Monday, March 30, 2015

Stylish

Question: What do you get when your baby has glaucoma and goes through lots of pairs of baby sunglasses before you find a pair that she'll actually wear?

Praise the makers of Julbo toddler glasses--Emma loves these cute shades.

Answer: Lots of really stylish looking baby dolls left all around the house.
Abby and Grace find lots of uses for Emma's old cast-offs.


Wednesday, March 25, 2015

All Boy

It would be pretty easy for life to turn into Princessville around here. Dresses. Heels. Crowns. Magic wands. Dolls. Blankets. Stuffed animals. It's a little girl's paradise.
But every once in a while there are signs that remind us that it isn't all fairies and fantasy at our house

Like when Jake takes matters into his own hands and fixes the broken baby lock for me. (I didn't even have to ask.)
A boy needs his tools...


Or performs some minor surgery on the sewing machine...

Or when our garage door becomes the target for all the neighborhood Nerf guns/bows and arrows/other miscellaneous weapons...
Better the garage door than the window, I guess. 
Amidst all of the pink and sparkles, I am grateful for a son who is all boy.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

A Day at the Zoo

Sometimes with four small children I feel like I live in a zoo--loud noises, lots of messes, and children whose climbing and shenanigan-creating skills would put the average monkey to shame. 

Sometimes I feel like when I go places I should carry a banner that says, "The circus has just gotten to town." (Other times I realize that my advertisement is unnecessary--like on a recent restaurant trip when we were given a table in the back corner of the "family room". When I saw the mess we left on the floor, I decided they gave us the right table.)

Some days my delightful little rays of sunshine produce frightful thunderstorms. 

Other days life is sunshine and spring and I gather the strength for the days ahead. We recently had one of those days and it was, paradoxically, at the zoo. 

It was a Friday, the weather was warm (for the winter), and my dad and his wife had given our family a zoo membership for Christmas, so we went and had a ball for the day. 

Emma is finally doing OK outside now, and it was heart warming to watch her putter around on her little toddler legs taking it all in. (Such a big difference from when I took the girls to the free day at the zoo a year ago and Emma buried her head in her stroller and wouldn't open her eyes the whole time.)
Emma and Grace pose for a picture

Grace with the big gorilla statue
Since we didn't pay for admission, we splurged on some carousel rides. I loved seeing the kids' big grins.




Thank goodness for this little peacock seat that didn't move so I could ride the carousel with Grace and Emma.


When we got to the bird and reptile house, Emma loved walking around looking at everything. It was probably nice for her to be in out of the sunshine for a change.
Emma making herself at home on the walkway of the bird and reptile house. 
We recently finished a unit study on animals. The kids chose all kinds of animals they wanted to learn about, and we slowly (over the course of a few months) moved from mammals to birds, reptiles, amphibians, bugs, and fish. Wow did we learn a lot of amazing things. And it felt really good to hear Abby sharing occasional knowledge with Cameron (like the fact that sharks are made of cartilage just like our noses) and to have the kids oohing and aahing over a centipede they found outside "just like the one in James and the Giant Peach". So it was fun to see so many of these animals up close and talk about the things we had learned and remembered. Jake was on a personal mission to take a picture of every animal we saw. He got a few nice shots.
A volunteer brought this owl out for the kids to see.

Love how Jake caught Emma looking in at this little guy

It was one of those beautiful days that come from time to time in motherhood. The sun was shining, the kids were smiling, and I was oh so grateful to have my four kiddos all with me.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Storms and Sunshine

Last week the spring weather we've enjoyed for most of January and February was interrupted by a brief but effective snowstorm. For a few hours the flakes pounded down and we had a winter wonderland. Unfortunately, this all happened on the same morning I had agreed to meet a friend and her family at a local children's museum so our kids could play together.

When I first set out I figured roads would be snowy but not too bad. Boy was I wrong. Within ten minutes or so I was in white-out conditions. I couldn't see more than a few feet on any side and I was desperately wishing there was a reasonable way to turn around and bag it all. I couldn't see landmarks along the way to be sure of exactly where I was or how much farther I had to go. After a few minutes I told the kids I really needed them to pray for our safety.

"I already did," Jake said.

Then Grace piped in and started praying for us, and I felt an instant measure of calm as I was wrapped in the sweetness of a three-year-old's faith.

We inched along our way and somehow made it safely. It has been a while since I have been so relieved to be anywhere. Afterwards I told the kids we needed to stop and thank the Lord for our safety. Once again, Jake said he had already prayed his thanks. And once again Grace piped in and prayed and thanked the Lord for His help.

Sometimes life presents storms that we wouldn't choose. They're not comfortable and we wish desperately for a way out. We can't see the way and don't know when we will find the light at the end of life's messes. Sometimes there is nothing we can do but plead for the Lord's protection, comfort, and guidance. Some storms hit quickly and surely--last like week's snowstorm or my cancer. Some creep up on us and it takes us a while to realize we're in over our heads and we need the One who can walk on water to pull us back up.

As much as no one wants these experiences, when they are past we often look back on them and feel grateful for what we learned--the grace and strength God granted us, the packets of light that arrived at just the right time. When all is said and done, we wouldn't trade them for what we gleaned in the process.
Last week we got home and my kids all ran out to play in the snow and build a snowman. As evening fell and they were tucked in bed, I couldn't help reflecting back on the faith of my sweet children and the peace it brought. I wouldn't have chosen that storm. But I wouldn't trade the opportunity to feel my children's faith and have a divine reminder for all of us that in the sunshine and in the storm He is there.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Dishwasher Wars

Does the sight of another load of dishes waiting to be unloaded make you want to cry, scream, or raid your chocolate supply?

Are your kids ever less than enthused about helping clean the kitchen?

Or am I alone in wishing the kitchen fairy found my house a little more often?

Well, welcome to Dishwasher Wars, our current solution to kitchen clean up angst!

It all started when Cameron challenged Jake to see how quickly they could unload the dishwasher together. He claimed that when he was growing up he and his mom could put away a load in two minutes.

The result?
I decided that this had too much potential to let rest, and Dishwasher Wars began.

A few days later Jake and I together clocked in at 46 seconds.
(I should probably confess that our load was much smaller than the one Cameron and Jake had unloaded together.)

Not long after Cameron and Jake went for another record. Grace, Emma, and I all cheered.
The result?
Cameron has pointed out the possibility that our children may start running dishwasher loads with only one or two items to make the records easier to break.

Maybe he's right. For now, I'll just enjoy the extra kitchen help.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Watch Where You Step

On Monday this week we celebrated Dr. Seuss's birthday all day. We had green eggs and ham for breakfast, ate goldfish crackers in the afternoon (while reading One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish), made a Dr. Seuss birthday cake and Cat in the Hat hats, and read lots and lots of Dr. Seuss books. It was wonderful fun.


I also took the opportunity to explain to the kids that we would start having "creative time" every afternoon. (Really, this is just another one of my attempts to have quiet time at our house every afternoon. But I thought naming it "creative time" gave it a more user-friendly spin.) We had read Oh, the Thinks You Can Think and And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, and I talked about the wonderful imagination that Dr. Seuss had. Wonderful imaginations are best nurtured with time alone to think, imagine, pretend, build, create, explore, wonder,experiment, and ponder. I told Jake and Abby to gather supplies and take some time to create and that afterwards we would all talk about what we had done.

Jake went straight for his Nerf gun. "Ahh, yes," he said, "I'll need this to build a booby trap."

I better watch where I step. Who knew creative time could be so dangerous.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Super Cleaners to the Rescue?

Saturday morning is a time at our house when I insist on subjecting my children to work, responsibility, cleanliness, and organization. The kids all have their Saturday morning job charts, and I am usually busy with laundry or other housework that I've been trying to find a spare moment to attack.

Thus Saturday morning isn't always heralded with joy and rejoicing. Sometimes it seems the kids lay awake at night scheming new ways to whine and wheedle their way out of their jobs. And I wake up praying for the energy to survive it all.

So on a recent Saturday as I was walking Grace through the finer points of cleaning the kids' bathroom, I noticed how Jake was dressed.


Yep, Superman shirt on the front and Superman cape in the back. Perhaps he thought super powers would help him get through things a bit quicker?

The girls joined in, and it was just cute.



Perhaps the next time I need to do some deep cleaning, I'll borrow a cape.