Archive for the ‘Motherhood’ Category

Easy Packing for Kids

October 27, 2008

I am sure this is not new. In fact, I cant believe that I haven’t heard it before! I discovered a fantastic new way to pack for my kids! When we were traveling to Canada, having to pack for three kids was a chore I was not looking forward to. Living out of suitcases with kids is just not fun. Digging for socks, trying to find the shirt that matched the little pink corduroy pants, and where is that sweater we need for those chilly mornings? The bags were always a crumpled mess within hours of arrival at the hotel.

So what did I do this time? Duh. I packed outfits together instead of all shirts, pants, etc. separately. Laying everything flat, I put a sweater or sweatshirt down, then the shirt, then slacks or skirt then underwear and socks. Once laid one on top the other, I folded the sleeves down on top of everything, then folded the pant legs up on top of that, then rolled the whole outfit into a large burrito. Voila! I even made pajama outfit rolls with underwear and everything rolled up together.

Several outfit rolls, a couple pair of shoes, and 3 little rolling suitcases later, each child was packed!

Now, that wasn’t the best part. The BEST part was how easy it was to get everyone dressed! I simply took out a roll of clothes, and got that child dressed. No hunting for the right shirt. No wondering if I remembered the tights that went with that denim skirt. It was a BREEZE.

I am *this* close to doing this at home in their dressers. The only thing stopping me is wanting to develop a sense of creativity in their clothing choices.

So that’s it! Easy easy easy. I wish I’d done this forever ago!

My horrific fabulous vacation

October 20, 2008

It all started with the booking of our Canadian hotel, and the realization that my passport had expired, plus I had a name change during that time and could not find our marriage certificate. I ran around to every government office in a 2 county area, and then was finally told how to get around that. Whew.

We packed 2 days early (I discovered a FABULOUS new way to pack for the girls! I’ll post that later). We thought we were ready, but of course, were still running around packing last minute stuff 5 minutes after we were supposed to have left to catch the ferry to Sydney. Pitch black at 5am, the girls were still dead asleep. The plan? At the very last minute, scoop them out of bed, go potty, wrap them in blankets and throw them in the van hoping they’d fall back to sleep or stay sleeping.

No such luck.

At the last minute, I scooped up Kathryn, went potty, and she was still sleeping. So far so good. I ran out the door with her wrapped in her fuzzy blue blanket, and was smiling to myself that this actually might work. Then, not sure what happened, but my foot caught the front step funny, my foot went one way and my body went the other. I remember thinking on the way down that I wouldn’t be able to totally protect Kathryn, and sure enough, I somehow flipped so she landed mostly on top of me, but not quite enough. Her head hit the concrete and the pain receptors hit my brain simultaneously. We laid there on the walkway crying for a minute before Gerry heard us and came out to help us up. I was mostly crying because I had dropped my daughter…what a horrible feeling.

So, now 30 minutes late, some ice packs, Tylenol and lots of soothing and answering sweet questions from Stephanie (“Did you fall down, mama? Do you have an owie? Can I kiss it?”), we decided to head out the door. It might not be so bad. We could always turn around. Maybe we’d just take a ferry ride.

By the time we got to the ferry, we could see with relief that Kathryn didn’t even have a bump. She had some expected emotional scars (Gerry still laughs at me because she still doesn’t quite trust me to carry her! Not sure what we’ll say to her therapist when she’s 25…), but was physically ok. Me on the other hand, had a baseball where my ankle used to be, and a knee that would not stop bleeding.

But determined to VACATION, dangit, we kept forging forward, hoping for the best.

The hotel suite was fabulous – right on the harbor, with all the amenities we needed. We had decided not to bring a ton of food with us like we always do, and just go out to eat. We had to rethink that plan when not a few hours later, everything went black. Yup. Black out. Four cities wide. No restaurants were cooking. No heat. Apparently no generators to be found. And no hot water. Since it was rapidly getting dark, we got the girls ready for bed while we could still see where our luggage was. Thanksgiving dinner (we were in Canada) must have been interesting for local families!

Gerry and I looked at each other and laughed out loud. What a vacation! We ate snacks from the car, read stories to the girls until it was too dark to see, then went to bed.

The lights eventually clicked back on, I continued to ice my ankle, and the next day Gerry took the girls to the Bug Zoo and Miniature World. I stayed in the suite, relaxed and read a novel for the first time in … I can’t remember. We ALL had a great day!

Even though the swelling was still pretty fierce, we thought we’d stay through Tuesday and then ferry home. We went to the petting zoo. Closed! The train rides. Closed! The Planetarium. Closed! What the?!? Turns out, most activities for the kids were closed for the season the day after Canadian Thanksgiving. So we freaked Stephanie out at seemingly the only thing open — the Butterfly Sanctuary (she thought she was being attacked by these huge flocks of gorgeous butterflies swarming around), and went home. (Just wait till you see the pictures of her — hilarious!)

After all that, guess where the kids had THE most fun? At a local park. Swings, slides, seesaw. Just like at home.

We missed the ferry (it was full), so took another. Finally late Wednesday evening, we got home and back into our own beds.

We recounted the amazing way that God protected us, and how he blessed us with our family. Through it all, we laughed, made jokes, and made what could have been a really miserable time into something really fun and memorable. I am now convinced more than ever that whether or not the time we spend together is fun or agony COMPLETELY depends on us. We can experience the most annoying circumstances, and still find ways to enjoy one another.

I thank God for the blessing of my kids who just had fun as long as we were having fun, and my husband, who joined me on our vacation to Crazy, and returned with our senses still intact. 🙂

It is 1am. I have three babies. Why am I still up?

August 22, 2008

I honestly have no idea why I am still awake at 1am, and bored, except that I probably had that Mocha at Starbucks with Cheri too late in the afternoon. I’ll hit the wall this afternoon, I suppose. A cup of coffee should get me through late afternoon playtime with the girls. Hm. This could be a bad trend.

But I had an interesting conversation while hopping up on caffeine. What is boredom? I’ve been eating more lately and it is just starting to show (beyond the post-pregnancy pounds). I am a bored eater. But seriously, now, how could I possibly be bored?! I am SO busy!

Cheri and I talked about some theories. Boredom for her was a version of braindead. Tired. Too much to process, system shut down. Looking for filler to avoid … something…and not finding it.

I think for me, it is a lack of meaning, not a lack of things to occupy my time. Mindless busyness. I try to be mindful by planning and putting my activities in some sort of context. I haven’t been planning well lately, and so I figured that was causing me to go through my days in this aimless fashion, leading me to bored eating. I think I tend to overcome “boredom” with planning.

Then Cheri shared the way she copes with boredom. She finds a way to intentionally use her spiritual gift (so sorry if you are a friend who isn’t yet a Christ follower — bear with me here — this part won’t make sense. Better yet, don’t bear with me. Believe on Jesus. Message me about it and I’ll tell you more — before I get too far off track here for even 1am). As we talked, we drew mental pictures with each other of how spiritual gifts bring us to interact with people. There are no “Reading” gifts, or “sleeping” gifts, or “cooking fabulous food and eating it” gifts (dang!). Spiritual gifts compel us to relate to people in some way.

And the cool thing about spiritual gifts, is that God uses them in supernatural ways to build the Body. Even when we aren’t trying, or don’t know what specific gift we have.

So, what about the idea of deciding to intentionally look for ways to let God use your gift, specifically to fight boredom or mindless busyness? When I find myself eating ANOTHER handful of almonds (they are good for you, but not in successive gargantuan shovelfuls) because I am just mindlessly changing diapers, cleaning finger paint, planning Ballet birthday parties, and talking to telemarketers, I should look around for ways to use my Exhorter/Admin gifts. Help show Kathryn how to juggle. Call my mom and tell her I am thinking of her. Remember how my choice to stay home will hopefully create a strong bond between me and my daughters. Pray Colossians for someone while I fold laundry. Tell the next telemarketer that he needs Je-e-e-esus! (OK…I know that it is true, and a serious subject, and am not flippant about salvation, so please don’t get mad at me for laughing out loud at the idea of calling telemarketers and witnessing as a diet plan. It is 1am.).

What do YOU think boredom is? How do you fight it? I’d love to get some ideas.

Pray like Stephanie

August 20, 2008

I realized this morning that my 2 year old prays in a way I did not teach her.

We have little “canned” prayers that we use just to get our girls in the habit of taking the time to pray. Prayers of thanksgiving for food, and before they go to bed. I will also pray with them for things like lost dolly shoes, hurt feelings, fear of that lion under the bed, and “owies”. At 2 and 4, I didn’t really think that they were old enough to understand the intangible concept of God, and that we were talking to Him.

Stephanie, my 2 year old proved me wrong. Recently, she has started praying all on her own for the things that are on her mind. She thanked God for her stuffed animals, her friends, and asked for His help to be kind to Sissy, and asked Him to give her popcorn. (I smiled too.)

This morning she looked at the pictures as we read and discussed our devotional (about the man who was healed at the pool of Bethesda). A short time later I heard her talking to Him about a pool and her band-aid. She hears His Word, and it drives her to respond to Him in prayer. In conversation. I just know God was smiling in pleasure over her plaintive sharing of her toddler world with Him.

Isn’t that what our prayer lives should be like? Ongoing communication as well as concentrated times of specific listening and responding to Him through His word. It was a great reminder to me to let His Word drive me to conversation with the Author.

What I was making complicated (understanding the intangible nature of God) Stephanie has made very simple. I am compelled to follow the example of a little girl in talking to her God about all of life, with complete trust and a forgone assumption that He hears and desires good for her.

What an awesome privilege we have to talk to the Almighty!

The RANT of an [almost] agoraphobic Mom

June 12, 2008

I am a recovering agoraphobic.

Ok, this is not a clinical diagnosis, but since Rachael was born I have often been afraid to go out. I am a moving wriggling spectacle – or at least others seem to think so when they see my family of three kids aged 4 and under. It is as if they are looking at the 8th wonder of the world live and in person. The wide-eyed awe or smile of pity usually sounds like this:

“You must be so tired!”
“Better you than me!”
“Wow…you’ve got your hands full!”

I leave these interactions feeling like I’ve got Dengue Fever rather than three beautiful , active, smart, exciting little girls aged 4,2 and 7 months. I never know what to say!
“Duh.” ?
“Better me than you.”?
“Thank you.” ?

So I dread having to run out pick up toilet paper at Albertsons (aside from the fact that with three under 4 you don’t just “run out” for anything. Every trip is a major undertaking. Has everyone gone potty? Ack! That bottle from 3 days ago is still in my bag! What? You want a snack now? We just had breakfast! Put your shoes back on! Yikes! Look at my hair! Sniff sniff … OK … Who pooed?).

I just got back from a weekend away with some friends and their kids. The ranch where we stayed was simultaneously hosting a conference with a group that holds as one of their main philosophies of life that Christian families are to have as many children as possible. Naturally, most of the families there had an average of 6-8 children or more. All weekend long people smiled at us, excited to see that we were well on our way to a wonderful family of 12 beautiful children. Maybe we’ll even be blessed with a boy in there somewhere.

We aren’t on our way to 12 children, in case you were wondering. But it felt good to have our family nurtured and encouraged rather than gawked at.

Granted, I am not naïve. My hands ARE full. And I AM tired. And I am fully aware that they are each only 18 months apart – and that is considered to be spaced very close together. But honestly, it doesn’t help me to hear the dumbfounded amazement of every other person at Costco.

With every comment I can just feel the last little bit of verve and energy I might have had seeping out of me like water out of a baby tub. There is power in our words, and I feel that power every time I go out.

I begin thinking about all of my friends with no kids, or grown kids. Darlene gets to travel to Europe with her husband on a whim. And Gina can go to Safeway for eggs and only have to buckle one seatbelt and put on one jacket. And Linda can wear a beautiful white sweater and have it still be white at noon. And Susan can see the results of the years of prayer, discipline, and love as her grown children now call her “blessed” rather than “bath-giver.”

But then I see Kathryn discover something new and look at me with those wide brown eyes and a “Look mom!”

And then Stephanie will make me laugh out loud with one of her newest fashion statements (usually out of my closet).

And baby Rachael will squint her eyes, giggle, and squeal with her wide gummy grin.

I love being mommy to these three. They are amazing and I discover the world again along with them. At the same time I am often exhausted, sometimes impatient, would give a large sum for a full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and terribly miss my beautiful designer dry-clean-only skinny clothes.

Because of this, there are days that I need all the encouragement I can get from words. Although the Lord is gracious in reminding me of my true value, I often run low.

Here is a good example: The other morning, I was out at Wal-Mart picking up shampoo and other randomness that we were about to run out of and I caught the eye of an older woman who was looking at me and smiling. I braced myself for the inevitable comment. She said:

“Look at those girls. You are a lucky woman to have such a full life.” And she smiled again, touched Stephanie’s hand, and walked away.

The comment took all of 3 seconds, but I carried her words with me for the rest of the week. I now try really hard to see the good in those around me, no matter how strange things seem, and encourage with my words. I know those “up words” made my week.

So, to all those who notice a different hairdo, a huge family, a severe handicap, singleness late into life, a couple who do not have children, a parent with fully rebellious children, a four headed flying pig, or whatever it is that you just can’t imagine dealing with yourself, I beg you to find some “up words” if you are going to stop and comment.

My hands ARE full. To that wonderful lady at Wal-Mart…thank you from this grateful mom whose hands are blessedly, yet temporarily full of three little treasures from the Lord. I know they will be empty all too soon…