Sunday, February 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sweet Boy!

My big boy turns two today.  And, oh, how much he's grown in the last year!  His mostly small vocabulary has doubled,  his mischievousness has tripled,  his climbing abilities amaze,  his love abounds, his stubbornness is beginning to show itself, he always says thank you, he loves his brother and sister more than almost anything, and he loves to be tickled! 

I can't get enough of him.  

I love to hear him say, "Pray, Daddy!" every night before bed and "I love you, Mommy!" several times a day.  I love that he holds my hand.  He can't sleep without his blanky.  He wants to do it all himself!  

If I got a dollar for every time I have pulled him off of the countertops (after he's pushed the kitchen chair right underneath the cabinet he needs to get something out of) I'd be rich!  

Earlier this year he gave us a scare with a trip to the hospital in July (his little body wasn't absorbing food and eventually his little tummy just shut down making him so dehydrated and so sick!  But he was such a trooper, smiling all the while he felt miserable.) 

He can count to 13 (without skipping any numbers sometimes!) and loves to color, particularly on our table.  

This kid LOVES to dance.

He loves our hamster, Lenerny (his version of Lenny) and will chase his little hamster ball all over the house.

And of course, Landen loves Hot Dog (a.k.a. Mickey Mouse). 

I am truly thankful for my sweet boy.  He compliments the rest of us beautifully.  :)  

Happy Birthday, Landen-bo-banden!!

 P.S.  Here is a funny video (taken with Jon's phone) of him dancing for our family while visiting his great-grandpa!  

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Valentines Day

Valentine’s Day and the sentiments attached – I love all that come my way.  And with a most loving husband, my kiddos (and my sweet girl who made me about a dozen valentines over the course of a few days), and friends bringing us cupcakes (thanks, Shelly and Eli!), I couldn't ask for more!

But boy, did I get more!  I love to tell the story!

Saturday afternoon, Jon, Anne (my mother-in-law) and I were sitting and chatting in our living room while listening to the kids play in their rooms.  I was sitting in our chair, right where I could see the front door and out the screen door window.  Suddenly Shelly came around the corner and to the door where I flagged her in (she and her husband, Matt, live right next door, and we see each other often, so it was not unusual at all for her to be coming by).  She looked at all of us and then asked me in a kind of unusual way if I wanted to take a ride with her.  I was slightly confused (didn't she see my mother-in-law was here visiting?), but then she explained that Matt told her to pick me up and we were to pick up Tammy.  Immediately a red flag popped up and I knew something was up!  Jon told me I better get going, so I did!  And off we went to pick up Tammy.

No sooner did we get to Tammy's porch when she was virtually shoved out the front door by her husband, Tod, who with a grin, told us to have fun!  We were all so confused!  And then he handed us an envelope.  Inside were four pictures of our husbands together and our first clue!  A scavenger hunt!  And off we went! (At this point Tammy remarked that she was just happy knowing they planned something - nothing more was needed!  I shared her sentiments!  It was just wonderful knowing they'd WANT to take the time planning something - for US!)

The Curiosity Shop!  We hopped in Shelly's van and headed downtown, parked, and walked in.  We were greeted and then asked, "Are you ladies doing a scavenger hunt?"  I think so?!  We showed her a picture of our husbands, she handed us an identical picture and gave us each a card with our names on it.  We opened the envelopes. Our husbands picked out a Valentines Day card for each of us.  So sweet!  Then the lady informed us she had another envelope for us.  The next clue!!

 We opened the next clue, deciphered it quickly and ran outside (where one of the nice ladies from the Curiosity Shop offered to take our picture).
The Chocolate Cellar!  I was SO excited for this stop. Jon knows my sweet tooth and knows it well!  I knew he'd know exactly what to get for me!  It was only around the corner and across the street, so we set off on foot.  We arrived and waited for a few moments while other customers were being helped (it seemed like they were taking forever, though in reality, I'm sure it was only a minute or two).  Finally, we got to show the clerk a picture of our handsome men.  And then, you guessed it, we each got a bag or box of some beautiful chocolates and our next clue!


Next up:  The Copper Kettle, a sweet little kitchen shop downtown, also within walking distance.  When we arrived, the ladies there gushed about our romantic husbands and made us feel SO special!  They handed each of us beautifully wrapped boxes with bows on them and sent us on our way with the next clue.      

 And then, The Sensuous She, a lingerie-type store nearby (ooh la la!), where we recieved our sweet gifts (and the lady asked if we could clone our husbands!).  The next clue we received was very hard to decipher (tell me if you would have gotten it quickly - it was hard!)!

Did you figure it out?!  Bath and Body Works!  We arrived, handed the clerk our last picture, and received our sweet smelling gifts all wrapped in pretty bags.  I asked if there were any more clues and there were none!  After all this excitement, all the suspense, a face that hurt from all the smiling, and feeling like a princess and proud to have a husband like mine, I didn't want it to be over!  And I wasn't to be disappointed.  :)  No sooner did we walk out the door that we saw them!

Jon, Matt, and Tod were following us the whole time!  Those sneaky men!   Romantic, sneaky men!

After this wonderful surprise, we all went to dinner together at Lovejoys where we talked all about the planning, the sneaky meetings to create the clues, the time it took to go to all the stores and pick out the perfect gifts, and of course, just how wonderful these men of ours were.

This topped all Valentines days past.  It's always been a special holiday, but they went to so much trouble to show us how special we were to them.  It was a perfect day, and so wonderful to share it with friends!

Oh, and if you'd like to see what my gift to Jon was for Valentines Day (it was no scavenger hunt, to be sure!  But it came from my heart!) you can visit Jon's blog here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Having a Strong Willed Child

First, I'd like to apologize for my lack of blogging etiquette!  The last two Wednesdays, I've linked up to a blog called Things I Can't Say.  She graciously hosts a weekly meme (is that how you say it?  Still learning some of these bloggy terms) for bloggers to share their hearts called "Pour Your Heart Out." (I'm probably saying that all wrong!)  Bloggers are encouraged to pour their heart out about whatever they wish and then link up to her blog.  I believe the intent is to read and find others blogs so we can connect, relate to, and encourage each other.  So, thanks to Shell at Things I Can 't Say for allowing me to take a time out from blogging my family and to pour my heart out and connect with her and other bloggers!

If you know our family, you know we have one of these (and possibly an up-and-coming one!).  His name is Braeden and he is 4 years old.  He is loved.  So very, very loved.  And this 4 year old has such a tender, sweet heart.  And can I tell you, he has one of the most creative minds I've ever witnessed (and yes, as his mother, I'm supposed to be biased, but I'm not kidding!  He has told us some awesome stories!)?!  He has, however, brought about emotions in me that I NEVER expected to feel as a parent.

Let me start first with my sweet girl, Emerson.  She was the easy one.  She rarely fussed, no tantrums, and as she's grown she rarely disobeys and is a people-pleaser at heart (which is a topic for another day - because I know her people pleasing side can also lead to poor choices, too, if it isn't shaped, as I'll explain later).

Then along came Braeden!  After having an easy, easy baby, we didn't know what hit us!  This boy threw us for a loop from the very beginning!  Refusing to sleep as a baby, to head-butting and biting as a toddler, and now to arguing, whining, yelling, and mean words as a preschooler.

And I am guilty, too.  I have yelled.  I have disciplined out of anger.  And I have behaved much like my four year old throwing my own tantrums because of his stubbornness.  (I'd like to explain now, though, that in no way have I EVER hurt my sweet boy beyond a spank, and a light one at that.  I realize that the phrase "disciplining out of anger" may put images of physical abuse in some minds - what I mean, however, is that I discipline him - time outs, and yes, sometimes spanks -  because I am angry, not because I have the purer intent of correcting and discipling him.  I hope this makes sense!)

I'm ashamed about this.  And embarrassed.   And it has brought about deep feelings of guilt and failure.  The job of being mommy, of having such a deep impact in my child's life, is such a heavy, heavy thing to carry. 

I have to remind myself often that he is only 4!  And that I am 29!  Ha!  And, as I mentioned in my last post, I'm anxious to read the new book I purchased Creative Correction (Lisa Welchel's book about creatively disciplining our children).

But I've become aware of some things - some more recently than others!

Any yelling or anger I direct at him WILL make him defensive and is hurtful, thus lessening any lesson that I may want to teach him.   Therefore yelling = no good.

I will never be able to make him do anything.  I know you may be disagreeing right now, but  hear me out.  I cannot control him.  I can guide him, but I cannot make him choose, for instance, to act toward his siblings with love.  He makes those choices himself (and there is some freedom in this, for both of us, believe it or not).

Therefore my job as his mommy lays not  in controlling him, but training him.  Helping to shape him.  To show him by example what it is to love others and himself and most importantly, God. 

And then, having fear and feeling guilty isn't totally a bad thing.  It's NOT something I want to or should live in, but it keeps me in check.  It tells me that I am weak, as we humans tend to be, and that I need to run to God for help and keeps me on my knees in prayer.  I am learning that some fear and some guilt can have the ability to govern some good in my role as mommy.

His mercies are new every morning.  As I learn every day about showing grace to my kids, God continually demonstrates his grace to me.  

And I believe in the deepest of places, that God has a plan for this strong and stubborn will of his.  He will be a strong man someday and will have the strength and stubbornness to stand strong in his convictions and values.

My sweet boy has shown me many things about life and myself and God (and will continue to do so, I'm sure!).  I am here to shape his will and not to break it.  And I have the privilege of loving and watching him grow each day.  And I myself am being trained to surrender myself and my family to God each and every morning.

And seriously - praise Him for the Grace He gives us as mothers!  
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
   for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6

Monday, February 07, 2011

Lisa Welchel and the Superbowl

Up first, Lisa Welchel! But if you're like me, I had to google Lisa because I didn't know who she was!  If you don't know, though, you won't have to google her.  You can just watch a video of her here.  Or I can just tell you that she played Blair in the 80's sitcom Facts of Life.   Jon said he had a crush on her!

Two weekends ago, Lisa came to Laramie to speak at a church in town and I was lucky enough to be able to go with three good friends and hear her.  She made us laugh, she brought tears to my eyes, I connected with her stories of motherhood, and she shared her heart that made obvious her love for the Lord.

One of her stories included of one of her children in particular.   Her son, like my Braeden, was strong willed and stubborn. And also like mine, the regular "types" of discipline (time-outs, spanks, etc.) just weren't cutting it.  She began thinking creatively and explained that with our little ones (particularly ages 1-12), we, as parents, need to save our words and lectures and find a way to put our lessons into a picture or story.  Sounds pretty simple, but for me. it was an "Aha!" moment.

For instance, her son had a way with his tongue and was consistently saying hurtful things to his little sister.  After time-outs and spanks, it wasn't lessening!  So Lisa thought of something new to do with this son of hers.  She bought some nails and gave him a hammer and took him out into the back yard.  every time he said something to hurt his sister, he hammered a nail into a fence post.  To this little boy, what could be better?! Not only did he get to say mean things, he got to use a hammer and nails! And it was cool for the first nail and the second, but soon after that it became old and was losing it's appeal!  After two weeks, she explained to him that the fence post was like his sister's heart.  It was full of hurtful nails.  So, for every time he said something hurtful, he NOW had to give her two praises and then could come out into the back yard and remove a nail.  A  week later, she showed him that while the nails were gone, there were still holes, similar to his sister's heart. 
It was something for him to physically see.  He could connect the visual of a fence post full of holes with his sister's heart!  Lisa explained that while after that her son still said hurtful things to his sister, it was less!  And it was a visual he could carry with him as he grew older.

All that to say, I learned a lot from her!  So much so, that I decided that Jon and I should read her book, Creative Correction!  We bought it and as soon as I'm done, I'll let you know what I think!

Lisa Welchel and me!

And then, the superbowl!!  I admit up front that I didn't really pay attention to the game, however, I did fill out a pre-game quiz (tried to guess scores and different statistics) and I completely guessed.  I mean, I had NO IDEA what I was talking about!  But I must have done ok because I got a good load (a butt-load if it were my husband talking) of candy - the prize for getting a question right! (I did the same thing last year in our college basketball bracket - completely guessed - and I won the whole thing!  Woo!).
Anyways!!  It was a great time of hanging with our friends and eating from a fantastic nacho bar potluck and even more fantastic deserts (thanks to Jen and Heather!).  I was a TERRIBLE person, though, and took absolutely NO pictures while hanging out with these guys!  Why wasn't I thinking?!  I did however, get a picture of the boys' room after a night of said hanging out and watching the superbowl and not paying enough attention to the absolute destruction occurring in the back of the house!  It's amazing what four little 3 and 4 year olds can do in the course of an evening!

As I walked back at the end of the game....

I walk back to find Eli... "Aww, look at Eli!  Eli are you a construction worker tonight?  You look so cuuu...."

"....Holy Smokes!  What have you boys been doing back here?!"
Apparently they dumped out every toy in every box in that room!  Oh well, it gave the parents the chance to sit and watch a game together without a ton of kids' distractions.  Can't complain about that!

Oh, and Go Packers!!

Saturday, February 05, 2011

They fixed Jingles?!

These last few days have been pretty calm (and seriously, SERIOUSLY cold.  Like, -60 degree windchill cold.  Just crazy!) and with the calm came some sickness in our home.  Poor Landen has been kind of pathetic and puny - lying around and wanting nothing but cuddles, which I am not complaining about, however if you know my boy, that is not normal!  So, I've been skirting my laundry responsibilities (surprise, surprise!) to snuggle with him.  And I don't regret it in the least!  

See those rosy red cheeks?  Those are fevery, not feeling good cheeks!  It was all we could do to get him to smile for the camera!

Over Christmas vacation, we managed to lose (again!)  Braeden's lovey.  The first time was his baby blankey (which I still miss so much sometimes!) a year and a half ago or so.  This time, it was his red puppy, Jingles, and we still haven't found it.  He has been crying on and off since Christmas when he realizes again that it's missing.  Jon came to the rescue, though, and found another online and ordered it.  Braeden received his package in the mail the other day and this snuggle/kiss/cheering-fest ensued.  He was SO happy to have his puppy home!  He actually believes it was his old puppy and decided that someone found it and fixed the loose threads for him.  It was so sweet that we didn't correct him, so he still believes this!

 And last, but certainly not least, I've been following this sweet girls' story since the beginning.  Kate  is just a little older than Emerson, so it seems to hit home every time I read more of her story.  If you can, please pray for her.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Mommy Blogland

The world of blogging is HUGE, isn't it?  I never knew how many professional mommy/wife blogs there were until recently!  I was reading a friend's blog and then clicked on someone else's link from that page and then someone else's... until I was sufficiently overwhelmed by the pure volume of really good mommies and wives out there!  

So good, in fact, that they have anywhere between a hundred and two thousand followers!  They even have sponsors and copyrights for their blogs.  Crazy!  That's amazing to me!  I know I'm probably naive and this is news to no one but me, but I am just, well... amazed!  

I have a friend who recently quit blogging because she didn't understand why her words, or anyone elses, were any more important than anyone else's and why they needed to be published on a blog screaming for others' attention.  

And it got me thinking.  I'm fairly new, or at least naive, to this blogging thing, right?  I guess I really don't know why anyone should take time out of their day to read my blog.  It's nothing terribly exciting.  I'm not a "super"-mom or wife.  I don't have exciting or adventurous things to document about my day-to-day life! 

I began to get a little self-conscious about the fact that I have only a handful of followers.  And most of the time no one comments on my blog.   So... why am I wasting time on something that not many people care about or want to set aside time to read  (especially because I am no writer by any stretch!).  

Skip to a related story... the other morning I stumbled upon someone else's blog.  She was pouring her heart out about self-esteem issues that she struggled with stemming from a childhood illness.  I didn't know who she was, but it moved me because I, like her, have also struggled with a childhood disease (nothing life-threatening), that has traveled with me through time.  The physical effects come and go pretty mildly, but I've carried the emotional affects with me throughout my life.  Things that her and I, as it seems, are trying to shed and still get past some twenty years later!  

I connected with her.  And I imagine that's why she was blogging... because she wanted to be heard. And her commenters/friends wanted to be there for her.  Because God has placed in us a desire to be understood and to understand and to comfort and be comforted and to celebrate with and to be celebrated.  And what a great way, in the 21st century, to do it by putting it out there in bloggyland!  

Another thing, blogging has become somewhat of a therapy to me.  I have never been a writer, but I feel like being able to articulate my thoughts and experiences day to day, help me process them, help me see and map out a little more clearly what God IS doing in my day-to-day seemingly mundane life.  

So, reader or no readers, this blog is for me to remember what I was doing today and yesterday!  And whether my words are read by the multitudes or by just a few, at least I'm sharing a little bit of my life with others, which is good.


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