Scary Stranger Update

Monday, June 30, 2008

Okay, so I met up with the group of a dozen runners from Plano Pacers yesterday morning. And truely as everyone was arriving, my anxiety was calmed. Even under the street lamps, I could tell everyone was very friendly. And everyone who knew Mr. Smarty told me very nice things about him like, "Oh, he's so fast!" And complimenting my hubby is a sure way to win my liking. No one even laughed when I told them I was only going to run half the distance they planned to run. One runner even ran back with me when it was time for me to turn around.

And get this: I got home before anyone was up! I spent all this time the night before getting everyone's rightly colored sippy-cups with their rightly colored lids filled and ready in the fridge and their bowls and cereal out and on the island. The coffee maker was all set so all Mr. Smarty had to do was hit the "ON" button. But my efforts weren't wasted. I took a longer than usual shower, knowing everything was all ready to start the day. What a great way to start the week!

Runner's Ready, GO!

Friday, June 27, 2008

So Mr. Smarty + I picked out our big race for the year. The San Antonio Marathon in November. If you do the math, to begin training 6 months prior to the race means we need to start, uh, NOW. And since I find it so much fun to run long runs by myself, oh, wait, I don't enjoy solo long runs...I decided this weekend I would run with a group. A group of scary strangers. Scary strangers who have been running longer than I've been walking. No, there's nothing wrong with these people who get up at 5 AM every Sunday morning to run 20 miles together, when they have no threat of an upcoming race, just for the pleasure of running long distances together, then sharing a bagel or two until the rest of the plano running community is cooling down in Einstein's AC. This is what makes them strangers-this weekly ritual is quite strange, wouldn't you agree?

What makes them scary is that I have never, NEVER, run with a group before. I have been running off and on for 7 years. I have stopped counting my 5K's, run a couple of 10K's, at least two 5 milers, three 15K's, one half-marathon and one full-marathon. And never have I run with a group. Or a partner, save Mr. Smarty, for that matter. I tried to convince Mr. Smarty to run with the group last week (because he has run with them before) and ask them to be nice to me. I'm forgetting that runners in general are a nice bunch of people. My main fear is that I won't be able to keep up the group's pace. But Mr. Smarty assures me that this is a good group who run for the joy of running, not for speed. They run to run for life, not to set records. That's me. I never run for speed. I never set records. So why am I so anxious?

Journaling for My Kids

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I keep a journal for each of my children. Each begins as a letter to the child, where I name qualities I have seen in them that are unique and special to their relationships in the our family. For example, our middle child is very sensitive, in the best ways possible. He is gentle to his baby brother and eager to please his big sister. In his letter, I specifically mention ways he is gentle and considerate to his siblings and tell him how proud I am of the compassion I see him exhibiting already. And also in his journal, I pray that he will always act with that quality.

Entries that follow the first letter are also written to the child, but they are more to the point about whatever I am recording in that moment. Here are some entries:

what a day in their life looks like at different ages

a list of their current favorite books

their first jokes

conversations or observations too funny to let time forget

plans for the daughter has wanted to be a 'princess doctor' for a few years now...I have to record that. Someday she will realize there is no major for 'princess doctors' and pick something else. But we cannot forget her first passion.

reactions to firsts...i.e., the feel of snow, or sand, or being up on stage

favorite foods, preferences of restaurants (besides Mickey D's)

tid-bits of history relating to them...What does this mean? Earlier-mentioned son made an amusing comment while we were standing in line to vote in the Primaries this past spring, so when I recorded his comment, I also gave some (very neutral, but still my own) commentary on the interesting race we were facing.

I bought these books on the outdoor clearance stands at Big Chain Bookstore for very little money, but they are nice enough to be able to be proud of them enough to give to my children when they are older. At the time I bought them, I made no rules for myself about writing in them on a regular basis. I don't write every week, or even every month. However, I do leave out sticky notes to quickly jot down something I will want to record later when I have more time, when I've had time to process it, or when the kids aren't around.

This journal is not meant to replace a scrapbook or baby album. It just fills in those details that we would love to remember about our own childhood. I often wonder...what did I do all day before I started school? Did I play with dolls or blocks on the floor with my mom? I remember a few childhood books, but which ones were my favorite? How did my brother and I get along at different ages? When did we become friends? When did we stop? When did we start again? What did I eat for breakfast? Did I eat breakfast? I bet my parents remember a few of these answers but I would love it in their own words and handwriting, written in the moment. Recorded moments with all of the emotions of the day and season.

I enjoy keeping these books and look forward to filling pages and pages with more wonderful, amusing, and ordinary but personal memories. And I hope it blesses them to know how much their mother loved them to record these sometimes silly but always important details.

Oh, and one more memory that will for sure be going in my daughter's book-her love of photography! She was the one behind the camera for the shot above! Thanks, Belle!


Monday, June 23, 2008

Following the theme of my last post, here are two more frugal tips for your thrifty pleasure:

Free Pedicure & Manicure from Herbal Essence. Purchase 2 bottles of specially marked shampoos/conditioners and receive 1 free manicure or pedicure from a participating salon. Two offers are allowed per household (so one pedi, one mani, if you wish). I have looked for participating bottles in every store and only found them at a particular store that starts with a W and rhymes with Ralmart. Save your receipt, then go to the linkage I provided above and enter in your UPC codes. It will give you unique redemption form to mail in with your receipt. And in 4-6 weeks, you can look for a voucher in your mailbox. (This is good until supplies last at Ralmart or 12/31/08.)

Two 6"x8" color hard-bound photo books from CVS for a grand total of $0.99. All photo books are Buy One Get One Free this week. The 6"x8" size is $6.99. There are $3 off Kodak photo coupons floating around out there right now. If you can find 2 (sorry, I've already given away/used mine), both will be accepted on the 2 photo books, bringing the grand total for 2 books to a single buck. These are the photo books you make instantly at the kiosks in the store, then they put them together while you wait. The paper is photo paper, but you have many choices for backgrounds/themes. I just made 2 for my in-laws to take to Jordan to give to the family back there. Wish I had taken a picture to give you an idea of the finished product, but they are already on the other side of the world.

Happy Savings!

Garage Saling is Fun Again!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Yes, deals are as present as the heat. Let me show you what $55, three dimes and a little extra room in a minivan will get you in Plano, Texas:

A Thomas the Train table-complete with trains and mounted tracks. This needed some paint (and still needs more, and maybe some sanding/stain, maybe) but is an amazing deal...or steal for $20.

A Big Girl Bike with training wheels, one knee pad and one elbow pad (so we tell her to always lean to your left when you think you're going to crash): $15.

2 matching Graco child booster seats to match the one we already have. Now these can go in Daddy's car. Both for $10. And actually, one of the seats has loose change in it's base. I'm actually making money back every time I shake it. They now have cost me $9. 45. Not bad a bad ROI. This is not pictured, because it would make for a boring image.

A cute wooden side table. Was an undefined wood stain color up until an hour after I purchased it. I painted it black during rest time. I'm not sure what I will place on it, since it is next to the kids' rooms...something non-breakable. Maybe an old birdcage, a basket and a wide candle holder. $10 for table. Paint was in the garage from previous projects.

3 Jumbo Thomas the Train Coloring books. I should say Priceless, but out of pocket cost was only $0.30! Again, boring image, no picture.

Not bad for a drive around the neighborhood.

The Circle of Life as it pertains to bathroom privacy

Thursday, June 19, 2008

When you are very small you see no reason for there to be locks or even doors on bathrooms. Not only that, but this room makes you smile. The bathroom is a fun room. This belief is held for a very long time. I'm told that bathroom privacy comes around the time they start school. My oldest now prefers privacy for herself, yet still prefers the open door policy for everyone case she needs something...a juice refill, how to spell "mustard", or to monitor her brother's attempt to put pee-pee in the potty.

So later, privacy is a must. If you are in the bathroom for ANY reason at all, the door is locked. This continues for years, sometimes decades...all through the school years, the roommate years. Even when you get your own apartment, it is a habit to close the bathroom door, when no one else is home.

Then, you get married. You relax. You realize you married a smarty who understands when the door is closed, someone is in there. There is no need to lock it. If there is an emergency...a tornado is approaching, they needs to floss, Mr. Smarty can still get in, but privacy is respected.

Then you are married a little longer. You relax. Privacy is still respected, but so is time. If two can get ready for the day simultaneously, so be it. You welcome this little step in the name of Efficiency.

Then you are married a little longer. You have a child, then a second, and sometimes, a third. Now, an audience in the bathroom is routine. Although no longer is this efficient. In classic Chandler-style: This is so the opposite of efficient. But what's a mom to do? Lock her babies out? And listen to them beat on the door for the (gasp!) thirty seconds you left them unsupervised? Ummm, Yes. I think this the calm IN the storm. The half a minute of peace that a 2 inch faux wood door grants while on just the other side, a storm is raging.

Anyway, back to the circle of life. Yes, that is the title of this post. I will get there. At the time of parenthood with small children, bathroom privacy is desired again. This continues for a while. I cannot comment on the specifics of the duration because I have not experienced life beyond this season, yet.

Assuming I survive the bathroom entourage years, and live to a ripe old, old, old age, I imagine, this preference for privacy will decline yet again. I like to think that when I am a centenarian, I will have mastered all my issues of pride , and will welcome any bathroom company with a smile. (Ahhh, the cycle! I get it!)


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I love this idea for a clean and unique soap dispenser. I snagged the idea from a friend who used a green liquid soap, which added another bit of color accent to their kitchen. I purchased my drizzler at Garden Ridge for under three buckeroos! I also added this stainless steel sponge holder to one of my sink walls, so now the counter space around my sink is completely neat and tidy. For weeks after I purchased my drizzler, I smiled as I passed my sink. Because every FlyLady knows that a clean sink leads to a clean kitchen which leads to a clean house which makes for one peaceful momma.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

So here is our traditional breakfast in bed. I'm not sure when I started making Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins for Matt, but I think he said he liked them once, so now it is his breakfast whenever there is cause to celebrate him. And he is indeed worth celebrating. Let me tell you why I'm so thankful Matt is the father of my children.

Matt acts with great integrity. This is something I have always respected and loved about him. Because of his integrity, he can be trusted. With anything.

He has a behemoth sense of determination. He wants to advance his career, he makes opportunities for himself. He wants to run faster, he trains for speed. He knows the kind of father he wants to be, so he sets goals for himself.

As he walks in the door each evening, he gets right on the floor and rolls around with his kiddos (who think he is just the greatest).

He has an insatiable desire to READ, READ and READ some more. He'll tell you he rides the train to work because it is better for the environment, and easier on his wallet, (both are true, by the way) but it also gives him sacred moments with his latest book.

I have issues. Everyone knows it, right? But he listens and cares and never ever belittles my concerns. If it bothers me, he wants to know about it and hear about it. and hear about it. and hear about it. (thanks, babe)

He will eat anything...okay, that doesn't sound like a compliment. But it is. Whenever he is served something, he will eat it, out of respect for the server. And he won't wince about it. He will genuinely try to appreciate it. This is also a huge blessing for me, because he's so easy to prepare dinner for each night.

And at the end of each day, as it nears bedtime for the kids, all I want to do is take a shower and wash the crumbs and the day's busyness off me. I want to just run away from the task of brushing little people's little teeth and making sure everyone's had at least one story read. Matt actually looks forward to the routine. He wants to read Horton Hears A Who for the hundredth time this week. He wants to pray over each one and call out, "Buenos noches, te amo, hasta manana..." to which the kids return, "Taco Bueno, te Elmo and hasta pasta." for 10 minutes.

Ahhh, thank you Matt, for my peaceful shower each evening. And for giving me three beautiful, wonderful, amazing children to wear me out each day. I wouldn't have it any other way.

(Editor's note: After posting this,my modest husband said this post was less than accurate. For the record he would have preferred a post that said only, "He's not a picky eater.")

Uh, can I get some humbleness with that adoption, please?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Okay, I feel very vulnerable writing this..., but I can stand some humbling every now and again.

My heart is totally thrown into our adoption. I am leaping in with all my foolishness and passion which is why I seem to blab on about it at every opportunity, but...

There is this part of me that feels really good when I get to tell people about what we are doing. As if said people should thank us for doing this small service for the world's impoverished. Or pat me on the back and tell me I'm for sure to win the Super Mom of the Year for 2008. or 2009. or whenever we bring our kids home. I believe my heart began with the best intentions and my motives were as pure as they could be given my propensity for pride. But what started as a pure, I believe, calling, is now tainted with ulterior motives for praise and awe.

I'm going through Beth Moore's To Live Is Christ and read this tonight:
We must be careful to avoid spiritual elitism. Everything we are and anything we possess as believers in Christ is a gift of grace. Pure hearts before God must be cleansed from any hint of spiritual pride. We must aggressively fight the enemy when he seeks to nullify our growth and good works by making them invitaions for pride and prejudice.

ouch. okay, I needed that.

Eleven by Sandra Cisneros

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you've eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you are--underneath the year that make you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.
Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree truck or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is.
You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't even feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is.

Schedule Update

Monday, June 9, 2008

So far, so good.  The schedule needs a bit of refinement...I'm finding little unaccounted-for-gaps in what's on the board.  But for the most part, having a routine is great!  And, actually, there have been fewer messes and mishaps, because there is no time where the kids are getting into something while I'm doing something else...we're always together and picking up along the way! 

My biggest concern about starting the routine was the rest time.  I don't expect the older two to sleep, but I do want them quiet and resting for 30 minutes.  So, to get them excited about this new habit, I made nap mats.  Today's rest didn't bring about the excitement I was hoping for, but it wasn't objected to as much as previous attempts at rest time. I guess the energy I spent today enforcing a half hour of silence will pay off tomorrow or next week or sometime before they're all grown up.

Reading My Blog Can Save You Money!

Friday, June 6, 2008

That's right!  Not only am I providing you with bi- and sometimes tri-weekly warmth, wit and wisdom but now I am saving you and your family money!  

This weekend only (Jun. 6-8), Einstein's Bros. Bagels is offering their bagels with shmear for a low, low price of $0.99!  Why would they do this, you ask?  Good question.  Ever heard the phrase, "The more you buy, the more you save"? Well, this weekend, you have the opportunity to make the phrase more along the lines of: "The more you buy, the more you can give."  All Einsteins asks is that you give the difference in price to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.   The donation is voluntary -you will still get the 99 cent price if you can't give...but I really think my Sesame Seed with low-fat plain schmear will taste so much more yummy knowing the kids at Make-A-Wish are getting an extra $2 I wouldn't have thought to give!

Thank Brianna for the tip! Happy carb-loading, my internets!

May's Race

Monday, June 2, 2008

Saturday morning was our Plano Pacers May 5K and Kids K.  It was really warm, and I think that affected our times, although I mentally wasn't expecting any time improvement.   We just love being out there every month and running with a crowd.  Matt's folks met us out at the park and watched the kids while Matt and I ran the 5K, then I ran with Noelle and Matt ran with Samuel in the Kids K.  

I love listening to Noelle gab while she runs.  At one point she politely told me to stop talking (she's so much sweeter than me, when I think back to times I've not-so-politely told Matt to stop talking to me on a run).  She said, "I think we better stop talking to save our breath for running."  She was amazing and never stopped running.  A K is a really long distance for someone with little legs.