Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Not a super Hero

This has been the busiest week on record I think. Here I thought I would accomplish so much at home with Jeff gone (it's the perfect opportunity to rearrange the furniture or try to spruce up the place, right?)

Actually, I enjoy that adventure ... but if the truth were to be told Jeff usually doesn't notice for a few days or weeks that things are different. And who can blame him, after being gone it's just nice to see the family and the house and the sofa no matter where it happens to be in the living room.

This week though has had me zinging from my dentist to play dates to watching peoples children to going to T-ball and hockey practice ... I almost think this must be a candid camera joke to see how much I can juggle while on my own? And if it is I'm afraid I'm failing miserably because I'm kinda grouchy. Ug.

I'm sure it has to do with the fact that I had way too high of hopes of what I might accomplish. Ya, I actually thought I would somehow be able to get the kids in bed on time and be able to paint some of our terribly fingerprinted and toy dented walls a fabulous new hue. And also find some feng shui harmony in our bedroom where there currently resides piles of magazines and clothes and pictures and toys that for some reason are hanging out in there far away from the real place they should call home! And I was going to do this with a smile on my face, brownies in the oven and fun educational activities for the kids all day long. ya.

Actually, I should have known it was gonna be an uphill battle right from the start when we left our new batman sunglasses at the park on Thursday after dropping Jeff at the airport. No, I'm not a superhero ... but I feel like even less of the possibility of ever being one when I scolded my 4 yr old for leaving his new sunglasses in the grass when I later realized that it was ME who gave them to our 1 year old to play with and then failed to pick them up. I'm sure this is supposed to teach my kids that I'm human and that when I say I'm sorry that they'll learn to ask for forgiveness too and to forgive as well ... but nevertheless it began the spiral that continued through Monday when I arrived at our playdate at my son's friend's house. I had never been at their home before and it was wonderful and lovely. The thing was though ... it was emmaculate ... perfectly ordered ... non-cluttered, well decorated, smartly painted and decorated. Ug.

I suddenly felt like such a let down and not because of anything anyone else did ... it was simply self-loathing at it's finest and I really am going to hang this one on Satan because he knows where my weak spots are and has a knack for hitting them at the times when I'm a bit vulnerable. It ended with me reasoning that my engineer husband would probably just die for this orderly world and clean, uncluttered countertops ... oh my goodness and he probably would. But of course this didn't end there, it continued to mushroom in my own mind. He was not there, he didn't see any of it, hadn't heard a word of it or even seen the look that I must have had in my eyes as my heart sank somewhere deep into the pit of my stomach when I convinced myself that I was a big disappointment and failure because I leave crumbs on the counter after I make my husband's sandwich for his lunch at 5:30 in the morning ... or because I have piles of articles I would love to read but can't because my kids want me to read them a story instead or because the laundry is folded on the floor and not in the drawers because someone needed the slip n' slide put up and I never quite got back to what I was doing. No, I'm not everything I wish I was and I know that I let those around me down more than I would wish ... but I also know that God made me this way and perhaps my struggle with all this "stuff" is meant to help me simplify and look at what is real and what is important. I will try to have clean countertops but I also know they won't stay that way because we live here and life takes room to happen. I hope I can find peace with that.

P.S. Jeff continues to enjoy China and has so many wonderful things to say about the people there. He has not been out of the big city of Shanghai though and probably will not have the opportunity on this trip to do so. It will be interesting to hear any further stories about his experience when he gets home.
Here's a cheesey picture of what a non-superhero looks like. (Notice the lack of cape, spiffy boots or golden super-letter on my shirt.)

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Keepin' Busy

I sent our camera on a great journey to China with Jeff this week... so I'm missing out on so many great photo opportunities here at home! I'm cherishing them in my mind's eye and hope to keep them as long as I can. I sure hope Jeff is taking LOTS of photos!

In lieu of new photos I'm grabbing some from the archives. Today we have the boys in a tree in the park. (Easton has his foot stuck in between the cracks of the branches and he has a pained look on his face ... but rest assured, he was okay!)

We have certainly kept busy during these first days that Jeff has been in China. The boys and I have gone on a million errands, to a splash pad, a picnic, a family reunion, a Norwegian Festival, I taught Brayden's Sunday School class as a sub and we had a campfire and s'mores tonight. (whew!) And the folks at church said to make sure to just keep things simple. Well ... I guess I'm opting for keeping things entertaining. (HA!)

I also found out that my brother-in-law who has been serving in Afghanistan for 9 months of active duty will be home this coming week! We hope to meet him at the airport on Thursday night. He was supposed to be again in Iraq for his 3rd tour of duty ... but was switched to Afghanistan upon arrival at Christmas. It will be such a blessing to have him home again--especially for my sister and their 3 children!

Jeff is doing well in China. Our phone calls are brief and mostly filled with the kids wanting to talk on the phone which leads to not alot of real conversation but he has had a few stories. He said the Chinese are SO friendly and polite! The street vendors are very persistent though and will literally follow you all over the city if you show even the least bit of interest in what they are selling. (haha!) He did a bit of site-seeing on one day by himself which would have been a bit intimidating I think, but he's adventurous. He did go out again today with a larger group too and saw much more and probably had more fun (he's a people person.)

The first evening when he ventured out on his own and went walking to find something for supper he was followed by a small child who was begging ... oh my ... he did not have anything to give her at the time. Well ... she was waiting for him when he left the restaurant and he fortunately was able to give her something having thought ahead to be prepared. It's hard not to wonder about her story and if she has somewhere to call home, if someone cares for her or if she's on her own. I've never met her, never seen her, ... and yet she sticks in my heart.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Awesome Childen's Book

I came across this book when we were visiting our family up North. At first I was a little turned off by the purple cover since we have boys and purple and pink are forbidden at our house ... but I soon forgave the graphic designer's choice of book cover color when I read the stories! (Yes, don't judge a book by it's cover.)
Easton absolutely loved these stories! They are set to rhymes very similar in style to Dr. Seuss and include twelve stories about caring, sharing, loving, and growing, written with humor and hilarity and intended to teach important lessons to children (and their parents) about obedience, kindness, fairness and other godly virtues. There is even a story about adoption (Cowboy Casey). And each story ends with a page that relates to a specific Scripture verse that the story is based on.

Here's a synopsis
[Do you know anyone like Cowboy Casey, who needed more cowboy stuff? Or maybe you know someone like Buzzle Billy who had gimme hands, (a story about sharing.) Every family can use someone like Handy-Dandy Helpful Hal, who gets the chores done in no time! All these characters and many more are found in Helpful Hal's Treasury of Christian Virtues. You and your family will laugh out loud at the hilarious antics of Sir Maggie the Mighty (obeying), Suzy Swoof (teasing), and Sylvester the Jester to just name a few. But at the same time, you will be learning important lessons about obedience, kindness, and fairness.]

I cannot believe that they took this out of print! There are a few typos here and there throughout that I chuckle at wondering who proofread it before printing (maybe a tired mom?)It's pretty awesome though and thought I'd share it with you all. "Santa" got a copy for Easton for Christmas last year and it is always a favorite read. I wish they still had this in print so I could buy it NEW ... but the NEW ones are now listed at over $100 (yikes!) Our version was a used copy but apart from a nice inscription by the previous owner's Grandparents (that I carefully removed) and a few light colored pencil marks it was like new! I cannot emphasize enough what a wonderful book this is!
It's called Helpful Hal's Treasury of Christian Virtues by Michael Waite. (You can also get each story separately but I liked them all together.)


Thursday, July 23, 2009

Daddy blues

As I watch the little green plane of Jeff's flight on fl* make it's line away from us toward it's destination half way around the world, I am amazed at how sad my heart is. Of course I knew I would miss Jeff, I just didn't think it would be so soon and for no reason at all except that he's far away and I simply do.

While we were in the airport (which is now the boys' new favorite playground ... who knew that 1 bouncy ball and so much wide open space would be such a hit!) Our airport is pretty nice by the way, just simple and not real crowded like one of those hubs like Chicago or Dallas ... huh, go figure. Anyway, the boys were playing and having a grand time when the boarding announcement came across the loud speaker for Jeff's flight ... and nearly instantly Easton, our almost 4 year old, stopped and huge tears began to flow and he just melted into so much sadness about how he wanted to go too! It truly made everyone's heart hurt for his. (And not just our family ... I think everyone in the airport quite honestly felt that tug at their heart for that feeling of "I don't want to let you go!")

Easton loves his Daddy SO much! Well, of course ALL the boys do ... it's the first question they ask EVERY morning (Where's Dad?) As if the answer during the week is ever any different. But the words of a child in how they feel or what they want is amazingly honest at times. This week he kept making small remarks as we put things together for Jeff's trip about how he wanted to go too or he would mention that if he could go too he could pack such and such in his own bag ... I just didn't realize how much he must have really been thinking about this trip and time with dad away on his own. He is at that wonderful age when a little boy reaches out to his dad and really bonds with him and kinda lets go of mom in many ways. I've seen it with Brayden and now with Easton and I've read that it's what's supposed to happen. It's wonderful to see ... and also sad too ... but to see the depth of his love for his daddy ... wow it is cool. And that makes a mom happy too.

Here they are playing golf--even here he's studying him.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

To China

Being a SAHM is such a blessing. I remember all too well juggling the fast paced work world with the demands of a young family and how crazy it all was. It was an answered prayer to be able to let that go and focus 100 percent on our family! But I must admit that there are days that it would be nice to escape out the front door, hop in the car and immerse myself in something outside the boundaries of the family and the hum-drum every day. But knowing that of course comes at a price that I don't want to pay, I don't let myself go there for long! ... but it did rear it's ugly head this week as the kids were sick (yes, in the middle of summer, is that not wrong in and of itself?!) and as I prepare my husband's bags for his business trip this week to China.

Oh yes, China.

Doesn't that just make your heart flutter?
I can't say that I've always wanted to go to his business destinations ... but lately the trips (although business centered and not much time for site-seeing) are getting more alluring ... and with this latest trip scheduled to China I think I have sent him more emails on "things to do while in Shanghai"--probably more emails than I have to anyone else in my address book.

Of course the modern fast-paced "fancy" China he will see and experience will shine with a stark difference from the China that I would want to see and experience. I am hopeful that his business dealings will go well and that there will be a second trip down the road that will provide me the opportunity to travel with him next time. My prayer is also that there is something greater at hand here and that God will use Jeff for His purpose and glory and that if it is God's will that our future family tapestry will in some way be knit with beautiful red threads from the Far East.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

GirlyGirl Bowtique

I love blogsites that support a cause and you should really stop by this site! It is a super cool girly-girl hair-thingy site that is supporting a great cause this coming week!(see below.) Note the sidebar button on their blogsite that will take you to the store site from their blog.

Although we do not have a great need for hair bows in this family of ALL boys, I'm considering maybe buying a couple for baby shower gifts to have on hand or maybe for my nieces. I also see they have some cool headbands and a neat wrist key holder.

This is a note from the owner-artist--
"I will be donating 100% of the proceedes from sales of my products off my website from today until July 22 to Hailee's adoption fund."

Cool Beans. Thought I would spread the word. And Angie, since my readership isn't that huge this post was made with Chloe's hair and outfit coordination in mind (haha!) You always do such an outstanding job with that!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The lazy days of summer?

This week is VBS at our church! The theme is Operation Space and it is so cool! I wish I was one of the kids so I could experience it with them. But ... being about 30 years too old I'm participating by working on the Publication and Media stuff and am helping with the 12 preschool/littler ones in the Nursery.

Okay, if you didn't catch that number ... it was 12.
Wow--that is a lot of kids for this SAHM of 3! I now know what the Little Old Lady who lived in the shoe kinda experienced! But it is awesome seeing the kids every morning and I hope they're having fun and taking home something of eternal value.

Last week when Brayden was at hockey camp I failed to mention the bigger task my other 2 kids had. Since we didn't want to spend an extra hour on the road every day making a trip home and then back to get Brayden, we decided to stay in town and bum around for 6 or 7 hours shopping and browsing. (Not probably on the top of a 4 yr. old and 1 yr. old's list of fun things.) But I had so many errands for Bible School anyway it really worked out well. I tried to mix things up a bit and we planned picnic lunches all week and also went to a Splash pad at the park, as well as a regular park, the mall where they have a play place to crawl around on and a few other fun type things ... like the fabric store (heehee, okay that was fun for mom.) By the end of the week though the kids were so worn out from living in a car all day they were excited to stay home for a change!

Nolan got to experience riding in the Car Cart at the "Do It Yourself" store like a big boy along side his brother. The site of his excitment is etched in my mind! And when he reached over to put his arm around his big brother when we started moving and he got a little bit scared I just about cried with love for them! (Too bad I didn't capture it on film ...)
We hope to decide on some paint color schemes for their room soon. Right now they keep going between sports teams and I think my idea of color and their's are not aligned. I may be outvoted on the "Autumn Slumber" color for Pittsburg Penguins yellow and black and Minnesota Gophers Gold and Maroon. We'll have to see how it all comes together--after I rest up after VBS.

This is the mud room organizational fix I dream about ... but it's just too big for our exsisting mud room. It's fun to dream though!And Easton thought the washer and dryer were so cool maybe he'd take over doing our laundry if we purchased those too?
Hee hee, a girl can dream :-)

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Hockey Camp

I cannot believe my little boy can possibly be ready for an all day hockey camp! We're talking 9am-3:45pm ... TONS of ice time, work outs, skill building. He woke up on Tuesday morning and his legs were SO sore! Ack! He just kinda winced there as he lay in bed ... man, I could feel his pain (or a memory of what a good workout pain might be.) I gave him Tylenol and he wanted to go back to camp no question ... so he didn't let the pain get him down! What a trooper.

And as challenging as this is for my soon to be First Grader I think I've had an equally tough week adjusting to the fact that he is growing up SO FAST right before our eyes! It is so hard to let go--slow as it is from the outside to others. On the inside ... wow ... parenting is just full of milestones.

And to add to the "mom angst" this week also marked Easton moving into a booster seat from a car seat, Brayden asking to eat off of a full size plate instead of a kid size salad plate, Nolan moving from the baby carrier to the 5 pt. harness car seat (that's a big one for me) AND suddenly eating all kinds of BIG BOY food not the mushy stuff. Yes, this has all hit at once. I guess it was to prevent me from becoming overly sentimental.

And as for the hockey ... no, it's not the common sport here in Iowa but it has been so good for Brayden to find a niche that he enjoys so much ... and it helps Jeff continue to dream that we live in Minnesota ...
please don't ruin his dream. (haha)

Look at the size of some of these other guys! (Brayden is 2 in from the right in the green jersey next to the GIANT guy in the white jersey.)

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's the Journey-Part 3

I'm just going to post some final photos of our vacation ... starting with the few from the day we left with the sun and then some fishing ones from our first day that we arrived with the other day of sun. It's stormy here tonight and I had better not be online for too long! Enjoy the photo journey. (you can click on the photos to see them larger.)

Nolan on the beach (our dog Sasha in the water)

Brayden and Easton trying their best to catch a wave.

Easton getting to know his minnow (he is so sweet talking to them before he casts his line ... he tried to give one a bath before I baited the hook ... um ... yes, wash him in the lake ... needless to say that minnow did not stick around long!

Cool dude

This photo was taken by Brayden! He even art directed the shot telling me that it would be a much better photo in the shade rather than in the sun. I had to add this since I'm not in very many photos as I'm chief photographer. (Nolan was getting squirmy can you tell?!)

But there's no place like home ... on the Slip n' Slide!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It's the Journey-Part 2

Our 5 Children--Lola, Tiki Tom, Nolan, Easton and Brayden

With the weather not exceeding 58 degrees, continuing rain and a 100% chance of mother-in-law conflict (wait, did I type that?) we decided to take a road trip away from Grandma's house to Duluth for an overnight trip. It was fun, especially the waterpark for the kids and the nice supper out to eat for the parents (and the kids were so well behaved!) Wow, it was super. I was not brave enough to try the water slides but Jeff and Brayden had a boat-load (haha) of fun on them. I really liked the Lazy River, just floating through a winding path of water on an intertube, although Nolan was pretty much terrified by it all as the sound really was loud in there for him especially with the water and splashing and the kids. It was sensory overload for the lil guy I think. But he loved it when we went outside to the outdoor heated pool and hot tub with the view of Lake Superior.

Easton and Brayden both enjoyed the smaller slides (I didn't post a photo of these, but they were small enough for me to enjoy too-I'm such a chicken.) The trip to Duluth was such a sweet way to spend some time together as a family. It was only an overnight, but we did so much and were able to recharge. It's nice to have family up-North, it is truly a beautiful area ... but being stuck at a house 15 miles from nowhere day after day and being criticized for having rules for our children, it was nice to venture out and breathe and grow together and truly appreciate each other as a part of our wonderful family!
We are truly SO VERY BLESSED! Thank you God!

Jeff and Nolan (the unsuspecting baby)
actually ... they are far enough in front of the water they did not get wet!

Me and a not so cooperative Brayden ... He loved the "Big Bucket" as a 2 year old ... not so much any more I guess (also, he did not get wet, although he thought he was going to.)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's the Journey ... part 1

I'm back from a family vacation. I guess besides the laundry, TONS of mowing and watering of the 100+ trees that Jeff planted earlier this Spring things have not returned to normal yet. Also, my oldest (if you can consider 6 old) decided at the last minute to participate in a week long hockey camp and I've decided to hang around in town for him instead of driving 20 miles home and then 20 miles back later in the day. And honestly I really am not sure how to follow up the last post. It's gotta be one of my favorites. I see Elizabeth's face and her smile and I'm not sure what could top that ... I heard that she liked the apron so much that she wanted to wear it all day. That is sweet, as in Sa-weet, to know she liked it so much.

But, I have received a few requests wondering where I've gone. Have I fallen off the face of the Earth or what. Wow, it's great to feel missed. Well ... we went once again up North to visit family and to experience what is ever to be known as our family's vacation spot. (We did attempt a family vacation apart from the usual family visit trip and went to Colorado in 2007 to go skiing at Copper Mountain ... and our truck and ALL our belongings were stolen from the hotel parking lot during our first night of travel. So, we have not diverged from the visit-the-relatives-family-trip again.)

We did have some great fun as a family during this trip however and I will post some photos of my sweet, precious three (four including Jeff.) The weather in Northern MN did not cooperate as we left the 95+ degree heat of Iowa and traveled into 50 degree weather and rain ... which yes, is cooler, but the forecast had said 70's/low 80's so we were a little disappointed (luckily for some reason while sweating in the heat I still packed jeans and long sleeve shirts ... at least for the boys.) It has become very clear to me now after seeing the photos that I need to update my wardrobe. I'm somewhere between a miser and overly sentimental when it comes to buying clothing and getting rid of old things. I think photos of myself helps clarify things for me though.

I'm thinking I might milk this trip a little and will make this into a little journey for anyone following. Today I'll focus on day 1 ... the boys were so excited after traveling through the night and arriving at their Grandma's house that they couldn't wait to hit the beach even though it was SO COLD out! and the wind was crazy--it looks like an ocean with waves not a peaceful lake. Too funny. It was good they enjoyed the lake when they could too, because after that afternoon it rained until the day we left when the sun came out and it finally warmed up. However, one nice thing that the poor weather provided was the opportunity for us to travel over to enjoy the city of Duluth where we went hiking at Gooseberry Falls, walking on the pier viewing Lake Superior, AND to an awesome waterpark.

The kids were fearless at the waterfall climbing all over the slippery rocks (I think I gained a bazillion gray hairs trying to keep one "be careful!" warning ahead of them. But once we got to the water park they were much more reserved and cautious of everything! Jeff thought this was so ironic and funny ...
Yes, the boys are blessed to have a carefree and easygoing dad ... 'cuz I am kinda the polar opposite! Wonderful how God balances us out.

Gooseberry Falls--beautiful scenery

But let's get closer to it and really experience it...

And this is what was on the other side of the drop-off ...

And the view from below ...

I like up close shots on safe dry land so much better!

The family

The family