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.  

Friday, July 26, 2013

Amazing Moms

Last week, I came across a blogger who has had to deal with so much more than most mom bloggers, I'd say.  She's an inspiration because of her unwavering faith and trust in God during a time that most of us might even doubt his existence.  Her love for her children and family shines thru in every post, and you should go check out her blog here.

Then, today, a friend shared another lovely lady's blog.  Just read about her on her bio page and you'll be amazed...read THIS STORY and your heart will melt; more love and strength pouring out.  
And...her kids are hilarious.  Read this if you don't believe me ;).

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Yes!

YES yes yes!!!  I'm so dang excited, I could hardly shut up last night and fall asleep because I kept talking to Jose about what we were researching all day... online graduate degree programs!!!!  I can't wait to be a student again!!!

My heart is about to burst from the excitement.  Let me begin by saying that in undergrad, I changed my major 5 times.  Yes, FIVE!  I feel like I didn't quite fit anywhere.  I wanted to be an elementary school teacher, but I also loved to write.  So I did English and minored in Applied Learning and Development, and figured I could become a teacher later.  

Then... I had kids.  That was not a setback or an inferior choice.  In fact, I'm glad I had them because I don't think I would've really figured things out without them.  After having Mirabel, I tossed around the idea of going on to study child development a bit more.  Maybe become a school counselor.  I really loved all of my child development classes/labs.  I've also wanted to open up a bakery, a gluten-free one.  But at the end of the day, I wouldn't feel right just baking cakes and cookies all day.  Yes, baking desserts for people can make the world a happier place, temporarily... still wasn't feeling it all the way, though.  And, hey, I may do it later on in life, but...

HB2 happened.  Not only that, but I've always been very passionate about many of the issues behind it.  In middle school/high school, I would visit care pregnancy centers with my mom, sometimes we'd volunteer.  I've wanted to counsel there for years.  In college, I looked into becoming a counselor there...but then other things came up.  The desire to help has always been there, and lately that desire has become more of an, "I need to do this, no excuses!" type of thing.  After HB2, I knew I couldn't make anymore excuses.

There are going to be a lot more babies born into a variety of difficult circumstances.  My favorite quote comes to mind,  "It is easier to build strong children than repair broken men" (Frederick Douglas).  What else comes to mind?  So many other horrific events that have happened lately, all related to the break down of family and insecure parental attachments, maybe not in obvious ways but definitely related.  From the heartbroken mothers on "I'm Having Their Baby," who can't keep their babies because they have no familial support system, and who find themselves struggling because their own parental relationships were likely not where they should be... to boys brainwashed by terrorism, whose mothers are not who they should be, or where she should be.  (I read that Rolling Stone article, and it has break down of family written all over it, definitely among other things.)  

All of this, yes all of it, coupled with the convictions stirred up after reading the book I mentioned in my last post... Not to mention, a study that Jose discussed with me that was brought up in a different book he is reading.  It's a study that mentions how children can grow up psychologically stable in spite of difficult extenuating circumstances if the attachments with their mothers are secure (a mothers role is so much more important that society thinks!).

And I won't get over the fact that I have been blessed and spared myself--can't ignore the motivating force behind a personal testimony.    

Have you ever felt like everything was pointing you in a certain direction?  Or I should say that God was just showing you so many things, all related to the one thing you just can't ignore anymore?  That's how I feel right now.  And I'm not scared anymore, that's how I know it's the right thing to do.
There will be Math (ahhh, yikes!  My brain was not made for it).  There will be tears; late nights; tests.  There will be situations that I cannot improve--all of these situations I will have to leave in God's hands.  I will say, though, he has made a way and will make a way.  

We've done research over the weekend, and I think we've found the right program.  To sum up future plans, basically I will get my MA in Marriage and Family therapy, then I will find a way to get an internship that specializes in child-parent psychotherapy (CPP).  I will be doing this over the course of the next four years (because I will be going at a snail's pace, still taking care of my kiddos ;)... and one day, I hope to do a few other things, but for now I'm just embarking on the first step of this adventure by enrolling in a statistics class. (Please keep me in your prayers!!!  Thankfully my hubby is a math wiz, so I've got a great tutor that I can pay in cookies. ;)  
(I know stats may not be a big deal to some, but, seriously, if you know me...you KNOW this is a big step for a math weenie like me. ;)

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..."

 Mirabel outside of Savenor's in Cambridge, MA.  May 2011.  And that's Julia Child's writing in the pavement!

This past weekend was a rainy one.  Very refreshing for July.  I can't remember the last time it rained in July, in Austin.  We stayed home on Sunday and spent naptime organizing photos.  I think we have more than 21K now (I've got a great camera on my phone that I love to use!).  

Looking at photos is bittersweet.  Jose used to insist that it was impossible to enjoy a moment if I was hiding behind a camera the whole time.  But now that our kids are growing up (well, Mirabel is 3 and time's flying by to me), he doesn't complain much about it anymore ;).  I don't want to forget these moments.  I've already forgotten how squishy Mirabel's rolly legs used to feel like.  I'm glad I at least have those pictures.  One thing I can't forget: How tough it was being a mom the first time around.

I remember waiting for the day she could walk, somehow thinking it would get easier (Ha! Amateur!).  But Mirabel didn't walk, she ran...and she didn't stop, until she was almost 3.  I savor these last few pre-walking days with Juliette, even though she is quite squirmy in my arms.  At 11 months, she's already trying to take off at the store, even though she doesn't get very far doing the army crawl and the sideways moonwalk.  You should've seen me today at Mirabel's ballet class.  There were a few other pre-walkers there, but Juju was the only one squirming until I put her down, and wiggling across the floor in search of a goldfish crumb or two, or maybe even a leaf.  She's so curious and energetic, but still squishy.  

Before Juliette was born, I managed to finish a scrapbook with a few favorite pictures from Mirabel's first year.  I haven't even started on Juliette's.  2 years ago, I bought a first year picture collage frame for Mirabel.  I tried buying one for Juliette yesterday, at the same store, and they no longer sell it.  I was more sad about it than I should've been.  Mom guilt, anyone?  But looking at those pictures over the weekend made me feel like I'd already lost my first baby and I was beginning to lose my second.  I mentioned it to Jose, and in that same conversation I realized that we're also gaining something more than what we had before.  Little did I know 3 years ago that Mirabel would someday love to dance, would befriend any passer-by with a friendly hello (followed by a hug), would want to watch Beauty and the Beast 3 times in one week, and would love to make robots from empty cartons... These moments are just as priceless as the ones before, and I'm slowly learning to live in and appreciate right now, and not yesterday or tomorrow, whether the babies are squishy or not.

Strawberry picking in Fredericksburg, TX.

As lovely as it all sounds, I've also had the opportunity to witness a few less pleasant traits blossom in this child whose personality is as curly as her ringlets.  Yes, she was the one expressing her frustration quite loudly today in class, as she struggled to put on her tap shoes all by herself.  And I admit, this is another moment that I wish I could press rewind or fast forward.  (Then I realize I don't really want to press fast forward, because if she's like this now, how will she be at 16 ;)?)  I see the little hairs on her head curl even tighter with every impatient scream... and I remember that God has a sense of humor.

Even though it wasn't fun to watch, I didn't take it too personally today.  Because, like everything else, that moment passed.  And I also remembered what I'd read just a few days prior, in a book that has been incredibly encouraging, and has given me a new perspective on moments like these that make up the beauty of motherhood... Drum roll, please.  That book is called: The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson.

It's like a refreshing slap in the face.  It's honest and so right on.  I think I've highlighted 98.9% of the book so far, but here are my favorite quotes,  the ones that are setting me straight:


"...servant leadership is the model that Jesus gave to us for all areas of our lives, including our roles as mothers.  He reached the minds, hearts and lives of his disciples not just by telling them what to do but by serving them in love--an example the contrasts starkly to the common view of what leadership is all about." (p. 63)

"Choosing to be a servant-mother means willingly giving up myself, my expectations, and my time to the task of mothering--and choosing to believe that doing so is the best use of my time at that moment.  It means that, by faith, I have already made a decision to make myself available in the routine tasks and myriad interruptions of daily life because I believe it is God's will for me to serve my family through them.  Making this choice ahead of time means I will expect problems and needs to arise and be ready to deal with them in peace instead of impatience and resentment." (p. 67)

"...the future is not where real life began.  Each day was God's perfect will for me.  There would be no wasted years of 'just taking care of the needs of my young children.' On the contrary, these years would be the most important of my life." (p. 68)

Juju almost a year ago!  She'll be a year next month!



Monday, July 1, 2013

The A Word

And NO I'm not talking about donkeys.  Or the party they represent!!!
My husband says I'm the biggest feminist he's ever met.  And guess what?  I'm also the most vocally pro-life person he's ever met, too.  Everyone's got something they're passionate about.  This my thing, right here, peeps.  Feel free to read or ignore.  I don't mind either way.
Have you ever been in labor?  If you haven't: Nothing compares to labor, folks.  It feels like you're being ripped in two, and sometimes you really are.  It is not for the faint of heart, huh, as you might imagine thanks to my lovely description. The uterus is stronger than any other muscle in the human body for a reason.  It's a powerful vessel that deserves to have its rights protected…and therein lies room for debate. But the debates we're having distract from the real issue.
We value freedom and independence in our country.  Freedom of speech, dress, choice… But in trying to define independence, we've lost site of it; we've forgotten that true independence can only exist alongside dependence--on more than just ourselves.  I, personally, believe that dependence should be rooted in God, but I'll try to speak in more general terms, to make a point that doesn't need defending.
Though I am pro-life, you will not find any of my funds going to support an organization that plasters aborted babies (yes, I did just say babies) on massive posters for all eyes to see.  More harm than good comes from that approach.  To me, pro-life means supporting what sustains spiritual, physical, and emotional life.  
Have you ever seen anyone skipping to an abortion clinic with a smile on their face?  Not me.  The few women I know who've had an abortion certainly weren't happy to do it.  Though they were (yes, were) pro-choice, they actually felt robbed of a choice when considering their limited options before going forward with it.  Fear interferes with our ability to make choices.  In fact, it robs us of any true choice, really.  I'm gonna get Christian on you, again, excuse me, but I'm just itching to say it.  Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).  (You knew I was gonna have to throw a little bible in here somewhere, huh?  Just not using the verses you typically see being used in this context. ;)
General Fears: How to break the news to the parents?  How to take care of this baby after it's born, on a limited income, and without ANY SUPPORT (spiritual, physical, and emotional--because, yes, being a mom requires all that kind of support, and then some)? MORE SPECIFIC FEARS: How do I give birth to  a baby that was conceived in an unfortunate event, or at the wrong time, or with some rare health problem?  Though I personally don't believe any conception comes about by accident, I know that's not enough to convince anyone who frowns upon my "uneducated, Christian" way of thinking. But I wanted to add that in, to keep my position on this issue clear.
To really provide choices, we need more than what pro-life and pro-choice politics can offer.  If there were fewer underlying fears, there would be fewer regrets, and fewer debates… because we can all agree that behind these fears is self-doubt, which stems from a lack of support. Liberal feminists will argue that they are strong, independent, and intelligent.  I'm an independent feminist who also considers herself strong, independent, and somewhat intelligent (when my kids let me sleep thru the night ;)-- I didn't get that way on my own.  Anyone who thinks they did is lying to themselves.
Yes, my faith is the primary source of strength.  But I've also been blessed with an amazing support system. We live in an ironically detached society that promotes independence.  I can tell you that I am independent because somebody (thankfully, many somebodys) believed in me by loving me.  Sometimes parents do that, other times it's someone else…  Even as a married adult in a healthy relationship, I cannot imagine what kind of struggle I'd face as a parent if I didn't have a support system.
To those about to formulate an argument that sounds something like, "Well, it's easy for you to be pro-life BECAUSE you had that support system and you're married--you're in a totally different situation."  I'll say this:   My support system doesn't look anything like George Bush's.  It looks more like Obama's.  I'll just leave it at that.  Oh yeah, and I was almost aborted, just a quick sidenote.  So I guess I fall under the, "at the wrong time" category--though my husband would beg to differ.  At age 2, I knew what food stamps were and wore dresses as blouses when they were too short for me.  Thankfully, I am alive because my mother realized she had a support system, and didn't have to make a choice she'd regret, and truly didn't want to make.
To those who say that anyone who gives their child up for adoption is weak, and that it's an easy choice, I'll say this:  Remember what I said about labor--that it can literally tear you in half?  Imagine going thru that kind of pain physically AND emotionally.  Carry a baby for 9 months (it's really 40 weeks, so yeah), go thru 20 something hours of labor, and hand that baby over to someone you hardly know but somehow trust.  EASY?  HECK NO.  I have a hard time leaving my 10 month old with a sitter!!
I watch way too many baby shows, one of them, "I'm Having Their Baby," features an ex female soldier who went to war.  She said she'd rather be at war than give her baby up for adoption.  THESE WOMEN NEED OUR SUPPORT TOO.  To selflessly make that kind of decision requires the kind of strength that could only exist if some kind of support system was in place, before AND after.  THEY ARE GIVING THEIR BABIES A CHOICE; they're placing them in the arms of loving, stable families that will allow them to make their own wise choices as independent adults who understand their freedoms.
Abortion breaks hearts.  Pardon me for getting sentimental, but I think part of the problem is that we've taken the sentimentality away.  My mother used to make a lot of statements that started with, "When you become a mother…"  Well, I'm a mother now, and I feel more passionate on my position  than ever before.  But there's no power in passion without execution--just not the kind that keeps a heart from beating.  Wherever you stand, can you truly say that you're doing your part in showing these women they truly have as many choices as we say they do?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Status Update Fine Prints

One of my last posts was about how people think that the good life is published and talked about a little too much on Facebook, and it bothers them.  Then I mentioned how I like to, personally, talk about the good things so that I don't focus so much on the bad.  Well, I wish Facebook worked more like my brain.  Because sometimes I get stuck focusing on the bad, and it can be very easy to do sometimes.
I tend to spiral.  Usually some kind of event triggers it.  A few weeks ago, I discovered some disheartening news about my dad.  Nearly 15 years of sobriety gone down the drain, just like that, in one day.  It's partly chemical (skipping meds for 4 days when you have a mental illness isn't good), but I know it's also very spiritual.  Sometimes I just want to shake him and say, "Can't you see what you're doing?!  You're supposed to be the parent and somehow, I know more than you."  I just can't make any sense of it, but then again, I've never resorted to drugs or alcohol when depressed.  In fact, I've avoided it like the plague because addiction runs in my family.
Then I got to spiraling myself.  I started thinking about my own childhood.  I know forgiveness is a choice, but it's not just a one-time choice, it's a daily one.  I get really angry sometimes.  I really don't know my dad because he wasn't there when I was a kid, and now he's chemically altered so I don't know the person he used to be.  But my reasons for getting angry today have less to do with my past than with my present...
How do I know how to be a good mom if I didn't have that kind of secure attachment with my own parents?  This weighs on me every day.  Remember the Disney analogy, how I somehow made motherhood out to be this wonderfully amazing thing that just came naturally to everyone?  Some days, it's really easy.  When both my kids actually sleep well and I feel half sane.  Or when I get that random "I love you" in the middle of the day, unexpectedly.  Other days, when my three year old says, "I don't like you" because she doesn't want to eat anything resembling food for breakfast, it's not.  Motherhood does not come naturally on those days.  Acting like a child always comes easily.  I sometimes wish I could throw the eggs on the floor and say, "Fine, don't eat anything, then."  But, instead, I respond by saying, "I'm sorry you don't like me, that hurts my feelings."  Then I put the plate down and walk away.
Little does my three year old know that when she uses this new and exciting phrase to express her disapproval, it really hits me.  Why?  Because I work so dang hard, sometimes I feel like I work harder than I should have to, because of the absent example.
But then it hit me the other day.  We're all lacking an example.  How do we know how to be good people?  How do we define good and how do we know what love is, when, let's face it, we've all been hurt by the people who say they love us.  I believe we know because God put the understanding of his love in all of our hearts.  No, we don't get to see him face to face here on Earth.  But imagine how much easier being a good person would be if we could!  So easy.  To see perfect love being acted out before us every day would make  even driving easier, at least for me ;).
I feel like having great parents is like having training wheels.  It gives you something to lean on when you're unable to ride without falling over on your own.  It gives you a sense of security.  Knowing you won't hit the pavement so quickly if you loose your balance makes riding a whole lot easier.  But just because you never had training wheels doesn't mean you'll never learn how to ride a bike.  It just means you have the opportunity to learn to ride while only trusting the invisible hand.  Training wheels can be removed.  Sometimes they break; sometimes the wheels get jammed.  But we all have God holding onto us.
It sounds so nice, and easy, just saying it.  Ha.  They say when you write something, your brain believes it more than if you just say it out loud.  Today, I hope that's true because my brain is struggling to hear and believe the truth, when there are disappointing memories replaying like a broken record.  It's slowly becoming the background noise, though.
Though I have plenty of moments that literally bring me to my knees in tears as a mom, sometimes a few tears of joy are mixed in with the frustration.  When I focus more on what I'm actually seeing instead of the broken record, I have nothing else to say but, "Thank you."  Thank you, God, for sparing me from drugs, alcohol, and an abusive spouse so that I can have the beautiful family that I've always wanted--the one you provided.  Even though Mirabel may have her, "I don't like you" moments, she also has her, "I love you" moments, and I didn't have either of those with my dad. Progress, we're making it, slowly but surely.
Since becoming a mom, I've been able to let things go a whole lot more.  Maybe it's wrong to say I've been able, more like I've been forced ;).  I've always been a neat-freak, my way of providing order amidst chaos, I guess.  I'd like to think that by leaving toys on the floor for 24 hours and clean clothing in the laundry for 3 days, I'm proving that I no longer need so much artificial order, since my life is not quite as chaotic.  Here's the evidence:
see, I even mixed whites and colors!  Just don't tell my husband ;0).

playroom

guest room, after a horrendous sewing experiment.

....ok, so maybe I decided to sew some dresses instead of clean.  But in order to get this done, I had to let things go.  (And lose sleep, these were made on the nights Juliette decided it was partytime at 2 AM.)

Progress requires letting things go.  I need to let go of the fact that I can't re-do the past.  I will not be the perfect mom, even if I do/did have an ideal childhood.  I will not have cutely dressed children in homemade dresses AND a clean house and wrinkle-free clothing ;)...
But my children are happy, on the days that they like me (when I give them fruit snacks for breakfast instead of eggs ;).  That's all I ever really wanted for them, even before they were born.

**And I finally wrote a post!  But my kitchen is covered in pancake crumbs and I've been asked for a treat about 5 times.  I got up to clean someone's bottom and change the song on the radio about 10 times, for the serious music critic under 4....but I wrote a post!!**

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

June 2013

I am due for a post, but this will have to do for today :).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Facebook life

I recently saw a comment about how people portray their lives as being perfect on social networking sites, like Facebook.  I've even heard people say that these status updates/tweets can breed unhappiness.  But you know what?  To those cynics I say: you're only fooling yourself.  Last time I checked, everyone has problems.  Big or small, they are there.  I'm pretty sure that other people cannot cause unhappiness simply by discussing their own happy moments in a simple status update.  They're just that, after all, status updates.  What's going on right now. Who wants to hear about diaper blowouts?  Literally and figuratively.  I've got plenty of poop that needs wiping up.  But when I do want to share something, or create a hard copy of a funny thought or precious and fleeting moment, I want it to be worth pondering, laughing about, and/or remembering.
I talk a lot about my kids on Facebook, because right now, they're all I read, watch, and smell.  I'm a stay at home mom, after all.  It's not a glamourous job all the time (eventually, I like eating something other than bon bons while sitting on the couch, so I do cook for fun, too), but it's a job I consider myself blessed to have.  Ok, so I do take a few moments to myself (that's why I don't shower as often as I used to, pre-kids HA!).  Sometimes I even spend more than 5 minutes on my hair.  But usually, I'm thinking about them.  It might seem like too much, but I'll tell you--it's really changed my perspective on quite a few things, like...
Eating: 
The funny--I hide candy now.  I feel guilty about sneaking into the closet under our stairs to take a bite of chocolate (the same chocolate I hid from Mirabel after the Valentine's Day Father-Daughter dance at church).  Because I don't want her to have cavities, of course!  I think I need to ask Jose to hide it from me, because I'm the one with a crown, and it's not because I'm queen of this house.
Truth--I actually eat more vegetables now that I have children.  Nursing one baby and trying to convince a toddler that vegetables are healthy, I think about what I eat more than I used to.  Also, I need to stay healthy, because who will take care of them when I'm sick?  ME!  And taking care of kids when you're sick is the hardest job, next to being a navy seal.
Sleeping:
The funny--I've learned how to master the art of sleeping while holding on to the edge of the bed and not rolling over.  Why?  Because, somehow, a baby that's 1/4 my size takes up so much space on a king size bed.
Truth--I never took naps until I had kids.  I do it because I'm a better mom when I'm not sleep deprived.  Oh yes, and I'll live longer (and that's important, I want to be around for the grandkids--one of the best parts!).
Hearing:
The funny--I'm pretty sure Mirabel is going to be an opera singer.  I am also amazed that I can still hear Juliette crying with the bathroom door closed while I'm showering downstairs and the baby monitor is turned off, in spite of and on top of Mirabel's screaming.
Truth--Man, I've never paid attention to song lyrics so much in my life!  Even the tune of a song can get me nervous, these days.  A rough sounding rap song came on while we were listening to music via our TV from our computer's playlist and I was convinced I was gonna have to change it!!!  Turns out it was a Christian rap song LOL.  One of Jose's favorite songs.  But yes, I really pay attention to what I listen to, or even watch.  I thought my parents were overprotective while I was growing up, though they did take it to the extreme, I can understand their paranoia a little bit more now.
Acting:
The funny--This sounds weird.  I don't mean acting as in a theatre production, though sometimes I do fake cry to get Mirabel to obey me (because she does have an empathetic side).  And she is quite the drama queen herself.  But I mean actions, as in verbs.  I guess this would qualify as "drama production" acting, since I do take my own version of an intermission.  Usually I do this after a very dramatic production.  I give myself a time out. 
Truth-- I've learned how to hold back and give more.  You can call this acting, I call it not unleashing my inner sinful human.  I'm still terrible at it.  Awful, even.  I've learned that yelling on top of yelling just make a lot of...noise.  Sometimes I have to force myself to hug my kid when she's screaming at the top of her lungs and having a fit because two legs can't fit into one pant leg, or the right shoe can't fit on the left foot.  Sometimes saying "QUIET" really loudly is not a good idea, but a hug is.  Even when I don't feel like hugging because I've been holding someone all day.  But we both feel better afterward.
Forgiving:
The funny...Ok, there really aren't too many funny moments I can think of to give an example of this one.  Ok, I've learned how to forgive myself when I can't wash all the dishes in the sink before going to bed at night.  Wait, that's not funny (that's kinda pathetic actually).
The truth: You know that word grace?  Oh, I knew it but I didn't really KNOW it until I had children.  I'm not saying that I've had to learn how to show more grace to other people.  There's always room for improvement there.  But I never really considered what it meant to show myself grace...

Growing up, I had this Disneyland idea of motherhood.  I'd be able to get on all the rides because I'd be tall enough (i.e., I'd be able to handle every obstacle/roller coaster with grace and a smile on my face).  Every night would end with a perfect view of the Electrical Parade down on Main Street, as planned.  There'd be a schedule, and all the shows would start on time. It was a very idealized view.  I have a pretty good understanding, now, of why I had this view of motherhood.  But I don't live in a magical kingdom, never have and never will.  I did meet my prince charming, but we're still learning what it means to live happily ever after, with kids. 

I might be able to compare my experience as a mom to Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, just a little.  My two kids do take on each of their personalities quite well, but I've never been able to sleep as soundly as Snow White, that's for sure.  There are some days I feel like Cinderella, cleaning the house with my two little mice and running out the door with only one shoe on. Motherhood is definitely "a whole new world...".  But Jose has learned not to say, "don't you dare close your eyes," because, sometimes, you've just gotta look the other way and pretend like that kid who's licking the bottom of someone's shoe (and enjoying it) isn't yours.  I view my daughters as princesses, that's for sure, but not in a fairytale.  I'm not their fairy godmother.  I cannot change a pumpkin into a beautiful horse-drawn carriage.  But. That. Is. OK. I'm going to make mistakes and cry like a baby in front of them when I've had enough (even though I'm supposed to be the adult). These are the moments you won't see advertised on facebook.  HA!  They are very real because I am very real and not a Disney character.  I just like to document the good times, the random photos, the funny phrases, so that I know what to keep my focus on.  When my 2 year old says that her sister is her best friend, it makes me feel like I'm not doing such a bad job after all!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Almost 3

I'd say some of my toughest mom moments, so far, happened while I was pregnant with Juliette.  Mirabel was a wild and lively toddler who loved to run away, and run even faster as her very pregnant mother chased after her (praying she wouldn't fall on her stomach!).  It was a crazy time.  Even though I have 2 kids, 2 and under, it's much easier now.
But EASY is never a word I'd use to describe motherhood.  At all.  Easier, ok.  That'll do, but not easy.  
Mirabel and Juliette are like fire and water.  Juliette just sits there with a smile on her face, watching her older sister (very impressed).  And who wouldn't be?  Mirabel can dance to any beat (that she likes, and she is very particular about what music she likes).  Mirabel confidently sings songs she doesn't know the words to--and she's teaching me how to do the same.  Ah, Motherhood: Making things up as you go along, and praying for the right words to come along.
I've got a kid that leaves me at a loss for words, that's for sure, and I mean that in every way possible.  I've found that in some situations, silence is the best option.  Got a kid screaming in the back seat because her sock isn't rolled up, and her pant isn't perfectly tucked into her faux pink leather boot, just the way she wants it?  Silence.  Because even if you tell her that as soon as you stop the car, you can solve her gigantic problem, she'll keep making the same request (very loudly), over and over.  If only it were always this simple, both now and later, really.  But right now, thankfully, I can solve most of her problems that give way to ear-piercing/screaming demands.
We're both learning how to use words to express our complex feelings and requests.  Who doesn't want their favorite song to come on the radio right away, even when they've heard it a million and one times already?  I wish I could listen to my favorite song every time I turned on the radio, that's for sure (well, thanks to MP3 players, I can... but still :).  
Guess what?  It's gotten easier. There's only one request that makes me happier than hearing a very curly haired 2 1/2 year old ask me to help her use the potty (yes, it's finnnnally happening!  3 days in a row!), and that request is, "Hug and kiss?".  Not just in the morning, not just before bedtime, but at very random times of the day.  
She doesn't have those sweet fluffy rolls anymore; Mirabel is practically a string bean.  She was the baby I'd wear in an infant carrier so that I could cook dinner, that's how much she used to love being held.  I remember looking forward to the day she could walk, just so my scrawny bones could have a break.  (I'm pretty sure the running-away-from-mom thing she did while I was pregnant was payback for that ;).)  Why stay in someone's arms when you can run free?  But I don't want her to feel so free that she doesn't need her mom anymore.  
Now her feet dangle past my knees when she asks me to pick her up for a hug and kiss.  Many recent situations have shown me that she would not feel so free if she didn't feel secure in my love for her.  I have failed many times, but when she comes back to me even though she knows how to run away, I know that God is working on my heart to be the best mother to Mirabel that I can be.  Not the best mother ever, no.  I just want her to feel secure and know that even though I can't make her favorite song come on the radio each time I start the car, and I can't fix her socks while I'm driving, and I can't buy her a cheeseburger every day, I'm never to busy to give her a hug and kiss.  
There will come a day when I won't be able to pick her up, but I pray that God gives me the wisdom to give her the kind of love that lifts her up so that her fiery spirit feels free to run with him beside her throughout life.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Moving Forward

Where do I begin?


I guess I should start with a follow-up to the last post.  We bought... an empty lot :).  And it has trees!  We're right in front of a green belt.  AND because we're buying so early on (no model homes) we got a bit of a discount.  Two weeks after we purchased the lot, the specific model that we chose went up $5K!  And we didn't get outbid this time ;).

We no longer have to deal with this crazy market; we do have to wait a little bit, but it's kind of fun, like waiting to have a baby (we'll probably move in this Fall).  We already picked out the cabinets, carpet, etc.  Because we are on a budget, we decided beforehand that we would stick with the basic package for most things.  This developer already has such nice basics, plus it doesn't take much to make us happy.  I will say, though, we did upgrade the carpet.  Let's be honest, kids and carpet can be a really scary combo ;).  We currently have all white carpet, which leaves me on edge.  We decided to add tile to some of the carpeted areas, and it's a rustic/woodsy looking tile.  Wood is lovely, but pricy!! We also added a special kind of carpet with a unique filler (I don't remember what it's called) that repels stains (doesn't soak-up liquid) and doesn't absorb odors!  It's made for families with pets (I think a dog will be the next addition to our family :). 


We also visited a community a few miles away developed by the same company, since our housing community doesn't have one for us to look at yet (a few more weeks for that).
 Here are a few photos:


Mirabel started preschool last week. It's a 2 day per week program that she loves.  The teacher converted her home into a toddler outdoor haven.  Before Mirabel started school, she'd beg me to take her to church just so she could go to the nursery!  She's such an outgoing kid, she really thrives being around others and didn't hesitate to jump in on the fun on the first day.  That's left time open for some projects.  So far, I've been able to redo a wooden chest (to replace our wicker toy chest) and two night stands.  Today I got to take the car for an oil change (fun! ;).  Now I'm watching TV (which never happens when she's home) and actually BLOGGING!  I should get better about this now that I have more time.  BUT after just these few minutes of being online, Juliette woke up from her nap and now she's tired of being in her jumperoo.  So that's all for now, folks ;).  But here's a few pics of the girls.  They are growing so fast, I really want to start documenting things on here more :).




Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Diving in and treading water

Hello, everyone! Or maybe just one...or two of you?  Anyhow :), it's been too long.  So what do I do on my free time these days?  Well, if I'm not trying to make dinner peacefully while both kids snooze, or I'm not making something that will probably end up in a Goodwill box one day, I'm usually on realtor.com...or even driving around random neighborhoods in search of some "For Sale by Owner" signs.  Yep, we're moving toward home-buying...ever so slowly, and a little painfully.
You won't believe this, but in the past week we bid on 2 different homes ABOVE the asking price and lost them both.  One house was even over-priced to begin with. We're officially in a seller's market, and 3-5 bids are usually placed on any house on the market, even in the surrounding suburbs.  I guess everyone wants to move to the hill country?  How bad is it?  Homes usually sell before they're even listed online (I'm also signed up with my realtor to receive emails about homes).  To give you an example of how competitive it is, here's a concrete example.  A house is listed at 12 AM midnight.  I wake up at 5:15 AM the next morning, 4 minutes after I receive the email about the new house.  I text my realtor about the house at 6:45 AM.  She contacts the listing agent and asks if we can view the home that same morning.  We are told we can view it at 9:30 and assume we are the first.  
Well, guess what?  We are, or I should say I am the first one there...  In fact, I get there 15 minutes early.  My realtor is stuck in traffic and so she's late, in the meantime 3 OTHER PEOPLE SHOW UP.  And they all have appointments to view it too.  We're told the listing agent is receiving offers until 5 PM.  We are pretty happy with this house; it's literally around the corner from one of the best elementary schools in Austin, it has a wrap-around yard WITH TREES (huge bonus in TX), and it comes with a play yard, upgraded kitchen, and even on a cul-de-sac in a highly desirable neighborhood (can you tell I've been on realtor.com a lot?) ;).  So this is why we bid above the asking price.  
Guess what?  WE ARE THE HIGHEST BIDDERS BUT SOMEONE WHO BIDS BENEATH US GETS THE HOUSE BECAUSE THEY'RE PAYING CASH FOR THE HOUSE!  Yes, they're not even taking out a loan.  They're paying the owner cash up front and claim they can move in, in 2 weeks!  

What the heck?!

It's crazy.  I pretty much assume we won't get a house when we see it, at this point.  But we're continuing to save (and I've stuck to a really tight budget so that we've been able to save quite a bit over the past few months).  Even if the market stays this hot, at least we'll eventually have enough to pay for the house too ;)...if it takes that long!  Haha!  I'm losing sleep over this and I shouldn't be.  It's hard to not get sucked in.  Trying to keep my head on straight and remember that it's just a house...I live in a lovely home right now that's definitely affordable, I should have no complaints :).  It really feels like we're in Vegas, or something, though.
 

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