Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Mommy Said, "No!"

There is nothing relaxing about getting off work anymore. Not a dang thing. Even winding down for bedtime runs a strict stopwatch. With Madeline now 8 almost 9 months (Yowza!) James and I spend our evening switching off wrangle-duty. It's an unspoken rule. Someone cooks the other rocks the kid. Someone cleans and the other keeps her from fatal injury. Ever. Single. Night. Madeline has no idea what a weekend is so we gets no breaks. But it's fun and funny when we allow it to be. This is chaos that we literally created and we love every wild moment.

In the midst of this chaos my sympathy has grown exponentially for my mom. I stole her time and sanity and Madeline reminds me everyday to call her and apologize. (Sorry Mom, again)

My sympathy has also grown for my G-d.

They say that you never truly know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. I feel like I just laced up and on this new journey I am experiencing G-d's love and patience for me in ways that make want to just repent and say, "Thank you, Lord."

So Madeline has become quite fond of her dad's new PS4.  Who can blame her? She's like a moth to a flame. Her little hands tease us as we watch her decide if she is going to touch it or move on to a parent-approved toy.

"Madeline Sofia, No...Noooo...Don't touch that...Mommy said, 'No'... Maaaaadeline...make good choices", I say. And sometimes she actually does. She stops what she is doing and moves on. These proud parental, my-kid-is-a-obedient-genius moments are fleeting because she is only 8 months old and for the most part this is probably some kind of game to her as her over the shoulder sly smile would indicate.

There are definitely rules to this game. James and I practice patience giving her time to choose well. We don't yell at her but we are firm and we praise her when she pleases us with obedience. We also don't stand guard over things that tempt her. Our home is baby-proofed for safety. The usual baby-gate and baby-plug covers abound and such but it is still our home and we still have our things out. Our hope is that Madeline will come to understand that though some things may be in her reach it doesn't mean that she can have them.

Our set-up makes for some long exasperating moments but we want our daughter to learn obedience.

So the last time we played this "game" I turned to James and laughed. I said, "we must drive the Lord nuts every time we return to sin." I could hear Him saying, "Monique Danye`, No...Noooo...Don't touch that...Your Lord said, 'No'... Moooooonique...make good choices" Sometimes I do listen but when he catches me eyeing temptation with eager hands I wonder if He feels the same exasperation I feel towards my daughter.

I have struggled and continue to struggle (for years) in some of the same areas of sin. It just seems as if it would be easier if the Lord just removed the temptation altogether. Put it on a different shelf or room. Hide it behind a book. Anything to keep it from taunting me. I suppose the reality is G-d desires for me to grow in  trust and obedience in a world that will not shield me from the fact that it is fallen. My obedience is evidence of my heart for Him. I would hope my time with the Lord is more relaxing than my every night with lil Madeline Sofia.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Bottles and Daily Bread

My daughter has a true Hoskin's appetite. The only thing that gets between her and her bottle is congestion. She eats multiple times during the day plus a time or two at night.  I tell that James that she must have a hollow leg (I usually, accidentally say wooden leg) because I have no idea where it all goes. She didn't get that from her mama, that's for sure.

I know when she is hungry even before she realizes it because I am a pretty awesome and attentive mom. So I have her bottle readied with frothy vittles before she can think to whimper. My downfall as a parent is that I never have a bottle ready a week in advance. Not even a day in advance. Parenting fail - I know. 

When I am late for a feeding (sounds so carnal) the girl lets me know. We do not have one of those soft, sweet-cry babies. She screams. She kicks. She is inconsolable. Do not rock, tickle or sing until you have a bottle in hand. All I think is, "I know how you feel, kid."

James and I have spent the past (only) two years of our marriage riding the waves of Hope and Wait. Sometimes excited but many days just feeling like we are being pulled away from security's shore into really choppy, deep, dark water. Because despite my sweet hubs best attempts and hustle he just could not find a job. Doing anything. He humbled himself and was forced to forget the fact that he has a Master's degree and applied for EVERYTHING that came around...almost 2 years of no returned calls or interviews. So.much.fun. So fun because while we waited my car broke down, we had a baby and celebrated with friends and family who were walking through open doors of financial blessing and opportunity. We asked for provision. We trust(ed) God. We waited to be fed. We wanted to know, for certain, that next week there would be provision or at least a clear sign of easier times. But God gave us our daily bread (which we literally prayed for every morning *plug for the 23rd Psalm).

So that sounds cliche, right? Well, living it felt cliche' and very uncomfortable, at times, until I realized that my daughter never screams for a bottle days in advance. I give her what she needs when it's time and she trusts me without any concept of trust. In fact, I doubt that the hunger of next week ever crosses her mind. I want to be like my daughter. Trusting without talking myself into it or having to attend a revival meeting to be reminded of all that He has done and is doing.

So here is the real. Our Hoskins' trio didn't have a Griswold Christmas in a new house like we planned. Although, "watching" Madeline "open" her gifts was the best. We didn't end 2014 with a family trip to Brazil. We still share one car (thank God for Waco "traffic"). We saved well and then watched our savings dwindle as we paid for daycare, repairs, groceries and hospital bills. And it sucked but that's what savings are for. I occasionally reminded G-d that we were getting down to the end and I just wanted to make sure He had not forgotten. Then I relaxed and got to know Him. Trust grew. My heart led my head to the Lord. 

January was the month to kick the job hunt into high gear and March was the month that we would run out. In January, I paid for Madeline's first month of daycare (a new car would be less expensive). God saw it. He never stops seeing. James tearfully dropped off his sweet lil bean and received a call for his first interview in almost 2 years. 2 years, people! There is never a coincidence in the life of a disciple of Jesus. And hope sprung a leaf or pushed us towards shore or you catch my drift. And more opportunity came. Although, it wasn't in the form of a full-time pastorate position and a parsonage in a diverse community so, naturally, we pouted a bit. Oh man, if only we can just stay mature for longer than an hour in quiet time. 

Just this week James called me with news that he was about to get hired for a job for which he didn't even apply and I did not want provision and blessing to find us pouting in the corner. 

You know, I would be plain miserable if Madeline screamed for food a week in advance. I think I would be hurt if she threw down, in disgust, what I worked hard to provide. 

I know that despite my best efforts, joyful tithe giving and overall Christ-like behavior sorrow will find me. I know when I stand uncomfortable and unsure in need G-d will provide. I know when shore is a memory and I am weary G-d will give me rest. I don't want to scream, kick and pout until G-d shows me His hand because then I miss out on all the good stuff with Him. Just being with Him is really so wonderful. Provision will come when it's time; maybe just next week or year but Hope will carry you. Christ will not fail.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

God is in Control

I cried almost everyday this week over something that I have been struggling with for two months. Apparently my body isn't down with the whole breastfeeding jazz. We had the whole first year of Madeline's life planned out.We would raise a wise and kind young woman and save some ducketts along the way. A few well-intentioned strategies for our little trio.

The hospital asks you if you have a birthing plan which is just plain confusing for a first time mom because you have no idea what you want or how to articulate the little you do know. Lights on, lights off, visitors or no, PKU shots or wait. Shaken or stirred...I mean, huh?

Then EVERYONE wants to know how you are going to diaper your child. James and I discovered that this was just dangling bait for a long opinionated convo...We soon started to play dumb...(Uhhh babies need diapers? We'll get right on that)

Even more folks want the lowdown on breastfeeding.

These days I am unnaturally fascinated with my chest and its ability (or lack thereof).
I am consumed with finding the perfect cloth diapering techniques.
I'm making plans left and right and I can't be stopped.

Every plan seems to demand precise execution.
Every decision feels like it has eternal consequences. (Let me tell you the freedom I experienced when I realized that she won't be in diapers or on the nip for the rest of her life...deep relief, ya'll)

Here we are in the (almost) third month of my daughter's life and already some of my plans are faltering, augmenting, disappearing because life is happening and I had not planned on that. I'm back at work and being a working mom is challenging.
I came home early crying to James like their was a death in the family because I can't provide enough breast-milk for my daughter. Despite my very best efforts, good diet, water, "rest", herbs and lactation cookies (yes, that's a thing) this milk cow may have to be put out to pasture. My plan needs some tweaking and its an unexpected blow to my self-worth as a mom.

I can't control my what happens on my block or kitchen or nursery or marriage or in my own body, apparently.

But I am encouraged and blown away by a G-d who can and does. Ok, that is an understatement. I am more than encouraged My hope is renewed and my faith is under inspection because I serve the one true G-d who sets things in motion and sees them to fulfillment just the way He's planned it. No power on earth or in hell can shake it. My personal inability, lack of faith in His sovereignty nor my disobedience can stop the Lord's plans. What a great and awesome G-d I serve. How does He do it?! What might and wisdom! What dominion and control He has. The best part is that He calls me his own and has written the course of my life in His great narrative of love. I am learning to abide with Him daily-to say, "I've decide to follow Jesus. No turning back" because I need His grace when my plans fall through.

I feel like I have been skyrocketed to a whole 'nutha level of knowing my God. My head exploded from the realization of His greatness and brought me down to a moment with Him to contemplate the simplest of truths...Chaos my feel constant but GOD IS FEARLESSLY IN CONTROL. This mom understands that in a brand new way now. I guess that was His plan all along.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I Birthed a Bloodhound

The first 19 hours of Madeline's life ex-utero were deceivingly quiet. She greeted visitors with curious attentive eyes. She faced heel pricks with barely an whimper and never seemed phased by strange beeps, noises or laughter. "She's sooooo peaceful and quiet," was the common refrain. Then everyone left and it was just Madeline, her mom and her dad. And she cried and she snorted. Yes, snorted and it was the cutest thing we'd ever heard. She did it more and more when we got home.  I'd come running when she started snorting. She even lifted her head up and looked around while doing it. So then we praised, "What a strong little girl she is!".

I looked forward to hearing her snort until I realized that this was actually the sound of the dinner bell going off every 2 hours, sun up and sun down.

My child was sniffing me out with perfect precision like a bloodhound. Hunger and instinct are a deadly combo. They move my daughter to migrate her way through sleep and darkness to the source of her food...me. After 2 weeks, that little snort isn't quite as cute.  I fold my arms to cover my chest so she won't catch my scent when I check in on her. If the fan is on in the room I avoid sitting downwind. I feel like I have committed a crime and K9 is out to get me...and I'm guaranteed to get got.

No one told me that her sense of smell was THAT strong.
or that you don't get to mentally recover/take a deep breath/just one last moment of peace after giving birth.
or that I would miss being pregnant (especially when she hiccups).
or that my front tooth would fall out for no reason...3 days after giving birth...because life isn't hard enough.
or that I would feel like I am about to break at least twice a day.
or that I would be so consumed with the color, amount and consistency of another person's poop.
or that each day would bleed into the next and the next day would be another never-ending cycle of shift-changes where you always have the next shift (but seriously, what day is it?).
or that I would so easily stop saying, "Good Morning" to my husband (sorry James) because I am sleep deprived and feeding again.
or that I would never eat a warm meal again.
or that I would now have to meticulously place things like my phone, drink or snack on my left or right  depending on what side I am holding her.
or that I would pace the house if she isn't in my arms like a dog does when someone else is holding her puppies (and that I might actually growl a little).
or that I could fall so deeply in love with a little human who sharts in her diaper while I hold her as I eat my dinner that took entirely to long to microwave because she insists on being held...she smiled at me after she pooped (not even mad).

So she snorts...and I am the only one she is searching for. When she sniffs me out her needs will be met as she finds her way to my heart and warmth, all that she has known for the past 9 months.  I gotta wrap things up because she is napping therefore I should be doing the same...With every sniff, grunt and snort I reminded how much I need to seek God out with this intense amount of trust, determination and assurance. He will never run from me when I need Him. He is my all and all.

During a nap together
All I do is open my arms and she sniffs and scoots her way over...eyes closed the whole time. 

This face in the wee hours of the morning. She is just sweet perfection. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Nesting and Resting

"I am a bit concerned with your lack of urgency in preparing your nursery."~Mattie Criddell, my mama. This was my mom's calm diplomatic approach in communicating her frustration to me. At month 6 of my pregnancy James and I had yet to even empty out the nursery which was serving as our guest room/office-type-area. I just chuckled when she said this and replied,  "Calm down, Mattie B. I promise we will start working on it soon." Can I say how proud I am of my mom for quieting the Nana-zilla that resides within - cuz I am. I could tell that she was (and continues) to do her best to not take over. For a mother of 3 and grandmother of 4 who is all about glue sticks and DIY I know how difficult this can be. So much to do. So few people on board to get it done.

James and I had planned it out. It's just that, well, I am plumb tired and in no rush to come home from a ten hour work day to prepare a place for my little one. I mean all she really needs is breastmilk and a bassinet. Mom-of-the-year award, here I come. But it was time to start nesting.

Nesting: preparing your nursery/home/life/mind for the arrival of the bun in the oven. ~Think a bird and twigs and you got the concept. (cute, sweet little concept) Really it's a euphemism for an activity that is completely overwhelming and challenging. Every conversation we have, every decision  James and I make become less and less us-centered and more and more baby-centered. Don't get me wrong - it's wonderful and we love this time but the transition is gradual and sneaky...because everything transitions. Just like we when we first got married and grasped for straws trying to maintain a sense of self and personal past and future tradition it happens all over again but this time it's much more important. Its the stuff no one tells you. It's the part of the picture in the Mama Monthly Magazine that is cropped out.  Simply moving furniture around is not just an exercise in efficient feng shui. It's really the talk of diminishing spaces, family visits, budgeting and changing dynamics. The bird and her twigs are cute but I am sure that Mama Tweet is freaking out a little making sure that those eggs are safe and sound.

I am proud to say that as of a month ago we started gathering twigs. I visited thrift stores, Walmart, JoAnn's and the like. I made a mental checklist of three sweet "wittle" projects that I wanted to start/finish over the weekend - wall art, a bookshelf turned armoire and re-purposing James' childhood dresser into a changing table. Check me out...

BOOM...This baby just got nested!
Are you happy now, mom?

The dresser took a long time and I discovered that I am not the sanding, painting, refinishing type. Sanders are heavy, BTW. But I was so very proud at the finished product. A lovely dresser that I am sure will eventually travel with my daughter off to college some day. A sweet hand-me-down from her selfless dada. 

I sat on the kitchen floor with paint in my hair and on belly (of course), sweating, sore and uncomfortable and so anxious. I want little Madeline to enjoy this nest, every corner. I want her to love this dresser because I loved preparing it for her because she is my babygirl. I can't wait to see her eyes exploring her space and watch her tiny hands dirty up her nest. I sat back and rested and thought of nothing but her....and this verse

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work." Genesis 2:2

I never understood why a God who never tires would need rest but I imagine that maybe this was what it was like. A sweet rest of simple delight...I wonder. God didn't need a nap maybe he just wanted to stop, sit back  and admire all that He made that was good and perfect and for us? Did He imagine our eyes discovering and our tiny hands exploring? I mean He loves us like a hen with her chicks. Was the Father nesting? Perhaps. 

Baby Madeline your nest is coming together and I must say...it's so good. I hope you enjoy it. Until you get here I am just going to rest a little longer. I ain't the Lord. I need a long nap.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Saturday Morning Pearls

The logic most parents of toddlers use is this: if it is valuable, dangerous or both keep it high and out of reach. Not my mom.  She kept the valuables low and and enticing. What small person can resist the siren call of all things shiny? Every now and then when my mom stops in to visit she quizzically admires the few pieces that I have "borrowed"...and I have been borrowing for a long time. She can't blame me because she decided to live on the edge and keep her brilliant collection down low. Right in my reach. She failed to yell at me when I adorned myself in our ancient family jewels.

Both sides of my family boast of educated, cultured, bougie women who wore the finest imported furs (no offense to my PETA friends), ate choice vittles and wore the most unique, authentic jewelry that you will ever see this side of the Atlantic. We are talking real diamonds, time-approved gold and genuine stones that I am still too simple to pronounce. And pearls, real heavy pearls. A strand of white and a strand of grey, in fact, in its own navy blue velvet case.

I began every Saturday morning the same, catching up on the latest toons so that I could contribute to the playground water-cooler convos in the upcoming week. Then I made my way into my parents room where they were likely having breakfast in bed before the family fun took off. Good morning kisses and hugs were freely given and received and then I plopped down  in front of THE jewelry drawer. A small chest of drawers with a petite french double door guarding it. I never asked for permission. I just dove in. Bracelet on top of bracelet slid up my inadequate arms. My diminutive neck sank under the weight of every necklace mom owned and whatever pieces I couldn't figure out just ended up in my hair or on my shirt. I strut my toddler tail at the end of the bed and told made up stories...for...hours. And they just laughed and listening sometimes they joined in and asked questions. When I was done I carefully put every pretty piece back in its place. This was my favorite toy box. 

Thanks to James, the collection continues. A week ago I found myself quietly wondering how I was supposed to celebrate Mother's Day. Feeling every bit a mother but with nothing to show for besides an awkward belly I consigned myself to waiting until it was "real". Until my baby was really here. I guessed that was appropriate. But when Mother's Day finally arrived I didn't want to be left out. I am a mom to a child who is very dependent on me, who has changed my body and my heart and mind already and darn-it I wanted some recognition. Cue sweet James who knows me so well. He remembered stories of my Saturday mornings playing in my favorite toy box. Stories I cannot recall telling him. He gave me my own pearl bracelet for me and for my little girl. I wear my pearl bracelet all the time now because it is just such a perfect lovely gift. When I take it off I know just where I will put. In a drawer, down low of course. Just in her reach. I can't wait to see her tiny wrists glisten and I can't wait to her what stories she has to tell. 

Monday, December 23, 2013


They have never called each other out of each other's name in anger. Not once.
They hold hands while shopping, hanging out or worshipping at church.
They flirt and giggle together like teenagers.
They get through painful times by telling jokes and laughing.
They really like hanging out together. Dancing, singing, shopping, traveling...
He still calls her "fine" and "gorgeous" before she even has time to ask how she looks.
She still swoons over him when he puts on a suit.
They match on accident most every time they get dressed.
Their children and grandchildren would rather chill with them than with friends because they are that cool.

They are my parents and they have been married for 44 years as of 12.21.2013. There are no words I could write that would do their love story justice so I'll just let them tell it. Enjoy a chuckle and some wise chitchat from my parents Michael & Mattie Criddell.

*Disclaimer: This video contains contagious amounts of love and adorable-ness.