I'm nearing the end of this 3rd and (Mr. Clean willing) final pregnancy of my entire life and I'm not going to lie, I'm feeling a whole range of emotions. One being fear. I am sitting here in my bed, with a little free time because my other 2 kids are tucked into their own beds, because they run on a pretty good schedule these days. I can stay up a little later if I want because when my 2 get up in the morning they either play quietly in their room, or they'll put on the Disney Channel because they know how to use the remote. With every passing day, life with my growing littles gets easier and easier. They wipe their own hineys (for the most part), they sleep through the night (for the most part), they play together nicely (for the most part), and they go to bed without tears (for the most part), and I can sit in my bed and read, or write or watch House Hunters. And it's moments like right this minute that I begin to wonder "what the heck was I thinking????" I am just days away from a life altering change. I am re-upping for another 18+ years, and nothing is more physically exhausting than what these next few months have in store for me. I am panic stricken thinking about nursing, like petrified. It's the most excruciating pain in life. And before you start sending me suggestions, save your breath, I'm sure I know them all. And before you ask me "then why do it??" I'll say, "that's a great question". I am scared of sleepless nights, met with demanding days, and homeschooling on top of it all. I'm praying now for grace and patience (yikes!) and an easy transition. If you're the praying type, you can join me in this.
And if fear is the first emotion that has come to mind, excitement would be the second thing. I know that the things I fear are things that are so short lived. It may feel like it will never end, but when it does, I'm gonna miss it. I'm excited for all those lovely things that come with new babies. The smell, the snuggles, the way that a newborn forces you to sit and slow down. I'm excited for all those "firsts" that our baby will get to experience, and siblings that will get to enjoy them with her. I'm excited to see what she's going to look like, what her personality will be like, how she will enhance our family and I can't WAIT to see Mr. Clean fall in love again. I can't wait to make that final drive to the hospital and to be in that happy place that is Labor and Delivery...for the last time.
And then I get sad. Like really sad. I am one of the weirdos that LOVES being pregnant. I love it from start to finish and I'm one of the lucky ones who doesn't seem to get sick, minus heartburn. But don't worry, I pay for this handsomely when it's time to nurse and I feel like I may need stitches and it's a bloody mess. But I hope I always remember the excitement of seeing a positive pregnancy test, of hearing a baby's heartbeat at that first doctors appointment, of feeling the kicks and wiggles and the excitement of washing tiny clothes and folding blankets. I want to savor the anticipation of getting to meet a new little baby. This is the last time I will carry life and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't sad about it.
I am so amazed at how a woman's body works to grow and sustain life. It's a miracle that I do not take for granted. I know that it is a gift that many women would do anything to have and some may never know. I am humbled that the Lord has allowed me this privilege and I don't even know why he has 3 times over. Praise be to Him. I am going to miss this. A chapter is closing in my life and I hate when a good book ends. But I think I have enjoyed this phase fully though and am content with the closure. All good things must come to an end and so, here we are, wrapping up my child bearing years. What a blessed gift it has been. Let's do this!
There is a baby boom that is about to explode among many of my friends in the next couple of months, but there is another boom taking place as well: WEDDINGS! I feel like all these kids - yes, kids - are getting engaged! There have been a lot of weddings this year, a lot of weddings coming up and many more to come. It's just how life goes. Many of my friends - myself included - are celebrating 10 year
anniversaries this year or next, so I'm sure many of us have been reflecting on just how far we've come. I bet many have dusted off those precious wedding albums - yes, I said dusted - and taken a trip down memory lane.
When I got married, it was just before social media became the way we share our lives with the world. It was before Pinterest, before Instagram and before the Hashtag, and I have seen a lot change in the world of Brides and how they view weddings in the last 10 years, and I have to say that some of it is a little concerning. There has always been comparing, there has always been the Wedding Wars, but not quite like what I've witnessed recently. Who's wedding can be the most beautiful and unique? Who has the cutest hashtag? What can I do to be different? The expectation these girls have for their day has to be exhausting. I'm sure it's fun. It is. It's exciting and it should be, but I think there should be a shift in thinking. If I were talking with a future bride, these are some things I'd love for her to hear and seriously consider. I would love for her to take the blinders off and just listen. Every bride is told, "take the money and run." They chuckle, disregard and go on their merry way, but the advice I have is a little more practical, hopefully. Please know, these words come from a good place!
Dear Blushing Bride,
#1 It's not the amount of money spent that makes the day, it's the attitude.
I have been to lavish weddings and I've been to simple weddings, but the weddings that have been the sweetest have been the ones where the couples are just thankful. They don't have much, but they have each other. It is witnessing a ceremony between a man becoming a husband, a woman becoming a wife and together making promises to each other and the Lord. It's the humble Bride that is the sweetest. The sweetest, most beautiful bride is the one who is in awe of how the day came together, whether they spent $3,000 or $30,000, and they can't help but give thanks to those who made it happen and to those who came to share it with her. Nothing makes a more beautiful wedding than a beautiful attitude - I promise.
#2 It's NOT your day. It's NOT all about you. It's the Lord's day, let His Glory SHINE!
Yes, your name is on the invitation. Yes, you've been told your whole life, from everyone, your wedding day is YOUR day, but I beg to differ. If you think about a wedding and a marriage, it is so much more about what God has done in your life to bring 2 people together and the plan to make 2 people into ONE. It's amazing to think about really! It's God painting a picture for the world to see of Christ and His love for His Church. And once you realize that and know "this isn't all about me," I think it relieves a lot of pressure - I promise.
#3 People are more important than having the perfect day.
If you are planning a wedding and there is tension, stress, anxiety, gossip, slander, hurt feelings, or unrealistic expectations...something needs to change. If people are feeling the stress of your expectations, you need to change your expectations. That's the bottom line. You chose these people to surround you, because you love them and they love you. Let's keep it that way. Be considerate of budgets and time constraints. Again, refer to #2 if you need a reality check. The more gracious you can be, the more those around you will want to bless you - I promise.
#4 I've NEVER met a person who wished they spent more Money. Not ONE.
Weddings are such a racket! The flowers, the dress, the cake (or whatever unique alternative that you can come up with), the awesome venue, the food, the DJ, the cars, the jewelry, the favors, and let's not forget the photographer and videographer, and the list goes on. Here's the deal: I'm a photographer, I love and appreciate pictures. They are priceless. And people always say to not skimp on your photographer, but you know what?? Even when you spend THOUSANDS of dollars on the PERFECT photographer and the PERFECT photos, you know what happens soon enough? You have the PERFECT baby and those once perfect pictures are replaced with an even more perfect picture and no other picture will ever compare. You'll put that album away...to collect dust...and you won't look at it again until your 10 year anniversary. And then you'll gawk at how much money you spent and wonder why on earth your cake didn't have icing on it, but remember that you paid extra for that cake because Naked Cakes was "the thing to do." I promise!
#5 When it's all over, you will never open another bridal magazine or add another pin to your Big Day Pinterest board ever again and you won't care about anyone else's either.
SO here's a suggestion, invest that time into what you really need in the future: Advice, Wisdom, Counsel. Find an older lady you respect or admire and soak up her wisdom. Ask her what she wished she knew, ask her what was easy and what was hard. You will need it. Read your Bible. Read books. Some suggestions: When Sinner's Say I Do, The Excellent Wife/The Exemplary Husband, The 5 Love Languages and Love That Lasts. Get into premarital counseling (we did and it was invaluable). The wedding is a day, a marriage is forever. You will be thankful if you invested more time into a lifetime instead of a day - I promise.
#6 No one cares as much as you do....except maybe your mom.
I don't say this to be mean, I say it because...it's true. People are happy for you, they wish the very best, but all that time you spend on the details - only you and your momma and your dear bridesmaids (and only because you have them tying bows until the wee hours) will notice. Sure, people notice if it's pretty or not, or if it was fun or maybe a little boring, but they talk about it for about as long as their ride home...and that's it. BUT if they are going to buy an outfit, spend 50 bucks on a shower gift, 50 bucks or more on a wedding gift, you need to feed those people. People like food. If you can, invest in blessing those people who came to take time out of their day, feed them well, even if it's just cake. They may not remember it long term, but they'll be thankful for it at the time - I promise.
#7 The less you have, the MORE the Lord can work!!!
Look, if you can afford an awesome wedding, more power to ya! But if you don't, it's okay. It's actually a blessing. You will be able to see so clearly how the Lord is working. This was me. I'm the oldest of 8 kids and I knew my parents couldn't afford an extravagant wedding. We were 21 year old college students and we certainly couldn't afford it. We had to make do. My parents were generous, my grandparents were generous, my in laws were generous and complete strangers were generous. I will never know the depths of everyone's generosity, but all I know is I had $6,000 and I had everything I could want and more. It wasn't making any magazine covers, but I was so humbled. I wouldn't change a thing about that day, because God was so clearly at work and if I had had more, I may not have been able to see all of the blessings - I promise.
So, that's it! There's my 2 cents...or 7 points. Dear Bride, it's not the day that is to be celebrated, it's the future, it's the Lord, it's the promises made. Love God, love others and for the love of God and others, let them eat cake!!!!!
Since Valentine's Day is this weekend, I have some thoughts I want to share with those who are still crazy kind enough to read what I have to say. I decided to write this post because I know there are girls like me out there. Girl's that need encouraging. I've been married almost 10 years (oh.my.gosh) and it has been wonderful, but also rocky at times. I feel like I can write this now because I am finally at peace with where the Lord has us. He has grown and stretched our marriage in the last 2 years in ways I never expected. There was a time that what I'm about to say would embarrass me, it would hurt too much. But not any more. And so, because of that, here's a part of my story...
Mr. Clean and I have known each other since I was 15. We were friends
for a while before we dated. We had a great foundation, we knew each
other. We knew each others strengths and, of course, weaknesses. Our
friendship is one of my favorite things about our relationship.
But, and there is always a but, we are very different. Very, very
different. Besides the fact that I'm a mess and he's OCD, that I'm carefree and he's careful, I'm a dreamer, a hopeless romantic, I love giving gifts to
people and I'm nuts about surprises! I'm a GIRL! My husband, bless him,
is...well....he's none of those things. He is practical. In almost every
area of his life...except for cars. He loves cars. He's a GUY!
Because of the differences I listed above, you can probably guess where I'm going with this. Every night before my birthday, or Valentine's Day, every night before our anniversary, and yes, Mother's Day, I would think up what wonderful things my husband could do or might do for me. I'd build up these thoughts and expectations in my mind. The special day would come and nothing. Not a thing. I'd see girls post on social media their beautiful flowers, stunning jewelry, and the gushy, lovey dovey notes their significant other would leave for them telling them how amazingly beautiful, and wonderful they are. #Blessed. I would be pea green with envy and my husband would have to endure the wrath of ME!!!!!!!!! Didn't he know how amazingly wonderful I AM?????? Didn't I deserve a daisy or 2, for cryin' out loud?!?! A dedicated Instagram post, at least?? For a while I tried to treat him the way I wanted to be treated and shower him with notes and candy, with nothing in return. It hurt. So I quit.
Before you write my husband off as a jerk, don't (I did that for years after every holiday). You see, I spent many years telling him that I don't care about gifts and that I wanted time. I want to do things. I want dates. I want trips. I'm not one of "those girls" who needs little tokens of adoration. So those statements, combined with a practical husband, matched with the expectations he didn't even know were going on in my head, was a recipe for disaster. When those little day dreams I had in my head didn't play out, it was an unhappy night at my house. Never mind the fact that we always did "celebrate" by doing something even if it was a month later due to money or bad timing, it just was never quite what I had imagined. Unmet expectations.
A lot of things came to a head in our marriage over the last year or so, and this is one area that I had to face head on. The area of unmet expectations. The Lord is good and gracious. He knew who I would marry and while it's ironic to me that I would marry someone who has no clue what to do in the romance department, it's not to Him. While talking through and working through some big problems we were having, it dawned on me that I do like gifts and I needed to tell him that. He's not a mind reader. And it's not superficial or greedy, it just is. Once I was able to communicate that, it has been a big ol' lifted weight. I also needed to be reminded that my hope and happiness is not in a man, it should be in Christ. He never fails, He is always good and He is who I can count on, His ways and gifts are far greater than my imagination could ever dream up. That is my hope.
And you know what else? My husband may never buy me flowers or cutesy gifts, or surprise me in the ways I have dreamed in my head (I have a huge imagination), it's not natural to him. I will tell you what is natural to him though - and it wasn't until recently that I could truly appreciate it - I have come to realize that there has never (I mean never) been something that I have asked for, that I truly wanted, that he hasn't done everything in his power to make happen for me. It may not come in the form of a surprise, or with a big bow, but it comes. Does that mean he shouldn't try to be a little more romantic? No, and he knows that. But boy, have I been ungrateful?? He is beyond supportive of my goals and is my dream catcher. How have I been so blind?
I say all of this to say, if you are a girl who has expectations that are constantly squashed and are never met, I feel for you. If you are someone who is pained by these Hallmark holidays because you know you'll be disappointed, I feel ya. I encourage you to search your heart and try to find the root of your issues. Then, remember that it is Christ that never fails, not our husbands. Pray about it and then talk about it with your loved one. And then, I encourage you to think the best about them. Show grace.
For the girl who's husband/boyfriend tries and always seems to give you something that may not be your favorite? Be thankful he tried. Men have it tough. They can never live up to the men we see in Nicholas Sparks books and movies. And then think the best of them and show grace.
And to the girl who has the guy that all girl's wish their guy's were more like, you are one of the few. Thank them and then thank their mother...or whoever trained him in the ways of being romantic, and then remember when you share his wonderful ways to the world that there is a girl who's hurting. And show them grace too.
Happy Valentine's Day to you, and if you are so blessed to even have someone to share this holiday with, even if you get diddly squat from them, be thankful. My practical husband and I will be killing 2 birds with one stone this weekend by celebrating both Valentine's and our anniversary... 2 months late.
As I was sitting on the couch over the weekend, for the second day in a row, post oral surgery, I thought I'd take a peek back at my little spot on the internet...my very public diary, if you will. I have very little time to string words together these days, but our girl turns 3 this week and I can't let it go by without documenting it here, along with all of birthdays that have come and gone in my babies lives. Our girl is 3 today.
Our girl. Our girl loves babies, puppies, kittens, rabbits, birds, mice, hamsters...any animal really, and ice cream. She's nuts about her daddy and loves to play "puppies" with her Bubby. Maybe someday we'll get her a real dog and she won't have to drag her brother around all day.
photo credit Rachel Illiadis
Our girl. I spend my days dressing her and re-dressing her, usually giving up because the girl loves her some naked Monday's...and Wednesday's....and Thursday's...naked any-day-that's-a-non-school-day...and even then, I've been told she tries to make it Naked School Day. What can I say? The girl loves to be free. And when she does put clothes on, it really must be a dress.
Our girl. She likes to get into things. Like, a lot. Most of the time I don't mind, I call it "being creative" and then there are times when it's not so creative and just plain messy. But making messes is her love language...it's mine too, so I can't get too mad.
Our girl. Our girl has a mind of her own. Which is why she is almost 3 and still doesn't quite have the hang of the potty thing yet. It's why she has a finicky appetite, but always has room for dessert. It's why she wants what she wants when she wants it. It's why she's stubborn, but will eventually come around...which is also something we have in common.
Our girl. Our girl is strong willed, but sensitive. She is tough, but has a heart as big as the sea. She can be as serious as a heart attack, but as funny as her namesake.
Our girl. She tells it like is (even when we can't understand her), and can hold her own when she needs to, but she is sweet as pie and prettier than a peach. Mr. Clean has no intentions of ever letting her leave when she's older and I'm cool with that. Her smile? It melts. And those eyes? Oh, those eyes.
Our girl. Our girl has taught me as much as we've taught her...maybe more. Her big little personality has helped to teach me patience. The Lord knew I was lacking in that department, and she has been the perfect tool to teach me. That--and homeschooling.
Our girl isn't a baby anymore-- At ALL. She's our big girl. Our beautiful girl. Our smart girl. Our funny girl. We spend our days saying "I just love her" and "she's just the funniest little thing" and "GAH!!!! She is so dang cute!" We love what she brings to our lives. Here's to 3...I've always said that I love 3.
When I was a little girl, the night time brought about a lot of anxiety for me. Still does, for that matter. But my biggest fear was always, growing up. I wanted to stay little forever. I didn't want my parents to get old. I didn't want to get old. The fear of aging, dying and death gripped me in the dark of night for a long time. What a futile thing to worry about, I know. Growing up is a Fact of Life. And since that fact has come to fruition, and continues to do so everyday, I realize just how silly it is to worry. The Lord has blessed me with so much, that never in a million years would I want to go back to that time in my life. That time in my life that I was so afraid of letting go, even if it was the best childhood ever. I could have never imagined up how my future life would unfold.. The grown up one I have now. Growing old doesn't keep me up any more.
So what does keep me up at night now? Worry, of course. Worry about my kids drowning, about them choking, about the accident they didn't have, but easily could have that day, but by the grace of God, didn't....and them growing up. When I think of how quickly time is flying by, my heart begins to race, my eyes begin to well up, and I begin to physically ache. I get told daily by sweet mommas in different seasons of life "don't blink, it goes by so fast." Well, you know what? I believe them. I so believe them and it freaks me out. I spend so much time hoping and praying that I am making the most of my kids being little and searching for a pause button, that I need to learn from my past. I spent so much time worrying about an unknown future and worrying that nothing (on earth) could be better than the life I'm currently living, that I have been missing out on looking forward to the future. This is a sweet life and while there are hard times, sad times, scary times, by and large this world, this life, is full of wonder, amazing grace and hope! But as a Christian, my hope is and should be beyond the realm of this earth. The "good things" that the Lord dreamed up for me are just the beginning, just a taste. As I couldn't fathom my life today, my future will follow suit. And when I lay in the dark of the night, this hope is what gets me back to sleep until morning.
So if my biggest fear is of my kids growing up, to the point of making me ill, another problem I have is being overly nostalgic. I am on old soul that enjoys retrospectives, looking back, remembering. so, here we are, my baby is turning 5 tomorrow. He goes to school in a little over a week. And these 2 things have made me cry, daily, for the last few weeks. I see him sleeping? I start crying. I see him eating? I cry. I see him dancing and singing? I cry. If I even think about any of those things, I get a lump in my throat, it's hard to swallow and if I'm caught, I pretend I'm crying because I stubbed my toe, or a commercial was sad. I think about how the life-clock gets bumped to "super speed" once your kid starts school, and that thought alone makes it to where I may need counseling. What's my cure for that problem? 2 words: Hybrid Homeschooling. Having my kid home 5 days a week and going to school 2 days a week should help slow time down, right? I kid. That's not WHY we chose this route for schooling...but maybe it will help?? Please, oh please, tell me, THIS GETS EASIER....it has to.
But enough about me, eh? Let me talk about my kid and the awesomeness he has brought to our lives for the last 5 years. Cooper is a light. He has greeted me every morning with a smile so bright, it could light up the darkest day. He is precocious. Smart. And very funny. He has an imagination I'm actually pretty jealous of. He has a big personality and I never know what will come out of his mouth. He loves sweets, so much that it has gotten him in to big trouble on more than one occasion. And he loves music, dancing, beat-boxing, and playing harmonica. He loves learning about dinosaurs, insects, sharks and currently, car makes and models. He wants to be a scientist that works at church when he grows up. He doesn't like cake, but loves cheeseburgers. If candy is sweet, my boy is sweeter. He has some areas that need lots of work, which requires patience and grace on my part, but who doesn't? He is one of my favorite people and I pray big things for him. He tells me all the time: "I will always be your little boy, until I'm big. And then I'll always be your big boy. But don't worry, I will call and visit." Oh my heart. I'm so thankful to the Lord for blessing me with this kid. What a joy and honor. To the boy who made me a momma, happy birthday. I love him to infinity and beyond.
Believe it or not, we're not having a big birthday blowout this year, but we have a few things up our sleeve in celebration of this kid. I think not having a party is harder on me than him! But we'll do it up right anyway! As for today, one last day with my almost 5 year old. One more day...
After every holiday or birthday party I swear I'm never doing it to that scale again and yet, every holiday or birthday I do. It's like childbirth, after days of pain, hard work and wallet drainage, I'm only left with sweet pictures and all is well and forgotten. But after Cooper's Pirate blow-out last summer and around 75 people (no exaggeration) left my home, I knew I needed a lesson in moderation and sometimes less is more. Mr. Clean has always been a good sport and hasn't pulled the reigns...until "PirateGate '14" and I had him building a life size pirate ship and not telling him until the day before that we were expecting upwards of 70 people. My gig was up.
Enter 2015, and a new, more moderate me! On the tails of Christmas hosting, I had lost the will to do anything for our sweet Lucy's birthday. But then guilt set in and I decided that this would be my first act in doing something "low key" and that's just what I did. And I gotta say, it was the best party I've ever thrown. Everyone else might have been bored to pieces, but I had a great time. I invited just the grandparents, our siblings and she had one friend. I ordered good pizza and cupcakes and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am.
While I simplified the guest list and menu, I did have some fun with the decorating, because at the end of the day, that's my jam. The creative aspect of anything is where I like to be. It's like my love language, born with it. I didn't construct a castle out of paper mache or anything, but I really did try to keep is cute and simple. I had dreamed up a Cinderella theme a while back, so I tried to bring it to fruition!
I used primarily tissue paper and plastic table cloths! I also Loooove butcher paper. I love making banners to hang. It's a cheap and easy way to make a party special and unique. I borrowed the little tissue paper tassle banner and glitter pumpkin from a friend and it fit perfectly into my theme!
I made the pink cake stands for a baby shower a while back out of plates and candlesticks from the dollar store. They really dress a table up on the cheap.
Lucy loved this party, but I think I loved it even more. I stayed on budget, kept it low key, and simple and I was so relaxed! I even forgot to take pictures with my camera, so please excuse the poor quality! Drives me nuts actually, but I guess I'll be thankful I have them at all someday!
I think the little girl wished for a trip to see Cindy's Castle.
As another birthday approaches, I get all sentimental and nostalgic...especially thinking about our Lucy Girl. Lucy Ann. Lucy Ann Marie. Boosy. Boots. Bitsy Roo. Minnie. Minnie Tonka. Minnie Tonkey. Itsn'Bitsn'. Judy Moody. Rudith Judith. CrabbyPatty. Saucy Susan. Messy Bessy. Little Girl.
So, we might have too many nicknames, but I guess it's fitting, because she is too much!!
2 much trouble
2 much fun
2 much sweetness
And makes 2 many messes
The Lord put her in my life to challenge and refine me. Just when I thought I had this whole "mom" thing down, enter Lucy. She is strong willed, incredibly smart, determined, and fearless.
She is in love with her daddy,
crazy about her Bubby,
and can nail an awesome "selfie" with her momma,
and she's a lover of all animals.
She is maternal and caring, but highly opinionated. She loves to watch movies and she would do it all day if I let her. Beauty and The Beast is her current favorite. She loves to wear dresses and "heels,"
take her babies on walks, and never misses afternoon tea and cupcakes,
but can get down and dirty with her Bubby when needed.
And much like her older brother, she loves to sing and dance. T-swift and Bruno Mars are all the rage right now, along with anything Disney!
She doesn't talk a whole lot, but she says more and more everyday. She is a joy and a delight, as well as a spitfire. She teaches me patience and keeps us on our toes. We can't take our eyes off her for 2 seconds, but who would want to with a face like she's got?
As we get closer to her birthday, I will hug my one year old a little tighter, because at the stroke of 12 on Saturday night, Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, Lucy turns 2! Can't wait to celebrate this sweet and spunky little princess this weekend.
Wife of 4 years, mom to 1, oldest sister to 7...I'm striving to be an EXCELLENT wife, and not a perfect wife. Reading about the Prov. 31 woman is truly inspiring and something to strive for and to be encouraged by, not discouraged!