Tools of the Trade

We took a short trip to my in-laws' cabin a couple weeks ago, and left for home at bedtime. The boys fell asleep fairly quickly, but when we stopped at the A&W drive thru for sustenance root beer and cheese curds, baby S was not happy. My genius husband recommended using my white noise app - and 20 seconds later, baby was out cold.

In addition to white noise machines, here are some excellent tools of mommyhood that I've picked up along the way:

CamelBak water bottles for kids & mommies make everyone happier. Staying hydrated, especially in hot weather, always makes us feel better! Plus, they don't leak or break, and for some reason I drink way more water out of this than out of a cup. I will warn you - be sure to wash it every once in awhile, even if it just holds water. The silicone spout can get mildewy after awhile. (Ask me how I know.)

Whole carrots (not the baby kind) have been great for baby S to chew on during dinner - especially when we're out and need something to occupy him for awhile. He's pretty good about just shaving off slivers with his tiny teeth, but I still keep a close eye on him just in case. Now when I get the carrots out of the fridge, S crawls over to me and starts to whine for one! Atta boy.

Silicone kitchen utensils make great toys. They are fairly indestructible, I don't mind if baby chews on them, and they're easy to hold. You do get some funny looks when you bring a whisk out in public, though. :)

Apps like Disney Junior, Jake's Pirate School, Monkey Math, Cut the Rope, and ABC tracing can be lifesavers during hectic times. I usually let my 3-year-old play on my phone while I make dinner to maintain some sort of sanity while baby is whining and pots are overflowing. ;)

Buckets & plastic gloves make for an excellent trash/treasure hunt outside. The toddler gets excited about piratey things these days, so treasure hunts are right up his alley. We enjoy finding bits of moss and fungus, unique rocks, and flowers - and also do our duty to keep our neighborhood clean at the same time!

Music. I don't know how many times an upbeat song has turned a rough day around. J loves "I will Find You" by Jimmy Needham, and "Boat Song" by JJ Heller. We also like to make up silly songs like "Macaroni and Hungry Pickles" to the tune of "Are you Sleeping?"

What are your tools of the trade? How do you turn around a rough day with kiddos?


My baby brother is a missionary!

Oh, friends, it makes my heart so achingly full to type those words. The little boy I used to have tickle fights with is moving to Ecuador tomorrow for a year or two, or maybe more.

He'll be living in the jungle, teaching English to five year olds, sharing his wide smile and his Jesus-love. And I think back to sitting up too late having long theological discussions, and teaching him about how to treat a girl, and how he makes friends with everyone he meets. And I pray for protection, accountability, close fellowship, and most importantly for God to grow and use him.

It hurts my heart to know he'll be so very far away, that we will miss out on each other's lives for a time. And yet I know that he will be blessed as he puts God first. This little guy I used to teach is now teaching me so much.

I love you hermano!


Ordinary days made holy

On any given workday, this is my life in a nutshell:

12am - baby wakes, feed baby
3am - baby wakes, feed baby
5:30am - wake up, get ready for work, feed baby
6:15am - leave for work
6:30am - get on bus, read today's Bible verses from the #shereadstruth YouVersion plan, pray (or sleep. Or surf Facebook/Twitter)
7:15am - arrive at work, eat breakfast while checking emails
8:30am - pump, then back to work
12:00pm - pump, eat lunch, back to work
3:00pm - pump ( that's a dangerous word to misspell!) :)
3:45pm - leave work, catch my bus, take a nap or read on the way home
4:30pm - pick up J, have a snack while doing dishes and catching up on his day
5:00pm - Nana drops off S, attempt to entertain both while making dinner. (Or decide on takeout and play until Daddy gets home.) :) Feed baby when he gets cranky.
6:15pm - Hubby gets home, eat dinner, clean up
7:00pm - play outside/wrestle time/etc
7:30pm - bath time
8:00pm - feed baby, tuck kids in
8:30pm - put J back in bed (repeat a few times usually...)
9:00pm - get ready for tomorrow, watch tv, talk to the Hubby, or crash on the recliner
10:30pm - crawl into bed

This ordinary life, it's exhausting. There is very little "me" time or couple time. There is little time for housework or hobbies or seeing friends and family. And some days I'm just beat. Other days I remember to look with God's eyes on the important work and worship that is happening here. It is not easy. But Christ makes it worth it, makes me worthy, redeems the ordinary and makes it holy.

These days are meaningful because of Christ. Going to work is not just for the sake of gaining money, power, or success - it is to serve Christ, to love my coworkers and my family. Making dinner and feeding my baby are not just for survival, but to serve Christ, to nourish the bodies He gave us, to enjoy each other's company. The more I recognize Him in the menial, everyday things, the more my heart sees him, the more alive I become.

I've been mulling over Romans 12:1-3 from the Message translation:

"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

I'm speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it's important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him." (emphasis mine)

I have a question for you, friends -- do you struggle to see your everyday tasks as worship? How can we consciously offer our ordinary days to God?



One year later

It's been a busy, out-of-breath, sore arms, loud house, full heart kind of year. I've been weak, sick, tired, stressed out, but God has given me strength, joy, hope and encouragement.

Samuel James was born on October 19, 2012 - little brother to Josiah (almost 4), the wiggliest baby ever, a lover and a fighter. He was born in an intensely beautiful natural waterbirth, and I will forever be grateful for how peacefully he entered this world. The labor nurse and midwife agreed it was the calmest birth they'd witnessed - all praise to God for that one! He gave me such strength, rest, and peace, and all I learned from birthing Sam stays with me as I continue this labor of motherhood.

Life lessons from labor:
1. God's peace and calm lessen the sting of pain - stress and worry only heightens it
2. Rest when you can! Us mommies never know how much we'll sleep on any given night, or when baby will wake up from a nap. Enjoy those times of rest to the fullest - even if it's just a breath between a contraction. :)
3. Meditate on God's Word - soak it in through prayer, music, reading, talking about it - it is our bread, our sustenance.
4. When in doubt, turn on some calming music and take a bath! Getting in that birthing tub right before transition was so relaxing - and us mamas need to just take some time out every once in awhile. :)

Family photos from Memorial Day 2012:

Hopefully I'll be back more often in the year to come - I look forward to sharing more of what God is doing in my life and in my family!