Conquer the Chaos

A common theme among tired mamas is the dreaded feeling of overwhelm. Laundry. Dishes. Cooking. Cleaning. Over and over and over again. We sometimes walk a fine line between the daily rhythms of grace and the cacophonous craziness that knocks us off balance. Perhaps it’s my almost twenty years of military experience, perhaps it’s the example of my own mother who steadfastly managed our home…perhaps it’s both…but I’ve come up with a proactive approach to keep my household flowing in rhythms of grace. Some of these tips come from my own experience and practices, others come from mothers I’ve met over the years, and still some others come from FlyLady’s recommendations.

Laundry Tips: One load a day keeps the crazy away.

  • Every stitch of clothing and dirty towel goes into the washing machine, all day long. At night, when everyone is in fresh, clean pajamas, run the washing machine on cold water. Go to bed. After decades of not separating my laundry by colors or fabrics, I’ve never had an issue. (At most, wash the whites/reds separately.) When you wake up in the morning, put the laundry in the dryer to tumble on low heat. Forty minutes later, I take everything out and have the kids help fold their laundry. Since I’m only washing a day’s worth of clothes, the folding and putting away never takes long. All of the laundry is done before 8:00am, every single day.

Dishes Tips: Skip the sink and go right to the rack.

  • If I can keep my sink empty, the rest of the kitchen seems to follow suit. When my sink runneth over, so do the countertops and tabletops. Crazy how that happens! Put every plate, cup, fork, and dish directly into the dishwasher–all day long. After you turn on the washing machine in the evening, run the dishwasher, even if the racks aren’t 100% full. If it happens to fill up halfway through the day, run it right away. When it beeps to tell you it’s finished, let the steam out and close a dishtowel inside the dishwasher. (You can fold it over the dishwasher door, half on the outside, half actually inside the dishwasher. It will dry your dishes faster.) Check them after 30-45 minutes and unload them. Waking up to a clean sink, free of dirty dishes, helps start my day off right! After you put the laundry in the dryer, unload the dishwasher. All of the dishes will be clean and put away before 8:15am, every single day.

Cooking Tips: Mindful menus make the meals.

  • Choose seven to ten tried and true favorite meals–healthy, nutritious, and loved by the whole family–and make a menu. You can do this every week, two weeks, month, or seasonally, depending on how much variety you want. Filling all of the nutritional gaps, I plan dinners that will make everyone in the family happy. Smoothies are a great way to ensure my kids get all of the fruits and veggies they need, and those can be served at breakfast, lunch, as a snack, or as part of dinner. In our house, we have charcuterie Mondays, taco Tuesdays, grilled chicken and veggie Wednesdays, chicken and rice stir-fry Thursdays, homemade pizza Fridays, breakfast for dinner Saturdays, and leftover or grilled cheese Sundays. Utilize an Instant Pot in the afternoons to put your meal prep on autopilot.

Cleaning Tips: Swish and swipe to save your sanity.

  • Each morning, after finishing the laundry and dishes, run a toilet brush around each toilet bowl. Definitely clean all of them weekly, but you can keep toilets looking clean by swirling a brush around the bowl after the first morning flush of the day. I keep toilet brushes next to each toilet in my house, so it takes minimal effort on my part. In the afternoons after you’ve fired up the Instant Pot, have your kids (even the toddlers) help you with a Home Blessing. Turn on fun, upbeat music and set a timer for fifteen minutes. Tidy up the main areas of your house before dinner–clean off countertops, wipe down the table, put away toys. You don’t need to worry about laundry or dishes, because those were done hours ago! This method doesn’t deep clean your house, but it keeps your home presentable for unexpected guests, and it’s ready for a deep cleaning whenever you actually get the time.

Spiritual Practices: Focus on what you CAN do, and lean into Jesus.

  • There was a while I couldn’t manage to have the idyllic devotional times that I’d enjoyed before having children. Rather than lamenting what I couldn’t do, I embraced what I could do…and left my inadequacies at the feet of Jesus. My kids and I listened to Seeds Family Worship music as we did chores or played games. I kept Andrew Peterson’s music on in the background for hours and hours at a time. His songs of scripture wafted through the walls of our home and encouraged me to keep going in the midst of my exhaustion. Rather than carving out a specific, stringent prayer time, I inhaled and exhaled Jesus with every breath; I listened for his gentle leading in the quiet moments, and I shared my heart with him all throughout the day. Those daily, mundane tasks of loading and unloading, cooking and cleaning, are invitations to prayer.

Don’t add to the overwhelm by trying to do everything all at once. Choose one thing to focus on, and work at it until it becomes a habit. Then, do the next thing. The old adage is true: Slow and steady wins the race. Within six weeks, you can calm the storm of weariness and find Sabbath margin in your home. Rest in Jesus, sweet friend.

Shaping your Child’s Story

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Each child has been created and formed with the fingerprints of God. As parents, our job is to look at our children through the lens of grace, paying special attention to the unique Imago Dei stamped onto their hearts. Stories shape us from the very beginning; we were all born with the Redemption Story imprinted into our souls. The stories we read in our homes spark unseen flames within the minds of our children. Reading hero stories leads them into creative worlds where their imaginations sprout wings and soar above the heights.

One of my homeschooling goals is to launch my boys into unseen realms of imagination and creativity — be it crafting Lego worlds, making endless art projects with copious amounts of glitter glue, or writing their own stories. I welcome boredom and use it as a catalyst in our home to bring my sons to adventure into the wilderness of learning.

Early on, I realized Asher, my oldest son, simply bubbles over with stories. He spends endless time in the backyard wondering and musing and imagining. So, I bought him a journal. He takes that journal into nature and writes whatever is on his heart. My youngest son, Keane, comes alive with artistic creativity; Monet’s art held his five-year-old attention in ways that blew my mind. So, I bought him an arsenal of art supplies. He’ll grab his art boxes, spread them out on the floor, and create for hours at a time.

When Asher began crafting elaborate imaginative stories, I told him to write them in his journal. The “problem” was that his imagination and vocabulary exceeded his young writing ability. The solution? I set him up with a microphone and an iPad in a quiet room, and had him dictate his story as a video. Clipping that microphone to his little shirt made him feel so important! He recorded six chapters with eagerness and excitement, and then proudly brought me the iPad. I took his recording, typed it up, printed it out, and helped him create his first book. If that’s all we did, that would have been enough! He proudly showed off his book to all of the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

But, I decided to go further. I reached out to one of my cousins who is a professional artist; I commissioned artwork for the characters in Asher’s story. Then, I took that artwork and used the magical powers of Amazon to publish my eight year old’s story as a Kindle version and a paperback version. I wanted to launch his efforts and story-filled imagination into the world so he could tangibly see that the stories God has placed on his heart are important. He has a message worth sharing — we all do!

What have you seen in your own children that is begging to be launched into the world? Their passions should guide education far beyond workbooks or curriculum. God has created them to share his story of redemption in ways that only they can, with their God-given talents and abilities! May our eyes be opened to the Imago Dei artfully crafted into each one of our precious children.

 

A Qualified Homeschool Teacher?

I am a certified educator who taught high school English in Texas and in England for a total of six years. My teaching experience includes gifted and talented education, pre-Advanced Placement, Advanced Placement, accelerated courses, and university-prep courses. After leaving public school classrooms, I went on to teach in a private pre-kindergarten program for a short stint. The last few years found me involved in adult education where I co-led Shakespeare classes for military veterans. I’m also in my eighteenth year of service in the Air Force National Guard, where I’ve received top-notch leadership training. Since 2011, I’ve authored, co-authored, and contributed writing to four published books. I’ve been interviewed by local media, a prominent podcaster, and—quite miraculously—found myself as an official staff member at a nationally-recognized theatre. Oh, and I’ve homeschooled my two sons since the very beginning.

All of that sounds really good on paper, doesn’t it? But I want to let you in on a little secret: None of that qualifies me to be a homeschooling educator.

What does qualify someone to be a homeschool teacher? A love for one’s own children. If you love your babies—even those giant, overgrown babies—from the depths of your being, you are qualified to teach your children! I can confidently assure you that my university degree, state certification, and leadership training do not make me a good homeschooling mom. In fact, my experience in formal classrooms was more of a hindrance than a help. A love for my children and a passion to learn alongside them is the only qualification I need.

Sweet Mama, if you are feeling less than confident, anxious, fearful, or inadequate, please hear me: No one is more qualified to come alongside your children and walk this educational journey than you are.

You were created in the image and likeness of God!

His works are wonderful, and you know that full well!

You have the mind of Christ!

Go back and read those statements again. Put them in first-person and say them out loud. Repeat until you believe it! You stand on HIS truth, goodness, and beauty. God is in the business of redemption; if you feel your own education was inadequate, He will redeem your education as you teach your child!

Walking in faith is hard. Saying yes to the unknown is hard. What you’re doing—whether it’s for a season or for the duration—might seem impossible. But I’m here to tell you it’s not! When you give God your yes and invite His holy interruption, He will show up. He will equip you to do the hard things. He will give you the strength for each day, the wisdom to lead, and the passion to persevere. There is plenty of oil for your lamp, and He’s waiting to give it to you!

Courage, dear heart! Where you’ve been called, you will be equipped. Remember He is for you and He will never leave you nor forsake you. Please know I’m cheering you on every step of the way. You’ve got this! May you rest in the arms of the One who painted the stars in the canvas of heaven.

Mothering with Grace

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The myriad of threads woven into the fabric of your day make up your family’s tapestry of faith. What we see mid-process looks like loose threads and knots, but God is taking those gloriously quotidian efforts and crafting a masterpiece. Remain faithful in your weaving, dear mama. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6). Here are some of the daily rhythms that have enriched our family’s faith journey…

Biblical Affirmations

When you begin the day by speaking biblical words of affirmation over your children, it not only reminds them of who they are in Christ, it reminds YOU of who they are in Christ! Our affirmation statements are based in scripture; this idea came from a Wild + Free podcast I heard many years ago. Every morning at 9:00am, we sit together, hold hands, and I look them in the eyes as I say:

  1. You are a mighty man of God.
  2. You are a leader of leaders and a follower of Jesus Christ.
  3. You are a blessing wherever you go; you are never a burden.
  4. You walk in favor with God and man.
  5. You are bold and you speak the truth.
  6. You are creative, artistic, athletic, and intelligent.
  7. You will marry only whom God has intended for you.
  8. You will lend to many nations and you will never borrow.
  9. The Fruit of the Spirit lives inside you.
  10. You are a Ludwig young man, and you are destined for righteousness!

After affirmations, I chose a couple of scriptures to pray over them. When we routinely begin our days in this manner, we all tend to treat one another with more kindness, love, grace, understanding, and respect. When we become swept up in life’s craziness and move away from this anchor, attitudes deteriorate and there’s more fussing all around.

Take Authority

When those inevitable sibling squabbles arise, I’m quick to take authority and lead my boys in the act of repentance. “Son, the Bible tells us our words have the power to give life or death. Did you speak life or death over your brother just now?” Starting there keeps me focused on the actual issue at hand: We are all sinful people living together in one house; the enemy would love nothing more than to bring division, and then keep that division going with an upset, angry response from one or both parents.

Recognize the enemy’s plans, and thwart them through the power of the Holy Spirit. After they speak words of apology and forgiveness, I hold their hands together in mine and pray: “God, thank you for giving these brothers to each other for life. Your word says it is good and pleasant for brothers to dwell together in unity, and I pray you break the spirit of frustration between them, and bind them with your unity.”

Does it magically make them both happy? Do glittery butterflies and rays of light shoot out from our hands clasped in prayer? No and no. But it absolutely takes the sting out of the situation. Inviting Jesus right into the middle of a disagreement always makes a difference. This is discipleship-based discipline over punitive punishment.

In our family vocabulary, we call this “planting a Kingdom flag.” I wrote a parable story for my boys to explain spiritual warfare in a way they could understand. We all know that the battles we fight are not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 6:12). Simply yelling at my kids for their behavior and sending them to their room doesn’t get at the root of the issue. In so doing, I’ve aimed my worldly arrows at flesh and blood. I need to exchange my “weapons” for God’s and redirect my aim!

I believe this story was divinely inspired after three days of fasting and prayer, in which I experienced palpable spiritual warfare. As a writer, I normally follow a creative process when I set out to write something. Not this time! This story was nothing like anything I’d ever written. The best I can explain it was God instantly downloaded it into my brain, and I could barely keep up with getting it on paper. With it came a direct instruction: “Tell your children.” I did, and they gained an immediate understanding of what happens in the spiritual realm when we pray and take back ground from the enemy. They understood that the enemy was defeated long ago, and we–as Christians–have authority to enforce God’s victory. I share this story with you in case you’d like to use it in your own home. Genuinely, I can’t take writer’s credit since God gave it to me.

Click to read the story: THE KINGDOM KEEPERS

The story itself may seem unfinished, but I believe that was done on purpose. There was simply no more “divine inspiration” past that point, and I didn’t feel at liberty to add more or attempt to finish it on my own efforts. However, I strongly felt God tell me to take my boys on a prayer walk to finish the story. After reading the last line, I charged my boys with this statement: “Let’s go plant flags for the King, my princes!”

We then set out on a prayer walk where semi-violent protests had taken place the night before. (No protests were taking place at the time we went out, all was physically safe.) I held their hands as we walked to the police station–now covered with graffiti and strewn with trash–and we prayed for God’s unity and healing to be released in our state and nation. We prayed for God’s angel armies to be released in battling the spiritual forces of violence and division. We planted Kingdom flags together! They tangibly understood their part in spiritual warfare. I’d say that was infinitely more powerful than any story ending I could’ve crafted!

Teach your children about spiritual warfare as soon as they come to Christ. Don’t give them a watered down cartoon version of “Sunday School Jesus.” My friend Jillian often reminds me that there is no Junior Holy Spirit, and she is absolutely right! Have your children pray big prayers with you, and rejoice over every single answered prayer. Invite them into your walk with Christ, and tell them what the Holy Spirit is teaching you.

When we take nature walks or spend time in our garden, we collectively marvel over God’s creation and openly thank him for the lovely flowers. For the bees, squirrels, and doves that so often visit our windowsill. Everything is an opportunity for praise and worship.

Personal Faith Stories

Both of my sons made the decision to follow Christ at an early age, and I wanted to mark these special occasions with something they could physically hold on to. We worked together to write faith stories (testimonies) by using their actual quotes and photos shortly after each of their baptisms. This allows them to take ownership of their personal decision to follow Jesus. They are so proud of their books and read them often. Here’ a video preview of their faith stories…

The Baptism Book

Missionary Stories

I want my children to understand that following Jesus means living a life of sacrifice. American cultural Christianity often tilts toward a hyper-grace-prosperity-gospel. Yes, God provides for us and abundantly gives us His grace–and for that I am eternally grateful–but I don’t want my sons to fall into the broken mindset that God only shows his love by padding our bank accounts or that grace exempts us from obedience to the Father. Missionary biographies are frequently part of our family read-alouds, and we openly talk about the difficulties our real-life missionary friends face around the world. We turn those struggles into prayer petitions!

Someone recently told my boys that China was a bad communist country who hates America, which planted a lie in their hearts that China, and all its people, are bad. I stepped in and told them that Jesus died for the people of China. I told them that he wrote eternity on their hearts. I told them of the underground churches and persecution, and how it’s our job to pray for them. We then prayed for God’s angel armies to be released to fight against the spiritual forces of darkness and oppression. After praying for China, my oldest son’s eyes grew wide as he said, “We just planted a Kingdom flag!”

The next morning, I pulled Hudson Taylor’s biography off the shelf so that my boys will have an encounter with someone who dedicated his life to bringing God’s truth to China. Someone who loved them with every ounce of his being and saw them through the eyes of Jesus. Speak God’s truth over negative mindsets and don’t allow any seed of hatred to germinate in your home.

Discipline vs. Punishment

This next bit may seem controversial, so I offer this up simply as something I do in my own home, based on searching the scriptures and prayerful revelations. Here it is: I don’t yell and I don’t spank. Have I ever yelled or spanked in the history of my parenting journey? Yes. But now, I rely on my Savior not to do those things. In the past when I have spanked and yelled, I repented to my children and to God, asking their forgiveness.

From my personal experience, spanking is a lazy shortcut, and yelling only goes to show that I am severely lacking in the Fruits of the Spirit. How did I come to this less-than-conventional Christian parenting decision? Scripture. I researched the actual Hebrew words used in the “pro-spanking” verses and learned that the Hebrew word used specifically refers to an almost-grown male, NOT young children. The actual Hebrew words that translate to “young child” are not used in the book of Proverbs. The word that is used in the “pro-spanking” verses is naar, which Jewish rabbinical tradition considers to be males between the ages of 16 and 24. So, the practice of spanking young children is found nowhere in the original translation.

I grew up in a very pro-spanking household, and what did I truly learn from it? How to conceal things from my parents, and how to be a very good liar to avoid another spanking. I lied to my parents, to myself, and to God. Avoid getting caught to avoid the punishment! It took lots of prayer, searching the scriptures, and wise mentors of the faith to bring me to this question: “Am I willing to trust God to help me discipline my children rather than trust a ‘proven’ and obviously more practical method?” (Clay Clarkson posed this question in Heartfelt Discipline.)

If you’re remotely interested in exploring this aspect of biblical parenting, I highly recommend these books:

Clay Clarkson’s Heartfelt Discipline 

Clay and Sally Clarkson’s The Lifegiving Parent

Tim Kimmel’s Grace Based Parenting

L.R. Knost’s Jesus, the Gentle Parent

Their collective wisdom, through the power of the Holy Spirit, was instrumental in bringing me to a place of repentance and understanding. I choose to parent by faith and discipleship instead of fear and punishment. This road is not easy. It’s a daily, hourly, minute-by-minute choice–one that cannot be made apart from Christ’s strength. Shockingly, it actually works!

Parents are the first impression children have of God. For the life of me, I couldn’t find any examples of Jesus smacking his disciples when they went against his instruction. If I’m going to call myself a Christian, I’m supposed to be like Christ. Ten years ago, I was absolutely 100% pro-spanking. That change only came about through the power of God.

Understanding my children’s intricate personalities has also been instrumental in my parenting journey. We shouldn’t ever punish personality, but many do. We all encounter people who grate on our nerves without actually doing anything wrong…you may experience this in your own home. Paul and Barbara Tieger’s Nurture by Nature helped me pinpoint my boys’ and my husband’s personality types, which opened my eyes to how God made them. This knowledge has solved many problems before they’ve ever started.

Motherhood is an adventurous journey with many uphill battles. I fail often, but I cling to His grace. Sweet mama-friend, stand firm in the faith as you stand in the gap for your family! May the God of Peace bless you with wisdom and discernment as you shepherd your precious flock.

 

I’m "Just" a Stay-at-Home Mom

This past week my husband and I had the pleasure of having dinner at our pastor’s house. Every couple of months, they invite a group of new church members over for food and fellowship — it was fun getting to know others and relax for a couple of child-free hours. At one point, one of the pastors asked what we did for a living, and I responded with, “I’m just a stay-at-home mom!” Without missing a beat, he said, “There’s no ‘just’ about it, that’s a fulltime job!” He was absolutely right.

My life as a stay-at-home mom far surpasses my former life as a high school English teacher. I truly loved my students, but the love I feel for my own children is enough to take my breath away. These last three years as a homemaker are vastly different than the six years I spent in the classroom, but they are infinitely more rewarding. The fact that God allows me to be exactly where I am, doing exactly what I’m doing, overwhelms me with gratitude and humbles my heart.

Meeting my husband’s and children’s needs is a never-ending task, but one worth pursuing. I’ve come to see my responsibility to my family through the lens of Christ’s sacrificial love. My attitude is paramount to living out sacrificial love to my family — if my heart is not centered on God, then my patience runs thin and my children suffer. Finding balance in keeping the home, loving my husband, educating Asher, taking care of Keane, preparing meals, and pursuing my own creativity can take a toll…if my focus is in the wrong place.

Aside from anchoring myself in scripture, I have found these books to be essential to my motherhood:
     1. Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel
     2. The Mission of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson
     3. Treasuring Christ When Your Hands are Full: Gospel Meditations for Busy Moms
         by Gloria Furman

My bookshelves are also stocked with titles on strong-willed children, childhood brain development, and methods for classical education…but I’ve found that it’s much easier to deal with my strong-willed child when my will is bent to his Maker. When I respond with grace and sacrificial love, his tantrums tend to be curbed from melt-downs into teachable moments that involve scripture. Is every discipline encounter full of snuggle-hugs and bible verses? Absolutely not. There are still plenty of off-the-charts melt-downs, but when I’ve taken the time and effort to center myself in God’s word, I am more inclined to respond as Christ responds to me.

There are days when I’m beyond exhausted from sleepless nights, and on those days it’s God’s grace that carries me through. There are days when I scoop my three-year-old up in my arms and ask his forgiveness for my impatience and my poor attitude; hearing his sweet voice say, “I forgive you, Mommy,” humbles me anew. I don’t have it all together. I am not perfect. My failures are enough to fill a vast ocean, yet his mercies are new each morning. His grace is sufficient for me, his power is made perfect in my unending weakness.

How I Tricked my Toddler into Listening

Life with a toddler brings laughter, silliness, adorable memories…and frustration. Listening is difficult even on the good days — their independent spirits are blooming, and stubbornness is in full force. If sharing my latest Hail Mary parenting pass helps at least one frazzled toddler-parent, then the struggle has been worth it!

In my extensive, highly scientific research in the field of toddlers, I have come to the following conclusion: They be cray-cray. Adorable, but certifiably crazy.

If adults acted like toddlers…

Any adult who actually did those things on a regular basis would be under psychiatric evaluation in no time. (Full disclosure: I may have witnessed my adult brother do a few of these things.) Toddlerhood is a beautiful blend of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. They’re happy and energetic one minute, then sad (and still energetic) the next. They must hear voices, because Mommy and Daddy sure didn’t say anything about eating suckers for breakfast. Or waking up at 6:30am. Every morning.

After one particularly rough morning (during my week without Facebook), I reached the end of my rope. Asher doesn’t respond to counting, or conversations, or threats, or spankings, or time-outs. I knew he needed some sort of visual aid to help him out when he went rogue. In my desperation, I turned to a paper plate. In less than five minutes, Mr. Listening Ears was born. He has my ears.

I explained to Asher that when he made good choices, listened, and obeyed, that Mr. Listening Ears would be happy. But when he made bad choices and didn’t listen to Mommy and Daddy, Mr. Listening Ears would be sad. When I introduced our new friend, I had Asher touch Mr. Listening Ear’s orange paper ears, and we talked about using our listening ears. Then he touched his own ears to solidify the concept.

He hangs out up high on the refrigerator — away from toddler hands and constantly visible. When Asher starts to exhibit a wee bit of craziness, I remind him that Mr. Listening Ears is currently happy, and we wouldn’t want to make him sad by making bad choices. Sometimes it thwarts a tantrum, sometimes it doesn’t.

On the occasion that the smile turns to a frown, Asher goes nuts. He definitely does not like seeing the sad face. He’ll fuss and cry, saying, “Mommy, make Mistew Wistening Eaws happy!” To which I reply, “Only Asher can make him happy with good choices.” Sometimes he continues on to full-on-meltdown-mode, and other times he course-corrects to earn back the happy face. We’ve had more successes than failures with this new method, which is promising.

So, my toddler won’t necessarily listen to me, but he will listen to a paper plate. I’m calling it a win.

Wake-up Smiles and Night-night Kisses

Two years ago today, Mark and I had the most gorgeous wedding in the history of weddings (of course I’m biased). One year ago today, I was five months pregnant – full of excitement and anticipation (and a squishy baby). Today, right now, that sweet little man is asleep in my arms…and I’m overwhelmed with God’s gracious blessings.

Mark’s hard work and brilliant financial planning have allowed me to stay home with Asher. While I absolutely loved teaching and miss the camaraderie of my students, I wouldn’t change a thing. This is the life I’ve always wanted. As a girl, I wanted to be a mommy – just like my mom and Granny.

Aside from my own home, I never felt more loved than when I was at my granny’s house. She had a way of making me feel like the most special little girl in the world, and I long to keep that tradition of love and nurturing alive for my son. As much as I aspire to be like my mother and grandmother, I definitely fall short in the areas of cooking and housekeeping.

The way I see it, I have the rest of my life to keep a clean house. Granted, we don’t live in filth, but there are dishes in the sink, toys in the floor, sticky substances on the counter, and a load of towels in the dryer as I type. This morning Asher and I took a two hour nap together. Well, he slept while I snuggled him. Even though there were plenty of things to keep me busy, I wanted him to fall asleep and wake up next to me (and nurse to his heart’s content throughout his nap). But most of all, I wanted to catch his wake-up smile. This is one of my greatest joys.

When he wakes up in the morning and from his daily naps, he opens his eyes, blinks for a bit, and as soon as he sees me, his whole face lights up! This happens three times a day (assuming he wakes up next to me and not in his crib…crib wakes-ups involve crying until I rescue him), and my goal is to catch all of those special, sleepy smiles.

Every time I see his smile, I don’t feel so guilty about laundry or dishes. I know one day he’ll be “too cool” to hug and kiss me in front of his friends. One day, he will sleep all night in his bed and wake up on his own. One day, he’ll rush out of the house to be with his friends…one day, a girlfriend. Right now, I’m the most important woman in his life, and I don’t want to miss anything. Fifteen years down the road, I’ll relish every memory of every wake-up smile; I’ll get teary-eyed at the thought of nursing him to sleep, and I’ll miss my sweet baby. So for now, I’ll tend to the laundry later.