Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Mama... you are beautiful: Heidi

This week has gotten off to a slow start, and look! Now it is half way over already. Our weekend was exhausting. And I still feel like I am recovering.

How do you recover from hard weekends? Me? I do so in a couple of ways.

I use the kids' nap/quiet time to rest myself. I don't do dishes. I don't sweep up the mess under the table from lunch (okay, and breakfast, and maybe even from dinner from the night before...) Maybe I'll actually take a nap. Maybe I'll work on my blog. Maybe I'll read. Maybe I'll shower. Whatever it is, I take that hour or two and enjoy some peace and quiet.

Another way I recover, is to spend time with friends. When Monday rolls around after a crazy/busy/stressful weekend, I love to connect with my girls. Some people need space from other humans after the craziness. Not me. I love company.

Luckily Heidi was scheduled to come and visit with her three boys.

And luckily she agreed to be a beautiful mama for me this week (she's a beautiful mama all the time.)

Heidi and I met before either of us had kids. She intrigued me. She intimidated me. She challenged me. She made me laugh. I first got to know her when we organized a young couple's camping trip. On the trip I learned that she wanted to be a missionary, and that she did not want kids. Soon I was pregnant. Soon after that she was pregnant. Soon after that I was pregnant again, and soon after that she was pregnant, again. This time with TWINS! Then soon after that I was pregnant again. Together, her and I have SIX BOYS combined. She's come a long way from "we aren't having kids." :)

Another significant life experience that we share, is that we both lost our dads. Within exactly one year. On September 20th, 2010 my dad died. September 23rd she was at my dad's funeral. On September 20th, 2011 her dad died. And on September 23rd I was at her dad's funeral. I am so grateful that we have had each other to go through this awful awful grief with. I have her to go to with emotions that not many can understand. 

Heidi has dealt with much grief and loss through out her lifetime, but through it God has molded her in to a strong and passionate individual who loves the Lord, loves missions, loves people, and who loves being a mom and wife. She is a good writer and has a great blog. Check it out here. It's called The Spicy Mustard Seed. 

Here is a glimpse in to Heidi's world.

Heidi's twins Beckett and Theodore, 2 years.
Don't you love her bangs? Me too... because I cut them!

What do you love about being a mama? 
I love being able to watch my kids grow up. I love watching them learn new things and experience the world around them. And the snuggles. And that each day comes with its own new joy and wonder. It's a good reminder.
Boy pile!
What gets you through the day when things get hard? 
I break the day up into segments, for example: X amount of hours until nap-time or X amount of hours until Tim gets home. I also try to be mindful that naughty behaviors can be molded into assets for the kingdom of God. The naughty boy who doesn't want to listen? Maybe he's meant to be a justice fighter.

If you could change one thing about yourself or your life what would it be? 
I wish I was more patient.
How do you self preserve? 
Time alone. I try to take a few minutes during nap-time to do whatever I want. I run. I cook. I like to sit in the quiet.
What stories do you read and what songs do you sing at bedtime? 
Boys pick out their own books. We sing made-up songs to the tunes of well-known songs. Tim doesn't do that. Only I do. He thinks it's weird. The boys love it though.

Such a good mama, lathering up her white babies in sunscreen,
Saying bye after another successful momdate playdate. 
Hope you all have a great rest of the week. Not sure if I will have enough energy to get another blog out in the next few days. We'll see. So, see ya on the flip side friends.

Peace out.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Healthy family Trait Monday: table time and conversation

The most dreadful thought of the day sometimes is "What's for dinner?" Matt HATES when I ask him "babe? What should we do for dinner?" I ask him that a lot. My daddy was a chef. A good chef. I inherited none of those genes. Any and all cooking that I do is self taught, or researched from pintrest. It does not come naturally. 

Honestly, dinner time in our house is usually more dreadful than pleasant. 

It starts off well. Simple recipe from pintrest. Mom's making a good healthy dinner.
Cue the "DANG I'm a good mama!!" vibe.

It usually turns out well. I place it all pretty on the plate to
accentuate my work of art. Dad would be proud of my presentation.

Kids ask for gobs of ranch. Hey, whatever makes them eat it, right?
Then the first goofy sip is taken, and I know it's all
gonna hit the fan soon.
This is not going to be good.
Cue the gurgling of milk.
Cue mom and dad starting to get irritated.
Cue the toddler who can climb out of his highchair
and who now will spend the next ten minutes whining at mom's side until
she gives in and allows him to just eat fish crackers and apple sauce.
 Wait, what's this week's trait? Oh great...

5. The healthy family values table time and conversation.

Okay, so this is an area that we need work. A. Lot. Of work. I think it's because we have small children. I hope it gets easier as they get older.

In one of the books that I started reading a while back called Secrets to Happy Families by Bruce Feiler, he talked about how there is really only 10 minutes during dinner time that is productive communication. All the other words spoken at dinner time are about, well, dinner. "Pass the milk, please." or "May I please have more brussel spouts, mother?" As long as your family gets even that 10 minutes of meaningful talk time in each day, your family will be, in general, more happy with each other. 

Well, in this family, I think we get 2.7 minutes of meaningful talk time during meals. Maybe. The other 6-10 minutes that we are able to keep all three kids seated is filled with "eat that! Don't spill! Vegetables are GOOD for you! They help you get HUGE muscles! No you can't have apple sauce. Do you need more ranch? No you can't have cookies for dinner. Sit on your BOTTOM. Grab a towel and wipe it up! Use your napkin... NOT YOUR SHIRT!!!(or NOT MY SHIRT!) Sit down! You may not leave the table until we are all finished. Don't pick your nose. Now go wash your hands... and then come back to the table and eat your brussel sprouts."

Check out this quote from the book:

A recent wave of research shows that children who eat dinner with their families are less likely to drink, smoke, do drugs, get pregnant, commit suicide, and develop eating disorders. Additional research found that children who enjoy family meals have larger vocabularies, better manners, healthier diets, and higher self-esteem. The most comprehensive survey done on this topic, a University of Michigan report that examined how American children spent their time between 1981 and 1997, discovered that the amount of time children spent eating meals at home was the single biggest predictor of better academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Mealtime was more influential than time spent in school, studying, attending religious services, or playing sports.

But no pressure...

Dinner time is not my favorite part of the day. Meal times in general are not. When we were on vacation, that was one of the things I loved most: meal times were stress-free, peaceful, full of meaningful conversation and laughter, and kidless quiet. 

I'm just being real. 

Okay, so, that is my challenge this week: I will try to value table time and conversation. It's obviously kind of a big deal right? 

Are you up for the challenge? ]

Me either, but I'll try if you do. Hey, what better night to start than tonight?! Funday Monday. I leave at 5pm for Zumba. So I will gladly pass the challenge on to Matthew tonight;)

Peace out. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

Mama... you are beautiful: Emily

Last night Eli was up in the night, sick, again. I was exhausted , and it was one of those mornings when I have no idea how I am going to survive the day. I wasn't feeling good either, but, mom's don't get sick days. So on with our day we went. Plans for today changed five times. I had two very disappointed boys who thought they were going to get to visit with their friends. But we had to cancel. So we went to the park with Aly and her little boy, and the boys played with their new shovels and buckets while I held Eli and commiserated with my equally tired friend. 

Then we were off to celebrate my LP's birthday. 

(LP= lifepartner for those that don't know me well. Emily and I have been best friends forever and in 10th grade we started an inside joke about being lifepartners. It stuck and 15 years later, we continue to refer to each other as LP. When my mom talks about Em she refers to her as "your lifepartner". When her mother writes cards to me, she writes "Dear lifepartner daughter."When I got married her dad told us "ya know, now that Sierra is getting married, you guys can't be lifepartners anymore." My dad would always roll his eyes when I referred to her as LP. She's my bestest bestest friend. "Best friend" just didn't quite explain us. It's nothing weird folks, it's just our thing)

We made a date to meet at Java Train Cafe for ice cream and she let me use her as my next beautiful mama since this October she is having her first baby! And luckily for me IT'S A GIRL!! When she told me I cried happy happy tears. If I didn't have my own daughter, the next best thing is having your LP have one for you. I can't wait for her baby to get here. 

She's six months along already!

So, as I stated before, Emily is one of my closest friends. We go way back. We met in homeroom at Como Park High School. We became friends in 10th grade. Her mom was like a second mom to me. I was at her house all the time. We stayed close all through high school. We listened to 112 and Jagged Edge. We shared Gap perfume and ate lots of Taco Bell. She played sports, I worked at a beauty salon. We got in to a little trouble, but for the most part we were good girls. 

As adults we laugh at how completely opposite we are. She's organized. I'm not.  She plans ahead for everything. I fly by the seat of my pants. Her purse is neat and tidy inside. Mine, not so much. Her gas tank never falls below 1/2 empty. Mine is always skimming the top of the red line. She likes the citrus skittles. I like the berry ones. 

Here she is explaining that someone tried to comfort her by reminding her
 "at least you aren't pregnant for two years like elephants are!"
 To which she replied "yeah well elephants don't have to wear dress pants to work."

Max and Em showing off their bellies

Can her yellow flats be any cuter?

Proud mama-to-be

Okay, So here it is. Thoughts from my Lp.

Will you call your daughter Princess?
You already know I can't call my daughter princess! I think I was treated as the little boy in my family, so it's ingrained in me to give funny nicknames instead of feminine ones. My husband probably will, but that's not really up my alley. i can't imagine myself doing that at all.

Will you ever buy your daughter sparkly Dora the Explorer shoes? 
No. I don't think I will ever buy my daughter anything pink, or sparkly or tiaras or any of that stuff. I'm just not very girly, so that type of thing drives me nuts.
(This is why her daughter will have me, an auntie LP, to braid her hair and buy her sparkly tiaras and pink dresses. In the same way that Emily bought Max his first pair of baseball pants and baseball socks)

What is your biggest fear about being a mom for the first time?
I think it's two fold. Part of it is the logistics of everything. How do you know when to start your kids in sports? How do you get them enrolled in school? Just the day to day stuff that is expected of you as a parent.The other part? The baby's whole world is going to be ME. I am worried about being stretched too thin. I have a husband, a step-son, and a large extended family that depends on me. I never want to have the mentality that I just want my baby to be older or to be independent just so that I feel like I can keep up with it all.

How has your husband been showing you support through your pregnancy?
He let's me figure out that I am acting crazy, without actually telling me that I am acting crazy. There was an instance that the dog pooped in the basement and I was weeping and decided we needed to get rid of her, that THAT was finally IT. He said "Emily, you need to  calm down a little." I told him NOPE we're done. With out him telling me that I was straight up crazy, he lets me figure out by myself that my behavior is not rational. And that is helpful to me. He entertains my crazy ideas, but then let me figure out on my own that they are not feasible.

Do you feel cute as a preggo?
I feel cute... when clothed. I don't feel attractive. When I see myself naked I'm like HOLY HELL what's happening to my body?! But it really does balance out my backside pretty well. I can't really complain, fortunately I haven't gained any weight at this point, and I am six months pregnant. So, baby girl is living off my plentiful reserves I have stored up. I think I am wearing makeup more, to help myself feel better. But, I wouldn't say I feel attractive.

So there ya have it, some perspective from a new mama-to-be.
I'm off to bed. Tomorrow I get to do the hair and makeup for a Bhutanese bride and her wedding party!

Have a great weekend everyone!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

there's a pb&j in my dish sponge holder... no lie.

Today is a hard day. So was yesterday.

All the little things, piling up and making me just mad. I was going to turn some of today's happenings in to another "I love you because" post, with all the little things that my family does that I am choosing not to be annoyed by.

But today, they are just plain annoying me.

Ain't nothin cute about a half eaten PB&J (and actually it's an AB&J since I used 'spensive almond butter on that sammie. GAH!) in my DISH SPONGE HOLDER. Really? Who does this? How did they even reach? It is behind my sink. Not within reach for a small child. Ya can't make this stuff up people.
Then what does my boy do right in front of me? He draws on the wall. With a pencil. RIGHT ABOVE THE BEAUTIFUL NEW CHALK BOARD WALL. Two inches lower and it woulda been fair game. COME ON!
Maybe he was drawing a picture of his lovely mother on this lovely day.
Last night I was up in the night with poor Eli as he puked his little baby guts out. Poor kid. So he's been clinging on me today. And his diapers have been... mmm... let's just say... unpleasant.
I'm wearing a summer dress today. Not 'cause I'm a cute  stay-at-home-mom,
but because there is no clean laundry.
Here's when my annoyingly encouraging BFF would say "Si-eeeerrrrr-uuuuh? Tell me one good thing." And I would tell her "oh shut up Hilary" and she would say "okaaaay. Text me your one good thing later when you thiiiink of iiiiiit." Shut up Hilary.

Okay Hil. Here's your one good thing for the day.

It's sunny. And I actually swept the floor today. There's two things.

AAAaaaaand Eli just spilled water ALL. over. ME.

And now he just dumped all the blocks out. Again.

Got's to go.

Tomorrow will be better?

I'm just trying to make it through the rest of this day. Hope your day is going alright. You'll make it through too. We all will.

Peace out.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mama... you are beautiful: Aly and Sara

Another rainy day in Minnesota called for another long day stuck in the house. What better way to pass the day than to do so with two other moms and their bored kids. We piled the kids on to the front porch and got to catch up as we sipped coffee and got a few minutes of peace...  then the kids all went crazy and started fighting and we had to allow them in to the house to color and play with play dough. Momdate turned into an all our playdate. Oh well. We tried. 

I'm so excited about this Mama... you are beautiful series that I am just going to continue to post them as the playdates and meet ups continue to naturally happen this summer. My poor friends. They don't even know my plan. So I completely catch them off guard with questions and pictures. They have all been good sports so far:)

So today, I would like to introduce you to my pretty sweet tattooed mama friends:

Last year when we were getting pretty desperate to find a house, we came to this sweet little house on Englewood and fell in love upon walking through the front door. I scoped out the neighboring houses wondering what the neighbors were like. When I saw their garage (that looks like a barn complete with a life-size COW on the door), I was expecting a country decor lovin' cat lady. Nothing wrong with cat ladies, but I was pleasantly surprised to move in and meet our tattoo covered super hip neighbors Aly (and  her husband Tigger.) Aly and I have become like sisters over the last year. She is a dream come true. We corral our kids into our fenced-in back yard and spend many afternoons eating paleo baked goods and allowing our kids to learn to play without their moms pushing them on the swings or hoisting them in to the tree. We do a good job of teaching our kids to be independent when they play:) We share coconut oil and avocados. She also has a really cool job. She is a home birth midwife. Check out her website here

Aly and Jakey, 2. Her daughter Kira is at day camp.

What do you love about being a mom?
I love watching my children develop in to who they are.

What do you love about being a midwife?
I love watching women transform in to mothers as they welcome their first or additional babies. I love having the intrinsic knowledge of how strong and capable women in labor are. I love seeing babies born gently and welcomed in to their families at home. 

Who influenced how you parent?
I don't feel like there is any one person that has influenced me. I try to respond to the needs of my kids as they're presented. Sometimes that means looking at the need behind the behavior. I am not always good at it!

What was your experience with getting pregnant?
I was 32 when I had my daughter and 35 when my son was born. It took us two years to get pregnant with our daughter, and only four months with our son. We had to work hard to get pregnant. We did a long 28 day detox diet. We cut out wheat, dairy, soy, corn, sugar and booze. The other thing I was doing was getting regular massages.

How do you maintain your marriage in the middle of work and kids?
We started weekly lunch dates instead of therapy. It's cheaper and more enjoyable... and it still serves the purpose of fostering connection.

Tigger joined in on our mom date for a few minutes,
so I had to get a "marriage maintenance" shot.
Isn't that precious.

Sara and I were introduced through a mutual friend. When I saw her I thought mmm, yeah, she's nice, but she ain't my type. She wore long skirts and had long long hippy hair. I thought that we probably had nothing in common. Judgmental much Sierra? Well Sara and I laugh now because she was thinking the same thing about me! Fast forward six years and six children later, and we are way more alike than different. We are kindred spirits, super close friends. When Sara loves, she loves deeply. I know that she cherishes me, and man oh man do I cherish her. She tells you how is it. Straight, no chaser. She loves Jesus, loves her family, loves to cook meals for huge groups and is a loyal friend. She is a beautiful artist. She lives in a big community house in a neighborhood that not many would prefer to live in. Her house radiates beauty and light in a 'hood that sure needs it. It's pretty cool.

Sara and her newest babe, her daughter Fern, 1 month.

What do you love about being a mama?
That with each child comes an extra portion of love.

What is your biggest struggle these days?
Balancing time for kids, friends, family, art and ministry all while keeping a tidy house!

Do you feel beautiful when you are pregnant?
NO! I think that pregnant women in general are beautiful but no, I did not feel beautiful.

You had three births that didn't go as planned. Do you have any advice for women who's births don't turn out as they had hoped?
It's good to hope and dream about how you want your birth to be - don't stop doing that. BUT. It is not your fault if it doesn't go the way you had hoped. Sometimes things just happen, and you need to be at peace with that.

sweet mama and her little ones: Leif, 3. Fern, 1 month. Zeke, 5.
What does your community look like? Who does it consist of?
We have a lot of support. My husband and three children and I live in a house with six other adults. A couple of them are like family and help out on a regular basis. I also have an amazing tribe of moms who love and support each other. 

Glad I could share these awesome moms with you all.
Have a great afternoon!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Mama... you are beautiful: Sumer + Hannah

I am so excited to start my summer blog series Mama... you are beautiful. I have so many women in my life that I absolutely love and cherish, and I want to feature them. I also look forward to meeting new mamas this summer and featuring them too!

I got this idea one afternoon as I was on my way to pick up Max. My route to pick Max up is very entertaining. I see all kinds of people walking and driving along Minnehaha, then Dale, then Maryland. This particular day, I watched as moms from all kinds of backgrounds walked their kids in strollers, sat with their babies strapped to their chests at bus stops, drove their minivans and picked up their kids from school. I started thinking about that idea that we are all fighting our own battles. We are all going through hard life-circumstances of some sort: self-hatred, body issues, break-ups, tantrums, heartache, anxiety, fertility issues, unplanned pregnancies, betrayal, friends who don't call back, despair, grief, difficult marriages, kids with special needs, bills, uncertainty, bad attitudes, not enough money, broken cars, bald tires, no health insurance, trying to sell a house, husbands who work too many hours, a death, milk stained carpet (!) etc. etc.

But we are all experiencing really wonderful things too: pregnancies and adoption, good health, miracles, happy kids, sweet husbands who pinch your butt once in a while, good friendships, supportive church bodies, hope, faith, love, baby giggles, hugs from our sweet but sweaty boys, girls nights, cars that work, cute toe nails, a new necklace, successful breast feeding, those jeans that you can finally fit back in to, that sun dress that makes you feel like a queen, sun kissed shoulders, good coffee, good sex, good cake!

I love that among all of us with kids, motherhood unifies us. It is what we all have in common. I want to bring that to light. I want us to stop judging each other. I want us to see that we aren't so different from each other.  I want us to step out and make new friends, hear other people's stories. I want us to offer encouragement,  support and understanding to one another.

With this series I will feature moms. I'll take pictures (with my iPhone, no fancy camera here.) I'll ask them five simple questions. And then, in return, I hope you will see that we are all so alike. And oh so different. Simple.

I met with my girls at Highland park this morning. I came so well prepared  I packed lunches the night before, made healthy cookies this morning, had water bottles filled up... DANG I'm a good mom. (This is kinda a big deal, I am never this prepared.)

But then Eli needed to be changed, and I didn't bring a blanket. So when you aren't prepared, you make-do, and use your new garage sale purse as a pseudo changing pad head rest.

Highland park has the scariest slides I have ever seen best slides ever. My kids think they are so brave. I think so too. A million bucks couldn't get me to slide down it. Okay, I would for a million.

So now, without further ado, 
I would like to introduce you to my girls:

Sumer (yes, pronounced like summer)  I met years ago. She married my childhood friend's brother. I actually don't remember when we actually met, all I know is that we have been tight since we were both pregnant in 2007. She is the one that I can laugh with about all the joys of living pay check to pay check. The one who gets me on so many levels. Her smile and laugh radiates joy. She loves my kids. She'd do anything for me. She'd do anything for YOU. She is selfless, she has a total servant's heart. And her little ponytail is absolutely darling. Love me some Sumer.  

Sumer with her babes: Nyla Rae, 5. Zander, 11 months. Malek, 8.
Comforting two at the same time. 

1.) What's the best part about being a mom?
Seeing them become who God intended them to be. being a mom of three and seeing that God's intentions for each of them is different.

2.) What is your favorite feature?
My eyes. I like green eyes.

3.) What does your family love to do together?
Grand Ol' Day and Cinco de Mayo.  On Cinco de Mayo we usually invite friends over, go to the parade and then grill out at our house.
Sumer lives RIGHT by where the big parade happens over on the West Side in St. Paul. For those of you not from 'round here, there is a HUGE celebration every year for Cinco de Mayo. 

4.) What's your signature dinner dish?
Because my family will all eat it: Tater Tot hot dish. I don't care for it, but everyone else LOVES it!

5.) Who has been the biggest influence on how you mother your kids?
Every girlfriend that is a mom influences me in different ways. My mom influences me too. I am like her in so many ways, but really different too.

Now Hannah. This girl I have known for about three years I think? Feels like a lifetime though. We had only been friends a short while when she was the only one I could get a hold of in the middle of the night when my dad was dying. She met me at the hospital at 2 in the morning, and held my little baby Gabriel as I watched my dad's life abruptly end. She was the first person I told "my dad is gone." She cried with me. She prayed with me. She waited with me. She is like a sister to me. We bonded very quickly. She parents similarly. She is Latina with me (haha) and she has always been there to listen and to love me through some very dark times. Sweet sweet Hannah. Love this woman. 

Hannah and her little crew: Cooper, 6. Wesley, 11 moths. Sage, 3.
Hannah and her sweet little Sagie.

1.) When you were a little girl, how many kids did you want to have?
I don't know, I think I always felt like four... there were four in my family and I felt like a family with four kids was complete.

2.) What parenting trait did you inherent from your childhood?
I learned from my dad to discipline out of love. I really understood that as a kid, that when my dad was disciplining us it was because he loved us. "I love you too much to allow you to..."

3.) What is something that you do that makes you think "DANG I'm a good mom."
When my kids spontaneously behave. And when I have clean clothes in their drawers, not just "oh son, check the second pile on the left" in the basement. 

4.) What fictional mom character from T.V. or books did you want to grow up to be like?
Ma Ingalls. She was kind... and resourceful! She could like, make bread out of dirt!

5.) What's the best thing about being a mom?
Those moments when you recognize the potential of who they're going to be, how they are going to impact the world. And being able to take some ownership over that, that I am impacting them.

Hope you enjoyed meeting my friends. Aren't they beautiful? They are pretty awesome. Be prepared. I'm coming after you next.

Have a great afternoon. Only four more hours til bedtime :)


Monday, June 10, 2013

Healthy Family Trait Monday: Respecting Privacy

Happy Monday y'all. It's summer. Can you believe it? I spent the morning at Mattocks Park in St. Paul with some of my favorite mamas. My summer is going to involve many mornings at parks with friends and other moms. Wanna meet up with me? Can't wait for that. I love connecting with other women. The book I'm reading right now talks about how we were not meant to do this mothering thing alone. We are meant to be a part of a community of other women so that we can support each other and help each other out. I have many circles of women that I am a part of. I love visiting with each one. I have groups within my church, groups I have met through other friends, neighbors, family. It's fun to intermingle them, and see other friendships blossom. If you don't do so already, I want to encourage you to get out and spend time with other moms this summer! 

Okay, so back to the trait of the week:

4.The healthy family respects 
the privacy of one another.

In our house, we are teaching our boys about privacy. I think that privacy looks different in every family. I have no judgments about how you all do it in your family, but in our family, this is how it goes (usually.) I also think that privacy in our family will look a lot different in even just a couple years from now.

our bright and sunny toilet bathroom
our shower curtain is not so private.

-In our house, we are working towards having privacy when using the bathroom. We close the door when we use the toilet and shower. 
Right now, my boys are all five and under, so closing the door when we use the bathroom is not a huge priority yet. But as Max is getting older, I am reminding him that he needs to close the door when he is using the toilet (especially because Gabriel and Eli love to a. watch, b. use this as an opportunity to wash hands or throw things in the toilet, or c. try to go pee at the same time. All of which turn out to be disastrous) because we need privacy when we use the bathroom. It is not an event that needs to be displayed in front of all who may walk by. And for mom or dad, it is a moment of solitude and quiet (sometimes.) Since we only have one bathroom though, if one is in desperate need of the toilet while a parent is showering, after knocking they are generally granted access. And then I usually have a kid standing outside of the shower, throwing stuff in the tub and trying to climb in with me... oh the joys.  

-In our house, when we change our clothes, we are working on doing so in the privacy of our rooms.
Again, little boys usually care nothing about being naked in front of whoever is near by. But it matters to me to teach them to be modest. I watch a little girl in my home, and I am teaching them that we need privacy when we change, and that it is not a good idea to change clothes in front of her. I am in no way making them feel shameful of their bodies, just that they don't need to be showing their business to everyone around:)

-In our house we respect that sometimes we need alone time.
One phrase that I have helped my children to use is "I need space." In a big family like ours (is 5 a big family? It feels big!) sometimes we just need some space. So I am teaching my boys to say this in order to get some alone time when they are feeling over-crowded. When Max tells this to Gabriel, Gabriel is learning that he needs to step back, and leave Max alone. Sometimes it means that Max is on one end of the couch and Gabriel is on the other. Sometimes it means Max needs the porch to himself. Sometimes Gabriel grabs a toy from Eli and when Eli comes running and hollering for it, Gabriel yells "I need some space!!!" He's still learning. 

-Privacy and friends: When Max has a friend over doors stay open and play time happens where I can see it and hear it. 
At this point, we will not allow kids to be alone with friends behind closed doors. That is a privilege that may eventually be earned as boundaries and rules are established over time. We'll see.

-As for privacy for Matt and I, we have a lock on the inside of our door. 
Parents need alone time. We do not feel guilty that our children do not have 24/7 access to their parents' bedside. We also have a little lock on the outside of our door (super high up) so that little curious ones do not have access to our stuff. Once when our door was not locked, Max found a $100 bill that was in a little dish on top of my dresser. Luckily I happened to see him open his wallet. He had plans to bring it to school for his friend!! Our room: off limits unless they are invited in by us. 

So, there ya have it. Privacy according to the Hegstrom household. What does privacy look like in your home right now? Will it look differently in the years to come?

I'm looking forward to launching a new series this summer called "Mama You Are Beautiful." Check back soon to see what it's all about. 


Friday, June 7, 2013

mothers are beautiful intentions

As I mentioned yesterday, I am beginning to read this book called 

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breath   
  • Sarah Mae and  
  • Sally Clarkson. I am only through the first chapter or so and I already feel so encouraged. 
  • I wanted to share an excerpt from their book:

  •       This is the true beginning point - God. He is the one who created babies bursting with the life and the mamas who love to care and watch over them. He brought forth from His imagination the most beautiful of gardens, threw galaxies of stars in to orbit, and painted our world with color. In keeping with His character, He must have intended something beautiful in creating a woman with this ability to give life, nurture with love, and cultivate the souls of a precious human being entrusted into her hands.       Each of us has a story, but God, who originated the design of motherhood, is the expert advisor to whom we should turn. God has equipped us for every good work, and I am quite confident that He who designed this role to be so eternally significant is the one who is ready to help, support, instruct, and guide. He will provide all we need for the task He has given us to fulfill. But to heat from God we must become women on the Word and women who pray, so that His voice may lead us as we grow in to this role with grace. 

    Mothers are beautiful intentions.
    Pretty amazing if you ask me. 

    What an incredible gift it is to have been chosen to be the mother of these crazy kiddos. And what an amazing gift that I am not raising them by my own wisdom and strength. 

    Seriously, check out this book. Good good stuff.

    Have a great weekend everyone. 

    I still need to unpack...


    Thursday, June 6, 2013

    Yeah, well happy graduation to you dear little kindergartner.

    My little boy graduated from kindergarten today.

    It was a rough day. And not in a "oh-my-goodness-my-sweet-little-boy-is-growing-up" kind of way.

    It was a rough day because I was beaming with joy as my first-born walked across the stage and waved to me, and then 10 minutes later when I met him back at his classroom for the little celebration he looked disappointed as I walked up.

    "Where are my balloons?" he says with furrowed little eye brows.

    "Wait.... what? Oh. Balloons? Well, honey I didn't know I was supposed to bring you balloons."

    "Well you were supposed to. Look... everyone else? They have balloons."

    And everyone else? They did have balloons. And bouquets of flowers. I told him I had planned to bring him for ice cream afterwards. That was the special thing I had for him.

    "But show me your book you made!" I said. He flipped through a couple pages, showing me the binder containing the year's highlights and some sweet photos of him doing different activities. Then he was over it. I took a few photos of him with his friends (and their balloons in their hands or balancing on their heads since their balloon bouquets were so grand that they were weighted with shiny papered weights.)

    Then Max goes over to his teacher and asks if he can play with one of the class iPads. "Sure" she says. A few other kids were playing on them since their parents weren't there and they were getting some free playtime. Well I wasn't going to sit there and watch Max play on an iPad so I said no. He was so mad at me. He wilted at that point. And it was time to go.

    All the way home he wept and yelled and told me he didn't want ice cream. So I drove right past Creamy Cone, with out saying a word. "WAIT! WHAT?! WE AREN'T GETTING ICE CREAM?!!?"

    "Nope. You told me you didn't want ice cream. I told you that you needed to have a happy heart and good attitude before we get ice cream."

    Well his heart and attitude changed and I agreed to give him a second chance by going to our local coffee shop for ice cream. We get there and all of a sudden he is whining that he wants a cupcake instead. "Ice cream is what I offered. It's that or nothing."

    He got his ice cream cone, and with hunched shoulders he followed me out the door. No "thanks." No nothing. I turned around and said "when we get home, I need you to go up to your room. You have been mean and ungrateful for everything that I have done for you today and there are consequences for treating your mom this way."

    When we got out to the car, he was poking at his ice cream, and the whole scoop plopped on the ground. He looked at me with these cold eyes and walked right past me.

    When we got home, I swung open the van door to let him out, and the cone was sitting there on the floor of my van. He gently kicked it out of the door, jumped out and landed on it. On purpose.

     I was so mad.
    So hurt.
    For the first time, I felt like my kid had deliberately hurt me. 
    It was a significant moment. 

    I don't usually take it personal when my kids do stuff like this. I let them know that it was mean/rude/hurtful/inconsiderate/etc. But I can shrug it off and not allow it to actually hurt my feelings. This time, it was different though. 

    And then I feel like it was another one of those moments where God gives me a glimpse of what it's like for Him. 

    There is some significant milestone in our life: 
    You got your dream job. 
    You finally got your PhD. 
    You fell in love. 
    You finally gotten pregnant. 
    You buy your first house.
    You open up your own restaurant. 
    You got married. 
    [insert significant milestone that is supposed to be amazing and joyful here] 

    Life is grand in that moment. But then it isn't what we expected:
    What? My boss is actually not as great as I thought?
    My boyfriend wants to wait until after law school to get married?
    No one is hiring in my field?
    I waited all this time to get pregnant, and now I have to be on bed rest?
    The closing date is postponed?!
    The inspector didn't pass it again?
    No one told me that his breath starts to stink after we get married!
    [insert anticlimactic disappointing factor here]

    And so what is our reaction? Probably similar to my five year old's in one way or another. Are you kidding me? Seriously? But look at how it worked out for everyone else! Why is it sucky for me?! Where are you God? I thought you loved me I thought you cared?! 

    When things don't go my way, many times I have the response of: Oh, well what else is new. My life has always been hard, so what's one more thing. Whoa is me. And I am mad. And I feel cheated. And I wonder why everyone else has an easier time, or nicer kids, or a cleaner house, or a more understanding husband, or a smaller waist or a nicer car or more money or nicer things or is way more spiritual than me... [insert more disappointing factors here.]

    Whoa is me.

    I'm so grateful for a God that loves me even when I am a whiny bratty daughter. He loves me and knows what is best, and he doesn't turn me away when I doubt his perfect provision and care. He draws me in, draws me closer. He helps me to learn a thing or two in the process, and his mercies are new every morning.

    I want to be that kind of parent. That when Max is testing me, that I can lovingly show him that my intentions are pure. That I know what is best, and I know the perfect way to tend to his heart and to his needs.

    My mom watched the kids while I was at the graduation. On her way over she stopped at Starbucks and got Max a cake pop to enjoy in celebration of his special day.

    Do you think I let him have it?

    Heck no I did not. I ate it. And enjoyed every bite while Max cleaned the porch.
    And no I did not rub it in by eating it in front of him, even though I sorta wanted too... :)

    Well, instead of running from this big crazy [and sometimes scary] parenting thing, I continue to dive in and learn new things.

    Tonight I get to meet with a new group of moms. We will be reading (and eating cake I hope) and doing a study on this book:

    I also started a little book club with a couple of my dear friends. We feel super cool because we have never been a part of a real book club before. This is what we are reading:

    What do you do to maintain your parenting game? Books? Chocolate? Wine? The Word? Zumba? Coconut milk ice cream? Pintrest? I hear those all do just fine at keeping your game tight.  (I am in no way sporty, so I am not sure my sporty parenting lingo is making any sense here... sorry.)

    As my girl Nicki reminds me on a regulare basis.... Just breathe.


    Tuesday, June 4, 2013

    Another healthy family trait and a cool story from our trip

    First night of our vacation.
    Ocean, sand, good food, and each other.

    We just got home last night from our dreamy California vacation. Late.  I had plans of doing laundry, dishes, unpacking, and getting caught up on my blog. PPPfffff. Yeah right. I didn’t even do dishes today people. My children were stuck on me like flies on sticky fly paper. We even all took a two hour long nap. Yep, it is EXHAUSTING transitioning back in to the real world after 6 days free of children, meal planning, stress and worries. Exhausting for everyone, even the kids. Everyone is just trying to figure out what normal life looks like again. I'm still on California time. 

    I missed Healthy Family Trait Monday yesterday, and here it is 10:22pm and I am gathering my thoughts to present to you another trait to encourage and challenge you.

    This week’s focus is:

    3. The healthy family values 
    service to others.

    One way I see this acted out in our family is through hospitality. One of our family’s gifts, I believe, is hospitality. When we were looking for our house, we knew we needed a house with a living room big enough to have people over. We wanted a dining room that could fit an extra family or two. We wanted a kitchen that would be open enough for people to stand around and fellowship while meals were being prepared. We wanted a house that would allow us to serve those we love, a house where we could invite in new friends and neighbors.

    I love having people over. If you have ever been over for a momdate playdate you know that I love making lunch and feeding everyone! I get so much joy from getting to make mamas and their kiddos feel comfortable and welcome in my home. The same goes for dinners here. We love having people over for gatherings. Filling bellies is an act of love in this family. It’s a way we love to serve.

    Another way Matt and I value service to others? Missions work. Since having children I haven’t been able to do this as much (well, in the way of hopping on a plane and going to faraway places to serve others), but in my high school days I did missions trips every year. I went to Jamaica, West Virginia, Georgia and Mexico.  Then after I graduated I went off to Puebla, Mexico for a year and served at Esperanza Viva. I was a dorm mother to 14 little girls that were babies to 9 year olds. After Matt and I got married we went as chaperons with our church’s youth team back to Mexico. It was Matt’s first mission’s trip. Then we began having babies, so I stayed home while more opportunities arose for Matt to go back to Mexico, and also to Honduras.  

    While we were in Los Angeles this last week, my heart ached at how many homeless people we saw. Saturday morning I mentioned to Matt that if we ever do a trip like this again, that we should plan ahead and get connected with a ministry or charity and do a day of volunteering. Well Matt took that idea and thought “well why not now?” and next thing I knew we were spending our fancy dinner budget money on bread, turkey, chips, apples, juice boxes and lunch sacks. Our plan had been to head out to Venice Beach, and we thought we’d turn it in to an opportunity to share the love of Jesus.

    Not my picture, but similar to what we saw on Venice Beach.
    I was nervous. I didn’t want to offend people. I didn’t want to assume they needed our little sack lunches if they didn’t. Matt though? No fear. The first guy we walked up to was holding a big 50 lb. dog in his lap. He had a little cup out and was asking for change. We asked him if he was hungry. He gladly took the bag. He asked us if we love God. We said “yup” and told him that God loves him too. He told us thanks and we were on our way. 

    The next guy we ran in to was this dude handing out his record and asking for donations for his music. He was this thugged out young guy dressed in white. His name was Salt (that’s what his cd said) We listened to his music and he asked us what we were up to that day. We told him. Just handing out meals. He looked Matt in the face and told him “y’all love God huh?!” We said “yup” and he went on to tell us we had light in our eyes. That he could tell we loved God. And he told us he does too and that he’s cleaning up his life and reading his bible.

    Then we met two young people who had just arrived from Arizona a week before. Again, after we handed them the meals they said the same thing. “Do you guys like, love God or something?”  And this guy went on to tell us (long story short) about how he has stayed sober for over two years, is on probation, and is trying to get his life in order.  They needed a fresh start. Matt asked them if we could pray with them and they said “sure!” So right there, we prayed over them, for God to provide for their every need and to protect them.
    Next couple we met, same story, had just come out to California for a fresh start. Just needed help with a meal.

    We had two bags left and we passed by a rough looking pair. A young girl and young guy. Totally strung out on drugs. Matt motioned for us to go over to ask them if they need a meal. They were surprised. And gladly accepted. It was sort of an awkward exchange, so we told them to take care and we walked away. A few seconds later I look over at Matt and he is weeping. He was so broken for the girl. She looked awful. We were almost back to the car when Matt said “we gotta go back. I have to talk to them.” So we went back. Matt got to share part of his story with them about when he was on drugs and out on his own too. They were so open to us. The guy asked us if we were Christians. He thanked us over and over and kept shaking Matt's hand. We prayed with them and walked away. It was pretty amazing.

    Whoa. Didn’t mean for this post to be so long. Sorry. It’s still fresh on my mind, so I just wanted to share. I'm not sharing this to show off and be all "oh look at us do-gooders!" because it is not that at all. God put these ideas on our hearts and all we did was say yes. In return we were so blessed to serve people who just needed to be acknowledged.  Who just needed some love.

    So back to service to others: It’s SUPER important to our family. We can’t wait to be able to bring our kids in to more of these kinds of opportunities in the near future. We want to raise them up to notice the needs of others:  friends or strangers, the lonely or the needy, the orphans and the widows.

    How does your family value service to others? How do you allow for your kids to have the chance to serve others?

    Need an easy place to start? Bring your fam to Feed my Starving Children. Volunteers can be as young as 5 years old. Make a freezer meal for a new mom and her family. Bring dinner over to the family who has had a rough week. Take your friends’ kids for a few hours to provide them some rest or a much needed date night. Have your kids help pick up garbage in your neighborhood. Teach your kids to hold the door open for others. There are so many easy ways to serve others.

    I encourage you to say yes the next time you get a chance.

    Ok, it’s 11:46pm now. This mama has got to get to sleep.