Sunday, June 23, 2013

When Mommy Flips Her Lid

This morning was not my finest mommy hour.  I'm trying to get everyone dressed and out the door, for church no less, and it happened.  I lost it.  My temper, my cool, my sanity, whatever you want to call it.  Do you have mornings like that?  Days when you are trying so hard to get everyone ready and not be late, again, for wherever you're heading and five minutes before you should leave, the house flies into chaos?  Today was one of those days and unfortunately, today I did not handle it well.

I actually woke up with plenty of time to make it to the first church service today, which is usually my goal when I can make it happen.  My three-year-old was up at the same time and I got her sat down to breakfast.  I went in the living room and caught the weather on the news and got in my Scripture reading for the day.  An excellent start to the day in my book.  Too bad it didn't last long.

I went upstairs to take a shower and get dressed.  I soon look at the clock and see we have 25 minutes until go-time.  I go to the girls' room to rouse the sleepyhead.  I get her settled with her breakfast and head back upstairs to dry my hair and get clothes for the kids.  This is where the breakdown begins.  I find some outfits and as I'm trying to get the last item off the hanger, the whole clothing rod crashes to the ground.  I don't have time for this!  I leave it and figure I'll fix it when we get home.

Time to dress the rugrats.  I'm already on edge after the closet debacle and I am in no mood when my three-year-old is uncooperative.  Ten minutes before it's time to leave is not the time to play cat-and-mouse!  I can feel I am simmering below the surface as I finally manage to get clothes on and hair combed.  Time for some deep breathing.  I quickly run upstairs and do a super-quick makeup job and rush back downstairs.

Just as I'm about to tell them to put on their shoes, I see the mess.  The half-empty juice jug, the full-to-the-brim cup, the puddle on the table and the spillover on the floor.  It is time to leave and I just lose it.  How many times have I told that girl that she is not to pour any drinks by herself?  How many times have I already cleaned up a mess like this in the last week?  Why does this happen right when it's time to leave?  I realize I am yelling at my poor little three-year-old as I am hauling her, without much gentleness, to the timeout chair.  I am still yelling as I am cleaning up the mess.  Come on now, deep breaths! I calm down and I go release my girl from timeout.

I find a pair of shoes for each child and tell them to put them on as I take a load of stuff to the car.  I come back in the house and tell them it's time to go.  My five-year-old runs in all ready to go and I see her sister is snuggled in a blanket on the couch,  shoes still on the floor.  Final straw.  The top blows.  My lid is flipped.  "Why can't you listen?  I asked you to put your shoes on!  It's time to go!  We're going to be late!  Why don't you listen to Mommy and obey?"  I can feel my hands shaking, I am so angry.  And over what?  Some clothes on the floor?  Some spilled juice?  My daughter's selective hearing?  I put the sandals on her feet and tell them them both to head outside.

I go upstairs and grab my shoes and hurry downstairs to make a PB sandwich for me to eat on the drive.  The whole time I am praying.  "Lord, why am I doing this?  This is not the mother I want to be!  I don't want to be the mom that always yells and screams.  Please help me!  Give me patience in this moment because right now I have none.  Give me peace in my heart and soul because I feel like I am choking on my anger and anxiety."

God always comes through.  He meets me right where I am.  His peace and assurance can wash over me like a river if I will call upon Him.  I prayed the words of Paul and admitted that I am doing exactly what I know I shouldn't do and I can't seem to make myself do what I know I ought to be doing.  As I was yelling at my poor child, I could hear the voice in my head telling me to be quiet, but I couldn't seem to make myself stop.  I needed the Holy Spirit to give me strength in that moment.  I am grateful He did.

I was able to walk outside calmly.  As I buckled the girls into the car, I asked them for forgiveness.  "Even when you misbehave,  Mommy should not yell like that.  I was angry but I didn't need to scream at you.  I'm sorry, will you forgive me?"  I look into those beautiful eyes and I am grateful that little children are so quick to forgive.

I know it will not be the last time I must ask my children for forgiveness.  I fail.  I mess up.  I fall short.  I lose my temper.  I am constantly trying to do better, but I know I will never reach perfection this side of heaven.  I can only rest in the grace and mercy of my Heavenly Father and know that I can be better today than I was yesterday if I make an honest effort and lean on the one who can give me strength.  I want to be a better mother, wife, friend, woman of God.  I know I can be better when I walk in the ways of Christ who strengthens me.  Not perfect, but better.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rainy Day Eats

It is summer in Wisconsin and today we are enjoying a steady stream of rain and thunderstorms.  Feeling bored, I'm surfing the net and come across a Groupon for Pretzelmaker.  You know, the place in the mall food court that sells the big soft pretzels?  I love soft pretzels and this made me hungry.

Unfortunately, it's raining and the nearest mall is a thirty minute drive from my house.  I do not want a pretzel a thirty minute rainy drive's worth.  (If you do want to go buy yourself a pretzel, here is the link for the Groupon:, supplies are limited)  I do however have a great recipe for pretzels!  I got this recipe from my sister-in-law, who got it from a blog, that posted it from another blog, which credits Alton Brown.  Anyway, you know it's tried and true:-)

These are the most awesome pretzels!  They are not super complicated to make, it just takes a little on a rainy afternoon.  I will give you the link to one of the blogs with the recipe and all the awesome pictures to tantalize your appetite:  I swear, if you do these right, they are just as good, if not better, than the ones you would buy at the mall!

Now, in my book, there is nothing better than a side of cheese sauce to go with your fresh, hot pretzel.  Go ahead and open a jar of some cheese-like substance and melt it down for your dipping pleasure of you want something quick and easy.  Been there, done that.  If you want to go the extra mile (and today I will, 'cause hey, it's raining!), here is how I make a homemade cheese sauce:

-Melt about 2 T butter in a sauce pan over medium heat
-Add about 2 T flour and stir until you have a wet sand consistency
-Pour in about 1 cup of milk and whisk until smooth
-Add 1-1 1/2 cups of your favorite cheese, a little parmesan gives a nice salty flavor
-Continue to cook until it reaches your desired thickness (if you let it go too long you may add some more milk to thin it out to your desired consistency)
-Salt and pepper to taste

This recipe makes a good amount but feel free to play with the measurements and make as much or as little as you wish.  I rarely am very precise when I make this and it always turns out nice.

I hope you enjoy!  Let me know if you try it and how it turns out:-)

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Daddy is the Ultimate Superhero

I have been so blessed by the men God has placed in my life.  I grew up with a father who loved me very much and he was not afraid to tell me so.  He also made a point of telling me he was proud of me.  I cannot even begin to count the ways that has impacted my life.  I firmly believe that a woman learns how she should expect to be loved by her husband from the way she is loved by her father and by the way she observes her father love her mother.

The longer I am married to TheMostAwesomeHusbandInTheWorld, the more I realize how much he reminds me of my dad...but not in some weird, creepy way!  Many of the things I admire about my dad I find are also are the same qualities I love most about my husband.  They are both hard-working, have a great and sometimes warped sense of humor, and they have both been great daddies to little girls.

It melts my heart in ways he will never understand to see my husband love on our daughters.  They light up when he comes home at the end of the day.  "Daddy's home!"  Daddy is the hero.  Daddy is the protector.  Daddy is the one they turn to when they need to be validated.

Am I beautiful?  Am I smart?  Am I worthy?  Am I cherished?  If they know that Daddy's answer is always, "Yes!", then they won't be fifteen and looking for a boy who will tell them, "Yes."  They won't need to turn to drugs or alcohol in college to numb the pain when they feel like the only answer they have ever heard is, "No."  They don't go through life feeling empty, unloved and unwanted.

I don't have any scientific, psychological studies to back up my conclusions.  I am just a woman who knows what a loving father meant to her growing up.  I am a woman who has been a friend to other women who were not as fortunate and had a long road to walk to find some healing.  If you are on that journey, my prayers are with you and I want you to know that you have a Heavenly Father who is aching to tell you, "You're lovely, worthy, beautiful and cherished by me!"  Let His own words wash over you:

Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet and your face is lovely.
-Song of Songs 2:14

I have loved you with an everlasting love.
-Jeremiah 31:3

The King is enthralled by your beauty.
-Psalm 45:11

The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.  He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.
-Zephaniah 3:17

If you were not lucky enough to have been blessed with a loving, earthly father please know that your Heavenly Father is eager to help heal the wounds.  If you have been blessed, as I have, with a true daddy who let you know you were cherished and lovely, please remember to say, "thank you," this Father's Day.  You were given a beautiful gift beyond price and measure.

I love you, Dad.  Always have, always will.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Every Homemaker Deserves a Raise!!!

If you are a fellow homemaker (aka: wife, mother, cook, maid, tutor, chauffeur, nurse, referee, therapist, playmate, disciplinarian, gardener, etc.) you deserve not only a huge "Thank you!" and a standing ovation, but an ENORMOUS RAISE!  Unfortunately, we are employed in the ultimate volunteer position.  We are often under-valued and not given the credit we are due.  Is anyone else ever a little frustrated when you are asked, "So, when insert child's name is in school are you going to get a job?"  As if what we do isn't the equivalent of two full-time jobs!  We work hard and more than earn our keep, thank you very much!

Do you ever have a period of time when you find yourself out of commission due to illness, injury or you have the audacity to go out of town and you look around and wonder who set off the bomb?  I have been down for the count the last couple of days due to a sore back and I have been at work for HOURS today trying to get my house back in order.  I think I am on my fifth load of laundry, the dishwasher needs to be unloaded again, I have scrubbed every kitchen surface, put away unsold garage sale items and I still feel like I am in a war zone!  The floors need to be vacuumed and mopped, the furniture needs to be dusted, the children need to be bathed, the lawn needs to be mowed, bathrooms need to be cleaned and supper needs to be cooked.

Does anyone else wonder how your family could possibly survive, let alone function smoothly, without you?  Now, I am fortunately married to TheMostAwesomeHusbandInTheWorld who will often lend me a helping hand.  My hubby typically works long 10 hour days and while he can keep himself and the kids alive and fed, he is no homemaker.  I have come to accept the fact that he has tunnel vision and he honestly does not see the pot with the baked on gravy that has been sitting next to the sink for the past three days.  Getting out the broom to take care of the cobwebs in the corners is never going to be on his radar.

This is my domain.  It is my job to make our home the quiet, comfortable place for my children and husband to find their peace.  This is the vocation I have chosen and I feel I am called to.  I love that I am able to make my husband's day easier and happier because he doesn't have to come home to chaos and drama.  I am proud to be a homemaker, and I love that term!  I am the one who makes this house our home.

So to all the other homemakers out there (and you working moms can be one too, and most of you probably are), YOU ROCK!!!  And to my mother, my ultimate roll model and mentor, a very special thank you for all you ever did and all you still do to support me in all of my efforts.  You are one of the biggest reasons I am who I am today.  I love you, Mom!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Man, I Wish I Liked Coffee!

Do you ever wake up in the morning and suspect that there truly is a Sandman?  Some disturbed, mean little guy with a shovel, packing your eyelids with sand so that when your alarm goes off at 5:00 in the morning (today it took me nine minutes to hear it), you practically have to peel your lids off your eyeballs?  That was my morning.

This week has been super busy and my early morning was just the topper on the heavily-frosted cake.  My body already felt like it had been hit by a Mack truck and now my eyes just itch and ache.  I got up and looked in the mirror and, WHOA!  Fright Night!  It has been a while since my eyes looked THAT bloodshot.  If I could capture this moment, it would make a great Halloween costume because it has great potential to frighten young children.

Today I had to be at church early so I could practice with the worship band.  So not only do I need to get myself up, but I suppose since I have to be up in front of the whole church, there should be some attempt made to be cute and presentable.  I got myself showered and dressed and TheMostAwesomeHusbandInTheWorld, who had to work today, helped get the kiddos up and dressed so we could be out the door by 6:20.  

About halfway through the 35 minute drive, I felt myself slipping into the zone.  Not the super-pumped and focused zone, but the zoned out zone.  As I was starting to feel the need to slap myself awake, I couldn't help but think, "Mornings like this are why I need to start drinking coffee, even if it does taste nasty and sit in my gut like battery acid!"  Thank you, Lord for getting us to church and back home again safely without the use of a caffeine IV drip!

This mama is desperately in need of a nap...I wonder if I can get the kids to take one.

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Woman Who Was Swallowed By Stuff

Do you ever think about how much time and energy we expend to maintain our stuff?  We buy our stuff, wash our stuff, move our stuff, dust our stuff, pack our stuff, put away our stuff, sell, give, and throw away our stuff.  Sometimes I feel like the stuff runs my life!

I have lost count of the number of hours I have spent the last couple of weeks preparing for a garage sale.  I have been digging through those nooks and crannies where seldom-used stuff likes to hide.  A person could barely move through my office because that is where all the stuff took up residence until it could move out to the lawn.

My husband and I finally unpacked boxes that have been untouched since we moved into this house...2 1/2 years ago.  We had three piles: garbage, sell, and HOLY CRAP!  I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR THIS FOR THREE YEARS!  I think only two items made it into the latter pile.  The rest went to the dump or into the garage sale.  We ended up with a whole room worth of stuff we don't want or have any use for any longer.

How much time, money and energy have I wasted on all this junk?!!!  There were boxes worth of stuff that we took the time to pack at our old house and move into the new house and we never even unpacked it!  As I look over the pile of stuff that has consumed so much of my time the last couple of weeks, I realize I am just going to be so glad to be rid of it!  I am beyond caring if I make much money at my garage sale.  I feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.  It is so cleansing to be rid of the clutter!

I realize that I need to purge the junk from my life more often.  We can be swallowed up by the things we fill our lives with, if we allow it.  We live in a world where more is still never enough.  Jesus warned us against such things in Luke 12:15: Then he said to them, "Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

I am so grateful that my family has been blessed with all we could ever need as well as some nice possessions.  As I have worked hard the last several days, I have realized that my things may be possessing me instead of the other way around.  It is time to take back some of my time, energy, and square-footage.  Stuff will rule me no longer!!!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

What Doesn't Kill Them Will Make Them Stronger...Right?

Just a quick one tonight.  I must admit I am having one of those days that I will be happy if we all can just make it to bedtime.  My girls are eating pizza for supper tonight...just like they have every other night so far this week.  My three-year-old just drank from the cup my older daughter was using to rinse her paint brush in, thinking it was juice.  You cannot see the floor in my office because it has become the holding area for our upcoming garage sale.  My house was clean a few days ago, but after spending the last couple of days digging out all the stuff I hope to get rid of this weekend, my house looks like a tornado went through it.  I hope my kids don't run into the tower of clothes in the dining room because it would totally bury them should it fall over.

Silently saying a prayer.  I'm really hoping we can make it through the week without suffering any casualties.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Perfect Pink Princess Cupcakes...EPIC FAIL!!!

"I am going to make some super-cute cupcakes for the girls' birthday party!" --Famous last words

Ok, so Saturday we had a joint birthday party for our daughters and I decided it would be fun (not to mention a bit of a time-filler) for the party guests to each decorate their own cupcakes.  I was going to have a totally Pinterest-able moment and have these adorable little cupcakes with pink centers for each little princess to enjoy.  It was a completely awesome, supermom-like accomplishment...unfortunately it was all happening in my brain.

In actuality, I didn't get around to baking until after 10:00 the night before the party.  "It's only cupcakes, I'll be in bed before 11:00."  Yeah, right.  So I find my box of white cake mix (no scratch baking after 9:00 p.m.) and I get to work.  I have this great plan that I am going to make them a little more extra-special by making the center of the cupcake pink by adding some food coloring to a small portion of the batter and adding a dollop of pink to the middle.  I am so freaking brilliant!

The next stroke of genius comes as I decide to make one cupcake blue and the lucky girl to choose the blue cupcake wins a prize.

No problem.  Now I just need to bake them and off to bed.  Cupcakes: 350° for 16-18 minutes.  Oven preheated, set the timer for 16 minutes and into the oven.  Time ticks away and about 30 seconds before the timer goes off, "Hmmmm, what's that smell?"  That would be scorched cupcakes.

Fan. Tastic.  These cupcakes are cupcrap.  It is now 11:00 and I must start over.  I am so super lucky that I had another box of mix in my cupboard or I would have been up a creek without the proverbial paddle.  Second time into the oven I turned the temp down to 325° and set the timer for 12 minutes. (BTW, I took the pictures during take two so I could more effectively share this wonderful story with you)

While I am waiting, I decided to cut open one of the batch #1 cupcakes to see how my wonderful idea about adding the colored center worked out...

Hmmmmm.  Well, at least you can tell there is some pink inside.  In my brain there was going to be a beautiful, round pink middle.  Why is it things in my brain have such a hard time translating into reality?

While I am waiting for batch #2, I think I eat the equivalent of about four cupcakes by digging out the un-scorched middles from batch #1.  Well, I had to do something to keep me awake while they baked!  Timer finally goes off and I take batch #2 out of the oven. 

Even with the adjusted temperature and time, the second batch is just this side of burned.  There were a few that had gone over, but it is now going on towards midnight.  I check out batch #1 and I am able to pick out a couple that aren't really that bad.  I swap them out and decide that perhaps if I pull the paper off the cupcakes while they are still warm, maybe some of the extra-brown-but-not-quite-burned outer crust will come off.  I suppose it helped somewhat.  Alright.  Mommy needs to go to bed now.

The next morning I assess the damage.  I agree with last night's assessment of "it's not really that bad!"  Nothing a good helping of pink frosting can't fix. :-)  I settle the cupcakes into fresh white cupcake cups and glob on some frosting.  I stack them around a couple of cake plates and voila! 

With the work finally done, my three year old walks in and says, "Mommy, why are the cupcakes burned?"  No joke.  "They aren't burned, honey.  They're just brown."  If I can convince myself, why not the kiddos?

Well, I guess I did okay.  Even after all of my blunders, the girls all piled about two inches of sprinkles onto their cupcakes and enjoyed them.  No one complained that they had an extra-crispy flavor to them.  The girl who had some blue in her cupcake could actually tell and she got her prize.  

Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to create the perfect moment for our children.  We scour the how-to websites and map out our way to that perfection.  Unfortunately, the map does not show us the detours.  Fortunately, our children are very forgiving.  Thirty years from now, they won't care that the cupcakes were a little over-done.  They will remember that Mommy was there.  Mommy tried.  Mommy loved us.  That is the legacy I hope I am creating.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Oh Bite Me, Pinterest!

Do you ever see other moms' pins on Pinterest, observe their Facebook lives or read other mommy bloggers and start to think that unless you are homeschooling six children who never watch TV because you keep them continuously engaged with homemade educational crafting projects while hand-sewing their clothes and growing the equivalent of 50 acres of organic produce in egg cartons on your windowsill, that you are in some way less of a mom?  Are you allowing others to guilt-trip you by way of social media?  Guilty!!! (Arm frantically waving)  I admit that I am constantly comparing myself to other people's virtual lives, and every time I fall short.

Do you know why?  Because it's not real!!!  We are not jealous of the women who put it all out there and admit that they are just happy to have survived the day when their toddler refused to change out of their pajamas or eat anything other than marshmallows and potato chips.  We instead marvel at the women who tell us all about their abilities to live environmentally friendly, organic, gluten-free, vegan, from-scratch lifestyles on less than 38¢ a day with perfect cooperation from their children and spouse.

Well, I could go ahead and tell you about how I already have handmade my daughters' next Halloween costumes using nothing but dryer lint and gum wrappers, but I hope you would realize that is ridiculous.  Let me clarify, I love that a new recipe or a fun craft project can always be at my fingertips thanks to the internet.  What I am battling against is the idea that "EVERY OTHER MOM IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN ME, JUST LOOK AT FACEBOOK!"  Why do I continue to compare myself to virtual moms?  Sometimes I need to unplug and spend more time engaging with my children instead of spending the last hour before bedtime searching Pinterest for the best bedtime wind-down activity.

One of my goals with this blog is to be real so you won't feel alone in YOUR realness (is that a word?).  Sometimes I am proud of what I am able to accomplish in a day and I hope you will celebrate with me.  Other times I want to throw my computer out the window because I cannot bear to look at the clearance-bin birthday invitations I just bought at Wal-Mart after seeing "Blog Mom's" personalized, hand-made, pop-up, delivered-by-a-unicorn birthday invites.  You'll get to see those moments, too.

If you're ready for one, stay tuned.  Yesterday we had our girls' princess birthday party...tomorrow I'll tell you about their birthday cupcakes.  Don't worry, there's pictures:)