Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Reading Material


There's this great new blog that just started up. It's one of my new favorites - great writing on topics that matter, with some humor thrown in. I also might be totally in love with author. He might also be my best friend. And the father of my children. Hop on over to his blog and see what all the buzz is about --------> click here!! Do it!

Now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

I love that Jack is now at a stage where he loves to be read to. I'm also thrilled that he likes to read longer stories that actually have a plot and not just "See Spot run" if you know what I'm saying. I grew up loving listening to stories and I hope to instill that tradition in my children.

Which brings me to my main theme - the joy and fun that comes from picking out books at the library! I'm like a kid in a candy store at the library and usually have a huge stack by the time I checkout. However, because I very much judge books by their cover I don't always love the content once I have a chance to read through them. For every 10 books that I get, 6 are decent, 2 are great and 2 are not so good. But this last trip to the library was a total hit and I thought I'd share the several books that I really enjoyed because I never had the chance to be one of the kid reviewers on Reading Rainbow and this is my only avenue to try and fulfill that dream (except I cheated and just used the editor's description of each book instead of writing my own):

Immi's Gift by Karin Littlewood - Immi wishes she had some company out in the cold winter, but hardly anyone ever visits. Then one day a gift appears at the end of Immi's fishing pole. And then another...and another...Bright surprises fill Immi's wintry world with color and magic. And friends. When finally it is time for Immi to leave, she stops by her fishing hole to send out a little magic of her own...Who will receive it?

The Growing Story by Ruth Krauss - A boy and a puppy and some chicks were all very little. From this simple beginning grows a story that celebrates those little changes that tell us we're growing up! This Ruth Krauss classic enchanted young readers when it was first published in 1947. Now it blooms again with lush illustrations by one of the world's best-loved illustrators: Helen Oxenbury.

Subway Story by Julia Sarcone-Roach - Based on the true story of 1960s - era subway cars that are now being used to create artificial reefs in the Atlantic, this train tale will delight parents and kids alike!

Applesauce Season by Eden Ross Lipson - This tender story gives a charming and unusual urban setting to an American family tradition - and includes a recipe so the readers can celebrate their own Applesauce Season. Caldecott Medal winner Mordecai Gerstein's whimsical illustrations are full of the color and hum of the city on the crisp, sunny days of fall.

One Smart Cookie by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - One Smart Cookie offers a fresh batch of words that encompasses everything you might say to a child, whether it's the first day of preschool or the last day of high school. Cookie-centric definitions range from wanting to know everything about cookies to thinking carefully about what kind of cookies to make for your friend.

All these books are winners because of their sweet and lovely content as well as their great illustrations. But in the timeless words of LeVar Burton
"Don't take my word for it!"
(har har har)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Accepting Things.


Why is it so hard to move on? 
Why do we (I) love to dwell on what was and is no more?
 Why have I not yet learned the art of letting go and trusting that

God is sovereign and has my best interests at heart

and is preventing something from progressing any further into my life?

The last several weeks have been particularly painful for me as my heart clings to things that I don't think I'm supposed to hold onto anymore. There's a voice inside that cries, "But I really want this! Please let it be so!" and yet circumstances won't budge. And it's so hard to keep my heart from breaking over not receiving what I'm so certain is good for me.

But then, in a moment of clarity, I remember that God is for me not against me, that He loves me, that He can see the big picture and all I can see is what's in front of me, and in His goodness He says "No" because "No" is the better way.

In acceptance of that "No" there is peace.
It's time to move on from what isn't and move towards what is.

Monday, April 8, 2013

For Jack


Dear Jack,

The first time I heard the song "Meadowlarks" by Fleet Foxes, it made me think of you.
Ever since then I've wanted to make this.

Let me start by saying I recognize the need, on a daily basis, to extend more grace and understanding to you. Many times I find myself being too hard on you and expecting more of you than you are able to give at the tender age of almost-three. In so many ways, you remind me of myself and maybe that's why - because I'm hard on myself too. Everyday, you deserve to hear of the value you hold not only in our family but in this great big world. To know that you are loved and cherished, unique and special.

My sweet little man - always know that you are precious in the eyes of God and worth more than my words could ever express. If I ever fail to say it enough, know that I love you to the depths of my bones and that my heart is held in the palm of your little hands.

Love always,
your Mother

*in case the video doesn't automatically load, here is the link

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Here and Now.

Most days I wake up in a fairly good mood. It really all depends on how late I go to bed and I'm trying to be better about that. In my ideal world, I'd get up well before the boys so that I can exercise, shower and tidy the house by the time they're out of bed - at 7 am. HA! Definitely idealistic. A mother can dream.

Anyways, I do generally start the day off cheerfully. (Upon editing this post I realized this isn't exactly true.... because most days I'm woken up by someone crying, or letting us know he wants his breakfast made, but in a super whiny tone that threatens tears if its not done soon. This results in lots of harsh words and bad attitudes on my part. Not exactly the best way to begin your morning). So let's just say I try to start the day in a positive, optimistic mood: I make them toast with peanut butter and jam (cut into tiny squares for Moses) and do what I can around the house (or the internet, whomp whomp) as they watch a cartoon while they eat. Yeah, that's right. I let my less than 2 year old watch t.v. and I have mom guilt about it, but hey, it is what it is. Right after breakfast I get them dressed and we play a little in their room. But everyday at exactly 10 am I'm almost always drawing a blank on what to do until lunch time. I'm a creative person, but when it comes to children's activities I am seriously challenged. I have zero ideas. At least if it means staying within the confines of our tiny home. I'm too lazy (selfish) to do a craft that requires a ton of prep and clean up. And packing them both up for a day of errands always feels like a lot mentally. Mom of the Year award right here, huh? So anyways, that's when I start to get all - I don't know - agitated. Maybe it comes from feeling frustrated that I don't have a lot of ideas. Or just a general feeling of I "can't" or "don't know how" to make this whole stay at home mom thing fun.

And here's the thing - I really truly like being at home with my boys. It's Hard - with a capital H! - and it's not always exciting, but it's worth it. They're worth it. And they are great little guys. And there is nothing I'd rather be doing with my days then spending it with them. Without a doubt. (Ok, except on those days where I want nothing more than to be alone, but you get my point). And so I find this strange tension within myself - part of me gets annoyed with every little thing they do and ends up resenting my lack of personal freedoms. But the other part of me loves their little personalities and adores their sweet (mostly) innocent hearts and just wants to make life dreamy and happy for them. Guess which side of me wins out most of the time? Yep, a woman I like to call Angry Mom.

I'm working on it, I really am. I'm reading a book and debating giving up sugar - I keep hearing it changes everything. I'm trying to get to bed earlier so that I'm less tired throughout the day. I'm trying to say "No" less and change my tone of voice heart throughout the day to let them know it's me, not them. That is to say - I work on being cheerful, not just sounding cheerful. Oh and please - if you're a mom, don't take my advice. I have no idea what I'm talking about. And the last thing I want to do is add more guilt to your life if you try to say... be cheerful when you're not. And then you fail. And then you think "Why can't I just BE cheerful?" Cuz that's what I do with a lot of well-intentioned mom advice out there - I shovel it on to my steaming pile of stinking mom-guilt. Mom-guilt for the harsh words, raised voice, disengagement, frustration, lack of desire, lashing out etc. etc. Mom-guilt for falling short of being the mom I wish I was. Or better yet, the mom I think I should be.

Is this just my experience ladies?
Something tells me no.

Oh and by the way - if you love being a mom, and cherish every minute you spend with your kids - Amen. I hope you don't feel in the minority either. I met a girl the other day who was nannying for three children. She couldn't have been more than 19 or 20 and I mean - she was out numbered 3:1 (two of them twins). I feel like my hands are full with 2. We had the pleasure of meeting at the turtle exhibit at a local nature center, where one turtle slowly (but clearly urgently, for a turtle) mounted another turtle and...assumed "the" position. It was an awkward moment, to say the least, as our children looked on with puzzled expressions and we sort of nervously giggled and tried to decide where to look so that we weren't just staring at two turtles humping. Anyways, I made small talk and asked how long she'd been nannying and she said she'd been with the family for 8 months and loved it. That she worked 11 hour days and felt like the children were her own and couldn't wait to start a family. I told her how wonderful it was to love what you do, especially when it involves being a caring, positive influence in the lives of children. At 20 years old, I was so very far from ever wanting to watch other people's children as my job, let alone start a family of my own. I was the girl who would run to the other side of the store if I was near a crying child, and if I couldn't get away from them, I'd have to cup my hands over my mouth and breath deeply to keep from freaking out (seriously). Needless to say, I think I've come a long way since then.

Anyways - here's my point: I love my kids to bits and pieces even if they do bring me to the edge of completely melting down every few days (sometimes hours). They are insanely beautiful, sweet, intelligent, thoughtful little people and may I never, ever begin to take their lives for granted. But the thing is... I spend a heck of a lot of time feeling angry rather than grateful. And I sigh with exasperation more than I smile. All I know is, for me, finding joy in motherhood is a slow (very slow) learning process for me. It's a journey and I stop quite frequently to wrestle with it all. It breaks me down, but in the best of ways because I am forever being refined & sanctified along the way. When I let my children minister to my heart, they teach me a thousand things I would never learn without them. If only I would stop to listen more to what their little hearts desired, I think it would sound something like this:

stop being busy
sit down next to me alongside me
be with me

And isn't that we all want, at the end of the day?
To just be together?

From the mouths of babes...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Spring @ Home

Today I'm feeling much better after a bout with the flu and Tim finally returned from the hospital this afternoon. I'm loving that the sun has been out all day to lift our spirits. I can not wait for the warmer temperatures to arrive for good. How it goes from 50 degrees to 35 degrees in 24 hours is beyond me. Nevertheless, spring is officially here and I have had the house decorated accordingly for about two weeks (I couldn't wait!) Here's a little tour:

 It's all about the seasonal mantle.
The vase of flowers on the little table w/ the books was from Tim on a day I was definitely Angry Mom and probably was mean to him and SO didn't deserve them. That's true love, folks.
Here's a closer look at everything else:

I used the three white mug idea for my winter mantle and I think they'll be a mainstay. I knew I wanted little "sprouts" in the mug, but was a bit of a challenge trying to come up with a way to execute that. In the end I filled them with lentils ("soil") and used the leaves from some artificial flowers I wasn't using to create the sprouts. It's not perfect, but it works.

My friend Cherish and I went on a spring-mantle-display-hunt and we both picked out the artichoke tea light holder. The vase with split pea filler was a Pinterest idea and we used those faux candles instead of real ones. They last longer. The picture is of my Grandpa taking a nap on his honeymoon in England. I cherish it.

I love the smell of both these candles. Especially the yellow one - it makes the apartment smell like lemons! I've been wanting a little birdhouse for a long time and decided to paint it myself.

These windows are on either side of the fireplace. I think the three little white candles will be another mainstay. I added some lemons to cheer it up.

The End.
Lots of (faux) flowers and bright yellows to cheer this place up.

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