The Routine

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We have a nightly routine, one we developed after we realized Jude was pulling the wool over our eyes and feigning hunger.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of the “your baby is manipulating you with his cries” mindset.  But Jude was totally pulling one over on us for a while, waking us up every 2 hours throughout the night (which I’m okay with at one or two months but less okay with at eight or nine months) and that’s how the routine came to be.

First, Tahd gets the crying baby, either because I’m not in the room or because I am in the room but I’m in such a deep sleep I feel completely paralyzed and like I couldn’t even carry my own body weight across the room, let alone cross the room, pick up the baby, and get back to the bed in one piece.

All the while, Jude screams.

Depending on the time of night, Tahd might try some soothing strategies; this was the major addition to our routine when I finally stopped being willing to nurse more often at night than I did during the day.  It used to be that I got the crying baby first, but that habit seemed to be reinforcing the night waking, so Tahd subbed in and Jude’s night stretches have gradually lengthened.  If it’s much past 4:00 AM, Tahd won’t have much luck getting him back to sleep without me.  At this point, I’m alerted that my presence is needed, and I make my way to the bedroom, or, if I’m already there, swing by the restroom on the way to the pack n play.

Still, Jude screams.

Then, Tahd reswaddles the baby.  Yes, I know.  You don’t swaddle a 10-month old baby.  Except we do.  It’s the only way he’ll go to sleep, and I always make sure the swaddle gradually loosens while I nurse him back to sleep so that by the time he’s ready to be put back, his arms are free.

All the while, Jude screams.  And thrashes.  Do you know how hard it is to swaddle a screaming, thrashing baby?  In the dark?  When you’re not fully awake?  Tahd’s a pro at it.

At this point, I’m usually arriving back to the bedroom, and Tahd is standing by the bed bouncing a {still screaming, thrashing} Jude, who is also adding in the head-banging, a decisive move in which he arches his back and whips his head in one motion, and I’m terrified that someday soon he’s going to make contact with my nose.  I situate my pillows and climb into my spot, ready for the hand-off so I can nurse.

Tahd leans over the bed and passes the still screaming baby into my arms, and that’s when the magic happens.  The moment he hits my arms, he stops.  Completely.  As though it had never happened.  And lately, he follows up with one more thing.

He laughs.

I think we’ve been had!

The Crazies

Things have been feeling a little crazy around here, so I did what any sane person would do and ceased buying processed snacks for my family and proceeded to make my own.  Because that makes total sense, right?  Rather than buy a box of Cheez-Its, I spend my evenings in the kitchen making the dough, rolling the dough, cutting the dough, piercing the dough, and (finally!) baking them.  I also made homemade Ritz crackers.  Because obviously people who make homemade crackers need a cracker repertoire.  I don’t want to be a one hit wonder.

They’re really tasty, though!

You want to know what else is crazy?  Last night, it was dark here by 7:00.  DARK!  I am not ready to hibernate!  I am not ready for winter!  How can this be?  It’s October, friends, which means I’m ripe for Christmas music any second now.  AND I STILL HAVEN’T PUT AWAY ALL MY CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS FROM LAST YEAR!  I keep a small box in the basement to catch any strays after we move the main boxes to the attic, and I never got around to that box of strays to the attic.  Maybe next year I should just keep the tree up?  Tahd?  I’m going to do it.

Another crazy thing…

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I was on a call in the school pick-up lane, and when I finally looked behind me, this is what I saw.  Which makes me feel even more sensible for making the homemade crackers.  It’s not like my hands are full or anything.  I should probably start grinding my own wheat during all my spare time.

Also, I lost my debit card about 6 months ago.  I had it while I was sitting on the couch one night, and then the next morning, it was gone, and I had to get a new one because of all the looking and none of the finding.  Imagine my surprise when Gabe nonchalantly handed it to me yesterday.  Said he wanted to play a wii game and went to eject the disc that was in there, but a debit card popped out instead.  I’m not going to name any names, but ISLA DID IT.

In less crazy news, my 31 Days series is live over at my new site, Loving Motherhood More.  I’d love it if you join me there and subscribe to the newsletter on the sidebar!  I have all sorts of fun, non-crazy things planned for it, and none of them involve telling people how to make their own crackers.

Influence Conference Recap Part 2

(Part 1)

Do you know how amazing the inside of one’s brain feels after TWO CONSECUTIVE DAYS OF 7 HOURS OF SLEEP?  It’s kind of mind-blowing.  Which may not be news to the rest of you since apparently much of the universe gets that much sleep on a regular basis, but since I don’t, it was like my mind exploded into a billion tiny pieces and when they landed again, they reassembled into this orderly, peaceful place that felt divine. #plusoneforsleep

The last day of Influence started with a session with Jessi Connolly, called It’s Time To Build.  I laughed so much in this session; she had a delightful way of presenting heavy truths interwoven with humorous asides that made for a really nice rhythm and intensity.  Her talk made me want to hear more of her story, because she’s clearly covered a lot of ground in her life.

She told the story of how she was out for a run, praying about what he wanted her to tell us at this year’s conference as well as the theme, when God almost audibly told her, “I hate your kingdom.”  At first, she balked at the idea of telling us God hated our kingdoms until she realized God was actually telling her he hated her kingdom.  This revelation was the centerpoint around which the rest of her talk grew.  Here are some of the things she said that I’m continuing to mull over:

God loves His kingdom.  God hates my kingdom.  He loves it when I build His kingdom.

When I say things like, “Take this!  Clearly I can’t be trusted to use what I have wisely!” God says, “No, you take this and use it for me.”

God doesn’t want a better life from me.  He wants a better life for me.

Being with God is ten times better than being for God.

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Next up was Lisa Leonard.  The Lisa Leonard – the one who makes all the beautiful silver jewelry.  First off, I had no idea she did anything other than make jewelry, but she was a really insightful speaker and shared very honestly about some of the marketing strategies her company has successfully employed.  She focused especially on social media and how to most effectively interact with each medium.  She encouraged everyone to understand their brands and engage authentically because people are saturated with marketing and easily annoyed.  Instagram is her favorite platform, but she also has an extensive email subscription list and keeps a very full 6-week marketing calendar.

The third session of the day was with Nancy Ray, a photographer who is as cute as a button, but also feisty and energetic and passionate about what she does.  She talked about 10 Ways to Start and Grow Your Business, and encouraged us to do things such as setting SMART goals, focusing on consistency, making wise financial decisions, deciding to be alive, and more.  She specifically addressed time management and encouraged us to make active choices about how we spend our time rather than passive choices in which the time gets spent in the most frictionless manner.

Last but not least, I attended a session on the publishing industry.  This was a session I thought was going to cover e-book publishing, too, but it mostly focused on traditional publishing and how to write a book proposal – something that has seemed like an amazingly daunting task, but this session made it appear a little more straightforward.  Although I’d like to publish a book one day, that day is not today or probably even this year, but it was interesting to get more information on the nitty gritty of how the process works.

There were some additional meet-ups and an evening worship session, but because I was driving home alone, I decided to leave before dinner so I could make it home in good time.  That’s what I did last year, too, and it seemed to be a good break-away point.

So that was The Influence Conference 2014.  I have pages and pages (and pages!) of notes, so if anyone is looking for something specific, I’d be happy to share in more detail.  Oh – and if you’re interested in attending next year’s conference, tickets are already on sale!

Influence Conference Recap Part 1

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What do eighty degrees, a hotel room to myself in Indy, 7 hours of sleep each night, coffee, and a few hundred brave, encouraging, like-minded women make?  A really amazing weekend, that’s what!

I got back from The Influence Conference last night eager to see my family but a little bummed it was over so soon.  I’d expected good things of it, but I was pleasantly surprised at the depth and meat of some of the sessions and experiences, and I’ve come home with so much to chew on!  I’ll share the first part of the conference in this post and then will do a second post with the last day’s recap tomorrow.

Last year, I attended the conference with the intention of connecting with lots of people.  The people at Influence at wonderful – friendly, positive, and generous, and the goal of connection made my first year a success.  This year, however, I went in much more tired and overwhelmed and I went into it intending to get a little rest and catch-up time.  To do this, I should say up front that I skipped a few events, and from the looks of things in Instagram, I skipped some goodies.  I don’t regret it, though; I needed the break and the chance to work for more than a few uninterrupted minutes at a time.  I felt like I got a great mix of inspiration, information, and rest.

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Haley Morgan opened the conference’s sessions with a talk on flipping the scripts on some of the negative, inaccurate things we fear – things like insignificance, sickness, confusion, exhaustion, the unknown, and loneliness.  Some of the take-away quotes from her session included:

We all have not a lot to offer to our eternal security.  The playing field is level.

The gospel is like a diamond; it’s beautiful from a billion different angles.  Just look closely at each side and tell the world about it.

I am enough and not too much.  I have influence because I’m in Christ and Christ is in me.

Next up was one of my favorite sessions with Whitney English.  I don’t know where I was first introduced to Whitney – one of the organizing blogs I read, perhaps?  Whitney is the designer of the popular Day Designer, a series of gorgeous planners to help you plan and live your life with intention.  I’m not sure why, but somewhere along the way, I assumed if she was creating an organizing product, she must be pretty perfect and precise and accomplished, all of which added up to “intimidating” in my mind.  I couldn’t have been further from reality – she was just lovely!  She may very well be perfect, precise, and accomplished, but she was also articulate, honest, and brave about some difficult challenges faced in her life, and she spoke on a topic with which I often wrestle – failure and the fear of it.  Here are some of the quotes from her session I’ll be mulling over:

Comparison is why we fail.  How we fail is overcompensation.  During failure, we crash and burn.  After failure, we let it define us (i.e. I failed versus I’m a failure).

Comparison is a zero-sum game.  It leads to pride and arrogance if I think I’m better or discouragement if I think I’m worse.

The antidote to overcompensation is authenticity and gratitude.  In realizing we are enough, we realize we have enough.

The pain from our rock bottom is an acceptable material for sacrifice at the altar of God.

Rock bottom is a stable foundation for rebuilding.

Courage is the mechanism for killing shame.

I skipped an afternoon session in favor of doing my own thing and then caught one of the Message Revivals on words.  I don’t really understand why they called them revivals.  The one I went to was basically on publishing and was excellent, although I expected it to be more on the craft of writing than exclusively on publishing.  I enjoyed the opportunity to hear from and ask questions to one of the Christian publishing industry’s leading literary agents, Jenni Burke.  She was generous with the information she shared and offered an insightful look into the process of publishing books conventionally.

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Next came Lara Casey.  I heard Lara speak last year in one of the strategy sessions, and the weight of what she shared hung with me all year, and when I knew she’d be speaking again, it propelled me to commit to attending.  She did not disappoint.  She took us through an abbreviated version of the first half of her Making Things Happen conference, and although there were hundreds of us in the room, I came away having had a very personal, transformative experience.  I’m not even really sure how to summarize the experience, and I expect everyone’s summary would be quite different.  I came away thinking less about what she said and more about my answers to the questions she asked, questions I know were carefully chosen and artfully strung together to help us make intentional decisions that produce lasting change in our lives.

I’ll be back tomorrow with the wrap-up from the last day!

(Part 2)

Squee!!!

I’ve been working on a little project, except by “little,” I mean “not so little,” and as such, it’s been taking me an awfully long time.  Like, a year.  Shockingly, I’m finding it hard to work in short slivers of time between diaper changes and cheerios and naps and school commuting.  Go figure!  But the project?  I love it.  I’m so excited about it, and I’ve been dreaming about it for years now.

I’d be honored it you followed along!

lovingmotherhoodmore

This is a project of encouragement and hope for mothers – all mothers, whether you’re thick in the trenches with stinky diapers and middle of the night wakings or whether your littles aren’t so small anymore or even out of the house.  Everywhere I look, I see mothers who are discouraged, downtrodden, overwhelmed, uncertain.  Heck – I am many of those things, too!  But I believe it doesn’t have to be that way, and I believe we can learn to love these days more, whether they’re the days of playfulness and dreams and success or whether they’re days of mundane and conflict and challenge.

Like I said, it’s been taking a long time, and it’s not quite ready yet, but I’m preparing to launch the first part – the blog – in the Nester’s 31 Day series, which is a blogging series in which people write for 31 days straight on the same topic.

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Yikes.  That’s in 6 days, right?

Nothing like starting with a bang!

Additional components will follow later, including a newsletter, some exercises and challenges, some online workshops, and more.  I’d love to have you subscribe so you can be the first to know when it goes live!

I love my kids, and I want to be the best mother for them I can be.  I think that means equal parts immersing myself in their loveliness, embracing my role as mother, as well as richly cultivating the other facets of my identity, too.  That’s what Loving Motherhood More is – a place of encouragement  that spurs us toward becoming the mother we want to be – and, in the process, dwelling more confidently in the woman we were designed to be.

So…I’ve finally made it official!  Pop on over to subscribe, and in the meantime, I’m heading to bed since I have a 6AM yoga class in a few short hours.  Double yikes.  More on that adventure another day!

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