Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Freestore Foodbank

This week's pick for Sharing Saturday was easy.  Grandma is a very dedicated servant to those in her community, especially with feeding families in need of food.  In honor of the upcoming Mother's Day, she has asked for donations to her team in the "Hunger Walk" for the Freestore Foodbank.  She never seems to want anything for herself and she insisted that this was the best gift we could give.  Done...gladly. 

Check out their website and check out all of their programs that serve the community.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The (Not So) Royal Wedding

Eleven years ago today, I married my "prince."  We share our anniversary with Prince William and Kate Middleton (they of course called ahead for permission, ha ha).  While their wedding was watched by millions this morning, I scoured the aisles for the perfect card for H.  The littlest girls and I filled the cart with some of his favorite things to show that we know him so well...just simple gestures.

Our wedding was not a big-budget affair.  It was simple and traditional.  It wasn't "royal" but it was the closest I have ever felt to it.  Most of the flower arrangements and decorations were handmade by my Mom.  We were blessed enough to have so much love and support from our parents.  Our siblings, family, and friends were there to celebrate with us too.  We were married at my childhood church and the reception was at his.  I was not pampered by "ladies in waiting" but I was surrounded by my very best friends who were so fun and generous (Thank you ladies!). 

I am happy for the newest married couple.  I hope that they are surrounded by support not just for this day but for the rest of their days together.  We have felt the support of our loved ones throughout the past 11 years during the birth of 3 children, the placement of our foster child, journey toward adoption, job changes and job losses, the death of my Mom, and a few housing moves. 

But most of all, I am happy to share my life with a smart man with so much integrity and generosity.  He tolerates my everything and seems to make me feel as though my quirks might just be endearing to him.  He is an incredible father to our kids.  We have fun and we work as a team.  Happy Anniversary, H!  Can't wait to see what this next year brings. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Happy Birthday PT

This adorable little baby grew up when I wasn't looking.  He's 7 today!  He is creative, smart, witty, and oh-so quirky.  He is my favorite son and I am so blessed to be his mom.  Happy Birthday PT!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sunday Funnies- J's Vocabulary Lesson

My three year old is a surprises me all of the time.  She insists that she plans to marry a  little boy we know.  His older sister told him and now he is shy around her sometimes.  We have discouraged any "boyfriend" talk so she reminds me that she is talking about when they grow up...not now.  (I stand corrected.) 

Well this morning she was telling L about her "boyfriend."  L quickly scolded her and said that "He's not your boyfriend!"  J looked right at her and said, "He's okay with it now.  He's adjusted."

What??  Did I hear her correctly?  What 3 year old uses the word, "adjusted"?

I asked, "J, do you know what hat means."

She said, "It means he's used to it now."

Of course I don't want her talking about boys....ever! But her unexpected vocabulary cracks me up. 

The other day at the bus stop, she very matter-of-factly stated, "Mom, I toot and yawn so that my body will know when I need to poop or sleep." (Pause) "And I am sorry that the first part of what I said was inappopriate (aka inappropriate)."  

I don't know where those verbal skills will take her in life but I hope she uses them for good.  Wish us luck.

Sharing Saturday- Chicks rule

I am way behind in blogging so I am trying to catch up.  I know that some people say that you just have to "make time" for the things that are important to you.  Right now, those people annoy me.  Just kidding but I am having a hard time getting everything done this week.  Anyways...

Our church is collecting money through the children's ministry to purchase chicks for families in Guatemala.  All of the kids liked the idea, so we have decided to "purchase" a few. 

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hoppy Easter My Peeps

The kids have been busy today.  All of my Easter decorations are in the garage, out of my reach...fancy that.  Also, a little known fact about me is that I really DO NOT like coloring eggs.  Luckily I forgot to get supplies while at the store last night so I had to think of some other activities to do the kiddos. So, we got crafty and made some of our own treats and decorations today since everyone was home from school. 

The older two cut out letters out of scrapbook paper, J glued them onto the penant shapes, and I taped them onto strip to make our "Happy Easter" banner.
Then we make sandwich cookies from two Pilsbury Easter themed cookies with strawberry icing in between by L and PT.  And to top it off, J's job was to roll them in sprinkles!

PT decorated the window with the eggs, chicks, and bunnies (of course) that they all made either at school or at home from scraps from the banner project.
And finally, I made carrot cake cupcakes with cream cheese icing (Yummy).  L wrote catchy phrases on paper and taped them to skewers...Hoppy Easter!, Some bunny is thinking of you., You are so tweet., etc.  (I wonder where she gets the love for word plays?)  Then they were topped off with a Peep. 

We are done...actually I am done.  Now they are relaxing and watching a movie together while JJ naps and I get some things done (a.k.a. blogging and laundry).  I hope that you all have a very blessed weekend and hopefully get to spend some extra time with family. 

Hoppy Easter My Peeps.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Winning Isn't Everything but It Is Something

PT decided to give soccer another try this year.  He has played t-ball/baseball for the last two Spring seasons.  Last Friday was his 1st game and he had a great time despite the cold and wind.  The funny thing is, he had a great time despite his team losing to (what I think was) 6-0. 

We get back in the car and says, "Mom, I love sports like this."  I wasn't sure what he meant so I asked what he meant by "sports like this."  He replied, "Sports where there actually is a winner.  Usually the coaches just say, I think we tied." 

It made me laugh.  So much thought has went into making young sporting activities so non-competitive, everyone gets a trophy, and every game ends in a "tie."  I agree that coaches and parents should focus on helping kids learn the fundamentals, sportsmanship, build self-esteem, and most importantly have fun.  Yells from the sideline should be of encouragement and of be positive.

However, I guess what I am noticing is that kids aren't being fooled.

Last year, L won a trophy in softball following tournament play.  I remember her saying something like it was the first trophy that she had "actually earned."  She was thrilled.  When they are preschoolers we play Candyland and someone wins.  They know how to count but we think they might not notice that one team has kicked 6 balls in the net and their team had 0.  Some kids catch on pretty quickly and they might just wonder why we keep lying and saying that their team tied. 

I do not want the focus to be on winning but I don't think it is wrong to help a child understand how to deal with winning, as well as losing, with good sportsmanship.  Once they are old enough to wonder who won, maybe we should tell them?  I say this knowing that at one time or another I have had one my kids get upset/cry when he/she loses.  My 3rd grader still struggles with this quite a bit, but she is wired that way and not from lack of encouragement or exposure.

Losing stinks sometimes but the game is fun. You have to be a good sportsman either way.  That's what I want them to know. 

Have your kids caught onto the everyone "ties" method?  If so, at what age?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Funnies: 10 X 100

PT is a first grader.  He is loving school and is always trying something new.  Lately, it has been math. 

We were all sitting around the dinner table, and PT was staring off into space. This usually means that he is creating something in his head or is deep in thought about how to save the world as a future scientist/archaeologist/toy maker.  All of a sudden, he asked us, "Hey, 10 times 100 is 1000, right?"  My husband and I replied, "Yes buddy.  Good job.  How did you figure that out?"

Then there was a pause (a suspicious pause, I might add) and the innocent math discovery took a turn.  That little turd looked right at me, grinned, and said with a zing, "I measured your underwear!"

By now, you have seen a theme of our kids catching us off guard with their zingers.  The whole family burst into laughter.  He had the audience he'd always dreamed of. 

What am I going do with that kid?

Sharing Saturday- Week 8 RMH

Poor J has the stomach bug that has been passed around our house.  It is also her week to choose who we contribute to so we listed some things for her to consider.  She immediately wanted to support her preschool in collecting items for the Ronald McDonald House.  I am not sure if she was more inspired because of her school's participation or the fact that Ronald McDonald is involved.  Either way, it is a good cause and we are able make her a tangible participant.  She will help us collect, choose what to purchase, and drop off items.

The project is described as follows.  "Help us as we provide sample donations of shampoo, mouthwash, toothpast, soap, etc. for the families who reside in the Ronald McDonald House while their child is treated at Children's Hospital. "

Ronald McDonald House has been around for 36 years and has many locations.  They state that, "We know that families are stronger when they are together, and their presence helps a sick child heal faster and cope better."  Who can't be on board with that right?

If you are local to the Cincinnati area, leave me a message if you have any unopened sample sized toiletries from traveling that you'd like for me pass on for you.  If you are not local, check out the website for simple ways to help in your area.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Balanced Life

I have been watching (Yes, not reading.) Eat, Pray, Love on my DVR, in bits and pieces of course.  I was not hoping for anything other than entertainment.  However, at the end of the movie, some dialogue really caught my attention. 

To set the scene, Liz has broken up with her boyfriend because their passion was overwhelming her and she wasn't maintaining her "balance" and routine.  She didn't want to lose herself again, as is possible in any intense relationship and her friend, Ketut, asks why she ended it.  The response is as follows...

Liz: (Tearfully) I couldn't keep my balance.
Ketut: Please listen to Ketut.  Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life.

A common theme in motherhood conversations and blog posts is struggling with balance.  The relationship between a woman and her family is intensely important.  I also know that trying to be everything to everyone can be overwhelming and exhausting. I know that it can zap your life of fun if you let it. 

I am a daughter, sister, wife, O.T., Christian, friend, mother, homemaker, foster mother, neighbor, and volunteer to name a few of my roles.  It is so easy to feel as though, at the end of certain days, that I am not enough to everyone.  Sarah Markley blogs about this today and Tricia wrote about the many "moms" we can be, yesterday. Check them out too.

We have 4 small kids and a lot of responsibilities that go with that.  There is part-time childcare (Thank you Grandma), games, bus schedules, preschool, practices, school projects, therapies, church, case workers, meetings, paperwork, blah blah blah.  This is a paradise of our own making and some days I can not believe that I am a part of this blessed life.  I am SO thankful. 

There are also times when I haven't given our marriage enough attention.  My career and hobbies have been put on the back burner (but not gone). There are sleepless nights, phone calls not returned, birthday cards forgotten, books not read, thanks and prayer not given, workouts bypassed and less-than-stellar mommy moments because I allowed my stress to affect my kids.  I jokingly told someone last night that when I got married I lost my last name (it is actually my middle name now) and lost my first name when I had children.  I am now commonly introduced as, _____'s mom.  There have been nights when I feel so unaccomplished and out of balance. Have you been there? 

The definition of "balance" is different for every woman and every family. The sometimes polarizing debate of SAHM vs. WOHM is mostly futile in my opinion.  After all, it is a blessing that most of us now have some choices.  What is more productive is to remember that most of us share the common belief  that our family's well being is top priority.  At the end of the day, we are all probably still feeling a little overwhelmed.

It is essential to find a balance for your family and for yourself.  It is not selfish to make time to focus on your marriage.  After all, you are the earthly example of love to your children. 

It is necessary to make time to be healthy (I stink at this.) and find outlets for your skills and creativity.  After all, God has given you those talents for a purpose, right? 

It is important to dedicate time for God, friends, and family.  You will need each other for support throughout this life.  Relationships are a gift and need attention to survive.

It is okay to admit when you need to be alone for a little while.  After all, in an airplane, they tell you to put the oxygen mask on before you help others.  You need oxygen to be the best wife, mother, and friend you can be. 

My husband and I have date nights, however, not very regularly.  So we order in and eat dinner together after the kids go to bed or we talk on the phone or text during the day.  I have also been known to let my husband know that "I need 15 minutes."  This break allows me to get off the hamster wheel for a minute and recharge.  My friends have supported me through tough times and I want to spend time with them too.  It is hard to coordinate but there is facebook and phone calls and the occassional Girl's Night Out...even a weekend in Florida once.  I don't have the time, money, or space for some of the hobbies that I used to do so I blog, volunteer for the food pantry, or go to a friend's house for a few hours of crafting a couple times a year.  I am sure that I could do better if I were more organized but this formula works for my family...for now.

I find time to do things other than parenting but statistically, my life is out of balance.  However, this is our family's balance. Sometimes, it works like a charm.  Sometimes, I cry on the kitchen countertop (true story) because it is all out of control.  My balance doesn't look like your family's balance.  Our goals are probably similar, yet quite possibly our methods are not and that is okay.

Most of my time and energy is spent on parenting, cooking, cleaning, driving for my family, reading about parenting, earning money for the family expenses, writing or talking about parenting, praying for my family, or planning or volunteering for something for them.  It is out of balance as Liz told Ketut.  However, this is the season of my life for a little imbalance and chaos. 

Why do we do this to ourselves??  LOVE!!  Oh how we love them!

Moms, be reassured by Ketut's response, "Sometimes to lose balance for love is part of living a balanced life."

Are you struggling with living a balanced life?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We Had The Talk

So it happened.  I had the initial "birds and bees" talk with our 8 year old. 

No it wasn't prompted by some inappropriate language on the bus, HBO left on the T.V., or an over-sexualized society.  What sparked the discussion you might ask??  The BIBLE!

L came up to me and quietly stated, "Uh Mom, there are these two girls in the Bible and (now whispering) they had S-E-X with their father."  GULP!!

I motioned for her to join me in the other room so that her siblings didn't get in the conversation.  I asked, "Do you know what that is?"  She stated, "I am pretty sure that it involves some nakedness....In science, we learned about eggs being fertilized to make a baby so I think it might have to do with that too."

She and I were grinning at each other the whole time. It was like watching a train wreck...neither one of us could look away. 

 I confirmed her suspicion about "nakedness," and (in simple terms) explained the basics.  

Her response...."That is disgusting!!"  I have to admit that I was actually a little happy to hear her say that.  However, I also didn't want to freak her out either.  I told her that it is supposed to be disgusting right now because she is so young however, she'd feel differently when she was married and wanting to start a family.  I reassured her that she not worry herself about it now and emphasized that she never repeat this information to her peers or siblings.  After all, they should have that discussion with their own parents.  

I remained casual and light hearted (on the outside).  I reminded her that she should always bring me her questions vs. asking friends because they are clueless too and I will always give her an answer.  

The real kicker was when we were rapping up the conversation.   I could tell that she was still processing outloud when she sort of mumbled, "Well you and Dad don't...Oh my gosh!  You do! You have kids!!!"  I just looked at her and nodded in confirmation and we both laughed and groaned in embarrassment. The look on her face was indescribable.   Her reply was, "I may never look you in the eye again." All I could say was, "Sweetie, I may never look you in the eye either." 

I asked her if she had any other questions and frankly, life just kept marching on.  (However, she did avoid eye contact and made some faces at me that day. )  I found my husband and shared the story and we just laughed.  I am sure that I didn't handle it perfectly but I did that best that I could on a moment's notice.  I knew that the conversation was coming but I never thought that a Bible story would get he ball rolling. 

Have any of you had the "talk" and what sparked it??

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Funnies: What Does "Take 4" Mean?

Our kids found a game that had been put away....for a long time. It is called "Stack Attack." Essentially, it is the cheaper version of Jenga.

                             Looks innocent enought, right??  Well it was until H heard the kids ask, "What does give 4 mean? What is a waterfall?  Why would you want to pat your head and rub your tummy?" 

Oh no!!!  That isn't just any Jenga-like game.  It is "drinking Jenga" from college.  Needless to say, the kids were redirected quickly and the game was put in the trash (after taking these great pictures of course). 

If you look really closely, one of them says, "Go outside on the porch and scream "I LOVE BEER!," Some of the other great ones say... Do the macarena, Doa Break dance move, Bark like a turtle, and Drink 5.  Luckily they didn't get the chance to read them all.  Believe me, not my proudest moment.

I couldn't decide if this was a better for the "Sunday Funnies" or a new "Mother of the Year" post.  I guess it is both.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Week 7

I reminded PT that it was his choice this week and he replied (really thoughtfully), "I want to give to the blind.  You know, the place with the rainbow painted pig in front of it.  You know, we pass it on the way to L's softball practice." 

H and I looked at each other in complete confusion.  Poor PT kept trying to describe this wonderful place and we just weren't getting it.  All of sudden, it hit me.  "PT, are you talking about the place on the corner that sells blinds?" I asked.  He looked embarrassed as he shyly replied, "Oh yeah."  This whole time he thought that place was serving blind individuals instead of selling blinds and window treatments.

H and I grinned at each other as my heart melted with his sweet innocence.  We quickly started talking about places that do serve the blind and his confidence seemed to bounce back.

This week, we will be donating to the Clovernook Center.  The serve individuals with visual impairments and their mission is stated as...
"to empower people who are blind and visually impaired to be self-sufficient and full participants in their communities.
Clovernook provides comprehensive program services including training and support for independent living, orientation and mobility instruction, vocational training, job placement, counseling, recreation, and youth services.
In addition, our Business Operations provide meaningful employment opportunities for individuals who are blind or visually impaired, while at the same time manufacturing high-quality products for customers across the country."

When researching resources for the blind, I also came across the Blind Cafe.  If anyone is interested, check out their website for dinner theater opportunities in the dark in various cities.  They work with blind and sighed individuals in the city where they are performing to raise awareness about blindness while entertaining.

I hope that you all are having a good weekend!!  I have missed blogging but I made the mistake of wishing (out loud) that I had a mom's "office day."  Therefore, I became ill and was quarantined from the computer and from life in general.  The last time I stated that I needed an "office day" I came down with a horrible case of strep.  I think it is a conspiracy!  Feeling better now and enjoying an afternoon at home with the family. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wise Gals

As an occupational therapist, most of my collegues are women and mothers or grandmothers.  I just wanted to take a minute and jot down a few pieces of wisdom shared with me from a few co-workers who have already mothered little kids...and survived.   They are the moms that listen to some of us talk about how stressful having young babies and children can be.  I suspect that they also may be quietly laughing to themselves while thinking, "You think it is stressful now...just wait!"  Occasionally, they will chime in with a useful tip or reminder that keeps things in perspective.  Enjoy!

* Cereal counts as a meal.       This simple statement reminds me that I need to relax.  There are days when I can't accomplish everything I had hoped for.  Even letting myself "off the hook" every now and then by feeding my family something simple or ordering a pizza is just what I need sometimes.  The kids don't mind one bit.

* When picking up your older child or teenager late at night from somewhere, go in your pajamas.    This way they will be motivated to come out promptly.  If not, you'll be forced to go in or up to the pajamas.  No kid wants that to happen.  The thought cracks me up and I am sure that it would be effective.

* Instead of sending the kids to their rooms, send them to each other's room.  This was suggested by a friend of a friend.  She said that kids go crazy thinking about what their sibling might be doing in their room.  "Are they touching my stuff??, they think.  It is a negative reinforcer...or psychological warfare if you ask me.  Love it but haven't tried it yet. 

Feel free to share your tips and wisdom.  We could all use the help, right?

Monday, April 4, 2011

April Fool's Day

Last week was my kids' Spring Break so we tried to have some fun.  We had a little "staycation" while going to play putt-putt, rented a movie, stayed up a little later, played at a friend's house, and went to COSI and the Cincinnati Museum Center.   The three oldest kids camped out on the girls' bedroom floor in sleeping bags all week long and slept in until 7:30am!  We even bought some "Spring Break cereal" for them to have for breakfast.  (Honestly, the simplest things still can make them happy.) 

On Friday, my kids decided that I had to be the target of their April Fool's Day fun.  PT instructed me to stay in my bed because they were making me a special breakfast.  I was really proud of them and almost posted about it on Facebook when I thought, "It's April Fool's Day....what are they up to?"  I waited and prayed for safety in the kitchen. 

They walked into my room with the biggest grins on their face. L carried the tray to me and sweetly stated, "Enjoy Mom." This is what I found...

In case you can't tell, my toast has gel food coloring on top to mimick "snot."  Oh yeah, don't forget the plastic bug that is in the middle of the sandwich.  The water is tinted green and has gel at the bottom to look like worms and slugs.  GROSS!

The kids keep saying, "Eat it. Eat it."  I love them but not that much!

Did you pull any good pranks or have any pulled on you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Funnies: Why do they call them that?

PT ran into me the other day and proclaimed, "Ouch!  I hurt my NUTS!" 

My head spun around with surprise.  He has never used slang to describe his anatomy least not in front of me.  I have to admit, I chuckled and reminded him that he needs to use appropriate language.  He just said, "Sorry, but it hurt."

Fast forward to the next day...

PT came up next to me and quietly said, "Why to people call them nuts?"  Then his face lit up as if he had discovered a cure for cancer and followed up with, "Is it because they are easy to crack?!" 

I didn't know what to say, so I told him to talk to Dad about it.  Thank goodness for Dad!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Sharing Saturday- Week 6

L loves animals!  Since this week is her choice she quickly decided to give to an animal shelter.  The subject of this photograph is our dog, Grady.  I was looking for a dog at various rescues 5 years ago, and surprisingly I found her at a local Kroger store, after learning of an organization called HART.  The animals that HART rescues from euthenazia, abuse, and neglect go into volunteer foster care homes or are boarded at vet clinics while they wait for adoption.  They then have events at local stores where potentially adoptive families can meet the animals and their foster families.  It was a great opportunity to really learn about Grady first hand from those who were caring for her.  I remember them being sad to see her go but happy for the new family she had found.  There was an application process and fees, interview, and a few follow up calls to make sure that a good match had been made.  The rest is history. 

So whether you want to adopt, foster, or donate feel free to check our HART's website.  The mission statement below is from the website and gives you more information about their services.  We <3 HART and think that you will too.

* HART places all rescued animals in foster homes vs shelter

* All HART animals receive:

o Top notch veterinarian care and all currently needed vaccinations

o Specialized treatment and surgeries as needed

o Home Again microchips

o Spays and neuter of all animals

* Hart members share the same goal to save, spay, and neuter all of our rescued animals with love and respect

* We are a 100% volunteer, non profit, 501C3 charity organization with no paid staff of any kind