My kids’ birthdays all fall within 3 weeks of each other, which makes a few very fun weeks of back-to-back celebrations!! I have been in my glory planning and prepping, getting creative, and looking for great deals to save money. Traditionally, we’ve only had friend parties on the “even year” birthdays, but now that we have an uneven number of children, I’m scrapping the every-other-year birthday party plan so no one feels left out and eventually going to just one big party a year to celebrate all the kids at once with our friends and family. But this year, everyone got their own little party with a few friends, and we all know how much I LOVE a theme I heard one of my boys asking someone the other day what their “theme” was going to be for something and I laughed out loud!
First up we have Dash, who wanted a space theme. He helped me print out and cut out pictures of the planets and tape them to a black blanket over the food table. We hung black streamers and gold paper stars from the ceiling. His food included little dippers (nuggets), flying saucers (bagel bite pizzas), asteroids (cheese balls), rocket shaped cheddar crackers, saturn’s rings (peach candy rings), milky way candy bars, and a stunning cake made by my friend Heather! Our activities were making collages with space pictures, a cosmic space version of musical chairs in the dark with glow sticks, “pin the comet”, and launching “rockets” (blowing up balloons and releasing them). Thank you to my friend Emily who sat with me for hours cutting out magazine pictures of anything space-themed, and to my friend Meri for brainstorming ideas and gathering supplies with me!! The best part of the party was watching the kids have fun together and laughing & laughing. I love having my kids’ friends over, and we are all blessed with really great friends!!!
A week later we had our sweet Miss Lyla’s birthday. I always thought she would be home for her birthday and as the date of her birthday grew closer without her here, I felt myself growing sadder & sadder. So I decided we should acknowledge her special day and celebrate her anyway!! I made a ridiculously large number of cupcakes topped with minnie mouse and loved hosting an open house where friends stopped by to write her a note and enjoy some pink sweets in her honor. Spending time with so many people who are so dear to us made the day a really special one. We’re praying hard she’s home enjoying the theme party of her choice next year!
And finally our little Jack Jack’s birthday was a week later! He is in love with anything and everything “fish” so it wasn’t a surprise when he picked a goldfish theme! We gave him a goldfish for his birthday, which was his “centerpiece”. He picked three friends from his class and they came for pizza, goldfish crackers, and an incredible fishbowl cake made by my friend Heather! He loved having his buddies over to play and celebrate his love for fish, and I got so many cute pictures of him hugging his friends with happiness
My kids have given me a new love for holidays both big and little. A previously self-proclaimed valentine’s day hater, I now even like Valentine’s dayI used to proclaim that I didn’t like such a prescribed holiday, but then isn’t that the same as mother’s day or father’s day and I certainly love those! So I’m a new advocate for the sweetness of valentine’s day with cute sayings, sappy cards, pink & red hearts, candy from friends, and lots of love! (even though I always try to be sensitive to those who are hurting on valentine’s day or mother’s day or Christmas or any specific holiday with certain expectations). With 6 days off of school between snow days and a scheduled inservice, valentine’s day was celebrated early for Jack Jack and just today for Dash at school.
I had fun making the boys’ valentine’s this year! Inspired by Jack Jack’s love for fish, they read “so glad we’re in the same school” and were filled with swedish fish. We started the day with heart-shaped pancakes & fresh strawberries, spent the day with my friend Brandie and her kids, and ended it exchanging sweet little presents with my mom and flowers from my love.
I read a lot of parenting blogs and inspirational facebook posts about ‘embracing the moment with your kids because the time goes so fast’, and oh my goodness those posts can seriously stress me out and give me anxiety. I want to get it right! I want to savor this time with my littles! But it is so hard sometimes!
This winter has laughed in my face at my resolve to be more in the moment with my kids. Snow day after snow day has tried my patience and creativity. It’s so much easier to be a “good” mom in the warmer weather, am-I-right?? My tendency has been to initially grumble about messed up routines and the length of time it takes to dress everyone in snow gear and find lost mittens rather than enthusiastically embracing uninterrupted hours at home together.
But those pesky mommy-blog posts I mentioned above and my inner heart tug at me and gently remind me: nurturing enthusiastic little hearts is truly the most important task before me right now, even when it’s hard, and even when many other responsibilities are also tugging at me. My children are a gift entrusted to me and this time IS short in the scope of my lifetime. I really do love seeing their faces light up when they ask me to play a game with them and I say “sure!” or when I pull out bowls and spoons and announce we’re having ice cream sundaes for lunch and how much whipped cream can we fit in our mouths at once I love how Jack Jack puts his arms around me and says “I like you” when we’re laying on the floor quietly coloring together, and I love how Dash responds “me too” when I say “I can’t wait to spend the day with you tomorrow”. I love being the person they run to to show me something cool or tell me something exciting. I even love sticking to my guns when they’re having a temper tantrum and seeing how my firm boundaries give them security and a chance to assure them of my unfailing love no matter what.
I’ve had to work at finding a delicate balance in order to feel like I can thrive as a mom, though: I can’t just be at the beck and call of my kids while juggling my business and keeping up the house and doing things for the kids’ school and finding time to exercise and having a few minutes to relax with my hubby, but neither do I want to ignore my kids’ intangible need for quality time with me during their waking hours. Ultimately, I have found my balance (or at least a semblance of it) by having good communication—and seriously isn’t that the foundation for almost everything?? For example, telling my kids “yes! I will do ____ and ____ once I have finished ‘this’, and ‘this’ will take me 30 minutes”, and then sticking to what I promised (even if I have to set a timer for myself, and even if they’re playing nicely on their own when my 30 minutes is up)!
Sometimes nurturing my kids comes in the form of saying ‘yes’ to their play requests, yes to crawling around on the floor pretending to be a dragon slayer, yes to letting go of my need to “accomplish” because I value them more and what is important to them right now. And sometimes nurture comes in the form of teaching them how to play on their own, work out their own problems, and value mommy’s work time. Nurturing my kids is an ongoing daily balancing act–some days I get it right, and some days I totally miss the mark. But I’m always going to keep trying.
my sweet Andrew, aka Dash, my first born, the one who made me a mom–
I can’t believe you are already eight years old! As I think about your first 8 years of life, I am filled with a bittersweet mix of regret and joy. You as the “first born” play the often unfortunate role of guinea pig as I figure out this parenthood thing. I know I’ve made more mistakes than I can count, lost my temper right along with your temper tantrums, spent too much time working instead of savoring you, and still struggle with making the most of our quality time together. I know I’ve also gotten a few things right, and I see that as you gain confidence in yourself and flourish as a student.
In the past year you’ve gained a lot of maturity (although you are still very, very silly with your friends, which I encourage because I want you to be a kid for as long as you can!!), and you are an excellent older brother–staying patient and being willing to make sacrifices for your little brother. I love the evenings when you pretend to fall asleep so that Jack Jack will fall asleep right away and then sneak back down for a little 1:1 time with us and tell us “every detail” (literally) about your day. You…have a really funny sense of humor, are obsessed with skylanders, spend hours reading, have a natural musical intuition, love soccer, are super smart, have an incredible memory and attention to detail, take everything very literally, love to play imagination games, love your routines, are a daddy’s boy, love to be outside, will only wear track pants and have vowed to never ever wear jeans again, get outraged when things don’t go according to plan, prefer healthy food, insist on turning off lights and nightlights every morning to save energy, and have a natural curiosity about the world and how things work.
We love every single part of you, and are blessed to have you as part of our family! We are so thankful for you and the energy you bring to our lives. We pray for wisdom as we continue encouraging your strengths and raising you to love Jesus and love others. My prayer is for you to continue growing as a confident and compassionate boy.
This morning I conducted our yearly interview with you at our favorite spot, the kitchen table. You were dashing in pajamas and appeared quite silly through the interview.
What were some of your favorite gifts this year? A new scooter, legos, skylanders, Ivan book, and a laser slingshot
What comes to mind with the following words?
Home: playing together
Favorite color: green, but I change it every Sunday. Next week is yellow
Bedtime: reading books
Favorite food: blueberries
Favorite song: hot dog song
What makes you really happy: playing at home on Saturdays
What was the last thing you were sad about: my friend matthew was out of school all week because he was sick
What do you look for in a friend: that they’re nice and they’re happy
What’s the best way to cheer someone up: do funny things and make them laugh
What are your thoughts about God: that He cares for us and we are like his little sheep
What do you think you’d like to be when you grow up: a scuba diver
Who’s the last person you kissed: mommy
I’m crazy about this girl
She is funny and smart and beautiful and an incredible writer. I especially love her enthusiasm for life! And I love that she thinks I’m a “cool” adult (her words!)I always enjoy the time we get to spend together–listening to One Direction, watching movies (can’t wait for our next movie date to see Divergent!), eating good food, and talking about life.
She came over recently to make cinnamon rolls with me, and while she was here she slipped on my red leather jacket to keep warm. I thought she looked so cute I begged her to let me do a little photo shoot of her! Looking at the pictures together afterward morphed into a request to be featured on my blog, which I readily agreed to and declared that I needed to “interview her” for the post”
what is your favorite thing to do?
use internet, read, ride my bike when it’s warm enough, watch TV
what is your favorite music?
5 seconds of summer, one direction, country music, alex & sierra
what is your favorite food?
what do you want to do when you’re older?
sing, write, and take pictures
why do you like to hang out with yours truly?
because we do fun things together and you let me use your camera
what is a wish you have?
to meet “five seconds of summer” and to meet all the people I look up to that are famous
what is your favorite color?
what is your favorite animal?
Sven the Reindeer, foxes, and wolves
what are your best qualities/strengths?
I can make people laugh by being myself, I am good at singing, I am a good writer
Is there anything you’d like to change about yourself?
what is your favorite TV show?
What is your most prized possession?
my lambies, my ipod, my sea to sea bracelets
what qualities do you like in a friend?
be weird with me, like the same music, be a good person, and be pleasant to be around
anything you wish you could change about the world?
to have it be the way God intended it to be
what is your favorite Bible verse?
Matthew 7: 1-6