Friday, September 30, 2011

Stop Waiting (October 2006)

I was president of my mom’s group a few years ago. Every month, our newsletter included a President’s Greeting. It was usually a cheery preview of the month’s upcoming activities. Since I’m not very good at cheery previews, I used the space to write my own personal thoughts on motherhood. I am including these on my blog for my children to read one day.

October 2006: What were you doing ten years ago this October? How has your life changed since then? I was just 22 years old, not even married for a year yet. I think I was in the “no kids for me, thanks” phase of my life. I was probably still trying to find myself and hadn’t learned the biggest lessons of my life yet. (Not that I’ve learned them all even now…)

Ten years ago this October, my family was still defined as my parents, sister, brother, and my husband. That definition has changed tremendously in the last 10 years. Not only do I have a daughter, but I have another baby on the way. My family core has changed and has now become the family that I’ve created – the one that I’ve borne, not the one I was born into.

Ten years ago this October, the family I grew up in ceased to exist. My parents had already divorced in 1995, but in October 1996, my brother died. Before this point, I don’t think I stopped to think that my family would ever change that much. I figured my siblings and I would grow old together, and the grandparents would be around for a long time, spoiling and playing with the grandkids. Now, ten years later, the only ones that are left are me and my sister. It’s devastating to feel like the only survivor after a storm.

But the silver lining is I changed my life – or rather, it changed me. I learned just how much I take for granted, and I learned that we will all die one day. I learned that family doesn’t mean shared blood – just shared love. I learned to pare down the frills in my life and relationships, and learned that what I truly need to survive aren’t things and stuff. The hardest lesson I learned was that I have to tell the people I love how I feel. I always thought I’d get another chance to tell my brother I loved him, but I didn’t. That is one of the biggest regrets in my life. And, for the last ten years, I’ve tried not to make that mistake again.

I know you’ve heard this before, and it’s repetitive and maybe a little trite. But let me say it again so you might truly know it: don’t wait another day. Whatever it is you’re waiting for, stop waiting. Say it, do it, undo it, be it, feel it. Tomorrow isn’t always another day, Scarlett. Today is all you have. Make it count!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Missing Socks

Luckily, one of the latest fads involves mismatched socks – or mitchmatched socks, as Jackson calls them. That might work for the kids, but what’s an adult to do when his sock mate goes missing? Donate it to the kids’ toy stash and play Sock Tag!

How do you play Sock Tag? Each player gets a sock then stuffs it down the waistband of their pants with the foot of the sock hanging out over their behind._MDS6571

The players start off in a mad dash to try and steal other players’ socks._MDS6569

When they look out the window and see your kid running around with a sock hanging out of her pants, the neighbors will either think you’ve lost your mind OR decide to join in the fun!_MDS6576

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

E.T. and Innocence

Compared to the world’s standards, Katie is living a sheltered life. She isn’t allowed to watch much TV. The TV she does watch is usually an animated cartoon on PBS or maybe on the Disney Channel. Her grandparents let her watch things I wouldn’t allow, but that’s a grandparents’ prerogative (and they aren’t awful things to watch anyway, or else I’m sure Dan and I would intervene). We have friends whose kids – at Katie’s age and younger – have watched movies like Twilight and some with adult storylines about cancer and death.

But Katie is, in a word, innocent. For example, she has watched Scooby Doo episodes at Grandma and Poppy’s, and has had nightmares from them in the past. I think her imagination just runs wild after seeing cartoon zombies and mummies. We requested the grandparents not show Scooby Doo, and they honored our request. Recently, she was allowed to watch another episode and it freaked her out again, but just minimal freakage.

The freakage wasn’t too bad. Also, I’m pretty sure we are on the cusp of new territory. She is starting to care how her hair looks and what clothes she wears (even though she is still okay with wearing her favorite patchwork skirt with crazy color combinations AND polka dot mismatched socks). I keep thinking we need to give her more freedom and allow her to read “older” books and watch “older” shows.

I was lulled into the idea that Katie is ready to learn more about the world. I was at the library and saw the movie E.T. and fondly remembered how  much I loved it when I was Katie’s age. I decided to check it out and bring it home for a family movie night. I recalled a few scary scenes in the movie, so I prefaced our movie night by telling the kids the movie ends FINE and everyone is happy and Mommy and Daddy would never show them a movie that doesn’t have a good ending.

Katie and Jackson curled up together and we started watching the movie. This horribly grainy photo shows them mesmerized by E.T.’s story.IMG_0171

When the kids first saw E.T., their eyes were huge and full of wonder. Dan and I shared a misty-eyed glance with each other, so excited to witness another chapter in our kids’ induction into ‘80s pop culture. And then…

AND THEN. E.T. turns white and starts dying. And Katie’s anxiety ratchets up a few notches. In the scene where E.T. is found in the creek bed, literally on death’s doorstep, Katie turned her face from the TV and covered her ears. I held her hand, calmed her, and reminded her that it all turns out okay. (Darn it. I should have turned the TV off right then!) The movie progressed with a little more anxiety from Katie, but I thought all was well when she cheered and hollered as the boys on bikes escaped the alien hunters and took off in flight. Katie was all smiles from then on. E.T. said goodbye to Elliot, the kids were sad to see him leave, and it was over.IMG_0176

NOT SO FAST, you darn extra terrestrial. An hour and a half after bedtime, Katie came to me and Dan with her hair sweated to her scalp, body trembling, and panic in her eyes. She said she kept seeing E.T. dying in the creek bed. I calmed her down, walked her back to bed, and tucked her in with reminders that E.T. isn’t real. Thirty minutes later, Katie was up and crying again. I knelt by her bed, trying to find patience in my soul so I could calm her down again. And that’s when Jackson woke up, screaming from his own night terrors. Oh, for the love! I told Dan, “That’s IT! Our kids will never watch anything higher than a G rated movie until they turn 14!” Sorry, E.T. and the related ‘80s kitsch. You’ll have to wait a few more years to claim our kids.

In a sidebar to this story, Jackson tried on an inflatable alien head and hands that we got at Cracker Barrel as part of his Halloween costume. He ran around the yard, then without prompting, held up his hands and blurted out: “E.T. phone home!” Glad to see he has good memories after all._MDS7443

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Helmet Mohawk

Last spring, I saw this post on Make about making helmet mohawks. Today, Jackson and I finally got around to turning his bike helmet into a mohawk.

We took a trip to Hobby Lobby, in search of faux fur. The only kind they had was more felty than furry. It wouldn’t stand up enough to evoke a mohawk on Jackson’s helmet. So we browsed the trim aisle and found some funky trim that would work. Jackson picked his favorite color, we had a yard cut and headed home to find my glue gun.

It was very easy to apply the trim to the helmet. I just piped a row of hot glue, an inch at a time, and stuck the trim to it. Jackson was BEYOND excited to have a helmet mohawk, and begged to go outside and take a spin on his bike to try it out._MDS7446 

The smile says it all. _MDS7450 (2)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friendship (September 2006)

I was president of my mom’s group a few years ago. Every month, our newsletter included a President’s Greeting. It was usually a cheery preview of the month’s upcoming activities. Since I’m not very good at cheery previews, I used the space to write my own personal thoughts on motherhood. I am including these on my blog for my children to read one day.

September 2006: Remember when we were girls and friendship meant having the same favorite color or song, or liking the same boy? It was so easy then, wasn’t it? I watch Katie make new friends so easily. She just walks up to them and says, “My name is Katie. What’s your name?” And then they chase each other or go climb or slide. That’s all it takes!

Now that I’m grown-up, it isn’t that easy anymore. Authentic, true friendship takes a lot of work. And, sometimes, if you’re lucky, you find a friend who knows you almost as well as you know you! And if you’re really lucky, you find more than one friend like that.

I feel lucky like that. Yep, sounds a bit cheesy once I write it down! But I feel like ever since I started this new voyage of motherhood, I have been blessed to be a part of this group of mothers. I’ve found women who I normally wouldn’t bond with in the “regular” world, but somehow they are my closest friends in this group. Part of that is because my definition of bonding has changed. It used to be I was friends with the closest cubicle-mate. Now my criteria for a friend and acquaintance is someone who can relate to venting and temper tantrums (both mine and Katie’s!). And I’ve become good friends with people who have seen my breast in public while I so desperately tried nursing those first few times. And my best friends have become people who I see often and who care enough to pick up the phone and call me after a rough day at the park chasing Katie. Those “best” friendships take a little more work, but they are so worth it!

Thank you to each of you for filling those roles, in whatever different way that you do. You feed my soul and each others’ souls by finding ways to relate within our group, even though sometimes it takes a little more work. Thank you for finding ways to become each others’ acquaintances and friends, and, if you’ve been lucky, maybe even best friends.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Homemade Lunchables

Thanks to this post, Katie and I have found another idea for packing school lunches. I’ve always thought about making homemade Lunchables, but just wasn’t sure about the final product and how to make it work. The post by Nike from Choose to Thrive gave me a kick in the rear and got me going. I showed it to Katie and she was excited to make lunches for the week. Whew!

We dug through our plastic containers and found one that was pre-divided into three sections, and another from Chinese takeout that would also work.

We gathered the food and tools to make the Lunchables, then Katie set to work cutting out ham shapes with a cookie cutter._MDS6964

I made dividers from an old milk jug, and packed crackers and cheese into the containers. Katie selected fruits and vegetables, and we were done._MDS6965

It’s easy, and I like being able to choose healthier food (veggies, fruit and even preservative-free meat and cheese!). I think Katie likes the bonus of getting a small treat included in her lunch. (She doesn’t usually get any sweets for lunch.)

I’m hoping it’s an idea we can continue for a while.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Slipping Through My Fingers

_MDS6916 Schoolbag in hand, she leaves home in the early morning,
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile.
I watch her go with a surge of that well-known sadness
And I have to sit down for a while.
The feeling that I’m losing her forever
And without really entering her world.
I’m glad whenever I can share her laughter,
That funny little girl.
Slipping through my fingers all the time
I try to capture every minute,
The feeling in it
Slipping through my fingers all the time.
Do I really see what’s in her mind?
Each time I think I’m close to knowing,
She keeps on growing.
Slipping through my fingers all the time.
Sleep in our eyes, her and me at the breakfast table,
Barely awake, I let precious time go by.
Then when she’s gone there’s that odd melancholy feeling
And a sense of guilt I cant deny.
What happened to the wonderful adventures,
The places I had planned for us to go?
Well, some of that we did but most we didn’t
And why I just don’t know.
Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture,
And save it from the funny tricks of time.
Slipping through my fingers all the time.
Schoolbag in hand she leaves home in the early morning,
Waving goodbye with an absent-minded smile...


Monday, September 19, 2011

Why I Blog

I started blogging in 2008, with this post. I had a few general ideas in mind for blogging, but didn’t have what I’d consider focused intention. I thought I’d just give it a try and discover what I had to say by saying it.

There are lots of meaningful reasons to blog – it’s fun, I like to write, I like meeting people, I like sharing ideas, I like getting feedback, I like having a place for family & friends to keep tabs on us – but I could find other outlets (besides blogging) to satisfy those reasons. Facebook does a  pretty good job with most of those!

No, my main reason for blogging is this: it’s for my kids.03

My parents died when Katie was one year old. That means they haven’t been around to guide me or answer questions about the sorts of things I did when I was little. I’ve wanted to ask them dozens of questions like: how old was I when I potty trained? What did you do to break up sibling fights? How did I learn to ride a bike? Were you ever afraid of losing me? What’s the best tip you have for handling nightmares?

But my parents are gone and there are no answers from them. I’m left to fly by the seat of my pants, weigh pros and cons with Dan, ask my sister for advice, and follow my friends’ tips and tricks.

I would LOVE to read my mom and dad’s blog. OH, yeah… that’s right. They didn’t write one. So I’m writing one for my kids.

One day, they may raise kids of their own. I pray I am there to witness that and give them advice, and hopefully get a few chuckles as I watch them get payback for the debts they are incurring now. (I can’t wait to see my grandkids’ tantrums!) But if I’m not around if/when Katie has postpartum depression or Jackson’s child rides a bike without training wheels for the first time, I know they’ll have Six Golden Coins to read so they can understand what my life was like with them. And, mostly, so they can understand they aren’t going through anything I didn’t go through… and we all survived – even the rough spots.

This blog is my gift to Katie and Jackson. I try to be honest but not embarrass them, and I try to chronicle their days, my marriage, my faith, and the joys and sorrows of this beautifully glorious life. I write knowing they will read it some day. And I hope, above all else, they feel the love that comes with each post and feel honored to be at the center of Six Golden Coins.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Not Today

I did not enjoy being a mom today.

The guilt that comes with that admission is staggering. I’m waiting for DFS to come to my door at any moment and take my kids into custody. I feel horrible admitting that even though I love my children, some days I just don’t like being their mom very much. But if I’m being honest on this blog, I have to include the good AND the bad.

There are lots of reasons why today wasn’t my best day. One of them is because they bicker when they are together. Jackson is a different kid Monday through Friday when his big sister is in school. But when she is home in the evenings and on weekends, the territorial disputes go into overdrive. And their already diminished ability to hear my voice when I try to correct their behavior is further obliterated when they are intent on making the other whine or scream or snort during lunch.

Another reason is a little bit of grayness in my heart. Today would have been Mom’s 70th birthday, which is – plainly put – a sad day regardless of anything else going on in my life.

The weather is rainy and misty. It’s been dreary and somewhat chilly this past week, which means a little more time cooped up in the house with the kids. Dan is working long hours. And I have the same cabin fever feelings I have in mid-February when the ice and snow keep us holed up inside, begging for some sign of spring.

Except this is September, and summer was just here two weeks ago. How can my heart be so fickle and change from optimism to pessimism in mere days? The good news about being fickle is I know the pendulum will swing back the other way in the blink of an eye. I’m holding on for that.

Have patience, my soul!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Who Are You? (August 2006)

I was president of my mom’s group a few years ago. Every month, our newsletter included a President’s Greeting. It was usually a cheery preview of the month’s upcoming activities. Since I’m not very good at cheery previews, I used the space to write my own personal thoughts on motherhood. I am including these on my blog for my children to read one day.

August 2006: Who are you? Don’t just automatically rush ahead and think, “I’m ____’s mom and ____’s wife.” Don’t think about whose daughter, sister or friend you are. And don’t think about what you look like! Think about your core self – your soul, your heart, your passion. When you take away all the roles that you play and all the hats you wear every day, what do you have left? What are your loves?

If you were to ask me, here’s what I’d say: I am Elizabeth. I am God’s child. I am passionate about words and talking and feeling – whether it’s joy or sorrow. I am opinionated. I am a little obsessive-compulsive. (Okay, a LOT.) I am addicted to my husband, my kid and my computer. I love to read and learn new things, stretch my mind to new possibilities. I like to take photographs, make things and write. I love to overindulge in the good things of life: laughter, love, food, drink, friends. I love red and purple, but not together. And I love music.

I ask the question “Who are you?” because it is so important. If you don’t know yourself, then how can anyone else? How can you teach your child to know himself? And how can you fulfill your purpose if you haven’t looked inside yourself to find out what it is?

Once you know who you are and what you love, you have the ability to nurture yourself and become more fully YOU. And when you know who you are, you can show the others in your life who they are too.

This quote from Marianne Williamson is one of my favorites: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God! Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure about you. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us: it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Days of the Week Dial

I was at my favorite store (Leftovers) and found a wooden clock frame. I dug through a bucket filled with miscellaneous wooden pieces and located a wooden arrow, and decided to make them into a days of the week tool for Jackson._MDS5574

First, I stretched my brain and figured out how to make a circular days of the week diagram. I had to search deep in my memory to find the math and figure out the circumference of a circle. Then I split the circle into seven equal parts and used the chart application in Microsoft Word to graph a pie chart. I added day labels, and printed out my diagram on regular typing paper. I painted the wooden form with white paint and asked Dan to drill a hole in the wooden arrow. I painted the arrow blue._MDS5569

I decoupaged the diagram onto the board and waited for it to dry, then assembled the arrow spinner. I had to experiment with different ways to keep the arrow straight without being too lose to flop around. I used a brass brad, a pony bead and a washer on the front of the board._MDS5579

On the back, I used a washer and a pony bead, then spread the brad prongs apart and tightly folded them over._MDS5580

Each morning when Jackson wakes up, he loves to turn the arrow to find the correct day._MDS5581

He reads the word and walks over to his closet to find the bin labeled with the corresponding day, where his pre-selected clothes are waiting.IMGP7919

Monday, September 12, 2011

A Little Reminder

Remember back when I wrote a post about this one little weekly email that keeps my marriage communication lines open? Did you forget to start this weekly ritual yourself? Lucky for you, I wrote about it at JC’s Loft. Incorporate it into your family’s life and it’ll save your sanity. It has worked well for us!
{Update: The JC's Loft blog was closed and the link no longer works. If you would like instructions, leave a comment and your email address and I'll be in contact. I'm sorry for any confusion!}

Friday, September 9, 2011

Why Did You Have Children? (July 2006)

I was president of my mom’s group a few years ago. Every month, our newsletter included a President’s Greeting. It was usually a cheery preview of the month’s upcoming activities. Since I’m not very good at cheery previews, I used the space to write my own personal thoughts on motherhood. I am including these on my blog for my children to read one day.

July 2006: Why did you have children? Was it to cement the bond between you and your husband? Was it to give your parents a grandchild? Was it to see life perpetuate itself? Was it so you’d have someone to take care of you in your old age?

I know it certainly wasn’t because you wanted to clean a messy house. Or because you enjoy saying, “No, please don’t do that” a thousand times a day. And especially not because you wanted to change dirty diapers.

There are thousands of reasons why people have children. And sometimes it’s a combination of all of those reasons. But whatever the reason, I’ll bet you never expected the journey to be like this.

If anyone had told me I’d be up in the middle of the night covered in puke, I’d have laughed. “No, not me! That’s just an urban legend.” Or that I’d be inventing games to entertain my daughter while changing a poopy diaper, or that I’d be so excited when my kid learned to blow her nose.

Luckily, there are lots of joys to go along with the not-so-joyous parts of parenthood. I get to be the Boo Boo Kisser and make it all better. I get to experience all the Firsts (Steps, Tooth, Haircut) of another person’s life. I get to make Katie laugh just by stalking her with my tickling hand. I’m the one she calls when she’s scared. And, best of all, I get to hold her in my arms and rock to her favorite song before sleep.

I’ve developed a lot more empathy for the crises of the world. Before I became a mother, I would hear an awful news story and think, “Oh, how sad.” Then I’d go on with my day. Now I want to cry because I think how awful it would be if that happened to my baby girl.

Becoming a mother has peeled away the layers of insecurity, vanity, pride, and selfishness inside my soul. I’ve found a different person inside, one that I never thought I could be. This was not my reason for having a child, but it’s been the best byproduct I never imagined!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Photo Menagerie

One thing I love about my photography hobby is the way it makes me stop and look at the world more closely. My zoom lens helps me get up close and personal with God’s creation, and this year has been a great adventure behind the lens. I want to share photos of some of the creatures I’ve gotten to know with my camera.

March: snow bunnyIMGP9843 (2)

April: ladybug_MDS9327

April: robin_MDS0261

April: hungry bee_MDS0549

April: hawk on fence (photo by Dan)IMGP0418

July: Mohawk the turtle_MDS3461

August: sneaky mouse_MDS5494

August: woodchuck_MDS5622

August: opossum_MDS6150 (2)

(I have to show him twice because he was so unique!)_MDS6153-

Of course, we can’t have animals on the blog without mentioning Pancake the squirrel. I have LOTS of photos of that silly guy, and even one of him and his “girlfriend.” (The kids named her Waffle.)_MDS4176 



I am so thankful for the bay window in my living room! It has given me a front-row seat for spying on the world. Now if I could just figure out how to remove the blue cast in my photos that comes from shooting through a Low-E Argon window!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Sun Damage

Every morning when Katie gets dressed for the day, I remind her to apply sunscreen to her face. She uses one of those spongy makeup applicators to avoid the mess on her hands, and spreads a squirt of sunscreen around her face. Sometimes she does this grudgingly, sometimes she does it without much fuss.

I decided to show her WHY I ask her to do this every day.

We own a simple black light that we got at Home Depot for this very purpose. It cost maybe $15 or $20._MDS6220

I asked Katie to sit on the counter close to the mirror, then turned off the lights and held the black light close to her face._MDS6210

She could see her skin, and laughed at how her teeth glow in the black light. Then I held the black light up to my own face to show her the sun damage I have underneath the top layer of my skin. I can’t believe I’m posting this photo on my blog for the world to see my blotchy skin, but it’s worth it to illustrate the results of the sun on my skin. (Sorry I couldn’t get an even better photo to show the damage!) Can you see the blotches to the left of the corner of my mouth? My skin looks dark in the areas of damage, and lighter around my mouth and nose. The reason it’s lighter around my nose and mouth is because I had already applied my daily sunscreen to my face, and these whiter areas are spots I missed or didn’t rub it in well._MDS6212

Katie looked at me and said, “Oh, Mommy! Your face looks horrible!” Afraid she hurt my feelings, the sweet girl tried to retract her words but I used the moment to teach her. I told her when I was younger, I thought tan skin looked prettier and healthier than pale, white skin. I described how I used to sit in the sun to get tanned and burned, and how I thought tan lines from my swimsuit looked cool. Then I explained how doing that made my face end up with splotches and wrinkles. She looked shocked and disgusted.

Next, we got her sunscreen (which she hadn’t applied to her face yet) and I asked her to rub a small amount on her cheek. The spot with sunscreen was many shades darker than the rest of her face. This showed her how the sunscreen settles in to her skin and shields it from the sun damage. She thought that was pretty cool, and readily set to covering her entire face with sunscreen.

My last words were: “Now you understand why I want you to use sunscreen every day.” I think this illustration will keep whining to a minimum in the future.

Friday, September 2, 2011

“Nothing is all wrong…” (June 2006)

I was president of my mom’s group a few years ago. Every month, our newsletter included a President’s Greeting. It was usually a cheery preview of the month’s upcoming activities. Since I’m not very good at cheery previews, I used the space to write my own personal thoughts on motherhood. I am including these on my blog for my children to read one day.

June 2006: Who do you compare yourself to? And don’t deny it – I know you do this. I’ve spoken to some of you about it! I know some of you compare yourselves to your own mothers, your friends, and even moms in our group. I do! And sometimes it makes me feel really really bad about myself. I feel less than perfect, or even less than average. I berate myself for being impatient or yelling too much or feeding my daughter “unwholesome” food or for any of the thousands of things that I’ve done. Sometimes I even compare my daughter to the other kids in her age group. (As we all know, Katie is not the child that the books describe as an “angel” baby. She’s the “spirited” one!)

Just when the shame and guilt are about to eat me alive, I remind myself that I am not perfect. I think about how I am doing my best, just like every other mother I know. I remind myself of the things that are going well, like that fact that Katie likes to eat broccoli and she sleeps through the night and has great language skills. My mom used to have a sign posted in her kitchen that said, “Nothing is all wrong. Even a clock that has stopped is right twice a day.” And it’s like that with parenting. Sure, there are values to instill and rules to teach, but I figure I can’t go wrong if I cuddle and hug and love and embrace my child.

I think about how my daughter may not be an “angel” baby, but she is determined and bright and she stands up for herself. She is the child God has blessed me with, and she is the person who has helped me grow up and learn that the world is so much bigger than me. Before Katie was born, I wrote a list called “Things I Want to Teach My Unborn Child.” In my arrogance and selfishness, I never thought she’d be the one who would teach me.


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