Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Board of Good Qualities

When it comes to my children, I am a worry-er.
Are they getting enough of my attention?  Will they stand up to bullying?  Am I raising them to be confident and loving?  Is my impatience scarring them?  Do they know how incredibly wonderful and special they, as an individual, are?

Sometimes it keeps me up at night.  Because during the day, life gets kind of crazy and I have no time to ponder anything as I try to keep this ship afloat and sailing.

And it's funny to me how we can be sailing smoothly along and yet, at the same time seem to be taking in water.

Smooth sailing example:
After one of my late night worry sessions that involved positive self images, I came up with an activity for the family to do together.  I pulled out our big chalk board and set it up by the dinner table.  I told everyone to think of something they are really good at.  After we were done eating, I wrote everyone's name on the chalk board and, starting with Dean and I, proceeded to write down everyone's self-proclaimed strengths.

I want my kids to have self confidence.  I want them to recognize their own good qualities and feel good about them.  I want their self-esteem to be their armor so that they thrive in environments outside the safe walls of our home.

I tucked away the bit of knowledge that my son said "I don't know if I'm good at it, but I like to play basketball" while my daughter said in a sure voice that "I am good at reading and coloring".
Food for the night thoughts.

After everyone was done explaining what they were good at, I told them they now had to come up with something good about every other member of the family.  This definitely took some time as there were six people giving six compliments, but I really wanted them to think positively of each other and find the good in each other.

I want my kids to think of others.  I want them to be kind and compassionate, and lift each other up. I want the knowledge that we have their back, always, empower them to turn their thoughts outward and be thoughtful of and helpful to those they encounter.

And I was pleased that everyone was able to do it.  Each of the kids recognized something good in everyone else.  The older kids especially surprised me with what they noticed and thought.  Our board of good qualities was full.

Taking on water example:
Elaina was in my arms erasing what I was writing for much of the time, so I handed her to Dad.  She then proceeded to crawl and walk all across the table, stepping into a plate of chicken enchilada.  Her howl at being put on the floor was hard to hear over.
Then, once the little boys' turns were over, they quickly lost interest in the activity and started wrestling and screeching at the table.  As usual, they didn't listen when we tried to quiet them down and separate them.  Dinner ended with kids bouncing every which way, the noise level near ear piercing decibels, and one child in a time out for biting another's bottom.

I have no idea if this little self-and-sibling-praise-activity will stick with the kids, if it will even help achieve the goal in mind, but I have to believe it will.  I have to hope that I'm instilling the values in them that I want rather than the faulty ones I demonstrate.  I have to believe that they'll remember the love, the sense of belonging, and the lessons rather than the chaos that always accompanies anything we do as a family.  I have to hope that I'm learning how to parent fast enough and making a difference now before they are all grown and gone.

I have to keep on believing it.
I have to.
Because it makes the smooth sailing feel like flying
and the bailing of water feel effortless.

Friday, April 26, 2013

17:52 Red

I like the color red. I like eating it too.

17:52 Red
An apple a day keeps the Doctor away
It's a wonderful snack.  One I ate every day at work while pregnant with Connor.  One that Connor does not like very much, but that Donovan loves with peanut butter.  One that I wish grew on our tree (darn that late frost).  One that is perfectly crunchy and sweet, especially in the fall.  

I'm just as curious as you are to see what other red things the gals have captured.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

a place with a pool

Our tent trailer was dying to be broken in.
Or rather, we were dying to break in our tent trailer.

However you look at it, when I mentioned to my sister-in-law that I've been wanting to see Kartchner Caverns, and found out she was wanting to go as well, we started making plans.

One whirlwind of a weekend that involved nine hours of driving, cave tours (very cool!), swimming in the KOA pool, bonfires, museum wanderings, and lots of cacti later, we are eager to do it again and hit up some more campgrounds.

I wonder though, if our first trip this season is going to be a tough act to follow. 
When we asked the kids where we should go camping next, the first thing out of their mouths was "a place with a pool!"

That's probably not going to happen every camping trip we do.  
We can do swimming hole though.  Or creek.  Or river.
Oh, the possibilities!  
Come on summer!

Monday, April 22, 2013

waiting to be sewn into something

Every now and then (usually when I'm bored) I head to the thrift store just because.  
I look through the rows and rows of ugly and worn clothing for those occasional surprises.  

Like this one.  

An American Eagle Outfitters dress (that I would never in my right mind wear as a dress). Or let my daughter wear for that matter.  Unless it was a swimsuit cover-up?

Anyhow, back to the matter.  This little number was a bit skimpy but pretty and flowy.  Kind of peasant-ish or bohemian. It had an elastic baby doll waist with a drawstring.  
In other words it was a perfect candidate for dress-turned-skirt.

Less than thirty minutes with the scissors and sewing machine resulted in this.

Makes me want to head to Goodwill.

If only there wasn't a pile still on my sewing desk of stuff that needs the attention of the sewing machine.

Which reminds me of another little project I finished up after the skirt.  It was a backyard-appeal-improvement project, if you will.  One that cost me nothing as the fabric is leftover from my patio chair cushions and the old hangar was found in our closets.

It makes me wish this family didn't need dinner in their bellies and I could go sit at the sewing machine.  I've got drawers full of fabric waiting to turn into something!

Friday, April 19, 2013

16:52 Drink Up

You know it's time to schedule in a little more "me time" when you drag your feet about leaving the coffee shop to run such a joyless task as grocery shopping, even if it is by yourself.  And you call another adult for some real conversation on your way home, driving around the neighborhood three times while chatting because you're just not ready to go home, even if it is to a sleeping household.

Yes, it's time to schedule in some girlfriend time.
I'd much prefer some conversation over this cup.
16:52 Drink Up
Drinking up the quiet, the photography exhibit, and of course, the hot cocoa.
Let's have a virtual coffee date!  What are you drinking up these days?  
Warm sunny days, I hope!

Continue around the circle by visiting Anita next.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The baby is the best

For all the trials a large family brings, for all the negative comments and pressure we receive, and for all the work raising a large family is, I don't know what we would do without the 'baby'.

The baby brings out the best in everyone.  
The kid that is ornery and grumpy one minute, becomes lovable and caring the next when interacting with the baby. When any of the older kids are bored, they go and play with the baby, which often results in lots of giggles. Even grown ups lose their solemness around the baby.
I think that all boys have some nurturing nature in them, and it is the baby that brings that side out.  Even the toughest of kids soften around the baby. It is so fun to see that not-often-seen side of them.

And laughter!?  It is our baby that has brought the most into our home (whichever child happens to be the baby at the time).

This little girl sometimes has the whole family in stitches with her antics.
She has this uncanny ability of lightening your sour mood with a simple raise of her little eyebrows.

Laughing at her (and often times with her as she thinks its pretty funny to be so funny) is the best stress reliever I know.

Point a camera at her and you'll get her classic baby cheese.  Give her a musical toy and you'll get a comical, high-stepping, tip-toe dance.  Tell her it's lunch time and she'll holler "Yayyyyy!". Cry and she'll come and give you a hug, saying "Huuuudt".  Take off her diaper and you'll hear her high pitched squeal as she runs her naked self as fast as she can away from you.
Show her a picture of Brant and she'll say "Butt!"

I'm shaking. Excuse me while I wipe my eyes.  That one still gets me. Every. Single. Time.

I hope every one of you has experienced the lighthearted laughter and the love that babies bring.
Because I thank God every day for our baby, and can't imagine our life without her.  

Friday, April 12, 2013

15:52 Reflection

Shopping with three kids...
It's quite an experience.  
An entertaining one mind you, if you're in the right mind set.

15:52 Reflection
One child is in his own world, the other looking at his reflection in the window, and the third child?
Well, that's a good question. 

Shopping with a toddler and two pre-schoolers is such an incredible experience that I have decided I will rent mine out to you so you can experience it yourself.  Actually, I wouldn't dream of charging you for this service, I will loan them to you.

However, I will not be held responsible for their actions.  Don't blame me if you have one child lying on the floor screaming and two others racing for the bathrooms, without you, the adult.
I'm just the mom after all.
And when your excursion ends looking something like this...

I'll just shrug my shoulders and mumble something about the results of shopping during lunch and/or nap time.

Perhaps Anita would like a chance to shop with three kids, and reflect on days gone by!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


The most satisfying feeling of the month has been to rip up the brown 80's carpet out of our bedrooms.
Yes, I did it myself.  Yes, it's a dirty dirty job.  And YES! it's so good to get it out of there!  
It's only been about a year and a half since we've lived here, on that nasty carpet, but who was counting?  

I was so eager to lay new floors, that I did all the prep work so Dean (and his brother, who came up one weekend to help) could get right to work in the evenings and on the weekends.  Prep meaning emptying the bedrooms, ripping up the old carpet and foam underlayment, and scraping the old glue off the floor (I left the tack strips to my strapping hubby. Those suckers were stuck nice and good in to the concrete). 

The kids even got in on the glue scraping action.

Child Labor!? What child labor laws?
My hubby may or may not have called me a slave driver several times throughout the whole process.
But for the record, I wasn't snapping pictures the whole time.  I oiled and waxed the baseboards, laid some laminate, and even learned to use the miter saw [Insert skinny jean and boot clad fist pump and bicep flex here]!  

My hubby (did I mention that he's handy as well as handsome?) showed me the ropes, or rather the blades, of cutting with the miter saw. For a part of the day he would tell me the measurement for the next piece of flooring, which end needed to be cut, and I would put on my sexy safety goggles and fire up the big, bad, saw. I should have had him snap a picture (Can you tell I'm a bit proud of myself?). 

In all seriousness though, I have to say that I enjoyed stepping into my hubby's turf for this project.  We had fun working together, and it was very satisfying to participate in every aspect of the project.  If you've never really worked side by side with your partner before, put it on your bucket list. Seriously! 

Working on the master bedroom.  Don't mind the curtain floods. Some day I might fix those.

It was a lot of work to live in a remodel job and the house felt upside down the whole time, but we are more than happy with the results.

Can you spot the three major differences between the two photos above?  And no, messy room/clean room does not count as a change!  Think home improvement projects.

Besides the flooring, the boy's room is now sporting a new light fixture and 'cool cucumber' walls (which didn't photograph well).  I think that BEHR misnamed the paint color though; every time I spend time in that room, I feel like eating a bowl of pistachio pudding.

And every time I walk into one of the bedrooms now (barefoot is the best) I marvel at the new, clean, and lighter look.  Yes, it was definitely worth the work.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Bed of Roses

I'm not going to lie.  I have some pretty bad days.  Yesterday was one of them.
I don't know why Mondays haunt me so, but they do.  Especially after a weekend of late nights for the kids (and by late I mean 9:30 and 10:30!).

I thought I had figured out how to have bad moments and not let them turn into bad days.  I thought that if I simply acknowledge my current mood and allowed myself my feelings that I'd be able to move on.  Well, I was wrong. I don't know how many times I told myself "Man, I'm in a pissy mood" and "I can't handle these kids!"
My revelations did nothing to improve my day, in fact it simply got worse.

I thought I had figured out how to love my job as a mother, no matter the day.  I thought that if I reminded myself over and over that "this is really what I want to do and that I want to raise my kids, not leave the job to someone else", then I'd enjoy it regardless of what life throws at me.

And actually, I still love my job.  But had you asked me yesterday if I loved my job, I might have hollered at you that "I sure as heck don't love this moment.  And don't even try to remind me that this is what I chose, this is what I want, because right now, I want to be anywhere but here".
And I honestly did.  I thought about taking off once Dean got home and checking into a hotel.
Instead I checked into my room and locked the door.

I can't really explain my bad day. Hormones, crabby kids, being sleep deprived and therefore impatient all had something to do with it.
Sleep does me wonders sometimes.  So does some peace and quiet.
After being replenished with both, today was a much better day.
I'm able to find joy in the little things.

Like my five year old's face lighting up when he realizes that what I call "minus" is the same as what he calls "take away".

It is seriously a delight to work with this boy; he is so bright!

And my three year old really isn't deliberately naughty.  After I colored with him for a while, he decided he was going to help me do the dishes (aha! that's the key to cooperation!). And today I had no problem waiting for him to put the silverware and tupperware away.  Or letting him wash my last bread pan.

Gosh, but he's a sweet boy.

So I guess the moral of my story is that life really is a bed of roses.  Yeah it's beautiful and smells sweet, but there are thorns too. We all have bad days. We all have moments in which we  perform less than our best.
And you know what?  That's okay!  Go get some sleep, recharge, relax, and do better tomorrow.
If you take care of yourself today, there's always tomorrow to take care of everything and everyone else.

Friday, April 5, 2013

14:52 At Play

I can't get my kids to come inside.  First thing in the morning, they're out riding bikes (yes, before school).  They drop their backpacks in the garage and go play the minute they get home from school.  And I've taken to sunblocking the pre-schoolers because they spend more time outside than in during the day.

You just can't beat outdoor-living weather.  It's one of the reasons I am so thankful I live in Arizona.

I love spring.  It means I will soon be leaving my doors wide open and fresh air will blow through the house.  It means later daylight hours. It means less socks, no boots and hats, and a smaller laundry pile.  It means the kids take their play outside, leaving me some peace and quiet inside. 

14:52  At Play

And since their play is outside, it means less housework for me in.  Meaning more time for me to play too.  Somehow it seems easier to bake, sew, and craft in the spring when the kids are out of the house.  I guess it's kind of silly of me to be inside baking on such beautiful days, rather than save that for winter days when there's nothing else to do anyway, but I guess that's how it is around here.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to play with fabric and my staple gun.
Anita will further entertain you with her interpretation of play.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Comfortably oblivious

I didn't think about it when I went and knocked on my neighbors door to ask for two eggs.  The boys and I wanted to bake chocolate chip cookies after all, had actually started to make them already before realizing we didn't have enough eggs.  So we borrowed eggs, baked, and ate soft, warm cookies that fell apart when we picked them up too soon.  And while I was pulling more out of the oven, I realized this was a perfect opportunity to bring a "welcome to the neighborhood" treat to the couple who moved in next door last week.

I didn't think about it when I knocked on the new neighbor's door either.  Or when she invited me in and we stood in her foyer chatting, me balancing the baby on my hip.

I didn't think about what kind of a picture I made, and looking back, boy oh boy it was a good one.  My first thought was "oh horror! I looked a wreck!" I must have screamed stay-at-home mom.

That morning, I had picked up the first pair of jeans I'd found - the pair I'd worn the last two days already.  I had pulled one of Dean's sweatshirts over my pajama shirt.  And I hadn't bothered to brush my hair.  What's more, I had gone to sleep with it wet the night before.

So yes, I was one stylin' mama. I was even wearing my black fuzzy slippers! Now it's starting to strike my funny bone! I think the only thing that could have made it better would have been my bleach-stained yoga pants and perhaps some food stains or booger smears on my shoulder from the baby.

And I stood in Kim's foyer, quite oblivious and very comfortable, welcoming her to the neighborhood.  I said "If you ever need anything, just let us know!"
"Oh, and the same to you guys. The same to you," she said.

I wonder if my words were a bit ironic to her.  Me looking like I did and with five kids running around my feet offering to help her out.

Because I don't photograph myself at my most comfortable, 
I'll share my kiddos, in not so perfect form.
Some days are just like that