Sunday, July 31, 2011

Neighborhood Water Fun!

Our neighbors made this great car wash sprinkler thingy that they saw on Money Saving Mom.   We had a super fun time with it, my boys being such water hounds.  Here are some of the photos.  Thanks, Sharon!
Saw used it as a big wheel wash.
You can almost see the whole thing here.  So cute and fun!




Clearly Linc loved it!  (And drank it.)


We kept trying to get pics of our boys, who are two days apart, but this was all I got.  Boys!


Linc tried to make off with Makayla's bike.

Diaper Jeans > Pajama Jeans?

That's still out for debate.  Both are pretty awful.  (If you haven't seen Pajama Jeans, you can click HERE.  They'd be a great gag gift if they were so dang expensive! But they do come with a gray crewneck T...)  In any case, I got a huge coupon from the CVS extra care center the other day for $4 off Diaper Jeans.  Paired with a $1.50 off Huggies coupon, these babies were like $3.  Lincoln loves them. He can pee in them...while looking stylish and dapper!  We had a little photo shoot this afternoon.
"I've never been so happy to have on a diaper!  Wait--is my fly down?"

"Here's my serious face.  I'm too young to be sexy, but one day.  One day."

"I just know that my butt looks great in these.  If only I could fit a wallet in the back pocket..."

Mod Podge Map Fun

I finished another project this week:  a really neat map for Robbie's man room.  Inspired by different map ideas from my sis-in-law Lauren and Pottery Barn's new home catalogue, I took an old window I had and glued down a map from our old car atlas.  First there is the whole country, then smaller cities where Rob and I have lived, together and apart, or were special to us.  I then traced some of our road trips and marked places we lived or visited.  I love it!
Here's the window!
A cut-up atlas. 
I used Mod Podge to glue it down and as a finish on top.  
Rob checking out my handiwork.  He loved it!
A few of our places. 
We have done a LOT of driving!!
 Have you done any fun crafts lately?  Leave a link in the comments for inspiration!

Great Photo Frame, Batman!

I finally got this frame filled up with photos and hung in the kitchen! I bought this at Garden Ridge for like $30, I think. I've had it for six months at least, waiting until I got the perfect photos. They are all of the five of us: Rob, me, Tex, Saw and Linc. Mostly close-ups of faces, some cute and some funny. I LOVE it.

If you look closely (don't!) you'll notice that the photos aren't centered within their slots, because they were meant for 4x6s with a matte. I'm not buying that many mattes, so I just got each one kind of centered on the glass and then put the white sheet that came with it behind. I cannot measure for the life of me, and this seemed like the easiest way without my brain exploding.

What $20 Will Get You at the Goodwill

One of the things that's helped with Rob gone is new things.  I always said I wouldn't be a person who bought my kids lots of stuff, and really we don't.  But we kinda do.  We don't buy a lot NEW (unless it's way clearanced) but I do tend to buy goodwill, and I take any hand-me-downs we can get.  Then every six weeks or so I donate a big box back to the Goodwill.  Circle of life, indeed!

Last weekend when Rob was gone I took the boys to Goodwill after the gym and said they could each pick one thing. Then I saw this GIANT tub for only $20.  It was taped up so you couldn't get into it, but I could see a lot of guys and fun cars for the boys, so we took that puppy home.  I gave them a few things each when we got home and then put it away.  Even now and then when Saw seems bored, we get one new thing.
There may have been a lot of Happy Meal toys and a bunch of Barbies (which I will use for derby pranks--look out Brawlers and Sirens!), but also some great Rescue Heroes and a bunch of medieval knights and horses and a remote controlled car new in the box and balls for Lincoln.  Yay for mystery tubs of toys!

Little Kid Theology

S: Mommy are we going to the gym?
M:  Yes, we're going to the new gym.
S:  There are not-nice kids there.  Bad kids.
M: I don't know what kinds of kids will be there.  But did you know that we are ALL bad?  None of us is perfect.  We are ALL not nice sometimes.
S: But now we're nice.
M: Why?
S: Because Jesus changed us.

This is a real conversation that I had the other day in the car with Sawyer.  It was an amazing moment for me, because I felt like, even if at this age he doesn't fully GET everything, he's starting to get it.  He's making connections.  In those few words, he really grasped a theological truth.

It's hard to teach real truths about God to little kids.  There are a million books and songs and other resources, but sometimes I feel like what they really teach is not the gospel. By the gospel, I mean this:   we are all sinners, but Jesus lived the perfect life we can't, and died the death we deserve.  If we believe and trust him, he will change us from the inside out and we will be in heaven with him.  Sometimes the core of even sunday school curriculums are just teaching them to be good people.  Some, if you really delve deep, go against what you really believe and teach a kind of morality apart from Jesus.  Your kid may not notice that yet, but I'd really like the heart of what I teach to be the heart of the gospel at every age.

An example might be something like this.  My kid gets hit by another kid and hits back.  When I talk to him about it, you say: "Be nice--don't hit back."  Or even: "The Bible says to treat others like you want to be treated."  While there's nothing really wrong with either of those things, I want to take it a step deeper.  WHY should we be nice?  WHY treat others like we want to be treated?  An easy verse for that:  We love because Jesus first loved us.  (1 John 4:19)

Semantics, Kiki!  you are shouting.  (I can hear you over here.)  Kind of.  But kind of not.  I'll explain why this is so important to me.

If I am teaching my kids just morality, just being good, that's not really going hand-in-hand with the gospel, which says we can't be good enough on our own to earn our way to heaven.  The gospel says that real love for others comes when we realize God's love for us.  Our good deeds spring from that work Jesus has done.  Not from just a desire to please Mom or Dad or to look our best or to be a nice person.

Do I want my kids to obey?  Yes.  But I also want them to know the context for it--we can't obey enough to earn our way to heaven.  We are not perfect.  Not even Mommy and Daddy.  (And yes, I tell him this and I ask for forgiveness if I ever treat him in a not-nice way.)  When we fail to obey, it reminds us that only Jesus is perfect.  Jesus, being perfect, offers help for us to obey.  When we believe in him, he comes in our hearts and helps us obey.  He makes us a new creation.  He wants us to live in a way that pleases him.

What does this look like when I'm dealing with Saw?  When he disobeys, we talk about the fact that no one is perfect.  We tell him what he failed to do and carry out discipline.  We will often pray for him, have him ask forgiveness and we ask Jesus to help him in his heart.  I felt like in that conversation I had with him in the car, he was really making the connection.

I've caught myself telling him things that are wrong.  He used to call kids not-nice and I was doing that too.  Until I realized that while those kids might have been ACTING not-nice, in our hearts we are ALL not-nice.  There isn't some category of good and bad kids.  Really, we're ALL the bad kids.

Finding ways to teach that are still holding true to the gospel is really hard.  All my instincts kind of go the other way.  I want him to fight when he's bullied because I'm protective.  I want him to stay away from the not-nice kids.  I want to think that there are not-nice kids, but not consider my kids in that category.  Sometimes I just want him to do the right thing, even for the wrong reason.

The gospel always goes to the heart.  Hebrews says that God's word is a double-edged sword, cutting to our heart.  I am growing as I go in figuring out how this applies in the day-to-day ways I teach my kids to interact with their world and to see other people.  Even in the midst of my hard time with Sawyer lately, I can take joy in his words:  "Jesus changed us."

Challenges of the Three-Year-Old

If you've been reading, you know that right now we're in a challenging period with Sawyer.  He has been really defiant lately and argumentative and disobedient, all the while trying to give up his nap.  Kids go through phases and there are other factors at work here:

1.  Rob has been gone a lot because it's summer.  Any mom knows that having dad around does something with helping your kids obey.  Typically, I mean.  There's something about getting in trouble with dad that trumps getting in trouble with mom.  Usually.

2. Growth spurt?  Jenna texted me (and I forgot to write you back!) with the thought that Saw may be going through a growth spurt as when her son goes through them, he eats like mad and behaves that way too.  The other night for dinner, Saw ate two turkey dogs, one turkey burger, three fish sticks and two cereal bars.  Maybe some other stuff too.  See what I mean?  So we may have some of that as well.

3. Lack of nap. This is a big one.  Sawyer still desperately NEEDS a nap.  I am still making him stay in his room and have an alarm set for when he can come out.  I make him lay down in the floor, and yet, he mentally fights with all he has.  In fact, I've had to get up two or three times while writing this to regulate.  It's exhausting for me, and more exhausting for him.  I can see a huge difference from the days where he does fall asleep in there to the days where he doesn't.  You can't MAKE a kid fall asleep, and that's the hard thing.  We can put him in the best situation to encourage sleep and then enforce it, but it won't make him fall asleep.

It's been hard on me and hard on my parents, who have had to deal with a ton of bad behavior from him.  I am excited for the end of this phase and trying to keep my chin up and really enjoy the sweet moments to balance it out.  If someone had to ask the hardest parts of having kids, I would say that the first is giving up so much for yourself.  The second is a very CLOSE second, and that's discipline.  I'm very thankful that while it's constant, the need for discipline like we have right now comes in waves.

Two Giveaways!

Right now I have two giveaways on my reveiw blog:  one ending today (Sunday) and one ending August 4th.  You can enter to win a free E-cookbook  HERE or a set of 250 custom labels HERE.  I'm also about to have a fun review and maybe giveaway from Nerdy Shirts.  Get excited!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

My To-Do List Is Kicking My Hiney

Also, how do you spell hiney? My computer doesn't like it any which way.  Heiney.  Hieney.  Hinie.  High knee.  It likes that one.

Things to Do:
-repaint/refinish two end tables
-finish peacock feather painting
-put photos in giant frame to hang in kitchen
-finish fun map project I started this week (photos to come!)
-find someone to cheaply (or freely?) fix my wooden bench
-finish hanging everything in the man room
-clean the guest room
-clean everything else
-put away more laundry and then some more laundry
-work on top-secret internet project (more on that later!)
-sleep?  breathe?  be alive?

I am the WORST about starting projects. I get so excited and then can't finish anything.  It drive me nuts, but not nuts enough to change. Argh.   I feel stressed thinking about it.  So...to bed I go.

E-Book Raffle!

Don't forget that you can still enter a raffle for a fabulous e-cookbook!  Click HERE to find more details!  There will be six winners, so go enter now.

Discipline and Communication

I have been reading Shepherding a Child's Heart the last few days for refreshing and encouragement as I try to deal with Sawyer's willful misbehavior.  I really love this book, mostly because it gets to the heart of disobedience and discipline.  Discipline is not about correcting behavior, but about the heart--what motivates the behavior.  You don't just want your kid not to push his brother; you want to deal with the selfishness and the anger at the heart causing him to push his brother.

I will say that this book is probably not for everyone.  It comes from a Biblical perspective, so if you're not basing things on that, everything it says flows from that.  He also is a proponent of spanking, though the majority of the book is NOT about that, but about the nature of your child and the nature of communication and discipline.  I think that even if you don't spank, the principles would help you.

As an example, I read a chapter last night talking about the different kinds of communication.  Tedd Tripp says that most of the time, we parents are bad listeners, and bad communicators.  We don't really listen to our kids or take the time to engage, and often we use one type of communication--correcting or rebuking.  For a richer relationship, deepening respect and love, he pulled these types of communication from Proverbs:

Encouragement- helping your child find hope and courage in God
Correction- bringing your child into conformity with a standard
Rebuke- censuring behavior
Entreaty- earnest pleading with your child to act in wisdom and faith
Instruction- providing a lesson to help understand the world
Warning- putting your child on guard in terms of a danger
Teaching- imparting knowledge to your child
Prayer- communicating with God

That's a lot of different types of talk!  He also says that we need to slow down and listen, not just planning what we want to say next.  Really asking questions to get our kids talking and showing them that we CARE about what they have to say.  When our kids are teens, he says, and we want desperately for them to talk to us, if we have set this foundation early so they know we care, it will be easier.  In theory.

In any case, I feel somewhat encouraged, as I know I talk a lot with Sawyer and I do listen.  I do a lot of those types of communication, but just looking at the list helps me to think more consciously about them.   I try to remember when we are in these tough times that standing firm now is better than backing down from being tired and frustrated.  I imagine Sawyer as a teenager, wanting his own way, and how much harder that fight will be if we don't stand firm as authorities now.  Temper tantrums at three are awful.  Temper tantrums at sixteen?  Much worse.

Defiant Urination

The past week or so has been really hard with Sawyer.  I am so glad that I got great reports from his VBS teachers, so I can remind myself of that when he is being a holy terror at home.  The latest thing he is doing is peeing in the floor.  On purpose.  When he's mad.

Defiant urination, indeed.

I'm not sure where this started, really, but he has had at least one incident a day of peeing in the floor.  Yesterday it was during nap time. And then again out on the back patio when I was about to leave for derby.  He did it two nights ago in the floor of our TV room while watching a movie, then jumped back up on the couch with a sly smile.  It's making me crazy.

Not only am I cleaning tons of pee off of clothes and carpets, but just WHY?!?  I totally believe that children are born with a sinful nature.  And if you're thinking, oh no--they're innocent!  you are right and wrong about that.  They are innocent in the ways of evil, but total experts in the NATURE of it.  As in, they don't know about genocide or plots to take over the world or rob a bank, but they are versed in the ways of being selfish, which is really the boiled down bare bones of sin.  In the garden, Adam and Eve chose their way over God's way--sin is essentially choosing your way above all others.   With that in mind, I know that Sawyer is expressing that selfish nature.  As to why he is feeling like peeing on the floor, or what is motivating that, I'm not sure.

Kids go in cycles, it seems.  With everything from eating to sleeping to behavior.  We are in a bad cycle with behavior, as Saw is being mean to Lincoln, sassing us, and peeing on the carpet.  I'm again in a discipline-weary time.  But I am pressing on in disciplining and praying for help and wisdom and for God to really work on that tiny, selfish heart in the same way I'm asking him to work on my own full-grown, selfish heart.  It's hard.

Thankfully, there are great moments like this to keep me going.  The other night, I had put Saw in the tub and was sitting in the bathroom, drinking coffee and watching him play.  In the middle of playing, he looked at me and said, "Mommy, I LIKE you."  It's not love, but I'll take like. I'll take anything other than pee on the carpet.

I'm Back!

We have internet again!  Like we tried to tell Comcast, our modem box was broken.  Had they listened to us the first time, we might have had internet days and days ago.  Still, there are things to be learned from this 10 days of dry and dusty technology desert.

1.  I get a lot more done without it.  Done in the real world, I mean.
2.  I read more.  When I have quiet moments, I go to books when there is no web to surf.
3.  I am lonely.  I connect with lots of people via Facebook and blogs and email, all of which are hard to do on my phone.
4.  I waste too much time on Facebook.  While it is nice to connect, my connections there are really kind of shallow.  Commenting on a status doesn't deepen friendships.  Not really.  It's fun, though!  So I plan to spend less time there, now that I'm back.

All in all, I'm glad that I had the time without, but now I can appreciate and be more intentional with the internet.  I missed you.  :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Little Hammy

Sawyer got to spend a week in VBS and loved it!  Thursday was a show that the kids put on with singing and some light choreography.  It was the first time he has done something like that, so I really didn't know what to expect with it.  I have a video which is only interesting to us--one minute of Sawyer clapping and swaying in place.  It's the kind of thing only a parent loves!  But here are a few cute photos of him.
Looking all shy before the performance. 
Hamming it up in the audience with his buddy and almost twin, Rowan.  Did you get fooled?  Sawyer is the one in the white shirt. :)

Happy Wedding, Cynder!

This weekend I went to my first ever Bachelorette party!  How did it take me this long?  I think a lot of my friends just didn't have them, or we did something else in place of, or else I lived in a different state.  This was for my derby friend CynderHellYeah, and my teammate Shank and I threw it for her.  It was a wild affair, but lots of silly fun and nothing illegal.  The dress was incognito, so you had to have a wig and or mustache.  We also had a scavenger hunt in the bars where we had to get photos of things like us dancing on the bar, strangers wearing our clothes or wigs, a human pyramid or more. Here are a few photos of the fun!  Congrats to Ryan and Cynder on your upcoming wedding!!

Love those shiny bobs!

I might have done that. 

We even had a baby!  Like a Boss!!!

There may have also been a banana.




"Too much?"



(Don't worry.  No one REALLY passed out.)

Best. Chestbump. Ever. 

Permanent marker makes for good mustaches!
Purple really isn't my color. 

The Boys These Days

What are Saw and Lincoln up to? I'm sure you're wondering.

Lincoln continues to grow that personality.  Last night he spent an hour or so running in circles on the floor in our TV room, squealing and laughing.  I am pretty sure he was chasing himself.  And was totally entertained.

When he wants something, he will maybe say it (which sounds mostly like Ba or Ma--bottle or book or mine) but will for SURE grab you by the hand and drag you, or get behind and push you where he wants you to go.  The other night while we were at the circus, he actually made Peter (who was babysitting) take him to bed by dragging Peter to the crib and waiting to be lifting in.  Hysterical!

He isn't eating lately, something I don't understand.  He tells me no (by violently shaking his head back and forth and shoving me away) when I try to feed him just about anything.  Every now and then he'll feast, like the other day when he ate 6 Chick-Fil-A nuggets, but mostly he gets in the high chair and says no.

Sawyer is kind of the opposite in many ways.  He is always eating, a pleasant surprise.  He wakes up hungry and tells me all day when he wants to eat.  He's also sleeping in just underwear and has only had one accident.  I'm kind of shocked!  I just sort of expected that to take a longer time.

As far as bedtime goes, he is terrible, and is still needing a nap but fighting them off.  I make him stay in his room and set an alarm, but that is even a challenge.  Yesterday he battled with me for two hours and then finally fell asleep.  Half an hour later I had to wake him and then he didn't want to get up.  At night it's more of the same.  He cries he's scared, he cries because he's thirsty, has to poop, wants me in there, wants to be prayed for, and on and on.  It's a challenge.  He is also still waking up almost every night in the middle of the night and wakes us up.

Another challenge is his terrible attitude the last few days.  It's been really hard.  Rob is gone, so dealing with discipline alone is never fun.  The great thing is that last week while in VBS, several helpers and teachers told me that he was really great and so polite and sweet, always saying please and thank you.  Three cheers for that!  I know testing the limits is normal, so it's encouraging to hear at least some good news, even if I'm not the one who gets to see it.

I'm enjoying the boys despite the challenges and working on a better daily schedule where I can make sure we are playing and reading and learning together as the fall comes.  I know all too soon they'll be grown and in school, so I want to get the most out of this high intensity time!

Coming Up for Air

That's what it feels like, having an hour to use the internet at Cafe Express.

I don't want to bore you with the details of how terrible Comcast is or how our internet is broken and it's their fault and it was supposed to already be fixed but it's not and that's their fault too.  Or how I have several angry letters to write now.  The point is that I will not have internet until Thursday, at the earliest.

I miss you, online world.  It's weird not typing everyday in this little blogger post space, knowing that somewhere out there, I can't see you, but you're reading about our odd little life.  On the other hand, this has made me realize how much time I waste updating my status and commenting on other people's statuses on Facebook.  We'll be making a few changes when I get the net back.  But I will surely appreciate it for the sake of getting my grocery store deals and for sharing stories.

Friday, July 22, 2011

New Giveaway!

I have a link for a great raffle for my readers.  We are giving away 6 copies of an E-Cookbook that contains 200 recipes with 10 or less ingredients in 30 minutes' time!  Sound good?  Click HERE for more info on my review blog!

Without the Internet, I Can...

-read books
-take naps
-sleep at a (somewhat) decent hour
-talk to people
-play with my kids
-cook more
-put away laundry

Hm.  Maybe my internet should break more often.  Thanks, Mom and Dad, for letting me break into your house and steal yours a little bit.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Am I Too Old to Join the Circus?

While Sawyer continues to assert that he never wants to go to the circus again, I want to run away and join.  Or, form our own family circus.  We have enough strange and talented people to have at least one ring, if not three.   After reading Water for Elephants (a gritty look at depression era circuses) and seeing a live one, I'm mildly obsessed.  The kind of obsessed where I might have to do a research project just for fun.
Oh, and if you're wondering what I'd do in the circus?  Alligator wrestling. 

I'm not even kidding.  In fact, if I saw a job listing in Houston for an alligator wrestler, I'd be knocking down the door.  For real.

Back to the circus:  we had a great time.  Rob and I don't get why Sawyer doesn't want to go again, as he watched, mostly with mouth gaping, as the acrobats twirled and flew and the elephants danced and the motorcycles roared around the giant metal sphere.  He also watched with mouth gaping as the people behind us ate their popcorn.  (So we got our own.)  I think he was just tired and thirsty (we refused to buy a drink, so took three trips to the water fountain) and maybe overwhelmed by all the people, noise and hoopla. Oh, and the smell of elephant poo, which is honestly the only thing I remember from going to the circus as a child.  (That and crying on the way home because I missed Scooby Doo on TV.)

Until the next time we go, here are some shots of the action.




















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