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Of Toddlers and Tantrums

Here’s the real story. It’s not easy being a toddler mom.

It’s incredibly fun and nothing else quite compares to the sweetness of those little hands against your face, and that little Eskimo Kiss. The laughter and the silliness and the total cuteness.

Joy just explodes from his little body. He hugs the cat and rides the dog and picks tomatoes for a snack. He is incredibly cute and sweet.

He’s also incredibly fast and dynamic.

When he has a goal, nothing and no one can stop him. His mind is intent on ONE thing. It usually has to do with Daddy, food, or anything on wheels. Sometimes it’s just the sheer joy of running and the chase that thrills him.

And sometimes it’s the little “catch me if you dare”.

Today I thought he was being the most amazing, quiet toddler, drinking his bottle in the comfy little space I made for him, only to discover that he had escaped out side and was vroom vrooming happily on the lawn mower seat.

It isn’t always pretty though guys! He has a BIG voice , a STRONG opinion, and an unquenchable spirit.

That brings me to to tantrums. I’m starting to look at this whole tantrum thing in a different light. I’m starting to put myself in his place.

Whispering at 5:30 AM?

No thanks! I was just quiet for 10 hour and I’m ready to rumble!

Time to come in?

Of course not! It’s way more fun outside with all the exploring to do!

Go to sleep?

Why would I DO that? I may miss out on the fun!

Sit in my car seat?

Are you out of your mind? Those things have STRAPS!

Don’t hit my brother?

But he’s so much fun to tease!

Water is for drinking.

But have you ever let it run out of your mouth. Repeatedly? Just for fun?

How about emptying the tissue box? Or spreading the snack on the floor?

I mean, who actually swallows peanuts! They are made to chew and spit.

And checkout lines? I mean that’s where I am DONE . No, the bottle is only a trick and Mercy no! I don’t want a SNACK right now. I JUST WANT TO RUN.

Sometimes it’s like chasing a whirlwind. Sometimes I can’t have a decent conversation because I’m talking to the air or over my shoulder 90% of the time.

Do I believe in boundaries? Yes. But honestly guys, if your child is safe, fed and clothed (well …we may be a bit sketchy on the clothed part) then give him the world to conquer!

I feel like our kids have so many negative words spoken over them. Like naughty. Stubborn. Rebellious. Manipulative. It makes me sad to hear these words even In My own brain.

What I used to call a tantrum, I look at as a grand disappointment. What I thought was manipulative behavior is often a plea for attention and understanding and connection. To really be heard and valued. What I thought was stubborn is often just a great big personal preference.

Our children are little people, after all, and too often we treat them with very little respect and a whole lot of authority. Then we demand that they respect us. It usually doesn’t go over too well with me when I feel shamed, forced, or manipulated into doing something. It doesn’t feel good to our children either.

I’m learning to take a moment and look at life through little boy eyes. To take a breathe and feel the feels. It takes time and work and isn’t exactly convenient when the pressure is rising and people are watching and all my triggers are firing. But having that trust and connection guys, it’s going to be so worth it!

Don’t give up on pursuing your children’s hearts, my friend! It’s HARD! I know! We mess up! I SO KNOW! But knowledge is power. Failure is FORWARD. Connection is key.

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4

Posing

You know how sometimes you feel so unqualified for a job that you are paranoid to say you own it?

That’s how I’ve been feeling about homeschooling. I never intended to homeschool my kids. And then I planned to. And then I didn’t. And now I am. And I am loving it!

I caught myself telling someone recently that I’m going to TRY to homeschool this year and then I corrected myself because they were my friends and I boldly said ” I AM going to homeschool this year ”

And I’m going to do an excellent job.

I don’t know if it will be exactly the way I am hoping. But whether or not it looks tidy and neat or messy and freestyle, I am going to do my absolute best.

Having a medically fragile child for 3 1/2 years taught me to hold all plans and expectations in an open hand. However, sometimes it feels like I err on the side of footloose. Commitment is hard for me since I tried not to make any commitments I couldn’t keep. To make it all a bit more complicated, I’m a ‘fly by the seat of my pants” person..Naturally. I also have a hard time saying No. And you know what else? I realized that I love to pose.

This book opened my eye to that 🙂

In case you think I’m photogentic, that’s not what I mean 🙂 Posing is this:

I see myself in a place or situation in my imagination that is not my actual reality. Its just that I like that vision of myself so much and I talk about it so much , that I project it into my days and my life and I almost believe its true.

Like living in a tiny house, for instance.

With glass jars of spices and clothing that all coordinates and cute little cubicals of neatly folded clothes.

I would actually like to try the whole tiny house thing some day but right now, its not my reality and no amount of dreaming is going to change that!

My best days have semi organized drawers and books spilling from shelves and baskets and clothes with bold colors.

I’m trying to not be a poser when it comes to home schooling or mothering. Its just a bit hard when you don’t really know what you’re doing, but you’ve got to start somewhere. Its not posing when your heart is in the here and now.

Right here. Right now.

Many of us are holding it together on coffee and a prayer , though. And that’s ok!

Its the reality show days when our whole lifeline is a whisper to our Creator that really make us who we are.

And we stop and wonder at His waves of grace.

On a side note, Glacier and Yellowstone were beautiful this week and we had so much fun exploring Nevada City.

It makes me so grateful to live in Montana! So grateful for my manchilds and mainman!

1

It’s Not An Emergency.

Childhood is meant to be carefree. Its meant to be full of play and laughter and creativity.

Some days I want to weep with the loss of freedom and simple pleasures. Our world seems a constant vortex of pain and death, angry voices and short attention spans, money worries and broken relationships and health issues.

Somewhere in the stampede of paying bills and putting food on the table and doing laundry and soccer practise and doctor appointments and vacations and over time , kids are jammed between the cracks, handed an iPad and told to grow up.

I know. That may be extreme. But things move so fast that i. just.can’t. breathe.

Somedays.

It’s one reason we are choosing to homeschool instead of doing the traditional grade school. I feel my blood pressure rising just thinking of getting out the door for school every morning. Maybe your blood pressure rises thinking of being home with your kids all day. Thats ok! We all have our own specific callings in life and one is not better then the other!

Living life intentionally is one of my highest goals. Its hard when you are running on little sleep, when the kids are screaming and the coffee is cold and the trash is overflowing. When the cat knocks over the plant and the toddler empties the cupboard and no one wants to take a bath at night.

Here’s something I’m learning.

“It’s NOT an emergency. “

Sometimes I need to repeat these words over and over to myself. Sure, the slap the kids gave each other was unkind and rude and the level of crying has escalated to a whole new decible.

Its times like this that I see a blank in front of me and all I want to do is STOP this craziness RIGHT now and I feel myself growing tense and coiled ready to lash out at the last straw.

But guys. Its NOT an Emergency. ( unless it actually is)

Breathing deeply. Calming myself before entering their chaos. Understanding that my emotions are all on a hair trigger and reminding myself to connect with my child before addressing the behaviour is what I’m working toward in these tough moments. It’s not easy. It’s intense and draining when all you want to do is scream “Shut Up!” and magically have the noise disappear.

Parenting out of triggered emotion never works well for me and I’m always the one who needs to apologize when I overstep the calm and lend fuel to the chaos.

One of the incredibly hard things for me has been bathtimes. My older sister bathed her 6 children every single evening for as long as I can remember. Every. Single. Evening.

I’m not gifted in that area. Bathtime to me doesn’t have to look perfect. A dip in the pool will wash sweat and dust off, right? 😉 Perhaps part of the reason we’ve struggled with bath time over the years is the fact that we had only a small shower stall when Kobe was small.

For some reason that I never have figured out, he always detested washing his hair. He likes being clean but any water that touched his face in the tub would send him into pure panic mode. It wasn’t pretty and I didn’t nearly handle it properly many times. It seemed so ridiculously simple to me to lay back in the tub and wash ones hair.

It caused a total panic for him. One night it all escalated totally out of control. I had made bribes and threats and practised the ‘no wash and the cloth wash’ and probably every other thing that good mommies should never do. Believe me. NOTHING worked. It was like a huge ugly issue . Every. Single. Time.

I was totally DONE. It had been going on for six years.

Six. Years.

I decided this was it! We had a very intential discussion ( when both if us were calm) about how this hair washing thing had totally fallen part and blown out of control on our last try.

We decided together to try again. This time I would go super super slow. I would stop washing his hair at ANY TIME that he wanted me to and hand him a towel to dry his face. It would take as LONG AS HE NEEDED.

We entered it rather apprehensively. I ran about 6 inches of water into the tub, and he got in and laid on his back, his arms propping his body well up above the tub floor and his head tipped back a bit. Ever so gently I began running warm water over his hair and as I did, I spoke in a gentle whisper.

“Imagine you are on the beach in Hawaii. The warm breeze is blowing through your hair and the palm trees are waving overhead. You have your favorite pineapple drink in your hand and the warm sand is all around you….”

Guys. The difference was beyond astounding. He asked me to KEEP WASHING!! He knew I would STOP anytime he felt panic with water on his face (I did) . He was envisioning beauty. He felt safe.

The other day he swam down under water in a three foot pool and I stood and watched him in awe.

He lets me wash his hair. He goes UNDER water BY CHOICE!

Connection guys. Slowing down. Understanding the fear. Helping to control the emotion.

That’s why our kids need us!

Yes, I mess up often. But there is always an apology. A new tomorrow. Another way to say I Love You.

You are important to me. Your opinion matters.

You are my child.

I am here for you!

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Free Handout {grace}

Its dark in our tent and the air mattress whooshes whenever I turn over. There’s the gentle sigh of wind through the aspens and the quiet “oof” of the dog lying guard outside the door.

Night breezes whisper through above me and the even breathe of my husband reminds me That I should probably be sleeping as well.

Our back yard is our camp ground tonight. Its cool and comfy and an adventure of its own kind.

This blog has been a journey into my heart and now is no exception. In just a few days, our Wildflower girl will turn 8 years old. Or will she? I never know how to count years in heaven. My friend who has a son in Heaven told me, with a far away look in her eyes, that she likes to think we will be able to watch our children grow up after we get to heaven. We won’t miss out on their lives at all.

I loved that more then I can say, because to me, Kierra will always be my 3 yr old daughter with the most beautiful hair.

The past week has been tough. I feel my tension rising and my heart rate increasing. You know how it feels to face the inevitable.

Like a birth.

Like a tooth being pulled.

Like the ticket being written out in that flashing car behind you.

Like a thunder storm brewing and no place to run to.

Like a train headed your way .

And you

Can’t

Stop it.

Like the dawn .

Or the sunset.

Thats how it feels right now.

Sometimes I can hardly breathe because all I want is my little girl back. I know deep in my heart that I’d never wish her back to the brokenness in this world. But nothing can stop my mommy heart from longing for that mommy/daughter relationship that ended way too soon .

Kobe was 2 when she died.

He is 6 now. This year has been especially hard for him. Perhaps its his age and the maturity of his brain. Perhaps its because we have been adjusting our parenting method and allowing more wide open spaces and room to explore feelings of anger, sadness, fear, and rejection. Its rung me out and left me sobbing but I feel like healing is coming. Slowly but surely.

He had an especially rough day last week. It wasn’t getting better and finally he broke wide open to me and told me about the deep sadness “so black I’m afraid I will forget her” that made him miss Kierra. He sobbed and sobbed and I held him and wept with him.

Nothing breaks your heart like a child’s grief. And nothing is as healing then those cleansing tears.

I am trying to remember to hand grace around freely right now. But guys, it’s incredibly harder to do then to say.

One of the hardest people to extend grace to is myself. The irony lies in the fact that a graceless life is not likely to share grace. I’m praying for added doses this week, and I’ll take any prayers you offer as well!

I wept today when I let anger rule my response to my little Ky. This was not the mommy I wanted to be at all.

I realize again the importance of rebooting myself. I randomly shut off my phone and hit restart. It always works so much better.

Its the same way with us, my friends!The world will not fall to pieces without us. We WILL fall to pieces if we don’t shut down and reboot occasionally. Life was not meant to live in a frenzy of fear and running from ourselves.

It was meant to be embraced. It was meant to be savored. Shared. Valued.

We diminish that value when we reject our selves and our self worth.

A few of the things that have helped me :

*taking a break from social media once a week. Because of my business, this is not always a 100% break but I shoot for at least 24 hr of minimal social media. We go on drives or explore outdoors.

* writing and reading. It relaxes me.

* doing something creative that may even appear childish or worthless.

* finding a place of beauty. Like a quiet bookstore or coffee shop. A bench by the river. A tent in our back yard.

*

*sitting in the sunshine and feeling the ground beneath me.

*going on a date with my man.

Your list will likely look different then mine. But it will be Beautiful. Because it is YOU!

Grace. Hand it out freely this week.

It is so needed!

1

When you Feel -0

I have no idea what to write because 1,000 thoughts are streaming through my head faster then I can catch them.

I want you to know this today.

You are more then your choices. More then your failures. More then your fears.

I woke early this morning to get a head start on my day and my 1 year old had the same idea. I love morning snuggles but what I really wanted was some me time to get the day started strong. Some quiet moments to connect with friends online and straighten crowns with other women.

It didn’t happen and my morning was less peaceful then I had hoped.

Here’s the truth though.

No matter what is happening in life right now, it does NOT have to define you.

You are bold. God calls you HIS CHOSEN.

You are more then the cold coffee and a whole cup of water dumped in your lap. You are more then overflowing laundry baskets and dirty floors. You are more then a gym pole and frizzy hair. More then the unfinished list.

You are not loved more or less because you snapped at your kid and slammed a door.

You are the grace of an apology. The hands of God . The safe place to run to. You are loved. Treasured. Beautiful. Valuable.

Close your eyes. Release the tension in your shoulders. Your face. Your forhead. Breathe so deeply you sink into your chair and rest there …..just being.

You. That’s you. Loved. For simply being YOU.

4

On Rushing Spring and Healing

Its March 13. At least I hope I’m not a week off. I haven’t looked at a calender in days and gave up adding or subtracting to March 5 since that was my birthday and I actually remember my birthday even if I don’t keep track of how old I’m getting.

Please tell me I’m not the only one that uses their birthday as a mental time anchor.

Just when I thought I might run away as far South as possible, the sun came out and the snow began to melt.

And me, the girl who actually likes snow, knew that this winter really truly has been a hard one.

I’m sitting in my living room with the morning sun streaming across the hardwood floor, listening to Enya and Kyrell’s breathing.

Feeling can be hard for me.

I was that brave mommy that powered through her child’s sickness and kept her chin up and her mind occupied because I had to be brave and strong and as sane as possible for my daughter. I was her voice and her advocate and her home base.

Having Ky had brought back so many emotions that only a baby can bring. Its hard to know exactly how to articulate my thoughts. While Ky is totally his own person and celebrated for who HE IS, he also triggers so many memories.

As most of you know, he was born with a deformed voice box which caused respiratory issues and reflux which has majorly improved with surgery.

He just received a great thumbs up on his progress last week and we are truly grateful.

This week he is sick with RSV. So far we have been able to care for him at home but the fevers, the choking on great gobs of mucus, the coughing so hard that he loses all control of his body, it all reminds me of caring for his sister.

Six years ago, we were in and out of the hospital with her. She never seemed to bounce out of her bout with RSV that spring.

It was well into the summer before she was feeling truly well again. And by then, we had moved across country with her.

She loved resting with her Daddy in the gentle sunlight.

Your body doesn’t forget. Brains are a complex system and triggers can cause amazing feats as well as irrational fear.

I watched Ky breathing the other night, burning with fever and breathing rapid shallow breathes and I suddenly was back in the ER with Kierra and having her decline so rapidly and hearing the Dr say that kids wear out so fast when their respirations are 60 breathes a minute.

I had to firmly tell myself that Ky is not Kierra. That he is strong. I had to force myself to open a window and allow the night air to wash over his sick body. The fever reduced and his breathing became much better but my heart felt weak and spent.

I held him all night last night so he could sleep. This morning, my body is still on high alert. I’m actually not tired. Part of it is a pycologial thing and part of it is because I am healthier then ever because I have been making sure my body gets the nutrition it needs to function properly.

Now before you think I’m amazing, let me tell you a little secret.

I’ve got this big fear.

I saved Kierra’s suction machine because it is so priceless when you have a child with respiratory issues. I was so grateful for it with Kierra and it went with us all over the place. It was the norm and I was fine with it.

Its been sitting on the shelf for 4 years.

I know in my heart that I should most likely use it to do some deep suctioning on Ky. But there’s a part of me that shuts down at the thought. My heart starts racing and my legs turn to jelly.

I’m not sure what to do with all the emotion I feel about it. I do know that unless Ky really truly needs it, I’m going to allow myself to feel that apprehension. I’m going to allow that machine to just stay tucked away.

I’m not going to shake myself into some straight jacket and force my mind to turn off and go get that black case down unless it is really necessary.

There are times when you need to shove fear aside and ‘just did it’ because there ARE no other options.

Thats ok! That’s bravery.

But today, I’m going to be a different kind of brave. I am going to give myself space and time to acknowledge that RSV is rotten . That crackly breathing puts me into over drive. That sittting here trying to decide if I’m overly paranoid for calling the Dr again doesn’t make me a helicopter mom.

That someday I may be brave enough to pull out the suction. Until then, its not going anywhere.

That forcing myself to heal and comply is wildly unhealthy and will produce no lasting results.

So I’ll sit here and hold Ky. I’ll drink my hot coffee (its actually cold by now) and listen to Enya and allow the sun to do it’s magic in my house. And I won’t rush the process.

Because rushing spring can freeze the buds and wilt the blossoms. Beauty is a process in nature. And in our hearts.

1

The Lily

Years ago, I had a dream.

Some people may call it a vision.

Dream or vision, it doesn’t matter to me. It was a beautiful picture in my mind that I bring back and look at lovingingly and tearfully.

I don’t know how old I was or the circumstances that surrounded it, but I close my eyes and I am taken back to that time and place in an instant.

I found myself in a vault like prison.

Cold. Grey.

There was no beauty at all.

In anything.

I walked down the dim hallway and turned right. Two wide stone slabs stepped me down into a rectangle room. A feeling of dread and hopelessness walked with me and I felt my heart constricting in my chest.

A window with bars filtered in meager sunlight that slanted across the bare cold floor. And there, kneeling in that one shaft of dim light, was a man kneeling.

White robed and serene, he was totally still. In fact, he appeared to be a statue. The sun slanted in on his shoulders as he faced the blankness in front of him .

I took a step closer and saw a lily of the valley clasped in his hands, folded in prayer. White and delicate with vibrant green leaves, it was a spot of serene beauty in the muddied grey of that cold tomb.

He didn’t say a word. But in the from lighting, his eyes shone with so much love, that I began to weep. Tears poured down my face as I stood there, soaking in the peaceful lily and the eyes.

The eyes broke me. They seemed to reach in and draw me compellingly and I found myself lost in their love.

I wept gut wrenching sobs that erupted from places I didn’t even know existed. That cold grey room became sacred ground.

I woke and my body felt weak from crying and I lay there, wondering what it meant and feeling strangely cleansed and freed.

I wondered what awful darkness lay ahead of me in life, and I shuddered a bit, because that prison was so hopeless. so cold. So ALONE. It was so morbid that I looked the other way.

All through the years, I have hung onto the eyes. The eyes that drew me in and wrapped me up and loved me. The eyes that I knew would never ever leave me. So compassionate. So understanding. So welcoming. And so uncondeming.

There is a beautiful verse in Psalm 32 that follows me as well..

“I will guide Thee with mine eye.”

Fear has to leave when we gaze into that kind of love. Shootings, illness, death and even hard decisions cannot escape that kind of love. It’s the kind that never lets you go. Even on the darkest days. Even when your facing the hardest situation of your life and it takes your breath away.

Those eyes guide you. They are constant. They carry you. You are never ever for one moment truly ALONE.

You can imagine my delight when my husband brought home a gorgeous bouquet of lilies for Valentines Day this year.
Lily of the valley has the flower meaning of humility, chastity, sweetness, and purity. It also means “the return of happiness.”

Sometimes I don’t realize the significance of something until its right in front of me. This was one of those times.

Roses are sweet and lovely and some people feel a deep happiness when they receive a bouquet. They are the flower of love. I get that

But lilies? They touch me in a way roses cannot. I feel real and connected and deep. Fresh and hopeful and constant.

My heart thrills a bit every time I look at them. I feel a oneness with them. Out of the box unaffected.

Wildly unsymentical and free from cultivation. Reaching for sunlight in exotic unpredicatable patterns. Flourishing and heart wide open and laden with the scent of pureness.

That’s the kind of woman I want to be. And that’s what the lily means to me.