Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Doing these real mom confessions with y'all has made me acutely aware of how fast these weeks fly back. How did you do this week? Mine felt busy with not a lot of extra time to breathe. In fact, last night I decided it was perfectly acceptable to let the dirty dishes lie and read my bible study instead. I went to bed with the counter a mess but woke up refreshed. Give yourself a break where you need it, too.

On to real mom confessions.

1. Fish death. Hallelujah! We begin where we left off with confession two last week. Remember how my children were so in love with these fish? Well, Hank went to meet his Maker. We had a floater. Meanwhile, the bowl started to stink something fierce. It was nauseating. I don't even drink but if I did I imagine the sensation I had around this bowl is what drunkenness is like. A bowl cleaning had to go down and I was not the person for the job because....gross. My love has limits. I googled "how to clean a fish bowl" so my man could be the hero and this came up? I mean, seriously, who has time to put that much effort into 38 cent fish? As I read it aloud my hubby's eyes got so big I cried real tears laughing.

That night we put the girls to bed and Grace says, "I'm getting a little misty eyed thinking of Hank."
Me: I'm sorry, honey. I'm getting a little misty eyed thinking we have three fish still alive.

Probably not my finest parenting moment but she laughed.

The fish pressed on Friday. The bowl already stunk again. My prayer request became very specific. Jesus take these fish. Take them from my home. 

Saturday morning we had three more floaters. I jumped with joy. Meanwhile Grace and Hannah did this

Oh my gosh, you guys, I had a goldfish memorial ON MY DINING ROOM TABLE. How long does a good mom leave the memorial on the dining room table? I asked myself and a few friends. I'm still not sure the answer on that, but the flower was shriveled and dead Sunday night so I had the girls repeat after me, "Thank you, Lord, for the time with our fish. Now it is through."

The fish bowl is clean and back in the garage never to be used again.

2.  Coffee without grounds. I made coffee without grounds and still drank it. 8am sports should be illegal on a Saturday. Enough said.

3. "You don't take me to the doctor when I break bones." This is what one of my blessings said last night in front of a bunch of other moms at dance. Awesome. Allow me to clarify my fellow mothers and teachers of her school - because stuff like this always comes out in free writing - I do take her to the doctor every time it is NECESSARY. She did fall off her scooter earlier in the summer and may have broken a bone but when I called into the doctor's office our pediatrician said based of her ability to still move it without bad pain they wouldn't splint it or do anything special anyway because it wouldn't change the healing process. I did my due diligence. Yesterday, the aforementioned child, fell again on the scooter when she hit uneven cement and her hand hurt but it had minimal swelling and no bruising plus she could move it enough to not want ice on it and play outside with her friends. I think she's fine but if that turns out not to be true I will bring her in because we would never forego necessary medical treatment. In other news, beware of scooter danger.

4. "I need to get on my man..." This is what I said to a committee chair at school who is donating some prizes for All Pro Dad, which the love of my life is leading at our girls'  school this year. In my defense, I meant in terms of his plan for prizes but this lady, who has the best sense of humor, totally burst out laughing, taking it a whole different way. Did I mention we were in the school office when this transpired? :) Hilarity all around.

Kidding aside, I can't wait to watch Charlie thrive in this role. He is so passionate about the program and eager to grow in this opportunity. He's creating a folder and thinking through food and even took a vacation day the day before his first meeting to make sure he has everything ready. I married well.

I'll be supporting you with my, "This girl loves her Charlie," shirt, babe!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday! Life has felt like a casserole this week. Lots of random ingredients that make days warm the soul. From the sharing of tears with people I care about over dreams broken and prayerful hopes unfulfilled to joint celebration over a new Dr. Seuss field trip I'm offering at the dance studio to volunteering in classrooms, laundry piles and an air conditioning system that went out on the seemingly HOTTEST day in September. From Ava learning to write 5's, to talking puberty, to quiet and crazy family moments...I'm better for the makings of this week.

So what went down?

1. Falling at Family Fun Night. Yes, I literally went down. Our school puts on the most awesome event each year (thanks to dedicated volunteers) for entire families to come and have fun. This year it happened to be a particularly windy night and someone's plate blew away. In a split second move I decided that it would be heroic of me to chase the plate. In my mind's eye, I'm already looking pretty ridiculous. When I finally caught up to the plate I put my sandal over it in secure position only it wasn't so secure and my FEET WENT OUT FROM UNDER ME, causing me to fly into the air (now most definitely looking ridiculous) and land in a million directions. You guys, my knee was skinned. My leggings have a hole in them. My arm is bruised. And, I scraped nail polish off my feet AND fingers. How is that even possible?! I popped up like a pop-tart and returned to the volunteer table with decision that plate littering with abandon was the way to go the rest of the night. Sorry, God, I promise I love your earth. It's a good thing I never tried to play soccer.

2. Fish. My children won three of them this week. They were ECSTATIC! So, we get these fine little goldfish home and begin tending to them. They weren't looking overly happy so we put them in a plastic Christmas Tupperware

But even Jesus with us could not save these fish. They preferred life with their Maker and were all floating by 11:30PM.

What is a parent to do? Replacement fish. That is what this parent decided we were doing so I texted my man and asked him to go to Walmart at MIDNIGHT and get three new goldfish, which he did, only he ACCIDENTALLY GRABBED FOUR so we were busted before we even lied. I didn't want to get into the whole birds and the bees/they had a baby thing so we just called our bluff. They didn't care in the least because they were now up one fish.

Then, as I'm making their breakfast, Hannah says, "What's skinny dipping?"

Because my man included this sign.

I explain that it's a joke because fish don't wear clothes but we will always keep our clothes on and practice modesty. This is when I desperately begin to pray that anything about this will die. Much like the original fish. Only when I picked the girls up from school, Hannah told me she told Mrs. H, her former kindergarten teacher, all about the sign. Thanks, love.

3. Block towers. Ava is into the "Let's build a block tower" phase. I can do this for a short while but after like, say, our millionth tower, I'm kinda ready to move on. My solution, I started singing "Who Stole the Cookies from the Cookie Jar" with her. Never mind that there were only two of us. Desperate moms are creative people. We made up different voices for our family and friends like you were here. Are you wondering if you were one of them? You'll never know :)

4. Whip Nae Nae. I'm choreographing the musical at school and thought I'd be cutting edge cool by adding in the whip nae nae move. Jimmy Fallon did it during his lip sync battle so, clearly, I'd learned from the hippest. However, when I unveiled my cool to my girls they informed I was "doing it all wrong."

I axed it but laughed over the story with the music teacher who doubles as a friend. Later that night I get a text from her that all these 4th/5th grade boys are whip nae naeing (if that isn't a word I predict it makes the dictionary next year) at the football game. So what do I do? STUDY Silentó's music video. Ava even asked me to read to her and the words, "Hold on, honey, as soon as I know how to whip nae nae I can read to you" came out of my mouth. Shame on me. Plus I was saying his name like silencio, as though it meant quiet in Spanish or something, and that is totally wrong. Thankfully his music video helped me with that too. I'm not cutting edge cool, but I'll have the kids duped anyway. Mrs. F, it's in. We shall whip nae nae with the best of 'em.

Each week I find myself surprised by the number of you who tell me you can't wait for these confessions. That they're good for your soul. If I may drop all sarcasm for just a moment, I'd like to suggest that maybe it's because it highlights what we all know to be true. We're all imperfect hot messes. We strive so hard to be the perfect everything raising the perfect children and Satan uses that imagined standard to shake us with doubt. You're not enough. You're a failure. WHATEVER, friends. You are a human in a pinterest perfect world. Yes we fall. Yes we make parenting mistakes. Yes our kids have missteps. But, you are HIS. Your confessions fall into the arms of grace. So give yourself and the person next to you a break. Hang with each other in the laughter, crazy, calm, and tears because we all live there. And, just keep swimmin.'

xx Melissa

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Book Every Parent of an 8-10 Year Old Girl Should Own

When I found out September was resource month on Mothers of Daughters I immediately knew what I needed to share with you.

The Care & Keeping of You 1: The Body Book for Younger Girls was introduced to me by a good friend who has a daughter ahead of mine. It’s an amazing resource for girls whose bodies are beginning to grow and change.

I know. Deep breath, mamas.

This American Girl book brilliantly introduces puberty through a marvelous mix of simple, non-threatening messages like the importance of a good night of sleep, why you need to brush your hair, and wearing sunscreen with “biggies” like picking a bra and getting your period.

Author Dannah Gresh states 40% of girls starting their periods have never heard about it from their own parents. This is a problem. If we can’t even go to them with the most basic details of God’s design how do we expect them to feel comfortable coming to us to discuss (and parent them through) temptations and life-changing relationship decisions?

I think much of our modern day struggle is the need to discuss these expected changes with girls who are not necessarily of age for the complete birds and bees chat.  Breast buds and bras feel manageable. But, how do we introduce the more significant changes to developing girls who still play like children? Most girls are menstruating now at 12. Some as early as eight.

To finish reading please visit MODSquad here

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

It's Wednesday! We made it through another week, friends! I've been looking forward to writing this real mom confessions post all day because I find myself laughing as I write....and laughter is just good for the soul.

So, starting off

1. Messed up supper. That is right I've thrown balanced out the window for tonight and mama don't care. My man is on his way back from a work trip and when he is gone Mac & Cheese for supper it is. Somehow the joy of getting the best meal in a box makes life more doable for my kids on days he is gone so I go with it. Hannah just asked to have Sun Chips on the side and I said, "sure." I'm sure there are some valuable grains it will add to her meal.  We'll get back to balanced tomorrow when our family is balanced again :)

2. Arrays. Remember my back to school edition last week? Well, now that we are in the swing of things I've already been made to realize how little I know. I think every time they change terminology in a school system a new "explanation for you dinosaurs," for example, should come home. Grace got her first math homework identifying arrays in the home. This is how that went down:
Her: Can you help me find some arrays?
Me: Like arrays of plates or arrays of dolls or what?
{She looks at me with a "how in the world did you pass elementary school" look}
Her: Mom, it's for multiplication.


Then she goes to her dad, "Mom didn't know what an array was today."
He looks at me all proud that he might know an English word his author wife doesn't. "You mean a wide array of items?"

She shook her head and I flat out celebrated. Nice try, babe!

3. My robe. These days are exhausting. Adjusting to back to school rigor is no joke for the kids or the parents. Needless to say, once I'm done going places for the day, I'm just done. PJs and my robe it is. Checking out. The other night the kids were outside so I tried to angle myself around the window when I kindly yelled out, "Kids, it's time to come in for supper" and one goes, "Are you in your robe?" The horror. Yes, dear loves, I am and I suggest you come in and get in yours too. Sleep is a beautiful thing :)

And in the spirit of food while my glorious Mac & Cheese boils,

4. Petrified pretzels. The tiny tot (who started preschool so no longer so tiny) was waiting for her sisters at dance the other night and pulls out a pretzel treat. You guys, they were from recital. In May. "Ava, those are going to be so gross. Don't put that in your mouth." She doesn't care and tries it. "It's good," she tells me. I can't imagine it to be true so I tried one. Oh my stars, they tasted like communion wafers. Into the garbage. Sorry, kid.

So there's some real life from the Nesdahl house this week. I hope you had a great one!

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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Jesus, Choices, & Learning to Ride a Bicycle

This summer my four year old pronounced that she wanted the training wheels off her bike.

I met this announcement with equal parts excitement and fear. It is fun to see children make strides but my hubby’s rule that once they’re off they stay off also made this a scary move. I am the one home with them during the day and I could already hear the crying and carrying on of a girl unable to ride with all the neighborhood kids if this didn’t go well.

As Ava put on the knee pads and wrist guards and helmet, I started with natural words of praise. They weren’t enough. Now, I don’t know what led me to think I needed to be outside for this training because I never was with the previous two, but I did. So, I moved on to the next parenting move every honest parent knows. Bribery. “Ava, when you learn how to ride your bike you can pick ice cream from any place you want to celebrate.”

I knew CherryBerry was in my future.

With her goal in mind, Ava mounted the bike and moved her little legs from her daddy towards me. Only, as she would get going, she’d look to where the action was and fall.

“Eyes up, Ava. Keep your eyes up.”

Back toward her dad she went, trying so very hard, but again taking her focus off where it needed to be and crashing.

This went on and on, my frustration growing as I saw neighborhood playtime turning into an epic meltdown. Come on, sweetheart, eyes on the prize. And then I officially lost my marbles.

“Ava, you know the story of Peter in the Bible? Jesus was out on the water in front of him telling him to come. When Peter would look down, he’d sink. But, if he kept his eyes up, he was able to walk on the water. Keep your eyes up and you will ride without difficulty. It will be so great. But, if you only focus on what is happening in the moment you will fall.”

She looked at me like I had four eyes and my man slapped his hand over his mouth to stop laughter. “Point well taken, honey,” he recovered, “but I’m not sure it’s going to help her ride the bike.”

Touché. I think God brought the story to mind more for me than her. What Ava was struggling with and I wished for her to immediately get right so mirrored the human condition.

There are times when we are all trying to move through life with sight on the best when we get distracted by a moment, a feeling. This happens with sexual temptations, alcohol and drugs, decisions made with friends, things we’re looking at, financial concerns, job status, medical situations, worry (dear Lord, am I guilty of that final one), and the list goes on and on and on. The overwhelming of the moment pulls our eyes from the One who says, “look at me,” and we crash.

Chill out and ease up on her, woman. Her struggle is yours and everyone else’s.

She was trying. We try. And sometimes we don’t get it quite right.

As is the case with the bike, sometimes we get bumps and bruises along the way. Sometimes physical and emotional scars that can never be fully healed.

But that isn’t the end of our story.

I watched my incredibly patient husband pick up the bike and dust Ava off. “It’s okay. Let’s try again.”

Oh my gosh, there is nothing hotter than a father nurturing the heart of his child.

He steadied her bike. He pointed to the goal. The same goal as before because she is still capable.

What can’t always be erased from an earthly perspective is from the heavenly.

Like Ava, going to her daddy, listening to his voice, believing that he still believed in her, we go to our Heavenly Daddy and he cheers, “It’s okay. Let’s try again.”

Maybe you fell off the bike. Emotion suctioned you in and you took your eyes off the prize. Well, I have good news, you don’t need to give up or settle. You can saddle back up with your eyes on the Best.

It’s okay. Let’s try again.

You have a God who believes in you.

C’mon, Ava! CherryBerry awaits :)

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Real Mom Confessions: Back to School

It's official. The Nesdahl household is back to school. We are THRILLED! The kids love their teachers + classrooms and I've already gotten opportunity to get in and help. Lifting teachers up in their huge role is a blessing so if you have ability to help in some way make sure you get in and do it! Friday I'm helping edit writing. *insert me doing the happy dance*

While we welcome this change, there have been a few painful moments during adjustment mode this week.

1. Wake Up Time. I actually apologized out loud to myself about setting the alarm for wake up time. After a summer of sleeping in, it was brutal. The first morning it went off and the girls came up at the proper time I barked at them to go back to bed or we would all be crabby. Ironically, the crabby one was me. Oops.

2. Back to School Night. Before the school year begins our district has a night set to go to your child's school, hear teacher presentations, get spirit wear, etc. I read the emails on this but apparently my mind, which was tired from the startling wake time (refer to #1), didn't exactly compute. So, when I went thinking we were arriving for session two it was, in fact, session three. I shooed my hubby out of the room with Hannah and we went with the divide and conquer method.

3. Lunch time. Today my oldest turned ten Double digits! and we were going to get her for a special lunch. My hubby asked me what time her lunch was this morning and I confidently said noon. Then I checked and it was 12:10. Whatever. I can't keep track of all these changing lunch hours every year. It is just too much. In my defense we would have been early but then the food establishment of Grace's choice had all payment machines go down as we were sitting in the drive through. Bless it.

4. Assignment Notebooks. I'm all for these. I love knowing what is going on and it is a great method of communication in my daughter's class between parent and teacher but this is like my homework every night and I have not been a student for many, many years. I have to bring those routine muscles back and that is very hard for me. Remember #1? It's all happening so fast. Needless to say, if I would forget, my very stereotypical firstborn would be devastated. So, I'm relying on modern technology

That's right. A nice little daily reminder :) 

How has back to school adjustment gone for you?

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Laying Down of Dreams & Process of Becoming

My hubby and I moved into our home a year after we got married. He told our apartment landlord that we were moving out and the search was on. It was the most opinionated I’ve seen him on anything besides our dog not wearing clothes.

We found our house on the Parade of Homes. A new construction with only one house nearby. It felt huge to us and perfectly right. The location lent itself to walks to the library and pool and school for children we were already praying for. The newness of the area felt symbolic of dreams to come. Everything around us was new.

The first time we walked into our house the carpet was perfectly white, covered by a fine layer of plastic despite the sign to take shoes off upon entering. I sat down in the middle of the living room and imagined my life. Where things would go. What colors I would splash on the wall to represent our style and the splash we might make on the world.

Everything was perfectly planned.

Doctor. Mom of two by the time I’m 30. Super easy groceries so I don’t seriously burn my arm again making complex delicacies like frozen pizza. I think we can all agree my ability to cook is solid proof miracles happen.

I was standing in the kitchen when the MCAT scores arrived and I honestly felt like I could hear God saying, “This isn’t for you.” I was on the living room floor pasting cards into a scrapbook to process the pain of losing a baby we wouldn’t get to meet. Years later I'd finally see a second line on a pregnancy test in the bathroom. I was at the counter when the doctor’s office called and said to come for an ultrasound. I was with my mom in the spare bedroom painting pastel when I realized what a miracle God performed in me. I’d be blessed to do the same with baby number two and three. Thank you, Jesus. I kissed my husband in the driveway when my first published book arrived with my name on the cover. I peered through the front windows when I saw him leave hand in hand for All Pro Dad.  I watched him get excited about a revolving tie rack in our bedroom because he’d get to wear a suit every day to his new job. He’d eye me moving with our girls to prep self-designed dance classes to build families up. He’d stand in the entry way with a pink leather bag “for PTA” and we'd both laugh because it was the last thing he thought he'd ever say to me. We’d hang a picture of the sanctuary we said, “I do” in at the end of the hallway together. We’d spread a blanket across the family room floor every Friday night for family movie night & routinely end it with a family dance party during the credits. We’d all write daily thanks on the table cloth. 

Life happened here.

Dreams. Tears. Joy. Struggle. Wrestling….

With a God who was teaching me becoming.

These weeks have been quieter on the blog because we laid new dreams. For so many years I wanted wood flooring. It was 2012 when I posted, “If You Ever Feel Too Damaged to be Made ‘Good.’” The carpet was shot then. You can imagine what it was today.

The packing started. In Griswold fashion, we placed a tarp on the kitchen appliances and bungeed them to the deck. My hubby, father-in-law and stepfather moved furniture into the garage. My mom Murphy Oiled things to shine like new. My mother-in-law packed the china dishes gifted to us the day Charlie and I said yes to life together from the hutch.

A mess ensued and we once again sat in the middle of the living room floor. And it felt a little déjà vu-ish.

What I thought life was about.

What I’ve learned it is.

I love our new wood floors. They’re beautiful and as I type this I occasionally glance down to absorb their beauty. But more than that, I smile upward at a God who has taught me to breathe. Who has taught me that I don’t need to open the door with a known plan. For if I do, I dare say I’m shutting Him out.

In the laying down there is life.

There is space to discover in all the rooms of life we find ourselves sitting in who He created us to be. To become beautifully His and splash something meaningful on the world around us. Kingdom work we can't always foresee or even imagine.

Listen and follow His lead, friends. As I think about my dreams and life now, I’ve come to find out God’s script is pretty great.

xx Melissa

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Real Mom Confessions

Hi, everyone! I missed real mom confessions with you last week but we were knee deep in home renovation week. After years of dreaming about new floors we finally made the leap and redid most of our home. Now the project is done and, in between admiring the new wood, I'm doing the real work of putting things away. We're going through everything to see what must stay and what can go. Simplify is our mantra. It's so freeing.

On to real mom confessions.

1. Medicine cups. In the midst of cleaning out my cupboards it has become apparent to me that I haven't thrown any of these cups away since, oh, probably when my oldest was BORN.

You guys, I have more in over night bags and other places. It's ridiculous. I kept one stack.

2.  Grace and Hannah's birthday. Our church is doing a service project week, which I thought was really cool. There were tons of ways to be the hands and feet and, as I sorted through what may or may not work, Grace pointed out that it was her birthday. Oh. My. Stars. I forgot. Awesome, slap a mom fail on me. In more encouraging news I took them to pick out backpack supplies so that each child represents a backpack's worth of supplies for another child overseas. I love that. It connects their similarity to students a distance away.

3. Credit card. Our school had open house the other night. As my little second grade fashionista was processing her traumatic finding that she will have gym the first day of school, she starts talking about clothes at which point my FOUR YEAR OLD gets out a Chuck E. Cheese plastic picture card and goes, "You can just pay like this." Let me assure you Miss P, I'm uber frugal and, while I do pay with a credit card to get cash back, we pay off our bill EVERY month. Promise. Also, I'm breaking my, "you wear gym shoes on gym days" rule special for day one. She'll come in wedges and a smile. 

4. School needs to start. The kids have played amazing this summer but with many friends already in school and the excitement of their day to come still "out there" the patience tank is running low. This morning one announced, "Mom, we've decided when we get mad at each other we will just hold hands until we work it out." This sounds pretty in theory response was, "That sounds like a great way for someone to end up hurt." 

What can I say? I call it like it is :)

xx Melissa

What's been going on in your house? Have your kids started school?

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