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Written Creations, LLC As a freelance copywriter and journalist, I specialze in all professional communications. As a mom, I specialize in taking care of my daughter. Here I give thoughts from my daily life. 2015-03-27T11:45:29Z http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Three lessons from “Cinderella”]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3775 2015-03-27T11:45:29Z 2015-03-27T11:45:29Z This week has been spring break for my preschooler.  And though she only goes to school for three hours in the afternoon, four days a week, it actually has given us some time to do some extra things with her.  …

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This week has been spring break for my preschooler.  And though she only goes to school for three hours in the afternoon, four days a week, it actually has given us some time to do some extra things with her.  Earlier this week, the kiddo, my mom and I hit up an afternoon matinee of the new “Cinderella” movie.  We dressed in some sparkle, munched some popcorn and had a grand time.  I am not sure which of us enjoyed the movie most.  All three of us were dazzled.  While I can’t speak for my mother or even my daughter, I can tell you why I was dazzled.  (And I must confess that Belle is my Disney princess of choice to whom I have most been loyal.  Cinderella quite unexpectedly swept me off my feet!)

1. We all need Cinderella moments. Whether sparkle, ball gowns and fancy shoes are your thing or not (the girly girl in me loves such things!), I think we each have an innate desire to feel beautiful (at least sometimes) and have shining moments.  We may not seek or desire the limelight.  We may not want a whole ballroom of folks looking at us or need pomp and circumstance, but we each need to feel validated.  We each need to feel seen by someone.  We each need to feel cared about.  Perhaps more than anything, we each need an occasional break from the mundane tasks of daily life. We all need a bit of fantasy sometimes and a bit of a break from reality. We need something to look forward to, to hope for and to fondly remember later on.

I think back into my own life and the times I’ve had these moments.  Some of them have been big events, like when I dressed in a big white dress and married my beloved high school sweetheart just over 15 years ago.  And some of them have been smaller events, like when my husband and I returned to our high school years later on a scavenger hunt and stood in the parking lot, dancing to our song next to my car.  I was wearing jeans and a hoodie yet felt as beautiful as I did on my wedding day.  For those couple of minutes, I was totally his world and he was totally mine.

My mom and daughter waiting for the movie to start.

And I think of my daughter. I think of the kind of magical moments I want for her. She’s had a few already in her five years of life, but I know there are so many more to come. There will be proms and maybe a wedding. She will grow in grace and beauty even more and I hope and pray that she will have Cinderella moments.

2. We all need love. The last few Disney movies I’ve seen have focused less on romantic love and more on other types of love like between siblings (“Frozen”) or between caregiver and child (“Malificent”). I get that.  I appreciate that. I don’t want to teach my daughter that her validity comes only through the love of a man, but at the same time I also want to teach her that true love does exist and she deserves it. Will she learn this solely from Disney movies? Heck, no. She’ll learn it more from watching her dad and me and her grandparents. She’ll learn it from lessons at church. But is it so bad to dream of finding true love? Not one bit. There is something magical and special about finding it. There is something magical and special about marriage.

Please don’t mistake my romantic musings for ignorance. Romance isn’t necessarily being swept off your feet by Prince Charming and whisked to the ball in glass slippers. It isn’t necessarily having a man come striding in to save you from your rough life. It is finding a man who cherishes you, who loves you, who cares for you, who is kind to you and who makes you better just for knowing him. While all of these things aren’t conveyed in a Disney movie (because there’s only so much that can go into a two-hour movie, anyway!), they are important tenants of life. It’s important to dream. It’s important to love. It’s important to hope.

So many times marriage advice tends to focus on how your spouse may drive you crazy and you live with it. Or churches may even dole out advice to avoid adultery and other pitfalls that can destroy families. All of these things are important and vital, but it’s also important and vital to remember the good things about marriage. My life is better because my husband is in it. He doesn’t bring me flowers all the time. He doesn’t write me love letters daily. He shows me love in working for our family. He shows me love in supporting me. He shows me love in the responsibility he feels and takes seriously to help me navigate and enjoy life. I have seen his romance in sitting by my bedside after surgery wearing a T-shirt proclaiming “My Wife Rock” or advocating for me to try a new treatment that might help my bladder. I have seen his love when he notices that I am worn out and frayed around the edges and sends me off to nap in our bedroom for an hour while he takes charge of the kids.

It’s OK to want romantic love. It’s OK to admit that you are better for it. Yes, these things can be misconstrued and we will certainly teach that to our children. We will work to instill in them a love for God, their family and themselves, but I do dream and pray that my children both find true love one day and have wonderful spouses who help make their journey easier and better.

3. We all need courage, kindness and forgiveness. Perhaps more than any other message, this latest version of the Cinderella story focused on these attributes. These are things I find mostly through my faith in God and that is what I am sharing with my children as they grow. Cinderella isn’t a religious movie or story by any means, but these attributes are all things that would make the world a better place if everyone adhered to them.  It takes courage to be brave and face new and challenging situations. There are times in life when it takes courage to even get out of bed and face the day. Other times courage is much bolder in taking big leaps of faith. We may be scared, but we more forward with courage.

And let us not forget kindness. Can you imagine if everyone you ever met in the world was genuinely kind? It would solve so many problems. At its root, kindness is thinking more of others than yourself, which is exactly what Jesus taught. A smile for a hurting person, a sandwich for a hungry man, a cup of cold water given on a hot day — kindness comes in many forms and makes a profound impact.

Finally, forgiveness.  In the end, Cinderella forgave her stepmother before she moved on with her new life.  (I’d say spoiler alert, but it’s pretty much the story of Cinderella that’s been around for ages.) You cannot move forward when you’re clinging to the hurts of the past. It’s not possible. Forgive. Move forward. Simple and yet profound.

And this is why I was surprisingly dazzled this week when we went to “Cinderella.”  I’m not sure she’ll take over as my favorite Disney princess.  I can’t help but love bookworm Belle, and I have an attachment to her after spending a summer in marching band performing a “Beauty and the Beast” show.  But I really enjoyed Cinderella more than any other recent Disney movie. (Sorry, “Frozen.”) It spoke to the romantic girly girl in me and it spoke a bit to the mother in me. Who knew that a Disney movie would make me wax philosophical and sentimental?!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Bacon ranch pinwheels]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3770 2015-03-19T13:05:51Z 2015-03-19T13:05:51Z Sometimes I accidentally come up with something good at the spur of the moment.  Last night was one of those times.  We got home just in time for dinner after checking out the local farm festival with the kiddos.  They …

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Sometimes I accidentally come up with something good at the spur of the moment.  Last night was one of those times.  We got home just in time for dinner after checking out the local farm festival with the kiddos.  They had a great time petting animals, climbing on haystacks, digging in the dirt and eating some fresh kettle corn.  We were hungry and didn’t have a lot of time for cooking, so I decided to make tried and true pepperoni pinwheels.  They are one of our favorites around here.  Canned pizza crust covered with cheese and diced pepperoni then rolled up, sliced and baked.  Easy peasy and not too bad of a dinner served with some ranch dip and carrots.  I got the pizza crust spread out then pulled out our pepperoni.  It looked and smelled fine, but it had expired 10 days prior.  The pepperoni might have been fine, but I didn’t feel like risky tummy troubles for all four of us.  I’m big on, “When in doubt, throw it out!”

So I had to improvise.  I hated to waste the pizza crust.  I decided to go with the flavors in my husband’s favorite bacon bread recipe.  And thus bacon ranch pinwheels were born.  They were yummy and a hit with our whole family.  We at them with some ranch dip and baby carrots.  The kids also had blackberries.  We enjoyed the rest of the kettle corn from the farm festival for dessert.

Look at this yummy goodness. Cheese, bacon and ranch -- what's not to love?

Bacon ranch pinwheels
Ingredients:
1 can refrigerated pizza crust
1/2 packet ranch dressing seasoning (I used the kind you add to sour cream to make dip, because that’s what I add, but the kind that mixes into salad dressing would work as well)
1 cup pizza or mozzarella cheese
7 slices bacon, cooked until desired crispiness (I use the precooked bacon and heat in the microwave until it’s crispy)

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 425-degrees.

2. Cook the bacon to desired crispness.  Set aside to cool enough to touch without burning your fingers.

3. Spread the pizza crust out on a flat surface (I use my cutting board to make life easier).

4. Use the powder from half of the ranch dressing packet and spread over the pizza crust.  Pat it into the crust gently.

5. Sprinkle cheese all over the ranch-coated pizza crust.  Break up the bacon and spread over that.

6. Roll from one of the short ends of the rectangle into a log.  With a very sharp knife, slice the roll into 1-inch thick circles.

7. Place the circles on a baking sheet.  I line mine with non-stick aluminum foil to make clean-up a snap.  Parchment paper would also work well.  If you aren’t using anything of the sort, you may want to spritz the pan with a bit of non-stick cooking spray.

8. Bake at 425-degrees for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned.  Serve warm with ranch dressing or dip.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Thoughts on messy houses and the balancing act of motherhood]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3761 2015-03-12T17:31:48Z 2015-03-12T17:31:48Z I just came across a blog about how to simplify my busy life, get rid of clutter and embrace the minimalist movement.  And I nearly laughed out loud.  I didn’t even read the post.  I knew it wasn’t for me. …

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I just came across a blog about how to simplify my busy life, get rid of clutter and embrace the minimalist movement.  And I nearly laughed out loud.  I didn’t even read the post.  I knew it wasn’t for me. I’m all for simple. I consider myself a pretty simple person.  I am content to be at home.  I don’t need fancy things.  I am satisfied pretty easily and simply being in the company of those I love.  My favorite things include reading, eating, sleeping and gaming (as in board and tabletop role-playing games).  Pretty simple.  My life is busy, yes, but that’s how life with two small children is.  However, having two small children means that clutter can run rampant in my house.  And boy does it!

This made me laugh out loud. Are your kids euphoric like mine are? :-D

Right now I’m sitting on our dining room couch.  A cushion down from me is a finger puppet, a snack cup, a Mickey RV, a car with a figurine in it and a dishtowel that was used to wrap an ice pack in for a bumped head.  I won’t tell you what I see under and on my kitchen table or under and on the end table beside me or on the bar countertop area or on the kitchen floor.  And that’s just the stuff I can see. Am I a bad housekeeper?  Maybe.  But, the fact of the matter is I am home all day every day with two small children.  Is that an excuse?  Yes.  I completely own up to that.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t try.  I do.  There are times the house is better than others.  The better I feel, the more I can do.  Things get out of whack when my bladder flares or the kids get sick or I get sick or whatever.  It’s just the phase of life we’re in and it happens.

I see blog post after blog post encouraging moms to have organized homes and clean homes and magazine perfect homes.  I see posts telling me how it’s my job as a housewife and mother to do these things for my family.  I see posts with photos allegedly showcasing messy houses with kids (Puh-lease!  Two toys on the living room floor do not a messy house make!).  I see posts telling me that if I can make my house be clean and clutter-free for a party or when I know company is coming then I can do it all the time if I just put my mind to it and stopped being lazy.

Sometimes I start to feel guilty or ashamed because I ought to be able to do all of those things and still have time to play with my children and make every meal from scratch and attend to my husband and play with the dog and write lengthy blog posts and books and magazine articles and on and on it goes.  All I can do is laugh.  It’s not possible.  It’s just not.  There are times my house is going to be a mess.  There are times I’m going to choose to sit on my hind end and read a book after they go to bed because I am too tired to put away stray toys the toddler has lugged around the place.  Heck, I rolled over in bed last week and landed on top of a toy I had missed clearing out of the way before I climbed under the sheets.  The next night I went to sleep with a Batman figurine watching over me from my nightstand.  These things happen with small kids.  They happen with chronic pain issues.  They happen with life.  And it’s OK.

Should I strive to do better for my family?  Always.  But the definition of better varies.  Better doesn’t always mean a cleaner house or a more organized to-do list or a cute menu planning board.  Better is defined by each mama and what her version of that is.  My goal is to be the best I can be.  You be the best you can be.  Your version of better and my version are going to look different because we are different.  No one blog post can tell us what is the perfect balance for each of our individual lives and journeys.  We each have a story to tell and a journey that we’re on and none of us are identical.  So, we just have to do the best we can and not beat ourselves up for the things that fall through the cracks or aren’t exactly as we’d like them to be.

Could I be decluttering my house a bit right now instead of sitting on the couch writing this blog post?  Sure.  However, I can also tell you that I need to sit on this couch and rest because my bladder is flaring and if I don’t sit and rest while I can then I won’t be able to play with and make dinner for my children later and those things are way more important to me than clearing clutter.  I can also tell you that my son has taken to only sleeping with his bedroom door open so if I work too much around here and make too much noise, I am going to wake him up and all bets are off for getting anything done of any sort.

It’s a balance each and every day.  Heck, it’s a balance that can shift every hour of the day even.  And it’s OK. I have learned my limits.  I know what works and what doesn’t and I’m done beating myself up over it. Just like Elsa, I’m letting it go.  Join me!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Employee Appreciation Day for moms]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3755 2015-03-06T15:03:34Z 2015-03-06T15:03:34Z Today is Employee Appreciation Day.  I have no idea if that’s celebrated very much.  I haven’t been a traditional employee since 2002 when I started my freelance business.  And these days, I’m less freelance journalist and more stay-at-home mom.  I …

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Today is Employee Appreciation Day.  I have no idea if that’s celebrated very much.  I haven’t been a traditional employee since 2002 when I started my freelance business.  And these days, I’m less freelance journalist and more stay-at-home mom.  I still write some for hire, but mostly I work for my two small children.  So I was thinking about that this morning as the radio station I listen to was discussing employee appreciation day.  What does that mean for moms?  I include all moms because whether you spend part of your life out of the home working for an income or you are home with your kids all day everyday for no pay, you are still a mom employee.  You still work for your kids.  Of course they aren’t in charge.  Of course you are the boss, but technically in so many ways it usually feels sort of the opposite. That’s what happens when you put someone else before yourself.

My bosses are adorable.  They don’t know about Employee Appreciation Day.  And, quite frankly, I don’t want them to ever think of me as an employee, so I’m not going to mention it to them.  But, you know what?  They show me appreciation every single day.

It’s there in the little arms that wrap around my neck for hugs and cuddles. It’s there for soft lips that graze my cheek with smooches.  It’s there when they say “Thank you” for the things I do.  We have made those two words a priority around here, and even the 2-year-old uses them often.  In fact, I just handed him a sippy cup of ice water before I sat down to write this post and he gave me a sweet “Thank you.”

My two little bosses playing in the snow a couple of weeks ago.

The appreciation is there when they look at me with love and adoration.  It’s there when they laugh at my corny jokes.  It’s there when they seek me out to ease their hurts.  It’s there when they are excited to tell me about something good that happened.

But here’s the thing.  While I may joke that I work for my children who are tiny, demanding and sometimes unreasonable bosses, I also get paid immensely.  Those things I mentioned how they show me their appreciation aren’t small.  Hearing them say and show how much they love me makes my heart burst.  I give so much to my children and yet I also get so much back from them.  Before having children I always felt blessed in my work.  I felt blessed to be my own boss and to do what I love.  I felt blessed to be able to share people’s stories and write articles that could help others.  Now, I feel even more blessed in my work.  It’s way harder work. It involves a lot more pressure because I’m shaping people here.  People!  I’m in charge of taking care of them and teaching them.  But it’s awesome work.  I’ve got these sweet little faces looking to me everyday for everything.  And it’s good.  It’s really good.  I am so blessed to be a mother.

While I want my little employers to appreciate me, I also appreciate them in return.  I appreciate their sweet smiles.  I appreciate their love. I appreciate their hugs.  I appreciate their compassion.  I appreciate the way them for who they are.  I appreciate that God blessed me with them.  I appreciate that I get a chance to go through this life with them and watch them grow.  I appreciate it all, even on the hard days.

Happy Employee Appreciation Day, moms!  Your employers are small, demanding and incredibly sweet.  Know that even when they are grumpy and don’t show it, they do appreciate you and all that you do.  Because you, my mama friend, are awesome!  Keep up the good work!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Lessons from an eagle]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3750 2015-02-26T19:04:37Z 2015-02-26T19:04:37Z Yesterday I saw a photo shared on Facebook of an eagle cam in Tennessee.  Like so much of the rest of the country, Tennessee has gotten snow this week.  The photo shows a bald eagle covered in snow sitting on …

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Yesterday I saw a photo shared on Facebook of an eagle cam in Tennessee.  Like so much of the rest of the country, Tennessee has gotten snow this week.  The photo shows a bald eagle covered in snow sitting on top of her eggs.

This screenshot from the Harrison Bay Live Eagle Cam was posted on the Sunset Marina Facebook page this week.

For some reason, this photo moved me.  I was struck at that mama bird sitting there weathering the storm and cold to protect her babies.  This photo represents motherhood in a nutshell.  Fortunately I don’t have to sit on my children to keep them warm (they’d never hold still), but I am charged with protecting them.  I feel this bald eagle mama.  I feel her discomfort and cold and her sheer determination.  I understand where she’s coming from.  I’ve been there in different ways.  Motherhood is uncomfortable.  It starts very early on with morning sickness and all sorts of other pregnancy joys.

I spent a year tied to a breast pump to keep my daughter fed and nourished when she was unable to nurse.  I spent the last three months of my second pregnancy in constant pain.  I spent three months sleeping on the couch with a baby boy who cried all night long night after night.  I have slept in all sorts of weird and uncomfortable positions to keep vigil with sick children and just be present for them.  I have held buckets to catch vomit.  I have been covered in bodily fluid that is not my own.  I have lost more sleep than I even can count.  I have found energy to keep going when I thought I had no more left to give.  I live the life of a mom.  Every other mother can share similar stories.  We protect our young.  We are uncomfortable for them.  And we don’t really give it a second thought.  Of course we get discouraged.  Of course we lose heart.  Of course we get weary to the very core of our being.  Of course we get frustrated.  Of course we get fed up.  But, of course we continue on because our love far outweighs all of our discomfort and irritation.  It really, truly does.

Like the eagle protecting her eggs from the cold by shielding them with her own body, we sacrifice and give up parts of ourselves to protect and care for our babies.  It’s how motherhood works.  It’s not easy or always pleasant, but it is always beautiful.  It is good.

What else is good about this is eagle is that she’s not over-thinking motherhood and her skills as a mom.  She isn’t berating herself because she isn’t a bear who can go deep into a cave with her young to keep them warm.  She isn’t judging herself harshly because she should have known better than to build a nest in Tennessee where freak snow storms have been known to take place.  She isn’t comparing her nest to the other eagle’s nest in the next tree.  She’s got her head down, doing what needs to be done without second guessing herself.

Oh how I could learn from that eagle.  I’d like to tell you I never second guess myself, compare my mothering to others, judge myself harshly for things out of my control or wish I were a different kind of mother.  But I do all of those things and more.  I have times I worry and fret.  I have times of doubt and fear. I have times I lose my patience.  Just yesterday we had a game of Hungry, Hungry Hippos go awry that ended with me threatening to throw away the game and sending a sobbing child to her room to just calm down.  Do I want to be a mother full of grace and patience?  Of course.  Do I always succeed? Definitely not.

My best times of motherhood are the ones where I just let go and enjoy my children.  It’s the times when I’m not worried about what all needs to get done on my to-do list or beating myself up over my shortcomings.  It’s when I am just being who I am and enjoying my children for who they are.  Those are the good times.

I’ve started reading a new book that I know will result in a blog post later on, but right now what’s stuck out to me the most is a reminder that moms need to stop focusing on their shortcomings and start remembering their talents and skills.  So maybe I’m not good at having my kids out and about in lots of activities that, quite frankly as an introvert, drain me completely.  But I am good at sitting and reading book after book after book.  I am good at getting on the floor and rolling around cars or making dolls talk to one another.  I don’t need to beat myself up for what I’m not.  I need to be thankful for what I am.  Of course I need to improve where I can.  Of course I need to get out of my comfort zone sometimes, but I don’t need to constantly beat myself up.  I need to take a lesson from the mama eagle, put my head down and do what I know how to do best.  I need to keep moving forward taking care of my babies, even in the middle of storms.

Today, my mama friends, channel your inner mama eagle. Keep your head down, moving forward and don’t worry about all the other muck around you.  Celebrate yourself for what you’re good at and how far you’ve come.  You are awesome!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[I’ll always be your hand to hold]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3741 2015-02-19T17:21:52Z 2015-02-19T13:11:21Z I have mentioned before that my daughter will start kindergarten this fall.  She turned 5 in October.  I knew this day was coming.  It isn’t a surprise.  However, I still don’t know which school she’ll be going to.  We have …

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I have mentioned before that my daughter will start kindergarten this fall.  She turned 5 in October.  I knew this day was coming.  It isn’t a surprise.  However, I still don’t know which school she’ll be going to.  We have some decisions to make and a few options available to us.  Right now we are sorting through those options and so I am starting to realize how difficult sending her to kindergarten is going to be for me, even though it is most certainly best for her.  (Yes, I know all sorts of homeschoolers who love it, but it is not for us.)

As part of our quest to find the right school for her, a couple of weeks ago she went to one school for some testing.  The kid is smart and there are a couple of gifted programs that require testing.  I don’t care so much whether she gets into gifted programs, but I think it would be a good fit for her and we’re trying to leave all of our options open, so we went.  This school decides sooner than others.

I got her all ready to go.  We talked about how they’d have different things for her to do and that she should try her best but not worry and all sorts of stuff like that.  We sent her brother to stay with my parents and the two of us ventured out.  She wasn’t really nervous or excited.  I was a bit anxious, because I worry about whether we’re doing the right thing and I never want her to feel pressured and, well, I’m just a mom and we’re good at worrying and being anxious.

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She was fine.  We were fine.  Until we turned the corner on the way to the counseling office and ran into a classroom of perhaps third graders who came streaming out on their way to lunch or somewhere.  They weren’t rowdy or inappropriate, but there were quite a few of them and they surprised us.  Lexiana immediately grabbed my hand.  She needed my comfort as she continued walking forward.  Oh that kid!  She will never know it, but I needed her hand just as much in that moment.  I was hit afresh with how my baby girl is becoming a big girl and all too soon she’ll be one of those third graders lining up and going about her school day without me.  We held hands tightly for a minute and kept each other safe and in check.

I know that the time is coming not too far away when she won’t always want to hold my hand or cling to me.  She grows more and more independent daily, but I want her to always know that while I am working so hard to let her go and let her explore and live her life that I will always be her hand to hold — whether that’s literally or figuratively.  When she is worried or afraid or just uncertain, I will be there for her.  When she takes a step of independence and falters, I will be there for her.  I will always be that hand to hold even when she is grown.  I will be there.  I will reach for her as she reaches for me.  We’ll find our way together through all life has to bring.  Whatever hard times come her way, I will always be her hand to hold.

I continue to take steps forward toward letting her go a bit more all the time.  It both breaks my heart and makes my heart burst with excitement and joy at the same time.  I can’t see her fly if I never let her leave the nest.  And I have a feeling this kid of mine is going to soar with her big heart and her intelligence.  But she is going to have falls along the way.  There will be mean girls and young love.  There will be difficult teachers and lost competitions.  It won’t all be easy, but learning to fly isn’t easy.  I can only promise her that no matter what happens, I will always be her safe place to land and her hand to hold.  For now, I will just be there.  We will hold hands.  I will clasp hers tightly as she clasps mine.  I will quietly be thankful that she still needs me to help her when she’s overwhelmed, because sometimes I need her the same way.

This motherhood business is awesome and really darn hard sometimes.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[A Mary or Martha kind of mother]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3734 2015-02-05T21:17:47Z 2015-02-05T21:17:47Z I can’t tell you how many times I have heard sermons or Bible studies or read devotions on the Mary and Martha story in the Bible.  Probably more than I can count.  But as God is known to do, sometimes …

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I can’t tell you how many times I have heard sermons or Bible studies or read devotions on the Mary and Martha story in the Bible.  Probably more than I can count.  But as God is known to do, sometimes He knocks me over the head about something in a new way and that happened last week.  I read a devotion about Mary and Martha — you know, the story in Luke 10:38-42 where Jesus goes to visit the two sisters and Mary sits at His feet listening to Him talk while Martha stays busy getting everything in the house ready.  When Martha asks Him to reprimand her sister for not helping, Jesus lovingly turns the tables on her and gently reminds her that Mary is doing the right thing.  What He wanted and what she need was to just listen to Him.

This passage has long reminded me to not be so busy doing things that I miss out on just being with and listening to God, but for the first time last week, it spoke directly to my mother’s heart.  Zing!  Right where I needed to hear it.  I am the kind of person who thrives on a to-do list.  Thrives!  I feel most accomplished when I can look back at my day and see how I marked off item after item.  On down times, I get antsy if I don’t get things done.  I like a mix of being productive and resting when it comes to my downtime.  I have a to-do list for every day.  And, of course, with two small children there is always lots to be done: cleaning, cooking, laundering, bathing, diapering and on and on the list goes.

I have been feeling quite proud of myself lately for all I’ve been doing. As my son has gotten older and less clingy and more happy and able to play with his big sister, I have gotten a chance to get things done again.  I have also felt well enough these last few weeks to do things.  So I was feeling proud that I’ve been organizing my house in pockets here and there and marking things off my to-do list and keeping up with laundry and making healthy food for my family and on I could go.  But you know what the Bible also says about pride going before a fall.

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And just like that God smacked me over the head and pointed out to me that I needed to make sure I wasn’t only being a Martha to my children doing all the tasks that surround caring for them but that I was also being a Mary to my children and stopping to listen to and play with them.  Ouch!  It’s not that doing my kids’ laundry or making their lunch or cleaning our house are bad or wrong in any way.  Certainly those things need to be done.  If I don’t do them things get crazy.  However, God reminded me that I need to just stop doing sometimes and just be with my kiddos.  Of course I play with them.  Of course I interact with them, but how often do I just sit down with them one-on-one and say, “Let’s do whatever you want to do for the next half hour?”  Not all that often.  More often than I’d like to admit when I play with them I feel antsy to be able to move on to my next task or I think about all that isn’t getting done or I even just think how much I wish I could be doing something else for myself.  And many times, I’m half playing and half keeping an eye on the time so that we don’t get off our precious schedule.

The games a preschooler and toddler come up with aren’t always intriguing and fun to me.  How many times can I make a Ninja Turtle on a motorcycle run into Batman on a motorcycle before I start to want to pull out my hair?  But isn’t God patient with us?  Aren’t I supposed to model my life after Him?  He sees me wandering around making a mess of things or doing the same tedious, ridiculous things over and over.  Fortunately He doesn’t think like I sometimes do and get impatient with my childish ways.  Sometimes I think He finds delight in the little things that delight me.  Because when I really just let myself and my agenda go and am present in playing with my children with my mind and body, then I am happy to make a Ninja Turtle on a motorcycle crash into Batman on a motorcycle over and over again because I see the joy it brings my son.  He is delighted, so I am delighted.

Today I will make progress on my to-do list.  I will get laundry done.  I will make dinner. I will make sure that the big kid gets to and from preschool on time.  I will be a Martha managing my household and family.  But I will also work to be a Mary and make sure that I stop to just sit and play with my children.  I have learned this in my spiritual life (though I am FAR from perfect!).  I make time to stop and hang out with God in the mornings (unless my kids are sick and up all hours then I find Him in other ways throughout the day).  I need that time with my Father.  My kids need that time with their mother.  I will work to find the best balance I can between Martha and Mary.  Some days I may be more one than the other in the natural ebb and flow of life, but I will plod forward doing my best.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The things I see when I look at my son]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3720 2015-01-30T18:33:08Z 2015-01-30T13:33:16Z Today is a bittersweet day around here.  It is my son’s birthday.  And while I’m excited for him to be turning 2, I’m also a bit sad that the baby days are creeping farther and farther behind us.

There are …

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Today is a bittersweet day around here.  It is my son’s birthday.  And while I’m excited for him to be turning 2, I’m also a bit sad that the baby days are creeping farther and farther behind us.

There are all sorts of things I think about and see when I look at my son.  I see the baby boy who was bright blue and not making a sound when he was placed on my chest.  I see the medical team that surrounded him for 20 minutes until he was breathing on his own.  I see the nurse who laughed while she walked away after he was breathing well because he had wet all over the sleeve of her scrubs.

My newborn little dude. (Photo by Catherine Hatton)

I see the baby boy who had me sleeping beside him in the recliner of the couch for three months straight while he either didn’t sleep, nursed or finally conked out on the Boppy pillow beside me.

I see the chubby baby boy who watched his sister move and longed to follow her.

I see the rolls of baby fat on his legs that came from knowing I had fed him with my body and it worked.

I see the little head nursing away contentedly.

I see the baby boy who took off crawling trying to catch up to his big sister and his dog.

I see the bigger boy who toddled around wishing he could keep up with his sister.

I see the toddler running through the house wreaking havoc and getting into everything from the dog’s water to his dad’s electronics.

I see the toddler snuggling into my lap to read books.

I see the toddler snuggling against my chest while he’s sick.

I hear the beautiful sound of his first and many more words.  I listen to him singing and smile at the sweetness of him singing “Amazing Grace.”

My little guy last year, just before his first birthday.

I see the persistence he has to go after what he wants time and time again — even when it frustrates me beyond belief.

I see the easy laugh he has when he’s happy.

I see the frustration when he can’t quite communicate what he means or has to relinquish a toy he wants to play with and can’t.

I see the sadness when his sister goes away from him for school or just to have her own space in her room.

I see the joy in his face when he runs to greet his sister, my husband, his grandparents or me.

I hear his sweet voice asking for things more and more, adding in such a delightful “pease” at the end that it’s hard to say no.

I see a little boy who will grow into a man.

I snuggle a sweet, soft cheek and know that one day it will be rough with facial hair.

I feel his body snuggling into mine and know that one day it will be bigger than mine.

I smell his hair and his neck and all his sweet baby smells and know that all too soon those will be gone.

My little guy playing outside just a couple of months ago.

There is so much I see and feel and think when I look at my son.  I see how fast time is going.  I try to catch my breath and just enjoy the moments and go along for the ride.  I try to remind myself to enjoy every single minute before it is gone.

I don’t know what the future will bring.  I don’t know exactly what he’ll be like in another year, five years, 10 years or 25 years.  I just know that no matter how old he gets, no matter how much he changes physically, he will always be my baby boy.  He will always be my son who I love so completely.  He will always take a piece of my heart with him wherever he goes.  I will celebrate who he is today as a new 2-year-old.  I will celebrate the journey we went through to get him here and his journey since he was born.  I will celebrate all that I dream of for his future and the man he will one day become.  While his dad and I had a part in starting his story when he was conceived, I am excited to see how he makes it his own.

While I can’t help but feel a bit sad for the parts of his babyhood that are becoming more and more memory and less reality, I also can’t help but feel excited for all there is to come. I am blessed and thankful to be on this journey as Drake’s mom.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Never judge your motherhood by just one day]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3712 2015-01-23T13:38:32Z 2015-01-23T13:38:32Z Nobody can be harder on a mama than herself.  We have all these things we tell ourselves about how we’re awful at motherhood, how we keep messing up, how we’re not doing it right, how we are doing the very …

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Nobody can be harder on a mama than herself.  We have all these things we tell ourselves about how we’re awful at motherhood, how we keep messing up, how we’re not doing it right, how we are doing the very things we swore we wouldn’t ever do and on and on it goes.  And we are great at putting guilt trips on ourselves.  If we do something solely for us that takes us away from our kids, we are sure that the world is going to come crashing down.  We are sure the kids will be scarred for life and someday sit in a therapist’s chair telling about how their life was going well until that one day  their mom decided to go to her room for an hour and read in silence or spend an hour a week for 10 weeks taking a class of interest to her or whatever.  We are good at laying it on thick on ourselves.  Heck, we may be great at not judging other parents and their styles, but we are the first to harshly criticize our own.

I have worked on this.  I have blogged about this.  I have reminded myself that I am doing the best I can.  I am still working and still reminding myself that I’m doing my best.  And I still have bad days.

Earlier this week I literally only had my kids for about two hours after dinner before bedtime.  They had spent the day with my parents while I went to doctors’ appointments and run some errands for my son’s upcoming 2nd birthday party.  Those two hours included baths for them both (we don’t do baths every night in our house).  And I knew after they went to bed, I’d have to hop in the shower myself.  I much prefer doing that in the mornings, but my husband had an extra early day the next day and he’d need to be in the bathroom getting ready during my usual shower time.  I didn’t feel like setting the clock even earlier than usual.  Add all of this in to the fact that I’d had a pretty busy day cramming in tasks I can’t do as easily with the kids around and that they were hyper and excited after having just spent time with their grandparents and it was a recipe for stress.

It was one of those evenings that make you question your sanity and why you ever decided to have children in the first place.  The evening had come after a rough day previously as well.  My son is a typical toddler who is very into exploring and checking things out.  Every so often he has a day or two that he just goes crazy and wreaks havoc around here. My patience was thin with both of them.

By the time both were tucked snugly in their beds, I was worn out.  And it had only been two hours with them.  What kind of mother gets so irritated in just two hours?  What kind of person was that I had no patience for their shenanigans that evening?  I started laying it on myself thick.  It hung over my head and my heart.  I prayed about it in the shower.  I prayed about it the next morning during my quiet time.  God has given me these children and all I do is get grumpy and irritated with them, I said to myself.  That wasn’t my plan and it surely wasn’t His either.

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I was judging myself and my mothering skills based on one bad day.  The next day dawned with my kids behaving as usual.  I found myself laughing with them and enjoying them.  I still got some tasks accomplished on my to-do list (which always makes me feel better) and I also did things like snuggle under a blanket on the couch with them singing songs during a pretend camp-out.  In fact, when I tucked them into bed, my heart felt happy and content.  I felt good about the day and good about myself as a mother.

But just as I shouldn’t judge myself and all of my parenting skills based on one bad day, I also shouldn’t based on one good day.  One good day doesn’t make me a saint.  It doesn’t make me a perfect mother.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t have room to improve and things I need to work on.  I still do.  I always do and always will.  That’s part of being human.  What that DOES mean, though, is that I need to continue reminding myself not to beat myself up too hard on the rough days because there are always good days to follow.  Not every single day is crazy stressful and not every single day is blissfully happy. Most days are somewhere in between with mixes of both. That neither means I’m a good mother nor a bad one.  It just means I’m a mother in the fray of raising small children.

No matter how today goes — whether great, awful or mediocre — I will still be who I am at the end of it.  I will still be a mother who is trying her best and who loves her kids even when they make her want to scream because they are frustrating or weep because they are so sweet.  One day’s experiences don’t define my motherhood ability.  They just define that day. And that’s what I need to remember.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Because you’re mine]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3700 2015-01-16T15:22:24Z 2015-01-16T15:22:24Z “Mommy, come!”  ”Mommy, come here!”

This is the little voice I hear calling to me most mornings and after nap times.  Sometimes my son switches it to call for daddy.  And sometimes he gets desperate and just sobs without even …

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“Mommy, come!”  ”Mommy, come here!”

This is the little voice I hear calling to me most mornings and after nap times.  Sometimes my son switches it to call for daddy.  And sometimes he gets desperate and just sobs without even calling our names.  And for a couple of months, I’d hear this sobbing and crying for me in the middle of the night again after him having slept through the night for almost a year.

This is my son last week after having a rough time during his nap. Sometimes just my presence beside him in the room can help him relax and ease his fears, just like God's presence does for me.

And when I hear this voice and hear his plea, I go to him.  Because he is mine.  We snuggle together to calm his fears.  My hair falls over the top of his head and the two intermingle in exactly the same shade of brown.  Because he is mine.  We have had our fair share of battles — stubborn ones — throughout his learning to sleep or just to listen when we tell him not to do something.  Because he is mine (he comes by his stubbornness fair and square).  At the end of any given day, though, the things I have done that day for my son and for my daughter are because I love them.  They are mine.  I see bits of myself in them.  My daughter has my sensitive heart and the shape of my fingers.  She has my smile.  My son has my brown hair and eyes.  He has my love for music and snuggles.

I think about how I would do anything for them, because they are mine.  I think about how I don’t ignore their pleas for help when they are sick or scared, because they are mine.  I think about how God must feel that way with us.  Because we are His, He doesn’t ignore us when we cry out to Him.  He is there even when we don’t realize it.  Just like I am never far from my son when he is afraid that I have left for good.  I haven’t left.  And neither does God leave us, even when we can’t see Him.

He comes running to us in our time of need because we are His.  I think of this especially in the night. Things can be scarier in the night, especially for children.  My daughter is old enough to get out of bed and come running to me when she needs me.  My son is still in his crib and his only course of action is to holler for me.  Either way, I’m there, which is just how God is with us.  Whether we can come running and meet Him or whether we need Him to find us in the darkest nights.  He is there.  He is waiting.  He is loving us.  Because we are His.

I’ve had many figurative dark nights in my lifetime. I have had times where I had no idea how I was going to make it through.  I have had innumerable moments of frustration and pain.  I have cried out to God about the unfairness of it all.  I have pleaded with Him to take away difficult circumstances or painful ailments.  Some prayers have been answered with a yes and a resolution.  Others have been answered with a gentle no.  No matter what I have faced, though, He has always shown up when I needed Him and cried out to Him.  Because I am His.  And no greater love can be found.  I work to wrap my head around His love and how it can be even greater than my love for my children.  It’s beyond comprehension, but the glimpses I get make me feel humbled and thankful.

I wonder what God sees when He looks at me.  Does He see pieces of Himself as I see pieces of myself in my children?  I know we are made in His image, but I also know it goes much deeper than appearance.  I’m not sure that God has a hair color or eye color.  Maybe he does.  I really don’t know.  But what I want Him to see the most is His character attributes being displayed through my life because I am His.  And that is where it gets tricky.  I have to battle my own self, my own desires and my own fallibility so that He may shine through.  I want Him to see Himself in me.  I want to get out of the way so that He can work in my life.  Because I am His and He is mine.

I don’t know where you are today, my friend.  I don’t know if you’re in the deepest darkest night and scared to pieces, unsure of how you will make it through or how you can face another day.  I don’t know if maybe you’re on a mountaintop experiencing the joy of life and of God.  Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle.  Maybe you’re wondering how God shines through in your life.  No matter where you are, no matter what you’re facing, wondering or thinking, just call out to Him.  He will come running to meet you, because you are His.

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