Play Alone Time

09/19/2016

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A: Why do I have to play alone?
M: Because Mommy needs some alone time.
A: Can’t you just pretend to be alone?

My 5-year-old hates to be alone. Whether it’s her personality, a result of her past, because she was an only child for most of her first 4 years or a combination of all of those; she wants constant feedback and attention. She loves to perform and loves to talk. When her little brother was born and as she started out-growing naps, it became apparent to me that we needed to institute some quiet alone time. For my sanity. And to teach her a skill she is lacking. As I’m writing this post right now she’s sitting at the desk next to me writing letters to “sick people” and chattering out loud the whole time, asking for my attention every 30 seconds or so.

Play alone time.

I think I found this blog post on Pinterest when Isaiah was an infant and I was desperate for 5 minutes without someone talking to/at me. It seemed like one of those obvious parenting moves that I had regretfully overlooked for four years. We should have been teaching her all along to play alone. Don’t misunderstand; kids need time with peers and time with parents and loads of attention. But learning to be content alone and play alone are life skills. Starting with 5-minute increments and working up to an hour, I’ve been teaching my kids to play alone. My 1-year-old can currently play alone contently longer than my 5-year-old. (Again, I wish I had started teaching her this skill a long time ago!) We’re up to 15-30 minutes now.

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It’s amazing what I can get done in 15-30 minutes alone. It’s like a deep breath for my mind. I can get the dishwasher unloaded or dinner prepped. I can respond to emails. I can write a blog post. I can finish a graphic design project. Rachel, the writer of the blog post I mentioned above, has some great tips for how to teach your child to play alone. One benefit that I’m not sure if she mentions in her blog, my kids are more eager to play together after they’ve spent some time playing alone. Do yourself and your child a favor and start doing this if you don’t already!

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Quest for the Perfect Kid-Chasing Mom Sneakers

06/13/2016

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I’ve got these blue Adidas running shoes that I love. I bought them for jogging but with two little ones, I can’t seem to figure out when to go for an honest-to-goodness jog anymore. Also, I might die if I tried. But, I do a lot of running around just chasing the kids. These kicks are my go-to if we’re planning on a good amount of walking, especially while I’m pregnant…and especially after I broke my toe and I need good support. They’re getting pretty tired-looking and my birthday is coming up so I started searching for a replacement. Naturally, the journey began with inspiration from Pinterest…

I’m liking the black!

Meet the candidates (AKA my top choices):

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1. adidas NEO Men’s SE Daily Vulc Lifestyle Skateboarding Shoe (Black/Black/White)

2. New Balance Women’s WZ501V1 90’s Classic Sneaker

3. adidas NEO Men’s SE Daily Vulc Lifestyle Skateboarding Shoe (Navy/Clear Onix Grey/White)

4. adidas NEO Men’s Daily Lifestyle Skateboarding Sneaker (Black/Clear Onix Grey/Black)

5. New Balance Women’s WL574 Acrylic Pack Classic Sneaker

6. adidas NEO Men’s Daily Lifestyle Skateboarding Sneaker (Collegiate Navy/Collegiate Navy/Brown)

I’ll let you know what I end up with. I’m currently leaning toward #1.


Becoming a Mother

01/12/2015

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When does a woman become a mother? Is it when she conceives for the first time? Is it when she becomes aware of her baby? Is it when she first holds her child in her arms?

I pondered those questions as I was decorating a nursery, taking infant CPR classes, buying car seats and driving a minivan. No baby was growing in my womb, known or unbeknownst to me. I had not see my first child’s face, breathed her name or held her in my arms.

Yet, I felt like a mother.

So, I asked God, “When does a woman become a mother?”

Read the rest of my blog post over at Dropping Anchors blog.


She Wants To Be Like Me

08/05/2014

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It’s simultaneously flattering and terrifying that I have a daughter who wants to be just like me. She sees the worst of me, along with the best. My biggest failures are most often toward those who I love the most: my husband and my daughter. I’ve had to ask her forgiveness so many times. She’s always gracious to forgive. She teaches me. When she offends me, I want to be mad; I want her to know that I’m mad. On the contrary, when I’ve lost my temper with her, she responds to my apologies with so much grace. “It’s OK, Mommy. Everyone makes mistakes sometimes. You just try again.”

The other day I was heading out to take care of the chickens. She asked, “Mommy, can I follow you?” She hurried to put her shoes on so she could shadow me on my chores. If I’m working, she wants to work. If I’m vacuuming, she wants to vacuum. If I’m cooking, she wants to cook. If I throw a fit when I’m mad, she throws a fit when she’s mad. If I bark commands at her, she barks commands at me (or others). If I sing and dance in worship, she sings and dances in worship. If I feel sick, she feels sick. When I see how much she wants to be like me, I’m humbled. I’m desperate to be more like Jesus so when she emulates me, she’s emulating Him.

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Jesus, help me to be like You. Help me to love my daughter well. Help me to be on her side and to model love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

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A Day in the Laundry

04/07/2014

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A reader challenged me to write a day in the life post. (Hi, Gabrielle!) I started thinking about Tuesdays, one of my two work-from-home days, when I do all of my laundry between working and parenting. A lot of people despise laundry but I really don’t mind it. In fact, I kind of like doing it… I thought I could share some ways I make it efficient so it doesn’t consume too much of my life.

Pick One Day
I do all of my laundry on one day for the most part. Exceptions are a load of towels or sheets thrown in at a random time during the week. Other than that, I follow my mom’s tradition of Tuesday being laundry day. I typically do 3 loads on a Tuesday: light, dark and extra-dirty OR light, bright and dark. I put the first load in around 8:00 in the morning. By mid-morning, I shift the first wet load into the dryer and the second load goes into the washer. After lunch it’s time for the first load to come out of the dryer, the second load goes into the dryer and the third load goes into the washer. Mid-afternoon the second load comes out of the dryer and the third/final load goes into the dryer. By evening the last load is dry and folded and everything is put away, typically before dinner.

Pre-Sort
Jason and I have two laundry baskets in our closet: one for dark clothes and one for light clothes. When I pull out our two baskets and Ali’s one basket on Tuesday mornings, it’s pretty quick to sort hers into ours. If I have more than two loads worth, I’ll split out a brights load. Extra-dirty stuff is in a separate basket in the laundry room. (Examples: Lucy’s dog crate blanket, Jason’s outdoor work clothes, muddy things, baby bibs, wash rags, toddler accident clothes)

Unload-Fold-Sort
I fold the clothes immediately after taking them out of the dryer and sort them as much as possible right then, too. The clothes never leave the laundry room until they’re taken to be put away. Each time the clothes move it adds more time. (You will never find laundry piled up in my living room or in folded stacks on my kitchen table—it’s either in our bedrooms or it’s in the laundry room.) The first load is folded while the second load is drying and the third is being washed. It takes 10-15 minutes. Since Jason and I have two baskets that go to our room, I put all of his clothes into one and mine into the other to speed up the putting away process. Ali’s clothes are small enough that I can make three piles in her basket as I’m folding her clothes: one for pjs, one for tops and one for bottoms—these coordinate with the three drawers in her dresser, making putting away her clothes take less than 5 minutes.

Helper
Ali loves to be my laundry helper. Sometimes her “help” slows me down but I realize I’m sowing seeds for the future so I never turn away her assistance . She’s good at helping me move the loads from washer to dryer. She also likes “the matching game” which is simply finding sock matches. Her folding, sorting and putting away skills are not there yet.

Breakdown:
First thing: colors sorted, first load in the washer (5 min.)
Mid-morning: first load into dryer, second load into washer (2 min.)
After lunch: first load out of dryer, second load into dryer, third load into washer. Fold and semi-sort the first load. (15 min.)
Mid-afternoon: second load out of dryer, third load into the dryer. Fold and semi-sort the second load. (15 min.)
Evening: last load out of dryer, folded and sorted. All laundry put away. (15-30 minutes)

There you have it. I do three loads of laundry in one day and it takes less than an hour. I admit, we have a few factors that make it easier on us. There are only 3 of us (for the moment). When we had two little girls it took much longer to sort through all their similar size and color little things. Also, Jason and I are not very big people so we can probably fit more of our clothes into a load than bigger people. And lastly, we re-wear a lot of clothes multiple times before washing, especially larger and heavier items like pants and sweaters. Oh, also, I very rarely iron anything.


Foster Care Ch. 4 Prep: Looking Forward, Looking Back

11/06/2013

As I spent the month of October preparing for our fourth child, I thought a lot about our first three. I’ve had this idea for a while but finally did it: an 8×10 photo, an initial and a shadow box of significant items for each child. It’s the start of our hallway gallery wall that might one day be full of difference faces and memories.

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I also make a necklace in honor of my motherhood to these three sweethearts.

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I made a CD of my “songs for the foster mama’s heart.”

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I got our next kid’s room ready, including setting up the pack n play in case we get a baby. (And if we do, I’ll probably end up buying a second crib because Ali is still using hers.)

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Lots of time was spent reading and praying, usually right in this spot on the couch in the morning before anyone else is up.

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I spent half of a Saturday cooking several gallons of soup and stocking it in the freezer.

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Sometimes I feel like the house is ready and other times I feel like I need a day to clean and organize. I know it’s ready enough and we have everything childproofed to DCS standards but I guess it’s just a nesting thing.

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Then I rearranged the next kid’s room a little bit. This bed seems to only work in this one spot in this room and it kind of drives me nuts. I’m thinking I’ll eventually move it into Ali’s room and get some regular bunk beds that can be switched into twin beds for maximum flexibility.

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Then more time has been spent resting, waiting, preparing, breathing deep in the now. A cup of tea on a sunny afternoon is balm to my soul.

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Joy and Sorrow and Heart Transplants

09/26/2013

 The anniversary of Ali joining our family and some recent news I got about her biological mother has stirred up a lot of sadness in me. I’m keenly aware that Alianna is my daughter because she was taken from another mother. September 21, 2011—day that I look back to and reflect on with joy and gratitude is a day that another woman’s heart was deeply wounded…not for the first time and not for the last time. I cry for her because I know what she is missing out on and I can’t imagine the pain of loss after loss.

It seems to be hard for others “on the outside” to understand why I have such sadness about this. Yes, she made mistakes and losing her child(ren) was a consequence. Yes, she released her to us and gave us her blessing. Yes, life is good for us and Ali doesn’t exhibit any signs of trauma or loss. But this woman who I barely know will forever be important to me and honored as such. We have a unique bond as two mothers to the same little girl. She carried for nine months, gave birth to, loved and did her best to care for my daughter for the first two months of her life. That’s a reality that will never be erased or replaced by adoption. Ali had a mom before me—her first mom—and I love and bless her for the gifts she gave to Ali of life, love, beauty.

The best analogy I can conjure for how this feels is to imagine a heart transplant. In the movie Return to Me, the main character Grace is painfully aware that she received a new heart because another woman died. She and her family gained because another family lost. That’s how it goes with adoption. Most of our family and friends only see the benefit to us but we also see the damage done to her original family. So, it is with heavy hearts that we celebrated this past weekend. Saturday we celebrated being a family but Sunday we spent time talking about Ali’s first mom, reflecting on events of the past two years and praying for her.

(Face covered and identity concealed for her privacy.)

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The first picture I have of me with Ali:

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I felt a little funny about this “mommy adores me” shirt that came to our home with Ali until I realized how much her biological mommy AND I (her foster mommy at the time) both adored her. She was the most content and happy baby I’ve ever seen.

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I doubt that Ali’s first mom will ever see this post but just in case you do read this one day:

We will never forget about you. We will include you when we tell Ali the story of how she became part of our family and we will show her photos of you. We always speak about you with respect and dignity. We won’t lie to Ali about the realities of you and her and the part of your lives that was spent together and when she’s ready and old enough to understand we will answer every question we’re able to answer. We think about you and pray for you all the time. We love you.