Tuesday, October 11, 2016

A Gift and a Sacrifice

All the time people say things to me like, "You are so lucky to be able to stay home with your son." I smile politely, but think, "Yes, but I'm also giving up a lot in order to do this."

I understand that there are some people in a bind financially or otherwise that makes staying at home a difficult--maybe even impossible--option.  Not every mom wants to stay home with her kids.  But there are people who would like to be doing what I am doing who are not.  I know that all of the time I get to spend with my precious baby is a gift (that's a good reminder for me on the hard days).  Still, I don't just get to do this because I'm lucky.  I make a lot of sacrifices that make this choice possible.  So, I think it's both.  Staying home is a gift and a sacrifice.

It is a gift because I don't have to divide my attention:  it all goes to my family.
It's a sacrifice because I am giving up a job that I love.

It is a gift because I don't miss any of Emerson's smiles or coos.
It's a sacrifice because I don't miss any of his fusses or poos.

It is a gift because sometimes I get to watch Netflix or listen to worship music while "on the job."
It's a sacrifice because sometimes staying at home without adult interaction all day makes me want to blow my brains out.

It is a gift because I get to stay in my PJs until noon.
It's a sacrifice because my pretty work wardrobe sits lonely in the closet collecting dust.

It is a gift because I am learning to be content living simply.
It's a sacrifice because I have to drastically cut back on eating out, updating my wardrobe, and wearing makeup from Sephora.

It is a gift because I can read Emerson as many books as I want.
It's a sacrifice because we can no longer afford to stay in hotels or go on trips.

It is a gift because I get all the snuggles.
It's a sacrifice because I never go off the clock.  My duties are the same during the evening as they are during the day and depending on how Emerson feels, all through the night.

It is a gift because I have energy to go on outings or spend time with people in the evenings and on weekends.
It's a sacrifice because my husband and I share one car, watch Netflix instead of cable, and use the Iphone 8 $20 phones from Walmart.

It is a gift because I get to invest in my son.
It's a sacrifice because I miss investing in my students.

 I am grateful for the life I have during this season, but I am also aware that it comes at a cost.  Staying home with my son is a gift, and a sacrifice. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Like a Baby in a Wrap

Have you ever worn a baby?  You should try it sometime.  It is sure to complement any outfit even better than your favorite scarf does.  I am an amateur baby-wearer.  I am still a little a lot awkward with my baby wrap.  I feel unsure of my wrap jobs, and find myself constantly touching baby's nostrils to make sure they are unobstructed.  Even though I'm still learning the ins and outs of baby-wearing, I can appreciate that there is something magical about it.

When you put a baby in a wrap you can feel that baby instantly relax.  It's like they release everything and just melt into your chest.  The wrap is my son's kryptonite.  He instantly falls asleep as soon as he's snuggled against me.  Why do babies seem to like being worn so much?  Perhaps, they get a temporary glimpse to life back in the womb.  They are warm.  They can hear your heartbeat.  If you're a breastfeeding mama they can no doubt smell your milk (which I imagine is kind of like the aroma of a batch of fresh-baked cookies wafting through the room as you drift off to sleep).  Worn babies must feel close, loved, and secure.

This Sunday, I went to church for the first time since having baby E.  In the hope that he would sleep through the service, I decided to wear him.  As I worshiped corporately for the first time in almost two months, God used the image of a soundly sleeping baby in a wrap to speak to me.  He told me that he wants me to experience him the way that my baby is experiencing being worn by me.  He wants me to listen to his heartbeat.  He wants me to know that I am secure in him.  He wants me to let go and completely rest in his arms.  God's got me like a baby in a wrap.

A Practical Step Towards Choosing Joy

Choose joy.  Be content where you're at.  Find satisfaction in the Lord.
[insert any other feel-good cliches about happiness regardless of circumstance]

I know that these things are good, and right, and true, but sometimes I need tangible steps.  I can't just grit my teeth, furl my brows, and will myself to be joyful, satisfied, content.  Recently, the Lord has given me one simple way that I can pursue being joyful in my everyday life.

The bible says:

" Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8

There are many ways to interpret this verse.  One way is that we should spend time focusing on the good.  We should work to keep the script that runs through our minds pure, lovely, and excellent.  In other words, we should think about positive things.

Now, please don't take this to mean ignore all of the difficult things in your life and pretend that it's all sunshine and daisies.  Because I know that pain is real.  There is value in feeling and processing whatever it is that you are going through no matter how dark it may be.  At the same time, it seems like our flawed human brains can be magnets for negativity.  We go throughout our days experiencing a range of good, bad, wonderful and ugly things and all too often the bad stuff is what sticks.  I want to reset my mind.  I want to train my brain to collect the good and not just the bad.

One simple, practical way I have found to help myself do this is to write things down.  Each day I make a list of the good things that have happened.  If God has spoken to me that day, or I have realized any truths I will also write those down.  Is this technique earth-shattering?  Ground-breaking?  Will it change the world?  Probably not.  But it is one tangible step that I can take towards choosing joy.  It takes less than ten minutes, and it helps me to remember that there are good things going on in my life.

Here are a few items from my lists over the past few weeks:

Good things

  • Taking walks seems to be improving Maddy (my dog's) behavior
  • Emerson is making cute happy noises
  • It felt so good to serve at youth group--like getting a piece of myself back
  • I nursed at the park
  • I ran into a former student who said I was her favorite teacher
  • I walked all the way to Dutch bros with a friend
  • A friend came to visit
  • My sister and I prayed together
  • I gave Emerson a bath by myself
  • I watched a movie
  • Emerson wore his mint cardigan
  • I took dinner to a friend with a new baby and she was blessed by it
  • I got to visit the teachers and staff at my former school
  • Philip (my husband) said, "It was worth it just to spend time with you on the car ride there and back."
  • I met someone new at church
  • Emerson slept much better than he had been


  • Emerson is a gift
  • There is no such thing as a perfect decision
  • A mistake is an error not an end
  • My primary job is taking care of E:  anything else that gets done is a bonus
  • God wants such deeper things than for me to just be happy: he wants me to experience deep peace and joy
  • What I do every day is not what fulfills me, but Jesus fulfills me
  • From Psalm 21:  "For you meet him with rich blessings" and "You make him glad with the joy of your presence"
  • God said (in regards to my fears/worries), "Does that sound like me?  To want you to starve?  Or not to let you have any fun?  Or to not take care of your needs?  I am the God who abundantly provides."

So what do you say?  Will you give this technique a try?  It's something you can do even if you have a 9-5 job or a squirmy baby that demands your attention.  All you need is pen, paper, and five minutes.  Do you have any other ideas for steps to take in the pursuit of contentment?  Let's be intentional in what we allow to consume our thoughts.  Let's choose joy.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

I'm reading to you for them.


My heart is heavy as the school year is about to start without me.  I have spent the past three years as "Teacher," and the last two in Middle School, which I think must be a special calling of mine.  So many people don't enjoy this age group so the fact that I find them delightful must mean something.  In a way, it is peaceful not having to get into the hustle and bustle of preparing for students.  At the same time it just feels strange.  This year instead of planning lessons, building relationships with my students, and grading papers I will be changing diapers, snuggling my baby, and planning ways to leave the house so I don't lose my mind.  Even though I believe that I am choosing the highest good for my young family, I will miss my students this year.  I will miss my brightly decorated classroom filled with supplies designed to encourage active learning.  I will miss being a professional and having important people respect and believe in my work.  I doubt my new "boss" will give me that kind of affirmation.  I will miss doing something that I am good at, something that I love.

The other day I watched with glee as my husband read to our newborn.  He is always looking for a way to interact with the little guy.  I feel connected to Emerson through nurturing, but Philip wants to bond with him through play.  He's tried doing tummy time.  He also puts E's toys near his hands and waits for him to grab hold.  And he reads to our son.  As Philip pointed to the pictures and read with expression I couldn't help but think of them--my students.  "How many of them have ever had this experience?"  I wondered.

 The district I worked in is low-income.  Many students have parents who don't speak English.  Many of their parents work long into the night just to be able to put food on the table.  Reading time can't be a priority when you are focused on survival.  Or when you can't read yourself.  So many of my students struggle to read.  They say they hate reading.  They would rather stare at a book and pretend to absorb it than actually take the time to sound out each word.  Over half of my seventh graders last year were reading at a third-grade level or below.  I did everything I could think of to make reading fun, engaging, and accessible to them.  But you can't replace the experience that Emerson is having right now.  The magic of sitting on Mom or Dad's lap as the words become enchanted and the stories come to life.

So, Emerson, we will keep reading.  Not just for you, but for them.  I am reading to you for all of those kids who don't get to have that experience.  I am reading to you so that, hopefully, you won't have to struggle through English (and through many other subjects because it turns out they all require you to read) like my students.  I am reading to you so that you won't feel stupid.  I am reading to you so that you will be able to find the joy of books.  I am reading to you so that you will have the confidence to take risks in learning.  I am reading to you, for them.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Baby Gadgets That Are Actually Useful

There are so many baby gadgets out there.  You could spend all your millions on stuff for your baby.  It seems to me like babies aren't that expensive as time goes on, but that the start-up costs can be astronomical.  Everyone has different opinions about which items are totally necessary, and every baby is different. Something that is awesome for my son might not work at all for yours.  My advice to you is to get Amazon Prime or the free six-month trial around the time that your baby is born.  That way, anything that you decide you need you can get with free shipping and it will arrive almost instantly.  That said, I found even registering for items, let alone buying them to be so stressful.  How do you know what a baby needs when you have never had one before?  But I did appreciate just hearing what other people thought about things to give me a starting point.  Take this with a grain of salt, but here are a few items that we bought that have totally been worth every penny.  Also, note that my baby is less than two weeks old.  As time goes on, I might have a completely different list.  It seems like this parenting gig is constantly changing as baby grows.

Wipe Warmer

Munchkin Warm Glow Wipe Warmer

Okay, I know this seems kind of ridiculous. Like, I'm pretty sure a warm wipe is something that the baby butler brings you at the baby mansion.  Jeeves walks up to you with your freshly heated and pressed wipe like, "So sire's bum won't be cold."  Silly as it may seem, my little guy HATES to be cold.  Getting his diaper changed is one of his least favorite things.  I can hardly bare listening to him cry out in agony as I wipe him.  So we ordered one of these.  It has made diaper changing significantly easier on our wee babe.


I cannot say enough about this.  I love snuggling my Emers, but sometimes you just need a break.  Your arms get tired.  You need to eat, or God forbid do a chore or two?  Ok, if I'm honest I haven't done much outside of loving, feeding, and changing my sweet boy these last couple of weeks.  This swing is so great for just setting him down for a bit while he sleeps.  It rocks which keeps him happy.  It's high off the ground which keeps my dog away from him.  It is light and portable so you can take it anywhere.  When Phil goes back to work I plan to use it while I shower.   I think it is also great if you stayed the night somewhere with an infant--it would be the perfect little place for him to sleep away from home.

My Brest Friend Pillow

My Brest Friend Original Nursing Pillow, Fireworks

What?  A boob pun is in the name?  That might be reason enough to purchase this little number.  Let me tell you breastfeeding ain't no joke.  For awhile it is painful.  Like, real painful.  Like, is-this-baby-part-beaver painful.  Also, it takes some time to learn and get used to how to hold the baby, how to get the baby to latch etc.  After a frustrating few days, I decided to order this nursing pillow.  After my first use I was singing a hallelujah chorus!  It gives me so much more support than just holding the baby or using a regular pillow.  I can get his head into position so much easier the pillow is keeping his weight up.  The pillow also allows me to have more access to my hands so I can read, or use the remote, or let's be real, eat, because that's what I do all the time now.

Waterfall Bathtub

Summer Infant Warming Waterfall Bath Tub

Yep, my baby's bath has a "waterfall" function.  I am probably starting to sound like a Kardashian.  Honestly, we didn't realize that this was a feature when we bought the tub.  I chose it mostly based on how it looked and the reviews it got on Amazon.  When it arrived we read that it needed batteries and we were really confused.  It turns out that the bath trickles a stream of warm water down baby's back to keep him warm.  It also came with a perfectly sized wash cloth that you can get wet and drape over his front like a blankey.  Again, for a baby that is unhappy being cold, to me this is totally worth it.  It also has a soft pillow for cushioning his head.  Another feature I like is that it has a little holder on the back to put things in--including a small cup with little holes in it for rinsing baby off.  When you have a new baby you have so many things everywhere so this little organizational function feels really convenient.

Is there anything I haven't discovered that I need to add to my list?  I have Amazon Prime's free trial on stand-by ready to order anything that will make my mommy life easier.  Stay tuned for more lists as baby E grows.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...