Happy 2nd Birthday, Aria

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I write letters to my children on their birthdays. Here is last year’s letter to Aria.

Happy birthday, Aria!

Can you really be two already? Apparently so. You add such a wonderful dose of light into the world, it’s hard for me to remember what life pre-you was like.

You have a beautiful spirit that is curious, funny, thoughtful, and sweet. When you meet someone new, your first instinct is to befriend and charm. You have a wonderful imagination, playing pretend and making up your own language. When you get excited, you squeal with delight.

We have learned to always keep an eye on you because you get into everything. Once you opened the fridge, and dumped a whole container of bread dough all over yourself. Last week you figured out how to climb out of your crib. You certainly keep us on our toes.

You love listening to the “Mo-a-a” (Moana) soundtrack, playing with water, using the remote control to talk on the phone with your grandparents, singing the alphabet song, eating edamame, drawing on things you’re not supposed to, telling us that you want to “guh-buh” (buckle) yourself into your car seat, asking to be picked “uh-poo” (up), and giving really great hugs and kisses.

I love seeing your identity take shape, and hope this year brings so much joy for you.To watch you grow and learn and live is one of the greatest gifts I’ve been given. You are deeply loved.

With all my heart,

Mommy

 

10 Things I Learned in June

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At the end of each month, I share things that I learned. This habit helps me pay attention to life, myself, and God’s presence. It’s my way of reflecting and celebrating. It’s how I take notice and be present.

These “10 Things I Learned” posts really have become some of my favorite. I love the process of looking back, and seeing the deeper lessons that I might otherwise miss.

In no particular order, here are 10 things I learned this month:

1. I really want to take a practical, intentional step in my spiritual journey with God this month. 

I decided that for the month of July, I’ll be creating a small bit of space to encounter God through doing the Daily Examen. If you want to join me and others, check out 30 Days of Abiding.

2. Ten years of marriage is NO JOKE.

Steve and I had a wonderful weekend getaway to celebrate ten years as a married couple. The best part was reminiscing about our favorite memories together. To ten more years!

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3. Sometimes you write something vulnerable, hit send, and have NO IDEA what the response will be.

I wrote an article about my journey as a woman leader and preacher, and it felt very personal. I sent it to The Junia Project (a community that advocates for gender equality in marriage and church leadership). I didn’t hear back for a while, and was beginning to wonder if it was too personal or not informative enough. Anyway, I ended up getting great feedback from the founder, and they published the article! You can read it here: My Journey as a Female Preacher.

4. Speaking of preaching, I got to preach at my church two times in the last two months.

Want to listen to the sermons? Here is Embraced in the Love of the Father, and me and Steve co-preaching Romance, Marriage, and Never Being Alone (tip: listen to hear our proposal story).

5. Coaching is the new theme of my life.

I do a lot of “coaching” as a spiritual director and church pastor. And starting in August, I’ll be head coach of Aaron’s soccer team. So if you see me marching around with a coach’s whistle around my neck, now you know why.

6. How to cook AMAZING enchiladas.

I put out the word on Facebook: “YOU GUYS…HELP. I’m in Hawaii where there IS NO good Mexican food. So if anyone has legit Mexican food recipes, please send them.” Well I’ve got super awesome friends, particularly our pal Christina who visited us and gave me an entire cooking lesson on her enchilada recipe. Rejoice! Now I can cook them and not die every time I pass by a Taco Bell.

7. My 3-year-old is trying to convince me that earlobes are called “ear cheeks.”

I find this endlessly funny.

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8. It’s nice to listen to podcasts while I drive.

On my way from dropping the kids off at school, I’ve been listening to TED Radio Hour and several blogging/business podcasts. It’s a great way to pass the time.

9. I get so angry when I feel like I am being expected to do something I can’t do.

Last evening was a hard one. The kids were all whiny and needy, and I reached the end of my inner peace reserves. At some point I had to hide in the bathroom for a few minutes just to have space to breathe. Ughhh. Later, as I thought about what was so difficult for me was that I felt like everyone’s demands were being heaped on me all at once. I have no great solution to this, only the observation that I feel angry and resentful in those moments.

10. There is a Benedictine monastery on Oahu, and it hosts people for prayer retreats.

Later this month, I will be taking a 2-day personal prayer retreat, and I am SO READY for it.

What about you, friend? What things did you learn this month?


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20 Lessons I Learned From Parenting

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This post is also featured on the Huffington Post.

I am a mom juggling three kids these days.

And I literally mean “juggling.” Toting a 1-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 7-year-old, plus all their diapers, sippy cups, and random toys, is the equivalent of carrying around 50-lb weights while running a marathon. People ask me how I stay in shape, and I say, “Jillian Michaels DVDs,” but I actually mean, “My three children.”

So then, I am now armed with lots of parenting wisdom, which I will pass off to you.

1. Kids will play peacefully for a maximum of 2 1/2 minutes. After that, crying will begin because someone got hurt or someone needs something.

2. Always carry wipes, band-aids, Purell, and emergency snacks.

3. The moment kids are dressed in their “nice” clothes is the moment juice will spill or a poop explosion will occur.

4. Stale Cheerios found under the table are an acceptable adult lunch.

5. Do not allow glitter in the house. Ever.

6. If you ever have the impression that you have time to take a shower, use the bathroom, or fix yourself a meal, you are about to be proved wrong.

7. Bribery with candy is a fine survival tactic.

8. Don’t wear white until your kids grow up and move out.

9. Kids will need the most attention when you are on the phone. That’s why texting was invented.

10. The more you are trying to hurry, the more kids will dawdle and get distracted. Children interpret “Come on, let’s go!” as “Now is a great time to look for that one missing toy.”

11. Daily baths are unnecessary.

12. If one kid is napping, the other kid is awake. They stagger their naps on purpose.

13. It’s okay to have “movie day” so you can get things done.

14. No matter how much you vacuum, babies will find tiny, unidentifiable items to stick in their mouths.

15. Unless you want to say, “No” a thousand times, stay far away from the toy aisles in Target.

16. Make friends with people who are okay with you showing up late.

17. A messy house, undone dishes, and unkempt hair are allowed.

18. Sometimes parents need a time out.

19. A cardboard box and pens make a great afternoon activity. Finger paint, not so much.

20. Vital parenting tools include: iPhones, a helpful spouse, second (or third) cups of coffee, and a good sense of humor.