And then came Mother’s Day

There was a day when I dreaded mother’s day.  Not because I don’t have the best mom in the world…I do-I do!

But because there was a time when I wanted nothing more than to be a mother.

And I couldn’t.

Since we now have two beautiful girls who are one and three-and-a-half, it’s sometimes hard to remember not having children.  And since having our second I find I don’t have the moments to pause like I used to, sitting completely still looking at my children with appreciation, love, joy and pure gratefulness that God blessed us with them.

When we just had our oldest daughter, for the first 10 or so months of her life I cried tears of gratitude every time I rocked her to sleep at night.  I can still hear the lullabies we played as she fell asleep.  I can still feel the warm glow of her nightlight.  I can still see her little face snuggled into me as she slept so peacefully.

I firmly remember asking God several nights as she slept in my arms to freeze that memory into my mind so I would never ever forget how I felt during those moments, what I saw and what I heard.

And as I had already learned so well, He answers prayers.

When my husband and I were first married, neither of us were in any hurry to have children.  We waited about three or so years before starting, not even thinking of any possibility that it wouldn’t just happen.

But month after month went by and nothing happened. Over the span of about three-four years we tried various things to get pregnant including fertility medications, all the way up to in vitro fertilization.  That was the most difficult time of my life thus far.

It is something that is hard to understand unless you’ve been through it.  Those few years were filled with every emotion you could imagine and I questioned so many times why God just wouldn’t give us a baby when everyone around us seemed to be having children.

I began to avoid situations that would remind me in the most in-your-face-ways of what everyone else had that I wanted: baby showers, kids’ birthday parties, family picnics at church and of course, Mother’s Day.

But this blog isn’t about the sadness.  It’s about the hope.  It’s about the fact that I would travel that hard journey one million times over because it made me a better disciple and a better mom.

There is no question that through those hard years God strengthened my faith. And I humbly had the opportunity to prove that no matter what the circumstances in my life are, I Believe.

And then came Mother’s Day.

To celebrate Mother’s Day is what I prayed to God for many, many times over.  I’m talking, on my knees, crying out, begging, pleading, desperation prayers.

And He answered.

Image

Worth the wait, worth the tears.

But most importantly I am humbled that God took the time on me…little old me to…to strengthen my faith.

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. 1 Peter 1:7

For my children, God made me a better mother so He can use me to lay out the plan for their future in Christ.  As James Dobson says in A Night Light for Parents, “If we truly believe that the eternal souls of our children hang in the balance – that only by winning them for Christ can we spend eternity with them in heaven – will we change the way each day is lived?”

Yes I will.

But only by the love that was shown to me through such a difficult time am I even remotely able to impact my children and show them God’s true love.

So on this Mother’s Day I thank God that He waited to answer our prayers for children; that we have two little girls who are healthy, happy and arrived in perfect timing.  My husband and I have been so unbelievably blessed by them in our lives, more than we ever imagined or asked for (Ephesians 3:20).  There is nothing more that I want to be than their mother.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mama Burde

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I make cakes.

The real reason for not blogging isn’t my usual list of excuses: doing the dishes, chasing the kids or even incessantly sweeping the floor.

I’ve been making cakes.

Do you ever get to a point in your life where you’re like, how did this happen?  I’m not trying to get deep here by any means; after all we’re talking about cake.  Chocolate cake.

I just mean to foreshadow with a moment a few weeks ago when I was up until midnight making cakes. How did that happen?  When did I become a cake maker?

Let me tell you how.

When our oldest was one (just over two and a half years ago), I was pretty adamant that I wanted to make and decorate her cake.  I saw an infomercial for a massive cupcake.

You’ve seen it. The Big Top Cupcake.

And for the record it is no way 25 times bigger than a regular cupcake. They have worse measuring skills than I do.

Anyway, with the help of my mom I went at my first, pitiful attempt to decorate a cake. I hated every moment of it. You see, I have little patience for anything I can’t ram. And when decorating a cake, you just.can’t.ram.  I figured it wasn’t the best looking first birthday cake ever made, but she loved it. And again, it was chocolate.

The first cake I ever made. Not bad, but not great.

So, fast forward a year and our then two-year old wanted a bumblebee party with a ‘bumblecake.’

My mom (what would I do without her!?) ordered me a bumblebee cake pan mold and passed onto me her ‘tackle box’ of icing tools as if she was passing on a family heirloom. I was ready to do better.

And this was the moment, when I looked back on my work and said yes, I can make cakes.

The ‘Bumblecake.’ This was a bumblebee cake pan. The wings were heart cookies I made and the tail was a sugar cone.

And so it began my quest to outdo myself at every cake attempt.  And last fall when our oldest turned three she, the requester of all requesters, asked for a blue flower birthday party.

Not the most difficult cake to make, but it sure did look like some flowers. And it sure was blue.

I made three flowers out of cupcakes because she was turning three. And blue is her favorite color!

Just six short months later I find myself exhausted, sticky from homemade frosting and facing a disaster of a kitchen.

Two cakes in one night did a number on my kitchen.

I volunteered to make two cakes in back-to-back days.

Cake 1: Thomas the Train Cake for our beloved nephew.

I bought a small Thomas the Train and then focused mostly on the scenery. I like to challenge myself, but there was no way I was going to actually assemble a Thomas out of cake.

Cake 2: Nerf Gun cake for my brother and his fiance’s bridal shower. (Why the hay a Nerf Gun cake?  Good question.  You can read their blog to find out.)

I made two cakes in sheet pans, and put chocolate ganache in between and then cut out another square cake out to raise up the Nerf Guns. It was my hubby’s idea to use the two Nerf Guns pointing at each other. Be warned: black icing is a mess!

And then only one quick week after that I found myself face-to-face with the Big Top Cupcake mold that is TWENTY-FIVE TIMES BIGGER…I mean four times bigger…than a regular cupcake. Our youngest was turning one. It was time for redemption.

Mama Burde, you can do this.

With a purple dream cupcake theme, I made it happen.  I was so pleased with a sweet little purple cupcake cake for our sweet little baby boo.  And of course, she loved it.  And of course, it was chocolate.

Finally, redemption from the Big Top Cupcake!

Our little boo loved her cake!

I still like to ram when I make my cakes; there is so much that always needs to be done. My husband has even joined the Burde Bakery for clean-up duty.

So if you need a cake…think about contacting Mama Burde.  By looking at the pictures on my blog of course and make it your dang self!  I have dishes to do!  But really mamas, if this Mama can do it, so can you!

Here are the recipes I use (if you’re at all interested):

Cake

I firmly believe there is only one type of cake to make: chocolate.  No really, you can use whatever, but I have only used chocolate.

Make a regular box of cake mix, but add additional: 1T vanilla, 4T vegetable oil and 1 egg.  Make as directed, then put in freezer immediately after pulling it out of the oven.  I have kept my cakes in the freezer for a week before and they stay so moist! Decorate them right out of the freezer.

Dream Whip Frosting

1 and 1/2 cups shortening (Crisco)

1 envelope Dream Whip

1 T vanilla

1 T almond extract

dash salt

2 lbs powered sugar

2/3 cups cold water

Mix Crisco and Dream Whip then add vanilla, almond, salt (beat together) then add water (beat again) then add powered sugar.

Super easy!

The Office Coffee Game

And other office etiquette that I completely forgot about.

I started my own marketing business in January of 2008. Since then I have been working completely from home (in yoga pants of course), with short visits to my clients for meeting and things.  And as my relationship with each of my clients grew over time, I started going into their offices even less; we got more efficient and I got more yoga pants.  And Mama Burde is happiest in yoga pants.

OK, I swear this post is not about my obsession with yoga pants.

Earlier this year, a long-term client of mine asked if I could work some regular office hours and become a more important role in their business.  This client is amazing, awesome, all of the above great things and I was grateful and excited for the opportunity.

I started regular office hours for two mornings per week at the start of this month.  Having never had to be at an office, dressed and looking my best since I had kids (our oldest was born in the fall of 2008), I was worried about getting all of us girls out of the house and on the Burde bus in time.

Did I mention my office hours start at 9 a.m.? Not so bad.  But, we sleep around here.

But what I didn’t think about was the fact that I have not been in a professional office environment in just over four years.  That’s a long time.  I have realized over the past month that I am like a bull in a China shop, ramming around the office jamming fax machines, forwarding my phone unknowingly and of course spending way too much time with the coffee maker…which we will get to.

I feel like I’m fresh out of college at my first job.  And exactly what are the office etiquette rules?  I know I can wear jeans on Fridays, but what about just general professional manners?  I do consider myself a professional, but lately I feel like a fool.  Here are a few issues I have blundered through over the past several weeks…

So, say I need to talk something over with one of my new co-workers.  I do the ‘office dance’ in front of their office or cubicle wondering: Do I just walk in? Do I knock even though their door is open or they don’t even have a door? Do I call first even though it’s a small office and they’ll hear my voice not only on the phone, but from the cubicle next to them where I’m at?

And what if they’re on the phone when I get there…do I quietly stalk their telephone conversation and wait for them to hang up or do some awkward hand gesture and tilt my head to the side with my hand in the shape of a phone as if I’m a mime saying, ‘call me!’

And as always with efficiency on my mind, if I can talk in a loud voice and ask them a question, do I really need to get up and walk over to them?  Can’t I just holler (not to be confused with holla) to save myself a little time?

That actually happened today.

The woman in the cubicle across from me has a little window that faces my door.  We happened to make eye contact when I was checking to see if she was there so I could ask her a question.  What did my all-rusted-up-on-office-etiquette-behind do?

I just yelled.

But you know what happened?  She yelled back!

Now since 2008 I have also enjoyed my own coffee, from my own coffee pot, at my own strength.  Office coffee is different.  But what I discovered is that there is this Secret Office Coffee Game.

Here’s how you play.

There are two coffee pots. Each person that goes to get coffee tries to take from the coffee pot with the most in it, assuring each pot – while might be low – does not technically require you to make another pot.  The person that goes into the break room to find two pots of coffee with about a ¼ cup each left, loses.

Guess who loses?  Me.

But overall, I just love my new schedule.  I have managed to get out of the house in time and have successfully sent two faxes!  I also removed my phone from Do Not Disturb so people can actually get through on my line.

As for the Secret Office Coffee Game, I still need to work on that.  I wonder if there is an App for that?

Martha, Sit your Butt Down!

Well, this is the longest I have gone between blog posts. I’ve been busy. Busy doing an assortment of things that keep me busy from the moment I wake up until the moment I fall asleep.

I just finished the very important job of organizing my purse. The assortment of suckers, chap sticks, pens, gift cards and of course teething rings were taking their toll on me. I couldn’t take it anymore. Something as silly as an unorganized purse was driving me crazy.

I know after only one kid outing it will all be unorganized again.

That’s the thing with most of the things I obsess about; they keep happening. Over and over again.

Take the dishes, for example. I do them at least five times a day. Funny thing is we only eat three meals a day and we have a dishwasher. But, if there is a dish in the sink I do it.

I was at a work party for my husband about a month ago, chatting with a couple other moms with young children. We laughed about how we rush to get dinner on the table, ram food in our mouths and try to finish before everyone else so we can start the dishes before the kids get done. So much for an enjoyable family dinner.

My husband had the idea a few weeks ago that we would save the dishes until after the kids go to bed, that way we could enjoy some family time after dinner and I wouldn’t be rushing around like a fool.

You mean, leave the dishes in the sink? I got the shakes.

So, I have been reminded, more times than I would like to admit, about the story of sisters Martha and Mary in Luke 10. Picture this…both sisters were extremely excited about Jesus’ visit to their home. However, their mutual excitement yielded two completely different reactions.

Martha (AKA Mama Burde), rammed around in the garden, picking veggies and herbs for dinner, cleaned, cooked, set the table and expected the house to be in tip top shape for this glorious guest. I can just see her running around in circles going just about crazy to have everything perfect. Good intentions of course.

Mary instead sat at Jesus’ feet and hung on his every word, not worrying about the house, food or anything other than the One thing that got her excited in the first place.

Oh, if I could be like Mary.

I have tried…a little…to take some extra moments to enjoy dinner, look past dirt on the floor and try and let the laundry pile up a little before it’s done so I can enjoy the moment and not always be thinking in the back of my mind about what has to be done.

But honestly, it’s hard. I have been Martha for so long I really have to constantly think and be intentional about well…sitting my butt down!

Jesus actually said to Martha (Luke 1-:41-42 The Message), ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it.’

Oh yea I heard that. I get far too worked up on a daily basis about absolutely nothing.

So, this is where tips and feedback are more than welcome. How can I become more like Mary? With so much to be done and so little time sans kids to do it, how can I maintain a nice, clean home (which I think is important) and finish all my tasks, but enjoy the moment? It does always get done after all.  And frankly, I think I’m ready to stop getting worked up over nothing and enjoy only what is essential.

This Martha heard it loud and clear!

It’s a Tastic Christmas: Part Two

It’s a Tastic Christmas: Part Two
Craft-Tastic

Who would have ever guessed I’d be one crafty Mama?  Not me.

But last year around this time, when our toddler was just over two, I tried a lot of fun Christmas crafts.  I was actually a little worried that this year I would have fewer ideas to try.  Like I have to outdo myself every year or something.  Well, either way, I was wrong.

This year we sure had a Craft-Tastic Christmas.  Our crafty little toddler is so much into craft projects (especially those involving candy), she almost gets the shakes.  And, I think she did have the shakes when I revealed all the candy set up for our Christmas Craft Activity #1: Gingerbread house and tree.

All the candy prepped for our gingerbread activities.

This is about the most simple – and sugary – activity you can do.  They have so many options for premade houses and other things.  I actually found mine on Amazon and since I have Amazon Prime (free shipping), they arrived at my door two days later and didn’t cost me a thing to ship.  You could of course bake your own cookies, but honestly I’d rather spend time organizing all the candy in the little glass jars, which are actually candle holders I had.  Most of the candy is even from the dollar store.

The finished house (notice the massive, uncontrollable sugar smile on our toddler)

NOTE: if you don’t want your child to eat too much sugar, skip to Christmas Craft #2.  Really, no use in torturing them with all the candy!  I pretended our toddler didn’t have a dentist appointment two weeks later.  Which, had great results mind you, because she certainly doesn’t eat candy like this all year (and we have a pretty strict no juice policy).

Christmas Craft #2 Hand and Feet Christmas Tree

This was so much fun! I used our toddler’s hands and our baby’s feet to make the tree and tree stump.  The crafty toddler was on her own with what she wanted to use for decorating the tree.  I had this old frame lying around so I was actually able to frame it and utilize it as part of our Christmas decorations.  I dated it since I figure I’ll hang it up every year.

Our girl, decorating the tree.

The finished product, hung with an old frame I had. Toddler hands, baby feet. So sweet!

Christmas Craft #3 Triangle Tree

So, I did have to prep this the night before and cut out all those darn triangles.  I also taped the white paper together in advance.  Then, I let our girl go wild with glue, buttons, glitter glue and whatever else we have in our massive ‘art project hutch’ (which use to house nice glasses, plates vases, etc….another one of those ‘before we had kids’ moments).  You could really ‘hang’ it however you wanted.  I used double-sided tape, which I keep at least two rolls in the house for all children craft emergencies, and then hung it on an existing hook that was here when we move in.  Voila!

This could really be made a lot smaller, if needed. I like the bigger size though. And please note the cute thing our toddler is doing with her foot. She saw this pic and told me it was her 'new foot thing for pictures.'

Christmas Craft #4 Nativity

With all the crafts and cookies, santa claus and snow excitement, it’s nice to take time to refocus your child on the true meaning of Christmas.  So, we put together this nativity make out of graham crackers, lots of fruit roll ups, marshmallows, etc.  I saw some pictures online, but then just kind of used what we had to make it work for us.  By this activity I really was to the point where I wasn’t going to buy ANY more candy!  It turned out pretty cute.

Fruit roll up nativity! The hay is coconut I colored with food coloring...not cheese.

This time of the year is so much fun.  And, I think there is always good reason to take the time to set up organized projects for your kids.  I think I had just as much fun as our girls!  I am confident, however, that I ate a lot less sugar than they did.

If you’re a little obsessive like me, just ignore the massive piles of glitter and sprinkles all around the house and remember that soon all the decorations and clutter will be gone and we can move into the completely boring months of January and February…even more reason to try and enjoy the mess!

God Bless and Merry Christmas to you and your families!

Cutting Corners

Among other things I have called myself, I am now deeming Mama Burde the worst Christmas Present Wrapper in the History of the Entire World.

It’s pretty bad.

But actually now that I think about it, I once saw my husband tape a paper plate to a box when he ran out of wrapping paper.

Edit: I am now deeming myself the SECOND worst Christmas Present Wrapper in the History of the Entire World.

But honestly, I don’t care.

There are some things I cut corners on.  Wrapping gifts is one of them. It is so beautiful and cheery when people wrap gifts with bows and ribbons and little flares here and there.  But really, I’d rather spend my time getting something else done.

I wrapped all of our Christmas presents in about 10 minutes.  I blasted through about 20 gifts, giving me a two minute per gift wrapping average.  Pretty impressive.

I’m so not a slacker.  I just choose to cut corners on things that I really don’t think matter that much.  The paper is going to get ripped; if you’re my toddler you don’t even see the wrapping paper because you’re so excited to open what’s inside.  If you’re my husband, you don’t care if it’s wrapped or not.  And, if we’re hauling gifts in the car to visit family than it’s all about ramming them in as little space as possible.

So, if I didn’t trim enough paper off the ends of a box and the wrapping is all bulky and my dollar store tape is half hanging on, at least I can say I was able to take the extra time to get the kitchen cleaned up or watch an episode of Extreme Couponing so I can make myself feel like an even more frivolous shopper.

Yes, there are so many better things to do than spending extra time putting a little pizzazz on my gift wrap.

Mommy First. Professionally Unprofessional.

I work from home. That can sound a little sketchy, like when I see the ‘Make $1,000 a week working from home!’ ads. But, it’s legit. In fact, I know quite a few people who work from home in my field. Marketers, graphic designers, etc. can make quite a good living doing what I do and companies can save a lot of money by hiring people like me without having all the overhead, retirement, health insurance and other costs associated with having employees.

Now that I’ve plugged my business…

They call me a ‘working mom.’

I consider myself a ‘mom working.’

I am fortunate enough to not only work from home, but keep a more part-time schedule and flex my hours a lot, doing work at night if needed, or early in the morning before the kids get up. (Yeah, like that ever happens.) Our oldest daughter just turned three in October so I’ve had just over three years to look like a fool in various venues, meaning I look like a mommy first and professional second. I’m OK with that.

I have…

  • Spilled diapers out of my purse as I put it down while meeting with a prospective client for lunch. 
  • Lied to clients (yes, I’ve lied) when they ask what that noise is in the background… ‘nope, not my daughter in the monitor…just the radio in the background.’ 
  • Told many, many poop stories to clients and realized the topic after it was too late to return. I had to finish the stories hoping they’d laugh at the end. Most of the times, they did. 
  • Spoken to clients on the phone while nursing…gotta love the multi-tasking options with the telecommute, minus a web cam, of course. 
  • Along the same lines, but one thousand times more embarrassing was when I quickly dropped something off to a client shortly after our oldest was born. I had leaked and didn’t realize it until I got home. I felt full of awesomeness after that one. And I was obviously full of something else too.
  • Let’s just get all the nursing stories out in the open here…had to pump while working at a marketing agency I do work for.  It was just me and one other employee (male, of course), in their fairly small office.  I had to come out and tell him what I needed to do.  He could only get himself to say, ‘do your thing.’ He was actually great about it!  And now that he has a prescious little girl he can totally relate.

But over the past few years I have become more open and honest about how I run my business. Not that I tried to hide anything before, but I try and be blatantly upfront about the fact that I don’t work full time and I’m not available 24/7 to anyone else but my family. But when I work, I work. And my kids are well taken care of so I can concentrate on something I love to do.

So, the next time you’re in a meeting and you see a mom with drool on her right shoulder and diapers peeking out of her purse, show her a little love. And bring her a latte for crying out loud. She deserves it!