Usually, I post Ask Away Friday posts on Friday because well, duh. But I’m switching it up this week because I’m part of something really special that is going to launch tomorrow. You’re curious now, aren’t you? I’ll give you a hint- it is a lovely love deal. Come back, because YOU are going to want to be part of it too.

I have been participating in Ask Away Friday for quite some time. This link up is hosted by Amber from Bold Fab Mom, Stacy from This Momma’s Ramblings, Tiffany from Mrs. Tee, and Penny from the Real Housewife Of Caroline Country.  The idea is simple. 2 bloggers trade 10 questions, answer those questions on their blog, and link up. I have found a ton of great new blogs through this and it is such a sweet community!

I have known Molly from All The Grace Between for a long time. We met through a writers group that I was a part of for a year through (in)courage. Molly and I are currently working together to encourage a group of stay at home moms through a different (in)courage group.

All The Grace

1. Can you say you have had one best day ever? What was it?

I have a top five, but the one that will always be at the top is the day Lola was born. I had a 36 hour labor with Malone and Lola’s was just under two hours from start to finish. I literally walked into the hospital room and had her in 10 minutes and 3 pushes. It was such redemption for me.

I am also choosing the day Lola was born because it is the day we gave our kids the gift of siblings. I’m an only child and I am terribly lonely for a brother or sister. It just didn’t work out for my parents to have another child. My mother had a miscarriage as she was divorcing my dad when I was five. I think every parent wants to give their children everything they couldn’t have growing up. And for me it is siblings, who will always have each other. They fall in love with each other more and more everyday and it is magic.

2. You write {beautifully} about your two lovely kiddos and how much they love each other already. We just became a family of five … how do you as parents help the oldest when they struggle with not being the sole child and star player of the family?

We have a really nice time span between Lola and Malone, they are four years a part. Because of his age, Malone can really comprehend why he has to wait for me to help him if the baby needs something. The best advice I ever got was to let the baby cry sometimes so that Malone can be helped first. It seems a little backwards to meet the needs of the child who is older first, but it has really helped. It is also a priority for us that Malone gets a lot of one on one time with us. We both take him out on adventures and we’ve left Lola with the neighbor so we could go off just the 3 of us. We are constantly filling his tank with words of affirmation and quality time.

3. You also talk about fighting for your kids’ character in an earlier post. What is your favorite {or most effective} positive parenting discipline tool?

Grace. Honestly, it all boils down to grace. If everything that I know about God is that he is the God of second chances, forgiveness, and love, how can I parent any other way?

This is my motto. Parent the way I want to be parented. If I had  hurt my ankle after I jumped off of the couch, I wouldn’t want to be told “I told you so! Look what happened when you didn’t obey me. It is YOUR FAULT that you got hurt.”

I’d want to be scooped up, hugged, and loved on.

Compassion ALWAYS comes first before discipline in our house. ALWAYS.

Our house isn’t wild and free by any means. I am constantly reminding Malone of the expectations we have. It is a part of our daily lexicon and he knows the rules really well. So well, that I have seen him pause to rethink something before going through with the crime. Those times that he doesn’t make the wise choice, there is a consequence. And we ALWAYS follow through with it, even when it feels too hard and mean (like the time a bunch of his toys met the trash bag after he refused to pick them up).

4. What is the last book you read? Should I read it? Do you have an all time favorite?

I try to read A LOT. I am not as successful as I’d like to be, mostly because I’m 100% interruptable 99% of my day.

The last book I read was Bread And Wine: A Love Letter To Life Around The Table With Recipes by Shauna Niequist. I really adored it, so yes, you should read it. It changed the way I think about food and hospitality. It challenged me to invite people into my home more often.

5. Top five things about where you live RIGHT NOW.

  1. I live in a real neighborhood. There is a great rhythm to my neighborhood and the people are very friendly. I can set my watch by what time the babies in strollers and puppies come by.
  2. I can be anywhere I need to be in less than 20 minutes because our house is three minutes from the interstate. Yankee Candle’s World Headquarters is 20 minutes north of me.
  3. My city hosts the 2nd largest St. Patrick’s Day parade in the country. We go every year, but have yet to make it through the entire thing. We usually head home after about two and half hours and catch the last part on TV.
  4. Malone goes to public preschool where in addition to his regular classes he gets 30 minutes of full immersion Spanish every day. The program started this year and he’s got close to 300 words already!
  5. I live near a lot of great places to get outside. We live in the valley of a mountain range and there are a lot of great easy trails to hike!

6. Where is the most beautiful place you have ever planted your two feet?

I have been to Alaska and Costa Rica and both of those places are amazing.

But the most beautiful place I’ve ever planted my feet is on the beach near my mother in law’s house on Cape Cod. My husband grew up going to this beach almost every day. To have another generation there to explore that same shore line is pure magic. I know that she feels the same magic when she brings Malone, Lola, and my nephew there.

7. You have been blogging for an eternity in internet years and seem to know your way around this . Tell this blogging luddite what is the top techie tool or resource that makes you or your blog better.

You flatter me with this… you really do. Especially because I feel like a newbie. Hands down, the thing that has taken my blog to the next level is focus and intention. When I come to the computer, I come with purpose. I keep a blogging binder where I lay out a lot of my day to day action points and keep a running list of blog topics. There are very few times that I come to this space without an idea of what I’m going to say. I don’t have time to wait for inspiration to strike.

Yesterday I wrote about baby gear that likely isn’t on someone’s radar. These are all products that I love and that a first time mother might not have any idea about. I had been sitting on the idea since right after Lola was born (almost six months ago).

I also really like the How They Blog podcast. 

8. Tell me something about your husband that made you fall in love with him in the beginning … and something about him now that makes you love him even more.

My brain is too old for this question. We’ve been together for over a decade. Michael is pretty serious about 95% of of the time, but every once in awhile his silly side comes out via the Snoopy Dance. He just recently taught it to Malone, it is the gift that keeps on giving.

I love watching him be a dad. Michael is getting to relive his childhood with Malone. This past weekend they went to a bar (oh yeah.. they DID) that is full of vintage arcade games. I know Malone had fun, but when I called, I could tell Michael was having a BLAST.

9. I am secretly in love with your little boy. I just want to give him ALL THE HUGS. What do you think is Malone’s greatest gift {at least that you have seen to this point}?

He is very generous with words of affirmation and he has a servant’s heart. He loves to help me with Lola in any way he can and he likes to partner with me to do the housework, run errands, or put away groceries. My love language is words of affirmation so his “you’re the best mom I could ever want” and his “you are my very best friend” go extra far for me.

He’s also got a really precious insight into our faith. The other night I told him I loved him very much because he made me a mama. He pulled back and paused for a second and then said, “No I didn’t, Mama. God is the one who made you a mother.” And then I melted.

A few seconds later though, he told me that Jesus would NEVER live in his heart, but Jesus could live in his belly button if he wanted to.

10. What is the hardest thing about motherhood you never saw coming? The best?

I wasn’t prepared for the exhaustion that comes with the early days of motherhood. I miss sleeping, A LOT.

I never imagined the gushy feeling I’d get when my kids learn a new skill. It is like my insides melt and gush with pride. It is a HAPPY place, for sure.

Molly will have her post up tomorrow, so head to her blog then to read her answers to my questions.

And don’t forget to come back here tomorrow for some lovely love does.