Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Best of COF--Preserving Memories

Reader Response

Heather asked, "What are some good ideas for saving memories, especially during your child’s younger years?"
The readers responded!

One thing my mother did when we were younger that is fun to look back on is our baby books. For one of my brothers she used a baby book from the store and then for my other brother and I she used a regular photo album and included photos, cards, clippings of hair etc. along with monthly updates on what we were doing and saying. Stories about things we did with our siblings, friends or family were especially fun to go back and read.
I would write things on a calendar that I kept in their room, so every time I was either changing their diaper, putting them to bed, nursing them, or whatever, I would remember to write down what happened that day.Write down ordinary things and every-day happenings that you think you'll NEVER forget because you WILL forget them!! (speaking from experience...20 years later) Take pictures! Buy a Date-Back Camera (old school) or use the date setting on your digital camera. You will love it in later years when you can't remember the date! And of course....scrapbook those pictures and get the journaling/writing done NOW! Because, once WILL forget!

I personally love scrapbooks, because they are like a journal with pictures. Plus, it allows you to be creative and incorporate small mementos. So for those of you with babies, you could add locks of hair, hospital bracelets, etc.

Make a memory box for each child that you have. I have heard of some people saving Sunday school papers, papers from school, coloring pictures and etc.. Also, make sure to scrapbook every picture and if you aren't a scrapbooker, then just put them in an album. Your child will really appreciate it when they get older.

Take pictures!!!! Lots of pictures!!!!!!!!!!!! Share stories about your children to others and that way you will better retain them.

Establish a "tradition" in your home. It can be something as small as a favorite dessert on special occasions or a meal that signifies this is as set apart. During grade school, we established a "special night" after a semester of school was completed. Even though Mason is now 14 years old, we still chuckle over his dinner menu for special nights. It was jerky, Ramen Soup, Jello, and carrot sticks. Even though we didn't do this, I wish I would have taken a picture of them cooking and serving the food, even a pic of the plate. Then set apart a photo box, label it "special nights" and put the pics in. If this tradition started in Preschool-High School it would be a wonderful photo display of them growing up over the years.
My son has now graduated to Crab Legs, Apple Nut Salad, and Garlic Bread!

A great way to keep memories is by writing daily in a journal. You can simply write about what happened that day. It doesn't have to be about monumental events, but about the little things. Later on, when you look back, you'll be glad you captured the everyday things that made that time in your life special.
When I was little, my mom used to take a picture of
the same activity every year. Like apple picking, a special time with our grandpa, or with our dad in the garage and then she would cut it into a circle, glue it onto the top of the inside of a canning jar lid and glue onto a long thick ribbon and hang them in the hallway. It was fun to see each year how we had grown. That was her "cheap" way of displaying some of our family pictures!
I’ve heard that you should take a 30 second video of your baby each week on the video camera so that at the end of the first year, you have a 25 min. video of their growth and development. A shorter video will be more likely to be watched down through the years than if you film countless hours of footage. You could continue this practice all through childhood.

I'm definitely not shy on taking pictures! I take rolls and rolls of film as well as video!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hope for Weary Mamas--Little Things That Help

These brownies sure are a yummy treat for one of "those days"

A lavendar mineral bath is wonderfully soothing after chasing littles all day!

When we are weary, we have to stop and prayerfully consider how we might combat our weariness. It seems obvious that because of various factors I've mentioned (rigors of caring for small kids, pregnancy, illness, hormones, spiritual attack, mini-trials, big trials, responsibilities, etc.) most moms struggle with weariness at least some of the time, if not often. What are some simple and practical things we can do to find relief from mommy exhaustion? Here is my list of things I either CURRENTLY do or NEED to start doing. I hope you will share your list too in the comments section:

Spiritual Weariness

When I'm Feeling Deeply Discouraged

Pray and tell God I can't do it in my own strength

Talk to myself!!! (See last couple of posts in this series)

Listen to SEEDS CDs (Scripture set to upbeat music) or praise and worship music

Be thankful! Remind myself of all the blessings I have!

Read meaty books that spur me on to faith and good works

Listen to pastors/online programs that uplift, encourage, and exhort

Listen to my chapters for reading through the Bible in a year while I sweep or fold laundry

Ask a friend to pray for me

Speak out against the forces of evil and bind them in Jesus' name
Regular date nights whether at home or on the town

Physical Weariness

Take a hot bath

Get more rest if possible

Take vitamins daily

Drink plenty of fluids

Drink Green Tea

Eat healthy foods instead of junk

Nap when I'm especially exhausted

Go to bed early

Ask hubby for a massage

Skip early rising for the day and go back to bed after Justus eats at 6:30 a.m.

Scale back my schedule and stay home more and make easy suppers from the freezer during times of sickness or PMS

Do neck and spinal exercises 1-3 times a day to maintain pain-free neck


Instead of crying, choose to laugh when thing after thing seems to hit all at once

Take things in stride and recognize that most of it doesn't matter in light of eternity

Watch America's Funniest Home Videos on Youtube for some comic relief at the end of a long day

Ask for help--Let my hubby know I need a hug, his prayers, and his help. I'm bad about asking sometimes and men don't usually know what we want

Faith in the Lord. God will meet our needs. He has proven Himself faithful in the past and He will care for this need, whether trivial or expensive, frightening or simply annoying.
Do what you can do and save the rest for tomorrow.

Keep in mind that the list above doesn't include tips for handling weariness caused by ME! One of the biggest ways we can become weary is by taking on too much, being poor stewards of our time or money or both, lack of planning, investing in too many people, not keeping our priorities straight, not being able to say no, not being disciplined, etc. I've addressed some of these issues in my book review post on the book "Shopping for Time."
Do you see how proactive one must be to overcome weariness as a mom? If I don't make a plan, don't take care of myself, and don't prioritize my life, I will likely end up overwhelmed every single day with all that needs to be done as a mom. Looking over my list I realized that I have to really be intentional every day to combat the weariness that so easily can come.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Hope for Weary Mamas--My Dream Job

Back when we were a new family of 3!

I found the results of my recent poll so interesting! Of the moms who took the poll, 24/25 are weary at least sometimes, with more than half of them saying they are weary from 3-7 days a week! This is a subject that truly hits home with mamas!!!

One of my friends recently shared with me on the phone that when she was feeling weary as a mom, her husband said, "But I thought this is what you wanted to do, more than anything else?" It made her stop and think and be thankful. She shared this with me to encourage me to remember those dreams and to recognize that I am fulfilling them. Really, there is nothing I want to do more! I've wanted to be a mom since I was 3 years old and spent countless years taking care of my dollies and babysitting little kids all through my teens. And while being a mom is much harder than I'd ever imagined some days, I wouldn't trade it for anything else! Oh, there are days when an outside job sounds so much easier than scrubbing up poop everywhere or listening to a screaming baby or a whiny toddler. There are days when the "grass looks greener" at someone else's house or in their situation. But if I stop to consider how I felt before I had children and how much I longed for them, and the joy I felt when I held each new one in my arms, it helps me to be thankful and find joy in the weariness.

I wrote a post a couple of days ago on Talking to yourself instead of listening to yourself. Reminding yourself that you are in your dream job and affirming the blessing and reward that children truly are is a form of talking to yourself. Recently I received by mail another letter from prison (photocopied by an aunt who sends them out to folks) from Hannah Overton. Her pic is on my sidebar. Whenever I think of her and write to her and pray for her I am reminded what a blessing and a priviledge it is to be with my children as she is forcibly separated from her 5 little ones and has been for the last two years, convicted of a crime she didn't commit. I've mentioned on my blog before that her story has often helped me to rejoice, even in hard times, because I know that what she is going through is infinitely harder. Her faith is incredible. I highly recommend you visit her site and read her letters and pray for her quick release.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hope for Weary Mamas---Talking to Yourself

I've been touching on the subject of weariness as a mama recently and I'd like to share some thoughts from an excellent sermon. As a mom, there is the sheer physical weariness of endless chores. As a woman there can be the bodily weariness of PMS, illness, pregnancy, or lack of sleep. As a Christian in the fight against sin, there is the weariness that comes from our flesh, the enemy, or the hostile world we live in. Often, our physical weariness leads us into feeling spiritually or emotionally weary or our downcast spirit causes us to feel physically ill, intertwining the two.

I'm in the midst of reading the excellent book, "When I Don't Desire God---How to Fight for Joy" by John Piper. Though I've had it around for a while and had started it, I haven't really gotten well into it until now. And right now is the perfect time! Don't you love when God does that? At first I thought, "Well, I really do desire God and to be close to Him. My weariness seems physical because spiritually, I don't feel abandoned by God, angry with Him, or like my heart has grown cold." I felt like my weariness problem (which isn't there every day but is there at least monthly if not weekly) was mainly a physical one based on my tough job as a mom. But then I heard this sermon by Mahaney and I had to ask myself: When I'm tired and overworked, do I lean on the promises of God and cling to Him or do I joke about taking the kids to the orphanage and jumping on the next plane? Do I tell myself that God is with me and that He is my Helper in any and every circumstance or do I listen to myself say, "This is just too much! I hate my life!!!!"

All too often, I listen to myself instead of talking to myself.

Before you read the following, I have to say that something I get a kick out of is whenever a Christian blogger makes a list of something you should do he/she always starts with: Draw Near to God (or the equivalent of this.) Whether it's How to Make Your House Homey or How to Discipline Kids or How to Budget or How to Overcome Your Fear of Clowns or whatever. Now, I'm not knocking that very-important, top priority of God being first which God Himself commands and I admit that I have often put this at the top of my lists too for various How-To Posts also. It just makes me always think, "They had to write that. If they didn't write that how heathen would they sound? I mean, nasty anonymous commenters would be on them in a heartbeat saying, "How dare you organize your coupon folder or plant a garden or practice your labor-relaxation breathing tips without first drawing near and keeping God at the top of your priorities?"

So, in taking you on that rabbit trail, I will say that you had to have known that as I explore the concept of Weary Moms that my first post on how to deal with it involves drawing near to God and His Word.


Josh Harris interviewed C.J. Mahaney on the subject of the fight for joy as a pastor:

Joshua Harris: I would love to just hear from you, C.J., about what the fight for joy each day looks like in the life of a pastor. What are some key moments for you when it comes to cultivating that kind of joy? How is it expressed?

C.J. Mahaney: Your reference to the fight for joy is right—it’s a fight each and every day. So this is not a natural disposition that one possesses. Each day sin will be opposing the experience and cultivation of joy in our lives. I am personally very familiar with weariness and discouragement and, therefore, what I read in Scripture about the priority of joy and the experience of joy is very applicable to my soul. And each day what I seek to do, from the outset of the day, is position myself as close to the gospel as possible so that I might experience the effects of the gospel. One pronounced effect of preaching the gospel to my soul is joy. I am the worst sinner I know. And given the countless sins I have been forgiven of, as I contemplate the Savior’s substitutionary sacrifice on the cross for my sins, the effect of that contemplation in my life is joy. So from the outset of each day I seek to “survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died.” I seek to study the doctrines of grace. I seek to prepare my heart to discern evidences of grace throughout the day. And as I devote myself to those practices at the outset of each day and throughout the day, the effect upon my soul is joy.

A question posed by Mahaney:
Have you realized that most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself?

You can listen here: The Troubled Soul: God's Word and Our Feelings

Talk to Yourself instead of listening to yourself

Talk to God

Sing--Troubled souls become hopeful souls when we sing truth to our soul

Spurgeon on God's Promises:

“God’s promises were never meant to be thrown aside as waste paper. He intended that they
should be used. Nothing pleases our Lord better than to see His promises put in circulation.
He loves to see His children bring them up to Him, and say, ‘Lord, do as you promised.’ We
glorify God when we please His promises. Do you think that God will be any the poorer for
giving you the riches He has promised? Do you dream that He will be any less holy for
giving holiness to you? Do you imagine He will be any less pure for washing you from your
sins? He has said, ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are
red as crimson they shall be like wool.’ Faith embraces the promise of pardon. It doesn’t
delay, saying, ‘This is a precious promise, I wonder if it is true?’ but goes straight to the
throne with it, and pleads, ‘Lord, here is the promise. Do as you promised.’ Our Lord replies,
‘Be it to you even as you will.’ When a Christian grasps a promise but doesn’t take it to God,
then God is dishonored; but when one hastens to the throne of grace, and cries, ‘Lord, I have
nothing to recommend me but this, You have said it;’ then the desire shall be granted. Our
heavenly banker delights to cash His own notes. Never let the promise rust. Draw the word of
promise out of its scabbard, and use it with holy violence. Don’t think that God will be
troubled by your importunately reminding Him of His promises. He loves to hear the loud
outcries of needy souls. It is His delight to give favors. He is more ready to hear than you are
to ask.
It is God’s nature to keep His promises. Therefore, go at once to the throne with, ‘Do
as You promised..’”

Charles Spurgeon

*Italics in above quotes are mine*

So, in my weariness, I need to be treasuring God's promises and bringing them before Him. I need to be refreshing my mind with the Word and letting it talk to me instead of listening to my self, which is tainted by my own sinfulness. I need to be finding strength for my physical weariness in Him. As the Mahaneys often say, I need to be preaching the Gospel to myself on a daily basis.
For more on this interesting idea, read "How to Preach the Gospel to Yourself."

When I finish the Piper book I will do a review of it here with more thoughts on fighting for joy. More posts to come on Hope for Weary Moms.......

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Best Friends

Picking my friend a flower

Arianna and Jeremiah were friends before they were even out of the womb. Okay, so maybe that is a stretch....but my friend Amy and I spent our entire pregnancies walking together, pushing our firstborns in strollers with our big bellies on display. They were both born on the 8th of their respective months; Arianna is exactly two months older than Jeremiah. Since infancy, they have been friends and they have similar, easy-going personalities that make Amy and I both thankful for the reprieve after our fiery firsts! These pictures reminded me of those calendar pics that people take of little boys and girls smooching and holding flowers.

The Best of COF--That's Funny Honey!

I asked our married readers to share stories anonymously of funny things their husbands have said or done.

My husband says funny things all the time to me, but he not only speaks with his mouth, he uses body language a lot. Here's one thing he likes to do: He puts one leg forward while extending one arm and pointing at me, while winking with his eye and clicking his tongue loudly, then proclaiming something like, "Why, hello!" in a lower than normal voice. In general, he likes doing things to get my reaction and make me smile. I love my husband! :) OH, one more funny thing he says a lot, is "Dear Abby, ....." and then continues with whatever is on his mind at the time.
Comedian Hubby in the Forest

For Christmas, my mother-in-law gave us a pack of onesies for our upcoming baby. However, on the package, they're called "body suits." My husband looked at that and commented: "I thought the baby's supposed to come out alive!" (Body suits...body bags...same thing, eh?!) Fortunately his mother was distracted elsewhere and didn't hear...she would have flipped!
Daddy-to-Be in the State With Zero Trees
My husband gazed at me with adoration and said, “Honey, you haven’t lost an ounce of beauty since we got married. In fact, I think you’ve gained ounces!”
Flattering (or not!) Hubby in the Desert
While I was out of town, he lovingly cleaned the house and had the brilliant idea to spray Odor Eater's foot spray on the pillows to "freshen them up". It left lovely yellow stains and not a lovely smell!
Housekeeping Hubby on the Coast

Back when my husband was still my fiancĂ© he was going to compliment my smile. Just as he was going to say the words, he thought in his head, “Wouldn’t it be awful if I said yellow instead of white?” Sure enough, his mind scrambled his words and I heard, “You have such beautiful yellow teeth!” We were both quite shocked at his comment but laughed hysterically over it!
Tongue-Twisted Hubby in the Wild West

I was working on our wedding pictures the other day and showed my husband what I had accomplished and he said, “Man, we were skinny then." The other one that sticks out to me is him saying he was going to propose to me in a caveman outfit (which came about because I answered him a certain way when he asked a question, and he was like, "Caveman understand.")
Caveman Hubby in Tornado Country

One evening I was getting ready for bed and washing up in the bathroom while my husband was in the kitchen. As soon as I came out, I walked into the bedroom without turning on the light, and turned to the closet to throw some clothes in the laundry basket. There, standing in my closet looking out at me in the shadows, was a man! I screamed at the top of my lungs! My husband later told me that he felt bad that he scared me so much. He really had intended to just give me a little fright, not scare the wits out of me--but that's what happened!
Monster Hubby in the North

When my husband and I were just dating, I was raising money for a missions trip I was planning to go on. As a joke, he put a fake check made out for $10,000 in an envelope and hand-delivered it to me. I could see the numbers through the envelope and was so excited! He was from a wealthy family so I honestly thought it was for real. I don’t know if this counts as the meanest thing he’s ever done or the funniest!
Paying-for-it-Now in Big Sky Country

Friday, May 22, 2009

Jolly Jeremiah

Always looking for a bug or worm

One day a young woman ran past our house, jogging. Lots of people go by each day since we live right by the river walk jogging/walking area. Jer looked at her with a big grin and proceeded to imitate her, jogging down the sidewalk, pumping his arms. She got a kick out of it and we did too! We always ask him to jog for us because he looks so funny doing it!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great Recent Pics

We now officially have a pic of every one of our kids backed up under the couch in their attempts to start crawling/scooting backwards
Our neighbors' tulips. Tulips are my favorite flower so I was so excited to find that some came up in our front yard and side flower beds this year. The neighbor has more but we have some pretty ones too!

My yard sale deal of the week last Saturday! A table and chairs for $10. I'm always looking for things at sales that will aid in hospitality. We're using these outdoors until we find a picnic table or porch set at a yard sale. We'll use it a lot inside for company too!

This was a yard sale buy from a friend from church. Ironically, I had been looking for one the day Justus was born (when I was yard saling while in labor) and they were bought up before I got to the sale. I've wanted one for a couple of years so I was ecstatic to finally get one for a great price. Jer adores it and Justus had the biggest smile playing in it, until he fell out the bottom and was stuck under the car!

This pop-up tent from a yard sale is a life-saver! For $2, it means Ali can have her "hide-away" to nap in at nap time in the living room. She naps well if I let her hide in a closet or a corner but in a small house it is usually hard to find a place to put her since both bedrooms are being used by the boys. They use it outside a lot too to play camping and to get some shade from the hot sun. I love that they can set it up themselves since their other tent (which is more for real camping) requires lots of work from Mama!

Our little man now weighs 17# and is 28 inches long. His head is in the larger end of the scale but he's gone from 10th percentile to 5th in weight. Funny that our largest baby turned out to be our slowest-growing. He has the tiniest little hands and is still wearing shoes that Jer wore at half his age. We measured Justus' hands in Jer's cement mold of his hand and they are the same size as Jer's were at 3 weeks old except for the palm being slightly longer. Justus is very stocky and built like the men on my side of the family but he is also petite with short legs, and tiny hands and feet. Jer was a string bean like his Daddy with no body fat but huge feet. Jer always had a tiny head and still does so a lot of the clothes and hats that did fit him don't fit Justus! Justus is still wearing clothes that Jer wore at 3 months!

The kids like to mow the yard like Daddy does.

Waiting for Boppa, my dad, to pick her up and take her to a picnic with Grammy

Sound asleep

Scrunchy face!

Alathia sleeps in the strangest positions that look so painful!

I love dressing the boys in matching clothes!
Yes, I'm that kind of parent! My boys are probably grateful they aren't identical twins or it would be worse!

I dipped my spoon out of my pudding one day and it looked like a heart!

The neat car that my friend who got married rode away to the reception in. I got this pic for Jer Bear and plan to blow it up and frame it for his wall.

4 little friends have breakfast together the day that we had the twins overnight

5 Little People in a van! Lots of carseat buckling going on! Made me feel like having only 3 is a piece of cake!

Justus loves this ball.

Running through the yard before Josiah chopped down the brush and cut the grass

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hope for Weary Mamas--My Whys

Recently I shared about a very tiring day I had and apparently struck a note with many other moms out there. The truth is that almost every mom I know is weary at least some of the time. I'm not saying that we're always weary or that we don't love our roles but that the fact of life remains that being a mom is a lot of work and many days we find ourselves quite tired.

In coming days I'm going to be sharing more on the subject but I thought I would begin with sharing some of the whys of my own weariness. This post is not meant to cover every facet of the topic, but be just a glimpse into my own life; after all, a blog is a journal, right?

I mentioned in my last post on this subject that many times books will tell you that weariness is your own fault. It definitely can be! I wrote a post on it a while back. There have been many times in my life when I have taken on more than I should have or have gotten my priorities out of whack.

These four things combined to make things very tough for me a few weeks ago. I feel that these are the main causes of my recent bout of weariness:

*The enormous workload I face as a mama.

Someone said to me a couple of years ago, "Stay at home moms just cook all day. That's why they're all overweight." Rude and untrue, I know! This list is for folks who say things like that!

On an average day I:

Do 3 loads of laundry

Spend 1-2 hours doing dishes

Pray with the kids

Help the kids memorize Scripture

Change outfits on the boys 5 times

Change 7 diapers

Discipline kids with reprimands/consequences 30 times

Load kids in the van to go to one activity (whether park playdate or just running to the post office or bank) and unload them

Sweep the kitchen 3 times

Wipe the table down 3 times

Pick up toys all around the house twice and enforce clean-up

Scrub out the bathroom sink

Dump the potty-chair twice

Oversee boy going potty 6 times a day

Make lunch for my kids and hubby and I (whether re-warming leftovers or making a meal from scratch)

Make supper from scratch

Prepare 6 bottles of formula

Feed baby 5 bottles

Wash out bottles and nipples

Prepare snacks for the kids 4 times

Deal with pee-pee messes, whether from spraying or having an accident or a leaky diaper

Phone calls, mail sorting, bill paying, paper sorting

Fill 10 cups/sippy cups per day or more with drinks for the kids

Read to the kids

Play with the kids outside

Wipe poopy bottoms 4-8 times (what can I kids are regular =)

Clean up 3 meals and 2-3 snack times

Attend a church meeting, watch a movie, go to Bible study, go grocery shopping, or for a family walk (one of these options per evening)

Read/listen to my Bible

Make homemade bread or a dessert

Do a project like raking the yard, cleaning a room, organizing something, etc.

Wash hands 8 times with a washrag

Play with Justus

Cuddle Jerby

Help my hubby get the 3 kids ready for bed

Have a showdown with Ali over nap

Give countless commands and directions to teach and enforce concepts and rules

Kiss 20 ouchies

This is just the stuff I can think of quickly. Life is full and busy! I didn't list the things I consider "fun" like time with hubby, internet time, reading, sewing, etc. Being a mom is a lot of work, and while I do cook a lot, I don't just cook and eat all day! Having an active/curious/strong-willed child is a full-time job. Having a two-year-old who tries to throw fits and makes messes everywhere and has recently been potty-trained is a full-time job! Having a baby who is getting active and social and eating lots is a full-time job! So, technically I juggle at least a couple of full-time jobs! Wow, no wonder I have weary days! And some moms out there are on their own or have double the amount of kids I have, or have to work full-time on top of being a mom and keeping the home as well. I could keep 2 employees busy if I had them at my disposal to work under me!

There are always little things we can adjust in our schedules if we're feeling too pressured but the majority of work and pressures I face are things I absolutely have to do like feed my kids and keep them clean and safe. So, the stuff that is the most relentless is the stuff I really can't give up! I do recognize this is a stage and that in the blink of an eye my kids will all be getting their own drinks and doing more chores, etc.

*Spiritual attack from the enemy.

Recently I shared with you that God brought about some healing/forgiveness in my heart in a difficult relationship. But immediately afterward I felt besieged by the enemy. I realize Christians tend to either think about the devil too much or too little and I'm not going to give my theology of the devil in this post or even describe how one can know he is at work. All I'm going to say is from my training in the Bible on this subject and experiences in the past, I can recognize that he is at work and know sometimes that I am under attack in a stronger-than-usual way. I felt him tempting me constantly to choose anger and bitterness again instead of forgiveness and love. He was bringing up past hurts and irritations at the person and was trying to make me think I was crazy for being so vulnerable. Not only did I feel attacked in this relationship but also in my role and job as a mom. It's interesting that we tend to think missionaries and pastors, teens, former addicts, victims, etc. get attacked more by spiritual forces of evil, but we tend to overlook the fact that moms are in a spiritual battle as well. Sometimes it seems that we think satan doesn't have much to do with us. But he does! He can plant doubts and negative feelings about your role as a mom and try to convince you that it's too hard. He can tempt you to envy others who have lives that look easier from the outside or magnify SELF and throw a pity-party. He can feed your mind/time with good things and distractions so that you neglect the best things. Standing strong in prayer is work and it can be tiring to fight the battle for our mind.

*Physical fatigue from sickness or premenstrual syndrome

Sometimes physical fatigue comes from staying up too late. I'm often guilty of this! Sometimes it comes just from the sheer physical effort it takes to lift and carry kids and chase them around, especially if you are sick or pregnant or dealing with a health issue. Sometimes we try to get sleep and our kids wake up; with 3 kids, if it's not one it's another waking up for various reasons at night! Sleep isn't something we can count on as a mom. I'm getting over a cold right now, which has caused me to be more tired and I've dealt with some horrific neck pain (that is thankfully gone thanks to a new pillow) that has caused me to feel overwhelmed recently. Constant physical pain is really hard for me to deal with. I can only take so much and then I snap. I can chug along for a week or two and then I just lose it and just wish I could die. I'm so thankful I was able to get my neck fixed at the chiro a couple of weeks ago and get a new pillow. (My usual exercises weren't helping since I had a bone that had slipped out of whack and twisted crazily...ick...I know). My experience with neck pain has caused me to have GREAT compassion for those who have physical pain and I feel called to encourage and help them.

Every month I get very, very tired as my hormones fluctuate. It doesn't matter how much I sleep, I have a day or two where I just feel like a zombie. And then a day or two where I feel really intensely irritable with my family. I've done a lot of research and heard someone describe the fluctuating levels of estrogen and progesterone as a war in your body chemically. Ahah! That explains a lot! I always feel overwhelmed by my endless responsibilities on the day when I feel most irritable during the month. I often have depressing thoughts and can cry or meltdown easily. I know this is a chemical thing in my body that makes me more easily prone to respond wrongfully and yet, I also think satan likes to capitalize on these physical patterns as well. Sometimes it's hard to know where one cause ends and another begins. It has been said that satan is attracted to depression like flies to garbage. So, whether it is physical or spiritual or both, PMS can cause weariness.

*And just to clarify, having physical trials like physical pain or PMS doesn't excuse sin. I'm still responsible for what I say and do even if my body chemistry makes me more prone to react.*

*Tough Circumstances

Endless paperwork with medical bills, the small things in life like a broken faucet, a car that won't start, an unexpected bill, etc. Sometimes we go for a good amount of time without having too many repairs or mini-trials and then somedays we will have 5 things hit us at once. We've had a lot of things like that in May. God allows these things in my life to draw me to Him, to remind me of what's important, to teach me to trust, to teach me patience and character, etc. However, it's never fun in the midst of the tough circumstance! Some of these little trials have come up this month demanding our time and money and resources and instead of saying, "Here is an opportunity to have faith and trust" I have allowed myself to grow weary from the load.

These are the whys behind my recent weariness. How about you? What are your buttons that when pushed cause you to be weary?

Coming Post: Hope for Weary Mamas--What Can I Do About It?

Monday, May 18, 2009

Spring Cleaning Pics

I organized the changing table in the closet to hold extra blankets on the top shelf and Ali's clothing on the second. The third holds bags of clothes for the kids to grow into. I sorted through the hanging stuff and weeded out things that can be stored until fall/winter. I did leave some heavy coats out because camping in Wyoming involves some icy cold nights in the mountains!
The hanging shoe organizer was $1 at a yard sale. The kids enjoy keeping their shoes in it and they can find shoe options faster now! Jer's clothes are in the tub, diaper supplies are on the shelf under them, and Ali's sock and undie bins are under those.

My friends who have seen our coat closet will agree that this is a vast improvement! Kids' coats, shoes, and backpacks once littered the closet floor and we had all of our winter stuff cluttering up the rack and boots were thrown in on top of shoes. It was bad! Now it holds the shoes we use the most and our summer coats. I also found a way to hang diaper bags and backpacks so they are neater and easier to find.

About twice a year I go through my save pile which is in my bedroom on my dresser in a stackable office tray. Bank statements, important papers and letters, and bill stubs are some of the things I have to sort. Most of it ends up getting tossed, thankfully!

Much better! 3 Piles:
Bank Statements
(to go in my specific folder for these)

Before the drawer-paper was put in I had these mats lining the drawer and they would often scrunch up and get all wrinkled under the utensils.

Pretty stick-on paper makes my utensil drawer much neater!

My "Tickler File" which is just a cheap file box folder where I stash various papers on our desk that I can't take care of right away. I sorted through it to see what papers could be tossed or dealt with.

The pockets were labeled with various categories but I put sticky notes with my own labels over them. I have a file for papers to save (cute drawings that Ali made for me), a preschool paper file, wrist injury file, hubby's stuff file, odds and ends, homeschooling papers, etc.

My aunt taught me to do the Tickler File. She uses the bottom drawer of her desk and has regular hanging files. She has a folder for each day of the week and then one for each month. She goes through it every day and "deals with" the papers that are in her folder for that day. It keeps things handy for her for mailing cards, homeschool tests, bills, etc. I have found that my system is better for me because there are many days when I don't have time to go through my file or forget to. So, as long as I go through it and sort things now and then, I stay on top of it and can deal with the papers as I have time and not have them cluttering up the desk.

So, I accomplished 4 of my 6 Goals for the week. I did not get my kitchen shelves re-organized, but that can be done this week. I also need to spend about 5 minutes tidying up my sewing desk. However, I did get a lot of cleaning done that I hadn't originally planned on thanks to some icky poopy ordeals outside with Jer. All the yard toys got washed, the van got completely vacuumed and scrubbed, and thanks to some wetting accidents by the boys, the couch cushion, couch afghan, and pillows got washed as well as all their sheets, blankets, stuffed animals and Justus' crib! I also tidied up the linen closet.

It turns out my in-laws, who aren't usually spontaneous, decided they are coming for a visit so my spring cleaning is getting wrapped up in perfect timing to have company! They'll be here Friday night and will be able to spend 3 days here.
My last big remaining spring cleaning goal is to shampoo our carpets sometime this week.

While it may look like a lot got accomplished this week, I assure you that most of these projects were very easy and were quickly done. Breaking spring cleaning up into one organizing project a day makes it very simple and I really enjoy organizing and find it to be energy-boosting!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Best of COF--Summer Fun


*Host a pool party! Buy or borrow a little inflatable pool and invite your friend’s kids or neighbor kids over to have a splish-splashing time in the sun (of course making sure that kids are supervised at all times around the water). Set up sprinklers for them to run through too!
*Buy or make a batch of Popsicles and take a walk around the neighborhood, passing them out to anyone you see who looks like they need one!

*Invite your Sunday School class or Bible Study group over for a barbeque (or to be different, invite them to come over before church for a fancy breakfast served outside!)

*Make a pitcher of iced tea or cold lemonade and drop in on someone from church who is lonely or might enjoy a cold drink and visit.

*Grab some girlfriends on a Saturday morning and go Yard-Saling! Stop for smoothies or lattes on the way!

*Set up an ultimate Frisbee night at the local park with all of your friends.
*Plan a family camp out! Invite some friends to go camping at a nearby location with you.

*Surprise your husband with a picnic lunch at his workplace or kidnap him after work and take him to a pretty spot.

*Take some kids to the lake/park who otherwise might not get to go because their parents don’t have time to do things like that with them. Be sure to have helpers along to supervise!

*Sign up for summer swimming lessons or Mommy and Me swim classes.
*Host a waterfight or bonfire for your church’s youth group
*Mow an elderly friend's yard for them.
*Host a free car wash one Saturday. Invite all of your friends to bring their vehicles and let them put their feet up and eat a popsicle while you wash their wheels.
*Start a babysitting co-op so you and your couple friends can take turns going out on dates once a week or bi-monthly.
*Offer to watch someone's kids who is going through a rough time. Set up fun games in the yard and tell your friend to enjoy herself for the day. You may just get treated back someday!
*Set up a little tent in the yard and have a reading day with the kids, spending lots of time cuddling and reading books.
Every Saturday I'm posting articles/recipes/tips from my newsletter, "The Circle of Friends" which I am no longer publishing. This was taken from the June 2006 issue.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Frugal Friday--Fast and Frugal Snack

I was making healthy smoothies almost every day during the first couple of months of my hubby's injury. However, since he's healed up and we've gotten busier with springtime activities, I've gotten out of the habit and don't make them as often. But my kids love smoothies and I want them to be getting the benefits of yogurt in their diet. So, the other day I filled one of their tupperware cups half-full of plain homemade yogurt and half full of grape juice. I put my finger over the hole in the lid and shook it up. Instant smoothie without the work of pulling out the blender! You can throw in some flax meal, veggie puree, or wheat germ if it's handy. These are much healthier than the sugar-loaded smoothie drinks you can buy in the store.
My kids also enjoy plain yogurt with some fresh or frozen fruit mixed in but I have found that when they drink their yogurt in a smoothie instead of eating it, there is MUCH less mess to clean up!
These quick-smoothies are very frugal for us considering we get milk (which I make into yogurt) and juice through WIC. However, even if we were paying for the milk and juice, with some good sales on these items, these drinks would still fit our budget and they help fill up those bottomless-pit-tummies that my kiddoes have!
For more Frugal Friday Ideas, visit Life as Mom today!

A Disposable Diaper Day

I love Justus' Scrunchy Face Look. He always makes this face when he's tired and ready for a nap.

To say this day has been rough would be an understatement.

It's a disposable diaper day today. Which means that life is so hard, I'm willing to spend 20 cents per diaper change just to make life slightly easier.

Ignorance is bliss unless it involves a toddler. Ignorance involving a toddler's mess is far worse than the initial mess itself. Remember our Christmas Day Experience involving ignorance? Today's lesson: Not knowing that your toddler pooped in the yard and got it on his hands means that when you smell something funny in the van, you suddenly have to sanitize the toddler, the bathtub, the sink, the toddler you are babysitting who played with your toddler, your van, your grass, your yard toys, the carseat, the van carpet, all the clothes and shoes your toddler was wearing, the toys in his hands, etc.

Not only did I deal with this mess today, but I also forgot my daughter at preschool for the second time this week! (She only goes twice a week, so these are some sad statistics.) I've been watching my friend's daughter while Ali is at school and apparently this week my brain has decided to think that Arianna is Ali and I don't have a daughter to pick up. Thankfully, it's not too big of a deal since Grammy is at school and Ali can just join Grammy's class for a little while until Mommy gets there, but it makes me wonder if I'm under a lot of stress. Oh, wait. I have 3 tiny kids! Every day involves plenty of stress.

Justus somehow managed to take his disposable diaper off at naptime. At first I felt enormous relief as his blanket didn't feel wet. Maybe I caught him in time! Then I lifted up the blanket and discovered his Pack n' Play crib was soaked. Another load of laundry and more bonding time with the hose as I spray things down and wash everything. The neighbors must be wondering why I'm spraying down everything in sight today. The hose has a lot of water pressure and jerked out of my hand to spray me with ice cold water. For the second time today.

This week has also been hard because every day Ali and I have a showdown when it comes to naptimes. For the last couple of years, Ali hasn't needed naps in the afternoon in the fall and winter. However, in the late spring and summer, she has napped well, even at age 3 and now, at age 4, she still needs one during this season. Yet she fights me on it until the last bit of strength is gone from her body and she finally succumbs to sleep. She's always been a sleep-fighter so I shouldn't be surprised, but I'd rather have her not nap at all and just play with activity boxes than scream and fuss day after day, lacking the self-control it takes to just lay down and go to sleep. After one hour-long power struggle yesterday I had just "had it." Justus had been screaming all afternoon, not feeling well with a cold, and my nerves were shot. I felt like a horrible failure as a mother for being so angry with her and felt so sick of dealing with her. I looked like I had been through a war when my husband got home. In a way, I really had been!

I've been extremely weary several days this month. I've been contemplating my weariness and trying to find out the source. A lot of people think that weariness is your own fault. And sometimes it is. Poor decisions, inability to say no, and jam-packed schedules can cause weariness. There are some circumstances that have contributed to my weariness which I'll share with you in a few days in a post I'm composing. But, my main source of weariness is my job. I often beg my husband to trade me jobs. My dad always jokes that my job is one he would never, ever, ever want. And yet, unless I give three little darlings up for adoption, I don't foresee an end to the relentless demands of my job any time soon. It's a job you just can't quit and there are few, if any, breaks from it. Most days I love it, but every day is busy and every day is hard. Day in and day out God uses my children to reveal my depravity, to chip away at my self-sufficiency, to bring me to my knees begging for grace and the strength to make it. Day after day, through the trials of being a Mom, I am forced to the foot of the cross.

Sometimes we have a mindset that "when this will be so good." Maybe it's when we graduate from school, when we get married, when we get pregnant, when we have the baby, when summer comes, when we have more money, or when the kids get older, etc. etc. Yet, we always come to find that life is just hard and even if our circumstances were relatively easy, we are still sinful, missing the mark of perfection, and dealing with the consequences of sin. We live in a fallen world where there is much sadness, hardship, sickness, and pain.

We need Jesus. We need Him so, so, so much. We need Him every day, every hour. We need to remember that He hasn't promised us an easy life but has instead said that in this world we will have trouble. "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." John 16:33

In the midst of our troubles, He has given us peace. He is with us! He has allowed various trials in our lives for His glory and our good and He will see us through.

"Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4

I linked to a woman named Rachel's testimony earlier today. In her talk, she mentioned how it can be so frustrating to be a mom and do the same chores over and over again. She said she was serving constantly, but her problem was that she wasn't serving WITH joy. Though my job often feels like more than I can handle, I know it is not. God does not give us more than we can handle with His help. I, too, like Rachel, need to ask the Lord to help me serve WITH joy, even when circumstances are difficult and trials come my way.

So, if you've ever gotten the impression from this blog that my life is perfect and easy and that I'm the best mom ever and the fun never ends, I apologize. I often highlight the fun and the blessings in our home and in our life, but that is not the whole picture. I'm continually being refined just like you.

Stay tuned for more on the subject of Hope for Weary Mamas.

Death is Not Dying

If you don't read Girl Talk, you're missing out! I'm forever quoting this blog and linking to it because it is a cross-centered, wise online "mentor" for me in this life I life as a daughter of the King. Yesterday, I found this link on Girl Talk to Rachel Barkey's talk she gave called "Death is Not Dying." Rachel is dying of cancer. She's a mom in her thirties who has two little kids and a loving husband. She has between 42-120 days to live and her body is riddled with pain and sickness. And yet, she has profound hope. She shares in this video what it means to Know God, Know Yourself, Know the Gospel, and Know your Purpose. This is one of the neatest testimonies I have ever heard and I want to pass on this link so that many of you might listen to it and be encouraged. If you have dial-up, you could load the audio and listen to it if you aren't able to view the video.

Death is Not Dying

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Spring Cleaning Pics

Justy sits among the clutter. I unloaded everything from the closet onto our bed.

The newly organized gift center is on my top shelf. I used to have all the bows, ribbons, gift wrap and bags in one large gift bag on the right but there was such a large collection bows were getting smashed so I divided them into different boxes and bags. The red gift bag is full of Christmas bows and one blue shoebox holds wedding ribbons and one holds all the other ribbons. The brown bag is full of gift wrap and tissue paper.
I didn't need to organize my gift stash because my current method works for me. The red cloth box is full of baby gifts, the round hat box is full of gift items and the red and green box is also full of general gift items.

Extra large gift bags are tucked between the wall of the closet and my hanging organizer. I used to use this organizer for Jer's clothes but I decided to use it when we moved to this rental. I only keep two pairs of shoes in it: my winter dress shoes and spring/summer dress shoes. My 3 other pairs of shoes are in the coat closet with our other shoes, bags, and coats. I have found that this hanging organizer makes a perfect "catch-all" for those little annoying odds and ends that you don't know what to do with. For example: the books I need to return to my in-laws that they've loaned me, my fall purse and fancier handbag, mementos from my brother's wedding, small boxes I can use for wrapping gifts in, small gifts that are wrapped or ready to go but need a safe place to hang out until the event, etc.

My side of the closet contains my scrapbooking tub and an apple box full of books on loan which my MN friends and family brought out in December since they know I love to read!

My hubby really doesn't get any shelf space above his clothes, probably since he doesn't seem to need it! The kids' Keepsake Boxes are there and I currently have 3 bridal shower gifts for 3 special friends sitting there ready to go!

My hubby's side of the closet after my cleaning. Our empty, traveling bags are on the left, the flowbee (a vacuum attachment he cuts his own hair with) his snowboot liners, and his baseball glove make up the other contents. Our imitation down comforter, which we love, is in the white garbage bag. We always keep one of our comforters in the closet so that if a baby or child wets on our bed or if we get cold with just one comforter, we can quickly pull it out and use it.

There wasn't a lot to do on our closet but I feel better now that everything is straightened and organized. We had a small suitcase and also a garbage bag full of snow hats and gloves taking up space in there which I condensed into the suitcase and hauled to the shed for summer storage.
More Spring Cleaning Pics to Come!!!
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