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!


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!


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!)


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!


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!


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.