Monday, November 4, 2013

Mooooooved.

Hi All!!!  New blog location and new blog title (and new house too! :).  I imported the posts but only a few are showing up right now.  Feel free to visit, here at Accentuate the Pauseitive.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Finding Freedom In Dependence

The first mother had the opportunity to give her children the perfect life, even before they were born. She'd never heard of colic, food allergies, asthma, or leukemia.  She had everything she wanted, and then she wanted to be God... Her first and only mistake made her less like him, though, when sin entered the world and made her the enemy.  Her punishment and ours?  Pain.  The consequence of living in a fallen world.  The punishment mentioned specifically because of her mistake?  Labor pain. (And this is someone who dedicated every single day of her first pregnancy to Hypnobabies! ;)

I remember my first experience with labor; I remember all 26 hours of it.  From the feeling of defeat that came over me, 18 hours into the experience when the doctor broke my water and said I couldn't have an epidural just yet, to the unparalleled joy that was gifted to me on the 26th hour, when I saw the face of the blessing that made it all worth it.  The most unspeakable pain gave birth to one of the purest loves I have ever known. And it makes sense, because it fulfills God's promise.  Not the promise of pain, that was a consequence, but the promise that we would all be delivered from our pain.  It's the symbolic fulfillment of hope that God works all things for our good when we follow him, in spite of and during our inevitable human pain. 

But this pure love is so hard to keep, and the thought of it being taken from me in an instant brings a wave of sickness over me like nothing else can; the loss of a child is one of the worst pains, I imagine.  In those 26 hours I experienced what I would know for the rest of my life: the constant struggle of how to move forward when I'm not sure how to, the determination to have faith in God's divine strength in my most vulnerable moments, the constant reminder of my human limitations.  All of these provide me with the opportunity to restore what Eve destroyed, the possibility of being as close to my God as humanly possible.  

Success arises out of these opportunities when I learn to do the very thing she failed to do: Depend on Him for my identity.  To not allow sin to define me, whether it's the fear of losing my child, the fear of failing that child, or the fear of not being enough.  

I don't believe it was a mistake that the angel Gabriel first appeared to Mary before Joseph, when he announced they would be Christ's earthly parents.  I also don't believe it was a coincidence that Jesus first appeared to women when he resurrected.  Eve was the first person to bring suffering into the world, and God sent his own son born of a human woman to provide the sacrifice that would end spiritual suffering by enduring and overcoming more physical and spiritual pain than any of us would ever know.  The pinnacle was when he announced the end of spiritual pain by first appearing to a woman, Mary Magdalene.

We know that Jesus himself cried out to his father at the crucifixion, much like we do when we feel alone in our struggles.  We are also told, in that very moment God turned his face away because Jesus made himself the ultimate offering in our place by representing all the sin of the world.  This is something we will never have to know.  

As mothers, we would trade places with our children in their moments of suffering if we could, but we cannot.  Daily, we lay our lives down for them in various ways, though.  We function on little sleep and still love them the best we can, even when we are not at our best.  We make financial sacrifices for them.  Directly and indirectly, our time becomes their time.  Our meals are cold while theirs are warm.  We exchange a sneeze in the face for a kiss.  And the best part?  As it's been said before, only they know what our heartbeat sounds like from the inside.  They turn toward our familiar voice when they are just newborns.  Even our smell comforts them.  We share all of these things and more with our Heavenly Father.  He delights in our joy in the same way, too.  

We often forget these things, as our children do when they are angry at us.  But our Father's voice manifests itself in various ways throughout our day; he whispers to us and we are comforted by his promises.  Metaphorically, we know the sound of his heartbeat because we were made in his image.

So, yes, Eve may be the one to blame for our labor pains.  But God used that situation to our advantage, and he's made it known in so many obvious ways, these are just a few of them.  May 14, 2010 is Mirabel's birthday, but it also marks the day that I began the journey of discovering and depending on God more than ever before. 

Christianity is often criticized as being an enemy of feminism. But let me tell you, the most vocal and fair feminist I know is Christ himself.  There is greatness in manhood, too, of course--just look at that man's life!  But femininity itself is depicted as weakness, and motherhood is sometimes viewed as second-rate, or settling. I believe we all have our calling, but I know I have found mine because everyday I find myself in situations, both unbelievably difficult and wonderful, that allow for a greater understanding of love, or my Creator.  Isn't that the reason for our existence, anyway?

God doesn't promise the absence of pain in any situation, but he promises his presence.  We decide his proximity, though.  I believe that God uses motherhood as a unique vehicle to draw us near.  It's an on-going job that offers unending challenges with blessings that only reveal themselves when we allow God to reveal himself during those challenges by depending on him.  Eve missed the point.  God didn't want her to be him, he wanted her to know him by drawing near so that she would realize she wasn't lacking anything, after all.  

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Another First Birthday


I love how her little belly hangs over her tutu skirt :)

I'm not very organized.  Clean, yes, but not organized.  So it's no surprise that I have a really hard time keeping track of photos.  I take most of my pictures with my phone, because it's usually easily accessible, and most of our photos end up on our external hard drive because I have ZERO room on my computer.  We (actually Jose, he's the organized one) try to organize photos every so often.  Thankfully, the program we use to do this categorizes photos based on date (and I'm so happy this is the case).  
I haven't even created a post for Mirabel's third birthday.  I've been meaning to do it, but I think those photos are now on our external hard drive, since I cannot find them on my computer :P.  To make things fair, though, I did want to make a post about Juju's first birthday (since we made one for her sister's first birthday a few years ago).
So...here's our cupcake's first birthday....

Hanging out by the water table.  Juliette loves being outside, and she really, really loves the water.  August is the hottest month in Texas, so it only made sense to throw her a water party.

...And cupcakes were the theme because my mom bought this cupcake tablecloth a few months ago :P. I wanted to keep things pretty low key, and I didn't want to spend too much (we're closing on our house September 30th, so we're trying to keep expenses down!).  I used what I had or what I could print, buy at the dollar store, or buy on Craig's list for $12 (someone just had a cupcake party for their daughter :).


Those inflatable cupcakes in the background were part of my Craig's List cupcake decor score!


I have a mini pie pan.  I really wanted to buy a cake pan shaped like the #1, but it made more sense to just use the mini pie pan to make Juju her very own tiny cake.  It was an orange cake with maple orange frosting, some of the other cupcakes were orange cranberry (because I had leftover cranberry chevre from the farmer's market that I had to use, of course ;).


All the cupcakes, again!  That one in the middle took the longest to bake, but I'd say she came out the tastiest and was made with the most love ;).  

This has been a very interesting year for us as parents.  Difficult at times, not gonna lie, many times, but Juju's brought a sparkle into our lives.  She is usually all-smiles and is already trying to give us kisses as she grabs our faces with her little chubby hands and puts her open mouth against our cheek--a good effort for a one year old, I'd say :).  To be honest, I actually expected things to be a lot harder with the second kiddo (tough experience the first time around, wanted to prepare myself).  But from the early morning she was born, she's surprised us with her easy going spirit.  I still can't believe she slept 8 hours after she came out and greeted us with her tiny cry.  Nowadays, she wakes up for a midnight snack or two from Momma's free 24 hour Diner...but I'm enjoying having her so close still at this age, literally right next to me in bed :). 

Mirabel brings much more than a sparkle ;).  She is the girl we don't have to worry about, she is strong and very spirited, and knows how to express herself.  Lately, it's been so sweet seeing them interact and start playing together. 
 Mirabel loves to rough house and, surprisingly, Juju (Juliette) doesn't mind much.  She may be tinier than her sister was at this age, but she's equally as fun.  
Together, they make life delicious.  They each bring their own spice to the mix, making for the perfect batch of cupcakes.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

If I wrote a book...

I'd have no problem coming up with the title.  It'd be something like: I Am That Mom (It Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time! Don't Judge).  

I see it and hear about it all the time: moms judging other moms.  The truth is, whether you're a mom or not, you don't know the whole side of the story.  This, really, applies to everything/everyone in life, but I think motherhood has influenced my perspective on this issue the most.
Mirabel loves watching Disney princess movies right now.  Though she will always be my little princess, I'm not going to lie...of all the Disney characters I know of, she resembles Mowgli from the Jungle Book the most.  This kid is something else.  When she gets home, she likes to strip off all her clothing, except her underwear (but she usually requests a new pair about 3 times a day).  Then she begins to scream about her hair.  If the pigtails aren't snugly glued to her head (not literally, but she hates when they start to slip), the screaming begins.  I'm not exaggerating.  In fact, I believe saying she screams puts it lightly.  It's an ear piercing cry that sounds a whole lot like what you'd hear out in the wild: it's the sound of a suffering animal giving its final cry, after it's been ripped apart by a ruthless beast.  Yes, this happens on the daily, multiple times.

So, of course, when it's too hot to go to the park (triple digits out), I try to find something fun to do indoors.  Fun is probably not the word I should use.  Entertaining and fun aren't the same thing, I've learned, at least not for all parties involved.  A clever idea of mine: I know, why don't I take my kids to the LIBRARY?!  Yes, because, given the fact that even my youngest prefers to spend time playing/rolling/bathing in the dirt (or eating it) buck naked (or with just a diaper on), I can't imagine why the kiddos wouldn't want to quietly cuddle up and read a beautifully illustrated book with more words than a Charles Dickens novel (why are all children's books so lengthy!!!!  Ok, maybe getting thru one page doesn't really take an eternity...) 

Sometimes we actually go to the library to check out a book.  I've given that a break.  For some reason or another, these books usually get trapped/lost in random places, like between the bed and the wall (proof that my kid enjoys "reading" during her naptime, when I'm not in the room--of course she's quiet and still when I'm not around).  Then, when due date comes around, I can't find it... and chances are, despite the fact that I've had the book in my possession for a month, we've only gotten thru half (or the Cliff's notes version: I read two lines and silently read the rest to myself, then quickly summarize it in the most dramatic way possible, to keep them engaged for 5 seconds, or less.)

So keep this in mind when reading the following:
A few young boys enter the library around the same time we do.  Then, we pass by another kid who kindly asks his mother if he can borrow a movie, the mother responds by saying, "No, we're getting books, we have plenty of movies at home."  I walk by holding not just 1, but 3 movies, because we don't own any Disney movies (and when I need a break from the screaming, I put on a movie...but why do I need to explain myself.  Oh wait!  I don't.)  Mirabel approaches this family with her beloved Ariel movie en tow.  She's the most outgoing kid in the bunch, and, thankfully, doesn't care what anyone thinks of her movie-watching (I could stand to learn a thing or two from this kid).  

After introducing herself to the family, she makes her way to the pile of giant stuffed animals in the children's section, where the boys we entered the library with are jumping/rolling around.  Mirabel joins in on the fun, and why not?  Man, I should've too.  Instead, I scurry around the early readers section, trying to quickly find a book with a theme Mirabel will appreciate, realizing this book is more for me than my kids.  Meanwhile, Juliette is climbing chairs in an effort to reach the tabletop, since that's the most dangerously exciting thing she can do in that part of the library at the moment.  Two minutes pass, and I decide it's time to leave (we're heading to the Toybrary after this, because going to one library wasn't enough. ;)  Thankfully, we get out of there without any tears.  Success!  (It's the little things that make you smile, really.)  Leaving without tears is progress, yesssss!!!!

So, we head to the Toybrary for a Teddy Bear Tea Party!  Mirabel decides she wants to bring her naked barbie along instead of her bear (I think Mirabel would prefer to attend without clothing, too, but I convince her that we aren't attending a tea party at a commune.  I can't blame her, I want to strip down when it's 1,000 degrees too.)  Before the tea party begins, kids from various ages gather around to play in this colorful indoor space which is really set up to test their sharing skills.  We have a few frustrating moments, involving a certain broom (yes, a broom, I've trained my kid well; she loves being domestic already!  Heck yeah!).  A certain toddler about a year younger than Mirabel is convinced he needs this broom to survive.  A tantrum begins, and this time it's not my kid, though I empathize with the mother because it looks like that mom has a Mowgli of her own.  I pull Mirabel aside and explain to her that the little boy is younger than her, and that she should share the broom with him because he is sad.  She walks over to the boy and hands him the broom!  Holy smokes, a miracle!!!!  Suddenly, my hearing returns in spite of all the screaming fits that took place that week, and I feel like a rockstar!  Heck yes.  Mom walks over to me, and gives me props, saying, "Your daughter is so sweet!".  I ignore her for a few seconds while I dust the dirt off my shoulders, and then I say, "It took us awhile to get here, but thank you."  I hope she's encouraged, too, because it takes time...  And a lot of tears, from everyone.

Then, not long after that, when the story begins, one of my kids climbs onto the stage while the other one pulls up a chair and begins climbing onto the shop owner's desk, while very loudly begging her to open the door to the other playroom.  Of course, both of the moms I'm next to (actually, all the mothers in the room) have these quiet little girls sitting peacefully beside them with these elaborate lunches before them (the crusty ends of a smashed peanut butter and honey sandwich, what I whipped together while one kid was crying and the other was asking a million questions, are hiding in the lunch bag I brought along).  They don't speak above a whisper, I think, or maybe my hearing is going again because all I hear are my oldest's deafening screams?  This time, leaving is a struggle.  I try to use my superhero mom multitasking skills to find a way to fly out the door while carrying two flailing, fussy children.  But somehow, thankfully, the tantrum only lasts 15 seconds.  Then, the battle is over and we head to the grocery store, our other favorite hangout.  It's air conditioned, right?! 

 A few more dramatic moments and then we begin slowing down for the afternoon.  Somehow, we end up outside without much clothing on again (I still have mine on, because it's a good day).  My children are angels outdoors.  I cannot tell you what peace they have about them when they're covered in dirt and sunshine.  I text Jose and tell him that we need to start saving up to move to a farm with acres of land, because that would easily solve all our problems, right? :)  Then, we watch Mulan.  

It's a good day; I've learned to get over it, or I'm learning.  And it's not just about learning to get over the tantrums, those are inevitably going to happen at this age.  So are the judgey looks and the "words of advice" from random people who think they've got it figured out--the folks who are convinced their children behave in all circumstances because they are stellar parents--as if they really have something to do with it at their children's tender age of 2 or 3.  But what they don't have figured out is the obvious: we are all born with certain strengths and weaknesses.  We all come out screaming.  Hopefully, if we're lucky, we're tossed into the loving arms of the clueless creatures we call parents.  Hopefully, they love us and want the best for us, because everyone deserves that much.  Just because my children watch Disney movies doesn't mean they will amount to nothing but Cheeto-eating (or sponge-chewing, if your name is Juju) couch poatoes with an IQ of 5, or that they will never appreciate a good book.  Somehow, her parents came out ok ;).

The truth is, there's something we can all learn from each other.  I learn something from my little Mowgli's every day.  In the wise words of another beloved Disney character, Pinocchio, "Always let your conscience be your guide."  As a parent, instead of worrying about what other parents think of you, ask yourself what influences your conscience, or rather, who.  I seek to follow in the footsteps of the ultimate Father.  I've lost my way many times, but He still helps me out even when I'm kicking and screaming.  I owe my children that much.  I'm still learning, too, because it never stops.  
 

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