Motherhood

I want to start with a bit of an apology or a disclaimer if you will, I normally proof read my blogs briefly before I post because I know I can often become long winded or stray from the subject but I didn’t do that here. I just wanted to express exactly what I was feeling without any regards to run ons or subject changes! You’ve been warned.

When I held P (now 10) in my arms for the very first time, I knew being a mom was my calling. I mean, I had always known it but it really reiterated it. Yep, this was what I was meant to do. I was absolutely made to be a mother. I closed my eyes and envisioned my future as a glowing, nurturing, patient, maternal goddess. My entire future glowed before me. Soccer games, cheerleading, PTA meetings, family pictures. Yes, life was going to be picturesque, I could feel it. Even through the pain of my c-section and the late night feedings and poop explosions I trucked on towards the prize. The mother-of-year-prize; as though it was a tangible engraved trophy. I attended all her preschool parties with handmade treats and personalized party favors in tow. I scrapbooked every glorious little detail of her life in elaborate hand cut spreads with corner rounded photos. When I learned I was pregnant again, I just knew I would be an even better mother this time around. After all, I had some experience under my belt now, I was practically a pro! But when T came along, I learned I wasn’t as super as I thought. She was a difficult baby. She pretty much hated anyone but me and refused to be bottle fed at all. Pumped milk was not her thing, she wanted it fresh from the source! lol So class parties and other social events sort of took a back seat to little sister. I felt spread so thin I was sure both of my girls were suffering. By the time T was around 2 and I finally felt like I had a foothold on motherhood again, Dave and I begin talking about trying for our third and final baby. We thought since we were “trying” this time, it may take a while but in no time at all we were expecting again. This pregnancy was exciting to me because we were better prepared for it. It was expected, we were excited, the girls were excited, and we were in a better place financially to accommodate a new little blessing than previously. I was older, more experienced, and completely ready to take this on. After all, I had mastered being a mother of two, how much more difficult could a third child be? A was a pretty difficult child right out of the gate. She was colicky and was seriously attached to her mama. She did like Daddy much more than T did as a baby so that helped. Dave was much more helpful this time around too. He changed diapers and would offer to keep her so I could go to the store alone occasionally. But 3 kids into my parenting journey, I don’t exactly feel like a pro. I am NOT president of the PTA like I envisioned, I don’t even attend meetings. I have a hard time keeping their school and sporting events straight so I’m always late or confused in someway. We haven’t had family pictures taken in years. I’m not a glowing maternal goddess. I’m out of shape and stressed and overwhelmed most days. I feel like I’m drowning and failing in so many ways. I spend most of my days questioning every parenting decision I make and reflecting on every poor choice I made in the day: I text while I was at dinner with them, I fed them chick-fil-a because I didn’t feel like cooking, I didn’t bathe them last night because I was beyond ready for them to go to bed, they watched tv for more than an hour today, I lost my patience, I yelled, I skipped a bedtime story, we didn’t wake up in time for church, we didn’t pray together before bed. Did I spend enough time with them? Did I spend TOO much time with them? Did I let them be individuals and develop their own opinions or am I forcing mine on them? Have I scared them for life? Am I crushing their little spirits and forever changing who they are? Will they need therapy as adults? You laugh, but you know you’ve all thought the same thing about your parenting skills. Some days I hide in my closet and cry because I’m so disappointed in myself as a mother. Our pediatrician constantly compliments me on how well behaved, polite, intelligent, and wonderful our girls are. She praises Dave and I for our parenting every time we visit. Recently, Dave and I treated the girls to a nice dinner at Saltgrass steakhouse to celebrate P & T both being selected as students of the month at school when an elderly gentleman sitting at the table behind us came over as they were leaving and shook Dave’s hand. He said he just wanted to stop by and congratulate us on being wonderful parents. He said he and his wife had been watching and they were so blown away by how polite the girls were and how they just sat there sweetly the entire dinner. They were never rambunctious, never threw a fit, and were absolutely beautiful as well. Dave beamed with pride and the girls sweetly smiled and said thank you before waiving goodbye. Stuff like this literally happens to us every time we leave the house but still I don’t feel like a good parent. I still am overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy and failure. This weekend was a great weekend for our family. Thursday I attended a muffins with Mom breakfast at the older girl’s elementary school and then a few hours later attended a muffins with Mom event at A’s mother’s day out program. I loved watching them very proudly present me little handmade cards and gifts as a Mother’s Day present. Friday morning, I attended another early morning breakfast event at the school because P had been chosen for a character award. Each time I attend an event at the girl’s school I am bombarded by reports of praise from their teachers, administrators, peers, and other parents. I cried as a letter from her teacher explaining why she was chosen was read aloud choked full of wonderful words of praise like “P is selfless, generous, and there is not a student in my classroom who thinks anything but the best of her. On my own bad days, I can think of a student like her and realize why I love to do this job.”. She goes on to say “Her kindness and constant enthusiasm will be something I remember for many years to come.”. Wow! Included in her award papers was a wonderful collage of sweet comments that each of her peers had contributed about her. “P is a problem solver and I have never seen her with a frown”, “You are a sweet, nice, cute, and generous girl and will be my best friend forever”, “You are awesome! You are fast, nice, gold hearted, a good friend, and very good at soccer”, “She is one of the coolest and nicest people I have ever met”. Were amongst some of my favorite things her classmates had to share about her. I am so so proud of this amazing little girl but I can’t take the credit for it. Even with all this praise, I can’t take credit. She’s wonderful all on her own and I still felt like a failure when I fed her fast food for dinner that night. The next morning, our whole family attended a city wide “Character March” at one of the local high schools. Star students from each school in the city were brought on stage and recognized for being students of impeccable character. This year there were about 18 students out of the nearly 500 enrolled students at their school selected to be students of the month and of those 18, my 2 children were BOTH selected! They were the only set of siblings recognized that day. T’s teacher said about her: “She always has a kind word for her friends and encourages others. She usually goes the extra mile to help teachers and students alike.” She added, “She is a great example to her peers daily and her genuine and caring heart makes her a friend to all.” We finished off the morning with food and fun at the stadium and then enjoyed an evening of pizza and playing with friends. At the end of the night when I kept my children up waaaaaay past their bedtimes and then became irritated when A was extremely cranky and whiney I felt like a failure again. My point in all of this was not to brag on my children, (okay, maybe a little bit, but they truly deserve some recognition), it was to say that no matter what the parenting circumstances are, no matter how other people view you as a parent, no matter how well behaved and kind hearted your kids may be, you will always be your own worst critic. It’s something I’ve struggled with since I became a mother and something I will probably always struggle with from time to time. This morning when I was surprised with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, jewelry from one of my favorite stores, donuts, and hand drawn Mother’s Day cards before church, I cried. Reading the sweet words on the card my husband had selected for me and the wonderful note he wrote at the bottom made my heart swell because I realized something for the first time in all of my years as a mom. I realized that I am enough. I’m not perfect, I’m often impatient, I become overwhelmed, sometimes my kids eat fast food, but I’m doing my very best and you know what? That’s a pretty good start. God didn’t intend for us to be perfect mothers. He intended us to lean on him with faithful prayer. He intended for us to go to Him for counsel and guidance and to raise our children to love him. Can I tell you something moms? You are enough for those babies. Someday when they’re grown, they won’t remember that time we were too tired for a bedtime story, they will remember the love we had for them, the discipline they received when they were disobedient, the lessons we teach them, and most importantly how we instilled in them a love for the Lord.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

I find so much encouragement in the word knowing that the Father is with me co-parenting and picking up the slack when I can’t go on. I find hope in His promises for me as a mother and although I know I will always fall short in some area as a mother, I know those sweet, beautiful, amazing, precious babies of mine love their imperfect, absent minded, goofy, flawed mommy more than I deserve. They are truly the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. They try my patience and drive my absolutely batty some days but this wonderful amazing motherhood journey has been the greatest ride of my life!

Proverbs 31:28-29 Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things but you surpass them all.

Thank you Lord for loving me so completely despite my many flaws. Thank you for trusting me with these 3 amazing little angels. Thank you for giving me a God fearing mother as an example to myself and my children and for the many amazing mothers in my life. I pray for extra strength for my fellow mommies who are struggling with the same feelings of inadequacy and failure today. Less of us and more of you Lord.

Happy Mother’s Day Mamas! <3

Reading nook fun

Our oldest daughter is severely dyslexic.  She’s struggled with reading for years and finally as she nears the end of 4th grade, she seems to be reading on level and actually enjoying books rather than dreading reading time.  I wanted to really nurture her newfound love of reading as well as that of her little sisters so I decided we needed a designated reading area.  I initially planned on a cute little teepee or something in the corner of the playroom with pillows and blankets (hint: hobby lobby is now carrying super cute teepees for $100 and you can use a coupon!) but our playroom looks over our living room and kitchen so it isn’t always the quietest of places.  Then it hit me!  The “secret” closet under the stairs.  The door is in the laundry room and it’s pretty quiet with the exception of the lull of the washer/dryer when it’s on.  We were using it as storage for our cleaning supplies and some boxes of Christmas decorations.  The girls and I got started on clearing it out and moving the boxes up to the attic.  We are so pleased with the way it turned out and it’s been used daily since.  Aside from the little book rack and a new rug, it cost me next to nothing as we used items we already had around the house.  

The only rules are to be quiet and have fun.  Everyone has to pick a quiet activity while in there, doesn’t necessarily have to be reading.  

   
 

The reading lounge seating is actually an old ottoman top that no longer matches my living room.  It’s padded so pretty comfy to sit on and the back is a rolled piece of foam for a bed we had laying around.  I had an extra set of queen size sheets that I used to cover  both items and I used a little duct tape to secure them to the bottom without having to actually cut or sew anything.  They’ve held up great so far!  We had the battery operated lanterns and pennant banner leftover from a party and I got the rug from garden ridge on clearance for under $20.  The cloth book rack is from Walmart.com.  It arrived in days and was inexpensive.  I used chalk pens to doodle a Dr. Suess quote on a chalkboard we already had and hung it for decor.  

  

I wanted some color on the walls but didn’t want to commit to paint so I was ecstatic to find the little circle decals on clearance for $4 at target.  

  
We filled the area with quiet activities like magnets and magnet boards, (an oil drip pan from the auto part store and cookie sheets from dollar tree), I-spy bottles we made a few years ago, and books.

  
We got the idea from Pinterest of course and the girls love them!  Super easy and fun project.  They’re made using voss water bottles, rice, and little trinkets from around the house.  We took photos of the items before putting them in the rice, printed them out, laminated, and numbered them and the bottles as a key.  They use dry erase markers to mark off the items as they find them.  

  
The girls aren’t allowed to have electronic devices upstairs because I like to be able to monitor anything with internet capability so we created an “iStation” with all our iPads, iPods, and innotabs.  We added headphones so that game and electronic stories didn’t disturb others enjoying the quiet space.  We had such a fun time creating this reading nook together and the girls love having a secret quiet hideaway to unwind and enjoy a good story.  Can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!  

Diary of a zoo keeper errr… uh… stay at home mom.

Last week while at the gym, I met a lovely older gentleman on the elliptical machine next to me.  He offered up some banter on how he had just recently found himself back at the gym after being very inactive for many years.  He asked if I worked out often and I truthfully admitted that I didn’t go near as often as I intended to.  He asked if my work schedule was demanding and thus kept me from keeping my desired gym schedule.  I sort of chuckled to myself and said, “you could say that”.  He asked what I did for a living and when I informed him that I was a stay at home Mom he looked taken aback.  “What does your husband do that he can afford to keep you at home all to himself” he playfully asked me.  “He’s in oil”  I vaguely replied.  “Well, it’s nice you get to spend so much time at home with your kids” he stated.  I hesitated a moment and then said half way convincingly “it is.  I’m very fortunate.”  He smiled sweetly and then said, what many, many, MANY a dumb male before him after have said “Well, if you don’t have to work, you should have plenty of time to go to the gym, see your friends, and get your nails done.”  I briefly glanced down at my mangled, dry, unmanicured nails and tried to imagine the last time I had lunch with a friend and I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted to smack this sweet old man or break into tears.  Now ladies and gentleman, I’m not often stunned to silence.  In fact, I can almost always find something to say but I had absolutely, positively nothing to say in response to such an ignorant comment.  So I smiled sweetly, nodded politely, and ran like hell to the leg press.  It occurred to me that to someone who has never actually stayed home full time with small children, it might look like quite a luxurious job but to those of us who know the truth, it is nothing short of exhausting.  Rewarding?  Yes.  Fulfilling?  Mostly.  Boring?  Never.  Relaxing?  Hahaha Easy?  HELL NO!  Truth is, most days, I don’t sit down much at all.  Some days I don’t get to shower until the kids are off in dreamland.  But even though I know that I work hard.  Brutally hard all day every day, I felt as though I had to prove it to myself.  So today, I woke up with the idea to log my day.  Every last minute of it and share it here with you.  Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you will just learn to appreciate the tough tough work that motherhood entails.  We may laugh, we may cry, who knows what the day will hold!

6:45 a.m-Woke up, brushed teeth, washed face, strapped on bra

7:00- Walked upstairs to wake P up for school and then returned to my room to make my bed

7:15-  Rounded up all the trash and set it outside on the curb for pickup then came inside and sat at the bar to begin the intro to this blog entry

7:25- Loaded children in the car to drop P off at school

7:35-arrived back home and unloaded children only to realize Sadie had escaped again

7:40- Re-loaded children in the car and perused the neighborhood looking for said rouge Yorkie-Poo.

7:50- Located Sadie.  She ran from me when she saw me get out of the car because she knew she was in trouble.  I bolted down the street after her in my pajamas while my children, still in the running vehicle, giggled loudly

8:00- A demanded Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and some milk.  I took this time to unload the dishwasher and then reload it with the remaining dirty dishes from last night’s dinner.  A hugged my leg and told me she loved me.

8:25-The girls said they were hungry.  I offered to make them scrambled eggs for breakfast but they wanted frozen waffles instead.  Winning!  I served them their breakfast.  T wants “pink bunny” to drink.  I explain why strawberry syrup in her milk is a bad choice given the syrup on her waffles.  She doesn’t necessarily agree but cooperative none the less.  Unfortunately, she’s now implanted the syrupy milk idea in A’s head.  She doesn’t give up the matter without a fight.

8:40- Coffee.  I need Coffee.

8:55-I gaze out the window longingly.  It would be nice to drink my coffee and read outside this morning.  The kids would want to come out too though.  It’s chilly out this morning and the ground is still rather wet from the rain.  My mother would not approve at all.  Visions of pneumonia dance through my head so I decide to drink my coffee on the sofa instead and have a gander at social media.  A thought this was a good time to use me as a jungle gym and climb on top of my head.  I disagreed.  She got mad and threw a fit.  I decided sitting was a bad idea.  It’s time to switch out the laundry anyway.

9:20- I wrapped up towel folding and distributed them amongst all 3 bathrooms.  I can’t find my coffee.  T helped me look and told me she loved me.

9:30- Found my coffee.  It was in the laundry room on top of the dryer.  It’s cold now.  I microwave it.  Now it is too hot to drink so I set it on the counter to cool.

9:40- Crap!  My friend keeps telling me I need to remember to eat 6 small meals a day to boost my metabolism.  I forgot to eat breakfast.  It’s time for my mid-morning snack though.  I grab a greek yogurt from the fridge and sit down on the sofa next to the girls watching Disney Jr.  A demands to have my yogurt.  “You already ate your waffles, this is Mommy’s breakfast” I explain to her.  “But I want it” she demanded.  “You don’t like this kind of yogurt” I tell her.  “Yes, I do!  I like it!  I really like it and I want it!” she exclaimed.  “Fine” I agree defeated and push a spoonful in her mouth.  She looks disgusted and begins to spit it out all over me and back into the container of yogurt.  Good thing I’m almost done.  I toss the remnants in the trash.

10:00- I need to go to the gym but I have several errands to run as well.  So, I’m debating whether or not to take a shower now or do it post errands and workout.  I’ve got yogurt in my hair and really I can’t wear gym shorts without shaving these legs anyway so shower time it is!

10:15- Whhhhhhhhhhy can’t I shower alone or get dressed without an audience man?!?!??!  A stood outside my glass shower doors singing “I see your booooooty, I see your boooooooty” and dancing a little jig.  I lost my cool and yelled at her to please go away and let me shower alone.  “Whhhhhhhhhy?” she whined before throwing herself on the floor crying and then reluctantly leaving me in peace however short lived it may have been.

10:20-I just remembered I never drank my coffee.  It’s cold again.  I pour it out, it’s a lost cause.  T gave me a wonderful hug!

10:30-The girls are asking for a snack.  I slice apples and serve them with pretzels and PB for T and Nutella for A (She’s allergic to PB)

10:40-A was running (even though i’ve repeatedly told her not to) and face planted.  Big surprise.  It’s the end of the world you would think by the way she’s wailing.  I need a drink but it’s too early for booze so I settle for some Advocare Spark.

11:00 Frantically searched for T’s shot record for Kinder registration this afternoon.

11:25- Still haven’t found it.  Need to make some phone calls but it’s time to start thinking about what to feed these wild animals for lunch.  Taylor wants chick-fil-a.  Sounds delicious but I have GOT to make lunch here today.

11:30- Discovered crushed up pretzels in the rug so busted out the dyson.  Figured since I had it out I may as well cover all the downstairs rugs and carpeted areas.

11:50- Had such fun vacuuming the rugs I decided to continue the party with the broom and the swifter on the wood floors {insert sarcastic eye roll}.

12:15-A can’t find her milk.  Someone send a search party.  The kid.can’t.find.her.milk!!!!!!  She’s in full on panic mode which puts me in full on panic mode.  Find the milk.  FIND.THE.MILK!

12:30- New pediatrician’s office says they sent for shot records in January but never received them.  Old Pedi office says they never received the request.  Someone dropped the ball here and for once it wasn’t me!  Hooray!  Meanwhile, i still haven’t fed my children lunch.  Whhhhhhhhhhy did I stop buying bread and try to be all “low carb”?!?!?!  Now I can’t even make the kids a PB&J!  My shoulder devil is seductively whispering “chick-fil-a” in my ear.  Shoulder angel sweetly says “feed them something  home cooked and nutritious”.  Shoulder devil chimes in again “if you take them to chick-fil-a to eat, they can play and you can read for 20 mins.”  Sold!  Sorry shoulder angel, shoulder devil makes a compelling argument!

12:45- Start bath for children.  They have impossibly messy curly hair that must be tamed before public viewing.  I put them in my bathtub so I can put makeup on and do my hair while they splash and play.

12:50- Even though I told A to go potty before I got her in the bath and she insisted she didn’t need to go, about 5 mins into the bath she suddenly needed to go.  I scooped her out and ran her over to her princess potty chair with seconds to spare before we heard that magical reward chime.  Back into the bath to wash the shampoo out of her hair quickly and then up the stairs to get everyone dressed.  T insists on picking out her own outfit.  Greeeeeeeeeaaaaaat!

1:00- T emerges in something not spectacular but semi-cute and surprisingly coordinating so I don’t battle with her.  Meanwhile I’m debating if workout clothing is acceptable for kinder registration or if I should attempt to look “put together”.  I settled on changing out of my nike shorts and into yoga pants.  If I throw a dress on and look too nice, I’ll never venture to the gym today.

1:15- On the way to Chick-fil-a, Dave called to tell me he was bored.  I halfway wanted to smack him through the phone and tell him what a gift it was to have time to be bored today but I refrained.  I do feel sorry for him, I really do.  I know it’s tough and lonely to be away from your family so much.  I was just a little bitter in the moment that’s all.  3 different people complimented me on how cute and well behaved the girls are within minutes of us arriving so that made me feel pretty good.

1:30- The girls ate and ran into the play area excitedly.  I too was excited and dug my iPad out of my purse to read.  Super excited to get lost in my book for a bit.

1:55- I’ve managed to read like 3 pages of my book in the last 25 minutes.  I sat by the door to the play area thus find myself getting up approximately every 3.5 seconds to open the door for a child (often my own) to either enter or exit said play area.  I’m sort of the unofficial protector of tiny fingers at chick-fil-a today.  Reading is clearly a lost cause so I rally up the troops and load them in the car.

2:15- Pulled up to the school.  Sat in the car a few minutes trying to mentally prepare myself for this.  My baby.  My tiny baby girl is registering for Kindergarden!  Bittersweet for sure!  While holding my hand crossing the street, A looked at my hand and said “mama, you need paint yo nails”.  Sure kid, I will mentally file that away under things I need to do in my “spare time”.

3:00- Stood in line for 30 minutes but we still didn’t get to register.  Our electricity is automatically drafted out of our account.  A few months ago, Chase bank suspected fraudulent charges on Dave’s debit card, cancelled it, and re-issued a new one.  This caused lots of problems for our automatic bill pays.  Long story short, the electric company wasn’t able to process the payment like usual so issued a disconnect notice.  I was able to clear the whole sorted mess up and give them the new billing information long before the cut off date but wouldn’t you know the unopened bill I attempted to use for proof of residency happened to be the disconnect notice?!?!?!  “We can’t accept a disconnect notice as proof of residency” the lady told me when she opened the envelope.  “Disconnect notice?”  I questioned confused.  I have never had my utilities disconnected.  I am ridiculously meticulously responsible with bills.  I glanced over and indeed she was right.  Of course the one bill I happened to grab was this!  I wanted to die of embarrassment and immediately started stammering out the story of the debit card.  But too late.  All the people behind and in front of me heard the sorted story.  “We will be here till 6, you can go get a current bill and bring it back up to register her before then” she sort of scoffed at me.  I wanted to crawl into a hole.  Back to the car we go.  It’s time to pick up P anyway.

3:15- P gets in the car and I explain we need to run home and grab a new bill then return to the school with it to register T.  However when I pull into the garage, I glance back and A has fallen asleep.  I’m not waking her to go back to the school I’ll tell ya that right now!!!

3:30- I successfully transfered A from her car seat to the sofa and drew all the blinds so it’s nice and cozy.  I set P up with her homework and T on the computer to play on abcmouse.com.  I’m going to read until this kid wakes up!!!!!

4:15- Dear Lord she’s moving around an awful lot.  She’s restless.  She won’t sleep long.  Nooooooooo!  I’ve only been sitting long enough to read 5 pages!

4:25- The girls want a snack.  They’re also bored and would like to go out front to ride their scooters.

4:45-  Game over.  A is awake. She wants fruit and milk

5:00- Cleaning up and everyone is loading up to head back to the darn school.

5:20- Not so patiently waiting for Kinder registration part 2!  Ready to get this done!

5:51- DONE!  Finally!  It’s raining again and oddly cold.  I have zero motivation to go to the gym.  According to the pedometer on my watch, I’ve exceeded my 10,000 steps per day goal for an active life.  I feel like that entitles me to skip the gym.  No?  I haaaaaaate the gym at this hour.  It’s the most inconvenient time ever to haul 3 kids to a crowded gym.  Kicking myself for not going earlier this morning instead of cleaning floors!

6:00- Just pulled up to the gym.  Just as I suspected it is unbearably packed.  I drag myself upstairs but can’t seem to get into a workout so only halfway through,  I throw in the towel (literally) and head down to get the kids.

6:45- Just got home.  Need to make dinner.  Don’t feel motivated to make dinner.  Feel motivated to sit on sofa and watch anything but Disney Jr.  But alas these children will not feed themselves.  Whipped up some quick spaghetti for the girls with “zoodles” (zucchini noodles) for me.

7:15- Just got invited to have a few drinks with some friends.  Text our sitter, she can come.  Hooray!  Social interaction.  The girls want me to play a card game with them.  I already feel guilty that I’m venturing out tonight and I haven’t even left yet.  I set up the card game and we play but I feel distracted battling with myself on wether or not going out is a good idea.  I’m not leaving until their bedtime anyway I decide and finally let myself have fun with my pretty princesses.  T won the first round but was disappointed to lose the second.  These kids are insanely competitive like their daddy!

8:00- Help the girls have a “fashion show” of princess dresses.  They want to play with my shoes.  I let them.  Trying to find something to wear.  I don’t have any jeans that fit.  There is literally no medium ground between athletic clothing and dresses in my closet!  I get A’s PJs laid out for her and then do my makeup quickly.

8:45- Ashley has arrived to watch the girls.  I try to straighten up the kitchen while we chat and wait for friends to arrive to drop off their girls and pick me up.

9:00- A needs to go potty so I escort her to my bathroom where her princess potty awaits.  She goes “tee tee” in the potty and I tell her to hang tight for a second while I grab some toilet paper to wipe her.  I emerge to see her picking the potty up (full of tee tee mind you) and attempting to carry it into my bedroom.  I frantically grab it from her but it is too late, we are both covered in pee.  I take her princess dress off and call for Ashely to help me clean her up so I can clean myself up.  Friends are here waiting for me so we can leave.  I toss on another dress and some wedges and we head out.

9:20- Sweet relief.  Feels like I haven’t so much as spoken to another adult (besides Dave) in a week!  Feels nice to joke around and talk with someone about anything other than bowl movements, snacks, and school work.

12:20- We’ve found our way back to my house.  I pour the girls a glass of wine and we banter a little bit before they head off.  I crawl into bed and finally I am alone with my book and my thoughts.  I try and read but I can’t stop thinking about the billion things I didn’t get around to doing today.  The post office, home depot, the grocery store.  None of it got done.  There’s always tomorrow.  I get lost in my e-book until around 2 when I fell asleep.  I know it was around 2 because I was holding the iPad above my face reading and when I drifted off to dreamland mid sentence, I dropped the iPad on my face and awoke only to check the time, place the iPad beside me, and roll over.

*Disclaimer.  The day was absolute full disclosure.  I Kept a running log in my phone and kept notes throughout the day.  I was hesitant to even include the whole drinks with friends portion because that does NOT happen often but I wanted to be honest.  It was my only glimpse at sanity yesterday.*

There were a lot of hectic moments in my day.  There was a lot of frustration and rushing and work.  But there was a lot of laughter and happiness as well.  It’s an exhausting job but I wouldn’t want any other job.  I love these sweet girls of mine.  I’m so blessed to be their Mommy even if they often drive me bonkers!  The days are long but the years are short.

My baby is 9. Yep, NINE!

Last week my baby turned 9.  She may be my oldest but she’ll always be my baby!  Try as I might, I couldn’t keep her from growing up.  I cannot wrap my head around the fact that a whole 9 years have passed since I brought this little miracle home from the hospital!  I’m so proud of the little person she is becoming.  She’s smart, beautiful, helpful, kind, and loves Jesus.  I couldn’t ask for more in a daughter.  I had her tag along on a session last week in the outfit she picked for her party because A.  She’s amazing with babies and I knew the sweet 1 year old I was working with that night would love her B.  It was a lovely wooded looking area that I though would compliment her outfit well.  She took one of her favorite American Girl Doll’s along too!

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Several weeks ago we had 12 of her favorite little ladies spend the night for a back to school bash.  Everyone had a blast but I told her right then and there that we wouldn’t be having a huge party for her birthday this year since she got to do that.  Her birthday weekend also fell sandwiched in between 2 trips to Dallas for the American Girl Fashion Show & rehearsal, and a Bitty Baby tea party we won through House Party.  All this traveling and partying combined with school and soccer didn’t leave me much energy for another big bash.  Besides, when you have 5 girl nieces and 3 daughters, you have a built in party at every family gathering!  lol  I told P she could invite 4 friends to join her and her cousins for a camping themed party. Poor child had such a tough time narrowing down her list.  We’re so fortunate to have so many sweet girls in our lives!  When all was settled, she selected 3 school friends and 1 soccer pal and we got to work on hand delivering invitations.  We dipped oversized marshmallows in chocolate and sprinkles on skewers and drove around to present the invitations, pre-party snack, and a tiny little compass to all our cousins and 4 friends.

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When our guests arrived, they were asked to “Register” at the camp welcome center.  Here they would grab their “welcome packs” (goody bags), sign a frame for P to keep as a memory, and pay their “camp dues”.  P has so much of what she wants and much more than she could ever need so instead of gifts, she asked her guests to bring their spare change to donate to one of our favorite charities.  We printed out little name labels for each of our guests and used ribbon to tie them to canvas tote bags we got 2/$1 at Dollar tree.  They also had a “camp journal”, mini deco tape, a cool wooden pencil, flashlight keychain, scratch off ticket, a little thank you note, and camping sticker scene activity.  We got the mini flashlight keychains and sticker sheets from oriental trading.  The flashlight and tape are “doll sized” which is perfect for my little AG lovers.

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The girls snacked on mini pretzel dogs and cheeto puffs and drank their “bug juice”.  It was lemonade that I added strawberry flavoring and green food coloring too.  Then we froze plastic bugs in muffin tins to use as ice.

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I had cute little chevron printed paper treat bags set up near a pink tackle box full of candy “bait”  and cups full of different flavored teddy grahams and gummy bears for the girls to make their own sweet trail mixes.

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Then we moved on to our table to do a few crafts and the scratch off tickets.  We passed out lucky pennies and the girls got a kick out of them.  The winner got a bigger backpack style “camping pack” filled with a nifty journal, flashlight, sports bottle, stickers, etc.  I got all of this stuff at Michael’s in the fun finds section.  Nothing I bought including the bag were over $1!  After the winner got her goodies, we moved on to arts and crafts.  I got these cute little peace, love, and s’mores kits at oriental trading  ($6/12pk) and they were the perfect addition to a girly camping party.  We also made s’more necklaces out of polymer clay.  We LOVE polymer clay!

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The kids also enjoyed the “fishing hole” and visited it on and off throughout the party.  We got a few packages of ping pong balls at dollar tree and hot glued foam tails and magnets on them.  We used dowel rods with fishing wire and a large washer on the end for fishing poles and a plastic kiddie pool I borrowed from my bestie for the pond.  The girls paired up and raced to see who could catch the most fish in 1 minute.  The winners got to pick a prize from the prize box (sticker sheets and more Michael’s fun finds).

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After fishing, the girls all climbed into the tent we had set up with their dolls and played with the doll sized s’mores and campfire we had made before the party.  We made the s’mores using polymer clay and toothpicks for doll sized skewers.  The fire we made using a scrap piece of cardboard for the base.  We traced LED tea lights we got at the dollar tree and cut a space out on the cardboard for them.  I sent my kiddos on a scavenger hunt for small rocks and twigs and used hot glue to secure them.  It was a hit!  We set up the doll tent inside the real tent with some adorable doll sized sleeping bags my mother made.  P had one of her dolls giving horseback riding lessons to the other dolls too!  hahahaha  She might be my kid!

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While the girls played in the tent, Dave and I hid plastic bugs I got at dollar tree around the yard.  I used a sharpie to write “winner” on 4 or 5 of the bugs before we hid them.  When we were done, the girls had to find 3 bugs each.  Those who found winning bugs got a prize from the prize box.

After all the fun, Dave lit the fire pit while we finished our remaining crafts and the girls got to enjoy their s’mores.  We had 2 different kinds of chocolate, 2 different kinds of graham crackers, and 4 different kinds of marshmallows to choose from!  It was fun watching the girls make different s’more creations.  They grabbed their skewers and had a great time laughing and roasting marshmallows together.  We had cupcakes earlier in the evening so I limited the girls to 2 s’mores each so they wouldn’t be bouncing off the walls for their mothers later!  lol

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When the s’mores were done and the moon was out we handed out glow sticks and let the girls run free in the yard with their flashlights and lanterns before it was time to go home. I have to say it was nothing super fancy, but it was by far one of my favorite parties we’ve hosted!  I kinda wanna do it all over again!  Hope all the girls had fun too!  On top of all that, our generous friends and family raised about $100 for charity and brought P some goodies too!  She got some great books, a guitar, the rainbow loom thingy she’s been dying for, and her first bow and arrow set from her grandparents.  She’s dying to get to the ranch and get some lessons from Grandpa!  Love my sweet girl and hope she had a great birthday!  Have lots of camping themed printables I will probably upload later in case anyone is interested :)

In the perfect ending to a great weekend, we participated in the baby dedication at church the next morning and even better, P got baptized!  What an incredible moment it was watching my Daddy baptize my daughter!

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Packing lunches

We do most of our grocery shopping at HEB but yesterday, I realized we had no food in our house so we ran into Albertsons super quick to grab a few things to tie us over. I really had no desire to take 3 kids on a full fledged grocery expedition. I’m not a huge Albertsons fan. They don’t have a very good organic selection, their produce is not great, and they’re more expensive than HEB but they have baskets in the shape of cars so my kids actually go willingly! Moral of the story, it was slim pickings for lunch boxes today!

P asked for turkey roll ups, they’re one of her favorites. I make them with cream cheese on whole wheat tortillas.

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I spread cream cheese on the tortilla then add turkey and cheese.

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I then roll the tortilla tightly and use cream cheese as a “glue” then I cut the ends off and toss them out (or eat them) and slice the rest.

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She’s like her mama and loves veggies dipped in Greek yogurt ranch so I gave her some baby carrots and broccoli and a tiny bit of ranch. I tossed in some bunny fruit snacks for dessert and the apple for afternoon fruit break. She took water to drink.

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T on the other hand hates turkey roll ups and broccoli and carrots too! She asked for a peanut butter, banana, and Nutella sandwich butterfly.

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It’s ridiculous I know but last year, she was super nervous about going to school so I persuaded her to go those first few weeks with elaborate lunches. She eventually got over being away from mama and I didn’t have to ridiculous lunches all the time but today she asked for a butterfly.

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The spots on the wings are m&ms and she got an applesauce, nila wafers, and a juice pouch.

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Have you guys tried peanut butter, banana, & Nutella sandwiches?!?!? Oh my gosh! So delicious! Tastes more like dessert! Mmmm… What’s your kids favorite school lunch? Lets share some ideas! Email me or leave a comment :)

Studies reveal that mean kids turn into mean adults over time!

When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up!  We were going to do whatever we want and not have to ask permission.  We would watch whatever we wanted, listen to whatever music we wanted, and eat whatever we wanted and all would be right with the world.  As an awkward teenager  or a dorky elementary school student we thought to ourselves “someday, when I’m a grown up, people won’t be mean and immature.  There won’t be any “popular kids”  or cliques and everyone will just be nice to one another.  Nobody will ever push me around or make me feel bad about myself.  Everything in the world will be rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops”.

Then we grew up, got married, had some kids and realized that growing up wasn’t as much fun as we thought it was going to be.  There are bills to pay, mouths to feed, floors to mop, and lots and lots of stress.   We do NOT get to do whatever we want whenever we want because finding a babysitter is like finding a pearl in an oyster and it’s awfully expensive too!  We don’t get to watch whatever we want either because anything not rated G or PG is just out of the question, and we always have nursery rhymes and Veggie Tales songs stuck in our heads.  Nobody told us we couldn’t eat whatever we wanted once we were adults either because it would go straight to our thighs!  Life my friends is NOT all rainbows, butterflies, and lollipops as an adult.  All of this was disappointing to learn but not nearly as disappointing as learning that adults are STILL mean and immature.  The “popular kids” still exist and although they’ve traded in their backpacks for designer handbags and luxury SUV’s, they still know how to make you feel small.  Yep, sad truth is adults are NOT always nice to one another!  You just have to accept the fact that often grown adults will get jealous, they will talk about you behind your back, they get bossy, and even form cliques that you won’t always be a part of.  They will be unkind, inconsiderate, and just blatantly rude from time to time too.

But not you!  Nope, you’re nothing like these rude, clique forming adults I speak of right?

WRONG!

We need to remember that all of these not so nice qualities live inside each and every one of us.  We’re all guilty of gossiping about one another, we’re all guilty of leaving someone out of our circle of friends, and we’re all incredibly guilty of judging one another like God has appointed us his CEO of the judgment department!   Somedays it’s harder to keep our inner demons at bay than others.  The important thing to remember is that while there is bad in everyone, there is also good.  Just as God forgives us when we are not so nice to him, we should forgive others who are not always so nice to us and should strive to be equally kind to everyone!  Everyone is fighting a battle of their own so treat others the way you would like to be treated.  Don’t make it a point to leave people out or make them feel like less of a person just because you can!  In short, don’t be a bully because there will always be a bigger kid capable of bullying YOU!

These are important things to remember for 3 reasons:

1.  Nobody likes to be bullied or made fun of.  Nobody likes to be made to feel like their thoughts, opinions, feelings, and self worth are less valuable than anyone else’s.

2.  Remember those kids we’re raising?  You know, the ones who we strive so hard to shelter from these mean bully kids?  These kids are looking to us for examples of the kind of adults they should become.  If we are portraying an adult who speaks poorly about other people, who often says things like “no, I’m not going because so and so will be there and I don’t like her”,  or shows no concept of compromise or kind regard for the feelings and well being of others, than we are failing these children miserably!  They will be destined to become rude, snobby, bossy, boastful, unkind adults!

3. Most importantly, God commands us to be kind to one another time and time again throughout the bible!  He commands us to be forgiving and compassionate just as he is with us.

Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as Christ God forgave you”

James 2:8 “If you really keep the royal law found in scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself”,  you are doing right”

The bottom line here folks is we’re all sinners.  Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”.  Nobody is asking you to be perfect and we are all a far cry from the people God is calling us to be but nobody young or old should have to deal with the mean kids on the playground.  If we all made a conscious effort to do what God is asking and just simply be kind and compassionate to one another, I imagine the mean kids on the playground would cease to exist!  Reach out to someone this week and let that beautiful light shine through you!  Sometimes we have to step out of our comfort zones and often including others in our plans is an inconvenience but if we ALL put others before ourselves, we would always have someone out there putting us first.

Lord, today my prayer is that you make me more like you.  Make me more compassionate and tolerant of the “mean kids” who aren’t always the easiest to love.  Help me to lay my own hurt aside to be forgiving to those who have never even asked for forgiveness.  Work through me to show them the joy and peace that only you can give.  I pray Lord that you will penetrate  the hearts of my children so they will always let your kindness shine through to their peers all their lives.  I pray that you will use my actions and my words to be a living example of your love and mercy to my husband, my children, my friends, family, and everyone I come in contact with.  Fill my heart with your peace and love and grant me a spirit of compassion and kindness.  Thank you so very much for loving me and forgiving me even though I don’t deserve it.   Amen <3

American Girl Bitty Baby House Party

If you know me, you know that I love throwing a good party and I tend to go overboard.  If you don’t know me, you probably could have figured that out all on your own!  I’m not someone who does things the easy way either.  Nope, store bought decorations, invitations, and favors have never been my thing.  Not that there’s anything wrong with store bought party stuff, just saying, it’s not my thing.  I know I have mentioned before that my children (and myself who am I kidding) love American Girl Dolls.  We share our house with several of them but one of our favorites is Lizzy, T’s Bitty Baby.  She loves to push her in her stroller, sit her in her highchair, and carry that diaper bag everywhere we go.  When baby sister got old enough to take an interest in baby dolls, she pretty much kidnapped Lizzy for good.  I had officially decided that A would be getting her very own Bitty for her 2nd birthday in December.  Now P says she wants one too of course!  Got to have 3 of everything in a house full of girls you know!  Anyhow, a couple of months ago we got wind that AG was planning to release their revamped line of Bitty Baby at the end of August.  T was ridiculous amounts of excited so we had to do a little internet research to see what changes were being made exactly.  We discovered that there would now be 11 bittys to choose from, a whole new line of story books geared towards the younger AG lovers, and lots of exciting new accessories.  We also stumbled upon the House Party website.  How on earth had I never heard of House Party before?!?!?!  My love for over the top parties and my love for free products combined into one fabulous website!??!?!  If you don’t know about House Party, you NEED to check them out at http://www.houseparty.com and sign yourself up to host your very own!  American Girl teamed up with House Party to select 1,000 or so lucky ladies to host a Bitty Baby tea party to introduce new Bitty to the world!  Naturally we signed ourselves up to be hosts and patiently waited for what seemed like forever to find out if we had been chosen or not.  I have to tell you I had pretty much psyched myself up for disappointment because I never win anything.  Seriously.  NEVER!  Imagine my joyful surprise when I checked my email on host picking day to discover that I had been selected!!!  So in about a month we will gather around with some of P & T’s favorite lil’ ladies and have a tea party to welcome our new Bitty home.

This is the new Bitty Baby.  Her face mold has been changed as well as her hairline.  She now comes with her own full color story book called “Bitty Baby and Me” and a cute little wishing star.  Her little sleeper outfit has changed too and is super cute with little ruffles.  Can’t wait to see her in person.  T is ridiculously excited!

F6254_main_2American Girl and House Party are sending us and our guests lots of goodies and naturally I had to start whipping up my own special touches immediately!  I don’t normally share my party plans pre-party because I like for my guests to be pleasantly surprised by my personal touches but I figure there are so many other host mamas who could probably benefit from my hours of computer design work too.  My husband always says nothing in this world is free but why I ask, WHY!?!?!  We mamas have braces, shoes, school, and dolls to pay for by golly.   Shouldn’t something be free from time to time?   So here you go fellow Bitty Baby House Party Hostesses some FREE downloadable printables for your own party!  I know I’ve already emailed several of you the water bottle labels and cupcake toppers but I’ve added a few other goodies for your printing pleasure here!   Just click on any of the links at the very end of this post to download whichever party goodies you would like.  When printing make sure you select “scale to fit (print entire page)” so that none of the design is chopped off.  Some printers may have you select to print at 90% instead of 100%.  Hope that make sense.

image-5To create the place cards, simply cut each one out around the solid black lines and fold at the dotted line.  I used the computer and a snazzy font for our names but you could easily handwrite them if your handwriting isn’t chicken scratch like mine.

photo-11The water bottle labels are pretty self explanatory.  Just cut them out and use tape to secure them.  If you plan to keep them in an ice bucket you may want to laminate the labels or cover them in clear tape to make them waterproof.

image-4You can cut the cupcake toppers out by hand or use a circle shape maker if you have one.  I used to have one purchased at Hobby Lobby but it was M.I.A. so I had to do them the old fashioned way.  Once they’re cut out just tape or glue a toothpick to the back.  If you’re feeling extra ambitious you can make them 2 sided by sandwiching the toothpick in between 2 circles!  I personally think the fact that I created them, cut them, and taped them at all was ambitious enough for me!

image-6To make the Bitty Baby scratch off lotto tickets you’ll need to print 1 copy of the page with the winning ticket and then a couple without.  You also need a small paintbrush, some clear packing tape or wide shipping labels, dishwashing liquid, and silver paint.  Cut your clear tape or clear shipping label to fit the scratch off area and place it over the print.  In a cup or bowl that’s okay to get paint in mix 1/2 dishwashing liquid and 1/2 silver paint (or any color of metallic paint you choose).  Paint over the labels or tape until you can’t see what’s underneath anymore.  Mix a little bit of black in your silver for a darker better coverage if you don’t want to have to do so many coats.  I did and still had to paint on 3 coats!  If you’re using the shipping labels it’ll probably be much easier to paint them before you cut them and stick them on.  It was tough to stay in the lines with the tape.

picstitch-2Once the paint has completely dried (overnight would probably be best but I was dying to try it so waited an hour), cut out the lotto cards and they’ll be ready for your guests!  You can pick anything you want big or small to be your door prize.  I will probably do one of the new Bitty books.  What a fun project!  I will definitely be doing these again!

I also created a party welcome banner to match and invitations too!  You’ll obviously have to add your own party information.  The invitations are formatted to a 5×7 size.

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Check out the new Bitty Baby line for yourself at

http://www.americangirl.com

and don’t forget to check out

http://www.houseparty.com