January 31, 2013

A Sigh of Relief

I had a whole different post composed for today.  It consisted of me saying that I wasn't handling juggling three kids (and three dogs) so well while my husband is away.  Sure, I've done three deployments both with and without kids, but recently with three kids alone I'm feeling overwhelmed.  It doesn't matter what schedule I implement, my days are all the same:  feed kids and pets, cloth children, and repeat both steps countless times.

I was feeling really low.  When I tuck the boys into bed at night, I'm moody.  I wake up cranky and I go to bed even more cranky.  It's not how I want to live.  I felt like I could cry at any minute.    

And then things changed.  After dropping Ryan off at school Leah took at decent nap.  I was able to scrub the table, wash the dishes, and vacuum the floors, all of which were well overdue.  I think the good thing about being a poor housekeeper is that when I finally do get around to cleaning it makes such a huge difference.   And when the house is clean I feel a weight lifted off my shoulders.

someecards.com - If a messy house means happy kids..... my kids must be constantly euphoric!!


The weather was also pretty nice.  It was windy but a nice warm 60 degrees.  After picking Ryan up from school we took a short walk through the neighborhood and then played out front.  A little fresh air was much needed for all of us, and it was the first time in days where I was able to slow down and really focus on just the kids.

It's funny how these two little things, cleaning and getting outside to play, replenished my spirit.  I needed a lift.  I needed something to help me feel like my life was under control.  We all needed a change from our routine.  Just when I thought I couldn't take any more, I found relief through two very simple things.  For that sense of relief I am so very thankful and it could not have come at a more needed time.    

January 30, 2013

WIWW: Polka Dot Cardigan

Last week I was just wandering around Target and saw some cardigans on sale.  I love cardigans, and when I saw polka dots I just couldn't resist.  They had this orangey red color and also an emerald green one.  I let my son choose, and obviously red won.    
cardigan and shirt//target
cords//lands' end canvas
boots//old from belk


I'll warn you now that I have another outfit post coming up on Friday.  It's probably clear that I am not a fashion blogger, but this momma needs all the motivation she can get to take off the sweats.

pleated poppy




  

January 29, 2013

Enjoy The Little Things

Pat is away this week, and I'm trying to focus on the joy in everyday instead of the difficulties.  There is a quote that I love which applies to raising children:

Enjoy the little things for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things.  
--Robert Brault

Ryan has started helping Sean get dressed.  If it were up to Sean, he'd stay in his pajamas "forever" he says.  So getting him to put his clothes on is always a chore.  Ryan is such a good big brother sometimes.  
Ryan doesn't generally take naps anymore.  Once in a while I can get him to though.  The other day I had all three kids sleeping snugly in my bed.  It was such a peaceful and beautiful moment to watch the three of them together.
And of course there are the fun moments when the boys are being boys and jumping off the couch.  Their laughter is priceless.    



So while there are moments of fighting and disobedience, there are also moments of simple beauty and joy in every day.  I just need to remember to look for them.     

January 28, 2013

Organizing the Toys

After Christmas our house was overrun with toys.  Plastic pieces were everywhere.  When we had moved into our home in October, we made sure to only place a reasonable amount of toys for the kids in the family room.  However, after Christmas it was no longer reasonable.

I cannot believe I am going to show you these before shots.  Please don't judge me poorly from them, okay?
 This is what it looked like on a normal basis.
 
At Christmas, my Uncle had asked if we wanted a storage cabinet that he and my Aunt were planning to get rid of.  Of course I jumped at the opportunity.  I seriously LOVE hand me down furniture, and it was something I felt I missed out on while we were living so far away from family.  So this weekend my husband drove up to get the cabinet and bring it home.  We knew exactly where we'd put it.  And you guessed it, we would use it to store some of these toys.

So here are the after photos of the room.  Much better, right?
We put some of the big play sets and coordinating toys inside the cabinet.  The two brown storage bins (from Target) have large toys that go together inside.  One is full of big dinos and the others with the boys' "big boots" toys.  We have a few toys on the upper shelf and the colorful small bins (from Target) are still empty.
We moved the storage bench over between the windows.  There are a couple of random small toys in two of the buckets.  
The room looks and feels so much better.  I am so thankful to my Aunt and Uncle for giving us the cabinet.  I am hoping that now that everything has a place it will be easier for the boys to help keep the family room clean.

January 24, 2013

Tomorrow Is Another Day

Some days I'm thankful for tomorrow.  Yesterday was a day where I felt that.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty my day was long and hard.  I didn't see the husband until 10 pm.  He was gone to work early and had school until late.  There were kids to care for, naps to be had, dogs to be fed.  There were three year olds accidentally stepping in baby's dirty diaper and walking on the carpet as I yelled "stop!"  A tired kid had to go to school.  Dinner was made, and the kids refused to eat.  I believe they said something like, "eww, what is this?  Can't we have something normal in a bowl, like cottage cheese or something?"    So the spinach lasagna casserole was not a hit obviously.

And as the last stab into my mommy heart, Ryan sang a song he made up after dinner.  The part that made me feel awful was when he sang, "Mommy is always busy, and Daddy works every day."  It's true.  I am always busy, but if that is how my son feels, I am failing.

The boys did not listen yesterday.  I didn't have patience.  There were tantrums and not just from the children.  It wasn't the way I intended it to be.  Don't get me wrong though, it wasn't all bad.  There were I love you's, hugs, and snuggles, but it wasn't what I would consider a good day.  

Today is a new day.  It is a new beginning.  It is a day I can make things right.  I can try again.  I can do better.  I can love more.  I can be more patient.  I can try to be more present and less busy.  I can live today like I should have yesterday, and that is just what I will do.  I am thankful that today is another day.  

"Another day has almost come and gone
Can't imagine what else could go wrong
Sometimes I'd like to hide away somewhere and lock the door
A single battle lost but not the war  ('cause)

Tomorrow's another day
And I'm thirsty anyway
So bring on the rain"
Jo Dee Messina Bring On The Rain

January 23, 2013

WIWW

I'm linking up again this Wednesday for WIWW.

This outfit is all about the scarf.  My Mom gave me this scarf.  She saw it on a deal website and thought of me because she knows I love scarves.  It was so sweet of my Mom, and I just love the colors.
My outfit is pretty casual.  I had a two hour car ride ahead of me to go pick up the kids followed by lots of rushing around the town this day.
Shirt//Gap Softest T
Jeans//Lands' End Canvas
Flats//Target 
So as I said, it was a very busy day here.  Please excuse the pajamas on the floor in the background and the poor lighting.  I was in a rush.  
Isn't it a pretty scarf though?  It totally made my outfit go from looking lazy to looking put together and pretty.    
A big thanks to my Mom for thinking of me.

pleated poppy

January 22, 2013

Paper Heart Garland

It has been a while since I attempted a craft, and recently I've felt inspired to try some things.  Today I created a paper heart garland that was super easy.

Here is what I used:
Baker's Twine from Target dollar bin//12 pack of Doilies//12 paper hearts cut with a punch//Tape not shown
First I used my tape runner to tape the colored paper hearts onto the doilies.
Next I ran the bakers twine through the holes in the doilies.
 Continue until all doilies are strung on the twine and spaced how you want them.
Flip over the hearts and apply tape to the doilies and twine so they will stay in place on your garland.
When you have taped each heart you can hang your garland and enjoy the lovely paper hearts.
See, I told you it was easy.  I love the festive look it gives for Valentine's day.    

January 21, 2013

Randoms on MLK Day

A random post may be the only way to share all the things I want to say today.  So here it goes:
  • Did you see my new blog design?  I love it.  I wanted simple with lots of white space.  I have been in love with the combo of Pink and Blue for a long, long time now.  Then I thought that Gold would add a nice touch,  and since Patience is a virtue and all it seemed appropriate.  
  • Speaking of Pink and Blue, did I ever show you the tote bag Pat got me for Christmas?  I love it. It has the long handles I wanted plus the zipper.  
  • This weekend the boys have been fighting over their old batman costume.  It happens to be a size 2T, yet they both squeeze their little bodies into it.  Notice Ryan (on the right in photo) looks like he is wearing capri pants?  Maybe I should buy some bigger costumes since they love wearing them so much.  
  • Yesterday I sent Pat out to look at a piece of furniture that I really liked at Pier1 for our bedroom.  It was kind of expensive (considering that I am cheap).  Pat didn't seem all that interested, but took on the task of going to look at it to humor me.  Can you guess what he came home with?  The only one they had was on display and had a small area where the finish was rubbed off, so he got 10% off.  He even had competition trying to buy this one piece.  But the best part about it was that Pat was genuinely excited about the table when he saw it in person and thought it was perfect for our bedroom.  So our bedroom is finally almost complete.  There are elements of both me and Pat in there.  We are waiting on one more thing to arrive, and then I promise to do a tour post.   
  • I've started reading Redeeming Love.  So far I really like it.      
  • I'm hoping to fold laundry, change the beds, clean the house, and do some crafting today.  I'm feeling ambitious I guess.  What are you up to?  

January 19, 2013

It's Only Kindergarten, Right?

Whew, it's been a busy week.  Wednesday night I had a Kindergarten orientation for Ryan's school next year.

First, I cannot believe my little boy will be in Kindergarten next year.  And as I was looking around the elementary school, it makes me feel like he's so old now.

Second, I kind of hate that it is full day kindergarten here.  One thing I was looking forward to up here in MA was that it would be half-day kindergarten.  But no, our city changed to full day for everyone last year.  I know that some people really want full day, but to me it seems like a very long day for 5 year old.  Plus I'm not used to having him away from me for that long, especially not 5 days a week.  

Third, it is so intimidating knowing what is expected of kindergartners.  When I went to kindergarten it was a very social and play based curriculum.  These days there are very high expectations on the children.

Lastly, I'm just sad that we're starting "real" school.  My boy will take a bus.  He'll be gone all day.  He'll come home with homework.  Gone are the lazy days spent in pjs.  Our days of freedom are limited.

I know it will be an adjustment.  I know that I need to put on the strong face for Ryan.  I hope and pray that he will like it.  He loves his school this year, so I hope that continues to the new school.  But if I'm being truly honest, I'm kind of dreading it and really sad.  Now maybe those feelings will change once we start school.  I know getting things done with two kids in tow is a lot easier than with all three.  Maybe I'll enjoy having a little break.  I don't know.  But If I could slow time down right now, I probably would.

Did anyone else have some major freak-outs before sending your first child to kindergarten?    

January 16, 2013

My Son Needs Speech Therapy

My son needs speech therapy.  Well, actually for my family that needs to be plural.  My sons need speech therapy.  I know I've mentioned before that Ryan was in speech therapy before we moved, and now he's receiving his speech therapy through the public school here.

I guess from our experience with Ryan's speech, we thought it necessary that Sean be evaluated now too.  We saw some similarities between his developing speech and how Ryan's speech developed.  Sean was tested last week, and I had the meeting with the school yesterday.  His results were in fact almost identical to Ryan's results.

Both my boys have an articulation delay.  Their little mouths just aren't forming the words/sounds correctly.  So now Sean will also start receiving speech therapy.

I feel bad for Ryan because being our first child we often don't know what we are doing.  With Sean we can sometimes use our experience from Ryan to guide us.  Ryan's speech issue wasn't even looked at until he was a year older than Sean is right now.  I am thankful that we can learn from our experiences and apply the lessons where needed.  And now through my experience of two children with speech delays, let me share some things I've learned:  

1.  If you think your child has issues with speech, keep pushing to at least get him/her tested.  With Ryan I brought the issue of speech up to his pediatrician a few times.  The first pediatrician kept telling me that at each age you can only understand a certain amount of speech.  That was the trap though.  Pat and I could understand almost all of Ryan's speech because we had learned his language without realizing it.  Just because we could understand him didn't mean he didn't need help.  With Sean recently the pediatrician said that with him being so young if we could understand him he'd probably be fine.  Thankfully, I knew from experience and explained that we could not understand him a lot of the time.  So from that he recommended we have him evaluated.  I'm so grateful for the experience from Ryan that I knew better this time around with Sean.

2.  Depending on where you live there are various resources available to you, but you have to advocate for your child.  In Tennessee Ryan received private speech therapy funded by our health insurance.  Here in Massachusetts, Ryan is in the public school for his speech therapy.  Ryan gets his therapy during his days in Pre-K.  Now Sean will be getting his speech therapy sessions in the public school. Both boys have had IEPs established.  Maybe it's because we are new here, but the process has not always been clear.  There have been many phone calls to the learning center, and even now I'm still unclear on what will happen with Sean in preschool next year.  Thankfully I have time to figure that out.

3.  People will judge you and your child.  I notice it sometimes when we see friends and acquaintances.  People sometimes act like my children lack intelligence because when they speak people cannot understand.  I've even had a speech therapist start judging Ryan, and that is when I learned more about the need to advocate for your child.  As a parent sometimes I feel judged that I've done something wrong for both of my children to need help.  The speech pathologists have always assured me that I have done nothing wrong.  And I can assure everyone that my children are intelligent.  They have the words and skills that are appropriate for their ages; they just cannot express themselves so clearly with those words.

4.  Do NOT push your child.  I'll never forget when Ryan was two we had some company over.  Ryan wanted the baby gate open and said his usual word for that "abra".  First our company assumed that our son watched too much Dora and was speaking Spanish.  After I explained that he was saying open, the guest then continually tried to fix that word in Ryan's speech to the point where Ryan was frustrated.  My boys know how each word should sound, and they are trying to say it correctly when it comes out wrong.  It's just their little mouths are a bit behind in forming the correct sounds.  The speech therapists can push my boys.  I will reinforce what the therapists teach, but I am not going to be the one to fix my children's speech problems by continually pushing them with words all day long.  The therapists are trained to help them.  The last thing I want to do is push my kids so much that they shut down.  

5.  You are not alone if your child needs help, and it is nothing to be ashamed of.  Today parents focus so much on bragging what their children can do and how smart they are.  This creates pressure and breeds comparison.  You child needing help isn't something to be ashamed of, and anyone who thinks differently is just wrong.  Get your child the help if they need it.  Most of all remember to encourage your child and tell them how proud you are of them.

January 15, 2013

I Live With Joy in My Heart

I chose the word Joy to be my one word for 2013.  And I'll freely admit that I've struggled these past two weeks to keep joy in focus.  Somehow two days ago it fell into place.  Sure I'm probably writing too soon.  I know I haven't conquered my struggles, but I finally had a breakthrough though.

On Monday we decided to keep Ryan home from school.  The boys have been battling a cold, and as responsible parents we don't want to spread the germs around.  Usually on a full day spent at home I am guaranteed fighting from the boys.  Plus with sickness there is usually whining.  Miraculously there was neither fighting nor whining.  I accomplished the housework easily, and our day went along smoothly and peacefully.  It was nice to not feel stressed about getting Ryan to and from school or doing anything on someone else's schedule.  It was a relaxed day, and that made it so easy to focus on the little moments that bring joy to my heart.  





I guess it is clear that the stress of our normal schedule is a challenge for me.  While I cannot change our obligations, I can try to make it less stressful.  I've started to work on creating a routine around our schedule, but clearly these past two days have showed me that I'm not there yet.  I'm okay with that though.  I am a work in progress.  I can finally say that I'm starting to be able to spend more time focusing on joy, and now I know what I need to alter so that I can be more joyful.

How are you doing with your new year's word (or resolution)?

No Bake Strawberry Icebox Cake

I saw a pin on Pinterest for a very easy dessert recipe and had to try it.  It is a no bake icebox cake.  It only has 3 ingredients (4 if you want to garnish with chocolate).  You can find the original recipe from the pin here.  I cut it in a half for a small, quick dessert for my family.

Ingredients you need:
Graham Crackers
Strawberries (fresh or frozen)
Whipped cream/Cool Whip
Chocolate for garnish optional

Spread a thin layer of whipped cream in pan and top with graham crackers.
Top that layer with more whipped cream and add strawberries.  I used thawed frozen strawberries cut in slices.
Repeat the layers.  I think I had about 3 layers of graham crackers in the pan.
To garnish I melted some chocolate chips and drizzled it on the top.
Place "cake" in refrigerator for at least 4 hours before serving.
It is a super simple recipe, mostly just slapping together a few ingredients.  It tastes pretty simple.  I thought it tasted just like strawberry shortcake, but in a kind of cheating way.  
This is a great recipe if you are short on time to really make something.  Because it is in a "cake" form, it looks like you made a dessert, but in reality it was probably one of the easiest "cakes" you'll ever make.
Try this simple recipe.  Don't expect it to taste like something it's not though; it tastes just like it's ingredients melted together perfectly.  Enjoy!

January 14, 2013

7 Months Old

Another month gone by.  Leah is already 7 months old.  She's started eating solid food, well by solid I mean pureed veggies and banana.  We're just starting the fruits now.  She liked the orange veggies but green not so much.
Baby girl has two teeth and really seems to be working on the top two.  I say that now, but who knows when they'll actually cut.  She seems to teeth for VERY long periods of time before the teeth show up.
Leah loves jumping, rolling, playing with her little kitchen, and putting EVERYTHING in her mouth. She always smiles for her older brother Ryan, and Sean is constantly trying to snuggle her.
 Leah has perfected her serious stare, and that is the look she gives most people.  Most people haven't seen her real personality that she shows us on a daily basis.
She seems to be quite a mixture of sweet and mischievous.  Her smile is just so precious and genuine.  She doesn't show it too often, so you know she means it when you see it.
Whether I think it's a good thing or not, she's still my cuddle bug sleeping in my bed.  She feels comforted to reach out and touch my arm or face and goes right back to sleep.  I'm sure we're creating bad habits.  The other morning she rolled over and kissed me.  Some may have called it eating my face, but I like to think of it as a kiss.
My baby girl is growing so fast.  We've hit the period where babies start to really change and evolve.  As I always say, it makes me sad to see her grow up so fast, but I love all the new phases and experiences we go through.  
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