Saturday, June 23, 2007

Merry Maids?

My mom taught me at an early age the basics of keeping house. Some of those lessons were just part of the raising we received; some of those lessons, though, were out of necessity. My mom had two major kidney surgeries when the three of us kids were still pretty young, so my sister and I needed to be able to do much of the work around the house while she was recuperating. Then when I was in junior high, my mom went to Europe with her mom and her sister for almost a month. My sister had a summer babysitting job, and my brother went to the farm with my dad every day, so the house was pretty much left for me to take care of--doing laundry, cleaning house, making the grocery list, cooking lunch and dinner everyday for my family, etc.

(A little aside here: one of my favorite funny memories of Mom being gone was when my dad took us grocery shopping. My sister and I had made the list, and then Dad took us kids to the store to buy what we needed. I remember whispering to my sister that Dad was going to have a fit when he saw how much the groceries cost--not because our list was exorbitant or anything, but because Mom did the grocery shopping and Dad was not really in touch with what things cost. Sure enough, in the check out line, Dad about had a cow when he saw the final tally of the contents of our shopping cart! You probably just had to be there to think it was funny, but my sister and I had a good laugh about it afterwards!)

I've always been very grateful that my mom taught me so well how to keep house, and I want to teach these things to both of my kids early on. I've often read and now know by experience that small children enjoy being given some responsibilities. My kids--who are almost 4 and 2 years old--put their dirty clothes in the laundry basket, put their shoes away in their closets where they belong, pick up their toys and books at the end of the day, and now are learning to clear their own dishes from the table, throw away what needs to be thrown away, and then put them in the sink. I don't want to have to "teach" them these things when they get older and have them think they are somehow being punished with "chores". I want them to know early on that this is just a part of life and part of their responsibility as members of our family.

Often when I vacuum, Benjamin and Hannah are right beside me with their "vacuums"--Benjamin with his mini-Dirt Devil, and Hannah with her little popper push toy. Benjamin now likes to get my small vacuum--a light-weight rechargeable one--and really and truly help me clean the floors. It makes me smile when they do this, but it also makes me glad that they want to help.

And, deep down inside, if I am totally honest with you, it makes me jump up and down with joy thinking that in a few years, I can have them believing it's Mommy's job to sit in her favorite chair and read a book while they clean the house! Okay, not really! But I do like knowing I have two good helpers in the making!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

My Princess Girl

She's my Princess Girl. I try to tell her that at least once a day.

"Are you my Princess Girl?" I ask her.

"Yes," she replies, that sweet smile spreading across her face.

I never want her to doubt for a minute how special she is.

I give her a bath tonight, washing the snow cone syrup from her face and hair. I comb the tangles from her chin-length strawberry blonde hair. Then the moment she's been waiting for all evening--I put her new, long pink nightgown over her head and let it fall almost to her ankles. The ruffles at the hem just make the gown. The more girlie, the better, in my book. The first thing she does in her new nightgown--the first thing most of us did as little girls in a new nightgown--is hold the sides of it out and start twirling. It makes me smile, because I can so clearly remember doing that myself when I was small. I'm certain at this moment that she knows she is a Princess.

After one last drink of milk, we brush her teeth, and then settle into the rocking chair for prayers and a few Bible stories. I finish reading, close the Bible, and as I set it aside, she says, "I want to rock." So we snuggle in a little tighter--my arms around her, her head on my chest. I pat her back, she pats my chest. We rock silently for a few minutes. Then breaking the silence, she looks up at me, puts her finger to my lips, and says, "I love you, Mommy."

"I love you, too," I reply.

It's moments like these that I don't think my Mommy heart can hold any more love. No words can do the moment justice.

I lay her in her bed and cover her up with her girlie pink ruffled quilt. I kiss her goodnight, turn on her music, and quietly close her door.

My cup runneth over.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Celebrating with Cake and Crocs

I celebrated my 32nd birthday Thursday. Thus far, birthdays have not bothered me--this one was no different. I know my sister struggled with 25; many struggle with 30. My thought has always been "it's just a number." I know that mindset could change, but for now, I'm okay with whatever my "number" happens to be.

My birthday celebration began a little bit early. Mark wanted us to have a night away to celebrate, so we were telling this to the kids Wednesday evening over dinner. We explained that we would be going away for my birthday, and that Granny Sue would be coming to stay with them. Benjamin got the most disappointed look on his face, and said, "But I wanted to have some of your birthday cake." Being almost 4, he envisioned my birthday being every bit as involved as his--cake, decorations, the works. Well, being 32, there were no cake plans in the works, so I said to Mark in code that maybe we needed to go to the bakery real quickly and get a cake for us to all share so that Benjamin wouldn't be disappointed. (I absolutely LOVE birthday cake with lots of icing, so how convenient to use Benjamin as an excuse to have a cake!) So as I cleaned up the kitchen, off Mark and Benjamin went to "secretly" get Mommy a birthday cake. Not only did the boys come back with a cake that said "Happy Birthday, Mommy" (Benjamin was so proud that he had told them what to put on the cake and got to watch them write it!), but they came back with these:

I love, love, love flowers, so I was thrilled to have some fresh flowers to enjoy for the next several days!

My birthday celebration also involved a HUGE waffle bowl with an ice cream concoction from Cold Stone Creamery, eating out at my favorite restaurant, sleeping late in a hotel, and these:

I've heard people rave about their Crocs for months now, but I could never get over how not-attractive they were to want to try a pair. Then along came the flip-flops, so I was intrigued. With the exception of our bedrooms and dining room, the floor of our house is all tile, which necessitates me wearing some kind of footwear at all times or else my feet and back complain. I had thought that the Croc flip flops might be a great thing for wearing around the house, but had never gone and bought them for myself. Well, seeing as how I have such a sweet husband, he bought them for me! I had my choice of colors, and there were some that were more fun than black, but I knew black would go with more. I am now IN LOVE with these flip flops and will probably soon be going back to get another pair!

When Mark and I returned from our night away, these were waiting for me:

My sweet brother-in-law and sister-in-law sent these to me for my big day. I now have beautiful fresh flowers to enjoy in my bedroom and my entry way! I feel a bit spoiled!

It's fun to be queen for a day, but I guess it's now back to the real world with bills, a dirty house, and laundry. But I am thankful to have another year of life full of blessings to look forward to, and I can't wait to see the adventures that are ahead for my 32nd year! I have a feeling that some of the best adventures of the year will involve


What more could I ask for?!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Weary Travellers

Whew! We have been out of town for the past eight days. We left a week ago Sunday and returned home last night.

Our trip began with Mark attending a church conference about 4 hours from home. I was able to get together with some friends in the area, and then the kids and I did a lot of "hanging out" at the hotel while Mark went to all of his meetings. Fortunately, Benjamin and Hannah thought simply staying in a hotel was an adventure in itself!! That is one thing you can count on with little ones--they don't require lots of bells and whistles to have a good time!

After the conference, we drove another hour to spend some time with my family. I have a nephew that is almost a year older than Benjamin, and they always have a good time when they are together. My dad has put new swings on the old swing set that I had growing up, so it's fun to watch my kids have fun in the same yard that I knew as a child.

A few days later, it was on to my in-laws for some time with them. One of my favorite things about visiting my in-laws is getting to use their whirlpool bathtub! Nice, relaxing, hot baths are a favorite, rare treat for me, especially with two toddlers. I wasn't able to enjoy the "relaxing" part of that treat since Benjamin and Hannah were both standing by the tub as I soaked, but I still enjoyed it nonetheless! Another treat on that leg of the trip was attending my in-law's church and getting to sit beside Mark during the service. That may not sound like a big deal to most of you, but it is for me. Since his "regular" place at church is in the pulpit, it's usually just Benjamin and me in our pew.

Then yesterday, we packed up and headed home, arriving yesterday evening.

In case you didn't pick up on it, this trip required packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, packing, unpacking, packing, and finally unpacking for the final time here at home. And the clothes we needed for the first leg of our trip were different than those we needed for the rest of the trip, so I couldn't be so efficient as to pack 3 or 4 outfits for each of us and then just wash the rest of the trip. So there was, um, LOTS to pack and unpack! (It's hard work to be away from home with two little ones!! I knew that already, but boy was I reminded of that fact this week!)

Needless to say, I am behind on all of the events and happenings of many of you, my bloggy friends, and still have some good, quality sleep to catch up on. In a few days, I'll have the bills paid, the laundry caught up, things will be settled down and we'll be back into our routine. Then maybe I can resume life in the blogging world.

So, I'll see you all in a few days!