Thursday, October 4, 2007

Newsletter Readers....Comment Here:

If you've had the chance to read our latest seasonal email-newsletter, we asked for your comments regarding family meals. Please leave your comments at the end of this post:

Family Dinners by Mitzi Carlson

Fall is upon us, and kids are back to school.... As the weather cools and the carefree, lazy days of summer are fading into memories, schedules seem to get more and more hectic. Between school, sports, extra-curricular activities, jobs, friends, and....well, life - we're lucky to get even a half hour of just "family time" a day. Nevertheless, despite the obstacles, we make a valiant effort to eat meals together, with as few distractions as possible (no TV, no computers, no phone calls, etc.). Yes, we make the effort, but no, it does not very often play out the way I might wishfully envision it in my head. In an ideal world, my children would be playing peacefully with each other in the family room, enabling me to fix a tantalizing and healthy meal in the kitchen. As I announce that dinner will be ready in about 10 minutes, child #1 would notice by glancing at the chore chart that it is his week to set the table, and would do so without being asked. Child #2 and Child #3 would quietly go about picking up whatever toys they were playing with, and then proceed to wash hands and come get up to the table. My family would exercise complete manners while eating, they would have nothing but sincere compliments for the meal I prepared, and our dinner table would be full of witty and enlightened conversation. The activities of our day would be shared, bonding would ensue, and my husband would offer to do all the dishes and clean up the kitchen so that I could simply relax after cooking such an amazing meal.

Now here's a more realistic scenario: Around 5:00 p.m., as I realize that nothing is thawed out and I have no thoughts on what to prepare for dinner, I alternate between opening the pantry and refrigerator doors, hoping something will jump out at me. When nothing does, I continue to go back and forth between the two, as if the contents of either will suddenly change after the third time I open the door. About this time, my youngest begins to do "figure 8's" between my legs, and under no circumstances can be persuaded to join her fighting brothers in the family room. I finally settle on a course of action, and begin preparing dinner, trying to ignore the whines of the "figure 8-er" who now wants me to pick her up. I stumble no less than four times on separate toys that have mysteriously made their way to the kitchen floor, and Child #2 is sent to Time Out on three different occasions. I have repeatedly informed Child #1 at least six different times that it is time to come set the table, but yet he is still sitting on the family room floor, playing with the 72 million toys that are all out at the same time. When we finally sit down to eat, I am met with vehement protests about what I have prepared. (In fact, I have noticed a distinct correlational trend: The more time and effort I put into a meal, the more my children complain about it.) During the meal, food is launched from the highchair, plates and cups are overturned, spills occur, and there is an unseemly amount of belching. When I ask Child #1 what he learned about in school, "I don't know" is his dismissive reply. We end the meal by setting a timer. If the children have finished eating by the time it goes off, they get a small treat. If not, they are tearfully dismissed from the table, and nothing further will be served until breakfast the next morning... And on to the next battle - getting them to clean up the 72 million toys that are still all over the family room.

OK - so maybe that's more of a "worst case scenario" than actually the norm - but despite the obstacles, we still try to have daily meals, especially dinner, together as a family.

According to The Importance of Family Dinners, 2006, by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University, compared to kids who have fewer than three family dinners per week, children and teens who have frequent family dinners are:
  • At a 70% lower risk for substance abuse.
  • 1/3 less likely to try alcohol.
  • 1/2 as likely to try cigarettes or marijuana.
  • 1/2 as likely to get drunk monthly.

The statistics are definitely food for thought, but it's more than just that for me.... My children are growing so fast... at times it seems almost warp-speed. So I'll cherish every moment I get - spilled food, complaining, and all.

We want to hear from you!! What are the biggest challenges for your family when it comes to mealtimes? What solutions or tips do you have for others who may be experiencing the same frustrations? Please leave your comments!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

A New Phase of Motherhood

Shortly after I became a mother for the first time, I read an article that said something to the effect of: "From the moment they're born, you have to learn to let them go just a little bit more each day." I read that article, looked at my newborn sleeping peacefully in the bassinet, and although the logical side of me understood the wisdom in that, the emotional side of me wanted to shout, "No, No, No! I don't want to! I just want him to stay little, and close, and in my arms forever!"

And now, nearly 5 1/2 years later, as I watched that same "newborn" go to Kindergarten last week, I felt very much the same way.

I had told myself that any unease I was feeling as the school year approached was strictly for him. He's always been reserved by nature, more of an "I'll-hang-back-and-watch-for-awhile-before-I-jump-in-and-participate" kind of kid. But because of his ultra-shy personality, something as simple as raising his hand to say he needed to use the bathroom would be terrifying for him in a room full of strangers.... And I know that his school experience during the first few years - regardless of what is actually learned - will set the tone and have an impact on his attitude toward school and learning for the rest of his life.

He had a great experience with preschool for three days a week last year, but his teacher was my mother, and she teaches out of her home - so he never really had to leave his comfort zone (or more accurately, perhaps I should say my comfort zone). And by law, in order to be licensed, there could only be six children to one adult - so it was a very small class size, and not very intimidating. (I'm not sure why, only one year later, it is perfectly acceptable to have classes four times that size.) But now he'll be at the BIG school, sharing the halls with 5th graders! And under all those other influences - simply put: away from me.

Nevertheless, we did our best to "talk up" Kindergarten all throughout the summer. I frequently told him how much I had loved Kindergarten, how nice my teacher was, how I met a girl who went on to become one of my very best friends throughout all of school (and who is still a good friend to this day), and any other fun and exciting stories I could remember about my elementary school and Kindergarten days. I also did my best to familiarize him with the school: I made sure we went to Kindergarten Round Up, Open House, and since I was asked to be on the PTA executive board last spring, anytime I had to go to the school over the summer, if it was feasible, I took him with me.

However, despite my best efforts, I could tell that he was getting a little scared the weekend before school started. So Sunday night as I was putting him to bed, I said to him, "Grey, I'll bet all the kids who are getting ready to go to school tomorrow are excited, but they might also be feeling a little bit nervous. Do you know what it means to feel nervous....?" And soon he was in tears - saying he didn't want to go.

"But don't you remember how much you loved preschool last year?" I asked him.

"Well, I just want to go back to preschool then," was his response.... So I hugged him tight, and we sang some songs, and talked some more about how much he would love it. We said a prayer together, and then he was calm and ready to sleep. I was able to make it out of his room - so that he wouldn't see - before I started to cry too.

The next morning we had heart-shaped chocolate chip muffins as a first-day-of-school treat, and then it was time to go. Despite some nerves and a little hesitation upon entering his classroom, he didn't cry. The parents were invited to stay for the first few minutes, and his teacher read, The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn. (I only teared up once or twice during the story.) My husband and I each kissed him goodbye - and then it was time to go.

Two and a half hours later, as he came out the door, he was all smiles - and he said to me at least three different times that day, "Mom, I just can't wait to go back to school again tomorrow." Success!! (Clearly, this was much harder on me than it was on him.)

I have entered a new phase of motherhood: I now have a child in school. Gone are the days of hanging out in our pajamas until late into the morning, being lazy simply because we can - we now have Monday through Friday morning schedules and routines, and I know it will only get busier from here on out. Although part of me still wants to shout, "No... I just want him to stay little, and close, and in my arms forever," I am so proud of the big boy he is becoming, and am excited for the "school years" adventures.

Written 09/03/07

Monday, August 27, 2007

Summer's Gone

"I was riding in the car with my mom and dad,
Dad was driving the car, the kids were driving him mad,
Dad looked and us, then he looked at his wife,
He must have wondered where we all came from.
Mom just smiled and said, 'It won't last for long, before you know it, summer's gone."
So long."
~The Kinks

School starts tomorrow. If you count the hours spent in front of the TV or logged on to Webkinz, school can't start soon enough.
But, if you count the hours blowing bubbles, riding bikes, catching 'roly poly's,' or sliding down the waterslide in the backyard, school starts way too soon.

After having all 4 kids home all summer, the house is going to seem eerily (pleasantly?!?) quiet. People ask what grade the kids are entering and I have to stop and think.
Didn't Addysen just start kindergarten yesterday? Can she really be starting third grade?
And toothless little Cannon...did he really just turn 7? As a secondgrader- he's suddenly not so little.
And Brynnley - little wannabe princess that she is -- starting preschool. She's already emphasized numerous times that she does not need her mom going to school with her. She's a big girl now. Yes, she IS a big girl now.
And then there is Kenzie...born only last year...yet already talking and walking and climbing on the table.

Where does the time go?

School starts tomorrow and summer is gone.
Reflecting back, it was a good summer...a busy summer.
Much busier than the summer's I remember growing up. Perhaps the only difference, however, is the difference between a mother's and child's perspective.

We spent many mornings at the gym and many afternoons playing outside or at the park. We participated in Spy Kids and the library reading program. We flew over or drove through about 15 states. We celebrated life in the form of an 80th birthday party and as we welcomed two new nieces and a nephew to the family.We folded endless piles of laundry and shucked numerous ears of corn. We got lots of rain and spent many hours wishing for central air conditioning. We read, "Ida B. Applewood," "Junie B. Jones," "I Love You Stinky Face," and many, many, more. We crammed as much as we could into 2.5 short months.
Yeah, school starts tomorrow. If you count the hours spent in front of the TV or playing on Webkinz, it can't start soon enough.
But if you count the waterfights, fireflies, games of 'Sorry,' forts built, movie nights, fireworks, bbq's, pictures taken, laughs shared and memories starts way too soon.

Friday, July 6, 2007

"Outfits" versus "Clothes"

I have three children: two boys and a girl. When both the boys were born, we received baby gifts from numerous friends and family, and we were thankful for it all. But then, when Emma – the first girl – was born, it seems as if we were given gifts from everyone we had ever so much as even waved at. And since it was our third child in less than four years, and we really didn’t need very many of the “baby essentials” – it was all clothes – or rather, outfits! Now there are definitely adorable clothes for boys out there as well (and I’m certainly not meaning to minimize how charming little boys can look too), but they’re harder to find, whereas cute girl outfits and accessories are absolutely everywhere – which is perhaps why so many of my friends (and I’m guilty of this too) love to shop for baby girls!

My children are now ages 5, 3, and 1½ – and it’s still the same… My boys have a dresser full of clothes – shirts and shorts than can be intermixed in almost any way they choose, and it still looks just fine most of the time. And as much as I might like to see them branch out a bit with their wardrobes, when they dress themselves, the same three or four T-shirts seem to circulate through the laundry much more than all the rest. But rather than just clothes, Emma has a series of outfits… For every top there’s a matching bottom, along with a coordinating hair elastic or clip, and of course a bracelet – and those are just the basics! (Note our “4th of July” photo: Grey and Brock both have flag t-shirts; Emma too has a patriotic top, but also a matching skirt, and a “stars & stripes” bracelet as well.)

But what I find most comical about this is that my husband doesn’t grasp the difference between clothes and outfits. To him, it’s all just clothes. This morning, for instance, he didn’t have to leave as early as usual for work, so he helped the kids get dressed while I was in the shower… When I came out of the bathroom after blow-drying my hair, I saw that the boys have jean shorts and a T-shirt on – pretty much the standard for them – and they look just fine. Emma is wearing a flowered blouse and tan shorts – also perfectly fine. But whereas Randy looks at her and likely sees that she’s not naked, I look at her and immediately notice that she’s not wearing the capris that go with that top, and make a mental note of which bracelet and hair elastic I still need to grab for her. Now, I am truly grateful for his help, and again – what Emma is wearing honestly is fine – so I don’t say a thing, but I can’t help smiling at this subtle difference between how the two of us (and likely countless other married couples) see things. Is it really a difference between men and women, or does it start much sooner than that, with the sheer amount of “outfits” a baby girl is given at birth?

Friday, June 29, 2007

Newsletter Readers.... Comment Here:

If you've had the chance to read our latest seasonal Baby-n-Beads newsletter, we'd love to hear your thoughts on the article about allergies. Please leave your comments at the end of this post...

A feature story in the March 19, 2006 issue of USA TODAY reported that exposure to pets, peanuts, and intestinal worms might actually be good for children, because they program their developing immune system to know the difference between real threats and common exposures.
The article begins by noting that this new thinking is opposite of the previous conventional wisdom that said it was best to protect children from these types of exposures. They now state just the opposite. Dr. Andy Saxton of the University of California-Los Angeles, states, "What we learned is that it may, in fact, be important to be exposed early on to a sufficient quantity of allergy-causing substances to train the immune system that they are not a threat."
In the article, Dr. Joel Weinstock of Tufts New England Medical Center added: "When you're born, Day Zero, your immune system is like a new computer. It's not programmed. You have to add software. Between the ages of zero and 12, you're learning to read, you're learning to write, and your immune system is learning to react to things. Part of that is learning to limit reactivity."
The article supports the hypothesis that growing up in cities and suburbs, away from fields and farm animals, leaves people more susceptible to many immune disorders such as allergies and asthma. To strengthen his point, Dr. Weinstock notes the difference between developed nations with urban communities and undeveloped countries. "Hay fever is the most common allergy in the developed world," he says. "Yet, there are some countries in the world where doctors don't know what hay fever is."

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? We'd like to hear your point of view.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Childhood Innocence... Sliver by Sliver

My oldest, Greyson, just attended his last day of preschool (he’ll be going to Kindergarten in the Fall). His class had a little graduation program on Wednesday, and then in honor of the last day of school, Friday was dubbed “Water Day.” The kids were told to come dressed in their swimming suits, with plenty of sunscreen applied ahead of time, and to bring a towel. We also had a small gift for his teacher, who, incidentally, also happens to be my mother.

In our usual morning rush, we quickly grabbed our stuff and piled in the car when it was time to go. Twenty minutes later, we pulled up in the driveway, alongside two other preschooler’s cars. As he was unbuckling his seat belt, and I was gathering up his stuff, I said to him, “Grey, would you rather put Grandma’s gift in your backpack, and carry your towel; or put the towel in your backpack and carry the gift?” Right as I said this, Ben popped out of the SUV parked just next to us, carrying only a towel. Noticing this, and then quickly scanning to see if anyone else had emerged from neighboring vehicles, Grey said to me, “Mom, no one else has a backpack…. I don’t want to take mine in either.”

“Are you sure?” I asked, “I think you’ll have a couple of projects from off the bulletin board to take home today, and a backpack would be a good place to put them to keep them all together.”

A slight hesitation on his part, and then, spotting Taylor and Elizabeth emerge both carrying backpacks, responded, “Well, OK. I guess I changed my mind. I want to put my towel in my backpack.” So, I walked him inside, kissed him goodbye, and that was that….for him.

For me, however, it was a little different story… Now granted, choosing to take or not take your backpack to the last day of preschool is certainly a fleeting choice. But it’s what fueled his decision – whether or not the other kids were taking their backpacks – that got me thinking. It was the first time I had ever witnessed such an outward display of this kind of unspoken peer pressure influence on him and I felt just the tiniest part of my heart breaking a little bit. Sure, wanting to fit in and be like your friends is certainly part of a natural developmental progression. And after all, how can he go on to become the caring and compassionate person I hope he will be, if he can’t first learn to look beyond himself and notice what’s happening with others. But at the same time, I can’t help feeling just a little sad that a small sliver of his childhood innocence – the part that enables him to just be free and not care about what others think – is quickly fading away.

My children are growing up much faster than I am ready for them to be….

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

I Am Not A Runner

I had one goal in mind when I went to the gym this morning: Run 5-6 miles in 50-60 minutes.
I only had a limited amount of time to workout, and I knew I had to run at least 5 miles in order to be on track for my 20-25 mile minimum this week.
For some, my goal would have been easily achievable. But for me, it was a challenge. Attainable, yes, but a challenge all the same.
I am not a runner.
I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a neighbor, a sister and a volunteer. I am many things, but, I am not a runner.
I am not fast and I certainly can’t run forever. In fact, running makes me really tired! The only thing I have going for me is that I try to exercise consistently. My routine is this: I run consistently, and then I consistently eat too much junk!
An athlete in high school, I enjoyed the physical competition of the game and I was driven to succeed. But high school was a long time ago and I don’t think of myself as overly competitive with others now. I just have high expectations for myself...expectations which span all of the many roles I attempt to fill.

I looked around and saw that the #12 treadmill was available. (Incidentally, this has become my treadmill of choice because 12 is Greg’s favorite number. It reminds me of him and inspires me to work harder.)
The guy next to me looked to be running at a decent clip, so I hopped on. I figured that I could easily match, if not exceed, his pace.
Granted, I knew nothing about this guy. He was a complete stranger to me. With a towel over his instrument panel, I had no idea whether he’d been running for 30 seconds or 30 minutes. I didn’t know his incline or his speed. The only thing I figured out (rather quickly) was that if I tried to maintain his pace for my 50-60 minutes at my incline – I would likely pass out!
You know that “mind over matter,” thing? It doesn’t work. I tried to will my shoelaces to come untied, but a single knot has never held so well!

All my life I’ve been taught to “Stand a little taller,” “Be a little better,” “Set Goals,” “Work hard and never give up,” “Discipline yourself,” “Don’t settle.”
But at the same time, I’ve also been taught, “To everything there is a season,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and I’ve read many times that, “it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order.”
How to reconcile these teachings? How to strike a balance between working hard and not pushing so much that we get totally overwhelmed?

At 18:27 into my workout, the guy on the #11 treadmill slowed down. I determined to maintain my pace ‘till he quit. After all, people don’t cool down forever.
Thankfully, he stopped and got off.
Whew! I could ease up a bit.
Or so I thought.
Just as I was about to lower my incline and speed, out of the corner of my eye, I perceived a guy watching me. He was two treadmills down, and the unspoken protocol of the gym is that you don’t interrupt someone’s workout, nor do you stare at them.
So, although I didn’t look, I concluded that it was Doug, a friend from church.
Oh great,” I thought – so much for easing up!
A military guy, I was certain that Doug had to maintain a certain level of fitness. I was also quite certain that he’d never given birth to four children; but that was simply an excuse. I had to keep going.
As if that wasn’t enough, “Tattoo Man” got on the first row of treadmills, right in front of me. A “gym rat,” I’ve watched him work out many times. Although he doesn’t run endlessly, he puts the machine on the highest incline and does a full out sprint for several minutes. Despite the tattoos, and the short duration, it’s an impressive workout nonetheless.
And then, my MP3 player started blasting:

Been running so long, I’ve nearly lost all track of time.
In every direction, I couldn’t see the warning signs.
I must be losing it, ‘cause my mind plays tricks on me.
It looks so easy, but you know, looks sometimes deceive.

Been running so fast, right from the starting line.
No more connections, I don’t need any more advice…

Head over heels, why should I go?
Can’t stop myself, out of control.
Head over heels, no time to think.
It’s like the whole world's out of sync.

Been running so hard, what I need is to unwind.
The voice of reason, is one I left so far behind.

Finally, a distraction, one whose message did not go unnoticed:
Stop comparing myself to and competing with everyone else.

I ventured a quick glance over my shoulder. My “friend” was winding down. And yes, as you probably guessed: It wasn’t Doug at all…just another total stranger working out on a Tuesday morning.
Tattoo Man had finished his sprint as well.

I decreased my incline. After all, my dead body sprawled on the gym floor wasn’t going to inspire anyone’s workout.

I quit thinking of everyone else and settled in to “me.”

Not-so-amazingly, I achieved my goal: 6 miles, 57:17.
In fact, I exceeded it.
Too bad I'll likely have a headache today as a result.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

It’s All About the Amenities….

For birthday celebrations in our family, on even-numbered years the kids get to have a birthday party with friends; on odd-numbered years we do something fun with the family…. My middle child, Brock, just turned three. One of his birthday gifts was his very own sleeping bag, so for his fun family activity, he wanted to go camping.

Now, I’m a girl who likes adventure… I remember camping (I’m talking about real camping here – no cabins with beds, or bathrooms with running water, etc.) with my own family in my youth, going with church members to girls’ camp each summer of my high school years, camping in college (in several feet of snow once, no less), camping with my husband before we had children, camping once when our oldest was a baby….. And that’s about the time our family camping experiences came to a screeching halt!

Maybe it was that I was just starting out my pregnancy with Brock, and was very frequently feeling nauseated…. Maybe it was having to pack the entire house for only one weekend away (as is often the case when traveling with a baby or small child)…..Maybe it was having a toddler still in diapers just agile enough to find and encrust himself in every single speck of dirt within a 5 mile radius (and having nothing more than wet wipes to try to clean off with)…. Maybe it was the unbelievably insane number of yellow jacket bees that had apparently chosen to overtake Yankee Meadows, UT and swarm anything even resembling a life form over Labor Day weekend that year… Or maybe it was a combination of all of the above, but suffice it to say – that was a truly MISERABLE camping trip, and for some reason, I just haven’t had a real strong desire to go camping again since….

But, a three year old with a new sleeping bag has to try it out, so camping we did…in our own backyard. Talk about the best of both worlds! We pitched the tent, ate outside, roasted marshmallows over the fire pit and dined on late-night s’mores – the whole camping experience for my kids – with a running faucet and flushing toilet just through the back door. And other than dragging the tent and camping equipment from the garage, I didn’t have to pack a single thing! It’s all about the amenities… With kids, that’s my kind of camping!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

A "Normal" Day at Church

It has been said:
"The course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life-altering decisions. Our direction is often set by the small, day-to-day choices that chart the track on which we run. This is the substance of our lives -- making choices."

In our family, we choose to go to church on Sunday. We always have, and we always will. It's just that theory anyway.

That said, however, church with four children and a husband at work, is rarely what I would call a "fun" event! And it is an event!

Take today, for example...

Our day (or should I say, MY day) began with a loud pounding sound around 8:15. A faulty doorknob "locked" the kids upstairs and they could not get out. Thankfully, after finally yanking hard enough, I was able to open it; able to provide reassurance to my precious children that they would once again be allowed downstairs. As I rounded the top of the stairs, calming voice and all, imagine how thrilled I was to discover hundreds, if not thousands, of Honey Nut Cheerios strewn all about the entire room!
It was not even 9am...

By 9:45 -- Cannon was in timeout for mouthing off and hitting his sister. A voice message was left for Greg stating, "Call when you can -- so that you can chat with your son about proper behavior!"

By 10:30, I was cussing out Cleveland and it's lovely weather! (Ok, so truth be told, I haven't stopped cussing out Cleveland and it's lovely weather -- ever since we got 18 inches of snow on Easter!)

At 11:42 we started the "Get-your-coats-what-do-you-mean-you-can't-find-your-shoes?" process.

By the time we were seated and church services began at 12:30 -- I was exhausted!

The intial announcements were uneventful...things got lively when Brynnley's underwear fell to her ankles! Ok, so it wasn't actually Brynnley's (age 3) underwear -- she was wearing Addysen's size 8 underwear! She thinks "the flowers are just SO pretty!"
At 1:15, with red crayon on my skirt and slobbery graham cracker 'goo' on my white shirt, B, K and I were in an empty classroom. As it was naptime and lunchtime, the girls alternated screaming and pitching fits. I wouldn't know from actually having heard them, but rumor has it the talks were very good...
2:00 - FINALLY - Three out of four kids were pawned off on their teachers and I attempted to attend the adult class.
2:11 - Kenzie and I were back wandering the halls.
At 3:30, amidst dozens of people gathering coats, hats, gloves and children, a rather portly gentleman walked past Brynnley.
"MOM!" She exclaimed. "THAT GUY IS SO FAT!"
As only a mother can do, I ever-so-quickly grabbed her by the back of her coat and tried to discreetly force her down the hall -- desperately attempting to focus her attention on something, anything else.
It was to no avail.
"MOM! MOM! Did you hear me? Answer me! Why is that guy so fat?"
What do you say to a 3 year-old who is stating the obvious?
Yeah...we make the decision to attend church every Sunday. But, church with 4 kids and a husband at work is not fun. I guess I am just banking on the fact that, "the course of our lives is seldom determined by great, life-altering decisions. Our direction is often set by the small, day-to-day choices that chart the track on which we run. This is the substance of our lives -- making choices."

Monday, April 2, 2007

Embracing the Chaos....One Child at a Time!

My house is a far cry from spotless. I have more than my share of dust-bunnies and crumbs, and windows and mirrors with seemingly permanent smears and smudges. But despite all these shortcomings, I like my house to have…. in a word: order. Although my mother would likely claim otherwise (keeping a mess-free and tidy room was not one of my strong suits as a child), something about having tidiness-challenged college roommates--who would be content to let a spilled drop of grape jelly sit on the counter until it had colonized--assisted in my metamorphosis into someone who wants a house that is neat and orderly. I like things to have their place, where they can be put away (preferably behind closed doors), and clutter is my biggest house-keeping frustration.

When my husband and I got married seven and a half years ago, we both had full-time jobs, and I was going to graduate school – so although I didn’t have an abundance of time for cleaning, neither of us were home enough to really make much of a mess. But when our first child was born a couple of years later, I became a stay-at-home mom. At first I only noticed an increase in the amount of laundry (how many diapers can one child blow through in a given day?!?). But slowly as he grew, and especially when he became mobile, the chaos began….

And now, add a few more years and two additional children (all 3 of them under the age of 5), and I often
feel as though I have lost complete control over my once orderly house. What happened?!? How is it that it seems like all I do is clean up messes, and yet every time I turn around, another mess has appeared? My youngest (15 months) is currently in that “tornado” stage – racing from pulling all the books out of the bookshelf, to digging in the dirt or pulling leaves from my plants, to getting into the box of rice from the pantry and dumping it all over the carpet – and that’s just in the two minutes I get a day to use the bathroom! She’s definitely a whirlwind, and seems dead-set on destroying any sense of orderliness I may create, but she’s 15 months – and doing exactly what she should be doing at her age.

Just yesterday she was dumping out a small garbage can that we keep by our computer with papers and receipts when she came upon a yellow leaf I had just plucked from the ficus plant in our entry way. Two seconds later, she was over at the plant, and just as I was about to scoop her up to keep her from throwing piles of dirt, I noticed that she wasn’t digging in the dirt… She was holding the yellow leaf up to the plant, earnestly trying to reattach it, because she has associated that leaves have a “place.”

Maybe all hope of orderliness is not lost on my children after all...

Sunday, April 1, 2007

A First Haircut Has To Happen Sometime!

I'm not really sure how many times I said, "Be careful with the silly putty...I don't want it making a mess!" However, I know for a fact that the statement, "Do NOT put that in your hair!" came out of my mouth at least 3 times.

But, I was distracted, trying to watch something on tv (General Conference, no less!), and I didn't actually reach out and TAKE the silly putty away from her.

So, who's really to blame for the blue silly putty in the blonde hair?

A first haircut has to come sometime...I guess.

The older kids thought the situation was rather humorous, until they were reminded that putting silly putty in her hair was simply a bad decision made by their 3 year-old sister.

It was a bad decision...and we are all guilty of making bad decisions.

For example: sticking a green bead -- the perfect size of the little hole in his 6 year-old ear...not a great decision.

Nor was it a good decision to stick his head between both wooden slats of the bunk bed. (The same 6 year old did not like reliving the memory of his vaseline-greased head being shoved back through the boards!)

It was also not a good decision for the 7 year old to stick the dog's choke chain around her neck.

Ahh...Life with children.
No matter how you look at it, it was not a good decision to put silly putty in hair.
But...a first haircut has to happen sometime, right?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

We have been so excited with the response to our new website. We are eager to make our affordable handcrafted bead bracelets available to many and now our dream is coming true. So far, it seems that grandmas are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to send specialized bead bracelets to the granddaughters, daughters, and daughters-in-law that they love so much. What a delightful way to show that you care, even when you can't be there to say it in person! Thanks! Happy Spring! Kris