Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Summer of Creation

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Explore Dream Discover

The older boys are back in school, well Theodore is back in school (2nd grade-WOW). Kaelen is home this morning, he has Kindergarten orientation this afternoon and will start all-day classes on Monday. It is a big change for us. I am especially looking forward to some private time with “the baby” who is now 20 months old. I’m also looking forward to his morning naps, allowing me quiet time all to myself. I intend to enjoy it while it lasts.
Although I realize I have not written a post all summer, that doesn’t mean I haven’t been wedging out little bits of time for myself here and there. Unfortunately these little bits of time have not been long enough to form a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph or whole blog entry. I have been exercising my creative muscles in a more visual manner though. Last May I started a Facebook page called “A Moment In Time.” A Moment in Time started with a timeline cover for bereaved Mother’s day, but is really intended to be a place to celebrate all aspects of life. I’ve been very pleased to create covers for my many cousins who were married or engaged over the summer, a few birthday covers, covers celebrating summer itself (and now fall), and some covers focused on some of life’s challenges.
Today I would like to share some of the covers I created for “A Day of Hope” which was this past Monday. Spreading awareness of the prevalence of miscarriages, still-births, and infant loss is something I feel strongly about. I think it wasn’t until 15 months after my miscarriage that I really began to understand how many families were affected by MSIL (1 in 4). My family and my doctor were very supportive, but I still felt so much more alone than I should have.

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Day of Hope Profile (2)

I am the 1 in 4

I am the 1 in 4 Personalized Auriel

For Good

Please feel free to use any of these free images (Click over to A Moment in Time to have one personalized). I create all my images for no reason other than the joy it brings me. There is never a cost. If there is a cause near and dear to your heart please share it with me. I would be all too happy to create something to help you spread the word. Blessings to you all!

Jedi Padawan Party

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Star Wars Party

I’m still in party planning mode.  I only have a few weeks before I need to start putting together things for Jensen’s first un-birthday party in June.  By the way, we are planning a Wonderland/Mad Hatter Tea Party theme, but most of what I find is very girly.  If any one has any suggestions for a BOY Wonderland party I would love to hear them.

This was Ted’s party from a few years ago.  I received so many compliments on everything I thought I would share.  Anyone who know my oldest knows he is a HUGE Star Wars fan–he comes by it honestly–so it was no surprise that he chose it for his theme when he turned six.  While there is no shortage of Star Wars themed party supplies, this was our first party with school friends, and I was not sure how many activities I needed to have planned.  After searching online I came across a few blogs with ideas.  Unfortunately this was BP (before Pinterest) so I scribbled notes down on a scrap of paper and now have no clue where the ideas came from, so I don’t have the original links.  Sorry, and thanks whoever you are who inspired me!

First a few decorations:

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We pretty much just used store-bought themed banners, balloons, and other party supplies.  My mom made the R2D2 cake that she has made MANY times before. It is a Wilton cake pan from the 80’s, but you can still find it online.  We also brought in a few things from home that fit the mood including Ted’s Build-A-Bear friends dressed as a Jedi and Darth Vader, and my R2D2 Toy Box.  The toy box served the additional purpose of holding the supplies for the craft we did: build your own lightsaber.

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I’ve seen something similar to this on Pinterest using colored pool noodles with a handle added before the party.  The kids loved this so much more!  We brought in plain pipe insulation and a bunch of different colors of duct tape.  The kids all got to design their own light saber by wrapping the duct tape around the insulation.  They all were very creative, most of them used several colors and different designs.  We had enough supplies left over that several of the adults also made light sabers. (By the way, do you like my Padme Amidala costume, I had been working on it for about 7 months)

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Designing a light saber was intended to be the first step of four in completing the Jedi Padawan training.  We had also planned to take the kids on an obstical course and to have them work together to carry a balloon with their light sabers.  However, once everyone was done building their light saber, and huge battle broke out and we decide not the intrupt the fun with planned activities.  We did complete the last step of the Padawan training though, destroying the Death Star.

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I am not a fan of piñatas but this one was two good to pass up.  We made the Death Star piñata at home.  It was a simple as getting a round balloon (we used a punching balloon) and forming your piñata over it.  Once it is dry cut a  circle out of the side, add your candy, then place the cut out back in the side of the piñata but turn it inside out so you have the divot. Paint and you are done.

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We decorate our piñata stick to also look like a light saber.  If you are making your first piñata at home remember it does not need to be as heavy-duty as you think.  We made this one WAY to thick, but it worked anyway.  No one was able to break it, but when the hook came out we just tossed it up and let it explode on the pavement.

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I’m sure we will be doing this party at least once more, and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Motherhood Judge & Jury

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 I don’t know what was going around, but I was struck down with a nasty cold virus that had me practically bed ridden for nearly 4 weeks. I finally am feeling better and got mostly caught up on my housework last week. Every time I looked at my blog I didn’t know what to write about to come back, finally some inspiration hit.

Earlier today an acquaintance on Facebook asked for a bit of parenting advice. I offered some based on my experience. A few other women responded along the lines of “don’t do that, you could hurt the baby.” I don’t know these women, I don’t know what their experiences as mothers are, and they don’t know me. They were not aggressive or rude in their comments, but what I felt like I was reading was something more like “you frickin’ moron, why on earth would would ever do something like that? Are you trying to kill your child or something?” Internally, I jumped into defensive mode, “I did this with all of my children, my mom did it with her children. Women have been doing this for centuries! What makes your way so much better?” Thankfully, my better judgment kicked in before I posted anything else. I realized that just like I was posting based on my experience, these women were posting based on their experience, whatever it is.

But why did I feel so defensive?

I think that our society has become VERY judgmental of today’s parents, especially today’s moms. Every decision we make is met with harsh and sometimes even threatening judgments. A woman who decides to nurse her hungry 6 month old under a blanket in public may end being accused being a horrible mom who is sexually abusing her baby, if for some reason her story ends up online. If that same woman offers an occasional bottle of formula so she can go out without the baby she is judged as a horrible mom who is abandoning and practically poisoning her child with formula, and destroying any chance that child has of being an honor roll student.

Breastfeed/bottle-feed, spanking/timeout, crib/co-sleep, stay-at-home-mom/working-mom, there are a myriad of decisions a parent has to make for each child. Parents, especially moms, become very passionate about some of these decisions. I think sometimes we become defined by our choices, we feel that an “attack” (i.e. different opinion) on our choice is an attack on us. We sometimes judge our own skill as a mother.

 I am certainly not guiltless in judging other moms by the choices they make. I have built myself up with thoughts of “I would NEVER do that! I’m a better mother than her!” But I try to remind myself, I am not that child’s mother, I do not know what that child and that mother are going through, I do not know what that child needs. I do not know whole story!

 I have also judged myself as inadequate because I don’t feed my children only organic snacks, my children did not potty train within two weeks after turning two, I have caved in to candy at the checkout just so my child will be quiet. I feel the judgment of other moms at Target, other moms on Facebook, and especially those moms out there writing for parenting magazines or doing segments on GMA, the women who earn a living being MOM. They have it all together. They would NEVER do that! They are better mothers than me! But, I try to remind myself, they are not my child’s mother, they do not know what my child and I are going through, they do not know what my child needs. They do not know whole story!

 Every child is different. Even with my own three boys I have made some different choices. Some choices I have made from my past experiences, some choices I have made because what worked great with one boy only made things worse with the next. Because each child is different it is foolish to judge the choices a parent makes while parenting one child against the choices a parent makes while parenting any other child, even if it is the same parent!

 So, try to remember, the only thing you need to know to pass judgment on all moms (including yourself):

 Is your child overall happy & healthy?

 If the answer is yes then it doesn’t matter if you breastfeed or bottle-feed, if you spanked or used timeout, if you used a crib or co-slept, if you are a stay-at-home-mom or are a working-mom. It doesn’t even matter if your child throws an occasional temper tantrum at Target or is snacking on only organic vegetables. Your child is happy and healthy:

Amazing Mom

you are an amazing mom!

P.S.  One more thing to remember if you constantly feel like everyone else is a better mom than you:

The grass is always greener

Kaelen

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Four can be a very difficult age, but it is one of my favorites! The reason for both is the same: it is around four that you no longer have a baby or toddler, but a real person. Babies and toddlers are wonderful, and while they certainly have personalities, they have a limited   capability to really communicate or connect with other people. I think around four is when this little person starts to really tune into how others are feeling. They also become so much more independent. There is so much they can do for themselves. Kaelen makes his own sandwiches many days (it seems it is easier to make it himself then to ask Mommy nicely to make it for him). He is potty trained. He is able to pick up his clothes and make his bed, and will even do it without very much prompting sometimes!
Four is when interests start to emerge that are really personal. Babies and toddlers can to persuaded to be interested in whatever their parents or siblings are interested in (such as coordinating Halloween costumes), but once a four-year old makes up his mind, his mind is made, and there is not much to do to get him to change it. This is what can be very frustrating, but the personality is what makes it so much fun!
Kaelen turned four last year on Easter. I have learned so much about him since then. He really likes the Muppets, his favorite is Fozzie because he is funny. Kae has this amazing laugh when he watches or listens to the Muppets.
He asked for a kitchen last year for his birthday and again for Christmas. We got him a small stove top and he received food or dishes from just about everyone else. He has spent probably 80 hours cooking ice cream and goulash for everyone since then. He won’t eat goulash when I make it–but he loves to cook it.
He is going to be a photographer. He has liked taking pictures with our camera for a long time, but since we got our iPhones in the fall I am constantly finding series of photos of the ceiling and floor, blurry shots of the back of his hand or his eyes and forehead, and lots of pictures of Jensen. The pictures I am sharing today we took together while we were waiting for Ted to get out of school. I so treasure just getting to cuddle up with him to goof off and capture those smiles.

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The Magician’s Sons

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Tonight's instalment: chapter 2, Digory and His Uncle

We are a family of readers. Josh and I both grew up reading a lot, and now the boys all enjoy books immensely. Even Jensen who doesn’t yet understand what is going on will sit and flip through the pages of whatever book is within reach, be it a colorful ABC board book or Daddy’s latest Preston & Child suspense.
Although we have always read to our children frequently and pretty much on demand we do not have a nightly reading ritual. Some nights may have Ted and Kae each picking out a story while others may not include a story at all. Until now, that is. Josh has decided that the boys are old enough to read “The Chronicles of Narnia” with him. He purchased the collection a few years ago and was very disappointed when they did not have the focus to listen to an entire chapter, especially when there were no pictures! Last night we started again. The whole family sat down on the couch while Josh read the opening chapter of “The Magician’s Nephew.” Ted was enchanted and eager to continue, Kae was less interested but happy to be sitting cuddled up with Mommy & Daddy, Jensen got down after a few words and played quietly on the floor. Tonight we continued.
I think this may become something that the older boys will never forget.  There is something quite magical about reading as a family. I remember gathering in bed with my brothers—a different room each night—while my Dad read to us the Hobbit when I was young. I don’t remember how old I was when we did that (older than Ted is now for certain) and I don’t even remember the details of the story (there are a lot of details in Tolkien) but I will always remember the special feeling of togetherness as we explored Middle Earth as a family. I hope Ted and Kae will enjoy exploring Narnia with their father just as much.

Ted & Kae listen to Daddy read from "The Magician's Nephew"
Ted & Kae listen to Daddy read from “The Magician’s Nephew”

The View from the Zoo

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2012.01.04 Toledo Zoo Lights

A holiday tradition here in Toledo is to visit an amazing light display at the zoo. Although we are zoo members and can go free we rarely make it out to see “The Lights Before Christmas” until after Christmas, if at all. I thought we had missed our chance again this year but they offered an encore tonight and tomorrow night.
We had such a wonderful time even though it was cold—really cold, around 20-25 degrees before the wind chill. We got there around 3:30 so even though it wasn’t dark yet we did get to see a few animals. It was close to feeding time so everyone was very active and very noisy. I don’t think I had actually heard a tiger roar or an elephant trumpet before tonight. I love seeing the animals in the winter because those who are out are really active. I’d swear the snow leopard was close enough to touch, and he is usually hidden away in the back of the exhibit.
Another thing I love about going in the winter is how much space there is to play and see things. The lights are usually pretty crowded but since we were there so early we had the place pretty much to ourselves. We were very pleased to find the building in Nature’s Neighborhood (the children’s zoo area) open and completely vacant. We probably spend 45 minutes there waiting for dusk while the boys explored the heated building. Jensen, who has just started walking, was especially pleased to have a new area to check out without being confined to the stroller.
The light displays are always a lot of fun to see. There are dancing lights set to many different songs including Trans Siberian Orchestra, and a dueling banjos version of “Jingle Bells.” There is also an 85 foot Norway Spruce completely decorated with over 35,000 LED lights. The boys were especially pleased to find a model train display in the museum of science which featured 6 trains including Thomas and the Polar Express. The drive in at the model train display also happened to be showing the movie “The Polar Express.”
A great time was had by all. If you are in the Toledo area and have not seen the lights I would highly recommend bundling up tomorrow night and heading out.