The Thankful Project

photo (25)Parenting is not always glamorous or cute or even fun. The other day I was sitting on the couch watching both of my kids cry at me, for what felt like the hundredth time that day. These sweet, crazy, LOUD children were crying at me again. And in this moment I had a choice: I could succumb to the anger and frustration that were starting to boil up inside me, or I could be thankful. Yes, thankful.

Thankful for these sweet, crazy, LOUD children who I had desperately longed for and prayed for. Thankful that the reason I get to witness a hundred fits each day is because I am able to stay home to help raise them. Thankful that they have lungs that are strong and work well–really well. Thankful that I could comfort them in their time of need. Thankful–just thankful.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to document some of these ordinary moments of thankfulness–perform a little thankful project, if you will. For the last couple of weeks I’ve kept a notebook on my kitchen counter and, every time I’ve noticed them, I’ve written down the things that I’m thankful for. What I’ve found during this little experiment is that I’m looking for more reasons to be thankful–and, as a result, I am feeling more thankful. Some of the things that I wouldn’t typically pay any notice to are becoming fuel for my thankful heart. Things like:

  1. The sound of Jacob’s sweet little toddler/man voice
  2. The feel of David’s long body curled up on my lap
  3. Morning snuggles with my boys in my bed
  4. The smell and feel of Jacob’s hair
  5. That I kept my cool during David’s hour-long tantrum
  6. Hearing the sputter-breath at the end of a tantrum that signals the screaming is over
  7. Having a BBQ outside in November
  8. Meeting my friends’ kids and seeing my kids befriend these kids
  9. Having a washing machine in my house so I can easily wash things any time I need to
  10. That I have choices of schools for my children–even if, for the life of me, I can not make up my mind on which choice to choose
  11. Solo runs to clear my head
  12. Making my kids laugh
  13. Getting the best parking spot in the lot
  14. Friends who point me to Jesus
  15. Building sandcastles with my boys
  16. Bedtime.
  17. Meeting new babysitters who can help us
  18. Patient teachers who pray for my son
  19. Getting out of my comfort zone and meeting new people. It’s always worth it.
  20. Feeling transported back to Ireland every time I sip Barry’s tea
  21. Working with an honest mechanic
  22. Salted caramel cupcakes. Oh my yum.
  23. Being the first shopper to walk in the door at Costco on a weekday morning
  24. Reminiscing with old photos
  25. Disposable diapers and rubber gloves
  26. My handyman husband who fixed our stuck door–I probably would have just dealt with it forever, and been annoyed every single time I used it.
  27. That I can turn on a cartoon for the kids and get a 20 minute break
  28. Neighbors that have welcomed us to our new neighborhood and made us feel like family
  29. Reading books with my boys
  30. Hearing leaves crunch underfoot
  31. Seeing David and Jacob give each other hugs on their own, just because
  32. Amazon Prime
  33. Baking muffins with my boy and hearing him squeal with delight when he cracks the eggs
  34. The opportunity to pray with my boys when things aren’t going well and we need some help
  35. Our weekly gardening service
  36. David and Jacob signing their prayer song at dinner time
  37. Jon’s dedication and passion for his job–that he works hard for our family so I can “work from home”
  38. Watching Jon and the boys wrestle on the bed at night
  39. Throwing marshmallows for the boys (it’s a Peterson thing…)
  40. A full fridge and pantry that are only ever empty because of neglect, not need for resources
  41. Stealing a few minutes to read a magazine
  42. Welcoming visitors into our home
  43. Baking cookies for the old man that reminds me of my grandpa who lives down the street
  44. The boys eating carrots like they’re little rabbits while we walk through the farmer’s market
  45. Parks that we can walk to
  46. A garage that keeps my car toasty on a frosty morning
  47. Watching our dog, Bota, watching the squirrels in our yard
  48. Giant cardboard boxes that can be turned into hours of imaginative entertainment
  49. Planning surprises for my boys
  50. The smell of the earth after it rains
  51. Splashing in puddles
  52. Fresh flowers on my mantle
  53. Spending one-on-one time with each of my boys every day
  54. Organizing things in my house
  55. The feel of Play-Doh squishing through my fingers
  56. Drinking hot chocolate with my boys
  57. Jacob doing “upside downs” (somersaults)
  58. David getting dressed by himself
  59. Talking to my mom and sisters on the phone
  60. Hearing babies cry in church
  61. Being able to find my way around with less and less help from GPS
  62. Studying and learning at BSF
  63. Hearing that David and Jacob wanted to sit together and hold hands during the large group time at church
  64. Little notes from my cousins
  65. Having a camera on my phone to capture life’s little moments
  66. Feeling Jacob play with my hair in his tiny toddler hands
  67. Playing at library story time with Jacob
  68. Rest
  69. Finding the perfect gift for someone I love
  70. Listening to David playing Toy Story and using all the voices for the different characters
  71. Yoga pants
  72. Shopping for deals
  73. Fresh, clean sheets on my bed
  74. Kissing boo-boos better
  75. The way Jacob snarls his nose
  76. Receiving letters from our sponsor child at World Vision
  77. Time to write
  78. Jacob’s curly hair when he wakes up from a nap
  79. Writing our annual Christmas letter and reflecting on the past year
  80. Hearing my favorite songs pop up on Pandora
  81. Listening to the conversations of my kids and their friends
  82. Teeny tiny socks
  83. Wearing pretty jewelry
  84. Making blanket forts
  85. The way Jacob calls DVD’s and CD’s “ABCD’s”
  86. Stroking soft little baby ears
  87. The way David sticks out his tongue a bit when he’s concentrating really hard on something.
  88. The appearance of red cups at Starbucks
  89. Rainbows on my drive home
  90. Unexpectedly running into someone I know
  91. Wearing flip flops
  92. Jon bringing home dinner so I don’t have to cook
  93. Watching the boys playing nicely together…for a moment
  94. Hearing my kids say what they are thankful for
  95. Friends around the world
  96. The smell of coffee brewing–even though I don’t drink it, I love the smell
  97. Jon making me chai tea before he leaves for work
  98. That my kids are still little–this stage of life
  99. David asking me, “Can I keep you forever?”
  100. The clicking sound David makes with his tongue when he’s falling asleep
  101. The sight of two sleeping babes curled up in their beds

…and the list goes on. My new goal in this busy time of motherhood is to continue this Thankful Project, to look for new ways to appreciate each moment. And to you, Friend, may you find many moments of gratefulness in your own life.

From my family to yours, Happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Holidays and Traditions, Kids and Parenting, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Photo Tour Through My Silicon Valley Home

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Ah, home sweet home. A few short months ago when we found out that we would be moving, I started dreaming about the kind of home we would have in California. Little did I know that finding and securing a house in Silicon Valley is about as easy as walking backward on a tightrope across Niagara Falls. Oh, and you have to pay a ransom of your entire life savings to do it.

In the end, though, we did find a house that we are now making our home. Since the STARTING price of a home in the area is a hair over $1 million (seriously, people, I do not understand this craziness), we decided to rent for awhile so we can feel out the place. Even if we did have that kind of money to shell out, we weren’t going to do it right away. Moving with three-week’s notice halfway around the world with two young children was enough drama for me to handle in one summer–no need to throw in real estate agents and endless house tours on top of that.  Now that all is said and done, we are quite happy in our new pad. It’s a great house in a cute neighborhood and, as long as we only eat peanut butter sandwiches and macaroni, we can even afford the rent.

This weekend we’re having a housewarming party at our new house but, since most of you won’t be able to make it in person, I thought I’d give you a little tour here. So, welcome! Welcome to our home.

We usually enter our house from the side door because that’s where our garage is. If you come in off the street, though, you get to use our front door that is usually reserved for guests and my Amazon Prime delivery guy.

IMG_0659Turning to your left from the entry way you see the door to our mudroom/laundry room and our playroom.

The laundry room is quite the unique feature for a home in this area, as most people seem to have their washer and dryer out in the garage. After 13 months of walking through the rain to my garden shed to do laundry in Ireland, though, I could not be more thrilled to have everything conveniently located inside my house again.  There is a door from the laundry room that leads outside to our back yard, but we’ll get to that in a moment.IMG_0662Just outside of the laundry room is our ginormous play room and book nook.
IMG_0660 Yes, we have a playroom. In our pre-kid days, this probably would have been our living room with a big screen TV and surround sound and all kinds of pretty, breakable knick-knacks on the shelves. In reality, though, the children have taken over our lives…and our home. As a result, the kids claim approximately 90% of the home’s square footage as “their space”.IMG_0661There’s a little hallway off the playroom that we use to access the “south wing” of the house. The first room in the south wing is David and Jacob’s bedroom. We decided to have the boys share a room in the new house because we wanted to reclaim the third bedroom for ourselves. It’s a pretty simple room, mostly because the boys make it their mission to destroy anything they can get their hands on (Case in point: the bookshelves. I’d been wanting to hang these vertical shelves on a wall for three houses now, so I was ecstatic to finally put them up in the boys’ bedroom. It took only a few short hours, though, for a boy to attempt climbing the shelves, rip said shelves off the wall, and fall into a scream-y, shelf-y, book-y heap on the floor. We re-hung the shelves and nobody’s tried to climb them again since.)IMG_0683 We also got the boys bunkbeds for their new room. They mostly use the bunkbeds for mountaineering practice, as they climb up anywhere BUT the ladder, and flying lessons, as they find their way down any way BUT the ladder. IMG_0684 Next door to the boys’ room is their bathroom (a.k.a. the target practice room).IMG_0682 The last room in the south wing is our office. Despite our best efforts to make this room into “our space”, we have already set up the Pac ‘n Play (“baby cage”) for those nights when the boys’ “sharing a bedroom” just isn’t working for any of us.IMG_0687 Moving right along, now. If you were to turn to your right from our entry way, you would enter the “north wing” of the house. There’s a big wall that divides the space in this section of the house, and I had a lot of fun decorating it with family photos and memorabilia.IMG_0681Right behind the family collage wall is the master bedroom. To be honest, I have put very little thought into this room. The only important thing was that we finally get to sleep in our own bed again, so we didn’t really care about anything else. The room has a lovely assortment of mismatched Ikea furniture and Rubbermaid storage boxes lining the walls–Martha Stewart would be so proud. There’s also a bathroom off the master bedroom that has the home’s only bathtub. As a result, it is always full of bath toys and hooded bath towels.photo (24)Just outside of the master bedroom is the kitchen and Great Room. Even though our house was built in 1941 it’s seen a few upgrades over the years, including the kitchen’s white tiles and florescent lighting (circa 1993) and stainless steel appliances (circa 4 months ago).IMG_0679The kitchen’s island opens up to our Great Room, a shared space for our living room and dining room. Our family spends almost all of our indoor-time hanging out together in these rooms.IMG_0674The dining room has double doors that open up to a patio, a breezeway to our detached garage, and our back yard.IMG_0671 The back yard is one of my favorite features of the house. It’s a large yard with plenty of room to run around and play. And, since it’s sunny and 70 degrees every day here, we pretty much live out here. Our dog, Bota, is queen of the yard and will only come inside the house now if we entice her with food that the boys have thrown on the floor at dinner time.IMG_0665IMG_0666Another spectacular feature of our house is the garage. It’s huge, and we’ve crammed stuff into every square inch of it (40% of the shelves contain baby paraphernalia and kids’ clothes, 40% contain Jon’s tools and electronics gadgets, and 19% contain holiday decorations and outdoor gear. That leaves 1% of the space for my stuff: a pair winter boots and a box of mementos from my childhood.)IMG_0667The garage also houses a shop sink, a stand alone freezer, and a second fridge (mostly used for Mommy and Daddy’s beverages).IMG_0668That’s it for the house, but as you’re leaving this is the view down our street. The road ends at a dead end where there are two elementary school–a standard public school and a parental involvement charter school. With David starting Big School NEXT YEAR (?!) this could come in handy.
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Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed your tour. Let me know if you’re ever in town and we’ll blow up the air mattress–er, set up the guest suite–for you!

Posted in Daily Life, Moving | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DIY String Board Art

photo (23)Our church has this beautiful piece of artwork that I have been admiring for weeks. It’s a huge mural of a tree, probably 10 feet long by 6 feet high. The entire piece is made with strings zig-zagging across a wooden background. The negative space, the shape of the tree, is the only open part on the giant mural.  It’s gorgeous and I want it. So I decided to make it. Well, sort of…

I would love to make a huge statement piece similar to the tree art some day, but for my first go I thought I would start with something a bit simpler (read: smaller). Since the boys are sharing a new room, I decided to make some monogrammed initials to put on display. The project was quite simple and only required three materials that we already had at home. Read on for the how-to:

DIY String Board Art

What You Need:
-Piece of wood (we used scraps from another project that are about 4″ x 6″)
-Hammer and small finishing nails (each of my art boards used about 60-75 nails)
-Thread, string, embroidery floss, or yarn (I used standard sewing thread, but thicker embroidery floss would have looked a bit nicer)
-Pencil and scissors

What You Do:
1. Use a pencil to draw a silhouette of the shape you want to create. I made a letter on each board, but you could just as easily do any other shape (number, tree, bird, flower, sailboat, train, etc.). My letters were drawn freehand, but if you want to be more precise you can use a stencil from an image and trace it onto your board.

2. Hammer nails along the borders of the board and your shape outline. The closer together you place the nails, the more detailed your artwork will be. Jon, my ever-industrious husband, offered to help me with the wood-and-nails portion of this project. My clumsy thumbs thank him.

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3. Erase your pencil marks from around the nails as best you can.

4. Tie your string around one of the nails with a few strong knots, leaving the string attached to the spool. Trim the “tail” of the string so it won’t get in your way when you begin wrapping the board.

5. Start by tracing the border of the board with your string. Go from nail to nail around the edge of the board. At each nail, wrap the string one or two times around the nail to help anchor it to the board, then go on to the next nail and do the same thing. After you outline the border of the board, criss-cross the string across the board and do the same thing to outline the shape.

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6. Now is the fun part! Start criss-crossing the string across the board, wrapping the string around each nail that you come to. Go crazy here, but be careful not to cross the string into your shape outline. Criss-cross and wrap to your little heart’s content–the more criss-crosses you do, the more defined your shape outline will become. My little boards took me about 20 minutes each to adequately cover in string cobwebs (now I’m glad I didn’t opt for a board the size of my big screen!).IMG_0634

7. Ta-da! A new piece of art, completed from start to finish in about half an hour.IMG_0636

This was a simple, mindless project for me to work on while The Boy watched Toy Story for the 50-gazillionth time, but I could see so many other potential applications. Rainy day art project: if you have older kids, they would enjoy helping with this project from start to finish. Seasonal decorations: how about pumpkins, leaves, stars, hearts, or Christmas trees? New baby gift: every baby needs some cute decorations for their nursery.  Whatever you decide to create, I’m sure it will turn out beautifully.

Happy crafting!

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October Visitors

October has been a busy month for us: it was our first full month in our house, our boy turned four, and we celebrated our first Halloween in California. And, to make the month already sweeter (not that we needed any help with sweets after Halloween…) we had some very special visitors come to stay.

First up was Jon’s mom–better known around here as Grammy–who flew down from Leavenworth, WA for a quick birthday surprise. David came with me to the airport to pick up his “present” and he was ecstatic to see Grammy walking out to greet him. Grammy stayed with us for a long weekend. In usual Peterson style, we crammed as much into that long weekend as we could.

We went to our new church’s annual Trunk-or-Treat (where the kids go from car-to-car rather than house-to-house begging for candy. It was a good pre-funk to the actual holiday):
IMG_0070 We visited the Winchester Mystery House, a very beautiful–and even more unusual– landmark in the area. You see, Mrs. Winchester’s late husband created the Winchester rifle in the late-1800’s and the guns were used as the primary battle weapons through two world wars. After Mr. Winchester died, Mrs. Winchester was left with loads of money…and a very unhealthy fear of the ghosts of those killed by her husband’s rifles. Fueled by her fear and financed by her riches, she spent the remainder of her life constructing the most insane house that has ever been built. In order to confuse the “spirits” she built rooms with no doors, windows at strange heights, uneven stairways, secret passageways…and she just never stopped. Her house was under construction 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for nearly two decades. Eventually poor Mrs. Winchester passed away and construction on her house finally ceased. Today you can pay a cool $40 to tour the inside of the house (bah!) or tour the extensive gardens for free (that’s more like it):IMG_0144 Grammy helped us bring David to preschool on his birthday so he could celebrate with his classmates. To the teacher’s delight, we even brought neon blue cupcakes to share (in this photo you can even see the blue mustache lingering on David’s face):IMG_0147 After school we had a little birthday dinner for David at home, then invited our neighbors over for cake and ice cream. The adults enjoyed wearing birthday hats, but the kids, not so much:IMG_0158 On Grammy’s last day in town we visited Jon at work. We got a small tour of the Apple campus and brought a picnic lunch to eat on the lawn outside of Tim Cook’s office:IMG_0168 And, just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to say goodbye to Grammy. We made one last stop at the San Jose rose gardens before dropping Grammy off at the airport:IMG_0183 After Grammy left, we had a day to clean the house and stock up at the grocery store, because our next visitors were already on their way! Next up: Aunt Jessica (my sister) and Uncle Chris from Seattle!IMG_0232Again, this was a quick long-weekend visit, so we didn’t waste any time getting the fun started. As soon as we’d picked Jessica and Chris up from the airport, we headed out to Santa Cruz for some beach time. We watched what few surfers there were (apparently we had just missed a huge surfing competition that wrapped up an hour before we arrived. Dang!) and then walked down to the beach. The boys had a great time building sand castles (read: throwing sand at people) and wading in the water (read: getting knocked over by waves as they broke on the shore). This is one of the only G-rated photos I got at the beach because it literally took about 15 minutes before both boys decided it would be best to run around stark naked. Gotta love October in California!
IMG_0256 The next day was Halloween. We spent the morning at David’s preschool Halloween party where all the kids played games, ate loads of food, and marched around in a costume parade:IMG_0289 Later in the day, we got our next group of visitors who had driven up from southern California: Aunt Erin (my other sister), Uncle Toph, and cousin Noah!IMG_0304The boys had a great time playing together and dressing up in their Halloween costumes. They were the cutest Wolverine, giraffe, and pirate I’d ever seen:IMG_0320 We all went over to our neighbors’ house for a pizza dinner before it was time to hit the streets:IMG_0344 Then it was time for what is probably the most unusual American tradition: Sending our children to strangers’ houses in the dead of night to beg for candy. This was Jacob’s first time trick-or-treating, and he handled the event like a pro. After about 45 minutes everyone’s treat bags were overflowing and we decided to call it a night.IMG_0352 The next morning after we’d all recovered from our candy comas, we moved on to our next great adventure: San Francisco! Here I am with my sisters at the end of Pier 39 with the infamous Alcatraz Island in the background:IMG_0396 We spent our day in “The City” wandering around the waterfront, eating soup from sourdough breadbowls, and taking in the beautiful views (if you look closely, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge in the background here):IMG_0406 We went to the Ghiradelli chocolate factory where we saw how chocolate is made and sampled their offerings:IMG_0412 We wanted to ride on the cable cars, but they were really expensive and the line was massive and we had tired children…so we just hopped onboard a parked trolley and snapped a photo instead. Good enough.IMG_0422 We made our way down to the marina where we boarded a boat for a short tour of the bay:IMG_0429 Our captain was awesome and he even let all the kids take turns steering the boat. David was having so much fun that he started spinning donuts and nearly steered us right into a pier:IMG_0450 From the boat, we got some incredible views looking back at the city skyline:IMG_0455 And we even drove up to the docks where hundreds of sea lions were basking in the sun:IMG_0461
Thus concluded our epic day in San Francisco.

The next day we decided to head south for one last adventure before Erin, Toph and Noah had to drive back home to L.A. The Monterey Bay Aquarium was right off the road they would be taking home, so we all went along for some fun:IMG_0487 The aquarium is incredible, and we liked it so much that our family bought an annual membership so we can return. There were massive tanks filled with every imaginable sea creature:IMG_0490 Our favorite spot, though, had to be this room where you got to stand inside a “wave” as the “tide” came in. IMG_0506 The kids were fascinated by the water running over their heads and splashing down by their feet.IMG_0510 We spent a bit of time wandering around Cannery Row outside of the museum so we could find some lunch. Monterey is such a cute little town, and I’m excited that we live close enough to visit again soon.

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Then, after an amazing couple of weeks, it was all over. Everyone went back home and we were left with a house that was a lot more empty, yet full of so much more joy. We made wonderful memories with our even more wonderful visitors–and hopefully we’ll get to host and explore and memory-make again soon!

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A Birthday Letter To My 4-Year Old Son

Birth and Coming Home 530Before my oldest son was born, I started writing letters to him. It was my way of sharing with him some of our journey together. I would document important days, like the day I found out I was pregnant and the day he was born. And now, four years later, the tradition continues.

Today is David’s 4th birthday and, like most days as a parent, I find myself wondering where the time has gone. It must have been just yesterday that I first gazed into those newborn eyes and held his warm little body close to my heart for the first time. And, as much as I’d like it to, time does not stand still. In fact, when you have young children, I think you actually enter some sort of warp-speed time zone where the years actually melt away every time you blink (perhaps the lack of sleep that comes with the territory has something to do with it!).

At any rate, time goes on and our children grow up a little bit more each day. There will never be another today, and yesterday is already a day behind us. As a way to help preserve some of these precious moments, I write them down (which is a good thing for posterity, because I think I’m literally losing my mind most days).

So, today on this momentous day in David’s life, I have written him a letter. This is a letter to my son from my mother’s heart. Happy birthday, little Day-Day. I love you most!

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October 27, 2014
Campbell, California
You are 4 years old!

Dearest David,
As I sit down to write your annual birthday letter this year I am struck by something that makes me both excited and a bit sad at the same time–you are no longer a baby. I started writing to you before you were even born. With each letter I imagined what you would be like, who this baby would be. And now, 4 years later, I am starting to see. You are no longer a baby, but a boy who is “fearfully and wonderfully made”, a unique person who God created and chose to be part of our family.

Now that you are such a big boy, I see more and more of YOU every day–the you that makes you David, and nobody else. You are outgoing. You are confident. You are brave. You are independent. You are strong. You are adventurous. You are passionate. You are loving. You are exactly who God wanted you to be, and I am so grateful that I get to watch you grow into YOU each and every day.

This has been a big year for you, monumental. You have adapted to every change and adventure that we threw at you–and there have been lots of them! From living in Ireland to traveling the world to moving around the world for the second time in your short life, you have handled everything like a pro. In every new place and new situation you welcomed the change and carried on with confidence. You were quick to make new friends and explore your new surroundings. I’m sure that these things–seeing the world, meeting new people, exploring–will always be a part of your life.

About a month ago we moved into  our new house in California–your 4th house in 4 years! Almost every day you make some remark about how it’s always sunny in California. Other people think it’s funny, but I totally get it! After all of our years living in the rain, sun is a gift. You spend most of every day outside playing in our back yard, walking to the park, throwing balls for Bota, and inviting friends over for play dates (your new best friend, Presley, lives next door and you two play at each others’ houses every day!).

When you aren’t playing outside, you enjoy playing “Toy Story”. You love the movie “Toy Story” and you already have several of the toys from the movie. Buzz Lightyear and Mr. Potato Head are your favorites, but you also love the army guys (and you’re hoping to get your own Woody and Rex for your birthday).

You still play ball, but you aren’t obsessed with balls any more like you were when you were younger. Basketball is your favorite, so we’re going to try to sign you up for a team this winter. You also love swimming, but hate riding bikes (for some reason I just can’t understand). 

Mimi is still your lovey and she sleeps with you every night. Some day I’m sure you’ll decide you’re too big to sleep with a stuffed monkey, but for now she is your friend and your protector.

And, as far as protectors go, you are starting to be quite a good one yourself! You love your little brother and, when you aren’t trying to wrestle him or steal his toys, you are very caring toward him. You insist on being the one to go get Jacob up from his nap every day. I stand outside the door when you go in to get him and I love listening to you greet him with “Good morning, Honey!”. I pray that God would grow the love you have for your brother and that you would care for, lead, and protect him throughout your life.

David, my son, it has been a joy watching you grow and change and mature this year. I am so pleased with the boy that you are, and I can’t wait to see the man who you become some day. Your middle name, Jeremiah, comes from this verse:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.'” Jeremiah 29:11

Today on your fourth birthday, that is my prayer for you. That your life would follow God’s plan–and that I would be able to help you see that plan. That God would prosper you with the love of His Son, the Lord Jesus. That you would have hope in God, your first parent. That your future would be as bright and magnificent as your little 4-year old dreams. That you would continue to grow into YOU with the joy that comes from Above.

David, you are no longer a baby. What you are is a gift, a blessing, a privilege. You are no longer a baby, but as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be. Thank you for letting me be your mommy.

I love you most!

~Mommy

Posted in Holidays and Traditions, Kids and Parenting, Musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Real Life Facebook Photo Captions

Earlier this week a friend of mine posted a link to this blog. The blog features these idealized, picture-perfect stock photos of families that they edit to include true-to-life captions. It’s hilarious.

At the same time, though, it was a bit of an eye-opener for me. I mean, how many times do I post a photo on Facebook or Instagram that is “picture-perfect”, only to have the underlying story be so much more “realistic”? If the photo includes my children, there is almost certainly an unpleasant reality to the happy photos I share with the world. For instance, if I were telling the truth about these photos, this is what the captions would actually read:

“My mom is a drill sergeant. She woke me up at 6 AM to make me fold the mountain of clothes that I threw around my room last night when I was supposed to be in bed sleeping. Now I’m exhausted and I can’t even stay awake through the thrilling experience that is shopping at Costco.” 

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“My parents tried to do something really nice for my birthday by taking me to watch my heroes, the toys from Toy Story, skating at Disney on Ice. I repaid them for their generosity by having a meltdown at the souvenir stand when they said I couldn’t have all of the ridiculously overpriced toys they were selling at the show. I was throwing such a royal fit that I got carried out of the arena like I was Prince Ali.”IMG_0002“The only reason we’re sitting still right now is because we are licking jam off our fingers. We spent the rest of this playdate stealing toys from our guests and screaming any time it was suggested that we might share.”photo
“Our new bunkbeds are great. We like trying to fly off of them. And the rails taste really good. It’s also quite entertaining watching mom try to change sheets on the top bunk after I pee on them.”IMG_0005 “I begged mom to buy me a new ball and, since she wanted to have a pleasant day, she broke under pressure and actually gave me what I wanted. It only took about 5 minutes for my little brother to throw the ball off the pier into the ocean. Mom hasn’t bought me another ball since then.”IMG_0006 “Mom told me she’d give me a lollipop if I kissed my brother.”IMG_0007 “Mom made the mistake of giving me “choices” on school picture day. She offered me three shirts to choose from, and I chose all three. When she tried to make me choose just one, I tore off all my clothes and refused to get dressed until I could choose my own outfit. I wore all three shirts for school picture day. #ftw”

IMG_9999So you see, life isn’t picture-perfect–especially life with kids. Every day is filled with its own challenges and meltdowns and refusals and fits. But thankfully, life is also filled with beautiful moments. Either way, get your cameras ready. We’re making memories here, folks–even if they are a bit shy of reality.

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20 Things Little Boys Do

boynoisewithdirtblueSo, I grew up in a family of all girls (my dad is a saint). My childhood was all pink and ballet-y and sweet. Nothing could have prepared me, then, for my current situation. The tables have turned, and now I find myself the mother of boys (thank goodness at least the dog is on my team).

Before my sons were born, I was either naive or ignorant or blind. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into. I now stand corrected. You see, little boys are not just a variance on little girls–they are a totally different creature. My boys do things every day that literally stop me in my tracks and say, “Huh….?”.

To illustrate my point, here is a sampling of 20 things little boys do:

1. Think they can fly–It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s…DAVID, GET OFF THAT ROOF RIGHT THIS INSTANT!!!!

2. Throw All The Stuff–balls, rocks, toys, their shoes, feces (sorry, but if that one got to you, you may want to stop reading this post right now).

3. Despise shoes. And pants.–A home with little boys is basically a tiny nudist colony.

4. Urinate in inappropriate places–Forget “missing the toilet” (which they will do without fail every time they pee, by the way). Just wait until you see the very unusual and, sometimes, shocking, public places they choose to drop their pants. I have photographic evidence of the horrendous places my son has chosen to relieve himself. I would share the photos here, but I’m saving them for blackmail when he’s a teenager.

5. Make it their personal mission to destroy All The Stuff–Have something you like? Yeah? Really? Well, if you have a little boy, you might as well kiss it goodbye right now. It will just make the future destruction more bearable.

6. Shred to pieces every pair of pants they own–Since they’re never actually wearing pants, I don’t know how it’s possible for them to wear holes and tears into every pair they own.

7. Lick All The Stuff–I mostly just try to ignore it because my stomach just can’t handle the truth.

8. Be fascinated with their own male anatomy–It starts young, folks.

9. Relate to their favorite super hero on a deeply personal level–They will literally think they are Superman/Batman/Spider Man/The Hulk/Wolverine/Captain America/Luke Skywalker/Buzz Lightyear.

10. Turn All The Stuff into guns/lasers/shooters/swords/canons/projectile-spewing objects–This is not taught, it is ingrained in their psyche.

11. Produce a disproportionate level of noise for the size of their body–My ears hurt too much to comment on this one.

12. Eat All The Stuff–SERIOUSLY.

13. Sleep in unusual places–Beds are for wusses.

14. Put All The Stuff in their pockets–I could start a small (but growing) art gallery with the collection I have removed from pockets on laundry day. Perhaps I’ll donate our gallery to the Guggenheim some day.

15. Fall down randomly like they’re fainting goats or something–Running, running, running, DOWN.

16. Think you are ACTUALLY CUTTING OFF THEIR FINGERS every time you trim their fingernails. Every. Single. Time.

17. Think their own bodily functions are hilarious–Nothing in God’s green earth can produce as much joy in a boy’s heart as the sound of a burp or a fart.

18. Spend hours enthralled by nothing but a pile of sticks and rocks–Oooh! Can we break them? Can we throw them? Can we eat them? Can we stuff them all in our pockets?

19. Injure themselves incessantly–see #1 and #15. And make sure you know the fastest route to the E.R. from your home, your son’s school, and your son’s favorite parks.

20. Think their mommy is a princess/The Queen/their wife–You can now disregard #’s 1-19, because this is the truth. If you are the mother of a little boy he will absolutely adore you. He will think you are royalty. He will guard and protect you as if his own little life depended on it. His cuddles will melt your heart anew every single day, and you will know that you are the luckiest person in the world. The luckiest, happiest, most exhausted person in the world–because you are the mother of a little boy.

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