Thursday, June 24, 2010

I can't do this!

Today at Caleb's swimming lessons I had a moment I am not proud of. It seems like lately all I do is discipline the kids, and we never have any fun. Maybe it's the ages and stages, or maybe it's me losing my mind! There are days when I feel like all I did was yell at children all day, and that makes me sad. I'm not looking for sympathy though, because I don't think it's okay. Anyway, back to today.

If anyone knows me at all, you know that Caleb and has issues with the potty. It has been a struggle for over a year. The child is 4 years old, and is just very hesitant (wow.... that's a nice way of putting it) to use the potty for #2. It's enough to make me crazy. And angry at times. Like today. He has been holding it for at least 5 days, as is the norm with him, no matter how much we talk about going, make him sit at least once a day, pump him full of fruit, etc. I admit, I'm not great at staying consistent, but for crying out loud! We've been working on this forEVER!! Today he had held it to the max, and the breaking point just happened to be right in the middle of his swimming lesson, so I had to jump up and rush him into the bathroom, where he proceeded to NOT USE THE BATHROOM. I started out being helpful and encouraging, and ten minutes later when he was still screaming in my face and refusing to go I absolutely lost it, right there in the stall with him. It just makes no sense to me. He couldn't swim anymore because he HAD to go SO bad, and then he wouldn't go. Huh?? See my problem? I just. don't. get. it. Just go! JUST. GO. JUST GO!!!!!!!!!

He didn't go. We left early and came home. And would'n'cha know it, he went. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Argh.

On our way home I started thinking.. Why was I so angry with him? Because he embarrassed me in front of the instructor and other parents? Because I'm paying money for him to be in this lesson and I want him swimming and not spending time on the toilet? Because he won't poop on my command? All of the above... but how selfish is that? I realized, as I have been more lately, how selfish I am. I, me, my. And that realization makes me realize how much I'm NOT relying on God to help me. Like one of my favorite "mom songs" by Plumb says, "I can't do this!" Not on my own. I have GOT to rely on God to guide me in my attitude and speech, especially with my kiddos. That is my job! I want to raise babies that love God and love others, and acting like a tantrum-throwing child myself is not going to do the trick.

So, I'll file that in the "what not to do in parenting" drawer, and work on loving Jesus more myself, and it will naturally reflect in my attitudes toward my kids.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Swimming Lessons!

Last week was CRAZY here. I really do enjoy being a stay-at-home-mom, mostly the part about staying at home. I am a homebody, and getting out and about with two small children is completely exhausting for me, so I try to keep it simple around here. It also tends to save money, like a talked about in a previous post. So when I say last week was crazy, it means I had to be somewhere all five days of the week. Last week I had to be a true soccer mom, toting children around town to multiple activities every day. We all had VBS, where I taught a class of just-finished-Kindergarteners. Then we went directly to Caleb's swimming lessons, home for naps, and then back to town for Carly's swim lessons. We all three ate breakfast and lunch in the car every day. (Not thrilled about that at ALL.) Doing all that every day wore me slap out! The best part about it was mid-week when it rained out both swim lessons, so I felt like we got a break.

Caleb's first experience with swim lessons were really sad. He has never been a huge fan of large bodies of water, by which I mean pools larger than the bathtub since he's never seen the ocean, but he put on a brave face and we talked about the lessons for weeks beforehand. When the big day arrived he even acted brave up until the point where I started to leave... then I heard his instructor whistle to get my attention, I turned and saw Caleb sprinting toward me. He latched his whole body onto my leg and begged me not to leave. Screaming, crying, panicking. He took my shirt in his fist and twisted so hard that I thought I was going to have to take my shirt off to get him off me. It took the instructor pulling on him and me prying his fingers off me to get him away.. let me tell you, a 4-year-old boy in panic mode is VERY STRONG! But we finally got him in the water and I basically ran out of there. By the time I came to pick him up from the 50-minute lesson he was calm and participating and SMILING! Praise the Lord!! Those were the longest 50 minutes for me!! This was Tuesday. By Friday, after three lessons, he is having a great time swimming with Ms. Linda and she tells me if he would put his face in the water, he could swim. He does everything physically right, but won't put his face in the water. I vaguely remember hearing that a lot as a kid.. am I right, mom? Now, he hasn't been in a big pool without Ms. Linda so I'm anxious to see if he'll still be so brave when that time comes, but what an improvement! We have five more sessions with her and I can't wait to see how he improves.

Carly's lessons are quite different. Her age is one thing, but she is also seeing a different instructor. She is a no-nonsense, you-WILL-do-what-I-say kind of lady. (I LOVE her!) Carly is not a fan of having water in her face either (they are both SO much like me) and so she cries the entire 30 minutes. Ms. Debby gives her no choice. She stands about 6 feet away from the side of the pool, gives Carly a little push-off and Carly swims to the side. Under water. By herself. With no floaties. Or so I've heard, because I can't watch, so I stand in the garage and listen. As soon as she comes up to the side the screaming starts again. She hates every minute of it, but she is swimming. She has only had two lessons, so far, and we are going back in a few weeks for two more (with Caleb this time) so I'm hoping a little peer pressure will have them both swimming underwater.

Both of their teachers are excellent, but different. I haven't decided who I like more. I like both of them a LOT. Swim Lessons are fun!!

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Back

Have I ever mentioned how much I love our backyard?? I'm sure I have, but in case I haven't...

I LOVE our backyard. When we were looking at this house, after I walked the back yard, I said out loud, "I love it. I want it!"

We have flowers blooming in all seasons-- even winter, thanks to the camellias. These are some I snapped just today.

Our first sunflower from the seeds the kids and I planted:


Gerber Daisies:

And we have a garden. I have been trying my hand at gardening this summer and last. It's definitely a learning curve, and I'll admit my track record isn't very good, but it's fun to watch things grow!

Here are the squash plants I started from seeds, in a photo collage: (You can click to enlarge the collages.)

And here is the sweet basil I started in a little pot, also in a photo collage:

We are also growing tomatoes and jalapeno peppers, and I'm hoping for a watermelon seed to sprout soon. I already killed one watermelon plant, and a whole bunch of spinach plants, some cilantro seedlings, and a couple other herbs. I am trying though!

Here are the sunflowers. Just for measurements, when I took the picture today, the tallest one was up to my waist. These are called Mammoth sunflowers, and are supposed to get up to 12 feet high.. I can't wait!!

We also have blueberries! Bluuuuuuuuuberries!!!!!!! I love blueberries, and they should be ripe enough to pick in a two or three weeks, maybe sooner!

These are just a few of the many reasons I love our yard. I didn't even mention the huge oak trees, the swing set, the little swimming pool (a temporary summer staple), and the view.


Today at lunch, Carly asked me something and ended with the word "Mama." Caleb butted in, telling her matter-of-factly, "She's not Mama, she's Mommy."

To head off the arguing I knew would soon ensue, I set the record straight. I said, "I am Mama, or Mommy, or whatever you want to call me. I'm your Mother."

Short silence, followed by Carly asking Caleb, "She's our Mudder?!" The tone of her voice implied What!? We have a Mother TOO? Cool!

Sigh... Kids are the best entertainment money can buy! Just one large down payment at the beginning, a little more here and there for the next 18 or more years, and you have live-in entertainment, and memories to last a lifetime.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Frugal Girl

The other night a friend on Facebook asked an open-ended question about saving money. I immediately sat up a little straighter and rattled off 7 or 8 things for her to do. Then I thought, "Wow, that came so naturally!" And then I thought of two more things, so I commented again. Thinking led to more thinking, and I realized that I really am a very frugal person. It has been a process of growing up, becoming more domestic (I kindof hate that word), and being more faithful with the money God has given us to use.

If you ask my parents, they would tell you I have always been a "saver". I do have my moments of weakness, where I buy something that's not on sale, or something I don't really need, but really want. Dave Ramsey says that in every marriage there is a "nerd" (the saver) and a "free spirit" (the spender). If you can imagine the insanity..... I am the free spirit in my marriage. Actually, I call myself the free-spirit-with-nerd-tendencies. Greg is definitely the nerd-with-free-spirit-tendencies.

In honor of our joint nerdiness, I compiled a list of the things I do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis that save money. I hope I give you an idea or two, and I would LOVE anyone who reads to leave a comment about things you do to save money.

*Make a budget and STICK TO IT. EVERY SINGLE DAY. ( is a good starter and they have an iPhone app)

*Coupons + sales (

*Set the AC on 79-80 during the day

*Make your own laundry detergent and cleaning supplies (just google that, there are hundreds of recipes)

*Line dry clothes as much as possible

*NEVER pay full price for ANYTHING

*Trade for services whenever possible

*Meal planning - only buying the groceries you need for the week (see exception next)

*Stockpiling groceries when they are on rockbottom sale. Buy 1 get 2 free meats? Yes, thank you!

*Don't eat out. (Unless it's a special occasion, it's free, or you have a gift card!)

*Make sure utilities are at the lowest rate, and threaten to cancel unless they lower it. (One phone call got our cable/internet bill lowered by $21 a month-- just ask for the retention department..)

*Stay home as much as possible, and make your trips to town worthwhile -- combine errands all on one day, in as efficient a route as possible

*Don't use paper plates, paper napkins, or paper towels. It's cheaper to do laundry and dishes, I promise. (Lest you call me a hypocrite, I will 'fess up that we do use paper napkins and occasionally paper towels, but have cut WAY back. We haven't bought paper plates in ages. I do all my cleaning with cheap white washcloths)

*Drink more water, and I don't mean bottled. That defeats the purpose of not having to buy cokes, etc.

*Be creative and resourceful. Think of ways to get what you need without paying for it. Can you trade someone for it? Can you make it yourself? Do you already have it but just can't find it? (Go look for it!!)

*Cook from scratch or semi-scratch as much as possible. Convenience foods were a brilliant marketing scheme, since most of it can be easily recreated with a freezer and/or a plastic baggie. 100 calorie packs? Buy the big box, count out a 100 calorie serving, put it in a plastic bag. 100 calorie pack. Frozen meals? Buy the ingredients, cook them ahead of time (double or triple the batch for "family size") and freeze it. Frozen "convenience" meal.

These are some of my favorites... what are yours?