Monday, June 30, 2014

In or Out?

Compare life to just ten years ago. Yes, we had cell phones, but they weren't 
quite the seeming necessity they are now. It's not just cell phones that are
our constant companions, there are any number of "devices" one might
consider their life line to the outside world. 

Now go back twenty or even thirty years (if you haven't been alive that long,
use your imagination), how things have changed, for the better in many ways,
but not in others. The advancement of technology, while beneficial has brought 
new concerns to parenting. 

When I was a kid, we had no gaming devices, were allowed one hour of 
TV per day, and were ordered outside daily. The backyard became another
world, and our imaginations went wild. Household chores weren't even
safe from being exactly what they were. I can't remember all the details
(although I'm sure my younger sister would), but for example, one would
be Cinderella toiling away, the other an evil step sister demanding 
perfection. 

It's all too easy to "plug in," to a device, whether a game or some form of 
social media, and escape reality for a while. It's seems to me, however,
that too many may be plugged in too often and too long. And although
one may envision a younger individual with a device seemingly surgically
attached, I fear it spans all age groups. 

Now please don't misunderstand. Social media sites and games aren't 
by any means evil, but they do tend to be addicting. I noticed this in 
myself a while back, I had to check Twitter multiple times per day. My
day started with checking Facebook to be sure I hadn't missed anything.
While social media are a great resource and way to stay connected to 
friends and family near and far, my caution is that they are not the only  
connection. Let's be sure to have conversations whether on the phone
or face to face, to have play time with our kids, to go on dates with our
spouses (no phones/devices allowed). I'm talking about face time, eye 
to eye, heart to heart, connecting to those closest to us. Yes, I'm speaking
to myself as well. 

I challenge myself and you. If we must "plug in," let's plug into our 
families. If we must escape, let's escape into our backyard and get lost 
in a big bug safari. Let's remember the wisdom of our parents, banishing 
us to the backyard. Let's be aware of those around us and take the time 
to make a difference in their lives. Let's not just be, but be present
investing ourselves in our loved ones. Are you in, or are you out? 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Is that in my Job Description?

Write... right? It's been about 11 months since my last post. There's been 
much more hurrying than writing of late. The last year I decided to break for 
a bit, realizing that this mama has her limits. However now I'm craving the 
creative process. I'm hoping to post again on more of a regular basis. 

The biggest news now is that my baby is turning two tomorrow. What?! How
did that happen? Life has been crazy, but it's been good. I love my family,
even when I feel like I need a therapy session after a long day of he said, 
she said, the toddler did... , I wouldn't trade it for the world. I remember an
old movie we watched when I was growing up when a main character 
responded to concerns of fatigue by stating, "I'm blessed with work." In the
same way, I'm blessed with motherhood and all the crazy things that go 
along with it. 

Yesterday, I was recounting all the things I had done that day to my husband,
which included (but not limited too) picking up dog poo in the yard (not in my 
job description or the agreement when we adopted our beloved pooch), 
cleaning up bird poo off of the slides in the back yard, killing a huge, probably 
pregnant spider on the play set, sweeping spider webs off the swings, and 
removing an egg sack of some kind off the baby slide. He looked at me with
all seriousness and stated, "So you were a mom." Now all the spider and
spider web stuff was a big deal for me, because I don't like bugs of any kind.
I felt a bit minimized, but that's not how Jason intended it to come across. 
No, in my mind all that went above and beyond normal motherly duties. I 
wanted a bit of extra recognition. But I guess he was right (hopefully he 
doesn't read this), all the above goes along with taking care of your kids, 
loving them enough to do things you despise. I heard someone somewhere 
say that motherhood can be summed up by one word, wiping. But it's really 
why we do all the wiping. Love. Thanks to my mom and grandma for all the 
"wiping" they did, shaping our families with love. 

With this weekend being Memorial Day and having served in the USAF,
I thank the Lord for all our current, former, and retired military members 
who so selflessly serve/d our country. Thank you and God Bless you all. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Diaper Run

A couple months ago I experienced a motherhood moment I'm sure
I'll never forget. For obvious reasons, I avoid stores when all three
children are with me like the plague. One day, I couldn't ignore the 
fact that my potty-training resistant 3 year old only had a couple
pull-ups left. I strategized which store would be the best to run into
to pick up a pack. I ran out of time before I had to pick my 5 year
old up from preschool, so I would be forced to that which I dreaded.
But which store would be the best for minimal fiascoes? 

After much contemplation, I decided that the local CVS would be it.
It was on the correct side of the road so as to not have to cross 
traffic upon leaving, it was a smaller store (which would be a 
benefit if a child decided to bolt), and it had an easy-to-find things
layout. 

I decided against putting the baby in the stroller, after all, I would 
only be in the store for a couple minutes. With baby on hip, the
3 year old holding my hand, and the 5 year old holding onto my
purse, we entered the store. Immediately, I could see the baby 
section was in the right rear section of the store. We ventured 
down the center aisle, but each row end contained some trinket
desirable to the little ones. Oohs, and ahs continued until
we finally arrived at the last row which contained the diapers.

I realized the 3 year old had continued to the back of the store
which had a rack of toy dye-cast cars. No problem, I can divert
them away to the destination. With a reminder  that we were 
not there for toys but for pull-ups, I managed to steer them 
towards the goal, which quickly turned into pulling multiple 
packs of diapers of various sizes and designs off the racks.
I directed the ambitious one toward the correct size and style
of pull-up, and he was quite pleased with himself for choosing
the correct diaper. 

I thought I was in the clear until we headed back down the center
aisle and both older kids started asking for rubber duckies, new 
hair ties, and various small toys. I was barely able to keep them
with me, but we finally made it up to the checkout area. Yeah! Then it
happened. 

This was a couple weeks after Easter, so there were multiple barrels
of discount Easter candy. The children's eyed bulged. Before I had
a chance to intervene, the elder one dipped her had into a barrel
of cadbury eggs. Could she have one? At least she asked, but
the answer was still no. My little lovelies + sugar = disaster. The 
younger had his eye on the prize, threw the pull-ups over his shoulder,
and didn't hesitate to plunge his little hand down into the treasure 
trove of sugary delight and proceeded to unwrap the candy as quickly 
as his fumbling fingers would allow. 

"James, no!" I warned. His eyes met mine, his tiny jaw clenched, 
and he was off! Top speed, his little legs carried him as fast and 
they could go, which was pretty fast. 

Before I had a moment to respond, my 5 year old yelled, "I'll head
him off!" Great, now both my children were on the run! Baby still
on hip I trotted down the aisles searching for the escapee. A couple 
of times he would see me as he started down an aisle and then 
doubled back the other way. Finally, I met him mid way down an
aisle. He stopped short of my reach and moved the candy egg behind
his back. 

In the distance, his big sister inched closer up behind him. Unaware
of her presence, he continued to back up slowly. I made sure my 
eyes did not give her away. Then triumph, "I've got it!" she shouted
proudly as she held up the prize.

Defeated, the 3 year old reluctantly held my hand as we returned
to the front of the store to check out. We had attracted quite a few
stares, something I'm immune to now. I picked up the abandoned
pack of pull-ups and rejoined the check out line as my lovelies 
decided a game of tag around the barrels of candy would be 
acceptable. I sighed in exhaustion. Then I heard a voice behind me,
"It's only a season." I nodded and smiled. 

Only a season. A season of crazy chaos, wild adventures in 
parenting, delightful dreams of princesses and pirates, little
arms giving huge hugs, little lips bestowing sweet kisses. A
season that will be over all too quickly. A season that must be
enjoyed and lived to the fullest, despite disastrous diaper runs.


Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Life Gives You Broken Eggs...

A couple weeks ago, I was making my three year old lunch. His favorite
is peanut butter and jelly, which is easy enough. It was the time of week
when the pantry tends to be more empty than usual, as I needed to make 
a  trip to the grocery store. I now avoid taking all three children to the store 
at any cost for good reason (as you will see in my next post). 

I was spreading the peanut butter to perfection when I heard a small 
gruff voice behind me, "Mommy, I hungry." SPLAT, SPLAT, SPLAT,
SPLAT! I turned and saw the last four eggs broken on the kitchen floor.
I wasn't that upset with my little man, the look of horror on his face
must have mirrored mine as he held a partially opened carton of eggs. 
He knew it wasn't good. I reassured him all was well, but next time to
ask mommy for help. 

Instantly my brain raced with ideas of how I could utilize what was left
of the eggs. I dislike wasting food. Pancakes! It hit me like a lightning 
bolt (without the pain of electrocution). I swung open the pantry door to 
find no pancake mix. Of course there wasn't any! I wondered if I could 
make my own. Yes, after a quick Internet search, I found a basic recipe 
that involved flour, baking soda, baking powder and sugar. Was that all 
that pancake mix is? Why do I buy it in a box? I added some cinnamon 
to the mix and some organic blueberries and strawberries I had in the 
freezer (I cut the strawberries into small pieces). I spent the rest of the 
afternoon frying up pancakes. It took a little while since I made a double 
recipe. We enjoyed berry pancakes the next three mornings. My children
loved it (pancakes are usually reserved for Saturday mornings).

There are many times in life when things happen beyond our control,
from broken eggs to more serious matters. Instead of dwelling on
what's broken (which is what we all tend towards), let's figure out how to 
use what we have to make something good. In this wild ride called life, 
it's to our benefit to roll with the punches, and when life gives us broken 
eggs... make pancakes! 


Monday, April 1, 2013

Good Bye, Nap Time


Recently I've experienced the loss of a dear friend, nap time. Through
the years we've had our differences, such as leaving me for a week 
long vacation without any notice, but it would always return, usually 
penitent for the chaos its absence caused. A few weeks ago, both of my 
older children decided, whether independently or collaboratively I don't 
know, that nap time was a thing of the past. I had managed for quite a 
few months to get all three to nap in the afternoon at the same time, 
ensuring a couple hours of serenity, time to work on writing, sneak a 
scoop or two of chocolate ice cream, catch up on a TV show that my 
husband wouldn't watch, attempt workout, or make a valiant effort 
with the mountains of laundry waiting for me in the basement

I feel unbalanced in adjusting to this new world of constant play. The 
children have responded to bleary eyed afternoons in different ways. 
My eldest (5) turns into a 17 year old with the attitude to match, and 
my 3 year old, despite being as tough as a mini linebacker, emotionally 
wilts like any unfortunate plant condemned to my house. And so late 
afternoons have been quite a challenge.  

The balancing act called motherhood is a constant learning process.
Nap time used to be instrumental in aiding that balance, and now
my equilibrium is recalibrating itself. I find myself searching for 
strategies that will bring order to afternoon chaos. The TV has
been on much more than I'd like lately. 

Yesterday I ordered the sleep deprived sweeties to their room with 
the instructions that they are to either look at books or play with 
puzzles. 30 seconds later I heard banging, pounding and screaming. 
I marched up and found them wrestling each other down to the 
ground. In itself not bad, but my 3 year old has gotten in trouble at pre-
school for not being gentle enough with his classmates, so rough 
housing is not allowed for right now. I had to put on a tough demeanor, 
put them to the tasks I had instructed, and amazingly they were quiet 
until dinner was ready. Again I'm reminded that I need to be the mom 
that is best for my children, not the funnest or the coolest, just the best 
for them. 

Although I feel nap time abandoned me without warning (or maybe 
I had ignored the warning signs in denial), I need to stop mourning
its departure and move on. I love the motto of the animated movie
Meet the Robinsons, "Keep moving forward." With God's grace,
that's exactly what I'll do!

Monday, December 17, 2012

The Tree Hunt

A couple weekends ago I became acutely aware of how sweet motherhood 
is. It's easy to get caught up in the go, go, go (and not as is Diego) and the 
do, do, do of it all, easy to lose sight of what's important, of what really counts. 
Sure the tantrums are tough and the defiance from the five year old brings to 
mind a scene of a classic stand off between a parent and their teen. But we're 
in the business of bringing amazing individuals from baby to child to adult. I'm 
convinced it's the most difficult and rewarding job there is. 

That weekend we drove an hour with our little crew and cut down our
own Christmas tree at a tree farm. Unseasonably warm, it was a great
day to be out with the kids. Our tiniest family member to needed to be 
nursed as soon as we arrived, and of course a massive poopie blowout
followed. With my car seat as a makeshift changing table, I struggled to
keep my six month old from squirming off the seat, desperately tried
to avoid smearing poop somewhere it shouldn't be, and braced myself
against the car door, which the wind attempted to force close. Once the 
wind got the better of me, and the door frame clunked against my temple.

Where was my dear husband and darling children? They were off exploring 
the tree farm and deciding what kind of tree they wanted. My husband's
expression was both questioning and relieved when he saw me trudge 
up the hill toward them. I explained the poopie episode, wind fight, and 
the bump on my head (I forgot to mention the struggle with the baby sling
I had just bought, couldn't get it nearly as tight as it was supposed to be.
It had seemed so easy in the store!). I received a sympathetic look and 
we proceeded with our small band of (what was it that day?), oh yes,
Christmas tree hunters (it could've been pirates, tigers, cowboys, or
bunny rabbits), that day we were all simply Christmas tree hunters, on
a mission to find the perfect tree. 

The children hopped, jumped, ran, and danced their way between the 
trees. A few were too short, a few too misshapen, a couple too tall. It 
had to be just right. Clearly the farm had been picked over a bit, and 
the drought from the summer was evident in branches colored a lighter
green to light brown. We wove our way through the small, symmetrical
forest until we stumbled upon a good contender, nicely shaped and a 
perfect height. Although not as green as I'd like, it was our tree. The 
children shouted their approval, out came the borrowed saw, and down
came our tree. There were a few shoves to claim who would pull the 
small plastic sled carrying the tree first, but after a stern scolding, a 
reminder to share, and apologetic hugs and kisses, we were off again.
Back by a small barn-like structure to pay for our prize, the children
attempted to befriend everyone who happened by and introduced them
to our tree. 




On our way home, I reflected over our little excursion and watched 
the children slowly become calm and glassy-eyed as nap time 
approached. Although a touch stressful at times, how sweet this time
had been. Letting our kids be kids, enjoying each of their personalities, 
loving every bit of who they are, and appreciating that God gave them
to us is what I took from that afternoon. 

Life happens so quickly. Let's enjoy every moment with our families,
always love and forgive each other, and always cherish what God has
given us.





Monday, October 15, 2012

Busted by Brownie

To say that I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. I prefer 
chocolate to any other form of sweet. I'm guilty of sneaking a piece
of cocoa goodness behind my children's backs more often than
I'd care to admit, but anyone who knows my kiddos, can testify
that the last thing they need is sugar. 

This last weekend I made a couple batches of homemade 
super dark brownies. Unfortunately neither were for myself. One
batch was for a baby shower at work, and the other was for
a friend who's a new mom again. I did hold back a few pieces from
the baby shower batch for myself... I mean my family. On Saturday
morning, after working late the night before, my husband informed
me that he had eaten two of the last four pieces of brownie due to
a stressful evening alone with the children the night before. "The 
last two are in there (the fridge), and are all yours... ," he reassured me. 

After lunch, the older two kids were playing elsewhere in the house,
and I was chatting with my husband in the kitchen. The thought of 
yummy brownies propelled me towards the fridge. The children were 
immersed in some type of pretend play scenario, so it would be 
safe to discreetly eat one of my brownies. 

I carefully unwrapped the tin foil, took my first bite, and there she 
was, my five year old, who has a sweet tooth just as big as mine, wide- 
eyed, mouth running a mile a minute about something. I didn't hear 
a word. I was frozen, brownie in hand, hoping that she hadn't 
noticed. Maybe if I didn't move, it would be okay. The longer I 
remained there, the more I realized I had to get the brownie out of 
sight before it was too late. With my lil' lovely still rambling about
some obviously important issue, I slowly lowered my hand to 
the counter, behind an enormous jar of peanut butter. I refrained
from chewing and shifted the morsel to my cheek like a squirrel. 

Just when I thought I was in the clear, the chattering slowed and 
I heard her ask, "What's that?"

"What?" 

"What are you eating, Mom?" she reiterated. I was busted.

"Oh, you want a bite of my brownie?" I asked, knowing full well
what the answer would be.

Her little eyes lit up and the corners of her mouth turned upward, 
revealing her dimples. She relished every little bite, just like her 
Mommy. After sharing the brownie, I quickly wrapped the last one 
in tin foil and returned it to the fridge. 

Guess what I had as soon as the kids were in bed that night?