No one told me the harsh truth of becoming a new mom.
No one warned me how many tears would be shed those first few months, turn years.
No one gave me the heads up that at times, I would feel like the most selfish, incapable parent on the planet.
No one thought to mention that the one thing that I'd hoped for all my life would actually make me feel like a crazy person.
No one wants to bash the hopes and dreams of a mom to be.
No one wants to talk about how motherhood can bring out certain sin struggles that we never knew existed.
No one really wants to be the bearer of bad news.
So, I learned the hard way...
I am not a morning person. With or without kids, I am generally not the one to greet the day with excitement. I'm the "5 more minutes," kinda girl.
I'd love to say that I am able to wake up before my children, drink an entire cup of hot coffee, spend some time praying and reading the Bible, maybe even take a shower and get dressed, then welcome my children with a warm hug and fresh baked oatmeal on the table....this is NOT currently my life.
Having 4 kids in 5 years, there is no telling how many times we will be awoken in the middle of the night or what time our day would officially start, but one thing is almost certain...our mornings are CRAZY.
Babies need bottles and diaper changes, toddler needs breakfast NOW, the Kindergartener has to get off to school...and all the things! And that's BEFORE 7:30am. If we aren't careful, our "goodbye's" can turn into huffing and puffing as my husband and Kindergartener rush out the door.
My husband and I have decided to implement 7 strategies to have a "more" calm morning...knowing we can't control most variables of how our days start, we can at least control these 7 ways to walk into our day without feeling like "chicken's with our heads cut off."
(This post contains affiliate links)
Community has always been something I craved. Something I desired. Living life alongside others just seemed right, comfortable, rewarding. Even in my childhood, the value of neighbors held a strong place in my heart.
Over the past twelve years, I have only lived in 2 houses. Eleven of those years were spent on one quiet cul-de-sac with 19 homes. I started out home ownership as a single girl with roommates, traded in roommates (and a cat) for my husband, and eventually welcomed home 4 baby boys.
Our sweet little street started out with just a handful of kids, those kids got bigger, and new babies were welcomed, and our once quiet street quickly became a bustle of activity. Come 4pm, after naps and snacks and the blazing heat had subsided, you could find all us mommy's awaiting our husbands arrival as our kiddos rode their bikes and scooters up and down the street. It was quite picturesque.
We were fortunate enough to call these neighbors friends, and were frequently welcomed into each others homes for play dates, dinners, holiday get togethers, front yard vacation bible schools, and even a bible study for the mommy's. It was a safe, comfortable, predicable little neighborhood that we had grown to love.
And then, we decided to move for my husband to pursue a new career.
We decided to say goodbye to the "cookie cutter" neighborhood. We decided to buy a fixer upper on 2 acres. We decided to buy it without me ever seeing it in person. We decided to completely start over.
One thing I have learned from leaving the "comfortable" and stepping into the unknown, is that God has bigger plans for you than you have for yourself.
We bought our house SOLELY for the property. We could envision our boys growing up with endless adventure, and that's what we desired. We were excited for the "elbow room" this property would give us, but since this wasn't a "neighborhood" we were moving into, we weren't sure what to expect from the people surrounding us. But, God knew, and He had set it all up...just for us (it seemed).
He knew we would be lonely. He knew we wouldn't have any family. He knew we craved community. He knew that the people already established on this street would be a gift to us, and allow our little family to feel at home, much sooner than we were expecting to.
We've now been on either end of the spectrum...we've welcomed new neighbors and we've been the new neighbors, and connecting with the people around us, actually living alongside them, not just physically, but emotionally, and if you're lucky, spiritually, your home will be much more full because of it.
Here are some ideas for connecting with your neighbors that we have implemented, and has brought fullness to my heart over the years.
(This post contains affiliate links. )
There it was again. The third time this week that the words, "You don't love me!" had come bursting out of his mouth.
It caught me off guard the first time he said it, and I remember casually responding with "Of course we love you. Don't say that."
But it happened again. And again. Always in the middle of a tantrum, always when he wasn't getting his way.
My husband and I thought we had a light bulb moment one day while discussing this new phrase coming out of our son's mouth. MAYBE we had created this false sense that "love" was supposed to have the end result of "feeling good", "being happy." We weren't shining light on the fact that love rebukes, love disciplines, love bears all things....you know, the stuff that doesn't always look OR feel good.
Aha! That MUST be it. That must be why he always says "You don't love me," when he's being asked to leave the table for poor manners, or when he's corrected for snatching a toy out of his brother's hand, or when he looses a special privilege because of his disobedience, (or even when he throws a fit because he has to wear shoes he doesn't like to school). He thinks love is supposed to work in his favor.
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son. That whoever believes in Him would not perish but have eternal life."
The very verse he had memorized the week before was going to be this momma's go to verse to solve this problem. I was going to open that Bible, explain how Jesus died on the cross because of His love for us...that it didn't feel good...it was painful and he was all alone, that it didn't make him happy...it brought darkness and separation from his Father. But it was all because He loved us and wanted a way for us to spend forever with Him in Heaven.
Several years ago, Ryan and I invited a newly married couple into our home for dinner. Only having met a handful of times, we were hoping a casual meal would facilitate conversation and new friendship. My children, on the other hand, decided that this was a perfect night to show off all their very best tantrums and meltdown techniques. There were lots of laughs (ours being of the embarrassed kind), and at the end of the night, we honestly thought we had just scarred this sweet couple from ever wanting kids.
I'm pleased that that wasn't the case, and they now have a precious (almost) 1 year old daughter....and they still wanted to be our friends!
When we found out we were pregnant with our sweet little boys, I immediately contacted Chanler to see if she'd be interested in a special project...hand lettering a quote on canvas for their nursery. I gave her my vision, and she brought it to life in the most beautiful way possible.
Several years ago, I was asked to share my testimony at a women's gathering at church. The topic was "Loving Your Husband," and as I read back through my words recently, I realized that they are still true to our marriage today. And if I dare to guess, I think they will always be true.
Loving our spouse is intentional, it is work, and it is WORTH IT!!
Our first snow. Its beauty almost took our breath away. As I snuck away early in the morning, before the perfect blanket of powder was compromised by tire marks, snow boots, sledding runs, and the sun's rays that would surely melt away the big pillows resting on the tree branches, I was struck by how incredibly quiet it was. The snow not only brought beauty but complete silence and stillness. It caused everything to pause.
This Florida girl was so giddy as the snow began to fall the day before. We couldn't get our phones out fast enough to document what we had NEVER experienced and share with friends and family. With inflatable pools and boogie boards, these Floridians braved the 8 inches of fun and soaked up as many hours as we could out in the snow. And then, days later, it was gone. And we missed it.
Rewind to about 6 years ago. I was a few weeks shy of my due date with my first born son. The anticipation was mounting, my to-do list was getting smaller (probably the last time that happened), and my husband and I were nothing but excited (okay, well, maybe I was a little anxious about my "plans" to birth naturally).
If you would have asked me then, what kind of mom I was going to be, I guarantee I would have said I was going to be the mom who never yelled, who never spanked out of anger or frustration, who would always put my child's needs ahead of my own, and would love every moment of every day at home with my kids (its okay to roll your eyes).
And then, I became a mom.
Family Fun Nights have become a staple in our family's weekly routine. Our kids look forward to it as the busy week comes to a close. Not only are we spending intentional quality time together while our our children are young, but ultimately, we are hoping to instill a love for coming together around the table as they grow up.
I am a firm believer in starting kids off young with structured games and activities. They are capable of so much more than we give them credit for. Our first son, at 2 years old, could legitimately beat us at a game of Toy Story Memory (or Toy Story Matching as he called it), however, it wasn't until our second son was 3 years old that he became interested in structured games (despite being the very reason we started Family Fun Night's to begin with). Every child's interest level for these types of activities will be different, and I'm not suggesting to force something on them that they aren't ready for or enjoy, but I would encourage you to periodically revisit certain activities that your child may not show interest in initially.
I can't take credit for bringing all these awesome games into our home, as many of these were gifts from our thoughtful family members, but we have made them our own and they have all become our absolute favorites. We don't always play by the rules. We don't always finish each round. But we are smiling, laughing, high fiving, and bonding with each game we play.
**This list is compiled with children ages 5 and under in mind. It also contains affiliate links.
Welcome to Dwelling Well Mom! I'm so glad you are here! I'm Christi, wife, mom of boys, Christ follower, picture taker, DIYer, chocolate eater, and coffee drinker. Born and raised a Florida girl, now braving the mountains of Boone, NC, I'm on a journey to find peace in the midst of my mundane. Join me!