Sunday, May 31, 2009

Backyard Barbershop

We are fortunate enough to have attended a small sized birthing class when pregnant with Ava. The class was made up of four couples and all had girls within a one month time frame. We still get together on a monthly basis. Today we hosted this event.

The Rubins were the last to leave. We were in the kitchen chatting when Bobbi gasps and runs outside. I'll admit I was VERY slow to follow her. I was terrified that one of the girls had hung her self on the hammock or something. Thank God it wasn't that kind of a gasp.

I walk outside as Bobbi was removing a pair of nail scissors from her daughters hand. Julia was desperately trying to keep the scissors and explaining that "Ava NEEDS her hair cut."

I don't know how much damage could be done with nail scissors. Bobbi saved the day before we were "fortunate" enough to find out. But the girls had a regular beauty shop all set up. Ava was in a chair and they had tied a blanket around her neck and Julia, the designated Stylist, had already finished brushing it completely in preparation for the art she was to perform.

The BEST part of this story, however, is that I was followed outdoors by our husbands. Upon viewing the scene himself, Marc declared, "They told us Julia was going to cut Ava's hair but we thought they were just pretending."

That my friends is the difference between men and women. The girls told their fathers they were about to CUT hair and the fathers nod and continue talking. WHAT?! I'm sorry, but this is just too rich- Marc won't live it down for a few years. Really babe...did you even think to check on HOW they are pretending to "cut hair"?

Alan, Julia's father, blames me for leaving the nail scissors within reach. Truth be told, I don't even know where she got them; no excuses for me there! But as my friend Bobbi so eloquently joked, "Dumb and Dumber actually gave them PERMISSION to use them." So if we are placing blame, they tipped the scales!

P.S. Dumb and Dumber is used only in a joking manner and is in no way meant to disrespect our wonderful, albeit sometimes spacey, husbands;)

I've never liked tests

Ava has brought a new meaning to the word "testing" this week. I guess it is a new "stage" and sucks. She disobeys but does so as minorly as possible. Here are a couple examples:

Friday, She and I were at the grocery store and she touched the self checkout stand. We all know how ridiculous these self checkouts can be. The minor touch of a toddler causes it to register the incorrect weight and it freezes until a Clerk FINALLY notices the red blinking light and meanders on over to punch in some magic code, allowing you to finish your "quick" check out. I clearly told Ava not to touch it anymore and even added the "Do you understand?" to make sure she was listening. She understood, but she had to touch it with HER PINKY anyway, forcing me to follow through on the threatened discipline but acting HEARTBROKEN about it (as if she was surprised).

Today, we were trying to get her into the car. She was picking Dandelions. I try to let her do this as often as possible but I already was holding 15 of them (LITERALLY) so after telling her twice to stop picking and get into the car, I began the counting to three thing that all moms do (who started this practice and why did they pick the number three? ever wonder that?). She stopped picking and starts walking to the car (smart girl) but right before she reaches the car, she stops and picks a leaf. She picks this leaf WHILE looking at me, so it isn't as if her free spirit self "forgot" and was caught in a moment. She was trying to see what I'd do. I told her "give me the leaf and get in the car now!" She put the leaf in her mouth. Now, she is not stupid- before I even had time to react she spit it into her hand and handed it to me. Again, she acted surprised that she got some priviledges taken away; I had to listen to crying the entire way home.

While crying, she's become quite good at laying on the guilt by saying things like, "But I am so tired, mommy" or "I miss my papa (or grandma or whoever else is not present)" even sometimes tagging on "He (she,etc) loves me".

It is just stressful for a parent and frustrating because quite frankly I don't WANT to be disciplinging her ALL Day, but we all know consistency is key and testing is really her making sure boundaries are in place and it's all important to her security, blah, blah, blah. She can't obey 99%. I mean really, if there is a train railing down the tracks and she'd told to get away and she just lays her head on the tracks, she's a goner- she needs to obey fully! I'm still navigating this new stage and I don't always know if I am reacting appropriately but I do know, IT IS EXHAUSTING!

Yesterday, she threw a tantrum after her friends birthday party. I'll spare you the long story about what lead up to this tantrum. The bottom line is, she is in the "testing" phase AND she missed her nap. It wasn't pretty. The party host's neighbor looked at me as I walked over to pick Ava up and carry her inside for a litttle "chat" and the look she sent felt like darts to my heart. It was that look that says, "what they heck is wrong with your child." I actually think I handled the tantrum really well. It was a discipline moment that was meaningful to both Ava and I in the end. She got it, I wasn't angry while disciplining, etc. But on the ride home, I couldn't shake the terrible feeling I had. I hated that someone thought poorly of my child and probably of me, as well. I literally felt like crying at one point. I mean, I don't like that someone only knows my child for five minutes and all they see is a nasty tantrum that is actually not common place, but for them "defines" my child. I found myself frustrated and sad, etc.

I just started praying as I drove. I didn't want my evening ruined and wanted to focus on the positive of discipline gone right. What I realized is, again, I'd fallen prey to focusing more on what PEOPLE think than what GOD thinks. I raise my child not for a neighbor lady, I don't even know. I don't raise her to impress ANYONE, actually. I am raising her to have a heart that honors and glorifies God. HIS opinion is all that matters. She is a work in progress, as am I , but He already knows how precious she is. He is her creator and adores her even more than I do. He also is the only one who saw my precious moments of discipline with her and as I drove in the car last night, he clearly said to me, "well done, beloved, well done." That's all that matters in the end.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Holy Beans, Batman!

Have you ever used dry beans? Most of you probably have. I rarely do. It isn't that I wouldn't love to us them more often. They are much cheaper than the canned variety, but I have a hard time remembering to soak them overnight. I make menus and stick by them. Everyday, I put my kids to nap, and then look at what needs to be done for dinner. Dried beans don't work well for this model; it is horribly depressing to scramble for a new dinner item because the beans haven't been presoaked (we don't do crunchy beans at our house;) so I usually just used canned beans.

I am participating in a frozen meal exchange and making White Chili. Because I am making such a large quantity I decided to use dried beans. I poured 7 bags of beans in a large stock pot and filled with water. I then went to bed. I awoke to find beans overflowing and I don't mean by just a little bit. Thank God I had the stock pot sitting in a clean sink because the beans absorbed the water and grew....and grew..and grew. I had so many beans I didn't know what to do. My stock pot was full AND my sink was now full too! (I cannot resisit a good rhyme! :o)

I rinsed them well and divided them among a few large bowls.

It was then that I realized that this freezer cooking thing would be a many step process. There is not a pan in the world that could fit all those beans. I decided to do three batches. After starting on the first batch I realized I was out of cumin (had just enough for that batch) and because of a myriad of circumstances- namely and extra baby and then a long nap by my daughter, I couldn't run to the grocery store until about 5pm last night. I had to babysit for a family in our babysitting coop at 7, so I had to push back my cooking until today. This meant that my bowls full of beans had to wait until this morning.

We have a crazy full weekend, so I got up promptly before my children and set to work chopping onions and hot peppers. My spices and broth were a simmerin', but as I went to add my beans I got a had a horrible fright- the beans had become a virtual forest over night. There were sprouts galore, not just a few. I sat there a staring, NOW what would I do? (I SHOULD HAVE BEEN DR. SEUSS! I crack myself up!)

I mean seriously, can you eat sprouted beans? It's be one thing to give it a try if it was for our own family, but can you imagine someone giving you frozen chili with tenacles coming off each bean. I mean there weren't even cute was as if someone added steroids overnight! Marc suggested I just break them all off. Ah yes, that would look better, but um...there had to be a million beans. I don't even think I'll have time for a shower today and he expects me to snap tenacles off tiny beans one by one. That's a "negative", Captain.

I ended up running back to the store and because I am determined to use dried beans, I have multiple bowls on my counter filled with beans and water and I'll probably be up until midnight finishing chili. Why I don't just break down and buy canned beans, I can't explain. It's a pride thing at this point. I cannot be defeated by DRIED FLIPPIN' BEANS. I am a good cook- I will not be conquered by beans. (Unless Marc doesn't take the trash out soon- they way those babies are growing they might leave the can and take over our kitchen...THEY ARE ALIVE I TELL YOU, ALIVE!)

Friday, May 29, 2009

It's the Little Things

I can be pretty hard on my husband. Probably mostly because he can take it. Poor guy comes home after a long day of work to find an often tired and grumpy wife. It's as if I have a finite supply of patience and never reserve any for him. He is a trooper and complains less than I would were I on the recieving end of my grumples or snide remarks. I feel badly about this and really KNOW it's not acceptable. Chalk it up to God allowing him to practice grace on a regular basis.

The truth is, he can be a slacker at times (can't we all) but he does try hard to do his part around here. So he forgets the trash every now and then or took a year to unpack his stuff in the many times have I had to rewash clothes because I left them wrinkling in the dryer for three days, purely because I didn't feel like folding them! I am quick to extend myself grace or make excuses, but often have zero tolerance for his shortcomings.

Today I was reminded that his successes WAY out weigh his failures and doggone it, it is time I start focusing on THAT! This week he's really stepped up. As mentioned yesterday, I'd been struggling with exhaustion and feeling weird and couldn't figure out why. I was SUPER tired and just didn't get stuff done. He helped out- let me tell you. He finished emptying the dishwasher (which I just forgot about) and knew I was out of it enough to leave the dryer running (we have a dryer that never turns off on it's own and a landlord who doesn't see that as a problem) and made sure to turn it off, he didn't complain about canned soup fro dinner, etc. But the icing on the cake this week came this morning. I went into the kitchen to a get a diet coke, which I was preparing to drink warm, disappointed as I remembered I hadn't put any in the fridge after unloading the groceries. As I went to grab a can I noticed the pack was half empty. "Could it be?" YES! My husband noticed (how I'll never know) and loaded the fridge rack. I mean this is romance at it's best folks. Just because he loves me, he loaded the fridge with Diet Coke so I could actually enjoy my daily indulgence.

Such a small thing caused a lump in my throat because after all it's the little things that let us know how deeply we are loved. He knows me. He knows I like cold pop. He wants me to be happy. I could gush and gush, but the bottom line is I am B-L-E-S-S-E-D.

Oh we have our issues, just like all married couples and over time you may see a few appear here on the blog, but darn it we are in this life together and we are one heck of a team. I am glad that I have had opportunities to serve him in the past, and I am so thankful that he served me this week (and countless other times). Marriage is such hard work and let's be honest with two small children their are times when I am so tired I don't want to do the work, but days like today remind me- it's all worth it. No pain, no gain and after 8 years of marriage- we have gained much and every growing pain is worth it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Ava's Mispronounciations

I want to keep a list of Ava's mispronouciations. She is SO verbal, but the few words she mispronounces warm my heart. I love them. Here are a few: (I'll keep updating)

Chocolate- Cockolate
Litter- Glitter
Something- Someking
Dog- Gog
Shirt- Thirt
Umbrella- Bumbrella
Ding- Ging (as in sound of bell)

Ouch- the hubby is right!

Let the world know, I humbly admit my husband was right! I spoil my daughter and today it came back to bite me!

Here is the root of my "issue", I have a hard time saying "No" when something is items from the dollar spot at Target. This means she has lots of play jewelry and notebooks and such.

I grew up in a home with lots of love but not a lot of money. The money we have now kind of makes us rich in comparison. I have a distinct memory of being 5, asking for gum, and when I was told "no", thinking, "When I grow up I am going to buy gum whenever I want." I still feel strangely proud when I buy a pack of gum. Now I don't feel like I was deprived of anything as a child, yet I get the same sense of pride when buying little things for Ava when she asks.

This has been a minor point of contention between Marc and I. It hasn't led to any major fights, but it is something we have discussed many a times. He feels like she should hear "no" often enough that she knows to not even ask anymore. His fear was that she wouldn't appreciate little things and before long also fail to appreciate bigger things. So far, it hasn't been a major issue because she is an extremely grateful child. She always says thank you and gets tickled pink when someone gives her a gift (even if it is a simple sticker). Today was a bit different.

I felt great today. I finally figured out that the fatigue I'd been dealing with was due to Claritin. I didn't take it today and I felt somewhat "normal" again. Having energy, I wanted to go out and "do" something on this rainy day so I decided to take Ava (and Phin) to the Scholastic Warehouse sale. My intention was to buy her one book. That also was her expectation.

We got to the sale and things were cheap, so I said she could get more than one (MISTAKE!) even though she'd have been happy to pick one. Anywho- we ended up with five for her and a couple for me and Phin. She snuck one off the register (which I didn't notice) and took it over to the window to read. I only noticed after paying and as I was getting her to leave. I told her she'd have to leave that book and explained that she took if off the register so I couldn't pay so she'd have to leave it behind and just have the four remaining.

I kid you not, my child started screaming. I've never seen anything like it. I felt like I entered the TWILIGHT ZONE! Could this be MY child? OH MY! I literally had to carry her out of the sale (mind you she weighs over 40 lbs), while carrying the books and pushing the stroller with Phin in it. I looked straight ahead and kept walking, ignoring all those gawking at me.

You'd think it would end there, but it didn't. It continued for 5 more minutes in the car (which seemed like 50). I was able to stay calm (partly because it was so ridiculous it was sort of funny) and tell her I would speak to her when she calmed down but also informed her that she would not get any books now because her behavior was unacceptable.

All is not lost, she gradually ceased screaming and then a short while later stopped crying. Soon I heard, "Mommy if I say I am sorry will you be happy with me." I said, "Honey if you are saying your sorry, mommy will forgive you." We made up. She was disappointed that even after correcting her attitude she would get no books, but she got the lesson.

I don't know if she'll remember today, but I will. I think I learned the bigger lesson. She has no concept of if something is cheap or pricey and the bottom line is she has learned that I will buy her things. She isn't used to me saying, "no". (That is really more embarrassing than her behavior today.) I am so happy to learn this lesson NOW and not when she is 16. I am a smart woman who is diligent about making sure she doesn't get too many toys, etc...yet for some reason I was spoiling her in my own way because it made ME feel good. Shame on me.

Now...I wonder how many more episodes like day will occur before she gets that I have changed.:)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Counting to 10

My oldest child likes numbers- she always has and probably always will. She learned to count quite early and is starting to do simple addition at three. Perhaps this affinity for numbers is to blame for the fact that she make me count to ten multiple time a day. She's not aware of my counting, mind you...but counting has saved her life on multiple occasions.

Before having children, I used to say I wasn't a baby person and that I wish kids would just come out at age three. They are hilarious at three, after all.... Now I have a three year old and yes, there are moments when she is hilarious, but there are just as many that are not so funny. I feel bad, but sometimes I just find her behavior annoying. "There is a hotdog on your head" is quite frankly no longer funny. But once she gets a laugh for something she is going to replay that baby over and over and over again hoping for the same. She loves to make us laugh and honestly, we love to laugh around here, but at the end of a long day- my humor has it's limits. These limits are not unreasonable, really:
1) I would like to cook dinner without her hanging on my leg.
2) I would like to put her brother down for five minutes without her licking his head or attempting to pick him up.
3) As aforementioned, I would like the hotdog on my head to disappear and to refrain from forcing a fake laugh to avoid bruising her fragile ego.
4) I would like any and all requests to be stated in a semi-normal tone. Why does whining become seemingly inevitable after 5pm, even with a good nap?
5) I don't like yelling/screaming in my ear or anywhere near it. In fact, I find that type of silliness appropriate only for outside, but for some reason, anything is supposed to be funny if it is stated loudly and ends with her sticking her tongue out.

Ah, bedtime has come and no more counting will be done this evening...thankfully, my dear daughter has no idea I spent much of the day breathing deeply and counting to ten before reacting to her. She is fully aware that she is loved unconditionally and secure enough to be crazy and insane- I suppose that makes today a success. An early bedtime and a little reflection will refresh me to start anew tomorrow- preparing to offer just a fraction of the love and grace God gives me on a daily basis. I wonder if he finds 32 year old grumpy moms annoying? Thank God, I have no idea if HE is breathing deeply or counting to ten, but I AM fully aware that I am loved unconditionally and secure enough to authentically communicate my feelings;) His mercies are new every morning and mine will be too!

Blogging Has Begun

I am way behind in joining the blogging revolution. Let's be honest, I am not even sure if I'll keep up this blog, but I am going to give it a shot. I've always been a "journaler" but with two kids I am finding it hard to sit down and pour my heart out. For some reason, typing on my laptop and updating my facebook status has been a little more doable. I suppose because I like to sit and journal with a cup of tea and peace, but that is hard to come by at the moment.

Currently, my aim as a mom is to be joyful. I was reminded this morning that "In God's presence is abundance of Joy." (from Psalm 16) I have GOT to be in His presence to experience joy and therefore to pass that joy on to my children. Balancing life is something I've just not mastered yet, but I'll keep getting up and trying again and maybe by the time they are in college, I'll get it!

Today I had my "quiet time" at the table over blueberry muffins with my daughter. There was nothing quiet about it but it wasn't a waste of time. I found that verse in Psalm while doing my study on the life of David and it was encouraging to see God at work. He meets us where we are, even if it is with two children in tow. He's good like that. I have to remember that he gave me these two blessed kiddos and provided me the opportunity to stay home with them. He knows their ins and outs and the level of care that they require. He'll surely still be present with me and work in my life even if I can no longer sit down for an hour of total quiet with him on a daily basis. What a good God we have!!!