day one | locked out | write31days

We got locked out of the house yesterday. First time since I had kids. I locked myself out of our house at Fort Rucker when I took the dog out in the back. Back then, I just had to call housing and wait in my pjs until they arrived. Embarrassing, but quick.

Yesterday, the kids and I went out front to set up a broody cage for one of the hens, and the dog was so angry we went without him, he kept jumping at the door and managed to drop the deadbolt down. I mean really.

I had managed to wrangle all the kids back into the front yard, but the door didn’t open. I shook the handle back and forth and then looked down at the kids in shock. My first thought was, which one of locked the door?? Splendid.

At least all the kids were locked out with me. I can only imagine the trouble they could get into without me!! We played in the back until our renters came home and then got in through their basement access, avoiding the locksmith charge, thank goodness. A little adventure for the kids I guess. They didn’t mind much because they got to play outside, but they were “soo hungry.” Everyone was glad to sit down to dinner.

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At first, I was super frustrated. We were all hungry, it was humid and the kids were thirsty. Plus it’s rained for DAYS and the back is still muddy, so all I could see was more work getting them clean.

There’s this whole “deployment rule,” that everything that can go wrong, will, while he’s gone. Hubs isn’t deployed, and it’s really not that long. But oh how this has applied in the last couple of weeks.

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Colds, attitudes, limit testing, sitter-dislike, crayons on the walls, upset tummies, tons of night waking, teething, picky eaters, a ton of poop (literally), screaming car rides, parking lot running, tantrum throwing, and so much more.

When I think about it. It’s actually not that different than the norm. But something about not having your best friend around, even if it is just for the early morning/evening time, it makes that all feel a little less endless. Not having a weekend where we tackle projects together. Not having someone else to say, “please sit down at the table” a hundred times in a meal. Not having someone wake up with the kids (Because I will be totally honest and say that I sleep with ear plugs. That amazing man I call my husband wakes up with the kids 99% of the time during the night. Yeah I know. I’ve got an awesome one. It might be because he just loves snuggling babies so much, #babyfeverforlife). Not having someone else lock the chickens in after dark. Or take care of their fodder system and water.

But really, as much as I miss my dishwasher/chicken tender/night duty husband. It’s not so much the physical help I miss. I think it comes down to attitude.

Telling myself I can’t do it, just means I can’t do it. It means all I think about it how I just want to lay down and sleep.

Telling myself I can do it, with Christ, I can do it.

So as we hit was is hopefully the halfway mark (or maybe more?? pray for no broken aircraft!!), I’m focusing on my attitude, and how it affects theirs.

“Feelings are just indicators, not dictators. They can tell you where your heart is in the moment, but that doesn’t mean they have the right to dictate your behavior. You are able to control them.” Unglued

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24

Lord, let this work be for You. And let every moment of this everyday ordinary infuse my life and my children’s lives with a knowledge of Your spectacular, life-changing love. Let me be Your arms to them. Let me shine You to them.

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motherhood | lay them at His feet

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“I love that we mamas tend to follow [behavioral] formulas because it means we are trying to be intentional with our children, We care enough to discipline and teach them! We love them and want to prepare them for the world; we want to teach them how to live well. That is so, so good. But we’ve got to know that, ultimately, the most important thing is laying our children at the foot of the cross and praying that Jesus will call them to Him. He is the author of their souls, and He is the only one who can reign in a broken soul. So pray for your children and show them Jesus. Lead them to the One who can intertwine His Spirit with theirs, the One who changes us from the inside out.” Sarah Mae- Desperate

motherhood | overwhelmed

It’s so easy to get overwhelmed in these mothering trenches.

I changed eight poopy diapers and answered the “mommy, come wipe my tushy” call twice today, all before 400pm. this is motherhood. in all it’s poopy glory.

“Each day we get a sheet of paper with math problems on them. Except instead of basic addition and subtraction problems, they are little tests for our patience, for our peace, for our kindness. It is a regular fruit of the spirit speed quiz. They are easy, basic Christian living challenges brought to us daily by our children, and the allotted time is our waking hours. Sometimes sporadically throughout the night. ” Rachel Jankovic- Loving the Little Years

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“Make sure, before you start rebuking them, your own heart is in order. Thank God for the headache.Thank God for these prime opportunities to teach. Thank Him for the scuffle that your children are currently having over who unbuckled whom and why. And then, after your own heart has been sorted out, move on to theirs.” Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years.

a day-2“I remember thinking sometimes when the twins were little that I had better stop being overwhelmed. This was normal now… God gave me this to do. I may not be overwhelmed about it. I can try as hard as I can, and maybe fail sometimes. I can try as hard as I can and fall asleep at the dinner table. I can try as hard as I can and be burned out at the end of the day. But I may not be overwhelmed. Actually, I may be overwhelmed but I may not say that I am overwhelmed! The words have a real power for us. If you say it, you allow it for yourself.” Rachel Jankovic, Loving the Little Years.

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I am not overwhelmed. He is right by my side for this work He has given me. I just need to remember I CAN, WITH HIM.

heart obedience |these little humans

Alright wise mama (and grandma) friends, I have a topic on which I would love for you to share your opinions, insights, and resources.

Heart obedience.

Obviously, we all want our children to obey when we tell them what to do. We want them to respect us and our requests because (in general) as their parents we know what is best for them.

Of course this starts with “blind obedience” initially; your toddler doesn’t listen out of the goodness of his heart when you say not to touch the oven. They learn to listen because you are the parent and the authority figure and you redirect or correct as necessary. (Although sometimes toddlers just plain don’t listen at all! Oh my trouble bear!)

But eventually, at some point in time, the big goal is that our children choose to obey because they have respect for us and our wisdom and authority. And most of all because they have The Lord in their heart and a desire to serve and love others. We aim for hearts that are loving, kind, and always seeking the wisest choice. At least we can hope, right???

So my question is, how do you foster heart obedience? Not a blind obedience to authority (because goodness knows there are plenty of times that an ‘authority’ figure might ask you to make a morally questionable decision or such) but a respectful obedience. A knowledge of when to listen and how to respectfully choose not to listen. How do you make the transition from “I’m mom so do it because I said so!?” And how do you do it with mercy and grace to protect the growing heart of your little one?

I’ve been focusing on this lately in my quiet time and I have lots of thoughts, but I really wanted to hear from other wise women!

Ultimately, I do think it comes down to making sure The Lord is in the heart of your child, because all wisdom and respect will come from Him. So obviously that is an important focus, but I do think there are other steps that start much younger than they can make the choice to accept Christ into their hearts.

What do you think??

How do you do it? | Tips and Tricks

I can not tell you how many times I get told- “I don’t know how you do it!” and I usually respond, “I don’t know either!” or “I don’t, He does it!” Haha! But the truth is- I do NOT do it all. However, I have figured out a few tips and tricks that make things a bit easier. So for the sake of helping other mamas ’embrace the little years,’ I thought I would share some things that work for me with four under four!

Pre-fix meals.

Of course, we all know the concepts behind freezer cooking, and I’ve posted on that before, and I do frequently make things in large quantities and freeze for later. And I usually try to have dinner prepped BEFORE the dreaded 4:00 hour. Because if they see me in the kitchen then, all they want to do is eat!

But what about breakfast and lunch? Between changing diapers and breaking up fights and children clinging to my legs, it takes me at least a half hour or more to make breakfast and lunch each day. And my kids wake up HUNGRY. I used to try to get up when I heard the first one stirring and get breakfast on their plates (with hubby’s help as he heads out the door!), but with a baby in the house who generally wakes around the same time needing a bottle, this is hard to do.  So instead of the craziness of kids in the kitchen while I’m making food; every night before I go to bed, I make (or prep) breakfast and lunch for the next day. It usually only takes 20 minutes, and I’m able to get things in and out of the fridge without little fingers making grabs for condiments or carrots. I color code the lids (because Jonah can’t have dairy) and pop them in the fridge for the next day! Not surprisingly, I’ve found I use up food more efficiently and get a better rounded meal when I have the time to stop and dig in the fridge and think it through.  Now I would say that half our mornings start with eggs, and although I’ve tried precooking them, they are just better freshly scrambled, so instead, I get the rest of the breakfast prepped in their containers, mix up the eggs, and have them ready in the fridge to scramble in the morning- which only takes a few minutes.

(Oh, and starting my overnight cold press coffee before bed helps too!)

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Have a routine.

I find that my kids work best on a schedule, a routine. We all get up and eat breakfast right around 7, snack at 9:30, lunch is at 11:30/12, the twins go down for naps at 12:45, Jarvis down at 1:30, they all get up around 3/3:30 and have snack, dinner is at 5:30, twins to bed at 7:30 and Jarvis at 8. (and Jeanie is currently on a four hour eating schedule starting 6:30/7 with two long naps and a cat nap). I am still working on making the activities in between a bit more scheduled (free time, creative activity time, busy bags time, etc), as my kids really THRIVE with predictability and we all love to know what/when the next thing happens. Obviously this changes a bit on days Jarvis has preschool or we have morning plans, but an overall routine helps a lot on those stay at home days. Find your groove and routine and settle in!

Listen to worship music.

There’s a lot of noise in my house. a lot. a lot. I’ve always liked it quiet. But I am embracing the noise. And for some reason, my kids play better with music in the background. Usually, we listen to contemporary Christian in the house, and kids Christian in the car. And besides my kids playing together better, I’ve found it’s easier to find my own patience and joy while humming along to worship music. Pandora is my friend!

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Outsource whenever possible.

This is of course dependent on your personal lifestyle and funds and is something you will have to discuss with your spouse. After the twins were born, it quickly became apparent that something “had to give.” We consider feeding our kids real food prepared at home very important, and I spend a good amount of time on preparation of those foods. When I have a newborn, I try to prep as much food as possible so we can “eat of the freezer” but I also do not have qualms with buying whole wheat bread instead of making my own. However, hands down, the things that I find the hardest to complete with lots of small children in the house is cleaning the floors and bathrooms! I vacuum nearly daily thanks to dog/cat hair, but mopping and bathrooms are very hard for me to complete with little feet slipping and little fingers pulling at toilet paper! We have decided that hiring someone to come in biweekly or weekly to clean the floors and bathrooms is a worthy investment in our home life right now. We carefully budget for it, and they can clean in one hour what would take me several hours while tending to children! If you can’t afford to hire someone, see if there is a church member or family member who would be willing to donate an hour a week to watch the kids while you clean, or clean for you. Or maybe you need help cooking and they can donate a meal once every week or two. Or maybe you need to grocery shop alone and they can watch kids for an hour, or grocery shop for you. Don’t be afraid to ask for help!! One of the best gifts I got when the twins were born was when three friends showed up at my door, set me up a foot soak and started cleaning my house, completely unasked. 🙂

Mandatory nap or rest time.

For EVERYONE in the house- even you, mama! I find that I rarely sit unless I am feeding a baby (and even then I am often walking around!).  All my kids still nap (Praise the LORD!), but even if they aren’t napping, rest time while the littler ones nap is important. I let myself lay down a couple times a week without guilt! But even if I’m not laying down, I try to spend at least half of nap time SITTING down. Even if I’m folding laundry or on the floor sorting toys, I try to sit. This mental and physical downtime is an important refresh for the second half of the day, for everyone! And this is when I occasionally blog!

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Find time to spend in His word.

Oooo, this one is so hard for me! It’s currently a work in progress for me, but find someone to hold you accountable to finding time to spend soaking in His word. I have trouble ignoring my to do list and focusing on Him. Whether it is first thing in the quiet morning, during your nap time rest time, or after the kiddos are tucked into bed, it’s important to focus on your heart and where He wants you to be. Here are a few books I have read recently, but also be sure to spend time simply reading the Bible and not just study books- that’s a hard one for me!

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My favorite book with practical, biblically based tips on handling a home with a large family is Large Family Logistics. It’s amazing!! I HIGHLY recommend it! A lot of the practices are intended for a mix of big and little kids, and I’m excited to implement them as my kiddos get bigger!

 

So what are your tips? What are the little things you do during the day to make things run smoothly?