Friday, August 26, 2011

Dollar General

I shopped at Dollar General for Sarah's birthday. I wish I could say it's because I'm frugal or thrifty. I wish I could say it's because I'm creative and can shop anywhere and find something cute. I wish I could say it's because I planned ahead and knew what she wanted, and the best buy was to purchase it there.

But's just because the days seem to get away from me lately. A week or so ago I thought to myself, "I'd better pick up a gift for Sarah! She needs her school supplies, too." And yet, I didn't go. Days went by, and finally her birthday arrived, and I never picked out something for her.

Fortunately, she is VERY easy to please. At 2:30 on the afternoon of her birthday, I ran to Dollar General, with nothing in mind, and picked up several things that I knew she would love. She needed a new backpack for preschool, so that's the first thing that caught my eye. I also grabbed all of her school supplies. As I glanced through the toys, I found a cute, ballerina Barbie. She loves My Little Pony and Strawberry Shortcake, so I picked up some new coloring books for her with those characters. Just that morning, she had mentioned needing new house slippers, and I saw some cute pink ones that I couldn't resist. A bucket of sidewalk chalk seemed like a good idea as well, and it completed my collection.

As she opened her gifts, her face lit up. She carries her Barbie with her everywhere, and she loved showing her teachers her new backpack at pre-school open house. Her new slippers are always on her feet.

I learned something through my Dollar General shopping experience:

1. Dollar General has some cute things if days seem to slip by you and you need to pick up something for your daughter's birthday.

-but mostly-

2. "Doesn't matter when you shop, where you shop, what you spend, or if you buy the 'coolest' toys. If your child feels special on her birthday that's what matters =)" -Andrea, comment on my facebook photo.

Thanks, Andrea. That's so true.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Happy 5th Birthday, Sarah!

Oh, sweet, baby girl. You are 5 today. There are times when I look out the back window, glance at the play set in the yard, and still see the chubby little 9-month-old you once were.

You are by far my most independent child. Your imagination and story telling are adorable and uniquely you. Your animated personalty always keeps me smiling! Your routine each night of needing a hug and kiss...even if I forget and you sneak in the living room to make sure you get it...melts my heart.

Sometimes you are a bit stubborn, but I'm sure that's just in your genetics somehow! :) You love your My Little Ponies, Strawberry Shortcake
dolls, and Barbies, which is quite something considering you have two brothers and they bombard you with dinosaurs and Legos!

You love your brothers, and they love you. You are helpful with your little brother, and you hold your own with your big brother.

With each year that passes, I become more and more aware of how much you add to my life - laughter, smiles, joy, love - all have been multiplied since God gave you to me.

These first 5 years have flown by. I have done my best to cherish each moment with you. You have blessed my life so very much.

I love you sweet Sarah.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Obviously my son is not familiar with fire arms or how to hold one :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Don't Close the Bathroom Door

Yes, it's Tuesday, but I've decided to use Mama M's 5QF as a writing prompt. Better late than never, right?

1. Do you close the bathroom door when you are home alone? No. Really? Does anyone? I don't even close it when my family is here (husband and kids). I might not close it if my mom and sis are here, too! We're all about closeness around here! Ha! I think this is an interesting topic actually. Everyone is so different!

2. You have to walk around with a word on your forehead. That word describes you. One word. What is it? Strong-willed (I know it's sort of two words, but it's hyphenated, so it's ok, right?)

3. What store do you refuse to shop at and why? Abercrombie and Fitch.

4. If you participated in arranged marriages for your child(ren), who would you choose for your child(ren)? Oh, I like this question! Here's my line up:

-Caleb would marry Alli. I wrote about her a few times. We miss their family!
-Sarah would marry Payton, Alli's brother.
-Gabriel would marry Mya. She is in his Sunday school class and she used to go to the same sitter.

I have chosen these kids because I think they are sweet, but mostly because I know the homes they come from, and I think their parents are wonderful. I know I can't really pick their spouses, but I do pray for them and the families they come from! I also hope I'm preparing my children to be the God-honoring people that they were created to be.

5. If you could pick how and when you would die, would you? Everyone wants to die old and asleep in their bed. I know I don't want to know WHEN I die. Wouldn't that drive a person crazy? Even if it was 50 years from now, I think I would over think it.

That's all I've got today! Which one of these questions was interesting to you? And I want to know how you'd answer #2!

Friday, August 19, 2011

New Gear

I'm not sure who is more excited about the new sparring gear...

...Caleb...or Josh!


Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Didn't Write About Breastfeeding

The first week of August was World Breastfeeding Week. As I saw some posts about it throughout the internet, on my friends' facebook pages or blogs, I kept thinking that I should write something. Bethany at Mama Bethany wrote two great posts about the good stuff and not-so-good stuff about nursing (I really related to her as I read her lists).

I am a huge supporter of the idea of breast feeding. I want to scream when I hear news stories about women who are asked to leave a place because they are nursing or when people think it's so horrible to nurse in public. If you watch prime-time TV, you have seen more of a woman's breast than you will if you saw me nursing. Really. So I am pretty opinionated about it. Shocking, I know!

I want to give my phone number to women who are new at it. I want to be there for them, I want them to cry on me at 11:30 pm when their baby won't latch, when they hurt because they are engorged, when they can't figure out why their supply is low. You name it, I've been there, and I want to do whatever I can to comfort a newbie!

But my own story is that of a mom who nursed 2 out of 3. Not all 3. So I'm not in the club of exclusive nursing moms.

When I had Caleb, I had every intention of nursing him - at least at the beginning. I knew I had to go back to work, and I wasn't thrilled about the idea of pumping. But I wanted to give him a "good start" so-to-speak, and I tried. At the hospital and at home for the first week, I tried, without success, to get him to nurse. Looking back, I know exactly what I did wrong, but at the time, I didn't have as much drive to do it, and I didn't have the amount of fellow breastfeeding moms like I did later. With tears, I would try, and it was with tears that I gave him a bottle.

To be honest, though, I wasn't somehow worried about his health. While I know that they tell us breast is best, I was actually not convinced that his health and intelligence would suffer because I didn't nurse him. Josh and I are very healthy people, I would go as far as to say we are pretty smart as well! Neither of us were nursed, and this was back before all the super formula was made. So I gave Caleb a bottle of Enfamil, and aside from check ups, he never goes to a doctor. He never had ear infections, never had colds. He's tall and healthy, he's smart and witty, and I believe I did the best thing for him considering my emotions and mental health were completely shot as I kept trying to no avail.

I decided to try again when I had Sarah, and that was due primarily because I resigned from my job and was a new stay-at-home mom who couldn't afford formula! Plus, I knew I'd be home indefinitely, and the ease of nursing would be there for me. It was difficult, just like with Caleb, but by that time I knew exactly who to call, and that support system was what got me through the first difficult week. I nursed her for 13 months.

With Gabriel, I followed suit. I nursed him for almost a year.

So on one hand, I support nursing moms to the nth degree. I will fight for you, stand up for you, be there for you. On the other hand, I understand that nursing isn't always for everyone, either by choice right from the start or because nursing just didn't pan out for them. Just like being a stay-at-home mom or a working mom, I have been on both sides of the nursing mom or non-nursing mom issue.

And I'm glad I've been on both sides.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fifteen Years

Every year on this day, Josh and I always say "Happy First Date Day" to each other. I wrote about it last year in this post, and I think it's fun to go back and read it.

It was August 17, 1996. Hard to believe it was 15 years ago.

So much has happened in our lives, but we are still us.

And I can't listen to this song without tearing up. It has become my marriage theme song if you will.

So when I lose my way, find me
When I lose love's chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

I love you, Josh.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tackle it Tuesday (maybe)

I am contemplating starting a series on my blog called Tackle it Tuesday.

Tackle It Tuesday Meme

Over the last few weeks, I have grown very frustrated with my inability (or laziness?) to keep up with my house. I'm not talking about dishes or laundry. I'm talking about things like dysfunctional closets, cluttered cabinets, unorganized pantry. There are tubs of clothes that belong to my kids: clothes they've outgrown and I need to put them away somewhere. But because I have Gabriel, I can't just get rid of Caleb's old clothes, so they are sort of in limbo!

I hate it when my bedroom becomes my "dump everything" room - like when I cleaned the house for Caleb's birthday party and piled random things in there. I can't stand the playroom because I just can't keep up with what the kids get out - yes, this might be a parenting issue, don't shake your head at me! :)

So anyway, if I start this project, I will take pictures (how embarrassing) of each area I need to tackle and share before and afters. One of my long-term goals is converting the kids' rooms into boy/girl rooms rather than sleep/play rooms.

Would anyone want to take this challenge with me? Does anyone else have rooms/areas to tackle? Or am I the only one with a bit of messiness? :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

"If You Need Anything, Let Me Know."

My mom and dad had just sat down to dinner. Dad had grilled his famous, BBQ chicken. Mom had probably made one of her fabulous side dishes. It was just the two of them. I'm sure it was quiet and peaceful. A delightful dinner for a busy couple, a beautiful summer evening as well.

And then...the phone rang.

It was my mother-in-law, Mary. She had called to update my parents on the status of her husband's father, my husband's grandfather. A chain of events which started with a fall at our house on our front porch the day of Caleb's birthday had led to his hospitalization, and it still wasn't looking good. Through tears she explained that when she got home from work, she would travel up to St. Louis to be with everyone up there.

I imagine it was without so much as a second of hesitation that my mom said, "Mary, I will take you to St. Louis. I'm sure you don't need to drive being this upset."

I can also imagine that Mary was stunned. Not that it's not typical of us to help each other out like that. Our families have grown quite close over the years, but I think it's just that Mary recognized that my mom would instantly go.

"I just need to put on some better-looking clothes, and I'll be at your house as soon as I can!" my mom continued.

"Are you sure?" Mary asked. "That probably would be a good idea. Thank you so much, Susan!"

And just like that, my mom left. She drove Mary up to St. Louis, stayed for a few minutes to check on Steve, my father-in-law, and came home. It takes about an hour and a half to get there, an hour and a half to get back.

I share this because I'm proud of my mom for stepping up and helping like that. But also, because I think too often we use the phrase, "If you need anything, let me know." She could have said that on the phone that day. "Ok, Mary. Well, if you need anything, let me know." But she didn't. She DID something. In a very emotional moment for my mother-in-law, she somehow knew what to do.

Over the years, I have tried to refrain from using the phrase, "If you need anything, let me know." I am not at all saying people don't mean it. But really, it seems as though if we really just stop and think, putting others before ourselves, it will come to us what they need. Maybe it's a ride to a hosptial. Maybe it's a dinner. Maybe we need to watch someone's kids while they visit a sick friend. Maybe they need a Walmart gift card. Maybe they need you to feed their cat.

When people are in need, sad, or hurting, sometimes it's hard for them to ask for something. Before you use the phrase, just take a minute and think. You might be surprised what will come to you.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How Do You Meal Plan?

It seems as though I'm in a confessing type mood lately, so here is another confession:

I am horrible at meal planning.

We are often a very fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants type eaters, and this means we probably don't eat the best. I'm putting the word "probably" in there just to make myself feel better. I often don't shop ahead, I'm often scrambling to find something...anything...even if it's just something frozen in the freezer like pizza rolls or corn dogs or sometimes it's eggs, bacon, and biscuits. And I just hate that.

If I do, by some miracle, plan ahead, it's certainly not very exciting. I remember one time blogging about my best dinner being a Shake n Bake Chicken Parmesan. Yes. That's right. I admit it. I use Shake n Bake!

So I'm asking for advice - anything - that would help me in being a better meal planner. Maybe it's a website you've found. Tell me! Maybe you use a calendar and plan by the week, bi-weekly, or monthly. I would love to hear about it! What are your most favorite recipes that don't require a lot of strange ingredients?

I need your help!

Is this what you do? And how many options do you have?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

How I memorize. August 7, 2011.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

I Don't Read

It’s pretty much a running joke between me and my friend Maegan that I don’t read. The other day she posted something on her facebook page about placing an order with Amazon, and I responded, “I understand the excitement…because they sell more than just books!” Some of my friends who are writers have said things like, “But you seem to have a knack for writing. That usually comes from someone who likes to read.” I guess I’m an odd one.

So I’m confessing on my blog: I don’t read. It’s not that I don’t wish that I could curl up with a blanket and a book, a cafĂ© mocha on my end table, a novel in hand that a friend suggested. I wish I could be that person who loads up books with them on their vacation. The ones who say sitting on the beach with a book is a part of their relaxation time. I just can’t.

And it’s mostly because I’m a slow reader.

Picture yourself reading out loud to your children at bed time. You know…that pace. You read each word clearly, at a pace that they can understand. For whatever reason, that’s about the pace that my brain processes it when I’m reading to myself. I find it interesting that I did rather well in school, was in the upper reading classes when they had those in elementary school, made all A’s until probably 8th grade science, graduated from high school with a 3.5 if I recall correctly. College level courses are the ones that hit me the hardest! My pace for reading most certainly affected my ability to focus on the massive material I had to cover.

It just takes a really long time for me to get through a book. I guess it’s embarrassing in a way to even say any of this. But perhaps this is an indication of my high intelligence. Right?! Like when I’ve read quotes about certain geniuses being bad in school. It just means I’m a genius.

Or something like that.

This also determines which blogs I read. I tend to write short posts because I usually only read blogs who post short entries. If I have to keep scrolling and scrolling to read it, especially if the font is size 10 or something, you’ve lost me! I like short, direct posts that have me smiling, enlighten me on a subject, or share a life experience. The more wordy blogs are just not for me.

I can count on one hand the books I’ve read in their entirety. It’s sad, I know. I just can’t make it through them.

Does your pace of reading determine your like/dislike for recreational reading?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Happy Birthday, Caleb!

Today my first born turns seven. What sappy things can I say that haven't already been said? Oh, I can probably come up with several! With each new year brings new happenings in his life and sometimes even new character traits.

In less than a week, he will enter 1st grade. I think I'm still trying to process that he's school-aged. As he celebrated the end of kindergarten last spring, I remember thinking that time is going far too quickly. I feel as though I'm watching this little boy turn into a young man right before my eyes, and I recognize the huge responsibility that I have.

He is creative and has a sweet spirit. He is sometimes silly and witty, and it makes me smile. He has a strong will, and I embrace it and direct it, not stifle it. He is a very good big brother, even though he does irritate his little sister and little brother from time to time!

I love him more than words can say. He gives the best hugs. He notices when I get my hair cut or when I'm wearing a new shirt. He is a good reader, and his report card made my heart happy when it said, "Caleb is a good writer!"

When he does school work, more often than not he remembers his family first:

And today...he turns seven.

Happy 7th birthday, Caleb! You make me so proud in so many ways!