Tuesday, March 30, 2010

I love my job

I do. I love my job. Many people do not see it as a "job," and tend to devalue it. I don't see it as a "job" like a chore; I see it as my career choice. I am all for women having the right to do whatever they want to do with their lives. If they want to direct movies or run corporations or become an astronaut or even run for President, more power to 'em! I love it that I live in a time and a country that women can do or be anything that they are called to do.

That being said, my job, my career choice, my calling, is being a mother. I had a great example of the kind of Mom I wanted to be growing up with my Momma. She stayed at home with Lucas and me. She was involved in everything we did. She took cookies out of the oven many days as we were walking in the door. We grew up knowing that Mom was there to support us in any way. Daddy was always there for us, too. And we had no doubt that we were a priority to him, too. But it was Momma's job.

And now, I am so blessed to say that it is my job. I love it. I do. And believe me, I KNOW how lucky I am to be able to stay home with my babies. I know that there are tons of families who do not have this luxury. And I tell the kids all the time that we are blessed and lucky and we should never take it for granted. I can never thank David enough for allowing me the honor and privilege to be a SAHM! There are many days that are frustrating and challenging, but that is true of any job, you know? I love being in the trenches and figuring out a new plan of action. I am fulfilled and happy, and I have purpose.

Jessa has started to "get it." She says to me, "Being a mom is being a lot of jobs, right Momma? Sometimes you are a nurse when we are sick or when we have a boo-boo. Sometimes you are a cook when you make our supper." It excites me for her to realize this. Now, five minutes after saying this to me, she is back to being her selfish, demanding self, but she has moments of clarity. She has brief glimpses of what all I do. And in those moments, she does not take it for granted. When she lists what she wants to be when she grows up, Mom is always in there. (It goes like this: Mom, paleontologist, fashion designer, vet, and more recently, a soccer player.) She also quite firmly believes that Mommas should stay home because "they usually bake better than Daddys do." I like the way she thinks. Baked Goods should always be a priority, wouldn't you agree?

Last weekend, we were busy and on the go all weekend. We got up and went shopping for birthday presents for birthday parties. And then we had lunch at Chick-Fil-A - a huge bribe to keep them happy as I dragged them on the many errands we had to run. We were in and out of stores, in and out of the car, and in and out of the house all day long. It was nuts. It ended with a bowling alley birthday party before we ran to Wal-Mart and to get something for supper. Whew!
And there were moments that the kids were close to killing each other in the back, and my head was pounding. There were also moments that they were sweet and precious and having wonderful chats. Sometimes Jessa was singing along to Radio Disney; Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber cause Beatles-like screams. And I was sitting at a red light in my "Mom Van" littered with coats and gloves and popcorn and empty water bottles and crayons and shopping bags and papers and who knows what else and of course, my two babies in their booster seats in the back. I looked around at the other moms in their mini-vans and SUVs sitting at the stoplight. It was a small break for all of us Moms, in between feeding them and birthday parties and baseball practice and grocery shopping and all the other things that we were doing with our babies that day. I saw all of my fellow moms and my heart swelled. I looked at this elite sorority of women, of mothers, and it hit me. This is everything I have ever wanted. My babies and me, going about the business of me being a mom and them just being kids.

Is every moment warm and fuzzy and wonderful? Uh, no. Are we a Norman Rockwell painting? Most definitely not. But is this everything I ever wanted? Yes! I am in my element. I am so fulfilled and SO happy. Do I get the laundry washed in a timely fashion? Not usually. But do we ever run out of clean underwear? Not so far. Do I get a healthy, well-balanced meal on the table every night? Not quite. But do we ever go hungry? Thankfully, no. Sometimes I do not even take a bath until I am headed to bed. Sometimes the groceries (all but the cold)sit in the bags overnight until I have a chance to properly unload them. But EVERY DAY, I love my kids. I listen to them. I laugh with them. I snuggle with them while we watch Spongebob or Phineas and Ferb. We eat Hershey Pie. We share stories from our day. We tell knock-knock jokes. I deliver them to practices or play dates or the dentist or parties. I read them stories and listen to Jessa read to me. I can volunteer for the PTO or be the class Mom at preschool. I get excited when I see Spencer's face light up and come running toward me in the pick-up line at school or when I see my big girl running across the street full of chatter about her day. I don't have to miss anything. I get to makes the lunches and the after-school snacks. I get to hold them when they have a bad dream or get their feelings hurt. And I would not trade any of these moments that pass so quickly for a perfect house or a rigid schedule.

I will close with a poem that it is on my counter so I can see over and over every day. It reminds me of what it most important. (I have posted it before.)
My Momma sent it to me years ago.
And I think it keeps me focused on my job, my career, my calling:
Oh, and I have the coolest little bosses ever!
They pay me in kisses and hugs!

Monday, March 29, 2010

PROUDEST MOMMA

So last week's first soccer practice did not go so well for Spencer. Remember?
Well after that, we had games on Saturday. It was more of the same. Spencer clung to my leg in fear, while Jessa was thrilled to be dribbling the ball in a GAME and even scored a GOAL!

I was not terribly optimistic about Spencer. His attitude did not seem to have changed. He was still in a very anti-soccer stance. I had talked to him a lot, and he did not seem to want to give it a shot. I was not going to push him, but I also was going to make him go to the practices and at least watch. Jessa had a little talk with him, though. And she promised him that she would give him a medal IF he gave it a try.
Jessa wearing said medal.
We drove to practice. We got out of the car and were headed to the field. Jessa and Spencer were dribbling their balls and racing. We got closer and closer. He was still jogging along with Jessa. We got to the practice field. He kept going. Jess and I stopped at the sidelines with all the other families. He kept going. We held our breaths. He turned around and realized that we were no longer with him. I was sure that he would turn and run toward us. He did not. He turned back around and kept going.
When he got to the group of players, he looked back at us. The coach asked everyone to sit down. And Spencer, well friends, he did. He sat right down in the middle of all the other little boys. And that was that.

He played the whole practice. He ran when they said run. He kicked when they said kick. He stopped when they said stop. I am fairly sure he had absolutely no idea what was going on. But the coaches were patient and turned him around to face the right way when he got confused. They even high fived him a few times. I was elated!
My stomach was in knots. I was nervous and excited! He is my sweet, tender hearted boy. I wanted it to go well. I wanted him to enjoy it. I wanted him to be as proud of himself as I was. Jessa cheered for him - LOUDLY. And one time, from the field, he turned to see where we were and hollered "Hey, Jess!" and waved at her. They both beamed. I WAS SO PROUD!


My boy - so proud of himself wearing the MEDAL!

Then it was Jessa's turn.
She cracks me up. She is so ready to go!
She was the first girl on the field.
The coach said "Put your foot on the ball." The hands on the hips - ALL Jessa!
She laughed, she smiled, she ran, she cheered - she had a BALL! Oh, and she did "twist her knee," at some point. She dragged her right leg around and limped while running for a while during the scrimmage. We were pretty convinced it was nothing serious, although she was quite dramatic. BUT once she scored her first goal, the limp disappeared. Funny how the excitement can heal the pain!
What a night!
I am the proudest Momma ever of BOTH my little soccer players!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Furry Friday-March 26

Max. Well, I have mentioned before that he is not the most energetic of dog. He pretty much exists to eat and sleep. He loves to just be. And we are OK with that. Lord only knows what his life was like before I saw his sweet eyes that fateful day at the vet's office. So we are perfectly happy to let Max just be Max.

This means that he likes to sleep in. Like late. Really late. Seriously, we have to make him get up every day. Just so you get the idea, I take Spencer to school at 8:40. I come in and out and then I get home from picking him up at about noon. Between noon and one, I go upstairs to find my sweet Max still SOUND asleep. I have to wake him slowly because he is usually deeply asleep. I then carry the sweet man down the stairs and outside to the patio to do his business. I mean, he has been asleep since about ten the night before. Yep. He has a bladder of steel if it means he can sleep longer!

So this Friday, I went to wake him up at 12:42 - PM.

I carried him out to a bright sunshiny day.
And he proceeded to do his business
and then. . .

Well, take a long rest in the sun.

I mean he did get up before 1!

What more do you people want from him?

Sleeping and being carried takes a lot out of a boy.

Whew!

He deserves a rest, don't you think?

Monday, March 22, 2010

A new title

Soccer mom.
Yep. I have been driving one of the official soccer mom vehicles for years. I guess it was only a matter of time before I actually became one.

So there's Jessa. She always wants to be involved in everything. And she brings home handouts from school all the time. Play Soccer! Play Softball! Give Hockey a shot? Is football for you? Or maybe Tee-ball? Try gymnastics! What about Martial Arts? Want to learn to knit? OK, I may be exaggerating with the last one, but every week more handouts come home.
And she wants to Do. It. All.

I do not want every moment of her life to be planned with an activity, so I always try to not let her get carried away. But it is her nature, her personality, who she is. She is a social butterfly. A joiner. Up for anything. And athletic. And thankfully way more coordinated than her dear old mother.

My sweet boy is more shy and standoffish. He lets Jessa do his talking for him. He lets Jessa make his decisions for him. He is not ever the first to try anything and sometimes, he never gets up his nerve to try it at all. He is more quiet and content to stay in the background.

So, when a handout came home for a "Backyard Soccer" program that only lasted 6 weeks, I was intrigued. And BOTH kids were interested. Yes, you read that right, for the first time my Spencer wanted to try something. I jumped on it! Of course, the fact that it was only 6 weeks helped matters. I am firmly in the "once you start it, you CANNOT quit." So if either one of them was not thrilled, hey, it is only 6 weeks, right?
We were off to a great start. They were both pumped. We went shopping for shoes. Oh, and special socks. Oh yeah, and shin guards. Oh and don't forget a practice ball, each. And some Big League Chew. (The last one was not required, but it was a fun addition!)

I labeled all their new gear. I packed their little backpacks. I froze water bottles so it would stay cold. I helped them pick out outfits. Jessa could not sleep the night before because she was SO PUMPED. She said to me several times, "I am so happy to be part of a team." Oh, and her Frosted Flakes intake has increased. Those "We are Tiger" commercials really get to her. She wants to be properly fueled so she does not let her team down.

So the day finally arrives. We need to leave at 5 PM to make it to practice. My children started getting dressed at 3:45. Yes, they were excited. I agreed to let them get ready early IF they promised to pose for some pictures. We both win!

So here they are getting all ready to go.

They were ready so early, that my precious babies even took some time to make signs to root for each other!
We get to the field. We turn in all the last minute paperwork. And we head over for Spencer's practice, which is first. We walk all the way out to the middle of the field where all the boys were gathered. The coach told him to have a seat. Jessa and I turned to go sit with the other families. But I couldn't walk. I looked down, and there clinging to my leg for dear life is my son. He has changed his mind. In a big way. He does not want to play soccer AT ALL. So the kind Coach tells me I can stay with him. This does not help. He is done. Finished. Nope. No soccer for him. So I walk my sweet boy and my anxious girl over to the sidelines. I try the entire practice to talk him into just trying it. Just for a minute. For me? Please!
No. He only wants to play with Jessa. Alone. Without all these people watching him. I tried to explain that when you are on a team, there have to be other people there, you know, your team mates? And that the other grown-ups could care less about him. All the Mommies and Daddies were watching their kid. All of this did not help him, at all. So he spent the entire hour of his practice like this.
His shins are protected AND aren't his cleats precious?
Both important to watch soccer, don't you think?
Then it was time for the girls to practice. Yahoo! Jessa is ready to go. She runs out to join the group. She listens. She watches. She dribbles. She runs. She shoots. She has the most fun EVER. Look out Mia Hamm!


On the way home, she went on and on about how much she loved it. She wants to play forever.

Jessa: Mommy, can I play soccer even when I am old? Like your age? Or even May's age?
Me: Yes, Jessa, as long as you are enjoying it, you can play.
Jessa: Hey, Momma? Can I ask Jesus if I can even play soccer in Heaven, too?
Me: I am sure that Jesus would love for you to play soccer in Heaven.
So to sum up:
Jessa LOVES soccer.
Spencer,
Well,
Not

So
Much
Think David Beckham ever tried this fancy move?

And the Oscar goes to. . .

I am so enjoying this new daughter I have, you know, the one who reads. I know that it is not a huge thing because most everyone learns to read. I know that tons of children learned to read when they were younger than Jessa. I am sure that there are tons of kids who can read with more fluency than Jessa. I know that she is not inventing the wheel here. But you see, she is MINE. My first baby to go to school. My first baby to be able to crawl up in my lap with a book and read it to me. It just blows my mind. This big girl who is so long these days that her legs barely fit into my lap anymore started out as my sweet, tiny baby only, well, yesterday. How did it happen so fast? I mean, she was a baby, and now she is reading her baby book to me. My head hurts. My heart hurts.

So the reading thing is still so incredible to me. But lately, she has been cracking me up. See, her teacher, you know, the smartest most wonderful Queen of everything? You should never ever question Jessa's teacher, OK? Got it? Well, her teacher is helping them figure out punctuation and how to read with feeling, or expression, as Jessa calls it. And y'all, she is so funny! When she sees an exclamation point, she hollers that last word to make sure she gives that punctuation appropriate attention. Oh, and the way she makes her voice go up at the end of sentence with a question mark is priceless. Intonation is important - even when you are reading Dr. Seuss or The Grumpy Easter Bunny.


Oh and there is the "effect" thing. She does things all the time now for effect. Like in the middle of a book, she will make random gestures to make her point, and she explains that she did it, you know, for effect. Oh and she always points out that she is reading with "expression." In case you do not notice that she is using expression, she will tell you, darn it. She is so focused on all these newly learned reading rules that listening to her read a story is just, oh so much fun! And she has started wanting to read things twice. Like the first time is a dress rehearsal, and the second time, she is on it! The punctuation, the expression, the effect. She is ready for her close-up.

If there was an Oscar for best expression, effect, and use of punctuation in a Kindergarten reader, she would be a SHOE IN.


I also must share with you one last small note on these newly expanded abilities. She is an expert and darn big for her britches.

Apparently, the Kindergartners are having some trouble with punctuation. According to her teacher, you know, the smartest woman alive, they were saying the punctuation when they were reading. So Mrs. K has been really drilling it home that punctuation is not to be read aloud. You see the period, you pause. You see the exclamation point, you shout the last word and pause. You see a question mark, your voice gets really high. Get it?

Well, Jessa sure did.
The other day I had just about had it. My sweet babies were at each other's throats and tattling on each other and basically driving me absolutely nuts. I was in the kitchen trying to get something done. I had been fussing at them here and there, hoping to avoid really getting upset. I finally realized that being really upset was unavoidable. So I stormed into the den where they were on the verge of a knock down drag out fight.

OK. Mommy time. I raised my voice and recounted all of their transgressions. I told them they needed to get along. I said I was frustrated. They were driving me crazy. We are a family, dang it! We love each other! And that I did not want to have to come in there again. You know, the usual Mommy speech with lots of gestures for effect and oh so much expression, let me tell you. I ended my performance with, "I have had it! Y'all need to get along and stop fighting. PERIOD. I MEAN IT!"


I was pretty pleased with my little lecture. And it looked like it worked. They were quiet and appeared to be listening. And at that moment, they were not pulling each other's hair out . I was about to turn to exit the den, triumphantly. Then my sweet Jessa raised her hand, alerting me that she had something to say. Would it be an apology? Had my words moved her to see where she went wrong? I was so prepared to listen to the wise tidbit that my daughter was about to share with me. I was sure that she was about to admit the error of her ways and of course, praise me for all the great points I made that led her to this self-analysis. She loves me and she loves her brother and I am the best. Wow, I am a great mom, and she is about to prove it.

And then she said it.

Jessa: Um, Mommy?
Me: Yes, my Jessa.
Jessa: Yeah, Mrs. K says that you are not supposed to actually say the word period.
Just pause and keep going, OK.
*PAUSE*
Me: I realize that, honey, but sometimes grown-ups need to say the word.
You know, for effect.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Furry Friday - March 19

My Dunken.
Dunken has been our baby since we were first married. He was born a week before our marriage. He has been with us everywhere we have been. He has been all over Europe.
I have posted before that he gets up early with me every morning and "helps" me get the kids off to school. And he usually rides with me to take and pick up Spencer at his school.

Lately, though, he has become much more determied to go with me everywhere I go. I can tell you this because he tries to get in the car all the time. Several times a day. He is always trying to sneak into the garage. (And yes, much to David's dismay, the kids' van doors are almost always open.) I will realize I have not seen him in a while, and I will go looking for him. He is ALWAYS in the car. Bless him.

He wants to go with me everywhere. He has to sit in the car while I run errands, but he does not seem to mind. He just wants to go. I think he thinks I need him. I guess I do!
And he is not taking any chances that I might leave without him.
He is my right hand man.
I use a clothes basket to take supplies to Awana each week - he does love laundry baskets. . .
My buddy.

My helper.
He is so precious!

He takes such good care of us!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hamster Church

Whenever May comes to see the kids, she brings them "surprises." OK, she also mails them "surprises," she has "surprises" when we get to her house, she is a "surprise" fool. They are pretty much spoiled rotten! But it is a grandmother's prerogative, right?

Well, this trip, she brought my little darlings each a Zhu Zhu pet. We have had "hamsterns" before, but not like these. These babies have minds of their own. Oh, and they make noises. Lots of noises. And they are unpredictable. You never know what might come out of their little mouths and when. Sort of like kids, I guess. But with kids, I like to think I have some influence. But not with these new pets. Oh, no! And if the dogs bark, I can yell "hush!" And 5 times out of 10, they listen. You know? But if you tell these new little guys "hush," they NEVER listen.

They came with names, like the toy company names them. But of course, those names are never sufficient. My children always have to rename them. And those names change many times. Spencer finally settled on "Henry" for his. And that darn Henry kept wanting to stay at Bay's house. Several times, he got left over there. I had to do some fast talkin' to keep us from having to head over to Bay's house in our jommies to retrieve said Hamster.

Well, last Sunday, Henry and Spencer were in the same place because Jess and Spence spent the night with May and Bay and of course, Henry. So it was time to head to church, and of course, Henry wanted to go.

OK, you know how I said those darn Zhu Zhus cannot control themselves. Well, that is not totally true. There is some hidden magic button that can make them quiet. (The kids and dogs DO not have one of those. . .) Only I don't know where the button is. May found it and has been our appointed official Zhu Zhu whisperer. So Spencer brings a sleeping Henry into church. He has not been stimulated or "woken up" lately. Everything is fine. Spencer placed Henry in my purse to rest during the service.

Per the routine, the choir sang. Then it was time for the Children's Sermon. All the kids ran up to sit at the front and potentially embarrass their parents on the big screen using a microphone. After the sermonette is over, they all run out of the sanctuary to head downstairs for Children's Church. After I make sure they went to the right place, I always settle into my pew just in time for the sermon. You know, the sermon? Where the preacher inspires us with stories and scriptures? Where everyone in the sanctuary is very quiet, hanging on every word?

Yeah, well, as I was sitting there, I needed some chap stick. So I slowly and quietly reached down to grab my purse. When I reached in, I somehow woke up that darn Henry. And I panicked! People were starting to sort of look over their shoulders to see what the noise was. So I tossed him to May. Well, then he was even LOUDER because he was out int he open and not muffled by my purse. She is trying to work her hamster whisperer magic, but of course, the stakes are high because we want Henry to hush, like 5 minutes ago, you know? So I reach over and grab that noisy little fur ball and head out the big doors.

Whew. He is outside of the sanctuary. But now what?! I am looking around. Trying to find an answer. Where to put him? I want him to be still and also sort of hidden away. I mean, I would hate for a good Samaritan to come by and take old Henry to the Humane Society for adoption, you know?

And all of a sudden, it hit me. The perfect place to tuck little Henry in for a nap. He would be out of the way and not readily visible. AND I would know right where to find him after church was over.
The name tag holder!
Genius!

And so Henry hung out right here until after the service. May, Bay, and I went to children's church to pick up the children and to the name tag holder, aka, Hamster Church to pick up good old Henry!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring is springin'

After a LONG winter, we are all thrilled with any sunshiny days and warmer temps!

Spencer spent most of his outside time climbing.

Jessa, well, she is a swinger at heart.
Spencer and I also did some sliding.
And Jessa, well, when it was time to go home, I had to pry her out of her swing!
video
Jessa singing a song from "Starstruck" that she now LOVES. . .
video
Spencer's "go to" song when swinging "I believe I can fly!"

Oh, and Happy St. Patrick's Day, too!