Tuesday, May 27

Book Review: Tiny Blue Lines

I recently finished reading Tiny Blue Lines written by this sweet momma from Michigan.

I met Chaunie at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI two years ago. She was the cutest pregnant momma, expecting her third child at the time and we had some great chats about writing, children and the best things to do in Disney World (a likely combination of conversation topics for two mothers who like to read and write, but also spend a great portion of our time watching princess movies and donning tiaras for our girls).

At the time Chaunie had recently met with a publisher and was hoping her book would make its way onto their published book list.

Two years later I'm so thrilled for her and the fact that she can add published book author to her list of writing credentials! Her dream for that first book finally came to fruition and she is a gal who is all about encouraging people to pursue their dreams...even when life doesn't go exactly has planned.

Which is kind of what her sweet book is all about.

Her book, Tiny Blue Lines, is about her first pregnancy which was unplanned. Its about the questions, challenges and struggles that she faced in the process of navigating this new territory in her life.  It talks about the fears that arise when she has to tell her parents, the struggles of finishing her degree while being pregnant (she was pregnant for the majority of her senior year of college), and navigating life as a student and a soon to be mom who quickly discovers that options for help, childcare and even health insurance are complicated and lacking at best.

As she says in the book, "I was twenty-one, unmarried, a student in my senior year of college, and still taking my laundry home to my parents every weekend. The question of 'What if I'm pregnant?' quickly became 'What the heck am I going to do now?'"

In Chapter 9, aptly titled "Is There a Syllabus for Parenthood? Being a Student and a Mom", Chaunie
Having experienced life both as a pregnant student and life as a student parent, I have to say that for me, one of the hardest parts about being a pregnant students wasn't in the physical challenge of keeping my breakfast down during class, navigating an icy campus with a giant belly, or staying awake long enough to do my homework; it was feeling so completely alone. 

In addition to sharing her experience about being a pregnant student, Chuanie also candidly talks about the guilt and shame that threatened to creep in, as an unwed mom.

I wasn't prepared for all of the ways that my unplanned pregnancy would try to slowly intertwine its way into my life. I didn't realize how guilt, shame and the belief that I was irresponsible would threaten to pervade every aspect of my thinking. I've struggled with everything from fighting down waves of jealousy at "normal" baby showers and weddings to rude comments and questions if any of my children were "planned." 
 I've let my unplanned pregnancy threaten to rob me of my identity. It taunted me-- telling me I would never be more than my bare ring finger or that I wouldn't succeed, that people would always look at me as "that girl who got pregnant." 

While I have not walked in Chaunie's shoes as an expectant mom in an unplanned pregnancy, I found her story relatable and her voice to be engaging, fresh, and honest.  I enjoyed reading her journey as a mother and how she strives to make sense of balancing parenthood with her professional goals as a nurse and writer.

I think Tiny Blue Lines is an important story that needs to be included in the repertoire of books on pregnancy and motherhood.  Her story opened my eyes to the challenges of women who find themselves in the midst of an unplanned pregnancy, particularly young girls who are still in school and trying to figure out what direction their lives are heading.  I was personally surprised by some of the presumptions people made of her as a young mom and how she seems to have navigated  many of those situations with grace and persistence.

Chaunie was sweet enough to send along a copy of her book for me to giveaway here!

Thanks Chaunie!

If you would be interested in reading Tiny Blue Lines, or know someone who happens to be currently be in a position to need the encouragement of  Tiny Blue Lines (perhaps they are currently facing the challenges of unplanned pregnancy or even navigating life afterwards) leave a comment below! I'll leave the giveaway open for a week and select a winner next Tuesday.

If you want to read a bit more about Chaunie's book you can check it out here on Amazon.

You can also read this very interesting Q & A with Chaunie on the catholic news site Zenit.org.

She also has a great blog that you can check out over at tinybluelines.com

Sunday, May 18

Becoming the Mom You Want to Be

Here's a funny little bit of truth: Before I became a mom I believed that once you gave birth to a child you instantaneously knew how to do all things mom.

Poof. You just became mom and instantly acquired all tools, know-how, wisdom and patience right there on the spot. As if Cinderella's fairy godmother showed up and  bippity boppity boo. There you go. Mom outfits, mom-sense, mom know how. A nice little package all tied up with a sweet pink (or blue!) bow and tucked into a minivan with a correctly installed carseat.

It's ok. You can laugh.

To some degree that is true. The moment that first child is placed into your arms you are mom. You are their mom. There is noone else who holds that title, responsibility or honor. It is yours forever and it is a blessing and a gift.


The list of things you don't know is great. The list of things you don't even know that you don't know is greater.

And the time, energy, commitment, energy, stamina, did I say energy? required for the job cannot be acquired or learned ahead of time. No friends, much of this gig comes as a major surprise.

You suddenly realize three days, or three months, or seven years into it all that this requires on the job training. Training that you suddenly feel inept, inadequate and sometime too tired to engage in.

There are some days it feels a little bit like a rigorous boot camp that you had no intention of signing up for, but now find yourself smack dab in the middle of.

Or maybe you thought that boot camp actually sounded like a neat adventure, even if it would be a little stressful.  Somehow your vision of what boot camp would be was very different (and a whole lot easier) than what it actually is and you find yourself wondering if you're really cut out for this after all.

If I've learned anything in this seven year boot camp...ahem, journey...it's that:

                    1. There is SOOOO much that I don't know 
                    2. While you become a mom in title, stature and position on the day your      children are born, becoming a mom of wisdom, know-how, confidence and consistency takes years and years, maybe even a lifetime, to learn. 

I've been thinking a lot about the word becoming lately. Perhaps because I've been feeling a bit inadequate, disorganized, overwhelmed and inept at this job of stay at home mom, wife and housekeeper. The track that plays over and over in my head sounds something like this:

Geez, you should really have it together by now. You should be on time and not forget appointments.  You should have a house cleaning/management system that is working for you. You should know how to love better, be more engaged and less distracted by the "to-do" list when those sweet little faces are asking for attention. 

You shouldn't be so irritated when they call you up one. more. time because they can't sleep...the "good" mom would just go up and tickle their arm or rub their back until they slip into a deep slumber and you'd never think twice about it. 

You should have more family vacations planned and be friendlier to the neighborhood kids when they ring your doorbell...during nap time...again! 

Oh, by the way, you should be able to handle all of this and also engage in your "passions" on a regular basis, be a more consistent blogger, exercise 4+ days a week and know how to navigate the current vaccination schedule without frustrating your doctor (sorry, that was a slight soapbox rant about my doctor there!)

Goodness, you might have had an excuse six years ago, but by now?! Come on! 

I know, not very helpful, right?

Somehow I allow myself to believe that it was ok to struggle when learning how to become parents to our first child, but by number three, well, we should have this thing down!

Back to the word becoming...do you know what the formal definition is?

       Becoming- noun. Any process of change. Any change involving realization of potentialities.

We become moms on the day we give birth to our children and then we are always, always, always in the process of becoming moms throughout our lives.  Becoming the moms we want to be. The moms we hope to be. The moms God intends for us to be.

It is a journey, a process, a lifetime of learning and refining.

When I think about becoming a mom in that light if offers so much hope. So much grace. So much space to...grow.

I can let go of all of the things I'd like to be better at, or that I feel like I'm not doing well and I can put them into the bucket of the things I am working on and be ok with that. I can see my potential to be more patient, loving, organized, and energetic I can rest in the fact that I am not as stuck as I may think, but moving towards those things one day of learning at a time.

Sometimes, I think we are so capable of giving our children grace to grow and so incapable of offering it to ourselves.

It's like this quote says...

I say, lets treat ourselves the same way. 

Here's to Becoming moms! 

Wednesday, May 14

Prayers for the Sauer Family

Sometimes there are no words...

And yet, sometimes all we have is our words.

Feeble, inadequate words to express sympathies that make our guts wretch and our hearts cry. Words  written to a family that is walking  a road that no young family should have to walk.  A mom and a dad enduring things no parent should have to endure.

Tonight it feels as if all of Western New York is mourning the loss of one of the sweetest, most cherubic faced little boys I have ever encountered.  We are mourning with a family so vibrant, so firm in their faith that they, along with their sweet son, have inspired an entire community to pray with them. To laugh with them. To weep with them.

We were all hoping and praying for a big miracle. Praying and praying and praying that he would be healed here.

We now pray that God would surround the family in an incredibly big way with peace, comfort and strength that surpasses all understanding.

Hearing of Ben's passing today leaves me with so many questions...questions that may never be answered this side of heaven.

Why? Why? Why?

Why this little boy?

Why couldn't he be healed?

Why must a mom and a dad and a brother and a sister be forced to say goodbye long before they should have to?


And how?

How do they say goodbye?

How do they go on with day to day life?

How can one even imagine going to the grocery store or washing a shred of clothing when your heart is shattered into a million little pieces?

How on this earth does one knit a million little pieces together again?

I am so incredibly sad for Mindy and Andy Sauer. I am so heartbroken for his siblings,  Megan and Jack.

And I pray, that while I cannot understand any of this, or how their hearts can possibly be mended back together again, my faith compels me to believe that God is holding them, and their shattered hearts in the palm of his hand.

God is weeping with them.

Tonight, and for many days and weeks to come, we will mourn with the Sauer family and weep with them over the loss of a little boy who lit up a room with his smile.

We weep with this family and their little boy who inspired an entire community to love more deeply, believe more passionately and never, ever lose faith, no matter how hard life is.

We also know that Ben is healed, fully, and with his heavenly father. A heavenly father who restores all things.

My most heartfelt and deepest sympathies go out to the Sauer family. Thank you for allowing us to walk this road with you. For sharing your incredible words and stories with us, even in your hardest moments. May you be strengthened by the thousands who continue to pray for you.

"Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn." Romans 12:15

From WGRZ...


And his families website...


Tuesday, May 6

Something Fun About Turning One

           Those of you who saw my Facebook posts over the weekend already know that this sweet chubby cheeked child turned one over the weekend.

            One. One...One!

            The year seems to have flown by at lighting speed, with mom and dad standing by wide-eyed marveling at her new steps, new words (um, babbles),  and ever present smiles. We stand amazed at all of the changes in her and the fast pace of life which clumps many of the best moments  into a blur of images that feel more like the fast forward reel of a movie than the slowly formulated snapshots and memories that we hope we're creating.

         "Stop growing! Don't get any bigger! Slow down!" we repeat in steady cadence to at least one of our sweet girls every day.

          While the girls like to chide us that they will not stop growing and that they want to be bigger (just as we did when we were kids when we thought there was magic in getting older, only to realize as adults that the real magic seems to be found in being younger!), even Ava looked at me this week and said, "Mom, I'm sad that Aubrey is getting so big."

            Ava has enjoyed the cuddles, snuggles and baby stage just as much as we have. Probably more so, as a matter of fact, since she experienced them sans sleepless nights and having to change the stinkiest of diapers!

           Never the less, one is fun. Aubrey is walking all over the house and serves both as comic relief and a good dose of baby hugs all when we need them the most.

         So, in honor of her turning one I leave you with a short little bit of poetic silliness....

There is something fun about turning one
in case you didn't know.

I'm doing more and saying more
and finding new places to go.

I smile big, giggle loud and open my arms wide
I blow raspberries with my rosy lips and behind the door I hide

I pop out and say peek-a-boo while you all laugh at me.
There is something fun about turning one,
so excuse me friends, I have places to be!

Saturday, May 3

5 Minute Friday Post: Mess

    I wasn't going to do a 5 Minute Friday post this week. Not because I didn't want to, mostly because I feel like I don't have time for anything lately...not even a 5 Minute Friday post, which I must confess, often takes me much more than 5 minutes because...well..I want it to be right, which is not the point at all.

     The point is to write, not for it to be right.  If it ends up being messy and very un-right, well that is kind of the point too.

     So...I was not going to write a 5 Minute Friday post this week and then, out of curiosity, I popped over to Lisa-Jo Baker's site to see what she had going on.

    I read the word. And the word for the week describes SOOO much of my life that I felt compelled to drop what I was doing and write for 5 minutes, even if it doesn't come out quite right.

    Even if it is...


    Which brings me to her word...Mess.

     Is your life messy? Is your house messy? Is your car messy?

Mine Is...And this is usually about how it makes me feel...

     Oh heavens, I could go on and on because lately every, every, every, EVERY little small life detail feels like a bit of a mess.

     The kids toys. The tupperware drawer. My spices. The mudroom. The bathroom pantry. My closet. Ella's closet. Ava's closet. Our shed. Our yard. The car. The playroom. The dining room. My meal planning (or lack thereof). My calendar (and the inconsistent way I write or don't write things on it). The laundry. The basement. The schedule. My mind.

     It's all a little chaotic and sometimes I hold back from starting anything new because the mess must be addressed first.

     Sometimes I have a hard time engaging with others, and I put off doing things that I really enjoy doing...(running, reading, writing, going out on a date with my husband, having coffee with friends, feeding the ducks with the girls or going for a walk) because it feels like I need to get a handle on my mess before I can do anything other than manage it.

     But, what if, as Lisa Jo proposes, we start doing life right in the middle of our mess?

     That's hard for me. And probably completely necessary. And probably the only way to actually do the things that matter.

    So this week, I promise, I will try to live more fully in the midst of my mess.

Five Minute Friday

This post is part of 5 Minute Friday- a place where hundreds come together to write for 5 minutes about a new word each week, hosted by the lovely Lisa-Jo Baker.