Pursuing present in 2018

It’s been well over 2 years since my sweet friend Melissa pitched the idea that we should both start a blog together, AND 2 years since my last blog post.  There is no better time then to start back up since the year is ending and a new year is beginning. It’s cliché, but who cares, I’m running with it. Here’s my attempt to at least 1 blog post per month 🙂

2017 was overall a great year, but it was also challenging and has brought dramatic change in everything I do. It’s been hard homeschooling my 2 older kids with 2 little ones under tow. It’s been hard working 30-35 hours per week at my job.  It’s been hard trying to keep up with my home and everything that entails.  And it’s been hard making time for and cultivating relationships with the most important people in my world.  Yet, God has been so faithful and His grace has covered all of my mess-ups and start all overs.

In 2017, I was introduced to Allie Casazza (www.alliecasazza.com) and her movement to de-clutter, get intentional about how I spend my time,  and embracing simpler. Instead of writing out a New Year’s resolution of all the goals I wanted to accomplish, I just picked one word and applied it to each aspect of my life.  My word for 2017 was simplify. Here’s what that word looked like for me over the past year:  de-cluttering EVERTHING, household items, toxic thoughts and relationships, schedules etc.  Once everything was de-cluttered and lighter (seriously the best thing I could have ever done for myself and my family), I looked at ways to simplify everything I had on my plate that needed my daily attention.  Meal planning and food prepping have played HUGE parts in taking  stress off of my passion to feed my family healthy meals (I’ll save the details of this for another blog post). I’ve been waking up to start work at 5am, which gives me the chance to work in quiet and to complete half of my workday before my kids start tugging at me to meet their needs. I wash, dry, and (kinda) put away 1 load of laundry each day so there are no huge piles of clothes waiting to bury me. I’ve also started delegating age appropriate responsibilities to my kids, because they need to practice serving their family too…to name a few.

My word for 2018 is present.  I’m still working out what that word will mean over every aspect of my life this coming year, but here’s what I have so far:  turning off all alerts on my phone (except for calls and my husband’s texts), so that I can be present to what is going on right in front of me instead of being distracted by alerts.  Finishing my work day first, so that I have the rest of the day to be present in my home without the mental reminder hanging over my head all day. Buying some noise-cancelling headphones so I can be present at work during the times my kids are awake.  Out-sourcing a few homeschool subjects (online) that we just don’t have time to get to.  That way, I can take the pressure off of myself to have to teach everything and be their cheerleader instead. And finally, lots and lots of reading aloud time.  There is no better way, in my opinion, to be present and deepen relationships with your kids, then to enjoy a good story together.  Especially THE ULTIMATE story.

2018, I can’t wait to get this year started.

 

 

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The Challenge: Eating out

This December will mark 7 years since I’ve been a mom. Time mostly has flown by, yet on some days time has totally stood still. For the last half hour my husband has been in and out of the car running errands as I sit…in the car…with 5 tired children (it’s 9:00pm). Time is standing still. They are fighting, screaming, and complaining. “Don’t you DARE unbuckle!”, my 6 year old whines loudly to my 3 year old who responds with a quick snarky “I’m gonna unbuckle!”. The 6 year old has had it with my son. These petty exchanges are the result of my husband and I telling her that we won’t be doing dessert out after our adventure at Cracker Barrel.

It’s been a long time since we’ve felt at ease with even considering taking the kids out in public to places not called Chick-fil-A. Don’t get me wrong, banging spoons, flying food, multiple breakdowns over ice melting in the water cup sounds entertaining but not when it’s your ONE child behaving this way. So, with only one kid in our gang, we pretty much gave up on eating out as a family and my husband embraced his inner chef…but that’s a story for another time.

Fast forward a few years, add 4 more gang members and a mom who often craves adventure outside of what might be described as a constant tornado zone and we’ve got : Dinner in public with the Phantastic Phive (mild shout out to Philly).

Our early re-attempts started out testing what seemed like familiar waters for maybe the past year as we still often end up running out of the restaurant as fast as possible all while leaving a literal trail of crumbs. It seems we double the amount of dropped food under the table when we eat out. We’ve gotten better though.

Finally.

I *think* we enjoy the time we get out together which as of late has mostly included uproars of laughter as 7 month old Felix tests out food and has the most hilarious facial expressions. I actually have (albeit briefly) moments of thanking God for the awesome hilarious family. Sometimes intentionally check out for a moment and enjoy listening to the conversation at hand. What silly blessings they are…and so is…the water mess that Jameson just made all over the table or…yes, that’s Luci hiding her biscuit under her arm- for safe keeps?

It’s funny how panicked I used to feel when my only child made a loud noise in the restaurant.  I’d quickly sush her. Now I realize that her sweet silly noise at 1 year old was probably not a big deal. Water messes, meals on the floor, fights over crayons- those feel like a big deal. We’re now generally able to maintain an appropriate level of respectful entertainment (for those in close proximity of our table) yet, I still don’t think that we’ll frequently venture outside of the walls that Mr. Truett Cathy so kindly created as a safe haven for my family and many others with young children.

For me, it’s not about maintaining an image of perfection, it’s about displaying an attitude of love and enjoyment (and respect for those also wishing to enjoy their meal). I want others to see that we truly enjoy these little lives we’ve been blessed with but it’s slightly difficult to express that when Jameson randomly takes the top of the oil lantern and immediately turns it into a spy glass…while Woody and I are giving the waiter our order.

I’m happy to allow God to use me to mold these little lives into people that love others and (Lord willing) love Jesus, but sometimes it’s really hard to be a happy, self-controlled Mamma with all the personality we have. I’m so thankful for the years past of growing and learning. I’m thankful that even though I’m messy and loud that God is still always patient with me and I’m really glad that he has given me the ability to go out in public regardless how of much I do or don’t have it together. Haha.

All this to say– Hey you, mom with littles, as you sit exhausted on your couch dying to not fear the unknown of taking kids out in public: This season is short. I promise. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed and how close we are to REALLY looking forward to family time out.

For now though, we’ll continue to let the kids enjoy chicken…again.