As I walk quickly through the kitchen I ask you to grab your back pack and throw the lunch in it that I had just made you, so you would be completely ready to go. I tell you that I just have to get myself ready really quick and then we’ll load up. A few minutes later you skip into my bathroom and go “wow, mom! You get ready so fast!” Without even realizing it my mind instantly replays the entire morning. It replays getting you ready and combing your hair, getting your lunch made, answering some work e-mails, changing diapers, getting the boy’s room picked up and both of them dressed and then making my way back across the house quickly to go throw clothes on myself. I replay grabbing the easiest dress and sandals I can find and throwing them on. I replay looking in the mirror and realizing I don’t have the time to fix my hair so I just grab the head wrap I had on the day before and put it on again. Then throw some deodorant on and accept that I am as ready as it’s going to get. When you came skipping in I had just glanced at my two day old make-up and pasty face and thought about the days I used to leave for work every morning completely put together. The days I used to shower on a daily basis, do my make up on a daily basis, and actually feel attractive on a regular basis. But as I replay all these thoughts I realize it is part of the beauty of motherhood. As challenging as it is at times, you learn to rid yourself of selfishness and give yourself fully to others. Your family’s needs become your highest priority and you learn to manage your own needs around theirs. If I’ve learned anything over the past 5 years, it’s that there is no room for selfishness in parenting or in marriage for that fact. I know the time will come that there will be time for “me” again, but for now, accepting, and even enjoying, this stage in life keeps me going. It’s definitely a learning process that I’m sure continues through all your parenting years.
As I’m sitting here at my computer working, baby in my lap, and watching my two oldest children playing happily together outside, I’m having one of those moments that I wish I could stop time and freeze this moment in my memory forever. As they chase each other across the yard with buckets on their heads and making siren sounds, I think about the fact that my daughter goes to school next year and that my middle son is going to be lost without his partner in crime. I feel my throat tighten and my eyes water at the thought of this. Some days are pure chaos in our house. Many days end without having had the chance to catch our breath and then the next day starts while we’re still winded. Sometimes this goes on for days, sometimes weeks. Some days I wish for nothing more than calm to rush through our house. I long for the days that night would come and I could climb into bed and snuggle with my husband while the cares of life melted away and no responsibilities flashed through my thoughts. But then I remind myself that this beautiful chaos isn’t going to last forever. This is the last year I am going to get to enjoy having all three of my kids home with me. This is the last year that my middle child will have his best friend with him to play all day. This is the last year that I’ll ever have a baby under one. As each year passes, more and more memories and stages of life fade into the past where they will stay infinitely, never to be relived. I remind myself of this constantly.
The nights Ryan are gone (which are quite a few these days) are usually the most chaotic. They consist of putting the two older ones to bed with a baby in tow. Some nights baby boy cries throughout the process. On those nights I find myself hurrying as fast as I can to get everyone ready and in bed, and after I shut the last door relief rushes over me as I am then able to tend to Cason’s needs and curb his cries. There are also some nights that he’s happy and sits there as we all read books, talk about random things, and pray. Those are the best nights. The ones that memories are made of. After this I move on to straightening and getting the house ready for another day of dirtying, and then doing my night time chores. I then move on to making Ryan’s lunch for the next day and Kinsley’s also for the two days she has her morning pre-k class. Next I struggle for an hour or two to get my little sleep fighter to sleep while simultaneously handing out additional kisses and hugs to Kinsley and shooing her back to bed numerous times. Finally I settle in to do the rest of my work that I didn’t have time to do during the day. Then I fall into bed around 11:00-midnight only to feel like my eyes have just closed when baby boy wakes up for one of his nighttime feedings. But as I sit there nursing my littlest one, exhausted and eyes half open, the little voice comes alive in my head. The one that has visited me constantly since becoming a parent 4 1/2 years ago. It begs for me to not wish these moments away. It encourages me to soak it in and to remember that these moments are going to be over before I realize it, and once they’re gone, they’re gone forever. Time stops for no one. You either keep sprinting to keep up, or you’ll be left behind with life’s responsibilities piling on top of you. You’ll have pictures, but pictures don’t capture the emotions of the person behind the camera. That’s what saddens me the most. The emotions, the love, the proud feelings, are all archived with the pictures. Except you forget about those specific feelings. You can’t take a picture of them to save them to relive some distant day in the future while reminiscing. I remember times when my oldest, Kinsley, was a baby. I would look at her in awe, completely smitten, and wish to never forget that moment. Those moments fade though, and so do their memories. Before you know it that little baby girl is a sassy, spunky, energetic 4 year old and memories of baby Kinsley are overshadowed with 4 year old Kinsley. Those baby memories seem like a lifetime ago now that they have been mixed in with memories of two more babies and a 4 year distance in time.
So what is the secret to happiness and survival throughout the rough of parenting young children? For me, it is realizing that everything is a stage and will pass before you know it. The sleepless nights will end. The child will be potty trained. The frustrations of them not being able to communicate will end. They will learn to tell you they have to go to the bathroom BEFORE you’re in the car and pulling out. They will be able to feed themselves. They will be able to get themselves ready and put themselves to bed. They will be able to play in the morning and let you sleep in. They wont need you like they once did. It will happen, and it will happen quickly. When it does, I know I’ll miss the days that I was needed. I’ll miss being in the rough of raising young children.
This is what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me happy. It’s what keeps me fulfilled. My job may not be glamorous, but I’ve got precious little souls that need me and an amazing husband by my side through it all. I love this beautiful chaos that I call my life.
Alright, I’m climbing up on a soapbox today, but I promise I won’t stay here long. ; )
It seems like almost every week I stumble across an article written by someone claiming that they have a messy home because their kids are too busy being “happy” and “having fun.” These articles spread like wildfire on facebook. It’s a bandwagon so many are quick to jump on because it sounds good and it makes you feel good- unless you have a clean home. A few quotes that most everyone has probably heard are: “messy homes mean happy kids”, “my house is messy because I’m busy playing with my kids”, or “Our home is messy because we are too busy making memories.” Lately there have been a slew of articles flying around insinuating that if you have a clean home, your children are being ignored or are being deprived of having a fun childhood. Today I stumbled across this article (which is what started my rant. Ha): http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/parenting/wp/2014/07/21/i-blamed-my-wife-for-our-messy-house-i-was-wrong-for-many-reasons/. The following quote is one of the statements that really got me, “I’d rather not be that mom who ignores our kids, and myself, because I’m so busy worrying about what the neighbors might think of our messy house.”
I want to start by saying that whether you keep a spotless house, a pig sty, or somewhere in between- it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not trying to persuade anyone either way. It’s your house and and you and your family are the ones that need to be content and happy with it. I’m not here to judge anyone’s house or home-keeping abilities, it just seems like statements like the ones made in the above article are being thrown around often, and it is degrading to those of us who work hard to keep a clean house. Making it sound like moms with clean homes sacrifice their children’s happiness and “ignore” them so they can live in a clean home. My house is not spotless, but it is most always clean. If it’s not clean, it’s about 5 min away from being clean. I don’t enjoy cleaning by any means, but I am happier in a clean house. In fact, I feel like I’m losing my grasp on my house and life when I start getting behind on my household duties. I just can’t do clutter. It makes me feel like I’m slowly being suffocated. It’s just my personality- I can’t help that. I also feel a strong responsibility to Ryan. I feel guilty when he gets home and I haven’t had time to pick up the playroom or if the kitchen is messy from me and the kids cooking or just from a busy day. As a middle school principal Ryan gets his fair share of chaos. It’s not something I want him to always have to come home to too. Some days it is unavoidable and some days with little kids ARE sheer chaos, but I try to control it as much as I can.
With that said, here are a few reasons why I have a clean house AND happy kids, and why it is important to me. : )
1. Sometimes my kids help me clean and I think it’s good for them. No, they don’t do a very good job. Yes, it usually takes twice as long. This morning Easton helped me sort his and Kinsley’s clean laundry so I could take it to the room it belonged in. It did take longer, but it was so fun to see him running back and forth between the two baskets figuring out where the clothes needed to go. Then we all went to the rooms the clothes belonged in and I put them away while the kids played. Sometimes Kinsley sweeps up messes under the kitchen table after they eat, and she’s pretty good at it! In fact the other night Ryan was gone and I had gotten the kids their food and then ran to the bathroom while they were eating. Easton decided to dump his rice and quinoa all over the floor and when I came back into the kitchen Kinsley had grabbed the broom and swept most of it into a pile and said “See mom, look what I did for you!” How awesome is that? They also help me pick up the play room when we’re done playing, and now Kinsley is at the age that she can pick up her own room and put the stuff where it actually goes. As any parent knows, it is not possible to always include the kids in the household cleaning, but I do when I can because I feel like it is important for them to learn to clean up after themselves. I realize doing chores together is not the same as just sitting down and reading or playing blocks with them, but we do plenty of that too.
2. Sometimes my kids help me cook. Sometimes we make things specifically for them so they can be involved such as cookies and church bread, and then other times I let them help me cook so that I can get things done that I need to. The other day we ran out of our breakfast granola bars and peanut butter oatmeal balls and the kids “helped” me make more. It gets messy, but they have fun mixing and stirring and it is a learning experience. It does take longer and there is a bigger mess to clean up when we’re done, but I get to do things that I need to get done and they get to help and be involved. The thing I like best about letting them help is that they are not in other rooms trashing them while I am doing something completely different. At least it consolidates the mess so it’s easier to clean up. ; )
3. My kids DO get to make messes and have fun even though I keep a clean house. I work hard for my clean house and I do not feel like I spend any less time with my kids to have it. In fact, I usually work “overtime” to keep it clean. I clean on and off all day long because I clean as I go. We eat breakfast, we clean it up. We trash the playroom playing, we clean it up. We make cookies, we clean up the mess. The kids go outside and get filthy playing in the yard, we clean them up. That may sound exhausting to some, but it’s a priority to me. Also, since I clean as we go throughout the day when the end of the day hits, I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do still have chores once the kids go down, but not near as much as I would have to do had I not cleaned as we went during the day. If you’re lucky like me, you have a husband who often helps on these last chores for the day. For some this type of schedule might seem ridiculous. I mean, you’re just gonna get it dirty again the next day, right? Yep. You’re right, you will. But at least I get to start the next day with a clean slate.
4. I have little eyes on me. Even though she is only 3 years old, right now I am in the beginning stages of teaching my daughter how to be a home keeper, wife, and mother. She partially learns this from me and my actions, and to me that is a big responsibility. One I often feel like I am failing at. It is a heavy weight on my shoulders knowing that I have little eyes constantly on me, and that my actions are helping to form and shape who they are becoming.
As mothers and fathers we ALL have weaknesses and areas that we waste time that we’ll never get back. Maybe it’s facebook, pinterest, or tv. Maybe it’s long showers, naps, lounging around, or reading books and articles. It doesn’t matter what it is, the point is that there is no possible way that every free minute that a mom could be cleaning is spent playing with her children, nor should it be that way. Trying to say that one spends all day playing with their kids instead of doing other things (like a quote in the article above insinuates) is completely absurd. Our children are capable of and should learn to entertain themselves also. It is important to spend time with them, to read to them, to teach them new things, and to play with them, but it is not feasible for that to take place all day long. For some reason we as mothers feel like we need to constantly justify our actions. It is OKAY and necessary to spend time on ourselves. It is OKAY to choose to take a shower instead of cleaning up the mess from lunch. It is OKAY to lay down and read during the kids naps instead of cleaning the bathrooms. It’s okay.
Alright, Kinsley just came sprinting out of her room from her nap. Guess I’ll be cutting this rant off abruptly. I’ll leave you with a picture of my special little “helpers.”
This was probably the most nerve-wracking cake I’ve done. I mean seriously, you don’t want to bomb someone’s wedding cake. They will have pictures of it to look at for the rest of their lives. Eeek.
The first thing I did to prepare for Michelle’s cake was that I practiced the technique that makes buttercream as smooth as fondant. I made several cakes with this technique and became comfortable with it. My comfort zone before beginning to prepare for Michelle’s cake was definitely with fondant. It’s much more forgiving than buttercream. I made several cakes practicing this butter cream smoothing tutorial and then followed it to do Michelle’s cake as well.
The next thing that I focused on was the cascading flower. I’ve worked with gum paste several times, but I had never made a flower with it, so I did A LOT of practicing. I focused mainly on this tutorial after trying a few others that didn’t work as well for me: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/116671446571231810/ The only thing I did differently was that I didn’t use the ball tool. I found that one of the other gumpaste tools worked better to thin out the edges of the leaves.
This was also my first time to do a butter cream cake without some sort of border around the bottom of each layer. When I iced the cakes I was careful to get the bottom as level and even as possible, and then after I stacked and doweled the cake, I just filled in and smoothed around the bottom of each layer as needed. It was much easier than I had anticipated.
The only thing I absolutely WAS NOT HAPPY WITH at all was the color of the “mint green.” After battling two sick kids all day I was in a rush to get the frosting mixed and on the cake that night. It was already getting super late and so instead of hand mixing my own mint green or playing with the mint green I had and adding my own stuff, I just trusted the bottle and used it. It turned out very not minty. FYI, Ameri color mint green DOES NOT look like mint green. I wish I would have played with adding a little blue in or something else. It definitely needed something. I wanted to practice mixing the color ahead of time, but I had been so busy running from project to project in the weeks before the wedding, that I just hadn’t had time. I like to work out my mistakes before they end up on a cake, unfortunately that didn’t happen this time. Despite this mishap, hopefully Michelle liked and appreciated the cake anyway!
Here it is:
SOOOOO …. when I did Kinsley’s birthday cake with ruffles … I really just wanted to practice them so I’d be confident to do them on Kristin’s cake. Kristin wanted butter cream icing, so I did the same ruffle style that I did on Kinsley’s cake. Butter cream icing is sooo yummy, but there aren’t near as many decorative options as you have with fondant. Krisitin’s cake was sweet and simple.