Friday, January 28, 2011

Exciting New Venture

I am beyond excited!!  I am becoming a Certified Sign2Me Instructor and will be teaching parents and their babies how to communicate with sign language!! Perhaps you remember my post back in December, Children and Sign Language, or maybe not. Basically, I have benefited from signing with my four children before they could speak.  I am thrilled that I now can share with other moms like myself.

sign for baby
I could just do a little jig right here in my kitchen, but I will refrain from doing so because I still have a mountain to climb.

Becoming an instructor means that I am starting up a home-based business.  Yikes! I am both excited and overwhelmed by all that I am learning, such as DBA's, home occupancy permits, sales tax licenses, and seller's permits. Do you see why I am refraining from doing a jig? I will reserve that celebration for once I have my Instructor's Certificate in my hand...  Or when I get my business license in hand, or have my website up and running, or finally schedule my first class.  There is going to be a lot of dancing going on in my kitchen this next month.

There's going to be a lot of research and learning as I go too.

-send in resume and reference letters
-choose business name
-create marketing plan
-create a business plan
-fill out and turn in with money the three applications for the city
-call the state about a DBA and a sales tax license
-create a logo, figure out type style
-create website
-print business cards and flyers
-order books and other products for resale
-call and visit class location possibilities
and the list will grow in the coming week, I am sure. 

After three weeks of speculation, research, and other ground work, I feel like I can finally move forward. My start-up business kit is in the mail! It'll be like Christmas when that comes.

However, I need help. I need a business name.
I am looking for a name that is descriptive, but not restrictive. Easy to remember, but not too long.
I liked the name Little Signing Hands, but that's taken by somebody in Illinois. Or was it Idaho? Anywho, not happening.
So should I change it up a bit and risk confusion online by using Signing Little Hands?
How about Little Hands Sign?
Hands That Sign?
Little Hands, Big Words?
I Can Sign Too?
Small Signs, Big Voice?
Better Baby Talk?
Something else altogether?

So what do you think?  Which name is memorable and best suits my business? I'd greatly appreciate your input :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Man of the House

This little boy is currently the prince of our household. Doesn't he look handsome all dressed up? 
What a little man!
Now when it comes to family hierarchy, I do not demand that any one child get special treatment.  At least not intentionally. I can't help but demand my kids to be gentle with my baby.  You see, as the fourth child, and the third boy, this little prince puts up with a lot of rough treatment. 
But he seeks it out!!  At the park the other day, another mom commented that I had one tough baby, as Donovan insisted on going up and down the 'curvy' slide with four other kids, often sandwiched in the middle of the pack on the ride down.
He has to be involved in whatever the other kids are doing.  His favorite spot to join the pack is on the trampoline (I am thankful that our trampoline is close to the ground; it's only 2 1/2 feet tall. I fear that we have outgrown the 8 ft. size rather quickly, however).

When the Prince decides to join the pack in their rambunctious play, fortunately, the pack modifies their game to include him.  Or maybe they are just giving in to his demands to avoid the anticipated fervent chatter and screaming of the 18 month old tyrant. You see, he loves to play "Ring around the Rosy".

True to a dictator's nature, he has to be in control.  This little guy will end the game by plopping down on his butt whenever he pleases, even if only three words of the rhyme have been sung. 
He likes to keep them on their toes.

 "Oh, hi Mom! I'm loving ruling the roost over here."

"Every now and then, I let them order me around and tell me what to do, so they don't get too unhappy."
(I'd say he's a pretty smart man)

"I let them think I'm following their rules."

"But not for too long."

"Like I said, I gotta keep them on their toes."

 "And besides, somebody's gotta be Momma's boy. So when I've had enough of the pack, I don't stick around. Now if somebody could please help me over this snow?!"

And you know what? Without me saying a word, two of them rushed to help the Prince get off the tramp, over the snow, and over to his most loyal supporter - his Momma.
He knows where to get the most loving.

 I'd say that he knows exactly where to go to get the second best loving too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Wide Awake at 3 AM

I have thought of a great idea for an alarm clock - the sound of a child hurling.
There's nothing that gets you out of bed faster.

Yep, my sleep last night was interrupted by those very sounds. I made it to my daughter's bed, wide awake for once, to discover that I had one big mess, and one miserable child. This reminds me of yesterday's post, interview of a domestic engineer. Here exactly is an example of one of the sacrifices mom's make. We strip puked-on bedding, start the washer, rinse and dump puke buckets, bathe a puked-on child, then rinse and dump another bucket - all at 3 AM.  Then, if you're very unlucky, you repeat this 1, 2, maybe 5 times in one night depending on who else in the family gets the virus. Or if you're even more unlucky, you simply repeat this the next two nights and hope against hope that you don't become so run down that you catch the nasty bug too.

That said, I think we all know that this is yet one more inevitable aspect of motherhood that we simply get through and are thankful when finished with.
As I was combing my daughter's wet hair away from her face at 3:25 AM, though, a different thought occurred to me.  There is satisfaction in giving our children the comfort they need.  My daughter wanted Mom because she wasn't feeling good, and I was able to be there. Although my night wasn't pleasant, hers was made better by me just being Mom.

Interview of a Domestic Engineer

A few years ago, my sister had to interview someone about their job for a school assignment.  I suppose I was the easy choice.

Sis: "What is you job?" 
Me: Hmmmm, what is my job. Well I'm a mother of three. I'm a wife. A housekeeper. A cook. A bookkeeper. Can I give this many answers? I suppose if I say, mother, all the rest automatically falls into the category? Once we become mothers, we become so many other things! Diapers to change, floors to mop, dinner to make, bills to pay, children to bathe, phone calls to make, no problem! Oh and did you mention a husband? Thats right, he wants to be acknowledged too, no problem!
(I wished she would have asked me my title. I would have said Domestic Engineer. That has a nice professional ring to it.)

Sis: "What have you sacrificed for this job?" 

Me: Should I say my figure? No, I am blessed with good genes, so that doesn't apply. Should I say my career? That doesn't apply either, this IS my career. Well I would have to say that I have sacrificed time for myself. I don't get to shop, hike, or work out by myself anymore. I'd love to take more classes at the college, but my kids keep me going 24/7. I no longer get a full nights sleep. And time alone with my husband is pretty minimal. 

Sis: "What kind of skills do you need for this job?" 

Me: Thats easy. Number one would be Patience. You need a lot of that. Creativity. Kids require it. It helps to know how to cook. Your husband will be happier. Efficency. There's a lot to do in a day. Wisdom. Unconditional Love.

Sis: "How much time do you put in for this job?" 

Me: More than any other job in the world! Its a 24/7 thing. Kids don't stop being your kids at night just because you're not on the clock anymore.

Four questions. That was it.
Wait, I thought, is that it? Your forgetting something! With those questions, Mothering doesn't sound like a very glamorous job. You didn't ask me anything about the rewards of my job! They are absolutely the best! Have you ever held a sleepy child, just waking up from a nap? Have you felt little arms wrap around your neck and squeeze? Have you ever shared a victorious grin over learning to dress oneself, or riding a bike without training wheels? Have you ever been given a handful of dandelions and weeds and one tiny flower, picked specially for you?

It occured to me that to become a mom, you never have true prior experice. How can you? And there really is no list of qualifications. Once you bear a child, you are Mom, regardless of your skills, regardless of whether you think you're ready to raise a child. Most of the skills I listed came after becoming a mother. You learn as you go. So perhaps a better answer would have been simply the ability to be openminded and the realization that each child is different and will let you know what skills you need. As you're learning, you're growing. Your children make you a better person. And quite frankly, I wouldn't know what to do with a whole few days to myself anymore. I'd fret over not having my kids to fret over!

Is it worth it? Absolutely!! Lacking in the skills department and sacrifices aside, I wouldn't trade my kids or job for anything in the world.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Random Bits

My brain is tired of thinking.  Today I have planned no errands, no list of things to accomplish. I am looking forward to daily chores, crazy I know, but it means I can relax and bake my cookies and get my laundry done.
As a result of my brain wanting the day off, I have a very boring post today, a list of random thoughts from the last few days. 

I was very excited to see a package in the mail box the other day, I knew it was my cheese slicer! You might not think a cheese slicer is exciting, but this little piece of steel came to me all the way from Finland, thanks to a very dear friend.  Hopefully now we can ditch the cutting with a knife method and save our cheese from crumbling and our knuckles from getting scraped off.

Joann's has re-opened! I hope to spend my day on the sewing machine tomorrow, after a trip for fabric, of course.  Is there anything more fun than perusing the aisles and aisles of fabric choices again and again?  I can't wait, and I'm going by myself!  Oh, yes, and maybe now I'll finally finish my pebble quilted circle blanket that needs two more spools of varigated thread.

I've been busy lately, doing a lot of research, and perhaps I'll share at a later date.  
The result of this is the feeling of guilt when it comes to my kids. I haven't spent any quality time with them. Earlier this week, we built a ginormous train track (I think we have 3 sets) and today we are going to do that again.  I need to get a picture, it takes up the entire room. We place Donovan in one corner by the hill and he'll stay there saying "weeee" and dropping trains down the hill for a good half hour and will leave us and the rest of the track alone.

Last night, we had our weekly get together for Bible Class.  Even though it is just us three families, I look forward to an evening of visiting.  Maybe that is why I look forward to it, because there are only our three families up here.  Weekends are pretty much reserved for treks down the hill or company coming up, but these middle of the week reprieves are fun.  And because I can't seem to get my words down adequately, I will stop altogether.  

I just brought Connor to school in my pajamas and robe.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Some of this:

The mountains around here have been looking like this:

I have fond memories, but don't know when I'll ever again dare do this:

So, I'll think of this:

And the view from the top, which was this:

Which also meant this:

I love the mountains!
(Okay, I just changed my mind.  I want to head up.)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Walking in the footsteps of the Sinagua

Two hundred plus stairs with a three year old is a challenge, but I don't regret our hike one bit.

Sunday morning saw us driving into the parking lot of Walnut Canyon National Monument, then heading through the visitor's center, and to the head of the Island Trail.

As we started our trek and descended the 200 some stairs, it was incredible to realize that we were walking in the footsteps of the Sinagua who lived here more than 700 years ago.
It was also incredible to imagine living in these cliff dwellings.
We marveled that the cliffs were so steep and noted how far the creek bed was from the cliff houses - a very tough hike up with a water bowl on the top of your head. 
We imagined sleeping on the hard dirt floors on animal skins (although Brant thought his own pillow and blanket were a better choice).
We learned that the yucca plant was the most useful to the Natives, the fibers being used for ropes, sandals, mats and many other things.  Aubrey pointed out every yucca plant she saw along the trail.
And being that we were in a canyon, we had to listen to our echoes for a good five minutes. 
I've come to realize that our family hikes are not fast paced. That's okay, though. I love the opportunity to teach our children while out exploring - whether it be to learn some historical fact or to point out some interesting thing or to holler into a canyon. 
Fortunately, I didn't have to carry the three year old up every one of the 200 something stairs.  I didn't even carry him up 20 of them.  Once we started counting, he wanted to step on and count each and every one.

No, I do not regret our little excursion at all.  
It was very entertaining and educational, and I'm all about educational.  
And usually, I'm all about photography opportunities too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

DM Family Photoshoot

I had great fun photographing my friend's family three months ago.  The kids loved getting their pictures taken, and all the boys protested when we said we were done. They made my job easy!

I love the uncontrolled, head throwing laughter of middle brother in this one.
What was so funny? Oh yes, now I remember - the family dog.  He encountered a small black and white animal in the bush a couple days before, and smelled none to pleasant. Mom kept shoo-ing him away and Dad asked, "Don't you want him in the picture?"
 I thought the more appropriate question would have been, "Don't you want the picture looking like we smell a skunk?"

We had some more laughs when Mom thought she saw a mouse. Or was it a spider? I can't remember which, just look at how she has picked up the youngest clear off the bale, and look at brother's face! Priceless!

This little girl is quite the character.
I snapped these pictures of her without saying one word. She was just happy to have a willing ear.

And the best shot I have saved for last.
I won't mention what brought on the giggles in this picture, I'll just say that they are a beautiful family that is a great joy to photograph as well as be around.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I Miss Cheer Bear and Spider-man

I'm kind of missing the old days. The days before Connor started school, when the kids' play always involved dressing up.

Two years ago, I wandered into Goodwill and found some costumes. The kids absolutely loved them. That night Aubrey slept with a pink Cheer Bear costume within reach, and Connor with a fuzzy-headed lion. They wore those things ALL the time (sadly, the costumes now spend more time on their hangars than on the kids. Brant isn't into dressing up).
It came to the point where I would look at them and no longer see Cheer Bear or the lion. I would just see my children, in their normal attire.

For his fifth birthday, Connor received a Spider-man costume. Well, I had thought he was particularly taken with the fuzzy headed lion, but I was wrong. He LOVED the spider-man costume. He was a super hero every day.

About a week later, I had a bunch of errands to run. So I buckled up Cheer Bear and Spider-man and off we went. At Target, I was feeling brave enough to try something on despite having three kids in tow, one of whom was a one-and-a-half year old. We walked up to the desk and the attendant gushed to me "Oh its my favorite care bear!!" I looked around me and at the solid color shirt in my hand. What on earth was she talking about? "I love Cheer Bear!" she says. 
Ah ha! The light bulb flicked on. My daughter. 
Returns to Target completed, we headed to the bank. Now of course the bank I was going to had no drive-thru.  Once inside this bank, it was an open floor plan- no dividers or walls in sight. So we all trooped inside. By this point, Cheer Bear had decided she was tired of walking and the one-and-a-half year old was half asleep in my arms. Spider-man was somewhere behind me, I hoped.

It wasn't long before I was assured that he was indeed trailing behind; the lady behind the first desk squealed, "YIKES. Its Spider-man in the bank!!" 

Later, I remembered being thankful that I didn't get embarrassed by that kind of attention, as every eye in the bank then watched our procession to the front counter. I just smiled at anyone who's eye I caught, and went about my business. What could I have said? They're kids. They're just expressing their individuality. I get a kick out of it!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Making Mobiles

I just know that you want to make a craft for your kids.  I mean, can you think of a better way to spend your day than cutting, tying knots, and gluing shapes while the kids look on?
Just kidding!
So now you know how I spent my day. We (I mean I) made a mobile.

They did turn out really cute though, and the kids just love them.
Here is what I used:
We (I mean I) made two mobiles. We decided to make mobiles to match the kids' bedrooms. I bought a wooden dowel rod from Michaels, grabbed the first saw I could find in the garage, and proceeded to clumsily cut the rod into four pieces. I am glad that Dean was not around to see my hack job, literally.  Later, he informed me that that particular saw has big teeth on it, thus was not a good choice for cutting something so small. Anyhow...

After spending forty four hours cutting construction paper shapes, I called the kids back to the table. Here is where the word 'we' actually holds some truth. We had to arrange all the shapes into four groups, then arrange each group into a line. Aubrey chose to arrange her shapes in a pattern, first by color, then size. Here was an opportunity to learn about patterns!
Next, I tied the clear jewelry wire (fishing line would work great too) to a needle, and the kids threaded the four rows of shapes onto four pieces of wire. My five and six year old loved doing this, but it proved to be too difficult for my three year old who succeeded only in poking his finger.  While they were doing this, I was tying the dowel rods into a + shape and wrapping them with ribbon.  I used hot glue to hold the ribbon in place. Then I had to use a dab of hot glue to hold each shape in place on the wire.  The wires were then tied to the dowel rods, the wooden shape hung above the rods, and voila!
 Now I have some recommendations. DO NOT make an airplane mobile. Unless of course you are planning to do the cutting while the kids look on, or you have an older child that can cut difficult shapes. You can also try tying knots instead of using the hot glue. Another alteration: you can use a wire hanger instead of dowel bars, bend the bottom up so you have one long line to wrap with ribbon. Leave the hook unwrapped. You can use sticks from the yard, and hang pictures or leaf shapes. Get creative.
Oh, and don't forget to have fun! Even if you are doing most of the craft! :)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Infant Artist

Name: Donovan Reece
Age: 18 months
Date of Completion: January 7th, 2011
Dimensions: Roughly 2 ft. x 1 ft.
Medium: Baking Soda
Location: Momma's kitchen floor
Title: In the Wink of an Eye (Mom's title)
        What Fun!! (Baby's title)

Isn't he creative?!  Isn't he talented?!

Oh, how I savor those little foot prints!

How quickly their little hands and feet grow.
How quickly they get into mischief if you turn your back.

Fortunately for you, I have some behind-the-scenes photos. You get to see my genius in action.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Hunting for Cool Places

We received this fun book as a Christmas gift.

What I love about this book is that it's not a list of specific destinations. It suggests something to see or a place to go; its kind of like a scavenger hunt.

What's the number one place you gotta see? A lighthouse.

The book gives all kinds of fun facts about the place you are supposed to find.  For example, did you know that lighthouse keepers have created a system of physical painted patterns and light flashing patterns to distinguish one lighthouse from the other? A sea captain can map his position down the coast by marking each lighthouse that he passes.

Some of the suggestions we can already cross off the list. Or put the 'been there' sticker on. We drive on Route 66 every week, and we've been to a wildlife refuge as well as a boardwalk.

Other suggestions I don't think we'll even consider.  Can you imagine bringing four young kids people watching?  

It wouldn't be long till you had all the people watching for your kids.
I know where we are headed on our next trip to San Diego!

And I'll let you know how to find an archeological site once I figure it out myself.

Who would have thought to make a family trip to the landfill?  Certainly not me, but I have to admit that I am now thinking of the landfill that we drive past every other weekend in a whole new light. I now view the stinking heap of trash as an educational field trip.

My poor kids never get to quietly take in the sites; I'm always there cramming every little bit of knowledge about what we're seeing into their heads.

Here is one of my favorites: An old Folk's Home. I just don't know how my kids would do in one, they are rather shy.

Even though its the middle of winter, this book gives me an itch to hit the road.  I love an excuse to go on a trip!  

Over this last summer we went to the Grand Canyon. Now we just have to figure out which list item to cross off in the book - A Superlative Place, A Very Big Thing, An Artist's Inspiration, or a A Canyon or Gorge.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Racing into the New Year

I feel like life is a course on a race-track, like I see on my kids' Mario-Kart Nintendo game. Some parts of the course are easy going - straight away; other parts are full of bumps, twists, and turns.
I feel like we just completed one big curve in the course, with only two wheels touching the ground and me tightly gripping the wheel, my face set in a wince over the execution of that turn.

We brought in the New Year with a flurry of activity.  Once the snow stopped falling, we ventured out and enjoyed our stay-cation. We played games, toured a museum, went ice skating, and ate out. We enjoyed some overnight company with whom we sledded, ice skated, swam, and ate out some more.
And, as we are currently trying to find new tenants for our house, we have some added stress. This morning I felt like a crazy secretary (which is good, I suppose, it means progress).

While I thoroughly enjoyed watching my oldest two become comfortable on the ice, and my youngest two more confident in the water, I have never been so happy for the start of a week before like I was for this one.  Routine. Structure. School. Work.  Thank goodness!

I love routine, especially after a long, busy weekend.  I'm ready to hop off the race-way and walk in the park. It means I feel more in control, and I get to play again. And speaking of making time to play, I loved Anita's New Year's resolution.
And speaking of New Year's resolutions, I almost forgot to make any.  On New Year's Eve, when I told Connor that it would be 2011 in two hours, I realized that I had been too busy to give the New Year any thought.
One year is a long time. I doubt many people can claim to still be upholding their resolutions come March.  I like Jessica's decision to break down her goals into steps.

But I have no tangible goals that can be measured into steps, no plans to eat better, exercise more, spend less, or lose weight. I already make a conscious effort to serve more vegetables, and get out and get active as a family. I feel this is enough for now.

I simply want to be more present.  I want to give 100% in whatever it is I'm doing: reading to the kids, helping the oldest with his homework, building train tracks with the boys, braiding my daughters hair, visiting with a friend, or sharing a quiet moment with Dean.
I want to be a better mom, wife, friend, daughter, and sister.

I want to be more selfless and give more.
This year, I resolve to give myself.