Category Archives: life lessons

shhh?!?!

“there are all kinds in God’s pocket.”  that’s what my mom always used to say.  i find it to be one of the most true statements about having children.  most people, when they start trying to get pregnant, dream about having the perfect child.  one who is bright, well mannered, good looking and kind.  i admit that i am one of those people.

when i first got pregnant in 2006, i had such grand ideas of what motherhood was going to be like.  i would have an easy pregnancy, give birth naturally, and have a beautiful baby . . . girl, hopefully.  two of these things came true.  (i ended up getting the epidural in conjunction with my first c-section.)  i was so excited to have a little girl . . . one that i could dress up in cute clothes and paint nails with . . . one that would have dance recitals and tea parties that i could attend.  it was going to be magical but it didn’t exactly happen for me.

God had a different plan for her . . . and me.

“there are all kinds in God’s pocket.”  some that are princesses and some that are tomboys.  some that love doll babies and some that love blocks.  some that are quiet and demure and some that are loud and bold.  He always has the perfect one picked specifically for you, though it sometimes is hard to accept.

there is so much to my eldest, lily.  confident.  creative.  bold.  and extremely loud.  the latter being overwhelming at times.  i swear that lily has no concept of volume control.  even around her sleeping baby sister she is so. darn. loud.  i find myself saying “shhhh” more than anything else these days which annoys me to no end.  why can’t she just be quiet?  why must she always talk so loud when we’re in the same room or car?  why God, when you created her did you make her this way?

a few months ago i sat with my friend, andrea, at a local coffee shop discussing this very thing.  i was lamenting to her about how hard my life was with lily at times.  i was very pregnant and weary from so many life changes that were happening all at the same time.  (a new house, a new baby, etc.)  i was struggling to handle her at home and she was struggling to sit still and be focused at school.  it seemed like nothing was going well and that there was no end in sight.  lily was so different from every other little girl that i knew both at church and in her class at school.  i was really having a hard time accepting and cherishing who she was.

after talking about her for some time andrea said something powerful to me that i will never forget.  she told me that God made lily exactly as He needed her to be to bring glory to Him.  w o w.  i couldn’t believe that i had never thought of it that way before.  i mean, i knew that God doesn’t make mistakes but i hadn’t been able to look at the big picture until that point.  andrea continued to tell me that God gives us traits because we are going to need them in the future.  she said that there was a bigger reason that lily was such a loud girl than i could currently see or understand.  lily was given boldness and fearlessness because God knows that in the future He will use girls like her to better His kingdom.  she told me that we have no idea what lily will become but that she very well could use her loudness to reach people for Him.

who knows what she will do!  she is bold enough to lead an army.  she is tough enough to be a corrections officer.  she is confident enough to go out into the mission field.  and loud enough to preach to the masses about her God!

as i sit here writing this the day is drawing to a close.  she is outside happily playing with her brother and her doggies . . . and is screaming her head off.  i am resisting the urge to yell for her to quiet down for what seems like the hundredth time today, and instead find myself praying. i am asking God for patience for the moment while at the same time i am praying that the end result will be her using this voice for His glory.  i pray that this extremely loud little girl continues to fearlessly love.  that she might use her voice to proclaim the good news to all who she encounters and to speak against evil.

Shout for joy, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem!  –  Zephaniah 3:14

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out of the mouths of babes . . .

today while i was asking Siri for help on my iphone . . .

mom:  how many ounces are in a pound?

Siri:  I’m sorry but I am unable to answer right now.  Please try again later.

mom:  how many ounces are in 1 pound?

Siri:  Unfortunately, I can’t help right now.  I’m sorry.  (or something like that!)

lily:  mom, since she doesn’t want to answer you, maybe you should make your voice sound like someone else!

mom:  (stifling laughter) good idea, lil.

mom:  (in an exaggerated high pitched voice)  how many ounces are in a pound?

Siri:  1 pound equals 16 ounces.

good job at making my kid look smarter than me, Siri!

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a picture’s worth a thousand words

when i found out that i was pregnant with posy i told tom that i absolutely wanted professional photos taken of her and our family.  i knew that down the road she was bound to get screwed over for things that her older siblings had . . . especially lily, our first. like videos made of their first year of life and pretty much every milestone  documented so as to never forget it!  so knowing that she will most likely get none of that i decided to try and even the playing field from the beginning.  i told tom that these photos were the only thing that i really wanted and that i didn’t care how much they cost.  (ok, so i admit that i was having a major pity party for myself since i was pregnant . . . again.  sigh.)

fast forward to december.  sweet miss p was finally here and it was time for the photoshoot!  i was very excited but honestly had no real expectations since we would be dealing with children.  i’m so glad that was the case since gus refused to cooperate except for one picture.

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in all of the others this is what we got out of him . . .

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i. love. this. picture.  there is so much that was going on that you would never know just by looking at it . . . that is except for gus and his sourpuss face!  you’ve got to give him credit for his honesty.  but to anyone looking at this picture it would seem that we are just a happy family that is loving on our new baby/sister.  that much is definitely true . . . however what you don’t see is that tom and i were in the middle of a huge argument and didn’t even want to be in the same room together, let alone embrace each other.  what you also don’t see is that i’m holding a handful of posy’s poop that she had just done in my hand!  yes, i said poop!  and for any parents that read this you will know how grody that seedy, drippy, yellowish green baby poop can be!  we decided to keep going though since everyone was already in position and because posy was peacefully sleeping.  the only person who isn’t having a problem in this picture is sweet lily.  for once, she was giving us 100% cooperation and was so agreeable.  bless her heart!

even though gus isn’t smiling, this one is making it onto our wall of family pictures.  it will be a good reminder of the experience and how you sometimes just have to smile through the crap in life . . . literally.

anyway, i have really enjoyed the pictures that our photographer took.  they are beautiful and truly capture how smitten we are with posy already.

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we are so incredibly lucky to have such a sweet and peaceful baby.  God totally knew that we needed her in our lives and we can’t imagine life now without her. we are so so thankful!

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holding out for a hero!

this morning at 6:45 am my alarm went off and this is was my train of thought

yawn . . . i’m tired . . . i could sleep for another 6 hours . . . i should get out of bed . . . i need to make lunch and breakfast for lily . . . lily . . . i hope she has a good day . . . oh crap, it’s spirit week at her school . . . what was she supposed to dress like again? . . . oh, yeah her “hero” . . . oh CRAP!  now i have to come up with another costume! . . . well i guess she can just be willy wonka or an astronaut again . . .

then i hauled my tired self out of bed and ran downstairs to get things going.

when lily came down for breakfast i reminded her that this is spirit week and that today she is to dress like her favorite hero.  take it, Bonnie Tyler!

mom:  lils, you can either be . . . willy wonka, bert (from mary poppins), mary poppins, an astronaut, or an army guy, since these are the costumes we already have.

lily:  well, i don’t really want to be any of those.

mom:  well then you don’t have to participate because i don’t have time to get another costume together!

lily:  (looking defeated)  well, what i really wanted to be is God.

leave it to my daughter to come up with the perfect hero that not only doesn’t have a costume, but one that layers on the guilt if i don’t deliver!  i didn’t want to disappoint her though, and since God really is the greatest hero of all, i quickly set my mind to figuring out what i could put together to represent Him.  i did ask lily’s input and she said that she wanted a beard . . . actually, this is what she really said . . .

lily:  mom, i want to have a brown beard.  i mean, i kind of already have a beard i think . . . it’s right here under my chin (moves her finger under her chin).  at least i think that i do . . . it could just be a scratch!

brown beard?  check.  i hope i didn’t throw out my old mascara!

anyway, within a few minutes i realized that this would be easier than i thought.  i mean, given that it’s God, and since we don’t really know what He looks like, i can pretty much throw together whatever i want!  so i grabbed a t-shirt that she had splattered  with multiple colors, my great aunt gene’s old white pool cover up, and gus’ gold pirate sash, slapped on a mascara beard . . . and voilà . . . GOD!

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i love my girl.  though i admit that i sometimes struggle because she has such a strong personality and because she is so different from what society says a girl should be (all sparkles and princessed out) . . . she is a unique being and is exactly the way that He created her to be.  what an honor it is to be her mom and that He handpicked her especially for me!  while helping her get dressed i had the opportunity to talk with her about why God is her hero.  she told me that it’s because he made everything.  it sounds so simple of an answer but it is so powerful.  He did make everything!  from the world . . . to each person in it . . . every animal . . . every flower . . . etc etc etc.  He is perfection!  i think Bonnie was right,  we should all be holding out for the One true hero!

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i WILL be in the picture!

i know this article has gone viral . . . but if you haven’t read “The Mom Stays in the Picture”,  do yourself a favor and read it now.

i LOVE this article.  i know that i often don’t feel worthy of having my picture taken when i’m feeling less than “beautiful”.  however, after reading this article i am absolutely convicted of how i should and will proceed going further.

this summer, when lily learned to ride her bike without training wheels, i couldn’t wait to break out the camera and capture the momentous occasion.  i wanted to have this milestone documented to show her in the future.  who wouldn’t want to see a picture of themselves as a child,  unsteadily pedaling as their daddy runs beside them?  this is what i believe every child should have . . . only did you notice i said daddy and not mommy?  i don’t know how it is in your house, but in ours i am the photographer.  this isn’t to say that my husband refuses to use the camera.  it’s just that i tend to be a tad bit neurotic when it comes to documenting memories and milestones.  rarely do i ask to be in the photo myself.  this is mostly because i’m not so thrilled with how i look and because i don’t want to have my less than stellar body recorded for time and all eternity in these important moments.  however, on this day i do remember asking tom to take a few pictures of me with lily.  admittedly, i was hoping that i might get a good enough photo to post on my facebook page!  when i loaded the photos on my computer that evening, i was saddened by how i looked, and quickly went about deleting all but two of the pictures . . . only one of them being facebook worthy.

this is the photo i chose to post.

 

while the photo above shows a mom running beside her daughter, beaming with pride at what she has just accomplished, deep down i know that this is how i wanted lily  (and the facebook world) to see this moment.  in my heart i knew that i was putting on a show for the camera.  yes, i was genuinely happy for what lily was doing, but i was also genuinely sucking in my stomach as hard as i could so the camera wouldn’t see my flab!  i was trying like hell to make running beside her look as effortless as possible, when in reality, i was sweating profusely and completely out of breath!

at the end of the article, they ask you to submit a picture of yourself with your kids.  immediately, i thought of the “good” picture.  but the more i thought about it, the more i realized that i need to break myself of the goal of seeming perfect . . . so i submitted the following picture instead.

 

here i am at a terrible angle  . . . no makeup . . . not sucking in my flabby tummy . . . and sporting my pajama jeans!  as crappy as i look in this moment, i’ve come to appreciate this picture for what it is.  this is who i really am . . .  a mom, running after her child and ready to catch her if she falls.  yes,  i need to be in the picture so that lily can see what true motherhood is really like.  it’s not a show for your kids or anyone else, but a real life!   i’m going to start handing over the camera  more often so that i can be included in the memories too,  with or without full hair and makeup!

 

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milestones and missions to mars

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sigh.  lily is now officially a kindergartner.  where did the time go?  i know that everyone says how fast it goes, but you never really believe it until you’ve experienced it for yourself.  i once heard someone say that life is like a toilet paper roll.  at the beginning it seems like it will go on forever . . . but soon you realize that the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.  i’m no where near even the mid-way point, but already i’m wanting it to slow down!

anyway, she is wrapping up her second week of school and is loving each and every day.  i knew that she would.  she was ready.  admittedly, i was ready too.  lily is a smart girl and i knew that she would flourish under instruction from a dedicated teacher.  i couldn’t be happier with our choice of school too.  tom mentioned to me the other day how impressed he was walking around the halls and seeing signs on the doors reminding boys to hold the door for the girls.  this school will not only academically challenge my kids, but also build their character while emphasizing a relationship with the Lord.  i couldn’t ask for more.

one thing i am noticing though is just how stressful parenting a school-age child can be.  i knew there would be some work involved for me.  i wasn’t ignorant and thinking i’d have to do nothing.  however, i guess i wasn’t ready for it to hit me all so quickly!  nightly homework (ok, so they’re only handwriting and coloring pages, but getting her to sit and do them is a bit of a chore!), weekly memory verses, and then all of the extras too.  these things add up!  for example,  i was notified last weekend that today (thursday) would be “career day” for the kindergarten class.  each student was asked to come dressed as what they want to be when they grow up.  simple, right?  sure, if you are a parent of a little girl who wants to be a ballerina or a princess.  (both of which were in abundance, or so i’ve been told by my girl)  not my lily though.  no.  she wants to be an astronaut!  so of course, i start to panic about my limited costume choices.  i quickly put the word out on facebook, but couldn’t find anyone that had a spacesuit i could borrow.  luckily, a friend did have a helmet, so i lucked out there.  anyway, i immediately went into hyperdrive figuring out what i was going to do.  thankfully, my bestie suggested finding a buzz lightyear costume.  those should be in abundance since he’s popular and i basically live in disney’s backyard!

huzzah!  i did find one and in her size!!  now to alter it to look like a real astronaut instead of a pixar cartoon.  well, after a trip to joann’s fabric and staples, i was ready to take on the challenge.  after a failed attempt at painting it (who knew you can’t easily paint on pleather?) and shedding some tears about how it wasn’t looking “right”, i did finally finish.

here is the before and after . . .

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overall, i learned some things during this process . . . like how great duck tape is . . . expensive, but worth every penny in a pinch.  also that sometimes stickers work just fine, not everything needs to be sewn on to make it look “authentic”.  finally, and most importantly, if your child is pleased with the end result, leave it be!  it’s for them to wear anyway, not for you.  even if that means you have to push the perfectionist feelings way down deep . . . don’t lose sight of what’s really important . . . like your daughter happily saluting you as she goes off on her mission to mars!  

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passing on the past

do you remember your favorite childhood toy?  many people have a teddybear, dolly, or even an action figure that they cherish from when they were young.  even though i didn’t really have one of these, i did have my dollhouse.

though i have only a few real memories of my earliest years, i remember the day that i saw it for the first time . . . my mom, guiding me into my room . . . my hands blocking my eyes so not to ruin the surprise . . . my grandma and grandpa standing off to the side, eagerly awaiting the big unveiling . . . my dad snapping pictures.  it was my fourth birthday and i was about to see one of the most treasured presents i will ever receive in my life.

i had no way of knowing, at that time, just how significant that gift was . . .  not just to me, but to others in the room.  my grandpa and grandma had spent many long hours lovingly creating this dollhouse for their only granddaughter.  for my grandpa, it was the culmination of years spent making things out of wood.  this was to be his final project, as he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor and his time of being able to work on projects like this was quickly slipping away.  i was only four years old and still quite young for such a “big girl” gift.  however, it was important for my grandpa to do this (with the help of my grandma) before it was too late.  he wanted this memory for me.  i didn’t know it then, but he was teaching me a valuable lesson in how to be a grandparent . . . one i hope to put to practice someday myself . . . to love unconditionally, to give of your time and talent, and to do everything in your power to make memories that will last a lifetime.

after opening my eyes and seeing this beautiful dollhouse that was now all mine, i quickly began opening up present after present which contained pieces of furniture and family members to fill up my new house.  it was wonderful!  as a parent, i can now understand how it is to witness the delight of your own child, and i am sure that my parents saw that in me.

i played with my dollhouse for years and years.  the *festrunk family that lived there was so very real to me.  it was (and still is) one of my most cherished possessions and i did everything in my power to keep it safe.  in fact, i was so paranoid of a tornado hitting our house and destroying it, that every time we had a bad storm i would have my dad take it to the basement for safe keeping.  a little bit dramatic, i know!  i knew that if i ever had a daughter, that this beautiful gift would one day be hers, and hopefully, she would love it as much as i had.

fast forward to september, 2006.  tom and i are expecting our first child and are awaiting the confirmation of either a jack or a lily at the ultrasound appointment.  when i heard that i was having a little girl i immediately had visions of pigtails and princesses, of dance recitals and doll babies.  needless to say, if you’ve read this blog at all, you know that lily is not your typical “girl”.  as the years have gone on, i have known that the dollhouse was waiting for it’s new owner, but would she even want it?  from playing with one at the museum center, i thought there was a chance she might, but i wasn’t sure.  her preferences and attitudes towards things change like the wind.

i decided now was as good a time as ever to give her this gift.

a few weeks ago, i got to cleaning.  i had read online of what not to do in cleaning an old dollhouse and how to bring it back to life.  i laundered curtains . . . i vacuumed . . . i did windows . . . and i dusted everything in sight!  then it was time to move on to the furnishings.  as i opened each box and unwrapped each piece it was like seeing old friends.  there was the piano that played “The Way We Were”  when you lift the lid . . . the tiny blue plates with white speckles . . . the baby basinett . . . and “buddy” the dog, who only had three legs.  (my dad having cut one off so he could be like our own three-legged family pet of the same name.)

as much as i enjoyed the walk down memory lane, i was also left with a few questions too.  like where was the rest of the grandpa’s body?  (i had only found his head rolling around in the bottom of the box.  disturbing!)   also, what happened to the Christmas tree?  i guess i’ll never know!

 

i admit that i cried through much of this process.  not just about the memories of my childhood that is now long gone, but because i was missing my grandparents and wishing they were still here to talk with during this time.  now that i am older, i can appreciate the time and talent that went into it’s design.  as i hand-washed each curtain, i thought about my grandma, sitting at her sewing table and carefully adding trims and stitching to make each panel detailed.  and i thought about my grandpa and the hands that wrote the word “stairs” which i uncovered underneath the wobbly staircase that i removed and re-glued into place.  again, it was a beautiful reminder of love and loss.

finally, i was finished.  i had decided some time ago, that the dollhouse needed a safe place where lily could play and would be out of reach of little fat gus fingers.  the best place was at my mom and dad’s house, and it will remain there until our house in florida is built and we can move it to the playroom.  i called my mom, who was thrilled to get to see the finished product, and told her i would be over to set it up after lily was in bed.  my mom and i had the best time playing . . . er . . . setting it up.  i had to keep begging her not to cry because i knew once i started it would be hard for me to stop.  it was really a therapeutic experience and a whole lot of fun!

when i left my mom’s house that evening, i prayed to the Lord for how the next day would be.  like many people, i often have unrealistic expectations of how i think things should go.  in fact, i’m a lot like Clark Griswold, setting “standards that no family activity can live up to.”  in a perfect, Norman Rockwell world, lily would run to the dollhouse squealing and telling me how much she loved it and how it was the best thing she’d ever seen, etc. etc.  however, i know my little girl and how things can be hit or miss with her.  the only thing i could do was pray.  i asked God to soften her heart . . . to check her attitude and to help her enjoy things as a little girl should, instead of trying to act so “adult” and reject things because they aren’t “boy” enough.  i prayed for her to enjoy playing with it as i had, but also for myself that i wouldn’t get my feelings hurt should she not be as excited as i hoped.

i had wanted to recreate the surprise for lily that i had experienced myself, so tom and my parents were all there to watch the surprise unfold.  finally, the moment came and she and i walked into the room, just as i had so many years earlier . . . her little hands protecting her eyes from peeking and ruining the surprise . . . and my dad snapping pictures like he was a member of the paparazzi!

as you will see from the video . . . she LOVED it and this made for one happy mama!

i am so thankful that the surprise went as well as it did.  it made for a very happy day for all of us.  i absolutely praise God for such a positive experience.    lily has told me many times already how much she loves it, and i know this to be true since she’s played with it non-stop.  she’s already had the family going on a picnic, taking naps, and even using the potty!  we told lily that her nana and i would take her to hobby lobby so she could get a few new pieces for the house, but she told me she loves it just as it is.  she didn’t even want to change the name of the family either!

i’d like to think that my grandparents were looking down in that moment and that they were rejoicing in seeing such happiness on the face of their great-granddaughter.  like when i received it myself, i know that i will cherish this day forever.

(* in case you didn’t know, the family got it’s name from those “two wild and crazy guys” on saturday night live.  thanks a lot, dad!)

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