A tummy full of second helpings.

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josephine was tossing and turning in her pack n play tonight while i was climbing a mountain of laundry. i would say conquering it, but it is so high, first i must climb it to conquer it.

and as much as i would return to her and stroke her face and shush her sweetly, her eyes would not remain closed, and she would not go to sleep.

i had literally just nursed her.

you have to understand.  my daughter is off the charts huge.  but for as big as she is (6 months old), she hardly nurses and eats very little solids.  i am just a solid cream cow.  all 3 of my nursing babies proved it to be true.  my sister always said i produce whole milk.  i believe her!

so, when i say i had just nursed my baby, that means she was probably fed a 5 course meal in one sitting.

yet, tossing and turning and turning and tossing took place.

and crying.  she kept looking at me and would cry.

technically i could have just let her cry herself to sleep.  or i could have rocked her to sleep.  but i did something else that i have not had to do too many times in her 6 short months of life.  i nursed my baby again.  she cradled right into my bosom, falling asleep.

and while she nursed, i rocked her.  i cradled her.  i hugged her.  and i cherished the moment.

and while i was holding my baby against my chest, i thought, “how blessed josephine is.”

not because i am her mom.

blessed because my baby was hungry, and i could feed her.

so many babies go to bed every night hungry, and here my daughter got a second helping of what it was she so obviously needed.

and it made me sad and grateful simultaneously.  sad for the children that are hungry.  and grateful that my daughter got exactly what she needed.

and so what remains is for me, for rich, for my children, for our foundation to work on the other part—work on making sure that other children, to the best of our ability, also go to bed fed…

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stay tuned for more about this later and how you too can be involved!

What’s wrong with calling your daughter a princess?

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I believe princesses often get the shaft.

There are so many blog postings and articles out there that often make you feel bad for declaring your daughter your princess. They make you feel an ill-fitting parent if you tell your daughter she’s pretty.  And they make you feel plain ol’ bad when you dress your gal in pink.

It gets tiring.  And disheartening.

So, to you moms and dads out there that call your daughter your princess, tell her she’s pretty, and dress her in pink, I am here to say, I’ve got your back!

You see, I have two princesses, and I am their queen.

And this is why I have absolutely no problem with any of the above…

A princess is a highly celebrated figure that is akin to a national treasure.  Wow and crowds surround her, and she is held in high esteem.

Yep.  My daughters are two of my greatest treasures.  With each birth I was in wow.  My family crowded around them.  And to say that I hold them in high esteem is an understatement.  I hold them in the highest esteem!

A princess usually dresses her part while teaching the world how to act, behave, and serve others.

My princesses do the same.  They dress their part.  Sometimes it’s frilly for finer occasions and other times it’s muddy because “their part” is being kids.

Daily my princesses teach me how to act and behave.  When I act and behave appropriately, I see it in their mirroring of me.  When I do not, I see it in their mirroring of me.  And when I don’t like what I see, my princesses bring me back to reality, and I learn to change my ways.

My princesses serve others.  The older learns how to serve with actions, whether it is her daddy, or brother, or sister, or stranger.  She is daily learning and growing to put others before herself.

And my littlest.  Well, since she’s 6 months and rotund, she serves with eye-losing smiles.  And coos.  And cuddles.  And laughter.

Both of my princesses serve to the best of their abilities for their particular stations in life.  And they serve well!

My princesses are pretty.  They’re not just pretty, they’re beautiful.  They’re not just beautiful, they’re stunning.  Speechlessly stunning.

Beauty is always in the eye of the beholder.  And I, as their mommy, will always be (partnered with their daddy, of course), their greatest admirer.  I want my daughters to be intelligent and strong and beautiful on the inside, but I have never in my entire life, never, ever, ever, met a girl grown into a woman, who has not wanted to be told she was and is beautiful.  My princesses will grow into their internal beauty, but my princesses will never doubt their external beauty.

You see, as a parent, it does not matter the physical exterior of your child, for, to you, your child that graces your lap is the most beautiful gift God could have ever given you.  Her beauty will always be beyond measure.

And my princesses will always be the most beautiful gifts to me.

Yes.  I believe that princesses often get the shaft.

But, my daughters, my princesses, will hold their heads high, with strength in their backs, and always know…

No matter where.

No matter what.

No matter how they do in life, they will always be my distinguished princesses, and I—I will always be their mommy queen.

You could see my naked bum at the palace!

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Okay. So it wasn’t my naked bum, but it very well could have been.

You see. I am married to a pastor. And he has been the pastor of an international church for round about 12+ years. And with great strength comes great responsibility. No, wait. That’s Spiderman.

With an international church comes great weddings! Oh, yeah. That sounds more like our slogan.

And a great wedding it was…At the palace in Wasowo, Poland.

You read that correctly. A palace. Pretty spanking awesome, eh?!

Funny thing is, the couple that married, yep. You mine as well call me the matchmaker from Fiddler on the Roof. No. I really didn’t have anything to do with them falling in love, but the guy came from America to work with our foundation here in Poland. And we had him and his teammates stay with us for a week, where they got to go to our church, henceforth meeting his future bride. So, in a very far-fetched round about way, Cody and Zofia, you are most welcome for your love!

Okay, okay.  Again, I had nothing to do with their fairytale romance.  I just love receiving accolades I really didn’t earn.

But back to them falling in love and having their wedding in a palace.  And my bum on display—canvas, mind you—at that palace.

So, we were gifted a room at the palace for the evening, and we were so excited about that.  Excited and very grateful.  It had been a long journey back to Poland.  And then a long first two weeks in Poland.  The travels to the palace promised to be the ice cream on top of our sundae of travels!

Sure enough.  We arrive to a sprawling estate.  Rolling hills, beautiful lake, gorgeous palace, play area for kids, and a wedding spectacular.

We were given our room key.  And we entered.  That’s when I saw it!  The oil painting displayed right next to our bed.

A woman.  About my age.  Naked as the day she was born.  Lying on her stomach on a sofa.  Lounging with her bum for the entire world to see.

To be fair, at the time of the painting, perhaps she thought only her husband would see.  After all, I am sure oil paintings back then were not the “social media sharing” of the century.  Or were they?  Did she know that one day her bum would go viral?  Probably not.

Anyhow, I took one look at that photo.  And then another.  And then I became a student of that picture.  I looked at the woman.  And her body.  And her cool confidence.  No, I am not saying lie around naked and allow others to put you on canvases.

I am simply saying this…She was about my age.  And her body was about my shape.  If not just a wee-bit shapelier.

She had curves.  And she had life (also known as more curves than necessary).

Her bum was not toned and fit.  It was squishy and real.

And I liked it.

I liked that the oil canvas in my room next to our bed was not a photoshopped picture like those you see on display in magazines.

I liked that the original oil painting in our room was an unedited version of a beautiful woman displayed in all of her splendor.

Her real bum was beautiful.  And it gave me just enough pep to take a good look at where my body is today and say, “Brooke, your bum in all of it’s aging glory, its birthed children stretch marks, and it’s inability to lose weight like you did when you were twenty…Your bum is beautiful too!”

Don’t worry, though, Mom.  I won’t hang my bum on an oil painting on a wall in a palace.

Although, now that I think about it, one day, a hundred or so years from now, some woman may think that my bum, in all of its “birth day” splendor, as inspiring-ly beautiful too.

Richard, go get your brushes and paint!

Mommies, Remember we need to dance with our children, too.

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We just moved back to Poland 2 weeks ago this past Tuesday. And today I have actually been just enjoying a chill and unpack slowly day. Richard, my better half of crazy, and Ada (our 8-year-old first child) were in Poznan, Maxwell (our 2-year-old middle child) was sleeping, and Josephine (our 6-month-old baby) was rolling around on the floor.

I’ll fly away came on the radio, and I immediately stopped what I was doing and scooped Josephine in my arms. So many times we think that all daddies need to remember to take time to stop and dance with their daughters. But what about the mommies? Are we less responsible for taking the time to dance with our babies???

So I did it. I stopped what I was doing and scooped up my daughter. I held her in my arms. She held my face. We danced all around the living room, twirling and spinning and tilting our heads back and smiling.

I sang to her smiling face, “Some glad morning when this life is over…I’ll fly away!”

One day I will leave behind my daughter. I will fly away. My savior’s face I will see.

But, in the meantime, while I am still here, I want her to remember me. I want her to remember the song.

And I want her to remember the time her mommy stopped to twirl, sing, and dance with her daughter.

You know your husband has been away when…

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So today I fed my son lunch.  He is the cutest thing.  But he ate his chips (of course) first and his blueberries next.  His strawberries and hot dog remained on his plate.  And then he did what any normal human would do—he asked for more chips (I mean, come on, we all love salty potato chips).

I said, “No.”

And then he started to cry.

Typical response of a toddler who has been told no.  So I was not worried.  Not only was it typical, it showed me that it was time for the little man to head to bed.  Nap time.  Obviously he had good food in front of him:  strawberries and hot dog (okay, the hot dog is questionable), and he didn’t eat.  Therefore, my mommy sense picked up that he was tired.

So I did what I would do any other day…I said, “Okay, Maxie…Nap time!”  He didn’t object.  I prepared his milk (coconut milk—the boy has a dairy allergy) and got him down to change his diaper before his nap.

That’s when the man of the house came along…”You want more chips, Max?  Okay.  Eat a couple hot dog bites and strawberries for daddy and I’ll give you more chips.”  Boy walks dad to the pantry and points to the chips.

Oh no!  Sinking ship—and fast!!!  Where are your water pails???  Because it became a tsunami of tears.

“Chips, Dadda!  Chips!”

“Eat 2 bites of hot dog for Dadda.  You are two.  One.  Two.  Eat two bites.”

“Chiiiiiiipppppppps, Dadda!”

Crocodile tears are now cascading down his cheeks.

“Maxie, do you want chips?  You have to eat your strawberries and two bites of hot dog for Dadda.”

“CHIPS!”  Waterworks galore.

At this point, my husband looks at me, “Should I give him chips?”

“Yes.  Give him chips.”  The toddler has won.

One.  Two.  Chips for the sobbing toddler.  Mommy packed up the hot dog and ate the strawberries herself.

“Moh (for more) chips, Dadda!” As I sweep him out of the bar stool and proceed to change his diaper.

Yes, you know that your husband has been away when you try and stick to the routine you have been doing on your own for the past month and in an instant there is another factor—the Daddy factor.  And all of what you have been doing gets flipped upside down and inside out.  And daddy gets suckered in.

But, you know, in the end, I would rather my son take my husband by the hand and lead him to the pantry and ask for more chips, while leaving a perfectly good uneaten lunch on his plate.

Why?  You may wonder.

Because that means daddy is home to ask.  And there is nothing more grand than that.

Except, perhaps, chips…

 

Do Everything With So Much Love In Your Heart…

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I just saw this tonight.  It struck such a chord in my heart.  I want to live this life.

I want to be known by this life.

I want others to see this in my life.

Love.

I pray that you do too.

Live lives that become the epitome of love.

Love for God.

Love for family.

Love for friends.

Love for others.

Love for self.

Make it habit hard to break.

Be known by it.

Beautiful, glorious love!