Monday, November 23, 2009

Monday, Monday....

We've been having a nice and busy day today. Kids are already off school, so we've been enjoying each other's company. Wilbert, a family friend who is currently living with us, got some gingerbread houses for the kids, and we decorated them this morning. The kids had a blast! So did I. I don't think I've ever decorated one before. We each had a little house, and we ended up making a little gingerbread village. Cute!



I actually spent most of the morning sitting on the couch with Elly. She has some bug and has been really sleepy all day. She also has a low grade fever. I hope it's a fleeting illness, since we have plans to go to Arkansas on Wednesday to spend Thanksgiving with Dave's brother's family...

Right now, Bryan is at gymnastics, and I just finished harvesting a bunch of produce from the garden. Exciting times! The garden is doing really well, actually. Today, I got green beans, kohlrabi, bell peppers, one little broccoli, and lettuce. Yum! I'm not sure about the broccoli, it didn't get very big, but it did look like it was ready to harvest. Don't know how the other plants are going to turn out, we'll see. For the green beans, this was actually the second round. I already picked quite a lot a couple of weeks ago, and made some yummy green bean soup. These ones I'm going to probably cut up, blanch, and then freeze, for more green bean soup later this winter. :o) The kohlrabi is very good and tender, we just eat it raw. The lettuce is excellent, too, and I'm happy we still have a few bell peppers out there! There aren't a whole lot left, and they don't grow all that big anymore, but they're nice for a snack. I have one kale plant out there this year, and that is growing nicely, too. The sugar snap peas are getting flowers, so we should have some snap peas to snack on soon! The carrots are growing nice and big, too, though they'll probably be a few more weeks. Carrots take a long time to grow... So there, my garden update! Just for you, Christie. ;o)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Journey in mothering

I've been a mother for nearly a decade. A decade! That's a mighty long time. Well, to me, anyway. :o) During the last 10 years, I have learned a lot. Mothering has been a journey. I think the single most important thing that having children has taught me is to trust my instincts. Forget what the books say. I am the only expert when it comes to raising my children. Well, Dave is to some extend, but let's face it, I'm the one who spends the most time with them. :p When it comes to labels, I suppose I would fall under the category of what some call "attachment parenting". I think I prefer to call it "instinctive parenting". Over the years, I have learned to trust my own instincts enough to drop parenting practices that are often considered important, or convenient, or beneficial for fostering independence, or whatever. Take, for example, the cry-it-out approach to sleep training. There came a point where it just didn't feel right. While everyone seemed to be telling me that it was important for my children to learn to put themselves to sleep, it just didn't feel right to put them in a room, close the door, and let them scream for however long it took for total exhaustion to set in. Or for them to give up on you. So, sleep training is no longer practiced at our house. Sure, there are mornings I wake up wondering whether I ever even went to sleep, but ultimately, it's worth it to me. Another one of those practices that just "feels right" is allowing the kids to breastfeed past the age of one. What's so magical about the first birthday, anyway? Breastmilk certainly doesn't lose its nutritional value overnight, and I feel allowing the child to set the pace when it comes to weaning is beneficial in more ways than just nutrition. I think I have come to a point in life where I look at "mainstream" parenting practices, and I can't help but wonder why? Why are we in such a hurry to make kids grow up? Why do we think we need to teach them independence by sticking them in a crib in a dark room and making them scream when they're just a few months old? In many ways, trusting and following my instincts when it comes to mothering has been really liberating. It has removed a lot of stress from my life. Instead of looking at children as mini adults and expecting them to behave as such, I am learning to look at them and take them for who they are. I am learning to respect their needs, instead of forcing on them my perception of what their needs should be. It is an ongoing process, of course. Today, I know I am not the same person I was yesterday. I am constantly striving to be a better mother, and to be able to better help my children become the best they can be. Throughout this journey, I have had the priviledge of getting to know and learning from other mothers. I am so glad I have had the opportunity to make friends who are wonderful moms to their children, and who inspire me to do better, and be better. One of these mothers who is a true inspiration to me is Arianne. We only knew each other for a short time when we lived in Logan, but it has been wonderful to keep up with her through her blog, Still Parenting. She blogs about her own journey in mothering, in raising and teaching her children. I know it's going to be a good day when I open up my google reader and see a post from her. :o) My hope is that I will be able to continue to learn, to improve, and to get to know my children better each day. After all, they are the most important thing in my life, and raising them is the most important thing I will ever do.

Monday, November 09, 2009

20 Years

November 9th, 1989 was a historic day. It was the day the Berlin Wall fell. Of course, the way to the German reunion wasn't just a single day occurrence, but the fall of the Wall became the symbol of freedom for the people of East Germany (and ultimately what was known as the East Block, several countries in central and eastern Europe that had been under Communist rule). It all started in the summer of '89, when Hungary decided to open up the border to Austria, and allowed East Germans to cross into Western territory. Later, the Czechs followed suit and began to allow East Germans to travel into West Germany. I was only 11 at the time, but I vividly remember watching the news, and seeing trains packed with people crossing into the "forbidden" land. Soon, people inside East Germany began to congregate and organize, and started up the "Monday Demonstrations". All of these events, as well as involvement from great foreign leaders on both sides of the Iron Curtain, ultimately led to the fall of the Berlin Wall, and subsequently the Communist government. Initially, my little 11 year old mind had a difficult time grasping the gravity of what was happening. In fact, I dare say most East Germans had difficulty grasping just what all of this would mean for them. Freedom, after all, came at a price. High unemployment rates (we're talking upward of 20% in some parts of East Germany), a struggling economy, and a continued rift between East and West are realities many Germans face to this day. Facing capitalism was, in many ways, a rude awakening for many people. Living under a Communist dictatorship was no easy lot, but neither is being slave to the cruel realities of a capitalist society. A realization many are still struggling with. Still, I believe the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall is cause for celebration, and hope for the continued effort on both sides of the now invisible wall to turn Germany back into a truly united country. :o)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

First week - Success!

I can't believe we already finished up the first week with the kids' chore charts! Overall, I think it went really well. Tyler totally loves the structure it gives him. Bryan is getting into it, as well. Kaylee still hasn't quite grasped the concept/point behind this whole idea, but she's getting there. She does enjoy putting up her stars, but I still have to remind her most of the time of what she needs to do and when she needs to do it. Hopefully she'll catch on as we continue. :o)

Friday, November 06, 2009

New record!

Bryan set a new personal record this evening, when he managed to hold a handstand for 47 seconds. The kid never ceases to amaze me with his mad gymnastics skills. Every Friday, I go watch him during his practice, and every Friday I am blown away by what he is able to do (he goes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, too, but I don't get to stay and watch those days). He has such amazing control over his body, is incredibly strong, and he has great form, as well. The routines they practice for the meets are compulsory, meaning everyone does the same elements. Each apparatus also has a bonus option, and he actually performs all of his routines with the bonus. It's, well, amazing. He also set a personal record on the mushroom (the last apparatus on this little video) today. He managed to go around 5 times (and a half, he insists!). He keeps asking me to get him one for Christmas, so he can practice at home. I told him we don't have a money tree. :p Love that kid. :D

Thursday, November 05, 2009

For your reading pleasure

You may have already seen this one. If you're like me, it's in your google reader. It's hilarious! I will never look at cakes (especially on store display shelves) the same way again. :p

Cakewrecks

Seriously, check it out. It'll be worth your time, I promise. :D

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The quest continues...

The quest to become more organized, that is. I had a little system in place with the kids last year, over the summer, where we kept a sort of schedule of everything they needed to do each day, and the time they spent watching TV and playing computer. It worked quite well, but once school started, we abandoned the schedule and got back into our normal routine - of not having one. haha Of course, with 4 kids, life doesn't get any less busy. While I'm not a huge fan of too much structure, we were getting to the point where something had to be done. We were always busy busy busy, yet the kids seemed to magically find time to constantly bug me about playing the wii or computer or watching TV. Enough is enough, I said. Something had to be done. I've also been wanting to get myself more organized, and to waste less time (namely, on facebook...). So I decided I should get myself one of those awesome whiteboard calendars that you can write in each month. While at Target the other day, I went to look for one. That shopping trip ended up being a success all around. Not only did I find the kind of whiteboard calendar I was looking for, but I found these awesome chore charts with little star magnets, made just for kids! And some delicious artisan sourdough bread and Ritter Sport chocolate. Told you the shopping trip was a success. :p Anyway, I digress. I ended up getting each of the kids their own board (except Elly, she's too little). They love them! I've worked out the initial plan for getting important things done, earning time for electronic entertainment, and being accountable for time spent playing/watching said electronic entertainment. So far, so good! It's a work in progress, and I'm sure things are going to get changed around as time goes on. I'm just glad I've found something to hopefully cut down on the TV/wii/computer time, and help give the kids some sort of structure. We'll see how it works out over time. :o)

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Halloween

Better late than never, right? (And yes, I know I already missed a day for NaBloPoMo...) We had a pretty fun day Saturday. I'm not a huge fan of Halloween, to be honest. I had no idea what Halloween even was until a few years ago, and now it's spreading throughout the world like a wildfire (or so it seems). Globalization? Commercialization? Well, whatever the case may be, the kids do get excited for it, so I try to be nice and play along. I still refuse to spend $30 on a cheaply made costume, though, so we reuse, reduce, recycle at our house. :p Tyler was a ninja (in his karate costume, so creative, I know!), Bryan was wolverine for the second (or third?) time in a row, Kaylee wore a tulle skirt we bought at a silent auction to benefit the young women at our church, and a pair of fairy (butterfly, whatever) wings she got at a friend's birthday party, and Elly wore Kaylee's costume from last year (a bit big, but hey, it worked, and she'll probably get to wear it a couple more times, hehe). Earlier in the day, we carved our pumpkin. When I pulled off the top, this is what I saw.



Cool, isn't is? I've never seen anything like it before! The gardener in me had a really hard time not just taking those little babies and planting them in the garden. It took some convincing myself that it is Fall, after all, and even in TX you don't plant pumpkins in the Fall. Unfortunately. When we were done carving the pumpking, we took it out to the front door, along with a few smaller pie pumpkins that the kids decorated (and that are going to be un-decorated later this week, to be turned into pumpkin pie, or pumpkin bread, or pancakes, or something).

Later on, Dave took the kids trick-or-treating.



I stayed home so I could play on facebook. Uh, I mean, answer the door for the large numbers of trick-or-treaters we expected (all 20 of them, hehe).

The kids fared well. I'm glad I decided not to hand out candy this year (playdoh and little games are so much more fun, aren't they???), so at least I didn't add to the pile of candy that is now sitting in a bowl on top of our fridge (and that is mysteriously shrinking by the hour...).



And that, my friends, is the story of our awesomely scary (not really) and FUN Halloween. :p



Don't you love the one eyed pumpkin without a nose? He got two ears instead. We had to compensate somehow, you know. I think next year we will go back to a more traditional model of the jack-o-lantern. :p

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Welcome NaBloPoMo!

Yes, my friends, it's that time of year again. National Blog Posting Month! Maybe now that'll help me get back in the habit of writing. Join me if you want! One post a day for the month of November! :o)