Friday, November 19, 2010

what DO you give the little boy who donates a dollar?

So, Miles and I were at the grocery store the other day. As we exited, there was a table we passed accepting donations for disabled veterans. Almost too late, I realized that I actually had a tiny bit of cash on me (very rare!), and sent Miles back to donate a dollar as I waited on the sidewalk.

The last thing I expected was to be given anything in return for our meager donation.

But, no, they were ready to thank my eight-year-old with a small gift:

From the back cover...
"After Hudson Savage betrayed her, Dana Cardwell hoped never again to lay eyes on the seductive cowboy..."


Sunday, November 14, 2010

last of the (super long overdue) chicago pictures

Over a month ago, I wrote, "More on the trip soon." Fail. If I've learned anything about myself, it's that if I commit to doing anything on my blog, I don't do it. So, with that in mind, I will never post all our stops we made on our summer vacation.

A few thoughts on Chicago. I'm SO glad we had to travel through it twice (on the way out and on the way back to Minneapolis). I love this hub of the midwest for the people, the memories we've made there over the years and for all that it offers in terms of food and entertainment. At this stage in life, it's more about the people and the food.

We stayed with the Vander Griends. I met Kim in college and have already written a bit about her here and there. She's hilarious and intense. Her husband is also hilarious and intense, but in complimentary ways. They are so comfortable to be around. Even before they had children, they were really cool with ours. Kim has a very enchanting way with kiddos.

Our girls are very close in age. Lucy and Jillian are a few days apart. Lila and Phoebe are three months apart. I was a little obsessed with matching them. But getting a picture was tricky! It's hard enough to get ONE kid to look at a camera, let alone FOUR!!!

Kim reading to the girls.

The Dads took out the kids to Millennium Park (as I wrote SO long ago).

And we took out the babies. I have one request when I visit Chicago: cupcakes. If you're ever in Lincoln Park (am I right, Kim?), Go to Sweet Mandy B's. Get yourself a vanilla cupcake. (And then get another for the road.) It's AH-mazing. I have become a bit of a cupcake connoisseur over the years. I have not found a cupcake that competes with Sweet Mandy B's. (Okay, now I'm salivating. Cannot write about this anymore!!!)

next stop, OHIO. (but i will NOT post about it...reverse psychology works, right??!!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

I is for Isaac. J is for Jillian.

My little preschooler is learning a lot this year. This is her buddy, Isaac. She talks about him all the time. And according to her, I is always for Isaac. (By the way, Isaac's mommy took this super great picture!)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

one of my favorite parenting tips

The further into this journey of parenting I go, the more grace I need. I need it from the Lord obviously. And I need it from my friends. Here's a quote from a friend that I've been noodling on for awhile.

"Someone recently asked me for parenting advice and I told them, 'Surround yourself with friends who don't judge you or your parenting.'" (That was Sarah T, for the locals.)

Sure, I was as guilty as any other person pre-children. Even when the boys were still kinda little, I said things like "My kid will never ____."

One way God humbled me was to bless me with four children. I don't know an honest Christian mother who doesn't think that God is using motherhood to sanctify her. Holy Moly. I am constantly being humbled by saying things I never thought I'd say. I've turned a blind eye to behavior I never thought I'd permit. I struggle with anger more than I ever could have imagined. And, strangely, my children are not the perfect robot angels that I once knew they'd be. (But, they are pretty great!!!)

With all my failures in mind, it makes a WORLD of difference when I know I'm in the company of those who have grace for me. They have love and grace for me despite my flawed parenting. They have love and grace for my sinful children. Quite honestly, a friend's judgment on top of the failure does nothing if it doesn't make me a worse parent. It's burdensome.

What I need is understanding. I need encouragement. I need patience.

(And friends who are being judgmental need understanding and patience too! Bear with them and love them! And trust that God will humble them in His time! :D)

No need to affirm my stupid parenting moments. I don't need someone to tell me that my anger or my inconsistent parenting is inspiring. I need to know they love me anyway and that they'll be praying for me. I need to know they'll pray for my kids.

And, by God's grace, that's what I have. I am so blessed to be surrounded by friends who aren't judging me. I feel safe to confess my shortcomings and walk in the light and come away refreshed and ready to be a better mom.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

the problem with juice boxes and other thoughts

1. The problem with juice boxes is that they are 6.75 ounces. I need a good 12 or more ounces to quench my thirst. Alas!! The only non-water beverages we have currently are juice boxes. I guess I could drink three.

update: I had a dream last night in which I enjoyed a juice box the size of a cereal box. if only...

2. Did I ever mention here that my parents moved to Romania? Yes? Okay. Well, I miss them. Christmas decorations are out and that makes me all nostalgic for the Christmases of yore with my Mom and Dad, aka Mommala and DaddyO.

3. Speaking of Christmas, when do you get a tree (if you get a live one). We've cut one down for the last three years, and I'm getting super excited to do this again. I'm thinking we might have to get one kinda early this year. Do you think it will last? Do you have any great tricks to keep your tree alive??

4. Let this be a warning to you.

Never loan me a book. This stack here is OPERATION BOOK RETURN. seriously. (But, Meg, I'm keeping Future Grace for a bit because I'm actually reading that one right now. Oh...and Jenny, this reminds me! I keep meaning to bring you Planet Earth!!) Of all these books, I've read only THREE from cover to cover. Can you guess which ones??

5. Jillian saw this picture in a Target ad.

The one on the left? "This one is my DADDY!!!" The one on the right? "This one is like MOMMY!" wha?? Okay, I'll take it. At least she thought of me at all!

6. What's up with all the Mormon propaganda? Have you noticed this? What's particularly noteable in my opinion is that there is no message of hope. It's totally like, "Hey, all KINDS of people is Mormons, yo. Artists, surfers, businessmen. So like, you could be one too if you wanted. I'm sure you were just hung up on the fact that you thought we were weird. So, yeah. Be cool. Be Mormon." psh.

7. I'm in one of the biggest cooking slumps of my life. It started in the summer when I had no time to cook between having all the kids home and carting them to baseball and soccer pretty much during the dinner hour. And then when I tried to cook, it was fail-time. I totally lost my touch. The kids would say things like, "This doesn't taste like your cooking" or "This is yucky." Brent would say, "It's alright" or "Not your best." And I could hardly disagree with them. I stopped improvising any recipes because I just couldn't trust my instincts. That helped. But now I just dread menu planning and cooking. Please tell me this slump will end soon.

8. If you can't promise me that the cooking slump will end soon, can you please send gift cards for restaurants? I'm kidding. I'm done. WAIT. No. Speaking of restaurants, I recently left my credit card at a Chili's. I got it back and all seemed fine until we got a little call-e-o from the fraud department of Visa. And do you want to know what some pork-knucker ordered with our stolen credit card information? A subscription to World of Warcraft magazine. People are dumb.

9. Uh-oh. I think this calls for a little Antoine Dodson! Fuh ree-ahl.

Monday, November 1, 2010

trick or treat

i LLLLLOVE making costumes. i welcome the challenge of creativity under pressure with limited resources. so, despite all the reasons to ignore Halloween, i welcome it with open arms, a box cutter, and a needle and thread (and, to be totally honest, one store-bought costume)

First of all, our Avery said that he thinks at the ripe old age of 10, he's getting to old for Halloween. Really? He didn't linger here as he realized that not dressing up and not trick-or-treating would result in not having candy. So, he decided to be a baseball player. Again. (He's been a baseball player at least three times.) But that's cool. I encourage kids to come up with their own costumes. Here he is with his little buddy, Sam Rigney.

When I asked Miles a few weeks ago what he wanted to be, he answered, "A box." I just checked that off my list immediately knowing that we could postpone it for awhile. Then about two hours before go time, we stacked a few boxes together and voila! It was quite brilliant, actually. Watching him glide from house to house was so entertaining. He was quite the crowd pleaser.

Next to "Miles the Moving Boxes" is our Flower Princess, Jillian. Now, to be quite honest, I made her a Little Red Riding Hood costume. I followed the pattern best I could, but I chose a fabric that was just not right. In my opinion, the LRRH costume looked more like Little Red Riding Druid. Not what I was going for. So, we opted for this. She was happy. So was Old Navy. They like the business.

I had to save the best for last (for the few of you left who have yet to see!). A few days ago, my friend Jenny made me promise that I'd make a costume to go along with her little Sam's costume. Jenny hand-made an awesome Nacho Libre costume and I likewise made an Encarnacion costume. The awesome results:

Jenny and I with our Nacho and Encarnacion! Go to Jenny's blog for a very entertaining post and way more pictures.

Me with the cutest little nun I ever did see!