September 1, 2014

Our First Camping Trip



I have explored San Diego from many view points: from the air when landing at Lindbergh Field, from the underground cave in La Jolla, from a high rise in Down Town, and I can finally say I've seen it through the mesh of a tent. Our family attempted and succeeded at our first camping trip with a toddler and an infant. Not only did we survive, we thrived. It was enjoyable from beginning to end. I intended the trip to be a trial run of camping, and a way to test our children and their tolerance for bugs, dirt, and s'mores. They were pretty OK with it all.

We decided to head to Observatory Campground (located in the Cleveland National Forest), which includes amenities such as flushing toilets, coin showers, and, most importantly, a breathtaking view of the San Diego night sky. The stars at night were so numerous it seemed as if the whole sky was glowing in bright patches. It is easy to forget the amount of stars that exist beyond the light and air pollution of the city.

The trip must have been blessed by all of our guardian angels, because nothing seemed to go wrong. I prepared for the trip like any other major life event: finding list-based camping blogs on Pintrest, and creating my own spreadsheet to keep organized. The amount of stuff we brought for one over-night trip seemed ridiculous both in theory and in practice, but once we arrived at our campsite it all seemed to fit together to make the whole camping in comfort or 'glamping' experience go as smooth as possible when caring for two young children (one recently potty trained).  Among the stuffs brought was a small potty for the toddler, a pack-n-play for the baby, plenty of glow jewelry for night time fun and safety, and lots of food capable of cooking over a fire. Wipes also. Did I mention wipes? Baby wipes. Bring baby wipes.

After reading three or four articles with titles such as, "Surviving Camping with Kids," the suggestions of items to pack started to overlap, and at that time I felt as though my research was coming to a natural end. Thank goodness for those articles. I would have never thought to have lollipops in my pockets during hikes to instantly end meltdowns. Sometimes the "we are going to sit here until you decide to listen to us" method just does not work in certain situations.

Although the research I did was irreplaceably helpful, almost all blogs and articles seemed to leave out what I think are two extremely valuable tips. The first is to have a goal for your camping adventure. Why are you going on this trip? Is it to disconnect from your phone and internet? Maybe you are looking for a way to spend quality time with your family, or even just to test your limits. Whatever the goal is, keep it in mind as a motivator to have a great camping experience. We went camping because we wanted to have fun together. We all came together to have a good time, and made decisions to keep that goal alive. Flexibility and a good attitude are key here. I'm not ashamed to say an iPad was among the stuffs we brought and used. I'm also quite OK that our breakfast ended with some s'mores. Once all safety issues were secured, we relaxed and just enjoyed each other and our surroundings.

My second suggestion would be to have a plan for re-entry. On the drive back to civilization, we stopped for some barista-served coffee and discussed how we were all going to get showered, dressed, and unpacked. I think it is necessary to take a well deserved hot shower and put on some nice, clean cloths after a camping trip. Even my toddler, whom only hours before declared she was ready to make the tent her new home, agreed with a smile that her warm bubble bath was pretty nice. Within an hour of walking into our front door we had all persons washed and dressed. We were also tossing load after load of laundry into the wash and getting gear wiped down and ready for storage. It was the icing on the camping-cake to be able to relax that night knowing the house was clean and all of our things put away.

Our weekend was so successful we are already planning our next trip. What other part of San Diego will we venture to? As long as it has a spot for a tent... as well as a toddler potty... we are good to go.


Please visit my Pinterest board at http://www.pinterest.com/katieglina/camping/ 
for a list of helpful camping pins.

August 23, 2014

Marriage for Sinners

What do you think of when imagining a perfect marriage? One that has past the test of time, with both husband and wife happy always, smiling constantly in public, and never seen arguing or cross with each other? This is what most people want when starting a marriage, a life of happily ever after, as seen in most romantic movies. This is not necessarily the case though. A perfect marriage might include arguments, frowns, and tears. It might take time for the two to join together as one working unit. Disney movies don't include this fact in most of their love stories: Marriage is a sacrament where two sinners come together to grow closer to God.

I think most people have heard of the 'honeymoon' phase of marriage. The first few weeks, months, or years where life feels like a fairy tale. It seems like most people also know that this phase tends to pass, but what we hear less about is the phases that follow, and why we go through phases at all.

Many religious and secular sources acknowledge the changing phases in marriage, even if they vary slightly in their descriptions. For this post though, I will be referring to the stages as described here. Many secular websites I have seen tend to use a negative viewpoint on the changes in marriage, and basically make it sound like marriage sucks most of the years the couple are together, specifically the child years, and that marriage is not enjoyable until after the children leave and the couple can be together again. The link I shared from foryourmarriage.org gives a much more positive light. I think it is because, being a Catholic website, it understands the true meaning of marriage, and the purpose it is supposed to bring about.

Marriage is a sacrament in the Catholic church. Sacraments are 'signs and instruments by which the Holy Spirit spreads the grace of Christ the head throughout the Church which is his Body. The purpose of sacraments are to sanctify men (Catechism of the Catholic Church).'

If marriage is a sacrament, and if sacraments are meant to sanctify, then by it's nature marriage will change the people involved. If the couple is letting the marriage work in their relationship, they will grow. Growth is hard work. It takes humility to see problems within yourself, and even more humility to let God work through another human to get rid of those problems and grow up. The couple may also grow at different paces, causing even more hardships.

I often see arguments as failure. Something didn't go right, and because of that an argument happened. Someone wasn't being humble. Someone wasn't being understanding. Someone was being selfish. I'm starting to think that arguments themselves are not the issue. The important part is how gracefully we act before, during, and after an argument. We are all imperfect sinners, or else we wouldn't need the sacrament of marriage. We are all going to mess up and stumble at some point. The goal is that spouses are understanding of this and are Christ-like in their reactions to the fall: They love each other unconditionally, even in the face of a mistake. They are there not to point fingers and to place blame, but to offer help, support, and forgiveness.

We marry because we love each other, we want to spend the rest of our lives together, and because we want to grow close to God together. All three aspects need to be present in a successful marriage no matter what stage we are in. A perfect marriage is one where we change from sinners into saints together as a couple. Is there any fairy tale with a sweeter ending than that? In the wisdom and words of my toddler, "I don't fink so Mommy."



August 14, 2014

Long Days and Cooking

Last week was long. Husband was working long hours at work, and I long hours at home. I learned today that the next few weeks are going to be similar, without a break in the near future. I can feel my tolerance dropping, and to reserve energy, I have been putting off projects to be able to focus on getting through each day. After a twelve hour day doing what seems like everything, nothing tangible can be felt by 9pm. It came to a peak this afternoon when I found myself spending a blessed hour of both kids napping at the same time (miracle!) checking Facebook. Again. I tossed down my phone, realized I was hungry, and started cooking.

Within minutes of boiling water, I felt better. Chopping increased, and blood pressure decreased. After about 30 minutes of work, I had two very humble meals of veggie tacos and spaghetti. It wasn't award winning, but it was good.

Something happens when we live in a virtual world. At most desk jobs, all work is done via computer, and can't be seen once the laptop is closed. Payment for the day's work goes via direct deposit into the bank, and is accessed by a debit card. Driving home in an automatic car, arriving at home, and for some reason being too exhausted to do anything more than watch TV. It is a spiral effect, causing the mood and energy to decrease together.

How do we break out of the virtual world? Out of survival mode, and into reality? By doing work with our hands. The results of building, cooking, painting, and other hobby type activities can be seen instantly, and don't go away if the power suddenly goes out. It is probably the same reason my toddler can be playing a puzzle game on the computer, and end end acting emotional and frustrated, while a different day do an actual puzzle, and walk away happy.

I cleaned as I cooked, and walked away from a clean kitchen and a full refrigerator. Doing something with my hands (In silence...) was so much more revitalizing than taking a nap, or spending more time on social media. I hope this post will be at least a personal reminder that when things get tough, get up and make something good.

July 20, 2014

Ages, Stages, and Babies in Apartment Spaces

When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our first child, we were elated. We were so excited to start a new chapter and had always wanted to welcome a child early into our marriage. I came home from work the day I found out, and walked into our 600sf, one bedroom apartment.

It hit me like a slap in the face: we needed to upgrade.

I put a lot of pressure onto my husband to agree with my 'need' to move into a two bedroom. I wanted the experience of decorating a nursery. Where would the baby's cloths and toys go? Where will the crib go without a nursery? How would we pick a baby theme and color if there was no space to coordinate?

Looking back, I wish I would have calmed down. I wish I would have just been joyous to have an apartment in such a nice area of San Diego. But I, like many parents before me, got sucked into what I will henceforth refer to as the Babies R Us Vortex, or BRUV for short.

As it turns out, babies don't need their own bedroom. They don't need their own closet. They don't need a swing, bouncy chair, two strollers, a garage, an SUV, their own blender, and whatever else the employees at the BRUV insist you add to your registry. Do these things help with taking care of an infant? Sometimes, but there are quite a few examples of 'must have' baby items that are quickly recalled, or deeply criticized by pediatricians and developmental specialists. In my first ever list-oriented blog post, I'd like to outline a few ways that you can reduce the impact of baby items, which will reduce clutter in your space hopefully making apartment life with a baby much more pleasant.

1. Baby Gyms- I used a baby gym for both of my kids. It provides a cute place for baby to play, but a blanket on the floor does about the same thing. Gyms also have activities to keep babies entertained while lying on their backs, which isn't the desired position for baby to be spending their awake time. The blanket on the floor alternative can be made even more apartment friendly if it is a blanket that can be 'stored' as a couch throw when baby is not using it.

2. Toy chests- A hollow bench or couch ottoman is a much more apartment friendly way to store baby toys and necessities (like diapers).

3. Nursery- This is the biggest hurdle to jump. You do not need a baby nursery. Staying in a smaller living space as long as possible allows more time to save up for future goals. Also, having a smaller apartment means less time spent cleaning. I could literally clean our entire one bedroom apartment in an hour. Getting around the nursery is pretty obvious: set up a sleeping space for the baby in your room. It is honestly ideal to have baby in the same room, because the baby will be waking frequently at night. Having the baby close to you will allow everyone to sleep better.

4. A bounce seat and a swing- Having a safe, comfy place for the baby sit while you take care of yourself (shower, eat, use the restroom) is very helpful. Pick one, not both. We got thru two babies (one with colic) with one bounce seat, and no swings. We also still don't own a rocking chair. The swivel chair in the office works nicely.

3. Multiple strollers- Someone will recommend to you that you need multiple strollers: A snap-n-go, a full sized, and an umbrella stroller. Having that perfect stroller to fit your specific travel goal for the day would be awesome. But where are you going to put your strollerssssssssss? Do all three fit in the trunk of your car? If not, getting one multi-purpose stroller that grows with your child will save you space in the end.

The most important thing to remember is that babies grow... they will grow out of their crib, out of their swing, out of their cloths. Every time you buy something for your baby, ask yourself, "Where will this go when the baby grows out of it?" This was the most logical way for us to decide what to buy for baby when we were living in an apartment (that didn't have storage space). It's also important to remember that you have to live in your apartment too. An apartment cluttered with baby items starts to look more like a daycare center, and less like a home for both babies and adults.

July 9, 2014

Bad Day Enchiladas

The kids have had colds this week. Sick kids mean half of the day is spent preparing for snot-induced meltdowns, and the other half is reacting to snot-induced meltdowns. Stuffy noses make toddler and infant sleep time not so peaceful, and the use of humidifiers, nose bulbs, saline spray, and wipes make the house look like a homeopathic horror scene. After a about a week of running around trying to keep the house sanitized, and the kids calm and clean, I needed to accomplish something beautiful and extraordinary.

Or just make a really good dinner.

I imagined a pot roast dinner with an apple pie desert, but the only required ingredient we had was an onion, and I had neither the time or the money to make a full shopping trip for one dinner. I took a peek into the fridge and thought, 'I could make enchiladas.'

I used this recipe for the sauce, and added chopped onions and frozen corn. I had leftover chicken, pinto beans, salsa, and a small amount of shredded cheese for the filling. I added \garlic powder to make up for any blandness, and got stuffing. Five minutes later, I had a fully packed casserole pan of rolled corn tortillas filled with the yummy chicken and such. I quickly poured the sauce over, and added just a little bit of cheese as a topping. A few minutes later in a 400 degree oven offered a bubbly, warm, and wholly comforting dish. Once the kids were asleep (after eating a separate lunch made to help their colds) I enjoyed a large plate of my homemade dish.

I needed a mental break from being a 24-7 nurse, and creating a little more work for myself granted it. I have dinner ready for tonight, and hope that this minimal accomplishment gives me the fuel to make it though the day with a smile, and the ability to give plentiful hugs, kisses, and sip-cups to my mucous filled little angels.

June 22, 2014

Is it worth it?

It's 3pm. I am on my second attempt to get my daughter to nap. Baby starts to cry. I leave my daughter to rescue son from his failed nap, put him in his bounce chair, bring him into her room, and she starts to cry. We pick up her nap routine again, and just as he starts to fuss, an anxiety filled list starts to enter my sleep deprived brain: dishes, laundry, bathrooms.... nap time has been a struggle all week long and my house is starting to show it.

Toddler down!

I take my threatening-to-scream son out of the room, and try three times to get him to go down for a nap. As I'm rocking him for the third time, trying to sooth him back to sleep, the 'Is this worth it?' thought pops into my head.

Are my kids worth it? Heck yes. That has never been a question. They are worth my life and I would give it for them all day, every day.

The 'is it worth it?' question is regarding being a stay at home mom. I see kids with nannies, getting one on one attention every day. I see kids at day care, receiving enriching curriculum, while their parents work hard to better their financial future. I see parents making enough to afford the best day care, house cleaning, and cooking services, all categories receiving professional care and attention while I try to be the 8-5 combination of the three.

So why? Why try and do all of the things that some professionals spend their full day attending to. Why stay at home when every politician and feminist is trying to create rights for the opposite to happen, for moms and dads to rejoin the workforce together?

Because my husband appreciates it. When he is at work, he can just focus on work. He doesn't need to worry if the daycare/nanny is doing their/her/his job correctly. He doesn't need to worry about what is going to happen if one of the kids gets sick or hurt. He trusts that they are being taken care of, and that he will be immediately called if something goes wrong so he can help as well. Also, even though I feel like a majority of the day is young-children-induced chaos, it must not be. By 6pm most nights, the house is mostly organized, the kids are peaceful, and an at least semi-homemade meal is ready to go. Because of this, he is more than happy to step in and take care of something when he gets home, and we can tackle the evening chores together.

Because I have strong opinions on how the kids need to be taken care of, and I have a very humble BA in Psychology backing up my opinions. I took many human development courses in college, and read many studies showing what parenting techniques work best for (the studied) children. No two kids are the same, and no two kids can fit into any model outlined in an undergrad psych book, but it is a foundation of knowledge that I am using to build my parenting off of. Studies show kids that go to sleep early and have a schedule do better in school. Therefore, my kids have been on (attempted) schedules from infancy. I also have strong religious views, and want to make sure that my kids are being exposed to Catholicism on a daily basis. Some day my children will be in school, facing challenges I won't be around for. I want to make sure that in their early years they can absorb as much strength from me as possible so they can face those challenges head on and succeed.

Because when they do go to school, I want to have the time to genuinely wonder how their day went. I also want to have the time to be able to listen to them when they want to talk. I can't expect my kids to come chasing after me for advice when they grow older. It is already human nature to avoid parents at certain ages. I don't want to make it harder for my kids to come to me by acting busy with an outside job. I want to be there, ready and welcoming, to help them when they need me.

Because I'd rather be around babies acting like babies, than grown adults acting like babies. What is it these days about corporate work environments that encourages 'not nice' behavior? Go hug your mom.

I've read many articles debating the stay at home mom vs the work outside the home mom. I think the 'debate' is just in our heads. At the end of the day, we do what we think is best for our family. Many women don't have the luxury of participating in this debate. They can't afford to feed their family if they don't work. Other families are facing unemployment, so either spouse is ready to jump at any job possible. Even for those of us who have a choice, it is still about doing what we think is best for our kids. Creating a strong financial future for them, working hard to afford a bigger house, send them to good schools, being able to pay for their college, having extra time for them, making the home into a sanctuary from the world... we do what we can so that they grow up into amazing adults.

If in 10 years, we are still living in the same condo, driving the same cars, working with the same budget, will I look back and regret? I don't think so, because every time I get frustrated at myself, and tell myself that I'm not doing enough for my family, something happens. Thomas smiles at me. Clara learns a new word and tries to use it all day. We take a trip to the zoo, and both kids stare with wonder at the same animal. Clara has figured out that when I'm about to loose my mind, she can sing "It's your birthday to YOU!!" while dancing and pointing at me, and it will make me laugh. If I miss out on most of those moments by choice, I will regret. That is my ultimate reason to be with my kids. I recently read a quote that said not to give up what you want most, by giving into what you most want now. Professionally cleaned house, perfectly prepared dinners, a few more dollars in the bank... these things are not my ultimate wants. They are good now, but I will not sacrifice what I want most for what I want now.

What do I want most? To know that by the time my children are grown, I gave them everything I could, and to know that I supported my husband in every way possible.


May 20, 2014

The Proverbs Wife

10 
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.

There are days when I stop, (bust into tears) and ask myself, "What am I doing?" The question usually comes up after I've done the dishes for the 57407490th time, taken 5849038 minutes getting the kids in and out of the car to go to activities, burned dinner, and flooded... something. I've found it helpful to look up inspiring quotes (usually on the scholarly Pintrest) to use as a springboard to get a grip on my day. Lately, I have been reading about the "Proverbs Wife."

I must admit that although I've been Christian my whole life, I have little knowledge of the Old Testament. Actually, one of the reasons I love my husband is that he does have a good understanding of the Old Testament, and can tell any story at the drop of a hat, with great speaker's charisma. I am sure that 90% of my OT skills are simply from listening to my husband tell the stories to me. This leads to my admittance that before this year I have had little knowledge of the Proverb's Wife. I was about to copy and paste the full text, but thought it would be much prettier to just include a link

Proverb's 31:10-31 starts with:
A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies.
And ends with:
Honer her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gates.

Pretty powerful, right? I mean, all of the motivation I need to last for a few years is in those two sentences. Within those beautiful bookends is an extensive list of tasks the noble wife completes with great competence.
She brings joy to her family, and her family praises her. She works hard constantly, day and night, and the list of tasks she completes seem impossible to achieve. She is irreplaceable and priceless.

This is what I should be as a wife: Irreplaceable and priceless. My daughter is in the magnificent stage where dressing up as a princess is a dedicated and time consuming activity. I often tell her that she is a princess... a child of God. But in order to be a good princess, she must play the part with her actions: listening to Mommy and Baba, and being respectful and kind. The same principal can be applied to the married life. Both spouses should request the respect given to the Proverb's wife through their actions.

Now, returning to my opening, burning dinner is not much to be praised over. There are many nights however, when I cook something so delicious the positive results of the meal last for days. There are times when Clara runs over to hug me, just because. There are days (plural!) when the house is neat, organized, and as welcoming as the hug of a toddler. Not everything is perfect, but the Proverb's Wife gives me something to strive for. It also gives me an affirmation that what I am doing is important, and is making a difference.

She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: "Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all." Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a women who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Proverbs 31: 27-30. 

May 1, 2014

Change

Change happens. I think there are two ways to deal with change.

1. You hold on to the past so tightly it squeezes all hope from your future. 
2. You squeeze your eyes shut, hold someone's hand, and step into change. 

What if the change makes your life more difficult? What if it sucks? What if the memories of the past are so pure, good, and beautiful that the present is nothing more than a dull smudge? We should still step. Step right into the smudge, splash it up, and make it beautiful. 

When we hold onto the past, a life that we once had, it prevents us from living. I know people who have let their beautiful past eat them up from the inside, to the point that they are unable to see the brightness behind their sorrow.

I'm sure I've been their before. I'm sure a loved one has had to stand next to me in frustration while I shut my eyes trying to live in the past. Actually, it has really been the opposite. I let a dark past prevent me from fully enjoying the blessed present. 

Matthew 5:4 says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."

I think the solution lies here. It is OK to mourn something, someone, some place. It is OK to be sad that a good past is gone, or that a bad one existed at all. But mourning is not a perpetual act. It has a start and a finish. It also has a purpose. It is a means to be comforted, not a means to be depressed. Maybe mourning happens more than once, especially for the loss of a someone, but there should be comfort. More importantly, we need to have the hope that the comfort will come. 

Look for a hand to hold (spiritually in prayer, and physically in a friend), close your eyes, and take a step.


April 9, 2014

Lent, windows, and potty training.

I am really bad at Lent. I don't know why. I'm going to go out on a limb and say it has something to do with being distracted and not having will power. Which is also the reason I'm walking around 4 months post baby looking 4 months pregnant. I should clarify... I'm not pregnant. But I have been asked twice in the past 4 months.

So my main sacrifice for Lent was to give up complaining. I really want to focus on all of the good I have in my life. I usually remember this sacrifice right after I complain about something. Usually something stupid, like looking pregnant. Lent is not over yet. We still have about a week to go, and I'm planning on stepping it up considerably. Pray for me.

I was planning on working something in about our new windows that we are just beginning to pay for, and possibly the challenges of potty training, but both of those sound like horrible subjects. So let's go back to Lent.

Is it just me, or does it seem like giving up one vice tends to bring out another? From the beginning of Lent, and trying to focus on the positive, I have been tempted to get angry much more often. Comparing the two, I think anger is more harmful than complaining. So now I have two things to focus on.

As I try to think of something profound to say about Lent, and upcoming Holy Week, I'm realizing this post may be more about kicking it into gear and sprinting towards the end of the season to make up for some lost time. Again, pray for me.

March 21, 2014

Lipstick and a Smile

I love mommy blogs. It's awesome to read so many stories of women trying their best to do the best for their children. They also offer a very comic relief to a not so glamorous day (and night) time gig.

I think a trend is going on with stay at home moms. A trend that is very valid, may have once been refreshing, but is starting to turn boring. The trend of making one's stay at home mom job into a joke.

So many blogs offer the "you aren't super woman, so why try to be" approach. They very candidly share the slapstick comedy routine of life with a kid. They talk about clueless husbands who come home at the end of the day and ask silly questions like, "How was your day?" Because obviously they have no idea the absurdity that runs circles around your 9-5. The blogs almost glorify the sweat-pants-bad-bun-because-of-course-that's-all-I-have-time-for, as well as the, "Don't you dare ask me why dinner is not on the table yet."

I read these blogs and comments, and very often participate in them as well.... But why?

A few months ago I was visiting my grandmother. She was a stay at home mom that started her six person family in the mid 50's. I saw a picture of her once holding one of her infant children, and fell in love with her long pony-tail and dark lips. As a mom of four in the 50's, how did she have time to put on lipstick?

During the visit we started talking about being stay at home moms, and she made a statement that I will never forget: "Your grandfather (her husband) liked to come home to serenity at the end of the day." And with a very serious face she concluded, "I made that happen." She looked away and added, "But things are different nowadays." Her last statement was a reference to today's generation of moms.

At first glance, a defensive person might come to the conclusion that my grandma was a victim of the 1950's housewife mentality that is looked down upon by society today. But her words hit me deep in my heart, and gave me a new mission. To her, being a stay at home mom and homemaker was a real job. One that she wanted to be good at. To have a clean house, quite kids, and dinner ready at the end of the day is difficult, but not impossible. Not only is it obtainable, but it may even be possible to do it with class and style. To not loose yourself in the chaos of the day, and be a complete wreck by 6pm, but to complete all of this while bettering yourself as an individual, and to be enriched and strengthened by what you have accomplished.

I feel like I have to defend myself as a stay at home mom sometimes, and maybe it is because of this new stereotype of throwing together a house and kids all with a comedy sketch going on in the background. For sure laughing at a complete disaster during the day is sometimes the only way to get thru, and seeing that other moms have faced similar challenges is incredibly helpful, but that doesn't mean that my entire life and being needs to be centered around such a mentality. Maybe I would feel a little less defensive if my position embodied class, grace, patients, and feminism.

So this is my mission: to become that 1950's stereotype of the stay at home mom that does it all... with lipstick and a smile.

OK, maybe chapstick, but definitely with a smile and some grace.

March 3, 2014

Lent

Lent has come!

This means that we will be eating a whole lot more veggies, and also that we have been in our home for a year. So far, we have...

Painted downstairs
Tiled the bathroom floors
Removed the busted shower doors
deep cleaned the existing tiled floors
Updated plumming
Replaced the busted windows
Sealed the busted baseboards
Replaced the scary washer and dryer
Paved the complex (HOA fees going to work!)
Painted the exterior of the building (Again, Thanks HOA!)
Installed the appropriate number of fire and CO detectors.
Created a child

What a year. Listing the projects still to be done would take away from the glory of the done list, so that information will stay internal.

Again, lent is here. This year I have again decided to give up complaining. While thinking about this, I wonder what it is about us (I'm running on the assumption that others struggle with complaining as much as I do) as humans that cause complaining. Is it a drive to always want to better ourselves? To always want the best? Or is it purely sinful, and simply a surefire way to reduce joy in our lives? One of the reasons I give up complaining is because I usually get slapped pretty hard in the face immediately following a "venting" session. While wondering why our grocery budget is so tight, and why we can't go out to eat more often, I'll see a homeless person camped outside of Sprouts for the night. While on the way to the mall, bitterly wondering if I'll find some "much needed" cloths that I can afford, I'll pass by a handful of people on street corners with signs.

Life is not fair. It is not fair that others have more than I do, and that the rest have less. But this life isn't supposed to be fair. The next one is.

As a Christian, I believe that the world in which we live is a journey, not a destination. When we work hard every day, we should not expect to see the reward in our lifetime, it will come after death. When thinking this way it makes sense why some people do very little work in their life, and seem to be rewarded time and time again, while others work until they have nothing left, and seemingly can't get ahead.

The other hint we have that this life does not contain the ultimate reward is found in the saying, "Money can't buy happiness." If it did, the rich wouldn't be in rehab, wouldn't end their lives prematurely, and would obviously never be depressed. We do see this happen though, and quite often among the super rich celebrities. If gaining in wealth and success were the rewards of good deeds, it would not only happen to the right people, but those people would be perfectly happy as well.

I don't want to complain, because I have been given exactly what I need in life. Not only that, but really, truly, and comparatively, I have so much! I have a beautiful home, a beautiful family, and friends that care about me. I eat everyday. I have a car, cloths, and even jewelry. Complaining is saying that what I have isn't good enough.

What I have is more than enough for the journey I'm on. I just pray that I make it to the destination I desire.

February 25, 2014

Deserving a Break

I frequent parent advice articles. Every time my children reach new milestones, or are going thru a new struggle, I can't help but to research every different opinion available to see how to best deal with the situation.

One thing that really bothers me is the "you deserve it" angle that almost every single article tries to shove down parents' throats. Make sure during XYZ struggle, you take some time for yourself... you deserve it! It's a very effective advertising campaign as well: the "you deserve to buy our product or to spend money with us" angle. Come, stay at our hotel. Come, get a massage. Come, buy yourself new cloths. Come, get your hair done, after all, you deserve it!

Really? What have I done that is so monumental that I need to reward myself like a little child. I give my daughter treats when she does something good. Not because she deserves them, but because it reinforces a good behavior that I'm trying to teach her. We, the parents, are adults. We should not have to reinforce our good behavior with a reward. We should just 'be good' because we know that it is whats best for ourselves and our family.

I often find people giving me verbal reinforcements for being a good mom. Although I appreciate the thought behind this, and it does validate the work I do, it again raises the question of what we deserve. I feel like if I do a good job being home with my kids, I shouldn't get a reward. Being a good mom/wife/etc should be the bare minimum of my life.

Sometimes there are things that I need. There are times that I need a break. By need, I mean if I don't have a break soon, my ability to do my job will decrease. Does needing a break mean that I need a vacation? No. Does needing time alone require money? Nope. Needing a a break can be fulfilled by a shower, a book, a run, or writing in a blog.

Let's get rid of the entitlement. The "I deserved this" posts on Facebook only highlight our immature, childish side. Because ultimately, feeling like you deserve something takes the joy away when receiving something good.

January 15, 2014

Postpartum Caulking.

Our new baby has arrived, and it's a boy!

We chose to keep the gender of our baby a surprise, and I am so glad we did. Labor and delivery didn't go as planned, and to finish a very trying time with, "Katie, it's Thomas!" was an absolute joy.

We are 4 weeks postpartum, and the experience is night and day different then the first time around. I didn't do well with the challenges of becoming a first time mom. I got hit with "The Baby Blues" and took a while to recover. I felt like I was entitled to so much... entitled to sleep, entitled to others helping me, and entitled to some sort of made up set of expectations about what parenthood is like. It's amazing how love heals us. The love for my daughter turned me into a completely different person, and I can't wait to thank her one day (when she understands) for what she has given me in happiness.

Because I had such a hard time recovering from my first pregnancy (You know what? Starting maternity leave getting rear ended by an SUV and going to the trauma room probably didn't help much...), I was concerned for the experience repeating itself. It hasn't. I have been emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted, but I haven't felt defeated. Two pieces of advice I read have really motivated me to get my act together from day one. They are:

1. You will be sleep deprived. Being angry about it will only make it worse.

2. It came to pass.

I'm not entitled to anything. Not even sleep! I don't "have" to sleep. I mean, I do... but that will come eventually. Parents have been sleep deprived for a couple years now, and most of them have gotten thru without spontaneous combustion. I am not entitled to anyone helping me. Any help that we receive is a blessing, and we are so grateful for it. It makes me happy just to know that people are willing and wanting to help us. So thank you to everyone who has been babysitting, cooking, and checking up on us.

Everything comes and goes. It came to pass. The sleepless nights, they will pass. The smiles, they will pass. The cuddles, they will pass. Even your crappiest day (with any precious moments hidden within) will pass, and will never come back. Hold onto moments. That way, when you look back on life, you won't have to wish that you appreciated something more. It will be fully with you, and experience you embraced for better or for worse.

We are doing great.

My husband took it upon himself (with some prompting apparently) to go thru our house and get it super organized... because we never really did that when we moved in. This included making our attic user friendly. We now have an amazing storage space. That reminds me, I need to get going on our newly spaced-out office. He also caulked and sealed all of our gappy, cracked baseboards using a method on the all amazing Pintrest. They look amazing. Did I say amazing? As in amazing husband? Thank you for making our home continuously user friendly.

We also have ordered new windows! Not super exciting, but I'm hoping that NOT having windows broken by punk neighbor kids will make our energy bill a little more manageable each month. 

And that's all. Just more kid raising, home making stuff on a budget (Target has cheaper diapers than Costco... caulking baseboards cost a few dollars less than replacing them all.) because I love our home and our not so little family.