Wednesday, June 21, 2017

All the Girls

For my 89 year old grandmother, all of us girls gathered in Red River, New Mexico for a weekend of fun together. We debated what it should be called--retreat? vacation? Whatever its called, I want to do it again.

We gathered Friday evening about five miles out of town in a development of vacation homes one could only rent to enjoy. Our four bed-room lodge had a beautiful covered deck overlooking a mountain river, auible above the laughter of cousins and aunts. We gathered outside for lemonade and cookies, drinking in the twenty degrees cooler mountain air. All three aunts, two daughters-in-law, four granddaughters, two granddaughters-in-law, and four great-granddaughters rounded out the crew. We spent the first evening gathered in the kitchen for some pasta and salads followed by a movie--a chick flick many had not seen. Before midnight, three of us headed for the hot tub sans babies and talked in the cool evening air as the hot tub warmed our happy bodies. Babies didn't last long without moms so the time ended in a hasty retreat upstairs for comforting of toddlers.

Saturday started early for me with my sweet girl eating cereal while I drank coffee and talked to grandma (also an early riser). By nine we had the rest of the crew for bacon and eggs around the large kitchen tables. I spent some time in both the morning and afternoon painting nails and applying wraps. Four of us went on a walk around the neighborhood pushing a stroller on the dirt roads that wound over the creek and up hills. An hour later with sunburned necks, we had a sleeping toddler and happy moms. After a group testing session for Lipsense, we smiled for a group selfie in front of the fire place.

That evening we loaded up vehicles to head in to town for a meal at Texas Reds. The BBQ with live music hit the spot, even for fussy little girls like mine. She ate her ketchup via a few fries and calmed right down after protesting our group photo at the lodge. We walked downtown for some chocolate and shopping before heading home for more movies (or puzzles--whichever suited us best). That evening I didn't go to the hot tub but I did have a happier girl having figured out she needs to rest in a cool room.

Sunday I woke up early again and ended up taking my girl on an early stroll for a nap. She seemed to know when she needed a little down time, pointing to the stairs and snuggling right up in the stroller. We stayed for lunch then headed home even though most of the pack stayed through the next morning. Something about extended time together fosters conversations you don't get around the branding luncheon tables. I am so thankful for women I enjoy right in my own family. We support each other, laugh together, and celebrate together. May we have more weekends like this one!

For me the greatest encouragement came from the wisdom of other moms who saw my toddler melt down before meals or naps and simply observed they had been there too and I was doing a great job. As a still new mom, I didn't need secret formulas or chastisement to use methods I had already tried and failed. Instead I got the strong hugs and stories of women with similar stories that ended in happy kids and strong character. Being a mom takes so much courage, especially for a people pleaser like I am but I know that I have a heritage of strong women who stand together and raise children who follow Jesus and experience grace. So thankful for my family.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

One Third

How can summer be one third over? We have had a wonderful time with family this summer. This past week we have attended Vacation Bible School. For the last ten years I have helped in some capacity starting with pre-school and moving around to Bible teacher, crafts and crew leader. This year, I sat with my own pre-school aged boy, watching him act out the story of Gideon, decorate pictures with glue, and plug his ears during the singing. Every day we ride home listening to the VBS music and he doesn't want to leave the car. At dinner last night, he sang and did the motions to the songs even though at the church he stands in awe of the other kids and won't participate. Meanwhile, his little sister runs all over clapping and stomping her feet during the singing. While he participates in the pre-school activities, I watch his sister eat snacks, carry toys around, and put things she finds into her mouth. They both love all the cousin attention and sleep hard at night after a busy day playing. While it is a great activity for kids, I love that God's word is filtering into their hearts and pray that it may reap a harvest for years to come. "If God is for me, who can be against me?"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sweet Solution

For months I have wondered how to night wean our daughter. She weaned herself from a bottle right before her first birthday. As soon as I arrived home in the evening after school she still wanted to nurse. This also meant she wouldn't eat much supper and ended up nursing all night. Momma didn't get much sleep for the next six months. Even as a newborn, she slept longer stretches than she did as a yearling. I resolved to wean her over Christmas break, then with no resolve I not only didn't wean her, I nursed her all day long which made for some better night sleeping until our two week paradise ended and I went back to my school routine.

I then resolved to wean her over spring break in early March. Again with little resolve, I failed. I asked for prayers but with no courage, gave in to the idea that many moms nurse well past a year and we weren't out of cold and flu season yet anyway so maybe the extra she got at night would actually keep her healthier. I had a wedding out-of-state at the end of April so I figured if all else failed, she would have to wean by then (near her 17 month mark).

The weekend came with a promise of an enormous snow storm. While my parents and I managed to skirt the storm heading west through the mountains, it turned in to a regular blizzard in northeastern New Mexico, killing cattle and stranding motorists. Meanwhile, my husband hunkered down for the storm with two tiny tots and a bunch of firewood. And some Oreo cookies.

He meant for me to take them on the road trip with my parents. But instead they turned into little angel sugars to wean our daughter. When she woke up in the night to nurse, he rocked her and gave her Oreo cookies. She slept. During the day, if she fussed, he gave her cookies. I left on Friday and by the time I arrived home on Monday, he had given her (and probably her brother too) no less than two packages of Oreos. Mind you, she basically ate the frosting out of the middle (she is my girl after all) and left the chocolate cookies lying all around in secret hiding places on our brown leather furniture or under chairs, for instance. I suggested maybe we should collect all this and make crusts for some desserts. My husband suggested perhaps slobber cookies would not make the best crusts. Oh.

After about a week she did slow down from her cookie habit and I am happy to report I finally hid them in a drawer and she no longer asks for them every ten minutes. I think we made it through this night weaning ordeal all right if a month of Oreos is all we have to worry about. We're sleeping better too, did I mention that? She eats like a champ all day now and because of it sleeps all night consistently. Thank God for Oreos!

Summer of 17

My first day of summer vacation I loaded my daughter into the car and we took our first trip to Trinidad with no crying. She napped both on the way in and on the way home. She also shopped like a champ. I see many mother/daughter days in our future if this continues. We stopped to see my granma for a little while and my sweetheart simply played with balloons and rolled on the bed, no toys necessary. What a gift to have a daughter!

Sometimes I wonder why God had me wait 20 years after leaving this place to return and marry someone whom I could have met and married right out of high school. I'm so thankful he added a little spice into my life with years off at college, traveling, teaching, and training for races, hikes and skiing. While I do not miss those days as I sit cuddling my children in the canyon, I am thankful for the experiences of my past that enrich my present. Must I be a different mother and wife for those 20 years spent wandering in anticipation of these present days.

I'm looking forward to a summer of adventure with these three favorite people of mine. Last evening, after a thunderstorm headed south instead of our way, we loaded up into Punkin, fixed a fence post down east, and came home for left overs. The sun didn't set until after 8 p.m. and our kids played vigorously until the time for cuddles and pajamas.

Did I mention we get sleep these days? I have stopped counting the number of nights she has slept until morning. I think I will blog a separate post about the night weaning process. Let's just say my two greatest mom fears (to this point) have met with an end--she is fully weaned and he is fully potty trained!

This morning my girl and I walked up the canyon road for our first of many summer walks. She tells the calves hi and waves non-stop until she finally collapses in a nap. The dog rounds the cattle up, herding them away from us until he spots a rabbit or stray antelope needing his utmost attention. I find myself windblown and sore from the exertion but by summer's end I doubt I'll notice the strain.

What a gift to raise children in the country! While I know they will miss out on some opportunities like band or church youth groups, I think the time they have using their imaginations to play or meeting up with grandparents and cousins are opportunities we cannot pass up. The foundations of faith and family run deep in this volcanic soil of northeastern New Mexico and I can only aspire to launch them well as did our families for us. I could not craft a better setting for the story of my life. What good and perfect gifts are my husband and children. So grateful.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


My children nap on this the last day of my spring break, so here I sit to record some moments I want to savor from the last two months. Or maybe just moments from this very day. The fact that they both napped here after lunch continues to amaze me. They slip into sleep in the middle of the day with cherubic faces, sleeping on their beds for an hour or two. Such a restorative rest! They sleep better at night, eat better, and behave better with a little mid-day slumber. This morning for meeting, Katy ventured out from the couch as we sang, prayed and shared but she didn't head to the other room for toys or insist on nursing as she has some days. She and John ate Jell-O at lunch along with their roast and some apple cake. They played together, wrestling over a pillow and giggling. She's about a head shorter than her brother but her curls and spunk make her his match. He often gives in to her or finds a toy for her so she will leave his alone. At meals these days she insists on drinking from her cup when he does and arguably eats simply to be like him, regardless of how hungry she is or not.

Monday we spent the morning painting with bath paints (who wants to wash the whole tub out with green, blue and red paint?) on cardstock. To keep Katy busy, I set her up with bath letters and a bowl of water to stick them on the new dishwasher. Soon, she seated herself and poured the water into her mouth and down her shirt. Wednesday we took the tee ball set outside for some hitting in the spring sun. Katy clapped for her brother who could hit the ball nearly over the fence already. We had to sprint to get the balls before she did. Then she sat on the porch clapping for a while and finally ventured out to the bucket of water for the dog and began drenching herself in the name of watering the roses. Two days later, she hauled the tee ball set off the porch and into the yard where she managed to set it up, ball and all, for a few hits.

Spring break also meant a lot of visits: to the great-grandparents and grandparents. Our boy spent the day with Ema, going to the bank for a sucker and the park for some sliding. We left his sister one day and took him to town with us. We were actually able to eat at a restaurant! We haven't convinced her this is a good idea in months! Too busy, that girl. One day, John convinced Kiki to take him along on a four wheeler ride to look for cows that turned into throwing rocks in the fish pond and then going home to make suckers. Finally, we headed over to my grandma's house and ended up lunching with a bunch of the cousins. John played outside with the boys, driving the tractor, sliding, and playing in the sandbox. Katy stayed inside and warmed up to Braxton, climbing up on anything she could find and generally terrorizing him by taking his toys just like she does to her brother. When we took them down to the corrals to see the new arrivals, John climbed on the hay bales while Katy tried to give the cows a bite of hay. She loves animals! We took several visits to the Browns too meaning crackers from grandpa and watching videos with grandma.

We read books and cuddled and played play dough and laughed. Mostly I just savored in the rest from routine before hitting the last quarter of school before summer. I spend little time reading in the middle of the night and less time worrying about weaning than I thought I would over break. I did scrapbook and walk but I left my to do list pretty untouched. I made memories to savor instead.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Top Three

Our first turns three this week. His language development has finally taken off. This morning I came out of the bathroom with my hair thrown into a pony tail with a cute little flower above the band and he declared it “Cool!” Recently, when I tired of his constant pleas for a snack (which I fully intended to get for him after I finished my task), he declared “Don’t be grouchy, mommy!” On so many levels that stopped me in my tracks. I laughed and told him I loved him and he groused that “I love daddy” instead of me. He calmly told me later he does love me. Whew! Whenever I scold him these days, he melts into my arms and becomes super cuddly for the next hour or so. Meanwhile his sister continues to do the forbidden deed without guilt over and over and over. My goodness parenting should be an Olympic sport—it is mental gymnastics all day long (and all night in our case since the little girl is still not sleeping more than a two hour stretch at a time).

We marked the end of his second year with a trip to Cheyenne to see the great-grandma and cousins we haven’t visited since the wedding this summer. He nearly slept through the whole visit. We are roads to get us there. Though it is usually a five hour trip we made it in just under nine with some small bouts of tears along the way, lots of snacks and a few repetitions of Daniel Tiger. Grandma loved that little sister figured walking out on her carpeted floors. Both kids immediately warmed up to her, having her read books and play.

I’ve decided that kids make Christmas fun. I may not have actually spent much time on gift buying this year, but we decorated the tree and read books about Christmas. Both kids loved the garlands and spent hours chasing each other around the kitchen table with it. The singing after Christmas Eve dinner at my granma’s house is always my favorite and my little songster liked it this year too. We stopped by and saw our other set of cousins that same night, eating all the frosting off their cupcakes and doing lots of wrestling on the couch before gifts enamored us.

Break also meant time to squeeze in a little photo shoot with our family photographer. She brought two of the boys down with her and we used the canyon walls and old fences as a backdrop for these two beautiful faces. Sometimes it is just nice to have a reason to hang out and visit as moms too. I could not be more delighted with the final product which I will share here in this blog.

Three years since our lives forever changed with the addition of a little life God entrusted to us. We gaze in amazement as we watch his personality unfold. It is good to spend time reflecting on the past year and making goals for the year to come (will this finally be the year I have the courage to follow through on potty training?). Because children add an element of spontaneity I imagine our best memories of the year will never make it to my goal sheet in my new bullet journal (you know you want to ask me about it so I will blog about it I hope!). It makes me a better person to see myself through my children’s eyes. They forgive quickly, laugh easily, and love fully. May I be this sort of child in my Father’s eyes as well. Happy New Year!


Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Year in the Life of our Girl

Today, my little girl held my right hand and walked down the sidewalk after her brother. He ran ahead of us to show Grandma Joan and Aunt Dianna the greenhouse. She sat in the soil, throwing it up and around her until her pink shirt and blue jeans turned brown. I swooped her up as we headed out to the shop to play with toys. She picks out the horse in the little Fisher Price barn and chases after her brother who is throwing a ball.For lunch, she ate the rest of her peas, pieces of a Thanksgiving dinner roll, and some cheese. She fell asleep in Dianna's arms as she rocked and read Time for Bed.
We just finished her first Thanksgiving where she voted the pie as the best part of the dinner. After eating, she entertained us with her bounce and clapping as her Dad played the accordion for us. She also rode a horse for the first time this month. Aunt Becky put her up on Dude, Liam's kid horse. Katy loved stroking his nose, but riding kept her fascinated. She did a little queen wave to me as she rode around the driveway. She's definitely our animal loving kid.
What joy to have a daughter. A year ago I could not hardly believe my good luck in having a healthy boy and then a healthy girl at my age. I wondered who this little dark haired precious gift would be. A year later, though I am thankful for a safe delivery and maternity leave with my baby, I am so mesmerized by this little one. She giggles, teases, screams, chases, bounces, hugs, kisses, and cuddles. I cannot imagine my life without her. I love her more every day. I try not to let my dreams run too far out in the future so I can absorb this very moment.
I tire of holding her hands so she can walk all around the house--but I know some day she won't want my supporting hands. I marvel at how little I accomplish in a day with my little koala baby girl--but I know some day she will play independently and I will watch with all my chores finished and wonder at her imagination and intelligence. She dramatically cries as she hits her head on the table--but someday I know her tears will be for much bigger problems and I may not be able to soothe her with a hug.
I asked a few people to write her a note for her to read on her 18th birthday so I am going to indulge a little as well. I hope for her that she knows the peace of a faith rooted in Christ's offer of salvation. I want for her to know the love of her family and the confidence which comes from knowing one's roots. I anticipate she will be beautiful and intelligent, but I hope also humble and gracious. I want her to be known less for her future ambitions and more for her present kindness. I hope she offers respect to everyone she interacts with and asks questions to get to know people and issues facing our world. May she have the optimism to have faith in people, but the realism to trust only God, not people or politics, jobs or dreams. I hope glimmers of this little smile still remain and that her hugs are just as warm and ready as they are today. I wonder if she will play with my dolls or ride horses. Will she play ball or sew? But I know for sure that since I plan to be there for her season change from home to the world, that I will love her all my days only more as she gets older. Happy Birthday Katy girl!