re my Hannah.  I really just have a hard time believing that it’s going to completely ruin them and turn them into entitled sinners if they get too many presents for Christmas.  I mean, they’re already entitled little sinners before all this Christmas stuff even came into discussion, right?  So, maybe it’s not so bad for us to give them presents on Christmas (and their birthday and any other day we want).  Maybe it’s okay for them to know that they’re special and that people who love them spent time and money buying/making them presents.  Maybe they’ll be ungrateful.  Maybe they’ll be thankful.  Maybe they’ll cry.  Maybe they’ll laugh.  And maybe, in the end, it’ll all be ok.

And, honestly, I like to buy presents for my kids.  My kids, my entitled, selfish, spoiled, hateful, mean, and sinful children.  Why?  Because I love them no matter what.  Their getting of gifts doesn’t depend on their attitude or behavior.  You see where this is going, right?  I happen to think that I reflect the Father a little when I give good gifts to my children.  He certainly does this for me.  And the reality is that he outgives me every time.  (Matthew 7:11 “ If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”)  Now, I’m no Bible scholar or child psychologist and I’ve not done any studies or surveys, so surely don’t just take my word for it.  But, I think I turned out ok.  And we had a nativity and Santa growing up.  I love Jesus and Santa.  I mean, not in the same way or anything, but still, they both give me good gifts without me asking or deserving it.

P.S. – And please don’t cancel Christmas just because some chick and some dude in blogland did and it got posted on the Today show website.

Forever Really Isn’t That Long

So, prepare yourself.  You’re either going to be jealous or tad bit smug.  Jealous because both my girls are in school or smug because one of them is only in half-day preschool.

At any rate, I ran by myself this morning while the girls were in school with no thought to having to get someone to watch them while I left the house.  And then I came home and cleaned.  Dusted, vacuumed, mopped, tub, toilet, etc.  And you know what…it actually stayed that way for a bit!  And I got to clean with no interruptions.  This is a seriously good thing.  2 hours and 35 minutes every day child free.  Errands by myself are a breeze.  Volunteering.  Meeting with people.  I do what I want, yo.  Although my little Banana might have caught on because she’s started giving me errands to run while they’re at school.  You know, she needs her medicine and the dogs need their food and I should probably do those things while they’re gone to school.  Yeah, sure, I’ll get right on that, 5 1/2 year old.

But you know what I thought at one point this morning?  “Oh, you know, that really wasn’t forever.”  You see, I actually used to think that I would be in “that” season forever.  “That” season where I was constantly doing everything for 2 other humans.  Where I ran on exhaustion more often than not.  Where I didn’t get consistent full nights sleep for like 6 years.  Yes, I said 6 years even though my little Banana isn’t 6 yet because lets be honest you don’t exactly get a full nights sleep when you’re pregnant.  Where I couldn’t do anything without making sure that my children where in someone’s care.  Where I couldn’t eat a hot meal.  You get the drift.

So, weary moms, be encouraged, I have arrived to a season with a break.  It really does exist.  Who knew???  And it won’t take you forever to arrive.  Oh, be sure, it will feel like forever.  It feels like an impossibility.  A dream world.  A mirage.  But it’s not.  And someday you will join me.  And then we will join those with children in full-time school and then in jr high and then driving (which I’m personally looking forward to so that I have my own personal shoppers) and then college.  It may take years to get to the next season, but for most of us, the next season does exist.  In my world, it took 6 years.  And that felt.like.FOREVER.  But now I’m here and it’s kind of nice.

And looking back, I’m glad I did it.  I was stretched and pulled (sometimes quite literally) and tested far more than any other 6 years of my life.  And I think, I think, that I came out more refined and less selfish than when I went into “that” season.  I have to believe that God used all those trials for my good.  I can certainly assure you that I look more like Jesus now than I did 6 years ago.  And for that, I’m grateful.  Although I kinda wish there had been an easier way to get here.

To be sure this season will have its challenges.  My little banana has apparently already cried at school several times because mean little girls told her that her drawing was ugly or they didn’t want her to be best friends with anybody else or they scared her on the playground.  And so it begins.  But, it begins with a mom who’s a little less exhausted, a little less man-handled during the day, a little more rested, a little more margin, and a little more hormonally balanced (thank goodness for my Yasmin).

You know what, it really didn’t take forever.  It really was worth it.  And I’m really glad I’m slowly but surely moving on from it.

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What is the hardest season you’ve been through?

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Ready or Not

I’ve been feeling it all week.  I knew it was coming.  And now it’s here.  My little H’s first day of kindergarten.  We got up in plenty of time.  Got her lunch packed, backpack ready, first day pictures taken, loaded up the car, and taken to school.  She was so excited!  She’s in class with her best friend from last year and she couldn’t be more thrilled.  Good luck, Teacher.  😉

I mean, who doesn’t LOVE kindergarten?  It’s pretty much the best grade.  EVER.  Although she’s not impressed by the thought of having to do crafts.  She is certain that they’ll be way too hard for her and so she’s just going to hate it in advance.  I can totally relate.

So, if I know she’s going to love it and do great at it and I’m going to enjoy the break, why is it so freaking hard?

I going to miss her.  For the past 3 1/2 years (and more before that) I’ve spent almost every day with her.  It’s been my job to do things for her and teach her.  Now there’s another woman.  That blasted “other woman”.  Suddenly, someone else has a tremendous amount of influence in her life and will be teaching her things and experiencing things with her.  Um, that kinda sounds like my job.  I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up to a lady that I met just a few days ago and have had all of 4 minutes conversation with.

Oh, and did I mention that kids are mean.  They’re going to hurt her little feelings and make her cry.  My umbrella of protection and control just shrunk considerably.  And I don’t think I like it.

You see up until now, I’ve been able to choose what I want to do for her, how I want to help her, train her, who she spends her time with, and who her friends are.  I could do a lot to protect her and prevent things proactively.  Now, it’s going to be more of a pick-the-pieces-up-after-they-crash sort of thing.

I lost a lot of control today.  I suppose that’s good and bad, but mostly just part of it.  I guess this is why God lets us do this in small steps.  I mean, shoot, my aunt has to drop her baby off in a different town, at a different house (aka dorm), with all new people, and basically no control.  Ugh, that’s sounds like a horror flick to me right now.  Maybe kindergarten isn’t so scary.

Maybe it’s another reminder that she’s not mine.  And that God loves her more than I ever will.  Do I trust his story for her (and for me) more than I trust my own for her life (and my life)?  His umbrella is bigger than mine ever was.

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PS – (Less than an hour to go and I can officially say I we made it through the day!)

Hi, I’m Still Alive.

Just in case you were wondering.

What have I been doing?  Oh, you know, a little bit of this and that.  Mostly driving myself crazier and crazier.  I’m sure my family thinks that I have gone totally cray cray.   I am a little bit up and down.  And by a little bit, I mean A LOT.

It took one thing to totally take me by surprise and throw me off my rocker.  Not sure if it was that one thing hitting deeper than I realized or the hormones or maybe both.  Anyways, not too happy with God lately for these blasted hormones.  I mean, I know he made women to have hormones and be up and down, but seriously.  I kinda envy the men folk (or at least Husband and several other men I know) for being all even keel and steady and such.  (Well, I only envy them until I get really excited or angry and want a reaction from them and then suddenly I’m infuriated by their steadiness.  I mean, c’mon, a little emotion please.)  The joke is that I married Mr. Grace.  And let me tell you, it’s a darn good thing I did.  I sure did need that grace last week, and yesterday, and today, and probably tomorrow too.

Anyways, so I’m still learning how to drift on these emotional tides.  This time what I did was just quit.  I mean not in a bad way, but I gave up trying to keep up with the dishes and the laundry and keeping my house all together.  I gave trying to be a perfect mom, ha, like that’s going to happen anyways, and I gave myself some space.  The girls got a little introduction to the cray cray tides of mommy.  You know, where one minute you’re screaming at them and the next you’re making their day by taking them to McDonalds and the park.  Yep, we ate McDonalds.   That’s when you know it’s bad.  When you’ll take them to McDonalds so you don’t have to fix a PB&J.  By the way, one of my least favorite things to do in life is make PB&J sandwiches.  Ridiculous, I know, it’s not like its rocket science but I’ll do a lot to get out of making one, case in point McDonalds.

When the swings of emotion (depression, hormonal, or life) hit I’m learning to just ride it.  I might as well just feel it rather than pretend I’m not totally swinging from the chandelier and stuff.   And if we were fancy enough to have a chandelier I might have literally swung from it last week just to get a break.  I’m trying not to yell (well, not as much as I really want to) even when things totally drive me nuts or when I’m livid.  I’m trying not to be hateful, demeaning, and condemning when I talk to the girls.  I’m trying to just tell them that I’m sad or that I my heart hurts and it makes me grouchy and that I’m sorry.  Because one day (like tomorrow) they’re going to have these crazy emotions too and I want them to know that it’s ok to have bad days, grouchy days, sad days, and that there is love and grace and acceptance on those days too.

I’m learning that no matter what causes the down swing of emotions, that I am not in control, but thankfully I know the one who is.  And He’s big enough to hear my complaints and begging for things to change.  He’s also big enough not to be swayed by my crazy swings of emotion.

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On the Edge of Crazy

You know I had a counselor once that said a very wise thing.  It’s something that I have gone back to on multiple occasions.  It doesn’t change my circumstances, it doesn’t fix anything, but it does make me feel a little less crazy.  Are you ready for it?

Paraphrased: You guys are in the hardest season on your lives.  You’re parents of young children, at the bottom of your pay scale (hopefully), running your own business, and away from your family.  You are doing more work now than any other season and more work than most people.  (Her words not mine.)

I mean seriously, anybody else get super tired of waking up thinking, well, once I get out of this bed there will be no stopping.  I will literally have something that needs to be done (and then some) every waking moment that I have.  I will never get caught up.  I will go to bed with the same stuff on my list as the night before and then some.

As I type I look at my disaster of a kitchen and 2 loads of laundry on the bed (unfolded of course), the dryer just dinged, and the washing machine is still running.  Does it ever end?  I’m afraid not.  I’m pretty sure it’s the curse of the earth.  Everything fights against us, including those “sweet” little beings that we birth.  It’s a good thing kids are cute.

I’m a task-oriented extroverted person so maybe this is harder for me than it is for some of you.  Maybe this is me being forced to continue learning the never-ending lesson that people and experiences are more important than perfect, clean, and completion.  In fact, maybe I’ll start retraining my mind (insert sarcasm), “Self, look at it this way, with all the added things to do you get to create more check-lists, you get to check more off, there is more opportunity for organization” (end sarcasm).

I know.  I know.  “Treasure these years.”  “They grow up so fast.”  “They’ll be gone before you know it.”  Blah blah blah.  One painstaking day at a time and it sure doesn’t feel fast.  It feels slower than molasses.

Yes yes I know.  This could be the depression or the hormones talking.  Tomorrow I could quite possibly wake up and regret writing this.  But, truth be told, this represents more than just today.  Now, I don’t always feel so miserable or resent it as much.  And mostly I’m happy to be where I am.  I’m not jumping off a cliff or anything (so family, don’t lose any sleep over this).  But I do get tired.  And I’m guessing this is normal??

Another opportunity to preach the gospel to my own heart.  What in the world does that look like?  Heck if I know.  In my head it sounds like these questions.  Am I putting others’ interests before my own?  Is this bricks with no straw (more on that in a later post or read Redemption).  Has God given me the tools that I need?  Am I alone?  Is God’s story for my life better than the story that I would write for my life?  Also, I spend a lot of time praying what I’m actually feeling and thinking instead of pretending to God that I’m enjoying everything that I have to do or pretending that this is easy.

Practically speaking, I really am trying to retrain my mind.  Which usually sounds like this, “Self, are you going to want to do this later?  Um, no, idiot, I’m not.  Well then, do it now and get it over with.  (little kid mimicking voice) You do it now and get it over with.”  Or it sounds like this, “C’mon, just do it.  Just finish folding this basket.  Just finish one more thing.  Just look at this 12 inches.  Now, just look at this 12 inches.”  Or “OTIO.  Only.Touch.It.Once.  C’mon don’t move it, put it away.  OTIO.”  Also you should know that in my head it sounds like Oh-Teeeee-Oh.

End rant.  Sorry everyone.  That’s what today felt like.  Thank goodness my momma is coming in the morning!

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Any other moms of young kids feel crazy like me?

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Holding Tight at 4 & 2

Folks, you read that right.  For right now, we’re holding tight at 4 humans and 2 dogs.  Not sure if or when that will change.  It could change at any given moment.  And seeing as I’m the world’s worst secret keeper I’m sure I’ll let you know in about 10 seconds once it changes.

No freaking clue what we’re doing as far as adoption goes.  Maybe someday we will.  For now, we’re content with 2 little girls.  I may have even had a minor freak out moment the other day and told Chad in the utmost of seriousness that there is no way in this world we can possibly adopt a girl.  Basically because I refuse to raise any more children with double sex chromosomes.  Three daughters???  Not in this house.  We already have 4 double sex chromosome carriers here…Me, Banana, Bear, and as Bear will always point out, Lizzie (the dog).

And he pretty much ignored me because that’s what he does when I’m clearly being ridiculous.  Although to be fair, I don’t actually realize that I’m being ridiculous in that moment.  It’s not until later that I realize it may have been my double sex chromosomes talking and not so much logic, reason, or the love of Jesus.  (And, no, I can’t for the life of  me seem to figure out why my little Banana feels all her emotions so strongly.  Hmm, now where would she have gotten that from?  **finger tapping on head**)

So imagine my surprise when THE VERY NEXT DAY, yes you read that right, less than 24 hours later God decides to speak to me.  Not audibly, but c’mon, I usually know when its Jesus talking and not my ridiculousness.  He pretty much whispered to me, while I was filing papers and had a giant mess spread all over my bedroom floor (because it’s ok if it’s my mess), that I may have been thinking a little selfishly.  I mean, I may lose my temper occasionally, and not let the girls help when cooking as much as I ought (their mess just stresses me out, folks.  I mean, do you know how long it takes to clean up flour??), and I may not be perfect (hard to believe, I know), and I may not have a clue how to do this motherhood thing, but I am a mother and I do love my girls and surely I’m a better mom than no mom at all.  Could I really be so selfish and ridiculous to think that some little girl would rather stay in an orphanage with no mom or dad than to come live in an imperfect house with an imperfect mom, dad, and two sisters that would love her like crazy.  Love her like Jesus.

So I had to tell Husband the next night that maybe we could still adopt a little girl.  After all, I may been overreacting a tad and I might have been a tad on the ridiculous side.  He may have rolled his eyes at me.  This is why he’s Mr. Steady (or Steadfast as he says…I tell him he’s not Jesus so he can’t have the Steadfast title).  And I’m Mrs. Roller Coaster.  Raising a mini-roller coaster (or two).  Maybe I’ll adopt another mini-roller coaster.  All the ups and downs might make us puke, but who knows maybe we’ll be the funnest house on the block.  And we’ll be so much fun that we’ll say funnest even when we should say most fun.

Oh my goodness, it’s a good thing that when God adopted me it was for LIFE.  And that my ridiculousness won’t get me kicked off the ride.  It’s for life and beyond.  He is steadfast.

And until something changes, us 4 double sex chromosome girls are gonna stick together have us some fun (and drama and yells).

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Are all girls dramatic or is it just my house?

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Since U Been Gone

Ok, so that has nothing to do with this post.  But that song just keeps running through my head.  Pitch Perfect, anybody?  And now you’re singing it, aren’t you?  You’re welcome.

So, I got a job.  A very part-time job.  I set my own hours.  Accounting and office stuff.  And I sleep with the boss.  This is either going to be the best job ever or we’re going to hate each other.  Wish us luck.

We actually incorporated which is just business speak for more paperwork and more numbers and new accounts.  Just the reason to need more office work and more to do to keep the paper side of the business running smoothly.  Enter nerdy wife.  And I get a REAL paycheck!  I write it myself.  ha  Every woman’s dream, right?  Well, I do have to actually log my hours and answer to my husband so I’ll let you weigh out the pros and cons.  For right now I’m super excited.

I actually really love paperwork and accounting and bookkeeping and excel.  You know why?  None of those things can talk back to me or spit food on me or destroy my house or scream in my face.  However, they also don’t run up to me first thing in the morning and yell, “SURPRISE!  I LOVE YOU!”.  You know you gotta love the emotions of my 5-year old strong-willed child.  When she feels emotions they’re strong and when it’s love directed at you…it’s just the best feeling.  It is not so much the best feeling when she’s angry, yelling, and stomping her feet at you.  I’m telling you, she feels every emotion STRONGLY.  End rabbit trail.

I’m a working girl.  I realize that I’m a mom and I work and I’m productive every single day raising two small children, keeping 2 dogs alive, and keeping up with my husband’s insane schedule.  But I really do like being productive at something that I’m actually good at, something that I actually have a degree in, and something that makes me feel like I know just a little bit and that I might know what I’m doing.

And in case you just met me, like 5 seconds ago, because I don’t hide this at all,  I pretty much have no clue what I’m doing in this whole motherhood deal.  I have a lot of opinions, sure, but I have a lot of doubts and a lot of moments of winging it.  Yes, for a type A, excel, budget-loving girl, I wing it A LOT in motherhood.  A LOT.  Shocking for a planner like me.

Not sure at all how I ended up here.  Lots of little rabbits in this post.  It’s like a puzzle for you to figure out.  See, a gift.  I gave you a puzzle.

To sum up, I got a part-time job.  I am now officially employed by Stuehlmeyer Building & Renovation Company.  We sat down and decided that we would pick the business name with the most letters.  And I think we succeeded.  Enter rabbit: in case you didn’t know…my husband is amazing.  He can quite literally fix everything, build anything, and make the existing better.  He does great work.  He recycles almost every material that he can.  He’s trust-worthy.  If you need something fixed, built, or improved, he’s your guy.  We’re in the process of switching over our website and branding, but for now you can visit us at www.sr-stl.com .  End sales pitch.

And I don’t know what I’m doing in motherhood.

That pretty much sums it all up.

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What is your favorite color?  ha  That’s just a rabbit to see if you’re actually reading all these words.

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