Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Having 3 Kids is LOUD!

Something big 2008 taught us --having 3 little kids is LOUD! 

Our 5 year-old literally talks non-stop.  It is the background noise of our home.  To compensate, when our 3 year-old has something to say, she says it loudly.  If she wasn’t our kid with ear tubes and thus hearing tested often, we’d think she was hard of hearing! 

And for all our 1 year-old's physical earliness (walking at 8 months!) he was barely saying an understandable word at 18 months.  He used the “monkey language” of “AHH–AHH!” with wild gesturing to get his points across.  Our pediatrician assured us not to worry and it was likely a result of having 2 older siblings who talk over and for him.  His big sister has been known to say, “I will show him which one he wants!”  Now at 19 months, he is finally truly talking and even said his first phrase recently, “Don’t touch!”  Do you think he’s heard that once, twice, or two thousand times?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It Will Save Your Sanity Shoe Organization

Updated to add: Now that I have more blogging experience, here is the link to the shoe shelf we have.

If you have more than 2 children, you must implem
ent some sort of shoe organizational system near your back door. Do not underestimate the difficulty in finding 6 shoes (8 if you include your own) any time you want to leave the house. The purchase of a shoe shelf/coat rack with 3 cubbies and training the children to use it may be our best move of 2008!

The shelf we have is from LL Bean Home (I know, I didn't know they had furniture at LL Bean, either!). It is their "painted cottage locker" and is very reasonably priced at just over $329. I promise I am not intending (nor do I get compensated) to advertise for LL Bean, but I'm trying to help out other moms because we're all busy and you might as well benefit from my experience! We bought it on the internet and I'd give you a link to the site and product if I knew how to do that, but I haven't figured it out yet. I am doing good to have included a photo for you; I'll save researching how to add links another day! Anyway, back to the Cottage Locker. It is great because the hooks are low down. The whole thing is only a little over 4 ft. tall, so that gives you reference about where the hooks fall. So, even your 3 year-old should be able to hang up her coat! Before finding this one, we looked at the locker type shelving at Pottery Barn, and aside from being much more expensive, the hooks are way higher up.

I added the Container Store extra shelves at the bottom of each locker to hold more shoes. Notice my boys get away with one shelf, thus being able to hold their 2 pairs of shoes, but my daughter's cubby needed a little more room! Count them up, 5 pairs of shoes!! For a person that will outgrown them in a few months, crazy! But, give me a break, she is my only girl!!

I'm not sure if this was a good decision, but I didn't order the LL Bean baskets that fit in the top cubbies, because the style didn't really match my house. I planned to get different baskets somewhere else, but never found any the right dimensions. Then I happened upon the Dollar Store beach pails. You won't hurt my feelings if you say they are tacky looking, I kinda ride the fence on that, too, but they are functional. I don't have to see all the junk my kids cram in them (think party favor treasures!) and they have a handle so the kids can carry them to another room if needed.

Oh, and one last thing and then I promise to stop going on and on about shoe storage! This is a mudroom type of locker, but we don't actually have a mudroom. Just to encourage you other mudroom-less people out there, you can put this locker somewhere else in your house. Our house was built in the late 1980s, maybe before everyone saw the light about making bigger laundry rooms, and my laundry room literally holds the washer and dryer and that is it! We set up the locker on a wall in our breakfast room that is near the back door. I am a little picky about not wanting my home to be too cluttered (at least downstairs in adult-land) and this locker does not bother me as making things too cluttered looking. It is definitely better than the table draped in coats and backpacks!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Car Potty

I’ve been so humbled through having and raising kids that I’m not ashamed to admit that I have a potty in my car.

Yes, a little blue plastic kid’s potty tucked under one of the seats ready to assist that potty trainer that just can’t wait to get to a real bathroom. It is a little embarrassing when I go to the full service car wash and return to my vehicle to see that t
hey have discovered the potty during their vacuuming and brought it out in all its glory to sit in the very center of the floorboard!

Then there are the times when we'll be out somewhere and my child will announce that they have to go to the bathroom and will just "USE THE CAR POTTY!" when we get back to the car. I love the looks I get from others in the store, vet, etc. as they try to figure out just how it is that we have a potty in our car!

But, that potty has saved me countless times when out and about with my kids during that 2-3 year-old potty training stage when they can’t always wait to find a bathroom. Parks that don’t have bathrooms – no sweat—we’ll use the “car potty”!

The problem with the “car potty” is in the emptying it. I usually wait until no one is looking and dump the pee-pee in the parking lot. But, one day my darling 2 year old did a little more than pee-pee in the potty. Afterward we just had to pick u
p my son at school and then head home, so I decided rather than try to clean it up in the car, I’d just let the mess sit in the potty until we got home. It was a stinky ride! As we passed other drivers I remember thinking, “If they only knew what was in my car!” I was thankful no one could see!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Something We've Learned in 2008

Any embarrassing or annoying baby & toddler habits/issues you escaped with your 1st two kids, you’re sure to face with your 3rd.

My 1 year old is/was (we pray it is over!) a biter. My 5 year old has been overheard telling other children in the waiting area during my daughter's “Ballerina Class” (as she calls it), “Don’t take things away from babies, because if you do, they might bite you!” A lesson he, his sister and a few other little ones learned the hard way!

We hated it when the first 2 kids learned the ugly “mine” word, but we actually practiced it over and over with our youngest hoping he’d begin using words instead of biting when someone tried to take something from him!

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

It doesn’t Really Look Like a Flower

Col 3:12-14 says God has chosen you and made you holy and beloved that he wants you to treat others nicely, compassionately, with gentleness and patience, “bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

I understand a little of this sentiment of God’s saying, “I have given you so much love, now go and treat others as I have treated you.”, through raising my kids. With my firstborn I poured in so much time, patience, and encouragement, always the cheerleader for even the smallest accomplishments. When my little cherub’s baby sister came home with a flower she’d made with paper and a pipe cleaner, she was so proud of it. I gushed about how pretty it was and turned to her big brother and said, “Isn’t it so pretty.” To which he replied, “It doesn’t really look like a flower.”

“Come on!” I thought, “after all the encouragement I’ve shown you, can’t you provide a similar response for your sister?” This must be just a fraction of what God feels when we are unloving, unkind, unforgiving, and uncompassionate to one another. Oh Lord, forgive me when I am not who I should be. Help me to share the love you lavish on me.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Where is the path?

At New Year’s time it seems there are countless magazine articles with titles like the top 50 ways to improve your life in the new year.  I picked up one of these hoping to flip to number one and have it say in big bold letters, “PRAY”, or “Develop/Improve your relationship with Jesus”, but no, instead there are suggestions like, eat more broccoli and blueberries, watch less T.V., stop using antibacterial soap, stop counting fat grams and start counting calories (which, by the way, next year will be switched to stop counting calories and start counting fat grams!). I got my hopes up when I saw #34 “Read a life changing book”, but again I was completely amazed when none of the recommended books were the Bible. Many of the magazine suggestions are good things, but they will improve your life by such a small fraction of the magnitude that Jesus can! As I think about the impact a relationship with God has had in my life I am always blown away. Proverbs 3:5-7 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight."  There are so many things I can look back on and know without a doubt if I had relied on my understanding instead of praying and relying on God’s guidance, my paths would have been disastrous.

I was raised in a dysfunctional family. My parents had a terrible marriage. You name it, it was there – infidelity, addiction problems, boughts with mental illness. They fought horribly through all of my childhood. It wasn’t until my teen years that I realized that it wasn’t a normal way for families to function and I learned that my mother had grown up in a similar home. I was determined not to continue the cycle so my understanding of how to handle my life differently was to never get married and certainly never to have children and put them through what my brother and I had grown up with. Things got so bad at one point that I left home and lived with a friend and her family for a month. Finally, one day my junior year in high school, my dad packed up his things when no one was home and moved out without telling us goodbye.

So how could my paths be straight after such a childhood? I can tell you, only by the sheer force of God. Through a youth group beach retreat one summer in my early teens I learned what it really meant to have a personal relationship with Jesus and began having a daily quiet time. Over time God showed me that I was His child and that he would empower me to stop the cycle of dysfunction that had been passed down to me through generations of my family. Ephesians 1 v 5 &6 say, God, “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love, He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the kind intention of His will.” Instead of living out the legacy of my earthly family I could live the legacy I had as a child of God! I did not understand exactly how God was going to salvage my life, but I was learning to lean on him.

Shortly before college I met the guy I would later marry, but we went away to different schools and it was my understanding that because we had been directed to opposite sides of the country, we must not have been right for each other. We dated other people but kept in touch and saw each other when we could. After a couple years of that, God revealed to me that I had already met the person he created for me, but I still didn’t understand at the time why he allowed us to be so far apart geographically. Now, I see so clearly God’s perfect work. During those college years He grew me so much as a person and allowed me to have many different friends and experiences that I no doubt would have missed out on if I had been in college with a serious boyfriend. When we graduated and got married, the time apart while dating made my husband and I treasure just getting to spend time together.  At my wedding reception God reminded me of how he had set me free from the dysfunction of my childhood when a long time friend of the family, put her arm around me and whispered, “You have your own family now.” I know that was God speaking to me through her that day.

I chose to begin my career with a technology consulting firm that had a reputation for hard, challenging work but also quick promotions for those who performed well. I still didn’t see having children as something for me and set my sights instead on having what I understood to be an “important career”. A few years later when we did decide to have a child I did not believe that I was the stay at home mom type. Throughout my pregnancy I prayed for God to show me the right choice as I agonized over the decision between my job or staying home with my child. Even though there were several signs along the way that God was leading me to quit work, in my stubborn mind I believed I could do both, be a superstar at work and a great mom, so I kept putting the decision off. Finally as my maternity leave was nearing its end I spoke with a manager of a project for my company who said if I came back he wanted me on his project working for a client in a different state. He thought this would be great news to me, times were lean at the firm and getting put on a project was a privilege. But for me this would mean traveling 4 nights every week when I had a 3 month old at home! I thanked God for making the decision so clear and being so patient with me all the times I ignored His more subtle messages! Now, nearly six years into my career as a stay at home mom with three kids, a husband, a dog, and a house to look after, I have never been busier, happier or more fulfilled. I had no idea that I’d love being a stay at home mom, but God did!

I really don’t want to think about where I’d be if I had relied on my own understanding in life rather than leaning on God. Occasionally, though, I get discouraged with my current position when it seems like our household is a combination of the before footage on the T.V. shows Super Nanny and Clean Sweep! Have you seen these shows? One begins with out of control kids and the other with a house full of way too much junk. Yes, really the only thing good about our house is Jesus, but that is everything we need. So this year I’ve narrowed my resolutions to one, cling tighter to Jesus. He will take care of the rest!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

About Me

See, that's just the thing, it's not about me, or at least I don't want it to be.

I want to share what I have learned in the chaos of life, especially my current life as a stay at home mom of 3 kids ages 7, 4, & 3.

We're in the process of adopting a little girl from Ethiopia.

You can read about why here.

I pray that it will really be God's words and not mine reflected in this blog.