Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hands Free

I crave the beach like most people crave caffeine. This past weekend I went on a trip to Cancun with my sister, only my sister. With that being said, I rarely travel without my mini side kick Grayson. Pretty much I'm saying I don't. I don't like to leave my child. Plain and simple, I want him with me all the time. Maybe I'm weird, maybe I'm unlike most people, maybe I have separation anxiety issues from my kid (I do.) He's just all around a pretty amazing little dude and I'm happier when he's around. 

However, this trip was one of the best decisions I've ever made for myself. I feel rejuvenated and I know I am more myself than I have been in a while. I found me again at the beach. I reevaluated my priorities and how I interact with others. I reflected on how my attitude has changed some over the past year or so because let's face it, I'm a tired mama.

What I noticed while watching others during my own rare free time was eye-opening. From the outside looking in, humans appear to be void robots staring straight down at some type of device all of the time. Society now tends to simply coexist with one another. Conversations are no longer full of life and energy. People are revolving their lives around capturing the perfect "selfie" to post online for others to glance at for approximately .02 seconds before hitting a "like" button. I watched people spend 30 minutes pretending to be happy with fake smiles for the camera only to follow that by appearing miserable and bored once it was put away. I find it tragic that the majority of photos I see posted probably come from some sort of fake scenario such as this. People are so focused on capturing or documenting every waking moment, that I think many are forgetting to truly live. Let's get real people!

(This still makes me giggle. So much of this. Too much! Don't sue me please selfie guy!)

I can say with 100% certainty that I have wholeheartedly made a conscious effort to cherish every moment I have had with Grayson since God placed him in my care. Due to my observations, I made the decision to go hands free when I arrived home. On the plane ride home, I began reading the book "Hands Free Mama" to further motivate myself. I asked God to reveal to me times that I haven't given my loved ones the undivided attention that they deserve and to convict my heart if I begin to make that mistake again. 

As soon as I walked in the door, Grayson wrapped his arms around my neck as tight as he ever has and held on for several minutes. I immediately ditched my phone onto the charger in my bedroom and took him outside to play. Instead of capturing 500 photos of him swinging to remember the special moment that would have actually been me watching him swing through a screen, I poured my soul into interacting with him. Instead of a photograph I have whole memories instead of parts of memories. I pushed him in his swing as he shared details of his entire weekend and struggled to find the perfect words somewhere in his rapidly growing 2 year old mind. He said "I'm happy" which was music to my ears. I told him "I'm happy too!" He then requested it be my turn and he pushed me in the swing as we chatted some more. He held my hand and led me all over the backyard looking for new things to discover together. "Come on Mama! Let's go!" We inspected several different types of bugs, watched airplanes fly by, chased birds and talked about the moon. We splashed in the water, dug in the dirt and got really messy. He then got in the bath, talked about his "booboos" and all of the bubbles, then requested to get out so I could "hold him like a baby." I happily obliged. After that, he was ready to "drink moo (milk) and go night night." In bed, he said "hold me mama!" Again, I happily obliged. I collected a goodnight kiss as he was drifting off to sleep. He is still holding onto my arm. 

I felt overwhelmingly compelled to write this blog tonight in case anybody else had the feeling that something just isn't quite right with the way we interact these days. I highly recommend the book "Hands Free Mama." I am beyond thankful that I had this revelation and can stop making excuses and begin to truly focus on who and what is important in my life sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Twos Are Not Terrible

Life moves so quickly these days. I have missed so many blog-worthy opportunities this past year. Just in the past couple of months I've completely missed opportunities to write about Grayson's birthday party, Thanksgiving, our cruise to the Bahamas, Christmas, the new year and so much more. We had a wonderful holiday season and have once again been reminded of how abundant our blessings are. Instead of backtracking, I'm going to go from here.

Grayson is doing wonderfully and growing like a week every day. He has been sick with RSV, but is such a tough little man. As a matter of fact, I've been sick with the same thing and I think I'm more of a wimp than he is.

It doesn't appear that life will be slowing down anytime soon. Grayson keeps me grounded and reminds me to cherish each moment and take life one day at a time. 

Two year olds are so much fun. Yes, fun.

Twos are not terrible. I see why some people call it "the terrible twos," but I like to look at it in a more positive light.

Yes, the attitude is REAL. I can't lie, it makes me very proud to see that attitude. I'm proud that I've nurtured a baby into a child with his own desires and ideas. I appreciate the fact that he knows what he wants and he's willing to fight for it. I'm not going to crush his spirit because it's a little inconvenient for me to deal with sometimes. Parenting isn't about convenience.

I thought I was strong-willed, but this kid doesn't back down. I like that.

I can't even begin to imagine what that fire in his tiny soul will ignite in him. He has the capability to accomplish ANYTHING that he puts his mind to. This child will achieve his goals and if he wants something, it will be his. He does not give up. Mark my words. He's going to do big things.

Here are some of our recent photos:

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Happy Second Birthday

My miracle baby is two years old. I can't help but head down memory lane as I'm laying next to him listening to him breathe. TWO. That means that approximately 2 years and 8 months ago, we beat infertility and Grayson began growing in my tummy. Technically, he began growing even 8 months before that because he got to chill with his twin in a freezer for a while. It still blows my mind. 

Here is a photo of Grayson and his sibling the day they were frozen in 2011. Technically they are 5 day old blastocysts. 

Here they are again 8 months later right before they were transferred to my womb. They are both hatching out of their Zona Pellucida.

This was my very first positive pregnancy test with Grayson. My beta hcg levels were only at a 6.5 that morning. This was only 4 days after my frozen embryo transfer. The second line takes a trained infertile eye to see. 4-15-12

This test was taken 6 days after my embryo transfer, so 2 days after the first photo. It was still pretty faint, but visible. 4-17-12

Digital tests were still telling me no at this point. I had already confirmed my pregnancy through blood work though so it didn't bother me. By that evening the second line was pretty dark and the digital test finally said yes! 4-17-12

All of this is still so fresh on my memory. It's been over TWO years. It's difficult to wrap my brain around that fact. It was such a swift change in my life. The infertility roller coaster is one that feels never ending. It strapped me in and it felt like I would be stuck on that ride forever. There were years of battle, tears, planning, hoping, praying and fighting for a child. Suddenly, it was all over. It was like someone slammed on the breaks of that coaster and shoved me off. There was a moment of disorient. Was this really true? Was it really my turn? Cautious optimism quickly turned into complete joy.

...and now my baby is TWO years old. He has taught me everything about life. He started before he was even conceived and he will continue on tomorrow and the next day. He is independent and determined. He is loving. He is content with his life. He is a happy, healthy, wild little man. He makes the mornings worth doing. He is encouragement and hope. He lights up my life. He is my tiny teacher. He holds my heart in his little hands. He is more than I ever thought to pray for. He is perfect for me.

Knowing what I know now and understanding God's plan, it doesn't make sense to question Him. I would have waited 5 more years for Grayson. God gave me the perfect child for me at the perfect time for me. If Grayson would have been born 3 years sooner, he would have a completely different life. He would have different friends, he would be older than some of his friends. Jason and I would have been at different points in our lives. We would have lived in a different house. He would have attended a different church. He might have a sibling by now. He would be the oldest cousin instead of the youngest. In the future, he would start school a different year, have different classmates, graduate sooner. He would date different people, marry someone completely different, have children at different times than he will. Have grandchildren at different times and so on. Not to mention, his parents would be different for not experiencing the years of anguish in waiting for him. I would've been a good mom still, but I would lack much of the appreciation I could only gain through my wait. All things considered, if Grayson had been born when I would have chosen, Grayson wouldn't be Grayson at all. God knew my Grayson was the Grayson for me.

When I think of it all that way, it makes perfect sense. God needed Grayson born the exact day, the exact hour he was born in order for the rest of his life to fall into place. 

When we look past our own desires and consider God's greater plan, we can develop a sense of peace. With peace comes patience. Patience requires faith and faith is what it's all about my friends. 

I pray that Grayson understands the concept that God has taught me through him. I pray for him to seek the path of the Lord all the days of his life. That is the only way he will find the peace and absolute joy that I have found. I pray that he has the strong, unshakable faith that I have been granted. I pray that he truly understands grace and love.

I will never in this lifetime be able to fully express what you mean to me. Maybe there are heavenly words for that. Happy second birthday my little angel. This photo is a perfect reminder of what I know to be true. Joy comes in the morning.

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Kids Won't Do THAT

I recall many times before I was expecting, during pregnancy and when Grayson was a bitty baby that I witnessed other children doing things and I thought to myself "I'll never let mine do that."

While there actually are many things that I have followed through with not doing or allowing, there are a lot of things I have loosened up on. Here are some things I am now eating my own words on...

Toddler eating in the car: check! This is almost impossible not to do.

Eating food anywhere except in the kitchen or at the table: over it! Mr. Dyson will handle that.

Have the "Why is that kid only wearing a diaper?" kid in Walmart: That passed quickly with a reflux baby who puked all over himself in the middle of the store

Buy "characters": Kind of hard not to when he asks and gives me a huge grin. Bring on the Finding Nemo cups.

Dirt. Just everything dirt. That's what the washing machine is for.

Opening food before we buy it at the grocery store. He can develop some patience.: No, he can't, not at the grocery store. We'll work on patience elsewhere. Nobody wants to deal with a hangry Grayson.

Playing before eating at Chick-Fil-A: I get to eat my meal in peace and he always comes out of the play area on his own time and devours his when he is ready. Bonus: It isn't "hot hot hot" anymore by that time.

Mismatched clothing: I know it's sunny out, but the dude wants to wear his rain boots today, okay? I dig his style.

Fast food... Need I say more? Sometimes we be in a hurry yo.

Sleeping in my bed: Add me to the accidental cosleepers club (wouldn't trade those snuggles)

Early bed time: Hey, the later he stays up the later he sleeps in.

Anybody else? I know I'm not the only one. Add a few of yours to the list!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Unsolicited Parenting Advice

Since Grayson was born, I have waited for the day that a stranger feels the need to butt into my parenting. I used to go overkill with blankets, socks, coats, etc in order to completely avoid the situation. I hated the thought of being harshly judged by the little old ladies in the grocery store. After all, I had gone through so much to become a mother that I imagined it would feel as though someone was trying to take away my credibility. Infertility caused sensitivity issues in places I didn't know existed. At some point after Grayson's first birthday, I gained the confidence to trust my own judgment and didn't really worry about anyone else anymore. Sigh of relief.

With that being said, after almost 2 years, it finally happened today. Someone stuck their nose in my business and peeked around a bit.

This morning we parked nearby the door at IHOP and I decided to grab Grayson and make a run for it since it was pouring down rain on me. As we were walking in, an elderly man said "Your little boy asked where his hat was mama?" I was caught completely off guard. At that point I felt of Grayson's face to make sure it wasn't cold and kindly told the man "It's in the car, but we're both so hot natured." His wife then says "oh girl, me too! I know how that is!" and the elderly man just smiled and looked at me content with my answer. 

How many of you were waiting for a good story about how I told somebody off and put them in their nosy place?

Sorry to disappoint. I know my heart is in a much better place than it used to be because I wasn't even the least bit annoyed. No, I didn't owe him an explanation, but a little grace goes a long way. People don't change by snarky comebacks. People change when they are shown kindness.

I can walk around all day expecting the worst out of others or I can take life on with a smile and a positive attitude. I can be assertive without being rude. I can remain respectful of the elderly as well as others and still get my point across. There are people who simply like to stir up trouble, but most people who I encounter truly mean well if I only take a moment to notice. 

Our elders grew up in a time where "it takes a village to raise a child." This man wasn't attempting to undermine my authority and I felt in no way threatened by his comments. This man was either genuinely concerned or was hoping to make small talk. Maybe he is an awkward person. Maybe he says all the wrong things at the wrong times. How will he learn any different if I react harshly? When I am confident in the decisions I have made for my child, nobody can shake me. When I carry Jesus in my heart everywhere I go, I can react more like He would.

I thank God for allowing that man to speak to me today. Thank You for testing my attitude and my heart. Please send me more opportunities like this so that I may grow, learn and become more like Jesus. Open my eyes and my heart Lord.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Slow to Speak

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19

Quick to listen: check!
Slow to become angry: check!
Slow to speak: ... In progress

Recently it has come to my attention that I need serious work in this area. 

A few weeks ago I was actually searching to find ammo against my husband on an issue. We disagreed about something and I was mad. I needed to prove him wrong. I wanted to be fully prepared to explain to him why his view wasn't Biblical and why I was right. 

Yes, I am stubborn. Yes, my daddy will tell anybody that I should have been a lawyer. I fight for what I believe in and want especially if I am passionate about something. If I want it bad enough, I work my butt and my brains off to make it happen one way or another, no matter what.

However, in this particular instance I was quickly humbled. In my searching to prove my point, God actually revealed something to me. Something that should already be intertwined into my being. 

Sometimes silence proves a point. At times, the best thing to do is stop speaking, be silent and trust the Lord to speak for you. Friends, I stopped searching for my ammo right then and there and I started praying. That's what I should have been doing all along. Almost instantly came the peace. 

...and I'll have you know that my husband did eventually come around on that disagreement. 

I'm turning a new leaf. The past few weeks I have been working hard on staying silent unless I have something productive to say. It's taking prayer and it will continue to take time, but I'm making progress day by day. As a result, my relationships are more peaceful. My life has been so much less stressful. I've had the freedom to mind only my own business which when I really start analyzing doesn't consist of much. No more attempting to control, manipulate or persuade. God's got this!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Spaghetti Brains

I once heard that women's brains are like spaghetti and men's brains are like waffles. Women tend to let every aspect of their thoughts run together while men compartmentalize and focus on one task at a time. Nothing brought this to light for me quite like becoming a mother has.

Recently my husband and I were loading up his bike and Grayson's bike trailer in the truck so they could go ride. There was an oil spill in our driveway that Jason had recently poured clean cat litter on in an attempt to soak the oil up. I had been keeping an eye on Grayson kicking around in the cat litter for about ten minutes when Jason noticed and told him stop. The conversation went something like this:

Jason: "Grayson get out of the cat litter you're going to get oil all over your shoes!"

Me: "He's been having a blast for ten minutes. Those are his play shoes anyway, but I checked to make sure the oil wasn't getting on them when he first started."

Jason: "How could you have done that? You were helping me load this trailer..."

Me: "Multitasking. I also pulled him out of the front seat of your truck. I took the bug spray out of his hands and put it up so he wouldn't play with it. I swatted a mosquito on his leg."

The list of physical things I had done in that ten minute period could have gone on for a while, but I stopped there. The list of mental thoughts I was having could have gone on for days. I was preparing in my mind what I would pack in his backpack to take to the trails. I was thinking about his snacks and the fact that he would need his water bottle that keeps liquids cold for hours because it was so hot. I noticed his cheeks were turning redder than they typically do in the heat and hoped that it was simply his 2 year molars causing the redness and not illness. I thought about the fact that it was a Saturday afternoon so we couldn't go to the doctor even if he did start running a fever. (Luckily it was only his molars.) I remembered that I needed to put the extra car seat back in his daddy's truck. He would need his blanket since after the ride he would be ready for his nap. I wondered how Jason was going to get his bike and trailer loaded back up on his own. (It was a tight squeeze and we all know women are better at fitting the entire sink into the dishwasher.) I was also planning what I was going to do during the hour that they would be riding. We all know the options are endless when you have an hour or two of free time. My wondering mind went on and on and on...

Here's my point: Women's brains don't stop. We are like the energizer bunny on his 6th cup of coffee. This post goes out to hopeful moms, expecting moms, stay at home moms, work at home moms, moms who work outside of the home and empty nesters. When it comes to our children, we are always trying to stay one step ahead. The world doesn't give us time to take a mental break. Once we make that decision to become a mother, our brains take on a whole knew perspective. Our days are no longer only about us, but about this extension of ourselves, our children. We are blessed to have a "spaghetti brain." How else could we keep up?

I see my husband watching TV, playing his xbox or loading up that trailer. I can't help but wonder what is going through his mind. I assume he is most likely fully focused on the task at hand.

So, men... this isn't a post to point out your weakness as I don't believe it is one. We know you do a lot and we appreciate that, truly. You have your own unique strengths. If your brains worked like ours we would live in an even more stressful world. We need people who compartmentalize. You are needed.

Mamas, this is a post to encourage you. Sometimes it is exhausting for our brains to have a seemingly faulty "off switch." We are made differently. To be a mother is a beautiful thing that we are honored to have the privilege. Having the ability to multitask enables us to be better moms for our children and better supporters of each other. God made us this way so that we may care for our children and our households the way that He intended.