Saturday, November 27, 2010

Loving with Thankfulness

As I held my daughter's hand this weekend on a long car ride, my heart overflowed with thankfulness for her smile, her sweet personality, her presence, and most of all her life.

Every day I look at the woman I am, can I be better for her? I want to be the best mother in the world, I want B to become a child who is secure, who feels loved, who knows her place in this world, and knows where her true home is.

It is the cry of my heart to love my child despite all else in a way that she will know that love intensely.

How often do we hear, "She knows I love her, she knows." But, does she? REALLY, does she? I see parents berate their children, that does not speak love. Discipline does, but harshness does not, and my heart breaks. Does she see it in your words, your tone, your actions?

Show her. Show her she is worthy, show her she is wonderful, show her she is love.

There have been so many wonderful songs out over the past year about love, who am I kidding, there is a new song every day about love, right? (I write them at the drop of a hat, "I love you doodle boodle, you're my little poodle," unique... I know.) I wrote recently about my favorite song by Sanctus Real, but I just heard this little ditty, by JJ Heller, where the Hell(er) have I been since August? (Other than stuck at home with a new babe, nap training, changing/washing diapers, attempting to keep a clean house, and a blessed, well fed husband.) What Love Really Means It is called What Love Really Means, and I LOVE it.

I'm sitting here with headphones on because I have the song on repeat, my heart is so full. Oh how I pray Brooklyn knows the love that pours out of my heart for her, the desire to teach her, to lead her, and most of all to cheer her on. Months ago she filled diapers, cried, cooed at times, slept, and ate, a lot. Yet, I just loved her, because she is my sweet love, my little girl, created perfectly to join this little family. Has she done anything to "earn" my love? Certainly not, she was born, and love was.

My heart.

I am a lover, it is simple. I hug, I touch people, I intently listen to them, I try to know their hearts. I know how I love, and how I feel loved. I know how my husband feels loved, and although it is quite similar to how I feel loved, it still isn't the same. He could not have married the more perfect woman for him, a cheerleader to give him words of affirmation he so craves. And I, a woman who needs quality time, have been given a man who will listen to me for hours, who will lay in bed at night and share dreams, stories, and snuggles with (even though he'd rather go right to sleep). Love looks so different to every one.

I'm thinking of my nieces and nephews and how I think they may feel most loved, but I can't be quite sure. I can tell that one enjoys quality time, he enjoys a good conversation or a game he can share. The biggest girl is a completely quality time love as well, stories to tell, and so much life to share. The next gal is completely physical touch, if that girl could sit on a lap while standing, she would, if she didn't get embarrassed from holding hands, she still would curl her fingers into mine. The little man is tough, maybe the biggest lover of the bunch, physical touch pours out of this boy but he has such pride on his face with words of affirmation, I'm still learning his love language, but kiss him every time I can. And the littlest lady above my own, I'm still trying to decipher, but with about 99.9% accuracy, I'd go for physical touch, because that girl loves to love on people and dogs. :) And the littlest ones... I'm still not sure. It's hard to tell when you don't live day in and day out with them, but I think the littlest dude is a quality time kind of a guy right now, but we'll see where he is at in a year. :) And clearly, my newest niece is all about those smooches and smiles! :)

We are all so different, we all have such unique needs, and as a mom, I have to take the time to see that in my child. I never want her to feel a void because I did not love her like she needed me to. If she is not a physical touch child, and that is how I choose to show her love, she is missing out on the best love I can offer. I need to learn her, and give her that love. Much like I have to with my husband, and so far, I've got a quality time, physical touch girl... because much else she doesn't get! :)

I'd encourage you to learn the love languages of those around you, there is even a short quiz: 5 Love Languages that you can take to learn your own. (Don't do the one question one... it is lame.)

And in different seasons, we change, and that is okay. But love looks so different to every person, and loving them for who they are, not what they have done, and knowing how to love them, is so important.

Go take a gander at that song, do it.

God loves me for me, not for what I've done, or who I have become, but he loves me for me. Do we whisper this to our little ones? Our babes can't hear it or see it enough in my mind.

I will love this girl in spite of her actions, I will love her along her goodness, and wrongs. I will shower her with grace to guide her to be a woman of compassion, integrity, kindness, truth, and love.

Oh Brooklyn,

I love you for the person you are, because you are wonderfully made, I love you, because you are so much more than you will ever do.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Choices as Parents

Some day, I will see Jesus face to face.

Some day, I will have to account for the choices I have made, the life I have lived, the woman, wife, and mother I have been.

I have been blessed with the hardest job on earth. Surely the position as a CEO would challenge me daily, but will I stand at Heaven's gates answering for my company not making an extra hundred thousand dollars this year? What about running late to a meeting (one in which I probably cut someone off on the road, or spoke harshly to on my way out the door), will God look down upon me for my tardiness?

I believe I will stand there answering for the life I lived, 23 years as myself, and the rest of my days, a mother. I think much of what I will answer for is the way I mothered. Did I put my children before myself? Did I give to them first? Was I kind, firm, loving, and just? Did I show them grace? Was I fair? Did I teach them about Jesus, and pray for them (not just for their safety, to be blessed, and for health)?

So much more than anyone ever understands goes in to being a parent, if you do it well. It is easy to simply be a provider as a parent, and most likely your children will grow up to be okay. But don't we want our children to be amazing? If we do not set healthy boundaries, if we are hands off parents, if we always let our children off of the hook, then why are we even calling ourselves parents?

My husband said it perfectly last night... or at least I think it was pretty perfect. We went to a marriage conference and this is what he remembers.

You have to be both the best friend and the parent. You have to be the person your child can run to for support, love, comfort, friendship, and laughs. But, you also have to set the rules, tell them when they have gone too far, teach them, lead them.

Parenting is a balancing act, no one will ever have the scale perfect all of the time, but shouldn't we strive for that? Shouldn't every day be about being the best parent? The best parents come under the guidance of God.

What if we started every day praying? What if in those prayers we thanked God for being mighty, for being the Lord who created our children, who gave us a gift? What if we asked Him to guide us in our parenting, to show us what we are doing well, and what we are not. What if we asked God to protect, bless and walk with our children? What if we asked God to be in us?

Those, would be rocking parents I'd say. Just saying.

Last night I pondered putting our children first, not every time, but when it comes to eating dinner, we should serve them first. (I will never forget TD telling us his story about this.) I should put their needs above my own. Surely Jon and I also need time together to grow our marriage and live life together, but I also do think there is a big but there, BUT not at the expense of our children. When we are celebrating them, we really need to celebrate them!

Brooklyn was born on our wedding anniversary, as I went in for surgery at about 6:30 pm, two years prior I was sitting down to my wedding feast, surrounded by people I loved more than they will ever know. This year, I was in an operating room, surrounded by people I would soon love for bringing my child to me.

We discussed going out for Brooke's birthday, and due to the decision we have made to have me stay home, we budget things. Holidays, parties, birthdays, everything has to be under the microscope. But, we made that choice joyfully, and I would rather not get a new pair of jeans for 15 years and be able to be home with my love, and as long as God makes that possible, we will be good stewards of what we are given.

Anyway, we talked about if we are budgeting and Jon wants a margarita at dinner or something, and we only have money for that or dessert, does Brooklyn get her birthday dessert instead of dad getting his margarita? No, Jon is not a lush, just saying. He said something to the effect of, but we can celebrate our anniversary too! And of course I replied, "If we are going out for Brooke's birthday, then we are going out for Brooke's birthday. We can celebrate our anniversary on another day." He still wasn't sold on the idea, but I know he will always put our kiddos first. It is really hard to share a birthday and anniversary, my parents celebrated their anniversary once that I can remember, Jon and I wanted to celebrate every year. So far, we're 1 for 2, because we were sort of in the hospital for that second one. Maybe we'll go out for our 2 year and 6 month anniversary... that could be the tradition we choose. As parents, we are forced to make choices, I hope I am able to make the right ones.

**This is one of my favorite songs of all time- the story of a father and husband, who hears the cries of his wife and children's hearts to lead them. Oh how I wish this could be a father's day sermon, beautiful. This site, plays the song, you can hear the story behind the song, and other cool stuff from Sanctus Real:**

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

What is it with women? I hope my girl doesn't catch the disease.

To be a rare breed of a mom, it takes something so special.

You have to look at yourself and love what you see.

Not every day, not every moment, but you have to LOVE the person looking back at you for most of them.

Yes, that means loving that stretch marked belly, beautiful eyes, little extra flubs, undone hair, and stunning smile.

Maybe this is something I'm good at, maybe that is why I think it is so important to tell yourself how cool you are. I'm not sure how I became someone with confidence, I'm not particularly beautiful, I don't have amazing eyes, my teeth aren't perfect, but I do have cute hair. See?! I just can't say that I'm ugly, because I just don't believe it! Sure, I'm a little overweight, but I have curves that could knock you out.

I remember hearing my mom, friends, friends' moms complain about how they looked, little things, often ending with a giggle. What is that, do we think because we're women we have to hate what we've got? I remember telling myself when I was about 13 that I didn't really care, I wasn't going to be like every woman I saw on TV (in particular) who just hated how she looked. I decided to LOVE it, to embrace every little thing.

I hope so badly that Brooke will grow up to completely love herself, that she will see herself as the beautiful girl God created. It is a disease to me, to try and find something you don't like about yourself just to complain about, to fit in with other women. Oh B, please see who you are, inside and out. I want you to love all that you are, for the simple fact that you are worth that love. I promise to do all that I can to teach my daughter how to love herself inside and out, I'm going to be a rare breed.

And if you saw Grey's a couple of weeks back, "We all have stuff we don't talk about!" And sometimes, I feel like it is this. Loving ourselves- every part of who we are.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Holding Hands

I'm sitting here tonight after putting my daughter to sleep, yes, it is only 7:30, but that kid just would not take her third nap no matter how hard we tried, so a little early to bed we go.

As I nursed my sweet girl before bed, I recited to her my favorite story, On the Night You Were Born, buy it for anyone you know having a baby, tear JERKER, seriously. I hear my voice tremble as I speak the words, "For there had never been anyone like you ever in the world," "Until everyone heard it, and everyone knew, of the one and only ever you."

Such a gift I have been given, Lord thank you for the miracle you created in me, for the mother you have created me to be, and the sweet girl you have created in Brooklyn.

My girl, is a hands girl, and always has been. From her very first days of life she has stared at hands, she is enamored by the picture my parents have hanging in their family room, The Hands of God and Adam in the Sistine Chapel(, and she holds my hand for most of every day.

If she cries out in the night, I give her my hand, when she wakes up in the morning (but I'm not really ready to get up) I give her my hand. As she nurses in the morning, she holds my thumb, when I carry her in my Moby, she holds my hand. As we shop, we hold hands. As I drive, we hold hands. As she naps, she holds my hand. I lay with her before bed every night, she squeezes my thumb, and it is the most precious moment, every day. (My bedroom was decorated in precious moments... hehe!)

See, she's just a hands girl. For some reason, she just loves to hold hands, and I hope she always will. I cherish the moments she holds my hand or thumb, squeezing, falling fast asleep. What a love.

I know one day she'll be embarrassed to hold my hand. Sometimes I will hold her hand for her safety, or to show her the way. But mostly, I hold her hand because she is my daughter, and we're sort of best friends (at least that is what I tell her). I'll remember these moments when she is 11 and thinks she doesn't have to hold my hand. (And remind her she used to never let go.)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cheesy Tortilla Soup

So I made this soup the other day, with just a few things in my pantry, and I absolutely love this!! I can't stop eating it, seriously. Jon said it reminded him of the Max an Erma's tortilla soup, which is a good sign.

Wanna make it? It's a little spicy, but not as spicy as M&E.

1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 cup milk
1 large can corn
1 large can Rotel or canned tomatoes and green chiles
1 chunk Chicken bullion
2 cups hot water
1 package taco seasoning

6-8 Servings-ISH

Directions: Heat cheese soup and milk stirring continually until fully mixed. Add chicken bullion and 2 cups hot water stirring occasionally.v Add taco seasoning. Add corn and tomatoes/chiles, let cook 5 minutes. Serve! :)

I ate mine with sour cream and added rice along with tortilla chips on the side- YUM! :) We also had chicken with the meal.

You could add chunked chicken or rice to the soup, rice will certainly thicken it up!
Seriously, YUM!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tears and One Big Lap.

You know when your heart just breaks because your baby is crying?

I hate when it seems nothing can calm her down, this has only happened a few short times in Brooklyn's life, but when it happens, I feel broken. She may have gas, or a tummy ache, usually I can just hold her legs up, peace. Tonight, she was just tired. Poor girl, her naps were a little off, and that is just okay! She needs to be able to adjust, of this we are 100% committed.

Last night was the second try of "cry it out adapted." Remember when we did this when she was tiny? THAT went well-NOT. Our research told us to try again just after 4 months, we're trying!

She is old enough now that she can learn how to soothe herself, and we are going to give her that opportunity- BUT, if it doesn't work now, that is perfectly fine with us. We love snuggling her, me nursing her, and bouncing her till her heart's content. (Is that saying to your heart's content? hmm....)

We put her down, she slept for an hour, then, she woke up. SHOCKING!!! We went in, soothed her, paci, walked out. She began crying, and we gave her 3 minutes, then returned, soothed, pat on the back, paci, "I love you"s and left. Then 2 minutes passed, silence... but at the 5 minute mark, she was upset, so I returned. We are currently in the 10 minute phase (and it stays 10 minute chunks until she gives up... or we do.) It has been 9 minutes, she has been quite for about 3 of them, I thought she was out. Now she is VERY upset, but she will get this. I promise I'm not torturing my baby either, she still smiles at me in the morning! :)

On to the second 10 minute section, less crying, more moments of sighing, head down. A few screams, "SAVE ME MOMMA!" And at times, we swear she is saying "Mom! Mom!" or "Daaaaaaaaaaada!" Sweet girl.

We're on to the third 10 minute section, last night I went in after the 3rd 10 minute section and that was the last one... we'll see how tonight goes. Fewer fusses, but I'm not holding my breath, and she's not holding hers. (Thank goodness, I used to cry so hard I'd hold my breath and pass out.)

But, it has been quite sweet to share in this adventure with Jon. "It just breaks my heart." "I just hate that, how can she cry like that?" We've both been heard saying tonight.

Even, "Stay to the left, left left!!!" as our hall floors creak, and I just figured out this little lefty trick last week. Stay left... when leaving our bedroom, but please, don't sneak up on me, or I will punch you. I walk around my house with a fist at all times, I'm a paranoid weirdo, sorry. At night, I do the same... my kids better be careful! (I'm SO not joking, I TOTALLY do this, ask Jon, fist up in socking position.)

As my girl cried, I kept busy. When I went into her room I laid my hand on her and prayed a million things, "Lord help her to be a calm, strong, woman of faith. Grow her into a gracious, loving, woman of integrity. May she know you more than I and have a heart that serves." Millions of prayers are prayed over you daily sweet girl, how can a parent not cover their child in prayers? I do not understand. Parenting without God seems such an impossible venture, and it doesn't have to be done.

As I'm sitting here, I guess what is most important is that Jon and I always talked about how we would try different things as we parent. We aren't going to get it right the first time, and we know if we are willing to try things, our children will be too. We aren't going to do everything just right, right away. I think that is part of this Grace Based Parenting stuff I'm learning too, free to try things, and free to mess up, and have love surrounding you all the way.

We don't want to be "cry it out" parents, it is not in our nature. She cries and it breaks our hearts, we are not people who can stand it. We are fixers, we want to fix whatever is wrong. But, if this is what our daughter needs, to help her sleep, to learn to stay asleep, and to be able to sleep on her own as she gets big, then we are willing to suffer a little bit for the sake of our girl. And tonight, as I checked on her after aforementioned third 10 minute section, she was sucking her middle and ring finger, trying to calm herself down, she is learning. What a precious, sweet girl. Soon she'll be learning to crawl, and walk, and I will always hold her hand. She will never be too big for this lap, of that I am sure. I promised my niece one day that she can always sit on my lap, no matter how big she gets. She is 7 now, and occasionally will still sit on my lap. I know Brooklyn will know the same, she will never cry too many tears, or grow too big, or do anything too wrong to not fit on this lap, because this is one big lap, with lots of love.

We also didn't want to have Brooke in our bed before we had her, we were afraid, now, she snuggles us, sometimes sleeps with us, and is often tossed about amongst fluffy pillows and blankets on a Saturday morning, man does she love it!! And we do too.

Because it is so easy to decide what you're going to do, and what you WANT to work. But it may not work, and what we have tried with B, may not work with any other children to come into our lives, and we are completely okay with that. We will do the best that we can, with what we are given, and what we know.