Posted in Children, Family, parenting

A Letter To My Daughter On Her 5th Birthday

img_3166I can’t help but wonder if all mothers cry when their baby turns five years old? As soon as my eyes opened, I began to think of you. Not that that’s anything new. You are always the first thought to cross my mind. And as a sidenote, you will always be the first thought to cross my mind, no matter how old you are, no matter how far from me you travel.  I think Willie Nelson sang a song along those same lines.

I couldn’t stop the tears this morning. And all through the day, I’ve fought to keep them at bay.

Five years. Five beautiful, wonderful years. They have been the most precious, most blessed times of my life. And that is saying quite a lot, sweet Emma Kate, because my life has been pretty marvelous. But when you entered the world, it went to a brand new level.

I don’t know the answers to all life’s questions. I certainly don’t know much at all. But I know that you have allowed me and taught me to love in a way that never seemed possible. Sure, we have our ups and downs. Life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, but when you step back and look at the big picture, there’s definitely more ups than downs and more cherries than pits in our bowl.

You are such a good kid. You are so smart. I have written to you for the first 12 months of your life, and then every year after that. Someday, I will print these out for you to keep and reflect back on. Reading back through, you will know how absolutely, infinitely loved and adored you are.

You have a great memory. You love to play a game with you daddy and I, especially on car rides, called “Remember when…..”. You usually start and say, “remember when we…” and you’ll fill in the blank. Then we all take turns giving our own remember whens. Sometimes, we all remember, and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes, I’m purely amazed at the things you remember from long, long ago. It’s also kind of sad when you don’t remember something that was pretty epic, so that’s one reason I write it down.

Because one day, my little lovebird, all you will be left with will be your memories. I want you to have good ones. Me and your dad are trying our hardest to give you an amazing childhood, but at the same time, being careful not to turn you into a brat. It’s a thin line to cross. Because sometimes giving your child everything is not the best, and someday you’ll understand that. It’s not about all the “things and stuff” in life, not the newest and greets, because those things always turn not so new, and not so great.

It’s about the “remember whens”. It’s about playing hide and go seek in the dark. It’s about birthday parties with family and friends, and adventures in the woods building forts, and hiking trails, and picking wildflowers. It’s about making play dough and playing dolls. It’s about lying in the yard and looking at the shapes in the clouds, or the stars at night. It’s about snuggles at bedtime and rocking chair time every morning with a blanket and chocolate milk and a warm,drowsy head on my chest. It’s about fishing at the lake, and swimming in a horse trough. It’s about dance parties through the house when our favorite song comes on, and sharing books together. It’s all the “remember when’s” that are too many to list.

It’s all about the time we’ve shared and the memories we’ve made.

You are growing into a great young girl. You are no longer an infant, no longer a baby, no longer a toddler, and pretty soon, you’ll no longer be a preschooler. You have learned so much. Most of your days are spent at St. Matthew’s where you’ve already learned to read 100 sight words. You are my little reader, but I always knew you would be. You understand numbers and how to put them together and take them apart. You also have a whole lot of dang common sense. You are practically perfect in every way. Much like Mary Poppins, huh?

Thank you Emma Kate for these last 5 years. They have been beyond my wildest imagination. I am so happy you’re mine. Someone posted on Facebook about you, that “God said ta-da”, and I think that sums it up perfectly. I love you oodles and gobs, and more, and more, and more.

Happy Birthday, my baby.

XOXO,

Mommy

 

Posted in Children, Family, life, Uncategorized

4 year old My Little Pony/Rainbow Party

Okay, here we go. I must start this blog with a disclaimer.

  1. There are bloggers who make money blogging. I’m not one of them (although that’d be swell).
  2. There are bloggers who have perfect pictures of projects that people pin on Pinterest. I’m not one of them. I don’t even know how to put a P on my pictures so that people could pin them on Pinterest (although that’d be swell).
  3. I’m just a mom, who happens to blog, who is trying to celebrate my kid’s birthday in a fun way using ideas from Pinterest that I’ve stolen from other people who make money with their blogs.
  4. You will not find anything original here. Or anything perfect. You might even see messy. Or real. And that’s my life. Judge not (that’d be swell).

So my little daughter EK turned 4 and she requested a My Little Pony party. My town (consisting of Walmart and 14 dollar stores) had absolutely nothing in the way of My Little Pony party supplies. So we stole the idea of using Rainbow Dash pony as our Lead Horse and combining rainbows with My Little Ponies, but mostly just rainbows. When I say we, I mean me. Because rainbow parties are cool. Rainbows are cool. She’s 4. And if I put a few ponies out and about on the tables, that’d work, right? (Secret: I don’t even think I had a Rainbow Dash pony out anywhere!)

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Parties can get a bit out of hand these days. It seems like  moms keep pushing the envelope. How big can they possibly get?  I really really really really strive to have a simple party. But then suddenly it gets bigger and bigger and bigger. And then I look around and I’ve got ponies and rainbows and icing up to my elbows. And you know what else? I don’t even like parties! But I will tell you, that when my little girl walked into the room and saw the decorations, her little face lit up. She jumped up and down clapping. Ran over and hugged me around the legs. She kept saying how excited she was and it was right there in that moment, I realized that I may not like parties but my little girl will only turn 4 once and even if no one else came to help us celebrate, we will celebrate. It is her life.  The day she came into our world and changed it forever. She is worth celebrating! The party may not have been picture perfect, but we had a great time and here it is.
I didn’t have time to get a great invitation together because at almost the last-minute, something came up and we had to move the party up a weekend. So I just did what we did in the “olden days” and bought invitations at one of the 14 dollar stores in town and handwrote the Who, What, When, and Where on the blanks ha!

Decorations:

Doing a rainbow theme is easy when it comes to decorations, because you can find the colors of the rainbow anywhere and everywhere. The backdrop in the following picture is made out of plastic tablecloths that are hung in the colors of the rainbow and the poufs and balloons are supposed to be clouds. I used some old banner and tablecloths from her 2nd birthday Sesame Street themed party and added them to save money.

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Food

Because our party was from 4-6, we served some hotdogs and chips. I also threw together a veggie platter, trying my derndest to use the colors of the rainbow, but really other than orange bell peppers and eggplant, some veggies just don’t come in the colors of the rainbow. Also a fruit platter, that when you look real closely may, in just the right light, maybe with one eye shut and your head tilted at a 30 degree angle, might look like a rainbow with some marshmallow clouds.

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Our cake was a 5 layer rainbow cake following the colors of the rainbow. At first, I was going to make the batter and use food coloring to color different batches of dough, but at the store, I found already colored pouches of cake mix. It was still a booger to make (lots of dirty dishes) and cutting it was a chore, but it turned out fun. We added skittles to the outside for a little extra rainbow flair. J-Dub of course helped me with the cake as I was about in a near tizzy when it came to icing it and a full-blown tizzy at cutting that tall sucker. It started to look like the leaning tower of Piza. It was taking both of us to try to hold it up and cut it without making a total mess. I can’t say we succeeded on not making a total mess. It’s just a good thing kids don’t care!

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For fun, we dipped some Oreos in white chocolate and sprinkled them with rainbow sprinkles. EK really enjoyed helping with this. Now, this isn’t as easy as it looks, there’s a couple of tricks to getting the stick to stay put without breaking the Oreo into fragments.  You get to eat a lot of broken Oreos while you’re doing this! Well, you do if you’re me.

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I baked a few cupcakes and since there wasn’t too much chocolate and I personally prefer chocolate, I put some chocolate icing on these which turned our reminding me a little bit of hot mess of dog poop sitting on top of a cupcake, but if anybody else thought so, at least they didn’t say anything. Again, kids don’t care.

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Activities/Games

I always worry about the activities and games. I think it’s the school teacher in me. I have learned from a schoolroom full of kids that when their time isn’t filled with  structured activities, they will find a way to fill it, and it may not be what you want them to do. So I always overplan on this part and they usually  just end up playing their own games instead of mine. Maybe one day I’ll learn to relax and trust the process a little.

It  worked out that since we lived in the country and EK’s daddy had a horse available, we were able to offer pony rides to go along with the theme of My Little Pony. We also asked a friend from church to come out and give each child their own “cutie mark” with face paint. EK wanted a piñata, and so a few kids got in on that, but we were running almost out of time and many guests left before this. Unfortunately, during all the hustle and bustle, I wasn’t able to get  pictures of any of these activities.

I had also bought a little photo booth kit, you know one of those funny faces photo booths? I thought the kids would love this, but they didn’t. I practically had to drag kids into it to participate. For this age of guests, I think I should have put up a mirror near it, so they could at least see what the looked like before the picture was snapped. I did have a few willing participants. That’s EK in the cat eye glasses and a few of her cute friends.

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Emma had a lot of fun with her friends and family and it turned out to be a great time. As soon as it was over, she said “I can’t wait to turn five!” She’s already planning her next birthday! Thankfully I have a year to rest!

Posted in Children, Family, parenting

A Letter to EK on her 4th Birthday

imageMy Dearest Emma Kate,

Happy Birthday dear one! Goodness. I just can’t believe it. My heart overflows with love and gratitude for the absolute blessing you are in all of our lives. My words are truly inadequate to express my feelings and emotions. As I sit here, I try to think of what to say to you—and about you, and there’s not enough paper in all the world to sum up the little soul that you are.

You are good.
You are smart.
You are tender.
You are stubborn.
You are independent.
You are a bit melodramatic, and I honestly don’t have a clue how to deal with that.
You are a deep thinker.

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Sometimes you’re even silly.

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You are sensible, logical, and reasonable beyond your years. I seriously believe at age 4 you have more common sense than most grown-ups.

Your mind is an astonishing part of you. I know a lot of moms worry about their kids and the choices and impulses they act on, but I really don’t worry too much about you because you are so level headed and you make the right decisions  even as a small child. You are the one telling the older ones what they need to be doing and not doing. You are the one keeping people in line and listening to instructions. Dear One, please always listen to others who lead you in the path of righteousness and not astray. Do not get caught up in this world and its enticements. Proverbs 1:8 says “Listen, my son (daughter), to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.” Be wise always Emma Kate. And know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. You, my dear child, have the ability and the capability to do anything in this world, and I mean ANYTHING you put your mind and heart to, so please carry wisdom and discernment with you while you chase your dreams in this world.image

 

I know you will make a difference. I know that because you already have. You have made a difference in my life. You have taught me to be better. You have shown me what is important and what is just fluff in this life. There have been days you alone have been my reason for being. My reason to wake, to rise, to live. I know that I am an example to you in all I say and do. Please know that I’m doing the absolute best I can.

 

 

This year has been one of transition for us. You and I have gone from spending every single waking moment of every single day together to learning how to be apart. You have become a school girl now and I have returned to being a working mama. Most of our days are spent in separate places, but let me tell you what we share.

Every morning you wake up after me. I usually have already gotten most of my stuff together so that I can pour you a cup of milk. You sit in my lap in the recliner and drink your milk and we have several minutes together to just snuggle. Your milk always makes you cold, so I wrap you in a blanket and hold you. You lay your head on my shoulder and we rock. We talk about the day and the events to come. You have a solid grasp on the days of the week and your schedule. You know that Friday is our day together and you usually can tell me how many more days until we don’t have to set an alarm.

Every evening, you and I still have story time. Two books. This is some of my favorite time with you and always has been. Gosh, we’ve read a thousand books together probably. You are already beginning to read and make sense of letters, sounds, words. We read our books and sometimes you laugh and sometimes you even cry. You are so tender and empathetic to the sweet characters. Like in the Library Lion when he isn’t allowed to come back to the Library because he broke a rule or in City Dog, Country Frog when the Frog is no longer there to meet his friend, you rub the tears away from your beautiful brown eyes and say “This part makes me sad”. After stories we pray, we sing, I rub your back or face until you sleep. Sometimes I’m grumpy and angry because I’m so tired and you are flopping around like a fish and won’t sleep. Of course I never did follow the parenting advice for getting your child to sleep so this is our routine. This is what works for us. And you know what, it’s okay. Because you’re only four and as I look back on the past four years, it has absolutely flown by and I wouldn’t trade those times I’ve spent with you in the quiet darkness as the day is ending for anything else in this world. This time is fleeting and no parenting book in the world will make me regret the moments we’ve snuggled.

 

You love to play dolls, princesses, and Barbies. You still play imagination and good vs. evil. Good wins. Always.  Remember that.

You are watching entirely too much TV these days and are being totally brain washed by commercials! I’ve already had to have a little mini-lesson on advertisements and their schemes with you because you think we need to buy every item on the commercials, that Lysol kills the most germs, and that we need to send money to help poor kids get more books and save elephants from being poached for their ivory. Oh your sweet heart. Bless you my dear. I hope you are always so touched by life.

This morning your daddy and I woke you with a happy birthday song. You got to wear your new Birthday Girl t-shirt to school and took some cupcakes to share with your friends. Tonight we’ll celebrate with a presents, cupcakes, and a meal out. You’ve requested McDonalds (big surprise) and you want a sausage biscuit. I think that is pretty doable.

I love you Emma. You are more than I could ever imagine. Just always be you. You–complete in your perfect, imperfect self. Because there is nothing more you ever need to be. You are loved. You are loved. You are loved. Especially by your mama!

XOXO,

Mama

Posted in Children, Family, life

Responsibility/Chore/To-do Charts for Preschoolers–A Pinterest WIN

 

It seems I have a love/hate relationship with Pinterest. Anyone else?

I love all the “stuff” it offers, the great ideas, the pictures of beautiful places, the words of wisdom it imparts. Like this one:
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One of my favorites.

But I hate all the other”stuff” about it. The pressure it exerts to be the perfect, cutesy mom and do all the perfect, cutesy crafts; the outfits that look adorable and amazing on the model but will never look like that on me; the guilt I feel because it sucks my life right into it’s Pinteresty little claws and leaves me wondering where my day has gone and if I’ve fed my kid.

But today I’m feeling the love kind of day for Pinterest.

Today I have an Ode to Pinterest. A very short Ode.

(clears throat)
Pinterest, oh Pinterest,  how I adore thee
After 973 failed experiments
,
One finally worked
Yippee!

I attempted a chore chart for my pre-schooler.  Technically a chore chart, but casually called a to-do list because that really sounds so much more grown up.

You see my biggest fear, my greatest ambition, my strongest drive as a mom is simply not to screw my kid up. That’s all I want. Really. I just want her to grow to be a well-adjusted, responsible, kind human “bean” that does a little bit of good in this world and casts a little light in a dark place. Is that too much to ask?

I’m trying my hardest to keep her from being an ingrate. An entitled, rude, spoiled rotten brat. Uh…it’s not really going so good some days.

It seems simple doesn’t it?  Give her lots of love, boost her self-esteem, teach her manners and responsibility, don’t spoil her. Blah, blah, blah. I’ve read all the articles.

On Pinterest.

But it’s so much harder than that. Because this little human that I’m trying so desperately not to screw up, has a mind and a will of her own. And because there comes a time that your smart little girl who you’ve praised her entire life for being so smart turns into a little argumentative know-it-all in pigtails because she really believes she KNOWS IT ALL. And whose fault is that?  (All heads turn toward me).

Just trying to build her up and not tear her down and what have I created?

So that’s when I have to take a deep breath and just keep on keeping on.

Side note: to all you parents of teenagers out there—-I really don’t need to hear the “oh you just wait. These are the easy years. It only gets harder” crap. That’s not exactly words of encouragement, in case you didn’t know.

Now onto the chore chart/to-do list.
I stumbled across it on Pinterest and thought I’d give it a try.  Today was our first day with it and it worked beautifully! It was almost a game. A wonderful thing I tell ya.

Responsibility Chart/To-Do for Preschoolers
Responsibility Chart/To-Do for Preschoolers

I used this person’s idea

but instead of using a clipboard, I used a cutting mat because it’s what was here at the moment I got this wild hair.

I found the picture cards here
http://www.homeschoolcreations.net/2015/03/preschool-chore-charts-2/

These are awesome and have lots and lots of options for all age kids.

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We went through looking and reading all the pictures and then I put four on her chart (not the four in the picture because I decided to take a pic after the fact and those just happened to be the four I grabbed.

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She carried her chart around with her keeping track of her to-do’s (wished I’d gotten a picture of that), moving them to the DONE column as she finished. She was so proud. We added four more and she worked so hard to complete those too.

It was so fun, I think I’ll make myself one and I’m not even kidding. There’s just something about seeing those colored pictures and moving them to the DONE side that’s better than crossing out a to-do list, and I do despise a to-do list.

The most fun was the “pick up 25 things card”.  There are always things out of place around here. Hair ties. Markers. Books. We made it a little race to see who could get 25 things put away first.

I used velcro for our chart, and the velcro kept peeling off the laminated cards so I’ll probably have to add a little super glue. I think using magnets on a cookie sheet would also work really well.

I’m going to adjust ours and use it three times a day. Once for her morning routine, once for her chores, and once for her bedtime routine.

Hopefully the eagerness on her part will continue and the consistency on my part will as well. Let me know if you try this, how it works out.

 

 

 

Posted in Children, Family, life, Love

When Motherhood Becomes a Battle…….the Side I Choose


We danced in the rain, arms outstretched, face upwards.

We water-colored and crayon colored.

We cooked and sang.

We kicked a soccer ball and practiced writing the letter S.

We read books and looked for hidden objects in the pictures.

There are a million things my mind tells me I should be doing. Like packing to move 400? miles away. And cleaning the house. And fulfilling commitments that I promised I would do. I should be doing laundry and keeping a more daily skin regimen and I should not be eating icing from the can with a spoon.

I sneak in my “Me” moments, (which are not “Me” moments at all, but just the stuff you have to do to keep life running) at times when I can. I try so hard to balance the attention I give her with the other things that need my attention. Am I harming her more than helping, I can’t help but wonder. Will she turn into one of those entitled, selfish brats that I read so many articles about because of my “overparenting”?

Those are the things my mind tells me. And my heart tells me that sticky fingers do indeed wash and wearing the same jeans two days in a row is not the end of the world. That knowing she is loved and cared for is truly more important, isn’t it?  Isn’t it the most important? My heart tells me this time with my daughter is short; shorter than I realize. I have friends posting graduation pictures of their children on social media, and I count the years remaining. Fifteen. I actually count those years more often than I should. Fifteen years until I can have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband. Fifteen years until I can sleep late again. Fifteen years until I can go to the bathroom without someone barging in. Actually, I have way less than fifteen, I know.

Motherhood is such a battle at times. Your heart battles your mind. Your shoulds battle your should nots. Your selfishness battles your self-sacrifice.

Some days I wish it were easier. I wish that I could be assured that everything I’m doing is right and good and that this little person is going to grow up with fond memories of family and fun and me. That she will possess responsibility, integrity, morals, and high standards. That she will grow up self-sufficient and independent, yet never act arrogant nor pretentious. That she will grow up and know love, and be able to show love to others. I choose to give her my time and my attention. I choose to help her know she is important and she matters. Only time will tell if I’m doing it all wrong.

We picked a fluffy dandelion and she asked me what I wish for. I looked into her deep brown eyes and said I already have everything I could ever need. I wish for her wishes to come true. She looked around the yard and saw her purple chair and said she wishes for a purple chair.

Perhaps we both already have everything we need.

That’s what I hope.
Visit Angel’s profile on Pinterest.

Posted in Children, Family, Love

Look Who’s Three!

My dearest Emma Kate,

Last night you went to bed as a two-year old and today you woke as a  three-year old!  But not technically.  You actually have until 2:47 this afternoon until you can officially say you’re three.  You are the absolute most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me.  I love you so much.

You are smart, beautiful, and funny.  I am easily entertained by your antics, whether it is the funny things you say or the silly eyes you make, you always can make me smile.

You enjoy coloring and painting.  Of course you love your books as you always have, and your cat Rocky Muffin.  You are super smart, knowing and recognizing all your letters and your numbers to ten.  You have begun to know how to make the letter E, and then you just scribble some m’s like mountain tops and a dot for the A.  You love all things princess related and we celebrated this past Saturday by having a Princess dress up party.  Three of your friends joined us and we had the best time.  Everyone had at least one wardrobe change.  We played Hide the Slipper and Pin the Kiss on the Frog.   Then we decorated foam crowns to wear.   I had a lot of fun making you a cupcake princess dress and seeing your sweet face full of excitement.  You were so good and well-behaved and truly acted like a princess should.

The funniest part of the story is that you are convinced since we already had a birthday party that today you are four years old. You insist that, “I’ve already been three!”  You are trying to convince me to have a farm party for your fourth birthday.  I hate to break it to you, but birthdays only come once a year.  You need to not rush things anymore than they already are.  It seems like yesterday that you were that bright-eyed, alert newborn baby.

You will always be my baby, no matter how old you get.  I thank God for you everyday and for the time I have to spend with you watching you grow.  You are my blessing, one I am ever grateful for.

I love you so much my sweets.

Happy Birthday!

XOXO,

Mommy

The birthday girl
The birthday girl
All About EK
All About EK



Now THAT's how you decorate a cupcake.
Now THAT’s how you decorate a cupcake.
Showing how old you are.
Showing how old you are.
princessess and friends
princessess and friends
a dress of cupcakes
a dress of cupcakes
mommy and her little princess.  I love this picture of us.
Mommy and her favorite princess. I love this picture of us.