Saturday, May 24, 2014

the hardest parts

I probably wouldn’t have chosen what we’re being required to walk through.  You don’t plan for your life to unfold in such a messy way that you spend years trying to find your bearings, only to find you don’t have any in and of yourself.  It’s hard pill to swallow when you realize that raising a strong child with sensory processing disorder is a day in, day out struggle to maintain your sanity and easy will probably never define that relationship.  Hard to not feel guilty for receiving the grace God gives through the personality of another child and trying to maintain the balance.  Hard to walk through daily motherhood and not end up laying in bed at night feeling like a total failure.  Hard to walk beside your husband through the uncharted territory of the Lord turning your life upside down in jobs, your home, security…knowing He’s calling you out to the place He will show you but you’re not being allowed to see it...yet.  Hard to live through uncertain months and, through many tears, get to the place of letting go of thinking you can hold any of it together anyway.  Hard to embrace the challenging beauty in seeing the Lord respond to our trust and steps of faith while losing loved ones along the way.  Hard to be motivated to finish the bittersweet job of getting our house ready to go on the market…less than 3 months before our third baby will join our family.  Hard to prepare to leave with no idea where we are being led.  I’m not gonna lie, it’s just been months of plain hard.

The good thing about so many things being up in the air is that you have no choice but to rely on the Lord.  All of the things I am facing are too big for me.  Especially in the midst of pregnancy hormones.  Living in limbo will certainly test what you’re made of…and, at times most of the time, show you your worst self.  The reason I keep going is because of Jesus.  Never before have I known how much I need Him.  He sends encouragement, provision, and more grace just when I think I can’t hold on for another minute.  We have gotten to experience miracles and joys on this path that can’t come any other way than being in a place of total desperation and dependence.  While I wouldn’t have chosen these hard places, I’m learning to be thankful for them.  I imagine it must be frustrating for the Lord to work in someone’s life that seems to always find a way to muscle through on their own.  Releasing control of it all hasn’t come without a fight.  But even in the midst of quieting anxiety, hanging on to promises and lots of deep breaths, I have a hope and excitement for what lies ahead.  Knowing that He is thinking of each of us in this little family and knows just what we need.  

Saturday, March 24, 2012

the littles.

(a week before her first birthday)

(turning 4 in May)

our crazy little life.

So James left for the first leg of John Mark's spring tour and I found myself sick as a dog, at home with my kids, with 2 1/2 weeks to go...I guess one way the Lord reveals to me how much I need Him (& others) is when I find myself completely unable to get it together in any way, shape, or form...I usually go into a certain "let's get this done/single mom" mode when James is traveling and if I start running out of steam, it's usually the last few days he's gone...however, this time I started off with no steam...I spent the first week sick, with a cold-turned-sinus infection, and the second week on antibiotics, trying to was miserable...before I finally went to the doctor, I was having daily meltdowns, feeling like a failure and completely unable to pull it together...after a few come-aparts (over the course of a week) on the phone with James, he suggested I go stay with his parents so I could have some help with the kids (mainly Stetson)...I finally conceded to the fact that I physically couldn't continue the way I was and agreed to the next day we went to grandpa & mimi's was such an ordeal to get there that day---Stetson having school, going to the doctor, packing us up, picking up medicine & sitting in traffic---that part of me wanted to say forget it, we'll stay home...but I pushed through and we eventually made it...and it was as if the Lord, Himself, had rescued me...I have never been so grateful for help in my life...we ended up staying with them for 5 days and it really was God's grace to shoulders felt like a thousand pounds had been lifted off...and after a week of being home with the kids alone, even just eating dinner with other adults and hanging out after the kids were in bed was such a gift...I think it's safe to say that Jesus and my in-laws saved my sanity...and I learned that sometimes you just need help and it's okay...I think the fact that I don't work outside my home makes me feel like I shouldn't need help...all I have to do is take care of my kids and husband and run our whole life, right?! Ha!

On that note, it's been a year now since I have officially been a stay-at-home-mom...(my little star is almost 1!)...and I can honestly say it has been WONDERFUL and it has been completely changed our family dynamic going from 2 working parents to 1...and through that I feel like the Lord has done things in my heart in the past year that probably wouldn't have happened if I had not been at home...I still feel half-crazy running around tending to 2 kids...but the Lord has so beautifully used this simpler time in our life to begin to open my eyes to things that need to change in has not been easy...but after wrestling with some of these issues long enough (some for days, others for years), I was finally able to let go and the Lord could begin changing me in those areas...I am so thankful for all the ways I have seen the Lord's hand on our little family and even more convinced than ever that I can't make it without Jesus.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

nine month old duchess.

stella is now 17 lbs, 4 oz and 27 inches long...her weight and height are both in the 25th-50th percentile range (and her head is still in the 90th percentile :))...she is still babbling a lot...just started signing eat...has started eating much more table food...has dropped another nursing feeding (only 3 a day now)...loves to see herself in a mirror...when I pick her up out of her bed she holds her arms out toward the mirror in her room and when I take her over to it she waves and waves at herself...such a sweetie...we're starting to work on her drinking out of a cup since I'm planning to wean her after she turns one...she's still not making any strides toward crawling but our pediatrician said at her check-up that she (like stetson) is focusing more on talking and fine motor skills...he said we can probably count on her walking around 15 (unlike with stetson) instead of worrying about it, I finally feel like I can just enjoy her in this stage where she is happy playing on a blanket...she did work herself from a sitting to tummy position the other day but once she got there she started crying...and she will eventually start scooting backwards when she's having tummy time...but other than that she is just happy as a bug sitting and playing...and I am thoroughly enjoying all the smiles, waves, babbles, pointing, and laughing...this is such a sweet age and I'm trying not to think about that she'll be one in a couple of months...(however I can't wait to plan a girly birthday party!)

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I love Christmastime...and now that I'm a mama, it definitely makes me wanna be more festive...decorations, christmas music, cookies, crafts...this year has been the most fun. I think because Stetson is at the age where he understands more, gets excited about opening presents, etc. He had a birthday party for Jesus at preschool (where he told me "we had a cake for him") and didn't have a clue who Santa was on the TV the first time he saw him...(ME: Who is that, Stetson? STETSON: Joseph or somping? ME: No... STETSON: Ewijah?)...Ha! The only place he has seen white bearded men is in his children's bible. :) This moment made me laugh and pleased at the same time.

Aside from all the normal 3 year old make-you-crazy-behavior, Stetson is pretty spectacular. His memory is astounding. He remembers everything. Musicians, songs, tunes, VEHICLES (his obsession), directions when we're in the car (he knows what parts of town all our friends/fam live, stores we go to, etc), shapes, letters, numbers...we are continually amazed. He's learning to write and is already becoming interested in reading (he's always asking "what does that say?" about anything with writing on it). I love watching his little brain work.

One of our latest discoveries of a way to help him manage some of his emotions has been to use a timer...on the regular. Almost "quiet time", almost bedtime, almost time to leave someone's house...he responds really well to it. Now he asks most of the time for us to set the timer. I can appreciate needing to know what's up and being mentally prepared. ;)

MY LITTLE STAR...oooooooooh my little beauty. She is babbling up a storm, still all smiles, rolling around (mostly in her bed), scooting backward a little, jumping in the johnny jump up...(Stetson was a few months behind on gross motor skills so I'm waiting to see how it all unfolds with her) him, she is already very dexterous...feeding herself really well and even not wanting me to put cheerios in her mouth for her! Today, I told Stella to say hey to her daddy and she looked at him and waved for the first time...and once again, I was a goner. GAH! She is too preshie for words. She also was being held by one of her uncles and wanted me and leaned toward me with her arms out and said "mama". Talk about melting my heart. Stetson was never really like that with me. He would want me to hold him but he wasn't near as attached to me. I have to say, one thing I love about having kids is that, having always loved babies, I've waited my whole life to have one want ME! On days like today when my daughter just wants me and says mama to me for the first time, it is a guilty pleasure and a great joy.

This December has been the least stressful one I've had in years. I think mainly because it's my first year not working and December is a salon's busiest month. So I've been able to somewhat leisurely shop throughout the month...have plenty of time with my little lots of Christmas movies with James...enjoy wrapping gifts & making treats...instead of trying to cram all of these things into my days off work and being exhausted all the time. I especially enjoy late in the evening, after the kids are in bed...usually in the midst of picking up around the house, dealing with the last bit of dishes, etc...sitting down for a bit in a quiet house, with the christmas lights making everything homey, some delicious hot chocolate in hand, and being reminded of how blessed I am.
So thankful.

Friday, December 16, 2011


When I re-read my last post, it almost makes me laugh...almost.

So much has changed in our lives since then...I shortly thereafter discovered I was pregnant with Stella...had a fairly non-eventful (aside from having gestational diabetes, being on an EXTREMELY strict diet, and having to give myself insulin shots) pregnancy that flew I imagine all but the first pregnancies do...and she was born via scheduled c-section on March 28th at 7:40 a.m...7 lbs, 11 oz and 19 3/4 in of the sweetest little bundle of all things delightful...that said, the past almost 9 months have gone by in a blink. Once we got past the sleepless nights (she slept through the night for the first time at 6 weeks and then consistently ever since the day she turned 9 weeks...same age Stetson started sleeping through the night), life with Stella on board has added another layer of love and joy to my heart and soul. She is truly a delight. Can't think of a better word for her. I think she came out with a smile on her face. The only thing she means serious business about is her eatin'...and I can't blame her. ;) I didn't go back to work after she was has been an adjustment in more ways than one...but it has also been my heart's desire for most of my life. So...I'm LOVING it...even when I'm exhausted, stressed out, lonely, and half crazy. I love it.

My experience with Stella has been a bit different than it was with Stetson...mainly because I didn't return to work, I have exclusively breastfed (which means I live my life in (now) 4 hour increments between feedings), I'm making all of her babyfood...and now we're giving cloth diapering a try (which has been a great experience so far!) I have definitely been embracing being a stay-at-home-mom when it comes to caring for and snuggling my sweet little star. You would think the new baby would be the one that has been a lot of work...but she has been God's grace to me this year.

And then there's my fantastic 3 1/2 year old. Wow. If I had only known what was in store for me when I last posted about him wanting to use the potty. Ha! If I remember correctly, that lasted for about 2 weeks. anyone with a son knows...boys quickly evolve into wild little creatures. Stetson changed so much between 2 and 3. He went to mother's morning out twice a week. He started talking more. And more. And more. And climbing everything. And jumping off everything. And reaching the age where you feel like you spend most of your time trying to keep them safe. :/

And then he turned 3. And it got even crazier. Our beloved pediatrician forewarned us at his 3 year check-up that it can be a hard age...especially if they're verbal...and he most definitely is. My plan had been to start potty training after his third birthday...Stella would be around for a few months by then...maybe he would be adjusted...he would be old enough to know what was up...HA!!! Needless to say, this past summer was one of the hardest of my life because of those two little words. POTTY TRAINING. Where are the children who genuinely just have to get the hang of it, figure it out, and then are so happy to do it for you? I don't have one of those. Oh no...that would be too easy. He knew exactly what to to do it...when to do it...and was even staying dry all night. But he meant he was gonna stick it to us. It was a summer filled with lots of poop and pee clean-ups...lots of tears from both of us...lots of stress for me because he had to be potty trained to go to preschool. It was another one of those things where I was really glad at the beginning that I didn't know what I was in for. Yikes. So there was that. And there has been MUCH sassing..."don't say that to me"...much challenging our EVERY word and/or threat...this kid is gonna be quite the leader...can't wait to see what the plan for his life entails. Yes, 3 has been the most challenging age I've yet to experience.

But it has also been full of many new and fun much more independence...picking out clothes, getting dressed, FINALLY being potty trained, singing songs, knowing the alphabet, counting, learning to write (trace) letters and numbers, fixing his own snacks/drinks, being a good little helper, overcoming some fears (mainly the vacuum and small appliances), loving being the "door holder" for me, using whatever he can find to be his "phone" that he texts from, takes pictures with, makes calls from, and charges...really just acting so much like a tiny adult (or should I say teenager?) that it is hilarious. Lots of pretending. Lots of precious moments being hilarious, curious, sensitive, sweet and the midst of all the screaming, crying fits and meltdowns because HE wants to buckle his own car seat, open the car door, etc.

Stetson simply adores his daddy. And he has been mostly sweet to Stella...just a little too rough sometimes. However, he unfortunately has a love/hate relationship with me. He is a man's man. If James isn't home, he's sweet to me and accepts me being the one to see about him. If James IS home...he makes no bones about it...he pretty much doesn't want me for anything. This has not been easy to swallow. And has made this third year difficult for me to navigate emotionally. He is not a mama's boy. He wants his daddy...all the time. He doesn't even want me to look at him if he gets hurt ("you can't see me wike dis"). James is really working with him on how to treat his mama (PTL) and I have definitely (and finally) started seeing some that has been encouraging. Don't get me wrong, I love that he adores his daddy so much. I want him to be a man's man. But I am really asking the Lord to help me manage this, too. It's hard for my heart.

It's been a lot, this year. A new baby, recovering from major surgery, a 3 year old boy, potty training, husband away on a 7 week tour this fall...I'd say I've had my work cut out for me. But, you know what? I the grace of God. And I learned a lot. About loving when it's easy to love and especially when it's not. About leaving dishes in the sink and playing with your kids. About checking on other people when you're feeling really lonely. About realizing what your own needs are and speaking up. And, of course, I messed up A LOT. And I pretty much have realized I may never (will never) have it all together at the same time. And it'll be ok. Let's just I hope I don't do any permanent damage to those in my household in the process. ;)

Friday, July 9, 2010

our big boy.

before i forget...stetson has decided he's ready to start using the, i seriously wasn't planning on even thinking about potty training until maybe next spring when he turns 3...however, apparently, he is ready now. for months he has been letting me know when he goes in his diaper...he would just make eye contact with me and pat the front of his diaper...even occasionally saying tee-tee or poop. and then for the past month or so he has been pulling on his diaper alot acting like it bothers him. and then last weekend there were a couple of days that every time he wet his diaper in the least, he would pull on it, say "biper" and want a new one....even yelling "biper" before we can get to him when he wakes up in the morning. so after a couple of conversations with some of my clients who have done this several times, they all informed me that he is most definitely ready. tuesday night after i got home from work and he was about to go to bed, i asked him if wanted to sit on the potty and he was more than happy to...and after about 15 minutes of sitting, he tee-teed...lots of clapping and an m&m. the next night after i got home from work, same thing but it happened a lot faster...he only sat there for a few minutes. then yesterday when i was here all day with him, i sat him on the potty a couple of times and nothing happened. but before his nap i took him to the potty again and, lo and behold, he tee-teed AND pooped!! what???!!! LOTS AND LOTS of clapping and 2 m&ms. so far today, he has tee-teed once on the potty (and immediately starting saying yay and clapping himself)....but i am in shock...because i've been coming up with a plan to start officially potty training in a couple of weeks...when we can be at home for a good week and just put him in underwear, take him to the potty all day, etc....i just can't believe he's done any of this without much effort on my part. i have to admit, i'm a little scared. i keep having visions of him soaking everything everywhere we go. but maybe it won't be as bad as i'm picturing. he seems to be catching on pretty quickly and is definitely encouraged when m&ms are in sight. nevertheless, this has been a monumental week at the duke household. here goes nothing...