Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A little life lesson...

Watch this short eight minute clip. It's about growing up:

A Must-Watch For Anyone Frustrated With Growing Up

It's so funny because this evening I was stuck in a ginormous line at JoAnne Fabrics and there was a cranky lady at the check out desk. She was reaming the worker out for a sign that led her to believe one price, when in reality it was another price. The manager finally did an over-ride giving her the price she wanted as  she said super loud "...and ONLY because we need to move forward here and there is a long line waiting behind you!" When her total came up she counted out the correct change down to the penny, and then complained again. I couldn't hear the entire conversation but I began getting annoyed.

There were 10 people in front of me in line, and at least 10 more behind me. I got the snarky smirks from those around me, the snarly smirk that says "this lady is nuts... what an idiot..." I did the courteous smirk back, showing my understanding and agreement, but then I looked at the lady again, and this time I saw her with different eyes. I felt empathy towards her. The holidays are supposed to be merry and bright, but they are far from it usually. So many of us strive to make Christmas morning perfect for our kids. We strive to make our house perfect for company. We strive to make the best side dish to display at our mother-in-law's. We are all just trying to do our best. This lady was probably trying to do her best too. I imagined that she was on a tight budget and trying to make her money stretch as far as it could. Maybe she was trying to make home-made gifts for her kids or her siblings. I looked at her face and her cheeks were hot and flushed with frustration and probably embarrassment. Her daughter kept coming in to the store asking her when she was going to be done, that it was cold outside and "YOU HAVE BEEN IN HERE FOREVERRRRR!!" I said a little prayer for that woman, and I truly hoped that she would experience peace and hope.

In the clip I posted there is the mom struggling with the cranky kid. I've been there sooo many times.
There's the single girl, irritated with those around her. I've been there before.
There's the guy, mad that he has to wait in line. I've been there too.
There's the lady on her phone, annoying those around her. Been there.
And traffic. yep.

I love that it mentions that we have a choice about how we react in those "day to day" situations.
That it's not all about us.

I need to remember this daily. 'Cause most days I am stuck on feeling like it is all about me.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

broken hearts lead to making a change

This past summer I became friends with one of the most wonderful women in the world. At our first playdate the kids gave us long enough periods of uninterrupted talk time that we were able to share our hearts on so many issues.  One huge heart ache that we had in common was over sex trafficking.

My eyes were opened to the huge overwhelming issue of sex trafficking a few years ago when my parents returned home from the One Thing conference at The International House of Prayer in Kansas City. I had no idea that this atrocity took place in the United States, and even here in Minnesota. At the conference they debuted the preview for a documentary. I wept as I watched. Over a year later I attended the documentary and it forever changed me.

But what difference could I make? How could I help? I'm just a stay-at-home-mama in Minnesota. I don't have time to volunteer. I don't have extra money to give. I have no resources to contribute to the fight for the lives of the women and children affected by sex trafficking.

I kept asking God "what am I supposed to do?! How can I help?!"

I have two friends that are making a difference in their own ways.

My friend Rachel started a makeup company called "be Lovely". She does home parties and raises awareness about women stuck in the sex industry. She sells beautiful lipsticks, lip glosses, eye shadows and liners that are all named after women and their beautiful attributes. She donates a percentage of her sales to organizations that help these women. You can check out her website at http://www.belovely.com/

My other friend Kjersti started a ministry called "Beautiful and Loved" that spreads love and encouragement to women in the sex industry. She and her team deliver gift bags and care packages to these women, reminding them that they are of great worth and value. You can find her website at http://www.beautifulandloved.com/

Recently my friend Jocelyn shared with me about a new business that empowers women out of poverty. Many women around the world try to claw their way out of poverty by working in a sweat shop or selling their bodies. Some are forced to abandon their babies or watch them starve and are so desperate that they are forced in to making money in dangerous, unfair and unhealthy ways. Trades of Hope partners with organizations that are giving women opportunities to make money at at livable wages. They are reaching out to women because statistically it is shown that when one woman is helped out, she brings four others with her.

My job is to be a voice for these women by sharing their stories and marketing their handcrafted goods. In return they receive wages that enable them to feed their families, get health care and send their babes to school. I even get a percentage that enables me to help support my family too.

This is a tangible way that I can help these women, raise awareness, and help make a difference even when I am deep in the trenches of raising small children and a busy family life.

If you would like to help in the most simplest way, if you would like to give a gift that is fair-trade and that helps make a difference this Christmas, please check out the website and place an order before December 16th to ensure that it is delivered on time.
Click   here to see my website and to look at the catalog. 

I've gotten so much support and confirmation in what I am doing with Trades of Hope. I am excited to see where it takes me this next year. 

If you have any questions or want to book a party with me, you can email me at sierrahegstrom@hotmail.com.

Peace be with you on this CHILLY Minnesota afternoon. The high for today is -1. I got to spend the morning with my sweet neighbor friend and her kiddos as we sipped coffee and had good conversation. I am so grateful for other mamas to spend time with during these dreadfully cold days. Hope you are staying warm today.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sugar Cookies, Noodle necklaces and a Thankful Heart. It's all worth it.

Hey friends!

Yeah, i'm done starting out each post with "oh em geeee it's been so long... sorry I SWEAR I am back to blogging regularly.... blah. blah. blaaaaaah......."

Life's been busy since the beginning of the fall. I'm over it. I've been in a blogging rut. So much is going on and I can't barely process through it all enough to write about any of it.

There are days when I am sure I am ruining my children. Then there are days when I am sure they are ruining me. Today was a little of both.

It's the holiday season, and Christmas will be here in 16 days (the only reason I know that is 'cause "Santa" told my boys that today). Am I prepared? no. Have I begun to shop? not so much. Do we have a tree yet? yes.... Does it have lights or ornaments yet? mmmm... no.

Currently Max and Gabriel are watching a Christmas movie. And Eli is in the kitchen I think, doing dishes. I'm sorta over this day. Mama needs a minute to write it out.

I tried creating fun Christmas memories tonight. I brought my boys (by myself) to our neighborhood coffee shop and eatery Groundswell since they hosted a little party for the kiddos with Santa, cookie decorating and crafts. We got there and the kids had a ball slathering gobs of frosting and spilling piles of sprinkles and candies decorating their cookies. The shop's baker, Megan, was so sweet and patient, allowing for total culinary artistic freedom. It was wonderful. I sipped my vanilla latte and was proud of myself for getting through the stress of getting them out the door in sub-zero weather.

That lasted about 15 minutes from the beginning of decorating to cookies being eaten. Then it was craft time. We took a break to meet with Santa. And of course Max asked me if Santa was real on our way back to the crafts.

Gabriel wasn't about to sit on that man's lap. he wouldn't even get close.

Santa explained to Max that it's important to be a good big brother and to be a good helper.
He wasn't messin' around. he knows Max's type.

Gabe decided to join in to the conversation about what everyone wanted for Christmas.
"I want a arrow and bow!" to which Santa replied, "well... I'll have to talk it over with your mother..."
If Santa was real, I'd want him to be just like this one. 

(**We don't do Santa in our house, so it's confusing for him when we tell him that in our house mama and daddy bring the gifts, and then he meets the jolly guy in real life. We explain that Santa was a real dude, a nice and generous guy who lived long ago and that  people pretend to be him every year around Christmas just for fun. I reminded him in a quiet whisper in front of the other excited kiddos waiting in line**)

Luckily my friend was there to help out during the noodle-bell necklace craft or I think I would've lost it. Max was irritating his brothers. Gabriel was freaking out over where his goody bag was (all while doing the "pee dance" since he refused to go potty before we left the house). Luckily Eli was being a pretty good boy. It was time to go, and as I stuffed their sticky candy cane stained hands in to their gloves, of course Eli spilled his glass of water, of course Max was actin' a fool and Gabe was trying to run out the door. Then my cheeks started to get hot and my throat tightens and I am wondering WHY THE HECK I THOUGHT I COULD PULL THIS OFF BY MYSELF. (Matt was working)

All in the name of trying-to-create-sweet-memories for my kids. Who knows. Who knows if they'll remember or not. If they'll remember that mom was stressed or if they'll just remember that mom braved whatever the turn out was going to be and did it anyway.

Bottom line: They had a huge sugar cookie piled high with frosting and sprinkles for dinner. They got to make their first noodle necklaces with bells on yarn. They got a pep talk from Santa.

On the way out to the car as I am acting like a chicken with her head cut-off  hustling my chicks in a row, I hear a "THANKTH MOM FOR BINGING UTH TO THE COFFEE THOP!"

There. There it was. A thankful heart. It was worth it.
I'm exhausted. I'm just glad they got full off the cookies.

Gabe just saw my new fox earrings and asked "mom? what does the fox say?" Cue the fox song. They know it by heart.

peace out.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Crabby mama crabby mama what do YOU see?

I see lots of dirty dishes looking at me. 

I want to be crabby about it. But I am trying to change my heart about it.

I do dishes up to three times a day. And we don't have a dishwasher.

So, in this moment, I'm trying to see something different than just 20 minutes of more house work.
What do I see when I look at this millionth sink full of dishes that I am about to dive in to?

I see plates that served peanut butter toast and apple sauce for lunch.
I see bowls that served oatmeal.
I see water bottles and glasses that delivered fresh, clean water to my thirsty babes and our friends.
I see silverware that my kids used to play with play dough used to feed themselves.
I see pots and pans that we cooked dinner in last night.

... which means my family has had another meal. My babies have full bellies and have had plenty to drink today. They didn't have to experience any real feeling of hunger. They didn't have to experience thirst.

So today i am choosing to be grateful for the dirty dishes.

And I'll get right on them as soon as I help Eli get Gabriel's "comfy boots" on for the 327th time today.

It's been a while friends. Hope you all are hangin' in there as the weather is getting colder and the days are getting shorter.

Life has been busy lately: New babies, new life challenges, new friends, new books, new stages and phases, new sets of swears + prayers, new experiences, new relationships, lots of newness.

I get to go to FlArida in a week and a half! Maybe I can catch up on blogging there. Probably not though. Until next time sisters (and brothers too)...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

quiet times

This last weekend with our house church we discussed how we manage our quiet times with God. What do I mean when I refer to quiet time? It's the alone time that you spend with God. What does it look like? Sometimes it's meditation and or prayer. Sometimes it's reading the bible. Sometimes it's listening to music. Sometimes it's just listening. Sometimes it's processing. Sometimes it's a walk through the fall leaves as you soak in nature and all it's splendor.

The times that I do get to read, pray, listen, and write (all at the same time!) are rare but so fulfilling. 
During our discussion it was comforting to hear how we all struggle to fit that time in. One guy said you need to be forcing yourself to wake early or stay up late if time is scarce. That there are no excuses. One mom talked about how difficult it would be to wake early, especially when babies are up in the night sick or  needing to nurse. Another guy talked about how waking at 5:30 for work was the earliest he could do, that he felt he wasn't able to wake any earlier.

So if our days are packed with work and child rearing and extra curricular activities and book clubs and kid's soccer practice and cleaning the house and walking the dog and being stuck in rush hour, how do we squeeze in that time?

For me, my faith is all about my personal and very real relationship with Jesus.

In any kind of close relationship that I have, I want that person to know that I love them and care about them a lot. I want to spend time with them and pour in to them. I would do anything for that person, go out of my way for them and be there for them in a heart-beat.

Most mornings when I get up, I am pretty much worthless. I have hit the snooze button 3 times and then I have to jump out of bed and scoop my 1st grader up and out of his toasty warm bed while singing our morning song so that he doesn't immediately start screaming at me. My intention for the year was gong to be waking him earlier and having a little quiet time with him on the porch before we ventured out to the bus stop. Yeah... we were able to do that maybe two mornings the first week of school, and then sleeping 20 extra minutes became more important. Bummer. At least we get prayer and (sometimes) devotions in at night.

I am trying to figure out where I can make time for my quiet times with God. Just like I need to make time to spend quality time with my husband, and my boys, my mom and my friends, I need to make time to get quality time with God.

I felt guilty as our conversation at house church made me really think about my lack of quality time with God. I felt bad that I don't get up the first time my alarm goes off. I felt bad that I stay up late on pintrest but not in prayer.

Guilt isn't from God though. He has no intentions for us to suffer from guilt. But conviction is from the Lord: that feeling in your gut that challenges you to make a change.

I'm looking at this all and I am looking at it from the same perception that I see my marriage.

In the early morning is not when I would be able to turn to Matt and say "hey babe, let's talk about my day and my love for you and my worries and my thoughts and my heart posture towards so-and-so and yadda yadda yadda..." I would be too tired, I wouldn't want to listen to him about his thoughts either; my brain would not be functioning. But when I do wake up when his alarm goes off, I tell him I love him and to have a great day, and then I roll over and fall back asleep.

In the same way I think I can manage to wake up, greet God, tell him I love him and invite him to be near me through out the day.

Later on in the morning I usually get a sweet text from Matt or send Matt a text telling him I love him. Later on in the afternoon or around lunch if something difficult or funny or significant has happened, we usually call each other and give updates.

In the same way through out my day I do pray. I do talk to God. I thank him when something is sweet and joyful. I talk to him when something is bothering me, or when I am hurting.

In the evenings after the kids go to sleep or right before we turn out our light, Matt and I get some time to just be together. Sometimes we watch a movie or even go on a date! We try to get quality time together each day, but it doesn't always happen, and it never looks the same.

In the same way, I need to be getting intentional time with God. Where I am not distracted, and I get to focus. This doesn't happen for me every day. Or sometimes it happens when I am in the car and all the kids have fallen asleep and I have 15 minutes of uninterrupted peace. Or sometimes it happens during nap time as I am washing dishes and listening to my favorite music.

I know God loves me and understands my life. I know he enjoys the time I get to have with him. I know that he forgives me when I spend my time poorly some days. I know that he yearns to be near me and he waits for me to ask him to be a part of my day. I know that he wants to strengthen me to get through my hardest days, and I know he is generous with the peace he pours over me when I ask for it. His comfort is abundant. His understanding and love never end.

And yet it is still hard to find the time.

I'm just processing here.

I have some work to do in this area.

Do you have quiet times? What do they look like? Does it happen often enough or is this a challenge you would like to take on too?

This afternoon I am going to the funeral of my dear friend's little 22 month old Zachary Michael Cooper. He died in his sleep Thursday afternoon and my heart has been aching for the last few days. Please be in prayer for the Cooper family.

Hope you all are having a lovely Tuesday. It is rainy and dreary here in good ol' Minnesota.
The day of my dad's funeral was similar. Sometimes I feel like it's God's way of showing us that he is grieving right along side us, that he aches for our loss and weeps with us too.

Monday, October 7, 2013

when you and your husband are awesome room mates

It's about to get real REAL up in here.
I'm transparent... most of the time...

You know that feeling when you look at your life and realize that you and your husband are SUPER awesome room mates? No? Then skip out on reading the rest 'cause yeah me neither.....

I hate that. I hate when it comes to that. And I hate how much intentional love, work and time it takes to dig ourselves out of that rut each time.

I have been so good at keeping the house picked up. Having dinners planned (for the most part). Making appointments. Organizing the porch. Doing dishes. Keeping kids happy and entertained all day-every day and helping Max with homework. I even make our bed, like, twice a week.

Matt has been so good at keeping up with laundry and putting dishes away. He releases me on my Funday Mondays and Zumba nights . He gets the recycling and garbage can out every Wednesday night. Every morning he makes me coffee and takes the trash out. And on top of working 40 hours a week, he has been picking up extra hours helping friends out with house projects.

We are busy, but we are doing a dang good job keeping our home and family functioning.

But our marriage? That gets put on the back burner too often. It's so easy to put it aside and stay focused on the little things: all the whining and tantrums and spilled milk and piles of laundry and dinner plans and missing socks and home work and bonked heads and stressful bed time routines and dirty dishes and drawings on the walls.

This weekend flew by and I knew that I needed to talk to Matt about it, and I chose his favorite time to bring up hard stuff: at 11pm after the lights went out. I vented for five minutes all that was on my heart and mind, all that was concerning me and making me sad.

In marriage there are some things that will never change. And we just need to get over it. Me bringing up deep stuff when my man is tired and it is 11pm on a Sunday night? It is just one of those things.

He dealt with me gracefully and with lots of love.

And I feel like we are back on track today.

Earlier I said I hate how much work it takes to dig out of the sucky-marriage-rut. I think that's why we put it off, because it's just too much work, and ain't nobody got time fo' that.

But sometimes it doesn't take much work at all. Sometimes, just sometimes, all it takes is two hopeful and patient people who are willing to forgive and let it all go and start out fresh.

Because baby sometimes, love is war right?

We recently joined a little house church and were invited to join a marriage study that will take place once a month for the next 6 months or so on on Monday nights. My sweet friend even offered to do childcare for us. It starts tonight. Perfect timing.

Don't stay in the rut. Fight like hell to get out of it, or else over time it just slowly gets deeper and deeper and deeper. Keep climbing out, every single time. You will keep falling in every once in a while, but the process of getting out makes you stronger for the next time.

Fall is here. My fingers are chilly as I type.I love this weather. I hope it stays for a while.

 Hope you all had a lovely weekend. We played with friends, had a date night with friends at The Chatterbox Pub, had a rainy and chilly trip to an apple orchard, watched The Croods with our boys and then last night Matt and I finally got to watch The Great Gatsby. I love just about any Baz Luhrmann film and I fancied the Jay-Z inspired soundtrack so I really like it. 

Well that's about all. Until next time....

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Hospitality RemiX

When we were searching for our house, the number one important trait was that it would be able to be a gathering place for our friends, family, and our community. We wanted a home that people would feel comfortable, where they would feel welcome. We wanted our house to feel like a place of respite. We imagined beautiful conversations taking place in our living room as coffee brewed and children happily played. We dreamed of a huge basement playroom. We wanted a great (fenced in) backyard where kids could run and play and be safe. We also imagined neighbor kids running in and out of the house. We wanted our house to be the hang out spot for our kids and their friends. We imagined meals taking place with friends and family at our big dining room table.

I imagined our house would be, oh, at LEAST 2,000 square feet. And I imagined it would be in the heart of St. Paul. Then we began the search, and guess what? The typical house in St. Paul is way less than 2,000 square feet. I began to feel discouraged when all the houses we were looking at were closer to 12 and 14 hundred square feet. All my dreams of huge Thanksgiving dinners, Christmas parties, birthday parties and craft nights soon diminished as I had to face the reality of inner-city living and the tiny houses that came along with it.

The house we fell in love with only had three bedrooms. Which was perfect for the 5 of us, but then there was no room for a craft room or a guest bedroom. Huge bummer. The basement was as old-house- basement-y as they come... AKA not a dreamy playroom. We loved it though because it had the big (inner-city "big") fenced yard, and a wide open 1st-floor plan, which is not common for the houses in our area. At only1340 sqft, we decided to take a chance on it and make it work.

So I had to change my mindset.

If people came to stay with us, no they wouldn't have their own room and guest bathroom. But they could have a comfy couch to crash on, or even a room to themselves if they didn't mind sleeping in Max's room. This last summer we were blessed with more than a few opportunities to host friends and families. We even had a family of SEVEN stay with us for a few days. We made it work, and it was wonderful!

And we don't have a gloriously huge playroom to send the rascally children to. But we do have a three season porch full of half eaten PB&J sandwiches toys, blocks and a big comfy couch. And we do have a big fenced-in yard with a swing set (it was free!), a Barbie Dream House super spy head-quarters, a mini-van cozy coupe and a tractor to ride on.

We also have many worms (who apparently love riding in trucks)
and many places to dig in our outdoor playroom.

I don't have a craft room to host a craft night, but I do have a big dining room table to spread fabric on. And hardwood floor space to be able to lay chicken wire on frames for stapling.

Our dining room can't host a huge Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it can host 12 children eating PB&Js and apple slices. And it can comfortably seat a few tired mamas as they sip coffee, nurse babies and chat while their little ones scream and fight and spill goldfish crackers all over the place quietly play. And during the more pleasant months we can host a pretty great birthday party, open house, baby shower, cocktail party, girl's night or grill-out in that back yard of ours. It lights up beautifully with lights hanging from the tree.

I love LOVE loVe having playdates at my house.

It's better feeding kids outside anyway
Grilling out was so fun this summer. Especially when uncle pete and auntie m were here.

Our cocktail party last year. 
Christmas was nice and cozy last year. I think we had a little under 20 people over.
We ate in shifts at the dining room table. We made it work, and everyone was happy.

So if you are like me, and you love opening your home to those around you, never let insecurities like oh my house is too small stop you from doing so. Change your heart, be thankful that you have a space to invite people in to. Change your mindset, your house is good enough (even if it is only big enough to invite one small family over, or even a couple of friends or neighbors).

I want to encourage you to open up your space and let people in. You can start with me and my family. Or just me. (Or just my kids? My kids would love to come and be in your space. I would love for them to come and be in your space too. Preferably on a Friday night... )

Okay, it's late. That was just on my heart and I felt like sharing. I am in a season of trying to be more joyful and thankful. That ish is hard, but I am working on it. 

Good night friends.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Speak life.

Today I had to take Max in to the doctor for the third time about a rash that he has. I had to rush around to find a babysitter for the other kids, and it was just really inconvenient for me. I was so fortunate to have a neighbor come to my rescue and keep an eye on the other kids while we were gone. I was also fortunate to be witness to something cool that I wanted to share.

We got to the doctor's office (and being that we live in the city and utilize our local clinics, grocery stores, etc.) Max and I were surrounded by all different nationalities and socioeconomic statuses. I love it. I love hearing the different languages. I love that I may not speak someone else's language but that I can still be warm and friendly by smiling. I love that Max is playing along side of a child who's parents are from the other side of the world.

There was a very young couple sitting with a little girl that was maybe a year old. My heart ached as I thought about how difficult it must be to be so young and already have a little one. Then the nurse brought out a newborn and handed him to the two young parents. She told them that the baby did very well but that now he is hungry and needs to breast feed. I am assuming the baby had just gotten circumcised.

The young little mama went back with the nurse to feed her baby and the dad and other little one stayed in the waiting room. Soon the little girl began to fuss and the father asked the security guard if he could go back to the room where the mom and baby were.

The security guard at the clinic is the sweetest man. He's an older man that is always chatting with the regulars in the waiting room. Making small talk and asking people how they are doing. He is warm and welcoming every time we walk in the front door.

Soon the young dad walked back out in to the waiting room alone and sat down. Seconds later the mom came out and said "I can't nurse the baby and watch her at the same time. I need you to help me keep her out here." She seemed frazzled, irritated and exhausted. My heart felt for her. I so know how that feels. Her boyfriend went on to get irritated with her telling her to settle down and that the little girl wants to be with her and that she doesn't need to snap, that this is why he should have just stayed home. That mama just walked her little girl up to him, handed her off and went back to finish feeding her newborn.

The security guard was standing there near the dad and the dad vented to him. Saying he can't handle much more of this and that he can't stand when she acts like this. The security guard went on to say "Yeah man, I know. I been dealing with the same woman now for over 24 years."

I caught myself feeling mad that the security guard was affirming this guy's bad attitude. But then he went on to tell this young dad, "But you know what? It's all worth it in the end." The dad said "yeah I don't know about that..." and the security guard went on to speak life in to this young lost dad. He went on to tell him that it IS all worth it in the end when the kids are there for you since you were there for them. He told him that he's just gotta hang in there. He didn't sit there and belittle him, or tell him that he was wrong to feel what he was feeling. He just affirmed him by telling him that yes it is hard, that he understood, that he had been there, and that you get through it.

The dad listened and agreed. He picked up his little girl and told the security officer to let his girlfriend know what he was walking around with the little girl in the lobby.

After the dad left I turned to that sweet older man and told him "Thank you. Thank you for speaking life in to that daddy and encouraging him." He went on to tell me that young African American dads need all the encouragement they can get. He told me that most of them don't know what they are doing since their dads left long ago. He told me about how he had to be a single dad for a few years to his SIX KIDS when his wife got depressed and hooked on drugs.

Just let that sink in.

We spend so much time judging people and assuming things about them. We think we know their story and we group them with everyone else that looks and acts like them. We just shake our heads or turn our cheek and hope for the best.

And then here is this security guard. Doing his job keeping the clinic safe. Speaking truth and life in to people who need just a kind greeting, or advice on life. Who knows if what he said changed the course of that young man's outlook on life and parenthood? Or if it even made a difference at all? It doesn't matter.

He is going above and beyond the position and job he has been entrusted with. And I am sure he is making a difference in this world one conversation at a time.

Today he is my hero. I hope I can be more like him.
Our words are so powerful. Speak life. Speak truth. Speak understanding.
We all have such amazing life stories that give us credit when circumstances arise that we can attest to.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Good moms have sticky floors...

Last week I went to Gordman's and found a candle on sale for only $4. I have another one just like it that also has a funny saying on it ("Excuse the mess, my children are busy making memories" or something like that...) and I love it because it's like a $25 candle that lasts forever. It also smells really good and so I was glad to find another one. 

"Good moms have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids"

The aroma is not only pleasant  but it also affirms me as a mom of three young boys in this season of life...

Exhibit A.
Exhibit B.
Exhibit C.

Exhibit D.
And to that I say:

nailed it!

(I also know really GOOD MOMS 
who have sparkly clean stove tops,
hardwood floors you can see your reflection in
and SUPER happy kiddos.) 

For this mom that is embarrassed at times by 
the floors and
annoyed by the stove top, this message
makes my day. It's my message of grace.

Now I should probably go clean the top of my stove. Luckily Matt mopped this weekend;)

On another note, My birthday week is still under way. Yesterday was the official day and it was lovely. I have officially completed the first year in my 30s. Being that I am 31 now, I guess I am officially in my 30 somethings. When did I become a grown up?? I look forward to doing a post about my birthday adventures that included and will have included dressing up like I was going to prom, a 24 hour trip to Princeton, wining and dining with my LP, a kid friendly birthday complete with donuts, a family party and a cider date with my birthday buddy, etc. etc.  

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A heart check and house update

Hey. How's your heart? Mine is a little sad. But a little happy too. 

This week has been a little rough. This time of the year is always hard. It's both the anniversary of my father's death and my birthday. If you are new to my blog or do not know the story of what happened to my dad, you can read the post I did a year ago here

He has been gone three years now.  

My heart hurts. 

When the weather begins to change as fall creeps in, I start to feel the sadness deep in my bones. Sometimes I don't even realize what it is until I glance at the calendar and notice the approaching of September 17th (the day he went in to the hospital.) Then I remember to take it easy, allow plenty of grace for myself, and just allow it to come in waves. Each year it gets easier. Time really does heal.

My heart is happy too.

I have been keeping busy doing things that I love and making my house pretty. We painted the first floor back in the spring but we never really "finished". I feel like it;s almost done. I got some frames hung up in the dining room finally, and now I just need to figure out what to put IN the frames. 

First I traced the frames and cut out pieces of paper that represented them. Then I had a friend come over, and did lots of texting with other friends for second and third opinions. Everyone agreed that this was the layout. 

Then I moved on to Max's room. I wanted to do a little gallery wall near his bed. I kept it simple. I found the lanterns at Target this summer for $3. I got the "M" at JoAnne's Fabric yesterday for $1.49 (they were on sale) and I spray painted it. I already had the black frame with my grandfather's photo in it, and I also already had the white and red frames that I bought this summer from Ikea. The green frame is from Gordman's and I got it a couple of weeks ago for only $4 (it was waaaaay on sale). Lighting wasn't the greatest when I took the pictures, but, you get the idea.

We''l probably change out the picture of Max once I get another 5x7 print. 

I'm a sucker for vintage kid's books and it was perfect when I found
this page had fallen out of one of our books. 

Max had a pretty good day at school yesterday (with minimal tears!) so he earned some Ipod time.
He really loves the new layout. (Yes my son has an Amish heater and yes that door is screwed shut so that
he can't chill out on the tiny little death-trap old deck that is on the back of our house, just FYI)

Next up was Gabriel and Eli's room. I painted their room a light gray last year, and made bright red curtains with vintage dogs on them. I hadn't really hung anything on their walls, and so I decided to go ahead and do their gallery wall too.
The "G" could stand for "grateful", "good", "gratitude", "gross", and, of course, "G-UNIT"...
But mostly it stand for "Gabriel".
This little circus mouse print I got from etsy. I love that it looks like a page from a French vintage children's book.  The E is for our little Eli, and that dangerous weapon gold cross with the praying child is an addition that I had to hang up mostly because I have tried to get rid of it a dozen times and I just can't. I feel bad throwing it in the garbage. Mostly because it's a cross, and also because it is dangerously heavy and sharp and could severely hurt the nice garbage man. My children use it as a sword whenever they find it and dig it out of the Goodwill bag. So for now, there it shall hang.

It's not quite finished yet, but we got a good start. I got the "G" and "E" at JoAnne's this last summer. I finally spray painted them. Gabe loves his big G.

This is not new, but I thought I would show this too. It's hanging above Eli's crib. Just a piece of twine, a couple of nails and some little clothe's pins. Easy. I got the prints online. They are Instagrams. 

And that's all I got.

I'm looking forward to birthday celebrations beginning tomorrow night with a group of friends. Next week comes more fun outings  I'm so thankful for friends and family who embrace me and love me through this bittersweet time of the year. 

I just made a facebook page for my blog, so make sure to like it here! I will post more bloggy stuff there rather than mucking up the feeds of old high school acquaintances and people who don't care about kids and houses and pintrest projects:)

Happy Thursday y'all. 

Friday, September 13, 2013

beauty and fullness in the brokeness

Today was the first day that it has actually felt like fall. After I sent my emotional boy off on the school bus I decided to forego the breakfast dishes and other morning tasks, and load the kids up in to the car. I decided to bring the kids over to this little park that we love over by our church off of Hamline and Selby. It's a sweet little park tucked in to this little nook near a bridge that is under construction. It is designed for kids ages 2-5, and with the construction of the bridge, the kids have full view of all the happenings going on with the huge equipment and busy "worker guys". This park is a favorite for my kids.

Whenever I go to the park, especially if I am not meeting up with other mamas, I always look forward to chatting with parents there. So what's your playground pick-up line? Mine is "So.... do you guys live around here?" or “So how old is your little one?” HA! Seriously. Those are my playground parent pick-up lines. And seriously you need to figure out what yours is because it is so awesome to connect with new people, especially people in similar stages and phases.

Do you think I am crazy? I'm not... I swear. I just like people. A lot.

We all have such amazing life stories. I love hearing about people's lives. And I love sharing my life stories (when people want to know it, of course.)

When we got to the park we had the whole place to ourselves. So I checked my email stayed busy chasing little ones around, sipped on my coffee, and inhaled the sweet crisp air of our newly arriving autumn. Soon a young hippy dad with a head full of dreads neatly tucked in to his rastacap came around the corner, carrying his little boy. I almost had tears in my eyes as I watch this dad play with his boy: helping him to climb, holding his hand as he walked down the stairs, chasing him around…. all from his wheelchair.

I was so curious about his story. His little boy was about the same age as Eli.  I used my line. “So do you guys live around here?”  He explained that they just lived across the street, and that they come here often. I explained that our neighborhood park is connected to a school so that we had to venture out of the ‘hood during the school year to play.

Then slowly we started up a conversation and I got to hear one of the most beautiful life stories I had ever heard. He had gotten a spinal cord injury only two years ago. He fell from a tree. His son was born just months after. Things didn’t work out between him and his girlfriend, so he now lives with his loving and supportive parents as he is finding his way in this world as a dad, a musician, a student and a paraplegic.

He talked to me about what it was like when he was in a coma for three weeks. He let me ask questions about what it was like, and if he remembered anything during that time. I had always been curious as to if my dad was aware of anything during his short time in a coma, and it actually  really helped me to hear what his experience was like.  He let me ask him about what his grief was like after he learned and fully understood that he would never walk again. He let me ask lots of questions. He was totally transparent. I got to hear about how his experience has helped him to grow, become more spiritual, become more grateful and even more hopeful. It was so powerful. His genuine smile testified to his joy. This was real joy.  He talked about how it’s a choice each day to be positive and to venture out, and that his son has been such a gift during the trials. “If it weren't for him, I’d probably be inside playing video games all day” he said.  Instead he was at a park playing in the sun with his boy.

I got to share bits and pieces of my story too. About my dad, about how we lived with my parent’s for a season too. We shared so many commonalities: we both attested to having great parents, good relationships with our siblings, awesome boys, human services majors, love for our kids, etc. I left that park feeling so happy and inspired.

We are all so broken. Some of us have broken spirits, broken hearts, broken bodies, broken relationships, broken families.

So what do we do with the brokenness? Do we allow it to consume us and bring us down? Or do we allow beauty to come out of it? We have to find fullness again. It will look different, but we are able to be made new again even after the most tragic of life circumstances.

This guy was a perfect example of this. Even though he was broken, he radiates beauty and fullness through the life that he is establishing and choosing to live every day.

So what’s the glue that puts you back together after the brokenness?  

My glue? My God.

My husband can’t fix my brokenness. My mama can’t either (and moms are supposed to be able to fix EVERYTHING!) Only God has what it takes to put me back together.
Today I am thankful that out of brokenness there can come beauty and (even stronger!) fullness.

Find your glue people, and slather it on.


super mom to the rescue... well sort of.

Wednesday afternoon Max brought a note home from his teacher telling me about his difficult morning. He was weepy and telling his teacher that he missed his mom and that he wanted to go home. They worked through it and he did well for the remainder of the day. She even asked me what she could do to help him when he feels homesick. Hmmm... I dunno. He was never like this in kindergarten.

Max and I talked it through, and I thought all was well.

Then Thursday morning I was on my way to visit some friends, and about 10 minutes in to the drive I get a call from an unknown number. The lady on the other end asks "SIERRRRRA? Soy Julita." She went on to ask if I spoke Spanish. I said "um, un... poco?" In a very thick Spanish accent she explained that she was the school nurse and that Max was not well. That he had a tummy ache but no fever, that he was sobbing and that I needed to talk to him to figure out a plan. She handed the phone over to my boy.

"MOm? I need you. I am sick. Pleeeeease come for me mom?"

I told the nurse I'd be there in 10 minutes.

When I got there, Max was curled up on the cot still crying. Julita pulled me aside and explained that she didn't believe that he was ill, but that he was so worked up, and probably anxious, and that she didn't think that he would be able to function for the rest of the day. Max's teacher agreed. I was so grateful that they allowed me to come and pick him up. There is no better feeling in the world than when you get to rescue your son from the cot in the nurses office.

As soon as we pulled out of the driveway of the school. Little Max was feeling fine and his tummy "doesn't hurt anymore!"

We talked through out the day about it, and when I told him he had to go back today, he began to weep again, telling me how much he loves me and needs to be near me and how he just wants me to be his teacher, like Cooper's mom (my friend Hannah is home-schooling her son, Max's friend). I told him I am not a teacher. And that part of life in our family, is going to school. Part of me feels so bad. A whole day away is a long time for a little six year old boy.

But it's life. And part of my job as a parent is to teach my kids to be independent and to be able to be on their own someday. Some families are called to home-schooling, and hey! All the power to you home-schooling families! I am not called to home-school though, and so I need to be creative at how I help Max to adjust to his future in our public education system.

I told Max that I would put together a little care-package for him to have at school.
Here is what I packed in the envelope:

  1. A card. One side daddy drew a cool airplane, the other side mama drew our family and a note about how he is brave and that his family is with him in his heart.
  2. A "rope" friendship bracelet to help remind him that he is strong and brave.
  3. A picture of him sipping coffee at home (I think he had stolen my mug that morning...)
  4. A picture of the sun shining bright near our house, to remind him that he is my sunshine.
  5. A picture of his uncle Gil (since I happened to have one handy, don't take offense Sam and Davey)
  6. A square of boppa's old shirt (my daddy)

I didn't want to send any real photos of me or dad, because I thought that would just make it harder. Hopefully this little packet of love (along with our prayers for comfort and peace) will help him to have a successful day at school.

My heart aches knowing that he is anxious about it, but I am confident that this is just one of many more hurdles that we will have victory over in the many more school years ahead of us.

Here we gooooo!

He just left. He was in good spirits. Praying he makes it through the day.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

sometimes His mercies are new at night too.

just a little update.

I didn't put Gabriel down for a nap today, and Eli only napped for an hour. For dinner I made spaghetti, and I made sure those kids ate til they were full. After dinner we ran those kids hard at the neighborhood park. Maybe a little too hard... Gabe's face got smashed. We just ran them hard, we did not smash Gabe's face. Gabe did it. Or maybe it was Max (on accident of course as they were pouring sand down the slide, making the ride faster... oh boys.) We don't think his nose is broken, but it's swollen and we are keeping an eye on it. Yikes...

When we got home, I offered snacks. They ate some more. (Last night Eli was up half the night sobbing, and then he finally told me he needed a banana. Poor little dude was hungry! Growth spurt maybe?)

So hunger was out of the way. Sleepiness was earned. Next step was showers and then...

I was keeping positive about bedtime tonight. I was.

We read.
We sang.
We prayed.

Gabriel and Eli were out by 8:14pm. BOOM.

Then I got to snuggle with my biggest boy and assure him that tomorrow is a new day, and that he is going to have a fantastic day at school. Today was hard for him. I'll explain tomorrow.

Thank you Jesus that your mercies are new every morning, and even at night sometimes too.

Matthew and I even got to have a movie date in the living room. So now everyone will have gone to bed with full bellies, happy hearts, and feeling loved and cared for.

good night.


This summer was wonderful. God showed me so many awesome miracles and taught me many valuable lessons. Hopefully I'll get to sharing some of those stories with you all. 

I go through periods of time where I don't blog... for many reasons. 
Sometimes it's because I have nothing to say. 
Sometimes it's because I have too much to say.
Sometimes it's because I have nothing nice to say. 
Sometimes it's because I am busy and sometimes it's because I need to nap during nap time (or be creative and make things, or waste time on pintrest, or just rest while listening to sappy country songs or Jesus music, etc. etc.)

Now that fall is here, I feel like the routine is all jumbled up all over again, so now I need to find the time to squeeze in some blogging again as I am trying to find some structure among the messiness and craziness of a new school year. 

My first grader!
So HI! How are YOU? How wasYOUR summer? What did you experience/learn/suffer through/gain/create/etc? Who did you meet/visit/host/hug/see?

You need to think about it? Okay while you are thinking about it, I'll go first.

  • I experienced many days at the wading pool with four (sometimes SIX!) kids and other mamas and friends.

Our house was full this summer!

  • I learned that God's provision is perfect, and that money ain't no thang to Him. 
  • I suffered through many hot days with a janky airconditioning unit. And survived :)
  • I gained a yellow kitchen, a pretty good tan, minty green nail polish, some new parenting skillz and a Barbie Dream House spy head quarters for the boys' action figures.

  • I created a chalk board sign for my porch, a few baby quilts, a stuffed bunny, a baby shower and some dang good banana bread.

A baby quilt for LP's little girl who will be here in a couple of weeks (if not sooner!)
Look at my glowing LP! At her baby shower I hung up frames with pictures of her as a babe.
It was hot as heck, but we survived.

  • I met many new friends including another mama in my 'hood who hosts a house church with her husband that Matthew and I are attending now. We met lots of cool people that are part of their church community. 

(**We are not leaving our church Bethel Christian Fellowship, this church meets on Sunday afternoons**)

On Labor Day we grilled out with a bunch of new friends.

  • I got to visit with lots of family and old friends at weddings and grad parties, baby showers and playdates.

We got to see Sara, Aria and friends!

  • We also got to host an African couple from the Congo and my friend Bridget and her family from Mexico.

Pastor Vincent and Martha

  • I got to hug my long-lost friend for life Bridget. It was our first hug in over 8 years! She and her family stayed with us for a few days. Twelve of us ate, played and slept in our little 1300 square foot house, and it could not have gone better! 

Bridget and I served as dorm mothers together at Esperanza Viva in Puebla, Mexico.
I also got to see and hug the Madsen family! Marty and Mary were like parents to me while I was in Mexico.
Alright. We're all caught up now.

So where am I at now?
I am in a season I like to think of as swears+prayers

This mothering thing got super hard when Max went back to school. 
I am just barely making it through here, man

Did I mention that Eli turned two this summer?

Mornings are nice and sweet. We aren't rushed and we have a sweet little walk in the morning sun to the bus stop just down at the corner. I get to chat with my neighbors and the kids play til the bus arrives. 
The day goes by quickly with naps in the afternoon. I have even been staying on top of dishes and most of the house work during the day. Not bad right?

Then 3:20pm comes along. Maximo gets home and ish hits the fan. The fights start. The whining begins. "I'm hungry/I'm bored/You're not my best friend anymore!" are the most frequently spoken words. Matthew gets home, he is tired too. It's dinner time. What the heck is for dinner? If you ask my kids, it's whatever they are going to hate the most that night. So they refuse to eat, and I refuse to be a short-order cook. Then it's bedtime. And, as I said, since the school routine has kicked in, changes have come in many areas. This includes bedtime hour which is 8 now, instead of 9. (**And yes we began the transition before the night before the first day of school**)  And coincidentally Eli learned how to climb out of his crib last week. So bedtime now = the most dreaded part of my day. I read books. I sing many songs. I pray. I am sweet and gentle and kind. And it's like, these kids CAN NOT go to bed until they get a peak of angry mean mama. And that's what they get

My patience dwindles, and in my mind begin the prayers+swears. 
I speak neither of them out loud. 

And I yell. Then I apologize, and then it goes on and on, back and forth until 9:30pm. 
Because Eli will not stay in his bed and Gabriel follows. 

I'm just being real here folks. I am not asking for solutions. I am working on the solutions. I'm confiding in strong mamas (including my own mama who is a behavioral specialist), so I got a good team around me. 

Today I got together with a couple of my good friends (who are also boy moms) and we discussed a parenting book we are reading together. We have our own book club and we feel so cool about it :)
Over amazing coffee (and the screams and giggles of our children) we got to share our struggles and our victories, and we ended it in some short-but-sweet prayer time. 

Friends, coffee, prayer, kids, parenting books...

So I am encouraged. And I am ready to take on the rest of this day with a positive mind and changed heart. I am equipped to do this. 
You are too. 
I will not settle for the chaos and stress. I am asking (and expecting) for good things to come of this season. 

Soon the swears will be fewer, but the prayers will always continue to be plentiful. 
Through it all God meets me right where I am at, understanding me and standing by my side. He's strong enough to hear the deepest cries of my heart. He loves me no matter what. He knows what it's like to have disobedient, ungrateful, mean and difficult children. He has 7.108 billion of them! 

I bet God doesn't get all bent out of shape when his kids cut each other's hair though...
Maximo and Gabriel decided that enough was enough and that Eli needed a haircut.
They are grounded for life. 

One day at a time. 
His mercies are new every morning.

(Thanks for hanging in there and reading along. I know this was a long one.)

hope to be back soon.

If you want an update on how the day ended... 
you can find out here.