Homemade Dusting Cleaner

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Hello everyone! Just wanted to share a quick cleaning tip with you that I have recently discovered.

It turns out that tea tree oil works really well for dusting! I normally don’t use Pledge when I dust because we have hard wood floors and no matter how carefully I spray, it always ends up on the floor. Since we have 3 crazy kids running around the house all day, the last thing we need is slippery floors. But I do really like the shine you get when you polish wood furniture.

Then my chiropractor told me that I could use tea tree oil to dust! All you do is dilute 1 tablespoon of tea tree oil in a 12 or 16 oz spray bottle of water. I sprayed my oil/water mixture onto my dusting mitt (I have a Norwex dusting mitt that I absolutely love. It really grabs all of the dust instead of just moving it around) and then got to dusting!

Now this picture is a little embarrassing because we hadn’t dusted in awhile. But in the interest of showing you just how well the tea tree oil works…

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Look at that shine! Bonus: tea tree oil kills dust mites. But the best part for me was when I cleaned my kitchen table (which is on hard wood): none of the cleaner ended up on the floor.

Tea tree oil also kills mold, so you can take this same spray bottle into the bathroom to clean up. I’ve also used it to treat dandruff, and it worked wonders! There are actually a bunch of uses for this awesome stuff. If you are into natural cleaning and natural remedies, you should do some Googling and read up on tea tree oil.

I hope you all have a wonderful day!

Quiet Time: Giving Yourself to God

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Giving yourself to God is both exhilarating and terrifying. It’s a lot like riding a roller coaster: it’s positively thrilling, yet your stomach feels as if it’s going to drop out of you and you can’t shake the “DANGER” alarm that your body is sending. But you know that you’re safe; there is a very heavy harness strapping you in, making it impossible to wiggle in your seat, much less fall out. Yet every time you go through a loop, you brace yourself for the potential danger and hold your breath, because you know that it’s going to feel like the world just collapsed underneath you. But when you are at the very top of the loop, you see the world from a view that you have never experienced before and you feel like you are flying as free as a bird and you are exuberant with every kind of feeling all at once. Even after you survive the ride, you will still have that strange mix of emotions of sheer panic and thrilling joy. Your stomach will still drop to the deepest pit and the question of, “Why am I doing this?” will still cross your mind at the exact spot of the ride. Every. Single. Time. It doesn’t matter how many times you go on the roller coaster. You will panic every time.

God asks us to do crazy things. Things that make absolutely no sense. Things that push us way out of our comfort zone, and cause us to panic. Sometimes He asks us to do things that will hurt. In the moment, we can’t understand why He is asking us to do whatever it is that He is asking. We want to know the why so that we can talk ourselves into going through that ginormous loop on the roller coaster, because from where we’re standing it’s absolutely terrifying and seems like a horrible idea. But He doesn’t tell us the why. He wants us to trust in the knowledge that His harness will keep us safe and will never let us go. Once we say “yes” to whatever journey He is calling us to and allow Him to wrap us in His arms, He will never let go. So even when we’re in the middle of the biggest loop and we’re screaming, “WHY AM I DOING THIS?!!!”, we feel the strong hold of God’s harness not allowing us to even wiggle. Even though our world is completely upside down, we know that, somehow, we are still safe.

I don’t know what journey God has called you to. I don’t know what part of the roller coaster you’re on, if you’re sailing happily with the breeze in your hair, or if you’re hanging upside down where nothing makes sense. But if you’re on one of the scarier bits, I want to encourage you to trust in that harness. Everything else might be spinning out of control around you, but you can still feel God’s arms holding you.

He will never let you go, my friends.

You will feel scared every time you come up to a new loop. It doesn’t matter how many you have already safely gone through. Every time God comes to you with the next crazy thing for you to do, your stomach will drop and your heartbeat will quicken and you will doubt if you will be able to do it. That’s just being human. Just take a deep breath, grab the handlebars on your harness, and go for it again. Trust in Him, for He will get you through it. And you won’t believe all the goodness He has in store for you! Just hold on and follow His lead.

Double Barbie Frozen Cake: Redemption Edition

For those of you who have been following me know that I did a Frozen barbie cake for my girls’ birthday last November. It was the first time I had attempted a barbie cake and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. The dolls were leaning because the structural integrity was so poor, the fondant seams were a mess, and the detailing was unfinished because I ran out of time.

I learned a lot from that cake.

A neighbor kid turned 5 earlier this month and had a Frozen party (of course!). For the first time I was on the fence about offering to do a cake. The baby has not been sleeping well; she usually wakes up 4 times a night, despite co-sleeping. This throws a wrench into any baking, because I usually get all of my cake work done at night once the girls are asleep. So with the baby’s schedule being so unpredictable, it seemed too risky to roll the dice this time. I would die if I wasn’t able to get a cake done after saying I would do it. Just when I was leaning strongly towards not doing it this time, my 4 year old asked me, “Mom, can you make a cake for my friend?” Looking into her big brown eyes brimming with excitement, I could not deny her request.

So I got in touch with my neighbor and told her that I would be happy to make her daughter a cake as a gift. “Maybe they’ll want something simple”, I said to myself. Kids love cupcakes, and cupcakes are easy! After browsing Pinterest, they sent me a picture of what the birthday girl wanted…

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Definitely not a cupcake. Of course she wanted a barbie cake. What 5 year old girl wouldn’t want this cake? BUT I DON’T KNOW IF I CAN DO THIS CAKE!!!

After the initial panic subsided, I actually thought about it and realized that I could make this cake. Sure, my first attempt at a barbie cake was kind of a disaster. BUT – – I learned a lot from that disaster:

  1. Bake the top layer in a bowl. That way, the shape of the dress is already there and won’t need to be carved.
  2. Don’t make the frosting in between the layers too thick. You want a thin layer, really. Enough to act as glue and add some flavor, but nothing like what you would put in a tiered cake. Too much frosting causes instability.
  3. Don’t pick a cake recipe that is super moist, because it doesn’t hold up well to stacking high or carving. This has always been an issue for me because I believe that there is nothing worse than dry cake. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how pretty a cake looks if you get dry crumbs when you go to take a bite. The taste must match the beauty of the decorations, or else there’s no point. However, it’s very difficult to find recipes that are the perfect balance of moist yet sturdy.
  4. Chill out. No seriously–this cake needs to be chilled. Over and over again. So set aside enough time to do that.
  5. Details are key. I had to have enough time for the details of the dresses, otherwise it’s not a very interesting cake. Just a dome with dolls popping out.

That weekend was kind of busy for me, because aside from the birthday party, I also had committed to helping my mother-in-law with a jewelry party the night before. She is a stylist for Stella & Dot and one of her clients booked a party, where she brings all of her jewelry samples and the guests get to try everything on. These parties are always a lot of fun, but also a lot of work because my mother-in-law has a lot of samples. As in, it takes the two of us working together for an hour to set everything up. I knew that it was going to take up all of Friday night, and I knew that I couldn’t count on the baby sleeping. Since the birthday party was bright and early at 11 am Saturday morning, I knew that I had to get the cake done before I left for the Stella & Dot party on Friday evening or I would be screwed.

So I planned out my design. I found this YouTube video, which shows exactly how to make a single barbie cake. This is where I got the trick of baking the top tier in a bowl. Aside from the bowl cake, I knew I was going to need two 8″ rounds as well. I decided I was going to use this white cake recipe, swapping the milk for almond milk to make it dairy free. This recipe was perfect. The cake was strong enough to hold up to the stacking, but still moist and delicious. This will now be my go-to recipe for vanilla cake, because it’s kind of perfect in my opinion.

I decided to forgo the fondant this time around because it was already going to be challenging enough without adding the stress of frigging fondant. I wanted the frosting to be nice and firm, so I went with my fail-safe vanilla frosting. 4 ingredients: vegetable shortening, powdered sugar, a dash of almond milk and vanilla extract. Dairy free, delicious, and perfect for this job. One of these days, I’ll do a post with the recipe.

Elsa’s dress has a delicate ombré effect, which I decided to honor. Even though her dress doesn’t actually have snowflakes on it (those are only on the cape; can you tell I live with Frozen fanatics?), I couldn’t figure out a way to replicate the fancy ice shards seen on her skirt. If I was going to use fondant, I could have made scratches and dusted it with luster dust for sparkle. But scratch marks in buttercream just looked like I didn’t know how to frost properly. So, Elsa’s dress would need 4 colors: 3 shades of blue and white.

Anna’s dress has beautiful detailing along the hem of the skirt. The stripe at the bottom is a lighter shade of the blue of the skirt, but I wanted it to pop a bit more, so I decided I wanted to go with purple. A lot of artists had made that choice too, so I wasn’t too concerned about kids calling me out on it (except my own 4 year old, who is very detail oriented and noticed that it was wrong). The stems for the embroidered flowers are also a lighter tone of the blue of the skirt, but again I decided to go with a teal to make the design pop. I didn’t want to do all the work of piping all these details on if no one was going to notice them. Just like her sister, Anna was also going to require 4 colors: dark blue for her skirt, purple for the bottom stripe, and teal and fushia for the flowers.

Despite my well intentions of giving myself enough time to do this cake, motherhood got the better of me yet again and I wasn’t able to start it until Thursday night. Mind you, when I say ‘night’  I don’t mean right after dinner. I mean after the girls were in bed. Thankfully, God took mercy on my poor soul, and I was able to lay the baby down in her crib! Since I was going to be around people the next day, I had to make showering a priority. She was still sleeping when I got out, so I made a mad dash to the kitchen and got to baking! She slept long enough for me to get most of the batter done for the bowl cake; I had to fold the whipped egg whites in with her on my hip because she was not happy with Daddy.

I set the oven to 325° instead of 350° so the outside wouldn’t burn before the inside could bake. It ended up taking 70 long minutes to cook through, so if you do one of these cakes, be sure to plan for that extra bake time.

I hit the ground running Friday morning and baked the two 8″ rounds and made the frosting. The baking took awhile because I only have one 8″ pan. I contemplated using one of my 9″ pans so the cakes could bake at the same time, but I didn’t want to have to carve anything. I really didn’t want to mess anything up because I would not have the time to fix it. Coloring frosting takes for. ev. er. The dark blue for Anna’s dress didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. The “dark blue” icing color that I bought looked more grey than blue. So I had to futz with it a bit, mixing in a lighter blue to get it to look blue. Note to self: buy more than 1 type of dark blue next time, so that I have more to work with!

Time was really getting away from me and I at least wanted to have the cake stacked and crumb coated before I had to leave. The last 8″ round was still a little warm, but I decided to flip it out of the pan anyways so it would cool faster.

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That was a bad idea.

Luckily it split in a nice line down the middle, so I was able to save it.

I followed the lead of my YouTube video and used a circle cookie cutter to create a well in the middle of the tiers for the dolls’ legs. This was a huge saving grace when it came to structural integrity! With my first barbie cake, I just stuck the dolls in the cake without removing any first, and the moment I did that, the cake started cracking. Cutting holes in the middle worked beautifully!

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I put my cracked cake at the bottom and patched it together with frosting. Luckily, it held up just fine and wasn’t a problem.

I put a thin layer of frosting on it to lock in the crumbs and popped it in the fridge while I went to the jewelry party.

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In case you were wondering what I did with the baby while I was working – I stuck her in her activity chair on top of the counter.

As I anticipated, I didn’t get home until 9 that night. But God took mercy on me again, and I was able to lay the baby down in her crib! I went straight to the kitchen and started working again.

The first step was to wrap up the dolls’ legs in plastic wrap to protect them from the frosting. I did this by putting the dolls back to back and taping their legs together. Then I wrapped their legs in plastic wrap and spun tape around the plastic to make sure it would stay put.

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I put the arms up so that they were out of the way, and then I slid them through the hole in the cake.

Using my spackling tool (which I only use on cakes, obviously), I marked where the two dresses met.

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Next, I took my extra large cake icer icing tip (Wilton #789) and piped the icing for each skirt on in horizontal stripes. I used a small round #2 tip to get the icing on the dolls’ hips, and used a toddler butter knife to smooth it out on their backsides because it was too small a space for my icing spatula.

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Next, I took my icing spatula and carefully smoothed the frosting. This was tricky with Elsa’s skirt in particular because of the ombré effect. I couldn’t just slab more icing on like I would with any other cake, because it would ruin the effect. You’ve really only got one shot at it, so make sure you use enough icing the first time you’re applying it and that you don’t scrape too much off when you’re smoothing it out. I started at the top, smoothing the flat part of the dome first. Then after wiping the spatula off, I lined it up vertically with the bottom of the skirt and smoothed the rest of it in one go.

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I wasn’t able to get the frosting as smooth as I wanted because I couldn’t scrape over it more than the one time. But the ombré effect turned out nicely.

By the time I was done icing the skirts, the baby woke up. So I popped it in the fridge and called it a night.

The next morning I woke up early, hoping that I was giving myself enough time to finish the detailing before we had to leave for the party. Luckily, the older two girls ended up sleeping in until 9:30 so I wasn’t getting interrupted every 5 minutes. But the baby was wide eyed and bushy tailed, so I still had my hands full.

Since Elsa’s dress doesn’t technically have snowflakes on it and since I did the ombré effect, I decided that Anna’s detailing was more vital and focused on her first.

I started by piping a straight purple line along the hem of her skirt using Wilton tip #47.

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Then I used my #2 tip and piped on the peaks.

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If you wanted to be precise, you could use a ruler and toothpick to mark out exactly where each peak should hit. I free handed it because ain’t nobody got time fo dat!

Continuing with the #2 tip, I filled in each peak.

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Then I smoothed it out with my handy dandy toddler knife.

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Now on to the flowers. I started with the long stems, working it from the tip of the peaks up. Again, if you have the time, then you can measure and mark before piping. But I was really cutting it close, so again, I free handed it. After the stems were piped, I used a different #2 tip and did the simple pink tulip. Then I went back to the green and piped on the smaller leaf design that’s in between each peak.

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This didn’t take that long, so I decided I had time for some snowflakes on Elsa. That was 100% free hand. I just took it one snowflake at a time, adding swirls to break it up. I then used a small closed star tip to pipe a line of white flowers along the seam where the two skirts meet so that it would look tidy.

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I ended up finishing at 10:30! Luckily the venue was only 5 minutes away and my oldest girl and I were able to get ready fast.

The birthday girl loved it! Seeing her face light up when I brought it in made all the work worth it.

And that is how I was able to conquer the barbie cake.

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Mystery Poop

It was a lovely Spring afternoon. The windows let in a sweet, cool breeze and the calming song of birds chirping. Mimi was over for a visit, with her lap dog, Dickens. Dickens is a lively 3 month old puppy, and professional instigator, as most puppies are. The children ran about the house playing with Dickens, who kept trying to chew up the various toys that were strewn about the floor.

My husband sat with his mother in the living room, helping her with her tablet. I took advantage of the children being preoccupied and stole away to the kitchen to catch up on dishes. The baby sat happily in her chair, babbling away at me. Then a horrible scream broke through the gaiety. I daresay that in the 8 years that I have known her, I have never heard that sound come out of my mother-in-law. Did Chewbacca, our Shih-Poo, finally eat Dickens? (Chewbacca is not fond of the little chap, I’m afraid.) I ran into the living room to investigate.

Upon entering, I saw Mimi frantically running after little Dickens, trying to get something out of his mouth. She finally caught him and wrenched his mouth open, allowing a piece of poop to fall onto the carpet.

Everyone instantly panicked, the children most of all.

Mimi picked up the offending matter with a bit of tissue and went to flush it down the toilet. Upon entering the bathroom, she was surprised to find another piece of poop on the floor!

Once we cleaned the floor and carpet, we began to tackle the big question: who’s poop was Mr. Dickens eating? We were quick to assume it to be Dickens’ poop, because he’s still being potty trained. But it was too big to have been his. Next to be blamed was Chewbacca, but he had been on the couch with my husband the whole time, trying to avoid Dickens. It was too small to have been from our Australian Shepherd, Brienne. That left the cat; but she’s never pooped outside of the box in her 9 years of life, and again, it was too big.

Of course, my next thought was Colonel Mustard, who probably used the candlestick to swat it from the powder room to the drawing room.

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But wait–what if the culprit wasn’t an animal? What if the culprit was a human??

We had been so focused on the dog who had been caught with the poop, that we neglected to consider the kind-of-sort-of-potty-trained toddler (a toddler, by the way, who has a history of pooping on my carpet).

Calm as I could, I knelt down and asked the toddler, “Did you poop in your panties?”

“No”, she responded.

A quick check of her panties confirmed that she was telling the truth.

So where did the poop come from?

Then I remembered the poop that was found on the bathroom floor – – next to the Elmo potty.

I went back to the toddler and rephrased my question, “Did you go poo-poo in your potty without telling me?”

“Yes”, she said. “I go poo-poo in my Elmo potty all by myself and I flush it.”

Ah-ha!

I suspect that the toddler pooped in her Elmo potty and pushed the flusher. BUT – – the potty doesn’t really flush; it merely makes a flushing sound to make the child feel good about their potty achievement. Since none of the adults knew she had gone potty, the poop was left in the potty bowl. Dickens then snuck into the bathroom and helped himself to the feast that was left so conveniently at his level.

Another mystery solved.

Lesson learned–keep the bathroom door shut when having a play date with a puppy.

I Call You Blessed

Today was seemingly insignificant. I didn’t accomplish anything worth talking about; laundry, a few dishes, dance class, dinner. It was a very typical day in the life of a stay-at-home mom.

It’s really easy to feel insignificant and unimportant in the role of motherhood. On the surface, it doesn’t look like you do very much at all. At the end of days where I literally only accomplish keeping the kids fed and alive, I sometimes feel stressed because I wasn’t even able to keep up on housework. This feeling is compounded when my 4 year old actually complains about not going to day care like all of her friends and says things like, “Auntie works all the time, but you never work Mom.”

When you work a 9 to 5 job, it’s easy to find satisfaction. You keep busy all day doing important things and at the end of the day, have finished one or many projects. So you give yourself a mental gold star for doing something of value with your life for that day and are happy about it.

I feel like being a stay-at-home mom is looked down on in our culture. Since the feminist movement to allow women into the work force, it seems that if you are a woman who chooses to stay home instead of work, you are then wasting all the efforts of the women who fought so hard for that right. I feel our culture teaching us that if you don’t work, that you aren’t doing enough with your life.

So even though I don’t believe that anymore, I still allow that thinking to make me insecure.

Am I doing enough?

Am I wasting my life?

I put unrealistic expectations on myself, believing that I have to have the house spic and span all the time, homemade dinners ready at the same time every night, and laundry clean/folded/put away. So when I am unable to keep up on the house or when I can’t manage to get dinner out any earlier than 8 pm or when only half of the laundry is clean and is in an unfolded pile, I feel like I am just not cutting it. I feel like I am not enough.

And I know that some people will look at my life and say, ‘I feel sorry for her. I mean, she raised great kids, but she didn’t really do anything with her life.’

But if at the end, I’ve done my job right (because motherhood is a JOB), my children will rise up and call me blessed. How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so:

 

Image via pixshark

Image via pixshark

I can’t stop thinking about the deliberate language in this verse: her children rise. Why ‘rise’? Why doesn’t the verse just say, ‘her children call her blessed’? That would send the same message. But it says that they rise. Rise against whom?

Do you want to know what I think?

I think that her children are rising against those who would dare call their mother’s life insignificant. I think that now that they are grown, her children are able to see how much she has done for them. They couldn’t see it when they were young, but they see it now. They know now that they would not have become the people that they are without her. They also see that there are people who do not understand everything that this woman, their mother, is worth.

Another thought–why doesn’t the mother defend herself? If you read the previous verses that describe her, you will see that she is a strong woman. Why does she stay silent?

Maybe because for a moment, she doesn’t fully see the significance in her life either. Perhaps she is just like me, wondering if she did enough.

But her children say she was more than enough. And they rise up for her, at a time when she cannot do it for herself, and call her BLESSED.

It’s so very easy to sweep all the extraordinary that we do as mothers under the rug of mundane. But we mustn’t forget how very important our job is. We are shaping lives. It is the most important job in the world, and yet is the most undervalued one. Personally, I feel that true feminism should embrace all that a woman can be, including a mother. Motherhood is not something to demean; I truly believe it is the highest honor and calling in life. Think about it– God is trusting us to raise tiny humans into extraordinary beings. What an honor!

So if you are reading this on a day where you are thinking, “Seriously, what did I do with my life today?”, I want to say:

I will rise up and call you blessed.

And one day, your children will too.

 

At Least Pee is Sterile

My sister came out from California to spend last week with us. I had plans of surprising her with a birthday cake since we couldn’t be with her in February for her actual birthday, of painting nails, of days spent outside playing with the kids, of nights drinking wine while watching stupid television shows, of finally getting to show her the place that I now call home because the last time she came to visit was for Laurelyn’s birth & the time before that was in the middle of the polar vortex winter. But reality looked totally different than my fantasy, as it normally does. I wasn’t able to find the time to make her birthday cake. It rained most of the time she was here, keeping us housebound. And to top it off, the 2 older girls got hit with a stomach bug; Eowyn was sick the first day she was here, and Arya 2 days later. Aside from Target & Arya’s dance class, we didn’t get out of the house until her 4th day here! We went to the Mall of America that day for a Barbie’s Dreamhouse / Nickelodeon Universe / Disney store extravaganza.

The next day, I had planned on taking her to the downtown area of our little town. It has a quaint small-town America feel and is right next to the river, so there’s gorgeous views everywhere. The first time I went to the downtown area was the first time I fell in love with this area, which has now become my home. It was really important to me to share that with my sister.

So of course, everything went wrong.

The plan was to make sandwiches and have a picnic, because frankly it wasn’t in the budget to eat out. But we ended up running late in the way that only happens when you have kids: you wake up with the sole goal of getting ready to leave, yet mysteriously it gets dragged out in extra potty trips, nursing sessions, and the extra time it takes to get the kids moving at a pace that doesn’t make you want to gouge your eyes out Fish Mooney style. No way was I going to add making sandwiches to the list when we were finally getting out of the door at 1:30. Fast food was the best choice economically speaking, but I knew that going inside to eat would waste at least another hour because of the reality of the pace of a 4 year old, 2 year old, and nursing 5 month old. The food would have been cold if we drove through and ate it picnic style at the river. So I chose to go to a restaurant downtown, because that would give us the most time. Time to spend together in one of my favorite places on the second to last day of my sister’s visit. I knew we couldn’t afford it, but sometimes I feel it’s important to choose the option that will make you happier, rather than the more frugal one.

We went to a burger joint that I really like that’s right in the middle of downtown. Unfortunately, they messed up my burger and put cheese on it (I’m allergic to dairy). So everyone else ate before me. But I will say that the waitress handled it perfectly: she caught the mistake before bringing the food out and had the manager take my meal off the bill without me having to complain first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to A. Remind the server that I can’t eat the food they served me because of the cheese that’s sitting right on top of it, even though I told them about my allergy when I ordered and, B. Had to complain to the manager because the server made clear to me that my allergy was really inconveniencing them. I don’t like having to make a big stink, so I really appreciated the waitress being so pro-active in fixing the mistake.

Right when I was finishing up eating, Laurelyn pooped. I discovered when I took her to the bathroom that it was a blow out diaper. Like, an up-her-back-and-in-her-leg-rolls blow out diaper. If we had been at home, this would have been a you-need-a-bath kind of diaper. And I had 3 diaper wipes. I managed to get the onesie off without the poop getting in her hair, but I had to resort to using toilet paper to wipe a lot of it up because the 3 diaper wipes didn’t cut it on their own. After she was poop free, I had to put her naked self on my hip so that I could wipe the poop off of the changing pad, so that the new diaper wouldn’t be covered in it. While I was doing this, she peed on me.

Not just a little trickle either.

Oh no, this was a soak-the-whole-left-side-of-my-shirt-and-roll-down-my-pant-leg-and-on-to-my-shoe-ending-in-a-massive-puddle-on-the-floor kind of pee.

I had no extra clothes for myself, because who does that? There was a part of me that wanted to throw in the towel, just go home and give up on this impossible day. But the kids were so excited to run around by the river, and my poor sister had spent almost her whole visit cooped up in my house. So even though I felt positively gross, I decided that I was not going to give up on this day, and forged on in my peed on clothes.

At least pee is sterile.

We went back to the car to get the girls’ kite & balls, to discover that the damn kite had broken! The girls were instantly devastated and threatened to throw tantrums over it. Luckily my husband calmed them down, because if they had thrown fits over that kite I would have lost it. They kicked the ball around for about 5 minutes and then were done. Whatever happened to kids being able to amuse themselves forever with a ball and lots of space to run?

They wanted to walk along the water now. I was nursing again, so my sister took them down by the shore solo while Tyler kept me company.

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This too, only lasted 5 minutes, because Ary kept trying to go in the water. No matter that the water is freezing cold and she didn’t have a bathing suit or floaties on. My sister came walking back to us carrying Ary like a football because she wouldn’t walk on her own. She was also shoeless; she had managed to kick off her shoes in the struggle without my sister noticing.

While my sister went back to retrieve the missing shoes, Eowyn managed to climb a tree entirely on her own. This has been something that she always wanted to do, so it was such an honor to watch it unfold. My daughter checked off her first bucket list item, and I was there to witness it. There it is friends– extraordinary peeking through the ordinary day.

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The moment was broken by a yell of, “I need ta go potty!” I passed the baby off to Tyler, grabbed Ary, and ran to the bathrooms. Which were locked. Why were the park bathrooms locked on a Saturday?! I knew she wouldn’t make it back to the restaurants, so there was only one other option: she was going to have to squat. I took her to a wooded area off the shore of the river, held her in a squatting position above the sand, and told her to go. “NOOOOO!”, she protested. “It’s ok, Ary; the dogs pee outside all the time. Just let it out.” It was really windy that day, so it was kind of a messy experience. But, I kept things light hearted and silly, and when she was done, we were laughing about it. When we were back with everyone else, she proudly announced, “I pee in da woods!”

Hey, at least pee is sterile.

There’s a bridge that goes across the river that I had yet to walk, so we decided to cross that bridge (pun intended). Eowyn was pretty disappointed by this idea, as she wanted to continue climbing trees for the rest of the day.

The view was absolutely breathtaking.

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But both the girls were quickly complaining about how bored they were, and could we please go back now? (INSERT MAJOR EYE ROLL HERE) “How can you be bored when you have all of this beauty surrounding you?”, my sister asked them. I then had a flashback of our childhood when we were the bored children being asked that question. When did we become so old? The girls finally wore us down however, and we headed back halfway through.

Wanting to recreate the iconic picture of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin dropping sticks on one side of a bridge to see who’s stick made it to the other side first, we all picked out sticks and dropped them in the water. Despite the wind being very strong, the current was stubbornly pushing against it, so non of our sticks actually made it to the other side. They actually got carried in the other direction! So much for that moment.

We headed back to the main street to get coffee and ice cream.

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Then we packed up and went home. The girls were not happy about this; there were boo boo lips across the board.

The moment we were pulling into the garage, Eowyn asked if we could play outside. We were completely dumbfounded by her request, since we had just spent the last 4 hours outside. She threw a fit when we denied her request, “But we just walked around on a bridge, we didn’t play in my yard!” (INSERT EVEN BIGGER EYE ROLL HERE)

Sometimes, you just can’t win. You try to plan a nice family day out of the house to make some memories for the scrapbook, and life takes a piss on it (literally).

But you know what? On the way to church the next day, Eowyn said, “Mom, remember when we walked on that bridge yesterday? That was a lot of fun.” BAM! Mom for the win! Even though the day was far from flawless, I think the kids will actually file that memory away as a nice day out. They’ll remember climbing trees and a windy walk on a bridge and ice cream and forget the not-so-great bits.

As moms we try so hard sometimes to create “perfect” memories. But, life isn’t perfect. Stories are more interesting when things go wrong anyways. So the next time a day isn’t going as planned, I will remind myself, ‘at least pee is sterile’. Because if I try too hard to force something to be perfect, I’ll ruin any chance of it being fun because I’ll be stressed out.

We’ve got to hold tight to all that is good, refusing to let it go.

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The Furnace of Motherhood

“But I will rejoice even if I lose my life, pouring it out like a liquid offering to God, just like your faithful service is an offering to God. And I want all of you to share that joy.”

-Philippians 2:17 NLT

There’s this debate in parenting circles of where the fine line is of giving yourself to your family without losing yourself in the process. Many blog posts have been written on ‘making time for you’ and ‘putting yourself first sometimes’, because it’s so easy to get burnt out as a parent. This is good advice; after all, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before helping another with their’s, right?

But–the Bible tells us to give all of ourselves to God and His calling for our lives. If His calling is motherhood, then I have to believe that we should give all of ourselves to our families.

I am not the same person I was before I had kids.

But, I don’t lament that.

Ever since I said ‘yes’ to God and leaped off the cliff, He’s been transforming me into the woman He created me to be. The Bible likens this process to refining silver. The metal is put into a burning furnace for a very precise amount of time, for it can easily be ruined if the silversmith leaves it in even a moment too long.

God takes us and burns up all the bad that has tainted us, and it hurts. There are moments when you feel the furnace is too hot, that it’s going to swallow you whole. But your Silversmith knows when to take you out, and He never takes His eyes off of you.

I never wanted to get married and was never entirely sure about having kids. I looked down at stay-at-home moms, thinking they were wasting their lives.

The old me was bitter and selfish; condescending and cruel.

I do not miss her.

I do not wish to go back, even though I am tempted to think I do.

Motherhood is the hardest job I have ever had. It has broken me many times. But it has also made me stronger.

God has been refining me in the furnace of motherhood.

I will happily lay down my life for my family. I will let the old me die, and choose to rejoice about it.

Honestly, I think that’s the secret: rejoicing in losing yourself in your family. Not seeing it as a failure or waste, but as something miraculous and beautiful. Because it’s hard to put others first all the time. But that’s the calling, isn’t it?

And because God is who He is, I now understand that the only way to find myself is to lose myself.

“If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

-Matthew 10:39 NLT

I will no longer mourn the woman I lost, but celebrate the woman I am becoming.

I know God won’t stop until I am the masterpiece He destined in the beginning (because we are all His masterpieces). So I will look into the foggy future with joyful anticipation. Because I can’t wait to meet that woman.

My Doctor Who Cake

Last July, my husband convinced me to watch Doctor Who. He had already seen all of the episodes of the recent seasons (Christopher Eccleston and on), and was hoping to get me hooked and caught up before season 8 started up. Being the nerd that I am, I of course became an instant fan. But the new season started a month from when I started watching, and I had a little over 100 episodes to watch if I was going to catch up in time. We only had 2 kids at the time, but I still didn’t have much TV time. Somehow, I managed to do it, which you could either see as impressive or embarrassing, your pick.

I love Doctor Who.

Now I want to get my hands on the original seasons from back in the day so I can be a true Whovian.

So when I was thinking of ideas for my birthday cake, I immediately went to the Doctor. I wanted to do a Tardis cake. Since my birthday is January 6th, I decided to go with a Christmas Tardis theme. We had the flu over Christmas, so I still wanted to hold on to Christmas because I had kind of felt cheated.

My conception art

My conception art

My mom found an awesome video tutorial on YouTube of how to make a Tardis cake.

I was only having a small gathering of friends and their kids over to celebrate, so I was sure the Tardis cake alone would be enough.

I am not very good at sculpted cakes. I have yet to find a cake recipe that holds up well to being sculpted. So I took a risk and tried a recipe that I had never tried before: vanilla pound cake. Since I was going to need 5 squares for my Tardis, I needed 2 square cakes. I only had 1 square pan though, so I had to do them one at a time, which took forever because the bake time for this recipe is an hour and fifteen minutes! My first cake burned on the bottom and along the edges. I was able to cut it away, but it made my squares smaller than the ones in the tutorial video. For the second batch, I reduced the oven temperature to 325°, and that cake came out perfectly. So if you try this recipe, I would suggest lowering the temperature. (It was a very tasty cake.)

It took to sculpting ok. But since my squares were smaller, I ended up doing 4 instead of 5. I was unsuccessful in leveling, so it wasn’t the sturdiest of structures. Despite me using a ruler, I still managed to cut each square a little differently, so they weren’t all the exact same size when I stacked them. Which left me to cut down my already small cake in an attempt to make it even on all the sides. My husband ended up helping me shape it down because it was not looking pretty.

I now did not have enough cake to feed the people I was expecting, so I changed the plan and made two 9″ chocolate rounds for my tardis to sit on, using my moist dairy free chocolate cake recipe. Instead of going with a Christmas Tardis, I decided to ice the rounds to look like Van Gough’s Starry Night with the Tardis sitting on top, recreating the iconic painting from the Van Gough episode. I was sad to have to scrap my Christmas theme, but excited about the new direction.

I focused first on decorating the Tardis, following the instructions from the YouTube video. The blue icing that I had on hand was not Tardis blue, unfortunately. Lesson learned: always buy a few different shades when you need such a specific color so you can mix up your own. But painting the fondant panels really helped with the color. In the video she used a paint powder, but I didn’t have access to that. So I just mixed a drop of water into gel icing colors inside a painter’s palette to get a more “paint like” consistency, and it worked really well.

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How many panels does it take to cover a Tardis?

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The panels post painting

 

I mixed white & black gel icing colors to make grey, and used that around the edges of the window pieces to dirty them up a bit. The Tardis has been around the block a few thousand times after all; she should look worn in.

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I wish that I would have painted the sign grey before writing the words on, but hind sight is 20/20.

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Obviously, I ran out of space for all the words. I had to make this panel slightly larger than the others just to get these to fit. But the important ones are on there.

I almost forgot about the door handle & key hole, but remembered with enough time to whip them up.

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The Police Box panels

 

My mom got me a fondant rolling mat system, conveniently called The Mat, for Christmas. If you are serious about cake decorating, you need this mat! The fondant didn’t stick to it at all.

I mean, look at that!
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Absolutely incredible.

Once all the pieces were cut and painted, it was just a matter of putting them on. I let my 4 year old help with this part. She was so careful & methodical while placing each panel. I saw a piece of myself in her in that moment, which was so beautiful to witness.

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We got the Tardis done 2 hours before people were set to arrive. That may have been enough time to frost the Van Gough design on the rounds if we were already dressed, the house was already cleaned, and if the baby would sleep the entire time. But none of those things had happened, of course. Time got the best of me yet again. It is not easy getting these cakes done when I’ve got 3 girls 4 years old and under to take care of.

But I couldn’t bring myself to slap plain white frosting on it; it had to have some kind of design to it. My new plan: pipe swirls to make it look like the time vortex. Since I was completely out of time (pun intended), I chose 3 colors: blue, purple, and white.

I stuck the blue and purple icings in their own piping bags and then shoved them side by side into another piping bag, so that they would come out at the same time.

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Too bad I ran out of frosting before the whole cake was covered.

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I only had blue leftover, so the colors were off balanced. Then I ran out of the blue!

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It was not looking like what I was going for. Out of pure panic I decided to add white dashes, partly to hide the spots of crumb coat that were peeking through, and partly to try to add a…wibbly wobbly timey wimey effect… Again, I was panicking.

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I stuck my leaning tower of Tardis on top and called it a day, because I had about 10 minutes to get myself dressed before people showed up.

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Let’s just say that it was meant to look off kilter because it was bumping around the time vortex…

Is it the worst thing ever? No. Did it look anything like what I set out to create? Not in any way. Did the perfectionist in me want to throw it on the street and run it over with my car? Absolutely.

But my main goal in life lately has been to not stress out. Especially on days that are supposed to be fun like my birthday. Despite everything that went wrong with this cake, I had a lot of fun making it. I mean, it’s a Tardis cake! Plus, my girls helped me bake and make frosting, on top of watching me work on all the Tardis pieces. I was actually surprised at how interested they were to just watch me work.

Of course having them in the kitchen with me meant extra messes…

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But the extra clean up was worth it, because it meant I got to spend my birthday with the 3 greatest kids on earth.

Good thing I took pictures of my cake right away, because while I was upstairs getting dressed…

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The Doctor crashed the Tardis on my stove.

At this point, I just had to laugh.

We ate the tie dye swirl cake at my dinner party and then the girls and I devoured the Tardis for breakfast the next morning (eating leftover birthday cake for breakfast the day after a birthday is my favorite birthday tradition).

Death of the Tardis

Death of the Tardis

Structural integrity has never been a strength of mine in cake decorating. But I’m working on it. I’ve decided to make a Tardis cake for my birthday every year until I get it right. I’m only 27; I’ve got plenty of time.

I’ll take the long way, Doctor; you meet me on the year I nail it.

A Day in the Life of Me with 3

This day technically was an extension of the previous one: I was up until 1 am nursing the baby and catching up on TV shows with the husband (Better Call Saul, Agent Carter, and Downton Abby). The baby went down long enough for me to get myself ready for bed, then woke up again. Luckily this time only required 10 minutes of pacing and rocking and then I was able to put her down. I had my precious devotional time, and went to sleep. Baby slept through the night, waking up at 7:30. I knew that the longer I let her cry, the more likely she was to wake up one of her sisters, so I peed quickly. I grabbed the baby from her bedside bassinet, took the Sleep Sac off, and cuddled her in my bed. A few minutes after I got her latched on, I heard the unmistakable sounds of one of the others getting out of bed and pitter patting to my room. If it’s Eowyn, I might be able to get her to fall back asleep cuddling with us. If it’s Ary, I’m screwed.

The door opens, and Ary climbs into bed with us.

Shit.

She cuddles with her baby sister for a few minutes before declaring, “I want to go downstairs.” The baby has already fallen back to sleep; maybe we can sneak out of bed without waking her up…

Ary [in a not so quiet voice]: “I need go potty!”

Alright Saturday, let’s do this.

-Without waking up Laurelyn, I quietly get Ary to the bathroom and on the potty right as she’s starting to pee. Ary hates washing her hands, so I have to fight with her to get her to do it.

-Laurelyn wakes up; I grab her and the 3 of us go downstairs before Ary has a chance to wake up Eowyn.

-I let the dogs out into the frozen tundra to do their morning business.

-I change Laurelyn’s diaper & put on Star Wars Rebels , per Ary’s request.

-Why is the cat following me, meowing my ear off? Oh, right- she’s hungry. I grab some food for her while I let the dogs back in.

-I hang up the diaper wash cloths to dry. (I don’t do disposable diaper wipes anymore because I was tired of paying for them. I throw the dirty wash cloths in the washer before going to bed, and hang them up to dry in the morning, because I’m too cheap to waste the electricity to dry them in the dryer).

-Right when I sit on the couch to nurse, Ary announces that she wants water and Goldfish. I get back up and grab Ary’s breakfast while juggling Laurelyn on my hip.

-I sit down to nurse Laurelyn (20 minutes and she’s asleep again)

-Eowyn wakes up and comes downstairs

-She declares that she’s hungry. I remind her that she needs to go potty because she just woke up. “[SIGH] I know that, Mom!” Really? Why didn’t you do it on your own then? Why is it that I have to remind you to go potty every. single. morning. ?

-I try to put sleeping Laurelyn in her swing, which is a funny dance where I have to completely support her bottom, keep my face next to hers through the entire transfer and not get my long hair in her face when I lift up. It’s a delicate maneuver that is only about 40% successful. Sure enough – – she woke up. I’m able to transfer her to her chair and bring her into the kitchen with us though, and she’s fine. She is such a perfect baby.

-Get older kids Lucky Charms.

-Get distracted blogging and burn my toast

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-Deny Ary’s request for more cereal 500 times because, “You have to eat the cereal part too; you can’t just eat the marshmallows.”

-Eowyn: “Uh, Mom, I kind of made a big mess.” When will she be able to eat without it ending up everywhere?

-Eowyn then asks for more. I tell her she has to eat the cereal in her bowl before she gets more- “You can’t just eat the marshmallows”. After one more bite of cereal, she’s done. I’m never buying Lucky Charms again.

Star Wars Rebels is over. Eowyn’s turn to pick something. My Little Pony. The movie. I’m shocked.

-I finish my toast in time for Ary to declare she has to go potty. I pick up Laurelyn in her chair and rush the 3 of us to the bathroom and all that ends up happening is 5 minutes of Knock Knock jokes. Which are all a variation of Ary’s favorite :

“Knock, knock!”

“Who’s there? ”

” Lettuce! ”

” Lettuce who? ”

” Arya’s lettuce! ”

It was hilarious. I love this kid.

-Change Laurelyn’s diaper. While I’m doing that, Ary takes out the Sofia the First game board. She sets it up, then gets distracted by tape on the box and makes it’s annihilation her mission in life.

-Nurse Laurelyn. Eowyn promptly takes her place on my left shoulder. The only time I get to nurse without one or both of the other girls all over me is at night when they’re sleeping.

-For the remainder of the My Little Pony movie, Laurelyn goes through a cycle of nursing-sleeping-woken up by one of her sisters. I give up on her napping once the movie is over.

-Eowyn: “I’m hungry.” I swear these girls eat like hobbits.

-Right as I’m getting Laurelyn situated in  her chair, Ary announces, “I need to go potty!” She makes it in time, yay! Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-She then goes back and forth to the potty three times, accomplishing nothing until the last time when she poops in the potty. Of course this means that I too have to run back and forth to the potty. Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-I wash and slice an apple for Eowyn (because that’s what she asked for), only to have her take 1 bite and tell me, “My throat is making the apple taste yucky, so I’m not going to eat it.” Ary won’t eat it because it has the peel on, so I guess I’m having apple slices. Ary does however want an apple of her own, so I peel and slice a different one for her. She eats about half and “secretly” feeds the rest to our dog Chewbacca. Laurelyn starts to fuss in the middle of all of this, so I get her out of her chair and hold her.

-I try to make a phone call, but my phone app crashes. So I have a phone that can do pretty much anything except make a call. What a world.

-Laurelyn wants to nurse again.

-Eowyn turns her guitar and pirate sword into a cello and puts on a show for us.

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-Eowyn: “Mom, can I have a granola bar please? I can get it!” It then becomes a death race between her and Ary as to who can get to the pantry first. They scream at one another as they squabble over who gets to get a granola bar first. They both make it out alive and with their own granola bars, and Ary leaves hers untouched on the table.

-I steal away for a bathroom break, dragging Laurelyn with me in her chair. Except it’s hardly a break as the moment the door closes, Ary starts shoving colored pencils and a book under the door. Then she barges in, and I tell her to get all her stuff and get out. She gives me a pathetic boo-boo lip and says, “I just wanted to help, Mom.” Help me get away from you lot for a whole minute so I can pee in privacy by not leaving me alone and cluttering the floor with a bunch of stuff? What? How? WHYYYY??!

-I come out of the bathroom to discover Ary is eating all the dark chocolate pieces out of the trail mix.

-After putting the trail mix away and putting the pantry lock on, I lift Laurelyn out of her chair and see poop leaking through her clothes. This baby has a real knack for explosive diapers.

-While I’m cleaning Laurelyn up, Eowyn sits down and practices copying a word that I have written on our white board. This means I must look up 3 times during the blow out clean up to look at her work (“Mom, look!”, “Mom, look!”, “Mom, look!”). “Mom, can I practice with the markers, because it’s easier for me?” Yeah, let’s use markers while Mom is elbow deep in infant poop. NO!

-After the clean up is finished, I corral the troops upstairs so we can finally brush our teeth (it’s now 11 am). First, Ary must grab a toy. You know, in case she gets bored on the long journey to the second level of the house.

-We finally get upstairs just in time for Ary to need to pee again. She makes it to the potty though! Fight with her to get her to wash her hands.

-We brush the kids’ teeth, which requires lots of the Doc Mcstuffins tooth brushing song.

-The girls play on the stairs while I dress Laurelyn, take my morning medicine, and brush my teeth with her balanced on my hip.

-After being naked all day yesterday, all night long, and all of this morning, Ary decides she wants pajamas. I don’t understand this girl.

-By the time I get downstairs, Laurelyn wants to nurse again.

-While I am nursing: -Ary spills Goldfish on the floor, which she starts eating off of the floor with Chewbacca – Eowyn dumps more Goldfish on the floor on purpose because she feels bad for our other dog Brienne not being able to get through Ary and Chewbacca to get any -Eowyn opens the pantry lock and brings out the bag of Goldfish for her and Ary to snack from – Ary takes her pajamas off. They lasted a whole 20 minutes – I become a spider web for the girls to put dew drops onto. -We read a book -Eowyn practices letters

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-We clean up the mess they made yesterday because… hot damn.

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Clean up takes 40 minutes, and that’s with me doing 90% of the work. But it also included me vacuuming their play room once I could see the floor, putting up Command hooks to solve the weaponry storage issue we’ve had, and scrubbing all the paint off of the girls’ dry erase board.

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-Laurelyn announces she is done being in her chair right when I’m finishing up. Perfect baby.

-I get the older girls dry erase markers so they can create art on their newly cleaned board. Then I change Laurelyn’s diaper and nurse her in the play room so I can keep an eye on them. Ary always trys to color everything she’s not supposed to, so when we’re doing markers I have to be there to remind her to only color the paper (or in this case, board) about 5,000 times.

-The dry erase/chalk board easel keeps Things 1 & 2 entertained for a full 20 minutes.

-They then move on to archery.

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-Laurelyn has fallen asleep and I am able to transfer her to her bassinet. Like I said before–perfect baby.

-I have the other two go potty, fight with Ary to get her to wash her hands, and then I take lunch orders. I whip up their requests, serve them, and get started on my pb&j. I decide to jazz it up today by toasting the bread (take that, Bobby Flay). While the bread is toasting, Laurelyn wakes up; she slept for 15 minutes… I quickly finish making my sandwich and go get her.

-As we’re finishing up lunch, I remember that my Tardis cookie jar is empty and suggest to the girls that we make some cookies before naptime. They had gotten a Frozen cookie making kit for Christmas that I had completely forgotten about, so we broke that out and finally made them. I was carrying Laurelyn in my baby carrier, so it was a bit awkward moving around but it was so much fun!

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-I told the girls that they couldn’t eat their cookies unless they took a nap, and got them cleaned off, emptied of pee, and in their beds.

-Then I let the dogs out, changed Laurelyn’s diaper, and nursed her to sleep. I let her sleep on me while Tyler and I watched Vikings .

-All of the girls wake up shortly after our show ends. Ary woke up grumpy as per usual, and she cried uncontrollably for 10 minutes. There’s no comforting her when she gets like this; we’ve got to just let her cry it out.

-Tyler sets the girls up with Disney Jr to try to quell the grumpy fit while Laurelyn and I head into the kitchen to tackle dishes. She lays on her changing pad on the kitchen floor playing happily with her toes and babbling at me. Perfect baby.

-I get through half of the dishes before Ary jumps on the changing pad, scaring the crap out of the baby. Laurelyn starts screaming and then Ary starts crying because she feels bad that she scared her sister; she just wanted to cuddle with her. I stop doing dishes to calm them both down.

-Due to the stress of almost dying, Laurelyn wants to nurse.

-When I’m done nursing, we have an impromptu Skype call with Papa & Grandma Cheri (AKA my Dad and my Step-mom)

-I get Laurelyn set up in her chair and we head back into the kitchen. I adjust my plan to only cleaning dishes that are necessary for me to make dinner, but it still eats up another 15 minutes. I’m able to prep my veggies and pre heat the oven before I have to stop to nurse Laurelyn again.

-Just as Laurelyn is drifting to sleep, Ary yanks on the cat’s tail, who flips out at Chewbacca, making him yelp, which scares Brienne, who in turn, barks. Needless to say, Laurelyn wakes up…

-I nurse her back to sleep and make a failed attempt at laying her down.

-I come downstairs to find Ary standing on a chair next to the kitchen counter. She took one bite out of 4 of the 6 Frozen cookies that we had made earlier. WHHHYYYY???

-I try to put Laurelyn in her chair with me in the kitchen, but she is not having it. Daddy takes her, but she screams on and off through the 40 minutes it takes for me to finish dinner, despite all of Daddy’s best attempts. You should’ve stayed asleep, baby!

-While I’m plating the food, Eowyn starts singing and walking around the kitchen island and basically getting in the way with every step. We tell her to sit down and stop singing because it’s quiet time, which makes her slump over and pout. Ary is stuck in her highchair, but asks Eowyn, “Sissy, what’s wrong?” Eowyn tells her in hushed tones what happened. Then Ary says, “Awww, poor thing. It’s o-tay Sissy. Come here sweetheart.” Then Eowyn gets up and gets a hug from Ary, with the huge tray in between them. She says, “Thanks Sis. You’re the best.” I try not to cry from the cuteness of what just happened.

-We finally eat dinner; me juggling Laurelyn on my lap the whole time. During dinner, Ary has to pee which requires getting her out of her highchair and then back into her highchair. (Not to mention the fight to get her to wash her hands) Between napkin requests, water requests, and dropping forks, I get up 4 different times.

-After our delicious cookie dessert, I nurse Laurelyn. While I’m nursing: -Ary plays fetch with Brienne; Eowyn shoves Arya, making her fall down because she was frustrated with her for singing Let It Go when she wanted to play Mulan . Tyler puts Eowyn in time out; After her time out, Eowyn attempts to color, but Ary keeps messing up her pictures on purpose ; the girls played Gollum with Daddy

-Eowyn & Arya get a bath.

-BEDTIME! This involves brushing teeth (singing Doc Mcstuffins song again), going potty, one last fight with Arya to get her to wash her hands, getting Eowyn in pajamas & Arya in a Pull-Up (she likes to sleep naked), reading a Bible story, saying prayer, tucking them in their beds after they each check to make sure that their billion stuffed animals are all there, and listening to their great ideas for what we should do tomorrow.

-Watch Gotham with Tyler while nursing Laurelyn to sleep

-Laurelyn actually goes down tonight, so I get to sleep without waking up with a kink in my shoulders tomorrow.

-I come back downstairs and throw the diaper wash cloths in the washer. Then I wash the dishes from dinner because waking up to a dirty kitchen stresses me out.

-I then go upstairs around 1 am and have my quiet time with God. I’m so tired when I’m done that I decide to sleep rather than shower. I’ll shower tomorrow.

 

 

There you have it–a typical day as a stay at home mama of 3. Now it’s time to get up and do it all again.

Quiet Time: Mom Burnout

I have been so tired lately. Like bone weary exhausted. Every day.

I read a 3 day devotional series on burnout, and the last entry really struck a cord with me. It talked about how people tend to deal with burnout in 2 ways: lashing out at others in anger, or withdrawing from others. I’m an introvert, so before kids, I tended toward withdrawing unless someone tried to invade the space that I needed, in which case I would lash out. But you don’t get the luxury of being alone once you’re a mother. Especially when your children are all preschool and under. They puppy dog you all. day. long. So now, my reaction to being burnt-out is to lash out in anger. And who is around me all the time, getting the brunt of my wrath? My kids.

I hate when I lose my temper with them. Yet it happens every day.

Psalms 37:8 NLT

“Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm.”

The last thing I would ever want to do is harm my kids. They are my entire world.

But how can I conquer burnout?

It’s not like I can ask my boss for fewer hours.

The kids need to be taken care of. The dishes need to be done. Lord knows the laundry never ends.

I know what you’re all going to tell me–take time for myself; ask for help.

My husband and I just had a day date 3 days ago. It was so wonderful and we needed it so badly. But yet, here I am 3 days later feeling burnt out again.

Contrary to popular belief, I do ask for help from time to time. But if you ask for help every day, then you’ll burn out your support system.

I can’t help but feel that this issue runs deeper than simply taking time for myself and asking for help. I feel like this is an issue of the heart. My heart.

Here’s what I know: God did not put this spirit of anger inside of me. God entrusted me with the honorable and enormous task of raising tiny humans. I can not do this from my own strength. God wants me to succeed and has a plan that is already in motion to help me succeed.

I may not yet have the answer for how to conquer burnout, and I doubt that it will be found in 3 easy steps. But for now, I will take life a day at a time. I will refuse to worry. I will let go of what I can not control. I will accept the fact that I can not do everything all the time; sometimes the dishes will not get done and the laundry may be clean but unfolded. I will breathe through my days, releasing the nasty poison of anger that I allowed to seep into my heart. I will pray throughout each and every day that God will help me tame my wild tongue and temper, so that I will not harm my precious children.

And most importantly, I will extend grace to myself when I fail, so that I don’t add guilt to my burdens.