Thaddeus is One Now!

Sunday was my son’s first birthday. I’ve been looking forward to this day since he was first born! SERIOUSLY.

The early baby stage was so hard for me, and even though I’m sure 1 has its own challenges, 1 means he’s closer to being able to communicate and that makes me really excited! With as much as I have been anticipating this day, and with as SLOW as the past year has seemed to me, I was really surprised by how emotional I ended up being. By the end of the day I just felt so sad. I have no desire to go back or prolong the baby stage, but as I lay in bed nursing my beautiful little baby I was struck (perhaps for the first time) with the FULL realization that this season is limited. During much of the past year I felt like he would NEVER grow up and now I realize he’s actually growing up rather quickly and before I know it he won’t want to nurse or cuddle or fall asleep by my side. Before I know it he will be big and independent and although there is a part of me that wants that, there is also a part of me that felt a little pain in my heart at the thought. It’s amazing how conflicting the emotions of motherhood can be at times.

Anyway, we had a really nice day and a very nice little birthday brunch for Thaddeus. We tried to keep it small and just had 4 other families there, but with everyone’s kids it ended up being a pretty good size group. Bryan and I made this wonderful homemade doughnut recipe (I used unrefined cane sugar instead of honey for the babies). I also made an egg and spinach dish and baked oatmeal. Our friends brought fruits and walnuts picked from the tree in their backyard. We eat and the kids played and then Thad opened his presents, which were each so perfect. After that everyone joined us in praying a liturgy that Bryan and I wrote when Thad was born – we made a few tweaks to it so that it fit more with the 1st birthday occasion.

Here is a little video showing random little bits of the day:

Here is a picture of me and my little man on his 1st birthday:


If you have kids what did you do for their first birthday and how did you feel about them turning 1?

Do any of you know what you did for YOUR 1st birthday?

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Scenes From My Life: Making Ice Cream

I come from a long line of foodies. I was lucky enough to be raised around good food. My mom enjoys cooking and when it comes to good homecooked nourishing meals it’s hard to beat some of her classics, but my dad LOVES cooking. He doesn’t just cook, he perfects. He”ll pick a recipe and make it over and over, making little changes along the way until he goes it just right. He’ll learn about the chemistry behind what he’s making so that he can really understand why things combine the way they do and use that knowledge to make things taste better. I grew up with my dad reading cook books for fun and taking cooking classes in France for vacations and making friends with chefs at his favorite restaurants.

 But, the family love for food goes even farther back than my dad. It extends to my grandparents and extended family as well. One of my favorite food memories from my childhood is making Creme de Menthe ice cream with my grandma. She was always very secretive about her ice cream recipe and it was always so special when she made it.

This weekend I was at my parents house with my cousin (who is more like a little sister to me) and my aunt and we decided my dad needed to give us a cooking lesson on ice cream. Of course, the only choice for what kind of ice cream to make was Creme de Menthe. So, we made three kinds of Creme de Menthe ice cream. We made my grandma’s recipe first of course. And then we decided to play. Grandma’s recipe isn’t a custard based recipe so we decided to adapt it into a custard based ice cream. Then my cousin and I said we wanted to know how to make it without an ice cream maker so my dad showed us how to make a Creme de Menthe gelato without an ice cream maker. THEN since we had egg whites left over from making the custard we decided to make a Chocolate Creme de Menthe mouse. Oh, yay! It was a VERY good day! Here are a few pictures from our cooking extravaganza.

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Rejoicing in the journey –
Beth Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Psychological Warfare: Parenting a Toddler

Today I’m sharing with you a guest post from my dear friend, Jane. My husband jokes that I get more excited to see Jane than anyone else – and it’s kind of true. Jane just has this grace about her that is compelling. She’s inspiring and yet down to earth, creative and fun and playful. She puts people at ease and is a joy to be around. I’m happy to share just a little tiny piece of Jane with you today.

Photo 153Nobody told me as I was becoming a mother that I was about to enter the battle of a lifetime.  So maybe  phrases such as ‘psychological warfare’ and ‘battle’ are a bit dramatic, but honestly sometimes they feel like an understatement when I am in the middle of it. Toddlers have a way of getting into our hearts and under our skin so easily. I don’t know how they do it so well. Sometimes it feels like they compare notes on the playground or stay up late reading blogs on how to torture and woo their mommies.

Let me just start by saying that I LOVE being the mother to my two beautiful daughters; the oldest, Sofia, is 2 years and the youngest, Mia, is 6 months. I feel a deep sense of purpose and I DO enjoy the adventure of the intense highs and lows of parenting. Nurturing came so naturally and was such a rich time for both my husband and I. I have so many strong memories with both of our girls during the time when they were little that could last me a lifetime.

But then it all changed.Photo 168

My oldest, Sofia, changed. Her needs and the way she needed me changed. My role as her mom changed. The way we interact changed. I am learning how to be her mother to teach and correct her, as well as provide love and care. And to appreciate it all.

Toddlers are smart. They are cunning. They run our emotions around and around and around.

Psychological warfare, according to Webster: Actions intended to reduce an opponent’s morale. Here are some everyday examples:

  1. The tantrum hug. This is an incredibly effective tactic of Sofia’s. After I’ve said ‘No’ or have done any kind of discipline, she leaps into my arms and gives me a bear hug while crying/screaming. This swings my emotions around in circles from feeling anger/fear/concern to compassion/warmth/love. It is the most confusing. It does help us both calm down…
  2. ‘Sama’. This means ‘i’ll do it all by myself in Czech’. It’s Sofia’s life motto at the moment. Which means not only that she thinks she can do everything by herself, but that I have to choose 100 times a day:  to either let her = peace+mess+time or not let her = war+faster+cleaner.
  3. Mealtimes. Oh mealtimes. Sofia has always been an all-star eater. She has happily eaten everything I’ve offered her. Well, recently she has experimented with saying ‘No’, pushing away her food, throwing it on the floor, using it as lotion, spitting it out. This has become very stressful for me. I never know when we sit down how she will choose to react. This DEFINITELY affects my mealtime morale.
  4. Learning new things and being ridiculously cute. Toddlers have this tactic perfected. They are learning so much so fast and they know very well the reaction that they will elicit from their parents. Sofia knows that I can hardly say ‘No’ to her as she is singing the ABC’s (only to ‘G’) in her sweet little voice. Or since she has learned ‘Peese’, how can I not give her a cookie? She has also learned that it is much more beneficial to learn people’s names….because then THEY are more likely to give her anything she wants, even after mommy has said ‘No’.
  5. Running to daddy. My husband has beautiful relationships with our daughters. At the highest moment of tension between my toddler and I, inevitably, daddy walks in the door and she leaps into his arms. Any other moment of the day and this would absolutely warm my heart, but in this instance, it hurts.
  6. The hug/wipe your nose on my leg move. I noticed that I was getting an above average amount of bear hugs from my little one and felt like the happiest mama in the world. Then later in the day I notice my pants have been used as a hanky over and over and over!

Photo 166I could go on and on….we all have our own stories. If your toddler is getting the best of you and your morale is down, take heart. Let me encourage with you a few tips…

(Have I already mentioned that I am NOT an expert? Just consumed by this topic at the moment and was invited to share)

Weapons? Arm yourself.

  1. Hold your baby/toddler when they are asleep. There is something deeply calming and disarming. I feel like my toddler and I have had extensive reconciliation times as she is sleeping in my arms.
  2. Remember the nurturing times. Remember that things will change. Remember that you are not alone.  Remember.
  3. Laugh ALOT. Play. Giggle alongside of your toddler. Get on all fours and listen to her giggle. Discover what she thinks is funny and see the humor in it. Laughter dissolves tension wonderfully.
  4. Patience. I’m not sure exactly when to get this quickly when it is most needed, except from God. This weapon alone is a reason for faith in God, because patience as a human resource is SO limited….and is exhausted SO quickly by a toddler. The patient kind of love really only comes from God. Believe me. I’ve tried to find it everywhere else. Ask Him for it.
  5. Don’t take things so seriously. I love having a clean, vacuumed, mopped floor. But I am slowly letting it become less important. It is very hard. With a toddler + food and toddler + toys and toddler + play doh, it is just impossible. I could really go crazy if I got upset every time I found a crayon bit somewhere. Take safety, health and love seriously. Maybe pick one or two things to really capitalize on and hold loosely to the rest. Let everything else be negotiable.
  6. Talk with your toddler. I have found that so many of Sofia’s meltdowns come when she simply can’t communicate what she wants or needs. The more I let her feel heard, the more questions I ask, the more I repeat what I think she is saying (it’s such a mixture of Czech and English, it’s hard to pull something recognizable out!), the more open she is to my instructions, discipline, and the worst word of all, ‘NO’.
  7. Soak in ALL the love your toddler gives. The hugs, the kisses, the cuddles and the tackles.
  8. TRY to have perspective that everything will continue to change, including us. We are learning and growing as parents and as people, and this is an incubator for growth. Hard, but good growth. Our toddlers will change and the battles will look different….enjoy the journey!
IMG_6166Jane Hasik is an American expat living in Prague with her Czech husband, Martin and two lovely little girls, Sofia, 2 years, and Mia, 6 months. She loves having her red table full of good friends, food and conversation and enjoys being in the middle of a project of any kind. She loves being a beginner at many things and is an expert at nothing!

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Letting go of Mommy Ideals

We all have them don’t we, the ideals we hold on to? We say I’m going to be this kind of mom, person, friend, etc. And then we feel guilty or like failures when life takes us in a different direction. And it often does take us in a different direction.

For example, I’ve read quite a few posts about women who thought they would follow Gary Ezzo’s advice in Babywise, but they tried and it didn’t work for them, so they had to let go of their expectations and change their picture of ideal. (As a side note, I found this article from Christianity Today, saying that Ezzo’s approach is potentially dangerous and that the original publisher was severing ties with him, to be really interesting.)

Tonight I talked to a dear friend who shared about how when her kids where younger the “hot” parenting strategy in their church was Growing Kids God’s Way. She expected to follow that advice with her child, and she tried it for a while, but it didn’t work for her. She felt like she wasn’t being true to who she was when she followed Growing Kid’s God’s Way and it didn’t work with her child. So, she had to let go of her expectations and change her picture of ideal.

Yesterday, I had to let go of my expectations and change my picture of ideal.

I shared here on the blog about Baby Led Weaning and our desire to follow this approach to introducing solid food. We have been doing this for the past few weeks, but most of the time Thaddeus doesn’t eat much of it. He’s still nursing a LOT and so I have been very relaxed about him eating. But, yesterday we went to the pediatrician and there are some concerns. He’s not gaining weight like he should; he’s just above the 3rd percentile now. The doctor didn’t think we needed to run any tests or really worry about it, but she did say that he needs more calories. He needs to be eating much more than he has been.

So,  we came home and spoon feed him some mush – making sure he actually ate it.

I felt sad about it, like I was letting down this ideal that I had, but Thaddeus seemed fine with it. In fact he seemed to really enjoy it. He liked the food, he seemed less frustrated then when we just put food in front of him and let him try and pick it up. He ate well and ate almost all of what we’d prepared.

We all have our ideas of how we want to parent and the types of parents we want to be, but there is something that’s even more important than our ideals – Our Children. What works for one child, might not work for another child. What works for one mom or family, might not work for another mom or family.

My friend told me that whenever she hears parenting advice or someone say “this is the best thing to do for your child” or that sort of thing, she thinks of it like a story. A story of something that worked for a particular child, with a particular parent, in a particular setting and time. Maybe it’ll work for your child too, but maybe it won’t. Don’t hold so tightly to the ideal or the advice. Look instead at your child and be willing to compromise on your ideal for what is best for your particular child at this particular time.

A few weeks ago I read this wonderful post about all the things a “good mom” does and about how being a good mom can look very different in different situations. I love it and thought of it again today as I adjusted my ideals a little bit. There is so much of all of this in each of us. We shouldn’t judge each other when someone else doesn’t meet our ideals. We shouldn’t judge ourselves when we don’t meet our own ideals. We may do things differently, we may not reach our expectations, we may compromise on our ideals, but that doesn’t make us bad moms. We are human, and we do the best we can for our children with where we are at. I am a good mom, even if my baby is skinner than we’d like right now. I am a good mom even if I change my ideals.

Hold loosely to your ideals today. Allow your child, your life, and your God, to shape the mom you are and the mom you are becoming, instead of the ideals you have placed on yourself.

Rejoicing in the journey-
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)

Admiration Mondays: Brie Endicott

endicott familyToday’s post is about a person who is very special to me, my sister.

When Brie and I were younger we didn’t always get along. We were only 13 months apart in age and we often competed with each other and got jealous of one another other. Our relationship didn’t fit the big-sister/little-sister picture and we didn’t always have common interests. As we have grown though our relationship has also grown and changed. I can now say that my sister is not only my sister, she is a dear friend who I have missed every day since coming back to Prague.

I think there has been a part of me that has always admired my sister. I’ve admired her guts and gusto, her beauty and energy, her ability to talk with anyone and her ease in meeting new people. These are things I have both admired and been jealous of at times.

My sister is one of the most beautiful women I know. She always has been. She’s attractive, and she constantly had a slew of guys pursuing her. She’s fun and energetic, vivacious and creative. She was always up on the latest trend and the newest fashion and now that she’s a mom she’s the perfect person to go to when you want to know what brand of stroller is the best and what diaper bag is going to be the most stylish.

One of the things I love about my sister is she is just fun to be with. We can still giggle like school-girls together over desert, she always has a good story to tell and she’s up for almost anything. But, I’ve also realized as we’ve gotten older that she can be trusted with deep secrets and that she is a great person to go to when you just need to vent. She’ll listen and understand and she won’t judge you.

Most of all, though, I admire the mom my sister has become. Like all mothers she’s not perfect, but she’s one of the best mom’s I know. She loves her children so much and does so much for them each and every day. My sister’s kids are all incredibly close in age, with the first two only 16 months apart, and that can be so difficult and taxing, but she has handled it with incredible grace and beauty.

I loved that when I became a mom my sister went above and beyond to support and help me. She told me her little breastfeeding tricks, gave me advice about birth and pregnancy, gave me maternity cloths, cloths for the baby, toys for the baby, really she gave me gift after gift after gift. Her generosity and grace towards me was boundless and I’m not sure I would have been able to make it through the difficult first days of motherhood without her.

What really amazed me was that she did it all, was constantly providing for my needs as a new mother, while also caring for her three children and husband, moving out of their house and helping my mom host a rather large family Christmas. She never ran out of energy, she never dropped a ball. My sister is organized, and knows how to get things done. She’s loyal and faithful to do what she says she will do. She amazes me all the time.

I think every new mom needs someone in their lives like my sister. They need a mommy friend who’s just a little bit ahead of them, who can show them the ropes, help them out at the beginning and give them the encouragement they need. For me that person has been my sister and I’m so glad that it has. I feel like I have gotten to see my sister and all that she is and does with new eyes since becoming a mom and it makes me admire her so much.

I miss you, Brie, and can’t wait to see you next month!

A Prayer for Brie Endicott:

Circle Brie, Father,
when children scream, and baby’s poo and things break,
give her peace to rise above it all and respond with grace.
Circle Brie, Father,
when the mundane tasks of the day pile up,
give her truth to know that the work she is doing in her children’s lives is infinitely valuable.
Circle Brie, Father,
when she feels alone and overwhelmed,
surround her with people who love her and will encourage her.
Circle Brie, Father,
bless her as she has blessed me and so many others.
Father, Circle Brie,
Keep peace within
and turmoil out.
The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
shield Brie on every side. Amen.

Rejoicing in the journey –
Bethany Stedman

If you like this post please consider buying me a cup of tea (Suggested: $3 a cup)