Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Not the most wonderful time of the year

I really don't have time to write this but I need to.

I don't remember the date off the top of my head anymore, but I'll find myself edgy and on the verge of tears for part of a day and not entirely certain why.  And I find myself at the kitchen table - usually the same spot each time - glancing at the calender and....oh yes.  That's why.

The day the Lord said, "Not yet, dear daughter...this one needs to come back to Me."

I cried plenty but I don't really remember asking why. It was a long month. I let it take its course naturally.  I was glad it was Christmas because sometimes the glitter took away the weighty feelings.  But it was not the most wonderful time of the year.

Was it the most wonderful time when Jesus came?

Mary and Joseph weren't exactly traveling under grand circumstances, in posh accommodations.  An impromptu trip to his hometown under the edict of a ruler who simply wanted to count heads, probably leaving a scoffing pack of busybodies who cackled about Mary's "story," on the heels of what was undoubtedly an awkward Jewish wedding.

Who knows how Mary's contractions began, if her water broke while she was yet being hauled on a donkey, or what.  But I'm sure the scene wasn't nearly as pretty or clean as the nativity on my entertainment stand.

The coming of our Lord was humble and unassuming.  The circumstances alternately wonderful on the eternal side of things and not so much on this side of heaven.

This is not the most wonderful time of the year for many people. Three of my most memorable NICU losses happened at Christmas...sad memories for me but a black mark on the holidays for those families.

Yet - YET! - the very One whose birth we celebrate is the One who more than understands our rejection, disappointment, grief, name it.  He experienced it in spades and bore it and took it to the cross.  Willingly.  It is the most wonderful NEWS but it's not the most wonderful time of the year...

...unless you look at it from an eternal perspective.

...and turn off the radio station that's playing all the Falalalalala and turn on the one that's playing Joy to the World.

Dear, grieving or hurting or anxious friend, don't buy it.  Christmas isn't snow and cookies and presents and trees and lights.  It's a God who exchanged eternity for space and time and filled His lungs with the murky air we breathe.  The God who stood right by you when you lost your baby, watched your husband walk out, when you tossed aside your willpower and fed your addiction, when your finances collapsed.  Celebrate HIM.

...though he was in the form of God...made himself nothing...being born in the likeness of men...

Let every heart prepare him room

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I don't mean to brag, buuuuuttttttt.....'s our Christmas tree. Go ahead. Pin it.


You see, our house is just a hair small right now for a tree.  A diaper changing table resides where the tree would normally go, and there really is no other place for it.  At all.  So a 2D Christmas tree it is until Luke's outta dipes.  This two-dimensional fit of genius sports one roll of wrapping paper, a handful of to-and-from tags, a cheap garland, and a shiny bow on top.  If you haven't pinned it already, ya better do it.

Here's my other little piece of inspiration:

Actually, I think this turned out very cute. 

And finally, even better than any Christmas tree:

(Stop envying my mad photography skills, just stop!)

But seriously, Matt's mom gave us the nativity when we were first married.  It showed up at our condo when we lived in Denver and it came from a Catholic supply store in Missouri (??).  We didn't open it until after Thanksgiving, but we were so perplexed as to WHAT could come from a Catholic supply store?!  Matt surmised that it must be a blow-up St. Christopher doll.  Because clearly THAT is what you would buy at such a store.  So we kept referring to "the box" as "the blow-up St. Christopher doll" - and when it (obviously) WASN'T, Matt was actually a little bit disappointed.  I, on the other hand, was teary at the sentimental thought of having the tradition of setting up the nativity with our children one day, teaching them the story of Jesus' birth.  They would listen with eyes wide and filled with rapt, sparkling wonder as I quoted directly from the book of Luke and arranged all of the figurines.

Well, the box is actually still labeled "Blow Up St. Christopher Doll" with Sharpie marker, and I, shall we say, blew it up yesterday. I quoted as much as I could remember from Linus' speech on the Charlie Brown Christmas special (because he does quote directly from the book of Luke).  Levi whined because he couldn't stand up on the chair with me while I strung the lights behind the entertainment center, whined because I wouldn't let him watch a truck video, cried because I wouldn't let him swan-dive on Luke AGAIN, I kept yelling at the dog to GIT. OUT. OF. THE. WAY, my text alert from Matt (that he was on his way home) reminded me that dinner was far from being done, glitter was spread everywhere from Levi pulling out all of the decorations, and Levi was far more interested in the Santa Claus piggy bank that still had a few pennies in it.

BUUUT - the 2D Christmas Tree is up and so is the Blow Up St. Christopher Doll.  We'll keep working on making it meaningful, right?

Sunday, November 18, 2012


There's a reason it's been so long.

Well, there are at least two reasons, one of them being smaller, chubbier, and bossier than the other one.

You see, I suffer from a very fatal flaw as a "writer" (if that's what you can call what I do, on this wildly uncreative blog).  I can only - ONLY - write spontaneously.  I cannot start a post and table it for later; I cannot schedule time to write a post.  Nope.  An idea will hit me, I can marinate in it for a day or two, play around with the words in my mind, but once I sit down to write it, I have to write it from start to finish or it will never be completed.

Not exactly a writing style that is compatible with the life I have right now.

This is how I feel most of the time, most days.

If I thought my time was not my own with one little boy, it is abjectly not my own with two. (Is abjectly a word?)  People told us that adding a second child would be the most difficult transition yet...thereafter it gets easier.  Well, we can testify to the first part with a hearty "amen" - and will just have to take their word for it on the latter because there will not be a "thereafter" in this household, of that we are assuredly decided.

In the spirit of resurrecting my poor blog, I wish I had a stirring post to write, but I don't at the moment.  I will...soon enough.  But right now, the sound of one child's eyelids closing awakens the other - even though moments before, that child could have slept thru a marching band riding on a garbage truck.  So posts will have to remain steadfast in the steel trap of my mind while we ride through these upside-down weeks and months of having a bossy baby in the house.

Now that I have it started though, the posts will probably start to roll out as I seek a little solitude when everyone has gone to bed, forsaking sleep in exchange for a little bit of brain activity. :)

Welp, the dog just stuffed herself underneath the dangling toys of the baby's play mat and curled up on it.  Her clear message that she's tired and misses her bed.  I'm totally rolling here...but I should take that as my cue to wrap up and do the same...

...Good night, and please don't give up on my little blog.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

As a follow-up to my last post, I wanted to post this video that provides an awesome visual as to why RF is so important for our kiddos.  Watch for the crash tests that demonstrate what happens in an accident.  Thanks to one of my friends on one of the FB discussion forums that I'm on for posting this!

And then I'll crawl off my soap box and let you make your own decision. No judgment, just information so you can decide what's best for your family! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Bossy Nurse is IN

Okay. So.  I'm pulling the bossy (I prefer to think "informative") nurse card and doing a blog post about car seats.   A lot of people are having a baby soon. Or already had one. Or want to have one.  And if there's one thing that all of them have in common, it's that to my knowledge none of them drive a horse and buggy.  So, in some way, you'll have to obtain a car seat and need to know how to use it.  And if there's anything I've learned in the past...ummmm....ten? years of being a nurse for new parents, one thing is very clear: we love to prepare for our babies.  We love decorating, sewing, shopping, planning, cute-i-fying...but somehow, how to use that car seat is not on most people's radar.

So.  Let me help you out.  I promise I'll be way less dry than the instructions that you won't read anyway, my pictures are cuter than the drawings, and you'll probably find out something you didn't realize you needed to know.

I am NOT car seat certified. I would like to be.  There are great resources online, and car seat inspections are FREE at most police departments and fire stations, and take about fifteen minutes.  This is one of THE most important things you need to know as a parent, so please take that time on a Saturday or evening to do that.

First up: try to get a new seat.  Hand-me-downs and those bought at a garage sale may NOT be safe.  They should be no older than five years and NEVER in an accident. You don't know the exact history of a hand-me-down or second-hand seat.  Granted, there are many people who can't afford a brand new seat, and a hand-me-down is better than none at all. But for the heavy investing that we all do in stuff to make the nursery cute, cut some of that out and splurge on the good seat instead if at all possible.

Second: Take the car seat out of the box and look at it.  Before the baby is born.  Put a teddy bear in and practice adjusting the straps.  Legally, your nurse at the hospital can't do this for you, so you need to know what you're doing.  Install the base (if you have one with the LATCH system and a car manufactured since...oh crud, I think 2002????, it's way easier than you think).  Grind your knee into that base and pull the straps HARD.  There should be no more than 1" of wiggle room either way.

Okay, so now your baby is born and you're looking at it and the car seat and don't quite know what to do.  Here's a visual to help you:

WHO is that chubby-faced newborn? It's two-day-old Levi Gouveia!!! :)  Levi's in a Chico (say "KEY-co!") Keyfit 30, which means he could still use it up to 30lbs, but I think he'd be pretty ticked if I put him in it now.  The Chico is one of the most popular and well-rated ones on the market, but there are a lot of great seats out there.

So, notice a handful of things going on here:

1.  Notice how tight the straps are.  And not twisted.  I tell parents, if it seems like you're strapping them in too tight, you're doing it right. You should not be able to pinch ANY strap on their shoulders or by their legs.  Yes, he or she will cry and protest and make you feel awful.  I prefer that to the alternative in an accident.

2.  Notice where the chest clip is. It is NOT a belly clip and belongs between the armpits at the nipple line.  It is designed to absorb energy in a crash and MUST be on the breastbone.  If it's over the belly (where I see a lot of people position them), at best it won't do its job well, and at worst it can puncture the internal organs.

3.  No after-market products to position his head.  You know, those soft upside-down U-shaped things so their head doesn't bobble. Most infant seats come with one, and that's fine. But if it didn't come IN the box with the seat, the manufacturer does NOT want you to use it, and use of any positioning device - especially if you have to place it under the straps - will void any warranty on the seat.  Pretty much any owner's manual will tell you not to use it.  There are a lot of things on the market that make you feel like you need it, but don't do it.  The same goes for those fleecy J. Cole (or whatever the name is) things that people insert in the seat for the winter.  Get one of those covers for the seat that fits over it like a shower cap, but NOTHING that goes under the straps.

If your seat does NOT come with a positioning type of device, roll up receiving blankets and put them on the side of your baby's head.  As long as nothing goes BEHIND the head or under the straps.

Soooo...what to do in cold weather?  First, do not put your baby in a bunting, snow suit, coat, or anything like that.  They are too puffy, will interfere with you adjusting the straps, and will decompress in a crash and some babies (yes, what I'm about to say is true) will fly right out of their coat and straps.  Place your baby in his or her normal clothes in the seat, put on a hat and cover with a blanket. That's all you need.  Your mom and mother-in-law (note: this was not the case with MY mother and MIL, but I hear a lot of grandmas protest when I tell my patients this) will think you're being cruel for not putting a big snow suit on the baby while she's in the car seat.  Too bad. Not safe.


This is two-month-old Levi, which would be at the end of December.  See?  He's neither freezing nor unhappy.  Your bundle won't be, either. :)

There's a handful of other things I could tell you, but that's a good start.  When (WHEN!) you get your car seat inspected by a certified person, they will tell you even more. :)

Now.  Your kid is 12 months old.  Yay!!!  Time to turn them around and forward face, right?

*Scoreboard buzzer sound*  Maybe not so much.

Yes, according to most state laws, 12 months (or 20lbs, whichever comes first) is the legal time to turn them around forward facing.  But the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends rear-facing for at LEAST two years. Facing your buddy forward has nothing to do with a rite of passage or being more mature. It's just something you can now legally do, but it's not necessarily the best thing.

Now, if you don't like this, don't shoot the messenger.  I'm not judging you, calling you names, or pulling you off my FB friends list if you forward-face your kids.  If you have protests or other thoughts about extended rear-facing, take some time to look up the research and decide for yourself what is best for your kiddo.  I'm only informing.

The same rules apply to how to adjust the straps and chest clip.  Levi is in a Britax (say "BRIGHT-ax") Marathon 70 from Target. It's not the super-duper-space-shuttle-ready car seat, but it got high scores on consumer and safety reports, and Britax is a great brand.

Q: Why rear face?

A: A toddler's head is still proportionally large to the rest of the body.  For quite some time. It's the heaviest part of their body, and in even a minor rear-ending, will snap forward, and can even cause internal decapitation (look up "internal decapitation" on's a quick 1 or less video).  When rear-facing, the seat cradles the body and head and absorbs the impact, rather than the limbs and head flinging forward. No whiplash.

Q: But the legs are all crunched up.  They'll break in a crash.

A: It doesn't matter if their knees are against their nose.  There is no evidence cited from any study indicating that rear-facing children break their legs in a crash...and these studies are typically done in Europe, where in many countries it is completely normal for kids to RF until four years old.  Levi is a long kid and he sits criss-cross-applesauce, puts his feet all the way up on the back seat, or just sits spread-eagle.  He's never complained.

And if you think of it, think of how you drive. Or sit as a passenger.  Especially as the driver - and especially if you're tall - you don't get the luxury of extending your legs much. It's just the way it is.  We deal with it; so can they.

Furthermore, and this sounds perhaps rather crass, but it's what sold me: Broken leg - cast it. Broken neck - casket.

Q: But my kid cries.

A: Too bad.  You're the parent.  Sometimes I have to have wrestling matches with Levi to get him in his seat, because he can push his feet against the back seat and levitate himself off the seat.  So I tickle or blow on his tummy, or just plain old wrestle it out because I'm mom and I really don't care what he thinks about his position. I'd rather have him alive and not in a halo....of any sort.

There IS one huge disadvantage to rear-facing that I've seen:

Levi has never seen a train.

He's always facing the other way.  Oh well.  Someday, when he's in junior high and finally gets to see what's coming instead of what's already gone by, he'll see a train crossing.  But he does sit high enough to see out the back window and the side windows, and very much enjoys wow-wow-wowing at trucks, cars, dogs, people, and everything else. He in no way rides in a deprived manner.

There is a LOT more that can be said about rear-facing and the physics of crash forces that support extended rear-facing, but I'm not nearly on the uptake enough to speak to all of it, but I will say that it's compelling enough that I would not be surprised if it became law soon to rear-face your kids until the age of 2.  YouTube it, Google it, ask the car seat inspector about it WHEN you go for your initial (free!!!) inspection.  For all the energy we put into their cuteness and their diet and their discipline and their social-ness and their intelligence, this is definitely worth the small time investment to learn what's safest for all the time they will spend in the car.

I'm sorry for the long and boring post, but I don't spend precious Levi nap time blogging about things that I really don't care about.  I really, really, REALLY feel strongly about car seat safety, so please take this info to heart.  If you look around there are TOO many babies and toddlers incorrectly secured and it IS a matter of life and death for them, and if we as parents can spend however much time on Facebook, we can spend time researching what keeps them safest.  Right?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Twenty Months

I'm not normally one to post all about Levi or hallmark his milestones...partly because I'm lazy, and partly because I like to write and think about something else. I will make an exception. :)

My little boy - my baby!! - is 20 months old today.

In the past two weeks, his vocabulary has exploded.  He's always been a "talker" but nothing terribly sophisticated.  He invents his own words, or applies the same word to several things ("ba-ba" could be ball, Bible, or about three other things).  But recently he's been way more bold about actually mimicking what we say, and stringing two words together.

He loves his books.


He loves his daddy.

He loves to wear hats.

This is how he puts on his own hat.  Gangsta-style. :)


He loves doing something he thinks is hysterical and has a telltale squeal of delight that informs me, "You have GOT to come and check this out!"


Like here.  I came out of his room to see poor Molly looking like, "I hate my life."

He hates making messes and will pull out a cloth to wipe up his spills (oh, if only I could remain in the delusion that this will continue through the teen years!)


But he loves emptying drawers.

He's an amazing hugger.  Like choke-hold.

He has an incredible laugh.  I tell Matt that I wish I could bottle it up, and several years from now when he's out of the house, I can just uncap the bottle and listen to the infectious bubbly-ness of his giggle.

He knows he has a brother coming and knows he's in my tummy (though sometimes he'll point to Matt's or his own tummy).  He knows that his family consists of Mama, Papa, and _______.

He loves to imitate blowing his nose and throwing away the kleenex.  Last week at Meijer a man nearby sneezed and blew his nose and Levi about died laughing and started imitating him.  Which made the man crack up. Which made Levi ham it up even more. I really need to start charging for this little one-man act at the grocery store.

He loves taking out the garbage.  One scrap of paper or plastic shall not fall in our house without him whisking it up and demanding it be thrown away instantly.  Dog hair tumbleweeds shall not exist in our house without him pulling out the Dust Buster and demanding it be taking care of. Immediately.

He exhausts us.  The kid has unparalleled energy.  Getting out the door in less than 20 minutes is a monumental feat.

His heart is just as desperate for a Savior as our own.  Sowing seeds of grace into it every day is our greatest task.

We want him to be polite; but we don't want his manners to create a pridefulness that will give him cause to look down on others who are less "refined."

We want him to be intelligent; but we don't want him to think that success in the eyes of the world is the measure of his worth.

We want him to know the Lord; but we don't want him to make a profession of faith out of wanting to please his parents.

We want him to follow rules; but we don't want him to be crushed by rules and lawfulness. We hope he will be crushed by the tremendous and awesome grace and conviction of the Holy Spirit, and know that obedience follows a heart full of gratitude and love.

We want him to understand that he's not a "good boy" because he is inherently good of his own accord; rather that he is "good" before an awesome Lord because of the sanctifying work of Christ on his behalf.

What a tremendous weight of responsibility.
What a tremendous honor. 

We love you, sweet Levi.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Would you have known what to do??????

Soooooo...I was confronted with an awkward situation not too long ago.  It was one of those things that you, upon reading this, will probably be able to say, "Oh my word, I would totally have done/said/called ________..." because it seems painfully (and should be painfully) obvious.  If you wrote this and I read it, I would think the same thing. But you really never know until you're in it, and I found that I clearly did not do the right thing.  So out of mild embarrassment, and sort of as a public service announcement, I present you with said situation, and the correct solution at the end. :)

You pull up to a store. Say, a Christian book store,  in the late morning.  There are few cars in the lot, and HAHA!!! there's a primo spot right up by the door.  You park, next to an SUV that is also directly in front of the door and large display windows.

You get out to wrest your child out of his car seat, and note the SUV - black, windows cracked, engine running, no one in the car.  You think sarcastically, "Sure wish I were rich enough to keep my car running while I shop.." and then inwardly chastise yourself for thinking haughty sarcastic thoughts in front of - a Christian bookstore. ;)

And then you look again - at the risk of being snoopy, because the windows are very tinted - and are completely taken aback.  A little boy is looking back at older than Levi's age...from his car seat.  At the risk of being even more snoopy, you cup your hand around your eyes against the window to make sure there isn't a grandparent, sibling, or anyone else there.  There isn't.  The boy looks content.  He's not crying.  The day is becoming very warm but the sun is on the other side of the building so he's very much in the shade....and.....well...this is weird to see a kid by himself in a running car.......

You justify to yourself - how many times have you thought, "Doggone it - I do *NOT* want to unbuckle _____ AGAIN just to run into Walgreens for three seconds."  And then again, you inwardly chastise yourself at those moments,thinking - it takes a split second, the wrong person in the right place at the right time, the brake slips, the engine spontaneously combusts, whatever....and I'd live with my regret for the rest of my life.  Nope, can't do that, and so you unbuckle him.  Again.

Maybe the mom ran in for a quick second and is watching the car like a hawk.  Yeah, that must be it.  If you were at the grocery store, that would be a no-brainer - huge parking lot, kid alone in vehicle = a call to the police. But this is a tiny a small parking front of the large windows...does that change things?????

So you go in the store.  Not a soul - not even a cashier - can be immediately seen.  A small handful of people shopping there.  You later figure out that the woman who was literally sitting in the Bible aisle, surrounded by Bibles and books, completely surrounded by large bookshelves and clearly immersed in her choices, is the mother of the boy in the car.

Do you.......

Confront her???

Grab the license plate number and call the police?

What do you do???

Confronting her is a sticky enterprise. No doubt it'll not be received well - even if you're clearly in the right.

Calling the police seems sticky - will you have to wait there and be questioned?  Can you remain anonymous?  How do you remain anonymous when your car is clearly the one right next to hers, it'll be pretty easy to conclude it was you who called...and maybe she's a really awesome mom.  And now she's open to a CPS investigation that could entirely ruin the next few weeks for her. What's the fallout of that???

So you do the worst possible thing...nothing.  She spends her sweet time in the store, debates about getting her new Bible engraved, and then drives off.  Nothing happened to her toddler.  She probably will do it again.

I did nothing.  And I'm kicking myself for it.  I tried to give her the benefit of the doubt - I mean, there's a REASON I don't go to bookstores or any place that requires me to stand still for more than three seconds to make a decision. Taking an antsy little boy into the bookstore is a recipe for frustration at best.  That day I had my mom with me, so we could tag team while we looked at what we wanted while Levi systematically dismantled the Veggie Tales display, touched every book, keychain, and bookmark, and gawked at the candy. That lady was by herself. Undoubtedly, she did what she did so she could actually take her time. I get it.

But it was still........and I'm really not trying to judge HER, just make a discernment on this one decision........a very stupid thing to do.  Maybe our parents could do it 30 years ago, I don't know.  It's only takes a split second.  And your baby is gone. No trip to any store, no amount of peace and quiet, is worth that.

So what should you do???

Well, Matt works - (well, this is his last day, he's now an employee at Gentex in Zeeland!!!! WOOOOOOH!! No more commute!!!! - but that's a different post for a different day) in Grand Rapids police department.  He asked one of his cop friends.  The right thing to do is take the license plate number and call the police and let them handle it.  Confronting invariably leads to a confrontation that becomes an issue between you and the other person, and then it's on a totally different level of problematic.  In this case, assuming this is a normal mom with no prior "history," she'd get a quick visit from CPS with an admonition on why this should never be done, and then hopefully it's a done deal.  (And FYI - evidently the fact that the car was running puts it on a whole different level, apparently, and she could have been charged with abandonment.)

Soooo...if this happens again, I'll know what to do.  I hope it doesn't, but if it happens to you, don't make the same mistake I did and do nothing.  If something popped up on the news that night about that little boy, I would feel partially to blame, basically standing by and doing nothing when I could have.  It was just one of those instances that in retrospect - or even in theory - seems terribly obvious, but when you're in it, you're like UHHHHHHH.....UHHHHHHH....and we all hate those moments.  So, learn from my mental oblivion and don't let this happen again :)  And it's just another reminder that it IS worth it to do the carseat-wrestling-match multiple times.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Well, after nearly two years of not-very-in-depth but definitely experiential research, I have reached a conclusion. I can now name the most judgmental group of people I have ever encountered...and perhaps that group will surprise you...drumroll....


I am going to start this post by saying that I am the president of the Judgmental Mom club and I am directing my remarks as much at myself as anyone else, so your finger can point right at me and I will not - cannot - argue or defend myself.

Is there any one group of people that is more bent on sizing each other up and drawing swords - yet more in need of encouragement - than any other? The battle lines are endless, they criss-cross, connect, zig-zag - they're all over the map. Just like our thoughts and emotions. It's a mess. The homebirth moms vs. the medically-mediated-birth moms. The Babywise moms vs. Attachment Parents. Co-sleepers vs. Ferberizers. Vax vs. no-vax. Breastfeeders vs. formula. EXTENDED breastfeeders vs. those who quit before or at a year. Discipline methods. Food choices. Home schooling or public? Dating, courting, or "dourting?" Curfews. College or no college. We have thoughts, opinions, and blog posts to splash on Facebook to back up our views, from celebrities, pastors, and "mommy blogs."

Let's just get it all out in the open that we ALL feel insecure, like bumbling fools with these tender little hearts to raise, and we don't have a clue. We all wake up some mornings and think, How am I going to do this again today? It's fun to post pictures of our pudgy babies and silly kids on blogs and Facebook, but the reality is that having your hand at the plow to your child's heart is work, more work than you ever believed, and you'd sure like to see someone doing it worse than you, because it makes you feel a whole lot better about the ludicrous act you feel like you're pulling sometimes.

Right? Right?!

I read a post recently that gave me the encouragement AND conviction I needed (it's a shorty, I highly recommend checking it out). And that post is the springboard for the following thoughts and reality checks -

1. Christ gave us freedom in our decisions (Romans 14:16). All of our arguments and stances and positions are preferences - and yes, many of them are backed up by much research and there are clearly some things that are better than others - BUT - they are still decisions we can freely make when we want to do what's best for our families. It becomes a problem, as the author of the blog post sagely pointed out, when we use our preferences and decisions to build a fortress around ourselves inside which only those who have made the same decisions are welcome - and deem everyone else around us ignorant and stupid.

2. The condition of our child's heart and soul are the most important (Deuteronomy 6:4-9). Obviously, diet and education and reading to your kids and bonding and loving and adapting good sleep habits and all that are terribly important. But let's not construct idols while we're doing these things. God has a LOT to tell us in His Word about parenting...and it's all in the context of raising wise and discerning people (just about every verse in Proverbs), children who love Him and His law (Psalm 1), and who keep their way pure by guarding it according to His Word (Psalm 119). And even then we have no guarantee. You can do flashcards from sunup to sundown with your kiddo, and he may never be ahead of the other kids in reading. And you can instruct and train your child's heart and they may still rebel. Adam and Eve rebelled and they had the perfect Father and the perfect environment. Our kids will make their own choices no matter HOW hard we try to keep their feet from going to the left or to the right.

3. The Lord hates haughty eyes (Proverbs 6:17). There is simply no room for any of us to look down on each other for how we discipline (obviously I am not excusing abuse, I assume I don't really need to clarify that), what we feed our families, whether or not we vaccinate, etc. This comes down to a pride issue and there's no room for that in our relationships.

And finally...

4. The opposite of judgment is encouragement (Ephesians 4:29). A huge shout-out to my neighbor, Tab Wolters, for coining this very profound and simple truth!! We moms (women in general!!) need to encourage each other at every opportunity!!! In agreement or disagreement, the bottom line is we love our kids and would die for them. We make decisions for them that we truly believe is best. Whether we feed them green smoothies or milkshakes from McDonald's, we just plain love 'em and can't believe they've been entrusted to our care.

So join me in laying it down, ladies. :)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Another one of those days

Apparently Levi is afraid of thunder this year.

I found that out this morning when we had about five mild rumbles of thunder. My normally relatively-collected son morphed into a barnacle clinging to me for dear life. For hours. I have never seen him so absolutely crumpled.

Moms who have high-strung, clingy, and needy kids, I salute you. Some kids are just born that way. Mine wasn't, THANK GOODNESS (but #2 might, I can't speak too soon). How you get anything done is beyond me.

So we spent the morning absolutely entwined...there were times when he clung so tightly to me I really didn't even need to hold on to him myself. I somehow managed to sweep while he ate breakfast (thankfully, food trumps even fear for him), vacuum while he stood on my feet and buried his face in my pajama pants, put beef stew in the crock pot (mind you, to distract him from the thunder I did a tutorial - on the floor, with my cutting board and garlic press - on how to cut, peel, and mince garlic), and do five loads of laundry. Hey man, we have a busy weekend that includes me working tomorrow and all of this was front-burner stuff, thunder-fear, barnacles, or not. Meanwhile, I'm huffing and puffing like the fat kid on the playground while carrying 25 pounds of raw anxiety, thanks to being pregnant.

When he wasn't afraid, he was just full of it. I'm making lunch and little hands are grabbing at everything on the counter, pulling things off the table, launching into the fridge. No. No-no. No we don't touch that. No. Please stop. No-no. I said no, Levi. He wants to touch the toilet, the garbage, everything gross in the house. Everything we tell him not to touch every. single. day. He's spilling the dog's water. He watches Molly eat like a HAWK and won't let me get anything done until I've refilled the bowl right then and there. I fold laundry, he unfolds it. I fill, he empties. I put away, he takes out.

I'm not writing this to complain. I have zero spiritual application here nor will I try to find one. It's just one of those days, and I'm exceedingly grateful that these days are few and far between for me!! I'm BEAT! And it's only 1 in the afternoon!! I about sang with sweet relief when I put him down for his nap (I think he did too)!

What am I going to do with two??? How do you moms out there with three, four, or more kids do it?? Augh!

Monday, March 19, 2012

No guilt

I'm sitting here blogging and should be doing dinner prep.

I did a ton of housework this morning while I feel like I should have been playing with my little boy. After all, we've all read the poem about finger prints on the wall or whatever.

I gave my kid a sucker at my OB appointment this morning so he'd be occupied. It should have been an organic, non-GMO, gluten-free cracker or something like that (not dogging it, I have all those things)...but he really loves his "doctor appointment sucker" and gobbles it with reckless abandonment.

His lunch should have been colorful, thoughtfully and excitingly displayed...but it was a piece of torn up turkey lunchmeat, a hastily-cut piece of co-jack cheese, and some older-than-necessary cantaloupe, basically all thrown in one bowl (because I needed to make it to said OB appointment).

Aren't you so sick of shoulds? And feeling guilty? What's that all about?

I've worn a mantle of guilt since Levi made his roaring entrance two Octobers ago. You?

I've never had professional pictures taken of Levi. No chubby baby spilling out of a basket or wearing a sock monkey hat. No heartwarming photo of the three of us walking in a field together. Nada. I gave up taking many pictures of him at all because A) he won't stop moving for a nanosecond, and B) every picture ends up being of his hand reaching to the camera and his face threatening to cry.

He eats like a barbarian. He knows how to use a spoon and fork, and I've been pretty impressed when he actually takes up the effort. But he'd rather plow thru his food as a ten-finger experience rather than be neat. And I'm okay with that. The three of us enjoy dinner together, Matt and I enjoy conversation, and Levi eats with reckless abandonment (notice a theme?). He's pretty neat about it, it all ends up mostly in his mouth, and he's not picky. Not terribly civilized, but I'll take it.

I don't sit down and formally teach him all of his numbers and letters every day. Collectively gasp now. I'm not an "every moment is a teaching moment" mom. I guess I should be? He's got books aplenty, magnetic letters since he was about four months old (and every once in a while he runs by and hits the button on this little apparatus that sings the alphabet), and all that stuff. I figure he'll start stringing it all together when his brain has the right amount of myelin in the the right places.

I let him play alone (or follow a few inches behind me) while I clean the house. Because I want order and I want him to see that work is a good thing and a regular part of our day. But then I feel guilty because I feel like I should be doing things like taking him to the photographer and, you know, whipping out flash cards.

But we DO set boundaries. And pray with him. Apologize when we know we've lost our self-control. We're teaching him the importance of obedience and the word no. We're consistent with discipline. He might not listen to me and Matt all the time but he doesn't have to be told something twice when he's with the sitter.

I'm not trying to be bragadocious, I'm just saying that if you sit back and evaluate, you're really not doing everything wrong even though you feel like it some days. Ta-RUST me, there ARE some parents out there who ARE doing a LOT of things wrong AND ruining their kids' lives...and if you're currently reading this blog in any way or capacity, you are NOT one of those people.

God's Word has a lot to say about what being a good parent is and what the job entails. Believe me, it has nothing to do with how early your kid walks or talks, if they can recite Avagadro's number by a certain age, if their manners are perfect, whether or not their plate has a full rainbow of colors on it, or if their sippy has juice or water in it. Nothing. All of these are outward signs but say nothing about the condition of their hearts, over which we have zero control. All we can do is pray for them, examine the condition of our own hearts, and sow as much Truth into them (ours AND theirs) as we can.

It doesn't matter how many professional pictures you have.
Or how great your kid's manners are.
Or any of that.

You will not stand in front of the Throne of Grace and account for any of those things.

So (and I'm speaking to myself here) - stop feeling guilty.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Have nots

If by reading my blog you get the impression that I listen to the radio a lot, your impression is correct. It gives me good stuff to think about!

So I was listening to Midday Connection today (the one I referred to in my last post with all the cackling hens that normally drive me crazy), and one of the hosts opened up with talking about needing to run to the mall to get a pair of pants, and even though she found and bought what she wanted, she couldn't help but leave feeling like....a have not. Just the way the store clerk behaved, the way everyone in the store was dressed, the overall everything.

Do you ever just feel like a have not?? I'm embarrassed to admit that I do. In a lot of situations. I feel like a have not when I go shopping uniform is old jeans and a sweatshirt. In the summer a pair of sandals (the same pair I've been wearing for over 10 years) is nearly welded onto my feet. My highlights are half grown out most of the time, my nails are manicured by my teeth when they start to bug me, and there may or may not be makeup on my face. And I'm surrounded by people with spiffy smart little outfits, cutesie little skinny jeans and fashionable boots, perfectly styled and colored hair, and sassy handbags.

I feel like a have not on Facebook. I think, Wow, they have a really nice house... or Goodness, they got to go on another fancy vacation... or She always has great outfits on...or whatever.

Kids half my age (fortunately, people half my age technically are still kids...not for long...) have Smart phones, sleek computers, nice cars, and killer wardrobes.

I feel like a have not at church. There, I said it. I'm not trying to knock anyone, nor am I thinking of anyone in particular, and I know that Sunday truly is the one day for most people to look nice, and most of them do it out of respect. But let's face it, do you ever just feel like you're in a fashion show for the Almighty? But I know that someone next to me feels like a have not, because I try to dress nicely too. It's just in the same pair of black pants every single week with the hem that keeps falling down. BTW - this is why Matt always wears jeans to church. Because there are a lot of people there who truly are have nots. And we've heard stories of people coming to church who didn't feel like they could come back unless they had a suit, because that's what everyone else was wearing and they didn't fit in.

My point here is not to get anyone to write back to me and say, "Oh! But YOU have a nice house too! You always look nice! You wear nice clothes!" so I feel a little better. Nor is it my point to make anyone feel guilty. My point is, I'm NOT a have-not. Not at all. *Very* few of us in this country truly are.

I heard once that comparison is the death of gratitude. That's the bottom line. When I compare myself with others and let that comparing attitude settle into my heart, I completely fail to see what I already have and abandon any opportunity to be grateful for it. And that's just flat-out wrong. And it hardly glorifies God. It's basically me thumbing my nose at Him and saying He could've done better. Think of when your kids/spouse/friends complain when you've given them so much. Yeah no.

So I need to reconsider when I feel like a have not. My treasure can't lie here what difference does it make?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Three words

So today I was listening to Midday Connection on Moody - not a show I normally listen to, it kind of reminds me of a Christian version of The View, with a bunch of cackling hens who all talk over each other. But sometimes their discussion piques (note: not peaks - grammar police here) my interest, and today I briefly listened in.

In their jabbering, someone asked the question, "What three words describe your life right now?" I was intrigued by the very honest answers some of the ladies gave.

I remember getting the "use three words to describe yourself" question in an interview one time, and I was like, uhhhhhh....uhhhhhhh....

It's a really good question.

So what three words would I use to describe my life right now?


Oh my word, there is zero room for spontaneity in our life right now. Every day, every hour, the same. Get up at the same time. Read the same books over and over and over at the same time. Walk at the same time. Snack. Nap. Quiet time. Lunch. Read. the same books over and over and over...witching hour - witching hour - witching hour (that's 4-6pm)...bath, bed, collapse, repeat.

It's just the way life is right now. Levi thrives on his schedule and that's the way it is. I tried to move him off his morning nap, but he really wants/needs it still, so yep, we're still bound to a two-nap schedule. Spontaneous lunches/coffee dates/whatever are just on hold for right now.


Very. Very. Simple. It kind of goes along with the structure. We read books. We get our jollies throwing balls down the stairs. And playing Wheerrrrrrreeee's LEVI? I say the same things over and over and over again, like, Do we stand on the furniture? NO. I retrieve the dog's ball from under the couch at least 23 times daily. Two pairs of my jeans blew holes in the knees in one week from crawling on the floor so much. I put on makeup only when it's an absolute social necessity (and no, shopping at Meijer is NOT an absolute social necessity) OR if I want some semblance of variety in my day and eyeliner would do the trick. I wear the same tshirt during the day that I wear to bed. We walk around the neighborhood and make truck sounds, repeat made-up words to each other, and...well, there's my day in a nutshell.


Not as in, feed the poor (though you're welcome to feed me any time), but I just stand in absolute need. In being a wise wife. In disciplining my son, shepherding his heart, and being a student of his heart. In the moments when my cup runneth over with frustration. In the areas of my life right now where there is so. much. fear. that doesn't belong there. I'm just a simple wife/mom/friend with no makeup and holes in her jeans who desperately needs the comfort, direction, and rest that can only come from her Savior.

That about sums up my life right now....what are YOUR three words??

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

THAT lady

True Confession time:

I'm that lady.

The one who stands in line at the grocery store and places copies of Better Homes and Gardens and Cooking Lite over Glamour, Cosmo, Health, and Redbook.

I'm not anti-glamorous, anti-health, or anti-cosmopolitan (whatever that might mean). I'm not even discounting the fact that those magazines actually contain helpful and interesting information that I am interested in reading as well. I don't oppose anyone who wants to buy one or all of them. I don't.

But I AM anti-half-naked. And I have a wide-eyed little boy in my cart whose eyes (in a very short amount of time here) are going to become, um, even wider (in more ways than one, might I add). Is this how I want him to see women?

Maybe someday I'll have a little girl in my cart. Is this how I want her to see herself? Enslaved to impossible standards of beauty and success? Our culture calls it liberation. But can we call it bondage?

They pick these things up at an early age. My friends who are kindergarten teachers already see little boys become riveted, transfixed, and stupefied by mothers who come to help the class with their bosoms pouring out of their shirt. Talks about modesty and respect have to happen sooner rather than later.

Already I whisper in Levi's ear when we approach a Victoria's Secret at the mall - with it's floor-to-ceiling advertisement for a push-up bra - Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart, son. He doesn't know what I'm talking about, I know that. But soon he will. Soon he will start feeling the undertow of a culture that vomits sexuality all over his face, and an industry that hopes to claim him - and make him a lifelong addict - by the age of 8.

Some days I want to weep when I see that I'm at the downstream end of Class 5 rapids, feeling like I need to paddle UP with a blow-up ring and a spoon, clutching the hand of my child. See dignity and worth in girls, my sweet boy. Daughter, clothe yourself with strength and dignity, not deceitful charm. Point it out to me when I do not walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called! Do not buy the lie that how you look, how you dress, how-to-catch-a-man...those are what you strive for.

This weekend is the Superbowl, and please bear this in mind: the largest sporting event of the year is also the largest sex-trafficking event of the year. No, not prostitutes who are "choosing" this lifestyle (and please don't think that most prostitutes choose their lifestyle, by the way, many of them are coerced, bullied, and abused into it), but most of them minors who are sold into sexual slavery and trafficked over our borders. Where there is a demand, it will be met.

It starts with a look.

And gives way to curiosity.

And leaves us stuffing our faces with the fruit of bondage. Yet wanting more.

Desire when it has conceived... birth to sin....

...which fully grown brings forth death.

And THAT is why I am "that" lady.

Friday, January 6, 2012

All in one week


...aaaaannnnd Friday.

This is seriously the weirdest winter in my life. Sled on Monday and wagon on Friday...and it's January, not March.