Monday, December 20, 2010

Trail of lights












Every year we have hit "Zoo Lights" and loved it. Some years we freeze, others we get snowed on. This year we decided to try something new and we hit "Trail of Lights" at Chatfield instead. It was fun and pretty, but it was no "Zoo lights". Oh well, it was close by and we still had a lot of fun with no crowds to fight and no long drive. Here are the highlights!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Passion for Fashion

For the life of me I can't seem to find the "sarcasm font" on my computer. If I could, I would apply it to the title of this post.

I am passionate about many things; my children, education, helping women lift themselves from poverty. Fashion falls some where higher on the list than "dental hygiene" and lower than "really good food". A good day for me is clean yoga pants and a tee shirt. Usually, but not always, my outfit will include clean undies and a bra. Hey, don't judge, I have kept 3 children alive for 5 years and sometimes that takes all I've got.

For a while I could blame my post baby body and the fact that I was in between sizes for my slightly lack-luster wardrobe. Now said baby is a year old and I have no excuse for leaving the house looking like a lesbian librarian.

Last year I did a style post that got me moving in the right directions. Sense fashion changes, I figure it is time to do another little up-date

First up, military style. The means structured shapes, buttons, muted colors. This doesn't mean tassels, at least not for me. I like to take a fashion and figure out how to make it works for my life and tassels just don't work for me.

Cute dress, but a little short for me.


I love the jacket above, I would totally do this outfit. I got one similar to this at Target for about $10 on the clearance rack, it is green.


This jacket is cute too!

Now the ridding boot. Boots don't have to have killer heals to be stylish. Flat boots are very in, especially the type with a little chunk heal and buckle that look like the type the English use as ridding boots. These go great with jeans, skirts or dresses. Fun and comfortable. You can buy some for about $30 in a big box store or on-line for a bit more and free shipping. Check out endless.com.

Lacey tops. Now, there is a good way and a bad way to do this look. Below is the wrong way. It makes a statement, unfortunately that statement is "I'm easy". For heaven sakes woman, put on a cami!

This is a slightly classier way to wear the lace look. Lace detailing is an easy way to update a shirt. Rue 21 has some cute tops for under $15 as long as your know it is only going to last for a season.
Jeggings. I wasn't sure about this look at first and sometime I see it abused. Good: jeggings that look just like skinny jeans with pockets and a button and everything, only softer and stretchier. Dark blue. Bad: light blue denim print leggings with scrunchy elastic waist bands. They just look like bad maternity pants. The ones below are cute. You can get them for under $20.

The sweater dress, maybe a moms best friend. So comfy and warm. I choose sweaters long enough to cover my rather large hiney. If your hiney is smaller and cuter than mine, you can go shorter. All are "mommy friendly" and take just as long to put on as a pair of yoga pants and tee shirt. For under $100 for everything if you shop sales you are without excuse for looking frumpy.
Fashion is frivolous and meaningless, ever changing and completely in the eye of the beholder. But even though I know that in my head, my days seem to go a little smoother when I take the time to look like a woman instead of a frazzled, barely holding it together mother of 3. It doesn't hurt that my husband loves it when I put myself together, too!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thinking

I am a compulsive "over thinker". I am an information junky. These things go hand in hand. When faced with a problem, my first resource is information which is gathered like a rabid squirrel hording nuts facing a nuclear winter. And then I think. I chew over information, mull it over and over again until...well, until it usually ends up in some form or another on my blog.

My dad is quirky, and I mean that in a good way. Even though he is currently sporting uni-bomber hair, he is one of the smartest men I have ever met. Back when he was a grown up (I am saying that because I not sure what he is now, retired maybe?) he was a consultant, which basically means he was paid obscene amounts of money for telling people what they were doing wrong and how to do it better. And to think, I was given all that information for free for year while I was growing up and had no appreciation for it! My dad likes thinks like "mission statements" and "actionable goals" to the point he actually has a mission statement for his life. I think that is endlessly cool. To have something to measure every decision against would simplify things immensely.

I feel kind of like the last 5 years of my life I have been living in "survival mode". I have cranked out 3 babies and kept them all alive while running a home, often by myself. The thing about survival mode is I find it deeply unsatisfying. I hate the feeling of barley keeping my head above water, flaking out because I failed to take time to plan and ending the day with the feeling that life happened to me and I didn't actually spend time doing the things that I say matter most to me.

As baby turned a year old, my life has started to settle. I get a little more sleep. Matt was home for more than one week. I have started to do what I do, which is think. And when I am thinking I am gathering information. Here, in no particular order, is what I am working on:

-I want a mission statement for my life. Not because I want a neatly organized sheet of paper (although that does appeal to me on some level) but because it forces clarity when it comes to what I believe is important and can serve as a guide for making decisions.

-Stuff. I have a problem with too much. Actually, I am a product of a culture who has a HUGE problem with stuff and I some how got sucked in. People matter, stuff doesn't. If it doesn't add to my life, it takes away from it and should be given away to bless someone else.

- Emotional stuff. Stuff we hold on to isn't all physical, I need to figure out what emotional dust bunnies are collecting in my closet

-Body stuff. How am I treating my physical body and is it honoring to Him who made it?

- Spiritual stuff. Growth. Service. Love.

As we end 2010 I have decided I want 2011 to look different. Intentional. I am not sure what steps I need to take to get there, but here is the first.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I Blame my Mother

It is her fault. I can't help the way I was raised, I was brain washed from young age.

Some of my earliest memories of Christmas are of my mother in the kitchen. Every year she would slave away, Christmas music blaring, while she baked one delicious sweet after another. She would make sweet breads and candy's, cookies and bars. We were allowed one or two but the rest were packed away in Tupperware in the freezer. Until the day we made plates.

All the yummys were brought out and lined up on the table, fudge, gingerbread, toffee, caramels, cookies of all types, mini loves of cranberry orange bread. Assembly line style, plates were filled to overflowing, wrapped, labeled and bowed to be distributed among those we deemed worthy, pastors, teachers, bus drivers and friends.

To me, Christmas is synonymous with baking and I blame my mother. When I play Christmas music I just can't keep myself from whipping up a batch of whoopie pies or revel bars. Soon the house smells good and my children are underfoot waiting for the goodies to come out of the oven. The treats are shared and eaten, then frozen for a later date when they will be put on plates for those important people in our lives, friends and neighbors maybe even the mail man.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas Time

Its that time of year again. And frankly I am feeling a little...grinchy. I don't know if its that fact we have yet to have a good snow (HELLO! It is freaking December in COLORADO! what the heck?!) Or if I am just sick of Matt having to travel or if I am just put out buy all the commercialism and consumerism of the season, but my Christmas spirit is, well, lacking.

Eliana loves this time of year and I do my best to make it very special. We bake ridiculous amounts of cookies, even for me, decorate the house, read special stories, the whole works. And yet my heart just feels...grumpy.

Last year we got a little people manger scene. We brought it out this Christmas and Eliana loves to tell the story. She will actually hide all the pieces from her sisters because "they just don't do it right!"

The other morning I came down and the scene was all set up, Eliana style. That means everything, from sheep to camels to kings, was facing the sleeping baby Jesus. All the pieces were crowded around as if they just couldn't get enough of the baby in the manger. I guess that girl has been listening all along, I am pretty sure my 5 year old is doing better at maintaining focus than I am.

Maybe my heart will get there, too, crowded around a rag wrapped babe in the arms of a scared teen aged girl. A King, who gave up his throne to walk among those who would hate him to the point of death, but who choose to love above all else to show those who have grinchy hearts the way to live. Maybe I too can squeeze in between the donkey and the sheep to turn my heart to what this season is really about.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Socks

I am not a fan of socks. I wear flip flops in the summer and slip on's durring the winter. I own socks but rarely feel the need to wear them. Matt steals my socks. He is an avid sock wearer, which I believe many men are, and he looses/destroys his own so he steals mine. I have taken to buying pretty socks just so they will stay in my drawer. He is never desperate enough to reach for the pink argyle.

My children don't wear socks which isn't all together shocking considering the battle over undies. But now it is winter. To earn my ever fleeting "Mother of the Year Award" I feel the need to make my children wear appropriate foot attire when it is under 30 degrees and that means socks. Eliana always whines "but I can't FIND any". I thought she was being dramatic. I went into the sock drawer, which is FILLED with socks. Single socks. Baby socks. I sat for a good 20 minutes and sorted the socks. I found several pair of matching socks...in sizes that would maybe fit Annabelle. I found princess socks, but not two of the same princess. I found red, pink, baby blue, striped and white socks and out of the whole drawer I found only 3 matching pair.

Where do socks go?! I am sure I buy them in pairs. I am a little behind on laundry but can't imagine any socks are in there because MY CHILDREN DON"T WEAR SOCKS! In my defence. I have found many a small animal tucked into my girls socks. Apparently, when not being used as footwear, socks make terrific sleeping bags for all sorts of doll's and toys.

A long time ago, maybe at my baby shower when everyone was passing around great motherhood advice, someone mentioned socks. I believe they said "buy all the same kind, in white". That sounded like no fun. I am pretty sure I completely disregarded that advice all together. And that is why my children's sock drawer looks the way it does.

Once again the "Mother of the year Award" has slipped through my fingers. Don't mind me, I am just off to target to get my children socks. White socks. All the same kind.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful

Ok, so it isn't a very original topic for a blog post, but it seemed appropriate for today. Today I am thankful for:

- My country. America, with all its screwed-uped-ness is still the best place in the world I could hope to live and raise children. And though I try not to make it a habit to quote Oprah, the fact my girls were born here already makes them some of the luckiest women on the face of the planet. I don't have to worry about my home being bombed, weather or not my girls will ever learn to read or be allowed at school, and weather or not they will be able to follow there dreams to become whatever God created them to be.

-My state. Both of living and of mind. Colorado is beautiful, lots of opportunities to appreciate the beauty God created for no other reason than He is a God who loves beautiful things. My state of mind is content, my needs are met as are so many of the desires of my heart.

-My family. The in-laws, those under my roof, my sisters, nieces, nephews, grandparents, aunts uncles and parents. I was raised in a family who knew how to love and taught me well, as was my husband. My sisters married awesome men who make fabulous fathers to my nieces and nephews. My Grandparents are an inspiration, both sets married for over 50 years.

-Matt and my girls. I am so lucky to be married to a man that I not only love, but usually really like too! I wake up with my best friend who shares my heart and inspires my dreams. A man who is an amazing father to 3 beautiful little girls who are the water that overflows my cup. Eliana, the thinker, Addilyn the stinker, and Belle the babe. I couldn't be more blessed.

On this day I will chose contentment. I will choose a grateful heart. I will let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be joyful. I will be thankful for all that I have and everything yet to come.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blog Ideas

Some time the land scape of my brain is baren as a sand dune. I couldn't come up with an idea to blog about to save my life, some days it seems like a struggle to just come up with a conversation topic. I can always write about my life, my kids and what my day looked like, but that is very surface, and rarely captures my heart. I came accross this list and was inspired. I stoll it from another blog, don't give me credit, but I thought it might help some of you other blogging friends. Maybe I am the only one so sleep diprived that I need help, but if not, here is a little inspiration.

1. What was the funniest/nastiest/most memorable prank you ever pulled on someone?

2. Describe your first date/first kiss. Hmm.. did you see stars or you just felt gross?

3. What is scariest experience you had?

4. What kind of games did you play as a kid?

5. What do you miss most about your childhood?

6. What kind of child where you? Shy? A bully? Popular? Loner? Stubborn? …

7. Do you have any phobias? what thing do you fear most?

8. Who was your celebrity crush during your teens?

9. What outfit did you wear before that you swore you’d never wear again? If you have photos and the right amount of courage, then post it!

10. Do you have any regrets? Whats the biggest mistake you ever made?

12. What’s the weirdest/hardest/funniest job you ever had?

13. What’s the most embarassing thing that happened to you?

14. What’s your wildest dream?

15. Create characters about your family and friends and talk about their unique characters. Use avatars!


Lists:

16. Your dream gadgets..

17. Top 5 places you want to visit in your lifetime.

18. TOp — movies you’d watched over and over again. OR if you are in the mood to be negative – movies you wish you didn’t watch.

19. Top 5/10 songs that makes you want to wish for ear plug..

20. List down your beauty product must-haves.

21. What’s inside your closet? Talk about your fashion style..

22. Gifts you’d like to give your husband/wife?

23. What’s always in your grocery cart

24. List your favorite / influential blogs or make a weekly/monthly blog picks list

24. Search the net for available resources for a particular interest.. ie. scrapbooking, ebooks, downloads, recipes..

26. 5 things you want to change in yourself..

27. What was the last book you read? Write a review..

28. Review a friend’s blog or any blog you find interesting.

29. Like eating out? Review a restaurant.

30. Talk about the last hotel you stayed in.

31. Review a product. Gadgets, beauty products, household products, whatever you fancy.

32. Review a TV show, a soap or a movie.

33. Talk about an excellent service you got..

34. Tell your readers how you got into blogging..

35. How did blogging change/influence you?

36. Have any special skills or hobbies? Make a tutorial. (This could actually make a series of post Hmm)

37. Want to know how your readers think (ie about elections, products, news etc)? Run a poll.

38. Check out the latest weird / odd news and talk about it.

39. Youtube, MetaCafe, Veoh etc offers a lot of interesting videos. Embed one and discuss it.

40. check the latest news and state your opinion about it.

41. Post something funny. A cartoon. A funny photo.Funny lists..

42. Find a quote. Share your thoughts.

43. Learn something new, a language, web design, graphic illustration, anything.. and share your progress and tips you pick up to your readers.

44. What are the things you won’t write about in detail? Why you won’t blog about this topics?

Now is your chance to get back at them..i would suggest not naming them I’ve done this and somehow it got something off my chest.. lol!

45. that college professor you who almost made you pee in your pants.

46. the school bully who took pleasure in pulling your pigtails.

47. that ugly boyfriend/girlfriend who left you for an uglier girl/boy.

48. the nosiest neighbor you have.

49. that obnoxious co-worker who keeps grabbing credit for your work.

50. what gift would you give the person you “don’t like”

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pretty

My dad posted this video a while back and it has stuck with me. Warning, she drops the "f" bomb. But it is still worth watching.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6wJl37N9C0

Pretty. Even Eliana is already obsessed with the idea of 'pretty'. Princesses are pretty. Dress make you pretty. Make-up is pretty. Bows in your hair, lace on your socks, ruffles on your clothing...pretty.

I consider myself happily average when it comes to looks. Happily now, but I remember obsessing when I was younger. Boys didn't help, making comments about my flat chest and long skinny legs. I have always felt to skinny, to tall, I talk too much, have too many opinions, I'm too loud and clumsy. I don't have a dainty or graceful bone in my body.

I am not sure when it all changed, not my appearances and everything else but my reaction to it.
My body is not nearly as good as it used to be. But I am OK with what it is now. The scars show my history and the body I have is the one that brought three children into this world and nourished them for months. My looks don't define me. I am a sum of my body, my beliefs, how I spend my time and money, my relationships, my personality and my passions.

How do I communicate this to my daughters? In a world that show little girls that your only as worthy as you are pretty, how do I compete with that message? How do Matt and I teach our girls that "pretty" is in the eye of the beholder? Pretty is a state of heart not appearance. Pretty is an attitude.

I believe that there is something hard wired in girls that make them desire "pretty" and that, in and of itself, that is not a bad thing. It is only bad when it is the only thing. How do I keep that from happening?

Pretty. My daughters will not be reduced to five letters.

Party Time













Us Crocker's know how to party. Well, as long as the party includes insane amounts of children, obscene amounts of candy and copious amounts of cake. This weekend, we rocked it. Here is the proof.










Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Time

In 5 seconds:
-Annabelle can flip over and escape a diaper change, naked hiney flashing as she crawls down the hallway, stopping only to pee on the floor and giggle.
- A one year old can fill your cup of coffee with what ever was left on your breakfast plate. Eggshells can really ruin a cup of joe.
- A 2 year old can completely forget what she was supposed to be doing and get side tracked by just about anything.

In five minutes:
- A baby can completely empty a cabinet of Tupperware
- I can take a full shower including washing my hair and shaving my legs
- My girls can go from best friends to mortal enemies
-I can start a load of laundry, brush my teeth, put on my make up and find one shoe

In five hours:
- I can get all 3 girls down at the same time for a nap
- I will have made 2 meals and at least one snack for 5 people
- A five year old can pretend to be a princess, a vet, a mommy and a monster
- A clean house can look like a tornado hit

In five days
- I will make a least one trip to the store, the library, a fast food joint, a gas station and some nameless activity decided upon by my children.
- My eldest daughter learns some basics of reading
- I will make at least cook enough to feed at least 75 people a meal, not counting snacks

In five years:
-I go from teaching others children to teaching my own
- I learn that I really had no idea how truly selfish I was
- I gain a deep understanding of sleep deprivation, have gained over 75 pound and lost it again, and believe deeply that there is no better thing for a child than time with mommy

Monday, November 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Baby Belle


One year ago today I met Annabelle for the first time. Tiny, loud, and very much adored. She is becoming such a little person. Gone are the days where she is a paper weight, smoshed in a blanket, staying in one place, demanding constant minding. Now, one the move with a sense of humor to accompany her sense of adventure, she is becoming more and more herself. She hates to be excluded from any fun or food, dances to music both audible and in her mind. A tiny peanut of a person, I am loving watching her grow. Happy birthday baby!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Awwww Crepe.

Crepes make me happy. Crepes filled with chocolate or lemon curd and strawberries or marscopone and cherries make me really happy. Alas, those are hard to pass off, in good conscience, as a nutritious meal for 3 small children.

At our house Matt is in charge of the dishes. I hate dishes. I love cooking. This, and the picky appetites of the other female members of the household, leaves me with a real problem when Matt is out of town. I must come up with a meal that uses as few dishes as possible and that the girls will still eat. I could serve the munchkins pb and j every night of the week with nary a complaint from them, but when it comes to meals I prefer a little variety, and by that I don't mean the occasional hot dog.

And we are back to why crepes make me happy. With 2 dishes, a skillet and bowl, I can make a meal the appeals to the masses (if you consider the 4 of us a "mass") and is quick to clean up. A bonus is that I clean out the fridge from left overs too!

If you have never had or made a crepe, your missing out. These thin little French pancakes are good for so much! Tonight I had mine stuffed with left over chicken from last night, onion, cream cheese, avocado and black beans. Mexico, say "hi" to France. The girls like theirs with peanut butter but I have, on occasion, convince them they are good stuffed with a little cottage cheese and topped with strawberry preserves.

Next time you need dinner in under 20 minutes, try this. Make a batch of crepes:

2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (GF use 1/3 tapioca and 1/3 oat/brown rice)
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 melted butter

Mix up and pour in thin pancakes on a medium-hot, small skillet that you have lightly buttered. Think tortilla thin. Wait until the top looks pretty dry and no more bubbles are coming to the top, no need to flip, they will cook in 1-2 minutes.

Now go look in your fridge. What do you have left over? Think meat/mushroom, veggie or two, and cheese. Toss the meat and veggies into the skillet with a little butter and some onion, pepper or garlic (or all of the above!) until warm. Scoop on to half of the crepe, top with the cheese and fold over.

Here are some combos to get you started:

chicken, asparagus and goat cheese
mushroom, spinach and feta
black bean, corn, pepper and Cheddar.
sausage, tomato and mozzarella
chicken, mushroom and cream cheese
Bacon, mushroom and cream cheese
Mushroom and any cheese veggie

There you are. Your left overs are used up, your family is fed and your kitchen isn't a mess. If your feeling really on top of your game, make extra crepes while you still have all the stuff out. Layer them with waxed paper and keep them in your fridge or freezer for a super quick and healthy snack or meal.

Now, on to the good part. There is no end of very yummy dessert crepes. If your in the mood for blintzes or you just want to impress your mother-in-law or the women at bible study, fill your crepes with a mix of beaten egg and marscopone cheese ( you can use cottage cheese or ricotta in a pinch). Roll them up and top with cherry pie filling and stick in the oven until the cheese firms up and the topping is bubbling hot. Other, less flashy, ideas are:

ice cream and chocolate sauce
slices banana and carmel sauce
fresh fruit and powdered sugar
lemon curd and strawberries
jam and fruit
peanut butter and chocolate

Now, go clean out the fridge from the last bits of cheese, the chunk of chicken that isn't enough for a meal and left over veggies. Happy crepe making!

Monday, November 8, 2010

5 years ago today

Eliana was born and my life hasn't been the same since. It has been nosier, more exhausting, more fulfilling, less restful and so much fuller. I am so proud of our little girl. She is starting to learn to read, she is kind and loving and the best big sister. She takes care of those littler than she is, is learning to love Jesus, has lots of friends and is such a sweet child. I am blessed to call her mine.

Eliana today, all dressed up in her new cowgirl outfit.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What works

My friend Jen just posted a blog post about "time- out's" that got Matt and I talking. Jen is a great mama who loves her girls a ton and I am so happy they have a system that works for there family. That got me thinking about what works in our family.

Our discipline strategy is different for every kid and every age. With Eliana we have some expectations. She is big enough to use words to let us know what is wrong and mature enough to have some self control. She is not, however, quite old enough to always stay on task without help, not melt down when she is really hungry or tired, and she is still learning what "truth" is.

I don't believe in disciplining children for things that they are still learning. For instance, if I ask Elie to do something and she blows me off, she gets in trouble for not obeying. But if I ask her to do something and she only gets it half done before getting side tracked, I will help her by reminding her to stay on task or setting a timer to keep her focused. My goal is not punitive, but instructive, my goal not being superiority but helping her to figure out how to grow into a little girl who can finish what she starts.

For being mean to her sister she is removed from the situation for not being a good friend, she has to go play by herself. I don't force apologies because I don't think it speaks to the heart and it is to easy to have them become power struggles. I strongly suggest saying "sorry" if you have hurt someone to make things right and usually my girls will do it, often without being told.

Addilyn is different than Elie, not only in personality but in age, so our expectaions are different for her. She is still learning self control and still learning to say words instead of coming unglued. We don't punish for her for throwing fits because that doesn't teach her anything. If she is upset to the point she is on the floor we do one of two things: if we catch it before complete melt down she is told to stand up and we get eye level and help her find the words. If all out fit is all ready started, we remove her from the situation. She is allowed to have her emotions and express them, she is not allowed to make everyone miserable as she does it. After giving her a few minutes to blow off steam, we help her get herself together. It is pointless to put her in her bed until she can "behave". If she was able to get herself together, she would have, but she is still learning. We help her take deep breaths and snuggle her until she can find the words for what she was so upset about.

For hitting or general unkindness, she is also removed from the situation. We talk about being kind when she has calmed down and again suggest making things right. If she is not inclined to obey, we just help her so she understands it isn't a choice.

Annabelle is an entirely different story. At almost one, she can sometimes be demanding, loud and can even throw fits with the best of them, all things she SHOULD be doing at a year old. We try to keep our reactions both age appropriate and logical. If she throws food from her tray at a meal she is told sternly "food is not for throwing". When she does it again, she is removed from the table. If the meal isn't over, she may try again in a few minutes. For throwing a fit she is picked up and distracted. There is no point in telling her not to when she is too little to be able to control her emotions, get herself together or understand. We do our best to help try and understand her needs so she doesn't get to the melt down stage.

Basically, we try to respect where are children are developmentally. I try to keep in mind that self control is something that is developed over time with age, not punishment and that "truth" is something that can only be understood when a child is old enough to understand the difference between real and pretend. We believe respect is learned by example, that children have a right to there emotions and empathy comes with age and maturity.

Fits are normal for all kids who are learning how to deal with powerful emotion and I know many a grown-up who still loses there cool from time to time. The rule with fits is two fold: one, you won't get what your throwing a fit about and two, you can't make everyone else miserable just because your mad. I will always help you regain your cool so that as you age you have the tools to do it yourself. We try not to discipline a child for things they are not yet able to control, no matter how frustrating we find them. We rarely spank, almost never do a "time-out" on a child but have been known to put a toy there, and try to focus on what we are teaching instead of what we are punishing.

Some families choose to bring God into the discipline process, we don't. Our big focus is that "God is love". As children get older they are able to better understand that because God loves us he has rules for us, right now that is just not something we are ready to shove down our kids throats. We do talk about loving behavior, about God loving us no matter what we do and about expectations, but I don't want my kids thinking God being the big man in the sky who they are always disappointing until they are able to grasp a little more the depth of his love.

Parenting is an ever-changing process directed as much by personality of both parents and kids as it is by anything else. I love to watch what works for my friends, I do my best to respect the choice they make for their families. I don't have all the answers and Matt and I do our best and by the Grace of God maybe we won't end up screwing this parenting thing up.

Monday, November 1, 2010

When Matt's away

I use his mug for morning coffee
I have to make my own coffee and it just isn't as good
I sleep on his side of the bed
I use his pillow
We eat fast food more
I cook less
I get more done
I have to do the dishes and take out the trash
I get less sleep
I don't eat as well
I miss him
The girls miss him
The dogs miss him

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hurry

Sometimes I have an entire blog post written out neatly in my head, other times it is more "stream of consciousness. Today falls under that "other" category.

I am visiting my best bud Jenny out here is Little Rock. Since we are in the South, we went to church on Sunday, least the McHam family get hunted down and tossed from the state for sacrilege. The church was a "big box" type, run like a machine, everything clean, punctual and polished.

The sermon was about Nehemiah rebuilding Jerusalem. A couple of guys who didn't play well with other kept trying to get Nehemiah to come to a meeting to sort things out. As we all know, nothing important is ever accomplished by committee and Nehemiah declined. Over and over he said "no". He knew God had called him to do a work and he wasn't going to be distracted, even by something that was" good", because it wasn't the "best" of what God called him to do.

This morning I was sitting in my jammies drinking coffee as Jen controlled the chaos that is two little boys who need to be dressed and out the door for school by 7:45 every morning. She didn't loose her cool and everyone was out the door in ship shape while I was still pondering my breakfast choices. I was glad it wasn't me. I don't like mornings and my children don't even posses a "hurry" speed. I end up stressed and grumpy, unpleasant to be around, any time our life requires us to be anywhere before 9.

And Sunday's message hit me. We all have to be aware of the "best" God has put in our lives. For me it is Him, Matt and the girls. We have to watch out for the things in our life that pull us away from that focus, even when they are good thing. My bests are not someone elses. My life and my choices belong to me.

This is one reason my kids are not in school. I can't be a good mama to them when I feel like all we do is hurry to be somewhere else. I am, in my heart of hearts, a homebody. God made me that way and when I try to be something else it just doesn't work. To be the best child of God, wife and mother, I have to honor who God made me and my children to be. We take very few classes, join very few groups and basically lead a boring, unhurried life. This might have something to do with the amount of work it takes to get three small children out the door and my inherent laziness, but that is an entirely different blog post.

We don't hurry well at this season in our life and I know it won't last and that some day we will be forced to move faster but as long as it is up to me, I will choose to do less, be less busy and be still to enjoy my children. I won't be distracted by all the "good' options of school, gymnastics, swimming, dance, and whatever else, they cause to much stress in our lives and keep me from being the best mama I can be. To the women who go from one thing to the next, I give you mad props, for you truly do something I could never accomplish.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Failure to Blog

This week I have been a lousy blogger and here are my excuses, you may choose the one that seems most valid:
-My husband was gone. As he cruised the streets of Berlin and Milan, I was up with a baby who had a cold.
-My operating level is somewhere between exhausted and comatose. I don't currently posses the intellectual capacity to type out witty banter. I hardly posses the ability to remain upright.
-All energy I possess is going into my children, sad but true. My house is a testament to this.
Sorry to leave you all hanging. Maybe if I get an hour or two of sleep I can think of a few sentences to string together.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Five in a Row- Caps for Sale

Discuss: Bible- Proverbs 6:10-11 Sleeping when you should be working
Do: Vocabulary-find all the "new" words we don't know (peddler, caps, etc)

Discuss: Types-What kind of hats was he selling? What other kind of hats are there?
Do: Art-Create our own hats out of paper

Discuss: Emotions-Talk about all the ways the man felt
Do: character-Show how we can handle each emotion in a right way. Play chrades and act our each feeling and let papa guess what it is

Discuss: Ways to carry-Why did the man carry things on his head? What other ways can we carry things? See pictures of African Women
Do: Large Motor-See how many hats you can balance on our heads while doing different activities

Discuss: Math-Count hats of each color and monkeys
Do: Money-Count out money and find all the different ways you can make .50

Field Trip: Zoo to visit the monkeys

Monday, October 11, 2010

Five in a Row- Runaway Bunny

I am an addict. I can't help it, is is something I have loved from a very young age. Books. I have shelves of them. I read several a week. I like true stories and mysteries, things that challenge my thinking or leave me dreaming. I have raised children that love books. Nothing makes us happier than sitting together with a new story.

There is a curriculum out there called "Five in a Row" that is all based on quality children's literature. I have had the book for a while and just not gotten on the ball to use it. Matt knew it was driving me crazy so last week he gave me a couple hours to go to Barnes and Noble and get my act together. The idea is you pull from a story your science, math and literature concepts. it is a christian based book so there is some bible learning in there too. You read the same book for 5 days, each day you discuss something and do something. Here is our plan for this week:

Book: The Runaway Bunny


Discuss: Bible
God's love is everlasting: Jeremiah 31:3 and Psalms 139
Do: Memory
Talk about what bunny pretends to be and what mama pretends to be

Discuss: Shapes
Round. Talk about how we call circles, disks, and spheres all “round”. Find in the story
Do: Math
Circles hunt. Find as many of the above as you can in the house

Discuss: Classification, talk about the different animal you see in the story
Animal Classification: Same and different
Do: Science
Animal Fun: Sort beanie baby animal by “same” and “different”

Discuss: Language
The word “scarecrow”
Do: Large Motor
Dress up like a scarecrow

Discuss: Illustrations
Ink sketches and color painting
Do: Art
Color a picture using several different shades of the same color. OR do an Ink drawing.

Field Trip
Pet store to visit the bunnies

Friday, October 8, 2010

Turn on a dime

My children are generally well behaved. Yes, they have there moments, as all children do, but over all they mind well. Except...

We have been having this issue of "blowing mom off". I ask Eliana to do something and she willingly leaves the room to go do it. Five minutes later I go check to see if it is done and Eliana is doing something totally unrelated. I offer a gentle reminder about what the original task was and leave her to get to work. After checking back, the task is still uncompleted and I offer a stern warning. And so it goes for ten times longer than it should to get things done. I find this endlessly aggravating.

Part of the problem is me. Eliana is 4. A VERY distractable 4 with two little sisters who add to the problem. Sometimes I need to give her a task and remove all "obstacles" (read: sisters) from her path so she can concentrate on finishing the job. But part, a large part, of this problem is with Eliana blowing me off and just not doing what she is asked to do.

We have threatened and bribed, taken away privileges and toys, gone to bed early missed out on fun and while all of these seem to make a point, the behavior has not changed. We just couldn't seem to find her currency, that is, until we tried currency.

My friend Jenny is a wonderful mom of two boys. She instituted a "commissions" program in her house. I liked the idea but hadn't gotten around to tweaking it to fit our home and children. Now, properly motivated, I have instituted our own "pay for play" program.

Here is how it works: At the beginning of every day the girls get 3 dimes. Why every day? Well, my other friend Jen reminds her daughter that "His mercy's are new every morning" and I like that idea. I also think that Elie is big enough to understand how money works. When I ask her to do something, I set the timer and let her know how long she has. If the task remains uncompleted, I assume that she wants to pay me to do it for her. Some tasks cost more than others. At the end of the week she can count out her dimes, swap them for dollars and off we go to the store/ice cream shop/bank. If she runs out of dimes I start taking toys which she has to buy back from me before she can spend her money on anything else. She is welcome to spend her dimes on TV time too. More dimes can be earned if Eliana asks for extra work to do, things above and beyond what is normally expected of her.

I like this system for a couple of reasons: first, it is like real life. As adults we always have the choice to pay someone else to do a task we don't wish to complete. Secondly, it is immediate, not "you lost your dessert privilege after dinner tonight" which seems to loose impact. Third, it teaches Eliana how to work with money a lesson MANY adults could use.

So far this seems to be working, I am not sure how it will pan out for the long haul. One thing I have learned about parenting: just because it is currently working doesn't mean it always will. There is a lot of value to being able to think on you feet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

By the Numbers

at my house you will find:

-3 little girls in their beds, all who should be taking naps, none who are.
-1 crock pot full of pork spare ribs cooking in apple cider waiting to be grilled up for dinner
- 6 baskets of laundry, some clean, some folded, some just waiting
- 3 kittens, one black, one white, one gray, all naughty and dangerously cute
- 1/2 a pan of brownies that was baked last night
- 2 tubs of ice cream, chocolate and vanilla
-7 shoes of various sizes in the hallway and yet not one that makes a pair
-1 mug of half drunk, now cold, decaf coffee
- 1 sink full of dishes and 1 full dishwasher because I forgot to buy stuff to make more detergent
-4 un-made beds because in the grand scheme of things, making beds seems like such a waste of time
-1 man, home for 7 days before he heads off to Canada, Italy and Germany
-1 brand new dinning room table with 4 chairs and 1 bench

And you will find me. A 30 year old teacher, mother of 3, wife to one, who has not had a full nights sleep in almost a year. I am off to put the smack down on chatty 4 year olds, ornery 2 year olds and wiggly babies. Wish me luck.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Apple up on top


Do you see it? That apple up there. The one taunting me, hanging high out of reach, looking all shinny and red?


Well, sure, I have a full tree of apples, but THAT one looks amazing. I am pretty sure it is bigger than the ones on the branches within reach. And it looks like it is more red, too. I have shaken the tree repeatedly, but that darn apple refuses to fall.


Life is like that, isn't it. We are surrounded by good things, apples with in reach, but what we REALLY want is that apple up on top. I guess it is a classic case of "the grass is always greener". The truth is I already have more apples than I know what to do with. They have made me yummy pie and apple butter and crisp. I don't need that one. It would do me know good to wish for that apple and ignore the ones I have.


Sometimes life is a balance between contentment and striving. You don't want to be shaking the tree so hard that you bruise all the apples within your reach but you don't want to quit dreaming either. I want to enjoy where my children are now, but I still long for a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.


There was another apple, like the one in the picture, all big and red and shiny. I shook the tree and and came flying down. Only to discover a squirrel had gotten to the apple before I had and enjoyed half of it. I couldn't see that from the ground, I could only see the uneaten part. I guess all apples that hang out at the top of the tree are not worth the lusting after.


And then there is the NEIGHBORS tree. Smaller, with apples easily reached. I watch from my upstairs window as the apples grow bigger, start to blush, then bloom to a full red...and fall to the ground to be eaten by bugs. She doesn't pick the apples, or even care that they are growing! If God had given me that tree, think of all the good I could do! Apple tarts, apple jam, pies for everyone? Yet she just wastes them!


That is not my tree, those are not my apples or my responsibility. God calls me to do my best with what he has given ME. Not the things that are going to happen someday, like the apple at the top of the tree. Not the bounty he gave my neighbor. My current blessings should be my focus, and how I use them to His glory.


Some of the apples within my reach are small, a little bit green, with a hole or two where a bug had his lunch but I am grateful and I am blessed. While my heart sometimes longs for bushels of perfect red apples, I will keep my energy and heart focused on those in my own basket.



****extra credit given to those who noticed the literary reference in the title******

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Green Chili

We are big fans of green chili in this house, we put it on everything that holds still long enough. Last year I made my own. Matt complained, after finishing the last jar, that I hadn't made nearly enough. This year we have already made and frozen two batches. Frozen because I don't really know squat about how to can things. Maybe next year I can tackle that. For anyone else who enjoys a little kick to there life, here is how we went about it.

-Green chilies. We buy pre-roasted ones from the farmers market. You could roast your own but that would be...intense. Or just a heck of a lot of work. Assume you need several pounds of roasted chilies. We buy a mix of medium and mild and our green chili always has a kick to it.

- Stock. We use chicken, homemade. You could use canned or even water, but we love home made stock. You will need 4-8 cups. Yes, that is a broad range but it sorta depends on how thick you like your chili and how many roasted chilies you could get your hands on.

- Tomitillos. I hear green tomatoes work too. We use about 8-12, they add a little tart or citrus note to your chili

-Onion and garlic. We use lots of this because we love both. Garlic adds a demention to the spice, and both add flavor. Don't use less than at least one whole onion and a whole clove of garlic.

-Cilantro. Use about one small bunch

- Pork. Not to make this "pork green chili" which is excellent, but to add some flavor and fat for a good mouth feel. I toss in a couple of country style ribs.

-Salt and pepper to taste

Start by cleaning chili's. This is a lousy task, messy too. Remove skins and seeds. Don't stop to itch your nose or eyes or you will regret it. Think pepper spray, yeah, not good. Don't rinse your chili's, you want all the good oils to stay, so use as little water as you can.

Dump chili's, stock, diced onion and garlic, tomitillos, and pork into your crock pot. Turn on low. Walk away. Come back in 8ish hours.

Remove pork, make sure to get any chunk of bone too, as bones can really do a number on your blender. Shred pork and make a killer taco.

Blend in batches, adding fresh cilantro. I leave mine with a little chunk to it. Salt and pepper to taste.

Like your chili a little thicker? Add some cornstarch and bring to a simmer. If you need it a bit thinner add some more stock.

You are now the proud owner of a bunch of green chili. We have a large crock pot and end up with about 6 quart jars full. What to do with all this chili?

-Make a breakfast burrito and smother it well
- Use it as an enchilada sauce by mixing it with some sour cream and pouring it over corn tortillas stuffed with meat. Top with cheese and bake.
-Pull some pork shoulder and toss with a jar of green chili and enjoy some tacos
- Serve it on a hamburger
- Mix with cream cheese and serve with corn chips.

Or, if your a nice person, give it as a gift. We are not nice people and end up eating most of it ourselves.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Princess

I suppose it was inevitable. All of her friends are into it, it was only a matter of time. The last few months the evil "Disney Princess" bug has hit our house hard. Gag.

I have a couple of beefs with these chicks, one being they always need a man to come save them. That beauty reining supreme is enough to make me shudder. I feel like it goes against a lot of what we try to teach the girls. Things like beauty doesn't matter and you can work to fix your own problems. These pretend women are willing to change who they are, give up everything, all for a man to love them.

And now, for icing on the cake or insult to injury, Eliana wants to be a princess for Halloween. I will let her, begrudgingly. She has the right to choose to pretend to be what she wants. I want her to feel like it is ok to be into things that I am not, she is her own person with her own mind. But that doesn't mean I won't show her some other, much cooler choices.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Annabelle's visit to Children's Hospital

We lucked out. The GAP Clinic, where Belle needed to be seen, was booked through mid-November. After they looked at her charts they got us in with-in a week. Here is the short and long of it:

-Annabelle is skinny. They do a height vs. weight comparison and then assign either slightly underweight, moderately underweight or severely underweight. She falls in the category of "moderately".

- In the last month, Belle has put on almost a pound. This is the same amount she put on in the prior 3 months. We haven't changed anything. I attribute her weight gain to a steady diet of lots of prayer of those who love her.

- We are in a holding pattern. Since Belle's weight seems to be getting better, we are going to wait and see for the next 8 weeks. We will go in to our Doctors office for weight checks in that time to make sure the numbers are rising.

-We were encouraged to continue physical therapy to see if we can help with her stiffness. If it doesn't seem to help, we will have to re-assess.

-This week Belle has learned to get from laying to sitting and then pull up to standing. She is still very stiff, but loves to show off her new tricks!

The doctor we say didn't seem overly concerned. He was encouraged by her recent growth and said her diet looks good. She is still getting up to eat twice a night and he said that would continue so it looks like no rest for the weary. Annabelle is healthy, her brain is growing and she is not developmentally behind. Pray that she continues to be a good grower and that the pound keep coming!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Strange

It is strange to me that when my brain is very full my blog is very empty. I like to write but when my head is stuffed I sometimes have a hard time getting it all out. Brain constipation. Here is what is bouncing around in my head right now:

-Tomorrow is Annabelles visit to Childrens. I am trying not to over think it or dread what is coming, it won't do any good. I know they will do blood work, which won't be fun. I also know that in cases like hers they sometimes worry about neglect. I hate the thought of anyone thinking that this baby who is so dear to my heart just may not be getting the love she needs to thrive.

- Motherhood is an odd thing. You don't get a report card or pay check so it is easy to judge how your doing by other things i.e the way your home looks or weather or not your children are thriving. Right now I think I would be fired and get a flunking grade. I know something are beyond my control but I take the fact Belle is tiny as a sign of personal failure. Somewhere in my head I know that isn't the case.

- Attitude is so much of life. Currently I am struggling with mine. Sometime I just don't feel like doing the right thing. The bible is pretty clear that the way we behave towards someone is not dependent on the way the act towards us. We are to live to a higher standard, Jesus. Love is the requirement, forgiveness is expected. My attitude is my choice, not to be dependent on someone elses behavior.

- Know what happens when you leave 3 children and a pack of diapers while you go outside to hang laundry? First, the baby empties the entire package. Then the two big girls bring in stuffed animal to diaper. Lots of them. Currently there are several bears and a puppy sporting pampers.

-How often do you change your sheets? How about your kids sheets? I hate this job and put it off until we approach nasty.

-I have a crock pot full of fire roasted green chili sauce. My eggs, Mexican food, beans, tortillas and anything else that holds still long enough is going to be that much better!

I will create a real post soon. Sorry for the brain dump.