Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Busy life and a month in review

Hello blogland.... real life is BUSY!

I know, I know! It's been a couple of weeks again since I've managed to post a blog and it's not for lack of trying.  I've begun at least four posts that just never got completed because real life is busy.  And it's not busy in an "organizing the kitchen for no reason other than I felt like it" way.  It's busy in a "four kids, schooling, fall fun, birthdays, and life is taking over" kind of way.

During the monkeys' waking hours I've been busy schooling them and trying to keep up with housework (which as I have concluded previously just never ends, esp when we're home all day, every day).  Once they're in bed at night I've been working on Christmas gifts for them, and the past week I've been working on stuff for Kayden's birthday which was yesterday.  He turned 7.  I will post about that tomorrow.

October has just flown past and completely disappeared.  I have no idea honestly where most of it went.  It was here one minute and gone the next.  I'm just going to post in list form some highlights from this month.

1. I took up sewing again.  With a new machine as my old one kept jamming.  It's amazing and I love it.  I made Sierra a nightgown the other night.  It amazed my mom who has been sewing since she was 8.  I made a few gifts for our dear dear friends who are expecting their first baby in the next few weeks too.  Those I'm going to dedicate a whole post to.

2. I held my first of what I hope to make monthly Mommy Play dates here in our home last week.  Two good friends came over with their kiddos and it was just nice to have conversation with grown adults.

3. I was blessed with a good deal on two spiderman costumes (what both Kayd and Colton wanted to be) for just a little more than the cost of one spiderman costume at another store.  Additionally they only had two left on the racks and they were exactly the right sizes for my two hero monkeys.

4. We spent the afternoon yesterday at the children's museum.  We were the only people there the entire time (besides employees) and they had lots of new exhibits out since the last time we visited so the kids had even more FUN.  Though for some reason they all head first thing to the never changing grocery store.  And Kayd got some independent play time for his birthday.  He's so much like his mama sometimes it cracks me up.  I told KOJ on the way home that it made me wish I had a giant finished basement that I could set up in centers like that for the littlest ones and he says "No, what you wish you had was three people to go around cleaning up after your children" referring to the employees. lol  I agreed that I wouldn't be bothered by that either.

October also included a girls night with my mom and sisters, a playdate with my sister and her kids this week on Monday while her kids were out of school for an inservice day, a free showing of Madagascar 3 at the local theater on Saturday morning, and lots of regular school work and house hold duties.

Oh and I also began using a day planner.  I am really liking it.  I hunted down printables on pinterest and put it together myself.  I have a binder with monthly and weekly pages in it and a smaller folder with daily docket pages.  I have found that I tend to prefer the weekly pages.  I like seeing what I'm doing all week, moving things around if I run out of time on a given day etc.  I have it set up with a monthly calendar page where I jot down appointments, play dates, and other plans.  Then behind that I have a weekly menu planning page with spots for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the other page is a weekly planning page with all 7 days and a spot for extra notes.  I really like it.  I check off the meals I've used so I can see where I'm at with the meals I've planned each week, and I check off the tasks I complete on the list page.  It has kept me way more productive this month than I've been in a LONG time.

And on that note, it is Halloween and here in the spirit of keeping it real I will tell you dear readers that I need to go get a shower and try to do something about our kitchen before I feed and dress the kids in costumes to head out for some trick or treating fun tonight.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Parenting: attach it, detach it, DO IT!

I read an article this morning in which the author was rather high and mighty and incredibly judgmental.  She felt that somehow because her three year old daughter had slept through the night by 6 weeks old that she had figured it ALL out and that her parenting style was THE right one.  She was incredibly judgmental of what she termed the attachment parents she knows.  I read the article shaking my head.  I read the comments shaking my head even more vigorously.  I had so much just bursting out of me in response.

Let me start with this - we do a bit of attachment parenting.  I breastfeed my babies until they self wean when possible, I wear my babies in a sling at the super market (um hello, keeps me hands free to chase down the other ones!), our children sleep in our room until we think it's a good time to move them in with the older siblings.  I am by a lot of peoples' definitions an attachment parent. 

I do a bit of detachment parenting (I guess that's what people are calling it these days) in which I teach my kids to throw their own dirty diaper in the trash or hamper depending on diaper type as soon as humanly possible, my kids get out their own dishes at meal times, they put away their own laundry in their drawers again as soon as they are able, my husband and I go on dates without them.  I am by a good amount of peoples' definitions a detachment parent.

Now I will tell you what kind of parent I am, and what kind of parent I think YOU should be too.  Yes.  I'm going to tell you how to parent.  Are you ready for it?  Don't stop reading, I promise you'll like what I have to say here.

I am a parent who loves my children, learns their personality, meets their needs, and parents by instinct based on what seems to be working or not working for each individual child.

Sure we have house rules that all of the kids are expected to follow once they are old enough.  We discipline.  We give grace.  We totally screw up.  We love our children.


The one thing that struck me most while reading the previously mentioned article this morning is that the author has one child.  Ha.  One.  So basically she won the easy going first child lottery.  My sister won that lottery.  I did not.  My oldest was fussy, and clingy, and used me as a pacifier.  When I was pregnant with my second child at the same time as my sister was pregnant with her third she reminded me not to think that my second baby would be an easy baby.  I reminded her that my first baby hadn't been an easy baby and I was really sure it couldn't get worse.  Colton was totally winning the easy going baby lottery contest.  He was my best baby and is still my most easy going, easily adaptive child to this day at the age of 5.

Here's an example of why parenting intuitively for each child is so important.

Kayd - 8 mo and supplemented formula the whole time, continued with a bottle of milk before his daily nap and bedtime until about 22 months when he started refusing it on his own.
Colton - 11.5 mo, stopped cold turkey and went straight to sippy
Sawyer - 15 mo and going strong, made him stop because it hurt too much during my pregnancy with Sierra.
Sierra - 15ish mo and self weaned

Sierra - sleeping in a wrap while on a field trip to the fire station

Co-sleeping/sleeping in crib:
Kayd in crib at two weeks old - he and I kept waking each other up at night, I snore and I would wake at every little sound he made.  Slept through the night at about 6 weeks old - and by through the night I mean like 10 or 11pm until about 5 or 6am.
Colton - slept in the pack n play in our room until 8ish months then moved to the crib in Kayd's room.  Slept through the night by 3 weeks old, would wake around 5 or 6 and sleep with me a few more hours until about 8ish.
Sawyer - slept in a pack n play in our room until about 9 mo or so, moved to his own room, still waking several times a night, moved to his brothers' room at about 15 mo, slept through the night for about 6 mo and then started waking in the night again.  Goes periods of time without waking and then periods where he wakes and still comes to our room.
Sierra - slept in the pack n play in our room until just after her first birthday, moved in with her brothers and immediately began sleeping through the night in the crib.

my niece and Colton soundly sleeping in a local bookstore

I didn't intentionally do anything intrinsically different with each child but each of my four children is VERY different with different personalities.  Kayd was a super clingy baby but the minute he could crawl he became fiercely independent.  A sling would've been incredibly helpful with him as a baby.  Colton was snuggly and super easy going.  He could sleep in my arms or wrapped in a sling just as easily as he could be laid down awake and go to sleep on his own in a bed.  Sawyer was a mix of clingy and snuggly, slept well in his own bed for periods of time but just seems to need more snuggles and physical reassurance than the older two boys did/do.  When I began writing this post he walked up and demanded to be held for a minute.  It didn't stop him from walking at 7.5 months old or potty training himself just past his 2nd birthday.  Sierra, she is a creature unto herself that I could not even begin to put labels on.  Independent but still a toddler who needs her mama, she knows what she wants and doesn't want and goes at life accordingly.

So if you hear anything today hear this:  You are your child's parent.  God made it so.  Follow your God given instinct and parent each of your children in the way that works for that child.  Forget about labels like attachment and detachment parenting.  The RIGHT way to parent is the way YOU are doing it that works for YOU and your particular child.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kitchen re-organization

Every 6 to 9 months I feel possessed to rearrange the kitchen.  We've lived in this house for two years and sometimes I just get to a point where I say to myself "This setup just isn't working."

Now not everything was wrong with my kitchen.  The cans work great where they were and I liked the kids' snacks and potatoes in the cabinet where I had them.  But the bakeware was a problem as was the limited counter and drawer space.  I had also had an idea that I wanted to find space to implement.

I have this giant shelf in my kitchen that is open with no doors.  My mom suggested I put curtains there but to be honest I would HATE the hassle of moving curtains to get to stuff.  Lazy?  Perhaps but at least I know this about myself and didn't waste time with curtains.  When we first moved in I used these two shelves for pasta and cereal and canned goods as well as our plates and bowls and cups.  But it was messy.  No matter how "organized" it was it got messy quickly and was just an eyesore.

First before picture

old after picture

Moving the bakeware out where I can see it (and KOJ can see it) makes it easier to get what I need when I need it.  I also think it looks neater than the food stuff that changes on a regular basis.

The next thing I had to tackle was the counters.  I just felt like they were always so clogged and I needed more counter space.  So I did something a little bit radical and I took the microwave out of the kitchen.  I put it in the laundry room, near an outlet so we could still use it as needed, but it freed up a TON of counter space.  In the above pictures you can see that the toaster oven used to be underneath that shelf but now it's not.  This is what I did:


Moving the crock pot over here with the toaster oven also freed up more space on the counter near my mixer.  There is only ONE spot in my kitchen where my mixer can go because of it's height so I can't really move it around.

The food processor is now stored in the laundry room and the knife block is on the black coffee shelf.

I was able to move my sugar and flour canisters onto the baking counter next to my wooden spoons, spatulas, and measuring spoons.  Measuring cups are in the drawer on the right and hot pads and trivets are in the drawer on the left.  The cabinets underneath hold my extra flour, sugar, etc and our griddle which we use at least once a week.  The cabinet above has my regular baking ingredients - baking soda, cocoa, baking powder, salt, etc.

Above the stove I added this:

Which I bought at IKEA back in May.  It looks great and it opened up the drawer directly to the right of the stove for the hot pads and trivets.

I did a few more things but the last thing I'm going to mention in this post is the idea I had a while back but hadn't found space to implement.  I thought it would be cool to have an area where I could put stuff for our weekly meals all together so I didn't have to dig through the cabinets at the last minute.  So I did this:

The kids lunch stuff used the be on the bottom shelf with some old baby food.  I put our breakfast stuff on the top shelf with my cookbooks and the bottom shelf is our meal shelf.  I divided it evenly into 7 and labeled each space - meal 1, meal 2, meal 3 etc.  Now when I put away the groceries each little section gets the non refrigerated items for each meal put in it.  I'm still getting used to having this shelf - both when putting the groceries away and when getting out my stuff for supper.  But I think in the end we're going to LOVE it.

I also moved the kids' plates/bowls/cups and found a new space for our leftover storage containers but I'll do a 2nd post on those areas one day next week.  I also added a fun change to the cabinet where the kids' snacks were stored that I will share in that post as well.

Hope you enjoyed the changes I made to our kitchen organization and maybe got some new ideas for your own spaces.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hair bow holder DIY

Two years ago I was blessed with my fourth child and my first girl.  One thing I knew the instant I knew I was having a girl was that I was going to go hair bow crazy!  I LOVE hair bows on little girls.  I LOVE giant flowers on babies.  I went nuts.  Ok, so it could be worse, but still for being 2yrs old Sierra has a decent collection of bows and flowers for her pretty hair.

The trouble was storing them.  They were getting misplaced or smushed and ruined and it just wasn't working.  So one night a couple of weeks ago I got an itch to fix the problem and so I did.  I started with a black frame that I had in our closet.  I believe it's an 11 x 14 size.  Then I took some white grosgrain ribbon I had in our craft stuff.  Then I grabbed some paints and a paintbrush and my hot glue gun and I got to work.  First I painted the back piece of cardboard that goes in the frame.  I was going for a bright teal color.  It didn't turn out the exact color I wanted but it was close enough.  Then once that was dry I added pink dots for fun.

While the paint dried I hot glued lengths of ribbon every two or so inches - I eyeballed it, there was NO measurement involved - to the frame.  Once the glue and paint were dry I put the cardboard back in the frame.

Then I took two eye hooks and screwed them into the bottom of the frame.  Then I put elastics in one little metal pail and smaller bows/clips in another little pail and put them on the hooks. 

Voila.  A hair bow storage solution that looks totally cute on our bathroom wall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A heart for marriage

I have a heart for marriage.  Marriage in our country is under so much attack.  I've posted about marriage before and it's just not something that I feel like I can ever say too much about.  I'm not a marriage counselor.  I don't have any special credentials that make me an expert and to many my 7.5yr marriage to a man I've known and loved for 10yrs is pocket change and hardly anything to write home about.  But I am also the child of divorce.  I know what divorce is like from a child's perspective.  And that is not to say that I endorse staying married for the children because I don't.  I endorse staying married because you made a commitment to one another, children or no children.  I also don't endorse getting married because of pregnancy.  Two wrongs rarely make a right.

Marriage is meant to be a life long commitment and covenant between a man, woman, and God.  And in my opinion a covenant with God isn't something that anyone should enter into lightly.  Our society has made marriage a temporary thing.  If you get bored, or somehow become discontent or unhappy you can get a divorce and move on. 

I hate seeing love forgotten.

Here's what I think in a nutshell.

1 - communicate.  It's just so important.  It's the top thing that all marriage experts say.  Communication breakdowns are probably one of the biggest causes of divorce.  And communicating isn't just continually telling your spouse what you think they're doing wrong.  It's stopping, listening to each other, taking each other's words to heart, admitting when you're in the wrong - because whether we like it or not we are always in the wrong at one point or another, and moving on to be a better you for your spouse.  Sure it's not easy to hear Jay tell me that something I said or did bothers him.  I want to be defensive but in ten years of relationship with him I know that I'm often in the wrong and I have the power to change myself, my reaction to things.

2 - love.  Love is a verb as DC Talk was happy to sing to us when I was but a teen.  Love is an action word.  It's not a state of being.  It's a state of doing.  Sometimes my husband drives me batty.  Sometimes I am so angry at him I can't even think or see straight.  But always, always, I love him.  Always there is a part of me that could not imagine life without him.  Sometimes I become discontent with my life and I take it out on him and you know what?  He loves me anyway.  A week or so later I realize life is good and we all move on.  This happens monthly and still my husband loves me.  We choose to see the good in each other.  Sure I could focus on the negative.  I could get angry yet again that he hasn't washed the dinner dishes in two nights (his night chore).  I could get angry that his idea of cleaning up the chili that Sawyer spilled two nights ago was to toss a towel over it and leave it there.  But eh, it's life.  Why waste my time when I can choose instead to love that my husband took a vacation day to go with me to a flea market yesterday?  Love is a choice.  Jay and I are not the same people that we were when we met 10yrs ago.  But we have chosen to continue loving one another as we have changed and grown.

3 - let go of self.  There is not room for self interest in marriage.  There just isn't.  Once you are married life is not about you.  It is about US.  Now a good marriage will consist of a wife who wants to encourage her husband to follow his dreams, to be the best him that God created him to be.  It will consist of a husband who will encourage his wife in her dreams and want her to be the best her that God created her to be.  It will consist of sacrifices on the part of both to reach the goals that God has for that marriage.

4 - marriage should NEVER EVER feel like being under arrest.  I read the other day a statement that marriage is like being under arrest, anything you say can and will be held against you.  It should NOT EVER be that way.  I say stupid stuff.  I've had stupid fights with my husband.  He's said stupid stuff to me.  If we spent all of our time reminding each other of the hurtful things we've said in the heat of the moment it wouldn't be pretty.  It wouldn't be LOVE.  And this is most definitely NOT part of communicating.

Communication.  Love.  Forgiveness.  Grace and mercy.  Forsaking self interest.

1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It is not rude. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs.
Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up.

This is what marriage should be.  It may seem cliche but I read it right now as I'm writing this post and it rocks my heart to the core.  I want to be this in my marriage.  God wrote the prescription for a healthy marriage so long ago.

I have flaws and Jay has flaws.  We are human.  This is the way of life on this earth.  But we also have God and our marriage is a covenant between the three of us and where I fall short and where Jay falls short is where we have to depend on God to step in.  It's the only way.

After 10yrs together, 7.5 of them married, I still get all gooey for my husband.  I love him more now than I did 10yrs ago and I imagine that I will continue to love him more and more every year for the rest of our lives together.