29 February 2012

Nomination

There have been a few times (okay… MANY times) that I have deserved a nomination for Mother of the Year.

Like the time I commented to myself “Wow, the kids are playing so nicely together in the bedroom” only to walk in a bit later, see my daughter in her crib and remember that I put her in time-out quite awhile ago.

Oops.

Okay Mamas out there… what do you earn a nomination for?! Dish it.

26 February 2012

The Everyday

Here are just some photos of my everyday days.

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Well, luckily this scenario doesn’t happen like this everyday. This was supposed to be play-in-your-room-time. Instead of playing happily with toys and each other in the bedroom, my son sat on a box two feet from the doorway making faces at me and my daughter threw a fit in the doorway. Not exactly what I had in mind. Ha!

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This meal was egg and cheese burritos. Please notice that my son devoured his tortilla and ignored his egg and cheese while my daughter devoured her egg and ignored her tortilla (I call her my Atkin’s baby). Then they started eyeing the other one’s plate! Oh my word. This is just one small example of how very different my children are.

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My girlie, cleaning again.

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Morning reading time.

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And more morning reading time. I love it.

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Here H is teaching N about days and numbers. So cute.

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Homemade applesauce making time.

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Just a cute girl eating a sandwich.

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And making a gorilla face. Is she not the best?

The answer is yes. Yes!!

25 February 2012

Day 6

Today is day 6 of Mike’s 17 day trip.

But who is counting?!

Two and a half weeks seems like a long time. But it’s actually going really quickly. Day 3 was really rough as I recall, but now that seems like ages ago.  I’ve learned in the past that it’s best for me to stay busy when Mike is traveling. So I started filling my calendar weeks before he left with various meetings and fun outings and play dates and self-dates and you get the idea. Basically anything that can get us out of the house doing something works. And I’ve already had SO many people help me out, which I couldn’t be more thankful for!  I’m not afraid to ask for help and in this situation, I felt it was best to carry-out a preemptive strike on the I’m-going-CA-RAAAAZY-alone-with-these-two-kids-alone-by-myself-for-two-and-a-half-weeks syndrome (which was certain to show up eventually if I tried to suck it up and do this all by myself) and just ask for help from the get-go, even before I felt like I needed it. I’m hoping that I can then prevent that awful syndrome from ever rearing it’s ugly head. So far, my preventative strategies have worked!

If there is one thing I love about Mike being gone, it’s that I have extra time to hang out with people that I love. And I love people! We are having fun. We are so SO rich in relationships! And I’ve been a (mostly) good Mommy. There have been a couple rough patches with my children (someday they’ll just sit and eat what’s on their plate without a thousand reminders, scoldings, and trips to the window to “See! See!”, right? See what, don’t ask me. All I know is that her passion to “See!” tacks at least another five minutes to meal-time and it gets peanut butter all over everything.)

Ugh.

What was I saying?

Right.

Oh yes, we’re fine on day six (if a little scatterbrained), but don’t get me wrong… my job is NOT easy. Being a Mommy is hard work. Like, really REALLY hard work. I don’t know how single Moms do it. Or military wives. I’d take my proverbial hat off to you, but then you’d see my greasy hair that I haven’t had a chance to wash cause I’ve been too busy seeing friends and hauling my children along on every errand I have on my list. Ha!

In any case, we do miss our hubby and our daddy. But there are some positive things about him being gone. Here’s a few.

1. Time for friends. Lots of friends! (I already said that, but I felt it earned a place in the formal list.)

2. I stopped cooking. Peanut butter on a spoon for everyone, for every meal. Seriously.

3. I stopped cleaning.

A. No more picking up toys. I’m not about to waste energy trying to get the kids to pick up toys and then just end up doing it myself while getting angry with them and simultaneously giving myself a guilt trip about how I should teach them better to pick up toys. I’m just a-gonna leave ‘em laying all around the house all day and all week. I don’t care. (Mikey has probably begun to have breathing problems just reading this #3, God love him and his love for neatness and order.)

B. Many less dishes. I’m not cooking much so there are many less dishes to wash. But I cut it down even further and went out and bought a big pack of paper plates. I have a small twinge of guilt each time I toss two or three in the trash after another meal of peanut-butter-on-a-spoon, cheese cubes, cutie wedges and crackers (mother of the year here, eh?!), but then I decided to plant a tree somewhere someday and that took care of that. A girl’s gotta survive somehow! And since I can’t do the dishes while Mikey puts the kids to bed (like we normally do) and the children refuse to put themselves to bed while I wash the dishes, then it seemed logical to cut back on the dirty dishes. Problem solved. Sanity maintained.

4. I fall asleep instantly. Once I turn off another episode of Say Yes to the Dress, that is. (The house we’re staying in has Ti-Vo. Can I get a woot woot?!) Nevermind that it only feels like I only had time enough to blink before I hear a little darlin’ yelling “Mommy! Hold you!” at the top of her lungs and I stumble through the dark house to rescue her from her crib at 6:40am.

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Whew! We miss you Mikey! Can't wait to have you back with us so everything can be ‘normal’ again. Whatever ‘normal’ is these days.  All I know is that life is better with you in it. And not just cause you put the kids to bed and pick up all the toys…

Quote of the Day

Saturday afternoon.

Kids napping.

Sun shining.

Breeze blowing in the windows.

Snow-topped mountains glorious in the distance.

Me and Beth Moore, studying the Psalms together. ;)

Suddenly a quote jumps off the page and whacks me in the face. I love it.

“The destination of any trip sets the tone of travel.”

True, eh? Am I taking a trip to a funeral? I’d be melancholy and sad.

Am I taking a trip to Disney World? Well, I’d be so excited and expectant, I’d probably write “Mickey Mouse or bust” on the back of my minivan with shoe polish and start mapping out my ride-strategy ahead of time. I’d be breaking in my walking shoes and saving my money so I could eat some cotton candy and hot dogs. I mean, wouldn’t you?!

She continues…

“You and I are not on our way to a funeral like many of those who surround us. We who are in Christ are on our way to a wedding of such glorious and expensive proportions that we’ll have to change our clothes from mortal to immortal just to survive the thrill.”

Whoa. At the end of my life I will experience the most glorious celebration that will far exceed all my wildest expectations. And girl, I love me a good party! I want to live in the reality of that imminent wedding! I want my actions and attitudes NOW be a reflection of my final destination!

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23 February 2012

Tried and True Recipes–Whole Wheat Pancakes

I love breakfasty/brunchy food. I just told a friend today that I think it’s one of my love languages. Ha! Problem is, it’s usually not so healthy.

But these pancakes are super wholesome and really delicious too! Make sure your baking powder is fresh though, or else these will gag you. Funny what a difference that one small thing can make (learned that from experience).

Glory, once again, to my fav food blog… www.skinnytaste.com!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 4 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups + 2 tbsp fat free milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • cooking spray

Directions:
Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Add wet ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well with a spoon until there are no more dry spots; don't over-mix.

Heat a large skillet on medium heat. Lightly spray oil to coat and pour 1/4 cup of pancake batter. When the bubbles settle and the edges begin to set, flip the pancakes. Repeat with the remainder of the batter.
Makes 14 pancakes.

(Recipe taken from here!)

21 February 2012

Toxic

Early last year I started a journey of learning more about what we put in and on our bodies daily. Is the food we’re eating really food? Are our cleaning products unsafe? Are our personal care products healthy? The information is overwhelming (and sometimes a bit sensational and one sided), but I wanted to start making real changes for the better.

It’s easy to get frustrated with all the information and suggestions. I try to learn and make gradual changes so my husband won’t call me crazy and promptly move out. He he. He would never do that!

I decided that since our skin is the largest organ of our body… that would be a good place to start. We scrub and smear products on ourselves and our children more often throughout the day than I realized. Deodorant. Shampoo. Soap. Sunscreen. Lotions. Lip balm. I read all about parabens and phlates and lots of other confusing words that essentially are the toxins in our products.

My research took me to The Environmental Working Group’s website called Skindeep. There you can find out how your toiletry and personal care products rate on their ‘hazard scale’. The scale is from zero to nine, zero being perfectly safe and nine being no good at all. So I went search crazy. I started searching everything our family used. And I was shocked. Floored. Freaked out! And my husband might have been annoyed, but whatever.

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This face care line that was my yearly splurge ever since we moved to Africa where the sun is strong and harsh? Ranked an 8 for high hazard. Wow. I used these products religiously for five years thinking I was doing my skin good.

Wrong-o. Not good. BAD. Very bad.

L’oreal failed to inform me that they had in fact, been poisoning me for all those years. How rude of them.

And how about this sunscreen stick that I faithfully carried in my diaper bag?

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It’s only a 3. But the identical Banana Boat version? A 7!!! A product marketed to protect babies from the rays of the sun was actually putting poison directly onto their skin (and therefore, into their bloodstream, cause that’s what happens when you put something on your skin).

Okay, maybe I sound like the sensational one here, but I get so angry! It’s so unhealthy! It’s toxic! And they sell it to us making us think that we are doing something good for our sweet little innocent offspring! Terrible. Just terrible.

Don’t even get me started on Johnson and Johnson. Okay. DO get me started!

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Like many parents, we faithfully have bathed our children in Johnson’s baby wash and then smeared the sweet smelling lotion all over their tiny bodies from the start. This lotion rates a 7!

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And here I am rubbing it into my newborn girlie after her first bath a couple year ago. Greeeeeeaaat.

Anyway it was recently all over the news (See here and here, for only two examples) that they admitted to their usage of toxic ingredients in their baby (and other) products. Basically, they knew it all along and kept doing it until they got caught.

Can’t we trust anyone these days!? Ha! I’m kidding. Sorta. I glanced through the list, and even Burts’s Bees and Aveeno had baby products rated at 7. And those are brands that are specifically marketed as natural and safe.

This rant could go on and on. But I think you get the idea.

Go to this website. Check out your products and learn about it for yourself. Know what you’re putting on your family’s skin. You may be surprised.

Some of our gradual changes have been:

-Making our own foaming handsoap with Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap (I’ll show you how soon!).

-Using Coconut Oil for moisturizing and to treat diaper rashes.

-Switching to unscented glycerin or organic soap instead of regular bar soap.

-Greatly decreasing the amount of shampoo we use.

Even these simple changes have greatly reduced the amount of chemicals we use on our skin greatly. We save money too (which is how I get my husband on board with some of these! Ha!)

20 February 2012

Personal Cinema III

Awhile ago (okay, a looong time ago, it feels like now) I posted about my boy’s personal cinemas in Africa. Those are here and here.

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Now I show you Sweet N’s personal cinema the other day.

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Hey. If she’s happy sitting on the table watching a movie… let the girl sit on the table and watch a movie!  Ha!

14 February 2012

Grocery Grins

Who knew my grocery tears would turn into grocery grins?! I’m grinning because today, I officially became a published author! Whoo-hooo!

My article, Grocery Tears, has been published over here at:

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Click above to check it out! (Also, welcome to all of those who popped over here because they already read the article and actually made it to the end to see my blog address! Ha! Thanks! I’m honored!)

And since we’re on the topic of the grocery, I’ll tell you that it has me grinning these days for another reason besides the actual published author thing…

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Car carts, as my kiddos call them!

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These are one of the glories of the overwhelming U.S. grocery stores. I thank God for them in my prayers every night. Well, not really. But maybe I should!

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There must be a thousand varieties in various stores in this country…

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And that is definitely a good thing. I hope the person who invented them is rich and happy… they deserve it for all the (semi) peaceful shopping hours they have allowed us mothers of toddlers to experience when we previously had no hope…

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I mean, just look at how happy my boy is with his mini-cart! (Just watch your ankles, folks!) He was so stinkin’ happy with that thing that it was actually way more fun to shop with him that day than without him (and that’s a pretty strong statement for a mother of a four year old!)

Grocery stores in America aren’t all bad, I suppose…

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13 February 2012

Snow Much Fun

We’ve seen two decent snows since we returned to the U.S. in December. The first was in Ohio and my kiddos were pretty excited!

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Noelle couldn’t have remembered snow and she mostly wanted (and still wants) to do one thing with it. One thing only.

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Eat it! 

“Bite ‘now”? She asks everytime we go outside to any amount of snow, no matter how clean or dirty. This day in January… it was fresh and clean!

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After a little sledding, Poppi helped her eat a little more. Poppis are so helpful like that.

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She was less of fan of the sledding, however.

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Yeah. Not happy.

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But this little guy was having the TIME OF HIS LIFE.

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Seriously. So happy!

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He was outside with Poppi for a really long time and never did get cold. (Please ignore his lavender snow pants… we are so thankful for hand-me-downs… who wants to pay for snow pants and who cares what color they are?!)

Sweet N didn’t last outside very long…

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But she wasn’t willing to stop the eating of the snow.

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So her wonderful Daddy got her a couple cups of it to eat in the comfort of the warm (sled-less) kitchen.

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Oh my. Cutest snow-eater EVER.

08 February 2012

Sweet New One–Newborn Photography

I’ve been working on my photography skills lately and asked some friends if I could practice on their sweetest little newborn girlie. She was probably under six pounds the day I showed up at their place for this little session. She surprised us and was awake and alert almost the entire time! I still have sooo much to learn, but I am pleased with some of the shots I got.

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And now, just a week later, this precious baby is in the hospital fighting RSV. Would you send up a prayer for her body to be strong and breathe well?

What a special little things she is…

06 February 2012

Nite Nite

I haven’t been tucking my babies into their beds the past several days. But if I had been tucking my girlie in bed for nap or nighttime sleeping, this is the arrangement that she demands.

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Baby, baby, baby and monkey. All four sharing a pillow and a blanket. Then MY baby and her (matching) pillow and blanket. And yes, she still uses her corker, aka pacifier. Don’t judge.

Get it right or she may refuse to lay down. You may find her sitting up in the corner of the bed thirty minutes later, unhappy about the sleeping arrangements.

She’s a bit particular and I LOVE her.

Also, I get to tuck her in tomorrow night!

05 February 2012

Missing Mama. Or Not.

My day on airplanes coming out east was as blissful and uneventful as I imagined.  And I was made even more thankful because I missed a blizzard in Denver by only a couple of hours. Thank you Jesus.

Mike and the kids are doing great. Of course. Chick Fil-A, various parties, the library, baking, grocery store, reading, a trip to the work-out room with Daddy… he’s doing it all. Frankly, I don’t know what I’m needed for anymore.

*sniff sniff*

Ha! Just kidding. The kids talk to me on the phone a couple times a day. Sweet N is more willing and much more difficult to understand. H is sometimes too busy to talk to silly ol’ Mom on the phone, despite how certain he was of his sadness before I left. The few days before my departure he was telling me often that he was going to miss me and didn’t want me to go.  Then on the drive to the airport he said all these things:

“Mom, I will cry the whole night.”

“Mom, I will cry the whole week.”

“If you don’t give me a hug and a kiss tonight I’ll be sad.”

“Mama, I’m gonna want you.”

“Mama, I want to stay with you.”

“But what if I want Daddy to hold me and he’s not soft on his belly like you are?”

“Mama, I’m gonna miss you.”

Oh. My. Word. He is the sweetest boy that ever did live. I don’t even care that he calls me fat in his loving comments. I was tempted to pack him in my bag and bring him along. Sort of. Maybe.

Speaking of sweet. Check out these little ones…

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Davis is a fabulous big brother, loving on his baby sister and singing her name when she cries. And as you can see… Daphne  does have a thing for crying, bless her precious little heart. Frankly, she just isn’t that crazy about being awake. I think we all have been familiar with that feeling at some point in our lives. I guess Sister and I both got our due with our baby girlies, after our piece-of-cake firstborn boys. Ha!

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So so perfect, isn’t she? She likes to sleep in my arms, which makes her extra wonderful, too.

I do believe that is probably about all the cuteness you can probably handle today…