Relationships

As I near my 30th birthday, I’ve been reflecting on the past decade of my life. It seems as if life has had one theme: change. Most of which has been pleasant and positive. Marriage, babies, moving, new friendships. Things that warm my heart and put a smile on my face. Things I want to soak up and ingrain in my mind.

There have also been uncomfortable, unpleasant changes. Specifically the deaths of loved ones, moving away from family and friends, shifting of relationship placement, and loss of friendships. I don’t know if it was just me, but the last decade of my life seems to be chalk full of those things, especially the latter.

I’m not going to lie, Facebook has been the blazing beacon in making the last two uncomfortable changes much more obvious. Until social media, I had always considered myself a friend to everyone. I conversed easily with others and kind of went with the flow. But now, every “unfriend”, block, and ignored post makes it incredibly obvious that some people don’t like me. Sometimes it is expected. Other times, I’m left scratching my head, wondering why.

Either way, it is painful and cuts deep. I try not to let it bug me, but in my insomniac mind, late at night, I think over every conversation and interaction over and over again. Which, of course, doesn’t help my sleep-deprived state of mind. ūüėČ

And so, upon the recent discovery of another person who has blocked me, I’ve decided I’m going to do my best to keep trusting that there was a reason that person was in my life for a short or long season. That I’ve learned something from them. That it’s ok to not be friends with everyone.

And I’m once again stepping away from Facebook for the time being. I have more important things (my little human beings) to focus on. ūüôā I know that right now in life, they like me and love me and enjoy being with me. Ask them how they feel when they hit the teen years. ūüėČ

How do you feel when someone removes you from their friend list?

On the Duggars and why their family size is none of your business

A¬†friend of mine and I went to the McDonalds play place yesterday with our collective¬†11 children, ages 7 and under, in tow.¬†It has already proven to be a long, cold winter, and our kids needed to burn off some pent up energy. ūüôā¬†Before we entered the building, she sent me the text, “Ready for lots of looks?!”¬†I had to chuckle because we are both so used to those looks.

source: snarkerati.com

source: snarkerati.com

And the comments, and the head counting, and the questions.¬† All are par for the course when you’re the mom to¬†multiple little ones.

And I usually don’t¬†mind.¬† I’m proud of my kids, and I want my kids to be proud to¬†be a part of our family. I¬†know that not everyone has had the ability to be part of a large family, so they generally don’t understand how much fun it is.

Recently, however, I have begun to notice a general “distaste” some people have for families with, what is perceived as, “a lot” of kids.¬† Most notably was when Jill (Duggar) Dillard¬†and her new husband, Derick, announced their first pregnancy shortly after they said their “I do”s.¬† (If you aren’t familiar with the Duggars, Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar have 19 biological children and are open to having more.) The backlash, hateful words, rude judgements, and internet “eye rolls” came flooding in shortly after they made their public announcement.

Many were mad that she announced her pregnancy before her first trimester was over (but when¬†Kate Middleton did¬†the same thing¬†shortly thereafter, no one even batted an eye). Others were counting the days to make sure that no “hanky panky” had happened before the wedding (don’t worry, guys… this baby is a welcomed, wanted honeymoon surprise).¬† And still others were frothing at the mouth in anger that the Duggar family is the single cause for global overpopulation, and how could they be so selfish, and carbon footprints, and haven’t they ever heard of birth control?!?!?!?!

Let me tell ya, it is extremely nauseating seeing this kind of hate over what should be a joyous occasion SPEWED all over the internet. Don’t believe me?¬† Just Google search “Jill Duggar pregnant” and see what comes up. My browser says 5.9 MILLION results, many of which, I’m assuming, are nothing but rude vitriol.

source: people.com

source: people.com

And now that Josh and Anna Duggar have announced their fourth baby is on the way, I think the crazy comments have really ramped up a notch. The heads are spinning and “the people” aren’t happy.

Listen, “people”, we live in the 21st century.¬† In the United States of America.¬† Where feminism is “all the rage”.¬† Where women viciously fought for the right to their reproductive choices.¬†¬†Abortion, whether I¬†like it or not,¬†is legal here in our country.¬† A woman can¬†legally dispose of her unborn baby at any time up until birth. ¬†And no one had better try to stop her or they will come face to face with the most repulsive¬†forms of feministic banter¬†known to man kind.¬† They would undoubtedly¬†be met with the “don’t like abortions, don’t have one” argument.

But when a man and a woman, in a loving, stable marriage decide to have a child (or multiple children, or children by the dozens), suddenly that woman’s reproductive rights are hauled out into broad daylight, ridiculed, shamed, and made fun of.¬†Because she is allegedly selfish, and foolish, and stupid, and any other mean-spirited thing one can come up with in their narrow-minded mindset.¬† Obviously she should not be allowed a choice in this instance.

Anyone else see a problem with this line of thinking?

To them, I say this:¬†“If you don’t like large families, don’t have one.”

The birth rate in the USA¬†is actually on the decline, ¬†and has been for the last six to seven years.¬† I, for one, am not the least bit worried about overpopulation anytime soon.¬† (And actually, that claim has been¬†proven wrong¬† many, many, many¬†times.)¬† (I am, actually, concerned about the future ramifications (less people paying in to taxes and social security, economical implications, etc.) of having a lower population.) (Wow, that’s a lot of parentheses.)

When we announced our last two pregnancies, we were met with an¬†array of comments. Everything from the simple-yet-appropriate “Congrats”, to people making jokes (yes, we know what causes it; yes, we own a TV; and comparison to the Duggar family… because having¬†six kids is really close to having 19 kids), to other people all out ignoring our announcement.¬† And while the positivity far outweighed the negative, the negative reactions are the ones that stuck with me the most.¬† Many of the naysayers are people that spend less than a few hours with me and/or my family each year.¬† So really, they don’t truly know us or our family¬†and they¬†had¬†no right in making any sort of comment beyond “Congrats.”

Some people liken having a large family to having lots of little annoyances and inconveniences (aka children)¬†running around.¬† Those people couldn’t be more wrong.¬† And so we have welcomed each new child into our family with the anticipation and excitement of seeing their little personalities grow and blossom, helping them become the people they are meant to be. Kids are human beings, not inconveniences that need to be managed.

source: raiseawesomekids.com

source: raiseawesomekids.com

We need to stop worrying about how many kids so-and-so is having, and stop letting this media-frenzied world feed us¬†the news they want to sell.¬† The number of children someone has is between them and their spouse.¬† Yes,¬†kids can be challenging and a lot of work.¬† But the effort you put in to raising decent human beings will pay dividends tenfold. The fact that the Duggars (and many other people) choose to have large families does not impact¬†anyone in any way.¬† The fact that good people (like the Duggars) are raising up responsible, mindful, and respectful children-turned-adults should give¬†us hope for our future generations. That is something¬†we should care very much about. ūüôā

And so, if you find yourself wanting to have more children than the national average of 2.1 kids per couple, talk to your spouse about it and come to a logical decision that works best for you and your family. Pay no attention to what everyone else says you should do because, at the end of the day, you are the one raising any current and future children. Not the internet hater across the country.

And if you find yourself on the opinion bandwagon, maybe you should use the advice of our forefathers: if you cant say something nice, don’t say anything at all!

Life: Simple

 

Image found via Google image search

Image found via Google image search

Ever feel like life is just too full?

Everything in life is moving in hyper-drive, vying for my attention, emotions, energy. I try my hardest to keep up with the housework, schoolwork, child-rearing, and¬†wife duties, but, more often than not, something has to give. Generally speaking, that “something” is, 9-times-out-of-10, housework.

I wouldn’t consider myself a slob in any way, shape or form.¬† But, I’m busy.¬† So it isn’t unusual to see dishes on the counter or a pile of clean laundry waiting (ever so patiently) to be folded.

While I absolutely hate that my house is rarely Pinterest perfect, I have also come to realize that this is just the¬†stage of life we are in and it won’t always be this way.

We had a guest speaker at my MOPS group this past week.  I absolutely love listening to other moms share their heart, their drive, their passion because, more often than not, I can totally relate to some aspect. This speaker was no different. The topic? Home organization.

The speaker was very real and her topic so extremely relevant. She is a mom to 6 kids (all born within¬†eight years, which is so similar to my six in seven) who has found a way to avoid the stress and chaos that comes from having so many children (who in turn have so much “stuff”).

Live simply.

I have been on a mission lately to trim down our possessions and try to live a more “minimalist” lifestyle.¬† When you have eight people living¬†in a 1400 square foot house, less is always better! So I could really relate to what the speaker was saying. And something she said really resonated with me: when our homes are so cluttered and unorganized, our minds will not be 100% present with our kids, even though we are physically present.

Wow!  The more I think about this, the more I realize how right she is. When my house is a disaster-zone, my mind goes 100 miles per hour, racing through to-do lists of things that need to be cleaned, items that need to be put away, chores that need to be accomplished. It is so hard to be totally focused on my sweet kiddos when there is so much chaos around us.

And then there is the ripple effect: I become short with my kids and blow up over the smallest things that happen. The kids ask me to play/read/cuddle with them, but I’m so pre-occupied that I say “no” more often than I’d like. Someone spills something accidentally while I’m¬†attending to something else,¬†and my emotional thermometer erupts and overflows ugliness all over an innocent situation.

Those mind-consuming things can actually rob us of our emotions and energy.

On the flip side, when my home is orderly, peace follows.¬† I don’t feel the constant nagging, reminding me of everything that I have to do.¬† Instead, I can relax and truly enjoy my family.

Now, how can I ever get to the point where my house feels more peaceful and less… not?

Talking things over with my husband (who tends to be the idea-shaper in¬†our relationship) we decided that we have too. much. stuff.¬† Sure, I had made strides in clearing out some of the clutter, but if I were to be honest with myself, there are many other things I could part with.¬† Having less “stuff” will mean less cleaning, tidying, organizing of said “stuff”. I need to get to the point where we are living more simply so life doesn’t seem so overwhelming. So I can focus more on what truly matters (my family) and spend less time¬†and energy putting out the “fires” of life (the daily demands).

Live life simply so you can love more extravagantly.

That is my new mantra in life.¬† I want to be more present with my kids and, in order to do that, I’m going to cut out any unnecessary distractions life may throw my way.¬† And that includes extra¬†“stuff”.

When you have six kids, you multiply that by six birthdays, and six sets of gifts at every holiday.¬† It gets to be a LOT!¬† Our toy room and the kids’ closet is out. of. control!

I’m kind of ashamed to say this, but here goes: I am waaaaaay behind on folding and putting away laundry.¬† (Again.) I’m not even exaggerating when I say I have ten loads of clean laundry sitting on my bedroom floor, waiting to be folded and put away.¬† There are also approximately four loads of dirty laundry waiting to be washed. PLUS our closets are all completely filled with clothing.¬† Something is wrong with this picture.¬† We obviously have WAY more clothing than any eight people would need. And I’m stressing out because, every day, I go into my room and see the clothes that need to be folded and put away, plus the clothes waiting to be laundered.¬† It is ridiculous!

And then the toys. OHHHHHH, the toys.¬† We have one small room dedicated as the “toy room” (although a more accurate description would be “toy dumping ground”). Two toy boxes, plus a dress up box, plus a large play barn.¬† Then in the boys’ room are the Legos, K’Nex and other building toys.¬† In the girls’ room are all of the baby toys, pretend toys, and stuffed animals.¬† And lastly is the kids’ closet.¬† Toys covering every available inch of shelving (Duplos, Lincoln logs, Weebles, Barbies, etc.). Trying to keep the toys organized and in their place takes an act of God most days because my kids are quite the professional mess-makers.¬† It is EXTREMELY stressful because there are so many sets and totes and pieces and oh. my. word.¬† Just thinking about it makes my head spin.

I’m done. This is insanity! My stress level is up and my patience level is low. So I’m making it my goal to eliminate 50% of our stuff.¬† I want to live more simply so we can love more extravagantly!

The less time I spend cleaning and fixing and organizing means the more time I can love on my kiddos. This isn’t going to be easy but I’m committing to this not only for my sanity but to bring peace to my home. (Before and after pictures to come!!)

What about you?  Are there any areas of your life you can pare down so you can focus more on what truly matters?

Shifting Seasons

Today

Today

As I sit here typing, we are experiencing our first snowstorm of the season.

To say I’m depressed about the snow is a HUGE understatement.

Even though it has been a long¬†six months since our last snowfall, it doesn’t¬†seem easier going through these snowy times again. Sometimes I wish I lived in a less-snowy climate.

The cold, bitter wind seems to blow effortlessly through this old farmhouse’s window-panes. Snow drifting across the fields and our long, dirt driveway make traveling a nightmare. Our barn across the yard is barely visible through the snow globe-like conditions outside. I dream of living in a place where snow is a rarity, sunshine and green grass an over-abundance.

Isn’t it funny how the seasons of the year can be much like the seasons of our lives? Seasons of joy and peace and warmth (Spring, Summer and Autumn). And seasons of despair and dread and hopelessness (Winter).

Spring, the promise of better times ahead.  Green buds popping up across the landscape, sweet smelling blossoms covering the apple trees, and the almost-forgotten patches of grass appearing beneath the fast-melting snow. The sun shines differently during these Spring days. Cheerfulness permeates through the mud puddles my kids splash in.

Summer is a season of joy and warmth that I greatly anticipate each year.  A much-welcomed reprieve after months and months of cold. A promise I look forward to each year.  Barbecues, roasted marshmallows, late nights outside catching lightning bugs, camping, giggling, new memories.  The heat and humidity, while harsh at times, are anticipated and quickly remedied with popsicles and playing in the sprinkler.

Autumn means crisp air, sunny days, and sweatshirt weather. The perfect weather.  Not too hot, not too cold.  The hours in a day are spent in bliss. Leaf piles, laughter, hot cocoa, and pumpkin-everything.  And preparation.  Preparation for the hard times ahead.  Canning, stocking pantries and wood rooms. Autumn is the foretelling of times to come.  A shadow that passes too quickly before the first snowflake falls.

Winter.  In our part of the country, Winter is filled with snow, frigid temps, ice, and months filled with longing, waiting for warmer weather.  For those of us with kids, Winter comes with hats and boots and gloves and snow pants and thick, warm socks, and layers upon layers of warm clothes multiplied by the number of kids in the house.  Large amounts of time spent getting kids ready to head out the door, large amounts of time spent getting kids unthawed.

And just when we think we can’t possibly handle another day of staring at the frozen tundra, when our sanity reaches its breaking point, the world around us melts and is reborn. Spring.

Without the cold, hard seasons of our lives, we wouldn’t be able to fully appreciate or be thankful for¬†the sunny, easy seasons.

During the good seasons of life it is hard to remember that, yes, the tough seasons of life are going to be there, whether we want them to or not. The hours in a day melt like a popsicle on¬†Summer’s pavement.¬†The seasons shift effortlessly, methodically, rhythmically. And¬†even as the bright,¬†warm seasons will turn dark and cold, the dark, cold seasons will eventually turn bright and warm once again.¬† We just need to hold on a little bit longer.

Hope is just around the corner.

So for now, I will embrace today for what it is, because no matter how much I sit and pout, today is still today.  The snow is still going to fly. The wind is still going to blow.  At least today I am one day closer to Spring.

Hope.

The Liebster Award

The Liebster Award!

The Liebster Award!

Thank you so much to Lydia at¬†Lydia Devadason: An Idiot’s¬†Guide to Parenting for this award nomination!¬† Lydia’s blog is absolutely hilarious and offers an honest look into the life of parents everywhere. ūüôā

This award is great because it means people are actually reading (and appreciating) what we [award recipients] are writing!¬† Talk about motivation. ūüôā

In acceptance of this award, I am required to answer the following eleven questions:

1. What inspired you to start a blog? I’ve always loved writing and have dreamed of writing books since I was a little girl.¬† Since that dream probably won’t come to fruition, I figured writing in a blog for the “masses” to see would be a nice place to at least start.¬† I have had several other blogs through the years, none of which actually stuck. So I’m hoping this one sticks!

2. Do any of your close ‚Äėreal‚Äô friends blog? I have a few close online friends that blog, but no one that I know of in person.

3. Have you had any strange, embarrassing or frightening blogging experiences?¬† Nothing noteworthy yet.¬† Although I’ve had many moments where I panic because I think I had accidently published a draft instead of saving it for later.

4. If eating at a restaurant, what would be your favourite meal ‚Äď with or without dessert? My favorite meal is anything with chicken! I absolutely love fried chicken, but, in an attempt to be a bit more healthy, will also eat grilled chicken.¬† And dessert??¬† Do you even have to ask?? ūüôā Chocolate and/or ice cream, please!

5. If money was no option, what would be your perfect holiday destination? Somewhere warm and sunny, with sandy beaches and lazy days.

6. If money was no option, what would be your perfect evening’s entertainment?  Simply going to supper and a movie with my husband.

7. What‚Äôs your favourite word? I don’t know if I have a favorite word.¬† I oftentimes feel like a broken record, repeating the same things to my kids, over and over again. ūüėČ

8. What quality do you think friends appreciate most in you? My willingness to listen.¬† While I don’t have large amounts of time to sit down and chat or message (one of my biggest flaws is forgetting to respond to text and Facebook messages… oops!!!) I always have a ready and¬†willing¬†ear to listen. Sometimes that is all a person needs, to get their thoughts and feelings out for someone to hear, no judgment.

9. What personality characteristic do you find the most off-putting or irritating in others? Hmmm… Probably people who think they are right, but are clearly wrong and cannot be convinced otherwise.¬† I generally overlook people’s personality flaws, though, and find ways to love them, regardless of those flaws.

10. How would you like to be remembered by those you care about? That I loved with my whole heart and, while I am absolutely imperfect in almost every way imaginable, I tried my hardest.¬† I have apologized when I made mistakes and hope that people can see I genuinely mean it! ūüôā

11. What is your favourite holiday destination? I have honestly never been on vacation anywhere. Hopefully we can change that in the next few years!

My 11 nominations for the Liebster award are:

  1. Your Mom Has A Blog
  2. Another Day In Mommadise
  3. We Can All Be Bright
  4. Simplify.Create.Inspire
  5. Mrs. Gore’s Diary
  6. Life. Bump. Craft.
  7. Out Of My Bondage
  8. Mom in the Muddle
  9. Adventures of a Labor Nurse
  10. The Road to the New Me
  11. Large Family Mothering

The 11 questions for my nominees are:

  1. How long have you been writing/blogging?
  2. What are your long-term dreams blog-wise?
  3. What is your favorite way to spend free time?
  4. What is your favorite book?
  5. If you could do anything at all, without regards to money or time, what would it be?
  6. Who is/was the biggest role model in your life?
  7. If you could spend one day with anyone, both past and present, who would it be and why?
  8. When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
  9. What is your favorite way to reduce stress?
  10. What is one tip you have for new bloggers?
  11. What is one thing you hope to leave as a legacy for future generations?

Thanks again, Lydia!!! ūüôā

Today

Everything I wanted to blog about today seems insignificant.

Last night a series of deadly storms swept through the central part of the USA, killing 16 people. People who, earlier in the day and weekend, had no idea that their time with their friends and loved ones was coming to an end.

It is sad how tragedies like this bring about so much perspective: “crises” in my life seem so small and unimportant, things I normally complain about seem petty, and I’m so much more thankful for the time I’m spending at home with my kids.¬† We can get so wrapped up in whatever is going on, making mountains out of mole-hills, losing sight of the precious time we have right here, right now.

Tragedies make me feel more human than ever before. None of us are exempt from death; we are never guaranteed another breath, or moment with our loved ones.

So for the rest of today, I’m closing my laptop, logging off Facebook, and spending as much time as I can doing what matters most: making memories with my family.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and families affected by the tornadoes! ‚̧