Thursday, June 30

Summer Lovin'

“Sun is shining. Weather is sweet. Make you wanna move your dancing feet.”          ~ Bob Marley

I had one of those heart swell, my kid is the cutest kid in the world, I am so fortunate to get to spend this sunny day with you moments earlier today.  (Right before she pitched a fit about going to bed for her nap of course...I mean, she is 2 after all...).

It was just Ella and I. Ava is with her grandmother (aka Nanner) in New Jersey until tomorrow, so I'm getting some much needed one on one time with my two year old.

We wandered out into the backyard, under a brilliantly clear blue sky. First, I pushed her in her swing, and then we sat on the stoop of her swing set in the shade and ate watermelon. I sat on a small, lime green stool and she crawled on top of the large rubbermaid container that holds all of our balls and outdoor toys.

"Ella I know a song about watermelon," I said, knowing she'd want to hear it.

"Sing it!" she demanded, as only Ella can (if you know her you know that everything she says comes out in a rather commanding tone, as if she's getting an early jump start on her role as a future drill sargeant).

So I sang:
"Watermelon, Watermelon, 
How it drips, How it drips
Up and down my elbows,
Up and down my elbows,
Spit out the Pits
Spit out the Pits"

"Again mommy. Again!"

This time she tried to do the required spitting sounds at the end and managed to actually spit chunks of watermelon all over her shirt.

We both sang it together a third time, and right on cue the watermelon, sure as anything, started dripping down her arms.

I wiped her off and asked if she'd like to help me water the flowers.

She was pumped!

Usually her big sister is around and attempts to take over on all tasks...And when I say ALL and TAKE OVER, I mean ALL and TAKE OVER...I don't think I was ever as bossy an older sister as little Miss Ava is (we love her dearly, but I think she drives her sister nuts!!!)...She's getting ready for her own future role as leader of something...she has the big sister "I'm the boss" thing down pat! I try to intercede as much as possible, but if often just ends in grunts and fights with me doing whatever was supposed to be done.

Today, it was just me and Ella and she got to do it all alone.

She watered those flowers with all of her little 2-year old might.

My heart swelled.

It was one of those "I wouldn't want to be doing anything else in the whole wide world right now besides watch my daughter water flowers" moments.

I know this all probably sounds a bit mundane, and it is, but that is the beauty of becoming a's your opportunity to see life through the eyes of a child all over again. To have moments where the mundane becomes the marvelous and your heart swells.

It's kind of cool.

I'm making the most of my marvelous mundane moments. Trying to remember every minute of them, because I know they are speeding by.

Here are a few photos of our super sweet summer so far and some of the fun days we've had!

Watering the flowers...

Scott, on his birthday...of course both girls wanted to help open all cards! 

and blow out the candles....

and open all of the presents! 

Went strawberry picking and made freezer jam last week!

Our patio was poured...a birthday present to both of us!! 

of course the girls handprints needed to be part of the patio!!!

the garden finally took off...



yummy, yummy lettuce!


cukes...on the side of the house (I planted them by themselves this year to give them more space and they look MUCH healthier than last year!)

As much as I would LOVE for it to be summer all year round, I would miss the Fall, and maybe even a little bit of winter (like the snow on Christmas, but that's about IT!)...How bout 2 less months of winter and 2 more of summer? I may need to have a conversation with God about that?! 

Monday, June 27

Rewriting the Day

        "Today, I woke up with a smile on my face. I bounced out of bed and greeted the day with a boisterous 'hello' and thankfulness for what it would behold. 
      I woke up early, not to early, just enough to collect my thoughts, make some coffee, consider my day, start some laundry, prep for breakfast and then, most importantly, pray. 
     By the time my cherubic four year old pitter pattered down the stairs and into my lap I greeted her with the warmest hug, the biggest smile and the BEST 'how are you, I love you, what can I get for you' mommy voice there ever was! 
      We sat together on the couch for a while and talked about the morning and about nothing and then I got up to fix her some breakfast and do a couple of "chores" before the day got too busy...
    The rest of the morning seemed to follow suit...calm, peaceful, joyful...Ava said nothing but sweet and supportive things to her sister all morning and their wasn't the minutest inkling of a whine anywhere to be found. 
    I took Ava to tennis and to the library, and then we came home and all happily ate lunch. I had some work on my mind, but felt peaceful because I had a well thought out and perfectly plotted week written on paper and knew that I would inevitably get to each task...and if not, so what?!"
So here's the deal friends...that's not exactly how my morning went. While some of it is true (I did get up a little bit early, though not enough to get all of that done, Ava did snuggle with me on the couch for a couple of minutes and I did take her to the town tennis lessons and to the library), there was plenty of whining, no laundry done, and most importantly, and perhaps most discouragingly, I was not a peaceful momma this morning.

I actually ended up on the floor in my closet crying for about 182 which point I heard Ava crying downstairs that mommy was crying upstairs and Scott was yelling that she should stay downstairs and leave mommy alone upstairs, which made her cry even harder... which point I started picturing her in her therapists chair in 15 years talking about her mother on the floor in her closet and decided that I needed to buck up and get back to being motto always being you can cry for a couple of minutes and then 'ya gotta get on with things!

So, while I was reading the book "Spilling Ink" in preparation for my upcoming creative writing class to 4th, 5th and 6th graders, and came across the following prompt for young writers, I figured it was the perfect writing prompt for me as well:
"I DARE YOU...Rewrite a scene from your life. Think of something that happened today. Something that wasn't perfect-- maybe even something that was downright mortifying--and rewrite it as you would have wanted it to happen." 
I gotta be honest...that was the cheapest therapy I've received in a long time! It felt pretty good to re-write the re-create it the way I would have liked it to go.

But, I've gotta be honest about something else as the process of "re-writing" my morning I  realized that it actually wasn't half bad to begin with. There were a LOT of little moments in my morning that were actually quite wonderful. Ava did snuggle on the couch with me. I had a casual and lovely cup of coffee with my husband out on our new patio while Ava played and Ella was still sleeping. I got to watch her joyfully bounce around a tennis court with a bunch of other pre-schoolers while they skipped over tootsie rolls and threw balls to each other. We went to the library and the power went out while we were there and the librarian had to write all of our movies and books down by was kind of cool and mysterious...Ava thought it was great!

It was my anxious mommy heart that got in the way of it all when we got back home...I've struggled with anxiety issues for a number of years now...maybe I'll share more of that story one of these days...the short of it, for now, is that sometimes I get pretty easily overwhelmed...more than the average Joe...or, Josephina (since most of you are women!)...I don't mean to do's not something I like a whole lot about myself...and yes, I've seen counselors, taken medication, read books, prayed about it,  and everything you can imagine in seems to ebb and flow...and sometimes the waves of tasks involved in mothering, along with attempting to precariously balance my desires to write, and read and run just get to be too much and the tide pulls me under..

.....and I end up in my closet on the floor in tears...

But, part of the process is getting back up and back in the game...I suppose that is how we literally get to re-write our days...we can't take anything back, but there is an abundant grace offered from our ever-present creator that allows us to say "God, I need a little help here" and He says, "Lis, I know. Get up, I'm with you", and then we walk downstairs and hug our children. We tell them that everything is o.k. and we move forward...

I'm not beating myself up about it. It's part of life. When I was growing up I attended Eastern Hills Wesleyan church for most of my formative years. It is a wonderful local church and many of you also know Pastor Eastlack. I will NEVER forget him saying one Sunday..."I got problems. You got problems. ALL God's people got problems." 

Ain't that the truth?! That little statement of truth has pulled me out of pitying myself on many a day.

All of this to say...none of us are perfect...but no one is expecting us to be. So when the tide of your own expectation starts to pull you down, remember you can cry for a minute, but then ya gotta get on with things...and start re-writing the rest of your day.

Wednesday, June 22

Almost Wordless Wednesday

Aww's been a week since I posted last, and nothing but a photo?!

Sorry for the has been nutty...

Here is a run down of what we have been up to in the month of June

  • Father in law's birthday dinner
  • Ava's birthday- small friend party
  • Ava's birthday- family birthday party
  • my grandmother and uncle's birthday's-- get together at my mom's house w/ family
  • sister in law's middle school graduation
  • a whole morning at driving school (grrrrr!)
  • Ava's end of year gymnastics show
  • out of town friends stopping through on a long road trip
  • our driveway was sealed
  • our patio going in in the backyard
  • Father's Day-- 
  • a trip to Massachusetts to visit friends
  • My birthday (on the day of the car ride home from, huh?!). We did go out to dinner when we got home, which was nice. 
  • Scott's birthday is this Friday (as is his brother (his twin!), and my brother's)
  • Scott has a 2-day business trip to N.J. planned for next week...
  • ...then we get into 4th of July festivities and I'm supposed to start teaching a Creative Writing Class on July 5th....Ack! 
So, anyway, while I've missed you all, I'm running a bit of a social marathon this month...I've often had friends comment that our schedule is quite busy, and it is, but truly, there is so much family stuff going on that it's hard to figure out where to simplify sometimes...If any of you have suggestions or find yourself experiencing the same ebb and flow of events I'd love to hear how you manage it all when things start to feel a little bit hairy! 

Speaking of hairy, ever since Ava figured out how easy it is to take pictures with my i-phone I have been finding the captured on my phone lately. Like this picture of the back of my head...

or this one of the kitchen floor and Ella's pajamas....

or this one (there were actually 7 of these on my phone before I deleted them) of the wall in our friends' playroom while we were visiting them in Massachusetts last week...

or, my favorite...(I re-sized it to be as small as possible so as not to frighten anyone any more than need be...)

kind of scary, huh?

Sorry to inflict that montage of random photographic images on you...but, just imagine, you're out meeting up with some friends and you go to show them the wonderfully captured pictures of your adorable children on your i-phone...just as you're scanning through those adorable pictures...well, teeth pop up!! 

and, while we're on the subject of teeth...Ava's passion to be a tattoo artist last week has been replaced by a passion to be her sister's dentist this week. 

She got an electric toothbrush for her birthday and wanted to show Ella how it worked!

That's all I've got for you today...Ava's very short nap is over and she is beckoning me in a high pitched voice from her bedroom...momma is off and back to the races! 

Wednesday, June 15

Almost Wordless Wednesday

So, a bit of advice:  it's o.k. to run out to a Zumba class at 5:05 while your husband is finishing up his work day in the basement and your children are watching the end of Max & Ruby in the living room, but do expect to be struck by the sight of some odd and perhaps misplaced things when you walk back in the door at 6:30...

Like your youngest daughter baring a "sleeve" of tattoos on both legs...

Those very tattoos looked like a fantastic idea when I was looking for inexpensive items to stuff in their Easter baskets three months ago (if you can't make them out they are easter chicks and eggs and flowers!)...I mean 172 tattoos for $2...that's a bargain! Obviously they were meant to be applied one or two at a know for like 84 days until you get through them all.

...or you could take Ava's approach and test out the waters of tattoo artistry at an early age. 

I mean, after all, I do have a cousin who is a professional tattoo artist locally and my father proudly bares tattoos that include both Ava and Ella's names, as well as several others on his that apple wouldn't be falling that far from the tree...

P.S. For what it's worth, baby oil supposedly does a great job getting them off, but we didn't have any so we opted for rubbing alcohol...which also does a great job. I poured a small amount of rubbing alcohol onto a baby wipe (seemed a little less harsh for some reason!) and it worked quite well. 

Monday, June 13

How Making the Most of Your Morning Helps you Make the Most of Your Day

"Thoughtful parenting requires time to think. Yet many of us don't have time in our lives for thinking. We need to make time. Even a few quiet moments alone early in the morning will enable me to lay the foundation for a day of living and loving from the heart. I meet my children then with heightened awareness, having already sorted out my own needs and priorities and achieved some sense of balance." (Katrina Kenison, "Mitten Strings for God")
How TRUE is this?! I'm a thinker. A major, sometimes compulsive, full of ideas, internalizing everything, need to write everything down, kind of thinker. And do you think I have much time to think?!

Ha. Not so much.

I feel like I'm constantly trying to carve out time in my life to think. Like yesterday, I threw six or seven books in a bag... (even though I knew I'd NEVER get to them all)...I got in my car, stopped at a coffee shop drive-through, grabbed a latte and then drove to the nearest very, VERY quiet park, parked my car and just sat.

I read my Bible, journaled, read a couple of essays and then simply enjoyed the quiet.

It's funny, I used to crave time in coffee shops for reading and writing and now, more often than not, I find that most coffee shops are too noisy for me. The people, the music, the movement...I don't feel refreshed after I've been in a coffee shop these, I tend to park my car somewhere quiet and just sit and read and pray in the car. It's like a mobile retreat, actually.

However, as much as I crave and try to carve out quiet time for myself, and I feel like I'm pretty intentional about it, there is not much space for it and it doesn't happen nearly as much as I need to find the "balance" (is this really ever a reality anyway?!) that I'd like in my life.

That said, I like what Kenison says, "even a few quiet moments alone in the morning will enable me to live and love from the heart."

So true.

As of late I've been going to bed quite late and not getting up early enough. The girls finally go to sleep (sometimes not until 9:30 or 10 by the time they stop calling for us, or actually settle down) and I just want some ME time...however, I'm so tired that I do mindless things like watch t.v., or read magazines, or blog hop, which is all a fine and o.k. use of "me" time, except that it keeps me up until 11:30 or 12 and then not out of bed until one of the girls either beckons us from their bedrooms or tip toes to our bedside.

Not the most mindful way to start my day.

So...last night, I forced myself to turn off the lights just slightly before 11:30 (even though I had more I wanted to read/do!) so that I could get up before them this morning.

And, even though I hadn't gotten my desired 8 hours of sleep (I know that sounds like a luxury, but truly, I find that I need it to get through the day!) I got out of bed at 7, thinking about Kenison's words...I quietly snuck downstairs, made some coffee on our new Keurig (which ROCKS by the way!) and read my Bible, jotted down a very loose "schedule" for the day (including some house chores, something fun to do w/ the girls (paint in the garage or go to the park), as well as some thoughts on dinner) and started this blog post...

Ava came wandering down 45 minutes later...crawled into my lap and snuggled her sleepy head against my chest and I was able to live and love her from the heart because I wasn't thinking about how badly I needed coffee before I could look her in the eyes, or frazzled because I wanted to think about my day before the requests for juice and cheerios and chapstick and tissues started (which is usually right away!).

So...I will strive to live from a place of slightly more discipline this week...I will be disciplined about getting to bed earlier so that I can get up earlier...while it may feel, momentarily, like I'm giving up some "free" time at night, I gain it in the morning and tend to have a better day for it.

Wednesday, June 8

The Crazy Days of Parenthood...

     I would not be the least bit surprised if someone contacted me today and said that they have secretly been following me around with a camera to get footage for the reality television series The Supernanny and that they had actually paid my children with a pound of lollipops and 20 packets of kool-aid (to be ingested at their whims) to be as rambuncious as possible while they discreetly followed us around.

O.k. Supernanny can stop now...this momma has had enough (though I'd happily take some help if you'd like to stop by)!

It is only 2:30, but today has been a very, very l-o-o-o-n-n-n-g-g-g day.

I have been the mother I always cringe to think about being today...the one that snaps at her kids and says snarky things that I know will be repeated in therapy in 20 years...I've said things to my children that remind me of things I still remember my mother saying to me when she was probably ready to pull her every last hair out...things like..."Do I look like your slave?!!!" (as if they even know what that means after they've asked for pretzles and juice 17 times!)...

or things like...

          "If you two don't stop it I'm going to leave this car on the side of the road and go walk into that    field"

         "Momma, you're just going to leave us here."

         "Yup! I need a very, very long time out"

(this, after a 40 minute car ride in which both girls fought about the sun, who was allowed to sing, who was allowed to read which book, what the proper pronunciation of lyrics in the song B-I-N-G-O were, what the proper volume of singing should be (most of these directives coming from Ava towards Ella) and so on...oh yeah, and then Ella vomited her ENTIRE breakfast all over herself and her car seat, leaving me to clean entire pieces of regurgitated french toast out of her car seat with baby wipes in the parking lot of a Dunn Tire.)

(this is us in the parking lot of Dunn Tire where I had to get everyone out of the car and do the most disgusting clean up in my mothering career to date. Ella was completely fine after she threw up...I think she either got car sick, or had so much post nasal drip from her allergies that she just had an upset stomach. She hasn't missed a beat since.)

And then there was the moment this afternoon...after attending a very large going away party at which Ava was certainly the only 4 year old who wanted to be carried around while Ella, sans pants (they were full of vomit in our car) ran around like a wild monkey playing with every toy in the house as if nothing ever happened, and after stopping at Pizza Hut for lunch, and after going to Aldi for a few groceries (my mother had offered to come with us, but still could not keep the girls from knocking things off shelves, climbing the carts or shrieking in the store), we finally got home and I put a movie in and thought I was home free...

...until they saw me pull the Blueberry Kefir out of the shopping bag and insisted on having some. I poured two small glasses at the counter where they were sitting at barstools waiting to drink it-- I ran into the mudroom to put some groceries away and when I returned .7 seconds later...low and behold, blueberry kefir ALL over my counter, cupboards and floor...


"Oh mommy, it's gross!!!""

"Yes. Yes it IS gross and YOU two made the mess," I say as I hand them paper towels, "Which is why you two are going to CLEAN IT UP."

  the girls spread kefir around the floor a bit...then I step in...



    "Mommy, you need a big fat break?!" Ella asks...(I didn't think anyone was listening!!)
    "Like this..." she says, as she proceeds to take two very deep breaths and then blow them out.
    "Yes, like that honey. Some deep breaths would probably help."

While I was cleaning the kefir up I found a pile of ants crawling on a piece of cheese someone had dropped earlier in the day...and the moments listed here, they are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg...happening in-between other arguments, and falls downstairs, toys littered by their hands around the house faster than I can ask them to clean them up, constant requests and disobedient children who run away from me when I'm trying to change their diapers, or hide in their closets before naps....

What's a momma to do...except get her i-phone out and make her 2 year old repeat her rendition of her mother saying she needs a BIG.FAT. BREAK!


Man oh man...some days I feel like I've finally gotten it all together. That I can handle this crazy little thing called motherhood...and then life throws in a day like today.

My friend Sarah (who knew I would be blogging about all of this!) thinks I should stop blogging because maybe God's really pouring on the experiences so that I have ample writing material!

I'm thinking...maybe she's right...but then I'm thinking that life, in general, has always been a little clumsy, and crazy, and misplaced for add two kids into the mix and well, I guess it just gets clumsier, crazier and more misplaced...

So, as usual, off to nap. The "computer" (my brain) needs to be reset, and the batteries re-charged.

If the real Supernanny could please step up and stop by, I wouldn't mind an extra set of hands for a couple of days and someone to make all of those creative discipline and rewards charts that I always think look so great and I'm sure would change my life, but never seem to have the time to get around to making myself.

...I can't imagine why I never get around to them...funny thing....

Saturday, June 4

My Birthday Girl

Happy Birthday my sweet girl
I was blessed enormously when God placed you in this world
Your smile, it brightens all of our days
Your enthusiasm helps us discover life in new ways
I look forward to experiencing more of life as you grow
Mommy and Daddy love you oodles and oodles, 
                                          something we hope you will always, always know....

Happy 4th Birthday! 

Our "princess" opening her new camera (in hopes that she doesn't steal my i-phone to take pictures, but her new camera!)

 (the new photographer at work!)

Discovering her affinity for the monkey bars over the last couple of weeks...

...led Daddy to a late night project (Scott added monkey bars to our swing set) that was enthusiastically discovered this morning!

3 of 9 balloons on the ceiling!! If you didn't know this all ready the Dollar Store is the BEST place to get helium balloons for your kids guessed it...$1 each! (I asked the lady the first time I bought them there..."So how much are the balloons?" She looked at me like I was an idiot...

Ava's pinata for her "pre" birthday party. We had two for her kid friends yesterday- for which she requested grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup in styrofoam cups (to drink the soup out of instead of using a spoon!)-- and our family birthday party will be this evening...

Our birthday friend...the kid party wound up taking on a bit of ladybug theme after fining this pinata at Party City. 

Gift bags!

Hard to see, but Ella has a ladybug tattoo on one leg and a bumble bee on the other...of all of the "activities" I planned (a craft, a lady bug themed game, tattoos) the only thing we got to were the tattoos because the kids wanted to play outside!

Each child pulled one string at first and then we had them all gather around the pinata, hold a string, count to 3 and pull all was pretty exciting, I must say. 

My husband's execution...pretty cute if you ask me! 

(I wanted ladybugs and flowers...Ava wanted princess candies...we improvised and used a little bit of everything...she LOVED it.)

Thanks for turning 4 Ava... mommy has discovered that she LOVES having kid birthday parties. They are so much more darned fun!