My brain is nesting.

Lately I’ve been re-energized and refreshed as a mama.   This hardly means that our days are always smooth sailing or that I’m calm and patient all the time.  Let’s just clear that up right away.  It probably doesn’t hurt that I’ve stumbled across some great reads that have not only encouraged me, but given me some fresh perspective.  Or that I’m finally putting some things that I’ve long known about my children and myself as a mother into action:

We thrive on routine.  We need lots of margin.  However, life gets busy and some days our schedule is jam-packed.  I need to just get over this, and set a positive tone as we bounce from one activity to another because they always, always take their cues from me.  However, as the mama I also have the privilege of protecting our down-time.  Yes, it’s hard to say no to so many *good* activities but it’s necessary for our crew.  The best way to *fill-up* and show my kiddos love includes reading lots of stories, snuggles, time spent just listening and especially when I get down on the floor and play.  {Ugg.}  Remember to look directly into their eyes when speaking to them.  They notice.

I’m doing my best to savor each day with our three little ones, filling them up with an abundance of love and patience and just-being time before baby.  Maybe I could chalk it all up to pregnancy hormones, but whatever the reason it’s working for our family and I want to remember this.

It’s sort of like my brain is nesting and storing up nuggets of information and good reminders before this new little one comes.  My nightstand is overflowing with parenting books mixed in with all of the “how to have a baby books”  {which Alex teases me about…shouldn’t I be familiar with all that by now…?}  Ha.  I’m diligently making my way through each one, but here are a couple of faves:

Desperate: Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe

Wild Things: The Art of Nurturing Boys

And here are a few encouraging blog posts on mothering that I’ve stumbled across lately:

Having babies in opposite world.  This article struck a chord with me.  I think you’ll see why.

From the post:

Opposite World says if you do have children, 1 or 2 is a nice number…and a family with  3 or 4 children is considered a large family.  And goodness, if you are pregnant with your fifth, you can expect the snide remarks like “you know what causes that, right?” or “Is this an oops?”  I mean why on earth would women want to have lots of babies?

But OH – this is not how God sees children.

Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him. ~ Psalm 127:3

Rachael Janokovic wrote a profound post over at Desiring God Ministries about motherhood – here’s an excerpt:

Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.

Christian mothers carry their children in hostile territory. When you are in public with them, you are standing with, and defending, the objects of cultural dislike. You are publicly testifying that you value what God values, and that you refuse to value what the world values. You stand with the defenseless and in front of the needy. You represent everything that our culture hates, because you represent laying down your life for another—and laying down your life for another represents the gospel.

If you are a pregnant woman, boldly declare your excitement for your baby bump!

When you are in the midst of bottles and binkies and spit up and tantrums and sleepless nights – do not let the enemy whisper in your ear – “this is too much.”  Lean on Jesus and thank God for giving you SO much!

When the world says, you are too young. Remember Mary was young.

When the world says, you are too old. Remember Sarah was old.

When the world says, you don’t know what you are doing. Remember Eve – who had no role models at all…she just walked with the King.

We must shut out the voices of Opposite World and listen to the maker of this world

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And one more good read:

Sarah, writes about distracted Parenting.  Basically this…as parents we have become so easily distracted by those darn little iphones that we all carry around.  And while trying to keep up with *everything* and *everyone* via our phones we are not only missing out on the real life going on around us, but researchers have “observed a dimming of the child’s internal light, a lessening of the connection between parent and child” when parents are distracted by their phones, ipads, etc.

My family gives me a hard time for being the world’s worst phone call returner, or texter, but honestly this is why.  And yes, I’m guilty sometimes too, but when it comes down to it, I don’t want my kids to have a constant image of their mom always looking at a phone.  They are more important.  Period.  Plus, as another wise woman, has said, Life is not an Emergency.  No text or phone call needs to be responded to right this very minute.  Remember the good ol’ days when people left messages and patiently waited for a response?  Might be another lesson in there somewhere…

A letter to my children.

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One of my favorite bloggers hands-down is Sarah over at Clover Lane.  Her recent post “A letter to my children” was so beautiful that I had to share it.  I couldn’t have written truer words to my own children.  I found her words to be a source of encouragement as we raise-up our three sons {and soon to-be daughter} choosing to go against what has become a very strong mainstream.  Maybe you’ll see it as a breath of fresh air too?

An Award

premios_dardoAdrienne, at Our Unexpected Journey recently awarded me the Premios Dardos blog award.  Thank you. “Premio Dardos” means “prize darts” in Italian, and the award is given in recognition of cultural, ethical, literary, and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing.  This is especially meaningful coming from Adrienne as I have learned so much from her. She is a new blogger, who writes honestly about her pregnancy and preparing herself (and her family) to welcome their son Bennett, who was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome.

In the spirit of passion along this award, here’s how it works:

  1. Accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award and a link to his/her blog.
  2. Pass the award along to blogs you find worthy of this acknowledgment.

(Yes, I’m changing the rules up a bit – does this surprise anyone?  I would much rather take the focus of myself and put it back on those that I admire.)  It was tough to choose (I have so many blogs that I love to read and learn so much from) but I’m working on keeping things simple, so I narrowed it down to a few of my favorites that fit the spirit of the award:

Hannah, at Being Vivian’s Mom
I’ve mentioned Hannah’s blog before- it’s a breath of fresh air to read about Hannah as she mothers her daughter Vivian.  I think she puts it best in her own words:  “I’m on a different path than I ever thought I would be as a new mom – but it’s turning out to be a beautiful path. My idea of a perfect day: hot morning coffee, laughing with my baby, walking in the hills, lunch with friends, some backyard squirrel watching and dinner and a glass of wine with my husband. Life’s thrown us some curve balls – but life is all about the curves, isn’t it?”

Welcome to Illinois
I don’t actually know who writes this blog – but this is what I can tell you – it’s written by a dad who resides in Great Britain with his wife and two sons.  He writes candidly about his experiences before his second son was born (who was prenatally diagnosed with Down syndrome) and now that he is here.  This blog is also great reference, if Down syndrome is mentioned in the news (world-wide) you can find the information here.  While I don’t always agree with the author’s position, I do appreciate his honesty and perspective.

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And on that note I’m going to wrap things up.  According to Henry “Oh geez!  Oh geez mom!  I was flushing (and flushing) the toilet and now there’s water everywhere!”  Oh the joy.

Sharing our Blessings – We have a Button!

***Bethany has the code on her blog (and it works), so click here (and scroll down just a bit – you will see our button) to get the code.  Or, scroll down to the end of this post for the “long-winded” way to get our button.   Seems I was initially a bit too overconfident in my tech skills.  Point taken.  I’ll stick with writing, and try to stay away from the fancy stuff.  And please let me know if the code is still giving you trouble.***

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Today marks a big milestone for our blog.  It’s official.  We  have a “button.”  I’d say we’re only two years behind the curve.

Before I explain why we even need a button I want to say a big thank you to Bethany for designing our new button.  She’s amazing.  Doesn’t it look fantastic?  I think so too, which is great because after finally getting it online, I will never move it.  Back to Bethany – not only does have her own fantastic blog, she is so helpful and patient.  I know this for a fact, as I tested her this afternoon.  Apparently I’m not as tech savvy as I originally thought.  Not even close.  But she stuck with me, and helped to get things working.

So what is a blog button?  In the simplest of terms, a button is a form of advertising.  In our case, the button isn’t necessarily advertising our blog, but instead promoting the “Sharing Our Blessings” book giveaway.  Basically it’s another way to reach out to new and expecting parents whose baby has received a diagnosis of Down syndrome.  In a nutshell I’m looking to give away more books.  Nothing can stop me now – I have a button.

This is where you come in – I need your help if you have a blog.  (I’m pretty sure this would work on a facebook page too, but alas I’m one of the three women left in this world that doesn’t have a facebook account.)  You can add our button to your blog.  The theory is that one of your blog readers may be that new parent, or may know of a new parent who has recently received a diagnosis.  They can click on the “Sharing our Blessings” button on your blog and it will direct them to my blog, where they can contact me for their free book.

Pretty cool huh?

All you need to do is grab the code below and add it to your blog in a html widget.  (Don’t I sound all techy?  Truth is I have no clue what I’m talking about, but it seems to work.)  And no your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – the text is really one long line.  Just highlight, copy and paste.  For some reason the code works that way.

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<a href="http://blessingsandglory.wordpress.com/sharing-our-blessings/" target="_blank"><img alt="Sharing Our Blessings" src="http://i50.photobucket.com/albums/f306/lilpayton/libbybuttonfinal.gif"/></a>

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Sharing Our Blessings

Ta-da!

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Another way to grab the button is to literally pull it from the screen.  (These are very technical terms I know…)  When you are on the home page of our blog, literally click (once on the button) and drag it to your desktop.  Save the image to your hard drive and load it as a picture, and then hyperlink it.  Sounds confusing, but friends if I can do it, you can too.  That, or just visit Bethany’s blog for the code.

Simple as that.  (So easy for me to say that now…)  You all deserve an award for sticking with me on this one.  No more buttons.  I promise!

Mistreating My Kitchen Window

Somehow I’ve reached the point where I’m writing a post about home decorating.  And I’m certainly not claiming to be a decorator, but lately I’ve been inspired by The Nester.  Her philosophy (or at least one of them) is that we all “know” what needs to be done around our house, and we don’t need to hire anyone to tell us how to do it.  We just need to do it already.  Paint the walls.  Move the couch – whatever.

I decided to put that philosophy into action, though I thought it best to start small.  Inspired by this post I was determined to add some character to the “plain jane” window over my kitchen sink.  And yes, this project required my first visit (ever) to the fabric store.  It took me over an hour, but I walked out armed with three different fabrics and some upholstery tacks.  An anxiety attack was averted, but I was still sweating profusely as I left the store.  I mean really – what was I doing in a fabric store when I don’t even own a sewing machine?  (And still can’t sew on a button for that matter.)

Never the less I was on a mission.  Supported by fabric and tacks.

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Yes, I realize that one of the fabrics I selected is black.  Yes, I do acknowledge that black curtains aren’t well-known for adding “pizazz.”  However, in my defense I would like to point out that I did hold back on purchasing a chocolate brown fabric as well.  What can I say?  Under pressure I went with my comfort colors.  And really, if I was going with comfort it’s shocking that I didn’t walk out with some sort of denim material.  But people, I have standards.  Denim is for jeans only.  No denim windows.  (And if I’ve offended any denim window treatments out there, I’m sure that they look fantastic in your house – just not over my kitchen sink.)

Boy I get off track easily don’t I?

Once home I was focused.  And in five minutes (no measuring, sewing or gluing necessary) my window had gone from plain to fancy.

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Or stuffy?  It was certainly a step in the right direction, but the fabric didn’t seem quite right.  I was looking for something more whimsical, with a burst of color.

Fast-forward to Saturday evening.  We were having friends over for dinner (eight adults + five kiddos = beautiful chaos) and I was busy setting the table.  As I was taking my new table runner off the table – my fun, colorful, and whimsical table runner – I had an idea.

A few minutes later, I finally had the “perfect” window “mistreatment” for my kitchen sink.  Using my table runner!  No it’s not professionally “perfect” – I eye-balled it – as I hung the fabric, but it fits our kitchen nicely.  In other words – it’ll do.

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Now I just need to figure out what to do with the fabric from the fabric store…

Sharing Some Bloggy Love

You may not believe this.  But this frequent blogging momma, never actually read a blog until June of last summer (2008.)  True story.

And how was I converted so easily into a blog reading and writing kind of gal?  It all started one weekend when Alex was away (which you know can cause the tears to fall. Nothing like an evening to myself after the kiddos are sound asleep.  Break out the sappy chick flicks…)

I was online researching something kid-related (ah, my glamorous life) “miss-clicked” and discovered Angie’s blog Bring the Rain.  I was forever changed.  Reading her story renewed my faith.  It encouraged me to further seek out the Lord – to discover the purpose that he designed especially for me.  Angie’s voice is that of a true friend – telling it like it is, even while dealing with one of the greatest tragedies that a mother could encounter – carrying a baby to term that is incompatible with life.  She has gracefully woven a story that shares the life of her beautiful daughter Audrey Caroline and glorifies the Lord.  Her story encouraged me to share Charlie’s story and reminded me that we all have a beautiful story to share.

I strongly encourage you to visit Angie’s blog.  Grab a box of tissues and cozy in.  Be sure to start at the beginning of the story.  And if you are feeling ambitious, work your way through the archives (from January 2008 to today.)  Which you will want to do because it’s that good.  You won’t regret a moment you spend laughing and crying along the way (even if you are up way past your bedtime like I was.)

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Starting a blog has also allowed me to meet many other mothers who are on a journey similar to ours.  To say this has been a blessing doesn’t seem adequate.  I do try to include them in my blogroll, but often that isn’t as up-dated as I would like.

One of my favorite new friends writes at Benbo, Being Vivian’s Mom.  And right now, Hannah is doing a “Joy in January” series.  It’s like finding a beautiful tulip in the middle of a snowy field.  Not to mention that Vivian is such a little cutie (don’t you just love the name Vivian?)  And Hannah is so darn creative, you will leave inspired (even if you don’t have a creative bone in your body like me.)  Go.  Check it out.

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January seems to bring out the “decorator” in me.  I’m inspired to re-do the house (though this all takes place in my mind – none of my fabulous ideas actually come into fruition.)  This “redecorating” has led me to discover a bevy of decorating blogs.  My favorite? The Nesting Place of course. The Nester has created a blog of inspiring decorating ideas and has almost convinced me that I could tackle something bold.  Like painting.  Or creating my own window treatments.  Almost.  And to top things off, The Nester has a great sense of humor.  What’s better than home decorating and humor?

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Go.  Explore.  Enjoy!