Perspective

Last week I was going to write a post about perspective and how it’s everything. Our moments, years and lives are shaped by it. I can have the exact same day with the exact wrong perspective and I feel like the world is caving in on me.

The day I began this post, I had a great perspective. Paisley had slept from 9:00-6:30am the night before. Change-your-life kind of sleep.

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We ate at Waffle Champion for lunch. Met our dear friends’ new baby, Foster Bradley. Made faces with Paisley for about an hour while Finn napped. She’s gotten so much happier these days. Praise Jesus! We went on a run in perfect weather at my favorite time of evening.

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Perspective was optimistic.

Then the weekend came. Joey was out of town for a college retreat and my sweet mom drove down to help me take care of the kids.

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They were fighting colds and whined all weekend long. I began to think Paisley was reverting to her old ways. I was reverting to my old ways, feeling like I’m just not cut out for parenthood. I left this post in “Drafts” for a week because I didn’t have anything nice to say.

I’m selfish and these kids were cramping my style. I can no longer sleep in or sleep at all sometimes. Joey and I can’t just escape to Colorado for a climbing trip. Babysitters are expensive. Daycare is expensive. Mornings start early and days end late. Car rides are loud. My shoulders are soaked in drool or decorated with boogers.

Parenthood is nothing if not sacrifice.

“After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.” 2 Cor. 12:14,15

Paul was referring to finances and the Corinthian Church here, but the implication is the same: parenthood begs personal sacrifice. When I resist this letting go, my perspective suffers.

Today I’m choosing gratitude. Selflessness. Christ in me. I choose to “spend myself” on behalf of them. And suddenly her cries are sweet and her drool makes me laugh.

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His relentless questions are adorable, not annoying.

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Joey’s coffee stains on the counter (and the floor) mean I have a husband who brews decaf for me when I’m running late. Blessings. Perspective is a choice.

Raising Obadiah

I choose fiction every time. Give me an adventure tale, a dystopian society, or a historical romance. I will actually finish these books.

Finn had a blast exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

Finn had a blast exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

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When it comes to non-fiction, I’d rather glean advice from a wise friend or interpret Scripture myself instead of trusting the author. Maybe that makes me arrogant.

But these days we are deep in the trenches of newborn craziness and toddler independence. So when I found Devotions for Sacred Parenting by Gary Thomas stashed away in my hope chest, I decided it was worth cracking open. I love it; so simple and so profound.

Today’s chapter was about Obadiah, a name that means, “servant of Yahweh.” He discussed the issue of why we choose to have kids and that in some cases we parent them based on that purpose.

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For some, having a baby may have been an accident. So perhaps these children are raised haphazardly, as though they were not exactly part of the plan. Some people fear being alone, so they create children who are dependent, sheltered and needy. Some parents want a redo; another chance at childhood. So they raise their children the opposite of the way they were raised.

If your goal is for your child to be “happy,” you’ll buy them whatever they want instead of teaching them simplicity, self-control and responsibility.

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Happy girl. Photo by Laura.

If you want successful children, you’ll spare no expense to get them into the right schools with the right clothes and the right connections to get the right job. If you desire athletic or achieving children, you’ll provide them with the best coaching, the most exclusive clubs, expensive equipment and ample advice to help them become the athlete that you were–or perhaps the athlete you weren’t.

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Finn loved exploring the Myriad Gardens this weekend.

Christian parents should have a different aim: that their child become an Obadiah. A servant of God. Malachi 2:5-6 sums it up…godly children are in awe of Him, they revere His Word, walk with Yahweh, live peacefully with others and turn from sin. If we realize that there is no higher goal in parenthood than raising children who love Jesus, we are willing to help them face the realities of frustration and disappointment they’ll find in the “world.” We are committed to training, correcting, encouraging and praying for our kids daily. Hourly. Even when they are screaming in the car and the light just won’t. turn. green.

While I still want Finn and Paisley to develop their abilities, find fantastic spouses and land jobs they love, my purpose for them is higher. I want them to become like Christ. I pray often that they will know Him much better and more intimately than I do.

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Thomas concludes the chapter:

May the prayer of our hearts be, “Lord, refine my motivations, purify my actions, and energize my heart so that I do all I can to help my children find their greatest joy and their highest aim in serving you.”

Time to check my motives and realign my goals for my babies.

The Worship Couch

I take lots of deeeeeep breaths these days.

It’s hard being Paisley’s mom. She’s loud. And some days it’s hard being mom to a child in a wheelchair. Nothing’s easy or all that accessible. Soccer fields still make me cry.

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On Sunday evening, after a few hours of Paisley’s incessant crying and Finn waking up crying as a result of it, I was certain the Lord had made a mistake. I just don’t have what it takes to be their mom. I’m not patient enough or mature enough or laid back enough. Truthfully, I wanted to get in my car and drive away.

Joey listened so tenderly to my sobbing pity party that evening. Sometimes I just have to verbalize things; like “I can’t be their mom anymore,” to realize how ridiculous I sound. And I needed him to remind me of the truth–that I can and will be their mom.

Monday I had a couple cancellations before it was time to pick the kids up from school. For some reason I didn’t spend the hour cleaning or napping like I usually do. The Lord drew me to the living room. One couch was smothered with clean laundry. I programmed Pandora to play the All Sons and Daughters station and I folded 2T pj’s and newborn pink onesies, stacking them neatly. Once every sock had its partner, I plopped onto the opposite couch, lifted my face to the ceiling and sang along to the music:

I surrender all.

I surrender all.

All to Thee my blessed Savior;

I surrender all.

Tears released the insurmountable stress I’ve been harboring in my spirit the past two months–feelings of  inadequacy, exasperation and sometimes insanity. I hadn’t “worshiped on the couch” since my sophomore year of college. Back then it was a Discman playing Shane Bernard on a couch infused with the smell of burnt popcorn. But the purpose was the same: to sing anthems of praise to my Lord, begging Him to be near me as I navigate my current struggle.

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You
Jesus, You’re my hope and stay

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

EVERY HOUR I need Him. If I need him in other aspects of my life, why wouldn’t I need Him in the most difficult one–as a mom? I keep waiting and praying for Paisley to change. To just be content. But I’m the adult here…I’m the one who needs to become content. I can’t wait until the intense hours to cry out the Lord. I need to be spiritually and mentally prepared for them before they even happen. I need to be in the Word.

Jane reminded me today that He is refining me because He loves me. This isn’t the way I’d choose to be refined, but it’s a good thing I’m not in charge. His ways are higher than my ways.

“See, I have refined you, though not as silver;
I have tested you in the furnace of affliction” (Isaiah 48:10).

Refinement through fire is anything but comfortable. But it produces the purest, most precious metals.

The last song I heard was one about motherhood by Bethany Dillon, “You’re the Best Song.”

Good morning
You and the sun are up before I’m ready
But ready or not, you need me
So here I am

I’m learning that in the long hard days
There is beauty…

And though I’m tired now
You’re worth every sleepless night
You’re worth it all, cause I know…

You’re the best song I’ll ever write
And we’re humming and dancing through the years together
You’re the best song I’ll ever write
And I pray you’ll hear Jesus in it when you’re older

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My Beauty

I really love my kids. They’re so worth it. The Lord designed them specifically for Joey and I, and I am exactly the mom Finn and Paisley need. A mom who worships on the couch.

Macarena Mary

Mary Lou is turning 80! The Eitreim family (mom’s side) all convened at my parents’ home in Bella Vista to celebrate. I hadn’t seen my extended family in over 2 years and it was such a blessing to be together. We missed you, Becca Boo.

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We shared meals and air mattresses and lake floaties.

 

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My kids were so well loved; Finn was on attention overload. One night we worshiped together in the living room while Joey played the guitar.

 

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The next morning, we surprised Gram with a tea party while the boys went skeet shooting.

 

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Gram telling wedding stories.

Gram telling wedding stories.

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The Man Van.

Grandma Mary requested one thing: a dance party and pizza. So that’s what we did. We rented out their neighborhood clubhouse and danced. We did the chicken dance, the cupid shuffle, some square-dancing, had a hula-hoop contest, and Gram’s favorite, the Macarena.

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I love my family. No one was “too cool;” everyone shook their groove thang. ;) Just when we thought it was all over, Grandpa Milt announced that it was time for the grand finale. Grandma disappeared. Minutes later, Gramps hit “play” on the boom box. Marching band music and the toot of a whistle sounded in the hallway while Grandma marched in wearing her old majorette uniform. White boots, a red hat, blue whistle and her baton. She flipped that thing around her graceful arthritic fingers like a teenager. She even tossed it and caught it under her legs, brimming with pride. To say we were impressed is an understatement. Jaws dropped as we watched our matriarch perform. The confidence of this woman is beautiful.

 

4 generations

4 generations

Grandma Mary, you are the life of the party. You’re classy and kind. Strong-willed and resilient. You raised three stellar kids, have been married almost 60 years and fought cancer twice.

 

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Thank you for teaching me how to be grateful for what I have and generous with it too. You are cherished. Happy Birthday (on the 25th)!

Big Things

This past weekend I attended my annual fitness convention, Dallas Mania. It was my sixth year to refresh and re-energize for my career.

I remember the first time I attended Mania. I was in the best shape of my life as Group Fitness Coordinator for Baylor University, but I was also the most insecure. I viewed the other trainers and instructors in the room as competition, comparing myself against them. I didn’t intend to, it just happened. Once I had Finn, those comparisons didn’t matter anymore. I was so proud to have made it through a really tough pregnancy and a tougher first several months with my son. I was a fit mom; I didn’t care who was “fitter.” This year I wasn’t exactly in the best shape…the heaviest I’ve ever been, actually. I thought maybe I’d get all weird and comparative, but I didn’t.

Cass and I taking BodyShred from Jillian Michaels

I was strong and able to keep up–just so grateful for the opportunity to be there. Joey’s mom came to help him with the kids…thank you so much, Becky!

At a break in my schedule, I took a book out to the pool terrace and plopped down into a lounge chair, sore and exhausted.

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I’ve written about Restless before…I’ll be honest, I just don’t read for any length of time these days. I’ve started about five books, but finished zero.

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Anyway, I was challenged by Jennie Allen to dream big and trust God. Not to worry about the “how,” or about what people would think and how they might question my motives. If I feel called to something “bigger,” I should have the faith to step out.

I don’t really know what that “big dream” is yet or how it will play out, but I think it involves fitness and writing and speaking and my son who can’t walk. I closed my eyes, allowing the hot Texas wind to dry my sweat, praying and thanking the Lord for my beautiful, imperfect life.

Later in the day, THE Jillian Michaels was our keynote speaker. The Next Level girls (Caitlyn, Cassie and Megan) saved me a spot four rows from the stage!

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When asked about her road to success, Jillian replied, “There’s a difference between thinking you’re better than everyone else and thinking you’re deserving [of something bigger]. Saying, ‘Why not me?’.” I think it takes a lot of bravery to act upon your dreams. It involves risk, and cowards don’t like risk.

I drove home that evening alone, listening to a crackling radio because my phone was almost dead. Disappointed with the cheesy songs I heard on the Christian radio station, I turned it off and asked the Lord to speak to me. I began to feel that same pull toward something bigger…dreams of making a difference. Then I prayed for the energy to be Finn and Paisley’s mom and prepared myself to come home to a crying baby.

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This is what she thinks of her 2 month sticker...

I don’t want to jinx myself, but Paisley Dawn has been doing so well lately. She’s still a fussy baby, but she’s not crying incessantly in the evenings anymore and is much easier to pacify. She had her 2 month check up today and the doctor said she’s more like a 4 month old physically…she has rolled from stomach to back, can hold her entire chest up for minutes in tummy time, and bears weight on her legs.

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She and I had the best time smiling and cooing at each other tonight while Joey is at work. I’m falling in love with her; dreaming big things for my girl and excited to see the little lady she’ll become.

Baby Weight

My master’s thesis at Baylor University was on Postpartum Obesity.  Before ever even planning for children, I was terrified of not losing the baby weight. The idea of my body ballooning and then deflating was daunting, especially because I was entering a career in which my body is my “equipment.”

The research I found was clear:

If you gain more than the recommended 20 to 25 pounds during pregnancy, or if you don’t lose the extra weight within six months of delivery, you are statistically likely to carry an extra 20 pounds, 10 years later. If you are overweight to begin with, that number is even higher. The six-month window for losing pregnancy weight seems to be critical. (Reichman, Today Health)

There’s debate about the recommended amount of weight gain. I believe 20-35 pounds is more accurate.

 

As a new or new-again mom, you’ve got a lot against you when it comes to weight loss.

-Sleep deprivation. This causes hormonal imbalances (of ghrelin and leptin) that can actually make you gain weight.

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-Stress. Case in point: U.S. interrogators blast the sound of crying babies to “break” Iraqi prisoners. As stress increases, so does the stress hormone cortisol, which inflates the sugar levels in your bloodstream.

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-Super nice people bring you meals. I don’t know about you, but if dessert is provided, I eat it. And my friends are all such dang good cooks. ;)

-Recovery. If you had a rough delivery or if you have c-sections like me, your recovery time is six weeks minimum. Sometimes moms are in physical pain all six of those weeks. Who wants to exercise when you’re miserable?

-Selflessness. This time is not about you. It’s about the new addition to your family. You’re giving of yourself by the moment, and it’s easy to feel guilty taking “mommy time.”

 

I thought it might be helpful to share my experience with postpartum weight loss. Keep in mind that I exercise for a living…so it’s not fair, really. It will be much more difficult to fit in workouts (though NOT impossible) if you aren’t in the fitness industry.

My story:

I gained 28 pounds with Finn. Bed rest for first 4 months and able to do light exercise for last 5 months. Lost all but 3 pounds…3 pounds that weren’t necessary to lose.

I gained 37 pounds with Paisley. Vigorous exercise throughout pregnancy–including running for first 5 months and weight lifting and teaching spinning until the week before her delivery. I’ve lost 22 of those pounds to date (2 months).

My body is very different the second time around. I’m sure this isn’t the case for every mom, but it has been for me. I’ve got cellulite in places I never thought possible. My ribs expanded and my stomach is not deflating as quickly as it did with Finn. My wedding ring is snug.

My Method of Weight Loss:

1. Walk! Walk fast, walk hills. Get moving! This is something you can do with baby and it’s relatively pain-free.

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2. Limit carbs and desserts/sweets of any kind. I only allow them on the weekend. And now that I’m not eating dairy or caffeine, desserts aren’t as much fun anymore anyway.

3. Use a calorie counting app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It!. I don’t normally count calories, but when I’m trying to lose baby weight, it’s very helpful.

4. Once cleared from your doc, get uncomfortable. Work out hard. Sweat. Spike your heart rate. You’ll have to work twice as hard as you did pre-baby to see the same results.

I ran stadiums with a few clients this morning. Whew! Out. Of. Shape.

I ran stadiums with a few clients this morning. Whew! Out. Of. Shape.

Use the intense workouts to rid yourself of stress and frustration. It’s amazing how refreshed you can feel from a brisk walk as opposed to a cat nap. Or use the investment of your sweet new baby as motivation.

Cycling has been easy on my stomach.

Cycling has been easy on my stomach.

I work out 6 days/week. Teaching TRX, Spinning, and Kickboxing. Walking hills daily, occasionally running…thank you, colicky baby Paisley! ;) I’m not doing abdominal exercises yet, however. A stitch popped a couple weeks ago and it just doesn’t feel right yet.

5. Hire a trainer. They will track your progress with measurements other than the scale. I hired my boss and friend, Angie, to train me after both babies. She motivates me and I don’t have to think, I just do. I’ve had the privilege of training at least a dozen women postpartum and helped them reach their pre-baby goals…some even became fitter than before baby!

7. Find a pair of jeans or pants that you’d like to fit into again. Not from high school. From before baby. And try them on every week or so to track your progress. Jeans don’t lie.

8. Flood yourself with water. Especially if you’re breast feeding. Buy a nice water bottle (I like glass ones!).

9. Speaking of breast feeding, do it if you can. Aside from the benefits to baby, you’ll burn at least 500 calories/day. Release yourself of any guilt if you can’t or choose not to. No judgment.

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10. Give yourself grace. This is by far my hardest step. I feel pressure to become fit again almost immediately–probably because of my job and probably because I’m type-A. This is unrealistic. Set realistic goals. Mine are: 1) Lose the weight in 6 months (Christmas Day exactly!) . 2) Fit into old jeans when it’s cold enough to wear jeans. October? 2) Be back to “normal,” if not stronger/fitter by Paisley’s first birthday.

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Hiking at about 4 weeks.

Hope this helps! Feel free to ask questions; I’d love to help. I consider it my calling.

The Driveway

I went back to work this week. I hadn’t realized how much I missed it until I arrived in the studio Monday morning. I love my job…I’ve told you that before. It’s actually a de-stressing environment. I think stay-at-home moms are superstars.

I’ve been off dairy now for three weeks to try quell Paisley’s colic. Kinda helped. Not really. I’ll switch to formula soon if I have to. I quit caffeine for about the past six days and it’s made quite a difference.

Until today. Today was terrible. I can’t even sugar-coat it.

Life goes on, of course–we took Finn to therapy where he’s learning to use the RGO to walk.

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He’s incredible, really. We returned library books. Went on a walk. Finn and I washed the cars. Played trains (thanks, Eli!). Took baths…all to the tune of Paisley’s crying. I think there was maybe an hour total today when she wasn’t red-faced mad. 

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I paced the driveway for the last 20 minutes. Joey is doing some college ministry thing this evening, so I’m solo. I bopped barefoot, up and down the cracking concrete in snakelike rows like a soldier, battling the war inside her. Praise Jesus for the breeze from the south, drying our sweat. I prayed to the Father with furrowed brow as neighbors drove past. “Lord give us peace and rest. Peace and rest. Peace and rest..” She finally relented.

This is hard stuff. People told Joey and I that marriage would be hard. Unbearable at times; that we’d have to choose daily to continue despite the struggle. We have our issues, for sure, but I could never relate to that sentiment. Marriage honestly hasn’t been that hard for us.

This, however, is hard. I’m forced to choose by the minute to bite my tongue and dispel my anxiety, anger and frustration.

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Maybe you can’t relate; maybe your babies were content and snuggly. Finn sure was. If that’s the case for you, thank the Lord. Right now. Thank Him. Because I wouldn’t wish these “witching hours” on my worst enemy. They make you feel insane.

Now, I know we have friends who would relieve us, and we’ve reached out a few times when desperate. But honestly, I feel like a wuss. I have friends with three and four kids to juggle. Friends who’s husbands are away for months at a time. And I’m sorry, but I’m just not calling anyone last minute on a Friday night to come “hang out with me while my child screams.” Maybe it’s my pride, but I feel like we should be able to do this on our own. I want to be able to calm my child…it feels like a mother’s right, you know? If anyone should be able to soothe their baby, it’s momma.

She's had a few really sweet moments. I know this is the baby she wants to be.

She’s had a few really sweet moments. I know this is the baby she wants to be.

My doll.

My doll.

I want my home to be a place of rest. Calm. Comfort. Maybe that sounds boring to you, but that’s home to me. Somewhere my family feels safe; like we can just be. We had finally found a groove with Finn, but now our routine, our schedule and our sleep patterns are uprooted. My diet is restricted and my housekeeping is pathetic. Releasing control has always been difficult for me, probably since I was in the womb. But there is no other option. So here I am, palms open, relinquishing control once again. We can do this…one deep breath at a time.

Gotta go…she’s starting again.