Saturday, December 06, 2014

Pockets of rhythm

We moved.

Yes it was stressful.

But what was the best thing that we brought with us? What has brought the most relief and joy into my day as a mom of a 4, 2, and 10 month old?

Pockets of Rhythm that provide security for my littles

After an especially brutal day, I collapsed on the couch a few months ago and decided to try googling it again. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I had quizzed quite a few older moms in the previous weeks and very few could recall specifics of what did and didn't work when they had preschool age children.  hmmmmm. It was all wise advice.... but too vague to make a noticable difference.

That evening, I googled "routines that work for young children." This beauty caught my attention. It has impacted every day since.

Wow. Just wow.

Quotes from Alissa Marquess that I pondered over and over in my head.

"Myth: you need a great routine for your whole day" 

"I thought routines were for moms
 more organized than me"

"Think about the Worst Part of your day" 

"What needs to happen?" 

Oh man. The whole article is great. I was struck by the example of "our lunch routine" were she introduced a new "tradition" of lighting a candle along with three other steps for eating a meal.

That's when it clicked. I can do that.

I can't make every day a good day. But I can start somewhere and build on #pocketsofrhythm

It became a game for Emily. Operation Pockets of Rhythm. I gave myself space to think.


1) pick the worst 15 minute part of your day

No questions....9:00 am was miserable.
 Marjie needed to go down for first nap of the day.
But the older two kids were super needy RIGHT then, EVERY day
They would fight or be crazy loud the moment i walked down to the hall to put her in bed.
Marjie would tense up and begin screaming like a crazy woman

2) Think through a handful of practical steps that could help this miserable part of the day ... transition into something peaceful

.......BOOK PARTY on DADDY AND MOMMY's BED! Whoot! Whoot!

fill a diaper bag with their favorite books. 
add sippy cups with water. 
pack diapers and kleenexes 
and essential oils 
and turn on some classical music 

 Emily - set a timer for how long they have to look at books.
 tickle them when it's up
 then read aloud to them - set timer again.

 Make this "book party" not a punishment but a time to look forward to. 

3) Emily, visualize it as your kids can't read and you forget when you get frazzled

4) Stick with it, Emily, for one week. Don't ditch it the first time because it "didn't work" ...revise how it's promoted to the kids perhaps, adjust the implementation a bit...but stick with the main points.

I had found myself on my knees because of the anger 
I saw spilling over when responding to my littles. 
A women I respect deeply had told me earlier that week 
"Emily, shame turns to contempt"


The combination of realizing I could choose to start somewhere 
and dealing with my heart level issue of feeling incapable 
was The Holy Spirit speaking truth into my heart 
and answering my prayer for HELP 
(signed the exhausted and tired mommy) 

After 7 days - we were at a better place. 9 a.m. wasn't the worst part of my day. Far from easy, but no longer miserable.

So Game ON!

Bedtime was the focus the next week....Then Rest Time...then Breakfast and Devotions

after a few weeks my days were noticeably different. 

I felt like the Lord said to my weary mommy soul ...

"With Me, nothing is impossible" Abba Father

My days are still long. We still have epic meltdowns. Usually all three fall apart at the same moment.  I still get angry. But the pockets of rhythm are moments of fresh air in my day and I notice that I am laughing more when things fall apart. Tomorrow is a new day.

....and i notice their cute lil personalities and fall in love all over again. 

What works for you? What's your worst part of the day? Do your kids thrive on routine or spontaneity? 

Monday, April 28, 2014

Week in Review

This week, I made and stuck to my Trim Healthy Mama Meal plans. 
No sugar and flour = happy mama

no, it's not "easy"
BUT, I don't have time to feel lousy, have a sugar crash at 3 p.m.,
or cravings, foggy thinking

my friend Rebecca S told me about these finds from walmart. 
love them. 
Only one of a gazillion things that 
need sorted (given away) and/or organized in this house

but at least its a step
Busted lip. All boy. 
:: Honey stopped bleeding ::
tough dude.
Chair 1 Clark 0

 'lil sibbling love. 

Selling things on craigslist. 
Viewing my day as a job. 
Being a good mommy for me means not being distracted by every lil request

I don't get a break unless they rest at the same time 
.....And I usually get off work pretty late
My littlest is cute but not been sleeping well. 

Icing on the cake!
Nicholas comes to visit

Signs of Life

We had a refreshing Easter with Allyn's family. My sister-in-law hosted us all in their lovely new home. I love Allyn's family. Wonderful people.

With spring I tend to think of fresh. light. clean. green grass. being a farm girl - the smell of freshly turned dirt is still vivid. On Sunday after we tucked the kids in bed, I walked around the house cleaning. As I walked room to room, it was anything but fresh and clean - but the signs of life were evident.

Signs of young life around me - this was under just the table

popcorn anyone?

new life that I thank God for....


...that includes big sis even though she
pulled EVERYTHING out of the dresser. Sigh. room was exempt

This Easter I am Thankful for ...

Christ and His sacrifice
the hope of Eternal life

my husband 
my family. his family. 

sermons on topics such as shame and fear
hot tea
THM Frappas
      + spontaneous dance parties on sticky floors with my littles

Friday, April 25, 2014

Word of the Week




My sweet mommy friend Amy mentioned a couple weeks back that she was working on having a "rhythm to each day." Her little ones are close to the ages of mine. I sat on the couch repeating the word in my head.


AHHA! That's it! With a 4 yr old, 1 yr old, and a newborn in the house - our attempts at "schedules" were short lived. It doesn't help that Allyn and I BOTH naturally are high in what can be described as Quickstart. Follow thru is not nearly as natural to us as starting something. A project. a new routine (different from yesterday). A trip. A group of people coming for a meal.

But Rhythm. 

It allows me to breathe. To help accept the blows and setbacks that come with daily life alongside little ones. To move through our day, mostly free from watching the clock while still giving my littles enough structure to be happy.

Someday it will feel and look more like a typical schedule. But for now, rhythm makes the sun shine a little brighter even on days when you smell like spit up and crawl into a bed that has cheerio crumbs smashed into the sheets. 


: a regular, repeated pattern of events, changes, activities, etc.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

My 3 year old and Play Learning

Does he know his abc's?
How high can he count?
Does he know how to spell his name?

...questions people ask me at the time Clark had his 3rd birthday.

Answer: ahhh. no.

I brushed it off at first. His abc's, counting and spelling abilities where hit and miss - normal for a boy I thought. But I kept being asked those same questions by people from all different backgrounds (i wonder if his height made people think he was older???). I began doubting myself and panicked about my lack of a plan to help him grasp the basics. I did learn quickly, however, Clark had ZERO interest in sitting down and achieving those goals. none. zippo.

I cornered my friend Emilee Morris. In my circle of friends, she is known as the best preschool teachers ever. Talking to her took the pressure off of what I assumed i needed to make help clark learn.

Through several conversations I mentally switched from the product of learning to the process that works for 3 year olds - playing. She helped me get a visual of how play learning would excite Clark and how I could create a culture of learning where he would lead and learn to love learning.

Thanks Em!

I have a feeling, it will be completely different for Elsa at 3, but we'll cross that bridge when it gets here.

Here is a peek into how we roll...with my all-boy 3 year old.

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” unspoken Rule # 1
“If I create it, I want to destroy it. thanks mom.” 
:: it is the process and time spent with him that’s important, not the product ::
Sheesh. Forget displaying art.
Think itty bitty chopped up pieces.  

Unspoken Rule # 2
 “I like to do what I see daddy do” 

Daddy's old blueprints
  Hello! He had to “doow to work.”

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” Rule # 3
 “YES! I want to
dot a dot
….BUILD it”
:: glue, glue, glue::
“run, run, run”

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” unspoken Rule # 4
 “If you let me hunt I will do whatever you say”  
Sheesh this testosterone stuff starts young.
Mix learning and booming (nurf gun practice) meant he would…
…boom and collect letters stuck on the wall written via sticky notes (hello abc educational activity)
…boom activity pages hanging in the doorways. (eye hand coordination) 
…boom specific colors around the house (color identification)
Simple – yes. Traditional – NOPE. Fun – check. 

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” Rule # 4b
 “If you let me
be by myself
talk with you about hunting, bears or tractors
…I am up for anything. 
Outline of a bear, tree, and tractor respectably + modge podge + noodles = an entire 40 minutes of sit at the TABLE focusing.

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” unspoken Rule # 5
“Trucks are important to a man”
He will load a truck with any supplies we need for an activity. Dirt. leaves. rocks. sticks.

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” unspoken Rule # 6
“anything that requires lots of energy makes school funj”

Since January his favorite color has been  yellow.

Clark really likes
 coloring with a yellow marker,
drawing a yellow sun,
painting with yellow paint
…HUNTING for things of his “favorite color.”

 Easter Yellow hunt
Finding all the random yellow items in our house with Avery

He is full of drive. Since i married his carbon copy this shouldn’t be a surprise.

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” Rule # 7
“Talk about what we can do, do it, and then talk about what we did.”

….and then chop it (daily picture journal) up in itty, bitty pieces. Thank you very much.
:: It’s the mother and son conversation not the construction paper that matters::
And not to forget all the 3 year old “why” questions.
His attempt to PLAY conversation
…so the LEARNING part was teaching him a good follow up question between every 1,500 WHY questions.

Easier said than done! 

Clark’s 3 year old “Play Learning” unspoken Rule # 7
”Anything that involves a trip to Home Depot is a happy day”
…Helping Mommy make a list of supplies to create a play area under the deck

so mom can drag both kids to home depot and gets all the supplies for a weekend project.

Mommy’s “Play Learning” Bottom line

They will grow up faster than I think…

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Do you know what 2:30 feels like?

On a lazy Saturday, Allyn was watching football and the kids as I straightened the house. I walked by the TV just as the 5 hr energy commercial came on.  For some silly reason, {insert roll of eyes} it's one of a handful of commercials I find myself watching when it comes on....

This time as I watched the grayscaled lady pour her cup of coffee - it clicked.

That was me. That's how I felt. GRAYSCALE is how I saw life as I unknowingly struggled with a health issue for over 17 months post Clark.

I functioned but life lost it's color..I laughed less. I never considered the struggle I experienced as diagnosable. Depression. Afterall, I felt happy and relaxed for the first 4 or 5 months of mommy hood. Then as if someone was dimming the lights, life slowly dulled to grayscale. It was gradual enough that close friends didn't notice.

 Family photos Fall 2010 
 {six or 7 months into my depression}
6 months into this ordeal, I had several health issues/mixed with just feeling off for so long that I did some research out of desperation and wondered if I had a progesterone issue. I finally mustered up the courage to call the local Dr's office. The nurse told me I could make an appointment but the Doctor would probably not order any testing till I had 2 or possibly 3 more miscarriages. She said it wasn't likely that I had any problem with my progesterone. I accepted it for some reason without my Emily style questioning. I hung up the phone and filed what she said in my head. Looking back, did I fall through the cracks? I know I felt stupid for being so convinced something was wrong with me.

Without realizing it the ability to see beauty was squeezed out of me. Over the next 17 months I would slowly take down every pictures and decor in my home??? I sensed I enjoyed my son less but assumed he was just a hard toddler.
  • loss of pleasure in daily activities
I became a perfectionist.  I was mostly mad at myself, but Allyn took an unpleasant brunt of my frustration. He could do little right in my depressed/stressed mind. That man has an incredible amount of patience. Amazing man. He graciously endured a lot.
  • depressed mood-tearfulness
  • anxiety 
  • feelings of worthlessness or guilt, with no reasonable cause.                             
I was unable to multi-task. I remember my laundry always being a constant issue and finally asking small group to pray that I could get it done. Seasoned mom's came along side of me and said "this week, just focus on doing one load a day"

But it didn't work, nor did it stop there...

I couldn't sort Clark's toys or clothes
Or the linen closet.
Or the recipe box that fell off the counter and dumped all over the floor...
The multi-steps involved in making a grocery list, loading clark (only 1 child!) into a car and then grocery shopping paralyzed me
Getting out the door for women's Bible study - it would fall apart EVERY time.
Time was also an issue - I literally could sleep12 hrs a night + nap any time clark went down. 
  • extreme fatigue or loss of energy.
  • sleep problems
  • difficulty concentrating and making decisions.                                       

I remember reading the blog of a dear friend who had lost a precious baby that year...and found tears streaming down my face because I had no idea why I was such a mess and related to some of her emotions. I was terrified to admit to her when she asked how I was that I too felt like I was dying on the inside. After all, I kept saying to myself what's "wrong" with your life, Emily? I finally chalked the struggle up to what people around me would say in a sincere, affirming and kind way "Motherhood is hard"
  • hopelessness
  • feeling empty inside                                                                               
It was late Summer 2011 and one of our favorite missionary couples came to visit us. I remember where I was sitting when I surprised myself by answering her question of how I was doing with the words "ok, but I might have had post partum depression". Truth is for some reason I had googled it that week, but had not said it aloud to anyone yet. This wise woman listened for a few minutes and then her words literally turned me towards a pursuit of recovery.

"Emily, let me tell you my story. After my fourth child, I also...."

It was the first time a strong Christian woman not to mention seasoned mother told me she had taken meds for depression and was still on them. After all, who talks about depression in Christian circles? What struck me was how this woman had come down to the decision of valuing her children more than the stigma that came with taking meds. Our stories had striking similarities, and she gave me two simple steps of advice - try the nutritional/natural med route first, but then do whatever it takes.

As warped as it may sound, part of me still wanted my struggle to be spiritual. I knew I lacked personal discipline, focus and passion for God - Christian kids know how to fix those problems (wink). I made an appointment with our counselor at church.  30 minutes into the session, after we talked through some spiritual lies and strategies I had created to function she stopped the session saying she suspected a physical/health issue that I needed to get checked out before going any deeper into the spiritual side of it. She scribbled down the name of a chiropractor who specialized in the specific field she wanted me to check out.

When the chiropractor called me with the results of my hormone test the list of unbalanced hormones within my body was a huge piece of the puzzle. Within 2 weeks under the care of this chiropractor, 17 of my 22 symptoms disappeared. boom. gone. The crazy thing is that during those 17 long months had there been a depression-solving-solution as simple as the "5 Hour Energy for the 2:30 feeling" - would I have taken it? My understanding of depression and what I thought of people who battle depression was skewed. When you spot someone who is depressed, how in the world would you tell them??? Lots to still process.

Depression. Gray scale living. I know what that feels like. 

A gift. Though unlikeable and uncomfortable to accept, it was a gift in my life. I am changed.

Experiencing life again in full color, also a gift. 

Friday, September 06, 2013

Making his list and literally checking it twice.

I think we both needed a break from each other - that is Clark and Mommy. 
 Clark was thrilled to spend FOUR days at Grandma B's this week. 
Though when he announced it to whoever would listen to him Clark kept switching between "4 days" "4 minutes" and 4 weeks"

I am incredibly blessed to have parents and in-laws like I do. 
Incredibly blessed 

....My lil bug sleeping on the plane.

Gettysburg with a personal tour guide - incredible! 
We toured Constitutional Hall in Philadelphia
Attended a beautiful wedding - Congrats Emily and Pete! 

 These are the days... 

of giggles that can turn instantly into WAILING! both. wailing.
of little minds developing 
of busy, high energy boys with frog catching skills 
of meetings with police detectives as I work to develop a class on the topic of sexting.
keeping up with laundry, dishes, and meal prep 
Clark learning to say what he feels
going on long bike rides
size 2 diapers
teaching the 'look at that smiling baby' not to screech when frustrated 

We had good days and bad days this week. 
How can the good days be so wonderful 
and the bad days be so bad? wow. 

Least I did get some time in the Word.

Long story...but a couple weeks ago, I reach down to grab my Bible and find the MIA worm Clark desperately wanted to locate the night before.

You think that's gross. Well there was another one. Still MIA.

ya..! Sheesh.

Stains from the worm poop still mark the page where he crawled on my Bible and ...died.

Good Morning, Life!

Ahhh. It's Friday evening. I love weekends more than ever before...
Happy Sept, Folks!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Spring and life with my little ones


...between jumping on the trampoline, naps and looking for rolly pollies....I loaded up the kids and headed to Blueville Nursery.


I found a new plant to try thanks to the cactus family. It likes heat and and lots of sun, so am hoping it's a win for the dead of summer. I am also a sucker for sweet potato plants in pots. In July when everything else is dead, they seem to hang on quite well.

spread wood chips and fill pots - check!


Clark is always DELIGHTED to see his Crazy Aunts! 
 Welcome Home Anna and Kristen! 

desperate and yet unwilling to loose a chance at a teething baby's nap...

1) I ordered the essentials online.... A good feeling to lay on the floor playing with Clark and get all the bulky essentials walked to your front door. Free shipping! 

2) Posted a summer job on K-state student site and updated my cleaning list.

I used to think that the comment "well if i had a cleaning lady, my house would be clean" was a true statement. WRONG.

Some thoughts

a) True: young mom's have to lower our expectations.

b) I have to be ok with not doing it all - and equally true is being ok with not doing it all yourself, which leads me to...

c) There is nothing wrong with hiring someone to clean or help me pick up my house along side of me.

some days the options are
- it doesn't get done, taking care of kiddos and their souls take priority
- someone else changes the 3 year old pee'd on sheets and throws the musty smelling shower towels in the wash, and wipes down the outside of the frig, etc, ect
for $16 a week

a fraction of the cleaning that has to happen every week, but..

I'm going to love on my kids 
 and try to soak in these moments of their little years.

 Grandma B's blue canning jar.
+ flowers clark and I found along the road 

Anytime, my student graduates and I have to hire someone new, I remember how multi stepped the whole process is. These students obviously are not professionals in house cleaning, which is reflected in how much they make an hour but they seem eager to learn how to help me as a young mom. 

This is the list I helped Sarah create ... each week we took a room and figured out what order she wanted to clean the room.

being a quickstart mom, i value getting something done even if it's not ABSOLUTELY spotless. Our goal was to take one room and do well a week and then just hit the worst spots in the the rooms. No, my house isn't "perfect" when she leaves - it is progress from where it started that morning. There is a sense of freshness that wasn't there. That's what we are talking about. Progress, not perfection.

3) figure out something fun to do in evening.

We picked up a lil friend of Clark's, Acadia since daddy has to work late these days 
This mama laid on the blanket and made faces at my giddy 7 mom old baby girl. 


Since the crazy aunts are back from school, they invited clark to hang out with them.

 note the fierce bow and arrow., grocery shopping, and prepping food for the WSI guy bbq went together faster than normal considering Clark was having the time of his life Grandma peggy's house.

That evening, the kiddos and I evacuated the premise just in the nic of time …and got back an hour late but the kids went to bed within seconds and without a peep at 8:30. Thankful.
The kitchen was full of dishes from the night before.... let's be real - that put me face to face with a bad attitude. 

surprisingly, Clark played sweetly with legos for almost 2 hrs.
....while mommy and Jesus worked on the bad attitude.

  took a date to the zoo in the afternoon

 ...and then picked up some carpet padding from the carpet store. My friend had these soft area rugs and she said the trick is to buy nice carpet padding a few inches smaller than your rug. Done! Love it.

so thankful for these lives!