Tag Archives: Friends

behind the blog (alternate title: “disclaimer”)

I haven’t been able to carve out time to blog consistently in recent months.  When I have limited time, I tend to sprint toward recording “things I don’t want to forget!”, focusing on the “family scrapbook” part of the blog.  As a result, recent posts have been full of highlights.  The momma in me loves that.  I want my kids to be able to look back through this blog someday and have those happy memories triggered by what they see here.

At the same time, this blog is more than a family scrapbook.  It’s also my connection to other moms.  Sometimes, I am able to get through a tough, lonely day where I am the only adult present for 10+ hours because when the fifth glass of milk tips over onto the table (and I want to scream!) – or I am trying to figure out how long I’ve been walking around with a child’s poop hanging from my ear (seriously, how does that happen without me noticing at the time?) – I think, “I can write about this, and another mother who reads this will appreciate what this moment is like for me”, and I smile.

Recording those crazy memories brings me closer to other moms, even if I never see those moms.

But here’s my question:  does recording our good memories have the opposite effect?

If it does, I am writing to say that if you have recently read about our staycations and trips and living room fun and activities and are thinking we have it all together, we don’t.

But in my little family, we have each other.  And that’s good.

And if you’re reading this, you and I have a connection.  And that’s good too.

To quote a blogger I read recently (at http://www.71toes.com/p/disclaimer.html)

“Disclaimer

 I love blogs.

I get inspired and rejuvenated when I get a minute to read what others write, and there’s something inside me that feels so fulfilled when I have a chance to spill out my own feelings and to make a record of what our family is up to in this blog. Once I write things down, it’s like my brain can relax instead of holding tight onto things that may otherwise get lost in the vast expanse of my own forgetfulness.

But some things trouble me about blogs….

One thing in particular has made me think long and hard about blogs lately. There was this one session we had back at my sister’s motherhood retreat in June that has knitted my eyebrows together in earnest concern ever since.

The topic was something to the extent of how to keep a positive outlook in your motherhood. The question was posed about what makes mothers spiral into depression or negativity.

And do you know what the most overwhelming answer was? Not health issues. Not finances. Not childrens’ behavior issues or the lack of having enough hours in the day to do what we need to do. No. The big answer from a whole slew of moms was that blogs are the problem. Yes, blogs.

And that made me worry. Because I have a blog. And the last thing I want to do with it is depress people.

In writing this blog, my intent is not only to do what I started it for in the first place: to help preserve memories and keep a family journal . . . . [But also to] bind mothers together [or at least feel less alone in the journey myself!]

The goal is certainly so very far from creating jealousy or comparison.

But the trouble with blogs is that we tend to accentuate the positive instead of the negative. It’s human nature. And that’s good, isn’t it? The bad part is that we see that positive “tip of the iceberg” that others are portraying and compare our worst to their best….That’s human nature too. And that comparing is not good.

Despite my best attempts to “keep it real” on this blog, somehow some people misconstrue the good stuff I write to mean that life is perfect all the time. And that just isn’t true. They haven’t seen the 90% of my iceberg that’s under the water hidden from view.

Those kinds of things make me wonder how I can make this more real life. I mean, I want to capture life as it is. But you know what? Life as it is, is good. Not because it’s perfect by any stretch of the imagination, because it isn’t. My kids fight like the best of them. My heart worries endlessly about random things that probably don’t need to be worried about. I forget important things. I have about a bazillion wrinkles. I get mad as a hornet about dumb stuff.

But life is good because I love it. And I’m thankful for it…especially when I break it down into moments. Especially when I slow down enough to enjoy the journey. And that’s the kind of stuff I like to write about.

So I guess this post is really meant to say that I’ve struggled with writing thoughts and feelings for the last while because I worry about making life sound like it’s all hunky-dory around here when there are a million worries and concerns along with the good stuff.

But I’m just going to go ahead and let it all hang out…[just] please know that just because I don’t write every day about things like how I have love handles doesn’t mean they aren’t there.”

: )

She has a way with words, doesn’t she?!

I don’t know why I felt the need to post this tonight.  Maybe because I have been struggling with some decisions about how many activities to involve my kids in this summer, and I have recently realized that I really have to let go of comparisons to what other people are doing and figure out what is right for us.  (More on that later, but man, it is a struggle!)

And maybe because I realize that while I’m listening to random folks and thinking, “I should be doing that!” and feeling badly that I’m not (even though I know it just wouldn’t work for our family), someone could be reading/listening to me and thinking the exact same thing.

So I’m quoting someone else’s disclaimer, because I don’t have the energy to write my own at the moment!  : )   And because in addition to feeling guilty about the things I’m not able to do with my kids, I was feeling guilty about posting the things I was able to do with them.

Motherhood is a very guilt-inducing state sometimes, isn’t it?!

I have no catchy end to this post, because my brain has sort of shut down (as it now does every night around 8pm!), but I can say this.  Sometimes, for no reason, I feel a tiny instinct that I should say something and I have no idea why.  And anyone who knows me knows that (sometimes for better, and sometimes for worse) I will usually err on the side of saying it.

And tonight, for some reason, my tiny instinct told me to write this.  And then, while ignoring that instinct and searching the internet for “tips on creating chore charts” and “advice about allowances for kids”, I stumbled across a new blog – and this disclaimer – that addressed the very instinct I had been trying to ignore.

So here you are!  A peek inside my muddled, unedited brain, in-between Disney posts : )

And a little blog hug from me to you!

Love,

K

 

Everyday moments

Behind on blogging, so I’m posting a few photos to catch up.

Here’s a photo from our spring break “staycation”.

family outing

Honestly, it is one of my favorite family photos ever because it is completely unstaged.

The backstory:  On a random Saturday afternoon over spring break, we decided it would be fun to let the kids ride their bikes and scooters over to our community courts to play basketball and tennis.  We saddled everybody up, slung the baby bjorn, tennis rackets, water bottles, and a bag full of tennis and basketballs over the stroller handles and headed out.  En route, we paused at an intersection where a friend just happened to be driving by in her car with her husband and three kids.  She leaned out the window and said, “y’all look like you’re headed out for a fun afternoon…let me take a picture of you with my cell phone so you can have a record of it!”  She snapped the photo, and viola, an everyday moment captured.

(and unlike me, the person who lets photos languish on her cellphone forever, she was amazing and e-mailed it to me the next day…I know, she is incredible!  She later told me that, as a mother, she knew exactly how much work had gone into getting everyone and all that gear organized and couldn’t resist letting me see, from a different perspective, how smiley we all were about our outing)

Don’t you just love pictures that capture those precious everyday moments?  Just a Saturday afternoon, out for some good family fun.

Updates and photos from last month (part 1!)

So I’ve been AWOL (life has been busy!) and have been promising an update…

Here’s the short version: we’ve been having fun, which has involved a spring break “staycation”, a week recovering from that staycation (hello, laundry), a wonderful Easter, and then a great visit from Nana!

And here’s the longer version: updates and photos from our last month (part 1)…

Each girl got to pick one special “must do” for the week of spring break.  To my surprise (why did I think they would stay in my comfort zone?) E picked “make a dress for our dolls” and S picked “plant a garden”.  Holy moly.  I have no experience in either of those things.  (It did make me glad I asked however, since there is no way I would have put either one on a list of plans, and obviously they are unexplored areas of interest!)  Anyway, here we are at the fabric store…

fuzzy cell phone photo

After a “looking loop” around the store, each girl was allowed to pick out one yard of any fabric they wanted, and one foot of any ribbon they wanted.  E & S surprised me by both selecting the same fabric and ribbons.  (They wanted their dolls to match, I guess!)  T got a piece of fabric with cars on it that I hoped would become his new lovey, but alas that role was filled by the racecar and Toby train the Easter Bunny brought him.  Not conducive to sleeping – rolling over onto those loveys (especially Toby, who says “full steam ahead!” everytime T bumps him in the crib).  Oh well.  He loves them!

Anyway, here’s the dolls in their dresses.  Since I don’t know how to sew, these are more like glittery sackcloths, but they made the girls happy!

E said, “Her dress looks a little like a bathrobe, but I like it!”

Thanks to Nana who did an actual sewing lesson with the girls when she visited a few weeks after this (with a real sewing machine).  I keep a few cloths around the house for various things, and one now has random, festive stitches all over it.  An easy way to have the kids feel like they were “really sewing important things” (at least until the machine stopped working…anyone have a spare manual for a JC Penney sewing machine purchased in the mid 1980s?)  Here’s one of my new decorative cloths below.

Just look at that stitching! She’s a natural, I say! : )

We’re hoping to complete the set after (1) we figure out what’s going on with the sewing machine, and (2) Nana comes back to teach me how to thread and use it.

S’ project was the garden.  I am not a gardener, but we headed over to Home Depot (with their optimistic “You can do it.  We can help.” motto).  S & E picked out three things to plant (1) marigolds: the only flowers the deer won’t eat, (2) carrots: the only vegetable S will eat, and (3) basil: because the man who helped us said there was almost no way I could mess it up.

After hours and hours of shoveling, weeding, removing rocks, adding topsoil, planting, and lots of muddy shoes and jeans piling up on the porch, we have the smallest garden ever.  It is impressive only to me and the children.  (I promise, we truly have spent countless hours on it, but it is really only a 4 x 6 patch of ground with 12 flowers and some tiny sprouts that are either carrots or weeds…I honestly don’t know how to tell them apart, so I have no idea if I’m weeding, or ruining our only crop.  I am not kidding about this.)

The two big rocks on the left that we used to mark the rows of carrots and basil kind of look like gravemarkers for our struggling-to-survive garden. Seriously, is anything going to grow in that red clay? We added two huge bags of topsoil, but honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing.

And in the interest of internet input, can someone please click on this photo to enlarge it and tell me if any of the green things sticking out of the ground look like the beginning of a carrot-top?

OK, so if you can fight the impulse to tell me we should have added more topsoil and removed more rocks (I promise, we were removing rocks for hours…), tell me instead which of these green leaves is a carrot sprouting, and which is a weed. Carrot at the top of the photo? Weed at the bottom? All weeds? Egads. I think I’m going to go to the grocery store, buy a bunch of fully grown carrots and plant them one night after the kids go to bed and then take everybody outside to harvest them the next morning. In case you think I’m kidding with this plan, I have already done my research. Apparently, they sell carrots at Whole Foods that still have the green leafy parts on top. Score!

Anyway, the kids love watering the flowers; it has been a fun adventure, and I give us an “A” for effort.  My grandma J, who – God rest her soul – (1) won all sorts of yard and neighborhood beautification awards, (2) was in charge of all the flowers for our church for decades and (3) grew the rose petals that lined the aisle of my wedding, would applaud our efforts too.  She would appreciate that at this stage of life, we are certainly process (as opposed to product) oriented!

My grandmother would also likely laugh at the fact that the flowers we are trying to grow are in a battle to survive, while the part of our yard that received no TLC and is “supposed” to be grassy is covered in the most lush display of flowery “weeds” you can imagine.  I mean, check out the photo below.

Yes, I love them. But honestly, “My kingdom for a carrot!”

The brick wall marks the property line between our house and the neighbors.  It’s like the weeds magically stop there (much to the delight of the girls, and to the dismay of my husband).

It is uncanny. I will say that these flowers provide hours of entertainment for the children, because they are determined that none of them be chopped by the lawn mower. Every time my husband says he’s going to mow the lawn, they sprint outside to pick all the flowers and cover my kitchen in bouquets. I will miss this stage so much when they grow out of it…sigh…at least then I will know that I really did try to enjoy it all in the moment.  Bring on the bouquets, girls!

Finally, since I mentioned the racecar and train that appeared in T’s Easter basket, let me include a few photos of the holiday.  We tried to capture the meaning of the season – telling the kids an age-appropriate version of the crucifixion and resurrection (when S heard Jesus died and came back to life, she said, “Hmm.  I think that’s what I’ll do too”, then let out that little breath that almost made it sound like “Well then, that’s one less thing to worry about.  What’s for dinner?”  It was a good opportunity to tell her we can all come back to life, and live forever in heaven.  (Happy belated Easter, everyone!)

Then there were the secular celebrations.  Here we are dyeing Easter eggs

T got a plastic egg and a cup of water, and was absolutely a part of it at the age of 1!

I know you can see the plastic egg in the photo…can you also see the clear plastic cup of water he dunked this egg into for half an hour? He kept yelling out random colors while he did it, mimicking the words his sisters were saying as they dyed their eggs. I remember taking this photo. He shoved the egg right at the camera and yelled “purple!” So we have the spirit of the activity covered…we’ll work on colors next year : )

S at our church egg hunt

Hunting eggs in our house Easter morning

E & S hunting eggs on Easter morning. Note that it is still pitch black outside the windows. The kids were so excited that they woke up insanely early. Also…note to self: ask the Easter Bunny to make a quick list of where the eggs are hidden. There was one we couldn’t find for a few days, and of course it was one of the real, hard boiled eggs. Fortunately, we did find it before the smell found us! I was like Kirk in that episode of Gilmore Girls, looking for the egg…anyone else remember that episode?!

We also enjoyed spending part of the weekend with cousins and the other part with friends.  Beautiful company, beautiful weather, beautiful time.  Love all y’all!

In the “less than beautiful” category…My deviled eggs didn’t turn out exactly right…

I had promised deviled eggs, then learned that I couldn’t use the boiled Easter eggs that were hidden overnight at room temperature (health risk, apparently), so I only had the two eggs left in the fridge to work with. Me in the kitchen + no spare ingredients = no room for error/recipe for disaster. My mother-in-law gave me this awesome tray to hold deviled eggs in, and I am embarrassed to say that these eggs were so misshapen they wouldn’t even fit in the tray. Oh well. This is why no one complains when I bring pre-packaged cookies to potluck gatherings.

Between the flowers and the eggs, my grandmother would finally have to admit that I inherited absolutely none of her talents…but my admiration for those talents is ever increasing grandma!  This gardening and cooking is tricky stuff!

More updates on S’ new obsession with cooking in the next post…  Here’s hoping she has inherited my grandma’s skill as well as her interest, and that she can take over the kitchen soon!  S is actually so into cooking right now that I’m thinking of arranging an apprenticeship with my Mother-in-law, who is an amazing cook and maybe planning to visit soon.  Are you up for it Grammy?!

I’ll leave you with a photo of the laundry that accumulated while we were doing all this other stuff.  The laundry problem was exacerbated by the fact that the week after spring break was unseasonably cold, which meant I could just shove all the dirty warm weather stuff deeper into the hamper and pull out all the winter things I had just put away.  End result?  Well, check out laundry day…

There are no people in the photo because we were all basically walking around in towels by this point.

My husband, never one to complain, actually looked at the growing pile shortly after spring break, sighed, and went out and bought himself new boxers.  True story.

(And lest that be misinterpreted, know that he is actually great about helping out with the laundry and everything else around the house, but in his infinite marital wisdom realized that buying a few new boxers was probably the best investment in overall domestic contentment.  And his wife says, “amen to that”.  I don’t need a six-week retreat in Fiji.  But occasionally, I do need a week of blissfully ignoring the laundry : )

So that’s part I of our update…to be continued with part II later.  Hope everyone else is enjoying spring too!

Public Service Announcement re: Strawberry Season!

So there’s lots to catch up on… I know I was AWOL for a few weeks… but the spring break, etc. recap will have to wait because I have an important public service announcement…

Strawberry picking season is here!

It caught me off guard this year.  Usually I don’t even think about it until May, but apparently the warm weather brought the harvest in early.  A friend mentioned they had been to a strawberry farm recently, and that the farmer told them the season would only last a short while longer, so today after we picked up E from school we headed into the fields.

How about these signs at the entrance to the farm?

The best part of this sign is the tiny note on the right side, which I have included a close-up of below.

Here’s the close-up:

Can you read it? It says that the sign is "sponsered by Koreberi", inserts the phone number, and recommends them "for all your PR needs". A friend and I wondered how much they charged for their PR services and decided it must be at least enough to cover the cost of some scrap cardboard and a sharpie, but not high enough to cover a spell checker. I am taking an informal poll on whether people think this was a joke (I vote yes. I mean, it has to be a joke, right?!) Feel free to weigh in!

Another amusing sign…

I know this one was a joke : ) Still, excellent incentive to keep your children close in the berry patch!

There was another set of signs that weren’t intended to be amusing, but caught our attention (one sign saying a row had been designated for “senior citizens we respect” with a little heart over the “i” in “senior” and another sign one row over simply for “senior citizens”…my friend gets the credit for noticing this distinction.  I does make you wonder whether pickers would be allowed to (1) self-select or (2) be interviewed to determine “respectability” and then assigned to a row : ) .  Anyway, I should have taken a photo, but by that point I had decided I’d photographed enough inanimate objects and began zeroing in on the children, who were animated to say the least!

Here’s a photo of T, who was absolutely into the berry picking, saying, “another one?!” after every berry he picked and put into his little yellow bucket.

"Another one, mama!"

And after taking a lick of dirt, I mean pesticides, I mean, well – whatever – from a strawberry… Pay and wash before you eat, T!

S and E picked tons too, and loved every minute of it.  Mama loved every minute except the one where I realized there were very active man-made bee hives across the dirt road from the field (that would be the dirt road we wandered across to get a closer look at the pond and some cows).  Yes, there was a rope to dissuade kids from getting to close to the hives, but yowza… no thanks on that!  We moved the kids away from that area pretty quickly.

Bees aside, we had a fantastic time.  The weather was perfect, the kids were great, the strawberries were plentiful, and the humor provided by the company and the signs rounded out a great spring afternoon.

Here are the results of our picking:  An afternoon of fun and all these berries (these do not include the ones I threw out after we got home…we are not the most “selective” pickers, it turns out!) for $3.49.  Not bad, says frugal mama : )

And of course, E & S set up the “Sweet Soda Shop” stand they constructed a few weeks ago and delivered strawberry smoothies for dessert tonight.  Here they are:

Can you read the "sweet soda shop" sign? And see E & S drinking the profits?

For those who have not had the pleasure of an enormous “Sweet Soda Shop” box as part of their spring decor, allow me to explain that it’s like a lemonade stand, but inside my living room, and with a clientele of only myself and my husband.

Maybe if I connect them with the Koreberi PR firm, they can expand!  : )

Anyway, back to my original point: the public service announcement.  Apparently, strawberry season is here early, so if you want a fun afternoon and some delicious berries, get thee to the berry fields!  We had a super fun, super delicious, super great time!

The upside, the downside (and clearly not enough of the outside)

The upside to having a gas fireplace in your house: 

easy firelight…just flip a switch and the whole family can enjoy the cozy living room.

The downside to having a gas fireplace in your house: 

someday, friends will invite you to make s’mores outdoors and on the way there one of your children will enthusiastically volunteer to “turn the fire on” and ask you to show them where the switch is.

It’s clearly time we introduced our children to more of the great outdoors.

Besides, how hard could it actually be to go camping with three children, ages five, three and one?

Don’t answer that…

From “ow’s” to vows (alternate title: never understimate the value of a kind word!)

E announced today that she might ask X (a boy in her Kindergarten class) to marry her.

When I asked her why she had chosen X, she told me that when she had scraped her knee on the playground, X was the first one to ask her if she was ok.

How’s that for a Kindergarten lesson?

Note to those who might have missed recess on Friday:  Never underestimate the value of a kind word.

(Or the expense of one, apparently.  I am allowed to say that as a parent-of-the-bride, who would likely be expected to pay for the wedding.  Although as far as venues go, the elementary school playground has to be on the more reasonable side…)

Anyway, there is no date set yet, and the groom may change, since apparently E was also quite smitten with another little boy who made everyone give her some space after she fell so that the teachers could rush in with a bandaid.

May your scraped knees recover well, E!

And (a little hopeful blessing/advice from your mama…)

May you continue to fall (figuratively!) for the nice ones.

Public Service Announcement (re: Grocery Stores)…alternate title: “Thank You Nana”…other alternate title: “These Are My People”

So, it turns out that our local grocery store does not open until 7am.

How do I know this?

Nana told me.

How does Nana know this?

She is visiting us, and was gracious enough to travel to said grocery store at 6:30 am this morning to buy one apple.

Who was Jonesing for one apple at 6:30am, you ask?

No one.  And normally, I would have served an apple core out of the garbage before loading everyone up that early for a trip to the store.

However, last night (too late to go out) I remembered that E was supposed to take an apple to school for her Kindergarten’s “Johnny Appleseed” unit.

I also remembered that Nana was here, and (God love her), she naturally follows the schedule my children have forced me into (i.e. she naturally wakes up at 6am).

So, when she graciously volunteered to use her early morning time to get us the apple…

and then upped the ante by volunteering to take the wide-awake T with her…

I took her up on the offer.  (Who wouldn’t?!  And, by the way, I was helping E get ready for school at the time, just so you don’t think I sent Nana off and then went back to bed!)

How was I to know that poor Nana would end up looking like a kid peering in a store window at some forbidden object for half-an-hour?  (the eternally forbidden fruit, it turns out, that bright red apple…)

Grocery stores have those bright, all-night, lights!  Who knew they weren’t open until 7am?

By the way, this might be another piece of evidence that although E is rocking her Kindergarten class, I am in danger of failing the “parent of a Kindergartener curriculum” (seriously, it is harder than you think keeping track of their assignments, completing the administrative paperwork correctly, making sure their spare cubby clothing is weather appropriate amid ever-changing fall temperatures, and remembering which days we pack shorts for gym, books for library, a fresh blanket for naptime laundry exchange, etc.)

Given my mis-steps so far (only one month into the school year), it makes it extra nice that instead of just buying one apple, once Nana got into the store, she bought a bag of apples for E to take just in case any other families forgot theirs.

Although we donated the apples to the pile as anonymously as possible, I think Nana realized that we should – even subconsciously – get in good with this group of families now, early in the schooling experience.

Because although I love all types of people (and secretly admire the more organized ones), the folks who appreciate those extra apples being there are the folks I understand, feel connected to, and will probably see most often.

They are my people.  They are the ones who forget the apple, but realize they forgot the apple, and will be intent upon moving heaven-and-earth to get an apple there, until they realize that someone dropped off a huge bag of spare apples.  They are not the ones who remember the apple effortlessly every time.  And they are not the ones who forget the apple, but don’t really care.

They are the ones who, when we create a cornucopia in November, will make up for an apple-oversight by dropping a few extra gourds in the pile anonymously, and by doing so, will save me a panicked trip to Target.

These are the people who I will meet at school as we drop off the lunches that were left on the counter in the middle of morning crazies.  They are the folks I will see when we’re all picking up posterboard at Target at midnight some evening because something spilled on (or a sibling ate part of) the just-completed project at dinner.  We will chat about how our kids will all be gluing things on a new poster tomorrow morning before the 7:50am school bell.  Craft party at my place; be there at 6am!

For better or worse, these are my people, and I love them before I’ve even met them.

Thanks for the effort and the apples, Nana!  And thanks for beginning my connection to my group of parents: the ones who are (1) invested enough to make it happen no matter what sort of Herculean effort is required to do so, and (2) imperfect enough that we can be friends.