What I Know From Becoming A Mother

This is my first Mother’s Day with my baby on his side of the womb.

What I now know since becoming a mother

I know that I like to be in control.

I know that I’m not in control.

I know that planning something your whole life doesn’t mean it will go as planned.

I know what it’s like to not eat for a whole day and I know what it’s like to eat junk to feed your body that’s begging for quick energy.

I know what it’s like to not sleep for more than 3 maximum total hours a day for months on end.

I know I’ve never loved anyone more while also wanting to run away from them.

I know being given the chance to raise Nora is incredible.

I know I will fail to meet my own expectations.

I know that no brand of diapers, disposable or cloth, will contain the powerful expulsions of my child’s sphincter.

I know I post a lot of baby pictures.

I know the total loss of any shred of vanity. Maybe someday I will have energy to even care again. 🤷🏻‍♀️

know that being a mother is my greatest accomplishment. No matter what the world says about motherhood, nothing I have done or will do is more important.

I know what it’s like to not put on a real bra (nursing bras only) for 11 months and I also know the wonder of putting on a real bra after 11 months. It felt more wonderful than I ever remembered a bra feeling btw.

I know that assault is a crime and throat punching women who complain about their easier babies is not a good idea.

I know that I care less about most everything than I did before, but that I care for my favorite people more than ever.

I know my heart will never belong to me again.

I know how to be more flexible.

I know that I am no longer the same person I was last year on this day.

I know God is using motherhood to humble me and to hold a mirror to my strengths and weaknesses.

I know that my heart flops and my stomach flutters when Nora laughs.

I know that I can’t do it all anymore.

I know a sloppy, wet, baby kiss can erase the horrors of the worst days.

I know that I would go through all the terrible parts of the last 2 years to have 2 hours with Nora now.

I know the relief that a sleeping baby brings.

I know I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s.

I know how fortunate I am to be a mother.

In 5 short years

Today is our 5 year wedding anniversary! One tradition I actually like is giving each other traditional anniversary gifts for each year. Paper for one, cotton for two, leading to 5 years being wood.

I know 5 years isn’t the longest amount of time, but it seems like a significant block of time to celebrate. A milestone of sorts. I think it’s kind of fascinating that one year is paper, also made from wood/trees, but that you have to go through more seasons before you get to the solid gifts of wood that symbolize the strong, deep roots that grow a healthy tree, much in the same we you have to grow a stronger relationship.

More summers. More falling leaves. More dormant winters. More growth and renewal. Much like in your relationship.

Not all of marriage is a full-foliaged, playful tree in the summer that provides shade and a retreat from the elements, nor is it all a glorious display of magnificent colors in the autumn, showcasing the beauty of all it can be. Sometimes it is dormant, having days or weeks that feel lifeless, weathered by the harsh elements of hurts, misunderstandings, or resentments.

Yet, wood also symbolizes the renewal and growth that comes with spring when you allow your roots to keep growing, digging deeper, not allowing the elements to ruin them.

I am so blessed to have a strong marriage and to be celebrating five years with this man who is my best friend. He has been the one person who knows all my heartaches, worries, joy, and who truly knows my heart through every season. And thankfully, most of our marriage has been the spring, summer, and fall season.

I feel confident that since our marriage has made it through some seriously rough patches in five years, that it has laid a good foundation. We have weathered some storm, held on, and our roots together are stronger to continue building our life throughout each season. I’m not going anywhere.

I had this picnic table made for Ken Mills for our anniversary. So excited about all the memories that will be made around it!

The days are long but the years are short.

936 pennies. Each penny symbolizes one week of your life from birth until your 18th birthday. The weeks that I am your legal guardian, care taker, and responsible for raising you. The weeks that I have to help you realize your purpose and to help you grow confident in your abilities. The weeks I will spend teaching you manners, lessons, and skills that you will use to help you through life as you discover the path you will take and the passions you will pursue.

Each penny shows the value of one week. Pennies are small and get lost in couch cushions, under seats on the car floorboards, in old purses, and sometimes, even thrown out, and divided into 7 parts for each day of the week they seem even more minuscule.

Yet- they can also be invested to grow into something of more worth.

Some weeks it may feel like a quarter’s worth of time will pass, others I’m sure will feel like part of a day. Mundane weeks, weeks of frustration, exciting weeks, weeks of wonder.

No matter how much time it may feel like doesn’t change the actual time that I have before we set set you free.

These pennies will be transferred one by one, each week, and will teach me to watch more carefully how I spend my weeks with you. How many will be invested wisely? How many will be spent too frivolously? How many will I wish I could take back or exchange because of regrets I will have? How many will purchase more than I bargained for? One thing is for sure, they will all be spent, because we can’t save time or spend it more slowly, no matter how much we try.

I wanted to start these jars off before you were born, but I didn’t get around to until until your 32nd week. As I counted out the first 32 pennies to put in the “spent” jar and reflected on them through the day, I also looked back at the journal pages I have kept for you, the photos I have taken of you, and the milestones I have tracked. Many of the weeks have been invested wisely, and some I know I can’t even remember as they are blur of time mixed in exhaustion and frustrations. Some days the fraction of a penny I feel have been lost in the cracks, while others have purchased a a million dollars of memories.

May these jars remind me how time is fleeting, and how my time has been invested. Each penny spent will shape you and the rest of your life. My spending habits of these weeks will forever leave an impression on you.

God, help me spend them wisely.

Music in my heart

Before 2010 the hobby that I spent the most time on was music. I’d played instruments starting when I was 5 years old and always loved to sing. When I was 7 or 8 years old I started writing my own music on piano. I went to a music club with other music writers where I was the youngest one in the room. I grew and played in band, took lessons on several instruments, sang in different choirs, etc, jammed with friends, and couldn’t fall asleep without playing piano into my mid-twenties. I had always felt like music was my one talent or gift and that I had to use it, but never felt like i quite fit in anywhere musically.

In about 2010 my life started changing and during that change I explored other hobbies that I’d wanted to do for a long time but had always been discouraged from, mainly running. Without getting into details, running changed my life because it gave me a courage and a boldness that I had never had before because I’d felt shackled to one idea of who I had to be for so long. I had never been allowed to be ALL of who I felt I was supposed to be because of how I was raised. When my life didn’t feel right or go how others had planned for me, I felt like a failure until I started running and actually believing in myself. It was the first time in my life that I did something without the support from anyone who I loved, despite their discouragement, and for me because “I” wanted to do something instead of letting somebody else tell me what I had to do. It taught me so much. During that phase, and after, my family changed so much from what it had been just years before as I began to see the dysfunction and dealt with those ramifications.

All of this to say, I had missed music SO MUCH. Even though I had still been playing music on different instruments and singing over the last eight years, I felt like a part of me had been shut off. I could no longer write music, no matter how long I sat at the piano. There was a disconnect.

However, over the last year or so, I felt a yearning and a change in my spirit as areas of my life that had been broken began to heal. I had prayed that someday I would be able to write music again, or just enjoy sitting at the piano like I used to for hours. To have piano as an outlet again and write new songs instead of just playing covers or old songs. Until recently I hadn’t even had enough time in the day to even try to play, but starting with Nora sitting on my lap and letting her press the keys and play on it while I was playing old songs I used to play, I began to fall in love with my piano again.

Six days ago, I felt like I was supposed to just sit at it and start playing and to my surprise, a new song was born. Since then, in probably a total of 2 hours, I have pieces of 8 different songs that have just been pouring out of me onto the keys.

I’m writing this because it has been an answer to prayer, and another sign to me of healing in my life. I’ve been in the pit often over the last several years, places that were unfamiliar and new and scary and isolating. Before I got pregnant and during my pregnancy, several people who didn’t even know me or know that I was pregnant spoke things over me the few times that I went to church that confirmed what I had been hearing God tell me. God was using my child to bring me closer to Him and to bring healing in areas of my life, and he would not only heal me, but give me a new purpose and identity.

I am now confident in who He has created me to be now and those things are not limited to one area to define me. I’m not confident because of something I was able to do, but in the new peace I have in my life despite the chaos. I don’t know what the next months or years hold, what direction I will take, what challenges and blessings lie in front of me, or what hobbies or talents I will forget or find. I am confident, though, of His faithfulness through all seasons, and this season I am basking in His love shown to me largely through my daughter, the gift of being a treasured wife, being able to create and use my imagination, and for having music to write again. One thing that will never change is that I am a child of the King of Kings, despite all my flaws and shortcomings, and I pray that I am able to use this to bring honor to Him.

He can make all things new.

Squishy Twinkletoes Part Two

My real life Elf on the Shelf adventures continue…check out part one Here

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #16

I’ve baked up pastries using yeast

With my apron and chef’s hat on.

Now I’ll cook you a tasty feast

Like boeuf ragoûts or bourguignon

Day 17

They say that dogs are man’s best friend

But why?! I just can’t see.

They set me up and then pretend

The victim’s THEM, not ME!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #18

I’ve been hard at work for weeks

Trying to perfect this seat.

A gift for baby I’ll bestow

wrapped in nothing but a bow.

I’ve made it sturdy all from wood;

I can finally call it good.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #19

I usually don’t watch chick flicks

so please don’t ask me why

I’m watching one all by myself;

I must need a good cry .

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #20

I prefer to use a sewing machine

over a needle and thread.

It gives me time to get more done

and even to rest my head!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #21

Baby has some special things her mama can’t forget

Like a doll from childhood and a china tea set.

Since baby can’t yet play with them she’s sharing them with me,

But please just pour me eggnog instead of the hot tea.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 22

Christmas Day is coming and there’s plenty to get done;

I’ve been counting down the days on my fingers and my thumbs.

The wrapping paper, bows, and tape have all been scattered ’round,

Just a few more days now until Santa comes to town!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day #23

The boys were all in on the Flop;

One thought the Turn would help her

but they don’t play like the top dogs-

Their loss the River insured!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 24

Come now, babies, rest your heads

snuggled in the baby’s bed.

I’ve tucked you in all nice and tight

to read about that special night.

A baby born to show us love

sent from heaven up above.

The shepherds and the wise men knew

’cause angels told them as they flew

near a bright star in the sky.

For Christmas, He’s the reason why.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 25

Of all the Christmas music mama has

she most loves this piano book filled with jazz.

From “Deck the Halls” to “Silent Night”

I’m learning how to play them right.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 26

A few more days ’til I must go

Back to where there is lots of snow.

Gifts laying around

that make lots of sound

How to play- I don’t really know!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 27

I dabble in this and I dabble in that.

The pastels go “swoosh” and paints, they go “splat”.

I don’t know which medium I like best for art

so trying them all is a good place to start.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day28

Reindeer are a lot like elves in what they like to eat.

They’d rather pass on salads and go straight for the sweets.

But with a trip about to start that takes me back up north

The proteins found in dog food will surely have some worth.

A dose of healthy food disguised will help trim up this breed

and whip him in to shape to fly; my nimble, sprightly, steed.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 29

I love my elf clothes in red and green and wear them everyday,

but sometimes it’s fun to change it up;

it’s fun to try an array.

From makeup and dresses, to heels and hats, it’s fun to try a new look.

But I’ll soon be a good elf again and give back all that I took.

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 30

I need to do more exercise since I ate a lot of pies.

I can’t yet lift the heavy weight, so check back at a later date.

They say practice will make me strong-

That’s if I’m not doing it wrong!

Squishy Twinkletoes Day 31😭

The festive Christmas month much too quickly passed

My journey back to Santa went pretty fast

My time with you was swell

I must now bid farewell

The memories we made will forever last

<<<<
es may have teared up the day I put her in the exercise pose when I got her in and out of her elf outfit for the last time! Such sweet memories with her that I will always cherish.

My real-life Elf on the Shelf

I vowed to not over-commit myself this holiday season as usual and to not spend all of my time the usual way I spend December-making 30+ treats to take or send everywhere and to everyone- but to spend it with Nora instead.

That’s where this idea was born! A fun, festive way to make memories with my favorite girl while also creating a special project for her to look back on of her 1st Christmas. It gave me a way to still create things for Christmas, with it all revolving around Nora. She seems to be having fun with it!

Day #1

My name is Squishy Twinkletoes

I came from the north one of the Poles

I’m feeling jolly

And full of folly

I have fun wherever I go

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 Day #2

“Traveling is fun for me
I do it every year
I’ve been all around the world
But it’s my first Christmas here”

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Day #3

 Squishy Twinkletoes can’t play the guitar *yet* but that doesn’t stop her from banging around and strumming some Christmas tunes for us!
“The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loudly for all to hear!”

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Day #4

Cutting up paper
Getting glue all over me
Cards to bring good cheer

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Day #5

Elf on the Shelf #5 Squishy Twinkletoes was caught red-handed playing with Nora’s toys but she has no shame!

“All good elves work hard all day
But they still have time for play!”

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Day #6

Squishy Twinkletoes likes to keep her mind sharp by doing some puzzles in her down time.

Half of my beauty is my brain
I play to learn so I will gain!

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Day #7

I didn’t do it!! Don’t blame me!
I’m only admiring this Christmas tree! 

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Day #8

It’s fun to joke and it’s fun to draw
I hope this isn’t against the law!
For if it is I will pay the price
Because I don’t play very nice!

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Day #9

Wool, wood, brick, grain, and ore
Roll the dice to collect some more
I have resources to trade
Although, honestly, I’m afraid
That if you look away my cards may double
Although I try to stay out of trouble!

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Day #10

I like to sip on a nice glass of wine, which, just like me, is better with time.

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Day#11

Many festive things to do
before Christmas Eve
Every day it’s something new
until I have to leave

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Day #12

I like to do such naughty things
but disapproving looks they bring.
If only I could figure out
a way to carry lots of clout
for blaming all my stunts on pets,
my guilt the humans may forget! 

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Day #13

My favorite things to taste are sweet
In any shape or form;
The taste of sugar can’t be beat,
I always ask for more!

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Day #14

Why are you looking at me like that?

I’m only an Elf on the Shelf!

I couldn’t have possibly cut her hair;

She must have done it herself!

Day #15

Sprinkles, frosting, sugar, and more

all over the cookies, table, and floor!

Just can’t decide if this tasty treat

is more fun to decorate or to eat!

That’s what Squishy Twinkletoes has been up to so far! Stay tuned to see what other mischief she gets into!

 

Click HERE for Part Two

 

 

Nursing a sock monkey

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My friend, Sannetta, captured this photo at our harvest bonfire party while I was nursing Nora.

When I was a little girl I had a sock monkey that I played with more than my doll. I loved that sock monkey and carried it around, put it in the toy baby crib, rocked it, and even “nursed” it. It was a well-known fact in my family how much I loved my sock monkey and I even got called “monkey” a lot. One sister always tried to embarrass me by immediately telling any friend or a boyfriend for 20 years that “Maranda used to nurse her sock monkey” like something a kid does that is sweet and innocent between the ages of 3-5 is something to be embarrassed about. This year I have my real life sock monkey who I get to nurse! I had to fight for me. I had to fight for her. And I had to fight to be able to nurse. But every wonderful dream of being a mother that I had doesn’t compare to the joy I have or the thankfulness that is in my heart now. This will always be one of my favorite photos. 

 

Funny how life comes full circle.

Our costumes were “Nora’s Toy Box” this year. Ken and I met at a costume party, and I’ve LOVED dressing up and making costumes, so it was a fun year to do this for Nora’s 1st costume party. Everyone who knows me knows how much I’ve loved sock monkey my whole life, and they’ve always been a gift I receive. Raggedy Ann and Andy were a large part of my childhood, as well. My friend Sannetta had made a sock monkey costume for  her son when he was little, and she was sweet enough to let us borrow it so I didn’t have to make one! Ken was  good sport about dressing up as a doll, I convinced him by saying, “Nora only has her 1st costume party once!”

 

He sure does love that little girl!

 

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