For those of you who are parents out there, you know first-hand that it’s not very easy. Kids can get the best of us when we’re not looking and throw a wrench in even the most pleasant of occasions. Those of you who are parents of toddlers are keenly aware of this fact. But I’m no first-time mom now. I’m a mother of two. It’s a whole new ball game these days. My attention is divided. My time is cut in half. My patience is tested at triple the pace. It’s tough business, this mothering stuff. And anyone who says being a stay-at-home mom is a cop-out has never been a stay-at-home mom. It’s hard work!

But you already know that. So as I have been reflecting on the last four months (yes, my baby girl turns four months old next week), I have realized something: effective parenting involves discipline. And discipline applies mostly to us, the parents.

When we hear the word discipline, we usually associate it with punishment. But while discipline can mean punishment, it really means “training to act in accordance with rules” (according to that ancient book called the dictionary). That is particularly valuable when it comes to being a parent. If we can learn to discipline ourselves, disciplining our children will come second-nature.

Here’s what I mean. My four month old is sleeping through the night. She has been since she was four weeks old. And now not only does she sleep through the night, but she doesn’t have to be put to bed asleep or even drowsy. Every night around 7:30 we head to her room, change into her pajamas and sit down in the rocking chair for a book, a song, and her prayers. She sits in my lap while I rock her during the routine. It’s such a sweet, peaceful time that we share and I have taught Virgil (my 2 1/2 year old) to be quiet and calm during this time. He can come into her room, but he knows not to talk or make noise. Once our routine is complete, I put her in her crib, wide awake. I kiss her goodnight and leave the room. She’s always smiling and playing with her blanket when I leave. And that’s it. She goes to sleep on her own without a peep and doesn’t wake up until around 6am for her first morning feeding.

Now I’m not telling you all of this to brag. I’m telling you this to share with you how we achieved such a seemingly impossible feat with a baby who is not even four months old yet. The answer? Discipline.

No, I’m not talking about spanking or any sort of punishment for that matter (I do spank my older child, but that’s for another post at another time). I’m talking about discipline on our parts. Routine is key for babies to feel comfortable in their environment. And the easiest way to get them to start sleeping well is to develop a routine and stick to it. All day. Every day.

Our day looks something like this. Around 6am Addie wakes up. I get out of bed and bring her to our bed where I nurse her. We both fall back to sleep for about an hour and a half. We both get up around 7:30, which is usually when Virgil wakes up. We all head to the living room where I make coffee, we turn on Disney Junior, and we have peaceful family time. Addie usually plays on her gym during this time. At 8:30 I give Addie her breakfast (baby oatmeal) while Lance gives Virgil his breakfast. Then we all go get dressed and ready for the day. At 10am, Addie takes her first nap, alone in her room. She usually wakes up around 11 and we head out to run any errands we might need to run that day. Lunch time is at noon, and Virgil and I always sit at the table to eat together. Addie usually plays on her gym or in a seat during lunch. At 1pm it’s nap time for both Addie and Virgil. I always put Virgil down first and then Addie. Addie sleeps for about an hour and a half for this nap. Virgil sleeps for at least three hours. Addie plays some more when she wakes up and then once Virgil wakes up, we all play together – usually something active. Around 5pm Addie takes another small cat nap before she eats cereal for dinner at 6. Virgil and I eat dinner afterward and then it’s more play/family time until the bedtime routine starts at 7:30. Addie goes down first, followed by Virgil. Everyone is in bed and asleep by 8:30 and then the adults have the rest of the evening to ourselves.

Granted, not every day fits perfectly into that routine. Today, for example, I had a haircut at 1pm. Addie came with me while Virgil stayed home with daddy. Addie didn’t exactly sleep in the salon as I had hoped (there’s just too much to look at!), so instead she napped in the car on the way home and then again later in the afternoon. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be as consistent as possible. Children thrive in consistency. That’s what I’ve learned.

But what I’ve taken to heart more than anything else is that disciplining our children has a whole lot more to do with disciplining ourselves than it does them. If they know what to expect from me, they can operate pretty healthily within those boundaries. But unless I have the discipline to set up those boundaries and stick with them, I can never expect them to do so. That’s why I always think before I tell my kids not to do something. Is this something I don’t ever want them doing? Something I don’t want them to do right now? Or just something that’s annoying me and I need to get over it? I always think before I punish them. Is this something for which they have truly been wrong? Something for which they made a mistake? Or something that just plain annoys me? Unless it fits in the first category, I don’t punish them. And the same applies to sleep. Do I want them to sleep through the night? What does that mean for me? It means I sacrifice doing whatever I want whenever I want to in order to help usher them into a healthy sleeping routine. It means I don’t go grab them every time they make a little whimper, but instead I allow them to learn that they can soothe themselves when it’s not a crisis situation that really requires mommy or daddy. It also teaches me to distinguish between cries of actual need versus cries of attention.

Don’t misunderstand. I don’t just let my kids sob for hours on end to try to teach them a lesson. But I certainly don’t run to their beck and call every time they make a noise. I have disciplined myself to know that the best thing I can do for my children is teach them to do for themselves.

Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it. Proverbs 22:6

As a follow up to yesterday’s post, I thought I’d make a list of some of the silly things I’ve done as a tired mom. I have to admit I’ve been guilty of some pretty ridiculous mom laziness in my time, moreso lately it seems. Some of them, when I think about them, make me literally laugh out loud. So I thought I’d compile a list of my lazies in hopes that it will serve to remind me someday of the craziness of this era of motherhood, and remind some of you that you’re not as bad as you think. I have been guilty of every single one of these at one point or another during motherhood. Judge not, lest ye be judged, got it?

You know you’re a tired mom when…

  • you seriously ask yourself if your kids need to brush their teeth EVERY night
  • your husband has been doing his own laundry for the past 6 months
  • the thought of someone else making your dinner literally makes you cry with joy
  • you realize your son has been watching TV all day
  • your kids are in bed and you finally get some “me” time, so you sit down in your recliner, turn on your DVR to catch up on your shows, sigh with content and zzzzzzzzzz
  • you and your husband’s idea of a late night is 10pm
  • your sons’s diaper is so full it’s dragging his pants down to his knees
  • you use a baby wipe to clean off the same pair of pants your son has been wearing for the past five days because it’s easier than doing laundry
  • the dishes in your sink are piled into a beautiful sculpture at least 6″ above the counter because you’d rather test your balance skills than unload the dishwasher
  • your idea of cleaning the bathroom these days involves Clorox clean up wipes, and that’s about it
  • your infant daughter has been wearing the same onesie for over 24 hours
  • you’ve finally given into the reality that it’s easier to keep your son’s shoes in the car because at least that way you’re not on a 30-minute hunt for them every time you leave the house
  • you wait until your refrigerator is completely empty before you even contemplate a trip to the store because gone, long gone, are the days of hopping in the car and running in the store to grab a gallon of milk
  • when your children sleep past 7am, you feel like the Queen of England
  • you walk out of the house with two different shoes on
  • you do things you would have never done with your first child like: letting your infant nap in the car seat, letting your baby sleep in the clothes she’s worn all day, letting someone hold your kid for longer than about two minutes (Oh, it’s been an hour? Sorry, I’ll take my kid back now, if you want me to…)
  • you swore you would never be one of “those” moms that wears yoga pants all day, but you’ll be darned if your fat girl pants aren’t the greatest thing in your life right now
  • you realize you sent your son to the church nursery with no diapers and one wipe in his diaper bag
  • the fact that your husband empties the diaper pail for you turns you on
  • you have bathed your child with wipes on more than one occasion

There’s my list so far. If you’re judging me right now, all I can say is, judge away. My kids are happy and we have a lot of fun. I’ll worry about competing with Martha Stewart another day.

Do you have any “you know you’re a tired mom whens” to add? Add yours in the comment section!

I’ve been quite tired lately. Tired, cranky, incessantly hungry, so much so that for a few terrifying days I thought I might be pregnant again. Don’t get me wrong, we want more kids. Just not yet. Dear sweet Jesus, not yet.

I love being a mom. It is far and above the best thing I’ve ever done. I’m no super mom. But I love my babies and they bring me more joy than I ever could have imagined. But they wear me out. I’m beginning to come to grips with this as my daughter turns three months old.

We’re through that up all night, cry when you don’t know why, needy all the time phase of newborn-dom. We’ve moved graciously into the giggles, squeals and squeaks phase. I love this phase. But it’s still exhausting for sure. Especially this time around, with a two-year-old in tow. I was just reading back on my post about quesadillas and the terrible twos and realized – it’s been 5 months since that post and my son is no nearer to leaving the terrible twos. In fact, he may be farther into them. Everything is no. Baths, brushing teeth, pooping on the potty, dinner. But even fun things – ice cream, dessert, cookies, cakes, candies. No, no, no. It’s baffling. But, thankfully I have learned to ignore the nos and proceed as planned. And for most accounts, this method has served me well. But he’s still two. And it’s still exhausting.

So when my husband got home from work the other day to find his wife weepy, tired, and a little on edge, I felt guilty. Which, of course, made me more weepy, tired and on edge. Which in turn made me feel more guilty. I realized I’ve been expecting myself to do it all, perfectly, without complaint. I realized I’ve fallen victim to that quiet little beast called “comparison” that sneaks around homes, terrorizing housewives everywhere. I see other moms (especially the super moms in my life group at church) and think they have no problems. They’re all working out, rearing perfect children, cooking, cleaning, probably offering their husbands sex at least twice a week. Right? Then there’s me. Fat, tired, my kids are needy, I never clean anymore, the nights I do get to cook I find myself looking for the laziest thing I can make, and all this on top of trying to maintain a successful business, raise children that don’t throw themselves down on the floor at Target over Hot Wheels, and oh yeah, there’s my spiritual life too. Sufficient to say, I’m worn out.

But I realized something today – that’s normal. In fact, (no offense, girls) none of my friends have it “all together.” I bet if I sat down with them right now they would tell me that they don’t like their weight, or they haven’t cooked in three weeks, or their kids ate gummy bears for breakfast, or their toilets look like a rest stop. And that’s ok. We can’t have it all perfect all the time. It’s unnatural. And frankly, the chaos is what keeps us on our toes.

The moral of the story is – don’t let Satan lure you into the trap of comparison. He loves making us think we’re the only ones who fail. He loves making us feel like everyone else can handle it, just not us. But he’s wrong. So wrong. And the sooner we moms can get that in our heads, the sooner we can face the day with confidence knowing we are who Christ says we are. We are wives, moms, tutors, housemaids, chefs, EMTs, professional organizers, accountants, counselors, friends, neighbors, daughters, sisters, friends. And most of all, we are HIS. Can I get an amen?

*By the way, the above image is of my children and awesome husband at Easter. We made a solid attempt at taking a picture of everyone smiling at the same time. When it was apparent that it wasn’t going to happen, my husband decided to cry with them instead. If you cant beat ’em, join ’em.

It was a Monday like any other Monday during the end of my pregnancy. I woke up that morning one day past my due date and about ten days past my wit’s end. Yes, I was mentally and emotionally done being pregnant. But I was apparently not physically done. Now before you go judging me for my ungrateful attitude, please let me explain that I am a relatively complaint-free pregnant woman, up until the last few weeks. Being that I’m only five feet tall, I’m convinced that my tiny frame just makes carrying around a seven pound baby and twenty pounds of other extra stuff much harder than it is for regular sized women. Not that it’s easy for anyone, but you get my drift.

So when I woke up that morning, I was tired, emotionally wrecked, sore, uncomfortable, and ready beyond ready to go into labor. But for the past three days I had had no regular contractions to speak of. It was frustrating to say the least. I certainly suffered from that “I’m going to be the woman that sets a world record for longest pregnancy on record” feeling that I think every pregnant woman must experience by the end of their term. And while there was no end in sight, I kept having small signs that labor was imminent. Being the stubborn perfectionist that I am, I refused to go to the hospital before my time, so I kept my mouth shut about things that were happening to me. I guess I just had in my mind that I would have one of those “oh my gosh this is it! My water just broke and my contractions are five minutes apart! Let’s head to the hospital!” moments.

Leave it to me to have the most unorthodox labor I could dream up.

Now for those of you who are weak-stomached or otherwise sensitive to stories of childbirth, I will forewarn you that the next few paragraphs are chock-full of descriptions you might not want to read. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

After crying on and off for about a week out of frustration, I woke up on Monday morning, January 14th, determined to start over. I got in the shower (you know, that place where you solve the mysteries of the universe, sing like a pro, and have your most profound spiritual moments) and just started praying. I told God I was sorry for my poor attitude and impatience. I told Him I knew that I was blessed to have had such a healthy, event-free pregnancy and that I wanted to let go of my frustrations and just trust His timing for this baby to arrive. I told Him that all I needed was the strength to endure whatever timeline He had determined. All I asked of Him was that I could deliver the baby on my own and not be induced. I didn’t want to be induced at all. And above all, I asked that the Holy Spirit would guide me to know when to go the hospital.

I got out of the shower, got dressed, went about my usual morning routine and realized about mid-morning that my panties were damp. Now as glamorous as this is going to sound, by the time you reach nine months, it’s highly likely that damp panties are the result of the baby stepping on your bladder and causing you to pee on yourself a little bit. Nice, I know. But it’s the reality of being nine months pregnant. I did not want to go the hospital only to have them tell me, “Honey, go home, you’re just peeing on yourself.” But I also didn’t want to risk the baby getting an infection on the off chance that I had sprung a small leak of amniotic fluid. So I was torn on what to do. But as the morning wore on, I started thinking about how my panties had been getting progressively damper over the past 36 hours. Then I remembered that two nights before, I had woken up for one of my 500 trips to the bathroom only to feel a popping sensation on the top side of my very large belly. I wondered then if my water had broken, but when I didn’t have any sort of dramatic gush or even so much as a trickle of water, I blew it off. Now, a day and a half later, I realized I had been having a tiny trickle of water that was getting steadier ever since I felt that pop. And I couldn’t shake the feeling that I needed to go the hospital.

My parents were staying with us to help us out when the baby came, so I pulled my mother aside and told her what was going on. I asked her if she thought I was crazy and if I should go to the hospital. Her response was to be better safe than sorry. I agreed, reluctantly, and went to tell my husband he needed to take me to the hospital.

Before this, I had had a few incidents over the past few weeks that made me wonder if I should go to the hospital. But with each of those, the feeling that I didn’t need to go far outweighed the feeling that I should, so I never did. But this time was different. I somehow knew we needed to go, all the while thinking it was still probably too good to be true and that the nurses would check me out and tell me I was just peeing on myself. Nonetheless, we loaded up the car and went. No hospital bag. Nothing but my purse and husband.

When my son was born a couple of years ago, we scheduled an induction because he was due on Thanksgiving day and I wanted to make sure I would have my doctor there for delivery. But the night we went to the hospital, in the elevator on the way up to the labor and delivery ward, something changed. I couldn’t tell you what, other than I knew something was happening in my body. It turned out that I went into labor on my own that night and never had to be induced.

So when we were getting out of the car to go to the hospital this time, I had that same feeling. I can’t explain what that feeling is. It wasn’t panic, it wasn’t pain, it was just a sudden, distinct change in how I was feeling, both physically and emotionally. I told my husband about it and we laughed in the elevator ride up to the third floor at the idea that, once again, I would go into labor while walking up to the hospital.

When we got to the maternity ward, we had to ring a bell to get in. The nurse answered and I suddenly felt stupid, not knowing what to say. I stumbled through a sentence that ended up sounding something like, “My name is Morgan Farris. I am registered here. And I think my water has broken.” Stupid, right? If my water had broken, wouldn’t I be having hard contractions? I was second-guessing myself big time at this moment. They took us in and put us in a room, gave me a gown and said, “When you’re undressed, we will take a sample from you, send it to the lab and have it tested to see if it’s amniotic fluid.” I remember thinking, “Do I have to get in the gown? Can’t you just test it and tell me it’s pee without going through all this rigmarole?” I reluctantly went into the bathroom to get into my robe and realized my panties were even colder and wetter. Maybe I wasn’t crazy after all.

They performed the test and before they could even take the sample out of the room, the nurse said, “Um, it’s positive. You’re definitely leaking amniotic fluid. Looks like you’re having a baby today!”

Mind officially blown. I guess the Holy Spirit was guiding me after all.

So I called my mom and told her the news. We both laughed at my uneventful, positively preposterous way I went to the hospital, and she told me she would be up there shortly with my hospital bag.

The rest of the day went about as unexpectedly as possible as well. First of all, even on Pitocin my contractions never got regular. They got really hard, yes, but never regular. Somewhere around 5 or 6 that evening, my contractions were so hard and lasting so long (four and five minutes sometimes), I was in a lot of stress. I finally got an epidural and it did little to relax me. Contractions are only supposed to last about 45 seconds. So four and five minute jaunts of super hard contractions were wearing on me. And apparently they were wearing on my baby too because all of a sudden, every nurse on the floor came rushing in our room. The baby’s heart rate had dropped dramatically. They stuck a needle in my arm to stop the contractions immediately. I laid there feeling helpless and scared. I heard the words “emergency C-section” being tossed around and I started praying. I prayed so hard. I just kept asking the Holy Spirit to intervene and protect my baby. I prayed and prayed and prayed while the nurses hustled and bustled over me.

And then out of nowhere, a peace I cannot explain came over me – the kind you hear about in those amazing stories of the miracles of God. I was having one of those moments. My whole body relaxed and I just knew, I mean deep in my gut, no doubt about it KNEW that everything was ok. I kept hearing the Gateway Worship song “I’ll Be Found in You” over and over in my head. It was like a wave of calm sweeping over me. In that moment, I heard her heartbeat come back strong and steady on the monitor. The nurses all breathed a sigh of relief. They told us that if her heart rate stayed strong, we wouldn’t have to have a C-section after all. I knew we weren’t having a C-section that day. I knew her heart rate was staying up. And it did. It never went down again. In fact, for the rest of the evening, I was 100% pain and stress free. Nothing but laughs and jokes. It was borderline bizarre how relaxed the room was and how peaceful I felt. But I knew why it was happening.

My husband told me later on that in that moment of panic, he was praying too – praying that my labor and delivery would be miraculously pain free. And it was. Absolutely. Laughably so. We mused on how the day was such a testament to the power of praying in the Spirit. It was such a tangible, real moment for us. One that I’m sure we will never forget.

I’m happy to tell you that the rest of our hospital stay was as relaxed and uneventful as my labor. Our precious Audrey Adeline was born after pushing about eight times at 9:41 pm that night. It was perfect. Even my makeup stayed in place like one of those soap opera births (bonus!). I’m telling you, it was a supernatural experience in every way imaginable. And to top it off, our sweet baby girl is 100% healthy. Not even minor problems. I was in little to no pain after labor, and we went home right on schedule. Aside from my toddler son pressing the code blue button in our room the next day (which apparently means all hell hath broken loose and all nurses are to rush to the scene within 5 seconds), all was at peace with our little family.

I feel so blessed to tell you this story because if nothing else, it proves unequivocally that 1. Prayer works. 2. The Holy Spirit is real and powerful. And 3. Miracles still happen everyday. I believe it more now than ever.

~

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NLT)

There are no pearls to offer on this particular blog entry. I have no divine wisdom to impart on you after countless hours of observation and months of postulation. What I have for this entry is the right hand of motherly camaraderie, extended from me, the first time mom, to you, my faithful reader-mom, to remind you that you’re not crazy, you’re not alone, and you aren’t failing as a mother.

A friend of mine said wisely, “In comparing ourselves to others, it’s important to remember that we are comparing our insides to their outsides.” In other words, when other mothers look like they have it all together, that their Martha Stewart life would make even Martha Stewart jealous, the reality is, they don’t. And that’s ok. Because neither do we.

So what does this have to do with quesadillas? Well my son turned two last week. But he started the “terrible twos” a few months ago. You know the ones – fits of rage that come out of nowhere, sudden defiance to seemingly everything I might have to offer, and stubborn refusal to act normal. The good news about the terrible twos is that it doesn’t happen all the time. He’s normal sometimes. The bad news is, I never know when Crazy Pants McGee is gonna show up.

As of late, he seems to rear his ugly head at the dinner table. My son who usually will try anything and likes most things will suddenly refuse to eat even the most favorite of food items I might serve him. Waffles can cause tantrums. Waffles. It’s bizarre, really.

So when I googled “My two year old won’t eat” tonight, I was pleasantly surprised to find that basically no one’s two year old eats on a regular basis. They all do pretty much the same thing – refuse to eat anything that’s even remotely healthy for days on end and then all-of-a-sudden have one of those “I’ll eat anything you give me because you are the best cook and I am the most grateful child” days out of nowhere. The kind of day that make you feel like mother of the year and consequently helps you forget about all those other days where you felt like your most decadent casserole must have just been garbage.

So tonight when I made cheesy quesadillas and heaped a pile of avocados on his plate, I knew he would be pleased. I just knew it. He LOVES quesadillas and he is basically obsessed with all things avocado. He would eat his weight in them, I am convinced. And when I went the extra mile and cut his quesadilla into a star shape and served it on a rocket ship plate, I knew dinner was in the bag.

But I was wrong. So wrong.

And his refusal to eat my creative display of mothering genius served to remind me that I can’t get all caught up in what I would like to do – freak out that my son is starving himself. But I instead must remember that he is not sick, not crazy, and not a masochist. He will not starve himself. He will eat when he’s good and ready, thank you very much. And I’m just going to have to be okay with that.

So I put some Ovaltine in his milk (hey, it’s got vitamins!) and called it a night.

The end.

*The picture above this entry is of my son with avocado all over his face – to serve as a reminder to me that he will indeed eat decent food sometimes. Sometimes.

Fall. It’s the best. When you live in Texas like I do, it’s the best for a lot of reasons. Namely, you’ve just come out of what was quite possibly the hottest summer you’ve ever experienced (even though you say that every year) and you’re so desperate for relief that when it finally comes, all you can say is, “Thank you, Jesus!” But aside from the falling temps, there is something so magical about this time of year to me. Maybe it’s that the days are getting shorter and the nights are crisp. Maybe it’s the pumpkins and general feeling of harvest comradery. Maybe it’s the gorgeous colors appearing on all the trees. Whatever it is, I can’t get enough of autumn. And every year it comes it brings a new sense of magic to my heart.

Now that we’re finally in a house, I am stoked to do Martha Stewarty things like decorate my front porch. I’m still cheap though, so I always look for ways to make as much as I can and/or repurpose what I already have. This year, the decorations have manifested themselves in a couple of ways: the white heirloom pumpkin we carved for our wedding (fake, of course) made its way onto my porch as a classy jack-o-lantern of sorts. I decoupaged, painted, and decorated a giant “F” (you decide if it’s for Farris or Fall. I’m cool either way.) for my front door. And the garland around the door and in the pumpkin pot are dollar store/Hobby Lobby clearance specials. All in all, I decorated the porch for less than $20. Oh, and there’s a stack of 5 pumpkins on the corner of the porch which didn’t make it into the shot. So that added another $20, but those will become jack-o-lanterns in another week or so as we approach Halloween. (In Texas, you can’t carve too early or you will have pumpkin mush where your masterpiece once stood. It’s just too warm for those poor pumpkins to survive more than a day or so carved.)

So there you have it. My first porch decorating. As always, I will add to this collection over the years. I’m sure within five years or so it will look like a Fall Carnival dumped their leftovers on my front lawn. But that’s how I roll, people. Go big or go home.

You can head over to the Projects section to see a close up of the “F” and a not-so-cropped image of the whole porch.

Happy Autumn!