Mission Motherhood

May our branches be pruned…

Fellow bird moms, I’m sad to say I can’t remember the last time a wrote a blog… but today I’m going to be a bit vulnerable in my explanation.

I have undoubtedly been in a funk the last few months.  I’m sure you moms can relate.  The inadequacies that run through my mind on a daily basis are hampering me and my creativity.  The twins are nearing age two, which means their demands are lessening but at the same time their energy and desires for engagement are increasing.  Finances are becoming tighter (as we really only budgeted for me to be a stay at home mom for 1 year) and with every budgeting hiccup my inadequacies blare in my face again.

I struggle daily with the guilt of not being a working mom and not contributing to my family financially.  I toss around the idea of going back to work full time, and then my heart breaks all over again at the idea of not being present for our kids.  They are truly thriving and I hate the idea of missing out on all of the things they are learning on a daily basis.

This week I started training for a part-time, temporary position from now until April that allows me to work from home 20-30 hours per week.  The position is in Higher Education Admissions which is what I’m passionate about.  I think it will be a really great opportunity financially and I’m excited to be getting back into Admissions.  BUT… the doubts and insecurities are still there.  And why is it that the people you love most are the ones that unintentionally express their disbelief in your situation? “I don’t know how you’re going to do it.” “How are you going to get anything around the house done?”

HOW DOES ANYONE ELSE WORK AND GET HOUSEWORK DONE?! NEWS FLASH, Dads can do housework too.  Yes, I have taken on all of the home duties since I’ve been a stay at home mom.  But, I know my husband sacrifices a lot to provide this life for us so it is important to me.  My love language is undoubtedly “Acts of Service” so taking on all the housework is what I do to show him that I’m grateful.  But if I’m working 20-30 hours a week when the kids are asleep, I need help.  My problem is, I don’t like help or asking for help.  I need to learn how to accept help, ask for help, and let it go when my helper doesn’t do it the way I would normally do it.

I’ve been participating in a women’s Bible study the last 5 weeks and I’m really trying to use my spiritual journey to help rid myself of the doubts and insecurities. I’m happily dwelling in God’s words to help encourage me and hope they can do the same for you. John 4:32-38 has been a big part of me the last couple weeks. Our Pastor did a sermon on this passage a couple weeks ago and reminded us that there is power in the monotonous things we do in life.  Everyday, we get up and live the same cycle and sometimes that can feel monotonous. But just as a gardener must do daily (monotonous) tasks to effectively tend their garden and yield fruit we must also complete our own daily tasks to ensure that our lives are able to produce much fruit.  A gardener does not see immediate results in their daily tasks – it takes time to be fruitful.  However, with Jesus at the center of our monotonous daily tasks we are fertilizing our garden in a powerful way.

I hope and pray that our doubts and insecurity are the branches that are serving us no purpose and will soon be pruned so we can begin bearing more fruit.

Mission Motherhood

Stretching your Grocery Dollars at Aldi

Happy Friday, birdies!

Where has the month of June gone?

We have been so busy this month with trips out of town, home improvement projects, reading potty training “how-tos”, learning to sew, playing outside, and the list goes on…

This month our family has made a commitment to be mindful of our budget.  We’ve studied the ins and outs and have made a plan to be more cost savvy.  We had saving set aside and budgeting for me to be at home with the twins for one year… and here we are 18 months later in desperate need to rework the budget to keep me home.

With budgeting being a priority meal planning has been essential to maintaining our monthly food budget. I say meal planning loosely because what I really do is create a menu.  I’m a pretty obsessive planner in most areas of my life but when it comes to meals I like the flexibility of saying “that doesn’t sound good tonight, let’s have this instead”.  Aldi and I have become best buds… we take our relationship seriously but we only see each other every other week for about an hour.  An hour doesn’t seem like much, but we make the time count.

Image result for aldi is my friend

Last week I spent an hour at Aldi’s, bought 2 weeks worth of food and spent $185.

Here are my steps for a successful Aldi’s trip with children in tow:

  • Evaluate your pantry, fridge and freezer to get an idea of what food items will carry over into the next menu. It’s important to me to use up items that may go to waste soon.
  • Check out the weekly ads at your local grocery stores. You can often find them online.  I’ve recently discovered an application called Flipp that has been super helpful in tracking down grocery ads.
  • Peruse Pinterest for ideas.  (I have a board for dinners and breakfasts.)
  • Check out Aldi’s website for recipes as well!
  • Consider items that may freeze well if you’re planning for 2 weeks. Many produce items wont be fresh for that length of time. We utilize frozen fruits and veggies as we get into that second week, freeze meats and bread.  (Even things like milk and butter can be frozen, but I haven’t had to resort to that yet)
  • Write down a list of meals that will make the cut (I plan for 14-16 meals).
  • Write down the ingredients that go with each meal.
  • Evaluate your pantry for items you may already have (and look for items that might be good substitutes in your recipes).
  • Re-organize your list of ingredients in the order of how they are organized in the store. I promise this is the key to getting in and out of the store quickly… if you don’t know your store well enough just group like items on your list – dairy, meat, canned goods, etc.
  • Pack reusable grocery bags in the car… and don’t forget the quarter for your cart!

I honestly take about 2 hour prepping all of this. This much prep may seem exhausting, but not nearly as exhausting as roaming around a grocery store aimlessly with 18 month old twins for 2 hours and hoping for some combination of ingredients that will make a meal…. and then having to do it again every week or more.

What are some of your money saving tips when it comes to grocery shopping?

Stay tuned for a sample of our 2 week menu in an upcoming blog.

Mission Motherhood

What is “me time”? And how do you achieve it as a mom?

About a month ago my husband schedule changed from 2pm – midnight to 7:00am-5:00pm. It’s been an adjustment for everyone in our house.

With the change in schedule I continued to sleep in for as long as the kids would sleep. And then our budget started to take a hit. The husband would stop in someplace for a fast food breakfast and then eat lunch out. He was spending $20/day just eating 2 meals (which is a whole different blog in itself).

I committed to getting up with him at 5:45am to make sure he got out the door with breakfast and lunch. As a single income family we can’t afford to spend $20/day on food. He leaves for work shortly after 6am. After he leaves I go to our sunroom. It is a place where you can hear the birds chirping, the roosters crowing, the rain falling, the wind blowing, the neighbor dog barking, the school bus driving by and the owl “hooting”. It’s not a quiet place, but it certainly is a peaceful place.

I have never been a morning person, but it is unbelievable how much better I feel throughout day and how much I am able to get done.  I’m not doing much in the morning other than put breakfast and lunch together for the husband, maybe change some laundry over, but mostly I’m drinking coffee (while it’s warm), trying to focus on reading my Bible and doing a daily devotional to set my tone for the day.  (Right now I’m working on Jesus Always by Sarah Young).

Would I have this morning routine if my children weren’t sleeping through the night? Maybe not.  Would I do this if I were a working mom?  I think so.  I’m able to be more productive through the day and utilize nap times rather than just slug around.  I kid you not, since I’ve been doing this, my house has been cleaner and I’ve been able to get a handful of home improvement projects completed.  I don’t do the cleaning and projects first thing in the morning, I do it during nap times.  I think my kids have greatly benefited too because overall I have a better attitude and I feel motivated to get them out of the house and go to the park or Toddler Story Time at our local libraries.

Do you have a morning routine for yourself that includes “me” time? What gets your day started?

Mission Motherhood

You’re more than a Nurse

Happy Nurse’s Week!

Many people go to work, do their job, complete menial tasks, physically exert themselves, get in their car, go home from work and turn it off.  They walk away from what they do and go about their lives.

You nurses… you do it all.  You have to be sharp and on your toes at all times.  You have to be a detective looking for signs and putting together puzzle pieces.  Your job is physically demanding.  You pour your heart into your patients and you emotionally invest. You work 12+ hour shifts. And then you’re expected to go home after those 12 hours and be physically and emotionally available to your families.  That’s a gift… that’s a super power.

In my 19 days in the labor and delivery ward at North Kansas City Hospital I didn’t meet a bad nurse. And based on my experience there, I’ve come to the realization that you are way more than a nurse.

  • You were my advocate when I didn’t want the doctor to check me.
  • You were my calm when life felt like chaos.
  • You were compassion when I was hurting.
  • You brought me a “long-term” bed that was SO much more comfortable than a labor bed.
  • You put on my freaking compression socks…. which is darn near a cardio workout.
  • You brought me DVDs, snacks and drinks. You even made sandwiches and toast.
  • You encouraged me when I felt like I couldn’t do it.
  • You put a bed pan under me and helped me lift my big ole pregnant body on it when I was on magnesium sulfate and restricted to the bed. (And you moms know how frequently a pregnant lady pees).
  • When I was alone you were my friend. You came in and talked to me about life, about my unborn babies, the best Netflix shows to watch.
  • You brought me a mini-fridge for our Thanksgiving leftovers.
  • You shared your Thanksgiving with my family.
  • You brought me Black Friday ads, even though there was no way I’d be Black Friday shopping.
  • You helped me get out of bed, walk the halls, and walk to the bathroom.
  • When I was getting cabin fever you convinced the doctor to let me take a wheel chair ride down to the cafeteria.
  • When I so badly wanted to sit in a tub of water and feel weightless you made it happen, despite a doctor discouraging it, and despite the Mother and Baby unit that possessed such tub… because “it is only for postnatal mothers”.
  • When I wanted to go outside and sit in the courtyard after being trapped in the same room for 18 days you brought me a wheelchair and warmed blankets.
  • You cried with me.
  • You were going to coordinate a time for my dog to visit me in the hospital because I missed her like crazy.
  • You woke me up in the middle of the night because you had to… but you did it in the kindest way and left all of the lights off. (They can do their job in the dark, people.)
  • On day 19 when the doctor told me he would let me go 14 more days before he’d induce labor, I lost my cool at the idea of being there for 14 more days.  You made me a paper chain with 14 links that each of the night shift people decorated.
  • You got excited for me when I thought my water broke.
  • You held me when my epidural was placed (3 freaking times… and listened to my swear words without taking it personal).
  • You cheered me on during labor.
  • You rejoiced with me on the happiest day of my life.
  • You were my birth photographer.
  • You helped me navigate self care of a postnatal body.
  • You held my babies before they sent us up to the Mother and Baby ward.
  • You came back to Mother and Baby for a visit several times before we left the hospital.
  • You made little shirts for the twins as a gift. (You were my nurse and you gave ME a gift? You’re the one that deserves the gifts)

You do it all.  You are so much more than a nurse. You invest in people. You have a heart to serve and you do it because you have a passion for it. You get your hands dirty and deal with grumpy patients but you still come in with a smile and a snack.

You are my HERO.

Thank you for all you do.

If more people had the heart of a nurse, I think we’d live in a much peaceful world.

(My first trip out of my room and to the cafeteria with my mom)

Mission Motherhood

Fuss free bedtime: twin edition

I was scrolling through Instagram and came across a profile that I follow: Twinsandmoretwins. This user has two sets of twins about a year apart and she compares sleep patterns for her older set vs her younger set of twins. I totally relate to her methods with her youngest set of twins who learned to self soothe at an early age without cry-it-out methods.

1. Maintain a solid bedtime and nap time routine

We are blessed with mild tempered twins who are pretty easy sleepers. They are currently 17 months old and we’ve had a pretty solid bedtime routine for the last 6-7 months. We have dinner at 6:00pm, bath immediately after dinner every other night, sippy cup of milk at 7:00pm, jammies at 7:30pm, teeth brushed and in their cribs by 8:00pm. They are typically asleep within 5 minutes and generally sleep until 7:30-8:00am.

2. Allow them to fall asleep without needing snuggles

I think what really helped us was leaving them to fall asleep on their own as newborns. Before our twins were born my husband and I decided that we needed to be strategic with our snuggles. The idea of either one of us being alone with them and not being able to get them to sleep was stressful. If we used snuggles to get the babies to sleep they would be reliant on being held in order to fall asleep. This was our strategy as newborns: We’d feed then diaper and while they were still milk drowsy we’d lay them down in their bassinet or pack n play.

We still snuggled our babies… the good Lord knows I love my baby snuggles (and daddy is just as guilty of loving his snuggles). We just didn’t snuggle them to sleep. When they looked like they might be getting close to falling asleep we’d lay them down. They started sleeping 6-7 hour stretches around 10 weeks but the 4 month sleep regression ended that. They were 10 months old before they were consistently sleeping through the night again. But when they were getting up in the night, they got what they needed (binky, gas drops, water, Tylenol) and laid back down.

3. Avoid getting to the overtired stage by watching for signs of tiredness

I think since they’ve put themselves to sleep for such a long time it has helped them to recognize when they are tired and ready to rest. I will ask if they are ready to lay down, take a nap, or go to bed and they run towards their bedroom. I try to avoid getting to the point where they are overtired so I check in with them and ask if they want to lay down when they start showing signs of tiredness.

These are the signs I watch for in our toddlers:

  • Yawns
  • Eye rubbing
  • Irritability towards each other
  • Desire for snuggles
  • Climbing up on the couch just to sit
  • Laying on the floor
  • Standing at the baby gate closest to their room
  • Getting slap happy and giggly
  • Asking for binkies (because they only have them in bed – until I ditch my fear of bedtime without binkies)
  • Finding a quiet spot to read books

4. Learn the cues of your children and follow their lead

I keep thinking they will eventually stop wanting to take two naps a day, but for now they still very much ask for two naps. They have one at 11am and one at 3:30pm and sleep about 1-1.5 each nap.

Every child is different… their personalities, their communication. The twins are drastically different and they’ve never been away from each other. Just because these methods have worked for our family, doesn’t mean they’ll work for everyone. I think the biggest advice I could give is to listen to your child. Use their body language or changes in behavior as a form of communication. If you can recognize these changes it is so much easier to anticipate their needs before things escalate to utter frustration on behalf of your child who doesn’t know how to express their needs and frustration on behalf of parents who don’t know what the child needs.

What methods and bedtime routines have worked for you? What signs and signals do you watch for?

Fearless Faith, Mission Motherhood, Uncategorized

JOY

WOW.  Putting aside time to write has felt near impossible these past few months.  Between the baby being a baby and the two-year-old being a two-year-old and the seven-year-old actually being very helpful and the dogs and the kitten and my husband also having interests, along with a job to support our not-so-tiny family…when is there time for me to sit at the computer and get my thoughts out?  If I don’t have time to clean the bathrooms, do the dishes, get caught up on laundry, vacuum, or any of the other “housewifey” things that I feel like should be simple tasks to complete– how can I justify spending 45 minutes in front of the computer?  I’d be the first to tell another busy mom (or dad, for that matter) that self-care is not selfish…but when taking my own advice, I obviously struggle.

IT’S A NEW YEAR, FRIENDS!!  Can you believe it!?  2018? 

Like most of everyone, I’d assume, I did some careful reflection over my 2017.  I had a friend suggest to write things that I wanted to thank God for…and, in the midst of a heavy year, I found so many things that were more than worthy of praise.  –In this activity, I had to quickly realize that acknowledging that I’m grateful for events while mourning the death of a loved one does not negate the pain I still feel.  To me, after a few deep breaths, it felt like an unnatural but necessary part of grieving that I likely wouldn’t have taken the time to do had this friend not literally handed me pencil and paper as she posed this question.  Following the question about thanksgiving, she asked: “What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  …These two questions churned hard in my heart.  For what do I need to give thanks and what do I need to bury to start fresh?  Christians likely think of Jesus’s suffering on the cross, being buried, and raised again to life so that we, too, can have everlasting life.  Atheists, agnostics, and individuals of other religions or beliefs might have an easier time thinking of a tree.  (This was the analogy that I immediately thought of, honestly.)  I’m not even sure if this analogy is true or backed by science, but I heard one time years ago that a tree lets go of its leaves not because they’re unneeded during the fall and winter months, but because their branches would be too heavy to support the weight of the leaves in addition to the ice or snow that often falls during the colder months.  In order for the tree to bear the weight of the snow, it must let go of the leaves grown in the previous season.  It’s because of this defense that the tree keeps its branches and is allowed to produce new leaves and new life each year.

“What in your life needs to die for new growth to emerge?”  

For me, the answer wasn’t one that I wanted to hear…but it was an immediate lump in my throat and I knew that I had to put pen to paper: ego, pride, self-reliance, and comparison.  Between Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and self-help sections and DIY projects, it is so easy to find myself buried in a pile of “oh-my-God-how-am-I-ever-supposed-to-get-all-of-this-done-in-15-minutes-and-the-veggies-are-burning-and-why-is-there-snot-all-over-your-face-son?”  And, instead of asking for help, I’ll look on Pinterest to find ways to make my one person become so efficient that I’m able to complete the tasks of several while still caring for my children and modeling for them the values that I want so badly so soften their hearts in a world that suggests toughening up.  Why do I look on Pinterest?  Why do I ask for recommendations on Facebook about organization and quick meals?  Why do I think I should do it all and why do I think I have to EARN a break by completing everything?  In teaching, I know that students perform better if they’re given frequent breaks.  Why would I think it would be any different as an adult?  I also tell my children regularly, “Do not yell at me.  Do not whine.  If you need help, all you need to do is use your words and ask.  I’d be happy to help.”  I was on the phone with my mom a little over a week ago, and she said, “Dani, why don’t you ask me to help you?  I’d be glad to come watch the kids for a while.  You just need to tell me when you need me.”  My mother in law, aunts, grandma, friends, neighbors, etc. have all said the same thing.  Why is it so hard to ask for help?  Ego.  Pride.  Self-reliance.  “I got it.”  “I can do it.”  Or the worst of all: COMPARISON.  “But I saw on Facebook– SHE has kids…THEY goes on vacations…HER house is clean…HER meals are perfect…THEIR bodies are flawless…SHE is a better mom/wife/Christian/daughter/friend/person than me…THEY ARE BETTER.”  I know I’m not the only one who does this.  Right?  Right.

“Comparison is the thief of joy.” – Theodore Roosevelt

For the past several years, I’ve chosen a word to focus on through the upcoming year.   Each year I’ve experienced transformation.  The first year, my word was “INTENTION.”  Year two: “IDENTITY.”  Last year: “PEACE.”  This year: “JOY.”

In the previous years, I’ve mediated and prayed about my word because I wanted to pick the perfect word for the most drastic spiritual transformation.  This year, I didn’t do anything to receive my word.  –I have not been able to get away from my word for MONTHS.  It literally keeps showing up everywhere.  I know, you’re probably thinking, “Well, Christmas was just here…and ‘JOY to the World’ and JOY-this and JOY-that…”  But it’s been more than just the typical Christmastime sightings.  And it started prior to Christmastime festivities.  So my focal word for 2018 is JOY.  As a noun, it’s great…of course: “a feeling of happiness”–but as a verb…that’s truly where I’m going to place my focus: “rejoice.”  Can you imagine how much less stressed and resentful I would feel if I would stop comparing my dirty dishes to yours or hers or his or theirs…and instead took a minute to rejoice?  It sounds hokey.  But I’m going to try it, because it can’t hurt.  I’m going to rejoice in the dishes that show my family has eaten today…Rejoice in the laundry that shows my family has plenty of weather appropriate clothing…Rejoice in the aching shoulders and arms that show my children feel comforted in my care….Rejoice in the many friends and family who offer to help and say YES because self-care is not selfish.  Rejoice in the knowledge that I’m not so important that another person can’t watch my kids or load the dishwasher or fold the laundry…Rejoice in the recognition of some control issues and the ability to ask for help instead of drowning because I refuse to let go of the idea that I can complete everything on my own.  Rejoice in letting the dead leaves fall to the ground (ego, pride, self-reliance, comparison) in order for fresh leaves and new life to emerge (JOY).

 

 

 

joyDo you have a word for 2018?  If you haven’t yet chosen one, I encourage you to choose a word that resonates with your soul.  Choose a word that encourages growth and demands action, but is gentle enough to tuck away at night and allow you to sleep
peacefully.  If you have already chosen a word, I’d love for you to comment with your word.  No explanations.  Just the word.  I believe in support…I believe in the power of prayer…and I believe that the simplicity of a single word can be extraordinarily impactful.

Until I get the chance to write again, from my heart to yours, Happy New Year!

xox,
Dani

Mission Motherhood

I can wear a baby, but my shoes have to come off?

Navigating airport security is a bit of a cluster with little ones. Since Christmas will soon be here and many of you may be traveling I thought I’d share my perspective on flying with babies. My family recently took a week long trip to Orlando, Florida with our 11 month old twins. This was our first experience flying with them and I have learned a lot about how to make the process easier.

Things to keep in your carry on bags:

  • Change of clothes for mom and dad – if a baby has a blow out while they’re in your lap, you’ll need a change of clothes too. 
  • 2 extra outfits per baby
  • Extra pacifiers 
  • Snacks – we used the 3 compartment formula holders for a variety of snacks (gold fish, corn Chex and Cheerios) 
  • Empty baby bottles and extra bottles of water (Make sure you take them out of your bag and put them in a separate bin when going through security. Tell them you have water for babies and they will allow you to take it through after testing the outside of the bottle.)
  • Sippy cups if your babes are drinking water – it’s easy to get dehydrated while traveling. 
  • Books and small toys – preferably something they haven’t read or played with in a while. 
  • Changing pad for airport bathroom diaper changes. 
  • Gas drops. Our girl has a tendency to get gassy and squeals about it. So for the sake of the other passengers keep some on hand if your babes are prone to belly bubbles. 
  • Tylenol in case of unexpected teething pain. 

Tips and tricks for navigating the airport:

  • Have your travel partner or a family member drop you off curb side rather than parking in long term parking. My husband dropped us curbside and then took our car to long term parking and rode the shuttle to the terminal. It was easier for him to ride alone than it would be for us all to lug babies and luggage onto a shuttle bus. 
  • Take a stroller that will hold your infant carrier car seats (if you’re going to have to travel with car seats). We took the Baby Trend Snap n Go for easy airport transport and rented a double jogger stroller at our destination. 
  • Take wearable baby carriers. We used the Ergobaby carriers. As you near security strap those babies to your chest. Security will want the car seats and stroller to go through the x-ray machine so it’s easier to already have the babies out of the stroller when you get to that point. 
  • Wear shoes that are easy to slip on and off because getting shoes on and off while baby wearing can be annoying. 
  • Put the babies back in their car seats/stroller while navigating to your gate. 
  • When you get to your gate, make bottles up and have them ready for takeoff because it’s is obnoxiously cramped on the plane to try to hold onto a baby and fix a bottle. We wanted our babies to have bottles for take of to aide with releasing pressure and easing ear popping. 
  • As soon as your flight starts boarding, get the babies back in their wearable carriers. Put your stroller and car seats into their “GATE CHECK” bags
  • Board as early as they let you. (We flew Southwest which we loved, but we didn’t check in ahead of time because we assumed we could board first with family boarding. With Southwest families board after zone A boards. If we checked in ahead of time we may have had the opportunity to load in group A.)
  • Sit accross from the aisle from one another or in front of/behind each other (depending on the size of airplane). We were on a 757 and they have 3 seas together on either side of the aisle. There are only 4 oxygen masks for the 3 chair groupings so they won’t let you have 2 lap children in the same row.
  • Keep your diaper bag with toys, snacks and bottles between your feet. 

Happy traveling, Mommas! Stay calm and go with the flow. Things can go awry even when you’re prepared. Although it still helps to be mentally prepared!