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Wreath Obsessed

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Since buying our first house in 2006, I have slowly found myself becoming a “wreath on the front door” person.  It started with my Halloween one and then Christmas followed.  I now have a Valentine’s one as well thanks to my niece Amya.  I found this one on etsy last year and decided that an Easter one should be next on my list.

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http://www.etsy.com/listing/123613527/spring-wreath-easter-wreath-pastel?ref=sr_gallery_15&ga_search_query=easter+wreath&ga_order=most_relevant&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_search_type=all

I still like this one better, but I decided to make my own for a much cheaper price and it will work just fine.

I went to Hobby Lobby and bought the pre-woven wood wreath ($3.99).  I also bought speckled eggs, the pearl fronds (all 40% off) and used some ribbon I had laying around the house.

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I then positioned the eggs how I wanted them and used the hot glue gun to fasten them to the wreath.  Easy enough.

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Next I added the pearls to give it a little something extra.  I tied the ribbon on the top and it was ready to be hung.

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Happy Easter

Decoupage

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de·cou·page
ˌdāko͞oˈpäZH/
noun
noun: découpage; noun: decoupage; plural noun: decoupages
  1. the decoration of a surface with applied paper cut-outs, often finished with varnish or lacquer.

This is one of my favorite art projects to do with the girls.  It’s so simple and pretty foolproof.  All you need is tissue paper or some other paper product and Modge Podge (I actually just use Elmer’s mixed with water for the girl’s projects).  Then, you pick whatever object or surface you want to cover and let them “paint” until everything is good and coated.  You could use this concept to decorate jewelry boxes, holiday projects, etc… I even used this idea to make canvas art for our playroom, covered in torn out pages from children’s books.  I can’t stress enough how easy this is.

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This week we made “stained glass” Easter eggs.  I cut out an egg frame from poster board and laid wax paper on it.  The girl’s then did the tissue paper additions to their masterpieces.

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They turned out really pretty and they had a lot of fun making them.

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St. Patrick’s Day

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I am not Irish.  I don’t even think I have a little in me.  However, I do enjoy the holiday and the food and drinks that come along with it.  And even though I don’t eat meat, I try new Irish recipes every year for my husband.  Trying new recipes is fun for me, even if I don’t get to eat them.

Anyway, since the holiday is right around the corner, (hopefully signaling the beginning of Spring), I thought I would share some of my Irish food success stories.

Easy Shepherd’s Pie

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http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/easy_shepherds_pie/

Biscuit Topped Beef and Guinness Pie

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http://www.heathersfrenchpress.com/2014/03/biscuit-topped-beef-guinness-pie.html

Guinness Cupcakes With Bailey’s Frosting

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http://www.food.com/recipe/guinness-cupcakes-with-baileys-frosting-360499

 

Soapbox

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“He’s really good with the ipad.”

“She knows how to use my smart phone better than I do.”

I can’t tell you how often I hear this spoken with pride.  My kids have been exposed to both of these devices… it is almost impossible for kids these days not to be.  But, while they know how to use them (it’s not that hard), they don’t grasp the magnitude of what these gadgets are capable of, nor do they use them effortlessly.  And you know what… I am proud of THAT.

They also do not own a single hand held device, and they have no idea that game consoles even exist.  I plan to keep the Wii we do own under wraps for as long as possible.  Nora does play games on my computer and both girls play on my phone on occasion, but it’s a treat.

Call me old fashioned, or even just old, but I hate the role technology plays in the lives of children these days.  I cringe when I am at family holidays and look around to see almost everyone engaged with their devices instead of each other.  It makes me sad, really sad.  I think it’s strange that kids have their own tablets at such a young age, when I don’t even own one myself.  I am determined to teach my kids to play board games, hide and go seek and a love of the library.  I try to take them outside as much as possible.  I LOVE that the preschool they will both attend is technology free.

Habits are created easily.  I am just as guilty as the next person of unconsciously checking my phone throughout the day.  I don’t even know why I do it.  I owe it to my children to try to teach them healthy habits such as a love of the outdoors and discovery instead of a love of continual visual entertainment.

So, for now, I am really happy that my kid’s are still amazed when they are exposed to electronic games.  They haven’t become desensitized to it yet because it is not a part of their daily life.  I know my days are numbered as I can’t shelter them from it forever, but I that won’t stop me from trying.

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Empty Nest – Phase One

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I am in the process of scheduling Meredith’s preschool interview.  It feels surreal because she is still very much a baby in some ways.  She is still working on learning to use the potty and still she has the typical two year old meltdowns.  She still needs a little help getting herself dressed.  But, the fact of the matter is that she will be three in just two short months and will be entering the three year preschool program at VMM this coming Fall.  And I know she will be ready.

But, I don’t know if I am.

Having my baby enter school is a much different emotional experience for me than when my oldest did.  Don’t get me wrong, I know there is some beauty in it.  Once they are both in preschool, I will have three hours every morning to go to the grocery store or run errands by myself.  I can schedule things like my doctor’s appointments and hair cuts without having to worry about child care or dragging them with me.  I can vacuum or clean the house, something that takes me all day currently because I am constantly stopping to tend to someone’s imminent demands.  I could even go grab a coffee and read a book at a cafe.  Yes, there is a lot to look forward to.

However, there is a part of me that is not sure how I will adjust.  For the last four and a half years I have been a hands on Mom for virtually every second of my life that has not been spent at my paying job.  I am admittedly a little saddened by the idea that I will no longer have a little one underfoot.  It is going to be a little bit lonely.

Watching your children grow up is such a bittersweet experience.  You are so excited to see them grow and learn.  But with each passing milestone you also see the loss of others.  Every time Meredith asks me to hold her, just because, I try to soak in as much of the experience as possible because soon she will be too big for me to hold like that.  Or worse, she will stop wanting me to.

In the past, every time Nora reached a new milestone in her life, it would hold a mixture of wistfulness and excitement.  But, I could let go and feel the excitement more because I still had Meredith who wasn’t quite there yet.  Having both of my kids in school is closing the chapter on a specific part of their childhood and as a result also in my experience as a mother.  This is a fact of life.  There is no freezing time or turning back the clock.

I understand why parents cry when they drop their kids off for their first day of preschool and eventually (hopefully) college.  I am learning yet another challenging part of being a parent… letting go.  I guess I should be grateful it comes in stages.  I don’t think many parents would be successful at it otherwise.

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My Pinkalicious Daughter

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Earlier today, we were in the car, driving to drop Meredith off at her grandparents so that Nora and I could meet some friends downtown for lunch and to see Pinkalicious at The Children’s Theatre.  I stopped at a light and turned around to look at the girls in the backseat.  Nora had the most precious smile of joy on her face as she looked up towards the ceiling of the car.  When I followed her gaze, I realized that she was watching the sparkly lights that my wedding ring was making in the sunlight.  “It looks like the stars”, she said.  I fell in love with my oldest daughter all over again in that moment.

I love both of my kids immensely.  But, I absolutely love those special one on one moments that I get with each of them from time to time.  Now that Nora is in school, I am blessed to have a lot of mornings with Meredith.  We have snuggle story time and gymnastics class together.  We go get coffee and bagels together.  We take walks and go to the park when it’s nice out.  That time means so much to me.  However, the flip side is that I don’t get as much special time with just Nora.  Today, was a day for the two of us.

Pinkalicious was the perfect play to go see with my cupcake loving, pink wearing, girlie girl. 

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And the fact that the weather blessed us with a gorgeous sunny break from the snowy cold of this winter didn’t hurt either.  Aside from the moment in the car, here are my top memories from the day:

1) Seeing such a genuinely happy smile on Nora’s face when we first got downtown and walked out onto Fountain Square.

2) When Nora tried to order her chocolate milk from the hostess at the hostess stand at Rock Bottom as soon as we walked in.  The hostess must never be around young kids because she had a look of shock on her face and didn’t know how to break it to her that she wasn’t the one who would be getting our drinks.

3) Drinking a draft beer and eating yummy fish tacos for lunch.

4) Feeling warm sunshine on my face.

5) Seeing Nora and her friend Adelynn holding hands as we walked to the play, listening to them yell something (Amy and I aren’t entirely sure what) at the top of their lungs over and over again.

6) Watching Nora’s face as she knelt on her chair watching the first 15 minutes of the play.

7) Snuggling with Nora as she sat on my lap for the rest of the play.

8) Enjoying a relaxing afternoon with Amy and her precious daughter outside of work.

9) Having a real conversation about life with Nora (when did she grow up?) on the drive to pick up her sister.

10) And later, enjoying some outside time with BOTH of my girls.  First, at the park and then on our deck.

 

I am blessed.

The Stage You Don’t See Coming

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Terrible Twos.

Troublesome Threes.

People talk about these two phases of development pretty regularly.

In my opinion, the terrible twos are due to the fact that their little communication skills are not even remotely close to being fine tuned, which results in easily triggered frustration and tantrums.  And lord knows you can’t reason with them.

My theory about the troublesome threes is that they are really just an extension of the terrible twos, but since they are a year older, it’s even less cute.

I was prepared for these.  I was ready.

What I wasn’t ready for is the stage that no one tells you about.  Until one day, you turn around, and there you are looking at your precious little four year old and you realize… you are now in the Frightening Fours.

So let me tell you a little bit about this stage from my current life with Nora.  This is the age where they start learning some of those unpleasant little personality traits that they have, up until now, been too young to grasp in their complexity.

Things like lying.  Oh, the lying.  Thank goodness Nora isn’t very good at it, because she does it all the time.  I despise lying.  It’s immediate time out in this house.  And it’s tricky because then if she doesn’t lie, I have to find an alternate punishment that still addresses the inappropriate behavior I am calling her out on, but doesn’t punish her for telling the truth.  But, seriously, when did she start thinking so elaborately to plan out her actions AND the cover up?

Most of the time I feel like I am talking to myself.  She will look me in the eye, I will explain to her why I don’t like a certain behavior and she will turn right around and do it anyway.  Then when she gets in trouble for not listening, I get to hear “Mom, you never let me do anything fun.”  Oh yes, I forgot, the only fun in this house requires being allowed to climb up the door to the deck, using the trim as a ladder.  (Yes, she actually does this.)

We are also entering into the age where things that were “excusable” before are now bratty and rude.  And I can’t even begin to wrap my head around the limit testing that is going on right now.  I feel like I am constantly working to try to mold this precious little creature into a kind and decent human being.  And it is work.  The growing pains are testing me in ways I wasn’t quite ready for.  The fours… they are rough.

I am slowly beginning to accept the fact that parents never figure it out.  We are frantically trying to keep our heads above water, while making our children think we are actually effortlessly floating on top.  But, I guess all things worth having are worth working for.

Someone I know recently said that she has enjoyed her daughter at every age she has been.  I think this is true.  It is so fun watching your children grow and change, even when there are things you don’t like about those stages as well.  So four years old.  It is a challenge.  But there is a lot to love about the age.

Nora has an absolutely incredible imagination, determined independence, and genuine excitement and enjoyment of new things and experiences.  She tells me stories she makes up and I can’t believe the thought and detail that goes into them.  She is so loving and sweet.  She gives great hugs.  She dances with abandonment and joy.  Nora is so proud of every new accomplishment or difficult task that she manages to master.  She loves making new friends and finding out what makes them similar and different.  She sings at the top of her lungs.  She is creative.  She is caring and offers to take care of me and her baby sister when we are hurt or sad.  She is accepting of everyone.  She is mine.

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Orange Rhino

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ImageA friend (who I greatly admire for her ability to not yell) directed me to this website a while back.  The author has several very interesting articles on how to work towards a life style where you learn how to better manage your frustrations and anger towards others, primarily your kids, and eliminate yelling from your daily life.

12 Steps to Stop Yelling at your Kids

This concept intrigues me.  I yell more than I would like to admit.  And while sometimes, I do feel it is justified, I also realize that A) it really doesn’t help anything and B) it doesn’t make me feel any better.  I also know that I tend to yell at my kids more when I am mad at my husband.  How is that fair?

This past week I decided to take another look at this website.  I especially identify with what she says about triggers and how being aware of these (and preparing ahead of time to emotionally deal with them) can make a world of difference.

Tracking my Triggers

How to Fight Yelling Triggers and Win

The Orange Rhino also talks about how, when deciding to eliminate yelling from your life, you should set goals.  Her goal was 365 days, but she encourages people to set smaller goals if that is what they need to do.  So, I decided to give this a try.  My goal, sadly, was one day of not yelling.  A tiny goal, but ya know what… I did it.  I did not yell today.  Now, this does not translate into not feeling aggravated, stressed or upset.  And it was not easy, which I did expect.  But, every time I felt my voice rising, I was able to call it into check and take a breath and either take a minute to regroup or formulate a new approach to whatever interaction with my girls was currently frustrating me.  And we still had a few times outs… one Meredith even put herself in.  But, all of this was done with relative (external) calmness.

My new goal: 2 days

Because I think that what she says here makes sense and sounds wonderful.

http://theorangerhino.com/10-things-i-learned-when-i-stopped-yelling-at-my-kids/

From the Mouths of Babes

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Love this.  However, I also think you should listen to your kids because, quite honestly, they are really funny.  At least I think mine are.  It doesn’t matter how aggravated or exasperated I am with them.  They can manage to pull out the most random and truly comical things ever and make me smile.  They make me laugh on a daily basis.

A few gems from today:

Me: Nora, did you clean up your toys yet?

Nora: Yes

Me: When?  Because I haven’t seen you move from the couch.

Nora: Maybe I used my mag-ick!

***

Meredith: (Out of nowhere) My booty is talking to me.

***

Me: It has been a long day.  We are all running out of energy.

Nora: I still have enerties.  I have at least 200 enerties left in me.

***

Meredith: I am an astronaut.

Me: What?

Meredith: I am a staff for an airplaner.

Me: Huh?

***

So listen to your kids.  Both because you should and for the entertainment as well.

Best Compliment I Ever Received

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“You are so patient with your kids.”

Hands down, best thing anyone has ever said to me.  And in my opinion, not at all true.  I regularly feel like I am teetering on the edge of insanity as I listen to my kids start fighting, (within the first five minutes of being awake), about who gets to sit on which side of me on the couch.  However, if I manage to give the impression that I am patient, then I am at least outwardly doing a better job than I think.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am the world’s worst parent.  Most days, I do think I handle discipline, play and education with relative success.  But, other days… I want to cry.

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Parenting is hard.  Anyone who tells you it’s not is either in denial or lying.  I expected it to be hard, but there are certain things that are WAY harder than I anticipated.  And those are generally the things I have to struggle with every day.  The things that make me feel my least patient and effective as a parent.

Meal time for example.  There is no such thing as a simple meal with Nora.  It doesn’t matter what I give her.  It could be her favorite food.  If it is not a sweet of some kind it will inevitably take almost an hour to get her to eat.  Our meals go like this:

Nora: How many bites do I need to take?

Me: You need to eat the whole thing, it’s not that much.

Nora: But, my belly feels sick.

Me: You shouldn’t say your belly is sick when it’s not.  I won’t believe you when it’s true if you lie now.

Nora: But, how many bites?

Me: Just eat.

Nora: What kind of treat can I have?

Me: Take a bite.

Nora: But, my belly is full.

Me: Then we can save this for later, but you aren’t going to get a treat if you don’t eat dinner.

Nora: But, how many bites do I need to eat to get a treat?

Repeat over and over again.  Admit it… you are stressed just reading this aren’t you?

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Nora also struggles with constipation issues.  This existed even before food, so it’s not 100% diet related, but her lack of veggies and fruit definitely doesn’t help matters.  I don’t know how parents of truly chronically ill kids do it because it literally hurts my heart every time I have to resort to giving her an enema.  I hate hearing her cry and beg me not to, knowing that I can’t apologize for it because it needs to be done.

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And then there is Meredith, who is the first of my kid’s to require time out in public.  She isn’t that out of control, so it’s not often, but it has happened.  And it usually solves whatever behavior problem we were having, so while never fun, it is necessary from time to time.

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And the bickering… this is the ultimate in stress producing behavior.  If you are one of the lucky ones who has kids that get along, you should be saying prayers of thanks every day.  When my two play together nicely, it is super sweet and so incredible to watch.  But, 90% of the time, it is constant whining and complaining about who had what toy first, who hit or poked who, and yes, even whose Mommy I am.  It’s exhausting.  There are definitely days when everyone (including myself) gets sent to their rooms for a mandatory 10 minutes of quiet time.  Sometimes, it is the only way everyone survives the day.

So, yes, having someone tell me I am patient with the girls meant a lot to me.  As parents, the stressful moments tend to stand out in our days.  We relive them and wonder what could have been done better or differently.  We gloss over the good moments.  That time we managed to explain away their fears or stop tears with a little bit of Mommy magic is forgotten as we struggle to take a deep breath and calmly tell them once again that we need them to eat, listen, or be nice to each other.  An observation, especially unprompted, by someone on the outside can mean the world to a parent who is sometimes too enmeshed in the situation to see the good.

So, on my really stressful days, I remind myself that I have the ability to be patient with my children.  I may not be successful 100% of the time, but I can do it.  Sometimes, simply remembering that goes a long way in winning the battle.