Saturday, July 26, 2008

I'm asking - What's YOUR Secret?

Laundry - the never ending "to do".

I have to say I'm not a big fan. And, honestly, I am not a very detailed laundry-doer. In fact...

I never sort my clothes.

I do laundry the following way. The kid's clothes make one load. Mine and Kory's clothes make up load two. Baby clothes are load three (because I still use Dreft for him). And towels and rags make up load four.

I guess that is a kind of sorting! :)

And then stains come along. Sometimes I use Zout, other times I opt for Prewash. And every once in awhile I use Shout. The better the piece of clothing, the more intentional I am at trying to remove the stain.

That brings me to my point (were you wondering if there was one). I want to know your best kept laundry and stain removing secrets. I know you have them because you all are so much better at this laundry thing than me.

And, you are in luck because I am going to share my big stain-fighting secret with you (although after reading about how I do laundry you may not put much stock in it, but I'm telling you it works!)

I discovered this little gem one Sunday morning when the boys were younger than they are now. The kids were ready for church. Kory and I were in process.

I went downstairs to check on everyone, after hearing a nerve-racking length of silence, and discovered that ball-point pens had been found and used on they boy's brand new church clothes.

Of course I reacted like the proper, church-going, Proverbs 31 woman that I am and once I got done crying and yelling at the children called my mom.

She directed me to call the Queen of Stains - Gail. Who shared the following tip with me that I am now going to share with you (you lucky internets you).

With a little elbow-grease, hairspray gets ball-point pen ink out of clothes.

All you need to do is spray the stained area with the hairspray of your choice. Dab the stain with a rag (do not rub, dab) and repeat. Initially the stain seems to get darker, but then it starts to fade.

I can't tell you how domestic and Proverbs 31 I feel with this kind of knowledge. And that is why I am asking for more!

What is your favorite laundry/stain-fighting secret?

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Listening In

I always knew the day would come. I just didn't think it would come this soon.

Mya: Mom, when do I get my own phone in my room?

Mommy: What are you talking about? Why do you need your own phone - you only know your own phone number?! Where did you get that idea?

Mya: *** has her own phone and she was telling me about it. Can you teach me ***'s phone number?

Mommy: Uhh, maybe later.

And then yesterday, she up and asked for another "big ticket" item.

"Mommy, when can I have my own camera? An adult camera. Not those little kids ones that play music."

I think my little girl is growing up. I can only guess what she will be asking for next...

Friday, July 18, 2008

And then I saw them...

I went to the mall yesterday.

As I was walking out of Bergners, I saw my grandparents. Sitting on a bench. Holding a Gloria Jeans coffee drink with two straws sticking out. Sharing life together, just like they have for the past 60 years.

I want to be just like them when I grow up!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interview with a Mom - Cheryl

My friend Cheryl has agreed to be interviewed today. I hope her words are as encouraging to you as they are to me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your family.

My family of six has moved in and around Illinois a half dozen times. My husband Mike works in the power industry and I am a special educator of the Deaf by training, but, I've only dabbled in the field since the kids came along. We celebrate 25 years together this July. My oldest child Katie is now nearly 24 years old and moving to Chicago to begin her career, Amy is 21 and in nursing school, Marie is 17 - a high spirited high schooler, and my youngest son, Brian is 13...My last teenager to hit the ground running - and he's a fast runner!

Why do you love being a mom?

To be honest, I remember crying in fear when I learned I was going to have Katie, but since that moment of shock and uncertainty, I've loved being a mom because it pushes me to be more honest, more diligent, more selfless, more long thinking, more of vitually everything good I should be. Plus there are some really nice people to meet at the playground, PTO and in the bleachers!

What has been the most challenging part about being a mom for you?

Well, setting high standards in marriage and mothering means you sometimes, shall I say, regularly miss the mark and have to name your mistakes and start fresh. Understanding that my kids are not just my projects, but are people with unique, tricky, and marvelous personalities, I can't claim the rights to all their successes any more than I want to claim responsibility for all their failures. We are all works in progress.

What advice do you have for moms in the preschool years?

Keep your eyes a little down the road . I think in those early days - minutes can be sooo long. But while you are in them, rest assured that you are doing exactly what you should be doing - watching them grow. Its something you can't measure when you are in it. Look at the next stage, don't necessarily yearn for it, but prepare for it. The foundations you set now in being a reliable, attentive, astute even adoring parent will pay out all the way into adulthood. I still am parenting my oldest a bit in that she trusts my judgment enough to want my opinion and my company. Nothing you pour in now will be lost.

How do you keep your husband first in the midst of mothering?

Simply, I brush my teeth before I say good morning. After that, if the sun is nearly up and the kids aren't, anything's possible. Needless to say, Mike likes summer more than winter!

Other than that, I try to deliberatley do things to move into his world. I have not always been good at that...or willing to be good. Time and training have taught me to make this a priority. I studied Mike's love language and know that a compliment given in front of others makes his hearts swell and pays dividends. (That morning thing doesn't hurt either). Marriages break up all around because couples have become specialists in their area and don't overlap enough. I've had to learn a lot about nuclear power, attend functions where I won't know a soul, and be willing to start over in a new community for the sake of his career. I recognize the gift of his provision and seek his company. We walk together nearly every day and talk on the phone often. Mostly, these days, I tell him when I think something nice about him and you'll be surprised how many more nice things there are to notice when you start that habit.

What is your favorite summer activity?

Well, reading is the greatest if I can have an hour or more of uninterrrupted time - put in on a beach and its perfect. These days, I can do that more often and I do love it. And honestly, I love writing...I can lose hours letting my fingers do the thinking. But for summer, its better to spend time together and if I can do a little of that with each child on their own, that's a treasure. Today, my son and I just went garage saling and out for cokes just for the heck of it.

How has your mom influenced your parenting?

My mom was above all reliable. She never sent me mixed messages, she is honest, loyal, forthright, and hard working. She loves my Dad (and he her). She is a great pie maker, and I am the only one in the family that does the same. It makes me happy to carry on her special gift of service and sweetness.

Share one good “mom tip” that you have learned over the years.

Own your days of being the manager of your family with pride. If you love what you do, others will love it too. I was reminded of that again recently from a store clerk ...she treated me as if it was a high calling to attend to me. I felt known and cared for. (I spent more money less painfully as a result) That's true of a mother that sees her own role as a high calling. Everyone else feels the joy of her passion.

Thanks Cheryl!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Late to the Party

So, Boo Mama decided to host a little Before and After Bloggy Extravaganza about a month ago. The idea being to share a list of goals (or one goal) of home improvements and then be held accountable by actually sharing those goals on the world wide web (making the possibility of meeting said goals even greater).
I decided to participate. I know I am late, but better late than never right?
About a year ago we "redid" the kid's bathroom (new wall paint, shower curtain, rugs, towels, etc.). We basically gave it a face lift to make it more fun. There are two projects I would like to complete to finish up the room.
They are my goals for the extravaganza:
1. Paint the bathroom vanity (I am thinking bright blue).
2. Paint a few sea creatures on the walls for added bathroom fun. I will be attempting these myself, but if I get into trouble, I will call on my talented artistic sister to come and rescue me! If you don't have one of these (an artistic sister that is) you really should get one - she is incredibly handy to have around. :)
So here is the before pictures of the bathroom vanity:
And a better shot of the bathroom just for kicks!
The goal is to have these projects completed by the beginning of August. Wish me luck. And stay tuned for the stunning reveal!

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Do you like Dora?

Yesterday Mya got to pick out her backpack and lunchbox for school. It was a big day.

But as she was looking at the bags some thoughts started to cram their way into my brain.

She immediately saw the Dora backpack and said "That is the one I want."

I thought, "But what if the other girls think Dora is too babyish?"

Then she saw a Princess backpack and changed her mind.

I thought "Will the 'popular' girls like the princess backpack too? Will this help her fit in?"

She finally settled on a Hello Kitty backpack and a Strawberry Shortcake lunch box (the addition of a drink container was a heavy influencer in the lunch bag decision).

I thought "Did I influence her decision by my comments or lack thereof? Is this the one SHE really wants or am I imposing my preferences on her?"

Yikes! School hasn't even started and I'm already stressing out.

The thing is I don't want my daughter to be swayed by the crowd. I don't want her to worry about fitting in with the popular girls. I want her to make decisions based on what she likes and not what other people like.

However, as those thoughts bombarded me in the store I realized that I do want her to fit in. And a part of me wanted to "help" her make a decision based on what I perceived would be the most popular choice - since I know so much about kindergarten aged girls :). And all those feelings I had in school of wanting to be in the "popular" crowd came rushing back to me. It wasn't pretty.

I always wanted to fit in with the cool kids in school. Jr. High and my freshman year of high school were tough years. But then something miraculous happened. I became a Christian and suddenly I didn't care so much about what the other kids thought. I knew my life had worth regardless of which kids I hung out with. It was very freeing.

Not to say I don't continue to struggle with those insecurities and wanting to belong on some level. Some days are worse than others, but as a whole I like who God created me to be.

And I love who God created my daughter to be. I want her to get her worth from her Heavenly Father and not others. As Karen Ehman stated at She Speaks, "It is always best to be an original version of yourself than a cheap imitation of someone else." I want my daughter to live this. I want to live this.

I think the reason I want her to "fit in" is because I don't want her to be hurt. But getting hurt is inevitable (especially where young girls are involved). And honestly, how we react to "getting hurt" is what shapes us and develops character. It helps us be more compassionate. Which is another character trait I want my daughter to have. I am starting to realize how hard the job of mom is when it involves witnessing the "getting hurt" in your child's life.

I just hope that as her mom I can be a good example. That I won't let my fear of her getting hurt prevent me from encouraging her to be who God created her to be no matter what. That I can back her up and be a haven when the inevitable happens at school.

Double Yikes, this is a tough job and we've only bought the backpack!
Any advice from you seasoned moms out there?

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Listening In

Mommy: Simon, do you want to play a game?

Simon: Yes, let's play "I see something you don't see."

Mommy: Okay, I see something you don't see and it is yellow.

Simon: Is it my shirt?

Mommy: No

Simon: Is it the flower?

Mommy: No

Simon: Is it your teeth?

Mommy: Let's play another game.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Wordless Wednesday - Summer Fun

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I want to try some Mr. Linky fun today. If you have a "Summer Fun" picture you want to share, post it on your blog and then copy the link to that post into Mr. Linky below. It can be funny, charming, poignant or your personal favorite!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Traditions on the 4th of July

Tradition. I can't say (or type) that word without a musical refrain from Fiddler on the Roof popping up in my brain (if you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about).

Our 4th of July is full of them.

Every year the extended family congregates at my parents house. We swim in the afternoon, eat dinner in the barn and stay for fireworks. At some point the boys head out to the field to play baseball with a tennis ball (after all, it's tradition).

The fireworks show is provided by a local lake which we can see from my parents home. We all climb up on the roof of the house (at least the younger members of the family do) for a better view, and belt out patriotic songs as the fireworks fill the sky.

And, every year we have a few traditional conversations.

Before the fireworks actually start we worry that the trees have grown too high (between us and the lake) and we won't be able to see the fireworks.


During the fireworks we always think the "grand finale" has just happened. Words like "Oh, this has to be the grand finale." are heard only to be answered back with more fireworks.

Some things never get old - 4th of July traditions being one of them!

I hope you all had a Happy 4th! What are some of your favorite traditions?

Friday, July 04, 2008

Birthday Week Kicks Off!

Yesterday marked the beginning of birthday week at our house.

Mya turned 5! The day started off a little better than last year (let me explain).

We have started the tradition of decorating the birthday girl (or boy's) bedroom with streamers, balloons, etc. once they fall asleep on the eve of their birthday. (Thanks Jill for the idea!) Last year, I got a little overzealous in my decorating and had streamers above the birthday girl's bed. Well, about 3:30 am she woke up in a panic, having no idea what that thing over her head was. So I quickly tore it down and walked back, rather sheepishly, to my room.

This year I learned from that little story and kept the streamers along the walls and added a few helium balloons (which have been a huge source of contention in our house in the form of brothers fighting over them). Thankfully no one woke up screaming at 3:30 am this year!

The day ended on a fun note as well. Daddy decided it was time to break out the tent and sleep out in the backyard!

The kids were excited. Daddy was wondering if he was crazy excited.
And mommy was excited bummed there was no room in the tent for her!

They carried their sleeping bags out to the tent, set them up and couldn't wait for bedtime!

Some neighbors were setting off fireworks down the street, so we all sat on our driveway and watched and cheered as they set them off.

And I had one of those moments. You know the kind where you don't want to be anywhere else except where you are right now. And you feel so overwhelmed with the blessings sitting beside you that you want to hang on to that minute as long as possible. And you hope that the memories you are creating will linger on in your minds for years to come making that experience even sweeter. It was that kind of moment.

As you celebrate with your families on this holiday weekend, I wish you all that kind of moment. Happy 4th of July everyone!

***To finish the "camp out story", once the kids finally settled down in their sleeping bags about 15 minutes later the boys started crying because they wanted to sleep in their own bed. So we moved them inside. The birthday girl, however stuck it out. As the boy's were leaving she confessed that she was glad because they were being too loud and she couldn't sleep with them there anyway. She then proceeded to sleep soundly until 6 am when she and Daddy moved back into the house.***