Faithful Living

Tomorrow, I have a doctor’s appointment.  It’s one of those, “We have the results of your lab work, and it’s nothing major, but we’d like to discuss it with you” type appointments.  The kind that give folks nervous butterflies, anxious feelings and sleepless nights.  But I’m not worried.  Well, not really.

Of course a teeny, tiny part of me does worry, because I believe it’s human nature.  Those of us cursed with the “worst case scenario” visions are prone to worrying and fretting, biting fingernails, pacing the kitchen floor, folding sheets of paper into perfect squares and counting things in multiples of fives (what? just me?)

Here’s the deal…I want to be here a long, long time.  I want to be with my husband and son for an unreasonable amount of time (millions of days, is that so much to ask?)  And if it’s in God’s plan, we’d like to have a whole litter of children (and cats).  There are places to go, mountains to climb, cheesecakes to eat.  But I’m not worried about missing a moment, because I have faith.

I live faithfully.  I don’t just believe in god; I believe in The God.  The one who breathed me to life, who created the heavens and earth, who provides for us each and every single day, and blesses us tremendously in ways you cannot begin to imagine.  He is my Father, who loves unconditionally, practices grace and forgiveness, and who has never, ever, ever left my side.  I live faithfully, because I serve a faithful God.

When asked why I believe in God, my response is typically along the lines of, “I can’t imagine not believing.”  The number of instances, moments, situations and circumstances in which God has been present in my life are innumerable.  We have weathered many storms, walked many deep valleys and danced on many, many mountaintops, together.

I am faithful and certain that, regardless of tomorrow’s outcome, my God will take care of me and provide for me.  My God is powerful, my God is present, and my God is proven.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they? ” – Matthew 6:26

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Are you ready to become a parent?

If you read that title and thought, “LOL!” then I can assure you that you’re well on your way to qualifying for parental status.  Aside from the necessary sense of humor, what else helps to make the leap from childless to child…full?

We’ve been asked before how we knew we were “ready” to start a family (and I’m using the term “ready” very loosely here, folks).  Well, to be honest, we thought about it and prayed about it, and we just decided to give it a go.  At first, I planned things and used a calendar and joined mom-to-be blogs and lost my damn mind.  Then, I gave it up and just said to heck with charting and graphing and doodling and diddling, and we went at it with reckless abandon (TMI? I don’t care)  Then, one day, God said: BOOM!  And so we knew we were ready…because if God trusted us to bring a child into this world, it meant we could do it!

Becoming a parent is an incredibly great responsibility, and not one without sacrifice.  Folks are going to tell you that you will have to give up a few things when you bring home the fruit of your loins.  If you’re ready to sacrifice the following, you might be ready to welcome a little bundle of (screaming) joy into the world:

Sleep.  Oh yeah, as soon as you tell the world you’re knocked up, you’re going to get the endless, “SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN!” lines.  It’s going to be irritating, and you’re going to wish it would just stop, but you know what?  They are 147% correct.  Those first newborn weeks, man…they are something else.  They’ll make you question your parenting ability, your decision to have a child, and your sanity (and if you think you never did any of that as a parent, you’re a big fat liar).  But in a few weeks, if you’re lucky, your kiddo will hit that magical 10 hours of sleep window…then 11…then 12!  And you’ll think you’ve won the sleepytime jackpot.  Except when you close the nursery door at 7:30p, you’ll probably have laundry to fold, dishes to wash, or a blog to write.  You’ll finally sit down around 8:30p, just in time to catch some TV or read a book before you hit your 9:30p bedtime (because sleep is precious).  Which brings me to…

Entertainment.  No, you aren’t giving up all entertainment, because the greatest entertainment in the history of time and space is sleeping in the nursery across the hall.  I am talking about your TV, reading and computer time, though.  Before we had Miles, I could easily watch six episodes in a row of Toddlers & Tiaras.  Our DVR was so full, I thought it would explode from the overwhelming Honey Boo Boo of it all.  Now?  Well, we still watch TV, but I can promise you that we are way more selective than before Miles.  Not a single episode of Bad Girls Club or Gypsy Sisters has aired in this house since April 21, 2013.  Admittedly, it’s garbage television, but the real reason it doesn’t catch any air time here is because we’re too busy trying to squeeze in Jeopardy, Law & Order, Criminal Minds or New Girl with our precious 60 minutes of couch time.  And when the choice is between seeing Nellie get into another bar fight over her baby daddy, or watching North America on NatGeo, the choice is simple.  Quality over quantity.

Entertainment, part deux.  The same goes for reading material and length of time spent reading.  Before Miles, I would pick up every weekly issue of OK!, Us Weekly, In Touch and *gasp* The National Enquirer.  I could spend an entire Sunday afternoon reading about bad botox, affairs and scandalous behavior.  I don’t have room for the gossip rags any longer; now, if I have some spare reading time, I’m diving into another Stephen King novel, or reading something to enrich my life.  And no more six hours of laying on the couch on Saturdays to finish the entire novel, either.  A half hour before hitting the hay is about all I can spare.

Grooming.  You know those gals you see at Publix wearing yoga pants with bananas smeared on them, hair in a ponytail, no make-up, dazed and confused look on their faces?  The ones you swore you’d never become?  Well, guess what…you will.  No, not right away, but it will happen.  It creeps up on you like the Freshman Fifteen.  First, you wear the yoga pants to the post office.  Then to Dunkin’ Donuts.  The overwhelming comfort of their heavenly elasticity will take control of your mind, and block things like blue jeans from your view when you peer into your closet.  And shaving your legs?  If you’re a night showerer like me, you’ll spend five minutes contemplating whether or not you have the energy and time to spare (60 minutes people!  Wine or razors, you make the call) and if you’re a morning showerer, your head is probably too foggy for decisions involving sharp instruments.  As a mom, you will embrace the “natural” look, welcome your inner hippie, and know that not a single soul really notices because your kid will always look incredible and, bonus points, the kid is also an amazingly adorable attention hog.  Trust me, no one knows you’ve worn that t-shirt three days in a row because LOOK AT THE BABY!!!

Diet.  Here’s what I’m going to tell you about post-baby weight: you’ll lose it.  Without even realizing it happened, you’ll lose it.  Well, if you’re sensible while your pregnant, anyway.  Don’t worry about dieting after you have the kid; you will naturally shed the pounds through your ability to forget to eat when they’re very tiny, and, when they get older, from sharing everything on your plate.  You will try new foods like cereal puffs and purees, and realize that this is why you’ve lost 10 pounds.  Gone are the nights of eating half a pizza and drinking an entire bottle of wine (again, if you say “not me” then you’re a big fat liar).  But don’t think you’re necessarily bikini ready because…

Your body.  Of course you know you’ll sacrifice your body; if you’re the mom-to-be, you’re going to be hauling that watermelon around for a few months.  You may be blessed with stretch marks, cellulite, or (if you’re lucky like me) a few spider veins.  Here’s what you need to know about these battle scars: you won’t give a shit.  Maybe at first I was super self-conscious about the spider veins.  Okay, very self-conscious.  I would stare at them in harsh fluorescent lighting, stretching and squeezing my skin, trying to decide whether I should see a vein specialist.  And then, I’d see Miles.  I realized that these tiny little blue veins, something no one has ever noticed, were such an incredibly small sacrifice to have this tiny person sitting in front of me.  It’s not about me; it’s not about how I look.  All that matters is this sweet, big boy.  And, since he’s a big boy…

Your body, part deux.  Working out and exercise will fall to the wayside (sort of).  But, after a few months, you will realize that hauling your giant meatloaf son around, chasing him across the living room a dozen times an hour and having endless dance parties will give you an entirely new work out routine that those damn Crossfitters have yet to learn.  Sure, my stomach may resemble biscuit dough, but have you seen my triceps?  P90X couldn’t do that.

Sleep (again).  Did you think your sacrifice of sleep ended with the newborn days?  Spoiler alert: NOPE.  Because just as your sweet babe starts sleeping through the night, you’ll get hit with the first cold.  Then, your kiddo will grow to an age where he starts to make friends, and you’ll worry if he’s making the right friends, or if he’s being bullied, or if the other kids like him.  He’ll become a teenager and holy cow if you thought you had sleepless nights before, well just you wait…because here comes dating and driving.  Your kids will grow up and leave the nest, and you’ll still stay up worrying.  And one day, your kids will have their own kids, and guess what?  Yep, you’ll still spend waking hours praying, thinking, hoping and worrying some more.  Welcome to the mental illness known as “parenting.”  This brings me to our final sacrifice…

Sanity.  You think I’m kidding?  Ha.  Get ready to look at a tiny little person and feel an overwhelming and uncontrollable sense of ferocious love.  A love so strong and powerful, you realize you would bench press a Buick if that’s what they asked you to do.  You will cry tears of joy and fear, all at the same time, because this teeny tiny person is yours.  Yes, you will go absolutely positively cuckoo bananas with love for this person.  Then you’ll look at your spouse, your life partner, your soul mate, the one you’re journeying with through this adventure, and you will feel crazy love all over again at the thought of “we did this!”  If you thought Publix commercials made you cry, just wait…

Still with me?  Good.  Here’s what you should take with you, if nothing else from these 1,655+ (!!!) words: you are ready.  You will think you aren’t; you will be frightened, and you will question your judgement, but God knows that you are ready.  You will learn as you go, just like millions of parents before you.  You will make new parent friends, or reconnect with old parent friends, and you will have a support system unlike any other.  And, when doubt is overwhelming, you will peek in that nursery at 8:30p, look down at your sweet, sleeping, meatloaf of a baby, and feel the ferocious love.  And you will know  that you were born to do this job.

Get busy,

Kristin

Let Them Be Little

Earlier this week, while dropping Miles off at school, I noticed a dad who completed his entire arrival-drop off-departure while on his cell phone (obviously a “business” call).  I’d venture to guess that his son is about three years old.  He held his dad’s hand, struggled to keep up with his fast paced walking, and continued smiling while looking up at his dad.  His dad never once looked down to meet his son’s gaze and return the smile.  He shuffled him through his classroom door and waved goodbye, without a hug, without a kiss, without saying, “I love you.”

His son didn’t seem fazed, and maybe he’s accustomed to hurried mornings, but his father’s actions – or lack thereof – bothered me, deeply.  Am I more emotional now that we have Miles?  Most certainly.  There are situations and occurrences we witnessed in our childless life that I didn’t think twice about; now, however, it’s a different story.

Before we had Miles, I would always wonder how parents handle certain inevitable situations that I may have once considered “bad behavior.”  Things like running up and down the aisles in Publix, throwing loaves of bread.  Or taking an entire plate of spaghetti and turning it upside down on the table, while out to eat at a restaurant.  Or talking too loudly during church.  I have witnessed parents discipline in ways that caused me to cringe, and I have witnessed parents portray an obliviousness that left me confused.  And before we had Miles, I wouldn’t have noticed a parent rushing their child to daycare, school, soccer practice, or through a grocery store.  Kids are slow, right?  Seemed normal to urge them along.

Then, we became parents.

I am sure I’ve said many, many times before (and will continue to repeat) that once we had Miles, life as we knew it changed.  Of course there were moments of struggle (new parents are really clueless those first few weeks…) but those are absolute blips on the radar in comparison to the overwhelming love, joy, happiness and general awesomeness we experience on a daily basis.  Not a moment goes by that I don’t look at that kid and think to myself, “My God, we are blessed.”  He is the sun rising and the moon setting in our days.

As children get older, they develop their own personalities.  Becoming their own person brings new behaviors; some are sweet, some are funny, and some are just whaa? moments.  And many, many moments will mimic situations I witnessed before becoming a parent.  I have a different perspective because now, as a  mom, I get it.

Those parents I previously thought were oblivious to their children’s behavior really weren’t (well, not all of them).  I know this because I am not an oblivious parent.  I am fully aware that Miles is “singing” along during the offertory at church.  I know that the instant I give him his spoon to “feed” himself, he’s going to fling zucchini at the cat and stick the spoon up his nose.  There is no trip to Publix that doesn’t end with a toy “dropped” on every aisle, and extra grocery items in the buggy that I’m certain I didn’t have on the list.  Know what?  That’s okay.  Know why?  He’s a baby, bordering on toddler, and these are just the things they do.  He is full of curiosity and wonder (also, feistiness) which we find charming and hilarious, all at the same time.  Miles is free to be Miles, even if it means blowing raspberries at strangers in Target.

We have chosen to let Miles experience life at full sprint…what better way for him to learn?  We have chosen to laugh at the moments that may cause other folks to just cringe.  Just a couple weeks ago, Evan was getting Miles ready for bath time (we call this “nakey baby time” in our house).  After the usual nakey baby song and dance, Evan picked Miles up off the changing table and proceeded to make his way to the bathroom.  It was in that instant that I saw it…poop.  Poop coming out of Miles’ tush, onto the changing table, onto the floor and onto Evan.  Miles was flapping and smiling and waving, per the usual.  My eyes met Evan’s, and we froze…then, we erupted into laughter.  You cannot fully comprehend the humor in poop until you have children.   Life is hysterical.

Rather than become exasperated, we find the joy and humor and absolute silliness that we have in our lives now.  How can I look at that spaghetti smeared face, dumping his sippy cup onto the dining room floor, and not become filled with love and gratitude?

As working parents, life gets busy.  Very busy.  Perhaps “busy” is an understatement for the hurricane of work-errands-chores-parenting that must take place on a daily basis.  But what I’ve learned is that you’re only as busy as you choose to be in that moment.  Sure, there’s laundry I need to fold and the dishwasher needs to be unloaded, but I’m going to push those chores off until after Miles hits the hay, because stacking rings and reading books is so much more fun.  And I’m sure you’d be surprised to know that most days of the week, I’m running late for work, but that doesn’t stop me from spending those extra ten minutes with Miles at school, watching him play with the other kids and giving him oodles of hugs and kisses before I head out the door.

You are never, ever too busy to stop for a moment and cherish your children.

We have chosen to never let “life” interfere with our blessings.  There are many evenings we’re tired (or is it exhausted?) but, truth be told, it’s the best kind of tired.  Feeling a wave of exhaustion hit as soon as I close the nursery door at 8pm is just the result of us living the best moments of our day to the fullest extent possible.

Miles is only little for a short while; soon we’ll have a toddler, then a preschooler, then an actual kid, followed by a preteen and (shudder) a teenager.  Before we realize it, Miles will be in college.  Miles will be getting married (after she passes my “marriage qualifications exam”).  Miles will be starting his own family.

I never, ever want to miss a single smile, hug, kiss, smile, or belly laugh.  I want to be present for each and every moment that I possibly can.  And I want him to have complete joy in being little, regardless of how messy or loud that joy can be.  He is only little once.

I came across this print on Etsy the other day, and found it perfectly encompassed the way we have chosen to parent:

“You will never have this day with your children again.  Tomorrow they will be a little older than they were today.  This day is a gift.  Just breathe, notice, study their faces and little feet.  Pay attention.  Relish the charms of the present.  Enjoy today, it will be over before you know it.  Let them be little.”

Unspeakable Joy

Unspeakable Joy

L-I-V-I-N,

Kristin

Round-Up: SAHM Edition

Last week, I was on vacation.  Glorious, stress-free, vacation…AT HOME.  I have always wanted to take a full week of vacation time and just sit at home, eating nachos for breakfast, watching Kathy Lee and Hoda, reading Us Weekly and wearing yoga pants with zero intention of actually doing yoga (or any physical activity, for that matter).  Now that we’re parents, a week of time at home gives me a peek into the life of a stay-at-home mom.
I learned a few things in those 7ish days; some of those things are valuable life tools.  And some of those things involve The Wiggles.
Top Ten Things Learned During SAHM Week…
10. You’re an anti-TV parent until you are forced to become a TV parent.  Let me clarify this by saying we are still anti-TV parents; however, when you need 15 minutes to vacuum, take a phone call, find the cat or just poop, well…plopping Miles in the Jumperoo and giving him some PBS was the answer.
9. Your coffee will probably be cold by the time you finish it.  Every morning, I would play with Miles on the floor in the living room and attempt to drink my coffee.  This worked fine, until he noticed my coffee mug.  Once the mug was in his line of sight, it was game over.  He would stop at nothing in his attempts to grab my mug, because suddenly that mug of coffee was more important than anything in the entire universe, ever. 
8. All electrical cords belong to Miles.  I thought I could work on our family Christmas card while Miles was playing with one of his favorite toys (a measuring cup).  He was intently putting his orange monkey under the measuring cup, scooting it over, then picking it up again to see if monkey was still there.  He had no idea I was even in the room.  I quietly plugged in my laptop, and started working.  That was the moment his spidey senses kicked in…realizing an electrical cord was nearby, Miles immediately stopped playing with his cup.  After 10 minutes of attempting to work, I gave up.  A similar situation arose with the vacuum, steam mop, and phone charger.  Some of you may be wondering why electrical cords are so awesome.  Like all awesome toys, you can BEAT THEM ON THE FLOOR AND MAKE NOISE.
7. A majority of children’s programming is frightening, or created by people taking psychotropic drugs.  I thought I’d check out that BabyFirst channel, only to find some terrifying show with three large and incredibly realistic looking mice singing and dancing, with no movement from their mouths.  Just these blank, vacant stares from their beady costume eyes.  

And now you can share in my nightmare.


So that ended up on the “do not watch” list.  Then I tried something called Lazy Town, but found most of the actors had rubber masks or weird hair, and added that to the list as well.  These very strange shows also seemed to lack any educational value.  

Not good role models.  Also, questionable fashion choices.


What made the cut?  The Wiggles, Barney and Friends (YES, THAT IS STILL ON THE AIR!), Sid the Science Guy, Sesame Street and The Chica Show.  Good stuff.

6. A majority of new children’s music is also frightening.  While I am anti-TV, during playtime we do have music going…Miles loves music.  We usually listen to jazz, but I decided to venture into the world of children’s music.  There’s a lot of good stuff out there.  For instance, Caspar Babypants (you can’t make this stuff up) is now in my regular playlist.  He’s like a Jack Johnson for babies, and it is awesomesauce.  

How can you not love this guy?

SERIOUSLY.  He’s awesome.  I would listen to him even if I didn’t have children.


However, when a group called “Preschool Popstars” came on singing a song about a daycare dance party, I decided I did not want my eight month old in da club.  You would also be amazed at the number of adult pop songs (Lady Gaga, Beyonce, etc.) that make it to the children’s station because they are being sung by THE CHIPMUNKS.  This type of torture should be saved for Guantanamo.  Fun fact: These tunes will also make your ears bleed.

Sippin’ on juice.  Just juice.


THIS IS AN ACTUAL SONG.

Yes, I could have made the entire post about this one thing.
It’s like a train wreck, I just can’t turn away from it.
WHY IS THAT TODDLER WEARING SUNGLASSES?!


5. You can wear the same clothes five days in a row, and no one will know.  Except the UPS guy.  And maybe the mailman.  Also, employees at Publix, depending on how many times you visit the store.  Fashion be damned, I wore the same yoga pants and Grateful Dead t-shirt ALL. WEEK. LONG.  It was awesome.
4. You get to eat lunch with your kiddo!  Feeding Miles while simultaneously feeding myself is nothing new, but eating lunch at 11am is.  So at 2pm, when I was suddenly hungry in a way that can only be akin to a bear waking from hibernation, I would usually binge on something sensible, like an entire sleeve of Ritz crackers and half a jar of Nutella.  Don’t look at me like that.
3. You finally see why all the other moms won’t stop talking about the blue Wiggle.

 Oh, you think he’s kind of lame?

TRY AGAIN.
2. You get to read a book!  And a magazine!  And watch re-runs of SATC!  Miles’ longest nap usually happens around lunch time…two hours of glorious, uninterrupted ME TIME.  Choirs of angels sang the first time I sat down to read. 
1. YOU GET TO TAKE A NAP…EVERY SINGLE DAY!  Oh my gosh, naps.  I haven’t taken a nap since…how old is my son?  That long.  It was awesome.
Besides these learning moments, I also really, really, really enjoyed just getting some downtime with my kiddo.  These are the days that go by quickly, where he seems to still be swaddled one minute and somehow riding a tricycle the next.  It happens that fast.  So having many, many days of “just us” was an incredible, tremendous blessing.  I cried The Ugly Cry three times last week, just sitting there watching him play, because I suddenly realized he was no longer my teeny, tiny little baby.  He’s a big boy.  An amazing, smart, funny, snuggly and loving little guy. 
Dropping him off at school on Monday was like that first day, all over again.  Only this time, Miles eagerly crawled to the basket of toys and immediately began dumping them all over the floor, totally oblivious to the fact that mom was standing there, teary eyed, watching her baby grow up.  I kissed him goodbye; he bopped me on the nose and tried to take my glasses, then he gave me a hug.  A real hug.
I left before my morning at daycare turned into a Publix Thanksgiving commercial.

You cried when the pilgrims were separated at the table, right?
Working parents, if you get the chance to take some vacation and spend it at home with your young ones, I cannot encourage you enough to do it.  In the blink of an eye, kids are off at college, getting married, giving you grandchildren…these days are precious and brief.  Even when you’re tired, distracted, running a hundred miles an hour…stop, and make the most of these days.  You will appreciate these memories so much as your children grow.
Sappy McSapperston,
Kristin