Annoying your readers

There are a lot of people and people groups in the bible that drive me nuts. Seriously. The Israelites, the tribe of Judah, Jesus’ own disciples, the list could go on and on.

I just don’t understand how you get bread from the sky, water from a rock, or literally SEE God on a mountaintop, and then you turn away. There is such a prevalent pattern throughout the bible of God’s people turning away, God reveals himself or does something big, these people repent and come back to the Lord and then 15 minutes later they are building another golden cow.

Sometimes I just want to be yell ” JUST FIND NEW PEOPLE GOD!” These people are the worst and obviously can’t get it together.

But he sticks with them. He continues to pursue their hearts. He loves them, even when it doesn’t make sense.

He does the same thing with us.

I mess up all the time. I’ve seen God work in HUGE ways in my life yet I still keep trying to do things with my own strength.

One of my favorite verses in the bible (purely because of the image it evokes) is Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” The people of Judah ate a lot of vomit. The people of Israel ate a lot of vomit. We eat a lot of vomit. How often do we walk away from the feast that God provides at his table and instead say, “No thanks, I don’t want that prime rib. I’d rather eat this pile of regurgitated Alpo and grass.”

If someone wrote a book of the bible over your life, would the people reading it be annoyed?

I know mine would. I am just like the Israelites in that I continually see God answer prayers and work in extraordinary ways then I keep going back to the pile of dog vomit.

Our flesh will never be enough. I can’t problem solve or plan my way through life without eventually reaching the end of myself and realizing that I need him.

So let’s try to stop annoying our readers and seek strength from Him alone.

 

 

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Not a baby person.

 

 

I’m not a baby person.

This is possible, even if you have kids. I have three. Still not a baby person. I just wish they came out walking, talking, and eating chicken nuggets.

Babies are boring. It’s ok if you feel this way too. They don’t do much. They can’t walk, talk, or even laugh for a long time. I remember being on maternity leave with Kate and feeling like I was losing my mind. I just needed to talk to someone about something other than sleeping, eating, pooping, etc. At the time I was coaching soccer and I was SO excited when the head coach I was working for called me because we could talk about starting lineup possibilities, how practice went that day, or just something other than babies.

Everyone does not feel this way about babies. I have a couple of friends that LOVE babies. Like a serious, if your baby cries at bible study I’ll just take them from you love. If you aren’t a baby person, you need some of these people in your life. Whenever I have a newborn and I am going somewhere where these friends are I just walk in and hand the baby over. We don’t even talk about this exchange, it just happens.

I feel like I hit my parenting stride around two. You can talk with them (pretty incoherently for a while), play, and you don’t have to carry them everywhere at this point. I’ll take an extra toddler on in a heartbeat, but an infant….you have to be super desperate or we are REALLY good friends.

I figured this would change after I had kids of my own, but turns out it hasn’t. If you have a new baby I am more than happy to bring dinner for you but I really don’t want to hold your baby. I don’t know what to do with your baby. Once they can talk and interact, let’s hang out.

Breastfeeding my own kids has really put a damper on my ability to care for someone else’s infant. This is the only way I know how to make a baby happy. Seriously. This was brought to my attention when I was watching a friend’s 8-week-old for a few hours. I could NOT get this child to stop crying. Definitely one of the most stressful times I’ve had as a parent. I felt like a first time Mom even though I had two kids of my own at the time. I have ZERO arsenal in baby comforting that doesn’t involve boobs.

If you have these same feelings it is ok. You aren’t a bad parent if you think your baby is boring. There will be an age that is your forte as a parent. I haven’t made it past a 4-year-old yet but toddlers are way more fun than a baby so it seems things can only get better. (Except I hear 13-18 is rough)

 

 

 

 

The “M” word.

Minivan.

I said it. I have one. I tried REALLY hard to avoid this.

There comes a time in every large (ish) family’s life when you are faced with this dilemma. It usually happens with child #3 because a normal vehicle just stops being practical. You need a third row, there’s no denying it.

So you start looking at the options out there. There are plenty of vehicles that have a third row, but they all have their flaws.

1. Some vehicles have a third row that makes it so you have no leg room, trunk space or the ability to put a carseat in the third row. i.e. Kia Sorento. Not helpful when you have three kids in carseats or if you have friends that are over 5’0″.

2. The vehicle you would like (Suburban, Denali XL) would cost over half of what you bought a house for. Not justifiable to me. If I have to choose between going on vacation or driving something cool, I choose vacation every time. I would look so much cooler in an SUV but let’s be real, being cool is pretty much over after age 23. You know what’s cool at 31? Going to sleep at 9:30.

If you’ve already taken the plunge or are toying with taking the minivan plunge, this is how you deal with it.

  1. Don’t look back after you park. This is some serious denial of having a minivan. But it’s what I do. The less you look at it, the better it is.
  2. Be driving something else in your mind. In my head I’m rolling in a Land Rover, not a Honda Odyssey. Mind over matter people.

Next, let’s look at the advantages of having a minivan.

  1. You can haul around a LOT of people. I’m always good with being a toddler uber for friends because heck, I’ve got the space so I might as well put it to good use.
  2. You can bring 2 different drinks for everybody in the car. There’s something like 20 cupholders in my van so everybody can be double fisting.
  3. Your threat of car theft is minimal/non-existent. Nobody steals a van. I once accidentally left the side door open for over an hour in a busy parking lot and no one touched a thing. Probably because no one has any use for goldfish crumbs in their life.
  4. Tight parking spot? No problem! Because your doors slide open at the press of a button.
  5. There’s no car show to prep your vehicle for. You will never have to worry about getting an extensive detail package because Car & Driver isn’t going to seek you out for a photo shoot.

It’ll be ok if you get a van. If your friends drop you because of your vehicle then they are the ones with SERIOUS issues. Just remember, you can drive whatever car you want in your mind.

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Dog children

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I don’t understand how people have toddlers without a dog.

I should probably qualify this post before you read it. I love our dogs. They are fantastic with our children, they eat all of the food our children drop (besides Cheerios and carrots), they are cute, and quirky. But there’s something you should know…

I am the worst dog owner ever.

It wasn’t always like this. When we were a young married couple with no responsibilities besides each other and our jobs we did what every middle-class white couple with anything that resembles a yard does….we got a dog. To be honest, we were really just practicing keeping something alive. I have a really bad track record with plants (I’d call myself a black thumb); so before we could even talk about or think about bringing a real live human into the world we needed some practice with something more consequential than a beta fish. So we scoured petfinder.com and found our first love, Copa.

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Tiny Copa with well-rested Clint
We drove two hours one-way to meet her and make sure she was the one. We then picked her up three weeks later after our adoption application was approved. So in total, we drove 8 hours and spent $150 to bring our dog child home.

At first things were great. We gave her weekly baths, got her a cute collar, took her on walks, and took a ridiculous amount of pictures of her. We took her camping with us, let her sleep in the bed, and she even made the Christmas card one year.

Then after a few years of Copa staying alive with a few hiccups (snake bites, falling off the balcony of the back porch, killing a kitten in front of a young child, etc) we decided we had arrived as dog parents and it was time to graduate to tiny human parents.

In January of 2012 I woke up to a SOAKED bed at 2:00am. My due date was in late march and I had no idea of anything that involved beginnings of labor. Cue total first-time parent freak out mode. We were googling frantically and calling the emergency nurse line because we thought my water had broken. Upon talking to the OB nurse and a more adept sniff of the bed we came to find out that Copa had pissed the bed.

Copa earned a major strike against her that night.

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Scene of the crime
After Kate came on the scene (In March, not in January after the dog peed on us) I kept up with being a semi-decent dog parent. It really wasn’t until we (I) made a really bad choice and took on another dog right around the time we got pregnant with baby #2. Then things took a turn for the worse.

When you go from 1 dog to 2 dogs it somehow comes out to 4 times the amount of dog hair. I went from NEEDING to sweep/vacuum roughly twice a week to needing to every other day at a minimum. Having a crawling baby really highlights how dirty your floors are, by the way.

Sometimes as I am vacuuming up dog hair for what feels like the millionth time I daydream about how much cleaner my house would be without dogs. There, I said it.

Clint has managed to continue being an excellent dog Dad; he pets them, feeds them, takes them on a run on occasion, buys them heart worm meds, etc. However, when Clint is out of town things get real dicey for the dogs.

I forget to feed them. After a day of this (that’s real) they just start stalking me around the house until I figure it out and put food in their bowls. I have a lot of mouths to feed in this current stage of life and when push comes to shove I am going to focus my nurturing energy on the people in my house that I’m lawfully accountable for. The cops don’t come and arrest you if the dog is hungry. (They do get a lot of food that the toddlers drop)

They run away every time Kate or Cooper open the gate. I’ve just stopped being concerned about this because they always come back. *So sorry if you’ve had a panic attack after a run-in with Samba on the greenbelts, I would too if I didn’t know he was a gentle giant. I need to get the phone numbers on their tags changed to Clint’s number because when strangers call me and tell me my dog is loose I show no sense of urgency in the matter. I actually told someone once “don’t worry about it, they always come back.” I’m glad we weren’t face timing because I could hear the judgement, I didn’t need to see it.

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Samba sleeps like this all the time. He also audibly farts.
Our neighbors are dog-lovers and have given them many a treat and a ride home from the local park. There have been many instances where I didn’t even know they were missing and then Big John (neighbor) just walks up the drive with them and lets them in the back gate. They are truly the best neighbors ever and they can definitely attest to the fact that I’m the worst dog owner ever.

This was really highlighted for me the other day when a friend from church was watching Kiah for me and I mentioned I was running by the store. She asked me if I could pick up some dog treats for her. This was a new section of the pet aisle for me. I couldn’t remember the last time I even thought to buy a dog treat. So I thought I’d try this whole dog treat thing out and get a bag for my dogs while I was there. Turns out that this is such a foreign concept in our home that I’ve had to stop Cooper from eating them multiple times.

All of this to say, things change. Your priorities shift big time when you become a human parent. If you are in dog child phase, live it up (so should your dog!) because it’s going to be a long time after having kids that they get the love they want. Please know that I do love them, it’s just more of a you eat chewed up salami that a 2-year-old threw on the ground love at this current time.

 

 

How to throw a toddler dinner party.

My husband, Clint, is gone quite a bit during the summer time with his youth group. As a result, I have a LOT of single Mom time during the summer. 32 nights last summer. 32. We live 12 hours from family and my parents have made it abundantly clear that they do not visit Houston, TX during the summer months. I can’t really fault them for this, it is hot as death here. 108 degree heat indexes should not happen during the first week of June where actual, real humans are trying to live/function.

 

Last summer I decided I wasn’t going to leave town when Clint was gone. I decided that I was going to bank on the community that we have built in order to help me while I was solo for the summer. As hot as it was, it was the best decision. We have the most incredible/uncommon community of friends. (This will be SO many more posts, because I can’t get over how relationship-rich we are.)

Undoubtedly, the toughest time with young children is 4:00pm-7:00pm. It is the end of the day, they are cranky, they are tired but don’t want to go to bed, you have to clean them, read books to them, convince them they want to sleep, etc. My friends and I have come up with a solution to this quandary. Toddler dinners. That’s right. Dinners with those cute, irrational, short people who live in your home. And their cute, irrational, short friends. (And their Mom, NO ONE gets dropped off for this)

Here’s what this looks like.

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Total chaos, right? For the record, the guitar in the right-hand corner of the picture lived to tell the tale.

So here’s how this happens at your house.

  1. Find friends that have no husband for the night, a few days, etc. (You can do this with whoever you want, obviously) I originally invited others with the sales pitch of “why lose your mind by yourself, let’s do it together!”
  2. Don’t clean your house. Seriously. All I do when I am hosting one of these is remove all things that could potentially be used as a weapon or a choking hazard. That being said, one time a board book of ours was EATEN by another child. I didn’t know this was possible but turns out it is. You will need to clean up afterwards, don’t worry.
  3. Have people over after naps to play before dinner. Nobody needs to endure the witching hour alone. **Your toy room will not look the same after this. Better homes and gardens doesn’t look at playrooms so don’t fret.
  4. Be ok with slightly dangerous events happening.
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This is why I am not friends with my insurance company on the internet.

5. Serve food that children and adults will eat. Chicken nuggets, Spaghetti, fruit, bread, cookies. (It’s perfectly acceptable to have a beer with this meal, you’ll probably need it.)

6. Clean up as a team. Four Moms can knock out a dirty kitchen way faster than one. Did you know that there are people who disinfect their tables and counters after every meal? I didn’t. I sure don’t do that myself, but you’ll learn a lot during this activity.

Last summer there was a group of 4 of us that did this all week when all of our husbands were gone. The best part was that you only had to cook ONE meal then just show up the other nights. So this is a win for everybody. Your children may not know how to eat without all of their friends for a few days but they’ll figure it out.

Life is better together and we aren’t made to be an island, so find some buddies and make your table look like this.

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Learning on the job

When I became a Mom 4 and 1/2 years ago I had NO idea what I was doing. I legitimately had never changed a diaper in my life until Kate was born. My google cache’ the first two months of Kate’s life was nothing short of terrifying/hilarious and she pretty much only wore a diaper for her first few weeks of life because I did not know how to put clothes on a tiny human. I remember going to Kate’s one month check-up at the pediatrician (for which she received the best bath of her life) and when Clint asked me how it went afterwards my response was “They didn’t say anything about CPS or taking her away from us….so good, I guess?”

Becoming a Mom was/is the most terrifying and surreal experience of my life thus far. Sometimes I look in the rearview mirror in my van (cool is gone forever) and think “there is no way all of these small kids belong to me.” Turns out, they do.

So here is my not so sage advice for anyone about to become a mother, thinking about it, or for those that are overwhelmed by it…if I can do this, you can too. Here’s the things that make it possible:

  1. Coffee. This is real. I seriously have NO idea how non coffee drinkers function in society. I’d say my intake went up 150% upon having children.
  2. Jesus. Because I don’t have the love/patience/selflessness required to take care of someone 24/7, but he does.
  3. A smart phone with google. Everybody needs some web MD to reassure them that if their baby hasn’t pooped for 4 days that it isn’t going to start coming out their ears or something.
  4. One medical professional in your circle that can tell you off the books that it is just a rash and not the Ebola virus or malaria. (This will also save you a bundle)
  5. The assurance that everybody else is as clueless as you are. Being a parent has made me realize that even though I thought my parents knew what they were doing when I was growing up, they were just making it up as they went along like I am. If someone you know thinks they have it all together and knows how to be the perfect Mom they are LYING to themselves and you. I’ve come to the conclusion in my life that if you think you have your sh!% together then we have NOTHING in common and nothing to talk about.
  6. They don’t remember anything before they are 4 (at least in long-term memory). So if your baby cries it out for 20 minutes while you are in the shower or attempting to take a nap yourself they WILL NOT be able to talk to their therapist about it when they are 30! This is what I tell myself on rough days at least.
  7. Have an outlet that involves no children. Whether that is nights out with friends, going on long runs, bible studies that have childcare, etc. I have become a distance runner purely because no one is touching me when I am running.

 

Do It Afraid

Do it afraid.

This past weekend I went to the Belong Tour in Dallas. Of all of the truth and encouragement I received over the weekend, those three words hit me the hardest. By nature I am a planner. I want to know the next step. I have a plan B, C, D, E.  I like to be in control. This is why I hate to ski (nothing about strapping two sticks of wood to my feet and throwing myself down a mountain exudes control in the least to me) and why I am our family’s driver when going down a windy mountain road with no guardrail (I may be the worst backseat driver ever).

I’ve been ignoring an incessant whisper in my life to start writing for some time now. There are too many unsure things for me: What would I write about? Who would actually read it? What if people think I am too ______? So this is me doing it afraid. I have NO clue how to do this, what this is going to be about, if anyone besides my husband and my Mom will read this. But here goes nothing, feel free to follow our somewhat crazy life with 3 kids 4 and under, and the trouble I get into when being a Pastor’s wife with no filter.