4.19.2014

Thoughts from the Trenches of Toddlerhood


We are in the trenches these days with our firstborn. He is two and a half years old, full of curiosity and spunk and as stubborn as all get-out. For every sweet, special moment there are many, many tantrums and sharing talks. Contrary and oppositional are two words that come to mind. Lots of crying and stomping and funny little outbursts on his part and disciplining and reiterating and reassuring and holding on our part these days. One of Collin's favorite expressions, which lands him into trouble over and over again, is "Don't say no (to) me." Yes, he is parroting back what we say to him. Not cute. As I write this, Nick is upstairs talking him down from the rafters.

I don't know why this surprises me. They are called the terrible twos for a reason. One thing I know, what today seems like difficult, headstrong tendencies will be, given some harnessing and good choices on his part, the very character traits will someday make him a leader. Just praying I start to see the latter sooner than later.

I'm learning it's hard work walking the line as parents. It would be much easier to let things slide or swing the opposite direction and try to use anger and fear to control our kids (because, believe you me, their behavior can be angering), but neither of these approaches get to the heart of the issue. By letting them do whatever they want we deny them the mercy of learning respect and how to deal with consequences in the arena of childhood, where the stakes aren't as high as they are in the real world. Conversely, by bulldozing and controlling, we teach them to respond to us out of fear, not out of a desire to maintain relationship and trust. In the end we will have done them a great injustice if we do not enter into their situations willing to sift through the issues and walk these growing pains out alongside them.

Isn't that the way God parents us? He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. He disciplines those he loves, yet keeps no record of wrong against us. He is not surprised when we sin, but graciously welcomes us back over and over. He does not force us to love and obey Him. How many times do I wish I could just force Collin to be a certain way!?

He also does not take it personally when we choose poorly or walk away from Him. I'm pretty sure God would never say, "You are a disgrace to our family!" I think it can be hard not to feel as if our children are little representations of us. It's embarrassing when you have to drag them down the hall at preschool because they refuse to stop playing with the toy farm. It's not fun when they yell at another child or refuse to share. It feels personal. It feels like everyone is watching and judging our parenting skills based on those brief moments. And guess what? They might be! I, for one, am all too guilty of thinking I knew what it took to parent a child before having children of my own or thinking our sweet little angel baby would never talk back to us. Eating lots and lots of previous thoughts these days;) But, ultimately, I don't want the weight of people's perceived opinions of mom and dad on the shoulders of my kiddos. That is not a sustainable way to good behavior, that does not produce a lasting heart change.

Not having a guaranteed reward for our hard work as parents is hard. One thing I am learning is this- Even if we did absolutely everything right, if we read every parenting book on earth and only fed them the purest of organic food and successfully shielded them from certain negative influences while allowing others in order for them to develop backbone and taught them to play the harp and help old ladies cross the street and took them out to feed the poor on weekends, we still would not be promised successful children-- that they would love us and Jesus and make an positive impact in the world. The sweet baby you hold in your arms, night after night might end up in jail for killing someone someday. I am constantly blessed by several dear older saints in the faith whose children have walked away from God. They do not give up on their kids, just like the Prodigal son's father never stopped watching for him, but they are also not consumed with what they could have done differently. They are lovingly confident that he who began a good work in their children will see it through unto completion. I am challenged to have faith like this!

The best father of all, God, has scores upon scores of wayward children who have and are continually making poor choices, sinning and distancing themselves from Him and that does not mean He could have done something differently or better. He paid the ultimate price by dying on a cross for them-- taking upon himself the punishment for their sins. Who are these wayward children? We are those wayward children! We have free will. We are free to walk away and just as free to run to Him. If we weren't free to rebel, then how true would our "choice" to love Him be?

You know what else is hard? Realizing that even if all of our wonderful work "paid off" and they did turn out to be Rhodes scholars and curers of cancer who passionately love Jesus, we couldn't take the full credit for that either. Why? Because it's not all about us... but man is it easy to swell up with pride when things are going well!

It's not about how awesome or horrible we are as parents. While this is frustrating, because boy do we invest a lot of blood sweat and tears and prayers into our little ones, it's also liberating. It's liberating to not have to go at this parenting thing alone. It's liberating that we are partnering with God-- stewarding the little lives He has given us.

By shifting the focus off of ourselves we help our children recognize their need for a savior outside of mommy and daddy or themselves. They will see God's character displayed when their earnest, yet flawed, parents seek to be like God, not pretend to be God. The greatest gift we can give them is modeling that it is all about Jesus-- that we need Him just as much as they do! That we make mistakes and fall just like they do and this does not change God's love for us, and likewise their mistakes do not change our love for them.

So, in the meantime, we do not give up sowing into the soil of their hearts and lives. We do not abandon them to their own, inherently sinful nature, we discipline in love, we reinforce positive behaviors and allow natural consequences to happen, we continually seek to get to the heart of the matter and parent in grace in the efforts to maintain relationship and trust. We walk the tension of holding fast and lightly to what God has given us in these babies and then we rest. We rest in the knowledge that we have the most perfect example of a parent in our Heavenly Father who will guide us when we do not know what to do, who will refresh us when we are weary and who will restore all things in His time. And when the ornery toddler finally gives up fighting and falls asleep in a heap on the bed. You kiss their cheek, close the door and go downstairs to laugh about it with your spouse because this too shall pass... Until they are teenagers!

4.15.2014

Laundrypalooza and a Giveaway Winner


Today was laundrypalooza. I decided to call it something fun to make my most loathed chore more enjoyable. A crazy weekend and Monday on the heels of a crazy week (and also some procrastinating) made for a clothes pile of epic proportions. Poor Collin had to wear chambray shorts to bed because all of his jammies were dirty and I had resorted to wiping up Killian's spit up with dish towels. Mom fail! 

So, today I put on my big girl pants (oh wait... those were dirty too), I put on my big girl leggings that I typically wear as long underwear when it's cold out and I did five large loads including sheets towels and diapers. They are now all done and almost all put away. I won't go into the boys rooms right now and risk waking them just to put the last load in their drawers, but man do I feel good. 

I tell myself that if my laundry room wasn't a creepy basement, if it had a chandelier in it or cool concrete countertops like this in it I'd be much more apt to want to spend time near my washer and dryer, but let's be honest. The novelty of my cute laundry room would wear off pretty quickly and I'd be back to loathing.

After letting it get this bad (and you may think five loads is nothing... especially if you have more than two children) I am determined to set a system in place. What works for you? Do you have a laundry day? I kind of feel like if I don't do a load a day, things spiral out of control. How do you keep on top of things in your home? I do so long to get better at it.

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! Allie is the winner of the gold and white iPhone case. Message me via FB to claim your prize. Happy Tuesday everyone! 

4.11.2014

Happy Weekend and a Giveaway!

Hi sweet friends,

Do you have much planned for the weekend? We always seem to do a lot of projects on Saturdays and then church on Sunday morning, a chili dinner with friends and small group on Sunday night. On Monday I'll be doing a stations of the cross type prayer night with the ladies at my church. I'm super excited. We have a great team of women behind each station and my husband is even helping by building a cross out of cedar. He is chiseling each beam by hand and when I asked why he didn't just use a saw he said, "It's kind of important for me to do it this way... It means something." Gah, I love him and his heart for Jesus.

I love this shot, even though it's super blurry:)

Since the fall Collin has been battling lots of ear infections, coughs, colds and now enlarged tonsils. I'm taking him back to the Dr. today because I finally got him to open up wide enough to look down his throat and his tonsils are so big they are almost touching his uvula. Poor baby! Our ped is most likely referring him to an ENT to discuss getting his tonsils out and tubes put in. Your prayers for him are appreciated. Have any other of you moms out there ever dealt with these procedures with a toddler? How did they handle it? You insights are appreciated!

Well, I thought it had been a long time since I'd given something away on here, so I'm offering up a brand new Mobillivng iPhone 5 case. It's a hard case with diagonal gold and white stripes and this particular style is discontinued. Super cute! If you are anything like me, your case takes a beating and needs to be changed out from time to time. Swap yours for this springy/summerish number!



To for entries, follow me on both my Instagram accounts:

here

and

here


and leave a comment on here that you follow in all three places.

Winner will be chosen at random on Tuesday, April 15th.

Good luck and happy weekend!

Steph

4.10.2014

It's Swanderful



You know what I find beautiful? Swans. They are so graceful and pure looking and have a sort of vintage charm. I think they should be the next en-vogue animal for children's nurseries, toys and clothing. Or maybe not... maybe I don't want them to become trendy. Maybe that would take away their allure for me! Or maybe they already are trendy and that's why they have stood out to me. Oy... Either way, I love them and I think these shots will make you love them to.


Take a look at Ilona Jongepier's beautiful portfolio. 
She is such an amazing story-telling photographer!

(source unknown)

If you are interested in taking a ride on a swan boat 
and just so happen to find yourself in Japan, go to Lake Ashi.


Becca Stadtlander is one of my new favorite illustrators. 
Check out her work here.


Disneyland's Swan Boat in the 1970's.


4.08.2014

Vintage Room Inspiration- Children's Books

These days I spend quite a bit of time reading to Collin. I love seeing his eyes dance when we read a new story or an old story that's new to him. One of his current favorite series is Richard Scarry's Busytown books. He's amazingly quick at finding the hidden Goldbug on every page. It's impressive. I can barely keep up reading because Collin is all too ready to turn the page and find another "Go-bug." Now that the boys' nap times and bedtimes are synching up, it's fun to sit on Collin's bed with
Killian on my lap and read to both of them at the same time before they go down.

Another favorite in our house is the classic Are You My Mother by P.D. Eastman. Not only is the story adorable, it boasts such a rich, vibrant color palette. The other day I found myself inspirited to create a home decor scheme around the beautiful canary yellow, tomato red, mocha brown and vibrant teal. You don't see these colors put together that often in modern decor. 
Take a look at what I've come up with.


So I've decided to start sharing some more of my vintage inspiration for rooms-- be it from old postcards, advertisements, movies, product packaging... You name it. Stay tuned, friends!

4.05.2014

9 Budget-Friendly Vintage Swimsuits


Hi friends!

Summer is just around the corner and I'm sure, if you are like me, the thought of swimsuit shopping or swimsuit donning is not-so-fun!

Well, I think there are a whole lot of cute, modest options out there these days with the awesome revival of vintage styles.

I recently bought a peplum two piece from Kingdom and State and I love it. It gives me enough coverage to feel comfortable in my post baby state, but also feels cute and flirty and modern. It seems more and more clothing companies are embracing the more is more concept and I, for one, am happy about that!

Check out this round-up of budget-friendly suits. They are all under $100.


1//2//3//4//5//6//7//8//9

And if you are up for a splurge.... this one is a favorite!

4.03.2014

Mug Shots

I have to attribute this clever title to my dear, sista friend Robyn who recently took this awesome photo, with the caption Mug Shot, during a weekend in Orcas Island, WA. You can purchase one of these beauties at Orcas Island Pottery.


 It's also home to this beautiful treehouse. Swoon.


Anyhow, it triggered an idea for a blog post. I love mugs. Big mugs, small mugs, mugs that are borderline big tea cups. It's more than likely due to my great love of warm beverages-- coffee, tea, hot cocoa, cider-- you name it!

My sweet friend from Atlanta, Jenny, and I used to have tea cup dates once a month where we'd load the babies up in strollers and go to Anthropologie to buy a tea cup (which was actually kind of a dainty mug) and have lunch afterwards. Sadly, our teacup dates only garnered us four cups, as we moved shortly after our tradition started. You can see the four floral teacups in the right side of my cabinet.


I've seen some beautiful mug collections on Pinterest lately and thought I'd share some of them with you.

I do so enjoy a good, french bottle rack!


You can see my blogger friend Lesley from Atlanta's bottle rack for mugs in her gorgeous kitchen below. Follow her, folks. You'll love her blog; it's one of my favs!


(Source unknown)

(Source unknown)


Hopefully this put you in the mood to drag out and display your mugs, brew something warm to drink or both!

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