Desperate

I am enjoying a rare quiet moment in our household. All three of my children are asleep in their beds and it is 1pm. I know it is a blessing, and oh wow, am I grateful! This Easter I decided to buy myself a new book I have been wanting to read since I first heard it was coming out. Written by Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae, Desperate is like a big, deep breath of fresh air for a mama’s heart. I was so happy when Easter finally came and I could crack open my new book.

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I really feel like this book can help you whether you have one child or ten.

We, as moms, are all doing our very best to love our kids and give them the best start we can at life. My greatest desire is that my kids would someday grow to have a relationship with Christ. My hope is that they would know his undying love for them, his mercy and the amazing plans He has in store for them.

As their mother, I am the first Bible they are ever going to read. If Ben and I are loving, patient, kind and merciful with them then they will likely grow up believing that God is all of those things as well. If I am always cranky, nagging and grumbling through our days than how are they supposed to know that the God we serve is good and worthy of the many sacrifices we must make in motherhood.

I cannot give what I don’t have and if I don’t make time for myself, for my marriage and for my relationship with Christ then my tank is always running on empty.

That is why I am desperate. I am desperate for more of Jesus and His truth in my life. I am desperate for babysitters so I can enjoy the company of the amazing man who chose me and moved clear across the world to be with me and raise a family. I am desperate for mama’s night every month when it rolls around, to hear hilarious and wild stories of what is happening under other mama’s roofs and the antics their kids get up to. I am desperate for a latte and a good book or magazine in the quiet of Chapters all by myself every now and again.

I was supposed to go out the other night by myself to get a little head break and I just didn’t want to..which is not like me. I said to Ben, “Why don’t I want to go out tonight?” and he said, “Because at the end of the day it feels like you are just one more person YOU have to take care of. You are taking care of everyone else and you’re exhausted.” BINGO. It’s true. When I put myself last, I have no energy left to take care of anyone. When I make time for a bit of prayer, a shower, a coffee…everything looks different. Less stressful. More enjoyable. More peaceful. And don’t my husband and kids deserve that woman?

God is not a tyrant. He doesn’t want you burning yourself out and being a martyr, taking care of everyone else but yourself. God loves you! and me! Ridiculous, terrible at housekeeping, ungrateful, taking my crazy day out on my husband, bad cook, ME! and YOU! (insert all of your stuff here) YOU! He made us and He wants us to take care of ourselves because seriously? When we don’t take care of our mama selves, we are truly taking care of no one.

All of this to say…I am really enjoying my new book and I think you should read it too! oh, and I’m knitting Oliver some little mittens for next winter. I’m no longer behind on this year’s knitting. I’m on top of next years!

 

January 30th

In two short days it will be February 1st. February means going to visit my lovely sister and her family for a few days to help. It means Abigail is almost 2 years old. It means St. Valentine’s day and the beginning of Lent are just around the corner. Finally, for me, it means that we are slowly but surely putting dark days and cold nights behind us. I really shouldn’t complain. We have had the mildest winter I can ever remember having here, but, I confess.. I still struggle to find joy in the cold, dark days. The days when I really should take the kids outside to play but can’t find the energy or desire to do so.

We have spent a lot of time indoors lately and that has made me notice so many little projects needing doing. I gave my husband a little ‘honey-do’ list this morning and he is off to the shops to get a few odds and sods to get the jobs done. Bless his heart. I think our oven has been without a handle since May(!) I am also contemplating painting the half wall in our dining room with chalkboard paint to create a bit of fun for the girls.

Ben’s work has been an adjustment to be sure, but we are seeing the benefits of that work. Not only his work, but his environment. The food we eat as a family is changing in the way I always hoped it would, but that is a story for another day.

In the meantime, I am knitting, drinking a good many hot drinks and dreaming about holding sweet Rose and drinking in that sweet smell of a new baby.

What are you doing to keep the winter blues at bay? What are you looking towards in the weeks to come to keep you smiling?

A Quiet Christmas

We had a very quiet Christmas this year. The girls got up around 7am with squeals of delight that continued all the way up the stairs to see what ‘Pere Noel’ had brought them.

They were each given legwarmers knit by me, new art supplies, a little baby doll and the Winnie the Pooh movie that came out last year. We really wanted the day to be about simple things to be enjoyed together and it was exactly that. We gave the girls gifts we knew they would actually play with and use and didn’t worry so much about whether they had that face melting shock and awe that most parents strive for.

We spent most of our day in our pajamas sipping hot drinks, eating boxes (!) of chocolate and napping. Sometime mid afternoon we got ourselves dressed and headed over to my mum’s for a lovely Christmas supper. It was great to see everyone (minus my sister and her family who didn’t come up from NB until boxing day) and when the day was done, we went home full and content.

The year 2011 was an interesting one. Abigail turned 1, Ben turned 30, we bought a house, I started to work, Ben was offered his dream job, we both quit our existing jobs and through it all, God held us together in His hands. I don’t know how else we would have done it.

Ben and I didn’t get each other anything for Christmas this year, mostly due to a lack of time  to shop, but the hope and joy that we had to look forward to for the coming year was really all the gift either of us needed. It really was a very merry Christmas.

Advent Surprises

Those of you who have been walking with my family and I for awhile probably know that several months ago, we tried to start our own business. It was Ben’s biggest dream of having his very own local, sustainable butcher shop with grass fed and/or organic meats. After a lot of meetings with banks and investors we kept hitting the same wall over and over again of not having any of our own money to invest. Everyone we spoke to thought it was a brilliant idea but we just didn’t have what was needed to get it going. Though highly profitable, it is very expensive to set up.

Ben struggled daily to go to work, feeling as though there was no hope and that he would be stuck forever working in a job that he was already at the top of. God really pressed into him and asked Ben for total faithfulness, and to trust that He had a plan that would be revealed in His own time. It took a lot of tears and prayers but we got there. Ben found new joy in his work and held his head high as he put himself back into the swing of things. Fast forward a few months where I decided to make my consecration to Jesus through Mary. If you read my last post and the comments below it you will see that my friend Jenna said the following,

“I have been told by many people that soon after they do, Our Lady changes their life dramatically. Like, as in, friends of mine figured out what their vocation was soon after, or big prayer intentions they had been carrying for a long time were answered, and so on. So I am excited to see what amazing things she will do for you!”

Imagine my total joy when the day following my consecration, Ben received an email from the owner of the local, grass fed meats butcher shop at the Halifax Seaport Farmer’s Market. He asked if Ben would mind contacting him to discuss something. That something was a job. A very much ‘Ben’s dream job’ job. A job that pays well enough that I have decided to quit my own job at Starbucks.

 It has been a very interesting Advent. Not the one I imagined. In all honesty, my house is a disaster (which is slowly on the mend) and we haven’t lit our wreath the last two weeks because we ran out of matches and actually haven’t had time to get new ones.

Watching my husband be head hunted and hired into a job he is excited about going to everyday has been a real gift to our family already. We will both finish up our jobs at the end of this year and Ben will begin in the first week of the new year at the Getaway Meat Mongers at the waterfront. I have so many feelings about all of this that I don’t know where to begin other than to say, God is good. God is very, very good. (and faithful, and trustworthy, and awesome, etc etc).

I have lots more to share but don’t know that I will be back here before Christmas as I have yet to finish Abigail’s leg warmers or wrap any gifts. I hope you all have a lovely Christmas with your families and friends and that God blesses you with a peaceful and hopeful heart!!

Mary and Joseph

I watched the movie The Nativity Story last night. It is by far my favorite Advent/Christmas movie and I try not to watch it throughout the year so that it feels new again when I watch it during Advent.
There is no real way of knowing the conversations that might have been had between Mary and her parents, between her and Joseph. But this movie shows what I think could have been real conversations. They talk about things that most soon to be parents discuss – “Are you scared?” “Yes I am” “Me too” “I wonder if I will even be able to teach him anything.”
One of my very favorite parts of the movie is when Mary and Joseph are journeying to Bethlehem and on the way; Mary sees that her husband is starting to get tired. He’s been feeding their donkey instead of himself, his feet are blistered and dirty, his legs aren’t walking as strongly as they were when the journey began. They are sitting by the river and Mary removes his shoes and begins to wash his feet while he is asleep. She says, “My child, you will have a good man to raise you – a man who will give of himself before anyone else.” Let’s not forget that Mary was probably almost 9 months pregnant at this point and probably not feeling the greatest either. She had been riding a donkey for days and probably not eating very much food since they were travelling and I’m pretty sure there were no Wendy’s along the way. She still finds it in herself, despite how she is feeling to reach out and love her husband. It may be a small offering of love, but those small acts of love are what carry us from day to day in a marriage, aren’t they?
Later in the movie they are in a marketplace and a fortune teller says to Joseph, “to see yourself in a young face there is no greater joy” and you instantly see the look of sadness wash over Joseph. Mary could have just ignored it and moved on, but she takes him by the hand to show him her love and loyalty. Joseph may not be the Father of her baby but he will be the one to help her raise Him. Again she shows us another way of loving our own husbands. There will be times of sadness for our men, whether they are far from family, having difficulty at work or finding work, have lost a family member or may be feeling the overwhelming responsibility of balancing their work, wife and children while still finding time for them. We, as wives, can offer small gestures of kindness to show our support and love, no matter how tired we are. It could be taking a bit of extra time to prepare a supper that you know he really loves. It could be going to a movie and letting him choose what you will see, even if it is 2 hours of things and people getting blown up. It could be giving him a massage or it may just be holding his hand for a few minutes so that he knows you are right there with him.
God created Eve to be Adam’s ‘helpful partner’. His ‘help meet’. I think we focus completely on the help meet part and usually forget the ‘his’ part. Let me explain. If God has called me to be Ben’s companion then my companionship will suit Ben specifically. I would not be a good companion to your husband, because I am not his wife. As Ben’s wife, I truly believe that God has and will continue to bless me with the graces that I need to be a good wife to Ben, tending to his heart, his interests, and his needs.
The other thing I noticed in the movie is that many of the ways Mary chooses to show Joseph her love are physical. She washes his feet, takes him by the hand, lets him help her up and down from the donkey, and holds his face in her hand when they are watching Jesus in the manger. We never see them kiss but yet she finds a way to feed his heart with her affections. I know this is something I can work on. After being with Lucy and Abigail all day, nursing, hugging, kissing, carrying and playing with my girls, I sometimes feel touched out. I know in the past that this has hurt my husband, who, well intentioned was just trying to give me a hug or a simple kiss and I cringed at his touch. I hated feeling that way just as much as he hated how it made him feel. Have you ever felt this way after a long day at home with the kids? Marriage can be hard sometimes, eh? I give, give, give all day to these beautiful little people who need me, and then comes home this gorgeous man who wants me and I feel totally empty and unworthy of what I have left to give him. Enter God’s grace. Just when I feel like I can’t give anymore and don’t want to, Ben will do the kindest thing for me and it helps me to open my heart just that little bit so that God’s grace can get in there. The way God loves me through my husband always makes me want to love more.
I know it is only a movie, but this particular movie has helped me to contemplate the relationship between Mary and Joseph in a much deeper way. We are so very blessed that God chose Joseph and Mary to model marriage for us. What a pure and selfless example of love we have in these two people who were simple and poor but oh, so faithful.

The girls and I are staying with my mum for the next few nights and I will be happy to have some company on Christmas morning. I will be back here sometime after Ben gets back I imagine. From our little family to yours, we wish you a very blessed and happy Christmas. I know what you’re all getting for Christmas, and trust me, He’s AWESOME.

Date Your Husband

I remember the feelings I used to get when I was still dating/courting my husband. The butterflies, the excitement of waiting for him to pick me up for a date, the anticipation, the joy of having him all to myself…

Now fast forward a few years, and a few babies later. We have a busy household. We are in a season of family life that doesn’t leave much room for husband & wife time. Ben works four nights of the week at a part time job, on top of working his full time job. Between caring for the girls, caring for our home, and caring for myself, it is so easy to lose my husband in the shuffle. The girls need me all of the time, in such an immediate, tangible way, that I often don’t notice the small ways Ben needs my support, affection and attention at times. Enter Date Night. Yes, you read that rightly. I said Date Night. We will have been married for four years this December, and we are still dating.

When Lucy was about three months old, Ben and I talked about it, and both agreed that it felt like years since we had had a single conversation that didn’t revolve around her. It felt like years since we had been just ‘Ben and Katie’ or had any time alone together. We were afraid that if we continued in that way, we would wake up in ten years and not know one another at all. This was only after three months! We quickly decided that in order to keep a strong and romance filled marriage, we would have to start organizing set date nights a few times a month. Sometimes we stayed home and did something, other times we went out for the evening. We put it into our calendar and took turns organizing the night. We even went so far as to put money aside in our budget for our date nights.

I believe that a family is as strong as the marriage holding it together (with God’s help, of course). I also believe that the greatest gift we can give our children is a strong relationship with our spouse. Our children watch everything we do..why would we think they don’t notice how we interact with our spouse? I really, really dislike the idea of putting our children before our husbands. Of course we need to tend to the little ones needs, after all, they are people that God has entrusted to our care. But this doesn’t mean that our husbands should have to sit on the side lines until our children are completely self sufficient. I truly believe that if we value our marriages, it means we will set aside time alone together without the kids. So, to help you get the ball rolling if you aren’t already doing this, here are some steps to making date night happen.

Put it on your calendar – in pen. No excuses. Establish a date night that works for you, and then choose which date nights will be spent at home doing something fun and which will be spent out.

Get a babysitter – ask a family member, a teenager, do a monthly babysitting swap with another couple so you don’t have to fork out big bucks for a sitter.

Put money aside in your budget – money can be tight, so decide how much you can afford and feel good about it. This is an investment in your marriage. It could be $10-$100/month..whatever you’re comfortable with.

Make a list – two if you want..ideas for staying in, ideas for going out. That means you won’t get in the rut of doing the same thing every time.

Make an effort – Have a shower, put on something that makes you feel sexy. Ben defines ‘sexy’ as beautiful and mysterious, which is a relief to me! You don’t have to and probably won’t look like a runway model, but hey, your husband knew you didn’t look like one when he married you so he’s probably not expecting it of you a few kids later 😉 I like to wear dangly earrings since I can’t wear them without my baby trying to rip them out during the day.

Just do it – Put your big girl panties on and leave your kids at home. I know this is easier said than done..I still find it hard sometimes. But they will probably be in bed anyway. Bring your cell phone with you in case of emergencies if it puts you at ease. If they are awake when you leave, they will get over it. You need to spend time with their dad, and they need to know that their parents love each other enough to make time for their relationship. Especially for stay at home moms, it is vital that we leave the house from time to time, to leave our ‘home bubble’ and see what’s going on out in the world. (If you have a little one who’s still breastfeeding, decide if they are old enough to stay home or need to come with you)

We are moms, it’s true. But we are also wives and women. We each need and deserve a chance to put non-stretchy pants and perfume on. We deserve a glass of wine and a night out from time to time. We need time alone with our husbands to connect, laugh, flirt and make love.

I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day I am tired. Sometimes it’s date night, and all I really want to do is get into my pyjamas, sit on the couch and eat an irresponsibly large bowl of ice cream. But never ever do I regret it when I choose to do my hair, makeup and put on an outfit that makes my man say, Amen! Do yourselves a favor ladies, and Date. Your. Husband!

The truth is, if we don’t make our marriage a priority..no one else will. When our children are grown and moved on, we will be alone with our spouses. If we make the time now to invest in our marriages and keep the flame strong through this oh so busy time of life, it will be easier to carry the torch as our children get older. Establish a date night and show your kids how they can someday have a strong, loving, marriage just like their parents.

If you have any fun date ideas please share them in the comments..we’re always open to new things to do as I’m sure most of you are.

a new season

Autumn is my absolute favorite season. The crisp air, the amazing colours, the slowing down and settling in feeling that I get. The smells of delicious baking, the many many cups of hot drinks, the warmth of wearing your pyjamas straight after supper and enjoying the hibernation. I’m thankful for this particular change of season because things are changing in my heart.

I feel as though I’ve been coasting for quite some time now. Having a newborn can make a mother feel like all she has time for are her children. And sometimes, that is true, and it is good and right, especially in that season in our lives. But what about when our newborns become 6 month olds? and 1 year olds? and can you even believe it, adults?? It is so hard to maintain the bigger picture of what we are trying to achieve as mothers. Are we just free floating from baby to baby and thinking that we will eventually get around to being the moms we want to be? that personal prayer will eventually happen and we will get around to getting our households in order? I have felt that way often and have let that voice inside my head, the one that feeds me lies tell me that I’m right..I’ll never get it together, heck, I’ll barely make it through the day. Enough, I say. Enough. I’ve decided to get right with God for my own sake, for my marriage, for my girls and for our home.

The biggest thing this has required from me was honesty.

~Honesty about the way I spend my days. Honesty about what works for us as a family and what doesn’t.

~Honesty about how much television we were really watching in the run of a day. This has inspired us to completely cancel our cable as of this Friday at which point we will be unplugging the TV and hiding it away so that it is no longer the insane distraction that it had become. We will still be able to watch videos on our computer from time to time.

~Honesty in myself about how much time I was really spending on useless things like Facebook and blogs that I would happen upon, only to read them and forget what I had read entirely.

~Honesty in our marriage about how we had let our date nights slip away because of a hectic work schedule. We are now doing babysitting swapping with another couple on a monthly basis so we can go out for an evening without paying a babysitter.

~Honesty about that fact that despite my best efforts, I had pretty much given up my personal prayer and was not putting in the time it takes to maintain my primary relationship. Oh, and the fact that I haven’t been to reconciliation for a scary long time.

This honesty has brought about in me a desire for accountability, friendship, prayer, and a new focus for our family. My living daily for Christ had turned into simply getting by from day to day…and I was burnt out. It had become difficult to give myself over to the task of our raising our girls because I was never content with the amount of personal time I was getting.

Turning things around in our lives is not easy. It requires us not only to do the necessary tasks, but to put our hearts into it. Life felt like it had become that movie, Groundhog Day were no matter what you do, everything is the exact same as the day before. Then something happened. My heart decided that it was ready to open up again. It was my own little mini conversion. Through a combination of this, this, this and this things are looking up.

I am getting up at 6am most mornings now. I make my bed, brush my hair, get dressed and come out to the living room and sit in my rocking chair to pray. I read my personal mission statement, I sing a few songs of praise and I read scripture and journal. Some days I get 15 minutes before my girls are up, some days more. Either way, I am making my personal prayer a priority. If I want our children to care about their relationship with God, than I need to keep mine going!

Getting rid of our TV is going to be major for me. Major. Especially with the weather cooling down and us being inside more. I never intended for it to become so used in our home. We never even had one set up when we were first married. Slowly over time, I have used it as a filler for when I was nursing Abigail for an extended period of time, or needing 5 minutes of peace to myself or to get dinner going. It is a crutch that our family will have to live without. The first few days will surely be an adjustment and I am banking on it, but there are other things to do. I’m hoping to spend more time doing fun crafty things with Lucy. And I’ve started reading again, sewing, baking more and my mama soul is feeling refreshed. I’m beginning to feel like I am more than a mama..I am also Katie. I have no interest in being the 18 year old version of myself anymore, I’ll happily settle for the 26 year old version..she is much more my pace. I’m finally taking the time to do the things that make my heart sing. I hope you are too.