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Chasing Babies... Growing in Grace: January 2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thankful for...

... a few more and counting...

172. Daddy coming home at the end of the day

173. you tube time in the chair with Daddy

174. this view from the kitchen

175. help while I finish up dinner

176. my servant husband willing to put aside tiredness or quiet time after work to grab up the kids so I can concentrate

177. those same arms that hug me tight

178. being on this crazy journey together

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Friday, January 28, 2011

Raising Older Women... check it out!

A week or so ago, I stumbled through bloggyland and was delighted to find a real life friend from my college days!

When I left Southern California 6 years ago, I really left. And am in touch with hardly anyone from those days (which is my whole life). I didn't do it on purpose. No bridges were burned. It just sort of happened. This became my life. My Beloved became my life. And now, my babies are my life too. I am blessed that a couple friends from that world (my life before marriage) still keep long distance company with me now and then (Thanks Fern and Jens!) but neither of them live down there anymore anyway. I'm not even sure it's my fault. I send "updates" via mass email to a number of people down there. I guess you could say I keep in touch (though not personally), but I rarely ever hear back.

So what a treat to find that I recognized one of the new contributors over at Raising Homemakers! I clicked right over and made contact. And what do you know... she remembered me too! She even added me to her reader. Isn't that sweet?!? And I check over there regularly.

This morning I clicked over to Raising Homemakers (as I often do) and read one of the best posts about raising daughters I've ever read. Truly. As I scrolled down and wrapped it up, there was her name. My real life friend Veronica!

Click over here to read her post on raising an older woman!

Then bop on over and check out her blog... I have found a number of things I just love over there already. And she's so very thorough in studying and applying Scripture to her posts!

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


Our Snow Scape (at the end of the street)

Sweet Pea in a jumble of hand me down colors.

Tornado just loved all the snowballs.

Leaving tracks.

The college guys up the street made this huge snowman...
at 2 am.

Falling was the favorite pass time.

Even Little Man was out with us.

Do you have any snow?

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Staying Dry

Sometime this past Fall, I found myself desperate to find some way to help Tornado stay dry at night. He's been dry during the day since before he was 2, but during the night is another story.

Yes, I know... all kids do it in their own time. Some kids just aren't ready at 3 years old. Etc, etc.

The thing is, earlier last year he was doing it. And for several weeks... almost without incident. He was just... dry. And diaperless!

Then, I was washing bedsheets and jammies every morning. And the poor kid was soaked through all the time. Even by midnight when we'd try to take him before we went to bed. So the diaper went back on. For my sanity as much as for his comfort.

And then he was soaking those diapers (perhaps I should have gone name brand) and still soaking jammies and bedding. I can't tell you how glad I am that it was just toddler bed with crib sheet and favorite blanket I had to wash every day and not a full set of sheets and blankets like it would be now.

So there I was... desperate (with a newborn I might add). Something needed to change. We reduced night time drinking and put a stop on all but a bedtime sip after 6 or 6:30.

I considered (briefly) washing my mirror for you, but instead decided to keep it real.

My Beloved and I talked it though, listened to others, read online a bit and decided to try a no pressure reward system. It seemed better than the frustrated tone he may or may not have been getting in the mornings when Mommy didn't get enough sleep.

I made this cute chart (which hangs on the bathroom mirror), came up with the little rhyme and sat down with Tornado to talk about incentives. I explained the whole thing to him. Showed him the chart, read him the rhyme (a hundred times... he really likes it still) and asked him what he would like as his prize when he was dry 6 nights in a row.

Can I just say... I am so. glad. I. asked! I would have put things like toys or food or chocolate (that would have been what I wanted) or some other expensive money taking thing. So what did he want? For 6 days dry... a trip to the "Fishy Walmart". No, that's not different than regular Walmart, it just means we take a meander past the fish section.


12 days dry (which originally was to be 12 consecutive days, but now once he hits a "prize day", he keeps those and has to do another 6 in a row)... Going to the "Fishy store". That's Bass Pro Shop which is not far from our house. They have a huge aquarium (20 feet deep or so). The fish are huge too. They love to watch them. Again... no spending needed. Just a family activity.

18 days dry... the "train mall". This is the same mall where the "Fishy store" is, but they have a model train set up deeper in the mall that moves when you put $.50 in. There is even a button to push to make the train whistle!

24 days dry... he wants to play baseball as a family. Yep... a trip to the local park. Throw some balls (I don't even know if he cares about the bat), run some bases. I was informed back then that I couldn't play because I had to hold Little Man, but he had positions for the rest of the family. Recently he assigned me a position too. But I think I'm still holding Little Man.

30 days dry... I helped pick this one. We'll be having a party. Probably just us... but a party just the same. I may even make "party food"!

Now the tricky part is that every morning he wakes up wet, I take the stickers off. (You can see that some of the stickers just don't stay so well anymore.)


I know.

It's brutal... but I was so grateful that he didn't fall apart when I did it the first time. I expected him to. Nope... he just accepted it and talked about how he would be dry tomorrow.

After a couple weeks, I started to get very frustrated with the whole thing and almost scrapped it. And really, in my head, I did. I gave up. Oh well... he'll get it when he gets it. But I left the chart up. More for laziness sake than anything else. Where would I put it if I took it down anyway.

So there it sat for a couple weeks without a dry night. Then one morning he was dry again... and so excited. He came in to tell me (still in bed) that he was dry and gets to have a sticker. Ok... I was up. He got his sticker.

This went on for a while. With many days that he just didn't seem to care. Until recently he'd never made it more than 2 days in a row.

And then, this week, he went 4 days... and 5. It was almost too much to hope for, but last night, as I was settling the kids back into bed after a late night potty time (we've been taking them late at night since they moved into their "real" beds with unprotected mattresses to avoid the diapers leaking), I reminded Tornado to stay dry so we could go to the Fishy Walmart.

And he did!

We are 6 in a row!

Now, I know that kids are kids and accidents happen. This is why I revised the system. No longer does he have to make 30 days accident free to get his prizes or to go diaper free at night. If he has an accident in the next few days, he'll loose his stickers, but not the ones from that top row. Those stay forever (until we're using this chart for another kid anyway.)

And hopefully, by the time he's gotten to the bottom, and had 6 nights in a row at least 5 times... hopefully he'll be mostly through the accidents too.

Would you like to use my chart???

Here it is for you (click the pic). And I left off the incentives so that you and your boy can pick them out yourselves!

How do you do night time potty training?

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Monday, January 24, 2011

Wonderful Grace

If anything is laid out opportunity for practicing patience, reading lessons are sure to be it.

Lunch complete. Sister and baby are down. It's time to be just with Mommy. Fifteen minutes alone, more or less, to do lessons.

He loves them. Asks for them!

We've barely settled into a spot on the floor. Book open. Sounds rolling off his tongue in slow motion. I'm already frustrated. He looks up, smiles.

"I'm having fun with you Mommy!"

My heart breaks. Guilt floats at the top of my cup, overflowing with gratitude at those sweet words.

I pull him close. How can I not be enjoying this precious child? This gift? This blessing?

Why is silliness such a frustration? Why don't I remember that repetition is how they learn?

"I'm having fun with you too," I say, squeezing gently, determined to do so. And so much more the angrier at myself when I've brought him to tears not 5 minutes later. Over what? Not his reading... he does wonderfully. Because he isn't sitting right... or doesn't put his finger in the right spot.

Lord, why this anger? This hypocrisy?

There is no character issue here... at least not with him. My character is another issue entirely.

It is soiled black. I strike out at one of the least of these... am I not striking out at Him? Yet He, in all his longsuffering love for me... He just waits. His Spirit stirs in my heart... patience. Love. Kindness.

"Love is patient, love is kind... is not easily angered...." First Corinthians 13 rattles off in my mind.

I gather him into my lap, holding him close. Letting him wipe his tear soaked face into the fibers of my sweater. "I'm so sorry!" I whisper soft into his ear.

We decide to finish the lesson, sitting close. My hand follows the words. He hesitates. "Mama won't get mad... I promise. You can do it." Words come out slowly, unsure. "Good!" I whisper soft. More. "Well done." He grows more confident. More excited.

We end with a hug... I fall over beneath him. He pulls on my arm, helping. "I want to be carried," he says. I scoop him up. Little arms pull around my neck. Grace. Wonderful grace.

159. cuddles with my boy

160. a "bear crawling in his den" as he pushes between my back and the cushion with his face.

161. help shoveling snow

162. hearing his little voice sing a new verse of "Trust and Obey"

163. hugs a brother bestows on his crying sister

164. excitement over "writing"

165. excitement over making cookies

166. excitement over helping

167. excitement over anything at all!

168. growing taller

169. watching him learn

170. "I'm having fun with you Mommy!"

171. Grace!

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Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pet Food

Tuesday night was the state testing for My Beloved's EMT certification. He's been taking classes for this since August. And he's been at the top of his class the whole time. And blessed with a partner who was right up there with him. What a blessing! Saturday he passed his practical state exam with flying colors. Tuesday night was the final deal. The last time he would be away from us... for this class anyway. We won't know the results for a couple more weeks... but it's done just the same.

Anyway... Tuesday night I heard car doors close and turned in my chair when I heard lock and keys working together at the door. In he came... on the phone, with flowers in hand.

That's my sweetheart! He stops for bananas (again, a sweetheart!) and can't help but bring home flowers!

Well... I thought they were for me anyway. And he let me believe it too. Last night at dinner I found out the real story:

We have a pet in the house this week (there were two until Sweet Pea got a little too close to one of them with her foot). "Night time butterflies," as they are known around here. We call them moths too, but they are less scary when they are "night time butterflies". It's just too cold and snowy to turn them out, so for now, they stay. Plus, it's great entertainment when they flutter around the kids... they freak out. (Mother of the year anyone?)

This particular pet was getting threats from me during dinner last night for fluttering around my head and face while I was trying to eat. I threatened to toss it in the snow if it didn't find somewhere to settle for a while. (Tornado informed me that it was to cold and it would die... I told him I knew and that he'd better think about that. Again, mother of the year!)

That's when he settled in to join us for dinner. He ate at this flower for the remainder of the meal. And really seemed to enjoy it.

It was then that I figured him out. My Beloved was really bringing food home for our pet moth Tuesday night. Not flowers for his wife.

Or not.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crazy, I know!

I could post about a number of things with that title... but today, it's about the broccoli plants started in our bathroom.

Yep, you read that right. They are in the bathroom.

Oh, and the crazy part? We have baby broccoli growing already. In January.

That's right.


Our hope is that the greenhouse will enable us to put plants in the ground even earlier than we've ever tried.

So for now... we have broccoli in the bathroom. And many of them have their first true leaves. I'm not so sure exactly when we'll be putting these outside, but weeks from now for sure. I believe we're planning to put them in bigger pots soon too. But one day there will be 16 broccoli plants in the greenhouse. And we're hoping that by starting them so early, we can use the space for growing something else through the summer... and that we can actually harvest some broccoli before it gets too hot.

And you all thought you were crazy for thinking about gardening already! Didn't you?

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Making Memories

Have you ever met Joanne?

I haven't either.

And truth be told, I haven't been a reader of her blog in a long while. I read several years ago, but then, in the year of many re-formats, I lost her blog. And, really, I let the many I knew I was probably missing go for times sake.

Then yesterday I saw this button and I was curious. That's all. Nothing more holy than that... yet I think it was the Holy Spirit's prompting.


Click and find out.

So I did. And what I found stopped me short. I'd been there before. I read and read to learn what we were praying for, and what I found (which I could have found more quickly if I'd read the little blurb at the top) is that this sweet daughter of the King had a major stroke one week ago today.

You can scroll through the blog where her husband is keeping everyone updated. But if you do... I encourage you to also read the last post she did. You may not think much of it. Maybe I'm reading between the lines. She lit a fire... smoked the house... fire alarm went off. No biggy. But I went deeper than that. I saw the part where she was doing school by the fire. Spending time with her girls... and maybe, just maybe actually roasted marshmallows that afternoon.

The very next day she had a stroke and those memories with their mommy are the most fresh in their minds. Of course we don't know what else happened that day. Whether attitudes were wrong. Whether she yelled at one of her children. Whether she got caught up on the computer when her babies wanted her to read them a story. All we see is the positive. (Isn't that the way of blogs?)

It grabbed me though, and hasn't let me go. What would my children remember? What would be the last thing we did together? What memories would flood their minds?

How I disapproved of them? Snapped at the spilled orange juice? Got frustrated over a craft project? Was "too busy" to read with them or play on the floor?

Or will I take the time to rub noses with them? Tickle their feet? Cuddle with a pile of books? Bake cookies together... then clean it all up together?

We do not know how many days we have with our babies. We can't know whether God will choose to take us before our babies are grown. How will we spend our days? How much time will we give to them? What good things do we need to let go in favor of the best things?

These are the questions on my heart today. I challenge you to think on the same. And drop by Joanne's blog... and say a prayer for her and her family!

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Fresh worries and the Creator

The end of five months came and with it the same worries fresh.

Digital numbers on display. A baby on the scale. He's growing!

But is it *enough*?

Is it ever enough?

Three babies born to us, and never do they gain quite the way I hope... never are all doubts quenched. All questions quieted.

Then come the gentle words, again... the baby, look at the baby. Not the charts.

Not the charts. But how can I ignore? How can I but compare? What else do I know?

The baby. A mother of three, still I flounder. I stare long, mind empty. I don't know. I expect some sort of understanding. It doesn't come.

I say I don't compare. Each child is different. But I do. Not to my oldest. Not to my girl. But to hundreds of thousands of others.

Look at the baby. This baby. My baby.

How can he be behind in pounds and ounces, yet perfect in every other way?

How can he be behind in pounds and ounces, yet ahead in diapers and laundry? (So far ahead!)

Look at the baby! This baby. Not his baby or her baby or all of those babies... My baby.

Look at the smiles, the laughs, the eyes. Hear the laughs, the cries, the squeals. Wipe the spit-up, change the diapers, wash the laundry.

My baby.

I look to the Creator of the baby, not the maker of the charts. With that, He calms all my questions. Soothes all my fears.

And He'll be there to do it again tomorrow, and next week, and next month... until finally I trust. Until finally I remember.

140. almost 16 pounds

141. toys in the mouth

142. rolling over...

143. and back again!

144. pushing up... so high!

145. a new toy

146. carefully watching a brother

147. boys laughing together

148. spit-up on his chin

149. spit-up everywhere!

150. a fresh diaper wet through

151. a fresh outfit soiled again

152. raspberries in my face... with spit-up

153. changing clothes again... for me

154. mounds of laundry and the loves that create them

155. pedialyte ("I like ped-ly Mommy. It taste good. I better now."

156. a reason to learn patience

157. cuddles x3

158. bouncing in delight!

(Disclaimer: Please remember to look to your Creator and your baby, not my words in making your judgments. If you have concerns regarding your baby, call your doctor. Please know that these words of mine are from me about me... look to the Creator to guide you!)

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Friday, January 14, 2011

Preschool Corner: Preschool for the rest of us!

Tornado is 4 years, 1 month old
Sweet Pea is 2 years, 10 months old

What do I mean by "Preschool for the rest of us"? Doing preschool with our littles is a great goal. It really is. Since I'm on the subject, preparing a complete dinner every night, sweeping the floor sometimes and keeping everyone's underwear drawer from going empty are great goals too. But they just don't always happen. Perhaps I should do a (long) series of posts on "Life for the rest of us". Maybe I'm the only one they would apply to... or maybe, just maybe, there are others out there who find that they are falling behind too. (Would any of you others like to come clean my bathroom??? It could really use it!)

Sorry, back to preschool. It's been a while since I've participated in Preschool Corner... and even longer since I've been deliberate about "schooling" my littles. Ok... so it was shortly after my 5 month old was born that I tossed out my "official plans". Sure we've been reading! Gladys Aylward, Charlotte's Web, and lots and lots of picture books! But's it's been more haphazard.

With the advent of a new year, I've set myself up to go again! Last year I started fresh with the new year and we had a great run of it. But at least it was something!

We're going to give it a go this year too! :) This year I'm not using any particular "curriculum", but instead piecing together my own thing based on different themes each week or so. And it's pretty relaxed. Though apparently not relaxed enough or I wouldn't be missing things already!

This is where the "preschool for the rest of us" part comes in. I'm no Jolanthe or Carisa or Erica... but I'm so glad they are. I make the plans (I have a thing for the planning part), it's just the implementation that I struggle with.

I'm trying to base my plans on a relationship based model, spending time with my children (duh, right?) and enjoying them. I have a new schedule/routine for us, but we've yet to actually complete it as written. As the weeks go by, I'm trying to add in more from the schedule to our real lives, so it's really more like a routine goal!

Ok... long windedness. Sorry. What are we actually doing? Well, here it is... for the last couple weeks since I didn't get around to this last week:


We got the kids the The Jesus Storybook Bible for Christmas. Really, I wanted it for them... but I'm thrilled that they really like it too. I decided to use this book as our Bible "curriculum". We're going through a story a week. I have no idea how many weeks that will take us, and we will probably do somethings out of order around Easter, but we're doing it. I read the story of the week each day (more or less) of the week and we talk about it.

Also during our Bible time (approx. 10-15 minutes total) we practice our verse. I put our verse sheet (click the pics above to download) on the fridge and they love to do it at meals and throughout the day as well. I find the big letter and the picture help them remember "which one" we're working on. The rest is really for me since I'm the only reader! :)

We are starting our Bible time by learning/singing the Doxology (we walk in a circle like "ring around the rosy"). They seem to like it so far. Then at the end of the time, we sing a related song/hymn. When learning about Creation last week, we sang "In the Beginning" from Donut Man. The kids like that one and we have it on a CD. This week we've begun learning the hymn "Trust and Obey" to go with our story about "the Fall". They really like that one and ask to sing it all the time. They already know the first verse and chorus themselves, so we may work on adding a verse this next week.

Our "theme" is outside our Bible time most weeks. Right now we are in a "Winter/Snow" theme. The kids have really enjoyed the snowman related materials I found here, here, and here.

Here Sweet Pea is practicing poring with pony beads and her tea cups:
Sweet Pea is also learning how to help Mommy do dishes. For real this time! (I'll try to get pics sometimes.)

I'm trying to incorporate some "manly" activities into Tornado's day since Daddy is gone all day:
This week Tornado had a chance to shovel the front porch and around the car (with my help of course). He was very proud!

That same day, (since we got several inches of snow) I brought some inside.

And of course there are other crafts...
... like this one. I don't think any of our crafts are done... from this week or last week. I'll try to include pics when they are. This will be a cute snowman head. We started 4 inch earth balls last week (a long story I'll share when they are finished) to go with our creation story. Sigh... maybe we'll finish them this next week with the rest of our snow crafts.

And then we're also doing some normal things. The kids think they are play... and they are. But I also know they are helping in the area of math, problem solving, etc.

"Look Mommy, I'm making a garage!" And he did it all by himself for the first time ever!

As you can see, we did do some things. But it's hit and miss at best. Some days all we do is Bible time and I call that a successful day. Other days, like today... we don't even do that. But we're a work in progress.

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