Adventures in Parenting, Family Life, Random Thoughts

Best laid plans

I was in bed at 8:30 pm with my kindle. My alarm was set for 5:00 am (along with the coffee pot). My computer and everything I needed for the morning was downstairs. I was ready for tomorrow.

I love to write. It’s my way of organizing my thoughts, my way of making sense of things, my way of worship and personal growth, and hopefully a way to encourage others. My husband and I discussed making time for me to do just that, uninterrupted, and I was really looking forward to it.

And then at 2:30 am, sweet baby James woke up with a fever and never fully went back to sleep. Which meant I never went back to sleep. Suddenly, all my preparation for my early morning writing session was out the window. I was now going to have to figure out how to get sleep and parent our 4 little ones, including a sick baby, with very little sleep. My time dedicated to writing was quickly replaced with begging and pleading to God for energy and strength for the day and wellness for my family.

These are the times I just want to pull the covers over my head and not participate in the day. I struggle so much between the all or nothing. I either strive for a great day, rhythm, and just loving and enjoying my family, or I have days like this when I want to put the kids in front of a screen in their jammies all day, let them destroy the house and eat whatever they want until I can declare early bedtime at 6pm. I know I need to allow rest and grace, but too much of no rhythm triggers bad moods for me and my kids. Plans are good, routines are good, but keeping those when I hit a snag has me repeating “Jesus, take the wheel” All. Day. Long.

Sometimes the best laid plans fail. Sometimes it’s because of our own doing, sometimes it’s because of others or external circumstances. But I know one thing, life’s hiccups aren’t a surprise to God.

What if our messed up plans are actually God trying to get our attention? Maybe when our plans are shifted or pulled right out from under us, it’s God’s way of pushing us to exercise our trust muscles. In those situations, we have no choice but to look and really search for Him.

“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Proverbs 19:21

Having kids has humbled me so much. They’re so unpredictable, always surprising me and always stretching me to grow, even through sleepless nights when my mind just doesn’t want to work the way it’s supposed to. Just when I think I have things figured out or a good plan in place, something changes and I need to adapt. Thankfully I’m not alone, and I’m continually reminded of Gods grace and mercy, everyday, through life’s peaks and valleys.

What about you? Do you have trouble adapting to unforeseen changes? Are you all or nothing when it comes to routines like I am? Was there a time when you really felt forced to trust in Gods strength over your own?

Adventures in Parenting, Random Thoughts

The struggle

I sat on the driveway behind our two cars with all 4 kids and a huge pile of small rocks. This is hardly where I would have pictured today’s math lesson to take place but I met them where they were, that’s what we are supposed to do right? I helped our big girls count out and divide rocks from the yard into groups of 10 while our 3 year old simultaneously messed up those piles with a huge stick. This of course produced frustration and screaming. Meanwhile I’m juggling a teething and sick baby that will not let me put him down or stop crying, but the opportunity to put small rocks in his mouth finally cheered him up. This of course was combatted by his watchful but very distracted and frustrated mom. Why can’t we just get through this lesson? Why does this have to be so hard? Why can’t our 3 year old just watch and listen or go somewhere else in the yard for 5 minutes? Why can’t the baby just nap right now, preferably somewhere else than in my arms?

These are the moments when I ask myself, what on earth am I doing? Who on earth decides to have 4 kids in 6 years other than someone who desires to run a small daycare and preschool in their home all day every day? This is not my field of expertise. For the record, I chose to live alone with no roommates for years before being married because I needed my alone time. These days, I consider myself lucky if I get to go to the bathroom on my own and don’t have the lock picked by someone who needs me to tie yet another doll onto a car so it doesn’t fall off and it needs to happen right this instant.

Why is it that God speaks to us most during our struggles? James 1:2 says “consider it pure joy, brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” I don’t know about you but I find it hard to be joyful during pain. Though I’m realizing this is a choice, choosing to be joyful results in joy, just like choosing to be angry produces anger. God gives us a choice in how to respond to life’s struggles but I’m finding that aligning myself with his will and being grateful in all circumstances can only produce joy, no matter what stage I’m in.

Later that evening I found myself sitting on the couch (with the sick, teething baby snuggling me close) thinking about how I’m going to get dinner started one handed while holding him with the other. It’s my 5th night in a row of no sleep and non stop days with the kids are wearing on me hard. Just then I chose to be joyful and grateful and I look up to see our big three kids running around in a circle in our playroom chasing eachother, squealing in joy. They love eachother, they ENJOY eachother and THAT is what I’m here for, to witness God’s goodness- the good times and the bad, and I’m so thankful that amidst all the struggles of the day, God allows me to see these glimmering moments, reminding me that He is SO good.

Adventures in Parenting, Family Life

Insert Coffee Here

I have another grocery shopping story for you. This should really just be a series because my most ridiculous parenting moments are somehow always at a grocery store. Maybe I just spend way too much time gathering food for our family, either way, here‘s my previous post if you’d like to read it.

I used to be in a pretty good rhythm about going to the store with the kids, but lately, with all the chaos in our family and lack of routine, I’ve been either going at night after the kids go to bed or ordering online for delivery or pick up. This particular time I convinced myself we can do this. We can go to the grocery store. I completely psyched/caffeinated myself up, used my most patient, pleading voice with the girls preparing them for our trip, and had our list and coupons ready. We were golden.

Side note: when I was in my 20’s (before marriage and kids, and before grocery delivery and pick up) I despised shopping during the day because the parking lot would be full of minivans and mothers with uncontrollable kids every where. Little did I know that I’d one day be one of those mothers. I wish I understood then that getting there may have been all they could do that day. It may have taken every fiber of their being to just make it to the store. I should have extended grace to them, or considered it my ministry to give an extra hand to overwhelmed mothers at the grocery store.

Back to the story I thought I’d never be writing…

Everything was going so great! (famous last words). I had the baby in the cart which is always a delight because he’s just the king of our family and knows it through and through. The girls listened really well, stayed close by and only threw in a couple extra things into the cart that we didn’t have on our list when I wasn’t looking, and it was produce so who could argue?

I had a completely full cart when Faith’s foot started to hurt. Lovely. So in the cart she goes, on top of all of the groceries.

I have to insert here that when we go to the grocery store, I don’t know if its the fact that I have twins, an adorable smiley baby waving to everyone or the sheer pity that I’m shopping with 3 young children, we attract a lot of stares and comments. It’s probably a combination of all of those things, but I just accept it and move on with purpose, racing to get through the check out line before someone loses it.

The rest of the trip went well, June went into super helper mode since Faith was immobile and Charles was still happy as could be. After we checked out, the girls asked to see the rooster. At Wegmans, there is a rooster that comes out of a barn every hour, on the hour, and the girls look forward to it every time. Whenever I tell anyone without kids about the rooster they look at me like I’m crazy, or they’re wondering how they could have possibly missed a barn and a rooster. It’s not a real rooster, just something I’m sure they added to the store to simultaneously help and hurt parents, especially those with children who can’t tell time.

Waiting for the rooster on another grocery trip in which I decided to attract even more attention to the ridiculous chaos by adding a gigantic balloon. I’ve clearly lost my mind.

I looked at the clock and we had 3 minutes, sweet, perfect timing. So I parked us in front of the barn to wait for the rooster, which is conveniently in front of the coffee shop. I felt as though I needed a reward for this excursion, or at least a pick me up to make up for all of the energy that this trip just drained out of me. So I grabbed a cup while we waited.

What was I thinking? How was I going to carry a cup of coffee, push and unload a heavy cart full of groceries under 4 year old Faith, effectively steer 4 year old June walking (you know if you have anyone under the age of 5 that “steer” is an appropriate and very useful verb here), and handle a baby who is obsessed with grabbing every cup in sight? This is not going where you think its going. You think I’m going to spill the coffee don’t you?

You’d think wrong.

We’re chugging (pun intended) along through the busy entrance, I’m successfully avoiding all the baby swats for my hot coffee cup when JUNE decides she can’t walk. What.

Her foot hurts from when she dropped a cup on it 15 years ago and you know, the pain comes back whenever it’s convenient for her, and I must give her sympathy because we’ve had a long drawn out foot saga for her sister and we can’t leave June out.

So what do I do? I beg and plead with her more than I’ve ever begged in my life, short of getting on my knees in the entrance of Wegmans, because that would have certainly looked weird, right? So I do something that DOESN’T look weird, I offer her a piggy back. I’m rolling my eyes right now at the sight of this- this had hot mess momma written all over it. How did I think we’d make it to the car in this state, all while CARRYING A CUP OF COFFEE???!!! Who did I think I was? A celebrity? Carrying a cup of coffee like its an accessory? Like I have an extra hand? I wish I had a picture of this to show you, I’m sure someone does because it was that much of a spectacle.

Thankfully someone had pity on me and offered to push the cart of 2 children plus groceries, while I carried my 4 year old and cup of coffee- not spilling a drop.

I haven’t taken them to the grocery store since….



Adventures in Parenting

On Grace

Giving myself and others grace is something I have to continually work on. Recently my husband Charlie and I had a free morning on Saturday, no plans, which is a very rare occurrence. Either he’s working or we have something going on so naturally we decided to get things done around the house.

Our kids did not get that memo, however. They fussed and whined because we have a free Saturday, so when you’re young, that means mom and dad play with you non stop, all day long.  We were on separate wavelengths which made everyone in a bad mood. So I did what any good mother would do and just ignored them and sent them to their room…the girls, not the baby. Charlie and I chatted downstairs while the girls screamed from upstairs; we were frustrated about why we couldn’t get anything done and why no matter what we did that day, someone was fussing at us.

It was a rough day, a day I wanted to just write off, start over. I gave myself zero grace that day. I deemed myself a bad mom, a bad wife; it was only 1pm and I told myself I wasted an entire Saturday that we had together complaining and feeling defeated.

I have this verse hanging on our wall. Thanks to Hobby Lobby clearance section, you can now read yourself through our entire house…

22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

    -Lamentations 3:22-23


So momma, when you burn the meal and feed your family cold cereal for dinner, give yourself grace.

When your kids don’t sleep at night and you haven’t showered in 3 days, give yourself grace.

When you just yelled at the top of your lungs at your children, the ones you love and adore more than anything, give yourself grace.

When you can’t remember the last time you mopped your kitchen floor, give yourself grace.

When you haven’t exercised in a month, give yourself grace.

When your clothes are covered in spit up, sweat, and unidentified stains, give yourself grace.

When you just CAN’T, and you turn on the 10th Daniel Tiger for the day just so you don’t have to answer any more questions, give yourself grace.

Thank you God that tomorrow is a new day! Thank you God for the grace you give us and for so many chances to try again. Thank you God for the tough days that help mold us into the person You created us to be. Thank you for your gentle reminders that we can’t do life on our own and we need Your strength daily.

Who can have a bad day with this smile?

While we’re on the subject of grace, I once attempted to (apparently unsuccessfully) explain to the girls what grace is and that they really needed to give mommy some grace that day. June replies without hesitation, “but mommy, where IS the grace? I can’t find it!”

I love 3 year olds and how they simplify our over complicated minds. They also make the toughest days hilarious when they need to be.


Adventures in Parenting

The Day I was Super Mom

Do you ever have those days when you’re just killing it? As a mom, they don’t happen often. I’m a planner and kids are unpredictable so in my eyes, everything is always out of control. I’ve learned in the past few years to loosely plan, otherwise I’m setting myself up for disappointment. Sidenote: my twin girls are 3 and have started using the word “otherwise” correctly in a sentence and it’s absolutely hilarious. 

One day, I planned to go to the grocery store with the kids, which should be considered an Olympic sport. I actually consider it my exercise for the day and don’t plan anything else that day because I know it will completely wear me out. I literally race through the store pushing 60+ lbs of kids, plus groceries, in an extra long cart (that you should need a separate license for) with a 20 lb baby strapped to my chest. Oh and then I have to use my brain at the same time…

The kids actually really like grocery shopping most of the time, and I try to make the most of our grocery trips, making it an opportunity to not only practice obedience, but teach them about food, where it comes from, why we’re buying what we’re buying, staying on budget (needs vs. wants), etc. EVERYTHING is a teaching opportunity when they’re at this curious, asking questions stage so I capitalize on it most of the time, unless I’m just DONE and then I tell them mommy has a headache and I need quiet (many days) and “no, for the fifth time, you may not have jelly beans”. Charles just laughs and smiles at everyone no matter what we’re doing. Gosh, I love that kid.

Not pictured: smiley, happy baby snuggling in his carrier

This particular day, I did not have high hopes for our trip. I don’t know if you’ve shopped at Wholefoods, we do occasionally, but it’s not the most family friendly grocery store; they have ONE cart that will SOMEWHAT fit all of my children, and the food to feed them. The last time we walked into Wholefoods, an employee actually commented to me inside the store “oh, you actually made it inside”. I guess he saw the all out meltdown by one of the twins at the entrance about who got to sit in what seat… “Yes, we still need food, sorry for hurting your ears.” So I braced myself this time.

This trip was amazing, the kids were so patient and kind, an employee offered them an apple (washed, peeled and cut for them…I sometimes love you Wholefoods). I smiled, the kids smiled, strangers smiled, we all had it together, people probably thought I was super mom, I surely did.

We got to the car, unloaded the groceries, the girls buckled themselves into their seats without me even asking (cue the choir singing). I pulled the baby out of the carrier and he’s covered in poop. I mean covered. I’m covered. It’s a mess. I lay him down to clean him up and I have no wipes. I grab a couple of napkins and a bottle of water, do what I can, and put him back in his seat and buckle him in. More poop. Apparently this mess occurred BEFORE we went in the store because it’s all over his seat. I take off his clothes again, change his diaper, I have no change of clothes for me so here I am driving us home in a poopy car that had been basking in the hot sun, covered in poop myself, wondering how many of those kind smiles from strangers were really laughing at me and my baby covered in poop? Also, how did I not notice it?

God has a really funny way of humbling us sometimes doesn’t He? That day was a kind reminder that I do not have it together even when sometimes I like to tell myself I do.