I came very close to having TWO parties (one on Saturday and one on Sunday to try to accommodate those who possibly couldn't make it on Sunday and somehow "fit" everyone in my "beautiful but not big enough to fit as many people as I'd like to invite to celebrate" house). ...I had a momentary lapse in sanity. I decided to keep the party only to Sunday.
Those of you who know me and who've been following for a while know I like to let all my creative juices run wild on birthday celebrations see HERE and HERE.
Pinterest is a great source of inspiration, but can also (as those of you who know that use it) be a source of exasperation and can at times make mothers feel "less than adequate".
This year we'll be doing a Valentine's celebration to celebrate our sweetheart and I feel this year in particular, celebrating the gift or her life is particularly something to look forward to and rejoice in.
I've gotten lots of ideas, taken advantage of Christmas and St. Valentine's clearance sales (thus why her party is a week and a half after her actual birthday of Feb 11th) and have gotten to work letting the creative juices run wild...
There are just two things.
Two little things.
A ONE and a TWO thing... a sort of Thing ONE and Thing TWO kind of things.
These things make it a little challenging to get a house clean and ready and decorations made and "decorated" in time for a party.
For example... I emptied the dishwasher yesterday and blocked off the kitchen with bins of clothes I was putting away (they're both between sizes and we're switching clothes around) ...sounds easy enough right?
Empty the dishwasher.
When I turned around the neatly folded clothes had been removed from the bins and decorated the living room floor. Did I mention they had been given graham crackers as a snack beforehand? (What the heck was I thinking?) Graham cracker crumbs and pieces nicely mushed and mixed in with the once neatly folded clothes. The shoes they had outgrown that had been packaged in labeled bags of each size? Those shoes had been removed as well and mixed into the clothing/graham cracker pile... and the toys... everywhere. What could I do? If you had seen those two faces smiling back at me, happily playing "mommy" with their piles of clothes and toys and shoes... I decided nap time was right around the corner.
I had emptied the dishwasher to load the pile of dishes that decorated the kitchen counter, the counter that I needed to clear off so I could clean it and use to make cupcakes for Clara's party (thought I'd make them a couple of days ahead of time).
I also wanted to make banana bread with some bananas that had become very ripe the last few days and were sitting on said counter.
Somehow the cupcakes never got made. The whole day rolled like that.
But I have till Sunday, right?
Today however (a day later) I DID get the banana bread muffins made.
I made them slooooooooowly with Ava who stood on her chair because she couldn't reach the counter even on her stepstool and was dressed in only her Dora pull up and apron lovingly made by her Grama for her birthday. Ava, who loves to bake with Mommy and who I promised could "help" me.
Ava, who is learning to be a great little cook and practices using her listening ears while we measure and mix and stir ingredients and spend precious time together and learn all sorts of things (and I do too).
Clara sits or plays nearby pulling every piece of toy food/utensils/pots and pans out of their toy kitchen...
Plumber in our future???
...and then moves on to each of my cabinets littering the floor with bowls and tupperware and every trash bag we own from out of the cabinets to ...around my feet.
We're making memories, though ...and I want them to be "good" ones.
I could've yelled and screamed and went a little nutso about the mess, but those are not the memories I want to make when they remember what it was like to prepare for a birthday party. It's not supposed to be about the "show" for everyone else and to look perfect for everyone else while my chidren meanwhile have to bear all the daggers and wounds I inflicted on them verbally or through my dismissiveness because I had to "get things done" and they were in my way.
I've been trying to make decorations and garlands to beautify the house for the party and as I strung woolen balls I got on sale together into a lovely garland, Clara would grab it and shove them into her mouth and begin to walk away and Ava wanted to play with it ...and the string got all tangled ...and wet.
...and I got frustrated and lost my temper for a few minutes because I now had to untie what seemed like a million knots and all I wanted to do was to string one stinking garland!!!
And then I realized...
...all they wanted to do was help. All they wanted to do was touch the pretty birthday party things. All they wanted to do was be with Mommy. Actually, they wanted to be "like" mommy. Quickly I regained my sanity and got down to eye level and hugged Ava and said, "I'm sorry, Ava. I'm really sorry I used my big voice. Do you forgive Mommy?" "Yes Mommy".
Then we both continued on and I remembered what was most important. These little "things" around my feet and in my heart and made from my body... these little "things" running everywhere and touching everything...
...are more important than this little pretty "thing" in my hands that I would hang up for a day and perhaps no one would even notice.
I've been trying to wrap gifts and string paper chains and sort papers that have piled up to file away so the desks and tabletops can be cleared for company. ...but Clara LOVES to EAT paper. Seriously she loves it. LOVES paper!!! Every single piece of paper she can get her little hands on (which is why the desk and counter-tops and tabletops are littered with everything we can get away from her). And Ava? Ava LOVES to color on paper (and lately floors too), so when I tell her she is only to color on PAPER, she wants to color on all the papers I'm working with and I'm sure she wonders why does Mommy get to play with pretty papers and she doesn't... so that means it's time to break out paper and coloring for Ava and crayons ...and then Clara's eating crayons and whatever I was doing ...well... doesn't get done.
But we're making memories. And Ava's coloring "aloons" (balloons) for La-la (Clara) and helping mommy and singing Happy Birthday to her sister and pictures for Daddy when he comes home from work. So what if we don't have so many paper chains. So what.
And I've had all these ideas and all my big creative ideas are taking FOR-EHHHH-VERRRR to get done because my husband works from 4am and when he gets home later at night we want "family time".
It's taking FOR-EH-VAH because as quickly as I get laundry done, I have an entire floor FULL of clean laundry (they're "folding" and "playing" and "using the shirts as blankets to put the babies to sleep"),
and blocks everywhere (I mean EVERYWHERE)
...because they're building castles for Jesus and Mary to live in and using the blocks to build our family ("That's Daddy and that's Mommy and that's Ava and that's Clara and that's Gabriel and that's Jesus and that's Mary!!!!" -Ava) and so on and on and on.
I mean seriously... it takes forever to get ANYthing done!!!
But we're making memories.
...besides. How can I tell my two year old NOT to get frustrated with Clara when she knocks her towers over again and again and again and again and AGAINNNNN... If I get all frustrated because they just unfolded my laundry again and again and again and again and AGAIN???? I might as well teach my two year old to spell "h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-e" at the same time and show her my picture next to the word in case she needs a living example. I'm her mother. I'm her model. In essence my "towers" are being "knocked down all day" (figuratively speaking) by these little ones who are just wanting to do what I'm doing (like Clara wants to do what Ava's doing) and they're just learning boundaries and I teach them that through consistency and patience and my modeling better than through my irritation with them. It's moments like this that I realize why God called me to the vocation of marriage and am in wonder of how he uses the simplest things to teach me about myself and help me to grow. He's so patient with me as I'm learning... I must be the same way with my children as they learn and grow.
Last night we were playing and building and I was reflecting on all of this and this special time with them and what I want them to think about when they remember celebrating another member of our family and I want them to remember the JOY! I want them to be excited when we celebrate one another because of the joy they remember that comes with getting ready for birthdays.... not the stress... the joy part.
Sooooo, as I was chatting with Shaun today and he was telling me how he's come down sick and I knew he was probably going to need to just come home and go to bed tonight because he had to work tomorrow (Saturday... the day before the party... ALLLLLL day). I said something like, "You know what honey? It's ok. I've been thinking... If it doesn't all get done... it doesn't all get done. That's it!
I don't want my children to remember me all stressed out. I want them to be involved and happy and see the joy we have celebrating Clara. I don't want them to feel like I'm upset with them over something so silly as "decorations". And if everything doesn't look perfect, so what? It NEVER looks perfect. I have a ONE year old and a TWO year old! I can barely get the basic house chores done! I'm not worried about it. And you know what else? IF it doesn't all get done... no one will know! NO ONE WILL KNOW!!! Because they don't know what ideas I had made up in my head! They can't see what's in there and what I hoped it would look like. So that's that! I'll just do my best and it all works out in the end."
And it does.
And now? Now, I don't feel stressed.
I feel happy.
Happy to celebrate the birth and first awesome year with Clara Rose.
Happy to spend my days with these sweet "Things"
Happy for all the distractions and disruptions that remind me to put what's most important first.
Happy for a home that reminds me when it's "overly-full" of how blessed we are with family and friends! Overflowingly blessed!
Happy for such an understanding, wonderful, patient and supportive husband.
Happy for the memories I get to make with him and these beautiful children in this life we've been given together.
Happy for Banana bread muffins with Ava.
Happy to eat them while we sit together and watch a video cuddling on the couch (even though I still have a bunch of "things" to do).
Happy for Block towers for Jesus and Mary and the gift of knowing that my girls both know who they are. Ava loves to build castles for them and Clara points to every picture of Jesus in the house an says "Jeeeshhh" and kisses him.
Happy for laundry everywhere and clothing piles that remind me how blessed I am with the generous people who have given us clothes and gifts for our girls in such abundance that my cup literally spilleth over my whole house!!!
Happy for February babies that give us the opportunity to celebrate this month of love with such love for her.
Happy for a million little things.... but especially Thing ONE and Thing TWO that I spend each day with.
So... If you happen to celebrate with us this weekend or anytime you come to visit, if there are "things" out of place or something seems to be missing, just know it's because we love our "things" and know either way, We're Happy you're here!!!