Any of you who have been around for any length of time know that I want this little corner of the internet to be a positive, encouraging place to go. There is so much negativity in the world that I don’t want to add to that. But today I have to be real. I feel like 2014 has not gotten off to the best start.

nashville1-blog There has been health issues for most of the year (which thankfully are seeming to work out right now – my digestive issues are healing thanks to Whole30 and I also got positive news that a lump that I found was just a cyst. my mother being a breast cancer survivor makes things a little more nerve wracking when something is amiss). There have been really hard things going on with people around me that I’m continually burdened by. I can’t elaborate on any of them, but they’re just so heartbreaking. My paternal grandmother passed away a few days ago. Dave’s car pretty much died earlier this year and rodents wreaked some havoc on my car when we were on vacation. My website update has been 4 months of continued aggravation. Of course, there were some amazing things that have happened in the first half of the year – vacations taken, records broken, bills being paid. I’m so grateful for all of those things. {and yes, I know that there are plenty of people that are going through MUCH harder things than these that I’ve mentioned}

nashville3-blog I’m just weary. So I’m admitting that to you all today. I’m tired. I’m sad for some situations around me. However, today we got to get away with my parents and my niece & nephew to relax where there was no cell service. It was so needed and lots of laughs were heard echoing through the trees. I got to sip my IZZE and watch my daughter do the stand up paddle board for the first time. I got to see my dad catch the biggest blue gill that I’ve ever seen. I’m so grateful for moments like this where I can just float, pray and enjoy the beauty of it all.

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And love like I’m not scared
Give when it’s not fair
Live life for another
Take time for a brother
Fight for the weak ones
Speak out for freedom
Find faith in the battle
Stand tall but above it all
Fix my eyes on YOU

{fix my eyes, for king & country)

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Hello Summer! The day after the kids got out of school we headed down to Orlando so that Dave could do his annual flight training and so we could have a family vacation. Dave’s parents came along – I’m so grateful that we get along so well.

pool-fun2 cypress-gardens pool-fun1 legoland IMG_0625blog palms2dave-kids-cypressgardens banyan-treedaveandI family-faces palms family mommas-boy disney As you can see, there were tons of good times…we had a lot of late nights, delicious dinners out, fun in the ocean and at theme parks, and swimming in the pool. We also had a few snags…both kids got stung by wasps on the playground (at different times) and I got barbed by a sting ray about an hour into our beach day one day (talk about intense pain). We love going on family trips but don’t get to go as much now that both kids are in school. We love making memories. They’re my favorite.

Last week hubs had a few days off so we went down to Nashville with his parents to a friend’s 100+ acre property. Being outside does my body good. We enjoyed the weather (and got sunburned necks), did some fishing, canoeing and hiking around the lake. It was a wonderful day and much needed. What a difference a day of relaxing can do.

cabin canoeing lake1 fishing lake2 lantern panoramic tiny-fish{somehow, I always manage to catch the smallest fish as well…}

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Every time I get to a new stage with my kids, I feel like there are 1,067 things I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN. I mean, how did I get to be this old, have read this many books, have done this much schooling, taught this many children, and I somehow failed to get all these tips/tricks/information I absolutely NEED to know? Because that’s really the astonishing thing here.

So, my oldest is all of 3 right now, and then I have a 2 year old and a 1 year old. We’re swimming in toddlers over here. And here are the top 10 things it would have been so much easier if you had told me.

10. Motherhood was, is, and always will be a competition. This one from previous Top 10 lists just continues on past pregnancy, early infanthood, toddlerhood… it never ends. Yours took longer to potty-train, eats from only one food group, sleeps less every night, taught herself to read, colors in the lines better than mine. This is the real Olympics for women – motherhood.

9. Buy costumes, dress-ups and princess dresses. Out the wazoo. Everyday is a new opportunity to reinvent yourself if you’re a toddler.

8. When you’re a toddler, throw around big words you don’t really understand, like a new college grad. I just heard something like this today: “Mommy, I usually shutted the door indeed because Daddy wasn’t here.” Just throw those around like confetti – they’re hilarious. Really – gut-busting hysterical!

7. Completely irrational fit-throwing becomes an art form. I know that I know that my kids are betting with and daring each other to throw the craziest, most outrageous, most absurd fit over the color of a sippy cup. They speak in code, with hand signals. I know they do, I just can’t prove it yet.

6. When your child is melting down in line at the store, a sign magically appears on you that says, “Give me advice about this situation.” “Please stare at me and give me advice.” You’re sweating so much, even the ice cream in your cart is melting faster, and another helpful woman thinks what you need is a new trick. So whoever you are in this scenario, BITE YOUR TONGUE.

5. PRESCHOOL IS LOOMING. Just when you think you can start to relax a little bit, your kid is talking, eating mostly on their own with utensils, putting on their own Crocs, starting down the potty-training road (I’m going to get to that one – hang on), someone drops this A-bomb on you at a playdate, “So, is Claris starting preschool this fall? Did you already sign her up?” Sweating. Blood pressure goes up. Preschool? Seriously? Is it already time for that? Hyperventilating.

4. Preschoolers are fickle; completely unpredictable. Today I might like taking a bath, tomorrow I will not. Today I might like Dora, tomorrow I will not. Today I might like broccoli, tomorrow I will not. But I will alwaysalwaysalways love macaroni and cheese. Every. single. day.

3. You still have that baby weight. Just get over it. You can run when they graduate.

2. Around about this time, they decide they need less sleep. And there goes nap time. But you know what, not all the time. Not everyday. Just sometimes. Refer back to #4.

1. Potty training. I have done a lot of things in my lifetime. Not necessarily Nobel Prize worthy, but I’ve taught school, I’ve translated books and had them published, I’ve worked in college admissions, I’ve waited tables, and nothing – NOTHING – compares to potty training. And you “we-did-it-in-3-days” people, just stop talking. Because nothing even comes close to training a child to do their business in a toilet. So even if someday I do invent a cure for malaria, potty training will still go at the VERY TOP of my resumé. Forever.

as with the Top 10 things I Wish I’d Known About Being Pregnant, there are a million things i can’t believe i didn’t know about newborns and the first three months of baby-life.

i have friends who, when they were expecting, read every book, magazine, blog and Bible verse they could get their swollen little hands on, to be prepared for the advent of their little one.  did i?  oh, no.  heavens, no.  “women centuries ago didn’t have Babywise or Babywhisperer books and they got along just fine.  i mean, mary, the mother of Jesus didn’t get a subscription to Parenting magazine; susannah wesley didn’t need those What to Expect books.  i’m a relatively savvy, competent human – this is totally something i can just wing.”

who was i kidding?

because i WAS a relatively savvy, competent human…until Postpartum-Hormone-Crashing.

Bun's picture 10. Building a Healthy Baby.  this is what our ‘childbirth’ or ‘Lamaze’ class was called.  a class to get you through the delivery. then you get through the delivery.  now what?  i got a 6-wk class to get me through a 6-hr process.  where’s my class for the 18-yr process?

9. There is no such thing as a schedule. those people who tell you there is?  they’re lying.  it’s just an eat-sleep-repeat cycle.  but don’t kid yourself that you’ll be able to predict times with any of it.

8. A full-time job is not 40 hrs/wk.   you go on maternity leave from your full-time job, take your baby home and have a 168 hr/wk job. going and going and going…and going…

7. It takes a village to raise a child.  the africans said it, hillary clinton wrote a book about it, and i believe it.  i had mom and my sister with me, stev home everyday, folks from church bringing food, and it took everyone of us to get (me) through the first 2 months.

IMGP09846. “I will never do that when I have kids.”  not so fast.  those of you who don’t have children, bite your tongue before you say that ever again.  i could write a whole top-10 list of things i’ve caved on.  by the time claris was only 4 months old.

5. “Breastfeeding is best.”  yeah, clearly a man keeps writing that all over the place.  hands down the hardest thing i’ve ever done.  ever.

4. Formula is not poison.  i had convinced myself i would never give my baby 2nd-best, never give her formula, because formula = cyanide, formula = arsenic, formula = ricin.  aaahhhhh… please refer back to #5.

3. You will embrace dependence.  you who were that savvy, competent person?  you will become dependent on others for sleep, food, sanity, clean laundry, a picked-up living room…all those things you spent the last 34 years learning to do for yourself.  you feel a little wee bit like your baby – helpless.

IMGP07202. You get to see your husband fall in love all over again – with someone else.  and it makes you happier than when he fell in love with you.

1. She’s a perfect little treasure.  you’ve been entrusted with something beautiful and unique.  whatever you did before that you thought was important now pales in comparison to caring for, praying for and raising this little one God gave you.  the weightiness and purpose of your life, and what you feel you’re accomplishing for eternity is bound up in this tiny thing.  there’s no way you can know what lies ahead and there’s no way you can get where you’re going without some help…