Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Mother's Secret Ballad

I'm tired. I'm so tired even when I'm not. I'm tired of being inadequate. Everywhere I turn I am failing something. If I am on top of the homework and school projects, I am neglecting properly brushing their teeth consistently every night. Perhaps I am keeping my tongue better and not yelling, but I haven't made music lessons a priority. My children don't listen the first time they are told to do something. I am letting bad attitudes slip by without addressing them. Thing One's spelling is atrocious. I need speech therapy for Thing Three. I need to find the telephone number to the lady who did Thing One's last assessment, because I haven't received a call back for his next autism assessment. The floor hasn't been swept all week, and the children aren't being diligent with their chores. My kids aren't memorizing Bible scripture or learning instruments. They have to be threatened with punishment to apologize. The back door has fingerprints on it. I haven't shaved my legs since Saturday and I ran only once in the last 3 months or so. We haven't eaten any veggies today. My son has three more pages of homework that will take 3 hours to get through with him. The ironing pile is really, really big. The mending is waiting, too. My seedlings in the garden are almost all dead. I can't grow plants to save my life. The car is often shamefully in need of a vacuum, and the leftovers in the fridge started to qualify as a form of life two weeks ago. The sheets need to be changed, again, even though I just changed them two days ago.

Getting the picture? It all boils down to one word: Guilt. As a mom, we know intellectually that we can't do it all, but we still only see the things that are slipping through the cracks. Everyone has expectations of us. Our spouses, children, our child's teacher, our spiritual beliefs, the dentist, our parents.. the list goes on and on. We simply can't fulfill all expectations that are placed on us by others and ourselves. Life overwhelms at times, but we must simply take a breath, clean up the accidents, and go back to folding the laundry.

 Hopefully during those times we can remember that we are the ones who teach our children how to smile. A hug, a quiet story time, is worth the piles of laundry that won't make it in the drawers tonight. We are not alone. Every mom faces her own Mount Everest, and they take many forms. The slopes are steep, but we won't prevail unless we keep taking those small steps up. There is no summit, no completion, no moment in this life where we can look down and sigh, seeing that all is finished. What matters is not the destination, but the things we learn along the way; the summits of each of our mountains are not in having an empty to-do list, but in mastering ourselves. Don't forget to stop, look up from the snow, and look back on what you have accomplished. In looking only down at the next step, we forget to enjoy the scenery. Have you ever taken a moment to reflect and been surprised at how much progress has been made? Without those moments, we would lose the motivation to continue slogging ahead.

So remember: You are making progress. You may not be where you want. I don't think any of us ever will be where we want to be in our lives, otherwise we would stop improving. Keep pushing, we are there right alongside you. Have realistic expectations for yourself and your family. The long-term rewards come not from always having a perfect house, but from having happy and healthy children with Godly character. Make that your first priority.

Happy climbing!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Potty is as Potty does

Why is he looking up, anyway?
The Many Stages of Potty Training.

1. "Huh?  What's going on!?"  Sometimes, they're even alarmed at what actually happens down south, like my no. 3.
THAT'S what's happening down there!!??

2. Denial.  This is where you find them digging out a diaper while standing in their own...  well, yeah.

"Huh.  Look at that."

3.  "What!?  You went AGAIN!?"  This is the tough part.  This is the part where you haven't quite figured out how often your kid actually goes, and so you just keep finding new opportunities to mop and scrub and do laundry.  The kid still has no idea they've even gone.

You will need ALL of these machines... simultaneously.

4.  "Hey, honey, want to watch TV... on your potty?"  Out of frustration and a rapidly diminishing supply of laundry detergent and all-purpose spray cleaner, you sit the kid on the potty for as long as you can without them losing circulation in their legs.  Or at least without losing their legs.  They eventually go, and you are effusive in your praise and bribery.  

ALL of this is yours for the low, low price of a poop in the potty!
With my firstborn I was so happy after the months of struggle over #2 that I bought him a FIRE TRUCK.

OK maybe not this one.  But it did have lights and make noise.

This leads to the next stage which is the best one...

5.  Ding!  The light goes on!  They make the connection between elimination and your favorite form of bribery (yes you'll end up there eventually!) and will actually MAKE themselves go when put on the potty.  YAY!  You are no longer a slave to the potty and can go on carefully planned outings with a huge... well, a huge diaper bag of extra clothes and stuff.  But still!  You are kind of free!  Sure, they won't actually take themselves to the potty, but as long as you remember....

6.  The coveted connection.  The child finally makes the connection between NEEDING to go and the action of taking THEMSELVES to the potty.  Otherwise, you are the one who is potty trained, kind of like those snotty "potty train your baby" people.  "Elimination Communication" sounds like something someone is rapping but it's real, and usually it accompanies a nice feeling of self-importance for the parents, too.  I'm not biased, or anything though. ;)

So we aren't to number 6 yet, (can you tell?) but we are making progress!  Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Child Labor Laws

I'm so excited to finally be entering that fun stage of motherhood--kind of like a secret club!

Yes, my firstborn is finally at the age where he can actually help me when he endeavors to help me!

It's awesome.  I'm starting out with little things.  No longer am I the envious mom on the outside who watches in total surprise as my other mom-friends nonchalantly ask their oldest to do complicated tasks like serve food to younger siblings, help out in the car, or even--now I haven't quite made it here yet, clean the kitchen.  Yes.  It is true.  Some kids actually help their moms with complex tasks that involve breakable items!

Now, my kids have their own chores, but I try to limit them to stuff that actually ends up being helpful instead of stuff that will take 5 times as long for them to do and result in frustration for both of us.  For my six year-old, I stole the chore idea of wiping down the sink and toilet with Lysol wipes and emptying the bathroom trash from one of my mom-friends.
Go figure, he loves to do it, and I love not having toothpaste caked to the sink daily.  It's win-win.

My four year-old is another story-- her one chore required of her daily is just to clean up after herself in the toys department, and that doesn't come about without lots of whining and complaining about phantom leg maladies and crippling fatigue.  It's a work in progress.

But the real corner was turned this week-- I realized that, in my big new Expedition Beast, where I have to climb in the backseat to reach the 3 year-old's seatbelt-- I can have him buckle and unbuckle her.  This was a major revelation.  This morning I hopped into the front seat and marveled.  No climbing into the back??  No twisting my clothes all around whilst hanging halfway over seats?  No bruises from contorting my body in ways it's not supposed to go??  Not even hitting my head on the ceiling, messing up my hair and breaking my sunglasses!!  I just couldn't believe how wonderful that felt.

So as I ruminate on my new ease of existence, I think greedily back to the mother of all kid-chores... the kitchen...

*Choir singing, light shining from heaven*

Perhaps someday soon.....

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Kid quotes

Here's a collection of some of the fun things my kids have said that I actually remembered to write down.

Adrian: Mom, are there allergies in this pillow?
Me: Uh... what ARE allergies?
Adrian: The stuff inside rice, that you cook it and it makes rice!
Me: Uhhh, no.
Adrian, while playing with a pillow stuffed with the white squishy beads.

“The Bad Queen drank too much water, [....] and turned into a new lady!”
—Adrian, Describing the movie 'Snow White'

Becca: Remember the bad lady dropped her sippy cup?
--About the evil queen in Snow White

“Hey, Daddy, this makes me get a beard on my chest, like you!”
—Adrian, after getting caught sneaking a drink of Daddy's beer.

“Look, Mommy! There's a big Black Squidow crawling on the rocks!”

Adrian:  “Emma needs to drink some juice because she's compontided!" 
Me:       "Constipated??" 
Adrian:  "Yeah!”

“But I don't WANT to get tired!!”
—Adrian, sobbing, after being told that he was obviously getting tired.

“I want to eat some vegetables so they can grow me up.”
“For (In) ten minutes I will be a Jedi because I am not a big boy yet.”

“Bow to me! I will never bow to you! I will broke you into pieces! ”
—Adrian, Acting out a scene from Star Wars.

“..and thank you for Darth Vader killing good guys...”
—Adrian, During his bedtime prayers.

“NO! He's NOT a bad guy! He doesn't have a gun!”
—Adrian, Sharing his thoughts on our creepy neighbor during a stranger danger talk.

“My Mommy says I can't talk to you because you're a bad guy!”
—Adrian, yelled to our slightly creepy neighbor soon after a "stranger danger" talk

“Baby Emma cries, and poops, and it's gross.”
—Adrian, laughingly telling folks at church about his new sister.

“My stomach hurts! See? (opens mouth)”

“You wanna piece of meat?!?”
—Adrian, Adrian, challenging us in a roughhousing game, instead of "you wanna piece of me??"

Does she have ants on her?Adrian, after hearing me call Emma "antsy"
You finished your dinner!! Good MAN!Becca, To Daddy, instead of "good boy"

Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Long and Short of Sales

So the process of moving begins! We are in 60-day escrow, I feel like I can let a breath out that it's actually happening! We first began pursuing a short-sale before the beginning of 2011. At first the realtor wouldn't even talk to us without us being late on our payments. My husband insisted, and after hearing him out, he agreed to give it a go. Well, as September approaches the process nears its end!

I can't help but be amazed-- we had such an outpouring of love and support from our extended "family" from all over the country. I was constantly surprised at how many people would come up and ask me how the sale was going, that they were praying for our situation daily, and voice their support. It was really humbling, and we're thankful beyond words for the daily sacrifice of prayers on our behalf.

My husband had all sorts of people that told him he was crazy, and I'll admit that I was completely unconvinced that it was the best way to go. He stuck to his guns, and endured the criticism of those he worked with, and God answered prayers in a dramatic way. The realtor said he had never seen a bank accept a short sale bid under our circumstances, and on top of it not ask for a thing from us.

"The one who makes a promise and does not break it, even though he is hurt by it. [...] He who does these things will never be shaken."

Psalm 15:4-5

The biggest lesson for me! Do what you have promised, follow through in a blameless way; lean on God, He will take care of the rest of it. I didn't have the patience or faith to do this when we started this process. We are all being refined, slowly.


I am determined to be organized during our move, this time.  We lived out of storage for a few months over 3 years ago, and I can tell you, my lack of organization caused a LOT of wasted time and money.  This time we will have our boxes numbered, a corresponding detailed inventory, room-based color coding, and will prioritize how we put things into storage.  We'll be staying with family through the end of the year to save some money, so most of our belongings will go into storage, and it'll be kind of like we're camping, in the sense that we'll have only the necessities with us.  Simplicity will make all the difference, I think...

Whatever happens or wherever we end up, we will have renewed faith that God will take care of us, and is there to call upon for help.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I built a bed!

Here we go!  I have completed the project, and even remembered to take step-by-step photos!  I built a queen-sized bed, and have shown you how to do it, too!

I start my cut on a carefully marked line on each side of the 4x4 before cutting through the center.

"Why, yes, I do own weights.  I even use them!"

After much sawing, and a blister or two, I have all the 4x4's notched for support of the frame.

Sniff!  She follows in my footsteps.

The raw materials-- the 2x10's and 2x4's cut by a power saw operator at Lowes.  Fast and accurate!

I set up the frame to get started.

The frame is secured by 3: 2 1/2 inch wood screws.

Carefully, I balanced the frame on the 4x4 posts.

Balancing precariously on the 4x4's; holes were pre-drilled.

5" bolts hold the 4x4 to the frame.  Had a slight miscalculation on that hole location.   Oops.

Joist hangers support the 2x4s.

The 2x4 slides in nicely, and can be removed for easy moving.

The 2x4's offer cross support.  Slotted angles offer extra support on head and foot ends.
 Since I am using the 2x4s upright, instead of lying flat, they are stronger and do not need a center support.
Time for the 3/4" under-layment.  Hubby helps with the heavy lifting :)
My hubby was so excited he got me a gift. <3

Adding finish...

Finished product, curing.  I haven't put the mattress on yet, as the instructions said "3 days until normal use."  Sigh.

Storage space!  Beautiful storage!

Mattress added. :)

Hope this was helpful or interesting to you!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Cakes of Birthdays Past

So if birthday cakes bore you to tears then you may want to skip this post!  Here are the cakes I have made in years past: