On Becoming a “YES” Mom…

“No, you can’t eat that until you’ve eaten your dinner!”

“No, we don’t have time to play there today.”

“No, you’re going to get too dirty and we don’t have a change of clothes!”

“No, you don’t need to do that just because everyone else is.”

hideandgoseek

No. No. No. No.

Oftentimes, I feel like that’s my initial response to everything when my girls want to do something.

It doesn’t matter what it is, I almost ALWAYS view it as an inconvenience to MY plan.

You know – the plan to have them be perfect in all activities and sports they participate in, to get straight A’s, to desire to eat vegetables, to win a Grammy and of course, to find world peace.

No’s can be an easy way out. They can prevent us from stepping outside of our comfort zone or from trusting someone else’s plan.

whathappenswhenyousayno

I got to thinking today – isn’t that how we treat God, too?

“You want me to spend time with this person that is so different from me? No thanks…”

“You want my husband to take a new job and leave the comfort of our current one? No, I’m okay where we are.”

“You need me to give up extra time on the weekends to serve at church? No, I think there are enough volunteers already.”

No. No. No.

I say no to both my girls and to God when they want me to do something I don’t want to do. I want to have control!

toddlertroubles

I’ve been experimenting with being a YES mom lately and have learned a few things:

My child thinks donuts are bagels. I’ve been cautious in giving treats so she doesn’t inherit my crazy sweet tooth, but girlfriend can eat a donut every now and then 😂🙈🍩

Our schedule doesn’t need to (and shouldn’t) be planned down to the last second. Things will come up, emergencies will happen, and friends will need our support at inconvenient times. If I can’t spend an extra fifteen minutes at a place when my kids are having fun every once in a while, our schedule is too busy!

When clothes get dirty and messy, we can wash them. When they are older and life gets challenging, it won’t be so easy to clean those messes. Aka a little dirt won’t hurt.

sneakytoddlers

While “no’s” are certainly necessary in certain situations for safety reasons, and while I will still say no when needed, I want to be willing to say YES more to God, Brad and our girls.

YES, Lord – I’ll go out of my way to love on everyone I speak with today.

YES, I will extend grace to the grumpy person I deal with just as you give me grace.

YES, we can jump in the muddy puddles, play on the playground ten minutes more and grab a donut just because it’s Tuesday.

As an introvert, I often find myself avoiding situations where I have to be vulnerable and share about my life or even when I have to make small talk with others.

It makes me uncomfortable!

But if I said no to being a part of the small groups I’m in, I’d miss out on some of my closest friends.

I wouldn’t have the opportunities I have now to pray alongside people and be there for them in their most difficult times.

So while “NO” has become my default and my easy way out, I want to become more of a YES mom and woman.

It may be more difficult but the memories it creates will be more rewarding!

Will your kids listen to your advice OR follow your example?

“Children won’t listen to your advice – they will follow your example.”

I’ve heard this before and when I hear this, I feel like it perfectly applies to my healthy lifestyle that I try to follow most days.

But what about when it comes to what I say?

The words that come out of my mouth can be uplifting or destructive.

And lately, I’m embarrassed to admit which one they have been.

One of my small groups is currently discussing the book of James and this past week we talked about taming our tongues.

James 3:9-12 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.”

The phrases out of my mouth lately have started with:

“DON’T!”

“NO”

“STOP”

Those just shout “encouragement”, don’t they?

toddlertantrum

My little three year old picks up on every single thing I do and say. So it should come as no surprise that this is what has come out of HER mouth this week:

“MOM – STOP SHOUTING AT ME”

“Mom – I heard you the first time. You don’t have to say it 8 times”

“Emerson, it’s hard being a one year old sometimes, isn’t it?!”

“You just worry about yourself and I’ll worry about myself.”

“We’re doing Emerson and Ainsley stuff over here while you have your quiet time.  You didn’t have enough quiet time yet so you need some more.”

Sometimes when toddlers talk, it’s hilarious. Sometimes, it’s eye-opening.

toddlertroubles

They are brutally honest. They have no filter. They say what they think and they truly believe what they say. So while I laughed about some of the things she said above, some of them made me want to cry.

I started to shut down and realize exactly where she picked up those phrases.

The tone she uses, the phrases she says, the thoughts she has – they’re coming from me.

I have to be on my guard every single day. Every single hour. Every single word out of my mouth needs to be guarded.

I can’t sing worship songs in the car with her one minute and then snap and shout at her the next.

How can I expect her to say her prayers in bed at night and ask God to help her make better choices when I am not willing to change myself?

We cannot both praise the Father with our words and then turn around and scream and shout at our children.

When I want her to follow my example, it needs to be in everything I do.

The outward flow from my mouth is a reflection of the condition of my heart and right now it has not been pretty.  It’s not a beautiful, perfect, red shaped pretty heart.  It is blackened, cracked and fragmented. I’m not giving God, Brad or my children my best thoughts and words.

It’s not something that I can easily change overnight and it is something that I will never be perfect with, but it is something I can pray about. I can ask for help and patience (eek) and support through this situation.

You see, our children will learn from someone.  Yes, we all have innate behaviors that we are born with.  Disobedience is already being displayed hourly in our 18-month old. But so much of what we do is learned behavior as well.

So if I want them to be positive women that care for others, I have to show that too.

If I want them to eat vegetables, I have to eat them too.  I can’t expect them to chow down on greens if all I ever eat are brownies or ice cream.

If I desire for them to have a healthy outlook when it  comes to their body image, I have to model that for them, too. If all my girls see is me yelling at the scale or throwing everything around in my closet because nothing fits, they will follow suit.

If I want them to use their words to praise and encourage others, I need to do the same.

If my girls will become women who share Christ’s love with others and care for the orphans and widows of this world, I need to walk the walk AND talk the talk.  It can’t just be one or the other.

The phrases I want to continue to hear from Ainsley include:

“Look at those BEAUTIFUL pink trees!”

“Mommy, I love you!”

“I like your ______” (fill in the blank with necklace, earrings, shirt, shoes, dress, etc – this girl is good at dishing out the compliments!)

“This food is DE-LISH-OUS. Thank you for making it, Mommy!”

It’s not all bad – don’t get me wrong. But there is plenty of work for me to do while their little eyes are watching and their little ears are listening.  So I will continue to focus on praising the good and disciplining the bad choices with a HAPPY heart.

sleepingtoddler

One of our mentors said they always told their children they wanted them to be obedient – not compliant.  They used the phrase to listen and obey “right away, ALL the way, and with a happy heart”.  I’ve been using it with Ainsley for a few weeks now and I’m surprised she hasn’t snapped back at me that I need to have a happy heart too.  It’s time, though, and I am ready to start applying this truth to my life as well!

If you don’t intentionally pour into your children and set an example, someone else will, and it may not be an example you wish for them to follow.

What do you find yourself doing to tame your tongue in front of your children?

Consider it JOY

This verse from James keeps rearing it’s ugly head lately…

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials…”

I’m sorry. You want me to be joyful when I’m in the midst of a trial? This is how it has played out in my head today:

Threenager is being so disobedient, she’s been sent to her room three times already. Before 7am.

JOY.

Mama just wants to potty by herself, but can’t keep those pesky toddlers away.

JOY.

toddlers

Someone wants to pour that precious and expensive organic whole milk all by herself “because I’m a big girl!”, and it spills all over the floor.

JOY.

Butt wiping. JOY. Using the Nose Frida to suck boogers out of your toddler’s nose. JOY. Cleaning the floors for the umpteenth time. JOY.

When she falls and gets hurt after during the same thing you told her NOT to do eighteen times already.

toddler troubles

She says she wants blueberry pancakes. Then chocolate. No blueberry. No chocolate. No…

Locking the bathroom door because one girl likes to use the potty as a water table. Unlocking because one has to go potty. Locking again because of water table experiment. Unlocking for potty.

Four loads of laundry down and a new one is almost ready to go.

JOY. JOY. JOY. JOY.

You know that song “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. WHERE? Down in my heart to stay. And I’m so happy, so very happy…”

Yeah. Not buying it.

My name Hilary means cheerful. But there are many days that I have laughed at what a joke that is.

Cheerfulness doesn’t come easy to me.

Joy in the day to day life isn’t second nature.

I digress.

I’m learning a lot about choosing joy.

We all have choices each day. I can see each of those events as frustrations. They are trials preventing me from what I really want to do. They are setbacks. They are moments that anger me.

Or I could look at them from another direction: We have food. We have toys. We have running water. We have a beautiful home. Our girls are happy. Our girls are learning. They are growing. They laugh and smile and jump and play.

They find joy in the smallest things.

toddler workouts
So back to that verse: “consider it pure joy when you experience trials”.Trials are a part of life. They aren’t always a punishment for making bad choices.

They are given to us to build our character. To see how we react. To encourage us to rely on God. To draw closer to Him. To use His strength to get through them. To pray in the difficult moments. To pray in the happy moments. To be grateful for His faithfulness.

Now I’m not singing “Hallelujah” every time one of my girls tests me or I stand face to face in a trial. But I’m learning to count it ALL joy. And today, I’ve needed a lot more hands than I have to keep count of all the joy in my life.

toddler snuggles

On The Days When You Just Can’t “Parent” Anymore…

We parents have all had those days when we just don’t want to “parent” anymore.

We may not want to admit it, but even my parents confessed when I approached them about this subject that they, too, had moments where they were just frustrated with parenting during the day.

So let’s preface all of this by saying you are NOT alone!

You aren’t the only parent whose child melts down when you give them the fuschia marker instead of the hot pink one.

There are other parents whose kids will throw a fit because their milk is not in their favorite sippy cup, as well.

You are not the first person to have your children wake up 1,237,463 times a night. Or to wake up for the day before 5AM. Or to not nap. Or to just flat out struggle with sleep.

I have had many moments when I come to Brad struggling after a long day and wondering how I can do the same thing the next day. He often brings me back down to reality and reminds me that many people have done this parenting thing before.

Now that we’ve established there is strength in numbers when it comes to parenting, what do you do on those days when you just CAN’T “parent” anymore?!

I’d love to give you some hypothetical answers, but I’ll start with what I did today.

Today was rough. I set a 4:47AM alarm to get up, workout, read my devotions, shower, and have 2 hours without the girls.  They both ruined those plans and it got my day off to a bad start! Throughout the day, I resorted to the following to help me get through:

  • Snacks. Lots and lots of snacks.  I dumped approximately 76 veggie straws onto their picnic table to share. (38 is a serving size, so one serving per each – reasonable, right?)
  • Technology. We have several learning toys that make noise and as annoying as they can get sometimes, they are WORTH IT! Mini kid cell phones, fake TV remotes, pretty pink shiny toddler laptops – you name it and it will keep them entertained for a little bit.
  • Adult technology. Yup, Netflix and Amazon Prime. I usually reserve this as a special treat around dinner time if I need a few minutes without a toddler crawling on me so I can prepare food but today it was used for HOURS straight.  I’m not super proud, but I kept my sanity.
  • A few minutes away. I don’t always have this luxury, but today Brad was working from home and gave me a little break so I could breathe.
  • Prayer. It makes me sad that this was so far down on the list but in the moment, I didn’t even think about it. My morning was messed up from the start and I didn’t have a solid foundation and time in the Word.  Can I tell you how quickly God can calm me down and bring me back to reality? He helps comfort me and remind me that I set the tone for the little minions – NOT the other way around.
  • No technology. Wait, what?! I know I just mentioned how technology had saved me. But it also helped to just sit down for 30 minutes on the couch as I read a book to Ainsley on one knee while simultaneously flipping through another with Emerson on my other knee.  Putting away the technology and distractions and just reading is something we make sure to do multiple times a day and it helps calm everyone down.
  • Date night. Thanks to said girls waking up at an awfully early hour, they were in bed soon after 6PM.  We got fancy and whipped up some filet mignon for dinner and had a fancy dinner – candles, music, wine and all – after they went to sleep.  We were able to talk about the crazy and game plan for the rest of the week so the days don’t take such a negative tone as they did today.

It’s not always easy.

It’s never perfect.

It’s humbling.

It’s crazy.

It’s imperfect.

Yet it’s beautiful.

It’s rewarding.

It’s a love deeper than I knew I could have.

Parenting sure it a wild ride – but you are NOT alone!

What do you do to bring yourself back to reality on the days when you just don’t want to parent anymore?

 

Things I Never Knew Until I Had A Three Year Old

During the first year or two in my tenure as a stay at home mama, I felt as though I was done learning anything of SIGNIFICANT value, as my life was being ruled by mini dictators who said “Eh! Eh! Eh!” and pointed to tell me what they needed.

These little boss babies OWNED me and my day to day tasks revolved around whatever they needed at that moment (and waiting longer than that moment would always result in screams and tears).

Then those babies started growing up and I have a three year old and a one year old.

toddler girls

And now I’ve realized that I can learn many valuable things as a stay at home mama, such as:

  • The number of fire hydrants that are on our two-mile loop we take in the neighborhood each day (spoiler alert – 17)
  • Stickers have the same adhesive as bandaids and can cure anything
  • Sass and disobedience are NATURAL behaviors – they don’t even have to learn them
  • Toddlers don’t stop talking. Ever. “Do you want milk? It’s SOOO good. It’s delicious. Who wants milk? Mommy? Emerson? Ainsley? I do! Okay I’m gonna go get it bye byeeeeee.”
  • Advent calendars are just a game – see how quickly you can open the 24 squares.  There is no need just do one a day! Be a WINNER and get them all within 10 minutes!

threenager

  • That you are incapable of walking at ALL if you have any type of injury on the upper half of your body (including a bump on your head, a shot on your arm, or a belly ache)
  • There is no filter.  There is a library being built by our house and we passed by and she said, “Oh no mommy! Some men are working on my library, but that man is not! He’s just sitting down and looking at his phone!” #nevermissabeat
  • Sensitivity.  Did something rip? Waterworks.  Blue fork instead of green fork? Tears streaming down their face.  PB&J cut in triangles and not squares? #worldwar3
  • Every move you make is watched – and even on the hardest, most difficult days, when they say something like “When I grow up, I want to be a mommy. And can I have a baby in my belly when I’m a mommy?” – it just melts your heart to see the innocence they have and the love they share for you and all you do for them.

 

threenager

I know I’m not the only one with a sweet, wild, sassy, button-pushing #threenager.  So go ahead, share with me what you have learned now that you have a three year old!

And if you have younger ones, just remember – what goes around comes around – and soon enough, you’ll have another threenager in training! And yes, that’s an old wet diaper in her hand that she decided to open back up. (Thanks to my sweet friend and client Darla for these precious shirts with your Louisiana flair!!!)

threenager in training

Mirror, mirror on the wall

Women look in the mirror 8 times a day, according to a study by UK-based company Simple Skincare.

About 75 percent of the women who participated told Simple Skincare that they “hate” looking in the mirror, while 39 percent reported that it negatively impacted their self-confidence.

Can you relate?

How many times a day do you look in the mirror and see something different in the reflection?

As women, we nitpick EVERY SINGLE detail of our reflection, and it appears that we are NEVER good enough. What if you could change that? What if this year, you could focus on leading a healthy lifestyle from the INSIDE out?

Confidence doesn’t have to mean cockiness.  Confidence can mean knowing God created you ON purpose FOR a purpose. Confidence can be picking out clothes in the morning and being content in how they fit. Confidence to you could be feeling comfortable enough to leave the house in the morning without make-up.

If you aren’t feeling confident, please reach out to me. I’d love to help you achieve the confidence you deserve this year. Reach out to me to make a change this year.

If you’re looking for more truth, check out this song from King and Country:

 

Mirror mirror, mirror on the wall
Tellin’ those lies, pointing out your flaws
That isn’t who you are
That isn’t who you are

It might be hard to hear, but let me tell you dear
If you could see what I can see, I know you would believe
That isn’t who you are
There’s more to who you are

So when it’s late, you’re wide awake
To much to take
Don’t you dare forget that in the pain
You can be brave, can be safe

I see you dressed in white
Every wrong made right
I see a rose in bloom
At the sight of you (oh so priceless)
Irreplaceable, unmistakable, incomparable
Darling, it’s beautiful
I see it all in you (oh so priceless)

No matter what you’ve heard, this is what your worth
More than all the money or the diamonds and pearls
Oh this is who you are
Yea this is who you are

In 2017, I commit to…

It seems fitting on the first day of the year to officially share that I have started writing a blog. Throughout 2016, I have been encouraged to do it and decided what better time to start than the day when everyone starts making resolutions for the new year?!

I have to admit – I have a problem with resolutions, though. I usually make SEVERAL of them and then by the end of January, I’ve forgotten what half of them were, and I’ve failed to keep up entirely with the other half.

Sound familiar?

So this year I’m trying something new.

No longer will I make a crazy long list of New Year’s Resolutions.

In 2017, I commit to…

  1. Refocusing my priorities
  2. Being present

1-refocus-priorities2-be-present

While I only listed 2 commitments, I know those both are BIG undertakings, and they each include several subheadings.

I was reading Me and You, Forever by Francis Chan, and he mentioned a difference between how Christians view their relationships with God and how we actually live them. We SAY that God is the most important thing in our lives followed by family, and then friends, then work, etc, but that isn’t how it should be.

And sadly, He hasn’t even been my top priority, anyway.

I have been spending too much time worrying about ME, my family, Brad, my business, and so many other things, that I’ve become blind to my number one priority.

21bb469bd758a78d363986998129d056

Ouch! Talk about a reality check.

So for my first commitment, I’m committing to actually putting God first – not just saying it.  It doesn’t mean everything else will fall into place perfectly, I’m not naive, but I imagine the peace I will experience this year knowing HE is in control will be worth it.

Then there is that second commitment of being present. With social media and smart phones, we are so attached to our screens and I know I am guilty of it. The girls used to both take naps and I would spend that time working on my business but now I don’t get a second of free time during the day. That means I keep sneaking glances during the day to not fall behind and glances turn into way more time than I care to admit.

How will I be more present?

I’m planning to turn off all notifications on my phone and allow myself just two times during the day to check things. It won’t be the end of the world if I can’t get back to someone or double tap on someone’s Instagram post the second they post it. My girls deserve more of me!

I’m also asking Brad (and you!) to help keep me accountable to this. It’s a really bad habit I’ve gotten into and I need all the help I can get.

I’ll be starting a 3 Week Digital Detox program from She Works His Way that I know will be helpful as well, as the organization is grounded in Biblical truth and it will help me recognize how to fulfill the purpose God has for me without being a phone addict.

I know it seems ironic – starting a blog when I’m trying to be MORE present. Thankfully, the lack of naps means early bedtimes so I will get time with Brad AND office hours at night. Win win, if you ask me!

There you have it – those are my two commitments for this year.

I’d love to hear from you – do you make resolutions? If so, how will you be improving your life this year?

#MomGuilt

Tension has been high in our household lately with a raging threenager and a curious and adventurous 14 month old.

If I’m going to perfectly honest, I am not handling it well.

My voice has been raised too often, I’ve been quick to anger and fast to speak, and any sweet moments have quickly turned into grumpy ones.

I never had a strong desire to be a career woman and was grateful to become a stay at home mama when Ainsley was born.

But being a mama comes with SO much guilt.

If I get frustrated or annoyed when discipling, I feel guilty.

If I want just two minutes in the bathroom all by myself, I feel guilty.

If I have to give an extra option or two at a meal in order for my toddler to eat ANYTHING, I feel guilty.

If I pop on a YouTube dance video so I can have a few minutes to cook without kids climbing up my legs, I feel guilty.

I guarantee we could preach these stories back and forth to each other for weeks to come.

Nothing seems to hurt so deep as mom guilt.


15025461_1886009608286980_2891660246791315338_o


But when I dwell in the mom guilt without doing anything about it, I start to crumble.

I recognized this yesterday when I participated in a holiday vendor event.

I felt guilty leaving for several hours.

I felt guilty I wasn’t going to be home early enough to start dinner for our family.

I felt guilty taking time to do something that was important to me, while leaving the girls with my husband (like he was incapable or something – sorry).

I got home and realized something felt wrong.

When my youngest was throwing food off her highchair, I didn’t lose my temper.

When my oldest sassed at me in the way only a three year old can, I didn’t raise my voice to tell her to “stop that right now”.

When putting them to bed, it wasn’t the 30 minute scream fest we’ve had the past week when trying to get said #threenager to put jammies on.

What changed in just a few hours away?

My attitude. My perspective. My guilt.

It’s ok to want to be a mom and to want (and need) a little time away.

So get a pedicure, grab dinner with a friend (or 10), start a book club or find something you are passionate about.

Now I’m not naive enough to think the tantrums are done forever and that my nerves won’t be rocked by my sweet little ladies even two minutes from now, but I know that it’s not just OKAY to want a reset every once in a while and to take a little break.

In order for mama guilt to not get the best of me, I NEED that little time apart.

So what are you going to do for yourself this week to take a moment just for you, guilt-free? #momguilt

*This was originally written on November 14th, 2015.

When You Finally Hit Your Goal Weight

I HIT MY GOAL WEIGHT!

14691319_1869969229891018_2936644058454552486_o
Anyone that’s ever made a decision to lose excess pounds has probably had a goal weight in mind.

And if we work hard enough and achieve it, it’s such a PROUD sense of accomplishment.

And then we FINALLY get to go back to what we ate before, right?

Hah!

Wrong.

I actually reached my “goal weight” several months ago but I realized that the glamour of seeing a certain 3 digit number wears off quickly.

Does seeing a certain number bring automatic happiness? Or give a perfect feeling of fulfillment?

I’d reached a breaking point multiple times in the past that made me want to lose weight. Three times in particular (that I remember).

So if I hit a goal weight twice, how did I get to that place of desperation and disappointment again?

I didn’t know how to maintain it. I thought once I hit my goal via my temporary diets and intense cardio sessions at the gym, I could let my new healthy habits slowly slip away as I returned to my old life.

Spoiler alert – THAT WON’T WORK!

So this time, I’ve maintained the same weight for about six months.

How, you might ask?

I’m replacing several grains a day with greens, yet still eating bread. I’m eliminating desserts after every single meal (yup, I would eat chocolate chips after breakfast), but indulging a few times a week with small treats.

I’m getting up at 5AM to spend a little time on ME and breaking a sweat while much of the world is still sleeping.

Special pills, restrictive diets and excessive cardio WON’T last and you may soon be back to your unhealthy habits again.  If you’re looking for something that WILL last, I’d love to chat with you about your goals and help you find a plan you can stick too.  Please fill out this form and I will be in touch: Boot Camp Application

*This was originally written on October 17th, 2015.

Pumpkin Pie Larabar Bites

We made some pumpkin pie Larabar bites when little sister was napping and they were so easy and tasty! Let me know if you try them!

Ingredients:
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup of pitted dates
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or more if you LOVE pumpkin)
Pinch of Himalayan pink salt

1. Pulse all ingredients in food processor until a sticky dough forms.
2. Roll into balls or press into a lined pan to make bars instead.
3. Refrigerate or freeze for an hour and then enjoy!

14691927_1869839349904006_2327584279663348041_o