Wednesday

The Bloggable Snowman



The "Blog" Version of Our Afternoon...

This afternoon I bundled up my sweet kids. Then, we headed out to frolic in the snow. I shoveled a bit of snow while they rode around on their sled. I was amused at how much fun they had sledding down "hills" no higher than a foot or two.

After a bit of shoveling, I decided to build a snow man with my little ones. The snow was perfect. It had rained a bit today, so the snow was perfectly packable. Not only that, but the temperature was hovering somewhere above freezing. It really doesn't get much better than that if you want to build your own Frosty.

We worked together and built a sizable snow man. At least it was sizable to us since it took me quite a bit of effort to lift the midsection onto the base!

Once we'd built the snow man, we added sidewalk chalk for a nose. (That was my creative Ann's idea!) Then, I had the idea to use our mega blocks for eyes and a mouth. I thought it was rather clever, but I think the kids were a bit confused at first. We only found one stick, so that's why our snowman only has one arm. Chris did have the idea to use a long plastic box that used to hold a curtain rod for an arm. I had to explain that his idea, while creative, probably wouldn't work.

We topped off our creation with one of my hats and a scarf. Then, we headed inside feeling quite pleased with ourselves, but not before taking some pictures.

And, that is the blog version of our afternoon. The real story would involve things like a toddler who kept falling in the snow, but who also insisted on removing her mittens and hat despite the constant falling in the snow. Her hands were quite red by the end of our adventure.

The real story, if I was going to tell it, would also involve a mama who was quite flustered by the time she had everyone bundled and ready to head out into the snow. There were boots that wouldn't go on without several firm tugs and hats that kept slipping over eyes. I won't even mention the fun had while helping a certain three-year-old put on some gloves.

In addition, the real story might also include a grumpy child who announced, as the snow man was being built, "ha ha, your snow man has dog poop in it." That child was right in the observation, but the child's tone was wrong. The same child was more than happy to join in the fun when the snow man was mostly built.


Finally, the real story could possibly involve a mama who became quite stubborn about finishing a snow man despite her children's wishes to go inside and have hot chocolate while watching a movie. Of course, this is a blog and therefore only the bloggable version will be told. The rest will remain a mystery that will hopefully fade from our memories so that the afternoon that remains becomes quite a fond, rather than tiring memory.

Tuesday

Yellow Flowers

A few months ago, my son announced that he was going to get me flowers for my birthday. I didn't think much of it at the time.



A month or so later, I was on an errand with just my little man. Once again he told me that he was going to get me flowers for my birthday. That time I asked him if he knew my favorite color of flowers. "Yellow," my three-year-old said. He was right! My heart melted at the thought of my crazy little guy knowing his mama so well.



Last night, Tony took my oldest daughter on a quick run to Target. I knew they were probably picking up a few things for my birthday today. My son was a bit disappointed not to be included in the shopping trip, but it was late and he was tired.



So, you can imagine my surprise as I was preparing breakfast (okay, I was just toasting some bread) and my little man came walking into the kitchen with yellow flowers! He was so proud as he wished me a happy birthday.



I felt so blessed to not only have a son who wanted to give me my favorite flowers, but also a husband who remembered his son's wishes.


Apparently, they not only look alike...they also think alike! I love them both so much! Thanks Tony. Thank you Little Man!

Sunday

The Igloo

Though my children got some wonderful Christmas gifts, the older ones soon forgot all about them when their daddy built them this:

That is a little snow fort made from packed 5-gallon buckets. Late Christmas morning, Tony headed out to shovel the driveway. (It was the first of many times that we would have to do that.) I soon sent our older two kiddos out after him.

Later as I peeked out the window, I noticed that Tony had abandoned his mostly finished shoveling job in favor of building a snow fort. I also observed that Ann and Chris were not paying much attention to the fort. Instead, they were sledding down the "mountains" created by the snow Tony had shoveled. I smiled at my husband as I leaned out the door and asked if he was making the fort for himself or the kids. He laughed.

Eventually, the fort began to take shape and the kids started to take more interest. Soon they were making windows by adding flattened boxes to the top of the fort. At one point there was even a large blue toy truck on top of one of the walls. I'm not exactly sure what its function was but it seemed to make them happy.

After lunch and naps, the kids headed back out with Tony where they put the finished touches on the fort. The kids had asked all month to put Christmas lights on the outside of the house. Well, for one reason or another, we never got around to decorating the outside of the house. So, you can imagine their delight when their amazing daddy put Christmas lights on their "igloo."

The cheesy smiles don't do their delight justice.


Watching my little ones play with their daddy just might have been my favorite Christmas present.

Saturday

A White Christmas

As we finished up playing Santa and Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve, my husband commented that he thought it was cute that I was so excited. I assumed that he was talking about how excited I was about giving the kids their new presents. It turns out he thought it was cute that I was so excited about all the snow. Well, he was right.

Two days before Christmas we were getting rain. Sure, it was rather warm, but still, rain! On Christmas! Of course, Tony and I started singing "I'm dreaming of a rainy Christmas." It just doesn't work!

Fortunately, on Christmas Eve it started to snow. Now two days later, it hasn't really stopped! I guess that's why they say "be careful what you wish for." By the time we made our way home from church on Christmas Eve, the roads were getting quite slick and the ground was covered with snow.

I honestly don't remember a time in my life where the ground was bare and then it started snowing on Christmas Eve. Sure, I've had my share of white Christmases, but never quite like this one!

We managed to get our kiddos to bed at a reasonable hour. Then, we began bringing the presents up from the basement. We stuffed the stockings and put the Santa gifts just under their stockings. I even remembered to take a bite out of one of the cookies we left out for Santa. Oh the sacrifices parents have to make!

Amazingly, the children slept until nearly seven on Christmas morning. I couldn't believe it!

I made them all wait to come down together so that I could snap a few pictures. They were so excited.

The big surprise we had for them was a play kitchen. Two days earlier, we'd made a last run to Sam's to get some things for our holiday meals. While we were there I noticed the kitchen back in the markdown corner. We made the last minute decision to buy it for the kids. They were quite surprised to find out that Tony went back to pick it up after I bought it right under their noses.

Anyways, little Jane was absolutely delighted with the kitchen. She stood and played with it the entire time we opened gifts. Chris and Ann helped open her gifts because all of her attention was on the new kitchen.

Before we opened the gifts, we added Baby Jesus to our nativity scene. Fortunately I remembered where I'd hidden him for the past month!

At our house, our children get three gifts from us for Christmas and one from Santa. Though I grew up with amazing Christmases and piles of gifts, we thought it would be important to limit what our children get in order to keep the focus on the real meaning of the season. It is surprisingly hard to decide on just three (well, I guess technically four) gifts to buy for my little ones. In fact, I cheated a bit this year by giving them the kitchen as a joint gift. I also put a few nicer little things in their stockings. I couldn't help it. Sometimes it's just fun to spoil them!

Since we knew it would take Ann and Chris all of three seconds to open their gifts if left to their own devices, we decided to slow things down a bit. We opened gifts one person at a time. That included Tony and me.

Tony opened a large collection of piano classic CDs that he'd been eyeing at the bookstore. He also opened some new workout/lounge pants and an electric fondue pot. (We're guessing we'll soon learn why dinner at The Melting Pot costs so much!)

I opened a wonderful Lisa Leonard necklace. I had suggested it to Tony and I love, love, love it! I've got it on right now. I also got a small hand vac and a larger corded hand vac. Yes, I actually wanted these, and yes, I realize I'm quite lame. He also got me a Jillian Michaels workout DVD since he knows I've been enjoying The 30-Day Shred so much. My stocking was stuffed with a Starbucks gift card and some gum. (If only it would stop snowing, I could go get a yummy coffee drink!)

Ann, who was quite possibly the most excited about the whole present thing, opened some new Little Pet Shop toys, a slumber party set for her 18-inch doll and a little cooking set. Her Santa gift was a the Klutz Tea Party book. Santa was even thoughtful to include extra tea sets so she could have parties with her friends and their dolls. (She is already planning her first party.)

Chris was beyond delighted to open a nerf-like bow and arrow from my dad and stepmom. We gave him a new View Master with some slides, Trio Blocks, and a new plastic piggy (technically a robot) bank. We learned the hard way that his piggy band should not be breakable! His Santa gift was the Klutz Superhero book. It came with a wonderful red superhero cape and the book has masks and wrist guards to punch out and use.

As I mentioned, little Jane was delighted with the kitchen. However, she also opened some new board books, a Little People set, and a new stainless steel water bottle with her name on it. Her Santa gift was a little baby doll that came with a binky, bottle, tiny bear, and a toy rattle. She is sleeping with it as I type.

After we opened gifts, we enjoyed cinnamon bagels from Panera. That is the kids favorite breakfast treat right now, so I figured why not. We spent the rest of the day enjoying our new gifts, watching movies and playing in the snow. We made cookies to celebrate Jesus' birthday.

It was a wonderful Christmas.

I remember as I grew upI was a bit sad that Christmas would never have the same magic as it did when I was young. It turns out it only gets better when you see it through the eyes of your children.

Merry Late Christmas!

Thursday

Sweet Sisters

So I figured if I'm not going to get my act together enough to write a post right now, I might as well at least post a picture!



I love this picture of a recent morning at our house. Ann is doing Jane's hair while Chris stands in the background trying to join in the fun. Jane looks a bit concerned, but she really wasn't. She enjoyed every minute of her big sister's attention.

As I look at this picture, it is so easy to imagine them ten years from now doing the same thing! Oh how I pray that they would be good friends!

Wednesday

Still Blogging

I just happen to be blogging over here...

Friday

An External Hard Drive is a Fine Thing

About a month ago, our computer started acting funny. Not much later, it didn't act at all.


The same thing happened three years ago. Only three years ago we didn't actually back up our computer on an external hard drive. (I know!) That is the reason why my son's first year scrap book has a page that says "Technical Difficulties." We are missing pictures from two months of his first year.


Now, fortunately we learned from that little episode. So, when a virus recently attacked our computer, our only worry was whether or not we'd have to replace the computer. We knew our pictures and other documents were safe on the external hard drive.


Otherwise I would have lost pictures like this:


It might not look like much to you, but it means a lot to me. That is a picture of my youngest getting her first hair cut. I'm holding her and my step mom is cutting her hair. My oldest, Ann is behind us.


As I opened the computer today, I realized my husband had loaded all of our old info back onto our computer. It was like magic! Not having pictures forever lost due to a computer's untimely illness is a fine thing indeed!


See what others are finding to be fine on this beautiful Friday morning over at The Finer Things in Life.

Thursday

Let's Pretend It's October!

Why October? Well, because my computer was sick for most of the month of October. Maybe it was the cyber-version of the piggy flu. Who knows. The important thing is our kind friend fixed it and I have a computer once more!!! Woohoo!

However, if I'd had a working computer back in October, I would have posted some of these pumpkin painting pictures.

Why use a paint brush when you have hands?!!
I'm pretty sure Chris was the one who decided to ditch the paint brushes.
Little Jane had a lot of fun. Some of the paint actually made it onto the pumpkin. I promise!
Now, I could have taken a picture of the finished product, but I'm sure you can imagine what they looked like. The color on their hands was smeared all over the pumpkins. I proudly plopped them on the mantle. We all know the finished product wasn't the point. Good thing too since they looked much better unpainted!
Happy Pretend October!

Wednesday

That Was Fun...or Not

We just got back from picking up pictures of my little ones. I've never had professional pictures taken of all three of them. (Well, truth be told I hadn't had professional pictures taken since Ann was one, but whatever.) I used the Target Portrait Studios and was pleased. That is all beside the point.

The point is that we were at Target, the same Target we visit at least once a week. Before I headed to pick up my pictures and do a little shopping, I did what we always do...I took the kids to the bathroom and then bought some popcorn. A dollar or so is a very small price to pay for peace while shopping. Anyways, Ann did something she has never done.

As we all headed into the women's restroom, she stopped in her tracks and insisted that I was heading into the "boys' restroom." I insisted that it was the women's restroom as indicated by the sign. She still wouldn't enter through the door.

I was about to grab her hand to coax her into the restroom when I noticed someone was holding the door open for us. As I turned, I knew, I just knew what was going to happen and I wanted to crawl into a hole.

You see the woman holding the door for us had short gray hair. She was a store employee and was therefore dressed in a red top and tan pants. I could easily tell that she was indeed female, however, I could see how a little girl who thinks all females wear all things girly, might think it was a man at first glance. That is why I panicked.

Since my hands were on a stroller and I was keeping an eye on my son who'd already entered the bathroom, I didn't have time to clap a hand over my daughter's mouth.

Instead, I started talking very loudly hoping to distract Ann from saying what was on her mind. I said something like, "No honey, this is the girls' bathroom. See, there are all girls in here."

That was the wrong thing to say because that simply opened the door for what she wanted to say. She stuck her little finger in the air and said, "But look..." and pointed at the sweet woman holding the door for us.

I looked at her like I had absolutely no idea what she was talking about and said something like, "I only see girls sweetie." I'm pretty sure I grabbed her at that point and nudged her toward a stall.

I gave her a mini lecture about not calling people boys or girls when we aren't absolutely certain. I really really hope that information sunk in that sweet little head.

Oh, aren't kids the best!

I'm Talking About Candy

Over here.

Stop by and let me know how you manage all that candy at your house!

Monday

It Wasn't a Cavity!


I just pulled pumpkin seeds out of the oven. I think they are a little browner than they should be, but hopefully they are still edible. After all, I did too much work washing pumpkin guts off of the seeds to throw them away now!

That is all very much unrelated to what I sat down to write. Rather, I sat down to write about what happened a little earlier in my evening.



I was sitting on Ann's bedroom floor with Chris. We were getting ready to read a few stories before bedtime. Suddenly, Ann came in the room announcing, "I have a cavity." What?



She'd been complaining on and off of a sore tooth. The girl can be a tad dramatic so I hadn't paid too much attention.



So, tonight, in a non-sympathetic way, I asked her to show me her tooth. Then I poked my finger in her mouth and discovered that MY FIRSTBORN'S TOOTH IS LOOSE!



I won't lie. My stomach actually did a little flip flop when I realized that she is fast approaching the mile stone of loosing her first tooth. Rather than tear up, I put my game face on and told her how exciting it was that she would soon get an adult tooth.

She wasn't buying it. It obviously made her very nervous to think about losing a tooth. As I tried to continue reading stories, she turned and hugged me while saying, "I"m afraid." Needless to say, I stopped what I was doing.

I asked if she'd like to talk to her friend who'd lost a tooth. She did and we did. We also prayed. Finally, I did have to ask her to stop thinking about it. I told her she'd be just fine.

After I got everyone tucked in, I wandered downstairs to finally do the day's dishes. As I did, I reflected on my oldest's tooth. I wondered if I'd be there when it finally came out or if she'd be with daddy or at preschool. Then, I remembered something from my loose-teeth days. I recalled a book my mom read to me, appropriately titled Lizzie and the Tooth Fairy. I stopped doing the dishes and rushed to the computer where I found and bought it at Half.com.

Shortly thereafter it dawned on me that we're soon going to need a tooth pillow to keep that first lost tooth safe before the tooth fairy is able make a little exchange. Again, I went to the computer and found a cute little polka-dot tooth pillow on Etsy.

Fourteen dollars later I had to chuckle. It was a bit reminiscent of five years ago right before my daughter was born. I was trying to make sure we had everything we needed. Of course we did and even some things we didn't need.

I felt a little bit like that new mom tonight as I purchased the appropriate first loose tooth accessories. I guess I'm learning that every new stage or milestone has the possibility to bring out that wide-eyed feeling of wonder at the wonder of life. It's a special thing even if it does make me a bit tearful with nostalgia.


If you'd like to read more about what others are learning, please stop by Jo-Lynne's.

Saturday

The Best Day of Her Life

A few nights ago, I got to take Ann and Chris to see the Imagination Movers.

On the way to the show we picked up some food.

The kids were excited and I was excited as well, not so much for the show but for their reactions to the show. There isn't much better than seeing my children experience things for the first time.

I wasn't surprised when Ann spoke up from the back of the van that, "this is the best day of my life."

I asked her why assuming she'd say that she was getting to go to a fun show.

Instead, she seriously responded by saying, "Because Chris gave me one of his chicken nuggets!"

I just laughed because that is so my girl. From the moment she was born she has always liked food!

It doesn't take much to make their days right now. I love that!

Friday

Celebrating a Sick Computer!

I'm actually feeling quite grateful that our home computer is a little under the weather. It hasn't been an option to just hop on throughout the day so I can "check my email". That, of course, invariably leads to looking at Facebook or some blogs. Before I know it, more than 15 minutes are gone.

So, a day going on two days without the computer is quite the breath of fresh air. I'm doing more with the kids, visited in person with a friend and her sweet kiddos and even did some cleaning!

I really like the sense of community the internet fosters, however being without it except for a few minutes in the morning is a fine thing indeed!

Please visit Amy at The Finer Things in Life for more fine things!

Thursday

Well...

I'm sitting here on Tony's computer for a brief moment before he heads to work. Our computer has a nasty virus and isn't cooperating. I really should have gotten it a flu shot.

I thought I'd take this opportunity to post a picture of all three of my children looking at the camera in the same picture, but no such luck. I started to try, but realized things weren't happening like they usually do and I'm a bit paranoid to do much on his work computer. We can't have two sick computers!

Aside from not being able to post a picture of my kiddos for my mom and brother to admire, having no computer has actually been nice. It's easy to think I don't spend much time on the computer until it's actually gone and I realize how much time I have to do other things.

Anyways, I guess it will be a bit until I post pictures of our trip to the pumpkin patch and our messy afternoon of pumpkin painting. I think you'll survive.

Have a good day!

Tuesday

Worth It


I've learned that our mornings really do go more smoothly if I do a few things before breakfast.


So, I try to get myself ready, make the beds and tidy the bedrooms. (Sometimes this is done with 'help" and sometimes not.) I usually try to pick out clothes for the kiddos and take them downstairs with me so that they can put them on right after breakfast. Of course, they pick out their clothes a lot of the time as well. In fact, there was a time when my oldest would put on quite the ensembles. I'd like to say that I'm the mom who would let her go out in her crazy outfits, but more often than not, I didn't.


Anyways, today I did the few things I mentioned and our morning was off to a good start. I did, however, realize after breakfast that I'd forgotten to bring down clothes for my youngest who is one. Since I couldn't send her upstairs and actually expect her to pick out a top and a bottom, I got ready to head upstairs myself. Before I could, my four-year-old offered to go pick out an outfit. I hesitated, but said okay. My three-year-old followed her.


Not much later, she came down with some jeans, a too-small t-shirt and some Baby's First Halloween socks (it's not her first, but someone gave them to her...). My first instinct was to say thanks and head upstairs to pick out a more suitable shirt, but I stopped.


It was the pride beaming from my oldest's face that made me stop. She was clearly happy that she had chosen to help me by getting her sister's clothes.


As my son entered the room holding a fresh diaper for his sister, I knew what I had to do. Instead of finding something that I thought would be cuter and better fitting, I dressed my youngest in some slightly mismatched and ill-fitting clothes.


After I had her dressed, I thanked my other two children for being such good helpers.


My oldest said with much pride, "Yeah, we were helpers because we're the big kids, right Chris?" Her brother agreed as they both went back to playing with blocks.


It was a small thing, but I know it made a difference. I'm glad I'm learning to take time to pay attention to those small things!


Now, I'm curious, do any of you let your kids wear whatever they pick out no matter how outrageous it might be?


Please stop by Jo-Lynne's to read more about what others recently learned.

Monday

This Week's Meals


Do you know that it is rather hard to come up with a catchy title about menu planning? At least it was today!


So, I ended up making Crab and Rotini Casserole last night, so I pushed last week's Ritzy Chicken to tonight. Wow, exciting reading, right little brother.


Here is what we're planning on this week:


Monday- Ritzy Chicken, Green Beans, Bread and Pineapple

Tuesday- Cowboy Bake, Salad and Broccoli

Wednesday- Turkey Sausage, Green Beans, Grapes and French Fries

Thursday- Italian Bread Pizza and Salad

Friday- Takeout

Saturday- Tacos, Carrots, Dip and Apple Slices

Happy Eating! Head on over to I'm an Organizing Junkie for a few more hundred (literally) meal plans!

Cowgirl Cutie

Ann had Dress-Like-a-Cowboy/girl last week at preschool. I suppose I'm a tad biased, but I've never seen a cuter cowgirl.

This girl makes my Monday!

Happy Monday! Be sure to check out Cheryl's at Twinfatuation for more Monday happies (that should soooo be a word)!

Friday

I'm Thankful!



Well, well, well. I sat down at the computer about five minutes ago. Plopped down or slouched down might be more accurate. You see, I was frustrated.

I pulled out my journal and started to get ready for some quiet time reading and praying. I was about to start with a list of things that were on my mind. I probably would of started with how ungrateful the children were even though I planned a picnic inside for them. (I even cut their sandwiches into dinosaurs for crying out loud!) Yet, I never started the list.

Instead, a devotion I had read earlier in the week came to mind. I realized that I was about to complain on paper. The devotion is from a book titled, Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. One line on last Friday's devotion reads "It opens the door to deadly sins such as self-pity and rage." The author is referring to what complaining can do.

After looking up the devotion and thinking about Philippians 2:14-15, I decided I'd make a different list. The list looks like this:

Blessings
Three Healthy Children

A devoted husband

Tony's job

Tony's health

My health

MOPS

Church

Our warm house

The fall leaves

Childrens books

Candles

Mysteries

Cream cheese frosting

Chocolate Chips

Oranges

Pineapple

Family

Blogging

Pictures

Friends

Hot Chocolate

Brussel Sprouts

Love

My Dyson Vacuum

Staying home with my kids


The above list is in no particular order. It took me no time at all to think of these things. I could have easily filled another journal page of more little and big blessings.

I'm not sure what the rest of the day holds. The weather is still dreary and cold (and has been all week!). Yet, I do hope I have closed the door on self-pity and anger, if only for the afternoon. Please Lord, let it be so.

A not-so-good picture of three of my favorite blessing having an indoor picnic.

Happy Friday!

I'm linking this blog up to a new-to-me carnival at The Finer Things in Life. Be sure to head over there and check out her blog. You won't be disappointed!

Monday

My Youngest Makes My Monday


I'm loving Cheryl's Makes My Monday carnival. It's the perfect excuse to post a picture that just makes me happy! Take, for example, this one. I took it this afternoon and it makes me smile every time I look at it. She just looks like the definition of happy.





You see, this week, it's pictures of my youngest that makes my Monday!


Here she is sporting the orange wings and tutu that one of her grandma's recently mailed to her. She borrowed the wand from her big sis.




After posing for the picture, she decided to more closely inspect her new wings.


In addition to discovering the world of dress up, little Jane has also discovered how to pout. The first time she did it was when Daddy told her she couldn't touch something. She crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip. We laughed. Ever since, the rest of us like to say, "Jane, pout!" We think she looks so cute with her little arms crossed. She thinks it's a funny game. The wings only make the pout cuter.



Little Jane, you make my Monday and many other days for that matter. I love you!


How about you? What makes your Monday? Be sure to head over to Cheryl's for more fun starts to the week.


Happy Monday!

A Meal Plan Minus the Pumpkin




Well, who knew that posting a little menu plan on this old blog would actually motivate me to follow through last week? It was soooo nice eating mostly home cooked meals and enjoying plenty of leftovers.




But, do you know what was not so nice?




I found it very sad that I couldn't find canned pumpkin! That means that I didn't get to make my favorite pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. It also means it isn't really officially fall. After all, making those pumpkin bars is a requirement around here and without them, I don't suppose there can really be fall. Or something like that.




Now, don't think for a minute that I didn't almost make the cream cheese frosting to spread over graham crackers. I didn't actually make it yet, but I will if canned pumpkin doesn't surface soon at my local stores.




Also, don't think for a minute that I'll resort to actually using a fresh pumpkin that I cook. I won't. Maybe sometime, but not anytime soon.




Enough about pumpkin. Right now I've got some homemade bread rising and I'm trying out lasagna in the crock pot. All I've left to do is to throw together a salad. (All that really means today is that I'll wash some spinach leaves and toss them on our plates to accompany our dinner.)




So, my menu plan is off to a good start! Here is what the week looks like:




Monday- Crock Lasagna, Homemade Bread and Salad (or maybe I should just say lettuce leaves)


Tuesday- Leftovers or sandwiches. (We've still got plenty of leftovers from the weekend.)


Wednesday- Stuffed Chicken Breasts, Orzo and Salad


Thursday- Upside-Down Pizza, Carrots, Dip and Grapes


Friday- Leftovers or Sandwiches


Saturday- Dinner at a friend's house. (Here's to hoping I can bring pumpkin bars!)


Sunday- Ritzy Chicken, Noodles, Homemade Bread, Green Beans and Pineapple





Hope you have a great week!


Please be sure to stop by I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Meal Plan Monday posts!

Friday

Because They Aren't Mini-Adults

Tony, my husband, has a way of putting into words what I can't. Sometimes I just hate that!

For example, the other day I sent him an email describing the fun things the kids and I did earlier in the day. Then, I went on to describe how I thought it would be nice if giving them my attention all morning would then pay off in the afternoon when they play quietly and at peace with one another. They, of course, don't always do that.

Instead in the afternoon, I usually find myself outside with them or at a park. Sometimes we read more books or even do a craft. I'll make dinner either with or without (and I'll be honest, I prefer without) their help.

Then, I'll look around and everything looks just the same as it did earlier in the day. There is no sign of how I (and sometimes them) worked all day in between playing, of course.

The floor is still dirty despite having been swept more than once. Laundry is still piled up despite two or even three loads already washed and put away in its place. You get the picture.

Sometimes it just makes me weary.

Back to what my husband said...

He said something to the effect of, "Lizz, you're expecting them to be mini-adults." He's right.

I'm expecting them to be able to easily understand that mommy will play with them all morning, but she needs a bit of time in the afternoon to get her work done. It just doesn't work that way, at least for now.

I suppose I don't really even know where I'm going with this except to say that I really do want to cherish these sweet days. Sometimes (usually between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m.) that is just really hard to do!

As I was struggling to have the right attitude, I received an email from my husband referring to an earlier post I had written. I read my own words and I just had to smile.

I really, really do think that someday I'll miss the constant chatter and crayon marks on the wall. I'll miss hearing the voices calling "Mama!" However, I'm not so sure I'll miss those things between the hours of 3 and 6 in the afternoon. I'm really not sure...

Thursday

Another Reason I Love Fall

Perhaps that title was a bit misleading. I don't believe I've ever written about why fall is my favorite season. I do make lists in my head quite a bit and have also read about others' reasons for loving autumn so much, maybe that counts? Back to my reason...

I'm sitting here sipping coffee out of my favorite polka dot travel mug. It is still dark and the house is quiet. Let me repeat that. I'm sitting here in the quiet dark drinking coffee. I just love that the sun doesn't rise so early this time of year!

I'm one of those odd people who both really enjoys the company of others and really enjoys solitude. It makes me seem a bit crazy I suppose. I do know that a quiet start to the day where I can read, pray, blog or do anything I desire with no interruptions, makes me smile!

Why, assuming you do, do you like fall?

Now, I'm off to answer to the sweet call of "Mama." I do believe one of my little ones is ready to start the day.

Tuesday

Keeping Expectations Real


Recently, I found myself with a notebook in hand watching my two girls play. (My son was otherwise occupied at Mother's Day Out.)


I've been keeping a notebook in my bag because I'm just old-fashioned like that. It's where I jot anything I need to remember. I'll make to-do lists, write meal plans, keep track of ideas for Christmas gifts, you get the idea.


As the girls played, I found myself making a to-do list. It was already noon so I knew I needed to keep it realistic. Yet, I also knew that the pile of laundry was rather large. Still, I fought the urge to write down "catch up on laundry." Sure, it needed to be done, but it wouldn't get done, at least not in one afternoon. Well, it might if I felt like staying up until the wee hours and sneaking into the kids' rooms after they drifted off to sleep so that I could put their clothes where they belong, but I didn't.


Instead, I wrote, "Wash, dry and fold 2 loads of laundry." That's all I wrote about laundry and it was manageable. I'm learning that keeping my expectations realistic motivates me. Sure, it may not be my ideal to still have three loads of laundry waiting for me in the morning, but that's okay. It's better than not getting the laundry done and also not getting to scratch something off of the day's list.


Also, notice how I didn't include putting away the clothes as part of my expectation. I know from experience that clothes typically get put away in the morning. This way the kids can help. Getting the clothes in baskets folded and on the floor of my bedroom is good enough.


So, I guess you could say that this week I learned that expectations don't have to be the same as my ideals. That is something that doesn't come easy to a perfectionist.


Be sure to stop by Jo-Lynne's at Musings of a Housewife to see what others learned this week.

Monday

Makes My Monday


I was tempted not to get up when she asked. After all, it wasn't the first time my four-year-old had summoned me to the back yard to see something "new." Truthfully, I've told her many times that I'll be there "in just a minute" or "right after I _____." Yet, today I went. In fact, I got up in the middle of an email I was writing.


I followed her to the backyard where she headed to the swing set. I stood on the patio and watched as she climbed a tipped over Little Tike car and grabbed hold of the two rings that hang on one side of the swing set. She smiled as she quickly flipped over and dropped down. (Well, truthfully she hasn't mastered the art of dropping to the ground, so she hung there while her arms and shoulders got sore and then finally released her grip. But hey, you've got to start somewhere, right?)


Pride lit up her face as she looked at me to see my reaction. I smiled and told her how great it was that she was big enough to fip over like that. She then asked me to come give her five. I obliged and even gave her a kiss before returning inside to finish my email and then start dinner.


I was so glad that I got up when I did. It truly made my Monday and it just might have made my oldest daughter's as well.
If you'd like to read more about other fun starts to the week, please head over to Cheryl's at Twinfatuation.
Happy Monday!


Uncle G, This Meal Plan is for You!


Well, after my little description of a recent Saturday and all of the fun we had, my brother (my most loyal reader) commented that he would rather read about my domestic mornings than my kids bathroom mishaps.

So, with that in mind, I'll skip the story I could share about having all three children with me in the bathroom at church while one of my children refused to "take care business" until said child's pants, and shoes were removed. Oops, I guess I accidentally shared too much once more. Hee, hee.

Now, after that appetizing opening, let's move on to our meal plan for the week. I've never participated in this little carnival before, but meals are getting a bit repetitive around here for lack of planning. Spaghetti is good, but it isn't three-times-a-week good for three weeks in a row. Now that summer is more than officially behind us, I do believe it is time to get back to business. (Whatever that means these days.)

Here goes...

Monday: Green Chili and Cream Cheese Chicken Enchiladas, Salad, and of course, Chips and Salsa

Tuesday: Pot Roast, Red Potatoes, Salad, Homemade Bread and Sliced Apples

Wednesday: Spinach and Chicken Quiche and Apple Sauce

Thursday: Leftovers or Sandwiches

Friday: Dinner at a Friend's House (I'm bringing pumpkin bars with cream cheese frosting. Mmmmm.)

Saturday: Homemade Pizza, Carrots and Apple Sauce

Sunday: Tomato Cheese Ravioli Soup with Homemade Bread

Please be sure to head over to Laura's at I'm an Organizing Junkie for more Meal Plan Monday posts.


Have a great week!

Saturday

Just a Saturday...Night

Yesterday morning I was planning a blog post in my head. It was going to be about lazy weekday mornings and how I love days that don't require us to run out the door. Lazy, I suppose, is relative because I never did find the time to sit down and write.

Eventually we found ourselves at a play place ordering some "food" while I had a meeting about MOPS. The rest of the day sort of got away from me.

Then, this morning, I just knew I was going to post something about Saturday mornings. On Saturday mornings, Tony usually takes all three children for a few hours leaving me to do whatever I see fit. Today that meant cleaning and cooking, but some days it means shopping or relaxing at a coffee shop. My husband is so sweet that he truly doesn't care what I do, he just knows it helps me if I get a bit of quiet time.

So, I was going to write about my productive morning that included baking cookies, making two casseroles, putting together a pot of chili and cooking and freezing some chicken. (I'm never that productive in one morning.) Yet, somehow that seemed very uninteresting and a bit like I was boasting about how much I was accomplishing while my amazing husband played with the kids. (Hmmm, I suppose I just did that anyways. Oh well.) Also, I couldn't help but think of my twenty something brother who reads my blog. I could just picture him being glued to every word about my domestic Saturday morning. Or not.

Finally, it was time to go take a meal to a friend who just had the cutest baby boy. Before I could get out the door, Tony was home with the kids. Yet, only one got out of the van and that one had some serious bathroom issues.

Now, all three are using the bathroom frequently and it isn't pleasant. Good thing I've got Clorox wipes and some lovely room freshener from Bath and Body Works.

Most recently, I thought I was going to finally write that post I intended to write yesterday. Tony's dad and step mom are here and they went on a walk with Tony and the big kids. All that was standing between me and a bit of quiet time was getting my youngest bathed and in bed.

Well, her little body barely touched the bath water before she, um, had bathroom issues. So, I whipped her out of the tub and put a diaper on her. She ran around pulling all of the baby wipes out of the package while I cleaned the tub. Round two went much more smoothly and now she is clean and in bed. She is, of course, not asleep. I set up the pack and play in her brother's room and she isn't too sure about that.

All that to say, I'm enjoying some semi-quiet time and writing something entirely different than I would have written yesterday morning. Of course, that isn't surprising. There never is a dull moment around here.

Happy Saturday Night!

Wednesday

Busy, Busy, Busy

But who isn't busy?

As I go through my days, I'm constantly "writing/blogging" in my head. I suppose one of these days I'll carve out some time and those thoughts will make their way to my blog.

In the meantime, I've posted a little cooking with kids tip over at the KCParent.com Mom Blogs. If you're interested...

Back in Time?

A few weeks ago, my sweet four year old, Ann, asked me something about what age I'd like to be once more. I thought about it and decided I wouldn't really like to be any other age as I like where I'm at right now.

Later that night, I started thinking some more I realized there is a time in life I wouldn't mind reliving if just for a bit. I wish I could take back the first four months of Ann's life.

Ann pretty much destroyed my hopes of what life with a newborn would be like. She wasn't the type of baby who slept away the first two weeks and then got just a bit fussy. No, she fussed from day four which was conveniently the day we got to bring her home from the hospital. In fact, she fussed the whole way home from the hospital.

As new parents, we spent most of those first months just figuring out exactly what it meant to be parents. (We're still doing that.) I can remember laying Ann on the floor and lying beside her as I played a lullaby CD very loudly in the hopes that it would somehow drown out her incessant screaming.

Another time, I recall putting Ann safely into her crib and heading out to the front stoop where I called my friend long distance and told her that "I didn't really like this mommy thing." She understood and told me that it was just fine to sit outside for ten minutes and get a breather from all the crying. She was right and I felt much better upon returning inside the house.

I could tell you stories of how I paced from the front door to the back door and counted how many times I would do this in the hope that Ann would fall asleep or at least stop crying.

I invented errand after errand because I knew she would fall asleep in the car and I could enjoy just a bit of peace and quiet. (Good thing gas was a bit cheaper four years ago.)

As I recall those days, I think of all the time and energy I spent fretting about something not being right with our parenting or worse, something not being right with our sweet baby.

Nearly five years later, Ann is incredibly smart and unbelievably strong. (I know all parents think that about their offspring, but with her it is absolutely true!) Sure, she has her moments and can be less than loving to her brother and sister, but I wouldn't trade her for the world. In other words, Ann is just fine and so are we.

As I thought about that time in our lives and how I wish I had savored it a bit more, I don't have regret so much as a realization that I could have enjoyed that time so much more if only I'd known. Isn't hindsight a tricky thing?
I'm at a similar point right now. In all my five years of parenting, I'm in the midst of one of the hardest times yet, but not because of anything terribly tragic. (Does that even make sense?) Rather, it is the daily challenges that make me weary. We almost always have some sort of meltdown before 8 in the morning. One of our children doesn't sleep well so we haven't actually slept through the night in more than three years. Our house is in a constant state of disarray and sometimes destruction despite our best efforts. Our children sometimes show no signs of the effort we take to train them and instill godly character traits in them. I worry when I see them be the bullies on the playground or in the play place. The list could go on and on and on...

Still, there is a place deep inside of me that knows that one day I would probably gladly take back the sleepless nights, tempter tantrums, potty training, diaper explosions and the rest of it, if only to rock my babies just one more time.

I know I'll miss seeing this little guy as a three year old who plays with blocks and dinosaurs and likes dressing up with a cape or a cowboy hat.



I'll miss Ann's four year old self and her cheesy camera smile.



I'll even miss this sweet one's antics when she awakes only an hour after we put her to bed for the night. (I took these pictures when she awoke shortly after her siblings went to bed. I brought her downstairs for a bit of milk and she turned on the charm. We wanted her to sleep, but the sweet memory of a few moments of alone time with her were worth it.)


Just seeing those sweet faces makes me feel so blessed.

So, I'll continue to count my blessings (even the ones that wake me in the middle of the night) and I'll try to look beyond the everyday challenges and see how I can be a blessing to those I love both inside and outside of my home. It might not be easy, but then again, nothing worth doing usually is...

Saturday

She Knows Where to Bow Down

We recently drove by a sculpture that I thought the children would like. I pointed to it and amazingly, both Jane and Chris looked out the right window and observed the sculpture.

Within a few seconds Chris commented that it looked like clouds. I understood how he could think that and agreed.

Ann was quiet. I didn't think she had cared much about it. A minute or two later I heard her say that it is "bad to bow to statues." I quickly realized that she was referring to the story of Daniels' three friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from Daniel 3 in the Bible.

I told her she was absolutely right while Chris asked her what "bow" means.

As she began to answer, I prepared myself to hear her say "to bend down" or something similar. Her answer pleasantly surprised me.

Ann told Chris that bowing down to a statue means that you say "I like this (statue) better than I like you, God." She once more told us that we shouldn't bow to statues.

Moments like that remind me of why it is we, as parents, do what we do. It is humbling. It is an honor. It is something I don't want to take for granted.

Thursday

Toothpaste in My Hair

Last night my son took it upon himself to bathe in the sink with the hand soap while he washed the mirror with his sister's toothbrush. Tonight as he played with his new toothbrush, he managed to get toothpaste in my hair.

Unfortunately, I immediately became angry. I said something like "Kids! Hmmph!" I'm just that mature.

I then told my two older children that I would read them one story and Bible, but that was it because I was D.O.N.E.

I started reading them stories and they cuddled beside me. I thought to myself, "Kids, sweet precious kids. I'm so thankful for them." Fickle, aren't I? Needless to say, I read them more than one book. We read five to be exact.

You think by now I would have learned to expect the unexpected and not respond in such an immature way, but noooooo. Instead, I expect the perfect and get frustrated when, well when I get toothpaste in my hair, or dog doo on my foot or my son somehow manages to douse his hair in juice just before we need to leave for an important evening meeting. (Yes, that all happened in just a few short hours tonight while Tony had to work late.)

I know that someday I'll look back and miss these days. Really, I do know that, but sometimes...

I'm feeling grateful that tomorrow is a new day. Happy almost Friday!

Wednesday

That Crazy Kid!

It all started with the new bath tub toys I bought yesterday. We're reading a book this week about a boat. I happened across a package of boat bath toys. They are just like a rubber duck, but they are boats. I didn't expect the kids to be too excited about them, but you would think they were gold or sugar (to speak in a language my kids would understand). My son even slept with one of them last night.

Today, I thought the excitement had worn off a bit until my son was begging for a bath. We hadn't done much today, so I decided baths weren't really necessary. He wasn't too happy about my decision, but thought my suggestion of playing with the boats in the sink was a decent alternative.

I should have known when he immediately agreed to play in the sink that his idea of playing and my idea of playing were entirely different.

You see, I pictured him playing like my daughter did last night. While I bathed my youngest, my older daughter filled the sink with a few inches of water and played with her rubber boats. That is what I expected my son to do.

This is what he did.


He dumped all of the hand soap into the sink and climbed in for a little improvised bath. At one point he actually managed to get his entire body in the sink. I know I should have been upset, but it was just too stinking funny. Be sure to notice that he is cleaning the mirror with his sister's toothbrush!



Oh how I'd love to know how that little mind works. Actually, maybe I wouldn't. It might scare me. Still, I love that crazy little man!

Mom Fashion

I have a bit of a confession..Somewhere between reading Goodnight Moon (for the 5,293rd time) and The Little House Series, I try to find a bit of time for fashion magazines...Read more at my KCParent Blog.

Monday

Silly Me, Sweet Ann

I played soccer all through high school. Indoor, club, school--you name it, I played it. My daughter is also showing athletic tendencies, however she does not like to be "sporty" whatever she thinks that means. She has, however, been asking to take dance. That is why we found ourselves getting ready for her first dance class one morning last week.

Ann had asked me each day for a week prior to her first class when she was going to get to go dance. Every morning I would tell her just how many days she had left to wait for that special day. She was so excited she could hardly stand it, but not me, I was nervous.

My nervousness has nothing to do with Jane. I knew she'd be fine. She is wonderful in new social situations. I was worried about me. Somehow I had convinced my 31-year-old self that I was going to be somewhat of the oddball at the dance school. I pictured the other mothers dropping their children off at school with perfect poise and grace. The soccer field I could handle, but a dance studio!?

Sure enough, my ever klutzy self managed to nearly trip before we made it out of the parking lot and into the building. Somehow the straps of the backpack Jane was holding as she sat in the umbrella stroller managed to get tangled in the stroller wheels. I tripped, but didn't fall and Jane was just fine. After a brief moment of taking Jane out of the stroller and untangling the straps, we were good to go.



We walked in the building and found Ann's class. She walked in without so much as a look back. I glanced around and noticed that most of the other moms were indeed just like me. Some of them even had a crazy toddler with them. (Though I didn't notice anyone else with two younger children in tow.) I even ran into a mom I recognized from story time last fall.



Sure, some of the moms might have been former dancers who knew the different dance positions. Yet, I have a hunch that some of them might have also been stepping out of their comfort zones for the sake of their children. After all, it's what we do starting from the moment we know we're having a little one.



Here is my big girl who is getting so tall. She isn't quite 5 and yet she is taller or as tall as most 5-year-olds and some 6-year-olds.

I love you, Ann!

Wednesday

That Whole "Glass Half Full" Thing

Last night, I tucked the kids into bed and sat down to work on my little blogging job. It was taking a bit more concentration than usual because it had just been one of those days. Nothing major had happened, but a lot of minor inconveniences and some crazy kids was enough. I was trying to get myself in a better, more positive frame of mind in order to write something a bit more uplifting than "I'm tired of the craziness, blah, blah, blah."

Before I even had a chance to get the computer fully started, my son was at my side. I looked him over and didn't see any blood and he looked perfectly fine. I decided there was absolutely NO reason he should be out of bed.

Apparently my observational skills were a bit weak because the poor kid was not wearing his pants or his night time diaper. Hmmm.

He laid down on the floor while I helped him get the diaper fastened. Meanwhile, I told him that I would not be coming back upstairs to tuck him in yet once more. In the middle of this little lecture, I shrieked.

My son had poo on his leg! He had clearly had taken care of the potty business, but no so much the wiping thing.

The funny thing is, rather than make me frustrated and think there was no way I could be in a positive mindset now, it just made me laugh a bit.

In this parenting thing, it is always something. Yet, that something is so often a wonderful thing, that I might as well shrug off as much of the unpleasantness as possible.

As I write this, all three of my children are playing "clubhouse." They are sharing and using their wonderful imaginations. It is a joy to watch. Moments like this just might make up for the chaos and amounts of bodily fluid or sticky hand residue I seem to always be cleaning off of something!

Friday

A Father and Daughter Weekend


The other day, Tony commented to me that, "it may sound cheesy, but ever since Ann and I went on that trip our relationship has been better."


I didn't think it sounded cheesy at all. After all, he was speaking the truth.


In mid-July, Tony took Ann on a road trip to go to a wedding in Kentucky. They stopped for a couple of hours in St. Louis both on the way out and the way back.


I somehow managed to part with the camera so that they could capture their weekend. I'm so glad I did. Look what I would have missed out on if I had kept it with Chris, Jane, and me.




Apparently the theme of the weekend was to stick out your tongue! There are about a dozen more photos of this same pose in a variety of locations. Nice, huh?



In all seriousness, look at this great shot.




Then, there is this one that I think is so cute. Right now, Ann seems so big because she is our oldest. Yet, I know it won't be long until I look back at pictures like these and wonder how she was ever so small.





I often take for granted what a wonderful father Tony is to our three children. Seeing pictures like these remind me that my children are incredibly blessed to have such a loving daddy. I hope they soon realize that when it comes to daddies, they got the best!

Wednesday

Elite Eight

Monday marked eight years of marriage for Tony and me. I couldn't resist the title of "Elite Eight" because I'm not sure Tony has ever been prouder of me than he was when I finally stopped calling the final eight teams in the NCAA tournament the "Great Eight" and began using the proper term.

Oh, I kid. He may have been more proud when I could accurately say on which MLB teams Derek Jeter and Derek Lee play.

We celebrated our eighth anniversary tonight by going out to eat at Ted's Montana Grill. Our celebration had to be delayed a couple of days because Tony had to go out of town for business on Monday night.

I was telling a friend this on Monday morning and she said she was sorry. I was almost a bit confused, but then assured her it was a really no big deal. After all, did she know how we celebrated our first anniversary?

We didn't celebrate our first anniversary by eating the top of our wedding cake. I suppose we would have had to save it to do that! In fact, we weren't even together on our first anniversary.

I was busily preparing for my first day of teaching school and Tony went to a college football game with his dad. Now, in all fairness, Tony did ask me if this was okay and I assured him that it was just fine. That is, I said it would be okay if I could rub his nose in the fact that he chose football over his beautiful bride on our first anniversary. And, you can believe I did just that. I almost cringe as I write that because I think of how petty it is to do that!

You see, if you measured our marriage by the way we celebrate our anniversaries, you'd have reason to think our marriage stinks. Sure, we've celebrated a time or two on the day of our anniversary, but mostly life just goes on, but it goes on well and I'd marry him again in a heartbeat.

Special days are fun to create traditions, break up the routine of life, and are a great excuse to eat some dessert, but they are just days. One day of wonderful celebration doesn't make up for the other 364 days in a year.

I'll take the mostly wonderful year I get any day over celebrating on our specific anniversary or birthday or whatever the case may be.

You see, I know if push came to shove, Tony would choose me over the Chicago Cubs any day!

Happy Belated Anniversary, Tony! I love you!

The Messy Ministry

The Messy Ministry is what my friend calls it when you refuse to clean your house up like crazy right before someone stops by for a visit or a playdate.

You probably know what I'm talking about. At my house, it means that I plop the kids in front of a video and quickly run around tidying up the house making it look like, well, like we don't live in our house, but rather have it photographed for magazines. Well, maybe it doesn't look quite that good, but you get the point.

However, I realized this frantic type of cleaning was accomplishing the following:
  • Driving my husband crazy
  • Stealing time away from my kids
  • Sending my kids the message that a clean house is more important than many, many things
  • Possibly making my friends feel inadequate as they looked around my house and thought to themselves that they never keep their houses that tidy

As I thought about that, I realized that none of those things are what I want to do. I want my kids to know that the things we have are blessings from God and we should take care of them. I also want them to know that a certain level of cleanliness is necessary to be hospitable. However, people are so much more important than an always tidy house. Show me a house that is always spotless in every nook and cranny and either the parents are forever sending the kids outside or are missing out on enjoying their children because they are always "picking up."

Now, I do believe in being a good steward of what we've been given and I also believe children can and should be a part of taking care of the house. It's a fine line to walk, but so is most of parenting.

The Messy Ministry works for me. If my friends want to see a spotless house, they are welcome to browse through the collection of magazines in the basket by the couch!

Be sure to stop by Kristin's for more Works for Me Wednesday Tips!

Monday

Double the Grandparent Love

I don't suppose children ever want their parents to divorce, yet that is what happened to both Tony and me when we were younger.

At that time, I didn't think much good could come of something like divorce. To this day, I still sometimes think about how things could have been different.

Yet, God is able to make good things come of less than desirable situations.

My children now have eight grandparents who shamelessly love on them.

This summer, all eight grandparents have come to visit us and by us, I mean the kids because Tony and I aren't nearly as cute or entertaining. (Well, Tony is pretty cute, but that's besides the point.)

Anyways, I love that it is next to impossible to tell which grandparents are related by blood and which are related through marriage. They all just love our kiddos so much and are so good to them.

Perhaps our family lives didn't end up the way we'd hoped, but I'd say the grandparent situation is very, very good. For that, I'm grateful.

Here is one of many pictures demonstrating that awesome grandparent situation.


My Dad with Chris

(Try to ignore the quality of the photo. It's what happens when you've got a dirty lens and a lazy photo editor!)


Friday

It Isn't Easy Taking Pictures of Three

If you have more than one child, you know how difficult it is to get a decent photo of all of them looking even remotely at the camera. Unless you've got some serious Photoshop skills, you're probably like me and the only time you get a good shot of your kiddos is when one is half-dressed, has a binky in her mouth, or is obviously in need of a bath.


The only point of the above paragraph is to relieve a bit of my guilt that my favorite picture of the summer contains only one of my children. She just happened to have the right amount of ice cream on her face and she smiled and shrugged her shoulder at precisely the right moment. Plus, that dimple on her upper left cheek is one of the cutest things I've ever seen.


So, let it be known that I deeply love all three of my children.* Jane just happened to be captured in this summer's favorite picture. Though, technically, I do suppose there are still a handful of weeks left in summer.


*That sentence was written for the benefit of my children for when they learn to read. (Only half joking.)


Okay, without further explanations...Summer at Its Best!


Wednesday

Saving Bath Toys Through "Surgery"


Bathrooms are, by nature, not the sweetest smelling places. Well, except for when I get to take a leisurely bubble bath and then they smell of yummy vanilla bubble bath and a scented candle. Except of course, I can never find a candle and I can't remember the last time I took a bath. Whatever, stick with me.

Besides the usual stinky challenges of a bathroom, there is also the odd collection of bath toys. Usually we have them hanging in a little mesh thing which is designed to look like a duck and sticks to the wall tiles. Sometimes the toys are left scattered on the floor of the bathtub. I suspect it is that location that causes the problem.

Every now and then I'll discover a toy or two looks like some mold might be growing inside of the rubber duck or mermaid or some other cute little bath toy. That is a bit concerning, but I usually pretend I don't see it. However, the stench that later accompanies this pleasantness is harder to ignore.

So, not long ago, when my mother-in-law walked in the bathroom while I was bathing the kids and said "I performed surgery on the ducks," I paid attention.

She had taken scissors or a knife to the bottom of the ducks. She cut out a smooth circle leaving the mold no place to grow. An added benefit was that the kids could no longer suck water into the little toys and then squirt them at each other, or me. (Is that just my kids?) Plus, if you're overly ambitious, you could actually clean the inside of the ducks since slicing open the belly leaves the entire inside of the duck exposed. (Yikes, that sounded a bit grotesque!)

Also, doing this just gives you a little warm fuzzy feeling of knowing you are being green and not wasteful. I can't tell you how many bath toys I've trashed because they stink. Finally, I had stopped keeping bath toys that were hollow inside. No more!

Performing "surgery" on bath toys definitely works for me!

Be sure to head on over to Kristin's at We Are That Family for more Works for Me Wednesday tips!

Tuesday

A Great Way to Start the Day

Yesterday brought a gray sky and the storms that usually come with them. Last night, after the storms had cleared, the temperature was noticeably cooler and the humidity all but gone.

So, this morning as I looked outside at the beautiful day, I decided we'd go for walk. This is something I really like to do, but do mostly in the fall, my favorite season.

Our walk started out not quite the way I had pictured in my head. There was much whining on the part of two of my children and much taking of deep breaths by me. I knew that they would eventually like the walk so we pressed on. We were rewarded as soon as we turned the corner. There, less than ten feet in front of us was a brown rabbit. I told the children to stop, halted the stroller, and we watched and watched and watched.

My children stared at that rabbit with more attention than I thought was possible. I think they would have stayed there for quite a while if not for the car that drove by and scared the rabbit into his (her?) home under a large pine tree.

I'd like to say that seeing the rabbit excited the children enough to stop the complaints about going for a walk, but sadly it didn't.

There were a few more deep breaths on my part as well as a bit of moderating the older kids' turns riding behind the one-year-old in the double stroller.

Then, about halfway through our walk, we literally stopped to smell the roses. Not much later the children stumbled upon a treasure...acorns! They gathered the tiny acorns in their little hands. There was talk of making them grow, pretending they were pets and feeding them rocks, and of the naughty squirrels they were afraid might come and steal away their treasure.

As we neared the end of our walk, Ann spotted a butterfly. I recounted all the things we'd seen on our walk and told her I thought it had been fun and almost like a trip to the zoo. She agreed, but then said it was "even better!"

I chuckled to myself as I recalled that this was the child who was most against taking a walk. She ran the rest of the way home and her brother joined her. Yet, that was not before we observed a bulldozer near the busy street. That was truly the icing on the cake, or rather the walk.

There are better ways to begin the day than over a cup of coffee. The joy of sharing nature with my children was well worth skipping my morning cup of coffee and enduring a bit of grumbling from children who thought they wanted to start the day with Scooby-Doo. I'd like to think they were shown a bit of how much more special God's creation is than anything man can create, or you know, animate.

Have you learned or been reminded of anything this week? Please stop by Musings of a Housewife to see what others have discovered as they report in the What I Learned This Week Carnival.

Wednesday

The Baby Burrito


I often think about family traditions. Sometimes I read about them and sometimes I simply discuss them with friends and family.


As my children grow, I think about the types of traditions I want to have in our family. Of course, like most people, I think about traditions most often around the holidays. It struck me as a bit odd that I realized I was thinking about traditions as I pulled my youngest out of the bath tonight.


After I got her out of the tub, I wrapped her in a towel. I then proceeded to ask Tony if he'd like a bite of the baby burrito. He made a chomping sound and pretended to bite Jane. She giggled. Our four-year-old asked for a "bite" and did the same thing. So did our three-year-old. By the time I was finished making the rounds, Jane was belly laughing. It was then I realized that we do have traditions outside of the holidays.


We began making baby burritos when our oldest child was a toddler. We've done it ever since. I suppose we'll continue until Jane is too big to swaddle in a bath towel or she asks us to stop.


As far as I'm concerned, this is as good as a family tradition gets. We all enjoy it and it makes us smile and laugh together. I'm sure one day that Tony and I will enjoy reminding them of this silly little tradition.


Our traditions may not always be traditional. After all, how many parents do you know who have children that request that Jingle Bells be sung every. single. night? Yet, that's more than okay with me. If it makes us closer as a family, then I'm all about being non-traditional.


Be sure and stop by Musings of a Housewife to see what others learned this week!

Sunday

The Little Kids

In our family, we refer to Chris (3) and Jane (17 months) as the "little kids." The "big kids" are Ann (4) and Chris (still 3). Lucky Chris gets to be a part of both groups. Needless to say, he prefers it when any reference to him is prefaced by "big" and not "little" or even worse "baby."


This weekend, I've had the little kids all to myself. Tony and Ann took off on Friday morning for a wedding in Kentucky. (More on that later, but I should take a moment to say that my kids have the best daddy. He chose to take a 500-mile-one-way road trip with Ann. He looked forward to it just as much as she did maybe more.)


I'll admit, I was dreading this weekend just a bit. I knew I wouldn't get my somewhat regular Saturday-morning break. Also, since it is the weekend, I knew most of my friends would be having family time and any play dates would be unlikely.


It turns out my dread was unfounded as we've had a wonderful weekend. In fact, I'm coming away from this weekend loving and liking my little kids more than ever.


We filled Friday with a trip to the children's museum, lunch out with friends and a trip to the zoo to meet Spider-man and see the lions. We also ran an errand.


On Saturday, we went to the gym, a birthday party, Chick-fil-A and even ran by Walgreens to snag a few deals to satisfy my little coupon addiction.

Today, we started the day both early and slowly. I attempted to snuggle with both kids in my bed. However, after only a few minutes I was having to cover my face as Jane began diving all over the bed while laughing. She doesn't have much regard for safety or personal space, you know?

Now, I sit at the computer while Chris finishes up a much-needed nap. Jane is happily destroying anything she can get in her hands. I'm having a bit of coffee because though it was a good weekend, it was also a bit tiring. I'm not sure how those with husbands who regularly travel get enough sleep at night. I have the hardest time sleeping without Tony at home. I'm so glad his business travel isn't frequent.

As I finish my not-so-good coffee, I want to be sure I document a couple of more things.


That little man of mine showed a different side this weekend. He actually slowed down to show that he is actually quite full of compassion.

The first thing he did was while we were at the zoo waiting for the tram to pick us up. I accidentally dropped a sippy cup on their great aunt's toe. Chris saw what happened and immediately stopped what he was doing and gave Aunt J a hug.


The sweetest part of it was that I could tell it was his first response. He wasn't trying to get anything and he wasn't particularly tired. (Both reasons he usually gets cuddly.) It may sound silly, but I think that may have been the most proud I've been of him yet.


The other thing my little man did that melted my heart was in the care he showed toward his little sister. After lunch today, Jane was screaming in her high chair. She wanted out! Chris walked over to help her. As he assisted her, he talked to her in the sweetest voice. He assured her that he was helping her and it wouldn't be that much longer. In that short minute or two, I could almost picture him grown-up. I liked what I saw!

Getting to know my kids as individuals is one of my favorite parts of being a parent. Weekends like these make getting to know them just a bit easier. I'm so happy to have a big, a big/little and a little kids to get to know!

Monday

Just When I Thought I Couldn't Make it Until Bedtime

We were only minutes away from bedtime and still, I thought I wasn't going to make it without seriously losing it.

I looked at my oldest and asked her to come sit on my lap. I held her for a minute and told her I was sorry I was a bit short today. She told me that was okay and apologized for having a rough day as well.

Then, she sweetly said, "Mommy, I need to tell you something."

"What's that?" I asked.

"I love you," she sincerely said.

"I love you too," I replied. Moments like that feel like a gift.

It proved to be just what I needed. As we walked up the stairs together, we found that a certain little man had dumped a nearly full bottle of baby wash into the bath tub. I just sighed and carried him to his room.

My long day ended with snuggles with my favorite children in the world.

It's a tough job, but somebody has got to do it. I'm grateful that somebody is me.

Thursday

The Kind of Friends I Have

It shouldn't surprise me. I really shouldn't be caught off guard by the kindness of my friends, but sometimes...

Sweet Avery went to be with Jesus on Tuesday night. Tony and I knew we would be there with our friends to celebrate her too-short life. We just weren't sure how we were going to manage that. A seven-hour trip is a bit much for three children four and under especially if the destination is a service where they would need to be on their best behavior.

We don't have grandparents in town so there weren't many family members to call on to help watch the children. However, I knew I could call upon my friends and I knew they would say yes, but they did more than that.

I called two dear friends and each of them, practically before I could finish asking the question said yes. Yes, they would watch one of my children for a couple of days while we went to be with our friends who are grieving. There was no sign of hesitation in their voices.

I'm not sure if my friends had plans for the weekend that they'll have to cancel. They might, but I know they would never tell me. They wouldn't want to me feel badly about imposing on them.

As I hung up the phone with each of them, I was almost in tears (as I am now just thinking about it).

Now, as if that wasn't enough, two other amazing friends have offered to let us stay with them in their homes while we're traveling. Friends like mine are such an amazing blessing and a testimony of God's love. I hope they know that I don't ever take them for granted.

Tuesday

Absolutely No Words (Please Pray)

Once again there are no words.

This afternoon, my friends Shane and Carissa had to make the hardest decision any parent of a sick child could make.

Please pray for this sweet family and though you probably don't know them, please stop by their blog and let them know you are praying. You can comment anonymously, and I know the encouragement will mean so much.

Thank you.

We will remember you Avery.

Sunday

What I've Been Doing on My Blogging Vacation

So, it has been over three weeks since my last real post and I'm pretty sure that post didn't even make much sense.

I forgot to mention that Tony gave Chris the same color popsicle that he had previously dunked in the potty. That would, of course, explain my panicked reaction when I saw him eating the popsicle. I'm sure no one was losing sleep over that confusion, but I feel better about clearing that up so...


Well, what have I been doing on my unplanned blogging vacation? Before I get into that, I have to just ask why is it that other vacations don't seem to happen without being planned? I mean, I've yet to accidentally end up at the beach for three weeks. Oh well.


My days have been full of the wonderful things that make up summer. Last summer, I wasn't exactly thrilled about the season. You can read my little "letter" to summer here if you so desire. This year, I'm thinking summer is pretty good. By next year, I fully expect to love it. And yes, I do believe that is a direct relation to the possibility that I just might be able to take my three kiddos to the pool by myself next year.


So it's been the pool (with Daddy), parks, blueberry picking, two different large amusement parks, a lake, trips to the children's museum, the library, outdoor concerts, story time, play dates, Vacation Bible School, and lots and lots of popsicles. That doesn't even include out of town guests and the Dallas getaway that Tony and I enjoyed.


I actually wish that I had done a better job of blogging about all those adventures. I took pictures of most of them. I did, however, manage to forget my camera on our trip to the lake and therefore miss taking a picture of Ann fishing for the first time. She didn't catch anything so I still have a chance at snapping a shot of her first catch one day.


Perhaps the real reason that I've been a little absent around the old blog is this:


My favorite one year old learned to walk on June 3. She had been climbing anything and everything long before that. It is the combination of the two that has made keeping her safe more than a full-time job. Little Jane pushes chairs, stools, benches, you name it, up to the counter or the table all. the. time. She obviously can't be left alone for more that 0.25 seconds. Also, would you believe that she has no desire to sit patiently while mama finishes a blog post? Go figure.
Now, I would be lying if I blamed all of my blogging absence on sweet Jane. Much of it belongs to the most addicting game of all time--Bejeweled Blitz. (I'm a big embarrassed admitting that but I'll get over it.)
Finally, there was a certain little vampire series that also occupied a bit of my time. I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish the kids would fix their own lunch, change the diapers, and wipe their own bums while I tried to finish that series.
So, my blogging friends, (are you even still there?) what have you been up to this summer?