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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Now THAT'S Tired!

Chase hardly ever takes naps anymore, so he snuck one in when we least expected it.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder

The First United Methodist Church in our town has a program called Parents Day Out.  In the summer they provide week or two-week long sessions -- sort of like day camp.  I signed up all three kiddos for the past two weeks.  So, from 9 - 2 every day each child goes to their own "classroom" and has a day full of fun activities planned for their age group.  This is probably the most time my kids have spent apart from each other since birth.

Each of us learned a few things.

Samantha -- Age 5
Sam made new friends right away.  She learned how to do a cartwheel and especially loved packing lunches. She wants to do that even at home this year, she said.  She made a different craft every day (her favorite thing on the planet). Some examples: a nail board (you see Chase carrying it to his classroom to show off below), a rain/shaker instrument thing, and a cowboy vest.  Here's the challenge for me:  can I make Kindergarten at home as fun for this social girl as she wants it to be?

Chase -- Age 3
Chase made new friends, too and had lots of lessons in how to get along. After a while some of the boys didn't play so well together and he came home with a few scratches on his face one day. Momma was defensive and protective in a flash! A fine line men must walk:  don't pick fights, walk away from a bully, stand up for your friends. So how early do you teach them to stand up to a bully?  Maybe not at three.  But obviously sooner than I thought!

Ava -- Age 22 months
Ava loved the other "babies" and loved getting messy in the water play and finger paints. Every day the notes came home that she was so sweet and loved playing with her friends.  We always picked her up last and Sammie and Chase would run to her and hug her and say, "Hi, Girlie. Did you have fun today?"
Kristin -- Age 36 
I've spent my time reading some (Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult and Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.) I wrapped a few Christmas presents I picked up at a yard sale and also researched and ordered Sammie's Kindergarten curriculum (more on that later).  Oh, I also colored my hair back to its almost natural color (I don't exactly know anymore what it is -- some sort of mousy brown or dark blonde or some other flattering way to say drab) and rearranged some furniture (again) downstairs.

Every day we packed their lunches and backpacks with swim suits, towels and extra clothes. Well, I packed them.  Oye. I learned I don't want to have to get all three kids ready with breakfast finished and lunches packed by 8:30 a.m. on a daily basis ever.  (I'm not saying never, I'm just saying I didn't like it for this two week stint.)

I got to spend some one on one time with Grandaddy.  Once he knew he had me to himself I heard again the jobs he had from 1930 to 1945 (after that, he had the same job until he retired.) I tried to seem interested, I really did.  I also had lunch with some girlfriends.  I even had a phone lunch with my long distance friend in Arkansas.  Don't worked!  No interruptions and no fight over the bill.

I did enjoy the time at home without the kids, but I was reminded again how much I love being with them.  I found myself wondering what they were doing, wondering if they were having a good time.  I also found myself wanting to be the one finger painting, playing in the sprinkler and reading stories with them.  

Is it true that absence makes the heart grow fonder?  It is for me.


Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Chatty "Kathy"

Our little Ava Kathryn is quite the talker for a 22-month old baby.  (I have no idea where she gets that.)

She climbed up the bar stool the other day to help me break the green beans we got from the Amish.  (You may call it "snapping beans" in your neck of the woods.) I was breaking off the ends and she was snapping them in pieces.  

Here's how the conversation went:

"Mo, peese."
"Here you go."
"Dant doo."
"You're welcome."
(Can't get one to snap.)
"You can do it."
"Dot it."
"Mo, peese."
"Here you go."
"Dant doo."
"You're welcome."
(Can't get another to snap.)
"O.K., I'll help." (Snap.)
"Yeah, Mommy." (With clapping.)

Nevermind the beans, I just wanted to eat her up for dinner.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Fresh From the Garden

Mom and I took the kids to an Amish community outside my hometown in Kentucky Saturday morning. They have their just-picked produce on their front porches for sale.  I would love to have taken pictures, but they don't really like that.  (The photos you see are used by grace, since I didn't ask permission.) You'll just have to imagine the three barns, the outhouse, tack house, "parking bar" for the horses, men and boys in straw hats and all children under three in dresses, over twenty horses, more chickens and ducks than I could count (without losing track of my own.) 

At one point I had to go after Ava because she'd been stalking a duck so long its feathers were standing up on its neck. While Sammie and Ava looked at the baby ducks in the pen, Chase helped me choose a dozen yellow onions (from the pile of about a hundred) that were drying under a tree.

I loved seeing their laundry hanging out to dry. I quickly realized that as much as I admire their simple way of life, I'm so glad I don't have to do "one sock at a time," by hand.

Anyway, here's what we had for supper last night, all from their farm:

Green Beans (one slice of bacon and a tsp of salt per 2 quarts)
Grilled yellow squash (doused in olive oil and salt)
Sliced yellow heirloom tomatoes
Sliced cucumbers

And the best for last: blackberry cobbler.  

Yumm! Yuummm!


Monday, July 14, 2008

Princess -- A Daughter of the King

One thing my mom and sister and I have in common is a love for theater.  Musical theater, in particular.  I remember listening to my LPs for hours in my little blue flowered bedroom -- Sound of Music and Oklahoma being two of my absolute favorites at the time.

I'm so glad that Samantha has shown an interest in music and theater and live entertainment. I think it sparks her imagination in ways almost nothing else can.  One of her favorite Disney movies is Beauty and the Beast.  Her Grandma and Grandpa Scheurich, Brian's folks, gave her the Belle costume one year for Christmas.  Her "Gi Gi", that's my mom, stitched the sleeves so it didn't fall off when she dressed up as Belle for the "Fall Fiesta" party at our church when she was three.

So, when Mom got a chance to get tickets to the live production in our hometown, we jumped at the chance to go.  Sam was excited for weeks and was ready to go the minute I said, "Time to get dressed for the show."  She loved every second.  The characters came out after the show to meet anyone interested.  Boy, were her tired eyes interested!  She never said a word to the princess -- and that's pretty amazing if you know our Sammie.
She never took her big, blue eyes off the stage for almost three hours.  And, tried desperately to see EVERYthing even though there was so much going on on stage.  Here she is with Babbette, the feather duster.  It's hard to tell since she's not standing up.

She wanted a picture with all of them but Gaston, that dirty rat, but she had to settle for a few favorites, since there were about fifty characters. (A complete silver set, plus beer steins and candy canes and cream and sugar and broom and mop and....well, you get the idea.)  Here she is with "Eggbeater."
The Beast had finished a solo just before intermission and we were asking her if she liked it, what was her favorite, etc. We were pointing out things that were different from the movie we've watched a thousand times. Sammie observed that the Beast didn't sing.  She said, "They just don't know because they haven't seen movie."  HA!

I tell her often that while we can play dress up here on earth, that God actually sees us as His children -- and, since he's the King of kings, that makes us all royalty.  And, that makes her a princess for real -- forever.

"All glorious is the princess within her chamber; her gown is interwoven with gold. In embroidered garments, she is led to the king..." Psalm 45: 13-14


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Who Gets to Decide when Enough is Enough?

The last line of this post is:

WE DO!!!

When I told an aunt that we were expecting our third child, she asked me if I was crazy.  (You know who you are.)  I was hurt by that statement a little, but tried to understand where she was coming from.  In between the birth of one and two, my grandad (then 91) came to live with us.  The month after number two was born, we sold our house, moved into a rental property in Bloomington while Brian started a new job and we broke ground on a new house specifically designed for our multi-generational needs.  Chase was about five months old and we were only a month away from moving into our new house, when we found out we were expecting our third, very PLANNED, baby.

I remember reading where someone asked a well-known child psychologist how soon they should have another baby and how many is too many.  He went through this whole spiel about ages of kids and sibling rivalry and he'd argue one side and then argue another.  He finally ended with, "It really falls on the health and well being of the current family unit."  What he was getting at is there is no set answer.  Is Mom healthy and content?  Do the other children have special needs?  Is Dad in agreement?  Is there constant turmoil or a general feeling of balance and well being?

Fast forward to about three months ago when Brian was just making conversation in the car about an article he read on gender selection.  Grandaddy heard the word pregnant and I looked at him and reassured, "No, I'm not pregnant."

He clapped his hands.

I wasn't just hurt a little, I was deeply hurt and almost angry.  (I don't get angry at my Grandad too often.)  I had known for a while that he wasn't crazy about me having more kids and even then I politely reminded him that it wasn't his decision.  He knew he hit a nerve that day and he cornered me when we got home.

He said, "Kris, I know you think I'm buttin' in where I shouldn't and I don't mean to.  But I've seen you so tired at the end of the day, you could hardly move.  I don't want you to lose your health."  He went on to say some other silly things about how I'd lose my "good looks,", but I couldn't get those words out of my head...."so tired at the end of the day."

To give you a little background, you should know that my birth mother, his only child, died when I was three.  I'm the youngest of three and my brother was only 12 months older.  He hasn't said, but I wonder if he thinks having three so close together contributed to her death.  It was a blood clot that moved to her heart, so I don't think it's related, but still, it's his heart that was broken all those years ago and I guess if he thinks he can prevent it again, he'll try.

He said, " tired at the end of the day," as if that were the main reason for no more kids. First I wondered, "Doesn't he think I'm a good mom?"  But I know better.  He compliments me, in his own way, about the kids and my interaction with them.  

My job in this season of life is ....well, "stay at home mom" just doesn't seem to cut it.  I don't think I'm busier than anyone else or have a tougher life than anyone else, but that term encompasses so much more than those few little words.  I never knew until I had my kids what my passion was in life.  I did pretty well in school. I worked hard at my jobs. But I never had a passion for the classes or the tasks of the day.

I LOVE my current job.  It's hard.  It's challenging and sometimes very frustrating.  And, yes, it can be very tiring.  But Grandaddy worked forty years as a crane operator.  Wasn't he tired at the end of many days?  Brian comes home from an office job and is tired.  Anyone who works hard at what they do, will be tired on some days.  That's not a bad thing!  It means you've poured your heart and soul into what you're called to do on that given day.  Exhausting and exhilarating all at once.

I wouldn't change my life right now for anything.  I love being with my kids and being a central part of their lives for this season of life.  To see their faces when they discover something new, to watch them interact with each other and their great-grandaddy, to teach them how to love each other and their friends -- all those things are a gift beyond anything I could've ever even had the wisdom to ask for.  I can't wait to see what they'll be like as young adults and as parents themselves. What will they decide to do with their lives?  It's such an awesome, mind-blowing and yes, sometimes daunting, jaw-dropping responsibility.  But mostly, it's magnificent.  Tiring at the end of some days, but magnificent nonetheless.   

No, I'm not pregnant.  (For some of you, I probably should've started with that.)  But with as much pressure as I have in my family, in my own house even, about when "enough is enough", I wanted to share my thoughts.  You get to decide for your family.  But in our family, you know who gets to decide when enough is enough?

We do!

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Vanity, Envy and Pride

Tired of all the Susie-Homemaker stuff and toddler-talk? Well, let's get serious for a minute shall we?(I stewed over blogging about this briefly, then realized the four people who might actually read this, know it already. That and it will be good for my children to know when they read this in 40 years.)

Here are some basic facts about me:

I sing.
I LOVE to sing.
I have a music degree (magna cum laude, even.)
I'm a confident person.
Very few people intimidate me.
I am absolutely petrified to sing in public.

I've learned a lot about myself and the above list these last two weeks.

It all started when I was asked to be a part of our church's first July Fourth celebration, singing lead on "Saturday in the Park" and "9 to 5" and back up for everything else.  There was to be an antique car and tractor show, carnival games, popcorn, cotton candy, concert and then fireworks. Sounds fun, huh?

I showed up for the first rehearsal and was sitting in the little row of back up singers. (THE most fun place on a stage, in my opinion.) One of the male singers was getting ready to rehearse his song (Mellancamp's Small Town), and he turned to us and said some sort of negative, insecure thing like, "If I can just do this right." I can't even remember his exact words, but I remember turning to the other girls saying, "Why is it even good singers are so insecure about their own abilities?" One girl responded, "I don't know. I can't relate. I'm not insecure about it at all. I wish I could say I could relate, but I just can't."

I was beginning to think I wouldn't like her at all.

Then as rehearsal continued, she sang great back up. She picked out sweet harmonies and when she realized she was doubling a line, she just picked a new one and sang it. Hmf...

Second rehearsal: The stage had been rearranged. The back up singers were way on the side, so that anyone with a solo had to trek ALL THE WAY to the center of the stage -- in the spot light on a giant carpet the size of my living room. It's a lonely and vulnerable place. I was first on the line up and did everything but stomp my feet and refuse to go out there. I just wanted to do my bit on the side, in the dark. In the safety of three other singers and four huge microphone stands.

So, I begrudgingly did my thing and came over to whine in the comfort of my girls. Same "I never get insecure" girl said, "Well, sometimes I think it's even more diva-ish to say, 'Oh don't put me in the spotlight, really.'" Double HMFFFF!!! I didn't say much of anything the rest of rehearsal and I fumed and almost cried all the way home.

What was wrong with me?!?!?!? I was trying to figure it all out....this GIANT insecurity in this part of my life.  It hit me like a ton of bricks and I didn't like hearing it ring true in my heart as I thought it all through.

Three other basic facts to add to the above list:
I'm vain.
I'm pea-green with envy.
And, I am insecure about my singing.

I realized that the thing that made me so unsettled, so downright angry about this very talented gal is that she's very talented. More specifically, she can do what I can't. Most of the time, I can live with all the things other people can do that I can't. I can't make a souffle. I can't paint a portrait. I can't throw a curve ball. But she can do what I WISH I could do and probably will never be able to do. It was pure envy. I wanted her talent AND her confidence. The ugly, ugly face of envy.

Why don't I have the confidence I should to do what I love and am pretty decent at? Here's what I came up with: I want people to love me. Not just that... I'm so afraid that if I mess up, they won't love me. They'll just remember how I messed up.  Not that I'm fun, nice (most of the time) or can sing REALLY great in the shower...just that I messed up that line in that one song.

It sounds so simple. And, so silly. If my children or husband or any friends came to me with that, I'd shoot the ignorance in the foot and encourage them in their gifts. I'd say, "You'll be great! What's the worst that can happen?" But I could NOT let it go. I don't want to mess up. I thought it was that I just wanted it to be done well. But that second layer of withholding affection or friendship or love because of the mistakes? Wow. You know why that worries me? Because people are that way!!!  And it worries me because I don't WANT to be that way.  Am I?

I don't know where it started (probably somewhere in my childhood), but I started working toward the end of it Sunday. (This has all been brewing for some time, I should add.)

I confessed pretty quickly on the drive home from rehearsal the other night when envy and pride and vanity were all pounding in my heart. Confession is one thing, but how to turn from it and go the other direction? How to get to a place of contentment and humility with a very public gift? A place where I can use the gifts I have and stop comparing them to everyone else's? I can't count the number of times I've said, "I can't sing like her, so I'd better not do it." (I'm talking about people like Barbra Streisand and Julie Andrews and Reba McEntire.)

I can remember my Dad saying 20 years ago, "Don't sing like her. Sing like you."

During our communion time at church Sunday morning, I was talking to God about all this stuff. Remember, communion is the time we remember what Jesus did for us...what he did for me. You know, that whole thing about dying for me while I was still a sinner.  Loving the unloveable enough to be beaten and crucified.  

It dawned on me that I care so much about what an audience thinks, yet none of THEM died for me. Did you catch that?  I found that so freeing.  

God gave me the gifts (and limitations) that I have. He wants me to use what I have, grow what I have and try to please Him. He already loves me and believe me, He knows how much I mess up. I can put on a show for a lot of people, but He sees the real me. You might hear the note I sang flat or notice the lyrics I flubbed, but God sees when I'm nagging my husband or being hard on my kids or focusing only on myself. THOSE are the things that matter. Those are the things I should be losing sleep over when I mess up.

This one realization probably won't make all my jitters and insecurities go away at once, but it sure helped to put it in perspective.

My own vanity, envy and pride have been holding me back for years from singing and who knows what else, really.  Do you have any insecurities holding you back?  Is God asking you to do something and you're more afraid of the eyes looking back at you than the glory you would bring to Him?

One more basic fact about me:
I'm sort of forgetful.

Help me remember the scripture behind this blog:

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, NOT FOR MEN, since you know you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward."  Colossians 3: 23-24


Saturday, July 5, 2008

Sock Update

Last week, there was about an hour time slot when every stitch of clothing in the house was clean and I knew where ALL the socks were.  Well, I thought I did.  So, I tried to mate up the dreaded sock sack.

I started by counting the "unmatched" mountain of little feet warmers. I quit at 75.  I mated and mated and mated and when I finished I threw away 37 lonely, still-unmatched sockies.

Now the sock sack is empty and we start all over again.  Suppose I'll ever find the other 37?


Friday, July 4, 2008

Boys vs. Girls: Girls Win

Part of all the sorting of the last week or so included going through all the kids' clothes...drawers, closets, everything!  I boxed up what doesn't fit, what they don't wear and leftover winter clothes from our cool, cool Spring.  When I put their drawers back together, I noticed something astonishing.

Here's the girls' rundown:  Ava gets two large dresser drawers, one small dresser drawer and a closet.  Sammie gets three dresser drawers, plus a smaller dresser drawer, a closet and two shoe shelves.

What you see to the left is what Chase gets.

(No, no.  Not the tiny dresser, just the top drawer.)

"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun."  Ecclesiastes 1:9


Thursday, July 3, 2008

Costumes, Closets & Clutter

I thought we had so much storage when we first built this house.  Well, we do have lots of storage, but I guess we have more stuff than storage!  I know we're not alone here.

So, while Brian was out of the country last week, I did some sorting, tossing, organizing and in general, de-cluttering.  I love these bins I found at Bed Bath & Beyond.  They come in three sizes and several colors.  They fit under the beds, on shelves and even under our train table.  I love that each set of toys has its own place and you can see what's in there.  Clutter off the floor, but you know right where to find it.
I've been searching for a great way to keep Sammie's artwork.  She wants to keep every piece. (Don't we all?)  So, I found this cork in a roll.  It's actually shelf liner (from Lowe's).  It's thin, perfectly sized for behind the door and had adhesive already on it.  I unrolled it, peeled the backing and there you have it!  Artwork out of the kitchen (and entry and living room and bathroom and closets) and on display! I took this picture before I moved everything.

So, my girl, Sammie has been into dressing up since a friend passed on a little ballerina costume when she was 18-months old.  Now we have over 40 costumes. Yes, I said 40.  Plus an equal (or greater) number of coordinating accessories -- shoes, scarves, tiaras, a couple of darlin' wigs even.  Is that fun or what!?!?! We love it.  However, the adorable place I had them stored was not working out.  Everything just ended up in the bottom of this antique wardrobe. So, you know that closet everyone has under their stairs?  The one that's too narrow to put shelves in?  Well, we got some hooks, some hanging shelves and an over-the-door accessory organizer.  Check it out!
We hung robe hooks on both sides of the closet, still leaving room for the same toys in the middle.

This wardrobe has a built-in bar at the top from which we hung two collapsable shelves (to keep wigs and hats straight) and we also hung a tension rod a little lower to hang another row of shorter costumes.  Doors can be closed on the wardrobe and closet which is a major plus!  And what's a dream of a costume corner without a mirror?  We hung it on the back of the closet door.  This mirror came with over-the-door hangers, so we can move it, if we ever want or need to.
It's one thing to know your spidey arms are huge, but another to take in the whole image for yourself!


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Arnold's Goulash

What we call "Goulash" with just five ingredients:

Brown ground beef with a sauteed onion.

Add a can of tomato sauce and a can of diced tomatoes.

Add as much cooked macaroni as you want.

So easy, so yummy and never any left overs!
For more Five Ingredient Recipes on this Works for Me Wednesday, go to Rocks In My Dryer.


Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Tomato Warning

We had a tornado warning for a short while on Friday night, so the kids and I hung out in the basement finishing some chores while we waited for Daddy to get home from his week-long trip and for the storm to pass.

Whenever it thunders, Ava says, "Storm, mama."  But sweet Sammie comforts her.

I tried to explain to the kids that the winds wouldn't hurt us in the safety of our basement.  So, lots of conversation about "tornado this" and "tornado that."

We came upstairs when it was over and I heard Chase tell Sammie, "We need to go back downstairs, Sam, or the tomato might see us!"