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 parenting, Pregnancy

What this day means to me

The calendar hanging on the wall reads May 20. But I don’t need the calendar to remind me. I’ve actually been thinking about this day all month. I’ve been thinking of this month all year. I couldn’t let this day slip past without an acknowledgment, because this day is pretty significant to me.

Today is the due date of my second child.
I have no crib set up.
There is no freshly painted nursery.
No hospital bag is packed and waiting by the door.
There is only a what if and a why.
There is only my thoughts of how different my life would be right now… if only.

I think of her a lot. I call her Ivy Quinn. I don’t know that she was a girl, she didn’t make it long enough to find out, but I have a hunch.

Physically, she was only a part of me for a few weeks, but she will be a part of me until I take my last breath. She was mine regardless.  Her life ended, but mine continues. Her heart stopped beating, but mine beats on–even with a hole in it.

There is pain. There is heartache. There is something missing that was to be.  Then suddenly wasn’t to be.

I never felt her kick or held her in my arms, but I hold her in my heart and I always will.

I wash dishes in a sink full of suds, but there is no baby bottle to rinse. I fold clothes and stack them in piles on the couch, but they are absent of tiny gowns.

I can’t help but feel guilty. All the ‘ifs’ haunt me. If I had only wanted her more? If my initial reaction hadn’t been one of inconvenience? Would it have made a difference. If only she had known how very much she would have been loved? If I hadn’t been so overcome with doubt, worry, and fear? Would it have mattered. If I had felt more excitement? If I had told more people?

We had a photo taken. It was clever and cute and we were going to announce it when the time was right. I hung it in our bedroom. We told our little Emma. She was so excited. Then I had to tell her the hardest thing I’ve had to tell her yet. She was quiet and then she said maybe the baby will come back later. Then nothing else was said. Ever. I put the photo away in a drawer.
Out of sight, but not out of mind.
Especially today.
On May 20.
The due date of my second child.

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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, 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

All About EK

I’ve got two reasons for this post.

1) my kid is darling

2) I occasionally run into ‘online’ friends  face to face who say they miss seeing my kid on Facebook.

Okay three reasons

3) I need to document the cute, funny, wise, serious things she says and does, and the baby book isn’t cutting it.

 

So for starters, here’s a pic or two.

She wants to be Snow White for Halloween.  Her costume came in and of course I let her try it on.

The problem is, I’m not sure if I snapped a picture of Snow White or Elvis.

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I love this picture of her.  Even though her eyes are closed.  Even though she’s itching her cheek and her dress is dirty.  Even though my thumb is in the picture and I didn’t have enough sense to crop it before I posted it.  I still love this picture.   This is beside our house in a “field” of wildflowers.  But we call it the Bear Forest.

 

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She has so many funny things that she says.  People tell me I won’t remember and heck, I know that’s true.

This week, I took a piece of paper and pen and decided to write down some of the stuff  she says.   Some of these, I’ll have to set the scene, and it may be they turn out to be a “you had to be there” moment.  But I was, so trust me, it was cute when it happened.  Or I wouldn’t have written it down.

 

Scene 1:

She loves to play with my phone and I’m one of those moms that let her.  She calls people, texts people, and I’m sure annoys the crap out of people.  She will blow up your phone with emojis.  String after string of them.

After sending a text, she said, “I sent daddy a text.  He got it in his pocket.”

 

Scene 2:

She’s a thinker.  Always trying to put things in their proper category.

“Why did an old lady live in a shoe?  She’s supposed to live in a house!”

 

Scene 3:

We had some friends come and visit for a couple of days and they happened to have some movies with them.  One of them was Beauty and the Beast.  EK had never seen it, but she knows all about the princesses, I can assure you.  We watched that movie and of course when they left, they took it with them.  The other day (months later) she was sitting on the potty….

Her:  I wish I had the Belle movie.
Me:  Maybe you can get it for Christmas.  Maybe you could ask Santa Claus for it?
Her:  Maybe Santa will go grab that movie from Suzanne.

 

Scene 4:

Don’t forget we have a teenager in the house, and with that comes that horrid teenage music.  Actually, there’s one song I kind of like.  It’s catchy, even though not really appropriate.   EK has heard it enough to be caught singing……

“I’m on the bass, on the bass. No trouble” (google it if you don’t know)

 

Scene 5:

Speaking of singing,

“What are little girls made of?
Spice and onions and sugar”

 

I’d say that’s right.

 

 

 

Posted in Children, Family, Uncategorized

The Joy of Childhood

She just turned 26 months old.  I know I’m not supposed to do that anymore, you know, count her months.  But I’m just going to make my own rules up as I go.  Time is too precious to just cast it aside and not see every moment for the treasure that it is.

Guess what we did today?

We built a snowman.  Not a real snowman of course.   It’s actually a blustery, warm spring day, not a flake in sight,  but it was her first day to watch the movie Frozen.  Afterwards, she asked if I wanted to build a snowman with her.  “Come on,” she said patting her thigh as if calling a dog,  so of course I did.

She is such a joy.  So smart.  She pretends and plays make-believe all day long.  One minute she’s Cinderella, forcibly kicking off her plastic dress up shoe and saying she better get in her carriage while running to sit in her pink Barbie Jeep, and the next minute she is pouring tea for me and adding spoonfuls of sugar.  She goes on Bear Hunts and squelch-squearches through the mud and peels pinecones apart declaring they are surprise eggs and wonders what’s inside.

We built our snowman today with a carrot nose made from a blue piece of wire found in the yard and two eyes and arms she stuck in the ground.

Her shoes were on the wrong feet, chocolate smudged her lips.

Her dog-ears had long since lost their snugness and flopped haphazardly.

She searched for crickets and got scared by something and ran to my side.

I lay in the grass just watching her and feeling filled to the measure with happiness and joy that she is mine.

Our days are filled with magical make-believe, chocolate kisses and snowmen fashioned from dirt.

It’s been a very long time since my own childhood, but I can vividly remember the games I played with my own imagination.  How magical my world of pretend was.

Watching EK grow and play in this same make-believe way takes me to a place I used to know.  It reawakens a child I used to be.  I remember care-free days where nothing really mattered.

And now all that truly matters is that this little dog-eared 2-year-old (ahem……26 month old) who brings me such joy.

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