Monday, January 13, 2014

Progressive Era

Is it too late for a New Year's post?  Bear with me folks, I'm still crawling out if the hole known as the stomach flu. Since we entered 2014 up to our elbows (literally) in puke, I feel like I still need some closure.

2013, you were good. Hard, but good. There were some major highs this year. Indisputably, July 21 earns "best day ever."  And it just keeps giving and giving.  This girl is such a delight. She truly is our "cheerful increase." I am in total denial that we ever thought our family was complete without her, our "omega baby" as one clever family friend has dubbed her.  She's a daily reminder that sometimes, being wrong can be oh, so right.


Also right up there was our kidless vacation to Florida.  I'm so glad we got that in while we could, even if being away from the Top 3 tugged at my mama-heart.  Of course, I'll never forget the day we found out Fourth Baby was a girl.  I still pinch myself.  Two boys, two girls, it couldn't get any better!  Finally, turning 30 ended up being a blast as well.  Now that I'm seven months in, I can honestly say this decade suits me.  It's a good fit.

But there were lows too. When I think of 2013's rock-bottom, I think of September. Especially the week Jon was out of town for longer than we expected. I've never felt so alone and incapable before. Mothering 4 under 5 was (and continues to be) one of the greatest challenges of my life, but it is getting easier.  Or maybe I'm just growing more numb.  Remember that time 4/5s of us had the flu?  That makes last week's ordeal look like child's play.  I think that's enough reminiscing.

I know I've mentioned it before, but I'm not one for New Year's resolutions. I am all about goal-setting and progress though.  So let's talk about what we're working toward this year.

1.) Getting up before the kids.
Okay, so we look at this every year.  All the time.  I'm perpetually trying to get ahead of my kids.  I was on a roll last week.  Ironically, I woke up at 6:30 and Jack, who we practically have to drag out of bed most days, was up at 6:35.  It doesn't really help much to be ahead by just a few minutes.  The next day was much the same. I got up, and then Joci was up earlier than usual as well.  Then the stomach flu hit and since Joci currently requires an early morning feeding right now, my goal has had a bit of a set-back.  I'll keep working at it.

Heart.Melting.
2.) Cultivating a passion for God.
I know I'm a bit behind the times in this but I just got "Jesus Calling" for Christmas.  I've heard great things about it from other people and am finally joining the movement.  So far, so good!  But more than just doing a daily devotional, I want to get passionate about my relationship with the Savior.  Passions are obvious.  If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know I kinda love babies.  Like really love babies.  And books.  There's this author, Jane Austen ... I kind of have a thing for her too.  And I like baking, and crafting, and pretty much just creating in general.  Those are all things that come out in casual conversation.  They're obvious.  And I want my relationship with God to be the same way.  Not too overbearing, but clearly an ever-present aspect of my life.  And, in turn, I want to study and learn and grow and get to know God on a whole other level.


3.) Having more fun in the kitchen ... but not too much
One of these days, I'm going to do a post about meal planning.  I truly enjoy creating things in my kitchen.  It's not always easy with the kids (er, my BIG HELPERS) around but most of the time we have a lot of fun.  I got some new kitchen gadgets and cookbooks for Christmas that I'm excited to put to good use.  But I need to watch myself.  Sometimes I can spend a little too much time at the counter.  When I find myself breaking down my menu into making ricotta for shells, and yogurt for breakfast cake... perhaps I've gone too far.

A few years ago I read an article where a homeschooling mom of several kids was dying of cancer.  The week before she died, the author asked her if she had any regrets.

She told me she wished she had baked less bread - she said if she had it to do over again she would buy bread and spend more time with her children. She had invested time and energy in pursuing the "path" because she thought it was part of the spiritual ... package.


I was stunned, and not just because I had spent the last few months perfecting my own homemade bread, but because it suddenly made so much sense.  At the end of the day, making my own bread, mastering pasta rolling, or getting my kids to love kale isn't going to make me a good mom.  I like to love on my family through my cooking, but I'm not being loving when I'm ignoring my kids ... or getting frustrated with their efforts. Kitchen time is family time and when it's not working, well, there's always take-out.

Izzy-pirate!

He's about to throw down on Izzy for crashing his photo op.

4.)  Learning how not to be a mom
Okay, I don't mean this literally.  I'll never stop being a mom.  But I need to work on stepping away sometimes.  I mean, we mamas joke about not being able to use the bathroom alone.  I feel things went to a new level last week when I found I couldn't even barf alone.  Wow, my kids must really love me.

Logistically, we need more babysitters, more often.  And more date nights.  I also need to know when to ask my husband to step in so I can sit on the bench.  One day, I just want to go to Starbucks and sit and watch people for no reason at all, than just because, in that moment, I'm not being a mom.

And if I could sit down across from myself, I'd treat me to a caramel macchiato and say, "Girl, it's okay.  It's okay that you're here alone.  It's okay that you're thinking about stopping at the library on the way back ... alone.  It's great that the kids are home with Daddy, probably watching a marathon of football games and eating cereal for lunch.  Oh, and by the way, nobody blames you for using preschool for the childcare aspect rather than the whole "preparing for Kindergarten" deal.  And that thing you did this week where you sent the boys out in the mud so they HAD to get a bath, and then you left them in the tub until their hands got shriveled while you brewed a cup of tea, snuck into the secret chocolate stash, and caught a cooking show on Hulu?  That was awesome.  I'm going to steal that move for myself.  And now I'll leave you alone to enjoy this small space of time before your husband calls asking if you'll be home soon.  Cheers.  Here's hoping that caffeine doesn't keep the baby up."

Hmm, that was good.  I should treat myself to Starbucks more often.

Lia's signature photo face.

Annnnd Jack was here...

5.)  Facing the future
Joci, my omega baby.  It's no secret this has been a huge struggle for me.  I try not to talk/write about it too much because it makes me cry.  See, I'm starting already.  I want to soak up these last few months with a tiny one.  And then I want to pack it all up and push it out the door with dignity.  I need to determine what I'm going to do with all those hours that I'll no longer be spending nursing a baby and how I'm going use that time to benefit my family.

Tongue sticking out, that's her signature look.
I haven't done any typing work for the last two months.  It's been wonderful in most respects.  But I miss working again.  I need to find the right balance between "just enough" and "too much."  For now. And then I want to start looking to what I'm going to do with myself in the future.  I'm 30, have two degrees, and no idea "what I want to be when I grow up."  Being a wife and mother will always be my priority, but I want a little something else in the background.  Maybe that's a PhD, maybe that's  more responsibility at MOPS, or maybe it's spending a few hours a week cuddling babies that are born addicted to drugs (another thing that easily makes me cry).  I'm open to whatever the Lord has for me -- whatever can fill this space in my heart that's been occupied by all things pregnancy and newborns for the last 6 years.

Whew, with that said, I think I'll stop here and go exchange kisses with my nearly 6 month old for a few minutes.  This should be enough for the next 10 years anyway.  I've enjoyed our chat.  See you all in 2024 when I set goals again!

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