Smart Ants

     My first thought as I flicked an ant off the counter the other day was, "Smart little thing.  If you go hungry here there is no hope for you.  Absolutely no hope."  That's because it doesn't matter if I clean my floors once or ten times a day, they are still fit for a feast for ants or even small children.  (Though I really would rather parents of the latter didn't let their kids eat off the floor.  I try not to let mine, most of the time anyways.)

     So, as I mentally did the slow clap for those pesky little ants, I couldn't help but think back to how different my response was to ants in my kitchen earlier in my parenting years.  I freaked out.  Fuh-reeeaaaked out.  I mean how could ants be in my kitchen.  Surely my housekeeping skills were not up to par.  I tore apart my pantry in an effort to containerize every last particle of food so the dreaded ants wouldn't taint our food supply.  I'd say that's rather the opposite of how I responded this week.  The same can be said for my life in general. 

     One of the best things about getting older is gaining perspective.  As each year passes, it becomes harder and harder to worry about some of those little things that used to make me crazy.  That's a good thing, because I have to use way too many brain cells to answer questions like, "Mom, how many ants would it take to carry a chair?" 

      My answer: "I'm not sure, but I bet we'll know in a few weeks."  Oh, I'm kidding.  I bought some ant traps and nagged my poor hubby to death about spraying some insecticide around the outside of the house.  Until then, I'll enjoy a more laid back (if ever so slightly) approach to life.  There are more important things to think about, like why, oh why my children can't seem to master toilet flushing. 


Because I Can't Make this Stuff Up!

     I noticed the bathroom door was locked and I was fairly certain I saw my son walk in the room several minutes earlier.  I knocked and asked if he was okay.  He said he was and emerged a few minutes later with a smile on his face and a jar of pistachios in his hand.
     "It took a long time because I was eating these," he said as he held up the jar. 
     "You were eating while going to the bathroom?" I asked a little surprised.  (Though you'd think I'd learn to expect these things by now.)
     "Yes," he answered.
      "That's gross," I told him.
       "Why?" he asked sounding confused.
        I chuckled and shook my head while making a mental note to explain to him why eating in the bathroom is a bad idea.  I'll do that as soon as the incident stops making me laugh.  Kids are so silly!


Celebrating Advent Our Way

     Christmas music softly drifted through the house as we dined by candlelight.  We were beginning our new tradition of an Advent Wreath.  Each Sunday leading up Christmas, we would light a candle and read Bible verses about the real Christmas Story.  We lit the first candle before we all sat down to a hot meal.  I smiled as all five of us began to savor our time together.  It was perfect.
      Yes, that's exactly what I pictured as I made a list of things I'd like to do this special season.  Instead, this first Sunday of Advent, I found myself in the store buying a small pre-lit green foil tree.  I had decided to trade the Advent Wreath for a tree.  I swapped the candles for 24 miniature books that paraphrased the Christmas Story.  Why? Well, honestly it was because I bought the small books a few years ago and we'd yet to use them.  Also, I loved the idea of a small tree in our family room.  The fact that it would eventually be covered with book ornaments only made my decision easier.  You see, I have a bit of an obsession with books.   Perhaps if I was a bit more honest, the real reason was that I was only planning on an Advent Wreath because it seemed like the thing that we should do.  It's taken me a while to learn that should is a tricky word.
      As a mom, there is no end to the things that it seems I should do for my children.  One of the best lessons as a parent is learning what we should do for our families.  As I thought through what an Advent Wreath would look like for my family, I realized there would likely be lots of squabbling over who got to blow out the candles.  Not only that, but my kiddos would likely only be thinking about or actually trying to blow out the candles while we were trying to get them to focus on the verses.  Sure, they might have surprised us and sat like angels, but there was still a greater chance that the wreath would lead to more frustration than the "Book Tree." 
     So, this year we've have our little tree, our big tree,  stockings and a few other simple decorations.  The kids and I are also writing in thankful journals most days to help us stay focused on our blessings during this season when everywhere we look there are messages telling us to buy more and more.  Also, in an effort to shift away from the candy-filled calendars, each of the kids has a small toy advent calendar.  This may seem like a lot to some and perhaps it is, but it works for us this year and that's what matters.  So what if two boxes of decorations stay in the basement waiting to make an appearance another year.  They might be just right the year we do decide to do an Advent Wreath.  Keeping it a tad more simple will help us spend more time with each other and more importantly, spend more time reflecting on the real meaning of Christmas.  Now that sounds like something we should do!


My Big Girl

Here is my sweet girl roller skating for the first time. 

A couple of hours after this, I dropped her off at her first slumber party.  Not surprisingly, she had a wonderful time. 

As I dropped her off, I gave her a quick hug and a kiss.  She sighed and said, "Thanks mom.  I can't get to sleep without a hug and a kiss."  She was serious and my heart melted.

Later that night, I got a call.  She was doing fine, but just wanted to wish me a good night.  I'm sure I went to sleep with a huge smile on my face.  Perhaps she isn't quite as big as she sometimes seems.  That's fine with me. 

I love you, my not-so-big girl!


Six Years!

Our little man's birthday happened in the midst of the end-of-school craziness.  He had a camping themed party, not an actual camp out.  We just weren't quite brave enough to have several six-year-old boys over for an overnight.  Maybe one day.

Perhaps because of how busy the end of the school year can be, I didn't take much time to think about the past six years.  In fact, it didn't really hit me how much he has grown until I sat down to upload pictures to our laptop.  I almost gasped when I looked at the picture I took of him on the morning of his birthday.

It took me a second to register that he was indeed holding up six fingers.  It has been a full six years.  He has most certainly kept us on our toes.  I've said so many times that you can never underestimate Chris.  It's true, you really can't.  Just when I think I have him figured out, he surprises me.  He's all boy, yet he has the most tender heart.  He has a soft spot for younger children, well that is if you don't include his younger sister.  He also asks the most interesting questions.  He's determined to figure out how things work.  It's a good thing Tony is an engineer and is so often happy to explain how things work.

Of course, if you combine a tender heart with an inquisitive mind, you get someone who is all too often willing to ask why about everything, especially rules that to him seem arbitrary.  My prayer for him continues to be based upon Luke 2:52, "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man." 

I began to pray that verse for Chris before he'd even celebrated his first birthday.  At the time, I thought my choice was rather typical. and yet I knew it was what I was supposed to pray for him.  As he has grown, I've begun to have no doubt that it was God who led me to pray that verse for him.  Tonight, I'm doing just that.  I'm also thanking God that I get to be the mom to such an amazing boy. 


A Little Bit of Random

We're almost there.  Summer break is just around the corner.  In just two days my little man will be finished with kindergarten.  The next day my sweet oldest daughter will be finished with first grade.  It's been a good year.  My children are ending the year liking school every bit as much, if not more than when they started.  They've both worked so hard and I know they're looking forward to a slower pace this summer.

Our little princess also worked hard this year.  She would have gladly gone to school more than five hours a week.  The only thing she liked more than school was dance class.  If ever a child liked performing, it's our  youngest daughter. Now she tells us she wants to play soccer.  Her siblings remind her that she can't wear a skirt on the field.  She looks at them as if to say, "We'll see about that!"

This past weekend marked the end of Ann's soccer season.  I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of watching her play.  I surprised both Tony and myself when I found myself jumping up in excitement many times as Ann came close to scoring a goal.  Soccer was my sport so I suppose it shouldn't surprise me that I get a little excited. As Tony laughed at me, I pointed out that I was getting excited about a game our own child was in and I've seen him yell at games on a television screen many, many times.  He still laughed at me, but I like to think he saw my point.

For some reason, I'm having the hardest time believing that my little man will soon be finishing kindergarten.  Perhaps it's the fact that Ann is only one year ahead of him in school.  It hasn't been that long since she finished Kindergarten and here we are watching another one of our children say hello to first grade.  It all makes me want to tell time to slow down already!

 Chris enjoyed taking an art class in April.

Though I can't make a minute or an hour any longer than it is, I can certainly determine to enjoy it.  On that note, I'm looking forward to enjoying as many moments as possible this summer.  I'm also hoping many of those moments are spent by the pool or with a book in hand while reading aloud to my children.  

Happy Summer!


Long Days and Short Years

I was reading a post about just how quickly the time passes with young when it happened. I was nodding my head in agreement as I read the post knowing that in just a matter of weeks another school year will end. Then, I heard a little voice calling for me. Well, she wasn't so much as calling for me as she was shrieking for me.

If you're a parent, you know that accidents happen daily, if not hourly. Unfortunately, many of them happen in the bathroom, especially when preschoolers are too busy to stop their play. So, with the blog reading fresh in my mind, I took a deep breath and headed upstairs already knowing what I would find.

I tried to remember how fleeting this time is. I really, really did. Yet, I just can't fathom that I'll ever miss cleaning accidents off the bathroom floor, or even worse, peeling wet clothes off my children. Yuck! I was frustrated, but I swallowed the worst of my annoyance as I helped my daughter in the bath.

Only moments later I was rewarded with a sweet-smelling and happy four-year-old. As she happily played in the bath, I again believed that it's possible to cherish these parenting years. I was thankful for the reminder that these sometimes long days add up to some very short years. And yet, I was also thankful for children who sometimes make yucky messes. It makes the sweet parts so much sweeter. Not to mention, it somewhat eases the sadness I feel when I think of how quickly they grow. Just when I want to freeze time, my children do something that makes me think I'll let them age another year or two.

So for tonight, I'm savoring holding my preschooler as I smell her freshly washed hair. I'm loving her little hugs and requests for just one more kiss. I'm relishing my son shamelessly giving me a kiss before he heads to school. I'm adoring my oldest daughter reaching for my hand not caring who is watching. And yet, I'm also somewhat foolishly hoping that I might have just cleaned up the last bathroom accident by one of my children. Hey, a girl can dream!