#NaBloPoMo Day 23: Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope that your day has been full of blessings and good food. We have had a good day, except for the fact that I pulled something in my back this morning while eating toast (yes, really) and have been in terrible pain all day. But the turkey was good, the kids were relatively well-behaved and were all in bed before 7:00 pm, so I’m calling it a win.

I have so much to be thankful for. My family and home, obviously, but countless other things that I too often fail to express my gratefulness for. These include:

Friends who continue to support me and bear with me through this really weird and confusing season in my life.

Lattes.

Podcasts, blogs, and social media. Say what you will about social media, but it has allowed me to be exposed to so many different kinds of people and ideas. I am a more critical thinker, smarter, and more empathetic because of who I have met and discovered online.

People who can disagree without taking everything personally.

Jesus, who is so much different than the Jesus in the confined box I knew all these years.

My jobs. I love working and the work that I do. Thankful for the flexibility they give me to have a really good balance between work and home life.

Amazon Prime

Medicaid, the program that enables us financially to keep Grayson at home with us and provides the equipment, therapy, medications and care to ensure he has the best, most comfortable life possible.

My children’s teachers. There is no better feeling than leaving them for hours at a time knowing they are loved, cared for, and learning.

Grayson’s nurses and therapists. These women are in our home nearly every day, and all love G and want the best for them. And they are all just genuinely great human beings.

Anxiety medication

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

 

 

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#NaBloPoMo Day 22: Making Monsters and Memories

I’m not much into the show and tell mommy-blogging anymore, but we had a really fun afternoon with our best neighbor friends, so I wanted to do a post to preserve the memory.

The kids have been out of school all week, which makes for a lot of hours to fill during the day. My sweet friend who lives two doors down is about 3 weeks away from having her third baby, and her other two are close to Charlotte and Nolan’s ages, so I just have so much empathy for the exhaustion she’s going through. We’ve been trying to have the kids play a lot together, but when we let them just “free play” there is always a lot of intense arguing and a lot of tears. So we decided to have an impromptu Monster-themed craft and movie “party” this afternoon to give the kids a fun few hours but with some structure. It was really easy to throw together and they loved it.

First, we had them paint bags their favorite colors and name their monsters.

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Then, they glued on their monsters’ eyes, tongue, teeth, horns and feet.

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Then we filled their monster bags with popcorn, and they settled in to watch Monsters Inc., which none of them had ever seen.

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Their attention spans aren’t very long, so we paused the movie halfway and did another craft.

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They played outside for a few minutes, then (sort of) watched the rest of the movie.

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These four can fight and argue like bitter enemies, but they actually love each other so much. I’m so thankful for their sweet friendship, and that we have such great neighbors.

 

Purity and Politics

Following the news the past few weeks, as it has been for the past year and a half, has been a shocking, sad, and emotional experience. I’ve been especially disappointed by Christian leaders who again and again have traded decency and justice for political gain.

It first became clear last October, when the Access Hollywood tape was released and then-candidate Donald Trump bragged about committing sexual assault. When that wasn’t a deal-breaker to the culture and leaders who shoved messages of purity and modesty down my throat throughout my teenage years, I knew. I knew I’d been lied to. That all their messages about “saving myself” and “not causing anyone to stumble” were just about power and control. All that sexual purity bullshit doesn’t matter when there’s a political office to be won. Never mind that a whole generation of us who bought their purity culture narrative carry around baggage and shame to this day because of those messages.

There’s been an avalanche of secrets finally being told, lies uncovered and men being outed for the horrible things they have done to women. This is a non-partisan problem, but it’s been so disheartening to see the Christian leaders who supposedly have the moral authority in this country bend over backwards to defend Roy Moore, a pedophile who is also running for a seat in the United States Senate. Last week, Franklin Graham tweeted,

“The hypocrisy of Washington has no bounds. So many denouncing Roy Moore when they are guilty of doing much worse than what he has been accused of supposedly doing. Shame on those hypocrites.”

Who is denouncing Roy Moore who is guilty of doing worse than harassing and assaulting teenage girls? Who? 

Back in August, Dr. James Dobson endorsed Roy Moore, saying,

“I often ask God to raise up men and women of faith who will govern the nation with Biblical wisdom. I believe Judge Moore to be such a man for this time.”

Dobson has not withdrawn any support of Moore since the recent allegations. Clearly, to these men, there is nothing worse than having a Democrat in political office, even if that means electing a sexual predator instead, as long as he’s a Republican. It’s disgusting.

I don’t want to care about Franklin Graham and James Dobson. I went to one of Graham’s rallies in college and even then, it creeped me out how his whole schtick was to get the most college students down for the alter call to be “saved”. And I’ve held a grudge against Dobson since I was a kid and one of his books told my mom not to let me play with Barbies (ironically, because of their bodies).

But I do care because these are men, along with men like Jerry Falwell Jr, Eric Metaxas, and Robert Jeffress who continue to push their political agendas in the name of Jesus, and so many people are falling for it. Meanwhile, there are thousands of women across this country saying #metoo (and now #churchtoo, which is even more heartbreaking and infuriating) and looking for support and healing. And when some of them look to the Church, they see these leaders defending the indefensible again and again, instead of standing up for the victims.

This morning, Rachel Held Evans posted a tweet that sums up everything I’ve been feeling for the past 18 months:

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We have to do better than this, and be better than this. Christians and our leaders should be shouting louder than anyone about the sexual assault problem in our country. We should be refusing to support men like Donald Trump and Roy Moore, regardless of their political party platform, judicial appointments, or the economic advantages we may get from their policies.  And we have to teach our daughters about their sexuality in a way that doesn’t shame them or allow it to be used as a means to control them. Starting now, there should be #nomoore, and NO MORE.

#NaBloPoMo Day 20: Toys

We have too many toys. It’s really unbelievable how many we have accumulated in just over 7 years of having children in the house. And it seems no matter how many I purge, the amount of toys never seem to be at a manageable level. Last week, I bagged up probably 80% of the toys in our playroom, just to put away for awhile, or until one of the kids asks for a specific one. So far, they have not.

The thing is, they hardly play with the toys. They like little trinkets, and cardboard boxes, and art supplies. They build with their wooden blocks, and Magnatiles, and wear the dress-up clothes. The rest of the toys just get dumped and scattered, day after day.

With Christmas coming, I’ve been doing some serious thinking about how to give the kids a “magical” Christmas without adding more toys that won’t be played with once the novelty wears off.

This year, I am determined not to get overwhelmed by Christmas. The holiday season is definitely not my favorite, mostly because reality never measures up to expectations. The kids aspect of Christmas is incredibly stressful for me, because it seems like for most of the year, I am constantly trying to minimize/purge/organize and then it all falls apart with a haul of new toys. Of course, the actual opening of presents is exciting, and of course it’s fun for them to have new stuff, but then, the playroom fills up quickly and the purging process starts over again.

I think this year, we are going to try the Want/Need/Wear/Read strategy (I love how Kyla has implemented it for her family). I like the idea of just 4 gifts from Santa/Mom and Dad- it seems manageable on my end and I think the kids will still get to experience the excitement of Christmas morning. I also want to do some experience gifts- both C and N need swimming lessons and Charlotte wants to take karate.

So…talk to me about toys (especially for preschoolers)

  1. I’ve read several times that the less toys kids have in their playroom, the longer they will play. If you find this to be true, how many do you have and what are they?
  2. What are the best toys you have? Our go-tos are blocks/Magnatiles, dress up clothes, and art supplies. What am I missing?
  3. What are some good alternatives to toys that are actual tangible gifts that kids could open on Christmas? I love, love books, but we have a ton, and we get 20+ books at the library every week, so I’m not sure if spending money on a lot of books is what I want to do.

What is your kid gift giving strategy at Christmas? Do you struggle with too many toys that no one plays with? 

 

#NaBloPoMo Day 19: Freewriting

I have tried to write a blog post all day today. In fact, I have 3 posts saved in Drafts that I just can’t finish- I’m uninspired and they weren’t going anywhere. If I’m going to do this for the next 11 days I’m going to need some new ideas! So I’m trying some free writing tonight- setting the timer for 10 minutes and writing about my day, with no editing.

I did my usual Sunday routine this morning- coffee and a bagel at Panera and tuned the world out while I tried to write. Usually Sunday mornings are my best writing time, but not today. Today I was just stuck.

And for the first time in months, I wished I was at church with my family. Maybe it’s because I miss the sense of community, maybe it’s because Charlotte told me she wanted to go to church as a family, or maybe it was the writer’s block. And I don’t know, maybe it’s time to start figuring out this church thing. That’s a really overwhelming idea though.

I went to work all afternoon, and thankfully it was an uneventful day. Lots of happy dogs and owners reunited after travels. I wish I could travel. I haven’t been anywhere in forever. The drive home was dark. So dark. A few weeks ago on my drive home a car just a few hundred feet behind me hit a deer on the road just in front of my neighborhood. He just ran right in front of that car and was killed instantly. It really freaked me out, so I’m really cautious driving down that road now at night. The fall time change is the worst; by 6:00 pm it feels like 10:00 and all I want to do is go to bed. But I came home to giggling, tired but hyper children who still needed to be bathed, read to, and put to bed.

I made the bath, put the squirmy, silly kids in, and the faucet wouldn’t turn off. Ugh. A constant stream of hot water. I got the kids out of the bathtub, half bathed and still soapy.   I called a plumber, dressed Nolan in his jammies, and was pleasantly surprised that Charlotte dressed herself with only one reminder. Progress. Read 3 books, then 2 more because I didn’t want to argue, and the kids went right to sleep. They were obviously really tired. I hope they are tired enough to sleep past 6 am tomorrow, but that’s probably wishful thinking.

Grayson’s nurse was getting him ready for bed when I finished rocking Nolan, and she’d just finished his breathing treatment. Ryan said he’s been retching and congested all day, worse than usual. He hasn’t been sick in so long; please God don’t let him get sick this week.

The plumber got here and fixed the faucet. What a relief- and I don’t have to stay up too late waiting on him like I thought I would. This house is less than two years old and we’ve already had 3 plumbing issues- hmmm. But I’ll take that over the money pit that was our last house- yikes. What a mess that was.

This coming week is a “holiday” for all the kids and Ryan. I put that in quotes because these weeks that aren’t our usual schedule are anything but a holiday. They are just a lot of work. I’m working my normal schedule, but I’m trying to brainstorm other (cheap or free) activities we can all do together when I’m home. I probably should check the weather- is it going to be 50 degrees or 90 degrees this week? I really couldn’t say.

That’s really all I got for today. It was either this or my half-finished rant on our president’s Twitter feed from today. You’re welcome, if you made it this far.

(Also, blog post ideas for the next 11 days would be most appreciated!)

 

 

#NaBloPoMo Day 18: Self Care Rituals

Over the past few weeks, in order to get a handle on my anxiety that was spiraling out of control, I’ve been reading a lot of articles and listening to podcasts on self care. I’m realizing that rituals do a lot for me and help center me and calm me down. These rituals take a lot more time than my usual rush-through-everything-so-I-can-get-to-the-next -thing MO, but have been working because I’m sleeping better and I’m slowly becoming less anxious/angry about the chaos that I can’t control.

Every night, I’ve been taking a bath and doing a skin care routine (with steps!). To be honest, I’d gotten in the habit of taking a quick shower and washing my face but then either forgetting to put any moisturizer or just haphazardly slapping something on my skin but not really paying attention to anything beyond that. Now, I’m trying a new natural face wash, using masks twice a week, toner, and applying Korean snail cream and rose hip oil. My skin does feel so much better and taking the time to actually take care of myself in a physical way feels good too.

I am struggling with morning rituals, because my kids are such early risers and our mornings are fairly chaotic. In a perfect world, I would wake up before the kids, make coffee and breakfast and ease into the morning. My kids do not ease into the morning at all. Nolan never sleeps past 6:30, and Charlotte (who is supposed to stay in her bed until 7:00 but rarely follows that rule) is usually downstairs by then too. They are 100% full speed as soon as their feet hit the floor, and they are hungry. I could wake up at 5:00 but G’s nurse is still here, and both of us moving around would definitely wake Nolan up, whose room is right by the kitchen.

I am trying to remember to make up my bed, and pick clothes up off the floor, which really does help me feel less anxious throughout the day when I go into our room. And having everything ready to go the night before makes the mornings so much smoother as well.

I’ve also started the (bad?) habit of treating myself to Starbucks most mornings after I take the kids to preschool and am on my way to work. No, it’s not necessary, but I’m filing it under treating myself kindly and making the little alone time I have during the day as enjoyable as possible.

I know self-care is so important, but it’s hard to get past the feelings of guilt about taking time just for me. Ugh, why do I do this to myself? I know that in order to be the best mom, friend, wife, etc. I have to take care of myself- so I want to keep committing myself to habits and rituals that make that a reality.

#NaBloPoMo Day 17: Seven Things I Don’t Understand Today

  1. The choice to put this sticker on your car, especially in light of recent current events. You love your guns, I get it. But, really?! Ugh. I don’t understand.

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2. This ad that I see every single time I open Facebook. I crowdsourced a group I’m in because I really had no idea what these were and was wasting far too much time trying to figure it out myself. Apparently they are fleece-lined leggings. But why does it look like the person is sitting on the toilet with them pulled down? I don’t understand.

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3. The latest Starbucks cup controversy. We just really need to be better. I don’t understand.

4. Matt Walsh and Franklin Graham, who continue to have really large, loyal followings, even though they are objectively terrible. I don’t understand.

5. Toddlers. I really don’t understand.

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6. Why is Blake Shelton the Sexiest Man Alive? I agree with Luvvie here that everything is stupid. I don’t understand.

7. Why did I commit to blogging for 30 days straight? Some days, I just don’t understand myself.