Thursday, June 24, 2010

Random Thoughts

I haven’t posted much for the last week because we’ve had a lot going on in our house. So I’m going to just throw out some random thoughts that I want to capture before I forget them. I should be balancing my checkbook right now, but you already know how that goes. I’m going to procrastinate and blog instead.

I am really happy with the Father’s Day gift we gave Dan. I got the idea here at Someday Crafts, and here’s how ours turned out. We also gave Dan a Shutterfly photo book showing the construction of our tree house, plus a frame Jackson made at Mothers’ Day Out. I ordered another gift for him, which STILL hasn’t arrived in the mail. Humph!IMGP8502

Katie tied her shoes for the first time!IMGP9019

Thanks to this post from the Muffin Tin Mom, I made these alphabet match-up games with clothespins from Leftovers and templates printed from my computer. Jackson loves them already, so I hid them away and plan to pull them out on our upcoming cross-country road trip. FYI – I glued the cardstock to some cardboard to make it sturdier as Jackson learns how to open and close clothespins.IMGP9015

Katie has three loose teeth. They’re driving me nuts and I want them OUT of her mouth. Loose teeth creep me out. I even tried tying a string to the loosest one today, but the string didn’t fully remove it. The tooth came partly out of its socket (gag!), but no jackpot yet.IMGP9034-

Katie is seven. Does she look as old to you as she does to me? I love the outfit that matches her doll’s. (Thanks, Beth!)IMGP8519

I buzzed Jackson’s hair today. I started with a #4 guard on the clippers, but didn’t feel like it was short enough so I moved down to a 3. I should have stuck with the 4. Hopefully I’ll remember that next time. He looks so blonde now! But the good news is I tried a new trick and it was successful: I gave Jackson my iTouch and let him play Tozzle to distract him from the haircut. It worked like a charm! My iTouch is a bit hairy now, but it’s a good tradeoff.IMGP9040-

Corn. Every time we drive by the corn field leading up to church, I hear these lyrics in my head from a song in South Pacific: “I’m as corny as Kansas in August…” Katie insisted she was taller than the corn, so I had her get out of the car and prove it.Photo062

I made fluffy flip flops today for Katie, using this tutorial from Sisters’ Stuff. Since it was our first try, I used some of Katie’s flip flops that have seen better days, in case it didn’t work out. I found the tulle at Leftovers and cut it into strips then tied them on. It was so simple and turned out pretty cute. I am thinking these would make great birthday gifts for Katie’s friends.IMGP9039-

My bloggy-friend-turned-IRL- friend Gina brought her son Logan over to play. Since Gina is a self-described tree hugger, they wanted to check out our new tree house. They also met Katie for the first time, and Logan had a stunned look on his face when he saw my badly-behaved kids pick at each other quite often. I think Logan enjoyed himself, though! And that Gina’s baby bump sure is cute!IMGP9025

Baptism at our church. 370 people got baptized. I was honored to be one of the photographers for the event and the photos I took are outstanding – all 438 of them! Not because of the photographer, of course, but because of the grace and surrender and joy that was on everyone’s faces. I can’t stop looking at these photos, so I’ll leave you with these images that have inspired my week.IMGP8687







We DON’T Have Classical Music Playing in the Background

I have a friend IRL (In Real Life) who reads my blog and has told me on multiple occasions that she feels a little inferior (my words, not hers) when she reads. She says my blog makes my life sound like perfection. I do all kinds of crafts and fun adventures with my kids. I teach them how to be independent (like posting a list of Katie’s jobs before and after school). This friend jokes that I probably have classical music playing in the background every day, to help stimulate my kids’ brain waves.


Let me set the record straight: DON’T confuse my life with perfection! In fact, it is FAR from it. Here is a small sampling of things I don’t blog:

1. Yes, I like to craft. Sometimes to the detriment of my kids! I’ve been known to ignore them when I’m elbow deep in a craft. Honestly. Like when Jackson wakes crying from a nap and I make him wait while I sew one more seam or glue one more edge.

2. My house is dirty. It is tidy in that there are things (mostly) put away and if they aren’t put away, they’re in some sort of organized pile. But I feel like there is still much room for improvement. My floor has crumbs on it after every meal. And sometimes I leave them there. Other times, I make Katie use the sweeper or Jackson use the Dust Buster. I don’t vacuum often and I don’t dust much at all. My windows are filthy. So is my refrigerator.

3. I hate to cook. Really hate it. There are many nights we have FFY meals. That stands for “Fend For Yourself.” We feed the kids whatever they’ll eat in whatever picky stage they’re in, and then Dan and I fend for ourselves. Which might mean peanut butter toast or cereal or toasted ravioli for dinner. I could spend a lot more energy and time preparing and cooking meals, but that would mean less time playing outside and less time crafting. Or blogging. Or reading. Or computering. Or whatever. I am too selfish to put meals before my own wants.

4. I am extremely selfish with my personal time. Jackson’s 2+ hours of nap time are MY time. I deeply resent school breaks for the mere fact that I have another kid to entertain from 1:00-3:00 every day. Ugh. And night time? The kids MUST be in bed at 8:00 sharp so I can have time to myself. I stay up late to do whatever random project I feel manic about at the moment.

5. Our background music is more like shrieks of “Jackson, put that down!” or “Mom, Jackson won’t stop ______ [fill in the blank].” There is a lot of teeth-gnashing, sighing and groaning. Not even one wayward note of classical music! I admit sometimes I don’t have it in me to teach my kids how to talk nicely to each other or to me. I get impatient with them and snap at them. I’m the baby of my own family of origin and sometimes I still act like one, even though I’m supposed to be the adult in the house. Sometimes, I’m ashamed.

The bottom line is this: I have lived long enough to know someone else’s “perfection” never lives up to what I perceive it to be. There might be things I envy about someone else, such as more income, better-behaved kids, parents who are still alive and can give guidance, etc. (Oh, how I envy that today!) But when you get down to it? I wouldn’t want to swap my imperfect perfect for theirs. “They” may make more money or be more emotionally stable or be able to talk calmly to their kids or whatever, but they may also have a husband who is never home. Or grief over a lost dream. Or no relationship with Jesus. I’ll take my shrieking kids, dirty floors, and crappy food, thankyouverymuch.

Lastly, I will leave you with a detailed recap of the #1 worst moment of my life as a parent (up ‘til now). This should help you – once and for all – put the classical music assumption to rest.

It happened last night. Here’s the back story: about a week ago, we were at our neighborhood pool and Jackson pooped in his swim diaper. This was the second time he’s done this. If you’ve ever had that happen, you know it’s worse than disgusting. I decided I’m not going to change wet poopy swim diapers anymore. I told Jackson he can’t come back to the pool until he poops on the potty. Fast forward to last night. Dan called on his way home from work and said he’d take the kids to the pool. Since Jackson had already done his once-a-day poop, I was pretty sure I could get him to just pee on the potty as a win-win situation (meaning I wouldn’t have to back down on the no pool without potty). I hung up the phone with Dan and told the kids they could go to the pool. Jackson immediately started an all-out crying fest because he knew that meant he’d have to go potty. I tried to reassure him and told him all he had to do was go pee on the potty. He screamed and cried and said he didn’t want to go potty. I stripped him down and forced him to go into the bathroom and sit on the potty.

He sat there for 45 minutes and refused to pee. He fought and cried and kept trying to stand up off the potty. Pool time was going to run into dinner time (and a meeting I had to leave for), so I told Dan to take Katie by herself for a short time and then come back home. Well… Jackson FLIPPED out at this point because they left. I tried to change course and tell him to just forget the potty and I would dress him, but he refused to leave the potty. Ugh! There was great screaming and crying now and it was escalating. Finally, I physically pried him off the potty and carried him naked into the living room to dress him. He did not want to put his diaper on and was thrashing and writhing on the floor. I realized I better get that diaper on him and get him to a calm place before it worsened, but he wouldn’t be still enough for me to diaper him. He was hitting me and it really freaking hurt. As my last resort, I hiked a leg over him and sat on his chest (not my entire body weight, y’all – just enough to keep him somewhat flat) and diapered him crookedly and loosely. His top half was pounding my butt and back and his lower half was kicking my front side: chest, arms and face. It was pretty bad.

Once the diaper was on, I freed him and tried to hold him and calm him, but he was hysterical now. I am not using the term “hysterical” loosely either. He was raging and frantic and panicked and he had become completely unhinged. The only thing I knew to do was carry him upstairs and put him in his crib where he couldn’t hurt himself – or me, for that matter. I tried to carry him nicely, but he kneed me in the lip and busted it open – while I was halfway up the stairs and afraid I would drop him or tumble down the stairs with him and kill us both. So I hauled him over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes and struggled up the steps (he was beating my back at this point) and put him in his crib and closed the door. He thrashed and freaked out even more, but he was safe.

I went to my own bathroom and assessed my bloody lip and sat on the edge of the tub, trembling and crying. I have never seen Jackson like this and I didn’t know what to do. So I got things packed up for my meeting to occupy my mind on something else, and Dan called to say they were coming home from the pool. They got home and Jackson was still melting down in his crib, so I went in to try and calm him. After a few more minutes of screaming, he finally calmed down enough for me to lift him out of his crib and walk downstairs. He saw Katie and went over and started playing, and that was it for him. All done.

As for me? I was badly shaken. I couldn’t tell if I scarred my kid for life, and I wondered if it might take another three years for him to approach a potty again. I tried to talk to Dan about it then left for my meeting, and cried in the car. The tears really started falling when I wondered how my parents handled potty training – and remembered that I won’t ever be able to ask them.

So… there’s my “perfect” life in a nutshell. The good, the bad and the ugly; sitting on my kid and getting a bloody lip from my angry preschooler. As long as I live, I will never forget yesterday, and it will be a while before I ask Jackson to sit on the potty again. The only swimming he’ll be doing is in the plastic kiddie pool in our back yard.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

For My Baby

IMGP8374aOh, how I am blessed by you, Katie. You have, literally, changed my life. You have influenced my decisions, my self-worth, and you’ve reframed my life goals.

You have taught me so many good things about me, and also things that are not so good. You’ve helped me live my life more fully and more intentionally. You have called your father and I to be better people.

You connect my past to my future, as I channel my parents in me when I’m parenting you. I am learning to filter the good from the bad, trying to break the cycles of old habits while holding on to what is everlasting and true. There is a heavy burden in knowing that when I’m gone, you will be practicing what I’m teaching you now. I have a responsibility to you, but also to your children and their children.

You make me want to laugh more and to have more fun. You help me remember forgotten moments of my own childhood as I see the world through your eyes.

Your presence in my life gives me a better understanding of how God loves me.

You are irreplaceable. I can’t imagine my life without you, and I love you tremendously!

Happy 7th birthday, Peepers!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wordful Wednesday

sevenclownbutton You know how I feel about birthday parties. I’m a party pooper. So as Katie’s seventh birthday approached, I gave her two options: 1) Have a party with her friends, but no present from Mom and Dad, or 2) Pick one friend to spend the day with in any way you want, and there will be a present too! She chose option #2, and decided to take her cousin Adam to Six Flags.

It was a REALLY hot day. I mean REALLY. But Katie thoroughly enjoyed herself, and so did Adam. Adam’s mom went with us, and his dad met us later. We coincidentally met up with some other family friends too, so it was a fun party time for all of us. I felt like I needed to have the layers of dirt and sweat scraped off me at the end of the day, but Katie’s smile made it a little less icky.

I love this photo of Katie on the swings, arms outstretched in joy. It doesn’t get much better than that for an-almost-seven-year-old!100_2297

See more Wordful Wednesday at Seven Clown Circus.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Outdoor Movie

I think it’s becoming a summer tradition!

Last Friday night, for a second week in a row, we hosted another outdoor movie. This time, we got a little more high tech. We moved out of the backyard and onto the driveway. We used magnets to attach a white tablecloth to the garage door, and figured out how to rig a boom box to the system to improve the sound quality. Woo hoo! We are high class now, people! We’re going to end up annoying ALL of the neighbors!

We started the night with an attack of spray Silly String. That got the kids all riled up. Fun!IMGP8236a

Then we got out the big popcorn machine and glow sticks. Some of the kids tried to make shadow puppets on the garage door as we pulled benches, chairs and blankets up to the driveway. We let the kids vote on which movie to watch, and they chose The Sandlot. (Note to self: this is NOT a good movie for three-year-old boys who like to repeat off color words. Yes, even the sh*t bomb was dropped. Aaargh!)IMGP8275a

The movie started and the kids settled in, and we spilled lots of popcorn all over the driveway. The adults enjoyed a few beverages and time to chat before the night was over and everyone headed home.

My only complaint about outdoor movie night is that it starts so darn late because we have to wait for darkness to fall. But the tradeoff is we are making great memories for our kids and neighbors. I guess we’ll call it even.

By the way, here’s a little link love for some other outdoor movie ideas. Tauni has a few posts on her blog ( that give great tips on hosting a backyard movie. If you can’t find the specific post, here’s one that will get you started. I also LOVE this idea on Homemaking Fun for a homemade drive-in movie theater, complete with cardboard cars.

Sammy’s Something Sweet

Jackson’s napping and it’s raining outside. That means Katie needs something fun to do. We happened upon a book called Sammy’s Something Sweet (by Larry Dane Brimner) at the library yesterday, and read it at bedtime. It gave us an idea for something to try today.IMGP8344

In the book, Sammy’s Granny Frannie wants something sweet to eat. Sammy goes to the refrigerator to find something for her and comes back and tells her to close her eyes. She’s expecting sweet, but gets sour lemons instead. The next time, it’s a sour pickle. Finally, Sammy gives her something sweet – chocolate pie!

Katie and I brought this book to life by raiding our pantry. I put a blindfold on Katie, then put one small item in her mouth. The first one was a Cheerio. She had to taste this one three times – and get a verbal hint – before she correctly guessed what it was. She knew the M&M right off the bat, as well as the marshmallow. The peanut was a tricky one, and she never could guess what it was.IMGP8341

Next, it was my turn. I got all of them right pretty quickly, but Katie pulled some tricks on me. She started combining things. The one that did me in was an almond, white chocolate chip, and a grapefruit flavored jelly bean. Yuck!

This was a fun and easy way to make reading books a little more interactive! Let us know if there are any books you have tried to bring to life.IMGP8342

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Backyard Movie

Santa brought us a movie projector for Christmas, and last night we put it to good use in our backyard. We invited some neighbors over and let the kids play in the tree house until it got dark. This was the view of the sunset from our tree house.IMGP7906

We hooked up the popcorn machine and the projector, spread out blankets and folding chairs, and enjoyed a movie on the patio.IMGP7918

The girls chose the movie An American Tail. Even though our house siding chopped the picture a bit, everyone enjoyed themselves and ate their fill of popcorn. We can’t wait to do this again!

Water Painting

This is – hands down – one of my kids’ most favorite activities of all time. We’ve been doing it since Katie was about a year or two old, and it is ALWAYS a hit with the kids who live on our street.

We keep a big crate full of paint brushes and buckets in the garage. Yesterday Katie pulled it off the shelf for the first time this season. It is stocked with buckets and cheapo brushes that you can find at the Dollar Tree.IMGP7889

Just add water, then let the kids go to town on your driveway. Yesterday, my kids took to the street because our driveway was wet from washing our car.IMGP7897

Sometimes, the kids will even paint themselves.IMGP7902

As I watched the kids paint, I heard some screeching then saw a hawk fly overhead with three or four birds chasing him. He landed on our chimney and I changed lenses on the camera then snuck over to get a photo. He saw me and flew off, but I managed to get this one photo. I didn’t realize until I downloaded the photo to my computer that the hawk has a “meal” in his claws. No wonder those other birds were chasing him!IMGP7899a

Friday, June 4, 2010

Welcome to Summer!

It’s that time of year! The last day of school. Can you hear the kids (and teachers) shout with joy?!

Katie just got off the bus two hours ago. She is officially a second grader. When I woke her for school this morning, I told her to stay a first grader forever and stop growing. Miss Sassy Pants retorted, “NO!” I told her if she doesn’t go to school for the last day of first grade, she’ll stay a first grader forever, so maybe I’d keep her home today. She didn’t like that idea one bit! She said she really really wants to be a second grader. When I asked why, she said because then she can be a third grader and fourth grader and fifth grader. I choked on the thought and told her to STOP SAYING THAT! She laughed. Oh, well. I guess I have to let her grow up sometime, right?

Like last year, we had a little Welcome to Summer celebration when the kids got off the bus. I let them run through the finish line banner as their entry to summer.IMGP7883a IMGP7884a IMGP7885a

Then we gathered to eat a cookie cake on my front lawn. The kids talked about their last day at school and begged the adults to take them to the swimming pool.IMGP7887

Katie had a MOUND of paperwork in her backpack for me to sort during Jackson’s nap. I’m drowning in school papers now! But I had a little gift of my own in her backpack. Katie’s teacher had all the kids write me thank you notes for helping them in class all year and for making them a video that we watched at yesterday’s class party. I was so moved by those sweet little letters!

My other favorite thing in her backpack was the packet with a sample of her writing from the third day of school compared to her current writing. I love seeing such a huge gap between the two to prove what I already know in my heart: my daughter has taken another step on the journey to independence. Do high schoolers come home with significant growth evidence such as this? Does the learning ever plateau to where it isn’t quite so obvious? I will cherish this blatant proof of growth for as long as I can!

Our Tree House Flag

Yes, we’re still enamored with our new tree house. We keep adding more and more fun things to it, like solar lights. Katie also made a sign to hang on the clubhouse.

Since the very first day that the kids and neighbors were allowed to play in the tree house, the kids talked about a secret password to get into it. I nixed that idea, not wanting them to start taking sides and fighting over who could use it. Their password was going to be “Girls rule” or “Boys rule,” so I suggested they create a motto instead. They didn’t know what a motto is, so I explained it to them. They quickly settled on the motto “Kids rule” and they throw it about when they are playing in the tree house.

Dan had the brilliant idea to put a flag on the tree house, and I remembered a blank banner I had in the basement that we could use. Yesterday, I got out my StazOn permanent ink pads and some Sharpies, and added the motto to the flag. Then the kids put their names and handprints on the flag.IMGP7870

I’m hoping that every time new friends come to our house to play, we can add their names to the flag too!IMGP7872

Stick Man

A year and a half ago, we were stuck inside on a snow day. Katie and I got creative and turned one of her then-favorite books into a craft. We made our own Seymours, like the one in the book Can You See What I See?

One of the kids’ current favorite library books is Stick Man by Julia Donaldson. It tells the story of a man who is a stick and gets separated from his family by dogs (who chase sticks) and kids (who use sticks for snowmen arms) and dads (who use sticks for sand castle flag masts). It’s really a cute book.IMGP7770
While playing outside, the kids and I searched for some sticks that look like Stick Man. Jackson’s was tall and gangly. (And, yes, once Jackson gets his bicycle helmet on, it stays on for the remainder of the time we’re outside. Like a hat. He doesn’t like to take it off.)IMGP7774
Katie found a great stick that we turned into a Stick Lady Love (the Stick Man’s wife) by putting a leaf skirt on her.IMGP7772
It’s fun to make a book come to life!

Fun with Trash

When we went to City Museum in April, there was an area that Katie really liked. It had a rope swing in the middle of a kind of circus-ring-type area. There were dozens of empty containers you could stack and crash through while hanging onto the swing.IMGP5512

I got a stack of empty ice cream buckets this week at Leftovers, and the kids have recreated the City Museum fun… with the added bonus of bicycles!IMGP7756-

Katie stacked the tubs for Jackson, then directed him how to crash through them. Trust me, he only needed to be told once!IMGP7761-

Soon, there were variations in architecture too.IMGP7768

Two days later, the kids moved to the back yard and decided to crash tubs with the swing.IMGP7868

Then there was the brilliant idea of sliding into them. Woo hoo!IMGP7869

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Log Blocks

Jackson and I went to the zoo last week with my mom’s group. We had a 45 minute session in the Zoomagination room, where there were all kinds of nature toys and role-playing stations set up for the kids. I saw these cool blocks made out of tree parts, and couldn’t wait to get home and search the Internet for some we could buy. (Sorry the photo quality isn’t so great – it’s from my phone.)Photo050

I found log blocks like these for sale by different vendors online, but I scoffed at the $50 (or more) price tag. I think it’s silly to pay so much for something I could have for FREE… well, it would be free if I just chopped down a tree in my yard and all.Log Blocks

So… what to do. Hmmm. I thought about going to our city’s mulch recycling center and finding tree parts to drag home and cut up. And then! What luck! Dan decided to trim tree branches yesterday and called me out to confirm that he didn’t trim too little or too much. I saw some nice-sized limbs that I could use. And then! Like a symphony of heavenly music, I heard the screech of a circular saw! My neighbor’s grandson was cutting boards to repair her basement, and I realized I hit the jackpot. I walked over and asked him to cut my limbs (tree limbs, ahem) into segments. He obliged and I came home with a tub o’ logs for me the kids to use in our tree house!IMGP7586

Katie wasted no time in getting her little paws on the log blocks. She puttered in the tree house, then asked me to take photos of what she built. She told me this is a church (see the logs laid on their sides like pews?) and then the jut-out to the right is the kids’ room at the back of the church.IMGP7593

Then she worked on a forest of stacked logs.IMGP7596

I love these blocks, and I love even more that they came from our own yard waste. Now I just need a few thicker logs to build platforms and bigger structures. Anyone have a tree they want to donate? Ha!


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