Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For the days when you just need a little inspiration...

I have received this many times in my email inbox and every time I read it, it tends to hit home a bit more. I don't know who the author is, but it is a nice little reminder for the days when I just can't take it anymore and am beyond frustrated - how important my job really is. I know that all of you Moms can totally relate!

Invisible Mother

It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to be taken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, "Can't you see I'm on the phone?"Obviously not; no one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all. I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.

Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this?? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a clock to ask, "What time is it?" I'm a satellite guide to answer, "What number is the Disney Channel?" I'm a car to order, "Right around 5:30, please."

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude - but now, they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again.

She's going, she's going, she's gone!?

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, "I brought you this." It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: "To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees."

In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names. These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, "Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof; No one will ever see it. And the workman replied, "Because God sees."

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, "I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become."

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don't want my son to tell the friend he's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, "My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for 3 hours and presses all the linens for the table." That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, "You're gonna love it there."

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Valley girl

I just had to laugh at Hailey in this outfit because she just looked so 1980's. Every time she walked over to me I wanted her to say "Gag me with a spoon"!

Stay tuned for a look at her new 'do. She is getting her haircut for the first time tomorrow. Hopefully it will have a bit of style and not be so unruly all the time. Her latest trick is to get syrup all over her hands and rub it in her hair. On those "bad hair days", we just stick her in her rock star wig and call it good. Kidding, but how cute does she look with long hair? Pretty cute - fer shur, fer shur!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


My children,

On this day, we the people have elected a new president into office. Not everyone voted for him, but that is one of the great things about living in our country. The majority did vote for him - and the majority had their voices heard on that day back in November and saw their dream realized today.

As I watched the coverage of the inauguration this afternoon with Evan and Hailey by my side on the couch. I realized that this is the first time any of you have had a new president in your lifetimes. This one is extremely historic because for the first time in history, a man of African - American descent will lead our country and influence the majority of the free world. Something that would have seemed unheard of back in the times of your great grandparents.

As I sat on the couch and watched the former presidents arrive and watched the new president and his wife and adorable daughters. I felt myself getting choked up. What a day for all of them! What a day for America! I know it was bitter cold there, but the sun was shining and I bet that most could not feel the cold with the winds of change taking over in our country yesterday.

I teared up many times during his speech, especially during this part:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

This day is historic. I hope from this day forward we never have to explain why it is historic. I am finding it hard to write what my point is on paper without sounding blase' about the whole thing. I just want you kids and this generation to grow up without seeing race as a big deal. To grow up just realizing that everyone is equal and born with the same opportunities to be amazing. Basically to be colorblind and to know that people are different - everyone is different and that is OK and the way it is supposed to be.

You were all born in a time where anything is possible. You were born in a time where people are able to achieve greatness despite what others may say. You were born into a time where we can all strive to make this country even better than it once was. God bless America and my prayers are with President Obama and the difficult road that lies ahead for him to get our country back on track.

Love, Mom

Monday, January 19, 2009

Heat wave!

This past week has been arctic cold. Temperatures in the single digits and wind chills blowing into the negatives. Today was the first day in a while that we got into the twenties! Balmy! Finally the kids were able to play outside without me having to worry about them losing digits or the tip of their noses to frostbite. They played on our little sled hill and had a great time! Even Hailey was having fun. Normally she begs to go out with the boys and if I do get her all bundled up in her gear, she will stay out for about a seventy five second count and then start crying to go in. Today she loved watching her brothers and standing in the snow. She even went down the hill sitting on Dad's lap. Mostly she liked walking around with Dad in the driveway and at the end of the street checking out the giant snow piles. The sun was out so I think it felt warmer than it really was. Boy it was nice to see the sun! I think I have spring fever already!

I love these last two pics with them so happy and caked with snow!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Equally historic

The news this weekend has been full of stories about President Elect Obama's inauguration this week and his historic train ride to Washington yesterday. This morning Spencer was watching parts of it on the news and asked me "Is Barack Obama going to be our new President this week?"

Mommy: Yep. On Wednesday he is going to take the oath of office and be our new President.

Spencer: Cool. And Mom, also on Wednesday, Evan is the snack helper!

Spencer: Maybe that means when Evan is older he will be the President!

Mommy: Maybe...

Blog note: I realized after the conversation that the inauguration is actually on Tuesday the 20th. Oh well, I guess that means that Evan will never be President.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Resolutions and balance

Since we are already seventeen days into the new year, I have decided that this year I am not going to make any resolutions. They never seem to pan out very well for me anyway. This year I have decided to set some new "guidelines" for myself and see if that mindset will work out any better.

My first one is to eat better. Eat less. Work out more. Hopefully by doing these things I will reach the BMI desired by my Mii character on the Wii Fit. As I said before, I am seventeen days in and not seeing too much of a difference and finding it difficult to find the "me" time I need to get the calories burning. I realize that it is better to go slow because that is the only way that the weight will actually stay off, but seeing results is what gets me motivated to continue.

I am trying to be more "green". We are trying to use less electricity. Turning our heat down a few degrees and relying more on blankets. My new mantra is "reduce, reuse, recycle" (thank you Jack Johnson). I can actually feel my Grama J smiling down on me every time I save a bread bag to reuse. She was the original greenie - she was SO ahead of the times. I shake the leftover crumbs out of the bread bags and stick them in my diaper bags to use for dirty diapers when we are out somewhere. I also used one the other day when I made an extra meatloaf and was out of tinfoil. My regular zip locks were the wrong dimension to fit the loaf pan so I grabbed a couple of bread bags and voila' perfect fit. If I can get one more use out of something other than the purpose it was intended, I figure one less thing to take up space in the landfill.

I am trying to get more organized. I am feeling extremely bogged down by clutter lately. So much so that I can feel it wearing on me. It seems that every time I open a cupboard or closet trying to put something away I am inundated with things that just don't need to be in there. I was just putting clothes away in Hailey's room and since she received so many new duds for Christmas and her birthday, it is a chore to find a place for the new stuff. I see things hanging and things in drawers that I know are too small yet are still in there taking up very necessary space. The drawers and closet are so chucked full that I forget what is in there sometimes. Forgetting that you have stuff makes you think you need more stuff so you go out and buy it which is bad on our checkbook and my three R's mantra from the paragraph above. The problem is not isolated to her room, our house just seems to have a clutter epidemic right now. I started making a bit of a dent in the laundry room yesterday, but time is a limited commodity and you have to put out the biggest fires first. I just need to motivate myself to tackle one room a week and go through all the drawers and closets bit by bit until the whole house is de-cluttered. At that point, I no doubt will have to start over at square one again!

I really want to get back into scrapbooking. It is something I really enjoy doing, but it is very time consuming. I would at least like to get Evan and Hailey's books caught up to the point of Spencer's and then maybe re-evaluate what I want to scrapbook and what is covered well enough in this blog. I just need to sit down some night and do it, but my scrapbook area is a disaster. (See above paragraph regarding clutter.)

I have massive amounts of photo projects that I plan to work on this year. It seems like almost every frame I have in my house is full of outdated photos. My upstairs hallway/gallery is basically an homage to Spencer. You would never know we had two more children. It makes me feel really bad. So I want to update frames and make things more equal. I also want to get some frames to do the family display on the wall of my basement landing. That wall has been calling out for some love for the past three years. I would like to have some photographs that I have taken developed in large sizes or maybe gallery wrapped onto canvas so that they could be displayed in our home. (Trent actually surprised me by having the same idea - what a good hubby!) I want to get my 2007/2008 blog posts published into a book. This is a HUGE source of stress for me right now because I actually attempted to start this process over Christmas break. The main site that I knew did this is not accepting the Blogger platform right now. In google-ing other sites I found a couple more that would print blog books. The one posted on their site that they have gone out of business and the other keeps giving me error messages when I try to have them download my blog to their site. One of the main reasons I started this blog was because I knew that it could be published to a hard copy book. I don't trust all of my feelings, photos, and words floating around in cyberspace without some sort of backup. I have been burned by computers too many times. So if anyone who is reading this has any ideas...PLEASE, let me know!

One of my resolutions from last year was to try to "live in the moment" more with the kids. This is one that I actually think I did pretty well with. I did a lot of playing and let the chores go by the wayside probably more often than I should have. It is so easy to get caught up in what has to be done and forget about what is really important. This year I have decided that every day I want to make each of my kids laugh (really laugh) and make sure I read them at least one book. (In Spencer's case, he can read to me.) If these two things are happening everyday - I think it will be a good gauge of how much of my time is well spent.

Those are some of my "guidelines"for the new year. The biggest challenge is the balancing act that happens while trying to insert new things into a life already extremely full. I am only seventeen days in and I can already see things sneaking slowly toward the back burner. If only there were more hours in the day!

Hopefully by writing it down here, it makes it a little more concrete and I can make these things happen by staying motivated...at least until February!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Magic letter wands

Evan and I made these for his "party" at school tomorrow. Since their Christmas party was cancelled due to the snow day, they are having sort of a make-up day tomorrow since they had "pajama day" (which is basically a party day anyway) already scheduled.

The letter wands consist of pretzel rods coated with melted semi-sweet chocolate, sprinkled with Alpha Bits cereal and sprinkles. They are pretty tasty little wands. And very simple to make. If you can find the Alpha Bits. (That is another story.)

This next picture is for my own reference to remind me of the benefits of using the correct white balance when shooting a photo. The above and below photos were shot with the exact same settings except for a tweak in the WB. I am realizing that AUTO is not the way to go.

Blog note: One of my resolutions (another blog that is long overdue and worked up in my head but not on "paper") is to do more documentation of the things I make and create. I am not doing this for bragging rights or to act like a pseudo-Martha. I just need somewhere to put these things if I ever need a reminder or an inspired idea. Maybe at some point I will create a seperate blog, but I have more than enough to handle right now.

Next thing you know, he'll have his own route!

While Trent was reading the paper, Spencer walked over and spotted the comics and told Trent that he wanted to read them. (OK - again - when did he get so old?)

Evan came up from the basement angry that Spencer had left him down there alone. He spotted Spencer on the couch with the funnies and said "Scence! What are you doing? You are not a Daddy!"

These kids of mine...they make me laugh everyday!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Our world will never be the same...

...she has learned how to open doors!

Friday, January 9, 2009


Dear Hailey,

This evening at 7:22 you will officially be two years old. I remember Evan's second birthday vividly - mostly because that was the day that we found out that I was pregnant with you. It was one of my best days ever -to be able to celebrate the birth of my one of my sons and know that soon we would be blessed with another child to love.

The fact that it is now your second birthday seems almost surreal to me because I feel like there is no way that you can be that age already. A lot of it is due to the fact that you still seem much younger to me. You still don't have much hair. You still don't talk much. You still seem to cry and whine more than I think you should. If I found out today that I was pregnant again I honestly don't know how joyful the tears would be. You are a handful at two years, where as I think your brother was much more mature and laid back.

Spencer has been very protective of you from the first day you came home.

It is hard to believe that Evan is only about 9 months older than you are now in this picture. Look at his binker!

I do notice the changes in you though sometimes not on a daily basis. Often they will just hit me like a ton of bricks and suddenly I look at you through eyes other than those of your mother's and think to myself how grown up and smart you are. You are starting to verbalize a ton more, and I can't believe how much you understand and comprehend.

You are starting to be a bit of a "girly -girl" which I have to admit makes me happy. I am all for tomboys, but I am sure that phase will come later. You are amazingly good at putting on shoes - yours and anyone else's. You were so excited to see Santa and had a fit until we put on your fancy black shiny shoes. Only the best for the big guy! Gramma brought you some bead necklaces and you love to wear them around and call yourself "pretty". You get very excited when it is time to get dressed in the morning. I haven't let you start to pick out your own clothes yet, but maybe soon. I am sure the fights we will have about "what not to wear" will be some for the record books. Your brothers never cared one bit about clothes or what they wear and still don't. I am curious to see how you feel about that issue.

You are still a bottomless pit when it comes to food. Whatever someone is eating - you want a bite. I swear you have some sort of sixth sense about when the pantry door is open. When it is, you are there digging for something else to eat. Heaven help us when you figure out how to open up doors.

I look at you sometimes and still wonder how you can belong to us. How that dark little baby I gave birth to has grown into this light hair, blue eyed, cherub face girl? You have the ability to charm everyone that you meet. The parent's at Evan's school get the biggest kick out of watching you walk down the hall and are always commenting on your smile and how adorable you are. Just today while celebrating your birthday out for lunch, a man in the restaurant that you had been "flirting" with walked over to tell me how cute you were and how he would not hear anything his wife would be talking to him about because he would be too busy looking at you. Heaven help us when you start to get boy crazy!

I remember a night shortly after you were born. Daddy and Spencer had gone to work at the K of C's fish fry. I was home with you and Evan. Evan had gone to bed like a champ as he always did. You were in a typical newborn fussy time. I remember that nothing I did could soothe you. I had to walk around the house with you in my arms, bouncing and shushing the whole time. I remember I kept thinking to myself that this would not last forever. That you would soon grow out of this phase and that I should just enjoy the time I had with you in my arms while I could. I am sure in the reasonable place in my mind I knew that to be true, but in the recently gave birth, hormonal, overtired mess place in my mind - I was not really believing myself. I kept walking you by the front window, praying that I would see Dad's car coming down the road so that he could take over in the soothing duties for a bit and when it wasn't there I would have to fight back my tears of frustration and sheer exhaustion.

Two years later I know that your fussy phase was temporary and most of the fussy nights, I can not even remember. Today I have your clinginess that I have to talk myself down from. I know that this too will be fleeting and someday I will not even recall why I let it bother me so much. But to have a toddler hanging from my legs and screaming while I try to make a phone call or use the bathroom, on some days it gets to be too much and I can feel the tears of frustration starting to well up. I just have to keep telling myself that this too shall pass. The "terrible two's" will not last forever.

I can see us fourteen years from now when you are getting your driver's license. I can see us sixteen years from now when you are graduating from high school. Twenty something years from now on your wedding day. On those days I know that I will also be fighting back tears. Tears of joy for your amazing accomplishments and triumphs, but inside my heart will be fighting back tears of loss - loss of my baby girl. I know that on those days and so many more to come I will be thinking to myself..."Why couldn't she stay little forever?"
Happy Birthday to my beautiful baby girl! I will love you forever!


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mirabel aka "Baby of Chucky" 's close call...

I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher when I heard Hailey's very upset cries of "Guck! Guck!". In Hailey speak this means that she or some part of her body is stuck somehow or in something. When I walked in to see what the problem was this is what I saw.

Now I know that it looks like her finger is stuck in Mirabel's mouth, but since she pokes her in the mouth fifty times a day I knew that Mirabel's mouth was too big for her finger to get stuck in. Unless of course her finger grew three sizes overnight. Upon further inspection I saw this...

OK, this looks a little freaky, but the residue around the baby's mouth is not blood, but gunk from melting red M & M's. Hailey had M & M's for a treat after her nap and apparently being the sweet little thing that she is, decided to share them with Mirabel. Share or maybe just shove them down her throat. When Hailey pulled her finger out of the mouth and I picked the doll up the red M & M fell out of her mouth, but a green one was stuck way inside. I whacked her on the back of the head a few times trying to dislodge it, but no luck. Uncle Evan decided to give it a try....

No luck for him either. That M & M was really lodged in there. Evan was kind of freaked out about the whole thing. He kept wondering what was all over the dolls face. I don't know if he completely believed me that it was from the candy. He told me at one point "it kinda looks bloody". The whole time Hailey kept on crying. I don't think she was upset about her doll, I think she was mad that Mirabel would not give her back her M & M!

I got a shish kabob skewer from the kitchen and managed to get the M & M dislodged from her mouth. As quick as I removed it from the doll's mouth, Hailey popped it right into hers. We got Mirabel all cleaned up and she is as good as new.

We explained to Hailey that dolls don't eat people food - they eat pretend food. I was wondering how long it would take for the dolls to start getting messed up around here. You know how you see Barbie's with their hair cut off and dolls all covered with marker or pen? I was sure that the boys would do a number on Hailey's stuff - now I think that she may be the one I have to put the watch out on!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Iron Man

After Hailey's nap today she wanted to get out of her crib but she did not want ME to get her out of her crib. She was pointing at Evan and I said to her "Do you want Evan to get you out of your crib?"

Hailey: Yessssss

Mommy: I don't think Evan can get you out Hay, you are too heavy.

Evan: I think I can. I had a lot of pork last night.

I could not stop laughing. He said it so matter of factly. For the record he did not have pork last night, he had steak - he did have a lot of it though - about 22 pieces.

Hailey is totally all about Evan lately. She wants to play whatever he is playing. She copies whatever weird noise or goofy thing he says. She sits next to him to watch TV (which is unheard of for her). She looks for him when he is not around. The other day while he was taking a nap she snuck in and started to "read" to him. Evan does not like us to shut his door when he sleeps anymore. He wants it open "just a tiny crack". The crack makes it hard to keep a determined little sister away from a sleeping brother. They sure are cute though!