Homebody

1 year later with a fourth baby on the way, and this still rings true.

New Leaf Parenting

“Take a day, babe.  Get out of the house because I can’t do anything with them when you’re around.  They only want you when they see you.”

My husband was right but where would I go?  After a week of very little sleep, I’m exhausted.   And to be honest, all I really want to do is stay home.

But with a high of 40 degrees and a 1, 3 and 5 year-old in tow, kicking my husband out of the house left him with limited options.

“I’ve got some errands to run- I’ll take them with me.”

Music to my ears, but how long would I have?  I didn’t care.  I parked my rear on the recliner and watched a tv show for 30 minutes before starting dinner and calling my mom.

She lives only five minutes away and comes over to play with the kids twice a week…

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Love

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Love.

The all- encompassing kind.  Pumping like electricity through your veins.  Consuming your every thought and action.  Making it hard to breathe.

The forbidden kind that taunts and teases you.

The joyous kind that beams like warm sunshine.

The dangerous kind that hurts.

The sweet kind captured by tiny moments of tenderness and thoughtfulness.

The tragic kind that breaks your heart.

The Godly kind that makes all love possible.

Love.

Receive it.  Feel it.  Give it.

Love.

Camille Vaughan Photography

A Man Misunderstood: Part I

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Suspicious. Doubtful. Annoyed at your devotion while I smile and nod my head.

Happy for you. Equally wishing I could “buy in” and yet unable to foresee a scenario in which that would ever be possible.

Curious. Incredulous. Impatient. Restless.

Tuning out the moment I hear or read the words “God”, “Faith”, “Jesus” and “Christianity”. I don’t want to be your prized missionary “save”.

And yet still, I wrestle. Blaming it on brainwashing from church as a child every Sunday but deep down, I can’t escape the curiosity.  How can so many bright and intelligent people believe in this?

They told me to read The Book but every time I try, it doesn’t make any sense.

They try to encourage me, but there’s an ocean between us and our conversations only leave me feeling more isolated and lost.

Still, I search.  I read books about Buddhism and find common ground.  I continue to watch sermons from the church I started attending a couple of years ago. The pastor, a successful lawyer, author and professor, is a master at tackling current issues using biblical scripture to make sense of it all.

I assumed some are just born to believe and others don’t take much convincing.  The task is daunting, confusing and overwhelming and yet as much as I want to stop, I keep pursuing- fueled equally by my own questions and the pressure to teach my children principles to live by.

Piece by piece, I find myself peeling back the layers.

For the past month, I’ve been reading The God Girl Journey by Hayley DiMarco.  It’s a 30-Day guide intended for teenagers, but as my faith is certainly no more advanced, it’s just right for me.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

After a 3 day introduction, the book is divided into the attributes listed in the verse above and it has changed my life. 

I’ve never wanted to call myself a Christian for a number of reasons:  I do not want to align myself with a faith whose leaders have been convicted of child molestation time and time again.  I do not want to be associated with a religion that believes their way is the only way and all others are damned to hell or not welcome in heaven.  I have issues with the damnation of homosexuals or the idea of confessing my sins.  I have issues with well-meaning missionaries converting people from other cultures under the pretense of helping.  I have issues with hypocrisy which I feel Christianity and many of its followers are grossly guilty of.  I have a hard time believing in biblical stories and I don’t want to “cherry-pick” my religion.  If I’m going to label myself something, I want to be all-in.

For these reasons, and many others I’ve skirted Christianity.  Peeking inside its chambers, but never fully entering.  Cautiously observing.

As a child, I attended an Episcopalian church, summer camps and even found myself at a Young Life retreat one year.  I clearly remember sitting on a rock, pleading with a leader to tell me how I was supposed to believe.  His answer was, “You just have to have faith.”  In what?  Blind faith? Believe first and the rest will come?  I’m not hardwired that way.

And yet I am insanely envious of those who do have faith.  I think to myself, “I wish I could be that naive”. Harsh, but true. They seem so peaceful.  In the face of some of the worst tragedies, time and time again I’ve heard or read Christians who are able to find goodness amongst evil- like when the congregation and family members of those killed at the church in Charleston publicly forgave Dyllan Roof for his senseless massacre. How? Why?

Reading The God Girl Journey has helped me to understand just how and why that could ever be possible. Reading this book has given me a much clearer understand of who Jesus was- a man that I’ve researched enough to know that few doubt his existence. Reading this book has helped me to understand why the Christians I know and respect seem so confident and peaceful and why they share their faith.

I’m still at the beginning of my journey (hence, Part I), but now I know that once you start to believe, you feel selfish keeping it to yourself.  It’s not that you are trying to convert others to check off your “good Christian to-do-to-get-into-heaven list”- it’s that you feel true JOY and you want others to feel it, too.

I have lots of questions but for the first time, I am beginning to understand why so many people love Jesus.  Strip away the rules and denominations surrounding him.  As I learn more about what he stood and died for, I see so many similarities in all that I love about Buddha- principles that I try to live my life and teach my children by: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

And as much as I want to know it all before I begin, just like parenting, I realize now that sometimes you just have to start somewhere- anywhere. I’m tired of curiously observing from the outside.  I have nothing to lose by diving in and the more I learn, the more I realize how much I have to gain.

Jesus: A man I’ve grossly misunderstood.  A man, a faith, I want to understand. A man whose birth I’m actually celebrating this Christmas.

 

Dee Akright Photography 

 

 

Decision Time

To add or not to add, that was the question. Barstools that is.

We were remodeling our kitchen and stuck on whether to make an “L” shape for a fourth seat at our island.

That week, we also had been heavily discussing having a fourth baby.

“I’m worried it might be too crowded.”  He said.

“I’m worried we will wish we had added it later.  The time to decide is now.”  I said.

“Are we still talking about bar stools here?”

We had made lists- reasons to and not to have another child.

We’d been unable to let go of the baby stuff, but not yet ready to commit to another.

We’d had many late night conversations about it and then decided to give it some more time.

And now here we were, talking about bar stools, but not really.

We cut cardboard boxes into both the “L” shape and “space for 3” shape and placed it on top of the island cabinets.

The “L” looked daunting, but when my husband stood by that facade, he announced, “Yea.  This feels right.”

I looked him in the eye, smiled knowingly, and nodded my head “yes”.

Let’s add that fourth seat.  Let’s try for that fourth baby.

It feels right.

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Watkins Photography

 

Custom Creation

I am not a crafty person but desperate times call for desperate measures and that is precisely where I found myself this past week, scouring the internet for charts- Morning Routines, Bedtime Routines, Chores, Allowance and Behavior were the topics I was interested in; however I could not find a system that incorporated it all.  So I made my own.

My eldest is 5 1/2 now (don’t you ever forget that 1/2), and is highly interested in earning money.  I want to teach her how to earn money by working and yet I don’t want the EXTRA WORK of managing it.  I would also like a way to remember the nine steps we do every morning before school, but want her to be accountable for following them.  Finally, I want her to recognize that she can lose her money by being disrespectful- impatience, talking back, etc.

Introducing The New Leaf Parenting Accountability System.  It includes the following: Continue reading

The Choice is Yours

School is fast approaching and as a result, so is my child’s anxiety. Fortunately, I’ve been reading The Whole Brain Child by Drs. Siegl and Bryson this summer and have become familiar with the concept of “Mindsight” which they define as ” . . . understanding our own mind as well as understanding the mind of another.”¹ I have also learned about “The Wheel of Awareness” and have adapted it to work for my young daughter, who is entering Kindergarten.

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My daughter has attended two years of pre-k at the same school so it isn’t as if this is totally new territory.

I began our activity by asking her to describe what she loves about school and drew illustrations in the center (I’m no artist).  She loves drawing, playing with friends, toys and playing on the playground.  She loves celebrating the holidays.

I then drew four paths to school and asked her to explain how she feels about going to school. We came up with “Happy, Sad, Curious, and Scared” and placed them in the color path of her choice. After discussing each path, I had her point to the one she would like to take to school, which, of course, was “Happy”.

I explained that sometimes we feel sad and miss mommy and walk along that trail and that it is ok to feel this way, but that after a short while, doesn’t it feel better to move on over to the “Happy” path? She smiled in recognition.

Fill the center. Every day we choose a path. Sometimes we get trapped on the broken one, but after while we do ourselves a service when we refocus our mind to the good, the positive, the things to look forward to once we reach our destination.

Siegel, Daniel J., & Bryson, Tina Payne. The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind. New York: Random House. 

 

The Hand of Time

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Jump. That is what we wish to do. Fast-forward. To the next job. The next partner. The next phase. The time-after.

In doing so, we miss the opportunity gifted to us. To learn.

Endurance. Love. Character. Depth. Grace.

Things we cannot rush.

Like Wine. Sewing. Teaching. Writing. Cooking!

I will never forget witnessing an experienced cook throw things together for dinner. I thought, “I’ll never be able to do that. No one ever taught me.”

Then I got married, then I had kids. Where did the time go? How am I supposed to learn now?

But I am. Slowly, but surely. I wanted to walk before I could crawl. I wanted to know how, before it was possible.

And isn’t this true about life? We focus on the end game and lose sight of the learning curve.

Few of us are prodigies. Most started with simple songs, simple sketches before we created our masterpiece.

The time is now to feel the moment we are in. To appreciate it for what it is.

The uncomfortable present. The gift.

No. 1 Fan

Hey you- yea, you.  I’m your #1 fan.

He asks me who I’m “rooting for”.

It’s whoever is losing.

Dig deep.

Find you.

You and your potential- you’re in there somewhere.

I see you.

I’m your fan.

Now it’s your turn to see you.  To root for you.  To be your #1 fan.

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Camille Vaughan Photography

Faith

Written one year ago today, this is one of my very favorites. Only the beginning of the article is about childbirth- the rest is about letting go . . .

New Leaf Parenting

It took three attempts for me to succeed in having an unmedicated childbirth.  I attended nearly 70 hours of childbirth classes before my first baby, read countless books, and spent many-a-night role-playing labor with my husband before falling asleep to my hypnobirthing CDs.  The message was clear:  LET GO.  Succumb to the pain instead of fighting it.  Relax even when your body instinctually clenches.  Unless you have been in labor, you have absolutely no idea how impossible that seems when you are experiencing gut-wrenching pain.  By the third labor, I knew what to do and my unmedicated birth was everything I had hoped it would be: raw emotion that cannot be imitated.

Unmedicated childbirth isn’t just about “proving you can do it.”  Sure, you feel proud, just as a marathon runner does after her grueling race, but at its core, unmedicated childbirth inherently embraces FAITH.  Faith in our bodies to do what…

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Never Too Late

You hear “You can be whatever you want to be!” or “There will be time for that later”, but how often do you truly believe it?  In high school we are groomed to find a college that will fit some far concept of what we “want to be when we grow up”.  And in college we are forced to choose a major at 18 years-old, as if we know what the next 70 years hold in store for us.  Once we enter the workforce, we get comfortable in our position or too fearful to leave.  We begin to invest in retirement funds and pensions.  We have loans to pay and children to raise.  So to the back-burner our dreams go . . . but does it have to be this way?

At some point, we lose sight of our heart’s true desires.  We may admire others who are pursuing it from a distance but we tell ourselves reasons why it cannot be ours.  We pacify ourselves by counting our current blessings and convincing ourselves that we don’t need those dreams to be happy.  But what if we itched that scratch?  Why are we so afraid of trying?  Why are we so afraid of change?

As someone with a fairly positive outlook on life,  I was surprised to realize the extent to which I actively shut-down my deepest dreams.  It’s not as if I can pinpoint a day I told myself “No”, rather it is the presence of a subconscious voice that constantly provides reasons why my dreams cannot be.

This “ah-ha” moment hit me within the last couple of weeks.  First, as I watched The Dave Matthews Band Listener Supported DVD.  Mesmerized as I experienced a symphony of music dancing in my ears, I couldn’t fathom how these musicians could be so in tune with one another as they improvised each and every song.  It dawned on me that they practiced.  All. The. Time.  They practiced.  They dedicated their life to what they love.

I witnessed this again as I watched The Masters on TV and reveled in Sergio Garcia’s win after decades of losing this tournament.  He kept trying and trying even as he played that 18th hole twice.  It was inspiring.

It forced me to try and remember what my dreams really are.  What did I like to play as a child?  What do I really want to do with my time left here on Earth?

I’ve always heard of age 50 referred to as “Over-the-Hill” but I’ve realized that by shifting my perspective to truly believing I’m just getting started here at 34, I have a whole lot of living left to do.  The last 34 years were just a warm up for the best that is yet to come.

So here’s my list:

  1. National Geographic Photographer
  2. Author
  3. Master Potter
  4. A Great Cook
  5. Violinist
  6. Pianist
  7. Ukulelist
  8. A wife and mother.

I’ve done a lot of these things as a child or in lessons, but I haven’t continued to pursue them,  So here’s my plan:

Now

  1.  Make cooking healthy food a number one priority by using Lisa Leake’s 100 Days of Real Food Challenge cookbook and blog.
  2. Continue writing this blog and continue jotting book ideas in my notes.

Soon

  1.  Pick up the Ukulele in June and continue lessons online.
  2. Start piano lessons again this fall.  Schedule an in-home concert to invite family and friends so that I have a goal to work towards finishing 3-5 pieces.
  3. Purchase a very nice camera.   Read books, blogs and find lessons.

Next 1-2 years

  1.  Be a wife and mother.  (just kidding 😉 )
  2. Find a pottery studio and get back on that potters wheel- I feel home there.

Next 3-5 years

  1.  Buy a violin and start taking lessons

Next 5-10 years

  1.  Write a book.

It’s time to shut that negative self-talk down.  It’s time to stop fearing failure.  It’s time to not just tell my daughters they can dream big, but to show them how their own mommy makes it a reality.

It’s time to stop taking each day for granted.

Today is a fresh start, as is tomorrow.

So turn over that leaf.  Write down your list.  And join me as we get busy living.

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