Thursday, February 26, 2009

Time out

So we have found ourselves of late battling with the stomach flu. We were not victorious, leaving us house bound for about a week. I should be bothered by these circumstances, but instead I almost enjoy it. Not in a Munchhausen frightening way. Left to my own devices, I would cloister myself up in my house, leaving only for brief trips to the library and bookstore. I possess the tools to be social. (well, I hope I do. I suppose that is a little bit like telling someone you are funny. Its probably best recognized by someone else.) But I find the most peace, the most balance when I am alone with my family, no social entanglements pressing in and reminding me to hurry up, get ready. I almost resent the intrusions.

Somehow this separation and quiet allows me to feel as though I am more present and connected with the little nuances of my life. I treasure the scent of my children right after a bath, that mix of soap and the outdoors we were not quite able to scrub off them. How they like to snuggle like wet noodles, the warm bath having soaked away their energy stores. I love the clamor they create in anticipation of dinner. Watching their faces drawn in rapt attention at a favorite show. The jokes they tell each other and the belly laughs body noises incite. The questions they ask about death, life, and love. The blooming of their imagination at play. I love that my children are so authentically and unapologetically themselves and they don't even realize it's not the norm yet. In those moments, they take me with them, transported back to a simpler time where imagination was reality, the simplest things the most valuable.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A day in the Life

Brian and Emma went out for some special time today. They went to see "Coraline". I suspected it was probably a bit much for the youngers, so they hung with me.

John endured Mommy's first attempt at a haircut. I spiked it blue as a consolation prize. It looks okay, but I dont like those stupid ear guides, it looks weird, next time I will just freehand it.

He has been going through an interesting phase. Somehow when he was sick he learned that if he sounded pathetic, I would do anything for him. I tried so hard to keep that info from the kids. He has been following me through the house whining for whatever he wants, we are so going to have to work on this.

Here is a recent conversation.....
John: Is my favorite mommy making me chocolate chip cookies

Me: ah, no John, I put banana bread in the oven.


Me: Sorry, mommy isn't making cookies today.

John: I HATE YOU, I WANT DADDY, I WANT COOKIES!!! (wash, rinse, repeat)

I told him to go in his room if he couldn't be polite. Then went in and found him curled up asleep... when he woke up lo and behold he was excited about banana bread.

Chloe is back home after spending a few days with Grandma and Grandpa. We missed her so much. Emma and John were excited the first night she was gone and they got all the attention, but by the second they were crying because they missed her. I love that they are so close....

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Momversation Monday, - Marriage

How do you keep the romance alive in your marriage with children? (especially if you homeschool)?

Brian and I aren't really romantic people in the traditional flowers, candy, and sappy words way. I pretty much count oil changes as romantic gestures. In his own way, he spoils me rotten. What we do share is a third grade sense of humor (this totally includes bathroom humor, we laugh hysterically at sponge bob square pants), the same taste in books, the same hobbies, the same interests, and we have the same ideas of a relationship. If we weren't married, we would so totally be best friends. All of that feels more solid to me than the romantic gestures.

Brian and I went through a huge adjustment period right after we had Chloe: a month later found out we were pregnant with John, had John, and then sank into life with three kids in diapers, who couldn't feed themselves, and needed all of our time. Wow, it was intense. While we still knew we loved each other, we felt distant, not so much in our hearts, but we had no time to just be around each other. We were constantly rushing trying to complete all our tasks until we finally dropped in utter exhaustion. We were really used to everything coming naturally and spontaneously, and it just didn't anymore.

I am really happy with where we are now, but in order to get here we had to make some very conscious choices. First, I had to start with me. I had to make the decision to put Brian first and to make him just as relevant in the parenting relationship as I was. It was challenging mostly because of his job, it doesn't give him as much time at home. But I had to make changes to make sure he had the same connection I did. So I had to get creative, we use technology, and really the blog is a huge part of this. He gets to see the pictures and the stories from the day.

I don't believe it is the ideal, or natural to put your children ahead of your marriage. I have a really good example for this though in my parents. They always made time for each other and to be honest, it provided a whole lot of security for us kids.

The second part of it was a bit more awkward. It was awkward because it felt weird planning for something that we kinda thought should be natural We had to be intentional about planning for time for each other. Not just like an evening for each other, but we make a point to hold hands when we are in the same space, to sit beside each other on the couch, to kiss often throughout the day. We try to stay in physical contact which has made a HUGE difference. We don't feel as distant anymore and it makes it much easier to move into a more intimate conversation or time together once the kids are asleep. It makes everything more natural in the bedroom as well.

For us, it has kept us deeply in like, and in love with each other. We both have the same gripes anyone who is married to the opposite gender does. We still have the same differences of opinions, but it has kept us connected and happy through all of it.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Dread Pirate John

It was thought that the Dread Pirate John, the most feared pirate of the west, had retired peacefully to the island of Patagonia. He is still plundering the open seas.... and taking baby hostages. He never leaves a hostage alive.... Poor baby

Luckily for baby Susan, Emma was there to snatch her back.

The tent cities, that have morphed into pirate ships, and townhomes, and I think I heard they were serving as the hall of justice too, are still a big hit around here.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Lord of light they were good shows.....

"Somewhere out in space live The Herculoids.. Zok the laser-ray dragon! Igoo the giant rock ape! Tundro the tremendous! Gloop and Gleep, the formless fearless wonders! With Zandor their leader, and his wife, Tara, and son, Dorno, they team up to protect their planet from sinister invaders! All-strong! All-brave! All-heroes !! They are The Herculoids !!!"

We had a good time today watching some of the oldie cartoons that Brian and I really liked as kids. Oh but they made me giggle. And they impressed the kids....

Valentine's Day

Happy V-Day to all our family and friends. I hope that you are overwhelmed with hugs and kisses

This is what my adorable husband left me on our mirror. It was awesome. I woke up and felt loved, which was nice, because I still smell a little like vomit... and a man who can love you through that is a keeper.

Yesterday was friday the 13th, and it was also the night Brian had off from work, so we made reservations and babysitting plans for the kids. Next time we will know better than to make big plans of Friday the 13th. I am not usually superstitious, but even I think there might be something to it. Of course John got sick, and not sick in a way you can hide with a little decongestant, he couldn't even hold down a mouthful of water. It was awful, the poor baby. Anytime the kids are sick like this its terrible, mostly because I am a sympathetic vomiter. It makes the situation a whole lot worse.

Just so you know I am not the meanest mom in the world who drags out the camera when the kids are sick, He wanted to take a picture for Daddy. Brian and I both were super worried about him last night, and John and I thought a nice picutre would help. He couldn't keep down any medication last night or any water and his fever was so high it was getting scary. We finally were able to coax him into a tsp of water every 15 minutes after I dug into the phenergan supplies.

he must be feeling better today because he has been so ornery today, and for some reason wants to go to "the store"? Its bizarre because normally he hates the store. If he keeps improving I promised a quick car trip to get Madagascar 2. Meanwhile this morning, the girls were busy building "tent city" in our living room.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Funny Sayings at our house

We have been busy, and kinda sick lately. So the writing has been kinda scarce, but the material from the kids just keeps coming.

At the dinner table...
Emma: That was yummy, I want to eat more, but I am too full.
Chloe: Just go to the bathroom Emma, then you will have more room.
(and we dont even LET them watch the Simpsons, I swear)

Our lessons on patience this week (you can read about them here).
Chloe: Mom, I'm a lost cause, I have NO patience.
Me: I know Chloe, that's why we are going to try to grow the little bit we all have.
Chloe: But mom, I don't think you have much either.
Me: Gee, thanks Chloe.

After a sibling spat
Emma: Moooooommmmm, Chloe is making me not be patient and she is doing it on purpose.

John: Mom, those girls won't listen to me. Can I have a brother?

Friday Fill in

1. It seems like __I never get enough done___. Even if I work nonstop.

2. ___Could you take your plate to the sink__ when you're done, please? Seriously, its what we are working on now. Its small, but it means alot.

3. If I thought you ___were leaving so early__ I'd __have gotten up to make you breakfast___! Seriously Brian, thanks for taking the bullet for me last night and getting up with John, even though you had to go to work today, it was awful sweet.

4. __Peace___ is what I think of most when I think of you. You being Brian and the kids. Brian you have brought such a great deal of peace to my life. I know its sappy, but its valentines and I am allowed, of course, its never stopped me before any other day either huh?

5. To me, Valentine's Day means __not as much as it used to___. Only because we have tried very hard to bring more of the blissful romance into our everyday relationship, instead of forcing it on Valentine's. When Brian buys me chocolate, or flowers on other days, it feels more genuine. Not that I would ever turn it down mind you...

6. _Love and Peace____ gives me strength.

7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to __a progressively healing child (cross fingers)___, tomorrow my plans include __Im late with this so it is tomorrow___ and Sunday, I want to __maybe sneak out for a belated Vday with the Hubs if no one else gets sick___!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Momversation Monday: Toxins in food

This is another issue dear to our hearts. We happen to have food sensitivities to artificial colorings, flavorings and some preservatives. So we try to eat as close to the source as we can, as close to how the food appears in nature. Now, just in the interest of honesty I should say that I am writing this while I stare at 24 rainbow cupcakes for Emma's scouts I got from target. Its like an artificial color-polooza.

But in out ordinary lives, we avoid high fructose corn syrup, and all the artificial colorings etc. At first it felt like an overwhelming change, especially the first two times I went to the grocery store and spent three hours reading labels.. But now, its just been a matter of changing the brand names we buy. I think this offers us "some" protection. Really, all it took for me was reading about how they process the artificial ingredients and how they start out. It icked me out. People have asked if making this change was more expensive. I suppose there are ways that could happen, but for us, I am making everything from scratch, so it has become a cheaper way of eating.

Once we started seeing the benefits, it really became worth it. Chloe's asthma and breathing problems were cut in more than half, all our skin rashes and weird reactions went away. We sleep better, and there is a much calmer atmosphere at our joint. Chloe and I have a physical reaction, but also an emotional reaction to the artificial ingredients. It feels like by making the changes we did, it gave her a chance to be who she really is, without her emotions being influenced by a reaction to the allergies.

Interestingly enough, she seems to "feel" the difference. The other day we were at Sam's and she really wanted Doritos with her hot dog, which are a no no for us. But I explained to her what they contained, and let her choose to have them anyway. After, she had the typical reaction of challenging behavior, mixed with hyper emotionality and anger with huge sleep problems. She looked at me in a puddle on the way out to the car and said, "Oh mommy, I never want to eat those again. They taste good, but they make me all jumpy inside". Yeah, I know exactly what she means, that exactly what happens to me with diet coke, every once in a while I have to drink one to remind myself...

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Happy 8th Day Miles!!!!!

Zoo Day!

I really do plan to post about the day tomorrow, but tonight, I am DEAD tired, it was traffic city with the problems on the freeway...ugh. But boy, did we have fun!

Living Room blanket forts

I have such happy memories of doing this as a kid. Emptying out my mom's linen/blanket closet and making a tent city in the living room. Good times... It was awesome to watch the kids come up with the idea on their own. I am always rather surprised in this age of high tech toys at the things that bring the biggest response. When I told them they could use the kitchen chairs, they were happier than Christmas.
Like all good engineers they started to get fancy, they learned which blankets do best as a base, which slip off, they started using the tops to my rubbermaid containers as doors.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Blissfully Domestic: Leaving the kids with Dad

I really like reading the blog over at Blissfully Domestic its one of my morning reads. Recently, their article was about giving dad his own time with the kids. Which was a lesson I had to learn very early or go insane. When we only had Emma, the poor guy had never been left alone with her, not because I didn't trust him, but somehow I got the notion in my head that it was my "job". Plus I was a little hyper involved. (Yes dear, I am willing to admit this now), with just one child, I was able to handle it, I didn't need the help and I knew he had been working hard. I mistakenly thought I was doing something "nice" for him.

When I had Chloe, the scales tipped. Immediately pregnant with John, caring for a newborn, and a 2 year old, all of a sudden, I needed him. I needed him desperately and fully trained RIGHT NOW. Sounds fair right? This also coincidentally was a hard part of our marriage. I needed help desperately, but I hadn't trained him to help me (I don't mean that in an insulting way). I had blown past him and prevented him from having the same experience I had. Whenever he had tried to help, I would have taken over. He hadn't had the opportunity to do his own trial and error.

Removing him from the "thick of the fray" also meant that he couldn't really empathize, he hadn't experienced the same things. Now I have to say at the outset Brian has never ever intentionally criticized my mothering skills or housekeeping abilities. But he would make "suggestions" trying to be "helpful". Even though they came from a good place, it made me crazy, it was like Monday morning quarterbacking to me. But in a sense, it was my own fault. Of course he was able to calmly evaluate the situation from an outside perspective..... Duh Jen!

Giving him his own time with the kids, without me legislating that he follow all the usual rules or do it my way, has had an awesome effect on us for the better. All of the above changed, the kids got to bond with Dad in an entirely different way. In their own way, without me being any part of it. I learned to butt out and realized that my way isn't better, its just different. The kids need a Dad who will feed them ice cream for breakfast, let them dress in their summer clothes during winter, go without brushing their hair, wear mismatched shoes and socks. He has taught them how to play fun games, how to run until they practically fly, how to play video games, and how much fun it is to be tickled until you almost wee yourself.

At the same time, leaving him with all the kids in full trust has given him a glimpse into what my days are like. What its like to try to fix a meal when everyone is in full whine mode, or how much fun it is to clean a room only to have the children follow after you messing it up. I think it has been a big huge plus for us all around.

I have to thank Keeling over at Confessions of a Mommy Blogger for giving me two bloggy awards. Check her out. She has some pretty great tips and the cutest family ever. Thank you!!! There is a whole ceremony associate with these that I will do in the next post!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

What happens when the waiter takes too long

Last night Brian decided to pamper me and take me out for dinner, .... with four children. It was awesome, we went to Red Lobster, which happens to be the place we have gone for so many of our special events. It was where we went to eat after we eloped at the courthouse.

John hadn't had a bath in recent memory, so it seemed like a good idea to bathe him since he was starting to outstink the dog. How did things get this way? He likes baths as much as our cat. So I threw him in the shower and held the door shut until he got wet enough to shampoo his hair. So for about 15 minutes he screamed at me in the shower, and then for another 10 minutes after. Again like the cat, he holds a grudge. Five minutes into our restaurant trip, he feel asleep from sheer exhaustion.

The waiter was a little slow this the service, and so I lent the kids my camera for something to do, which is how I got the Chloe montage