Sunday, September 29, 2013

19 Things I'm Loving About Fall

1. Squash on the table from a friend's garden. 
2. The one mini pumpkin that our little garden grew.

3. Asian pears from my brother-in-laws Grandpa's house. Chopped up and then slowly simmered with cinnamon.

4. These make the whole house smell amazing!

5. Mini pumpkin chocolate chip muffins that the kids and I baked. 
6. Seeing my baby wear these booties that I wore when I was a baby.
7. Hats....... especially babies on hats. 
8. Candlelight dinners. 
9. Trails covered with leaves.
10. Kids in rain jackets.
11. Chilly adventures with my family.
12. Rain boots.
13. Stormy beaches.
14. Kids that love adventures and don't mind a little rain.
15. Big crashing waves.
16. This boy, tying knots with seaweed.
17. Driftwood forts.
18. New chalkboard art.
19. Twinkle lights on stormy, cold days.

We've had a few days where we've been able to be home enough to feel cozy and also, we've had some fun family time at the beach. I love that our kids are getting used to family adventures and even in the rain, they're having the best time. Today Judah said, "We've never had an adventure like that before!", as we piled back into the car and stripped off our rain soaked jackets.

I'm recognizing that I'm not a huge fan of the gray days so, I'm trying to get ahead of the game and do little things like hang twinkle lights. These small changes seem to make a difference and help make it easier to say goodbye to summer. What about you, what are you enjoying about this new season?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

No Hurry

Preschool for Paisley was a bit different today. After a morning that felt more rushed than it should have been, I strapped Eliza into the Ergo, buttoned up Paisley's rain jacket and grabbed her a bucket for collecting treasures. Sometimes our pace needs to slow, doesn't it? When it feels like we're always telling our kids to hurry and boxing their little imaginations into our grown up world, we need to intentionally create these moments where there isn't any rush, where they can be the leader.

She led us on our walk today, with no agenda and no time frame. We walked, stopped, looked, talked about what we saw and then walked some more. Enthusiastically, she loaded her bucket with leaves and miniature pine cones.

What she loved most of all were the slugs. She wanted to know about their Moms, Dads, brothers and sisters. She's my animal loving, spunky, thinks-outside-of-the-box girl. She stretches me like I never imagined she would. She makes me want to create more moments where I never say "hurry", "we need to go" or "come on!"

It's strange to me that we want to grow our kids imaginations and teach them to explore and learn, yet we're always rushing them from one thing to another. When I'm rushed, I don't feel like I'm fully able to appreciate something or be fully present. How much more are my kids not fully experiencing things when I'm rushing them all the time?

This morning, watching her kneel on the sidewalk and talk sweet to the slug ---letting her just be and not rushing her, vowing to myself that I won't say hurry for an hour, because for some reason, I struggle with that. I know it sounds cheesy, but it was totally the best part of my day.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Ultimate Honor

The kids and I waited in the least kid friendly waiting room that I've ever been in for 30 minutes today. By the time we were called in for Judah's appointment, I was pretty sure they needed to hook me up and check my blood pressure. We were literally climbing the walls out there. Oh, I was so that Mom today, you know the one who's trying to bribe her kids, who's threatening under her breath and the one who's giving the "look", but none of it is working. Yep, we were quite the sight.
After his appointment, the kids ate Lunchables, while I fed Eliza. I think this is the second time in their lives that they've ever had a Lunchable. I guess something about them doesn't scream Super-Mom to me. After they were finished and I must add, they did save the Oreos for last (they've been listening!), they handed me their garbage, which I stuffed into the side of my door, with my one free hand that wasn't cradling my baby. A few moments later, when I got out of the van to buckle Eliza into her seat, Lunchable garbage came pouring out my door and blowing all around the parking area. Baby in hand, chasing my Lunchable garbage.... having kids humbles you doesn't it???

We came home and as I rocked Eliza for her nap, I started thinking about what an ultimate honor it is to know these little people better than anyone else in the world knows them. As their Momma, I know what the looks on their faces mean. I know what makes them laugh and what expressions they make when they're nervous. I know that when Eliza is tired, she blows raspberries and when Judah talks, he needs me to look into his eyes. I know that Paisley craves undivided attention and that she sings exceptionally well for not even being three. When Judah puts on his Superman costume, suddenly he is 3 times stronger and whenever I cook, Paisley runs in and pulls up a chair to help. Eliza laughs when I wipe her hands off and she gets sad after her bath, while I'm hurrying to get her jammies on.

All of the quirks that make up these little people just bless my socks off. It truly feels like the largest privilege to be the one that knows them this well.

A favorite moment from our day:

As I walked into the living room, I found Paisley reading this book to Eliza. Before they noticed me, I grabbed my phone and snapped this.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Sickies, Corn and Phone Talkers

Before I was a Mom, I never even considered what a pain the cold and flu season would be with kids. Sorry, no pun intended. Honestly, I never thought of it. I'd heard of people talk about those "snotty nosed kids", but my future children? Um, no way, not my kids.... Ha!

So, we avoided it for a long time.... I was a good Mommy, passing out daily mulit-vitamins and dropping straight up Vitamin D drops into their little mouths. And honestly, let me tell you that I DO believe in those Vitamin D drops. Our society as a whole is severly Vitamin D deficient and Vitamin D plays a huge part in our immune systems. However, the sickies still snuck into our house and Eliza has her first ever cold. As I'm writing this, I'm realizing that she's the only one who wasn't getting those extra doses of Vitamin D. Hmmmm....
She's almost 6 months so, I'm so thankful that she's been completely healthy up until this point. It's hard having a baby with a stuffy nose. I feel like after having 3 kids, I've become a pro with that nose-sucker thingy, but my skills don't make her like it any better. Poor thing. And have you ever tried to nurse a baby that can't breath out of her nose? It's not fun.

So, preschool with Paisley didn't happen today and I feel completely fine with that. Instead, she watched lots of Barney, while I took care of her little sister. You know what? Sometimes it's okay to give yourself a little break. It's good for you. There's a lot to be said about a happy Momma who isn't all stressed out about getting every.single.little.thing accomplished. Just relax.

A few photos from our Monday.

Tonight we picked our first corn from the garden, after an after dinner bike ride. It was 54 degrees outside and felt freezing! Fall is definitely here! Paisley is enthusiastic so, she doesn't wait for her corn to be cooked, she just bites right in (and then spits it out, telling us that our corn is "not good!")
And then there was this moment that happened today- my kids' first time experiencing Anne of Green Gables (in cartoon form). This makes me insanely happy. Growing up, Anne of Green Gables books were my absolute favorite. Any form of this coming into our home is exciting. I can't wait until they're old enough for me to read them the books.
This too...the moment when Judah got a phone call from his cousin, while I was cooking dinner. His face lighting up was so precious! After he had his turn talking, Paisley wanted to say hello. She took that phone and walked all around, chatting away like an old pro. I think we have a couple of phone talkers in our future.
How was your Monday?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Shopping Alone and Sunday Photos

See that shopping cart? Look closely. There aren't any kids on it, in it, around it, hanging on it or even hanging on me. That's right, I went shopping by myself for the first time today in literally almost 6 months. After Eliza went down for her nap, I asked Husband if he'd mind if I ran to the store for a few minutes while she slept. He said go for it so, I headed out, totally feeling like I was forgetting something majorly important. 

First I stopped at Starbucks and treated myself to an Americano with Pumpkin Spice. With my coffee in hand, I wandered around the store, with a big goofy grin on my face. I'm pretty sure folks were wondering if I'm okay. 

When I came back home, my baby was awake and I'd missed her, even though I was gone for less than an hour. Honestly, I really don't mind shopping with my kids that much and usually we have fun, but hey, sometimes it's nice to be able to hear yourself think, or look at your list, without fearing you'll loose a kid if you look away for a second, or take 3 kids into the bathroom with you, while hoping that the "helpful" courtesy clerk isn't going to come by and put all the items in your cart back where they belong. 
Yep, shopping alone felt like a mini vacation. 

Today is the first day of fall and as much as I hate to see summer go, I'm thankful for the routine that fall brings. Judah is really enjoying preschool, we're also doing Awana, homegroup and of course, MOPS. Lots of fun stuff with enough days at home sprinkled in so, we can still have some of that down time that my kids and I love.

A few photos from today.......

///Dark, cozy morning.
 ///Trees blowing in the wind.
 ///Licking the beaters.

 ///Pumpkin Ginger Cupcakes for my friend Cindy's baby shower. The recipe is one that a friend of mine blogged last year. I highly, highly, highly recommend it. Go get the recipe here.


Saturday, September 21, 2013

A Packed House

Packed our house today with 8 adults and 16 kids, 13 of which were boys.
This epic all-day game day was planned by my husband.
I let him plan it 100%.
This is hard for me, as I'm maybe a bit of a control freak.
Last night I had a freak out when I heard that it was supposed to rain.
Game day happened today and I'd do it all over again.
The sun came out.
The kids played so well.
It didn't feel like we had 16 kids here.
I love our friends.
So much.
I'm so thankful for them.
I even played a few rounds of Skip-Bo with another Mom.
Even Moms like to play games.
Lembas bread is a Lord of the Rings thing.
I didn't know that.
Apparently it's a hit when you make this for a guys game of Lord of the Rings Risk.
If you want to make some yourself, the recipe is here.
And really, you should make some.
It's quite delicious and it makes Lord of the Rings fans smile.
Lesson Learned: Hospitality has nothing to do with the size of your house.
Second Lesson Learned: It's good to let your husband plan something 100% sometimes.

Lembas Bread making with my little chef.................

Happy weekend, you guys. It's not over yet!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Santa Claus: Do you do it?

Growing up, I loved Christmas just as much as any other kid does. It was the best day of the year, often spent on the other side of our state with relatives that I adored and only saw a few times a year. Christmas was everything that it should be and it was perfect, even though I didn't believe in Santa Claus. I guess we just never did the whole Santa thing at our house, which I suppose is weird, compared to the majority of American homes.

Across the state, my husband (who I didn't know at the time), was celebrating Christmas with his family and having an equally wonderful time- while believing in Santa Claus until he was about 6 years old. He did the whole cookies for Santa thing and left the carrots out for the reindeer. At our house, we were making cookies and hanging our stockings, but just for different reasons. 

See, I don't think either way is necessarily the right way to do this. But, now I'm a Mom, who's trying to do a good job and these things hang around in my mind. And yes, I'm an over analyzer so, in September, I start randomly thinking about this stuff.

The world isn't a safe place for our kids and it definitely isn't filled with truth. It's left up to us, the parents, to be that safe place, where truth is the only option. We need to be that source of 100% reliable information, with open lines to be able to talk about anything and everything.  And ideally, I'd hope that no matter what, they would believe that their Momma would always tell them the truth, even when it's hard. It's kind of weird to me how we go all year trying to be honest with our children and teaching them how important honesty is and then we're the ones who aren't honest, when it comes to the Santa thing. But, is the tradition of Santa, the exception? 

Well, don't get me wrong, I do believe that Santa can be totally fun and harmless. Actually, at our house, so far we HAVE done Santa Claus. We've baked the cookies and left them on the plate. We've taken bites out of those cookies after all kiddos are heavily sleeping and we've wrapped presents, signed by Santa. It's been fun and I've seen that Christmas CAN be saturated with Jesus, even while doing a bit of the Santa thing. Because, isn't that what it's all about anyway? Christmas is about Jesus coming as a tiny baby, to save us and make a way for us to join Him in heaven someday. No wonder it's the best day of the year! He came for us and He is crazy about us!
As our kids get a bit older, I wonder what it'll be like when they learn that Santa isn't real. Will they feel betrayed or we will empower them to keep the fun secret, to preserve the magic for the younger ones? Will doing the Santa thing encourage me to saturate Christmas even more with the Birthday of Jesus, to keep the real meaning in focus?

Tell me about what you do at your house. Do you do Santa Clause? If you have older kids, what was it like when they "found out"? If you don't do it, why? 

A few bits of us lately....

The weather has been gorgeous and we've really been enjoying it. Sister loves finding treasures out in the yard and wandering around barefoot. She always amazes me with her love for dresses and all things girlie and also, her fierce love for being outside and getting dirty. I love this about her. 

Best big brother ever. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

At Almost Three...


Dear Paisley,
I've been really enjoying the mornings with just you and Eliza while Judah's at preschool. You are my artsy free-spirited girl and I wouldn't change a single thing about you.

We've been having fun listening to music together, watching the garbage man, playing with playdough, coloring and reading. You are going to be 3 next month and you are my smart, determined, little Paisley-Pie!

Whatever it is that I'm doing around the house, you love to be right there with me. You are a great helper! You help unload the dishwasher, you love to help with laundry and you're right there anytime Eliza needs anything. You are a great big sister to her and I'm so thankful for that! I can see how much you love her and it's sweet how you always introducing her to everyone, even the checker in the grocery store.

Some of your current favorite things are dressing up, singing songs and watching nursery rhymes, particularly "Miss Polly had a Dolly"--that one's your favorite. You have a very tender heart and you love animals. You're also very sensitive to people's feelings and you're quick to offer a kiss, a prayer or a Band-Aid, if someone gets hurt. Currently your favorite colors are pink and purple and you're starting to really get into princess stuff. 

Everyday Paisley,  you like to pretend that you're the baby bird and that I'm the Momma bird. You climb up into my lap and tell me that you're in my nest. You're precious, sweet girl and I can't wait to see what big plans God has for you. One of my favorite things is how you say "I loves you", pronouncing love as "loves", with an S. I loves you too.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Creativity and Weekend Scenes

Creativity has been a theme this week. Creativity for surviving a long week of parenting solo and creativity to spark the imaginations of my little ones. I've discovered lately that as a Mom, I feel the most fulfilled when I see my kids feeling free to explore, build, make messes and just be the kids with wild imaginations, that God blessed me with. So, I've been trying to tame my inner Type-A neat freak and by golly, I think I've been learning something.

A week of parenting almost exclusively solo, while Husband worked long hours causes loneliness to sneak in. Even though I love those little people more than anything, dinnertime without adult conversation just isn't the same. The scary thing is that by the end of the week, I start to get used to doing everything alone, I sort of find my own rhythm, I guess. I take the kids to the mall with me and we hit TJ Maxx, I change an epic blowout in the rain and then we sit in traffic for almost 2 hours on the way home, because I forgot about the bridge construction. We had fun though and we made the most of it. See, sometimes when you need to get out, you just go and then you make it fun, because that's the best choice.

We also did dinner on the beach one night and watching them play out there while I held a sleeping Eliza was the most relaxed I've felt in a while. All week long, I lowered my expectations for myself and for them. Most nights I didn't cook. Tonight we lit candles, opened the door to listen to the rain and ate oatmeal with yogurt and raisins. It worked.

I'm learning that as a Mom, it's important to pay attention to those moments that make you feel like you're doing a good job and then intentionally create more of those moments. What is it that gives you that feeling like you're not just getting through, but you're thriving? What do your best days with your kids look like? Discover those things and then do them over and over again. Who cares what that other Mom is doing and what her best days with her kids look like. Find your best and then repeat it over and over.

For me, I need to constantly calm my inner control freak and let my kids go crazy with yarn, tape, playdough and whatever else it is that they want to create with. Reminding myself to say "yes", when for some reason, "no" seems to come out much more easily. Letting them be free to be messy, use their imaginations and remembering that in those times, I really do feel the happiest as a Mom.

A few scenes from our weekend......

///Outside play.
//Filling buckets with treasures.

///Making letters out of sticks.
///Swinging in the wind.
///Singing on the swing.
///A random stranger really living fully while flying over our house.
///New Playdough.
 ///The colors stayed separated for only about 5 minutes. That's okay.
 ///A 16x20 collage of some of my favorite Instagram photos that I created, and then printed off at Costco. I love having this on our wall!
 ///A little bit of fall in our house.

 ///Hopping competitions in the rain.


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