Superheroes.

My alarm went off at 6:50 this morning. I sleepily hit snooze, and closed my eyes for another nine minutes. When it went off again, I reached for my phone and turned off the alarm, making my notifications visible. A terrifying headline stared back at me: “50 dead and at least 200 wounded in shooting during Jason Aldean concert.” My heart sank and I considered just staying in bed with the covers over my head for the rest of the day.

It’s been a rough couple of months for America. We had an onslaught of natural disasters that we’re still recovering from. There’s been shootings. There’s the ever-looming threat of a nuclear war with North Korea. It’s getting exhausting. And every time another news headline pops up with something else terrible, I think, “What in the world did I bring my children into?”

As of this afternoon, the numbers are up to 58 dead and 515 wounded in the Vegas shooting. Almost 600 people shot. Six. Hundred. Such a senseless loss of lives, from a horrifying act of violence.

My boys are at the age now where superheroes are some of their favorite things. J is 4, and G is almost 3, and our lives revolve around Iron Man, Hulk, Batman, PJ Masks, Transformers Rescue Bots, and any other superhero you can think of. For them, it’s simple. The heroes are good guys, and if there’s any kind of problem, the heroes can take care of it, no questions asked. Since they are still so young, what they see on TV and in movies bleeds over into their reality. They assume that any bad guy in real life can and will be dealt with in the same way.

For them, a bad guy is anyone who doesn’t follow the rules or play nice. A bad guy can be the driver of the truck behind us that honked impatiently at an intersection, or someone who is mean to other people and hurts their feelings. Occasionally, J or G will consider each other a bad guy, if one of them isn’t sharing with the other one. But in their minds, these “bad guys” are all equal to Spiderman’s nemesis, Venom, or the nefarious camp counselor in an episode of Rescue Bots. And because they are all equal, they assume that real life bad guys will be dealt with the same as the pretend ones–quickly, fairly, and justly.

More than anything, I wish that were true. I wish I could tell my precious boys that that’s how this world works. That yes, bad things happen, but the superheroes will rush in and save the day before anything is truly destroyed. That bad guys always get a just punishment and the good guys will always come out on top. But I can’t. Because it doesn’t always work out that way. And it breaks my heart that someday, my boys will start slowly realizing that real life isn’t like a superhero movie. Their innocent view of the world will start to erode and their eyes will be open to the injustice and tragedies that happen every day. And as a mom, knowing that I cannot shield them from this truth forever shakes me to my core.

But there is light in the darkness. There are real life superheroes. By 6:30 this morning, there was a line out the door at a Las Vegas blood bank because of all the people willing to donate blood. There were people who jumped on top of others, people who gave strangers rides, and people who helped others to shelter during the shooting. These are our superheroes. The first responders–the EMTs and police officers–who rushed to the aid of the victims and took down the bad guy as quickly as possible are our superheroes. It’s not always easy to see the hope and love in these situations, but it is there, if you search for it.

You can see it in other tragedies our country has been through recently. Houston residents forming a human chain to help someone drowning. They are superheroes. Local Florida restaurants and businesses opening their doors to people without food, water, or electricity after Irma. They are superheroes. Puerto Ricans who are making sure their neighbors are getting the help they need if they’re not able to get it themselves. They are superheroes.

Life isn’t fair or just. Quite honestly, this world sucks. A lot. Especially lately. But if that’s all we focus on, it will just weigh us down. It burdens our hearts and darkens our attitudes. Even when it feels like all we have in this world are bad guys, don’t forget to look for the good guys. Don’t forget that they are out there. And you can be one too. We can all be superheroes.

When a problem arises in superhero world, J and G don’t get upset. Their immediate reaction to trouble is, “It’s okay! The good guys will help them.” And that’s what I’ve seen over and over again in the past couple of months here. In the midst of unspeakable tragedies, good guys have helped those in distress, time and time again. And they will continue to do it, because nothing can break the human spirit. We are resilient. We are strong. And we will love and hope until our last day.

So I will never discourage my boys from believing in superheroes and fighting bad guys. And as they get older, and they understand what real life bad guys are capable of, I’ll teach them to look for the real life good guys. I will encourage them to be good guys themselves. Because this world could always use a few more superheroes. You're invited to an

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A Shoutout to the Mamas

Being a mother

Once again, it has been too long since I’ve posted. This raising two kids thing keeps me pretty busy, who knew? (I hope you can sense the sarcasm in that.) Plus I’ve started serving again, so there goes my evenings. I am in the process of trying to get my self-hosted blog up and running, but in light of Mother’s Day this past weekend, I wanted to post a little something.

Moms, as a general rule, are incredibly selfless and loving people. I know there are some who have not experienced that with their mothers, and I am truly sorry about that. It upsets me that some people have experienced hurt and abuse from the one who should’ve been there and loved them the most. To them I would like to say that your feelings and experiences are acknowledged, and I think that you are so strong for fighting through it and using your past to make you a better person and mother.

There are also some who have lost their moms, and I am genuinely sorry about that as well. I can’t imagine not having my mom around. I am almost 30, and still depend on my mom to answer questions and offer support. So for those of you who have lost your moms, I acknowledge your feelings as well, and just want you to know that it’s okay to cry and wish they were still around, no matter how long they’ve been gone. You are strong, but it’s also okay to have moments of weakness and vulnerability as well.

Having said all that, the women and moms that have come into my life one way or another are such amazing women. Whether they’re fighting through a situation listed above, or a different hard situation, or just fighting through Monday, they’re all strong women, and I just wanted to take some time to honor them.

It would take me several blog posts to properly honor all the mother-figures who have poured into my life, so I’ll just generalize a bit here. But please know that you have all made an impact on me!

My Mama Friends: What would I do without you guys? It is so important to have mom friends once you have kids. I need someone who understands that our plans won’t always turn out the way we wanted them to, and our important, heart-to-heart conversation will probably be interrupted by a child at least 20 times. And I need someone who I can call in an emergency when my toddler’s finger is bleeding profusely who can calm me down and tell me what to do. They are the ones who treat my children as if they were their own. They are the ones who don’t judge me if my kid happens to eat something off the floor. They are the ones who encourage me and tell me “you can do this” even if it’s from afar.  All my mom friends are amazing women who I look up to and admire, and I seriously can’t imagine not having them in my life.  You guys rock, and I have learned so much from all of you. Thank you for helping me maintain at least a shred of sanity in my life.

Adoptive Mamas: Wow. Whatever the circumstances were that brought you to adoption, you mamas are amazing. To take a child who was not biologically yours, one that didn’t have much of a chance at a happy life, and to bring them into your life and love them as much as you would one you had given birth to is no small thing. Even if you did not birth these children, you still gave them life–a better life than their circumstances did. You reflected the very heart of God when you brought these little ones into your family, and it is amazing to see the difference it makes in both their lives and yours.

Single Mamas: How do you do it?! Being a mom is exhausting no matter what, but when you’re doing it all by yourself, I can only imagine how hard it must be. You provide for your children, love them, care for them, go to work, clean the house, pay the bills, etc. I’m sure you’re stressed and tired all the time, yet you make sure your children know they are loved and cared for. Your strength and determination are out of this world!

Special Needs Mamas and Mamas of Sick Children: Motherhood is hard, but you moms have added burdens. I’m sure you often think “This isn’t fair.” And I don’t blame you. But you mamas are so strong and selfless. The love you put into your children is beyond words, whether you spend your time taking them to therapy, classes, doctor appointments, or waiting in a hospital room or the NICU, hoping to finally hear some good news. You would give anything to make life easier for your littles, whatever the cost. Although I can’t imagine how it must feel, I just want to say to you that you are exactly what your child needs. Even when it feels like you can’t help them, your love and support is playing an huge part in their lives.

Hopeful Mamas: I know there are so many of you longing to be mamas. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to see pregnancy announcements and pictures of smiling women holding their babies for the first time and not feel bitter or jealous. I admire you for your ability to be happy and rejoice with those women who have children, and for your strength in never giving up hope for your dream of being a mom. I sincerely hope that each and every one of you will see that dream come true someday.

My Own Mama: Well, I don’t really know where to begin. You’ve been making sacrifices for me before I was even born, starting when I decided I wanted to come out on your birthday and ruined your birthday dinner (and then I didn’t even make my appearance until the next day. How rude. haha). Without your love and support throughout my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. You taught me hard work, and to never settle for less than my best (as evidenced by all the re-writes you would make me do on my papers). You taught me how to be a mom. And even though we have different opinions on some things, I truly wouldn’t know how to be a mom without you around. So thanks for everything, and remember: Only the best moms get promoted to grandma. 😉

My Mother-in-Law: If it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t have been able to marry your amazing son and be a mommy to our two wonderful boys. “Thank you” doesn’t seem like enough to say for that! You did a great job raising A, and you have accepted me as your daughter unconditionally. You radiate love! Thanks for being a wonderful mother-in-law to me and grandma to my boys.

Like I said, there’s no way I can possibly list all those who have influenced and encouraged me throughout this journey as a mother. But you are all noticed, honored, and loved. You are amazing!

The Days Are Long…

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As I’ve previously stated, and the one thing that all moms across the board can agree on, is that motherhood is hard. I’d go out on a limb to say that it’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. Yes, it is also the most rewarding. But there are some days when those rewards feel few and far between, right?

Last week, my husband was out of town all week, so it was just me and the boys. All day, every day. It was exhausting and stressful. Thankfully, I have some amazing friends and family that came by to let me get a shower, bring me food, and generally just make sure I was staying sane.

This week, my best friend is in the same situation. Her husband is out of town all week, so she’s solely responsible for their two kiddos. Although these weeks seem like the longest weeks of our lives, in the grand scheme of things, they go by quickly, and for the most part, we all come out unscathed.

While A was gone, I spent most of the week counting down the days and hours until he returned. But I find myself doing that even during normal weeks. I’ll look at the clock and think “oh my gosh. It’s only 1 in the afternoon.” Or J will be having a meltdown while I’m trying to make dinner and I think “Lord help me, there’s still 2 and a half hours until bedtime.” When G wakes me up at 3 AM to eat, I think “ugh, how much longer until you can sleep through the night?”

I need to stop doing that. I saw a quote online the other day that said “The days are long, but the years are short.” I’m not sure who said it, but they were right. Although sometimes the days seem never-ending, in the long run, time flies by. I cannot believe that my first son will be 2 years old in just over 6 months. And my second son is 2 months old today, already! I feel like it was just a few months ago that we were bringing J home from the hospital. Now he’s gone from a baby to a little boy, and his little brother is growing just as quickly.

When J was a newborn, I remember trying to get him to go to sleep one night. I was still full of postpartum hormones, and I was exhausted and at the end of my rope. I stood next to his pack & play, bouncing him up and down, and I thought “I’m going to have to bounce him all night for him to stay asleep. I’m not going to get any sleep tonight. I’m never going to get to sleep again.” And I just burst into tears.

Yes, it was a very dramatic thing to think, but in that moment, I was dead serious. You think some crazy things in your new baby, exhausted, hormone-riddled state of mind. But the point is, we got through it. I also remember talking to Becky one day, and I was so frustrated because J could not keep his binky in his mouth to save his life, and every time it fell out, he would wake up. So I was constantly up and down at night and during naps to put it back in. Desperate, I asked “When will he finally be old enough to pick up his binky and put it back in his mouth by himself?” She kind of laughed and said “Um….not for many months.”

And then one day, I stopped, and I realized: he could put his binky in his mouth by himself now. Yeah, it did take awhile. I mean, they don’t really have the dexterity and coordination needed for that task for awhile. But it happened. I wasn’t putting his binky in his mouth forever, like I thought I would be. Every season passes, and it passes faster than you expect it to.

Someday, sooner than I think, G will be sitting up, and crawling, and not so dependent on me all day every day. And J will be able to feed himself with a spoon without making as big of a mess as he does now (hopefully), and dress himself, and communicate more with his words. And then they’ll be in school someday. And then someday they’ll be teenagers. And I don’t really like thinking past that.

Because as long as the difficult days seem to be, they’re really passing by in the blink of an eye. And as hard as it is to have babies and toddlers, I feel sad when I think of the day that they don’t want to snuggle with me to read a book or take a nap. Or when they don’t need me to kiss their boo-boos. Or when they think that they’re too cool to hang out with their old, un-cool mom. Or when they get married and a new woman enters their life. So I’ll stop checking the clock every 20 minutes, and wishing that time would speed up so that I don’t feel so stressed and sleep deprived anymore (although I don’t believe that’ll ever fully go away, anyway). I’ll take a deep breath and remind myself that this moment will pass, quicker than I’d like, and I’ll cherish the time I’ve been given with these precious boys.

What Moms REALLY Need

Everywhere you look online (especially if you frequent Pinterest), you’ll find lists of things that women “need” for motherhood. What you need to pack for the hospital, what you need for the first few weeks at home with a newborn, what you need to entertain your toddler while breastfeeding your newborn, what baby clothes you’ll need, what apps you’ll need, and on and on. But I’ve come to realize that there are a few basic items that every mom of littles legitimately needs, whether it’s your first kid or your fifth. These items actually are a necessity, especially if you are a stay at home mom in danger of losing her mind on a daily basis.

1. First and foremost, coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. If you don’t drink coffee, you may want to start. But really, any source of caffeine will do. Sometimes if I don’t have time to make coffee in the morning, I just drink some Coke. (I know, a super great way to start the day.)

2. On that note, you will need a good, tall coffee cup with a lid. Preferably insulated. Because you will not be drinking that coffee while it’s hot, let’s just be honest. Even if it’s not insulated, having a lid will help it stay hot longer. It also gives you the ability to drink coffee without feeling paranoid that you’re going to spill it on your two month old baby who refuses to be put down.

3. A Netflix subscription. Or Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or something. This is for when you’ve taken up residence on the couch for various reasons such as: feeding a newborn, a sick child, a baby napping on your chest that you’re scared to put down for fear of waking them up, etc. Last winter, J and I both got sick and basically didn’t leave the couch for about three days. I managed to watch the whole first two seasons of Scandal. Don’t judge me.

4. A basket or caddy to keep remotes close by. Do not, I repeat, do not get stuck on the couch in the aforementioned situations without the remote nearby. Otherwise, you’re stuck watching Doc McStuffins long after your kid has fallen asleep, and why torture yourself like that?  You can also keep things like your phone and some snacks in the caddy. (Hey, sometimes you get stuck on that couch for a LONG time.)

5. A Kindle, or some other e-reader/tablet device. If you begin to feel like your brain is turning to mush, what with all the Netflix-ing, you may want to try to read something. However, if you’ve ever tried to read a book with a tiny human crawling all over you, you realize this is easier said than done. I’ve found that it’s much easier to read on my Kindle than an actual physical book. This kills me, because I would rather read a physical book. But, the Kindle is great for trying to read with kids around. Plus you can check your email, play games, listen to music, etc. Helpful if your phone dies or you forgot to grab it before you sat down to feed the baby or something.

6. Easy to grab snacks. Because half the time, you will forget to eat, and the other half, you won’t have time to eat. One day last week, I realized I hadn’t eaten yet that day and it was already 3 PM. Hangry (hungry/angry) Mommy is not good for anyone. Grab a granola bar or something.

7. A really good diaper bag. Because it’s basically going to be attached to you for the next couple of years. I personally recommend something with a lot of pockets, and more room than you think you’ll actually need.  The important thing is to get one that you like and won’t mind carrying around everywhere you go. Make sure it’s stylish and functional. It’s a hard search sometimes, but it can be done.

8. An abundance of hair ties and yoga pants. Where do all the hair ties go? Let me know if you ever figure this out. I can have one in my hair and one on my wrist, and by the end of the day, they’re both gone. Moms should buy stock in hair elastics. And yoga pants. That’s basically all I wear now. I know it’s time to do laundry when I run out of clean yoga pants.

9. A strong stomach. Because the amount of spit up, puke, poop, and chewed food you will have to clean up is astounding.

10. A sense of humor. Because if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. And to be perfectly honest with you, I have many, many moments as a mother where I feel like crying. Sometimes a good cry is what you need, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But just remember to look at the other side of things as well. Being a mom is hard work, but it’s also extremely rewarding work. Try to find the humor in your day, and if things aren’t going as planned, laugh it off and try again. Tomorrow is a new day. Plus, your kids don’t care if you think you’re screwing everything up. All they know is that they love their mommy, and their mommy loves them. In their eyes, you can do no wrong, so cut yourself some slack and enjoy the time you have with your littles.

What’s Your Word?

I have never been one for New Year’s Resolutions. I think I gave up on making them once I became a jaded highschooler and realized they were pretty pointless if you couldn’t keep them up past February. So the new year has never really been that exciting to me. However, this year, I just felt differently about things. Maybe it’s because I’m turning 30 this year and that’s been a little bit of a “wake up call” for me. Or maybe it’s because we are a family of four now, and it’s making me realize how grown up and old I really am getting. Whatever the reason, I’m really looking forward to this year, and felt strongly about doing some new things.

Resolutions still aren’t really my thing though, so even though I had some ideas about things I’d like to accomplish this year, I didn’t particularly want to make some declaration of everything I was planning on accomplishing this year. Then when I inevitably lose my motivation, it just makes it even more depressing to know that I failed in my grand plans.

So I had these ideas and thoughts about the year building up in my head, but no real plan for them. Then, while perusing the internet a few days into January, I found a discussion about your “word” for the year. “What’s your word?” everyone seemed to be asking. And the replies were very diverse and inspirational. I had never heard of people doing this before, but it looked like everyone had picked a word that they wanted to represent their year; a word to focus on as opposed to just a “resolution.”

A word for the year is more like a theme rather than a resolution. I liked that idea, and it seems much more attainable than making these lofty goals and then feeling like a failure if they don’t work out. With a word for the year, you get a lot more grace. It’s much more flexible. And it’s not just about what you can do to make that theme happen, it encompasses everything you’re hoping for this year, whether that’s something you can make happen, or if it’s something you have to believe that God is going to do for you.

When I thought about my word for the new year, I immediately thought of “change.” I’ve been feeling like this is going to be a big year of change anyway, and there’s a lot of things I’m hoping will change, both personally and for our family. However, a few days later, I also thought of “intentional,” because while I was pondering all this new year stuff, I found a lot of things that I want to change involve me being intentional about things. It’s time to stop just sitting idly by and letting life happen. I need and want to be intentional about my life and my relationships in order for any change to happen. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. It’s time to change things up a bit.

So I ended up with two words, which kind of defeats the purpose of your “one word” for the year, haha. But I think they make a good pair: “intentional change.” I’m excited to see what’s in store for me, A, and our boys, and focusing on my words gives me a lot more anticipation for the upcoming year than I usually have. Here’s to a great 2015!

Do you have a word for the year? I’d love to hear what it is and why you picked it! Let me know in the comments. 🙂

Unappreciated Moms

So, I had these great, intelligent, thought-provoking ideas for this blog post. And then…well, life happened. The past two days have been rough. The boys have been fussy, and at least one of them has needed something every moment of the day. I would love for there to just be an hour–30 minutes, even–where both boys are content and don’t need anything. But sadly, I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

I love my boys, and I would never regret becoming a mom. But, wow. It is hard sometimes. It’s crazy how much it changes your lifestyle. Someday, when my boys are teenagers and they start complaining about how I’m not cool, and I don’t understand them, and I’m so old, I’m going to pull out old pictures of myself and say, “Do you see this? Mommy used to be young, and pretty, and fun, and cool, and you know what happened? You guys.” Haha

But for real. I used to blow dry my hair, and wear miniskirts and bikinis, and accessorize, and go out whenever I wanted to, and stay up all hours of the night (for fun, not because I’m feeding tiny humans). For the love, I actually used to wear yoga pants to look cute, not because they were the easiest thing to throw on (or because they’re stretchy enough for my post-baby body to be comfortable in). My best friend, Becky, and I talked on the phone today because we both needed some adult conversation, and I said, “Remember how when we were in high school, 9 am seemed so early? We would’ve NEVER called each other at 9 am. But now, we’ve been up for hours.” “Oh my gosh,” she replied. “It’s only 9? I’m ready for lunch.”

Me and Becky, pre-kids. We looked good. ;)

Me and Becky, pre-kids. We looked good. 😉

The past few days, I haven’t been able to eat like a normal person, or change out of my yoga pants, or really do much of anything for myself. All because I’ve been too busy taking care of the munchkins. It’s amazing what you sacrifice when children enter your lives. Moral of the story? Go call your mom! Give her a hug! Write her a note, take her out for a nice meal…you have no idea what she gave up to take care of you, and you won’t until you have kids of your own. Moms are the most selfless people in the world, I think. I know I appreciate my mom and what she did for us so much more than I ever did.

Thank goodness for mommy friends who understand.

Thank goodness for mommy friends who understand.

This is definitely not my deepest or most eloquent blog. I am super tired right now, and my brain is basically mush (that’s what Clifford and Sesame Street will do to you). But, I think it’s an important subject to bring up. We need to appreciate our moms more, for sure. But on the same note, moms need to appreciate this time with their babies too. I can’t believe that J is already almost a year and a half, and I know G will grow up just as quickly. Although this time in my life is exhausting, it will be over before I know it. So, I will appreciate this time in my life, and find joy in the chaos, and relish their babyhood. And someday, I hope they will appreciate everything that I’ve done for them, and realize how much I really do love them. (And if they don’t, I do have pictures to prove it.)

Do Over.

Well, here I am again, and once again, I have completely neglected this poor blog. I’ve been wanting to try to get back into blogging for awhile, and I finally got the kick in the pants that I needed.

One of my favorite Christian speakers/authors, Jon Acuff, issued a challenge to his blog/Twitter/email/etc followers & subscribers: a do-over challenge. On January 1st, he sent out an PDF to everyone who signed up that contained worksheets for 10 days that were to help us set aside at least 10 minutes a day to devote to an area in our lives that we wanted to try to do over.

I hesitated to sign up at first. Honestly, I don’t like to commit to things like that, because if I “fail” at them, then I feel like a loser. But, at the same time, it gives me the motivation to do something. This makes it harder to excuse just sitting around the house all day. I blame a lot of things, and yes, I have two boys under two years old, and it’s basically chaos 90% of the time in my house, but that’s still not a good excuse. If I ever want things to change, then I need to step it up and make time to improve myself. So, here I am again with this blog.

Honestly, I don’t know if anyone will read this blog. It’s so intimidating to even think about trying to resurrect this, because there are about a gazillion blogs out there, and it’s hard to think that anyone would ever actually notice mine. But even if no one does, I know I need to do this for myself.

I love my boys (ages 16 months and 1 month), but my life has been completely taken over by kid stuff. I never really get time to myself anymore. I read board books more than all the books I have waiting for me on shelves and in my Kindle. I watch Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Clifford the Big Red Dog on a daily basis, and can’t tell you the last time I’ve just sat down to watch a movie and relax. I have children’s songs stuck in my head constantly. Sometimes, I just need to feel like an adult again. I need to feel like someone who has a college degree and is fairly intelligent. I need to keep my writing skills sharpened and up to date. And sometimes, I just need to get my thoughts out of my head and onto paper–or, in this case, a webpage.

So here we go. It’s a new year, and my word for the year is “change.” I want to change a lot of things this year, stop making excuses, and really enjoy my life, my marriage, and my kids. Here’s to small beginnings!