Wednesday, June 29, 2011

it's the little things..

It's a frightening moment when, while folding laundry, there is a considerably LOW amount of clean underwear for two boys. It was obvious that they weren't changing underwear as much as I'd hoped.

My sister, does something that I thought I'd give a try: tell them to put on clean underwear at night when they put their pj's on. (and considering that most nights the underwear IS the pajama.. it makes sense).

Now I am happy to report that I am washing/folding a LOT more little boy underwear.

Also, I think I should note that my husband is a genius. I have long loathed the bed time routine only because of brushing teeth for the kids. I seemed to think time efficiency was the goal so I would round up all of them and get them to brush their teeth all at the same time. It would nearly put me over the edge. Everyone spitting on each other, water everywhere, mommy's feet getting stepped on..etc..

Then one night my husband was handling this routine and he was, GASP, bringing them in the bathroom GENIUS!! Why didn't I think of that??

I promise.. it's the little things that make all the difference..

You got any "little thing" ideas that seem to make life run more smoothly for you?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Feedback on the world of blogging..

I thank you all that encouraged me after my post, that was an attempt at transparency. I am not surprised at those that are refreshed to hear honesty, especially in the world of blogging.

I wanted to share one comment from a friend, that really says what is in my head and heart.

"I appreciated your honesty Rachel! Not only is there a lesson to be learned in writing blogs, but there is also a skill to be had in reading them. Often, I have found myself comparing, feeling guilty, arguing in my mind, etc. I've had to fast blogs at times because of that! I need to remember that blogs are documented journeys. It was so great for me to hang out a bit with you and other "mommy bloggers" on our last trip, and be reminded that you all are very real women and your kids are real too! Not that you have built a facade here, but only so much can be seen online. Hopefully these blogs can be encouragements to all of us as we journey on this crazy road called motherhood."

Very well said Emily. Thank you.

I absolutely agree "that there is a skill to be had in reading" blogs. If you find yourself comparing or feeling guilty it may be time to take a moment of reflection and realize that one of two things could be happening.

1. The "problem" is the blog. The writer is comin' on strong with the hints of "this is how you should do things," "if you aren't doing this, you have a problem," etc. This was my trap as the writer. I would often times do it subtly but it was there. Heck, I even had a parenting tips tab. (it may still be there). Bottom line: if a blog shares opinions. That's great. But the writer is telling you that's how you should do things.. then you may want space yourself.

2. The "problem" is you. If the writer of the blog isn't doing the above and yet you still find yourself feeling guilty, you may have to do a personal inventory and ask yourself some hard questions. "Why do I feel guilty?" "Is this an area that I am currently struggling in?" I have personally gone to a blog and seen how the mom had a picture of her kids brushing their teeth at night and talked about how great her kids did at it. I felt guilty. Why? because I often forget to get my kids to brush their teeth at night. HA! That's not the fault of the blog writer. She is probably pretty excited that her kids can brush their own teeth with little assistance.. but me? I loathe the process because my kids do things like: spit the nasty toothpaste mix all around the sink.. but not in it, or they rub the toothpaste in their hair or have even spit on each other. So yeah.. when I see a pic of a happy bunch of kids doing a bang up job I think, "wow, i bet if I worked with my kids more on that they would actually learn how to do it too."

Anyway. Here's my point. Not all blogs tell you the in between of their daily posts of bliss. And not all blogs detailing bliss are trying to make you feel badly. But it is a skill to learn the difference. Keep in mind, as Emily said, that it's all a journey.

Some of us just choose which parts to document.

Have fun blog hopping. And keep your wits about you.

Friday Fun Facts

1. I don't drink coffee.

2. I often forget to call people back. And I rarely check my voicemail.

3. I just figured out that "spot mopping" is waaaaay more practical than "real" mopping.

4. I haven't eaten Taco Bell in almost three months.

5. #4 is a BIG deal because I used to go about 2-3 times a week. wow.

6. I've lost my inspiration to take pictures. I think it has something to do with the heat. Yup, Im pretty sure that's it. This Alabama heat is not nice.

7. My waiter bought me a drink last night while out with some girlfriends. It was a non-alcholic drink because I was telling him that alcohol makes me get a headache (can you say "lightweight?"). My friends were enjoying some 'rita's and I was drinking a diet coke. I guess he wanted me to "look" like I was enjoying myself a little more. ha! (although, I was the one laughing the loudest.. but that's just me).

8. I seriously need to clean my house. but the fact that we have gone somewhere every day this week has kept cleaning from happening. The plan is to stay home next week to potty train miss Eva. Again. But for real this time.

9. I am doubting my ability to potty train another child.

10. I loathe potty training. LOATHE.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I'll give you ONE guess...

Wanna guess how a pan of brownies ends up looking like this?:

That girl.
(and yes, she does this in stealth mode).

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

thankful for milestones..

I love when a milestone hits.

And I'm not talking about walking, talking or clapping.

I like the milestones that bring independence with them. Or that usher in a new calm in our house.

Take for instance the event pictured below. Imagine classical music (Vivaldi, to be exact) playing in the background. And complete silence (other than my man V).
My two older boys sitting happily on the floor drawing in their "dream journal" books. (Technically, it's just a book for them to draw in but they got that name from a movie they've seen.)

I also noticed, after the shot was taken, that they are both sitting the same way. One right handed the other, left.

It's a neat milestone that I thought would never come when they were 3 and 2 and screaming like banshee's all over my house. And just the thought of them sitting still to color was sheer torture.

Alas, one more thing that older moms told me would happen in time.. and it's happening.

Just in time for the younger two to scream like banshee's in my house.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

in which I apologize to friends and strangers alike..

if you are new to my blog.. this may seem strange.

If you have been "following" for any amount of time (over a year) then this may make perfect sense.

I've experienced a lot of growing up in the last year of my life and it pains me that anyone new to my blog could take a look into prior posts and see what I "used" to be like. So to spare your time I will sum it up. I used to use my blog as a way to vent, preach or (as I liked to call it) "teach."

*I thought I had all the right answers.
*I thought I had to share all my opinions with everyone. Even if you didn't ask for my opinion.
*I thought I needed approval from others and for them to validate what I thought was "right."
*I thought I needed a place to "speak my mind."
*I thought a good "friend" was someone who wasn't afraid to tell you what they thought.
*I thought that it was my responsibility to tell you how your children, marriage and life (in general) could be made better, if you only would do ________ (fill in the blank).
*I'll even confess that I got adrenaline rushes from negative responses to my posts and would therefore desire to "stir the pot" just to get that rush.
*I'll confess that most of my life (up until this point) I have understood little about what a true friend is.

So, now what?

*I thought I had all the right answers. I realize I don't have all the right answers. In fact, so much of what I thought was "right" wasn't so right after all. (I'm speaking of my "ones size fits all" legalistic view of life).
*I thought I had to share all my opinions with everyone. Even if you didn't ask for my opinion.Turns out, that is what pushes people away. And even if there are a few people who agree with me, they don't want to be friends with someone who pushes their views on people.
*I thought I needed approval from others and for them to validate what I thought was "right."This is huge for me. I don't have to gain any one's approval for me to be okay with me. I am a beloved daughter of a King. He loves me, good, bad and ugly. I am who He made me to be. Therefore, I don't need to seek the temporary approval of anyone. I don't have to run on that "performance treadmill." I am accepted by the One that matters most. There has been so much freedom in owning this.
*I thought I needed a place to "speak my mind." I realize that most of the things I was doing that with, were not worth the loss of relationship. An easy lesson for some, but I take a while longer than others to get things into my noggin'.
*I thought a good "friend" was someone who wasn't afraid to tell you what they thought. I think it's safe to say that after pushing away enough people, I am learning what makes a valuable friend. I used to not be a "safe" place for people. I am learning what that looks like now.
*I thought that it was my responsibility to tell you how your children, marriage and life (in general) could be made better, if you only would do ________ (fill in the blank). A lot of my posts were not "in your face" as much as they were subtle in this regard. I would go on and on about how I "do things" around here. That, I now know, was possibly heaping judgement, guilt and possibly shame on other moms. The truth is that even when I thought I had the answers, I would never admit that my own life didn't meet my own expectations. There was the rub. But I would never post about that. Until now.
*I'll even confess that I got adrenaline rushes from negative responses to my posts and would therefore desire to "stir the pot" just to get that rush. And every time I would say, "I'm not trying to start a fight, promise." But yet, inside of course I loved it. It was attention. Negative or not. (It's gross, I know.)
*I'll confess that most of my life (up until this point) I have understood little about what a true friend is. Thankful for those that have stuck around, patiently loving on me while I work through tough lessons. Proving that a faithful friend loves at all times. Not that they put up with my junk, but they are quick to show love and grace.

Here is the bottom line:
I am not going to delete years of blog posts, but please know that God is changing me. It's hard, scary and very humbling. And for all those that I have hurt, offended and basically pushed away, I am truly sorry.

Monday, June 20, 2011

the magic walls in my house..

My sister doesn't believe me. She thinks that if i just kept my kids from napping for, I dunno, 10 days.. then they would sleep in later. Well, the TRUTH is.. my house has magic walls. It matters not what we did that day, if they had a nap or not, my kids (or one of them) will wake up at the 5:45-6:15 range. The only time that my children sleep past 7 a.m is when they are babies. And even then they wake up in the wee hours of the morning, nurse and then go back to sleep.

Here you see Alex, up and playing with his Army men by 6 a.m.

even though it's early, it is still cute.

a little bit.

What time do your kids wake up?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

He needs attention.. obviously.

Look at that face, will ya? I mean seriously, how do you ignore a face like that? It's impossible. Especially when that face is now trying to rival his big sister's "Dennis the menace" mentality of life.

I snapped this picture and almost missed his guilty expression. Did you notice what he was doing? Taking the cover off the AC vent. Of course, he got a "no no" from mommy, thus the look. Adorable.

This is the outcome of me trying to unload the dishwasher with Isaac anywhere near the kitchen. Yup, he's trying to stand on his head.

But don't worry.. she

{sigh}.. i stay busy. no?


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Operation Organize: Treehouse.

As I said in an earlier post, the decision to "organize" our house came from the realization that while it was still on the market (and has been for a year) we needed to accept that this was our house indefinitely. And we were happy with that.. but we just needed to make it our own, again.

That process started with my husband and his deciding that whether it was an eye sore or not, he was going to build the kids tree house. A process he started when we originally put the house on the market a year ago, but took down when the realtor said that a tree house may not appeal to all buyers. So, believing we would sell quickly, we held off on the tree house. Until last week. My husband said, "that's it. I'm building it."

So this was the beginning of our "Operation Organize" even though a treehouse isn't exactly organizing. Either way, my man is an awesome craftsman.

Here is the tree before:

complete with a ladder, a route for a climbing wall and a rappelling rope.

And here it is being used.. with kids throwing water balloons at a moving target below.

I can not brag enough on my handsome man for the hard work he did (in a WEEK) in this Alabama summer heat! The kids LOVE their new treehouse.

Thank you babe. You never cease to amaze me with your talents.

Monday, June 13, 2011

the SCREAM heard around the block..

So my nephew is here for the week to attend VBS with his cousins (if he doesn't get severe homesick"ness" before Friday).

Anyhoo, my older three, plus Levi (and my niece, Nataly) were all playing outside. I was mopping the floors. Then I hear my nephew say in a very sweet voice, "Aunt Rachel.. can you come here?"

I walked to the laundry room and he was holding a red bin (used in the school room, btw). I peek in, fully anticipating a small insect. Instead I see this:

And yes, I screamed. In shock. Horror, even. Of course, my kids laughed at my screaming.. but I only hoped it would instill fear into them until we could identify this freak of nature.

While they were happy to inspect the bug.. I was wishing I had a macro lens.. to allow me to be even further away from the monstrosity.

You see, growing up I had NO desire to even look at bugs.. so I had no clue as to what kind it was.. but I quickly sent a picture to mom, dad and my brother Paul. All three texting back that it looked like a "stag beetle."

To make matters worse.. she would not leave "it" alone. She kept wanting to "pet"it. Ewww.

I promptly called my sister and said she could come pick up her son (an hour away), who would be sitting on the porch.. with his new pet.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Operation Organize: Phase 2 (Closets)

The older boys' closet.. BEFORE: (when i opened the door, the stuff fell out.. haha.. obviously need to work on teaching the boys how to "clean up" better).


Eva and Isaac's closet BEFORE:


Total: $1.58!!
2 fabric organizers. (clearance at Old Time Pottery)

With the boys.. I had to purge some toys. The bucket is for their costumes and dress up stuff. The blue tub at the top (in the AFTER pic) was the old toy box. I took the rectangle one from the living room and put it at the end of their bunk beds. (hello recycle). I set up the little organizer for books and their backpacks, leapster bags, etc.

Eva's closet was a hot mess that just needed some attention in order to go through the vat of clothes she has acquired. I also had to get rid of the smaller clothes in the drawers so that I could make room for Isaac's stuff, since he has been sharing a dresser with me for the past year. So now, they are both sharing that closet. Even though she sleeps in the other room with her older brothers. Eventually she will be sharing a room with Isaac. I also had to purge a lot of stuff in there.

Now the back of my car is loaded up with goodies for the thrift store.

This job included a lot of purging and organizing what was all ready there. The cloth shelves are great though.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Operation Organize: Phase 1

The mess in the living room.. Before:

$170 total:
$80- 2 cube shelves (9 cubes each) Target/on sale.
$20-big toy box w/liner (against the wall)
$22 for 4 cloth baskets (Target/on sale)
$48 for 4 wicker baskets (target).

All the toys from the old toy box fit (organized too) in the baskets on the shelves. The stacked bookshelf is unnecessary because the books are in a basket (the baby books) and the big kid books are on the shelf.

We still have the "shoe box" next to the toy box.. but i think i will put it in the laundry room when we get to that room.

I LOVE it. This is the look I've always wanted. Potterybarn-ish.. without the potterybarn price.
Next.. Kids' rooms/closets.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Operation Organize

So, when your house has been on the market for a year, you may decide it's time to adjust to the reality: you WILL be living in your "small/cozy" house indefinitely.

In that case.. it's time to make some MAJOR adjustments.

FUNCTIONAL organizing.

That simply means that we must forgo the "pretty" for the "functional" to maximize space in our precious little 1300 sq. ft home. My hubby and I are taking one room at a time. Starting with the living room and dining room. We will be getting our pictures back on the wall (you know, because realtor's suggest you take personal stuff down) and if someone wants to buy our house.. they will have to buy it having looked at only my kids faces on the walls.

I just got back from Target with my first organizational purchase: two of these..
and I will be sure to post a before and after picture. In fact, I will post pics of all our progress.

I am thankful to be able to finally feel like we aren't in limbo. And part of loving a house is making it your own.. so that is what we are going to do (again). This time, even better. Maximizing our space. Think NYC loft! haha.

Well, I better go.. laundry won't fold itself.
(but it sure does sit in the basket for days just fine).

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Colorado 2011..

So we went to Colorado for 8 days..
(top of Pikes Peak, 14k feet)

to see my "little" brother, Paul, graduate from the Air Force Academy. This was his commissioning.. now he is a 2nd Lt.

and now he is going to do this: (that'd be combat rescue)
Some enjoyed playing hide-n-seek..

others enjoyed hiking..

Some enjoyed sitting..

all enjoyed chasing daddy..

some of the awesome people responsible for the trip.. Graddaddy and dad (Jim).

a wonderful "Unkey Joe"

Some silly people: colin (cousin) and rachel (little sister).

enjoying their silliness (also little sister Ruth)

even our littlest loved Colorado..

visited the local wildlife... (at the zoo).

we even fed the animals (with Nana's help). .

It was an amazing zoo, in the side of a mountain..

We had an amazing time. And came back to record heat in Alabama. 15 degrees above normal for this time of year. Wow. Guess I should've enjoyed the Colorado weather more.