Saturday, July 30, 2011

Moments like these

Leah has never been the kind of child who wanted or needed to be rocked to sleep.  As a baby, she was always happiest, and went to sleep best, laying down drowsy with her thumb and soothing herself to sleep.  However, since graduating to a toddler bed, bedtime has literally become a nightmare.  With rare exception, she is put to bed no less than 5 times a night before she stays put.  Even at 2 years old, she is a master of bedtime bargaining – she needs more Sippy cup, she wants kisses from Dad, she requests to sleep with her brothers, asks to watch TV, etc.  More often than not she is in tears and I am beyond frustrated before she is finally in bed for the night. It’s a downright crappy way to end the day.

Tonight was no exception, and was compounded by the fact that she was *exhausted*.  We have been transitioning out of naps this week, in hopes that she would be tired at 8:00 every night, instead of 10:00 or 11:00.  We had also spent the day at the waterpark, where she did “big jumps” into the pool, swam like a fish, and went down the big slide over and over again.  We finally left, mid melt-down, because she was just worn out.  When bedtime came, I thought she might actually go quietly, because she was sooooo tired.  Unfortunately, I must have waited just this much too long because when we started our bedtime battle, Leah was a mess from the beginning.  She started crying right away, smacked herself in the lip with the door while attempting to peek out, wailed that her Sippy cup was too empty, and on and on.  We did this for almost an hour (which I know because her lullaby cd was over and it runs for 45 minutes) and I was just DONE.  Brian suggested I bring her into our bed and settle her there, but I refused.  (At some point I would like a child-free bed, and we won’t ever get there if I keep giving in.)  So back in her room we went, but this time, Leah wanted to rock. 

When Leah was born, my mother gave me her rocking chair.  She had rocked me in it when I was a baby, as her mother had with her.  Both of my boys loved to be rocked, yet we had never had a good rocking chair, and she wanted me to have it for Petunia.  Up to this point though, it had seen most of its use when I was still nursing, and since then has held clothes or blankets, and occasionally Leah when she “reads”.  Tonight, it creaked and squeaked as we rocked, but my little girl actually started settling down.  She lay for several minutes, curled up against my chest, fighting sleep as her lids got heavier and heavier.  Finally, I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Mommy’s got you baby, go to sleep”.  Her eyelids fluttered once, then shut for the night. 

These are the moments I live for as a mother, for several reasons.  First, I love to hold my children while they sleep, to watch their little chests rise and fall, and wonder what they dream about.  My babies are so active during the day, to see their little faces peaceful in sleep is almost reverent. However, I also love moments like these because they ground me, and remind why I became I mother in the first place.  I love my children. Fiercely. They are the first things I think of when I wake up, and the last things I think of before I go to sleep, and a million times in between.  Moments like these make me slow down, and amidst all the other hubbub and drama in life, they remind me of one simple truth.  These small, beautiful, amazing, precious children are gifts entrusted to me from my Father in Heaven, and nothing else matters so much as what I do for them, and with them. 

If I will just slow down and be patient enough, my children will show me the kind of mother they each need me to be. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Face Painting

One of the items of high priority on our Summer List was face painting.  Jacob came home from Field Day at school with a fabulous snake painted around his face, and it has been all Austin has talked about ever since.  So, when we were compiling our lists of must-do's for the summer, this was one of Austin's.  
I am not an artist by any stretch of the imagination, but this was something I really wanted to do with my kids.  When we sat down to do it this morning, they started out with requests of dragons breathing fire wrapped around their faces.  Fortunately for me, my children are very understanding of my limited artistic abilities, and were perfectly happy with my elementary school renderings of  these: 

 a volcano with hot lava spewing up over his forehead
 a spider with red fangs
 a tree (I told you, I'm limited)
 a flower
 and a heart, unfortunately after she smeared half of it.
Austin had to have a snake, too.

For Jacob's second cheek, he REALLY wanted a T-Rex.  
Definitely out of my league, so we called in the big guns:  

  Brian is a a far more talented artist, and even with our $4.99 set of paints and poor quality brush, he painted Jacob a great T-Rex!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Born To Ride

This is what we did for FHE tonight:

Austin has made huge progress bike riding in a short amount of time, and was determined to be training wheels free by his 5th birthday (a week from today).  However, when we decided tonight was the night to take off the training wheels, he literally screamed and cried as we took them off.  (It didn't help that big brother prefaced the whole evening by telling him he would be expected to go really fast).  We calmed him down and reminded him how scared he had been at first to ride at all, and then how good he had felt once he conquered that fear.  We promised him we knew he could do it if he would just listen to Dad's directions,  and not give up. 

My baby boy lived up to the name Grandma christened him with 5 years ago next Monday:

I cannot describe the joy it gave me to see the happiness, joy, excitement and determination in our little boy's eyes.  He was riding with no help within 15 minutes, and rode for almost an hour before we had to drag him in, red-faced and exhausted but still begging to ride.  He said 5 words that my little boy doesn't say very often: "I don't want to quit!"  Tonight was a big night for Austin in more ways than just the training wheels.  He conquered a fear, rose to the occasion, and didn't give up, something he hasn't done very often in his short life.
Austin, my almost 5 year old, we are so proud of you!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Smelling the roses

Self-Realization #47 - I am not good at slowing down to smell the flowers. I have realized over the years that I have forgotten how to relax, which is really pretty funny considering I used to be the laziest child God ever created. (Ironically enough, that title has been passed onto Austin. Literally. On a regular basis I call him The Laziest Child God Ever Created. Usually when he is still not doing whatever I've asked him to 5 times already).

Somewhere along the way, I have become driven by the need to check things off a list. I live and die by my planner, and I gain a high level of satisfaction at how much I can get accomplished by the end of the day. (I also can give myself a pretty good guilt trip over what I haven't accomplished by the end of the day). But in a house with a husband and 3 kids, there is always another load of laundry to be washed, another sink full of dishes to do, food to be made or cleaned up. And then there are the weeds to be pulled, grocery shopping to be done, errands to be run. Even with my husband picking up a fair share of the cleaning and meal preparation, I could keep myself busy for hours with things that I am just sure HAVE to be done today. In the evenings during my "down time", I can usually be found on the couch watching TV with a pile of mail to go through, calendaring, making to do lists for work the next day, going through the newspaper, surfing the web for new recipes, etc.

I have convinced myself that this is the peril of the working mother - never enough hours in the day, and I must fill them all. Then there is the grand standard of "The Mormon Woman" to measure up to. Surely I must can, bake, sew, cook from scratch, scrapbook, blog, exercise, fulfill my calling, serve others, etc. But let me be clear - I don't say all this for sympathy or pity. There is very big part of me that craves the sense of accomplishment I get in going until I drop. I inherited a very strong work ethic from my parents, and I gain a lot of self- worth in being the person that gets stuff done.

However……. a few months ago, my kids started saying things like "Mom, you never stop working". "Mom, why can't you play a game with us?" "Mom, tomorrow can we do ___", "Mom, I just want to be with you". Probably the most heartbreaking - one of them put on my Mother's Day card "you do a great job of taking us to stores with you". I love my kids more than life itself, yet I have been short changing them. Are these the memories of childhood that I want to create for them – errand running and "quality time" at WinCo?

At the beginning of the summer, I created our Summer List. It was the first step in being more purposeful with my family and our time together. But it has become more than that, out of necessity. I have had to change a bit of who I am, to be who they need me to be. I am learning to be okay with things not finished, I am learning to relinquish control of things to my husband, and there have been days, sometimes more than one in a row, when my planner never makes it out of my work bag once I get home.

The return on my investment obviously has been huge. This is no great "Aha" moment, it's not rocket science, and I haven't patented a new way of thinking. But what I have done is get back to what is THE MOST IMPORTANT thing in my life – my family. We have spent more time playing in the last two months than we have in I don't know how long. We've played card games, (picture a 2 year old playing Uno), had a rousing game of "Monkey in the Middle" in the living room on a rainy day, gone for walks, bike rides, started playing basketball, had water fights, spent many an afternoon on the playground, made trips to the library a weekly ritual, returned to having reading time every night, and watched fireworks from our roof top with popcorn and blankets.

Today we took the kids back to the school for more bike practice. Austin is *this close* to getting his training wheels off, which is a HUGE accomplishment for him. Just a few weeks ago, he would cry at the mention of learning to ride his bike, and was content, literally, to run around the neighborhood behind Jake as he rode his bike. He was deathly afraid of going down any kind of incline, and trembled at the concept of taking off his training wheels. Today, he pedaled as hard as he could down the hill at the school, and when he reached the bottom, exhilarated and out of breath, he looked at me and said "Mom, I think I'm ready to take my training wheels off!".

Not so long ago, I would have missed that. I would have rationalized the house work that needed to be done, and stayed home while Brian took the kids. I would have missed the pride in Austin's eyes, and the joy on his face at having conquered his fear. I would have missed Leah pedaling her little pink and purple Radio Flyer trike all the way to the school by herself, all the while saying "Mom, I can do it!" I would have missed Brian and Jake racing down the hill and around the school yard, whooping with laughter.

Last night when we were doing bedtime reading, Austin kept saying "one more book Mom, please?" And I kept saying "Yes".   I don't plan to stop anytime soon.


Saturday, July 16, 2011

Camp Nee Deep and the Biker Boys

Jake spent the last week at Cub Scout day camp, Camp Nee Deep.  He made new friends, learned new skills, and had a fabulous time! 

 Jacob 1 and Jacob 2 
 Jake's wood robot - the whole thing is connected with zip ties, and if you push the plunger in front, he collapses.

On Friday night we all went back to camp with Jacob to see what he had been up to all week.
(please keep in mind all these pictures were taken while wrangling an unhappy 2 year old on my hip and shooting the camera one-handed)
 The boys
 Jake got several bulls eyes and loves archery
 Austin loves doing anything big brother does
 BB guns and more bulls eyes
 always smiling
 a little help from Dad


Tonight we started working on Austin's bike riding, practicing to get rid of the training wheels. 

 And not to be left out....  She is just so stinking cute!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This Is Love

I look at this mountain
So many heartaches wide
And I can't help but wonder
Where's the other side ?
I've got to be honest
I've got my doubts
These tears are asking me
What's this got to do with love?
Baby, I'll tell you something
To help us through this long, dark night 
When this trouble passes over
You and I will walk away
Knowing that our love survived
Another test of faith
You and I can walk on water
The river rises, we rise above
It may not look that way right now
But trust me, baby...this is love.
Love isn't easy
I'm torn, I confess
When a heart is uncertain
It's bound to second guess
This love won't forsake us
So dry your tears I promise you
I'm here for you baby
There's nothing I want more
Our day is coming
And we'll reach that peaceful shore
When this trouble passes over
You and I will walk away
Knowing that our love survived
Another test of faith
Cause you and I can walk on water
The river rises, we rise above
It may not look that way right now
But trust me, baby....this is love
**Amanda Marshall's "Trust Me (this is love)"

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

For the Love of the Game

Last weekend our big projects were the shop and the garage.  After completely gutting and reorganizing the shop and clearing out the garage, we were able to move the Chevelle out from under the carport, freeing up the basketball "court"!

 Leah makes it a little difficult to play a "real "game, as she stands under the hoop constantly, saying "Pick me up!"
Jacob felt the need to be lifted for a dunk as well, even though he weighs about 60 lbs. 
 Austin's jam and.......
 hang time!
You gotta love the kid's hoops attire. 

Jacob once told me that he "didn't really like sports with balls", but has overnight become obsessed with practicing basketball.  He shoots all the time, trying to perfect his form.  Austin prefers to shoot with a mini sized ball, and Leah just wants whatever ball anyone else has.  Have I mentioned how much I love summer?

Friday, July 1, 2011

June Wrap Up

Jacob (very seriously): "Mom, I don't know what to call my poop... My toots are rockets, my butt is a rocket launcher, my pee is a blaster and my peepee is a blaster turret. I know, I can call my poop BOMBS!"
Austin's phrase of the month: "Oh, come on!"
Leah's phrase of the month: "No, No way."
Schools out* lots of water fights* movie nights* walks to the playground*fishing at the reservoir*fun with Cameron and Peyton*my birthday*Petunia discovering the ocean*SUNSHINE!

Thank you June, hello July!