Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bring it on, Summer

Summer is gonna be busy.  I can already tell.

We were up late last night, and Abigail (aka the family alarm clock) actually slept in- until 6:15! What a treat! :) We got up, and came down to find some first-day-of-summer presents- new beach towels and goggles, and a new cute play tent!  And a bit of candy, of course!

 They spent a while exploring the tent and all the stuff, then we ate breakfast and got going on our new routine.  They got dressed and cleaned up while I worked on dishes and laundry.  They each picked an extra job, and actually did it without complaint.  We learned a little Spanish, and did a page in our handwriting books, then Abigail turned in a TV ticket, and set up the portable movie player inside the tent, where they all camped out to eat snack and watch a movie.
 All of this happened before 9:30 am.  At 9:30, we loaded in the car for swimming lessons, then back home for lunch (in the tent) and some relaxing time (in the tent). 
 This afternoon we will do some reading and math, and then we are headed back to the pool (just can't get enough).  Work hard, play hard!
I'm gonna be worn out by next week.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Work Hard... Play Hard!

The poster is finished- now summer can begin! 
I must have gotten this from my mother.  She always had the best charts and posters to make work fun. 

Our Summertime motto- Work Hard, Play Hard, and don't bug people!  I am going to expect a lot of work out of these little ones, but we are also going to do a lot of fun stuff as well.  I figure if we are all kept busy, there won't be as much time to drive each other crazy!

Starting with work- every day they each need to get dressed, brush their teeth, and make their bed.  I know, I'm a slave driver.  :)  They also have a "weekly" list- 4 jobs that need to be done each week.  They can do them all in one day or space them out, but it will need to be done by Friday (or else).  These lists are each different, and I will rotate them each week.

This section gives is our calendar/schedule, so they know which days we have swim lessons, what day we will go to the museum, and what school subjects we will be working on.  I also wrote things like baths, ice cream day, etc.  2 checkboxes on the side- one for behavior (5 days of no screaming fits means they participate in ice cream day), and one for school work (5 days of getting work done will earn a family movie night).

At the bottom I will attach a reward chart.  When I catch them doing something nice or extra good, they can click off a box- 10 boxes will mean a trip to the treasure box or a playdate with a friend.  Also there is a place for the TV tickets. 

I am ready for summer!  Bring it on!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Summer Reading

One of my plans for this summer includes the kids getting some good reading time in.  I've been looking at the summer reading programs, and they really aren't all that exciting.

So, I did what I do- I'm making my own!  And anyone who wants to join me is more than welcome!  In fact, for it to work well, I will need other people, so please join in!

Here is how it works: 
-The parent works with the child to set a reading goal.  It also might be nice to establish some sort of award to give them if they reach their goal, but that will be up to each individual parent.
-Once a month over the summer, we will have a "Lunch and Library Party" where we meet at a nearby park for lunch, then head over the the library to get a fresh supply of books. 
-At the end of summer, we will have a big party to celebrate our summer reading, maybe have each of the kids talk about one of their favorite books.

Email me at momto3under2(at)gmail.com for the dates/locations/etc. 

The goal for my kids will be 70 min/week which works out to 10 min/ day.  Most things I read recommend 20/day for Abigail's age, and 15 for Jack and Aidan.  However, I want this to be a goal that we can all REACH, and accomplish.  All of my darlings still require active help and listening while they read, so that is 30 min/day of me listening to s-s-s-s-s-u-u-u-u-n-, s-u-n, sun to get each and every word out.  There is no way I will stick with it if I have to do that for an hour a day!  Plus with vacations and Saturdays and all the other things we have going on this summer, I think that is a reasonable and achievable goal for us.

Our reward will be:  $10 that they can do whatever they want with.  I'm also going to give them the option of earning an extra 25 cents for every 10 min they read over their goal, so they will be able to earn as much money as they want.  I'm hoping to see Abigail take the plunge and get into reading.  She LOVES books, and is a fairly competant reader, but she hates to read.  She much prefers me to read to her, so I'm hoping she can figure it out enough to start enjoying it.  Jack and Aidan like to read, and are actually pretty good for their age- I just need to work with them to develop their skill and mastery of words.


Kydon picked a name out of a bowl for the CF giveaway-


I will get you your apron a little later today!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

What is it with me and the park?

Yesterday was beautiful.  The kind of day that is warm but not hot, cool breeze but not cold.  Perfect and sunny and beautiful.  I should know that this is a recipe for me to get in fights with other parents.  I should have stayed home and minded my own business.  But I didn't.  I took two cute boys to the park, I sat in my chair and called my sister on the phone, and let them play.

Is that where I broke the helicopter Mommy rule?  Just watching and sitting and letting myself enjoy a conversations and not micromanaging the park play?  I really need someone to explain these rules to me, because they certainly don't come naturally. 

I saw Jack playing with 2 boys that looked to be about his age.  There was a little girl following them around.  No big deal (to me, anyway- I just don't get all the rules).  They came back to the playground, the girl went to her mommy, and then the mommy approached Jack.  I was watching, but still not doing anything.  I heard her getting onto Jack about something, and I heard him saying "It wasn't me, it was him" and pointing to the other boy.  The 3rd boy also pointed to the same boy and said "yeah, it was him".  This still wasn't a big deal to me.  I had no doubt that Jack was involved in some way, and I'm sure the other boys were involved as well.  If Jack did something to her daughter, she is well within her rights to get onto him for it, and he should apologize.  The end.

Except, this mommy was way more worked up than I realized!  She asked Jack where his mommy was, then made a beeline for me with her daughter in tow.  She starts yelling at me that Jack put dirt in her daughters hair.  Okay, that isn't nice.  He shouldn't have done that.  I instructed Jack to apologize, which he did, and then I was done.  But she wasn't. 

How is she ever going to get DIRT out of hair?  She has DIRT in her HAIR!  It is IN her HAIR! 

Apparently I am all that is wrong with the world today, and Jack is destined to be a criminal.  And I really should raise him better than that and she can't believe a boy would do such a thing.  And on and on.  I mean, there was DIRT in the hair!

I just sat there, watching, and listening.  I really was trying to figure out why she was so upset.  I considered telling her that the dirt will come out with a bath and shampoo, but I thought it would only make her madder.  I didn't say anything, except a very short and simple "sorry" (which is all I felt the situation warranted, but apparently wasn't enough).  She finally finished, and with a huff loaded her daughter in the car.  Then she called to the two other boys, and they jumped in the car and all left.

OH!  Those were HER boys!  No wonder she didn't believe it when one was accused of doing the *dirty* deed!  (pun intended)  After she left, I looked at Jack.  He was staring at me in wide-eyed disbelief.  I said, "Jack, you shouldn't put dirt in people's hair".  He turned around, showing me the back of his head, and said "Mommy, they did it to me first!"  His hair was CAKED with dirt and tiny rocks.

I did what any annoying parent would do.  I laughed, and told him we would give him a bath when we got home.

Then I drove to get Abigail from her friends house where she had been playing.  I took one look at her, and laughed again- they had been playing (outside!) in the (messy!) dirt!  She was covered in dirt and dust from the top of her mangy head to her clothes, hands, shoes and feet.  I took one look at her and said "looks like you need a bath too". 

I'm going to give the mom the benefit of the doubt.  She must have had a really bad day.  Maybe she was in a fight with her husband, or just lost someone she loves.  Maybe she was overwhelmed with motherhood and one more bath put her over the edge (I've been there myself).  I've seen her at the park before, and if I see her again, I'm just going to smile and wave.  I know that other people find me annoying at the park, but this time I'm not taking it personally.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Open Adoption Top 10

Top Ten Reasons I love having an open adoption:
  1. I love that my kids know where they came from... know *who* they came from.  They don't have to wonder!  They don't have to make something up!
  2. I love that I have a connection to amazing people that I wouldn't otherwise know.  I love that I can genuinely tell my kids that I love their birthfamily.
  3. I love that when we visit, it naturally forces them to rethink adoption and how everyone fits into the story.  Each year there is new understanding and growth.  (I didn't really love Aidan telling me I am like his babysitter, but I do like that we had the opportunity to correct that misunderstanding!)
  4. I love that even when there is sadness, they can process that grief in small chunks at ages when they still allow me to cuddle them in my lap and smother them with kisses.
  5. I love taking a vacation to North Carolina every year!
  6. I love that they will know where they got their curly hair and blue eyes.  I remember when we were waiting for our first baby, someone asked where my curls came from.  As I was answering, I felt so sad that my child might not be able to answer such a simple, innocent question.  I love that with our openness, they can easily answer.
  7. I love seeing the joy in the birthfamily when they see what cute little pumpkins we have!  And they don't mind at all when we brag about them and talk about every little cute thing they do!
  8. I love that maintaining our connection has promoted healing on every side- theirs, ours, and the kids.
  9. I love that every time we visit, I learn useful information, like everyone in their family is small as a young child, so I shouldn't worry about Jack.  Or they all had to go to speech therapy, so it isn't a big surprise that Jack and Aidan have to go as well.
  10. I love that they make my children feel loved and wanted.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Giveaway for CF! Help Peter!

 Last year we participated in a walk to help raise money for Cystic Fibrosis.  This year, the walk falls on a day where we can't walk.  But we still want to help! 
Especially for this guy- Peter will be dealing with Cystic Fibrosis for his whole life!  Hopefully, with our help, his life can be a little easier and a lot longer! 

I am going to donate to Peters team- every little bit helps!  And, since I can't walk this year, I want to do something else to help!  So I'm giving away a cute little apron that I made the other night!

 You know you want it!
There are two ways to enter the giveaway:
1- Post a link to Peter's donation page on Facebook or your blog and encourage others to help this cause!
2- Make a donation to Peter's team!

Once you have done either or both of these things, come back to this post and leave a comment- one comment for each entry.  I will pick a winner the day of the walk- Saturday May 21st.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

She worked up the courage!

I've been trying to get Abigail to get her ears pierced for a couple of years now.  Despite my cajoling, she has steadily maintained that she didn't want them pierced.  (Quite ironic, since I spent years begging my mom to let me get mine done, then I had to beg my daughter as well!)

When we were in Utah over Spring Break, I brought it up once again, and she agreed!  We were in a mall, so we went straight to the little shop.  After looking at the choices for a minute, she changed her mind and we left.  A little while later, she changed her mind back- she was really ready this time!  Only, before we made it back to the store, we remembered that she couldn't wear earrings at the soccer games... so we gave up on the idea until the end of soccer season.

Well, the last game was last Saturday, and that morning she asked if she could get them done!  I said... YES!  :)

So, just a few hours after the final game, we were in the mall, working up her nerve to follow through.

 Having a friend nearby helps with the nerves!  The store was SO crowded- we had to wait for 3 other people who were ahead of us, and there was a long line when we left.  It might have been better to wait for a slower day, but I figured I better strike while she was willing, otherwise I might have to wait another 2 years!
 The teeny accessory store was totally fun for the two boys who came to watch.  All sorts of things to try on and check out!
 As the time to pierce got closer, Abigail got calm, but Aidan started getting super nervous!  He kept giggling and jumping and telling me his tummy felt funny!  I thought it was so funny that he was more nervous than she was!
 When the girl right before her didn't flinch and claimed it didn't hurt, that was all she needed- she was ready to go!
They cleaned the ears and made the dots- then erased them and made them again.  I don't know if I had realized before, but she has perfect ear lobes!  Just a little bit hanging down without being too much, and not stuck straight to her head like mine are.
 And before we knew it, we were done!  Two new holes in her head and little sparkly flowers to show off to everyone.
"And it didn't even hurt- not a bit"

Monday, May 9, 2011

Crafty Craft Night

For a while I've been thinking it would be fun to have a craft night with friends- I love to sew, but it is sometimes a bit lonely, especially now that the kids are in school and I don't do playdates like I used to!  So I gathered some friends (okay, 2 of them were my sisters, and therefore required to be my friend), and we made aprons!
 One of them brought this darling baby- and I was able to get a crying picture!  I love crying pictures of babies!  :) 
 We each brought our own fabric, and then cut and sewed them all together!  It was fun and we had some great conversations!  And since my friend Katie lives way too far away to come, I used her recipe for caramel brownies which we ate with pleasure!
 Melinda in her finished project- she gave this one to her Mother in Law for Mothers' Day, and she made another one for her own mom (who is my mom too, ha!)
 Here we are with our machines all set up.  It was "sew" fun!  Although I did learn that I am not so good with the sewing and talking at the same time- I had to do a ton of unpicking and kept doing things in the wrong order!
 But eventually I finished and worked through all the frustrations!
The last two to finish- Sarah and Christa.  They left sometime after Midnight!  I wish that everyone could have finished that night.  It was a blast, and I can't wait to do it again next month!

The celebration lasted at least a week!

Jack and Aidan had a fabulous birthday celebration!  It lasted at least a week- the good times just kept on comin'!  Their birthday was on a Sunday, so we started the celebrating on Saturday, with a trip to Stone Mountain.  Wouldn't you know it, it happened to be "Frontier Days" at the park,  full of history, cannons, and various guns and war displays.

 It was as if it was custom designed for my history-loving little war mongers.  They could not have asked for anthing better!
 We also got a little climbing in- Jack made it to the top for the first time!
 Aidan wanted to make it to the top, but got confused by the hand holds.  He will get up next time! We stayed late and watched the laser show- it was a really wonderful day, celebrating our boys!
 We let them open one present each on Sat. night, then they got the rest on Sunday morning.  I spent Friday revitalizing our sandbox, cleaning it out and hauling 16 bags of sand to that sucker.  I did it just so that Aidan could enjoy his gift of sand toys!  He was really excited!
 They both got nerf guns, which were a specific and adamant request, and were a huge hit!  They were shooting everything they could think of!
 Jack also got a basketball.  Any kind of ball or sport is sure to be a hit with Jack.  We might need to figure out a way to get a hoop for him- he just can't be contained!
 Aidan got an iditarod book.  He claims he will be the youngest one to win- planning to run it at age 13.  He liked the book, but then got really excited when he realized it had "real history" in it- actual pictures and stories, not just illustrations!  He is so funny with "real history".  His aunt sent him $5, but all he cared about was the card where she had put pictures of iditarod racing and a map of Alaska.  That was WAY more valuable than money to this one!
 I did say the nerf guns were a hit- and they were- until Grandma and Grandpa trumped us by getting storm trooper guns that have lights and noise.  Bye-bye nerf gun!  See you when the batteries run out!
 They got the best birthday present ever when we had a special adult-only session at church, and therefore they got to have a Sunday with NO BUMPY PANTS!  It is like even the church knew what would make them happy on their birthday!  In the evening, we went to Grandmas, where we had a family dinner, and celebrated more birthday fun.
 We had cupcakes at Stone Mountain, then again at Grandma's house, then Mon and Tues we had their birthday dinners (Steak for Jack, Salmon for Aidan) with brownies/ice cream one night and milkshakes the next.  We just kept on celebrating!
 The boys also share a birthday with their cute cousin Ellie.  I was really happy to get a picture of all 3 with poofy cheeks!
Happy Birthday Jack and Aidan!  I hope you remember that 6 year olds don't throw fits, bathe themselves, get themselves dressed and don't pee the bed!  Don't forget, -k-?  :)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

No Greater Love

John chapter 15, v 12 and 13:

This is my commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you.  Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

I have heard and read this scripture many times over my life.  I have heard heroic stories of people who gave their life for another, and been impressed by their love for another.  I think it is a rare and special thing when someone has the chance to do such a thing for another.

As I have thought about Mothers' Day this year, this scripture has come to mind many times.  It occurs to me that there is more than one day to lay down your life, and I see that evidence all around me, especially in Mothers.  A one-time heroic act takes seconds, or minutes, and is over.  A mother "lays down her life" hour after hour, day after day.  Daily putting the needs of another over her own.  Hourly stopping what she wants to do, in order to do what someone else wants her to do.  Year after year, making sacrifices and allowances because she loves another.

We are, by nature, selfish creatures.  Our nature dictates that we look after ourselves before all others.  We have instincts that protect self, that care for self, and that avoid any danger or damage to self.  I am, by nature, selfish.  I often resent having to "do for others".  Sometimes I complain, and get annoyed.  Sometimes I want to get away and have a break to be selfish.  Sometimes I don't appreciate all that I have.  I am probably not much different than most mothers.  I strive to do my best.  I strive to be what they need.  I strive to be their advocate, their friend, their advisor, their supporter, and their corrector.  I strive to serve them unselfishly, hour after hour, day after day.  To feel honored, rather than annoyed, when I am the only one they want.  When they need comfort in the middle of my sleep.  When they unleash pent up emotions for me to help them work out. 

One of my favorite bloggers, day in and day out is Sarah from Clover Lane.  She is the mother that I aspire to be.  I learn so much about motherhood from reading her posts.  I learn to appreciate my children, to stop complaining, and to do the hard things because it is good for them.  This past week I read a post from her about how a mother needs fortitude.  (Please click on the link and read the post- it will be well worth your time).  I am reposting some of her words here, because she put it so much better than I could have.

We have all heard that we need to take care of ourselves. In fact, I think it's overstated and often misinterpreted, and more annoyingly, I think, it's turned into something shallow and false. A manicure, a shopping trip with friends, a night out. Mommy makeover, mommy spa treatments, mommy's weekend away. There is nothing wrong with those of course, but I feel it's a perfect example of our culture's turn to a quick fix, a Pavlov's way of dealing with something quickly on the surface, and never looking deeper. Those things all help in the moment, and the recharge lasts for a moment, an hour, a day. They won't sustain us.

Motherhood lasts forever (forever!) and takes us up hills and down valleys, and sure there are those beautiful meadows, where as soon as we think we get it all figured out, we are shown otherwise. We meet with unchartered territory and we are filled with doubts and worries and frustration.

Manicures on the other hand, hardly make it through the dinner dishes. A shopping trip, a night out, have always seemed to me like coming up for sweet air, with just a gasp of breath allowed before we go back under and must begin to swim again.

We are looking in the wrong places perhaps. Perhaps our recharge is not "out there". Perhaps it cannot be bought, or stolen, or compacted into minutes, or hours or a few short days.

Perhaps it must be constant and is only found inside of us. A daily commitment to find a moment of solitude, to let our hearts and minds be still. A daily commitment to remind ourselves of what kind of mothers we intend to be for our children.
I am so grateful for the example of my own mother, who always helps me, and any of my siblings, any time we call her.  I don't think I have ever heard her say no to any of the millions of requests.  In fact, she often tells me how babysitting my kids at the last minute will help her out somehow!  Her advice is wise, and I do well anytime I follow it.  I'm grateful for my mother in law, who happily does all the mundane tasks- I have never seen someone cook, clean, do dishes and fold laundry with such true enjoyment!  I'm grateful for my sisters, who are fantastic women and mothers, and who inspire me to be better.  I'm grateful for my friends, who let me vent with understanding, and who give me wise advice and needed support.  I'm grateful for my children's birthmothers, who are both wonderful mothers themselves, and without whom, I wouldn't be a mother.  These women are fantastic examples of unselfishness to me, and I try each day to be more like them.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Soccer Time

I have loved this season of soccer!  All 3 cute kids on the same team has been so fun.  Of course, it means that we comprise almost half the team, plus one of the coaches, and therefore can never, ever miss a game or practice!  But watching them all play together has been wonderful.  It probably won't ever happen again, and I am sad to see it end!
 Jack and Aidan love playing together.  They love passing to each other and setting each other up for "moves".  It is hilarious.
 This is Abigail's best friend.  She lives in our neighborhood, and they are in the same school class.  They get along so well, and are hardly ever apart.  I love to see them comfort each other when they miss a play or celebrate together when they do something good!
 Such cute girls- I am so grateful for good friends who are a good influence!
 I also loved Kydon coaching.  He did such a great job with them.
 I did not love putting on 3 pairs of shoes and finding and washing and gathering and carrying 3 uniforms, 3 pairs of socks, 3 balls and 3 water bottles every single week.
 But I did love watching them play.  Every time one of them threw in the ball, it would be to a sibling.  Every time they passed it would be to a sibling.  I love watching that connection they have to each other.  I love that they had fun together.

 They each improved dramatically this year.  They understood positions and how to play their place.  Jack and Abigail both were able to score goals throughout the season, and Aidan came within inches, but didn't quite get it in this year.
 But he is going to play soccer until he is a grownup, so there is plenty of time for scoring. 
 We won't talk about how much time was spent chewing nails, rolling in the dirt, sitting down, doing cartwheels, and running out of the game to tell mom an important message, like what they want for dinner.
We will just remember how well they all played and how much fun we all had!