Thursday, October 31, 2013

Pumpkin Carving in this Joint

I have approximately 10 minutes before Caleb wakes up from his nap.  The house is trashed, the laundry's piled up and I could really use one more cup of coffee before we venture into the Halloween evening festivities.  But I just have to share our pumpkin carving pictures with you.

It all started with Scott and me sitting on the couch last Friday evening and having the following, loving conversation...

Me:  Well, you know that we have to carve pumpkins this weekend since Halloween is next week.
Scott:  *insert silent stare*
Me:  Seriously.  It's next Thursday.  
Scott:  Do you know when the last time was I carved a pumpkin?

Throw into the mix that Elizabeth insisted on making a GIRL pumpkin.  (No, Daddy, it has to be PRETTY!)  And all Scott and the girls ended up sitting at the dining room table, looking at design templates on Martha Stewart's website.  They finally settled on a kitty cat design that seemed cute and easy.  

Although when Scott suggested adding some fangs, Elizabeth threw herself on the ground in protest.

Such a drama lama.  

It worked out great though that Sunday was perfect weather. We were all able to be in the yard and Caleb was pretty distracted by everything BUT the pumpkin carving.

Well, except in the beginning.  Ok girls, now this is how you carve it.  Just pick it up and drop it!

Fine, you don't want to do it my way.  I'll just head down here and eat some sand.  

I'm sure ten years ago, Scott never pictured himself carving kitty cat pumpkins.  He cut the tops off and tried to get the girls help him scoop the guts out.  Rachel refused to get close to it and Elizabeth stuck her hand in one time and was sufficiently grossed out.  I'm thinking we don't have two doctors on our hands here.  I'm sure the boy would have nose-bombed right in.

The after shot.  Elizabeth is making her "scary" face.  Grrrr!

And my whole scary bunch...I pretty much love everyone's expression in this picture.  Can't wait to light these puppies (I mean) kitties up on the front porch!

Happy Halloween, my friends!  I'll post costume pics tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Small Victories with the Little People

As sweet as Elizabeth can be, she's not much of a hugger.

Cuddling and sneaking a squeeze is just not her thing.  In fact, even 'I love you's' are tough to get out of her.  Now, this is not the case for the other two, who race and push each other down to get to my lap as soon as I take a seat anywhere in the house.  Most mornings find me covered in Rachel and Caleb, with Elizabeth on the edge of the love seat.  

That is her perch, especially after I (stupidly) taught her how to use the remote.

But that's another story.

Anyway, I have begged my child to come lay with me, cuddle with her mama, give me a get it...and sometimes she will...begrudgingly.

Now there have been random times that she's giving me glimpses past her tough exterior.  Like about a month ago, when we were driving back from Wheeling, WV.  We were about 6 hours into the trip and Caleb and Rachel (who both sit in the middle captain chairs of the van) were beginning to lose it.  So I started playing "this little piggie" with their toes, making the little one go whee whee whee all the way up to their very ticklish necks.  

Elizabeth was watching a movie and seemed to have cared less.

So I couldn't figure out why she was crying when we stopped for lunch.  As she was bawling in my arms, I finally got out of her, "BUT I WANT TO DO THE LITTLE PIGGIES!!"

Guilt flooded me.  "Oh honey!  I'm so sorry!  I didn't get to do the piggies with you, did I?"  And we went to our seats and made the little piggies race up her neck right in the middle of McDonalds.

Flash forward to yesterday.

We had just been having a day of rumbles between Elizabeth Rose and myself.  Her personality is strong and we're at the stage that she will just flat-out ignore me if she doesn't want to do what she's been asked to do...which of course, lights a fire under me faster than gasoline.  We argued about which leotard to wear to gymnastics.  We argued about picking up the major pony fort she had constructed during nap time.  We argued over her not being able to light candles by herself (true story...she had put the play chair on the hearth in order to reach the lighter on the mantle...didn't see THAT ONE coming).

And the problem with the oldest being defiant is that the other two tend to follow right along suit.  So it was just one of those days that I felt like all I did was discipline and harp and lay down rules and those just aren't that fun or rewarding.  By the time Scott got home, I was spent.  And I felt stupid being spent as a stay at home mom because duh, I STAYED AT HOME, but spent I was.  

So dinner rolled around and, as I watched my children push the healthy food around their plate and moan and groan about the frittata I had fixed that had "yucky steak" in it, I felt myself sink lower and lower.  Just the day before, I had heard a devotional on finding Jesus in our every day chores, to look for Him when things were mundane or hard raising our little people.  But, for the life of me, I couldn't see Him.  

Deciding that she was finished, Elizabeth hopped up from her seat and ran into the living room.  Amazingly, she came back willingly when we asked her to clear her dishes and then the rest of the table (she enjoys most chores that don't involve picking up toys).  Then, when she came back into the dining room from her first load, it happened.

She hugged me.  

She stopped, put her arms around me and hugged me for a good 20 seconds.

Within the first 10, I was bawling my eyes out.  

She looked up at me, shocked.  "Mama!  Why are you crying?"

And in that moment, I decided to be honest with her.  "Oh honey," I sniffed.  "Sometimes I'm just not sure you love me at all."

She hugged me tighter.  "Well of course I do," she giggled.  "You're the best mama I have!"  (Oh Jesus...THERE you were!)

And with that, she cleared the rest of the table, each time stopping to give me a quick squeeze.  Scott reached across our ketchup covered son to squeeze my hand and we both paused in the brief minute of peace in the house.  

Well, until bath time...

Happy Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Signs you might have a toddler in your bathroom

Every morning when I get ready, I laugh at the set up on our vanity simply because we tend to always have a "helper" when we are getting ready.  And there he is!

"Here Mama, I'll turn the water on for you so you can go ahead and brush your teeth.  Now spit so I can yell 'bubbles!!' and splash in them."

"Oops, Mama...don't worry.  I'll get your toothbrush.  I just dropped it.  Right on the floor.  By the toilet."

"Hey Mama, why do you put everything way over there?  I'm having trouble getting them from here.  Don't worry, I'll just scale the sink and get them.  You go get dressed and don't stress."

And, you know, I would consider him unique had I not found this little gem in my archives.

(Rachel at 19 months.)

Have a great day, my friends...and here's to hoping you can brush your teeth alone! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Messes to S's...

Lately, I've been dealing with control issues.

Or a lack of control issues, if you might.

My children run around crazy, my eyebrows are out of control and my house is a wreck.  And while the "get it together sister" part of me is yearning to tighten the reigns and go to all ends to have control, the "they're only young once" other part of me is urging myself to enjoy the journey.  

All this being said, I've been in a mass cleaning and purging stage while I move our belongings back in from the garage, where they were stored as the floors were getting done.  Boxes of items we don't need have been sent to the thrift store and I've actually been thankful for the process because I don't think it would have otherwise gotten done.  

When they replaced the floors, they had to tear out the subfloor, leaving a thick layer of dust on anything standing - blinds, curtains, baseboards, pictures left on the walls, etc.  The only reason why I'm telling you this is to paint the picture that I've kind of been on a cleaning frenzy around this joint.

So you can imagine my disbelief when I walked into the entryway yesterday and discovered writing on the wall.  In crayon.  Blue crayon.

Now, let me pause again and tell you that all of my children are smack on the edge of big developmental stages.  Caleb is trying with all his might to talk.  Elizabeth is beginning to go from rebellious to helpful and want responsibility.  And Rachel is exploding in creativity.  She really has started to color well and is wanting to make letters randomly.  

Rachel, more than the others, is very sensory driven.  She clings to a blankie with soft edges, especially when she's upset.  She is the only one that bites her nails and toe nails (which both grosses me out and makes me jealous of her flexibility).  And lately, she's taken to picking all the leather off our couch, which drives us crazy but no one's been able to catch her in the act yet.  

However, this was all very far from my mind when I was trying desperately to get my house back together yesterday around 5 p.m.  It had been a long day and the kids were running crazy around the house, since it was too cool to go outside with their drippy noses.  Dinner was on the stove and I knew Scott would be on his way home soon.  I had wiped down surfaces, dusted the living room and was just finishing up the floors when I saw the brand new art work on the wall... in blue.  

I knew it was Rachel, as we had already been down this road with Elizabeth, and I began to blow my top at my three-year-old.  Of course, she denied it and cowered under her blanket and I felt all my control issues bubble to the surface.  

Your house never looks put together.  You're just not a good homemaker.
Your children can't follow the rules.  You're just not a good mom.
Your husband is going to think you have no control of your house.  You're just not a good wife.
and even
You're taking out your frustrations on your three-year-old!!  You really have no self-control.

And while the true battle of control was raging inside me, Elizabeth walked up behind me.
"Mom!!  Look!!  Rachel made an S!!"

And she had.  There in the middle of the "art" was a perfectly scrawled blue my entrance way.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9  

I pulled Rachel on my lap and apologized for getting upset and asked her if she would make all her letters on paper so that I could keep them forever.  Her tears dried up in an instant as she jumped down and ran off to do just that.  And once again, I was thankful for pint-sized grace that forgives me quicker than I deserve.   I was thankful for Elizabeth's sweet heart and gentle reminder of what was really important.  I was thankful even for my control issues because they keep me looking to the One who is so much stronger and has it all together so that I don't have to. 

And I was also thankful for the big box of Magic Erasers that was on sale last month at Costco...

Happy Thursday, friends!