Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Seriously, it's not even noon yet?!

There are two sides of every bed. I'm pretty sure that everyone in my family fell off the wrong side of theirs when they woke up this morning (besides Jeff, who went to work at man). Carter and Jack were both up caughing all night and got no sleep. I was up listening to the caughing all night and got no sleep. We were all groggy as we poured cereal into bowls and then groggy plus cranky as we cleaned up milk we had spilled in the process. I didn't have my first sip of coffee until about 3 hours after I woke up, which can prove to be detrimental to the health of my family. Jack took it upon himself (while I was outside with the puppy) to open my closet doors and pull every article of clothing off of our built-in shelves and tuck most of them inbetween the sheets of my unmade bed. I put the puppy in his kennel in the living room while I went to clean up the mess Jack made in the bedroom. Big mistake. Jack saw that I was busy and went into the living room and proceeded to feed the dog random household items by shoving them through the door of the kennel. Things like Jeff's deoderant, some string cheese and Natalie's toothbrush. Luckily, the toothbrush plays music and hearing it alarmed me enough to come running before the dog could actually EAT any of the stuff Jack provided him with.

It's not even 10 am yet and I'm having to remind myself that I do love being a stay at home mom, I really do. But I have to admit that I am looking forward to hitting the sheets tonight, if for no other reason than because falling asleep tonight will eventually bring a fresh start tomorrow.

Monday, March 29, 2010

My Day Off

The dryer vent is broken. As much as I'd like to say it's due to excessive use, I'm pretty sure it's not. It broke yesterday, and thank goodness Jeff was home because I never would have noticed that all of the "dryer air" was just floating around the laundry room instead of being ushered into the special vent to keep the fire hazard to a minimum. Oops. We bought a new venting system (Is that what the tube and accessories are called? I made it up, but it sounds pretty good, no?)and Jeff is going to install it tonight, which means that this is the best day ever for me... I hate doing laundry and now I have all day to not feel guilty for not doing it. I certainly don't do it everyday (or every week if I'm completely honest) so this day should be like most others, but the difference is that today the guilt is lifted. I'm laundry (and guilt) free, all day!

I am a little nervous for when he does fix it. The iron fell behind the dryer a few weeks ago and I couldn't reach it. He's going to find it tonight. I'm pretty sure there's a party going on back there where all the single socks get together and hang out. He'll find all of them too. I sort of feel like I should clean up the laundry room a bit so he has some room to work in it, but that would mean actually folding and putting away the 3 loads in baskets on the floor, which would technically put a stop to my official "guilt free day off" from laundry, which would then make the dryer vent breaking all for naught. All this thinking is not good on my day off. Maybe I should just finish the laundry that's gotten to the folding stage and look forward to the day that the vent breaks again. If I keep accidently dropping the iron behind the dryer, that day might, it just might, come sooner rather than later. Here's to hoping.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Kids and commercials

I'm not a fan of my kids watching too much tv. We do allow them to watch, but I don't like the idea of them getting immersed in the world of advertising at such a young age. Basically, I just don't want my kids to be materialistic. I don't want them constantly asking for things and ultimately thinking that having these things will make them happy. It is so easy for the thought "If I just had _______, THEN I'd be happy!" to creep in. I admit that I've caught that bug a dozen (multiplied by a hundered) times and it never brings more than instant gratification (that is pretty small and extremely short lived). I want them to know that their happiness and worth is so much more than the toys they play with. They are children of GOD and *that* is where their worth comes from. It's not like we don't ever buy them something that they see on tv. It's not like we keep them from watching tv because we're afraid that they will become spoiled brats. We just don't want them to become sick with the consumerism bug. However, when Carter looked at Jeff and I yesterday and said, "Can we please go to Chuck E. Cheese? Come on you guys, it's where a kid can be a kid!" my first thought was... Too late.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Choosing Love

I'm no marriage counselor. I haven't even been married that long (8 1/2 years), but I feel like over the course of these years I have learned a few things about marriage. There are some things that I can honestly say I had no clue about when we were just beginning on our journey. Marriage is hard work. It is humbling. It is exhausting. At times, it would be much easier to just throw in the towel. It's not always floating hearts, sweet words spoken and birds chirping.

That being said, I have also learned that it is so much better than I had imagined. On so many levels. My husband is my very best friend. I can tell him anything and know my words (and my vulnerable heart) are safe. When those times come that we do argue (or, a prettier word, discuss) I never worry about him throwing the "D" word out there or throwing past mistakes that I've made in my face out of spite. We don't dig up old dirt. We don't name call. We try really hard not to go to bed still upset. I know that at any given moment he's got my back. And I've got his. However, these things are much easier said than done and they were learned traits. Certainly not tendancies we were born with. It is hard, especially when you're mad, to fight well. We were both pretty green when we started out, but in the beginning of our marriage we learned (through much guidence) to shape our attitudes towards each other to be less self centered and more God centered and to build our marriage foundation on God's principles instead of our own. Everyday we have to make the choice to love. If we relied on a feeling or an emotion, we would have been done after the first big blow up. Love is not something that just comes and goes, it's a choice you have to make one way or the other, everyday. Somedays (most days hopefully) it's an easy choice. Some days though, it's a hard choice and sometimes it means big sacrifices that include putting pride on the back burner. We've both been in those shoes and they aren't the most fun to walk in, but they are the most rewarding in the end.

Everyday that we choose love over pride and forgiveness over bitterness we make our marriage stronger. We close the door to divisiveness and open the door to "happily ever after" a little wider.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Guilt Factor

I don't text and drive. I don't drink and drive. I don't let my kids ride in the car without being buckled. I don't let my kids jump on their beds in fear of breaking a nearby window, or their necks. I don't let them play in the front yard alone.

However, I do let my kids get dirty. Sometimes I let them eat food that fell on the floor. If Jack finds a fruit snack on the floor of the suburban that's been there for who knows how long, and it's not wet, I usually let him have at it. I let my kids brush their own teeth, and wash their own hands. I hand them the remote to the tv and tell them to watch cartoons on Saturday mornings because it usually means another half-hour before I have to get up and fix breakfast.

Sometimes I feel like I'm too hard on the kids. Sometimes I feel like I'm not hard enough. Sometimes I wonder if this is an epidemic that every mother comes down with the day she gives birth. I call it the "guilt-factor." I have come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter what kind of mother you are (stay at home or working, younger or older, biological or adoptive), or what you base your decision making on... no matter what, you will probably feel guilty and constantly be wondering if you're doing the "right" thing. Maybe it's a woman thing, but I'm pretty sure it's definitely a mom thing. I am always wondering if the decisions I'm making today (even the small ones) are going to forever shape the kind of person my kids are going to turn out to be. I'm wondering if my tone comes out harsher than I intended if it's going to ruin their ability to have compassion for others. I wonder if they watch an hour of tv more than they should each week if they are going to turn out to be lazy and unproductive adults.

I remember when Natalie and Carter were a few years younger, my sister in law (Jeanna) and her husband got a puppy. They were doing a great job of training her and working with her constantly. Then it happened. And I knew. Jeanna was going to be "that kind of mom." Her dog was getting into something and because she was around the kids, she looked at the dog and said what she would have said had the dog been one of the kids, "Jasmine, make good choices." Even though she has never lived that down, I know she'll be an awesome mom, but the fact that she talked so sweetly yet assertively to her dog and I have a hard time remembering to talk to my *children* that way was kind of a wake up call. For a minute. Then I remembered that everyone is different. Everyone can be on their game sometimes, but no one can be at their best all the time.

I'm banking on two things. One, that kids really don't start remembering everything until they're like 8 (or, cross your fingers, even later). And two, that no ONE thing I do (or don't do) will make or break my kids as individuals. The one thing I know for sure is that I need to just keep doing my personal best. I can't compare myself to others, because what I see is probably their best, not their most-of-the-time, and I just need to keep working at making my best my most-of-the-time... and not feel quite so guilty about the times that I don't.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Sticker Chart Mom

As of today, I am officially a "sticker chart mom." This is something I never would have guessed I'd ever be. It kind of makes me feel like after this I'm going to suddenly be so organized that next year I decide to home-school the kids or something. Don't get me wrong, I admire and completely look up to people who home school their children, but I can assure you I am not that organized nor am I patient enough to do it myself. It is for my kids' sake that I have not even tried.

Because our kids are normal, they have issues with arguing, talking back, and fighting with each other. I'm finally giving in to Jeff's suggestion of "getting creative" with how I deal with it. I pulled out the markers, construction paper, tape, and stickers and I got to work. I made a "sticker grid." When the charts were done, I was quite pleased with myself and the work I had put in. I explained the rules and we were off. To say the kids were thrilled would be a major understatement and the plan has worked effortlessly... for an hour and a half now.

Although I am no SuperNanny, I have to admit to feeling a little more like her with my sticker charts proudly displayed across the refridgerator. The kids love them. I love them. I may not be home schooling next year, but I am three little sticker charts closer to believing that if I had to do it, I could.

My World

I live in a world where adult conversation is hard to come by. I'm pretty sure the lady at the drive-thru coffee shop at the end of the street doesn't think selling me a $3 coffee is worth the 10 minute "chat." I savor conversations with people who don't ask me for milk. On the rare occasion that I get to go grocery shopping by myself I usually stroll down every isle, then pick out the longest check-out line, grab a smut magazine (People) and pretend I'm on vacation for 12 minutes. I love going for drives, if for no other reason than because the kids are buckled in and can only do "so much" damage.

The funny thing about all of this is that when the kids are at Grandma and Grandpa's for the night I think about them non-stop. I love the breaks I get from my normal routine but I love the breaks to be just long enough for me to really appreciate my day-to-day life. Sure, Jeff has come home from work before to find me on the computer looking for a full-time job on Craigslist, but most days he comes home to a happy, crazy, excited wife and kids with "you-won't-believe-what-toy-got-flushed-down-the-toilet-today" stories to tell him as we sit down for dinner.

Again, I don't have much adult conversation during the day. Most days. But I say this knowing that someday my kids will be grown, and I will be sad that I don't have kid conversations anymore, and I will look back on these days knowing they were good days, and I'm sure I will miss them. A lot.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Jack vs. Tucker

I have been trying really hard to be patient with Jack, as I understand that he has been the baby in the family for 2 years. He was pushed out of this honorable position 2 1/2 weeks ago when we brought Tucker (our yellow lab puppy) home. At first Jack was super excited about having this new addition around. He played with him and wanted to feed him and was excited to take him outside with us when it was "potty time" for the dog. However, his enthusiasm has slowed down a bit as he's realizing we are in fact, keeping the dog.

Jack is now seeing that even though we might be in the middle of reading a book, if Tucker acts like he has to go to the bathroom, we jump up and rush him outside to go. When we get up in the morning our priority is to take the dog out as to keep the "accidents" in the house at bay. Our efforts have been successful thus far... in our eyes anyway. Jack does not get so excited about the pottying habits of the puppy. He has in fact taken to saying "BAD DOG!" when Tucker does something (anything, really) that he doesn't like (a phrase that neither Jeff, nor I, have said even once since bringing Tucker home). I can understand Jack's frustration as we have brought home new babies to less than thrilled toddlers waiting at home before. He hasn't been physically aggressive with the dog, just slightly verbally abusive with the "BAD DOG!" yells at any given moment. As I said before, I have been trying really hard to be patient with Jack as he navigates his way through the newness of our family dynamic shift, but I figured out that something has to give this morning when Jack asked for milk and I didn't get to the fridge fast enough and he looked right at me and yelled, "BAD DOG, MOMMY!"

Saturday, March 13, 2010

My calm

There's a calm in the house right now. The kids are asleep in bed and Jeff is asleep on the couch. I can barely hear NCIS in the background from the living room and I can barely see the glow of nightlights under the kids' doorways down the hall. The dishwasher is running it's normal night-time wash routine and I am content listening to it's buzz as I reflect back on how great of a day today was. Nothing extrodinary happened at our house. Nothing happened that would cause alarm, or even be remembered for that matter, but it was a great day even if, for no other reason, than because we spent it together. As a family. We laughed. Man, we love to laugh. And we sang. We love that too. We ran around outside, we took a drive, we played with the puppy, we prayed together, and we read books. We relaxed and did nothing at all. It was well spent because we spent our minutes in each other's company. We are a family. Knowing this makes my heart, and my house feel calm.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Then vs. now

When we had kids we were practically kids ourselves. It was a week before my 22nd birthday when our little 3 lb. 5 oz girl was delivered (pulled out of my cut-open abdomen while I lay unconscious on a sterile bed). Needless to say, it was traumatizing (you know, after I woke up). We grew up really fast in the few years that followed as Carter came a short 18 1/2 months after Natalie. Jeff and I scrambled to finish college in a hurry and life was quite the wirlwind back then... but nothing, NOTHING prepared me for what it would be like as a stay at home mom (SAHM).

Life now (as I know it) would appear, from the outside anyway, to be much slower. However, inside my brain, things move at a rate my pen-on-calendar can't even keep up with. We have a first grader, a kindergartner and a 2 year old. Just writing it makes me feel nervous, and then I remember that I'm LIVING it everyday. I'm not babysitting, it's not for a weekend, and I'm not getting paid.

In our house no one has the same library day, homework is never due on the same day, no one ever likes the same food for dinner, and everyone always wants your attention for something different at the same time. However, if they get something different without specifically asking for it a war breaks loose. At the end of everyday, when I'm laying my head on my pillow I often look at my night stand and feel like I should have some sort of medal laying there, just because I actually made it to the end of the day (and amazingly enough, so did the kids!).

My whole life all I've ever wanted was to grow up, get married, have kids and raise them to love Jesus, their family, and others to the best of their ability. I had no idea it would be so crazy, so busy, so manic... or so wonderful.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Dishes and Dora

I started the dishes exactly 12 minutes ago. When I started, I had the boys playing peacfully in their bedroom. I turn off the water immediately when I'm done and I hear Carter in my room and Jack in the living room. They both have turned on a t.v. to Dora the Explorer (which really doesn't rhyme, no matter how you say it) and both are answering "Yes!"... "No!" to those questions she asks, but somehow never gets answered. Seriously, it's like surround sound from where I'm sitting. I guess it's time to hide the remotes again. Hopefully not so well that when I finally get to sit down and watch a home-improvement show it takes me 45 minutes to find them (like last time).