Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year, New Goals

  When I lived in Utah, January was my second least favorite month. (For me, March is the worst). Going back to school as a teacher and having 5 more daunting months ahead of me was so intimidating. The month is long and cold and felt so grinding.
  January in California is a beautiful time of year. Perfect for crisp days at the park, and days spent in my winter garden. Perfect jacket and sweater weather. Perfect for cold morning walks and pleasant, sunny afternoons. Sometimes there's rain and the hillsides are green. My feelings for January have softened.
  This year, I'm actually thrilled to be entering the month of January. The older I get the more I become like my brother in-law- someone who loves and craves the daily routine. I feel good when my days start early and are filled with the important things. Right now important things are family meals, art projects with the kids, play dates and laundry. It means consistent scripture study at night, and decent bedtimes for the kids. I love being home. I love knowing that the important things are being done.
  I also am thrilled for January because I am a goal setter. Not just at the beginning of the year, but all the time, but January enhances my intentionality, focus, and vision. My goals and intentions for 2016 have been on my mind and heart for the last few weeks. My biggest focus this year will be to blog again, and to really focus on the joy of motherhood. Reading books and finding inspiration from them will go hand in hand with both of those goals.
  Do you like to set goals? Do you find it helpful to write them down, or do you just think about them in your mind? I know that being intentional, or "building castles in the sky" is the most effective way to get me from point A to point B. I know it sounds cliche, but I really am thrilled for the potential that 2016 holds. I think it's going to be a good one!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas 2015

  We had a beautiful Christmas. This Christmas season was filled with good things. The spirit of the season was strong with the music, traditions, and time spent with loved ones. Today was the cherry on top. We celebrated at BJ's parent's house with the family all together and it was happy and full of life. Ellie was especially thrilled and enthusiastic about every single thing- just like I was when I was a girl. I think the thing Lorenzo loved most of all was his roll of Bubble Tape in his stocking. The feelings and gifts of the day were an accurate summation of the Lord's tender grace and bounteous hand that he so generously offers to us. "Oh come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord"!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Highlights

  This Christmas season has been simple, magical, and filled with the important things. BJ and I traveled to Hawaii the first week and a half of December last year, and although it was wonderful, I couldn't help but feel guilty for how much I had slacked on most things Christmas related. I'm a full-fledged adult now, and have no excuse pass out friend and neighbor gifts and Christmas cards, etc.
I was intentional this Christmas and planned in advance the things I wanted to be sure to do.
We put up our tree and decorations before Thanksgiving so that when we got home from our break we were ready to go. It made me so happy to come home and get right into the swing of Christmas. A  bonus of being intentional- really thinking things out and planning ahead- is that I was able to picture what my ideal Christmas would look like. I wanted it to be calm and stress free, and filled with casual family time.
  The beginning of the month was a little stressful getting all the things done I wanted to, but the last week or so has been calm and slow. We've spent most of our time at home, avoiding crowds and traffic. I've done crafts with the kids, wrapped presents, watched Christmas movies (and Star Wars), baked and delivered treats, and have even gotten a jump start on my New Year's Resolutions!
I love the saying from Abraham Lincoln, "If someone gave me 6 hours to cut down a tree, I would spend the first 4 sharpening my axe." A-men. There is power in preparation. Thinking and planning ahead can make your life into what you want it to be. Have you read the book "Essentialism" yet? It's such a winner. Life-hack right there.
  Lastly, I have to say that my favorite thing about this Christmas season has been the music. The Pandora station Classical Christmas is so lovely. I may just keep listening to it throughout the next year!

Friday, December 18, 2015

My Castle In the Sky

   If people ask, I'm not afraid to tell them that having two kids has been way harder for me than I expected.

The original transition to motherhood, when I had Ellie, was pretty seamless. Being a mom is something I've dreamed about literally all my life, so when the time finally came at 23 years old, I barely had a single inhibition or worry. I knew I had been made for this.

  Pregnancy, labor and delivery were a breeze with Ellie. Once she was here my hormones and emotions were all over the place for a month or so, but then things settled in fairly effortlessly. Taking my round faced, furrow-browed baby girl on walks with me brought exorbitant amounts of joy and satisfaction. Getting her dressed, bathing her in the sink, nursing her around the clock, singing lullabies, and taking pictures of every move she made was deeply fulfilling to me.

  When Ellie was just three months old we moved a few states over and made our home in Southern California. Even here, 900 miles away from my family, I still felt I had everything I needed. BJ and Ellie were my home, and I was content with my slow-paced days of walks in the late morning, quiet lunches when Ellie napped, and afternoons spent at the park or library with my baby. Eventually we bought and moved into our first home and now I really had everything I wanted. Baby number two, a boy, was on the way and I didn't bat an eye. My transition to motherhood had come so easily before, what was one more baby?

  When Lorenzo came another baby high accompanied it, and the high lasted for weeks. I was obsessed with this tiny new bundle and drinking in the blessed euphoria that newborns are to me. And a newborn boy? Things just couldn't get better.

  The first major bump in the road came the morning I was taking Lorenzo to his 6 week checkup. For some reason I had scheduled his appointment for early in the morning and was frantically trying to get myself, Lorenzo, and Ellie ready and out the door before 9. I was running late, I was stressed and exhausted, and Ellie, a freshly-turned two year-old freaked out and screamed, SCREAMED about the way I was doing her hair. I lost it. Fully lost control. BJ was here and heard the commotion and told me to leave Ellie with him. He'd go to work late. I got in the car and drove down the 91 crying hard and feeling like the world's worst mother. Total #momfail. Tantrums were a new thing for Ellie. She had had no reason to throw fits when she was one, an only child, and the center of our universe. The tantrum she threw that day, however, now seems to be where the Pandora's Box that would be the next two years of my emotional life was opened.

  I remember a few months after the initial tantrum hearing an older, experienced mother talk about a son she had that was an extremely difficult child. She said people would often tell her, "You have the patience of Job". She said, "I always felt like saying, 'well I am glad that's what the outside looks like, because inside I feel like a raging sea'!" I could so relate to that! Things were ok, and even really great a lot of the time, but often my thoughts and feelings felt like a tempest, tossing violently to and fro. I was stretched with two kids. I felt guilty for the temper that was repeatedly coming out during Ellie's tantrums. I felt fury when Ellie wouldn't go to bed at the end of a long day. I felt horrible that my feelings of tiredness and helplessness and desperation were always channeled to Ellie instead of Lorenzo. I felt feelings that I never wanted to say out loud. Where was my adoration that had come so easily and effortlessly in the beginning?

  My feelings shocked me. I would sometimes find myself throughout the day thinking the words, "I hate this. I really, really hate this." I felt let down by motherhood, by myself, and I felt guilty for feeling let down. I would pray for increased feelings of love for my babies and felt ashamed that I had to ask for that. I just wanted to love all the time, easily, and fully. The short bouts of anger would tear at me, and leave me feeling so sad and downhearted. It's hard to express these thoughts and feelings that are haunting and real, because you feel guilty for feeling them, and you don't want to be misunderstood when you do say them out loud. For example, I still did adore my children, I loved them so much it hurt and experienced moments regularly that were so simply beautiful that I cried, but the feelings of annoyance, and dread, and complete helplessness were also very real.

  I also felt guilty expressing this because I knew my life wasn't really that hard. I didn't have cancer. No one I loved was dying. We had a comfortable, beautiful life and home. Nothing was really wrong , so I felt like I wasn't allowed to say that things were difficult for me. I also didn't want them to difficult for me. I wanted to be good at being a mom, and somehow I thought that good moms wouldn't struggle with the ugly feelings I was having.

I struggled to let these feelings settle in, and to accept them, and then the other day I had a conversation with a friend that changed something inside me. She told me about a phrase that her mother used to use in regards to following your dreams. She said her mom always told her, "Build castles in the sky." Put your dreams out there in the world, and then they can come true. Her mom said that to her all her life, and now as the owner of a successful business, she tells that to her employees in training.

"Build castles in the sky."

That phrase struck me and stayed with me in my mind. Later on, when I helped Lorenzo do his "big jump" out of the car to go into the grocery store with me I realized with heavy, heavy force, "This is my castle in the sky."

I have always, always wanted to be a mom, and now, here I am, a young mother of two. I have my castle in the sky. I am living in my castle in the sky. The beautiful thing is, that moment changed me. My heart was softened and I was blessed with a bigger perspective than I've had in a long time. For a few days I adored my kids hard, and felt like my life might just be perfect again. And then I got tired, and my kids got grumpy, and Ellie told me that she didn't want to be a part of this family again. Ha! Life sucks sometimes. That fact breaks my ultra-feely, romantic heart into pieces, but it is true. Life is hard. Kids are hard. Motherhood is hard. Everything is hard! And that is ok. We can build castles in the sky, and we can have those castles in the sky because life, and motherhood, and kids don't have to be perfect to be beautiful.