Monday, April 30, 2012

Snapshots of love and motherhood

 I've had a really, really good day with my children.  Jubilee's birth really changed me. Her birth (and events after) gave me a huge amount of patience, maybe because, after all of that, everything else seems like no big deal.  It's an amazing gift because, um, yeah- I really struggled with patience prior to her birth. That's been one of my long-standing prayers: Lord, grant me patience!

I've come to really enjoy the moments, even the moments which would normally grate on my nerves.  I guess you could say that I've come to accept the chaos and even appreciate it.  It's definitely not that my household is calm and serene, that's for sure! I feel like, and this is going to sound weird (because it sounds weird to me) that I just see the beauty in everything now. My heart is almost always overflowing with joy. I can't explain it, but life is so precious.  God keeps using my daughters in miraculous ways to concrete that within me. I see the gifts now, the blessings big and small.  Over the years, God has changed my perspective on so many things— money, marriage, motherhood— and He continues to teach and grow me in ways that, yes, can be painful but are so worth it.

We must have worn her out yesterday! She's been a snoozy baby today!! #miracle #babynumberfive #family #love #sixweeksold #daughter #newborn #baby #sunshine
I believe we learn far more from the process of raising children than our children learn from us.  Children have a way of mirroring our flaws— showing us where we are most vulnerable—and God desires to use our children to bring to light our weaknesses so we can be mended.  I know I spend a lot of time examining myself, beating myself up for the shoulda coulda wouldas of motherhood. It's hard not to because I see my shortcomings so clearly.  My faults seem to glare back at me when I look in the figurative mirror. I have to remind myself that God is in the process of perfecting me, refining me.  I don't have to beat myself up, I just need to surrender it all to Him, knowing He's working it out.  I just keep praying for God to ice over those shortcomings with a thick layer of grace (for my children's sake)!

Thing is, Evangeline doesn't go to bed thinking about all her mistakes and bloopers.  She goes to sleep safe and secure in the love of her parents and wakes knowing we'll be there to hug and kiss on her, nourish and guide her, play and love on her. Maybe that's why the bible tells us to be as little children.  She doesn't ever doubt that we love her.  Whenever she's hurt or sad, she runs to us.  Whenever she's happy, she seeks us out to share her smile.  Child-like faith and trust.

Children are amazing. I mean, they are so trusting and so forgiving.  There have been times when I've had to sit down with the kids and say, "Look, I failed you. I made some mistakes. I'm sorry, and I'm going to do things differently."  Sometimes we've had to make rule changes because we have realized our approach was all wrong, or we were allowing something we shouldn't.  Sometimes we've had to apologize for being short with a child or breaking a promise.  I hope by being honest with them, they'll learn it's okay to admit you were wrong, that apologies(repentance) are important and healing, and everyone makes mistakes.

#son #mother #motherhood #family 

Each of my children are different and unique.  It's not always easy pouring my life into theirs; it's exhausting, to be honest.  Motherhood is not for sissies, that's for sure! As soon as I get one part of parenting figured out, the critters enter another phase that seems like foreign territory to me. I don't have many families I can look to and say, "Yep, that's how I want to parent," or "That's what I desire for my family."  I'm so glad Brandon and I don't have to go it alone though.  The Lord has been good to guide us through this journey!

Have you read The Pouring Out or my other blog, The Fighting Faith?

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crawfish, sha!

We hosted a little "crawfish festival" at our house Saturday. Imagine our tiny backyard packed with, oh, a little over thirty of our favorite folks.

And sixty-something pounds of these guys:

Eeeaaat me!

Mark, Terry, Orlando, Debbie, and Rebecca going to town, y'all!

My hubby giving a lesson on how to "shuck them crawdaddies".

Rebecca, Mark, Ezra, and Chance

And look, all us ladies with new babies!
Becky with Joshua, Me with Jub'ee, and Lindsey with Aila (2 weeks old!).
(Btw, Molly Jo Jubilee is now 9 1/2 lbs! Nanci weighed all the babies that day.)

And you too can get a lesson from my cajun man on how to peel crawfish:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Diaper explosion!

We had one of those diaper blowouts this morning.  You know the sort- they not only squish out the legs, but out the front and back as well.  How can a little baby produce so much poop?

It was actually kind of comical, especially since I had her resting over my belly, her stomach on my stomach, and when I lifted her up I realized the front of her shirt was completely soaked with liquid poo- the bright yellow breastmilk kind.  I wasn't expecting that!

But hey, she got her third real bath of her life today!

You know, motherhood... it can be stressful, but I have found that laughter is the best medicine (well, after prayer) for that. In the beginning of my motherhood journey, that sort of thing would have totally ruined my day.  (Honestly, I probably wouldn't have known how to deal with it without getting poop everywhere!)  Instead, my husband and I just rolled with it, laughing and joking.

Don't forget to check out my other blogs, including my newest-

Monday, April 16, 2012

Morning Routines: Maybe this will work?

I've been trying to figure out how to get the kids to follow through with the morning routine on their own without Mama having to give them step-by-step reminders. I had printed out these really cute routine cards from, but I didn't know how to display them for the children.  My first thought was to put them in these little wooden IKEA frames I have, but then I decided to use another frame and downsize the images.  I set it on the kitchen table every morning, and it's worked really well these last few days, so hopefully that continues!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homeschooling is...

Having the whole family gather around the computer to check out the new educational software we're using to take some of the load of Mama!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

Nursing buddies

Remember my friend Becky who was pregnant the same time I was (also with her fifth?)  Well, we were once pregnant-buddies, now we're nursing-buddies! You can tell our babies' genders by the blankets we use to cover up with. *Smile*

(Photo by Shae)

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tot Play & Learn area

Do you have an organized "play and learn" area for your tot?

I reorganized and refreshed our toddler play area the other day, taking out toys she was no longer interested in, adding more for her to explore, etc.  While this area is meant for Evangeline, our other children love it as well, especially the building blocks!

Life, so far, as a Mother of Five

{Chalkboard Brandon and I made.  This is the verse I wrote on there as a reminder during my labor and birth, and has pretty much been the motto of my life since.}

I've been asked, What is the biggest change I've experienced in my promotion to a mother of five?  Well, for one, I burn a lot more food.  Apparently that is my new talent as MO5. Thankfully, it's all been salvageable! With two babies calling for my attention (one, the other, or both!), it's hard to focus on a preparing a meal. And, let me tell you, whenever I enter the kitchen to cook something, chaos ensues. I feel like God has granted me an immense amount of patience (which I don't normally have, especially in the mornings) as I have been able to move smoothly through the mornings and meal times without my head exploding (or my mouth, with snappy words).

I'm trying to get into some sort of routine in the mornings and evening, book-ending the days with intentional "date" with the Lord. Sometimes it's just a snippet, a few verses in Psalms that keep me going or a quick devotional "snack" from Jesus Calling.  Other times I get to devour a whole chapter, maybe two. I take what I can get, knowing that one verse has the power to nourish just as much as one chapter.

#whatimdoingrightnow Nursed, diaper changed, and content while I read my bible. What are YOU doing? Wakey wakey! #tea #tazo #whatimdoingrightnow
My morning buddy #sisters #siblings #newborn #toddler
  I sip tea, she sips OJ
The God-gifted patience has allowed me to really enjoy the mornings, to breathe them in and relish them knowing they will quickly pass. These last few mornings, Evangeline has toddled out with her "tea hat" on, ready for a little tea time with Mama. I sip tea (a mixture of Vanilla Bean and Tazo Awake), she sips watered down OJ. Sometimes I get the opportunity to read my bible or devotional while she perches on the edge of her chair, swinging her chubby little legs back and forth. 

I've decided the best way to get in some one-on-one with Merika is to do some cooking. She loves participating in all things homemaking, it's educational, and it gives us some treasured Mother-Daughter moments. Yesterday we made cookies (we put in the chocolate by hand as we wanted to use three different kids- Andes mints, white chocolate, and semi-sweet).  I keep saying I'm going to teach her how to use the sewing machine, and I'd really like to make good on that. 

There's always a lot of "Lego-ing" going on in this casa. I love Legos because everyone can join in on the fun, no matter their age.  Evangeline even enjoys Legos (thankfully she's not the sort to stick stuff in her mouth).  When my nephew was here (age 12), they had lots of Lego fun.  Today I took Nolyn to the store where he bought a new Lego Creator set (it's a motorcycle and can also be made into two other things) with his own money.  He earned some of it from working with Brandon on that side job (the outdoor kitchen).  I love that he's learning what it's like to work hard and save for something you really want.  Playing Legos is a great way to get in focused time with the boys. I loved Legos as a kid, so I'm well-versed in Legonese. *Grin*

Chocolate chip cookies of three varieties :) #homeschool is so tasty fun! #whatimdoingrightnow Watching Merika and my nephew, Hunter, do the Lego thing while I nurse the wee one. Legos are great #homeschool tools! They teach children how to follow directions and encourage them to use their imaginations!

#clothdiapers (tinkle traps brand) #dayinthelife #ditl #whatimdoingrightnow Twinsies! #motherhood #merikalyn

My days are full of a lot of diaper changes.  I'm really glad we chose to cloth diaper Molly Jo as it's super simple, and I know we have already made up for the cost of the newborn and small cloth diapers I purchased.  Cloth diapering a breastfed newbie is so easy as you don't have to rinse diapers.  Everything dissolves in the wash and rinses fairly clean.  Breast milk poo does stain a bit, but that doesn't bug me. I need to set up a new clothes line to sun my diapers.  Sun gets out those stains out pretty well!

Cloth diapering Evie hasn't been as much fun, especially since she had a little too much dairy and her poos have been rather disgusting. (Not that toddler poo is ever rainbows and jelly beans.) She seems to be okay if she just has a little, but she's had quite a bit since we went to the yogurt place the other day, she had a cheese stick for a snack, and had cheese on her sandwich... all in one day!  Whooooops. Bad Mama! Needless to say, we're doing disposables with her for the time being to give my gag reflex a break!

#dayinthelife #ditl After tiring of spices and such avalanching on me, I finally reorganized the cabinet. We have too many seasonings, but we use them all! It's kind of freaky how much she looks like me...

I've been in that clean, organize, and simplify mode again, so yesterday I tackled the cabinets where I keep our seasonings and such.  I was tired of things avalanching out on me. We have a lot of seasonings! It's right by the stove/oven, so there have been times when I have been looking for something and knocked things out and into a pot! One time one of the shakers broke and spilled celery seed into a pot of rice. I was able to dig most of it out, but we had some celery flavoring in our rice that day! I haven't worked on the homeschool room/closet anymore, but I still plan on getting it completely knocked out by the close of the weekend.... hopefully with some Hubby-help!  

Love her! Giving sister pretend spoonfuls :)
I spend a good bit of time protecting Molly Jo from Evangeline who absolutely adores her sister but is a little rough. I know she can't wait for Molly Jo to get a bit bigger so she can play with her!  I try to give her plenty of opportunities to hold the baby and even "play" with her, as much as you can play with a newborn.  Yesterday, she pretend-spoon-fed Molly Jo.  It was pretty stinkin' adorable.

I also spend a good amount of time watching my baby do what she does best- be absolutely adorable.  *Smile*  We had a late playdate with the G family (that used to live with us, remember them?). It was a beautiful evening.  It's been pretty hot during the day time, but the evenings have been breezy and perfect. My concern is, if it's this hot and it's only April, what is summer going to be like?  Southern Texas summers are no joy to begin with, but... I was really hoping Spring would be more.... Springy?  Molly Jo slept in my lap the entire time the kids played outside.  I chatted with Becky while she held her little one (Joshua who is exactly a month older than Molly Jo).  I was glad they came over. 

  She's just so amazing. My sweet God-breathed miracle.

She's just so precious. PRECIOUS.  Oh, I should mention, I learned that Molly Jo's heart stopped being for longer than 10 seconds, but Nanci couldn't be sure just how long. I suppose she said it was "over ten seconds" and all I heard was "ten seconds" and, well, let's face it... 10 seconds is long enough to be without a heartbeat, long enough to make a huge impact on me, long enough to make me realize what a huge miracle she is.

Anyway, so now that I've shared pictures from yesterday, how about I get totally caught up and share today's?

#totplay #toddler #totschool #homeschool #totschool #homeschool #toddler #totplay #baby {19 months}

She ate her dinner and is jacking mine! Mmmmm chicken

Little stinker ate all her food, and then jacked mine!  My friend Allison brought by food this evening. I was super excited when she said she was going to bring us a meal because I know she's a health nut like we are, so we'd score a delicious, healthy meal.  She brought baked drumsticks, brown rice, black-eyed peas, and a steamed vegetable medley (squash, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots... yum!).  I was really tired (even though I had gotten in a great nap), so it was nice not to have to worry about supper (and lunch for tomorrow, for the matter!).

These boots are 8 years old! Big sister wore them!  He bought a new Lego creator set today with his own money he EARNED from working hard with Dad. 

Evangeline finally fits into her pink boots... which were once Merikalyn's! GAH! Merika is going to be NINE in a month.  I can't believe it!  Homeschooling is going... slow, but we're slowly getting back into that groove.  I have more to write, but Evangeline is sitting next to me and keeps taking my arm... and hugging/snuggling it.. so.... adios my friends!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Pouring Out

Four or so years ago, God gave us this desire to move out to the country and live a simple life. Now, if you knew me before all of this, you would know that sort of thing would not have been very appealing to me. I really liked the city, and the idea of being out in the middle of no where and getting my hands dirty? Like, ew. When I was a kid, I would have loved to live out in the country. I was a tomboy, and loved getting dirt under my nails, but somewhere in my late teens and early twenties, I had definitely become quite the priss. In fact, the idea of working hard... actually having to work with my hands and work up a sweat... yeah, no thanks.

So, you can see how much of a change it has been for me to have my desires completely flip flopped. Brandon and I went from desiring a bigger house, nicer cars, more stuff, more money to just wanting to simplify. A lot of people thought we were nuts when we started talking about building what is called a "tiny house" and cramming our growing family in less square footage (so we could move out to the country). I used to talk about it a lot, but it seemed like such a distant dream. I had no idea how we were ever going to get to that point. It really felt like an impossible dream- that God had put this desire in my heart and this dream in my head that we would never achieve. It took a few years for me to realize that was kind of the point.

Read the rest of my post over at A Fighting Faith.