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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Family Pictures

We made it! And, we have the proofs to prove it! Now, comes the hard(est) part—narrowing down our choices!
Which ones would you pick?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Confessional

Let me begin my saying how much I appreciated all of the encouraging comments I received after my last post on my unfinished Easter craft/baking/super-mom list. It seems you all like the imperfect me.

Because I know I can count on you, dear readers, for unwavering support and a knowing head nod, I feel like I can dump a few confessions out on this Friday, confident that you won't judge (at least not publicly)! Heck, you may even like me better.

On parenting

I confess... it was easier to parent when my kids didn't have an opinion. In a time not so long ago, I could give them any toy in the car and they were happy. Now, they know exactly which one they are pointing to and that's the only one they want. And, it's always the one I can't reach. Emily and Drew have both started to say "I don't like it."

"Oh, yes. Yes, you DO like it."

"No, I DON'T like it."

I confess...if it wasn't so darn exasperating, it would be cute.

I confess...we left the kids in the car, in the garage, with the windows down, to nap on Saturday. And, of course, the door to the house was open, too. We had a few last minute things to do for the house showing and we didn't want to run the risk of having them destroy the house before we could leave again waking them up.

On roots, wrinkles, and other superficial things

I confess...I was glad when my hair stylist agreed my roots didn't need a touch-up. I saved the cash, and more importantly, I saved the time.

I confess...I used the time (and money) saved to get new make-up, which I really needed, especially the "Well- Rested Under Eye Concealer" and a lipstick called "Courage."

I confess...we are finally ready for tomorrow's family picture session. It's quite a chore to pick out coordinating, but not too matchy-matchy, outfits for the entire family. Thankfully, the babies' newfound opinion doesn't extend to choice of clothing--yet.

On blogging about--anything

I confess...I haven't blogged much lately because I haven't felt like I had much to say. Sure, I could post pictures of our trip to the strawberry farm or the 5K I did on Saturday, but part of me thinks, "Who really wants to read about that?"

I confess...I am torn between how much of this blog should be about us and how much of it should be about more general interest stuff.

I confess...I really want to write about some heavier stuff--what it's like to battle anxiety, how I am still mourning from our miscarriage, why I unliked a blogger's Facebook page. But, part of me thinks, "Who really wants to read about that?"

I confess...I normally keep up with comments either with a reply email or a return visit. I haven't. I've just been trying to keep up. With life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our Easter Reality Show

My sister-in-law shared this oh-so-true article with me recently.

For sure, I have, at times, measured myself against the impossible yardstick that is Facebook, Pinterest, and the world of mommy blogs.

Take my recent Pinterest exploration for brown bag lunches. Emily and Drew needed to pack their lunch for a daycare picnic. Simple, right? Apparently not for a breed of super-moms who practice the art of making decorative bento box lunches. It’s food too pretty to eat made by moms with way more talent than me:


via Pinterest


I hope Emily and Drew didn’t mind their mommy didn’t make them a bento box. I hope they were okay with the fact that I just ended up cutting their ham and cheese with Easter-theme cookie cutters before tying their individual bags with pink and blue ribbons. (For the record, I did curl the ribbons)!

So, when I am feeling like my croissants aren't fluffy enough—heck, who am I kidding? I don’t bake croissants!

So, when I feel like I am too fluffy—there that’s more like it—I try to remember that the world any one of us projects online is just that—a projection.

Some choose to project just the highlight reel; others the bloopers. And somewhere in the middle of all of that projection is reality.

For me, I try to cut a wide swath and bring you a little bit of both.

In the interest of keeping it real, I thought I would share with you some of the fabulous Easter ideas I had pinned/planned that just didn’t happen or didn’t happen like I planned.

Easter cookies

Pinterest doesn't care about your skills or lack thereof; it taunts you all the same. I recognize my own limitations, though, which is why I have a Pinterest board entitled, "When I Learn to Bake." I had planned to start small with a batch of sugar cookies, which would look like this, of course:

Via Pinterest


After amassing all the necessary supplies and creating an enchanting little script in my mind of mommy and babies happily baking, we only half- fulfilled this fantasy production.

Easter cake

Okay, so I didn't really plan to bake a cake like this, but wouldn't it have been cool ending to our Easter day?

Via Pinterest


No spoilers here! While Mommy didn't deliver a winning (baking)performance, Grandma provided a happy ending when she whipped up this cute cake for the grandkids.



Dyed eggs

Again, we had all the props for a classic holiday tale: eggs, stickers, dye tablets, and even this kit that claimed to work like magic.
Image Credit

After googling instructions for boiling eggs (don't judge), we were ready to go. Our friends, Tamia and Tamara, and cousin, Kaelyn, joined us for the debacle fun.

I think the lesson I learned from this experience is there is no such thing as magic. We may have made more progress in a shorter period of time if we had just ditched the idea of "no spill" and just jumped into the whole egg coloring experience the old-fashioned way--mess and all.

Egg shakers

This idea was born from the realization that we needed a way to recycle the invasion of plastic eggs that had overtaken our house. My plan was to combine these two ideas:

via Pinterest


+


via Pinterest

=

one huge, unopened bag of rice in the pantry, an unopened package of neon food coloring, and 208 plastic eggs STILL under my couch.

Cotton ball bunny


Anyone need extra cotton balls?
via Pinterest




Despite the things we didn't do, my babies didn't mind or even notice.

I've come to learn that 22 month old toddlers don’t know the difference between Easter and Thanksgiving. The way I see it, I have enough craft supplies and baking materials to take us to Halloween.

What? You haven't heard the story of the cotton ball bunny who plays with plastic eggs in the pumpkin patch while eating sugar cookies?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Bet you are expecting Easter pictures...

Don't worry. I am sure I will post some pictures of our Easter fun soon.

Today, though, it's all about our new wheels.



Safety first


Trying to figure out where my feet should go


"You coming, Drew?"


It's easier when Daddy pushes...


Pure joy!


Let's go!


"Mommy and Daddy are coming too, right?"


Riding off into the sunset


Not everyone is excited about the new wheels. Some of our old friends are feeling, well, neglected.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Buckets full of Easter joy



"Here Come Peter Cottontail" has been new favorite book around our house for the last several weeks. We'll sing it in the car and Emily and Drew chime in on the very last word of each line--long and loud. Imagine...

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hoppin' down the bunny trail,
Hippity hoppin', Easter's on its W-AAAAAAAAAAA-Y!
Bringin' ev'ry girl and boy
A basketful of Easter joy
Things to make your Easter Bright and G-AAAAAAAAA-Y!


According to the word on the street, Peter Cottontail will not be bringing jelly beans for Drew or colored eggs for sister Emily. Mommy wouldn't mind orchids but Easter bonnets she doesn't do.

Instead my little ones will wake up to find buckets, not baskets, of stuff I probably shouldn't have bought because it is likely to be lost before we even make it to church Easter joy.

Here's a glimpse at what the Easter Bunny put together (on a pretty small budget, I might add).

Emily and Drew will both be getting a pair of pajamas. I found these cotton cuties at Wal-Mart for $5. We have several pair of them already and love them!


All tied up with a pretty ribbon (so I can fit everything into a bucket that is WAAAAAY too small!


I have relaxed a lot of the past year when it comes to what I allow Emily and Drew to eat, but I am still not ready to roll chocolate bunnies their way. Their baskets will have some Goldfish crackers, real fruit gummies and fruit strips, and raisins.


I love the Dollar Spot in Target! I picked up some cute books in the "Little Lessons" series--one is about being brave, another on being bossy, along with some Sesame Street items. And socks! Because who can have enough socks??


Drew is going to love all the ELMO!


I should have just stopped at the Dollar Spot, but apparently, I am lured in by cheap stuff from China that may or may not pose a choking/lead hazard to a toddler because...I bought some other "stuffers" at Wal-Mart. Like bubbles, a chirping chick, a necklace, and a comb and mirror set (for her new purse, obviously).


Her new purse! Seriously, how cute is this purse? I would totally carry this purse if I was 22 months old!


No, Drew isn't getting a purse or a man satchel. He's getting a new Biscuit book. He has the Christmas one and wants to read it every night. I don't think he'll be disappointed with Biscuit instead of bunny.


Now that we are exclusively using "big kid" cups, I am always looking for cute, unbreakable cups. I found these at-- yep, you guessed it--Target!


Little People cars


Play-Doh Stampers


and, my most favorite find...
The babies' first Bibles! I found these toddler Bibles at Ross for $2.99 each.


Now for the completed buckets of Easter joy. Peter Cottontail better have some big paws!



I am sure you've done the things you should and I know you've been extra good, so I can't wait to see what Peter Cottontail rolls your way!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Why We Won't Be Visiting the Easter Bunny This Year

After accidentally visiting Chick-fil-A on Family Night and running into their friendly cow mascots that looked something like this
Image Credit


and having Drew react like this


We decided to skip pictures with any Easter Bunnies who might look anything like this
>
Image Credit


and go with something a little less threatening and a little more natural, like this
Image Credit


Unfortunately, I can't share the images from the professional session on my blog. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you can check them out there--yet another reason to friend me on FB ;-) OR you can check out the photographer's Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Behind the blue eyes

A couple of weeks ago, Emily's teacher surprised me with this photograph she had taken of Emily.


Apparently, the teachers have been taking pictures of the children all year and will be giving all of the parents an album at the end of the year. But, Emily's teacher said she just couldn't wait to share this picture of Emily, and she hoped I loved it as much as she did.

Of course, I loved it!

After hugging her (was that inappropriate?? I tend to be a hugger), I then showed the picture to anyone who would look at it.

If you're friends with me on Facebook (*if not, you should be. You know you want a play-by-play of my day), then you know I posted it and gushed over it.

I love so much about this picture...

The twinkling of her blue eyes. The hint of a smile on her pink lips. The wisps of white blonde hair falling in random perfection. Her head resting on the first baby blanket I ever bought her. The remnants of boo-boos long-kissed. The way I can almost hear her whisper "morning" like she does when I wake her...

A stolen glimpse of the ordinary events I miss while I am at work...

While I try not to get caught up in the working mom guilt trap, there are times (and now pictures) that remind me of what I miss.

But, on the positive side, this picture reminds me that Emily and Drew are loved and cared for while I am gone. It is special to me that Emily and Drew's teacher thought to capture such a routine occurrence, like waking from a nap, and share it with me.

I think I will hug her again tomorrow.

*Edited to add: Friend me on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook icon under "Find Me Here" (on right side of page).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Hope

Reflecting on March

When I started the 12 in 2012 core values series, I started with the premise that clarifying one’s values and then seeking out opportunities to exemplify them was a worthy personal growth exercise.

In reflecting on this month’s value of service, I’ve found another reason why this exercise can be valuable: sometimes you figure out what you thought you valued isn’t what you’ve been living at all.

Sure. I did a few concrete things I think count as service.

I signed up for a charity race. I bought a stranger’s coffee in the Starbuck’s line. I supported infantile scoliosis and organ donation. I sent out handwritten cards. Oh, I’ve been meaning to give an impromptu public service announcement about the importance of getting colonoscopy screenings as recommended by your doctor. (Oh, yes. I finally followed through with it. It wasn’t nearly as bad as my anxious mind had envisioned it). Do it for yourself. Do it for your family.

So as March ended, I had served. But I still felt like I had fallen short.
I should have helped more people. I didn’t really fix anything.

All the while, I struggled to keep up at work. By trade, I serve challenging schools.

So much help is needed. So much to fix. So much energy required. So much and yet so little of me to go around.

So much that it was really no wonder that today I took off to rest and go to the doctor.

Still up early despite the day off, I get an unexpected early morning call from a family member who is dealing with two difficult situations that had fallen on him all at once. He just needed an ear, perhaps some sisterly advice. I felt myself automatically moving into problem- solving mode.

That’s what I do. I help. I fix. I solve.

A few minutes later, I get a call from another friend--another situation, another problem. Unfair, unfortunate, and unlikely that anything I could do would fix the problem.

Help. Fix. Solve.

After lunch, another call from yet another friend. She hesitates to tell me of her upcoming medical procedure. She knows how I worry.

Help? Fix? Solve?

No.

I say instead, “I know that’s a scary situation. I’ll be praying for you. And, if you are up for it, let’s get the kids together on Friday and just spend some time together. I’ve missed you.”

Could it be I was finally seeing the value of un-helping, un-fixing?

To my relative, instead I say, “I love you. I am here for you. I believe in you and know you will do what is right. If you want me to be, I will be there with you on Wednesday.”

To my friend with the unfair problem, instead I say, “I know this is small conciliation, but think of it this way, we’ll get to see each other more. We’ll get through it together.”

I realize much of what shifted here is invisible.

What changed most was my perception of the situation, of my friends and family.

I don’t have to solve what I perceive to be the problem.

I don’t have to fix what I perceive to be broken.

I can trust in the other’s ability.

I can believe that ultimately everything will be alright.

I can give what I have and not feel guilty about what I don’t.

I can try to view the situation from another’s perspective.

I can be there, maybe not offering everything they need, but offering kindness and encouragement.


And with that, I was reminded of an essay on service a friend once sent me by Rachel Naomi Remen.

Our service serves us as well as others. That which uses us strengthens us. Over time, fixing and helping are draining, depleting. Over time we burn out. Service is renewing. When we serve, our work itself will sustain us. Service rests on the basic premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose. When we serve, we know that we belong to life and to that purpose.

Fundamentally, helping, fixing, and service are ways of seeing life. When you help, you see life as weak; when you fix, you see life as broken. When you serve, you see life as whole. From the perspective of service, we are all connected: All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy. The impulse to serve emerges naturally and inevitably from this way of seeing.


I’d like to thank Erin for inspiring me this month with her Kindness Project. Erin, you exemplify what it means to see life as whole. Thank you.

Looking Ahead to April

This month's core value is hope.

Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without words, and never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

MaMe Musings

Sunday, April 1, 2012

It's About Time

As I look at the clock, I start getting panicky about the time. It's already 9:00 pm on Sunday. Is the weekend really almost over??

We spent most of our time this weekend visiting my grandma with my mom and the babies. Marty stayed home for a disastrous hockey game.

We made it up to Rougemont just in time to attend my great-aunt's retirement dinner, and despite the fact that it was a mammoth undertaking to get us there (45 minutes late), we had a great time celebrating such a special occasion with family who we certainly don't see enough.

It's easy to blame time--there's not enough, it takes too much.

But, inevitably, I never regret the time I do spend. I always say to myself, "Don't make excuses next time." Until the next time.

We then made my grandma's weekend by spending the night. Seriously, she loves having us, and we definitely don't visit her enough (insert time excuse here).

This picture was taken the last time we stayed with her.


Yes, it's been that long.

We spent the rest of the evening talking and visiting. Emily and Drew spent most of their time exploring...Great-Granny has all kinds of goodies to touch, move, stack, and break!


So much fun, so little time, and I am not even counting what we moved out of reach...


During their adventures, the babies uncovered strange toys from another time period--cassette tapes!


These relics made perfect make-shift blocks for Drew while Emily liked the pretty ribbon.


It was hard to tell who was having the best time.



Originally, trying the make the most of the limited amount of weekend time, I had planned to be on the road home first thing this morning. Grandma had other plans--more visiting and shopping. Do you know how hard it is to say no to Grandma?

So, I didn't. We said, yes, and in doing so, we gave her (and ourselves) the gift of time.

We drank coffee, visited with aunts and an uncle, took our time driving over to the outlets, shopped, and stopped to ride multiple money pits kiddie rides.


It's about time.
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