Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bubbles Before Bed

      Since there is a Chick-fil-A opening today, and John has been coordinating that opening, we are not getting to see much of him this week.  Good thing we got to hang out in Canada last week.  Last night, John said, "I will get to reacquaint myself with our children this weekend."  And I am looking forward to that.  Though, last night, we did get to meet him for dinner, and the girls mauled him.  So much love.  But we came home, and I was facing bedtime by myself again and decided to make the most of it.  I pulled out bubbles.
      Lily was beside herself with delight, Bella loved trying to eat the grass, and it was a great way to enjoy a milder evening before tucking everyone in.  I decided to "Embrace the Camera" and get into a few of the shots myself.  I do want the girls to know that I played with them.  And if we have to take pictures to prove that, so be it.


My sweet girls who I can never get looking at the camera and smiling at the same time.  ♥

Picnik collage

Bella ended up loving the bubbles too, and I don't blame her.  They are sort of magical - the way they reflect light and float in ways you don't expect.  I found myself a little transfixed as well.  Lily was quite intent on popping them all.  Which is also a lot of fun.

Picnik collage

We will be very ready to have John back in action, but it is nice to know what good, clean, fun bubbles are.  Because, really, we all need more good-clean-fun things in our life.

Linking up with

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Diary of a Mess-Maker

      There once was a little girl named Lily.  She liked likes to make messes.  She has a mom that does not like (at all) to pick them up.  Every day, Lily spends time in her room.  We call it "Nap Time," but it could also be referred to as "Lily's Comedy Hour."  She rarely naps.  Who wants to nap when you can play and talk to yourself and your lambie for two hours?  Not Lily.  This is the story of the messes that are made during that time, and the battle that is waged over the picking up of that mess.

Starring: Lily

Every day after the Comedy Hour, I go in to get my little friend and find something like this.  (Side note - why do we have two copies of The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, and why is he so creepy looking on the back cover?)

I would help her pick it up, with me really carrying the burden of that responsibility, until John helped me realize that I was not using my advantages.  Like the one where I get to tell her what to do, because she is my child.  So I decided this was a battle to pick.  I want her to learn to pick up and be responsible for what she gets out.  Someone once told me, "Never do for your child what they can do for themselves", and I knew she was fully capable of picking up her disaster.

Thus, our battle began, and it is one that we are still waging some days.  I started taking a picture of her "picking up" each day when I went in to get her.  This is what I got.


(Love the sticker hanging off her bum in this one.)

(I was sort of impressed with the creativity of the hangers in this one.)

(John coaching her through the post-nap pick up.)

So, each day, when I put her in her room, I say, "You know you will have to pick up anything you get out.  Do you understand?"  And she says, "Yes Ma'am."  (We live in the South.)  And some days she picks it all up so that she can come out and get her snacks and milk.  Other days she languishes in her room for an extra couple of hours not picking up - some times whining, some times just chilling, and some times, she screams until she falls asleep - like here.

But, I know she knows how, since I have seen it firsthand.  So, each day, this is what we do.  Routine is so comforting.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Parenting: Not for the Faint of Heart

      Last night we were at a Dedication Dinner for a new Chick-fil-A opening in Little Rock this week.  It is a time to dedicate the business to the Lord and have a great meal together as a Chick-fil-A family.  (Side note - Chick-fil-A people are the best people.  They all feel like family to me, and I love the commonality of purpose that we share.  It is such a warm company, and I ♥ it.)  I talked with a friend all about parenting.  About how hard parenting really is.  She has two little boys, with ages similar to our girls - so we are in really similar places, and it was nice to commiserate (and rejoice a little).
      John always says that you do not have children to make your life easier - you have them to make your life better and richer.  He says the same thing about marriage, since that is not exactly a walk in the park either.  And what I am realizing more and more is that it could be easy to do these critically important parts of our life poorly.  That is actually the path of least resistance.  I didn't realize until I was actually parenting what work it would involve on every level.
      It would be easy to pretend I didn't notice when Lily is doing something she knows she shouldn't do, or that I have, in fact, just told her not to do.  It is much harder to choose to discipline our child in public, because we love her and want her to learn to submit to authority in her life.  She got spankings all over Canada - the worst being on a ferry ride where it echoed as Lily was yelling, "No spank you yet!"  We had to choose loving our child well over valuing what everyone around us might have thought of us - that is hard to do.  Not for the faint of heart.
      It would be easy to put my children into childcare all the time.  I cannot even fathom what I could get done without little friends around, but, for us, we want for me to be the primary influence in their lives during this time, since we are blessed to have that option.  It is short, and it goes by quickly.  And I ♥ Mother's Day Out, because we do need our time apart, but it is the exception, not the rule.  Having little friends as shadows is not for the faint of heart.
      It would be easy to not pay attention to the words that I say.  To speak harshly to the girls when I get frustrated or to speak before thinking and not act on what I say.  I want my girls to know that I mean what I say, which means that I am having to constantly monitor what I say.  That takes a lot of thinking, and some praying, to speak clearly and wholesomely all the time.  (which I do not get right all the time, unfortunately, that is not what comes naturally)  Speaking rightly is not for the faint of heart.
      I am realizing that I am just scratching the surface of choices we have ahead of us.  Hard, sacrificial choices.  Choices that will make us die to self (or not, when we choose wrongly).  Choices that will force us to take stands that people will not agree with.  Children have a way of making people draw lines in the sand about what is important to them, because you get one shot.  That's it.  No pressure or anything.
      We are learning so much, and I pray that we will be pliable in God's hands as we walk this path.  He has entrusted us with two precious lives that He cares about more than we do, and ultimately, He wants us all to know Him more through this process of being a family together.  I pray that He gives us the grace and love to do the hard things.  I don't want to be faint hearted - they matter too much.


Monday, June 27, 2011

4th of July Frame

      This weekend, I was poking around for a little 4th of July inspiration on Pinterest and found all kinds of fun.  When all was said and done, I decided to make a frame to put onto my mantle.


Here is a glimpse at my pin board -

Screen shot 2011-06-25 at 3.25.14 PM

To see all of it, you can click here.  (I ♥ Pinterest)  Making this little framed up collage was simple, cheap and fast.  A lot of my favorite things a project can be.  Here's what I used -


An 8 x 10 frame bought 50% off at Hobby Lobby
Paper Cutter
Card Stock white paper
Card Stock patterned paper

Let's talk about the paper.  One of my favorite blogs in the world, Jones Design Company, made some paper that could be downloaded and printed.  There were lots of different patterns, and you could pay for a certain print in lots of colors or the entire collection.  I bought the whole collection, because it would all be so great for cards and tags and such.  I love the style - you can see the collection if you click here.  I also just used plain ole construction paper that I had on hand.
      I started by printing the words that I wanted.  I went with "America the Beautiful" in the font Jellyka Western Princess that I downloaded for free here.  I also did "Land of the Free.  Home of the Brave" in the font Bickham Script Fancy which I downloaded for free from here.  (I got the tip off for this font website from Jones Design Company as well.  ♥ the new font horizons.)


I cut all of the words with straight edges using the handy paper cutter - scissors would work as well if you don't have one of those.  I then just played around with different combinations of the red chevron paper that I had printed and the construction paper to see what I liked the best.  I backed other words with just the blue construction paper to have some variety.  I used tape to secure everything, since it was going into a frame and not going to be messed with.


I cut some stars out of white card stock.  I decided that I wanted sort of wonky stars, so I folded paper over and drew half a star, then cut them out.  To get perfect stars, you could easily pull up a google image search and trace it from the computer.


Then, I just arranged it all on the light blue/gray houndstooth paper that I had printed out until I liked it.


And, there you have it, a little 4th of July themed decor for my mantle.  Here's hoping this year we don't burn down our neighbor's bush like last year.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Canada: Butchart Gardens

      This is my final post about our Canada trip.  Not sure what I will blog about after this - it is a little hard to come back to normal life and try to figure out what I regularly do with my time and energy.  But, as we were driving back to our house on Tuesday night, we were reminding ourselves how great our life really is.  We were a little hungover from the majesty that is Canada, but we are starting to get back into the groove of life again - and it is good.  We are blessed far beyond what we could imagine.
      This trip really was great.  However, we realized that there is a difference between a "family trip" and a "vacation."  With the little friends along, it qualified more as a "family trip," because we came back pretty tired from baby wrangling and all the adventuring.  In the end, we both felt it was more than worth it and would do it again, because really, we would be little friend wrangling here or there, and there is pretty great.  We couldn't have asked for better travel companions than Ellen and Luke - you guys get a serious shout out for being amazing, fun, good-looking (cause who doesn't want to travel with good-looking people) and so patient and loving with the friends.  We were talking about it again last night and saying how it could not have gone any better - thanks!
      We spent our last day on Vancouver Island in the city of Victoria, mainly at Butchart Gardens.


We loaded up on a fancy ferry to the island and passed the time playing Spades and having Luke entertain my babies with his "baby."

Picnik collage

Somehow, in all of my trip planning, I made some gross miscalculations about the size of the city of Victoria.  It ended up taking us a lot more time and money to reach the Gardens than I had imagined it would, which was a bummer.  So, once we made it to the Gardens, we hoped it lived up to all the work it took us to get there.  And it did.  I like going to places that are considered to be the best in the world of something, and this is billed as being one of the best gardens in the world.  It was stunning.

Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage
Picnik collage

The girls mostly really enjoyed it, though we had to resort to VeggieTales on an old iPhone for Lily about 3/4 of the way through.  Bella, it seemed, was trying to jump out of the stroller with delight much of the time.

Picnik collage
Picnik collage

Two main stories of hilarity came from our time in the gardens.  The first is that our little family, mainly the girls, was its own attraction, especially for the Asian tourists present.  We actually found this to be true in all of Canada - whenever we passed a group of Asian tourists, and they are abundant, they wanted to stop and photograph the girls and gawk at them.  Which is flattering, but also a little crazy.  At the garden, one gentleman stalked us for a while.  Here is the first picture he took.


Then, he just followed us, taking pictures, like we were celebrities of some kind.  John decided that if they wanted pictures of the girls, he would get into those pictures with them.  Here is one of the best moments with John and Lily on a prop carousel horse with the Asian paparazzi in full effect.


The second story of hilarity still makes me laugh so hard that I cry when I look at the pictures.  Though it will probably not move you all to tears, you will probably get a chuckle.  One of the lenses in John's sunglasses popped out.  In a moment of comic genius, my husband decided to pop the other lens out and wear the frames for the rest of the day.  Yes, he did.


I think the power of the glasses went to his head, because when he, Lily and I boarded the carousel, by ourselves, he ended up on an Orca striking a pose each time the ride went around.  There was a gaggle of Asian tourists taking pictures of this, and fortunately, Luke was also there to capture a few of these priceless moments.  You can barely see Lily and I laughing in the background, and she was saying, "Silly Daddy.  Funny Daddy."


All in all, Butchart Gardens was a lovely place to explore.


      Canada is a delightful place to visit, and the people are welcoming and helpful at every turn.  We loved our time there and look forward to seeing more of the country on another trip!