Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day Twenty-what? And then wait what?

Yes, so, the photo challenge was almost completed. I mean, I'm just a few days short, right? Believe it or not, life is, you know, kind of busy and henceforth some things do not finish at their allotted time, but instead finish a little early ... making excuses making excuses ... hey speaking of things that get finished, check out the latest DIY project in our humble abode!

I saw something similar to this on Pinterest (go figure, shocking, right, I know) and thought, "Hmm, that looks doable", and that thought was preceded with this thought that "Hey my parents are coming to visit and I just know my Dad would love another project to work on since I have no idea what I'm doing but he seems to know his way around a hardware store SCORE!"

It worked out quite well.

I decided that the kids' hallway would be the perfect spot for a chalkboard wall. Even after they outgrow the desire to color all over it, I can still use it for birthdays and holidays and as a place to put reminders, like, Remember To Brush Your Teeth. And Be Home By Midnight. YIKES. Anyway.

Because the wall is textured, my Dad spackled the wall with a wallboard joint compound. Just like it says in that picture right there: Wallboard Joint Compound. This smoothed out the wall to prevent bumpy writing.

There is a closet door next to the section of wall we were using, so we made a line with tape that was even with the height of the doorknob. That way the chalkboard wall would only be on the bottom part of the wall and would look proportionate in the hallway. After the compound dried, I applied two coats of the chalkboard paint.

When the paint dried, my hubby and I adhered a pre-meausured piece of trim to complete it and voila! Our chalkboard wall!

The kids love it. And, sometimes I draw pictures after they've gone to bed and they love waking up to see my (attempt at) handiwork! Plus, it was and will be super handy on special days ... :)

There you have it! The chalkboard wall!

Have a lovely day!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Post Spotlight.

Hey friends! One of my posts has been featured on Blogher. If you haven't read it, mosey on over and scroll down and have a looksie and give me your thoughts.

Have a lovely day, friends!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day Twenty-Six and Day Twenty-Seven.

Y'all. It is MONDAY. Do you know what I mean? It has been THAT KIND OF DAY. 

So these are my photo challenge pictures: "Upside Down" and "Shadow".

Here is my day "upside down":

And here is my day with a convenient black-and-white-thusly-shadow-ish tint:

Here's to Tuesday.

Have a lovely day.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Day Twenty-Five: Water.

Lydia and I celebrated her seven month birthday by running five miles--our new distance record! Where does the "water" come in? Notice my drenched shirt and hair ... as soon as my feet hit the pavement, it started raining and didn't stop through the whole run. I was soaked, the jogger was soaked, but Lydia was nice and dry and snug. The rain was refreshing and I'm sure Lydia enjoyed sleeping through it as much as I enjoyed running in it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Day Twenty-Four: Guilty Pleasure.

A breakfast burrito (no salsa) and a blended bean freeze from my favorite local coffee joint.

Yes. Delicious.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day Twenty-One and Day Twenty-Two.

Day Twenty-One: Family.

 Eating their snack on the telephone table in the entryway. "Naomi, I'm tall!" "Cay-buh, I NOT tall!" 

Day Twenty-Two: The Color: Red.

Talked myself into red skinnies.

Have a lovely day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

School, yo.

A reader recently asked how we came to the decision to put Cub in a pre-3 program this year. The question comes in light of past posts that discuss education options, like homeschooling. I used homeschooling curriculum with Cub when he turned two and I loved it, so now the question comes as to why I chose to not continue in that route.

This is our approach: We take each year one year at a time. If something works one year, it doesn't necessarily mean it will work the next, and our ultimate goal is to continually reassess our options and make sure that our kids' needs are being met in what we feel is the best way possible. Rather than swearing to one type of educational method or another, we're going more with the belief that our kids grow and change and therefore their needs grow and change. Maybe they'll stick with one way and it will work great. What's most important to us is that we are plugged into their education and proactive in their learning.

I never thought that I would put my kids in preschool, especially a pre-3 program. My intention was to keep them home with me until they absolutely had to be in school (if we were not homeschooling), which would be kindergarten. I love having them with me. Then as spring rolled around last year, I began to get a feeling about Cub being in school.

Yes, a feeling. Super scientific, right?

I can't really explain it. I love having Cub home with me. And yet I felt this growing desire for him to have this experience. It was hard for me to recognize that my desire for him to be home and my desire for him to get the opportunity to go to an early preschool program didn't have to conflict with each other. Sending him to school didn't mean I didn't want him home. It meant that I wanted him to have this experience and that I felt that he was ready. Simple as that. There is a private Christian school in our town that offers pre-3 two days a week. For us, the school had to be a Christian school. In these early years especially, we are not comfortable having Cub in a school that does not adhere to Biblical teaching and, thankfully, we have been blessed with the option of sending him to a really great school. After reading the curriculum and having discussions with parents who have sent their kids there, my husband and I felt that this would be the best option for Cub.

We love that he will get to make new friends his age (most of his friends are younger or older). We love that he will be exposed to new kinds of learning. We love the order and constant movement of his day. We love that he will go to chapel. His teacher is kind, assertive, and communicative. Best of all, Cub loves it, too (so far).

Does this mean we'll never homeschool? No. The co-op I would want to join begins taking students after they turn four, so if by next year we feel that this is what we are being called to, we'll start taking steps in that direction. If not, we'll keep him where he is, if he loves it. One year at a time. For now, we're excited about this school year for Cub.

And there you have it!

Have a lovely day.

Day Twenty: Macro. Grandma's Bowl.

This is not a macro (close-up) shot. My macro lens was shattered in a million pieces on accident (what happens when the camera strap is within reach of little hands ...) so this is the best I could do with my zoom. This is the bowl that became mine from my Grandma's estate. My Grandma on my Dad's side was a modern-day Quaker, never wore a spot of make-up, her thick braids were never cut, and the only jewelry to grace her hands were a watch and her wedding band. I found this bowl and it made me laugh because it seemed so audacious compared to my Grandma--the swirly pearlescent molding and the jeweled roses ... and yet, my Grandma was brave and smart, making it a point to receive her education and boarding a plane to fly from Pennsylvania to California to visit us twice a year. So, in some ways, this bold little bowl is, actually, very much like my Grandma. It sits in my hutch and I love the daily reminder of her.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Day Nineteen: The Letter "B".

(My husband snapped this and please pardon the crazy back-lighting--it's foggy this morning!)

The Breakfast Show.

The name I give the fun chaos that starts our day. Feeding the baby, taking the toddler to the potty, making sure the big boy doesn't put his hand in the toaster, unloading the dishwasher and finding the syrup and pouring sippy cups of milk ... all to the sound of folk on Pandora while my pot of coffee brews.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day Eighteen: Landscape.

This is from my phone instead of my camera--the sunrise on my run this morning. Beautiful. I'm sorry the picture is small!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day Seventeen: Makes You Smile.

Pajamas on the trampoline.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day Fifteen: The Sun.

When I finished my run, I turned around and saw the sun rising. Glad it waited until I was finished. :)

Beautiful morning.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day Fourteen: Reflection.

Wearing my MTV sunglasses and staring at the backyard. Because this is what I do every day.

Ha ha.

(Please note my elfin ears that do not fold over. See how they are bumpy? That is the reason I refused to wear my hair in a ponytail in seventh grade. Bumpy elfin ears.)

(Does the reminiscing also count as "reflection"?)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Photo Challenge-ish.

A friend of mine recently did a photo-a-day challenge on Facebook. Her challenge required self-portraits only, but it got me thinking about my poor, neglected blog and my poor, neglected picture-taking and how a photo challenge might be a good way to revive both of them a bit. I found a photo challenge from Barca Designs Photography and jumped on board. Obviously, it's almost the middle of the month, but who says you have to start at the beginning? Eh?

Day One: Where you work.

Cliche as it seems, a lot of my time is spent in the kitchen. The kids gotta eat. Also, you're welcome for not picking up before I took this picture.

Day Two: Color: Blue.

Love my diaper bag.

Day Three: Hands. 
Couldn't get this picture to upload ...? And now it's almost time for bed and I don't want to try again.

Day Four: Lazy.

Sorry, George.

Day Five: Self-Portrait.

Day Six: Food.

My kids' favorite lunch: Fruit, turkey pepperoni, sharp cheddar cheese, crackers.

Day Seven: Handwriting.

Grocery list.

Day Eight: Silhouette. 

 This is technically more of a profile. But oh, I love her so.

 Day Nine: Animal/Pet.

See George above.

Day Ten: Color: Yellow.

The beloved hutch.

Day Eleven: Someone you love.

My boy.

Day Twelve: Black & White.

Family rules in the breakfast nook.

Day Thirteen: Eyes.

My best creepy-eye impression. I hope you are creeped out.

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That Line.

When I opened our local news app on my phone, I winced as I saw yet another story of child abuse that resulted in a baby being hospitalized with all kinds of injuries. When I saw the picture of his Mom, my immediate feeling was anger. The injuries were horrific and it made my blood boil to think of anyone inflicting pain on a child--a baby, really. My mind can't understand it at all.

But when I glanced at her picture again, another feeling joined the angry one: Compassion. Don't get me wrong--child abuse in any shape or form is obviously never okay. But when I looked into her blank eyes, I couldn't help but wonder what brought her to that point. What kind of childhood did she have? Was she ever shown how to love? She was so young, too young, really. Out of what kind of relationship was that baby born?

As a Mom, I couldn't help but feel the conflicted desire to backhand her ... and to hug her, to comfort her.

Because having a baby can be tough. And even the best Moms out there will admit that there have been times when they've simply reached their limit. The baby won't stop crying, which usually happens in the middle of some other kind of stress--husband working late, dinner burning, other kids crying, or worse ... I mean, stress as a Mom can go from zero to ten pretty quickly. I know there have been times when I get that feeling, that tension, creeping up from within me. I know that means I need to put the baby in the crib and wait a few minutes until that feeling goes away. But what makes me choose that rather than to lash out at the screaming infant? I pondered those thoughts as I read that article. What if her stressors were more than just momentary--what if she lived amidst abuse? When we reach that point, what makes some of us back away from the line, while others of us cross it?

Faith is my saving grace. Being a Christian doesn't remove me from making mistakes, it changes my view of life and consequence. I know I was fearfully and wonderfully made, I know my Savior loves me, and therefore I know those things are true for my kids, too. I know God hears my prayers and He answers them. I know that when that baby is crying, I am not alone. It's an unshakable peace. It doesn't keep the stress from coming, but it helps me respond to it, rather than react. I can take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, and see the bigger picture. Had anyone shared the Truth with this girl? Most importantly, was faith modeled well in her life, or was it modeled poorly?

Also, my life is brimming with godly women who are really great Moms. I learn from them. I am constantly questioning them and picking their brains. I am always learning as a Mom how to try and be a better Mom. I am always engaged. Therefore my perspective is constantly fresh. And my support system is unwavering. I have four women, no, wait, five...six? I can call at any time who will jump to my aid, even if it's just listening to me sort things out. I wonder, did this girl have anyone to call? I know there are helplines and hotlines and I know she had options. But did she have a constant person, in her life, on whom she could lean?

All this to say, I had a good childhood. I have a good life. I have good friends. I have strong faith.

And I still feel at times that I reach "that point".

And I'm grateful that I was shown how to flee from it.

Because all it takes is one instance to snap, to make a move you can never take back. That young woman had a choice and she made the wrong one. She should pay the consequences and she will pay, for the rest of her life--she has altered the life of her child. But will she ever be taught how to do it differently? The right answer seems obvious to me, in my protected little world. If her world is chaotic, perhaps the answer is a little more blurry.

My heart breaks for that baby.

And, in its anger, it hurts for his Mama.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Art of Negotiation.

I'm staring at the computer, sucking down my breakfast smoothie, thinking that I should have something really brilliant to share here. My posts have been random, at best, and I knew that they would be during this phase of life. The fact that I'm even sitting here at all is thanks to Super Why. Also, I have some laundry started, and phew, pressing that START button is TOUGH WORK, so I'm taking a break.

It's a tricky business when your three coworkers are three and under. When sometimes you go through an entire day without conversing with an adult, up to your armpits in diapers and legos and blankets, hidden in what can feel like a black hole of existence while the world around you meanders by, possibly unaware that you exist at all.

Yes, being a SAHM can totally feel like that.

It's in the interlude of words with my three year old that I often catch myself negotiating or discussing certain actions or consequences before realizing that, oh my goodness, I'm totally discussing actions and consequences with my three year old. Cub's an articulate kid. He uses words like "suspension bridge" and "loquacious" and they sound clean as a whistle (okay maybe not "loquacious", but actually "suspension bridge"). Unfortunately, it's easy to misunderstand that verbosity for maturity, when, in fact, the negotiating party came into this earth only three years ago and only has the ability to process like a toddler. A TODDLER. And yet I catch myself in a game of words, conversing with him as though he were my equal. Example:

Cub: Mama, I want a snack.

Me: You may not have a snack, it's almost time for dinner.

Cub: But I really, really, want a snack. Just a small snack. I will eat it in my room quietly.

Me: It doesn't matter if you eat it in your room quietly, it's still a snack and dinner is still happening soon.

Cub: But if I take just a little snack, just an itty-bitty piece, then it will be okay if I have a snack.

Me: I really don't want you to have a snack because it's almost dinner time.

Cub: I know it's almost dinner time, but I think it would be okay if I just had a small snack.

Me: Whether the snack is big or small doesn't matter, what matters is that I'm making dinner YADDA YADDA YA.

How the conversation should go:

Cub: Mama, I want a snack.

Me: You may not have a snack, it's almost time for dinner.

Cub: But I really, really, want a snack. Just a small snack, I will eat it in my room quietly.

Me: I said no and you may not question me. You may play for ten more minutes, and then it is time for dinner.

Huh. That's easy enough. Don't get me wrong--I think the older our kids get, the more we should be willing to allow them to express themselves. But at this age, Cub just needs to know that my yes means yes and my no means no. And providing him with a way out--you may not have a snack, but here is something else you may do. Regardless if he's being extra good or extra sweet or if he even has a point while negotiating! He's three, not ten. He can negotiate when he's able to do long division. Until then, I set the rules and he gets to follow them.

I know that I place responsibility on Cub because he's the oldest. And he handles it well! But I can forget that he's still young and it is still my primary responsibility to train him. To continually teach him the importance of respecting authority and giving him opportunities to practice. And really, his behavior and demeanor are noticeably better when rules are enforced and boundaries are in place. He knows the space in which he can live and act and he feels safe there.

Ahh-the laundry just buzzed. Gotta run. My random parenting thoughts for the day!

Have a lovely day.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Oklahoma Sunrise.

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