Thursday, December 02, 2010

Christmas Wishes

Our Christmas scout elf, Zingle, returned this week, and the kids are really loading him down with wishes!
Bella's been asking for a typewriter, "100,000,000" Barbie clothes, a DSi, and a "working ipod," per her most recent letter to Santa.  While she asks for these high-priced electronics, I know she'll be happy with all of her gifts.  Of course, we've been really trying to prep her to not expect all of these things.  However, she keeps reminding us that we don't have to buy the stuff, because "Santa Clause can just make it!"  We are so not ready spend money on things that she'll possibly lose or break.  Not yet.

Brody wants Transformers "that change into stuff," a Woody from Toy Story, and a castle.  He's really fun and easy to shop for.  I think he'll be excited with anything.  He's really into superheroes, dragons, Transformers, and Toy Story.  Easy peasy.

What are your kids wishing for?

Girl talk

Yesterday, I had the first of many girl talks with my daughter.  It was fun, and I got so excited afterwards. 

I decided to address her recent question, "How do babies come out?" 

In my home growing up, we did not talk about anatomy or anything closely resembling "sex" talk.  It was whole-heartedly avoided.  I think this approach made everything seem so wrong.  I even found myself hesitating when it came to bringing up the subject with my own daughter.

However, I sensed the moment as an opportunity to let Bella know that I had heard her.  That I had taken the time to think about her question and given her an answer.  Thanks to some suggestions, we read the following book together:

Bella's favorite part was:
I pushed and pushed until your head showed a fraction,
Then all of a sudden it, it was lights! camera! action! 
Of course the book's illustration shows a newborn baby belting out a tune on a microphone in the hospital nursery.  That is SO Bella :-)

The rhyming story was cute and fun, but I knew it didn't really answer her question.  It did give her a chance to see how long it takes a baby to grow and how they develop inside of the mom's tummy.

I checked another book from the library:
I chose to read portions of this book to Bella, because the story was written for a boy, and I thought it was confusing.  The book also goes into a lot of other questions, but Bella hasn't asked those yet.  I did enjoy the way it created a bigger picture of how God made us.  I told her how God planned for us all to have Mommy and Daddy, because it's hard work to take care of a child otherwise.  I read to her about how God made girls' bodies especially to have babies. 

The day Bella (3 yrs. old) got her first baby brother in 2007.

She learned the "v" word, because it was about time, and it answered her question on how a baby is born.  I hadn't taken the approach of other families who teach their children the names of body parts right away, because I was terrified of my kids repeating the words inappropriately to others (possibly other kids who hadn't been taught that as well).  She and I laughed at her first disgusted reaction, but then accepted that God had made our bodies in an amazing way :-)

A little mommy-in-training. 2007.

There were no gory details or graphic illustrations.  I didn't go into a boys' anatomy or how the baby came to be.  I like the idea of her coming to me with each question as she thinks of them and not overwhelming her all at once.

Waiting to be a big sister in 2007.

So there.  I am hoping that these moments build trust and closeness between mother and daughter.  It's one thing I worry most about Bella- that she won't come to me first when she has a problem or a question.  I'm praying that this indeed will be the first of many many many girl talks :-)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

No ready answer

Over the course of four days, while visiting family for Thanksgiving, my daughter asked me a couple of very heavy questions:
  1. What happens to people who don't believe in Jesus?
  2. How does your baby come out?
I guess when you have no schoolwork to do, your mind wanders.

Admittedly, I wasn't prepared to answer such big ones right away.  And Bella doesn't usually plan out when she vocalizes her ponderings, so they're usually ill-timed. 

Guess I'll be doing some investigating this week.  God, help me.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I was THAT mom

It wasn't a dream- a nightmare that ends in the relief of realizing that it didn't actually happen.  But it DID happen, and I wasn't able to cope wrapped within my cozy comforter in a warm bed.

The morning started out lovely enough.  Small, pleasant conversations with the kids as we got ready for the day.  Banana nut chocolate chip muffins fresh out of the oven for breakfast.  A shower for me.  DVD in the minivan for our 40 minute trip to meet my best friend for some Christmas shopping.

Even when we'd parked the car and ran to Nikki with hugs, the only pinch was the worsening pain in my back.  It's been there for weeks, but I was starting to sense that it was something more than a heating pad and a Tylenol could fix.  I pushed through and we successfully conquered 2 stores before the kids got a little whiny.  We decided to do lunch.

That's when the kids rebelled.  They crawled back and forth under the table in the booth.  My 7-year-old daughter started to talk back to me like a teenager, rolling her eyes and flicking her head.  My 3-year-old kept wanting to lie down everywhere, because this is what he does when he has to poop and refuses to use the potty.  I tried to keep my cool and maintain a sane conversation with my friend.  All the while, my back was killing me, and I could hardly concentrate.

Thankfully, we left the restaurant to try the mall.  Bella got a little word of advice from her mother before she got back in the van, so I didn't suffer much more disrespectful talk after that.  Which is good, because now it was Brody's turn to misbehave.

I knew what I was looking for, so I just needed to get to that section of the store.  Brody, however, kept lying down on the floor or the shelves, saying he wanted to sleep.  So I finally gave up on my task and took him to the bathroom where he sat and did nothing.  Great.  Then he started running away from me- a rule that we went over before we left for this Christmas shopping adventure.  And each time, we reminded him with words and timeouts.  It was all for naught.  Brody had officially transformed into a wild thing.

Thank goodness Nikki was there (of course, I apologized profusely for my kids later).

Then he pooped.  Looking right at me, that preschooler pooped in his pants, and I had not brought his bag in with us.  So I let Bella go with Nikki, and took Brody's hand for the long walk out to the parking lot.  He was sorry.  I practiced some grace-based parenting, and exhibited great patience through the ordeal.  He wanted to play, but all this was cutting into our time.  Then he was bummed to lose his Thomas toy, which is the deal when he doesn't use the potty.

And my back was killing me.

After returning to the mall with a fresh pull-up, I let Brody join a group of kids playing while I sat down to find the chiropractor's number.  By the time Nikki & Bella met us, it was time to drive back home before traffic clogged the roads.  Since we were right there, we decided to top off the day with a cookie treat on our way out.  As we're walking to the counter to order, Brody took off into the store across the way and tried to squeeze behind a display of Snuggies. 

The rest was like a dream- but it wasn't.

The towers of stacked boxes started to wobble while my 3-year-old hid behind them, as I tried to coax him out.  Then it happened.  One tower fell.  Then another.  And with his hand in my hand, Brody and I watched the boxes tip each subsequent stack like dominoes, ending with the sign displayed in the window.  I sat Brody down and looked at the mess my son had made.  The lady working in the store gave me an evil look and silently watched me as I bent over to re-stack each Snuggie box back in the best way I remembered it. 

I'm 7 months pregnant, my back is still killing me, and my son is now yelling, "Mommy, can I have a cookie?!"

After a few minutes, the lady dismisses me with a "Don't worry about it.  I'll get it." 

I'll take it. 

I lift Brody up, and reply with an "I'm sorry."  Leaving the store to meet my friend and my daughter at the cookie counter, I dread telling Brody that he has lost his chance at an afternoon treat. 

When I do, he unsurprisingly wailed, "I want a coooookieeee!" 

I can only respond with, "Mommy didn't get one either."  I hoped it would ease the pain.  I truly wanted a cookie too, but I kind of lost my appetite and just wanted to get home to lie down.

However, the entire way through the mall, in the elevator, by the food court, into the courtyard, and out to the parking lot, I held my son's hand as he screamed, cried, and pleaded for a cookie.  And I just looked straight ahead.  There was nothing I could do.

It was one of those life moments that humble you and make it almost impossible for you to ever judge another parent.

Because yesterday, I was THAT mom.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The other beautiful

My very favorite picture of late:

We planned on transforming my blonde-headed Bella into the adventurous sea princess, Ariel, but I didn't quite expect to be blown away by her beauty on Halloween night.  While all the kids raced from door-to-door in their various costumes, asking for candy to fill up their bags and buckets, I kept staring at my daughter in her sequined gown amidst an array of her black-garbed friends.

She is beautiful, I thought.

Maybe it's because I'm with her all of the time and so intent on keeping her straight.  I realized that it's possible that I, her mother, may not tell her enough what everyone else so quickly comments when meeting her,

"You know your name means 'beautiful' in Italian." 
"Yes, I know," she so easily replies.

We planned that.  Her dad & I.  When choosing names for our kids, I always look at the meaning.  Where does it come from?  Who does it represent?  I feel very strongly that those names can define our children to a certain extent. 

But I try to impart in my 7-year-old how beauty is so much more than what you can see.  It's what people feel when they are around you.  Being beautiful is more of a verb of action than an uncontrollable adjective.  People may or may not think much of your exterior, but they'll certainly be in agreement with what you exhibit from the inside.

I don't know who gave it to her, but we've read this book to Bella since she was a little thing, and it sends the exact message I want to convey: Princess Bella and the Red Velvet Hat.

When God shows me moments of beauty in my daughter, whether above or beneath the surface, I must remember to tell her- not leaving out that " should come from within you-the beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit." 1 Peter 3:4 (International Children's Bible)

One day, someone may try to tell her otherwise.  I hope that she will believe the truth.

Bella IS beautiful.
I'm not bragging.  Just telling it like it is.  Share it with YOUR daughter :-)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Flailing, not sailing

In my self-diagnosed ADD fashion, my mind is scattered and my feelings of accomplishment have been inconsistent at best.  Couple that with pregnancy brain, homeschooling, and cheerleading responsibilities, then you can picture me- like a poor swimmer splashing like an idiot to reach the side of the pool.  Somehow I get there, but it isn't very pretty!

As much as I fight it, I need structure!   I'm my own boss, and yet I should probably act as if I have someone else to report to.  Maybe this would keep me on my toes.

Since I am an adult, I need to buck up and create a system that tells me what to do.  My "boss" takes the pressure off of my overthinking details or getting distracted by irrelevent side projects, because I would have to complete my assigned tasks for that day, before I start doodling on scrap paper.

I rebel against other people's expectations,  because I value personal expression and the variety of life.  BUT I have no excuse if I create my own bossy schedule.  I get to choose what day I do the errands, the laundry, the whatever.  If I fail to complete my tasks, I might as well just fire myself.

But it would be great to have an assistant.

How do you get everything done in a week?

Monday, October 04, 2010

Fall at home

For the past few days I've been "fall cleaning" throughout the house, because whenever the motivation strikes, I have to go with it!  Otherwise, the baseboards get overlooked for another season.  I invited several friends over for a thirty-one party just because I wanted to see their faces and do a little entertaining. 

So I decluttered, and dusted while my husband mopped and rearranged furniture. I even found some crib bedding for the baby this weekend, which made me more excited than anyone else, I think.  Then we ended the weekend with our first evening by the fireplace. 

I couldn't help but take pictures of my home in its fall finest...come on over!

Hi, Mr. Scarecrow!  More flowers on our dining/homeschool table.

Thank you, husband for mopping the floors!  It's a grueling job for a pregnant lady.

Ssshhh...I am capturing a rare and beautiful moment when the house is almost completely clean.

Lately I've been picking up flowers from the grocery store and putting them in random jars just because it makes me happy.

Apples, candy corn, party nuts, sweet potato fries, apple cinnamon & banana chocolate chip muffins, and cocktail sausages for my friends.

Just in case you forgot where we were.

Finally finished the photo wall...

...just in time to add another member to it!

Finally found crib bedding that matched the current colors in the guest room.

This is just a sneak peak, since we're obviously not finished.

Unintentionally, we have firetrucks in both boys' rooms- fun for one, fun for all!  They're going to share the room in a few years anyways.

And finally, we present the perfect way to end a weekend.

So the weekend's over, my house is clean, and I can smell the remnants of burnt wood from the fireplace and various cinnamon and pumpkin spice scented candles.  It's a great way to start the week- full of ample, cozy family time.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Freedom to be themselves

My husband and I are reading Grace Based Parenting with our small group friends, and it's been enlightening. Remembering that our kids were created uniquely, we show them love and grace when we accept them for all their quirks, weaknesses, and strengths.

Bella is revealing more and more of her mom's personality as she expresses herself in so many different ways, struggles with organization, and needs to have time with friends on a regular basis.  Her room says so much about her- even when it's mostly clean:
She adds to her art gallery weekly with just about anything she decides is important: post it notes, stickers, notes from friends, etc.  I love seeing how she sees things.  It may not make a lot of sense to us.  It may look messy.  But it's absolutely Bella.  I hope she always finds joy in little homemade art projects.

Brody's in that great preschool stage where you're never sure what's going to come out of his mouth- boy gross or sugar sweet ;-)  He loves superheroes- which shouldn't surprise anyone if they remember his sound effects before he started talking.  His room is still very basic, as he doesn't spend a lot of time in it unless his sister visits or friends come over to play.  Naps no longer fit into his daily agenda, even though he can't last until dinner time given the chance to find a place to crash:
I hope my kids find confidence and security to be themselves at home, learn to work through their weaknesses, and use their talents to make a difference in the world.  It all starts at home- loving them for who they are.

And when I'm out of patience, I hope I can see something amazing, adorable, or terribly funny to bring me back to loving these little, unpredictable people.  Because those are the moments that you see a little bit of God.


Monday, September 27, 2010

A little longer

As moms, we are often exhausted by what we do, and yet that's the best way we feel that we show our love to others.  In rare quiet moments however is when we find ourselves soaking in time just being with each other.  While there is still so much to do each day, we should work on stopping, sitting, and listening a little more- with our friends, with our kids, and with God.

Here's a quiet song for your Monday:
A little longer by Brian and Jenn Johnson

What can I do for you
What can I bring to you
What kind of song would you like me to sing
'Cause I'll dance a dance for you
Pour out my love to you
What can I do for you beautiful king
'Cause I can't thank you enough
'Cause I can't thank you enough...

All of the words that I find
and I can't thank you enough
No matter how I try
and I can't thank you enough...

Then hear you saying to me
Listen you, don't have to do a thing
Just simply be with me
and let those things (the housework) go
'Cause they (the kids) can wait another minute
Wait, this moment is too sweet
Would you please stay here here with me
And love on me a little longer
'cause I like to be with you a little longer
I love to be with you a little longer
'Cause I'm in love with you

Thursday, September 23, 2010

7 Days a Week

Totally random/fun blog post. 

I love They Might Be Giants' kid songs, so Brody and I were looking up videos on Youtube yesterday. Inspired by their "Never Go To Work" song, I decided to write my own version (the link and real lyrics are next):

On Monday, Brody goes to preschool
On Tuesday, I coach some cheers
Wednesdays, I take Bella to AWANAS
and entertain Brody when he's near
Thursdays go alot like Tuesdays
On Fridays, we shout, "It's a wrap"
It's games all day on Saturday
Then on Sundays, we all take naps.

"Never Go to Work" by They Might Be Giants

On Mondays, I never go to work
On Tuesdays, I stay at home
On Wednesdays, I never feel inclined
Work is the last thing on my mind
On Thursdays, it's a holiday!
And Fridays I detest
Oh it's much too late on a Saturday
And Sunday is the day of rest.

Make up your own version!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oh boy! And away I go

It's true, I've been preoccupied staying with the kids home all day, every day, teaching 2nd grade subjects to my daughter, setting up playtimes with my little guy, and driving kids to preschool, cheerleading, awanas, and such.  It's been busy, but it's a good busy :-)

We're very excited to be expecting another baby boy in January.  I'm at 21 weeks, and am happy to feel lots of kicking as our new family member grows healthy and strong.  I'm ready to nest, as I shop for deals on all the basic baby gear and try to plan a nursery theme!  Brody can't wait to share a room with his brother when the baby's older.

Yes, we've picked a name, but after trying it out on a couple of people, it's generally our tradition to keep it a secret until you meet the baby- unless, of course, one of the kids blurt it out ;-)  His name will start with a "B."  Bella, Brody, and mystery "B."

With this new baby and our introduction to homeschooling, I'm entering another new part of my life journey- one where I relax  previous personal goals from my tightly clenched fists and reach for new, worthwhile ambitions concerning my family.  I may not have my bachelor's degree framed on a wall yet, but I have two smart, unique, healthy, silly, and thriving children to boast about!  I may not be an acclaimed actress, director, or published author, but I will never regret investing this time into nurturing, teaching, inspiring, encouraging, and helping my own kids succeed in their own dreams. 

It took a while for me to get here.  I fought back tears and let some spill out in confusion, disappointment, or frustration, but I don't at all feel like I am making a mistake. 

Our pastor just finished an amazing series of messages entitled "The Time of Your Life," and I walked away feeling confident that I am not wasting it. 2 kids, 3 kids, maybe 4 kids later:  they will be my greatest work and accomplishments in this life, so it makes sense to put the majority of my time, focus, and energy towards raising them.  Careers, hobbies, and degrees have been pushed down the priority list. 

Who knows where the next road will take me.  I'm sure it won't be easy.  I'm positive it will be humbling.  But in the end, I will have grown. And I know that with our wise, selfless choices, we'll see blessings along the way.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Bribe or Blunder

I don't bribe my kids very often.  I like to distract or offer something to look forward to, unless it seems like these don't work.  When we have dessert, for instance, we remind them that they have to finish "the good stuff" or they can't have any ice cream.  When we're potty training, we let them have bubble gum, skittles, m&ms, or whatever to reward their bathroom successes.  Admittedly, I have used the lollipop to keep a child quiet and buy me some time when needed.  But I have never pulled out the big bucks...until now.

This is posted on the wall in front of the potty to brainwash Brody (is there a better way to put it)?  It says "Big boys like Buzz Lightyear use the potty."  What it doesn't say is that Brody only earns those rocket ships if he poops in the potty.  If he does it 5 times he gets to bring home this:

Is he excited?  Yes.  Has he pooped in the potty yet?  No.

I'm only nervous because Brody is looking forward to going to preschool 3 mornings a week (as am I), but he has to be potty-trained first.  All of his buddies have mastered it, and he's still taking his sweet time.  We've got about 2 weeks to make this kid a potty-training graduate.

On a postitive note: the pee pee is going where it's supposed to, so it's not all a monumental failure.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First Day of Homeschool

Because everyone takes a "First Day of School" pic, here's Bella's first day of second grade (minus the backpack)!

You can read how the day went on our homeschool blog...

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

To feel something

Okay, so I'm 15 weeks pregnant, and for those of you who have asked and gotten a fuzzy answer in response, my due date is January 31st.  There.  It's in print so I don't forget again.  I'm horrible with numbers.

My baby is about the size of an apple now and is supposed to look like this:

I just wish I could feel the sweet little thing already or see him or her.  I'm ready to feel connected, like there's something to look forward to besides constant fatigue.

I'm impatient to know the gender and give this stranger a name. 

I'm full of anticipation, expectation, wonder
And it's just so hard to wait.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

The 4th thing

#1  We had a great time celebrating the 4th of July with the neighbors this week.  One day, we had some of the kids over to tie-dye t-shirts red, white, and blue, then they decorated their bikes to ride in a patriotic parade down our street today.  My amazing neighbors all got together to cook out and share food before setting off fabulous fireworks in the backyard.  It was one of those feel good days.  Happy Independence Day!

#2 My husband starts his new job this week.  We're so happy that he has the opportunity to do what he loves.  We feel very blessed.

#3  Our daughter finally rode her bike for the first time this weekend!  No more training wheels.  Her motivation was seeing her other friends master the skill, and she wanted to ride in the 4th of July parade.  Plus, we told her that whenever she did it, we'd get her a bigger bike with the money we made at a recent yard sale.  We were proud to see her so determined to succeed- and happy that her knees no longer hit the handle bars of her old bike :-)

#4 SURPRISE!  We are expecting our third baby Jan/Feb 2011, making us a family of five, crowding out the guest room, and filling up a minivan.  We couldn't be happier!

Monday, June 28, 2010

S'mores and more

This weekend, we decided to attempt a backyard campout, though the weather threatened storms and the humidity tempted us to stay inside.  It turned out to be nice.  Not too hot and rain-free.

Putting up the tent, cooking hotdogs and marshmallows over the fire, and chasing fireflies was our evening's entertainment.  The stars hid behind clouds, but there's still something wholly relaxing about lying down with nature, looking up through the tent at the sillouhettes of trees.

Both Brody (the 3-year-old) & Max (the dog) couldn't figure out why we were still outside after dark and had a hard time settling down.  Max was escorted inside for the night, because the sound of him chewing on a tennis ball was getting on our nerves.  After a round of musical sleeping bags, Brody finally calmed down too. 

Bella was the first to fall asleep and the last to wake up- right past 6:00am, which brought daylight and noisy birds (that woke ME up).  I think she's almost a teenager.  The rest of us took naps throughout the day to make up for our restless slumber, but the adventure was worth the sacrifice- and it's always nice to have a Saturday to recover :-)

Our first family campout was a success, not just because we all survived and finally fell asleep, but because we shut out the distractions, the technology, the t.v. and enjoyed each other's company.  That's a good reason to do it again.

* * * * *
Boy, have I got a week planned (plenty of blogging fodder)!

A trip or two to the pool.
A free summer movie.
Small group girls' night out.
Phantom at the Fox with Tiff.
A tie-dye party.
The children's museum.

Okay, this is what I imagined summer break to be full of- lots of friends and lots of long as I can keep my ducks in a row, stick to the calendar, and gather my supplies :-)