What did I expect this to look like???

jd

BOOM!! bounce bounce bounce

The school day is done, and I was answering blog comments, and I heard this loud noise. Don’t worry. All is well. I ran to check it out. I scanned the front yard. No one there, but it sounded like someone had hit our house with a basketball!  Weird!

Just then, Joshua barged in the back door and proudly proclaimed, “I just kicked a soccer ball OVER the roof! I’ll go get it!”

Big boys. I am lovin’ it. Babies and toddlers are adorable, but big boys are WHERE IT’S AT!

wildcats

BIG week for Joshua: #2! He scored 5 points for his team on Saturday!!

 

They wipe their own bottoms, they still do hilarious things, they can get their own snacks (but then you have to guard your kitchen), and best of all, they only require minimal supervision. No, actually, the best part is that they can even help with their little brothers!!

“Ew. public bathroom. Here, Joshua. Take Daniel to the bathroom with you, and make sure he washes his hands.  Thank you!!!”

They earn their keep for sure.

dangerousplay

It’s a hazardous role.

babyhugs

but oh, so rewarding

One thing that is often mentioned in my comment section, especially yesterday, is that I am too hard on myself.

This is true. I am waaaay too hard on myself. I’m going to try to give myself a little more grace. Even my kids pick up on this.

Joshua looked at me the other day, as I was struggling to teach through the bronchitis, and said, “Mom! Go lay down!”

I adore them. Hang in there, Moms of only little bitties. Our work will pay off!

batcave

Are you afraid they will fall? 😉 They didn’t.

 

It’s ridiculous that we are so hard on ourselves, because if you step back and look at it, it’s all pretty cute and hilarious. I mean, the kids are cute and hilarious. Actually, our expectations are too!!! (She thinks she can home school 4 boys, update her blog daily, AND have a clean house, isn’t that cute and hilarious!??) Or maybe it’s just me….surely someone can relate…

We are raising four boys here. What did I think that would look like????  Ha!!!

jd

Seriously, Mom. What did you expect?

 

As I was writing this, John David needed attention, so I stopped and sat with him on the porch. I love the little balcony I have in my bedroom, and so does J.D. I asked him if he’d like to read, and he did, so we went inside to the book corner. I pulled out several books.

He insisted on Old McDonald Had a Farm. It has good pictures. Plus, I sing that one.

I finished, and I tried to move onto Richard Scary. Nope.

JD scowled and handed me back Old McDonald. I sang it again. Daniel heard and came running. He wanted Oh, David next, so we read that.

JD scowled and handed me back Old McDonald. I sang it, half hoarse, thanks to the lingering bronchitis, for the third time.

That made Daniel think of his Old McDonald game, so he begged me to get it down for him until I finally did so.

JD scowled and handed me Old McDonald.  The only way I was finally able to get out of singing it for the sixth time was, “Hey, JD, do you want to go eat a snack!?”

Food works for everything. Food is our most powerful bargaining tool as parents, well, I mean, besides guilt (also effective bwaaahahahaha). I am not ashamed, besides, it was 3:00, and I was starving.

Three o-clock has to be snack time. Who in the world can go from 11:30 pm to 5:30pm without eating?

Well, it isn’t good for your metabolism either. 🙂

Apparently, JD was hungry because he consumed a ton of Greek yogurt, which he, of course, insisted on feeding himself. I’ve just recently let him do that, and he is really good at spoons now!

Cheeeeese!

As I sat there, just watching Daniel and JD eat yogurt, I couldn’t help but notice the yarn strewn across the floor. Caleb had been “building” something. The school books weren’t put away yet. The sink is still full of dishes. I unloaded the bottom rack of the dishwasher, but I didn’t make it to the top rack before someone needed something. Two baskets of clean laundry to be put away stared at me from the stair landing.

Most of all, I noticed their adorable faces, the way the yogurt falls from their spoons to the floor sometimes, and most importantly, the way they smile at me. They love and appreciate me with their whole little hearts!

It all made me think of this blog, and yesterday, and how uptight I probably sounded. Ha! Clutter! Mess! Yogurt faces….

What a beeeeeeeautiful mess. Glorious. It all means one thing. It means that I get to spend all this time with my four favorite little boys, and at the end of the day, my favorite man comes through the door.

Wow. I am so blessed. WHY am I being so hard on myself? How ABSURD! People often use the term ‘hot mess,’ and I think that more applies to a young, attractive person that doesn’t have their act together yet.

What we have here is abundantly more exciting than that. A house full of growing children. 

Now that’s what I call success. 🙂 That is what a beautiful mess actually looks like, and I LOVE it.

Perhaps I need to chill a little bit and embrace these gifts.

 

 

“See it how I see it.”

Do you ever get messed up in how you see things? You work, and you work, and you work, but you are never done, and after awhile the sky seems to be falling, you’ve forgotten to take time for fun, and suddenly all of the joy that should be in your heart is snuffed out like a candle on a birthday cake.

Well, that’s been me for…well, since we moved, I guess. I just keep telling myself that if I just make it through this year, things will get better.

I love my children. I enjoy teaching them. I don’t even mind cooking dinner, but there is one part of this whole stay-at-home, home-schooling, blogger-mom gig that causes me very great stress.

Housework.

Where the school day ends, the house work begins, and with a house of 6 people, that “career” is enough to keep me busy all by itself. Then there’s the whole question of dinner. I’m out of the habit of making realistic dinner plans, so I’ve been pulling that together at the last minute.

Plus, every where I turn, we have another ant invasion. That’s right, our whole neighborhood has the most insane ant problem I have ever seen in my life. There are lines of them, eating-I can’t-figure out what in all of our bathrooms. With the rain, they have come into our home in record numbers.

Basically, around 3 or 4 everyday, I feel so completely burned out and defeated, that what I truly wish to do is get in my car and just drive until I find a restful place to stop.

The other day, in the depths of feeling as melancholy and hopeless as ever…

(I get that some of you have no idea why I would feel that way. Well, I’d take pictures of my house to explain it, but I’m afraid that would cause me to be judged by others of you, so I will be sharing no such pictures at this time.)

My messy house makes me want to cry. It sucks the energy out of me. People think of me as laid back, but I’m totally not. I’m actually a polite, high pressure, control freak that smiles a lot. There I said it.

Today I had 20 or so things on my mind, I was desperate to get out of the kitchen and escape somehow for a minute, and just as I thought I might go sit on the love seat and pout for just a second…Daniel spilled juice all over himself and the kitchen floor. At that EXACT SAME moment, JD knocked over a BOX of vanilla wafers, which at the bottom of the box, was more crumbs than wafers.

Did I mention that I had JUST swept and mopped the floor, not 30 minutes prior to this incident?

Did you also know that JD is so tall–almost freakishly so–that he can reach the kitchen countertops?

Somehow I didn’t manage to find all the crumbs to sweep up, so the floor is wet and crunchy. Daniel, Caleb, and JD are all taking a bath. That sounds nice, except I’m going to have to summon energy from SOMEWHERE to get them all dressed again.

When I say that I want to cry every single day, that is a gross understatement. I actually do cry most days. I have no idea how to catch up on all of the housekeeping, so I’ve taken to keeping one room of my house completely immaculate. I just started this a week ago.

It makes me feel like I have some sort of control over SOMETHING in my life. What room did I choose? The smallest room in the house: the laundry room. I’ve been working so hard on that room this week. It’s all I have time for! The washer and dryer are crud and dust free. The floor is spotless. The shelves are dusted. Nothing is in that room that doesn’t belong there–well, except for those photos that I haven’t hung yet.  But seriously, when?? When will I hang pictures?

So if you can’t find me……that may be where you will find me. NO, not hanging pictures, but cleaning my laundry room, so that I can feel like I’ve got something under control.

Do you think this is an awful lot of whining about house cleaning? It is! The cleanliness level of my house directly affects my mood–even if that should not be so.

Wednesday, as I was laying flat on my face, crying and whining to God in my prayers about how hard it is to teach these boys, never leave the house, and whoa whoa whoa whoa wheaaa wheaaaa wheaaa wheaaa wheaaaa….. I said, “I should just go get those boys right now, and put them back to work. Lord, what in the world should I do?”

“See them how I see them.”

No, don’t worry, friends, I do not hear the audible voice of God, never have, but I promise that he speaks to my heart.

I went to the boys’ window, and looked down at my three biggest boys, on the trampoline. JD toddled along beside me.

There they were. They each sat on a different side of the trampoline, Indian style. They appeared to be having some sort of meeting.

“Oh, right,” I thought, “They are just darling little children. I’m so thankful they have each other.This time on the trampoline together is good for them.”

I need not destroy the magic of their childhood with my own anxiety problems. Yes, I put too many demands upon myself. That’s not their fault. They are just children. 

So I have a goal, a very important goal. I am going to ENJOY the trip to Alabama this year. I’m not pregnant or breastfeeding, so I have that going for me. Yes, I have to fly with four children, but at least this time Alan gets to go with us.

I’m going to try to enjoy the plane ride and visiting the way that the children do, because normally I don’t, and that makes the trip less fun for everyone else.

Is this phase of homeschooling while also taking care of a toddler and a preschooler the hardest thing I have ever done?  YES. Aboslutely YES. I did home school Joshua in K4 and part of Kindergarten. That is  not the same at all as home schooling three different ages. Joshua and Caleb are so big now, that I don’t want to mess this up.

The really sad thing is that I’m letting all of these  pressures that I put on myself steal my joy. Why? I want everything to be perfect, and that is not an achievable goal.

Who likes perfect people anyway?

I’d better go take the boys out of the bathtub, remind myself to see them how God sees them, and try not to rain on everyone’s Christmas. 🙂

I feel like I’m giving my Eeyore-self a pep talk!!

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.'”            James 4:6

 

 

Frumpy Momma: Why It’s Time to Start Taking Care of Myself Again

I can’t believe that’s me. This is not me. Oh, but it is…oh, but it is.

I don’t know about you, but life definitely goes in cycles for me. I have phases where I’m like, “I got this,” and I wear make-up everyday, exercise regularly, smile at people, have feelings of happiness, and spend time socializing as well as time taking care of home and family. Okay. Well, things are never really all THAT perfect, but I definitely have phases where I am taking way better care of myself than I am right now.

This is not that phase.

This is a learning new things everyday, flying by the seat of my pants phase. We moved across the country and took on home-schooling our four boys for the first time this year. I’m way behind on lesson plans, blogging, housework, and pretty much everything.

My primary focus has been teaching and toddler care, and that just hasn’t left me much time to take care of myself. I rarely wear make-up. I never exercise. Some days I don’t really even get dressed–not really.

*gasp* the horror!

My eyebrows have not been properly plucked since the road trip in June. That was also my last pedicure. There is one dot of polish left on each of my big toes.

Shake my head.

My wardrobe? Well, I think I wear this t-shirt at least twice/week:

Youch. It’s a 5K participant t-shirt from 2012. Only I certainly haven’t been running any 5Ks lately…

I was telling my friends at Bible study this week, it’s time for me to become more self-disciplined about going to bed earlier, so that I can wake up earlier. Waking up at 7:15 doesn’t cut it around here.

I don’t completely apologize for letting myself become the grungy homeschool Mom. For the past few months, I NEEDED to focus on getting my school and my house in order. I only arrived here two weeks before I started our school, and I was not able to spend the summer preparing due to shipping issues. I did what I had to do.

Ecclesiastes 3 King James Version (KJV)

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;

A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboureth?

10 I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.

11 He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.

12 I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.

13 And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.

******

So I’m not going to beat myself up about my current “down to earth”, “laid back” look. However, now that the garage is completely organized, and the school and house are becoming more routine, it’s time to turn my attention to what I’ve been neglecting: me.

I’ve discussed before that when I don’t exercise and rest properly, I have serious back issues. More specifically, I have chronic joint pain. My flare ups started again in 2012, after another phase of self-neglect (Alan’s deployment). A combination of exercise and going to a good chiropractor, helped me to get the joint pain under control. I’ve mentioned that before.

Last week, my shoulder and hip really threw a fit, and I decided it was time to figure out what is causing all this. I got online and made a list of every single one of my symptoms: joint pain on only one side of my body, psoriasis of the fingernails, occasional fevers, and fatigue. It popped up a short list, and I read through until I came across one that sounded EXACTLY like a match. I’d never heard of it before: psoriatic arthritis.

I read a few different web articles on this autoimmune disorder, and it fit my condition perfectly.

Here’s a website reference for the curious:

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriatic-arthritis/basics/definition/con-20015006

Thankfully, I do not have psoriasis on my skin, just on a few of my fingernails. My poor fingernails didn’t have a chance because I get really cold, and when I do I get no circulation to my nails because I also have Raynaud’s disease, another autoimmune disorder. Apparently, if you have one autoimmune issue, it’s common to have more than one. Bleh.

Are you wondering what psoriasis of the fingernails looks like on a 33-year-old? Well, here you go:

nailpsoriasis

nail psoriasis

Don’t say,”ew.” Then I might feel really sad.

Groan. And all this stuff says that if you don’t get the psoriatic arthritis under control, it will cause permanent damage to your joints. And yet, it’s incurable. Lovely.

So what’s my action plan? You know I enjoy setting goals:

1. On Monday, call the infamous appointment line to see if I can get a real person to answer my call and make me an appointment. Military clinics. Oh my goodness, those poor, poor people who thought they wanted the government to run their health care…I’ve tried twice already and failed to get anyone to call me back and make me an appointment.

2. Go to bed by 11pm at the latest so I can wake up by 6:30 and go walking in the morning.

3. Wake up by 6:30, and go walk.

4. Make a spa appointment. Yes, spa. It’s been 6 months since I had eyebrows fixed, pedicure, or a hair cut, so I think that’s fair. I may even spring for the massage.

5. Make a chiropractor appointment.

6. Make a dental appointment. Ugh.

Okay, that’s a lot. I probably won’t get all of that done this week, but it’s something to aim for.

Now that I’ve shared all of these scary, and yet highly accurate, photos of myself, here’s what I hope to look like, once I get my act in gear:

 

Ah. Well groomed lady. Look at those eyebrows. My goal. 🙂

Happy Thanksgiving week, ya’ll! I am so excited. I love Thanksgiving.

……and you can vote for my blog, nominated for Most Influential Blog 2014, Here. Thanks, ya’ll!!!