Monday, July 19, 2010

Having Fun

We are loving living on a very quiet street. So few cars ever come by that, as long as we are near, the children have free reign of the street, greatly expanding their practice of bike and scooter riding. Last week I took off their training wheels, and Angel has been soaring around on her own ever since. Grins, on the other hand, has decided to ride his scooter instead. :) And Wiggles' sweet little legs aren't yet long enough to reach the pedals on her tricycle, so she often gets frustrated, but she can get around fairly quickly just by scooting! I think it's hilarious that she insists on wearing her helmet to scoot around, just because the 'big kids' are wearing theirs!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered where people get those decals of their families that you see on the back of so many cars? I have wondered that for years, and finally found the answer! Hobby Nobby has them - and TONS more options than I've ever seen! You can check them out here or here! But what's even more awesome? You can rent cricut cartridges from them, to create any thing your little heart desires! How cool is that?

Thursday, July 15, 2010


FYI - my blog is part of the personal journal I keep. It allows me to record (some of) my memories with my family; our struggles, our joys, our laughs and the little bit of Heaven we are creating in our home each day. I make it public in an effort to keep in touch with loved ones near and far (mostly far). Sometimes I wish I were super crafty or a great writer or had a flashy blog with a gazillion readers like "nienie" or make it and love it. I think it's amazing the influence some women have had with their blogs and talents. But then I remember my number one priority in life - my children - and suddenly no amount of fame or fortune seems to matter at all. So while my posts on this blog are not cute or exciting or even well-written, they are serving their intended purpose: personal record keeping. (Translation: this next post is boring and directed only at myself, and is probably something everyone else has already realized. What can I say, I'm a late bloomer.) Also, this is a very revealing, less-than-flattering post detailing my failings as a mother, so you may be inclined to cut off communications with me after reading it. Consider yourself warned.

Due to some unforeseen events, we arrived in Maine penniless - literally. Because there were several things we NEEDED - but could not afford - I began scouring the internet regularly for FREE furniture, lawn mower, etc. Through this, we have been incredibly blessed in receiving everything we needed - and more - without having to spend money we didn't have. This has been a huge blessing. Doing so, however, developed within me a poor habit of increased computer time. Whereas I previously limited my computer time to when my children were sleeping, I began checking my email and message boards frequently throughout the day, so I wouldn't miss out on any 'great deals'. There are hundreds of deal sites out there, and it is easy to get carried away, and I soon found myself spending a bit more time in front of the computer screen than I needed to, and less time than I should on interacting with my children and maintaining our garden. (Not that my kids were neglected or we were eating mac 'n cheese every night, but I wasn't exactly being Mother of the Year either.) I knew it had gotten bad when Angel said told me something that had happened earlier that day and I asked "Where was I?" to which she responded "Probably on the computer."

Ironically, our children almost never watch TV (we've turned it on once since we moved in 2 months ago), so I consider our family very healthy in the "screen time" category. Until now. I realized that, though a very useful tool, the computer (specifically, the internet) can be a veritable time-sucker. One great deal here, a rebate form there, an ad on craigslist really quick and before you know it, the kids are up and asking for breakfast and you haven't even showered yet!

So, I've decided to return to my original rule of "kids awake = computer off". My time with them is so short and fleeting that I can't bear to have my eyes fixed on a screen if they could instead be watching my beautiful children grow. I don't want to miss a moment with them! If I miss out on a free vacuum or an awesome giveaway and have to start paying money for things again, I know somehow I'll survive. And my children will remember more of me than the back (or side) of my head.

Beside, motherhood is the best deal I'm ever going to get!

A (personal) Epiphany

I've been cranky lately. I've been stressed. I've been critical. I've been short-tempered with my children over simple things. And furthermore, I've become very discouraged by it. Each night after the kids are in bed, I debrief as I clean the house. Then, as I watch them sleep, I remember how innocent and precious they are - that they are just trying to learn and grow and discover who they are - and then I kick myself for being so short on patience, and wallow in nasty "bad mommy" feelings. I pray and weep and beg the Lord to grant me more patience, and help me be better, for them. In the morning I pray again and start out the day with enthusiastic plans to "make today a better day". I greet each child with plenty of hugs, kisses, snuggles and "I love you"s. And then the day wears on. The kids fight. They make messes. It gets hot. I get tired. The Mr. is always gone. There's not enough money. and so on and so forth. Suddenly my jaw is clenching and my shoulders are tight and, oh no, here it comes. I lash out over something simple ("Why did you bite your sister again? How many times must we go over this??!!") and suddenly, Mean, Cranky Mommy rears her ugly head and we are back to the Bad Mommy Feelings again.

I've been wondering what is wrong with me. I've been blaming it on the heat. (Seriously - 90+ degrees in 7000% humidity with no A/C is just wrong!) But I've been unable to kick it.

Until today. (I know, ha ha.) But seriously. Today during quiet time I read this story ("Dear April", the Friend, July 2010) to my children. Suddenly, near the end, I could no longer hold back the tears. As I read "I was thinking today about how nervous I was to move here. But it’s starting to feel like home now. The most important thing is being with my family!" I suddenly realized: I am struggling with this move. It is hard. I'm far away from all of my family and the friendships I've spent the last 8 years developing. I can't find my way around at ALL - I get lost almost every time I drive anywhere. My husband is almost always gone, and when he's home he's almost always sleeping. Our house is falling apart (we bought it that way...what were we thinking?) We are living on an uncomfortably tight budget (worse even than medical school!) And I don't even know where to get coupons or shop for the best deals out here (and if you know me, you know how much that frustrates me!) Yes, my life is challenging right now.

All of this and more (what? could there be more, after all that?) came to me in a flood of emotion as I realized and accepted that I have challenges. I've been so caught up in making the transition easy on my kids and husband and being strong for them that I've been (subconsciously) trying to pretend that everything is great, that I love it here, and that life is grand. Don't get me wrong - I don't hate my life - but being able to recognize and own the emotions I've been fighting these past couple of months was very cleansing.

Now that I have acknowledged them, I can 'deal with' them, and move on. Not that I'm packing my bags or anything...this move is still a challenge I'm going to have to adjust to, and even embrace. But instead of hiding or ignoring my feelings, I'm allowing myself to say "Yes, I really miss (such-and-such or so-and-so), but now I'm enjoying (my new friends, the beach, etc).

To help me with this, tonight I'm counting my blessings. It might take me a while to list all of them. Stay tuned.

Summer Goals

Our Family Home Evening tonight was about "Organizing (our)selves" - and turned into a goal-setting planning session for the summer. We talked about the importance of setting goals and organizing priorities and managing our time usefully. I encouraged each of us to think of a goal, either for ourselves personally, or for our family as a whole. I was excited to see what the kids came up with, and must say I was pleasantly surprised. They had some great ideas:

Summer 2010 Family Goals:

~Ride our bikes without training wheels (Grins)
~Get better prepared for Emergencies by updating our 72-hours kits (Angel) (I think she remembers last time we did it, when they got to eat all the almost-out-dated snacks!)
~Potty train Wiggles (Grins) - we all got a kick out of that one!
~Continue having Family Home Evening each week, even when the Mr is working 80 hrs/week (The Mr.)
~Plan and carry out a family Service Project at least once a month (Mommy), such as
-"that house we saw has VERY long grass. I think they have NEVER mowed their lawn. Maybe they are too old or too sick or too tired or don't have children to help with their yard work. I think we should help them mow their lawn." (Angel) (apparently she thinks children help with yard work? except in our family?)
- "visit sick, old ladies" (Grins)
- "take treats to all our neighbors" (Angel)
- "write little notes for people" (Angel)

I love hearing my children come up with ideas. They are sometimes much more creative than me, and I am always amazed at their generosity and willingness to serve. I need to be more like them!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The other day...

...we were at the park when Grins said "Mommy! That lady is sick-a-waiting"

"What?" I asked, confused. "Sick of waiting for what?"

"No!" he said, "Cig-a-retting"

"Cigaretting? You mean smoking?"

"Yes. That's bad because she might die and Heavenly Father doesn't want you to."

I was laughing about that all day. But really, I may be gramatically-challenged, but his conjugative reasoning actually makes sense (I think).

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Tonight as I'm tucking my little dears in....

Angel refuses to sleep under the covers; instead, she insists on sleeping on top of her bedspread "so I won't have to make my bed in the morning."

Grins tells me "Mommy, today I saw one man showing his chest (not wearing a shirt) that wasn't private (modest) and another man smoking. That's not good, but Mommy, Jesus said 'Love Everyone' so I still love them."

Wiggles says "Ni-night, No! No bed time!" and, in an effort to keep herself awake, begins singing along with the Mr:

Wiggles: "BIRD"
Mr: "..or look at the blue, b...."
Wiggles: "SKY"
Mr: (laughing)
(Totally unrelated picture of how I find my kids almost every morning - Angel and Grins reading to Wiggles. I love it!)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

The Big Cross-country Trek (part 2)

While the Mr. (and "crew") drove our belongings across the country, the children and I remained in Utah for a few days. We spent some quality time with friends and family and said our final farewells before heading to the airport. I was INCREDIBLY nervous about flying for more than 12 hours (overnight!), alone, with 3 energetic children. Fortunately, Oma came to the rescue and, in addition to sending a multitude of prayers our way, she took the kids shopping the night before, where they each chose a special new toy to play with on the plane. This proved enormously helpful!

Angel chose a little Sleeping Beauty Polly Pocket, complete with many different dresses and animals, of course. Grins selected a walking robot. And Wiggles (with help) chose a magna-doodle. Not only were the kids excited about their new toys as we began the flight, but they didn't put them down the entire trip (even while napping!)

We checked into the SLC airport with enough extra time to play in the little Children's Area they have there. (I LOVE that place - why don't more airports clue into that??) Wiggles cracked me up when she insisted on mowing with both mowers simultaneously!

We made it through security in one piece!
When we were walking onto the first plane, a sweet woman in front of us asked me "Are you by yourself with all those kids?" When I replied that I was, she instantly became my helper, arranging for 3 seats together on the plane (there weren't any when we got on, so that was a HUGE help!) On the flight, the kids were so great I didn't end up 'using' her, but it was just SO nice knowing I had someone to help if I needed it! She definitely came to the rescue at the airport, though! Before heading to her own gate, she stayed with our bags while I made restroom trips with each of the children, then even watched the kids so I could get them some dinner. (On a side note, Wiggles was very disturbed when I left the woman with our bags. She kept saying "Mommy! Mommy!" while grabbing at our bags, trying to insist we took them with us. Interestingly, though, Wiggles had no problem staying with her while I took the other 2 kids to the restroom. And yes, I did leave my children, momentarily, with a stranger at the airport. Looking back it was perhaps not the smartest move, but she was elderly, walked with a limp, and seemed perfectly safe. And I was desperate. And all's well that ends well, right? I actually believe she was more than an angel sent to help me, rather than a stranger.)

Unfortunately, after Gayle left (for her own flight), we got the bad news that our 3-hour layover was extended to 4 hours! When I asked one airport worker if there were any lockers so that, if I needed to take my children to the bathroom, I could safely leave my 5 bags for a moment, he said "No, it's illegal for us to have lockers." Interestingly, when I then asked if there was anything for children to do to pass the 4 hour wait, he said "You could take them over to the bar and get them drunk!" I looked at him incredulously and said "Also illegal. Thank you so much for the help." When I finally did discover a "kids" area, it consisted of a little table in front of a TV showing Cartoon Network, a channel I will never subject my children to - and the very friendly (ha!) airport personnel refused to change the channel! - Needless to say, we didn't use the "Kids area"! In a place with NO lockers to store your things, NO place for children to play, 4 hours was a LONG time! (If you're getting the hint, Chicago Midway airport is NOT my favorite airport - we will certainly be avoiding them in the future!)

The kids did really well on our second flight, as well, a miracle considering it was the middle of the night and they hadn't had naps! Three very kind (ha!) and lovely ladies in front of us kept making snide comments about "people bringing children on night flights" and "overpopulation" - and for some reason found it hilarious when I took pictures of my sleeping beauties - but I just smiled and tried my hardest to brush off their remarks. When Wiggles made even the tiniest peep they all turned around and glared - and for a few moments I actually considered pinching Wiggles or encouraging her to scream louder - but fortunately for all of us, (though she had already consumed all 3 bottles on the previous flight!) after much tummy-rubbing, she finally and miraculously fell asleep halfway through the flight. Her older brother and sister followed shortly thereafter, and I had half an hour of heaven on earth! (I might have fallen asleep myself if I didn't have 3 children on me!) :)

Grins woke up and he and I watched a lightning storm out the window - which terrified but intrigued him. And then we arrived at our final destination (for the night!) - Manchester, NH. Wiggles woke up easily (though NOT in a good mood!), and Grins helped me gather up our belongings, but Angel would NOT wake up, no matter what I, Grins, Wiggles (or any of the airline crew!) did!!! We were still on the plane trying to awaken her after everyone else was gone, so fortunately one of the flight attendants carried her out (there was NO way I could get her, Wiggles, and our 5 bags!) and the Mr. met us with open arms (a welcome sight if I ever saw one!)

Overall, it was a HUGELY successful trip - we got their safely, the children were AMAZINGLY well behaved, and I didn't even cry once the whole trip! Considering that the only casualty was one of Wiggles' pink shoes (she refuses to fall asleep wearing shoes, so I took them off, and it apparently didn't make it in the bag in our rush to de-board), I would say we made out pretty well! Although it's not a trip I'll be repeating any time in the near future!