Thursday, February 28, 2013

Embrace the Camera - Thursday

I love the idea of Embracing the Camera. A blogger used to host a link up every thursday but I don't know if she does it anymore. but I still want to try to do it on thursdays. I'm not too consistent - but I do want to try as often as I can to post pictures.
I think the concept behind it is so true -our children don't care how we look, they want to see memories from us, whether its after we die or in their adulthood.  It's so easy to take pictures of my kids, my kids with their dad, my kids doing things, or my kids with their friends. But so often I'm not "looking just right" or i'm self conscious or I think the picture doesn't look quite right if I'm in it. But truthfully - when my children are older they won't care about any of that. They will want to see pictures of me, loving them and they will want to see the memories of us doing things together. So I will press on - with trying to get myself in some pictures with them, FOR MEMORY SAKE! (which is the whole reason behind this blog anyways)

So here are a few pictures of a few days here and there with the boys.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The slump of February

I know that so many people are saying how quickly this year is flying by - but I on the other hand am ready for February and winter to be over. WE are in the throes of the hardest part of winter in my opinion. This post might come across pessimistic to most - but hey - I'm kinda a realist I like to say. :)
It didn't help that we just finished a bout of stomach flu in this household that confined us more than normal to the house. Don't get me wrong - I've always loved snow, and snow storms and don't mind playing in it or going out in it - but I'm ready to be warm. I'm getting grumpier and grumpier about having to run in the cold too. I know it's my choice - but it's getting more and more difficult to wake up at 6am to bundle up and freeze for a run.
The boys are getting really antsy being confined to the house more than normal. Some of it was b/c of being so confined with sickness but we are just ready to spend hours and hours outside. :) letting the sun warm our faces and skin. We had a glimpse of it during our sick interval and we did enjoy the sunshine.

It's also still been difficult for me to deal with the loss of my baby. (but i'm chalking it up to it being february too) I want to share about it here and go into detail - but there are some things that seem so personal and I just don't even have words for my pain sometimes. I've been letting myself feel the emotions again, remembering that week long process, and grief- I feel like it's a way to remember when everyone else moves on. More and more I keep hearing of stories of woman who have had miscarriages but since then have had another precious baby - I feel like they are on the other side - and I so desperately want to be on the other side of this, to have a "happy ending."  (although please understand there is nothing that will replace my little baby in heaven) I've always been impatient and I guess it's just another situation I have to learn patience. But it is hard for me when I just have the sad part to tell people.

But I find myself clinging to God's promises more than ever. And he has been faithful through this whole ordeal and I know he will carry me. I remember a friend told me that during the first few weeks of facing the reality that I would never be able to hold my precious baby. I was scared about how to move on and thinking that I couldn't. She said, "The same God that has held you, loved you, and poured his grace on you that first few days when you found out, will be the same God to get you through the "moving on process". Wise words from a dear friend. And I find myself clinging to them as tight as ever. And clinging to a God who loved me enough to give his son for me - so why would he not give me grace through this time.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A day in the life of the Gardners

I've been thinking about doing a post like this for a while. I've seen a lot of other bloggers doing this and thought it was a cool thing. But I struggled b/c my days look so different and there are so many things that happen throughout the day that are hard to document. But I woke up and tried to do it, so here it goes. This is by no means exhaustive and by no means how every day goes. But it was sorta fun documenting it throughout the day and the boys played right along.

6 am - alarm goes off, drag myself out of bed and get my running clothes on. Most days I either run or do some sort of exercise with a dvd. So this is me in the bathroom trying not to wake anyone up before I head out to a chilly 5 mile run. 

7am - get back from run. This day Richard is walking out the door as I walk in b/c he got a call for work and needs to get there right away. So I walk into the house and right away start on my day. Get the lentils soaking for supper, drink water, make sure boys are ok (bathroom and a bowl of dry cereal to keep them occupied), put a movie in and take a shower and get dressed and check FB and instagram and email.
 8 am - eat a breakfast of champions. (dry toast, and hard boiled egg) and trying to only drink 2 cups of coffee a day! YEah! I know, it was getting that bad. So this week so far only 2 cups a day, going strong.
 This is boys with their bfast. In the 8oclock hour I make sure they have had enough to eat and are dressed for the day and eat bfast myself, and make sure we all take vitamins and everyone is ready for the day.
 9am- Put the lentils in the crockpot with all the other stuff and leave that for the day. This is the time I play with the boys and read them books (which is something they absolutely love and ask for frequently throughout the day). The baby I watch comes anywhere from 8:15-10 am in the morning and I never know when it is - so now it's a waiting game. and a time to spend with the boys.
This is how my house looks while the boys play
it looks like this 80% of the day!
10am - The baby showed up. I quick feed her a little food, and make sure the boys have their socks, shoes, coats, snacks, water bottles, and the baby has a bottle. And we're heading out the door about 10:15 for our WIC apt. This is the first time I go out with all three and I'm not meeting someone somewhere, I'm on my own. But it went great! :)
 11am - Because the WIC apt went so fast and so smoothly I decided to stop by the mall play place and let the boys run around for a while. They love it there and just run and run. The baby gets a bottle while we're out too.

 12pm - we arrive back at home and start in on lunches. I feed the boys, feed the baby her bottle and we start the clean up process before naptime/quiet time. They boys loved that I was taking pictures all day so they wanted to pose for me.
 1-2:30pm - is quiet time. I have tried to protect this time most days. For many reasons, I think my boys need a down time during the day (b/c they really do play hard non stop the rest of the day), and Landon definitely needs a nap still. I try to keep the baby's nap time during that same time although not all days work out. It's my time to check emails and respond, write blog posts, read blogs, read bible, excercise a little if I feel like it, clean things I haven't had a chance to clean, prepare for supper, do children's ministry stuff for church and EAT! (b/c normal lunch time is crazy with three kiddos lately)
Carson doesn't take a nap every day - he is slowly transitioning out of them. So some times I read him books, or do some "preschool" work with him, or we play a game together. But he also does have to sit on the couch either reading/looking at books on his own for a half hour or so and a lot of times he falls alseep.

Landon woke up about 2:30 today
and he loves to cuddle right after nap
and I love it too!

 3pm - today we had Speech Therapy (which is not normal time but had to be rescheduled this week due to sickness). So Miss Jean came for about 45 min and as soon as she left, the Baby's mom came and picked her up.

4pm - So come this time, somewhere in here it's just me and my boys again. They play while I get supper ready and we just wait and wait until we hear when Daddy is coming home. :)
Rice to go with Lentils

The best Sweet potatoes ever!!!!!
 5pm - quick clean up all the toys as much as we feel like it (or at least a little bit b/c today the toys were a mess along with my pots and pans. :) ) And wait until Richard comes home. Then eat supper with him. It doesn't happen too much b/c Richard is never home at the same time - but I like it when we get to eat our meal together

6pm - I wash dishes and clean up from dinner while Richard plays with the boys. It's so nice to be able to clean up when he is home to distract the boys. And he really loves playing with them. They look forward to it so much

 7pm - nightly football training begins (please ignore the nose picking, we're working on it. :) ) They love playing like this with him. and I love sitting on the couch watching them, making catches here and there and just laughing together about the funny things the boys come up with.

Discussing plays. :)

 7:30-8pm - Get the boys dressed in "pa-jammies" ( I love that Landon says it like that) and brush teeth, read bible story, pray and head to bed.

8-10pm - Definitely down time for me. We only get a night like this a few times a week b/c usually we have life group, or book club or dinner with people or some other event. But tonight was definitely chill time. Richard always has some studying to do either for life group or porterbrook. There's always something he has to work on. So I do odds and ends, or watch some tv. There are 2 shows that I like to watch. Or I read for my book club or something else. Definitely chill time. (this night I put this blog together. :) )

10pm - we try to be diligent about going to bed at this time. We use this time to talk to eachother and catch up on things. And then shut out the lights. B/c I get up early most mornings I'm ready to be falling asleep pretty early too.

So that's our Wednesday in a nutshell. The day is filled with laughter and running and jumping. But also a generous amount of whining and fighting and complaining and discipline times. In fact this day in particular I felt so defeated and frustrated with myself. It's so hard to teach, to instruct, to enjoy things with boys screaming, and demanding and fighting literally every other second. It's hard to not want to just sit in the bathroom, lock the door and look on pintrest b/c I just can't comfort another screaming boy, or sit and read one more book.  I know that the mother's role in her family is so crucial with her demeanor and that my boys watch me so much. But still I fail so often. I constantly question myself if I'm doing it the right way. If my boys will see Jesus in me, and the love of their Heavenly Father through me. Or if I'm just getting obedience from them and not the heart. I want so desperately to respond well, to lay down my life for all their daily little needs - but it's so hard some days. So I went to bed crying out to God for forgiveness, for strength for the new day. More thankful than ever that He loves me despite my selfishness with my boys and my sinfulness, claiming his new mercies every day.

I would love it if you other fellow bloggers did something like this. It's fun for me to see into other people's lives and see what goes on. :) Looking forward to reading about your days. :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The day of Love

I wasn't really going to document the day - but then this V-day while we were out on our date we tried to remember all the 8 valentine's days we've been together and there was like 3 we couldn't remember and they weren't in my blog to help me. So I decided to document it, so I can remember this one. Ha

My day started out with an early (6am) 5 mile run with my dear running friends. I love that I have a group to meet and run with and talk and catch up and hang out. It's been one of the best things for me since moving here. Such a diverse group of ladies, mostly all quite a bit older than me and from totally different walks, but it's so fun to have that bond with running and feeling healthy.

As soon as I walked in the door around 7am Richard had the boys all dressed and ready to walk out the door. The boys came rushing to me with cards that he helped them make and some chocolate.  I hardly had time to set down my gloves and water bottle b/c we rushed out the door and went out for breakfast - which happens to be one of my all time favorite things to do. (we had to make it back in time for me to watch the baby that I watch).

We got home and gave the boys their little gifts - Undewear and Paints - they need the undies and they love paint these days. So it was a good gift. I had bought the conversation hearts but a package that provided a pen safe to ingest and bland hearts so all day I left little personalized candies for him to find. I thought that was a fun little idea for him.

I wrote about the wonderful couple that volunteered to watch our kids for us - so we dropped off the boys and had our date night. But for the boys they got pathetically shaped heart quesadillas. :)
We went to El Monte - which is a great Mexican restaurant. But it's a little more upscale food than you think of when you think Mexican - and we had a very enjoyable evening.

The only sad part is - Landon started throwing up that night (it's not fun having a romantic evening and then waking up out of a dead sleep to puking in the middle of the night, then spending the rest of the night on the living room floor with you poor helpless child. But at least we got out. :) ) - so when I thought we were cleared, we weren't! And we've been battling it still. I got a tiny bit of something - but the rest of the family has been very sick. Carson and boys seemed better today finally - but Richard is sick. YUCK!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The biggest scam holiday of the year

I am in full agreement with all the men out there that buck against and refuse to celebrate the Grand Ol' Holiday of Valentine's Day. I think it's a weird gimmick that commercialism uses to suck more money so unnecessarily out of our pockets in so many areas.

However - It's kind of a cultural thing. And I'm so thankful that despite all the commercialism it's a fun day to spend with people you love. Richard is also in agreement with all those men out there - but I'm so thankful that he will still use the day to show me his love in all different ways.  And the holiday is all what you make of it. What's wrong with picking a day out of the year to really emphasize to family and friends how much they mean to you. (and also your husband or boyfriend/girlfriend)  Of Course I agree you need to be doing this all year long, but it's sorta a fun holiday to celebrate.

This year there is a wonderful couple in our life group was willing to sacrifice a date night for themselves and offered to watch kiddos from our life group so that the adults could do whatever they wanted. SAY WHAT!!?!!?!?? This couple was newly married this summer, they are awesome with kids and they have none of their own yet. What kind of couple does this????!!? . . . .  This wonderful couple. They have become dear friends to us and we love them greatly. I will admit that never in my wildest dreams would I have even thought to offer this to families my first v-day married - let alone actually sacrifice like this.  And it means the world to me that they will watch my kids.

So tomorrow night Richard and I will have a wonderful date night - free of childcare costs and free of children. (except I'm still waiting for someone else to catch the stomach bug that Carson had, but still crossing my fingers that it doesn't happen b/c I will be super bummed if we can't go out b/c of sickness)

Richard and I have been married for over 6 years now. Without getting all mushy on you - I could not be happier with this man! I think the longer I am married to him the more I realize it too. Never did I even think to make sure he was a hard worker, how easily he would love and forgive me, how much he would love his children, or stay loyal to his friends. But all these ways that Richard is are reasons why I could not be happier with him. I didn't even know how good he actually was for me when I married him - But he is absolutely perfect for me. And one area I admire the most is his willingness to forgive me, look past my faults and love me unconditionally - an area I really need to work on. We have walked through a lot together and he has honestly been my ROCK! We have moved 3 times across the country and changed apartments 5 times. We have gone through emergency C-Section, another baby born 6 weeks early and spent time in the NICU. He has been my rock through the loss of my precious baby at an early stage, and when he can't understand my sadness he sits with me and lets me cry. We have started over with our friendships (due to moving) 3 different times and through it all - HE IS MY BEST FRIEND!

I wonder what the next 6 years will hold with him

So Happy Valentine's Day everyone! 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

10 Random Facts Friday on Sunday

1. We are home from church b/c the stomach bug has officially reached our house. I was knocking on wood as long as possible with our health but it's over. (I think right before Christmas the boys got sick and I thought it would be the stomach bug then, but turned out it wasn't. They were not sick very much at all). Now IT IS! Carson was up all night long and can't keep anything down. :( It's so sad. Now the dreading of "who's next" starts.

2.There's nothing worse than falling asleep and anticipating a good, solid night's sleep and being woken up with a child screaming and throwing up all over your bed. :)

3.I do not handle throw up well. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit that I cannot deal with it at all. Richard always cleans it up and I truly love him ten times more b/c of it! Although he doesn't have an option b/c if he made me do it - he would eventually be cleaning up double the amount. So he knows it's worth just him doing it the first time.

ok - enough about that!
4. We got a new camera last week (with money saved from Christmas). So expect my pictures on this here blog to improve hopefully a lot. :)

5. This week we had our first Women's retreat at our church. We were hoping that 50 ladies would attend and we had over that. It was just at our church building, Friday night and all day Saturday   It was fun planning it and putting it on. I was in charge of a dessert bar on Friday night. It turned out awesome and looked so good. But I really can't take any of the credit. I basically just put food on the platters. The whole time was just so refreshing and wonderful to spend with the ladies. We were challenged to combat fear with love, challenged to love the "hard to love" b/c of God's love freely given to us.

6. Richard was home with the boys the whole time. He does awesome with them. The truly adore their father! I could not ask for anything more.

7. He took some pictures with our new camera b/c he knew i would want to blog - isn't that true love. :)
This picture absolutely cracks me up!

8. We finally bought some more firewood last night - and I love having a fire in our fireplace.

9. I'm still having issues with my knee when I run. :( It's so discouraging. I think I've tried mostly everything except for cutting back on running so that's my last resort. :( I hope it heals quickly

10. My boys are literally obsessed with Super Heroes. But mostly specifically Spiderman.

Monday, February 4, 2013

How Motherhood has changed me

When I look back at the first few months of motherhood I just laugh (and then feel embarrassed or conviction). Oh the judgements I passed, the self-righteous thoughts, the lack of understanding and the prideful thoughts. It's only been 4 short years of mothering for me - but I've grown and changed so much. I thought I knew it all, I thought I had it all under control and I could do everything and was raising my 3 month old the "right? way.

Now after growing more and having gone through a couple more stages, after God teaching me compassion and understanding for others, after meeting so many other moms and talking about their stories, and after God convicting me of my own sinfulness - I've changed.

Now I know a lot of first time moms don't have this experience with their first babies -but for me - my 3 month old baby boy - was sleeping through the night, I was working from home part time and he was on a good schedule. He wasn't collicky and overall he was a happy baby, although I did have my own issues with breastfeeding.  I thought I knew just the right way to get a baby to sleep, I knew just how to get a baby to not be picky, that i knew the right way to have a baby that could sleep anywhere. And I cringe every time I see my old self and the thoughts I had about motherhood.
Then reality of the lack of control us mothers actually do have on our days hit me. My child started waking up random times or not sleeping when I needed him to. He has always been picky about food. Then I had another baby boy come along. Then they were both toddlers at the same time and now I find myself questioning daily if I'm even doing the right thing for them. What should I change to help them more? How can I teach them better? Why is that I''m doing not getting the results I thought I would?
 Now I'm a mother claiming the Grace of God daily. Pleading with Him that despite my failings to remain calm, to respond well in situations, to provide a good calm answer - God will be pricking my boys hearts. I have been overwhelmed so many times with how to handle the situation correctly, or what to change to help my 3 year old out. I've been at a loss of what to change or fix or why they are not responding to my tactics.

Now I understand - each mother's personality is different. Each baby is different than the rest. Each household is run differently. Each family is in a new phase or stage of life and that influences/affects how you mother in that instant.  I think back at the more experienced mothers that were my friends when I was starting out - and they must have thought I was crazy. I thought i knew it all and that I had all the right answers. And they knew what was coming. But they were gracious enough to not say those things to me. :)

Then I had a miscarriage and whole other sense of understanding came along. My whole view of motherhood was rocked. No longer do I take it for granted. No longer do I let the days pass by where I'm not completely overwhelmed that I have two precious healthy boys that God gave me. My idea of what I wanted my family to look like has been "rocked". I wanted all my kids close in age and before I turned 30. How ridiculous of me to even expect something like that to work out. Now I don't pass judgement on a family that has weird age spans between their kids - I want to ask them their story and hear how they got to where they are.
No longer do I criticize the mother who has a screaming toddler, or the kid who breaks everything in sight. I know they must be feeling what I feel most days. "God, please give me wisdom to handle this, and strength and discipline to stay consistent". That's what I say anyways.

My eyes have been opened to the reality that there are so many different people in the world. So many situations that I don't understand or know - so I have no right to criticize or judge. And although I do believe we have a God-given responsibility to rear our children biblically, teaching them biblical principles and expect certain things from them - We won't all look the same.
I wonder how different I will be in 4 more years? I pray that God will give me wisdom, love and understanding. I pray that people can see my joy in staying home and mothering my children with intentionality - but that it's only b/c of God's gift of Grace in my life. And I pray that most of all - US MOTHERS STICK TOGETHER on this journey that is so unique.
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