Posts Tagged With: happiness

To Be Needed

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5am. I hear a little whimper outside the bedroom door. I groan and roll myself out of the comfort of the covers. I turn the knob.

Mommy?”

That little, froggy voice fills the quiet of the morning as he pulls his doggie by the neck with one pudgy hand and places the other in mine. I lead him to my bed and help him in, his head rests in the crook of my arm. Within a few moments his breath is steady and his eyes flicker in and out of dreams.

He sleeps away those wee hours of early morning, but now I’m wide awake. My mind races with thoughts of laundry and kindergarten registration, homework folders and what to send in lunch boxes. Groceries, overdue library books, bills, birthday gifts for friends, swimming lessons…I slide my arm out from under that little dozing noggin and slip out of bed.

Mo-om! I don’t have any pants to wear!”
“Check the laundry room,” I holler back. “And look under your bed for that library book. You have library today!”

“May I please have some milk? Mom, can you cut up my waffle?”

“He wants YOU to change him.” My husband holds a very stinky toddler out with two arms and gives me a sympathetic look. Secretly I know he’s relieved. From across the room I can smell that this one is going to require lots and lots of wipes and possibly a quick soak in the tub.

“Hey Mom, will you check my math?”

“Check this out, Mom. It’s a rocket. See these wings? That’s for…” My mind trails off to the spilled milk under the table. “…and see, Mom? See how this bends here, and this folds like this… MOM! Are you listening to me?”

“I don’t like that apple sauce, remember, Mom? Can you pack me the other kind for lunch?”

Mom! He’s singing that song again!”

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I am MOM. I’m mom in the morning when our little family is going a million different ways, I’m mom in the evening when dinner needs to be made and the baby needs held. I’m mom in those quiet hours of the night when someone has a bad dream. I’m mom for the dirty diapers, the skinned knees, the teeth brushing, the muddy floors, the finger-printed windows, the tug-of-wars over the cheap toy from the dentist’s office. I’m mom when it’s convenient, I’m mom when it’s not.

IMG_3791But someday I’ll still be mom. I’ll be mom when they are no longer making finger prints on my windows or filling my days with laundry and trips to the playground. I’ll be Mom when they call home on Sundays to say hello, and I’ll probably long to hear those early morning whimpers again. When they visit, I’ll wish I could turn back the clock and hear them tell me about their Lego rockets and missing library books. I’ll stand on the porch and wave goodbye as they drive away, and I’ll remember those days when I’d wave to the yellow bus and see that little boy face in the window, sitting in a seat that nearly swallows up that little body.

Right now they need me. What a beautiful thing to be needed, to be the one they cry to when things aren’t going quite right. To be the finger that pudgy little hand grasps. The one they trust with their stories, their waffle that needs cut, their scrapes and bruises.

To all the moms out there, the ones who are in the throws of being constantly needed and the ones who have memories of those days long ago, Happy Mother’s Day. What an amazing responsibility we have to fill the needs of these little ones then watch them grow. Ours is a role unlike any other. They need us. The world needs us, and that is an incredible, beautiful thing.

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Some mothers I’m so very thankful for.

...and another mom I'm so very thankful for.

…and another one!

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Beauty in EVERY Moment

My husband’s Grandma Jane made the BEST cinnamon rolls in the world. years ago on one particular visit I decided I was determined to learn her sticky bun magic. Pen and paper out, I jotted down everything, from the type of spoon she used to the number of times she stirred the dough. How she sprinkled on the sugar and cinnamon and the color of the pan she cooked them in. With my careful calculations and particular care I took in writing everything down I just knew I would be pulling out the most golden, soft, moist cinnamon rolls when we got home.

The batches that followed never quite measured up. Rock hard. Too crunchy, too doughy, not sweet enough. Even when following the directions I so carefully jotted down that day I have yet to master her perfect rolls.

Every spring I make a Little Shutterfly book for the previous year. Last July Grandma Jane passed away quickly and unexpectedly. While I looked through pictures to create our annual book and tried to decide what to say for the summer months, I thought about all that I wished I had learned from her before she left. If I could have watched her make those cinnamon rolls one more time I just might have discovered her magic. Just maybe.

IMG_0414But as amazing as her cinnamon rolls were, they dimmed in comparison to the other life lessons I wish I could have learned. In her funeral program is something she wrote.

“Every moment is beautiful and captures the attention.”

Right after our third son was born I remember feeling exhausted, exasperated, and at the end of my rope. Our then four-year-old and two-year-old had demanded one too many things and made far too many messes. I took the baby and locked myself in the bedroom. I could hear the two little criminal master minds contemplating how to break in as I sat with the baby in the rocking chair and cried. Whoever came up with the saying not to cry over spilled milk must have understood mother-dom well. That cup of spilled milk has reduced me to tears far more often than I would like to admit.

THAT moment was not my prettiest, nor what I would have called beautiful.

For months we fought a whitey tighty war against our middle son. Every time he woke up, every time he used the bathroom, every time he escaped my view I had to ask him, “M, are you wearing underwear?” and that was always, always followed by, “Please go get your underwear on.” Sometimes my response was anything but beautiful. Sometimes I was so tired of the constant questioning that it was downright mean. One day M came running down the stairs. “DAD! DAD! Guess what?? I remembered underwear! Wanna see?” With that he pulled down his pants, revealing a naked little bottom. His shocked face was priceless as he yanked up his pants and scampered back up the stairs.

As a mom I can’t say that I find every moment beautiful. Sure, it often captures the attention, but all-too-often in a “You spilled your milk AGAIN?!” sort of way. The scraped knees, the toddler tantrums, the cleaning up after every single messy meal. The legos that I always manage to step on and the beds that never get made. Frankly, motherhood often leaves me a grumpy old witch.

But Grandma Jane didn’t just write that every moment was beautiful. They were so much more than words. I have no doubt that she felt it. She really and truly believed it. Every moment DID seem beautiful to her and did capture her attention. She had an incredible way of finding the best in even the most rotten person or crummy situation. Grandma Jane left behind a legacy of finding beauty.

HPIM0657Some moments might not seem beautiful as a mom. Some moments are downright dirty. But I am sure that with effort we can, like Grandma Jane, find beauty in even the ugliest moment.

Maybe it will take a healthy dose of humor.
I’m sure we will have to seek for a good measure of forgiveness.
We occasionally will have to throw common sense to the wind, forget we’re adults and jump in the mud with the kids.
Sometimes it might mean taking a step back and just being thankful that it wasn’t worse than it was. We might have to be grateful for those that help us through those particularly hard days.

Beauty is there for the finding. We often just might have to look extra hard. And eventually I hope it will get easier and easier for the beauty to capture the attention instead of the mess.

Someday I will master her cinnamon roll recipe. It might take years to achieve the ooy-gooy Grandma Jane-y goodness, but someday I’m determined to serve up a plate of the best rolls you have ever tasted. And today, today I’m going to try to look on life with such Grandma Jane optimism, such happiness, such joy. And I will try to find beauty in every moment.

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Categories: Happiness, Life Lessons | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Having Children Ruined My Life

It’s no secret that R, our first son, came as a surprise. Sure, my husband and I rarely (if ever) admit to it, but all you would have to do is simple subtraction to figure out we had only been married a year and a few months when we brought that little guy into the world. I suppose some people plan it that way, but we had just barely graduated from college. We were young. And I was terrified.

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Let me tell you about how my life was going to go. I had it so carefully calculated. We would graduate, move, find awesome jobs, and I would teach for five years before we started our family. We would travel the world. Oh, the places we would go! We would have lots and lots of money saved up, my husband would be successful, I’d be happy with my accomplishments. I could then stay at home for the next 10 years until our kids started their education. I would do it all. At least that’s what I had planned.

Before we became parents, we would sit in church and watch the little girl twirl her pink, frilly dress up and down the isle. She’d squeal and scream, making the prayer impossible to hear, and her parents would stare at her with glossy, exhausted eyes. We would walk home and talk about how we would NEVER let our daughter do that when we became parents. Yes, our children were sweet darlings that never disrupted or disturbed anything while they were still only figments of our imagination.

Then we brought that baby boy into this world and my little, perfect life was turned upside-down. I never taught. I graduated and tucked that diploma away in a box and in the back of my mind. Ah, well. Maybe someday, I’d sigh. Nights were nothing short of a nightmare (and I thought I didn’t sleep much in college!), and we lived in a small, plain apartment with obnoxious neighbors because we had no money. At the park the nannies would scoff at me, a young, clueless mother who obviously had done nothing with her life before having a family. While they talked about their future, about their planned trip to Cancun with their fiancée next month, my extent of packing never went far beyond diapers, a big, fat tube of Desitin and fishy crackers.

Having children ruined my life.

I had big dreams, plans, aspirations, and ideas that were dashed to pieces when that little boy entered our home. But as we prepared for him to come, loved him, held him, and imagined all the wonder and beauty in the world we had the opportunity to help him experience, something truly magical happened. A new life was set before me. A brand new one that I never could have imagined for myself. My once-flat tummy was now adorned with stretch marks. Marks that represented a tiny human I had the marvelous ability to grow inside me. I didn’t get to travel the world, but I got to witness a miracle. I got to see the wonder of everything through the eyes of a brand-new baby. I got to experience a kind of selfless love that I truly believe only a parent can feel. I slowly realized this life, it isn’t all about me. I found I didn’t have all, if any, of the answers. I didn’t care if the other moms “oohed and awed” at my resume and life’s accomplishments, or even scoffed because that resume and those accomplishments didn’t exist. It no longer mattered.

Having a baby was humbling. So incredibly humbling.

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Instead of walking home from church talking about how WE would never let our child dance and scream down the isles, we found ourselves locking empathetic eyes with the parents wishing we could help, but secretly deep down saying to ourselves, “twirl on little princess! You’re drawing attention away from our toddler howling for us to draw a ‘hooker’ (and by hooker we are hoping surrounding congregation realizes he means a truck hitch) with his ruby red crayon. Not to mention our youngest with the colored pencils up his nose.” Our real children, unlike our imagined ones, weren’t perfect. We were certainly not perfect, and I’m so thankful we had the chance to find that out.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if we had waited. If life had gone exactly as I had imagined. I wonder if my life hadn’t been ruined by little ones if I would have been as incredibly happy as I am now.

Maybe.

But what I do know is that what happened was truly a blessing. That having children when I did taught me life lessons I may have never learned otherwise. Should everyone have surprise babies 15 short months after marriage? Is having a career and traveling the world before settling down a bad idea? Of course not! But if God sends you down a different path than you had always dreamed, know that your life may be ruined, shattered to pieces, only to be replaced with something far greater than you could have imagined yourself.

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

My Happy Place

I’m typing this one-fingered on my iPad (something that drives my husband crazy!) from the rocking chair. My left leg bounces up and down and my fingers run through a two-year-old’s blonde hair. His blue eyes hidden under heavy eyelids and long lashes. A rare moment I seldom get to enjoy, but today…today I will. The dishes wait, the toys strung from one room to the next sit. This. Nothing in the world could compare to this.

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about “my happy place,” thanks to my dear friend Marla who writes a beautiful blog, Pendulum World. After being challenged by another blogger and writing about hers, she challenged me along with a few others to write about mine. Let me first tell you about Marla. I’ve never met her in person, but she has a way of making you feel like an old friend. She writes words of encouragement and often reminds me of what this life is really all about. I’m so thankful for her friendship and how she has touched my life.

Last year for the 100th day of school our son was asked to bring in 100 of something. For days I proposed ideas as we sat around the dinner table and watched as my husband’s face twisted in mocking smirks.

“How about we make a treasure box and paint it, then fill it with 100 gold coins? You could wear a pirate costume when it’s your turn to present. Eh?” Brilliant.

Now, here’s just a simple example of how my dear husband and I are complete polar opposites (for what it’s worth, we are living proof that opposites really can attract!).

My husband smirks. “R, Mom is crazy. Here’s a $1 bill. Take it in and say it’s 100 cents. Easy. Done.”

“So typical!” I’d think. “Sure, take the easy, straight-forward route. So engineery.”

Our proposals went back-and-forth for days. Finally a decision was made. R put together a cute little photo album with a title on the front, “100 People, Places, and Things I Love.” Each photo protector held a picture of someone or something near and dear to him with a label of what it was. I was a proud mama, and even my “this project is way too frilly and time consuming” husband thought it turned out pretty darn cute.

I won’t put 100, but I thought I’d share my happy place(s) with you through pictures. Like Marla said in her post, being with people I love is where I find joy. They are what makes life full and happy, and I’m so thankful for those who have shared their lives with me. So, without further ado, here are my “people, places and things I love,” or “my happy place.”

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Being with my family

...and more family

…and more family (thanks, katiejanephotos.blogspot.com 🙂 )

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Sailing on our boat

Hiking

Hiking

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Places that bring back special memories

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, one of the most beautiful places on earth

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Here, because of all the peace, joy, and completeness it represents in my life

Running (and being) with friends

Running (and being) with friends

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Being with my kids

I’m so glad Marla challenged me to think about what brings me happiness. With the start of a new year, I hope we can all look back and remember those people, those moments, those places that we find joy. And this year I hope we can all share our joy with others.

As these traveling posts go, I have thought about some bloggers to pass the “happy place” challenge to. Of course, I don’t want to make anyone feel obligated to do it, but if you would like, I’d love to read yours.

Shape Up Cupcake— Kristen and I go way back to volleyball freshman year of high school, guitar class, soccer, and sleep overs. She is amazing! I feel honored to call her my friend after all these years. She is such a inspiration to me and so many others.

A prompt reply— Torrie has quickly become a good friend. Being in different walks of life, I love to hear her view from where she stands, with adult and teenage boys. Her advice and words of wisdom is always something I appreciate.

Sensitive and Extraordinary— Leila is such a kind person. I have loved getting to know her through her blog and reading her thoughts on raising children. She has been a huge help to me as a beginner in the self-publishing adventure, always answering my questions and sharing her experience and knowledge.

Categories: Happiness | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Grinchy-Mom’s Week Before Christmas

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Twas the week before Christmas and Mom was a mess.

Instead of holiday happy greetings, all she felt was distress.

“Only five days till Christmas! It’s practically here.”

She grumbled and bristled, felling no sort of cheer.


Christmas cards strewn the table, cookie cutters filled the sink,

Wassail steamed from the kettle for carolers to drink.

The festivities had started, everything had the appearance of jolly.

But Mom, well, she was a grump, and seemed rather melancholy.


“Don’t pull on the ornaments!” “Ahh! Tinsel’s not to EAT!”

“Oh, for Heaven’s sake. Take the Christmas stockings off your feet.”

The old Grinchy-Ma had forgotten what it meant to have fun,

The moment the Christmasy season had begun.


The stockings needed filled, and that should have been easy,

But the thought of another Wal-Mart run made her queasy.

The cards needed stamps, the lights were a-tangle.

She got a headache hearing the bells jingle and jangle.


She’d slaved in the kitchen making cookies and pies,

Even sampling some, which she bitterly knew would be her waste line’s demise.

Glitter and ribbon, googly eyes and hot glue,

Would these silly festive crafts ever be through?


The Elf on the Shelf got left in the storage.

That creepy grin, those sketchy eyes, this year she just didn’t have the time nor the courage.

Each time she swiped the credit card she thought of the bill.

Were the cheap, plastic gifts worth it? But it didn’t matter—she had Christmas list orders to fill.


Christmas carols blared on the radio. The family had watched The Polar Express.

A Christmas Story, Rudolf, Frosty, But admittedly she sympathized with Scrooge the best.

Under the tree were presents she’d spent many nights wrapping.

They’d done it all, so what on Earth was she lacking?


“But I love Christmas!” she puzzled that night under the covers.

“Why can’t I be joyful, like all the other mothers?”

Mom was stressed to the limit, Christmas had plum worn her out.

She’d been so consumed with the going she’d forgot was the season was about.


She stewed and she puzzled till she could take it no more.

She slipped on her boots and walked out the door.

Down the empty streets she breathed in the frigged night air.

Except for the evergreens, every tree stood bare.


No crowds to fight, no bad deals to be dealt.

Her heart suddenly felt full…Could it be the Christmas spirit she felt?

She’d ate way too much pie, it wasn’t a question.

Still sceptical, she thought maybe what she felt was just indigestion.


As she rounded the corner she saw a neighbor shovelling snow.

Not for himself but for an elderly couple who didn’t even know.

Christmas is about giving! How could she not remember?

A heart-felt gesture, a kind smile, serving a little more all though December.


The stars in the sky seemed to twinkle more bright,

And suddenly she was reminded of an ancient Bethlehem night.

A silhouette through a window of a mother rocking her child,

Took her back to a night long ago with Mary so mild.


Ah, now she remembered. The first and best gift wasn’t purchased in a store.

A price could never be placed. It was worth so very much more.

Not the gifts of the Wisemen: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh,

But a baby. A gift so perfect and pure.


The Christmas cheer she had searched for she’d finally found.

The night taught about giving and kindness without breathing a sound.

“All along I was wrong. It wasn’t in the cooking or under the tree.”

“All along the cheer had to be found inside me!


So this Christmas as we find ourselves hustling and bustling around,

Don’t forget that it’s not in the busyness Christmas spirit is found.

It’s not in the packages, or in the crowded isles of Wal-mart.

But the simple things, like family, kindness, and doing our part.


Most of all remember the gift of a Son from above,

Given to the entire world out of pure and unconditional love.

Let’s choose to be happy, let’s choose the real Christmas spirit so bright.

And let’s share the sweet message:

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MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

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