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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

All it takes is a list

 I am a compulsive list maker, it's something that makes me happy.  I'm thankful I can be pacified so easily.  Kevin laughs at my need to write on my daily list things like "eat" and "shower".   Last week, after emerging from the piles of laundry created by vacation and pre-vacation avoidance of laundry I felt overwhelmed.  My house has needed to be cleaned, really, down deep cleaned for a long time.  I can spiff it up and make it do, but the truth is there's a lot under there that needs taking care of.  In a few words WE HAVE TOO MUCH STUFF!   I read on this blog about a  40 days and 40 bags challenge for Lent.  Essentially, clearing out 40 bags of stuff for the 40 days of lent and all the while spring cleaning so that at Easter you emerge with a clean, organized home. This little plan includes making a list of one or two areas to tackle each day.  I love it--it includes a list!  On Sunday night I sat down and made a list for the next month and boy is it keeping me busy.  I am taking my time, doing things right and hoping I don't run out of steam half way through.

Cleaning schmeaning!  She'll have none of it.  I do my dirty work while this girl gets her morning beauty sleep.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Goop, slipcovered furniture and motivation


This stuff is a big help in the laundry room.  I have a lot of stains to conquer every week and I'm thankful to have this little wonder cream on my side.

                              
Before and After
Speaking of stains to conquer, I'm thankful to have slipcovered furniture in the living room.  I don't have to worry if someone spills, drops, drools, uses marker, or otherwise makes a mess. 


I'll take motivation to run in any form I can get it.  After Lucy's morning nap she was ready to roll.  I on the other hand was not feeling it.  It was cold and dreary outside and warm and cozy inside.  Luckily, she had enough energy for the both of us. I'm thankful to have someone else who needs to go outside every day, someone I won't turn down.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Mother Teresa

There are two quotes of Mother Teresa's which I've become forever thankful.  They center me when I'm off balance and remind me of what it is really all about.


Start by making your own home a place where happiness and love abound, through your love for each member of your family and for your neighbour.  Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home.  Make them long to be with their families.  So much sin could be avoided if our people really love their homes. 

-Mother Teresa-


People are often unreasonable,
Illogical and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind,
People may accuse
You of selfish motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful,
You will win some false friends
And some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank,
People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building,
Someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness,
They may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today,
People will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have,
And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you have anyway.

You see, in the final analysis,
It is between you and God;

It never was between you and them anyway.

~Mother Teresa~ 


Saturday, March 26, 2011

Laughs and one last snow

I am thankful that I get daily laugh therapy.  I happen to live with three lively comedians.  Just today this one rolled herself up in the quilt I laid out for her to play on.  She then played peekaboo with herself squealing with delight each time she lifted her head out of the quilt.

Go ahead, throw a snowball at me, I don't mind admitting I'm thankful for one last snow (see that positive thinking...LAST).  It's so pretty and has kept me inside plowing through load after load of laundry.  
My neighbor Judy's house.  My favorite on the street.  It was the very picture of spring earlier in the week!


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Home Sweet Home

Disney World 2011
No matter how fabulous a trip is, coming home is always sweet.  For that I am thankful!

The trip by the way was a 10- just perfect!  I asked a lot of people for advice before leaving.  THANKS!  Here is what I'd pass on to anyone planning a first time trip to DisneyWorld.

1.) Buy this book.  I skimmed it a few days before we left and it helped me realize I had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into.  Once we got to Florida and I remembered how much I hate huge crowds,  I bucked up the $7 and got an online version which included daily plans to avoid the worst crowds.  Sounds cookoo and way over the top but it was fantastic.  The last day we didn't have a plan to follow and Emma is still lamenting that fact.

2.) Arrive early.  Even earlier than you think you should.  We left our hotel by 7 and walked through the gates as soon as Mickey opened them at 8.  A few minutes before 8 Mickey and his crew arrive by train for a welcoming show.  What a wonderful difference getting there early made.  We rode multiple rides before 9, no lines, no heat, happy family!



Riding the ferry to Magic Kingdom.  We were one of two families on the boat!


Here the girls are on the first ride of the day. No one else was on the Magic Carpets...they were allowed to stay on and ride as many times as they wanted.  It was the same for Pirates of the Caribbean, The Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  Seriously, as many times as they wanted!


3.) Schedule just one character meal...it's enough.  We had dinner in Epcot at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall with the princesses.  It was a hit with all of us.  The food was pretty good and the girls felt so special with all that princess attention.  
Ariel and Lucy - a red head connection



Kevin sporting the Ergo Carrier and a backpack...what a Dad!
4.) Bring the baby.  We've heard of a few families who left their under one year old at home.  We never even considered that an option and boy am I glad.  Of course she didn't care if we were at Disney World or Sam's.  She even got to ride all of the rides in Fantasyland plus a few others.  Also, bring a carrier, it will keep the baby happy.  
All of Lucy's naps were taken right here.
5.) Rent a stroller from an Orlando based stroller rental company.  We have a double stroller but there was no way we were dragging that beast through the airport with the rest of our entourage.  We brought our umbrella stroller and thought at 5 and 7 the big girls would be fine walking.  Well, the baby didn't want to ride in the stroller and after our first day, which ended up being a 12 hour day (NOT part of the detailed plan)  and by our best estimation at least 7 miles of walking, the kids were done walking!  We ended up renting a double stroller for the next 2 days from Disney at $31 a day.  Our friends, who were also at Disney, rented a nice double jogging stroller for 4 days from said company for $80.  You do the math.

Disney takes it out of you.
6.) To stay at a Disney resort or not?  

     *If money were no object we'd stay at The Contemporary, right outside of Magic Kingdom, or The    Yacht Club, right outside of Epcot.   But money is totally an object.    We stayed off site, at a nice Doubletree for $70/night (all that traveling Kevin does has a few perks).
     * Guests at the Disney resorts have extra magic hours.  This is when the park opens early and stays open late.  During our visit there were no extra morning hours at Magic Kingdom  so we were always the first ones there.  As for extra nighttime hours,  do you really see us staying at Disney World until 3 in the morning?
     * Mickey picks your luggage up at the airport and delivers it to your room if you stay at a Disney resort.  Ok, that would be fantastic.  But, if that had been the case this trip we would have missed Kevin's amazing Clark Griswald moment on our last day.  At the airport, he was dragging two huge wheeled duffel bags, two booster seats and a carseat.  The kids got on the elevator before us, and as Kevin attempted to get on, the whole lot of bags tipped over, the door to the elevator closed with the kids on by themselves.  Kevin used some choice language, stomped his feet, threw down the bags and shook his fist....I am not making this up.  I would love to have that security footage.  The girls and I giggled over that all day today!
    *You can use the interDisney transportation if you stay on site.  Again, nice.  We parked in the first or second row of the parking lot each day.  Not a big deal.
Do you think she would have been any happier staying at a Disney resort?
Me either.
* You don't have far to travel when you stay for the nightly shows.  We didn't stay for the nightly shows.  We don't stay up that late, even on vacation.
While the Disney resorts seem very nice and full of perks, we were just fine staying off of the property.

7.) Relax.  It's vacation.  You will not see or do everything.  It's ok.  Our kids were worn out by lunch every day.  The first day we had dinner reservations at 5 in Epcot.  Per our plan we were to head back to the hotel after lunch and relax before dinner.  We got a little carried away and didn't leave.  By 1 we were zapped but knew we couldn't make it to the hotel, and then back to Epcot by 5 without a lot of stress.....here's a time when the on site hotel would have come in handy.  Never fear though, we camped out for a bit in the baby care center, a nice little place with a nursing room, changing room and a tv/book area for older kids....here's a time when the baby came in handy!  It was quiet, cool, and a great place to get away from the craziness for a bit.  We saw the Philharmagic after and by that time felt ready to hit the park again!
Leave it to Emma to fit in some reading at Disney World.

8.) Pack sun hats, and extra clothes.  I did neither of these things.  It was in the mid to upper 80's our entire trip--it felt so great.   I am, though, a nervous Nelly when it comes to sun so I was always chasing somebody around with sunscreen.  I wish the kids had had their sun hats.  I saw lots of kids with them on, smart moms!  Also, pack extra clothes.  Emma got soaked on Splash Mountain and had to wear bike shorts ordinarily worn under her dresses around.  Plus, after a long morning at Disney, chances are, if you are returning to a park in the late afternoon/evening you'll want a change of clothes.  

A differing opinion of Splash Mountain.


                    9.) Schedule a few rest days. Our schedule went like this-
Friday- Seaworld
Saturday- Relax at pool
Sunday- Disney
Monday- Disney
Tuesday- Disney
Wednesday- Home
We spent time at the pool every afternoon except Monday.  By our third day at Disney we were spent.  We fizzled out very quickly Wednesday morning.  I wish we had scheduled a pool day for all day Tuesday and had our last day on  Wednesday at Disney, returning home on Thursday.  We only did Magic Kingdom and Epcot and we for our pace that was just right.  In fact there was a lot of Epcot we didn't see.








10.) If you have time go to Seaworld.  It is lots of fun with a laid back feeling.  We went our first day and it was a nice place to start.  The rides for small kids were perfect, with no lines and just enough thrill for the girls.  Remember, Emma wants nothing to do with anything even slightly scary.  Ellie is a different story, these rides were just a warm up for her.  The shows were enjoyable and we loved seeing Shamu!


On another note, avoid the Horses of Arabia show, unless you happen to have free tickets like us and you go on one of your off evenings, then as Kevin said, it is worth free.  The horses are beautiful but it stops there.  


It was a wonderful week spent together with lots of memories.  I think the kids are already planning our next trip!





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My brother

I am thankful for my brother.  He is just the kind of person I want my kids to look up to.  He's smart, hard working, lots of fun and generous.  Even though he lives in California and is often traveling to far off places, I talk to him every single week, sometimes more.  He cares about what's going on in my life, Kevin's life and the kids'.  He makes time to know what is important to us.  I love my brother and I am so proud of him.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NPR

My beloved NPR has come under fire recently.  It disappoints me to hear people say such negative things about what I consider to be an important part of our news and information landscape.  I challenge anyone who believes NPR to be a left leaning news organization to listen to NPR for a week.  I love that I can hear differing opinions about important news stories in a civilized, respectful manner.  Without Morning Edition, Diane Rehm, and All Things Considered in my life I'd be in a true news deficit.  I'm thankful for NPR.
P.S. If you're already a listener but not a memeber...DONATE today!

Thanks Christy, great modeling job!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Right Now

 It's Thursday morning and we are getting ready for our first big family vacation.  We've never done this before, we've always been blessed to have at least one set of grandparents with us. Each of those trips have been fabulous and a special time but it's time for the 5 of us to go it alone. I think.
Right now I'm thankful for:
*Kevin taking the whole day off, even though we don't leave until 2:30, all those last minute details!
*The excitement on the girls' faces this morning and the extra spring in their steps.
* A fantastic Orlando forecast.
*My own excitement about spending a few days away with my family.


Forecast Conditions
High °F
Low °F
Precip.
Chance
Today
Mar 17
Mostly Sunny
Mostly Sunny
84°
57°
10%

84°F
Fri
Mar 18
Sunny
Sunny
84°
54°
0%

84°F
Sat
Mar 19
Sunny
Sunny
86°
56°
0%

86°F
Sun
Mar 20
Sunny
Sunny
86°
63°
0%

86°F
Mon
Mar 21
Sunny
Sunny
83°
61°
0%

83°F
Tue
Mar 22
Sunny
Sunny
86°
61°
0%

86°F
Wed
Mar 23
Sunny
Sunny
87°
60°
0%


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Just what we were looking for

Kevin and I searched for a church for nearly 10 years.  We stopped at several places and tried to make them fit but alas each one was not quite right.  About 16 months ago we found what we were looking for.  The first Sunday in Advent of 2009 we visited The Gathering.  We haven't left.  It took about 4 months for us to stop feeling like the next Sunday would be the one where we realized we didn't really like the church as much as we had hoped.  If you're looking for a church, give it a try, or at least listen to a sermon online.  It might be just what you're looking for.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Good health

Every year my health and the health of those I love becomes something I'm more thankful for.  It's something that I know can't be taken for granted.
Laughing and smiling are an important part of good health!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Technology, it's great...

sometimes!  We're on vacation and other than answering our phones if one of us gets lost and using the Disney World ride wait time app, we're mostly technology free.  I wrote this post on the 17th, it felt a bit like cheating but I really want to be free from computers/email/Facebook while we're away so I wrote several thankful posts and put them in a queue on blogger to be posted daily.  If this post is appearing on a day other than March 18th, the technology (or maybe it's me) has failed!
I have a love hate relationship with technology.  I love the ease for which I can find information, keep in touch with people and record daily thoughts.  I loathe the drain I sometimes allow it to have on my precious free time.  Even though this sounds like a post about something I'm not thankful for, it's not.  I enjoy technology very much and am thankful to have it in my life but it does pose some challenges.  We keep technology at an arm's length from our kids.  They're bright; don't tell me they'll be behind in life if they don't have an iPad to play with, I just won't believe you.  Sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't work harder to keep technology at an arm's length from myself.  Oh wait, I don't know how to use our TV, I guess I'm doing a pretty good job!

A live puppet show.  Nothing on You Tube even comes close! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I am thankful for St. Patrick's Day and every other "little" holiday that makes otherwise ordinary days festive.  Hope you're wearing green, eating corned beef and enjoying the luck of the Irish!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

It's true

I know there are lots of people out there who under no circumstance would own a mini-van.    I'd say that I understand but I don't.  I do get that they aren't cool, and they do scream "MOM on board".  But I am a mom, and I really don't think I'd fool anybody if I were tooling around town in a __________ (insert cool car, I've no idea what that would be) what with the 3 car seats and kids in back.  I've long since given up the idea that a car will make me cool (there is probably some much cooler word to use than cool, see I'm so hopelessly behind).  With that said I can now profess my love for my van.  She even has a name, Janie.   Double sliding doors, room for 8, cupholders for 96, smooth ride, back up sensors, what's not to love? It's true, I'm thankful for my van!
I volunteered in Ellie's classroom today and this was in her writing folder. We love our van!
  

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Music to my ears

Not long ago Ellie told me, when you sing you feel happy.  It's true music can change your mood.  I am thankful to have music of all kinds as the soundtrack for my days. Music at church to center the soul.  Improv songs sung by my ever exploring children.  And recently I've been listening to these guys, a lot.  Yes, music can make you feel happy!


Kevin and I visited the symphony on Saturday night.  More music to love.
                   

Monday, March 14, 2011

Every single day

I give thanks for this girl.
She makes our home a happier place.  Here she is writing to God.  I asked her what she was writing about and she said... just asking him how Gus is doing.  
She is always taking care of others, especially her sisters.   Emma had her parent teacher conference at school this morning, she was very anxious about it and was worried all weekend.  When I picked Ellie up from preschool today she asked me "How'd Emma's conference go".  
Of course where you find Lucy you'll find Ellie.  Lucky Lucy.




Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sleep

I heard last week that the average mother loses 700 hours of sleep the first year of her child's life.  Sounds about right.  No wonder we do such nutty things.  Lucy however is helping me turn that tide and is sleeping very well.  She is usually in bed by 6 and only up once to nurse between bedtime and 5:30a.m..  I am so thankful for this glorious sleep!  Now if I could only find a way to go to bed at 6 too! 


I have this book to thank( along with many friends and family who encouraged and supported us along the way).  What a difference it made in our sleep lives.  It was a bitter pill to swallow but was well worth it in the end.  







Saturday, March 12, 2011

Two for one

I really was thankful yesterday but the day ended before I had time to post.  So today is a double duty day!

I am so thankful to have this little girl in my life.


She is a deep thinker with a huge heart.  Everyday she helps me see things in a new and different way.  

She's seven and a half today!







I am thankful that I am a runner.


 I have the best running friends and family a person could ask for.  They encourage me and best of all talk the whole run so I never get bored!

We had a perfect St. Pat's Day run---plus our own welcoming crew when we got home!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I'm thankful I read this....

In the fall of 2008 I read a wonderful piece by the author Anna Quindlen.   I received it in not just one but several emails over the course of a couple of weeks.  You probably did too, heck maybe you sent it to me.  Ms. Quindlen's message to be present resonated with me  I didn't want to look back and regret anything or wonder what I'd missed because I was so busy with...well who knows what, just busy.  It helped me realize what I'm all about, I'm all about being a mom.  Not to say I'm not many other things too, but right now I'm soaking every ounce of this in, I'm not missing a beat.  Honestly, I still struggle with being present especially with the way household chores pile up, meals insist on being made and outside obligations peck on my shoulder.  I refuse though to let those things get hold of me for too long before I'm back living it up with my girls.  I'm no fool, I know this is my chance.


On Being Mom by Anna Quindlen
If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time
believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with
the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a
Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow
ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler
with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe
above her chin. ALL MY BABIES are gone now.
I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take
great satisfaction in what I have today: three
almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in
fast. Three people who read the same books I do and
have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me
in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar
jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who
need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want
to keep their doors closed more than I like.
Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their
jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by
themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the
bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby
is buried deep within each, barely discernible except
through the unreliable haze of the past.
Everything in all the books I once pored over is
finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry
Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and
sleeping through the night and early-childhood
education, all grown obsolete.
Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things
Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I
suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise
like memories.
What those books taught me, finally, and what the
women on the playground taught me, and the
well-meaning relations –what they taught me was that
they couldn’t really teach me very much at all.
Raising children is presented at first as a true-false
test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far
along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one
knows anything. One child responds well to positive
reinforcement, another can be managed only with a
stern voice and a timeout. One boy is toilet trained
at 3, his brother at 2.
When my first child was born, parents were told to put
baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on
his own spit- up. By the time my last arrived, babies
were put down on their backs because of research on
sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this
ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then
soothing.
Eventually you must learn to trust yourself.
Eventually the research will follow.
I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr.
Brazelton’s wonderful books on child development, in
which he describes three different sorts of infants:
average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a
sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month-old who did not
walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little
legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little
mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically
challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China.
Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine.
He can walk, too.
Every part of raising children is humbling, too.
Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been
enshrined in the Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame.
The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language,
mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed.
The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The
nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day
when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom
with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What
did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The
time I ordered food at the McDonald’s drive-through
speaker and then drove away without picking it up from
the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did
not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two
seasons.
What was I thinking?
But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of
us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment
enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment
is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one
picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a
quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day,
ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we
ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded,
and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish
I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next
thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured
the doing a little more and the getting it done a
little less.
Even today I’m not sure what worked and what didn’t,
what was me and what was simply life. When they were
very small, I suppose I thought someday they would
become who they were because of what I’d done. Now I
suspect they simply grew into their true selves
because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back
off and let them be.
The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense,
matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And
look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three
people I like best in the world, who have done more
than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That’s
what the books never told me. I was bound and
determined to learn from the experts.
It just took me a while to figure out who the experts
were.

Clearly I could work on being a bit more present where this little mover is concerned.  While I was in the  kitchen doing Ellie's hair (what, don't you do hair in the kitchen?) Lucy managed to move herself from the living room rug to under the chair.  


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The beginning of Lent and 7 months

I've been thinking for the last couple of weeks about what I'd do to mark the Lenten season.  I wanted to do something other than give up sweets --my default practice almost every year since 1992.  Yes, it is a sacrifice (more so than I like to admit) but in the end I don't know that it ever really brings me anywhere in my relationship with God.  While doing some reading about less traditional ways to observe Lent, I found an article about  "cultivating a life of gratitude".   The idea of focusing on the things around me for which I am thankful seems to me the perfect way to see God's hand in my daily life.  For the next 40 days, I'm going to post daily about something I am thankful for.  I imagine they'll range from expected to unusual, big to small.. but I know for sure they're all thanks to God.

The perfect way to begin is with our beautiful baby Lucy, who just so happens to be 7 months old today!
This is how she wakes up. Sweet and happy.

7 month stats:
Weight/Length- Unsure but she is growing.  
Teeth-  She has 2 pearly whites on the bottom.
Dimple- Still there.
Hair- Red but sparse!
Tricks- Sitting for a few moments, she is really getting the hang of it, just today she realized that if she slowly turns her head she doesn't fall over.  And this one is hot off the press...she is able to get up on all fours.  EEK!




                                        Sorry for the blurry shot but I was about to pass out.