DIY Dump Truck Halloween Costume

I know it's nearly Thanksgiving, but I just realized I never got around to posting Eli's Halloween costume on here. I pushed out a few photos on Instagram and Facebook, but totally forgot to give a quick recap of the costume I made for Eli. (Colette was a hand-me-down ladybug, if you were wondering, so though she was THE MOST ADORABLE LADYBUG IN ALL THE LAND, there will be no post dedicated to the making of her costume.)

At two and a half, Eli obviously had no clue what Halloween meant in the weeks leading up to it. But just for kicks, I still liked to ask him every few days, "Eli, what do you want to be for Halloween?" 

Every. Single. Time. he would tell me in his best low, loud, growly voice that he wanted to be a "Duuuuump TRRRRRUCK!" 
At first, I figured at his age, he'd never actually wear a dump-truck-type costume if I went to the work of making it. It'd be one of those things where as a mom you spend a ton of time making something, and the kid acts all excited, but when it comes time to actually wearing/using it, they want nothing to do with it and throw a tantrum if you try to push it on them, you know? 

That's the worst. 

So, to test him before I went to any actual work, I took a cardboard box, drew some tires and a grill on it, made straps with some cheap ribbon I already had, and asked him if he wanted to wear it. He freaked out and wore it all afternoon he was so happy. 

Next thing you know I'm taping diaper and wipe boxes together with duct tape, spray painting everything yellow and cutting out tail lights from construction paper. 

It actually wasn't that much work, just a little time. The only money I spent was on the yellow spray paint and nylon strips, which I picked up from Joann Fabric and hot glued right onto the inside of the box. 

And the best part was, it was really fun to include Eli in everything - we made a huge deal out of going to get the paint and straps for his dump truck, and he helped me figure out where the headlights and grill should be, how big of cup to trace for the tail lights - you know, all the stuff that toddlers like to make up opinions on. 

It only took him one house to get the gist of Halloween. Pretty soon he was acting like an old pro, telling me, "I have so much candy mom. Did you see how much I got? Their light is on, they'll give me candy! They take a long time to come to the door, where's my candy? Don't eat my candy mom, it's all for me. I'll carry my candy, no touching it mom. Halloween is my favorite thing ever."

And just like that Halloween became my favorite thing ever too. 

To The Mom Having A Bad Day

It was one of those days. The days we all have but don't like to speak of. A day where the entire family woke up on the wrong side of the bed (or crib). I held it together for a few hours, moving the eggs from the green plate to the orange plate with a happy voice, shushing the crying with long cuddles and rhythmic bouncing, cleaning up the spilled milk, blown out diaper and snotty faces with (mostly) patience, and taking the new nicks in our kitchen table with a quiet voice and calm words, even though I felt anything but.

But fairly quickly my patience, happy voice and well, any and all kindness evaporated - right about the time I felt the lunch of lasagna leftovers cling to the bottom of my foot (due to a toddler-sized chronic food thrower), and the yogurt get blown in my face from a 10 month old that's discovering how many cool tricks her lips can do.

It was then that I became the crabby, short tempered mom that was only surviving until bedtime. It was then that the bad day began.

The rest of the day was a series of frustrating events where nothing seemed to go right. I struggled to remember why I love motherhood so much, to find any joy in my day, and every little thing was just setting me off. I found myself yelling over silly things and even trying out the silent treatment. (Bad idea, that's the quickest way to get your kid to get all up in your face and yell your name incessantly - making a bad day even worse.)

I tried reminding myself of how lucky I am to even get to be a mom. How I need to "find joy" in the little things. How I'm supposed to soak up this time with them because it all goes by too quickly. I know these things. I read them all the time on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, heck, I even write them. But nothing was working, nothing could change how weary, tired and just plain frustrated I was.

Pretty quickly the guilt started to weave with the anger. Each time I lost my patience, the voice came, telling me I was a bad mom. That I was a disaster. That I can't get anything right. That I'm a failure as a mother. That I know better and need to act and feel like it.

You know the one, don't you? It's the the voice that immediately joins your life as soon as you have your first baby. The lies it whispers vary a little between moms, but the heart is the same, cutting a mom right to the core making a bad day become a bad mother.

But the truth is, a bad day is just that, a bad day.

You may have failed a hundred times over with your kids, your husband, your heart, but that doesn't make you a bad mother. It just means you need grace. It means you can't do it all perfectly. It means you need forgiveness and a fresh start.

Bad days don't define our mothering as a whole, they only prove that we're human.

And so today, if it is a bad day for you, keep going, keep mothering, keep fighting, keep trying and trying again. There is grace enough for the bad days. You are still a good mother and these bad days don't define your story as a mother - they are not the days your children will remember. What they'll remember was that you were present, that you available, that you loved them and that you were a good mom. Regroup and tell your children you're sorry. Admit that mom doesn't get it all right. Model humility and honesty for them.

And start over again tomorrow.

Each day is a new day filled with grace made just for that day, just for you as a mom. A bad day doesn't make a bad mom. It's just that, a bad day.

Carry on warrior.

Like this post? I share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

When We Feel Inadequate

I've been having one of those weeks, well, a month or two really, where nothing seems to be going right. Where I'm seemingly incapable of getting anything right. Showing up at the wrong time for a doctor's appointment, spilling tomato sauce in the fridge, double booking a weekend, stubbing my toe three times in a day, or forgetting to do things I promised I would. I'm dried up with writing here (But don't want to be!) and I've taken on a few projects outside of this blog and it feels like I'm hitting nothing but roadblocks - all of them because of my own failures.

I don't know what's going on with me besides knowing I'm feeling pretty weak and inadequate at life right now. Seems to be a common theme for me over this past year. And all of motherhood really. I would imagine some of you can relate, right?

Last night I was wallowing in my failures, and then my sister-in-law tagged me in this post from Life Lived Beautifully. (Do you follow her? If not, you should!) I'm repeating a bit of this from memory, so go to her post for the good stuff, but here's the truth: Satan is going to go hard after every single one of our weak areas - he LOVES weakness. He finds those inadequate places and pushes hard into them. It's like it's his game to spot the failures. It's is goal to bring them to light. And it's his mission to make us feel like not enough. And you know what? He's is the best in the business at his game.

But the truth is, he may win a game here or there, okay, like every single one, during certain seasons of life, but he does not win the ultimate game because Christ already did that. It's done! We know the ending! We know we're on the winning side and Satan and all his pretty little lies are never gonna make it in the end. When we're struggling with failures, inadequacies and roadblocks this is all we need to remember - not I, but He.

He is what makes us enough. He wins the war. He makes us conquerors.

And I'm just so thankful to get to be carried by his grace - because if these last couple months are just a small example of my efforts, then it would be obvious to anyone around me that I'll never even win a scrimmage with Satan on my own.

So today, lean in to Christ. Give him all your dirty, messy and failures, (If you're like me, it's a lot!), and remember, not I, but He. We have won. We have conquered. We are enough. Because of Him.

And as soon as you feel that old familiar feeling of inadequacy rise up, do it again. And again and again and again. Remember, we're not capable of one and dones. We have confess and recommit over and over again. But thankfully, Christ is there, every time, like it was the first time.

Not I, but He.

*Photo via Unsplash

When Bravo TV Isn't Enough: Dumping The Self-Care Quick Fix and Finding What Really Fills Mom Up

Usually I want it to be a weekend away with my husband or girlfriends - no kids allowed. A beach vacation probably. Where we lay on a massage table, covered in white towels, tropical flowers and those smooth pebbles, the ocean to our right and our faces smashed into those little circle pillows.

I've never actually done this, but it's what I dream about in those moments when at the exact same time, the baby starts crying because her gums hurt (I think), the toddler starts whining (yelling incessantly really) while throwing toys at the wall, and the smell of two poopy diapers fill the air. It's like they talked and said, "Let's go from zero to sixty at 6:23 p.m., right when mom's about to burn dinner, so we'll really stress her out."

It's in that moment when all I can think about is the beach.

I was about to write a second post on self-care (Here's the first one.) and moms' all-or-nothing mentality of wanting regular, long breaks away from our children, of how we can find self-care in the small things too, and of finding the line between healthy self-care and our own selfish expectations.

But then I read this post and figured I should forget about it because she wrote it much more eloquently than I ever could. (I posted it on Facebook, but if you haven't yet, read it.)

Figuring out what actually filled me up was the hardest part of self-care. For a while there I think I thought it was watching reruns of Million Dollar Decorators on Bravo, eating enormous amounts of Fritos, checking Instagram, and napping, lots of napping. Oh, and dreaming about beach vacations of course.

While I do believe sometimes the most spiritual, life-giving thing to do is take a nap, in this instance, I don't think that's what it was for me.

What goes in, must come out.

And I was sure feeling like garbage.

It was then that I realized I needed to start doing the hard thing each day. Wake up early before the kids, start with my quiet time (even though, at that time, it was the absolute LAST thing I wanted to do), drink my coffee hot all the way to the bottom. Pick up the house before, or at least right at the beginning of nap time, so I can go into the afternoon with a clean slate. After cleaning and taking care of any other pressing matters, work on a DIY project, or spend time writing here again. And at night, among other things, end the day screen-free, reading quality literature, even if it's just five pages.
Pretty quickly I found if I just pushed through the, "I made it to nap time! Get me to the couch!" mentality, I had more energy for the day, and a better attitude to receive the kids when they woke.

Why is it that we mothers are always looking for the self-care quick-fix, the band-aid to just get us through nap time? When what we really need is self-care to get us through the witching hour, the middle of the night wakings, the entire day, the entire week - our entire lives of raising littles.

And we're smart enough to know Bravo TV ain't gonna do that.

Reality is, in this season of life, special vacations and long weekends away - or even kid-free coffee dates with friend - are not very practical. We may get them every once in a while (And I still am a huge advocate for them!), but we can't store up all our self-care for five days once a year, that honestly, may or my not happen depending on our children's needs. We have to find rest in the small things of the every day, taking the time that is available, even if we do have to carve it out by waking earlier, paying for the sitter or saying 'yes' to an offer to help. And we also have to recognize there are seasons for a healthy amount of self-care and there are seasons for very, very little self-care. The opportunity for self-care is an ebb and flow, no rules, no expectations, and we absolutely have no right to it. It may be necessary, but it is still a privilege.

Self-care or the ever popular, "me-time" sounds so wonderful to a mother's ears, doesn't it? But most of us are quite terrible at actually doing it correctly. It's nice in theory, but when the rubber meets the road in how it should actually play out, most of us like to take the easy way and pop on the TV, or surf the web - which usually isn't self-care at all.

But what if we took the hard road, found what really fills us up and then actually did it? Would there be fewer negative conversations from burned out mothers?  Less complaining on the internet? Less mommy war battles?

I can't say with all certainty, but I would hope so. So let's table the TV zone out and the mindless internet searching and commit to true self-care, even in the small things. It is the hard thing to do, but isn't that pretty much all of motherhood? We do the hard things so we can reap the benefits later? And maybe, just maybe, we'll have that chance to smash our face into a circle massage pillow too.

Like this post? I share a whole lot more on this motherhood gig over on Facebook (Oakland Avenue) and Instagram (@laurawifler) and I'd love it if you followed along!

This Is How I Feel, XXII

When I hear phantom newborn cries.

When I'm trying to get the family out the door and everyone is lollygaging.

When I see my toddler slowing moving towards something I just told him not to touch.

When someone starts telling their birth story.

When I hear a child crying and think it's mine - and then it's not.

When I'm telling the stylist about what kind of haircut I want. 

When I start talking, then the kids both start talking.

Right after I drop both kids off in nursery.

When I hear two moms start to debate the awareness and needs of food allergies and children.

When I hear a mom fit back in her pre-baby jeans at six weeks.

Colette - Nine Month Update

Naps: Two naps a day. One, two to three hour in the morning; one two to three hour in the afternoon.
Feeding: Formula. Four 5 -7 oz. bottles every four hours during the day.
Clothing: Nine and twelve month.
Bedtime: 7 - 7:30 p.m.

Reflux Update: 1 ml in the evenings, and seems to be happy with this amount. 

Torticollis Update: Still do physical therapy every day for Colette's Torticollis. For the most part, we think she has complete range of motion, but have a check in with the doctor next month to be sure we can stop the exercises. 

Eating: There's no predicting how much Colette will eat, though I try to get at least 4 oz in her for each bottle. She's really ramping up with the solids though, so I don't worry too much since I know she's getting a lot of her calories through that. She developed the pincher grasp this month and it's totally been a game changer - I love being able to give her lots of little things to eat and not worry about the mess - she's seriously neater than Eli! Her favorite foods are peas, broccoli, 
cauliflower, pulled pork and bread. She's pretty obvious with how I'll set out a few different items, and she won't touch anything until her favorites are eaten, so I tend to just hand her things in stages building up to what she likes best - fruit, meat, veggies, bread. Colette's still pretty crazy about water too, sometimes I feel like she's going to drown herself with how fast she drinks out of the Camelbak!

Sleeping: We had a really difficult month sleeping - should have probably seen it coming since we had a few months of sleep-bliss there. In her defense, at the end of the month a tiny little tooth popped up, but it still always amazes me how much work those silly teeth are - and all for ONE. She was up in the night at least a few nights a week, and often multiple times in the same night. It's funny, because it always takes giving her a bottle to get her back to sleep - she will not fall back to sleep without the taste of milk in her mouth - sometimes she only takes three sips and she's done! It's in these moments I wish we were still nursing because it would be so much easier, but at least now I know and I'm not trying to put her back down a million times without a bottle and getting confused since I know she's not actually hungry. 

She still takes two other naps during the day, usually about two hours each, but sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. I typically have to push her on her morning nap because were out and about, but Colette's pretty good about making up lost sleep with a longer afternoon nap. I have a feeling she'll be dropping that morning nap MUCH earlier than Eli did! 

The biggest change is that pincher grasp and Colette's new, tiny tooth! It's not very far in yet, so you can't even see it in the pics, but I promise it's there! She's not crawling, but she tends to scoot a lot with the heels of her feet (not getting that far, just moving a few inches here or there) but is super good at quickly spinning in circles - just using her heels! You think she can't move - but she can, oh she can. She has a huge reach too and will bend nearly in half just to reach a toy. Colette's also trying to pull up on things, but usually just tends to get her bottom a few inches off the ground then sits back down with a huff. It's adorable. She still rolls everywhere, but prefers to be sitting up so she can see all the action. As for talking, she tends to go through quiet phases and loud ones, kinda switching back and forth, but she's either 0 or 60, there's no in between with this girl. 

Likes / Dislikes: 

This month, Colette started to really like the jumper. Part of it is probably the fact that she can stand and jump and see everything, and the other part is probably because Eli tends to view it as a swing, and gives her huge pushes in it. Yes, there have definitely been some tears from getting swung into the wall. But overall, I promise, she loves getting pushed and spun in it by her big brother. She still waves her arms like crazy when she gets excited, and usually that's when she sees someone she likes, like Eli or her daddy. Colette really loves to be tossed around and wrestled with too, I'm pretty sure she just lives for dangerous situations. She also loves to eat, play peek-a-boo, be scared, kissed and snuggled with. Pretty much all the same as last month. 

Mommy / Daddy Update:
This girl is seriously so fun! Every day I'm just amazed by how far we've all come and how great it is to be a family of four. Colette just keeps getting easier and easier and it's been awesome to see her and Eli's relationship develop. These days, the two of them will go off and play in another room together, Eli handing her toys or talking to her and she babbling back and waving her arms all over. It's just so fun that they have learned to play without me and that they get along. Mike and I are thrilled to see how close they already are and it makes us excited for the future.