When Validation Is What’s Really Needed

validation

A scenario for you:

A new (or newish….sometimes not so new) mama says something along the lines of “this is so freaking hard!”…..

And someone might say something in response like “we’ve all been there!”.

And you sometimes think, was that supposed to be encouraging or make me just want to crawl into a corner and cry some more?

I say this because it is often times (not always, I know) followed up with statements such as “get used to it”, “it gets worse!” or “just wait until they’re teenagers!”.

There are more varied responses, I know. Those are just a sampling of what I’ve personally heard, or have heard others say to the new parent on the playground.

I do believe the intention is there to be encouraging, but sometimes those responses or “advice” statements seem to be opposite of that.

It kind of goes along with things like “sleep when the baby sleeps” (not that that’s all that bad of advice), and the “oh, enjoy this time because it goes fast!”.

And it so very much does. They are not lying. Being a mama of 4, the oldest and youngest two being ten years apart, I get it. You just blink and they are heading toward tweendom and buckle up! Because, holy moly!

I know….I know these 2 year olds are going to be there faster than I’d like, but I also know how very hard the early days/weeks/months….years….can be!

Absolutely, I have been a mama that has said “we’ve all been there” to a new/new-ish mama. And I have absolutely intended it to be encouraging….kinda like “we’ve been there, we totally get it. It’s hard”. But I have found myself in this season of life being more mindful of how I respond. I will often try to follow up the “we’ve all been there” with, “you are not alone, us mamas that have been there before get it, we’re here when you need to chat”.

Because, let’s face it, it’s freaking hard, this parenting thing!

I know I’ve been guilty in a quick response of saying “we’ve all been there”, only to wonder later, when someone has said it to me, if the person I’ve said it to before took it as encouragement, or just a “yeah, we’ve all been there…join the club!”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve not found that entirely encouraging when dealing with tiny humans and feeling like I’m losing my mind. I have found myself wondering “I am supposed to just suck it up and deal with it? Am I doing something wrong? Why do I feel more alone than not?” And yes, there are times we definitely need to suck it up and deal with it. Life happens and you gotta roll with it.

What I have found helpful? When a fellow mama or, more seasoned than myself mama, has said “we get it. It’s hard….we’re here for you, you are not alone”.

Followed up with statements such as “and you are doing a fantastic job!”, doesn’t hurt either.

Sometimes? Sometimes a mama just needs validation that it’s HARD. And it’s okay to hide in the bathroom or a closet, or the pantry or laundry, with some chocolate and cry.

We have ALL been there at some point! And it helps soothe the rough day, even if just a little.

I think it’s easy to compare….to the mama that has 3, and you wonder why you’re having such a hard time with only one!

{by the way, I totally hate the word “only” when used like that….}

Or the mama with 2, three years apart, looking at the mom of twins thinking “and I thought I was having a hard day….I only have two, not the same age!”.

Or the mama with 3 that can’t figure out how that mom over there with 5 is managing so much better! She should be able to handle “only 3″…..

And it becomes easy for those thoughts of  “they’ve all been there, I just need to deal” to pop into our heads, making us doubt if we’re even cut out for the parenting thing.

You are. We are.

When I had an “only” for 8 years, I often doubted myself. Then I went from being a mom of ONE to a mom of FOUR in less than two years and I REALLY began to doubt myself.

Here is what I have learned….

When it is ONE, it’s hard because it’s all you’ve known. You are caring for a tiny human and they cry and are super needy and helpless in the beginning and you are just trying to figure this whole thing out! There was a time, when my oldest was itty bitty and I was crying, he was crying…it was bad. I looked at him and said, “I’m new at this whole mama thing, and I know you are new at this being in the world thing, so let’s bare with each other and figure it out together, k?”….I gave myself grace. I didn’t know it all and I had to learn a whole lot. I am STILL learning a whole lot since I am about to embark on the teenage years with that one.

When I had TWO? I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I was a brand new mama all over again, but this time through adoption to an almost 5 year old, that I’d missed the first 4 plus years of life with….talk about figuring things out! I’m still learning on that, too.

Then, SURPRISE! Add some twin babies to the mix and It was, again, like starting all over! I’d not had twins before, and they were new at this whole life thing!

I’ve learned that it’s OKAY not to have all the answers. And it’s okay to give yourself GRACE in the learning process and curve balls that will, absolutely, head your way.

So, fellow parents, will you join me in being more mindful and thoughtful in our responses to the new parents on the block?

I don’t know if you do resolutions or not, but this year I want to be more mindful, THOUGHTFUL, and intentional with how I speak or respond to others.

How about you?

 

 

 

The Christmas Book Basket

ChristmasBookBasket{this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience}

 

It happened so unintentionally, our holiday book basket we put by the Christmas tree each year.

When our oldest was just a tot and into ALL THE THINGS, we decided not to even attempt putting gifts under the tree until Christmas morning. It really helped keep everyone a little more sane.

So, instead, I opted to put a few of the holiday books we had in a basket and placed it by the tree.

The next year I did the same thing, and just like that, it became a tradition!

Now, however, I’m a bit more intentional about it and the books that go into it. We like to add one or two books each year, or rotate them out, depending on the year and ages of the kiddos.

When little bitty, more board books made their way into the basket. It’s definitely not a “put all the super cherished books you don’t want mucked up” in kinda basket. The last thing you want to do is add books in that you’ll stress about…nah, this is a meant to be read and re read many times, pulled in and out of basket multiple times and, occasionally, a torn page that gets taped up kinda thing.

This year, I’ve actually added a few more non board books, since we’re mostly past the tearing all the pages stage….mostly. Hopefully.

One of the main things I love about this, is it encourages “reading” and discovering of new things and learning more about the winter season and holidays.

I love how the youngest kiddos will just wander over, sit down and start reading. Sometimes the basket gets picked up and carried around the house, but usually finds it’s way back by the tree and I will occasionally catch a glimpse of 3 out of 4 kiddos just sitting and reading and looking at the pictures.

These are some of our favorites:


Mortimer’s Christmas Manger


God Gave Us Christmas


The Tale of Three Trees: A Traditional Folktale


One Shining Star: A Christmas Counting Book

Another thing I love, is the family time it helps to create and reminds us to focus on a little more around, what can be, a very busy time.

It’s definitely become a loved tradition and one the bigger kids have looked forward to each year. And as the littlest ones become more familiar with it, I’m hoping it stays a well loved tradition.

What are some of your most loved holiday traditions?

Once Upon a Crafty Time { a Stocking Story}

stockings

Once upon a time, I used to be known as a creative crafty person. I still fall into the creative category, but I jokingly said when I was pregnant with the twinnies, that they were draining all the craftiness outta me!

And I honestly think they kind of did.

Not that I don’t have a creative moment here and there. I do. And I still create and dream and design and plan out projects, just not like I used to. And most of that creative energy it seems is focused towards the kitchen with baking and cooking, along with taking photos of my kids, writing, and house renovation stuff.  More recently, though, I have been adding in some fun craft time with the littlest ones when the bigs are at school.

In my once upon a crafty person time, I used to sew jammies for my older two kiddos, starting when my oldest was 1 year, EVERY christmas. I loved it. Sometimes they were christmasy, sometimes just something they liked a lot and were interested in like guitars, owls, etc.

Last year was the absolute last year I decided I would do that. Because there are four of them now. And they keep growing, which means new patterns have to be drafted or bought….and well, I no longer have a dedicated sewing and crafting room to myself. So yeah, just no. It became more hassle than fun and I had to start in like October and my kids would surely grow between the time I started and finished them. As much as I once loved making them, I decided it was time to let this tradition go. At least for the time being.

{Even though my oldest STILL wants me to make him some….this year though, he agreed to let me surprise him with actual store bought ones}

I’ve become really good at hunting for awesome things and clicking the “buy now” button when I see a great deal or find an awesome handmade item that would be great. And I am all about supporting small biz and mamas and dads in the handmade community.

With all that being said, this year I did manage to pull out enough craftiness to design and make our new family stockings.

It was time and something I’d been wanting to do for a few years now. Especially for my oldest girl.

You see, our last set of stockings? With the exception of adding two more when we found out the twins were to join us, they had been picked out and bought for a different family.

{stay with me….let me explain}

When I had chosen them, we were still in the adoption process and were literally waiting for the call to go back to Russia and complete the adoption of a child we’d already met and fell in love with. She had been expected to join us before Christmas of that year, so I wanted to have a stocking for her.

Well, Christmas came and went, and we were still waiting. It wasn’t until 5 months later, we’d learn that she was never officially going to join our family.

{You can read more about our adoption story HERE}

So, the next holiday season was approaching, and fearing the same would happen, I couldn’t bring myself to pick out a different stocking. I convinced myself, since it had never been used, that surely it would be OK for our newest family member to use. So we did.

By the time we’d arrived back home on Thanksgiving Day that year, and hunkered down in our little family cocoon….I’d never gotten to picking out a new stocking….so we used what we had.

I didn’t think it’d bother me. And that year we were too in the beginning trenches and post adoption emotions to really think about it, so I packed the stockings away with the rest of the Christmas things that year and didn’t think much about it.

Until…..

The following year when I took the stockings out, I burst into tears. I was caught completely off guard by my emotions. I felt devastate and heart-broken all over again.

{Sidenote: this is something I know will never go away. Loss is loss….I will always miss this child. Always.}

We used those stockings that year, but I could hardly ever look at them. And, honestly, I felt so stupid about being so emotional about it.

The following year I decided I’d make some! Uh…yeah, that was a comical thought. I had itty bitty baby twinfants…..totally didn’t happen. And we’d decided to put the house up early-ish the next year, so we hardly did anything for Christmas decorating that year.

Next year. I was determined to make them!

{I’ll save you a long story there….didn’t happen}

This year, I decided I was going to set out early in the year and get to work on them. I had designed them with each family members personality in mind, searched pinterest for fabrics and ideas. Decided, at one point, I was nuts and should just go and find some that would be perfectly acceptable.

Told my husband I should totally just find a handmade shop and buy them. Oldest overheard and pleaded I make them.

{he really likes mama made things…}

I had found this awesome matryoshka fabric the year before that I’d snatched up and planned to use for Sunshine girl.

This year. I was determined. It was GOING TO HAPPEN.

I really wanted a brand new especially made JUST FOR HER stocking for my Sunshine girl. She deserved it.

SO. FINALLY, I decided on the design, found the fabrics, found an awesome and easy to follow free stocking pattern {found HERE}, ordered fabric and got started.

I did a little chunk here and there like an assembly line.

My goal was to have this accomplished BEFORE Thanksgiving. And I finished BEFORE Halloween!!

{I’m honestly still in shock about it}

When I finished my Sunshine girls, I cried.

{caught off guard by those emotions again….}

I love love LOVE that she has one. JUST FOR HER!

And my kids? The oldest ones anyway, LOVE that they are mama made. I thanked my oldest for encouraging me to make them. I’m really glad I did.

And I love that each year, no matter the crazy, they will always have something handmade from their mama in the form of their stockings.

{the rest of the handmade love will have to come from all the awesome handmade greatness shops out there}

Do you try to add a little handmade into your holiday gift giving?

How Not To Lose Your Mind Over Advent

AdventBox

It went it little bit like this…..

I decided to try and tackle some of the {very} simple holiday decorating for Christmas.

We’ve been slowly leaning towards simplifying the holidays more and more each year, and this year is probably the first I felt like I truly had a decent handle on.

For at least two seconds.

I found the advent candles, and mistakenly, put them down within reach of two busy and very curious toddlers.

Before I could even blink, they swiped them and decided to have a tot sized fencing match.

Yeah. Candles are broken. I don’t have backups.

I searched Pinterest to see what quick and simple DIY ideas there were and could maybe assemble something together before Advent was officially to begin.

Let’s laugh together, shall we? Because. Seriously.

I did, indeed, find some awesome and amazing ideas…..that I plan to use next year.

This year? I’m letting it go. We are doing a modified Advent.

I did manage to get our Night Before Advent Box put together with new pjs for each kiddo, coloring pages printed out for each day of Advent, colors and our Unwrapping the Greatest Gift.

A day late. Because that’s just sometimes how life goes….

And, in an effort of keeping things real and full disclosure, a little confession:  The day we were to do our “day before advent” loveliness, I was in a no good grumpy mood.

No idea why really. Just a funk and mama bear was more like grumpy bear.

By bed time, it was literally, EVERYONE GO TO BED LIKE NOW. But without the yelling {I know, impressive isn’t it?!} And I put myself in time out.

And by time out, I mean I plugged in my earbuds, put on some Sufjan Stevens {holiday edition} on Pandora and started painting.

What did I start painting? Why the Night Before Advent Box, naturally.

An hour later, when my husband walked into the kitchen, I’m pretty sure he thought I’d lost my mind as I was painting and adding some touches of glitter. Because, GLITTER.

Or he just knew that I was processing and this is how I seem to do it best.

So, those advent candles? Not gonna happen this year. Even though my oldest commented that he really missed seeing them. I agreed, but was all “NOPE. Next year though….next year”.

And because I really mean it, I created a pin board JUST for a little Advent inspiration . I’m really loving some of the more modern and simplistic set ups some have going on.

So, all this to say….our best intentions can go completely wrong. And LIFE happens and candles get broken, and the ideas you might have had are just not.gonna.happen this year. And I am here to say, it’s absolutely, completely OKAY.

Sometimes, taking a more simple approach during the holidays is really whats best. And sometimes, depending on what season your littles are in {like underwater toddlerhood…}, it means maybe not so much with candles, but more with reading the Advent story. And having a simple advent calendar.

And enjoying the time we do have with family.

Our Night Before Advent Box and evening happened. A day late, and more simplified.

And if you’re one week in and are going “crap! this advent thing is kicking my butt! and I totally forgot XYZ!”….it’s OK. And you still have three more weeks to turn it all around.

Lets say it together…..

It’s ALL going to be OKAY. Really.

Do you celebrate Advent? What are some of your favorite ways to keep things more simple during, what can be, chaos and crazy of the holiday season?

7 Tips to Make Baking With Toddlers Awesome

baking with toddlers

{this post may contain affiliate links for your convenience}

Baking with tiny humans. This either sounds insanely awesome to some or just plain insane to others.

And I am going to go ahead and admit, I’m in both camps.

But if it’s one things my kiddos love to do, is help me in the kitchen with ALL THE THINGS.

And with the holidays coming upon us at lightening speed, I thought I’d share some of my tried and true ways of having your tinies “help” you while you get your holiday baking on….

First things first….those expectations that this is going to be amazingly fun and your baked product is going to come out looking like all those delicious pics in a magazine?

Let those go right now.

I’m not saying your confections are going to be hideous, but letting go of the “perfection” or simply wanting it to look “pinterest picture worthy”, will make a HUGE difference in how you set out to make this whole thing work. And fun will definitely happen along the way, especially when you simply set out to enjoy your time together.

So, without further ado, here are my 7 tips to help baking with your toddlers this season {or anytime, really} more enjoyable for ALL involved:

1. Have a game plan 

Make sure you’ve planned out what it is you’re wanting to make, take inventory to make sure all ingredients are indeed in your pantry/fridge, etc. Trust me on this…theres nothing like being in the middle of batter/dough/whatever you’re making and trying to keep little fingers out and BAM, realize you don’t have the number of eggs needed. Or sprinkles. Or cupcake liners (if you use those)….

2. Have baking supplies/utensils/measuring cups/spoons and the like available that THEY can use.

baking with toddlers

I actually took a trip to our local dollar store and grabbed some measuring cups and spoons and even some pot holders that are theirs to use for pretend play, and for when we bake together as well. And they LOVE that they get to have their very own things to “help” bake or cook with. This year I also added a couple smaller sized rolling pins for them to use.

3. Plan for a time of day that works with them, as well as you.

Starting something right before nap time might not be the best option. My twinnies still take a nap after lunch, so we typically bake mid morning. But, do what you know works best for you and try to work around your littles schedule. Nothing like cranky toddlers and flying batter to make a mama want to run screaming from the kitchen! Uh….not that I’d know anything about that….

4. Along with making sure to plan for a time of day that works best for your kiddos, also make sure to allot enough time for the “helping”.

baking with toddlers

Recognize that what might take you 10-15 minutes to mix up and toss in the oven, is going to take easily 20 minutes plus with “helpers”. It’s okay. Embrace it and breathe.

5. Let them help. For real.

baking with toddlers

I am a total type A-ish person and I’ve learned to let go of a LOT since having children number 3 and 4. My twins have helped me see the joys in the “oopses” and the learning that can happen. So, let them help measure out, or dump the flour into the bowl. A little flour on the counter won’t hurt. I promise.

6. Have kid friendly items they can use.

If your kiddos are anything like mine, they love to use the real thing. So, sometimes having a less breakable bowl for them to “mix” their own ingredients in is super helpful and makes the process fun for both of you. This little tip has helped me be able to get my bowl mixed up faster, while still allowing them to help mix up all the ingredients and them continue to work on their bowls while I then transfer the batter (or dough or whatever I’m making), to the pan/cupcake tins or whatever you happen to be using for baking.

7. Be positive and offer up encouraging words to your littles.

And if you are making something that requires decorating, don’t try and “fix” how they’ve done it. Leave it however they put the sprinkles on…they will be PROUD of their work and will look to see if you like it too. It’s okay if it looks like the green sprinkles vomited all over the sugar cookie snowman and he looks more like the hulk than a snowman. Or if the gingerbread ninja got a happy helping of pink sparkly and flower sprinkles and looks more like its from Whoville, verses the stealth ninja that it seemingly is supposed to resemble. It’s perfectly and awesomely OKAY. Promise.

Now, turn on the light in the oven and sit down on the floor with your littles and watch the awesome and amazing goodness bake, while you attempt to drink your sorta hot coffee. There’s just something about watching those cookies or cupcakes (or whatever you decided to bake) rise in the oven and turn into deliciousness.

Once those baked confections are ready to come out and cool off, go outside or play an activity while they cool down, to help distract the anxious toddlers that want to EAT ALL THE THINGS RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

Once it’s ready, grab a cookie, sit at the table and enjoy the sparkly ninja and green monster snowman. Or pumpkin bread.

Do you love to bake with your kiddos? What other tips would you share that help make the process awesome?

Sometimes Life Requires Cake

There are sometimes events and moments in life that just call for cake.

Like, for dinner.

CakeForDinner

{Yes, dinner}

Yesterday was one of those days. Just as I thought we’d cleared the sickness train and were well on our way to family wellness land, it hit us again.

One child had been diagnosed with bronchitis earlier in the week, but then another went down. I noticed one of the twinnies was breathing a bit shallow. I watched. I listened. I watched some more….wondering “do I call or just wait and see?”….my gut told me no, I needed to call. So I called.

{If it’s one thing I’ve learned….always trust your instincts}

Turns out, my littlest boy had the beginnings of croup and an ear infection. Blech. Sure glad I called! We’ve done this croup thing before, but it involved a long night at the ER of the local Children’s hospital….no one needed to do that again. Nope. No thank you.

However, this meant a long afternoon spent getting two toddlers packed up and to the pediatricians office and then racing back home in time for the school bus to arrive with the older kiddos. By the time all that finished, it was after 4 and what I had planned to make for dinner I really wasn’t in the mood to make.

{it was pancakes. pancakes/cake, same difference, right?}

I was, however, really in the mood for cake. Like, serious craving for cake and icing. I actually wanted a cupcake, but I figured the other five members of the household might want one too. And I was out of cupcake liners….so I made a cake.

I used this recipe for the cake:

Homemade Yellow Cake 

which I love because it’s SO simple and doesn’t require difficult anything. And it’s tasty.

And I used this recipe for the icing:

Creamy Chocolate Frosting

Super simple and I had all the things on hand.

My oldest laughed and thought I was totally joking when he asked “what’s for dinner?” and I said cake.

He said “like pancakes?”

I said, nope. Cake, like yellow cake and chocolate frosting.

He responded, “mom, I like this thinking, keep going with that, it’s awesome”.

{also, this brings me to ask, do you say icing or frosting? I use them interchangeably, but, it makes me wonder, if there a correct terminology to either? I know, that was random. Happens a lot around here. Let’s blame the cake.}

I usually stick pretty consistently to the meals I’ve planned out, but I looked at the flour and eggs and realized they could either turn into breakfast for dinner in the form of pancakes, or make an actual cake.

So, cake it was!  I served some fruit on the side, so it totally balanced it out. That’s what I’m going with.

Dinner was actually awesome though. We all enjoyed dinner together after a somewhat chaotic day (more like week…month….). Definitely a fun memory for my family.

And really, that’s what it’s about….family time and enjoying each other and life. Even in the midst of the crazy.

Sometimes, life calls for cake. For dinner.

Taking a Break For My Kids, Not From My Kids

TakingTimeForMom

It was after a long couple weeks of 3 out of 4 kiddos sick, snotty noses, coughs, sneezes, not enough outside time and it was all catching up to me.

I was sick of my yoga pants and t-shirt covered in smears of snot. I made a decision that day to not let it overtake me.

After a long morning of busy toddlerness with the twinnies, I got them down for a nap and crossed my fingers that there would be no nap strikers that day. One of my toddlers seems to be on the verge of giving up ALL naps and I’m not sure Mama is ready for that!

I waited a few minutes to make sure they were both, indeed, going to nap. Success.

I stopped by our bedroom and glanced at myself in the mirror. Hair in a top not, snot smeared shirt and who knows what on my worn three days in a row yoga pants.

Ugh. I really did look like how I felt….and I didn’t like it.

I decided to change out of my clothes and put make-up on, regardless of how silly it might feel, since I had no plans to leave the house anytime soon. And as I pulled out my flat iron, put a little make-up on and changed into non snot smeared clothes, I began to feel so.much.better. And as I looked up and saw me, I could see the change in my entire being….I hadn’t done anything major, just jeans, a slightly dressier shirt than my usual snot smeared ones of late, and a little lip gloss. And earrings.

I breathed out a long breath and felt so much lighter. Even if it was for a moment of time. I felt like not “just mom”, but like mom in not yoga pants and a little bit of makeup (that covered over those dark-sleep-deprived circles…).

It reminded me of the time we finally got to go out on our first official date after we’d had the twins. I had begun to feel lost and completely overwhelmed by motherhood with four kiddos and two of them being infants that I was breastfeeding.

I felt nothing like the mom in the mirror with a little bit of make-up and a simple, clean shirt. I felt more akin to a dairy cow with two appendages constantly attached….oh, and two older kiddos I was trying to remember to actually get fed more than popcorn for breakfast.

{Yes, that actually happened. Popcorn for breakfast….more than once.}

And our date wasn’t anything major, it was to chuy’s for a late lunch. Not a quiet place, but somewhere taking all four kiddos to was just not gonna happen, and I’d been craving it and didn’t want it in a to-go bag.

We only had about 2 hours to get there, eat and get back to my nurslings twinfants. Part of that 2 hours being spent pumping in the car. Yep, hot date right there.

But before we’d even left to take the kids to the grandparents and even attempt a date, I was staring at the mom in the mirror, feeling awkward and unsure of what exactly I was supposed to be doing to get ready. Make up? Oh yeah….where is that again? Clothes….what even fits?

I rummaged through my clothes trying to find something that both fit and made me feel non-dairy cow-ish. I wasn’t having a successful time and I sat down on the bathroom floor and just started crying.

I felt silly, awkward and just not myself. I desperately wanted to spend time with my husband, but the effort it was taking was literally exhausting. And, it’s not like I had a ton of time to even get ready! Remember those nursing twinfants?

Yeah….

Thankfully, we were able to actually make it out the door, drop kids off and eat a mostly relaxing lunch.

It would be another few months before we’d actually make it out on a date again. That is another story in itself, but dates out are difficult to manage right now, so we try often to have dates at home….something else I’ll be talking more about in a future post…

Meanwhile, back to present day. Big kids at school, toddlers napping, I put on make-up and non-snotty clothes. I even flat ironed my hair a bit, just because.

Then I grabbed a cup of hot coffee and sat out on the front porch with my computer to get some things accomplished. I had my phone with the baby monitor on it, so I could hear the kiddos if they needed me.

It was only about 45 minutes total, but it was a glorious 45minutes. To myself.

And I think that is important for us mamas. It’s so easy to get taken over by the day in and day out mundane things. Not that yoga pants and t-shirts aren’t fabulous (because they totally are. I love them), but it matters that we try to keep hold of us too. Even if that means changing briefly out of the “mom uniform” and putting on a little lip gloss and drinking hot coffee on the front porch. Or scheduling a time for you to get out of the house, meet a friend for coffee, or simply go for a long walk or a bike ride, just you…do it.

Talk to your spouse about it, about how you feel. Work something out for you to be able to get away here and there, even if just a couple hours, one night a week.

It makes a huge difference, doesn’t it?

I love, love, LOVE my kiddos and my family. But sometimes mama needs a break. And not a break FROM my kids, but a break FOR my kids.

Making sure to take time for mom, helps me be a better mom for my kids. And a better wife to my husband.

So carry on mamas. You’ve got this.

Tell me….how do you take time for yourself? What does that look like for you?

Day Dates…..What You Have When Night Dates Don’t Always Work Well for Your Family

IMG_3791IMG_3788IMG_3789IMG_3823

Sometimes we go on “day dates”, the husband and I.

When the bigs are at school and it’s just the littlest littles with us. Sometimes we’re able to get someone to watch the twinnies, and sometimes they join us.

{The funny thing is, when you have four kiddos, only having two with you seems almost easy…sometimes…}

When you’re not fielding bigger kid questions and special needs situations and arguments and LOUDNESS with all four kiddos in the van all at the same time, well, it can definitely feel a little more relaxing!

And sometimes, when you have four kiddos, one with special needs and the youngest being twin toddlers, finding affordable child care can be difficult. And sometimes night dates just don’t work out as well….especially not in our current season. “Date Nights” can almost be more stressful than helpful and can be more time spent trying to get OUT the door than you actually spend time being out TOGETHER.

So, “day dates” happen. And they’re pretty awesome.

Like this last week, we ended up with an impromptu Day Date, the twinnies were doing great, we had some errands to run, and well, we decided to make it a mini date! Sometimes, that is just the way it works. And sometimes, the way it works, is the way it needs to happen to stay connected.

On our “mini day date”, we had to drop off some books to the library. We used the book drop off that’s on the outside of the library, but my littlest little knows that THERE ARE BOOKS IN THAT BUILDING. She loves books. LOVES them.

She didn’t stop asking “can we go get books?” for the rest of the morning and again after nap time.

{she really really really likes books}

So, after our “day date” of running errands and enjoying some quiet, the bigs arrived home from school. I decided to take the oldest (that also really really likes books and was wanting to go pick some up that had been reserved) and the youngest with me on what turned into a mama and kid date.

Two dates with my people in one day….well, three out of the 5 of them at least.

{don’t worry…the other two will get their mama time too. Promise}

I don’t always have “big black” with me (what I lovingly call my DSLR), but there were some moments I was quick to grab my phone and used it’s handy dandy camera.

{seriously…WHAT did we ever do without those? Oh yeah, we used point and shoots..and had a phone…and…too many other things to juggle and balance…}

The photos above captured two of my kiddos perfectly in their element. My oldest and my youngest. My book lovers.

I loved standing back and just watching them navigate the isles of books. M and I exploring some books for her, then going to find her big brother and her running to him when she found him.

Having four kiddos spanning a fairly wide range in ages can be crazy and difficult and chaotic at times, but days and moments like these bring it home and remind me just how amazing it all really is.

The Coffee Dates I Miss The Most

Coffee.

I love coffee for all it’s amazing a wonderful benefits and how it helps make my bloodshot zombie mom-ness dissipate when my body fully finishes caffeinating.

But there is more to the story of my love of coffee.

My Gramms.
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My Gramms introduced me to coffee. She always had her cup all day, every day full of the dark goodness.

She drank it black. Always. So do I….perhaps because that is how I learned to drink it.

As I got older and was able to enjoy a cup along with her, we would sit at the kitchen table and chat about life as we drank our coffee.

It was our time together. We were the only coffee drinkers in the house.

I grew up, got married, had a family….but, we still almost daily got together for coffee.

It was our thing. Whether taking her to a doctors appointment and grabbing some as a treat at the coffee shop, or her making some in the percolator, knowing I would be coming over soon….we always had our coffee dates to keep us connected.

My Gramms also loved cardinals. She even had a little porcelain one sitting on a side table. I remember it always being on that table growing up.

When my Gramms passed away unexpectedly almost five years ago, I spoke at her memorial about how I would miss those coffee dates….I learned so much about my Gramms through those moments shared over a cup of coffee.

It wasn’t too long after she had died, that I got a new phone. I had a message saved on my old one from her….the last one she ever left, wishing me a Happy New Year. I never wanted that message to fade. Ever. When things were changed over, that message got lost.

I’m pretty sure I cried until I couldn’t any longer. I know it was only a message, but it was my message, to me, from MY GRAMMS only a few weeks before she passed away.

I was devastated.

When we moved a little over a year ago to our current house, I remember seeing a cardinal here and there. It wasn’t until we were well settled that I began to notice them daily.

She has never been to this house, but I know she’d love it. When I cook in my kitchen or bake apple and pumpkin pies for the holidays, I think about how much fun we’d have in this kitchen. We had so many laughs in my last one that was tiny and she, my sister, and I would somehow cram in there and bake pies for our families on what became our annual “Pie Day”.

Sometimes, when there is a (very brief) moment when the big kids have left for school and the twinnies are happily occupied for five seconds, and I am able to sit at the table and drink my (amazingly still) hot coffee….it’s not uncommon to look out the window and see one or two cardinals.

And I smile. And sometimes I cry…because I miss those coffee dates with my Gramms the most.

I sometimes imagine what we would be talking about these days…so much has changed in the past 4, almost 5, years. Three more kids and seemingly a lifetime of change has occurred in that short time. And there are days I want to talk to her so badly about it all….

Over coffee. At the kitchen table.

Over Here In Between All That……Is Me. I Think.

In the current state of the stage of life I am in, I seem to fall somewhere in-between “I really want to look put together” and “I totally do NOT have my crap together, I’m a total mess”…..

Haven’t quite figured out where that somewhere is yet.

Coming out of the last two years of “twinfant turned twinadoe toddler” stage, and actually taken a breath and been able to keep my head above water for more than 3 seconds, I finally feel more like getting into jeans and a nice-ish {read, not covered in snot and goldfish crackers} t-shirt and maybe even some {gasp!} makeup and actually brush my hair out of it’s usual pulled back pony.

Now, let me say, I am a huge fan of my yoga pants. I love them. AND? I actually do workout in them…and then just keep them on, because: twin toddlers. For real.

However, in this wanting to be more put together when leaving the house, I almost feel like I’m TOO dressed by having some lip color and earrings in. And my kids notice…even the littlest littles. And then it makes me more self conscious, like, am I trying too hard here or something?!

Naturally, then I just totally overthink things. Because that is just totally WHAT I DO. It’s a terrible habit.

But then people notice I am wearing non snot covered, non sticky like clothing…..and then I think to myself, “so do I always look like a slob?”….cue that blasted overthinking again.

I want to look put together. But I don’t want to look like I care TOO much. But, I also don’t want to look like I am a completely ridiculous person who totally doesn’t have her crap together.

You get me?

Yeah. I know…I totally don’t have it all together. I’m not really sure I ever will.

Then there are those days that I am totally rocking it, lunches packed, homework signed, clean laundry for all my people, and actually have clean clothes on ME TOO. And it’s awesome.

Then other days, well, opposite of all that.

Balance.

Does this actually exist? Because I’m truly beginning to wonder.

{Le Sigh}

SO, I’m a little in between right now. Perhaps for longer than I wish. Also? Learning to except that sometimes it’s absolutely perfectly OK to not have it all together.

But I still want to.

How about you? You ever feel in-between the put together and not so much so? What do you find helps to balance it all out?