Monday, June 29, 2009

of the 7 deadly sins...

...gluttony is my favorite.

why? because i like good food. and by good food, i mean a fun night at a fancy restaurant with my husband and no kids. and also chocolate molten lava cake that oozes all over my plate.

what was the special occasion?


since it is HOT in phoenix, we added to our night of gluttony a stay at a very fancy place that fortunately falls into the "great deals in the summer" category where resorts are desperate for clients to come and melt by their pool while the temperature outside resembles a pre-heating oven.

but instead of melting by the pool, we have greatly enjoyed sitting in our generously air conditioned room doing close to NOTHING AT ALL. which is what most parents of 3 wee ones like to do when they have a night away.

also, we like to try on our complimentary you-can-take-them-home slippers (called flip-flops where i come from) and very fancy bathrobes. oh, and of course there is returning from our gluttony filled dinner to find the "turn-down service" placed mints on our pillows, put our slippers on special mats by our bed, and lit candles all over our room.

and really, the steak was amazing. AMAZING. (although i do think that the whole idea of not actually having to clean the kitchen after such a meal adds somewhat to the deliciousness of it all.)

and yes, this is way different from my life at home.

i mean, not that i would actually like it if this were my life at home. its nice for a special getaway but if i ever develop a lifestyle where people pull the cover back for me to climb in bed and light candles around me all the time to relax me, filet mignon for dinner and sleeping as late as i want in extravagant linens, please stage an intervention.

its nice to be tucked into a mountain with beautiful views of mountains and the most dense allotment of green trees found in phoenix, but it's just not the real world. i mean, i think our cute little buick looks quite nice tucked between maseratis and porsches in the parking lot and all, but i look forward to heading home and kissing my kids and diving back into the exhausting cycle of games/baths/toys/naps/dishes/cooking/cleaning because that is a little more realistic.

i am grateful for the life God has given me.

and nights of luxury away from my life help put that in perspective.

*night of gluttony and luxury brought to you in part by grammy and poppa. we are forever grateful.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

ode to nina

so we have this family in our small group bible study who is in a pretty difficult situation and in some serious need. i'll spare you the details, but they have a 4 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. so i told ella and bennett there were kids just like them that were going through a really tough time and didn't have toys or furniture or a car and maybe we could see if we could give them some of our toys since we have so many. wasn't sure how excited they would be to part with stuff so i sorta expected them to bring me like a pipe cleaner or an old plastic easter egg.

but no. my special little kids warmed my heart. bennett picked out this cool car transporter thing with 4 individual cars that load and it makes all kind of annoying sounds. he really liked it and yet was happy to pass it along.

and ella...

(pardon me while i get choked up)

she walked out with...


nina, for those of you who don't know, is only her most favorite childhood doll. nina has been around for a few years and although doesn't make as many appearances as she once did, still has a special place in ella's (my) heart.

i mean, nina goes way back...

they laughed together:

ella fed her:
performed doctor check-ups on her:

slept with her:
"grocery shopped" with her:and...

of course...

breastfed her:

so when i saw my daughter standing there with her doll, i seriously got tears in my eyes. and then she said, "can you help me find some more clothes for her so the little girl can change her and stuff."

a valuable lesson was learned through all this. by me.

when i am faced with a need (such as this family) i respond by thinking about the extra things i have. i mean, i want to be helpful and meet their needs, but i tend to do it with stuff i don't need or necessarily want. i often give from my excess.

ella gave from her essentials. (yes, i know a doll isn't an essential, but to her it was.) this is generosity. when faced with a need, she met it head on. she showed me the meaning of sacrificial giving. you know, to give when it hurts a little. ella could have given a toy without much meaning, something she never plays with, and it still would have been nice of her. but giving nina shows some serious love.

so later, when i was telling her again how proud i was and asking if it was hard for her, she kinda grinned and said, "a little bit. i mean, i wanted to keep her, but i know that the other little girl needed her more."

when ella is caught doing good, like anytime we tell her we are proud of her for cleaning her room, being nice to bennett, etc... she always asks, "so can i have a penny." she never asked for one this time. i think that says a lot.

i try to tell my kids that everything we have is a blessing from God. we don't deserve it and it all comes from him. it sure makes it easier to be generous when we recognize that our "stuff" isn't actually ours. and i'm pretty sure ella has grasped this concept far better than i have.

we also heard that this little girl has not put nina down since she got her. she even took her to church this weekend. its nice to know when a sacrifice made is really appreciated, but its great to know that ella would have done it anyway.

"We should give as we would receive, cheerfully, quickly, and without hesitation; for there is no grace in a benefit that sticks to the fingers." ~Seneca

Sunday, June 21, 2009

one cool dad

how old is daddy?
ella: 38
bennett: 3

how tall is daddy?
ella: 4 feet
bennett: big

what is daddy's favorite thing to eat?
ella: salad
bennett: gummy worms

what is daddy's favorite thing to do?
ella: golf
bennett: the office

what does daddy do for a job?
ella: makes the money
bennett: church

who does daddy love the most?
ella: don (who happens to be taking daddy golfing right now) and jeff and curt
bennett: bennett!

what makes daddy happy?
ella: when i do nice things to my brother
bennett: taking naps

what makes daddy sad?
ella: when i don't listen
bennett: cleaning the bathrooms

where does daddy like to go?
ella: to the children's museum
bennett: walmart

what is daddy's favorite thing to do with you?
ella: go to the park
bennett: throw me on the bed

what is daddy really good at?
ella: golfing, because he got a trophy one time
bennett: cutting my hair

what is he not so good at?
ella: listening
bennett: doing laundry

what is daddy's middle name?
ella: mathew
bennett: mason

what makes him a daddy?
ella: because he is so nice
bennett: because God made him

what is something daddy always says to you?
ella: that he loves me and i'm beautiful
bennett: go pee-pee

what does daddy do when you aren't around?
ella: he gets into my stuff
bennett: goes swimming

what does daddy like most about mommy?
ella: when she talks funny
bennett: ummm.... i don't know

what makes you proud of your daddy?
ella: when he saves us when we are close to getting hurt
bennett: because

we love you, daddy. happy father's day!

Friday, June 19, 2009

my hot date

i had a hot date last night.

and it wasn't even with my husband.

check out this little heart breaker:

we went out to celebrate the whole turning 3 event.

he was such a gentleman. he even offered (demanded) to drive.
and for some stimulating conversation, in the car said, "mom.... letttttt's talk about thomas the train."

he also taught me how to use chopsticks.

and after hitting every single store on the sidewalk, we found ourselves in the pet store. after the novelty of the guinea pigs, snakes, and ferrets quickly wore off, bennett was completely mesmerized by the bird cages. he opened every single one, checked out every nook and cranny. fascinating stuff, those cages.
and maybe its just because i'm not a bird person, but i was shocked when i looked at one particular cage and noticed the price.
$115??? seriously?

yeah, i think we'll stick with 12 cent fish, even if they do live like 2 months longer than their projected lifespan of 3 to 5 days.

and we finished the night off with some orange dreamsicle ice cream with gummy bears on top. oh to be 3 again and actually be tempted by such a treat...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

if only there were a contest...

if there were a contest for the happiest child ever, my little bennett would win the prize.
that's right. first place.

and maybe the first place prize would be a million dollars. or maybe a bi-monthly housekeeper. and i would enter him for sure. and we he would win. and he would be so happy. because he always is. and i would be happy too. because i would have a housekeeper.

but back to my happy little boy.
he turned 3 this week.


where does the time go?

oh wait, i know the answer to that question... it rushes through the years, drags slowly in the late afternoon, and stands still at 2 a.m.

but yes... birthdays make me happy/sad. i mean, i'm obviously happy to have a vivacious little 3 year old boy growing more and more into his unique little self. but i'm sad. because he grows up too fast. way too fast. and i realize how over-used the whole, "it goes fast" phrase is, but of course its true. otherwise 5 million people wouldn't tell you that the first year of your baby's sleep-deficient, fussy, all consuming life when you are thinking to yourself, "NOT FAST ENOUGH!!!!" but you don't actually say that out loud because then they would think you are a horrible mother. but its ok to admit to it on your blog because other mommys that feel the same way are reading it and they need reassurance. so...

happy birthday, bennett.

i always feel slightly guilty when birthday time rolls around. (of course. i'm a mom after all.) but i feel like i should be planning some elaborate over the top event to make my child feel special and loved and well adjusted in life. and then i realize when he says all he wants to do for his birthday is "ride the train and eat spaghetti" that really, it can be that simple.

oh, and also, "sniff markers at the children's museum."

also, i'm thankful for a sister with 3 kids who happened to already be coming to my house this week because 3 cousins is a built in party waiting to happen that doesn't require actually sending invitations or stuffing goody bags full of cheap trinkets that fall apart in the car on the way home which don't get cleaned out for like the next year. (or maybe that's just me.)

so bennett had a fish party with his cousins. and he loved it. and they loved it. (i think. maybe it was the sugar, but whatever.)

and then on his actual birthday... we rode the train! the train, of course, is the phoenix light rail. and for a couple bucks, what a thrill...

so my happy little guy is now 3 and is quite confident he can conquer the whole world. and i pray he does. that God gives him a special part of this world that he can lead and love and serve.

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him." 1 Corinthians 2:9

happy birthday, bennett. you bring so much joy to our lives.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

behind every successful man...

abraham lincoln led our nation through our greatest internal crisis and ultimately abolished slavery...

winston churchill's determination and courage inspired the world to defy a tyranny...

martin luther king jr. left a legacy of hope and motivated us all toward respect and equality...

william wilberforce devoted his life to ending the slave trade in england...

christopher columbus bravely defied the modern knowledge of a flat world and set sail...

what do these brilliant men have in common?

behind every successful man... the mom who potty trained him.

some people lead nations. some discover cures for disease. some win the nobel peace prize. some perform life saving surgeries on microscopic sections of the human brain.

and some people potty train.

it ain't for sissies.

so let me just say, that bennett, my precious little happy-go-lucky middle child is officially potty trained.

this was no small feat. in retrospect, it seems almost easy. and very quick. and in a lot of ways it was. (that's what happens when you wait until your child is almost 3.)

but in other ways...

i mean, how do you convince a toddler to completely change the way he has been doing something? take away the convenient for the not-so-convenient. convince him that this new way is actually better in the long run and it may take a little work but it is so worth it for him? we are going to take away the comfortable and the easy, for the new and unknown.

yeah, 2 (almost 3) year-olds don't grasp this concept.

but then again, do any of us?

while pleading and begging and bribing and borderline threatening bennett and thinking to myself that seriously, why doesn't he get this it is so obvious... i had an image of what it must be like for God to try to talk to me. convince me of what he has in store for my life. interesting correlation, my spiritual life and my son's bathroom habits, but hey, that's kind of lessons you get around here.

can a parallel be drawn between potty training and following God? why yes, i think it can...

and now that we have conquered potty training, i pray that someday, my son can be known for a far nobler cause in life, similar to those leaders listed above who have altered the course of history.

today, potty training. tomorrow the world!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

weekly random tidbits: all aboard!

  1. mason got his first haircut this week. it was getting a little long and white-trashy looking. it was time. these moments are in the "must" category of pictures. however, our child needed to be restrained by both of us while daddy cut. he was ALL. OVER. THE. PLACE. happy as can be, but not about to sit still. trying to bounce on the counter, get his hands all over the scissors, crawl into the sink... maybe i can do a fake picture soon to take the place of the one i should have got. i'll give him a valium and reenact it for pretends.
  2. ella has been going to vacation bible school this week. first day, after dropping her off, i suddenly couldn't get bennett to stop talking. it was like he has been waiting for this moment. he'd saved up everything he wanted to say for when ella was gone. he immediately turned our minivan into a train, named it thomas, and started telling me the rules like "if there is something you want, you can't go over there. you have stay on the track." and "mom. there is NO smoking on the train." right. let me put out my cigarette real quick.
  3. ella doesn't like to talk to people. she doesn't seem to feel the need. she's shy, but not sad and lonely or anything. so, anyhow, i encourage her (by bribing her with pennies) to make friends at VBS. yesterday i said, "ella, why don't you talk to some kids and make some friends." "well, mom. i don't really want to. they all look real happy. don't think they need any friends." how can you argue with this logic? back to pennies...
  4. FINALLY. the first tooth. its been on its way for like a month. drool, fussiness. it was awesome. only like 15 more teeth to go.
  5. and i'm struggling with a serious hair jealousy issue. i mean, if this were your daughter, how could you not?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

mom, i'm bored... and its hot

what to do with these kids of mine...

the best ideas can always be stolen from someone smarter... and more creative.

like the phoenix children's museum.

my kids happen to LOVE the ice cream station (and for some reason don't understand why i shriek in horror every time they actually lick those rubber ice cream balls that probably contain every little contaminant from the rota virus to the swine flu.) so one day at the museum, i gave them a once over and thought, i could copy this well enough at home.

so... we started with styrofoam balls. i got a bag of like 12 or something. the kids painted them an assortment of different creative colors (flavors).

i made the cones. just used some sheets of foam from the craft store and a little glue (super glue worked best, not pictured here):

a few ice cream scoopers and the fun never ends.

and i keep these put away in the cabinet and they are brought out at special (desperate) times, so the novelty never really wears off.

i also once posted about a pirate ship we made. kept the kids busy for hours...

then much to my husbands delight, i never could seem to throw it away and it has been conveniently taking up space in random locations throughout our home.

because... you can always turn it into something else when they tire of the whole pirate thing. some days its a school bus. some days its an airplane.

and some days... well, my kids get real creative and turn it into a coffin.

it works extra well when your particular "dead" child is somewhat bossy and your particular "pall-bearer" child is somewhat easy going and doesn't mind pushing the "coffin" wherever commanded...

and for some extra spice, this can be done in one's choneys... even more fun if worn backward :)