House For Six


The Year of Stewardship: The Lies We Believe

Deme CrinionComment

I've deemed 2017 my Year of Stewardship.  Can you see me pounding my gavel all official-like?

If stewardship is what we do with what we've been given, then I have to admit.... I've been less of a good steward and more of a selective clinger.  Life's been swirling, sometimes faster than I can handle, and I've been frantically grasping at some of those gifts, while totally abandoning others. 

Now that we're in a season that feels slightly less chaotic and uncertain, it feels like the right time to take a closer look at how I've mistreated some blessings, and what got me to clinger status in other cases.  

The past few years were full of so much change and flux that we often felt like we were just surviving our circumstances.  To climb out of that mentality I know that it will first take some major shifting of the ole' mindset, followed by some practical changes to help us get to a place where our family is thriving once again.

I think a lot of ways I've fallen off course, stemmed from a lie.  In fact, I think there's a lot of lies floating around about what will bring us happiness and contentment.  And what we should do when we're not basking in all those rainbows and unicorns.

I sat down with a notebook and started to write down the lies I've allowed myself to believe.  Some of them actually hold some truth, under certain circumstances, and understanding that distinction is key.

The most effective lies have an element of truth (which makes them so believable), but that truth has been twisted.  And it takes the God of Truth to undo the damage from the Father of Lies.

Sadly, there's a lot of untruth I've allowed to occupy my head-space.....

"You should lose 10lbs before you wear that"

"If I just had this one more thing, then I would love it and never want/need anything else"

"Too much time has passed.  They won't care and it doesn't really matter anymore.  Some friendships don't last forever"

"It's not on the list or in the budget this time, but I'll just borrow from another category.  It's so cheap, it really won't make any difference"

"If I don't act right now this opportunity (or price) will be gone forever"

"You're so selfish for wanting to pursue hobbies and/or a career outside the home, away from your family.  That's where you should be until the kids are out of the house."

"Your desires, career, happiness and personal fulfillment are more important than serving your family. Your personal happiness is the highest priority."

"The dishes are more important than creating"

"Creating is more important that making sure the kids have clean clothes to wear tomorrow."

"You would be happier on your own." 

"You're not a good mother.  So many other women are more patience, loving, and selfless - they nurture their kids far better than the crap show you're running."

"All he sees are my lumps, bumps, and wrinkles.  Hide yourself."

"I can't do this anymore"

"My kids will be embarrassed by other kids for not having as much, or the latest and greatest, or..."

"Just accept that this is the world we live in"

"Your dreams will have to wait"

"But it's not perfect yet"

"If you devote yourself to family life, you will lose yourself"

Some of these still sting when I read them, because at my core, I struggle to reject them.   

There is an undoing that needs to happen in me.  An untwisting of the truth, and a reminder of what is in fact true, good, and worthy.  Then there is the work moving that truth from head-space to heart-space....because it is one thing to know something and another to live it. That's where grace comes in - thank God!

When we operate from a place of exhaustion, lack of purpose, or skewed clarity, it's easy to just put our head down and go through the motions to survive the day.  And it's also really hard to pick your head back up, especially when the whirlwind isn't slowing down.  Yet, God promises that we can set our feet on solid ground no matter the circumstances.  And boy, am I in need of that. 

Tomorrow begins the season of Lent (a time of prayer, almsgiving, and fasting in order to draw closer to Christ and be renewed in his grace).  I know that not everyone who reads this blog observes this liturgical season, but I can't think of a better time to pull some of those weeds masquerading around as flowers.  I hope you don't mind that we tackle some of that work here over the next few weeks.....and don't worry, I have plenty of house projects to update you on too!  #winkwink

Our entry floors are finally done and they're completely different than what we planned.  The happiest of accidents indeed.  I'll have an update on that space later this week.  In the meantime, I would love to hear from you....are there certain lies you find yourself falling for?  What helps you stay grounded in truth during a season that demands more than you feel you can give?

Special Days: Baptisms and Birthdays and First Communions, Oh My!

Deme Crinion2 Comments
Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  As I was going through the unorganized chaos that is my pictures on the computer, I realized how many special days we've celebrated in the past couple months. 

Each of these could have rated their own post, but....well, procrastination....leads to back-up....leads to overwhelming...leads to inability to construct complete sentences.  So, here they are in photo dump fashion.

Back in February, Miss Livy Joy was baptized!  It was still freezing so we needed a lot more than just the gown...

(Don't ask about the perfectly coordinated toddler ties the boys are donning. They thought they looked pretty sharp.)

It was such a special day.  The last time we had a baptism around here the older kids were still toddlers, so it was a very different experience this time, full of tender moments that will continue to bless my mama heart over and over again.

In March and April, James and I (respectively) turned the big 36.  OK, so that isn't such a significant number except for the fact that we are now officially closer to 40 than 30.  And I'm totally OK with that. I don't have pictures of these events because #slacker and #toobusyeatingcake.....BUT! Naptime Diaries was kind enough to run their spring sale in conjunction with my birthday and my amazing husband got me this canvas print that I've been wanting forever.
I can think of at least 5 different places I could hang it, but I have a perfect spot next to my desk begging for some art/motivation.  Which of course, is causing a whole new set of project plans to brew.  Wink, wink.

And finally, just last month our oldest made her First Communion!  We weren't allowed to take pics during the mass but I did manage to gather up these...

Mr. Grueden leads the Children's liturgy on Sundays and has always been so kind to our kids. He happened to draw Mia's name from all the first communicants and has been praying for her for as she prepared for this day. Such goodness.

As I was putting this post together I loved seeing Father Tom welcome our youngest into our faith and later give our daughter her First Holy Communion. His joy for them is as great as ours.

Now let's talk outfit deets.  Mia didn't want to do the traditional veil, but we found this tiara with a cross right in the center and it felt like her.

The bracelet was a gift from her grandparents...

and this necklace was a gift from her other set of Grandparents at her Baptism.

How is our sweet girl growing so fast?!?!

We are so very proud of her!
[Dress/shoes/tiara: David's Bridal | Tights/Sweater: Target]

Looking back it struck me that all of these wonderful celebrations came smack in the middle of some of the hardest months we've had in a while.  Blessings in the trenches I tell ya!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

Friendship & Baby Blues: When Postpartum Depression Comes Knocking

Deme Crinion15 Comments

I'm not sure how to describe the last couple weeks.  I wrote that post on the not so glamorous newborn days and then it was like someone with a maniacal laugh turned the dial up a few more notches.  Colic baby with an ear-splitting scream that wants to be held all day, day after day, about sums it up.

I hit my low; my breaking point; my I'm-going-to-hop-on-the-back-of-a-yellow-school-bus-that-comes-down-our-street-for-a-freedom-flight-unless-something-gives point.

We were in a car accident a few weeks ago (just Livy and I).  Thankfully no one was hurt, but our van has been in the shop for repairs and we've been clawing our way through the frigid days of winter at home without any form of escape.  Which is partially OK because Livy was screaming so much I was hesitant to go out in public with her anyway.  Would she fall asleep in her car seat and actually take a long overdue nap?  Or would she rage at the straps holding her in the entire time?  I never knew.  

After weeks of build-up I felt bombarded with thoughts of "what have we done?"  "It was so much easier before she was here..."  "Did we make a mistake?"  "I don't think I can do this anymore. I don't want to do this anymore".

And I hated myself for thinking that way, because I know that she is an absolute gift.  A completely wonderful gift and I was wishing for things to go back the way they were or to zoom forward so I could what....finish a cup of coffee? take a shower in peace?  have some personal space? Get some things done? Get anything done?

Oh those postpartum hormones.  

It is perfectly normal to have those thoughts and frustrations  I knew it in my head but in my utterly exhausted state (mentally, physically and emotionally), I felt desperate.

"For the whole law is fulfilled in one statement, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" Gal 5:14

I'm not good at asking for help. I'm guessing you're not either.  Because women are like that.  People are like that.  We're generally eager to help a friend in need, but when it comes to reaching out for ourselves it somehow feels selfish and weak.  So, I guess it speaks to my desperation that I finally emailed two dear friends asking for their prayers over me and Livy. 

And boy did God answer.  He took that one simple act.....of humbly admitting that I was not doing well...and his flood gates of grace flung wide.

Their encouraging texts and prayers (along with a sob-sesh with my mom on the phone and my husband who already knew how much I was struggling) carried me through that afternoon.  And every time I paced the hall with my screaming baby I took their intentions to prayer to help focus my heart off of my bleeding eardrums.

The next morning my friend called to say she wanted to bring over coffee and donuts.   

But the house?!   the screaming baby?!  my lack of showering?! 

But her request to stop by was less of a request and more of an "I'm coming so make sure the door's unlocked".  By some miracle of miracles I had dressed before I got the baby up that morning, but told her my kids were still clad in pajamas.  So, she brought over her kids in pj's too.

Not only did she bring her kids over to play and give my boys a fun morning with friends, and bring me a cup of happiness from outside the walls of my house, and come bearing donuts just because.....she also brought everything to make us dinner.  When she left for home a couple hours later I had BBQ chicken cooking away in the crock pot, freshly baked cornbread cooling on my stovetop, and veggies ready to pop in the microwave at dinner time. #saint

"bear one another's burdens, and so you will fulfill the law of Christ." Gal 6:2

Here's the thing guys - she's right in the middle of her own trying season.  Her husband is working some intense hours for a couple months and she's doing a lot of solo parenting with her three young kids.  I should be making HER a meal.

But friendship doesn't work so black and I'm worse off than you.  In fact, helping me, ended up helping her too.  Her kids got out of the house to play with friends, we got to catch up over coffee (soul balm every time), and soon half the day had passed with both of us feeling a bit renewed in our solidarity.  Although I definitely made out like a bandit with the meal.

This is community.  This is how we help carry each others burdens.  We actually let each other know we have them.  We let each other into the middle of the mess and don't wait until we start to get things under control first.  It is not weakness to admit that you are struggling and that things are hard.  Many good things are really, really hard.

I didn't want to let my friends know I was struggling, knowing they have enough going on in their own lives.  But that's not the way we were created to handle adversity.  So, when we attempt to suck it up buttercup and trudge along in our isolated misery, it usually doesn't yield a great result (resentment, anger, despair anyone?).

James and I both have incredibly giving parents.  Whenever we try to reject their generosity my parents have responded many times, "don't rob us of the joy in blessing you".  In a similar way I think we can do that in our friendships.  When we hold back from each other, even with good intentions not to inconvenience someone else, we can rob each other of the joy and privilege of praying for one another...of serving each other....of being a vehicle of grace.  And even of blessing them.  Because that's the kind of God we have - one who can take a single burden shared and turn it into a blessing for two. It's some kind of crazy Holy Spirit math ;)

The worst part of that baby stress peak was how guilty I felt for my thoughts and my inability to control them.  But as a friend gently reminded me, we can not condemn ourselves for the ways we respond in our humanity to the muck.  They simply remind us of our need for a Savior and how much we need each other.

*I'm not a health care professional, nor an expert on postpartum depression, but I have experienced the baby blues to varying degrees after each of my children.  There's no shame in letting your loved ones know you're struggling, especially if you're experiencing postpartum depression/baby blues symptoms that last for more than two weeks, are getting worse, make it hard for you to care for your baby, make it hard to complete daily tasks, and/or include thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.  Not getting help isn't "suffering well "or being stoic. That's the time to allow community (and good doctors!) to help you.  If you aren't sure what you're experiencing, you can read more on PPD here and give your OB a ring.

**Livy seemed to turn a corner a few days, in turn I have too.   Its the only way I was able to finish writing this post :)

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png

The (Not So Glamorous) Newborn Days

Deme Crinion10 Comments
Thank you so much for your sweet comments and congrats on the newest Crinion!  In that post, I mentioned that the past few weeks have been....hard.  I don't know how many times I've reworked this post because I don't want to complain about something so truly wonderful.  But I also feel there's a misconception of where beauty is found in those first weeks with a new baby.  Spoiler alert - it's not in strutting around in your postpartum bod, tummy miraculously flat and perfect hair and makeup.

Now be forewarned, if terms associated with childbirth and nursing make you squeamish you may want to skip this one and just scroll through for the cute baby pics. I promise you some house and organizing projects are coming up.  But first, life with a newborn....

Feeling bad for all the radio silence since Livy's birth, I finally posted this pic on Instagram

the not so glamorous newborn days

I had been waiting until I could take a shower, find clothes that disguised the postpartum everything, and actually do something with my hair.  But alas, that magical trifecta has not yet manifested.  I was taken aback at your encouraging comments on that pic and it's really what triggered the desire to write this post.

I hope this doesn't sound completely wretched, but it seems to be baby season around my social media land and all the pictures are "Yay!  Our baby is here!  We're so in love!"

And I love my baby too, but I wondered....while holding my beautiful 4th child screaming from a stubborn bubble/poop/gas conundrum, my nipples sore and cracked from the first week of nursing, my postpartum gut keeping me out of any clothes without a stretchy waistband (not exactly a complaint at this point)....and really.....was I the only one who wasn't relishing in newborn baby bliss?  I mean, this isn't my first rodeo here, so shouldn't I at least have it more together?
the not so glamorous newborn days

And friends, we are totally BLESSED.  We have big babies (all born around 9.5 lbs with the exception of my "little" guy Sully who was 8 lbs 9 oz), which means they are generally good eaters (read: holy cow are my nipples still there) but they also tend to sleep a bit longer at night.  Livy is no exception. It could be the hearty eating, the good weight, ooooor sheer exhaustion from the two hours of colicky raging during the evening hours that precede her bedtime. It's a toss up.

So, if we're getting 4-5 hr stretches at night, and nursing every 2.5-3 hrs during the day, why are we still so dang tired?!? And why am I not overwhelmed with all the feelings of "this is the best thing ever!"? 
the not so glamorous newborn days

Some days it seems like the only time she's not screaming is when she's eating or asleep.  I hate wishing she would just conk out and go back to dreamland.  I love the rare moments when she's calm and awake.  I'm looking forward to the day we have a lot more of those and less of the ear-splitting form of communication.  It's so hard to see your baby in discomfort and not be able to sooth her. 

I can still remember the days at the hospital and then home with our first baby, Mia.  After 23 hrs of labor and 1.5 hrs of pushing, I had a beautiful 9lb 8oz daughter and a nice helping of 3rd degree tearing.   I was so exhausted from hours of walking the hospital halls trying to help labor progress and was in so much discomfort from the tearing that I could barely hold Mia.  I remember crying in that hospital bed because I would feed her and then immediately need (even want) to just hand her off to James for some relief.  She also received bottled formula in the hospital, so she was not happy about my very slow let down.  Her and James actually bonded more in the hospital than her and I did.

I thought it would get better once we were home, but Mia had a "fussy hour", which was more like three, where she was simply inconsolable.  The only thing that semi-soothed her was James pacing the house with her in his arms.  Nursing was a fight (despite being a trained lactation educator) and incredibly painful at first.  My recovery was so much harder than anything I had anticipated and I hated feeling so unlike myself.

I really didn't bond with my baby until several weeks after we were home....and I felt like the worse mother on the planet. It seems silly to me now, but it was a very real feeling of disappointment and failure.

Livy is very much like Mia with a fussy time in the evening.  Her scream is LOUD and after pacing with her for two hours while she wails in my ear, I usually have a splitting headache behind my left eye that will. not. quit. Put that on repeat every day and it sucks.  For both of us.  But I also know that it will not always be this way.

She will not always scream so loud I question my own hearing loss and I'm not a terrible mother if I can't sooth her every cry.  I'm OK with admitting that this is a struggle, no matter how many babies fill the nest.  I might have a bit more perspective with baby #4, but lets be honest - this work is hard.

I find it almost humorous (and I stress almost) that some of the most selfless and exhausting work we will do is required of us when we are physically weak, mentally foggy, and riding an unpredictable hormonal emotion-coaster.  Seriously.  What was God thinking with that one?  I have asked Him this many times over the past couple weeks (in a bit of a toddleresque whine), but maybe he knew exactly what he was doing, Right out of the parenting gates, we will never have enough strength or wisdom to get through the long road of parenthood alone.  We need him from the very start and for every stage going forward. We do our best...which some days is simply showing up, and God meets us in our humanity with grace for that moment.
the not so glamorous newborn days

After a series of back to back screaming-spitup-hold-me-constantly days, I was hitting a breaking point.  I sent a lovely message to James telling him so.  He responded with words I didn't know my heart needed - Keep at it.  Don't give up. You're doing a great job and she's lucky to have you  #cuewaterworks

Even a veteran mom needs to hear that.  We need to hear it to get us through the newborn days, heck that whole first year, but also to get us through the toddler trenches...and when those toddlers turn into big kids...and tween territory...and certainly beyond.  No matter how seasoned or new you are to motherhood, we all need the reassurance that our efforts are worth it.  Because being a parent is not easy.   Our best efforts don't always feel very heroic or effective, but the simple act of staying in the fight (even when it's not very pretty) is how we love.  And love always wins.  (Right Mary?) 

The beauty of these newborn days is absolutely in the gift of your child, but it's also in your daily sacrifice.  In the way you tend to your child even when your body is screaming for rest.  In your commitment to your motherhood even when you question why and how you got there.  

So, to all the first time mamas that may be wondering why no one told them how hard this would be (or to the mom of many who sort of forgot), I'm with you.  And I promise, it does get better.  With our other kids, I remember the clouds parting and a glimmer of hope at normalcy breaking through around the 6-8 week mark. I was a truly colicky baby and my mom said it finally improved around 4 months.  Each baby is different, but it will not be this way forever. 

In the meantime, embrace the little victories.  Celebrate the day that dang umbilical stump falls off....give thanks for the day nursing doesn't hurt quite as much as it did the day before (you're on the downhill!) or the day he takes a bottle and doesn't throw it all back up when he "burps" a little happy dance when you can finally downgrade from DEF-CON diaper-size pad status for your own recovery/self-care....and just know that before long, you will be in much easier days and pants that fit.  Or better yet, just get yourself a good pair of jeans that fit you now and you'll feel a whole lot better.

I'm off to console my daughter who is refusing to nap in her crib, but will probably fall right asleep if I hold her for the next two hours. Solidarity, Sisters!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
 photo f1_zps95f50ae9.png  photo f2_zps8e4c66fe.png  photo f4_zpsabace950.png  photo instaw_zps951d8ab3.png