Friday, June 19, 2009

What we won't do for our kids

Okay, party time! This weekend is the big number seven for my oldest son. He is so excited for his birthday. We will be bowling with friends for the party. Wahoo! We try to make both boys partys fun and exciting. Usually we have an outdoor party here at home but this year I caved. Let someone else host the event so I don't have to clean on the off chance a little party person might have to use the bathroom and actually have to enter the house.

So now my responsibility is the cake. On this point I have not caved. I will make the requested cake as I have done for each birthday since day one. I want each boy to have the cake that matches what they want and not have to pick from a few selected options at the local supercenter.

So when I asked Mikey what kin
d of cake he wanted this year, I expected the usual answer of a car or a sports field or other "boy" idea. Not my kid.

"Mom, I want L.E. (his stuffed elephant) and Hippo (also stuffed) sitting in the stands holding signs." ?!?!?!?!?

You can imagine the following discussion: what kind of stands? ~you know like at the field. by the baseball field? ~Yes. Okay, stands like bleachers, do you want the field too? ~ no just the stands, with L.E. and Hippo sitting in the center holding signs. What should the signs say? ~Number 7 and Happy Birthday.

Sure I say. Okay for tomorrow I have to

So to answer the question: What won't we do for our kids? Nothing. We would do anything for our kids including
building bleachers out of cake and frosting strong enough to hold an elephant and a hippopotamus. I wonder how tough buttercream icing really is.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My grandmother has a magnet that reads "Housework, if done correctly, is fatal." I totally agree. I have already admitted that housekeeping is not my area of expertise. So if I can put it off I will. Therefore, my "to-do"list is never short. Yes, I realize that if I would do a few things each day off the list, I would keep my list short and the house would be presentable.

I have tried this method several times before. I am very good at it for about a week (at the most). Then something comes up or I give myself a "day off" and I lose momentum. Back to piles of clothes, paper, and dishes. So here I am back under the piles, trying to find the top.

I realize I lean to far to the side of enjoying my children, my hobbies, (my sleep) to the point of ignoring the house. I would be able to relax more often and better if I would just get the work done. Then it wouldn't be weighing on my shoulders.

Yes it is true that there will always be housework. It is true that it will never be truly "done". It is also true that children are not children forever. But our home must be livable or childhood will not be any fun for the boys.

So somehow it will all have to blend together. I will have to think about it while I fold the next couple loads of laundry.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


For those of you who know me, you know I love to read. On car trips (any over half an hour) I have at least three books in the car and a couple on audiobook. I read while I exercise on the treadmill. I read in the tub. I read while I do my hair (book weights are a wonderful invention). If I have the chance, I am reading.

I want my boys to love reading too. So this summer, we have joined three library summer reading programs. To motivate the boys to read, there are prizes available. For reading a certain number of books or for a set amount of time, the boys receive tickets. Then they can put the tickets in the buckets that match the prizes they want to win.

We are off to a great start. This week alone we have read the entire book "THe Boxcar Children." It counts for me to read aloud due to the ages of my boys. We have read several other books as well, but I have discovered that I can offer to read aloud anytime during the day and the boys will say "yes". They couldn't wait to see what would happen and how the book would end.

It is so fun to watch them really get into a good book. One day after reading a couple of chapters in the late afternoon, the boys couldn't wait to tell their dad about it when he got home from work. The conversation at supper was fun, listening to the boys try to out talk each other to tell their favorites parts.

I am so glad my boys are reading and enjoying it. Next trip to the library, we will have to get the next book in the series so I can read more about Henry, Jesse, Violet, and Benny. But for now I have to go read my own book. I can't wait to see how it ends.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Technology, Ain't it grand

In the game of technology, you might say I'm a bench warmer. I may not be in front line of action, but at least I am in the stadium. Sometimes I find myself trying something new with my electronic gadgets. I don't always read the directions and usually find myself so lost in big words I can't figure out how to back out safely.

Today, I tried to download a ringtone. Sounds simple. I found the one I wanted (for free no less), downloaded the file, and poof I have no idea where it went. It is somewhere on my phone, but darned if I know where it is. I will probably find it next week in a photo file.

While technology is great for certain things. I have to remember my family does not live in "sleep mode" while I try to figure out the difference between WAV files and JPEG. So now I will let the computer be on standby while I go download some fun with my kids.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My God is Awesome!!

Can I tell you what God did for me today?
I was able to meet my hubby for lunch today at Chick-Fil-A. When he arrived, he looked worn out and a little frazzled. He said the phone had not stopped ringing all morning. He couldn't finished one necessary task before he was needed for another. I asked what I could do to make his homecoming this evening a retreat from the hectic day at the office. He asked that the boys be in a good more and there not be any stress in the house. Right. He knows I have only so much control in the universe, but I would try.

When I got home, I took a look around. The yard needed mowed. Knowing my husband, as much as he would try to relax. THe yard would be lurking in the back of his mind (ladies, think of the piles of laundry and housework that won't let you go when you sit down to read a book or other such relaxing activity). I wanted my husband to be able to do what he wanted to do when he got home, and not be bothered by something he should do. So I mowed the back yard (see previous post as to condition of back yard). As I mowed, the sky started clouding over and the air got heavy. Rain was going to happen.

"Father," I prayed. "Please hold off the rain until I finish the back yard, please? I would really like to get this done for Mike. So please, hold the rain for just a few more minutes?" Okay, so I sounded like a spoiled brat even in my own ears. So I hustled. Praying all the while. THe closer I got to finishing the yard, the more thank you's dotted my pleas. As I mowed the last strip of dry lawn, I was praising and thanking. God is so good.

I shut down the mower, parked it in its place in the garage, and walked back out to the driveway only to be met with rain. Yes, rain. God does indeed care about our individual lives.

Am I such a perfect person with a direct line to the heavenly throne that God listened to me? Not by along shot, just ask my family. I believe God cares about what we care about. Today, I cared about easing my husband's stress level and needed a delay in the rain to get it done. God allowed me to do just that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

At The Playground

Playgrounds are so much more than a slide and a set of swings. Today, the boys and I headed to a newly discovered play space in the next town over. It included a castle, a rocket and more slides than a baseball game (although one of those was happening in the next field over).

Once on a playground, introductions are unnecessary. Fun is required and chasing is a given. Within two minutes of the boys crossing the railroad tie boarder into the mulch, a game with no apparent rules that everyone understands. The boy in the black shirt chases my boys until they are blocked by the boy in the red shirt. Then my boys split, climb to the highest point on the play ground, and it all begins again.

This continues for at least a half an hour, until the boy in the red shirt falls and hits his mouth against a wooden beam. The game comes to an immediate stop and all of the boys walk him carefully to his adult and explain (even though she saw it all) exactly what happened. Only after they make sure he is in good hands, do the remaining three boys return slowly to the playground.

Play continues until I give the five minute warning. Then the boys explore to make sure they have climbed, slid, and crawled over all parts of the equipment. Once in the car, the play-by-play begins.

"Remember when the kid in black....."
"Yeah, and then the kid in red..."

The boys go over each action and reaction for 10 of the 15 minute ride back home. It only ended because Matt fell asleep mid-sentence. They played hard.

Maybe adults should follow playground rules sometime. Get right into the game. Play hard. If someone gets hurt, play stops until the injured party is in good hands and is going to be alright. Then play resumes. Everybody's friends.

Even the adults at the playground's edge have a set of rules. If the adult (mom, dad, grandma, babysitter, whomever) has a book or ipod, you leave them alone. They are probably using the time to escape. That is just fine.

Rule #2. Share your bench. One person does not take up an entire park bench. You have to be willing to share with another very tired and exhausted adult. You don't have to talk, but it would be nice if you gave a kind smile "hello" before you go back to your book or ipod.

Yeah, I could live by playground rules: be nice, play together, share. Sounds good to me.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


What a day! After Mikey got off the bus on Thursday, we jumped in the car to begin our summer fun. We spent over an hour and a half at the library picking out books and signing up for the summer reading program. Then ready for lunch we headed to Chick-fil-A. We love that place! They have a wonderful play space for the boys and I can sit out side the glass enclosure, watch the boys play, and read my library book.

Once the boys got all the wiggles out of their system, we continued on with our "Schools Out" adventure and headed to the theater. Mikey and Matthew have only been to the movie theater one other time. Mikey to see "Cars" and Matt to see "Tale of Despareax". The three of us headed in (Mr. Fredrickson-style 3D glasses in hand) to see "UP". The boys loved the movie and the 3D effects. The ending got a little intense for Matthew and he spent the last 30 minutes on my lap asking "when is the movie going to be over?" I think I will wait a little longer before taking him to the theater again. But I really did enjoy the movie.

It was a fun day and the boys slept soundly that night. Last night, I had a girls' night out. The leadership team from the moms' group at church took me out to celebrate four years of our ministry called "Moms 24/7". I have stepped down fom the leardership team and Olive Garden was where we went for me to say goodbye and welcome the new leader. It was a fun evening full of friendship and laughter. We even splurged on dessert. Nothing like chocolate to end a great meal with even better friends.

I appreciate the fact that celebrations are not everyday. If they were a regular occurance, it would not be any fun. No matter if the occasion is with family or friends, it is the time together that makes it special.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Last Day of School

Wasn't it just yesterday that I was taking Mikey's picture for the first day of First Grade? Now here it is the last day of school. Mikey is excited. He will only be in school for two hours (!?!?!) and knows he will be playing games the whole time. Matthew is looking forward to having his brother around the house for the entire day again. You can only play so many games with Mom and run so many errands.

I am excited for the possibilities of summer. Trips to the library, the park, to Idle Wild. Visits to grandparents, aunts, extended family. Vacation to the beach, overnight camping trips, camping in the backyard or in a tent built in the dining room (always have a backup rain plan). Summer is meant for exploration.

I don't want to overplan summer. I want the boys to be active, playing with friends, playing organized ball. I want them to enjoy summer with out a lot (but some) responsibilities. In the fall, both boys will be in school Monday thru Friday. Matt half day. Mikey full day. My time with them is limited and I want to make the most of it this summer before school work and other committements crowd in.

So today I will ready my tote bags: one for the library, one for the park, one for the general needs in the car, and one for IdleWild. I don't want to waste a minute of summer. Mikey just got on the bus, in two hours he will get off the bus and Summer will Begin!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fixing Cars and Building Tents

I must admit, boys are a mystery to me. I am not talking about grown men, I am talking about the two little people running around my home. Growing up, there were no boys in my house. I have two sisters. I am not used to the energy nor the imagination that boys have. In the house of my childhood, there were dolls, Barbies (totally different category than just dolls), books, and boardgames. Now, since there are no children in this house that lean towards "pink", my house is overrun with matchbox sized cars, action figures, Lego blocks, balls, and Nerf guns.

In the past few months, my boys have discovered a new level of imaginative play. They are talking about people dieing in battle, shooting the bad guys, and cutting heads off with swords. For those of you who know my husband and I, we are not violent people. We screen the boys limited TV time. We are selective about their computer games. And it was with great hesitation that we finally allowed Nerf guns in the house this past Christmas. Where did these ideas come from?!?

Due to my background, it is not uncommon for me to turn to Mike and say, "Honey will you check on the guys? I don't know if they are being too rough or if it is just a guy thing?" I have learned there is a fine line. More often then not, Mike does not return from checking because he has joined them in their play. I guess it is a guy thing that I still have yet to learn.

I will say that as the mom of two boys ages 4 ("and a half") and ("almost") seven, I have become something of a mechanic. I have fixed countless paper airplanes, model cars, and even helped build a few vehicles from different construction toys (Lego, connects, Tinker toys). I have also become an amateur architect due the tents I have designed from tablecloths, pillows, chairs couch cushions, sheets and even a table or two. Thanks to my boys, my imagination has not withered away.

I know God created men different from women. Men are the protectors, providers, defenders. Can women do these things? Yes, but God created women to be the nurturers and caregivers. Dads take the guys out on adventures and come home bruised. Moms watch the adventures and are standing by ready with the band-aids and a hearty snack to energize them for the next exploration and discovery.

I love being the mom of boys! The fun and laughter are never far away. There are many ballgames in my future and maybe some track meets too. I will be the team mother bringing cookies to the warriors win or loose. I am looking forward to those days, but I am not wishing away the days I am in now. I am the voice of the female action figures that somehow managed to find their way into the boys' club (Wendy Waters and Aeriel Flyer, Rescue Heroes to name a few). I build racetracks and supply activities for the rainy days when we are stuck inside. I chauffeur to Idle wild and parks to run off the extra energy that oozes out of male pores.

I love my guys. They may run to Dad when he gets home, begging him to play ball with them. But they run to me for a band aid and ice when they fall or for a drink and snack during the time outs. Yes, I do get in on a game now and then, too.

Mothering girls? You would have to ask my mom or my sisters. I could go on all day about mothering boys but I can't. There is a Nerf war going on and I have to go find my gun and some ammo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If any one reading this hs not seen the movie "Fireproof" yet, I highly recommend it! It is a Christian movie about a crumbling marriage and steps that can be taken to save it. Even if your marriage is solid, watching this movie will only strengthen it more. It will enable you to look at your marriage from a different perspective. It will help make your marriage safer from things that could interfere with the relationship you have with your spouse.

My wonderful husband and I have seen the movie 1 1/2 times. We watched it together at home and then attended a great Sunday School class based on the movie. I learned more stuff the second time I saw part of the film.

Now we are working our way thru the book inspired by the movie, "The Love Dare". Please, don't get me wrong, Mike and I have a wonderful marriage. We are fully committed to each other and our boys. We also realize that no marriage is perfect and each of us can improve and work harder to make our relationship better.

That said, day 2 of the love dare is to do an act of kindness for our spouse. Something unexpected, unasked for, and something thoughtful. It made me realize how much Mike does for me and how often I take what he does for granted even if I thank him for doing it.

Yesterday, Mike set out to mow the grass. Matthew wanted to help. So while Mike trimmed and then mowed yard Matthew watched and waited for his daddy to be done so he could help him. Matthew was willing to help with anything. So after Mike finished the front and side yards, he could take patient, waiting glances of his son no longer. Leaving the backyard uncut, Mike and Matt, soon joined by Mikey, started putting some shelving together for the basement storage area. It was great to watch my three men working together to accomplish a task. The shelves didn't get finished until later, because the boys could only reach so high, so playtime with Dad quickly ensued. Baseball, football, kickball, various forms of ball were played before bedtime. Mike and I finished the shelves about 10:30 last night.

Where does the act of kindness come in? Well, Mike and Mikey had T-ball practice tonight, so while they were gone, I finished mowing the back yard. Now for those of you who are not familiar with the area where we live~ there is not a level inch of sod on our property. Our land is either slanted up, down or sideways. I seldom mow. My main tasks are inside the house while Mike takes care of the outside. I had forgotten how much effort and strength (even with a self-propelled push mower) it takes to get the job done. When Mike mows there is a nice even pattern in the grass. The yard looks smooth. After I mow, you can see crooked lines and a few pieces of grass that managed to dodge the blades of the mower. Doing this "act of kindness" for my husband, showed me how much he does for me each day. Yes, I thank him each time he mows the yard, but I had forgotten just how much I was thanking him for.

Mike, Thank you. Our yard looks great, just don't look too close in the back.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bi-annual Clothing Switch

One down and one to go. At the end of each spring and fall, the off season clothes must be switched. There is not enough drawer space in either of the boys rooms to hold both warm weather and cold weather clothing. So 'tis the season to sort. What is too small must be set aside for hand-me-downs. What is the wrong season is packed in the rubber container. And what is worn out must go. Some of the worn out items are hard to part with. Not only have my two boys worn it but my nephew also wore it before them. I remember one outfit I bought for my nephew before my oldest was born. Once he outgrew it, my sister passed it on. I smiled as I put it on Mikey for the first time. The little train on the knee of the pants wasn't as bright as when I bought it a few years before, but they were in great shape. My silly grin turned into a sad smile as I packed them away after Matt could no fit in them. The train on the knee had traveled many miles on its two inch track at the knees of those three boys. Now a friend of mine has them. The train chugs on powered by the energy of her two boys.

Tomorrow I begin in Mikey's room. Drawers that were tidy in the fall, can only be shut with brute force. The closet doors will close if only to hide the disorganization inside. Do T-shirts multiply on their own? If they do, are they eating the missing socks for fuel? All of the shirts fit in his drawer in September and all the socks had mates. Now, t-shirts are hanging from drawers, the closet shelves, and the lonely sock club at our house has at least 20 new members from Mikey's room alone. Maybe I'll find them tomorrow during the sorting.

Much of today was spent sorting Matt's closet and drawers. He tried on all of his "Sunday" shirts and every pair of shorts coming out of the bin I packed last fall. A few tears were shed when he realized he could no longer wear some of his cherished clothes. I also got to see several versions of his happy dance as clothes fit and he like the style, color, or feel. Now his closet is neat. All of his drawers can shut. And I can see carpet in his closet once again.

This year as I pack away the clothes that are too small for Matthew. My sad grin was a curious one. My cousin and his wife are expecting a son in the fall. He will be the next boy in line for these cloth memories if they want them. I know it will be years (it will seem like the blink of an eye) before he will wear them, but there is a little basketball t-shirt packed away that will be waiting to see the court again.

Thanks Cole for the hand-me-downs.

Baseball- Big and Small (Part 2)

Yesterday, I blogged of our trip into the city to watch the Pirates. You may have been wondering where the small part of baseball comes in. Well, that is today.

Mikey (age 6 "and a half") is playing T-ball this summer. I should say it started out as t-ball, but now it is coach pitch. I am happy to report that Mikey can indeed hit a moving target. He hits well and the ball does most often roll all the way into the grass of the outfield. Once it even landed there. A true double! Now I will admit the fielding skills of this group of 4-7 year olds is not that of a well oiled machine. The ball in this league travels much slower than the runner, but they do try. Outs are made if the ball is hit directly to second base and it is a force out or the runner does not realize his (or her) hit is not a foul ball and does not run. Ah, beginner baseball.

There are a few of the older kids who show some fielding skills. (Biased mother warning!) Mikey almost caught a fly ball at Saturday's game. He was playing shortstop and the batter connected with the ball, sending it in a high arch in Mikey's direction. He moved the few steps needed and got under the ball, glove raised. The parents on our side of the field hushed and leaned forward knowing what a great accomplishment this would be.

Smack! The ball landed squarely in Mikey's glove, there was an intake of breath by the parents, then the dastardly ball dropped from the leather to the dirt. The parents let out a forlorn "Uhh". Mikey picked up the ball and threw it towards first base to complete the play (batter was safe due to slightly off throw and missed catch by firstbaseman).

I cheered. Not because I was rooting for the other team but for two other reasons: 1) Mikey actually (for a brief moment) caught the ball. He was trying hard and was not scared of the ball falling down at his head. 2) There were no tears over dropping the ball. He stayed in the game and was happy with his attempt. Will he try harder next time? Yes. Will he remember to use his other hand to cover the ball and keep it in the glove? Yes. Will he remember the time he dropped the ball and missed the out? No. He will remember it as the time he almost caught a ball "from midair".

I love beginner baseball. It is not a game to sleep through. I would miss the great accomplishments of rising stars (my guy, being one of them).