The Baby is Now in School

It may only be two days a week. Of those two days, it may be for less than four hours a time. Even still, I feel like my tiny one has grown up in some big, important way.

first-day-of-schoolRowan began going to Montessori a couple weeks ago, and it hasn’t taken him long to get over the initial shock of being in a room full of toddlers and no mamas.

Griffin also has grown in that time, acting as a model big brother throughout the entire process. He meets me in the toddler room and helps to put Rowan’s indoor shoes on, telling him it will all be ok. He even sings the little song we made up when Griffin was in Rowan’s situation:

Mama Comes Back,

Daddy Comes Home,

We Have Fun at Schoo-oo-ool!

(No one said the song was going to win any awards.)

Looking back on his first day, most of what I can remember is that I woke up with a migraine. After dropping him off, worrying that he just wasn’t going to be able to handle being away from me and feeling nauseous the entire car ride home, I got into the bed, pulled the covers over my face, and tried to sleep off the headache. The few hours he was in school was vital for me to survive the migraines which have been longer and stronger lately.

Since then, Rowan’s been eating more for snacks and lunches when he’s there, cuddling up with the teachers, and doing so much independent work that Mrs. Heather has a hard time snapping pictures to document it because he’s always on the move.

I would call that quick progress!

Hibernation

Since having kids I feel at times as though my brain has gone into hibernation. It’s resting up for when more than just the routine motions of feeding/comforting/playing/and putting to sleep are required.

me-and-roCase-in-point, I’ve been desperate to write a book for years. I’ve started on numerous projects, only to have them fizzle away. It’s not because the story simply isn’t there. It’s because I don’t have the brain capacity to pull anything from my head except for a beginning. But let me tell you, those beginnings are all really great, because I’ve edited them until they’re practically unrecognizable.

My process is this: I start to write, or draw, because lately I’ve been on a children’s book kick. But I feel like I have the attention span of a toddler. Literally something can pop in the house and suddenly I’m reminded that I need to go fold the clothes I left in a pile on the couch. Actually, to be honest I’m suddenly reminded that I need a spoon of peanut butter, and on my way to the pantry I catch site of the book I randomly put down on the kitchen counter three days ago, so I read standing up for awhile before the need for coffee kicks in.

The point is, I feel like no real work can be done, because my brain simply shuts down after a few minutes of work.

I thought this “mommy fog” was only supposed to happen when you had a newborn. Or am I doomed to a life of haphazard wandering around my house?

A First Birthday Carnival

This post is a long time in the making, but I wanted to share the wonderful day we had celebrating Rowan as he turned one!

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I went easy on myself and chose a carnival theme – it’s so easy to find decor for this type of party! We had delicious, fun food and drinks, and even a game or two to keep the older kids occupied.

All of the games came from Oriental Trading, and I found a few places online that carried really fun temporary tattoos. That was my favorite part of the party! Even the grandparents were sporting some tattoos before the day was through.

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The Ferris Wheel centerpiece was handmade by my father – isn’t it amazing? I wanted something that would be cute for the party but would also serve as great nursery decor after everything was said and done.

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As for costumes people wore, we picked a few hats from our stash of halloween costumes, and I found quite a few carnival masks from Amazon. But the best ones were from my favorite seller on Etsy – Mosey! She not only made the cutest felt animal masks, but she also did all of the bunting, Rowan’s adorable hat, and his birthday bib.

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After hesitantly poking his finger in the cake, he dug right in – but he requested a spoon for the process once he saw that the cake was getting more on his bib than in his mouth!

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Punching Holes in the Glass Ceiling

Today someone voiced that there were eighteen million cracks in the glass ceiling at this very moment. In a way this is correct, because if a female is elected President of the United States, it will certainly be history in the making.

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However, as I continue to look through my various social media feeds I’m not seeing all those cracks. I see a little space carved out perhaps, allowing women to climb up further in certain areas. Two of my role models have only in the last few weeks stepped out on their own and bravely voiced their beliefs, regardless of the criticism it was sure to arouse. But because of that I saw women verbally abusing each other with an “I’ll pray for your soul” attached at the end for good measure.

I’m seeing women objectify their own bodies and calling it feminism, perpetuating the idea that we are images that need to be on display at all times. What I don’t see is a guy showcasing his body and calling it male power, grabbing himself in the name of freedom, or loudly singing about sexual positions to an audience of high schoolers and calling it his male right. They do all that stuff, sure. But they aren’t trying to attach it to a holy cause.

I see judgment from all sides, throwing boulders at one another and calling it Christianity.

Hey ladies, let’s scrap like cats because someone doesn’t want to breastfeed at all, or decides to nurse well into the toddler years. Let’s “slay” as we judge each other based on our political preferences. We can rally at the cause of feminism by purchasing a push-up bra so that we can feel good about ourselves while we’re at it. But who even decided that high breasts were something to feel empowered about?

I think our glass ceiling is being held in place by each other’s hands, and until we can get past these things nothing will be shattered. We will only see individuals cutting their own holes and climbing through – wrinkles and all – while the rest of us scramble for youth and other people’s affirmation, not even noticing when someone escapes.

And as long as Sexy Witch is the number one costume choice of adult females, I think most of us will continue burning each other at the stake, while a very few make their own ladders and climb up and out.

Wake up, You Sleepy Head

sleepI love this picture of Rowan as a tiny baby. He looks so peaceful, asleep in my mom’s living room. Amazing that he could do that with everyone sitting around him, staring at him being adorable just by breathing.

God is always asking me to get out of bed before I feel ready. This has been going on for years, and sometimes I’m very diligent about it, whereas at others I hit snooze or forget to set an alarm in the first place.

But over the last week or so I’ve been getting even more of those messages from Him. At church this week the pastor made a passing comment about rising early, and then later that day I read it somewhere again, not even in connection with God, but with the same message of getting my butt out of the bed before the last possible minute.

Now, I’m an early riser anyway. It’s not as if I’m throwing on a sweatshirt and grabbing the kids a granola bar for the road as we leave for school each morning. I always get up, get ready, put on makeup, make them a good breakfast. Each and every school day. On days off my oldest and I may snuggle a bit, but the little guy generally demands milk, so I’m not sleeping in.

But what does all that sound like? It sounds like me. I get up early so that I can look good. Preparing the kids’ breakfast doesn’t take that long, really. The majority of my morning routine is spent in front of the mirror if I’m really being honest.

So Monday I tried something new. Nothing groundbreaking, but a test-run of sorts. I got up when my husband’s alarm went off at 6am, leaving me about 45 minutes of quiet time before my oldest came running into the room. I didn’t put on makeup or change out of pajamas. In fact, I only brushed my teeth and then got back in bed with my bible and devotional.

But listen, Monday was a GOOD day. I didn’t have any meltdowns or moments of huge stress. I was even able to take the kids to Target, come home and make lunches, and put them down for naps without too much fuss on their part or mine.

Did God give me some kind of epiphany for taking the time to rise and meet him, as I was? Not in any lighting bolt, dramatic fashion. But I think maybe he did in a “gentle whisper” kind of way. This is what your days can be like if you give them to me. This is how you could mother if you allow me to nurture you first.

But guess what? Each day has been more and more of a struggle to grab that time. Monday was easy – I didn’t have to take the kids anywhere. I didn’t have to put on my mask so that humanity wouldn’t freak out over a bare face. But the world tells me I need to cover these dark circles and blonde lashes, so I do it.

Today I read 1 chapter of the bible while nursing my son. Griffin back-talked me after breakfast for one of the very first times, and I didn’t respond as I know I should have.

Would the outcome have looked different if I had gotten up with enough time to start my day with God? I’m not sure. But maybe I need to do more than a 1 day experiment to find out.

 

Present over Shopping

Here’s a fact about me. I’m always on the hunt for something. I love to research, whether it be our next vacation, an updated leather jacket, or a new home. And all that researching usually amounts to absolutely nothing.

Most of the time, I can spend hours scrolling the internet, walking up and down aisles, or driving down neighborhood streets, and I don’t make a single decision. I’ve just wasted time.

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately, though. Specifically, memoirs by authors like Glennon Doyle Melton and Shauna Niequist, two people with wonderful – albeit very different – writing styles. But the common denominator of both is this: As women we must learn to be fully present where we are, how we are created.

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Something I’ve realized through all this nonfiction therapy is that my researching is an addiction. An addiction wrapped in the guise of shopping, or planning, or bettering my family. Especially in the last few weeks, I’ve even felt the binge and purge as it’s happening. While looking for a new pair of boots online I spent hours and placed numerous shoes in my shopping cart (the binge). Then they just sat there without ever purchasing (the purge). I would wander into a store with the intention of finding a gift for someone else, and then I get this manic feeling, like I’m running out of time or someone is going to take everything away from me before I can get to it.

I need these things. I deserve to have this. This is what would complete my closet.

This is the binge. The purge is that I buy it and then return it the next day. Or I keep it but purge by vomiting my guilt out to my husband as I tally up what I’ve spent.

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But this is in no way limited to shopping for clothes. I binge looking at vacations rentals. I binge birthday party ideas for my children. I binge on researching what book I’ll read next. And sometimes I either forget to purge, or think I can handle all this consumption. This is when I become sick.

When I become sick, the binging no longer works. I can tell I’m spending too much time looking up information or cities or black jeans because I’m doing it while nursing my son, or feeding breakfast to the kids. I feel a thrill when I begin a new hunt, and then get an anxious feeling moments later; a nauseous feeling like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be.

That nausea is the holy spirit, gently guiding me back to the present. I have to learn to be in the here and now – not planning the future, or my wardrobe. The spirit has me lay down my phone and look into the eyes of my baby. The spirit asks me to enjoy my coffee while the children giggle about milk mustaches and jelly kisses. The spirit guides me to meditation instead of spending nap times searching for the perfect Halloween costumes.

Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is Freedom.

That nausea is my invitation to a better way. It’s a wake-up call to get out of my head and back to what makes me truly come alive.

Today I’ve come up with a new plan for my life. When I find myself slipping into research mode – whether that be shopping for kids costumes or vacation homes – I will either read or write. If the children are present, I can either read to them, or we can play a game.

There’s no room in my life right now for anything other than today.

Primal Chicken, Broccoli, and Artichoke Casserole

This weekend Nashville was hit hard by Winter Storm Jonas. Rain on Thursday night quickly turned to early morning sleet, followed by heavy snow that fell throughout the day and into the evening hours. I can honestly say I’ve never seen snow like that in the South. It was wonderful!

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SnowAlthough the roads were slick and our cul-de-sac dangerous to drive on, my parents and brother braved the elements and came to spend Saturday with us. We had cozy clothes, a roaring fire, plenty of mimosas, and a comforting casserole for dinner.

It was a Primal feast! Since my husband and I are right in the middle of our 21 Day Primal Blueprint Challenge, we knew we couldn’t overindulge too much, so I pulled out what I had in my fridge and freezer, got my mom to bring over a few supplemental items, and we threw everything together into a wonderful casserole.

Broccoli CasserolePrimal Chicken, Broccoli, and Artichoke Casserole

Ingredients

  • 1-1.5 lbs Organic Free Range Chicken Tenders
  • 1/2 tsp Basil
  • 1/2 tsp Parsley
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Meal
  • 1/4 Cup Coconut Flour
  • 2 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Onion Powder
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 bag frozen Broccoli
  • 1/2 bag Trader Joe’s (or similar) frozen Artichoke Hearts
  • 1 head fresh Broccoli (or 1 pack precut fresh broccoli)
  • 1 cup Shredded Cheese (I shredded some Greyere and Kerrygold Dubliner)
  • 1 cup Primal Kitchen Mayo
  • 2 Tbsp. Sour Cream
  • Avocado Oil
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350. In a ziplock bag, place chicken tenders and toss them with some avocado oil, then add the basil and parsley, along with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to your taste. Coat everything then arrange on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then cut or pull apart into bite size pieces and set aside.

Using the same method as above, put bite size pieces of the fresh broccoli in a bag with avocado oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Arrange frozen broccoli on a separate parchment lined baking sheet and drizzle with avocado oil topped with salt and pepper. Both of these will go into the oven for 30 minutes, or until edges of broccoli begin to char.

While all this is baking, combine mayo, sour cream, garlic powder, onion powder, sea salt and cheese in a large bowl. Allow artichoke hearts to thaw enough to cut each in half, then add into this mixture, along with the almond meal and coconut flour.

When broccoli and chicken have cooled enough so as not to completely melt the cheese, combine everything and put in an 8×12 baking dish.

Bake for 30 minutes and have two or three helpings!