Friday, July 18, 2014


Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Bloom.

Five Minute Friday

It's Texas, in July, and I'm sitting on our front porch enjoying the weather. It's 67 degrees. How did this happen? Inside my babies are still sleeping at 8:25am. It's a blessing I don't take for granted, this sleeping in they do most mornings. 

This week has been a successful week. Why do I say that? Before my littlest was born, I was afraid of what would happen when I had two babies. I remember how long the "postpartum stage" lasted with my first born. At 3 months I started looking around for the balls I'd been juggling (activities, commitments, basic housework, etc) before baby was born. At 6 months I began to pick them up one by one. At 9 months I awkwardly tried a few tosses. At 1 year I had finally learned to juggle again. It took awhile. Longer than I realized it would, and I was afraid the second round--with a baby and a toddler--would be even more difficult. 

In some ways it has, but in other ways not so much. I don't have to learn how to be a mama this round, and that is a big difference. My toddler is young, but growing to be helpful. In my fearful moments I forgot how sweet it is to just sit and hold a new baby while she grins happily up at me.

Have I learned to juggle yet? Goodness, no! At 2 months postpartum I'm only just starting to re-orient. But that's okay. I can take this one day at a time. Every day I learn and grow, and fear doesn't have a part in that. Motherhood is hard, yes. But this is the place I'm at right now, and I am happy to bloom right here. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

The adventure begins

We started school today, and entirely by accident. Though my husband and I have been talking quite a lot the last few months about our philosophy of education, I feel very strongly that the first few years of a child's life should be left free of book-work. Let the child play outside, explore, find bugs watch a flower grow. Children are sponges for knowledge and are learning scads every day--don't make learning boring by forcing book-work too early.

And then this morning my daughter pulled out her Einsy Weency Spider book and sat down on the couch while I was looking after her little sister. A moment later I heard a quiet, "Eight.... Seven.... Nine...." I tiptoed over to the couch and peered over her shoulder. She was pointing at all of Einsy's spider siblings and counting them.

I had to laugh a bit at myself as I sat down beside her. "Look how many spiders there are!! Would you like to count them?" A few minutes later she was counting from one to five without much trouble at all. Sponges indeed.

While I probably won't be buying curriculum any time soon, school is officially in session. Let the adventure begin.

Saturday, May 10, 2014


Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Grateful.

Five Minute Friday

It's Mothers day weekend. Saturday, and the house is quiet as I'm writing. "puppy tuan" (as my daughter calls him, his actual name is Huan--without the descriptive prefix) is curled up in his crate beside me, the rest of my family is enjoying the one day of sleeping in they get each week.

Pregnancy, of course, is on the forefront of everyone's mind. I'm nearly a week past the sonogram due date, and tomorrow is my official 40 weeks. Yes, this time my due date is on Mothers day. Is there a more perfect day to be due than Mother's day? I've started collecting guesses for when this little one will make an arrival, none are farther out than a week from today (though with a cobbler cookoff at church a week from tomorrow if this little one is going to hold off a week, she might as well hold off a week and a day so her mommy can get some tasty cobbler and ice cream!). The guessing process has been fun.

Life itself has slowed from the frantic pace that I described a couple months ago. Yes, sometimes a hard stop is needed simply so that we have a chance to savor the gifts God has given us. And He has given me so many gifts. Here are a few that come to mind on this quiet Saturday morning:

--Rest. I have slept so well this last week. Every night my head hits the pillow and I sleep the sleep of one who has earned it. Solid, refreshing, rejuvinating sleep. I have started taking magnesium, and while I'm sure that has helped tremendously, solid nights of sleep at 39 weeks of pregnancy can only be a gift from God.

--Comfort: I mentioned in my only pregnancy post a few weeks ago that I'd had increased pain levels this pregnancy. I started seeing my chiropractor regularly, and that (when combined with faithful execution of the at-home exercises she gave me) has made a tremendous difference. I thank the Lord moment by moment for the gift of being able to move without pain.

--my daughter has become a tiny little mother. I have neither encouraged or discouraged imaginative play, and yet to my great surprise she has decided she is now a mommy to her collection of baby dolls. She changes diapers, puts their shoes (and socks) on, brushes their teeth, bathes them in the sink, and pushes them around in her tiny shopping cart. She makes sure that they ride along in the newborn carseat (which is now in the car), and insists that they also should be properly buckled in. I would not be surprised to see all these actions in a few weeks--as she models them after my own actions with her sister. But for her to start nurturing her babies now? Without watching on? And just before the tiny one arrives? It makes me smile every time.

--a clean house. No, no. It isn't perfectly clean. I've chosen that hard-stop, grateful, focus-on-my-family life, remember? *smile* Looking around I see a few toys on the floor, a mug my husband drank out of as we sat on the couch together and read in the evening hours, and dirty dishes in the sink that remind of entertaining dear family members last night. While it certainly isn't perfect, I've been at the "20 minutes to company ready" state for a couple weeks now. It feels nice to know that whenever this little one arrives we'll have a tidy house to welcome her into.

There are so many other things that bring me joy on a daily basis--things that are harder to quantify.

The early morning light now streaming in the bay windows.
Our playful puppy cavorting with my daughter on a sunny afternoon.
My husband--in so many ways, my husband.
A well stocked freezer, allowing me a 10-minutes-and-done dinner when I need a restful evening not focused on the kitchen and cooking.
My little orchard in back, a birthday present, all trees growing well.
A slower, more peaceful pace of life.
My pre-baby check-list--all the tasks done, even if I did choose a few weeks ago to hand it all to God, to choose rest and trust instead of frantically rushing. Is it possible that God had it all under control all along? *smile*

I don't know when this little one will arrive. Perhaps it will be tomorrow, but I suspect I have a few more days at least, and that is fine too. Due dates are only estimates--and babies don't generally care about calendars or estimates.

 In this stage it is easy to understand the attitude of patient expectation I am to have toward the return of my Savior. I do not know the day or the hour He will return (or my baby will be born), but I do know it will be soon. I can rest in peace and joy, knowing that the hour God has appointed is perfect--whether thinking of the return of my Lord, or the birth of my babe. In the meantime my task is to welcome each moment that God has given me in the interim with joy--as a gift He has graciously bestowed.

(And no, that wasn't 5 minutes. But I started writing, and today just seemed to need longer than that. Which is okay. Slowing down, remember? )

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Pregnancy update--38 weeks

It's hard to believe that this pregnancy has passed almost un-noticed on Ruby in the Rough. On Sunday I'll be 38-39 weeks pregnant (depending on which due-date I go by, we generally stick with the farther out one). In some ways this pregnancy has flown by. It doesn't seem possible I could be at the point now that my little girl could be here any day.

In other ways I feel like I've been pregnant forever. The other day my husband bent over to kiss Tirza, and the first thought that entered my head was, "how in the world was he able to BEND like that?? that must have HURT!" And then I realized that he wasn't pregnant. I watched an action movie recently, and the entire time I was grimacing as I watched the characters run, jump, and climb walls. Movements that would be painful or impossible for me, the characters were doing just for fun!! I've been pregnant long enough that it's hard to remember what it was like to have full mobility.

It has been a good pregnancy, but different than my previous two. Different enough that before the sonogram we were certain it was a boy. Apparently there is a lot of variety in each pregnancy, regardless of whether I'm pregnant with a boy or a girl.

Here are a few differences:

  • Tirza's pregnancy I had a serious food aversion to ground beef. I could eat beef, just not ground. Even the smell or thought of ground beef turned my stomach. My poor hubby had to get hamburgers on the sly when I wasn't around.  This pregnancy? No aversions (thank God!), but I have had a few random cravings, especially in the second trimester. The most memorable one was for the Rhoades Family Broccoli/Rice/Cheese casserole--properly made with instant rice and highly processed cheese product (which meant an emergency run for my husband to the store to obtain ingredients I never use). 
  • I had awful heartburn with Tirza pretty much from the start of the second trimester on. Thankfully, this pregnancy it has been minimal. 
  • On the flip side, last pregnancy I had very little pelvic girdle pain--and what little there was concentrated at the very end. This pregnancy PGP has been a constant companion since 20 weeks. There are things I am able to do to keep the pain manageable, but it is always present. 
  • I don't remember huge energy slumps last pregnancy. I know I slept more, but I was also fully able to keep up with two jobs through most of the pregnancy. This round my energy levels have been noticeably lower throughout.
  • I gained a lot of weight with the last pregnancy, this round I'm staying pretty close to on track with the "recommended" amount. I'm not sure what I've done differently, since both pregnancies I was fairly conscious of eating well--without stressing the small things. I think last time I simply ate more than I needed to, because I thought I was supposed to "eat for two." When one of those two is the size of a pea, grape, or banana, the "eat for two" mantra is somewhat misleading. 

I go back and forth between excitement at meeting my new little one in just a few days time, to wanting to stretch these last days out as long as possible. Sure, pregnancy isn't always a comfortable thing. I'm sore, slow and tired. But I sleep more than I will with a newborn, and this season of pregnancy has been a season of joy. I want to savor each moment I have left to focus on just Tirza. Even though my love for her will only grow, my attention will be divided when her sister arrives. I don't want to rush these last few moments with her as an only child.

That said, I'm also eager for my second daughter to be born. I want to meet her, learn her personality, start savoring the moments I can spend with HER. And Tirza is at an age that she will get a lot of enjoyment out of a sibling. I am genuinely excited about their meeting. And, although the newborn stage is intimidating and exhausting, I also remember how much joy there was in those first days with Tirza. I know there will be multiplied happiness as I get to experience those same moments a second time, in addition to the joy my first daughter already brings. Watching them interact will be a gift to remember.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Hard Stops

I've been learning the same lesson over and over the last few weeks, and I didn't realize it till just now when I sat down to write about it. It isn't that I'm not learning the lesson, or that the exact same lesson is on repeat. It's just that I I graduate to the next level. I make it through first grade, and move on to second grade.  Today was one of those graduation moments.

 Last week I shared a bit about learning to say "no". I've discovered that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to recognizing boundaries. It isn't that other people pressure me into doing things I don't have the stamina for--I pressure myself into projects and plans. At any given moment my mind is going on a half dozen different projects. I research, plan, organize, and execute as time and finances permit.  While the creative energy is wonderful, it has been a true weakness the past few weeks.

Not only do I have the normal creative energy, but I also feel an immense internal pressure to get everything done in the next eight(ish) weeks. I am at a point where most of my life is balanced. My little girl is increasingly more independent, verbal, and even helpful. I can do things now. I remember too well what the newborn stage was--and how long the postpartum recovery period lasted. I fear that if I don't get these projects done RIGHT AWAY they will never get done.

I forget that the addition of a new and beautiful member of the family won't change the woman I am. I may need to take a break, but the drive to create will be a part of me till my dying day (and, I firmly believe, beyond that. I am made in the image of a creative God, when I create it is part of my reflection of Him. The day I stop creating is not just the day I loose my identity--it is the day I stop reflecting my Savior).

That said, sometimes a reminder is needed and this is one of those times. It is time for a "hard stop." The kind of stop that says to God, "I trust you with all my dreams and projects. I trust you to carry me through the difficult, physically demanding stages of life. I receive with joy everything (even the rough postpartum period) you have given (and will give) me. Instead of worrying about what I will or won't accomplish in the next two months, I choose to rest and see to the immediate needs--the today needs--of my family and body."

Hard stops are hard. It's hard to choose rest when the mind wants anything but stillness. But God himself said, "Be still and know that I am God." In the frantic pace of life we can never simply sit quietly at His feet and appreciate God for who He is. So, for the next couple weeks my theme is, "Trust. Be still."

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is Joy?

Joining Lisa-Jo and others this morning for Five Minute Friday, where we cut the words loose for just five minutes, and see where they fall. No editing, just encouraging the others who play along. The topic today is Joy.

Five Minute Friday

"Joy.... I think it is when you know with every fiber of your being that things are in their proper order, the way things ought to be." It was a different definition than I expected my husband to give, but sometimes coming at something from a different angle helps. Everything is in it's proper order, it's proper place. 

That means, God is in control and I accept and submit to that. I don't fight and struggle against the things I don't like, because I can choose to trust Him even when there are difficult hard things.

That means that I choose to live my life in harmony with the sphere He has given me. I am a wife, and that means I have certain obligations to my husband. I am a mother, and that means that I have certain responsibilities toward my daughter(s). I can choose resentment, or I can choose acceptance. Only one of those options is the path to joy. 

This explains why it is possible to choose joy in the midst of sorrow--why joy and sadness can exist at once. Sadness may be the opposite of happiness, but it is not the opposite of joy. I can be sad, I can grieve the loss of my son, Christian William. I should  be sad, I should grieve. The loss of a child is something that ought to bring sorrow. But there is joy in that sorrow as well. I know my son is happy, with Jesus. I know never meeting him on this earth was part of God's sovereign plan. I know the separation is temporary, a few years, and then our family will be together again. While my mother's heart still grieves, I can find peace in trust and submission. 

So while there is sorrow, there can also be joy, because--as much as is possible in a world of sin and the curse--things are in their proper order. God is in control. He is a good God, a kind Savior, a gracious Lord. He is worthy of trust. As long as I choose to believe and submit, as long as I choose trust, there is joy. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Mom-Fairy

No one ever prepared me for the amount of uncertainty in parenting. When my daughter was born I had about 5 books that I constantly referenced. One or two in the bathroom, one or two in the bedroom, one or two in the living room. I picked each of them up at least once or twice every few days, often more depending on which book was closest and which questions I happened need answers to that particular day.

I distinctly remember a few (okay, many) occasions when I'd toss the book down in frustration, unable to find an answer to the very specific issue I was dealing with. How was I supposed to know why the tiny person was crying? I'd tried everything!

All I wanted was an awesome mom fairy to sit on my shoulder and tell me exactly what my daughter needed--or a book that always had the exact right answer for that exact situation. I wasn't prepared for the serious learning curve of motherhood. I don't think anyone ever is.

The last couple weeks have been another learning curve. My sweet little girl, who has slept through the night for well over a year now, has been up more nights than she hasn't in the last couple weeks. First it was teething. Then a growth spurt. Then nightmares. Then allergies or a cold. I'm sure moving to a new home and totally disrupting her schedule--oh, and time change--hasn't helped. Toss in a couple nights where the new puppy was also dealing with the toddler issues of teething, growth spurt, a new diet, and a new home (and letting us all know about it in the middle of the night), and you have a recipe that would make even the most committed two year old sleeper wake up crying a few times.

I still don't have a mom-fairy to sit on my shoulder and tell me what my daughter needs, or a book that always has specific advice for that specific night's waking ("She's hungry, Sophia, take her a snack." or "It's a bad dream--she just needs a hug and to know that she is safe and everything is going to be okay"). And I have to admit, in the middle of the night I still think those things would be nice.

That said, God designed parenting the way He did for a reason. If I had a magic answer book, I wouldn't be quite as quick to plead for His help. I wouldn't be quite so fast to recognize my need for His wisdom. I probably wouldn't direct my daughter's attention to Him quite as naturally. And I certainly wouldn't learn nearly as much. Magic books and fairy-moms sound great in the bleary-eyed exhausted morning hours, but the training in trust and wisdom God gives me in the boot-camp of pre-dawn parenting is more valuable than any quick-fix that gets me back to sleep faster.

I'm not sure how long this stage will last, but while it is here I'm going to enjoy the extra time I have with my eldest daughter--the only child for just a few more weeks. I'm going to treasure her sleepy hugs, and the press of her body curling into mine. I'm going to thank God for the extra time we have together, no matter what hour of the night it is. I'm going to keep asking for wisdom and grace in every moment. I'm going to choose joy and thankfulness.

And I'm going to sleep in, as often as possible.

Meeting other homeschool moms, a little (or a lot!) farther down the path than I am
Getting ALL of the laundry done AND put away
Spur of the moment time with family
A fun game night
Great deals at a new-to-me store
Learning that "no" (even to myself) is the most freeing word in the English language

An early morning with my hubby
Sleeping in
Enjoying a good audio book while cleaning
Technology that allows me to join in on church services, even when I'm miles away with a sick little one
Birds, singing in the morning
Puppy pounces
A completed hand made table!!