Wednesday, August 27, 2014

WHY-Wednesday: Why I signed my kids up for Mother's Day Out.

The kids' first day of MDO.


Why did I sign my kids up for Mother's Day Out one day a week?

I did not do it because I thought they needed to socially interact with other kids (they get plenty of that elsewhere).
I did not do it because I thought they needed to learn certain skills I couldn't teach them myself.
I did not do it because I needed childcare so I could work to make money.
(All of these are good and valid reason.  They just weren't my reasons).

You see, something happened a few weeks ago--
I broke!

I crumbled into so many little pieces, that crying for no reason in particular became an everyday thing.
"So how was your day today?" asks the hubby after a long day at work.
"well... I cried twice today" I would say, as if sharing the day's weather or something.

Next thing I know, I've landed at the doctor's office, seeking for answers...
am I depressed?
do I need medication?
why am I acting like this?

Long story short-- I am not depressed!
I am not. 

But a lot is going on, and I need to begin to slooooooww doooowwwn.

The doctor who saw me (who I love and respect very much) listened, talked and prayed with me.

"Lauren, we will run the tests.  We will make sure.  But my gut feeling is that it will all come back OK"-- she said.

And she was right.
It all came back OK.

She said--

"This is what you need--
you need regular dates with the hubby,
you need friends,
and you need time for yourself.
All of this will be cheaper than any medication I can give you.
And if after this you still feel sad, then we can talk again."

So we've done some rearranging.  
I've changed the way I do some things.
And I've signed my kids up for MDO.

I have not cried for no particular reason since.

***

So why did I sign my kids up for MDO?
Doctor's orders :)

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Three years of motherhood

She not only wears different shoes, she wears each one on the wrong foot.
 
I've been a mom for three years.  Wow!  It feels like it's been much longer.  

People say the years go by fast, and in a way they do, 
but being a 24/7 full-time mom... 
well... let me tell you something-- the days are long, and so are the years.

I am sure one day I'll wake up and realize they did in fact go by fast, and will wish for these little years to return, but not now... not today.  

Today I find myself repeating this quote I came across some blog a while back:
"I have to stop dreaming of 'one day' when things will be easier.  
Because, the truth is, it may get easier, but it will never be better than today."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

On Byron's one-year mark

Our little man is ONE!


It's been a good year.  I am worn out by the end of every day, but life is good with this fourth little member.

A few things about Little Man--

*  He loves to suck his right index finger.  He also only sucks it when he has Doggie with him, which is normally at nap and bedtime.  I was really nervous at first when he decided he didn't like the paci and preferred the finger, but I have now grown to love his finger-sucking. 

*  As of today, he has two bottom teeth and his top left front tooth.  His top right front tooth is about to break out.

*  He is not a big eater.  We normally only offer him whatever food we are eating, but he usually just throws it on the ground.  We have just recently started disciplining him about throwing food on the floor, and it has gotten better, but still a work in progress.  The only things that he will gladly eat are chips, crackers, and cookies (which of course he doesn't get very often).  On and off, he will eat blueberries, grapes, pear slices, apple slices, pieces of bread, cheese, and apple sauce pouches.

*  He is a talker.  For about a month now, we notice he says words such as papu (Spanish for chip.... *sigh*), dacias (Spanish for thank you), bah (ball), da (for Doggie), ama (I think this one is for mama, Emma and Memma), nigh nigh, bye bye, da da (for daddy).

*  He just started signing for milk.

*  He has just recently started showing more interest in walking.  He can now hold on to one of our hands and walk a few steps before going back down to the ground.  He still cannot stand up alone without holding onto something.

* He loves balls.  He'll spot balls, or even circles, and call out: bah bah

*  He is only taking one nap a day.  Funny thing is that Emma will still take a longer nap than him on most days.

*  He loooooves his mobile.  Babies should outgrow mobiles by the time they are six months-old.  But our boy is a music man.  He loves going to sleep listening and watching his mobile sing and go around for him.  We will sometimes hear the mobile go off during the night (yes, he turns it on and off on his own).  Most mornings I'll know he is up, not because he is calling out for us, but because the mobile is on and we hear him "talking" happily in his crib.  

*  He is now exclusively drinking cows milk, though he hasn't successfully transferred to a sippy cup yet.  We still give most of his milk warmed up and in his bottle.  

*  He suffers from separation anxiety :(  This one is no fun for this mama.  Thankfully, he normally only cries for a few minutes when we drop him off.

*  He loves Big Sister.  They are good friends.  It'll be fun watching that friendship develop through the years.  It is not perfect, of course.  It seems like most often than not Emma is yelling at him for taking her crayons, and he is scratching her face.  But all in all, they are good friends.  They keep an eye out for each other.  Emma especially makes sure he is behaving well and doing what he's supposed to.  They'll play ball together, and chase each other around the house a lot.  Lots of giggles are often involved in this :)

*  He loves the toilet.  If we are not good about putting the lid down or shutting the bathroom door, we will inevitably hear happy splashes, courtesy of our little man.  Emma is now terrified of having Byron in the bathroom with her because of it (odd, I know).  She is actually unable to go potty unless he is shut out of the bathroom, or I am holding him.

WHY-Wednesday: On Ferguson-- why you should care (guest post).

My dear friend Sarah agreed to write a guest post for me this week while I continue enjoying my "break" from blogging.  Sarah is one of the most well-rounded people I know, full of incredibly practical knowledge, who loves and cares for people, and who also loves the Lord.  I consider it an honor that she would even consider me to be one of her friends.

She has kindly poured of herself into this post, spending countless hours of her precious time writing this.  Please take the time to read and share.  

I must confess (much to my shame) that I knew very little over this problem at Ferguson.  I live a very secluded life at home.  Thanks for bringing this to my attention, Sarah!

***

When Lauren asked me last week to write a guest blog post for her, I assumed I would write about something predictable like raising a little foodie or my thrifting lifestyle.  But as the unrest and violence in my city has reached new heights, I decided I needed to blog on #Ferguson.
ferg2.jpg
I’ve had a lot of people call or text asking if we are safe.  The heartbreaking story of Ferguson is literally being reported on every facet of the news media 24 hours a day.Two days ago, there were 7.8 MILLION reported tweets about Ferguson with the number reaching over 10 million today. Our country is consumed by the news story.  Most people--if they are being honest-- have taken a side.  You are either on #handsupdontshoot or you are on #Waittillyougetthefacts. Protestor or a Peacemaker.  White or Black.

I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time thinking about inequality, race, love and respect.  I am not going to pretend like I have the answers or that I fully understand racial tension in America because I know that this issue is bigger than me. However, I do know that as Christians we know that our problem always is sin.

As a Christian, here are some ways I am responding to #Ferguson:

1. First and foremost, I am going to pray. We have a responsibility to pray for “all people” (1 Timothy 2:1), without prejudice.  Desiring God Ministries posted a wonderful prayer suggestion on their website in an article by Phillip (@PhillipMHolmes). Phillip is an itinerant preacher, co-founder and Vice President of the Reformed African American Network:

Pray for Ferguson, Missouri. Pray for peace to be restored in this city. Pray for Michael Brown’s family as they mourn the loss of their loved one. Pray that if they don’t know our Lord Jesus, that they would come to know him through this tragedy. And pray that if they do know Jesus, he would give them peace that surpasses all understanding.

Pray for the officer involved in this shooting. Pray for honesty and justice. Pray that if he doesn’t know Jesus as Lord that God would use this tragedy to save him. Pray that if he is a Christian that the Lord would grant him wisdom as he navigates this process. Pray that God would protect him and his loved ones.

Pray for the church in Ferguson. Pray that they would be a true city on a hill. Pray that they would point the world to the One who, one day soon, will restore justice and peace for all time.

2. Avoid blasting opinions on Social Media. This week has proven to be an incredibly challenging exercise in restraint as I’ve read some inaccurate, harmful and inciting posts by my “friends” on Facebook.  As this NY Times article points out, “You know you can’t win a Twitter fight. You can never win an argument with someone on social media”.   I want to practice engaging not broadcasting.

3. Show gratitude to the men and women serving on the front lines.   I have several friends in St. Louis who have husbands, brothers or dads on the police force.  I can assure you that these families are hurting too.  Just like it is unfair to lump all of the thousands of peaceful protestors in the same category as the dozen or so "thugs" who are using the tragedy surrounding Mike Brown’s passing to commit crimes, it is also unfair to call all cops "dirty" because of a few who have acted unjustly and violently. Many of these men and women providing service to our city live in Ferguson and send their kids to Ferguson schools.  This week, one of my friends told me that she truly fears for her husband’s life every time he walks out the door.

I have made it my mission this week to personally thank every service member that I pass on the street. Two words… “Thank you” ...can make such a difference.  I stopped a young man yesterday at the grocery store to thank him for his service to the city.  He looked confused at first as I could tell it had been a while since anyone told him thanks.   His whole demeanor changed and he seemed so grateful for the kind words.  

Amelia Earhart is famous for saying, “No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves”.

4. I am looking for ways to serve the children. My heart hurts to think of the (more than 11,000) kids who are missing ANOTHER week of school because of the unrest in their community.  Many of these kids depend on their schools for breakfast and lunch and are having to find another way to eat. Experts on childhood trauma and development are concerned that children who are witnessing the nightly protests could have long lingering effects.

There is a new movement to bring attention to the kids in Ferguson on Twitter. The question was asked, "What are you worried about for kids in ferguson?" and people are responding with things like "I am worried about #Kidsin #Ferguson not going to school because of the fighting. For this to gain momentum,  include the # (called a hashtag) before BOTH the words Kidsin and Ferguson.

There is an urgent need in the community for diapers and wipes since parents are unable to safely leave their homes to purchase them.  St. Louis Children’s Hospital is collecting them and will help distribute them to parents in need. Baby blankets and comfort items like stuffed animals and books are also being collected.

I also read about amazing teachers volunteering their time at Public Libraries to help Ferguson students who want to learn despite not having school.  

5. Read things that matter. I had to cut myself off today from all of the flashy headlines.   The Huff Post, NY Times, St Louis Dispatch have all played into my desire to stay up to the minute on this story. My new commitment is to read articles that are enlightening or spark positive change. I put links below to some articles that I’ve personally found stimulating.

** End Note** I recognize that I picked a VERY controversial topic to write about. Please know that this was written in LOVE.  If I have offended you in any way, please send me a private message so that we can start a dialog.


For further reading:



http://www.christianethicstoday.com/cetart/index.cfm?fuseaction=Articles.main&ArtID=417

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Birthday party (part 5)

Emma wanted a crown for her birthday...
so a crown she got :)

And yes, she got a kid's toolbox from her daddy.
She looooves tools, and will often take tools out of her daddy's toolbox and walk around the house "fixing" things.
Well... not anymore!  She has her own tools now.  And to say she loves these tools would be the understatement of the year:)



Little Man got a BAH :)



Gideon and BB had a great time playing with the BAH for a while.


Birthday party (part 4)

I tried my best to capture all the children involved in the party, but anyone who has been around a herd of children for more than five minutes knows this is a near-to-impossible task.

So here is our best try--






Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Birthday party (part 3)

Out at the pool.





Birthday party (part 2)

Emma and I had been talking about this birthday party for months.

Her guest list was originally going to be:

Aaiimss, Z-EE-ke, and Thomas,

but then daddy protested and said Emma had to invite some girls as well.
So the final list ended up being:

Five friends:
Aaaiimsss, Z-EE-ke, Thomas, Cara and Gabbie.

Of course, there were a few more that we invited and who came over, but Emma was fixated on those five, and anytime you would ask her who would come to her party, she would gladly name off those five.

The friends began coming.  The play dough station captured the kids' immediate attention at first.

Zeke and Emma.


Baby Leah.

My man.

A few of "the babies"-- BB, Isaac and Gideon.

Birthday party 2014 (Part 1)

We celebrated the kids' birthday parties last Saturday, August 9.
It threatened to thunderstorm all afternoon, but we were pleasantly surprised with wonderful weather to play and swim outside.

We wanted to keep this year's birthday party small.  So we focused on inviting mostly the children who Emma considers her little friends right now, and who she talks about the most.
Most of these little friends of hers have a younger sibling Baby Byron's age, so it worked out great.

We asked our friends and families with young children to not bring gifts, but we still wanted to have the kids open presents.

Gift table from Mommy and Daddy & grandparents.
We set-up and emergency play dough station for the kids to play at in case it rained.


The cake table.


Mommy made the cakes.
Yellow cake, chocolate frosting, and lost of M&Ms.



Ironically, Emma does not like cake, frosting, or ice cream, but she does like sprinkles.
So I got her some sprinkles to put over her cake and ice cream just for fun.



WHY-Wednesday: Why I encourage awareness of postpartum depression (guest post).

I am taking a two-week break from this self-imposed insanity of pumping out blog posts every week.
So I've asked two friends of mine to do the work for me for a while.

Today Taylor will share a little bit of her experience with Postpartum Depression, and help make awareness of it.  This is a very real issue, and one nobody really knows what to do or how to handle it.

***

I wish I could remember how I met Taylor.  I think she was one of those people who I ran into often enough that we eventually figured we may as well be friends :) 

She is a cloth mama :), a full-time working mom, and a runner.

So I leave you with Taylor...

***

I want to start this entry in saying it is raw, it is my honest open and vulnerable story, spoken only to encourage those in the darkness and raise an awareness of postpartum depression. I am going to attempt to keep this simple but also expose the darkness and the light in the best way possible so hang with me. 

I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a mother of two boys. My oldest is 4 and a half, my youngest is 6 months. You can read the story of the difficulty we faced after my oldest was born on my blog: http://littlebigmiracleoflife.blogspot.com.

The difficulty after his birth did not come in the form of Postpartum Depression (PPD) although I can look back now and see some signs. After my second was born, all was well, everyone was healthy, we were happy. For a while. The first couple of months were great, I was on a high, the third month became a little shaky, but little did I know the fourth month would be the worst. 

A lot happened in that fourth month, I went back to work, different stressors arose, it was an easy excuse to cover up what was really going on. It was also the one thing many, including myself, wanted to rule out before heading down the PPD route. Trying to explain it away and figure it out, or tough it out, it only became worse. I tried counseling, and in the first session with a wonderful Christian counselor, I was encouraged to call my doctor that day. 

In my mind this was admitting defeat, I had failed, but I called. In talking with my doctor, for whom I have the utmost respect and who knows me very well, we ruled out the stress of returning to work and talked about some “defining moments” leading to the diagnosis of PPD. 

This is where it is raw, these are my defining moments that happened over a course of 3 days: On a walk with my dog and my boys in the double stroller, my youngest wouldn’t stop crying, my oldest had been wonderful all day, and the dog’s leash continued to get stuck in the stroller wheel. Over the course of the walk, I screamed profanity, words I rarely scream aloud, screamed at my crying infant, screamed at my well behaved older child, and ultimately took out my anger on my dog by hitting her. At that point, if someone would have handed me a punching bag, I would have gone to town. I hit my dog once, but wanted more. The guilt took over and I began to sob.  Over the next days I had no energy, no desire to eat or drink, I had hit the bottom of my pit. I am also a runner, it is my happy place, my therapy, but it wasn’t working, I didn’t want to go, it didn’t offer a release anymore. 

So yes…I have Postpartum Depression…yes it came around 4 months postpartum…..and yes I am medicated……and still seek counseling twice a month. And yes I am now in a good place, a place where those close to me can easily say I am back to my happy self, my eyes are no longer empty, my joy is returning.  There are still tough moments but they no longer define me. 

Now that you have a brief overview of my story of PPD, let me tell you why I support the awareness of PPD, especially in Christian circles. During the time I was struggling, trying to figure out what was going on, I frequently heard the same comments from very well meaning people, “I am praying for you…..Seek guidance in His word…..He is with you…..” but few wanted to talk about the real darkness, and if they did I felt like we had to talk in code, to hide. 

In speaking with a friend that was very influential in helping me through this, we discussed how Christian circles can be very hard with issues such as depression, it can be a very judgmental arena. To be honest, during my struggle I wanted nothing to do with the Lord, I had no energy, the last thing I wanted to do was go to the Bible and start reading, I was worn, weary in faith, and in a pit of despair. I wanted to be prayed for, but more importantly I wanted to be held and hugged, and understood. I wanted to scream from the hilltops, “I am depressed!” just to let go of the secret. 

But my hard heart and head didn’t want to be labeled weak, I didn’t want to burden others and look like a I wanted a pity party. In the end, the more people I talked to, the more people I shared my secret, the more people told me they shared the same. What a relief it was to know I was not alone. While I do not believe I am anything close to as awesome as Esther in the Bible, I see this story as similar the fact the God’s name wasn’t mentioned or spoken in the book of Esther, yet he was oh so present! His hand was at work even if his name was not spoken in every conversation. So it was over these months for me. I was angry, I was in a time of despair, I didn’t go to him actively, but I knew he was there. 

In my counseling I admitted I lost hope in Him, but he was still there. I look back now and am so confident that he carried me through, even when I didn’t want to speak to him, His light shown in the darkness and it never stopped burning. 

In conclusion, if you are suffering from Postpartum Depression or depression of any kind, please don’t hesitate to speak to someone and if you are scared feel free to e-mail me! I am not going to list off the warning signs or give medical advice, that is easily found online. However, do not be dismayed and do not feel like you have to fit the criteria perfectly, it can hit at different times. We all think of it as coming within the first two months after delivering a child, yet my counselor informed me that the 4 month mark, 6 month mark, and whenever you wean your child when nursing are all trigger points. 

To all of you that may be struggling with any form of depression now, find someone you can confide in, release your secret, you are no less of a person, you are oh so strong and oh so loved. And to those that are on the outside, pray for us, but love us, and love us well by going beyond the prayers and reaching us in our darkness by telling us we are loved, showing us we are loved, and letting us work through our darkness and into the light. 

While I did not find hope in Scripture during some of those darkest days, the words from Hillsongs Oceans played on my phone on repeat. It made me cry the tears I needed to cry, it was the one thing that kept me bound to my Savior. 

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders 
Let me walk upon the waters 
Wherever You would call me 
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander 
And my faith will be made stronger 
In the presence of my Savior 
I will call upon Your name 
Keep my eyes above the waves 
My soul will rest in Your embrace 
I am Yours and You are mine” 

I am His!!!!! 

My e-mail if you want to reach out: 
runninspot@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

WHY-Wednesday: Why I'm not afraid of mangos.

So I thought that for today's post I would write about how to effectively cut a mango without involving half of your kitchen appliances.  

The perfect snack, you might say.
But how do I cut a mango without making such a huge mess?

First off, place the mango vertically over the plate you'll be serving it on.
In my case, it'll be my daughter's plate since she loooooooves mangos, and if it were up to her, she'd eat mangos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The mango has a large seed in the middle, so you are essentially cutting around it.
You'll be slicing the mango in thirds.

So go ahead and cut the first third off.
(A sharp pairing knife is all you'll need for this).



Cut crossing lines without cutting into the skin.


Then pop the mango out like you would an ice tray.


At this point, you can go ahead and just eat it straight off the skin.
But if you have a mango police in your house like I do, and wants to eat it as an after-nap snack, then you'll need to cut it into bite-size pieces and place it on the plate.



Cut the other third off and do the same.

Now you are left with the awkward, lonely middle part.


Peel off the skin and cut the "meat" off in bite-size pieces, working around the seed.



And now your are done.
 Enjoy!

***

PS:
Nothing goes to waste in this house.
Suck every last bit of that over-priced (yet delicious) fruit off the seed.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

WHY-Wednesday: Why I am odd.

I am the person who asks the odd questions without knowing they are odd.

What is a dime?
Who are the Beach Boys? 
and 
Where is Ohio?
(The last two asked just this past month)

These things should be common sense, right?

Wrong.

You see, I am what experts call a Third Culture Kid (TCK).

"A person who was raised in a different culture outside of his/her parents'."

Now please, do not get me confused with a foreigner. 
A TCK is one who is raised in a foreign country, and then brought back "home."
Think of missionary kids or military brats, for example.

Okay, Lauren... so what?

***

Remember that scene from Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan shows up at the Halloween party dressed up as an ugly witch?  

http://media1.giphy.com/media/t6AqqyzcJTc64/200_s.gif

Do you remember why she did that?
Lindsay's movie character had been raised in Africa all of her life.
She then moves back to the States with her parents and is sent to school with other Americans "just like her."
 And gets invited to a Halloween party.

Had she been an African "native," a few kids would have pulled her aside and explained to her:
"Lindsay, Honey... a Halloween party is only an excuse for women to dress up as prostitutes.  Be sure to dress like one."

But she wasn't an African "native,"
she was an American, right?
That's why nobody ever sent her the "memo."
And thus showed up like an ugly witch instead.

She looks American.  She is white.  She speaks English.
Why would she think dressing up as an ugly witch for Halloween appropriate?

(As a contrast to this example, think of Fez from That '70s Show.
Fez is a foreigner, NOT a TCK)

***

Now imagine doing these kinds of things day after day after day.
You are expected to "fit in," but you don't.

You look the part, 
so you are expected to play the part.

This is my story.

A lifetime filled with awkward stares 
and learning American etiquette the hard way.

To enter a gathering, unable to fit in to any conversation because you just "don't get it."

You don't get football.
You don't get dating.
You don't get their "first world" problems.

How can I be part of a food stamp debate,
when food stamps don't even exist in my home country?

When poverty means wearing sandals made out of old tires and rope?

***

The funny thing is that after a while we do fit in.
We are finally Americanized.
We attend our first football game and learn to cheer for it.
We meet a 6'4'' tall, all-American man and fall in love with him... and get married.
And we learn to get excited about our dishwasher finally getting fixed.

***

But an interesting thing happens the day we wake up and realize we fit in...
...we don't want to.

And realize we really never have wanted to.

So we make it a point to be different.

Us Third Culture Kids (unwillingly) make it a point to be odd.
To let everybody know that even though we may look like them, 
we really are not one of them.

We are the ones who have the socially wrong weddings,
or marry the socially wrong people,
or have the socially wrong friends.

***

We are a unique breed.  
But don't treat us differently or any more special.

Just don't be shocked by us
:)