"Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn't know you had, and dealing with fears you didn't know existed." -Linda Wooten

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

There's No Use Crying (or yelling) Over Spilled Milk

*I know it isn't Thursday - but here is a 'throwback' post from October 2012

We woke up this morning to a pretty terrible thunderstorm, in the middle of October - are you kidding me!? I am NOT, nor will I EVER be a fan of storms - and I guess that fear has kind of rolled over into both of my daughters.

Nevaeh sat down at the dining room table for breakfast, 5 minutes later I saw her sitting in the living room, eating her waffle so she "wasn't too close to the windows."

Okay - so this parlayed fear isn't something I am proud of - but I'm working on it.

A few bolts of lightning hit a little too close to home so we shut off the TV and Nevaeh and Lillian spend the remainder of the morning right on my heels, following me through the house, as if they are actually outrunning the storm...then the milk spilled.

Nevaeh was carrying her plate around the house - with her cup of milk on top of the plate. I barely got "please be careful with your milk" out of my mouth, and you guessed it, milk everywhere; all down her school clothes and all over my clean tile. And I snapped!! There she was, a chocolate milk mess - with fear in her eyes as another rumble of thunder sounded.

All she was trying to do was stay close to me to help squander the fear of the storm raging outside our home - when I started raging one inside. 

I saw the defeat in her eyes. I felt terrible. She changed clothes, I cleaned the mess, and we went on about our morning.

We always say our prayers in the car as we're driving to school and daycare - and after prayer this morning, I felt convicted. I stole a little bit of my daughter's joy this morning - all because cleaning up that mess was inconvenient for me. So, I swallowed my pride, looked my 5 year old little big girl in the eyes and said "I'm sorry Nevaeh, I shouldn't have gotten upset with you for spilling the milk. It was an accident and accidents are okay. I'm sorry I yelled at you." And just as any child would, she forgave me and that bright smile reappeared. 

Sometimes I find myself flying through my life - so caught up in the responsibilities of my career and keeping my home in order that I forget how precious my moments are with my two little blessings. Every mistake is a lesson. This morning, over spilled milk, I could have reassured Nevaeh that "It's okay. It's an accident, we can fix this." I could have had some patience and understanding, knowing that she was already a little anxious with the thunder and lightning. But I didn't. I forgot about the importance of the moment and reacted in a terrible way. I wish I could take it back and would have used that moment differently. But all I could do was apologize and try harder next time.

Kids grow up too fast.

One minute it's all nursing and lullabies then the next thing you know it's shuttling from one practice or event to another, homework, bath time, and then...graduation. 

I am reserving to slow down a little bit and enjoy this time with my kids. To play, get outside and run around - to show grace. I just want to soak up their childhood, because all too soon it will be gone and I will be left with a lot of "I wish I would've done this instead". Hopefully, I will learn to appreciate the little moments more - even if it includes spilled milk.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tasty Tuesday - Candied Carrots

***I promise to work on my picture quality :)
Our family loves these carrots. They are super easy and taste SOOO good! They make the perfect side dish. I like to serve these with pot roast, mashed potatoes & green beans. The kiddos love these!!
1 pound baby cut carrots
2 tablespoons of diced butter
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
*additional brown sugar and white sugar to season to taste
1. Place carrots in a pot of salted water and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat to a high simmer (I do medium-high, your stove may be better behaved than mine!) Cook 20 - 30 minutes. Do not let the carrots get mushy.
2. Drain the carrots.
3. Reduce heat to its lowest setting and return the carrots to the pan. Stir in butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper.
 *We like our carrots sweet - so I also add a few pinches of regular sugar here and a few more pinches of brown sugar.
4. Cook for an additional 3 to 5 minutes - until sugar is bubbly. Serve!!

Monday, January 19, 2015

From Chaos to Cozy

Keeping the house clean and in order is a challenge for many of us ladies!! I am a total perfectionist - and well, perfectionism and children just can't live in the same house with one another. This will be one of those areas where you MUST give yourself grace.

You need a plan if you are going to keep your stuff together - trust me, I have learned this lesson the hard way. If you wing it, it won't happen and you will find yourself flying into a tizzy every time someone comes over.

Early in my marriage - the Flylady saved my life - or, at least my sanity. Although I don't adhere to all of her practices now - I took what I learned from her and adapted it to work for our family. 

Here's what works for us...

I do a few things everyday - to keep the chaos under control. 

*Make the bed
I do this as soon as I get out of bed in the morning. The girls make their own beds as well.

*Wash, dry, fold and put away one load of laundry
I do at least one load of laundry a day. Lately, I have been getting up early enough in the morning to wash and dry a load before work. That evening when I get home from work - while dinner is on the stove or in the oven, I fold that one load. The kids put away their own clothes after I have folded them.

*Load and/or unload the dishwasher
I try to keep the sink free of dirty dishes. It just instantly makes the kitchen look better if the sink is clean. 

*Empty Trash
This may not need to be done everyday. Seems like our family generates enough trash for two families!!

*15 minute pickup 
While dinner is cooking or after dinner is over - I like to spend just a few minutes tidying up. I check homework, sign the girls' planners, put away shoes, coats, mail, random lying objects, etc. 

*Swish & Swipe the bathroom (I got this from the Flylady)
Every evening before I take my own shower, I wipe our sink down, wipe down our toilet, give it a good swish, and wipe down our shower. I keep Clorox wipes and a Magic Eraser (they really are magical!) under the sink in our bathroom. Trust me - when someone wakes up at 2am with a stomach virus and they spend 2 hours hugging the toilet, they will be glad its clean!!

*Sanitize kitchen counters
Because I'm a complete germ-a-phobe and have a love/hate relationship with preparing meat - I sanitize my kitchen counters at least a dozen times a day (it seems)

As soon as you get into the habit of doing these things, it just becomes a part of your day. These things really don't take that much time - and in my own experience - really cut down on the madness in our home.

I had read several blogs (Women Living Well and Time Warp Wife) that suggest breaking down the housework over the course of a week. For example: Monday's you clean bathrooms, Tuesday you sweep and mop, Wednesday you dust...etc.

That may work great for you - if so, I recommend checking out both of the two blogs listed above and checkout their housekeeping schedules.

I do a "weekly home blessing" (from the Flylady) on Thursday of each week. Because I keep our home fairly clean through the week - with each of my daily tasks - I can complete my "home blessing" in 1-2 hours. This may take longer or less time depending on the size of your home (and your mess). 

Weekly Home Blessing
Dust and polish all furniture
Sweet & Mop all hardwood and tile floors
Vacuum the carpet in the bedrooms
Clean the bathroom
Windex all mirrors
Swiffer dust the blinds, pictures and artwork on the walls
Febreeze curtains and closets
Clean the kitchen counters

I'd like to add - that my husband and I tend to be neat freaks anyway. We just naturally keeps things tidied up (for the most part) and our girls do a good job (with a little prodding) at keeping their bedroom and playroom tidied up. I know some people don't have this tendency - and this area may be a challenge for you. I encourage you to give it a try. Remember, purpose is greater than perfection!! You will NOT, I repeat, will NOT have a perfectly clean home with children in the house. And you shouldn't spend more time cleaning messes than playing with the kiddos. 

I hope this helps - or at least gives you a good starting point to get your own house under control. Once it becomes a habit, these things run along smoothly.

And yes - I have weeks when I get in a funk and don't adhere to my routine well - but I regret it every.single.time. Playing catch up is no fun, so I feel the extra effort each day really makes a big difference.

Be sure to check out the links through this post for other great ideas!!

How do you keep the chaos away? Are you a planner or a "wing it" kinda gal? Do you do a little each day or one day of cleaning?

**Next week we will talk to-do lists and getting the kiddos involved!!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Give Yourself Grace

Grace...it's something we talk about. It's something we encourage others to show to one another or even give themselves. We tell sinners that we are saved by God's grace and they can be too. Grace...it can often be something that is easier to give, than receive.
I know that I am so unworthy of God's grace on my life. Jesus laid down his life and took on my sin - and there is nothing I can do that will ever repay that debt. And that is where grace comes in. No, there isn't ANYTHING I can do to earn it - God freely gives it.
And as mamas, wives, friends, employees, etc. - it's something we have to learn to give ourselves.
You will not be the perfect mom, you can't be super woman, you will fail your husband and your children. All of these are inevitable. However, we as women hold ourselves to such a high standard - we strive for absolute perfection! Trust me, I am preaching to the choir, I know. If for no one else, this post is totally for me...about me.
There will never be enough hours in the day to get it all done. Season after season will pass when you don't do everything you set out to do. And that's ok. Time goes on...
But instead of giving ourselves the grace we often pour out on others - we feel guilty. We live with regret. That monologue of "could have" "should have" is constantly playing the background.
Give yourself grace mama.
The whole reason I started this blog was because I have been in that place. My to-do list was a mile long, I went over and beyond to meet the needs of those around me. And honestly, I wasn't doing it all to the glory of God - it was often to the glory of Michelle. I liked that satisfaction of doing it all or at least seeming to be doing it all. I wanted to be super woman - when really...all I was, was a worn out woman.
And that worn out woman would eventually have enough. My priorities were so skewed. Weariness sets in and gentleness and kindness disappears. We become consumed with the project at hand and forget about the purpose behind it.
You're right. You can't do it all. Your house will get messy. You and husband will argue. You will yell at the kids. You will lose patience. You will be unkind. You will become distracted. You will be selfish. You will be envious of other mamas that seem to have it all together.
You will put on a few too many pounds. You won't cook every night of the week. You will be unorganized. You will lose stuff. (yes, even your mind!) You too will become worn out. You will lose hope. But don't lose sight of this...
God's word says...
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.   - 2 Corinthians 12:8-9
Mama...God's grace is sufficient for you. When you feel overwhelmed, exhausted and are on the verge of giving up...go to grace.
Yes, God has called us to this wonderful ministry of motherhood. You, friend, are blessed beyond measure. But you can NOT do this on your own. Understand that your parenting, your marriage, your home is your ministry. Do it to the glory of God - and God will sustain you.
Let yourself off the hook. You are human, you will fail and that's ok.
This weekend - don't be so consumed with the to-do's that you forget how to be mama. Remember - earlier this week we talked about purpose being greater than perfection. That is true in ALL areas of your life. 
Have some grace for mama today!!


Friday, January 16, 2015

Fun Friday???

Yeah...so this is what I came home to yesterday...
You know that old saying..."when it rains, it pours"...well - the flood gates have opened at the Collins house.
Of course, this is perfect timing (note sarcasm). My husband and I just started Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University. What little we had saved is now going into a new bathroom. Did I mention that the bathroom floor literally fell through??? Yes, this is not an intentional remodel. This is a MUST, unless we want to start taking baths in the kitchen sink and using the neighbors' 'facilities'. This is a less than ideal situation.
I should have known better than to ask God to help me with my patience, to help me with my gentleness and attitude - because ladies, this is on.my.last.nerve.
So yeah - this is a HUGE lesson in patience, and gentleness and understanding. Whoever said God doesn't answer prayers has not met my God - and it seems He also has a sense of humor :)
But ya'll, I am blessed with a handsome man that is handy. Where I see this as an inconvenience, he sees this as an adventure. This is one of those times when my weakness are his strengths! Boy did God know what he was doing when he put the two of us together!! And I'm so glad He saw it fit for me to be his wife.
This is one of those times where complaints and laments come easy - but praise and appreciation is what needs to be proclaimed.
I get it...I really do. Thanks for the reminder God. Sometimes He has to let us go through a little inconvenience to truly appreciate what He has blessed us with.
Today I am thankful for the one, tiny little bathroom all of 4 of us share. I am thankful for a husband who works hard for his family. I am thankful for two little girls who haven't even breathed a sign of complaint about this whole mess of a situation...and I'm thankful my parents just live right down the road from us...and have been such a HUGE help during this whole ordeal!!
I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!! How is God stretching you this week? Have you seen the blessing in the mess?

You might also like: