Do you address God like a whiny or adoring child?

Before my son uttered his first word, I longed for the day when he could say my name, my title, mama or mommy.  “Just you wait,” my friends with talking kids warned, “You will wish your son couldn’t talk, because once he starts, he never stops.”  Well that day arrived, and so did the incessant stream of “mama” or “mommy” over and over throughout the day, all day, every day long.  It’s not just when he needs/wants something, it’s as if he enjoys simply babbling my title all the time.  It’s relentless.  It tests my patience.  Sometimes I cheerfully acknowledge it, “what baby?” Sometimes I flat out ignore it.  But then the volume and speed increases, and I know I need to address it.  “Stop!” I plead to no avail.  The synonyms are as annoying as they sound:

ceaselessunceasingconstantcontinualunabatinginterminableendlessunendingnever-endingeverlastingeternalperpetualcontinuousnonstop, around/round-the-clock, uninterruptedunbrokenunremittingpersistentrelentless

Does that describe your toddler?  It’s ironic how much I longed to hear my son say my name, and now how I nearly dread it.  But there are the endearing instances where my son lovingly and joyfully cries “mama!” and comes running to me and flies into my arms. Those mama cries are the sweetest.

It got me thinking, how my son constantly cries out my name is how God hears His children crying out to Him?  We can call Him Abba, Father (Romans 8:15) because of His precious son, but how do we sound when we’re constantly appealing to Him, crying “Daddy, do this for me!” “Daddy, I need this!” “Daddy, I want this!”  “Daddy, watch me!” Are our cries music to His ears, or a dull clamor of complaint?  Of course He hears us, He inclines His ear to, and He forebears with us due to His steadfast love, but I wonder how often we address Him out of sheer love and devotion versus out of a demanding plea or cry for help.  As a perfect parent, our Heavenly Father will not respond impatiently, and I try to model a patient response to my son as well.  But not always, not like my Abba Father can.  Of course I want to meet my son’s needs, but not always comply with his wants.  Does he need a third snack in a row, or does he want it? Is it good for him to have that third snack? In the same way, our Father always gives us what we need, but not always what we want right this second.

  • Are you crying out to your Heavenly Father like a whiny child or an adoring one?
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Terrified of two

Before kids, I’d look incredulously at the moms of multiple kids, see the chaos that ensued, and think to myself “why in the world would you ever have more than one kid?” Seriously.  One seemed like more than enough.  Even when people would remind me of sibling love, I still couldn’t understand it as a childless woman.  But once I had my first child, I saw the value of a sibling for my son.  I’d see how longingly my son would stare at other kids playing together.  I saw the value of him learning to share.  I saw the companionship and sibling bond.  Suddenly it made sense to have double strollers (whereas the thought initially terrified me when we first went stroller shopping and my husband mentioned a double).  But as terrifying as becoming a mother was to me, and as transforming, becoming a mother of two is even more.  How can I possibly share ME with another little demanding human being?  How can I possibly LOVE as much as I love my firstborn?  The trailblazers say you can and you will.  They say your heart enlarges to love another just as much.  They say the juggling of two becomes your new normal.  And I suppose it will.  But as I faint-heartedly watch the moms of multiples wearing one baby while chasing the older one underfoot, as I see them juggling the double strollers and minivans with all the kid gear, I see how two can multiply the difficulties and challenges exponentially.  Right now I like being able to pop one child in and out of his carseat effortlessly and still be able to hold his hand or him when we walk short distances.  I like the ease of a single stroller, the ease of watching out for just one with an eagle’s eye when we’re out in public.  I like the messes of one (and boy are there a ton of messes!) the constant feedings of one, the laundry of one, and the one-on-one attention I can give to one.  I love the lingering morning snuggles and the countless story times.  Can life get any better, any sweeter than this?  I cling to these last few months of just him and me, knowing that life as we know it will once again drastically change, and yet not knowing how to prepare emotionally for that change without cherishing every moment spent and mourning the loss of our normal.  But just like having my first child was life-changing, so I know having a second will be equally life changing.  And, just like I adapted to one, so I know I will adjust to two.  All along, even when my son was very young, I felt like someone was missing from our family.  I’ll get to meet him/her very soon.  But for now, I hold tight to my only boy.  I savor every snuggle, every giggle, every hug.  For now, it’s just me and him, with a growing belly coming between us during lap time.  For now, this is the existence he’s only ever known.  While life as we know it is about to change, it must and will. It really comes down to trusting in the Giver of Life. He entrusted me to conceive (twice) so He must think I can handle two children.  I had such fears over becoming a mom the first time, and my fears stemmed from the unknown, from the enormous responsibility, and from the overwhelming reality of how life-changing motherhood is.  But those who trust in the all-knowing, all-powerful Lord of all the earth place their fears and failures in His large, capable hands. If He gives all the inhabitants of the earth life and breath, and fashions their hearts (Psalm 33:15), He will enable me to become a mother of two children.  

  • How has your family dynamic changed from one child to two (or more?)
  • To Whom do you take your fears to?  How do you entrust your fears to Him?  DSC02271.jpg

Pregnancy Running

This is my second pregnancy running, and it is by far the hardest.  I ran up until 34 weeks with my first, and did a 10K at 30 weeks no problem, but now at 18 weeks I’m finding it difficult to crank out 3 miles at a snail’s pace.  What changed for me I believe is my body.  I started showing much sooner the second time around, and slowed my pace to accommodate for it, which led to lesser miles.  Still, just moving according to my doctor is beneficial.  Here are some pregnancy tips for keeping fit.

  • Move, no matter how slow!  Simply getting out there for 30 min-1 hour to exercise the body also exercises the brain.  Not only does it increase the health of the baby, it provides the psychological release that’s good for mama.  No matter the pace, even a slow jog is better than no jog at all.  I’m not competing right now, I’m caring for my baby.  I need to remember that as a competitive runner.
  • Add a jogging stroller run to your routine.  Although I much prefer running without it, when I do have the jogging stroller it increases my hand eye coordination and makes it a different challenge by adding weight that I have to push (while also entertaining my rider).  Mixing it up a bit keeps me on my toes so to speak.
  • Give yourself grace.  Grace to slow down, grace to go easy, grace to not compete in races, grace to have such a prominent fitness routine not be the focus anymore.  It’s not about you and your running ability when pregnant, it’s all about the health and safety of your baby.
  • Let your kid see your fitness routine.  Let them see you in your gym clothes.  Let them watch you head out the door and greet a sweaty, post-workout you when you return.  Model for them health and fitness, and they’ll be more likely to imitate you.
  • Mix it up a bit.  Although I am an avid runner, when pregnant I add prenatal yoga and swimming to my regime.  Yoga stretches and relaxes me.  Swimming, especially in the third trimester, makes my huge belly feel weightless.  And when all else fails, walking also counts.

Running in high humidity

The upside to running in coastal Virginia are the mild warm winters.  The downside: hot, humid summers.  What’s a girl to do when it’s 80 degrees, 80% humidity at 5 AM?  Lace up those shoes and hit the pavement, that’s what.  No Excuses.  Here’s some tips for running and beating the heat this summer.

  • Go early.  I’ve already blogged about the advantages of early morning runs, but before the heat index can rise, the best defense is heading out the door early (or later in the day if that works best for you). Even at 5 AM the temperatures are high 70s-low 80s, but the sun hasn’t risen and it remains shady.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  I can’t say it enough.  Never one for drinking (or eating) before a run, I’ve learned that downing 8 ounces of water before a hot run helps my energy levels tremendously during the run.  Afterwards I easily gulp down another 8-16 ounces, the most refreshing water you can imagine.
  • Refuel.  Refueling your body is just as important as depleting it, so don’t skip breakfast.  Refuel with lots of protein like eggs or greek yogurt.
  • Reduce mileage and speed.  Regardless of what you’re training for, I cut back on my miles during a heat wave, and slow my pace to help me endure.  Any run is better than no run at all, even if the run is slower and shorter.
  • Build in accountability.  Set your alarm allowing for 15 minutes of snooze if you choose, and 15 minutes of prep time.  Lay out your clothes the night before.  Charge your Garmin and phone so they’re fully charged and ready to go. I run at 5 AM because my husband has to leave for work at 6 AM, so there’s that built in accountability…if I don’t go then, I won’t go later.  Find a running partner who will hold you to your commitment.
  • Reward yourself.  Not after every hot run, but if I’ve battled a particularly sweltering morning, I won’t feel guilty for cat napping or binge watching netflix or treating myself to an iced coffee later in the day. Knowing I persevered and completed a tough workout by 6 AM keeps me motivated and centered throughout the rest of my 24 hours.

Invest in experiences that don’t break the bank

Studies show that kids prefer time spent over toys given.  But why don’t we believe this? It may be because toys and technology occupy so much of kids’ attention these days.  And yes, while they serve their purposes, imaginative play is so much more beneficial.  My son sleeps so much more soundly after playing hard outside vs. inside.  Early on, my husband and I decided to invest in the experiences.  Still, even those experiences can be costly, and I’m not just talking about vacations. Here are some local activities we do on a weekly/monthly basis where we’ve cut corners and costs in Norfolk Virginia.

  • The Botanical Gardens is our only yearly membership.  Equipped with a children’s splash pad, sand pit, play houses and more, the $95 yearly membership pays for itself in a few visits.  It’s cheaper than the YMCA monthly membership for their water parks and other water parks around.
  • Speaking of swimming, check your local community pool.  We signed up for 8 Parent/Child swim lessons for $25, significantly cheaper than the Y.
  • The Children’s Museum is both educational and interactive.  Normal cost is $11/adult/visit, but they had $5 specials on Wednesdays, so I did that twice this summer. Children under two are free.  It seems children under two everywhere are free, so take advantage of that!
  • Our Zoo visits have been because of the generosity of friends who have memberships that can get us in free.  Because we don’t go that often, this is the best course of action.
  • Aquariums nationally all seem to be pretty pricey with a hefty $25/adult/visit and $20/child/visit fee, however look again for special deals.  In January I got an $11 rate just by doing a little research.  Always do your research!  And since the aquarium is a special visit, this once a year fee fits just right.
  • The Library offers a really wonderful children’s programming that is absolutely free.  I’ve been taking my son there since he was only months old. Programming includes singing, stories, crafts, and free play.  There’s also an indoor inflatable rec area and pretend kitchen.
  • My child is too young for camps yet, but even some camps are offered free of charge, ranging from sports camps to Vacation Bible Schools.
  • Your local parks and recreation always offer playgrounds, picnics, biking, hiking, beaching, etc. Get them outside!  Get them moving!  Get them exhausted.
  • Most malls offer an indoor children’s play area for rainy days or timeouts from shopping. Movie theaters offer cheap matinees and $1 deals.
  • Not to mention, there are so many free festivals and events with free children’s activities like bounce houses, face painting, crafts, games, etc.  Paying for fun is no fun at all, so unless it’s worth the admission price, look elsewhere!

Parental pressure to “force fun”

Every parent wants their child(ren) to be great at something, whether academics, athletics, the arts, etc. We want them to not just be good at something, but to EXCEL at it, to have a natural talent for it.  We don’t always care what that thing is, but sometimes our own natural talents are what we project on our child. If we were good at basketball we can assume our child will be too, until he shows zero interest in shooting hoops.  Our children can share so many of our characteristics, but they are their own person. I’m only 2 years into parenting, but I’ve already been learning this lesson of not forcing my son to try things too soon, things I think automatically he should enjoy doing. For me, the big activity that I’ve longed to do with my son since he was born was arts and crafts. Before he could hold a crayon I wanted him to color.  Before he could sit up I wanted him to craft with me.  I viewed it as not only an educational activity but also as a good bonding time with him, as I’m somewhat artsy myself.  But trying to force his interest in arts and crafts was useless.  His attention span was zero.  Once I accepted this and eased up trying to get him to color, the interest came all on his own one day.  Now he enjoys coloring for more than 5 seconds and can scribble artwork for family.  Same thing with play doh and stickers and all kinds of fun that’s to come down the road.  He’s come into his own all on his own craft-wise, with little pressure from his mom, which is a parent’s job…to present opportunities for growth and learning and then step back and wait for them to take initiative and interact, with positive influence and reinforcement, but not pressure. There is such a thing as parent pressure, just like peer pressure, where we desperately try to force fun and our kids just want their independence and free will.  Hopefully I can remember this lesson for the rest of his life 🙂

  • When have you put “parent pressure” on your kid to “force fun?”  When have you let them be and watched their independence rise up?

A 13 year old in-flight babysitter sent from heaven above.

Anyone who has flown with a lap child (child under 2 years old) can attest to how incredibly difficult it is to truly keep said child on your lap during a flight, especially a flight across country with a layover.  I was fully prepared and armed with enough snacks, toy cars, coloring, stickers, and cartoons, which all lasted an hour tops till I ran out of tricks and entertainment.  Flying in general makes most grown adults agitated, and an almost two year old with boundless energy was no exception.  We hadn’t purchased a seat for our son, but lucked out on an early morning flight each way.  That did make a huge difference, but even with an extra seat our son wanted to wiggle and stand in the aisles, and it was a constant struggle to whisk him out of the aisle when the beverage carts rolled by and the line for the bathroom was nonstop. I took him to the claustrophobic bathroom just for something to do, and walked him up and down the aisle, but we felt trapped and confined, weary and restless. There were many sympathetic smiles from fellow passengers, and remarks as to how well he was doing, but on the last leg of our journey we were on our last leg of exhaustion over sheer boredom and confinement.  Into this came the sweetest God-send of a 13 year old girl named Abbey, traveling with her younger brother alone to visit her grandmother in Virginia.  My son immediately took a liking to her, and she in return.  It started when Southwest’s open seating sat us right across from each other.  This flight had no extra seat so I was going to have to wrestle with him on my lap.  Abbey drew and colored a pink llama and gave it to my son, and he was sold.  She offered to color with him, which led to him on her lap, which led to her feeding him snacks, helping him with stickers, showing him pictures of animals on her phone, bouncing him, and becoming the best in-flight babysitter we’ve ever had for the next 2 hours.  My son didn’t want me again, and I got a much needed reprieve.  I was so beyond grateful and chatted with this 13 year old girl who loved kids and wanted to be a teacher when she grew up.  If she lived in Virginia I would have snatched her up as a babysitter, but she was exactly what we needed for this final flight home.  I marveled at how God supplied her at an altitude we needed most, and how gracious He showed Himself through that little girl. The next time you fly or travel publicly, please be gracious and compassionate to those littlest travelers.  A smile, a joke, a compliment, and even an in-flight babysitter goes a long way especially high in the sky.

  • How can you show compassion, kindness, graciousness to families with young children when traveling?  In my experience it was total strangers offering me snacks, taking my son on their laps to look out the window of the plane, playing peekaboo with him between the seats, and a flight attendant offering to take my dirty diaper out of my hands in flight.
  • When have you (including me!) become irritated or dreaded seeing babies/toddlers when traveling, and when did that turn into a happy experience?