Jane (2): Shrugs.
Chris: "Is it about the toys?"
Jane: Face lights up! "And Santa!"
Chris: "No! It's about Jesus! Jesus!"
This is the conversation I overheard on a recent morning. I'm so glad my little man is beginning to understand that Christmas is about much more than Santa and toys. However, I do think he might need to work on his message delivery a bit. On the other hand, I think Jane got the point!
So, I should be painting a bathroom that should have been a weekend project, but in typical Lizz fashion has almost stretched into six weeks. (I know!) Instead, I'm letting the kids watch a Christmas show while I finally get showered and get ready to spend the afternoon with a friend at a bookstore. We have to most amazing childrens bookstore nearby and I was shocked to find that my friend (Hi A!) had never been. Time to fix that!
A friend and books, does it get any better?
Rather, you will be woken up in the wee hours of the night by the 2 year old who isn't happy that the cat is playing in her room while she tries to sleep. No sooner will you get back to sleep, then the old dog will wake you up so he can go relieve himself.
Early in the morning, you will again hear your 2-year-old because it's raining and she's "scared of the rain." So, she'll move to your bed for the remaining 45 minutes until wake up time. Not 15 minutes later, your children will go downstairs and you'll be happy to have a few minutes to wake up slowly before heading down to make breakfast.
As you savor the semi-quiet moments in a warm bed, you'll hear your 6 year old scamper upstairs to inform you that the dog has made a stinky (read poop) mess on the family room carpet. So, you'll spend the first half hour of your morning cleaning carpet.
The children will whine as you get ready to take them to different fun activities. After one event, you'll give them lunch and then take them upstairs for separate quiet times in their rooms. Then, you'll sit down to try and put a positive spin on the day's events, because, you know, you've promised to faithfully record you're blessed life.
As you open the laptop, you'll hear little feet running around upstairs, most certainly not having quiet times and most definitely play together. You'll sigh a tired sigh, rewarm the morning's coffee, and smile.
You're not sure how it works, but somehow, despite the crazy start to the day and the promise of cranky kids in the afternoon, you know that your life is still very, very blessed. Stinky, but blessed.
Okay, that really has nothing to do with anything, but it keeps going through my head. (Yes, I'm a dork and I'm okay with that!)
I miss blogging! Three years ago, I started out blogging frequently even through the birth of my third child in a little over three years. Almost daily posts helped me to see the sweetness in my crazy life filled with diapers and sleepless nights. Slowly, the novelty of both this blogging thing and my new life wore off.
At night or in the early morning, I found myself worn out, unable to view my life through rose-colored glasses. This made me so sad because my life was and is truly blessed. That lead to guilt which didn't lead to motivation to blog!
Late last spring, we dealt with behavior issues with one of our kiddos that consumed our life. In August, that kiddo started a school program where our precious little one is thriving beyond my expectations! Yet, adjusting to school schedules and Tony traveling quite a bit made for a crazy late summer and early fall.
Then, right around Halloween, I noticed my cold seemed to be lingering. Once I was hit with a stomach bug, I knew it was time to take myself to the doctor. I had pneumonia and a stomach bug! It was a wake up call to me to not take things for granted. I spent four days doing nothing but watching television and reading while my wonderful husband kept things afloat. Funny how four days of not being able to do the daily grind will make you want to do it!
The thing that really made me miss blogging was wading through more that 1200 pictures of my family. I'm in the process of putting together digital photo albums for Christmas gifts for our extended family. (Procrastinate much?) As I edit these pictures, I smile and laught and get a bit sad that time is moving so quickly. I want to capture life as best as I can and for me, that involves writing here.
I'm not sure who still comes around to check what is going on in our lives, but I'm glad you do. It's been a crazy year, for sure, but looking back, aside from the severe lack of sleep, I don't think I'd change a thing. My hands are still full, though not with the same things as three years ago, but my heart is more than full, it's bursting!
This will be one of the places I share some of that joy.
Feel free to ignore the light fixture that has needed to be fixed for quite a while!
Here are the details of my $10 Kitchen Makeover:
Two baskets from Goodwill-$3.00
Black Spray Paint - Already had.
Slim white vase from Goodwill-$0.49
Number 3 Sticker for Cooking Utensil Crock (not pictured)-$2.00
Well, look at that...the makeover cost me less than ten dollars. I was originally factoring in the cost of a can of spray paint, but since I already had it on hand...
I'm pretty excited about my "new" kitchen. I love seeing my white dishes! It may be silly, but it makes me smile!
**Ugh, I give up on trying to get the spacing right! Sorry!
Her teacher had so many great things to say about her progress. We were so very proud of her! In fact, the only thing she really needs to work on is not being such a perfectionist. (Noooo idea where she gets that. Ahem.)
Ann also recently wrapped up an excellent first soccer season. She had so much fun. Well, except for the getting kicked part. I can't say I blame her. A pack of four and five-year-old girls running around a field can be a bit scary. Some of them are rather high kickers. I wouldn't want to be kicked in the stomach, so I couldn't blame Ann for being a bit shy of the pack. I'm guessing in a year or two, that will wear off and she'll be right there in the midst of the action. She still loved soccer and we enjoyed watching the games.
In addition to soccer, Ann has been taking dance lessons. I love to see her twirl and leap around the house. I makes me smile. Her dance moves have also taken on a bit of an edge that makes me chuckle. I have to be careful not to laugh at her though, because I don't want to discourage her from her fun. Of course, sometimes, I join in with her. Fortunately she's still too young to realize that I'm a bit uncoordinated.
Now that I'm writing this all out, I realize Ann is a busy little girl. She's been doing Daisy Scouts and loving every minute. Most recently, they had a police officer come and explain safety tips to the girls. Ann soaked it all up. I'm just waiting for her to remind me to look both ways and not to talk to strangers!
This year is the first year we've participated in church on Wednesday nights. I'm teaching the first graders while Ann gets to attend the Kindergarten class. Sometimes the younger two go to the preschool class. They all love it. I'm so grateful for a church that we all like so much. We are blessed!
Tonight, while looking for some photos for Tony, I came across some old pictures of Ann. For a moment, my heart hurt a bit knowing that I'll never see her sweet baby face or her three-year-old self smiling at me. However, as I came upstairs and watched her with her brother and sister, I realized that I wouldn't' have her any other way. I'm so proud of the person she is becoming and I thank God for the honor of being her mama.
Ann, your daddy and I are so very proud of you. Keep up the good work and never forget who loves you most! Know He'll always be there for you while your daddy and I will do our best. We love you!
Such a positive way to start a post, right?
Well, the past few months have been much better and though we still have rough days, they are certainly much smoother than they were last year. I'd like to give our awesome parenting credit, but I'm pretty sure it's only God and the fact that He's allowed our kiddos to get older and mature! (Well, maybe a little bit is due to our parenting, ha, ha.)
Anyways, these past couple of nights, I've found myself thinking more than once that I feel incredibly blessed with this life of mine. How could I not when my night ended like this...
Little Jane was taking sweet forever to get to bed. I'd been patient, but as it was quickly approaching nine o'clock, I was also getting frustrated.
As I took her potty again, she said, "Mommy loves me, Daddy loves me..." She continued by naming her brother and sister. I asked her who loved her most of all and she replied, "Jesus and God loves me." Then, completely unsolicited, she said, "God makes me so happy!"
I'm pretty sure there aren't many better ways to end a long day then hearing your sweet toddler exclaim those words.
Me too, Baby Girl, me too.
However, by God's grace I was finally able to take a deep breath and slow down and enjoy them rather than endure them.
I was able to suppress a smile when my little man told me, "I love you two plus." He then went on to say that, "Daddy said two plus isn't a real number, but it is. It really is."
And because I knew that he thought "two plus" was the largest number ever, I said, "I love you two plus too." (Get it? He didn't, but he felt loved and that's what mattered!)
As I walked into my oldest daughter's room, she announced she had some songs to sing to me. So, I sat and I soaked in all her five-year-old cuteness. Her smile is precious with one front tooth missing and one slightly crooked because it's loose. She sang a song about coins and one about days of the week. (Those kindergarten teachers sure are clever!) I gave her one last hug and headed out.
However, as precious as those moments were, I still sighed a big sigh of relief when I realized my two year old had stayed in her room and presumably fallen asleep!
Yes, I'm grateful for the grace to enjoy the moments tonight, but I'd be lying if I didn't say I wasn't equally grateful for the peace and quiet the evening brings!
Tonight, while we went about our usual evening routine (whatever that is), Ann asked if she could write on the board. I told her she could and later tonight, this is what I found:
Today was NOT one of those days.
I focused the entire time and only stopped to jot down prayer requests that were either shared or that popped into my head. (Whoa, sounds a little self-righteous!)
Anyways, the study was about sin. Near the end of the session, the speaker, via video, reminded us of I Corinthians 10:13. "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it." (HCSB)
I zeroed in on that verse and knew God had something for me there. Then, it hit me.
I haven't been getting much sleep lately thanks to two of my little ones. Needless to say, my patience is wearing thin. This is especially the case when I'm putting the children to bed and my husband isn't able to be here to help. They aren't mellow kiddos. It isn't unusual for them to be going strong right up until they get into bed and crash. I'm not exactly the same way. I'd like to have an hour or so of calmer activity at our house before bed, but that doesn't happen without lots and lots of nagging on my part.
So, unfortunately, it happens more often than I'd care to publicly admit, that I snap at my children before they head to bed. I'm unkind. To sum it up, I'm sinful. Sure, it isn't that I totally lose it, but a few short words here and there add up. Last night, I'd barely uttered something like, "I don't want to be your mom right now!" when I was convicted and felt horrible.
After tucking everyone into bed, I felt defeated. How on earth was I going to have more patience with these children when their behavior so often tempted me to lash out with my tongue.
That Bible verse reminded me today that there is NO way on earth that I'm going to have more patience, but there is a way in heaven and He has promised a way of escape.
The other thing that caught my eye and worked it's way into my heart was that He promised to provide a way of escape in order to bear it, not to get away from it all! It doesn't mean that night time will go exactly as I plan with a few stories, a little devotion, hugs and kisses and lights out. No, there will still be children who need water and to go potty, etc., etc.
However, my God will provide me with a way to keep from sinning even when I'm about to lose it. He's promised me that and I'm holding Him to it!
Of course, I already had once chance as we left Bible study and two of my children started yelling in the car. In my head, I repeated over and over, "He'll give me a way of escape, He'll give me a way of escape." Lo and behold, He did and the incident passed.
Being impatient with my family NEVER helps the situation. Sure, I know I'll mess up plenty of more times, but today I'm choosing to be thankful that He has promised never to fail me, even when I fail miserably.
He is so good and I'm so grateful!
A lesser known fact about me is that I was a Spanish minor in college. I figure that almost guarantees that my Spanish will be a bit better than my kiddos' Spanish, at least through their elementary years. (I hope!)
So, when Ann came home this afternoon sharing what she'd learned in Spanish class, I was happy to help her remember what the words meant.
"Hola Maestra," she said.
"Hello, Teacher," I translated. Ann then told me her teacher says, "Hola clase." (Pretty sure you don't need a translation on that one.)
The part that made me chuckle was when she kept repeating, "Usted, usted, usted."
I told her that is the formal usage of "you." She looked at me like I was crazy. I assured her that it was indeed what it meant. Tony backed me up.
Very seriously, she looked at me and said that it meant, "You're dead." I had to suppress a laugh! Apparently she's caught on that several words sound similar in Spanish and in English. Therefore, she is acting as her own translator.
Which I suppose should have me wondering why she'd want to be running around saying, "You're dead!"
Hmmm, those kiddos of mine sure keep me laughing and thinking!
Though we work to develop grateful hearts within our children, it often seems they take so much for granted.
Yet, it is my hope that one day they will look at their daddy and have a new a understanding. An understanding that today he didn't have to take Chris on a long walk and stop to buy a treat. He wasn't required to ride bikes with Ann to the park where they played soccer. And, no one made him invite Jane along on his errands after he'd played soccer in the backyard with her. No, he did it because he doesn't simply take care of them, he cherishes them.
Even when they don't say thank you, yes even then.
So, from me, Thank You Tony for being such a wonderful father! Our kiddos are blessed!
Earlier today, we left Bible study. I handed my two younger children their lunches. They happily munched while I drove and got a cold drink for me and a some juice for them...little treats for us all.
We happily listened to childrens music about dinosaurs, books, and doodle bugs. (A Laurie Berkner CD is one of their current faves.)
After glancing at the clock, I realized we had more than enough time to run the quick trip to the grocery store that I've been needing to do for a few days.
It's amazing that after having children for nearly six years and three children for two and a half years, that I somehow still think it's possible to have an uneventful trip to the store.
The shopping itself went rather smoothly. I may have mentioned a time or two that I wouldn't get the double seater cart next time if they didn't actually sit in it. Other than that, it was good. I let my little man pick out some yogurt and he thought he was big stuff.
By the time we'd checked out, I was nervously glancing at my watch. We had just enough time to load the kiddos and groceries and get to my son's school.
I was ten steps from the door when both of my children started asking for the bathroom. Well, truthfully, they asked earlier, but I assured them they could wait. It was clear from their faces they could NOT wait.
I sighed and headed to the bathroom. (Why do they always time these things so poorly?)
We went to the bathroom, little man to one stall and my two year old to another with me so I could help her. It turns out I wasn't much help. Somehow she got situated on the toilet so that she wet everything but the actual toilet. Her clothes, her shoes, my leg, and my shoes.
Now, in my head I was fuming, but my words were something like, "It's an accident, it happens to everyone sweetie." Of course, that isn't exactly true because I don't remember it happening to my other daughter, but I'm sure it happens. Again, I'm not sure why those things always happen when we're running late.
I got us both cleaned up and assured her that I had extra clothes in the van. I called for my son who loudly announced, "I'm going stinky." Of course he was. I saw a couple of people try not to grin or even act like they'd heard.
I sighed again and gave another glance at my watch.
A few minutes later I helped him wash his hands and we were off. I tossed the groceries and the kids in the car. (I was a bit more gentle with the kiddos.) I pushed that silly double seater cart right over my foot as I returned it to the cart corral. Perhaps that's why people don't return carts?
A woman noticed me get hurt and I simply mentioned it wasn't my day.
I slumped in the car and thought, "What did I just say?" Hadn't the earlier part of the day been just fine? Did the last ten minutes really define my day?
It was then I realized what has been one of my biggest challenges of parenting young children. I have a hard time remembering that moments are simply that, they are moments. It doesn't matter if they are filled with temper tantrums (mine and theirs), potty accidents, boo-boos, or otherwise. They are simply moments. Sure, some days have many, many more than others, but they still don't have to define our days.
I pondered that as I drove while once again jamming to some serious kids tunes. I took a deep breath and I put that moment behind us. As I did, I realized it was actually quite comical.
My son was on time for school. He walked in with a wave and a smile.
"Let moments be moments," is something I feel I'll probably be telling myself a lot from now on. Perhaps even a moment from now.
Still, when she looks at me with her sweet face and says, "I'm Sleeping Beauty. Do you want to dance?" What can I do? I dance.
I dance even if we happen to be in the Walmart bathroom waiting on her sister and brother. Yes, I dance and I don't care who is watching. My little princess won't be a little princess forever.
Will I remember that right now Ann likes wearing shirts with butterflies (not live ones) on them? That she prefers cotton shorts to jeans shorts, skirts or dresses?
Will I remember that Chris prefers to wear his Toy Story and Super Man t-shirts and would really like a Bat Man t-shirt? That he likes to wear mesh shorts like his daddy has?
Will I remember that Jane insists on wearing dresses and and sparkly jelly sandals? That she likes to be called "Princess Jane."
Will I remember the details of our short visit to Chuck E. Cheese yesterday morning?
The children each got to pick out a prize and Ann was all about quantity. She chose two rings, a plastic fish and a plastic lady bug.
Chris wanted the inflatable hammer.
Jane was thrilled with a two-sided crayon. One side was purple, her favorite color.
Will I remember that Ann's favorite color is still pink?
That Chris's favorite color is simply not pink and not purple. All others are okay.
That Jane's favorite color is purple which she pronounces, "purkle."
No, I likely won't remember all these details and so I write them. I want to be able to share these little details with my children.. These little things that seem so trivial, but are the small things that are slowly revealing more and more of themselves to me and to the world.
Though I've noted that a big part of me is mourning my first child going off to school (so soon!?). The bigger part of me is excited to see what they will become.
I love those little ones right down to their seemingly silly preferences.
This morning, right before Ann's dentist appointment, I discovered that one of her top teeth is loose. I did the whole mom thing and shook my head in disbelief that she could be possibly losing her third tooth when she just finished teething, or so it seems.
I felt the same way last week when she discovered Silly Bandz. Now, she proudly sports a wrist full of those and other bracelets. How did my baby get in on a fad?!
I could go on and on about the things she does that make me realize that she is getting older and bigger. There is that little fact that she is soon going to full day kindergarten.
Meanwhile, I feel like Grover wanting to "block" her way. It isn't that I'm not happy for her and excited about all she has yet to discover, it's simply that like Grover, I'm a bit scared, for both of us. Until now, I've known what she is doing almost every minute of the day and that is now about to change.
So, like Grover I've wanted to keep her from turning the next "page." Of course, the pages of life must be turned. And so, the story goes on.
Yet, a week or two ago, I felt like Grover does at the end of the story...almost embarrassed. You see, as I drove along thinking about Ann going to school, I told God that I just love her so much and can't bear the thought of the world hurting her. Though I know it will and must happen, I still don't like to think about it. After I prayed those words, I heard Him whisper, "I love her more."
I couldn't help but smile and sit up a bit straighter. Though I can't understand it, I do believe it. God loves her more than I do. I know how much I love her so I know that's a whole lot. It's hard to be too frightened when I know she'll be constantly watched over by One who loves her more than I know.
I suppose it's time to switch my mindset to another favorite story from my childhood, "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...." I think I can be confident about my sweet girl going to school. It's going to be great!
I finally assembled the cleaner and used it this past week for the first time. My little man is enthralled with any type of tool and for him, vacuums and carpet cleaners qualify as tools. He loves using my beloved Dyson. He also likes using the hand held vacuum to clean our stairs. In fact, he likes this so much that he gets upset if I vacuum the stairs instead of him. He does a decent job so you better believe I let him do it whenever he wants as long as no one is sleeping.
As you can imagine, he was quite interested in the carpet cleaner. However, I told him that he was going to have to wait until he was older to use that one. He took it pretty well. He went off to play and came back a little while later.
"Mommy?" he asked.
"Yes?" I said.
"When I'm a daddy can I have one of those (carpet cleaner)?" He wanted to know.
"Sure buddy, " I replied.
"But Mommy, who am I going to marry?" He asked.
Thinking there might be a funny response I asked, "Well, who would you like to marry."
Very seriously he replied, "Well, I'd really like to marry you, but you're already grown up."
My heart melted on that very spot. Once I recovered, I told him that God would have a special wife just for him. I told him the most important thing was to have a wife who loved God. He looked at me and said, "I love God," and then he ran away to play.
Once again, my heart melted and I felt so very thankful for having that special little man in my life.
Between vacations, Tony being out of town and early evening swim lessons, dinner has been hit or miss. All that to say I've done very little cooking that doesn't just involve making a sandwich or heating something up. That's why I'm pretty much feeling like a gourmet chef right now.
As I sit here, I have chicken in the crock pot and bread dough kneading in the bread machine. I've chopped the lettuce, carrots, celery and onions for our salad. I realize it's a very simple meal, but it's home cooked and more importantly it isn't pizza, macaroni and cheese, quick spaghetti, sandwiches, or gasp, hot dogs (and I'm not talking about the all beef variety).
Now, I do realize that since I've gotten a bit prideful about my meal prep, I'll more than likely fall back on Mickey Mouse chicken nuggets and tator tots tomorrow. Baby steps, right?
For now, I'm just wondering if I'll be able to convince Tony that I don't remember how to clean up the kitchen after all this time "off."
"You're Sleeping Beauty," she'll say. "I'm Belle,"she'll explain. Then, she'll spend the rest of the day calling me Sleeping Beauty. If I call her by her name, she says, "I'm Belle."
Typically, Jane decides which princess she is by the color of clothing she is wearing. If it's pink she is Sleeping Beauty. If she is wearing a blue shirt, she is Cinderella and so on. Sometimes she is wearing princess pajamas and it makes it quite easy for her to decide who she is at the moment.
A few nights ago, as Jane was getting dressed for bed, I asked her which princess she was that night. She looked down at her bare belly and said, "Belly Button." Too cute. I love conversing with two year olds, especially my sweet two year old girl!
Not pictured are various other small bags and of course three children and their parents! (The dog didn't make the cut. He took his own little vacation at the kennel. Poor guy!)
The house is a mess, but the van is now nice and tidy!
My third and final question I'm thinking about is whether the fact that one of the first things I did upon getting back from a big road trip was take a picture so I could blog, means that I'm back to blogging regularly. I guess time will tell.
We progressed on to the older two kids going to Vacation Bible School and Jane and I heading to Walmart to replace the tire that blew out on the way home from church yesterday afternoon. (Thankfully we were all safe and both a friend and a state trooper came to our aid.)
By the time I had finished at Walmart and ran another errand, it was time to pick up Ann and Chris. It took me about two seconds to see that they'd had an amazing time and it was going to be a long afternoon.
Sure enough it was. It was made longer by the fact that Tony is flying home today and won't be home until well after the children are asleep.
So, imagine my surprise when Jane chose tonight of all nights to demonstrate her ability to climb out of her bed and open doors.
Bed time was quite the three ring circus. Yet, in the middle of it all, I was reminded of something--it won't always be this way.
As I hauled Jane's crib mattress out of her bed I became nostalgic. That crib has been a constant in our house for over five and a half years. Yet soon, it will come down and be passed along to someone who needs it.
In the midst of a night full of tears and frustration (mine and theirs) that crib served as a reminder of how fleeting this time is. Yes, there are days like today that are hard, so hard. But, all in all, this is such a sweet, sweet time.
So, as I took another look at that crib and at the sweet face of my youngest sleeping on a mattress on the floor, I sighed.
I headed back into the two rooms of my older children and smiled through gritted teeth as I reminded them I loved them. In other words, I was "faking it until I made it."
Do you know what? Eventually my smile became genuine and I was reminded of how blessed I am.
Not more than five minutes passed until my son disobeyed and came out of his room and downstairs to find me. This time my perspective was right. Though I still had to discipline him, somewhere in my mind I was able to remember that one day I will miss that little curly head coming down the stairs for one more hug or to tell me something "really important."
Thank you, Lord for using a crib to remind me of what's really important. (Not necessarily the things my son says to delay bed time!" I am blessed.
I learned that hot air balloons only launch in the best of weather. If you take your three children very early in the morning to a Hot Air Balloon Festival and the skies look rather stormy, you probably won't see any hot air balloons. However, you might get to enjoy a new park and have fun visiting with a handful of other families who were also quite optimistic about seeing hot air balloons. (In addition, your husband will greatly appreciate sleeping late.)
It is possible for a car (ours) to show up on the stolen car list even though you've owned it for six years. In fact, it's possible for two police cars and one police motorcycle to pull you over while you innocently drive to Walmart to buy cages for your tomato plants. It's still bizarre to think it happened. I truly had no idea why the officer pulled me over and he wouldn't tell me right away. Fortunately everything got cleared up and I didn't have the kids with me. Still very weird.
The Chick-fil-A parking lot is actually not too bad of a place to see a concert. We enjoyed hearing Phil Stacey before heading in for our chicken fix.
Target's return policy stinks. If it's no longer "in their system" there is nothing they can do about it unless you have the receipt. (Of course the item was a birthday gift for my son and he already had the toy. We didn't have the receipt or we would of used it!)
Target can have whatever dumb policies they want, because we all know at the end of the day I'm still going to shop there all the time, for everything. Sigh.
And finally, regardless of all the bad things that go on in our country, I'm still very, very glad to call this home. I'm also very grateful for all those who serve our country and keep us safe.
Happy Memorial Day!
Due to some poor planning on my part, we found ourselves south of town on an empty stretch of highway with very little gas. I was starting to get worried that we might actually run out of gas and said so out loud. After just a few minutes (during which I was praying), my five year old daughter said, unprompted, "God will help us."
After we talked for a bit I learned that she had been praying "in her mind" that God would help us make it to the gas station. A few minutes later I saw the sign that the nearest gas station was only four miles down the road. I smiled, but not just because I was pretty certain we weren't going to be stranded on the side of the road. Rather, I smiled because my daughter knew what to do in a time of need.
Watching her learn to read has been a thrill, but it's nothing compared to seeing her learn to ask her Father for help. Talk about a great day!
We were pleasantly surprised to see how long the kids wanted to explore and take in the new sites of Colorado. (A bit different from the Midwest!)
A little over a week ago, my oldest child finished up Preschool. It's been a little over eight months since she posed for this picture. It was her first day of school! She was so excited!
Here she is eight months later eating ice cream after her last day of school. I told her if she keeps looking so old, I'm going to stop taking her picture. (That was a big fat lie if I ever told one!)
Even as I sit and look at these pictures, I can't help but smile. It's hard to be sad about time going so quickly when your heart is bursting with pride. I'm not sure why God chose me to be this girl's mama, but it's an honor!
"Kids sometimes have bad days too," said Ann.
"Oh really," I replied.
"Yes. Like when we don't get a toy we want or something like that," she explained.
I chuckled to myself as I thought about how life would be so easy if that was an adult's biggest concern.
Later, I recalled the conversation, again laughing at what Ann considered to be a bad day.
A moment later my laughter stopped and it was though someone had thrown cold water on my face. Hadn't my daughter summed up what makes a bad day? Isn't it a bad day when we don't get what we want? Doesn't that truly sum up bad days for adults as well as children?
Of course, those desires may be something that is completely understandable such as health, a job, or something more trivial such as peace and quiet while making dinner. Still, at least for me, my bad days typically involve me not getting what I want.
That daughter of mine is one smart and observant kiddo. God sure is teaching me a lot through my little ones.
As I trailed behind her, I couldn't help but think how much our ride/walk symbolized my life as a mother right now. Slowly but surely, I'm leaving the season of sippy cups and afternoon naps. (I hope that completely leaving behind afternoon naps will be very slow in coming!) Sometimes I find myself struggling to keep up.
Often, I'll be getting ready to do something for one of my children and they will have already done it. My oldest makes her bed, fills her water cup, feeds the dog, sets the table, sorts her laundry and more. Yes, I like that she does these things. After all, we've trained her to do them. However, with each new skill she learns, I'm reminded that she is ever so surely decreasing her dependence on me. Of course, that is how it is supposed to be and I have every intention of celebrating with her even if I occasionally wipe away a tear or two.
This week we will be going to her end-of-year PreK program. She is registered for Kindergarten and I know it won't be long until we're shopping for school supplies and packing her lunch for her first day of school. You see my thoughts haven't kept up with her development. In my mind she is still a three-year-old meeting her little sister for the first time as she holds her one-year-old brother's hand. She is the two-year-old who eagerly anticipated our move back to Kansas. She is the one-year-old who had a most impressive vocabulary. In my head, she is most definitely not a five-and-a-half-year-old who grows less dependent by the day.
Apparently my mind is wearing some flip flops. I suppose it's time to get myself in a running-shoe frame of mind. After all, as much as I'm going to miss these toddler/preschooler days, I sure don't want to miss any of the fun that's sure to come.
Time to lace up.
The day started with my son spilling water on my cell phone. (It survived.) From there it progressed to a potty-training toddler who missed the toilet and somehow managed to get some poo stuck underneath a door. (Seriously?!)
Unfortunately, I didn't take the hint and craw back in bed. Instead, we headed to a meeting about one of our kiddos to find out if maybe we should be taking more action or getting more assistance with said kiddo's behavior. Instead of learning anything new, I left feeling very, very frustrated. I felt as though I'd wasted two hours and had no new insight into how to best help my child.
So, as I drove home to where my friend was watching my other two children, I took a deep breath. I prayed and realized that God will help us to train our children in the way He wants them to go. Now, though I became more peaceful I was still frustrated.
Later on in the day, Tony called to check in and see how things were going. At the time, they weren't going so well. However, he also had called to inform me that he had been given a surprising and generous raise.
Though I couldn't be more proud of Tony, it was something else that struck me as I hung up the phone. I knew in that way that I'm not quite able to describe in words, that God was reminding me that He loves me. He is taking care of things even when I don't realize it. Though I might be looking for one answer and focused on what I'm not getting (answers to my child's behavior) He is reminding me of how much He loves me and will always take care me.
So, I'm not ending the day any closer to answers for how to best train our child. However, I am very much reminded of how much God loves me and how freely He gives. (Both materially and spiritually.) That is more than enough.
"I just got a toilet brush stuck in the toilet. Yes, yes I did.
Who does that?
So, yes, I'm once again the damsel in distress who needs your help, because clearly you don't have enough to do that you need to come home after way too many hours at work and fix the toilet.
I love you."
Um, yeah. I have no idea how it happened other than I guess I got put a little too much elbow grease into cleaning the toilet and the brush slipped down the hole and got stuck. Seriously, who does that?
Growing up, my mom always used to tell us what her dad told her--"don't advertise your own stupidity." I agree, unless of course, others might get a laugh at your expense. I know I sure did. Though that little mishap pretty much ended a not so hot day, I couldn't help but laugh.
Seriously, who does that?
Disclaimer: The above picture has nothing to do with the following story. However, I thought the picture of her in her Easter dress and hunting for eggs was too cute not to share!
So, I just had to chuckle the other day when I gave them a choice of sandwiches for lunch.
"Would you like peanut butter and jelly or turkey?" I asked.
"Turkey," said Ann.
"Peanut butter and jelly," said Chris who generally just likes to be contrary.
"Jellybeans!" chimed in Jane.
Even when I only give them two choices, they somehow manage to all be unique.
Oh, and that Jane, she keeps us laughing. She smiled the minute she said jelly beans knowing she was being oh, so funny. It's probably a good thing I didn't have any jelly beans in the house. Her dimpled grin gets me every time. Who knows, I just might have tossed a jelly bean or two into her sandwich.
I love my silly, sweet, and very unique little and not-so-little ones!
The day began with a cranky child before the said child even got up for the day. It progressed to bickering siblings, some of whom resorted to kicking, biting, hitting and name calling.
From there, we moved on to getting children to the right preschool and dance class all in the pouring rain.
Basically there was more screaming, fighting, potty talking, and general chaos that I like to recall. It actually got bad enough that I was nearly in tears before we made it home from the gym.
As we drove home, I noticed a break in the clouds. Finally! I couldn't help but think of how God offers us so much hope and my heart was encouraged.
Instead of putting the kids to bed as quickly as possible, I followed our usual routine of reading books and then reading a Bible Story.
As I lay belly-down on the floor with my 5 and 3-year-old, the clouds truly began to break in our day. We shared a couple of silly stories and then we began to read from The Jesus Storybook Bible.
As I read about Adam and Eve, my children began to ask questions. We had a wonderful conversation about Jesus and His sacrifice for us. The more we talked, the more their eyes began to sparkle. I could see that they were starting to just barely comprehend the hope we have when we choose Him.
I indeed began to feel like a well-watered garden.
I guess it's not surprising that I'm ending the day feeling like it was a good one. Funny how those last twenty minutes in the day made up for the crazy previous twelve hours.
"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
I'm hoping things will change for the better next week. You can read more here.
Have you ever done this with your family?
I've been reading the book Steady Days: A Journey Toward Intentional, Professional Motherhood. This easy read has helped me to take a step back from my crazy days and remind me to be flexible. Being flexible may just be the most important thing a momma with three young kiddos can do! However, it isn't always my strongest skill, just ask my husband!
So, as I've been reading this book, I've been looking at ways to make our days more steady. (That certainly isn't a word I'd currently use to describe our life!) We now have 6-7 events each week. All of these events are things we don't believe we should cut out right now. Fortunately, they all end within 5 weeks and then we have nothing but a bit of travel and a church event over the summer. However, until then, at least once a day, I load the kids in the minivan and head out to a destination.
Now, getting the kids in the car isn't necessarily the challenge. It's getting them in the car on time and making sure everyone is fed and clothed with teeth brushed. (We need to work on that latter one! Just keeping it honest!)
On a typical morning, my two-year-old is the first up. She watches a video while I finish getting ready. The other two eventually come downstairs. We do the normal morning things and then while I finish cleaning up things usually get a bit crazy. The kids are either fighting or being a bit too wild.
Enter my Target dollar spot inspiration.
The author of this book, Jamie C. Martin (who also has a fantastic blog), writes that at one point, to solve a difficult time with her three children, she assigned them spots in a room where they could each see each other, but they were to stay in their own spots playing quietly.
"I wonder," I thought to myself as I read that. I wondered if I could train my children to do that for the few minutes before we load up to get into the minivan in the morning. It would give me a few minutes to finish any last-minute chores or details. I decided I would give it a try, but that I needed to think about it a bit more. I've learned that even the most seemingly innocent parenting choices should be approached carefully!
The more I thought about it, I decided I needed a way for my kids to define their spots in the play room. I thought of getting hand towels that we could spread out on the floor. I could have gotten them in the colors I've assigned to each child. However, I knew the towels would soon be used as capes, doll blankets, and who knows what else. I was going to have to think some more.
So today as I glanced around the shelves at Target, the kids garden kneelers caught my eye. They are just big enough for a little one sit to so on and play. My five-year-old was immediately sold on the idea and wanted hers right away. (I told her she'd have to wait.)
The question remains whether or not they'll actually help us make a smoother transition when we leave the house. It might be wishful thinking, and it might not. Either way, I'm working on something that works for our family and I'm trying to think outside of my rigid little box. No matter how you look at it, I think it's worth a shot!
How do you help your children make transitions when it's time to leave?
Anyways, all that to say, I'm no longer the one running around with the youngest kiddos in the bunch. It's like all of the sudden it made me realize maybe I should have my act together at least some of the time.
However, that isn't always or usually the case. In some ways, I find three preschoolers more challenging than when they were all a bit younger. Still, I set expectations for myself that are rather unreasonable. I extend grace and have understanding for others, but when it comes to me, I figure I should have the hang of this being a mom of three after two years.
Thinking like this can wear a girl out!
That's exactly how I felt as I drove to Bible Study on Monday night. I was tired of always needing to be one step ahead of my kids. I had even cried earlier that morning before a meeting that I was supposed to help lead. It wasn't that it had been a bad morning, it was just that the good mornings are still rough!
So, as I sat their sipping my decaf, enjoying some fellowship, and getting ready to watch a Beth Moore DVD, I was a bit down still.
As we reviewed our homework, a verse truly nearly jumped off the page at me.
"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." Isaiah 58:11
I don't know about you, but being a momma can sometimes leave me feeling like I'm in the midst of a sun-scorched land!
These words reminded me that it's okay if I'm worn out and tired. He isn't and He has promised to be my strength. I don't pretend to understand exactly how that all works. I'm just glad it does! Thank you Lord!
Our family is a two-story and we've lived here for two and a half year. In that time, I've come to really appreciate what we had in our previous ranch homes. It's nearly impossible to keep two levels tidy at once. (I won't even mention my unfinished dumping ground known as the basement.)
Fortunately, I recently stumbled upon a way to at least keep my kiddos' possessions more tidy in the downstairs. Go here and read more. Then please comment and let me know what you do to tame the chaos in your home!
You know, things like pouring white glue into a glass of water and actually contemplating drinking it.
Of course, I also spend a fair amount of time doing things like sipping hot chocolate while reading piles of library books to my little ones.
I figure as long as I don't start putting glue instead of hot chocolate in the water we're in good shape. It isn't likely to happen. I'm not nearly as fun or as adventurous as they are. They certainly make life fun! (And truthfully, sometimes a bit scary.) I still wouldn't have it any other way.
As we were getting out of the van, Chris asked me if I would also be driving him home. Upon hearing my answer of yes, he responded, "I'm a lucky boy!"
Funny, I thought I was the lucky momma! He sure knows how to melt my heart.
Now, the chaos is about to start. Chris is currently sitting on the counter sorting silverware while Ann is playing at the table. She is fixing a tea party for her dolls and saying things like, "I wish Eva (her favorite doll) had a pumpkin house." Well, of course.
As part of her tea party, Ann made invitations for her dolls. I helped her with a bit of the spelling, but then she took over and started spelling phonetically. She invited Eva, Pni (Pinky), Rabo (Rainbow), and Butrfli (Butterfly).
Now, I sit here recording her first bit of attempting to spell on her own. I grabbed her invitations and told her I just wanted to quickly write something down. (She just came back over to claim them and I can tell that she is proud that I thought it was important enough to write about what she was doing.)
Chris has now finished sorting the silverware and has joined his younger sister watching Imagination Movers.
So, I guess I better stop recording this typical before dinner moment and get back to actually making dinner. I'm thinking my family might want more than the brown rice that is simmering on the back of the stove.
These are the days!
Oh, I love that little guy! He loves, loves, loves this song. We were recently doing some of the curriculum at ABC Jesus Loves Me and this song was part of the lesson. He was so excited because it's his favorite!
I was a bit surprised when they informed me that I didn't have to wait until Kindergarten Round-Up to get started with Ann's school journey. The school has what they call Pre-K Nights to help new students and parents adjust to their new school life.
That is how I ended up dragging my sweet Ann to school last night. Dragging is the right term because she had no interest in going and I had to pull out all of my parenting tricks to finally get her in the car. We made the short drive and were soon in the library with all of the other parents.
Before we made it into the library, I ran into a friend from church. I'd forgotten that her son would start school at the same time as Ann. I felt relief flood through me as I realized I'd have a friend going through the same thing at the same school!
Once we were seated in the library, it really started to hit me that my oldest would soon begin a new phase of her life. My friend asked me if I was stressed out about the new chapter in our lives. I started to answer, but my eyes began to water and I told her I probably couldn't talk about it just then. (When did I become so sappy?)
It didn't help that Ann was curled up in my lap shielding her face with her coat. She had already turned down the cookies they had offered. (This is very unusual for my sugar-holic!) I realized that she might be a bit scared and nervous. I also realized that if she felt that was next year while she was at school, I wouldn't be there to comfort her. It was then that I again almost cried.
After I asked her one more time if she'd like a cookie, she did indeed take one. Perhaps energized by the sugar, she suddenly started to act like her normal self.
Soon, the time came for her to go with the other soon-to-be kindergartners to play games in another room. She popped up off my lap and gave me her "aren't-I-cool-that-I'm-doing-this" smile. It was then I was reminded she was going to be just fine.
I spent the rest of my time learning about the social skills needed in kindergarten. A half an hour later, Ann came back to the library with the other students. She looked happy.
After meeting the principal, who I immediately liked, we walked to the car with my friend and her son. Ann played with him as my friend and I talked. Once we parted ways, I helped Ann buckle into her seat.
"Mom," she said.
"Yes," I replied.
"I think this is going to be fun," she continued.
I think she's right. I can already see God at work in the beginning of this new adventure. I won't lie and say I won't cry on the first day of school. I most certainly will, but I also have a feeling I'll be excited for what is in store for Ann.
Ann, I couldn't be more proud to be your momma! You are a true blessing and I love you dearly!
He, of course, loves that his sister is a bit disgusted and is grabbing her to make sure she doesn't get away. That kid could write a book on how to be the stereotypical little brother! (But they do love each other dearly!)
Happy Belated Valentine's Day!
Please be sure to head over to Cheryl's at Twinfatuation to see more Makes-My-Monday posts.
February, though technically a short month, has thus far been a very dreary month. My daughter's birthday aside, there is very little I've liked about it this year.
That said, March, if you know what is good for you, you will come both in and out like a lamb. You do know what is good for you, right?
P.S. (If you see that old groundhog, please tell him to get lost!)
I knew something might be going on yesterday as I put my two-year-old down for her nap. My three and five-year-old were being just a bit too quiet. I did, however, take the time to relish the fact that my two oldest children had spent the past few days playing very well together. This isn't always the case, so I reminded myself that even if I found a huge mess, I should be at least grateful for their enjoyment of each other.
He uses his pale blue dolphin lovey as his cape as he says things like, "Up, up and away, I'm going to save the day."
He also says, "Mom, did you know I'm going to be a rescue hero forever."
As if that wasn't cute enough, he proudly wears his "cape" (and dinosaur rain boots) while picking up his sister from preschool. He then proceeds to hold the door for his mama and little sister.
Yes, there is something better than a three-year-old superhero.
It's a three-year-old superhero who will hug and kiss his mama whenever she asks. (Though he won't pose for a picture.)
I love that little guy!
As I sit here typing, you are all in the basement with your daddy. I can hear your laughter and the sound of a hand saw. Daddy is using the saw to make all of you a play house.
A few nights ago, he came home with rolls from the inside of the paper they use at his office. Before I knew it, he had concocted a plan to make a "log cabin" for you using the tubes and wood. Before he came home from work last night, he stopped at the "orange store" (a.k.a. Home Depot) to pick up some wood and screws.
Much of this weekend has been spent in the basement as you all work to finish the house. (I'm glad you are able to work around the mess down there, because I'm not sure when I'll finally get those Christmas decorations put away!)
My little ones, I write this so that one day you can be reminded of just how much your daddy loves you. He could do any number of things with his time away from work, but he chooses to spend it doing amazing things for you (and me). Remember this? And this?
Each of you, as you pray, always say "Thank you for Dada and Mama..." I do hope that you know how wise it is to thank the Lord for your sweet Daddy. You all are blessed beyond measure to have your earthly father love you so!
I hope you enjoy your house and that we can make many fun memories playing in your "Lincoln Log House!"
P.S. Pictures to come soon!
Anyways, this morning as I was reading a few blogs, I started thinking that maybe we could have our own Super Bowl party just the five of us. I started looking for recipes.
Not much later, my son yelled, "Watch out TV, I'm going to punch you in the head!" Huh? As I was saying, "No, no don't do that..." he was already running.
Sure enough, he ran fist first into the TV. Unfortunately, he didn't slow down enough to also avoid hitting has face on the screen. I did my best to not laugh, truly I did. However, he had it coming to him. I did manage to get it together before he came to me for a hug. I was still shaking a bit from laughing, but my face was concerned. Actually, I truly was concerned. I was worried his little mouth would start bleeding. Fortunately, it didn't and the only thing hurt was his pride.
I don't think I have to worry about him doing that again any time soon. I'm pretty sure he learned his lesson. Boys!
Today, an older television is indeed a finer thing! So is having a little guy who makes life interesting!
My two younger children were in bed taking naps while I talked on the phone to my sister-in-law. I'm not sure how the subject came up, but I said, and I quote (obviously), "It's been forever since we've dealt with ear infections."
Less than an hour after I'd hung up the phone, I had to wake up my children to go pick up my oldest daughter from preschool. As I helped my son into his booster seat, he told me his ear hurt. Being the caring mom that I am, I said, "No it doesn't. Just lay back and you'll be fine." Except that he wasn't.
As the afternoon progressed, he only complained more about his ear. He wanted me to hold him and had no interest in playing or using the new markers I offered for drawing. He continued to whine despite a couple of attempts at home remedies.
By the time Tony came home, I was more than happy to let him take our little man to the doctor. About an hour later, Tony called to let me know that he had an ear infection. I remembered my conversation earlier in the day and nearly laughed. In fact, I would have except that my little guy was hurting. Instead I was just grateful that we knew what was wrong and that we're able to treat it. In the meantime, I'll do my best to keep my mouth shut. After all, it's frequently a good policy even if you aren't superstitious.
(The above picture is of Jane eating her birthday breakfast of ice cream. It's what we do around here and my kids love it!)