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We are having a 4th baby!

IMG_1185So this has been official for quite a while but I’ve never posted anything about it on the blog!  Poor 4th baby doesn’t even get a blog post until I’m already 18 weeks.  That’s right, I’m 18 weeks now, which means I’m like, super duper close to being half way through this pregnancy already!  This feels crazy.

I find that people are really nosy about this sort of thing and I’m kinda an open book anyway, so without giving too much information I’ll just say we weren’t trying but we weren’t not trying.  And as for myself, this 4th baby was very much desired and wanted, but I was sure this baby was not meant to be since Peter was pretty ready to move on from the baby phase of life and move into the older kids phase.  I got a positive pregnancy test on May 31 and could hardly believe my eyes, only because I was so sure that I would never get to experience all of this again.  One thing that I have been loving about this pregnancy is that I know for sure that this is the last time, and I’m totally trying to savor every last first I experience.

I read this book a while ago called Great With Child which was a beautiful memoir of the author’s final pregnancy and I really wanted to write something like that for myself so that I could always remember all the details (and maybe someday Eva would like to read it when she is preparing to become a mother).  But I already have 3 kids, we are church planters and homeschoolers and we were also in the process of selling and buying a house, as well as hello I was pregnant and soooo tired and not feeling well.  It just didn’t happen.  That’s ok.

So I was doing a whole30 challenge when I found out I was pregnant and I was doing awesome at it and feeling great!  I was excited what a great, healthy start this baby was getting — until about 6 weeks into the pregnancy, the baby said “Hey I’m kinda tired of all these vegetables and meat you’re eating and I really just want you to eat bread, crackers and sugar for a while.”  I have never been very sick in my pregnancies, in the sense that I don’t throw up a lot.  But I do have a general nausea that is there all day, the smell of food repulses me, and I feel tired.  I only threw up once (well twice, but within 20 minutes of each other) but I felt sick almost all day long and even though I feel better now, my taste buds have not gone back to normal and certain foods that I used to love no longer turn my crank, although I could eat them if I had to.

There were times in the first trimester that I just felt completely exhausted.  I needed to have little naps in the afternoon, or big ones, if Peter was available to watch the others.  Sometimes I just grabbed cat naps on the couch while the kids played around me or watched movies.  A few times I even had more than one cat nap in a day which is totally odd for me.  If I wasn’t falling asleep, I felt completely draggy — just no energy to do anything, everything felt like a massive chore and took me so long to do because I just felt so tired!  At times I felt like this baby was trying to kill me.

Around 10 weeks I started to feel better, no more day-long nausea, and not needing a nap as much.  I just felt my general mom-of-3-kids-church-planting-wife tired like I normally do.

I think we made it Facebook official around 7-8 weeks with that picture of pickles and ice cream up there, but we told friends and family earlier than that.  We have always told early; this was actually the latest we’ve ever made it public knowledge.

At 10 weeks I had my first midwife appointment and was able to hear the baby’s heartbeat which is just always so amazing.  The moments of waiting and waiting for that unique whirring noise of a tiny baby’s even tinier heart, and then suddenly, there it is “whoosh-whoosh-whoosh”.  I was smiling for the rest of the day after that.  I recorded it with my iPhone and Isaac loved to listen to it over and over:  “Wan hear baby haht, mommy, baby in yo tummy!”  He also said it was “kinda keepy (creepy)” haha.

I felt such a relief when I passed the first trimester and was 14 weeks.  I have never miscarried but I feel I get a little more nervous with each pregnancy that not all will be well with the baby — surely I can’t luck out and have healthy babies this many times?  It just seems you hear so many sad stories, sometimes I feel like I’m waiting for my turn.  But now I am in the second trimester and the risk is way down, and that feels great.

I felt the baby move for the very first time when I was 15 weeks, I was laying in the middle of the stairwell (weird, I know, but I was escaping the children who were exasperating me) and suddenly I felt this fluttery little movement in my tummy.  I didn’t even recognize that it was the baby at first but my heart filled to the brim when I realized what it was!  The movements were few and far between at first, but now that I am 18 weeks, the baby is starting to move more and more and I just love the feeling.  It has always been my favorite, it is just so amazing to think of that little baby in there stretching and moving around.

My next midwife appointment is tomorrow, I go once a month at this point, and my ultrasound is in a few weeks.  Can’t wait to see the little bean on the screen!

As for having 4 kids, I’m completely terrified and elated at the same time.  Since I began dating Peter I have always dreamed of us having 4 kids, and this all honestly just feels so right to me.  That being said, I already have 3 kids and the struggle is real!!!  This Jim Gaffigan clip made me cry from laughing. It’s 7 minutes, but well worth your time especially if you have 3-4 kids of your own.

 

Stefi & Braden’s Wedding

Eva was a flower girl and the boys were ring bearers in Stefi and Braden’s AMAZING wedding at Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff this past weekend.  The kids hated me for it but I made them let me take some pictures of them in their adorable outfits.  I know they just had the hangries, they’re totally over it now.

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Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

I’ve been reading Sarah Bessey’s blog for quite a while now and am such a fan of the way she beautifully strings her words together to express the beautiful, the powerful, the messy.  But I admit, even I wasn’t sure what I would think of her book “Jesus Feminist” because lets face it, we all have an idea in our minds of what that word feminism means.  Even though I felt like I knew Sarah’s heart because of how long I’d been reading her blog, I still was scared this was going to be a big Girl Power! book with a Jesusy twist, and wrought with cynicism and anger about how women have been treated in the church.  I should’ve known better.  “Jesus Feminist” reads like a deeply respectful conversation about the Bible’s view of women, each word penned with nothing but love.  I felt strongly convicted to bring my relationship with God to a more intimate place.  I felt deeply loved by the God who created me in His own image and inspired to pursue the purposes that he has for me within his church.  I think that any woman who reads this book will feel the same way.  Learn more about it here.  Go pick up your copy now!

 

 

I always kind of stayed away from the blog The Nester because, hello, have you seen my house?  I don’t really have a decorating bone in my body.  And the last thing I needed was a book making me feel like a failure with all these ideas that I would never follow through on because I couldn’t afford it.  But then, as advertising does, I started to see many of the blog authors I follow posting about “The Nesting Place” and finally I couldn’t resist anymore and decided to give it a chance — and I’m very glad I did.  Turns out, the author Myquillin Smith, is a renter who fully embraces imperfections and thinks that the home is really about the heart: “a place to connect with others, foster rest, inspire, and be a welcoming place to come back to.”  Myquillin gives a ton of suggestions, but also permission to not use the suggestions and go with something that is uniquely you if that is what feels right.  I feel more confident to let go of my fear of “what if it doesn’t work out?” after reading this book.  Honestly, a big part of me has never wanted to put much into my home because we are renting and I don’t feel like investing much in a house that we aren’t going to stay in.  After reading this book though, I feel inspired to make whatever house I’m living in a place of peace, connection, inspiration and love — for myself, my family and my guests.  And never forget “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”

 

 

 

 

About a year ago, I watched a Soul Pancake video about Zach Sobiech, a 17-year-old young man who was dying of osteosarcoma but not letting that stop him from living his life to the fullest.  I was deeply touched and inspired by this young man and his family as I watched this documentary and learned all about the songs he wrote and the impact he had on the world before he moved on from it.  As soon as I realized that the book “Fly A Little Higher” was a memoir written by Zach’s mom, Laura, I knew I wanted to read it right away.  I think I read this book within a day or two, it was so captivating, compelling, and inspiring!  There were many times that I would have to choke back my tears, I just cannot even imagine going through something like this with my own children — or how proud I would be of my child if they were to face their trials with such bravery, faith and selflessness.   Stories like this always make me think about my life and challenge my perspective for the better.  I definitely think anyone would enjoy this book (as much as you can enjoy a book about someone who is dying) and be inspired.

 

 

 

 

Here is the original SoulPancake documentary:

And a new documentary that I just found today while preparing to write this review, and will have to watch soon:

 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received “The Nesting Place” free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Accountable Kids – Review

A couple of months ago I decided our family needed some help in the kids’ chore department.  A friend of mine had been using these really cool looking chore charts for her kids and was seeing great success so I asked her how it worked and decided I’d give it a try.  First I asked her a bunch of questions, then I checked out their website, and then decided to place an order.

The Program:

Accountable Kids is a program that teaches both responsibility AND accountability — so that you don’t have to keep nagging your kids!

The Accoutable Kids program uses what they call a Progress Board.  It is a wooden board with 5 pegs for hanging their reminder cards, completed chores, tickets, special date card and extra chores.

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Here is how it works: the children have a set of chores for each part of the day: morning, afternoon and evening.  The chores are colour-coded so your child knows when they need to be completed, which is really helpful for little ones.  When they complete their basic chores (ones you are not willing to pay your children to do, but that they are expected to do as a contributing member of the family) on time, they get a ticket that they can use for activities and privileges.  Ticketed activities could include: television, movies, video games, computer, art projects, playing with friends, sleepovers, park trip, swimming, flying kites, trampoline time, etc.

For each day that they complete all of their chores (morning, afternoon and evening) they get a sticker on their special date card.  The date card is a way for them to earn a special date with mom and dad or a grandparent, and is a way to help them understand the process of working for delayed gratification.  If the child wants to do extra chores, like helping mom with laundry or washing floors, etc. then they can do so and receive a bonus buck.  You can choose the value of the bonus buck for whatever is appropriate for your child.

Our Experience:

Our daughter is 7 and so far is the only one we have on the Accountable Kids program.  I did purchase boards for my sons, 4 and 2, and will start my 4-year-old very soon.  I feel that my 2-year-old is too young at this point, but his board is ready for him as soon as he is able to participate.  Eva was so excited to get our Accountable Kids stuff because her friend had already been using the program and told her all about it.  She was so eager to get started and happily completed chores.  We have seen a great success with her and it has been so awesome to watch her completing the tasks on her own without reminders.  She carefully considers how she would like to spend her tickets and her time and realizes that if she doesn’t complete her tasks, she won’t get a ticket!  I love not having to keep reminding her to do chores, as well as the routine this program has created in our home.

The kit comes with everything you need to get started.  The progress board, all the cards, an entire book written on the program that answers any questions you might have, and a DVD with both a quick-start video and a more in-depth video.  The quick-start videos can be viewed here if you would like to take a better look.

In the end, I’m really happy with this program and give it 5 stars!


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The Morning of No iPad and Television

Alright, friends.  Story time.

Last week I had a couple of separate conversations with a couple of different people (a friend and my husband) on the topic of screen time.  Now if I’m being perfectly honest, my kids are staring at screens way more than I’d like.  Like… a lot.  And yes, I’ve read the studies and I’ve skimmed read the books.  I know they should be playing with a scrap of felt and having the best time of their life using their imagination and that basically if they watch too much television or play iPad too much then I’ve ruined them for life and I’m the worst.  Really, the studies said that.

And I can really tell you that no, I don’t want to be that mom, but the truth is… I am!  I just am.  My kid wakes me up every blessed day at 6 am and wants the iPad.  And I do not have the strength to argue him then.  And what am I supposed to say to the next child arises… no, you can’t have a turn?  Why don’t you read a book, or write a story or play with the million toys you have?  Here’s a piece of felt, let’s see what you can come up with?  Okay, I could probably say that but come on have some empathy here, it’s 6 am!

And then later, I’m trying to do some formal lessons with Eva and the boys are just fighting fighting fighting and all I want is some peace!  So sue me if they go watch a TV show or play iPad or computer some more… everything is suuuuuper educational these days because everyone knows that early learning experiences are suuuuuper important.

So anyway.  I admit it.  I let my kids watch too much TV and play too much iPad.  I don’t like it.  But at this point in my life, I am literally not strong enough to change it.  I would rather let them stare at a screen than have me scream at them because I’m literally about to pull the very hairs out of my very head.  Judge me if you want, but someday I hope you learn some empathy.20140504-001118.jpg

So the other day, after these conversations and after some googling about how to rid your kids of their screen addiction (for which I admit, I am responsible) I decided that’s it!  They are going to PLAY.  They are not getting screen time.  And it really was going pretty well.  I was feeling a bit sweaty as I tried to educate my daughter and the boys kept fighting and screaming and interrupting and I just kept trying my best and praying a lot and trying to stay calm and loving and help redirect the boys and I was just trying so hard to do everything “right” but everything just kept on escalating and before I knew it, I found myself ugly crying out on my covered deck in the pouring rain and wondering why I ever thought it was a good idea to become a mother because I literally cannot do it!

I stayed on my little time-out for a while and then I came back in, flipped on the television for the kids and guess what happened… they sat.  And they were quiet.  And I thought about how much I loved them.  And how I could do this.  I could do it.  I can do it, if they just sit still and keep quiet for a little while longer.

I started thinking about how I’m a Christian and I should be transformed, I should be a new person, I should be displaying some fruit of the spirit here — HELLO, like, where is my patience in times like this?  (Seriously, I’m wondering… could you tell me?)  I feel like the worst.  I’m probably the least patient mom I know, at least publicly, and let me tell you, I know I’m impatient and I’m not proud of it.

But then I remember this little gem, that one little verse about how God’s power is made perfect in our weakness.  Usually I think about all the perfect moms out there and how I think wow, they are so much more spiritual than me because they are so kind and gentle and obviously filled with the Spirit of God.  And naturally, their children are going to be perfect too and have a perfect relationship with God until BAM – I remember that little verse I just mentioned.  Oh yeah, I don’t have to be perfect and actually God’s power is made perfect in my weakness and yes I’m going to fail my kids but guess what, I’m actually doing them a service because now they aren’t ever gonna be perfect either and now God’s power can be made perfect in them too!  And so guess what because I screw up a lot, I’m doing some pretty spiritual work, even more spiritual-er than if I was doing everything perfect because if they end up too perfect God won’t even be able to work with them, they won’t even need him!  My crappy parenting is causing them to need Him even more — how great is that!?

So in the end, I feel pretty darn good about how much screen time my kids have.

 

(Disclaimer — most of this is sarcasm, and no I’m not proud of how much screen time my kids have but sometimes transformation is slow and I think God is really teaching me a lot of hands-on lessons in patience and I’m gonna get there someday, friends, I reallllllly am and I’m gonna be the most patient-est and be able to handle the world someday.  But for now, I’m in survival mode and just trying to make my kids feel loved and not yelled at allthetime… so please just give me some grace and help me along here.)

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there — whether you’re thriving or surviving!

 

May 9, 2014 - 9:40 am Ruth - So to make you feel better about screen time, I have just now turned off the cable for the Sumer. Rachel is five and it is hardest on her ( and me) because she is up early waking me up and I am no morning person. I also admired you homeschooling with two little ones. I know that isn't easy. Don't worry so much about studies and what the books say. I was a TV kid growing up and yet I still played, read, coloured and had a productive life so far. Sometimes it is about surviving those toddler years. Oh and I just heard this about patience and loved it " God doesn't give us patience when life is calm, it comes in the storms so we can make it through in order to see His blessings during that time." Glad you were able to see and learn what God is teaching too.

May 9, 2014 - 3:13 pm chelsey - Thanks, Ruth. I agree, I watched a lot of TV as a kid and had one in my room but still spent a ton of time playing and being creative as well. And we are totally still in survival mode. Someday we will be more in the thriving mode, but for now I am giving myself permission to not do it perfectly. I love my kids and they are going to be ok :)

Throwback Thursday Stories – #tbt

eva_ezra

 

I love Throwback Thursday, where many people go back through the archives and share an old image.  I love seeing all the pictures of babies who have grown too quickly, or my friends when they themselves were children.  I saw that Jessica Turner of The Mom Creative was hosting a link-up of Throwback Thursday Stories and I knew I had to jump on board too.

This was in 2010 and Ezra was just a few months old and Eva was 3.  Since the moment I took this picture, it has been one of my all-time favorites.  Ezra had recently begun rolling over from his tummy to his back and he kept doing it while I was trying to get a photo of them together.  I could tell he was going to roll and kept saying to Eva “Ohhhh, here he goessss!  He’s gonna roll!” and she just thought it was so funny.  Apparently, Ezra agreed because I managed to get a snap of them both smiling before he rolled over again.

 

tbt

 

May 8, 2014 - 7:54 am Susan - Great photo. Time does pass quickly. Enjoy!

May 8, 2014 - 8:27 am chelsey - Thank you, Susan!

May 8, 2014 - 8:57 am Paula - What a great picture!

May 8, 2014 - 9:17 am chelsey - Thanks, Paula!

Dolladrama

A couple weeks ago I had to run into Dollarama to buy some special dishes for a yummy breakfast I was planning to soon make myself.  I was walking quickly through the aisles to get what I needed and I could hear a mom hollering at her kids from somewhere out of sight.  I felt a little uncomfortable and I admit, I felt a little judgy (step 3) but I thought whatever, I’ve felt the same way, or acted the same way in my home… what’s the difference?  Who knows what this mom has had to deal with?  (step 5) I grabbed what I needed and found my place in line behind the mom and two other ladies.  The mom was paying for some candy that her daughter had taken a bite out of… something she wasn’t planning on paying for but now had to.

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a really fun moment a couple years ago when Ezra was in his insane fit-throwing stage.

The lady in line behind the mom decided that now was the time to let the mom know what a terrible job she was doing at motherhood, putting the mom down and shaming her for her children’s behaviour in the store.  The lady behind that lady soon joined in and they even went so far as to point at the mom’s oldest daughter and comment on how she was old enough to be behaving more properly.

Naturally, the mom was completely defensive and talking back to the lady and I found myself in such an awkward position.  Do I look around normally, as if nothing is happening?  Do I speak up and say something to the ladies in front of me and take a stand with this mom?  I am a people-pleaser and I hate confrontation, so I really didn’t want to get involved and potentially have these ladies turn on me too.  My knees felt weak as the mom and the lady kept arguing back and forth.  Ultimately, I said nothing and the mom gathered her things and her children and left the store.  The ladies in front of me continued to discuss the situation with the cashier, who appeared to be the manager (who handled it fairly professional, I might add, in case any Dollarama execs are reading my blog).  Meanwhile, I just stood there praying that I would get a chance to talk to the mom in the parking lot after I finally made my transaction.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, this mom was just two parking spaces away from me.  I was scared and honestly, I didn’t want to, but I came around to the side of the car where the mom was buckling her daughter in and I quietly said, “Excuse me… I was in the store just now… and I just wanted to let you know that I know that you are just doing the best job you can at being a mama, and –” I couldn’t even get the rest of the words out and this poor mom was flat-out ugly crying in front of me in the parking lot.  My heart just broke even more.  I didn’t know what to say or do and before I knew it, there I was hugging this stranger and saying “Being a mom is so hard, it’s so hard, we’re all just doing the best we can.”  I left her there with her daughters and told her that I hoped she knew that not everyone in that store thought she was doing a bad job and I hope that she had a better day from there on out.

It’s been more than two weeks and I still can’t really shake this experience — and I bet the mom can’t either.  I feel so badly for the ladies in the store as well, as I can’t help but feel they must have some real pain and insecurity in their own lives to publicly shame someone as they did that day, but in the end, my heart is naturally way softer for the yelling mom.

The thing is, we just don’t know what people are dealing with in their lives.  It’s so easy to point fingers and to judge.  I know what it’s like to have kids who throw unexpected, unpredictable and uncontrollable fits, even in public.  I know what it’s like to have kids who throw such fits despite any and every kind of discipline and gentle talking or not gentle talking you could ever do.  Our kids’ behavior can sometimes just be beyond our control, part of who they are, and is not always a reflection of who we are as parents.  And maybe that mom hasn’t had the best upbringing, or she has no support, or she’s just dealing with some really tough stuff, or maybe she has an awesome life but guess what, today is just a bad day.13

Sometimes I feel so alone as a young mom.  A people-pleaser like me just really wants to do things right and make everyone happy.  I look for the rules, for what I should do.  It’s such a cliche but there really is no manual for motherhood.  Our kids don’t come with an instruction booklet.  I didn’t live with my own mother for most of my childhood and I don’t have a mentor or a role model to come alongside me and show me how to do this whole motherhood thing.  And when I’m at my wits end, when I’m having a bad day, when my rope is frayed… it never does me any good to have someone telling me what a terrible job I’m doing.  The only thing that does is make me feel like giving up completely.

From my experience, when I’m reacting in a negative way to my kids, I already know in my head that I’m not doing my best in this moment.  I already regret the things I’m saying or my actions.  But I’m in such a desperate, raw, pull-my-hair-out moment that I don’t know what else to do… or I do know, but I just can’t.  If I knew and was able, I’d be doing it!  I don’t need someone to agree with my inner-voice that I’m a terrible mom.  When you feel like that, don’t you just wish someone would come alongside you and tell you how to do it, or do it for you, or simply just help you do it?  To crouch down with your kids and gently and lovingly remind them of proper behaviour?  To grab your groceries for you and help you carry them out to the car because one of your kids is running one way and the other one bit into some food you hadn’t paid for and you’re already late and you feel like you suck as a mother and just want to give up — but you can’t.  Because you are mom and you just have to keep going, no matter how messy the whole thing looks.

We need to build each other up and cheer one another on.  We need to give each other hope that we can make it.  I don’t know what was going on in that store before I walked in and maybe this mom was absolutely crazy and her kids were bonkers too and maybe they were totally ripping the store to shreds.  Maybe.  But even so, I have to believe that even in our most absolutely crazy moments, we really just need someone to tell us “You can do this.  It’s hard, I know, but you can do this.”

Because hope is sometimes all you need to keep moving forward.6

(Title credit goes to my friend Joanna who, after I texted her the entire story, responded with “Dolladrama!”)

May 7, 2014 - 9:05 am Jill Slywka - This is a beautiful story! And beautifully written! Thanks for sharing - but even more so, thanks for being brave enough to go up to that mom in the parking lot afterwards. We need more people like you, Chelsey, who are willing to say, 'I understand', and 'Me too', rather than just judging. Thanks for encouraging me in this today.

May 7, 2014 - 10:18 am Janelle - Oh my goodness! This is a great story and a great message, and how great of you to share it. Thank you for your words!

May 7, 2014 - 10:54 am Jenn - This is a beautiful story. On behalf of frazzled moms everywhere, thanks for taking the time to share a kind word. I have had trips to the store with my two young kids who are just having an off day and I just don't know what to do....we need milk! hahaha...I catch people staring with their nose up, or shaking their heads and I can only imagine what they must be thinking...I've thought the same before I became a parent. You are totally right, we just don't know what going on in the back ground. Have a blessed day!

May 7, 2014 - 2:23 pm chelsey - Thanks for reading, Jenn. It is just so hard and it only makes it worse when you are already frazzled and then feel like everyone is looking down on you!

May 7, 2014 - 2:24 pm chelsey - Thanks, Janelle :)

May 7, 2014 - 2:24 pm chelsey - Doesn't "me too" feel so good, Jill? What a relief when you find out you aren't alone. We need to take our guard down and hold each other up more!

May 7, 2014 - 2:37 pm L.A Blackwood - Thank you for sharing this. I was in a small town grocery store (I won't list because it's that small) I was picking up diapers and dinner. My good friend was standing with me in line. We had to do some errands before we hit the grocery store which was on our way back to my place. We had stopped for coffee and breakfast maybe 5 minutes down the road before we hit the grocery store. It was Jan and where I live it was ridiculously cold. My 21 month old was going through a stage where he refused to wear mitts and a hat or his hood. He was in a one piece snow suit with a blanket and everything. It was nap time and I literally lived in the 3rd house from the grocery store. So I have this screaming baby who wants to nap after a breakfast out. My hair is fire engine red and long apparently I look 17, I'm 27. While I was paying for my groceries which by the way consisted of diapers, chicken nuggets, baby food, baby cookies, and kid's cereal. Two elderly women decided to begin telling me what a horrible uncaring mother I was and how children my age should be in school. The cashier at the grocery store also jumped in. I thanked them for their concern and explained I needed to get my son home to have his nap and didn't have time for this. This was a horrible situation for me, I was crying for hours after. Hearing that even if they are afraid to step up other people don't look so horribly down on moms with screaming kids it helps.

May 7, 2014 - 2:59 pm Lauren MacDonald - I am so happy Kelli reffered this blog to me, it makes me realize that you're right, no one knows what an individual is going through and we need to help, not hinder.

May 7, 2014 - 3:33 pm chelsey - Thanks for reading, Lauren. You are right! We need to help each other out, we can't do it alone. I think we are all afraid and so we judge instead of saying "I'm not perfect either." In my experience, it is so much better to help someone out instead of judge them -- it changes both lives for the better!

May 7, 2014 - 3:35 pm chelsey - Oh, thank you for sharing, LA Blackwood. I'm in the same boat as you, people often think I'm a teen mother because I look much younger than I am. How terrible that you experienced this public shaming as well. It would help so much more if these women would pass on their wisdom rather than shaming us for not having it yet! {hugs} to you, mama! You are doing a good job.

May 7, 2014 - 11:10 pm Kati - Aw Chelsey! Your response reminded me of an event YEARS ago when our 3 daughters were hmm... 8, 6 and 1... eating in a restaurant outside of Langley BC on 'vacay'. The kids weren't being terrible, just... kids... spilled pop all over the table... crayons scattered everywhere, food everywhere. I was super stressed... I was always so self conscious of our kids' behaviour in public, because I, like you, am a 'pleaser' (still am, some things never change!) ... in the midst of all this, some random (random??) lady about the age I am now (gulp) walks up to our table and says, 'excuse me, i just wanted to let you know how impressed i am with how charming and well behaved your children are!' Whaaaa??? Really??! Are we talking about the same children?? It was so counter to what so often happens (ie the snotty behaviour you described from the women in the store or at the very least, dirty looks from surrounding tables) and so easy to make assumptions. But that one little positive encounter has stayed with me to this day (23 yrs later!) and buoyed me up on days when I doubted I had any parenting success whatsoever! I'll bet you dollars(store drama) to donuts that gal will remember your intervention years from now! Now THAT's listening to the Spirit :)

May 8, 2014 - 8:07 am Hope - Well -lived and well written! I'm now 58 but I had a child that was a challenge and one that was average and responded well to common parenting techniques. So often when my child had the full-blown tantrum or fell apart in public well into the elementary school years I felt judgement from family or strangers. Some offered less than helpful suggestions. I make a point now of giving verbal "gold stars" to parents who are working hard at their job whether or not their child is behaving perfectly. By the way....my child now 30 - started doing food elimination when she was 20 - and now feels like her brain is at peace. In her case no gluten, dairy and other grains.

May 8, 2014 - 8:28 am chelsey - That is awesome that you do that now, Hope. And isn't it amazing how some foods can affect us?

May 8, 2014 - 8:31 am chelsey - I hope my words stick with the mama more than the other woman's do, Kati! When you feel like you're drowning isn't it much better to have someone reach out their hand instead of saying "you should've learned to swim."? Thank you for sharing your experience!

5 Stages of Motherhood

I’ve been thinking a lot this past week about motherhood and how hard it can sometimes be and what a journey it is.  I’ve been thinking about how we compare ourselves to other moms and how we put so much pressure on ourselves and how we never feel like we’re doing enough.  Or is that just me?  I’m pretty sure it’s not.  I’ve been working towards being more vulnerable, more real, more honest with people about who I really am and how I really feel and it turns out that a lot of people I know feel the same way I do.

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I’ve been thinking back to all the different ways I’ve thought about motherhood and for me, it’s definitely come in stages.  Cue New Kids on the Block’s Step by Step:

Step 1) “When I’m A Mother…”

When “When I’m A Mother…” step is definitely pre-motherhood.  You know you are in the WIAM stage when, duh, you have no children, but you already know exactly how you will be when you are a mother — and even better, you already know how everyone else should parent their children as well.  While many are wise enough to know that they should not let others know that they already know how to be the best parent (especially your friends who already do actually have children… and suck at parenting them…), many people still do not realize this and make comments, share blog posts, etc.  You think you’re being pretty suave about it all but let me tell you this — your friends who have actual parenting experience are on to you and are quietly smiling inside about how someday you’ll realize how silly you are.

Step 2) “Brand New Mom”

Okay, now you’ve had a baby and you can hardly believe the little bundle you have in your arms is your very own.  Finally a chance to exercise all that parenting wisdom you’ve garnered by watching all of your parents’ and your friends’ mistakes!  You look at this precious little baby and think “Okay, now I just have to do everything absolutely perfectly and she will turn out okay.”  No pressure or anything.

Step 3) “Mom-petition”

Now you’re a few months in and you realize now you are in a whole new world (you didn’t even realized existed) of parenting jargon, sharing birth stories, and talking about poop.  But also: high-end strollers, organic baby food, BPA-free products, cloth diapers, how to get baby to sleep through the night, should you or shouldn’t you have circumcised, the soother debate, the vaccine debate, attachment parenting vs. cry-it-out… and ermagash there seems to be more to doing everything perfectly than you ever could’ve imagined!  Since I’m a people-pleaser and I’ve always looked for the rules, I fell quite prey to the mom-petition legalism for a while.  I felt terrible about all the things I was doing “wrong” and felt smug about the things that I was doing “right” — especially when I noticed someone else doing them “wrong”.  (Don’t hate me, I was only 22, and plus, I was formula fed as a baby, and we all know how terrible that is…)

***that’s a joke, keep reading and you’ll discover what stage I’m at now where I can make sarcastic comments about these kinds of things.***

Step 4) “Multiple Children”

Things have been going pretty well for the most part, besides those few times you let your toddler have Kraft Dinner (it was just a couple times!) and you decide to have one or more children.  I find that this is went the baby poop hits the fan.  Two children I seemed to handle fine (likely because my first and second are over 3 years apart) but when that third baby came along (just 21.5 months after his big brother)– things got real.  Life was no longer about what amazing early-learning experiences I could expose my children to, and making sure to keep them away from television and processed food and more about literally surviving.  This is when I finally admitted “okay this motherhood thing, this is really hard.”  And I gave myself permission to not even just admit it, but truly believe it, and you know what else I kept telling myself — “You’re doing a good job.”  Okay, I actually probably told myself that I’m doing a bad job about as equally as telling myself I’m doing a good job despite myself…

Step 5) “Empathy”

Alright, this is where you have been doing this whole motherhood thing for a while and holy crap have you ever done some things, said some things, yelled some things that you promised yourself you never would or worse — never even knew you were capable of.  Looking back to the “When I’m A Mom” step, I really believed that I was a truly patient and loving person — oh right, that was before I had kids and have been pushed to and beyond my absolute limit, and just when I think I can’t handle anything else, there’s something more added on my pile of things to do, butts to wipe, screaming fights to diffuse, and whining and complaining about the supper I spent two hours making.  This is when you come to terms with the fact that not every mother is equal, that every person has their own story, their own struggles, their own background that makes them who they are and able to handle or not handle whatever they can handle or not handle.  This is when you see another mom with a screaming child in the grocery store and you give her a genuine, knowing smile that says “I’ve been there.”  And you do not judge her for raising her voice.  You don’t judge her or anyone for the ways they choose to react or not react, the way they choose to raise their child, if they choose breastfeeding or formula, if they vaccinate or not, if they send to public, private or homeschool, if they let their kids watch 7 hours of TV or play 7 hours of iPad in a day because it was better than losing their freaking temper on their precious children — no, you do not judge.  Because now you know, you really know that each mom is really just trying to do the absolute best they can with what they have and who they are and what they know and deep inside their heart of hearts they absolutely, truly, 100% love their children.

In my opinion, my friends, this is when you’ve arrived.  I’m only just under 8 years into this whole motherhood thing so what the heck do I even really know, I’m sure I’m about to discover a million things down the road, but I’m pretty sure Step 5 covers that for me because I can finally say “Hey, I really don’t know what I’m doing here, but I do know what works for now for me and my family and that’s all I can speak for”.  Once you quit feeling like you have to be perfect, once you quit judging others and shaming yourself, and once you just have grace and love and empathy in your heart for all those soldiers out there who are fighting the same battle that you are every day, I think that covers everything.  You are humble and full of grace – and that’s the best way to mother in my opinion, and really just the best way to be a person in general.

(If you don’t agree and you’re judging me right now, just remind yourself that I was formula fed and say a little prayer for me as you go about your perfect life.)

May 5, 2014 - 12:05 pm Savannah - I really love reading your blog...I'm definitely in the "when I am a Mother" phase. Reading as many things as I can to prep for parenthood, it seems to be the more I read, the more there is to read. I love how honest you are, and how you're not afraid to say that some days are just plain hard. I look forward to all that comes along with parenting, but I definitely know it won't be a walk in the park.

May 5, 2014 - 2:14 pm chelsey - Thank you, Savannah!

May 5, 2014 - 3:54 pm Caitlin - Beautifully written Chelsey, and very important life truths.

May 5, 2014 - 5:24 pm Ruth - Very well said. Encouraging to know that we as mom's feel the same way and are never alone

May 7, 2014 - 3:40 pm chelsey - Thanks, Ruth!

May 7, 2014 - 3:41 pm chelsey - Thanks, Caitlin!

Books I’ve Been Reading Lately

Becoming Myself – Stasi Eldredge

I remember when everyone was talking about the book Captivating by Stasi and her husband, John, so even though I never read that one, I thought I’d better get a copy of this one.  This is a book about becoming our true selves through the love and restoration of God.  After the first chapter I was really encouraged and excited to read on, but I have to admit, the chapters felt pretty lengthy to me and eventually I lost my interest in the book.  I’m not sure what it is exactly, because I know that this book is full of great encouragement for many women.  I hate to write a negative review, I always think of how I would feel as the author and know that the author has put their very heart out there in the form of a book.  I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but the chapters just felt like they went on forever and I was kind of thinking to myself “get to the point already”.  Don’t write this book off just because of my review though, it could really be encouraging for you.  I’ve been doing Stasi’s Becoming Myself bible study on RightNow Media and have found that encouraging so it’s not that the info is bad, it just wasn’t something that grabbed me.

A Million Little Ways  – Emily P. Freeman

I read Grace for the Good Girl by Emily a few years ago and it was so good.  I’ve been following her blog for some time now and find inspiration there as well.  And I totally love the idea that God can work through all of us in a million different ways.  But something in this book just didn’t connect with me.  Again, I hate to post a negative review.  I think the idea behind this book is really good: creating a life of meaning so that we can glorify God but I think what I couldn’t get past is the constant reference to the idea that we are made to make and live art.  I mean, I get it… life is a metaphorical poem and even though I do consider myself to be somewhat artistic and creative I just kind of felt like every chapter was trying really hard to tie the Christian life to art.  I’m just not quite there in the same way Emily is.  But don’t just take my word for it, go check it out for yourself because I still did find some good stuff in this book, and if Ann Voskamp, Lysa TerKeurst, Mark Batterson and Tsh Oxenreider loved it — it’s probably just something wrong with me and not the book.

 

 Notes from a Blue Bike – Tsh Oxenreider

Ok this is a book that will make you start to think about the little things in life.  The tagline is “the art of living intentionally in a chaotic world” — now who doesn’t want that?  I think almost everyone I know in North America is wishing they could slow down and live more simply.  I know I do, and this book is making me long for it even more.  I love reading about Tsh’s journey, about the life the Oxenreider’s lived abroad in Turkey, the trips they’ve taken, the joy they find in preparing nutritious and delicious foods, their decision to homeschool, and so much more.  This book gives permission to “change the everyday little things in our lives so that our paths better align with our values and passions.”  Everyone I know who has read this book has thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m sure you, dear reader, are no exception.  You won’t want to put it down.

 

 

 

My Story – Elizabeth Smart

I passed by this book on the New & Notable shelf at the library and brought it home with me.  I love a good memoir — it is so powerful to hear someone’s story and how they overcame hardship.  I read this entire book within 24 hours, it was that engaging.  And horrifying.  If you don’t know, fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped from her bedroom and held captive for 9 months in Utah & California before she was found by the police.  This is such a powerful story of hope and it is amazing to see how Elizabeth has gone on with her life and is using her experiences to help others instead of remaining a victim.

 

 

 

 

The 21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook – Diane Sanfillippo

You may remember a few months ago when I posted a review of The 21-Day Sugar Detox.  Well this book is a great companion if you are doing 21DSD since it will add 100 more grain-free, sugar-free recipes to your repertoire!  Some people just really know what they are doing when they are in the kitchen, and I think you have to be really knowledgeable to be able to create delicious food with so many restrictions.  Diane knows how to do it!  If you are totally brand new to The 21-Day Sugar Detox then you should definitely go read my review of the program and the first book and check out this book too.   Personally, I wouldn’t want one without the other.  Being prepared is the best way to be successful in your detox and this cookbook will definitely help you out with that!

 

 

 

All of Me That You Can’t See - Callie Grant

This beautifully illustrated book has an equally beautiful message for children: we are more than what we can see.  This board book is geared for children ages 3-6 and is based on Mark 12:30: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.”  It is such a sweet little story about how our inner self grows right along with the rest of us.  I love having a book like this that beautifully explains concepts that are sometimes hard to explain to children (and adults!).

 

 

 

 

 

Knowing My God – Jesus Saves Me – Callie Grant

Here is another cute board book that can be read to kids of various ages.  This interactive book explores the relationship between sheep and shepherd with pictures from real life to engage children.  I think most kids would learn a lot from this book about what Jesus says about how he is our Shepherd and what that means.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Close as a Breath - Callie Grant

This is another beautifully illustrated board book!  Close as a Breath is about an inquisitive little girl out on a walk with her father.  As they explore, the little girl asks many questions about creation and nature and all the father’s answers point toward our God, the creator and how you can’t see him but you know he’s there because His love and power are alive everywhere — He is Spirit and he is as close as a breath to us.  Another beautiful book to read to your children.

 

 

 

 Seven – Jen Hatmaker

I had heard about this book a lot and had wanted to get it so when I saw it for $1.99 on Kindle, I went for it.  Jen Hatmaker does not disappoint.  I love that she writes in such a real way and with humour but also passion.  She just seems like a real person that I could really get along with.  I loved what she said at IF: Gathering and I really was inspired by Seven as well.  For seven months Jen limited what clothes she could wear, where she could shop, what foods she ate, what social media she could take in, how much she could possess and also waste, and lastly the stress in her life and documented it all in this book.  You will definitely be convicted of your addiction to excess, no matter how un-materialistic you currently perceive yourself to be.

 

 

 

 

To Walk or Stay - Lara Williams

I first “met” Lara in my very first Hello Mornings group and I was so excited for her when she released this book.  It has been out for a while but you can’t get it in print in Canada, so when I saw it for $0.99 on Kindle, of course I had to get it!  This book was so powerful for me.  It is about marriage but really, it’s just about LIFE.  It’s about working the yucky things inside of us out with the Lord.  The part that was so amazing for me was reading all about what Lara does to take thoughts and make them captive to the Lord.  I had recently read that verse in the bible and thought to myself “But HOW does one do that?”  Lara shares how she does it and I have found it to be an amazing way to keep your thought-life in check.  Each chapter has questions and “homework” and usually I ignore that but felt so convicted by Lara’s words that I actually did it!  I highly recommend this book to anyone, married or single.

 

 

 

 

Becoming Myself has been provided courtesy of David C. Cook and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.  Available at your favourite bookseller.  A Million Little Ways has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.
Available at your favourite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received Notes from a Blue Bike by Tsh Oxenreider for free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

21-Day Sugar Detox Cookbook provided by Victory Belt Publishing.

All of MeKnowing My God – Jesus Saves Me, Close as a Breath were provided for free by Shelton Interactive.

 

On thinking God owes me…

That ache is in my heart again, that longing feeling for something.  Like the world is going on without me, I’ve been forgotten.  I keep striving but my efforts yield no fruit.

This past Sunday in our Sunday School class we learned all about the Ten Commandments, and one really stood out to me.  Don’t covet.  I’m pretty sure that’s not exactly what the bible says, but you get my point.  Lots of the kids kept coming up to me and asking me what does covet mean and over and over again I repeated how God doesn’t want us to be jealous of what our friends have.  God wants us to be happy with what we already have — what He has given to us.

It struck me then and there that lately I have a pretty big problem with coveting.   I am jealous of my friends who can travel, I am jealous of my friends who are doing awesome in careers I would like, or who are studying for new careers I would like.  I’m jealous of those who send their kids to school and jealous of those who homeschool their kids better than I do.  I’m jealous of the clothes people have, the way others look, or their ability to style their home in a certain way.  The money they make.  Ability to balance life.  And those are just the first things that come to my mind.  There’s probably a hundred other things I’m jealous of that I don’t even yet realize I’m jealous of.

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A place I’m coveting right now.

After last Sunday I kept asking myself “why does God not want us to covet?”  I know that God doesn’t just make rules to be a rule-maker.  I know He isn’t just some power-addicted God who likes to lord himself over us.  He is kind, He is loving, He is just.  He has a good reason.  So why does he care whether or not we are jealous of other people’s stuff?  It seems so natural — the grass is always greener.  Why does He care?

I think God doesn’t want us coveting other people’s stuff because we totally miss so many gifts we’ve already been given.  I’m not very thankful for what I have if I’m always feeling sad that I don’t have this that or the other thing.  And if I tell myself that I am thankful for what I have and then feel sad because I don’t have more, I’m just lying to myself.  I think that you aren’t truly thankful if you don’t feel satisfied by it.  And I think God gives us exactly what we need to be satisfied.  I think He actually gives us even more than what we need to be satisfied and my whining and complaining is just a big old slap in the face for all the gifts He’s already given me.

When we covet we basically end up saying that we don’t trust God.  And that God isn’t enough for us.  We need more than what he has planned for us, we need more than what we’ve been given.  And we make an idol of ourselves, saying that we are so important and deserving and entitled.  And yet somehow God has forgotten to honor our entitled-ness.  Um, hello God, did you forget that I deserve everything I want?  And it never ends.  I often feel like once I have a certain thing that I want, then I will be happy.  And maybe I am for a few days but it sure doesn’t take long before I’m thinking of something else that I don’t have, and naturally I must have it, nay, I should have it, and why don’t I?  I should.  WHY HAS GOD FORSAKEN ME!?

I’ve been missing the point.  My perspective is completely off.  But doesn’t the enemy just make it feel so justified?  I mean I totally feel like I’ve been dealt a bad card if I can’t do and have all the things I want.  Like God doesn’t love me.  Like I’m not worth anything if I don’t have certain things or the ability to do certain things.  It’s totally such an issue of value for me.  It makes me feel like God’s forgotten me, like God doesn’t love me and there’s just not even one shred of truth in that statement.  God loves me so much and my entire life is proof of that — the enemy would just love it so much if I felt like God didn’t love me, so I wouldn’t end up loving Him back.

It’s time to remind myself how much God loves me, cares for me, provides for me.  It’s time to remember all that He’s already done for me, all that He’s already given me.  Once I’ve filled myself up with that truth, I find that I don’t really have room in my cup for anything else I once I thought I needed.  I could write a handful of bible verses for you to read but usually that just feels trite or like a pat answer.  What you really need to do when you feel this way is just lay yourself low (whether physically or a posture of the heart) and pray.  And it’s going to feel weird.  And you might not get some answer right away and your coveting may not just immediately go away.  Or it might, I can’t say.  But usually, if you are consistent in humbling yourself and praying and waiting for God to answer you… that ends up answering everything.

April 29, 2014 - 9:44 am Mama - Thanks for sharing your heart Chelsey, your passion for seeking a better way of living, always inspires me and makes my heart joyful. You are amazing and I love you! And I will be in prayer for your journey and mine with this coveting battle. HUG!

April 29, 2014 - 10:08 am christy komar - Well said!

April 29, 2014 - 11:29 pm Jill Slywka - I struggle with this too, Chelsey. Learning contentment has been a huge part of my journey over the past several years, and something that I still feel like I'm learning everyday. I listened to a great teaching on this earlier this year by Shauna Niequist (I know, I know, I'm kind of obsessed!) on Psalm 16. Maybe you listened/watched it too. If not though, I'd recommend taking 30 minutes to watch. She has some valuable thoughts. http://media.willowcreek.org/midweekexperience/psalm-16/#content

May 5, 2014 - 2:14 pm chelsey - Thank you, Christy!

May 5, 2014 - 2:15 pm chelsey - Thanks, Mama :)