On face.book: Why I’m back, and here to stay!

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So, this month I didn’t use my face.book account. At all. I deactivated my account (which, by the way, fb turns into quite a dramatic event. When you click “deactivate” it begins to show you pictures of your friends with a message that says, “This friend will miss you” and “so and so will miss you” as if that will change your mind. Cute. Ineffective, but cute.) A lot of people have asked me why I did it, and I’d really like to say I had a well thought out and coherent response. Usually in my life though, that isn’t true, and I babble and ramble until hopefully, eventually, something comes out that makes a little bit of sense.

I knew I needed a break. But I feel like taking a break is pointless if there isn’t a goal or a reason or something at the end. I knew I was spending a little too much time on fb, but I didn’t feel like it was out of control or terrible. I think what it came down to is that I was allowing my computer/phone/social media become a priority, and in my brain, it isn’t as high as my actions were saying. Does that make sense? I guess I just felt like I was getting to the end of my days and saying, “I didn’t have time to run” or “I didn’t have time to fold that load of laundry” or “I didn’t have time to start a craft with the kids” or “I didn’t have time to do devotions.” But I wasn’t getting to the end of a lot of days thinking, “Man, I just couldn’t squeeze in ANY fb time!” or “Wow, I didn’t look at insta.gram once today!” It just wasn’t happening. However my days were going, and whatever I was doing, I always got to the end of them having used social media in some form. Which means that somewhere along the way, it became a priority above things that I actually WANT to be my priorities.

When I deactivated, I wasn’t 100% sure I was even going to come back. I thought maybe this would be a freeing month, and I’d realize how much time I wasted and how unecessary it was, and I wouldn’t want to do it again. That definitely didn’t happen–there were a lot of things that I missed. Turns out when you deactivate your account, things don’t stop (inconsiderate, yes? I figured I should probably unfriend anyone who had a significant life event in my absence.) People had babies, adopted babies, got engaged, had birthdays that I completely missed, and had loved ones die and I missed the services because I didn’t know in time. I felt a little left out of all these things (as of starting this post, I STILL haven’t seen pictures of some of those babies that were born!) and I realize what a huge part of every day life it has become. Despite having a little more time and focus, I actually saw people less because I realized how many of my playdates were scheduled through fb. I missed seeing pictures of my friends kiddos, reading interesting news articles.

I learned this month that I’ll probably never deactivate my account permanently, and I don’t really think that I should. Like it or hate it, social media is part of our world. And it’s part of the world my children are in, and I feel like as a Christian, I need to find a way to use this avenue in a way that gives him glory. To cut out the parts that pull me away from my faith and family, and to use this as a gift that points myself and others always up.

There’s a lot of debate about whether or not social media is destroying real relationships. And, as a texting addict who fell in love with her husband over the wee morning hours on an old school, non full keyboard phone, I say that is FALSE. I have close relationships with friends that I love and have encouraged me through mothering that I barely knew before we started communicating on fb. I bonded with women who also had preemie babies; I got advice and help from other moms who had 2 littles close together. I got advice on how to feed my kids, how to discipline my kids, and how to be a better mom. Also through social media, I have found a huge, humongous, crazy blessing in my friend Ashley. She has become a part of my daily life (mostly through texting marathons!!) and is truly a kindred spirit. I don’t know what I did before we were friends–she is my go-to “Holy cow I’m having a terrible day” or “Oh my gosh, look at this video of my kids” or “Is it ok my kids eat mac and cheese every night?” and most importantly, she gets texts pretty often from me begging for her fashion advice, whenever I need to look presentable and can’t pull it off on my own. It still baffles my mind to think that the ONLY reason she and I even met was because we were both fans (fans? is fans a creepy word? is it a nerdy word?) of Raechel’s blog–such big fans (Rae, do you feel like a rock star yet??) that we both flew hundreds of miles to stay with (and run. run far. run very, very, far) this woman who we had never met, but had followed her life, and admired. I 100% believe that is God. I believe that he gives us friends and relationships in unique ways, and that he provides opportunities for it to happen, and that to cut out social media would really limit my chances to see him work. He can work in many, many awesome ways, but I truly believe He is choosing working in social media in many ways.

But I think as Christians, we MUST make our social media usage different than the world. We must be uplifting and encouraging–I have been convicted that fb is not an appropriate outlet to complain about my children, or my husband, or my job, or even the weather. I am convicted to find the beauty not just in my blog, but in every aspect of social media that I use. And I am convicted to put my time with Him ahead of my blog, twitter, insta.gram, and fb. Because He IS more important, and the more HE is my priority, the more everything else will fall into place.

To many reading this, this entire post probably sounds really, really dramatic. Some of you are probably thinking “Geez, a month isn’t that long. I wouldn’t have any trouble doing that.” And to you–I truly admire you. I admire those who can use this as a blessing and not a stumbling block and I am hoping that will be where I end up as well. I feel like I made really good progress this month, and there are exciting things happening in the social media world right now that I feel are going to be big in my life, and big in the social media circle that NEEDS christians to rise up.

I’d LOVE to hear anyone’s thoughts on this. What are some ways that you have made social media a part of your life without letting it take over? What do you think that we as Christians can do to spread our influence in this world? Have you had experiences with friends that you met through this avenue that you feel God gave you?

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On being gone, being back, and hating homework.

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I just wrote my first blog post in over 3 months. It wasn’t that great, most likely, but it was done and I hit publish and I was happy. And it was time to eat a handful of dark chocolate m&ms and go to sleep, which is a very wonderful time of my day. I love bedtime. Then, I noticed that there was no text in my blog. Now, I know I’m not the best blogger in the world (I already mentioned my 3 month absence, right?) but I do know that text is good. And there was much angst when I realized it disappeared, but I have now devoured my chocolate and am fully prepared to recreate the messy thoughts I created mere minutes ago.

So, here’s the thing. I hate homework. Hate it. It was the bane of my existence as early as middle school, and I carried the torch with me through college. I actually ended up taking tons of extra classes in college and graduating an entire year early, because I simply couldn’t handle another year of homework. It’s honestly a miracle I survived that long, and I already dread the day my kids come home with homework of their own. It’s probably some sort of character flaw like laziness or lack of respect for authority, but therapy to overcome these issues would probably be way too expensive. So in the meantime, things that I really shouldn’t do are giving myself tasks that feel like homework. Things like forcing myself to blog 3 times a week. Because to me, that isn’t fun. It isn’t enjoyable, and it makes me dislike my blog.

Apparently in my absence, my blog still got viewed, usually by exactly 2 people per day. (Hi, mom!) So to those people: I admire your hope in me. It’s cute that you kept checking, even though I kept not delivering. I’d like to promise I’ll start posting more, but I think we can all agree that me making promises like that just doesn’t work.

I think the bottom line is that I don’t quite have my identity as a blogger yet. Without knowing that, it’s hard to think of what to write about. Am I trying to send a message? Am I trying to document my family in a day-to-day way? Do I want to capture the good moments without focusing on the bad? Do I want to include the bad, because there are certainly less than lovely moments in our family? And what about privacy issues–how much is too much? How can I be authentic without sharing too much? How can I encourage without being preachy? How can I be honest without being whiny? Do I need to be craftier if people read my blog? Funnier? Cleaner? More organzied? More spiritual? A better cook? Do I even WANT people outside of my family to read this blog? Do I want the responsibility of weighing my words carefully, of making sure I am being a light?

And what I have come to is this: social media is dangerous. I am sometimes nervous about the world my kids are growing up in, and what growing up in a social media obsessed world is going to be like. I think that there is a constant struggle to be present in the moment with my kids, to put away the phone and the tweets and the status updates, and I don’t want blogging to weigh me down and pull me further away from my life with them. However. I also think that as Christians we have a huge responsibility to be a force within social media–to understand it, to be part of it, and to help guide the direction it takes. I want to be part of that. I am happy to be part of it in a very small way, but I want my blog to be a light. I want to be honest enough that people can relate to it, and be positive enough that people are encouraged by it. But mostly, in my family, I want Jesus to be seen. And that brings me back to the same place I come every single time I think about this blog: I want to find the beauty. I want to live this one life that I have, and I want to find the beauty in the long, hard days and in the fun easy days and in the pain and joy that is life. I also love the community that is blogging, and I want to be a part of it.

I don’t really know what that looks like–maybe I won’t be back for another 3 months. But I’m hoping that I can find a way to share my life, and my life with my family, in a way that constantly points people up.

If I don’t succeed, the good news is my kiddos are super cute and sweet and these pictures of them should make up for all my blogging transgressions.

Daybook

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Outside my window…
It’s the best winter of my life. I hate, hate, hate cold weather. This week we’ve had temperatures in the 60’s and I am in love. I am a much nicer person when I’m warm.
I am thinking…
That I should really start running again. I’ve been like, twice in the past few weeks. Both times have been tough but have felt SO good afterwards that I really need to make it a priority.
 I am thankful for…
A happy week. And the generosity and kindness of my friends 🙂
 I am learning…
To use my time better. Hopefully I’ll keep learning that lesson.
 I am creating…
My home! Today during naptime I put together a shelf in my room and cleaned off the top of my entertainment center that has become the collection spot for allllll the junk we have. It feels so good to actually have accomplished something!
 I am going…
 to Craftcation!  Eeeeeeeee!!!!! (totally kept this answer EXACTLY the same as my friend Ashley because I, too, am freaking out about this. I am SO beyond thankful and blown away that I even have the opportunity to be a part of this adventure. There are no words.
 I am hearing…
Dogs barking, tv, Geoff pouring a soda…
 Around my house…
It’s generally covered with dog hair and toys. 3 dogs + 2 toddlers = constant havoc.
 One of my favorite things…
is Groundhog Day. It’s pretty much my favorite holiday, though I’m a bit ashamed of how much I neglected it this year. Like, I reaaaaalllly love it. When I went away to college, my mom sent me a Groundhog Day card every year. When I was a manager, my staff used to also get me cards (or hand draw them, which was even more amazing.) One of my dreams in life is to go see Phil live the morning he looks for his shadow. This morning, I was watching Barney instead, which is terribly sad. Next year, I will pay Phil all the respect he deserves. (And yes, I know I’m a weirdo…)
A few plans for my week…
Tomorrow is Geoff’s last day at the bank! This weekend we have some shopping to do and some things to get ready for Superbowl! Wings, pizza, and buffalo chicken dip…mmmm.
A picture…
 I LOVE this picture of my Piper girl. She is every bit as sweet as this picture makes her look. Most of the time.

This is what dreams are made of…

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First off, did anyone else go through a Hilary Duff phase? I’m going to guess no, since I was way too old to actually be a fan of hers. But man, in high school (and in college. shhhh) it was the best.thing.ever. to pop in my CD, roll down my windows on a warm day and BLAST “This is What Dreams Are Made Of.” In case you weren’t aware, that song is from the Lizzie McGuire movie, which I saw in theaters. On opening day. My senior year of high school. Coolest girl you know? That’s right. I am.

Anyways, the reason this song comes to mind is that today was IT. Today was the day that was the culmination of all the things I dreamed of doing when I was a part-time working mama. Today, we had friends over and made pretty Valentine’s out of glitter and fingerpaint. We played with toys and ate too many cookies. We went to the park and we had an adorable photo shoot with friends. We went to Chick-Fil-A and Daddy got off in time to do the chicken dance with us and we all got free dinner. The kiddos went to bed without a peep, and we had a whole day with almost no whining, no meltdowns, and tons of happiness.

And I could write a whole blog post about it. I could tell you all the hilarious things that Sam said, or I could post all the pictures I took (except as you can see, there was a giant smudge on my lens, so of course I don’t have hardly any good pictures.) But mostly today I found myself thinking a lot–I was thinking of how insanely grateful I am for days like this, and how disappointed I am in myself that these days don’t happen more often. But I think that maybe I’m being a little too hard on myself.

I have found in the past few years that moms are mean. Moms are hard on each other, and too opinionated, and give too much unsolicited advice. It actually starts before the kids are even born–we fight about epidurals and we fight about cosleeping and we fight about formula and breastfeeding and we fight about scheduling and on demand feeding and we fight about cry-it-out and we fight about discipline and we fight about where our kids should go to school. The toughest of all the fights for me though, have been that of the battle between working mom versus stay-at-home mom. I feel like as a part time working mom, I sort of exist in both worlds now, which is hard in its own way. I don’t work enough to really be part of the working mom club–but I work too much to actually be part of the stay at home club. I had these ideas in my brain of what life would be like when I stayed home more. I’d be less tired, and less grumpy. I’d have more clean laundry, and a more organized house. I’d spend less time on my phone playing and have more energy to be on the floor with my kids. We’d do more crafts and watch less tv.

And in many ways, this is completely true. I am less tired. I’m WAY less grumpy. I still don’t like laundry, and I’m still not that organized. I still play WordsWithFriends a lot, today is one of the first days we’ve done crafts, and Elmo’s World still makes a regular appearance here. And in some ways, that disappoints me. I had so many pictures in my mind of all the things I could do when I worked less, and even though many of them are happening, many still aren’t. But I think what I’m learning is that who I am as a mom isn’t decided by the number of hours that I work. Who I am as a mom is decided by who I actually am, and who I am putting effort into becoming. And some things just don’t come easy for me. I could quit my job tomorrow, and my house still won’t be as beautiful as one of my dear friends who works 40+ hours per week. I could never go in for another day and we still might have hot dogs and macaroni and cheese from a box. Homemaking is work for me–some parts that I enjoy, but many that I don’t. And I think it will always be a struggle for me to maintain my home and my family.

One thing though, that I will say, is that the days I am home are still easier than the days I work. I am still thankful for each day that I am with my kids, and each moment that I am able to put into the work of caring for my home and family. I love this life that we’re living, and I wouldn’t trade the time I have at home with them for anything–I wouldn’t even trade them to have my house back.

So maybe my pictures are going to be blurry. And maybe there will be dust bunnies under my couch. And maybe when you come to visit me, I’ll have to close my eyes while you pee because there still isn’t a door on my bathroom, even though I’ve lived here for a month. But ya know what? I love my kids. We have fun. We giggle, and they think I’m pretty and funny and they like that I give them fruit snacks. And maybe that matters more than everything else.

Today was the day that I dreamed about. But so are all the other ones. Finding the beauty–even in the blurriness.

 

New ‘Do

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(Sorry for the terrible quality of that photo. Also, I’m sorry for the myspace-ness of that photo.)

So, about once a year I get a haircut. I get a haircut that I LOOOVE and makes me happy. I’m not one of those people who is scared to go short or try something new and dramatic. I’ve had curly hair, straight hair, bangs, bobs, and everything in between. I’ve had a lot of desperately miserable haircuts (the curse of curly hair–no one knows what to do with you!) and it’s gotten even harder to keep my hair looking nice ever since Piper came along and during the pregnancy stole my sanity AND my curly hair. It seems as though it’s never coming back. In it’s place, however, I am not left with cute or fun straight hair. I am left with a frumpy wave and frizz combination which leaves me never wondering what to do. So, after my annual haircuts, I get SUPER excited, and I am so happy to have my new chop. Inevitably though, I end up wanting to grow my hair out reaallly long. This is usually because I have seen someone with a long hairstyle that I get jealous of, and suddenly my grown-out hair takes on a new life in my daydreams. It’s going to have long, gorgeous waves, which I will sweep behind my shoulder and people will point and whisper, “Wow. That girl has gorgeous hair.” But, then something happens. My actual hair grows out, and I realize that all I have is more of the hair that drives me nuts. So it takes longer to blow dry, longer to straighten, still looks crazy, is heavy, and is always in a ponytail. So, blog readers, this is IT. This, today, January 26, is the day I will swear to never, ever want long hair again. I got it all cut off today, and I LOVE it.

(Right about now, I think my dad is wishing he’d followed someone else’s blog.)

There’s something so fun to me about a new haircut. It’s clean, and someone massaged your head, and styled it way better than you could ever dream of. All the yucky ends fall on the floor, and someone else comes and cleans up the mess. It’s really quite a theraputic adventure, one that I might try to make more than an annual thing. And there’s something very happy about shedding the frumpy mom feeling, and embracing the “I’m cute” part of mothering. That second part doesn’t seem to come around nearly as often, eh?

Daybook

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Ok, so, I was uninspired this week. So for my second post, I’m stealing/borrowing this from my bloggy buddy, Ashley.

Outside my window…
 There is ice and snow on the ground. Apparently, we’re having a mild winter. I can’t feel my fingers when I go outside though, so that really means nothing to me.
 I am thinking…
 That I’m really happy I’m not a football fan right now. My hometown team just lost the game in the final seconds because their kicker missed an easy field goal. (Easy, comparatively. I couldn’t kick a football 5 feet, but I also don’t get paid for it, so I feel like I can talk.) If I cared, I’d probably be having a bad night. As it is though, I got chili for dinner and rice krispy treats for dessert, and I care way more about food than football, so my night has been great.
I am thankful for…
 My hubby’s new job! He is going to be working at Starbucks with me in 2 weeks and I’m excited for him. And excited for his new hours and getting to see him more!!

I am learning…
That God’s goodness is constant. It doesn’t change. How I see it changes, and how I experience it changes, but his goodness never, ever, ever changes. Life would be easier for me if I always lived that truth.
 I am creating…
The fact that I have nothing to say here is really sad. I MUST make time to get back into the fun crafty things I was doing. I also need to create a nice space for my family in our new home. Lots of work to be done.
 I am going…
 To bed. A per my usual. Though last week, I stayed up until nearly midnight on several occasions. I was awfully proud of myself.
I am hearing…
 The dryer, and more football.
Around my house…
It is disorganized and cluttered. Two things that I’m working on.
One of my favorite things…
 Sam screaming, “SET, WEADY, GOOOOOO!!!!” and Piper having dramatic meltdowns if she wants some sort of electronic device she isn’t allowed to play with. Also,
A few plans for my week…
Couple of playdates! Excited to see 2 friends I haven’t hung out with since before Christmas. Also, this week we will find out if we’ve officially gotten our house rented out. We have an application that has been put in on it, so just waiting for everything to check out….the positive feedback on our house is such a HUGE answer to prayer!!!

2012: Fail. Family Photo: Success!

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So. Have  mentioned I’m not good at resolutions? Oh, yeah, and I’m also not good at blogging. So this is a winner of a combo I’ve got going on here. Week 1, success. Week 2, not so much. This is not good news, people. Not good. However, I’m going to post 3 times this week, it’s going to all even out, I’m going to be extra awesome from now on, and we’ll all forget about this little Week 2 hiccup. k?

So, our family had a little milestone last month.

The day that Piper came home from the birth center, we got our first family portrait taken. It looked like this:

Yes--both Geoff and I were a lot fatter this time last year. And no, Sam isn't exactly looking at the camera. And yes, Piper's face is beet red because she screamed bloody murder the whole way home.

I was mildly bummed. I mean, I have photographer friends. I wanted one of those magical pictures that made Piper look not like an alien, and made Sam look like a Baby Gap model, and made me look like somehow I hadn’t just pushed a baby out of me. But alas, this is what we got. And  this was literally 7 hours after her birth, so I was in no position to ask for a redo. Not to worry–it’d be easier later.

Parents of more than one child–please feel free to insert a snicker here. It doesn’t get easier. Throughout the year we tried a few more times. Take this gem, for example:

Cute, eh? This was the best attempt of several...

Fourth of July, we all dressed up in our adorably festive clothes. This was going to be IT. The day the cutest of our family was forever cemented.

Ohh look how cute my kids are! No wait, you can't see them...

I started to just give up a little bit. And then last month, we had Sammy’s birthday party. Somewhere in the midst of the chaos, this beauty appeared. And so I bring you the first Ward Family Photo where everyone is looking!

WE WIN!!