Saturday, January 31, 2015

When Are You Going To The Store?

Meal planning is a full time job for which I need a full time assistant, something Preston insists is not in the budget. I think we could sell his truck and he could just always ride his motorcycle to provide for this urgent assistant need, but he keeps talking about when it's below freezing or raining. Whatever.   

Each meal of the day has its own little idiosyncrasies. I'm going to break it down for you. 

Breakfast:

Preston rarely eats breakfast...at least at home. There are some precious, precious cafeteria ladies who love him so much and make breakfast for him and a few other teachers on Fridays...things like chocolate gravy, scratch biscuits, cinnamon rolls, truffles, lobster, caviar, foie gras... Ok, not foie gras but one time there was lobster. I swear. I am always confused when he uses the term "scratch biscuits." Does that mean they had to scratch at the can to get it to pop open?

The girls, however, want to eat in the mornings, usually within about two seconds of their eyes opening. If I do not have the exact right groceries, breakfast can be a real issue. One girl likes oatmeal, but only if we have frozen blueberries to stir in. If we don't have blueberries, she will lay her head on her arms and moan, declaring that ice cream is the only suitable replacement. I have been known to allow this just to silence the moaning. 

One girl likes cereal, pretty much all cereal, but Preston likes to have a late night bowl of cereal. Oftentimes there will be about a tablespoon of milk left in the jug. He does this so he can justify why he didn't run to the corner gas station and get another gallon when I send him a nasty text about how he has ruined my day and therefore my life; "But I didn't use it all!" Toast, eggs, pancakes, oatmeal are unacceptable to this child. She has been known to sadly and dramatically and with much sighing spoon Rice Krispies to her mouth dry, spilling most onto the floor. You really need something wet to hold Rice Krispies together. It is a devastating start to the day. 

The third girl is a wild card. Some days she wants cereal, but only if there are acceptable kinds, which include Fruity Pebbles or Marshmallow Cereal. We rarely have these cereals, but still she searches each morning hoping they mysteriously appeared in our pantry during the night. (This never happens, but the milk mysteriously disappears - see previous paragraph.) Sometimes she wants pancakes, but only if I do/do not add/omit chocolate chips/cinnamon/bits of apple/whatever she has dreamed up for this morning. Sometimes it's a fried egg, which she likes to cook herself, but should she break the yolk while flipping it, will immediately become the most disgusting food imaginable, totally unacceptable for eating...I made this one for you, Mommy. Can you eat three more just like it before I finally admit I need a little help with the flipping? Sometimes she is too excited/sad/tired/fake sick to eat but then will proclaim her starving status right before we arrive at school, wanting me to produce a full meal from my Magic Mommy Bag. (And sometimes I can. Remember the scene from "One Fine Day" with Michelle Pfeiffer and George Clooney where she makes super hero costumes for two kids just with the things in her bag? That is the most spot-on scene in all of film making. I can't believe it didn't win any Oscars.) 

Lunch:

Lunch is a little easier because they are prisoners to what I packed the night before after they were in bed and unable to offer their ever-changing opinions on what should be packed. My lunches have seriously taken a turn for the worse in all areas since we started the whole school scene four years ago. In every way - healthiness, variety, creativity. Sometimes I have them help because I would love to turn this chore over to them, but they want to pack things like dry pasta, corn chex, and ketchup. Nothing wrong with any of these items in and of themselves, but together a well balanced meal they do not make. 

After-school-snack is pretty established - one thing they choose, followed by unlimited fruits, vegetables and nuts. This generally meets with little debate and goes well. Praise Jesus. 

Supper:

Supper is a totally different set of issues. I've heard the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. This is me hoping anew each day we will end the day with a family meal in which we chat intelligently, we are thoughtful and kind, we delight in each others' presence. You know. Like all other families do. According to pictures they put on Facebook. This is how supper goes in my mind:


Note the delighted faces on the children, the beautifully set table, the loving husband so appreciative of the hard work the adorably chubby wife has put forth to make this delicious meal come together. Yes. That is how it will be in the Brooks house as well. We will discuss our days without interrupting one another. The homemade yeast rolls will glisten hot with melted butter. We will politely pass and fill our plates before anyone begins to eat. Everyone, even down to the smallest child, will compliment the chef on all of the dishes served. And so I make supper, eager for what will be the highlight of everyone's day, a magical moment amid the chaos of the rest of life. 

This is reality:


I would like to take the time to point out some things in this brilliant clipart. 

1. Obviously, the mom has had it. I mean, she appears to be exploding. My cousin calls this hour before supper "the witching hour" what with its homework, whining children, last minute meal prep, dogs barking, Husband calling to say he will be twenty minutes late, prompting rage from Wife who is truly teetering on the brink of a total nervous breakdown, and general witchiness of this hour.

2. Something is burning on the stove. Of course. Because the children have distracted the mother trying to get her to sign papers, listen to them read "the cat sat on the mat" five hundred times, help them find middle C, and negotiate a peace agreement over whose turn it is to feed the gigantic dogs everyone wanted so much, so she cannot possibly keep up with the burning green beans. My stove is encrusted in things that have boiled over and never been scraped off. My family thinks the smell of something scorching is the call to supper.

3. Two children are crying. Something tragic has happened. Like a Lego tower was knocked over. Or Barbie's shoe was flushed down the toilet. Or they are wishing they had been born into a family where the green beans aren't always served blackened.  

4. One child is apparently tattling. We have one of those. 

5. One child is apparently taunting. We have three of those.

6. There is a mess on the floor where a child has spilled a drink. This happens at every every every single meal. Preston still acts disgusted and surprised by it. And he always, always mutters under his breath, "Every meal!" 

7. There is no husband in sight. The girls helped me pick this clipart, and when I pointed out this fact, Preston defensively goes, "He's probably at work earning the money for that meal." Or he's lying on the couch. Watching football. Which is what the girls and I agree is probably happening. But Preston says that can't be true because I don't cook on Sundays which is when football is on. It's becoming a whole thing. The middle girl said, "That looks exactly what it's like before you get home, Daddy." I thought I was being facetious, but I guess not. Ego blow.

I pretty much try to give the girls what they want for breakfast and lunch, balanced and within reason, but at supper we have a "We do not negotiate with terrorists children approach."

These are the rules:
1. You must try at least one bite of everything offered. If you don't like it, you don't have to eat it all, but you must always give it a chance. 
2. That is the only rule.

One time in very recent history, a kid sat at the table for 45 minutes after everyone else moved on over a bite of broccoli, sobbing over our meanness and how she really can't even look at broccoli and can't believe we are asking her to put it in her mouth. Finally, she put the teeniest of bites in her mouth and promptly began gagging and choking. I gave up. I told her to forget it. I can't stand throw up, and it looked like it was imminent. She won. Whatever. I guess we don't have any rules. 

What to make for supper can be a real problem, too. I beg people to give me ideas of past suppers they have liked. I will do, make, buy anything! I get in a rut and have no idea what to make. It's like everything I've ever cooked is no longer stored in my brain. I get desperate for ideas. I want them to like supper. But they will tell me a meal to make, I'll make it, and then all of a sudden it's the worst food ever. 

True story: 
For one child's birthday meal she requested spaghetti. Crazy easy. I got this. At her birthday party, she barely took anything on her plate and then said, "I don't really like spaghetti, Mommy."

The family gathered around the table to enjoy a warm meal at the end of a long day is such an appealing picture, and we continue to be devoted to the idea of family supper time being extremely valuable, so we try to use the time for good things like praying for families we don't see very often by going through our stack of Christmas cards and praying for the family on top, discussing our days by telling our "woo-hoo" and "boo-hoo" (or "peak and pit" or "sweet and sour," depending on which girl you ask) which is the worst thing and best thing about our days. We try to teach table manners, not interrupting, and all that good stuff. We discuss what's happening at school, how to handle drama situations (who knew there was so much drama in the life of a little girl?), how to love each other better and be a little more like Jesus. 

But then someone belches, food falls onto the floor in massive quantities, water is spilled and butter ends up in someone's hair. Tears are shed. 

But then I dry it up and start the menu for the next night.   

Grace for today and all your mealtimes,
Martha      



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Mary vs Martha

I think being busy is getting a really bad rap these days. Don't stop reading.

I also think being busy deserves its really bad rap. (I am a total fence rider on almost all issues.)

But here's the thing: I am busy. You are busy. I really think it's what you are busy doing that makes it good or bad. 

And also understand I am NOT the one to judge that. That is not what I am going to do here. I am really musing on myself, and you get to read along. Lucky you. 

Preston and I are not deep people. Generally we do not enjoy theological books, books that reference other books, or books that use big words. Not to say we aren't intelligent, which maybe is questionable, too, but we just aren't big on introspection. We prefer to read things by Brad Thor, Vince Flynn, or the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. (if you haven't read that series, you are missing out on a beautiful look at simple lives. It is my FAVORITE of ALL TIME. But not too deep. Because I can't go there.)

We also aren't still for very long. Meaning we like projects, we enjoy being outside DOING things - mowing, planting flowers, playing ultimate Frisbee - or doing things inside - playing games, reading books, building shelves, anything. But just sitting, drinking in a magnificent sunset or marvelling at the beauty of a snowfall is difficult. We would rather build a fort and pound the kids with hard, icy snowballs. 

I did take this snow picture which I think is quite nice.



And then we played Fox and Goose Tag.


As such a person I find doing things like writing in a journal about my deep thoughts really challenging. One, because I don't have super deep thoughts, or if I do they come in blips and quickly change or disappear completely, and two, because I just can't. It isn't in me. Every once in a while I think I'm going to start, but I end up writing ridiculous things like, "I had jam on my toast instead of butter this morning. What do you think that means, Diary?"

There is a very famous passage of Scripture in Luke where Jesus addresses Martha's complaint of how Mary isn't helping her in the kitchen but is instead sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up His presence. People use this passage to justify their criticism of busyness. 

I have a little different view on it, given that I share a name with the woman who chose the lesser path in this instance. If Jesus was here, sitting in front of me, I don't know how I would respond. It's like that Mercy Me song that came out after 9/11 that broke records on all kinds of music charts. It's all about imagining what we will do when we one day come face to face with Jesus, the God of the Universe, the Creator. We just don't know. But I imagine I will fall on my face and cling to the hem of His garment, much like the woman who sought healing from an affliction of more than a decade did or like the Baby used to do when I would cruelly drop her off at a school where everyone adores her and loves Jesus to boot. 

So, if He was here, I think I would actually choose Mary's path. But He isn't here. He is in Heaven, preparing Paradise for me. FOR ME! A sinner at my worst. But still. The Bible tells me He is working to prepare a place and constantly interceding with the Father on my behalf. So I guess I'll take it. 

What He did leave here is the Holy Spirit and His Word, the Bible, which I love. So I sit in the Word everyday for a time, not long because there are these three people He gave me to care for who inevitably interrupt with all their urgent Lego or getting the TV turned to PBS or can't get the seam of their sock lined up perfectly inside their shoe needs. But I sit. And I read. Because Scripture is the hem Jesus gives us for today.

And in His word I read A LOT about serving. Serving the poor - the monetarily poor, the spiritually poor, the emotionally poor. Serving His bride, the church - teaching Sunday school, washing communion cups, planning picnics, taking meals to the body. Serving my husband - packing his lunch, allowing him evenings off to play basketball, and yes, checking his pockets. Grrr. Serving my parents and his, serving my children and the people who love them, serving, serving, serving. 

Preston's rest.

Yes, the Gospels all record time where Jesus went off to be alone, to pray, to be refreshed, to just be. To escape the busyness for a moment. So I think that is important. So important. And I think we all do that in different ways. Some people journal. Some people go on girls' weekends. Some people gaze at the sunset or watch the snow fall. Some people exercise (I personally feel this makes me sin as I cannot stop curse words from dominating my thoughts, which is why I avoid it.). Some people do a marathon nap or binge watch Friends Beth Moore Bible studies. I write this blog. It's cathartic and provides rest. 

But you know what my favorite verse in the whole Bible is? John 21:25. It says,

"Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written."

I love how John uses that word "suppose." It sounds like he's musing, reflecting on all the greatness Jesus did. And it is beyond my human comprehension the number of books it would take to fill the world. Jesus was busy. There's no denying it. 

So this is how Preston and I are trying to live. Not because it makes us better, but because we want to be like Jesus. We want to leave this earth EXHAUSTED. Exhausted of our time, obviously, because we are going to leave when we are dead which means our time is up. But also of our energy, our money, our love. In Acts 4:32-37 Luke writes about how the church loved each other so well that NOT ONE person was needy. They all considered their property to belong to the community, selling things belonging to them simply to meet the needs of brothers and sisters.

Now the Bible also talks about being wise and storing food and resources for a day when they won't be plentiful, so I am not telling you we are selling off everything except for a cardboard box we will live in, and if you do that I must question your sanity. But I do want the cry of our hearts to be "How can we do more, Lord? What should we do with this extra time? What should we do with this unexpected bonus? How can we love that unloveable person? What is sitting in my basement we could give?"

And sometimes the answers to those questions are, "Nothing, now. Now you should rest. And refuel. And journal. (He never tells me this.) Get a Starbucks and wander Target. Stay in and play Scattergories tonight. Keep the bonus because there is an unexpected tonsillectomy (or braces) coming your way. You need to step back from that person. I am sending someone else. And you need to hang onto that TV/VCR combo in your basement because your Baby will be sick and want to watch Mary Poppins which is still on VHS tape. But you will get to write a blog post while she watches." And it's so important to take the time to sit in His Word to distinguish His voice from the ones in the world who tell us we either aren't doing enough, or we deserve to end every day with a bubble bath and a massage. And so you can have the confidence to say "no" or "yes" when an opportunity presents itself. The sheep know the voice of the Shepherd and can tell when their Shepherd is the one calling.

So there is no judgment from this seat. None at all. Just reflecting. Hey, I'm introspecting!! It's a miracle. (Sorry this one isn't so funny. If you need funny, go back to #thestruggleisreal. It's my favorite.) 

This is always my prayer before I write a blog post:

"Lord, you already know the post. Show it to me." And He may show it to me right away, or it may be a few days before a blog-worthy drama/tragedy/comedy happens. But I believe this is the one He had for me on this cozy sick day. 

And then I pray the right people, the people who need it, will read this one. And then I hit "publish."

Grace and grace and grace,
Martha





Saturday, January 24, 2015

Carpool Conversations

The car. The place a war can start in less than a nanosecond, even among siblings who do strange things like spontaneously hug one another or willingly share their toys. The car brings out the absolute worst in children. When they are babies they scream because they are jammed into their infant carseat. When they are toddlers, they must constantly have a snack they will spill, a sippy cup full of milk they will drop under the seat which will fester until you want to puke from the smell, and heaven help your leather interior if you let the toddler get a hold of a writing instrument. Here in the elementary school years one incorrect eye movement can prompt a complete hissy fit from the sibling who got "looked at funny!" A sister in your favorite booster, even though all the boosters are exactly the same, will prompt, "You better get up, or I am going to tell mom what you did six months ago that one time." A child who is cold will cry abuse when a sibling pouring sweat requests a little AC on a hot August day. The sister who needs help buckling her seat belt is a pariah who, at all costs, must not be sat beside.  

I am ashamed to say some of my less fine parenting moments have been in the car. I sink to their level and yell about their yelling, scream at them to stop screaming, and then enforce total silence. Actually, when we get to that point it makes for a really pleasant trip.  

When we were kids there weren't so many car seat, booster, seat belt, don't sit up front until you are 30 or 300 pounds, and wear-your-race-car-harness-at-all-times rules. I distinctly remember hanging over my mom's shoulder from the back of our silver Cadillac, messing with her hair while she drove. Dad would slam on the brakes trying to toss us down from the back window sill onto the unsuspecting shoulders of the siblings sitting in the seat. Mom would let me reach across the steering wheel and turn on the turn signal. And whose turn it was to sit up front could start a bloodbath. Every single time. I have nightmares about the time my dad pulled the car over when we were battling over who had crossed which imaginary line on the bench seat. He charged out of the car, climbed a hill next to the road and came back with what we down South call a switch. He didn't need to use it because we weren't crazy. We shut that mess up right away. 

My brother and I washing the "Silver Slime."

At one point we had one of those giant blue station wagons with wood down the sides that had two seats which folded out in the very back. Those were the seats you would fight to be in so you could wave at all the poor strangers who pulled up at the stop light behind you. Tons of kids could fit in that thing. And because seat belts weren't a law yet, you just piled them on top of each other, on the floor, in laps, anywhere they fit. When our cousins would come to town we would get eight kids and four adults in there, no problem. It was awesome.  

Now we live in the safety era where a person can be sued over anything, so we must strap, buckle, and tie ourselves into a seat every time we get in the car. Our children know no different. Which is really ok with me. If they were hanging over my shoulder while I was driving I would be tempted to practice my backhand every now and again. 

We live next door to my oldest brother and his family which is so, so fun. (My other brother - the crazy good realtor and the one in the picture with the Silver Slime - could have lived next door to us, but in order to still like us and our kids felt it was necessary to live 30 minutes away.)

Anyways, next-door-brother happens to have three boys in contrast to our three girls. It makes for some interesting games, like playing "Mom and Dad" and then after the dollies are put in their cradles, Mom and Dad end up creaming each other with nerf guns. Or "Mermaids" in the redneck-above-ground-pool turns into "The Day the Sea Monsters Ate All the Mermaids." 

Taking care of their sweet ride.


Five of these six kids go to the same ahh-mazing school, and the other one has graduated on to a school that is close by, so it only makes sense that they ride together. Most afternoons find my sister-in-law's or my minivan crammed full of these six kids, which can lead to some serious insanity. If you ever drive any kids at all around you know what a simple 20 minute ride can turn into. (Remember when my friend's kid ate his carseat?)

For a while these kids were all super into one particular CD, which was one I liked, too. But then they played that CD, and really one particularly fast, loud, "rocking out" song on that CD four hundred bazillion times. Now when I hear the opening riff of that song I whimper and curl up into a ball. It's really a Pavlov's Dog situation. I can't help it. Kinda dangerous when I have a car full of them though. I also feel like that with all songs from Disney movies, a CD full of "fun songs for kids" which includes "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt" (get me a sharpened pencil, stat!), and honestly with this one kids' worship CD, which makes me feel really guilty for hating worship music. There's just only so many times I can listen to them repeat, "Every move I make, I make in you..." I know that makes me terrible. Pray for me.    

These kiddos also make for some downright hilarious conversations (well, hilarious and sometimes incredibly annoying). 

For example...

"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
"Knock-knock."
"Who's there?"
Repeated at least twenty times until I told the "knock knock" kid she was not allowed to say those words ever again in her whole life. Kid goes, "But that's who's there! Knock-knock!!" (I let her live.)

Or...
I don't understand why we can't eat boogers. 

Or...
Where is the only place on your body you can you put your left hand that your right hand can't reach it? (Think about it. I'll tell you at the end. This one was actually interesting.)

Or...
Did you know you can't think about 'clear?' You just can't. You have to picture something behind it. And that's not clear. (You are trying it right now. I know you are.)

Or...
I dissected a worm today so after I get my chores done I'm going to come over and use your really, really nice kitchen scissors and show you what's inside one. 

Or...
What if I'm really a baby, and this is all a dream I'm having? (this child can be very Waiting for Godot)

Or...
Can we stop and get ice cream? (even though this particular child has been told EVERY SINGLE DAY that we will stop and get ice cream on the first day of the month and THAT IS ALL)

Or...
You also can't think about nothing because you will think about black and black is something. (You are trying this, too.)

Or...
No, I don't.
Yes, you do.
No, I don't.
Yes, you do.
No, I don't.
Yes, you do. (repeat for all eternity)

Or...
Let's sing 99 bottles of milk on the wall! (I almost tossed this kid out onto the side of the road for some nice trucker to pick up.)

Or...
Did you know that King Tut died from a mosquito bite? That's probably how you are all going to die. We have tons of mosquitoes here. 

Or...
Without turning around, tell me if my eyes are opened or closed. (HOW is this fun?)

Or...
I bet I can hum longer than you can without taking a breath.

Or...
There are 212 fire hydrants between our house and school.

Or...
Would you rather be eaten by an alligator or mauled by a bear? You HAVE to answer!

Or...
Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. Stop kicking my seat. FOR THE LOVE IF YOU KICK MY SEAT AGAIN I WILL NEVER BUY YOU ANOTHER PAIR OF SHOES, AND YOU WILL GRADUATE HIGH SCHOOL IN THOSE TWINKLE TOES!

Or...
Do you wanna smell my sock?

Or...
Let's see who can keep their hand touching the ceiling of the van all the way home.

Or...
How much longer? (This question makes me insane. We drive this route five days a week. The van could drive itself. How can you not know how much longer from any point in the commute?)

And on and on and on. 


But sometimes there are amazing conversations about life, and what God is doing, and how He is using this ahh-mazing school, and civil rights, and what reconciliation looks like, and how we can better use our time, talents, gifts, and resources to spread the Gospel and bring glory to the name of Jesus.

And then that ten seconds ends, and it's back to,

"No, I didn't."
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't"
"Yes, you did."
"No, I didn't...hey, pull my finger!"

***It's your right elbow. You are doing it right now, aren't you?***

Grace for carpoolers everywhere,
Martha

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#thestruggleisreal

After I put my last post out there onto the world wide intraweb, a friend of a friend left a comment saying he hopes my posts aren't to be taken seriously because I make having kids sound "horrifying." Then our mutual friend told me this friend was kind of flipping out because he is expecting his first child. I laughed my head off and then messaged that he should probably steer clear for a couple of years.

Seriously, I don't want to make having kids sound horrifying at all because it is my absolute favorite thing about life. But the struggle is REAL, to use a cliche hashtag. (My BFF's mom gets "hashtag" and "chevron" confused. Something about thinking it was really a pound sign and a gas station or something. I don't know.) My brother (the childless, stellar realtor one) told me this blog is "a great insight into you guys' world." Because you just can't know or probably see the humor in some of these things if you still think babies are adorable little people who smell freshly bathed all the time and never do things like have exploding diapers, rub mashed sweet potatoes in their hair or eat snails and dirt just because they are right at their eye level.

If you are a parent, I bet you identify with something I have posted. Or really, if you have been around babies much. If you are not or you haven't I can see how you could be afraid of this blog. It is meant to be entertaining and let you know there are others

I am so fortunate to have a really great group of women friends, some from age five, some from the past five years, and some from the past five months. I love women who can be real, and God has placed so many of these precious women in my path. I love when my phone whistles, indicating I have a text, especially if it is from one of these ladies I adore. They are the picture of solidarity. They are no holds barred. And they are full of grace and in love with Jesus. They all told me I could publish our texts here, and they even said I could say their names. But I won't. Because someday, their children will read this and be all Mommy Dearest. Here are some examples of how we encourage one another:

"I never dropped the F bomb until stepping on a Lego barefoot"
Now this is so encouraging to me because I do NOT drop the F bomb. My word of choice starts with "sh" and that isn't nearly as bad as the F bomb. Especially in Jesus' eyes. Says so in, uh, Proverbs. 

"I cannot go see a movie that starts at 7:35 because I can't stay up that late."
I love this because I actually panic if it gets to be 9:00, and I am not in my bed watching Friends yet. 

"Last night I hit a new low and dipped the kids' goldfish crackers in a stick of butter. Did that about 20 times."
This is from one of my all time favorite people whom I have adored since we met in kindergarten thirty years ago. It should also be noted she is pregnant with her fourth child. I love love love her. She thinks she's on her way to the 200 pound threshold which makes me love her even more. 

"My kid refused all supper except for the condiments. He ate a whopping dollop of sour cream and ketchup for dinner."
He got a serving of veggies and dairy. Way to go, Mom!

"The WHINING that is going on over here is about to make me LOSE it!"
I texted this to one of my dearest when we made the girls have a chore day, which is, of course, everyone's favorite. It was like we were asking them to chop down the whole forest when we told them we would be getting a load of firewood. "Stay strong!" was the encouraging response I got. If you let them see weakness, you're done. 

"I just finished an entire bag of chips which is both an accomplishment and an embarrassment. And it's about to happen with a bag full of mini-oreos."
I have achieved those goals myself a time or two.

"My kids ate Eggo waffles for dinner."
Better than ketchup and sour cream.

"Kindergarteners are a pain. So are second graders who try to read texts over my shoulder."
Amen and amen. 

"If your children are alive at the end of the night, you can claim success. If you are alive - bonus points!"
This is just common knowledge, especially among moms with travelling husbands as two of my dear friends' husbands do several nights each week.

"I've given up. Baths aren't happening."
Americans are way too obsessed with cleanliness. That's what we tell ourselves on nights like this.

"It's not even 6 pm and I'm already contemplating chocolate...or wine."
This kind of discouraged me a little because I usually only make it to about 3:30 before I begin this internal debate.

"Coffee at my house tomorrow after drop off. Anyone is welcome."
There is no encouragement better than coffee and conversation with sisters.

"I don't need to go visit the zoo....because I LIVE in a zoo."
You know you have wished you got some monkeys instead of kids at one point or another.

"Most of the time I feel like burning the playroom."
One time I snuck down in the middle of the night with a match fully intending to do just that. Ok, I didn't but knowing someone else has that fantasy sure made me feel a little more sane.

"Wish ya'll could see my house right now. It looks like Hiroshima. And the kitchen is ground zero."
How does this happen every single day? Right now, the kids are gone, I cleaned the kitchen, but earlier it looked like this: 

Hiroshima. And why is there a power drill on the counter??

"Can I use this pen to gouge out my eardrums?"
Now this is a common question for parents everywhere when "Let it Go" comes on or whatever song is the current rage among 4 - 8 year olds. I have repeatedly looked at a pencil trying to decide if it was sharp enough for this exact thing. 

"I just ate a handful of Pirate Booty for dinner."
Of course you did! Some nights, who has time for more between indoor/outdoor soccer, parent meetings, making condiments for your kids' supper, Wednesday night church, baths, homework, piano, mowing, making lunches, and on and on and on and on. 

"I literally rolled out of bed and put on yesterday's clothes."
See number 3 on this post.

"How do you organize ALL THE SHOES in your house?"
I was able to respond to this with the encouragement that the girls just kick them off wherever and then try to remember where they kicked them off when my voice reaches a decibel level only dogs can hear. It's super organized. 

"Rocking in a fetal position and going to my happy place now."
Yes. My happy place is in front of Friends reruns. Is anyone else paralyzed by the awesomeness that all ten seasons are on Netflix and feel that until you have watched all ten seasons you are incapable of accomplishing anything? And also that Chandler, Monica, Joey, Phoebe, Rachel and Ross are your close personal friends? No? Me neither. 

"Why do they have to eat dinner again?"
Again, I offered much encouragement when I told this mom my stand by plan: cereal. Ain't no shame. 

"All three of my children are in time out."
As they should be! For at least half the day.

"Cappuccino spilled inside my cupboard. Don't even ask how it got there."
This made me feel awesome, seeing as we have only lived in this house 8 months and the inside of the baking cupboard would feed our family for a week. Cleaning cupboards just is not real high on the priority list.

"Ya'll might need to come check me out of the psych ward."
This has been texted more than once, and we are all reassured by these texts:
"Would love to do that!"
"Happy to help!"
"I am totally willing to do that!"
Because we all just know. (And actually these three texts were in response to whether or not we could help another mom with child care. So sweet to have instant responses offering life to a busy, tired mom.) 

"Approximately 78 hours until girls night!"
I had actually started counting down at 120 but was too embarrassed to admit it.

"We just spent 30 minutes inside Barnes and Noble and when we came out the van door was open."
This was me. I was a little disappointed no one took the van. Others concurred that this had happened to them as well. How hard is it to push a button and close the door? It only takes ONE FINGER!

"My husband accidentally gave NyQuil to one of the kids before school."
It's ok. It's the teacher's problem now.

"I'm trying to make all those Christmas ornaments and ran out of glue! My husband just suggested looking up a recipe for homemade glue. I may or may not have threatened death."
We all encouraged this husband to immediately get his tail in the car and go to Walgreen's for some glue. Like, IMMEDIATELY.

"One of my children threw a fit because I put butter on her waffle."
Now, I had to defend the child on this one. I mean, if you don't want butter and your unthoughtful mother butters it anyways, that is just criminal.

"I really need to take up drinking."
We have a teetotaler in our group and sometimes she gets jealous of these texts.

"Do you think our mothers talked to their friends like this?"
Gosh, I hope so.

"Jesus + nothing = ENOUGH! But wine, coffee and great girlfriends help A LOT!"
Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes.

"I soooo look forward to and love our texting conversations that pop up during the week. I WILL MISS THAT. In a short amount of time you each have made me laugh, tear up a bit, laugh, love my kiddos better, laugh, turned me toward Jesus and laugh."
This friend was leaving on a girls trip to an EXTREMELY exotic location, so I don't really feel bad that she misses us. But I feel the same way. She is supposed to be getting us name key chains. She better come through!

"We ARE praying. And He is in your mess. Praying that WE BELIEVE He is in all of our messes."

"We had an awful night and a miserable morning...Sorry, praying"

"I am thankful for you. Within a matter of seconds I had some sweet sisters standing with me in prayer."

"Oh, how I try to do this parenting thing on my own. But we need Jesus."

"You are awesome sauce!'

"You are some of the best mothers I know."

"I vow to take us all to the throne of Jesus in prayer."

"I love you and you crack me up!"

These women are the hands and feet of Jesus to me.

"I love these texting conversations. My norm does not seem so crazy." 
And this is the point of this blog. Not to discourage you in your parenting or encourage you not to have children - but to let you know that SOMEONE out there is feeling what you are feeling. And enduring or has endured the day you are having. No, I've not had any parenting crises of real merit. But I have had days where the crazy threatened to overwhelm. But I know my children are a gift, entrusted to me by the Lord Jesus, and will be on their own in a few short years. Please, please, please, Lord.

I pray for everyone who reads this blog. Let me encourage you to leave your crazy comments, especially if you don't have a group of crazy girlfriends to text. Put it here. I will laugh with you. And pray for you. Because otherwise we'd just cry all day. 

Savor it, people. 

With any luck, someday they'll have their own yard apes and read this blog for comfort.

Grace for today and all crazy days,
Martha 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Most Important Survey You'll Ever Take

Laundry is the bane of my existence.

Really.

Let me start by saying I think it is a miraculous act of God that I have two big white boxes that wash and dry clothes, (and that I got to get a new washer so I would no longer have to yell at our old one) and I do not have to wash our clothes in the sewage filled river as some women do. That said, I really hate them. They are the source of great distress. And this blog post will not have a redemptive ending like this one did. Read on anyways and share my pain.

The absolute BIGGEST fight of our marriage has been ongoing for almost 14 years now, and it centers around a laundry incident. Within ten minutes of meeting someone I have been known to ask, "Who checks pockets? The washer? Or the wearer?" and if you answer incorrectly our relationship will end there.

It all started before we even got married when we decided I would do laundry, and he would iron. But here's the thing: I DESPISE ironing and always have and do not buy things that will need to be ironed because I will wear them one time, wash them, and then never again because they, say it with me, need to be ironed. I obviously didn't think this deal through, but up to this point the amount of laundry wasn't an issue (oh, how that would change once kids entered the scene). In fact, back in those days, the only time you actually needed to do laundry was when you ran out of underwear. I had a college roommate who would wear her bikini bottoms when this happened. I won't call her out, but you know who you are. Honestly if I'd had the body for bikinis I would have done it, too. It's a lot harder to wear a skirted one piece under your jeans and sorority T-shirt.

Anyways, I didn't mind the laundry really. It only had to be done every other weekend or so, even for the two of us. No big deal at all.

But then, the "incident."

It started when, against my better (waaaaay better) judgment, I got Preston a Titans football jersey for his birthday. I think we were on marriage year two or so, which means we were roughly 24 or 25 years old. Old enough to not wear jerseys ever. No grown man should wear a sports jersey unless he has signed a contract for $75,000,000 with a guaranteed signing bonus. But the Titans were actually good back then, and he loved to go to the games on Sunday afternoons and really wanted a stupid jersey. And I was still enamored by him and bought him one. If I only could have seen the future. This mistake marked the beginning of our decades long fight.

He wore the jersey a lot, and seemed to enjoy wearing it in public. To spite me. He thinks things like that are really funny. In fact, as I was working on this post, he came in from the school dance he had been chaperoning and THIS IS WHAT HE WAS WEARING. I asked him to put it back on this morning so I could take his picture and now he won't take it off. Like I said, he's a funny, funny man. 


This is his Zoolander pose. He thinks he's hot.

So one time, I pulled the jersey out of the dryer after washing it, per our agreement, and it had gum all over it. Pink gum. I don't chew pink gum, so I knew it was his, but I knew this was bad, so I acted very maturely and picked as much off as I could and then buried it at the bottom of his t-shirt pile.

We were headed to vacation at the beach, and back then I packed for him. That sounds insane now, but I did. Oh my gosh, that's really cracking me up. I can't believe I used to pack his clothes. Ahh, young love.

Since I was in charge of packing I made sure I didn't pack the jersey. But somehow on the drive down, it came up. We were riding with my parents, who never ever fought in front of us while we were growing up. I thought married people didn't fight. The first time Preston and I fought I seriously thought it was over. Preston knows this so I figured it was a good time to tell him about the jersey. "He won't yell at me in front of my folks!" thought I. I thought wrong.

He was livid. I mean, so mad. Over a jersey.

So I just took his wrath, but when we got in private, I let him have it. (I know you are shocked by that given my demure personality.) We went some rounds. He blamed me for not checking his pockets. (I guess since I packed for him like he was a little boy it wasn't really that outrageous of an assumption that I would also check his sweet little pockets.) I blamed him for not checking his pockets. We were deadlocked. No resolution was arrived at, but I resigned from doing his laundry right then and there.

Fast forward about three months. We were having supper at the home of an older couple we really looked up to and were really mature in their faith, so I surveyed them, phrasing it as, "Who's fault was it?" And she asked, "Why does it have to be someone's fault?"

I was confused.

Of course it was his fault. He should apologize and grovel.

But I felt convicted by this woman who loved Jesus more than I did, so I apologized; he apologized (for embarrassing me in front of my parents - not for the gum - this is an important fact for later), and I resumed the laundry duties.

Until it happened again.

And there was another blow up.

And then again.

And again.

And then one time, about ten years in, I washed his wallet. Because he hadn't checked his pockets and neither had I. And oh, my word. That was not a pretty afternoon. That was the maddest each of us has ever been with each other. He kept insisting the only way to be sure nothing got washed is if the washer checked pockets and I kept telling him I was about to call a lawyer and get an annulment because he was obviously insane and I was getting the heck out. 

But then, the moment of truth. 

I told him, with steel in my eyes and in a cold, spookily even voice, if he ever, ever complained again when something he left in his pocket got washed, I would not be caught dead doing his laundry again, not if we both lived to be 287, I would not do his laundry.

And it hasn't been talked about since.

So I win. I'm proud of that. And ashamed. But I win.

Since I started writing this we actually had the joy of getting to see one of my college roommates (not bikini girl) and her husband (who happens to be one of Preston's best friends from growing up - they are how we got together - a story for another day). The subject of this blog came up, and I was briefing them on the topic of this post. Preston was silent because he knows what the consequences will be if he even utters a sound on the subject. Her husband, who, let me remind you, is one of Preston's life-long best friends, said, "Gotta tell you, Man, I agree with Martha." I love him so much. Preston remained silent. He knows. 

So that issue has become a nonissue. 

But now laundry has a whole different set of issues. Quantity is the biggest one. Our oldest child used to be a spit up machine. But she had a ridiculous number of burp cloths and dozens of darling outfits, so I would just change her and toss the soiled ones into her cute little laundry basket. (Why must everything in a nursery coordinate? The baby doesn't care and after the first sleepless week, you are incapable of caring about world peace much less a coordinated, gender specific nursery.) But when I went to do the laundry after a week, everything in the basket was growing stuff. Like black and green mold. It was a flippin' science experiment in the cute little nursery.

So I tossed out everything that was hopeless and learned to do laundry every single dadgum day.

And now between clothes, sheets, towels, placemats, napkins, dog poop covered shoes, dishtowels, blankies, hats, coats and socks for five people, laundry comes out to about two loads a day just to keep up. Throw a stomach bug into the mix, and it can easily climb to five. And then it all needs to be sorted, folded, and put away.

I know I am supposed to pull laundry out of the dryer the instant it stops so things won't wrinkle, but I think we have already established I don't care about wrinkles. My BFF from college used to iron my clothes for me because it made her crazy to see me in all my wrinkly glory, but I truly don't care. And kids don't care either. And Preston teaches P.E. and wears Nike and Under Armour all the time, which is impossible to wrinkle, so I don't pull stuff out of the dryer in a timely fashion at all.


I put this photo on fb a few weeks ago and every mom I know liked it. Because this is reality. You know your house looks like this right now. 



Eventually though I will pull it out and squish it into a laundry basket so I can toss the next load into the dryer. Then I will pull that load out and squish that one on top of the one I pulled out the day before. And on it goes until I just can't take it and resign myself to the fact that the folding fairies are actually a myth and so is the husband who folds clothes, so I have to do it.

I dump all the baskets of perfectly wrinkled clothes out onto our king sized bed. I can't even see the bedspread. And I start to fold. If the kids aren't home, I will watch "Friends" and pretend I am in Central Perk with the gang. If the girls are around I have to a) leave the TV off or b) watch Bonnie Bear, which makes me want to gouge out my eyeballs.

So I get everything folded, and then comes the putting away. The girls have to put away their own clothes. I mean, why the heck do I waste time folding them? They fling them into drawers willy-nilly, unfolding things, mixing underwear up with sweaters and in general undoing everything I just did. This will cause me to melt down in epic proportions. I will yell about how they don't appreciate me. How I hope they have identical quadruplets and then they will know how hard I work. And no, I will not babysit them!

I also refuse to scrub stains. It is just so totally pointless. I listed here all the events that are likely to occur here at our house, but that really isn't even the half of it. If I scrubbed stains, I would never do anything else ever. I did try to get a dry erase marker stain out of a brand new white school uniform shirt from the very first day it was ever worn, but there was no hope for it, so I just won't do it. Children in stained clothes was another area I used to judge in along with all these other things. Now I just figure the mother of that messy little child is one wise lady who has millions and billions of other things she needs to do.

Again, I always want to reiterate how glad I am for clothes, a magic machine that washes and dries everything, a husband (even in his stupid, stupid jersey) and three little children to mess everything up. I wouldn't have it in any other way.

Unless Brad Pitt comes calling and then I am outta here. I'm sure he checks his pockets. 

Grace for today and all your laundering woes,
Martha

P.S. When I was thinking of a title for this post one girl said it should be "Laundry is the Worst!" and another one said, "Poop Head." Just because. Come on, Brad!! Where you at?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Judgy Judgerson's Top Ten

I used to be the most judgmental person on the entire planet. I was full of pride. I was a Pharisee. I would thank God for giving me more sense than He had obviously given to other people. I would never be like that. I would never allow that. I would never resort to that. I would never let that happen. 

And then I had kids.

Things I swore before I had kids:

1. My child will never throw a fit in public, and if she does, well, that will be the only time!

B.C. Martha (before children Martha
So obviously those kids you hear screaming in the store are the offspring of total degenerates. I mean, why can't their parents get that under control? Or just leave them at home with a babysitter and not ruin life for the rest of us? I'm just trying to eat my dinner/get my groceries/sip my latte/try on shoes/worship/look at All The Fab Things in Target (the only store necessary for survival according to my eight year old) in peace. That parent just needs to take charge. Don't they know there is a nursery in this church?

A.D. Martha (after the death of everything Martha thought she knew)
That poor parent with the screaming child I can hear from all the way on the other side of Target. I bet they have told that child they can't get the toy/gum/candy they are asking for since they just got plenty of all those things yesterday at Christmas, or have told them they can no longer hide in the clothing racks causing parental panic when they can't be found, and the child is throwing a huge fit at the injustice of it all. I bet that parent is scrambling to get out of the store, tossing those few final things in their cart, face red from embarrassment at the knowledge there are plenty of B.C Marthas in the store grumbling about the out of control toddler and the parent who can't get it together enough to get through an hour long shopping trip. And even though the child was admonished to "act like you've been in public before" and will be given consequences once they can actually get the heck out of this store, all those B.C. Marthas are judging the awful parenting. And I know for a fact that poor parent is probably thinking, "I am an awful parent. My children are going to be serial killers. I probably need to put all this stuff back and start saving for bail money." 

A.D. Martha
Oh, I know that mother probably tried to drop her baby off in the nursery and the baby cried so hard she turned purple, breaking the mother's heart, so she just brought her on into worship thinking, "All these people love Jesus, and He Himself said something about letting the little children come unto Him. Surely there are no B.C. Marthas in worship! This will be fine." And oh, she was so wrong. All those BC Marthas are wondering why you didn't put that kid in the nursery and how in the world can I pray for all the lost people of the world when you sit there with your fussy baby? 

A.D Martha
Those parents were so desperate for a night out they brought their 6 month old and two year old to this nice restaurant with them. I bet they saved up for a month to be able to come to this place and didn't have enough left for a sitter. And now their toddler, who actually napped extra long today so they thought they would be safe to bring her out tonight, is throwing her fork on the floor repeatedly, and the baby just spit up. I know they are humiliated but the poor things can't quite seem to catch the eye of the waiter who is really avoiding their table like the plague so they can get the dadgum check and escape this evening that turned out horribly. And the B.C. Marthas over there on their first date keep giving them the evil eye. 

2. I will never feed my kids fast food!

B.C. Martha
Look at that minivan full of kids and that mom with her messy ponytail. I bet she's ordering everyone happy meals and super sizing their french fries. Didn't she watch that food documentary about how awful fast food is during her free time? I bet those nuggets are made of chicken beaks, and the fries are fried in canola oil! Surely she's heard about the miracles of coconut oil! I don't understand why she can't get up and make some bread in the morning. It doesn't take that long. And how much effort is it to bake a chicken or make your own nuggets? I just know she let those kids get coke. Oh, the high fructose corn syrup! The artificial coloring! The caffeine! Those kids probably won't even grow one more inch.

A.D. Martha
I can just tell that sweet mom has had it. It has been one of those days. Her significant other just called to say he has to work late, and she will be on her own for the whole supper and bedtime mess. She said things she regrets but unfortunately can't stuff back in her mouth and had a mini breakdown while the kids dumped out all the legos, polly pockets, and a jar of pennies and mixed it together in her biggest mixing bowl. She has just got to get through the next two hours, so for everyone's sanity said they could go to the golden arches for a once-every-six-months treat. And she's feeling so terribly guilty because she did watch the documentary everyone's been talking about and knows what she's feeding them probably isn't real food but she was desperate. I hope her husband forgives her when he comes in late, exhausted because he really didn't want to work late but didn't have a choice, and she has waited up to apologize to him. I sure hope all those kids sleep through the night.

3. I will never wear that!l

B.C. Martha
Ugh! Those mom jeans are so awful! Why does she pull them up so high? Probably because she still has a tummy from having all those kids trailing after her, and if she tried to wear low slung jeans she would have a muffin top. Why doesn't she take a class at the rec center and lose that belly? They have free child care there, don't they? And those yoga pants aren't any better! I've seen her around town in those three days in a row, and I know for a fact they are the same ones because there is stain on the back that I bet she doesn't even know is there! I will always look put together. And there will be no baby weight by my six week postpartum appointment. Priorities, people!

A.D. Martha
Look at that tired momma in those jeans. I bet she hasn't been able to afford a new pair what with having, it looks like maybe three?, kids in diapers. And I bet she would so love to have a new pair but is trying to lose that last ten pounds before she shops. I'm sure she's tried exercising, but when she went to the rec center in her sweats all the other women had on skin tight leggings and looked super fit, and another child taught one of her children the "F" word in the child care room, and the child care worker came and got her out of the zumba class she was feeling ridiculous in because the baby was crying hysterically and wouldn't settle down, so that discouraged her from ever going to the rec center again. And every time she tries to take 20 minutes and do a work-out video at home all hell breaks loose. And by the time all the kids are in bed she is so tired she can't think about anything except a glass of wine and a rerun of "Friends." I know she keeps her washing machine going 24/7 but probably just doesn't even think about throwing in her own clothes since there are so many loads of burp cloths, uniforms, nightgowns, vomit bedsheets, towels and dishrags to keep up with. I bet she just grabbed those pants off the floor because she was in such a hurry to get to the crying baby before it woke up any of the other kids.

4. Babies won't change us! 

B.C. Martha
see this post

A.D. Martha
see this post

5. I will keep up with everything going on at their school, never be late, and volunteer all the time.

B.C. Martha
When we have kids, they will be our top priority. I just can't understand how some people have kids and then don't want to be involved. I mean, that must be the reason. Why else would you work and not stay home with your kids? Surely there are budget items that can be cut enough so you don't have to take on a job. And all these moms who are always dropping their kids off late! Why don't they just get everyone up five minutes earlier? And where are these parents who don't even bother to show up on parent-teacher conference night? They really don't care. I haven't even met Jim Bob's mom. Why hasn't she volunteered to cut something out at least once? I could solve all these people's problems. I am so wise at the ripe old age of 22. 

A.D. Martha
My heart is shattering into pieces as I leave my child yet again to go off to a job I really need to work at to make all the ends meet. She is screaming, and it is taking all my self control not to completely lose it right here and make the situation a million times worse. I wish I could just figure out how to cut our grocery budget and get everything we need for the month for $2 like those extreme couponers I've heard about on that cable TV show I've never seen since we cut cable six years ago. And that field trip she's been begging me to go on! If I go it will cost me $50 in time missed from work and another $10 entrance to the zoo and the gas it takes to drive a van full of kids, so we are looking at about a $75 day, but I really want to go. What could we give up this month so I can go? But all the kids have a field trip this month. How do I choose whose to go on? Maybe Preston could take a personal day and go on one. But he only gets two personal days, because yes, he has the whole summer off, and we are so fortunate for that - teachers have the easiest job with the most breaks, we knew the pay scale when we chose this profession...blah blah blah. Anyways, I know that mom who is dropping her kid at day care doesn't want to be doing that but probably DOES NOT HAVE ANOTHER OPTION. Or at least not another option for today. Bless bless bless her. 

6. Preston and I will stay disgustingly romantic.

B.C. Martha 
I just can't understand why people have more problems after the babies come along. I mean, you just have to remember your priorities. You made a commitment and need to stick with it. If you just continue to do the little things for each other, talk out problems, carve out time alone, your marriage will stay perfect, and you will be able to agree on everything.

A.D. Martha
I am so sorry for those friends I heard about whose marriage is on the rocks. I bet things really changed in ways they couldn't even imagine after having kids. Children just demand so much of your time, not because you let them, but because they just do, what with their inability to feed themselves, dress themselves, bathe themselves, change their own diapers. I know they wanted more than anything to be together and have an uninterrupted conversation, but how is that supposed to happen? How can a person predict a night of a child's bad dreams which keep you up, too and the utter exhaustion that comes with it? And what about that unexpected transmission repair which meant he had to pick up some extra hours to pay for? I bet they wished they had discussed whether or not they thought piano lessons were important before they had kids. It is only by the grace of God that we are able to keep our own marriage vows, so I definitely understand where they are. 

7. I will never drive a minivan.

B.C. Martha
I hate when I get behind a minivan at a stoplight! Inevitably the poorly attired woman driving it is using the opportunity to turn around and stuff a pacifier in someone's mouth, or swat at the child who is swatting at her sister, or pick up a spilled snack. Lots of problems here: they should have never let the baby have a pacifier. Don't they know it will ruin the shape of the baby's mouth? They should teach their children to love their siblings! My kids won't even want to swat at one another. And we will have a firm "no snacks in the SUV rule." Because I will have an SUV, not a van, even though it costs so much more in gas. And it will stay clean. They will learn to pick up after themselves. 

A.D. Martha

I refuse to take a picture of the inside. 


8. I won't use screens to babysit my kids.

B.C. Martha
All these kids with their faces buried in their electronic devices! Whatever happened to books? My children will learn to read by age 3, 4 at the latest, and will love to read. We will go to the library at least once a week and always, always return our books on time. They will learn to go on long car trips without a DVD player. We will just play road trip games like, "count the cows." They will play quietly while I get all the household chores done. There's nothing good on TV anyways.

A.D. Martha
Oh, I know how that mom in front of me in line feels, paying $12 in late fees. Just last week I had to buy an Eric Carle book we haven't been able to find since 2008. And that mom letting her kid watch cartoons on her phone while she gets groceries? Of course she is! It's the only way to avoid a scene from #1! You are headed out of town next week? Let me give you our portable DVD player and our 50 DVDs. Otherwise you will be stuck playing "count how many times Daddy threatens to pull the car over." The best way to get the dishes done is to turn on Strawberry Shortcake. And put it on repeat. 

9. My kids will always pick up after themselves.

B.C. Martha
I am total type A. I love a picked up house. Really not only picked up, but organized. There's no reason kids can't get on board with that. If they can pick up a toy to play with it they can certainly pick it up to put it away. And if they leave something on the floor, off to a charity it goes. I will not let my cozy home be overrun by them.

A.D. Martha


Cozy, right?


10. I will always be consistent.

B.C. Martha
Consistency is key. Children thrive on consistency. They need to know what to expect. I will always, always provide this for my children. Once decided, I won't be shaken. The day will go as I have planned. 

A.D. Martha
Lately I was lamenting this, and Preston said, "We are consistent: consistently inconsistent." While A.D. Martha does still think this is important on some things, life is in constant flux and what worked yesterday may not work today. Flexibility is my new motto. "Lord, bring us what you have for us today, make us a blessing to someone today, and show us who needs Your kindness today." This is what I pray with the girls on the way to school each day. And when He brings it, I want to be ready! 



There are so many more areas I judged in, blog post upon blog post, and honestly in my deepest, darkest, inmost self where I am even more terrible than I think I am, I still judge. But mostly, you will get the benefit of the doubt from me. This mom life is hard. And awesome. And so, so worth it. 

Even on days I have to repeat that to myself through clenched teeth.

Grace and no judgment for today,
Martha