Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Great dinner, great article!

Scott and I decided to go out for dinner last night at Carolina Ale House. This is a favorite restaurant of ours, however we've not been since the twins were born. We loaded up the car, and prayed for a decently behaved dinner.

Turns out, the kids were the most well-behaved children that we've ever seen in a restaurant. I don't know what the deal was, but nobody cried, threw anything, or knocked anything over. The twins were content to sit in their high chairs and eat their food without event. Emily had the best manners, and say quietly and patiently while we waited for our food. All in all, it was an excellent time for us all.

On another note, I noticed the headline on a newspaper box as I exited the restaurant. I didn't fork over the buck to buy the newspaper, but did come home and find the article of interest on-line. I thought this was very interesting.

I've often encountered this type of issue with other moms. I was once in a Chick-Fil-A with the twins, and Eli was asleep in his baby carrier with his head slumped over. (His head was ALWAYS slumped over, despite the best efforts of Mom, Dad, and Grammy!)

A lady walked over to me and said, "I know you're busy eating, but if I bring his baby carrier to you, would you PLEASE fix his head from flopping over?!"

I was furiously angry, and responded, "He likes his head like that. I would fix it, but he'd put it right back in the same spot, so no, I won't but thanks for your concern!"

I know moms all have stories like this. I thought this article did an excellent job discussing this issue.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Family Devotions

I've always complained that one thing that frustrates me about public school is the way our government makes social problems the responsibility of the classroom teacher. Many social problems in recent history have resulted in legislation requiring schools to teach children about the issue, thus making schools responsible for teaching what I believe should be taught at home. Some examples are sex ed, dietary habits, and very recently, financial planning.

Now I totally understand that many children aren't fortunate enough to have families that discuss anything together, much less difficult issues. And I realize that its better for children to be taught these things in the one place where they are together and all will be reached, which is the public school.

But I worry that it takes the load off the family from doing something that I think is its job. I don't want to have the attitude of, "Well, the school teaches our kids how have healthy eating habits, so we don't need to worry about it."

So now that I'm off my soap box, here is the issue that I'm having: I feel like the church and the family have this same relationship. I believe the church's job is to HELP the family teach their children about Jesus. I want our kids to learn about Jesus primarily at home. And while I know that modeling daily living and conversations with our Emily are effective ways to teach, I also wonder if we should be doing more. We read her toddler Bible to her, we've gone through the whole thing over the past few months. Its a great little kids Bible that has just about every story from the old to new testament. We've gone through a nightly devotional with her, but when it was over, I never found anything to continue with. I want to make sure we're not relying so much on our church teaching our kids, that we've given up the responsibility to do so at home.

Now I'm looking at family devotionals, and talking with Scott about implementing them during our evenings. I've had a few different ones that looked interesting that I need to look more closely at, and we need to find a protected time each night that would allow us to do this. Does anybody have any advice about how their family devotional time works in their house?

Monday, May 24, 2010


I haven't posted a good Emily quote in awhile, and thought it was high time.

A week or so ago, I sent Em out to get in the car for preschool. She walked out the front door and saw a man in our front yard, and immediately started talking to him. At first I totally freaked out until I realized that it was just the meter reader, and he probably just wanted to get back to his job.

Once we were all buckled in the car and backing down the drive, I explained to Emily that talking to strangers like that could be dangerous, and that it is not safe to go up to men in the front yard and talk to them. I tried not to be too scary sounding as I explained that there are not nice people in the world and that Daddy and Mommy want Emily to be safe. She told me she understood, and I told her I loved how friendly she was.

Well, this morning we were doing our grocery shopping at our favorite grocery store. The bagger walked us out and loaded up our groceries while I loaded the babies in the car. (This is why its my favorite grocery store... they always help me load my car!)

As the bagger turned to walk away, he asked Emily, "Are you always so helpful to your mommy?"

She just stood there.

Knowing that she wasn't a quiet kid after he just witnessed her talk endless in the check-out line, he assumed she must not have heard him, so he repeated himself.

She continued to stand there, and actually turned her head away.

For the life of me I couldn't figure out how my normally polite young lady could be so rude! I told Emily, "Honey, the nice man just asked you a question. Tell him how you are always so helpful to mommy!" (I'm sure there as an edge in my voice!)

She very timidly said, "Yes, I'm helpful to mommy." And the man turned to go.

After I got in the car, and before I could get any words out, Emily grabbed my shoulder and said, "Mommy. You really need to make up your mind about this stranger thing. I'm really confused right now."

Ahhh. So THAT'S it. I felt like such a doofus. And once again I was reminded that my five year old is smarter than I am.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Front Porch Conversations

The evenings have been just gorgeous lately, so each night Scott and I have been enjoying them on the front porch. We have an adult tasty beverage while we listen to music and talk. It has quickly become one of my favorite times of the day when we get to enjoy some time together after the kids are in bed.

Its also the time when we get to seriously talk about life. Lately I've sort of dominated the conversations with all things job related. Will I go to work next year? What if I really, really miss teaching? Does that make me a bad mom? Why can't I have both things: teaching, and stay-at-home-mommy? What if I don't find a job? What if I stay home another year or two?

Let's just say... Scott is patient. And has tremendous faith. I worry about things out of my control, and Scott relies on Him bigger than us all. I still try to control things.

So the other night I sort of came to the realization that I felt I hadn't learned much lately. I haven't attended conferences, been involved with cohorts, read professional literature. And I told Scott I missed this learning.

He looked at me said that I needed to start valuing the things I HAVE learned this year. And when I stopped to think about it, there have been some great things that I've learned. I've learned how to save crazy amounts of money with coupons and menu planning. I've learned to can, make jam, bake bread, and all sorts of new recipes. I've made my own baby food, used cloth diapers successfully for over a year (with twins even!). I've made a household calendar and learned to manage the tasks around the house in a way that keeps me sane, and allows Scott the most time to spend with the kids when he gets home from work.

Sometimes moms don't stop to think about all the things we "learn" when we stay at home, or the things we teach to our kids on a daily basis. It was good for me to hear those words of encouragement from him, and I thought it may be good to pass it on to other moms who also may need to give themselves credit for the every day happenings around the house, however mundane them may seem.

I don't know where God will bring me next year. I may be at home with my twins, I may be in a classroom with students. But no matter what happens, I will remember to value what I've learned at home.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our Tough Girl

The recreation department does a "Mud Mania" day every year. I showed Emily pictures on the internet, and she said she would like to do that. So this morning Emily dressed in yucky clothes, and we headed off to the park to watch Emily conquer the muddy obstacle course!

Elsie and Eli were her biggest fans! Here is Elsie giving her awesome big sister some "good luck" smooches!

Here she is going through the obstacle course:

Emily wasn't quite sure about the kids getting mud all over their heads. This was about as muddy as she got!

When the kids were done playing in the mud, the fire department sprayed them off with a fire hose! It was quite the set-up!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Kitchen re-do

We've lived in our house for almost five years now. I have mentioned many times that I absolutely abhorred the wallpaper in the kitchen. But truth be told, there wasn't much in the kitchen that I liked. But the wallpaper was certainly the worst.

We never really did anything with the kitchen because one project seemed like it would snowball in to another with no end.

Before we moved in, the home inspection revealed a slight mold issue with the floor leading to the back door. Well, we were told the owners "replaced" the floor. And they did. They replaced the 4' x 1' strip of floor where the issue was with 12" tiles, and framed it in. Yuck! But what were we going to do? We realized this the day before closing.

So then, the sliding door broke. We couldn't pop it out to adjust or replace the rollers because that would mean busting out the tile, which meant replacing the floor, and since the carpet was horrible in the living room, shouldn't we go ahead and replace it in there and in the dining room as well?

You can see where I'm going with this.

But finally, this past month we've done some great things to our kitchen. Our counter tops (which for my CA friends, are Formica... gross huh? Everybody has Formica, except in the super expensive houses where they have granite.) were painted and sealed, forever removing the mauvey-gray grossness. The cabinets, which were previously a "pickled maple" (I just called them pink!) were painted and then glazed with a brown-sienna color, the entire downstairs was replaced with laminate wood, the wallpaper was removed, and the walls painted, and a plaster backslash was added.

I just love it!

Here are some before and after pictures. These before pictures were actually the pictures we took of the kitchen before we bought the house, oh so long ago. Sadly, it was still the way the kitchen looked (with our furniture of course) up until a few weeks ago when the renovations began.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

My new mission

One of my best friends is getting married! Scott and I are totally excited for them as their Sept. 18 date quickly approaches. Emily will be the flower girl (how excited is she?!) and I am a bridesmaid.

Very exciting, however this event has spurred what I like to call the, "Get skinny before Amber's wedding" mission.

So far so good, as I've been walking/jogging three miles out of the neighborhood and back around. A few ladies from my neighborhood are joining me, and we leave at 7:40 every other day or so.

Now as a swimmer, I've always held to the belief that "swimmers don't run." And often times when my knees are aching this phrase come back to me. But the one thing that makes it so much better is where we go walking/running.

If you have never been to South Carolina before, you're really missing out on what I think is a really beautiful place. EVERYTHING is green, and the woods are filled with not only different types of oak and pine, but also magnolia, birch, and cedar. Between those trees there is such a variety of vines and foliage. So much so that you couldn't just "stroll through the woods" because you'd be accosted by all sorts of greenery that would block your path. And along the roadside where I run there is honeysuckle in bloom everywhere. It smells so wonderful. And between the honeysuckle are tons and tons of wild blackberry bushes with the beginnings of green berries that will be ready to eat in a few weeks.

The road we go down has very little traffic, only a few houses, and woods on either side. The trees meet in the middle, and it is simply gorgeous. At the end of this road is a small alfalfa field that has just been harvested, so there are huge round bales of hay every so often in the field. Beside this field is an old barn, and a horse stable with a half dozen horses.

Simply gorgeous.

So while I probably will never enjoy the "running" part of my mission, I'm so thankful for the beauty that I get to see each time I go. Maybe one day I will think to drive down this road with my camera to show you just what I am trying to describe.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Strawberry Picking

One of our favorite things to do is to visit the Pick Your Own farms in our area. If you've ever wanted to find a place near where you live, a great website to visit is this website.

Strawberries are at their prime right now, so our family trekked out to Lever Farms this afternoon to pick our fill. We returned with nearly three gallons of beautiful ripe strawberries, and three very red children!

I'm pretty sure there was never a pair as happy as the twins! I brought their little mesh eating tool (you put food in it, and they suck it through the mesh bag... no choking!) and they ate a TON of strawberries. The only part they didn't like was when Mommy had to refill it. Eli, who is still developing patience, screamed every time until I could get a new strawberry loaded in his mesh bag.

Needless to say, we had to strip the twins down to their diapers before loading them in the car, and all three kids went straight from the car to the bath tub. Now its nap time for the kiddos, and Scott too.

And when Emily wakes up, we're making strawberry jam!

I love days like this with my family!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Nap Time Shenanigans

Nap time is always such an elusive time. Some weeks go by with perfect nap times where all three kids sleep at the same time for at least an hour. Other weeks, well... it just doesn't happen that way!

Its funny to me that Emily is my best napper. She goes down fairly easily, and sometimes will actually put herself to sleep if she's particularly tired. Her naps are consistently two hours long. Just as the sun rises, Emily takes her nap. And yes. She is five.

But the twins? Well, that's a different story. We haven't had a good napping week in awhile now. Their morning nap is quick, at just one hour. And their afternoon nap is a little more than an hour too, but not at the same time.

Imagine this: I put both babes down in their cribs with their blankie and paci. I turn on the white noise, and slowly leave the room, closing the door behind me. Then for the next twenty to thirty minutes I hear them babbling to each other. Not fussing. Just babbling back and forth, with the occasional outburst of giggles. Its seriously the cutest thing ever.

But eventually, Eli gets tired, and lays down to go to sleep. This really makes Elsie mad. She stand up in the corner of her crib (the closest she can get to him in his crib) and she yells. She looks right at him and just tells him off! This goes on for about ten minutes straight, and Eli sleeps through the whole thing. Then Elsie begins to cry. She sobs and sobs and just can't figure out why her partner in crime left her.

And then finally, when Eli has been sleeping for about forty minutes, Elsie nods off to sleep. Eli sleeps for maybe another fifteen minutes and then wakes up, which leaves me with a whopping fifteen minutes to myself.

Just like a girl to talk a boy to sleep, huh?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

The twins are 1!!!

Eli and Elsie had a fabulous backyard bash on Saturday to celebrate their first birthday. We had friends and family over for some dinner and cake and ice cream. I'm sure neither of the babies knew what was going on, but they both had a great time!

Here are some pictures of the event:

Some milestones associated with their birthday:
- Pulling up and cruising along tables and other furniture
-Crawls over to where I am and pulls up on my leg while whining "Mamamama"
- Is now drinking out of a sippy cup after months of hitting out of my hand whenever I brought one near
- Loves to swing in the backyard, and loves to dip his feet in the pool.
- Loathes diaper changing. All I have to do is lay him on the changing table and he begins crying "Neh neh neh." (No No No)
- Gives big wet open mouth kisses.
- Points to each member of our family when we ask, "Where is ______ ?"
- After he wakes each morning he loves to crawl in the bathroom and pound on the shower door until he gets daddy's attention. Then he breaks out in to the biggest smile of the day. I think he believes Daddy is playing hide and seek with him, but just isn't a good hider.

-Just began crawling for the first time on her actual birthday after being reffered to a physical therapist by our pediatrician only the morning before. (I've since canceled the referral.)
- Has a grin that rivals any, and isn't afraid to flash it to ya!
- Cranes her neck in the grocery store to gain the attention of strangers, and when they grant her their attention, she grins widely and kicks her feet. I'm pretty sure this brings joy to even the meanest customers.
- Makes kissing noises as she kisses. Especially loves to kiss her white "Merry Christmas" bear.
- Has rolls that cover her knee caps.
- Cocks her head to one side and waves, just like a southern belle should.
- Gives her brother and sister hugs.
-Loves to eat all foods, and makes "mmmm mmmmm mmmm" noises like she's savoring every bite. She especially loves cottage cheese.

Hard to believe these two beautiful babies are already a year old.