Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a busy life

This afternoon, my best friend and I were meeting with a representative from the American Cancer Society, as we are going to team up with them for our school's annual fun run.  Our staff has been through a lot in the past year, three of my colleagues have been diagnosed with cancer, and one had a scare that wound up testing negative.  Needless to say, the partnership between our school's event and this great cause is not only timely, but motivational as we brainstorm ideas. 

As we were chatting with the representative, we were cooridinating dates for things and making sure that nothing interfered with the other things we have going on...directing the school play, designing the yearbook, teaching, family life, etc, etc.  The girl was amazed at the projects that my friend and I take on.  She said that there is a saying, 'if you want something done, ask a busy person to do it'.  I'd never heard that before and I immediately thought, 'well, if that doesn't ring true for me!' 

I thought of all the things that I voluntarily take on (because I enjoy them), the requirements placed upon me, the expectations placed upon me, and the things that people assume that I'll do because I'm a 'nice person'.  My head was spinning.  Then, my phone dinged its text message sound, and that piece of me that comprises so much of what I value about myself--mommyhood came blaring into the foreground.  The demands of being a mommy are a compilation of what I voluntarily take on (choosing to become a mommy), requirements placed upon me (to be a 'good mom' who is morally and ethically making the best decisions for her children--also avoiding the authorities from questioning my capabilities as a parent), the expectations placed upon me (by our kids who have the expectations of their needs being met--which I happily do on a daily basis), and the things that are assumed that I'll do (bake for the PTA? sure!  fix your stuffed animal because you and your sister were wrestling and it ripped?  sure!  watch your favorite movie for the ump-teenth time in a row because you just want to 'cuggle' even though the house is a wreck and the laundry needs swapped?  sure!--you get the idea).

Turns out that Raegan needed to take a trip to the pediatricians to rule out a possible bout with a contagious virus that would have left several hiccups in the 'normal' flow of the upcoming days.  Thankfully, she is just battling the combination of a nasty cold, teething, and Colorado's dry air which is a killer on sensitive little munchkin skin in the winter (actually, it's pretty rough on all of us!).  My already 'busy' schedule became even moreso as I dashed back and forth across my local area, picking up children and making it to our appointment in a timely fashion so as to avoid keeping the doctor waiting all the while avoiding a speeding ticket.  By the grace of God, we were only mildly late (but arrived safely and sans a police encounter), and Raegan is (relatively) healthy. 

As we were driving home, I opted to hit up a drive-thru for dinner (which I know is so against what I typically believe...).  As I pulled into the parking lot, Brynn and I had this convseration:

Brynn: Where are we going, mommy?
Me: We are going through the drive-thru
Brynn: Why can't we go inside?
Me: Because my body hurts and I have a headache.
Brynn: Why do you have a head-ick?
Me: From life, Brynn.  I have a headache from life.
Brynn: You don't have a life, mommy!

I know that she didn't realize what her last statement could have meant, but it's still funny to think of all that I do during the day, (and especially on days like today when I wear so many hats) and to 'just for a second' imagine what it would have been like had she realized what she meant.  From one lens, it might seem like I don't have a 'life', but rather float, jellyfish-like from activity to activity and event to event, often times multi-tasking along the way.  From another lens however, my life is rich.  My life if full.  My life has intent, meaning, and purpose because everything that I do fulfills me and refreshes my sense of worth.  It is all of these things because I chose for them to do so.  I don't view my calendar and list of things to do as 'busy' items, but items that make me 'me', and items that are what makes my 'life' as such.  A headache is a small price to pay to have the blessed life that I do...however, it sometimes can be those headaches that give me reason to pause my life, my busy schedule...and focus on absolutely nothing except for me, so that tomorrow, I can do it all again. 

nosy girl...

proud girl...

busy girl...

successful girl...

caught, girl!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Checking in

So...I've been a bit of a slacker with my goal of blogging every day. I haven't been too much of a slacker in everything else, though. I've had good intentions, and when I would sit down to do so, either I'd be interrupted with something pertinent or my eyes would close and I'd succumb to the constant 'go go go' that is my life.

This weekend was devoted to 'us'. Randy was off the whole weekend and, aside from a date night on Saturday evening, we were all together the entire weekend. Basketball for Gavin, shared meals where we were laughing and smiling, and relaxing at home. All enjoyed in the company of each other.

Randy and I were able to enjoy a night out in Denver thanks to our fabulous babysitter. I'm trying to remember when we last did that. I guess if I can't remember, it was far too long since we had. That must become more commonplace in our world. As is the quality time we enjoyed together this weekend. I feel refreshed and revived as I begin the week and need to bottle this feeling up for those moments when I will not have such a positive outlook and things get a little overwhelming. Until then, I bask in relaxation and am heading to rest my head in the crook of my husband's arm.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fairy Bread

Tomorrow night, Gavin's school is hosting a Cultural Night.  Each grade level is assigned a country or continent, and Gavin's grade level has Australia.  They have created art projects and learned songs and games that are from their country/continent to present and share with parents.  He could not.be.more.excited.  Most of what he's been working on has been a secret (his choice, I assume), however from the little bits and pieces he's leaked out, we are in store for couple of cute songs and will see a musical instrument that he's made. 

And then there's the food.  Last week, the PTO sent home a form asking for either cookie or fruit donations from the country/continent your child has been learning about.  Being a bit of a fan of baking (*smile*), I jumped at the opportunity to try my hand at a new recipe.  Two nights ago, when the PTO representative called to remind me of the cookies, I told her we were trying a new recipe and that if (by chance), it did not turn out, would it be a problem for me to go with an old Italian standby and make pizzelles.  It's as if the woman on the other end of the phone could read the cramped calendar and lengthy 'to-do' list that I had in front of my bleary and bagged eyes when she suggested the.easiest.recipe.ever.

Fairy Bread.  Yes, you read correctly.  Fairy Bread.  Apparently our adorable friends from down 'unda have a tradition at children's birthday parties where they eat this delightfully colorful treat.  The origin is not directly known (or at least, I didn't find it in my research), however there is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that bears the same name.  So the argument is along the lines of the chicken and the egg.  Did the poem inspire the food, or the food inspire the poem?

When I heard how to make it, I was sold.  Not only was it quick, easy, and inexpensive...it was no-bake and the kids could get involved in the fun (without too much of a mess--double bonus).

Although I heard the basics of Fairy Bread from the PTO president in our conversation, I decided to do a little further research.  How I have lived 30 years without knowing of this fun treat is beyond me.  As it turns out, fairy bread has it's own fan page on Facebook, as well several blog posts featuring instructions and accompanying photos.  For those who need the super specific, you can even check out the Wiki How

Or, you can read this. 

Fairy Bread
sliced white bread (crusts optional)
spreadable butter (margarine ok, but butter tastes better--make sure it's unsalted, sweet butter!)
colored sprinkles (we used non-pareils)

1. Spread butter on the bread (spread all the way to the edges for the best results!)
2. Turn buttered side of bread down into a shallow bowl filled with sprinkles
3. Cut into shapes--triangles are the traditional shape in Australia.
4. Enjoy.

This sounds a bit strange perhaps, but really, it's not too bad, and of course Brynn is an absolute fan simply because the name includes the word 'fairy'.  Both kids took turns dunking the bread into the sprinkles and the whole process took about 20 minutes for two loaves of bread (which, by the way, makes a ton of fairy bread). 

The kids were so proud and excited to have a hand in helping create something for Cultural Night.  Me?  I was excited for the ease and adorableness of the recipe.  And to eat a piece.  Or two.  Ok, ok...I had three.

Monday, February 20, 2012


It's always nice to have a weekday off from work.  Today, being President's Day, the kids and I (and Randy, too, who wound up not having to go out on a job today) enjoyed a day at home with no errands to run or places to be.  The kids were able to watch enjoy a lazy breakfast while watching The Lion King, play (both inside and out), and be adorable as usual.

I had a cake (well, three) that I was working on for a baby shower for a co-worker, which kept me busy through the afternoon while Raegan was napping.  I was in my 'zone', sketching an owl pattern to make out of fondant when my phone rang.  I didn't recognize the number, but I knew the area code.  The caller on the other end was someone I haven't spoken to in a long time.  I wasn't quite sure how to handle the conversation, the lens with which to view it.  It was uncomfortable and left me with a variety of emotions, thoughts, and feelings. 

All evening long, I've been thinking of my 'next steps'.  I guess, if you really want to be honest, I've been thinking of these 'next steps' for a long while now...much longer than I can really recall.  The unsettling feeling I have deep in the pit of my stomach serves as a reminder at unexpected times.  I've prayed about it, yet I still feel unsettled.  I'm starting to realize it's because I have been praying for the wrong thing.  I've been selfish in what I want to come out of the situation, when in fact what I need to be praying for is my own ability to forgive.  It's hard to realize this, to even say it, because there is still a part of me unwilling to do so.  That may make me sound awful, but there have been more than several events throughout the years that have caused a build up of hurt and pain, leaving behind a shell of emotion that I make up for by overcompensating in other avenues of my life.  In acknowledging all of this, I'm being humbled.  It's not a fun feeling to be humbled.

As I sat down this evening to relax (finally), and upload some photos from today, I caught up on a blog that I follow, and have shared before.  Two mothers of children that attend the school where I teach co-blog GraceFull Home.  I love reading their posts, but for some reason, God had Jen post what she did today.  She wrote A Lesson in Mud-Slinging, and after receiving the phone call I did today, I swore she wrote it for me.  I'll let her words and interpretation of the feeling of being humbled speak for me, as she does so with far more eloquence than I'd be able to muster at this point. 

As I strive to work toward a more peaceful and complete me, I find solace in the fact that Randy and our kids keep me centered, and if nothing else, keep me busy.  I think my struggle is in finding a balance between the 'busy' and the 'dealing with my emotions'.  To borrow a piece of Jen's words through her post, through my feelings of discomfort during my conversation today, God is saying  "I want you to stop rebelling against me.  I have 2 things I want you to do, REPENT (about face and end this behavior in your life) and FORGIVE (because I have forgiven you of MUCH so you too must forgive)."  (Thank you, Jen, for wording this so accurately!)

I'm a work in progress, as we all are.  I crave a more settled feeling, for my vision to be cleared and the relationships that need be, are defined, adjusted, respected from all parties, and maintained in a productive way.  Not only will my soul be refreshed, but my family will reap the benefits of a less distracted wife and mommy.  I guess being humbled isn't such an awful idea.

Images from my day:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

back to blogging, despite my sleepy eyes....

Ugh...I just typed an entire blog, bleary eyed from lack of sleep for the past two nights (working on cake orders upon the completion of which Raegan woke me to 'hang').  And then something happened...and I lost it all.  All.  Normally blogger auto-saves...so I'm really annoyed that it stuttered for a moment and I can't find my words.  This is far shorter, much less eloquent, and not what I had intended for tonight...I'm bummed.

So now I'm forced to re-type....only I'll leave out the first part and skip down to the conversation I overheard tonight while the kids ate some cake for dessert.

Brynn: Let's play restaurant, We're the kids, and this is a restaurant.
Gavin: Ok! Mommy is the cook.  And the waitress. And the cleaner-upper.
Brynn: And mommy is the payer. 
Gavin: Yeah, she does a lot of things.  Mommy does all the things.
Brynn: Mommy doesn't do everything.  .
Gavin: We have to get dressed and clean up our toys and be nice to each other, even when you'e annoying.
Brynn: We have to do so many things, it's hard to be a kid!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Better late than never

As I loaded my 'new post' page, the clock on my laptop changed to 12:00.  Midnight.  Technically, more than a day has passed since my last blog, but if you consider the fact that I have yet to go to sleep, I'm still considering it to be ok. 

Except, I'm kind of feeling a bit of writer's block.  I just spent the past three hours creating a camoflauge/army cake.  My creativity is in a 'sweeter' place tonight, not much in a writing place.  So...while I know it's not much, I am holding myself accountable for the daily blogging. 

Love these little reminders...

You are not responsible for doing
it all yourself, right now.
Remember a happy, peaceful time in your past.
Rest there. Each moment has richness
that takes a lifetime to savor.
Set your own pace.
When someone is pushing you,
it's OK to tell them they're pushing.

Take nothing for granted:
watch water flow, the corn grow,
the leaves blow, your neighbor mow.
Taste your food.
God gives it to delight as well as to nourish.
Notice the sun and the moon as they rise and set.
They are remarkable for their steady pattern
of movement, not their speed.
Quit planning how you're going to use
what you know, learn, or possess.
God's gifts just are;
be grateful and their purpose will be clear.
When you talk with someone,
don't think about what you'll say next.
Thoughts will spring up naturally if you let them.
Talk and play with children.
It will bring out the unhurried little person inside you.
Create a place in your home...
at your work...in your heart...
where you can go for quiet and recollection.
You deserve it.
Allow yourself time to be lazy and unproductive.
Rest isn't luxury; it's a necessity.
Listen to the wind blow.
It carries a message of yesterday, tomorrow
and now. NOW counts. 
Rest on your laurels.
They bring comfort whatever their size,
age, or condition.
Talk slower. Talk less.
Don't talk. Communication isn't measured by words.
Give yourself permission to be late sometimes.
Life is for living, not scheduling.
Listen to the song of a bird; the complete song.
Music and nature are gifts,
but only if you are willing to receive them.
Take time just to think.
Action is good and necessary,
but it's fruitful only if we muse, ponder, and mull.
Make time for play - the things you like to do.
Whatever your age, your inner child needs re-creation.
Watch and listen to the night sky.
It speaks.
Listen to the words you speak, especially in prayer.
Learn to stand back and let others take their turn as leaders.
There will always be new opportunities
for you to step out in front again.
Divide big jobs into little jobs.
If God took six days to create the universe,
can you hope to do any better?
When you find yourself rushing & anxious, stop.
Ask yourself "WHY?"
you are rushing and anxious.
The reasons may improve your self-understanding.
Take time to read.
Thoughtful reading is enriching reading.
Direct your life with purposeful choices,
not with speed and efficiency.
The best musician is one who plays with expression and meaning, not the one who finishes first.
Take a day off alone; make a retreat.
You can learn from monks and hermits without becoming one.
Pet a furry friend.
You will give and get the gift of now. 
Work with your hands.
It frees the mind.
Take time to wonder.
Without wonder, life is merely existence.
Sit in the dark.
It will teach you to see and hear, taste and smell.
Once in a while, turn down the lights,
the volume, the throttle, the invitations.
Less really can be more.
Let go. Nothing is usually the hardest thing to do
but often it is the best.
Take a walk-but don't go anywhere.
If you walk just to get somewhere,
you sacrifice the walking. 
Count your friends.
If you have one, you are lucky.
If you have more, you are blessed.
Bless them in return.
Count your blessings - one at a time and slowly


Friday, February 17, 2012

Gavin's writing

At dinner tonight, I asked Gavin what was his 'good thing' for the day.  Without hesitation, a smile widened upon his face and he said, "My writing at school...I love it!".  I was so happy to hear him say this.  Earlier that afternoon, he didn't even let my put the car in reverse to leave his school parking lot before I looked at the writing he did today.  He beamed with pride as he said, "I used 'because' and I spelled all the words myself.  Mrs. Irwin liked it so much that she said I could have a sticker!" (sidebar: don't you wish that life were so simple that you were excited by things like stickers?!?!)

Seeing Gavin experience such pride in something that he worked hard on made my ;teacher heart' skip a beat.  The intrinsic motivation he shows toward his school work is an inspiration and adorable quality.  My 'mommy heart' smiled as he began explaining the minute-by-minute, pencil line-by-pencil line desciption of the events that took place before, during, and after he wrote.  He explained it as if I weren't a teacher and he wanted to ensure I understood each step.  Truly precious as his innocence was brimming over the edges of the pot.

We are so grateful for Gavin's teacher, who has inspired his love of learning to blossom even further.  I believe that truly outstanding teachers are those who can inspire others without a sense of intrinsic motivation, and turn them around to taking pride in their work.  Thankfully, Gavin did not lack in the motivation department entering into kindergarten, but I recognize and appreciate the hard work that his teacher does on a daily basis to ensure he is receiving the best education he possibly can.  For a boy who entered into kindergarten loving the concept of learning, it's almost unreal to see how that love has double and even tripled.  When I ask him how his day is, and the first words out of his mouth are related to a classroom activity, rather than lunch/recess/specials/etc., I know he's in the presence of a great teacher who knows what is best for his educational progress. 

Tonight, I thank Mrs. Irwin for the gift of pride that she gave Gavin today at school.  I didn't get to see a lot of my kids today because of my own obligations at work, but she played a big part in making what little time I did share with them even more precious.

Proud of his story :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


"The open-minded see the truth in different things; the narrow-minded see only the differences."

I am out of words today (a rarity).  Rather, I don't necessarily think I am out of words, but rather I have so many, that it is impossible right now for me to compose a stream of consciousness that wouldn't cause a state of confusion from anyone reading this.  I do, however, feel that this quote above speaks volumes for something that I have been thinking about this evening, in my life outside of mommyhood.

To apply it to mommyhood, though, I love the innocence of children and how they view the world.  There are times that the kids are both open- and narrow- minded, however it is their innocence that makes it so endearing.  Viewing the world through the eyes of a child...something I work on daily, in work and at home. 

I love the innocence and wide-eyed expression of all of my kids, as I explain aspects of life they've questioned. 
Gavin, you were so darling as you made connections and drew conclusions while we were reading before bed tonight.  I love how you utilize all of the skills and strategies that you are learning in school
Brynn, today when I asked you what you had for lunch.  You responded with, 'tater tards!'.  You.are.hilarious.
Raegan, I LOVE that you are getting better at saying, 'ma-ma', rather than calling me 'ba ba'. :) 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's day memories

Valentine's Day is all about love...so I'll keep it short and sweet (and, of course, about love)

You read a book to me tonight called What Brothers Do Best.  The wonderment on your face as you read practically every word by yourself was so darling.  Mommy is so proud of your hard work in kindergarten as you learn to read.  But my favorite part of the whole book?  Afterwards, you looked up at me with sweet little eyes and said, "I must be a really good brother because I pretty much do all that stuff'. 

One of Brynn's favorite lullabies to sing is 'You Are My Sunshine'. The song is one big metaphor, but in the world of a 3-nearly-4 year old, she honestly believes she is singing about the sun.  Bless her little heart.  She always wants to tell me that 'people can't be sunshine because they'll be hurted from the fire', and tonight, as I sang that to you, it was no different.  Love you for your own (usually litera) interpretation of everything :)

Baby girl, you started walking today!  Daddy was able to see you take your first few steps, and while you only took just two little steps for me, I am so proud of your bravery as you begin the next little phase in your beautiful life. 

Valentine's Day, and every day, recognize the little things we love most about one another.  One quote that I have always remembered from the movie Moulin Rouge is 'the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return'.


Monday, February 13, 2012

television alternative

I'll admit it, the television is more of a staple than I wish it was in our household.  The kids request to watch 'our shows' when we get home from school/daycare.  They are budding movie buffs, especially of the Disney/Pixar variety.  Sometimes, however, it becomes too much and my mom instinct kicks in to call a 'screen break'.  The kids are not always the most receptive to this idea at first, especially when it's involving nearly anything on Nick Jr.  But, eventually, they'll change their tune and more willingly participate in their alternative activity.

For dinner tonight, we ordered in, which was a beautiful thing because I was in so much pain from being on my feet way too long today, despite the doctor's orders.  Clean up was relatively quick (thank you, Randy), which left us with nearly an hour and a half before bedtime.  Since I am pretty limited in movement, we spent some time in the living room so I could rest my foot. 

And yes, we watched television.  However, in terms of what we watched, it was something that (while on television) was not typical 'television'.  We watched a recorded Maroon 5 concert.  Randy and I love the band, as their album 'Songs About Jane' reminds us of the early years of our relationship at Penn State. 

The kids are familiar with the band as well, and in fact, some of Gavin's earliest 'favorite songs' are from their body of work.  While I was relaxing with Randy on the couch, icing my injury, the kids put on a tandem concert with one of our favorite bands.

2 of the cutest guys I know...Gavin...and Adam Levine ;)

Brynn loves his voice, too :)

Meanwhile, Raegan thinks her voice has what it takes to star on the 'The Voice'

Gavin learning some moves from the cutie pie front man
While I recongize that the television isn't always the most beneficial of all activities for our family to do together, the memories it helped create tonight make up for a little bit of the mindless quality that Spongebob offers.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

All in the name of mommy hood

This morning started out like any other weekend morning...with Raegan waking me way too early for my liking, requesting a bottle. I recognized this request by her shrieking wails. On our way down the stairs, she was cuddling her sweet face in the crook of my neck, as if to apologize for the ungodly hour on a Sunday morning. Three steps from the bottom, however, her tune changed, and she flailed backwards. Her action threw me off balance as I caught her before she fell out of my arms. My foot slipped, and my left foot caught on the step, bending my big toe back along with it. thankfully, we slid just three steps down, and I was already in the process of pulling her back toward me. The only thing that happened to Raegan was a bit of a surprise as well as bumping her forehead on my chin.

Tears instantly sprang to my eyes, but I knew that if I didn't get that bottle that tears would soon pour from Raegans' eyes, along with the shrieking wail from earlier. So, I did what any mom would do, I took care of my baby before I worried about myself. I hobbled over to the kitchen, made her a bottle, and then hobbled to the couch, where I promptly began feeding her. Once she was happily noshing away, I texted Randy, who was awake but had not heard me slip. I couldn't stop the tears from streaming down my cheeks. He brought me some ice, took the baby from my lap, and proceeded to make a few little jokes about my lack of capacity to even walk.

Two hours later, I was sitting in urgent care awaiting my X-ray reading. The result: a broken toe (duh) and hyperextended tendon. I was given a *stellar* boot that defines nothing about my fashion sense (let alone anyone with the gift of vision), a prescription for pain medication, and sent on my hobbling way. Awesome.

Since I pretty much only wear heels, save my converse on Fridays with my Miss Me jeans, I was forced to purchase a couple pairs of ballet flats to avoid walking even more like Frankenstein than I already will be.

Of course, this is an ornately busy upcoming week and weekend, which means I am needing to be on my feet even more than usual (which is already too much...just ask my chiropractor who hasn't adjusted me in far too long because my schedule makes it a near impossibility). So I'm praying that I heal quickly.

I know I sound like I'm complaining. I'm in pain and have been all day. My foot is swollen and my toe bruised, somewhat resembling a bratwurst. I will be going to work, the store, and everywhere else with an obvious gimp and a horribly unstylish boot.

But, Raegan is ok. She isn't hurt. She didn't know anything more than a little run-in with mommy's chin, which was immediately followed by the thing she needed most from me at that moment-food.

Mommy hood is hard, it's painful, it's exhausting. It leaves our bodies changed, our wallets changed, and our hearts changed. And there's nothing else in the world I'd rather do. It's worth every wrinkle, gray hair, and pain--even the most excruciating of all pain.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The family dinner

"All great change in America begins at the dinner table."
~Ronald Reagan

I am a huge proponent of the family dinner. Sharing a meal around the dinner table as a whole family is one of those memories from my childhood that provides me with comfort and impacts the set of values I have developed throughout the years.

If Randy is home for dinner, 9.5 times out of 10, dinner is around the table. Occasionally, we'll have a 'picnic' in front of a movie, or the kids will eat first and Randy and I have dinner after they go to bed, so that we can reconnect without having to cut things, cool them down, refill milk, etc,...

When we all eat together, there are some things that I envision for what I believe is my 'ideal', all the while keeping the 'reality' in perspective. Right now, I spend a lot of the beginning part of dinner doing all the 'mom' type things that come with serving your family a meal. Typically, as a result, Randy and the kids are finished far faster than I am, which leaves the kids getting antsy and eventually asking to be excused. I'm left sitting alone at the table with Randy either beginning the eleaning up process, or entertaining the kids.

I'm sure you can guess that my 'reality' is overtaking my 'ideal'. There are a few other structures that I have recognized that we need to put in place so that we can create a meaningful and memorable experience so our kids will consider the institution of a family meal as a cornerstone of there set of values. I don't want it to become a rigid, formatted type of experience with a strict set of rules, but rather a set of 'norms' that we follow so that everyone is able to treasure the time spent together.

I came upon a website called The Family Dinner Project, which provides a great starting point for people like me, who has a good idea of what it should look like, but lacks the time in order to design and plan my proposition for change. Here's to a positive experience that will further deepens the impact of our time spent together.

Raegan: I love how this is your typical face on pasta night.  And I also *adore* how you're gazing up at your daddy.

Brynn: I love how your selection of beverages is what 'makes you feel better'

Gavin: I love your typical '5-year-old-boy' behavior.  Bizarre mixed with the perfect amount of silliness :)

Friday, February 10, 2012

teaching about love

Tonight, the kids and I went to choose Valentines for their friends.  Gavin chose 3-D dinosaur cards, while Brynn chose Hello Kitty.  They carried their boxes of cards around the entire store, and proudly showed them to the cashier, who pretended to be enthusiastic enough to suffice. 

Brynn carried her box of Valentines to the car, chatted to it and about it the entire way home, carried it into the house, sat down on the couch with it, and only then proceeded to ask me, "Mommy, what is a Valentine?"

I realized that she was so caught up in the concept of the charcter on the front that she didn't understand the 'why'.  I explained to Brynn that we give Valentines to people that we love, or care a lot about.  She nodded, but wasn't sure if she really understood. 

Now that the kids are sleeping, I'm thinking about how it is that we teach our kids about love.  We say "I love you" to our kids often, many times daily.  They'll say it on their own, not just as a response to our statement.  But, do they really know what love means?  I'd like to think they do, based on the way the kids act and the way they treat others.

These four passages in the Bible confirm that as our children grow and learn about life and love, that we are seeking the right way in which to go about it.  They do recognize love, they know what love means as much as we can ask a nearly 6 and 4 year old to understand love.  And, so long as we continue to use these four standards to reinforce the comprehension of love, then I am confident in a few years time, Brynn won't care who is on the box of her Valentines.

Luke 5:13 ... Teach love through contact
John 21:15-17 ... Teach love by example
John 1:3-5 .. Teach love through conceptualization
Romans 12: 19-21 ... Teach love through practice


Thursday, February 9, 2012

kid chatter

Tonight, I met my best friend, her sister, and her mom for dinner.  I had made the plans earlier in the week, knowing full well that Randy was on call and I'd most likely have to bring the troops along with me.  When I found out this afternoon that Randy would be home, Gavin opted to hang with daddy as opposed to spending time with the girls.  So, Gavin and Randy headed to dinner at LoDo's (a family favorite), while the girls and I headed toward our destination (well, actually, we wound up at the wrong destination because I am a ditz and didn't remember there was an additional location of the restaurant pretty much up the road from our house). 

While we were driving, Brynn took full advantage of the fact that she essentially had one-on-one time with mommy.  Raegan babbled in the background as Brynn talked.  And talked.  And talked.  (hmm...apple....tree...the connection is a pretty close one!)  I turned on the voice recorder app on my phone, and just let it listen. 

Tonight, as I sat down to blog, I played it again.  Here's a snippet of Brynn's stream of consciousness (and yes, this is the 'conversation' she had with me over a 4 minute time-period).

"Mommy, cars are yucky to eat.  I want to eat pink clouds like cotton candy.  Pink clouds are better than orange.  The moon is not allowed to be awake in the morning time.  I'm really glad we had a Raegan and not a giraffe.  A giraffe is lots and lots of hard work.  And tigers are too.  They are the most lots work.  Play some girl's songs, mommy.  I like Adele and Lady Gaga.  They are my best girl songs, not the boys songs.  Raegan cracks me up.  She makes silly faces.  Dogs are not allowed to run in the restaurants.  Raegan is really needy."


Daily love...
Gavin: I love your sense of humor, and the way you now pick up on the little teasing jokes we play on Brynn.  I remember when you'd cry about something silly that we'd say, because you thought it was true...but now it's funny to have you add to the crazy, non-sense story we've spun that sends Brynn into a tizzy.

Brynn: I love your random 'conversation', and how, at times, you share literally every thought that crosses that curly-haired mind.  You're always good for a smile, or a confused stare ;)

Raegan: I love that you have figured out before you can even form words, that in order to get a word in edge-wise in this house, you're going to have to speak up--and loud.  Your random babble that is starting to sound like you're immitating the words we say is so endearing :)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

letting go

I read a quote on Facebook today, by Melody Beattie.  It said 'Letting go doesn't mean we don't care.  Letting go doesn't mean we shut down.  Letting go means we stop trying to force outcomes and make people behave.  It means we give up resistance to the way things are, for the moment.  It means we stop trying to do the impossible--controlling that which we cannot--and instead, focus on what is possible--which usually means taking care of ourselves.  And we do this in gentleness, kindness, and love, as much as possible.

I thought about this quote a lot as I was driving home today, and while making dinner.  Applying it to my life, I have multiple aveunues in which it fits.  On one hand, I have the application to my kids.  I am letting go of the perfectionist control and vision of the perfectly organized and clutter-free home (think Better Homes and Garden, Martha Stewart, etc...).  The way things are, for the moment is crazy, and cluttered, and toy filled, and crumb-covered, and marker-stained, and always accompanied by mac and cheese and a Go-Gurt tube *just.so.they.will.eat.something.*  My focus now is not necessarily taking care of myself in terms of eating a consistently healthy diet (or even having time to eat at all), or by exercising with the frequency that I'd like (and no, chasing a speed-crawling baby doesn't count as exercise in my book).  My focus now is taking care of my soul.  Being the kind, gentle, and loving mom to my kids in every way that I know how.  It's taking those things that are urgent and putting them into the backseat for what's important when I'm home with the kids and they're awake. 

Another application that I have for this is in terms of other parts of my family.  I do not have an upstanding relationship with anyone on my dad's side of the family.  For the most part, I am able to move through my daily life without this having a large impact on me.  That may sound heartless to outsiders, but it's fact that is warranted by a lengthy and complex history, the details of which I am not prepared to delve into.  The internal struggle I am facing is that I have quite a bit of unresolved issues that creep into the back of my mind and affect my persona. 

Today at work, we had a professional development session that focused on our 'colors', which were then linked with a personality identity.  We identified and further examined our own personality traits, and then began the work of interacting with people of different 'colors' on levels that provided us further insight into how to be a more effective colleague when working with people with different personality traits.  I have done the whole 'color test' a few times before, but today, we moved beyond the self discovery and began to synthesize the information and work with it on a more productive and deeper level. 

Although I went into the test assuming I'd be one color, since I had come out that color before, I was pleasantly surprised to see a shift in my scores.  Where I had once been more orange, this time I came out as predominantly blue.  Blue personalities seek to express their inner selves.  Authenticity and honesty are valued highly and above all other characteristics.  Blues are sincere, sympathetic, empathetic, and compassionate.  They are self-searching and enjoy close relationships with the ones they love.

I recognize the ultimate purpose of our activity today was to foster relationships within the building, and to reveal the positives and needs of our colleagues.  But that doesn't mean I didn't apply the colors test to my life outside of work.

It didn't strike me as odd that a person who is predominately blue would place such a high value on authenticity, sincerity, and relationships.  I feel drawn to others with whom I can create a connection.  In fact, if a connection isn't obvious, I tend to go out of my way to create that connection.  More often than not, this is a beneficial activity for my soul, as I can walk away from a conversation--no matter how insignificant--feeling as though I was 'tuned in' to the other person, even if for just a brief few moments. 

Go back to the quote from the beginning of my post.  Three times, the phrase 'letting go' is used, along with terms like 'give up' and 'stop'.  Suddenly, when the context of this ideal is not about my kids, I am at a crossroads.  Of course, when it comes to Gavin, Brynn, and Raegan, I will give up whatever is necessary in order to be there for them.  Of course, when it comes to my husband and dear friends, I would make sure that my calendar is clear for them, my phone available at all times, my shoulders ready for someone to lean on and tears to stain it. 

Then I approach the situation of people with whom I have not felt that connection.  The concept of that does not sit well with me as it is, regardless of the paths that have led to our current stalemate.  My struggle comes when I have to make decisions about how to move foward from here.  I think the reason that this quote stuck with me so much throughout my afternoon and evening is because of the repeated phrase 'letting go'.  I have to decide on what level I need to 'let go', whether that means 'let go' of my own anger and frustrations with the way in which the relationships (or lack thereof) have panned out over the years, or 'let go' of those relationships which do not ultimately foster my own personal growth.  I've spent time praying on this a lot recently, as I feel this urgency to make a move away from the impasse we currently reside in. 

Ultimately, I know that my heart will make the decision that is best for my soul, my identity, and my family.  I know that Randy and our kids are my number one priority in terms of happiness (after my own, of course, as is the saying 'if momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy'--funny, but ultimately true because we cannot make others happy if we are not happy with ourselves).

For tonight, my thought process has reached a roadblock.  I cannot conceptulalize what my next steps are, so I close my ramblings with this prayer:
God, help me to be open to change; help me also to stand fast by my beliefs when they are right.

What I love tonight about each of my kids:
Gavin: I love that you chose a Star Wars book in libary today and when I read it to you tonight, you suggested Daddy read it, because you know I can't pronounce half of the words. (Thank you for helping me with the words as I read)
Brynn: I love that you decided tonight that you 'LOVE' writing so much because it's 'so much fun', and that the words you chose to write tonight were 'mom, dad, Raegan, Brynn, basketball, and picture.  Random...and uniquely you.
Raegan: I love that you've learned how to give 'aa-aa's' to mommy, daddy, Gavin, Brynn, stuffed animals, and almost anything you can cuddle your cute face against and say 'aaaa' to.  Precious :)

somedays, I need this to be written on the mirror so I start my day off with a different mindset

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Take a seat...a back seat

This afternoon, my principal gave my grade level a half-day to review recent data and collaboratively work together to plan our next steps.  It was a much-appreciated and well-utilized time frame from my perspective, because it isn't often that we have a 3 hour block of time to focus our conversations so much on the art of teaching and enhancing our practice as well as student learning, without the interruption of having to pick up the kids, grade papers, respond to emails, etc, etc, etc.

While this time was fruitful and productive, I left the session feeling inadequate in my career.  None of these feelings were brought on by the actions/conversations during our session...oh no, my own insecurities and desire to give 100% in all that I do left me feeling as though I simply should be doing more.  I recognize the amount of work I do as a teacher, and know that my students are doing well and enjoy learning.  That being said, I have an absolute passion for the art of teaching.  I have wanted to become a teacher since walking into Mrs. Toney's kindergarten classroom at Rainbow Elementary.  My entire life's focus in terms of my academia has been centered around the craft of teaching.  There is always something I can improve upon., tweak, or modify to further enhance student learning.

When I left work today, I ran one quick errand before shifting from 'teacher rmode' into 'mom mode'.  My mind was still racing with all the things I have to do in order to feel even more effective in my daily instruction.  I envisioned spending a few uninterrupted hours at home scouring the world wide web for resources and ideas for my upcoming units of study, as well as organizing a restructure of my reading strategy groups.  At the end of this planning session, my lesson plan book would be perfectly filled in, with the necessary components for instructing every one of my students with their individual needs at the forefront of each mini-lesson. 

Then, reality hit.  The backseat of my car soon became filled with the sounds of chattering children who wanted to share the moments of their day that were important or funny to them.  There were a few fights about who was 'talking over' whom, and a few stories that seemed to have a little 'extra' for the dramatic effect (not to mention playing the unspoken game of 'one up' against sibilings).

As soon as my literal backseat filled with kids, my career and all the plans of grandeur I was concocting took a hypothetical backseat.  I was quickly thrown into play time, dancing, chasing, singing, preparing dinner, cleaning...you get the idea.  My plan book sat unopened on the counter, beckoning me to open it and begin creating greatness for my classroom, beginning to apply the 'a-ha' moments that I had today.  But Randy was at work.  Raegan was fussing, and the older two were fighting.  I felt like my plan book moved into the way back seat. 

After the older two were tucked in, I sat with Raegan to give her a bottle, and I cried.  I had just sent my kids to bed without a bed time story.  That doesn't happen often, but tonight, right before their bedtime, it clicked with me that it was Tuesday.  Normally, just another day, but for the past month, Tuesday has represented the night before my course work for my online class is due.  Eeesh.  The expectation is that we spend about 2-3 hours a week working on the assignments, and based on my previous weeks, I knew that was an accurate amount of time.  Restructuring my reading strategy groups by way of my plan book and *fancy* color-coded folders immediately became one of those stickers on the back windshield of my car, because the third row seat wasn't 'back seat' enough for it. 


One could argue that while I am spending my time typing this blog, that I could be working on lesson plans.  And, you could have a very valid argument.  The good news about being a teacher with the passion and experience that I have, I know that while my plan book might not be perfectly filled in as I ideally envision, I know what my day looks like for tomorrow, and the next day as well.  I have a good system in place with my students and they are familiar with the schedule and routine of the day.  I am confident that I am still doing a good job instructing students, even if I had to put some of my work into the 'back seat' of my mind.

Life is full of prioritizing.  I spend a lot of time making 'to do' lists, whether it be in my mind, on my iPhone, or on Post-It notes (I am a sticky note aficionado).  I've been working on making sure that I don't let the urgent things crowd out the important.  That means that I ocassionally have to check out the contents of my back seat.  Sometimes my teaching takes a backseat while I focus on my family.  Sometimes my family takes a backseat while I focus on something I need to complete for work.  Sometimes I need work and family to take a backseat so that I can focus on my friends.  And sometimes (just sometimes), all of it needs to take a backseat so that I can focus on me (hence, the blog).  I'll find the time for the planning tomorrow.

Gavin, I love that you work so hard during the school day, that sometimes you just need to 'veg' for a while when we get home.  You're learning so much and trying so hard.  We are so proud of you.

Brynn, I love how you emulate mommy by working on your 'co-poo-ter'.  You're one adorable little blogger-in-training ;)

I found these cuties in the backseat of my car this afternoon :)

Raegan, I love your sense of adventure.  Your fearlessness to try and climb stairs at the age of 9 months is adorable, yet aging.


Monday, February 6, 2012

Ode to the Busy Mom

oh, sweet sleep...how I once took you for granted...
Thankful to have come across this on Little Writer Momma in my random blog browsing.  I could not have said it better myself...especially tonight as I am still working on getting my youngest to sleep at 9:00 with no sign of relief on the horizon.  Lesson plans have been abandoned, the laundry awaits the dryer, my body craves the comfort of a warm shower, sweats, and a good book.  But I am a mommy first, and my job awaits my undivided attention.

Ode to the Busy Mom
By Lisa Littlewood

Perhaps you think you've gone plain crazy, 
Or if not mad, than simply lazy
For you used to keep a house so clean,
And now a polished floor, well that's a dream. 

There are crumbs that cover every piece
Of linoleum floor and then there is grease
Stuck to the burners upon the stove
and Cheerio dust that will stick to your toes.

Laundry piles near the washer so high
that it shocks your own mother, she responds with "Oh My!"
"Are you sick?" she asks. "Is everything alright?
You should never have more laundry than you can do in one night."

"Oh mother," you say, as you roll your eyes.
"It's about the quality of life not the laundry pile size."
But even as you say it you wonder inside, 
Am I doing enough? Am I doing it right?

Motherhood is a journey wrought with doubt
Whether all you are doing will ever amount
To anything important, to anything dear
Or will we all just end up in a therapist's chair?!

Chin up fellow mommas, sisters in life
My house is also a mess, my children, they fight. 
It is simply a part of the road me must travel
Even though it can feel like it all might unravel. 

For when you love and serve from a place that cares
Does it really matter if your sink prompts stares?
Does it really matter if your shelves are dusty 
Or if your refrigerator smells just a little musty?

A day will come when your floor will be clean. 
Your dishes put away, your house again pristine. 
When that day comes it will be quiet inside
For your children will be off living their lives. 

Lives of their own and their mess you will miss. 
So for now ignore the laundry and give them a kiss.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lions, and Tigers, and (Papa) Bears, Oh My!

One of the most amazing things I have watched over the past five and a half years is the transformation Randy has made into fatherhood.  We were surprised with the news that we'd become parents way back in September of 2005.  Our 'plan' had children fitting in somewhere down the line, allowing us time to explore the world a little, or at least this area of the country we had just moved to. 

But God had a different plan, after Gavin was born, Randy was thrown into a world that was seemlingly unfamiliar territory.  We were both new to the 'game' of raising kids, but there's that thing called 'mother's instinct' that kicks in and gives a mommy a little bit of an edge in terms of knowing what to do.  At least, that's how it was in our situation.  I had been around babies for my whole life between younger brothers, cousins, and babysitting charges.  Add the experience I had to my instincts, and I was off to a pretty good start.  However, I'm sure if we could go back and revisit our 'new parent' selves, we'd have quite the laundry list of tips and tricks.

As the years passed, and our family grew, parenting became our second nature.  We have developed a dynamic that works well for both our personalities, as well as for our beliefs in terms of raising our family.  Parenting young children is ever-changing.  Phases and ages pass by quickly, and when you have multiple ages and phases under one roof, it's a wonder anyone remembers what was for dinner the night before. 

In our first *nearly* six years of parenting, things have been all over the board.  We've had stresses and joys and everything in between.  We're learning and changing and working on things every day.  There are things I wish I would have changed, responses I wish that were softer and gentler.  They're minor in the scheme of things, because despite the things I wish I'd been better about, our kids are happy.  They're well-adjusted to the non-traditional schedule that daddy works, because they don't know any better.  They're well behaved when they need to accompany me to the store because daddy is working, or to a book study for work.  They're well provided for, and despite what we ocassionally think, are not spoiled brats because they are developing an understanding that things cost money, and that money does not grow on trees (wow, do I sound like my mom, or what?!)

I've enjoyed watching Randy develop a connection with each of the kids, and in an individual sense.  Out of the two of us, I'd say he's definitely more on the 'fun' side, and often times, it feels like I have an additional kid in the house.  His interactions with the kids remind me that this time is so precious, and that I need to let go, relax, and enjoy the ride.  For a guy who wasn't so sure about being a dad, he sure knows a lot about being a father.

Gavin and Brynn, I love how you remind me the beauty of imagination.
Turning Gavin's room into a zoo, becoming a lion and a tiger...a perfect recipe for lazy Sunday fun

Raegan, I love how you've captured your daddy's heart...softened it even more with your smiles and silly faces.

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Another day inside, relaxing and enjoying the craziness of three active little kiddies.  All day long, the kids take toys out of the bins, scatter them about, and then reluctantly put them away when I realize the mess has become too much for the space.  Their hands are always busy, always building Legos, turning something into a microphone or princess wand, or grabbing at things they shouldn't be. 

At dinner tonight, Brynn told me she wants to be an artist when she grows up (fitting), while Gavin wants to be a dinosaur scientist (he had been watching Jurassic Park).  Raegan didn't share her dreams for the future, but her fingers were busy picking up the tiny pieces of chicken and dumplings on the tray of her highchair.  I love having these conversations with the kids, hearing about their future ambitions, and hopes for a career.  Both of them change their mind frequently, which is normal, and quite endearing to hear how their current situation or surroundings encourage their thought process.  I know they'll have a million and one more potential career changes as they grow up.

Recently, I have begun noticing the times that Gavin actually holds my hand.  It's becoming more rare as he grows older, even when we cross the parking lot, he tells me he's ok walking right next to me, rather than holding my hand.  Brynn still holds my hand, but I am noticing her taking a more independent role when typical 'hand holding situations' arise.  Raegan doesn't know any better to hold my hand yet, except for when she wants to try and toddle from one place to another.  I love how her little fist grips onto just one of my fingers for dear life as her wobbly legs transport her across the living room. 

Their hands are growing far too fast, as is the rest of them.  I often wonder what those hands will do when they're grown up.  Will they heal, build, protect, create, teach, cook, and nurture?  Will their hands be the hands that help cure cancer, or build structures that will become housing on the moon?  Will they write books that entertain, have nimble athetic ability that gives younger children reason to keep practicing their favorite sport, or will they care for children and teach them to be responsible and independent members of society? 

The hands that I watch explore the world with a clumsy and curious grasp will do great things, this I know.  But for now, I enjoy those times I can hold them.  Even if the times are few and far between, the hands are sticky and filthy with markers giving them a technicolor appearance, and their fingernails are dirty and in need of a trim (didn't I just do that two days ago?!)...I will cherish their hands, for who knows the true potential they hold.

Gavin, Brynn, and Raegan...today, and everyday, I love the hands that have grabbed my by the heartstrings from the moment I knew you existed. 
Tiny Handprints
Author Unknown

Tiny handprints grow so fast
Their awkward groping soon will clasp
A ball, a book a sweetheart’s hand
A diploma, briefcase, a wedding band

Tiny handprints grow so strong
It doesn’t take them very long
To snap a shirt, to paint, to draw
To work hard, to drive a car

Tiny handprints grow to be
A person that is quite unique
A wonderful mix of so many things
With his own feelings, thought and dreams

Tiny handprints grow to rely
On his parents to bring him up just right
His parents pray that when he’s grown
He’ll say their job has been well done

Tiny handprints are ours to love
The sweetest gift from God above
A miracle that never is surpassed
How sad they grow up way to fast

Friday, February 3, 2012

A change of heart about snow

We had a snow day today.  Well, technically, I had a furlough day from work, but the snow storm wound up closing the district for those who weren't a part of the furlough.  The total snowfall for our area was significantly less than surrounding areas, however 10 inches of snow is still more than I care to see.  I don't like snow.  I know, I know...a friend recently pointed out that living in Colorado, what did I expect to see in winter?!?  While I realize Colorado weather is among some of the most fickle I've ever seen, the idea of freezing white flakes of miserable-ness is not necessarily on the top of my list of 'fun things'.   

In order to 'celebate' my day off work, we spent our day lounging around, napping, playing, watching television, and reading.  Sometimes you just need a day like that.  Thankfully, Randy kept the older two busy for a while down in the basement cleaning up and (making the attempt) to organize the toys.  It gave Raegan and I a good stretch of time where we could snooze together.  Bliss.


When I got home last night, it was just about the kids' bedtime, so I gave them a hug and kiss before they headed up the stairs.  Gavin was kind of devastated that he couldn't find his Eeyore.  The attachment he has to that little guy inspired me to take a picture of them together this morning.

Gavin, I love how you've developed a friendship with Eeyore that allows you to show your creativity, innocence, and true love of a special friend.

The challenge of a snow day is that we aren't even getting out of the house--or our pajamas for that matter--because of the gobs of snow that are cramping my style.  We start to go a little bananas and have to be creative to make sure the kids are getting their energy out.  Thankfully for me, Brynn has a mind of her own, and created her own mini-zumba/ballet class.
Brynn, I love your dance moves, and your free spirit.  I'm sure we'll see you on Pearl Street in Boulder in the future.
Raegan, being relatively new to the world, was in awe of the snow as it piled up and drifted on our back deck.  She spent a great deal of time this morning hanging out by the back door just observing and being curious.

Raegan, I love watching you as you try to learn about and make sense of your world.  It makes me smile when you become excited about something that I typically take for granted.  I should take the opportunity to look at the world through your lens, and recognize the beauty, awe, and wonder of everything God has created.
Gavin's basketball game has been cancelled for tomorrow, so I'm thinking we need to have another day hunkered down at home, with french toast for brunch and some chicken and dumplings for dinner.  Maybe a little candy making (s'mores truffles...um...yummy?!), and definitely some memory making.  The days where we have nothing we're required or expected to do except be with each other are the ones I'll treasure most as they all grow up and into their own little social lives, deciding they don't want to be hanging out with their mom all the time.  Maybe snow isn't such a bad thing afterall.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The kids are alright

Teaching is one of those professions that pans out fairly well when it comes to being a working mommy.  The breaks and time off throughout the school year, in addition to that delightful three month hiatus better known as 'summer' provide me with a chance to have a career that I'm passionate about as well as have a decent amount of time with the kids during those breaks (and the sheer bliss of summer...unmatched). 

However, teaching also comes with many additional stresses.  A teacher's job does not end when the bell rings, and most teachers I know (including me) lug a lot of work back and forth between home and school throughout the week.  Meetings and standards and curriculum and parent communication and trainings and conferences...a teacher wears many hats throughout the day. 

Today, it was that last item on my list that provided an extra layer of stress to my already bogged-down schedule.  Twelve plus hours at school holding parent/teacher conferences...needless to say, my voice is exhausted, my body aches, my face hurts from smiling all day long (moreso than usual), and the worst side effect, my daily dose of my cutie pie munchkins was not fulfilled. 

Fotunately for scheduling purposes, Randys' days off coordinated with my conference day, and the kids all stayed home with him.  I was able to get out the door this morning at an insanely disgusting hour so that I could spend a little extra time getting those last-minute preparations in order for my day.  While I felt pretty pleased crossing a few things off that pesky 'to do' list that graces the margin of my plan book, my early departure from home prevented me from seeing anyone this morning.  As the day progressed, the 'breaks' I had scheduled myself to refuel and refocus became more like shallow 'pockets' of time, in which I could use the restroom, grab another bottled water, and snack on (yet another) chocolate truffle (decadent, delicious, and devastating to my diet and waistline.  But, hey, I burned those calories talking and walking the hall down to the teacher's lounge, right?!). 

My time available to 'check in' was dwindling, as I tried (and failed) to stay on schedule with my conference discussions.  I knew Randy was holding down the fort--keeping the kids entertained, fed, cleaned, and happy.  I had prepped dinner for him the night before so his work to complete the meal was minimal--and not much more challenging than boiling water (literally).  I knew all this.  Yet why, why was I feeling guilty?

One word: mom.  I am a mommy.  I nurture, I feed, I pick up from day care and hug and cuggle and kiss.  I bathe them.  I clean up their dinner, their toys, their faces.  I watch them play, listen to the noise, and tell them to calm down as the evening hours dwindle and bedtime is on the horizon.  But tonight, I didn't.  I arrived home just in time to receive hugs and smooches as they were heading up to bed.  I felt bad that I wasn't there to make them one of their favorites (spaghetti).  I wanted to read with them before bed.  I wanted to be there for them.  But I couldn't.

After putting Raegan in her crib, I scanned through a book I found at the book fair at school entitled, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff for Moms.  There is a little chapter about working mommy guilt.  As I scanned the page, I noticed a quote at the end of the chapter that said, 'the kids are alright (really)--and so are you'.  Thank you, amen.  My personal mantra.  Or at least it needs to be.

Raegan, I love watching you clap your little hands together when you're excited or playing pat-a-cake.  Adorableness squared.

Gavin, I love how you include your sister in your games, even if you know she's not the best catcher (or thrrower...)

Brynn, I love how you look up to your brother.  You're learning so many (good) things from him.  Keep watching ;)

Raegan...you.love.spaghetti.  Enough said.