Tuesday, December 29, 2009

This Christmas

I feel as though after Christmas, I should write something profound. That our family should have some epiphany type moment, the angels should have blasted their trumpets and choirs ring out. We had no such Christmas. It was good. Pleasant. My kids were something to be reckoned with after all the schedule changes, late nights, sugar doses, and gifts gotten. There was nothing pretty about that. Nothing spectacular...in fact it was a bit on the unfortunate side.
Yet, as I began taking down the Christmas ornaments, wrapping up the decor and packing up the Nativity, I did find a similarity between our Christmas and that of Christ's birth. It was not what was planned. Though it was a great, it was not anything beyond the ordinary and in some cases inconvenient.
I love that Christ came this way. That he arrived in everyday chaos and lived it out. That he can in fact relate to daily life, the inconvenience of being human and dealing with humans.
When I did get some quiet moments to try and reflect on the season, this is what I came up with. And though it isn't exactly a spiritual epiphany or mountain top experience, it was a quiet comfort and I believe God knew I needed that this season. To know my Jesus is alive and with me and completely understands the daily routine of life, the unscheduled events and the unfortunate events. He was after all born outside with the animals, nestled for his naps in a feed trough and carted here and there to escape King Herod. That by far exceeds any bad days I've had and that was just his beginnings...
So here's to Christmas, and a God, a Savior and a Baby who loved us enough to come be with us...in the daily human life.
"The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish." John 1:13 Message

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Livin' the dream

In the spirit of the season, in 2006, when Gavin was a baby, Shawn and I decided to create a tradition that would mean something during the Christmas season. In an effort to teach our kids about giving and serving (which Jesus is the example of the Ultimate Gift and Service) we decided we would buy four bottles of sparkling cider each year and give them to people we saw serving, sacrificing and giving to others. We attach a small note, to let them know of our tradition and letting them know they are appreciated and noticed. We try to pick new people each year and they aren't always people who have served us directly, but just people we know are sharing their lives and what they have. I love this tradition and I get very excited each year to pick our people, load up and go out.
Anyway...this year, I was super excited because Gavin is 3 and I thought he would love this. He loves to give and he loves people. Apparently, he doesn't love it as much when you take him away from his trains to go. Or when you make him go potty before we load up the van. Or when he can't stay at the people's house and play. Oh the drama.
In an effort to make a long story short, a day that was supposed to be teaching our son about giving to others was actually spent in the van hearing him whine about how much he doesn't want to (as in a constant high pitched monologue of everything that he was unhappy about...from the music choice to Brayden looking at him.) No joke. The irony was intense, as was my headache. By the end Brayden had joined in and I had begun to feed them M&Ms I had, one by one to try and keep their mouths shut.
Finally, after we finished lunch (another part of the tradition is to go out to eat afterwards and talk about what we did...not that the kids had earned it, but mom and dad sure had) we loaded up the van once more and Gavin pipes up, "Mom, do we have more cider?"
"No Gav, we're all done."
"Oh, but I want to go out with more cider."
I looked at Shawn about ready to explode...WHAT!?! Are you kidding?
Shawn: "Gav, we're all done until next year."
"But daaaad..."
Shawn: "Another magical Christmas moment."
Holly under her breath to Shawn: "Please tell me there will be a day where our kids will look back and think how cool this was and what a fun family tradition it was. Please."
Shawn: "They will."
I think what he didn't say is that we'd probably be dead.
Upon reflection, I guess that might be okay. If at any point my kids get it, then it was worth it. I can think of quite a few things I whined my way through that I am quite thankful for now (yes mom, I do like knowing how to change my sheets and clean a bathroom...still don't like doing it, but I am glad I can). And maybe someday...though it may be years down the road, we will all have a bottle of cider for someone, all happily sing our carols and all be grateful for the opportunity to honor those who inspire us. Until then, I will dream the dream and do my best to live it...until my kids do too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

And then God fixed our cars!

I am, what some might refer to as a control freak. Now, I'd like to believe this is getting better as years pass. I have learned to talk to God about things and am working hard to trust Him to deal with them. As with many people, money is one area in which I struggle greatly with the challenge God gives us when He says, "Do not worry about tomorrow."
Money is tight for everyone now days and then you add Christmas and it usually gets tighter. I can tend to be a penny-pincher. Definitely on the frugal side and very definitely on the over dramatic side when expenses start to add up. This month expense after expense was adding up and I was just about to go ballistic. Each time something came up I wanted to shout, "Awww, com'on! For real?" These were not expenses I planned, nor were they the type that got you into a vacation spot with palm trees and ocean breeze.
Anyway...one of these expenses was our van. We had to get new tires for it, which made Shawn and I quite grumpy. Seeing as our van was just 2 months old, used, but according to the dealership, all checked out and supposedly everything that wasn't at least running at 60% or above, was replaced. Well, it turns out our tires were so bad that our whole car and steering wheel were shaking and Les Schwab said two were too dangerous to drive on and the other two weren't looking so hot either. Pretty much, not 60% or above.
Shawn wrote a letter into the dealership, explaining what had happen and why he was disappointed in their salesmanship. He included the receipt from Les Schwab and sent it off asking for reimbursement. We pretty much felt it was most likely an exercise in futility, but also felt better by doing it.
Then after we got the van back, we had to take our little Echo in (which it was about time, since it is over 103,000 miles with only new brakes and tires...I really can't complain too much). But as we drove away, I held Shawn's hand and prayed, "Lord...this really is your money and you can do with it what you like. Thank you for your faithfulness and help us to trust You with what you have given us."
About an hour later the dealership calls and talks to Shawn, in the end, offering to reimburse the tires. About two hours after that, the service people call and tell us the total estimate to fix the Echo. It cost $2 less to fix the Echo than the reimbursement for the tires! No joke! God is so good!! He answered a huge prayer in under 3 hours...how cool!
And this is why serving God is so fun and so exciting! You really never know when a miracle is gonna pop up. I am sure they pop up more frequently than I notice. But maybe part of this miracle is having my eyes opened to his graciousness and the gifts He wants to lavish us with.
It reminds me of how excited I am to give Gavin and Brayden their presents...to watch them open them, to see the light in their eyes, and to know I have pleased them. It is confounding that the God of the universe loves us in this way. That His heart flutters at my excitement over free new tires. That He is happy when I am happy. That He longs to show us just how much He loves us. As though sending His Son, Jesus, wasn't enough, He continues to pour out His love and fixes our cars to boot!
Thank you Father God, for taking such tremendous care of us!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Naptime...whose time is it anyway?

So...Brayden fell asleep while out on errands today. I look in the review and see the head to the side, eyes closed and panic sets in. "No, no, no! Wake up Bray! Brady! Look...I see a garbage truck...LOOK BRAY!" No movement. Nothin'.
I proceed to turn up the music and stretch my hand back to wiggle his foot as best I can. Still...out like a light! SHOOT!
It wouldn't have been that big a deal, if we were going home, but we weren't. We still had to stop at Shawn's school to deliver the gifts Gavin had made for the office staff. I had promised him. As is, I pulled up to the school and I notice tons of cars pulling in and look up to see the reader board alerting me, "Holiday Concert 1:15." I look down at the clock...1:10. Oh sheesh!
So, out we go, waking up Brayden and hoping upon hope, that we can even find daddy. We do. He's busy. We try to deliver some of our gifts without being too much of a nuisance. Invited to the concert, I take the boys thinking maybe it'll wear Brayden down again. It's a no go. After one song and a bike give away, Gavin is doin' the potty dance and Brayden is trying to escape.
Back through the office and to the van. Gavin looks ready to fall on his face, though he is insisting "I no need a night night." Brayden, he looks ready to take on the world. UGH!
So, here I sit in the office, attempting to ignore the thump thump thump of Brayden in the pack and play and an occasional "Maaaaama!" at the other end of the house. I don't want him to be awake. This is not the day I was supposed to have. This time is mine. Mine, mine, mine!
The books say sleep is important to children. It helps them to function and behave better. The reality is, their sleep time helps me to function and behave better. I am not sure what to do, I'm considering earplugs...because if a child is in the other room supposedly napping and no one is around to hear him...he must be napping, right?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent

We have this amazing Advent book, we bought for our family last year. It's actually called "The Advent Book." It is hardbound, with boardbook pages that have a door on each page, for each day of Advent. Each door opens to reveal a picture and Scripture to tell the Nativity story. The illustrations are BEAUTIFUL! I love it. It is the beginning of a tradition for our family and I cannot wait to hand the book down.

Anyway...Gavin loves to do Advent. (We tried with Brayden, but the minute we lit the candle, he began trying to blow it out and kept blowing all through our reading. Well...we figured by the time we got to day 10, he'd probably hyperventilate and decided next year we'd let him stay up for it.) Gavin, always wants to read ahead and loves to open the doors. Sadly, he's not that into the actual story of Christ's birth.

It's a challenge...the Advent season. We want our children to know it's about Jesus. We want the true meaning of Christmas to be in their hearts and lives. We also want them to have a childhood full of wonder, imagination and tradition. We want them to decorate, enjoy lights and cookies. And as I watch Gavin set up the Nativity with Mary, Joseph, Jesus and Lightening McQueen, I think of what a challenge it is going to be to raise children to be "In the world, but not of the world." I can't convince Gavin that Lightening McQueen needs to go and that the wise men are not for using as "Yuckies" to dump out of the garbage truck. These are holy figures kid!

It's moments like these where I am once again forced to recognize my inadequacies as a mom. I realize I have very little idea what I am doing or how to do it. I am just praying that God will give me wisdom and doing my best to point to Him and that someday, my kids will do the same.
But it's also in these moments, where I look at the baby sitting next to Lightening McQueen and am reminded of what a great Gift Giver we serve. How amazingly big and gracious is our God. Willing to send His Son. Willing to offer His child. Willing to love and love and love some more.

With a God like that leading the way, parenting doesn't seem quite as scary and I am not so worried about Lightening joining the Nativity. Because if God sent His son for my sons, surely he'll help me raise them too and no little red race car will get in the way.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Our Shepherd


Here is Gavin in his shepherd's outfit at our Christmas program practice. You have to take pictures then...because you never know if you'll get the real deal come performance time.

The Nativity...Ryan Style

So...here is what happens when you put Gavin in charge of setting up the Nativity scene on the side table. Note: McQueen and Mater up front...the headless angel (which was why we ended up getting him his other plastic Nativity) hiding back behind the shepherd. He apparently took me seriously when I told him Jesus is for everyone. "Mom, Mater and Jesus are friends too!"

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The "fit"

Yesterday, we were driving home from Gavin's "Cubbies" program and Gavin announces, "I don't want to go home and take a night night, I want to watch a show and have a snack."
"Gavin, it's way past bedtime. We are going home to go night night."
I hear a mumbled, "No". I choose to ignore it. It grows louder, "NO." Still ignoring. Then I proceed to hear Gavin grunting and twisting and attempting to throw a fit in his car seat. It was hilarious. You'd hear "Argh!" "Ummmph" "Errrr" accompanied by harsh twists and punches to the arm rests. Oh the drama.
I sang along with the Christmas carols, pretending not to hear him, all the while trying so hard to keep from laughing. Why the child thought throwing a fit while sitting in a restraining device was a great plan, I'm not sure...I'll chalk it up to being three. When his dramatics did not produce the desired effect, he proceeded to throw a toy on the ground. And then another. Finally, due to lack of participation on my part Gavin declares,
"Moooom, I'm throwing a fit." At least he was trying to. It was the weakest fit I've ever seen, but the effort was good.
"Yes, I know. And if you continue, you'll be punished when you get home and go straight to bed."
"Hmph." Silence.
"Mom, I'm done. Maybe I'll just have a snack and take a night night, that'd be good?"
Apparently, when desired drama doesn't work we move straight to negotiation.
"Maybe Gavin. We'll ask Dad."
I move straight to passing the buck.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Seasonal stuff

The boys in their Christmas Pajamas I made them. You can't really tell, but Brady's say "Ho! Ho! Ho!" and Gav's say "Jingle Bells." Their pretty fun!
We went for a walk down the block in the cold to see the Goose. There is this little stone goose at a house down the street, of which the owner dresses up for each season. It was fully decked out as a reindeer, brown outfit, red nose, antlers and all. Brayden LOVES to walk out to the goose!

Their happened to be a large county digger parked for the weekend. We took advantage to check it out a bit!

Hide and Seek

Yes, it totally looks like my kids have their noses to the wall...but I promise, they chose to! It's hide and seek Ryan style and they love it. Bray is especially fond of counting, "Un, Oooh, EEEENNNNN" and then running out to seek, muttering "nooo, nooo, nooo" like his mom does when she "looks" for the boys. Gavin loves to hide. He especially likes to hide just where you last hid. It makes it even harder to pretend you don't know where he is.
Bray is getting better at hiding and staying put. He's very quiet and will sit right where you put him, but he is a very big fan of poking his head out to check if anyone is coming. Purpose defeated.
All in all, it's hilarious to play with these two. They love it and that is what matters. I am looking forward to the day they really get into it and stay hidden for awhile. Maybe I can fold a load of laundry while I "look" for them!

Monday, December 7, 2009

The lights

Gavin helped with the decorating this year. Brayden was there...trying to help, but fittingly, we have dubbed him "destructor," and this is mostly what his efforts caused. Here are some pics of our efforts.

Gavin and Dad putting up the outside lights.

Brayden occupied by the tricycle didn't cause too many problems outside.Gavin's job during tree lighting was holding the lights...he did great!
Gavin's first time placing the star on top, (there was some adjusting afterward, but he tried)!

Thankful

Thanksgiving at the Faraone's...trying to get all the cousins to cooperate...not successful!
My super cute neice ashton and all her hair!
Our traditional preThanksgiving meal with our good friends the Shurtleffs!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Vacation?

Being a school teacher has it's perks. Shawn gets 5 days off at Thanksgiving. Woo-hoo! I was so excited. After the car accident, Brayden not feeling well and general mayhem, I was looking forward to some reinforcements.
Well, things went okay. Not exactly according to plan. Thanksgiving itself was chaotic but nice. Family and friends just tend to be that way. Friday we started Christmas decorating...again chaos. Introducing tons of untouchables to two toddlers makes for a tiring day. We did have my in-laws over for games, which was fun. But by bedtime, we were pooped. It was around midnight when I heard the crying...
Gavin was sitting on his bed wailing and upon closer look, he was sitting in a pile of vomit. The pillow we just threw out and then the cleaning began. We just about had it all taken care of when my little man says, "Uh oh, Mom. I hurt my stomaaaaathhhpt!" and threw up on himself and the carpet. Round two.
So from there on out, he had the puke bowl and I slept (or pretended to sleep) next to him the rest of the night, waking up about 4 times to watch my three year old's tiny body wrack with dry heaves. It's agonizing. He was a trooper. By 5:30 we were done and about 8 am the family was up. Daddy was sick. Gavin was not doin' so hot and Bray was just whiny.
At nap time, it was Bray's turn to puke. Macaroni in the pack n play. We found him playing with it. Beyond gross. (It will be a good long while before I serve mac n cheese.) Unfortunately, Brayden did not grasp the concept of a puke bucket. However, he did manage to nail a few wisemen and Joseph with the yuckiness. (Oh and his mom as well...at least it gave me an excuse to finally get in the shower).
Sunday, I am happy to say, saw us all doing better and having slept at least 10 hours each. We stayed home from church and just vegged as a family. Brayden sat on laps all day and snuggled (this is unheard of from our little bundle of activity) and Gavin joined mom in bed for an early nap (again, unheard of for our little guys...they usually think our bed is a trampoline or wrestling mat). Later in the day, Gavin and mom did some errands and had a date at Starbucks where we discussed what to get everyone for Christmas. Gav is pretty sure everyone wants trains, but I'm working to help him broaden the scope and at least ask what people want. (He promptly went home to ask his dad and reported back that dad wants an audi...I hope Gavin comes into some money soon).
We spent the night with the boys hanging up lights and putting up the tree. And ended our day together reading books by tree light and enjoy some family time.
I have to say...it wasn't as planned, but Sunday made the weekend worth while. If it takes a little bit of flu to slow us down, snuggle, go on dates and just hang out as a family, then it's worth it. However I am hoping I learned the lesson and next time we will make days like Sunday a priority without the none to gentle reminder!

"Sharing Jesus"

So we were in the bookstore the other day and Gavin runs up to me..."Can I play with Jesus, Mom?" I look around and spot a little people Nativity Scene and tell Gavin..."Sure". That's great, my kid wants to play with Jesus, awesome!
Shawn and I see how into the set the kids are and noting that it is not breakable as our other set is, we decide to get it for them. Gavin, super excited carried his box out to the car and informs us.
"I'm taking Jesus home."
Shawn replies, "Well, when you get home you have to share Jesus with Brayden."
Gavin: "I don't want to share Jesus."
Mom (getting all metaphorical): You HAVE to share Jesus. Jesus is everyone's friend and you have to share him with anyone who wants to play with him.
Gavin: "No mom, Brayden can have the donkey."
Mom: "You have to share Jesus Gavin."
Gavin: "Okay, but I get Jesus first and you're the donkey.

Lesson learned...do not discuss theological metaphors about Jesus with a three year old. You'll end up being the ass.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Accident

Accident: an unfortunate mishap; especially one causing damage or injury

That's right...mommy got in an accident. Definitely unfortunate, definitely had damage...fortunately the injuries were minor. (No airbags, everyone was walking and talking).

Last night on the way home from the doctors (again), I didn't catch onto the slowing traffic soon enough and rear ended a car in front of me. BUMMER! I actually thought I was going to stop soon enough, but no, there was a tap that scratched their bumper and moved my bumper and hood back into places they do not belong.
No one was injured (well, I am sore today and the other folks may be too, but really...nothing serious). But I nearly lost it. This was not supposed to be my Tuesday night. I was not supposed to have to take Brayden to the doctor, I wasn't supposed to have the pharmacy call and say they didn't get the fax for his meds., I wasn't supposed to crunch my new van!!!
It was an accident. Shawn was awesome about it. Brayden was fine. We do actually have the money to cover our deductible. We have another car and Shawn is off for the next few days, so we don't need a rental.
I can name blessing after blessing that God has given us, but for some reason every time I think about the accident I get so angry, as though for some reason I should be entitled to a life with no accidents, no problems and no frustrations! I know in my head that in the scheme of things this is nothing. My son is okay and we are going to be fine. I know many families who are dealing with so much more right now. More than anything, I am frustrated that I cannot shake the irritation over this, because I know I am one of the fortunate ones!
In all this I have been praying for an attitude change. That though there may have been an accident, my attitude choice would be on purpose. May I learn to be grateful in this for what I do have. May I learn the meaning of Thanksgiving, not paying lip service to the holiday, but making it a heart attitude. May I remember the words of the Bible and live out my faith...
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Amidst the busy

Holidays are approaching and time is already escaping me. I am not quite sure where it goes, but somehow the days are packed. I love being busy, but this is ridiculous. Shawn and I have been handing off the kids, giving each other a kiss and yelling "catcha later" as we pass through the door by each other. We are working to slow it down and I hope the time comes soon.
In the midst of the craziness, I have noticed Gavin's tantrums have increased and I have had multiple lovely episodes of him falling to the floor, yelling "No" and defiantely running away from me. It's pretty impressive the drama he presents. Slightly amusing...if you aren't his parent.
Brayden has been sick for two weeks (double ear infection that I caught way late), along with me. Though we are both on the upswing, this has turned him into a cuddle bug. I hope it hangs around a bit. It's really nice to have someone willing to give snuggles when you need them. On the flip side, he was also given to mood swings. With his current form of communication being screaming at the top of his lungs with his hands clenched for both happy and mad,we have had a great deal of high pitched squealing. Gavin's response to this is screaming back "No screaming Bray Bray!" Hmmmm? In an effort to teach Gavin the proper response, I am encouraging him to say, "No thank you, Brayden." He does use no thank you now, but I am afraid it is at a decibel that matches Brayden's.
Sweet moments amidst the chaos have occured and I am trying to savor them. Gavin is contiuing to prove the encourager of the family. He congratulates Shawn and I when we finish our plates of food and he gives Brayden pats and "Good Jobs" when he learns something new. He is constantly trying to teach Brayden words and if Brayden even gets close in mimicing him, Gavin runs to tell me the new word he said. Gavin is also ready to reward Shawn and I if we go potty and always proud of Shawn's stinky poo poo. Thoughtful, huh?
We still get great catch phrases from Gavin,
-"Mom, stop at the cards, we need to buy a birthday card for Jesus."
-After his friend Koen adopted a sister from China, "Oh, Daddy's going on an airplane. Gavy go to and get a sister with him."
-After going to the post office to see about mailing something to our friends in India. "Can we go to India."
"Maybe someday, Gavin."
"Okay, Mom, we'll go in three sleeps. That'll be good, right?"
Brayden is just fun right now. He is so excitable and so helpful. He loves to get people's things for them. He often brings Gavin his blanket, Shawn his ipod and me, my books. If you love it, he wants you to have it (even if he's not supposed to touch it...ie, the ipod, my books, my coffee). He is quite the charmer and has learned to give hugs and kisses, when asked. It's great!
We're having fun, but missing the family time, we so enjoy. Hopefully, we can slow down a bit. We are trying to be careful with our schedules, but also live life to the fullest...it's a careful balance.
On that note...someone is doing the hurt cry in the next room and I need to get us out the door.
Off we go...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Today

Today, we were running late. No one wanted to get up, get dressed or get going. Today I could not get the CD player to work in the van and Gavin did not understand and would not stop asking for it to be louder. Today my son had a huge melt down at church over a pack of fruit snacks, in front of many moms, and a timeout for disobeying me continually. Today I forgot my coat and there was a torrential downpour that occurred, right when leaving church. The kids fell asleep in the car and Gavin woke up coming inside and cried about everything from taking his shoes off to reading a story, until he finally crawled into bed. Today the kids woke up early. Gavin cried over everything and I mean everything...from there on out. Brayden got into everything while I dealt with the crier. Today my living room floor was covered. Blankets, toys, kitchen utensils...covered.
Today I tried to run errands and thought I would pee my pants because I didn't want to take the kids into a public restroom if not necessary. Today I wiped my nose and Brayden's nose more times than I can count and told Gavin to use a big boy voice more times than I wiped both of our noses combined.
Today Gavin continued to make his brother irate, by slamming his garbage truck into Brayden's dump truck. Today I confiscated the garbage truck and endured a monumental tantrum all through my dinner preparation. Today, while throwing a tantrum, Gavin fell off a chair onto his head and elbow and cried twice as hard as he did for the tantrum. Today Gavin ran to me in tears, stood at my leg and peed all over the floor by my foot.
Today, I tripped over two toys, while holding a pee soaked three year old, on the way to the bathtub. I wrestled two kids through a bath and listened to the microwave timer continue to beep, reminding me dinner was done, but I wasn't going to get to eat it for a good while. Today, I finally sat down to go to the bathroom, looked around at my soaking bathroom floor, covered in pee soaked clothes, a removed diaper, a wet towel and toilet paper Brayden had managed to unravel and spread throughout and I just laughed out loud. Today my husband stopped by the bathroom to ask me if I was okay.
Today I'm okay. I made it. I'm okay.
But I have to admit, I am hoping for a slightly better tomorrow.
"Though sorrows may last for a night, joy comes in the morning!"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A proud mom

So, in the last few months, we have had the boys getting various shots at the doctor's office. It's been a bummer and now Gavin is very aware, when we get to the building, there is potential for a shot. On Monday, we had appts. for me and the boys to get the H1N1. Gavin's asthma puts him at great risk, so I bucked up and decided to go in. As we turned in, Gavin says, "Mama, I don't want a shot. Are we getting shots?"
Well, I wasn't going to lie to him. So, I tried to avoid directly answering and gave him all sorts of lines...."Shots can keep you from getting sick." "You're so brave, they don't hurt too bad." So on and so forth. He didn't buy any of it and started crying. Finally, I calmed him down, distracted him and got him into the building. We sat in his Mimi's office (fortunately my mom works there, so at least we don't have to wait in the waiting room and can play with her for a bit...a small perk). Our names got called. I went first. And then came the breakdown.
"NOOOO mamaaaaaaaa!!!!"
I had my mom take Brayden out and it took me and another nurse to hold Gavin down to get one quick prick in the leg. He was so sad and in hysterics. Screaming at the top of his lungs...you would have thought we were breaking his leg instead of giving it a small pinch. I was sad for him, but held it together. When it was all done, he was still sobbing and mom brought Brayden back in for his turn and lifted Gavin to take him out for his lollipop. On the way out, with giant sobs and shaking breath, Gavin says,
"Don't worry Bray, it's okay. It's okay Bray, don't be sad. Be brave, don't be sad."
That's when I started to tear up. My precious boy, amidst his suffering was looking out for his brother! What an encourager and a trooper. I couldn't have been more proud of him if he sat there stoically and took the shot.
I am still so proud and I hope that I too, in the midst of my trials will make an effort to encourage those around me and look beyond myself. Way to go Gavy!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sweet boy



Yesterday, we went to a retirement home with some friends and their children to deliver cards and cookies to the residents. The kids were in their costumes and Gavin tromped from room to room with salutations,
"I'm Gavin. I'm a farmer. Brayden's a CHICKEN! What's your name?"
"Happy Halloween."
He LOVED it. He happily went on his way, chatting it up with the residents and looking at me to make sure he handed out his cards if the people didn't get one from another child. He was quite disappointed when he ran out of cards and even took some of Brayden's when Brayden got sidetracked.
I was honestly a tad surprised to see him do so well. I guess I was expecting a bit more hesitation, but I am learning Gavin is quite the people person and very good one on one. He loves to talk with people, likes to find out "how you doing?" and loves to share the news he learns. He is sweet and sincere in his care of "his people" and genuinely enjoys meeting new friends.
It is fun to see this little personality emerge and it challenges me to find ways to grow this sweet spirit I see developing. I want to find ways for him to use his gifts and share his heart with those around him, since he seems so excited to do so. But it is hard to explain to a three year old that we can't buy trains for every person we go visit (this is his new suggestion everytime we go see a friend) and mommy doesn't always have cookies on hand to share. We'll figure it out, though.
Towards the end of our time at the retirement home, Gavin went to an elderly lady who was trying to coax Brayden over (my chicken had gone wild at this point) and Gavin took her hand. They chatted for a bit and then he leaned in to hug her and said, "I love you." The woman started to cry and whispered "I love you too." It was so simple and so refreshing and I was so proud of my little boy. I hope his heart stays this compassionate, I am going to look for opportunities to make it so!
Thank you Lord, for reminding me how sweet parenting can be!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

The candles help

It's fall, it's raining. I love the fall. I love the leaves. I love cider, candles and turning up the heater. I do not love trying to figure out what the heck to do with the kids now that the outdoors is a wet, wet playground waiting to dampen and muddy my children and add to the ever growing piles of laundry I already loathe!
I have a hard time taking them places...Brayden is too little for most the places Gavin can go. He's too loud and rowdy for a library. Wants to follow Gavin into the playspace at McDonalds, but then gets stuck. (I once had to get Gavin out, while I was pregnant...go ahead, picture this and laugh. I swore to never go up there again.) The mall play area is a madhouse and germ infestation. Sometimes we go to the children's museum, with our pass, but it is very hard for me to keep an eye on both the kids at the same time! Brayden is quite the escape artist and his obedience level is nil when he hears "Come, here" or "Stay here".
SO...I light the candles, turn up the heat and watch my house become a playground. Toys seem to occupy much less time, when we play with them everyday and creative projects I have learned, take about 10 minutes to set up, 20 minutes to clean up and 3 minutes to do. No one seems to want to read the same books and both boys are becoming far more needy of individual attention. It's exhausting. And if I attempt to call a friend for some adult conversation or even to just make sure the same events are occuring in another house...this is when the riding toys get pulled out and I see Gavin on an inch worm and Brayden on an airplane as they fly by to race them down the hall. It is SOOO loud as they roar back and forth down the hall and SLAM into the end of the hall or each other. This is usually accompanied by squeals of laughter or shreiks of anger, because someone has blocked or slammed into someone else. At this point, I hide in the laundry room just long enough to tell my friend, I have to go and sequester said riding toys before someone gets hurt.
My patience, creativity and tolerance are all being tested during this fall season. I try to remind myself, the boy's are being tested as well. They are having to learn to better share space, share toys, be creative, and play quietly. It's a lot to learn for all of us.
In the end, I think we are learning, but man alive, it is a tiring process. The growing pains are in fact painful and the days are quite long. We'll survive though. And we will enjoy the changing leaves and apple cider along the way. Oh and we'll light lots of candles, because even if it's a false sense of calm, I think the candles help.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Am I done?

This morning I hear, "Mommy, I need to go potty." The only time Gavin ever says he has to go potty is when he's gone in his pants. Pretty much, what he means is "Mommy, I already went potty!"
He pooped in his underwear...again! In lieu of an over share, let's just say it was the kind that makes you throw the underwear away. So, we sat him on the toilet to finish. (Am I supposed to be pleased that at least he stops and does the rest on the toilet? I am not sure.) I was so frustrated and I have tried so many things to help him understand that this is NOT okay. SO MANY!!! Instead of succumbing to the overwhelming urge of completely freaking out and giving a 15 minute lecture, accompanied some sort of horrid punishment to my three year old, I finally, just got him dressed and sat him on top of the toilet seat to "Think about where the poo-poo goes."
I then proceeded to stomp around the house thinking about ways to explain, enforce and ensure that the poo-poo does in fact, end up in the potty. After the clean up session, I slammed the washing machine shut, washed my hands and headed back, still not sure of my plan, but ready to do battle. Then I rounded the corner and saw Gavin. Sitting on the toilet, bedhead in full force, tractor shirt with wet spots from washing his hands, swinging his bare feet back and forth and singing a song to himself. He looked up with his wide innocent eyes, "Umm, are you done mom?"
Am I done? Yes, I guess this is about me...this child knows me too well. He was done the minute he finished going potty. In his three year old mind, it was over long ago. Me? I need 15 minutes of stomping around the house and what did it get me? It got me a three year old who isn't sitting there thinking about where potty goes, but instead thinking he has to wait out his mom's tirade. Awesome.
"Yes, I am done Gavin."
We still had a discussion about where the potty goes. And to be honest...most days it does go in the potty. If I remind him, because he still needs help. And when I picture my sweet boy with his bed head sitting there looking up at me, knowing me well enough to sit quietly singing, while he waits for mommy to cool down, I am thankful he still needs me. Even if it is to remind him the pop-poo goes in the potty and to take him screaming and kicking all the way there to try.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Go Fish Guys

"Great music that won't make parents bonkers"...a worthy goal!

So, when I was a Children's Director, I went to a Chilcren's Pastor's conference in San Diego and heard this group sing named, "Go Fish". I loved them. Bought their CDs for each Preschool classroom and even listened to them in my office (much to the mockery of my beloved co-worker Ryan...who I believe secretly liked them but wouldn't admit it or wouldn't listen long enough to admit it). I LOVED them.
We have the two CDs for my kids and the other night at a friend's house, her husband was all excited to share with us some great new kids music they found...music he loved. Go Fish! They had new CDs out!!! The best part...if you bought one for $15 dollars, you could buy as many more as you wanted for only $5 and get free shipping....
This is a dream come true for people like me (frugal, cheapskate, whatever you want to name it)! I was so excited. I got Christmas presents for my neice and nephew (CARMEN and BRYNNE...no buying these CDs). And I got our own family some new CDs.
Seriously, this music is so fun to listen to and it's got great lyrics...some Bible, some kids songs you already know, but done in a non-annoying way, and some new. They are great. And they try to make their music affordable by counting on mom's to advertise for them.
I am doing my part. I recommend them whole heartedly and thank God for them frequently on car trips. Well done good and faithful Go Fish guys!!!
http://www.gofishguys.com/cms

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Onto something

New things are happening at the Ryan's. Gavin is now afraid of monsters and penguins. He wakes up and says one or the other is there and scary. We have no idea where the monsters came from, but we are fairly sure the penguins were from a video. Either way, it's frustrating to try and convince an illogical three year old there are no scary penguins in his room at 3am.
Brayden has dropped his morning nap (mostly). He gets pooped by 11:30, but is usually quite the trooper and makes it until 1, so mommy can have the boys down together. I miss the morning nap terribly, but I am pretty sure Brayden is just fine with more play time and less down time. Sometimes I still try to give him the morning nap and it works, other times he happily chats to himself and yells "mama" whenever he hears someone walk by his door. I usually get him after 20 minutes of this...and try not to lament the loss of my time alone.
The newest and greatest as of late is (no, not the minivan) the fact that Gavin and Brayden are playing together now. They play trucks together, they play trains together, they ride their riding toys together and you frequently hear laughter in the process. It's amazing.
Gavin is fully embracing his big brother role. He loves to boss Brayden and you can often here him yelling, "Mama, Brayden's doing something." It's handy and obnoxious all at the same time. Gavin also likes to pick out toys for Brayden (probably so he can have the ones he wants, but I like to believe it's out of genuine kindness) and make sure he's occupied. He'll tell me to "set the timer" when Brayden has a toy he wants, because he needs his turn "soon". He has also become very good at holding Brayden's hand in parking lots and driveways and walking Brady where he needs to go (I will admit he likes to tell me, "Mom, it's your turn to hold him").
I am not sure exactly what the "Little brother" role is, but Brayden is fairly independent. He will happily get himself involved in an activity, but wants to be close by Gavin most the time. If Gavin is involved in something Brayden likes, Bray jumps right in (or on, in cases like the trains...this causes some problems). He will run to find Gavin if I ask where brother is and scream in delight (and I mean scream...to the point people on the phone think an injury occured...but it's just his "happy"). I will say, he definitely does not understand why he can't do big boy things and I believe is already pretty sure that life isn't fair. But mostly, you can tell he loves his brother.
All in all, it has been a relief. Do we still struggle with sharing? FOR SURE! Do we still scream when someone touches another "special toy"? You betcha! But in between I am hearing,
"Bray Bray, come here. I've somesing to show you."
"Bray Bray, here's your plane, let's ride!"
"Bray Bray, comeon!"
"Mom, what's Bray doing?...Oh, I'll find him!"
All of these usually met by screams of delight.
I'll take it. I'll take the screaming, I'll take the timer setting, I'll take the refereeing. Because for the moment, my boys are more than brothers, thet're friends. They are onto something...I pray diligently it remains!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A real update

Somewhere there is time to catch up, but I have not found it. I am not sure where all the time has gone, especially since I am no longer watching Logan (his daddy got laid off, therefore so did I) and I thought I would have so much more time to do things. Instead the boys and I have seemed to fill it up!
We are really doing quite well overall.
Gavin is really starting to hold down longer conversations, which are both insightful and laughable. He loves to talk (much like his mom) and we are working hard on "the interrupt rule". He tells jokes, can tell you lots of Bible verses he is learning in Cubbies (accompanied by the over-dramatic hand gestures I have added to the verses to help him...it is awfully cute). He loves to talk on the phone (again like mom) and frequently asks to call friends. He has figured out what a "favorite" is and his are: movie store, garbage trucks, teacher tami, koen and isaac. Gavin has taken to his big brother role lately, encouraging Brayden with "Good job!" and "Can you say ____? Come on Bray Bray, let's try." It is sweet and we are very much trying to encourage this behavior in him. (Especially since the other option is usually fighting.)
He is pretty much potty trained...but still not liking it. We have also entered a whole new level of willfulness and tantrum throwing. He definitely has bumped it up a notch and will defiantly look me in the eye and say "NO!". Therefore, there are a lot more time outs and punishments doled out lately. But overall, he is a hugging, loving, encouraging little boy who wants to please!
Brayden is our stout little bundle of joy. He is so full of laughter and loves to find ways to make you smile. His vocabulary is growing, as is his independence. He wants to do things himself and shouts with glee when he does something new. He also likes to try things that are not for him...currently his favorites are the ipod and dvd player. He will go for it, looking directly at you to see if the punishment is still the same and run away smiling if you come at him. He knows exactly what he is doing and it is so hard not to laugh as he is taught his lesson. I have a feeling, the older he gets, the less funny this will become.
Brayden loves his walking toy that is an airplane. He would push it around the house all day if we let him. He also loves to hide things in the seat of the airplane (it lifts up and has a little storage space for some shape blocks that came with it). We have found blankies, cell phones and milk cups in here on various occasions. If it is important to him, this is the first place he tends to put things. He takes his airplane and airplane cubbie very seriously and gets quite irritated when anyone tries to put it away or consider removing his treasures from the cubbie.
Brayden loves his brother and they are finally starting to play together a bit. This has been fun to watch, even if it only lasts three minutes. The laughter is priceless. The arguments, not so much. But overall, they are starting to act like friends and I am praying for ways to foster this!
Shawn is still working at Discovery and enjoying himself. He is an amazing dad and I am so grateful for the time he takes to teach and play with our boys. He has dedicated every Saturday morning to taking one of the boys swimming. This is their special time with daddy and they love it! Dad is definitely the "fun guy" around here, but he is also the one you don't mess with. Our sons really are blessed to have this man and so am I!
Shawn recently negotiated for us to get a van! He did such a great job and got us a 2004 Toyota sienna with only 38,000 miles on it. The best part is, he is not ashamed to drive it and is so excited (I think he was a bit tired of cramming his 6'2 frame into a Toyota echo)! So we are officially one of those families...but we are happy about it. I am already getting used to being called a soccer mom, however neither of my kids play soccer. We'll see.
Me? I am enjoying this season of life, minivan and all. There are many challenges to this season for Shawn, me and the boys, but if I can step back for the perspective, I know this is a season I will miss terribly, once it has passed. Even though both the boys are in a definite period of pushing boundaries, exerting their will, and challenging authority, they still think I am number one and look to me for security, love and assurance. I wouldn't trade it. I will admit there are days I have to remind myself to enjoy it, but I am glad to be here.
So that is about it on the Ryan front. A real update. Probably outdated by tomorrow, but current for the time being!

Friday, October 2, 2009

RE-entry

DAY 1: A tray filled with rice for Gavin's diggers to play with is spilled all over the floor. Rice kernals were everywhere...everywhere!
Re-entry into mothering after 5 days off is harsh!
I went to a MOPS (Mother's of Preschoolers) conference in Nashville, TN and had a wonderful time. Five days with some great ladies and being responsible only for myself (well...unless you count some airport screw-ups...but that is another long story). Anyway...I loved it. Not only did God use the time to build friendships and help me grow, but He also told me to rest. I am NOT a rester. But I did. I took time to breathe, be refreshed and be poured into.
And then I came home.
Before I start in, I need to make sure to clear my husband of any false charges. My husband...who, by the way, is a superhero, ended up quite sick while I was gone and stayed home from work, with the boys. He sounded awful every time I talked to him, but always was positive and encouraging me to enjoy my time. He really is a wonderful man...and much less of a pouter than I am. I believe I would not have been so gracious, under the circumstances. (He even changed the sheets and had the laundry done when I arrived...yes, he's that good.)
So why the harsh re-entry? My three year old challenges every request I have of him. He runs from me, throws himself on the ground and hucks things across the room. (Some of you who know him may not believe this, but it's true...and it's aggravating). I am not sure what to do with him. I feel like I am continually on his case! I am looking for things to praise, but unless you count peeing on the wood floor instead of the carpet, I have nothing to offer at this point.
It's been hard. I want to praise him. I want good for him. I tell him this over and over. I tell him I love him. I tell him my heart is sad when he's sad, but to no avail. I have spent extra time with just him, but still...he finds something to be contrary about. The whining is non stop and the high pitch crying has me considering duct tape as a parenting tool.
Beyond that...the kids have taken to trailing toys about the house and are NOT listening when I ask them to put them away. They are also quite into throwing every pillow off the couch and rearranging the kitchen chairs. I don't know why they think this is okay...but they are not on HGTV and I am not going to follow after their redecorating techniques to rearrange everything 14 times a day. It's getting old. And neither of them listens, no matter how often I make them put things back. ARGH!
Oh, and did I mention there was no food left in the house and no time to get to the store...talk about creative cooking! Even Martha would have been proud of what I pulled together this week so that we could survive.
The break was needed, because I don't know if my last nerve would have made it through this week without the regrouping session. However, next time I go away, I may need to have some sort of counselor set up for the re-entry into Motherhood. After having a maid service, food purchased, peeing all alone and spending my time and money on me...all I can say is, it's a good thing I think their cute!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Beautiful Mess

I mess up. As a mom, I punish when grace is required and cave when accountability is needed. As a friend, I give advice when listening is the answer and frequently act without thought. As a wife I nag instead of letting God refine my husband and am flippant when respect is needed. As a follower of Jesus, I serve withoutasking who God wants me to serve and head down paths without asking where He wants me to go. As a women in this world, I lose sight of priorities. I am a mess.
As mom's, friend's, wives and women, we all know our faults. Most of us could give you a good long list in under two minutes...a very extensive and detailed list. Some of the list would be reasonable and some of it would be from expectations placed on us by society, but either way, we live with the list running through our heads daily.
The last few days, God has been reminding me of how He sees me...as a kid. His kid. A kid that He loves. When milk is spilled and fits are thrown in public. When He asks me to obey and I yell, "I don't want to!". When I hit a brother or a friend. He loves me. When I run into the street, focused only on the ball and not the oncoming car...His heart jumps into his chest. It doesn't matter what I've done or what I am doing. He loves me. Sure, I am gonna get my time outs now and then and some serious lectures, but still...he sees me and calls me to be His little princess.
He knows the mess I make of things. He is working to help me clean it up. But that doesn't stop Him from loving me and seeing me as His beautiful child that He loved from day one. It wasn't audible, but I am pretty sure this weekend, I heard God whisper..."You are a mess, I know that...but you are loved and you are beautiful child." I took great comfort in this. Because if I am going to be a mess at least I am His beautiful mess.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mom guilt

So, I am going to Tennessee for 5 days...leaving tomorrow morning at 6am and returning Sunday night at 9:20pm. I am headed to a MOPS convention, with four friends from church and I believe it is going to be a fun time! (I am not huge on lots of estrogen in one room, but fortunately these ladies are not super flowery, high maintenance and I really believe we will have a good time.)
Anyway...in order to get away, it seems the work load has doubled. Making sure the laundry is done, the boys have been bathed, the baby-sitting is lined up, the thank yous for the sitters written, the lunches packed, the bags packed for each day, the directions written out for sitters, the house cleaned up, the dishes cleaned ...and on it goes. Of course, each time I accomplish a task, it seems to be undermined by someone or something under the height of three feet. The bathroom gets cleaned then promptly trashed by toothpaste. The laundry gets done, then someone spills and another one wets his pants. Generally making sure the house is ready so re-entry won't be so hard and also trying to pack myself. (How one packs for 86 degrees with thundershowers outside and 72 degrees air conditioning inside, I am not sure, because those are completely different outfits in my mind....argh and I hate to overpack...more to unpack upon returning). I am also wanting to spend some time with the boys before I go...that is fun and not task oriented!
Now, my husband is completely capable and has said he will take care of it...and I know he will, but I also know, there is this thing called "mom guilt" that husbands just don't have. The feeling, that for some reason, they may not know how to live life without us and if we leave the family to do something for ourselves, we must in fact have to pay someway or somehow for going. And so we go about trying to do everything we do in a week in a day instead, trying to make it seem as though we won't even be gone. (Never crossing our minds, that maybe they need a break from us too.)
Anyway...that's where I am at today. Trying to fight off the mom guilt and just make it to 4am until I get picked up to catch my plane. And then, I will take in five whole days going to the bathroom when I want to, concerning myself with only my nutrition, turning over the sign that says "cleaning service" on the door handle, and sleeping in past 6am! I know I will be ready to see my kids, probably before the 5 days are up, but at the same time...boy oh boy am I looking forward to holding that "cleaning service" sign in my hands.

Friday, September 18, 2009

First Day of Cubbies

Okay, I look like a dork in this pick, but Ashton's hair was to good not to post. I love having neices...I get to do all the ponytails I want. (at least until they cry and my sister makes me stop)

A tootsie pop

So I was at a wedding a few weeks back and I was sitting next to my friend Sharon. In college we were in the same group of friends, but never hung out just us two. And now, Sharon is one of those friends from college who I see every now and then at gatherings. To be honest, I always wonder why we don't see each other outside of gatherings because she is so stinkin' fun. All that to say, we see each other about three times a year and aren't super close, but I would definitely say she is friend. We always have a great time catching up and laughing and I adore her.
On this particular occasion, she turns to me and says, "This is going to sound cheesy, but...when we were in college, you gave me a Tootsie Pop bouquet for my birthday and it meant so much to me, because I thought I had no friends right then and was feeling very down. I just wanted you to know I remember that and it was a big deal."
My first thought was, "A Tootsie Pop bouquet? Couldn't I have done better than that?" But...today I was driving along in the car and listening to a song about having "my moments" the seemingly insignificant moments in which we do something that can change a life.
I have been struggling with trying to prioritize and wanting always to make things "just so". Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting something to be a certain way that I don't do it at all. I want to send someone a card, but I don't have time to write a whole lot, so I don't bother to even send the small note to let them know I am thinking of them. I want to go and buy that personal gift, but I settle with something smaller and practical in lieu of time and money. I want to call and tell a friend I have been praying for them and their on my mind, but I know that the kids may wake up, so I don't.
I am grateful for the tootsie pop reminder today, because it has caused me to write a small note to a friend and call someone I have been meaning to call for awhile. It has reminded me, that maybe just a shout out or cutting some flowers from my yard to give to Gavin's Sunday School teacher may be just what was needed. And maybe, as a mom, with two little ones, "my moments" may be simple or covered in peanut butter, but no less significant.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Technology

There are people who cannot wait to get the newest iphone or computer. They are dying to have a machine the size of their pinky which can not only hold songs, photos, documents, and give them directions if they are stuck out in siberia, but it can also make calls, send faxes and schedule whole families doctors appointments. All in under three seconds.
I am not this person.
I want my camera, to be a camera, phone to be a phone, ipod to be an ipod and computer to be a computer. Each of these things already has about one thousand features to learn (and about another thousand I have found to be useless) and you want me to add them all together and find a way to make my brain navigate that mess?
I think part of my desire to back away from all this may insatiable curiosity and need to try and know everything and how it works. If I tried to know everything about all this, it would take me years. I am not willing to go to school to learn to use my phone. I'm just not. And so I get overwhelmed and frustrated that I am not using all of what I paid for and feeling that somehow I am missing out.
Every time I get a new cell phone (which seems like every two years...I think they are built to break right before you get that new "free" phone) sit down with the thing and obsessively try to figure out my new "toy". What? It's lunch time...hold on, I am getting my ring-tones. Oh, dinner, just let me figure out the texting configurations.
It's ridiculous. I have people wanting updates of my kids via e-mail, kodak gallery, facebook and blog. I try to leave a message at someone's house and they don't get it.
"You should have tried my cell."
"Why didn't you text me?"
"I am so much better at e-mail."
Frankly,I don't have the time to figure out what form of technology each of my friends and family prefers. Not to mention, I don't want people to be able to get ahold of me 24/7 and have the expectation that I am going to get back to them a.s.a.p.. I want a life outside of tweeting, fb and e-mail and I want to actually catch up on printing pics of my kids before I update the facebook page!
I am only 31 and I feel like I have a 70 year old's perspective on technology. (Actually, I know some 70 year olds who are way more savvy than I). Oh...this only scares me for the future, because I am going to have to figure out my kids world and how to navigate in it!
Who knows, maybe they will just develop a way to upload the manuals into my little brain and I won't have to worry about it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Be Humble, be grumbly

For awhile we were having a very hard time with Gavin and the treatment of his brother. I decided to try get some scripture hidden in his little heart (it's never too early) and use it to try and teach him. When he hits kicks or pushes his brother he takes a time out and then I go and talk with him about his actions. Afterward, we have worked on a scripture in Ephesians (a modified version, mind you, he's only 3).
"Be humble, be gentle, be patient, love one another."
He has now mastered this and I can use it to teach him how he is supposed to treat others...including his brother. We then go ask Brady for forgiveness. So far so good.

Well, his newest thing is whining.
"No mama, I don't waaaant to."
"No I don't liiike that"
"No, No, No."
This does not bode well with me, especially when emphasized with a nice fall to the floor or thrown toy. We have tried the "use your big boy voice" line...with no luck. We have sent him to his room. We have deprived him of what he wants (or given him what he doesn't want for that matter, ex. broccoli). It seems we are in a constant state of complaining and whining over here. And so, I decided to find a new scripture.
Philippians 2:14 (I think) "Do everything without grumbling or complaining." PERFECT

For the last week I have been trying to teach Gavin this scripture and everytime I ask, "What has Mommy told you?"
This is his reply, "Be humble be grumble..."
At which point I have to cut him off..."Noooo....we are to be humble, but no grumbling!"
Lord, help me to do this without grumbling or complaining! Help him to get it!!! The worst is, sometimes it sounds so wrong, it's funny and I have to bite my cheek to keep from laughing and then Gavin gets that smirk and starts over, "Be humbly be grumbly..."

I'll tell you whose humbly and grumbly...me. I am humbled at how imperfect I am as a parent and grumbly my brilliant ideas don't work. This week I caught myself and realized that until I can truly take these scriptures to heart in my parenting, there is no way my kid is gonna get it! So here is to a new week. Humble with no grumble maybe Gavin and I can both get it!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Update on Cranky (see below post)

So...my husband saw the broken crane and decided to be super dad and go buy "Cranky." It was to be a fun special outing for Gavin. Of course, upon entering the train aisle, Gavin had a complete fit over wanting some other little gadget. (We of course know him well enough to know, the minute we got home he'd want "Cranky" and wonder why he didn't have it, since we had talked about it all day.)
Finally, we took him out of the aisle, gave him the "If you don't stop crying we're leaving right now speech" and set him and Brayden up at the train table they have to play with. I sat with the kids while dad bought Cranky.
This is when I get the phone call that Shawn is out front and I should bring the kids. Oh yeah...let me just tell them we need to go! Brayden went ballistic, grabbing at trains and throwing them and Gavin started crying that he had gone "Stinky poo poo" and wanted his pants changed (thank you LORD we had a pull up on). Of course, I didn't have a diaper, nor did I have a cart to throw them in, so I was carrying (barely) one screaming child and dragging another out of Toys R US. I was that mom!!!
As I step out of the store, Shawn says, "Well that didn't go as planned."
No Joke! But then, with two toddlers, what really does?

Sunday, September 6, 2009

You Pay For It

My son loves Thomas the Train. We know the songs, we sing the songs. He has a few of the trains given as gifts and some hand me down tracks that we play with constantly. I do not understand the fascination and do not believe I ever will, but oh well, if it keeps him occupied...chug away little boy.
Anyway...Gavin's buddy Arthur has tons of Thomas Trains and Gavin loves to go over and play, specifically because Arthur owns "Cranky". Cranky is a crane that stands about 8 inches high, has a little gray face and an arm that lowers a string to pick up cargo from the trains. Doesn't seem super exciting to me, but Gavin LOVES this crane. Shawn and I decided that, being the loving parents we are, we'd look into getting if for him for his birthday. They want $50 for this crane at toys R us. That's approximately $6.25 an inch. It's ridiculous!!! The "Talking Cranky" was $80! What!?! Thirty bucks more to be annoyed constantly with an automated voice? I do not understand. And, being the frugal parents we are, we didn't get Cranky.
Gavin's aunt and uncle gave Gavin $20 for his birthday and we decided we would go look at the Thomas Trains and maybe subsidize buying a Cranky for Gavin. Down the isle we went, when mommy spotted the Toys R Us brand of trains and accessories, which much to my joy, fit in with the Thomas tracks. We had been told about these trains and what do you know...they have TWO cranes here...one for $12 and one for $14. I held them up happily to Gavin and asked him if he wanted two cranes or one Cranky. Quick math...he took the two.
The kids get loaded back in the car, we come in, open the first box and what do you know...the top half of the crane is completely broken off the bottom. ARGH! To stop the tears, I quickly open the other crane and fortunately it is is fine working form (but you can tell is not exactly quality craftsmanship either). I was praising God that we had bought two, so at least I could convince Gavin to wait until tomorrow to enter the realm of Toys R Us, yet again!
Apparently, you do get what you pay for, even when it comes to little wooden kids toys. But if this be the case and I do end up going back and buying Cranky, for $50 that eight inch crane better be able to lift a whole lot more than a one inch wooden block!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Life

In the last week, we went to one of my best friend from college's wedding, a funeral for an 82 year old who went to our church, and celebrated the fact that my son is now 3. And as we deal with some major ups and some major downs that have occurred, as well, in the last week, I can't help but shake my head at this crazy thing we call Life.
The wedding: Hearing again about the vows taken to honor and cherish...in good and bad. Being reminded of how far Shawn and I have come since the day we said I do....and how far we have to go. Knowing that we are still at the beginning of something great!
The Funeral: Probably the best celebration of life I have been to, George's funeral was awesome! At the end of his days, the legacy he left to his friends and family was apparent in all who spoke and all who came. He lived a life for God...there was no question, no doubt and because of that, it was a true celebration of life. It was an honor to be there.
The Birthday: New life. Gavin is getting so old to me, but really, he's just 3. So much ahead of him. So much more molding and shaping to do. So many experiences to be had. He's a beautiful, wonderful, silly, and serious little boy and there is sooo much before him.
In a week of some new heartaches and struggles, as well as some good times with friends and family, I can't help but be a little overwhelmed by "Life". It is so full and so crazy, so hurtful and so exhilarating. My mind struggles to wrap itself around these moments of time where good and bad take place simultaneously.
These events provided the perspective I have needed for the emotional roller coaster of the week and for the season of life ahead. I am even more grateful to live a life knowing and loving our God. I can't imagine trying to ride this ride without Him, without comfort to ease our sorrow, hope to squelch the fear and without anyone to praise for the triumphs or rejoice with us. I am so grateful life is not that way and I am so grateful He is so good.

What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we've been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! God is keeping careful watch over us and the future. The Day is coming when you'll have it all—life healed and whole.I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime. Pure gold put in the fire comes out of it proved pure; genuine faith put through this suffering comes out proved genuine. When Jesus wraps this all up, it's your faith, not your gold, that God will have on display as evidence of his victory. 1 Peter 3-7 (The Message)

Monday, August 31, 2009

Potty training

Gavin is pretty much potty trained. We started a little over a week ago and with in a day or two he was to the point where, if we remembered to put him on the potty, he was dry all day. Number two has taken a bit longer to conquer, but we are pretty much there as well. To this, I should be holding up my glass and toasting to success: saving money and space in my garbage can. I am going to admit, the success is not all I dreamed it would be.
I have spent the last two weeks taking my kiddo to the potty about every half hour to hour. Not only that, but usually I am trying to find a creative way to make it "fun" to stop whatever he is doing and go to the potty. (Sidenote: it isn't fun, so this is a hard task.) When he doesn't want to go, timer to let him know we'll be going soon. Now, every time the timer goes off for dinner, Gavin thinks we need to go to the toilet.
If we leave the house, we go potty. When we get somewhere, we go potty. When we are in a public place, we can take up to 10 minutes trying to go potty. It is a major production to try and make sure he goes potty without his pants getting dropped on the bathroom floor and his hands all over the public toilet seat.
Today he spent 15-20 minutes trying to get out all the "stinky poo-poos". I think potty training has made him hold it longer and he sat on that toilet forever!
"Are you all done, Gavin?"
"No...there's still more, Mom. Look I see it!" (What is it about boys? Their inherent nature to be proud of their poop is beyond my comprehension. I figure at this point, let him be proud if it gets the job done!)
During this 15-20 minutes, Brayden desperately wants to be part of the action and will make every effort to be in the bathroom finding any sort of mischief he can. Logan, the little boy I watch, follows Brayden into the bathroom, not to be left out. I spend the time trying to herd kids out of the bathroom, making sure Gavin doesn't fall in the toilet (after all, that's a long time to hold yourself up) and then running back and forth...because if I shut myself in the bathroom, Logan decides it's prime time to touch the untouchable wine glasses and if I go out of the bathroom, Gavin thinks he is all done, but of course changes his mind when I come back.
In the end, we have a completed stinky poo poo, two little boys angry that they weren't part of the potty party and one extremely tired mom who is considering locking herself in the bathroom without any of them for a minute alone.
I have a new appreciation for God and the patience he has when he tries to teach us lessons. He already knows I am not going to be an overnight success and yet He still takes on the challenge of trying to help me be a better person! I know I probably take a lot longer to grasp things than it will take for Gavin to get good at the potty thing. I am sure I exasperate Him. To this I say, "Thank you Lord for not giving up on me. And if you need a minute alone in the bathroom I totally understand!"

Thursday, August 27, 2009

McDonalds?

I was determined not to do a big birthday for Gavin this year. I wanted low key and simple and so I decided to approach him with the subject. Typically, his idea of a good time is going to the movie store or shooting ice cubes across the kitchen floor...how bad could it be.
So, we asked Gavin what he wanted for his birthday....
"McDonalds."

Really? I mean Reeeeaaaallly? Does anything good happen at McDonalds? Isn't that the place we go out of desperation, not intentionally for a birthday! I thought I could avoid the golden arches for a fast food birthday awhile longer, I mean until at least 5! Apparently, the big golden "M" on the side of the road is a strong enough reminder to convince my little guy that a happy meal is the way to go. I hummed and hawed and finally humbled myself. I truly did NOT want to give my son greasy food and a play gym of germs for his birthday, but no matter how many times I asked, I got the same answer. And so, I finally sent out an invite to three mom's of Gavin's best little guy buddies. Arthur, Koen & Isaac could all make it and the plans were set.

And I am happy to report...it was awesome! Not only did we have the whole play structure to ourselves (which was super nice so Brayden could play without getting annihilated) but it had been sanitized the night before...BONUS! (You gotta wonder about these places and hearing a little bleach happened the day before can only do a mom's heart good.) The boys got along fabulously, the happy meal toy was a car, which fell into theme with our little gift bags and the boys LOVED getting their very own ice cream cones. Gavin loved his presents, oohed and ahhed over them, with lots of, "Oh wow," "Oh thank you," and "Mom, look at that...is it mine?" He kept talking about how his friends were with him and showing us how his thumb could hold his pinky now to make a three, cuz ,"my fingers are old enough to do it now."

At the end of the night, we were buckling him in the car and he looks at me with the biggest grin and says, "Mom, what a great night!" It was and much to my shock it all happened at a McDonalds. I'd like to take a moment to thank Ronald and to thank my son...who at three, has simple taste and a very thoughtful and thankful heart! You are a delight Gavin! Thanks for reminding me a few friends and some ice cream is really all you need!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Gifts from God

Last night I went to the Triple Door...a venue in Seattle for different performances. My friend Dana and the band she used to be a part of, Late Tuesday, reunited to play once more. Along with the band, a good friend of my husband (well, and my friend too) Scott, painted on stage during the concert. There was a large turn out and my sister and I sat in the back, like any other customer, with our dinner and drink and enjoyed the concert and watching Scott do his thing.

As I sat there, I continued to get overwhelmed at how incredibly gifted these people are. Dana's music, her ability to play piano and turn what is in her heart into a song is amazing. And Scott, well his work has blown me away over and over again. The man has traveled the world sharing his art and it's awesome to see how the Lord has used it. I see these gifts and it's hard to believe that one person inherited so much talent. I get a bit envious...how can you have a bad day, when you are that good at something so cool?! But I know they do.

I remember the days in college sitting on the couch while Dana sat at the piano and we would discuss how homework, boys and life were all confusing. Now we have the conversations via cell phone, still similar, now it's just work, men and life that are confusing. I have heard Scott talk about how being on the road and touring with bands to do his art loses the glamor. I know his schedule is crazy and that there are times he has to pick up different jobs because art isn't the steadiest of incomes...no matter how amazing it is.
I know for them it must get tiring at times...They continually go out there and perform, sharing their inside stuff. Singing and creating about what means the most to them. They both love the Lord and have committed their gifts to Him. Putting into song or creating a visual representation of the work God is currently doing in their lives. I cannot imagine how emotionally draining that could be, especially, because when they are done, they have to greet the crowds of people who all want to see them and be close to the gift. Not to mention, they both have personalities that everyone wants to be their friends (their facebook status alone proves this).

When I think about the truth of what these two do, I am overwhelmed once again, but this time, not by the talent they have been given. But by their willingness to use it. No matter the misconceptions people get about their lives, the emotional drain it takes on them, the inconvience of the schedule, the continual barrage of people wanting to be in their space, they have let God use them and continue to do so!

I have a memory of Dana singing me to sleep one night at my house...sweet music and laughter. I have a piece of art that Scott gifted to me (on his birthday of all days)...it is a powerful piece on the Cross. Both the memory and the art are precious to me, not just because they are from my friends, though that is dear to my heart as well. But because they remind me of people who have not run from God with their gifts, but they have run to Him...no matter the cost. And though my gifts may not be as apparent as theirs are, I know I am called to do the same. These two are living their lives as a reminder.

Lord, I pray that as they continue to work and perform, their audience sees Christ in them. I know I sure do! Thanks you two!

P.S. you can learn about these two at www.latetuesday.com or scotterickson.wordpress.com

Friday, August 21, 2009

better than i thought

Today was a good day. I witnessed some great interactions with my boys:
  • I asked Gavin if he wanted to play play dough and his response was, "No, not really now mom, but thanks." vs. "No! I don't waaaant to!"
  • Gavin got a "Chewy" aka fruit snack for going potty and says, "Mom, we need some for my brother and friends to celebrate too." vs. "Miiiiine!"
  • Brayden found Gavin's special cars and brought them right over to Gavin. Vs. Finding the cars and running away with them.
  • Brayden sat on his chair and signed please and said "Dow" translation: down. vs. Standing up and screaming at the top of his lungs.
  • Gavin, in the middle of dinner says, "Thanks mom for the good dinner." Vs. "I don't like that."
  • Brayden picked up his shoes and toys and put them away when I asked vs. running away when I ask.
  • Gavin accidentally knocked his brother over and stopped to help him up vs. running right on top of him.
  • Gavin came to find me when the DVD player skipped vs. sitting in the TV room screaming and crying that it's broken.
There were actually quite a few more obedient, polite moments of today. I believe Gavin is truly learning to be thankful, he's catching on to the idea we've been teaching him that we celebrate with each other when someone succeeds...especially our family, they are both learning to help each other out, they are both learning to ask for help instead of screaming and whining, they are learning to obey and help out around the house...they are part of a team.
It's easy to see the negative things your children immitate. They pop right out at you. When your two year old udders, "Piece of junk" and your one year throws your keys across the room, because you tried to throw them in your purse, you realize quickly they will pick up on every little thing. You start to see those things more and more often. Sometimes you forget to look for the positive things you have been trying to instill.
The last few days I have seen some of the positives shine through. It started me looking for them and there are many a day, if I keep my eyes open and my attitude positive. It's so easy to see all the things they do wrong and all the work ahead of you. As parents we start to get discouraged. However, these little people who have lived only a year or two are catching onto sooo many good things too! And as parents I think we need to let up on ourselves sometimes, because, if we look closely, maybe we're doin' a better job than we thought!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Still havin' fun!


Here is the sunset out of our windsheild on the way home from our road trip to Bryce Canyon

Shawn and I after we hiked the Canyon!
The view from the top

This was a 1.3 mile hike...the last .6 miles we went up over 500 ft. in elevation, I am striking my tough pose, because, well, I felt tough...I did it!
That's Shawn down there and it doesn't even give close to the perspective on how far down we hiked!
Driving through Zion, we stopped for a couples shot!
This is me being a dork on the 6hr. drive! You gotta find something to keep you entertained!

Hotel Paris...Shawn took the shot as we drove down the strip.
Me at the O show...I was so excited and it was so cool!
Shawn, when we first got to Vegas...This was actually the view from our room too, but we were 28 stories up...great digs!
So..Shawn and I went away on a vacation to Vegas for 4 days and I have good news...we still enjoy being together! It was great...we went out to nice dinners, saw the cirque de soleil "O" show (awesome!), hiked Bryce Canyon, drove through Zion National park and rode the New York New York Roller Coaster! We had so much fun, good conversation and found out that we really still enjoy each other's company...sans kids. So nice.
We did miss the kids a bit and it was good to get the snugs upon our return. They're antics are cute again and we definately have more patience than when we left, but we'll see how long that lasts.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Joy


Yes, this is Brayden Ryan at his finest. Dad picked the Pjs and he picked the rest. Fully representing himself and his spirit, here is Brayden sporting his wristbands, hat, lion slippers and wait...the umbrella didn't make it into the picture. The kid is a crack up. We adore him and though his go go spirit makes us tired and his stubborness makes us grouchy at times, we are loving watching this kid grow up. He is so full of life and laughter and as you can see, has an uncanny ability to accessorize!