Too High or Too Low…Beware of Setting Irrational Holiday Expectations (and 6 Tips to Maintain a Realistic Mindset)

Are you prone to unrealistic expectations? Take steps now to keep things in perspective.

this grateful mama

too high or too low

We’ve all done it. We develop expectations of our children, friends, family and of events only to be disappointed.

It could be an event we’re attending, or one we’re hosting.

It starts innocently. We pencil in a date on a calendar to go on a date, celebrate with family, attend an event, or just spend time with friends or family. We get excited.

Don’t get me wrong, being excited is a GOOD thing. In fact, if I’m spending time with someone, I WANT to look forward to it.

BUT. Sometimes, this excitement transforms into something unpleasant…and sometimes, into something downright ugly.

In our excitement, we start thinking of all the fun things that can happen,  and how lovely we will feel. Of course, we assume everyone there will be just as excited as us.

That would be a good place to STOP.

But often, we start to get carried away. We begin…

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Infant Silent Reflux is NOT Silent – God is faithful, still.

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent: 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

Watching our third baby suffer in pain from silent reflux is not any easier than with the first or second child.

A tiny baby writhing in pain, arching their back and screaming, red-faced until they have no more breath, is gut-wrenching for even the seasoned reflux parent.

Silent reflux is still awful.

While this time around we were more proactive in asking for and accepting help, daily, we were in the trenches, trying to soothe our hurting child. And, as I shared before, this time around, we also struggled to help our older children cope.

It was not easy for our children to watch their baby sister suffer either.

Many days, I sat back and observed how our entire family was affected by our baby’s pain. I often wonder why? Now when I say why, I don’t mean the science behind it – I actually understand that quite well by now.

No, I mean WHY?

Why would God allow a baby to suffer this way?

Why our children?

Why is this so hard?

Why isn’t He answering my prayers NOW?

My emotional response is to ask why, neglecting to go any deeper. Asking why only allows me to dwell in a dark place of mourning and frustration. It is not wrong to come to this place on occasion, but staying there long does only damage. There is no hope there, and as your little one suffers, trust me, you need all the hope you can get.

Like many injustices and suffering, we may never know why on this side of heaven, so dwelling there is not a fruitful endeavor.

Instead of asking why, I should be asking where God is as we walk through it.

I don’t know why He allowed this again, but I do know where God IS.

Right here.

With me. With my husband. With our baby. With our older kids.

He has not looked away even for even one second, even thought there were times we took our eyes off of Him.

God is not surprised that our baby has reflux.

He made her. Carefully. Without mistake.

God is allowing reflux to happen for a reason, even though I want it to be over without all the suffering.

I also need to ask WHAT is God doing?  

What is He teaching our family?

What is He working out in me?

What is He equipping me to do?

For now, it is evident He is teaching each member of our family to be more dependent on Him. He is teaching my husband and I to trust Him with each child He has given us, and to parent with His strength.

And to trust His perfect timing.

I am grateful that we have already seen Him work in this situation twice before – and He has an excellent track record. God never changes. I am confident He will work here too. I have already seen how He has used these experiences already to encourage other reflux families, just like I have seen Him work for good in our family’s life because of our son’s food allergies.

I expect Him to show up big here too.

God walks through all suffering with us – comforting, supporting, equipping, and carrying us through the worst of circumstances. He gently, lovingly guides us freely offering peace, kindness, love and forgiveness along the way.

From day one.

I admit, I do not agree with our baby suffering, but God’s character is good, regardless of our circumstance.

I trust Him and believe He will use this suffering for good. The countless hours spent fervently praying over our babies for relief have not been spent in vain, although I do wish He would answer those prayers now.

He answers all prayers in His timing. And I do trust His perfect timing and care. And that His ways are higher than my ways.

He knows the entire plan for my life, my family’s life, and this sweet baby. He is working for good, in something that feels only bad. The Bible is clear that God works for the good in ALL things of those who love Him – And I believe Him. And so I cling to this truth.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

He has shown Himself faithful to me and to each of our children.

So, while we walk through this, we keep our eyes fixed on Him. We expectantly wait for Him to make His presence known.

And every day, He does.

Because He is faithful, still.

 

*I CANNOT wait to share how God has worked in this situation already – our daughter has improved SO much since I started writing this in July. In the craziness of those days, I never published this – so here it is (With a few more posts to come explaining new lessons learned about infant reflux the third time around, and just how God’s timing was perfect in this situation).

It is Well With My Soul.

picmonkey-sample

I woke up this morning surprised at the election results. I really had no idea who would win, and to be honest, I would have felt surprised no matter who won.

Regardless of how you voted yesterday or of how weary you feel after this political season – the wounds revealed and created during this election must be addressed. This election was heartbreakingly divisive. My heart hurts – although today the presidency has been won, the path to get here makes it feel like no one really won.

There is no easy fix – the pain in our nation simply cannot be erased just because the votes have been counted.

I think moving on is going to be difficult for many on both sides of the vote.  Throughout the election, my eyes were opened as the band-aids were ripped off old wounds and as new wounds formed and festered in the issues that divide us all.

I may not be able to fix all that is wrong in our nation, but beginning to move on starts with me. 

Today, I step back and focus on TRUTH.

We have much to be grateful for. Today, the TV will stay off and social media can take a hike. My house is full of the best medicine I know – piano hymns, a baby babbling, and a little girl playing dress up. I thank God I live in a democratic country, and have the privilege to vote that many fought and died for. My focus is on the people I love, and the God I serve. Why not take time to be grateful every day? It is November 9. Today is a great day to begin th HABIT of practicing gratitude with your family as you prepare for Thanksgiving. Start a family gratitude journal or set up a gratitude tree.

There are no perfect voters or candidates. See me. See you. See Donald. See Hillary. Need I say more? Each is imperfect, and we pull from an imperfect pool of candidates for leadership. We make decisions based on carefully calculated glimpses of who candidates are. Then our voting decisions are clouded by our own imperfection and sin. The only true judge is Jesus Christ who knows all things, and who examines the heart and mind. And to this measure, we all fall short.

The only future we know for certain is in Jesus Christ. Just as we cannot ever truly know the hearts of those we seek to elect, we cannot foresee the future repercussions of our choices. We choose the candidate who best suits us and our own vision for our future.  Only God, the Beginning and the End, can see all of eternity. Thankfully, the Bible tells us that eternity has already been won, even if it doesn’t detail everything that will happen between now than then. We don’t know exactly how, but we know the victor is Jesus Christ and He mercifully invites each of us to join Him.

No leader can stop the plan of the perfect God. He is sovereign over ALL creation, knows all things, and has already won eternity. No matter our circumstance, He has overcome the world. If you are disheartened today, step back and look UP.

O LORD, the God of our fathers, are You not God in the heavens? And are You not ruler over all the kingdoms of the nations? Power and might are in Your hand so that no one can stand against You. 2 Chronicles 20:6.

One nation, under God. Many in our nation have tried to eliminate God from society. But the truth is, we are a Nation Under God whether we like it or not. He is still sovereign, even when we ignore, disrespect, or don’t believe it. Jesus is King, no matter who our president is. And He can and will use any leader to bring about His purposes on earth. Trying to stifle God’s presence has not done much to improve our nation has it? Instead we are more divided than ever. Instead of pushing God out, we need to cry out to Him and ask Him to heal our nation as only He can.

Our nation needs healing and love. Let it start with you as you love your friends, family and neighbors. Now is not the time for ‘I told you so’ or to tell others they got it wrong. What is done is done. Reserve judgement, offer encouragement, hope and practical help. Start listening more than talking. Freely extend forgiveness, love and respect. Since there are no perfect people, this means we need to give respect even if you don’t think a person has earned it – even those in leadership. Choose to treat all people as God’s beloved. Stop comparing – we are all in need of a savior. Here is a good place to start:

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

There is peace that transcends all understanding. The Bible has a lot to say about peace offered by Jesus Christ. Months ago in the mess of the election, I chose to fix my eyes on Jesus. It wasn’t easy keeping them locked there with everything going on around me – only by His strength. Last night, I went to bed early with the firm trust that no election result can pluck me from God’s good, sovereign hand. I slept well. Have you ever felt such peace? It is more valuable and more powerful than any assurance a world leader can offer.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Prayer keeps us grounded in Him. We can not be in line with the will of God if we are not spending time in His presence in study and prayer. He will give you direction and where to go from here. Focusing on WHO God is and WHAT He has already done in a time that seems hopeless gives joy and peace that transcends comprehension. Spend time now in His presence and ask for His view of our situation and practical ways to extend love and grace to others.

In this day of seeming uncertainty, I pray we can claim peace, cling to the certainty of God’s promises and let the healing of our nation begin with us.

This is the day the LORD has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

It is well with my soul. How is yours?

On Our Son’s Sixth Birthday – What I Love About You!

Today our son Aiden turns SIX.

Somehow, six years have passed since we first saw his sweet face. Time is a strange thing – it seems like he has always been, yet it seems like I blinked because he was just born! And now I can hardly pick him up.

How. Did. That. Happen?

While I may not understand how time can fly and go slowly at the same time, I DO know this – we are SO proud of him.

We love him more than we can ever express.

And we are so grateful to be his parents.

I’ve spent the past few days savoring his birthday celebrations with friends and family. It has been so fun to watch him be the center of attention, and to see him laughing and enjoy being blessed by those who love him.

Today I want to celebrate his special day by expressing how grateful we are for who he is, and the way God made him.

Aiden, this post is just for you.

Love, Mom.

 

Six things I love about YOU & the way God made you

  • Cautiously Brave and Wise
    • I love to watch you make wise decisions. You have amazing, God-given discernment for a six year old! This is something you were created with. Since you were small, you have removed yourself when uncomfortable or afraid. You willingly step back from activities or situations you know you should not participate in, and you do it while still being kind to your friends or whoever you are around. You turn off TV shows that are not nice or are frightening without a second thought. ‘Be careful little eyes what you see’ is something you’ve always inherently known and acted on. While being naturally cautious, you bravely take calculated risks. You have regularly, bravely faced and accepted medical treatments that scare you because you understand you need them. And we have watched you excitedly try new things and boldly go new places while joyfully meeting and making new friends.
  • Puzzle-Loving, Problem-Solver
    • Not many six year olds I know get excited about doing a 1500 piece puzzle with their parents, especially when they know it will take a week or more to complete. It is fun to see how you approach problems and puzzles alike with determination and follow-through. You are great at following instructions and sticking with something until it is finished. You were building Lego sets unassisted so early, we were amazed at your ability to focus for long periods and to complete complex projects. It would not surprise me if you become an engineer some day. Certainly God has blessed you with attention to detail and a joy of taking on and completing challenges.
  • Lover of God’s Word
    • It was fun to help you fill in your ‘About Me’ book to bring back to school and share with your class today. My heart swelled with joy when you chose the Bible as your favorite book. And you know what? I believe it really is your favorite book. It amazes me how much you know about the Bible. We have read every night since you were a baby and you have absorbed so much from church and BSF. It is our privilege to read the Bible with you at night and to see how you apply what you learn from it to your life. You ask thoughtful questions that show you ponder what it says and take these things to heart. Some of the content in there has been concerning to your cautious mind, and yet you keep coming back to God’s word to learn more about who God is, and what the Bible has to say. I love how God is drawing you closer to Himself as we read.
  • Kind and Empathetic
    • At your school conference, your kindergarten teacher told us you are a good friend to others, and are always looking out for others. We nodded our heads proudly because we see this in you at home. You love others well and treat them with freely given kindness, compassion and respect. When you were three, we learned Ephesians 4:32 which states: Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. We see you living this out daily in the way you treat family and friends. It doesn’t mean you don’t have conflict with others – you do, just like the rest of us. What it does mean is that we see you being quick to forgive others and to move on after conflict has happened. You are also really good at stepping back to see the perspective of others in the situation, and are quick to say you are sorry. It also makes me so proud to hear your concern for others who are struggling and to see how you extend help to those you know you can help.
  • Big Brother
    • Being a big brother to two little sisters is a BIG job. And it is a job you did not get to choose. But you are a big brother and I am so proud of you in this role. You are so sweet and gentle with your baby sister Audra. She lights up when she sees you because she loves you as much as you love her. And it is no secret that Adelyn feels the same way. I love how you spend time with her, playing with her and hugging her when she is hurt or sad. You are thoughtful and considerate to include Adelyn in what you are doing and in playing with your friends. It makes me so proud when you encourage your little sister to follow rules or obey mom and dad, and to demonstrate how to do so with your own behavior. I love the excitement you have every morning about seeing both of them. Thank you for loving your sisters so much and for being the loving, protecting and kind big brother that you are.
  • Uniquely Aiden
    • There is no one on this earth who is just like you. YOU were knit together with care and love by the God who created the entire world and all the people and things in it. God made no mistakes and did nothing carelessly when He created you. I love who you are and who God made you to be. It is our prayer that you will see yourself as God sees you and that you will know HE loves you even more than we can, with His perfect love. We pray that you will continue to grow in faith and confidence in who God made you to be, that the most important identity you have is in Christ Jesus

Today, and every day, I am grateful for YOU.

oct-16

Impatient for Patience

One of my first blog posts, and still applicable today. Are you impatient for patience with your kids?

this grateful mama

Recently, I snapped at my son, impatient with his whiny attitude. My unkind tone invoked tears. Annoyed, I went on to tell him how whining hurt my ears. Now sobbing, he cried, “Stop talking, mom”.

His words stung. They were all he could utter to express his hurt feelings. Convicted, his tears broke my heart.

Correcting his attitude was appropriate, but not with such blatant insensitivity. My tone rendered my words ineffective and left me needing to apologize.

What was wrong with me? Obviously, my child cried and did not feel JOY when I spoke to him like that. 

Most days, I follow simple steps to address discipline. Sticking to the plan usually keeps me calm regardless of the offense. SOME days, I have seemingly never-ending patience.

But there are too many days where a trivial offense is met with an unwarranted impatience.  Frustrated when my child can’t wait just ONE MINUTE for that glass of water, I raise my…

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Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent – 5 Ways to Help Older Children Cope

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent: 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope | thisgratefulmama.com

Adding a baby to the family is a big adjustment.

For everyone.

And when that baby hurts and has perhaps more needs than some other babies do, it can be an even greater adjustment.

The newest sweet addition to our family has silent reflux and had a tongue tie and lip tie that caused feeding issues which caused pain and crying for much of each day for three months.

Despite the challenges, we are so grateful for our growing family. We are grateful that even though our baby hurts, she is healthy and thriving.

But watching a baby cry in pain gut-wrenching. It motivated us to seek treatment and to research everything we could find. This is our third time around with silent reflux and we are still learning. Every baby is different. There is no magic recipe for treatment that works for all babies.

For a while, it seemed like nothing could help her. But we kept praying. Kept searching. God has been faithful throughout the journey. When I have time to process the past months I’ll share what did help our daughter. She is still medicated for reflux, but it is now under control most of the time. God is so good. And His timing is perfect.

While we waited for the solution to control her reflux, we did our best. Many days we carried everywhere, all day long.

Often, she cried whether we held her or not. At least when she was in my arms, she wasn’t in pain alone.

If you’ve spent time around a baby who cries a lot, you know even the most seasoned parent can get frazzled – even a mom who cared for two other reflux babies.

A frazzled mom is simply not at her best, even when she is giving her best.

This frazzled mama has two older children who were not getting my best. Given the volume of crying, most interactions with my kids was done at an elevated volume and tone. I am not proud of some of the sharp replies and responses they got from me these past months. It is not surprising that our older children also struggled to cope. 

Our son had severe silent reflux, but he was our first child, so he had our full attention. Although our second child also had reflux, her symptoms were present more so at night than during the day, and were never as severe as her brother. Her older brother did not have to cope much with her crying because he slept through most of it.

While we are so grateful our third child has been a champion sleeper, her symptoms are expressed mainly during the day. And the pain and crying expression of that pain has been profound. In the second and third months of her life, it was not uncommon for her to cry for 5-10 hours of the day. She was either eating, sleeping or crying. There was little time or energy for anything, or anyone, else. For any of us.

If you are a parent of older children and a hurting baby, here are some tips for helping your older children cope with what is going on at home.

Infant Silent Reflux Is NOT Silent – 5 Ways To Help Older Children Cope

1. Don’t Expect Too Much

When frazzled by a screaming baby, we seems to expect older children to be on their best behavior. However, kids get just as frazzled as we do. I often found myself dismissing them, or asking them to wait for unreasonable amounts of time for basic needs because I was overwhelmed. But being overwhelmed does not mean they don’t need me as their mom, nor does it give me the right to expect them to not need anything while the baby is crying – especially when the baby is crying for most of the day.

If I am not at my best, it is not fair to expect our children to be at their best. But how should we expect them to behave? It is certainly OK to ask them to follow already established family rules – we wont’ be encouraging bad habits or lowering our standard of discipline because  that would have to be corrected later. However, it is appropriate and important to extend grace to an emotionally frazzled child who may just need more attention. Is your child’s misbehavior a cry for attention, or simply from frustration and confusion about what is happening in their home? If so, they need your help to cope.

2.Carve Out Quality Time

If siblings are struggling to behave or are emotionally frazzled, MAKE time to spend with each older child. This doesn’t have to be a big event. Take advantage of baby’s nap time and spend it with older children – household chores can wait, no matter how messy the house is. Sit down, read a book out loud, play Legos, or color. An amazing attitude adjustment can be seen in our kids after just 15 minutes of dedicated time. They need more of us. We need to make the time for them, no matter how old they are, or how much the baby cries.

3. Recruit Other Adults

After quality time, your children may still struggle. If so, it might be time to recruit some help. Grandparents, aunts, uncles and trusted family friends are perfect to lavish love on older children. Often, they do not know you need help and are more than willing to help. Or, those who don’t want to overstep may just waiting for you to ask. Not good at delegating? Check out this post for some ideas of ways others can help and have graciously helped our family. Then go ASK!

4. Talk About It

Siblings may not know if it is OK to feel frustrated, sad, or confused about what is going on at home. The crying, and decreased attention from their parents on top of the normal adjustment to a new family member can be hard for them to understand and may need help sorting through their feelings. One way to get them talking is to share how you are feeling. Tell them you are aware you’ve been spending less time, that you miss them and cherish the time you do have together. Gently, kindly share what you have noticed about their behavior and mood. Give them time and assurance that it is alright to share their feelings and that it is OK to have those feelings. Assure children that this season will not last forever, and be sure to make sure to tell them how much you love them and how proud of them you are. Repeat.

5. Get Out Of The House

It can be easy to just stay inside when baby cries most of the day. But isolation is not helpful for anyone. Resist the urge to stay inside and get out of the house. Don’t worry if people look when your baby cries – most of them think you are doing a great job. They may look only because they heard a noise. What they see is a mama who is doing her best. You don’t have to go far to escape the house. Go for a walk, to the park, the zoo, or anywhere that is out of the house and out of routine. Even if baby cries the whole time, go anyway. Crying never seems as loud when you’re outside, and you never know, you might get a break from crying if baby gets some fresh air.

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The hall bathroom is mainly used by our 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. But often, it is used by guests. Almost 3 years after moving in, the bathroom was still builder-white.

With two little people using the bathroom, the walls were starting to look dingy from wet hands and water splatter on flat white paint.

The bathroom needed a satin-finish paint job to protect the walls and clean it up.

Plus, with a colicky baby keeping us home more than usual, I needed a project.

Bad.

With a start and finish.

And I roped my husband into it when a simple paint job became a slightly larger project. We picked out navy paint for the space, but navy was just too dark for the window-less bathroom.

To keep the space bright, and protect walls from the wear and tear that is inflicted by small children, we decided to add white bead board.

Home Depot carries this two-foot width bead board product with pre-cut grooves to fit seams together. We needed just 5 two-foot boards for our small bathroom. We spent $35 on bead board and under $10 on chair rail and caulking.

The spendy part of this project was the paint. Sherwin Williams matched the white paint to our existing trim. One gallon of satin Super Paint along with velour rollers for an ultra-smooth finish was $50, even with a $10 off coupon!

Yikes.

But now we have enough high quality white paint to use for our future mud room lockers and bead board border.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We taped and painted the navy color during nap time one day.  My husband spent half a day working on the bead board. And I spent one more nap time applying two coats of white paint to the bead board.

 

 

 

 

Paint completed, we just needed a few finishing touches.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We found the wooden ‘Splash’ sign for $15 at Home Goods. You can find something similar from this Etsy shop.

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The wooden Whale was found on clearance for $7 at Hobby Lobby.

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

Hand towels are hung using $9 wooden fish hangers from Marshalls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The space was completed with the Wave Blue shower curtain from Target. Usually $17, we paid $14 using a 20% off Cartwheel deal.

 

 

 

 

 

Voila.

It’s amazing how just one little project can make you feel energized…and ready for the next one.