Monday, October 31, 2011

An awesome October!

Fall parties - Check, check, check
Chili Cook Off - Check
Charlie Brown The Great Pumpkin - Check
Hayride - Check
Bonfires and s'mores - Check, check, check
Trip to Pumpkin patch with grandparents - Check
Pumpkins - Check 
Carve pumpkin - Check
Roast pumpkin seeds - Check
Make Pumpkin bars - Check
Chilly Soccer Games
Trip to Apple Orchard - Not this year :(
Baked Apple Desert - Check
Girls "Coffee" date - Check
Trunk and Treating at church - Check
One Monkey and One Princess Trick or Treating - Check
Fall party, bonfire, s'mores, farm animals and a movie all in one night! 

Pony Ride at the Pumpkin Patch

A vist from Willie

Loyal fans

Worn out!

Fall has been awesome!  And now it's time for the Holidays.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Pantry Pail

I decided to clean out my pantry today.  The was an article in a magazine I saw with tips on how to organize your pantry.  So I dug in and started.  As I was looking for something to put all the little snacks and treats in, I found an empty beach pail in a closet and put that in the pantry and filled it with the snacks.  I looked at the magazine article and saw all cute matching little containers.  I laughed and told Charlie that my big money savings for the day was to be resourceful.  I can't wait to see a magazine article suggest that one - complete with the attached shovel.

... and I'll pay...

I watched my little girl grow up a little bit more today.  I wondered awhile ago how to teach Laci about money. It's interesting because we really haven't taught her anything.  But she is definitely picking things up about it.  We play store a lot and she scans things and pretends to pay and things and talks about credit cards.  She is still asking to buy things a lot at the store and we try not to buy things for her for no reason.  And I try to explain that things are expensive or inexpensive.  It's cute when she asked what "on sale" means because I always talk about things being "on sale".  I don't know what she really knows or doesn't know but I hope she is at least picking up our values as she is watching us shop. 

Her grandma gave her a gift card for McDonald's and some cards for free cones.  I wanted to do something special with her today so I told her we could go to McDonald's and get a cone with the card.  A little while later, we were getting ready to go to the store and she said "And we can go to McDonald's for our treat...  and I'll pay."  It was so cute.  I had flashes of the future when she gets her first job and can spend her own money.  When we were at McDonald's, she waited in line, handed over her ice cream card and asked for her ice cream.  I saw the sweetest little girl make her own first purchase all by herself.  It was so cute and sweet.  I was very proud.  Somedays I just can't believe she is as grown up as she is.  I don't know if I have to formally teach Laci about money but she is learning and hopefully we are teaching her by good examples. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Next Michael Phelps?

No, probably not.  But swimming went great tonight!  I could tell Laci was excited when she wore the goggles all the way to swimming - in the car and walking in.  I still wasn't sure she would go in the pool okay but I worried for nothing.  She went and stood by the pool waiting for her class.  There were only two girls there so they had plenty of water time.  She got right in and did everything she was supposed to.  I was proud of her and I loved seeing how excited she was for the whole thing.  I hope it continues. 

Ready to swim

Even Calvin had fun.

The swimming lessons are at the high school so after the class, we walked around the lobby a little bit.  The Tiger was a big hit.

Starting anew...

We are starting a new activity tonight - Swimming lessons.  Well, it's not entirely new.  Laci took swimming lessons for a few weeks last winter.  She usually did well once she got there but struggled getting in the water.  She clung to my leg.  

In the winter, Calvin was easy to contain in his infant seat.  Occasionally, another mother offered to sit with him while I lowered Laci into the water.  (Love that Mommy Club!)  Now, I have to contain him and entertain him for 30 minutes at the pool.  I hope the bleachers will be fun enough.  His favorite toy, a ball, may not be the best choice of toys for a pool unless I plan to spend the whole half hour diving in after a ball.  Laci's gymnastics studio was close enough to daycare and early enough that I left Calvin at school and picked him up afterwards.  It was much easier than chasing him for 45 minutes.  Plus, it gave me a chance to focus on Laci and I enjoyed the quiet time to read a book.  

We are taking a break from gymnastics for awhile and Laci asked to try swimming lessons again.  At this point, I want her to try a little bit of everything and not get too focused on one activity.  When I called her gymnastics instructor to tell him that we were taking a break, he made me feel guilty.  I wanted to say "She is 4 and she is not Mary Lou Retten!"  I felt like I was breaking up with gymnastics.  But I was so sucked into the gymnastics that she had been taking lessons non-stop for 6 months.  She loves gymnastics so I know we will be back.  

I always get a little nervous before new activities - will we get there in time?  Will I have time to get the kids dinner and to the pool in time?  Will I remember the towel?  Will Laci get in the water without the drama and tears before hand?  Will Laci have fun?  I hope that because she asked for the swimming lessons that she will be a little more receptive to them.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Where is King Solomon when you need him?

I am struggling with the right thing to do is.  I think I know what I am going to do but it just doesn't feel right. 

Let me back up.  Laci got a doll from her grandma for Christmas last year.  She likes this doll but isn't super attached to it.  Occassionally she brings it to school.  We understand that with bringing toys to school, there is a risk of losing it.  A few weeks ago, a teacher from the school called me and said that her daughter lost her doll recently.  They looked everywhere for it and the last place they saw it was church (the daycare).  After seeing Laci's doll, she is convinced that Laci somehow ended up with her daughter's doll.  I explained that Laci had received that doll for Christmas.  I told her I would look out for a second doll at home in case Laci somehow picked up a doll at school and accidently brought it home.  I thought that was the end of it.

The teacher called me today.  She is convinced that the doll is her daughter's doll.  She explained again how attached her daughter was to her doll.  She offered to pay me for the doll so we could buy Laci a new one.  I have several issues with this.  One, why doesn't she buy her own daughter a new doll.  Maybe this could somehow be a lesson to her daughter about losing things and replacing them.  She also said that she isn't upset that Laci has the doll.  I was a bit offended by this in that I am sure it is Laci's doll.  This lady was practically in tears on the phone over the doll.  I will probably take her up on her offer.  Laci isn't very attached to it and it is a simple solution.  But it just doesn't feel right to me.  I feel like we are admitting guilt.  If it isn't Laci's doll, where is her doll?

Now I need to figure out how to "make the switch" with a new doll or explain to Laci why we have to give away her doll and get a new one.  I need to figure out a way to tell the teacher that we will give her the doll but that we are confident that the doll is Laci's.  Charlie doesn't want to hurt his mom's feelings by giving away the doll she gave her.  We have searched the house looking for the "missing" doll and didn't find anything.  Charlie spent time this afternoon looking at old pictures of Laci with the doll and matching up marks on the doll trying to prove it is Laci's doll. 

Sometimes it is hard to know what the right thing to do is.  I feel like this is the right thing to do.  At least it is the easiest solution with the least amount of conflict.  But it just doesn't feel right.

Last year, Laci's favorite story in her children's bible was King Solomon and the two mothers fighting over the baby.  She always asked to read the "fighting baby" story.  Tonight, Charlie joked that the solution is to clearly cut the doll in two.  I wonder what King Solomon's wisdom would be in this situation?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

4 year old challenges - Practice makes perfect!

Sometimes I think we forget about the little things we do that are big for a 4 year old.  I showed Laci a pocketwatch I have.  She just spent 20 minutes learning how to open it.  But she succeeded!  Another example for her as to how if she practices and keeps at it, she will succeed. 

Snapping was another practice and succeed story.

The Professor

This is more about my little man.  After I wrote that, I realized the only way I described my little guy was sweet.  He's so much more than that!  He's growing up and making the next leap from baby to little boy.
For one, he is the most serious, focused little baby ever.  He is starting to smile and laugh more but for the longest time, he just had a very serious look on his face all the time.  But he is still very focused and because he is so focused, he gets frustrated so easily.  One of his favorite things to play with are his blocks.  He has a couple of sets of those big Legos.  He gets frustrated and throws his head and entire body backwards if the blocks don't connect just like they should.  He is still working on fine motor skills.  :)  His new favorite thing to play with are balls.  "Ball" is his official first word.  He loves throwing the ball and constantly throws a ball and then walks over to pick it up and do it again.  

He is starting to like books.  When Laci was a baby we read books all the time.  Poor second child Calvin doesn't get the one on one book reading time that she got.  But he will sit look through a book now.  His teacher calls him The Professor when he is "reading" because he is very serious when he does it.  She tells all the other babies to leave him alone.  At the kids Fall Party, she was working the craft table.  When Laci came up to color her leaves wreath, Miss Alice couldn't believe how much time Laci was taking to color it. Most kids came up, scribbled a bit and moved on.  Laci had intense focus on her coloring.  Miss Alice now sees where Calvin gets the focus.  

Another thing that Calvin has recently starting doing is sitting in chairs.  I think it makes him feel like a "Big Boy", especially when he is sitting in a big chair or couch.  He got a child's rocking chair for his birthday and of all the little chairs, he always sits in his rocking chair.  He has also started taking direction really well now.  It's really nice to be able to say "Calvin, we're going outside now" and have him walk to the door.  Or say "Calvin bring me that block" and he will.  

My favorite new development in Calvin and where all the sweetness comes in is how cuddly Calvin is.  Laci was not very cuddly at that age.  Maybe it is a boy/girl thing.  Calvin will just walk over and sit on my lap.  I love it.  He also has started loving stuffed animals.  Laci adores stuffed animals and has several with her at all times.  Calvin is now walking around with stuffed animals too.  They both love Beanie Babies.  Calvin really loves stuffed animals that sing or make music when you squeeze them.  
Right now, sweet Calvin is working on some molars and he is really struggling with it.  He cried, fussed and screamed for awhile tonight.  I felt so bad for him.  He kept throwing himself back on the ground and had a few close calls with furniture.  I can't wait until they poke through and my sweet little guy comes back.  

Playing with his ball machine

The Professor reading on the couch

He loves his rocking chair.  I think he can read his own name on it.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I am definitely loving Laci's vocabulary and watching it increase.  It seems every week there is a "word of the week".  One big word that she uses all the time.  This week it was "definitely".  As in "I definitely am older than Calvin."  "That definitely was a great party."  "I am definitely tired, hungry, etc."  Last week, the word of the week was "positive".  As in "Are you positive that it is time for bed?"  "I'm positive that ..."  It's pretty funny to see her try out new words and their meanings.
Her imagination is definitely hilarious too.  Last night, after her bath she put on Charlie's blue t-shirt.  Apparently, it looked like a choir robe to her.  Suddenly, she was directing the choir and announced that she is the music teacher.  A few minutes later, she pulled the t-shirt down so one arm was out of it, like a toga.  She announced that she was a cave man.  We let her sleep in the giant t-shirt as a night shirt that night.

Music Teacher Laci

I tried to get a good picture but she was too fast and the room was too dark.  Hopefully you get the jist.  :)

Cave Man Laci

Are the walls imporant?

Recently, I was blessed to attend another church service.  This is not a type of church I typically feel comfortable worshiping at.  This is not the type of music I typically feel comfortable worshiping with.  But I remember sitting there feeling the exact same way I feel at my own church every Sunday.  I felt the Holy Spirit there.  I remember thinking that God doesn't care what type of church and what type of worship music you are singing.  God is bigger than that.  It reinforced what I have always thought - there is a place and a church for everyone.  The sermon topic that week was something along the lines of "beyond the walls" and I remember thinking that God can really work "through the walls" - the walls of the church aren't important, inside or out.

But this week has really made me rethink that thought.  I don't know what I think now.  Our church is in transition and people are struggling.  I am struggling with their struggle.  I am fortunate that I have never "church shopped".  I found the church I am in now and have been there for 11 years.  It is my home.  But things have changed there.  My feelings have not.  People are struggling with the changes.  I understand that.  Change is hard.  They may be asking how to "stick it out" and when the right time to leave is.  I don't understand that.  That is my struggle.  To me, church is bigger than the pastor.  Maybe I am just lazy and don't want to "start over".  But also, Sunday worship is not about the sermon to me.  I don't go there for a "message".  I go for that hour to worship, sing, pray, feel the Holy Spirit and listen to God.  I also enjoy the quiet child free hour knowing the kids are safe in Sunday School.  I agree with others that worship occurs anywhere and often my biggest moments of feeling the Holy Spirit are outside of church.  But I also know that the messages are very important to many people and they need that challenge and that learning through the message.

However, last week, something changed.  But the service was nothing special and I listened and left like I always do.  But three days later it hit me.  His message hit me three days later.  It is still resonating in me.  Maybe more to come on that later.  Maybe his preaching style and his messages are for me. 

My struggle isn't whether my church is right for me.  It is.  My struggle is how pray for those who are struggling with this transition and these decisions.  As I thought about what I wanted to write on this topic, I tried to think about what my point is.  I don't know if I have a conclusion.  I don't know what the answer to the question is - is it the church building?  Is it the people?  Is it the people?  Is it more?  There is a right place for everything and that is why there are so many churches and buildings.  God is bigger than all of this.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Little Man

It's hard to believe that someday Calvin will grow up to be a man.  He's so sweet, innocent, little.  One of our nicknames for him has always been "Little Guy".  We joke that someday he will be 6' 4" like his daddy and we will still be calling him "Little Guy".  But how do I raise a man?  I think about characteristics of men - strong, not "sensitive", they don't show emotion, rugged, etc.  I see my little baby boy and I don't see a man.  I see a little boy.  When does the change between little boy and man happen?  How do I raise a little boy to be a MAN.  

I have always tried to be the woman that I want my daughter to be.  That has been my standard when I make decisions.  I didn't make a lot of the mistakes that many teenagers and young adults do because I always had to answer to my future children, more specifically my future daughter.  Maybe I should have been more wild and done some more running around but I didn't.  I wanted to set the example before she was born.  I want her to be independent and strong willed.  I want her to be her own person.  These are the characteristics I try to have so I can teach her by example.  Now Laci is here and I have a face to the dream that I had so long ago.  

But I never thought about a son.  I never envisioned myself raising a boy.  I really never thought about it either way.  But I am clearly not a man nor do I know what a man thinks and feels.  If I did, that would make marriage easier!  I remember being 11 or so and being caught between childhood and a teenager.  But only from the girls perspective.  How is it different as a little boy / man?  I realize I am talking about stereotypes but right or wrong, stereotypes are real.  It seems silly that I am thinking this because I have always tried to buck the gender stereotypes but the older I get, the more I learn that it's more important to embrace them, figure out which ones are right and wrong and learn from them.  How do little boys make that change from little boy to teenager to man?  It makes me think about the man I want him to be, not just the little boy he is now. 

I know I am not raising him alone and I know Calvin has a dad who is a great man that will help him and be with him through these years.  But it is strange to know that someday, my sweet little baby boy will be a man. 

Saturday, October 8, 2011

My inspiration...

My brother is suddenly my inspiration.  I realized this recently.  I also see the irony in this.  For years, he didn't seem to have the drive that I thought he should have.  He seemed upset.  He seemed scared to take a risk.  But in the last few years, I realized that he is now the hardest worker, most dedicated person I know.  He set goals and he achieves them.  Recently, he has become a health and fitness finantic.  It has become his passion.  He has always been a runner.  He has always been fast.  But he has taken it up a few notches.  Two years ago, he set a goal to complete a 5k in 18 minutes.  He succeeded.  This year, he set his sights on long distance.  In May, he ran his first half marathon in 1 hr 25 minutes!  He was seeded in the top, elite bracket.  I was so proud of him.  Tomorrow he is running the Chicago marathon.  I am upset that I can't cheer him on in person and watch him cross the finish line, but I will be with him in spirit and following along online.  He has altered his diet and eats health food.  He has will power.  The other day he told me that he hasn't had a french fry since July!  I am not sure I can make it two weeks without a french fry.  :)  The only other person I know that has that much will power is Charlie.  My brother has followed a training program religiously, especially through a hot summer.  18 mile runs.  20 mile runs.  8 mile short runs.  It makes my 4 miles during my lunch hour look easy.  He loves his fitness clothes and dresses like a professional.  He has a closet full of fancy running gear.  He has become "my coach" who I go to for advice. 
After the run, he is taking the train to our brother's house for a well deserved vacation and hopefully plenty of junk food.  Taking the train is something he has always wanted to do and I am so proud of him that he is just doing it. 
His plan next year is to do fun runs - trail runs, donut runs.  He may even do the stair climb I do every year.  I can't wait to see how he does tomorrow.  But no matter what, I will be very proud of him and inspired by him.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Taco Bell Fridays

If you know Charlie and my story, you know about O'Charley's.  O'Charley's is the restaurant we met at.  It was part of our church's singles group and was dinner at O'Charley's every Thursday night.  It was a pretty informal gathering and the numbers ranged from 4 to a high of 8 people.  Towards the end it was only 4 people with Charlie and I being two of them.  We continued having dinner at O'Charley's even after we were married.  Then Laci came along.  After 8 years, Thursday Night O'Charley's came to an end when it was too difficult to contain a toddler at a sit down restaurant.  But we suddenly realized that Laci behaved great at Taco Bell.  And Taco Bell Friday was born.  Every Friday night we have dinner at Taco Bell.  We always go to the same one.  Calvin seems to enjoy with Taco Bell Fridays too.  After dinner, sometimes we go for a drive or to the mall or the park.  Sometimes I get a little tired of Taco Bell.  But I still look forward to Taco Bell Friday.  Mainly because I don't have to make dinner!     

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I'm crying because...

We all know the saying "Pick your battles".  But what happens when we pick the wrong battles to fight.  This happened last night.  By the time Charlie realized that he had picked the wrong battle, he was too far into it and had to finish it.  Nothing was gained.  No lesson was learned.  But we had to endure 30 minutes of crying and screaming.  It was clear to me early on that the crying and screaming was a tired tantrum and once she got wound up with the screaming, she physically couldn't stop.  I finally got her calmed down after about 30 minutes.  The main battle started because Charlie turned the hall light off.  But as she was calming down, in between gulps and cries, she had the funniest comments.  Such as...

I'm crying because I forgot to brush my teeth.  
      My response "Okay, good stall tactic but after you brush your teeth, the lights go back off."
I'm crying because my arm hurts.  
      My response "Okay, I don't remember you hitting your arm but I will kiss it."
I'm crying because my foot hurts.  
      My response "Oops, I just ran over your foot with the rocking chair.  Sorry about that."
I'm crying because Daddy hurt my feelings.  
      My response "Daddy loves you."  
I'm crying because I need water.  
     My response "Here is a sip of water."
I'm crying because Daddy won't leave my room.  
     My response "He will leave when you are ready to go to sleep."

And my favorite...
I'm crying because I need chocolate.  
     My response "No you don't."  But deep inside I was thinking, yeah, chocolate sounds good and it always helps.  :)