Posts Tagged ‘Parenting’

And My Heart Breaks…

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008



I woke up this morning to red eyes and a tear-stained pillow because I had been anticipating the big event in our house. I still can hardly believe that he went to school today.

Last night we went to his back-to-school night and met his teacher. Ethan spent the evening working on a card to bring her and we got apples at the supermarket so he could give her one. When he walked in with his apple and card, he was so excited to hand it to her. “Will she put it on the corner of her desk, mommy?” I think he saw this on a show or in a book somewhere because the apple placement was almost more important than the apple itself. When she thanked him for the apple and centered it on her desk, he pointed to the corner of her desk. “Could you put the apple here instead?” She grinned, but obliged. I tried to make quiet small talk with the teacher and signed my name on the volunteer sheet. It took everything in me to not say things like, “My son is so amazing- you have no idea how amazing he is! He is so incredibly gifted and smart! Will you love having him around as much as I have?” I didn’t want to be that mom though so we said our goodbyes and held hands as we walked out the door.

It’s funny, when my daughter looks at a picture of our family she points at each person and says their name. “That’s my mommy. That’s my daddy. That’s my Ethan.” The inflection and the possessiveness of that phrase let’s you know just how special he is. He is hers and only hers. He is her big brother, her hero, and her best friend.

As I watch him climb the bus, that possessiveness rings in my heart. That’s my boy. That’s my colicky baby. That’s my stoic toddler. That’s my bubbly preschooler. That’s my gentle & kind son. That’s my Ethan. My. My. My.

Bittersweet.

At the Car Wash: Part II

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

This summer, the kids really loved getting to wash their own cars, but my neglected car was in need of a car wash too. Isn’t that why we have kids though? Might as well put these able-bodied children to work, that’s what I say!

Emily worked on the car with an old baby washcloth and Ethan used daddy’s official car scrubber.

I loved their looks of total concentration. They took their task very seriously and Emily kept wanting to show us how yucky the water was. I am the same way though when I scrub our floors. I just have to have other people witness the gross factor- you just can’t experience that alone.

I don’t know if I should mention this every single time, but I do feed this kid. These shorts are 3T and falling off of him still. I see pictures like these and feel like I should make a disclaimer- this kid eats me under the table. Oh, to have that metabolism!

Where in the world is their supervisor though? Oh, I think I found him sitting on the step watching the kids work. I don’t think we should ever claim to be parenting experts!

He had to break out the big guns though and show the kids how to clean the roof of the car. They thought this part was hilarious.

What’s a car wash though without a little water play afterwards? Ethan thought this part was definitely the best. Best of all, I have a clean car AND two exhausted workers to prove that this was a family event worth repeating!

Mom’s Date Night: Back To School Shopping

Monday, July 28th, 2008

My little supermodel wanted to show off his cool new t-shirt. We wore this out last week to go pick up Ethan’s school supplies and got stopped by tons of people in the store who wanted to pump Ethan up about how great kindergarten was going to be.

I took him for a special date night and we went to go get everything from his list of school supplies, a new backpack, and picked up some of his uniforms. I wish we could have taken advantage of end-of-year clearance on the uniforms, but we weren’t sure if he was going to get in this school or not. The real dilemma was finding enough clothes in his size and that would fit his narrow frame. We had virtually no luck at Wal-Mart and very little luck at Target. It is difficult to find a boy’s size 4 in the appropriate color scheme so I will have to do some additional hunting online for his fall/winter clothes.

$150 in supplies later and we headed over to Wendy’s for a special dinner complete with a Vanilla Frosty.

We couldn’t end our date there though because we had to head to a very special place to get something very special. Yes, Ethan is now a card-carrying adult because he got his very own library card. It was quite exciting to sign his own name, in his very careful script, and then pick out books and check them out in self-check ALL BY HIMSELF! He kept telling the librarian, “Excuse me, ma’am. Excuse me. I am down here.” The librarian laughed and told him that she could see him perfectly, but he kept saying, “Um, ma’am. I’m down here! I need a library card”

The joy in his eyes as we headed out with that little piece of plastic… May that feeling of joy only be replicated with free cards and not a credit card! Isn’t that every parent’s prayer?


What are you doing to get ready for school and when do your kids start? Where have you found the best deals on school supplies?

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New Entries For Reading & Watching:

Fruit Roll-Ups Giveaway Results
Playskool Products
Crayola Doodlebags
Veri Meri T-Shirts
WSBT: Getting Kids to Do Chores
Frugal Hacks: Another Summer Gone By

Dad’s Day Out & Mom’s Day In

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008



We have been trying to accomplish all of the great things off of our summertime list this summer and we had a major event to accomplish… a trip to Chicago’s Field Museum. Last week, they offered a free admission day so we made plans to make our trip that day.

When I say we though, I mean my husband & Ethan. The guys wanted to do this trip alone without any girls ruining all their fun so they headed their together for a full day of fun in the prehistoric world. They took the South Shore train to their destination and enjoyed a guy’s day together.

When Ethan walked in and saw Sue the amazing T-Rex he said, “I have been waiting my whole life for this moment.” Ryan sent me updates via text message about all the fun they were having and he took tons of pictures of all of Ethan’s favorite moments from the museum.

Meanwhile, Emily & I had a wonderful girl’s day. We played outside, I sat at her mini-picnic bench and shared a peanut butter & jelly sandwich with her, we snuggled, we laughed, and we went to my mom’s birthday dinner celebration. We sent dad messages about what we were up to and…well, we couldn’t stop smiling. Every once in awhile, Emily would look at me and say, “Where did Ethan go?” and I would remind her that he & daddy had a special day together.

When my husband got home we both remarked that we need to do that more often. We both felt a bond with each child deepen during that day and it was great to be able to devote our undivided attention to each of them.

Do you do dates with your children? How do you manage to make quality time for each child individually? I would love to get some ideas for things we could do with the kids in the future!

The Summertime List & Summertime Games

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

We are enjoying a summer full of fun activities, thanks to our summertime list!

Here is what we have accomplished so far:

Made homemade slushies
Ran through the sprinklers
Went to the zoo (Ft Wayne and/or Potowatomi Zoo)
Went to playgroup(s)
Went to VBS
Made homemade play dough
Made Magic Milkshakes
Went to Grandma’s house to play
Watched the Car’s movie and ate Jimmy John’s
Went to Krispy Kreme and watched them make donuts
Had a picnic in the backyard

We still have some more things to do, but we have really been enjoying checking things off of our list. It has been a real family event with everyone pitching in to make sure that we do all of these special things.

With the completion of our patio, we have been enjoying lots of time in our own backyard. I did make a little investment in some family games for us to play outside.

We bought this Franklin 5 Game Set at Target for $14.99, which was about the price you would pay for a nice new board game. This set came in a carrying case and it has a net that you can put up and play games like badminton (our favorite), volleyball, frisbee, horseshoes, and lawn tennis (plastic rackets with a foamy ball to bounce over the net).

This has been such a fun investment because my husband and I can play this on our own or we can toss the Frisbee with the kids. The net is height adjustable and so you can lower it for the wee people in the family. We have also included the kids in the games by parking little lawn chairs for them and making them the judges (which they LOVE).

It isn’t the best quality set I have owned, but I am sure we can get $14.99 of games out of it. It has been a great way to spend our evenings and it keeps us active this summer.

The other game we bought was the Eddie Bauer Bean Bag Toss set, available at Target for $49.99 (it is on sale this week, but not available on their website). Yes, this was A LOT to pay for a game, but it is just beautiful and we plan to use it for many years. We both couldn’t believe how well it was made and it comes with a case so you can take it with you places. We plan to take this to the grandparent’s houses (that don’t have a lot of kid toys) or for get togethers with friends who don’t have children yet. The kids love playing with it and dropping the bean bags into the nets. We can get pretty competitive with it, but it is a complete blast and will be fun to get out when we are entertaining in the summer.

If you wanted to be more thrifty with a bean bag toss, you could make your own too. Polliwog’s Cakewalk has a wonderful tutorial for making some monster bean bags that you could craft up with the kids. I think these would be fun to do with the pails in a row (a la Bozo the Clown Show for my friends who grew up on that kind of entertainment) and do a bean bag toss with them like that too!

Do you have any games that you play with your family in the warmer weather? How do you keep the kids entertained?

A Struggle to Be Faithful

Monday, June 30th, 2008

I adore my Emily. She is her very own little person with her own sweet little personality. I prayed very hard that we would someday have a little girl of our very own and here she is in all of her glory. She is the sweetest little girl with the best personality and she makes me laugh with her sweet quirkiness.

Emily has also challenged me in ways that I never dreamed as a parent. While Ethan slept through the night at three months, my Emily still cries for me at night (she is two and a half). Since she has been born, I have had rarely a full night of sleep. I can’t figure out why this is because we have done everything for her exactly the same as Ethan, but Emily doesn’t seem to really need sleep.

Ethan was (and still is) an extremely outgoing child. I could leave him anywhere and he would have a zillion best friends by the time I got back. I remember that my feelings were a little hurt the first day I dropped him off for school and he barely acknowledged my departure. He was just that kind of kid.

Emily is not that kind of kid. She is very shy and takes time to warm up to anyone. She really hates to be left anywhere and clings to my leg if she thinks I will leave her. She wails uncontrollably if she thinks we will leave her. It has been extremely hard.

Working out is difficult because I can hear her crying when I leave her in the babysitting area for my workout. I am constantly listening and my stomach feels like a little tight ball because I am on edge if she is making it difficult for the babysitter in charge. I feel selfish when I leave her there. Working out is optional and I feel like I am inflicting trauma on my child for no reason.

Worshiping is difficult because the children go to Sunday school while we attend the service and she really hates going. When we walk into church, she starts crying and when we leave her she is uncontrollable and inconsolable. This Sunday she screamed the entire time we were in service, and her screaming was worse if anyone looked or talked to her. When we got done with worship and the tears were rolling down her face, I felt like the worst parent in the world.

I honestly don’t know what to do. She doesn’t like to be alone at night, she wants me to be by her side all day, and I feel very badly for the people who are caring for her in my absence. At the same time, I know that there are times where we need that separation so that I can be a better mom to her. Things like working out and going to worship are important to me, but I feel very badly doing these things when I know how hard it is for the people who care for her.

It is bad enough that I don’t know if my husband and I should go to worship together. Maybe we should alternate services so Emily doesn’t have to go to Sunday School? Maybe I should quit the gym in favor of working out at home? I really am struggling with what is the best way to handle this. Do I keep doing this in hopes that she will figure out that we will always come back to her or do I wait until she outgrows it on her own?

I would love to hear from parents who are dealing with this or have watched their children outgrow it! Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Summertime Planning

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I was really inspired by Whatever’s summer list and vowed that we were going to do that this summer for our family. We headed over to the Dollar Tree and picked up a piece of poster board for $.50 and a fresh new Sharpie marker for $1. On the way home, we talked about all of the things that we wanted to do this summer and we both got really excited about all of our fun plans.

Ethan made the list with us and this is what we came up with:

Go to the beach (St Joe and/or New Buffalo)
Go to the dinosaur museum (the Field Museum)
Play Mario Kart with mommy
Make homemade slushies
Run through the sprinklers
Go to the zoo (Ft Wayne and/or Potowatomi Zoo)
Go to playgroup(s)
Go to VBS
Go to the dollar movie
Sleepover with our cousin
Have an Earth Hour family night
Make homemade pizza
Eat at the food court at the mall
Make homemade play dough
Go to St Louis
Go to Granny’s house to play
Make Magic Milkshakes
Go to Grandma’s house to play
Go to the park
Get our first library card
Go to the water park
Make banana pops
Wash the cars with daddy
Get out the rainy day suitcase
Watch the Car’s movie and eat Jimmy John’s
Have an ice cream sundae night
Buy presents for the homeless shelter and deliver them
Go to Krispy Kreme and watch them make donuts
Have a picnic in the backyard
Go to the AirZoo Museum

Ethan drew a picture of his family in the summertime to go along with our list and we hung it in our kitchen for the summer.

I love that the majority of the activities he picked didn’t cost money and that the ones that he did pick that cost something could be special things that we could look forward to together. Since we have no big vacation plans, this looks like a really great round-up of activities to keep us busy this summer.

It is kind of funny though… I think my husband & I are just as excited as he is!

Old School Baking Day

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

My sweet little bread machine kicked the can last week after two years of hard work in our family. I used my bread machine two to three times a week so it does a lot of work for us and I am missing it terribly. I got mine at a garage sale and I just can’t see paying for it retail, but my husband is insisting that we just buy one new this time. I don’t know though… I think I might check the thrift store a few times before buying one.

In the meantime, we are using our trusty stand mixer fitted with the dough hook to do the bread. It has been so long since I have made bread this way that I feared that my attempt might fail miserably.

Ethan happened to watch Sesame Street though and they showed the process of making bread so he asked me if we could do this together. Since we were having sandwiches that night, I told him he could help me make the hamburger buns for our dinner.

We let the stand mixer do the mixing for us and then we pulled the dough out to do the kneading. This dough reminds me of play dough so it is the perfect dough to use with kids. It is not sticky and doesn’t even require a floured surface. Ethan mastered the art of kneading and enjoyed working his frustrations out on the dough. Pound, pound, pound, knead, knead, knead…

I cut the dough into nine pieces and then Ethan shaped them and put them on the stone. We talked about how the bread needs to rise and rest while we tidied the house up before dinner. After a little rising, I slid the stone into the oven for fifteen minutes of cooking.


Despite being really out of practice, the rolls turned out beautifully. Ethan pronounced the dinner, “The best dinner in the entire world.”

A successful mission completed!

Something Exciting Is Happening

Monday, May 19th, 2008

We are trying to complete our homework for starting kindergarten and this week Ethan got his teeth cleaned. Ethan’s teeth looked beautiful, but we discovered a special secret that his mouth had been keeping… Ethan has his first loose tooth. He was so excited to tell me that his tooth was loose and I told him that I had a special book that I had been saving just for this occasion. Hidden in the depths of my closet, I have had a special tooth fairy set that we could get out when this momentous occasion happened.

As we sat down to read the book, Ethan admitted that he didn’t know which tooth felt loose. He showed me that he couldn’t wiggle it (wiggling side to side) and I showed him that you wiggle your tooth from front to back. The look of amazement on his face was priceless, “OH!!!!!!” he said, and a look of excitement and fear passed over his eyes. While Ethan sat by me and wiggled, I read to him from this wonderful book that explains the entire process of loose teeth. It covers all of the bases like why we lose our teeth, a pillow with a pocket for the tooth fairy, a special chart that you can fill out for each of your children and save for their baby books, and what to do if you (gasp) lose your tooth.

And then we practiced.

And practiced. Then, just to make sure this all will really happen, Ethan wished on an imaginary star that he would lose his tooth so the tooth fairy would come to visit him.

I have a feeling that it won’t be long! Maybe I should review the tooth fairy economics that we discussed earlier this year. Yes, something exciting is happening over here!

Sound Off: Did you do anything special to make this event even more special?

Here We Come, Kindergarten!

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

My son is a genius and I have photographic proof now. He asked me to come downstairs, one morning before school, to show me something he had made. This is what I came downstairs to- can you believe it? I still have no idea how he stacked these nesting blocks in their complete reverse order.This is just the kind of kid I am raising- he is an out-of-the-box kind of kid. He is a creative thinker and a human sponge. I say he is a genius, very tongue-in-cheek, but he is one smart little cookie and is really looking forward to kindergarten.

We were in a tough dilemma about where we were going to send him to school. We wanted to support the efforts of the public school system, but we were not in a great district to do that. When magnet schools became available in our area, and after hearing so many great things about them, this seemed like the most viable option for us. We could not afford to put two children into private schools, but the magnet schools were part of the public schools with a great curriculum, uniforms, and an incredibly gifted staff. We applied and waited. And waited. And waited. We went to meetings and we prayed and prayed that our child would get to be a part of this program. Guess what? He’s in!

We went to the kindergarten round-up and I was so impressed with everything at the school. I felt like I was on the verge of tears the entire time for a couple of different reasons. The first, was that we were sitting there and would get to be a part of this wonderful community and staff. The second, was the talk of them going off to school and what an important time in their lives this is. The image of my son. My little boy. My child. My sweet and precious little man going on a bus and leaving me for the day was almost too much. Part of me welcomes him going away to school and part of me just wants to hold on a few more years to our special time together. He is my best buddy and I love having him around!

He was so excited about his new school and wants to begin counting down the days until he can start going there. In the meantime, we need to schedule a physical, get his kindergarten shot, a dental exam, a vision exam and sign him up for his first library card as part of our homework before school starts. We also will continue working on our letters, mathematics, and beginning reading skills with Ethan…. and mark off the days for him until he goes off to kindergarten. Kindergarten, here we come!