Posted in Family, parenting

1 year down, 13 more to go

My baby girl, my only child has completed her Pre-K year. I couldn’t be more proud of her.

I know, I know, it’s a little silly when you think about being proud of completing pre-k, right? It’s not like she wrote research papers or received an associate degree while taking high school classes or worked a part-time job and maintained the A Honor Roll, or that she’s off to some Ivy League School. Like what did she really do that I should be so proud? Well, I’ll tell you what she did first and foremost. She blossomed! She blossomed and learned in so many different areas! That’s why I’m proud.

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Just look at those pictures!  Just look at them.

You might not be able to tell, but she grew an inch and gained 5 pounds too!

The little buttercup went from being mostly shy and timid to outgoing and confident. Granted, she still gets a little nervous talking to people, but at least she’s not hiding behind my legs anymore. As much, anyway.  That’s why I’m proud.

Of course she learned lots of academic type of things. She can read several words and a few little books, she has great number sense, and a lot of common sense as well. She tries her best at everything she does and wants to succeed. She is responsible and superb! That’s why I’m proud.

She also did big 5-year-old things this year, like learning to tie her shoes and fix her own hair, which might look a fright most of the time, but she does it herself and her independence and self-confidence is more important in the big scheme of things than a perfect hair-do.  She also decided that she can put herself to bed and sleep alone. But every 4th night, I can still sleep with her. She’s growing up independent and confident. That’s why I’m proud.

She worked so hard in both her dance and gymnastics classes and more importantly had fun doing it. She can swing herself on the swings with just one push to get her started, and cross the monkey bars by herself. She is learning that hard work pays off and  practice does make almost-perfect. She is learning that things may be hard at first, but not to give up, keep on trying and eventually you’ll get there. That’s why I’m proud.

She is good and kind and thoughtful which is the most important aspects I would like her to develop in her years of learning.  I want her to know that it is better to be a friend to someone who needs one, than to fit in with the “in-crowd”. I want her to know that not everything is going to come easy, but she’ll never be disappointed in herself for knowing she gave it her all. She learned more this year of the important stuff than she might learn her entire academic career. Her foundation is laid.

These next 13 years are going to fly by. I know that all too well. It may be that some day she’ll be off to an Ivy League School, or maybe she’ll backpack across Europe. As long as she stays true to herself and discovers happiness in her journeys is my heart’s desire for her. It may seem silly to you that I write these milestones down, but I know my memories won’t always be as clear and I want to remember it all: every little accomplishment, every single stepping stone on her path to wherever she is heading.

She is such a joy, and I am so very proud to call her mine.

 

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Posted in Family, life, Love, parenting

Mother’s Day #5

I’m a bit of a creature of habit. Just a bit. Not too much. Only when I want to be, really. But I do have a little tradition of blogging on certain celebratory occasions. My daughter’s b-day and Mother’s Day are the only 2 I really think of right now. Most of the time, this little blog is a ball of random. When the whim hits. Which hasn’t been hitting much lately.

Sunday past was Mother’s Day. My fifth one.  I’m not sure words can describe motherhood. There have been many people who have tried to put the words down, including myself. I think one of the best I’ve ever read is: #motherhood:

How true.

Motherhood is complete sacrifice, even when you adore pie.
Motherhood is seeing the tiniest, most minuscule, grain-of-sand-sized love God has for us.
Motherhood is a heart that is both broken and full to bursting often at the same time.
Motherhood is worry.
Motherhood is joy.
Motherhood is an exhaustion beyond what you ever thought possible.
Motherhood is sticky fingers and sweet kisses.
Motherhood is a million “I love yous” and a few teenage “I hate yous”.
Motherhood is handmade cards.
Motherhood is lots of laughs and plenty of tears from all parties involved.
Motherhood is eating lots of spaghetti.
Motherhood is late nights and early mornings and feet in your ribs when sleep does come.
Motherhood is thankless mostly, but worth every moment.

This Mother’s Day I was showered with little gifts. Gifts that will be put away in the bin with the other sweet gifts I’ve been given and the ones hopefully to come.

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18447353_10213478050932513_4614352799574924184_nEach moment is a true gift. A treasure to hold. Time passes so quickly. For some, motherhood never happens or sadly ends too soon.

My little daughter came into my life unexpectedly and the emotions I went through were paramount.  We are tight. This girl and I. We have a bond right now that I hope will outlast all the growing pains we still have to endure. The past five years have flown by, and I know the next 13 will zip past. And then she’ll soar on the wings that her dad and I have hopefully helped give her. So for now, I cherish every Eskimo kiss, every hug, every stick figure drawing stuck to the fridge, and even every melt down.

Every beautiful moment of motherhood for the past five years I have tried to store away, either in my memories or in this blog. I have been given such a remarkable little girl and I am so honored to be her mom.

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Posted in Children, Family, life, Love, parenting

A Daughter’s Love

Last night, way past a normal bedtime for a 5 year old, my little EK and I were snuggling in. Saying our prayers and our I love yous. When suddenly she said, “I’m probably going to forget you when I grow up.” Why, I asked. Why would you forget me? She answered because she would be all grown up. I tried to explain to her that girls don’t forget their mothers, while believing this with all my heart, but also hopefully convincing her that she wouldn’t forget me, that she couldn’t forget me. My momma heart felt a moment of fear and heartache at the thought that my time with her was limited, that some day it would end. Which of course it will, but not by forgetting. Never by forgetting.

In my convincing, I tried to explain in the best way I could that I’m all grown up and I haven’t forgotten my mom and even my mom hasn’t forgotten her mom. And I desperately explained how when she was all grown up we would talk on the phone and visit one another if she moved away. That we could text on cell phones and take trips together. My mind was a flurry of all the grown up things we will do. In my vision, I was hanging on to her grown up self by a thread, knowing that it could so easily snap in an instant with her own life, her husband, her family, her busyness.

We were lying on our sides in an embrace, our noses practically touching. She said if she lived next door, I could just come over and visit. That thought gave me some relief. Yes, next door. That sounds wonderful. Then I said what all mom’s say at some time to their sweet preschoolers, yet to become tumultuous, unruly teenagers. “And you don’t ever have to move out, anyway. You can live with me forever.” I’m sure some day I will try to cram these words back down my throat, claiming I’ve never uttered them. But for now, the thought of her leaving, even to live next door is more than I can handle.

Then that sweet girl, with her big brown eyes, and her little mind that works all the time said. “And when you die, I’ll bury you in my front yard, so I can visit you all the time.”

I didn’t even know how to react to this. It is at the same time both very loving and yet bizarrely disturbing. So we said our good nights and our I love yous and I realized once again how immense love is.

 

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.