Sunday, November 16, 2014

Time Management

I took these pictures today. Blanche was in the bath during Rosemary's morning nap. Blanche and I had started out at the kitchen table working on addressing her thank you cards for her birthday. This mostly meant me addressing them and Blanche making "tiger stripes" up and down both arms with marker while I tried to persuade her to stop. I say persuade because I guess I "pick my battles." Actually it is just that I am tired. And then I pray a silent prayer that those markers are in fact nontoxic and then we both decided she should just take a bath.

When Blanche was taking a bath I sat down on her little wooden stool and leaned against the wall. I started reading a book while she was playing. I kept looking up to the sweetest little face in that tub. I went and grabbed my camera. Then Rosemary woke up and made her way to our bathroom. I sat there feeling happy and relaxed. Sometimes when I feel a shift in the normal chaos I stop and try to figure out if a variable has changed. Why are there many moments when I feel like I can't catch my breath and other times I feel so relaxed? There probably isn't really an answer. But I think what I am learning is that I have to let go of a lot of the things that stress me out. Babies and toddlers are going to be babies and toddlers. Which is pretty chaotic a lot of the time.

I like things to feel clean and homey. I do not like to open the shower curtain and see a ring around the tub or feel crumbs on my kitchen floor. But most of the time, there is a ring around the tub, crumbs on the kitchen floor, and several loads of laundry to either be washed or folded. It is just life. And I am learning that if I worry over these things too much, it will steal the joy from all the happiness that is around me. I love to clean and organize. I love time alone. I love time with Andrew alone. But there is only so much time in a day. And most of my hours awake are with the girls. So I guess all that I am trying to process is how to divide my time.

I told Andrew yesterday I just do not understand how people are bored. Not that I am never exhausted. Because there are plenty of nights after the girls are asleep that all I can do is make sure the kitchen is clean and then brush my teeth and crawl back into bed. But there are always two lists in my mind. A list of things that really need to be done, and a list of things that I really want to get done. Mostly cleaning and deeper cleaning is on the need to list. And then I think most of my artistic side is what makes up the other list. I want to crochet, organize and edit photos, work on Rosemary's baby book, read and write... I have written before about Andrew's and my love for hobbies. I also think it's the feeling of needing more time so I start to think of more and more that I could do with an extra hour.

But behind all those lists are two little girls who will not be that little for long. I know there will be a day when this season of raising small children is over. But I think on the other end that we are not that close to the end of having small children. So, I should learn to manage what I can and enjoy the rest. I have given up having the laundry always done or put away. I have decided that sometimes spending time alone or with Andrew is more important. I often feel like a teenager trying to play house. Trying to raise babies and keep my cool and make a house a home. I don't feel very good at it. But I know that the most important thing is to keep moving forward. And to let go of so much of the pressure I put on myself.

Today something as simple as sitting down on a small little stool and being down on the same level as my bathing toddler was what I needed. I know I need to stop and soak in life so much more of the time. I am a dreamer and there are times like today that I am lying in bed dreaming of literally living in Nantucket... but then I put my phone down and dreams aside and I see so much of my dreams are right in front of me. I had two rowdy girls not napping but giggling and rolling around in bed while the rain came down outside. I love the idea of having my camera always near and having that photographer's heart because there truly is beauty all around, waiting to be captured.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Called to Motherhood

I remember when I was in college and sitting in the middle of a charismatic church service. I was raised Southern Baptist, but had been going to this church for a couple of years. I was at a time in my life where God was so real I felt like I could almost reach out and touch him. I was seeking and finding. I was in a season where I was being healed from things in my past, and also where I thought I was being prepared to go overseas and work with the poor. This whole season of my life and why I ended up not going overseas is a story for another day. But during that church service I heard God tell me something. I was use to hearing God a lot. So I accepted it and put it on the back burner. Because to me this request was really far off. He told me to have as many children as he would see it fit. I had a vision of me with a big family. Maybe not your TLC kind of big family, but a large one still. I had always wanted to be a mom and this request felt like a happy one.

This story is a long and rather complicated one, and I am mostly bringing this up as a way to continue to tell more of my own story. Not to present my own family's ideas or theology. I think the real story is not as much about what I believe or what I think I was told by God six years ago, but what I am doing now. 

See, the thing that has been getting me lately, and I have even written a bit about in the last few weeks, is that God wasn't preparing me to serve the poor overseas. At least not right now. He was preparing me for the thing I put on the back burner. Motherhood. 

I met Addew that same year of college. We were engaged less than a year later and then married the next summer. We were pregnant six months after getting married, after letting go once again of my own plans. Two months after our first anniversary we had a newborn. And by our third anniversary we were pregnant with Rosemary. 

I have loved having my babies. I love that they are fairly close in age. I have loved not having any hormones in my body and spacing naturally with breastfeeding. But in the last couple of months I have discovered a lot. I often fear and dismiss what God has for me. Because it is hard. And tiring. And extremely frustrating. And when I think about these things, and my own selfishness and how I want more time to myself and less time serving my children and family... I know this call is from God. 

It was only in the past couple months that I think it really hit me that this is what God has for me right now. Motherhood. I have learned that the easy way out to a problem is to say I'm done, but true growth is to persevere and listen to God. 

My true belief in God and Jesus is because it is a story of sacrifical love. And I have always believed that I am suppose to learn to accept that love, love myself, and turn to those around me and love them the same. I had ideas of myself being Mother Teresa but just being a mother to first one and then two is enough to turn my world upside down. I often react out of anger and tiredness and rarely put myself truly last. As a young college student I thought being great was doing something the whole world could see, but maybe it is being behind closed doors changing diapers and putting babies to sleep. 

I had always heard of people being called out of their every day American lives to being placed as a servant in a third world  country. I didn't imagine I would want to go to a third world country and God would put me in the suburbs. I thought motherhood was far off or could be fun for awhile and then I would get my old life back. I would get the old me back. But the truth is the old me isn't worth going back to. The old me was more selfish. The old me wasn't very humble. The old me didn't really know what working hard even meant. 

I am writing all this to remind myself of my current calling. I am called to motherhood. I have been given the most beautiful and most common job. Everyone has a mother. And there are many mothers out there that know so much more than me. 

Every day I try to figure it out. How to help everyone at once. I have a hard time letting go of my mistakes and remembering my victories. But the truth is that it is hard to live a life of love when I hate myself. If I do not think I am worthy of love, then my own children who look and act so much like myself will receive those lies as well. I am loved. They are loved. God help me to rise to my calling. Let me love and rise to the daily job of motherhood. 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Wedding Dress

Andrew's mother has her own mother's wedding dress. We decided to take a few pictures of it because the dress is unwearable and she is thinking of turning it into something else. Today while we were over at her house I took a few pictures. It was fun to work with something that felt a little more fine art over just taking pictures of the girls.  I wanted to try and bring life to the dress a bit but not make it too eery as it is an old wedding dress.

The dress itself is beautiful, and I think the pictures captured it well. I am glad our family will have pictures of the dress and veil as it is becoming more fragile over time. While I was taking pictures of the dress even though I had never met Andrew's grandma, I couldn't help but think about how quickly time moves. The wedding pictures look old but not that old. I kept thinking about this woman who I never met wore this dress and then had my mother in law one day as her baby. And now that baby is a grandma playing with her grandkids outside while I take pictures of the dress. I thought about Blanche as a grandma one day.

I have always loved older and vintage things. I think that time only makes them more special. In the end, things are only things, but to me material possessions are so much more meaningful when they have stories and memories behind them. I was honored to be able to see the dress and photograph it for Andrew's mom today.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Project Get Outside: Hike It Baby 30

I started my "Project Get Outside", or at least took the first picture and did #projectgetoutside,  seven weeks ago. I can't believe we have been in this newer rhythm of getting outside for seven weeks already. In some ways I feel like I have finally been given a secret. A secret weapon really. There is something about nature that is so calming on my children. I am not saying it removes every bump or drama that is happening that day, but it brings peace to all of us. I literally am finding (and have known deep down) that if I am in a sour mood normally a walk outside will bring me out of it. Andrew use to beg me to walk when I felt depressed. But I would often resist. I think I am realizing there's not any power in staying in a bad place, and that I can help heal myself physically and emotionally by being outside.

These pictures were from a couple of days ago when I was feeling that funk of tiredness and mess. It is hard with two small children because there really is never much of a break. I love being a mother but it is hard to not really have that moment where I decide since its Saturday that I will just take it easy and read a good book. I know it is only a season, but there are some days where it's harder to sit down for a breath and watch Blanche throw everything off the couch onto the floor. I am doing a lot better with messes, but there are some days where I want to stop feeling like I am playing a never ending game of who can clean up a mess or make a mess the fastest. One thing I love about nature is that we can make a big mess and then leave. We can throw wood chips and sticks and eat our lunch outside and burn off some of that energy.

The thing about nature too though is that it takes me by surprise. I arrive grumpy and the wind blows across my face and the sun kisses my cheeks. The birds are singing and I begin to feel as though nature is my lover trying to make me laugh. Trying to remind me life isn't so bad. My head starts to clear a bit like I've just been told a good joke. Yeah, why was I so stressed anyways?

Today the girls and I started a second project. This one is a part two to our getting outside. I am involved a bit with a hiking group in Austin. It is called Hike it Baby.  This program is such an awesome one. One of my friends from the baby wearing group actually helped start the Austin chapter. A lot of us baby wearers had been meeting to hike, and now we are an official chapter. It is normally really low key and fun. I usually go when Andrew can help with Blanche, but just the girls and I have went once on a toddler led hike. This month however they are doing a fun contest and challenge called "Hike it Baby 30." It is 30 miles of hiking and walking in the 30 days of November. This is an awesome addition to my Project Get Outside. I have finally gotten comfortable getting out with both girls. I know what to pack and how long certain trails are going to take. Now I can be part of a challenge to track my miles and watch as other mamas across the country do the same.

I am doing as many miles on our regional dirt trail as I can with the girls alone. Then I am hoping Andrew can help us on a few more adventurous hikes around the Austin area as well. The girls and I did 4 miles today. 26 to go. We can do this! I know though in my competitive personality, that it is good that I am still reading The Last Child in the Woods. Because although having a goal and meeting it is important, I still want to make sure the girls are getting their chance to run and play, and not just logging miles.

I am reading in The Last Child in the Woods about how children just need free and unscheduled time. They need the loose and free objects of nature to play and explore and grow. I am so thankful for this book, and how life or God often connects things. I love that my journey is becoming such a beautiful one each day. I am loving that I live in an area with amazing trails and parks. And beautiful weather. I am feeling blessed to be given two beautiful girls that I get to take outside. Right now although things can feel crazy at times, my main job is to just love my little girls. We really have very little worries in this stage. The biggest meltdown of the day can simply be over a granola bar. It is a gift to be given the chance to not only bring life into this world, but to be allowed to cultivate that life with love and the beauty of nature.

My other two posts about Project Get Outside:

First Post

Second Post