Category Archives: Random Advice

TV- Ageddon

So we have a problem in our house these days. It’s been happening more and more frequently, and it was out of control.

For the most part, Mase is a very independent kid. He CAN entertain himself and play for hours, (which he should, he has enough toys to entertain an army) but recently I’ve noticed all this kid wants to do is watch Netflix on Daddy’s iPad or watch flipping Dora on tv. I mean, I’ve got no problem with popping on a little Disney Jr, but it’s getting out of hand. We had gotten to the point of like serious fits and craziness when I would tell him to turn it off and even I was singing along to the Octonauts Creature Report song. It’s catchy, they’re smart over there at Disney.

I’m already drowning in the hideous guilt I feel for constantly trying to redirect my child while I work from home, which I chose to do so I could be close to him and involved in his days. But of course he does not understand what my problem is since I’m sitting in front of him but can’t race cars on his ramp all day. It’s incredibly confusing to a two year old, actually it’s fairly confusing to me as well. And on top of the work-guilt, I also feel equally guilty that instead of constructive or mind engaging playtime, he’s zoned out in front of a device half the day.

And I should mention it since my mom reminds me constantly that I am lucky and that I am able to do a lot with him. He has play dates and park time and beach days and lots of fun, but I think as a mom you sort of always try to do “better”. Whatever that means, and even if an objective outsider claims you’re doing a good job juggling all of this craziness.

I was super frustrated and tired of pinning “ways to keep your toddler engaged without electronics” articles and was venting to my mom about my general concern about Mason and his random schedule and my coping mechanisms for just doing what I need to do to get by. I mean things were tough enough and now I’m pregnant too, so I have to get creative with my approach to daily accomplishments. I had lofty goals once upon a time, and now my priorities have shifted. For example, a reasonable goal for today would have been: did everyone eat at some point some amount today and no one was harmed and/or killed? Yes? Okay then, today is a win.

Let me tell you a little something about Mama Phelan. She was a high school math teacher once upon a time, a principal for a while and then she homeschooled my brother and I off and on. (Brave, brave soul) She’s a wealth of knowledge and full of genius kid ideas and if she could just parent Mase for me too that would be great. She won’t, because she claims being a grandma is way more fun, so I just have to tap her resourceful brain and hope for the best.

She gave me the genius idea of creating a chore chart of simple tasks for Mase every day, and once completed, he could get tokens for TV time. BOOM game changer. The first iteration of the Chore Chart was a super ghetto version I drew myself with Mason’s Crayola markers and I didn’t even use a ruler for the lines which really annoyed/annoys Josh. I taped photos of things I wanted Mase to work on so he could easily identify his chores by fun pictures. It’s ridiculous and embarrassing because I have horrible penmanship and crooked lines, but let me just tell you this bad boy works!

Mase gets a sticker for each completed task and at the end of the day once he’s in bed I tally up the stickers and fill a special bucket up with his tokens. The next day, when he wakes up, when he asks to watch tv or play on the iPad, I ask him to check his bucket for tokens and he has to give one to me before I will turn it on. Our first day he burned through all of the tokens before nap time. That made the later afternoon while I was trying to get dinner together realllllly tough, but bless his heart there were no fits. It’s like the simple disconnect between mommy just saying no because I’m a hateful monster to “sorry, you used up your tokens” was a miracle. The next day I tried to ration him out a little, and even with that he was good without fits! It’s even helping us work on breaking up with the paci, which he was having a really hard time with. I just remind him he has to leave it in the crib or he can’t have a tv token, and he puts it away. Powerful stuff my friends.

I wanted to wait to post about this because I’ve tried chore charts in the past and he’s kind of been over it in a few days. So far though we’re almost 2 weeks in and still going strong! To be fair as well, it has also illustrated how lazy I am…. I mean let’s be honest it’s easier to pick up the flipping toys yourself than battle it out to get them put away at the end of the day. This chart isn’t making things perfect by any means, but it’s helping, and actually it’s helping me as much as him. And in the current state of affairs, every little bit counts!

My next endeavor is doing something nice in Photoshop perhaps and having it laminated. But for now…. Behold!!!!

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Things are by no means perfect and for the love of God why is eating dinner so hard for two year olds, but I love it when someone stumbles on something that might help me with my kid, so I hope the idea of a chore chart/ simple reward system spark some good ideas for anyone who might be feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with motivating and rewarding these feisty nuggets!

xoxo,

jess

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5 Years Is A Long Time

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To me grief can become a bit of a slippery slope. I don’t mean the normal process of grieving the kind that is healthy an necessary and different for everyone. I mean the darkness. The unstoppable sobs, the inability to function, the deepest darkest places that my heart goes if I let it.

One of the hardest parts of grieving for me has been finding a balance. Working through the pain without letting it consume me. When grief is like that, like the big monster, I need help to see my way out of it. Like a sponsor of sorts. Someone who knows exactly where I’ve been and exactly how I’m feeling and can remind me of the light and the goodness that is still here, right in front of me. And even though they may be struggling too, they always know exactly what to say to bring me back to the land of the living. I am blessed enough to have a few of these wonderful people in my life, and I’m grateful to no end.

My journey with grief began exactly 5 years ago. Almost to the moment as I’m writing this post, although I think when someone has a terminal illness in some ways you begin to grieve long before they actually go.

My memories of Jan 14th, 2009 and the days and weeks immediately after are the worst kind of nightmare. The kind you can’t shake off when you wake up, the kind you keep dreaming over and over and over again. Except unfortunately this isn’t just a horrible dream, it’s just life. It’s what they tell me is my “new normal”.

I should have made a list of all the things people say when there is a loss. Some of it was incredibly compassionate and wonderful and some of it just sucked. I recently read and reposted an incredible article on what to say and what not to say and I wish I had it 5 years ago. 🙂

But really, the whole point is there is nothing that helps, there are no words, there is no action to be taken that can replace what has been stolen from you. So even though sometimes it wasn’t the best, I appreciated people for any time that they tried.

I would like to acknowledge every single person who cared for my broken heart over the past five years. I tried to write it all out, but I couldn’t stop crying and it was a hot mess so I gave up. You all carried me in different ways, and tonight I am so so so very grateful.

The harsh reality of life is that some times it is horrible and sometimes you will suffer immeasurable loss. Not everyone is blessed with amazing people around them to support them and help them transition to a functioning happy life. I am one of the lucky ones. My heart is aching especially hard for my loss at this time, but beyond that pain and brokenness I see the light of the people around me, and I am full of thankfulness.

Beau, until we meet again I will miss fiercely every day and try my best to be a person who would have made you proud.

xoxo,

jess

Making 2014 Count

martinez party of three

I’ve been on a kick lately to follow new people in Instagram. I’ve been finding this amazing group of women who are these strong, successful, creative and beautiful people who are moms and work and do everything in between. Recently, one of the lovely ladies I follow encouraged everyone to write a blog post on how you want to make 2014 count. You can read more about this kind of amazing lady on here blog at http://www.thewiegands.com/ .

I have been struck these last few days by my feelings of excitement for the new year. This overwhelming sense of freshness and newness gets in my soul in this week between Christmas and New Years Day, and I make lists and goals and organize things and even get crazy and throw out the sugar leftover from Christmas. My main goal for this year is to keep this feeling inside all year long, and to translate it to every new day, every new week, every new hour. It’s so easy to get beat down as the year trods on and you’re not where you want to be, or things aren’t how you would like them, and life just seems hard and blah. (This is usually  my April and August….) I want to channel this energy to the reality that every new day is a gift, and worth being excited about.

I’m in love with the idea of a new year bringing new opportunities and the chance for new goals and aspirations for myself and for my family. I love the idea of a word for the year, a word to live by that would encourage me and keep me focused on what can often be a long 365 days.

My word for 2014 is HOPE.

Last year was a rough one, and I so often found myself with no hope. The words that would have described most of my 2013 were those of hopeLESSness, sadness, bitterness, anger and even a little hate sometimes. This year I want this truth to characterize my year,

“…We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”- Heb 6:19

I have a hope that reaches beyond my circumstances and beyond what my eyes can see, a hope that is the deepest and truest anchor while my soul is tossed around by all that life throws at me.

I’m learning a little bit at a time, day by day, that while God’s plan is a mysterious and painful one at times, we have been given the power to be “joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer”. Joyful in hope, not anxious and worried and annoyed and angry. Joyful. I feel like I used to be a joyful person. Life kind of wears me out and I find myself sad, tired and empty. I think it all goes hand in hand. Hopelessness brings out so much sadness. But the good news is, I can choose to have hope, I can choose to be joyful, and I can choose to embrace my limitations and my situations and have hope that at the end of the day, its all working out for good.

So this year, 2014, with all of your bright and shiny new beginnings, I am going to make you count by having HOPE. Every day, even the hard ones, every hour, especially the hard ones. Obviously I can’t do it alone, but here’s my rough plan

But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion”, says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” – Lam 3:21-24

I’m sure I’ll be chanting this verse a lot the coming year, so if you see and/or hear me, don’t be jealous of how cool I look.

Here’s to making 2014 count, one hopeful day at a time.

xoxo,

jess

Oceans

So this is a less funny, cute or fun project that I like post, and more of a spiritual one. Just giving you fair warning, no entertaining Mason anecdotes today. 🙂

This past year has been kind of rough. Not to be a complaining Catherine, but its been hard. Life is hard, parenting is hard, work is hard. Marriage. Is. Hard. I’ve been on quite a journey over the past 18 months, a journey of faith and love and trust and sometimes hate and anger and lots and lots of tears. I’m not anywhere near done, but I do feel like I’m at least making some headway. Which is further along than I ever thought I would get!

I’m working on posting more about the entirety of this experience, but lets be honest, ain’t nobody got time for that. At least not right now. But I’m keeping careful notes, and I’m hopeful that someday soon I’ll be able to share all that I have learned. But for now, I wanted to share a song that has been especially meaningful to me. I’m kind of obsessed with Hillsong United, and just randomly one day as I was listening to my Hillsong Pandora, this song played. Its called “Oceans”. I am telling you its so beautiful I stop what I am doing every single time I hear it and usually cry at least at some point during the song.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

As I hear these lyrics, I am so struck by the simplicity of the truth here. God calls me out upon the waters where feet may fail, God knows I’m probably going to struggle, and he’s saying my faith will stand? Is he sure? I mean really, MANY times over the past year my faith was not standing, I was not standing, I was barely breathing and literally aching for something, anything I could do to make my situation better. And then here comes my favorite part, “I will call upon your name, and keep my eyes above the waves”. All we have to do is call upon Jesus and keep our eyes on him, and our souls will rest. Our souls can rest because nothing can separate us from the love of God. Not heights nor depths, nor anything in all of creation, not my situation, not my lack of faith, not my unbelief, and not my struggle to trust a God who is watching while I suffer things I do not understand. That is rest.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

As if I wasn’t already convinced, these next two verses just really drive it home. His grace abounds in deepest waters. Think about that. We hear all the time “His grace is sufficient for you”, at least I do. But what does that mean? It means this, when you’re in it, I mean really in IT deep, so is his grace, there, abounding, waiting for you in deepest waters. His sovereign hand will be my guide. He’s never failed, and He won’t start now. I have to remind myself of this over and over again. He’s never failed, and He won’t start now. These are truths, not just words. On a good day, these are things my heart clings to when I am hurting and angry and struggling to make sense out of life.

And then my obsession with this song continues with my absolute favorite part.

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

This is my prayer. Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior. This is where I want to be, I want to be praying a deeper trust, a deeper faith, a deeper love than I would ever stumble upon on my own, even if I could. Because of the truths of the grace and mercy and kindness of God we can trust him. He’s never failed, and He won’t start now.

xoxo

jess

Wasted Perfect Moments

I am in a phase of life I’ve just started calling the “work at home” mom. I work, but mostly from home, and it gets confusing trying to classify my status. You know the question, “do you stay home or do you work?”. I am a mom (which is enough work) and I also work outside of the home, but that work is done mostly on my laptop on my couch. I am so grateful for this flexible schedule, because all I really want to do is sit and stare at that beautiful baby I have, but it’s challenging as well. (Insert toddler tantrums here. Mason, not me)

I have to adhere to a pretty strict schedule to accomplish all that I need to in any given day. I know this sounds dumb, like everyone in the world also probably does this to some extent. I don’t think I’m special, I think every person, and especially every mom, does this juggling act every day. I just seem to have a particularly hard time with it. 🙂

True confessions, I like things to be done how I want them and when I want them. Weird, right? And that means for me to balance my “jobs” cleaning the house, doing laundry, grocery shopping, meal prepping and serving, mothering, wife-ing, and as an employee, things kind of have to go the way I have them scheduled or everyone is screwed.

This particular Friday everything kind of went to crap to be perfectly honest. I was exhausted as I had just gotten over a pretty nasty cold and Mason was also recovering from the same bug. That baby hates to sleep alone when he’s sick, so that makes for one tired mama, since he also loves to elbow and kick in his sleep. I finally got him down for a much needed nap and began to tackle my work-job. Not even 20 minutes in I heard shrieks from the crib that alarmed me so I ran in.

Mason is learning new words every day and right now a favorite is “hold you mommy!” It’s definitely a command, and it means “pick me up now heifer!” (Emphasis my own). I picked him up and basically collapsed into the guest bed we have in his room hoping I could calm him for a minute and put him back down. Wishful thinking as the longer we snuggled the angrier he got when I tried to lay him down. You all know what I speak of right? You wait for the deep peaceful breaths, the lack of movement, the signs suggesting a successful transition. You try it, but because your son is a Jedi master like his father before him he immediately wakes up and screams for you. And you are tired and so, so weak so you just pick him back up. This happened a few times until I gave up. I got comfy myself and prepared for a wasted afternoon. As I laid there my mind was racing making lists of all the things I needed to accomplish those precious few hours he sleeps and how was I going to do all of that after he goes down for the night, and would it be possible to even fix the dinner I had planned at this point, etc etc etc.

Then I had an epiphany. As Mason slept so sweetly in my arms I was struck by the quiet. It’s never quiet in my house. Either Mason is yelling or I’m yelling or the tv is on or I’m finding my next craft on Pinterest or blasting music while I work. This moment was silent except for the sounds of his breathing and it hit me hard. Super hard.

My life is insane. Lots of people have it way more insane than I do, but for me, this is as insane as I can handle. These forced quiet stolen moments with a relaxed toddler who usually barely let’s me squeeze his cheeks as he runs by to get to his next toy are what makes my world go ’round.

Yes, this meant a weird thrown together dinner that didn’t even taste very good and toys and laundry thrown around like a tornado. This meant a very late night as I finished the job-work I needed to accomplish and got things ready for the next day. But this also meant I got to hold my baby for a little while longer. And I would trade literally anything for more moments like that.

Remember those days when you first brought them home and all you did was hold them and marvel at how perfect they were? I kind of don’t because I was sleep walking I think, but there are photos that it happened. I’m so grateful for a little glimpse back into that! These precious little nuggets grow SO fast and in this day and age where moms have to be perfect all the time and in the pursuit of this perfection we often lose sight of how perfect, precious and IMPORTANT these moments of quiet are with our little ones. At least I know I do.

xoxo,

jess

Remember that time we had a blog????

Soooo its been a while. That is actually what every entry in my journal says, since the entries are months and sometimes years apart. It should say something that I have one that I originally purchased in 2009. I get super excited about sharing my thoughts and feelings and having a record of what is going on with me, for like a minute. Tops. Then I’m over it and back to my normal insane life. But this blog has been on my mind a lot lately, so here we go again. Maybe this time I’ll post more frequently than oh say, every 7 months. No promises though. 🙂

This whole idea started a LONG time ago, during a period I like to call the-year-i-wish-i-could-forget better known as 2009. Most people who know me or my family know it was basically a nightmare. The details are for another post, or maybe 500, but basically it was the worst year. Ever. Like ever ever ever. (Except I did get married at the end…which was an awesome part, but there was a lot of bad before then).

During this horrible excuse for a year, I was given the opportunity to work with disadvantaged youth at a non profit organization. It was an incredible experience, and definitely one of the most challenging situations I had ever been in. At the beginning I was having a really difficult time adjusting. It wasn’t where I wanted to be, I was grieving the loss of not one, but two family members, and I was struggling with my faith to put it VERY politely. Suddenly, I realized it helped a little bit if I put on Facebook the incredible things I was hearing and witnessing. Now, to be fair, back then in good old 2009, Facebook was not what it was now. Let’s be honest Facebook had barely progressed to the point where you didn’t have to have a college email account at the time. No business pages, no grandmas, no children. Wayyyy back. 🙂

I found as I shared what was literally going on in my crazy job every day, I was able to process at least that portion of things and it helped me laugh my way through it. I mean, someone’s birth certificate actually ready “Milli-yon-aiireee” as the middle name. That’s “millionaire” folks, millionaire. I couldn’t have made those statuses up if I tried. I heard a lot during that time, “You should start a blog!” but truly, ain’t nobody got time for that. I had a wedding to plan and a year to survive, and at the end of the day I think I’m funny, but sometimes other people do not. So there’s that.

I’m skipping a lot…but fast forward with me to 2011, and I had a baby. And let me freaking tell you if I thought working with alleged criminals was tough, this is a whole different ball game. Good thing I still have my textbooks from my Asymetrical Warfare classes, because that is the prep material every mother needs. Don’t get me wrong, its my greatest joy, my only purpose and the absolute best thing that has ever happened to me, but its really hard. So again, I noticed publishing my daily adventures helped me keep some perspective, feel like I still had a sense of community, and laugh a little bit at all the really really hard parts that come along with motherhood.

So we started a “moms” blog. I’m lucky enough to have my BFF’s here close to me and we all had sweet little nuggets who are all just a few months a part. (I recommend using the buddy system when attempting to have children, ps). We all have different strengths and life situations, so we thought it would be awesome to pool our collective resources and put out some fun and *hopefully* helpful stuff for our friends and family. Which was awesome at first, then it kinda died out. Mostly because all of our lives changed kind of drastically right around last April. It was all good change, but even good change is hard sometimes.

After a particularly ridiculous experience while trying to correct my now 20 month old, I of course turned to my old friend, Facebook. I had a conversation with my parents after this post, and they kept saying “you should just blog about all of this!”, and my immediate response was just “No, not now”.

Things are hard now. I’m busy now, I work more than part time for a marketing agency, luckily a lot from home, but I’m also trying to parent a 20 month old who really hates it when mommy has “work time”, oh and a husband, a house, groceries, errands, and all of those damn Pinterest projects I can’t seem to stop obsessing over. But I can’t stop thinking about how every time I do actually sit down and write out what’s going on up in this head of mine here, I feel SO much better. Honestly I know its not rocket science but I seem to have a difficult time “getting it”. So this is me, back in the saddle, if you will.

I’m trying to get better about sharing, about honestly discussing this totally nuts and totally amazing life I have, and hoping that maybe someone out there feels a little bit better about themselves because of it. I mean,

“To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Right? Its not the be all, end all purpose and existence of my life, but if I have to stumble through this mess, someone else should get to laugh about it.

xoxo

jess

Conflicted

Do you ever feel like your life is contradiction?  That you contradict yourself?  That your feelings are conflicted?  Perhaps you have struggled with some of the following:

  • You are a person of faith but you have no faith
  • You are saved from the pits of Hell, yet you stuggle to find joy in every day life
  • You have been extended immeasureable grace, but you don’t walk in that grace
  • God has answered your prayers time and time again, yet you do not have hope

These are all contradictions!  The thoughts of each sentence are in conflict with themselves and yet the sentences are true.  Sort of like oxy morons.

I have found myself in conflict with myself a lot in the past two years and it is so very strange to me.  I know certain things to be true, yet I don’t know.  Like Randy on American Idol, I’m not feelin’ it man.

And so I decided to do a Google search for struggling with faith.  Faith theologically, faith for the every day, faith in every sense of the word.

And the results brought me to the most wonderful, little-known passage in Mark 9, starting with verse 14:

 And when they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and scribes arguing with them. And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him. And he asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” And someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid. So I asked your disciples to cast it out, and they were not able.” And he answered them, “O faithless generation, how long am I to be with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him to me.” And they brought the boy to him. And when the spirit saw him, immediately it convulsed the boy, and he fell on the ground and rolled about, foaming at the mouth. And Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. And it has often cast him into fire and into water, to destroy him. But if you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” And Jesus said to him, “‘If you can’! All things are possible for one who believes.” Immediately the father of the child cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” And when Jesus saw that a crowd came running together, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “You mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” And after crying out and convulsing him terribly, it came out, and the boy was like a corpse, so that most of them said, “He is dead.” But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him up, and he arose. And when he had entered the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why could we not cast it out?” And he said to them, “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer.”  (Mark 9:14-29 ESV)

How amazing is this.  Jesus healed the son of a man who admitted he struggled with unbelief!  This man told the Son of God to his face that he believed in Him, and yet, he still had unbelief.  A total contradiction, and yet totally true.  And how did Jesus respond?  HE HEALED THE BOY.  Note that the boy was brought first to the disciples and they failed to heal him.  Jesus said at the end of the passage that this could only be done by prayer.  How often do we run to others and not Jesus Himself with problems that only Jesus can address?

What a gracious and mericful Savior we have!  His mercies are new every morning and great is His faithfulness, when I so lack in faith.

I believe, help my unbelief!