Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I was having a crabby night tonight.  At one point, David asked me what was wrong and I said, "Nothing, I'm just trying to keep it together until Dekker goes to bed."  I have had a great day, which included an early daycare drop off, working, chapel and a prayer walk in 2" platform shoes, a huge pregnant belly, commuting, and coming up with something for dinner in a house that very much needs groceries.   I'm doing laundry and baking and trying to get things ready for our annual family reunion.  I know that women do this all the time, but whatev.  I'm crabby.

Before I had kids, when I heard someone crab about their family life I had very little sympathy.  Big belly?  Can't roll over?  Can't sleep? You chose this.  Tired from being up all night?  Should have thought about that nine months ago.  No money for fun stuff because you have to spend it all on diapers?  Guess who decided to have another kid.  Exhausted from mommy-hood, tired of disciplining your toddler, feeding your infant, cooking dinner and doing laundry?  Well, you pulled the goalie.

I could go on, but you get the picture.

Now that I'm a mom, so much about my attitude has changed.  Let me just make a few points here:

1. Family Life is hard.  I get it, to a point.  I don't claim to understand everything you are going through, but I know that it is hard.  At the same time, I know you probably wouldn't change it.  You'll take away my belly?  I could sleep all night?  Heck no. This child is precious.  You'll take from me my toddler?  I can clean and bake and nap all day without distraction?  Absolutely not.  I can not imagine my life without Dekker.  He is one of my greatest joys, even on a bad day!   You'll give me all my money back but take my family away?  Step away.  Unthinkable.

I'd say this is the biggest reality that I have learned.  Before I had kids, when I heard someone talk about the difficulties of their family life, I didn't understand the other side of that coin.  I heard a very one-sided conversation-- because I think the other half was assumed but I didn't get it!  I can tell you that I was honestly totally surprised at how much I enjoyed being a Mom-- because I only heard-- or focused on-- or filtered-- the negative.  I'm so glad that I have experienced motherhood-- the ups and downs-- so that when I hear someone crab or complain or break down in tears, that I can understand that much better.

With all that being said...

2.  It's okay to be real.  I have noticed a real trend with the rise of social media to present a real one-sided view of family life-- and it's the OTHER side than what I grew up listening to.  In other words, I have found that people have started to over-focus on the positive, leaving some to believe that parenthood-- or life-- is a stream of easy, blissful days and nights. (I think that's why this blog post made me laugh until I almost cried!)  If I believe only what I see on facebook, I'm pretty sure I'd be totally off guard when I feel like crying, questioning, or yanking Dekker's arm out of socket.  Thankfully, I have some great Mommy-friends and family who don't judge me.  They understand #1 above, and that with my bad days come some great days, too.  And that even though I "made this bed," I can still be frustrated, sad, disappointed at times.  And that even still, I am a good mom, and that I love my family and wouldn't change a thing. Except that I would find a laundry fairy.

I know it's not popular to add a status update along the lines of : "Stefanie is seriously questioning her decision to have #2 because #1 is a total un-joy today.  How do you people do it?" Or, "Stefanie can't wait to go to work today because another day at home sounds like punishment right now."

Then again, maybe social media isn't the place to be "real."  Or that real.  But I don't know.  I'd love to see a fresh stream of "my life isn't bliss" updates occasionally.  We can do that without being bitter, right?  Since when is it unhealthy or unChristian to be honest about our struggles?  Would it give others permission to do the same?  But heavens to Betsy, if not on the World Wide Web (and I understand), I hope you have a good friend you can be real with.   Somebody who understands you, doesn't judge you, and knows that you still love your kids, #forcryingoutloud.  I'm not sure who your friend is, but I hope you have one and that you bend her ear from time to time-- or day to day.  It's okay to be honest about your struggles, friends.  My friend Jenny once said to me, "I don't know if other mom's don't think like we do, or if they just don't say it out loud."  Here, here, friend.

3.  People without kids have stress too.   My final point comes just two years after leaving the life of PK (Pre-Kids).  Please let me remind all of us, including myself, that our friends and family without kids have lots of stress, lots on their plates, and a life of their own.  When they are stressed, please don't roll your eyes, make snappy comments, or offer an "if you only knew."  It's not fair to assume that they have loads of ample time, sit around every evening doing nothing, or should be the leader of your committees because "what else are they doing."  They are doing plenty.  Just like you.

This gift of motherhood is such a mixed bag.  In the end, I am confident that the main reason God created children and the family is that it is one major learning environment where we can learn to be more like Him,  rely on Him, be humbled, sustained, and taught by Him-- an environment where we give up power and control and trust the Almighty in a totally new way.

Stefanie is "learning about how Big God is through her insecurities about Baby #2."  Has a nice ring to it.

On the journey,

Friday, August 19, 2011

Quick 5 (Things I'm looking forward to)

Happy Friday everyone-- we made it!  If last week was a week of socializing and mom's dinner out, then this week was a week of work .I worked Tuesday and then had orientation on Wednesday and Thursday.  It was pretty fun-- mostly because I'm so excited and thrilled to be there.  Thursday night I worked at JCA from 4:30-9:30-- which made for a long day considering I'd left the house at 7:30 that morning.  But it's over, and I survived.  And I there are lots of fun things to look forward to... which brings me to my Quick 5 today.

1.  Friday Play-Date-- We are heading to the Humane Society and then for a picnic at the park next door in about, oh, an hour.  Just love getting up and knowing I get to see these sweet friends and have something fun to do with Dekker.
2.  Saturday Casting Call-- that's right, we're taking Dekker to Village Pointe to be photographed for the Fat Brain Toys catalog Saturday morning.  Those eyelashes!?!?! I'm sure he'll probably make the cover.  Excited to have something to get up and around for, and maybe we'll even find a cup of coffee and an Old Navy sale!
3.  Saturday night work party.  Here's what I love about this the most-- A). Babysitter and night out with the hubby.  B). Dave gets to meet my co-workers.  C). I actually have co-workers and am not working alone at the end of a long hallway anymore.
4.  The new venue at Stonebridge!  Our incredible church has been building an alternative venue.  We are super excited that its "soft opening" starts this Sunday at 11:00.  There are three weeks of soft openings, followed by the grand opening on September 11th where it will be open every week at 9:30 and 11:00.  If you are looking for a church home in the Omaha area, I sincerely hope you will consider the authentic community at Stonebridge.  We love Stonebridge so much we invite strangers, which-- trust me, we have never done before.
5.  Sunday Zoo Day-- Dave and I were just talking about this weekend, and after nap on Sunday I think we'll head downtown and enjoy this gorgeous weather.  Sounds fun!

Here's to a great weekend!  I wasn't sure I would survive 30 hours of work in 3 days, but thankfully I have a fantastic Day Care Friend, a supportive husband, and the mental capacity to take "One Day At A Time."  Thankful for the opportunity to work, and thankful for a few days at home, too!

On the journey,

Monday, August 15, 2011


This weekend we went to a family wedding on Saturday night.  I do love a fun wedding and the reception was at the Rococo in downtown Lincoln, which was a super cool venue.  We got Dekker up at 6:45AM and he was ready for an early nap, then we all traveled to the church.  He had been asking for Papa and Nana for several days, and it was so fun when he woke up from his nap to finally say "We get to go see Papa and Nana!"  He was so thrilled. 

We got to the church and just like in the movies, he jumped out of Dave's arms and ran straight to his Papa.  His little tie was blowing in the wind, his long sleeved shirt tucked into his khaki pants with leather loafers-- are you kidding me-- he was adorable!  He sat on Papa's lap and took the entire wedding in like such a champ-- he barely moved he was snuggled in so well.  At one point in the wedding I looked over to him and silently thanked God.  I just love that kid so much.  And I'm so thankful to the gift-giver for such an incredible gift.

When the wedding was over we blew bubbles at the bride and groom and headed to the car for the reception.  But Dekker was beside himself.  We peeled him out of my Dad's arms while he hysterically called out, "Papa, Papa."  We tried so hard to explain that we will see Papa VERY SOON, like in 5 minutes, and that we are going to the SAME PLACE, just taking different cars.  We said that Papa is driving his car and we are driving our car and we will get to spend lots more time with him in a SHORT WHILE.  He was barely comforted by this, and the reunion at the reception was sweet for sure!

I am knee deep in grief, loss and bereavement literature at the college in preparation for one of my classes.  So this might seem kinda morbid... but I think waiting for heaven is a lot like that drive to the reception.  I can hear God saying to me... "Stefanie, you (and Grandma/Grandpa/Uncle Don/Baby Rowe/Etc) are going to the SAME PLACE, just taking different "cars."  You will see him/her VERY SOON."  And that is true.  Just that my definition of Very Soon is a lot like Dekker's-- as in, I'd like it to be yesterday, right now, or in the immediate for-see-able future.  When you understand the final destination and have full faith in an eternal God, the "short drive" seems a little more bearable-- it is a matter of confidence in the destination ("Heaven is real") and perspective ("Even many many years on earth compares not to eternity").

Well, all that being said, I'll cry at the next funeral I go to.  It is still so hard to understand grief and loss, and I know that "buck up therapy" rooted in "Why are you sad?  You'll see her again someday?" is really not helpful.  At all.  But today, looking back and ahead, I think God taught me something about perspective while I wrestled a sobbing Dekker into his carseat.

On the Journey,

Friday, August 12, 2011

Quick 5 (Things Dekker is saying right now)

Happy Friday everyone.  I hope you have had a great week because we have around here.  Can you say gorgeous weather!!  So much fun, we have discovered bubbles and side-walk chalk and even gotten a few walks in.  I worked Tues/Thurs and am making great progress at the school, and I'm ready for the students to show up and just jump right in. Still a few more weeks to go, and I'll be thankful for the additional time in my office, I'm sure.

We've done some fun "adult" things this week, too.  I had a fantastic "Girls Night" Monday night with three other Mom's.  We usually get together with our kids and have about 5 total minutes to talk without disciplining our kids, chasing the kids, or having them crawl all over us.  We love it, and we love our kids, but it was great to sit and visit for---3 hours-- without them.  Wednesday when I was home I decided to pay bills-- like the $450 one that let us know Dekker didn't have any allergies (thank goodness for the HSA).  We pay cash for the first 4K of our medical expenses.  But don't feel bad for us because we pay zero monthly premium.  So we save that money instead and only use it when we have an expense.  Also on Wednesday I called "Dan", who sounded oddly like he was in New Delhi, and paid off our last student loan.  PRAISE THE LORD.  We have been "snowballing" our student loans and they went so fast at the end.  Now, we're debating what to do with the money we had been putting toward the loans.  "Eating Out and Wild Parties" got vetoed, so now we're debating between long-term savings, and our 4-Runner.  Thursday night we hosted a few friends for a BBQ feast.  We lost power for the entire time and about 3 hours total, and I wasn't having my best parenting night and oddly, Dekker didn't want to sit quietly with the adults-- but it was still a great time and gorgeous night to grill and sit on the deck.  Today is Friday and tonight I'm getting together with my sweet friend Jen.  What a week!

Okay, well on to the show!  Today's Quick 5 is about what Dekker has been saying lately.  He is speaking more and more and it is a riot.  He'll repeat anything, but these are his favorites for now.

1.  "No."  So classic.  He doesn't just say "No," but he screams it in a very determined way.  If I raise my voice, you better believe he raises his.  It has been an exercise in self control as I teach him how to handle his anger by evaluating how I handle mine.
2.  "Why, Mommy."  Also so classic.  He loves to ask Why.  I always give him a simple answer, which is quickly followed by "huh?". 
3.  "Thanks Mom".  I'm super proud of this one.  Whenever I give him anything, like a cup or lunch or help him with a toy-- he says "Thanks Mom."  He could get out of about any amount of trouble with this simple statement, but I'm not sure he's figured it out yet.
4.  "Yes, un-huh, hmmmm" and these happen while we pray for dinner.  Dave says a dinner time prayer and Dekker is very enthusiastic about agreeing with him while he prays.  I must do this without realizing it, and it's amazing what he catches on to.  So adorable and charismatic he is-- while he's doing this he is inevitably still trying to drink from his cup or take a bite.  I could eat him up.
5.  "Cup".  But it sounds like "Pop."  So when we're with friends or out in public and he casually says "Mommy I want pop" I feel like the worst mom in the world and start correcting him immediately-- "Do you want your Cup buddy?  Should we put some WATER in your CUP?"  The good news is that he is easy to please and simply giving him a "cup" filled with anything satisfies this request.  But I have found myself saying "We don't give him pop" about 100 times.  Why do I care?!?

Have a great weekend everybody.  We have a fun Saturday planned with a wedding in Lincoln.  Always love me a good wedding and love seeing the extended fam.

On the Journey,

Friday, August 5, 2011

Quick 5 (My work-week in a nutshell)

Happy Friday everyone!  Here's to a pretty quick "Quick 5", as Dekker rams an old "walk behind" toy into the cupboards repeatedly.  Ah, Daddy just came up the stairs and Dekker ran over to him yelling "Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!" with High 5's and an enthusiastic "yes"!  He is such a cool kid, seriously, we hit the jackpot with him.

1.  Monday-- In high school I ran with three sweet girls-- Sara, Jen, Amanda.  I love them.  There is something just totally wonderful about being with friends who knew you back then, and still love you today.  Our lives have changed, but whose hasn't!  Amanda has four kids, Jen has two-- including her sweet 12-week old baby girl Marah, and Sara has sweet Kolbe and lives in Arizona (boooo! We miss her!).  We took a few pics to send her way.
Oh 6 month belly.  I will "miss" you someday, but not when taking pictures :)
Sweet baby!
Another reason I love these girls?  Because when I show them this picture of my dad's new car they gasp just like I did!  "Steve Soden? Bought that!?!?!"  Thank you girls!  For fully understanding the impact of this awesome-ness!

It was a spectacular "play date" complete with chicken salad on croissant, fruit salad, and lots of kiddos running around.  Such a total joy, they also gave me lots of great ideas for Dekker's "big boy" room and "big boy" toys.  Being with these girls reminds me how much I miss them-- the only sad thing about being together!

2.  Tuesday-- My first "official" day at NCC was over-shadowed by the Cupcake Wars viewing party at the local Bliss Bakery downtown.  They did a great job representing Omaha and Bliss-- and Dave and I loved a mid-week babysitter and night "out."  We ate Happy Hour at Hiro 88 downtown before-hand with some fun friends.  Bliss was packed, so I sweat it out and had to leave ASAP before I fainted.  Thankfully I had random mail in my purse to fan my huge self with and my friend Cari had a random hair tie and I stripped down a layer and nearly ran around naked but chose not to.  Grandma and Grandpa Rowe babysat and apparently Dekker didn't want to go to bed, so he got to stay up late-- a little treat that warmed my heart a little.  I walked up the stairs and he said "Hi Mom."  Hahahaha. 

3.  Wednesday-- Another "play date" at my house with four friends and approximately 1,000 children.  It was a packed house, but it was great to be together.  I haven't yet downloaded the picture of Max, who stripped himself down and sat on the potty (like a big boy) with his helpers, Dekker and Quinn, unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper for him.  It got quiet, and when we found them in the bathroom we just laughed.  At least we're all pretty laid back.  And at least I have lots of toilet tissue hanging around.  And at least I have great friends to spend the morning with!

4.  Thursday-- My second official day at NCC.  I am going through lecture notes from the previous professor and updating with some of my materials and moving everything to PowerPoint.  It is a lot of office work and I'm looking forward to the arrival of students, but I'm pretty nervous, too.  I have been setting up my computer, voice-mail, and...tada... got business cards.  I also got a touch of a stomach/gastro bug Thursday.  Thankfully, everyone assumed I was in the restroom every 10 minutes because I'm pregnant :) 

Dekker was totally out of sorts Thursday night.  He kept waking up sobbing-- and I'm pretty sure he wasn't feeling well either.  He kept saying "ouchie" but couldn't say what it was for.  At about 9:30 Dave just decided to let him sleep in the crook of his arm in the big chair.  He turned on a show and low and behold, the babe wanted to watch TV.  Then he hopped down and started playing with his fire truck, so Daddy wisely put him in bed, crying and all.  He was out.  Dave also encouraged me to buy a new book on my Kindle and stay in the bedroom all night-- which I did after dinner and I do feel better today, for the most part.

5.  Friday-- I think Dekker and I are both feeling better, Praise the Lord!  I don't feel great, but not like yesterday, for sure.  We are heading to Lincoln tonight to do something fun with my brother's family, sans my brother :/  His wifey and kiddos are traveling through-- and I'm excited to see them and get the cousins together!  Any fun eatery suggestions, in addition to Chuck-y Cheese?

Happy Friday!
On the journey,