Reflection: The Right Path

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The year 2018 is off and running. How are you feeling about it all? Are you making progress toward a new goal? Do you feel encouraged that you'll get there?

It's been a while since I've set New Years resolutions. Since becoming a mom, I've pursued goals and made plans in a different way. Instead of pinpointing specific things to achieve, I step back and look at the year ahead: What commitments, events and travel are already set?

With this in hand, my husband and I brainstorm and insert doses of family fun, as well as time for personal priorities (ESSENTIAL: a long-overdue getaway for just the two of us) and, for me, creative development.

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Next I zoom into the current month. The calendar squares fill - yes, I am still on paper. Then the current week. The to-do list crystalizes. Then the very day I'm in. The task X-ing commences...

And yet all the while, writerly things are bouncing around in my brian. These are the things that I cannot wait to do. Each activity knocks incessantly on the front cover of my daily planner, begging and bartering for a minute of my time:

  • That manuscript I want to write
  • That manuscript I want to revise
  • That book I want to get at the library
  • That author I want to research
  • That blog post I want to write
  • That podcast I want to hear
  • That Twitter chat I want to join
  • That conference I want to attend

What may look like busy work or frivolous tasks to some are pure adventure to me. Creating. Learning. Connecting. These are the things that defined my youth, adolescence and college years. These are the things that define me still today.

So, that's what I want to do with my time. But the central question is, What does God want me to do with it? As I step day-by-day through the new year, this is the thought that is most on my heart. This Bible verse provides the hope and clarity that I find myself seeking:

Psalm 25:4-5: Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.  

Happy New Year to you, and may God bless your endeavors in His name - today and always.

Mother's Day: Triaging Craziness on the Homefront

Happy MOTHER'S DAY to all the mothers out there! Wishing you short brunch lines and coffee that you don't have to microwave! Here's the second Mother's Day post of the week. Hope you enjoy it:

MOTHER'S DAY: PART 2

Today, I'm sharing a little something I call "Triaging Craziness on the Homefront." I don't mean to minimize true medical crises with use of the word triage here. It's just that triage is the only word that succinctly describes what we do as parents minute-to-minute. And I have a feeling many of you can relate. Here's the definition for quick reference:

TRIAGE: The process of sorting victims of a battle or disaster to determine medical priority, in order to increase the number of survivors. 

A few words stand out here:

  • Victims
  • Battle
  • Disaster
  • Priority 
  • Survivors

Does this not sound like everyday mom life? How many battles do we witness daily? How many disasters unfold before our very eyes? There are always victims (not always the dueling children), and the survivors weather plenty of injuries.

However, the key word in the definition of triage, for me, is PRIORITY. Exactly how do you determine who or what gets attention first? Especially when things are going downhill? Fast.

"Triaging Craziness" is a fluid, evolving concept of what constitutes an emergency, and this is different for every family. Here's what it looks like for The Schultes. NOTE: The most serious situations are listed first, and priority descends from there. The rankings may surprise you... I know a few surprised me as I was writing it!

CODE BLACK:

Life Comes to a Screeching Halt

  • Seizures
  • G-Tube malfunctions
  • Children running into traffic
  • Children running into a parking lot
  • Children running away... anywhere
  • Screaming
  • Bleeding
  • Explosive poopie
  • Vomiting
  • Crabby hunger (Hangry)

Medical crises obviously come first. Luckily we have had very few of these recently (AMEN). Elsa's been seizure free for more than two years, and the deflation or pulling-out of her G-tube balloon is something we can generally handle without too much anxiety these days.

But running away. Oh my. This is my new worst. I simply cannot handle it. Running away = distance from me = room for negative interference = anything can happen. If there is too much physical distance between me and my babies, there's nothing I can do to help them. COMPLETELY POWERLESS. I constantly bribe my littles to stay near when we enter a parking lot. ("Fruit snacks in the car for anyone who stays with me!! Who's with me?!")

The rest of the list: Screaming before bleeding? Screaming before poopie?? Screaming before vomiting??? Not a typo. I cannot deal with any of those problems if someone is screaming. Screaming breaks me. It always wins, or at least must be addressed immediately in some fashion, for sanity's sake. Moms who can deal constructively with screaming deserve the Nobel Peace Prize.

Here's a photo of something that COULD have been a Code Black moment. To photograph, or not to photograph? That is the question. Luckily this has never happened again!! Yet.


CODE RED:

Momma's Gonna Lose It... Time Out!

  • Sneaking outside
  • Throwing a fit
  • Biting
  • Hitting
  • Stealing toys
  • Throwing food
  • Refusing to get in the car
  • Refusing to get out of the car
  • Taking off clothes that should be on
  • Begging for a snack
  • Begging for juice
  • Begging for a show to be turned on
  • Ripping out pages of library books
  • Ripping out pages of our books
  • Jumping off of furniture
  • Regular poopie diaper

This is a long list. So many things fit into this category. These are the things that get under mom's skin because this brand of chaos breeds more chaos, and all of it prevents her from doing the things she NEEDS to do: Phone in prescription refills. Email a teacher with an important note. Empty the dishwasher. Put away clean clothes. Eat. Shower

You'll notice that poopie diaper is dead last. This means that my kids are often walking around with poop in their pants for a good while. The old adage of "the squeaky wheel gets the grease" is never more true than in a home dripping with toddlers. I cannot tell you how often I think of Carol Burnett in Annie, singing this song...

Little girls, little girls, everywhere I look... I CAN SEE THEM. Little girls, little girls, night and day I eat, sleep and BREATHE them. Joking of course, but in my case, it also happens to be true!

IMPORTANT NOTE: I always remember to pray during Code Black, but I almost never remember during Code Red. I do everything in my power to "handle it." But naturally, it doesn't take long to realize that I cannot handle it - not alone. Ninety-nine times out of 100, the second I pause and pray, "God, I can't do this. I'm gonna need your help," within 2 minutes, the situation has resolved. I promise myself that I won't forget to pray - that I'll remember next time and do it first before stress builds to peak levels - but I never do. Why do we think we can do anything apart from God? Not sure, but it's a lesson God is set on teaching me!!! 


CODE GOLD:

Classic Minor Offenses (The Good Stuff)

  • Raiding your jewelry
  • Raiding your makeup
  • Raiding your purse
  • Raiding the cupboard
  • Adding "events" to your planner
  • Unmaking just-made beds
  • Stealing your phone and sending texts
  • Brutal honesty
  • Picking out 10 bedtime books
  • Watering or feeding inanimate objects 
  • Making "pee-pee milkshakes" (*see below)

This is the stuff that's perhaps a little annoying in the moment, particularly if you're trying to get out the door to church or an event. But a few hours later, you know it's true: These are the golden moments of parenthood. The snapshots of your life that you wish your mom and dad were in the room to see. The incidents that you try to quickly capture on your smart phone, or try to do justice to later in a story, but can't.

* One of our favorite stories is when Cece and Lola were scooping toilet water with their toss-and-go cups in an effort to make what they coined "pee-pee milkshakes." Of COURSE they did. Why wouldn't they, right? Sounds delicious. Just when you think you've seen it all, your kids have a way of blindsiding you with disgusting yet somehow charming and innocent antics. Just remember: This is perfect fodder for your speeches at their rehearsal dinners and weddings.

Here's a slideshow of some of our golden moments:

There's no doubt about it. Parenthood is designed to grow us. To wear us down and show us our limitations and humanity. To draw us closer in dependence on our Lord, refine our faith and build our wisdom. So when we say that kids are God's greatest gift, it's for several reasons. They are beautiful reflections of his love, and they also deepen our relationship with our Creator.

Some women are dripping with diamonds. Some women are dripping with pearls. Lucky me, lucky me. Look at what I'm dripping with... LITTLE GIRLS. 

Lucky me is right. I am extremely lucky to have been blessed with these babes. So happy and proud and honored to be their momma.

Happy Mother's Day everyone!