Friday, December 9, 2011

Things to remember....

When we told my 5-year-old daughter that we are expecting another blessing, she looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "Mommy, I have two questions." Number one: "Are you telling me a joke?" Once I assured her that it was not a joke, she asked her second question: "Does Daddy know?" I couldn't resist...I told her that I didn't know and that she should ask him! I so enjoyed hearing her ask him! He played right along. Since we told her the news, she is most caring toward my growing belly. The baby gets its own special kiss and hug every night at bedtime!

My 3 1/2-year-old son is very needy. He can be so laidback at times, but he thrives on routine to a fault. He has taught himself that 1 o'clock means that the little kids go to bed, and he gets to watch a show on TV! Also, 8 o'clock means bedtime. A much anticipated time in our house (usually mommy, daddy, and all 4 kids - whether they admit it or not - are happy that the day has come to its conclusion!).

But, routine-oriented son is still so sweet that he enjoys a good game of peek-a-boo or the silliest things. I started a game where I say, "Joseph, who loves you the most?" He starts a list: Mommy, Daddy, Jesus, God, Mary, and Joseph...and....then he adds someone or something very silly (i.e, a banana). He knows he will get tickled, and I just love the laughs and special bonding moments. Ah, at least he knows how much God and his family love him.

It's funny how you realize how important family really is as you get older. I reflect on this in a new way as I watch my children grow...their preschool teachers are so fabulous and form a very special bond with the children...however, it quickly fades as May rolls around. This is, of course, as it should else would the preschool teachers have room in their hearts and heads for their new classes? But, it is sad to see how relationships so real and important one day can fade the next. The love of God and family, however, do not fade. Thank you God for the gift of your love and for our families to love us beyond a school year's quick passing!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Friends Together

My almost 5-year-old and 3-year-old attended a Vacation Bible School at a local  church last week. They learned about Creation, Adam and Eve, and sin. My daughter told me that, "If I sin, I just have to say I'm sorry to Jesus, and I can walk with Him again." I debated telling her about Confession, the (huge) missing link. I decided to be grateful that she was learning to say sorry to Jesus. Besides, the highlight was the big music screen and all the dancing for Jesus (I couldn't stand in back without dancing with the baby!). How could I find fault (since they are preschoolers!).

They had a wonderful time, and I was so happy that they had some structured play, complete with crafts and a snack, for a whole week of mornings! Pure joy and gratefulness came to me, however,  when I asked my kids if they made any new friends. My 3-year-old son said so innocently, "No. We were kind of shy, so we were friends together." My kids..."friends together." I reflected on how one of the leaders had told me how precious it was when my kids held hands when walking to activities. "I just hope my kids are as close as yours are," she said, as she patted her pregnant belly. My heart soars when I realize what a gift my children are to each other. Thank you, Lord, for my children...may they always be "friends together."

Friday, July 22, 2011

"This is BEAUTIFUL"...

I desperately needed my 3-year-old to say this during lunch today. We were sitting in a very crowded food court with a friend and her children. There was live orchestra music in the background. I didn't even think that he was listening. He suddenly stopped and asked his friend, "This is BEAUTIFUL!" It was beautiful. I honestly hadn't even been thinking about the music as I was trying to ensure everyone would eat enough to prevent meltdowns...not easy to do in this most distracting of environments!

It all started early. Five forty a.m. to be exact. The baby wishing me awake by his singing. It was also beautiful...a baby peacefully waking up and talking...but it was early! Again, the beauty also missed by this tired Mama! A short time later, the other three joined their brother.

I know better, but I messed up our morning routine (Daddy is away) leading to more stress! Breakfast wasn't served on time, and I let the baby take a long morning nap. The results did not lead to happiness! I will leave the details out. But, I pray for forgiveness and grace for this journey. And, I am grateful that my 3-year-old challenged me to stop and "hear?" the roses!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Passing Blessings...

My kids are watching Aladdin right now. Remember that movie!? I got it at a used sale, and I'm hearing the songs of my childhood in the background.  It's funny the power of music to bring back vivid memories.

My small blessings today are things that I could easily overlook:

1. How excited my children are to see each other in the morning! Each child is greeted with such enthusiasm: "My GREAT to see you again!" I am so glad that they are glad to see each other, as some mornings it is just too early for me to share that joy!

2. How my children enjoy playing with stuffed animals, toy cars, baby dolls, etc. These inanimate objects are cared for dearly. I love the humanity that they exhibit when "caring" for them. It pains me to think that these treasures will be passed over for cell phones and lap tops.

3. My (almost) 2-year-old daughter's feet. I recently read that the feet of infants and toddlers have no arch. I guess I knew this in passing, but there it was when I paid attention. Through this biology lesson, I came to appreciate those pudgy adorable feet! Lots of kisses for those growing feet.

4. Learning to read/write. Yesterday, I wore a name badge that said "PAN." Why, you ask? My almost 5-year-old daughter can write Mommy perfectly, but she looked hurt when I questioned why mine said, "PAN." Well, what does it say, she innocently asked? "PAN," I replied. She giggled, and I thought, "what the heck?" PAN!

5. The miracle of life. As I think back 5 summers ago, I have vivid memories of my panic at becoming a mother. Yes, I had prayed faithfully for this precious gift. There is nothing in the world that I wanted more. Thank you God for my four precious treasures. But, I remember sunbathing on a hot summer day and worrying and worrying. Now, I sit in the same spot and watch my children enjoy the slip n slide. I marvel at God's creations. Worry still...absolutely. But, praying to trust that God will provide and care for them...yes.

Monday, July 18, 2011

How many moms...

Does it take to pull a stinger out of a 3-year-old boy's foot? More than you'd think! It started off as a really fun playdate. I always appreciate when other moms host playdates. I try to take my fair share of turns, but I am a stress case wondering if everyone is having fun while trying to take care of my own children (who always seem to have lots of extra needs when people come over!).

It's a really hot and humid day here in PA. Then again, I saw this morning that over 90% of the country is 90+ today, so I'm in good company! This playdate featured every young child's dream...lots of water toys: a baby pool, 2 bigger pools with slides, a slip n slide, etc. Hours of fun! I was enjoying sitting in the shade with the baby watching the older 3...until...the STING!

Suddenly a howl. Oh of mine. I grab the baby and head over. I try to carry both the baby and hysterical preschooler into the shade. At this point, I become so very grateful for my girlfriends. They jumped into action. It's funny that in some ways, I barely know these women (although I'm getting to know them better as we meet every Monday). Yet, here they were, helping me hold down my child. Someone grabbed the baby, the host ran in the house to get baking soda, tweezers, and a bandage, and a third mom ran out to watch the other children in the yard. Working together (there were 4 of us in the end), we got the stinger! "The biggest stinger I've ever seen," said one kind mom. My 3-year-old, relieved, asked if he could take his foot home :).

The playdate continued. Drama subsided. As I drove home with tired, hungry, wet children, I reflected on how grateful I am for this group of women. I have been in similar situations (one melting child and other children who still need attention) at the grocery store (insert other public venue), and I get lots of looks. Granted, some looks are sympathetic, but I feel (maybe it's my projection), that most of them are irritated or pity looks. Seldom do people jump right in to help. So, today, I thank God for the gift of friends. Women who started off as strangers, but because we are going through this journey of motherhood together, have become so much more to me.

In addition to my friends, I am grateful for my healthy children who thoroughly enjoyed the simple pleasures of summer today, for the ability to stay home full-time with my children, for icy pops, for baby pools, and yes...even for bees!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The best workout of my life...

I joined a gym with babysitting! Doesn't sound like much, but to this stay-at-home mom of 4 kids under the age of 5, it is a huge deal. I'm not one for leaving my kids. I have left them exactly three times...when I was in the hospital giving birth to the next baby :). And, they were with my parents. And, I checked in at every meal, poop, nap, etc.

My afternoons were getting out of control. The toddler and baby would nap, and they were in a peaceful state when they woke up. The "big" kids were the problem. They would watch a few shows for "quiet time," and when the TV went off, the boredom and meltdowns would begin. The baby and toddler were no longer happy as they watched the 3-and-4-year-olds. I get the kids out every morning, but the afternoons are often spent at home. I would do my best to keep everyone fed, changed, and entertained...and instead of being happy and content (my goal), they would still be unhappy and Mama would be pushed to the brink.

So, one afternoon in June, I piled all the kids in the van. I showed up at the nearest (affordable) gym with babysitting. I had toured there before, but I hadn't joined. I walk in with all four kids in tow (I ignored the looks...I'm used to those!). A lovely lady helped me with my forms, and we headed up to the babysitting room.

I'll never forget the look on my children's faces as they realized that I was leaving them in this room! Granted, there was a friendly babysitter and toys galore, but I was walking backward out the door with a very goofy grin on my face.

I felt like a kid in a candy store. So free! So free! But, wait, oh NO...the babysitting room did not have a wall all the way to the top. From the elliptical machine that I had chosen, I could hear my children talking. Were there tears? Not yet. Better get moving. So, I cranked the machine to level 10 (never mind that I hadn't had a proper workout in months). I turned Oprah up, and I exercised. Glorious sweat. I kept it to a half hour. But, oh, what a fabulous workout.

My children ran to me when I came back into the babysitting room. "Mommy, what happened to you!?" I realized that I had not even bothered to wipe off my sweaty brow. I just kept smiling. I happily made dinner, and I had energy after the kids went to bed. We've gone back several times, and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a half hour getaway in the middle of the afternoon. It takes a good hour-and-a-half or so to prepare for a half hour workout, but man, it's worth it.

I'm so blessed to stay home with my children, but I need to remember that God wants me to take care of myself, too. Thank you God, for these precious, too fast days with my children. Thank you for my healthy body to exercise. And, thank you, for the opportunity to refresh my body, mind, and soul. Amen.

I first wrote this post a year ago. We went to the gym faithfully every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for nine months. My girlfriends knew that I was not available for playdates on these afternoons...the affordable babysitting for four kids and the endorphin rush for Mommy were too good to be true! My goofy grin never quite went away.

About a week after we started going, I found out that we were expecting. The gym staff and my fellow exercisers cheered me on with their encouraging comments for nine months.

I chose an elliptical machine close to the bathroom during the morning sickness. On the days when I couldn't battle the exhaustion, I would ride the exercise bike at a snail's pace with my eyes closed! I coughed my way through a bout of pneumonia in February (I had the doctor's okay, but the scary cough held on for a good month). And, as April due date approached, I had people watching in amazement (or panic/horror?!) as I waddled my way into the gym with kids in tow and cranked the elliptical up to just 9 (I didn't want to go into labor, after all!). :)

I have not returned yet as I am too nervous to put a 3-month-old in the babysitting room (it gets crowded and there's only one babysitter). The afternoons can be very slow, but there are SO many unexpected blessings (if I make sure that I am in the frame of mind to notice them). The long hours give me many opportunities to pray for extra graces! The Blessed Mother never lets me down. a few months, God willing, I will write about the "second best workout of my life!" Looking forward to that!