Thursday, July 25, 2013

Vacation, Sharks and Mini Donkeys

Aaah. We survived our first family beach vacation since adding Vivienne to our family. And "survived" is a pretty accurate word.

Our little family of five met my parents, brother, and sis-in-law at a secluded beach in Florida for a week of "relaxation." I had been looking forward to this vacation for months - no responsibilities, reading the stacks of books in my bag while soaking up the sun on the beach, sleeping late. (Apparently in all my dreaming, I forgot I had three children.) (Grin)

We had never been to this area of Florida before, and to be honest, as we were driving down old country roads to find our beach house, I started to have a panic attack of sorts. Where on God's green earth was Peter taking us?

And when I say that we were driving down "country roads," I'm not exaggerating. There was nothing for miles and miles. Although I did see a huge hand-painted sign that read, "Miniature Donkeys For Sale," followed by (much to my astonishment) a field FULL of miniature donkeys. What the heck? Is there some sort of demand for mini jackasses that I don't know about?


The kids' behavior for the week was, um, okay. Brie was great, actually. She loved boogie boarding in the waves with her Pappy. They had a great time.

My surfer girl

Jonah was our wild card. He doesn't really like his hands to get dirty and he doesn't really like pools or large bodies of water. So, hey, here's an idea. Let's take him to the ocean for a week of torture. But the little stinker surprised the heck out of us. He LOVED running in the sand and water! He threw tremendous tantrums every time we attempted to put shoes on him so he could walk down to the beach, but once his feet touched the sand, he was golden. I loved seeing the pure delight on his face as he played. 

My little Jonah fish

Vivienne was apparently only happy if she was being walked around or if she was outside. She seriously whined and cried and screamed unless someone was holding her. It was only slightly annoying. But she was content to head to the beach and sit in the water or the sand for hours, so that's what we did. 

My little beach baby

And for the record, I find it extremely unfair that the one-year old has a better tan than I do. She doesn't know it yet, but she'll be the envy of all her teenage friends with that olive complexion. Yay for her. (No sarcasm there...)

The highlight of our vacation, though, was the night we all gathered around the tiny television and watched... wait for it... Sharknado

Oh, yes we did. 

We sat, glued to the tv, watching what was quite possibly the most disturbing and ridiculous thing I've ever seen.  In my head, I kept screaming, "Look away, look away!" But, I'm ashamed to say that none of us could avert our eyes. It's actually quite amazing that someone could write such a dumb storyline. And then the acting. Oy... Let's not even go there. And yet, we watched every second of that movie. Every. Second.  

But how about this for coincidence: The day after we watched that intellectually stimulating film, the people next to us on the beach were fishing and guess what they caught? Yep. A shark! But not just one shark. No, no. That would've been bad enough. They caught THREE sharks. In a row. What in the world? Needless to say, that freaked me out so badly that I didn't get back in the water. I guess the bright side is that there were no sharks flying through the air...

See? I wasn't exaggerating when I said that we survived our vacation.

So... today I have something fun planned for the blog - a giveaway! I would love to give someone a copy of Lysa Terkeurst's book Unglued. In this book, Lysa writes about her experiences with losing control of her emotions and how the Lord is able to help us remain calm in the midst of frustrations. 

There were plenty of opportunities for me to lose my cool during our week at the beach. Jonah's multiple tantrums, Vivienne's constant crying. The shark-infested waters. Sleep deprivation. But for the most part, I was able to contain my emotions. For the most part. I was completely exhausted and worn out, but aside from a bit of complaining, I managed to pretty much keep it together.

But I'm wondering if any of you have experienced exhaustion, frustrations, or just straight-up madness on a vacation. Leave a comment ON THIS BLOG. (Not on Facebook. I mean you can leave a comment there too, but to be qualified for the giveaway, you must leave a comment on this blog.) Tell about a time when you came unglued or when your vacation didn't pan out exactly as you had hoped. I'll leave comments open till Saturday at noon and then randomly choose a winner.

And for the record, we really did have a great time at the beach. The kids were just being kids and were acting pretty much like a one-year old and a two-year old should act when they're away from home in a strange place for a week. I'm very thankful for nine-year olds, aunts and uncles, and nannas and pappys though. 

I wonder what our vacation will look like next year...

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Be Still

The older I get, the more quickly time flies. It seems like just yesterday, Brienne was taking her first steps. But in reality, she's almost 10 years old. That seems unbelievable to me.

Oftentimes, I feel like my life is a nonstop string of busyness. Cleaning, kissing booboos, changing diapers, listening to concerns, cooking, reading stories, giving baths. Sometimes it feels like I don't have the luxury to be still long enough to gather my thoughts.

But today was different. Today, we danced. 

Music was playing on the iPod and Brie was singing and dancing. Jonah watched her for a second then said in his sweet little voice, "Come on. Let's dance." So I scooped Vivienne up, grabbed Jonah's hand. And we danced. Just thinking about this simple act brings tears to my eyes. The pure unadulterated happiness emanating from my kids. Vivi squealing with delight as we twirled around the kitchen, Jonah giggling as we jumped to the beat, Brie laughing. Even her horror at my dancing, "Mom, stop. You're gonna give me nightmares," left us in stitches. Such a simple act - dancing in the kitchen - but one that refreshed my soul.

Later, I was busy again, doing laundry and putting away dishes. Wishing I could take a break. So I did. I stopped just for a moment to listen. And I heard Jonah singing, "Holy, Holy". What precious words of praise that he has learned, and it reminds me of God's goodness. His holiness. That He created me. The God of the universe actually took the time to dream me up and breathe life into me. He has blessed me and Peter with these three kids that fill our world with chaos and frustration and giggles and love. 

And then Jonah finished singing. "Good singing, me," he said. No self esteem issues for that sweet boy. He's too young for negative self-talk. There was only contentment and joy with the song he has sung. And I think, God must love that innocent, precious praise. Good singing, sweet boy. Good singing.

My heart is full.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Hang On

Today I'm feeling defeated. Defeated by the endless laundry. Defeated by the numbers on the scale. Defeated by the little people who live in my house. Defeated by the thought of cooking another meal. I'm worn out.

Usually, mornings are rejuvenating to me, signaling the beginning of a fresh new day. A time to forget the failures and disappointments of yesterday and to look forward to a new day with a positive attitude and a clean slate. But sometimes my kiddos don't view mornings like I do.

Especially today.

This has been the day of a thousand meltdowns, courtesy of the two-year old. And I'm only slightly exaggerating when I say "a thousand." There were meltdowns over wearing shoes, over going to the grocery store, over taking a bath, over brushing teeth, over cooking supper. (Oh, wait. That meltdown was mine...)

Today started with a post-breakfast tantrum by Jonah. And I have no idea what set him off. Between that incident, trying to brush his teeth, and putting his shoes on, we had three (yes, three!) full blown meltdowns. And it was only 8:15 a.m. In the meantime, Brienne apparently decided that it was her duty to argue with me over why she "needed" to watch tv while eating breakfast. I don't think so, missy. Thankfully, Vivienne decided to sit in silence and watch the chaos instead of adding to it. But I have a sneaking suspicion that she's taking notes...

After breakfast, Jonah refused to get in the car and go to the gym. I ended up bribing him with, "After we go to the gym, we can go to Publix and drive the buggy car." Now, what two year old wouldn't be thrilled at that prospect? Thankfully, the bribery worked, he got in the car, and we headed to the gym. 

After exercising, I got the bright idea that we should head to the library for a bit. Brie and I were both out of books to read and I can't go for very long without a book in my hand. So off to the library we went. When we got there, I put Vivi in my sling and Jonah in the stroller (which is NOT his favorite mode of transportation). Brie and I browsed the library looking for something to read as Jonah, of course, was getting restless and irritable. Finally, against my better judgment, I let him out of the stroller to play with some puzzles on the table. He had such a good time singing songs and putting puzzles together that he didn't want to leave, but somehow I finally convinced him to get in the van, thinking once we got to Publix, we'd be golden.

But guess what? Jonah decided that he didn't want to go to Publix and drive the "buggy car" today. What is this? Rebellion against the buggy car?? Is it no longer enough?? Heaven help us. Unfortunately, I had to resort to the free cookie bribe, which I swore I'd never do. And I'm sure, now that he knows Publix has cookies, I'll never be able to shop there again without getting him one. I believe it was my mother who said to me, "Don't let that little boy rule over you." Too late, Nanna. Too late...

On top of the tantrums that seemed to occur nonstop today, we also added some tween emotional breakdowns thanks to Brienne and a few shouts of what sounded like baby cursing directed at me from Vivi. Not to mention a horrible diaper blowout courtesy of the little princess. (Thankfully Peter was home to clean that one up.) At least Puke Boy didn't reemerge from earlier this week. I'm not sure my sanity could survive simultaneous  projectile vomit from one kid and projectile poop from the other. The Lord definitely knows just how much we can take before we totally go nuts on everyone.

By supper time, I felt like I was at the end of my rope, barely hanging on. And that's when I heard God whisper in my ear. "All I'm asking is that you hang on. Each moment, each day, just hang on. In your desperation, cling to Me."

Hebrews 10:36 says, "Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God's will. Then you will receive all that He has promised." And Romans 5:4 says, "Endurance develops strength of character."

To be honest, sometimes I don't want to "endure" or build my character. Sometimes I just want to run away. I'm pretty sure I said, "Mama needs a vacation," a couple times today. (Or a hundred.) But God's Word promises that if we hang on, He will give us what we need.

Do you need patience? Hang on and endure this season.
Do you need rest? Hang on and find rest in Him.
Do you need wisdom? Hang on and ask the One who can give it.
Do you need energy? Hang on and fill up with His Word.
Do you need a break? Hang on. Nap time is coming. (smile)

When I'm feeling defeated, I will cling to the truth that Christ wants to give me all that He has promised so that I can do His will. When I'm feeling defeated, I will choose to hang on.