Friday, December 28, 2012

Kinda thankful for sick kids


On the 16th the baby had a fever and one by one they've all fallen ill since then. I know I'm not alone with a house full of sickness. 
I'm kinda liking it. 
Now am I alone?
Let me explain.
#1: No stomach sickness to clean up after. Their diagnosis are run-of-the-mill and recovery is expected. At some point.
2. Between the fevers and the drugs my kids are setting family records for cuddle time, sofa-bound for hours and hours for over a week.
3. No cooking. Nobody's hungry. If hunger strikes, smoothies & crackers suffice. For those of us not sick, a hunk of Wegmans' Ultimate Chocolate cake or other holiday meal leftovers work just fine.
4. We're snowed in! Can you imagine if all 3 kids were perfectly healthy & not under the influence and we were trapped in here for this long together while school was out?! 
So I'm thankful...
1. All of the holidays went as planned. Our (brave) family filed in as expected and we had a grand ol' time! My sister-in-law even brought dinner.
2. Antibiotic co-pays are are measly $4. I'm pretty sure we've spent nearly was much on Dr's visits & drugs this month as we did on Christmas.
3. I adopted the sanity tray idea (seen at top) years ago. It corrals all the meds, thermometer, etc and can be taken up & down the stairs for over night care.
4. My husband has been home with me for most all of this. We've tackled quite a few little projects around here together. I just wish he never had to go to work, ever.
5. Feeling like I needed control over something, with kids needing no entertaining, I single-handedly took down Christmas decor on the 26th.
Okay, that may be the bad part: I took it all down before I realized I hadn't taken any photos of it. The wall of Christmas cards remains. If you don't spot your card, it's likely because my kids have taken to carrying them around. Though, that reminds me, I haven't been to the mailbox in days...




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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas 2012

From me to you:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year
The Sandy Hook tragedy has certainly shaken me to be committed to what really matters to me. I spent Christmas unplugged, at home with family. 
Is there anything better than your house full of those you love? 
I'm thankful to live closer after years of living far from relatives. 
Especially since our kids have had fevers & flu for a week now so any travel plans would have been canceled. 
Too sick to go to church on Christmas Eve, we listened to the audio version of this story by the light of the fireplace, a family tradition. I held my 6 year old in bed for at least an hour & a half when the light of the moon reflecting off the snowy ground tricked him woke him up far too early on Christmas morning. Gifts were opened in a flash, especially since we went without the fluff this year.
He later told me this was "like the best of all Christmases ever" which secured our more modest approach will be repeated. We snuck out after kids were tucked in bed to see Les Miserables! Wow! Go!
Thank you for reading this blog.
I know there are so many other interesting ways to distract yourself online so I appreciate you choosing detailgalblog. 
I've been encouraged by the #s of you this year and hope to hear more from you in 2013.
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Monday, December 17, 2012

I couldn't send my 1st grader to school today

I became a flight attendant after the horror of 9/11. I flew for United Airlines, while people were still too afraid to board one of their planes. Because I believe in God, all-powerful and He ensures protection. 

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.” Psalm 91:14

Earlier in that same portion of scripture David reinforces: 
If you say, “The Lord is my refuge”, and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways...””

My heart is devoted to this God, who holds the universe in His hands. He is faithful, and He has proven faithful to me my whole life. 

Yet,I couldn’t send my 1st grader to school today. I just couldn’t.
Knowing He could have commanded His angels to protect those innocent children when their classroom was attacked, and He didn’t kept me from sending my boy to school today. I realize bad things have happened to good people for ages. Sin entered the world and this side of Heaven is imperfect, unjust. Still...

I want God’s protection to mean that my child will not be brutally murdered while coloring at his desk, not that He will spend eternity safely in Heaven, with Jesus.

As I explained the tragic events at Sandy Hook to my 6 year old, I only briefly touched on the bad guy that got into the school & killed workers &kids. I focused on the wonder of spending Christmas with Jesus, in a place where they will never again feel pain or disappointment and we talked of rooms with endless glue & glitter & not having to ask permission to use any of it!

My heart was torn, still. I wouldn’t be comforted by that idea if my baby’s body had been lying dead in that classroom, inaccessible to me because it was a crime scene. I want to spend Christmas with all three of my children here with me, where they belong. I made myself sick imagining those kids. Their cries. Their fear. Did they die instantly or writhe, alone in pain? And their parents...arriving at the school in frantic search...

Watching this tragedy unfold in the news, my response was to insulate my family from harm. I considered home-schooling, questioned summer camps, neighborhood play, & sleepovers.

Almost immediately I could hear God speaking to my heart:
Be a light. Be the good. “Stick your neck out” if you see someone in need, overwhelmed, or living recklessly. Inspire people to choose God’s grace and to follow His laws that protect us from our destructive human nature. Get in that school! Don’t retreat
Don't isolate your family in your house or with friends of like-minded values. Make a difference. Make a change. That's why you're here on earth. 
How did Jesus spend his time on earth? "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick" He said. 
Invest your time &your skills to this end.

So that’s my plan.
Well, once I can get the nerve to send my child back to school. 

And about reconciling my belief in an all-powerful, omni-present God allowing such harm: well I suppose that ranks up with understanding why God, creator of humans, chose to give them a free will, with which they can choose to reject Him and choose evil. I don't think I'll ever understand. 
My security in God's protection is still quite shaken.
I liked it better when I firmly rested in "no harm coming near my tent".

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

when holidays are tough

My friend's little boy lost his battle with cancer a few years back. I spoke with her shortly after and have never forgotten what she said to me about being alive without him.
"I've been going to the gym...because I can now. I just feel like shouting 'my baby boy is dead!' in the middle of the class."

Her words remain with me as I rub shoulders with strangers, some inconsiderate, aloof. This could be their day.  This could be their "trying to move on after life as I knew it is gone forever" day.

The holidays can be especially hard on people, as you can imagine.  
Thanksgiving was tough for me this year.
 
Finally close enough to gather with extended family in just a couple of hours, I just wanted to stay home. Not because of a death, but brokenness in my family. My parents are divorced. I'm not sure if I've shared that with you before.
It's complicated. Of course. 

And now, being married myself, with kids, its affects are far-reaching.
I've judged. I've raged. I've grieved. I've feared. I've cried. I've confronted. I've consoled. I've prayed.
I've resolved.
People change.
Families evolve.
Time heals.
I still need time. Certainly.

I've found one way to get my mind off myself has always been to serve others in need.

People are rushed, stressed, and may be struggling this season and I'm making a point to share a smile. It's simple and free.
Passersby in the parking lot, down the aisles, at the stop light are getting a great, big smile from me. My Southern readers are likely puzzled, but up here in the Northeast it isn't an expected exchange. I've gotten a few "you're crazy, girl" looks in return, but most people seem to appreciate the gesture. 

I've also reserved $ bills in my pocketbook to do what my friend, Lori did so thoughtfully: the gift of drive-thru coffee on the way home from a mom who's been there. (Like often)

I am sorry if this holiday season is tough for you. If you've lost someone you've loved, a job, your health, or whatever may trouble you, I hope something merry & bright makes its way to you. Something like the little girl with the silly grin in my attempt at a Christmas card photo above.

"...'til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. 
the thrill of hope. the weary world rejoices. 
for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
...oh night Divine. oh night when Christ was born."

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Friday, December 7, 2012

less is more. real is better.


I finally pressed "submit order" on our family Christmas cards.
There was a point, after failed attempt after failed attempt to nail an impressive shot, that I considered taking shots of just our feet in the snow or the more compliant dog.
We won't be mistaken for paid Christmas card models after all. In the end, I captured my kids being my kids. 
They're best at that. 
I'm better off embracing it.

The White House Christmas card features their dog, Bo. But not because the Obamas aren't picture perfect, of course. Read the story behind the painting here (the artist made the snow using a toothbrush!) It's beautiful! 

I'm nearly done Christmas shopping. Most of it has been delivered. Some of it has been wrapped. My mom is taking our kids next weekend so I have high hopes of wrapping it all.
We're taking a modest approach to our kids' Christmas gifts this year. It's shaping up to be around 4 gifts each. I know! But listen to why:
Because  
#1, there truly isn't one thing that they need
#2, our hope is to make the few gifts meaningful and played with rather than tossed aside in the superfluous flow. 
I'm not going to lie: it's been hard for me to resist buying just for the sake of that magical glimpse at presents pouring out from under the tree on Christmas morning. Dan keeps me focused on how memorable it will be to spend the day playing with the couple of things we know our kids will be thrilled to unwrap.

We are not drawing any relations between the fact that Jesus got 3 gifts from the Wise Men because we do not want them to attach getting less with Jesus. "Well I only get 3 gifts, albeit special, because Jesus only got 3." is where I imagine my child going in his mind. And Jesus is the reason we have abundance, not less.

I've read/heard a few bloggers doing 4 gifts; something you want, you need, to wear, to read. Clever. Maybe when they're a bit older because we decided that takes away some of the mystery in the anticipation. And anticipation & wonder are major for me. Plus, Dan regards practical gifts pretty lame: socks, underwear, boots, etc. don't count. (Yikes! Those are my go-to stocking stuffers)

We know what impacts them most is having our time & attention, playing with them all day in our pajamas.
I desperately want to raise grateful, thoughtful kids.
The spirit of giving has already won over getting most days around here, where my oldest 2 have been coming up with idea after idea to give each other & the people in their lives. Hooray!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Running for the red cup

,About a mile & a half into my run and I've earned one Grande (16oz) Gingerbread Latte with nonfat milk, no whip.
Just over 200 calories.
Should I trade it in?
I went another 250 calories.
Still not sure.
That cheery, red cup of "mama, you can make it to bedtime" beckons me!

Buy 1, Get 1 Free Holiday drinks at Starbucks Nov 15-18th from 2-5pm.

In case you're running for your red cup:
16 oz Peppermint Mocha, nonfat, no whip 290 calories, 2.5fat
16 oz Caramel Brûlée latte, nonfat, no whip 310 calories, 0g fat
16 oz Pumpkin Spice Latte nonfat, no whip 260 calories, 0 fat

Eggnog Latte & White Chocolate peppermint mocha come in at 400 & more calories, even nonfat! Thankfully, neither is on my irresistible list. The high cal/fat cranberry bliss bar, however, is another story. Ugh.


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Monday, November 12, 2012

thankful for LOL

No seriously.
It had been a long time.
Few things are better than laughing soundlessly. And that can't-look-at-you-without-giggling-uncontrollably is the best! Well unless it happens in church or when a stranger comes in & you can't explain that you're not laughing at them b/c you can't. stop. laughing.

Yesterday I drove to IKEA (8 hours roundtrip) ALONE! All the cabinets could fit in our van, if empty of all but a driver. Somebody had to do it and my loving husband nominated me. I packed a few fruits & filled my travel mug at the Keurig while downloading Bossypants on iTunes seconds after the decision was made.
Granted, she & I have some different values, but Tina Fey had me laughing out loud more times than I have in months.

More specifically her chapters on beauty & parenting tips (the oversized t, bike shorts, & fanny pack!), the period box, & her dad, Don Fey were among the "most hysterical". Surprisingly, her bit about Second City & the lessons of improv, translating into life (law of agreement. gulp!) got me to think deeply about my way of relating.

I'm telling you it was good for my soul. Not just the alone time, not just the thrill of filling the back of my van with IKEA goodies, and drinking a whole, hot cup of coffee, but busting a gut at her beauty tips, parenting advice, and life experiences. Hillarious. Laughing out loud alone in the car every few minutes. Try it. I'm going to listen again while I run this week.

As was recommended to me: if you have yet to read it, don't. Get the audiobook, read theatrically by Ms. Fey, herself.

My son had me cracking up this morning when I poured him & myself a green monster smoothie only to have Lilah come up & ask for mine. While she was drinking my smoothie, he said "Mom, you're like a penguin. They chew up their food & feed their kids." No honey, that's Alicia Silverstone.  Pin It

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I'm thankful for Halloween candy

The sugary treats began trickling in a few days before trick-or-treating this year and I got smart.
I remembered someone that worked in our kids church in VA saying "candy is the currency of children". 
I could pretty much get them to do anything, pronto for a piece.
Turns out the opposite works just as well.
"Kids!" I announced.
"If you tell me a lie, I take a piece of your candy."
No chances.
The first answer must be the truth.

Did you wash your hands?
Did you put your pjs in the hamper?
Who took my phone?
Who left the door open?
Did you drink all of your water?

First time: the truth. Or it'll cost ya.

Like magic, it worked. We've had a big, fat, truth fest for weeks!! They keep each other accountable. They coyly smile before answering signaling their contemplation.

Since mine are young enough, I'm considering replenishing the supply as it is dwindling just to keep this party going. Pin It

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

thankful for occupied kids



I'm thankful for...
1. photo memory books that remind me how quickly they grow, so i don't wish away this time.
2. kids room at Y, where they have hands-on fun with costumes, crayons, glue, puzzles, etc.
3. pbskids.org and disneyjunior.com
4. well-stocked DVD shelves at the library (including new releases & my own childhood favorites)
5. the world's most enthusiastic children's book reader at our story time
6. excited kids heading into church, asking when they can come back as soon as it's over
7. fight-free homework time (pictured above)
8. grandparents that play (& stay in the van while I run in for an Rx with less than 3 kids)
9. trikes & bikes & living on the end of a cul-de-sac
10. educational iPhone apps & Otterbox case (Babble's Top 50 list 2012)
11. stool at the sink, soap, plastic ware, running water
12. Chalkboard wall with room for 3.

What keeps your kids occupied?
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Monday, November 5, 2012

I'm thankful for cousins

I'm thankful for...cousins.
A pile of them on my sofa,
a tribe of them running from room to room,
cuddling with them in my bed,
and enough to fill every chair at my table.

I'm thankful that because we now live close enough I know that my oldest nephew can eat my kitchen clean of all produce in one afternoon, oldest niece will always wait to see what her cousin chooses before she makes her choice, and little niece will absolutely not tolerate being called by anything other than her name or being tickled. 
I love how the last photo is quite indicative of their personalities. 
Oh, cousins! So fun!
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Friday, November 2, 2012

I'm thankful for...courage

Courage.

It's not Gospel. But Matt Damon sure makes it sound so.
(Have you seen We Bought a Zoo? Enjoyable movie, certainly under appreciated, in my opinion. Here's a clip.)

Courage to tell someone you love the truth.
Courage to hit publish, send, delete.

Courage to leave when you recognize that you don't quite fit.

Courage to try a spin class, or sign up for a race.
Courage to confess

Courage to be tested, face the results. 
Courage to quit.

Courage to say I'm sorry.
Courage to choose what matters most to you.

Courage to keep your vow.
Courage to believe.

I'm thankful for the courageous people dedicated to rescuing victims of human trafficking.
And thankful for those that fight courageously for our freedom.

My life, my marriage, & my family is better because of courage.
I have courage because I was raised by a single, capable woman.
I have courage because many grown ups told me I could do anything I wanted to do as I grew.
I have courage because I believe in God. I believe the promises in the Bible. 

“Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. 
Don’t give them a second thought because GOD, your God, is striding ahead of you. 
He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.” 
Deut 31:6 (MSG)

 "Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love." I Cor 16:13-14 (NLT)

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

thankful for...

I'm thankful for...
1. living close enough to be at the hospital the day that the newest Poulsen, baby Jude arrived.

jude

(naaaah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, hey, jude!)

2. Western medicine that makes it possible for pregnancies to last full term, and healthy babies to be born to healthy mommies
3. Clara now using "mama" as a substitution for "i want it"
4. visiting an out-of-town church w/ skeptical kids only to be greeted by Snow White & other costumed characters! Quickly learning they were painting pumpkins, wrapping kids in toilet paper & celebrating Fall! My kids donned available costumes before I had a chance to catch my breath.
5. trading babysitting with family. win for cousins. win for couples. win for budget!
6. husband pulling in the driveway earlier than expected
7. inhalers & nasal sprays. turns out running is much easier when I can breathe!
8. baby spread out in the middle. parents clinging to the edges.
9. counting on 1 of 3 to stay in bed each night

10.  "Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help...Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open."
James 1:1-8 (MSG) Pin It

Sunday, October 21, 2012

the elusive Christmas card photo

"Capture all of the kids, in cute clothes, 
cheerfully looking at the camera
for a Christmas card photo?
No problem."
~said no parent, ever 




PS: It KILLS me that I was too distracted to bump up my F stop so that all 3 kids could be in focus. Instead, because Lilah is closer to the camera, she is the only one in focus.
Okay, back to the out takes. Although, are there still out takes if there never ended up being a "good take"?
at this point we noticed Clara had a dirty diaper.
I've spared you the miserable shots.
While she was gone, I kept shooting

that's enough of that
and she's back

Sometimes you just have to know when to quit.
 And try another day.
or the dog.
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Friday, October 12, 2012

Simple & Yummy Chicken & White bean soup


I adapted this recipe from one my mom made for us while I was recovering from a c-section in 2011.
It's a hit with everyone I've shared it with & so easy to make on a weeknight. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, October 9, 2012

A trick & a treat

I got to trick my 6 year old with a treat this weekend. Just before bed, I grabbed him and asked him to come run a couple errands with me. *Note: he was game without question as to what may be in it for him. I suspect time is limited in that stage.
We were in the parking lot of the theater before he figured out my surprise! He sprinted to the door and again in search of theater 5, saying he didn't want to miss a thing! I had no choice but to run with well, behind him.
I'll admit, I got teary-eyed at the thought that we must be doing something right, trying not to spoil our kids if going to the theater is still thrilling.
The notion of joy in giving hadn't felt as real as it did for me that night in a while. I was beaming as I saw his eyes peeled to the screen, shooting me a big grin between trailers, his mouth full of sour candy, his body cuddling closer to mine as the movie continued.
There were a few moments I was uncertain about whether or not the movie was too scary. We saw Hotel Transylvania. Overall, it was a cute flick. As cute as monsters, zombies, and all things creepy can be. There is even a sweet little love poem written by the lady that fell in love with Dracula. The ride home included all sorts of questions and affirmations that he was mature enough to handle the content.

You may recall he has an affinity for monsters, mummies, and Scooby Doo mysteries (impossibly un-relatable to me).

He's been mesmerized by the trailer for weeks. When he learned Transylvania was a real place, the questions became incessant. He brought home library books to learn more about the story & even asked Siri questions on the topic.

The movie's reviews surprised me and gave me the feeling that if he can process Scooby Doo cartoons, he'd enjoy Hotel Transylvania. After viewing, I agree.

Today, I found a bat in the tree in my front yard.

And a baby getting bad ideas
 
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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

How to handle a meany

My son encountered a meany the second week of school.
He went from "school is awesome" to going to the nurse's office after recess requesting to go home.
I picked him up immediately because last year in Kindergarten he only came home when he had a fever or puked. So I knew it was legit. Suspiciously, he didn't seem the least bit sick when he came home.
When I got a call the next day from the nurse I knew something was up.
And I was right, unfortunately.

For a few days following more tough encounters arose: different kids, different situations.
This is all new to our family.
My heart was broken up for my sensitive, Southern sweetie not quite fitting in at his NY school. We chose our house based on this highly regarded school district. What do we do now?

Enter: how to tell your 1st grader to handle a meany?
a. walk away & play with someone else 
b. tell the teacher 
c. get up & push them down in the mulch

I guess each reaction has it's place, depending on the kid & the whole story. Well, C. may be a stretch but,  stand up to the meany can be the best reaction, given the right circumstance.

This is when believing in an omnipresent, all-powerful God and trusting that He loves your kids even more than you do comes in handy (Ps 139).

As parents, we can look to what the Bible would say about handling every day situations and teach our kids to see things the Biblical way. We're instilling Biblical values in our young children to help them to practice the same values as adults.

Now, let me just say the bullying I'm talking about here was quite minor, run-of-the-mill meany on the playground type of situation. Bullying is never acceptable, but it does have a range. We happen to take it seriously. We are living in an age where bullying, if ignored, can have tragic effects. 

It turns out the Bible is pretty clear about how to treat meanies. 
I like the Message version of Matt 5: 43-48
"I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.  “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

Tough? Yes.
If I believe my job is to prepare my child to be a successful adult, making choices independently, I'll teach him that doing the right thing isn't always the easiest thing.
Furthermore, doing the Godly thing is often the harder thing. The last half particularly speaks to me as a grown up. It is hypocritical to ask this of my child if I don't model it myself. Tough? Yes.
I think God asks these things of us because it compels us to rely regularly on His sufficient grace.

We prayed together for the meany at school. We prayed for Carter to enjoy school & for God to lead Carter to friends that make good choices. Imagine my thrill when his report the next day was: the "meany" was nice & he had the best time playing kickball at recess with kids he thought were too tough to play with before.

My son isn't aggressive.
My son has no trouble telling a teacher when someone is breaking the rules.
He was concerned about getting in trouble for tattling. In addition to praying, we encouraged him to decide when he really needed a grown-up's help or when he could find another safe place to play. We also discussed when standing up to the bully. "I don't want you to take my backpack. Don't touch it anymore. Leave me alone." is perfectly appropriate.

Dear child,
Good news! "The Lord your God is with you. He is a hero who saves you..." Zephaniah 3:17 (GWT). This I believe, baby!
Love, mom

Now for handling the grown up meanies I encounter...



*photo by sj bridgeman photography, Nov 2011


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Monday, September 24, 2012

single, attractive, accomplished friends are a gift

Motherhood and marriage have a way of crowding out single friends. I just had a week with one of my favorites.
Spending time with your single, attractive, accomplished (SAA) girlfriends is a gift.
It reminds you of a few things:

1. the satisfaction of adult conversation. rounds and rounds about pop culture, politics, & religion.
you're fascinated by the time she went to Singapore, the people she met in Cuba, and the peaks she summits. you learn which titles on your list are worth reading & whether eyelash extensions are worth getting a sitter.

2. the fun of dining at a downtown eatery with live music, wearing something that makes you feel irresistible like Zooey Deschanel. . The pleasure of finishing your meal because you're full, not because if you don't leave now your kid will break down.

3. you were a girlfriend once. 
before you were a wife & a mom, you were fancy-free, wore lipstick, and you thought about sex too.

4. a good man is hard to find.
once you've got him, don't stop dazzling him because SAA gals are sensational.  
they sleep in & have all that energy.
they wear flattering clothes & make eye contact when they're listening.

5. if you're lucky enough, somehow you wouldn't trade coming home to rock your baby and kiss your husband good-morning to go back to your single, attractive, accomplished girl life.
Well, maybe just for a week of the sleeping-in part.
 




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Friday, September 21, 2012

celebrating 4, friends, carrot cake, etc

MidKid turned 4 this weekend. 4! I can still fold her up in my lap & tickle her chunky monkey little body. It does not seem like yesterday that she was a baby. It seems like she turned 12 the day she learned to talk.
Our house was as I wish it would be each weekend: every room spilling with family, eating chili & watching football while the kids ran around. My husband even got the guys & their kids out in the backyard for touch football. Girls, dressed in Lilah's new princess costumes, played too. Pinch-me-I'm-dreaming!
Here's a free tip: Chili, with a toppings bar is about the most stress-free food you can serve this fall for a party. It tastes better the day after it's made, so make it the night before as I did. I served hot dogs so kids could eat those or grown-ups could make chili dogs. Add some homemade mac-n-cheese on the side & you're golden.  I've used this recipe for years & it's a winner each time. 
 
Miss L embarrassed me something terrible this week at story time. Not in the cute way, or otherwise redeemable way either. In the "if only she didn't look just like me & I could inconspicuously round the corner out of the room and not be associated with her" way. The other moms graciously accepted me in spite of my parenting-malfunctions on display. Thank goodness because this story time is magical! Remember Meg Ryan's character at The Shop Around The Corner in You've Got Mail? She wore that cone-shaped hat as she read to the children, sitting cross-legged on the carpet in front of her. Our story time reminded me of that scene. The (well-behaved) children threw back their heads & laughed as story lady dramatically entertained them with stories & songs & a real live coconut to illustrate Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. It was something special.

Some highlights since I last wrote:
1. One of the best of my friends visited me from Colorado last week. Her hemp milk remains in my fridge as a reminder of her week here with us. I've decided to discard it only when it smells. I was so worried she'd hate her time here since our conversations, solving the world's issues would be interrupted by my kids all day long & I feared she'd be disappointed by my SAHM life as compared to the life we'd dreamed up years ago. On the contrary, she fit nicely into our routines and her company was deeply refreshing to me. Thank you, Lord for friends that transcend!

2. Clara is a walking fool! It's her main mode of transportation now. And I'm especially taken by her "turn move", which she's nailed this past week.

3. Carter was THRILLED to learn that in 1st grade they are allowed to check out 2 books. "So I got this one for me and this one for Lilah." sweeeeeeeetheart.

4. My motivation to run has waned significantly in the past 2 weeks. I go to the gym just about every week day (free childcare, holla!) but it's tough to push past mile 2 each time. I did 4 today (motivated by #5)
5. I ate WAAAAY too much of this carrot cake, that I made to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday since it happened to fall on the day of Lilah's party. Make it. Or don't. Depending on your will power & pants size satisfaction.
6. I need to be a better wife. I need to. After long chats with my pal about marriage & how special mine is because we're still in love after nearly 10 years & 3 kids, I'm realizing how much better I could be. Reading 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NLT) "love...is not irritable.." Oh man. Lawd, help me!

7. We've decided to give home-schooling preschool a try with Lilah since it worked wonderfully for Carter. I read this article to refresh my memory on what she needs to know before Kindergarten. I'm confident I can prepare her adequately at home for all but the social aspects. I suspect it may take more than regular interaction at the gym & church with kids her age to prepare her in this regard. She is quite different for Carter. We'll see. 8. I'm turning 32 on Sunday. I figured out my husband bought me a pair of Uggs slippers when I noticed him studying his own suspiciously. I've been looking out the window for hours waiting for the delivery! They're red! How fun! Pin It

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

1st day of 1st grade, learned the F-word, etc

Our hours are jam-packed these days! Mostly with fun things, a few frustrating.


1. "it is AWESOME, mom," said my new 1st grader when I asked him what he thought of his first day at his new school.
2. not so awesome: holding my 1 year old down so they nurses could draw blood to check her liver function.
3. my red-haired cousin got married in a lovely blush-colored dress and was radiating with love for her new groom. a lady is just so pretty when she feels loved, don't you think? 
4. mom found us a sofa for a song at an estate sale. in-laws delivered it. yay for living 3 hours from family!
5. contractors lie.
6. the kids have been riding their new bikes in our cul-de-sac every spare minute. they haven't had concrete nearby or ridden a bike since we left TX in 2010.
7. my Italian neighbor brought over the most delicious Italian cream cake. Bonus: no one really cares for it like I do.
8. all boxes are unpacked, broken down, and bundled on the side of the road for the recycling pick up. (thanks, Dad.) we now have full use of our garage for the first time.
9. FOOTBALL is back
10. Carter learned the F*word. From someone we love & trust, who learned it at school. I learned how little control I have after all.
11. I love this house. I never want to move.
I hope we come back to it the night after my last child's wedding. I hope grandchildren visit us here. And not just because of all the labor we've put in selecting blinds & painting the perfect Benjamin Moore shade on this or that wall.
Every room is my favorite room. There's enough space for both of our families to visit.

I can count on one hand how many times I've opened my computer in the past couple of weeks. In a typical day I've opened it that many times before lunch!
12. I got caught up with the ever-inspiring Ashley's adoption journey today. The crib (pictured here), with a wooden "mattress" & metal bars where her new baby girl spent the first year of her life brings just the perspective I need when I'm busy trying to replicate all the pretty spaces I've pinned in our new home. Pin It

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Settling into Central NY


 We're settling in folks. It feels a bit like I wake up, get a cup of coffee, blink and it's bedtime. Thought I'd share a few goings on as I sit here waiting for the delivery guy.

1. Our new gym has knocked this stay-at-home-mom's socks off.
Art room with pottery wheels, lounge room for the 6-10 y/o set with flat screen TVs & gaming systems, fun family activities that have filled my September calendar, free swimming lessons, and the option to pay $17 for 3 hrs of childcare and I can LEAVE THE BUILDING!
The only downside I can see so far is it shares a parking lot with Target & TJ Maxx/Homegoods.Yikes!

2. Still trying to decide if I should be offended by this housewarming gift from my mother-in-law
3. My son tried to pass a movie line over on me as his own at breakfast. 
"I thought eggs were going to be greasy and slimy.."
Ugh. Fat chance, pal. Not with this mama, unless of course it's ScyFy.
PS: Julie & Julia

4. We chose to buy a home in this Syracuse suburb based on the high-ranking school district. Who knew this beauty would be right here in our neighborhood?
Can hardly wait to hike through State parks, visit the beach on the Great Lake Ontario, & see the waterfalls nearby. Looks like getting over lovely Virginia may be easier than I thought.
5. It turns out buying and implementing what you've Pinned on Pinterest is even more fun than collecting ideas. But not as easy on the pocketbook.
6. Going to church on Sunday and hearing "aunt Tina!" & getting a cheerful hug from my niece will never get old.
7. we've already had 2 visits from one set of grandparents & are meeting halfway between hometowns to hand over the older two kids to Grammie for the weekend
8. painting cabinets takes fooorrrreeevvveerrrr when you have 3 little kids
9. I miss Chick Fil A
10. I smile every time I walk into Wegmans and grab a cart.
11. Baby Clara has taken many first steps on the hardwood floors of our new house. She falls down before she goes too far as she starts to clap along with her cheering family.
12. We had a mouth-watering anniversary meal at Bistro Elephant downtown Syracuse last weekend. I can't decide if I'm more dazzled by the fact that my husband planned every bit of it or the free babysitting courtesy of my sister & brother-in-law, who put our kids to bed at our house so we could come home to sleeping kids, a clean house, even a running dishwasher! Pin It

Monday, July 16, 2012

Goodbye, Virginia.

After nearly 2 years living in Williamsburg, VA we are convinced we have discovered the country's best place to live. With its park-like roads and historical charm, this small, coastal vacation spot has won us over, indeed. All four seasons look good on its streets lined with brick, Colonial homes and gigantic trees.

As a family with young kids, we reveled in the beaches nearby, Busch Gardens, CW, and museums. Dan was wooed by his commute, particularly the way the sun came through the trees that line Colonial Parkway and Route 5. I enjoyed the location: 1 hour to VA beach, 2 hours to the mountains, 2 1/2 to DC or Outer Banks, NC-makes a road trip a cinch & relatively easy on the pocket book too. (And living 1 hour from a life-long friend & her family was such fun!)

Our foray into small business ownership was doing well and it came time to buy a house. We nearly offered on a couple homes in lovely neighborhoods, in good school districts, but something stopped us. 
You see, as much as we enjoyed making Williamsburg our home, we always had a nagging longing to be closer to our families in NY. Even this town, that on paper more than surpassed our expectations for a place to raise our kids & spend the rest of our lives, didn't cloud out the desire to share more of our lives with family. We have talked ourselves out of it for nearly 2 years now, shedding light on how much we'd give up to live back near our hometown. Being real about how living near family isn't the same as spending holidays & a week of vacation with them. We weighed it all. Believe me. But, we couldn't shake the desire.

At this point any other opportunities we've explored that could get us closer to "home" weren't the right fit. We have trusted God with this desire. We believe He has plans for our lives & the best in store for our kids so (Jer 29:11), even when we don't understand, we trust Him, following what we believe He is speaking to our hearts. (Psalm 9:10) , (Psalm 37:5)

Sure enough, He had a plan.
He has worked out details that even I couldn't have imagined.
It's happened so quickly, I'm still catching up to it being a reality. 
We bought a (realistic) dream house SO incredibly close to cousins & brothers & sisters it still feels like it's all a dream!
Dan has tied things up in VA & began a new professor position today!

So, here's what's in this whole thing for you:
WAIT! TRUST! SURRENDER! TRUST again! (Psalm 27:14)
This desire was rooted so deeply in our hearts.
We followed God where He opened doors for us. We tried our best to remain faithful there. In return, our time there has blessed our family in abundant ways and hopeful we were a blessing to those we encountered.
As we continued to trust Him, He has answered our prayers to have it all-job that fufills & pays the bills, and a home that we can fill with extended family.

I'm sad to end our Virginia chapter.
I'm excited to begin the next...
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Friday, June 29, 2012

the "for worse" part



Becky: "That's your problem! You don't want to be in love. You want to be in love in a movie"


On this particular day, like most, I got each of my 3 kids dressed & fed, stocked the diaper bag, got every one in & out of the van, checked into the child care and made my way to the treadmill at our gym-which is across town. I was putting on my ear buds, ready to press play on Pandora when I got a phone call. My husband, with a full patient load ahead of him, couldn’t find his keys and worse, was quite sure he left them in the van the night before. Oh.My. LORD! Wishing, hoping, praying I didn’t find them as I rummaged through the usual spots, I called him back from the parking lot to report: no keys found.
"Check the bottom pocket of the BOB stroller in the trunk."
Jingle. 
I had them.
He needed them.
I had no choice.
Well, actually I did.
Quite a doozie of a choice.
Silently, I rebuked him & his irresponsibility &threw a pity party for myself the whole way back into the gym and while I collected my kid from childcare.
So soon?
Yep.

As I headed up the entrance to the highway it hit me: this is what I’ll love you…for worsemeans.

Time to make a choice.
By some act of God, I found mercy & even kissed him as I handed him the keys in the driveway.

I get spitting mad when he leaves the finger paint in armsreach after finishing a project with the kids, or drives thru Chick Fil A instead of making something of the groceries in the fridge, or leaves the garage door open, or he'd rather be inside than at the beach and talks about when we’re going to leave on the way there.

There are times I want to reply to his mid-day texts with something snide about how nice it must be to listen to NPR, work on his laptop at Starbucks, or drive through the most beautiful parts of the State-ALONE-while I’m at home listening to tattle-tailing and caring for an inconsolable, teething baby.

Of course, sometimes I’m hearing giggling and thank you, mommy and our son sounding out words for the first time. Just like sometimes he’s caring for a grumpy,smelly, non-compliant patient. It can change hour by hour, can’t it?

The same goes for feelings; they change often.
Commitment, though, remains. 
Noah & Ally make this sort of "it's not going to be easy. it's going to be really hard. and we're going to have to work at this every day" seem far more romantic than it is in the trenches.

Most moments I feel like the luckiest girl in the world that Dan Poulsen chose me, and not just because I got a pretty ring to wear in memory of his proposal.  It occurred to me as I’m reading this book about grace, that if I began to categorize these annoyances as the “for worse”part of my vows, they’re less likely to produce ugly thoughts & attitudes. 
After all, I committed.
And making it even easier, are all the “for worse” things that I bring to the relationship. For example: I push. And I have unrealistic expectations. I hate waking up in the morning and I almost never meet him at the door when he gets home.

PS: I can only write about this now because lately, I’m crazy about him and the “for better”seems to outweigh the “for worse”.

Besides, aren't we the lucky ones?
Our “for worse”isn’t so worse in comparison to worse things.

Remaining committed through “for poorer” and “in sickness” while much harder to navigate, contributes profoundly to a marriage.

“For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, ‘till death do us part.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cute

There we were in juvenile fiction searching through what else?: Scooby Doo.
My boy who is too sensitive to watch the beginning of Finding Nemo or The Lion King is wild about the mystery-chasers and the ghosts & monsters they encounter.
Using my best persuasion skills, I lead him toward other non-goblin titles. If left on his own, he'd head to the counter with arms full of Scooby Doo books & DVDs.
We stood in front of the shelf surveying their selection when a pretty little girl-likely Carter's age-with curly hair & a cute flower dress joined us.
"Ummmm...do you know where the Scooby Doo videos are?"
Carter's head shot up toward me, eyes wide and almost as quickly, he knelt down & said "they're right here."
I watched him showing her each one.
I listened to her saying which she had & hadn't seen.
She grabbed one & stuck it in her bag.

There I was in the middle of what screenwriters refer to as a "meet-cute".
At least that's what Arthur tells Iris in The Holiday.
Could have been a scene from a romantic comedy if they weren't Kindergarteners.
It could be that I've got the master of romantic comedies, Nora Ephron, on my brain, after her recent death.
(Tom Hanks writes about his late friend & colleague here.)
I'm looking down at my son, 6 years old and the little girl who said the words that were sure to sweep him off his feet. I swear I never, ever think that way of him. I find it quite annoying, actually, when people pair up little kids. Let them have their innocence for crying out loud!

For now, he's got another cute, flowered dress-wearing girl for a book partner.

The other girl in our house has made it quite clear since she arrived that she only has eyes for one guy. She's typically the first one to crash our morning coffee & news time and she heads straight for her daddy's side.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Parenting | Running | Reading

First of all, Happiest birthday to my friend Klaire (aka: Katie, Kate, Kathryn, Dr., depending on the year). Wish I were climbing a mountain with you in Colorado. Who am I kidding? I do not. Could not. But, I can hardly wait for your visit and our nonstop talking, teenage girl sleepover style. xo

So, blogging has taken a hit by the new state of affairs in our home. All. 3. kids. every day. all day. 

But I wanted to share a few bits with you.
Carter, as anticipated, received a glowing final report card from his Kindergarten teacher. Above grade level this and that, outstanding classmate and learner, etc. I looked down into his wondering blue eyes after reading it and just wanted to say, "You are stellar! I promise I'll try not to take it for granted. And pack your bags we're headed to Disney World in your honor!" 
Instead, I hugged him & kissed him & shared the unfortunate news that he's not allowed to go to 1st grade, because that means one day he'll go to middle school and will no longer hold my hand walking in or out.
  ~~~
Lilah is her own person. She's helpful, she's too smart, she will under no circumstance take help before she's tried to do it independently, she picks up the guitar whenever music comes on TV, and she loves to eat fruits & veges. I have been near to tears (and cussing) many times lately as my patience and consistent discipline proves to be no match for her 3 year old will. A will that is all too familiar to me. More on that when it's not so fresh, I'm sure.
Wishing to be more a part of the conversation than her vocabulary allows, she provides loads of laughs. Just recently she said: "mommy. mommy. mommy. (repeat 4 more x at least) a bud (bug) bit me. it did mommy. a bud. it bit me. RIGHT HERE (pointing to her bum) ON MY BE HINEY."
~~~
I'm making some personal progress too. I ran 3 10 min miles yesterday for the first time! I've come so close before-finishing 3 miles at 10 min 58 seconds, but never 10 fair & square minutes each.
I've embraced what I've learned about how your body responds to running: oxygen & blood, yada, yada, yada. For me, the first mile is always hardest and on the contrary, I find myself enjoying the last mile as well as running much faster in the home stretch, comfortably. Now that I understand why, I enter a run expecting such and don't get discouraged when the beginning feels impossible.
I also bought a jazzy new pair of running shoes with ample heel cushion.
You may be interested in how not to quit running and the start of my personal running journey, something I never thought I'd start because I figured I'd fail.
~~~
Last night I couldn't put down the newly released Dinner: A Love Story book written by the author of the engaging blog by the same name. I'm enjoying the rhythm of the book: personal stories leading to beloved recipes and back and forth. Jenny and her husband Andy remind me of my husband and I a bit, both food-loving & family-committed folks. They live in NYC and work in publishing so they're coolness factor is much higher. It's certainly useful for a newbie cook as well as seasoned family meal-maker. I like the way she has it separated into stages of life, as the dinner table often reflects the differences-newlywed, young parents, etc. I've tried a few of the recipes from her blog in the past and was pleased. I'm considering cooking my way through this book a la Julie & Julia, minus the blogging & dedication to the degree of preparing aspics.

Friends and admirable parents have recommended Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus and once I read the excerpt available online, I ordered it immediately. Our desire as Christian parents is that our children grasp the love of Jesus and in turn love and obey Him and not that my kids are only moral, good people abiding by civil and religious standards. Here's a bit from the Introduction, but I recommend reading the whole book & taking from it what jives with your personal beliefs and parenting goals.
"Certainly the faith that has empowered the persecuted church for two millennia isn't as thin and boring as "Say you're sorry," "Be nice," and "Don't be like them." Why would anyone want to deny himself, lay down his life, or suffer for something as insane as that?....Let's face it most of our children believe that God is happy if they're "good for goodness' sake." We've transformed the holy, terrifying, magnificent, and loving God of the Bible into Santa and his elves."
Amazon offers a "look inside" option if you want to read more. Pin It
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