Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Wonder of it all.

We're turning a corner as we're nearing a full year since we moved away for Mark's job. It hasn't been easy, and at times we both, along with our kids, have experienced the loneliness and isolation that being in a new, rural area brings. It sounds cliche, but through being alone with our little family we've learned a lot about appreciation, what makes us happy, and what we really want. Indeed, of the several new locations to which we've moved, this one has been the most challenging.

And with the transition to a new geography, we had a baby along the way. Michael is a blessing beyond words. I wrote about our second son, Paul, that having him didn't teach me to be a mother as it did the first time around, but helped me to embrace and love the sacrifice and joy that our days bring.

Having a single word like "embrace" and "teach" encompassed the first two children, and if I had to pick a word for the third, it would be a toss-up between "wonderment" and "freeze." Freeze, because I want time to stand still, I want to hold my growing baby as a newborn. I don't want him to start solids so soon, I don't want him to crawl away from me or cut a tooth. It's just happening too quickly.

And wonderment. What can I say? I started this post sharing the challenge of our past year. Then today I watched as my little one reached to grab a toy hanging over his head. It's so hard! He grabbed it, pulled it down and quickly put it in his mouth. The big boys were so excited, "Look, Mom! Look what Michael did!" We were so happy, and yet, it was such a simple thing. Still we marveled at how this baby is growing day by day, and the smallest of milestones brings us all wonderment as this very loved child gives us a greater perspective on the joys that every day can bring.

Cliche or not, I can't recall rejoicing when my first two reached for a toy and held it in their hand. Lesson learned. If the obstacles we've faced in the last year taught us anything, it was to appreciate the Wonder of it all. It's been worth it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Catching up.

I think our summer is just about over.

We've been gone from the house for several days; enjoyed the big city, met up with old friends, had a little vacation from the big boys, and topped it all off with a wedding, followed by a lot of fun in the water.

Now we're home, but who knows for how long!

For today we're catching up, returning phone calls, sorting laundry, and staying in our jammies until we can get things back together again.

Back to blogging soon. 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kids These Days.

This morning while checking my email and the news, I glanced at our old hometown newspaper. There was a guest column (editorial, really) written by my old band teacher about kids these days. I have to admit that I did roll my eyes a bit at the doom and gloom. After all, I thought, I know lots and lots of great parents and wonderful kids. And, if said kids aren't behaving perfectly, as children cannot be expected to do, the parents are quick to acknowledge it, correct it, and humbly apologize.

It got me thinking. My kids aren't perfect, but they are nice.  They aren't mean to each other, and especially not to anyone else. They just don't think of it.  But, I am finding that the more we venture out to parks and playgrounds and the less we pick our own playdates (which we have done almost exclusively) that we will, inevitably, run into mean kids.

My heart breaks when I hear that other parents' five year olds are called "fat" and "ugly" at school, and I am dumbfounded when parents at the playground don't seem to care when their own kids are pushing, shoving and teasing.

If you read the article linked, you might get the same impression as me, that maybe it's not the kids who have changed, but the parents.  When the author writes about misbehaving kids, it seems he is more inflamed with the parents' reaction to it than anything. That, while home-to-school used to be a collaboration, now one is pitted against the other.

This article made me a bit sad, honestly. Because after 35 years of teaching, the misbehavior of students has overshadowed the talents and character of other students. I can't guarantee that my children won't ever have a problem in school, but I can write definitively that the parents of the children I know are just as appalled and upset as the teachers. Except, it's their kids who are getting neglected in the classrooms, getting bullied on the bus, and being teased for simply being a kind person. 

Here's to fighting the good fight!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


"Front Feet, Back Feet, Red Feet Black Feet," 
(The Foot Book, by Dr Seuss)

This week I forked over a boatload on shoes.

Not for me, for the kids. For us, it's a bit like "Fat feet, thin feet, wide feet, flat feet," because for the first time I spent way more money than I'm used to buying shoes from Stride Rite.

Luke is flat-footed for the time being, and now he is starting to walk on his toes. Paul always cries when we put shoes on him, and takes his shoes off whenever he gets the chance. They both have wide (tall is more accurate) feet and seem to be really bothered by their shoes lately. I've always been able to squeeze their feet into at least one pair of shoes from Kohl's or Target, but now I'm trying a different approach to see if a high-quality pair of sneakers will make a difference.

My boys typically aren't picky about clothing or shoes, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that our new shoes are money well spent. If anyone has their own suggestions on stable, supportive, wide-width footwear, I'm all ears....and feet.

Monday, August 15, 2011


Michael is 4 months old! He is the sweetest, chubbiest, most delightful little baby ever. He sucks his thumb, loves his two older brothers, and loves to giggle and be tickled. Indeed, this little one is bound to get spoiled with how much his parents and brothers dote on him. 

And may I add that this one looks A LOT like his oldest brother, Luke, at the same age. Wow!
Luke @4 months

Oh my.

We were going to be thankful for having a quiet, restful weekend at home. We were going to relax, get some work done, and not pack a suitcase for the first weekend in a long time.

Did it happen?

Not quite.

But, we are still very, very thankful.


Because Luke's grandpa is a surgeon.

Thanks, Poppy!

Friday, August 12, 2011


Did any of you, after moving to your first place on your own, ever come to the realization that you "had arrived." You know, like realizing that after three days with the same dirty dishes in the sink that the someone who was going to have to wash them was you? That the piles of laundry growing up in weren't, in fact, folded by the Folding Fairy, but by someone who had a vested interest in the maintenance of the home?

I've had many such moments in the past six years, some of them were rough; others laughable. Then, after a while, they didn't even phase me. Growing up, when your mother diligently cleaned the dog vomit off of the carpet, or the dirty diaper that the baby managed to smear all over the crib, it's not that she was particularly fond of doing these tasks, but that she was so accustomed to doing such things that not much phased her by then.

Truly, I am convinced that in the "arrived" category, that after six years, I cannot be shocked. Yes, I cried the first time I had to nurse a baby while sick in the bathroom, but by the time I two kids and was sick while nursing in the bathroom, instead of crying, I was just thankful that the three year old was keeping himself busy by racing his cars on the bathroom floor.

I think back to college when I would get irritated that I was spending my money on things like deodorant and toothpaste instead of new shoes. Today I'd much rather spend money on those things than water softener pellets or toilet cleaner.

Growing up is tough stuff. And really, as much as a person might be prepared for it, the shocking realization that you have a lot to care of besides yourself inevitably makes a person either grow up, or stop trying.

So, on this Friday, here's to Moms! If you have letter magnets on your fridge and a Blue's Clues bath mat on your bathtub, I salute you! If you're digging peanut butter out of the cracks in the kitchen table and scraping dried oatmeal off the walls, I salute you! If you do laundry every stinkin' day of the week, I salute you!

If you have nursed a baby in the bathroom, at a truck stop, or in a bar, I salute you!

We have arrived.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Minnesota Bound.

My apologies for not being able to embed this video, but the site just won't let me!

Anyway, this is a short feature about the town I'm from (and maybe some of you are from, too :-) ). With the recent addition of paved trails and a new mountain biking destination, this small town is putting itself on the map.

It wasn't until I went to college out of state that I realized what a treasure it was to grow up in such a geographically beautiful area. I was almost shocked to realize that most people didn't drive by lakes everyday, swim and boat all summer, and have a cool lake breeze to ease even the hottest of summer days.

Now, a few hours away from our hometown, I appreciate even more the serenity of the area.


Hey all.

I'm wearing a belt today.

No kidding.

It's been over a year, so I'm kinda having a party in my head.

That is all.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Things I Love: Organizational Tools

I want to share an organizational tool that I've implemented in the past few months that has helped our household out tremendously. Not being able to find what I needed out of a traditional daily planner, I sought out to create my own. With weekly calendar fill pages, loose-leafed paper, sheet covers and colored tabs, I've been able to use a durable, and functional planner. 
 My planner functions include: to do lists, grocery lists, long and short term goals, a collection of funny things the children have said that I need to write down somewhere before I forget, books I want to buy, things for the house I want to buy, meal planning, and on and on and on.
 I have tabs in here for different topics, i.e Household, Read-Alouds. If I'm looking through Pottery Barn Kids and see a great idea I'd like to implement for less money, I can tear it out, put it in a plastic sleeve, and keep it safely in my folder until the day comes for a project. If I'm reading a blog and someone is using books I'd like to check out for myself, I have a tab for that, too! I have multiple online tutorials for sewing, knitting, and preserving food that I've printed out and keep in my notebook for reference.
When it comes to picking out books at the library, while it may seem to be taking things a step too far, I find that have a rough "plan" for each week saves a lot of time. Sometimes the topics are narrow, such as Apples and Komodo Dragons, and other weeks they might be broad, like the seasons or farms. Having a topic to hone in on gives a little direction whilst surrounded by shelves of books. Book planning, and book requesting through the library is now a near-perfected system with my notebook. With weekly topics selected until Christmas, the boys and I are looking forward to learning more about Stealth Bombers and Tamarins, just to name a couple. 

Sometimes life when the kids are little can seem so chaotic. Having a simple but maintainable system for organizing can help keep the peace (at least in my head ;-)  ). 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is This Thing On? (A Fictitious Epidemic??)

This video is 11 minutes long, but I really encourage anyone with children to watch it and think about the points being made. It is about the education system's model, and our rapidly changing world. As the mother of three sons, two of whom are extremely busy/fidgety, the education conversation and how to teach bright children without killing their inquisitiveness is something of a passion of mine, as well as many others.

I have so, so much I want to say about this topic, but I might save it for a different post.

Please, I'd love to know your thoughts on these ideas.

Thursday, August 4, 2011



"Mom, did you know that some paleontologists have wives?"

"Mom, can I have Michael for my very own?"

"Mom, my wife is going to be more beautiful than you, and more beautiful than Paul's wife, too." 

"Mom, I wish that all kids and adults could do whatever they wanted all the time." 
"What would you wish to do, Luke?"
"I would eat treats all day long. And I would never get fat."

Have a nice day, everyone.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guilty Pleasures.

The kids were losing it. I have this love/hate relationship with the Science Center in our town. While I love the corn snakes, red-tailed turtles, tilapia tank, and bubble machine, there is a short threshold of excitement that the children can handle, and after spending so much time there, all at once they all need to use the bathroom, are hungry, want a drink, need to nurse, and are asking for something from the gift shop.

Time to go!

With two out of the three screaming, and me pushing the stroller carrying a diaper bag, along with the baby strapped into his Ergo, we dragged ourselves out the door. Having snagged a primo downtown parking spot, I started the process of getting each child situated in their seat and buckled, as well as dismantling the stroller.

A car pulled up next to mine with music blaring, just waiting to take my prized parking spot. Getting two carseats strapped, a booster buckled, and a stroller in the trunk on one's own is quite the task. I could hear the teenagers in the car grumbling about how long I was taking.

Once I backed out of the parking space the car behind me whipped in to take it. Glancing back as I moved the car out of reverse, I read the other car's rear window, plastered in Graduation 2011 car graffiti.

Bright red letters across the back read: "I am cooler then you." 

Good thing, I thought to myself. I wonder if he's cooler than his English teacher, too?

I think I got the last laugh. Hee Hee.