Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It Isn't About Supermom

I read an article today titled, "Killing Off Supermom." I was all "sing it sister" and "amen" and then I went upstairs and took a shower and something occurred to me. Something I have been ruminating on for awhile now.

A month or so ago I posted a few articles on Facebook about women not judging each other. A few weeks later my husband and I were talking and he suggested that us ladies are now metajudging. I think that is geek speak for saying that we are now judging each other for judging each other. And he is right.

After reading that article today it all came together for me. It isn't about supermom. So maybe we should just get off her back. If a woman manages to do crafts, hold down a full-time job, keep a spotless house, have a rocking body, wear the trendiest fashion and have well behaved children; who am I to criticize. Why do I feel the need to say, "she must have help" or "she can't possible really be happy." Seriously? Maybe she is totally happy.

The bottom line is that it isn't my business how she does it or even if she does it. And for me this is the big lesson here. The one thing all of the not judging each other articles are missing. Wait for it...supermom isn't making you feel bad. Nope. If you believe supermom (or who you determine to be supermom because I bet she doesn't actually call herself that) is making you feel bad then you need to look in the mirror.

Whomever she is for you, if your supermom friend (or enemy) gained twenty pounds, started dressing her kids in dirty clothes and feeding them Kit-Kats for dinner. If she never made another craft or cleaned another toilet; you would not feel better about yourself.

We have to determine what the standard is for our families and our lives. If Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or other people's blogs make you feel less than then you need to delete your accounts and stop looking at what other people are doing.

This message from Andy Stanley hit home for me. It is the Future Family series. His message titled Common Cause  hit the nail on the head. He said based on verses from the book of James that any conflict, whether with husband, child, friend, co-workers, is always about us. Us! We need to stop and ask, "where am I part of the problem." We need to say, "what do I want that I am not getting." And in doing so we then see that the other person being different will not make us happy.

And this is true for your perceived Supermom. What is your standard for yourself and your family? Isn't that what we want to demonstrate for our children? That who they are and how they feel about themselves should not be determined by another.

So ladies, instead of tearing down Supermom. Instead of metajudging. Maybe we should just do our personal best. And some days that best may be cereal for dinner and snuggling down in front of the television for seven hours with our kids.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Birthday Resolutions

Today is my 36th birthday. As a mom, nothing makes me feel loved like a birthday. These sweet babies are so excited to shower me with love today.

Maybe because my birthday falls at the end of the year, I tend to think about years in terms of age. This is going to be a good year. I physically feel better than I have in years. I mentally feel healthier than I have in years. These two elements are so very important.

Last year was good but hard. I had fun and challenged myself but I also did some tough work. We took our kids to Disney and the ocean for the first time this year. I participated in the Listen To Your Mother show. I became more intentional about my priorities and the people who matter. It was good work this year.

I wanted to share two incredibly superficial goals for the upcoming year. Goals that will require hard work but not the soul wrenching kind of last year.

First, I want to be in the best physical shape of my life. I told you it was superficial! But there is a deeper element. I have young children. I have been blessed with this one body to cherish. It is all I get. And I want to honor the gift by doing my best to take care of my physical self. I want to be strong. Intentionally strong. My goal this year is not only to exercise and eat healthy but to focus on strength and endurance. I want to run and lift and play with my family and I am going to need to be fit to keep up.

Second, I want to be a published author. Listen To Your Mother opened a door to my passion. I love to write. Love it, but because I am chronically insecure I struggle to focus on being a writer. This year, I will focus on writing. And not just as a hobby but as work. How cool would it be if I wasn't just a writer but a published author? Wow! I might just explode with joy. Adding a career that is my passion to this already abundant life! Goodness me, it is a fairytale this life I am living.

My goals this year of course are to love my family well, to love God and be kind and generous. But I do desire a bit of the superficial too. Pursuing strength and passion. Ah, it is going to be a good year.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks - Thanksgiving 2013

Last week I was a grumpy grump dreading the impending holidays. A November of travel and a jet lagged husband left me tired. However, a date night and decision to keep it simple this Christmas improved my mood. Not to mention a few nights of good sleep.

This year I have been counting gifts. First on this blog and then on this handy app. No doubt, I am fortunate. The story of my life reads like a fairytale. And yet, like many, I forget to recognize my abundance.

Why do we always want more even when our bodies and houses overflow with excess? We are a society of The Biggest Loser and Hoarders. My biggest issue this holiday season isn't how to feed my children or insure there is a present on Christmas morning. No, my struggle is in how to keep the holidays from being excessive. I actually have complained about all the work this privileged life brings.

Oh, silly girl. This life is a gift. Whether we are counting our blessings for the free turkey from the local food share, or we are able to buy our children whatever their hearts desire. And my biggest lesson? That even though my children can dream up a list of toys and goodies for Santa to deliver, their heart's desire is really to be together. They are just as happy bundled up and drinking hot chocolate as we walk around the neighborhood with friends looking at holiday lights. It is the time together and simple traditions they will remember.

I am giving thanks. Thanks for babies that adore me. Thanks for a warm home and a full belly. Thanks for a husband's love in spite of myself. Thanks for life. A glorious life of abundance.

Tomorrow as I eat turkey and drink wine and kiss warm babies snuggled in their beds, I will count my gifts: my breaths, my health, my loves, my fairytale.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Soul Friends Reunited

Twenty-seven years ago I hugged my best friend Andrea at the back of a third grade classroom on the last day of school. Her family was moving and she wouldn't return to our school in the fall.

I met Andrea two and a half years earlier in Mrs. Phillips' first grade class. Andrea walked up to me and asked if I wanted to be friends. And we were inseparable from that moment on.

Even after her move in third grade we stayed pen pals. We wrote letters and talked on the phone. I even spent a week at her house the summer after fifth grade.

I have two types of friends. The first are circumstantial friends. The kind you are friends with only because you work together, or have similar hobbies or because your husbands are friends. These are nice people and I enjoy their company. But through the years the friendship usually ends when circumstances change.

The second type of friends are soul friends. I have been very blessed at each stage in my life to have this type of friend. These are the people that you love like family. The people that you can be away from for years and pick up like you just talked yesterday. They are your people. They get you. These are the people you connect with on a deeper level.

This summer my mother-in-law left a voicemail that she worked with someone who knew me. I must confess that I cringed a little until she said her name. My dear friend from early elementary school. The friend I only really lost touch with when I went to college.

A few weeks ago I took a quick visit to my mother-in-law's house and saw Andrea for the first time in over twenty years. And she is most definitely a soul friend. It felt like no time had passed. She was the same ole Andrea. In spite of our separate paths and years without contact. Even though there has been loss and pain and growth, it felt comfortable.

I found my friend again. What a gift! Life is good y'all. As Andrea wrote in an email, "I really believe this is a God thing." Yes! His timing is always right.

Thank you sweet, soul friend for finding me again. Here is wishing you all the gift of a soul friend.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Intentional Christmas

Ah, isn't it interesting how when our heart changes our thoughts change too. This has been a year of heart change. If that sounds all warm and fluffy, believe me it was not. This was a year of soul work. Heart wrenching work. A year of healing and modification. Work I continue each day.

Thank heaven God sent Jesus to love the broken. We don't need to be perfect in order to have faith. Isn't that the best gift? These are the thoughts on my heart as the days grow shorter and the weather colder. How do I celebrate Christmas now that my heart is new?

If you follow this blog, you may remember last year when I talked about Santa and shared my thoughts on his importance in a child's Christmas experience. Well, a year can sure make a difference because I am rethinking Santa and gifts and decorations. Not because I believe any of those things are inherently bad. No, I like Santa and gifts and decorations. But, I don't like when Christmas becomes only about the surface things. When the reason for the celebration becomes about stress to satisfy the demands of meeting the expectations of "doing" Christmas right.

Maybe it is because the first holiday items were in stores right after the back-to-school season or maybe it is anticipated exhaustion from all the work of buying and wrapping and sending and worrying about whether it will all be enough. I just want to check out of the roller coaster this year.

My question is not how to avoid Christmas but instead how to create a celebration about the reason behind it. If you are a Christian that reason should be the gift of Christ to our world. A gift to teach us how we are to love each other. A gift of forgiveness offered and salvation given regardless of the wretchedness of our past.

And if you are not a believer, I still think the holiday season should be about family and generosity and loving each other. What is the point if it is only about new stuff and high calorie food? Why even bother?

I prayerfully ask what is it I should do to lead my family in a celebration about loving Jesus and each other. How do I set the example? What traditions are important? Will it be Santa and parties and new toys? Or will it be slowing down and taking the time to quietly worship? A time to reflect on our family and our dedication to each other? A time to give of ourselves? A time to share in our good fortune?

My goal for this season starting next week with Thanksgiving and moving through December into the new year, my goal is to keep it slow and simple. I want to decide what is important and what is not. And you know what? What is important for me may not be important for you.

My list of important things are food with family, a tree for my children, sharing the story of Christ's birth, giving to the compromised, snuggle time with my three greatest loves and a few presents on Christmas morning for Jack and Grace. Everything else doesn't really matter to me.

I want an intentional Christmas. One where I choose how my time and energy will be spent to honor God, love my family and serve the community. It isn't about a picture with Santa or the perfect gift for an in-law. I am going to try and fight the urge to look pulled together. Instead I want my focus not to be on impressing others but on enjoying the moments.

Will you join me? Can we let go of party favors and perfectly wrapped gifts and instead slow down and spend time with the ones we love? Can we let go of the stress and focus on the true gifts of the season?

I am praying for an intentional Christmas. How about you?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Another Halloween

Wow guys, October kicked my tail! Time is flying. In spite of being crazy busy and overwhelmed, we managed to celebrate Halloween and have a blast.

Christian and I got all Gatsby for an adult only Halloween party. Plus we snuck a date in there since the kids were away for the night.

On Halloween; Jack, Grace and I attended his school party. Then we headed home for pizza and trick-or-treating with Goofy Grandpa.

Have I told you lately how much I love these sweet babies? Even when they are hyped up on sugar, I love seeing the magic in their eyes. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Fall 2013

Gosh time is flying. I can hardly believe another fall arrived. We are keeping busy this season. As usual, life picks back up from the lazy summer rhythm. I love the simple moments in life like picking pumpkins and raking leaves. Here are a few of our moments.

Gracie is waiting on the train to go to the top of Pike's Peak.

Jack waiting for the train to start moving.

Gracie watching the scenery pass on the way down the mountain.

The kids playing trucks with fallen leaves.

My little handy man making a leaf pile.

Picking pumpkins at the local patch.

Jack asking Gracie, "do you want this to be your pumpkin?"

These sillies would not be serious for a picture. 

Pumpkins on the porch and hugs that turn into tumbles. 

A warm home for these chilly fall nights. 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

I don't often post recipes on my blog. Basically, I dislike plagiarism and will not post a recipe unless it was given to me by a friend or family member that I can credit, or if I create a new recipe. 

Last year I decided I wanted to make pumpkin muffins. I tried several recipes and was not satisfied with any of them. After many test batches I finally settled on the perfect pumpkin muffins for my family. These are muffins my children actually eat. I like the healthier ingredients like pumpkin and whole wheat flour balanced with the chocolate chips which entice my children. I also find the mixture of white and whole wheat flour creates a softer texture than just whole wheat flour alone. 

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease a 12 cup muffin pan.

Use two bowls. In the first bowl, mix both types of flour, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In the second bowl, mix eggs, milk, sugar, oil, vanilla and pumpkin. After mixing each thoroughly, combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

Pour the batter into the 12 cup muffin pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes remove the muffins from pan onto a rack to finish cooling. 


I hope your family will enjoy this yummy fall treat. 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

And Then I Missed the Point

Gifts of Joy. I had good intentions. I wanted to demonstrate how gratitude leads to joy. However, I lost the point of the exercise after the first few weeks. Instead of a practice of the heart and mind, it became an assignment. A way to show cute, smiling children and other moments during my week where I happened to remember to snap a photo. 

Actually, I like the idea of sharing pictures from our weeks to show our far away story to our family and friends. But that is a different exercise. An exercise I may continue, but with a different title. 

After a few weeks of posting my gifts, I began to think something about it felt pretentious. You know, like I am trying to point out how grateful I am. Which I am grateful. Really, I am. But I want to share my gratitude in a way that is genuine.

I am about to read Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts" for the second time. The book is the foundation for counting gifts in the first place. It is the reason I need to review the exercise of gift counting. 

The point is not to show only the shiny, happy moments. The ones that look pretty and pulled together. For one thing, that is completely dishonest. My life is much more than pretty moments. My life is messy. It is full of poop and tears and dirty laundry. My days include whining, fighting, boredom and anxiety. I feel like I am failing and making all the wrong decisions so much of the time. Yes, I do have pretty moments. Kisses, smiling babies, sweet morning snuggles, food on the table, a beautiful home, a strong partner in this life. 

It is a crazy sweet mixture. But Voskamp's principal message is the more difficult task of finding joy in what she calls the beautiful ugly. In the moments that do not seem like gifts. Death, sickness, broken hearts, failure, disappointment. It is finding joy by being grateful even when life does not give us what we want. Even when life gives us things we aren't sure we can navigate. These are the moments I must also share. 

It isn't just pointing out the rainbow. It is being grateful for the storm even if the rainbow never arrives. It is being grateful for this life; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Because let's face it, a lot of this life is ugly. It is easy to count the bad things and be discontent. It takes a much more determined soul to see the gifts in all life's moments and in turn be joyful. To live with joy regardless of circumstance. Joy in tears. Joy in pain. Joy in triumph. Joy in the mundane. Joy because we are given this day. 

I missed the point. I need to share my reality and then demonstrate the work of determined joy. Because whether easy or hard, this life is a gift. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Gifts of Joy Week 7

Here is something about myself that I don't share. As a matter of fact, I have spent most of my life refusing to admit this. I am extremely sensitive. As I shared yesterday, this week it has been hard for me to feel joyful.

Seeing other people struggle always impacts me. Ask my mom, when she or my brother were treated poorly while I was growing up, it bothered me way more than it bothered them. I worry about the sick and the poor. It makes my heart heavy when I see pain impacting those around me. 

Also, I am extremely sensitive to what other people say to and about me. I don't deal with rejection or criticism well. Although, I always act like I can take anything and that stuff just rolls off my back. It doesn't. It goes straight to my heart. And there it sits often for years. 

The point is, I am not as tough as many people seem to think I am. I wear my heart on my sleeve. Whether I am mourning someone else's loss or dwelling in my own, I struggle to not be emotionally overwhelmed. I think this is why I write. It is a release. 

I tell you all of that to say. I love my life. I am more fortunate than I ever imagined possible. When I say I am struggling, it is just my sensitive nature that I am still too proud to own, taking over. 

Here are the joys I experienced last week. 

66. Gracie walking around with her purse and baby because she wants to be like her mommy.

67. These kiddos having fun inside on a rainy day.

68. This retention area near our neighborhood holding all the water that didn't go in our basement.

69. Sun peeking through the clouds after days of rain.

70. Jack's little spirit. He can have fun anywhere. Even in his pajamas in the rain.

71. The love I see between these two. They are thick as thieves.

72. Grace joining in on the rainy day fun.
73. A rainbow after days of flooding. His reminder that we are never alone.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I See the Gifts but I Can't Find the Joy

I haven't been able to share my joys this week. Floods, shootings, suffering, sickness. I just can't see the joy. My cup is overflowing with gratitude. Others are shoveling water out of their homes, some are mourning the dead, people everywhere are sick, children are starving in this world on our watch. My heart is heavy. But, I haven't lost my grateful heart. My home is dry, my children are healthy, my pantry is full, water runs freely from my tap, a hardworking man loves me dearly. I see all of these things and so many more.

I see my abundance. I have no real problems. And yet, I can't equate the enormous privilege permeating my life with joy. I can't reconcile why I am so lucky.

And yet, my selfish heart also feels tired and overwhelmed with mothering small children. This morning, I got on my knees on our staircase landing and prayed, face to the floor, while my four year old threw a tantrum because he didn't get to pick which half of our last Pop-Tart he would eat. And yes, my sweet Boulder friends, I fed my children Pop-Tarts for breakfast instead of free-range organic eggs.

As my child screamed in the background I said to God, "I am too weak for this job. Show me what to do. My heart is rotten this morning. I am too tired. I need a full night's sleep. I need a minute to recharge. I am grumpy and mad. I know a break is nowhere in sight God, but would you please change my heart and my perspective. I need to be a better wife and mother than I am being in this moment. It is all too much for me today. I need your grace to take over."

Prayer is good y'all. It isn't a magic potion but it does offer peace. A few hours after I got off my knees, I happened upon this blog. Wisdom about suffering from a Christian point of view; exactly what I needed.

My heart is still feeling heavy. I still desperately want to break. But I can see how joy and gratitude are related again. It isn't in an easy life that we find joy. It is in the simple things. Like air to breath. It is in redemption, in the perseverance to keep walking when we just want to lay down, and it is in the humility and grace to hit our knees when all other options fail.

We are not in this alone. God is always there.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gifts of Joy Weeks 5 & 6

The past few weeks have been busy. I am continuing to count my joyful moments. Here are my joys from the last few weeks.

50. A much needed date night with this goofy guy.

51. Watching Jack excitedly show Christian his school work for the day.

52. A margarita on the front porch on a tired Friday afternoon.

53. A sweet girl who loves books and will rope anyone she can find into reading one with her. 

54. Early morning wake-up snuggles at the mountain cabin.

55. Gracie playing doll house on our front porch.

56. A brother willing to fly out for a week to spend time with our family.

57. Exploring nature with my Grace.

58. A neighborhood with an abundance of parks (can't you tell Jack loved that I put him in the baby swing?).

59. Play time with Uncle Jim.

60. An evening hanging out minus kiddos with Jim and Sara. 

61. Living in beautiful Colorado.

62. The smiles and joy these two bring everyday.

63. Relaxed moments throwing stones.

64. The excitement of doing new things. 

65. Embracing my children as they are even if it goes against the current anti-princess movement. Be what you are sweet babies. (And yes, sometimes Jack wears Snow White and Grace wears Captain America.)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Gifts of Joy - Week 4

38. A full week with my mom.

39. Watching my mom and Jack work on preschool homework.
40. Little celebrations like back to school cupcakes.

41. Morning snuggles with Nanny.

42. Our children loving each other. "I missed you Jack," Grace.

43. Shoes on the wrong feet making me smile.

44. Everyday, being attacked by precious little hands.

45. Double rainbows from an evening shower.

46. After dinner ice cream treats. 

47. Plentiful clean water to bathe my children.

48. Mother - daughter love.

49. Surprise dinner from a sweet neighbor.