Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have no idea how to title this.

Remember this post about the crazy April/May schedule? Well, yes, my house is a mess! Thanks for asking. In fact, it is so bad that when I tuck my children in at night, I clear a path from their beds to the stairs just in case there is a fire and they need to get out quick in the dark!

This week was the overlap of the swimming and baseball seasons. My son only does one sport per season to keep the craziness to a manageable level, but there is always that week overlap. It happened with the basketball to baseball transition, too, and it just about does me in! There is just nothing like pulling your kid out of the pool, thrusting a bag containing his baseball uniform down to the cleats at him, pointing him towards the bathroom with strict instructions to change and bring you back his swimsuit, and then looking around and realizing half a dozen other mothers are doing the same thing! It's madness I tell you.

The power company installed a new electric meter at our house last week out of the blue and cut off our power for a short time. Since the power came back on, the digital screen and controls on our microwave won't work. There is power since the light turns on when you open the door, but you can't start the microwave. Our microwave is super old, like from the 1980s kind of old. But the problem with replacing it is that it's attached to our oven; they are all one unit (so expensive to replace)! The oven still works; it has dial controls. And honestly the past week I haven't missed heating things in the microwave, I don't do that much anyway and everything can be heated on the stove or in the oven instead, but what I do miss is the timer I used from it when I had things in the oven and the clock that you could see all around the kitchen to keep us all on track. So, I'm debating not fixing (or replacing if it can't be fixed) the microwave and instead just buying a clock and timer for my kitchen!

My 4 year old daughter had a friend over for a play date this week and those two girls literally sat at my kitchen table and did crafts for an hour! The little girl's mom has 2 girls, but her youngest child is a boy and he's still an infant, so when she arrived to pick up her daughter, I motioned to the girls at the craft table with all their sparkly, sticker-clad creations and said, "Just so you know, boy play dates look nothing like this!" Seriously, at four all my son and his friends did was run around the house tackling each other or pretending to shoot each other with anything that remotely resembled a gun!

Our master bathroom cabinets desperately need to be sanded and repainted. I'm thinking of tackling the job myself over the summer. You know, in all my free time! Somebody please point me back to #1 on this list and stop me!

It's been a week since the 5 days my mom stayed with us and I can honestly say, those of you who care for a parent with dementia full-time, I don't know how you do it! The bathtub nearly overflowed once, her keys were left in the outside of the lock on our home three times, her cell phone was misplaced two times, the refrigerator was left open about a million times (maybe it was God's provision that we were forced to get a new fridge last summer because it has an alarm so the crazy beeping alerted me to go close it rather than having the food spoil)! We'd get ready to go somewhere and she'd help my toddler into the car, begin strapping him into the car seat, but then stop, close his door and get into the front passenger seat without fully buckling him in. At least I noticed before I began driving and he's old enough to tell me when he's not buckled! I can say, though, it got easier by the end of the week once I got used to what she could do and not do and what I needed to watch out for.

How is it that May is here? Wasn't it just January?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I'm not sure I can call him a toddler anymore!

On Saturday my baby will turn 3! Only he's less like a baby every day.

And as it is for so much of parenting, it gives me conflicting emotions.

Joy at the little boy he's become and at all the things we can do together now that we couldn't when he was a baby. Yet, sadness over the loss of the baby he was, the days when I could carry him for more than a few minutes without my arm aching!

This post from last year, still pretty well describes life with my youngest boy except he is speaking a ton more clearly and I no longer buy Pop Tarts, that was one of the first processed foods I eliminated and I prepared myself in advance for morning after morning of the yelling, "Pop-Art!" over and over with me only able to say, "Sorry, we don't have any, but here is a homemade muffin." But, surprisingly he didn't really protest the loss of the "Pop-Arts"

In honor of your 3rd birthday, sweet boy, here are 13 things you love (in no particular order):

1. Meatballs!! (Every night as I fix dinner you run in the kitchen to ask, "Are we having meatballs?")

2. Your stuffed bulldog Big Duke

3. Your family

4. Playing outside

5. Using the doggie door to get outside

6. Pretending you are various animals and creatures (I'm sure nobody wondered why I was pretending to feed you flies at the park today while you pretended to be a spider on a spider web!)

7. Mud puddles

8. Scrambled eggs

9. Pickles

10. Salsa

11. Giving and getting hugs

12. Doing anything your big brother and sister are doing

13. God and Jesus (whenever I tell you how much I love you, you are quick to remind me to "say thank-you God for your babies"!)

And we do thank God for the gift of you!

Just recently at the end of one of your brother's baseball games as you stood there completely coated in muddy water, a friend said to me, "Just think how boring your life would be if you'd stopped at two kids!"

Exactly!!! Thank you for all the life you add to our lives!

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mommy-Daughter Date

My 4 year old daughter and I go on a date every Tuesday. What do our mother-daughter dates look like? Well, that picture was today.

2 cupcakes, 1 glass of milk with 2 straws, 2 hours alone with just my girl

It redefines priceless!

There is this magical, blessed bit of time every Tuesday because she gets out of preschool at noon, her big brother is at elementary school until 3pm and her little brother is at Mother's Day Out the same place she has preschool until 2pm. So from noon to 2pm it is just us girls! I have the option of letting her stay at school until 2pm for "stay & play", most of the kids stay, but she doesn't. Because she's mine, all mine during that time!

Granted Tuesdays are tiring because it means 3 different school pick-ups in addition to her ballet/tap class later in the afternoon (or swimming this time of year), but it is so worth it to have precious time alone with my sweet middle child.

A wise lady told me when I became pregnant with my 3rd child, "If you go out of your way to give attention to your middle child, you'll probably end up just about right." I've found her advice so true. The oldest automatically gets a lot of attention because everything they are doing is new and exciting. The littlest automatically gets attention because they are the baby (and in my 3rd-born's case, because they demand it, loudly!).

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday and Works for Me Wednesday.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What do you want your kids to be?

What are your goals in raising your children?
  • for them to be smart? like Harvard-bound kind of smart?
  • or a world-class athlete?
  • or a talented musician? artist?
  • to get a great job and make a lot of money someday?
  • to marry well and have cute kids?
  • to be happy?
  • to know the Bible so well they can quote large portions of the book of Numbers?
  • or is it to love Jesus, give their lives to Him, seek to follow Him, obey His course for their lives, trust Him, lean on Him in times of trouble, do hard and self-sacrificing things if it furthers His kingdom and be His lights in the dark parts of this world?
Many Christians would answer the last but what are they doing to get their kids there?

I think as a Christian parent in today's world it is easy to fall into a few traps while raising our kids.

The first I see is the success trap, believing that our kids have to be the best -- the best athlete, student, musician, whatever it is, just the best. So, we over-emphasize these things. Where in the Bible does it say that should be a priority?

The next trap I see is the over-sheltering. The kids who only have Christian friends. The ones who have the Bible fed to them often, but never get a chance to put their faith into action. The ones who know in almost a snobby sort of way that they are not "of the world" yet they are surely not in it either. Their faith doesn't grow from head knowledge to heart knowledge because they are not allowed to walk in it.

The other trap I see is allowing the kids to be too much of the world. The kids that are from "Christian families" but live lives that don't look any different than the mainstream world. Church is skipped if there is a social or sporting event that conflicts. Children are allowed to disrespect authority and get away with it. All kinds of bad language and manner of dress are allowed. Being popular, happy, and comfortable seem to be higher priorities than doing what the Bible commands.

Parenting for that last goal is a tough road for sure. I think a good first step is to love Jesus, give your life to Him, seek to follow Him, obey His course for your life, trust Him, lean on Him in times of trouble, do hard and self-sacrificing things if it furthers His kingdom and be His lights in the dark parts of this world YOURSELF and let your children see it day in and day out.

I certainly don't have all the answers or claim to be doing it all right. My husband and I are leaning heavily on the best parenting manual ever, the Bible.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Find more Tuesdays Unwrapped

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Shortage of "Not Me" Moments!

Oh, where to begin on this Not Me, Monday? (Not Me! Monday is a blog carnival created by MckMama; you can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing - but really have!).

**Hint: If you get confused, just remove the words in my post that are in all caps and you'll know the truth!**

It was NOT me who found myself in a sea of 1st graders for most of the day last Wednesday as a field trip chaperone. I have NOT decided if I had to teach elementary school 1st grade would be the grade to teach. Seriously, they were delightful -- old enough to lineup without much fuss and go to the bathroom by themselves, but not so old that they have attitudes, yet! And, one darling little boy (who wasn't even my own son) held my hand a few times just because he wanted to -- so sweet! But, I was NOT kinda sad at one point when I realized that in all the 1st grade girls, not a one had a bow in her hair, just hair bands and the occasional barrette! I have planned to be putting bows in my now 4 year old daughter's hair way beyond 1st grade and am NOT a little afraid that now I won't be getting away with that!

I did NOT have to put 4 bows in her hair today to really get in my fill now, while I can!

It was NOT me who watched my toddler perform in his Bible study musical with just the slightest bit of horror as he began the show by jumping off the step he was standing on and roaring at the crowd.

(I'll pause while you let that image really sink in.)

Then he proceeded to climb on and off the stage throughout his group's singing, nearly knocking over some of his fellow 2 and 3 year olds in the process! When it was over they asked the parents to come up to the stage to get their little ones before the older kids performed and it was NOT my husband who whispered to me, "You go. I'm not claiming him!" I did NOT have a friend tell me later she thought my son was so cute and the whole thing was so funny that I really needed a copy of her video so we could laugh at it years from now! "Yeah, YEARS from now!" I replied.

I did NOT spend a good part of Saturday watching my daughter be spit out of this caterpillar, over and over!

And Saturday night we did NOT sleep in a park near our house along with 100 of our neighbors!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

She made me jump!

My daughter came home from preschool the other day with this envelope, the same type she often brings home crafts and creations in, so I expected another piece of construction paper that had been folded numerous times to fit into an envelope with random marker letters printed on it and various brightly colored pictures.

As we walked out of school, I casually asked her what was in the envelope, she said, "Ladybugs." And still, that was not unusual. My daughter was often creating creatures out of paper at preschool. My favorite was the plastic cup full of "grub worms" which were really several small strips of paper!

So, I expected some paper ladybugs, maybe with some black and red marker drawn spots.

You can imagine my surprise when we got out to the car and I opened the envelope to find this:
A real live ladybug! (Apparently its friend had escaped or I'd have found two real live ladybugs!) She caught them on the playground during recess. Her friend Caroline helped her get them in the envelope!

After she held it my daughter agreed to a ladybug release in the backyard.

Bye, bye ladybug!

I'll never look the same at those envelopes she brings home from preschool!

Find more Finer Things Friday and Friday Funnies at Homesteader's Heart.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's that time of year!

It started a few weeks ago, the gradual bombarding.

Everywhere I went with my kids there was a flyer with specific instructions about where to be and when and sometimes what to wear or bake and bring, and of course the numerous ways I could volunteer to help out with the upcoming big event.

A field trip, an open house, an art fair, a 1st grade musical, a preschool water day, a class trip to the zoo, a field day, a friend's birthday party, another friend's birthday party, a baseball end of the season party, my child's birthday, the beginning of swim team season, a dance recital, the end of school party, the teacher gifts . . .

and on it goes. . .

I've seen other bloggers post on this so I know I'm not alone in thinking the busyness of the pre-Christmas season is nothing compared to the April/May of a mom!

Here are 13 ways I'm attempting to manage it this year:

1. I will volunteer to help with some things, but quietly pass on the sign-up sheet without writing down my name for other things (For example: yes, I will chaperone the field trip, but I will let someone else bake cookies for the open house)!

2. I will write everything down on my calendar and check it daily!

3. I will use my crock pot, nearly every night.

4. I have cooked ahead some freezer meals.

5. I have lowered my expectations about exactly how clean my house will be during this season.

6. But, will be extra-diligent about keeping up the organization systems that make things run more smoothly, like kids putting their shoes on the shoe shelf, baseball hat always on the same hook, and laundry done often before it becomes too overwhelming!

7. Nearly all the things crammed on my calendar are truly fun things, so I will attempt to live in the moment of each one, and enjoy it without worrying about what is next on the agenda.

8. For every crazy, frenzied, jam-packed day we have these next couple of months, we will have at least one day of absolutely nothing planned over the summer!

9. I will keep my camera charged.

10. I will prioritize a quiet time each day and exercise, too!

11. I will not stress that this blog post is not formatted quite as perfectly as I'd like.

12. I will lay-out clothes and pack bags the night before.

13. I will thank God for the privilege of a front-row seat to my kids' lives!

So how do you do it? Any good survival tips to share?

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A newborn's perspective on being the 3rd child

This picture is nearly 3 years old now, but oh how it captures what it is like being the 3rd child!

Can you imagine how huge my daughter's head and son's head sticking into that baby gym must have seemed to my newborn son?!!!

And you know that is a 3rd child (or 4th or 5th) because otherwise those toddlers would never have been allowed so close to that fragile newborn!

Is it no wonder that now, as soon as that 3rd child finishes breakfast every morning he begins to ask, "Who will play wif' me?"

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Inside Shoes and Outside Shoes

Want to know what works to help me keep my house cleaner?

Inside shoes and outside shoes.

Here's the issue, I have hard floor in a large portion of my house and I can't stand to walk barefoot on it for long because, well, I have 3 small kids and 1 dog so the grit? Is plentiful! And I hate that feeling of something stuck on my feet!

I know, I know, I could sweep and mop.

But an easier solution is to just wear shoes in the house!

However, if I do actually sweep and mop then I don't want to track anything in. And did I mention my kitchen tile floor is white? Yep, you heard right, white! A previous home owner's gift to me!

And so the inside shoes/outside shoes concept was born.

It's pretty simple, really. I have a pair of Crocs (super comfy!) I wear only in the house. If I go outside for any reason, even if it is just to get something out of the car, I change into "outside shoes"! And whenever I come in the house I change into my "inside shoes".

It works great!

The kids are trained to take off their shoes when they come in and the grit on their feet doesn't seem to bother them!

Now, if I could just get my husband on-board. I can't tell you how many times I've explained the inside shoes/outside shoes concept to him (I'll pause here so you have time to wish you lived with me or say "Bless his heart for putting up with her!", either way, take your time!), but he forgets and wears his inside shoes outside!

Oh, and the dog! I need to get her some outside shoes so she'll stop tracking the muddy paw prints in!

Find more Works for Me Wednesday at We are THAT Family.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Light Reading

There is always light at the end of tunnel, how often have we heard that?

When my husband and I were in Hawaii last May for our 10 year wedding anniversary we explored this cave that led to the ocean.

A tunnel of darkness ending at the brilliant, beautiful, majestic, glory of the clear, blue ocean.

The brightness of the water exaggerated by the black that preceded it.

I began this post feeling as if I related to being in the darkness of the tunnel, but having confidence that there would be light. I'm dealing with some tough stuff this week, relating to this, but facing it head-on as my mom is staying with us until Friday while her husband is out of town. It's hard, on so many different levels it's hard.

But as I looked up the following verses to go with this post,
"For God, who said, 'Light shall shine out of darkness,' is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2 Cor. 4:6

"And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:5

"And men loved the darkness rather than the light," John 3:19

"God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all." 1 John 1:5

"You yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness," Rom. 2:19

I realized I'm not in the darkness at all. Because I have Jesus I am in the light.

So how is it that things are sometimes hard here in the light?
"For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison," 2 Cor. 4:17

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Dirtier than a dog!

It's time for Not Me! Monday (a blog carnival created by MckMama; you can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing - but really have!).

**Hint: If you get confused, just remove the words in my post that are in all caps and you'll know the truth!**

It's NOT me who looked over during my 7 year old's baseball game to find my 4 year old daughter and another little sister of a boy on our team showering my toddler with water from a large mud puddle that they scooped up in a plastic water bottle they found on the ground!

And even if I did happen upon the scene of my toddler gleefully leaning his head down allowing the girls to shower him and then looking up as the muddy water ran down his hair and face, I did NOT dissolve into a fit of giggles before I could compose myself enough to tell the girls to stop.

My toddler was NOT such a gross-looking sight that I spent the rest of the game trying to pretend he wasn't my child!

A parent brought their dog with them to the game and at one point the dog nearly ran through the mud puddle but the owner stopped it just in time and I did NOT turn to my friend and say, "It's pretty bad when their dog is cleaner than my kid!"

When we got home from the game my 7 year old did NOT refuse to shower with his little brother because he didn't want any of his brother's dirt to get on him! "When you have a really dirty guy, he can't shower with a medium dirty guy." My oldest son reasoned pointing to his little brother on the "really dirty guy" part and himself on the "medium dirty guy" part!

Find more Mama Guilt Mondays here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The post that will leave you wishing you were my child!

Recently upon exiting a bathroom in my own home, I could be overheard saying:

"You must raise the seat when you go pee-pee, every time! Your sister and I and your future wife and pretty much any girl you will ever meet DO NOT LIKE SITTING DOWN ON PEE!"

to my 7 year old!

Sigh, the civilization process is long.

But, on a positive note, I have successfully trained him to put on his white underwear to go under his white baseball pants!

He will thank me someday for this wisdom! Okay, not really, but when he comes up to bat and bends over a little with his elbow up and bat back, all the parents in the 3rd base bleachers sure do!


My 4 year old daughter had a playdate at her friend Caroline's house this week and when I got there to pick her up Caroline's mom told me that my daughter had said she didn't ever want to go home, she wanted to live there forever. I questioned my daughter later and she confirmed that yes, it was true, she really did want to live at Caroline's house. "Why?" I asked. "What is it about Caroline's house that makes it so much better than ours?"

Her answer: "She has Littlest Pet Shops and a Zhu Zhu Pet."

So, there you go. My daughter's loyalties can totally be bought for the price of cheap-looking fake animals!

I told my husband the story and at dinner that night he questioned her further, "You were just joking, right? You don't really want to live at Caroline's house, do you?" She assured him she really did.

So don't think the last couple of days haven't gone like this:

Me: "You really like this Strawberry Shortcake book, right?" as I'm reading it to her.
My daughter: "Yes!"
Me: "Does Caroline have a Strawberry Shortcake book?"
My daughter: "No."
Me: "Well, wouldn't you miss your Strawberry Shortcake book if you lived at Caroline's house?"

And today when we were playing Bristle blocks and I'd built this stellar bridge

but she wanted more "big pieces" for the farm she was building. I dismantled my bridge to give her one of my big pieces and really couldn't resist the urge to say:
"I bet Caroline's mommy wouldn't do that for you."

Find more Friday Fragments, Finer Things Friday.
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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

So what do we do now?

There was a comical moment during a call with our agency caseworker several weeks ago when she was explaining some of the remaining steps in our adoption process. She said once we got on the waitlist there was a "quiet period" where you don't hear from the agency as much as when you were turning in paperwork and getting feedback on it. She began telling us all the things we could do to "pass the time" while we were waiting to be matched with a child. Then she stopped herself mid-sentence and said, "Of course, you guys have three children, I'm sure you don't need ideas for how to fill your time!"


But, even so, as we were swamped in paperwork we did begin a "to-do" list of all the things we wanted to do once we got to the green pastures of "the waitlist".

So here it is,

13 Things we hope to do over the next several months we are waiting on our referral for a child in Ethiopia:

Complete our remaining adoption training via on-line training courses.

Learn more about the Ethiopian culture

Read the book
There Is No Me Without You: One Woman's Odyssey to Rescue Her Country's Children by Melissa Fay Greene about a woman who took in hundreds of AIDS orphans in Ethiopia.

Read the stack of books we have on parenting an adopted child and trans-racial adoption.

Eat at the nearby Ethiopian Restaurant.

Learn to cook some Ethiopian foods.

Do more research on caring for and styling African hair

Continue cleaning out our home to get ready for a 4th child to live here.

Learn to speak Amharic (the official language of Ethiopia) - a lofty goal, I know, we are aiming high with the realization that we'll probably only learn 10 words! But hey, we know 2 already! Passport and credit card are pronounced the same in English and Amharic!

Start an adoption support group at our church (we've joined one at a different church, but strongly believe there should be one at our home church, too)

Get passports for our 3 children and make countless pros & cons lists regarding if we should take any of them with us on either of our 2 trips to Ethiopia and which combination of kids to take (no kids, only oldest, oldest 2, or all 3)!

Pray for God's perfect timing and provision over our referral, court, and travel steps!

Pray for God to comfort, care for and protect our little girl in Ethiopia until we can bring her home!

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Email Worth Cheering About

If you heard loud cheering coming from Texas this afternoon, it was us getting word from our adoption agency that we are officially on the waitlist to adopt a little girl from Ethiopia!

Six months worth of paperchase is over! Oh, happy day!

Praise God! It was all Him, remember my fingerprints weren't even classifiable.

We are requesting a girl age 0 to 30 months old. Babies under 12 months are in much higher demand, so we anticipate being matched with a toddler. The average wait time with our agency before being matched with a child over 12 months old is 5 months, then after the referral (or match) we'll have 2 to 5 months before we travel for our court date in Ethiopia and get to meet our child, then we'll travel back to Ethiopia again about 6 weeks after that to bring her home. So, we still have a good 10 months or so, give or take a few months, before we bring our new daughter home. But we are very excited and relieved to be through with all the paperwork, and on to the next phase!

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Their Selfless Love Amazes Me!

He was the most active of my three children in the womb, my 3rd child. His jabs and kicks and rolls were always making his presence there in my belly known. He was also the biggest baby of my three, born weighing 8 lbs 7 oz.

My doctor and I worried he'd be too early, his older sister came 3 weeks early when my water broke. So I was tested for preterm labor risk a few different times. He wasn't early, staying in there right up until the morning of his due date.

For 40 weeks I carried that child, longer than the 39 weeks of his brother and 37 weeks of his sister. He was a part of me; a very known and loved person before I ever saw him face-to-face.

He was born with the umbilical cord tightly wrapped around his neck. He was very blue and not breathing.

I knew my Ob. well, she delivered my other kids, she was always so calm and comforting. I'll never forget hearing her say to the nurses that day, "Somebody call Neo.! Somebody call Neo.!" Her voice was forceful and urgent, like I'd never heard before, as she worked on my boy, squeezing the oxygen bag attached to the face mask against his little mouth.

Neonatal intensive care came and took my baby away and my Ob. came to my side to check on me. All I wanted to know was, "Is my baby going to be okay?" As a mother herself, she understood, I'd be okay once I knew my baby was okay. So, she went to find out.

She returned a few minutes later and let me know that he was fine, crying and his color was coming back. They brought him back to me just a couple minutes later. Aside from looking a little "rough" for the 1st 24 hours with blue bruising around his mouth and nose, there were no lingering issues associated with my little guy's traumatic first few minutes of life. And actually the cord being wrapped around the baby's neck is a common occurrence, and wasn't really even medically significant.

But, I will never forget what it felt like to have carried a baby, loved a baby, bonded to a baby for 40 weeks and then have him suddenly gone. Thankfully it was only for a few minutes.

But for some mothers who give their babies up for adoption, if they decide not to see or hold the child, their baby is taken away right after birth and never returned.

I cannot imagine how empty those mothers must feel.

As we are in the process of adopting a child, I think often of birth mothers. I think in our society mothers who give their babies up for adoption are negatively stereotyped, but I know they are an example of amazing strength and selfless love.

Because in those moments after birth the choice to parent that baby has got to be much easier than the choice not to.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
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To eat or not to eat?

For Not Me! Monday (a blog carnival created by MckMama; you can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing - but really have!) I thought I'd confess something about my parenting:

I do NOT occasionally allow my children to eat off the floor (or ground).

My rules around this are NOT so gray that my older children will drop something and then ask me if they can eat it!

These are NOT some of the guidelines I follow regarding allowing my children to eat dropped food:

  • Food dropped on the kitchen floor shortly after it's been mopped -- go ahead and eat it!
  • Food dropped on the kitchen floor when it really, really needs to be mopped -- don't eat it!
  • Food dropped outside in the grass - yeah, just pick off the grass and eat it.
  • Food dropped outside in the dirt or mulch - don't eat it!
  • Food dropped in the service station while the car is getting a "15 minute oil change" that has now taken 45 minutes, I am nearly out snacks and the toddler's exhausted the very few things I brought to entertain him - eat the food, that is the least of my worries right now!
  • Food dropped anywhere in McDonalds - Gross! Don't eat it!
I had this scenario just last week and discovered a new rule (the one I'm now most proud of)
  • Food dropped someplace I deem "clean enough" - eat it!
  • Food dropped someplace I deem "clean enough" but I see another adult looking at my kid - "No, don't eat that off the floor! It's dirty!" I say to my child not because I'm really worried about them eating the food but just to avoid being labeled a "bad parent".

Happy Monday, everyone!

Find more Mama Guilt Mondays here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Party With a Side of Some Chaos

Ultimate Blog Party 2010I'm so glad our Valentine's balloon is still stuck up in the highest ceiling point in our house, because it's time for the annual 5 Minutes for Mom's Ultimate Blog Party and my home is already decorated! Oh, the wonder and joy of helium! Two months and it is still going strong!

Come right in, we're thrilled you stopped by! Don't mind the mess. There's a toddler in the house, so that ought to explain the thousands of popcorn kernels you may find on the kitchen floor.
And the powder coating every surface in the toddler's bedroom!
To introduce ourselves, we have 3 biological kids ages 7, 4, and 2 years old and are in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia.

So what's up with the name? Is it really chaos?

Well, aside from the popcorn kernels and the powder, there's no telling what you'll find in the potty.

And the first day of school sometimes involves breaking and entering into your own home!

Teeth have been known to fall out and we actually expect to lose at least 46 more in the next 5 to 7 years!

There's often a costumed character or 2 or 3 hanging around!

At least we have superheros to come to the rescue!

And a live-in cleaning crew!

Which is a good thing because the messes? Are plentiful!

But so is the fun!

This blog is about sharing the crazy journey God has us on -- the messes, the fun, the joy, the pain, the struggles, the crafts (for the uncrafty, of course), the occasional cooking from scratch, the attempt to live frugally for a greater purpose, the learning, the loving. The chaos! But, as the Sanctus Real song says, "It feels like chaos, but somehow there's peace." The peace comes from the only thing truly good about our home, and that is Jesus. I am so glad that He's "up to something bigger than me"!

So what do you say? Would you like a front row seat for the chaos? Click over in my sidebar to become a follower! Thanks for joining our party!

Y'all come back now, ya' hear? (Did I mention we live somewhere in Texas?)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Logistical Issues of Having 3 Kids

Recently I blogged here about having 3 kids, and said it was a topic I could go on and on about. So consider this a continuation. I am really so thankful to have 3 kids and to have them fairly close in age, the positives definitely out-weigh the negatives.

But, that being said, there are some logistical issues inherent to having 3 (or more) kids. Many of the issues surprised me and I never would have thought of them before actually having a 3rd child.

13 Logistical Issues About Having 3 or more kids:

1. 3 car seats may not fit in your vehicle
This is not as easy as it may seem, many back seat rows are not wide enough. If you have a 3rd row in your vehicle you will now need to use it to accommodate a child and if you have a smaller SUV, once the 3rd row is up there may be no room for groceries or even a stroller in the back. This is where you may (like us) find yourself suddenly on the market for a vehicle with a 3rd row that can be partially folded down. I became very familiar with the terms "50-50" split and "60-40" split (meaning part of the 3rd row could be a seat and part flat for cargo)!

2. Many restaurant tables are set up for families of 4.
You may have to wait longer to get a table big enough for your family of 5.

3. You are going to clock many, many years at your local elementary school!
Even before we signed up for a 4th child (the one we're adopting from Ethiopia) I was staggered the day I did the math and figured out we'd have a child at our elementary school for 10 years! Good thing we really like the school, the principal and the teachers!
4. You may need a whole 'nother level of babysitter (or consider hiring 2).
Things are more manageable now, but there was a time when we had a 4 year old, a 2 year old, and an infant and you can't just leave that combination with the high school girl down the street while you go out for the evening! For our very occasional date nights, we began using a lady who is a full-time nanny for someone else during the day (so basically a professional caregiver who would be up to the challenge of our 3)!

5. Many hotel rooms have a maximum of 4 occupants and that includes kids.
So once your 3rd child is more than an infant you may have to look to adjoining rooms or a suite.
6. The Schedule!
Playdates, practices, recitals, field trips, teacher conferences, school open houses, birthday parties, lessons, doctor appointments ALL TIMES 3!! It is enough to make you nuts. You limit each kid to 1 outside activity, say "no" to any unnecessary commitments, keep a really good family calendar, try to schedule doctor and dentist appts. with all 3 kids together (But beware, the pediatrician's exam room suddenly feels really small and really loud when you are in it with your 3 kids plus the doctor!) And for the most part, you just embrace the crazy!

7. It will take at least 10 minutes to "load up" your vehicle every time you go somewhere.
Just getting 3 kids strapped into the vehicle takes a while and then you have to allow for the lost shoes and last minute needs for drinks to go or a trip to the potty!

8. Your grocery cart is full of kids and there's no room for groceries!
If your kids are spaced close together and your oldest is still under 5, you will want them all to ride if you have any hope of getting shopping done. I became an expert on which stores around me offered the carts with a baby seat as well as the 2 plastic seats near the front for older kids.
9. It takes a lot of groceries to feed 3 kids.
Once all 3 of your kids are drinking milk, you will go through massive quantities in a week. We use 5 or 6 gallon jugs in a week for our family of 5! I've got a system in our fridge where I can store 6 jugs so I don't have to go to the store more than once a week!

10. Serving meals for 5 people takes more time than you think!
Just dishing up 5 different plates takes some time, and then if you have little kids you have to cut 3 different plates of meat.

11. Safety
When you are one adult and you take 3 young, mobile children to the park, it is impossible to keep your eyes on all 3 at once! You must keep watch like a tennis match the best you can from one child to the other. Dressing them in matching clothes really helps here! And crossing parking lots you only have 2 hands. So you teach them to hold each other's hands or I have been known to hold 2 kid hands in one of my hands before!

12. Visiting at friends' houses
Even having my 3 kids fairly close together, there is still a pretty big difference from my oldest to my youngest and occasionally it is challenging to visit friends who only have kids at one end of the age spectrum. If someone only has older kids, your baby or toddler is going to be pretty out of place in their home that now is not baby-proofed and only has toys for older kids. Alternatively, if your friend only has little ones, your oldest may be the strange, big, rough, older kid in a room full of babies!
13. 3 Kids = a lot of stuff
If you don't already, once you have 3 kids you will need to keep your clutter-control tactics on high-alert. The volume of clothes, toys, paperwork, crafts, birthday party loot bags, etc. that will need to be managed is mind-boggling. No more saving every piece of artwork that comes home from Sunday School!

Okay, I'm really worried this all sounded too negative. Did I mention how much fun it is having 3 kids?!!!!

Find more Thankful Thursday, Thursday Thirteen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Egg Hunting Farm-Style

What? Doesn't everyone hunt for Easter eggs in tractor wheels?

My husband's family has a farm one state away from us and we big city dwellers head there for a big family gathering and egg hunt every Easter.

Tractors make great egg hiding spots! Look closely, in addition to the blue egg there's a camo egg hidden under the wheel.

Find more Wordless or Wordful Wednesday.

As parents we need all the help we can get!

"Feel free to keep the toys you clean up."

"Would you like to leave the park in 2 minutes or 3 minutes?"

"We will play that game as soon as you put your shoes away."

"I'll listen when your voice is as calm as mine."

These phrases and others like them have completely and utterly saved my sanity when dealing with my kids. I learned them in a book.

I've read many books through the years relating to parenting, but the book that has helped the most is
Parenting with Love and Logic by Foster Cline and Jim Fay. I highly recommend this book and the Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood.

The parenting philosophy presented in the books makes sense and the techniques really work.

The keys are to remain calm (and I've found when you have a strategy for dealing with behavior it really makes it easier to be calm) and to follow through.

For example, I used the first phrase above, "Feel free to keep the toys you clean up." with my 7 year old who has gotten in the habit of just moving around a couple toys and not really putting anything away when asked to clean his room. I said it in a very calm, matter of fact way and was completely ready to pack up the toys that he didn't put away and put them in the garage for a while. It is a logical consequence because if he cannot put away his toys by himself then he probably has too many toys to be responsible for. But, you know what? It worked! He actually cleaned them all up! First time in a long time he's done it without more of a fight, but also was the first time I phrased the request in a Love and Logic fashion. (I have to re-read the book often to stay on top of my parenting game!)

I heard from a teacher recently who uses the Love and Logic approach with her class. She said her favorite tactic is when the kids get too loud in line as she walks them through the hallways, she stops and simply says, "I'll continue when you're quiet." She said it is amazing how quickly the kids stop talking. She knows from experience that barking idle things like, "Quiet!" or "Who's talking?!" would just be ignored and would only succeed in getting her upset.

I was really happy to hear that teachers are now adopting this great method of interacting with kids!

**This is not a paid endorsement. I genuinely have, read, and use these books. But, if you purchase a book through my link or store, I will receive a small portion of the sale.**

Find more Works for Me Wednesday here.

Monday, April 5, 2010

I may need to borrow some mountain climbing gear.

Last week brought some hard news. My mom, who has been struggling with short-term memory issues for well over a year now, received a diagnosis of dementia with Lewy bodies.

I had never heard of the disease, but apparently it is not rare and is the 2nd leading cause of dementia behind Alzheimer's. Lewy body dementia (LBD) is like a combination of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's with progressive degradation of cognitive and motor abilities. There is no cure.

My mom is fairly young for such a disease at age 60. Currently her symptoms are mostly mild (although she has been unable to work for a year due to them), and we hope that the disease will progress slowly for her, but there is no way to know. The average survival rate is 5 to 7 years after symptoms develop with most patients being unable to care for themselves in the last few years.

I spent the first hours after hearing her diagnosis grieving over what may become of my mom's mind and body, grieving over what she has already lost, and fearing the day she will be unable to care for herself.

After the grief came the "I don't want to." And that's basically what I told God. "You know God I'm hearing that you want to lead me down this path with my mom's diagnosis, but I don't want to go!" Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, my mom struggled off and on with manic depression which led her to bouts of alcoholism and prescription drug abuse, so I told God, "You know I think I've paid my dues caring for my mom." "And I have young kids, Lord. I don't want to be a part of the 'Sandwich Generation' caring for both a parent and kids."

But then something else began to wash over me. God allowed me to remember a Beth Moore Bible study I'd done ages ago (Believing God, maybe, sorry I did several of her studies during a 3 year period and am not sure which it came from). She talked about Matthew 17:20, where Jesus says, "if you have faith as a mustard seed, you shall say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there,' and it shall move; and nothing shall be impossible to you." Beth Moore's message was that when God gives you mountains in life sometimes you say "move" and He does, but sometimes He doesn't move it and He wants you to climb that mountain and see Jesus transfigured (as the disciples did in Matt 17:1-21) on top of it!

When I was diagnosed with cancer (lymphoma) nearly 6 years ago, I definitely went through the "I don't want to" phase and began referring to it as my "reluctant journey" with cancer. But during all the tests and waiting on results and then waiting to repeat the tests over 3 months to see just how bad it was, I got to a peace, a place with God where I could honestly say, "Okay, God, if you want me to climb this mountain, I will, but I am anticipating that I will see you transfigured on the top of it."

As it turned out, God moved that mountain before I even began treatment! He moved it so far off the horizon, in fact, that I don't even have to go in for check-ups with the hematologist.

I am well aware that God can move this Lewy Body Dementia so far from my mom that she, her husband, my brother, and I never have to deal with its ugliness.

But, I also know He may want us to climb that mountain instead, so He can reveal Himself in a huge new way.
Either way I'm trusting Him.

This post is part of the Moms' 30-Minute Blog Challenge.
Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Find more Tuesdays Unwrapped

Waffle Sandwiches and Blue Milk

It's Not Me! Monday (a blog carnival created by MckMama; you can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have NOT been doing - but really have!)

This past week I was NOT too lazy to make homemade bagels or bread and too stubborn to go to the store to buy any since those are items on the list of things I no longer buy pre-made, so when it came time to pack lunch for my 1st grader I certainly did NOT toast a frozen waffle, spread it with Nutella, and consider it a sandwich! NOT ME!!

And on the subject of strange food, for an April Fool's joke on my kids, I did NOT turn the milk in the jug blue with food coloring and then pour it in their cups for dinner!

My kids actually loved it that way and drank all their milk that night! I'm NOT considering coloring the milk more often!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Find more Mama Guilt Mondays here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

His or Ours?

For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 1 Peter 1:18-19

Jesus paid His life for yours and mine.

Our lives are not our own.

Are we living like that is true?

Or is it our time, our money, our energy, and our gifts to spend as we want?

Should our lives be spent increasing our kingdoms or His?

Is this earthly life all about our goals, our comfort, and our happiness?

Are the children who live in our homes ours or His? Should we be raising them as we see fit or according to His will so they will be His lights in this dark world?

This Good Friday I'm reminded anew that my life is not my own.

The challenge each day is to live that out!

Find more Friday Fragments