Have you ever read those blog posts where someone (usually an already busy mom) chooses a “focus word” for the next year of her life?  This theoretical blogger will often research ways to incorporate this focus word into her life on a weekly basis through reading, practice, prayer, etc.

I am not that kind of blogger.

Obviously.  I have a hard time posting weekly, let alone selecting a theme for my entire year.

I have however had ample time for thinking and prayer over the last few months, and without very many social and work engagements, I’ve found my mind has the ability to delve deeper into things it normally wouldn’t.

I have been praying and seeking a better way to mother.  I am, after all, a true full-time mother.  Without a part-time job or even an entire home to care for, much more of my time is spending teaching, guiding, and correcting the girls.  Lately I have been noticing habits in my mothering that I don’t like:  being easily distracted, being short-tempered, being sarcastic, and a few others.  I know these are not habits that will help my children to thrive, and I know that there is a better way.  I can improve, with help of course.

During one of my quiet times this week I was given one word in relation to my mothering:


My husband and I work hard to make sure that our children feel well-loved but that they also know they are not the center of our world.  We are trying to instill in them the value of selflessness.

The question, though, is whether I am modeling selfless behavior to my children.  Is there a correlation between how hard we have to work with the girls to keep them humble and my selfish behavior?

Sometimes, friends, the truth is warm and fuzzy, but this time; oh boy, this time the truth hit me over the head like a 2×4.

Some of the selfish behavior I see (and am annoyed by) in my children is a reflection of my own selfish behavior.  If I want to properly teach my children to be selfless adults, I have to first model selfless behavior.

Although I do not have a plan, and I do not have a cute graphic to go along with a weekly chart to help me focus on selflessness, this one word will be my focus for the next several weeks and months.

As I step into a season of sleeplessness, busyness, and much less free time, I know I will need to practice being selfless.  With the demands of two little girls plus a newborn, finding time for me will definitely be a challenge.  I am, however, determined not to let this define my mood and my behavior.  I have been entrusted with three little people to shape, guide, and care for, and it is a huge undertaking.  I cannot take this task lightly.  I cannot expect regular breaks like one would at their job; my job will demand a lot of me for a season, and that is okay.

If I can grow in selfless behaviors, I will be better able to serve my family in this season without burning out.  After all, it isn’t necessarily my workload that will cause me excessive stress, but my attitude about the workload.  If I can look at all the things I have to do to care for my children as blessings, I pray they won’t seem as difficult to tackle.  If feeding, diaper changes, cooking, bathing, teaching, and correcting become privileges of a blessed mother instead of the chores of a tired mother, imagine the difference there will be in the way I perform these tasks.

I tend to blog about things before I fully plan them, so to speak.  I haven’t often thought through my lofty ideas fully before I share them with my readers.  I hope to, though, continue to post more about my journey to becoming more selfless in the coming months (and years!) as I feel led.  In the meantime, I would like to leave you with a verse that I find both motivating and encouraging in this season of my life:

Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

Philippians 2:3-4

My blogging is sporadic at best, and this is a reflection on both my fatigue at the end of my pregnancy and the change in my husband’s work hours.  We have survived with him working on a second shift before, but this time, in light of lots of other changes, it seems a bit more difficult.

I don’t have much to say tonight except that I feel I am settling a bit more each day.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t still cry when I hear songs that remind me of Virginia, or that I don’t get upset thinking of the friends I miss from there.

I am beginning to introduce myself and talk more with others.  The girls and I visit a library story time each week, and I am finding it easier to strike up conversations with moms and childcare providers I see there each week.  I find myself interjecting with the information that we are “new to the area” less and less.  We have lived here over two months, after all.  We have seen the end of summer turn into fall, and in just over a month we will see fall roll into winter.

I have survived almost a full season here.

I have been reading an excellent book that I borrowed from a mom I met at a local park only two weeks after moving here.  It’s called After the Boxes are Unpacked:  Moving On After Moving In by Susan Miller.  She had moved several hours from her parents and family when she moved to this area of Wisconsin, and she offered the book, saying she had found it helpful.  Eager to find support of any  kind, I dove into the book head first.  In some chapters I felt the author was inside my head; she talked about losing one’s identity when you move away, as well as feelings of loneliness and hopelessness.  I had been feeling all of these, but hadn’t attributed them to the move; rather I had blamed my own weak mind for it.  In other chapters, I found excellent advice, such as to say yes to opportunities to socialize, even if you don’t necessarily feel like it.  The strong introvert in me will turn down social obligations like it is my job; if I am not going to see a few of my very good friends, I often do not go to gatherings, parties, etc.  Because of this book’s advice, though, I have said yes both to a weekly women’s bible study and a women’s social breakfast, both of which I found I enjoyed much more than I had anticipated.

I notice that as I settle more, the girls settle more, as well.  When we first moved we struggled with everything from nighttime waking, behavior regression, and potty-training regression.  It was exhausting for both my husband and I, and I knew the girls were expressing the stress they were under because of the move.  As I grew less anxious about being away from my old home and started to explore, both girls calmed down as well.  I took them along with me to find a midwife and doctor, a grocery store, a post office, and a gas station.  We found fun places to visit, and we settled on which were our favorite playgrounds.  As we did this, we all slept better at night and kept our pants dry.

Me included.


All in all, it feels like we settle a bit more each day, and each day I find myself enjoying new things here.  I enjoy that the sun goes down early and the girls can enjoy a beautiful sunset with me.  I enjoy the crisp fallen leaves crunching under our feet as we explore the farm.  I enjoy seeing cows literally every time we leave the house.  I enjoy exploring a new city, filled with lots of diverse people and different neighborhoods. I enjoy the star-filled sky at night.

And I continue to find more little things to enjoy as we continue to settle just a little bit more.

Do you ever find yourself paralyzed by an inability to get done what you need to get done?

Surely I can’t be the only person this happens to.

I find that I am a very special kind of procrastinator:  I can actually find myself so busy doing less important tasks that it distracts me from ones that are more important.

Case in Point:

I am 36 weeks pregnant (seriously, how am I that far along already??), and rather than spending more of my time actually setting up baby’s room, I find myself wanting to cook, prepare freezer meals, clean, or crochet.

Or sleep.

None of these tasks, though, will help to prepare me for Baby #3 (Wiggler)’s imminent arrival.

Because I am not at home, and I am not setting up one of “my” rooms for the baby, I found I run into issues often, and I get frustrated enough to step away.  It took me weeks to acquire a simple changing table and curtain, both of which I knew I would need as soon as we moved.  I found it difficult to make a decision as small as that.

When we pulled the crib out of storage, we discovered the hardware was missing, or rather misplaced.  After a few days of searching for it, we determined the hardware lost and began to move forward with trying to buy new hardware for the crib.  Several frustrating phone calls later, and I learned that the company that manufactured our crib has since gone out of business; we were unable to order new hardware from them.

A couple weeks later, I finally called my father to ask about the convertible toddler bed he had made for our Squishy Bean.  I wasn’t sure if it would convert back to a crib, and I knew the master builder would know.  Fortunately, it did, and my husband quickly put the piece of furniture together.

So finally, at 9 months pregnant, I have a room partially set up.  I have clean clothes and cloth diapers folded, ready to be put away.  I have bottles waiting to be washed and pacifiers waiting to be stored for use.

In my previous two pregnancies, the nursery had been set up months before this point.  For a woman who isn’t often keen on interior decorating, I have always loved the task of setting up a room for a new baby.  I have loved putting up new curtains, setting up new bedding, folding tiny clothes, and arranging a nursing spot, all while daydreaming about how sweet my newborn would be.

Although I find I am just as eager and excited for the birth of this third baby, I don’t have the energy, nor the motivation to complete all the tasks that need to be completed before he or she makes his arrival.  I attribute some of this feeling to our recent move.

Moving cross-country has left me feeling somewhat paralyzed.  Things that were once simple have become much more difficult.  I cannot go to the grocery store without using the GPS.

In both directions.

I can’t seem to trace my steps back to that park my kids have been dying to go to.

Making my way to Target is an enormous feat, and it is one that generally takes an entire day’s worth of energy.

If these simple tasks have become that much more difficult, why then shouldn’t setting up for a new baby?

This friends, is one of the ways moving can be so difficult.  Tasks that should otherwise be easy become very challenging.  It is easy to be overwhelmed by checking off simple things on your to-do list, and so the more involved tasks (like setting up a baby’s nursery) become nearly unbearable.

I love when I explain to people that I really am a poor communicator, and they act surprised.  I can be, after all, outgoing in person, and I can hold a conversation about just about anything.  I open up fairly easily, and I have no problem sharing private things about myself if I feel they would benefit from hearing it.  It is not this kind of communication that I am talking to.

I feel my closest family and friends will understand this best, as they feel the brunt of it.  When I find myself in a different schedule, a different place, or any sort of change to my normal way of life, the first thing that gets left aside is my communication with friends and family.  I lose track of how long it’s been since I’ve called my parents, I forget to return texts I get from friends, and e-mails will sit unanswered for weeks at a time.


I have no real explanation for this.

Living in someone else’s home means I don’t have as many responsibilities as I had in my own home, and I find myself with more time to spend with the girls as well as more free time.  So it is not for lack of time that I don’t call, text or e-mail.

I do find myself checking my phone and e-mails often, sometimes just to feel connected to people I love.  I am clearly not missing the calls, texts, and e-mails.

What is it then?

I think it’s the fact that I tend to be more of an introvert than an extrovert.  Moving halfway across the country has zapped so much of my energy.

Excuse me, let me rephrase.

Moving halfway across the country with two kids under 5 in my third trimester has zapped so much of my energy.


And as an introvert, since communicating with others takes more energy, I shy away from it.

I am forced into daily interactions with the girls, my husband, and his grandparents, and most days, this is enough for me.  I spend my time before bed reading or zoning out to Netflix.  I can hardly stand to think about calling someone, let alone actually picking up the phone.

It’s not something to be proud of, I know.  It is something I have to work on, especially to maintain relationships with my friends and family that live even further away.

I had been putting my blogging into the same category as communicating with others, but I realize that is just not a fair assessment.  Although a lot of my friends and family read my blog posts for updates, it is, and always has been, an outlet for me.  It is a way for me to write and process my feelings.

So in my first efforts to work on my communication with others outside of my daily life, I will continue to work on more blog posts, starting with this one.

And one tomorrow, about how challenging it can be to move to a new state, even before you change your license and license plates!

This is my oldest child’s new favorite activity.

On some days our adventures involve rearranging tree branches.

On others they involve collecting interesting leaves, rocks, and other specimen.

Still on others they involve slaying crocodiles.

Why my children are convinced there are crocodiles in southern Wisconsin I will never know.

Living on a sizable farm that is owned by someone else has its advantages, I have learned.  Although I work hard to keep on top of our little family’s laundry, bedroom and bathroom cleaning, and my fair share of the cooking, I find myself with much more free time here than I have really ever had.  As an ambitious, type A personality, I find it hard to settle into “down time”.  I want to always be on the go doing something, making something, or in general, getting things done.

For our first several weeks here, I spent days helping out by preserving produce from the garden for winter.  As the produce dwindled and my hands found less and less work, I found myself feeling useless.

There were other projects being worked on around the farm, but they involved either heavy lifting or power tools (or both), neither of which I would go near as far along in this pregnancy as I am.  At 34 weeks I can’t lift anything heavier than my girls, and even then, lifting them too much is probably not the best idea.  My balance isn’t quite what it normally is, so I am careful not to use anything that requires a lot of my strength and balance to be safe.  I also just generally tire easier and have difficulty bending or moving as quickly.  Long story short:  there are a lot of things I would love to do but cannot.

Instead, I have found myself using my “downtime” to really spend quality time with the girls.  We color, we read book after book after book, and we play outside.  The weather has so far held up, and we haven’t seen a flake of snow yet.  With milder afternoon temperatures, the girls and I have spent hours just being outside.

When I began to explain to the Beard what we spent our days doing, he was not a little shocked.  I would tell him we spent 2 hours climbing on fallen trees.

Really???, he would ask in disbelief.  Two hours?

Yes.  Two hours, friends.  Two short hours of climbing up and down branches, using twigs as drum sticks, “swimming” through the long grass, defending our “ship” from the dangerous crocodiles.

What has amazed me about our time spent outside is that I do not have to give my girls any instruction, direction, or ideas.  All of the things we do out in the woods and fields is completely directed by them.

We usually begin our outdoor time by going for a short walk.  I’ll ask the girls which direction they want to head, and that’s where we go.  It might be after 2 minutes of walking or 20 minutes of walking, but inevitably, either my oldest or youngest (almost middle!) daughter will find something that catches her interest.  On our first adventure it was a field of fallen trees to be cut up for firewood.  My oldest daughter asked if she could climb on the branches.  Feeling fairly adventurous myself, I gave her permission.  With no help from me, my almost 4 1/2 year old scrambled to the highest branch she could find, shimmied her way down, then climbed up another.  She ran from tree to tree, conquering the highest branches and enjoying the view from the top.  Her sister ran several paces behind, not able to climb as much as my oldest, but still enjoying the idea of it.

It was later this day that we each picked up large sticks and had to defend our beloved “ship” (a particularly large fallen tree) from invading grass crocodiles.  Our adventure concluded with us finding the crocodile’s nest, and we ooh-ed and aah-ed over the “baby crocodiles” we found sleeping there.

It is on the days when we are outside that my girls seem to feel the best.  It is on these days that they don’t talk about all the things they miss in Virginia.  They don’t seem to demand as much attention these days, and they certainly sleep very well.  The outdoors is a tonic for them.  It is providing a relief for the stress that they continue to feel over the upheaval of their entire little lives and transition to a new home, new place, with new people, and other unfamiliar things.  It is our adventures in the woods that seem to make them feel at home.  It is, afterall, usually just the three of us, and we three girls are accustomed to adventure, whether of the wooded variety or not.

After over a week of a blogging hiatus due to travelling and being in the third trimester of pregnancy, I bring you, without further ado, the final part in this series.

I know some people that use the most common brand of baby wash religiously for each of their babies.  I used to use it to remove eye makeup for a long time until I discovered that coconut oil would perform the same task without drying out my skin.  I do not judge these people, and I am not trying to scare anyone out of using what they are most comfortable using on their children.  I am simply going to explain what we use in our house and why.

Many commercial baby washes, lotions, and creams contain any number of chemical stabilizers and other substances that are unnerving to me.  Some chemicals in baby washes may  or may not be carcinogens, and others store in the skin, seep in, and can affect organ function.  I realize that so many children have been raised using these products and are fine, but as I started making choices for what to use in our home, I wanted to avoid the chance of these harmful effects.  Because of that, I have a small arsenal of baby products that I use regularly on our girls.

Baby Wash/Shampoo

1 part Baby Mild castille soap

1 part water

15 drops essential oil (lavender, vanilla, cedarwood, etc.)

This baby wash is very nearly tear free. (I wouldn’t use it to remove eye makeup as I had with commercial products, but my girls never cry when it gets in their eyes.)  My girls usually get baths in the evening, and so using lavender in the product helps to soothe and calm them down before bedtime.

If you make two separate bottles, one for baby wash and one for shampoo, you can easily add 1 tbsp of almond or apricot kernel oil to the baby wash to make it moisturizing.


1 part apple cider vinegar

1 part water

10-15 drops essential oils (rosemary and lemon)

As I’ve mentioned before, my oldest has the same dry curly hair I have, while my youngest has smoother, oilier hair.  I can use this rinse on both girls either after shampoo or just after wetting hair (more for my oldest).  It doesn’t leave hair greasy, just shiny and less frizzy.

Diaper Rash Cream

1 part beeswax

4 parts coconut oil

1 tbsp per 1 cup coconut oil zinc oxide powder

10 drops essential oil (lavender, vanilla, etc.)

Instructions:  Melt beeswax and coconut oil over a double boiler or slowly in the microwave, stirring often.  Once both are melted, remove from heat and stir in zinc oxide and essential oils.  Pour into containers and allow to cool before using.

This diaper rash cream is heavy duty.  It works as well, if not better, than any of your “extra strength” diaper rash creams, but without all of the nasty chemicals.  I used this recipe with cloth diapers, and they would leave a bit of a residue after a few uses. It was easy enough to remove the residue, though; I just ran the diapers (not covers) through a few hot cycles without soap in the washer.

If, however, you want to make a more basic diaper rash cream, one that is more preventative, you can omit the zinc oxide powder.

And finally, my favorite trick to helping babies sleep:

Sleep Aid

10 drops lavender

1-2 oz almond or olive oil

I put this in refillable rollers to roll on the bottom of the girls feet and on their forehead.  I use it while we are reading a bedtime story, and it helps the girls calm down, especially on nights when we haven’t gotten around to a bath.

I hope you have enjoyed this series.  If there are any other products you guys find you make for yourselves, or would like to, leave it in the comments below, as well as any other recipes for the things I’ve shared.