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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. 2015-02-26T19:04:37Z http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/feed/atom/ WordPress 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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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Looking forward to 2015]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3694 2015-01-08T19:13:18Z 2015-01-08T19:13:18Z We are a week into 2015.  There is something about a new year that seems fresh and hopeful.  Well, most new years.  My husband and I welcomed 2014 in with a stomach bug.  That didn’t seem very hopeful.  But, this …

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We are a week into 2015.  There is something about a new year that seems fresh and hopeful.  Well, most new years.  My husband and I welcomed 2014 in with a stomach bug.  That didn’t seem very hopeful.  But, this year, I have had no tummy bug and am feeling ready for a new year.

I have seen enough new years to know that a new number doesn’t necessarily mean anything.  In fact, Jan. 1, 2015, was quite similar to Dec. 31, 2014.  I still had children to feed and diapers to change.  I still got hungry and ate food.  I still reminded myself to be patient.  I still needed sleep.  It wasn’t a magical transformation.  I didn’t immediately lose 10 pounds or suddenly become fit.  I was still me. And that’s OK.

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I do, however, have hopes for this year.  I’ve never been huge on resolutions, but I am big on planning.  And I do have some hopes.  My husband has deemed 2015 as the Year of Reduction.  While I’d like to reduce my waistline, what he’s thinking is more of a purging of extra stuff cluttering our house.  He’s thinking of getting rid of things and organizing things.  I am with him in those hopes and thoughts.  We’ve made a good start already in purging toys and clothes from the kids’ rooms. We have a ways to go, but we’re getting there.

My other goal is to find a better organization strategy.  I love being mentally organized. I get stressed out when I’m not.  I’m the kind of person who thrives on schedules and lists.  I have lists for everything.  I got used to doing most of my planning on my computer before the kids were born and I was working full-time.  These days I don’t spend as much time on my computer and even my phone has limits.  I have tried to put an item on my to-do list, for example, and by the time the list loaded on my phone my kids needed something and I had to put it down.  I’ve been using a plain notebook that has worked pretty well, but in 2015, I decided to go back to an old school planner.  So far it’s working out quite well.  Even better, I’ve been able to make notes on months way in the future.  I’ve already made notes about baking things for next Christmas, for example.  I have some recipes that made more than I anticipated, so I marked that in December 2015 notes so I will know next year that one batch of certain treats will be ample.

In looking ahead at the new year, some big things are happening for our family starting in a couple of weeks when my baby boy turns 2.  He’s pretty much been in the toddler phase for a while now, but he was still 1, which is still in baby territory.  Being 2 places him more solidly in toddlerhood, and that is very bittersweet for me.  I’m excited about all the new things to come and getting to know him even more as he continues talking more and more, but I’m also a tad sad the baby days are behind us.

In these same next few weeks we’re also working on figuring out the right school for our daughter who will start kindergarten in the fall.  I’m not quite sure how that’s even possible since I feel like I just gave birth to her a month ago.  She will transform from a preschooler into a school-aged child.  Ack!  Just typing that sentence made tears spring into my eyes.

And those are just the things I know that are coming this year.  There will be so much more as there is every year.  I can’t predict much of it.  I can’t plan for all of it.  I have hopes for the year of things like decluttering, organizing and being healthy.  But I have no guarantees.  I’m looking forward to seeing what 2015 brings.  Maybe it will be better than 2014.  I hope that it isn’t worse.

What are you looking forward to in 2015?

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The hope and joy of Christmas]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3687 2014-12-12T21:25:17Z 2014-12-12T21:25:17Z To say these last few weeks have been crazy would be an understatement.  We’ve dealt with a tummy virus in three of the four people in our family, colds, two run-ins with croup resulting in ER visits, a UTI, a …

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To say these last few weeks have been crazy would be an understatement.  We’ve dealt with a tummy virus in three of the four people in our family, colds, two run-ins with croup resulting in ER visits, a UTI, a sinus infection, an allergic reaction to an antibiotic and a four-day stint out of town for medical treatments.  I’m sure there’s something I’m missing.  So, yeah.  Crazy is a good description.

However, right now I’m sitting peacefully in my living room while the Christmas tree lights are twinkling in the corner and Christmas socks are warming my feet.  Both of my children are napping. And I have to say I am ready for Christmas this year perhaps more than ever.  No, I don’t mean ready in the physical or secular sense.  In fact, beside me on the couch is my notebook with a list of activities I still want to get done in these next couple of weeks like making cookies, wrapping gifts and going to some light displays.  But I am ready in my soul and in my spirit.  I am ready for the hope and joy of Christmas.

We started with a Advent family devotion on Nov. 30.  I’ve missed it for a few days while I was away for some medical stuff, but the kids carried on with my parents.  I cannot wait to get back to it with them today.  The messages are short and sweet.  Most importantly they keep us focused on the true meaning of Christmas.  This has long been my favorite holiday.  I know that the manger doesn’t mean so much without the cross.  However, the two go hand-in-hand.  You can’t have one without the other.

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Christmas can be such a great time of hope and renewal in a way that has nothing to do with presents, homemade goodies or twinkling lights.  What has always awed me about Christmas is that it was the beginning of the sacrifice God made in sending His Son — His One and Only Son — to earth to suffer for us.  That’s always gotten to me, but since becoming a mother, I tear up when I stop to really think about it.

I love my children more than the air that I breathe.  I waited for their births.  I had one Christmas where I was in the midst of caring for a new baby when my daughter was only 3 months old.  I had another Christmas when I was 8 months pregnant and so very miserable and in pain.  Both Christmases gave me new perspective.  They gave me insight into what it must have been like in some small ways for Mary.  And they gave me great insights into love — pure love.  I cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who love me.  I really cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who ignore me.  And I most certainly cannot imagine sacrificing my children for people who hate me and curse my name.  Yet, that is exactly what God did.  He wrapped all of His love up into one bouncing baby boy.  And He offered Jesus to the world to live among us, struggle with us and eventually die for us.  Die for us!

Would I have chosen to have children had I known they would have to die a horrible, tortured death for people who jeered at them?  No, I don’t think I would have.  I don’t have that kind of love.  I look at their precious faces and know that I would go through anything and everything to spare them any pain and definitely to spare them death.  But, God loved me, them and you so much that He gave His Son as a sacrifice for us all.  That is love.  And that is what Christmas is about.  It is hope.  Because when you realize that Someone loves you so much that He’s willing to sacrifice everything for you, it changes everything.  Love changes everything.

Does that mean all Christmases are awesome?  Unfortunately, no.  Like anyone who’s been around for a while, I’ve had some difficult Christmases.  There was the Christmas spent in CCU praying for my mother-in-law to pull through after a heart attack (I’m happy to say she did and 13 years later is still going strong!).  There was the Christmas that came just two weeks after losing my grandma.  Sometimes life is hard and circumstances are hard. But the message of hope remains steady and true every single year.  It has remained unchanged for century after century.  It is there even when we don’t feel it.  It is there even when we ignore it.  And, praise God, it is there when we most need it and long for it.

I don’t know where you find yourself this holiday season.  Maybe it’s a happy one for you; maybe it’s a hard one.  Maybe it’s somewhere in the middle.  Maybe you join me in longing for a reminder of hope and a rebirth of love.  No matter where you find yourself over these next couple of weeks leading up to Christmas, I pray that you also take the time to seek and find God.  He is always there, ready and willing to give you His hope.

Come, Lord Jesus, and fill us with Your hope and joy.

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[Small things for which to be thankful]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3682 2014-11-26T18:33:26Z 2014-11-26T18:33:26Z I have learned many lessons about being thankful throughout my lifetime and I know I’ve got a lot left to go.  I’ve learned to be thankful when I didn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned to be thankful when times are …

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I have learned many lessons about being thankful throughout my lifetime and I know I’ve got a lot left to go.  I’ve learned to be thankful when I didn’t feel like it.  I’ve learned to be thankful when times are beyond rough.  I’ve learned to be thankful when life is great.  I’ve learned to be thankful when my heart was full to the point of bursting.  And I’ve got lots of wonderful, big things for which to give thanks: God, my husband, my children, my parents, a warm home, food in my belly…the list could go on and on and on.  I am thankful for all of those things.  I have written about some of these things before.  I have kept others more personal and to myself.

This Thanksgiving has its own stuff with it, but I offer you a list of the small things I’m thankful for this year.

- Being able to start this blog post. Seriously.  I thought my son was waking up an hour ago.  He’s been getting up earlier than usual.  And now I’ve had a chance to have my quiet time and devotions, eat breakfast, goof off on Facebook and now write this blog post.  The only sound I hear is the furnace running.  It is quite nice.  (And finishing it a day and a half later is also something for which to give thanks!)

- Double Stuf Oreos. Does this really need an explanation?

- Husbands who bring in the laundry from the garage so I can go on to bed.

- A working furnace.

- Target’s Cartwheel app.  Seriously.  Some good coupons on there.  I love saving money.  It makes me happy, happy, happy!

- A glass of good, cold milk — unlike the glass I had this morning from the new jug that tasted really, really wonky.  (And, yes, I poured it out instead of drinking it.)

- Birthday cake.  OK.  I’m not getting any birthday cake today, but I am thankful for it.  And yesterday was my brother-in-law’s birthday, so now I’m thinking about cake.  (And said brother-in-law, who is in my list of family members I am certainly thankful for.)

- Music.  Not sure I need an explanation for that one either.  I love music on the radio and music in my head.

One of my two awesome Wonder Woman water bottles

- My new Wonder Woman water bottles.  They were on clearance (remember how I love to save money?), the two I had were broken, I use them all the time and I was so in love that I bought two.

- Not setting off baby toys that make noise.  I’m always thankful when that works out.  I have a fear of picking up or accidentally stepping on a toy that goes off making noise and wakes everyone up when they’re supposed to be sleeping.

- My cell phone. Of course I can talk on it, check Facebook and e-mail, but I can also make ridiculous amounts of to-do lists and reminders to give me the impression of being organized and on top of things.

- A dishwasher.

- My car and driving.  I love driving.  Last evening I got to do some driving alone.  It was the longest journey I’ve taken by myself in a couple of years, even though it was only about 40 miles away.  Driving is awesome.  (And if you’re local and in the market for a good pre-owned vehicle check out Garrett Auto Sales.  They’ll hook you up!)

- The library.  Oh how I love the library!  I’ve got two different bags of library books right now — one for myself and one for my daughter.  I feel richer at the library than even the dollar store.  Sure, we can get that book.  And that one, too!  OK, throw in that one as well.  Books!

- Comfy couches.  I’m sitting on the one in my dining room right now. I am realizing how old it is, yet, it’s comfy and I quite enjoy it.

- Cuddles.  I get lots of them these days.  Toddler cuddles, preschool cuddles, canine cuddles and even some husband cuddles.  I like my space, but I love me some cuddles.

- Baby boys who wake up laughing instead of crying.  Always a good sign.

- A sweet little girl and her handsome daddy who both lit up as they told me today about their daddy/daughter date last evening.  I’m not the Grinch, but my heart grew in size.

- Getting Christmas shopping well underway before Thanksgiving. I know folks who balk at Thanksgiving getting overlooked for Christmas.  I’m not trying to ignore Thanksgiving, but I am trying to save my sanity because my December calendar is quite full.

- Cute socks.  Today I’m wearing black socks with a pink and red argyle pattern dotted with hearts.  They are technically Valentine’s Day socks.  I wear them all the time, because hearts are always appropriate to me.

- Good friends who make me laugh, force movie popcorn on me and have heart-to-heart conversations with me over French food at Irish restaurants.

- You.  I’m thankful for those of you who take the time to read my blog.

And now if you’ll excuse me, my son is napping, my daughter is in preschool and I’ve got a few more things to get finished.  I’m thankful for the kid-free time in which to get things done.  I’m also thankful for kid-free time to mark important items like “rest” off my to-do list.  ;-)  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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stacey http://writtencreations.com <![CDATA[The light in my kitchen]]> http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/?p=3675 2014-11-18T23:43:55Z 2014-11-18T23:43:55Z I have a light over my kitchen sink.  It’s a long fluorescent bulb and since we bought our house 10 years ago, we have never once changed the bulb.  We have changed every other light bulb multiple times in a …

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I have a light over my kitchen sink.  It’s a long fluorescent bulb and since we bought our house 10 years ago, we have never once changed the bulb.  We have changed every other light bulb multiple times in a decade.  But that one has remained steady and true.  This time of year, I use it the most.  Sometimes I need it for seeing well to scrub dishes after dinner when it’s dark as night by 6 p.m.  Most times I leave it on in the evenings and mornings because that one light produces enough light to light up the kitchen and dining room and even serves as a decent light source for our living room.  It’s just the right amount of light to see by but isn’t blinding to eyes that haven’t yet adjusted to light.

The light over my kitchen sink isn't fancy, but it's bright, steady and true -- just as I want to be.

Monday night, for example, the light came in handy when my daughter woke us up in the middle of the night sick with the same stomach virus her brother had just gotten over days before. She was a miserable little girl.  Once we took care of cleaning needs and got her through the first part of it, I sent my husband back to bed (one of us needed sleep and he still had work to do even from his home office the next day).  Lexiana and I settled into the living room.  I spread a blanket on the floor, set her up with her pillow, a blanket and a bucket.  I had turned on the light over the kitchen sink.  It gave us just enough light to see by in the living room but not so much that we couldn’t sleep.  It gave us just enough light to see by when we made numerous trips down the hall to the bathroom and back.

As I stretched out on the couch for a 20-minute snooze between times of having to get up with her, I thought about that light.  And I thought about the day ahead.  And I thought about how tired I was.  And I wondered how I’d get through the day.  Because one thing I knew for sure is that this sick day wasn’t about me.  It couldn’t be.  No kid wants her mom moaning and groaning and griping when she’s the one who is sick.  So I prayed.  I prayed for strength through the night.  I prayed for energy to keep getting up and to keep dealing with laundry and all that comes with such an icky virus.  I prayed to stay well to take care of my family.  If I somehow beat the odds and missed the germs from my son, I feel like beating the odds and missing the germs the second time around is almost impossible.  But I need to first take care of my family.  And so I prayed.  I wanted to be like that light.  I want to shine light into the darkness and stay steady and true even when everything around me is dark.

I know it sounds profound for a 5 a.m. thought process in the midst of a stomach virus, but evidently I wax poetic at these times.  And evidently God doesn’t sleep through them either.  (Of course!)  I felt Him gently reminding me that He can keep me shining and give me the strength to keep going when I need it most to take care of my family.  And I needed His strength.  My beautiful daughter was horribly miserable and she has quite a low tolerance for misery.  She doesn’t take well to not feeling.  (Who does really?)  There are lots of tears and whining and moaning.  I most certainly need help to continue being loving sometimes in the midst of that.  I know she doesn’t feel well.  I know she truly is miserable and that helps.  But divine help also reminds me that love is patient.  Love is patient.  And I love her more than life itself, so I am patient.

As for my girl, she’s over the worst of the virus and working to regain her strength through some much loathed naps.  She had her first sips of Sprite and was sorely unimpressed.  She was quite anxious for water.  As for the kitchen light, it still shines steady and true and lights our house just enough at just the right times.  Evidently it will now also serve as a reminder to me to remain steady and true through the grace of God.

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