Sunday, June 24, 2018

6 Months | Hope Adrielle

 I'll have to say: this has been THEE FASTEST six months of my life. Also, THEE CRAZIEST, but still THEE BEST.

Every morning after I pack Ethan's lunch and send him out the door, I sneak into the girls' room and take Hope out of her blankets. We snuggle in my bed until it's officially a respectable hour to be awake. We both fall back asleep in the mean time, and when I open my eyes to the light of day, her smile is almost too big for her tiny face.

Her uncontainable happiness melts my heart and reminds me how God delights in our happiness as much as I delight in hers.

"For every good gift and every perfect gift is from above; and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. Of His own will begat He us with the word of truth..."

We're so loved, all of us.

But seeing as how it's been six whole months since that horrible, beautiful night in the hospital where she was born (Mommy's everywhere can relate, I think..), I thought it was about time that I finally put together her memory box.

I think every child should have a few (A FEW) little things from their childhood when they grow up and move out. Mom sent my baby book with me, and the memories written inside are so precious.

But...confession: I don't do baby books. But I do keep a journal, and I do make memory boxes. Passing down memories and special tokens of love is something for which your kids will thank you years from now.

In case you're thinking of putting together a little something for your luv, here's what goes inside of mine:

  • Her sonogram pictures. 
  • The little hat she wore in the hospital. 
  • Her coming home outfit. 
  • A tiny dress that I loved for her to wear
  • The ID bands from the hospital
  • Her receiving blanket from the hospital
  • A special letter from me, written on the 2017 (Business) Christmas Card that we sent out
  • Her first hair bow

Not much, and simple to do, but enough to bring a smile when she's grown and gone somewhere else.

Handy Hint: Put this box inside a weather-proof container in the attic, or someplace safe from small, prying fingers that haven't found respect for priceless papers. Heh.

What do you do to store up memories for your children? I would love more ideas!

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

If We're Honest | We Find The Strength

I was ashamed. The groggy realization folded over, soft and engulfing. It was thick and hard to swallow.

I'm not enough. 

"Two kids and a house - how is that too much for one full grown person?"I berated myself.  "How is that impossible. How? "

But it was.

"Nonsensical", "pansy" views were never welcome in my head before: "I am mom. It's my job."  "I got this."  "All things through Christ."  "One thing at a time. " "I'll be okay tomorrow, let's just handle today..."

But standing there for that split second, soaking up the big picture, all that resolve was gone.

No more.

Nobody really understands what it means to stay at home with kids unless they've done it. Especially little ones.

I couldn't read my Bible without interruption, and a half hour of prayer time seemed like a far away dream. There's clean clothes, but they're not in the drawers where they belong. There's food, but it's near insanity to get it on the table.

 I smile, offer warm hugs, sing songs...

But I'm bone dry. I've given everything I have. All the strength, all the purpose, all my optimism...and here I am,  void of strength, and even the will to do any more than I've done already today. And it's only 1:00 in the afternoon.

Dear God, what's wrong with me?

And I bend down and pick up the babydoll, and the two legos. I'm too tired to cry, or I would.

You know, looking back: If an angel had come down to me in that moment and stood right there in my living room while I was shaming myself for weakness and tiredness and pathetic housekeeping, I really don't think he would have struck me down dead.

I don't think God would have looked down at the bed that wasn't made and shook his head. You know what I learned from that day? If you are where I was - where I am now, honestly... listen to this.

It's okay. 

Deep breath in...

...Let it go.

It's alright to not have the laundry folded.

It's not wrong to feel like you can't handle one more whine.

It's okay that she spit sidewalk chalk all over her cute outfit.

You're not enough for this, no.

You're struggling and nobody sees. That's okay.

You are more than a housekeeper: You're a Mom. You think you know what that means - you think you have to do it all, cross every "T" and dot every "I" or people will talk. That's not it.

You're giving everything you've got to every category on the list, every slot in the schedule - you can't. This is too big for you.

Come to me, you who are weary and heaven laden. Let me hold you for a minute. Let me hear what nobody else does.

You're pressed above measure. You're tired, ashamed of being tired. Angry with yourself for not doing more, but you...just...can't.

You're not enough. I still am.

Hold on to me. Let the idea of satisfying everyone around you slip away. Be free for this moment. Call out my name. It's a safe place for you; a resting place for you.

Lift up from it all, tune it out. It'll be there when you come down, still waiting - but my strength will become your own. One more dish. One more diaper. Grace to speak calmly when those babies need your attention. I'll get you through this. Hold on.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Journal Throwback | Pritchard Logging | Happy Days

Every little while a casual invitation invites me to his world.”So, do you wanna come to work with me tomorrow?” Stepping down into the four-inch slime of brown, North Carolina mountain mud, my eyes were opened again. They always are when I come.

I feel the steam rising from everything after the heavy, pattering rains. Some winged fantom beats up a breeze on my skin. I’m glad I didn’t see it. Bugs that big are the stuff nightmares are made of. 

Thick mountain laurels line the gravel road. It’s beautiful; if you’re not in charge of getting heavy equipment to wind down and over and through these sharp hills and corners. Oh, yeah -apparently these are“hills.” Where I come from, this here“Rattlesnake Ridge” would be “Rattlesnake Mountain.” 

But Mister Optimist plows right on through it all with his trusty dozer and ingrown tenacity. I’m always amazed at how in the world he does it. He wouldn’t be happy doing anything else. It’s his passion.

It would be my nightmare.

I’ll be the lunch lady. 

Feeling the sweat prickle on my forehead, eyeing the busy hornets that zig zag around the piles of logs, looking up at the tall, rugged, beauty of this unmerciful job; it makes me proud. There’s not many men who would love the hard work so much. He revels in conquering it; making it happen.

And my phone is dead, so I have no pictures. Sorry.  You’re stuck with my sappy-in-luv rambles today. 

Without further ado:


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Overwhelmed | The Gift Of Wisdom | Remembering

“You’d better start praying now.” 

My Mom is always ready with an answer when I have a child-raising question. I put her through the ringer when I went through the terrible twos…Getting ready to welcome Thing 2 into this family of mine, Haven’s world was about to turn upside down and retribution was swiftly coming to visit my own parenting experience. Of course Mom had practical proverbs to share, but that one sentence shouted loudly above the rest. 

“You’d better start praying now.”

Haven’s world did, indeed turn upside down. Christmas Eve blessed us with a sweet, laid back little angel for a second child. When I held her, my independent sassyfrass found a sudden craving to be held too. The smallest frustration brought a tantrum. She wanted her quiet little routine back. Her life. Her Mama. 

This want was marked by a side of her that I had never seen before. I guess it comes out differently in every kid…hers came out with a vengeance. 

I didn’t know what to do, except to embrace those small clinging arms and fold her close to my heart. Nothing worked; cuddling, scolding, comforting, disciplining, rocking --  My nerves were stretched tighter than guitar strings. 

My own threatening tears were close to the surface; my calm voice seemed like deceit. I loved her so much - how could I make her normal again? I didn’t know. 

I think that’s the worst feeling for moms everywhere; the echoe-y realization that you don’t know. 

My problem sounded insignificant to most people; "She'll grow out of it." "It just takes time." But for me, those days that turned to weeks were my own personal struggle; real, present, and horrible. It hurts to watch your baby hurting.

One afternoon, mentally exhausted, listening to Haven cry herself to sleep, I remembered this verse in James: “Do any of you lack wisdom? Let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed. Let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.”

Trust. The key to my peace. 

God does give wisdom, and He does answer prayer. Today she follows me around the house singing at the top of her lungs. Every morning she coos to Hope and strokes her hair “gently.” She’s still herself - fiery and inquisitive, but its easy to see that she’s come back to a place of security. There’s still moments, and she’s still one-and-a-half: but the difference in her is amazing. 

What happened? God knew what she needed. He could look into her mind and heart and see exactly what was wrong. He put together every part of her from the beginning - He knew it all, and saw it all when there was no way I could. He gave us the strength to be consistent, and the grace to understand. She came out of it. 

 Ever been there? It's a place I still visit regularly - that void ground of "Not Knowing." From one Mom to another: No matter what book you read on first borns, husbands or kids in general, nobody has all the answers but the One who put them together and gave them to you. Ask and receive. Seek and  find. Knock - it'll be opened. 

Who said?

He did. 

I think part of the reason God gives us the children He does is so we’ll seek Him. Fiery trials are what takes the two-year-old out of us and grows us into His image. We sing about “Longing to be like Jesus,” and sometimes, more often than we realize, the hot tears of a little girls’ temper are a growing experience for us as much as they are for her. God has a sense of humor; but He is wise. 

Trust and don’t be afraid.  

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Packing for 4 | In A Carry-On Bag

You heard me. Four in one bag. 

We decided to fly for our spring trip to Wisconsin this year, which was a little adventurous, considering our two tiny girls, but it seemed a fantastic alternative to seventeen hours in the car...

 I knew we were going to have to haul the girls, the luggage and their two carseats through the airport, so  I made up my mind to pack all four of us in my faithful turquoise roller bag. This said bag has been absolutely everywhere with me, and I've packed for as many as TWO WEEKS AT A TIME in that thing.

I guess, if you're one of 'those' who get all excited about labels: I'm a minimalist. 

Our trip was four days in total. Here's what I did.


One bag held everything for one day, for one person. The girls are still tiny, so I packed theirs together. Everything for "Monday" was stuffed inside -- hair bows, socks, jewelry -- It takes out all the guesswork and makes for more efficient morning routines. AKA:  Less "Hun...where's my black socks?" on Sunday Morning. 

The other plus is that stuffing each outfit into a bag compresses it = more room in the suitcase. 

Thankfully Ethan isn't a large man, so the plan worked to perfection. We wore the casual shoes that we planned on wearing all weekend, and packed our dress shoes in the bottom of the carry-on.

In light of toting less, I decided not to fiddle with the baby-size bottles of lotion, body wash, etc. We stopped at the store when we got there and bought small packs of diapers, wipes, and other necessities. By the end of the trip there were only a few left to stuff into our "luggage." 

I took a tiny purse and Ethan carried a backpack with our laptop, chargers, and anything we might need on the flight. 

Believe you me: THAT WAS PLENTY. Ethan had his backpack, Haven's big ol' carseat in one hand and Hope's big ol' carseat (with Hope inside it) in the other one. I had Haven in one arm flying behind him with the aforementioned carry on bag. 

How did the flight go? Toward the end of our longest leug (North Carolina to Chicago) the guy in the row next to us turned to me and admitted: "I'll be honest. I wasn't real excited to see you guys get on the plane...but they did pretty good." 

"Well... thanks." 

Praying is the best prevention, I'm telling ya. 

We had a fantastic time, I didn't forget to pack anything and we made it there and back in one piece. 

**I love my turquoise carry-on bag.**

Monday, May 14, 2018

My Hairbow Obsession | Hints On Baby Hair

I'm her. That Mom.

My children will probably look back at their toddler pictures and wonder what in the world I was thinking, putting those great big bows and flowers in their hair. I know some people can't stand it, but I can't stand to not to.  #sorrynotsorry

A blogger friend of mine had asked me to do a little post about hair bows and hair doing for toddlers and I happened to remember. **Ta-Daaaaa.       

I hope to post a few tutorials later on. 

Obviously, the pictures above serve as an easy tutorial to inspire your own imaginations. I don't like all hair bows. Some look dopey, some aren't the right color, some just need extra pizzaz -- So, long story short: I believe in hot glue.  A hot glue gun and scissors will get you everywhere, my dears.

There's a ton of boutique style hair bows on etsy, there's cute ones at the dollar store, hand-me-downs are terrific (The fairycrown above is derived from two cousins' donations) and there's always the satisfaction and pride that comes with DIY versions. 

NOTE: A friend of mine mentioned (yesterday) that Amazon has oodles of boutique style hair bows for very little. I'll probably be checking that out this summer...

Sad to say, I am an unfortunate disaster in the crafting area of life -- I aint no perfectionist, Hun -- So burning silk edges, measuring little bitty ribbons and BUYING EXPENSIVE CRAFT SUPPLIES isn't my thing. 

Stick with the hot glue and everything will be fine. 

After you have managed to create or collect the proper regalia, there's the actual experience of keeping your little luv still for her beauty sesh. Here's a few very, very self-evident hints. 

1. SECURE THE CHILD. We use the top of the changing table. There's nowhere to run. 

2. USE DISTRACTION. (Books, for instance.)

3. DON'T LET GO.  One of the most aggravating moments in my day is when I'm almost done with Haven's French Braids, Bun, Pigtails or Waterfall Braid -- and the whole thing falls out when she jerks her head in an attempt to escape. Occasionally she's in a special mood and doesn't want her hair prettied. Not letting go when she twists and jerks, makes her realize that she's the one hurting herself, not the other way around. It's not child abuse, it's practicality. 

Also keep in mind that THIS happens. 

Ps. This hair bow isn't for everydayness. No way would it stay in - it's actually for our 2018 family photo shoot: Stay tuned for pics and projects. 

It's okay. She's little. We normally have a hair re-doing party before Daddy comes home, so she's all fresh and angelic looking when he walks in the door.

Questions or comments? I'd be glad to oblige. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Why | What I Do All Day

Dear child with hair in your eyes,

You are beautiful.

Little girl with peanut butter from head to toe,

You'll be a great cook one day.

Sweet Darlin with messy hair,

You're more than this world to me.

Crazy girl yelling at the top of your lungs,

I see the potential of a well-mannered adult.

You are why I stay here at home; because there's so much bound up in you that only I can see. So many gifts hidden in your heart, so much beauty that waits to be let out in the world.

Cultivation, prayer, and somebody with a whole lot of time will bring out the things that a babysitter or day care provider doesn't know are there. 

Time is my gift to you; my love for you. Time is why I'm not leaving today, or tomorrow, or the day after that.

I hold you close while you cry, trying not to see all the work that I need to do, hearing words echo in my head. "What do you do all day? You don't "work," You have time..."

Time, yes.

Not time to give - time to keep close. Time before time runs out and this impressionable phase is long gone.

People puzzle. People scoff. Raised eyebrows, questioning eyes.

We fail to see that fulfillment isn't in "how full you can pack your schedule." Success doesn't mean being busy until all that's wonderful is crowded out of your life. The argument lies in "Who's busier." The solution rests in "What does God ask?"

Little girl trying to eat dirt from the flower garden,

You're more important than what anyone thinks.

Soft heart, so quick to believe,

This is my job, because you are important to God.

No matter who says what, or how times change - I'm here for you with all my heart, for as long as you need me.

You are why I stay home.

**Please note: I do realize that there are times when working outside the home becomes necessity. That's fine. Whether you "work", or don't - I'll still be your friend. These are my own convictions, and I don't force them on anyone else - You serve God and your family in the way that He leads you. Only what's done FOR CHRIST will last.