Friday, June 29, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

That's all


Yesterday, I loaded the kids for piano and checked to make sure my wallet was in it's usual spot in the van.  It wasn't.  I looked in all the logical spots in the house, praying calmly for guidance as I did.  I wan't led anywhere, but I did have an image float through my head - me handing my wallet to a very fussy Carina to satisfy her in the parking lot of Target the day before, after a very long shopping trip.  No matter how much I tried to retrace my steps from that point on, this was the last appearance my wallet made in my memory.  

Anxiety choked me up.  We were leaving in less than 24 hours to fly across the country. I was already snapping with stress from packing for five for two weeks, and now the thought of trying to worm my way onto a plane without any forms of ID had me panicking.  Knowing that I had cash in my wallet made me almost completely hopeless of finding it if I did indeed lose it at Target.  I desperately called Chad, hoping that he had seen it somewhere, and of course he hadn't.

I prayed and prayed.  I felt like I should just get the kids to piano on time, calm myself,  and then go from there.  As I drove, I suddenly realized that although my mind was in panic mode, my heart didn't believe it.  I knew that everyone was going to be okay.   And just as suddenly, I looked at the clock and realized that I had a few minutes to spare, so I figured I could drive around the Target parking lot and see if it was there.  While I did that, I realized I had enough time to run in real quick to ask about it.  So I did. 

And guess what?  A man had just turned it in that morning.  I burst into tears as the cashier handed it to me with a smile.  I choked out, "I am flying tomorrow and I was so afraid I lost it" and she told me that if she ever saw the man again, she would tell him how grateful I was.

I went back to my car and prayed my gratitude over and over again.  For a Heavenly Father who never loses patience with my weaknesses, and who is always always willing to help.  For the stranger who turned in my wallet and will probably never know what a positive outcome his kindness and honesty brought to my life.

We took our trip today.  Flying with four kids is never going to be fun, and it started out rough.  When I went to check in, there was no record of my flight being changed so that I could fly to California with Carina (to be at my grandma's memorial this weekend) while everyone else flew on to Spokane (for a previously planned vacation and Chad's cousin's wedding).  It was a gross mistake, and we still don't know what happened, but the lady helping us kindly fixed it. It took way too long and had us running late, but one of the airport guards led us through a special line and we had no problem getting on our flight.  The boys were very well behaved,  Carina was busy but relatively happy, and none of it was as bad as it could have been.  






Oh, and the pilot saw us waiting for the flight, chatted it up with the boys, and  invited them up to the cockpit when we boarded.  It sure made their day a lot brighter and started the flight off well.









So I am in California now.  Chad and the boys are in Spokane.  I already miss them and I am exhausted.  I keep thinking though, about that man who turned my wallet in, the lady who calmly fixed my ticket this morning, the fun pilot, and the kind man who sat next to me and Carina on the second flight, and I am just grateful.  To them and to my Heavenly Father,



Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Field Trip Friday–Carolinas Aviation Museum

Last Friday we went to the Carolinas Aviation Museum.   Believe it or not, this humble little museum, tucked away by the airport, houses the Miracle on the Hudson.  I did not expect to be so touched by seeing it, but it brought tears to my eyes.  There was a great volunteer there, who heard Colin talking about some other airplanes he learned about on a field trip there, and he jumped on Colin’s enthusiam, trailing us for most of our trip and explaining things.  He talked to us about the passengers of Flight 1549 standing on the front wings as they evacuated, and pointed out some dents towards the front of the plane from bird strikes.  It was just amazing to see this beast of a plane, broken up in so many areas, and know that it is broken up in just the right ways to have landed without anyone inside dying. 

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There was a movie playing, and the two oldest boys really got into it.  As we were looking at the plane and watching the movie, I felt this sinking feeling and thought, “Uh, maybe it wasn’t a good idea for the kids to see this less than a week before we fly across the country.”  Carina was getting super fussy during the movie and we needed to leave, but I stayed until the plane landed safely because I wanted them to have the last images of safety stuck in their heads. 

There were a lot of really neat airplanes there – I am sure someone who knows more about that kind of stuff would enjoy it even more than I did.  I had to take a picture of Colin in front of a Concorde model because he used to be obsessed with it.  And I the picture of Ollie is in front of what he calls a “Surfjack.”

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Just a note, if you do go, the hangar that houses all these cool planes is not air-conditioned and it gets hotter in there than it does outside.  We went right when the museum opens at ten, and we were sweating. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Keepin’ It Real Wednesday

Last Monday, I tried a new plant- strong recipe – Red Lentil Dahl, served over brown rice.  Bursting with exotic flavors and loaded with nutrients, I was planning to take a picture and post it as a Meatless Monday recipe. 

I tasted it as it cooked.  One of the spices was completely overpowering (was it the whole tablespoon of coriander? probably),  but since the last step was to add in one more spice, I figured that star-of-a-spice was going to to balance everything out. 

I was wrong.  It was so awful that I couldn’t eat more than a few bites.  I will eat just about anything, so you can trust that it was just basically inedible. As Chad said, it tasted like gargling dishsoup. Dishsoap with lentils.  I can’t tell you how much I hate spending time on a pot of good, healthy food, and then tossing it in the trash. I heated up some chili beans to dump on top off our brown rice, and that was dinner.  Yes, rice and beans. Healthy, yes. Satisfying, no.

We had Family Home Evening later.  I taught the lesson, and Colin, who was in charge of the activity, decided to team up with Gabe, who was in charge of treat, for a very classy combination of the two:  a trip to the nearest gas station, which recently made the transition into a 7 Eleven.  The plan was for the boys to partake of their first-ever Slurpees.  By the way, the boys thought we were calling them Slurpees as a joke and would not believe that was their real name until they saw it written on the cup (maybe we tease too much?).  Everytime they said it, they laughed.  SLURPEES! So funny.

After they filled their cups with the icy sugar water, they saw the greasy hot dogs and corndogs spinning on their rollers, and droll started dripping from their chins.  I could almost hear their rice-and-bean-filled stomachs growling as they begged us for them.  I looked at Chad, who I was sure was feeling as hungry as me, and we caved.

Which is how it became  Meaty Monday.  Classy, sugary, Meaty Monday. YUM.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Father’s Day 2012

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A common phrase around here is, “Save us, fun Dad!” 

Chad has a reputation for being the more easy-going parent, the one who makes everyone laugh, and yes, the one who bends the rules a little sometimes.  He has earned his Fun Dad status, because while I use Mother’s Day as an excuse to get some alone time, he uses Father’s Day as an excuse to do something special with the boys. The last few years, he has taken the boys to a movie on the Saturday before Father’s Day.  This time it was Madagascar 3 with Taco Bell afterward.  They all came home laughing at inside jokes and singing (over and over again) an annoying circus song.

On Sunday, Chad got to sleep in a little and then we served him breakfast in bed – delcious vegan french toast with berried syrup.  Then before he had to leave for his meetings, we gathered around and read some questionairres the kids filled out about him (I am sure you have seen dozens on Pinterest.   Some of the answers were quite entertaining, and Colin was very satified with how many he got “correct.”  Gabe and Colin both guessed his weight to be about 30 + lbs over what it actually is, which makes me glad there aren’t surveys for Mother’s Day with weight questions! 

I love these pictures, because you can tell how much they just adore their Daddy.

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After church, I made him some yummy pseudo-mexican food (his favorite) and then we had my parents, my sister Lindsey with her family (they just moved here!), and my brother Bobby with his family, over for dessert.  It was nice to celebrate with more of the wonderful fathers I have in my life, especially my own great Dad.  Believe it or not, I did not take any pictures that evening. 

This was what I woke up to the next day.   It was a good reminder of all the fun. 

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Summer Schedule: Field Trip Fridays

One more aspect of our summer schedule that I came up with last year was Field Trip Fridays.  I don’t want the kids to feel like every day of the summer has to be full of activities galore – most of our time will be spent doing fun things in our neighborhood or getting things done – but there are definitely places I love to take them.  So I settled on one “field trip” every Friday.  We get to put away our responsibilities for the morning and take off to do something exciting.  The kids really look forward to it, and are very satisfied with our day-to-day activities the rest of the week, knowing that “Field Trip Friday” is coming up.

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Last Friday we headed to the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden for their “Summer of Color” and it was fantastic.  We had an unseasonably cool first week of summer, and the weather was perfect – 70’s and breezy.  If you are a faithful reader, you know that we love the garden.  We have had an annual membership there since we moved into this house five years ago, and my kids are familiar with every twist and turn.  The first stop is always the willow maze.  We were delighted to see these gourds (?) growing up some of the willow branches……

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As we were admiring them, a bird flapped out of the willows with a few loud chirps, which lead us to discover this….

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…right at the kid’s eye level.  They oohed and ahhed over it.  It was just delightful.

 

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After a quick snack, we checked out the vegetable garden.  I love the brightly painted bamboo stakes they have used for plant supports. 

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The garden was very just bursting with life, and so vibrant and lush.  June might be my favorite month there.

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This picture reminded me of one of my favorite trips to the garden,which I posted about here.

And this picture reminded me off this post.  Boy, those boys were sure cute. 

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Carina shrieked to get out of the stroller whenever we came near a fountain, which was quite often, and she always insisted on grabbing a plastic baggie out of the stroller (that had a peach pit in it), and carrying it with her.  I guess a girl has to have her purse with her, huh?

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The water features are definitely the favorite part of the garden for all the kids.  The water tunnel is always the highlight – there is a sign that says, “Take a chance! But you may get wet.”  Gabe guarantees that he will get wet.  If the water isn’t on when we get there, he will stand in the middle until it comes on.  I was just pulling my camera out as he stood there on Friday, and I managed to snap there pictures.  They make me smile.

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Add in a few lizards sighting, orchids, visiting the finches, “secret” passageways, and lots of laughter….it was the perfect trip.  If you are looking for a soul-refreshing day, I would highly recommend a trip the the Daniel Stowe Botanical Garden.  It is definitely getting hotter this week, but they are also open every Thursday evening during the summer.  Evenings there are even more soothing. 

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Summer schedule: Chore apprentices

June2012Last year I put a lot of thought and energy into planning how we would spend our time as a family during the summer.  I want my two school age kids to have some carefree summer moments, but I also want to make the most of the time I get with them.  I want to use our days very deliberately.

  I knew that some of that time needed to be spent teaching them that everyone in our family needs to contribute to keeping our home clean.  I was a slob as a child, and I still battle my bad habits.  My parents definitely tried to teach me better, so I know firsthand that kids can be awful about doing chores.  How could I teach my kids to learn the satisfaction of a job well done?

I have been really happy with the idea I came up with and I am using it again this year.  For the summer, they are my apprentices. 

We work side by side, mastering the art of cleaning.  Colin is my bathroom apprentice.  Once a week, I have an hour worked into our schedule where we clean the bathrooms together – top to bottom.  Gabe is my kitchen apprentice, so I do the same with him in the kitchen. Here are some important tips for making this happen:

1.  Make a list of everything that you need to do in the room, in the order it needs to happen. Make it as detailed as possible.   Trust me on this.   This will keep both of you on track, and it makes the job seem far less overwhelming if you can focus on one small task at a time.  It also helps your child to learn not do a sloppy job – they have to remember all the small details. 

2.  If you have more than one child, find a way to keep the other ones busy.  My solution (this is one of my favorite parts of the apprenticeships):  while Colin is working with me, it is Gabe’s “chore” to play with his other two siblings.  He plays what they want to play, he helps them, and he keeps them busy.  Oliver really eats this up.  He loves to have the attention of his brother.  On Gabe’s day, Colin does it.  If they fight with them or stop taking care of them, they have to help clean.

3.  Take it seriously, and make them take it seriously. You are teaching them something that is important.  Don’t allow them to slack off.  You will be tempted to just take over and do it yourself sometimes, but don’t.  They won’t know how to do some of the simplest tasks, but  patiently teach them to the basics.  They must at least try their best, which brings me to my next point…..

4.  You will get pushback, especially in the beginning.  There will be times when one of your kids absolutely refuses to cooperate, or they complain while they are working. Create consequences for misbehavior while they are working with you, but never consequences that allow them to get out of the work.  For example, I will send the refuser to their room for a specified time.  I don’t work without them while they are in time out.  After the time is over, we pick right back up where we left off.  There are always fun activities planned for later in the day, and those activities do not happen until we finish with chores. 

So, now that I have painted a not-too-fun picture, let me share with you some things I love about this little program.

  • For starters, my bathroom and kitchen get scrubbed once a week.  This is always my goal, but it so does not happen during the school year.  With this program, I have to do both tasks every week, because it would be completely unfair if I did one and not the other.
  • Once my kids get into a groove, they talk to me a lot.  We get great one and one time. 
  • I am really proud that I am teaching my boys to clean.   I think their wives will thank me someday.
  • My kids have (slowly) started to learn that it is so much easier to just buckle down and work than put it off or complain about it.
  • They have learned that they are old enough to do things they thought they couldn’t do, and I have been surprised to find that they get really excited about doing some new things, like mopping and scrubbing toilets.
  • They gain confidence in themselves.  Self esteem comes through real accomplishments, and teaching them like this does so much more for them than anything I tell them.

Let me mention that these aren’t the only two chores they are do.  We also have morning chores and afternoon chores that they do without me.  These are just huge chores that I wanted them to learn how to tackle with confidence. 

So, how about you?  What have you found to be successful in teaching your children to learn how to work and to take responsibility for your home’s cleanliness?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

This age

 

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When I give Carina a bath, her wet baby hair streams down the back of her neck and I think,  “My baby is growing up.”  She may still have a round little belly and short, chubby legs, but those legs know how to climb the ladder to the top of the bunk bed. 

Just last week, instead of screaming for help down from the couch, she flattened down on her belly, swung her legs around and lowered them until her feet hit the ground.  Just like that, with all the confidence in the world, the first time she tried.  What? I’m like, 14 months old now, Mom.  Get over it.

Sure, this age is hard.  But it is also completely magical.  We are all suckers for her flirtations.  She will slide up to Chad on the couch, give him a huge smile and then sprawl her whole body out on top of him, head thrown back.  If Ollie is on the ground, she plops her diaper butt right on his back, giggling and shaking her shaggy head.  When we pick Colin and Gabe up from school she calls, “CAH CAH CAH” , like a crow, over and over again, until Colin talks to her.  If Gabe spreads a blanket on the ground, she immediately struts over and has a seat, so that he can drag her around the floor for one of her princess parades.

And me?  I am smitten over and over again, everyday.  When I lift her from bed each morning, warm and clammy, and her tears immediately end as she drapes her little arms around my neck.  When I am folding the laundry and she grabs each piece of clothing that is hers, trying to drape it over her head.  When she points to a bird outside the window and flaps her arms with a huge smile.  When I stroke her soft, gorgeous face, over and over again as her eyes droop towards sleep every night. 

It is not an original thought, but over and over I think it: I just want to bottle this preciousness up and remember and cherish it forever.  I want to soak in her smell and cuddle her sweet soft body and make time stand still.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Keepin’ It Real Wednesday

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Gabe’s end-of-the-year party was today.  Sabina offered to watch Ollie and Carina while I went, but I just used her on Monday for Colin’s party, and this was supposed to be an easy-going little get-together, so I opted to take them with. 

I loaded our sit-and-stand stroller with cupcakes for Gabe’s class, cheerios, a sippy cup and toys for Carina, and of course Carina and Ollie, and hauled it into a spot by a little table in the back of Gabe’s class.  The teacher started out by having the kids sing, and soon she brought the kids to the front, one by one.  They read from a portfolio in Chinese and everyone clapped. Cute, fun, very nice.  Only this:  each one was taking almost 5 minutes.  And she wasn’t going straight through.  She stopped every two or three kids and had them sing two or three songs.  There are 25 kids in the class.  You do the math. 

Carina was great for the first half hour, which for her is almost amazing. The second that she wriggled out of her straps and stood up in her seat, I knew we were in trouble.  The stroller spell was broken and she would never ever sit still again. And then she:

Screamed when I tried to help her with her cheerios.

Screamed when I tried to help her sit in one of the little chairs.

Fell out of the chair.

Screamed when I tried to help her drink a juice box.

Threw the juice box on the ground.

Got happy when the teacher’s assistant got out a puppet to play with.

Screamed when she saw there were dolly puppets she wasn’t playing with.

Screamed when I only gave her two of the those puppets.

And on and on and on for two and a half hours.  I tried to think what I could possibly do.   I couldn’t leave until Gabe was done because he was coming home with me.  I couldn’t take her in the hall, where her screaming would interrupt the rest of the classes.  I could only give in to her screams and try and hard as I possibly could to keep her lips zipped.

And so I was that parent today, in front of a dozen other parents. I will do whatever the heck you want, dear child, just shut the heck up.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Does he look horrified?

Gabe had a very loose front tooth for awhile.  It was quite the tooth – he had a cavity eat away part of it when he was only two.  We got it filled in, but the filling came out, leaving it crooked and jagged. .  The tooth behind it was pushing it forward, adding to it’s wretchedness, and we affectionately called it “snaggletooth.”  Every time that snaggletooth flashed at me, my fingers ached to reach out and just snatch it out of his mouth.  He actually let me pull one of his teeth out a few weeks ago, but this one had a little root on it that made it a little painful to wiggle, and the tooth in the back was already giving it less wiggle room.

 

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When we went to visit Levi and Audra, Audra felt the same pull that I did – let me just yank it!  She talked Gabe into letting her use her tried and proven teeth pulling technique.  It didn’t work the first couple of times because the jagged edge of his tooth was tearing the dental floss she was using and he was just left with bleeding gums.  So she braided the floss, and offered him two dollars to try again.  His response? 
A quick nod and, “Let me get a paper towel.”

Here is what happened next.