I Know it's Fall...

...when all the local farms open to the public and offer hayrides and pick-your-own-pumpkins.

We visited this one on Sunday with my sister in law and her family. The girls pelted each other with straw

while Alec did his best Spidey impression on a pivoting suspended ladder in the barn. He actually did make it all the way to the top but couldn't reach the bell to ring.

One of the favorite activites was rolling around in these giant tubes like hamsters in a ball. The boys were laughing hysterically

as was I, while my sister in law gave me a ride to the bottom of the hill.

Later that evening, Marvin commented to me how much he enjoyed seeing me act (and I quote), "silly and youthful". "You're always so serious," he told me.
I chewed on that all weekend. I wasn't insulted, it just called to light something that has been ready to emerge for discussion. I do need to find more ways to lighten up and be a kid again.

How do you act like a kid when you're trying to be a parent?
Something to think about...
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Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Um- hmm, oh yeah! Check out these finds from our local Goodwill store today. I just had to post this in keeping with my last post about Ava's shoes.

Two brand new pairs of sandals for me and a very cool beaded necklace for around $11.
Doesn't get any better than that. Oh wait, it does! I also found a pair of Old Navy pants, a Vitamins Kids NWT (new with tag) shrug, and a velour Gymboree hoodie for Ava. Total new? Probably around $50. Total at our fabulous local Goodwill store? $6. Oh yes, I did say $6!!!

Lacie, I'll email you the *secret* location!
Go thrifting!
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Baby's Got a New Pair of Shoes!

Here are the adorable shoes I ordered for lil' miss Ava last night! They feature soft leather, a flexible sole for early walkers, and a REMOVEABLE squeaker in the heel. I hope my next post isn't titled "I Hate Squeaky Shoes"!!
Available at Wee Squeak
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Tiny Feet

I'm totally, undeniably obsessed with shoes. Of all the things I can put on my body, shoes always fit. Always the same size, no such thing as "fat shoes", can't match the way a great pair of heels makes a gal feel!

I've always liked shopping for the boys shoes also, but look out retailers; momma has a girl now! I've spent all my designated computer time for the last two weeks (maybe more like two months?) scouring the web for the best and most darling shoes for Ava's precious size 7 feet.

I'll go to a website, check out all the toddler shoes, find a brand I like, Google it, look at more stores, find another brand, Google that one, etc. I've browsed for shoes in China, the UK, Ireland and I think maybe Sweden. I stopped window shopping overseas when I realized that most of the time I had to double the price to get a rough estimate of what they would cost in American dollars!

I'm newly fascinated with the idea of the Squeaky Shoe. It's a shoe with a tiny squeaker in the sole. It encourages kids to walk heel to toe (that's the only way the shoe will squeak) and it's a fabulous idea for keeping track of a less-than-placid toddler. I did sigh with relief when I read that the squeaker can be removed by an adult if necessary, though!

Since it's getting colder out and I think it's no longer appropriate for Ava to be perpetually barefoot, I'm cooperating with a self-imposed deadline (although I'm sure a couple of my friends would also like to stop hearing about toddler shoes) to have a pair ordered by the time I go to bed tonight. No, that doesn't mean I'll stay up till midnight...


Life as We Know It

Eleven years ago today I married my best friend, my soul mate, the other half of my heart.

We met in high school when I was a freshman and Marvin was a junior. He chased me and I played hard to get until I graduated. We started dating then and and never looked back.

He proposed to me on Christmas Eve in the snow, on a ledge overlooking a ravine with white tipped firs and a waterfall stilled by the cold. I felt like I was on top of the world, and the fact that my new engagement ring didn't fit didn't matter.

I finished cosmetology school before we got married, and then we moved into a tiny apartment close to my salon and Marvin's bank. We spent our honeymoon on a tropical beach, making sun-kissed memories that we'll never forget.

When we said "I do" it was as natural to us as breathing. There was never any whisper of doubt in our minds that we were created by our Heavenly Father to be life-long companions, till death do us part.

I can not even imagine a more perfect partner for me to stumble through life with. He's the logical answer to my creativity. I'm the organization for his chaos. He's the net under my maternal tightrope. I'm the laughter for his jokes. He holds the key to my heart.

I love you, honey. I'd say "I do" all over again!

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Wordless Wednesday

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It's a beautiful day today. Mid 70's, bright blue sky, white puffy clouds, slight breeze. No sign of the dark sky and angry winds that sent tornadoes of green leaves and sticks down the street yesterday and smashed porches and cars with limbs of ancient trees.

Other than the large piece of our back yard tree that landed in the middle of the grass, our house and property were spared. We did spend the last 30 hours or so without electricity. Small potatoes compared to the devastation that the hurricane left down south. Not small potatoes compared to the conditions we're used to living under!

It's funny when a key part of our way of life is removed, we're almost completely paralyzed. I just couldn't think of what we normally do when we have power. My boys were fighting, the baby was fussing, and I was loosing my mind. I tried to think how I would feed us for the next 48 hours (the power company promised that the power would be on by Wed. night at the latest) without the use of our stove or refrigerator.

I had a chiropractors appointment this morning, but couldn't get through to the office to find out if they were still seeing patients. School was cancelled, so I packed all three kids into the car and then realized that I had no gas. The first station I came to had signs up saying, "Cash only". In a panic, I spent my only $10 cash on gas for $3.99/gallon and then broke down in tears. The thought of not having enough gas to drive to a bank to get more cash to I could get more gas just sent me over the edge.

I told myself, "Get a grip, sister!", found a gas station that did have power, and then spent the morning with Sarah at a local park. After lunch, another friend who lives a block away from me called my cell phone and told me that our power had been restored.

I spent the rest of the afternoon opening and closing the refrigerator and listening to the distant hum of chainsaws as our neighborhood cut it's way out of the wreckage. I just found out that our state has been declared in a state of emergency, and in our county alone over 36,000 homes are still without electricity.

When I was at home Sunday and this morning, I kept telling myself that it was OK. Look around, our house is still standing, dry and intact. We're fine and our kids are fine and our property is fine. Somehow it didn't matter. Without power, our house felt like a gilded prison cell. Like it was mocking me when I habitually flipped on light switches or reached for the phone. My "power" truly felt gone.

I am intensely grateful that we were spared any damage, and have a new appreciation for what the victims of natural disasters experience all over the world. Oh, and I hope school still isn't closed tomorrow!


Nothing to say. . .

I've sat down at least three times today to write a post and it seems that I have nothing to say. Nothing profound, nothing witty, nothing interesting or educational. I'm not exactly depressed, more like in a flat spot. So, here's all I've got:

Ava said "I love you" to me yesterday in her tiny, pixie baby voice. I'm sure an iceberg or two melted in Alaska when she uttered that precious phrase. I just about cried a river. See, Ava's a bit of a mommy's girl. (OK, that's putting it very mildly) I am fully aware of how she feels about me. But somehow, that knowledge doesn't quell the exasperation I feel when she's 6 inches from me during her every waking hour. That includes following the vacuum around, following me upstairs when I put away laundry, and of course following me into the bathroom. So, when she actually verbalized to me what all that elfin stalking represented, it was like a curt rebuke from my heavenly Father. I'm not perfect and no overnight change of heart will occur, but surely this newly coined three word phrase will be like cool rain on my often hot temper.

I've redone my FlyLady routines and the house is staying relatively neat and tidy. Strangely, as much as I despise clutter and general dirtiness, I have a very hard time staying in my routine. I have always had a very rebellious nature, and sometimes I feel the need to rebel against myself by just stepping over the same pair of shoes a hundred times instead of picking them up.

I'm hosting our mom's group this fall. We meet on Wednesdays. I love to host, but don't necessarily love to clean up the mess that 5 toddlers and three 4 year olds leave in their wake! We have wonderful group, right now we're studying the book "Having a Mary Heart" by Joanna Weaver. It's a great book, full of spiritual insights and practical applications to real life. Yesterday we talked about speaking the truth in love. How to confront a friend if they are straying spiritually, while having a godly, humble attitude. Tough stuff to do!

I'm still listening to Parenting with Love and Logic and am struggling with how to apply that advice to our situation. Alec is a bit of a fighter and an independent thinker; qualities that will serve him well in adult life, but qualities that are a bit challenging to deal with as a parent. Things are getting better, though.

A good friend of mine has recently gone through a very traumatic situation. She's struggling to cope and I'm struggling with how to be her friend during this. Should I stay away and give her space? Should I waltz in and offer pleasant, girly distractions from the depression that's written all over her face? Questions floating around daily, still not sure what the answer is. The only sure thing I'm able to do is pray, and pray I have, in a BIG way!

A very busy weekend is coming; we have two birthday parties and another party for the boys to attend. Somewhere in there we'll be going to church and maybe, just maybe, squeezing in some "just family" time. We've tried for the last month or two to make Sundays off limits to any plans or commitments, and to reserve it for just us or working around the house on a project. So far it's been working, and a very nice way to reconnect before heading into another busy week.


Wordless Wednesday

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A nod to MckMama's affinity for putting brilliant pink bows in Small Fry's hair! Thanks for the idea!
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The Son is Shining

"If I could define myself as a mom right now, it would be: angry, impatient, critical, and just generally grouchy." What?? Yes, it's true. I said this to a dear friend yesterday in search of some advice.

The thing she said to me that stuck out like a neon sign was, "When you're with your kids, just be." Even now as I'm typing that, it brings tears.

I constantly feel this overwhelming urge to look at the big picture. How can I use this moment to teach them some profound lesson about adult life? If they don't get along now will they be dysfunctional as adult siblings? If my boys disrespect me will they disrespect their wives? And how exactly, is all that relevant to the squabble between my 4 year old and my toddler about a train car?

Just "being" requires exactly that. Just dealing with what's right in front of me at that exact moment. I made a comment to my husband the other day regarding the current political race. He was wondering why I wasn't more interested in what would possibly shape the nation's future for our children. "I'm only interested in what's in front of me right now", I told him. "There's nothing more important to me than taking care of my family, today." If only I had actually heard what I had said to him!

I've been doing a lot of praying and thinking about how to apply this new-to-me notion of just "being" to my daily interactions with my kids. I won't say the Lord has changed my heart overnight; I'm sure this will be another long lesson for me in my journey to being a fruit-bearing woman of God. He did however, grant me a slice of "Sonlight" through my cloud this morning.

Alec held my hand as we walked to school. I enjoyed the quiet closeness instead of needing that extra hand to push the stroller.

On the way back, I listened to the clattering of Benji's big wheel on the sidewalk as I watched him deliver imaginary packages. "Special delivery for John Brown!" he would say as he heaved one in each direction. I marveled at his creativity, his skill at simultaneously riding and pretending to throw with both hands and his total adorable-ness instead of barking at him to go faster because we were hot.

Halfway home, I looked down and saw Ava in the stroller snuggling her Glow Worm and then giving it a drink from her sippy cup. The joy and astonishment of having a daughter washed over me all over again.

I am profoundly grateful to my Lord and Savior for granting me the honor of being a mother to each one of my kids. I love them and want their childhoods to be just that. A
childhood. Not filled with growing-up lessons or the critical words of an over-achieving mother.

I truly believe that if I just
be with them and focus on just one battle at a time, not the entire war, the big picture will be bright and sunny.


Wordless Wednesday

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