Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reading Like a Kid Again

Tonight was a long awaited developmental milestone for the boys and us.  Truthfully, it was probably more important to Brian and me than it was to the boys!  I started reading them J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. We've already made our way through C.S. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as well as Prince Caspian but to spread out the fun, we've moved on to another amazing author.  I absolutely loved to read when I was a child and the most horrendous punishment my parents could dole out was to take my books away from me so it comes as no surprise that one of the things I decided to do the moment I found out that Ethan was on the way was to read some of our favorite books to him.  Luke has become just as fond of story time too and so in honor of our milestone, I thought I would share some of our favorite story time books on my blog in hopes that someone might be able to enjoy them as much as we do.

1.  The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

2.  The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

3.  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

4.  Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barret

5.  Titch by Pat Hutchinson

6.  Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Eric Carle

7.  There's a Wocket in My Pocket by Dr. Seuss

8.  Go Dog, Go by P.D. Eastman

9.  The Tale of Three Trees a traditional folktale, our version is retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

10.  Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton

These are just a few of our current favorites (and I do say "our" since I am still a bit of a literature junkie!) and though most of these are well known, they are well worth perusing again and are definitely favorites with Ethan and Luke.  I'm obviously having way too much fun having an excuse to spend time reading children's books again!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Another Chance to Trust

When I started this blog, I promised to be authentic in everything I share from the mundane to the more exciting.  And while I would rather ignore this topic (probably really just because I don't want to deal with it myself), I am sticking to my promise of authenticity. 

Tomorrow I am going to the cardiologist and I must admit, it has me a bit scared.  Since my fibromyalgia has flared lately, I've been in a great deal more pain than usually and absolutely exhausted but unfortunately, this is par for the course of FMS.  What isn't though is the fact that I have been blacking out when I stand up quickly and while I haven't passed out at all, it is really really annoying to all the sudden not be able to see and have the balancing skills of a pregnant hippopotamus.  And while my doctor isn't convinced that it is circulatory, we have to rule this out first.  And so I am back to the unknown when it comes to my health. 

It has been such a long journey to come to trust God in the everyday with the fibro and it seems that I am once again on the threshold of having to make that choice yet again.  Trust is so much easier said than done I have decided.  When I was going through it all the first time as I was trying to get my diagnosis of fibro, it was incredibly frustrating but it didn't seem like as big of a deal as stuff is now, I think, because I have kids and I stress out the most about how whatever is going on with me is going to affect them.  I already feel like I have drug them through so much and I see the effects in them.  Ethan and Luke love to imitate me walking around with my cane; most definitely not a normal four and two year old game. 

And so, even though I don't even know anything yet, I confess I start worrying even though I know that I shouldn't be.  My biggest struggle really is turning my head knowledge into active knowledge that I am able to live out.  Apparently, I haven't learned this lesson well enough yet so God is giving me another chance to trust Him.  And I know it will all work out... now just to act like it will!

Friday, June 25, 2010

A New Perspective on Being Mommy

My husband sent me a link to desiringGod.org, John Piper's website, today because the topic has been something I have been struggling with: being a stay at home mom.  It is so hard because most days, I don't feel like I do anything worthwhile even though I know, in my head at least, it is incredibly valuable but it just doesn't always feel like it.  Watching our two little boys and my nephew today was exhausting and at times, frustrating and monotonous (although it was funny when I discovered some artwork done in crayon but not on paper...)  The weight of trying to train them up to be compassionate, caring individuals as well strong men of God is humbling and I must admit that sometimes I do envy other moms who get to go out and be adults with careers and not be covered in all sorts of kid goo.  When Brian was laid off this past fall, I was able to substitute teach some and it was amazing how productive I felt when I wasn't just getting snacks for little people all day!  But, when I came home, I was acutely aware of how much I missed my boys and how much I really do want to be there for them.  I think my problem with being a stay at home mom is really more one of perspective.

Perspective is what John Piper gave me today.  Click here to read the full article; it is so good!  To paraphrase what impacted me, he said while that it can be okay for a mom to work outside of the home, "mothering and homemaking are huge and glorious jobs.  I love that word, glorious!  It is so true that we, as mothers, are shaping our families and making a huge difference in people's lives.  I think what hit me the most in Piper's article what how he basically called it full time ministry in which I, as a stay at home mom, get to make a profound difference in the lives of my kids, husband, and neighbors.  I guess I find this really ironic because why I want a career is to make a difference in the lives of people; I already have the chance right now.  So, I'm committing to remembering that for each mess I clean up, load of laundry I do, each snack I serve, each neighbor I help, I am making a profound difference in the lives of people around me for Christ especially when my attitude is right.  There will still be those moments when I feel like pulling my hair out and when I don't feel like what I am doing is important but I'm going to start to consider it all ministry and take more daily joy in it.  Making a difference is glorious!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

An Itchy Adventure

I have learned that ants don't like their hills to be stood upon or flooded.

 I discovered this important fact of life when I was watering my azaleas who looked about ready to succumb to the heat we are currently having combined with a lack of regular watering while we were out of town.  Thirty eight bites later, I have concluded that these must have been fire ants due to their aggressive defense of home sweet home and the fact that I am still itching and sore more than 48 hours later after the "Great Battle of the Hill" as I am sure it will be known in their ant history text books. 

What the ant historians do not yet know though, is the significance of this battle.  This is not just a simple, one time battle but much more akin to an inciting incident and could also be the new ant Pearl Harbor.  I am now on a vendetta because this particular hill happens to be a little to close for comfort to my children's swing set.  Am currently planning a run to Lowe's to pick up fire ant insecticide.  Like I said in an earlier post, apparently my commitment to being green only goes so far...

As I was lying in bed last night, trying with all my might to resist scratching all these little and not so little bites, I was incredibly grateful that the kids had not discovered the hill of horrors under all the pine straw first since I know they would be even more miserable than I am.  Kids can't deal with stuff like adults can. 

It took me back to the time when I was in kindergarten and I came down with Chicken Pox and all I wanted to do was scratch but due to the ever watchful eyes of my parents, I was prohibited.  I remember my baby sister rolling on the carpet trying to find some relief and my toddler brother trying to sneak scratches.  Later, our youngest brother came along and he was blessed to be one of the earliest recipients of the vaccine for Chicken Pox.  I think the rest of us were a bit jealous that he would never have to earn his stripes, or spots rather, with this childhood milestone. 

And now, after my ant encounter, am ever so glad for vaccines since Chicken Pox is one itchy adventure that both my boys and I will be happy to miss out on!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Little Helpers

I spent the past week helping get ready for my sister's wedding; a lot of fun but tons of work since my family wanted to do most of the things themselves and this included making the flower arrangements.  I now know how to make a hand-tied bridesmaid bouquet and I'm very proud of myself, I must admit.

Among my lesser known accomplishments this past week was sorting colored gravel.  And, I'm sure, this makes no sense as to how this could possibly be wedding related so let me explain.  My sister and her husband wanted to get married outside and due to the possibility of a breeze, we couldn't count on the unity candle staying lit.  So, she decided to have a sand ceremony in which both she and her husband poured sand from two vases into one to symbolize the irrevocable joining of their lives.  I mean, who really wants to separate out grains of sand? 

But, we got a little too creative.  I found a black vase and a matching white one and since their colors were primarily black and white, we thought this would be really cute for each of them to have a different color vase.  This idea was carried out further by matching the sand color to the vase so it would match their house later since they are also decorating with black and white.  But, we were concerned that mixing black sand with white sand would not give us black and white sand but gray sand.  So, my solution was to use really small gravel, the size that you would put in a fish tank or something.  Problem solved, or so I thought. 

While white gravel was available, straight black was not.  So, my mom and my sister bought the black and blue gravel mix.  With everyone else busy, I offered to separate the colors thinking it would be easy.  Pull out the blue pieces, deposit the black ones in the vase.  And it would have been if not for two very special little people desiring to "help".

Ethan, while extremely proficient with colors, just preferred to run his fingers through the piles and mix them up again.  He is my kinesthetic learner, can you tell?  And, two and a half year old Luke really wanted to do what I was doing and poured gravel into the vase.  Good, except that particular gravel had not yet been sorted and so I got to sort it out again. 

And again. 

And yet again. 

He thought my screaming in horror after each deposit was really funny and this just made him giggle all the more.  So, our noise caused my husband and grandma to join in and sort gravel with me. 

More than an hour after I started, we finally filled up the black vase with the black gravel!  Yeah!  So, I went over to my mom, proud like a kindergartener because I could sort colors, I showed her that it was all done and happily shook the vase to settle the gravel down a little bit before packing it up in a box to take to the wedding. 

Gravel went everywhere. 

So, I cleaned it up again, humbly this time. 

Later, at the wedding, I was thrilled to see the black and white still discernible as it was mixed in the clear glass vase exactly as my sister wanted.  But, I'm sure my parents are still finding black gravel all over their house, a gift from me and their grandsons, aka little helpers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Home Again!

We finally made it home!  I think both my husband and I breathed a collective sigh of relief when we pulled into our driveway just about two hours ago.  We were supposed to be here last night and I had all sorts of things running around into my mind to post about but, we seem to be cursed by the airline elves. 

We set out on our homeward journey more than 24 hours ago.  After one exceedingly long cross country flight, all we had to do was to make our connection for just an hour long flight to our local airport from the hub of my now least favorite airline who shall remain nameless (unless I lose my resolve to be the better person by the end of my ranting post).  Unfortunately, our plane was rerouted around a storm so we came in about twenty minutes late but we still had 30 minutes to make our connection.  We caught a shuttle to the other terminal where our plane was and after running like madmen with two very exhausted boys in tow, we made it to our gate with the plane still there and the door still open.  We handed over our boarding passes and the man looked at them and said, "I just gave your seats away to revenue customers.  You'll have to rebook."  We begged that since we were actually there and the door was still open, they could not do that especially as our poor kids were lying on the floor both sobbing that they wanted to go home and go to bed.  How often do two and four year olds ask to go to bed?  Not good...  The oh so courteous gate agent ran away, closed the door, and was seen no more.  On a side note, aren't all customers revenue producing?  I mean, I distinctly remember paying quite a bit for these tickets and that, by definition, is revenue... Yup, fuzzy logic here for sure.  Customer service tried to make them reopen the door but when they made the gate agent come out from his hiding place, he still wouldn't and by this time, the plane was ready to pull away and customer service did not want to pull off the people they had allowed to board in our stead.  In some ways, I understand their quandary as fixing their mistake would have ticked off eight people instead of only four.  So, the airline decided that they would give us vouchers for some food and a hotel and send us home today instead.  I am quite thankful that at least we didn't have to pay for our room though.  So finally we are home!  Yay!

Sadly though, this kind of thing seems to happen to us proportionally more than average.  When we were leaving on our trip, we were delayed so our hour and a half layover turned into a several hour one.  Luckily, we were able to find an outlet so the kids could watch a movie and pretty soon, I noticed that we were entertaining more than just our own children.  Apparently, the "Clone Wars" cartoons can catch the attention of bored adults too and any kids in the near vicinity. 

When I flew in February, the plane coming in was delayed so I wasn't going to make my connection so the boys and I flew out the next day and we hadn't left yet so we weren't stranded.  However, on the way back, the airline did somehow manage to lose my stroller for several days which I had gate checked.  All they had to do was take it from the gate and put it on the plane which was at most a distance of 150 feet...

 In November, my husband spent hours circling over Florida, unable to land and his plane needed to refuel so he was rerouted to Bermuda.  Ironically, the passengers who were actually connecting to Bermuda were not allowed to stay and had to fly back to Florida to fly back to Bermuda.  As Brian was heading to Haiti, this didn't affect him but he found this highly ironic. 

The most interesting airline occurrence though was several years ago when Brian was flying from California back East for a wedding.  Delayed flights again caused him to miss his connection and so they rerouted him.  Let's just say he was able to check off several states off his list in his quest to visit every state in the country and it was kind of like that old kids' game show from many years ago, Where in the World is Carmen SanDiego?  He called me from each of his four layovers asking me where I thought he was now.  Though he was supposed to get there the day before the wedding, I think he had to go straight there, if I recall correctly.  Such evidence is why I think the airline elves are against us.  Road trip next time, anyone?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Dare to Discipline?

Like most new parents, I constantly find myself wondering what I should do in response to certain situations.  Other times, the answer is obvious.  When Ethan was seventeen months old, he, in a fit of boredom, charged and hit me with a book.  My reaction probably was not typical of a parent just assaulted though- I erupted with laughter!  The book he hit me with was Dare to Discipline by Dr. Dobson.  I decided that it was time to read it.

It is truly funny how sometimes the solution presents itself.  Ethan, in that one action, asked for what he indeed needed.  We all need discipline because, in fits of boredom, we are not prone to make the right decision, just like my little one.  As adults we just become more sophisticated.  We become complacent about whom we need to be as imitators of Christ. 

Growth is fundamental in the Christian life.  To go without it is to accept complacency, which plagued the church in Lasodicea as described in Revelation 3:16  "...because you are lukewarm... I will spit you out of My mouth."  Not so pretty.  Scripture goes on to say in the first part of Revelation 3:19, "Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline..."God loves us so much that He desires what is best for us and sometimes it is not pleasant or even clearly understandable, like Job's situation in the Old Testament.  Just as truly loving parents do not allow their children to do whatever they wish, God molds us with discipline.  Parents wish to teach their children so they will avoid things that will hurt them and God offers us trials to produce growth so that we will be lacking in nothing according to James 1:2-4.  God knows what we need best.  Attitude is crucial when it comes to discipline.  Sadly, attitudes toward hardships in life can get in the way of getting the most out of them.  If our desire is to grow into Christ-likeness through the trials in our lives, our attitude needs to be in line. 

It has been about three years since the book incident and Ethan has been doing an incredible job with discipline.  It is so exciting as a parent to see him grow, learn and mature.  While he still resists it in some ways (like wanting to play video games all day!), he does so much without being asked and I absolutely adore him.  When he is older though, I definitely plan to get a lot of mileage out of the book incident!  I know he'll laugh about it too!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Things I Have Learned When Traveling

Sorry for the absence in regular posts; I have been traveling and my ability to post is limited at the moment but I'll make up for it next week!  In the meantime, here are things that I have learned when traveling, some courtesy of my children!

1.  A pacifier dropped on takeoff can roll four rows backwards in the airplane. 

2.  Kids are very used to the taste of their own tap water.  In a different area, this can taste different.  Children might think it is going to make them sick when drinking water.

3.  Jet lag is interesting when it comes to naptimes.

4.  The sound of a crowd is deafening when told the flight they are all waiting for has been canceled.  It sounded much like the tornadoes and lightning that canceled the flight which is ironically funny, except of course, if you were on the flight.

5.  Kids don't like baths when traveling.

6.  Bribes are more than acceptable as a parenting strategy on an airplane.

7.  Kids will fall asleep when you have scheduled them to play with other kids due to lesson #3.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

An Attitude of Worship

An incident from my time in college came to mind this week.  One of my classes started at the same time many of the university employees arrived at work.  One employee, a middle-aged woman, usually drove by in her minivan as I walked into my class.  She was particularly memorable because I she sang in her car every single morning.  And this was not just the average sing-along with the music: she was clearly having a good time!  Then one day, she drove by with her window down.  It was gospel worship music that she was singing along with and beaming with joy!  I'm not quite sure what I had expected, but it wasn't that at before eight on a Monday morning!

Friday, June 11, 2010

How Many Bags?!

The question of the day is, "Why is traveling so much work?"  I mean, it is supposed to be a vacation, right?  And although this trip is a little different since it is for a wedding and I am the matron of honor, I have been musing about how much stuff I am carting across the country to the wonderful land of amazing Mexican food (Campbell's tomato soup passes for enchilada sauce around here... but that is another story).  I'm lucky in that I will be able to do laundry while I am there and thus don't need to bring nearly as much but it still seems a bit ridiculous how much four people actually need and how much effort it takes to pack it all.  I've been doing laundry it seems for days trying to get every thing clean so I can pick out outfits and leave the house as clean as possible.  In the later hours last night while I was finishing getting the kids' all ready to go, a certain thought dawned on me:  why do we, people, actually need stuff?  Dogs don't need stuff and birds don't need stuff.  Our pet hamster has stuff but that is only because we thought that she needed it.  Such were my deep (or very shallow as the case may be) philosophical musings as I decided how many pairs of socks each child would need. 

When I was little, the hardest part of getting ready for vacation was to pick what book I wanted to read and what toys to entertain myself in the car.  It was so easy, I practically just got my six year old self in the car when I was told.  Now I think I understand why my mom always seemed so tired in the week before we left and now why people say they need a vacation from the vacation when they have little kids.  Now my concern is to figure out how to entertain my energetic boys on the plane for hours on end without resorting to bribery for quiet.  Though, the candy did work well last time.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Caffiene, My Frenemy

Last night, I indulged.  I admit it.  And all today, I was wondering what in the world I was thinking.  I decided, at 7 pm last night that I really wanted Diet Dr Pepper and gave in to screaming impulse.  As I tossed and turned well into the wee hours of the morning and was counting all the hours passing by (if you must know how late it was, the hour rhymed with "bee") I, understandably, began to question the wisdom of my decision.  Because of my fibromyalgia, I'm really not supposed to have caffeine since it makes me hurt so much more so I have next to none now. 

Gone are the college days when I was requesting double shots just so I could stay up later and finish that absurdly long paper just to receive my degree, which is, in fact, a paper... But enough on the little ironies of life. 

I miss the chemical assistance to keep me going when I am fading and it is no where near the kids' bedtimes yet; so much harder in summer with it staying lighter longer since they don't believe me that it could possibly be bedtime yet, but I digress again.  I think tangents are the after-affects of caffeine. 

Such exhaustion led me to my old friend caffeine last night.  And so today, I am excruciatingly tired compounded by the fact that I am trying to get our family ready to fly across the country for my sister's wedding.  I have already begged Ethan to not let me forget my bridesmaid's dress, so deep is my concern for the fog that I am currently in. 

And the caffeine is calling my name again, pretending to be my friend but I know that it lies!  I've already taken a mountain (mole hill, actually) of Tylenol and ibuprofen so I don't move like an arthritic great-grandparent and can continue packing and hopefully not forgetting anything crucial. 

So, the first step is admitting that you have a problem, right? 

Okay, here goes:  Caffeine is officially my frenemy (friend/enemy, in case you haven't heard of the term).  I am choosing to be stronger than the caffeine today.  I will get packed and when I am at the wedding in a little over a week, hopefully wearing the proper bridesmaid dress and not some hastily purchased substitute, it will be all worth it!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Things I Never Thought I'd Say

There are things that I never, ever, in a million years thought I would say.  So random, in fact, that I did not even know that they needed to be said.  I've been writing them down lately since they have become a staple in my conversations with two very specific little people.  Here are some of the golden nuggets of wisdom I have passed on lately:

"We do not throw food on the floor for your little brother to eat.  He is not a puppy."

"No, Honey, you can't marry me when you grow up."

"No, pirates can't get in our house."

"Just because it is snowing does not mean that Santa is coming tonight."

No, you can't rename Uncle Mark, Steve."

"Your clothes are not attacking you!"

"We don't show your little brother how to open the sugar tub."

"We don't eat sweet n' low packets."

"You do not cut your brother's hair.  Do not cut your own hair.  Ever ever again."

"Do not lock your brother in the pantry."

"Do not spank your brother.  I don't care what he did, I'll deal with it- not you."

"I'm sorry, but three year olds can't have their own credit cards."

"Darth Vader did not tell you to go over there.  Don't listen to Darth Vader."

"Just because the Lego girls in your video game can jump higher than the boys doesn't mean I can jump higher than Daddy." 

"Honey, we don't climb in the toilet to pee pee."

"Just because you did work yesterday doesn't mean that you don't have to do any today.  We do work everyday." 

"The moon isn't really following us."

I'm sure that I'll have more soon since it really is a daily adventure with them!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Problem of Pain

I keep going back to The Problem of Pain C.S. Lewis.  I'm a self described Lewis junkie so it isn't really a surprise that I continually am reading his books but this one I feel particularly drawn too.  As I said previously, I'm going through a horrendous flare up of my fibromyalgia and so I think the concept of pain speaks to me especially right now. 

The fibro has been such a part of my life from such an early age that definitely made me think about things in an uncommon way.  I would so love to be better and to understand why all this is happening with me but, like Paul, even though I've prayed, my thorn in the flesh hasn't been taken away and the reasons for this are still murky.  I, in my humanity, want to know why. 

I think that is why I love how Lewis outlines our problem with pain as being a barrier to people coming to know God because if God is good, how can He let this happen?  Is He actually in control?  It is easy to feel that He may not be; I've been there but I can say now, after years of wrestling, I know that He is. 

The beautiful truth of this is ugly pain is that it keeps me entirely dependent on God.  If I didn't have this pain, I'm sure I would fall into believing the lie that I don't need Him, for indeed, my physical state is just a reflection of my spiritual one.  It's funny that is seems easy to forget about God when stuff is going well; we even forget to thank Him.  This is only one reason, I know, for the problem of pain. 

When Paul says that "And we know that God causes all things work together for good to those who love God, those who are called according to His purpose" in Romans 8:28, we need to take him at his word.  I've learned the key is "His purpose" though.  God cares more about condition of our hearts than our happiness and comfort.  If we are only seeking happiness and comfort, we aren't seeking His will. 

The truth is, we aren't God, only He is and so we aren't the ones for holding Him accountable for our suffering.  Rather, we responsible for His suffering when He willingly gave His son, Jesus Christ up to the cross for the propitiation of our sins. 

Even though I don't know the particulars of "why me" and such, it is enough to know that He is working to some greater end than myself, and in that He will be glorified.  I am entirely responsible for my reaction to this miserable pain though.  I can either be angry that this is my path to tread, maybe deny that He is in control despite what scripture says, or draw near to Him and remember what Proverbs 30:5 says, "Every word of God is tested, He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him". 

It's really a reaction for or against God in its essence.  It is my prayer that I choose the latter everyday.

If you get a chance, I'd highly recommend C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain.  It is one of the books that has impacted me the most.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Multitasking to a Whole New Level

I would like to officially apologize to anyone who noticed a blue SUV driving erratically yesterday.  There actually was a very good reason for the lady driving the car to be waving her flip flop around like a lunatic while trying to successfully navigate the highway interchange.  Here's the background information:

I am terribly arachnophobic.  This isn't just "I dislike spiders", but rather a full-on neurotic fear of them.  Please don't tell me that I am a thousand times bigger than they are.  I know this and yet, there is no abatement of fear.  When I was little, during a plentiful time of black widow spiders, my parents very wisely explained that we never put our hands where we can't see.  However, this translated to me being afraid to even stick my toes down into my bed at night because I was terrified that the black widows were purposely encamped there just waiting to feast upon my feet.  Unfounded, I know, but still a part of my psyche.  Now to my grown up self:  I once encountered the offspring of Shelob (that's a most horrific spider larger than my said SUV for all you non-Tolkien reading Hobbits out there) in my laundry room.  I discovered it is actually possible to climb smooth walls.  And then, my fears were only further confirmed when a poor friend of mine suffered an extreme spider bite this past week, presumably from a brown recluse. 

Such was my state of mind when I was returning home from an errand when a small but vicious looking spider, whom I am sure was poisonous, made it's appearance walking on the inside of my windshield just inches from my face.  There was no place to pull over.  There was no place to stop.  If it fell, it would have fallen on me, horror of all horrors.  Luckily, I was wearing flip flops so I appointed one as my weapon of death for this arachnid.  As soon as I started swinging at it, it obviously realized this crazy girl meant it no good and it understandably started running.  And my terror of it falling on me intensified.  I was so thrilled when we had to stop at a red light and I was able to squish it.  I might add though, that my boys were giggling all throughout this episode and apparently seem to be free of arachnophobia, thankfully.  So, if you saw me, I am sorry and I hope my explanation helps explain why there was an extra moron out on the streets yesterday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Confusing Xbox with Real Life

Ethan is in every way a little boy; he climbs on things, can't sit still very long, and most of all, loves video games.  He is particularly fond of the Lego games that combine his favorite toy, Legos, with his favorite stories: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, and Batman.  We own all three for the Xbox. 

Brian and I originally thought that this would be a fun thing for him since they are not terribly violent as the worst that happens is the Lego characters break into pieces which is actually pretty funny and the games are also good for his fine motor coordination.  While he is able to play by himself somewhat, he would much rather play with someone since he is the most social child I have ever met.  In fact, the most horrific punishment for him is being removed from everyone else and sitting by himself and even the threat of said punishment is enough to make him instantaneously shape up.  So, during the day, I have the choice to either play with him or be called to come help him every five minutes so I usually try to play with him.

My confession is that this week has not been a good one for our video game consumption.  With my fibro flaring up, I don't have much in me in way of energy after dealing with all the pain to do a whole lot so sitting down and playing with the kids is a good fit.  Until we play way too much. 

I started to realize it a couple of days ago when I tried to go to sleep and when I closed my eyes, I kept seeing the blue coins (or lego studs, as they are called in the game) in my dreams and feeling the urgent need to collect them.  Yesterday, we were having problems finding all of the minikits which are pieces to a set that build a Lego "artifact" that gets displayed in a special room at Barnett College in Lego Indiana Jones.  My solution, "Let's look it up on the internet so we can get all of them!  We need to get all of them!" I said.  Even then, I didn't think this was a big deal; I mean, I only ever play with Ethan and he was just as excited about it as me.  We saved up enough to buy the Grail Knight character and I think that is one of the first things I told Brian when he got home. 

I finally admitted tonight that we have been playing waaaay too much and that we need to take a hiatus much to Ethan's chagrin.  We were running errands and I noticed some shiny metal pylons in front of the door to an office supply store, presumably there to keep people from driving in the door.  The first thought in my mind was, "Oh!  We need to get the bazooka trooper to blow those up!  Maybe we'll get a minikit!" 

Pause... Ummmm... Wow...  I have gone way too far and not modeled moderation to my son.  We'll be taking a break for the next few days or until I stop dreaming about Legos.  We will be getting out much more.  Ironically, what started for my son will be stopping for his sake too.  Now to find Ethan a new hobby that doesn't involve a screen...

Thursday, June 3, 2010

War of the Socks

Today is laundry day.  I say this with a certain bit of shame given that due to busyness, sickness, and a beach weekend, it has not happened for... never mind.  And today is not just laundry day but the Great War of Laundry.  It is me versus the clothes and linens... and I'm not sure who is winning. 

To get matters moving faster, I gave the boys the task of bringing down the dirty clothes from the hampers upstairs and by bringing down, I mean tossing it over the second floor balcony.  It amazes me that every time we do laundry, both boys immediately abandon whatever they are doing an beg to assist me.  I didn't want them to carry the basket of clothes down the stairs so the toss over method evolved and now they actually argue over who gets to toss the clothes over.  I just have to be super aware so the blocks don't start taking the fast route to the wood flooring downstairs too. 

After the collecting phase of the operation was complete, we started the washing phase and the folding lines.  Don't even get me started on the matchless socks occupying a laundry basket; this has been a point of contention between me and Brian as he thinks I should throw away everything that doesn't have a match whereas I know how the kids like to hide things and think just when I throw something out, is when the other will be found.  My sneaking suspicion is though that these matchless socks are breeding and creating more matchless socks because new ones are appearing and they are socks that I have never seen before.  If anyone is missing a white ankle high athletic sock with a blue strip, let me know.  You can have it back. 

It constantly surprises me how much laundry is actually produced by our family of four.  Even though the kids' clothes are small, they make up for it in quantity since I think they sometimes go out and roll directly in dirt.  Hence was my decision last year to try to make my own laundry detergent since even though a bottle isn't horribly expensive, we go through it faster than our current congress is spending money.  Yes, that fast.  My experiment was a success and the $3 of ingredients I used have provided me with detergent since last summer and it smells really good, which is probably the most important point since I have to smell every scent in Bath and Body Works before making a decision. 

But, back to my laundry war:  I was trying to put away the mountains of laundry when I realized I have a slight organizational issue with my closet i.e. there is no organization whatsoever.  So out come everything and now there is laundry, albeit clean, all over every surface in my kitchen, the linen closet is empty, dirty clothes are covering my entry way several inches thick, and my two little "helpers" have disappeared to watch "Peter Pan" for the third time today.  Apparently, what I am doing is that boring to them.  And so, I turn to the computer to blog about it and escape the war for a little R&R before getting entrenched again.  But, I did call Brian at work to warn him that he is about to walk into a combat zone upon his arrival home from the urban jungle.  Fair trade, right?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Beach, Then and Now

We had a fabulous weekend at the beach; the Outer Banks of North Carolina is definitely one of my favorite places!  Growing up in Southern California, I always loved the beach but when we moved to the east coast, I was concerned that I'd never see the ocean.  Happily, I must admit, I was completely wrong since I've now been to the beach several times and while it is a longer drive than before, it is just as fun.  This time though was the first time that we have brought Luke, who at 2 1/2, was beyond thrilled with the waves and building sand castles with Ethan!

The first time I realized how different this trip was going to be was in the car on the way there.  I must confess that I really enjoy road trips and have been wishing for an opportunity to go on a cross country journey.  That trip would take us about three days to get from coast to coast without much stopping.  About an hour and a half into the three hour ride to the beach, I recanted and publicly admitted my gross miscalculation about how enjoyable road trips with children can be.  Luke had discovered that if he said "poop", Ethan would laugh like crazy.  I mean hysterical, roll over, insane asylum type laughter- the type that might make you crazy just listening to it for ten minutes straight, which we did as "poop" was repeated over and over.  Once we got over that, about 45 minutes to our destination (arguing taking place in the meantime between boys), Luke decided to unbuckle his seatbelt so his car seat tipped over as we rounded a bend on the highway.  Apparently, he was bored (and maybe somewhat disappointed that we weren't heading to Disneyland so he decided to create his own thrill ride complete with screaming parents).  So, three days of relaxing cross country sight seeing will not be happening anytime soon.  The airline industry definitely has my business.

When we made it to the beach, I didn't body surf or lay out like I used to; I watched the boys and built a sandcastle which is something I don't think I have done since the fourth grade.  I now think building sandcastles is definitely under-rated.  The giggles as the waves came in and filled up our moat were priceless!  It's funny that the things I used to want to do have changed so dramatically over not too much time.  I used to work on my tan but now I am an obsessive sunscreen girl now that the sun damage horrifically has started to show up just like my mom always said that it would when I refused to put it on.  Oh, the times I pretended not to be sunburned to a lobesteresque degree just to avoid that lecture!  Now, I even wear a hat too and  I feel like I am practically plastering every visible patch of my children's skin with sunscreen.  I realized I was becoming a bit obsessive when I considered putting it on them under their clothes too just in case their rash guards didn't help.  I restrained myself.  But, my good intentions fell short when the wind kept blowing over our umbrella.  Luke tried to hold onto the end of it and giggled as it caught the wind and it blew him down the beach.  Totally reminded me of Mary Poppins when all the nannies get blown away!  My husband, Seth and I took the kids out in the waves instead of body surfing like we used too.  We spent a very long time trying to convince Ethan that it is important to keep one's mouth closed when the wave is coming in since saltwater is really not that enjoyable of a beverage.  It was just a quieter adventure in some ways but really fun and it was so nice to get out and enjoy something that didn't involve cartoon characters or video game remote controllers.  I think the most fun part of our adventure was getting to share something I love with my boys and husband and maybe someday, they'll love it just as much as I do.