Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Grins saves the day

Today was somewhat difficult for me. The Mr. hasn't been around much for the past several weeks, and then he had TWO days off in ONE WEEK! IN A ROW! Pretty much unheard of in our family lately. So, we took a little trip down to Boston, saw the temple, visited some friends, watched a parade, and, most importantly, spent time with our ENTIRE family. BOTH parents. It was lovely (for me) to have an additional set of hands, a stronger (and more revered) voice, and someone to prevent the children from destroying the house while I showered! And, because of how thoroughly I enjoyed having the Mr. around, his return to work today left a more noticeable void than I'm used to - sort of like waking up from a fantastic dream and realizing you're really in jail. (OK, maybe not that extreme, but you get my drift.)

Anyhow, I hit an all time low this morning when, while Mr. Exterminator was explaining how he was planning to eradicate our carpenter ants, I suddenly noticed white, greasy footprints all over the carpet in the front room. After tracing them to Wiggles' room, I opened the door and found Grins and Wiggles covered with diaper ointment. Have you tried washing that stuff off? Pure grease. Non-removable. Fantastic. Lucky for them Mr. Exterminator was still in the house, so I used my very calm Mommy voice. But it seemed to set the tone for the day.

(Self Portrait, by Grins)

Fortunately, though, Grins managed to save the day later on, with his adorable little remarks.

First, he told me that "I can't wait until I get to Heaven and get resurrected, because then my body will be perfect, so I'll be able to eat 100 candy bars and not even get sick!"

Next, after waking up from his nap in a foul mood, he followed me around the house, screaming. I kept asking him what he wanted, and when he finally calmed down enough to answer, he said "All I want is for you to hold me!" (Does it get any sweeter than that?)

Then, while the Mr. and I were out digging dandelions in our front yard and Grins was playing baseball, he accidentally hit a ball which hit the Mr's face. Feeling bad (but not bad enough to apologize, apparently,) he said "Daddy, when someone hits you with a ball in baseball, you get to walk to first base. So I just gave you a base. Isn't that awesome?!"

But the icing on the cake was what he told me as I tucked him into bed this evening: "Angel went with Daddy on the School Bus on her first day of school. So she was lucky, but not the luckiEST. She should have picked you because you're even a little bit better than Daddy. But actually, you're both pretty great!"

What a sweet little boy! How did I end up with such darling children!?!

Thursday, May 26, 2011


This morning at breakfast, Angel said "There are lots of people at my school that are much skinnier than I am.  Isabelle's a lot skinnier than me."

Immediately my heart started racing and I broke into a cold sweat.  (I must confess I have a bit of post-traumatic stress over having witnessed my sister struggle with an eating disorder for much of her life!)  How could my 6 year old daughter already be worrying about her body image?!  Especially when I am SO careful about this issue in my home! (no barbies, no Disney, etc - is it any wonder our children have body image issues in our society? ick!).

I spent the next half hour discussing that 1) More important than being 'skinny' is being healthy, and Angel is a very healthy girl - she eats lots of fruits and veggies, exercises a lot, etc.  So she should not be concerned with her body.  2) FAR more important than our outward appearance is who we are on the inside.  We spoke of how, some of our dear loved ones are not 'skinny' but we LOVE them because of their kindness, love, and because they are so much fun to be around.  I asked "Would you rather be friends with someone who is beautiful, but not nice, or someone who is not beautiful, but is very kind?"  Of course she chose the kind friend.  And then, to my relief, she said "I'm beautiful AND kind!  I'm the perfect friend!"

So, while she is noticing that everyone is different, at least she is maintaining her self-confidence, which will serve her well!  I hope this continues for a LONG time! :)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Homeschooling Dilemma

I've been sitting on the fence with regard to the whole "Homeschool vs Public School" debate for a few years now.  It is a serious decision towards which I have given, and continue to give, a lot of thought.  But, now that I have one (almost 2!) school age children, a decision must be made!  I can't sit on the fence forever!  A friend asked me the other day why I want to Homeschool, and it got me thinking - I should make a list about what I like/dislike about each option.  Perhaps this will help move me along in my decision making process.  And I hope to have some input from any readers willing to share their opinions on the subject! :)

(Disclaimer: I mean no disrespect toward anyone else's decision to Homeschool or Public School - these points relate only to my own children and circumstance.)

Why I WANT to Homeschool:

~To keep my children more 'unspotted from the world' (James 1:27) - There is SO much evil out 'in the world', even among young children now, that I LONG to keep my children from.  I know they will be exposed to it eventually, but I would love to be able to 'shelter' them while they are so young.
~I MISS them when they are gone!
~The FAMILY is central to God's plan, and as such, I feel strongly that we should spend as much time together as a family as we possibly can.
~My child (at least Angel, so far) is gifted, and I don't feel she is adequately challenged in the public school setting.
~I want my children to be educated in more than just 'academics' - I want them to be well versed in the arts, home economics (sewing, cooking, cleaning), agriculture (farming, animals), etc.  This is more easily accomplished in a Homeschool setting, as public school is much more time-consuming.
~Teachers don't love my children in the same way, or nearly as much, as I do, and are often not as gentle as I would be.
~Help surround my children /associate with people of similar values (most homeschoolers are Christian, or at least religious, educated, and have the utmost concern for their child's well-being.)

Why I WANT my children to experience Public School:
~There are certain things that Public School offers that I, personally, can never teach my children - to respect/honor/follow/obey another adult or leader, for example.  Making their way in a large group.  Being exposed to a huge variety of people from different ethnicities, social backgrounds, cultures, abilities (eg - Angel has two special needs children in her class - this has been a huge learning and growing experience for her to interact with them on a daily basis; an experience I couldn't have afforded her, short of adopting or giving birth to a special needs child.  And, while I know homeschoolers do meet lots of different people, most homeschoolers are Christian (or at least religious) and with very similar values, so there is not nearly as much variety in their 'circles'.
~Along these lines, in addition to learning acceptance of others, I want to allow my children opporunities to 'let their light shine' (Matt 5:16) and to be an example to those around them.  After all, Christ spent his time among sinners and publicans, because that is where He could do the most good. (Matt 9:11-13) Obviously this is possible in a home schooling environment as well, but, in my opinion to a lesser degree, when those around them have such similar values.  I believe that every Christian family pulling their child out of 'secular' or public education is wrong, and would be devastating to our society at large.
~My purpose in parenting is to teach my children to think/act/choose for themselves.  I would rather have them 'practice' making their own decisions on 'small' things in Kindergarten (ie - whether or not to share a toy or tell a 'potty' joke), than be near them much of their lives and then 'throw them to the wolves', as it were, when they are an adult, and faced with much more serious and significant decisions.
~Where I tend to 'coddle' my children, teachers are often more demanding and expect more from my children, holding them to a higher standard or helping them achieve more.
~I LIKE being the 'kind mother', and would have a very difficult time playing the role of teacher/principal/disciplinarian and demanding excellence/etc in academics.  It has been nice to have Angel be challenged at school, and then come home to relax, 'let her guard down', and just be loved by me (the 'nice mommy').
~Along these same lines, "absence makes the heart grow fonder".  When Angel is with me 24/7, we sometimes have a tendency to 'butt heads', so-to-speak.  She likes to 'push my buttons' and, admittedly, I don't like them to be pushed.  Our relationship has improved dramatically since she started school, as she misses me while at school, and, since our time together is limited, we truly enjoy it and try to make the most of every minute.
~Though I consider myself 'educated', I am not trained in education.  I am often astounded by teaching techniques/ideas/etc implemented by Angel's teachers.
~Also, unlike her teachers who devote hours to developing and planning curriculum, while running my household, serving in the church, and tending to the needs of my individual children, I don't have nearly the time they put in, and I fear I would fall short in providing them the education they need.
~"The Glory of God is intelligence, or in other words, light and truth" (D&C 93:36) - I value education very highly and feel it is of the utmost importance for my children to learn as much as they can, and have as many learning and educational opportunities as they can.  I never want to feel that I 'short-changed' them or didn't provide/offer them as much as I possibly could.

It strikes me, as I'm writing this, how truly blessed I am to have so many wonderful educational opportunities and resources available, literally at my fingertips, for myself and my children.  What an amazing world - and time and place - in which to be alive!  I suppose that, when I really think about it, either option would serve my children well.  Aren't these the most difficult decisions; those made between two good choices?  But how grateful I am for so many wonderful options!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

This girl....

....makes me LAUGH! SOOO much! I think that is her sole purpose in life. In fact, if I am ever concentrating and have a serious face, or am upset or less than patient with the children, she never fails to say (or rather, command,) "Mommy, have a happy face! Put a smile on right now!"
Today, she came up to me and pulled my ear down to her mouth, then excitedly whispered, "Maybe we can thump (jump) on the thwampoline! I want to!" as if it were a big secret. In the middle of cleaning the kitchen, I suggested she go out to the backyard and I would come out momentarily to lift her onto the trampoline.

When I came out, she had found the "cat pool" (the name our children gave to the small wading pool due to misunderstanding the term 'kiddie' pool....and it somehow stuck). She was standing and splashing in the wading pool, her jeans, socks and shoes soaking wet. I gasped, then abruptly lifted her out. When I set her down, her feet squished as she walked - and then she exclaimed, "I'm draining now!" Could she be any cuter?!

Monday, May 23, 2011


I LOVE how much my kids love to snuggle! On rainy days like today we spend hours on my bed, reading books, having tickle fights, and cuddling. These pictures say it all.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

General Conference

Twice a year we watch General Conference on our computer (since we don't have a TV). Since it is such a meaningful and important event to the Mr. and I, we try to make it extra special for the children, in hopes that they will appreciate it's importance.

We began by having a Family Home Evening the week before about King Benjamin teaching his people from a tower, and the people pitching their tents faced toward the temple to hear his words. Then, in preparation of Conference Weekend, we 'pitched' our (play) tent in the computer room, with the door to the computer. The kids really enjoyed this!
Saturday morning, we made Bunny Buns together, and prepared our "Conference Snacks". In the past, our children have referred to General Conference as "Candy Conference" because we often play 'Conference Bingo' with M & Ms, skittles, or smarties. This year, in an effort to reduce the amount of sugar consumed, I opted to go with bowls of various snacks, some healthy and some not-s0-healthy. Each bowl was labeled with a word/topic, and each time a speaker mentioned a particular word/topic, we were allowed one of the snacks from that particular bowl.
Though the snacks were a roaring success at keeping the children quietly occupied so that the Mr. and I could enjoy conference, the snacks themselves also served as entertainment for us during one particular talk! One of the bowls, labeled "Temple", was filled with jelly beans. When President Monson began speaking on Temples, the children were excited! They eagerly picked up a jelly bean (and popped it into their mouth) each time he said "temple." But their enthusiasm waned as his talk wore on, and he began using the word "temple" in nearly every sentence. Wiggles and Angel lost interest and moved on to coloring, but Grins dutifully sat next to the jelly beans, listening intently, and stuffing a jelly bean into his mouth each time "temple" was said. A few min utes in to the talk he commented "Wow! President Monson is talking a lot about temples!" The Mr. and I kept watching him pop the jelly beans in, laughing silently together. Finally, near the end of the talk, Grins whispered to the Mr. "Is his talk almost over? I'm getting sick from all these jelly beans! I don't want to eat another candy!" We laughed and explained that eating candy was optional - the purpose was simply to LISTEN to the talks, and enjoy a snack if you were hungry. Poor little guy. I'll have to be more clear on that next time. BTW - I looked back over President Monson's talk: the word temple was uttered some 69 times (in a matter of 20 minutes)! That's more than 2 jelly beans per minute! Poor Grins! :)
In addition to the snacks, I printed some "General Conference Packets" I found online. A HUGE thank you to those who put so much effort and time into these packets! They were INCREDIBLE! Wiggles enjoyed playing with the 'First Presidency Puppets' she made from toilet paper tubes. Grins really enjoyed making a 'General Authority paper doll chain'. And Angel, who loves writing and drawing, especially loved coloring each General Authority's tie. They had a lot of fun with the activities.

We also had a "General Authority Wall": I taped up pictures of the First Presidency and Twelve Apostles, and each time one of them spoke, the children could put a sticker on their corresponding picture. This kept Wiggles quiet for hours, and halfway through, I looked over to discover that she had put a sticker over each of their eyes. Though I worried that it might be a tad disrespectful, I realized that she had not meant it as such, and I was grateful for the time it kept her quietly occupied, allowing me to listen and enjoy the talks!

During Conference, as always, we were truly spiritually fed, uplifted, and inspired to, in the words of President Hinckley, "try a little harder to be a little better". I am so
grateful for the endless hours of preparation and effort that were put into this year's conference, and for modern technology, which allows us to enjoy it all these miles away! We are already looking forward to the next one!

ETA: After watching General Conference, we had a follow up discussion on what we had each learned during Conference, and what goals we would like to set, to work on.  They were as follows:

Daddy - Have a more Christ-centered home.  This means no fighting - I'm setting a goal not to raise my voice for an entire month!

Mommy - "Behold your little ones" - I'm going to spend more time just watching/listening to/playing with/enjoying my 'little ones', and less time worrying about all the details of running a household.

Angel - Pay my tithing every Sunday

Grins - A lady said the kids paid their tithing first.  I want to pay my tithing first.

I suppose this means we need to start the children on some sort of allowance system, so they will have earnings to tithe on! :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The prayer of the Children....

Just as I'm slightly obsessive about planning my dinner menus, I also tend to stick with a breakfast meal plan, simply because of how much more smoothly things run in the morning when I do. Unlike dinner, however, breakfast offers far less choices (especially the necessary quick and easy variety), and we are therefore on a weekly rotation.

Sunday: muffins or bagels (since we need to be out the door by 7am!)
Monday: oatmeal (Wiggles' all time favorite!)
Tuesday: eggs (sunnyside up for Angel, scrambled for Wiggles and Grins)
Wednesday: french toast
Thursday: 10-grain hot cereal (Grin's favorite) or cream of wheat
Friday: crepes (everyone's number one choice!)
Saturday: waffles (the Mr's request)

While we generally stick to this schedule, both Angel and Grins would prefer to have crepes every day if it were up to them! And, though they enjoy hot cereal, neither of them was in the mood for it this morning, so they petitioned me to make something else.

I would have been fine with this but for one problem: they couldn't agree on what they wanted. Angel insisted on french toast, while Grins desperately wanted eggs. So, I resorted to playing "eeny meeny miny mo, catch a tiger by it's toe..." on their fists, (We take our decisions very seriously around here!), reminding them that the 'loser' had to graciously accept the other person's choice of breakfast. They consented and, ultimately, Grins "won".

Angel was disappointed but, remembering her promise, kept her chin up and silently walked over to the couch while Grins began setting the table for eggs. I took the eggs from the fridge....and then for some reason, absent-mindedly pulled out the milk and bread as well, and began making french toast. As I looked into my frying pan full of french toast, I finally realized, too late, that I was supposed to be cooking eggs! I laughed and explained my mistake to Grins, who graciously offered, "That's OK, Mommy! Angel got her wish and we can just have eggs tomorrow!" Angel, though, hopped up off the couch and said "Oh my word! I just prayed that Heavenly Father would help us have french toast! And He did! I can't believe it!! He made your brain forget!"

We all had a good laugh. Truly the Lord works in mysterious ways. (Of course, my absent-mindedness is not entirely mysterious around here, but still....) What a precious and priceless moment, to witness the sweet faith of my daughter, and the gentle forgiveness of my son! Raising such wonderful children is such an honor and a privilege! I have such a beautiful life! :)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Upside Down Dinner

Angel LOVES setting the table for dinner. She prides herself on knowing where all of the dishes and flatware go, and on making things look nice. She ALWAYS uses EVERY possible dish in her place settings (cup, bowl, plate, fork, knife, spoon), regardless of what we're eating. And she often writes and decorates place cards for each member of the family and folds the napkins in a 'fancy way' as well. One day she decided to play a joke on me and, when I went to put the food on the table, this is what I found:
Everything was upside down. There is no tablecloth because she wanted to put the tablecloth on top of everything... How I love this girl! She is so creative and makes our home such a fun (and often silly) place! Our family would certainly not be complete without her!


I'm still (relatively) new at mothering a son. We often speak of privacy, modesty, etc. Grins is generally very private, often saying "Mom! Can you please close your eyes?" if I happen to be using the bathroom mirror to do my makeup when he needs to use the bathroom. He's become concerned enough that we even moved his sisters into a separate room so he could have his own space.

So imagine my surprise when, earlier today, I noticed he had a different shirt on than the one he started with. I asked "Why did you change your shirt, Grins?" to which he replied "The other one had potty on it." "How did that happen?" I wondered aloud. "When I was going potty under the trampoline, some got on the shirt." Surprised at this (since it hasn't been an issue for at least a year), I reminded him that urinating in the yard is inappropriate on several levels and must not happen again. I then asked him if he had put his soiled laundry in the hamper, to which he replied, "I'll go get it from under the trampoline!" He then proceeded to bring an entire outfit - underwear and all - in from outside. "How did your dirty clothing get outside?" I asked and then began putting it together..."Did you change your clothing outside?!" I asked, horrified. His
response: "No! I couldn't wear wet clothes inside so I took everything off and came inside to get clean clothes."

How did I miss a streaker running through my house? (I must have been downstairs doing laundry.) We spoke again of the importance of modesty, and he agreed to refrain from indecent exposure in the future, though he insisted that, since our yard is fully fenced, he felt he'd had adequate privacy.
Couple this scenario with the way I found him asleep at nap time (above), and I'm feeling a bit out of my league on how to culturally refine my son. Sigh. I suppose I will never completely understand boys or their preoccupation with their bodies and their unique abilities.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Daddy Horsie

When the Mr. is gone as much as he is, the children are certain to make up for lost time when he DOES happen to show his face! I can hardly lift one of them at a time, yet he has the core strength to carry all 3 on his back at once! We're all 'so glad when Daddy comes home!'
I've been meaning to hang this mirror up for weeks now (hanging a heavy mirror is INCREDIBLY difficult to do alone and the Mr. has been MIA for awhile....). It actually came in handy as the children practiced for their performance of "So Long, Farewell" - and lately it has kept Wiggles entertained as I've cleaned up dinner. So perhaps procrastination is not always so wrong!

Monday, May 09, 2011

Clowning Around

Angel's class at school was studying circuses, and they finalized the unit with "Clown Day." Angel picked out her brightest colors and insisted that I, despite my weak artistic abilities, paint her face.

Grins and Wiggles observed and then naturally wanted in on the fun....

and when Wiggles is dirty, you can bet you
will find her mark on at least one other surface in the house! (In this case, the couch...)

Portland Children's Museum

A friend of ours invited us to the Children's Museum one day - and we had SO much fun! Even after 5 hours, it was hard to pull the kids away!

One of our first activities was to visit the Theatre. While there, Angel and Grins starred as the First and Second Little Pigs in an inhouse, impromptu production of The Three Little Pigs. Naturally, they were fabulous!

Since we are in Maine, the Children's Museum would not be complete without a Lighthouse! Angel was just the right height; in order to get a 'group shot', Angel had to hold Wiggles up - a tricky feat indeed!

Of course, what Children's Museum would be complete without a market in which to go shopping? But this grocery store had an ATM from which the children can really withdraw 'money' with a debit card! Angel in particular couldn't get enough of such a 'grownup' activity!

There is a DARLING exhibit with a boat (which rocks!) which the kids can 'drive', and traps in which they can catch lobsters, crabs, and more! The kids thought this was great fun!

Man Overboard.....

Wiggles fell in LOVE with this little car and spent quite a bit of time in it! She also became quite possessive when any other children expressed interest (but don't worry; like a good mother, I encouraged her to share and, for the most part, she did very well!) Towards the end of our day, when naptime had long since passed, she tried to nap on the seat of the car. (I apologize for the blurry pictures; my cell phone does not capture Wiggles' perpetual motion very clearly!)

These 2 spent over an hour in the Fire Truck! They drove, played the sirens, slid down the pole, hooked up the water hose....and then started all over again! Grins had SO much fun 'calling 9-1-1' on the phone in the exhibit (set up for this purpose; it has a voice recording of a 911 operator! Very clever!) I finally had to encourage them to try exploring another area of the museum because I couldn't contain Wiggles for another minute!

I didn't even get pictures of us in the Farm, learning about the Camera Obscura, making lumber, going on a 'nature hike', or watching the star show. All in all, I would say we had a great day! I'm thinking a Museum Pass may be a good investment....

Rock Sale

Apparently, our recent discussion about saving money to purchase airplane tickets to visit our loved ones across the country made an impression on Angel. Unbeknownst to me, her little mind has been hard at work devising entrepreneurial plans for how to make money for nothing (since, let's face it, what 6 year old has a lot to invest in starting up a business?)

One day she mentioned to me in passing that we should have a 'rock sale' since we have so many rocks in our yard for which we have no real need. (She was probably remembering the time when, just about to mow the lawn, I told the kids I'd give them one penny for each rock they collected, simply to get them out of the grass...) I must have responded with some enthusiasm, because a few days later, she took me outside to show me the fruits of her labors: she had set up shop in our driveway!
I couldn't help but smile and even get a little teary eyed that my little Angel is growing up so fast. When did she go from a baby, whose very steps I had to coax and direct, into a young lady with her own little clever ideas and very creative spelling? Adorable.
I did purchase some rocks from her, as I was needing some for a project I was working on (Easter in an Eggshell). After that, she said "Mommy, let's go outside, to wait for all the people that will come to the rock sale!" She was so eager and excited about it that I didn't have the
heart to tell her no one else would be coming....so I simply explained that, since we live on a very quiet street, and it was the middle of the day on a weekday, we may have more success later, especially if we moved the sale to a more public location and included a greater variety of
merchandise (e.g. lemonade or popsicles). She insisted on sitting outside, however, and, though she did not meet with additional success for the first couple of days, Oma and Opa did make a purchase when they came to visit a few days later. So her efforts were not entirely in vain. :)


Thank you, everyone, for the very kind words on my previous blog post....but I fear I came across as far more negative than I intended. I do often wrongfully compare myself with others and feel I come up short, but I was simply attempting to turn it around and say that, while I may not enjoy the talents of others, I hope to, in some small way, have my own 'talents' to offer; even if it is just the talent of helping to boost the self esteem of others. So, please forgive me if I came across as whiny, depressed, or unappreciated. Writing is clearly not one of my talents! :)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

"Feel Good" blog...

I haven't posted much lately for two reasons. First, my lack of time and unwillingness to lose sleep over blogging. :) Second, my lack of anything exciting to post about.

Often, I peruse through the blogs of family, friends and 'blog celebrities' come away feeling completely discouraged and at how much my blog/parenting/homemaking skills/craftiness/overall life PALES in comparison to theirs. I mean, really, how does "Nie Nie" have more time to blog than I do?! She has one more child than I AND she's trying to grow new skin! I'll I'm growing is a bigger waistline (withOUT a fetus inside!) and a few gray hairs. Ashley from "Make It and Love It" has a new baby and STILL manages to make her house FAR cuter than I could ever dream, for crying out loud. And I'm still trying to hang curtains and paint my reading room. Hmph.

But 'celebrities' aside, even all my "normal" friends are so much more creative, artistic and productive than I! I mean, Jana, who moved months after we did, has done so much painting, decoupaging, and wreath/clock/shelf making I get tired just reading about it! Melissa, who has 3 children the same ages as mine AND works from home is always hosting parties and creating new crafts and tutorials! Amy, whose husband is also a resident and who has FIVE young boys, (one of whom demands extra care) is off ice fishing, boat-making, and sewing matching bow ties.....I could go on all night.

Clearly, I know how to pick my friends - they are AWESOME! Still, I must admit that lately, I either avoid reading other peoples' blogs, or I exhaust myself wondering why it is that I fail so miserably as a homemaker; why my windows are always covered with smudgy fingerprints, my list of 'to-do' projects is longer than my arm, and why my home will never even look like a Walmart ad, nevermind Potter Barn.

And then I remember. I am not the friend everyone envies (or fails miserably to live up to). I'm not the one with the perfect figure, the angel children, or the immaculate and beautiful home. I'm the friend who gives her friends a confidence boost; when you learn all about my work-in-progress home and life, you'll feel pretty darn good about yourself. And you know what? If my boring and unkempt little life/blog serves at least that purpose, I'm OK with that.

*ETA: In no way do I mean any of the lovely ladies mentioned in this post any harm or disrespect, or to suggest that they are flaunting their accomplishments. They are wonderful ladies, simply doing their best (which just happens to be leaps and bounds better than my personal best...) These are merely my introspections at coming to grips with never measuring up - and recognizing my own Divine nature and individual worth...