Thoughts from a Former Teacher

Z just finished his first week of teaching. He leaves early, dressed not quite casually but also not fancy with lunch box in hand. He comes home late, having forgotten his lunch box at school because he was too tired to really think. You see, the first week of teaching is one of the hardest weeks of the year. Teachers everywhere collapse into bed by 8:30 after the first week. Over the weekend, they go home and work to learn as much as possible about their new students. They spend the weekend planning lessons for the coming weeks. Teaching is such good work, but it is also hard work. Here are some things I pray I remember someday when Ruthie is in school:

#1. Teachers are on our side. I know that sometimes we can feel like this isn’t the truth, but I promise that your child’s teacher cares deeply for them (like any other field, there can sometimes be bad seeds. But this is not a common occurrence). They celebrate when your baby accomplishes a new task, they cry when your kid has a tough day, they pray for your student, they push your little one to be their very best – from kindergarten all the way to graduation. Remember that your teachers are human, and they only want what’s best for your kiddos.

#2. “Thank you” goes a long way. This is so simple, just two little words but they can literally make a teacher’s day. Write a note, send a text, give them a call, say it at afternoon pick up. It doesn’t matter how or where, but “thank you” is huge.

#3. Gift cards are even better. If you can afford it, I challenge you to get a $5 Starbucks gift card and take it to your child’s teacher on Monday. Teacher’s spend dollars upon dollars of their own personal money in order to be sure their classroom is the best it can be for their students, the least we can do is treat them to some coffee. Everyone likes to be recognized for their hard work, and a hot cup of coffee is always nice.  

#4.  Teachers are actually world class actors. You will see them greet you with a smile, talk to children in soft controlled voices, and roll with the punches when something gets thrown or spilled on them even though internally they are going mad. This is the life of the teacher. They do whatever it takes to build relationships so that, in the end, they can forge strong relationships with their kids and parents. Teaching is relationship building. They put on a good face in hopes of keeping doors open and building bridges to connect with their students.

 My prayer is that as we move through this school year, we will take the time to remember our student’s teachers. To pray for them, to lift them up, to thank them for loving our kiddos. There is no one aside from us who spends more time with our kids, let’s remember that and pour into our teachers.

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Belugas & Babies (Guest post by Z)

I’ve got a little story for ya.

A few months ago Sarah and I were home playing with baby girl. Sarah was singing a rendition of the “Baby Beluga” song to our little girl, and she decided to replace “beluga” with “Ruthie” to be cute.  Being the fun guy that I am, I thought it clever to then throw Sarah’s name in the song. However, instead of saying “baby Sarah” I said “Sarah beluga…”. My wife’s face dropped, she got up, and left the room while I was left with our child and a bemused look. One minute we were all smiling and playing, and the next minute she was upset and I had no idea why.

Here is what we (I) learned that night:

Everyone cares how they look and women tend to care more than guys. Pregnancy and postpartum only amplify this. When you rewrite a song on the fly and inadvertently call your wife a whale, it will hurt her feelings.

Guys know that they need to compliment and praise their wife/fiancée/girlfriend. Women can be pretty emotional and pregnancy makes that even more dramatic. There is plenty of self doubt, insecurity, and uncertainty during and after pregnancy, and it is during that time that they need to be reassured by their guy that they are still as beautiful as ever. They will be, they just may not think so. That’s where you can step in and make sure they don’t doubt how you feel.

This is done best by being even more careful of what you say than you may normally be. Think 3 times, pause, think again, and then you may speak. Also, be careful not to think too long because then your silence becomes a negative and you’re hosed.

That night I learned:

  1. Pregnancy changes everything, particularly emotions.
  2. Make make sure you’re complimenting your gal.
  3. As guys, we’re stupid and need to rethink things often.
  4. I’m not a songwriter.

June Must Haves

This week, I’m going to share a few must have items for the summer. A couple of books, a Ginnings household essential (that I’m willing to share), and a couple of baby items I couldn’t live without. I even included a bonus item, since it’s been awhile since I’ve posted. These things will make your life better, I promise!

#1: The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty: y’all, Liane and I are quickly becoming good friends. I’ve mentioned another of her books in my Must Haves before, but I just can’t get enough! This book has just enough drama to draw you in, but not so much that it’s crazy. This is the perfect summer read, take it to the beach when you go!

#2: Lavender Essential Oil: if you or your husband or your baby or your dog (aka anyone in your whole house) has trouble sleeping, you need to try this oil. I used to be such a stress dreamer and wake up constantly throughout the night. I started using lavender at night…no more wake ups! Baby girl’s naps are significantly better when lavender is involved. I love this stuff so much, that I will send a small sample to the first 3 people to email me about it!

#3: Honeycomb Teething Necklace: if your baby is anything like mine, they probably pull at and chew on your necklace constantly. Instead of freaking out and worrying about nice jewelry getting ruined, I just wear one of these (they’re especially great when you are wearing your baby). BONUS, they’re super cute!

#4: Business Boutique by Christy Wright: we live in a world of entrepreneurs. Everywhere you look, people are constantly starting their own businesses, whether that is a service, MLMs, an app, you name it. This book gives you a step by step guide on how to make those dollas doing what you love.

#5: TomTom Runner: I had this crazy idea to sign up for a half marathon. I’ve run a couple before, but post-baby workouts are just so much harder so I needed something to force me to do it. (Let me just say, I’m nearly 8 months post baby and I am STILL working on getting back into shape. Geez Louise!) Many runs, being able to look down at my watch and know how much longer I have to go is the only thing that keeps me going as I  slowly attempt to whip out some miles. Get one, and run this half with me!!

-BONUS-

#6: ErgoBaby 360 Carrier: if you’re a mama of a baby, you need one of these. This thing is 100% the only reason baby girl and I were able to make it flying on our own last week. It’s a lifesaver.

Just for fun, here are some pictures of our life lately. Isn’t baby girl just the cutest?

 

Motherhood’s Greatest Joys

Sunday was my first Mother’s Day. While this is supposed to be a day to celebrate moms and all they do, all I could think about was how grateful I am for the little girl who made me a mama. Seven months in and I still can’t believe God entrusted me with her…does that ever sink in? All of this got me thinking about the most joyful parts of motherhood. Oftentimes, it is easy to focus on the hard stuff. While the hard things are oh so valid, so are the joys. If anything, I feel like we should aim to make the joys the most valid things – if we fix our eyes on them, our lives will be all the happier. This week, I want to share with y’all what I believe are the greatest joys of motherhood.

#1: I get to see the way my baby loves her daddy. One of the brightest highlights of my day is the moment that Zach walks through the door. Partly because I’m excited to see him, but mostly because I love to see the smile on Ruthie’s face when she sees her daddy. Seeing your baby light up when they see their dad is enough to make a mama’s heart want to burst with happiness.

#2: The world becomes new again. As adults, much of what we encounter day to day is commonplace. We’ve been there, done that, and moved on with life. But to our babies, everything is new. The kitchen sink, the grass outside, the taste of sweet potatoes, everything. I love to see her face brighten as she learns something new, or to see her eyebrows furrow in befuddlement. When that little girl looks up at me and smiles because she just figured something out, I melt. Watching Ruthie learn about the world has caused me to embrace each day with a new sense of wonder.

#3: The Gospel comes alive like never before. When I think about how God sent his son to earth as a baby to live a perfect and sinless life only to die a criminal’s death on the cross in order that he could rise on the third day and redeem the sins of the world, I am overwhelmed. I can’t even fathom sending Ruthie to do such a job, what incredible love God must have for us! Because I have a baby, my view of the Gospel has become richer, and I have become more thankful of the love that is bestowed upon me.

#4: Every minute counts. Somehow, every day seems to go by faster than the one before. And somehow, the baby that I just brought home from the hospital already knows how to sit on her own and has teeth. Watching my baby go from a totally dependent newborn to a spunky baby who wants to take the world by the horns (help me, Jesus) is such a reminder to me of the importance of every moment. Because I am a mama, I strive to use each minute I am given wisely. This can be overwhelming at times, but it’s also the biggest blessing.

I could go on forever about the things that bring happiness to my mama world, but nobody has time for that. What about you? What are your favorite parts of being mama? What parts grow you? What brings you the most joy?

Mom’s Dress: Lularoe Carly —– Ruthie’s Bonnet: Dillards —– Mom’s Earrings: Noonday Collection 

 

The Heart Behind It

It recently occurred to me that I went about this whole blogging thing the wrong way. In total Sarah fashion, I dove in head first. Which is great, except I want this blog to have purpose. And it does…I just never shared my heart behind it with you. So I suppose it’s time to do that.

Motherhood can be one of the most isolating experiences we, as women, face. It is beautiful. It is hard. It is love. It is lonely. This loneliness is something that I’ve felt down to my bones at times since becoming a mama. That’s not to say that I don’t love my baby, because I do. And that’s not to say that I don’t love being a mom, because I do. But being mama is not an easy job and sometimes the day-to-day of it just wears you down and makes you feel like nobody on the face of this earth knows what you are going through. I believe that Satan can use that loneliness to lure us into feeling like we are uncared for, unknown, unloved, and unimportant. But we don’t have to succumb to these feelings. Psalm 139 makes it very clear that none of these things are true — and we know that — but we tend to forget.

My purpose is for this page to be a place where we fight these things together. Where I can share my stories, with the hope that someone somewhere might be able to let out a sigh of relief and say, “same”. A place where mamas come, and they feel less alone. Where you can visit after a hard day and know, “I’m doing my best, my best is enough, and I am infinitely loved by my Creator even when I fall short”. I want this to be a place where community is built, because none of us were meant to walk this road alone. My hope is that someday, this page will be a resource for the mamas who walk this road behind us. But for now, I just want it to be a place where we can all join together and make this journey a little more relational and a little less lonely.

If you are feeling alone, forgotten, uncared for, unloved…read Psalm 139:1-18 below:

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all of my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, ever there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you’ the night will shine like the day, for darkness is light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand – when I awake, I am still with you.

Advice from your Mama

I have a baby that doesn’t sleep. No matter what I’ve tried, no matter what I do, I just can’t get her to be a good sleeper. I’ve read sleep article after sleep article, to no avail. “Give her rice cereal, she’s probably hungry”, my mom said over and over. I brushed it off because nowadays there’s some mixed research on whether or not it’s the best option (and hello I’ve done all my reading so I obviously know everything). The no sleep saga continues. We finally got to the point that we thought “maybe there is some medical issue that is hindering Ruthie’s sleep”. Off we go to the doctor to ensure a clean bill of health. And would you guess what the doctor ordered? Rice. Cereal. (Insert eye roll about how I had to call my mom and tell her she was right all along). Oh how I wish I had just listened to my mother. Fast forward a couple of weeks — it hasn’t helped, but I have learned a lesson. There’s a reason God gave us moms, and they have some sage advice. Maybe we should listen to our mamas a little bit more. So I did some research, and here’s advice from some mamas who I know and trust. Some of it is serious, some comical, some spiritual. Do with it what you will…or don’t.

#1: “When they fall at the park, DO NOT make eye contact!  If there is no audience to the fall, they will usually just get right back up.  But if they know you saw it the tears will start.  And the wailing.  And the “Pick me up and carry me because now I have a boo boo”.  Just look away, Mama.  Look.  Away.”

#2: “Put your phone down! They will not stay little for long. Pay attention to them and talk to them. And lock the bathroom door!”

#3: “Give yourself grace! It’s a season.”

#4: “Take the real small play doh container, like you put in party treat bags, to restaurants with you. After they eat, let them make peas, worms, whatever while parents enjoy eating. Be sure to clean it all up for waiters.”

#5: “Your mom is a very valuable tool. Next to your doctor, your greatest source of information. She knows you AND your baby. Your own instincts and her experience make a great team. When in doubt, pick up the phone and call mom!”

#6: “My toddler poured my coffee in the fish tank last week while I was feeding the dog. Enjoy the baby stage.”

#7: “Don’t compare yourself with other moms that look like they have it all together. They are just better at faking it than you are.”

#8: “When they’re older, remind them that you love them so much that when they were little you caught their vomit in your hands. Bonus points if you do it in front of their friends.”

#9: “Enjoy every moment with them and don’t feel like you have to be super mom, super wife or have a perfect house.”
#10: “You will mess up!  It will be okay and they won’t remember. Just don’t make it a habit.”

#11: “Simply laugh.”

Man oh man, how all of these words ring true. I am going to strive to live like these mamas (who know far more than I) suggest. I hope you will, too!

What is the best mama advice you’ve received?

The Hardest Part of Motherhood

“Motherhood is tough”.

“I never knew this season would be so hard”.

“Raising babies/toddlers/kids/teenagers is the hardest thing I’ve ever done”.

“I wasn’t prepared for this”.

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard one of these lines. Raise two hands if you’ve ever said one of these lines. There’s no denying it — being a mama can be tough. In the best, most incredible, love filled way, motherhood stretches us. Most days it leaves us tired and needing a shower. At the end of the day yesterday, I had dealt with 7 different types of bodily fluids (number 1, number 2, drool, spit up, sweat, snot, and baby tears). But these things we think of — the yucky stuff, the sleep deprivation, the fill in the blank — these aren’t what make being mommy hard. These are just pieces to the puzzle. No, the hardest part of motherhood is that it strips away our selfishness.

As a mama, it is our job to care for another human. A very needy, very adorable human who doesn’t know how to do anything on their own yet. We feed them, bathe them, rock them, and snuggle them (and enjoy every second of it). But at the end of the day, we’re often left wondering, “do I ever get a break?” or “why do I have to do ALL of the work around here” or “what about me?”. And these are hard thoughts. These thoughts (and others like it) leave us feeling guilty and inadequate. On one hand, we feel justified in these thoughts because “hello, I’m obviously carrying the team here”. But on the other hand, we know in our hearts our attitude is wrong. These thoughts give us a glimpse at our selfish nature. (Now don’t get me wrong, it’s totally healthy for moms to take a break. It’s not the thought that’s wrong…it’s our heart behind it). They show us that we weren’t meant to do this alone, and that we need more of Jesus and less of us. Motherhood is hard because it is a constant reminder that “love is not selfish”. Repeat after me. LOVE. IS. NOT. SELFISH. Some days, I repeat this non stop.

When the baby wakes up in the middle of the night and I don’t want to get out of my warm, cozy bed. Love is not selfish.

When I find myself envious of the fact that my husband gets to do “whatever he wants” (yeah right, parenthood affects these daddies just as much). Love is not selfish.

When I get frustrated because the baby is crying for what feels like the 24380714380th time. Love is not selfish.

Motherhood is tough for so many reasons. But I honestly think the hardest part is the each day, we are challenged to die to ourselves. As humans, that’s rough. It involves growing pains, and nobody likes those. But we can find encouragement in this — if motherhood is stripping off our selfishness, then motherhood makes us more like Jesus.

So how do we submit to this? How do we accept this new normal?

-Choose to serve: instead of worrying about how hard motherhood is, what would happen if we made it our goal to make our husbands life easier? What if we chose to love our husbands by protecting their sleep, or facilitating time for them to play with baby?

-Take a break: seriously. Set aside 15 minutes each day that is yours. Run, bathe, read, watch YouTube cat videos, dance, eat cheesy nachos. I don’t care what it is. But do something for 15 minutes that is just for you.

-Pursue community: listen y’all. Satan wants you to believe that you are in this alone. He wants us to think that we are the only person who has ever walked this path or that nobody will understand us or that nobody cares how we feel. DON’T BELIEVE THESE LIES. Surround yourself with people who care about you and will speak Truth into your life. We need people who will help us along this path of sanctification.

March Must Haves

I’m back this week to share 5 must have items! This month’s items are mostly food and books…I’m not sure what that tells you about my lifestyle (probably that I like food and I like to read), but I’m okay with it. Anyways, let’s get straight to the point:

#1. Honest Tea Moroccan Mint Tea: I used to think I wasn’t really a mint person. Boy, was I wrong. I could drink this tea all day long and not be one bit sad about it. Plus, it’s easy to find — you can buy it at HEB. Green tea. Mint. Not overly sweet. It’s refreshing to say the least.

#2. Big, Little Lies by Liane Moriarty: This book tells the story of 3 women who meet through their school aged children. Each has their own web of lies — whether big or small, I won’t say. In the end, someone dies…but who? I read this book before baby girl was born, and still think about it to this day. It is very well written, and really draws you in. If you read this, be prepared to not want to put it down! (Disclaimer: this isn’t a book I would let my 13 year old read. It has some language).

#3. Maybelline Define-a-Brow: I’m not a big make up wearer. Most days, I just throw on some mascara and go. But I’ve found that if my eyebrows look great, then I feel more confident. Don’t go crazy with this stuff, just use it to accentuate your natural beauty. Send me a selfie when you wear it, and walk around feeling fabulous all day long!

#4. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis: This book is something every Christian should read. Written in the point of view of a master demon writing letters to his trainee, C.S. Lewis portrays human life and sin. It can be a bit confusing at first (they refer to Satan as the Father and God as the Enemy), but is so humbling and helps us to really see our sin for what it is. This book will completely change the way you view spiritual warfare.

#5. White Chocolate Popcorn: A dear friend of mine made this once, and I just HAD to have the recipe. Don’t like white chocolate? You’re in good company. But man, I could eat white chocolate popcorn for days. You can’t buy it anywhere, but it so easy to make. Here’s how it goes: pop 3 bags of popcorn and put them in the biggest ziploc bag you can find. Melt one bag’s worth of white chocolate chips. Slowly pour the melted chips into the bag, and shake the popcorn until every kernel is coated. Voila! You have yourself a not so healthy but entirely delicious snack.

Have you discovered any new must haves? Is there something that you just can’t live without? I’d love to hear about it!

Things they don’t tell you about motherhood

When people find out you’re pregnant, they automatically offer advice. Here’s how to do this, be ready for that, don’t worry if ____ happens — you know the drill. In these last 4 months, I’ve been amazed at the things I’ve learned that nobody has told me, or maybe they did and I didn’t listen. Here are some surprising things nobody tells you before you become a mom:

If you have a little girl, pay attention to her bows. I can’t even tell you the number of times I’ve looked back and RJ’s bow had fallen in front of her eyes because the bow was too big for her head. No wonder the kid was crying. Now that her head is OFF THE CHARTS huge, bows tend to leave dents in her head. It’s comical, but also makes you feel like the worst. So if you’re putting a bow on the child’s head, make sure it fits.

The laundry. Oh my gosh the laundry. Before RJ was born, I would wash probably 3 loads a week. Now, I can easily do about 8 loads…and still be behind. I feel like some homeless person must be sneaking into my house in the middle of the night and using all of our clothes, because surely 2.5 people can’t produce this much laundry. Right? Wrong.Tiny babies poop everywhere and spit up and have really cute outfits that they grow out of in a matter of minutes seconds.  When it comes to laundry, 1 + 1 + 1  = 312,780,412 (apparently).

At home date nights are a thing of the past. Once you have a baby, it becomes even more important to spend quality time with your man. But listen closely — do not try to have an at home date night. We’ve given this a go a couple of times, and it was a joke. We cooked a yummy dinner, rented a movie, and sat down to watch it together. And that’s when the baby decides it’s time to have a meltdown (never mind the fact that mom should have realized it was time to eat). At home date nights are great in theory, but only lead to a failed attempt at quality time.

Dad will always be the fun one. This one here really gets me riled up. As moms, we put in all of the work leading up to the kid being born. We grow the child for 9 whole months, we go through labor (or if you’re like me, you have a C-section because your baby is completely upside down), learn how to breastfeed/bottle feed and wake up in the middle of the night, and then when the kid learns to smile, they will only do it for dad. Not that parenthood is a competition or anything, but come on kid!

I’m pretty sure babies are bi-polar. Little babes have this incredible and strange ability to go from crying sorority girl (disclaimer: cut this video off before you get to the last 5 seconds…there is a bad word) to this level of happy in a matter of 0.12 seconds. It is equal parts terrifying and adorable.

Tiny baby snuggles are the best. Let’s be real, some things about motherhood can be frustrating. But as soon as your baby snuggles up to you, all of the irritating things just melt away. The heavens open up and the angels sing, and all is right in the world.

What about you? What surprised you about motherhood?

Lessons from Motherhood

Let me just start by saying that sweet RJ is only 3 months old. So I’m very new to this gig, and by no means an expert. But I’m learning, each and every day. As with all worthwhile things, some days I knock it out of the park, and other days I come up short. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

#1: Time is valuable.

Whether you look at your baby and think “how can you be rolling over already? Weren’t you just born 2 days ago?” (RJ is not rolling over yet, but I’m sure I’ll think this when she actually does) Or “good Lord I’ve been rocking the baby for over and hour and I just want to sit on the couch and watch This Is Us. Why are you not sleeping?”, there’s no way to deny it. Having a tiny human makes us recognize the significance of every moment.

#2: No one should have to do this alone.

All my single mamas out there, kudos to you. I don’t know how you do it, but I tip my hat. Sometimes, though, you just need a helper. Someone to take the baby when she’s cried for what feels like eternity and you’re just done, someone to get you water when you’re nursing and feel as if you’ve been in the Sahara, someone to tell you “hey, you’re doing a great job”, someone to change that poopy diaper because you’ve seen all the bodily fluids you can handle in a day. If you don’t have a cheerleader, have your people call my people. We’re all in this together.

#3: Our plans are garbage.

Have I mentioned before that I didn’t mean to have a baby? Z and I thought we would start our family in a few years. We had plans and adventures to accomplish. Throughout my pregnancy, I struggled with why God would change the trajectory of my life. But looking at RJ now, I realize that our plans are often garbage in comparison to what God has for us. So if your life doesn’t look the way you thought it would, take heart. I’m sure that God is at work.

#4: My husband is not the enemy.

Repeat this with me. And when the baby is having a meltdown, just say it over and over in your head. Maybe it’ll sink in someday. Can anyone tell me why this one is so hard? Z is my number one fan and helper, and yet he’s the one who gets all my crap when I get stressed. Not fair.

#5: Exercise. We need it.

We may not realize it, but every mama needs a break. And you know what? That doesn’t make you a bad mom. Go for a quick run, take a walk around the block, do anything to just get away from your people for even 15 minutes. It helps. Also, baby weight. It’s the worst. I believe that we should get to have a normal body once baby is born…I mean, you just birthed a child for crying out loud. But alas, this is not how the world works. Do you know what does help with those pesky extra pounds? Exercise. In the wise words of Elle Woods, “Exercise give you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t”. (See above lesson. Don’t kill your husband.)

#6: Those hippie snake oils.

Baby won’t poop? There’s an oil for that. Worried about flu season? There’s an oil for that, too. Baby won’t sleep? Grab the oils. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear they work. There’s a marked difference in RJ’s sleep when we use them, praise Jesus hallelujah. (Feel free to reach out to me if you want  to know more).

#7: IT’S SO WORTH IT.

Need I say more?