Wednesday, April 26, 2017

My Name is Mandy and I struggle with ANGER

It was a surprising day for me when I found out about all this anger and bitterness that was rooted deep inside of me.  It just sprang up out of me all of a sudden.  I never thought that my own children would be the catalyst in me expressing just how angry of a person I was, but they were.  I taught 6 and 7 year olds, a lot of them, all at once, in one small room.  It was like a circus all the time.  I often felt like I lived in crazy town when I taught and while I did get mad and irritated at times, I never remember seeing my anger explode out of me like I have with my own flesh and blood.

I remember the first time I got really angry as a mother.  Ava was maybe 8 months old and would not eat.  She refused anything I would give her.  After a few days of this, I started to get worried and my worry can often come out as anger.   Anyway, I remember being so rude to this sweet little 8 month old and I remember thinking that she was being defiant.  I had even convinced Curtis that she was trying to drive me crazy with her not eating because she knew how important it was for me as a mom to have her eat and she wanted to be disobedient.  So, a few more days passed and she still wasn't eating.  I took her into the doctor and she had an oral virus.  She wasn't eating because it hurt to eat and I was being so hard on her and not a nice mommy at all.

And then, I had Sally.  She tops the cake.  No-one can get me angry like this child.  She is stubborn and so strong willed.  I know those of you who talk to me on a regular basis hear me say this all the time and I know most of you will see some of her behaviors.  But, you only see a glimpse of what life is like with her.  She is hard.  Hard.  Haaaaaaaaaard.  She cries or whines the majority of the day, and waking up to it and hearing her go to bed like that is not pleasant.  Noises never seemed to bother me, not in a chaotic classroom filled with 25 different little voices all needing something at the same time.  I mean, I never thought noises bothered me.  The bunches of toys that the girls have that all talk or play music or whatever, those don't bother me.  But the whining and nagging and crying sound of Sally's voice really grates on my every. last. nerve.

I know that isn't a nice thing to say.  I wish I didn't feel that way.  And I have felt that way so much of the time.  Too much of the time.  Most of the time.

And that is when I get angry.  And it isn't pretty.  I hate it about me.  I don't even really know where it truly stems from.

Today has been brutal.  This week has been brutal.  It has been depleting.  I have tried really hard to absorb my mind, eyes, and ears with all things pleasing and good and godly and I feel like all I have done this week is fail.  One miserable failure after another.  I cried out to God today telling Him how upset I was, how hopeless I felt, how I felt like maybe I wasn't cut out to do this mom thing, after all.

I am not sharing this for anyone to feel sorry for me.  I am writing this because I am tired of being "fake".  I am tired of the fake ness all over social media.  I am tired of pretending things are perfect, which I have never really done, but there is so much perfection that surrounds me and I can't take it anymore.

We all are broken some where and in some way.  We all have our sin nature.  Anger happens to be one of mine.  And I know I am not alone.  When Revive our Hearts does a 4 day podcast on "pitchin a fit" you know that you are bearing this struggle along with other moms and dads.  I don't say that to justify my behavior.  While I know it is ok to have the angry emotion, it is not ok to act out sinfully in anger.  When Sally is having one of the millionth moments in a day, I get so angry and when I think about what I am angry about, I think about how long will this be my life and my experience with her?  Will this ever end?  Will God use this for His glory?  I am ruining her for life?  And the list and thoughts go on and on.

I am sharing my struggle with you all so maybe others will find comfort that they are not alone.  That it is ok to be real.  To be honest.  It is ok that we all have brokenness. My brokenness can be and will be made beautiful in God's perfect timing.  If I weren't broken then there would be no need for Jesus, and we all know I desperately need Him.  He makes His Power perfect in my weakness.  Where I am weak, He is strong.

I want to share one other thing with you.  I am working really hard to get to the root of these issues.  I don't want to live my life angry, I don't want my anger to be the majority of the experiences my family has with me, and I don't want to give this part of me to my kids.  I am in recovery for my anger and have begun a step study through Celebrate Recovery for it.

This week has been a doozy.  I know we are all muddling through something in our lives.  I know I am not alone.  Shed some light on your brokenness.  There is beauty to behold there.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Evie 14 months

Evelyn, 14 months old and you are just growing and growing.  I really LOVE this age.  It is a lot of fun.  You are super curious.  You are super sweet.  You are super fast.

I really slacked off this month on getting pictures of you.  I am sorry.

Here are some fun, cute things about you this month:

  • You are the cutest when you walk towards me with a big smile and your arms outstretched.  I melt.  
  • You love to go play and then come in and check on me with a tight hug around the leg.
  • You love to dance and try and sing to music. 
  • You love the song Feel It by Toby Mac.  
  • You love to escape with remotes and phones.  
  • You chew on everything.  
  • You put everything in your mouth.
  • You ate potting soil the other day.
  • You love your new independence with playing in the playroom.
  • You are clingy to mommy and prefer to be held by mommy.  
  • You are drinking from a sippy cup, but you like a bottle to have your morning milk as soon as you wake up.  

You are eating pretty much everything you are given.  You do have an aversion to several green things.  You aren't a fan of peas and cucumbers. But you will eat broccoli.  You ❤️ LOVE ❤️ grapes🍇!!!!  You love bread and crackers, cheese quesadillas, peanut butter sandwiches, breakfast bars, milk, turkey and many other things.

You get pretty bad eczema.  So, we have to lather you down every night with aquaphor.  Because of your skin issues you get a bath every other night.

You are getting lots and lots of teeth.  But you have been a trooper about it.

This is one of your favorite hanging out spots.  

playing in the cabinet with Sally Jean

Love your squishy face!

We are so blessed to have you.  You are a mess.  But a lovable one!  I don't know what I would do without you.

March-April 2017

Wow! March was certainly a month that will not be forgotten soon.  I think we have had almost 5 full weeks of someone being sick.  It all started with Curtis, then me, then Sally with several things, then Ava, and now Miss Evelyn.  I keep wondering when and if it will ever end.  We are totally looking forward to an end here hopefully soon, but if not, God is still there.

One thing I have learned through all this is how He does provide you with what you need to get through any and all circumstances.  I have had mostly positive thinking through all this.  He has kept me grounded and thankful.  There have been some days that were more difficult than others because being isolated is not my favorite.  He did provide some moments for me to get out here and there and I am truly thankful for that.

In this house, with the kids so small and touching everything and everyone and not understanding boundaries, it is only a matter of time until the sick one passes it on to the next and so on.  I am hoping and praying for God to put a shield around me so I don't get the sickness the girls have had because I  think it would take me out for a day or two and I need to be rested and well to take care of the girls.  Anyway, so far I have been protected.  Hand washing has become my best friend and my worst enemy.  It has kept me well, but my hands are so dry right now.

In other news, the girls and I used our time at home wisely diving into preschool.  We did many things this month,  We did some activities that were dealing with Dr. Seuss.

We started learning about the letter K and snakes because Ava had snakes on the brain.  We made snakes and decorated them, painted them, and did one with a pattern (except Sally.  I just let her decorate all her snakes.) We also put a snake in number order starting at one and ending at 10.
Ava did an AB pattern with flowers and hearts.
Sally had fun decorating with foam stickers.

Number order snake
We love Letter of the Week from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  We did the kite activity.  Ava had to put the number of kite bows on the string that matched the number on the kite.  We also did the Big and Little Kk kite sort.  

Ava also used the Letter of the Week from Confessions of a Homeschooler to graph.  She had to count the number of bows on the kite and color in that many blocks.  

Here they used the Letter of the week from Confessions of a Homeschooler to dot paint the letter K and trace the letter K.  They trace the letter at the beginning of each day.  I usually get Sally on board with anything involving dot paints, stickers, glitter, glue and scissors.  So, she loves the dot paints.  

We do Calendar and Circle time each day.  We sing the Days of the Week song, Months of the year song, a couple others.  We go over our shapes and numbers.  We also are beginning to learn about coins.  We are currently working on recognizing them and knowing their worth.  Soon, we will begin counting pennies.  We also learn a Bible verse during this time, read a Bible story and read a few others stories.  We always read a book for fun and one that is about whatever we are learning about.  So this week, it was snakes.  

Ava is learning scissors skills which are a lot harder to teach than I realized.  My students always came to me knowing how to do this.  I give the Preschool and Kindergarten teachers praise for teaching this to the kids.  It is not an easy motor skill for them to grasp (at least not overnight).  

Ava is working on some sight words.  This is her least favorite thing to do at school.  I am currently working on some ideas to make this more fun and interesting for her.  
 I found this pattern sheet from  Ava loves to work on patterns and is starting to get the hang of it.

Some of their work from Dr. Seuss and St. Patricks Day. 
Hung our snakes on the wall. 

Ava traced her hand all by herself and added
rings to each finger.  

Some of their snakes they decorated.  

Next week we will begin working on the letter L and doing some spring and Easter activities.

Hoping we are on the other side of all the sickness soon!


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Evie 13 months

Oh Evelyn,

I am so thankful for you.  I am thankful for your radiant presence.  You are so sweet and happy.  You love life.  You love getting into things.  You love learning new things.  You love new experiences.  You just love everything except getting your boogers sucked out, having something taken away from you, or separation from people.  Other than that, you are good to go.  And it is so refreshing.

You have struggled this month with allergies, I think.  Although, those so called allergies are turning into a cough.  So, maybe you have a cold on top of allergies.  I don't know.  Your little face looks pitiful and it is red from being wiped so much.  Your eyes have some gook coming out of them.  At first glance I thought it was pink eye, but it doesn't seem to be that.

You like to roam around the house with your milk cup.  You are actually eating the berbers stage 3 astonishes me, although they don't seem as bad as they use to be.  You love yogurt and Pancake Saturday has become a favorite of yours, too.

You are preciously attached to your horsey.  You love to play peek-a-boo when we lay you in your crib.  You go to naps pretty easily.  You hardly ever cry when we lie you down and when you wake up.  You are into everything!!!  I can't hardly take my eyes off of you and you are fast.  Fast on your feet and fast with your hands.  You do show a determination sometimes and you don't like us to squash that.  You can also be quite rough, but how could you not with your sisters manhandling you all the time.

You say mommy in the cutest way possible.  And you get super excited when daddy comes home and say daddy, daddy.  You like to help me put the wet laundry in the dryer.  You like to sneak into the trash.  You put absolutely everything you can find in your mouth.  You love to eat snacks in your high chair.  You love to go in the playroom and play with the big girl toys.  You will still sit in the bouncy chairs for me.  You love to get into the cabinets and just sit there.

Facts about you:

  • You drink 18-20 ounces of Vitamin D milk
  • You eat 3 meals per day plus a few snacks
  • You eat Stage 3 foods
  • You drink from a bottle and a sippy cup
  • You take 2 naps (each about 2 hours)
  • You sleep anywhere from about 10-11 hours per night
  • You are getting some molars
  • You wear 12-18 month clothing
  • You are in the nursery with Mr. Eric now
  • You are walking more like a champ
  • You are still in a rear facing infant seat
  • You have some eczema on your thighs and back
  • You wear size 4 diapers

I am so thankful God gave you to our family.  You have us all wrapped around your little finger.  I pray all the time that your joy will abound and that you will be a refreshing presence to anyone you come in contact with.  Just continue being you and God will use you to do great joyous things!  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

SaLlY jEaNs 3 YeAr LeTteR

This little girl went from this... 
to what seems like a matter of days.  

Oh Sally Jean, how I wish I could say every moment spent with you has been refreshing and pleasant...but I cannot tell a lie.  While you are entirely exhausting, moody, whiny, stubborn, hard headed, tough as nails, super independent, strong willed, too smart for your own good (and ours), sometimes disobedient- there is a lot of things about you that are great and fun.  And even some of these hard character traits that you exhibit now will be good for you one day, but when you are an irrational preschooler (add that to the list above) it is hard to navigate through each day and to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  But, even through all of this, I love you so.  
 You march to the beat of your own drum.  You are a free thinker.  You aren't going to let anyone dictate who you are.  You wanted to be Cinderella for Halloween. Not because Ava was, but because you love Cinderella and wanted to wear a blue princess dress.  I had a beautiful princess dress waiting for you, but it wasn't blue and it wasn't Cinderella and it just wasn't going to do.  So, off to the costume store we did go, and you went right up to the wall of costumes, found a blue Cinderella dress and that was that.  You are a girl who knows what you want.

 You got to go to Disney World again.  This time it was a lot harder with you.  On this trip, I learned first hand that you are a homebody and a stickler for a consistent schedule.  The element of surprise does not bode well with you.  You did have moments on this trip that truly captivated you, but there were also moments on this trip that catapulted my anger.  A control freak like your mother and as stubborn as a mule, like your name sake...this trip was unforgettable on many levels.  However,  I am itching to go again (maybe because I am a glutton for punishment or I am hopeful that you will be older and the next trip will be more enjoyable).

 Your love for tutus, dress up clothes, toys in general, and wearing shades and hats is unprecedented.  You sleep in your princess dresses that you put over your pajamas after we tuck you in bed.  It was amusing looking back at all your pictures over the past year and seeing the amount of princess dresses, hats, and sunglasses you wore.
 You are also what I affectionately call my little Miss Sassafras.  And I think this picture portrays that name for you perfectly.

 This year was the year of the glasses and patch for your diagnosis of strabismus.  You handled all the doctor appointments, the experiments with the eye glasses and the daily donning of your eye patches very well.  Unfortunately,  none of that was going to solve the problem, but it was necessary until surgery could be performed to keep the eye muscles from getting any weaker.
This was also the year you handed over your pacifier...willingly.  It was AMAZING!  Considering your very strong personality and your huge dislike of anything not going your way and your comfort with consistency, I thought this would be a huge struggle.  But, you did this all on your own.  One night you just handed us your pacy and said you didn't want it anymore.  We threw it away and that was all there was to that.  I was wishfully thinking that maybe you would be this easy when it came to potty training...the hysteria of that!  What was I thinking?
When Evie was real little, you liked to sit next to me and pretend to feed your babies.
 You would like to escape with my phone all the time and look at pictures.
Spending time with daddy is one of your favorite things.
 Playing outside a close 2nd favorite thing.
Hanging with your sister running in 3rd place.
 You are super goofy and will do such bizarre things.  You loved to fit yourself into the toy pack and play that we got you guys for your babies one Christmas.
You had precious little curls.

 You are your PopPops girl.  And your Mimi's.  They don't know what to do with you half the time and think you are wildly funny.

 Those little eyes going cross here make me smile.  While I am so thankful Dr. Saunders was able to correctly align them, there are days, I must admit that I miss that cross eyed look I would get from you.   I looked at that for a year and it grew on me.  I know it needed to be fixed and I am thankful we had the means, the insurance the right experienced doctor to do it.

 Every time I look at this face, even when you are throwing a temper tantrum or have yourself totally out of sorts because of who-knows-what, I look at that face and can't resist how simply adorable you really are.
 We went to Ohio this past summer because your great grandma (also your name sake, Sally Jean) passed away.  You got to eat popsicles and have a grand old time.

 Ava started swim lessons this year and you like to wear her swim cap.

 You went to Hunter's first birthday party and got to jump in your first bouncy house and you loved it.

 It snowed just days before I had Evie and this was a snow you really got to get into and enjoy.  I just thought you looked adorable in all your "snow gear".

Popsicles are something you enjoy having to eat.  I have heard that sometimes you get popsicles at Mimi and PopPops for breakfast.
 You went to visit the zoo last spring which we try to do yearly.

You look so happy here....
 Here you are eating ice cream at Mimi and PopPops.
 I had to include these because you were being super silly.

 Of course you are wearing a tiara...I mean...why not?

 Now it is Mickey Mouse Ears...its always something.

 This was at a doctors visit.  I think you were super psyched to be there.
You cut your finger almost to the bone with one of your dresser drawer pulls.  It was terrifying but you were such a trooper and we were so proud of you.
You hated the stitches because you were convinced they were spiders.  
 Tender moments like you falling asleep somewhere other than your bed are hard to come by.
 Visting Skytop Apple Orchard with Mimi and PopPop.

 What a diva you are!
A diva who doesn't mind a little chocolate on your face.
Oh My!

 I took this picture because it was rare.  You woke up with a smile on your face.
 Riding the airplane swing at Wise Acres Farm.

 We were waiting on the hay ride at Wise Acres.
 Playing in the corn pit at Wise Acres.
 Cheesin it up at Wise Acres.
 You use to love to bring books down to me to read.
 You love any dress you can twirl and dance in.

First day of preschool.  You actually missed the actual first day of preschool because you were sick.  I felt so bad for you.  But you got to go.  Your teachers were Ms. Maleah and Ms. Danielle.

 I remember doing this day outside in life November.  It was a beautiful day and you spent it next to the butterfly tree and catching bubbles.

 This was the day we got to get your stitches out of your finger.  You did a great job and were very curious about it.

Here we were at one of your many eye check ups.  You guys were so good at these very long appointments.

 I loved this outfit on you.

 You have become much more crafty and I am much less resistant to allow you to craft.  It is working out for the both of us.

 You had a great time hosting Sheldon at our house while his parents were in Israel.  He was a great companion for you.

 This was after your surgery on your eyes.  Before the surgery you were a hoot and so calm.  Afterwards, you were your normal self a bear.  You would fall asleep with your popsicle and it would be melting all over.  I would try and sneak it out of your grip.  You would immediately awake and want it back.  It was a constant cause of frustration for you and me and my white sweater (especially after they gave you a red one).  We decided to try and go for teddy grahams and you obliged.

 You love this little stuffed animal from your cousins, Ash and Syd.
 We were just being silly.
You and Ava worked together to make castles out of your magna tiles.
 You were dancer of the week at Miss Donna's.
 You insist on playing outside in these things.  You finally did bestow upon your little sister this Tinkerbell costume because you grew out of it like last year.

 And this is your new sleeping place.
You have been through a lot and are doing so many things this year.  Your vocabulary is brilliant (you do stutter a bit) but I think it is because you have constant things jumbling around in that very busy, very exhausting head of yours.  You are a whirl of emotions.  You can go from happy go lucky to the Tasmanian Devil in a matter of minutes.  You make live always full of....something.  Some days is pure laughter and joy,  some days its confusion, some days is total frustration, and all days it is utter exhaustion.  But, Miss Sally Jean, I wouldn't trade it or you, or any of your quirks or traits for anything else in all this world.  You were made for me.  God had such a sense of humor when He knitted you together, but you are perfectly and wonderfully made and I know that quite well!  Love you, my go getter, where-there-is-a-will-there-is-a- way, spunky, full of sass girl!