Friday, November 9, 2012

Playtime is so Rewarding

Yesterday was a really, really hard day.  Carson spent a lot of time in time out and I spent a lot of time praying I was being a good mommy.    By the end of the day, as Justin was walking out the door with Jonah to go watch his buddy's baseball game, I felt like begging him to take Carson with him too.

Then, I took a deep breath.  I had a choice in how I wanted the day to end.  And I decided I wanted it to end well.

I had already promised Carson we would play with his construction set while Justin and Jonah were at the game.  Playing construction is one of the things Carson and I used to enjoy when Jonah was at preschool and we would have three hours of uninterrupted time to hang out.  I recognize that Carson misses that one on one time with me, and I was looking forward to catching up with him.

The hour that followed our difficult day, our frustrating homework time, and our painfully long dinner, was one of the sweetest we have had in a long time.  Just the act of pulling out the construction pieces and Lego boxes filled me with nostalgia.  I remembered the times we enjoyed together when Carson was little, and I enjoyed him so much.   We built and played for an hour, and I didn't even realize the time had passed.

At one point, I looked up at Carson and said, "I love you."  Carson said, "I love you more.  And I'm sorry I was bad today."

My eyes filled with tears.  I reminded Carson that he was not a bad boy, but that he had made some poor choices that day.  I asked him why, and he did not have an answer for me.  But that was ok.  The heartfelt "sorry" and "I love you," were all I needed. 

I thought back to a book I have learned so much from, and have read and reread chapters from--Wild Things, the Art of Nurturing Boys, by Stephen James and David Thomas.  In it, the authors tell parents that often the way to get your boy to talk to you is to do something together that you both enjoy. 

Jonah doesn't want to come home from school and sit at the kitchen table with me and tell me about his day.  But when we go outside to throw the baseball, he's suddenly telling me about reading groups, who he played football with on the playground, and how he enjoyed the special treat I put in his lunchbox.  Playing catch is invaluable time spent with my little boy, and time I wouldn't trade for anything in the world.

It is hard sometimes to make the time to PLAY.  There will always be laundry, and phone calls, and dinner prep, and going through the endless stacks of papers.  But in the end, finding the time to play with our kids is priceless, and has a big reward.  When we make the time to play with them, they tell us things.  They open up their little hearts and let us in.  That to me, is one of the best parts of being a parent.

Friday, November 2, 2012


life rearranged
Our week in iphone pics... 

It's NOVEMBER!!!  That means I had to write December on my white board calendar (I keep two months going at a time in an effort to stay organized)!!!  So hard to believe we're here already.

This little guy jumped in my cart at Marshall's when I was supposed to be shopping for athletic pants (guess who doesn't want to wear jeans this fall?).  He was so cute and so cheap ($4.99) I couldn't pass him up.  Now, what to do with him?

Halloween dinner and a story.  Mummy dogs and a great book!  The weird black looking stuff is barbecue sauce Justin put on his plate before I had a chance to snap the pic. :)

Career Day at Stallings.  Baseball player and Rock Star.

Practicing for the spiders we would later make at Carson's fall party.  Ritz crackers with peanut butter, raisins for eyes, and licorice for legs.

Breakfast for dinner--a Sunday night tradition.  Here's my Mickey Mouse shaped egg yolk.  Wish I could say I had a hand in making it this way, but that is just how the egg yolk formed.

Halloween Fun Run at Stallings Elementary.

Carson came in third place for Kindergarten.  He was SO proud!

 How was your week?

Friday, October 26, 2012


life rearranged

Our week in photos...

I had to send this pic to my dad.  I saw these on sale at AC Moore and knew they were right up his ally.  He loves organization (I come by it honestly) and little plastic boxes come in handy when you are an organizer.  He reminded me of a Cosby show where Claire put Cliff on "Appliance Probation" and told me he is headed down the road of being placed on "Little Plastic Box Probation," so the boxes were a no go.  Now, how could I use them?  I am sure that I need them for something.

Carson made this sweet note out of Trader Joe's Cinnamon Schoolbook Cookies.  Yummy!!!  We took a picture and sent it to him on his phone.

I thought I would try "What I Wore on Wednesday" this week.  I love Lindsay at The Pleated Poppy's idea of using a weekly post as motivation to get dressed each day, but I just felt silly taking pictures of myself.  I thought I'd be brave and include just this one.  Forgive the dirty mirror.  I guess some good did come out of my attempt to take pics of my outfit--my mirror got Windexed!

The Little Green Witch!  What a cute story.  I have to brag about Carson's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Camp some more.  We LOVE her.  She sends home "book bags" with Carson with a fun book to read and extension ideas.  This week it is The Little Green Witch, by Barbara McGrath.  The book is a spin off of The Little Red Hen.  Instead of making bread, the main character in the story makes a pumpkin pie.  At the end, when the other characters want to help her eat the pie even though they didn't help make it, the witch turns them into little red hens!  So creative!  One of the extension activities is to make the characters.  So, here is Carson's witch.  After he made her, he decided to make the other characters so he added the ghost from the story.  Then he made a wand for the witch and the hen (out of his hand) that the witch turned the ghost into.   I love the creativity that Mrs. Camp is inspiring in Carson.  Our next project (which she called a "Super Extension" activity) is to write Little Blue R2D2.  Carson started it yesterday.  I thought I was going to write the sentences and he would draw the pictures, but before I knew it, he was halfway finished writing the story himself.  I love this newly discovered independence of his!
And here's the Little Green Witch, just hanging out on our kitchen bulletin board.  This bulletin board is one of the best things we have done in our house.  When the boys have something they are proud of, they pin it to this board that hangs right by our kitchen table.  It is just a simple cork board covered in fabric that matches the colors in our living area.  And it hangs low enough so the boys can reach it.   More to come next week on displaying kids' work...

My ninja and his brother.  We are in the Party City dressing room here, making sure the ninja's costume fits.  Like a glove, it did.  Cuties.

And this would be why we cannot find things in the morning when we are rushing around trying not to be late for school!  How did he even get his shoes in there?  And why?  I'll never understand the mind of a boy.

Yummy pumpkin-shaped spotted money sandwich.  Carson's fav.

So, that's our week in pics.  How was yours?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


I've been thinking a lot about perspective lately.  It is so easy to get bogged down with the busyness of life.  I look around my house and all I see are things I need to do.  I need to fold that basket of laundry, vacuum the bits of dog biscuits off my carpet, clean up the dishes in the sink.  I need to recycle the boxes left in a pile on the floor after Carson excitedly ripped open his presents on his birthday, and put his new Lego sets away.  I compare my house to that of others.  Her counters are never as cluttered as mine, and I never see stacks of papers on her desk.

What I've decided I need is a bit of a reality check.  A bit of PERSPECTIVE.  When I started looking at the "messes" around my house, and appreciating where they came from and why they are there, it was as if I was seeing everything with new eyes, and my heart began to soften.  Instead of feeling anxiety in my chest, and feeling overwhelmed by all the things that had yet to be taken care of, I became thankful for what is left in the wake of our busy life.

As silly as it sounds, seeing the basket of laundry on the floor, needing to be folded, became a reminder of the fact that we are blessed enough to buy clothes for our family, and to have a washer and dryer that cleans and dries them in less than two hours.

I am thankful for my sweet Summer, who comes in from the backyard, happy to see me, tongue ready to give kisses, and tail wagging, eager to receive her bone and go chew it up in our den.  She has brought endless fun to our family, and instead of seeing those pieces of dog bone as a chore, I remind myself she is such a wonderful part of our family, and we all love her.  Life wouldn't be nearly as exciting without her furry little self.

The dishes in the sink are a reminder of family time.  I am grateful that my husband sees extreme value in me staying home with our children, and that I can eat breakfast with my children every morning, without rushing around to get myself ready.

The pile of boxes and Lego sets is a no brainer.  My little boy is one year older, and we celebrated!  I thank God EVERY DAY for my sweet Carson (and Jonah, of course), and birthdays are such a powerful reminder of what a great gift my children are to me and Justin.

So, there it is.  Perspective.  I got some.  And I intend to keep it.  How have you gained perspective in your life?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Hello Monday

Hello ABC Books!

Is it really that time again?  Time for my little boy to turn eight.  This year I asked if he would like me to make his ABC book online, at Snapfish or Shutterfly, where it would have a really professional cover and pages.  He said, "No, Mommy, I like when you make it with your hands."  Priceless.  I remember Justin saying he thought I should make the books through the boys fifth birthdays.  How can I stop when they look forward to them so much, and it is a way for me to show them how much I love them, creating something just for them, with "my hands?"

It was like I was reliving Jonah's past year of triumphs and successes as I went through the last year of pictures on my computer.  I did things a little differently this year, and instead of going through the alphabet and trying to find a picture for each letter, I simply started with last year's birthday party, and went through the pictures throughout the year, picking the ones I felt captured the best memories of Jonah's twelve months as a seven year old. Baseball games, holidays, celebrations, firsts--it's all there.  When I look at the row of ABC books on the bookshelf in the hall upstairs, I feel a sense of peace, knowing I have captured important times from each year of Jonah's life.

Baby books and scrapbooks are great, but feel so overwhelming to me.  Yes, Bruce will definitely have a baby book (I'm even keeping up with the progression of the belly), but I will probably stop at one year this time, and do ABC books from there on out.  There is something so "do-able" about an ABC book.  It has a beginning and an end, and a due date.  When I told Jonah I was worried I would not get his ABC book done by his birthday, he acted like that might be the end of the world.  So, even if I have to pull an all nighter, it will get finished.  And the great part is, when it's done, it's done.

It's funny that I actually used the word, "do-able" in my last post about ABC books.

So, I have a little time this afternoon, before the boys get home and the craziness of Monday afternoon begins (homework, dinner and rush off to baseball), to work on Jonah's book.  And I can't wait!!!  Could I be (and maybe should I be) doing other things like laundry, cleaning, and organizing?  Sure, but this gift is important to Jonah, and I will do everything I can to make sure it is finished by his actual birthday.  I'd much rather be scrapbooking than houseworking anyway.

So, I made myself a Cafe Mocha with my handy Magic Bullet (because all projects like this one are more fun with a coffee drink) and got to work.

paper for background and letters
"scrappack" from AC Moore--love these because they are small scraps of coordinating colored paper that works perfectly to back my pictures
stack of pictures I printed at Costco
yummy cafe mocha

cutting surface
ready to go!

And I have one finished page--yay!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Finally Friday

I woke up this morning feeling totally exhausted.  And while there is a very good reason for my extreme tiredness (after all, I am growing a human being inside myself right now), I did not want to start my day, at 6:15 am, feeling at the end of my rope.  So, I decided today is a good day to celebrate all the awesome things that have happened this week.  And there are a few...
Perhaps the most exciting thing that happened this week is the boys saw Baby Bruce move.  Carson was giving me a check up and listening to my belly with the stethoscope when Bruce started moving around like crazy.  Not only did Carson and Jonah get to feel him moving, they saw my tummy jumping around around as Bruce did back flips in there.  They thought it was awesome...and the experience made the whole baby in the belly thing a little more real to them.  Yikes!
 I cleaned out Jonah's closet.  It was a long and laborious process (and I still have to go through his hanging clothes), but at least I can walk in here now!
 I walked a little one back to his room twice a night, the whole week long, and he still managed to find his way into Jonah's bed at least two out of the five nights.  Jonah is such a good, protective, big brother.
 I saw my two little guys out the door each morning.  Today, they wanted to wear football jerseys to school.  We laughed about how reflective they are in their LL Bean bookbags.  Fancy!
 This is Munchie.  Munchie went to have a haircut with me.  He also went to the grocery store with me.  AND I received a text from Mrs. Camp, Carson's teacher (THE BEST Kindergarten teacher there is) to make sure I was taking good care of Munchie.  This is the picture I sent her.  Munchie peeking out of my purse.  (Carson and I made Munchie out of felt.  He is a caterpillar who velcros to a butterfly (two separate pieces), and can fold into a chrysallis to go through his metamorphosis.  Carson and I were playing with him this morning and Jonah said, "Hey, Mommy, that's really cool!"  I guess my kids do appreciate my attempt at craftiness sometimes.)  

The idea for Munchie came out of a Big Backyard (National Wildlife Federation for kids) magazine.  Follow the link to make your own.
 Here is the text I received back from Mrs. Camp.  Did I mention how AWESOME she is???
 Yum.  Part of my lunch.  A banana covered with Cinnamon Raisin Swirl peanut butter.  This is not your ordinary peanut butter.  You gotta try it.  Thanks, Amber, for introducing me.  This is one of my all time favorite snacks now!!!
 BTW, the only place I have found it is Harris Teeter.  They have other flavors but I have not tried any of them.  If you have, let me know, OK?
And, last but not least, I finished this book!  EXCELLENT book.  Justin will be so glad to know I have finished it because now we can finally trade!  He read Greater, by Pastor Furtick, and I read Soul Detox, by Pastor Craig Groeschel.  I highly recommend this book, and Justin has had so many great things to say about Greater.  Can't wait to start it!
 And this is what we did with our early release day.  Stallings Park Splash Pad!  This was our first visit to the park since they remodeled it and it did not disappoint!  An added bonus is that we saw some of Jonah and Carson's friends from school and the kids had a blast playing together!
 And the perfect way to end a perfect day at the park is with a Frosty from Wendy's.  Yum.  Not sure why I spend lots of money at fancy yogurt places when I can treat myself and the boys to these tasty treats for $2.82.

And that's my Friday.  How's yours been?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hello Monday

Some things to celebrate today...

Hello kids who get up happy, excited about going to school, laughing and playing as they get dressed (how did I get so lucky?)

 Hello apples--that we picked-- sitting on my counter, waiting to be made into something delicious, or just enjoyed by themselves as a snack.

 Hello running with Leah, my great friend and neighbor, and enjoying beautiful 80 degree weather.

Hello, belly and baby inside who is now waking me up with his kicking.

Hello new decorations for a new space to relax, play music, and unwind.

Hello to my newly purchased messenger bag that we will use as a diaper bag!  Yay!  And this bag is on its way to me thanks to my awesome friend, Amber who texted me at 3 am (she was up nursing her sweet baby girl AND thoughtfully thinking of her friend),  to let me know that Lindsay, at The Pleated Poppy, had listed new messenger bags in her shop. 

Hello to a new week! 
 It's going to be a good one!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Dinnertime Helper and Summer List

Yesterday my kids seemed kind of antsy when they got off the schoolbus.  They wanted to watch tv and I wanted them to play.  At first they didn't want a snack and then they did.  Carson wanted to make a pirate map, and a pirate telescope, and a treasure chest.  No one seemed to be happy.  And then I thought of it.  Our summer list.

Now, I am not usually one for bribing my children.  And certainly not with money or toys.  But this summer, I had to have a plan to make sure we got some reading and other school related activities into each day.  So, I created a list we called our summer list.  I'd link it to this blog for you to see all the things we put on our list, but I have not yet mastered the art of linking to a word document.  Maybe I'll figure it out in all my spare time now that my boys are in school (ha, ha).  Anyway, some of the things on our list: Which Way USA (great Highlights program featuring books and maps about each state), Devotional from church, make a list of things that are blue, do your brother's chores, make a list of all the baseball players you can think of, write a letter to someone special.  I told the boys that once they finished their summer list and earned stickers for each activity completed, I would give them $5 to spend at Target.  They also earned $5 for completing a reading sticker chart.  So, at the end of the summer, they had the potential to have $10 to spend for their hard work.

Well, they easily earned the stickers for reading, because my boys read every day.  I feel very lucky to have kids who just like to read.  I guess they come by it honestly since Justin and I love to read as well.  The other chart was a little trickier.  So we did not finish it.  Well, when they got home from school yesterday, there was a Lego magazine from the previous night's mail waiting for them.  They immediately began leafing through it and picking out what they were going to buy with ALL their money.  When I asked what money, they told me the money they earned from their lists, and I had to remind them that they hadn't actually finished their lists.  So, they got to work, ready to knock that list out.  Who said bribery is a bad thing?

Jonah saw: make a maze out of paperclips on the list and his response almost made me fall out of my chair.  "Why haven't we ever done that before?  That sounds like so much fun!!!"  So, I got out a bag of colored paperclips I had been saving for this exact moment and Jonah got to work, creating his maze on the island in the kitchen.  It was time for me to start dinner, so I got busy myself.  And what followed was 45 minutes of intense concentration by Jonah, and curiousity from Carson that turned into his own paperclip project.  Of course, Carson's idea was not a maze, but we turned it into a learning project.  Carson has always marched to the beat of a different drummer, but the point of the activity was that it be a creative outlet, and Carson's idea certainly was creative.

This is Jonah's maze.  If you look closely, you can see the word FINISH spelled with paperclips near the left side of the picture.  START can kind of be seen at the right side.  Jonah asked me to time Carson going through the maze.   He just used his finger to find his way, and then it was my turn.  I offered Carson my watch to time me, but he wanted to count, which was fine with me--I never argue with a chance for my kids to practice counting.  I am certain they learned to count to 30 while we were in a tattoo phase and they had to count to 30 before lifting the paper towel off their arm after applying the press on tattoo.  We had to leave the maze on the counter until Justin got home today so he could have a try.  So far, Carson is the fastest at getting through the maze.

And, here is Carson's masterpiece.  He wanted to make something out of the paperclips, but not a maze.  My rule following child (that would be the first born), was concerned, thinking Carson wouldn't earn his sticker if he did not do what the list said.  I told Carson he could still earn his sticker if he wrote a sentence about the object he made out of paperclips.  Well, he did even better than write a sentence.  He drew a picture to go along with it and his sentence was the start of what is going to be a great story!  For those non-Kindergarten and first-grade teacher readers out there, his sentence says, "Once upon a time there was a cowboy with a metal lasso."  That would be the lasso he made out of paperclips.  And I love his horse.  Clearly he got his artistic abilities from his dad.  And thank goodness. :)

So, I thought there may be some mommies out there, struggling with the same thing I struggle with--how to entertain your kids while making dinner.  Try this one.  You'll be amazed at the fun kids can have with some paperclips!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Happy Birthday, Summer!

Birthday Party for Summer 

Summer's 12th Birthday


Today we celebrated Summer's 12th birthday!  We threw a doggie birthday party for her and she had so much fun!!!  So did we. :)

First we had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches shaped like dog bones.  We wore party hats and the boys decorated the front door with "Happy Birthday, Summer!" signs.

We sang Happy Birthday to Summer, before enjoying our sweet treat--Double Stuff Oreos.  Yum.

Then we made dog bone doggie biscuits for Summer.  Simple Simon's Birthday Bones, to be exact.  It was fun and Summer loves them too.  In fact, they smelled so delicious, we wanted to try them!  But we held back.

We wrapped up our party with a game of "Pin the Bandana on Summer." 

Summer is a lucky dog!!!