If You Get Lost You Can Always Be Found

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A major focus of my blog is an appeal that the “hard” things we shrink back from, are actually the GOOD things that in the end will make our lives better. Daily workouts, clean eating, natural child birth, homeschooling, building a business from home….and now, living abroad.

These things aren’t for everyone, but I feel like most of the time people focus on how DIFFICULT they all are, when in reality, when you push INTO the hard, they can be INCREDIBLY rewarding and beautiful.

But in order to do that I have to acknowledge the hard.

Yesterday was our first full day in Merida, Mexico and it was hard. We are on full sensory overload, everything looks different, smells different, sounds different. Simple things like grocery shopping are confusing and overwhelming. Add to that, four crazy kids who are constantly running all around and more than a few miscommunications between the hubby and I (oh, and NO ONE napped yesterday – no one.) and ya, it was a hard day.

Here’s the thing. IT’S OK. It’s ok to have hard days. It’s ok to try things that don’t always work. A lot of times trying things that don’t work is the only way to know it doesn’t work. Miscommunications help you communicate better. Naps missed are always terrible, sorry, no way to sugar coat that one.

So, here’s the story:

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EVERYONE wakes up at 5am, because it’s one hour different and everyone is in new, strange beds and bedrooms. Mama didn’t get her early morning time and half the bags were still yet to be unpacked. Daddy was anxious to get out and see the city and the sights, but mama wanted to settle in, organize the house and get her bearings.

Daddy’s pressure made Mama stressed, finally out in the neighborhood we go, only to be completely overwhelmed at the grocery store – kids are knocking down large, perfectly stacked mountains of fruit and asking for every new and exciting sweet treat that we don’t have in the states. Daddy and Mama are trying to convert Kilos to Pounds and Pesos to Dollars, baby is hungry and cranky.

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Finally we make it home (walking half a mile in 90 degree heat each way) and try to put everyone down for naps. SURELY they are tired. Nope, after several attempts, tantrums and desperate pleas, we give up and decide to go to the local park. Only now, it’s the HOTTEST (and I mean HOTTEST) time of the day. Which is the reason we were trying to get the kids to rest, so we could stay out later and enjoy the COOL evening. But kids don’t understand things like that.

So we are melting into the pavement, but make it to the local park, which has a small playground made entire out of METAL. The kids tried their best, they even used some of my baby wipes to place on the see saw seats so they could play one it without burning their little bottoms.

We didn’t last long, but saw on google maps that there was an dessert place just a few blocks away. We were promising our kids something sweet and delicious if they would just keep walking a few more steps!! Only, as we got to the spot, there was no dessert place. Nothing, just a house. We almost had a mutiny on our hands.

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Finally as we walked back, we found the cutest little food truck with agua fresca, kombucha and smoothies. The kids got their sweet treat, and a respite in the shade and we learned our lesson – no going out in the heat of the day.

Dinner finally got done at 8:30pm (and I literally just made fried potatoes and onions….I don’t even know what happened) and we all collapsed into bed.

There you have it. Day one. I won’t detail EVERY day for you over this next month – but day one was all sorts of challenging, overwhelming and hot as heck and still good, and learning and stretching and moving outside of our comfort zone is never easy, but when we do it we grow.

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Here’s to much more growth (and naps!) over the next four weeks!

Fighting for a Healthy Marriage

healthy marriageLet me start this blog post out with the fact that I am in no way a marriage expert (or a love expert like the adorable trolls on frozen). My husband and I have been married for almost 9 years and even typing that sounds crazy because it really hasn’t felt that long! We essentially became adults together. I got married at 21 years old, and my husband was 24.  We were just talking about how this first decade of our marriage would be classified as one of “firsts”. First time living completely financially independent, first time buying cars on our own, renting apartments on our own, having kids, buying a home, starting a business. All these firsts – all types of mistakes and figuring out life. It’s been fun, it’s been stressful, we’ve learned so much and we have grown closer as a couple and respect each other more.

This next decade we would like to have it be one of planting seeds. Now that many of the firsts are out of the way and we have somewhat of an idea of who we want to be and how we want to live, it’s time to get to work building that life. It’s time to plant seeds for our financial future, raising our children and strengthening our marriage. Hopefully later in life we will get to reap the seeds we plant now.

This weekend we got some time away – just the two of us – which we haven’t had in over two years. It’s been great to just have uninterrupted conversation, laugh together, REST, and take a look at where we are at and where we can improve, especially in our marriage.

The big thing we both felt, was lack of time to communicate deeply with each other on a regular basis. There will be DAYS that go by where we haven’t had even ONE true conversation with each other. It’s hard to love and care for your spouse when they feel like a distant stranger. Now granted, my debilitating nausea that seems to hit primarily in the evening has not helped! Most nights I am unable to move from a fetal positio12341119_10154337629388765_3376731676063828258_nn by 7pm, leaving Fernando to put the kids down alone and stealing our evening chats away. Because he leaves for work at 5:30am, the evenings are really our only time to be together – so this has been hard. But even before that, just wrangling the kids to bed each night would sometimes leave us so exhausted, especially if we had some work to do for our jobs, and we would regularly skip spending time in deep, meaningful conversation.

So, moving forward this is what we will be trying to do:

  • Continue to make weekly date nights a priority. (this is SO hard! but we have to keep trying!)
  • 3x per week go on walks together with the kids so that we can get a bit of conversation in (when we are in the house, it’s impossible, but our kids love being outside and usually while they ride their scooters around we can chat a bit)
  • Workout with Hammer and Chisel regularly together

I know that each of these points will take TONS of work to make happen. I will have to get dinner ready ahead of time to have the freedom to walk when Fernando gets home from work. We will BOTH have to be disciplined to do our workouts in the evening when we feel totally exhausted (although I do have a secret weapon for that!). And date nights…just finding someone weekly to watch the kids is a crazy difficult undertaking, let alone keeping our schedule free enough from other church and work commitments. BUT – we both know that we are committed to not just tolerating each other into our marriage, but loving – DEEPLY loving each other for the next five decades (at least) and that take work.

12311145_10154338545753765_8754362148664300970_nIt takes creating space where we can laugh and talk and also ask the hard questions. Why do you seem to be sharp with me? Where can I serve you better? Am I being selfish here? Are YOU being selfish here? Those are questions we never WANT to ask, but when we do, the conversation that comes from it is EYE-OPENING. When my husband asks me why I’m being sharp and I start to share with him the day I’ve had and break down in tears from the stress of having to deal with over 20 tantrums from between our three children and I just feel like such a failure as a mom! I never would have expressed that – even to MYSELF! If he wouldn’t have asked those questions. I would have gone to bed with that stress and those emotions bottled up inside of me, and woken up to another day without dealing with any of it. Instead he can realize I’m not attacking him, pray for me, and help me see Jesus, my helper and my peace.

I know this is a long post, and if you have stuck with me until now, I applaud you. We are not perfect by ANY stretch. We are often times selfish, quick to judge (more me that him) and lazy about fighting for our marriage, but if this glimpse into how we are imperfectly trying to build a marriage that lasts, inspires you to sit down with your own spouse, ask some hard questions, or just take a night to laugh (never underestimate the healing power of laughter) then I am thankful.

You are not alone. Marriage is not easy. But with God’s grace it can be beautiful and wonderful!
If you have any tips or words of advice for an exhausted couple with three (almost four) crazy kids on how to make time and pour energy into our marriage I would LOVE to hear!

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On this weekend getaway we have been listening to the audio book of  You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan. Even though we haven’t finished it yet, I HIGHLY recommend it!

Make the Right Choice – Brush Your Teeth

You know what’s inconvenient? Brushing your kids teeth at the end of the day. If you are a parent of toddlers you know what I mean. If you aren’t (or it’s been a while) let me set the stage. Imagine you have just run a marathon and simultaneously have had to be mentally present for every waking moment to entertain, protect, discipline, answer questions, provide meals and snacks and break up fights between 3 very cute but very loud children. The hour has come where the finish line is in sight. The kids are bathed and in their pajamas and all you want to do is read the shortest story book you can find, kiss their little foreheads and turn off the lights. You glance fleetingly at their tiny toothbrushes and think of the brushing and foaming and spitting and rinsing and you think, “ehe, we’ll do it tomorrow.” 

I am probably going to win “Worst Mother of the Year” award for this revelation, but I probably brush my kids teeth about 2 times out of 7 every week. Or, at least I did. Two weeks ago I took all three of my babies to the dentist and they did really well! No screaming, crying or having to physically restrain any of them (a first actually). However, I got some bad news. My dear son Samuel has SIX cavities. One requiring a crown. 

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My heart sank, not just because I knew what putting my 4 year old through that ordeal would be like, or what the bill would be (over $800!) but because this could have been COMPLETELY avoided. I CHOOSE this. There are some bad things that happen to us that we have no control over, brushing and flossing is not one of them, that is completely in my control. 

It was a wake up call to be sure, but I’m thankful for it. It led me to reevaluate other areas where I have been cutting corners. Telling myself that it’s ok to buy that little thing I don’t need. Or indulge in that ice cream. It’s not that doing these things every once in a while is that bad, but when those little unhealthy decisions turn into the majority of your choices (and it happens SO easily) before you know it, you’re only brushing your teeth twice a week. And there WILL be consequences. 

photo 2I needed to remember this tonight, because Fernando and I chose to have an at home date instead of spending money and going out. I was grumbling while I cooked dinner, and grumbling while I did the dishes, and grumbling as the kids ran around the house crazy. This is not convenient – this is not what I FEEL like doing. But now the kitchen is clean, the kids are *almost* asleep, and there is a pint of Haagen Daz ice cream with my name on it (hey! every once in a while is ok….it’s not a habit people!). And I not only get to spend the evening with my favorite person, but I get the satisfaction of knowing that I CHOSE the right thing.

I will leave you with this quote from one of my new favorite authors John Maxwell: 

 

 

 

Nothing creates a greater gap between successful people and unsuccessful people than the choices we make. Too often, people make life more difficult for themselves because they make bad choices at the intersections of their life or they decline to make choices because of fear. But it’s important to remember that while we don’t always get what we want, we always get what we choose. 

Fight for Thanksgiving

Of course I know I have so much to be thankful for.

But what do I FEEL?
Oftentimes I feel dissatisfied. I feel like I want more.

Part of this is just my human nature, and part of this is living in a world and culture that SCREAMS this at me (and whispers it too).

Recently my husband and I have been going back and forth over the decision to take the kids to Disney this Christmas season. We are SUCH big Disney fans, and we always talk about our dream of being Annual Pass holders. My husband will go on You Tube and watch those dreamy ads for Disney vacations over and over, and before you know it, discontent starts to drift in. We deserve Disney Annual Passes.

So, how do we fight for Thanksgiving and thankfulness? Well, I decided to make my own dreamy film, to highlight what we have to be thankful for. Yes, that’s right I am running an ad campaign, not to try to sell something, but to try and remind us of all that we have. Because if we are being convinced day in and day out that we don’t have enough,  then we need to up our game if we want to truly live in a state of thankfulness.

Another thing that I do to try and fight for thankfulness, is battle my constant desire for “productivity”. So many times after a long hard day I can look back at my “To Do” list and see such little progress (if any) and get discouraged.

“How can I be this tired, and yet have accomplished nothing?” I will often think to myself.

So, I’ve started to include a second list on my refrigerator, right next to my “To Do” list, I have a “Today I…” list, to record all the things I HAVE done in the day. And it’s typically filled with things like this:

Read a Bible story to the kids
Comforted my crying newborn
Created a fort in the living room
Baked cookies
Read books
Become a tickle monster
Prayed for my husband
Texted encouragement to a friend

Taking time to record some of the things I really do in a day, helps me to be thankful for what I get to do, and not complain over my lack of significant progress on all of the “important” tasks  that fill my “to do” list.

We have to fight to be thankful, we have to fight to see what we really have, thankfulness doesn’t just come naturally…not even on Turkey Day.