Thursday, May 31, 2012

small things {quiet afternoons}

small things #39 ... quiet afternoons

We are one week into summer break and it's kinda loud and rowdy around here.  

And that's quite an adjustment.

I am used to one o'clock rolling around and helping my little ones trundle off for nap time.  We read a couple of books while snuggled on the couch and then I deposit my three little people with their loveys in their comfy beds.  And then I clock out for a bit.

With a glass of sweet tea at hand I enjoy an hour of me-time, quiet-time, hush-time, no-loud-talking-or-yelling-time.  I have a chance to recharge for the afternoon, read my Bible devotion and write a bit.  When my babies begin to stir, I've had some peaceful time to myself and I'm ready to jump into the afternoon.

That hasn't been happening as much as I'd like lately.  Nope ... not really at all.

It's not just that the big kids are home, it's that they are home (sometimes with friends) and the little people want to be up and playing with them.  All.  Day.  Long.  Nap?  Who needs a nap?!

I have done my best to be firm with our schedule and routine, but it's just not quite the same as when they aren't here.  Even with our mandatory reading and writing hour, they still talk and walk around a lot more than sleeping kids do!  I guess that's kind of a no-brainer ... but it's still requiring a shift in my attitude.

Rather than grumbling my way through my summer afternoons in the midst of repeated, "Mom, do you want to read what I just wrote" requests, "Shriek, Squeal! Oops - we woke the baby" episodes and "How much longer until I can get up?" appeals, I know that I need to let go a bit of my quiet expectations and embrace this time with me kids.

But I'm still going to miss the quiet.

Quiet afternoons ... delightful me-time during the school year but so very elusive come summer-time!

#5 - What about school do you miss the most?  What do you mean you all won't sit silently with a book for the next two hours?!?!

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

small things {routines}

small things #38 ... routines

We jumped this week into Summer.  Actually it was more of a heedless dive ... headfirst and without our water-wings!

What fun it is to change up our schedules and enjoy mornings that start at eight o'clock instead of six-forty-five.  
What a delight it is to eat meals, piled around the kitchen table, but only when we're hungry.
What a wonderful change to have gymnastics in the afternoons and dinner before the kids get weird.

But what craziness would ensue if we were to throw all of our routines to the wind!

For my own sanity, we need to have much of our same daily schedule with some summer fun thrown it for good measure.  If you are like me, perhaps some of these ideas will give you some inspiration to keep up your routines and add in some school silliness to keep their brains supple.

This summer we will continue to have daily (and mandatory) quiet time in the afternoon.  For one hour a day the kids will have an opportunity to read, journal or do other quiet activities.  This is also Mommy's hour - my time for writing, reading my Bible and recharging my batteries. (This is more for me than for them ... but ultimately it's for the them because I will be nicer!)

On Mondays the kids will participate in correspondence.  They will each have the chance to send out three letters, postcards or notes to friends and family.  Not email ... good ol' fashioned snail-mail.  Hopefully this will be a fun way for them to share their summer activities with loved ones and maybe get some fun mail in return.  (hint, hint!)

On Wednesdays we will be having a fun game day, reminiscent of our Spring Break Game Day.  Check back here during the summer for our games of the week and our reviews ...  what did we like and what flopped?

On Fridays we will be exploring a variety of artists.  After a bit of studying and research, we will have a chance to try out our own artsy hands in the methods and manners of each artist.  A fun challenge to create beauty in ways we haven't done before.

Finally, the kids will be studying the US of A this summer and touring the states via our new ginormous wall map.  We'll be learning the capitals and locations of the states ... and any other interesting facts along the way.  Each morning, the kids will have to follow the clues to find their new capital and then fill in a fun workbook with facts about that state.

It promises to be a fun-filled summer ... and I can guarantee that we won't be bored!

Routines ... boundaries that help to make our days go 'round while still providing time for adventure!

In light of our summer schedule being a tad bit wonky-doodle, you can expect posts here at Snapshots to be a little sporadic, spasmodic, erratic and unpredictable.  In an effort to depressurize, I am releasing myself to post when I can and maybe even focus on another writing project I have brewing.  Like I told Brett just the other day ... it'll never get published if I don't actually write it!  So wish me luck ... and enjoy your summer! ... I'm sure I'll be around. :)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

small things {lullabies}

small things #37 ... lullabies

It's supposed to be a special time of the day.  

My older girls are snuggled into their beds smelling like toothpaste and the sweet sweatiness of a fun-filled day.  We've shared our bests and our leasts.  We've read our bedtime books and stopped off at the potty "one more time".  It's time to pray and sing and drift off to sleep.

But ...

They aren't tired yet.  Ugh.

And so moments that have the potential to be precious and sacred turn into wrestling matches and stern whispers.  

As I stand in the big girls's room, I lean my head leaning against the top rail of the bunk bed.  My feet hurt and I would love sit down, but Norah wants me to rub her back.  I start my song (again) only to be interrupted by yet another random question.

"Mommy?  In the morning can you pack me my granola bar?"

"Yes.  Shhh..."

I start again, "Little girl, tie on your angel wings and fly, fly, fly ..."

"Mommy?  Why does my teacher use that pointer thing instead of her finger?"

"I don't know.  Lay quietly, please."

I finally come to the last stanza, "Fly until you come to the love I am sending.  Tomorrow will be on the other side.  So ... fly..."

"Mommy?  Here are my dirty socks."  Lovely.

I walk out the door and remind my girls to head right to sleep.  No talking tonight.  Before I make it to the stairs, I hear an explosion of giggles and Norah walks out of the room for a quick drink.  

Why do I bother??

I settle down on the edge of Aaron's bed.  We sit in the dark and talk for a few minutes about how he "slammed it out of the park" during kickball and how excited he is for the weekend.  I turn his radio down and he turns to rest his back.  Resting with my hand on his chest, I start his song.

"Little boy ..."

"Mom.  I don't think I need a song anymore."

My heart clenches and my throat closes tightly.  I clench my jaw against sudden tears.  I choke out a strangled, "Okay.  Good night, Buddy," and head for the stairs.

Ten years of lullabies and now we're done.   It was bound to happen, but I'm still caught off guard.  This is the same boy who will be a fifth grader next year, but who made repeated excuses for the laziness of the tooth-fairy last month ... "Maybe he was in Timbuktu, Mom."  I know that in the midst of his growing up we will see many of these traditions reach their maturity and fade away leaving a wonderful young man in their place, but it's bittersweet.  Sometimes more bitter than sweet.


I make one more stop at the bedsides of my baby girls ... holding on to a few more years of lullabies.

Lullabies ... the end of the day.  And for my boy, the end of an era.


The song in this post is one of Sara Groves' sweet lullabies.  Read all the lines here ... and I challenge you not to sniffle or shed a tear!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A New Little Something...

Here's a little something new that you might enjoy!  I have jumped into another adventure by contributing over at Mentorsaurus ... a new website geared toward sharing our life experiences with the hopes of helping and encouraging others.  I have added a few of my past posts to their library of experience ... but there's a new little snapshot I'm sharing today.

Head over, look around a bit and hopefully you'll be encouraged by something you read! logo

Friday, May 25, 2012

small things {splish, splash}

small things #36 ... splish, splash

For a grand finale yesterday, my kids celebrated the end of school with the annual water-logged Field Day.  Swim suits, beach towels and sunscreened noses met up with obstacle courses, squishy sponges, snaking hoses and hysterical giggles.

Splish, splash! Summer started out soggy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

small things {slow mornings}

small things #35 ... slow mornings

Today is Aaron's last day as a fourth grader.  
Today is Norah's last day as a third grader.  
And today is Ashley's last day as a wee kindergartener.

Tomorrow morning when we wake up, we aren't going anywhere.  At all.

We will stay in our pj's.  We will mosey through our breakfast.  We will watch 8:50 tick across the clock and laugh about being "late to school".  We will opt to stay in our favorite comfies for the day.  We will ponder what movie to watch and pop some popcorn.  We will eventually have lunch.  We will possibly consider a trip to the store.  Or not.  We will play a game.  Or two. We will snuggle and read a bit.

In the afternoon we will have to head out for Norah's gymnastics class, but then it's out to dinner and home again.  To return to pj's, family time and just hanging out.

Could you hear my sigh?  It went a little something like ... 
aaaaaahhhhhhaaaaaaaa ... uhhhhhhaaaaahhhhh.

Slow mornings ... what I love most about summer vacation.


#5 - What about school do you miss the least?  The hustling, bustling, tussling to get out the door by 8:30.  With smiles on our faces.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

small things {keedjing)

small things #34 ... keedjing

She's saying something, but I can make the letters come together.

She's insistent, but as I repeat what I think I'm hearing, her frustration grows.

She's serious now.  She had pulled a prank and she had wanted me to laugh.

I didn't.

But only because I didn't know she was keedjing.

Kidding.  Joking.  Teasing.  All wrapped up in one Liddy-ism.

When she put her sticky fingers in my iced tea to fish out an ice cube, she was only keedjing.

When she stuck her stinky feet in Baby S's lap, she was only keedjing.

When she refused to pick up her puzzle pieces because, "she didn't know how", she was only keedjing.

Ahh.  Of course.  That makes it all better!

Keedjing ... Lydia's excuse for silly and sometimes inexcusable behavior.  
I guess I need to remember to laugh.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

small things {sit-n-spin}

small things #33 ... sit-n-spin

I always wanted a Sit-n-Spin.  As a kid, I lamented the lack of a Sit-n-Spin in our home.  In fact, the story goes that as a youngster, when gifted a See-n-Say, I celebrated, sat and sproinged the spinner.  Proof that a See-n-Say does not substitute well for a Sit-n-Spin.

As an advocate for spinning, I made sure that we had a Sit-n-Spin for our kids.  And we have now been the proud owner of two.  The first was great until some little person tried to sit-n-spin with it turned upside down.  Oops.  The second is still sitting and still spinning.

Just the other day, Lydia renewed her love of sitting and spinning, bringing the Playskool spinner up to the family room from it's banishment to the basement.  At first she was insistent about helping Baby S to sit and spin, but upon realizing that Baby S didn't want to sit or spin, she let her go.  Now she happily totes the spinner from room to room and sits and spins to her heart's delight.

Most recently under the kitchen table.

She sits cross-legged with her little chubby calves pressed agains the post of the Sit-n-Spin.  She grips the disc with both hands and by some strange three-year old intuition, pulls in the opposite direction to start up her momentum.  She giggles.  She laughs.  She leans in toward the center in a tight ball.  She stops and looks up at me with a dizzy grin.

Her glazed eyes tick, tick, tick back and forth.  Attempting to stop the world from spinning.

Yep.  I always wanted a Sit-n-Spin.  But now I get dizzy just watching my baby.

Sit-n-Spin ... a childhood memory that is best left in my childhood.  My inner ear can't handle it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

small things {backpacks}

small things #32 ... backpacks

Four kids, four backpacks.  

Aaron totes his sky blue Jansport pack.  He lets it slouch off his shoulders a bit - looking cool.  Earlier he filled it with library books, his lunch bag and a black plastic recorder that has taken up residence in his bag.  Most likely I would also find granola bar wrappers, a broken pencil or two and an important note from his school wadded up in the bottom.  If I cared to peek.

His buddy walks beside him, our neighbor boy and surrogate brother.  He pulls his weighty, navy blue backpack along behind him.  The wheels roll along the rocks and asphalt - rattle, rattle, rattle, sliiiiiiide - when the bag catches up with him, he flicks it back a few feet - rattle, rattle, rattle, sliiiiiide.  They talk and laugh over the noise of the rocking and rolling.

Norah moans next to me about the weight of her bag.  I have refused to carry it today saying, "I'm already pushing the stroller and kids.  You can carry the bag.  What do you have in there anyway?"  She rattles off a list of must-haves:  reading folder, homework folder, two library books, lunch bag and two water bottles.  I remind her that she could dump out the water and fill them up at school and she responds with a huff and runs off.  That's easier, I guess.

Ashley chats as she saunters along with her messenger bag slung over her shoulder.  As a Kindergartener, she doesn't have all the homework (or weight of the world) to carry.  She steps lightly around a puddle and jogs in an effort to catch Norah.  She slows and lets me catch up, "Mommy?  Can you bring my scooter up after school?"

Four backpacks carried by four kids.

No.  Make that five kids and five backpacks.

Today Lydia has decided to be big and pack her pink and white polka-dotted bag for our trek to school.  As she trots along, her backpack bounces off of her pj'ed little hiney.  And from within that terry cloth pack we can hear a little jingle, jangle, rattle.

"Whatcha got in there, Liddy?"


A quick peek at the crosswalk reveals that she, too, has packed her essentials:  a half-dozen Easter egg maracas and her baby-pink leather slippers.  Perfect.

Backpacks ... bags of burden, but also a badge of being BIG.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

small things {rolly polly}

small things #31 ... rolly polly

After dropping off the kids at school, we headed back down the hill.  Lydia paused here and there to re-distribute rocks that had escaped the landscaping along the sidewalk.  Upon reaching down to pick up a rounded white stone, she startled.

"Mommy!  Look!  A wo-wee po-wee."

Sure enough a little gray rolly polly travelled along the crack in the cement.

Lydia stooped down and gently put her fingers out toward the little fellow.  She was cautious but curious, moving her finger tips back as the bug got closer.

"Do you want to hold him?"


I touched the little guy's back and he immediately curled up into a little armored ball.  Lydia giggled as I picked him up and placed him gently in her cupped hand.

"Now hold still and he'll unwind.  Then you can let him crawl around."

Within a few moments, the rolly polly peeked out, sensed it was safe and started crawling about again.  Lydia was tickled (quite literally) to have him mosey about her hand, but as he headed up her arm, her eyes go big and she began to squirm.

"Here.  Let me put him back on the ground and then he can go to his home."

As the little fellow scooted off on another adventure Lydia called to him, "Bye, little wo-wee po-wee!"

After he wandered off into the gravel, I thought about his nifty defense mechanism.  

Sense danger?  Roll up in a ball!

How many times is my knee-jerk reaction to curl up when challenges come?

Right now I'm overwhelmed by some VBS planning details (childcare for 33 kids?!?!) and my natural response is to go into hiding.  Today I intend to tackle this problem ... 

Rolly Polly I am not - Courage!

small things {adding up no's}

small things #30 ... adding up no's

Today I come clean about a few of my own annoying parenting "skills".  I put that word purposefully in quotation marks because I don't actually consider them aspects of my mothering in which I take pride nor have I spent time and energy fine-tuning them.  In contrast, these "skills" have a undesirable way of cropping up of their own free will and to my own embarrassment.

In reality, I have quite a list of unfortunate parenting irritations, but I was able to narrow it down to the top two.  And now, with a flip of a coin, let's see which one I get to talk about today.

Heads - sighing.

Tails - no-ing.

And it's ... Tails!  (sigh)


One simple word that I made such a concerted effort to eradicate from my vocabulary when I first had Aaron.


One simple word that sneaks into my conversations with my kids more than I'd like.  (And sneaks back out of their mouths more than I'd like, too!)

When I'm really thinking about and endeavoring to be more positive in my dialogue with the kids, I try to re-phrase my negativos into positivos.  And when I'm stressed, tired, overwhelmed ... I just say, "No".  A lot.

Effort:  Let's find something else to play with.
No Effort:  Don't play with that.

Effort:  Maybe we can have gum after lunch.
No Effort:  No.

Effort:  We can talk about some screen-time later.
No Effort:  Don't ask again.

Effort:  Stay in your bed, please.
No Effort:  Do not get up again.

Effort:  Please take your thumb out of your mouth.
No Effort:  No thumb.


Now ... which answer would you rather hear.  Yeah.  Me, too.

Over the course of a day, I believe I would be sad and a little bit scared to add up all those "no's".  How many hundreds of no's and don't's and not's would I end up with as bed time rolls around?  (sigh)

Today is the day to start subtracting some negativity from my parenting ... and adding up positivity.

Adding Up No's ... the wrong kind of math in mothering.  
Saying, "yes", will give me the positive outcome I want.

#4 - Name something you swore you'd never do when you had kids, but now find yourself doing.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

small things {vitamins}

small things #29 ... vitamins

Today Brett and I celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary.  

And we still really, really like each other.  Still the bestest friends.  Still choosing time together over any other options.  Still laughing at the same silly jokes.

It's easy for me to take this easy-going and satisfying friendship for granted ... until I come face to face with the reality of someone else's marriage on the rocks.  My heart aches as I sit around a MOPS table and hear the hardness and sadness of a marriage straining and suffering.  I shake my head in bewilderment as I read headlines about some celebrity's marriage being annulled after a mere 72 days.  I'm without words as I hear one of my kids tell me about a classmate whose parents are divorcing.  Again.

What are we doing differently?  Better?  What words of encouragement or insight do I have to offer?

I could jump in and say something about how God is at the center of our marriage.  And that would be true.

I could declare that we try to have date nights and time for just the two of us.  Also true.

I could point out that we do our best to be nice to each other ... thinking before we speak or act.  True again.

I could say that we still seek each other out to enjoy our mutual interests ... movies, games, walks.  More truth.

But I think one important aspect of our marriage would be found in a single act.

Doling out one another's nightly vitamins.

The simplicity of this act of service is almost ridiculous and yet ... this moment of serving sums up our attitudes toward one another.  This simple act is one of many throughout the day that brings security and stability to our busy (and often chaotic) days.

Let me help you.  
Let me do this one thing that says, "I love you."  
Let me think of you as I go about this mundane task.

With one twist of those child-proof caps, we are turning the ordinary routine of heading to bed into something sacred.  

Vitamins ... evidence of a commitment to good health.  
And to serving each other.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

small things {names}

small things #27 ... names

As a three-year old, it is rather daunting to keep all the people and names straight.  Her world may still be quite small, but it's chock-ful of people, pets and places ... all with specific names.

(In all honesty, I struggle with the same problem.  Even with my thirty-four year advantage!)

Here are a few challenging conundrums she has faced recently:


I was talking to her about our neighbor across the street, Miss Rebecca.  She piped up that her cousin is also called Rebekah.

"That's right, honey.  A big Rebecca and a little Rebekah."

Imagine her surprise a few days later when I left a voice-mail message for yet another Rebecca.

"Mom!  That's three Rebekah's!  So many Rebekahs!"


This past week, we had the pleasure of meeting Baby S's grandparents.  On this particular morning, they enjoyed a little extended time with their grand-baby before bringing her to our house.  I told Lydia that the grandma & grandpa would be delivering her buddy later in the morning.  When they arrived, Lydia boisterously declared, "Grammy & Gramps are here!  Grammy & Gramps are here!"  To her painful disappointment, she quickly discovered that her Grammy & Gramps were in fact not here ... just Baby S's.


And finally, one of our neighbors has been hard at work for he past several weeks pulling up his old yard and preparing for new sod.  Several times a day on our way to and from school, we walk past Mr. Woody digging, trenching and raking in his front yard.  We are also greeted several times a day by his dog, Chauncey.  One says, "Hello," and the other barks.  Loudly.  One afternoon, we passed the construction site again and Lydia remarked, "Mr. Chauncey is working hard."

I corrected her.  "Honey, that's Mr. Woody. Chauncey is the dog."

Without skipping a beat she declared, "That Chauncey barks too much."


Names ... so hard to keep track of, but essential to knowing what's going on!