Wednesday, July 30, 2014

7 Things that Help Our Kids Get Along

Our kids fight, because we are NORMAL, but the other day, their Sunday school teacher commented on how much they care for each other. This teacher told my husband that she hopes her kids will someday love each other as much as ours do. Her sweet words really got me thinking.

We are just your average family, with three kids, all close in age. They DO fight, but yes, on most days they really DO play together well. They are friends. They look after each other and even though my life feels crazy most of the time, I wouldn't have it any other way. I always hesitate to write posts like this because I never want to come across as having it all together. So, with the disclaimer that we are far, far, very, very, far from perfect, here are my Top 7 Things that Help Our Kids Get Along.

1. Be home together. 
By far, this the biggest one for our family. Nothing makes my kids fight like being on the go too much and if you think about it, this makes sense. To be friends with someone, you need to spend time with them. Yes? You need to learn about them and understand who they are. The same thing is true for siblings. When our kids are home together, they learn to play together. I don't entertain them all day, or hardly at all for that matter, so it's up to them to learn to play well and be each other's friend. Good relationships take being together and when we're home together, we have time to build those relationships.

2. Encourage them to serve each other.
This is another huge one for our family. Service...Oh, I love this one. Once you start looking for ways to teach your kids to serve each other, you'll notice the opportunities everywhere. Every morning, I have the kids make their beds. Not perfect, but acceptable for how old they are. To serve one another, often Judah will make Paisley's bed and Paisley will make his. When they do this, I go crazy praising them for how kind it was! Think over the top praise---me jumping around and clapping (because they need that).

 At lunch time, they serve each other lunch. After lunch, they can clean up the other person's spot at the table. They can help a younger sibling put on shoes. When we get somewhere, I have Judah unbuckle Paisley's car seat, since she isn't strong enough to push the buckle yet. At bedtime, they can get each other's toothbrush ready. All day long there are opportunities for serving one another and every time they help each other, I make a BIG fuss about what a nice brother or sister they are. This is constantly teaching them how good it feels to do something nice and it's also teaching the recipient how to show gratitude towards the person who's been kind.

3. Be okay with giving the older ones responsibilities with the younger ones.
One of the things I've loved about having kids close in age is the opportunity for the older ones (who at our house, are still very young) to learn how to care for the younger ones. Judah who is 5 can do simple things like hold Eliza for a moment, get her cup or bring her a toy. Often when I'm changing her diaper, I'll have Paisley sing her a song or bring me baby wipes. These little responsibilities show the kids that it feels good to help out and that the world isn't only about them.

4. Don't solve all their problems.
At our house, I've been really working with the kids on trying to work it out together first and then come and talk to me, if that doesn't work. I want them to be problem solvers and with practice, I believe they can. If we, as parents are always stepping in, then they don't have the opportunity to learn how to solve things on their own.

5. Let them know that they are part of a team.
When all else fails, I want our kids to know that they are part of a big team called Their Family. No matter what, they have a group of people who unconditionally have their back. These team members are Mom, Dad and their brother and sisters. When they play together, they're playing with a team mate. When they fight, they're fighting with a team mate. Lately, I've been inspired to emphasis that we need to be a strong team and strong teams are built with amazing members who build each other up.

6. Let them have their space.
Sometimes someone needs to play Legos alone or someone else needs to go have some time by herself. We all need quiet moments to recharge...at least I know I do! Space is good and it's good for a kid to be able to recognize when they need that quiet time alone. I think our job as parents is to help them be aware of those times when they need quiet play time and to encourage it, without making them feel like it's a punishment.

7. Teach them to support each other.
Nothing feels better than when someone you love cheers for you. When Eliza was learning how to walk, Judah and Paisley were over the moon excited for her and she just about bursted with pride when they'd clap for her. It's good to show our kids how fun it can be to support each other. Excitement is contagious and as the Mama, I've been convicted that I need to work more diligently on this one.

So, what about you, what would you add to this list?
Angela

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dear Zucchini Pallet Garden




Dear Zucchini Pallet Garden,
I didn't know how this would all work out. It was a last minute thing, free pallets, the need for more garden space and composted wood chips to use, instead of good soil. We went for it though and hey, I really like you so far.

Now we're nearing August and you are like a jungle...a big, thick viney jungle of miscellaneous zucchini, pumpkins, spaghetti squash and butternut squash. When I go hunting around to see what's ready for dinner, it's like the best kind of treasure hunt.

Tonight we had one of my all time summer favorites, Zucchini Pizza Slices. I blogged the recipe last year HERE and it never disappoints. If you're up to your ears in zucchini, maybe this will help you out.

What have you been eating from your garden lately?
Angela

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Just Because


For every moment that I feel like I should be all caught up on baby books and have perfectly organized photo albums on our shelves....
For every moment that I feel like my words aren't enough or that my photos should be better....
For every moment that I wonder if my life is enough to share in this space....

I remember that EVERY life is worth sharing and I remember why I started this little blog in the first place. 

To document our simple and sweet life. This life with these wonderful gifts. 
If you want to write, take photos and keep track of your memories, can I just encourage you to not let perfectionism stand in your way? Live beautifully and then share it, imperfectly- because none of us are perfect.

Today something happened. 
A complete stranger walked up to me and handed me two quilts. Just like that. She smiled at me and right there in the middle of a tiny little fair, asked me if I wanted these quilts that she sewed. She was short, with gray hair and glasses and she told me that she makes these quilts to give away as baby blankets. Apparently she saw that we have a few small children on our hands.... Um yeah, people tend to notice.

I almost cried, you guys. I mean, who does that? In the news and on Facebook and in conversations, we always hear about the bad stuff. The people we need to watch out for, the scary things. And then we go to a tiny little fair, where we pet ducks, hold rabbits and fall in love with baby pigs and as we walk to buy corn dogs and greasy fair fries, a sweet old lady comes up to us and gives us two quilts that she sewed with love. Just because.
 Her kindness makes me want to be extra kind, just because.

A few moments from our weekend.
The newest member of our dress up clan. 

Friday night, Paisley and I had a date at the Farmer's Market. It had been a long day and I'd planned on going alone, just for a quick bouquet of flowers, after Daddy got home, but when I started to head out, she asked if she could come. Reluctantly, I said yes and I'm so glad I did. Walking with her around the Farmer's Market was way better than walking around by myself. I thought I needed time alone---what I really needed was a date with her.
Flowers from the market will be our new thing.

Today we went to the tiny little fair and enjoyed every smell, snort, moo, neigh, tractor sound, greasy fry and friend that we saw. The kids entered a few little things and were super excited when we went into the exhibit hall today and saw ribbons on their entries.

The rabbits get me every year. I think we need one...hello husband? Hear that?





Hoping you had a great weekend,
Angela

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Dear Jumping Boy


Dear Jumping Boy,
This afternoon, life slowed down for a few moments while I stood and cheered for you, while you jumped off anything that looked high and exciting. After a week that felt overwhelming full, this quieted my heart. The way you just go for it is such a thrill for me to watch. It doesn't scare me, because I see you learning how to make good choices and learning to be brave.

You know that your Mama tends to get easily overwhelmed and watching you today reminded me that when I'm doing what I know God intended me to do, (like being still for a moment and cheering for you), I find that calmness that's sometimes so hard for me to find. This summer has felt crazier that I intended and being outside with you today was a huge moment of peace. Thank you for helping your Mama find a moment of quiet, when things felt like they were piling on too fast.

Thank you for wanting to jump off high things and for being a crazy boy. Thank you for wanting to run, climb and be adventurous. Thank you for asking me to watch and for teaching me daily what it's like to raise a boy. I'm so completely crazy about all of this. Keep jumping, keep asking me to watch and keep on going for it.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This Big Brave Thing// All Mom Does

Awhile back, I did a few guest posts for our local radio station's blog, "All Mom Does". Recently, they opened up the opportunity to expand their team and I applied. The application process was fun and a bit nerve wrecking. At one point, I was scheduled to have a phone interview with Sarah Taylor, who you've probably heard of if you're local. She was scheduled to call me at 2pm and you should have seen me preparing the kids for that phone call.

"Listen guys, the radio station is going to be calling Mommy. I'm going to put a TV show on for you and no matter what, you can't come talk to me. Mommy really wants this and I just can't be interrupted this time. I'll have snacks out and you can have those while you watch your show. Basically, if it's not a HUGE emergency, you NEED to let me have this phone call." 

They were like, "The radio station is going to call you? How does that work? You want this? What does that mean?" And after the 50th question, they started singing the Spirit 105.3 jingle and they seemed to catch on....sort of. At 1:50pm, I set out granola bars, flipped on Sprout and then retreated to our room with a notebook and pen, and a pounding heart.

I had my phone call, without any interruptions (nice job, kids!) and Sarah was fantastic. Actually, anyone involved there is fantastic, I'm already sure of it. After the phone interview and a few more things, I got the call yesterday from the sweetest gal, Rebecca and she invited me to be part of the team!

I feel like being part this team is exactly what I need right now on so many  levels. I've been really craving something that would push me outside of my comfort zone and help me be inspired to write more bravely. I feel like God wants to stretch me and I'm ready for that.

And the fit couldn't be any better......
When I was 18, I started listening to Spirit 105.3 while getting ready for work in the morning and now the kids and I listen to it in the car. I'm so excited to be part of what they're doing.

On a weekly basis, I'll be writing for All Mom Does and from time to time, I'll be participating in other events that they have going on. Sometimes you know when something is just meant for this moment and although this is a bit scary, all of this is the perfect fit for where our family is at right now.

So, here's my question for you.... Is there anything that I haven't written about that you'd like to hear about? Anything...you name it. Please share with me the things that YOU would want to read about. I'm welcoming any and all ideas and if you'd rather email them to me, that's fine. My email address is up there under "contact". 

A few photos from our life lately.

Dill against the chicken coop- just 'cuz it's pretty.
 Sunsets and campfires at the MOPS planning retreat.
 Early morning book hugger.
 Golf balls and eggs.
DQ dates turn everything around when it's hot outside and we're grumpy.
 Little artist getting her paintings ready for the fair.
 On the way to the MOPS retreat. Old barns make me slow down and take pictures. I just can't help it.
 Corn that's starting to look like.....well, corn! Thank you, sunshine!
 ♥ Angela

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Faves

Happy Friday, sweet friends. A few favorites to wrap up this wonderful week.

Favorite Recipe from Instagram:
Maggie at The Rural Roost posted this handy little recipe for roasted garbanzo beans and I literally made them like 10 minutes later. The big kids didn't quite know what to think about them, but Eliza and I are OBSESSED. Go make some, like right now. Also, I've got to say that I just opened up a can and didn't bother with soaking or cooking dried beans. Just do whatever is easy, you know?

Favorite Song on repeat this week:
My one word for this year should have been BRAVE. So many things about this year have caused me to want to live a truly brave life. My heart just longs to live in a way that isn't playing it safe, but instead is really full of everything that God created me for. This song stirs me up and it's been on repeat for a good chunk of this week.
Favorite deal of the week:
Oh man, these Salt Water Sandals. Aren't they just great? In a perfect world, my girls and I would all have matching ones. Something about this just gets me. And, over on Brick and Buffalo, they're on a super-duper sale for only 2 more days. Love these.

Favorite new show of the week:
Fixer Upper. Have you seen this? If you know me, you know that I'm not a big TV person, but all of that changes when it comes to this couple. The husband and I have been watching this show all week and we absolutely love this couple. They way they treat each other melts me just a little and their style and design are flawless. Love, love, love these guys and their show!

Favorite kids quotes from the week:
Judah (talking to Dora, on the TV), "I don't have to say it, if I don't want to say it, Dora!"
Paisley, explaining about changing her baby's diaper...."My baby's poop isn't for real, that why I changed it with my hands."

Have a great weekend, brave ones!
Angela

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Thankfuls//Right Now

If ever there was a week to let blogging slip to the back burner, this might be it. We're in the thick of summer and I feel like the long days are slipping away between my fingers. I want to hold onto this summer so tightly. Maybe we should figure out a way to extend it all the way through September, don't you agree? It's crazy to me that in just a few weeks, I'll be staring at my first list of "what your child needs to bring with them to kindergarten" and then we'll be wandering the isles of Target, picking out the right glue and grabbing some new shoes. How is it that we're halfway through July already?

This week we're knee deep in VBS and swimming lessons. So far, everyone is loving every moment. Yesterday when I dropped Judah off, he was a bit nervous, but when I came to get him, he exclaimed that his day was GREAT! I love that. Huge high five to the teachers who are using their time to create such fun memories for him.

So, right now I'm quickly writing a thankful list, while Eliza naps and the big kids attempt a quiet time. They're transitioning to no longer needing naps (or else they can't go to sleep at bedtime). It's an adjustment, but we're rolling with it. Kids do grow up, or so I'm noticing. They grow, I grow and we adjust together.

There's so much to be thankful for right now.

Snuggles with this kid and his Superman. 
 Early Saturday morning adventures to Little Mountain with my family. 
 This view. Wowza. 
 Penny's egg song that the kids now recognize from inside the house. 
The song is like the egg alarm. When it goes off, we all run outside with this handy-dandy little blue carton. They fight to see who will open the coop door and as they push for the prize of the handle, I remind them to grab the egg gently. Gentle kids, gentle. Thankful for no cracked eggs.....yet.
Quiet moments before dinner. 
When things get crazy, I have them sit down and write or draw what they're thankful for. Sometimes, one of them practically refuses, but as they just sit there with nothing else to do, they give in and then they draw wonderful pictures full of gratitude. Thankful for this.
Waterfall dates with this guy. 
Sunday afternoon, we got away for just a few hours and went to a new spot for us: Boulder River Falls. Wowie this was insanely gorgeous and it wasn't a very challenging hike either. I don't think I've ever seen waterfalls like this in person!
From the main road, the drive in to the parking area is about 3 miles on a gravel road. It seemed to go on forever and we almost turned around a number of times. Finally, we reached the parking area and we were relieved to see a number of other "normal" looking cars there. The hike in to the falls was just over a mile and pictures will never do these falls justice. This was an absolutely stunning adventure out with my man. 
Summer splashing.
This baby's pure love, enjoyment and obsession over Tupperware. 
 Really, why do we even bother with real toys?
What have you been thankful for lately?
Angela

Friday, July 11, 2014

Egg-cited

Not long ago, I heard that when some hens lay their eggs, they sing a little song, known as the egg song. Today, I heard that song for the first time, all the way inside our house. I was in the kitchen, washing dishes and from outside I heard "Bawk!! Baaaawwwk!! Bawk! Bawk!" Well, it's hard to type it.....but I hope you know what I mean. If you really want to see what an egg song sounds like, check out this YouTube video. Our girl Penny sounded just like that today. 

I ran out, to make sure everything was alright, since I'd never heard that sound before. For the first time ever, Penny, our Golden Sexlink, who is just 17 weeks, was sitting in a nesting box! Quickly, I closed the door, hoping that just maybe she was really laying her first egg.

A little while later, she came out of the coop and continued squawking her song, serenading the whole neighborhood. I went back over to the coop, opened the door and right there in one of the nesting boxes, right by the golf ball was a giant, brown egg. Good girl, Penny. Thanks for laying our first egg ever!






That's Penny, right there in front. Way to go, girl. Sing your egg song again tomorrow, k?
Happy Friday, friends. I hope you've had a wonderful week.
Angela

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Over at The Girl Creative

Hey friends! I'm just popping in to mention that today I'm over on The Girl Creative sharing an all time favorite cookie recipe. Come on over and say hey?

I hope you've had a great Wednesday. Today the kids and I went berry picking and just about ate our weight in Raspberries. Isn't summer great!
 ♥ Angela

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