Leaving and Letting Go

Derek and I decided long before we had kids that missions and service and ministry would be a part of our lives. We actually decided that even before we met each other. We both feel called to work with teenagers. We fell in love because as teachers, we were both the last ones on our hallway each day with students in our room, and we would encourage each other and learn from each other as we just naturally started our ministries. Then, once we got married it just made that ministry even greater. Getting to go on mission trips together and pour into teenagers and people around the world as a team has just always been a life giving calling for us both. 

Now that we not only have a child, but THREE children at once, I feared that this special part of us might have to be put on hold or change for a while. And in a lot of ways it has changed. I stay at home with our 3 kids instead of teaching. Students and former students come over to our house now to play with our kids instead of me having lunch or breakfast with them. In addition, we now get the privilege of pouring into 3 small humans together as a team and as ministry. I recognize that our family alone is a huge and wonderful and life giving ministry. BUT I still feel called to go. I love that even though so many pieces of our ministry look different right now, so far we have been able to be leaders on mission trips the last 2 years while raising our triplets. Both my parents and my in-laws have been champs and are willing to watch our kids while we follow this call on our hearts to go. 

That said. I’m really terrified this year. Last year when we went to China, I was so exhausted from taking care of 3 newborns. I hadn’t been out of the house much and the trip just felt so freeing. I felt like I got to remember who I was and how to slow down again. That trip began a journey of self-discovery in me. It reminded me to not get lost in this craziness of motherhood but to listen to the Spirit. It began a season of healing for me. Plus I just loved pouring into the high schoolers on our trip. We were going to a place that is so close to my heart. Shepherd’s Field feels like another home. I felt so confident leaving for that trip, and then coming back I had this image of the kids running to me and jumping in my arms…

Well, for one thing the kids weren’t really running yet, but when we got back, it was hard. Lucy and Oliver were fine and honestly ignored us when we walked up the stairs for the first time after being gone for 10 days. They just kept playing. Shepherd on the other hand was ticked. He was mad that we had left him and wouldn’t let me touch him or hold him or talk to him. He was back to normal by that evening and even more so by the next morning, but it was still hard.

Now here we are several months later, and we are leaving for Honduras tomorrow. I really feel like the Spirit was at work the way this trip just happened to have an open spot the exact year that we aren’t able to go to China. While Derek and I were praying about how we could still be involved together in missions this year, this trip was instantly on our hearts. Derek has been on this trip around 10 times and he has always wanted us to go together. I know that this is where God is calling me. I know that I will find purpose and that God can and will use me if I let him. I know that this group of high school students is fantastic, and I can’t wait to get to know them better. 

But I’m scared. This time, I’m really really scared. My kids spent several days in the hospital just 3 months ago. It’s still winter, so there is a chance that they could get sick again and have to go back while we are gone. More than that, I’m afraid to leave Shepherd. I know that Lucy and Oliver will barely miss me (haha), but my sensitive Shepherd will be mad again. I’m afraid that it will mess him up. I’m afraid that he will be so mad at me that it will forever change our relationship. I’m afraid that he won’t love me the same. Last year he couldn’t talk. This year, he can tell me how mad he is that I was gone.

The truth is, those things might happen. They probably won’t, but they might. They might get sick. Shepherd might be mad at me for days or weeks this time. It might make his anxiety worse. He might cry for me everyday that I am gone. But that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t go. 

If I don’t go, then God will still do amazing things on that trip. He doesn’t need me to make that trip great. I’m not going because I am this wonderful Christian and the best mentor and the only one that can pour into those high schoolers. That’s not it at all. I am not invaluable. But I do feel called to go. 

I’m going because I need my kids to know that even though they have forever changed my life and my ministry, my life is bigger than just the 3 of them. My ministry is bigger than the 3 of them. I feel guilty typing that. I feel scared typing that. But I want to raise kids that become adults that depend on Jesus and have coping skills to bravely take on the world. AND I am the best me when I have purpose outside of just them. I am a better version of myself when I am both loving them and others. I need both and that’s ok.

My theme for the year continues to be BOTH/AND. I am both a mom and a minister to teenagers. God has called me to both. And so even though I am scared…I will go.

Climbing out of cribs, Taking clothes off, Our first batch of stitches, and more!

In the last few months, our 3 toddlers have learned how to be expert climbers. We love to share the tricks that we have learned. First off, I am thankful that we have been extra vigilant in tethering all of our furniture to the wall and baby proofing to the max. With three monkeys running around, I wanted to feel confident that even though there are more of them than my number of arms, they are safe in our house. Somehow the kids constantly still find ways to show us what we need to add to the baby proofing list. For instance, our stairs are still gated even though they are really good at climbing chairs simply because I need a place to put things that they cannot get to! All of our cabinets are locked. except for the bathroom cabinets which we just cleared out and let the kids climb through freely as a sort of jungle gym, and our dining room chairs stay pushed against the wall all day unless we are eating so that they are not another jungle gym. 

We did have our first batch of stitches. Sweet Shepherd fell off of a little kid’s chair and hit his head at just the right spot. He wasn’t doing anything crazy or climbing where he shouldn’t. I think he might have inherited my ability to run into things and fall ungracefully. Sorry Shep! It split right above is right eye. I immediately called my wonderful pediatrician only to learn that my pediatrician does not give stitches. We had to take him to our nearest Urgent Care, but Urgent Care doesn’t open until 11am so we stopped the bleeding with neosporin and a bandaid until we could get there. Also, we went during Shepherd’s nap time with a scheduled appointment so that we could miss most of the germs in the waiting room.  I feared that it would be exhausting for him to go during his nap time, but it turned out to be amazing. He slept through all 4 stitches!! 

On another note. We have done 2 things that have been successful in helping the kids to stay in their cribs and pack-n-plays. 2/3 take naps in a pack-n-play so that they can all nap in different rooms, and we use pack-n-plays when we travel. They started climbing out of those first. Oliver was the main culprit. He would climb out but then be immediately terrified and want back in. We could tell that for our 3, toddler beds would not be a good option yet. Fixing the crib situation was easier. We first dropped the crib mattresses to the ground which instantly helped. We had to be careful to not leave a gap between the mattress and the crib rail. We put quilts and thick fleece blankets under the mattresses to make sure that the mattresses were tall enough and that there was no gap. They have been sleeping like this in their cribs for a couple months now, and it works great!

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We also had one of our 3 start to take their pajamas and diaper off in the night. I walked in one morning to a naked Lucy. She was so confused at why this was concerning. She was sitting in a puddle of pee (thankfully not poop) saying “I NAKED!” When I asked her why she was naked she said, “I pee-pee.” Well, it’s hard to argue with that. I think she might be closer to potty training than I am. I am SO NOT ready to go down that road yet. So anyway, to help them keep their clothes on, and to also help them stay in the pack-n-plays we decided to add a sleep sac into the bedtime routine. It not only encourages them to keep their clothes on, but it keeps them in the crib/pack-n-play because in the potato sac fleece they can’t use their legs to climb. And they LOVE sleeping in it! They beg to put them on at night. I think it brings them back to their swaddle loving days, but their arms are free. It zips from the bottom so it’s much harder for them to unzip it. They are currently wearing a size Large. Link for the Halo sleep sac

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This was taken the morning of their 2nd birthday, and I put them all in one crib to try and get a cute picture.  Lucy is not a morning person. haha They do NOT all sleep together. 

We have also learned that it is possible to make a 15 hour car trip in one day with toddler triplets. We left at 3am, and they slept for the first 4-5 hours, and took a 2 hour nap during the drive. It made the trip so much better with them sleeping for a good bit of it. We only stopped a couple times to eat, get gas, and stretch our legs and even then the kids stayed fairly happy. I would move back and forth between the front seat and sitting in the back to entertain.

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We also, moved the triplets car seats to forward facing right at their 2 year birthday. We love our Diono carseats that can fit 3 across on the back row of our van!! They love being able to see everything as we drive now. It is so much fun, but I am so glad that I waited until they were 2 to turn them.

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Please let me know if you have any other questions about my current triplet toddler life!! I would love to write some things that you are curious about!

A New Year

As I look back on 2018, I am filled with a dichotomy of emotions that exist simultaneously. I am both exhausted and content. I have both wonderful memories from the year and some that are really painful. My heart is heavy and filled at the same time. It feels like I spent just as much time at the doctor, hospital, and emergency room, as I did just enjoying my precious babies this year, BUT at the same time in all of the sickness, our family was bombarded with love and support from our friends and family which brings me so much joy. I think that this is the way that life is meant to be lived – in the world of the “both/and.” With every hardship and negative, there is a positive and shining light to be found. Sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes I just don’t have the energy or time or desire to see it, but it’s still there. In fact, the positive may just be that we survived. I sure am thankful that “His mercies are new every morning.” I’m thankful for grace. I’m thankful for the ability to be both full of love and full of anxiety at the same time. I’m thankful that my babies are both messy and beautiful. I’m thankful that my marriage has both been challenged and strengthened this year. I’m thankful that even though my ministry seems smaller, it also seems deeper. I’m thankful that even though my kids have had around 13 ear infections, a few sinus infections, several stomach bugs, Hand Foot & Mouth, ear tubes, RSV, pneumonia, more runny noses, coughs and colds than I can count, stitches, bumps, bruises, busted lips all in 2018…today they are happy and healthy. I’m thankful that even though 2018 brought my most challenging mental and emotional year as I struggled through anxiety and panic attacks, it also brought me Brene Brown, the Enneagram, a good counselor, and more soul searching and self-discovery than I ever thought possible. 2018 brought both many tears, and also so many belly laughs that kept me rolling for days. 

Each year I pick a verse that defines what I want to focus on and meditate over for the year. I learn the context of that verse and memorize it. I put it on my heart and mind and soul. When I look back and read my verses from the years past, the feelings and emotions of that year come flooding back. I can feel where my heart was at that time and how that verse spoke to me. I have written a few times about my verse for 2018 – Exodus 14:13-14. I have needed this verse so many times this year. As I am sitting here praying and trying to decide my verse for 2019, the “both/and” feels very important. I want the freedom to feel seemingly opposite emotions at the exact same time. This year I want to embrace the fact that I am both weak and strong. I want to feel confident that even though my anxiety might not leave, the Lord’s grace will continue to be even more abundant. I want to focus less on where I fall short and rather on where Christ is more than enough. In fact, I want to acknowledge that without my insufficiencies, the fullness of Christ’s strength may not be seen. So today, here’s to me not being enough but enough all at the same time. 2019, I’m ready for you. 

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions, and in difficulties, for the sake of Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Who am I?

I have been wrestling a lot lately with this very simple question: “Who am I?” 

For the past year and a half with newborn/baby triplets, I have been a survivor and just making it to the next day with healthy, happy babies. Staying sane was my goal and sometimes seemed like an unattainable goal. Now that Shepherd, Lucy, and Oliver are toddlers and especially now that they go to 3 half days of pre-school each week, I have time to really figure out my goals and identity beyond just survival. Do I want to be a teacher again? Do I want to solely focus on being a great stay at home mom? Do I want to be a writer? Do I want to run a marathon? Do I want to focus on ministry and missions? Who am I? 

Everyday recently I get asked 2 questions by friends, family, and strangers. I’m not talking once or twice… I have been asked these at least once a day for 5 weeks.

  1. Are you supermom taking care of triplets!?
  2. What are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?

For some reason, both of these questions make me feel super defensive. I have laid awake in the middle of the night several times over the last few weeks trying to come up with good answers to these questions. First of all, let’s clear the air, I am NOT a supermom. I am a very tired mom. I struggle with anxiety. I struggle with patience. I struggle with balance and often feel like a failure. All of us are just doing our best one day at a time. If you had triplets, you would figure it out one day at a time too. If you have one baby, and it’s crazy hard, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t handle 3 babies, it would just be different. I do this whole motherhood of triplets thing with a WHOLE lot of help and a WHOLE lot of mistakes. But as soon as I can explain that I’m a mess and not a superhero, I get that 2nd question… “So, what are you doing with all of your free time now that the babies go to school?”

I’ve been on a journey since May to learn how to take care of myself and to find peace and presence in the chaos. Part of that journey was creating space and time in my life to practice self-care. I’m learning how to say no and how to be still. Those 12 hours each week with the kids at pre-school allow me to eat. They allow me to sit and think and breathe. They allow me to do laundry and go to the grocery store. They allow me space to deal with all the hiccups that come with having three toddlers like going to the doctor, cleaning up our dog peeing everywhere, or just organizing the house. They allow me time to not just survive. I feel so much guilt and so much shame in the fact that this time is free time. I can choose what I do with it, and I feel like I need to itemize every single minute of it to anyone that asks. I go into detail of how I tutor at night and that time allows me to prep for tutoring. It allows me to prep for dinner and to create an online class. I feel this deep need to make sure that people know I’m using my time wisely. I might need to go apologize to some strangers that were just trying to politely make small talk in asking me this question, and I instead went into this monologue about every detail of my Monday, Thursday, and Friday mornings. I feel like if I’ve been given this gift of time, but I have sadly attached strings to that time. Since I do not work a full time job, and since I pay money for my kids to go to pre-school, I better be able prove that I’m using my time wisely. Prove that it’s worth it. Prove that I’m worth it. 

So I am simultaneously trying to convince people that I am far from perfect, but using my time perfectly all at the same time. I’m emotionally exhausted. 

When you meet someone for the first time, one of the first questions they ask is “What do you do?” “Tell me about yourself.” My answer has always been, “I’m a teacher!” For the past year and a half, that answer has been, “I have triplets!” But now I have time to be more than just a mom of triplets. I have time to do things and find myself again. So back to the question…who am I? Who do I want to be?

My revelation is slowly coming from 2 places – first from my husband Derek (the birthplace of most of my revelations) and also from Lauren Daigle. 

First, Derek preached a sermon at our church a few weeks ago about the Holy Spirit and led everyone in an exercise of breath prayer. Click here to check it out.

At the end of the exercise you are standing with Jesus and he is looking you in the eyes and calmly and gently asks, What can I do for you? And I immediately wanted to yell – WHO AM I? Who am I, Jesus? What am I supposed to do with my life? I knew the answer was that I am His. I knew that. But even then I didn’t feel like it was enough. I didn’t feel like I was enough. I felt like well sure, of course I’m yours, but I still need to earn your love and Derek’s love and my kids’ love and my friends’ and parents’ love. I know I’m yours, but what do I need to DO?? Who am I was so intimately tied to what I do. It has always been tied to my grades, my thoughtfulness, my church attendance, my athletic ability, my relationship status, the size of my ministry, the way I care for others…

Then, a couple weeks Lauren Daigle released a new album called “Look Up Child.” The entire album has been on repeat at my house but one song in particular has been really speaking truth over me. In it, she asks the same question: “Remind me who I am!?” And the answer has nothing to do with WHAT she does but WHOSE she is. “You say I am loved…You say I am strong…You say I am held…You say that I am Yours.” That has to be enough. And all I need to do is believe.

Believe that I am loved. Believe that I don’t have to earn love. Believe that my goals and my identity and the answer to the question about my “free” time and all of the million things that need to get done everyday…they aren’t what makes me, ME. I still need to dream big dreams and create and aspire to do and listen to what God calls me, BUT that has nothing to do with who I am. I was so convinced that those things were all tied together. If all I get done in the 4 hours that the kids are at school is to refocus my brain and remind myself that I am loved, it was a successful morning. I don’t have to prove myself. I am enough.

Let me just leave these song lyrics with you and the link to the youtube video:

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low?

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know (ooh oh)

You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong when I think I am weak

You say I am held when I am falling short

When I don’t belong, oh You say that I am Yours

And I believe (I), oh I believe (I)

What You say of me (I)

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity.

You are not the sum of what you DO. You are loved. You are strong. You are a child of the King. You are enough.

Approval Addiction Part 2

ennea app visualIf you haven’t already read “Approval Addiction part 1,” you might want to go check out my brief overview of the Enneagram and the background of this post. I wanted to split up my Enneagram Two thoughts into two posts because this set deals specifically with me as a “Two” mom. Like I said before, I have always struggled with pleasing others. I have high anxiety and fear and shame about disappointing others. It will always be something that I battle. It will always be something that I will daily hand over to God. That said, the shame of not being enough has been tripled lately with the addition of my 3 beautiful children.

The whole having kids thing, especially three at a time, means that all I want to do and think I can do is take care of them (and all of the other people in my life). Then, I have no time left to take care of myself. I feel so much pressure to take care of them and everyone else around me all at the same time, and I am exhausted from my inability to be everything for everyone all the time. The beautiful thing is that I do not need to be everything or even half of the things that I place on myself. Believing that I am enough is hard, but identifying the lies buried deep down and speaking truth over them, is the first step. Writing down my thoughts in this blog has helped give me freedom to believe them. I re-read these thoughts regularly. Usually my head is filled with others’ feelings and emotions so writing and re-reading this blog helps me remember truth and my true thoughts and feelings. 

Just like the last post, many of these thoughts may resonate with you even if you are not a Two on the Enneagram. Many mothers and females in the church feel anxiety over being a helper as they try to balance all that life calls them to be and do. We are being told by so many people and places exactly what our lives need to look like. We are told that our role is to support and be in the background and not lead. 

I hope that you also find truth and freedom as you read as well.

Please tread cautiously and graciously as you enter into my thoughts for the next few minutes. Recognize that this is difficult for me, and that I am just beginning to figure out how to break free from them. 

Thought #1: Before kids I had time to be an unhealthy Two, running around taking care of everyone, needing to be needed, creating this web of support where I was validated and lifted up for my helpfulness. Now with the kids, I just don’t have the time. So I’m running around trying to patch these holes that are just constantly dripping with water, and it’s impossible to help them all. I’m so afraid that one will burst open and it will be my fault. And in reality they are bursting. I will always love taking care of others, doing ministry, mentoring, and reaching out. There is a healthy way to take care of people. In order to get there, I have to realize that I am not the savior. I love being a Two. I love that I genuinely enjoy serving, mentoring, teaching, being a mom, and giving of myself. Those things bring me life and will always fill me with joy and purpose. I love that I am good at seeing a need and knowing what to do. I love that I am an encourager. I don’t want to ever lose that piece of me. However, I need to let go of the lie that everyone needs me in order to rebuild and regain life and purpose in knowing that Jesus is the one that speaks through me. I am nothing without Him. He should fight for me. I need to be still and quiet and let Him use me instead of me trying to use Him as my excuse to be loved and needed. My ministry will be even stronger when I realize that I am not the savior, Jesus is the savior. I am not that important. But in humility and with confidence I can have a ministry that involves vulnerability, empathy, and boundaries. 

Thought #2: I have 20 texts right now, and it is physically painful to not look at them and respond right now because someone might need me, and I wasn’t able to help them. But if I sit and respond right now, I take away time from my family. They suffer when I keep trying to plug all of the holes and take care of everyone around me. I have to push against the urge to be needed. Saying yes to others often means saying no to my family.

Thought #3: Derek said one small thing that I needed to do, and I lost it because I failed to anticipate that need before he voiced it. I already feel like I am drowning, and when Derek says something that even remotely sounds like disappointment, I lose it. I panic. I just can’t do it all. That pressure to be all things, doesn’t come from Derek though. It comes from myself. In fact, if I said “Derek, I can’t do that small thing right now.” He would say, “That’s totally fine! We can deal with it later.” Why do I put so much pressure on myself? 

Thought #4: I’m learning more and more recently that often the feelings that I have are not my own. It’s really hard for me to identify my feelings and how I feel when people are hurting around me. I feel their feelings so strongly that I think they are mine. And sometimes they are. When I’m around my kids, it’s even harder for me to identify my real feelings. They are always needy, so my feelings are often about them or for them. It’s really hard to express my personal needs because my brain is so full of their needs.

Thought #5: Derek regularly asks me a simple question (like where to put something or what do I want to eat) and my response is a panicked – “I don’t know!” I am a terrible multi-tasker. With 3 kids, I am constantly doing at least 4 things at a time and my brain is so full. Even the simplest question seems impossible, especially if it’s about myself or my needs or my feelings. I have found that calmly saying, “Can you write that question down?” or “Can you ask me again in a few minutes after I have finished the task at hand?” helps tremendously.

Thought #6: Shepherd bit another student at school. I cried and had a panic attack about him going back to school the next day. I want to please everyone and with kids it’s exhausting because I can’t control what they do. I now disappoint people through my kids. It’s a whole new level of balance and letting go. I want to be able to control how they act. I don’t want people to be disappointed in me because of what they do. I want them to be kind so badly, but I can’t force it. And I’m mad at myself for getting so anxious and stressed about it and feel like a burden in that too. I’m still working on the solution to this one. But identifying it is the first step. I have a feeling that I will circle back to this one in another post soon, so stay tuned and please pass along any wisdom that you have found helpful!

Thought #7: I don’t have trouble asking for help and receiving help when I ask. Because in that, I still have control. But when someone offers help that I haven’t asked for our just helps and sees a need that I didn’t see, it’s much harder and I feel guilty that maybe I missed their needs and can’t help them.

Thought #8: I can let people help if it in turn blesses them or helps someone else. And if I take care of myself, it must be to immediately bless someone else. The truth is that it’s ok to just take care of myself. It’s not selfish to do things simply because they bring me life. In fact, I’m much better at taking care of those that I love after taking care of myself. 

I have an inner voice constantly telling me that I am not enough, a failure, and unlovable. Telling this voice to shut up does not help. Speaking gently and confidently to it does. I legit tell it to step down, stop talking, and walk away. Then I speak truth into those areas. Brene Brown says it perfectly in Gifts of Imperfection: “No matter what gets done and how much is left undone. I am enough. It’s going to bed at night thinking, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.” (Page 125 if you are interested.)

I have been asked by several people for the Enneagram resources that I have used. Here are my favorites:

 

Book:

The Road Back to you

Podcasts:

Annie Downs with Beth McCord – Overview of the Enneagram

Jen Hatmaker with Ian Cron– Overview of the Enneagram

The Enneagram Journey by Suzanne Stabile – very detailed and every episode that I have listened to has been amazing

The Road Back to You – The authors of the book also have a podcast that is really helpful

 

Meditation and Imperfection

If you have not read Brene Brown’s book The Gifts of Imperfection then do everyone and yourself a favor and go to Amazon right now and order it. In fact, let me give you the link: click this!  I’m not kidding. Forget reading this post, go now. It has changed what I believe about myself and my lifelong battle with perfectionism and anxiety. Well, this book along with a very helpful therapist and learning about the Enneagram have helped me start to find the root of my anxiety and panic attacks. I hope you read that correctly that this is just the beginning. I still have a long way to go and will always probably struggle with both perfectionism and anxiety. But I have felt so much freedom in several things that I want to share. 

First of all, the highlight of this book and the main thing that I learned from my counselor was simple but huge – I need to love myself more. I need to be kind to myself. The root of my panic attacks is my anger. Anger at myself. It’s not the root of my anxiety. I’ll talk about that more later, but it is the difference between feeling overwhelmed and entering into a full blown panic attack. I just get so mad! I’m talking hysterical ANGER. I scream and want to hit things and just hate who I am in that moment. I cannot logically pull myself together. I feel like a burden and like I’m letting everyone down around me. I feel like I’m wasting time that could be spent sleeping or resting or pouring into all of these people that love me daily. I start to spiral into pure shame and guilt. Shame that I am not strong enough. Guilt that I again have failed. Brene is an expert in shame research. It’s amazing the way shame and perfectionism are tied together. I feel so ashamed that I can’t be the person that I want to be. Which causes me to be so angry. It’s also amazing how I think it’s ok to call myself an idiot (and much harsher words). I would be so upset if my kids ever spoke those words about themselves, or if they ever heard me speak those words out loud. In her book Brene says, “I don’t want my level of self-love to limit how much I can love my children or my husband…loving them and accepting their imperfections is much easier than turning that light of loving-kindness on myself…I know that I can talk to myself in ways that I would never consider talking to another person.” Why is it so much easier to beat myself up? 

In an effort to train my brain in self compassion and to lavish grace on myself and others, I have started meditating in the morning. I always thought that just sitting and breathing was weird and a waste of time. (I don’t know if you can tell, but I really hate wasting time.) I started though with an app that my counselor told me about called Meditation Studio. I have also tried the app Headpsace. Meditation studio uses mindfulness meditation which I like a little better. Both of these talk you through how to be gracious even in the quiet. It reminds me to not be angry when my mind inevitably drifts or when I spend 5/10 minutes daydreaming or nodding off.

The main focus of meditation is breathing and giving grace in those moments of quiet. Following along with an app when you first get started is so helpful. It’s like having a personal trainer when you are trying to get in shape for the first time. It helps keep me accountable and really instills the grace over myself that I desperately need. And most importantly it is teaching me how to breathe. I know that sounds weird, but breathing in meditation is an artform. I have always been an athlete. In sports, especially in running, I was taught different ways to breathe to best enhance my performance. Meditation breathing is similar. If you focus on how your body reacts to the breaths and on how your mouth and stomach and nose respond to each breath, it helps your muscles to slowly relax and your mind to focus. I have to be intentional about relaxing my legs and toes, my arms and shoulders and fingers, my jaw and head. With each breath, I release a little more guilt and pent up pressure and relax a little bit more. 

It was really hard at first for me to sit still and just breathe for 10 minutes. Now though, I can’t picture starting my day any other way.  That small amount of quiet breathing changes and shapes my mind the rest of the day. I often still get overwhelmed because I still have triplets and life is still messy, but I subconsciously start taking deep breaths and am more apt to give myself grace. The breaths bring me back to those 5-10 minutes of peace that morning. I am reminded of what calm looks like. I have a reference point of how to relax. I remind myself that it’s normal to get overwhelmed. Brene talks in her book about how to identify an issue or problem without over identifying it. I tend to do that a lot. I am really good at over identifying my weaknesses instead of just naming them, owning them, and moving forward. Meditation gives me the space to practice identifying a weakness and moving on. Even if that weakness is not being able to focus that morning. I simply say “wandering” and refocus without beating myself up. Learning to let go of most of that anger has been so freeing. 

To make this my own, I often combine meditation with breath prayer and lectio devina. I read a psalm and pick out one word or phrase that really sticks out to me. Then I set my timer to 5-10 minutes or I start my app, and I just sit. I sit up straight, keep the lights off, lay my hands out, close my eyes, and I breathe. I slowly breathe in and out (4 seconds in, 4 seconds out). And I focus on that word or phrase and focus on my breathing. If my mind wanders, I just gently say wandering, and gracefully move back into breathing in and out – in through my nose, out through my mouth. As I breathe in I picture that word or phrase. As I breathe out, I release everything else so that in time just that word remains. It remains on my heart and in my mind the rest of the day.

Sometimes, if I have a certain person pressing on my heart as I enter into my meditation time, I can spend that time focusing on breath prayer for them. It’s best to stick with just one person so you don’t spend the whole time jumping around. With each breath, I breathe in calm and breathe out a word that I want to pray over them. I breathe in peace or grace and breathe out strength or confidence to cover them for today.

I have also used meditation breaths at night if I can’t sleep. I have woken up several times in the middle of the night with my brain spinning about all the things that need to happen or a crazy dream. Once I start meditation breathing, my body is reminded to calm down, think logically, and to relax.

Other times I use my mantra or theme verse for this season in my life as I meditate. I spend the entire 10 minutes really placing the words on my heart and in my mind. I have it memorized, so I close my eyes and say one word with each deep breath. I slowly in the morning ingrain it in my mind, so that when I start to get overwhelmed in the day, I start breathing and that verse is on the tip of my tongue and in my head. It’s amazing what memorizing scripture and simply breathing will do.

My verse for the year that has spoken truth to me in so many ways is Exodus 14: 13-14. it says: 

“Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the LORD’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you must be quiet.”

“Don’t be afraid” – In the moments of complete exhaustion and when that long list of overwhelming things that has to be done all at one time is almost too much to bear, smile. Remember the way that God has already delivered you. Remember who you are. Remember who HE is. Know that you are enough. Give yourself grace. Don’t be afraid of what is to come. Don’t be afraid to be you. Don’t be afraid to say No. Don’t be afraid to say Yes. Smile.

“Stand firm” – Breathe. Be present. Stand in this current moment. Don’t drift into the past or let your mind wander into all of the things that you need to get done tomorrow. Don’t run or lay down. STAND. Stand FIRM. Be strong. You are strong. God is stronger. Be still. Breathe.

“And see the LORD’s salvation that he will accomplish for you today” – You are not the savior. You are not a martyr. You can’t save everyone or anyone. It’s the LORD who does the saving. He is the savior. He is the deliverer. Take that pressure off. He will keep His promises. You are not alone. He is with you TODAY. He is doing great things today. 

“For the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again.” – The context of this verse comes right before the crossing of the Red Sea. The Israelites were escaping the Egyptians. The plagues had already happened. They had already placed the blood over their doorframe in Egypt as death fell on the firstborn son and animal of the Egyptians, but the Lord passed over the Israelites. They were protected, and then they were delivered. The LORD delivered them and led them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. All too soon though the Israelites forgot. The Egyptians had changed their minds and began to chase them. They were right on their heals and the Red Sea was trapping them. They felt like there was no way out. Surely this was the end? Surely God can’t protect us this time? But here Moses is proclaiming that this fear is formed from lies. The truth is that these Egyptians – this huge, impossible, demon that is chasing you and trying to devour you – there will come a day when you will never see it again. God will win. The Lord will deliver you. He is big enough. He is strong enough. He is a God of redemption. He is a God of deliverance.

“The LORD will fight for you”  I have been doing a lot of fighting lately… 

Fighting for perfection.

Fighting to not be a burden.

Fighting to help everyone.

Fighting to be seen and known.

Fighting to be a good mom.

Fighting to be a good wife.

Fighting to be a good daughter, sister, friend.

Fighting to remember every detail.

Fighting to find myself.

Fighting myself.

Fighting for control.

Fighting to be worthy of love.

Fighting for forgiveness for my constant shortcomings.

Stop. The LORD will fight FOR you.

“and you must be quiet.” – It doesn’t say that you must fight with Him. It doesn’t say that you must complete a list of tasks before you are worthy of being fought for. It doesn’t say that you must look a certain way or act a certain way or be prepared. You don’t have to be perfect or have it all figured out. You just have to be quiet. 

So today – may you be filled with all the goodness and measure of the Lord’s promise. May you allow Him to fight for you. May you be still and see His deliverance in your life. You are worthy. You are loved.

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Grace Not Perfection

Derek and I are so grateful that we were able to go back to China this year. We took 20 high school students along with 2 other amazing adults and spent 10 days in a place that is close to both of our hearts. Derek has been going to Shepherd’s Field Children’s Village outside of Beijing for 10 years, and it is was my 4th trip. It’s hard to explain how beautiful this special needs orphanage is to us and so many others. We love the way they love and show Jesus to the world. The second reason that this trip was so good for me was that I was able to really pour into the high school students that came with us. I loved getting to be 100% focused on them. I love the way God has provided a ministry for Derek and I in this season with 3 little ones. We absolutely love that our house is open to students frequently to just come and play and talk and hang out. That’s what we have always dreamed of. When SLO is running around though, I am constantly switching between focusing on the kids and students. In China, I loved just getting to focus on those amazing 20 students that we brought with us! We had so many great conversations about life and Jesus and how to love ourselves and others and how to make Jesus come alive in the everyday. The third reason that China was so life giving to me was that I was able to eat 3 meals a day while sitting (the food in China is the BEST!!), and I got to read! I haven’t had much time lately to read (shocker right?!) so getting to pour over some good books was really refreshing to me.

I was very intentional about choosing books that would help me in my quest to find peace in my imperfections since this is something that I desperately need. The two books that I chose were Grace Not Perfection by Emily Ley and The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. 

Grace Not Perfection was good and practical and spoke truth into many of the things that I am currently doing. I already live a pretty organized life. I get rid of clutter. I make time for things that bring me life — like good conversations with girls that I mentor, writing, working out, quiet time in the morning. I get good sleep (surprising, right?). I ask for help. I still have date nights with Derek. I have given up on the picture perfect house and clothes and babies and have enjoyed and found contentment in our own beautiful circus (cue Greatest Showman music – my new favorite album). We have a house cleaner and aren’t ashamed of asking for help. We have good community and family that pour into us constantly. We also seek it out and are intentional with surrounding ourselves with people that love us and love our kids well.

Even though most of Grace Not Perfection was just re-iterating these things that I already believed and practiced, the last section was really good for me. I want to share a little excerpt. First though, let me put this into perspective. I am writing this morning with 2 sick kids at home and the 3rd will probably get sick in the morning. I’m talking 104.7 high fevers for 4 days each kid (not at the same time so it lasts forever). We have had our fair share of sickness lately. Sick babies and being trapped inside takes a toll on me. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again. One baby is hard, triplets are really hard, sick triplets are near impossible. Derek and I had planned on me having a day to work on writing and AP Statistics this week, so I decided to try and go today. I spent the first hour of my time sitting in the parking lot of the coffee shop crying hysterically in my car, stressing about the kids being sick, stressed about Derek trying to be super dad (which he actually is super dad) and not calling me if it gets too hard, mad that they are always sick, and mad at myself for not being able to let go of everything. On top of that, my AP Statistics online class didn’t work out, so I’m mad and upset that I don’t have stat to work on. Mostly though I’m angry that my kids are always sick. That when my kids get sick, all 3 get sick and it takes 3 times longer for them to get better and so few people really understand what that’s like. I’m angry that the summer is more than half over, and we have only had a couple days at home with 3 healthy kids. I’m angry that I can’t just sit and hold my sick baby(ies) because there are always 2 others to chase. I’m mad that instead of enjoying my morning off, I’m worried about the kids and unable to shut my brain off and let go. So in that frame of mind, I read this from Emily Ley’s Grace Not Perfection:

“This isn’t how it’s supposed to look… Stop right there. How is it supposed to look? When we create fantasy images in our heads, we slay the beauty in our lives. Comparison truly is the thief of joy. And we’ve established that standard of perfection in our work and our families based on what? Social media highlight reels? Perfect people? (Im telling you — they’re like unicorns. They don’t exist.) Being a woman with many loves and responsibilities will test your patience, stretch your will, and make you love more fiercely than you ever thought possible – because time is your most precious commodity. Remember, though, that this part of life — this busy, crazy, circus-like place you’re in — is but a season. It will come and go just like all the others. Let some things slide. It’s ok if you don’t wash your hair for a week at a time during this phase. (That’s what dry shampoo and top knots are for!) There will be plenty of other times to be that kind of beautiful. Now is the time to be another kind of beautiful. Now is the time for patience, gracefulness, four books before bed, thoughtful communication, adventures, and being a master at Candy Land.”

So today instead of dwelling in the land of self-pity and self-hatred, I will seek to love where I am and who I am. I will do my best to spend a few extra minutes laughing at the crazy and a few less minutes on my phone. I will steal all the hugs and sick snuggles that I can get, even if they are fewer than most. I will cut myself some slack and give myself and my friends and my husband and my kids grace, grace, and more grace. And then I will give myself a little more grace. I am hardest on myself. Many years ago, before I was even married, I sat with a 10th grade student that is now one of my dearest kindred spirits. She shared with me about her struggles with anxiety. She gave me a quote that was her phone’s screensaver and has sense been my screensaver off and on for a long time. It said, “I will hold myself to a standard of Grace not Perfection.”

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This has been my screensaver off and on for several years.

Since then, we have both been through many ups and downs, and we both come back to that phrase often. It’s not something that you learn once and move on. It’s a constant daily battle. But today, and then again tomorrow, and then the next day, I will strive to hold myself to a standard of grace not perfection. In the next post, I’ll share with you about how Brene Brown and her book really opened my eyes as to why this is so hard and how to start to try to fumble into letting grace become my reality.

Let’s Talk About Anxiety

I have always been high stress and high anxiety. As a high school student, I was not satisfied with anything less than a 100. As a teacher myself, I now understand why my teachers were often frustrated when I would argue my 1 point after making a 99. I was that kid. I also played about 5 sports depending on the year. You could say I am fairly competitive…ok very competitive. I hate losing. I hate failure. I hate dependency. I love to be the one helping others and hate when I have let someone down. I have a very high standard for myself. Mistakes waste time. 

It turns out that these qualities clash a little with being a parent…especially a parent to 3 babies at one time. At any given moment, I am holding one screaming child while trying to chase 2 more. While my body is physically chasing children, my mind is simultaneously trying to plan out dinner, pack for the day, prep for tutoring, connect with friends, figure out how to best form community, attend church and bible study, mentor high school/college girls, be intentional about my marriage, treat each of my kids as individuals, be present, have quiet time, take care of myself, eat well, be a good daughter, a good sister…These are all good things, but my mind is exploding. I am beyond overwhelmed. I am constantly failing at something. I have written before about my dependency (see last post), and I am constantly feeling like I’m letting someone down or forgetting something. My brain just doesn’t have enough room. The result equals lots and lots of panic attacks. I’m talking curled in a ball, hysterically crying, unable to think logically, panic attacks. I kept trying to “fix” them. I joined the gym and REALLY thought that would be the end of the panic attacks. Surely I just need to work out, then I won’t be overwhelmed. It did help. It actually helped a lot, but I still got overwhelmed. And when I got overwhelmed I felt like a failure and then got stressed about being overwhelmed and felt guilty for being overwhelmed and felt like a burden on everyone around me…cue another panic attack. After a week of not sleeping because I was having panic attacks all night, I decided I needed a different solution. 

I have been mentoring for as long as I can remember. It brings me so much life and purpose to walk through life with girls that are younger than me. I love being vulnerable and honest and learn just as much from them as they do from me. It has always and will always be a part of my life. In fact, it’s how Derek and I met. We both love doing ministry and especially love when our ministries overlap. In ministry and mentoring, I tell girls constantly how amazing counseling is and how normal it is to need to share your thoughts and emotions with a professional that can help you sort through all of the millions of jumbled webs in your head. The funny and ironic thing is that I didn’t think that I needed to go to a counselor. I didn’t need counseling. I could do this by myself. I was fine. I could fix this. Counseling is too expensive. I am too busy. I’ll just pray more and it will all go away. I believed these things to be true. Turns out, that didn’t make them true.

In ministry, I also talk a lot about how important it is to understand that mental health is real just like physical health is real, but to be honest it’s still hard for me to really wrap my head around that concept. Recently Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain lost their lives to suicide and again I am reminded of the truth that so many people do not understand mental health. I believe that many of us deep down think that if we are full of the Spirit and if we are close enough to God and read our Bible enough and have enough quiet time, that we don’t need help with anxiety; we don’t need counseling. If we have God, we won’t be depressed or have panic attacks. The phrase “mentally ill” gets responses like. “Oh, they really need Jesus in their life.” While someone with cancer or a broken bone or an ear infection gets prayed for in a totally different way. I am not depressed, but I am not mentally well either. I have been so angry at myself for not being able to control my thoughts. I have been so angry that I have punched walls and the floor and yelled. I have been so disappointed in myself and felt so much shame and guilt because somewhere deep down I believe that I should be able to get a hold of this. I can control this. I can fix this. Or at least, God can fix this. I just have to pray more.

I want to say very clearly that I believe that if you are depressed or struggle with anxiety or any sort of mental illness:

1. You are not alone.

2. It is not your fault.

3. Prayer, and Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are real and alive and strong and powerful. I believe that God heals. But in the same way that someone with a broken arm needs to go to a doctor, oftentimes if you are dealing with depression or anxiety or any other mental illness, you need to get help. AND IT’S OK TO GET HELP!!!! 

It doesn’t mean that we aren’t strong enough or close enough to God. It doesn’t mean that we have failed. I think that everyday it is becoming more and more socially acceptable to proclaim that you go to counseling. Even though that is true, and even though I finally did go. I have only been once and it was amazing and so helpful (I’ll talk more about it later), but I’m nervous to go back. Most days I have again convinced myself that I don’t really need it. I convince myself that it’s too expensive or that I don’t have the time. Derek (my oh so wise husband) strongly explained one day that if I broke my arm, I wouldn’t sit around saying, “Sorry I’m not going to the doctor because it’s too expensive.” Or “I would love to go to the doctor to fix my broken arm, but I just don’t have time.” When will I finally wrap my head around the fact that mental and physical illnesses are not that different?

I’m not writing this, pretending that I have all the answers. I don’t. In fact, I have few answers. But what I do know, is that there is no shame in seeking help. 

Surviving the Sick Season with little kids

January-April has been filled with germs, snot, teething, ear infections, Hand Foot Mouth (Satan’s disease), sinus infections, pollen, eye infections…The list goes on. We have officially been through 5 bottles of tylenol, 5 bottles of motrin, about 8 bottles of nasal sinus rinse, been to the doctor more times then I can count, and we survived! Well as I write this, I just got back from the doctor and 4/6 ears on my triplets are infected again, so kind of survived. haha I will start off by saying that many of you have had it MUCH worse. My babies are overall very healthy babies, and I am beyond grateful so please don’t read this as me complaining. BUT it has been hard. By the end, we gave up on trying to keep the healthy baby (or babies) from getting the sickness and just started trying to infect them from day 1 so that we could have 3 sick babies at one time instead of a sick baby constantly. No matter how hard we tried to quarantine or keep pacifiers, toys, and cups separate, it’s just not possible. Everything goes into their mouths, so it’s just impossible to prevent the spreading of germs.  When Shepherd and Lucy got Hand Foot and Mouth (seriously it was the worst), Oliver was healthy for a day and a half, and we felt bad for a little bit knowing that it was just a matter of time until he succumbed to the terrible sores and fevers that is HFM. There is no way to quarantine him so we just started feeding him after S&L. We pretty much just sped up the inevitable. As sad as that sounds, I would suggest that to any Moms of Multiples out there. When one gets sick, let the others get sick quickly. Make them share spoons or pacifiers. They WILL get each other sick. It is so much easier to have one really hard week, then to have 3 pretty hard weeks. 

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Having sick babies was and is hard in ways that I did not expect. The hardest part of making it through this sick season has been taking care of myself. I started out this blog as a way to process all that God has done in our journey from miscarriage, to infertility, through IVF, and now as we raise our triplets. We have had many unique (or maybe not so unique) experiences, and I hope that we can provide resources to people going through similar circumstances. Throughout this entire journey I have been completely open and honest because Derek and I believe that healing comes through brokenness and that community is truly formed in vulnerability. So in that frame of mind I’m also going to share with you my weakness over the past few months and things that I have been doing to bring peace and healing to those areas.

I have always been a “do it myself” kind of independent person. I love exploring and run everywhere. I rarely do things slowly and am pretty clumsy because I just start moving and end up running into something. I love to be outdoors. I thrive on sunshine, good company, and stretching my muscles. I love to help others and to lead others and talk to others. I am a 2 “The Helper” on the Enneagram Test but tend toward an 8 “The Challenger” in times of stress. Lately, my 8 self has been strong. I have been stressed and anxious. I have had panic attacks. I have been controlling. I have not been eating healthy things. I have not been drinking water. I have been pouring every ounce of me into the kids and some into Derek and friends and mentoring but not much into me. I have spent days and weeks trapped inside on sick weeks with no space to move, fresh air, or people to talk to. The thing about panic attacks is that you stop thinking logically. When I am in a good place, I know that this is a season and that sickness doesn’t last forever. I know deep down that I am doing a good job and that I am not alone. I know logically that the kids will be fine (maybe even better off) if I do an ok job at parenting instead of a “perfect” job. I know that it’s ok to stress. But when I am in the middle of a panic attack, nothing makes sense. I start out by stressing about something that is not a huge deal. Then I get stressed about feeling stressed, and mad at myself for not keeping it together. Then I feel guilty about not keeping it together, which makes me stress more. So I feel guilty about being stressed and then I stress about feeling more guilty. The stress about being stressed is the worst. If the kids are around, then I can pull myself out of the stress cycle quicker, but if I’m alone or just with Derek my mind goes haywire. I get so stressed that I can’t eat, and I forget to drink water, and I just started to snowball. 

In that insane period of about 6 weeks when I didn’t know what day it was or what time of day at any given moment, I had to give up my desire for independence and embrace the beauty community. Derek and I are incredibly blessed with a village that would bring us food or come hold sick babies even if it meant they might get sick. My mom came for an unplanned visit to help clean and let me eat and do laundry. We had people send texts and grubhub (it’s one of our new favorite ways to bless people – food delivered right to your door – There are so many options to choose from!). When you aren’t sure how to help someone struggling regardless of the thing causing the stress, food always helps! Even now that the kids have been healthy for a little while and life has calmed down, I have people offering to bring food, and it is always a huge blessing! We also had people providing wisdom left and right and seriously, even though I felt isolated and trapped, I never was. So many people loved us well. But, I still felt like I was just surviving. 

Finally during Spring Break (first week of April), Derek was home all week and the kids were healthy for an entire week which hadn’t happened since the beginning of January. Together we started brainstorming ways to get me back to my – just stressing a normal amount – self. I needed margin. I needed the kids to start napping. I needed to dream about possibilities of using my brain again. I needed to reach out to all of the women that mentor me and help me process. I needed to have time that was just for me regularly. I needed time to eat and drink water. So, I joined a gym. Not just a gym, but a gym with childcare! Some days, I barely work out and enjoy just sitting in the sauna or in a comfy chair or at the cafe. Some seasons are just seasons of survival. It’s part of life. Sometimes life is just hard and exhausting. When you can take a breath or even before you get there, make sure that you find ways to really take care of yourself. Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone! Some people need to work in the yard, plant flowers, get their hands dirty. Some people need to carve out time each day to sit in the quiet and read a book or listen to a podcast. For me, I needed to use my brain and get some exercise.  In addition to joining the gym, I started tutoring more. It sounds crazy that adding something to my plate made me stress less, but I have loved getting to use my math brain!!

Another thing that Derek and I have both always done is to spend quiet time in the morning. We are both morning people so we also usually get up early everyday. I give myself about an hour before the kids get up to eat, pray, stretch, get dressed and fix my hair. That simple act of getting ready calmly and without rushing actually does help. A lot! It’s often the only meal I eat in peace, and it’s the only meal that I get to eat all of. I usually have to share half of my meals with my 3 beautiful vultures. 

Another thing that I love doing to bring peace and wisdom into my life is that I ask a few women that I admire and love (some my age, some older and full of wisdom) to come hang out with me. I ask them questions about how they handled parenting situations. I listen to their stories and find camaraderie in knowing that I am not crazy or “the only one.” Mostly though I just hang out with them. Having people to mentor you is clutch! Shout out to all of you wonderful women that I admire and cherish (you know who you are!). Thanks for bringing joy and wisdom to my crazy swirly mind 🙂

I have also learned that when someone asks what they can do for me, I actually give them something tangible that they can do. I ask them to bring me food or to come play with kids or to come hold a screaming sick child for me. I have learned that most people who ask if they can do something genuinely want to help. Letting them isn’t easy. I am very independent. I hate not being able to do everything on my own. It physically pains me some days. But in letting others love me and love my kids I have gained so much more. I have also realized that it brings other people joy to help. For starters my babies are seriously cute, so who wouldn’t want to help. haha But for real, when you refuse to let people help, it takes away their ability to bless which isn’t good for you or for them. Letting others serve you is so hard sometimes. We always want to be the ones washing the feet, but sometimes my feet are just too tired, and I need to sit down and let other people in.

What works for me though, may not work for you. The bottom line, take time to figure out what brings you life and find a way to get that into your regular routine. If you don’t know what brings you life, then start searching. Taking care of yourself takes work. It takes time. It takes courage. Asking people to come into your life, your messy life or messy home, is hard. Sometimes it’s plain embarrassing, but it’s what brings life. Im learning to embrace my dependence. 

Top 3 Teething Toys and Top 5 all time Favorite Things That I Never Knew I Needed

A few more lists just for fun! Remember to click on the link in red to find out more info.

Top 3 Favorite Teething toys

#3 Sophie The Giraffe

These are expensive and I was very skeptical. BUT they are the perfect size, have lots of appendages for the kids to grab and hold, and is the perfect texture to chew.

#2 Banana Toothbrush

This was a surprisingly amazing toy. The bristles feel so good on their little gums and the shape makes it so easy to hold!

#1 Ice Rings

Some days these are the only things that help our babies calm down when their teeth hurt. If I go to the freezer for anything, Lucy immediately runs and tries to grab a teething ring before I can close it. They treat them like popsicles.

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Top 5 Favorite Things I Never Knew I Needed

#5 Things to make homemade baby food

I know that most people think it will take too long to make their own baby food, but if we can do it with triplets, so can you. We also bought some form the store so please don’t hear me say that you shouldn’t buy food if that’s what works for you. Just know that if you really want to make it, or need to save money, it is possible! We blended in our ninja blender and then halfway through we got a good immersion blender and it was amazing! We would pour the mixture in these freezer silicone molds. In the morning, we would pull out what we needed for that day and keep the rest frozen. I only made really easy and cheap things and bought the other flavors for variety. We saved a lot of money though by making the easy things. Sweet potatoes, carrots, bananas, avocados, and unsweetened applesauce. You can also throw in kale and spinach to any of those very easily. If you want more info let me know.

#4 Amazon Alexa and a good playlist

I never realized how much I would appreciate Alexa. She has become my friend. haha As a stay at home mom, I often only talk to Derek and Alexa on a given day. Derek and I made a bunch of different playlists on spotify and stations on pandora and changing up my music throughout the day always brightens my mood. The kids also look at the echo every time I say Alexa. I wonder if they think she is a real person? I love starting my morning each day with worship music and it is so easy to just tell Alexa to play any music my heart desires 🙂 She also gives me the news each morning and helps me stay connected to the outside world.

#3 Baby Cage

We call it a cage, others call it a play yard 🙂 It is so helpful not just so that I can walk away safely, but when the babies are all in one place it makes it so much easier to get them calm and entertained. I only use the Dupelo blocks and bristle blocks in this play yard so they aren’t all over the house. It keeps certain toys contained to one small area! It is also easy to take apart. I used a few of the pieces to block off my Christmas tree this year and the babies never got to the tree. I used a few of the pieces to block off the stairs and certain rooms when I want to contain them. I also plan on taking it outside this summer to put in the grass!

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#2 Baby Breeza

If you have just one baby, and especially if you breastfeed, then you probably won’t need this. BUT if you have multiples and/or you formula feed, this is a MUST!! I mean a COMPLETE game changer!! In our peak days, we were making 24 bottles a DAY. That is a LOT of bottles. This machine is a keriug for baby bottles. You put the formula powder I the top, water on the side, tell it what amount you want and it dispenses the perfectly mixed and perfectly warm bottle. Also, if you get one, we have tips on how to make it work even better!

#1 Wagon

We got our kids this wagon for Christmas, and it has been so much fun. If it’s too cold or rainy outside to go for a walk, they ask to just get in and be pushed around in the dining room. Some days I will just strap them in the wagon and we sit on the front porch. It’s great because they can put all of their toys in it and play while we walk. The straps keep them locked in tight and safe. We are having a blast with this thing and the fun has just become. It will grow with them for a long time 🙂