Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Saturday 7

1. Levi had a rough week. I wrote last Saturday that he was battling a fever. When he still had it Sunday, was pulling on his ears, had no appetite, and was acting lethargic, I decided to take him to urgent care. Sure enough: ear infection. I figured after a couple doses of the antibiotic he'd be back to himself. But he was miserable almost all week. All day. Every day. Actually, that's not true. He usually made a miraculous recovery around 5:00 every evening . . . just in time for Justin and my parents to get home. I wanted to scream, "You don't understand!! He has been crying for hours on end!" I resorted to taking pictures as proof:

Even being outside didn't make him happy. 

He can't even.

Yesterday, for the first time, he finally started to turn the corner and act more like himself. And by today, he was full of energy and giggles. Whew! Finally!

2. Before our trip to urgent care on Sunday, the whole fam got together at Golden Corral to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday! The secret project I was working on last week was a photo book complete with 60 things we love about Mom. It was hilarious to look back at old pictures.
Here we are sometime in the 90s. I'd guess 95 or 96 because I'm pretty sure I wore that dress in my 6th grade school photo (1996). 
This is my mom pregnant with me 2 MONTHS before I was born! So apparently it's Karma that I get so huge while pregnant. Haha. (Or genetics.) 
And this must be about 1999. I think this was our Y2K party. (And before I started getting my eyebrows waxed. Oy.)
3. As if Levi's ear infection wasn't enough misery for this week, I had a terrible dentist debacle. I've never had problems with dental work . . . until this week. Last year, I got a cavity filled and it was a piece of cake. The gas made me feel heavy and sleepy and I didn't even care what they were doing in my mouth. But this time was a totally different story. I had to get the old filling repaired and get a new cavity filled (yeah, yeah, I need to lay off the Dr Pepper . . .). I wasn't at all worried. I marched right in and got hooked up to the gas, ready to go to my happy place. I noticed pretty quickly that the gas didn't feel nearly as strong as it did last time. And then when he numbed my gums the 2 shots I got last time weren't sufficient and he had to give me a third. While we waited for the numbing to take effect, he asked how the gas was and I said I wasn't feeling it very much, so he upped it. A few minutes later he started drilling my teeth . . . and I totally freaked out. It was so embarrassing. Lol. I was not afraid of the drill. I did not feel anything. I just got really hot and dizzy and started shaking from head to toe. He immediately stopped working and opened windows, put a cold cloth on my head, helped me take my sweatshirt off, and turned off the gas. I finally calmed down and he resumed work, but they never turned the gas back on, so I just had to lay there fully aware of everything going on. After the initial freak-out, I was fine, but it was so uncomfortable. He had some kind of trouble and kept asking for smaller tools and saying, "Hm, well let's try this . . ." so it took forever and my jaw is still sore 3 days later. Afterward, when I was apologizing profusely for being a maniac, he explained that some patients respond negatively to the gas . . . but I really don't think that was the issue since I had no problem with a stronger dose of the gas last time. He also said that there's epinephrine in the numbing shots and the third one might have pushed me over the edge, since I only needed two last time. I think that's more likely. Especially because I think the same thing happened when I had my epidural with Levi. Remember how the anesthesiologist gave me a "wet tap" and I was worried about a spinal headache? He gave me the small numbing shot and then started the big needle when I jumped because I wasn't numb yet. So he gave me more of the numbing stuff and I had the same panicky reaction where I thought I was going to pass out. Apparently I have a low threshold for local anesthetic. Lucky me. And now I'm going to be scared of dental work. Great. Just what I need. More anxiety.

4. Speaking of anxiety . . . it's that time of year again . . . our annual labor day camping trip. Once again I begin with the caveat that I love Justin's family and I love the opportunity to make memories with our kids, but I really do not love camping.

Pretty sure these words have been said in our tent in the past . . .

Last year Levi was 6 months old, so I went to a family member's house at night to sleep with him [Levi - not the family member. Just to be clear. ;-)]. This year, I don't think I'm going to have an excuse not to sleep in the tent with my family. We bought a brand new, huge tent, so we can fit two queen air mattresses and the pack n' play in there. I'm going to have to find my old Xanax so I'll actually sleep instead of worrying about bears . . . Seriously, though, aside from my weird phobias, I'm dreading dealing with Levi all weekend. How on earth is he going to nap in a tent? Last year he was young enough that'd he sleep anywhere anytime. This year, that is not going to happen. Plus he is constantly on the go. At home, our house is child-proof enough that I don't have to watch him like a hawk. But in a campground with roads and strangers and fire pits, I'm never going to be able to take my eyes off him. How bad would you judge me if I got one of those dog tie-down stakes and a leash and just let him run in circles . . .

5. Whew. I'm long winded tonight. Here's a quick sweet one. One day recently I was having a really hard time with Lucy. She was being sassy and disrespectful and I was feeling overwhelmed by my inability to parent her effectively. So I went in my room to take a few deep breaths and Lena followed me in. She asked what I was doing and I told her that I needed to pray to have a better attitude and be a good mom. She piped up, "I'll pray for you, Mommy!" So we knelt next to my bed and she prayed in her precious little voice that I would have a good attitude and that Lucy would obey (she's no dummy - she knew what set me off). It was amazing, and made me feel like I might be doing something right!

6. The girls are starting school next week which means our summer is officially drawing to a close. We had a great summer. We did lots of fun activities, spent lots of time with friends and family, and made some great memories. To celebrate and memorialize it, I printed out a bunch of pictures for the girls, gave them each an empty notebook and some stickers and told them to make a "Summer Scrapbook." They loved it and spent 2 solid hours gluing and captioning and reminiscing. Lucy's captions were adorable:
The bottom part says "I went on a fun date with mom and Aunt Niki" and "me and my sis made some fun dinners."

"my sis" - so adorable!!

And Lena put her own spin on it too. Lol.
A few photo embellishments . . .

Lucy helped her spell . . .

7. Because this post isn't long enough yet, a few more pictures . . .
Lucy was not impressed by the eclipse. (And did not want her picture taken.)

Lena thought it was cool.

Sweet, happy girl running toward me.

Patiently waiting for Grandma to get out of the shower . . .

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Saturday 7

I don't really feel like writing this week, so prepare yourself for a less than stellar entry.

1. Last Sunday the girls got invited to a gymnastics birthday party for one of their friends. Neither of my girls has ever been to gymnastics, but they're both interested in it, so they were thrilled to go. They loved the gym and all the equipment.

By the time they were done, they were begging to sign up for classes. They don't do sports and I've been wanting them to get involved in something, so we signed them up for a weekly class! I think Lena will love it and be a natural, but I'm a little more concerned about Lucy. She does not like to push herself, and if she doesn't succeed the first time she tries something she immediately gives up. (She might get that from me.) They start in September, so we'll see how it goes!!

2. This week I read The Reluctant Duchess (meh), The Heiress of Winterwood (meh), and Just The Way You Are (yeah!). [Affiliate links . . . you know the drill.] They were all Christian fiction, but the first two were "Regency Romances." I'm getting so sick of the Regency era. It's been done so many times. There's really nothing new or interesting about it anymore. I'd like to read some Christian fiction set somewhere beside America or Great Britain and I'm realizing there's not much out there! I loved the Pepper Basham Book though (Just the Way You Are). She writes with such great humor and heart. In this story, the main character has 3 kids who are close to my kids' ages, and I'm guessing Basham has kids of her own around those ages because she was so spot on with how they act. Sometimes I read books where the 4 year old speaks in baby talk or the 8 year old needs a nap. Lame.

3. I feel like I've been crazy busy lately and I don't even know what I've been doing. Haha. Last week was VBS, this week I was working on a secret project for my mom's birthday (I don't think she'll read this before she gets to open her present), next week is our last week of summer and last minute back-to-school prep, then school starts, we go camping over labor day weekend, and I'm throwing a baby shower the following weekend. Last night we had small group, tonight we went to a birthday party for my 80 year old great-aunt, tomorrow we're going out to breakfast for my mom's 60th, and going to a pool party in the afternoon. I also have a dentist appointment and an eye doctor appointment in the next two weeks. I just feel like it's crazy-town in my head lately!

4. One of the things we talked about at small group last night was resting in our justification. I've struggled all my life with the balance between faith and works. Paul is so adamant that salvation is by faith alone, but James declares with certainty that faith without works is dead. And I've been beat over the head in the past few years with the idea that I can do nothing apart from Christ. That my weaknesses are opportunities for him to work through me. That a vine apart from the branch can't bear fruit, that even a vine in the branch can't conjure fruit by trying hard or praying hard or thinking hard. It's Spirit work. And yet Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount to be perfect as he is perfect. And to be totally honest, it makes me a little mad. Why tell us to be perfect when you know we can't? When that's the whole point - to realize that we're wretched sinners, incapable of good, and 100% reliant on you? But last night while I was lying in bed, I started to think about it from a parenting perspective. I expect my kids to strive for perfect obedience. Do I expect them to achieve it? Absolutely not. So why do I want them to strive for it? Because if I didn't, they'd be indulgent, selfish sloths. They have rewards and consequences to remind them why it's worth it, and they're constantly growing and maturing because of it. The same is true for me as a Christian. Jesus knows I can't attain perfect obedience. He did that for me already to ensure my salvation. But now that I'm saved, I rest in the justification - not fearing for my soul or my eternity - but still striving for perfection in order to grow and mature. Because my inclination - even as a child of God, saved by grace - is toward slothful indulgence, which will only serve to ruin my witness and make me an ineffective Christian. #deepthoughts

5. I seriously have nothing else. Levi's fighting some kind of fever, crying in his bed, and likely to be up every hour tonight, so I'm going to throw a couple pictures in here and try to get some sleep. Sorry to disappoint!!

Rainy day fun. (That's Lena getting some serious air jumping in the puddles!)

At the park. Levi enjoys seeing all the trucks on the road more than playing on the playground.


I think this would be so interesting! Putting it here to remind myself later.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

The Saturday 7

1. We survived another year of VBS! It was exhausting but fun. The girls loved it. Levi was not a fan. He really struggled with being in nursery for 3.5 hours every day. Poor kid. There's a new-ish family at our church with a boy named Levi who's only a few months older than my Levi. I'm unreasonably upset that he'll always have to be Levi V. at church. It already caused problems this week. I tried to label everything (Levi's bag, cup, even himself) but they got him mixed up with the other Levi - they tried to give my Levi the other Levi's blankie, they couldn't find my Levi's Binky because they were looking in the other Levi's bag, etc. I'm naming my next kid Pepper (after the doctor of course) so it's less likely that there will be anyone else named that in his/her class.

2. I tried something new at VBS this year. Instead of leading the preschool class, as I've done for the past few years, I took on 2nd grade, so I could be with Lucy. I had a nice small group - only 9 kids each day - but it was no walk in the park. Haha. I had 2 runners that had to be watched constantly. And I was amazed by the difference between the boys and girls. The boys were always running, playing tag, wrestling, and attacking each other. If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Keep your hands to yourself" this week, I'd be a gajillionaire. It honestly drives me crazy. Lol. This week is a reminder of why I abandoned my teaching degree well before I finished it. The girls were by no means angels, but they were a lot easier to handle. And they were the only ones interested in learning the verses. I had 3 girls who learned all the verses for the week - 2 homeschoolers and one Christian school kid (Lucy). They've obviously memorized verses before.

We had a lot of fun, though. Kids say the funniest things. And it was interesting to see how some of the un-churched kids view church and God and the Bible.

3. Two different things happened this week that reminded me what a small town we live in. One of my friends from Grand Rapids brought her kids to VBS at our church this week, so we decided to go to the park afterward one day. I gave her directions to the park, then ran to Subway to grab lunch. There was a wicked long line and she wasn't sure she was at the right park, so she asked some people who were there. They weren't sure what the park's name was (we all just call it "The Park" because it's the only one in town), so they asked who she was meeting. She told them my name and they assured her she was at the right place because they knew me and knew that was the park I go to. Haha.

That same day I got this screenshot of a snapchat from my nephew.
The top line is what my nephew wrote. The bottom line is the snapchat story of one of his friends. I'll try to explain this for people who don't do snapchat. Some chick at Subway took this picture of Levi and me unbeknownst to me. She put it on her snapchat story (like a facebook newsfeed) and all her friends could see it. One of her friends was my nephew - who recognized Levi and me! Haha. Small world!

4. Lena conquered another of her potty training fears this week: using a bathroom outside of our house. Until this week, she never used the bathroom if we went anywhere. She apparently has a bladder of steel and can hold it for hours. I was stressing out about what this would mean for school in the fall (she's going 2 full days a week). But this week she had her friend Harper at VBS with her - and the classroom they were in has a bathroom with 2 little kid sized toilets. She and Harper conveniently had to go potty at the same time every day, so somehow having a friend to go with made it easier for Lena. Since then, she's used the big bathroom at church a couple times, which is major progress. Whew!

5. And in a strange twist, Levi (who is 17 months old) has suddenly become very aware of when he pees and grabs his diaper every time. If he poops, he grabs his diaper, gets my attention, then toddles over to the diapers and lays down for me to change him. I just finished potty training my 4 year old! Do I really have to start the next one already?? My sister had her boys potty trained before they were 2, but I can't even fathom a kid this young understanding it. Not to mention that he is so tiny, I'd never find underwear that would stay on him!

6. I feel like Levi's had a word explosion lately. He's started to say no, yeah, ball, and ow in context this week. He also says hi, bye, ready-set-go, uh-oh, and yum. And he'll repeat "mama" and "dada" if I ask him to, but he doesn't call us that.

7. Pictures
Summertime = skinned knees and dirty toes

My dad has honeybees this year and they made us some honey! The girls love it.

Pretty sure VBS is more convicting for me than it is for the kids.

Fully clothed and lounging in the pool.

Backyard campout! (They're pretending to sleep. I don't think much actual sleeping went on.)

Our ginormous tent. This will be our home for labor day weekend. I'm so thrilled. ;-) 

Memorializing a good hair moment and showing my sisters how hip I am with my word usage. 

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Saturday 7

1. Someone remind me why I wanted Levi to walk. He is so exhausting. Lol. Did I feel this way with my girls? I feel like I can't keep up with the kid. Maybe I'm just getting old, but he is into everything. I can't take my eye off him for a minute or he's pulling cups off counters or throwing shoes in the trash or pulling things out of the trash or throwing things in the toilet or bathtub (we're learning quickly to keep the toilet lid closed!). I love this age because he's starting to show so much personality and learning so much every day, but I forgot how tiring it is. 

2. On Tuesday, we had a very busy day. The girls have been begging to go school supply shopping, so I finally printed out their lists and headed down to Alpine. I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Lena is going to school. When I first looked up the lists, I went straight to the 2nd Grade page for Lucy. I didn't even think about the Preschool list until later. Haha. The girls loved picking out folders and notebooks and pencils. Then we went to Toys R Us for their "Buy a Backpack, Get a Lunchbox Free" promotion. I'm always surprised by what they choose. Lena chose a Trolls backpack and lunchbox. She's seen that movie once and never talks about it. Haha. Lucy didn't want a character backpack, so went for an Aztec print that is actually really cute. And a lunchbox that has some cheesy saying like "Be You" on it.
Organizing their loot. (Oh, and the lunchbox says "Believe in Love.")

3. Before we even went shopping, I prepped the girls that we were not going out to eat. I even packed a lunch in the cooler so we could stop at a park or something on the way home. But as we were walking out of Toys R Us, Lena's eyes lit up as she caught sight of the building next door. I could read her mind before the words even came out of her mouth. "Mommy!" She exclaimed. "You said if I pooped on the toilet we could go to Chuck E. Cheese!" Kids and their stinkin' steel trap memories. I bribed her with that months ago in a fit of desperation. But she didn't forget. And I'm a big believer in keeping my promises. So we ate our lunch in the car, then filed into Chuck E. Cheese for 2.5 hours of fun. Oy. Toward the end, Levi completely melted down, and ended up like this:

The girls had a blast, though. And even Levi enjoyed running around like a manic chimpanzee until the novelty wore off. Most importantly, I'm pretty sure I've paid all my bribes in full.

4. After living a little recklessly this summer, we're buckling down on the budget again. Having two kids in Christian school is reminding me that we're not made of money and we're going to have to be more careful with our spending. So I've started tracking every dollar we spend. Boy is it depressing. Of course, this was a bad week to start, thanks to school supply shopping and unexpected bribe expenses. And then, to top it off, my sisters wanted to have a girls' night, and I can't say no to that! So we went to Olive Garden where I spent $25 on my meal alone!! I've come to the startling (some may say earth-shattering) realization that Olive Garden is not my favorite restaurant anymore! I know. I'm as shocked as you are. I thought I'd go to my grave with a breadstick clutched in each hand. But it's been disappointing me more and more every time we go. The pasta is always dry, the portions are ridiculous, and now they won't let you order a lunch portion during dinner, so you have to pay full price - and the prices have gotten way too high. My favorite meal there is $18! Ain't nobody got that kind of money for a little pasta and artery-clogging alfredo sauce! I need to be saving my money for the angioplasty and triple bypass that is inevitably in my future.

5. One of my greatest parenting regrets is making little compromises with what my kids watch on TV. I started out so gung-ho about wholesome programming, but slowly started lowering the bar. Don't get me wrong. They're not watching Game of Thrones or anything, but I'm still slightly uncomfortable with the Disney shows they devour on Netflix. So I'm always looking for better alternatives that might capture their attention. I read tons of Christian mom blogs and am constantly pinning books, movies, and CDs that might live up to the task. I randomly ordered CDs of The Brinkman Adventures from the library, not really expecting the girls to give it more than 3 minutes before declaring it boring. So I was shocked when Lucy asked to listen to it, then devoured all 4 CDs in 2 days! She's actually been listening to the same stories over and over. They're a little too scary for Lena, but Lucy asked me today to order the next season. Woohoo! Something wholesome and godly to fill her ears instead of "Hey Jessieeeeeee."

6. Along those lines, I read an amazing article this week. Go read it (and the follow-up she links to at the end) and then come back here and read my thoughts on it. In part two, the author wonders why this article of all that she's written went viral and got so much attention. Here's my opinion: This is a new concept for so many of us - one that we're hearing more and more of, but is still very new. It's totally the opposite of how we were parented, so we can't quite grasp how to do it. Growing up, it was very clear to me that obedience was not optional. My parents and the parenting figures in my life used the A+B=C approach. If the child doesn't obey, he gets consequences. As long as you're consistent with that, they will eventually learn to submit and obey. If kids aren't being obedient, it's because their parents don't effectively discipline them.

As a parent myself, I totally have the idols the author of that blog was talking about. My idols are my reputation and expectations. I expect my kids to follow that A+B=C approach. When it doesn't work, I feel like a failure and feel that others are judging me for being unable to keep my kids under control. Lena's ridiculous battle with potty training was kind of pivotal for me. It humbled me like nothing else in my parenting journey so far.

But what resonates with me (and apparently a lot of other people) about that blog post is that we want something different. We don't want to be Pharisees. We don't want our kids to obey for the sake of obedience (or to avoid consequences). We want to reach their hearts. But we also don't want to teach them to abuse grace. We understand the necessity of discipline, but want to weave it in with the gospel. And we don't know how. We don't understand how to parent with grace because we didn't grow up seeing that modeled. [Quick sidenote: this is not a judgment of my parents or any of the parents who were influential in my life. Their methods worked great on me. Fear is an excellent motivator in my case. But I've seen firsthand that it was not effective for a lot of my generation. And no "method" is foolproof. That's exactly what the author's point is.] So we're grasping at articles like this that give us hope there is another way.

7. Pictures
Levi got his first haircut this week! I was super nervous, but he did great, and still looks like himself, so I'm happy.
The stroller fell out of my trunk onto my foot this week. This is my war wound. 

Roasting marshmallows at the library.
I got the girls a glittery, sequined dance dress at Once Upon a Child and made the mistake of washing it with their other laundry. Sparkles for days. Everywhere. And Levi's sticky little feet picked them all up.
Pool and popsicles. (This was before the haircut - can you tell? Haha)
These two . . .
And then there's this little fashionista. Lol.
And finally, a rare picture of Lucy legitimately laughing. She's all about posing, lately. I love catching these candid moments. 

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