2014 Goals

So, this post should have happened the first week of January when the rest of the blogging world was goal setting and vision casting for 2014.  I was so deep in the trenches in January, there was no lifting my eyes to see beyond the next few minutes.  Even now, I'm still in the trenches (see picture above), but at least I'm starting to peer out over the top of them in hopes that someday I will be out again.  Some of these goals might sound trivial, but I'm excited to look back in 8-12  months and see where I'm at.

2014 Goals (in no particular order):

  • Lose the rest of my pregnancy weight from the twins.  Stretch goal - lose the rest of my pregnancy weight from Lewis too...
  • Jog the entire Midnight Madness 5K in July.  Yes...do the whole thing without walking. 
  • Survive a "vacation" with all three children.
  • Take a 5 year anniversary trip with Brad, preferably to someplace warm where we don't have to do anything but sleep, eat, read, and talk for days on end.  This sounds like my best dreams.
  • Start and maintain a discipling relationship for a season.
  • Get back into the rhythm of a group bible study (actually attending with some consistency is a bonus).
  • Interview one or two homeschool moms about their experiences and tuck their answers away to reflect on again at a later date.
  • Organize the toys in our house and put them on a rotation.
  • Simplify my closet and get rid of the vast majority of my wardrobe, only keeping high quality items that I like and wear frequently.  By "get rid of" I mean mostly consign and sell.
  • Continue blogging - trying to post at least one time per week.
  • Go for a walk or get some exercise every weekday in the spring and summer.
  • Re-evaluate our home decor, specifically the living room rug and pillows, the dining room art, the fireplace room, and some of the furniture.  Remove things that don't work well for our family's season of life and hit refresh where I don't like the style.
  • Take all 3 children to the store by myself.  Stretch goal - do it more than one time.
  • Read a few books, including "Give Them Grace" (had that one on the list for a long time now), "Loving the Little Years", and "Housewife Theologian" or "Crazy Busy".  
  • Find a good routine during weekdays that includes specific times for snacks, bible time, screen time, chores, and learning activities... - start living like a large family!
  • Menu plan and take practical steps to be more frugal and resourceful with food.
  • Start thinking about how I'm going to keep track of family photos.
  • Create at least one holiday tradition.
  • And as always...continue to get rid of "stuff" and decrease clutter.

Okay, if I actually do all that stuff in 2014 (or even 2/3 of it), I'll be superwoman!
Happy (belated) New Year!

What I'm Getting for Valentine's Day

This Valentine's Day, two crying alarms will go off at 4:00am.  Brad will wake up with me, he will hold one of them, give a bottle, change two diapers, swaddle two boys, and lay them back down.  He will volunteer to sleep on my side of the bed if I want, so that I don't have to be further interrupted by crying.  As we fall back asleep, he will want to talk to me and he will tell me he loves me (although I'll be tired and kind of annoyed by this).  He won't take offense to my annoyance, and will rest soundly next to me anyway.

At 7:30am, he will help feed babies again before getting ready for work.  If he has time, he will bring me a cup of coffee while I'm with the children and it will have just the right amount of cream.  Even though it might be making him late, he will ask for breakfast and he'll remind me that he loves MY breakfast sandwiches, not just any breakfast sandwiches.  At this, I will sigh and let him know that sometimes I get tired of making him the same thing over and over again, but he won't hold this against me.  As he leaves I'll be busy, but he will make me pause to say goodbye and get a hug.

He will work hard all day.  He will barely have time to stop and eat lunch, but somehow he will find time to edit a blog post, face time with Lewis, or text me a quick hello.  If I show up at the office and interrupt, he will be happy to see me, even if it kind of messed with his schedule.

When he walks in the door after work, he will announce that "Daddy" is home.  After giving me a kiss, he will sweep up Lewis and tell him, "Daddy loves mommy!"  Even though he is exhausted and wants to relax, he will wash his hands, take a child, and come to the table.  He will pray for us before dinner.  As we eat, it will be important to him to hear all about my day.  He says, "tell me about all of your comings and goings."  It's okay if I get a little selfish and blurt out 10,000 words and forget to ask about him until later.

After dinner he will wrestle with Lewis until they are both rolling with laughter.  Even though Brad is getting tired by now, he gives Lewis a bath and puts him in his pajamas.  While I rock Lewis, he will clean up the nursery and won't neglect to pray for us before laying our sweet son to bed. It might seem like this day should be over...but there are still more children to care for.

My Valentine will end the day by feeding babies...again.  He will change their diapers and swaddle them for bed time.  He will listen to their cries as he spends a little time on the ipad surfing craigslist.  I will give him some space until he asks if I would like to come to bed and enjoy catching up on a favorite TV show.

My Valentine's Day might not include a dozen red roses, a night out on the town, or an extravagant gift, but it will include the love of a faithful man who lays his life down for our family.  It's okay that romance looks differently these days, because I'm happy to have the faithfulness, forgiveness, and unconditional love that he gives me day in and day out.

This year for Valentine's Day, I'm getting help with diaper changes,  a 4:00am "I love you" and the security of knowing Brad loves God enough to lay down his life another day for the sake of his calling.  For those gifts, I am thankful.

Encouraging you to consider respecting, loving, and rejoicing in the things your husband does well everyday and lay down your high expectations for him on this Hallmark holiday!  Give him the gift of an appreciative wife who adores him when he hits the mark and when he misses too.  Our husbands do more for us than we often give them credit for!  

Happy (early) Valentine's Day!

Update:  This blog post by Amber on Twin Cities Mom Blog closely relates and gives good inspiration for making our husbands feel special this Valentine's Day...a great read!

Lots of God's Grace

Lately I've been doing little "test runs", trying to get all three of the children out of the house by myself (pictured below was a recent trip to Brad's office with all the kids for lunch).  Sometimes this goes well, and other times it leaves me completely exhausted and wondering if I will ever have the feeling of "freedom" I used to be familiar with.  As I was looking back at old draft posts, I ran across this one from a couple weeks after the twins were born, and felt encouraged again by the words of a wise older woman...

Our first outing with three children under 16 months was as you would expect, corralled chaos.

My mom came with us to the twin's two-week follow-up appointment to see the pediatrician, and since we were not able to secure childcare for Lewis, he joined us as well.  With Iowa temps in the teens, we ventured out with 3 full car seats, winter coats, hats, diaper bags, purses, and tough spirits to face the appointment as a team.

I imagine what we looked like walking in...I was muscling two car seats plus a purse while my mom held a squirmy toddler with an over-sized coat and multiple bags.  It was probably a little scary looking.  But even with all of the people and gear, I wasn't prepared to feel so much like a walking circus act.

When we entered the doctor's office room, the nurses all commented on how busy I would be and how full my hands are.  Those things were obvious as Lewis was waddling around everywhere, seeing how many germs he could collect while I undressed two babies to be measured and weighed.  These weren't new comments and observations.

From the point in my pregnancy when we started to share with people that we were having twins, I've was continually told and reminded how difficult my life will be and how full my hands will be.  It's been the minority of people who have had something uplifting and encouraging to say, even when they mean well and don't intend to make me feel bad.  (In fact, I'm sure the vast majority are just making friendly conversation.)

Sunday at church, a very admired and wise older mom came up to me and exclaimed with much enthusiasm, "You are going to get to experience so much of God's grace!"  This statement was so refreshing to me because it implied two truths -
1) that my job was going to be hard, my hands would be full, and I would not be able to do it on my own and
2) that God was going to show up to supernaturally help me and give his grace as I needed it more and more.
Who doesn't want more of God's grace?  What an encouraging thought!

As I embark on this first year with three little ones, I'm somewhat aware of what's ahead.  I know it will involve lots of crazy outings with bags, strollers, coats, and tears.  I'm a MOM and this is what I signed up for!  But really, what gives me the most comfort isn't the fact that others have survived, but that I will experience much more of God's grace than I would have if I needed Him less.  Amen!

Encouragement Worth Sharing

Lately, I've been running across a lot of wonderful blog posts and I've been attempting to compile them into a post.  If I don't immediately link something in a draft, just a few minutes later I can't remember what I read or where I read it.  However, I thought all of these posts were good enough to take the two minutes to save, and I hope you agree!

The other morning Lewis found the coffee grounds and pulled them out of the trash...I let out a big sigh, but my desire is to find laughter and joy in even these moments!
Has Authenticity Trumped Holiness?
Quote: "We've become too comfortable with our sin, to the point that it's how we identify ourselves and relate to others. But shouldn't we find connection over Christ, rather than over our depravity?"
Good question...This discussion is probably bigger than a few sentence reflection so I'm not going to tackle it now, but I still wanted to share because I found this blog post to be thought provoking and refreshing.  If you want to read more about making an idol out of "authenticity" and how it pertains to stay-at-home-moms, read this blog post.  And again - another article on pursuing Godliness.  Interesting stuff.

I Signed Up for This
If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you probably already saw that I shared this blog post.  It was one of those things that I read at the perfect time.  January included lots of children puking, sleepless nights, and time spend stuck inside.  I'll admit that I spent several days feeling extremely discouraged about the "little blessings" God has given me to take care of.  Just as this blog author describes, I found myself sighing, moaning, and groaning about things that are gifts.  Frankly, life isn't that bad and I can get pretty self-focused instead of fixing my eyes on my ministry and purpose.

Because I Love My God
Speaking of purpose and remembering my mission in the difficult moments, this blog post by Jami Nato really hit close to home.  I can't relate to her struggles of having a child with special needs, but I can appreciate the need to remember who I'm serving when I'm continually asked to lay down my wants / needs / desires for the sake of my calling.  This week instead of scoffing at another dirty diaper, I hope to whisper the reason behind my serving under my breath, I'm doing this "because I love my God".

Before You Were Mommy
With Valentine's Day right around the corner, I am spending more time thinking about my love, Brad.  Sometimes I get mom tunnel vision and in the midst of wearing spit-up and playing whack-a-mole with fussing twins, I start to view him as another set of hands more so than the love of my life.  He comes home and I think, "Great...back up!  Can you get over here as quickly as possible and take a child from me?!"  Does he get a chance to breathe or go to the bathroom or hear a whole-hearted, "Hello!" from me?...no, not always.  But I WANT to give our marriage the attention and care it deserves, and I'm thankful that God allowed me to read this blog post.  It was a good reminder that my relationship with Brad is even more important to maintain than my relationship with my children.

Speed Cleaning
The 4 part series on keeping a clean and tidy home really resonated with many of you.  I'm so thankful that God uses this blog to encourage others!  As I shared in some of my posts, during this current season of life, I've had an even more difficult time keeping up with our house.  Until I have time to get into more of a routine again, I've been practicing the art of speed cleaning.  This blog post has some great suggestions for how to do it in detail.  I won't detail our strategy on this blog, but it includes writing down the rooms I want to pick-up / clean, giving them a time limit (usually 5-10 minutes each), and knocking them off the list as quickly as possible.  If I give myself 5 minutes to clean up an area, I go into super-speed mode and I just get it done.  Right now I am getting a significant portion of our house cleaned everyday with this method in 30-45 minutes or less.  If you are pressed for time, you should try it!
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