Thursday, May 28, 2009

Bella With A Side Of Sassy...Coming Right Up.

So Bella has officially entered the stage of the terrible twos. I know that anyone reading this who knows Bella, doesn’t believe me. That’s okay, Loren has seen it too and so I at least have one witness.

Let me fill you in on our last week. Bella colored her bed sheets with marker, used Hope’s pricey hair oil as body lotion, began routinely spitting on Hope as they tried to fall asleep at night, spent all of dinner one night refusing to pick up the puzzle pieces she intentionally dumped out after Hope cleaned them up, and has started throwing “fall on the floor” fits. Yep. That’s right, folks. Oh, and I forgot to mention that it all started the day that the lady who keeps her in the nursery at the gym greeted me with, “We had a problem with Bella today. She hit a baby.” What?!? I guess I should have known then that this was only the beginning. But, I naively believed that sweet Bella had been misunderstood. I asked Bella about it and she fessed up easily enough and was appropriately disciplined, but in the back of my mind, I was pretty sure that the baby had done something to deserve it. Babies aren’t always nice, you know. And it just didn’t sound like my Bella.

As it turns out, Bella seems to have decided that she isn’t taking anyone’s crap anymore. That includes mine or her daddy’s or Hope’s or, apparently, any baby that gets in her way. She is experimenting quite a lot with how best to express that sentiment and, while I am sure she thinks of herself as fierce, she is mostly just so cute that it makes it hard to discipline her. We, of course, have become very good at keeping a straight face and talking in stern voices but it’s not always easy. Especially when she sags her little shoulders and stomps off, trying to be very dramatic and only achieving hilariously funny.

Just a few weeks ago Loren and I were talking about how we couldn’t wait for Bella to be talking and communicating more. But the reality is that once they can, they have opinions on everything and, two year olds not being the most reasonable characters on earth…all hell breaks loose. Thus, the terrible twos. But, I enter boldly into this stage because I can remember what a delight it is to have those first interactive conversations with your child. So fun. And what a treat my Bella is, newfound sassiness and all.

She came running into my room this morning after she woke up and said, "Hi, Mama!" And I said, "Hi, Baby!" She looked at me with her frowny face and said, "No baby." "Oh, you're not a baby?" I said. "No," she said "...I Bella." sure are, sweet girl. And I just get such a kick out of knowing you.

Friday, May 22, 2009

15 Minutes of Lame

I had to speak the other say for a christian women's organization. The woman who called me had just one request. Could I please speak from a secular perspective? I wasn't to mention God. I asked her why and she said that they were trying to reach out to ladies who weren't christians in the community and so every month they had a theme and two speakers who would talk about that theme. There was a featured speaker (that was me) and an "approved" speaker who got to talk about the theme in relation to Jesus.

So, the theme was friendship and, that being something I am quite passionate about, I agreed to do it. The only thing is, it turns out that when you are not "secular" it's kind of hard to talk about something from a secular perspective. And it got me to thinking.

Shouldn't everything we do be influenced by Christ in such a way that it is hard to talk about much of anything without mentioning him? I'm not saying that when I go the grocery store and the person at the check out stand tells me my total that I have to say, "You know I really searched for the great buys today because I am trying to spend my money in a way that would glorify God." Although that would be a true statement, and could be an appropriate one sometimes. But, when I am asked to share something for a group, I want to be able to share from my heart. It's more authentic and comes a lot easier to me. But sharing from the heart necessitates that, at least some part of it, will involve Christ. And it was definitely hard to talk about the ways that God has blessed me with some of the most amazing frienships, and how he has used these women in my life to make me look more like him, without mentioning him. Yikes.

But, I wrote the thing out and rehearsed it a bit and it went off okay. I got a few laughs and I did the best I could to talk about God without talking about him. But truthfully, when you take Christ out of something that is so centered on him, it pretty much just sounds cheesy. And then, by the way, the next lady got to stand up and say, "But don't forget that Jesus is your best friend." I wanted to raise my hand and say, "Yeah I know that too but I wasn't aloud to say it."

All in all, I learned something about how to answer when someone asks me if I can speak from a secular perspective. Answer: You know, as it turns out, not that well. It's just not who I am.

Thank God for that.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Little Healthy Advice

The truth be known, I am bit self-conscious about my tummy. I have had no babies to blame my little tummy on and yet, here it sits, atop the waist of my jeans as I type. Content to stay...seemingly forever. Seriously, when I was at my smallest (pre-wedding, of course) and had done about a million crunches a day in preparation for being seen naked by my handsome, no tummy husband, I still had my little tummy. It just is what it is. And I'm pretty sure it isn't going away. I'm not sure I want to really do all that it would take, anyway. Loren digs it and, as far as I'm concerned, that's really all that matters.

Why am I telling you all of this? It is for this one reason. I implore you, no I am BEGGING you, please don't ever, ever, ever, ask a woman when she is due. No matter how blousy the shirt (we women with tummies buy those things to conceal), how "maternity" it looks ('s the style!), and, I dare say, even if it appears that said women is about to go into labor at any moment. It is ALWAYS a gamble and it is terribly awkward for all involved when the answer is, "oh...I'm not pregnant." Just say no, people!

I just had this experience last night...again. That's right. This has now happened to me twice. When I told Loren about it, he was appropriately outraged and appalled. I love him for that and for what came next. We decided it might be a good idea to have some good answers to that question. His made me laugh hysterically. He said I should say, "I'm due on Thursday. Oh's a hamster. That's why I'm not as big as you would expect." Oh my gosh...if you could have seen him deliver those lines! I had tears rolling down my face...which was a pretty good ending for a story that started out, "Guess what this lady said to me at the store!"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our Trip To The Place Where "People Talk Like 'Howdy Padna'"

We had so much fun on our trip to visit my family. We went, first, to visit my sister and her family in Oklahoma. We got to be there, along with my mom, for Holden's dedication, which was really special and had a good time just catching up. Sweet Holden just gets cuter and cuter and Hope was, again, smitten by her little cousin. She loved trying to drag him around everywhere and "babysitting" while we played games in the kitchen. Here is a picture of our youngest member of the family. Isn't he precious?!?Then, we took my mom with us and headed down to Texas to her and my dad's house for a few days. We got to visit with my all of my grandparents while we were there, which was really special. The girls had fun playing in the backyard on the tire swing and in the little pool, and, of course, being spoiled with random trips to get ice cream all week. :) We also did some shopping while we were there and I even got a few things for myself. What a rare treat! Hope loves the trains that run through town and so we tried, unsuccessfully, to see one while we were there. Wouldn't you know that on our trip home we saw no less than 12! The title of this blog came from something Hope said one night after we went to pick up dinner at the local BBQ place. "Mom, why does everyone here talk like, 'Howdy Padna?'" So funny! Here are a few pics of the girls and Nana in the backyard.

We finished up our trip in Corinth,TX at my sister, Amy, and her family's new home. They just moved and their new place is beautiful. We loved hanging out with them and seeing Carson play tee-ball. My Aunt Phyllis, Uncle Danny, and my cousin Britt came to hang out for a while and it was good to catch up with them. We also loved spending a good chunk of time on Friday at the neighborhood pool. Hope, Bella, Carson, and Cameron played almost constantly and I wish I had taken some pictures! What were we thinking, Aim? I did pull out my phone and get a few at the pool, but you know how the quality on those things are. Oh well, I guess we'll have to take some next time. :)

As you can see, it was a FULL nine days. And, somewhere in the middle of it all I sat for a moment and just realized how much I enjoyed my children. They are both growing so fast and getting such distinct personalities and I really really LIKE them. They crack me up constantly, amaze me with their big hearts for others, leave me in awe of their creativity, and, at just the right moments, snuggle right up to me and tell me they like me, too. I wish I had a few random pictures of myself with the girls on this trip. I think what they would show is a mom totally in love and delighted by her children. Then again, it might be hard to capture that...especially with my fondness for closing my eyes right as the picture is taken. :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rules for a Successful Road Trip

I've realized that there are a few things that go out the window when traveling on a long road trip with small children. Below is a list of those things:

1. While I am normally very conscious about what goes into my children's mouths, on car trips i frequently hear myself saying such things as, "How about another sucker?", "more gummi worms?", "anybody want a milk shake?", "how about more fries?", etc. It is appalling.

2. Though we have fairly strict rules about how much t.v. our kids can watch per day, on road trips, my kids watch hours worth of movies. We do try to chit chat and play games in between, but, IT'S TWELVE HOURS...and they are 5 and 2...what's a mom to do?!?

3. Bella has been potty trained for four months now, and so, of course, we always encourage her use of the toilet. On this particular road trip, i found myself saying things like, "Just go in your diaper, Bella. It's okay. You need to just go in your diaper." (She never did, by the way. That stubborn little thing made me pull over about 45,000 times. can I complain about something like that?)

4.I generally try to restrict myself to, at most, two or three soda's a week...and that is a lot. On road trips, two or three a day is more like it. I have all kinds of ways of justifying getting a Dr. Pepper instead of a Powerade or something. And, they sound just as ridiculous to myself as they would to you.

5. Finally, while I generally believe that when a child cries to get his or her way, you should not give into this behavior, on a road trip, my basic rule of thumb is, STOP THE CRYING AT ALL COSTS! I can't take it! Give that kid whatever it wants, and quick!

As far as I can tell, we don't have any long term discipline issues regarding these things (except maybe that I have to wean myself off of soda for a few weeks following a trip) but I am afraid that my kids have totally figured out these road rules, or the lack thereof. And that can't be good. Oh well, I guess when you are taking 12 hour trips to Texas and Oklahoma a few times a year, you'll do whatever it takes to make sure you all get there in one piece. And for me, that means loosening up on the rules, getting everyone sugared up and in a movie coma until they pass out from exhaustion. That's normal, right?

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Buddy Day

Today is Buddy Day for Kindergarten. Hope gets to go to the school she will be attending next year and team up with a Kindergartner who will show her the ropes. And it kinda makes me feel like it's the beginning of the end of her little girl days. But, here we go....

Then, after a lengthy discussion with Hope while she was getting dressed, wherein she kept insisting that I help her find her bunny ears because she needed to wear them. To which I replied that she didn't really need to wear them. She insisted she did, and so on. I finally realized that she thought that today was BUNNY day at Kindergarten.

I guess her little girl days aren't quite cute.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Share, and Share Alike

Of all the inner struggles I face regarding parenting, my selfishness is probably the most constant. I don’t always want to share my cereal, or my chair. I would like to buy a pack of gum that is only mine, or keep the change in my purse for myself. I don’t always want to stop reading my book or put down my coffee to “come and see.” And I don’t always enjoy sharing my bed, my blanket, my lip gloss, my jewelry, or my time in the bathroom with my small children.

I know that this struggle begins early, though. I know because I can see my kids already fighting this battle. I have already had to utter that little word probably hundreds, if not thousands, of times in my brief career as a parent. Share. And I get so frustrated with them for not wanting to. But, here I am, battling the same thing. Mentally crossing my arms and jutting out my chin.

I’m not crazy. I know that I can’t just chuck the whole idea. I wouldn't want to, anyway. Can you imagine the chaos at play dates alone?!? And I know that sharing isn’t just about parting with something so someone else can be happy. Really, it’s about love. It’s about loving people more than things, and more than ourselves. And so, when I ask my kids to share, I am fundamentally asking them to put their desires aside and to love someone else sacrificially. Hmmm….sounds a lot like the job of a parent. Busted.

Lord, help me to love more like you.