Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Family, Home, and Me with Savannah

Que the cutest little blonde family on the planet! My friend, Savannah, is sharing her tips and tricks for our FHandM series today. Mitch and her husband, Evan, serve together at our church which I am so grateful for because now I know this sweet family. Her blog is all about raising her beautiful little girl and how she has coped with some really rough struggles in life, always holding firm to her faith. She is such an amazing, strong person and I'm so proud to have her as a friend. 

I’m pretty new to this whole parenting thing. For the first 7 months of my daughter's life, I don’t think we even really felt like a family. More like, two zombies and a very demanding roommate who likes to party all night. A demanding roommate whom we love very, very much. Then came sleep training, and like magic, we became a family. She went to bed at 7 p.m., awoke at 7 a.m., and for those 12 glorious hour in-between, I had my husband back, he had his wife back and we finally went to bed at the same time again. Our sweet girl was happier during the day, and so were we after getting a full nights sleep….or watching Arrested Development until 2 a.m. This is when we were finally able to establish some routines and discover and develop our family dynamic. And it is awesome! We are able to do so many amazing things together, and it’s wonderful to watch our baby girl discover new things and abilities.

The best thing we do together though is pray. Every night, as part of the bedtime routine, we pray. It’s a little crazy, and no one has their eyes closed for fear the baby will scratch your face off or shove something non edible in her mouth when no one’s looking, but sometimes it’s the only small moment of peace during our day. And it is splendid. Almost as important as the prayer itself is that we’re teaching our daughter the habit of praying, and what the spirit feels like. At 9 months old, she isn't going to remember any of this, but as we continue throughout her life, knowing how to pray and what the spirit feels like will guide her when we’re no longer able to do so.

You know how when you’re a little girl and you played “house” with all your best friends? You were the mom, and you had a baby, and you dreamed of how that baby would terrorize your house in a matter of seconds, there would piles of smelly poo and spit up laundry that literally towered as high as the bed, and dishes were never, and I mean never, completely done? Oh, you didn't? Yeah… neither. However, that seems to be the version of  “house” I play every day now.

I seriously thought about this category for over a week before I was able to come up with what I wanted to say about our home, and what makes it so enjoyable and helps things run smoother. I have a very active 9-month daughter who is smart, funny, independent, and mini Tasmanian devil.  Her favorite thing is to take whatever she can get her hands on and throw it on the floor. Then she rips it up and eats it. Tie that into the mounds of laundry filled with bibs and blow-out bottoms, never-to-be-found-again puffs hidden through out the house, and all the bottles, baby spoons and sippy cups that fill our sink, and you have our home. And we just have one child! You mothers of 2 or more, I bow to you.

So you can imagine my feeling of inadequacy when trying to think of things that help me keep our house in order, or clean, or smelling good. However, all these things do seem coalesce at times in our home, and this is how we do it.

1.     Fill your home with things you love. If something matters to you, you will keep it nice, I promise. We have pictures on top of our bookshelf that I hate to see surrounded by dust, so you know what? That area gets dusted. Nick-naks from various travels stay tidy and in their place (high up from curious hands) so they stay safe and organized. And although a floor is just a floor (especially when you rent) I keep it vacuumed, because I love my daughter, and if it’s on the floor she’ll eat it, and I want her to live.

2.     If you don’t love it, get rid of it. It is so easy to accumulate junk! And the more space you have, the more junk you collect. There are so many places that are more than willing to take it off your hands, and give it to someone who may really need it. Or, if you like, sell it! Being charitable is awesome, but selling a higher quality or rarely used item is just fine too. There are a few rules to this though.

a.     Don’t give away something that has expired, been outworn, or is falling apart. Seriously, just put it in the trashcan and walk away. Or better yet, find a dumpster, then you won’t be tempted to try and retrieve it later. I’m not the only one who would do that right?
b.     If it is still usable, look into charities that really need these items. For example winter coats, baby clothes, diapers, and formula are really needed by women’s shelters or disaster relief funds.You get rid of junk and you get to feel good about yourself, who doesn't love that!?

Once upon a time I was single, and the only person I worried about was myself. No supper? Cold cereal it is. Want to watch t.v.? Turn on the bachelor! Need groceries? Just hop in the car and go. Okay, so some of those things haven’t changed, but now as a wife, mom, student, dinner preparer (Note: I did not say chef here), etc, things have gotten a lot more complicated. I get so wrapped up in everything else that I frequently forget I was somebody before all of this! It wasn't until I was at an Imagine Dragons concert a couple weeks ago that I realized how wrapped up I had really become. That’s right, like a teenager, I’m about to tell you how a concert changed my life.

There I sat, next to my husband, with our baby at the sitters, surrounded by screaming teenagers, and I thought, “These kids are annoying. I must be getting too old for this.”

It wasn't even the Imagine Dragons. A lead singer of one of the opening bands said something to the effect of, “Always follow your dreams.” Cheesy, I know, but for some reason it actually got me thinking; Have I followed my dreams?  Did I even have dreams? Who am I, where did I come from, and where am I going?  -Just kidding, not that last one. I felt like I was just a mom, and not in a good way, like, that’s all that I was. A human making, milk producing machine.

So now, I do something I love Something that is purely for me. Sometimes it’s small, and I jam out to whatever music I want to in the car, sometimes I avoid the dishes and laundry all day and play with my baby, then take a nap, and sometimes what I want, is just to pee alone, so I do.

Here’s the kicker though, you have to do it guilt free. Don’t make yourself feel guilty about taking a time out for yourself. So you didn't get the dishes done. Guess what? They’re not going anywhere.

When I am happy and feel like an individual, our family is happy and more united. I am not just a mom to somebody; I am somebody that is a mom. And you know what? When I started thinking about what it was I dreamed about when I was younger and single and free, I realized I dreamed about being a wife a mom. So yes, lead singer of the opening band, I believe I am following my dreams, thank you.

photos courtesy of Camera Shy

As a fun side note, my husband and I went on our first date almost 5 years ago to a local pool hall and heard the Imagine Dragons play with like 10 other people.  We love them.
Thank you so much, Savannah! Isn't that the cutest little face you've ever seen? Check out Savannah's blog for more on her sweet family. 

If you are interested in contributing to the FHandM series, email me at
gracefullykensie [at] gmail [dot] com.

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