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I’ve made frequent mention this month of how November tends to be a reflective time for me. In keeping with this season of contemplation, this month’s What I Learned is pretty heavy on the personal-revelation side of things. (In other words, it you aren’t prepared to humor me as I indulge in a heavy dose of navel-gazing, you might want to take a pass on this post.) I feel as though I’m entering a new season in my life, and God is doing all sorts of work in me. I’ve been thinking all the thoughts and feeling all the feels, and though it hasn’t been comfortable, I am excited about the direction the Lord seems to be taking me. Here are a few things life has taught me this month (along with a smattering of trivia, because I simply couldn’t help myself).

What I Learned in November 2015

  • Having a sick baby isn’t fun, but it’s even worse when you are sick yourself, as I unfortunately learned first-hand this month. Thankfully we didn’t have anything worse than colds; I can’t imagine how awful it must be to have a whole house struck with the flu.
  • Charlie’s colds taught me to appreciate his previous sleep patterns. He’s never been a good sleeper, but a stuffy nose made it almost impossible for him (or his parents) to get any sleep at all. Condensed version of this lesson: I need to be more appreciative of whatever circumstance I am in, because it can always be worse.
  • In 1991, Wayne Allwine—who was the voice of Mickey Mouse for 32 years—married Russi Taylor, who played the voice of Minnie.

Mickey and Minnie

  • Research has found that people spend 46.9% of the time thinking about something unrelated to their current task. Not surprisingly, study participants reported feeling less happy when their minds were preoccupied with other thoughts. Researchers concluded that a wandering mind affects happiness more than any other activity.
  • I’m realizing that I go through phases of using particular words and phrases. Lately, a word I’ve been using with increased frequency is skunked (as in, “I went to three stores to find those puffs and was skunked at every one.”). I wouldn’t have realized I was using this word more often, except that each time I say it Luke asks me what I mean. I’m not sure how we’ve made it through eight years together without my introducing him to this idiom. (Please tell me that you know this phrase, and that I’m not ridiculous for using it.)
  • A guest on a podcast I listened to recently made the bold statement that “making a wrong decision is better than making no decision at all.” I don’t know if I’ve fully learned this yet, or even if I totally agree, but it’s something I’m considering.
  • The last time a Republican was elected president without a Nixon or Bush on the ticket was 1928 (when Herbert Hoover was elected).
Republican Presidents from 1928 to the present.
Republican Presidents from 1928 to the present.
  • In a conversation with Luke a few weeks ago I voiced my frustration complained about the fact that I haven’t had as much time as I’d like lately to commit to blogging. This little blog has become a project of love, but my dreams for this space are far greater than my current capacity to make them a reality. While I long for solid days of uninterrupted writing, my current blogging routine looks much more like scraps of ideas jotted down on my phone while Charlie crawls across my lap. Luke understood my frustration but reminded me that my job right now is not that of a full-time blogger, but of a full-time mom. Taking care of Charlie needs to be my priority, and all other hobbies, passions, and responsibilities are secondary to my role as his mom. I’m sure there will be other seasons when I can dedicate more time to other things.
  • That being said, I’m finding that I am a much better mom when I take some time for myself. Since motherhood is literally my job, I often feel guilty if I’m not with Charlie 24/7, but I’m learning to recognize the lies behind those feelings. I’m making a concerted effort to release the guilt and accept a bit of help, whether that’s leaving Charlie with Luke while I engage in a Moms Night Out, or dropping him off with the grandparents for a few hours so I can work at a coffee shop. Those times apart from Charlie help me to be much more present and engaged with him when we are reunited.
  • Despite weighing in at under six pounds when he was born, Charlie felt so heavy to me when I first held him. But as he’s grown, so has my strength, and at almost 17 pounds he doesn’t feel much heavier now than he did ten months ago. I have been learning that, just as my muscles have grown to accommodate Charlie’s size, so has my capacity to handle the challenges I face with him. I have been terrified by each new stage of Charlie’s life (birth, then starting solids, then crawling) but God has given me the wisdom and strength to navigate the milestones as they come. I’d recognized this on a subliminal level, but the lesson was elucidated for me in a rather obscure way: through brain training exercises. I’ve been working my way through the levels on one of my favorite games. Every new level has seemed impossible at first, but I’ve gradually built up my skills to conquer that level and move to the next. I love that God was able to use a silly game to illustrate His abundant grace.
Lumosity: Brain training or lessons in Grace?
Lumosity: Brain training doubling as life lessons.
  • Even though I’m still able to hold him without difficulty, it has gotten SO MUCH harder to change Charlie now that he is older. I hadn’t noticed this shift because it was warm so late into fall that he was in just a diaper or onesie for most of the time. But now that the weather is cooling off, we’re having to put him in actual clothes (what a concept!) and his squirmy legs and insatiable desire to CRAWL off the changing table makes outfit changes a nightmare. Many days I find myself wishing that Charlie could stay a baby forever, but I am definitely looking forward to the day when he can change his own clothes!
  • A Harvard study found that children prefer factual stories over made-up ones. The study asked children between the ages of four and seven to choose which of two books sounded like a better story, based on a brief story description and a label of “true” or “make believe”. The children were significantly more likely to choose the story introduced as true over the one introduced as make believe. Adults, on the other hand, chose the factual and made-up stories equally often.
  • For the past few months—since Charlie’s birth, actually—I have felt like I’ve been in a bit of a free-fall, totally unable to get my bearings. I’m starting to recognize these feelings as side effects of a lack of structure. I crave organization, but nothing about parenthood is orderly or predictable. Instead of fighting this unpredictability I’m working to embrace it: carving out a semblance of structure where I can and going with the flow the rest of the time. (God is really making me work to practice the openness I claimed as my word for the year!). One way this has played out is in our evening routine. For the past few months we’ve tried to get Charlie to bed between 6:30 and 7:00; once he was asleep I would work on making dinner for Luke and myself. This worked for a while, but it has gotten harder and harder to get Charlie to fall—and stay—asleep. Our dinners were getting later and later, and were peppered with frequent interruptions from a fussy baby. So, I gave up the fight and simply adjusted our schedule. We’ve pushed back his bedtime and bumped up our dinnertime, having Charlie join us at the table before putting him down. His bedtime routine hasn’t gotten much easier, but at least we aren’t trying to navigate dinner preparations AND bedtime simultaneously. I’m trying to accept that parenthood is one giant lesson in experimentation.
Charlie's been pretty happy to be joining us at dinner. (And yes, he eats all that food, plus more from our plates. The boy's got a good appetite!)
Charlie’s been pretty happy to be joining us at dinner. (And yes, he eats all that food, plus more from our plates. The boy’s got a good appetite!)

As always, I’m linking up with Emily over at Chatting at the Sky to share what we’ve learned this month. I enjoy having visitors from the link-up, and I love getting the chance to learn about other bloggers through reading their monthly lists.

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