Wednesday, October 24

To Luke on his 4th Birthday

Dear Lukie Duke-

Today is your fourth birthday!  I have already been thinking of you as a four-year-old for about a month or two now, because recently you've just sort of blossomed into a "bigger" boy.  Three years old just seemed to little for you!  You are starting to look more like your Daddy to me- which is fun for me to see since I have always though you favored me and your uncles/PawPaw more than Daddy's side.  But I see you walk with those looooong legs, and I see how broad your shoulders are... And boy, you can eat!  I bet you're going to have a fast metabolism just like your Daddy!

I am so proud of you, and I love the special connection that we have.  You are such a sensitive boy, and I embrace that because I know that one day you'll probably act too "grown up" to give your poor mother a hug, so every time you tell me you love me right now I try to take a mental picture and hug you a little bit harder.  It's my goal that every time you hug me, I make sure you're the one to let go first.  You have a little twinkle in your eye when you walk up to me, and I know you're about to tell me you love me, so I drop down on one knee and open my arms.  You are just so sweet!  It's times like these when I understand how adults jokingly tell their child to "never grow up," because it's a moment I want to freeze in my memory forever.

You still love your lawn mowers and weed whackers, tractors and backhoes, screwdrivers and drills, and now you love to be a fireman.  Mommy and Daddy bought you a fireman backpack for your birthday because we knew you'd love to pretend it was a leaf blower, but you love it as a fireman too!  Over the past few months you've been very interested in "school," begging me to do a workbook with you or read you a book.  Oh boy, do you love to read!  I have read to you for hours on end and you still ask for more.  You love all books, but at the library you head straight to pick out Clifford books... You don't know it now, but your Daddy can't stand those Clifford books!  He'll read them to you until he's blue in the face though, because he knows that's how much you love them.  Daddy likes to make up silly stories while reading, using silly voices, and you love it when he does this.  Just another way Daddy makes you laugh!

You've joined a young boy's club (Blue Knights) this year, and you're playing more with the older kids.  You jump right into the action, not hesitating to join in on the fun, sometimes not even looking back for me!  You love your gymnastics class and to play outside for hours and hours.  I love that you recently learned how to pump yourself on the swing!  I like to look outside and see you and Beth playing together, swinging next to each other and trying to kick the branches on the tree.  You don't always love playing side-by-side with Beth and Jack, but when y'all do you usually have a great time!

You usually still take a nap in the afternoon, though technically Mommy has told you that you don't have to!

I am so proud to be your mama and I am so excited to see how you grow and change even more this year!  But I do also sometimes wish you wouldn't grow up anymore...  I love you my sweet boy. 

Follow Up Thoughts

I have some more thoughts that have been floating around in my head since my last post, which sparked a bit of conversation on Facebook.   First off, when I go to someone else's home, I hope my dear friends know I do *not* judge you all in any way, shape, or form.  Especially new mamas... In fact, I'm working on a new "thing" right now for my business that revolves around support for new mamas by providing them help in the way *they* need it.  Everyone feels differently about their home, every person places their priorities in a different place, and that's okay. However, if you're a new mama and I show up with dinner for your family, I will help you with some housework because... let's face it... everyone needs clean dishes!  I'm not thinking "Oh man this place is a wreck, let me help you with this..." It's more like, "WOW YOU JUST HAD A BABY!  You're amazing!  Let me help you with this!"  Because that's how I truly feel about new mamas!

And for the rest of us that don't currently have a baby in the house, God has blessed us each in our own individual way.  I know that a clean house is nice, but I also know that my number 1 goal is heaven- for me, my husband, and my kids.  Sometimes I have to let the house go to remember that goal...Other times I feel like I have to teach my kids responsibility so that they can learn to be responsible adults!  It's definitely a balance, and not something I really lose sleep over.  These are just more rambling thoughts...

Tuesday, October 16

Messy House... Happy Mama?

I remember a few years ago, when Beth was very little (Luke may or may not have been born yet), I was loaned a copy of the book A Mother’sRule of Life by Holly Pierlot.  I started to read it and thought it was sort of a joke- I didn’t need any sort of house cleaning help!  I had a 1600 square foot house, a very helpful toddler (really- she actually helped me clean up!), and could get my entire house spic 'n span, top to bottom, within a few hours.  Even laundry was no problem-  I did maybe a 4 loads a week?  Whatever the case, I didn’t need a schedule, I didn’t need to spend time thinking about when I’d have to clean.

Fast forward to a few years later: a new-to-me house nearly twice as big, three older (and bigger!) kids, play dates, homeschooling, dance class, gymnastics, a gym membership, and a part-time job, and I have a recipe for a disastrous house!  Bigger kids require bigger clothing and bigger beds (hence larger bedsheets to wash if they’re wet at night), they require more food (LOTS more food), and bigger shoes all over the house.  And I have only three children!

With our busier schedules, I picked up that old copy of A Mother’s Rule of Life and reread it, this time cover-to-cover, discussing it with other Moms in a similar stage of life as we read it in a bookclub-format.  As it turns out, this time around it was a LOT more relevant, and made a lot more sense to me! 

The author discusses prioritizing your life first, like making sure you have time for prayer and for taking care of yourself.  But one of my favorite things about the book was learning that part of organization is having a place for every little thing in your house, and this is something that I don’t have.  I have piles of papers everywhere since we don’t have a good desk space.  My laptop computer doesn’t even have a real “home,” so it’s just sort of left out.  Recently I reorganized one of my bookshelves, putting it in my closet because it’s the only place where I can utilize all of the shelves without having little kids pull stuff off the lower shelves!  But now I have a place for all of my doula-related paperwork, and this little thing helps me so much!

As I take inventory of the rest of the house (as the author suggests), I’ve gone through room-by-room to figure out what other storage pieces I need so that everything can have a home.  We’re hoping to buy a china cabinet-type piece for our dining room, where we can put mail and other paperwork.  I want to build a small shoe bench with a coat rack for the kid's jackets.  I need some sort of storage for all of Beth’s new embroidery/sewing supplies, which currently reside in a pile on my dresser!

I feel like, despite the schedules and methods I’ve created for myself, the countless books, blogs, and websites I’ve read, I just can’t stay on top of my chores.  I feel like the kids are almost old enough to be a big help, but are not quite there yet.  They also already whine and moan when I ask them to do something, so I think I need to figure out some sort of good motivator for them!  (“Because I’m your mother and I said so!” isn’t working so well!)  I feel like in the evening when they go to bed, the last thing I want to do is scrub floors or organize paperwork- I am ready to collapse if I don’t have a meeting or a workout!  On the weeks when I can stay 100% faithful to my schedule, things look great, and the house is pretty darn close to perfect.  But, who am I kidding, that’s happened maybe once!

I am left pondering the idea of hiring help, just to keep the house from becoming an infectious pit of germs and nasty things, especially now that we have a new little boy using the toilets!  I feel like maybe once a month would help- twice a month would be heavenly!  Is the feeling of cleanliness and sanity worth the money?

I do have high standards, and I’m at peace with that.  I’m not going to try to change the person God made me to be by allowing myself to live in a house I’m not comfortable in- in fact I think that would make me depressed because I can’t stand it when everything is messy and cluttered!  However, I am also realistic and constantly let things slide because I’d rather read books to my babies, take a nap during rest time, or crash on the couch with Ryan at the end of a long day to read or watch a tv show.  

 I’ve had an experienced home schooling mom tell me that when you homeschool, something usually gets left behind- school, housework, or yourself.  If you manage to keep up in school and on keeping house, then you don’t take care of yourself.  If you’re great at keeping up the house and taking care of yourself, then schooling falls behind.  I can see how this happens- there are just not enough hours in my day, especially since I’m the sort of person who requires a lot of sleep in order to be a pleasant person!  And since I’m not willing to let school fall through the cracks, that means if I’m good about going to the gym or if I have a lot of evening client meetings, then the house is a wreck.  If I don’t go to the gym or have meetings, then the house is usually in better condition.  I can’t win!

Right now my kitchen is clean but the play room and living room are covered in tent forts, with cowboy boots and baby dolls strewn about.  That's a mess I'm not even going to tackle now because 1. They're having a blast with it and 2. It's only 2:00 pm and they still have a full afternoon of indoor playtime left since it's raining outside!   I've been doing some research for a client while the kids are having their rest time, and I have 3 piles of clean laundry that will hopefully be folded and put away by the end of this week.  *sigh*

How do you other mamas do it???

Sunday, October 14

Moving into Fall

Where to start... The past two weeks have been busy with family, friends, school, and work!  I made the drive into the city 6 times over a two-week period, four trips for doula business and two for personal business.  I have major respect for people who commute into the city for work, because although I wasn't traveling at peak rush hours, my back hurt after all that time in the car!

One of those trips was a special day for Beth and me, when I took her to a ballet performance as part of a field trip with some other members of our homeschool group, then she and I had lunch at a gluten-free restaurant in town.  The boys stayed home with Grandma and Grandpa!


Four of those trips were for business- I had my first (and only!) birth in the med center.  It was a great experience, working there, but it's just too far for me to travel so I don't think I'll be taking any more births down there, unless it was for a special friend!  Another two trips were for our local fair about all things birth and babies.  On Friday I was CPR trained and Saturday a friend and I drove to attend the fair and hear different talks.  It was a good weekend but WOW was I tired after driving like that two days in a row!
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