Thursday, June 28, 2007

Community

For those of you who don't know, I host a small group for moms with young children. Every Thursday morning, we all get together, bring our kids, and hang out. The kids play and we supervise and even get to chat some. It has been my sanity some weeks.

Actually, I first started it when I read the book Lifegiving. I stumbled across it at the library one day, and was very inspired by the portrayal of Godly hospitality in the book. I had just found out I was pregnant with Audrey, and Hannah was still under a year old, but I was compelled by the idea that I should be opening my home to other women. We were living in a 700 square foot home with hand me down furniture (still have lots of that!), I was newly pregnant with a young baby already, and I was feeling very insecure and sorry for myself. "Why would they want to come here, Lord? Many of them come from nice homes and they have it all together, and they have their own friendships." I complained a lot, but I couldn't get rid of the feeling. Finally, I started the small group out of obedience. I had never really felt "good" at hospitality. I didn't think I had anything to offer anybody, but I wanted to be obedient.

That was a year and a half ago now. This morning there were five of us. It has never really grown any bigger, but neither has my living room! We had a great time looking at each others' wedding pictures and laughing at the funny things our kids did. I'm so glad I obeyed.

What I really want from that group, is the old sense of community, of shared life. Growing up, my parents had friends they had grown up with. I remember BBQ's and pool parties and craft days with fondness. Colorado is a place most people "transplanted" to. There are few real natives around. So, there are few people with deep ties to...anybody. That's not the way we're supposed to do Christianity, or life as Christians. There's no way to succeed that way. We need interdependence. If we don't have it, we need to create it.

I want to have and be the kind of friends who can show up on your doorstep and you'll be glad to see them, whether the kitchen is clean or you have makeup on, or the kids are dressed...or not. Do people still have friends like that? I wonder sometimes..

Restaurant Survey

I've been tagged!

Here's the rules:
1. Name and link to the person who tagged you.
2. Name the state and country where you reside.
3. Name your five favorite local restaurants.
4. Tag others.

Kyla,
I get SO bored with the places we eat out! We have to have gluten-free choices, of course, and it has to be at least relatively cheap, plus, we are lazy here and don't like to drive more than a few minutes to go eat. On top of this, I find the thing I like and order the same thing every time we go somewhere. You locals, please, rescue me from restaurant boredom!

1. Cracker Barrel. This is comfort food. I get grilled chicken tenderloins and carrots, green beans and sweet potato casserole (that last one they only have on Thursdays). They have a wood-burning fireplace in the restaurant, and it is a nice place to go when it's 20 degrees and snowy outside. They also have this chocolate Coke cake in the winter that is to die for.

2. Qdoba. Not as spicy as Chipotle or Baja Fresh, but same idea. I usually get a naked (no tortilla) chicken burrito with mango salsa, guacamole, and lettuce. Hannah loves to eat a bowl of chicken, black beans, and rice. Easy!

3. Whole Foods Market. Yes, it's a grocery store, but ours has a hot food area. It's nice because Nick can eat pizza if he wants (good pizza, too) and we can get Hannah rotisserie chicken and brown rice, and I can have chicken salad or BBQ beef, or whatever looks good that day. They have a nice heated outdoor patio area where nobody cares if our kids yell a little.

4. P.F. Chang's. Yay for Asian with brown rice and no MSG. My mom and sister and I had lunch there last week and sat outside on their patio in the sunshine. It was wonderful. I get lemon chicken. Banana Spring Rolls for dessert. Yummy.

5.Ted's Montana Grill. A little old-timey, with wood floors and dark booths. Fun date place because it's quiet and private. They serve bison as well as beef, and it's really good. Especially their pot roast. I get pot roast sometimes (it's on the expensive side) or usually grilled chicken with avocado and a fried egg on top, and a sweet potato.

I wish there were more locally owned restaurants on this end of town. There probably will be in the next few years.

I tag (I say doing this in a comment is fair):
Saraw
TC
Flo
Liz T
Anybody else who wants to, chime in!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Secrets

I have recently found some answers to the questions I've been asking for the past several months. My questions about God, about staying home with my kids, about contentedness... The wrestling has paid off. I don't want to sound trite, so I've been hesitant to write about these things. Also the thought that I could share my heart and you, my reader, might find it boring, makes me keep some things to myself. Thus, the title of this entry. However, I love to pass on things I have learned, in the hope it might help somebody else. If I get to the root of the matter, that's probably what motivates this blog the most. So, here are some thoughts.

-I am getting up early to read my Bible and talk with God.If you know me at all, you know this getting up early is completely new for me. And yet it has changed my entire attitude during the day. If you don't already do this, please try it. I have found nothing else that changes the direction of our days and the tone in our home like this. There is no schedule, no organization, no book to read that can substitute for a living relationship with God. The difference between stumbling to the girls' room half asleep when they wake up, and meeting them fully awake, fresh from the Word is like night and day.

-If you find what makes your kids tick and work with it, it changes everything. For example, Hannah, as I've mentioned before, is an organizer. It is imperative to keep her living areas organized. My house is far from spotless, but her room and toy closet are organized, and that is the first thing I pick up when I straighten up. Before, she would get overwhelmed at anything. When her environment is not stressful to her, her whole temperament is different. Funny, I'm a whole lot like that. :)

-I got the book, "The Power of a Praying Parent" at the library. I will be adding that one to my bookshelves permanently. Prayer is the only thing I have found that silences my fears, helps me to stop carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and helps me to process life. And it's not just me rambling to God, it's asking questions and waiting for a response. When it becomes a habit to listen for God's voice, it gets easier and easier to hear.I knew this at one point in my life, but this stage in life requires a whole new level!

-As soon as I think I've arrived, I get a firm reminder that it's about relying on God. Its not about the strength I can muster, it's about how much I can surrender and allow God to be my strength. Someone I know likes to tell me, "You can do it, you're strong." As much as I love that person, they have it all wrong. I'm only strong in my weakness, because that's when God takes over and makes everything turn out right. I can just see Him, watching me strive and strain, going, "Are you done yet? Can I do it now?"Far better that I start out letting Him do it than wear myself out first!

I will stop there, mostly due to the thunderstorm that keeps getting closer!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Voila'!


Curtains! I spent the evening last night doing this project. It didn't quit turn out as thick as I planned, so I think I'm going to get something to tack to the back of it. The girls were up at 6:15 today. This is not okay with me. I also need a tieback and something to mount on the wall to tie it to. But, this is a whole lot better than the blanket we've been hanging with nails to cover the window! Curtains have been one of those luxuries that have not been a high priority because we have (ugly) mini-blinds on the windows. I told Nick, "Look, we have curtains (on one window, anyway), we live in a real house!"

I understand now why stay at home moms typically get into doing projects like this - or knitting, etc.:
#1 - There is a right and wrong way to do it. If you do it the right way, it will turn out good. This does not describe much of what we do during the day.
#2 - You work on it, and eventually it is finished. It doesn't undo itself, or fall off the window, unlike dishes that always need to be done again, and diapers that always get wet again. That sense of accomplishment is nice.

Now I want to make Audrey a dress for her birthday in August...

Who are all you people?

Okay, so I've been getting 20 hits a day lately on this blog. I don't think I have that many friends, :) so I declare this national de-lurking day. I want to meet new people who like the things that I like. Introduce yourself!

Monday, June 25, 2007

This is cool!

Whew.

We had a busy week last week. Company for dinner, a recital for one of my students, starting potty training, Father's Day... It kept me hopping.

I've decided that potty training is a weird thing. First of all, it's messy. Whoa. Yuck. Second of all, it doesn't come naturally. I'm an intelligent, kind individual, you'd think I could figure out how to teach my kid to use the potty. Not so much. How do you get them to understand they need to use the toilet instead of their diaper? Here's what we've been doing:

Mom: sets the timer. When it rings, takes kid to the bathroom.
Kid: is dry when the timer goes off.
Mom: overjoyed that kid is dry, puts kid on toilet. Reads books, sings songs, and does cartwheels trying to keep kid entertained long enough so she can go.
Kid: doesn't get it
Mom: sighs and puts pull-up back on kid
Kid: goes.

This has been the past week. I have had days of great patience, and days I have felt bad about. I keep hoping for just one little success...

This week we're having company from Oregon. Cousin Ken is my mom's double cousin. My Gramma's sister married my Grampa's brother and had Ken, and therefore Ken is related on both sides of the family. He runs a family counseling-type ministry. He's a great guy and always a big encouragement to have around. I look forward to seeing him. His daughters are around my age and are both missionaries.

I only have one hour of piano to teach this week. Know anybody looking for a teacher? I need some more students.

I'm taking a poll: our 2002 Jetta is for sale. According to kbb, it's worth at least $7000, even with the dent in the passenger side door and the fact that the check engine light is on because some sensors need to be replaced. We could put money into it to fix those things, but with them fixed, the car is worth $8000 if we're lucky, and the repairs would probably cost more than that $1000. So, here's my question - would you buy a car like that? We really need to get rid of it and buy out the lease that ends in September, otherwise we have other issues to deal with. It's kind of a dilemma.

OK, I've done enough rambling for today. Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Random Comments

1. I have nothing terribly profound to say today. Just warning you.
2. My computer isn't working well at all. I type a complete sentence, and then wait as it adds one-letter-at-a-time. It is incredibly frustrating.
3. I have decided to take Hannah's removing her diaper nonstop as a cue.Time to potty train, for real. She ran around the house all morning without one, and didn't go. Then, as soon as I put it back on, she went. She has yet to actually go on the potty. This process inspires a couple thoughts - #1, why is it so hard to communicate this process? Surely she doesn't enjoy going in her bed after removing her diaper. #2 - It must have been easier when people lived in tents and kids could just let loose until they got it figured out. I bet they trained a lot earlier.
4. Audrey went to sleep a baby and woke up a toddler in the past few days. She wants DOWN so she can PLAY! Now! She has a very specific agenda that you better not cross if you value your life (or your eardrums, mostly).
5. Date night tonight, the first one in about 6 weeks because of everybody being sick. Yay! Now, if we could just decide what to do...
6. It is supposed to be 90 for the next several days. Nobody here has air conditioning at home. We're going to cook.
7. The daycare my nieces were in just got shut down for neglect. A hearing will be happening in the next few days. It sounds bad. My nieces seem to be fine, thank God. This whole thing frightens me to the point that I could puke. Please pray about the situation if you think of it.
8. Yay for the weekend. We're heading to Denver for fun tomorrow.
9. I had company pretty much all day Thursday. It was so fun. And so tiring. Thus the reason for no posting the past couple days.
10. I've been reading an incredibly intriguing book called Holding Time. Although I wouldn't parent with this philosophy alone, I believe it is a tool that would help just about every parent. Especially with that one kid every parent has who is...a challenge?
11. This week I rather successfully became a morning person. We were up by 8 most days. This is turning over a new leaf for us. And mornings were so much more fun and easier. I actually made time for quiet times and had something constructive to think about throughout the day. I like it. I think I'll keep it.
12. Goodnight.

Sigh

In the past couple of days, I have cleaned up a few of the grossest messes I have ever seen in my life. I will spare you the details, but...wow.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Audrey

video

Audrey would love to be walking already. She always wants to get down and play. Kind of a dark video, but I'm testing out Blogger's new video upload and showing off my cute baby. :)

A stitch in time


I have never considered myself a terribly "crafty" person. I took sewing lessons from a homeschool mom for a couple of years, but I haven't touched a machine since. I have always been so caught up in my music that I didn't have time for much else. Well, I did stencil ivy leaves all over my bedroom walls when I was about 14. I was pretty proud of that. Anyway, when my sister offered to loan me her extra sewing machine a few weeks ago, I was excited and intimidated.

It's been sitting in my closet for about three weeks.

This morning, I decided today was the day. I found the sewing box my Gramma gave me when I was 10 (complete with pins, needles and seam ripper), brought the machine down to the dining room table, and sat there staring. Amazingly, I figured out how to wind a new bobbin and thread the machine, then I tackled my first project: a nightgown that has needed mending for months. Success!

The next project on the agenda is curtains for the girls' room. I bought some king-sized sheets at Ross yesterday to make into curtains. Hopefully I can get their windows covered effectively enough to stop the waking up at 5:30 am with the sunrise.

Monday, June 18, 2007

This made me smile today. I grew up with chickens in the backyard too. Apricots and chickens. Actually, the chickens enjoyed the apricots also.
Mmmmm...apricots. We got a whole bunch of them in our door to door order this week. Apricots hold a special place in my memories.

When I was growing up in southern California, we had a huge apricot tree in the middle of our backyard. I remember the taste of them, picked ripe right off the tree. I remember filling our old red wagon with fallen fruit and concocting all kinds of "recipes" with them. I remember climbing high in the tree to find that one perfect apricot - firm, fuzzy skin with a soft, juicy inside that tastes like sunshine. Orange with just a blush of pink. You bite and it falls apart and the small brown seed drops into your hand.

Eventually, our tree became infected with some sort of bug that slowly killed it. We had someone come and remove the tree the following summer. I wasn't more than 10, but I still remember the feeling of losing that tree. Standing on the stump where I had formerly climbed a 30 foot tree was a sad experience.

But, I still smile when I bite into an apricot. They are sunshine and wind and freedom and fun.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Old and New

I don't know what it is, but I love old buildings. They are rich with stories, ones that remind us of another time in history is is long gone. Sometimes part of me wishes I had been born 100 years ago. The pace of life, the ability to live off the land you own...these things appeal to me. I know that is the romantic image of it, and that life was usually very difficult then, but it still appeals to me.

I would have loved to see Colorado Springs before it was built up. The undeveloped areas are so beautiful, I can only imagine what has been leveled in favor of a new Super Target. I've never really been able to put my finger on what makes development so sad to me. It's a positive thing. It makes life more convenient and give us more things we can do for fun. At the same time, every time Hannah watches Cars, I cry at the Our Town song.

We bought a shelf off of Craig's List for Hannah's toys from a woman who lives in this nice, old section of town. I would love to live down there. A quaint old house with a fence around the yard and a huge garden... If only it wasn't 30 to 45 minutes from everything else we ever do.

Anyway, I could totally see myself participating in a historic preservation society at some point in time.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Nick's Birthday

Nick opening his cards and gift - I got him The Reagan Diaries. We'll see how many years it takes to get through that one.












Hannah and I building sandcastles at the Pueblo Reservoir swim beach. Please see this post and remember that I am a California girl before making any bathing suit judgments. And yes, my back is fried. Thankfully, Hannah's is not. :)












I love this picture.










We had a great day.

Door to Door Organics

Does this picture even need an explanation? Well, it does I guess, but only because you've never seen how beautiful it is to get a box full of wonderful fruit and vegetables delivered to your door. I don't do it every week, but it sure is exciting when I get to. They have these kinds of delivery services popping up all over the nation. If you're not in the area, you still might have a service like this one.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cute

If I ever end up with a kid who likes pacifiers, I want one of these!

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Oh, Happy Day

Waterdeep has a new album to be released later this year. You can hear 2 songs here.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Where to start...

So, sometimes life gets just hard enough that you don't want to write. After three weeks + of sickness in the house, I came to the end of myself. :) Really, it didn't even take that long. As of tonight, I have an extremely sore throat, but no other symptoms, and the girls are finally well. I don't know why in the world we all got so sick this time, but we did. Actually, I think I do know why.

Thoughts I have had (you have plenty of time to sit and think philosophical thoughts when you're sitting up all night with sick kids):

-Why me?
-Poor me.
-What about me?

Then I started actually applying the five books I've been reading (I usually read that many at once), and had some more productive thoughts:

-1 Tim. 2:15 says, "But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety." I have had two women who I greatly respect tell me they believe this means the act of laying down your own life and your own agenda is what helps us women to become Christlike.
-Hannah obeys so much better when I give her specific one-on-one time, and mean what I say when I say it. I had gotten a little bit lazy with her discipline. I hate labeling kids because I don't think it's productive, but The Strong Willed Child is just about the most helpful book I have read in a long time. One thing I like about it is that he assumes I am a competent, loving parent. When you explain to a loving parent how they can lovingly help their kids mind (and there any multiple ways, not just spanking), the home can be peaceful and happy rather than full of anger. Spanking does not equal anger, kids out of control because their parents don't know what to do with them equals anger.
-When we spend the money (it only took about $100) to make our home a more beautiful place to live, I actually want to be there. Profound...
-It is only in laying down my own agenda for the day that I can be at peace when I stay home with my kids. This is the hardest stinkin' thing to do, but when I can do it, the freedom in our home is incredible.
-I have been a Christian for as long as I can remember, and I have never learned a life of prayer. I'm learning it now.
-I am more confident in my value to God than I have ever been. I think I have spent my entire life being defined by my accomplishments and talents. Talk about being behind the scenes...motherhood will take the pride right outta ya.

I guess I'll quit there. This has been an intense time of introspection for me. I'm excited to see where God is leading me as a woman, a wife and a mother. And also where He'll take me in worship ministry, because there may be some opportunities there in the coming months. I feel like I got a fresh start, and all because of some dumb flu bug... Funny how God works these things out.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

It is over yet?

We're still sick...

I'm disinfecting the entire house today. I found this great list of homemade cleaners online. The only thing I don't have is Borax, but the disinfectant is easy. Plus, no nasty chemicals.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Priorities and Schedules

Kim's post today and the links she includes were very encouraging to me. Kim has nine, yes, nine children. This is the kind of person I was talking about that would have to know how to make a household work! :) The common thread I find in most of the reading I have done about household management in a Godly way focusing primarily on the tone in the home. The house can be spotless, but if the kids are undisciplined and unhappy and the marriage has been neglected, it would still be a miserable place to be.

Kim's comments about stopping right away to work with children who need you really resonated with me. Hannah had been having some attitude issues recently, and in doing some reading I have realized the problems weren't with her as much as they were with me. We moms simply cannot afford to be lazy, or to avoid dealing with stuff. An angry lecture a few minutes too late is not an appropriate substitute for attentiveness and quick action. I have seen this play out in our home this week. Things have been much happier.

This reminds me of a family I saw yesterday while sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office. A very heavy (like, maybe 300 pounds), very tired looking mother herded her four children in to the waiting room while we sat. My intent is not to be critical of this woman, but I could hardly keep from watching the drama that unfolded. The two youngest boys were stinkers. They were into everything, and very unkind to each other and to their sisters. One of the daughters was there for some sort of injury, and when she was called to the back, the other three kids stayed in the waiting room alone. As soon as the mother left, the girl lit in to her brothers, "You're too close to the tv! Move! Leave that alone! Stop it!" She got louder and louder until everyone in the waiting room had turned to look and make a judgment about the situation.
Eventually the mother came back to sit some more and found her daughter extremely frustrated and practically screaming at her brothers. She sat that little 8 year old down and proceeded to lecture her in front of everybody, not letting the kid get a word in edgewise, about what Jesus would do and how she always acts like this. You could see the rage on the girl's face. In five years I can only imagine how she will feel toward her mother if that continues. It made me sad. I wonder if the reason the girl got it instead of her brothers, is that the mother has given up on the boys. She was alone and did not appear to be currently married. I can only imagine what it would take to raise four kids alone, and especially to raise two boys that were handfuls.

There's no way for me to help or judge in the case of that family, but I do know what I want my home to be like. I don't want to have to raise my voice for my children to mind, even if it means spanking them when it's appropriate. I want my home to be a peaceful, joyful place to be, even if it means I don't get to do what I want to do, when I want to do it. The quest continues....

Monday, June 4, 2007

Happy birthday to me

I am 27 years old. I used to think that people, once they reached 27, knew something about life and about themselves. I suppose I know SOMETHING, but not nearly as much as I would have expected by now. I keep saying and thinking, "I'm a real grownup now - I'm 27 and I have two kids. Weird."

The day started out low-key, which is always my favorite. Nick did end up staying home from work, so he made me some breakfast, and then I lazed around reading some while the girls played and Nick worked a little at the dining room table. After that I went and finished my dining room table painting project. It looks pretty good, I must say. Now I just need to find some cheap chairs. The green folding ones we've been using since we got married aren't working so well for me.

We then headed up to my parents' house to say hi and for Nick to work for 30 minutes or so on something that couldn't wait. Audrey started out the day feeling better, but as the day went on, she looked worse and worse. She wouldn't smile, her coloring was terrible, her eyes looked awful...and then she started fussing nonstop. My mom was concerned, which only furthered the concern I already had. My mom is not the interfering type, and she has rarely said anything like, "if that was my kid, I would have had them to the doctor by now." So, off to the doctor we went.

This was momentous for us. Audrey has never been to the doctor for a sick visit. Hannah has been once. Neither of my kids has ever been on antibiotics except for Hannah because I had a uterine infection at her birth. With the natural health stuff I love, there has been no need. However, this thing, whatever it was, was nasty. The doc checked Audrey out and found huge wax buildup in her ears, and once it was removed, found slight ear infections and a sinus infection. I'm fairly sure that the reason for the ear infection was the wax buildup, which runs in Nick's family - it just doesn't come out for some reason, but we are doing...dun, dun, duhhhh...antibiotics for the first time. And, it is a relief to me.

The longer I am a mom, the more I realize that I don't have all the answers, and there is no one right way to do things. I love doing things the natural way, but when it comes to a 9 month old who has been sick for more or less a week, there's a time and place for balance I believe. If I was really hardcore about this, the colloidal silver that I wrote about a couple weeks ago does knock out ear infections. And the sinus thing would be connected to her ears being blocked. And when her sinuses cleared, her pink eye would finally go away. But it was time to quit.

I guess it might sound like I'm making excuses here for something I don't need to excuse. It's possible, I suppose. Mostly I'm once again working through "there is no formula." I want there to be a formula to MAKE my kids be strong and healthy. In reality though, kids will get sick no matter what and God is the one who heals, not penicillin or colloidal silver. The natural medicine stuff is only wisdom, not magic.

At any rate, this was not the birthday I expected - two hours in the after hours clinic because the kids' ped was overbooked today. But, Hannah singing "hallelujah" along with the worship music in the car, dancing with Audrey while looking in the mirror, kisses from my husband, the obnoxiously huge happy birthday balloon and roses from my mom and sister...these things made me smile. I am blessed.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Today

-Audrey has a REALLY gross nose and eye thing going...but at least she has mostly stopped whimpering nonstop and her fever is gone. This is an improvement. Poor little thing. I feel so sorry for her!
-My birthday is tomorrow, but I think we are going to pretend a different day is my birthday so that we can play with well kids, instead of trying to play with sick kids. I have mixed feelings about this, but I keep reminding myself that I can make the decision - nobody made it for me. And we can still have just as much fun, just not tomorrow.
-Nick says this is my birthday weekend, so I got to do whatever I wanted. Hannah and I went to church while he stayed home with Audrey, and I spent the afternoon staining the dining room table (I bought it for $11 before we got married, and just now am getting around to fixing it up!), and also cleaning out the garage. It was exactly what I wanted to do today - isn't that weird?
-I'm making tacos for dinner. Yummy.
-I gotta go cook taco meat. Bye now.
-I know, this is the most thrilling blog ever.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

I am a hermit

...Or at least I have felt like one these past two weeks. It seems that when you decide to handle sickness the natural way, everything takes a little longer than most people are used to. 5 days of fever for each kid, a nasty cough, runny noses, coughed up...bodily fluids, pink eye gunk, and long nights with one hour of sleep at a time. This has been my last two weeks. I'm so sick of bodily fluids I could puke. Plus, I'm tired, cranky, and lonely.

But, they are getting better. We're on day 3 with Audrey, which, if hers follows the pattern of Nick and Hannah, means tomorrow will be better. And it is June now, so hopefully this is the last of the sickness for a few month. Hopefully.

So, if you've been trying to reach me and I haven't called back, I'm holding whimpering babies and trying to keep up with laundry full of pink eye germs - not ignoring you. So far I have escaped the bug - pray that I will!