Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Relinquishing control.

Every day I learn something new about being a mom. Today is no different.

This morning I took Liam to a Baby Praise class at our church. Honestly, I've been a little hesitant to go to something like this with him because I wasn't sure how he'd act, or how I'd handle it if he wouldn't sit still. Even after 18 months I find that I’m still timid in social situations such as these; I picture the worst-case scenario that Liam will cause a scene, and I’ll be that mom hauling her screaming, kicking, red-in-the-face child out the door tucked under one arm.

That blue blur is my kid.
Jumping in the action.

Greeting the ladies. He's quite the charmer.

Wow, there’s so much about being a new mom that frightens me! I’m mostly a by-the-book person, but I have yet to find a manual for how to raise the unique child I have. When I first had Liam, I expected being a mom of a toddler to be just like my mom described the early years with my brother and me. According to her, we were sweet and quiet, obedient, inquisitive but not fussy, easy to handle. (She must have selective memory!) My goal up until this point has been to replicate that experience, but surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), Liam is a very different child than I was. And instead of recognizing him for who he is, I’ve been fighting a losing battle of trying to turn him into the ideal toddler. 

I used to think that behind every child who threw a tantrum was a parent who was also out of control. Children who obeyed (even at 18 months) were not born that way; they were taught. I’m learning, though, that perhaps that’s not always the case. It takes longer with some children, especially stubborn ones like mine. It's a process, and while he's made so much progress in learning self-control and is a delight in so many ways, he's not going to learn it all in one day. And I could afford to ease up a little without turning our kid into a monster.

So I eased up. I chose to view the class through the eyes of a curious little explorer instead of a strict parent. I let him run around with the other kids instead of insisting that he sit by my side and pay attention to the songs like a "good little boy." You know what? It was a joy to see him come alive! Yes, there were a couple of moments where he ran off and then resisted when I brought him back to the group, but he wasn't the only one. We fit right in and had a blast!

Liam is strong-willed. I wasn’t. He’s definitely NOT shy. I was. He doesn’t hesitate to express his emotions. I wasn’t that way. He is all boy, and I was all girl. My name even means “discretion.” His means “strong-willed warrior.” He’s not me. And instead of letting that be a constant source of frustration and confusion, I should embrace the unique qualities in him that will undoubtedly yield a strong leader one day. He’s his own magnificent little person, and I was inspired to give him room to be the vivacious little man that he is.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Blooming where I'm planted.

I just read a very timely blog post today by Kelly Hicks (read it here!), where she talks about the importance of enjoying the season you’re in right now.

I have a tendency to constantly have my gaze set on the next phase in life.

I dream of the days when I am no longer pregnant or nursing, where we are finished growing our family, as if only then can we enjoy actually being a family. When I’m no longer a baby-making machine and I get my body back, I’ll run a full marathon and go skydiving and enjoy cute new clothes and whatever else I decide can only happen after I am done having children.

My husband and I are currently making our way through Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover, and our goal is to be debt-free (excluding our mortgage) by our tenth anniversary, which is in December 2014. We often discuss what we’ll do once we no longer have monthly payments: transform our large wooded backyard, build custom cabinetry in our kitchen, add a half-bath in the basement, pick up this or that hobby.

Looking ahead to the “one day” often causes me to miss seeing the beauty of where I am at right now. I may be getting tired of pregnancy, but the time I have right now with my firstborn is invaluable. Never again will it just be him and me; my time will soon be divided by a demanding newborn, and we’ll have to adjust to a new family dynamic. And this season of “trimming the fat” from our finances has developed in us a new level of self-control, resourcefulness, and determination; we are constantly learning new lessons that will bring lasting change for our future and make our financial goals possible.

Kelly quotes her current devotional in her blog post: I do resolve to embrace my current season of life and will maximize my time in it. I will resist the urge to hurry through or circumvent any portion of my journey but will live with a spirit of contentment. 

What a great lesson! I resolve not to let impatience for the future cheapen the season I’m experiencing now. I will relish in the sweetness of the present moment and cultivate an atmosphere of contentment and peace in our home.

Speaking of sweet moments, I walked in my kitchen this afternoon to find this: 

He pulled his chair over to his kitchen cabinet.

Trying to buckle his safety belt.

A splash of color

You know what's nice about owning a home? If you get the urge to paint your dining room indigo, you don't have to ask anyone's permission. (Except, of course, your husband's!) So that's what we did this past weekend.

Here is the only before picture I have of our dining room (taken on my cell phone)

Not very exciting, is it? A can of paint later...

If you're wondering, the color is Benjamin Moore's Mysterious. This was my inspiration. The next step will be to add wanes coting on the bottom and paint it the same color as the chair rail. Then we'll jazz it up a little with mustard gold, champagne and cranberry accents. As you can tell, our walls are shockingly bare. Baby steps...

Even though I'm a graphic designer, I get designer's block when it comes to our home. I am inspired by so many different styles that I am inclined to just take the safe route and paint neutral colors, adding pops of color through accessories that are easy to switch out. I am a commitment phobe when it comes to color! So indigo was a big leap for me. But it adds just the right amount of drama and sophistication, I think. The true test? My husband actually loves it!

Our next project: transforming my office space into a woodland-inspired nursery for baby Riley!


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

My view this morning.

It's been a pajamas-and-Curious-George kind of day in the Thompson household. My little man has been sick or in pain for a month now, first with a cold that turned into a sinus infection, which then morphed into an ear infection that he had to take an antibiotic for. This past weekend, he broke out in hives all over his body and his joints swelled from the antibiotic, and that's how we found out he's allergic to penicillin! His skin is starting to clear up, but he still isn't back to his old self. And he seems to be getting all of his teeth at once: two molars and two canines on top, and now two bottom molars. Bless his sweet baby heart!

First, I caught Liam's cold, and then after more than a week of tissues, I passed it to Kelley, who after a few days passed it back to me. I finally broke down and got an antibiotic for my sinus infection, that I decided after two weeks wasn't going away on its own. As if that weren't enough, we've also made three trips to the hospital in the past three weeks for pre-term contractions! Each time I've had to get at least one shot to make them stop. I'm getting to know the nursing staff very well at this point!

So this morning was needed. I knew it. Liam knew it. In fact, he actually fetched his blanket and lovey and brought them to me, then led me to the living room and pointed to the TV, babbling on as he touched the DVD player. Who could refuse that request? Not me!

I don't handle chaos very well and run a pretty tight ship at our house. Liam and I spend a lot of our time practicing crucial skills or reading, and I spend his playpen time taking care of bills or chores. Most days I get so caught up in maintaining a consistent routine and keeping our house in order that I fail to take the time to cuddle up with my little boy. These precious opportunities won't last forever! One day he will stop bringing me his blanket or reaching up those little arms to hug me. Yes, I want to raise obedient boys who grow up to be Godly men, and to me that process starts now, but I'm learning that process also has room for a mom who slows down long enough to be nurturing and compassionate...and who's always willing to snuggle or play with Matchbox cars while my son nestles in my nap!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Love always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.
I Corinthians 13:7

My little Casanova hard at work making a valentine.

I hope all of you had a wonderful day celebrating with your loved ones. Today could not have been any sweeter for me! We've been having a "no-spend" month (except for bare necessities) to see how long we can make it without spending any extra money, so we made each other valentines and my husband cooked dinner for me tonight: grilled venison tenderloin. Liam and I also made sugar cookies yesterday with homemade buttercream frosting. We didn't spend a dime, and instead of digging deep into our pockets, we dug a little deeper into our hearts and found special ways to show how much we love one another.

It was very fitting for this year, actually. With all of the challenges that my husband and I have been through the past several months, every day has been a demonstration of our persevering love for one another. We've stood by each other, protected and encouraged one another, and worked as a team to make it through some dark times. Our love has grown by another dimension, so the typical Valentine's Day accoutrements just didn't seem appropriate anyway.

My valentine from my little valentine (with the help of his daddy!)

Real men use glitter...and cut out tiny hearts by hand

This year my perspective on love within a family has definitely expanded, and I could not have had a better day with my two men!