5 Things to do in Galveston

5 Things to do in Galveston

May is a hectic month. Well, can we really coast during ANY month as moms and wives and sisters and friends? I mean, really. There is always so much going on, but this month has felt especially draining. It’s the end of Cade’s first baseball season, the last month of his kindergarten career, and with school wrapping up, Mother’s Day being around the corner, and a few projects that I’m finishing, it’s been a bit of a logistical nightmare. Plus, I am questioning every. single. thing. on our calendar and I’m pretty sure it’s driving my insanely patient and intelligent husband mad, because we basically keep rehashing the exact same conversations.

Have you read much about the four tendencies and personality types by Gretchin Rubin? She’s the best-selling author of The Happiness Project, and Better Than Before. After listening to her interview on a podcast, I couldn’t wait to read up on her studies. It’s so fascinating, take the quiz, if you’re into things like that ( I TOTALLY AM!), and then let’s talk about what you found out about yourself. Here’s the gist, people tend to fall into one of four categories: Upholder, Obliger, Questioner, or Rebel. In short, an upholder accepts rules from an external or internal source. Obligers will accept outside rules (think coaches, teachers, boss) but rarely follows through on self-imposed rules. A Rebel doesn’t accept rules from any source, and a Questioner questions the rules and only accepts them (from either source) once it makes sense. For a Questioner, it’s a complete judgement call.

Here’s another example from Gretchin Rubin: “An upholder can train with a trainer or exercise on her own; a questioner can do either if he thinks it makes sense; a rebel will do neither, because the fact that she has an appointment or an item on her to-do list makes her want to disobey; an obliger can meet a trainer, but can’t get to the gym on his own.”

Y’all, this is my LIFE. I am questioning everything and can’t turn my MIND OFF. It is working on overdrive. So, clearly I am a questioner. Last week, in the midst of this cycle of calendar-muscial-chairs we were offered our friends’ beach house for the weekend. It was like a huge PAUSE button had been pressed, peace overwhelmed me, and finally it was easy to make decisions again. We said an eager and thankful, “YES!” and then proceeded to cancel our other remaining plans. Below I have a few suggestions on the FIVE BEST THINGS TO DO IN GALVESTON AT THE BEACH. Please note, these are tongue in cheek, somewhat! 😉

  1. Go to the BEACH – Sit on the sand, walk in the water, listen to the waves, take in the sights and the sounds.
  2. Build a SANDCASTLE – Dig in the sand, move it around, and pile it up. Play is stress relieving and so soothing.
  3. Get some VITAMIN D – Lather on the sunscreen, and the protective sleeves and then soak up some sun, but do reapply your sunscreen.
  4. Collect SEASHELLS – Be on the hunt for treasures, and fill up a bucket with your loot.
  5. SPLASH in the waves – Run and jump and play and then sit and relax and read.

Getting out of the house dressed, with shoes for each child, isn’t always a big deal, but it’s the sometimes that keeps you guessing. So, in preparing to GO TO THE BEACH, I was thinking, yes, SIMPLICITY, we will read and sit and watch our children frollick and laugh with glee. It was a bit more stressful getting out the door and loaded, but once we were there it was great. A much-needed change of pace for our family. Nana, thank you for the countless ways you lead and serve. We love being with you.

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Following Grief

Following Grief

It’s been a difficult year. In the weeks after Big John’s death there’s been a bit of a haze. I wouldn’t say we’re moving on or moving forward even, but rather allowing time to progress despite us. Writing is cathartic. Interestingly enough, I’ve almost run away from my journal, not wanting to pick up my pen and pour out my heart in the fear that once opened the valve wouldn’t budge and that somehow I’d be stuck in a torrent of grief and sadness and unable to function “properly” for my kids and family. Another danger is that my voice becomes the platform for our family, which is quite large and beautiful and boisterous. Although we are a close-knit group, I am only sharing my experiences and feelings and perspectives as I navigate these waters, however ungracefully and incoherently.

So, I am going to share my journey with grief and life and family because I’m usually more free once these thoughts are out of my head and down on paper somewhere. I’m learning that I can no longer passively sit by and expect Grief to handle itself while I go about the business of running my home; I’m needing to be more proactive in searching this out and asking some questions. It is bound to be difficult and exhausting and labor-intensive, but I’m sure it will also be worthwhile. Do you know of any resources? Anything for children??

Here are brief snippets from my journal –

Everything still hurts. My eyes sting and nose burns and my chest is heavy, my throat tightens up and the warm tears just keep sliding down my cheeks at all times and random times.

“The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with P E A C E. ” Psalm 29:11

It’s been a tough week. Emotionally draining and physically exhausting. I want to cower under covers and not return for days or months. But, the children get hungry and bored and have activities. I’m feeling overwhelmed… just needing some space and QUIET.

Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up soul.” Psalm 143:8

“But I trust in Your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for He has been good to me.” Psalm 13:5-6

Most of the pages in this 2017 journal are largely blank with very fast and loose script haphazardly scrawled across the page with no regard for the lines. I’d like a handwriting analysis to uncover something about my personality and moods based on the look of the pages and not the content, I have a feeling it’d be related…

The outpouring of love and support and generosity from our community is astounding. We are a blessed people. The letters and meals and acts of kindness from friends and neighbors in Navasota has truly been humbling. Thank you for sharing your memories and laughs and pieces of wisdom that he shared with you. It means so much.

With love and peace,
Shelbie

Cancer is an Ugly Word.

Cancer is an Ugly Word.

Shell-shocked. Ten days have passed. Three hospitals. Two ambulances. Several Emergency Rooms and we’re all worn completely out. Rollercoaster of emotions. Welcome to 2017!

On Saturday, January 7th my mom rushed Big John, my stepdad, to the ER thinking he was exhibiting signs of a stroke. After many scares and tests and reports and transfers, and even longer periods of waiting, we learned that it wasn’t a stroke but rather tumors on his brain. His cancer has returned. On Tuesday, January 17th, he underwent surgery to remove two brain tumors, and eight hours later his neurosurgeon called it a success! Praise God!

There are already many other scheduled appointments for radiation therapy and meetings with other teams to discuss further treatments to address the other tumors in the other locations, but that’s to come later. For now, this one huge hurdle has been crossed and we are rejoicing.

One of the many silver-linings in the midst of all this is more time with family and my parents. This is not what we were planning, thinking, or dreaming for our year, but with the chaos, with the stress and the tension comes closeness and more togetherness. We are most notably at our finest and our lousiest selves as we try to process through grief, uncertainty, and largely fear.

We carry one another’s burdens, we listen, and we research, all the while trying to bring calmness, certainty – a peace which surpasses all understanding. Over the course of these days, we’ve gathered and huddled and met and gathered some more. At just about any moment each of us is in physical contact with someone else – we’re constantly leaning on each other, lounging across legs, rubbing backs, and massaging heads, touching arms, sharing chairs, or giving hugs. We all need a little extra security and touch.

My coping mechanism is control. I have a tendency to micro-manage anything and anyone. When so much is unknown, I grab ahold of the tangible and fight the urge to line up everything in my life – for me, that feels safe and grounded. Having a clean house, organized pantry and garage, spotless car, and a minimalistic closet housing my (make-believe) capsule wardrobe. It’s also not realistic for the other parts of my personality and it’s wildly incongruent with our current life-stage and family values – hello, minivan! With so much shifting, I am grasping at straws to maintain order and balance and peace. This looks like me rummaging through my refrigerator at 10:30pm and cleaning it out, discarding everything out of date, and wiping down each shelf. It also looks like me dumping my sock drawer with seven minutes to go before we need to leave for school, so I can organize all the pairs and discard any that I hardly wear. These are important tasks and MUST be accomplished RIGHT NOW!!”

But, here’s the thing: we are not without HOPE. We have the unshakeable peace of God, and we have joy in spite of all these turbulent waters.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your
hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they
trust in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD Himself, is the
Rock eternal.” Isaiah 26:3-4

We are placing our hope in the One who is above the heavens and the earth and we are trusting in His goodness, His loving-kindness, and His Presence. He is with me and will never forsake me. I am so thankful for this tender and all-knowing Father God, who turns His ear toward me. God is love. And, He is loving.

Below are images from an amazing, impromptu, seriously last-minute, photoshoot from the most sincere and gracious Marsais Urban. I am so thankful for her friendship and laugh and sincerity and generosity and big hair. Because it is an entire thing… I digress… If you’re recently engaged, or like to travel or are in need of some photos, check out her work. It’s incredible!

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All photos by: Marsais

Wrapping up 2016

Wrapping up 2016

One of my favorite things we did as a family this past year was hire an amazing portrait photographer and videographer to capture us in our home for a “Family Session.” This has a more documentary-feel, and I couldn’t wait to have Lindsey in our home to begin! We are beyond thrilled with the outcome and have probably watched this close to 20 times!! It’s just so sweet! Lindsey filmed us back in August and it’s incredible to see the changes in each of our children in just a few short months. The video portrait is definitely one tradition I’d like to keep every year or so.

Kolby Family from Lenae Photography on Vimeo.

Isn’t it beautiful?! Lindsey is a miracle worker! While most of the session was stress-free (the parts that weren’t were of my own making!!) and pretty loosey-goosey, kids are kids, and we adults aren’t so great at acting normal with a camera nearby! Below are our 2016 family portraits. Lindsey, thank you for your sweet spirit and exuberant personality! You are a joy to be around and I’m so thankful we were able to make this happen! Beautiful work, friend!

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We spent the majority of our holiday break organizing and purging and donating all sorts of stuff. It felt great. Clothes the kids have outgrown, boxes we hadn’t looked through since we moved (it’s been TWO years!!!), YIKES!!! Getting our home in order and reflecting on the past year and then planning out the upcoming year brings excitement and anticipation. I can’t wait to see where the new year will take us. What have you been up to?

All photos and video: Lenae Photography

Cade’s Birth Story

Thursday, October 21, 2010

I was convinced that our baby boy would be born three days early on a Saturday. I’m not sure why I had this irrational thought, but I started planning like he would be born a little early and over the weekend, conveniently. Quick background: I was working full time as a Communication Assistant doing graphic design and website updates and media promotions. I love doing this! The only downside is that you are primarily sitting for prolonged periods of time in front of a computer. Not so easy around 8 or 9ish months! I had planned to work right up until “the end.” Jeb had just started his first semester of grad school in Structural Engineering. This meant he was commuting an hour and a half, one way, three days a week. Needless to say, we had backups (aka: awesome friends) programmed into speed dial just in case he couldn’t make it in time.

Jump to Wednesday, October 20th. At 2:30am I wake up and head to the bathroom (the usual routine). As I’m walking I notice a little cramping or just a little discomfort. I think, “How strange,” and head back to bed. I’m super uncomfortable, not able to sleep and desperately wanting to just sleep. I ponder waking Jeb up, but then think how selfish that would be! Why bother someone who is sleeping so well? So, I proceed to our bedroom floor where I lay down and begin stretching. These “cramps” or contractions were starting to build, not painful or long extended, but just enough to really get my attention. I still wasn’t convinced that my labor had begun. For whatever reason, I really didn’t want to have a false alarm and feel foolish or naive. Side note: First time moms – it doesn’t matter, call your doctor or go to a hospital if you think you are in labor!

After pacing inside, outside, around the kitchen, down the hall and back to my bedroom it was only about 6 in the morning. By this time, I was pretty sure that I was having contractions and I convinced Jeb not to go into work. I was wanting a natural birth, without any medication or surgery and was believing for a pain-free childbirth. I read an amazing book about women, being filled with faith, successfully delivering their babies with minimal effort and no pain. This type of thinking really resonated with me and throughout my morning I was praying and asking God if it was time. There was such a peace, resolve, and stillness in my spirit and mind. Inwardly, I was continuously giving thanks for a healthy pregnancy, for the blessing of carrying my baby and the joy of finally seeing him soon!

Jeb and I took a child-birthing class at our hospital which was so informative and helpful. Because of this, I understood the stages of labor and realized that I had time to safely labor at home. This was such the right decision for me. I was constantly moving, sitting, rocking and walking. Music was continually playing and I remember zoning everything else out and just listening to worshipful music. Eating the cherry Jello also helped!!!

Our moms were gathered at our home and the mood was watchful and attentive. I drank lots of water, and some juice. Ate a bit of jello and walked and walked and walked. We put a call or text in to Debs, our amazing friend and doula – a birthing coach. She had a stomach bug, but coached Jeb on the phone! My favorite spot was in Cade’s nursery. I remember holding on to his crib and pacing his room, allowing the enormity of the situation to sink in. Even though I love planners and agendas, I am usually a “wing-it” type of girl. I looked above the crib and noticed we hadn’t hung the three frames. It was the final touch to complete the nursery. My mom and Jeb jump in gear to get it done. At one point, Jeb kneels in front of me, helping me breathe through a prolonged and slightly uncomfortable contraction. He accidentally drops his crazy heavy and huge measuring tape on my foot. My foot starts bleeding and I can’t stop laughing! It hurt! I will say, it did take my mind off the contraction for about a minute. 🙂

Lots of soft voices talking and trying to decipher when we should make the move to the hospital. I didn’t really know what to tell them. But, when I knew, I knew. We made the rush to the Explorer, and the five minute drive to the hospital. The seatbelt was my friend. I clung on to that thing and tried to speak in soft and calming tones, mainly to convince myself that I was okay. We are pulling up to the hospital and there’s a small gang of cyclists who are blocking the road. They are deciding where to go and are taking f o r e v e r to turn. Jeb, my steady, constantly calm, and never ruffled man of a husband was getting so impatient. It endeared me even more to him!

We walk in, fill out tons of forms, and wait in triage. I only want to stand. There is no rush amongst the nursing staff. We small talk, I close my eyes and breathe through contractions. It’s my first, she assures me it will be still be a while. This is not reassuring. She begins the first exam and I’m praying for six centimeters. Please, God. At least six. I need to be more than halfway done here. I don’t think I can handle much more. “You’re an eight. Good job, Mama!”

Oh the relief that floods my body! I turned to Jeb and smiled. He whispered, “I was hoping for a six! You’re doing great! It’s almost time!” We texted our parents, siblings, and friends now that we knew it was near. The hospital was great. I walked, used the ball, and had an excellent support staff who acknowledged my natural birth plan. Debs came to the hospital and again I felt such relief. She had a pack of washcloths and a stress ball shaped like a pint of Guiness. It was awesome!

From this point, I was expecting much more. I anticipated a really quick birth and was keenly aware of awaiting friends and family. I was ready to celebrate. I’m at a nine. Still breathing and talking calmly. We have our music playing and the scene is so, so peaceful. My sister comes in and we talk for a bit. She gives me the exact same smile and face as on my wedding day right before the doors were opened and I walked through. Debs reminds me I need to focus! Back to work is the thought in my head.

By this point, all the exams keep showing that I’m at a nine and not progressing. Not sure why everything has slowed. We checked in around 4:45 pm and it’s nearing 8. I’m ready to eat. I am thirsty and can’t wait to see my son. I’m offered a Popsicle and it’s the best thing in the world. Seriously. I start smiling. I’m loving this treat! I’m upright in the bed and feel the urge to push. My waters break and physically I feel relief. Mentally, I recall that pain typically intensifies after this point. Debs and my mom are at my torso, Jeb is applying pressure to my back and Debs, so aware and in tune to me, tells the nurse I’m ready to push and am about to push. I remember her saying, “She’s doing the sound, she wants to push.”

I’m checked again, and feel deflated when there’s no progress. My mom and Debs exchange glances across my chest and I mentally take note. I am leaning in to my body and begin to push. Several pushes in and the doctor on-call examines me. Dr. Strong says he feels a nose. He calls for NICU, who immediately fill the room. There’s lots of chatter, they’re coming up with a plan, and the doctor says, “He’s not going to make it… (very prolonged pause)…this way.” Debs moved right to my ear and told me to listen only to her. She repeats every word the doctor spoke in reverse, the opposite truth. Because I was already pushing, the doctor gave me permission to try and continue to deliver him naturally. 

I still wasn’t fully aware of all that was progressing, but knew I needed to bare down and deliver my son. At 9:11 pm, I gave birth to Cade Davis Kolby. He weighed seven pounds and ten ounces. I delivered his nose and lips first, resulting in a badly bruised baby boy. He had the thickest black head of hair and looked like he had a five o’clock shadow covering his cheeks. As soon as he was born, they placed him on my chest. I was worried that he wasn’t crying, thinking he wasn’t breathing, but they all assured me to give it a minute. As I grabbed my son, I didn’t know what to think. I was shaking uncontrollably, and desperately needed to know that he was okay. Normally, you deliver the soft part, the top of the head. Since Cade wasn’t fully turned, his face engaged and he was partly stuck. It was a different sort of delivery than I expected.

I was able to have my medication-free, natural, vaginal birth. The labor was my best case scenario. The delivery was more difficult than I anticipated. Had they known he wasn’t in the proper position, or had they learned of it earlier on in my delivery, I would have had an emergency Caesarian section.  

Even with his bruising and swelling, Cade latches on immediately and begins to eat. It’s a completely new feeling and I’m again shocked, shaking, and trying to visually and physically take it all in. We welcome our family and friends into the room and we pass Cade around in his perfectly soft and striped blanket. Everyone is so encouraging and loving and kind. 

Cade’s birth story has been within me for five years. I’ve tried and tried to write it. I’ve written, deleted and rewritten this story. He made me a Mama. I loved my pregnancy. I loved my labor. And I even loved my delivery, up to a point. It took a while for me to process the scare of his birth, my disappointment in it looking different from my expectations. I actually felt a little robbed of the glorious bliss and joy that naturally follows birth. The last moments I could recall were traumatizing and hurried; I was disheveled and worried. The complete opposite of my plan and the natural progression of his labor. I often share bits and pieces of this story to other Mamas and Mama’s to be, but here it is in its entirety. I want to highlight the good, the peaceful, the joyous start but it’s also okay to acknowledge the hurt, the fear, the shock, and the disappointment.

Now having had two other pregnancies and births, my labor with Cade was by far the easiest and the most peaceful. It was glorious and filled with so much anticipation and mounting joy. So now on this, his SIXTH birthday, I am finally releasing our birthing story, because it is as much mine as his! 

Battlefield of the Mind

Battlefield of the Mind


“My mind is a neighborhood I try not to go into alone.” ― Anne Lamott

It took me until college or maybe even beyond to understand that I am able to control my thoughts. I wrongly believed that the self-talk in my head wasn’t a big deal and that it didn’t really matter what I was reading, hearing, watching, or consuming. Well, it turns out what you think about greatly defines and affects you. For the past months, I have been in a continuous laundry-cycle of hormonal craziness. I don’t feel like myself. I’m not thinking like myself, and I’m generally melancholy about the whole ordeal.
Since taking a firmer grip on my physical health and my food choices, I am noticing a great improvement. But. 

But, I am still in a repeating cycle of negativity and overwhelm and internal chaos. Before you start calling doctors on my behalf, know that I am already under the care of several (read: FOUR) licensed medical personnel. I am in no way an expert on mental health or really any health-related issue, but I want to share my experiences so that I have a record to remember and re-learn, and just in case my vulnerability could potentially help. 

I am making progress and moving forward to better health. I’m defining health in this season, as back to me. Back to feeling like myself, thinking like myself, and having the physical energy and stamina to match what’s in my heart and head to do. It’s as simple as not thinking twice about preparing a well-known meal, or even waking up on my own without pain, without drudgery, and without a second thought to actually get out of bed.

I am moving forward; I have made strides in my morning energy-levels. But, there’s MORE. I just realized today, after reading some of my previous posts, that I am not actively training my thoughts on goodness, on thankfulness, on the JOY that is present in each day. In short, I have just been agreeing with all the thoughts in my head, and not choosing to change them. Let me give some examples –

Okay, here’s a typical conversation in my head: Alarm goes off. Here we go, time to get up. What am I going to wear? Nothing fits right. I wish I was more active. I need to be working out. That’s it. Put on workout gear, move your body. Get fit. Still lying in bed. Shelbie, you need to get up. Fix breakfast; what else is on the agenda? Ugh. Is Jeb working late tonight? Do we even have groceries? Cereal. The kids will eat cereal. You can’t eat cereal. It’s still dark. Must I get up? Finally out of bed. Handle all kid responsibilities. Why am I so tired? Didn’t I sleep well? I am so groggy. This is so hard. How are you not good at this? You should become a morning person. Just finish the next thing. Finish one task. Stop getting distracted. FINISH a task. Okay, there. You did it. You completed breakfast. I’m exhausted. Why is this hard? This shouldn’t be difficult, right? That was much harder than it should be. Other moms probably sing in the mornings to their kids… Whatever. Did Cade do his homework? I’m not even up for that. Can’t handle. One. More. Thing.

So all that thinking is obviously happening simultaneously to all the chores, all the conversations, and all the routines that I naturally go through. My thinking isn’t awful. It’s not usually really bad or judgmental or evil. In fact, this seems pretty tame. Granted it is first thing in the morning, but all those thoughts aren’t really anything to be overly-concerned about. But, it is. Most of my self-talk is demeaning, and accusatory (You probably need to hear the tone to get the full picture!). I’m rarely gracious with myself or kind. In fact, I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever been really great at coaching myself. I tend to be overly-critical, and much more harsh in my estimation of myself and my performance. 

Knowing this about me, when my internal, first thing in the morning, self-talk is already starting out with a bang – about how inadequate, tired, and lazy I am, it most definitely puts a damper on my mood. Consequently, I find myself even deeper in that cycle of hormonal awfulness and then don’t really want to engage with the world or my children, and would much prefer to park myself on our couch, in isolation. Y’all. This is crazy town. 

When I start my day reaching for my phone, I have a choice. I can peruse Facebook and Instagram or I can choose to pray. I can open my Bible app and read, or begin the day with worship music. It’s quite obvious, but let me explain what happens when I don’t think for myself, and start scrolling through my newsfeed. For starters, I am somehow friends with very vocal proponents of each major political candidate… I’m not going to delve into all the opinions, but my very real response first thing in the morning is a heated face and quickening pulse and an instinctive impulse to RIGHT all the WRONGS in their thinking. 

This happened just last week. Before my children were awake, before I even sat up in bed, I grabbed my phone to turn off the alarm, let it linger in my grasp and began flipping through Facebook. I was so peeved before my feet ever hit the ground. With what am I filling my mind? Conversely, when my morning thoughts are on thankfulness for a new day, hope abounds. It should be a no-brainer, but sadly, it’s taken me way too long to notice the pattern.

Jeb and I listened to a fantastic teaching earlier this year and the phrase that grabbed us both was this, “Make sure you are waking up FOR your day and not TO your day.”

For me, waking up “for my day” looks a lot like spending time with Jesus. Soaking with worship music playing, training my thoughts to be on higher, heavenly things, things that take faith to believe. It’s a quiet morning getting myself ready, unhurried, and being gracious and kind to myself. Not lamenting my body, or cursing my clothes. 

Joy is playing a huge role in my life. I am trying to infuse more laughter and smiles into my day, and actively combatting negativity within my mind. I’m currently reading a short snippet of a book called Possessing Joy and each sentence is packing a punch. Hopefully, by filling my mind with JOY, joy will be the by-product, and it will begin to sink in. 

What’s your morning routine look like? Do you hop out of bed fully energized and jazzed for the day? Do you have any sanity-saver tips that make your morning? Share in the comments and let’s get this conversation going. 😊

Contentment

Contentment

I really love my life. Jeb and I have intentionally set up our life together as one that worships and glorifies God, invests in serving others, and is consciously aware of setting boundaries for our time. We have three beautiful and funny and rambunctious children, and a cozy and well-functioning home, and valued friends, and meaningful work. It is a great life! When I take stock of our experiences, our possessions, and the relationships around us, I can’t help but be overwhelmed with gratitude. Such thankfulness. It really is a fabulous life. I bet you can say the same things. Based on what you value and how you spend your time, I’m sure you can rattle off an entire list of people and things and memories for which you are so thankful. Do you ever feel like your heart could burst from joy and thanksgiving?

It has been a “low” season for me. Some call it feeling blue, or retreating into hibernation-mode. Others self-diagnose and call it depression. I’m still in the thick of it with finding balance for my hormones. I mentioned this back in April (Welcome to my Crazy), and there has been some improvement, but also not really. In the midst of these months of unknowns – we even thought there might be another miraculous pregnancy – I have been wishing and praying for more. I am fully content with our current circumstances and routines and am even so so thankful for them, but I’m also yearning for more.

More connection. More time to myself. More space. More yard. More depth. More get-up-and-go. More leisure.

Do you feel me? Can you relate at all? I have such a strong desire to LOVE exactly where I am – in every sense of the word, to be content. I want to squeeze all the goodness out of each day and experience JOY in the seemingly mundane routines and mom-responsibilities. There is this tension of both contentment and more. Because this has been such a strong tension/feeling/passion, I want to begin studying the parallels or the disconnects within Scripture about it. I’ll be sure to fill you in on what I find…

What are your thoughts? Do you have similar feelings? Feeling grounded and also desiring a change or “more” of something? I would love to hear your insights on this type of paradoxical living!!

// Photo by: Studio154 Photography

 

Healthy Chocolate Applesauce Zucchini Muffins

Healthy Chocolate Applesauce Zucchini Muffins

Our eldest son is a picky eater. It is bothersome and exhausting and frankly drives me crazy. I’ve researched all sorts of ideas and solutions, polled social media moms, listened to lifetime preschool educators, and have brought the subject up with painstaking regularity with our pediatrician. Basically, we’re going to let it slide. We have a few non-negotiable rules within our family dynamics, but for now I think we’re done with the fight.

Here’s the breakdown of our rules: 1) When we are home together we eat at the dinner table; everyone must be present and seated. You’d think this would be a simple rule to enforce, but sometimes it’s Jeb and me who suffer the consequences of making this a priority! Because of late night board meetings and other obligations, this isn’t a nightly norm, but when it happens, we place high value on its importance.

2) In regards to food (and just life) you must be polite in refusing and responding. Because of the many methods we’ve tried, Cade can become incensed and aggravated at the drop of a hat in the kitchen. It’s like we’re all wound way too tight around the subject of food – namely proteins, vegetables, and a balanced diet. Geesch. So, if we present him a plate of food with the majority of things he doesn’t like, he isn’t allowed to throw a fit, throw the food, dismiss the plate, or yell at me the messenger! Again, pretty basic, but these are easily enforced and center around respect and honor.

That’s basically it. We try to keep the expectations low so that my time isn’t spent in a constant debate of maintaining rules. The things Cade will eat. Well, I dress those things up in a lot of different ways. Probably for my own benefit and to negate any mom-guilt for his LOVE of snacks and all things processed.

Onto this recipe for Healthy Chocolate Applesauce Zucchini Muffins. Everyone gobbles these up! Cade loves them and requests them on the regular. I’ve added shredded carrots, smashed banana (reducing the added sugar), and he’s none-the-wiser. I will say, Cade is an excellent help in the kitchen. He loves to bake, measure, chop, etc. But, when I’m making these, I kick him out of the kitchen. No need to argue over the “green stuff” that I’m incorporating!

Recipe adapted from My Baking Addiction

Healthy Chocolate Applesauce Zucchini Muffins

Yields 24 muffins  Prep time: 20 minutes  Bake time: 20 minutes

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (Whole wheat flour, or almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 cups finely grated zucchini, patted dry with paper towels
  • Mini chocolate chips (to top muffins)

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F, line muffin tin with paper liners
  • In a standing mixer, combine and beat together: sugar, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining dry ingredients
  • Add dry mixture to wet mixture until completely combined
  • Gently fold in zucchini
  • Scoop batter evenly in the muffin tins
  • Add mini chocolate chips to tops of muffins
  • Bake for 20 minutes

What do you think? Have you had a troublesome eater? Know of any tricks I need to try?! I’m all ears, please fill me in on your successes, secrets, or just plain out solidarity for walking this path alongside me!

Welcome to my Crazy

From my perspective, my interactions with our children have been sharp, severe, and cutting. I am raising my voice and speaking sternly all too often. Internally, everything feels jumbled and helter-skelter. Stress has taken over and overwhelm consumes me. Since mid-January, I’ve had off and on spurts of crazy. What I’ve described above is my version of crazy. Strung-out, hyper-sensitive, and holding on by a thread. My erratic behavior has most definitely upset the balance and the peace within our home. 

I haven’t been able to see my doctor quick enough, and I am praying that she will have some answers to my moodiness, my stress, anger, moodswings, and temperature changes. Typing all those symptoms out, surely I have something. Some sort of something to explain away all the tirades and insensitive bashings. Hormones are no joke. It tampers and touches every part of a woman’s body. I mean, hello. Yes, we know this, but it has taken me three months – THREE MONTHS to realize, “Hmmm… This isn’t how I normally respond in these situations, I’m not sure why I keep getting so worked up over petty little things..Why is it so HOT in here?” So, I’m hormonal. We’ve had three kids in four years and I just finished weaning the baby. I’m all out of whack and apparently no one can win, at this point in life. Everything is a disaster and feelings are spilling out everywhere and there are so many apologies happening, I’m not even sure why I’m still communicating. It’d be far more efficient to remain QUIET!

Goodness. Lord Jesus, please regulate my system and cause my family members – every single one of them – to black out these dark days of lethargy and outbursts of over the top emotions. It’s ridiculous. And, I’m ridiculous and over it. I’m now ready to jump back on-course and make amends and not feel so fricking sweaty at all times of the day and night. 

One thing I have noticed even while I’m still in the thick of it, is this: When feelings of stress and overwhelm begin to creep in, I begin grasping at every loose straw to gain some semblance of control. I micro-manage our children, the household, and even conversations. Every “fun” activity carries with it the onslaught of disorder, chaos, and MESS and it throws me over the edge. 

While out at a restaurant Cade accidentally knocked over a tiny dish of salad dressing. He was jacking around at the table, but still, a spill is a spill. Purely accidental and I was so upset. I probably even rolled my eyes and let out a loud sigh. The little man is five years old. It was a cramped table and besides mistakes happen. Take a chill pill and cool the mess down. 

Pray for me. And, if you begin to notice all the crazy starting to flare up within yourself, stop what you’re doing right then, and make an appointment. We all can use an extra set of hands at times, and I’m putting all my eggs in this pharmaceutical basket of hormonal bliss and balance. Let it be, Lord. Not just for my sake, but for the well being of my husband and three kids!

*This was written April 2nd. Thankfully, things are starting to improve, but I’m not sure if the crazy is treatable!! 😜

New Normal

New Normal

Hi Friends! I just reread a few of my journals and found such encouragement in the pages. Below is from December 2014, just after Charis was born. If you find yourself in a new stage with work, family, or relationships, treat yourself kindly. Extend yourself grace and look back with gratitude and joy. //

 Baby Charis in a bonnet.  
My heart is full and my eyes are tired. Like crazy, can barely keep them open, tired. Our month-long experience with three little ones has been amazing and incredibly difficult all at once and spread throughout the long, never-ending days. 

In a recent text to my girlfriends this is what I said, “Yall!! I wanted to throw in the whole “parenting” towel before I even got out of bed this morning. Literally. Like wanted to just hide from the littles. I’m not sure I should be allowed to parent before 10am on most days… Also, Cade built a pillow fort in the living room with a post it on the “door.” He claimed it said, “All the people not allowed in!” I’m right there with ya, buddy. 🙂 Hope you can laugh at my misery and relate!!!!”

Anyone, anyone? Can I get an Amen?!! The somewhat funny part in all this is that I’m actually faring BETTER than I imagined. The transition, recovery, tiredness, breastfeeding, chasing down two boys… The entire lot of it has been far better and even more rewarding than I could ever have hoped. And, while I’m sure this is sounding so paradoxical, wishy-washy, and probably like a hormonal spaz… it’s true. 

All the ups and downs, glorious moments of pure sweetness and total “togetherness”, the spurts of productivity, and the tantrums, fatigue, messes and absolute no plans for dinner – all combine to form our life. Grace-filled days of loving, cuddling, training, disciplining, too much tv watching, fort building, mud slinging, treat making, happy memories. And, I’m trying to be thankful. Fostering an attitude of thankfulness transforms me out of my limited, precise moment and gives me a much larger perspective. Overall this produces a much happier and calmer Mama. 

  
While the parenting three kiddos is still quite fresh, I’m pleasantly surprised at our adaptation. Praise God for His mercies that are new every morning and for the grace to roll (read: fall) out of bed each morning and throughout the wee hours of the night. 

I know we’ve all heard, “Comparison is the thief of all joy.” I agree and want to comment a bit on this. I was pregnant with our third right alongside some other amazing women, all at varying ages and stages. Some were carrying their first baby and at six months pregnant still weighed less than my pre-preggo self! Bless them. Others had extra help at home to ease the stresses and burdens of managing a house and keeping it tidy. Still others were relocating, moving, working right up to the delivery day. 

  
What I’m saying is we all have moments of greatness when we look and feel great, have a pulled together outfit and a matching bubbly attitude. When we have the energy to converse with other adults and randomly have all the ingredients to whip up an excellent dessert to share. When those moments happen to you, glory in them. Feel great! But also realize when you see others in all their “glorious-ness” it’s also just a moment. No one is able to sustain it all, all the time. So rejoice when others are at the top of their game for the night and understand that the next day might just be a pajama day for the entire family!

// Photos are of Charis wearing my baby bonnet and sweet gown. She was three months old in the photos. 

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I make much of simple, everyday joys. Finding the incredible in the ordinary. Viewing life and motherhood through the lens of joy, seeing profound beauty, and gaining peace throughout the mundane. ShelbieShue is an affectionate childhood nickname and I still answer to the call.

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