Monday, February 14, 2011

Turning 28

Last week I turned 28. Not really a monumental birthday, but it kind of has been for me. I've been reflecting the last couple of weeks about my life. Am I living it the way I want to? Am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? Maybe a kind of 1/3 Life Crisis, I don't know. It's sobering to me in many ways to realize that it's no longer, "When I grow up, I'm gonna..." I AM grown up now. I'm doing this thing called life, whether I'm ready for it or not. I don't get do-overs. I need to be doing it NOW; living it out fully NOW! Not living for the weekends or when Matt gets home or when the kids are a certain age and on and on. This may sound morbid, but our pastor has said, "You begin dying the second you're born." Sobering and true. I was reflecting on that recently while giving the boys a bath. Something about their exposed bodies always takes me back to the hospital room when they were born and it strikes me how quickly they've grown. Why do I wish my precious days with them away? As I reflected on all this... this "am I living the way I want to/ should?" I decided two things.

One, I must be getting old. I've never given much thought to this kind of thing before. I'm pretty sure only old people do. :)

And two, YES!

I feel I'm exactly where I want and need to be. That was so refreshing to me! Usually when I go into "over-analyze mode" I come up with some huge shortcoming that I begin to feel guilty about and work on. This is not to say I've arrived by any means. I have SO much room for improvement, but since Silas' birth, I have felt like a new person. Like I'm becoming me. I'm not perfect, but my heart is tender (at least more than it was) to the Lord. I desire Him in a way that I haven't in a long time. I'm embracing my role as a mother whole-heartedly. I'm letting go of the regrets of not being on the mission field or in ministry or doing any number of other things. I am in love with where God is taking my life.

I am truly, deeply happy.

It's been a while.

Motherhood has changed me, but not in the way I thought it would. I grew up always feeling like I had a "spotlight." You know, a place where I could look good. With church, I was usually considered a pretty good kid. My dad was a pastor for a while when I was young and my mom led the Children's Ministry at our church while I was in middle school and high school. With academics, I was usually one of the best in the class. I graduated as valedictorian in a class of about 450 (nevermind that there were 11 of us who claimed that title). Bottom line: people usually liked being my partner for group projects. :) My bosses always liked me. I did choir, track and was given numerous opportunities to earn a little praise in those areas. I've always had many avenues where I could put on a "show" and get a pat on the back. Motherhood isn't like that. I think it depressed me. No more pats on the back when I accomplished amazing feats like changing a diaper while talking on the phone and checking dinner. No one sees. Honestly, no one really cares. No one has come to me for advice on parenting, 'cause guess what? My toddler acts like all the rest of them! I realized I've been living my life for the praise of man rather than God. This has been a hard pill to swallow. But when I live for God... my audience of One... He's all the audience I need! Who better to get a "pat on the back from" so to speak. Oh to hear those words, "Well done, good and faithful servant" someday. I have purpose back. I have happiness back. I have my life back.

Wednesday was my actual birthday. It snowed... again... and church was canceled and I was inside all day and cleaned all day for our playdate on Thursday and ate grilled cheese for dinner... and it was one of the best birthdays I remember having in a long time. I don't feel like I have some sort of giddy happy, but this deep-seeded happiness that I've really rarely, if ever, felt before. I guess I just took one more baby step toward getting over myself. I have a feeling this is going to take a long time, but I'm so glad I've begun the journey!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Valentine Playdate Party!

Yesterday I had some friends over for a little Valentine Party and it was SO MUCH FUN! My friends Clarissa and Michelle came from church and Jen (our husbands work together) and Mandie (I met her through Jen and as it turns out she only lives two streets away from us!). I am so blessed to call these wonderful Christian women my friends and love having other girls around who are at similar stages in life. I love watching them parent and hearing their ideas and just having fun with them. They are all totally into their kids like me and don't think I'm completely nuts for my crazy, scheduled party I planned for them and their kiddos. (Okay, they might think I'm a little nuts. :))
I've loved doing some organized days for Isaac over the past few months, but have been hesitant to include others. One, because I'm embarrassed of how I get when I'm in "teacher mode" with Isaac. And two, because I wasn't sure that it would go the way I wanted it to if I threw more toddlers in the mix. Sometimes Isaac and I take a leisurely pace with our activity days and work it around naps, feeding schedules, meltdowns and poopy diapers. I was pleasantly surprised with how much fun it was with a group and how much longer Isaac slept afterward! :)
This doesn't always happen, but for some reason I was super organized and this all came together with little stress and lots of fun! Isaac and I did a little decorating to spruce the place up a bit. He painted the hearts below and I strung them together to make garland over the kitchen entryway.
I got the idea for this "heart chain" online. Isaac couldn't really help me with it and it wasn't quite as adorable as the pictures had made it look, but oh well. I doubt I'll be doing it again.
After a few minutes of introductions and mingling, we read a Bible story. I wanted this to be a fun playdate that was Christ-centered. My Grandma got this Bible for Silas for Christmas. It has 5 or 6 stories in it and each one is about 20 pages long with only a couple of sentences on each page. Translation: SUPER toddler friendly. We read the story about Jesus letting the children come to him and talked about how much he loved them.
Then we talked for a minute about how BIG God's love for us is. So big that it reaches all the way up to the heavens! What an amazing truth for all of us! We did this little verse activity where each child brought me a heart with the next word in the verse and we used the clothespin to attach it to the line. I had a little kit prepared for each child to make one of their own when they got home. Ours is hanging in Isaac's bedroom and he likes clipping in the hearts and trying to say the verse. This morning we sang the beginning of the Third Day song with these words and he kept saying, "Again, again." By the end of the morning he said the verse several times with a little help on the first word, LORD, and the reference.
Next it was time to prepare lunch. I used Silas' plastic baby food containers and filled them with cheese and a layer of turkey heart pepperoni at the bottom. Yes, this is where I went a little crazy. I had a super tiny heart fondant cutter and I cut the pepperoni out with it. I kind of had fun. Matt thinks I'm weird.
Everyone did such a good job of prepping their pizza!
Hard at work!
Major concentration by my adorable little man. I got a little side-tracked during all of this and by the time Isaac's made it to the oven he had eaten half of one of his pizzas cold and uncooked. :)
While our pizza cooked, the kids came back to the living room and played file folder games and with random toys that I had set our earlier. I got all the games from It's free and I just used card stock to get a sturdy set of pieces. I also laminated the playing pieces with my new laminator Matt got me for Christmas. Yes, I asked for it and yes, I'm a nerd. :)
I gathered up some items to give to the Mommies as my Valentine gift. These were things that I had received as gifts and had never used. There was nothing wrong with any of them, just generic gifts that I thought others might put to better use than my closet. (Don't worry girls, it won't hurt my feelings if you re-gift too! :)) My goal was to catch each child showing love toward someone and let them choose a gift for their Mommy. This proved to be more difficult than I thought, not because the kids weren't loving but because while trying to multi-task as host and a Mommy myself I had a hard time catching them in the act. But, everyone left with a gift (well, except Jen, who left hers... but she's 7 months pregnant so it doesn't count. :))
Lauren helping Jen open her gift. She got to open one because she used kind words. Her words: "Me wuv Isaac." Awww! Definitely gift-worthy. :)
Time to eat! I LOVE Henry's sweet face here!
Isaac and Kyler having a deep conversation about apple slices.
After lunch the kids went on a scavenger hunt around the house to find their dessert while I quickly cleaned up the lunch mess and put out their cookie stuff. Unfortunately, I got no pictures of the decorating process, but here's Isaac's finished product... and his sweet face. Man, I love that kid.
Next, we decorated tin mailboxes that I found at Target in the $1 section. They stuck Valentine stickers to them and then collected their Valentine's in them. It was slightly crazy and this is the only picture I got of it... thirty minutes after everyone left. Oh well. Picture taking is not my forte. The candy train at the top of the post is the Valentine that Isaac handed out to everyone. If you know Isaac then you know that to call his love affair with trains an obsession is an understatement. I didn't intend for it to be the first picture, but I forgot to add it with the rest and my mom wanted to see it and apparently, Blogger is not my forte either because I couldn't figure out how to move it down. :)
We ended the playdate with balloons. Mandie and Jen have both hosted playdates recently and both ended it with balloons. It proved to be the perfect way to end the morning, so I followed suit. They had lots of fun and most reports I got from Mommies afterward said that naps were extra long that afternoon! :)
Silas loves balloons! As usual, he was a perfect baby. He took a nap for a little bit of the party and ate green beans and watched all the commotion with great interest. He makes my life so easy and I love him so much!
Hannah with her adorable pigtails and sweet, little face.
My vain attempt at a group shot... hehe... toddlers don't do well with sitting still.
All in all, we had a great time and I was reminded anew what a blessing friendship is. All of these girls invest whole-heartedly in their children and it shows! I will definitely be trying to do stuff like this more often.