I’m Drowning

It’s been a while since I wrote anything. I miss writing. But finding time to do so is a whole new ball game now days.

The truth is, most days I feel like I’m drowning. I had lots of people warn me how much work the third child would be. They told me laundry would multiply exponentially. They told me my hands would be full. I was warned. The trouble is, I was warned AFTER I was pregnant.

The warnings are true too. My work load feels as if I went from 2 children to 8! I love my baby girl, and I am so happy she is a better sleeper than her big siblings. But I feel so guilty too. I spend my time referee-ing fights between the older kids, trying to keep up with laundry, attempting to keep the house marginally clean, cooking, fixing juice……. The work never ends. When am I supposed to get to hold my baby?

My first born was held, cuddled, talked to, read to, bathed religiously… I was good at being a mom to one. My second child didn’t wear cloth diapers, and by doctor’s suggestion we cut baths down to just a few nights a week, but he still got cuddles and stories, and all those things. Child number 3? Oh my. She hears books some times. She wears cloth diapers when the budget is too tight not to. She gets held when she is hungry. She swings a lot!

Today I was washing a giant load of clothes, like I do every Friday. I got ready to throw some in the dryer and opened it to find a set of sheets still in there from Wednesday! By the time all the clothes were washed and on the clothes line (who can afford to dry that many clothes?!) all 3 kids had gotten dirty to the point of changing clothes!

I started “potty training” Gracie early — it took her 2 years to figure it out, but I started early. Skeet handed me a toy yesterday and said “hold dis while I go potty.” I remember how I sat with Gracie, held her hands, read her books, gave her jelly beans for going in the potty! And Skeet just took himself the first time he went… of course, that made a mess for me to clean up, so there’s that.

I’m missing things. I can’t keep up with all they do. I can’t sit and watch them learn to color in the lines. Or listen to them “read” books from memory. I barely get them all fed at reasonable times each day; let alone making sure everyone brushes their teeth! I actually had to put teeth brushing on our chore chart, just so I remember to have them do it!

I don’t know how to fit in time with them and still keep my own sanity. Most of the time I’m so overwhelmed and frustrated I snap at the poor kids for everything. I try to teach them how to behave, but it’s hard to do when I have to start by saying “I know you’ve seen mommy do that when she was mad, but…” How is that supposed to work for young minds?!

I’m trying. I’m being more intentional now about some time with the kids (but think I might need to go back to a flip phone to help me focus better when I sit to play.) Yesterday I sat in the hall resetting bowling pins for a while. The day before we colored together. This morning I read a couple of books. I’m working on learning to swim with three kids; but most days, the truth is I barely keep my head above water. I just hope they remember how I tried.

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New Things

My husband recently asked me to stop buying sweets, to help him loose a little weight. I just went to the grocery store, so there were sweets in the house already. I decided to put them away rather than eat them before I begin “not buying sweets.” Pop-tarts have been a breakfast staple around here for a while and they were the first to be stashed. Today I got busy making a slightly healthier alternative breakfast. Here’s what I did:

First, I put a small dot of butter in the bottom of each of cup in 2 12 count muffin tins. And placed the tins in a 350° oven, to melt the butter.

Use your imagination to insert picture here…

I have 3 kids. Taking pictures of every step did not happen.

Next, I scrambled some eggs. I really don’t know how many, because several were double yolked. I’m guessing it equaled about 9 or 10 eggs. I just scrambled the same way I normally do with a splash of milk, and seasoned with salt and pepper. By the time they were scrambled the butter was melted; this served to grease the muffin cups to keep the eggs from sticking. I then poured just a little (maybe 2-3 Tablespoons) of the scrambled eggs into each muffin cup and returned the pans to the oven.

Use your imagination again, it’s good for your brain.

While the eggs cooked, I started making biscuits. I used our family’s favorite recipe, that usually makes about 14 biscuits. But I rolled it out thinner so I could get 24, 2 inch biscuits. Of course, this meant they were thinner, but that worked out well in the end.

Imagine my model awful hands rolling out beautiful dough.

By the time the biscuits were ready to be baked the eggs were done. And while the biscuits cooked I was able to spoon out 24 perfect, little round scrambled egg disks.

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Tada! The kids were eating lunch and I took a picture of the eggs!

Ok, so now I have 24 egg disks, and 24 biscuits baking, the next ingredient is bacon. I admit to cheating this time. The only bacon in the house was a box of pre-cooked. That saved a step, and I just had to tear each piece in half. Cooking fresh bacon, or sausage patties would be another option. Adding cheese would be another option, but I want to skip those calories this time.

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Even better — by this step the kids were laying down for naps! Whoohoo!

Now this is the fun (easy) part. Just open each biscuit, put a egg disk, and a piece of bacon in there, put the top back on and presto — Breakfast Sandwich!

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Yum! Can’t say it has way fewer calories than a pop-tart, but at least it isn’t straight sugar.

And there you go, just continue making these little cuties until they are all made and looking scrumptious, then wrap them individually in plastic wrap, freeze them to make the biscuits hard, toss em all in a zip-lock baggie in the freezer; then just grab and reheat for breakfast. I planned on 2 biscuits as a breakfast, so I have 12 “servings” here.

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Yum, yummy.

These are also a great money saver, for us. We have chickens so the eggs were free, and home made biscuits are super cheap to make. Here’s hoping hubby likes them!

Writer’s Block

I’ve missed blogging the last few weeks but I have had major writer’s block. Nothing really comes to mind…at least nothing that really formulates into anything. So I guess I’ll just give an update on life as a mother of 3.

My little Laney will be 2 months old very soon! Some days that doesn’t seem possible, other days it seems like it has been much longer. She is starting to sleep better now; a huge relief after a very rough first month. She is growing, despite her odd eating habits. (She simply cannot decide if she wants to nurse or take a bottle.) And big brother and sister adore her.

Gracie and Skeet ave adjusted well. Skeet loves to say “hi Laney” over and over…and over. And he gives her kisses. Laney is the only family member to get kisses from Skeet. He blatantly refuses to kiss the rest of us. Gracie likes to be in charge of the swing and is always the one to restart it if Laney stops.

I’d say the biggest challenge by far is getting out of the house with 3 children under 4 years old. Today was a perfect example of that. We recently finished building a back yard fence (YAY!!!) and, as promised, the kids got a new puppy. Charlie pup needed her first trip to the vet today. There was no way for Brandon to get home in time to take her, or to keep the kids while I went; so off we went.

I should mention that Charlie was picked up a stray, when some one found her and her sister in a storm drain. Because of her questionable back ground and possible abuse she has been more skittish than most puppies. That being said we have been diligent to get her back outside quickly before she can make a mess in the house, thus avoiding having to exert heavy authority over her. Sooooo… she isn’t potty trained.

Gracie held little Charlie in her lap all the way to the vet. Then at the clinic we all unloaded, looking like the crazy train had just rolled into town, took her inside, and I constantly prayed not to have THAT pup that pees all over the floor. We had to wait for a bit, and Charlie did good.

When we got called back and finally saw the vet, I’m sure she wondered if I heard a word she said over me correcting and talking to kids, rocking a car seat, holding a puppy… and nodding and smiling. The good news is we managed to leave the vet’s office un-sprinkled and nobody had any serious melt downs. We even made it home with no accidents in the suburban, another huge fear of mine! I mean the Bus gets dirty, and smelly enough without puppy piddle!

In addition to my littles, and a puppy (because all smart moms bring home a puppy with a new baby in the house.) We are stepping up our efforts to remodel our house. The truth is, we don’t see ourselves living in the Texas Panhandle forever. We would very much like to move back to east Texas at some point; but our house needs a ton of work. Some things MUST be done or no bank will approve a loan, if we could even find some one willing to buy the problems. Other things really need work if we want to sell quickly. Plus, we’d kinda like to enjoy our house while we live here, instead of ALWAYS having projects over our heads. So we are attempting to knock some things off that big ol’ to-do list.

We always have brush to clear and burn. And we have tackled the basement now too. The work down there is pretty straight forward, it just takes time and focus — two things that are very hard to come by in our crazy life. At any rate we are hoping to be able to actually use our basement before long, with out feeling like we are in a dungeon some where.

So, that’s pretty much life right now. And this blog is about as organized and focused as I get too, so don’t look for any great literary masterpieces in the near future!

Fake it Til Ya Make It

It’s my first week flying solo with a new baby. Three under four years can be a daunting task, especially since I hold myself to some standards. Yesterday went well, and so far today is going smoothly too. Some people would say I’m writing this to brag, and maybe I am a bit, but mostly I want others to know how I survive motherhood, so they can do the same things.

I learned a long time ago that it’s very easy to waste away days in a row if I don’t have some goals each day. In high school I started writing down 3 simple goals each night, that I wanted to complete the next day. It might have been “finish 2 chapters in XYZ book, take the dog for a run, and start studying for the history test.” Or it might have been something bigger. Regardless, I wrote down 3 goals each night, and the next night I would write down three things I had accomplished. Many nights the accomplishments were the same as the goals. Some nights I hadn’t completed the goals but I had done 3 other things. If you are struggling to get a grip on housework, paying bills, laundry, and all the other mom-tasks; this may be just the trick you need to get all those things done.

I don’t write down goals and accomplishments anymore (though some weeks it would help if I did.) Now, I work on a loose time schedule. I say loose, because with toddlers nothing is written in stone. My typical day looks something like this:

  • 6-7:30am get up with the kids, and eat breakfast. Cereal, moms. We have survived on a daily ration of cereal for a couple of years. It really hasn’t killed us.
  • 8-9am get everybody dressed. Make it a non-negotiable that you will put on real clothes everyday. I say skip the yoga pants or sweats and go with jeans or something instead. Look good, feel good. I’m not saying make up everyday (or even ever) but wear real clothes.
  • 9-10:30am start laundry on laundry days. Do laundry regularly. Waiting for it to pile up only makes the task worse. I wash shirts, pants, and white things (socks, towels, etc) every Monday, sheets get washed on Wednesday, and on Friday I do shirts and pants again.
  • 11-11:30am feed the kids and put them down for naps. Do what works best for you. Maybe leftovers are easy, or sandwiches. I fix lunch meat and cheese, yogurt and fruit, or something else equally simple. My kids just don’t eat much at lunch time so there is no point in creating stress.
  • 11:30-12pm ME TIME. This is another nonnegotiable. I’d love to say I read, do a Bible study and pray, or something else productive, but that would be a lie. I use this time to eat my lunch (alone, in peace) and play solitaire on the computer. Maybe that sounds awful to you, but it makes a good break for me. After a few games my brain has reset and then I can go read or something while the kids sleep… or I can nap too.
  • 1:30-3pm kids get up from nap. Some days we get a snack, or read a book together as the kids get moving again. Often we go outside to play if the weather is nice.
  • 4:30-5pm start supper to have it ready by 6pm. Notice all the free time in the afternoons? This is when I can do things like pay bills, play with the kids, or work on projects for myself.
  • 6pm supper.
  • 7pm start directing kids to clean up toys.
  • 7:30pm kids into PJs and read some books.
  • 8pm bedtime for the kids.
  • 10-10:30pm bedtime for me. Notice how the schedule gets tighter closer to bedtime. This keeps the kids on routine and makes tings go more smoothly at the end of the day, when we are all tired and cranky.

Your schedule may look NOTHING like mine, because all families are different, and especially if you have older children in school, or you work outside the home you will have other things to do. But figure out a routine so that you know what is expected when.

I’m no expert at parenting, or time management. But I have learned I can fake it until I make it. If I write down a schedule and stick to it religiously for a few weeks, then it becomes habit and I can get things done more easily. I can set some simple goals and aim to get things done. Sure enough, I get more done than if I had no plan. I encourage you to try the same. Plan your work, and your time; before it just gets away.

The Bag

Parent’s Magazine was kind enough to send me an email today, reminding me to pack my hospital bag. First of all, whaaat? No. That makes things seem really close. I know I only have 6 weeks until the due date, but a bag? No. No, no, no. It can’t be that close, already?!

Truth be told, before Gracie I was reading all kinds of things about what to pack and how to make a birth plan (ha! what a joke. Plan: have a baby.) I wondered if we should take a yoga ball. What about books? Food? I don’t know; I thought of some crazy things. But this time is a whole new story. Now that I’ve been there, done that, my packing is really simple…. Actually, I went with simple the first time too, because that’s just what I do.

So, here is how I pack a hospital bag. Are you ready? This is complicated stuff. Imagine you are a 5 year old boy and Grandpa has just walked in the house and said “hey, go pack a bag and I’ll take you camping. Hurry!” What is going in the bag? Some clothes (I recommend you make yours match better than the 5 year old boy, but whatever.) A tooth brush because mom just yelled to stick it in there. And a flash light.

Yep, that’s really how simple this can be. Except, skip the flashlight. Hospitals have too many lights anyway. The point is, you really don’t need much that isn’t provided for you. In fact, many hospitals publish a list of things they recommend you bring, and it isn’t a very long list.

Seriously, though, this is how I will pack:

  •  Clothes for me and hubby. Our hospital is an hour and a half away. And since that is true for many people who deliver there, they have a wonderful set up for dad to stay with mom as long as she is there. I take some comfy PJ pants and t-shirts to wear after delivery. And some real clothes to come home in, because I’m not being wheeled out to my car in pajamas. Not happening.
  • Light snacks for hubby. Mommy gets to do all the work, but heaven forbid she eat anything but ice chips and popsicles. Dad, on the other hand, will want some food. And since neither of us will want him gone very long, it’s best to have a few things in the bag. With Gracie, Brandon didn’t eat a thing. I even packed him a quick supper because he had already worked a 10 hour day by the time my water broke at 4pm. He never touched it. But he did have some crackers and all waiting for Skeet.
  • Something to do. This may be used, and it may not. I took Uno to play with Gracie. I think we played for 10 minutes. We’d been up since like 5:30am, got to the hospital about 6pm, checked in by 7…no baby until 4am. We were too tired to play cards. With Skeet, I didn’t take anything to do. But a day time baby is a whole different thing. I was induced at 7:15am……… all stinking day we did nothing but wait for a baby who didn’t come until after 7 pm. Boooring!
  • Other than that, you need cell chargers, camera and batteries (yea, mine died with Skeet), tooth brush and tooth paste, make-up, if you care.

That’s it. Really. Unless, your husband just likes to pretend he is a pack mule and wants to tote 5 bags, a yoga ball, a boppy pillow, and a tray of bakery cookies… Pack light. If you go into labor at home, you’ll be virtually useless for hauling all that crud into the hospital, anyway. And even if you do carry it in, there is no bell boy to carry it all back out.

Parenting with Grace

I’m going to start by saying parenting with grace is something I desire to do, not something I am already good at. This is something the Lord has been working on in me for the full 3.5+ years I have been a parent. And I’m still not very good at it, nor do I anticipate perfecting the art in just the few years I have as a mother with children living under my roof. I do not claim to be good at this concept but the Lord has been telling me to try to write about it, so here it goes.

I desire to parent with grace. I really want to be patient, long suffering, and understanding of where my children are coming from in regards to age and their own understanding of the world. And I want to extend forgiveness. But that is not my nature. No, my nature is to do what I just did — go into a room with 2 kids who are playing instead of sleeping. Fuss at the 3 year old for loosing something, give her a cheap substitute and leave.

I often find myself fussing at the kids (3.5 and 1.5 years). I say things like “if you had just obeyed we wouldn’t be dealing with XYZ, would we? You need to follow my instructions” or “because I said so.” Then I hear this voice saying “mm-hmm, seems like I’ve been saying that for a while, too. Just obey, and things will be easier. You don’t have to understand.” I find myself just wanting to hush that voice. “nobody asked You. You don’t understand, this is the third time today we have dealt with this. Why don’t You tell THEM that?!” All such hate filled thoughts. Then I hear that voice say “but I forgive you of much bigger things than a lost paci, or a spilled drink. All I ask is that you go and forgive others too.”

Y’all that voice…that nagging conscience of the Spirit can be such a frustration. I want to yell. I want to throw my own fit. And I often do. I’ve been back in that room with those 2 non-sleeping kids three more times now. I still haven’t found the lost paci. I’m still fussing. And, yes, I have made it clear that if she had slept instead of playing, the paci wouldn’t have been lost in the first place. That’s how I handle these situations. The problem is learning to handle them with grace. Learning to go back and not yell. To calmly remind her that a screaming fit isn’t helping, and that this time she does have to take the consequences for her actions and that means she doesn’t get back the thing that she lost on her own.

You see that’s the hang up. I can not raise children to release to the world as adults, if I have let them grow up without the consequences of their actions. I have to discipline. I have to tell them things are their fault and that obeying me and dad will mean fewer consequences. Just like it is true that the more I obey my Father the fewer messes I will find myself in. So, what is the balance? When do I extend grace and say, “you know what, you goofed. Big time. Let’s fix it, together.” And when do I say “no. This is on you. You chose to do your own thing, figure this out.”

My kids are small. Many of their peers don’t even have any chores yet, and here I am trying to figure out when to let them suffer from their own actions, and when not to. I don’t know. I don’t know now; but if I do know if I don’t start trying to figure it out now I will be in a lot more trouble, when they are older and the things they do wrong are much bigger deals than spilling milk.

I’m not saying my kids (or yours) should be given a free ride. All I’m saying is my Father has forgiven me of much bigger offenses than the things I get so upset about. My children can’t learn to accept God’s forgiveness if I never teach them how to accept my own. They can’t learn to forgive if I don’t model that behavior. I have to show them these things, because just like it isn’t my nature to forgive and peacefully handle upsets with grace; it isn’t in their nature either.

Lord, teach me to parent with grace. Your grace; because I have none on my own.

 

The Experienced Mom’s Registry

Baby number 3 is just weeks away! Yikes, where have 7.5 months gone?! It dawned me the other day I should probably do a few things to be ready for our new addition.See, that’s the difference between the first child and the third. By this time with Gracie the nursery had been set up for a few weeks. I was about to have a baby shower. All the tiny clothes were washed and put away. I even had a diaper bag packed for the hospital. This time… “hmm, 33 weeks. That means I just have 7 weeks to go. Maybe I should get ready? Maybe?”

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a few things up until now. I did get out the baby girl things we had saved. I did determine we could not fit a third seat in our car, so we got to go car shopping (yay…blech!) I just don’t feel any rush this time. And to be honest, I’ve learned a few things since Gracie was born; and a few more since Skeet.

One thing I’ve learned is that you really don’t need that much stuff. I am a sucker for cute clothes so I’ve purchased some new things for Laney. And I did redecorate the nursery this time, since this is the first child I got to paint the room and all of those fun things. But really, I don’t need much.

So, here is my very short list of things I still need before baby comes:

  • Diapers. I plan to cloth diaper. I’ve done it before and it isn’t that bad at all, to me. But those first weeks are enough transition on their own, so disposables it is. Pampers Swaddlers are the best for new borns. After a few months I’m just fine with walmart brand, but I don’t cheap out with brand new tiny-hinies.
  • Nursing pads. Yea, if you plan to nurse, buy these dudes ahead of time. Gracie came a couple weeks early and I didn’t have any on hand…not my finest hour. Find a brand you like and stick to it, they aren’t all created equal.
  • Sleep. It’s about to be hard to come by, so I’m doing my best to “stock up” on sleep now.

That’s it. I mean, you need a few more things for a first child, but I’ve already written about that before. By the second and third, there just isn’t that much you HAVE to have.

Besides sleep. Sleep is very important for baby number 3.