Audrey & Bethany NEED your help meeting a need!

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Every year at Christmas, one of the company I work for (my parent’s company) has a “Food for Friends” drive that pivots around our company open house. Suppliers, trades, customers, friends and even, at times strangers make donations to our local food bank and each year blow our minds with their generosity. It’s overwhelming to stand, at the back of my Mom’s Honda Pilot, looking at the mass amounts of food, diapers and supplies given out of the goodness of people’s hearts.

For Bethany & Audrey, it’s one of their favourite parts of the Christmas season. They love having the privilege of helping us deliver the food to the local Salvation Army and eagerly help load food hampers with us for families in need in out community.

When we had kids, Corey and I set out to raise women who have “Jesus’ heart”, who are kind, generous and loving. Little did we know that HE gave us girls with so much more than we could ever teach them. Their love for helping – whether it’s me in the kitchen or kid who’s sad is such a beautiful thing. They were born with the desire to serve and we try, as often as we can to give them avenues in which they can do it.

Recently, a need in our community came to our attention and its direct connection to our lives & our hearts resulted in all of us feeling like we HAD to do something…and so we are! (secret: We’re inviting YOU to help too!)
Most of you know that a year and a half ago Audrey was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. The means that for the safety of her body she can’t eat anything that contains gluten! It will harm her, both in immediate physical symptoms and long term permanent damage to her little body. It was a hard diagnosis to swallow, but one we have grown to appreciate and embrace. It changed her life and it has made us so much more aware of a different kind of need.

Someone with Celiac disease needs to eat “Gluten Free” foods (certified) for their body to function properly and be safe. That means it can’t contain wheat, rye, barley or triticale (among other things), nothing that contains gluten. In general, we have found this to be not so difficult. Fresh fruits, vegetables & meats are all naturally gluten free, as are non-gluten grains (rice, millet, sorghum) etc. Where you run into the cost, and potential problem in this diet is when it comes to bread, dairy products, pasta, cured meats, crackers and canned goods. Many things, MANY of them that you would think are gluten free – like a can of mushroom soup, are not. They are filled with gluten – and there for seriously dangerous to a Celiac.

The items that are gluten free are significantly more expensive than their wheat counterparts and this diagnosis can take a real toll on your grocery bill. For those living on meager means, or needing assistance, this can feel or even be nearly impossible.

See where I’m going with this?

Last week we learned that our local food bank and food banks around Canada have very little in regards to gluten free foods. In fact, the lady I spoke to said there are times they have almost no gluten free foods to offer to a family in need who are facing Celiac disease, or wheat allergy. She said there are times they come and look through the canned foods available and can’t find almost anything safe for them. Unfortunately, the majority of what gets donated to a food bank, the things they are able to keep in stock for families in need are things that are packaged & canned. These are the very things that people like our Audrey can’t have.

When we learned this our hearts broke and the girls were filled with questions – “How did we not know this was happening?”, “WHY is it happening?” and more importantly “How can we fix it?”

The answers are simple – we didn’t know it was happening because we didn’t think to ask. The reason it’s happening is because NOBODY else knows there’s a need either, and what we can do about it why I’m writing this blog post!

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From August 15 – 18 2016 Audrey and Bethany are holding their first ever GLUTEN FREE FOOD DRIVE! And as an added bonus they’re raffling off 2 Chilliwack Chiefs Kids Jerseys (you earn an entry when you donate)
We will be collecting Gluten Free donations for our local food bank, doing our best to not only fill their shelves with foods safe for everyone but also to create awareness in our community, and communities around Canada about a need that needs meeting! This is a problem we CAN fix – if you’re willing to help us.
Here’s how you can help:

  1. If you live in the Chilliwack/Fraser Valley area purchase some gluten free food and contact me. We will have a collection location for you to drop off your food
  2. Tell your friends about Audrey & Bethany’s Gluten Free Food Drive and invite them to participate
  3. If you live ANYWHERE else in Canada purchase a few gluten free items & donate them to your local food bank.
  4. Consider running your own Gluten Free Food drive and help your local food banks
  5. Share this blog post/Facebook event and help spread awareness to a growing need
  6. Leave a comment and share with us how YOU would like to help

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Helping someone else isn’t a chore friends, it’s a choice. Today we care daring you to make a choice to acknowledge a need and do what you can to meet it!

Your Children Are Only Young Once: Your Dishes Can’t Wait & Your Clothes Are Starting To Smell

Dishes can't wait

“The dishes will wait, your children are only young once”, “Leave the housework until later & play with your kids, they grow up so fast”, “There will always be work, your kids won’t always be at home”.

Whether you’re having tea with a mother who’s children are all grown, or scrolling through Facebook – these platitudes are everywhere.  They’re based in good intentions, said by those who miss the “yesteryear” and shared by those who’s children are asleep after a day of terrorizing their home (you know, when they look so sweet & peaceful that you feel like your heart is going to explode with love.  It’s the opposite feeling to when your brain is going to explode from hearing “But MOOOOOM, SHE….” and “You are the WORST mother EVVVVER!”).

Regardless of who shares it, I believe they all have the best of intentions – to encourage parents in busy, fast paced world to prioritize their children.  In an effort to make them feel special, loved & important & to avoid regrets later in life. 

I get it, we DO need to pour into our kids.  We need to put down the devices, close the laptops & look into their eyes when they’re speaking.  We need to soak up the snuggles, read stories, have “yes kids” days (we plan those days where they throw out suggestions and I do my best to say yes to all of them) and be present with them.  

There are times it’s OK to do a puzzle instead of the dishes & dress Barbies rather than fold yesterday’s laundry.  We all want to LOVE them and doing those things sometimes will absolutely make them feel just that, valued & loved.

Which is great, but we also have a job to do.  Those platitudes & the behaviour they promote are threatening the successful product of that task.  

Our #1 job as parents is to raise upstanding, responsible, compassionate, confident people, who not only have the wings but the skills to take flight when the adult years come.  No matter how much we love them, no matter how much we’ll miss them, they won’t stay at home forever and when the time comes for them to leave – WE need to be confident that they’re prepared to succeed.

And that, my friends is where I call BS on the whole “it will wait” movement.

Now, more than ever we are living in a destructive, self centered, selfish world.  The statistics coming in show that children & the young adults coming up through the ranks are the most narcissistic, entitled generations we’ve ever seen – and that scares me.

These brilliant young people lack social skills, struggle to maintain a job because they don’t have good work ethic, & they seem sad, missing the self worth that comes from a job well done. They also feel very strongly that the world owes them something.  

Um, HELLOOOOO – NOBODY OWES YOU ANYTHING.  If you want it, WORK for it!

I can’t help but think that our desperate need to full fill our kids, paired with the fact that we’re so bloody worried about not hurting their feeling is one of the major contributing factors to why we’re looking at such a social mess. 

Maybe if our kids had to wait a little more, maybe if they had to self entertain (without the aid of technology), maybe if they had to pitch in a help & even have to re-do a job 3 times over until it’s done right – they wouldn’t grow up feeling like victims.  Maybe they’d grow up feeling like warriors, capable of doing anything, being anything & achieving it all through hard work.

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As the mother of a 9 and 7 year old, I certainly can’t claim to be an expert on parenting, then again I don’t really think anyone can.  I am however, the product of parents who invested in us while still managing to do the laundry & provide home cooked meals served on clean dishes.  I’m walking proof that this theory doesn’t damage the heart of your children, I always did & still do feel overwhelmingly loved & important to my parents.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t EVER put aside your chores and focus on your kids.  I’m just saying you shouldn’t ALWAYS make your kids the most important thing in the room.

I believe whole heartedly, that it’s OK to make them wait until you’ve finished a conversation to speak to you.  Just like it’s OK to do the dishes and ask them to help, do laundry instead of playing Lego and pass out consequences when there is attitude dripping off their words (even in public).

I Want my Children to Know I Believe in Them!

Desperately I want our children to know I believe in them.  By giving them jobs, I’m teaching them I believe they can do it.   By making them wait, I’m showing them I believe they have good manners.  By doing the dishes instead of playing with them, I show them I believe they are capable of creating their own fun.

No matter how much time we give to our kids, I think those regrets will still come.  Not because we didn’t do enough, but because we will miss them.  Sadly, no matter how many hours we do or do not invest, nothing will stop that growing up from happening.  It’s the inevitable part of life, like grey hair & acne (at the same FREAKIN’ time over here?!!).  

I don’t know about you but if I can’t slow down the growing up process, I’d rather spend my years building into our girls in a well rounded way.  I’m going to guess, since you’re here and you’ve made it this far, that you feel the same way too.

So, I want to encourage you today!  Go ahead, wash those clothes so you don’t stink and grab your kids to help put away those dishes.  

Then when the jobs are all done, gather them up, curl up on the couch (with leftover Easter chocolate) and “fill their buckets”.  You can tell them what a great job they did, how proud you are of them and you’ll all feel accomplished loved.

Finding Grace in Small Things: The Thanksgiving Edition

I can’t let Thanksgiving weekend go by without stopping to take the time to find God’s beautiful Graces in our lives.  This year in particular, after a week and half of exhausting illness, I am completely overwhelmed by the grace we were extended even in the grossest of hours…

5. Kids who were SO brave, when they were SO sick:

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(Bonus: Her snaggle tooth came out too!)

Like I said the other day, this stomach flu was horrible.  It hit our kids (and eventually hit both Corey and I) so hard, they threw up more violently than I’ve ever seen them do before and they were so unbelievably brave.  They didn’t whine or complain, they apologized for “being a pain” (which they weren’t and made me almost cry…) and they were so sweet while feeling so bad.

Then when I was sick they were so quiet, so helpful and completely compassionate.  God’s given us good kids, really, really good kids!

4. A Mom who STILL steps in to take care of her family:

Grammy's Girls 2013

(An old photo but let’s be honest, nobody was taking family puke photos this week)

She doesn’t have to.  I’m a grown woman with children of her own, my Mom by all rights could just write us off.  She could tell us she loves us and send us on our way to figure things out but she doesn’t.  Instead, when this stomach flu hit she stepped up to help.  From driving kids to school, to delivering Perrier water & orange juice at 7pm to help soothe my tummy, she was there to help us through it all.

Over the past 8 years I’ve lamented many times how blessed we are to live close to my parents and we are but this last week I realized something else.  It’s not living close to them that is our blessing – it’s who they are that is our blessing.  God has given us, given me a continual piece of his grace in the heart, hands and hugs of my Mom.

3. Cross Country races:

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Bethany ran in her first cross country race just over a week ago (pre-puking).  The day was beautiful, she was confident and I was overwhelmingly proud. As I watched my girl cross the finish line I was actually blown away to find my eyes filling with tears.

The look of accomplishment on her face, the joy in seeing her not only complete the race but give it her all hit my heart deep.  I never would have had the confidence nor the willingness to do anything like that as a kid.  Now, as a health & fitness enthusiast my heart exploded in pleasure seeing my girl excel at something physical!

2. A local butcher who carries organic Chicken:

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I realize to most people this probably seems silly but to me it’s completely serious.  Over the last few years my corn allergy has escalated to the point where consuming beef & chicken that have eaten corn, cause me a great deal of pain.

The Town Butcher, is a local meat shop here that carries meat from local farmers.  They have grass fed beef that doesn’t eat corn & organic chicken, that again wasn’t fed corn.  Being able to make not only my own homemade stock, but homemade chicken soup that I could eat too is a huge blessing.  Nutritious, delicious and safe – a huge and incredible slice of grace.

1. Reading & Growing:

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Last night, as the rain and wind pounded our house, Corey, Bethany and I sat in our living room listening to a story.  Audrey has progressed far enough in her reading abilities that she can now read us a story!  Bethany sat next to her on the couch and gently coached her the the “tough” words and I again felt my heart swell with pride.  They are such great kids, and despite the way they fight, these moments let us see that they really do love each other.

Grace in Small Things is a social network created by Schmutzie to wage a war against imbitterment!  Check out my first post here.

Please pass the disinfectant

Sick Bethy

Fact: Schools are buildings filled with young, impressionable minds, great ideas and the most DISGUSTING GERMS EVER.

I don’t know if it’s because they lick each other when we’re not looking (I wish this were a joke…) or if it’s because covering your mouth & using a tissue (not your sleeve) is so 1999 or if it’s because the building is old and its heating vents double as bacteria guns but it’s something.  And whatever that something is, it needs to change/disappear/die so these kids can be healthy & these mamas can get sleep!

Our girls have been back in school just over a month and they have been hit with the worst flu I have ever seen.  It started with Audrey, who’s stomach and lower body were covered in itchy spots (not chicken pox) that turned into blisters that look like they may scar (though she didn’t scratch).  Then a day later at 5:30am I woke up to the poor little bug puking.

She threw up so much and so hard that she blew a blood vessel in her eye and smashed her little face off the toilet.  She spent 4 days so sick battling the tummy bug while her body worked hard to suppress an underlying fever.  

Monday she finally seemed somewhat on the mend and despite the fact that the fatigue is still pretty intense (and not helping with some of the other issues we’re working through) I thought maybe this family was winning.

Then midnight came and I woke up to Bethany – puking.  She proceeded to lose the contents of her stomach every 15 – 20 minutes for the next 8 hours.  The process has slowed down some now but she is still so sick.  My heart breaks for her, how rotten she feels and because she’s being so sweetly brave.

Sick sucks.  Whether your kid has the stomach flu, a cold or a broken bone – an unwell child hurts my heart deeply.  

It also leaves me terrified the germs are going to spread and I have been Lysol wiping any and every surface I possible can.  I’ve washed my hands until they’ve cracked and bled and at times I’ve seriously considered even Lysoling the children….except I don’t.

I know it’s not just us, kids are dropping like flies at the school right now, courtesy of this bug & a wicked cold going around.  I know it’s just the nature of school, but I don’t have to like it.

In fact, I hate it!  I feed our family healthy, clean (often) organic foods.  We exercise together and apart.  We have good bedtimes & keep our home clean.  There are vitamins and probiotics, all the “right” things, we even had homemade chicken soup where even the broth was homemade and STILL we get sick.  

Really, what it boils down to is life.  You can do your best, with your diet, with your lifestyle, with your habits and while it all helps, there is no sure guarantee for good health, happiness or parenting.  We have only one choice – do our best, be as diligent as we can and then roll with the punches (and the pukies).

That or maybe we could just start Lysoling all our children in the morning…

What is YOUR best remedy for a tummy bug?  How do you help your kiddos feel better?

The Happy Sad

Sisters

School has been back in session for a week and we are beginning to settle into our new/old routine.  They’re in Grade 1 and Grade 3, and I’m still kind of confused as to how we got here so fast!

I’ve also realized that I’ve learned a few things about life, and the “Back to School Season” over the past 4 years…

1. Last minute Back to School shopping is crazier than Walmart on Christmas Eve.  Those parents are hard-core!  For reals!  They’re like beat you with a binder, ram you with a shopping cart crazy.  Their children can be seen trying to hid in a stack of backpacks while their throwing it down over the last glue stick and whine over prices. It’s good times my friends, good times.

Take my advice shop way in advance, when the sales are hot and the shelves are well stocked.  This will give you time to find everything on your school supply list and will save you a trip to the ER.

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2. Children’s behaviour leading up to “back to school” gets emotional.  Ok, it gets even MORE emotional than normal.  The combination of being completely sick of each other, mixed with the anxiety/apprehension about a new teacher & a new class makes for some seriously moody children.  

I’m learning (and often failing) not to take those moods too seriously.  I’m also learning it’s not appropriate to giggle when they swing from laughing to crying, to raging to laughing and finishing with a sobbing fit all in the span of a TV commercial break.  It doesn’t help…trust me.

3. Labeling school supplies is fun, tedious but fun.  Also, it’s a Mama’s job, DON’T LET THE KIDS HELP THEY’LL MESS IT UP! (Aaaand you’ll end up with a wicked cramp in your writing hand if you don’t order/print some labels.  Which I did, and it helped)

Ya, I’m a geek.  I can’t help it I was born that way.  Pretty labels, tidily printed names, new pencils and crayons all lined up ready to go make me happy.  It took 2 hours but I was happy to go through it all.  Each time my girls pick up a pencil or open their binder they’ll see their name, in my printing and hopefully they’ll know it was put there with love.

4. This season leaves me feeling “The Happy Sad”.

As our girls head back to school my emotions go a little crazy too.  It’s like having your period and watching a Friends, and then there’s a sad commercial and you just can’t cope! (PIVOT!)(If you didn’t get the reference we can’t be friends, don’t read this)(or go HERE, then we can be friends again).  

Our kids are ready for a change of pace, they’re sick of me and at times (like when they’re fighting over a stuffie like sumo wrestlers over a hoagie) I’m kinda sick of them.  They need other kids, adults & activities to fill their days and so do I.  The time apart gives us all something new to talk about at dinner & knowing it’s coming leaves me happy.

On the other hand, I love these little creatures.  They’re over all really great kids, kind compassionate and smart little girls who fill my bucket on SO many levels.  The time is zipping by fast & I do my best to cherish most our days together.  Seeing them go off to school, knowing how fast it flies by leaves me sad.  

In the midst of all those feels I try my best to give my girls a gift my Mom gave to me.

Never once did my Mom make me feel unwanted.   Instead I felt loved, important (punished, indignant and like a slave at times…because I had to unload the dishwasher – the injustice!) and valued because of the words she chose to say, and the things she chose not to.

She never told us she was happy we were gone, or that she couldn’t wait for us to go back to school, and I try to do the same. 

Instead I tell them I’m excited for their new year, that I know they’re going to love their teacher/class & I can’t wait to hear about each day but I will miss them.  And when they go back I sincerely do.

Of all the lessons I’ve learned over the past 4 years, the one that stands out the most is that time with our kids is precious.  When we look back on the days, months, years that have pasts the hard times will easily be eclipsed by the good memories and time is moving at warp speed.  

Angel Kisses

Back to school always leaves me feeling the “Happy Sad” but each night as I watch my girls sleep, that too slips away.  Instead I’m left feeling incredibly, overwhelmingly blessed by the little girls I get to call mine.

“The Talk” across the Years

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I had the rare opportunity the other day to have the house to myself for a few hours.  Corey & the girls were out, I’d finished running in 82 different directions and decided to push aside the massive guilt cloud and sat down to watch a little TV.

(Side: Am I the only one who has a few hours to herself and ends up filling it with groceries, house work & errands? Please tell me I’m not.  I just always feel like I should be doing things that are responsible and I shouldn’t be doing things that are fun.)

Anyways, I was watching a very grown up show (OK, let’s be honest….I watched 90210 because I’m cool like that.) (Also because HELLO 90’s I MISSED YOU!) with the intention of letting my over working brain unwind. 

However, not long into things the topic of sex came up.

If you grew up in the 90210 era you know that sex was basically the center of any & all story lines.  Each episode seemed to revolve around someone “doing it”, someone else not “doing it”, if they weren’t “doing it” they were talking about it, or the rest of the world was dreaming about which one they’d choose if THEY could, ya know… “do it”.  (Oh, yes you did, you know you did, we ALL did!)

As I giggled my way through the innocence of the episode a different reality hit me.  No longer am I seeing these characters through they eyes of a teenager, I’m seeing them through the eyes of a mother.

And I had a heart attack. 

We haven’t even had the full “sex” talk with our girls yet and all of a sudden I was picturing my future.  The talks we are going to have when they are little, the way those talks are going to evolve as they get older and the role those conversations will play in the choices they make.

I know the message I want to send them about sex, about God’s plan for it in their lives (believe it or not, I believe He intends for it to be an excellently, awesome part of their lives.  When they are married.), about choosing to wait until they are married and all of the things in between.

I also know the part of those conversations where I have to be real, to be raw and explain that I am not necessarily speaking from a place of example but rather experience and sometimes even a place of regret. 

Despite being raised in a Christian home, with supportive parents, and good strong morals, I didn’t always make the right choices (um, hello sin nature).  As a young girl I swore I’d wait until marriage, I wore a purity ring and I was sincerely convinced I would wait but I didn’t.  Temptation and circumstance bested me and I made choices, more than once to give that part of my body, of my heart to someone who didn’t end up my husband.

I knew the consequences those choices could have in the moment, on me but I had no idea how they would affect my future, as a wife, as a mother.

As the scenes from the show passed by so did my life choices.  I really began thinking about how the things I have done, the things that happened in my past will shape my girls’ future.  Will they hear those stories and make wiser choices?  Will they want to emulate them, ignore them or hide their heads under their pillows?  While there is no doubt in my mind that I will be truthful, I do wonder if I’ll have the courage to allow that truth to also come with the emotions that those memories hold.

Our future as parents is filled with unknowns.  If having newborns teaches us nothing else it’s that all that we think we know is a fallacy and our best laid plans are actually recipes for disaster.

So, I won’t play the “what if game” because it won’t do me any good.  Worrying about it now won’t change anything but I will think about it and pray for all that is to come. I will pray that the words that I say, the conversations we will have will prepare them, protect them and empower them to do what they believe is right. 

How do YOU feel about your children, you past and the conversations you’ll have about their futures?

*Please know that if you disagree with our opinion of what God’s plan is for marriage & sex that is OK, no judgement here.  We respect everyone’s right to an opinion and I’m certainly not going to force mine on you.  However, this is my space, and just like I try to live my life authentically I promise to do the same here, which means sharing who I am & what I believe.*

Victory – Ah

Victoria Family - Serious

A few weeks ago we took our first family trip since Audrey’s diagnosis back in February.  The idea of travelling has felt incredibly overwhelming for me and to be honest, fear had up until that point overtaken any desire I’d had to go away.  

The idea of trying to safely feed her and make a trip enjoyable felt near impossible.  I’ve finally come to the place where I feel like our home, though a dual kitchen (gluten AND gluten free products served here) is a safe place for our girl.  I prepare the food, I clean/scrub the kitchen, I’m constantly hunting crumbs & reading labels.  I know how to avoid cross contamination and ultimately, here…

I’m in control.

Victoria Family - Silly

The trouble with life is that we’re never really truly in control.  God is.  Just ask the weatherman, every time he thinks he has it “all figured out” God’s like BOOM you said sunshine?  Here’s rain!  Control is a figment of our imagination and truthfully, the thing that holds us back the most.  

At least, the pursuit of that control is what holds me back.

Victoria Weight in Gold

So, I decided to let go (a little) of it and plan a family trip.  I spent hours and hours and hours researching cities to travel to.  Predominantly Corey & I wanted to either go “home” to Kelowna or back to “our city”, Victoria.  They are the two places in this beautiful province that our little family love the most.

It turned out that of the two not only was Victoria the city with accommodations still available (I could find NOTHING in Kelowna) but it’s rated as one of the safest cities in BC for a Celiac to travel to – score!

Victoria - Hats BethVictoria - Hats Audrey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After contacting many hotels, I got in contact with the staff at the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe hotel.  The resident reservations specialist Kyra that helped us out was phenomenal!  Not only did she help us book a room, but she sent us information about where would be safe to eat with Audrey, including maps.  She had the hotel restaurant manager contact us with all the required information about the gluten free menu and she even stayed late one day to talk with me on the phone, answering all my questions.  

I spent the days coming up to our trip planning, list writing, cooking and preparing.  I knew what meals we were going to eat out, and had spoken with the head chef or restaurant managers of each of those locations.  I’d also packed enough food to prepare many of our meals in our hotel room (something I always have to do for) confident that we could make this work.

And we did!

Victoria - Delta Cookies

We arrived at our hotel to find out the Kyra had not only taken care of our needs pre-trip but she’d gone way above and beyond, heading over to Origin bakery, a very popular gluten free bakery in Victoria to purchase Gluten Free (Corn Free) cookies for our girls to find on their arrival, and left them with a beautiful hand written note.  The look on BOTH girls faces was enough to give this mama tears. (ps. this isn’t a sponsored post, I just want to share the good things we experienced!) 

Victoria Sisters 1

We shopped, we played at a really awesome park Corey remembered, they swam, I hit the hotel gym(!), we got caught in a thunderstorm & INTENSE downpour, we visited the museum and we laughed.  We ate pizza in bed and took silly pictures, because that’s what we do.

Victoria - New York Fries

More than anything we enjoyed being a family, and life felt normal.  

The four of us needed that trip, we needed to just be able to be a family and to spend time doing the fun things, forgetting about everything else.

Life is moving by at lightning speed, our girls are growing up too fast & while I can’t stop those things from happening, I am making sure to enjoy each one of these moments as they happen.

The Dead Green Thumb

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From My God’s Garden

I come from a long line of gardeners – my Mom, my Dad, my Nan, even my brother can grow unending bounties of things.  Flowers, cucumbers, pumpkins, blueberries, tomatoes, roses, the lists of things they manage to grow in abundance seems a mile long.  

It goes beyond just having a “green thumb”, I think their insides are completely green – heck if you close enough, I bet even their pee is green!  (Also, you’re peeing green you should see someone about it…that’s not normal)

They love it and can often be heard saying silly things like, “it’s so relaxing” and “all you have to do is water it”, as if all that growing just magically happens.

It doesn’t, just so you know.  It totally does NOT just happen and green thumbs are NOT genetic.  Wanna guess how I know?

Because I KILL EVERYTHING.

It’s a stinkin’ good thing I manage to keep these kids alive because when it comes to plants, their entrance into my life is their life sentence.  With the exception of the cactus I was given 6 years ago, who thrives on neglect I have never, not once kept another house plant alive.

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Proof of my neglect and His success

If you were to look at the outside of our house you may think I was totally full of the BS since I have two absolutely flourishing & beautiful rose bushes out there.  However, I am not the only reason they are doing so well is because they’re in God’s space – He gets the credit not me.  I don’t even prune them regularly – or until they’re taking up so much sidewalk people might complain.

Part of the problem is that I hate, hate getting dirt under my finger nails.  I don’t mind bread dough, cinnamon & sugar or even ground beef on my hands but dirt makes me cringe.  And before you start telling me I can wear gloves, they don’t work.  That sneaky stuff gets in there & it’s almost instantly gritty – YUCK!

The other part of the problem is I get so busy I forget about them, in particular to water them.  Oh, I’ll think about it as I walk out the door, land a sweet tuck jump or hit the shower and put it in the ol’ “gotta get it done” portion of my memory bank.  It has a secret backdoor that any & all things non-essential seem to slip right through, never to be seen again.

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I used to get upset about it.  I used to feel like a failure and worry that my garden loving girls were going to grow up deprived, void of all talent & skills necessary to earn the name “green thumb”, and I alone, would be responsible for breaking the generational gardener’s chain.

Then I discovered something.  These two little creatures, under the watchful eye & patient teachings of my parents are actually fantastic little gardeners – with fully developed “Green Thumbs”.

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Yesterday after work I was escorted outside to see their garden and I was blow away.  The pumpkins Audrey had started from seed in our kitchen window, the watermelon plants & Bethany’s beans are all doing fantastic! (Thanks Mom & Dad for helping care for them too!)  

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Little watermelon

I love watching the pride on their face as they show me their “babies”.  I love seeing how gentle they are, how happy it makes them and how clean my hands get to remain.  

Thanks to some pretty special people I will happily proclaim my thumbs black (from dark chocolate creations of course) and my fridge full of wonderful, home grown goodness!

Then Mama Blew a Gasket, a Head Gasket

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Today is one of those days I’m ashamed of.  It’s the kind of day I wish I could take back and start all over.  It has been filled with words I can’t erase, moments I can’t re-do and hurts I have to fix.  I am pretty sure, that portions of today are the definition of bad parenting, and without a doubt it has been my worst day ever.

If you’re part of our “real life” (you know, the one that consists of actual eye contact, audible conversation & often times sunshine!) then chances are you know that things for us are a little tense.   If not then let’s just say, there are major things happening in our lives and in the lives of our girls that are causing pressures to be fairly high for all 4 of us.  

For the last 2 months I have desperately been trying to handle these things.  Beyond all the chaos that December brings for everyone, I’ve been trying to keep my emotions under control, while also helping the girls understand their feelings & guiding Corey through the insanity that is (3) female emotions! 

It’s been tough, sometimes overwhelming but it’s been OK.  It’s my job, it’s the one I signed up for and I love my family.  Most days I truly try to see it as a privilege to get to do these things with & for my family.  Being a wife, mother, homemaker, friend, tear wiper, tickle fight instigator, etc is who God made me to be and I try to be thankful for these little people.

Today however, I wasn’t.  Today, as horrific as this will sound, I wasn’t thankful, I was angry – at everything.

We all have our moments, where emotions & circumstance cause us to boil over and for one of our children that is right now.  She’s struggling on so many levels  and while we’re trying to help her cope with it, this journey has been & is hard. 

For the most part I have taken the brunt end of her hard because that’s what families are for, what mothers are for.  We are the people who see their worst, we wipe their boogers, clean up their puke, deal with the bums (why are kids so gross?  really SO gross!), dry tears, give cuddles, fight bad dreams & banish monsters.  We are the safe place for them to air their secrets, unload their dirty laundry (literally & metaphorically) and to generally take their “ugly”. 

A mother will do all those things, take all that stuff and in the end when the consequences come and the remorse overwhelms you, she’ll still be there.  She’ll still wipe your tears, still hold you close and still love you deeply because she’s your mother, her soul was made to.

I understand that because my mother does, she’s seen my worst, felt the sting of my words, the pain of my actions, the ugly of my failures and even today, she still loves me.

Today though, when this little person of mine decided to again, out in a really ugly way I lost it.  The grace I’ve been working to give vanished, the composure I’m supposed to show exploded, my blood pressure sky-rocketed and I got angry.  Not frustrated, not upset, full blown, seeing red angry.

The events that transpired leading up to that moment most certainly warranted consequences, because that’s part of my job too.  They didn’t however require my anger.  It only makes things worse ya know, when I get mad.  It fuels her fire, she fuels mine, spark, spark, spark and then all of a sudden…

KABOOOOOOM!!!!!  There goes Mama’s Head gasket and she’s yelling, like she has truly never yelled in her life.  My words weren’t kind, they were sharp, my eyes burned with their tears and it all boiled over.

Then her tears turned from defiance to hurt, mine turned from anger to shame and we broke.

Later, when we had time to calm down I sat with her.  I apologized for my words, my actions and she did too.  We talked about how she’s angry inside too and that this stuff is hard, and today we both didn’t handle that hard very well.

There was forgiveness, and prayers together, cuddles and much better behaviour for the rest of the day but there’s still hurt.  Those moments, those words & those hurts don’t just vanish when someone says “I’m sorry”. 

Some days I’m not sure I’m cut out for this job.  Today, I was afraid, deeply afraid that maybe I really wasn’t meant to be a mother, because a child shouldn’t be able to make you so mad.  Today, not only was my heart broken, but I felt completely & utterly alone and a failure.

And then I realized something.  It hit me so hard that I decided HAD to share my shame with you.

I don’t think I’m alone in this angry Mama thing.  I don’t think I’m the only one who’s had moments she’s ashamed of, said words that make her cringe or has things that fill her with regret.  I just think that Facebook, Pintrest, Instagram have made it easy for us to put a glossy coating on everything.   Most of us do it, maybe not even on purpose but we do, I do.

Today my filter comes off and this is me.  Raw, ugly, broken and with a blown head gasket.

What I realized is the reason they make us so angry is because we were meant to be their mothers.  It’s because we love them to the depths of our soul that we can find the anger there.  It’s because we want the best for them that we fight to find it with our worst.  It’s because they’re created with pieces of us, both our beautiful ones and our ugly ones that they can draw it out in us.

It’s also why we give the kisses, make the apologies, shed the tears and work harder in the morning to do better.  

These two precious girls are my breath & my heart.  They are my reason to live & my reason for secret chocolate chip stashes.

Our road isn’t always picture perfect Mamas but it’s worth the drive.  Just watch them as they sleep, these beautiful creatures are worth the giving of our best & the learning from our worst.

A Blast from their Past

Watching our girls this weekend I was once again reminded of how quickly time passes (and of how many moments I’ve let slip through my fingers).  I started looking back through old videos and found a few I just had to share.

For those of you who’ve been a part of our lives since the beginning you’ve probably seen these already.  You might even remember these two little girls when they were these tiny peanuts.  Others are “new” here or to us.  Maybe you only know the big girls we have now and the idea of them being that small seems impossible.

Either way, here they are – the tiny treasures of days gone by and the reminder to pull out my camera more often and capture each day for the gift it is!

Big Girl ‘Tone from Ashley Stone on Vimeo.

The Vocabulary of a Two Year Old from Ashley Stone on Vimeo.

Lollistick from Ashley Stone on Vimeo.

 There are so many to choose from, it’s hard to stop here but I will.  Just don’t be too surprised if some time in the near future there are more videos, more memories.