Sunday, August 26

A Sneak Peek at our School Room

I have a long post brewing about our new school room, but I haven't put pen to paper yet, so to speak.  Ryan and I painted our upstairs gameroom, which really had no purpose up to this point, but will now be our school room.  We built some desks for the kids and painted a coffee table from freecycle.  We have two free couches and a free chair, some hand-me-down bookshelves, and a few other various very cheap/free items, that had all been placed in this room because we had no other place for them in our house.  So the room is sort of a hodge podge of stuff, and doesn't look like the beautiful school rooms I see on other people's cute blogs, but I think it's going to function very well for us!

A few before pictures:
this color is the color that our entire house was before we started to paint downstairs.  only a few rooms of this color are left!

As I moved the furniture, I saw some writing on the wall that Beth had left from last year... Just a few pencil letters and stick figures but it was sort of sweet to stumble upon them. :-)

My 30th Birthday Party

We celebrated my 30th birthday by throwing a huge party on Saturday, August 18.  We had over 50 people come, and my father-in-law told me at one point he counted over 25 children in our playroom alone!  We had guests inside and outside...Until it started raining hard enough that even under the tent was too wet!  WOW what an experience to have so many people inside our home... And all downstairs!

I had so much fun seeing friends that I hadn't seen all summer long, and making memories with new friends and old alike!  I am so blessed to have such loving and fun friends and family!  I'd post pictures online of my friends but I'm not sure who'd be okay with that and who wouldn't, so I'll leave the pics to before-and-after. :-)

Here are the after-party pics, ha!  That night we had a big storm and well... You'll see...

Tuesday, August 21

Starting Up

 This week was our kick-off into fall activities, though we won't start school until next week (Aug 27th).  Beth started ballet on Monday, she's at the same studio again and I keep having to re-count to make sure this is accurate, but this is her 4th year.  Yes, that's right!  She started when she was 2, almost 3! 

 I hesitate to say this but I think the boys will be easier this year.  We always head outside to play while Beth is in class, because the waiting room is small and the boys are better off playing outside anyway. :-)

 I didn't have a chance to take many photos of Beth since I was outside with the boys, but I took this one through the window and liked it, she looks so grownup and serious to me.  I know she's growing up, but something about her this year just makes her seem so much older.

 And today Luke started gymnastics again!  He is in the same age group but in a different class, with mostly boys.  He loves his class and says his favorite part is the trampoline.  He always looks like he's having tons of fun!
(he chose to pose like this on his own)

And of course, little Jack is a trooper, playing with me while his older siblings are in their classes.  He's sort of a goober, staring at me, smiling, then running away to see if I'll chase him.  At ballet he runs for the parking lot, and in gymnastics he runs to try to ring the bell that hangs on the wall for the gymnasts. You know he's laughing the whole time.  I wonder what this little boy is going to want to do when he's a bit older...

Sunday, August 19

Ryan's Birthday

Birthday Brunch!  We had special chocolate chip waffles with whipped cream, and mimosas for Mommy and Daddy!
 Happy Birthday Ryan!  We love you and we hope you had a great day!  Thank you for "giving up" your birthday celebration this year so that we could have my party.  Today was all about you, from a special brunch (which made for happy kids- maybe we should always put chocolate chips in their waffles?) to a looong afternoon nap, to some lazy evening grilling and dinner.  I hope you had a nice day, despite having to do some serious post-party cleanup!  Thank you for being the "king" of our house, we love you!
A new CD, a complete surprise since I had no idea who the band was or what song they sang that Ryan liked.  I'm sort of magical though, and somehow figured it out. ;-)

A new trick!

Random picture- but I have gourds growing!  A seed from a tossed-out gourd from last fall actually grew, and it's taking over our fence.  I love it!

It goes all the way to the back gate, I've only counted a handful of actual gourds growing but there are so many flowers!

Daddy with his 3 babies. <3>

Homemade Play Doh

 I can't believe it took me so long to make our own play doh.  When Beth went gluten free, I ordered some very nice Aroma Dough, but as nice as it was it was pricey!  It's recently gotten too gross to use anymore so we tried making our own, and since we used gluten free flour and tapioca starch, it wasn't was expensive as the aroma dough, that's for sure!  I also used a few drops of lavender oil to make it smell nice.  It came our with a great texture but it's pretty sticky and while I know how to knead it without making a huge mess, the boys have a harder time and it winds up sticking to the table and all over their cookie cutters, which in turn frustrates them.  We'll need to try a new recipe soon and try to make it less sticky.

Saturday, August 11

Right now

Sharing a gluten free cupcake with my gluten free girl.

Wednesday, August 8

Right now

Daddy has two helpers today!

Tuesday, August 7

Wednesday, August 1

How to Miss a Childhood

I've had this on my mind a lot lately, and I'll go ahead and apologize now if this post turns into a vent of sorts.  However, there's something I need to say, and where better than to say it than on my own blog where I'm the boss. ;-)

I read this article the other day, called How to Miss a Childhood.  She discusses how smart phones have pulled some Moms away from their children.  It's something that is close to my heart.

Since texting became popular a few years ago, I remember being around certain people who had their phone almost literally glued to their hands.  Not their pockets- in their hands, like it was another finger.  As soon as the phone would chime, it would be answered immediately, usually this involved the other person texting back for a few minutes, in their own little world, not hearing what I was saying and practically forgetting that we were in the same room together.  I remember how it made me feel mad, angry, and just a little worthless.  Was I not worth this person's undivided attention?  What was so much more interesting than me?

Flash forward a few years to the age of smart phones.  It seemed almost everyone I knew had a smart phone, and that just as bad if not worse than texting because you could log on to Facebook, blogs, or silly websites that are apparently more entertaining than me.  Seriously, it hurt my feelings and was insulting.

I got a smart phone in April 2011, my excuse was that it was for business.  I wanted to be able to get online for information for clients, check my emails, and access Google maps while on my way to a client's home.  But, I felt so hurt by my previous encounters with smart phone users, that I promised myself I would never be that way.  Heh.

I definitely have good days and bad days, some days I'm online more than I'd like to be but I understand the interest now.  It is seriously an addiction, and I can see how people can become obsessed with checking the latest information, as useless as some of it is.

So when I read this article and the other article she links to, I felt like I could really relate because I have been on both sides.  I have felt angry and neglected, but I'm an adult.  I can only imagine how this sort of modern neglect makes our children feel.  They don't understand that I'm checking my email or texting a friend.  They only know that I'm not listening to what I'm saying, even though I've told them so many times that I'll always be there to hear what they're saying.

When I'm tempted to check my phone, I have to consider whyWhy do I need to log on at this very second?  What is so important that I am willing to not be fully present to my children here in this moment?  Am I going to get pulled in by an interesting article and then snap at my kids if they interrupt me?  Am I going to find something I'd rather pull up on my computer?  What sort of example am I setting for my kids?  How am I influencing them positively right now?

I've considered that this is maybe the modern version of soap operas, which were so popular long ago.  (Are they still popular?)  I'm sure plenty of kids were "neglected" to Moms who wanted to watch tv, or maybe Moms who were avid book readers, or other hobbies.  I also am firmly convinced that Mommies absolutely need a break here and there during the day, so I've tried to come up with my own personal rules for my smart phone and computer usage.  (TV isn't a problem in our house since we don't have cable and I absolutely despise daytime programming!)  I wanted to share my rules here so that my friends and family can hold me accountable:

1. Respect.  Be fully present in the conversation with the person I'm engaged with, not half-surfing and half-talking.  I want the phone out of my hand so that I can give my children or my company my full attention.  Please allow me a little leeway if I'm on-call for a client!

2. Limitations.  I want to avoid using my smart phone for the purpose of anything other than a phone while my kids are I are home together during the day.  I do realize that there are times when a client may need to talk to me or I may be anticipating an important email, but Facebook, Pinterest, and other similar websites are off-limits.

3. Texting.  I'm not a huge texter but if someone wants to engage me in a conversation, please just call me.  Texting back-and-forth for an hour is probably normal, but the never-ending wonder of, "Did she text me back?" and checking my phone takes distracts me and takes me away from my kids.  So, text if you just have a quick question or statement, but I just have to stop the long conversations.  That, and I'm not on an unlimited texting plan either. ;-)

4. I will allow myself online time during the kid's rest time every day, so hopefully if you see me on Facebook that means they're resting or under someone else's care.

The purpose of all of this isn't to make my life harder or whatever, I feel like in order to be truly free to be a mother I have to set limitations for myself.  Self-control has never been a strong virtue for me!  But the other purpose is the whole golden rule thing... Treat others the way you want to be treated.  I want my kids to grow up knowing that I was there for them all the time, not just sometimes.  I want them to learn how to respect each other, and they'll learn not by what I say, but what I do. 

Please read both How to Miss a Childhood and The Children Have Spoken, and I encourage you to evaluate your own smart phone usage in your family.  Here's the question posed at the end of The Children Have Spoken:

What would your child (teenager, grandchild, significant other, friend) say if you asked, “Do you think I use my phone (Blackberry, iPad, laptop) too much?”

If you really want to know the truth, ask them. Assure your family members and friends you want to know the truth so you can begin to live more presently and more connected to them.

I am scared to ask my children.  They have elephant's memories and could probably tell me every time I was on my phone for the last year!  I am hoping that I won't be scared to ask them, maybe around Christmas I can ask them if they've seen improvement.

I don't want to miss anymore.  Some of my memories of their childhood are so foggy, probably from the baby blues I was dealing with, but I don't want to miss anymore of their childhoods.  These days are going by too quickly.  And I don't want to miss anymore moments with these special babies.

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