Living “Hands Free” – Happy Launch Day!

June 30th of this year is a night I’ll remember so fondly for the rest of my life.

My husband and I were doing what we usually do after the kids surrender to bedtime – sitting next to one another on the couch, watching TV, checking e-mails, answering texts, etc… basically, finally catching up with the rest of the world after a long day of meeting the needs of others…

That’s when I opened a message that dropped my jaw to the floor.  I couldn’t help but beam like a little girl on Christmas morning as I read it aloud to my hubby.  Rachel Macy Stafford, New York Times Best-selling author of “Hands Free Mama” had written to me.  ME.  I couldn’t believe my eyes or the opportunity she was extending to me with such humble sweetness.

Her latest book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More was being officially released in September, today in fact, and she was asking if I would be interested in reading it prior to the launch date.

Not only is that an incredible honor in itself, but, friends, I have TWO books on my nightstand.  Just two.  And they have been there for over a year.  They are special to me.  I love them, which is why they aren’t on a shelf in our dining room or still in a box in our basement.  Two.

The Holy Bible and Hands Free Mama.

That’s it.

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I joke that one’s my “life handbook” and the other is my “mama handbook,” but I’m really not joking.  Hands Free Mama changed my life.  The Hands Free Revolution posts on Facebook changed my life, my parenting, my perspectives.  When I read whatever Rachel Macy Stafford writes, it’s as if for those few moments, all of my chaos stands still and I bask in the glow of what could be, of what should be.  I feel the warmth that comes with the realization of how God wants me to mother cover my heart like a reassuring hug that says,

“You can do this.  You can do this well, and you can do this beautifully.”

So, of course I didn’t hesitate for even a moment before replying with a emphatic “Yes!”

And on August 3rd, the most beautiful gifts arrived in the mail – the book, Hands Free Life, a bracelet that I wear proudly every day, and a frame containing a copy of the most beautifully written “House Rules” I have ever read.  The box was so full of heart, so full of life, and so full of hope.

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And that’s what it is giving me every time I pick it up – a big dose of heart, life, and hope.

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Since reading, I have been trying with intention to disconnect a little more each day from whatever it is that fills my mind, day, and even life with clutter.  We live in a world in which we face a distraction almost non-stop.  This book has given me practical ways to recognize that and to actually do something about it.

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That’s part of the reason why this post is being written at 10 PM on “Launch Day” – I have been living all day.  I have been living all month!  It has been freeing and it has also been quite revealing.  My family needs me.  Your family needs you.  Your people need you.  Spouses, friends, children, co-workers, the bank teller, the cashier at Hobby Lobby, the mom next to you in the aisle at Target…   They need you.  They need you to notice, to be present, to be aware, to engage, to connect.

As Rachel Macy Stafford so perfectly phrased it, I had been suffering for far too long from a “connection-starved soul.”

Are you starving?

You don’t have to be.

Are your people starving?

They don’t have to be either.

Don’t be intimidated.  It’s possible.  It’s not too late.  You can breathe again.  You live again.  You can finally give yourself permission to let go of the anger and pressure that may be overwhelming you, suffocating you from the inside and robbing you of the chance to enjoy life’s “sacred moments,” to put down the To-Do lists long enough to hold your loved one’s hand or call a connection-starved friend.

Will you join me in living this beautiful life “hands free”?  Can you share with me your journey?  How your world is shifting too, thanks to the abundant “Daily Declarations” and “Habit Builders”?

I’ll be posting more about my own journey as I am reading this incredible and wise book, and I’ll let you in on how I am putting what I am learning into practice in my own life.

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Because I am so passionate about her message and believe in it 100%, I am going to send one of my readers a copy of the book, Hands Free Life: 9 Habits for Overcoming Distraction, Living Better, and Loving More.  

This post isn’t sponsored by anyone, and I haven’t been asked to give anything away; this is just me, Kristi, an overwhelmed mom, a tired spouse, a desperate daughter of God, who, possibly like you, wants to live and love fully, and is just wanting the same chance for you.  Please share this opportunity with others that you may know who would benefit from this great book and enter yourself below.

And, Rachel Macy Stafford, if you read this, let me just say for the umpteenth time…THANK YOU!  Thank you for sharing your heart, your wisdom, and your story with us.  We needed you and your voice.  This book matters.  Your message matters.  You are changing lives, shifting atmospheres, and shepherding the hearts of many women (and men) around the world.  For that, and especially because I am one of them, thank you from the bottom of my heart. 

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

Blessings!

xo,

Kristi

GIVEAWAY LINK:
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UPDATE: HANDS FREE LIFE is #1 in Inspiration, Family, Relationships, and Women’s Studies on Amazon!

(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.  All opinions are mine alone, and any commission gained from products in this post is solely provided by Amazon. The Giveaway above is coming from the wallet of our dear #mrkloverhouse, who loves me so well and appreciates my love language of gift-giving.  Here at Klover House, I take sincere pride in exposing my readers to products, authors, and companies that I support 100%, and I promote from a place of personal experience only.  Thanks for supporting us through the use of any links found on our blog! xo, Kristi)

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More posts from Klover House…

 

 

 

The Last See You Later

Her last words as his wife here on earth.

Her last “See you later.”

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My grandfather passed away a week ago yesterday.  His illness…acute leukemia…was so brief and shattering for our family.  In one month, just one, he went from initial doctors’ appointments, tests, and the unknown to a diagnosis we’d never expected and the doorstep of Heaven.  We were shattered.  Especially heartbroken was my grandmother.

 

The love of his life for 65 years tomorrow, loved and depended upon him desperately.  The days spent at the funeral home must have been grueling for her.  How I wish I could have somehow rewound time for her, taking her back to her kitchen table where we’d play Rummy 500 for hours and my grandfather would sneak a little love tap in as he passed her on the way to the coffee pot.  I can still hear her words…“Stop that!” He’d have a sly grin on his worn face and she’d roll her eyes and laugh.

 

They loved each other.

 

I happened to be standing at the casket the morning of his funeral service when my grandmother spoke her last words to his physical body.  I wasn’t expecting it, because, according to the funeral director, we were expected to leave and offer her a chance to be alone with him one last time.  Although, I doubt she could have stood on her own had we left her.  My father held her.  I watched her knees buckle slightly as she approached my grandfather’s side.  I followed and stood at the foot of “his bed”, as we had called his casket when trying to explain what was happening to our oldest daughters.

 

I’ll never forget my grandmother’s last words to her beloved.

 

I love you.

You took good care of me.

You were my best friend.

You were the best husband, father, brother.

I’m going to miss you.

You’re not suffering anymore.

I love you.

I’ll see you later.

 

And she walked away from him.  I was left motionless – struck by the monumental life moment that I had just taken in.  Things like that hit you so hard in the heart.

Those simple words may seem just that, simple.  But when you hear them trickle in a lonely whisper from the brokenhearted lips of one human who has lost her one and only…they become the deepest words this side of eternity.  Tears welled up in my eyes in agony for her aching soul.

Watching my grandmother go through one of the hardest moments in her life and hearing her last good-bye brought so much clarity.  I thought of my husband.  We are approaching our 8th anniversary.  Eight.  We’re still newbies when our union is stacked up against theirs.  There is still so much we have yet to learn.  As the weight of this new urgency to love him well fell heavy on my heart, I remember saying to him something along the lines of,

We need to enjoy each other while we are still young.  I don’t want to be in her shoes one day and look back on our lives full of regret.

When that day comes when one of us may have to say good-bye to the other…I want those same kind of words to be able to pass between us, completely free of regrets.

You loaded the dishwasher wrong…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You drove like a maniac…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You took a nap instead of helping around the house…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You left your dirty socks on the floor…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You woke up on the wrong side of the bed…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You forgot what I needed at the grocery store…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You burnt dinner…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

You made plans without checking with me first…doesn’t matter.  I love you.

 

You see, when that day comes, none of the trivial things will matter anymore.  All that will remain will be the love shared.  Was I your best friend?  Did I selflessly care for you?  Did I love you well?  

That is what will matter.

If I have to recall her words every day for the next sixty years just to be the wife I need to be…to be the mother I need to be…to be the daughter and sister I need to be…to be the friend I need to be…  I will.  

Will you?

Happy Anniversary, Gram and Pap.  In marriage, companionship, friendship…thank you for always being an example for us to follow.

xo,

Kristi

 

 

Respect for the “Solo” Mama and 5 Things that Keep This One Sane…

I must say… I have such a new level of respect for the “solo” mama.  I’m not going to go as far as to say “single”, because I know you can be married and still spend the majority of your time parenting alone.  And by “alone”, you know what I mean, right?  Like, physically the only adult in the picture, hands-on.

My husband has been traveling more this year than I ever thought he would.  The weeks are long, and the nights are longer.  With three little ones under the age of five and being almost six months pregnant, I am well out of steam by 10am Monday morning.  That makes for a looong week when the hubs is off daddy-duty, friends.

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I thank God for my mom popping in a couple of times here and there on those weeks to drop something off for our business (Eden Gray Clothing) or to bring lunch or dinner on a whim.  She babysits full-time for my brother, so I can’t steal her away for long, but if it weren’t for her little visits, I would surely unravel by Friday.

This last trip of his, I found myself thinking a lot about single moms and military mamas or wives of other men that spend more than the tolerable time (for a wife) at the workplace – doctors, fellow travelers, etc.  some of us women spend a lot of time parenting alone, and it’s hard!

My hat goes off to you, mamas!  God bless you with a visitor, a nap, a phone call from a friend, a surprise meal…
God bless you with sanity!

And on that note…here are some things that I have gotten into the habit of doing to keep my sanity with these little, needy, beautiful, dear souls entrusted to me when the days are extra long and tiring…

1 – Say “I love you.” A lot.  Especially when you want to throw them outside but can’t (because it’s raining or freezing or dark… haha).
My husband has called me in total frustration in the past, “Where are you?!  How much longer?!  Are you almost home?!  I can’t take any more of this!  You were made for this!  God gave you more patience than me!”,  and the list goes on.  Ever get those same calls or texts while you were simply making a grocery run?  haha  Yep.  Made for this.  Well, maybe that’s it, because I’d like to believe that I am “made for” this mothering thing, but I admit that I lose my cool with the kids just like Dad does.  I get tired and frustrated too.  The whining…the tattling…the constant requests…it can be like nails on a chalkboard at times, but… I still adore them, and telling them out loud does something to my soul.  It resets my nerves and gets my focus back on track.

I first noticed it when my second was a newborn.  I remember she was up, miserable, crying incessantly one night.  I had a bad cold, and she was nearly brand-new.  It was late, like 3am, and I wanted so badly to just lay her down in her crib, shut the door and go to bed.  I didn’t.  Instead, I remember standing in our living room, holding her unhappy self in my arms and just saying over and over, “I love you.  I love you.  I love you.”  I’d kiss her forehead and say it, and you know what, it’s when I feel the least “together” that the “I love you” wants to flow out of me the most.  It has become my grounding mechanism.  Whispering “I love you” to your child when aggravated is like a soothing force over a weary mind.

2 – Touch them.
Now, not in the spanking sense that you may want to gravitate towards when they are acting up, but rather, get down on one knee if you can, and touch their arm, their hands, their face…  make a connection with your eyes and your hands.

I just used this method today.  My child was acting up badly.  She shoved her little sister right in front of me and was sent immediately to “time out”.  “Time out” was going poorly too.  She was standing on the chair, jumping out of the chair, touching things on the table beside her that she wasn’t allowed to be touching, sticking her tongue out.  She was acting rotten to put it plainly.  All of that bought her extra time of course, which was explained to her over her 11 minute stay in isolation (normally 5, because she’s just seven weeks shy of her 5th birthday).

My frustrated self wanted to scream, wanted to demand that she go and take a nap… but, I also could realize that she was acting this way for a few possible reasons:  she’s tired after school and refuses to fall asleep for naptime after lunch, she was up several times throughout the night and went to bed later than usual, she was feeling unhappy/grumpy about something that happened at school, and she was arguing with her sister (who was still trying to mock her from the other room)…  So, after her ‘time out’, I called her sister over, dropped to my knees and took them both by the hand.

My physical touch helped to hold their undivided attention.  I didn’t have to squeeze or hold them in place, I just held their hands and told them to listen to my words and look at my eyes.  I kept my expectations brief and simple:

“Mommy has to finish some work, and I have to clean up the house.  I need you to play quietly (because the baby was sleeping) and nicely together, or you will have to go to your bedroom.  No fighting.  No yelling.  No walking or jumping on the couch.  Do you understand?”

“Yes.”

That was over an hour ago, and I haven’t had to yell at them or break up one argument since.  A soft but firm tone and a gentle touch that says, “I love you, but I mean business” seems to go far most of the time.

3 – Keep the house straightened up.
I know – you want to smack me, right?  Yeah.  I get it.  I can’t stand cleaning up this house every day.  I think of how much simpler it was when we were selling our last home and 85% of our belongings were boxed up and out-of-sight.  Life was so less cluttered and so was my mind!  Now, these little tornadoes are just that…tornadoes.  All.day.long.

I am tempted to just let it go…let it be.  After all, you can only do so much, right?  Especially when you are the only parent at home for an extended time, but I have learned the hard way that when I “let it go”, I pay with my sanity.  The mountain on the kitchen island…the random piles of laundry…the dishes calling my name…the sea of crumbs on the floor…  they take my anxiety level from bad to oh-my-gosh-help-me-get-out-of-this-nightmare-worse.  Seriously.  When you are tired and stressed, the last thing you need is to also feel like you are living in an episode of “Hoarders”.

So, I adopted the motto:  A clean home is a calm home.

I fail at keeping the place looking top-notch, and I never accomplish as much as I wish that I could, but I force myself to clean something before carting myself off to the couch or the bed.  I may not tackle every area, but generally tidying up the house each evening does wonders for my soul come morning.

4 – Read to them
Nothing calms my nerves more than sitting down on the couch with my favorite blondies snuggled beside me and a book in my lap.  When they are super tired (and I am super tired), they will happily sit at my side for an hour at times.  Just sit there.  No fussing, no whining, no fighting.  A few times, I have gotten lucky and our story time has led to a late afternoon movie and a couch nap!  Seriously though, if your babes are tired, but fight sleep like mine, have a story time with them and enjoy the chance to sit quietly together while they calm down and you recharge.

5 – Play with them / get silly   
My kids just want my attention (don’t all kids want that from their parents 24/7?).

When I am flying solo or having a lousy day, sometimes, I just stop whatever it is that I am doing and play with them.  A lot of their play time is with one another.  I try to play, but they leave me in their dust!  (I am pregnant, remember? lol) But even if my body could keep up, often my imagination can’t!  I have noticed that on the rough days, just being there – on the floor, in the same room – they will calm down, and everyone (especially me) starts to smile a little more. It resets the mood of the day.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that when I am about to lose my mind, if I actually let my grumpy guard down and succumb to the madness – SING a song that they love in a goofy voice, act out the scene of a favorite movie, talk to them with an English accent, anything remotely goofy… my mood improves immediately.  Life gets better immediately!  Yes, the mess is still surrounding me.  Yes, dinner is still needing to be prepared.  Yes, the garbage still needs taken out.  But, I am soooo much calmer and ready to tackle my tasks and mother appropriately when the “reset” button is hit.  Bringing out my inner “fun mom” helps tremendously.

So those are a few of the ways that I maintain my sanity as an overworked, overtired, pregnant mama of little people.  How about you?  What are your go-to methods / sanity-saving practices?  I would love to hear about them!

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Update: Since writing this article, we have added to our crew! Our fourth daughter was born in 2015, and, while my husband has a new job that requires less travel, I feel the need to reread this post and follow my advice daily! Four kiddos, six and under, is exhausting!

Remember, keep your love on, keep your perspective in check, drop the perfection, and just breathe.

You’ve got this, Mama. I know you do. xoxo

kloverhouse

Heavy Heart. Heavier Hands.

Hands.

I wish I could just get rid of you.

If I ignore you long enough, maybe you’ll just go away. *Backspace. Backspace. Delete. Hit the spacebar like I’m playing ‘whack-a-mole.’*

You stink, hands.

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You used to be my friends. You could curl around a softball and whip it from the fence to home plate in seconds flat. You could braid the finest hair and tie a ponytail before I even finished a sentence. Come on. What the heck is happening to you?! *Backspace. Delete. Delete.*

You are heavy.

You can’t bend right. Your fingers are weird. They snap and pop and curl. They’re lazy. They’re sleeping. They’re weird. You are numb. You fall on the keyboard like Frankenstein walking. You stomp the keys like each knuckle is weighted. You’re swollen. You are ugly. Your skin is cracked and dry, And it hurts to make a fist, because your skin doesn’t even fit you anymore. Squeezing you tightly is like trying to stretch a rubber glove around a basketball.

You stink, hands.

You stink.

If i just fight past it and pretend you’re not failing me, I think you’ll go away. you’ll stop this ickiness and wake up again. You have to wake up again. I have things to do.

I am tired of you. I don’t want to wedge you under my leg anymore, trying to lay you flat – trying to make you feel well again. I don’t want to stretch you out all day and night, hoping that this will be the last time before something miraculous happens.

You stink, hand. You just stink.

I think back to when I’d ‘hit the gym’. How you were simple tools in executing my agenda. You just did whatever I wanted – whatever I needed. You were mine, and you worked. You are no longer mine. You hate me and don’t work for me anymore. But maybe if I just pretend that you do, you will, and we’ll be a team again. I keep thinking that I’ll fix you. I’ll start running again. I’ll do push-ups and jumping jacks. I’ll pick up a paintbrush or ride a bike, and somehow all of that ‘normal’ stuff will pump a whole lot of ‘normal’ back into your veins.

I know I can’t just get rid of you, but I sure wish that I could. I know I can’t fix you, but I sure want to. As much as I can’t stand you, I could cry over you. I miss you. If you get better, then it’ll be a miracle, and you know what?

I believe in those.

I believe I will have my hands again.

Praying for all of you struggling with sjogrens/rheumatoid arthritis/autoimmune disease symptoms. They’re not normal. They’re not of God or from God, but their healing will be for His glory.

And these dysfunctional hands type, “Amen.”

video009 from Kristi D Klover House on Vimeo.
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