Friday, November 15, 2013

Morning Talk

(In the girl's room getting ready for the day with Fia and Francesca)

I am helping Francesca get on her clothes which consist of a skirt, leggings, turtleneck and shirt......she starts gagging when she puts on the turtetneck.  Why this surprises me I don't know........the child gags at almost every meal.  Thankfully she doesn't throw up and the turtleneck stays on.

Fia's contribution?

Fia: I throw up a little in my mouth at school.  The food comes up and stays in my mouth and I just swallow it.  It's ok.  


Never knew that.

(Still in the girl's room)

Francesca is twirling around with a monkey that Zia Maria gave me.  Yes, my sister-in-law gave me a stuffed monkey.  She was referencing the fact that her cousin asked where the monkey was when I started laughing one day early on in my relationship with Joe.  To her credit she didn't realize it was the new girlfriend in the room that was laughing.  The story stuck and I was known for my monkey laugh since then.  Charming, I know :)

Fia:  You know Francesca that is really mommy's monkey.  Zia Maria gave it to her.  It's yours now but one day you can give it to your daughter and then she can give it to her daughter and then we will all be dead.


Another gem.  Who knew that Zia Maria was buying an heirloom monkey that would live on after we were all dead one day.

(Walking into the kitchen)

Nico:  M-O-M!! I CANNOT CRISS CROSS IN THESE PANTS! SEE! SEE! (As he is yanking at the inseams of the pants......for those of you not in the know he is referring to criss cross applesauce - the appropriate way of saying indian style now)

Mom:  Ok.  Could you have told me that without yelling.

Nico: Sorry.  Yes.  But MOM why did you put these jeans out for me?

Mom:  I. didn't. know. (I tend to speak very slowly and calmly when the children get in their hysterical something is bothering me and feels out of control mode.)  Why don't we go see if there are some other pants we can find, ok?

Nico:  Ok (sigh)

Mom:  Oh here are some but wait they don't match you shirt, let's see if we can find other pants so you don't have to change your shirt.

Nico:  Why do they have to MATCH?

Fia:  Oh she always wants EVERYTHING to match (as if this is something akin to torturing small, fluffy kittens PLUS have you seen my children?  Hardly fashion plates and most of the time Francesca doesn't altogether match because she adds accessories or clothing items at the last moment that makes her look like a homeless diva or Madonna in the 80s after a really, really rough night.).

Mom:  Here.  I found some other jeans.

And the morning continues with basketball class, jewelry making and more in the basement.

How's your morning been?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

To My Girls.........and Jani, a warrior mother.

One day, far from now, you will find yourself in a home, a hospital, a building........and you will be holding a baby.

Oh my girls.

I hope so much for you on that day.  I hope that it went easy and the way that you wanted it to.  I hope that your precious babe is healthy and screaming loud.  I hope that you and your husband feel that sense of joy and excitement that your father and I felt on the day that each of you were born.  I hope that I am there.........well after all the bloody and horrible bits occur......I apologize if you are disappointed in your mother for not being one who thinks the birthing process is beautiful.  It just isn't.

And if for some reason none of the above is true.......just know it's a day and just like a wedding doesn't determine a marriage, a birth doesn't determine a life.  How you got into the world is not so important as how you are cared for and live in that world.

And, girls, I want to talk to you for a moment about that first year.

It will seem like the BIGGEST, MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER that you just had a baby.

And it is.

It will be to you.

It will be to your husband.

It will be to your family.

But it's one day.  And the year that follows is just one year in a string of hopefully many, many years to come.

And so I want you to remember that what happens in that year is important in that you need to feed your baby, they need to sleep, they need lots of love, they need to have shelter and be clothed.  You need to hold them and comfort them when they cry.  Make sure you change their diaper lots and wash their tiny, little selves.  Help them to sleep safe, ride safe and play safe.  Read books to them.  Kiss them.

Do all those things.



How you birth them, feed them, diaper them, sleep them, comfort them and keep them is up to you, my loves.  And if by chance someone makes you feel as if you are LESS because of how you accomplish those things.........walk away, girls.  Just walk away.

We, mothers, have a tendency to get so wrapped up in our world and our crusades and our soapboxes and our precious babies.  We care so much about our little ones and, to be honest, are scared.  We are scared that we aren't doing things right, that we aren't making the right decisions, right choices and so we have to BELIEVE in what we are doing and sometimes that means we hurt others or ourselves with our fervent beliefs.

Motherhood makes you sensitive.

Motherhood makes you strong.

Motherhood makes you crazy.

Motherhood makes you rally for your child which has become your cause.

Motherhood makes you certain..........until you aren't.

And so my sweet girls never mistake any method of birthing, feeding, diapering, scheduling, loving, caring, sleeping, keeping as holiness.

It's not.

It's just the first year.

Begin motherhood, not in battle AGAINST other mothers.  But begin motherhood in battle WITH other mothers.

Because honestly?

You will feel as if you are battling those screaming, little creatures that you take home with you from wherever.  It will be a battle to sleep them, feed them, clothe them, and continue to like them (The saying is DO always love them but liking them is another story).  And you need other warriors in the battle with you.

Warriors who like your children when you don't.

Warriors to call and laugh with when your whole day has been tears and peeing pants and throwing things (and that's just what I was doing...........)

Warriors who will bring food or drinks or distractions.

Warriors who watch your kids.

Warriors who look beyond the mom debates and see to the heart of the mom.


Find your warriors, girls.

And BE a warrior for other moms.  Be the safe place, the honest place.

And I will be yours.

I love you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Hot? Probably not...... :)

This past week we were at a birthday party - a birthday party with old friends, celebrating 2 years of their beautiful, crazy-fun boy.  One of the girls walked in and just shook her head and said, "What.  What is it?  You  Did you lose weight?  Did you cut your hair?  What?"

Ha.  Still giggling over her words.

We met these wonderful people - so many of them - about three years ago.  Three years ago when my babies were all still at home.  Three years ago when they were all newly married and bright-eyed and wearing funky, cool thrift store clothing or clothing found in a mom's/grandmother's closet or bought in some far away land when they were traveling/living there.  They would walk into our house, to church and they would be rested and they would have just exercised that day or spent time cooking/reading/hanging out/cleaning/working ALONE, no little ones following them all the live long day.   Then there would be Joe and I with our littles - 4, 3 and 1.  We were never rested.  We were rarely alone.  We never exercised anymore.  Our tribe was loud and lovable and eager and always messy.  It was like we were some other breed of creature and I still appreciate how welcomed we were.

Ha.  I still giggle at the picture we made and the misconceptions of the ones without little ones.

(One of my favorite stories from that time - which we tell over and over - was the first time we met most of these people.  It was at a get together at the Barger house.  We were some of the only ones with kids.  We were sitting down at this table with our three kids and Francesca gets "the look" and starts choking.  No biggie.  She did it all the time, still does quite frequently.  We run her over to the side of the deck and let her throw up in the bushes and then sit down and finish our potluck.  Not everyone else was so unfazed by this......or the eating habits of a 3 and 4 year old.  Not to mention Joe finishing the mess of food from the children's plate...........the same childless woman at that table?  Now pregnant with number 2.......number 1?  Yeah, she sat on my lap Monday night, stuck her finger up her nose and pulled out a little present.......I nearly vomited.  How, indeed, the tides have turned :)

And so now.........the newly marrieds are the newly babied :)  They have little ones, are pregnant with their seconds and the tides have turned.  And every time I see this wonderful woman and she exclaims over me and says what happened and what have I done with myself?

Oh my.

I got some sleep.

I have some space.


I don't chase anymore.

Everyone goes to the bathroom/dresses/feeds themselves.

The little ones help cook/clean.

We have dinner conversation.

My kids and I can play things we BOTH enjoy.

I can say, "HEY.  Mom needs a little time.  Go play." AND THEY DO.

So what happened?

It's not the bangs.  It's certainly not the body.  It's not anything.  It's just.......well........

Life happened.  It went on.  Babies got bigger.  We entered a new phase.

And it's good.

Just as good as the one before.

And just as good as the one to come after will be.

And, I don't know, I just want to encourage those of you in the midst of that phase that it's ok.  It's ok to be tired and wear your jammies all day.  It's ok to not feel great and to resent the little ones and lose your patience, at times.  It's ok to have laundry that's piled up and dishes that are never done.  It's ok to not be ok.

I once cried at Christmas because my brother bought me all these clothes from Banana Republic - dry clean only, pretty clothes that had no place in my life at that time.  They didn't fit my body, they didn't fit my life and I cried.  I cried because my mom had gotten me a matching jogging-type outfit and it did fit.  It fit my body and my life and I thought that was just going to be it.  Me in a matchy-match pink and black jogging outfit for the rest of my life and there was going to be no more room for pretty clothes and white tops and cool jeans.

And I know that there are moms out there that do white tops and pretty clothes and bright smiles through the baby years.  They look great and the love that time and they get sleep and they just do it somehow.

I wasn't one of them.

I loved my babies and I was a good mom and I played and I created and I got through and did it well.  But it wasn't always pretty and it wasn't always fun and I cried and I laughed a lot because nothing gets so bad that you can't find a way to laugh in the midst of it all.

And so I just want to's ok.  Whatever you are feeling, whatever you see when you look in the mirror, whatever is happening behind closed doors at home with the little's ok.

You'll survive.

They'll survive.

And you will have a TON of great stories at the end of it all.........

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Snowflake's Journey

Once upon a time a tiny, brand-new snowflake descended from the sky.  It was carried gently along on the breezes, fluttering here and there, before gently landing upon the ground.

There it was cloaked in a sea of white obscurity among the other tiny snowflakes.

Until one day.

On that day a pair of hands reached down and, ever so tenderly, picked that snowflake up.

He examined the tiny snowflake.  This snowflake was now not so new.  It was slightly damaged from the skyfall.  It was wondering at it's life course, here among so many other snowflakes, some bigger and more beautiful and more pronounced than itself.  For it was just a tiny, little snowflake among so many others.

But He saw it's beauty and uniqueness.  He spoke to this tiny snowflake of His wonder of her beauty and purpose and how she was created to be just as she is, a tiny snowflake with six points and all the unique designs she carried within her and upon her tiny snowflake frame.

And there came a day..............when she believed His words.

She had always believed in Him.  She had seen evidence of Him throughout the world she had fallen into.  There were much bigger things which had no explanation other than the one provided by those big hands that enveloped her.  She believed, easily, in Him.

But that day.............she believed in herself.

On that day she believed He could use her to do special things.

And so it began.

Another leg of this snowflake's journey.

She began to notice that other snowflakes were being plucked from upon the ground, the hands shaping and molding them to her.  Some were big, some were tiny, some looked kind of like her, others did not.  All were uniquely made and beautiful, as snowflakes are known to be.  Not any one snowflake was like any other.

They were molded and shaped by those hands until they resembled something bigger than themselves, something different than what they were alone.

And it took awhile.

Those hands needed time to smooth the rough edges and tightly pack those snowflakes together.

Until one day.................they formed a somewhat perfectly shaped, round ball.

And it was time.

He gently laid that ball back on the ground, the ground upon which He once had found all those snowflakes, plucking them from their white obscurity and creating them into something more.

And for a time it settled there.

Until one started to roll, slowly at first.  But this snowball had been placed on a top of a high, high hill.  And we all know what happens when a snowball is placed upon a starts to roll.

And, indeed, it did.  It's progress was a bit slow at first, as it neared the brink of that hill and begin to precariously tip over edge.

But from there it gained momentum.

It began it's journey down the hill, the mountain really.  As it began it's descent and gained speed it picked up other snowflakes along the way and the snowball began to grow bigger and bigger.

Now as happens with all snowballs and journeys down large mountains while so many snowflakes grabbed on and were packed tightly in..........well, others were flung off and made to start over, on other journeys in different places.  You can never quite know where you are going to land.  The life of a snowflake is as varied as it's design.

And so they went along...........speeding, sometimes slowing as they hit different bumps and turns and obstacles along the way, down the mountain.

Until one day....................there came the end.

They had arrived at the bottom.

And as that once new, once tiny snowflake looked around..............well, she was in awe.  She remembered the day she had been blown gently on the breezes, landing upon the ground.  She remembered feeling insignificant and small and overwhelmed by all around her.  She remembered the hands.  She remembered the care and love shown to her all the years and she remembered the gathering of the others.  She remembered the packing in and smoothing and being laid upon the ground, as something new, something that was created uniquely by those hands.  And oh how she remembered the journey down the mountain - how thrilling and dangerous it had seemed at times but how she would trade it for nothing in this world.  She remembered it all and because she did she was able to look back and see His hands in it all...............

How one tiny snowflake grew into a tremendously large, gloriously made snowball.