Saturday, February 26, 2011

All Caught Up

It's catch up day over here at Planet Pink.  Which means while I catch up on laundry and dishes (oh who am I kidding?  I NEVER catch up!), you get to catch up on what's been going on with us lately.  Yay!  Aren't you excited?

Princess #3's excited face ~ circa 2009
We had our little birthday shindig for Princess #4 a couple weekends ago.  I do believe Minnie Mouse would be pleased.



We tried to get a pic of all four princesses together and well, we might as well try to herd cats.


We did manage to get a halfway decent shot of all 6 of us, only because hubs and I were holding the rowdy ones down.

Sheesh, do I look tired or what?  Must work on my "I'm wide awake and happy about it!" look for pictures...
Then last weekend we set out for a little R&R.  A little weekend trip away.  We dumped lovingly left the kids in the care of my aunt and grandma and hubs and I had some uninterrupted down time. 


... which of course included coffee.

And now I'm back at home, surrounded by the aforementioned mountains of laundry and dishes (did I mention our dishwasher decided to crap out on us?  Ask me how fun it is to wash dishes for a family of 6 by hand).  How is it that these things multiply when you're not even home?

So there you are, all caught up.  And I'm still not.  Sigh.  If you don't hear from me for another week, you know what I'm doing...

Ciao!

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Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashback Friday: Baby Crack

Originally posted October 22, 2009


I ran across an interesting bit of news today that I thought was worth sharing because, well, I think it's hilarious. Apparently, Disney is offering refunds to parents who are dissatisfied and thus willing to return their purchased Baby Einstein videos. Dissatisfied how, you ask? Shockingly, Disney has admitted that having your baby watch these videos will not make them smarter. You can read information about it here and here. 

Or you can just stay here and read my take. 

OK, seriously? Allow me to let you in on a little secret: putting your baby in front of a TV will NEVER make them smart! It's comical to me to think that there are parents out there who not only purchased these DVD's under the impression that they were raising little Einsteins themselves, but also ones who are irritated enough because little Tommy can't spell his name by 9 months or isn't recognizing Van Gogh or Beethoven by a year old that they are actually willing to return the DVD's. It's a tragic, misguided error!

Parents of babies and young ones: Do not, I repeat, DO NOT return these movies! These movies ARE magic. But not in the sense that Disney intended. I like to refer to them as "Baby Crack". It may just be a screen shot of a black sheet with a plastic toy sitting on it, or some cheap little hand puppet, but as God is my witness - these movies are the only reason I've been able to get a shower in the last 7 years. I don't know what it is about these things, but I can plant a baby in a bouncy seat in front of a TV with Baby Einstein playing and I know I've got a golden 15-20 minutes to shower before boredom sets in. Is it the mesmerizing music? The contrasting colors? Shoot, for all I know they've got some hypnosis voodoo going on. Whatever it is, I don't really care. 

I know, I know, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends NO screen time for children under the age of two. So tell me, is the AAP going to come sit at my house everyday so I can shower? I think not. There will always be some parent that proudly claims their child has never watched TV or they've never used a video to get something done around the house. And I'll say now - they are LYING. Let's just cut through that crap right now. We mommy's are hard enough on ourselves as it is without the added pressure of feeling like we're some sort of failure because we need a cheap video to occupy our kids so we don't stink. 

So, maybe Baby Einstein isn't going to make your kid an Einstein. That's OK. Get over it. You shouldn't be relying on TV to make your kid smart anyway. BUT, do think twice before sending your DVD's back to Disney in a huff. You may need to get your shower in tomorrow.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

You Know What Comes Before The Fall

I was so proud of myself.  With the snow keeping us out of school for the last two weeks, the princesses' Valentine's parties were rescheduled to this week.  I hit Target on the 13th, and managed to remember to pick up Valentine's for their classmates, knowing that once the 14th came, those Valentine's would be long replaced by 4 leaf clovers and Easter eggs.

Last night after a full day of child wrangling, dish washing and clothes folding, I drug my tired body off to bed just after midnight.  Only to drag my tired body back out of bed 30 minutes later when I realized that Princess #3 was to have her party today.  And I hadn't even opened the boxes of Valentine's yet.

30 minutes later (now 1am) I taped the last heart shaped lollipop to the paper card and crawled back into bed for a few precious hours of sleep.

Princess #3 was thrilled this morning at the pile of lollipop adorned cards.  She proudly carried the bag out to our van as we loaded up for school.

And on the way I was feeling pretty smug.  I sometimes feel quite inferior to the Super Moms who go above and beyond with their homemade cards and confections  and given my track record, I was just happy that I remembered and got Princess #3 all set up for her party.

....Until I pulled up to the school.  As the cars in front of us unloaded, I saw a child after child wearing what suspiciously looked like pajamas.

I glanced over at my 3 year old, decked out in her heart adorned tshirt, jean skirt and pink bow in her hair, carefully chosen in honor of the Valentine's Day party.  She looked at me with wide eyes and my heart sank.  Apparently I missed the memo.

I hate when I do that.

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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Comparisons: Just Born

One of the most fascinating past times of people I know is to try to figure out who my kids look like.  Hubs?  Me?  Each other?  A few months ago I got this idea to do a comparisons album where I could place side by side the pictures of each of my princesses at the same age.  I've collected 2 years of photos now and it's so interesting to see the transformations of each girl in the same stage.  Obviously I have too many to share at once, but periodically I'll be sharing my little photo collages.  Here are the first couple:

Meeting Mommy


Going home


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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A New Kind Of 2




Today you turn 2.  
And today holds new meaning for me.


I've celebrated many second birthdays.
I've seen many babies morph into toddlers with the arrival of 2.


But this time is different.
This time is the last.


Never again will a number 2 grace the top of a cake.
For the first time ever there is not another bun in the oven, waiting to follow in footsteps.


It's an odd feeling, to be experiencing this rite of passage.
As you grow into a toddler, I too, am growing as a mother.


No longer in the phase of having babies,
I am now entering the phase of growing up babies.



Despite the pang of wistfulness I feel at knowing there will not be one to follow you,
it's a good place to be.


You are my forever baby.
The one we did not plan with our heads, but the one who found our hearts.


You are the best of us, the culmination of our family.
You complete us.


Happy birthday my baby.

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Monday, February 14, 2011

The Birth Series: Chapter 4

My Almost Valentine Baby, born at 12:22 am on February 15, 2009


"We are made to do this work, and it's not easy... I would say that pain is part of the glory, or the tremendous mystery of life.  And that if anything, it's a kind of privilege to stand so close to such an incredible miracle."  

~Simone in Klasson  2001
The first contraction came around noon on Valentine’s Day. I was folding laundry. How romantic, right? Ah well, laundry doesn’t stop for romance around here. This being my fourth time through the ringer, and being 2 days past my due date, I was pretty sure the tightness I just felt was a contraction. I paused for a moment to assess, and then continued folding laundry. I figured if it was the real thing I’d eventually get out of having to finish working my way through the mountain of clothes.


It was a Saturday, so the princesses and hubs were underfoot. I started to put laundry away, mentally noting each time I felt my uterus contract. They were definitely the real thing, but nothing to stop life for. I already felt tired, knowing the night I was in for. I hope that’s normal when you’re about to have your fourth child. Although excited, I no longer had the blissful naivety to hold on to. Labor is no picnic, and I was the one holding the picnic basket.

After a couple hours of light contractions, I casually informed the hubs that I thought I was in labor. We then began to make plans for the princesses. Although unwavering in my resolve to have another unmedicated birth, the reality of that meant that we were at the mercy of Princess #4’s timetable. With no family in town to rely on for childcare, we began calling our back ups.

Around 5pm we loaded up the crew and headed out to our pastor’s house, who would be caring for the princesses until further notice. Contractions were still coming, and some of them quite strong, but despite that I drove our van the 15 minutes out to their house. We needed two vehicles (one to stay with the princesses and one for us) so I had no choice. I sorta laugh about that now. What woman in active labor drives around town? Me, apparently.

Once we got the princesses situated, the hubs and I set out to do our “usual” labor routine. It’s funny to me what a well oiled labor machine we’ve become. I guess when it’s your fourth time, you know what works and what doesn’t. We immediately set out for Target. Our plan was to kill time and enjoy some child-free shopping. Two birds. One stone.

We wandered up and down the aisles, looking at everything from furniture to electronics to toys. We discussed what an ingenious idea it would be to create an iPhone app that would time contractions (of course there are plenty to choose from now - we totally missed that boat). We timed my contractions which continued to roll in, most requiring me to stop talking and focus on breathing. I was definitely in the first stage of labor and we waited for a shift in my focus, when I could no longer bother to carry on conversation at all.

That point finally arrived around 9pm. Following our stop at Target we drove to a Sonic for some dinner for hubs. I was hungry but not in the mood for food, being a bit skittish about eating while in labor (not because the hospitals say not to, but because I ate during my first labor and got to see it later. Throwing up while simultaneously contracting is not my idea of fun). We decided at that point to go to Barnes and Noble (which was in the direction of the hospital) to walk around a little more, but by the time we got to the parking lot I couldn’t get myself out of the car. At this point the contractions were about 2 minutes apart and were strong enough that I had no interest in doing anything but try to manage them. Hubs tried joking with me to see if he could get me to laugh. When he got no response to his stellar joke, he agreed it was time to head to the hospital (see how scientific we are?).

Although my 4th time through the process, I had anxiety for this labor that wasn’t present for any other. I can’t entirely pin point the reason why. It may have partially been because I tested Group B Strep positive for the first time and had to endure an IV during labor, something I never had to mess with before and something that represented a “medicalization” of my labor. I think I also was just afraid. It sounds silly in retrospect. I knew exactly what to expect. I’d been through it before. But 3 times before everything went perfectly. I feared I was tempting fate in some way, like it wasn’t reasonable to expect that I could have 4 perfect deliveries. It’s dumb because I don’t believe life works that way, but in the moment I feared it nonetheless. Perhaps my mother’s intuition knew something I didn’t.

We checked into the hospital around 9:30pm and I went through the usual process (which I have to say is entirely silly when a woman clearly in active labor shows up at the hospital and you make her pee in a cup. Seriously?). In between heavy contractions I got into my gown and made my way to the uncomfortable bed. It took awhile since I only had about 45 seconds in between contractions at that point. It took all my concentration to stay on top of the waves, which threatened to take me down, one by one.

I was poked and started my IV course of antibiotics and then checked to see where I was in the process of labor. I was relieved to hear I was at 8cm and I held on tight for the imminent arrival of transition. I’m not a huge fan of laboring in beds. They are inconvenient and don’t allow for complete control over managing contractions. I definitely do better when I can sit upright or better than that when in a bathtub. But with neither of those options open to me, I did the best I could. The hubs was in super coach mode, and he was amazing, stroking my hair and fanning me when I got hot, reminding me to stay relaxed and vocalizing with me during the peak of my contractions.

And peak they did. Transition hit hard and I struggled to stay on top of the waves. Each contraction arrived before the previous one receded. With no time to rest, I held on tight, fighting to stay relaxed. I concentrated on relaxing my legs which threatened to tense with each contraction and the hubs worked on helping me relax my face and jaw. I began wishing to feel the urge to push. I knew with that urge the end was near and that I’d finally have something I could do with the pain of the contraction.

Around 11:30pm my nurse came in and checked me and announced me complete (yay!). As if on cue my contractions mercifully started spacing out a bit and the urge to push overcame me. I remember at one point saying to the nurse that I hoped I had improved my pushing time over my last births (2 hours, 1.5 hours and 1 hour, respectively). She laughed and said she had never seen a patient of my doctor’s push for over a half hour. With that bit of hope, I began to bear down.

I don’t really remember when things began to deteriorate. I had been pushing for about 45 minutes (so much for a half hour!) and wasn’t making much progress. At this point I really didn’t need to be too discouraged. I had been here before. I’m just not a great pusher. Two steps forward, one step back. Same song and dance. But this time... this time it felt different. I didn’t feel the exhilaration I was used to while pushing. In fact, I was actually fighting sleep in between contractions. I could tell I wasn’t moving the baby down. And something... something wasn’t right.

That feeling began to overwhelm me. I began to beg the doctor to take her. I knew I needed to get her out. And I couldn’t. At first my doctor, being carefully chosen by me as one with an incredibly low C-Section rate and highly regarded as a natural childbirth advocate, quietly chuckled at me and told me that being tired wasn’t a good enough excuse to be cut open. But with the next push, his demeanor changed. I hadn’t noticed him looking at the baby’s heart tone monitor, but he must have.

It all happened very quickly then. In fact, it would probably be more accurate to have the hubs finish the rest of this story as I lived the rest of it in a thick cloud. With that next push, I saw my doctor glance at the nurse, she nodded and darted out of the room. He then calmly told me that my baby was not doing well with the pushing and he was going to have to take her by Cesarean. At first, overwhelming relief washed over me. This was almost over. The pain, the fatigue, the fear... all of it. And then reality hit, in the form of another contraction. I was no longer allowed to push. I completely lost control. The deep breathing, the vocalization, nothing could keep me from the pain of a pushing contraction with no push.

Within less than a minute I was being wheeled down the hallway in my bed, with the hubs jogging alongside me. Visions of TV dramas played out in my mind, I wondered if that’s what I looked like. I was in agony, I remember seeing the bright florescent lights flash by on the ceiling and then the bright white of the OR blinded me. Hubs had disappeared. I vaguely wondered what happened to him, but was too overcome with pain to ask. I imagine at this point I was given some heavy sedative. Somehow they moved me onto another bed and I think I was rolled onto my side (for the epidural?). A heavy warmth washed over me and I was no longer in pain. Someone behind me asked me my name and as I answered I flashbacked to all those episodes of A Baby Story I had watched on TV. “This can’t be happening to me” kept running through my head and I desperately wanted hubs with me.

But there was no time. I heard some counting and then someone said “oh boy!”. I panicked, thinking I had just given birth to a boy. The person behind me (I assume the anesthesiologist) laughed lightly and said, no, it’s a girl! I remember feeling tremendous relief and a simultaneous surge of love and disbelief at the way this birth was playing out. I asked how much she weighed. From behind me I heard, “they’ll get to that, they have other things to worry about right now.” Suddenly deafening silence filled my ears. I realized then I hadn’t heard my baby cry.

I think they may have knocked me entirely out at this point, I’m not really sure. I absolutely have no memory of anything between that moment and finally waking up in the recovery room. A nurse was sitting at a desk across the room from me, and my doctor walked in. After he assessed me, he spoke with the nurse. Through a fog I heard him ask what their response time was. She replied 6 minutes.

6 minutes that changed my life. 6 minutes that meant the literal difference between life and death. A couple days later as my doctor visited with the hubs and I, he informed us that Princess #4 emerged from my womb with the umbilical cord wrapped around her head. He also went on to say that given the size and shape of my pelvis he thought it was a miracle I was able to give birth vaginally at all.

I held my newborn Princess #4. The world in my hands. So many times I have played out her birth in my mind. So many times I’ve relived it. So many unanswered questions, so many what if’s. But beyond that, so many miracles. There is a reason I chose to deliver my babies without drugs or interventions. It’s because I was created to give birth. Because I instinctually know what to do. And although Princess #4 was birthed differently, she lives because that instinct was intact. I’m forever grateful for the experience, which has changed the way I view the birth process. I still strongly believe that every woman should prepare for a natural childbirth, because there’s no guarantee that the epidural will work or that you’ll even have time to get one. But I also now know that the attitude of “it won’t happen to me” goes both ways and not being prepared for all aspects can be traumatizing and leave alot for a mama to process. And no one wants to be burdened with that when there is a new baby to love. Ultimately, we got our happy ending and our family is complete. To be a participant in a miracle is an incomparable honor and bringing a new life into the world, no matter the means is a miracle like none other.

If you haven't already, be sure to check out the other chapters to my Birth Series:  Prologue, Chapter One, Chapter Two, and Chapter Three.

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Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Love Story

They say the third time's the charm.

For hubs and I, this was definitely the case.

FIRST

We met the summer before my Senior year in High School.  He was getting ready to enter his last year of college.  I was in Phoenix, in the scorching heat of July, just one in a group of hundreds (thousands?) of teens.  We converged there with our youth groups from all over the US and Canada for a week long camp of sorts.  Several colleges and Universities had their representatives there, ready to recruit.  Hubs was one of those recruiters - paid to talk about the school, sing with a swoon-worthy voice, look good and, well let's face it, flirt with potential female students.

I fell for it.  Hook.  Line.  Sinker.

He doesn't even remember meeting me.  (hmmph)

The boy band.  Remember, this was like, 1995.  Hubs is the cutie in red plaid.

Fast forward two years.

SECOND

The summer after my Freshman year in College (HIS college).  I was now travelling as one of those recruiters.  My group and I were spending the weekend in Dallas, performing at a local church.  The speaker that morning was this young guy, who had just returned from a year long mission in Bulgaria.  With long scraggly hair and a goatee,  he looked quite a bit like Jesus.  Following the service we all went out to lunch together.  He sat near me and flirted with the other girl in my group.  I didn't give him a second look and spent the lunch wondering if a guy I had met at camp a week earlier was going to call.

Clearly, things weren't going well.

Jesus - hubs in Paris.  Now that I look at it, he's kinda sexy with long hair...

THIRD

6 months later, I was in the middle of my Sophomore year, fresh off a breakup (with camp guy) and my school was in full Homecoming swing.  Quite unlike me, I headed out to the basketball game alone, just desperate to get out of my dorm. Sitting in the stands alone, I started chatting with a couple sitting in front of me who had returned for Homecoming.  They were on staff at the church I had been at in Dallas 6 months earlier.  Sitting next to them was a guy who was vaguely familiar and yet not.  We started talking.  We put two and two together.

I couldn't believe it.  This clean cut, yummy smelling, gorgeous guy with puppy dog brown eyes and amazing lips was the scraggly headed Jesus dude.

He cleaned up good.

We were inseparable for the rest of the week.  I took extra care getting ready for classes (no more rolling out of bed in my pj's for my 8am class), timing my walks across campus so I'd "accidentally" bump into him.  I'm pretty sure he hung around campus a bit more than he would have, lingering in the music building where many of my classes were and one time even showing up in the cafeteria right at my lunch time.

We went on our first official date that week - to a band concert on campus and a coffee shop afterwards - where we proceeded to sit and talk for an hour past closing time.  Oops.  Things were quickly falling into place.  It seemed perfect.

hubs and I taking a train ride through the Bulgarian countryside

It wasn't all a clear course though.  A major hurdle stood in our way.  The year following his graduation from college he spent a year in volunteer missions in the country of Bulgaria.  He loved it so much he returned home for 6 months to raise money to go back.  Enter me.  At the time we met, went on our first date, shared our first kiss, he was a mere weeks from returning to Bulgaria - 5888 miles away from me.

What to do?  We had only "known" each other for a week.  A long distance relationship was a pretty big commitment to make based on only a week of interaction.  Especially given the year (1997).  This was pre-Facebook, pre-Instant Messaging, pre-Texting, pre-Skyping, pre-EVERYTHING except email and phone calls.

Pretending to not be sad as hubs prepared to board a plane back to Bulgaria for a year.

And yet, we KNEW.  It was right.  It just was.  Crazy, yes.  But totally right.  So we jumped in.  And for the next 2 years we forged a relationship via a constant stream of emails, planned phone calls (we were 8 hours apart and paid about $0.42 per minute) and brief visits (twice with him returning home over Christmas and once with me visiting him in Bulgaria).

And in December of 1999 we were separated no longer.  All the months of speaking only once a week for 20 minutes at a time, all the hours spent on the computer typing letters and one-sided conversations, all the lonely nights wishing my boyfriend were with me, it was all worth it.

Hubs and I on our honeymoon.  Separated no longer.

It may have taken us a bit to get the timing right, but the third time was definitely the charm.



This post is linked up with A Sorta Fairytale's You And Your Valentine Party!  



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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Love Is Many Things



Love is loyal

Love is trust

Love is faith

Love is without limit

Love is renewing

Love is immeasurable

Love is...

wrapped up in the first moment my two loves meet.

this post is linked up with the lovely Jhen

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This Isn't FUN Anymore

Hubs and I enjoying an evening at the coffee shop we went to on our first date, 13 years ago

Recently I've started hosting a small group of women in my home one morning a week.  We come from all walks of life and backgrounds.  Some have been married less than a year, others are nearing their 30th anniversary.  Some are in the throes of child-rearing, others are staring at their empty nest and wondering what to do now.  We meet to eat (of course), chat (of course) and to read God's Word and challenge each other to continue to grow and learn.

Yesterday we changed it up a bit.  With Valentine's Day fast approaching, we chose to read a chapter from the book, 'A Wife After God's Own Heart' by Elizabeth George.  I've read this book before in Bible study settings, and I have to be honest, I struggle with alot of what she talks about.  She addresses many of the issues that arise in a marriage, and many of her suggestions feel counter-cultural to our norm.  I may struggle with her thoughts, but then again, our culture is boasting a 50% divorce rate, so maybe she's on to something...

Anyway, I digress.  Back to yesterday.  We read a chapter titled Making Time For Fun.  Yeah, I know.  What's fun, right?  When I was skimming through the book trying to decide what chapter to discuss I knew we had to do this one.  Because it's right where hubs and I are at right now.

That's probably not a huge shock.  I mean, we've got four kids.  A mortgage.  A job.  Debt.  Just... reality.  And there's nothing like a little reality to suck the fun out of anything, right?

The book encouraged us to think back to the early days of courtship, to remember the hours spent talking about nothing in particular, remember the feeling of never wanting to be apart, remember the fun that happened when there were no responsibilities, no realities pulling in different directions, nothing but the endless expanse of hope and love and romance.

Sigh.  Oh to have that back again.

So how do you reclaim that?  Whether you've been married 5 years or 50, chances are reality has sucked the fun out of your marriage at one point or another.  How do you stop that vacuum?  Here are a few suggestions made in the book and some that came up in our discussion yesterday:

1.  Plan one fun activity a week  This is a hard one, especially when you have little kids and an even littler budget.  At first glance I tend to think, "yeah, this isn't going to happen".  But as a lady in my home pointed out yesterday, it can happen with just a little forethought and planning.  One of my big downfalls is that I like hubs to dream up the "fun" thing we're going to do.  For some reason it means more to me if I don't have to tell him what I'd like to do.  Maybe it's a throw-back to the dating relationship when the guy always planned the date, I don't know.  Whatever the case, it's a pitfall for us because honestly hubs just doesn't have time to think up elaborate date nights anymore.  It doesn't mean he doesn't love me, it just means he's busy.  But sometimes even knowing that I can get resentful.  So here's the solution that I can't wait to try:  Create a date jar.  Every month sit down together and decide on a few activities that you would both enjoy and that your budget would allow.  Write each down on a piece of paper and put the papers in the jar.  Then, on your designated "date night", draw a date out of the jar and let serendipity decide.  I love this idea because the pressure is off to come up with something fun to do, and there's still an element of surprise.

2.  Choose a couple hobby  I think so often we focus on our own hobbies, things that allow us to escape from our realities.  But all too often our hobbies don't include each other.  Think back to when you were dating.  Tell me you didn't feign interest at some point in something your hubs (or wife) to be was interested in.  Well, stop pretending!  Taking an interest in something your spouse enjoys opens up a whole new world of conversations and common ground.  Or, if there's really nothing your spouse enjoys that you can get on board with, find a new hobby together.  It doesn't have to be anything major.    For example, hubs and I have recently discovered that we enjoy reading the same book at the same time.  We read the Twilight series together and I was amazed at the amount of new and fresh conversation that was born out of that.  And the deeper the book, the deeper the conversation.  It's a great way to learn new things about each other and to find things to talk about that don't include the words "kids", "diaper" and "poop".

3.  Cook together  I know this is not always an option.  With hubs' work schedule we are often not together at mealtime.  But when we are able to intersect, cooking together brings a surprising amount of intimacy.  Whoever said sex starts in the kitchen was not lying!  Now before you head to the gutter, just think about it.  Cooking requires a certain amount of timing and efficiency.  When you cook together, you have to communicate, you have to work together.  You have to be in sync.  That is intimacy.  And that leads to intimacy elsewhere.  Plus, if hubs burns the veggies you've got something to tease him about later.  You can even extend this intimacy to dishwashing.  Our dishwasher recently decided to stop cleaning dishes, so we've been washing alot of dishes by hand.  I've actually come to look forward to those times with hubs, washing and drying and talking.  Sometimes I think a potentially aggravating situation (ie, a dishwasher breaking) can create moments to connect on a whole new level.

4.  Don't wait until "date night" to connect  This was really profound for me.  In discussing this chapter with the women in my home, one woman who has been married nearly 30 years brought up this point.  And in thinking about it I realized how important it is.  We hear so much about taking time for your spouse, scheduling date nights and the importance of them.  But if you're not connecting on a daily basis, then once date night rolls around you are going to have nothing to talk about.  One lady in my group spoke of how she and her husband have a table that they meet at every morning and every evening.  They share coffee, read their Bibles, pray and discuss their days.  They begin and end every single day at that table.  Obviously, in the real world you can't spend every waking second with your spouse like you did when you were dating.  But I love this example of beginning and ending the day together.  What a awesome way to stay connected and involved in one another's lives.  I can't wait to try this in my own marriage.

So there you go.  Reclaim that fun, recapture that romance, reignite that passion!

My friends, are you fighting the fun vacuum?  Do you have ideas for finding fun again?  What do you do to keep things fresh?


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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Push Bars and Minnie Mouse: Birthday Musings

School is cancelled for a 6th day in a row.

Whatev.

Snow, schmow.  Right?  Another foot?  Bring it on!

Moving on to more important matters, like...

Princess #4's SECOND birthday!!

It's coming up fast folks.  One week from today my baby will be TWO.  Doesn't hardly seem possible.  I'm officially out of the baby stage.

*sob*

Don't ask me how I feel about that just yet.  I might dissolve into a puddle.  I'll save that for another sappy post at another sappy time.

In the meantime, let's discuss DETAILS!

Princess #4 loves Minnie Mouse.

Loooooooooooooooves her.

So of course we are having a Minnie Mouse party fit for a two year old.

I have this on it's way from oldnavy.com for her to wear:
Since Minnie is wearing pink and green we'll keep with that theme for the rest of the party.  I'm still thinking about decorations and food.  Probably should kick the thinking into high gear...

The real thing I'm mulling over is her present.  Two things I know:

1.  Since she's her own person, princess #4 deserves to have her own toys.  
2.  We have way.too.many.toys

So I'm thinking instead of buying a whole bunch more STUFF that will eventually end up lost or broken or worse yet - under my FEET, we're going to instead get her ONE big useful thing she'll love.  This sounds like a very responsible and practical thing to do, and I'll let you think that.  But the reality is that we do this to keep the crap in our house down to a minimum and to make life easier on us.

Just keepin' it real.

So, in the name of practicality, we're shopping for a tricycle.

We do have a tricycle already.  A cute lil red radio flyer.  It's adorable.  We've had it since Princess #2 turned one.  And none of our girls have been able to ride it.

Once they're the right size to fit on it (meaning about age 2), they are still too little to pedal.  Or steer.  Or do both simultaneously.  This means that in order for it to go anywhere, mom or dad has to lean over (WAY over since it's about 2 feet off the ground) and push it.

Not my idea of fun.  Especially when I'm trying to keep track of 3 other princesses careening down the sidewalk on their training wheels.

Enter the most ingenious invention to ever be thought up:  The parent steering push bar.



Um hello?  How brilliant is this?  I'm absolutely giddy at the thought of not only being able to push Princess #4 down the street behind her careening sisters on bikes, but also STEER her as well.  Geez, it might as well be my birthday I'm so excited!  Add to this the handy little 3 point harness available from Kettler and what we've got on our hands is a stroller in disguise.  Perfect for my little copycat who insists on doing everything like her sisters.

I can't wait for it to get here.  It may be months before we can actually SEE the sidewalk for her to ride it, but we'll be ready!


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Monday, February 7, 2011

This Is Not A Craft Blog

School is cancelled today for the 5th day in a row (not counting the weekend).

I was lamenting the most recent cancellation on Facebook when a friend of mine suggested I do a blog post on activities to keep kids busy during the unending snow days.

Excuse me while I go laugh my hiney off.

Oh how I wish I was that kind of mom.  I actually really truly have guilt about this.  Here my kids have been home in the middle of the school year for 7 days straight and we haven't done one real activity.  Not one.  Something's wrong with that right?  I see people like Jill (whose blog I ADORE) and wish I had more creative bones in my body.

But I just don't.  Even if I had known that the little snowfall we were supposed to get last Monday night was going to turn into what has so lovingly been dubbed "Snowpocaplypse 2011", I don't think I would have gone out and armed myself with glitter glue, pompoms, felt, pipe cleaners and/or every other crafty thing a person might need.  It's just not on my radar.  I'm too busy worrying about how we're going to get more milk, whether or not we have enough toilet paper to wipe 6 tushies and why in the world did my dishwasher decided to stop washing NOW?

So I'm trying to come to terms with this.  I'm actually feeling a bit vulnerable about it right now, like somehow I'm failing my girls in some way by not being Mommy Stewart.  I'm not sure why I got it in my head that in order to be a good mommy one not only has to be able to kiss booboos and cook good food but also must have unending resources in craftiness.  Am I holding myself to too high of a standard?  If my kids are happy, is it ok that we're not gluing things every day?

I've done plenty of Barbie dressing, game playing and story reading in the last 7 days.  I even managed to bake a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls.

You know you want'em
I'm also totally planning on surprising my girls with these Coffee Mug Cakes later today.  We might even make Jill's Lava Bottles if I can scrounge up the supplies.  So I'm trying.  But I also need it to be ok if I don't try.  I've said before that the best thing I can be for my kids is me.  So that's what I'm striving to be.  Clearly, I have moments where I wonder if that's enough.  I sure hope it is.

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

SNOWper Bowl

The Super Bowl is kinda a weird deal for me.  I'm not really a football person.  It's not that I don't like the game, I've just never developed a passion for it.  Actually, the sounds of a football game on the TV on a Sunday afternoon bring back many fond childhood memories for me.  But it would be a rare occasion that I actually sit and WATCH a game.

But I do love the Super Bowl.  Or correction, I love the excuse it brings to hang out with friends, eat tons of yummy food and just the overall atmosphere.  I really look forward to it.

But it was not meant to be this year.



I'll try to not be bitter as we stay at home and eat frozen pizza for dinner.  Sigh.

I promise not all my posts will be about the weather next week.  Or at least not until the next snow storm hits.  Oh and by the way, they cancelled school AGAIN for Monday.  This does not bode well for me my friends...

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Friday, February 4, 2011

On The Brink Of Crazy



One week later.

Sigh.

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Not Ready



It's always a jolt to see your children interact with the world outside of the safe little haven you've created. As parents, we so carefully craft a safe environment, full of love, of lessons, activities and security. We surround our children with the tools they need to exist out in the world, and endeavor to make them well-rounded individuals, but the reality often remains that for the first several years of their lives, we do so within the context of our own 4 walls.

I want my little girls to stay little girls for as long as possible. There is plenty of time for makeup and (God help me) boys. I don't care if my princesses are up (down?) with the latest teeny bopper singing sensation. I love that they still want to wear dresses to school sometimes. I'm comfortable with drawing out childhood for as long as they'll let me. The innocence, the naivety, oh, it just can't be reclaimed once it's gone.

The true test comes sometime among the early elementary years, when their 4 walls open up to a big wide world that's beyond our control. I'll be honest - it's freaking me out. Everything within me wants to pull those 4 walls back upright into the nice, neat, controllable square I'm comfortable with. But I can't. I know I can't.

So where does that leave me?  Knowing I have to let the walls open up, but not wanting them to open too quickly.  Knowing my girls need experiences (some that might hurt a little bit), but not wanting them to experience too much too soon.  Knowing that they have to stretch their little wings to learn to fly, but not wanting them to fly too far.

I don't know.  I'm just not ready.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snow Bunnies We Are Not

It's a good thing we don't get weather like this too often.  I'd move.


School is cancelled for the rest of the week.

There's a good possibility I might not make it until Monday.

We've been doing lots of this


and this


with plenty of TV watching and cookie baking thrown in for good measure.

Hubs has been out trying to unearth us.


Progress is slow.

The upside is that we've had 3 extra days with Daddy at home.

The only thing keeping me from curling up in the fetal position right now.

That and coffee.

I hope to be back to the reality of school, homework, lessons, and life soon.

Very.  Very.  Soon.

Until then, we'll sled down our front yard.


what else do we have to do?

PS.  Like my snazzy new blog duds?  Jhen at From Here To Eternity did a SMASHING job and I'm thrilled with the results!  I'm still working on labeling and such, but most pieces are in place now, so click around and get to know my new corner of the blogosphere!
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