Those little moments that make it

Every now and then in the trenches of mothering young children (many of them) there are sweet moments that make you step back and realize how ‘worth it’ it all is.

If I did better at recognizing the moments, I’m actually quite sure they happen more often than “every now and then”.

It’s just that the poop on the wall, the toothbrushes all lined up IN the cat litter box and the 100th request of the day for something, all these things hinder my ability to see the sweetness.

Like today, after a couple days of working out in the morning (which gave me more energy than my half pot of daily coffee intake), surviving my coffee-fast (in an effort to calm my poor stomach),  by 3 PM I hit a wall (today was NO workout+NO coffee=disaster).  I had been reading out loud to the older two kids for over an hour, I couldn’t believe they still wanted more and I didn’t want to say no.  But I finally said, “Hang on while I make some coffee and we’ll read more!”.

I went to make coffee.  But I dropped the entire canister of beans onto the kitchen floor.  It was loud, the kids called out “Are you okay?  What happened mom?” from their post with the book waiting for me.

“I spilled coffee beans all over and made a huge mess!”  I answered.

No sooner had the words come out of my mouth then the kids both popped into the kitchen.  Didn’t say a word.  Both just bent down, starting scooping up beans and putting them in the sink.  We worked and cleaned together.  I started to thank them and wound up in tears.  There is something so sweet, so precious about watching your kids respond instantly in the right way.

It’s easy to chalk up the times they get it wrong and buckle under the temptation of ‘mommy guilt’.   It’s equally easy to forget to commend them when they do get it right.  This coffee-bean-moment was one where we all got it right and it made my day.  Despite the fact my head is pounding and I haven’t washed my hair in three? days and I’m still in my pajamas.

As I hugged them and their little chests puffed with pride, Rylee said to me “See mama, we all worked together and it got done so fast didn’t it?”.

Yes it did.  And I was thankful, again, that they are here with me.  Just like I was earlier today when Rylee was holding cards up and teaching Kyler his letter sounds at the table.  And when I found Rylee getting Audrey all set on a chair with picture books, her favorite monkey and her lovey, “So she can have quiet reading time like me mama” she informed me.

I adore what happens every day around our table for six.

Green eggs and…

At 2 AM Christopher came in, he’d fallen asleep tucking Rylee into bed.  He went out to lock the chickens up for the night.  I’d been asleep for hours.

He says to my sleeping self “So I just went out to the chickens, everything was all opened up and-”

I immediately open my eyes expecting him to say one of the chickens had been eaten.

He continues “I found something.  It is pretty neat.”

I’m too out of it to inquire.

“A green egg” he says with a smile I can hear.

My eyes open again and I jump out of bed and run to the kitchen, flip the lights on and pick it up.  I’d wondered all along if our beloved Bubba chicken, long the favorite of all especially Caleb, would actually lay colored eggs like we expected.  Since the first egg we got Caleb has hoped every day for over a month that his Bubba would lay an egg.  We had initially at two Auracanas to lay us blue/green eggs, but someone accidentally stepped on the other as a baby so she was gone.

So all hopes were laid on Bubba.  And for her first, I expected a faint bit of blue or green on a pale egg.

Instead in the middle of the night in my kitchen, I saw this lovely thing:

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Boy was there a lot of excitement here this morning!  What a fun learning adventure these chickens have been for us!

A typical homeschool day (for us!)

With four kids between ages 17 months and 6 1/2 years old, we wanted to not take ourselves too seriously but we also wanted to establish a habit and pattern of learning daily.  Of the many reasons we are homeschooling, one is simply that we believe that learning at home allows for children to be free to express themselves in various ways but especially through ample time to play.  Every week as we are soaking in new things, I love sitting back and watching their new knowledge manifest itself in where their imagination takes them once they are free to roam.

So since Kristin asked, here’s what our days are shaping up to look like as we’re beginning the fourth week of ‘school’:

6:15 ish – Dad leaves for work and always whispers goodbye to me in bed (this is my signal to start waking up, this and the chickens who are waiting for me outside my bedroom window)

6:45 ish – Kids starting to stir, I grab a shower or coffee, whichever seems more necessary for the day (usually coffee)

7:30 or 8 – Breakfast (kids make eggs or oatmeal or toast or I make pancakes or waffles)

8 ish – Everybody gets dressed, food packed if we are heading for an outing later, then we play for a bit (Rylee feeds the dog and cat, Caleb or I let out the chickens!)

9 or 9:30 – We snug on the couch to read the book of the week from our Five in a Row program then we sit and I ask questions and we usually talk about a different aspect of the book for about 20 minutes each day.  The FIAR manual is a great starting point for ideas and more come as the week moves on.  I’ve been focusing each day on one area like history or art or language in relation to the book.

10 ish – Then we play and I pick up the kitchen and drink more coffee 🙂

10:30 – I break out the fun box for Kyler and Audrey to play with.  It is reserved only for while I’m working on things with the older two.  During this time I do a math activity often out of Family Math, a book Kim recommended that we love.  Or we just make up games and play with manipulatives and talk about numbers.  We’ve started Math-u-See twice now and they’re not quite ready yet.  Especially Caleb needs a lot of movement by this time, bouncing on the ball, rope swinging, or spinning – whatever.  Just don’t picture us sitting still, they learn best when they are moving.  Even Rylee without any sensory processing issues.

11 – We play, I get lunch started and check email, we often go for a walk at this time (and talk about nature and animals while we’re out) if at all possible.

12 – Lunch

1 – The little two  go down for naps – I use this time to do our handwriting (HWT) and phonics (Explode the Code) work with Caleb and Rylee.  They are both using the same workbooks and both are loving it.   The competition issue has been a bit rough, another post later about that!  We also read several Bible stories out loud at this time, they always seems to talk me into ‘one more’ about 3 times.  Our longer read aloud time is best done when the little two are sleeping.

1:30 or 2 – Rylee (yes, oldest!) if need be, takes a nap then and Caleb plays with puzzles or cars or legos

4 – Everyone is up, I’m getting dinner started and I’m possibly missing the TV a bit at this hour

5 – We ride bikes and play outside if dinner is cooking

6 – Dinner, if we’re lucky this includes Daddy

7:30 – Bedtime parade begins: Caleb, Audrey, Kyler, Rylee – in that order!

8:30 – Rylee is at her best at this hour.  Sigh.  I wish I was!  She will work on reading and writing again at this time especially if she was tired and napped earlier.

9 – We work on reclaiming the house, we’ve promised to not ‘check out’ for the day till that happens and it’s made a world of difference for me feeling like I can tackle each day

11 – On a good day we go to bed by this time,  trying to pray together but sometimes falling asleep while we do…

And then there’s always more coffee and a fresh start for the next day.  Thank goodness.

Not Me Monday

Nothing earth shattering this week but since it always feels good to ‘admit’ to what I didn’t do, as part of MckMama’s weekly blog carnival…

I did not lick my daughters face when I found her messy with yogurt all over her cheek and could not find a napkin.

I did not have second thoughts about the fact that we got rid of our TV 2 months ago on a rough day when all I wanted was to stick a DVD on for my kids.

I did not have a tear filled meltdown (that lasted over an hour!)  when our homeschool co-op fell through.

I did not bribe my children with ice cream while we shopped at Costco.

I did not suggest we skip church and hang out as a family at the beach instead because I missed my husband so much and just wanted to exist with him and our children all together.

I did not decide that I should let our 3 year old have his binky in the car even though he shouldn’t even use a binky anymore…just so I don’t have to listen to his ‘car shriek voice’ that hurts my head.

I did not complete only 2 of my 6 days of the new workout I’m trying to do (you know, the one I paid $75 for just one “amazing”  DVD!!) because I hurt so bad I could barely move.

I did not let my kids eat leftover apple cake for breakfast so I could put this post up real quick!

I love Mondays.

I love fresh starts and another chance at getting things right that I didn’t last week.

A gift my parents gave me

gift

Same as most people, there are things I want to do just like my parents did and there are some things I’d like to do differently.  A few nights ago I was reminded of something they gave us that was perhaps one of the greatest and most character shaping gifts they gave.

From an early age, before my memory even, my parents modeled a life of loving others.  When I was a baby, they welcomed a Laotian refugee family into their small home and my dad lost 15 pounds eating what they ate, mostly rice.  When I was an adolescent they welcomed unwed pregnant women who had no place to live and no one to support them in their choice to give life to their babies.  Seeds of unselfishness and sacrifice were planted in our lives. It wasn’t perfect, one girl taught my sisters and I how to unwrap our Christmas presents so we knew what they were then how to carefully wrap them back up so no one would know!  When no young mother was living with us, we hosted a Japanese exchange student and another time two twin homeless men who smelled so bad I can remember it still.

Into my early teen years just when any twelve year old is convinced that the world revolves around her and a small offense is a major infraction, my mom went back to work.  She found a job in private home health nursing.  She would provide care for two men with muscular dystrophy.  They were twins and the youngest of 5 children.

These two men quickly became a part of our family.  I honestly don’t even remember being apprehensive about their big wheel chairs, or the different way they talked or the fact that they were quadriplegics.  I remember being amazed at their sense of humor, at the fact they coached adult softball games and at the way they lived life despite tremendous limitation.  They let me and my 13 year old friends come play at their beautiful home and sing karaoke for HOURS.  They took our whole family, my mom working for them, to Sun Valley in Idaho one summer.  We sat at so many softball games where they coached from their chairs and were brimming with life and attitude.

My mom could have let it just be a job.  But it wasn’t.  Not for her.  It was a calling on her life for a season.  And we were all profoundly blessed as it unfolded.

Our mom worked for them for many years, her life, our family and Rod and Randy were all changed in the process.  Eventually she was led to a new job but we have remained in touch over the years.  On Wednesday, Rod and Randy took my little sister and I to a Colbie Callait concert.  The concert was monumentous.  Truly amazing at a small venue in Seattle.  But what was more amazing to me after our night when I got home and told Christopher about the concert and tried to talk but couldn’t because I was so choked up, was the impact these two men had on our family.  I really hadn’t pondered it too much before and when I did, I was overwhelmed.

Rod told me that night as we had a long time to talk before the show that he was so glad our mom had come into their life and that it was at a time that they so needed it.  I simply answered, “We felt the same about you”.   And that’s the truth.

My parents have lived a life of loving people-radically, extravagantly so.   The way that I feel comfortable around people who are very, very different than me.  The way I walk into a room and can pick out who most feels left out and who needs love.  The way my heart breaks for the marginalized and less fortunate.  All these things are the fruit of watching parents who weren’t afraid to generously love the people around them.

I can’t speak for my sisters but I can say at least for me that this is probably the thing I want most to do well the way they have.

America and the ‘1.3 child family’

If you’ve read our blog very long you already know how we feel about children.  They are a gift – one to be received as such with no exceptions.  The disintegration of the American family can be chalked up to a myriad of reasons but I believe one of those core reasons to be our perspective on children.  Our nation as a whole has embraced, especially since the 60’s, a mentality that says:  “Children are a liability.  They are a burden to bear.  They are an obligation.  They are an expense.  They are an inconvenience…and so on”.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m not at all, never will, saying that all families should have a multitude of children.  That is an intensely personal and spiritual decision.  I am however saying that the way we respond to the small people in our life (be them our own or others) should leave them feeling cherished, valuable and significant.

Not just because it sounds good – but because they truly are.

Tonight when I watched Rylee and a new friend on her soccer team chatting it up, I was happy watching them together and wondered what they were talking about with such expression.  After practice was over and we were playing at the park, I asked her what they’d been talking about so much.  She said “Mom, she just kept saying the SAME thing over and over and over!”

I empathized with her obvious frustration and reminded her of her own persistence at times.

Then I asked what the girl had said.  Her answer blew me away and instant tears welled up in my eyes.

Rylee explained what the girl had been saying:

“Well Mama, she kept saying ‘Your mom has too many kids, your mom has too many kids, your mom has too many kids’!  I asked her to stop again and again and she kept saying the same thing.  She told me ‘Your mom has so many kids she really should sell you.  She should sell at least two of you.  My mom has 2 kids and that’s enough.’  It made me really sad Mama.”

Just typing the words makes my heart hurt.  I realize everyone has their own ideas and opinions on the matter.  Which is fine.  But when they imprint those ideas on the hearts of their children who in turn share those words with my children….I don’t know what to say.

My children are used to people saying “Wow, you’ve got your hands full!”  or “You can always duct tape them to the walls and leave them at home” or “You must be crazy, four kids?”.  But to hear those sentiments from a peer had a whole different impact.

Sigh.

Off to snuggle wet heads and read bedtime stories.  Just with a little heavier heart than usual.

Slim in 6 for all

The pressure of having posted here about my goals to start the infomercial workout program that I recently bought proved enough to motivate me to do it today even though I had the pleasure of babysitting my nephew all day in addition to my own four little peeps.  Wow it was busy but fun and we’ll totally do it again.  We even snuck in a good bit of homeschool today too, little Isaac should have a good handle on the story of Ruth.  We also read to him about Abraham and Isaac from the Bible.  He seemed a bit worried but was relieved when it worked out all right in the end.  He also sat in Rylee’s lap while she worked in her handwriting book.

After his departure, despite being a bit more tired than normal, I was determined to hunker down and bust open the DVD that has sat for many long weeks unopened on my dresser.  Of course 3 of 4 kids were awake so I cheerfully offered for them to work out with me.  They promptly stripped down to their underwear (don’t ask me why) and lined up with me.  They were slow to get started but about when I was starting to wonder if I’d make it through the 26 minutes, they were full steam ahead.  And just at the end when I was muddling through some wicked crunches I heard a click and whipped my head around to find Christopher taking pictures.  He was home early from work.  What a lovely surprise!

Here are some anecdotes from our family workout session…

The lady on the screen announces it’s ‘time for crunches’ and I groan, hoping to survive for 5 more long minutes but my lanky little 6 year old  says energetically:

“I LOVE these, you can keep it on and I’ll do these all day.”

Attempting squats and being quite squaty himself –  Kyler:  “This one so tricky” (falls to the ground)

Caleb:  “Mom, you do it like this, you’re doing it wrong.”  (I almost respond “I’m just trying to not hurt myself!”)

Rylee:  “Breathe mom, you’re not breathing.”

Simultaneously:  “This is so easy.” (Caleb)  “This is so hard.” (Mama)

Mama (shrieking) – “Put that camera away right now!!!”

We’ll see if I can move tomorrow but Day 1 is in the books.  And yes I did eat more than 5 peanut M & M’s today.  And yes I did drink 5 shots of coffee and drink 2 Yerba Mate energy teas.  Yes I did run through the McDonald’s drive through just to get some chicken nuggets on the way home from the park with all 5 little people.

But I’ve got to start somewhere right?

And since my husband will post this picture if I don’t, here is what he captured as he silently entered the house this evening…

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The 12th Man

Qwest

A week ago Friday was my birthday and I had the privilege of working an extra long day.  What made it a little bit easier to digest was the fact that I won two tickets to the Seahawk’s game against the St. Louis Rams from 710 ESPN Radio.  I flipped on the station and heard that they would be giving away tickets to game in fifteen minutes.  I thought, why not, and dialed the number at the right time.  After four busy signals I finally got through and to my surprise, I was the 12th caller and had won tickets to the game.  I was so surprised I had a little trouble giving them my name and then after I got off the phone I realized I didn’t know how many tickets I had won. Upon figuring out it was a pair of tickets, I asked Todd if he want to join me via text since he was teaching at the time.  He immediately responded with “Heck Yes.”

Tailgate

Sunday morning finally arrived and Todd and I headed down to the game to find a spot to set up our tailgate (Hyundai style).  We are not quite ready for the big boy tailgating as I was amazed at the set up that so many people had by their vehicles.  But, I was enjoying every moment of our little pregame set up with our boiled hot dogs, chips, cheese and crackers, and choice beverages.

We picked up our tickets in the Event Center and enjoyed a great showing of Seahawk dominance.  28-0 over the lowly Rams.  I had always heard about the influence of the 12th man, but being a part of it was a fun experience.  The first Ram’s offensive play of the day was blown dead for a false start penalty.  The crowd was really into the game the entire time, even when it got to be pretty clear the Hawks were going to blow them out.  I would like to go again some time and definitely recommend checking out a Seahawks game at least once in your life.  This game is definitely in my top ten sporting game experiences.

After the game, I began to think about what other sporting events I would like to attend.  I would love to go to some World Cup games, and would love to attend the Olympics at some point in my life.  If you could go to any sporting event, what would it be?

My “Slim in 6” review

Well it’s been six weeks and I have a quick little product review to share tonight.   I was hoping to be able to give you an awe inspiring recap that justified my very first infomercial purchase.   It was supposed to “literally reshape your body in 6 short weeks”.

Yes, six weeks ago my promising DVD came in the mail.  True to form for any infomercial you feel like you are getting more than what you are paying for.  When I purchased it I declined no less than 10 extra offers of product enhancements and add on’s that were sure to guarantee my success but I felt like I was already getting several workouts on DVD and extra stretchy workout bands too and…wait for it…

A tape measure.  My very own.  Perfect for calculating the inches lost in just 6 weeks.  All valued at $375.  Really?

Such value I told myself.  Absolutely totally out of character for me, honest.  This video program would help me get the ball rolling and jump start my goals to lose some post baby weight before I add any more to the mix.  It sounded perfect for me.  I even had aspirations of doing a half-marathon by November with my new, even just a tiny-bit-more-fit self.  It was possible.  And I could do it.

True words I’m sure but I must share with you the truth of the matter six weeks after buying the spendy “Slim in 6” program.  {The one I was going to do while my hubby was working and not tell him so he could be totally wowed as the pounds just vanished into thin air}

I promised a simple, concise review and here you have it:

If you don’t open the plastic wrapper that the DVD comes sealed in and don’t do it even once in 6 weeks, it will not help your weight loss goals one bit. Your tape measure will not lie and in fact might add an inch here or there because, lets be honest those soft pink iced cookies from the grocery store and the ‘occasional’ donut added onto your coffee order have only added to the dilemma.

Goodness, I even bought new exercise shoes for the big new plan.  The other ones had seen four pregnancies in 6 years and definitely had done a good job for me-it was past time they be retired.  But I’m feeling a tad bit guilty that the only action my snazzy new Asics have seen is a fast walk through the neighborhood.

So there you have it.  Slim in 6 may be a great program and may be worth every penny (yes, I noticed I haven’t told you how much it costs) and it may transform some people into ‘slim’ in a few short weeks.

Just not me.

Not yet anyway, I am setting a new goal of starting the workouts next Monday.

What’s that?  Why not tomorrow?  Back in the saddle straight away?

Because people, I’ve never been IN the saddle to begin with.  I’m frankly no where near the horse.

And because I’m sure I have a few sugar binges left in me before I hunker down and work on things in a serious fashion.

I promise to post another (real) review in 6 weeks and let you know how it goes.  If I live through it.  Which is questionable for sure.

Just Heard Thursday

We are about to start our school time today but really quick I wanted to share these before I forget, no time to find my husband’s nifty logo, maybe later!  These were things I heard this week that made me smile…

Mama:  “Kyler, please finish your waffles.”

Kyler:  “Can’t, puppies don’t eat waffles.”

(later this morning) Mama: “Please put some underwear on.”

Kyler:  “Puppies don’t wear underwear.”

(finding Kyler sucking a pacifier reserved for sleeping) Mama: “Kyler, puppies don’t suck binkies, take it out.”

Kyler:  {silence}

Feels good to beat them at their own game some days!

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Yesterday heading to the city for a baseball game….

Rylee shouted:  “The Space Needle!!”

Kyler shouted back out of the blue:  “Darth Vader!!”

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On the ferry to an island close by yesterday, a ferry worker heard Caleb talking back to his mama…

Ferry man (very good naturedly):  “Do I need to take you up to see the captain son?  You best not be givin’ your mama a hard time.  Know what?  Mama’s number one.  Who’s number one?  Mama.  Always number one.  See, she’s driving you all over today.  Bet she feeds you too.  When you’re a teenager and you stick to high heaven, no one else but your mama is gonna tell you to get your stick (deodrant) and use it.  Nope.  Only mama.   Number one.  You done giving her a hard time?  You gonna treat your mama right?  I hope so.

Number one.  Don’t forget it son.

Caleb hid his head at all the fuss but he was quite a polite little boy the rest of the day.

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After getting scolded for being an aggresive driver by my husband yesterday (I simply didn’t want to share the carpool lane with a CHEATER) this conversation ensued:

Our young friend we brought with us said this:  “If it were my dad driving, he would honk his horn and flash his lights a lot.  Then he would follow real close.  Then he would back way off.  Then he would follow them home to their house…”

We laughed hysterically.  But I think she was serious.

Chris asked :  “What would Jesus do?”

Rylee:  “Probably not that.  Probably be patient and wait.”

Mama (sheepish):  “Probably.”

Kyler chiming in:  “But if Jesus was standing on the sidewalk.  He might get runned over by a car.  That be so sad.”