Lesson from our tiny teacher: water, prayer, gratitude

This afternoon, in the midst of playing, our 23 month old stopped and asked me to pray before she drank her water.

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As a result of this simple request, so many thoughts flooded my mind.

I thought of what a gift it is to know that the water she’s about to drink won’t make her sick.

The fact that her “dirty” bath water from last night is much cleaner than what most of the kids in the world will drink today.

And I thought about the reality that we’d all die much sooner without water than food…yet, we bow our heads in thanks for food much more often than for a simple glass of water. Hmm.

Thankful for our tiny teacher. ‚̧

5 reflections on 2016 & hopes for 2017

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This blog was started in 2016. In addition to the blog; twitter, instagram, and a fb page were created. I gave them all a trial and will be keeping active on instagram & fb and hopefully write more in 2017 on this blog! It was mostly me (R) writing and posting in 2016…maybe D will join me more in 2017. One can dream ūüôā

As I begin to briefly reflect on 2016, I will share the following. I recently read my FB Memories from years past re: my new years reflections. Year after year, I wrote something to the effect of the previous year having its share of really difficult moments & good ones. I guess the saying from Ecclesiastes is true: there’s nothing new under the sun. With that said, I’ll pause to reflect on 2016 and offer some hopes for 2017.

2016

2016 certainly had a theme of loss. While we felt peace about our decision to resign from our church, I mourned the loss of those relationships in 2016. We also said good-bye to our dog, Mowgli, and our cat, Storm in 2016. I miss them.

2016 had a theme of personal growth, too. It wasn’t until the end of 2016 that I realized something: I grew a lot this year in the areas of grace and forgiveness. In 2016, I purposed to “feel all the feels” as well as to let go. Being hurt but not growing bitter is hard work! This could be a whole other blog post. Suffice it to say, I’m entering 2017 feeling light and free.

2016 was a year of growth as a couple. We grew in emotional intimacy and spiritually. We prayed more together in 2016 than ever before.

2016 was the year that I grew closer to my co-workers than ever before. I don’t know why this is. I wonder if my heavy church commitments (being married to a pastor & serving in my own way(s) in the church), caused me to be “less available” when at work. I know that I used to use my breaks at work to do church related things (like update the church fb page, read a book for book club, etc). It could also be the fact that several co-workers have gone through super stressful times this year and it’s more natural for me to “show up” for that than to do small talk. For whatever reason, I’m thankful for new and deepening friendships outside of church walls in 2016.

2016 had us feeling tired & so happy as we watched out daughter grow from a baby to a toddler. We feel tremendously blessed that dad was able to stay home with our girl from summer 2016 onward.

2017

2017 will be the year that we plug into our new church. We visited over a dozen churches in our area in 2016. We are praying about where to put down roots. I am so looking forward to having a church family in 2017!

2017 may bring us closer to discerning what’s next for us in pastoral ministry. Or not. We’ll see! The key is to remain open to whatever comes next. And to also enjoy the season that we are in (we are enjoying it!).

2017 is a great time to do all the new years resolution type things: lose weight. eat healthier. purge items from home. work on projects. read more. travel. I would like all of these! But most of all, I desire to grow in relationship with others this year. Family, friends, co-workers, church goers, strangers, etc. To make time even when you think you don’t have any time.¬† If I spend more time with people, if I’m more present with people, if I’m more vulnerable with people, and if my “people time” decreases online and increases in other ways, 2017 will be a success.

Do you have reflections on 2016 & hopes for 2017 that you’d be willing to share? I’d love to hear them! Truly.

Love,
– R.

when dad stays home

As a couple, we view parenthood as a joint adventure. We are both in the game in every way. For the first year of our daughter’s life, I stayed home on mat leave (Canada rocks!). Now I’m the one working full-time while dad stays home.

At this time, Dad has been the stay-at-home parent for two months now.  Over the last several weeks, the following has been said to him:

How are you liking retirement?

You can’t be staying home, you’ll go crazy!

There are things said to stay-at-home dads that don’t seem to be said to stay-at-home moms. Being a stay-at-home parent is a real, full-time job (I don’t think it’s quite like retirement??). While you DO feel like you’ll go crazy at times (teething, tantrums, etc) it’s also filled with moments of fun and laughter. Some days are tough. Some days are great.

While the day-to-day is similar whether mom or dad stays home, misunderstandings for dad abound. Even after Derek explains that his full-time job right now is providing care for our toddler, some are still shocked that he’s actually alone with her for 5 days a week (M-F). And he’s the main one up with our daughter during the night (on week nights). He’s a real stay-at-home parent in every way.

How long will he be the stay-at-home parent for? We don’t know. What we do know is this: it’s important to embrace whatever season of life you find yourself in. And we try to remember that our daughter won’t be like this for long…and we are going to miss this.

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child spacing for 2nd child

The other day at work, I bought hard-boiled eggs from the cafeteria as per usual. This time, the eggs didn’t taste right so after a couple bites, I couldn’t eat anymore. A co-worker asked me about the eggs and then proclaimed, “maybe your pregnant!” I laughed and assured her that I’m not.

And so it begins. I have a 1 year old and I’m back to work after a year long maternity leave. Both of these = people wondering and asking if I’m pregnant with child #2.

While we think that we’d like a 2nd child (maybe?), I don’t feel ready for another pregnancy at this time. Is it even possible to feel ready for another pregnancy while you have a young child to take care of? And to feel ready for another round of newborn sleep deprivation?

I’ve done a little google searching on the topic of child spacing. Seems that many try to space their children close together in the hope that their children will be lifelong friends (while close spacing is no guarantee of this). There are others who intentionally wait until their child is older (3 or more years) so that they can have more 1:1 time with each child. In the different cases, I’ve noticed the following:

  1. almost everyone is happy with their child spacing (very few say they’d do things differently).
  2. there’s pros and cons to every age gap between siblings

I must acknowledge that we don’t always have a choice in child spacing. With that said, what are your thoughts re: ideal child spacing? For those with two or more children, what are the pros and cons of the age gap between your kids? Would you do things differently if there was a next time?

And if there’s any, “one and done” families reading this, please comment. What do you like about it? I’m loving our family of 3. I think it has many positives.

The real reason why having a child is both the hardest & the best thing

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Prior to having a child, I enjoyed hearing from others what having a child is like. I wanted¬† insight into the biggest decision a person can make (that will rock their world as they know it). The most common answer that I received was, “It’s the hardest thing that you will ever do but it’s also the best thing that you will ever do.” Hmm. This response was so vague. It left me confused. Why exactly is it the hardest thing? And why is it also the best thing? I didn’t receive specific answers from anyone.¬† It was like there was a code amongst parents to remain vague and not go into detail¬†re: ¬†why it’s so hard.¬†¬†I did have one person say, “If people knew just how hard it is they would never have kids!” Again, wasn’t helpful.

Now that I’m 10 months into mothering, I’m trying to give an answer as to why being a parent is both the hardest and the best thing. At first, I’d tell you that it’s the hardest thing because you just can’t fully understand how painful the extreme lack of sleep is or how¬†annoying your child’s cry can be¬†(and how they cry for a million reasons you’ll never fully understand). Also, no breaks. Did I mention no breaks? I just sat down to write this post and now I hear her crying…she’s awake from her nap. Parenting never ends. With everything else, you can turn it off/walk away/take a break. Being a mom is 24/7.

But the more I ponder the question “Why is it the hardest and also the best?” I’m forced to dig deeper than just the day-to-day of childcare. For me, I think raising a child is the hardest thing that a person can do because it requires you to model by¬†example what you want your child to¬†do, who you want them to be.

“It was clear from the data that we cannot give our children what we don’t have. Where we are in our journey of living and loving with our whole hearts is a much stronger indicator of parenting success than anything we can learn from how-to books.” – Brene Brown

Truth is, pregnancy and childbirth¬†are hard. Sleep deprivation is hard. Being on 24/7 is hard. But that’s just the hard stuff. The hard AND the best is this: your child gives you the opportunity to be the best version of yourself. An authentic and vulnerable person. A person who sets appropriate & healthy boundaries. A person who loves others with actions and not just words. A person who loves self.¬† A person who lives with their whole heart.

“How much we know and understand ourselves is critically important, but there is something that is even more essential to living a Wholehearted life: loving ourselves.” – Brene Brown

Here’s the truth behind “having a child is both the hardest and the best”…a child gives you a choice: continue living on autopilot, doing the same old, or stop and consider if who you are is exactly who you’d want your child to be. Raising a child is not, “Do as I say, not as I do.”¬† Raising a child is, “monkey see – monkey do.” That, my friends, is hard. But this also can be the best thing that you ever do.

Changes in Isabel in the last 2 weeks

Isabel will be 10 months old next week and in the last couple of weeks she’s been showing us some of her new skills! Blink and you miss it. They can literally change overnight.

  • she’s started to say “da da and dad” in a very soft whisper
  • she sees one of us chewing (gum or food) and she’ll start chewing the air!
  • she¬†has started waving, mostly just the one arm but sometimes both. she’ll wave at us and one time at a restaurant she¬†extended her arm¬†and waved at a stranger.
  • she wants to stand up ALL OF THE TIME. If she can find anything to hold on to, she’s upright.
  • we think that she tried to give Derek a kiss! The last couple of days she’ll just randomly open her mouth and plop it on his nose or cheek. I personally think she’s trying to give kisses.
  • she drank some water out of a regular glass. in the bathtub, anytime we bring the cup to rinse her near her she’s been opening her mouth. so I tried to give her some water out of a glass and she took some (of course, her shirt wore some too, ha!)
  • she’s started to “growl” and she will mimic us if we growl first. she’ll keep is going back and forth. also if we blow raspberries she’ll mimic us right away.

Those are just a few that I wanted to record. It’s fun to see her learn & grow!

 

Cousins

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It makes me sad that our daughter (almost 10 months old) won’t grow up with cousins that are close in age. Both my husband and I grew up with lots of cousins. In particular, we both had a cousin that was a year younger than us that we were super close to. On my husband’s side of the family, Isabel’s closest cousin is 5 years older than her. On my side of the family, there’s no other grandchildren. Most likely, by the time one of my sisters have a baby,¬†Isabel’s new¬†cousin will be 5 years younger than her.

This has got me thinking:¬†are children growing up without cousins more at this time in history than ever before?¬†People are getting married later in life and/or deciding to have children at a later time.¬†Also, many of my friends¬†have one sibling. So if your sister or brother doesn’t have children, your kid won’t have cousins.

Having cousins close in age isn’t a given, it’s a gift. And I know that she’s lucky to have cousins at all! But if I’m being¬†honest, it is a little heartbreaking to know that our daughter won’t have cousins that are close in age.¬†What about you? Does your child have cousins that are close to them in age? Or are you like me, having grown up with cousins super close in age and now realizing that your child won’t have that? As always, love to hear your thoughts!