Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Importance of Men

Men bring about a dynamic that women typically can't emulate in a family setting. Even though I sometimes roll my eyes (either internally or externally) at their antics, I'm grateful for their presence.

Stuck in the daily locomotion of getting kids corralled out the door on time for school, eagle-eyeing what they watch and say, and guiding who they spend their time with, I often forget that I've checked my sense of humor at the door, um, about six years ago.

It's a small price to pay on most days. I think I've got it all figured out (ha ha) so I'm going to go full speed ahead to prove that I'm doing it the best way ... that is until they turn into teens and remind me that I'm utterly and completely clueless about pretty much everything. ;)

Until then, Ben and I rule the roost, but differently of course. Ben's a jokester. Which, again, I'm not. Beyond, knock knock, who's there jokes. I've got nothin'. So his shinanigans crack me up but yet I sometimes wonder when he goes full steam ahead on the sarcasm train with the girls or tells them lie-jokes about eating broccoli for dessert. But, I sigh, smile and remember that's why kids have two parents. One that can kid with them and one that they know isn't always full of bologna! ;)

But then steps in more male antics from influential family members. It's funny to me that with family out of town, I forget sometimes the positive effects the different people in our circle of life also have. That is, until we go visit them or they come visit us.

My uncle came to visit my parents and us this week. And like when my brothers come to visit, I am reminded two things. One -- I take things way too seriously. and Two -- kids need teasing. (In a healthy way of course.)

My brothers and my uncle and my dad love to tease the girls. It's super dooper fun to watch because often the kids do not know what to do with it. They are so used to the grown ups telling them what to do, encouraging them, or playing normal games with them. They are NOT used to people threatening to stuff them in trash cans, tie their shoes together or hide their toys. They are not used to pranks, people stealing their noses, or pretending to write a letter to Santa.

"Dear Santa, Saylah has been very bad this year. Do not bring her any toys." 
~ Uncle Matt

"Dear Santa, Uncle Matt is lying. He should not get anything ever. Please bring me a microphone." 
Love, Saylah

It is great to watch this unfold. It reminds my kids that even grown ups can be silly. Really silly. And it teaches them to have a sense of humor and not take themselves too seriously either. I grew up with these things too. My dad and uncle used to spank my dolls and I'd get SO upset. Yes, I've been stuffed in a trash can and have had my shoes tied together in a crazy mess of a knot on more than one well-deserved occasion.

My uncle taught us each to howl like a wolf, lay an egg, oh and to snipe hunt. My favorite. It was hillarious to watch the tradition continue on Memorial Day as the wolf-howling was passed from generation to generation when Dad and Uncle Dan taught Isaac to howl. (see video)

Tuesday morning Saylah woke up to find her shoes in a knotted mess. And I'm pretty sure the antics will be coming all week while my he's here. The teasing doesn't stop with the kids. And for that I'm "thankful" ... I suppose. ;) When I left this morning to work, Isaac was jabbering "cookie, cookie, cookie, cookie" thanks to my uncle; who I believe spoke that for my benefit rather than Isaac's. And I was texted that the baby likes strawberry frappaccino, too. Sigh, the antics of men. We're lucky to have them. They remind us all to not be so serious. Kids won't break from too much sugar every once in a while, howling like a wolf, or even being stuffed in a trash can.

I'm grateful my kids get to experience uncles, great uncles and grandpas. Without these influential men in our lives, they wouldn't be as tough as they will be, wouldn't learn how to take a joke as well, nor would they have the good sense not to mess with someone who is wiser, older and bigger than them. ;) At least not more than once.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Insider Knowledge ;-)

I love top Tens. They often make me laugh. So I thought I'd entertain you all with some of the things I've learned over the last couple of years, formated in a Top Ten of my own. 
Happy Friday! 

Top Ten: What I've Learned So Far
(warning ... these are deep! ;) )

10. You can teach a child to toot in the bathroom … at least most of the time.

9. You'll never tire of seeing the wonderment in your child as she learns something new. 

8. If you ask your children to “entertain themselves” while you talk on the phone, they’ll graciously answer “okay” and two seconds later ask you for a snack.

7. You won’t have to wait until they are teens for them to know it all. That seems to start around age 4. So does best friends, holding hands and sharing secrets.  

6. Terrible Twos is a myth -- it's really the threes! Watch out! 

5. Little boys DO jump around more than girls, they think it’s funny to hit their sisters and they get a twinkle in their eyes when you tell them no … at least mine does. But he's still sympathetic when his sister has to sit in time out. 

4. Be careful teaching them about how babies arrive in this world … they may share that with their preschool class.

3. There is NO good name for little boy and girl parts – but you’ll need something so you can make sure they’ve been wiped, covered or washed.

2. According to Audrey when she was three, “elephants like peanuts and Isaac has one.”

1. Never stick your hand out when your eyes are closed in response to: “Here Mommy.” Next line may sound like: “It’s from my tooshie.” 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I am NOT the Energizer Bunny

I’ve been thinking a lot about re-energizing lately. Not simply relaxing. I’m trying to figure out what it is that I like to do that really recharges me, gives me that extra zing in my step that helps me wake up tomorrow and set the world ablaze.

I am a very active person (some would state “too active”), but I definitely am blessed to get my fill of fun activities. My husband is really good about supporting me whenever I have another idea of something I want to do. He graciously takes over the task of getting dinner on the table, baths done, squabbles solved and whatever other nuance that may come about, taken care of – solo – so that I can go out with friends, go for a run, go to violin lessons. You name it … he supports it.

But as the day comes to an end, I’m drained as I sit here and type. My ears spy the beginnings of a sibling squabble … when the girls should be sleeping. I can’t quite make out what they are arguing about. Typically it stems from someone not listening to the other. Little voices of indignation marbled with crying, vehemently push their point. Wait. Now Saylah is singing the Star Spangled Banner while her sister is quiet. Squabble resolved. Thank God I didn’t need to go up there.

Ahh, and this is why there is not regular re-energizing. I love doing all the things that I do, but I find myself at a point where I need to be intentional in defining my precise concoction for refreshment. I’m still seeking something that will fully re-charge me after a long week of hybrid-Mommy-hood. (Definition: Hybrid Mommy: Half business woman/ half stay-at-home mom)

For me, the one thing that really gets me ticking is when I take my Girl Scout troop camping for the weekend. Crazy I know. But as exhausting as that is, I see the lives of teens influenced by some pretty cool things and I come home ready and raring to be the best woman I can be! The problem with this scenario is that I can’t go camping every weekend. I mean, sure Ben’s supportive, but that may inspire him to tell me to live in that tent permanently!

Having an idea of what type of thing refreshes you is the first step though. Have you ever pondered that? If you are feeling run down, on any given day, it’s probably because you need to take a little time out for you. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but that time for you is really for them too. So no need to feel guilty about it; a refreshed person = a better person.

As a parent, whether you work full time, part time, stay at home, home school, live with your parents, are single, are married, have little ones, have big ones, have many many ones … you name it, we all need to recharge.

It makes us happier people. It makes us better parents. It makes us think more clearly. It increases creativity. It centers us back to our authentic self. (These are not my assertions by the way … they are actually scientifically proven.)

So, here I am at 9:04 on a Tuesday night … I’ve been home all day, practicing Audrey’s letters in flour, teaching Isaac sign language, folding laundry, straightening up the house, writing copy for my clients, talking to people in California, taking kids to swim lessons, and going to violin lessons, all to culminate with a salad for dinner and a glass of water as I sit and type my blog. I’m still pondering, what is it that I would like to regularly do that will remind me of who I am, in hope of sharing my authentic self every day to my husband, children, friends and family.

Can you relate? What do you do to re-energize?

If you aren’t sure … ponder what activity you like to do that really gets you back to feeling like you.

I hope you’ll join me in this valuable quest to find your specific answer. Good luck!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Dino Dig

So my Mom told me the other day of an interesting conversation Saylah and she had. If you don’t know me super well, you should probably know, I’m incredibly passionate about my relationship with Christ. I began to get to know Him as an adult, maybe nearly 7 or 8 years ago so I also feel really blessed to get to share what I’m learning with my children.

That being said, I believe Saylah seems to have a special connection with God. I’ve always said, if Say says God told her something in her heart … well, He probably did. For Pete’s sake, the girl’s name means “to pause and reflect on God’s word” and I sincerely think she does.
So it was interesting when my Mom told me we had a little evolution vs. creation conversation going on in our home the other day. No biggie really, as Saylah doesn’t even know the two camps exist yet. She knows that not everyone knows God but she doesn’t of course know that there are wars over this conversation that she posed to my mom.

I guess after school, Saylah and grandma were hanging out and Saylah, who recently created a cool dinosaur village picture, must have had dinos on the brain. She inquired, “Grandma, if Adam and Eve came first. How did the dinosaurs exist?”
My mom, a little taken aback by the deep conversation ambush did a fabulous job answering Saylah’s questions. She explained yes Adam and Eve were the first PEOPLE, but God created all the animals of the earth before then, right? Say concurred and then asked, “Yeah, but how did the dinosaurs get buried if there were no people?” Which lead my mom to talk about sedimentation. She went as far as talking about, if something is on the beach and the wind blows, that object gets covered by the sand, right?

Saylah pondered for a bit and remarked, “What if the dinosaurs never existed and people just spread a bunch of big bones all around making it look like they did?”
Here’s what I find funny about this statement (beyond the obvious mental image of people running around spreading big dino-sized bones around the world):  MOST skeptics when challenged with God and evolution, choose the side of evolution. I’ve never heard anyone really say, maybe the dinosaurs were the fake out. I know there are arguments about that, but that seems silly to me since we can of course prove that dinos existed (regardless of how they were buried, right?) ;)

God tells us to have faith like a child and I think Saylah shows us here what He means by that. When questioned with what we can see and what we cannot, she erroneously thought she had to pick one or the other so she chose God.

She’ll of course learn that dinosaurs were, in fact, real. I can’t really answer scripturally why they aren’t mentioned in the Bible. But here’s the thing, at all points in our life I believe we encounter times when we question our faith. And I personally think that’s okay, it can help reaffirm what we believe and know.

I also think that all three of my kids will at some point question if what they believe is really what THEY believe. And I welcome that. Faith because I told you to is not faith. But I am glad that Saylah isn’t questioning it just yet. =) 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Tale of the Tail

So Audrey likes playing kitty cat. I mean ... "likes" is an understatement. She likes playing so much so that several things have resulted in my household from this pretend play. One. I dread when she meows. Two. Saylah won't even play it with her anymore. And three. Isaac is now crawling around on all fours acting like a cat, too. Fabulous.

But what cracks me up every time she plays kitty cat is that she has to have a tail. Which, makes sense, why would you be a tail-less cat? But at any given moment if you glance at her cute little hiney, you might find something sticking from the back of her pants.

For example, she and her cohort in this game, to be secretively named AK ;) were running around the preschool playground just the other day with weeds sticking out of their back ends ... My friend alarmedly asked ... "What is THAT sticking out of Audrey's pants?!?" "A tail." She looked at me so oddly ... her kiddo isn't quite old enough to discover attaching a tail I think.

Well AK is about the only living being who will still play this game with her ... and for that I am eternally grateful. ;)

So here's my cute little 4-year-old daughter, brilliant, passionate and incredibly opinionated about what she'll wear every day. Unless it involves ... a tail. I've seen her as a princess cat, dressed to the nines in a purple Rapunzel dress and a long towel hanging out of the back ... tail, not hair. I've seen her as a chef, with blue apron tied on her and paper (hand made) tail attached to her pants.

The funny thing, like I said, she is really particular about what she wears. Seriously, the other day I swear to you she was crying because her soccer shorts were too long and she didn't want to wear them. I'm pretty sure she took them off and hid them in the playroom before Ben came out to get her ready for her game. But today, a school day, this little diva donned her super cute outfit (which she hated btw) and the only way I could convince her to wear it was because her sister told her she could use the belt as a tail instead of tying it correctly.

You know what? I let her. Sure did. She wore a tail to preschool. And I'm sure when her teachers offered to tie it correctly, most likely thinking Mommy wasn't running on all cylinders this morning, she probably informed them "no thanks, that's my tail."

I so wonder what they thought about that .... You know what? If you can't wear a tail when you're in preschool ... when CAN you wear one?