Monthly Archives: May 2014

Through her eyes

Don’t get me wrong. Rain is a good thing. But rainy days are notorious for keeping mommas with little kids at home, inside. With the piles of bills and laundry. And the hidden Oreos.

So when I announced that it was probably going to rain today, I wasn’t exactly thrilled.

FireCracker on the other hand, her first response was:

“So we can jump in mud puddles!”

Uh huh. Exactly what I was thinking.

Later, I was driving down the road from our house when I noticed all of the beautiful yellow flowers dotting the ditch. They were pretty enough that I stopped to pick a handful, knowing FireCracker would love them.

Jumping back in my car, I looked down at them. For as pretty as they looked from the road, they were really just a Dandelion, version 2.0. And the inside coating of the stem was making my hands sticky.

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Disappointed and ready to chuck them out the window, I thought about my daughter. Realizing she wouldn’t mind one bit if they weren’t pretty by my definition, and positive she wouldn’t mind sticky hands, I took them home to her.

And I’m glad I did. Because she got her flowers, and I got to see a beauty filtered through the eyes of a weed.

The light in her eyes made me think about what I deem as negative, disappointing and anger-provoking is maybe too often filtered into the ‘bad’ of my thinking.

There was this one time I heard Zig Ziglar talk about finding, and naming, something good in every perceived ‘bad.’ For a can-be-Eeyore like me, it sounded like he must have taken one too many happy pills. And then I tried it.

Sitting in my dining room frustrated at the lack of progress on the house we’ve now lived in a year, and mad at the cherub wallpaper, I noticed what a beautiful view I have when I look beyond those walls.

(Yes, I was really angry about my wallpaper. First world problems. Just being transparent.)

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(See what I mean?!)

And then FireCracker hugged the flowers.

There are so many times I could use her perspective. To see …

… a mess as a day that was filled with fun.

… bills as us being warm, clothed, fed and happy. More so than we deserve.

… dessert as something to be enjoyed instead of guilt-inducing.

… a schedule more as a loose plan instead of strictly regimented.

… alone time (AKA, nap time) as time to refresh instead of freak-out clean.

… visitors as an opportunity to offer hospitality instead of stress.

… cancelled plans as a chance to relax.

… and, of course, rain as mud puddles in the making.

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“You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”  -Zig Ziglar

FireCracker often says things like “I promise I will be very careful,” when emptying out the bottom of the Dorito bag into her mouth while wearing a white shirt. Or “Not ever, ever.”

Since I’ve learned that absolutes – words like always and never – can be harmful in an instance like discussing trash-taking-out habits with my husband; and since I want her to understand the value of her integrity (try explaining that to a three-year-old), I’ve been trying to have conversations about the importance of choosing our words with FireCracker.

And then came the dress.

Since her three-year-old Parent’s Day Out program is tonight, last night at bed time, I casually asked her if she wants to wear a dress that was handed down by one of my cousin’s kids. Well, it took a whole ten minutes to talk her out of waiting until morning once I showed it to her.

(I should mention that she is the kind of kid who doesn’t forget anything, and thinks an impromptu tea party is the perfect occasion for sparkles, a skirt and some jewels.)

Fast forward to today, I put the dress on her. After calling Daddy, spinning around enough to wear a hole in the kitchen floor, and attempting to FaceTime with Grandma to show off the dress, her excitement wore down a little.

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And by a little, I mean she only dubbed it “the most beautiful dress in the world.”

She even happily obliged to wear a bib at lunchtime, two years after swearing the things off as evidenced by her daily throwing them across the room. I just thought the bib would be easier than the alternative … changing out of the dress.

Until it happened. The dress caught a glob of ketchup. I calmly explained that she had to take the dress off so I could wash it, and she couldn’t wear it for her nap anyways.

“But you said I could wear it to the program. You said. You promised. You said I could wear it forever.”

(We’re working on the exaggeration, too. It’s not like she learned that from anyone she spends any time with. There was just that one time I heard “for better … or for a copper farmhouse sink,” in the pause of our wedding vows.)

Anyways, enter some WWF-style combat wrangling to get the dress off (And there was that time when the chiropractor asked me if I’d been in a major accident to mess my spine up. Nope, I just have a three-year-old.), and you’d never guess she can be shy.

“Nooooooooooo. It can’t get wet. You will ruin it. But, but it’s the most beautiful dress in the world. Did you hear me say that? I said it’s beautiful.”

So in case you’ve been wondering what wonderful mothering/spiritual insight I’ve been gleaning in my blogging sabbatical, here it is:

I would really like to start a list of volunteer recruits to take this girl wedding dress shopping.

And while you’re at it, please discourage her from serving ketchup at her wedding.

Although at the rate we’re going, if we have any more weddings to pay for, it may serve as a cheap vegetable.

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I went to the grocery store and ran some errands the other day without my kids. Since we have a pretty tight grocery budget and I meal plan for a month at a time, I feel like I backtrack through the store a lot. On this particular day, I just knew I was taking forever. I was trying to get home to the kids so my hubby could leave, and it wasn’t working out.

When I got back to the car and looked at the time, I realized I hadn’t even taken that long. It’s because I didn’t have the kids! I’m not exactly known for my promptness anyways, but, throw two kids who can’t buckle themselves … or feed themselves … and a lot of times, both can’t walk for themselves, and everything is just s-l-o-w-e-r.

Take breakfast for instance. What used to be a mad-dash to pour the cereal and milk in a bowl and rush to my car, has now turned in to an hour-long affair filled with ‘And now what can I have next to eat?’ You’d think my girl was training to be the next Michael Phelps the way she can put down food … when she wants to, that is.

(And, yes, I ate cereal on the way to work … almost daily. And spilled it more than once. I do not recommend this. However, it is slightly better than cracking an egg you thought was hard boiled over your dash. Oops.)

After breakfast, we go feed our animals. Again, FireCracker wants to help with and Smiley wants to watch.

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She spills the feed. I bite my tongue. She asks questions. For the third time. I sigh. The day drags on, and I can’t even go to the bathroom by myself, because Doc McStuffins is following me singing “Time for your checkup.”

On our way in for lunch, we walk past the garden.

“Hey, look! The peas are growing. There’s the rhubarb,” FireCracker excitedly chimes.

Those are the peas that she helped me plant the time she was more interested in filling my trench with worms than dirt. They’re leaning a little now in the wind; they need their fence finished so they can keep climbing and growing.

Just like the peas have changed in the blink of an eye, I’m aware that my girls do too. Sometimes I don’t see it because they’re always with me, and a lot of our days are filled with the same, day in, day out. But having them and having been forced to slow down has taught me a few things. Here’s just a touch of what I’ve learned by living my life a little slower with kids.

Slowing down fosters independence. Fire Cracker has been potty trained for almost a year now. Up until a couple months ago, I’d been doing most of the dirty work for her, accompanying her to the toilet and cleaning her up. It’s been easier for me to wipe her and wash my hands than to lift her up, scrub her hands for her and then clean up the mess she made in the water. I finally realized I can’t send her to kindergarten without knowing how to do the whole potty process, so I found a stool that has lasted more than three days. I showed her how to step up, turn on the water, and wash her own hands after going. One morning she shouted from the toilet, “Mom, why am I wiping my own self?”

That’s obviously an important life skill. But when I’m in  a hurry, I’ve caught myself dressing her, putting her shoes on or spoon feeding Smiley instead of letting her figure it out. I don’t want to stifle their ability or their pride in facing a challenge and figuring it out for themselves.

Slowing down gives me a new filter. We picked some flowers the other day on a walk. At FireCracker’s insistence, we stopped and plucked all 82 of them. When we sat down to supper, my husband commented on the intricate design and beauty of the flowers. They were just ditch flowers I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed had I not taken the time to stoop down to my kid’s level.

Slowing down decreases materialism.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop and even going to the grocery store makes me a little giddy (you really don’t have to feel bad for me!). But with two kids in tow, it’s harder to up and go to the mall, and when I do, it never fails we spend more time on the merry go round than in the store. Being home with the kids, we go less places and create more fun in our backyard or on our bikes or with blanket forts. I am working on a list of local places to experience and fun things to do at home with the girls for summer, but to them, it’s about the fun to be had, not the things we need.

Slowing down creates relationships. It’s so funny to hear the things my older daughter comes up with sometimes when I take the time to put my phone down and just talk to her while we’re eating lunch. Entertaining her thousand questions and then turning around and listening to her rabbit trail of a three-year-old answers reminds me just how important it is to talk and to listen. 

I’ll admit, I’m usually still late and often feel like I’m rushing. But these days, I’m trying to take an extra minute to see life through little eyes.

Five minute Friday {I} Mess

I blog about the pretty, but really my life is a mess. Trying to keep the water in the sink and the shoes in the closet and the clothes in the hamper, somehow they end up a mess anyways.

It’s been a rainy, cold, yucky week. My daughter asks if she can jump in the mud puddles. I say yes, but when I turn my back, she’s face-planted in the mess. Just one more to clean up.

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It’s not just the mud and dishes and laundry that I clean. It’s my heart. Ridding it of bitterness and jealousy and disappointment and unmet expectation, I’m free to let myself be a part of the mess.

One of my favorite childhood memories is making ‘groundhog soup’ out of sticks and leaves and mud. Now it’s a story I tell my daughter at bedtime.

Dropping the need to impress and control, I take in her mud soaked cheeks. And instead of being mad, I just grab my camera.

I scoop her up, her three-year-old limbs spilling out of my arms. And we role play like she’s Anna from Frozen. I’m Kristoff, and I’m carrying her. She almost missed her fun, and I almost missed this.

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{I’m linking up with Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Today, the prompt is mess, if you haven’t already guessed. Goodness, I never thought I’d do a writing prompt post-graduation!}

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Like every home-dwelling woman in North America, I wanted one of those Pinterest-y wooden pallet signs for my house. While I am somewhat handy with a hammer, I requested the hubby’s help since he’s a natural at woodworking.

This was also during Snowpocalypse 2014, so we had nothing better to do. We usually have easy access to pallet wood from either seed deliveries or the local co-op, but being that he used to build things from cherry and oak and the like (while his parents were conveniently paying for the wood when he was a teenager), Matt tends to get a little snotty when it comes to wood choice. I don’t know what he has against pallet wood, but he thinks using it for a project is akin to using a corn cob for toilet paper. He’s good with generic until it comes to woodworking.

(And all of Pinterest just cringed.)

Needless to say, we ended up with a more unique project. But I love him for it, because it looks even better than I thought it would.

First, we found some old wood in our barn and washed it. Like I said, it was during this crazy winter we had, so while using the hose would have been the best option, I was afraid I wouldn’t have any fingers left. Luckily, we have a sink in our laundry room, so I used that. It was only two months later when I finally got around to cleaning the mud out that I sort of regretted that decision.

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We lined them up over a piece of MDF Matt cut to fit a frame I had (another find in our old barn).

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Nailed them down to the MDF underneath with an air nailer.

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Cut the edges even with the MDF.

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All ready to stencil and frame!

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Now, to stencil, I printed out the verse I chose in large letters …

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… and cut out pretty much every one. (I left a few strips to connect the letters.)

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Next, I traced all of the letters in pencil, and then put three coats of paint on them.

I debated back and forth what saying to use for a while. I’ve always loved this verse, and I need to hear it every day. I figured this would be a good reminder. Right now, I have it sitting on our mantle, but I think someday I’d like to put it in our kitchen when we redo it.

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(And I still have a few pallets stashed away for later projects. Just don’t tell Matt.) 🙂