Lent for Kids

>> Saturday, February 28, 2009

With Lucas being almost 3 (and a human sponge) and our family attending a housechurch right now, I have been thinking a lot lately about the ways Hubby and I will teach him about Scripture and the church calender. He loves stories of all kinds so we try to use that vehicle as much as possible for teaching him about God. And just as during Advent, I want this Lenten season preceding Easter to be rich and full of learning experiences for our whole family. Lent is a unique season of focusing on prayer, on making God our priority and giving sacrificially to others. Last year, Lucas was a little young to be able to "get it." But this year, he is ready and eager to learn. He has the most tender and teachable heart and it is my job (and Hubby's) to fill his mind and heart and soul with the knowledge of God and the story of His redemptive work in us.
Here are some of the ways our family is observing Lent this year and making it inviting and exciting and meaningful for Lucas too.

Our big activity this year is our Jesus Tree. It is basically a felt tree with 47 different cut out characters (cut out by me, and yes it DID take forever!) that help tell the story of Jesus from his presentation at the temple as a boy through the resurrection. Each day, you and your little ones read a scripture or story from the Bible and then place the character on the tree. Lucas is WAY into telling stories so this is right up our alley. It is cool to work through the progression of Christ's life and parables and for me to have a plan and schedule to help me be intentional about it every day. Lucas is learning the stories and I feel like I may actually be teaching him something. Today was day4, Ash Wednesday being day 1, and there are 47 days in Lent total (including Sundays)- so you still have time to get going. This was a bit labor intensive (still is actually, I haven't finished cutting the pieces yet and they are quite intricate) but it will be something our family will hopefully use for years and years as we teach the boys about Lent and its significance in our lives and in the church.
Today's reading was from Matthew 4, the story of Jesus being tempted in the desert. The piece for the tree was a group of stones. Lucas said, "Mommy, why did Jesus not eat the rocks if He was hungry?" What valuable discussion we had then about obeying God even when it is hard and depending on God to sustain us! Cool lesson for such a little guy.

Here is our tree with the first week of symbols (I put extras up just so you could get a better idea of the concept.)

Our other little craft is a Lenten Chain. One of the ladies in our housechurch (God bless her!!) made these for all the kids. There are 40 purple links and 7white links for the Sundays. Each purple link has something for the child to do that day. Like draw a picture of why you love Jesus, clean your room, pray for kids who have less than you, tell your mommy thank you for all she does for your family, etc... Lucas loves to pull the link off for the day. Actually, he loves to pull links off in general so I have had to put it back together a couple times! :) But we have had fun with the activities so far. Tonight, he sat in his bed and prayed (with prompting) for kids "in Chicago and in Florida" (the main two places he is aware of in the world) that don't have a bed or food. "Help them to love God," he said (unprompted). Way to make your mama smile, Lucas!! I actually don't know what all the activites will be for the next 43 days, so kinda fun for mama too! :)

Another cool idea I saw last year and filed in the "cool idea to try someday" area of my brain... the Jelly Bean Prayer. I wasrecently reminded of this by a friend and, though we may not do it this year, we will do it someday because it is very, very cool. The basic idea is that the child earns a different color jelly bean for different tasks or behaviors throughout Lent. Then, on Easter morning, the jar is filled the rest of the way with white, unearned jelly beans teaching them the priceless lesson of God's amazing grace and love for us.

Links to other Lenten Activities for kids:
CatholicMom.com- some really great ideas and resources, even if you aren't Catholic (which I am not)
Homemaking through the Church Year- a great blog I often refer to for ideas and activities; She is hosting a Lenten Carnival which will have more lenten links than a girl could hope for! :)
Two Square Meals- one of my dearest friends who wrote a great post last Lenten season on how to include your kids in fasting during Lent.
Domestic-Church.org- some cool craft ideas, including this Lenten cross craft which I have prepped to do this week.
Heart Prayer During Lent- prayer ideas and scripts for leading your child in prayer and confession
Another cool list of activities... and yet another.

I hope this is helpful to you and inspires you to do some fun and teachable activities with your kids this Easter season. If you have ideas or resources to add, I would love it if you would share. If you want a copy of the templates I used to make the Jesus Tree, comment here or send me an e-mail.

May this Lenten season be reflective, refreshing to your soul, a time of deepening your faith and nurturing your heart. May it be full of precious and tender moments with your little ones, teachable for you both.

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Progress, I think.

>> Friday, February 27, 2009

After I wrote this last night, I sat on the couch - thinking, praying, regretting just a bit that I had dumped all my insecurities and issues out for all to see and judge. Feeling a little guilty for sounding so dreary and making it seem like I am never happy. I really can be a fun girl, I swear.
Then I read this from one of my dearest friends. Yes, that is me too. Weary, tired, sometimes unable to see things for how they truly are. That post reminded me of this one by another dear friend. Also me- so grateful for those special moments when your heart can hardly contain the pride and joy and blessing and depths of love for these boys.
So I sat on my couch, thinking and watching Caden sleep nearby. His precious little baby head covered in fuzzy hair except those few long strands on top that never fell out. The sweet sound of his lips smacking in his sleep (must be dreaming of nursies)and the occasional little groan as he adjusts and gets comfortable. Oh that face! I could stare at it forever. The day will come when he is 1, 2,... 10. And maybe life will be more smooth or maybe just differently bumpy. And I will miss looking at and kissing this baby.
[Note to self: Drink this in- cherish these moments, bumps and all. ]

I picked up my sleeping baby and headed upstairs for bed. This is what I found:

I don't know when Lucas went into my bed, but there he was all snuggled under my covers sleeping with daddy (who had NO IDEA he was there!). I gently woke him and led him back to his own bed. "I came to look for you, Mommy. I was missing you in my sleep," he said as we walked the short hall back to his room.
I sat next to his toddler bed supporting Caden as he nursed with one hand and rubbing Lucas' legs with the other. My weariness may cause me to miss some things, but this moment was not lost on me. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath- you know, one of those breaths where you can feel the air expanding your lungs and the stress just melting away. A cleansing breath, and with it comes renewal and awareness and peace. Before I know it, Lucas will be 3,4,5...15. And I will miss his sweet expressions of love for me and his sincere desire to just be with his mama.

Motherhood is hard. So very hard. And days like yesterday simply reinforce the truth that I cannot do it on my own. None of us can. I am fortunate to have some very sweet friends who left encouraging words for me, came over to watch my boys for an hour so I could go for a walk, and have always tried to walk beside me no matter what. Friends like that are good for my soul. And we have just entered the season of Lent, the time of the church year when we are preparing for Easter and acknowledging our need for God. My need for God feels very real right now. More real than it has in a long time. And I think that too is good for my soul. I am a work in progress with pretty regular set backs. But progress none the less. And God's hand on me is never as evident as when the final moments of a really rough day are spent cradling my sleeping angels and drinking in the beauty of the moment.
[Note to self: spend more moments taking deep breaths and letting the beauty sink in and less time worrying about all that may or may not happen in the next moment.]

P.S.~I have said all along that this blog is my journey, both good and bad. It is where I share my passions, my joys, my tears and frustrations - my life. It is where I vent my bad days and share my good ones. I am honored that anyone would want to read it. So, thank you if you do. It is therapy for me and maybe, just maybe, it can be helpful to someone else. If you are reading, I would love to follow your journey too. Thanks for joining me on mine, even if the road is a bit bumpy sometimes.

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Bump after Bump

>> Thursday, February 26, 2009

Today has truly been one of the suckiest days I have had in awhile. Although I am beginning to believe that something about me or my choices or the way I live my life makes me more prone to days like today. Could that be true? Am I imagining it? Does trouble find me more than it finds others? It sure seems that way.
Before I sum up the suck-fest that was today, let me first say that yesterday was better. It was Wednesday, thus a BibleStudy day. I made it to BibleStudy (on time, with all 3 of us clean and dressed) but the house looked like a tornado went through and the BibleStudy homework was only half done. But I decided that it was worth it to try to go anyway, and I did (I am patting myself on the back as I speak). And I am glad I did. I had a good time and Lucas came home spouting knowledge about Elijah and Elisha and how they were prophets of God and..... I felt like I had done the right thing and that felt good. And the funny thing is, the kitchen got cleaned eventually and I tidied during nap time and we even made it to an Ash Wednesday service. Progress, right?

Maybe not. That just brings us to today. Here is how it went: 5am wake up call from Lucas, speeding ticket on the way to the pediatrician, Caden gets shots, Hubby gets home and we have a huge fight about finances, Lucas won't nap, pediatrician calls- the nurse made a mistake and gave Caden the WRONG SHOTS (not a huge deal- mostly just have to watch and make sure he doesn't get measles or mumps or rubella in the next few weeks due to over exposure to the pathogens- just not what I needed today), did I mention Lucas won't nap, rush to a preschool open house in a torrential downpour,...
AHHHH... I can't take anymore. It has been "one of those days." But I feel like I have them WAY too often.
Something is not right. Life shouldn't be this complicated. Or should it? Is this just what life is- a series of challenging days, one after another with some good ones thrown in to keep us going? OR is this just my life? My life with young kids and juggling 50 million other things. My life with precious little sleep and a hubby who has an insane work schedule and little time to be with the fam. My life with high expectations that I set for myself but very rarely reach.

The last five years have not really gone the way I would ever have anticipated. Six years ago I was working full time as a nurse manager, the youngest one that hospital had ever had. I had a great career, I was good at my job and I loved it. I loved my husband, my job, my church, my life. It was at the point when we decided to go off birth control and try to start our family that life began to take a very different path. Feb '03-Feb '09: I had surgery to remove some very large ovarian tumors, I got pregnant with Micah, Micah went to be with Jesus, we bought a new house and I had to change jobs 'cuz the commute got too brutal, started looking into adoption due to our potential genetic issues, we got a dog 'cuz I needed something to nurture, we got pregnant with Lucas, transitioned to parenthood, thought we were done having kids, got pregnant with Caden, .... blah, blah, blah! Now here I am- working part-time and trying to run a very small business and trying desperately to be a good mom and wife and friend and household manager and housechurch member- and not feeling like I do ANY of it well.
Is it possible that losing Micah sent me into a tail-spin from which I have yet to recover? It feels to me that I have lost my ability to handle sucky days with any amount of grace. I get in this "poor me" mindset. "Why me?" Or more accurately "Of course this would happen to me!"

(Wow. I am depressing myself. I have probably lost all of you. Where am I going with this? )

You will probably tell me I am normal, that this happens to everyone. I'm not sure I believe you. It seems to happen more often to me, but that may be the tail-spin talking. It feels like too much, not normal, in need of SOMETHING to change. But what? Is there something about me, the life choices I have made, that makes me more susceptible to life's bumps?

If I am honest with myself, I would love nothing more than to stay home all the time and have enriching, nurturing moments with my family with the occasional time away for myself and the occasional outing with friends. I would love to not worry about our finances (which I do) or worry if I am doing what I should. I would love to make enough selling slings and working one day a week to help provide for my family so we can feel free. I would love to feel like I live life well, that I spend enough time with my boys and with Hubby and with God and by myself. I would love for days like today to not take me down to zero but that I would be able to take them in stride and say "there's always tomorrow." I would love to be able to live in the moment, cherishing the richness and adventure of life with my boys. I want to sit and enjoy a story or a puzzle with Lucas and watch Caden learn to crawl and cuddle with Hubby on the couch. I want life to feel mostly smooth with the occasional bump. I want things to feel, to BE, manageable.

I think I do have days like that. I think. Today was not one of them, but there are days when I feel like I have done life well. And then there are days that feel like bump after bump. Maybe the smooth life comes with time.

Lord, please help me live in the moment, whether bumpy or smooth, and deal gracefully with my days either way.

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Thumb Sucker

>> Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A momentous night- Caden is officially a thumb-sucker! He went to bed at 8:15 but woke at 9:30. He didn't need to nurse, he just needed help going back to sleep. I patted and sang. And then... he found his thumb and started sucking until he drifted back to sleep. Hooray!! It is something I have wished for, hoped for, thinking that it would help him learn to self-soothe and maybe sleep longer stretches at night. And it probably will. But watching him suck his thumb (while it was super, super cute!) made me jump to worrying about possible future reprecutions of this new habit. Braces? Eventually having to break the habit? There is also a small (and I mean small) twinge of "What! My baby doesn't need me to soothe him?" Oh well. For now, I hope it does help him sleep better. He is still my clingy, breastmilk loving, momma's boy. He'll just hopefully be my clingy momma's boy who sleeps most of the night in his co-sleeper and lets momma get rejuvenating rest.
I actually hear him crying now.... that's my boy! :) A little nursies and his thumb and maybe he'll be down for the count. Stay tuned...

For more Wordful Wednesday, visit Angie at Seven Clown Circus

Oh, and don't you love my new blog layout? Thank you, Drea, from Uniquely Placed!!

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Baby Legs

>> Monday, February 23, 2009

Doesn't it just make you want to kiss those fat baby thighs?!

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Time Out

>> Sunday, February 22, 2009

It is sometimes all too easy for me to go about my life and not make God part of my daily routine. I am quick to offer up a quick prayer in rushing about, but when it comes to making God a very real part of my day I often fall short.
I sat in church today as my fellow house church community went around and shared updates on their lives and needs and praises and prayer requests. As I listened, I was overwhelmed with the presence of God. It felt real and tangible and, well, right. God was there, receiving the honor we were giving as we acknowledged our need for Him and what we have already received from Him. What a simple concept, yet one that doesn't always come easy or natural. Sitting there today, I felt refreshed by the presence of God. I wanted to drink it all in and not waste this precious feeling of closeness and communion with God. But in this moment, I was also reflecting on why this doesn't happen for me more often. Why do I not feel this close communion with God all the time? I certainly have moments of despair and questioning but also moments of sheer joy and laughter. God is in all of that with me, yet I do not always focus on Him. I focus on the complexity of the situation or the depth of love I feel for my boys, not recognizing that God is there and wants to be my constant companion in both.
I need a time out. Or more accurately, I need to take time out. Time to stop during the days, during the moments, and acknowledge that God is indeed with me. He is guiding me as a mom, helping me get through my days, strengthening me and upholding me. And you too. I need to take the time to make sure my focus is Him in every moment.
I am not one to over-spiritualize things or life in general. I am practical enough and know myself well-enough to know that the reality of this will look different than the ideal. I am not a nun living in solitude (although that sounds nice from time to time). But, a good start will be to periodically just take a time out and acknowledge God's presence in my day. He is not just present with me on Sundays. He is present with me as I make Lucas waffles or put Caden down for a nap or take the dog potty for the ump-teenth time. He is present when Lucas makes me laugh or when I am so tired I want to cry. And present with you too.

Psalm 90
1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.
2 Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You turn men back to dust, saying, "Return to dust, O sons of men."
4 For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by,
or like a watch in the night.
5 You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning-
6 though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered.
7 We are consumed by your anger and terrified by your indignation.
8 You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 All our days pass away under your wrath; we finish our years with a moan.
10 The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength;
yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.
11 Who knows the power of your anger?
For your wrath is as great as the fear that is due you.
12 Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
13 Relent, O LORD! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants.
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and
be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
for as many years as we have seen trouble.
16 May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children.
17 May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us; establish the work of our hands
for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.

excerpt from Moment Made for Worshipping- Steven Curtis Chapman

This is a moment made for worshipping
Cause this is a moment I'm alive
And this is a moment I was made to sing
A song of living sacrifice
For every moment that I live and breathe
This is a moment made for worshipping
From the rising of the sun

To the setting the sun
The name of the Lord is worthy to be praised

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Getting Out

>> Thursday, February 19, 2009

After naps today, Lucas came up to me with his coat in one hand and snow boots in the other. "I need to get out," he said. I couldn't agree more! It has been a long winter. So even though it was about 25degrees outside, we bundled up and went outside to play. The air was cold, but watching him run in the yard and play warmed my soul. I forgot how much 20-30min of outdoor play really breaks up the afternoon and burns excess toddler energy. Hurry up Spring!! Lukey wants to play (and Mommy too)!!

Is that not the cutest little snow lion you have ever seen? He even roars! :)

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This Girl

>> Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It is 10:22am and things are already out of whack. I am sitting on the futon in the basement with Caden sleeping in the carseat, Lucas playing on his train table, the pup quietly chewing his bone next to me, and the Merry Maids upstairs cleaning my bathrooms. What could be wrong with this picture, you ask? Sounds pretty serene. Well, the problem is it is Wednesday and I am supposed to be at bible study.

I thought I was doing well. I finished the bible study homework last night, I got up and got boys breakfast and got in the shower and actually fixed my hair (and put on an outfit that required a belt- a step up from my norm of yoga pants and tank top) and pre-cleaned the house for the Merry Maids (you know, dishes off the counter and clutter put away and all that so they can actually CLEAN). I nursed Caden, got the boys dressed, changed a last minute poopy diaper and got everyone in the car. I drove to church and realized I forgot the stroller so I had to carry a heavy, sleeping Caden in the carseat to keep him asleep. So I then lugged Lucas and the carseat and the diaper bag through the parking lot and into the church, down to the tunnel that leads to the childcare. At this point, Lucas is already saying he is sad for me to leave him and begging me to stay with him in his class. Oh, and did I fail to mention that I am 20min late already. I almost just drove right past. What is the point?, I thought. But I was just this weekend telling a friend that I am really trying to stick it out this time and not be a chronic bible study failure dropout. So I tried to press on. But standing there in the church walkwayI asked myself again... What am I doing? I am making a spectacle out of myself and my children. Why can I not get my act together?

At this point, to continue on would mean lugging the heavy carseat all the way back to L's class, coaxing him to stay in his class, then lugging the carseat back to my group meeting to walk in at least 25min late and sit there for 25min while trying to keep Caden asleep and maybe get something out of the bible study discussion. Then schlep myself up to the big group where Caden would probably wake up and want to nurse anyway. Then pack us all up to walk back and get Lucas and then walk back to the car. FORGET IT!!! I do not want to be "that girl" today. You know, that girl whom everyone is staring at saying to themselves how glad they are not to be me... whispering to their friends, "Man, that girl needs to get it together." Or maybe they are saying, "that poor girl... she is a HOT MESS!" Even if they aren't saying it, I am.

I feel like moms with more do it better. And I just can't seem to GET MY SHIT TOGETHER!! What is wrong with me? I probably could have made it there on time it I didn't shower or didn't pre-clean the house or didn't take the 20min to feed my baby. But I couldn't leave the house without any of those things happening. So I did them all and it just didn't work. I couldn't get it all done and still show up at bible study with every hair in place and ready to say something deeply spiritual that all the women would "amen" to. I guess I am just not "that girl." You know, the one who no matter how many children or commitments, she has always seems to look put-together and be on-time and show up with fresh baked cookies and a beautifully wrapped present for the girl in the group that just had a baby. I want to think I am that girl. But I am more often the former, the hot mess.

Walking back to the car, Lucas said "what happened at Bible Study today, mommy?" "Mommy just couldn't get her act together today. I'm sorry, Buddy. I just tried to do too much this morning." His reply was, "Mommy I love going to bible study with you and then turning around to go back to our car so we can just be together. That makes me happy." I had to smile.

It does kinda put it all in perspective though. What is the point? The point is... well, I guess it is to do what is best for my boys and myself. And sometimes that may be making it to bible study but today was not one of those days. I was forcing it because I did not want to admit I couldn't get it all done or to be seen as a Bible study dropout (again!!) to the women in my group. But those aren't good reasons. My sanity, a quiet moment with my boys in the car, sitting and watching Lucas play and the pup happily cuddled next to me, Lucas happy to just be with me,... those are the good reasons.

It doesn't change the feeling of being a bible study dropout. It feels icky, like failing, like I am not the women that I am trying to convince myself I am. But here comes that word again.... MARGIN! I need it. And when I don't build it in, somehow it seems to push in and I just have to stop pushing back. I don't like that my bible study seems to be the thing that needs to get cut. I guess I need to find a different way to build some spiritual formation into my week. But this 9:15 bible study just isn't it. At least not today. There's always next week.

I do feel good that in all the rushing I didn't lose my patience with Lucas (which tends to happen). Maybe (hopefully) my calmness amidst chaos is due to some recent refreshment and downtime. It also feels right that in this moment I can see that sitting here is what is best. I have a clean house, clean hair, and happy boys. Not too bad. I am content to be this girl for now. We'll work on the rest another day.

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Breath of Fresh ( 60+degree) Air

My family and I traveled to North Carolina this past weekend to visit several sets of very good friends. Prior to our trip, all four of us got nasty colds. The morning of our trip was mega-chaotic with trying to finish packing and get the dog to the PetHotel and pick up Hubby at work and feed everyone and ... just a lot to do. But the second we stepped off the plane and headed towards our friends' house, I took a deep breath. I breathed in the warm North Carolina air and almost immediately felt change. A change in my body, in my soul, in my stress-level. It was like I could breathe deep for the first time in awhile.
We had a busy 4days, but it was the most refreshing 4days I have had in quite some time. Warm weather, sweet tea, hubby and my boys all together all the time, great friends who know me and love me for me.... refreshing. It almost made me ready to come back to cold Chicago winter. At least I feel like I have some energy reserve to get me through the last few weeks of cabin-fever and the next few months of Hubby's schedule and raising my boys.

It was a break from the routine that gave me renewed resources to deal with the routine.

Releasing my inner-toddler and jumping to my hearts' content
Me and the "kids" :)- on our friends' farm (it was SO MUCH fun!!)
Lucas enjoying the warm weather and playing in the leaves- he was so carefree and it was wonderful!!

Chasing chickens- what could be more fun than that!
Mama and Caden- sweet sling cuddles

Find more Wordful Wednesday at Angies 7 Clown Circus!

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You Decide!

>> Friday, February 13, 2009

Scary Spice or Posh Spice...
I think maybe a mix of both. I am adjusting to the extreme shortness but still think it is about an inch outside my comfort zone. What do you think?

We are going out of town for the weekend, so I may not have internet access. So if I don't "talk" to you before- Happy Valentine's Day, Y'all! May you love and be loved fully and recklessly this year!

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All Bottled Up

>> Thursday, February 12, 2009

I posted yesterday at Chicago Moms Blog about my recent battles with Caden over taking the bottle. Plain and simple, he won't do it. No matter who tries, how much you distract or coax, the little bugger refuses to cooperate. I am really at the point of not knowing what to do next. Cereal helps, he is kinda learning how to take a sippy cup. But otherwise, he screams until mommy gets home to fill his tummy. What can I do? Please, I would love to hear any suggestions or encouragement that you many have. Even though Caden is stubbornly refusing anything that is not mama, I am still pumping at work in hopes that he will soon change his mind. Like most pumping moms, I pump into bottles then transfer the milk into breast milk storage bags to put in the freezer. When it is time to use the milk, I thaw the storage bag and pour the milk into the bottle or into the bowl for making cereal. If you have ever done this, you notice that there is always some lipid residue left over on the bottle or the bag. That is some of the milk fat, one of the parts that makes breast milk so fabulously nutritious. So the more you transfer, the more fatty goodness you lose.
The MilkBank Vacuum Storage System for breast milk is the latest fancy-schmancy way to store and serve your pumped milk. You pour your freshly pumped milk into their bottles then use their patented vacuum pump to vacuum seal the bottle in order to optimize the freshness and nutrition. Pretty cool, huh? The bottles can be stored in the fridge or frozen for longer storage. When you are ready to give the milk to baby, you can put a nipple right on that bottle and warm and serve thus eliminating an unnecessary transfer and preserving that fatty goodness for your baby. Using the vacuum pump increases the amount of time you can safely store the milk, keeping it fresher longer. And fresh is good. These bottles are easy to use, easy to clean, free of any harmful chemicals, and research-proven to keep pumped milk as close to fresh-from-the-boob quality for longer. Can't ask for much more than that. Except that the baby would actually drink the milk... hmmmm....
The coolest thing about this new Milk Bank system, though, is their insulated bottle. It is an outer bottle that you fill with warm water and screw onto the bottle. This keeps the milk at the optimal temperature improving nutrient ingestion. I love that you can freeze the bottles and then just warm and feed from the same container. My only complaint is that I wish they had made the bottles more of a standard size so you could just attach them to your pump and eliminate all transferring.
Now I have an awesome way to store and serve my pumped milk.... now, how to get the baby to drink it??? Help!!
Oh, and by the way... the folks at MilkBank have given me one of their vacuum systems and bottles to give away. Just leave a comment here and make sure I have a way to contact you if you win. Contest is open until Tuesday the 17th at 5pm and the winner will be chosen at random later in the day. Subscribe to me and leave another comment letting me know for another entry. Blog about the contest and leave me the link for one more chance to win. Or let your facebook friends know about the contest and get yet another entry. Thanks y'all and good luck!!
. .
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Train Up Your Child

>> Wednesday, February 11, 2009

We are constantly on the look out for tools to help us parent Lucas. He is my highly-verbal, ultra-smart, very inquisitive boy who always has a million questions about everything. When he was just shy of two, we would be driving in the car and he would demand that I "talk about" whatever we saw... "mommy, talk about trees...talk about grass... talk about cranes... talk about gas stations." He just wanted to know the facts, the scientific truth about the things he was experiencing and learning about. While his desire to know everything has not changed, his questions have gotten much more complex. At nearly 3 years old, he now wants to know about how a space shuttle launches and how it gets to the moon. Tonight he asked me "How did God talk to Noah? Did Noah hear God with he ears?"
When I was offered the chance to get advanced copies of two new books for kids by Tyndale House Publishers, I was pumped. We always love new books, and anything that helps me teach my little sponge is gladly accepted. To say we love these new books is a huge understatement. We adore them... and I would love to share them with you.

When I heard the title of the first book, I was immediately sold! Questions from Little Hearts... sounds perfect for us. And it is. The book is divided into four sections: What is God Like? What is Prayer? What about Heaven? and Are Angels Real? I have written before about Lucas and I's conversations about Heaven. He knows there are people there that he loves- Micah, my grandmother - and he has very real questions about what it is like there. I love that this book poses the questions that a toddler would really ask and then gives the answers in a way that keeps their attention and satisfies their curiosity.

"Is heaven a place that is near or that's far? can I get to heaven by boat or by car?
How will I find it? Who'll show me the way? Does heaven have nighttime? And what about day? ...
Though heaven's a place that you can't see from here, It says in the Bible that heaven is near. You don't have to know how to fly or to swim. The way is with Jesus, believing in him."

At the end of each section, the author lists the scripture references for the answers they suggest. Lucas loves it. We read at least one section a day and he often asks for the one he wants. "Mommy, let's read about prayer today." And we always read the scriptures at the end and he has started asking me to show him where to find "those words" in the Bible. So we pull out the Bible and flip to a couple of the verses and read them there too. It is precious, teachable moments like these that make me feel like maybe I am capable of training my child the way God has called me to. I highly recommend this book for anyone whose little one has questions, lots of questions, like mine. It is easy to read and has sparked many really great conversations with me and my curious toddler.

When I was pregnant with Lucas, we received many Bibles geared toward babies and toddlers as gifts. We have one that we have read cover to cover many times (not in one sitting) that tells all the great stories and has been a good tool for introducing him to the Bible. But several months ago, Hubby commented that we needed to find a Bible for Lucas that was the "next step up." Still meant for kids, but one where the words read a little more like Scripture and a little less like a board book. Kenneth Taylor's Classic Bible Storybook is just that. This Bible has less pictures, more text. But my favorite thing about it is the 4-5 questions it lists at the end of each story. Tonight we read story 5 (we skip around)- "Noah is Safe in a Boat." The questions at the end of the story really help reinforce what we just read (How long did it rain? Why did God send the Flood?) and sparks even deeper questions (like how did Noah hear God talking to him?). I also love that because it is a little more like a regular Bible, it includes stories that most children's Bibles leave out. We are studying Elijah and Elisha in the Bible study we go to and I love that we can open "his Bible" and read about these prophets (stories 51-54) that he is learning about. It makes it seem more like we are reading the Bible, if that make sense. Lucas asks to bring "his Bible" to church and that warms my heart.

It is a daunting task, at least for me, to feel responsible for my child's spiritual up-bringing. I don't want to miss this stage of his life where he is soaking in his world and starting to form his world-view. I am trying to build things into our days that help me teach him about God and prayer and the Bible, etc... We are working on memory verses, talking about spiritual things, and reading books that help guide our conversations and our lives. And these two books have become a big part of that. I can't recommend either one enough. These are books we will read for many years and will hopefully become cherished parts of our boys' early spiritual development.

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6 Months and cuter than ever!!

>> Tuesday, February 10, 2009

6 months ago today, my family became complete. I thought I knew what it was to love, to have a mother's heart. Then came my sweet CLB. And life was immediately different, more full, complete. Not only because of my love for Caden, but because I now love Hubby and Lucas more fully too. To watch my boys together is to feel complete. Until Caden came, I didn't know what it was to love Lucas as a brother or Hubby as a father of many boys. It is in this way that Caden in our family makes us feel whole, yet accentuates our void. But today, CLB, I celebrate you and the joy you are. Your smile, your laugh, your sweet little face. You are my heart on the outside.
Snuggling with big brother- Caden loves for Lucas to come lay on top of him. They both crack up laughing!
Lots of hugs for Mama
Early reader- he loves to grab a book and even turns the pages. He also tries to eat it confirming that he is, after all, still a baby! :)

All Aboard!!
Starting cereal.... Yummy!!

On the verge of crawling- He can get up on his hands and knees with his belly off the floor. It won't be long 'til he is a little man on the move!
"Chubber Chubs"- that is Lucas' nickname for him. SO adorable!!
Oh, my sweet CLB!! I thought my heart was full. And then came you. You expanded my capacity for love and taught me deep truth about myself and what I want life to be. Being your and Lucas' mother is the reason I was created, I am sure of that. You are my world, my heart, my joy and frustration. But mostly, you are my precious little man whom I treasure and will hold close as long as you'll let me.

For more Wordful Wednesday- Visit Angie @ Seven Clown Circus

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It will Grow

>> Monday, February 9, 2009

I have at least a half-a-dozen things I need to blog about and catch y'all up on. But, I have been sick and both boys (all three, really) have been sick so this mama is T-I-R-E-D!
So to bed I go... hooray for margin!

But I did want to tell y'all about my less than perfect haircut today. I went in with this picture (on right), wanting something new and fresh. I was so done with wearing a ponytail everyday. Unfortunately, the stylist got a little scissor-happy and my hair is SUPER SHORT!! I have gone short before but never this short. It is right about my jawline. I am sure the cut she did is a good one, I was just not prepared for it to be this short. I am adjusting still and this one will take a little while. I will eventually take some pics and post them. But, I need to adjust a little first. We are going out of town this weekend to visit some good friends and I wanted to look chic. Now I look like a kid who got a hold of mommy's scissors and played hairdresser.
OK, maybe it isn't that bad. It does make my neck look long and my cheek-bones pop. I am such a super model! :) A super model with a VERY SHORT haircut. Oh well, it will grow.

And if you are reading this on Tuesday, please pray with me that Caden is taking a bottle from Grandma today. More on this battle later.... now I must take my pixie-hair and go to bed. :)

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>> Saturday, February 7, 2009

It broke 50degrees today, a much needed reprieve from the single digits we have been enduring. While at our local petting zoo with some friends, Lucas could not stop running. He ran non-stop for over half an hour, stopping only to stomp in the puddles from the melting snow. It was refreshing for my mama-heart to see him being a little boy, running free and letting his endless energy reign. He did have a minor meltdown at lunch because his feet were all wet and shriveled from the puddle jumping. Nothing a little frozen custard couldn't fix! I think he inherited his father's borderline-undiagnosed OCD. :)
A day outside did us all some good. These four walls were getting pretty tight. Stress and frustration and impatience run amok when we are so cooped up. Lucas gets cabin-fever and gets naughty. I run out of indoor ideas and grow increasingly impatient with his cabin-fever naughtiness. I am not the mom I want to be and he is not the little boy I know he truly is when neither of us have any outlet.
All-in-all, a great day. I am sure we will return to the cold and the freeze. And the cabin-fever naughtiness too. But for today, we are starting to thaw a bit. And every little bit helps.

Puddle jumpingSo happy to be outside!!
A little finger-painting fun to round out the day!

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I Am My Baby's Best Friend

>> Friday, February 6, 2009

He fiercely grabs my face and gives me open-mouth baby kisses on my cheeks and chin. He holds onto my hair as if he is afraid I will try to get away. He smiles when he sees me and has the most adorable laugh when I kiss his belly. He has even started to say "ma" (I swear!!). I am my baby's best friend... and I love it!! There is only one problem. He doesn't seem to want to be friends with many others at this point. On my one workday every week, he hold out all day long, refusing to take a bottle or anything else until I get home and he can nurse. He screams until he gets tuckered out and then wakes from his nap hungry. So he starts to cry again. I can't take it. I am not there to hear the crying, but it is still torture for me to be at work knowing that he is with Grandma but wanting Mommy.

He cries when I leave his sight. He can be ok with other people. And he is sometimes. He just very obviously prefers mama. Which is fine with me, to a point. I love the nuzzles and kisses and baby-hugs with his arms flung around my neck. But, I do need him to be ok with daddy and even on his own now and then. He will grow out of it. He will. But, now that I think about it, Lucas still prefers to be with me over anyone else (most of the time). I love this about my boys. I probably wouldn't really have it any other way. I am banking on the hope that I am laying a solid foundation of love and trust and relationship with my boys so that when the day comes that they are ready to leave my nest, they will always want to come back and be with me.

I am my baby's best friend. And my toddler's too. It is exhausting, but priceless.

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