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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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  • 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.

 

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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

Just Like a Circus

All the eyes on me in the center of the ring just like a circus!

Any other mamas feel like the ringleader that DOESN’T call the shots? I sure do.

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I was cleaning up E from lunch and told A to go potty before nap. She covered her hands in soap but couldn’t reach the water so she ran around the bathroom, touching everything with her soapy hands first.

I set E down to turn on the water for A, and turned around to find E opening the potty lid to make her own splash pad.

She then tried ripping her bow off and it snapped in her face while I was taking this picture.

Life can be kind of crazy when you live in the zoo with wild animals.

You never know how loudly the tiger will roar when her baby cub sister is trying to sleep.

The kangaroos may think the zookeeper’s belly is the best place to jump.

Your baby giraffe may think 30 minutes of sleep via 5 minute nap increments is enough each day, whereas you’d prefer them to sleep like a koala 22 hours a day.

And one day those birds will leave their nest to go off on their own and mama bird will want a few more minutes of the crazy. We may not call ALL the shots these days but I’m planning to soak up the crazy because that’s what I’m living in right now!🙈🐲🐯

*This was originally written on September 30th, 2015.

On Slowing Down…

I am often guilty of trying to rush the bedtime and nap time routine. I love my girls, but I can’t wait for them to get some rest so I can work through my to-do list, go potty alone or drink a milkshake without having to share (Greedy? Yes. I’m only human).

But these moments are so sweet lately, and I’m trying not to be in such a hurry. I had to grab my phone and capture it today. We have what seems like a 48-step process for our type A big sister to get to bed and one of the final things after a few other books is a Bible story.

She pulls out a blanket and we all gather around to hear her recite a story and sometimes she will let us read a new one. It’s one of the rare moments of quiet as we just flip pages and listen to the word. Calm and stillness don’t happen often, but it’s like our girls have already figured out the attitude we should have when we spend time in the Lord’s presence.

So maybe, just maybe, naptime and bedtime can be pushed back a little so I don’t rush though these moments. Or maybe we can secretly start earlier and still get them to bed “on time”. 😉😆

 

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*This was originally written on September 20th, 2015.  Before we lost naptimes.  RIP.

Dear Mama With Baby Number Two On The Way

Dear Mama With Baby Number Two On The Way,

I see you waddling your way across the playground, trying to stop your wild toddler from pushing your buttons as they try to play Frogger in the street.

I watch you exert all you have in you to push your big kid in the stroller as you carry a watermelon in your belly and try to walk it out, as another day of backaches, Braxton Hicks and abdominal pain just backs you want to cry (let’s be real – you definitely are crying).

I feel the worry in your face as you try to fathom how you could possibly handle two kids any day now.

I know all this because I was in your shoes a year ago (expect maybe they were our husband’s shoes or flip flops three sizes larger than our normal size because nothing screams a need for comfort like your oversized feet when you are nine months pregnant).

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Those first few days, weeks and months are so, so tough. The feeding demands of a newborn, the jealousy and attention needs of a toddler, and balancing it all while trying to take care of yourself, too.

You WILL need to change your expectations this time around.

You won’t be able to record every second on baby #2’s life.

You may find moments when you just want them to go to sleep instead of savoring their snuggles because you are just so tired.

You won’t be able to keep that newborn on a sleep schedule because the toddler NEEDS to get out every morning or else you risk losing their naptime and in turn, suffering a terrible two or threenager afternoon of terror.

But soon, you will find there is more than enough room for your heart to expand. You will love your second born just as much as your firstborn.

Slowly but surely, your babes will start to interact with each other and you will cry – again. Tears of joy when you see your baby looking with admiration and love at their big sibling. Tears of laughter when your toddler does everything in their power to have their baby rolling with belly laughs. Tears of love, thanking God for the little blessings that have forever changed your life.

It won’t be easy and there may be days when you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you decided to welcome another sweet bundle into this world.

During this time, lean on your tribe! If someone offers to hold your newborn and play puzzles with your toddler while you do laundry, take a shower or eat something with two hands, take them up on it. Put your pride aside and do what it takes to survive.

In less than two weeks, my baby will be a one year old and we will officially have two toddlers. Watching our girls interact every single day has helped flush out 95% of the memories of struggle those first few months.

So kick those swollen feet up as you soak up these last moments as a family of three, prepare for a new roller coaster, lower your expectations and get ready to love even harder than you have before. Your glass of wine, sushi and Jimmy John’s deli sandwich are all waiting for you once your new love enters this world, and they will taste better than ever.

Sincerely,

A Mama In Denial That She Will Officially Have Two Toddlers At The End Of The Month

*This was originally written on August 9th, 2015.

To My Second Born on The Eve Of Your First Birthday

To My Second Born on The Eve Of Your First Birthday,

It’s hard to believe that this day last year, Daddy and I got in bed for the night, only to not sleep a wink as I then had my first contraction and within twelve hours, you were in our arms. The newborn days of no sleep and running on empty seem like they were years ago and you are now a true toddler running around all day long.

I am sorry I haven’t been able to give you my undivided attention like I could for your big sister. We won’t ever quite know what that’s like but I know we will enjoy our moments with just the two of us when she starts preschool next week.

I am so grateful you have been so go-with-the-flow since day one. Thank you for enduring cat naps in the car instead of a precious scheduled morning nap like your sister used to get. Your flexibility to adapt will be a wonderful quality to keep as you grow older.

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I am sorry for getting frustrated when you just want your mama and I just want a break. You are my first mama’s girl and while it is hard to feel needed all the time, seeing tears instantly stop or feeling your head snuggle on my shoulder when I come around is worth it all. I hope you always have a desire to be close to me and never stop wanting to have me be an integral part of your life.

Thank you for having patience with me while I learned to navigate life as a mama of two. It was not a seamless transition and I am such a flawed woman but you see past that and love me no matter what, just as God does, too.

I appreciate your willingness to wear hand-me-downs 75% of the time and matching dresses with your sister the other quarter of your days.

I never imagined we would have a blonde haired, blue eyed babe, but we are so grateful you are ours.

We pray you grow to know Christ at a young age and that you share His love with all those you encounter. Keep on smiling and shining! We look forward to watching you grow into your own personality in the years to come.

Love,
Your Proud Mama

*This was originally written on August 24th, 2015.

Don’t Listen to What “THEY” Say

Since Emerson turned one two weeks ago, my Timehop has been flooded with pictures of her first days. There have been so many emotions but one of them I have to admit to having is a feeling of regret.

Regret during the first few weeks of your child’s life? Before you think I’m awful, hear me out.

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I love seeing those pictures of my sweet second born and it melts my heart to watch how her adoring big sister loved on her those first days (and continues to do so). But I clicked back to look through the first two months of her life and one thing was apparent – I wanted nothing to do with ME being a part of the pictures.

Here we had this beautiful new blessing and I didn’t want to be photographed with her. This picture is one of FOUR I could find with both of us in it from her 2nd day of life to November 2nd.

Why November 2nd? It’s when I found something for me. I found a fitness program and nutrition plan that set ME towards my goals.

I had given so much to our girls as there were two under two, that I had neglected myself. I had forgotten about Hilary. About my desires. About my goals. About my needs. About me as a person.

It’s not an ego thing, though. It’s a confidence thing. I was embarrassed, ashamed, disgusted and disappointed. For goodness sakes, I had just had a baby!

Society tells us we don’t lose the weight fast enough after having a baby. They say we can get that “pre-baby body” back quickly by starving our already exhausted bodies and pushing them to the max in the gym for hours a day.

That pre-baby body? It’s not happening. It can’t happen! Things shifted and twisted and it just can’t be the same. But that won’t stop me from being MORE comfortable, confident and proud of myself in my new body. The one that birthed two beautiful baby girls.

Forget what society says. It may take a little time, but if you do it the RIGHT way, it won’t just be a fad and you will grow to love and appreciate your (post-baby) body now more than ever.

Grab your phone, hand it to someone else and get in FRONT of the screen instead of behind it for once. Two months, two years, or twenty years from now, you’ll be grateful you have those memories.

*This was originally written on September 8th, 2015.