Archive from January, 2014
31 Jan
2014
Posted in: parenting
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Raising Rapunzel

Our first three children are boys. When I was pregnant with our fourth, everyone assumed we just desperately wanted a girl. When I would tell people we were going to have a daughter, I was met with “finally,” “you must be so relieved,” and “oh, thank goodness.” It was as if there was something wrong with the potential of four boys, like I should feel less complete if I were to never have a daughter. I didn’t feel that way. I assumed I would have a fourth son and was truly disbelieving until the moment she arrived.

I had no intention of putting her in frilly dresses, bows everyday or dance class. I’m not overly girlie. I don’t wear much makeup, don’t keep up on fashion trends, own mostly practical shoes and can’t handle more than a hairdryer and a hair straightener. I assumed our daughter would be mostly a tomboy with me as her mother and three big brothers who reek of testosterone. She has been my greatest lesson in the meaning of nature vs. nurture.

Barrettes in hair

Our four-year-old is a stereotypical girl. She loves pink, purple, glitter and sequins. She wants her brown hair to be long enough to throw out a tower window for a prince. She’ll spend large chunks of time, painstakingly placing barrettes and bows in her hair. She makes up songs and mothers anything and everything she can find from breathing people to stuffed animals to her beloved babies. She doesn’t mind getting dirty, jumps at the chance to be outside and drops everything if her brothers include her in a Nerf gun war or a Star Wars reenactment.

Ballet first position

Our boys run through the house relentlessly pounding on the stairs and floor, much to this mama’s protests. Our daughter prances, twirls and leaps her way from place to place. She dreams of earning pointe shoes in ballet and practices at home what she does in class. She can’t imagine wearing the same outfit all day. She flits from princess to ballerina to teacher with the occasional knight or pirate thrown in if she’s managed to convince a brother to play dress-up. Her favorite ensemble is the princess ballerina. She has memorized songs from Disney’s Frozen and requests various braids in her hair to mimic the Frozen characters Elsa and Anna.

Curlers in hair

She talks as if she’ll explode if not given the chance to say what she’s thinking. Most meals are a seated filibuster at our house. She is passionate to her core and wants to tell you everything she feels, thinks and dreams or how someone (namely a brother) has wronged her in some way. We’ve said numerous times, “Don’t talk to your sister until she actually eats something.” While we drive around town, I listen to her chat until she pauses to ask if I’m still listening. Sometimes she’ll question me to ensure I’m paying attention. Our boys aren’t rambling talkers. They say what’s on their minds in a precise fashion and don’t add a lot of details. No need to even ask their sister how her day was or what she did. She’ll tell you…promise.

I’m exhausted most days when my husband and boys come home. I just want someone else to be the listener for just 30 minutes. I adore her unbridled enthusiasm and energy. It’s one aspect of her personality I pray for her to hold on to. I want to teach her how to contain it and not be overwhelming to her audience without dosing the flames completely.

A mom at preschool asked me why I made my little girl be so girlie. That’s the thing. I didn’t make her be anything. I actually attempted to withhold shoes and clothing I thought was too girlie. What a mistake on my part. She loves dresses, having her nails painted, matching her shoes to her outfit, taking care of babies and carrying a purse. She’s a girl in every imaginable stereotype. It seems it’s fine for boys to be stereotypically boy while if a girl lives the stereotype, her parents are seen as somehow dooming her future. My answer to the aforementioned mom, “She is who she was made to be.”


 
Homemade Marinara Sauce
By     |    Jan 30, 2014
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Homemade Marinara Sauce

I love the way our house smells when the slow cooker sits on low for hours with homemade marinara sauce cooking. The combined aroma of rosemary, thyme and basil make the house inviting. I love that moment when you open your door to a house filled with the scent of homemade goodness. It’s like an invisible hug. A few years ago, I really took a look at the ingredients in mass-produced spaghetti sauce. Something as simple as tomatoes, herbs and... [Read More]

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Community Valentine’s Day
By     |    Jan 28, 2014
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Community Valentine’s Day

Our 5th grader brought home a note from his teachers  explaining a community Valentine’s Day project. I read it and wanted to drive back to school to tell them how much I appreciate their creativity and kindness. There are things broken in our public school system, and then there are people who make all the difference in the bureaucracy of education. There will be no cards handed out in 5th grade this year. No cupcakes, miniature candy bars and lollipops.... [Read More]

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2014 Winter Olympics Family Fun
By     |    Jan 27, 2014
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2014 Winter Olympics Family Fun

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia open on Feb. 7. We are an Olympics-watching family. We will watch whatever sport is on the television, whether or not we understand what’s happening or not. Our knowledge of winter athletics will triple during those two weeks of February. The Olympics is a wonderful motivator for me to teach our children about other countries. We research the host country as a family to find out several items: population leaders type of government famous... [Read More]

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Distracted vs. Busy
By     |    Jan 24, 2014
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Distracted vs. Busy

I decided this year I would make better use of my time. When I began critiquing my choices, it became evident there was a distinction between distracted vs. busy. I feel stretched too thin most days. There’s just not enough of my husband and I to go around, and no safety net of people to fall back on. Life needed to be weeded. Those things which were choking and constraining me while not feeding me in some sense, needed to... [Read More]

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Why a Chore Chart Didn’t Work for Our Family
By     |    Jan 22, 2014
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Why a Chore Chart Didn’t Work for Our Family

I like a good list of tasks to cross off to make me feel accomplished. A couple of children ago, I jumped on the chore chart bandwagon. I, mistakenly, thought it would give me the same feeling of accomplishment and instill in my children responsibility. I was really, really wrong. I made the chart, gathered the stickers and by day five, wanted to rip that blasted chart to shreds. There are days I struggle remembering to have everyone brush teeth... [Read More]

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Tips for Science Fair Projects
By     |    Jan 21, 2014
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Tips for Science Fair Projects

Our boys’ elementary school holds a science fair every January for kindergarten through 5th grade. It’s optional for students to complete science fair projects, except 4th and 5th graders. A science fair project is part of the secondary students’ science grade. All three boys have completed projects each year they’ve been in school. I’ve kept every science fair project board…all nine…soon to be 12. The last two years with three kiddos doing projects at the same time has been a... [Read More]

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Disneyland Character Autograph Book
By     |    Jan 20, 2014
Posted in: photography, projects, travel     |    7 Comments

Disneyland Character Autograph Book

One of my favorite photography projects is the Disneyland autograph book I made after our second trip to Disneyland in March of 2012. The first time we went to Disneyland in 2008, our boys weren’t interested in getting close enough to the characters. If they did get close enough for a photograph, they weren’t interested in sticking around long enough to get autographs. On the second trip, our children were 9, 7, 4, and 2. In addition to the main... [Read More]

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Organizing Our DVD Collection
By     |    Jan 17, 2014
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Organizing Our DVD Collection

Our movie collection was an organizational nightmare for me. When we travel, the kids would have to search through all the movies to find the specific few they wanted to take on our road trips. DVD cases would be scattered willy-nilly while they rummaged through them. What I needed was a way of organizing our DVD and Blu-ray collection while using a lot less space. I searched numerous stores and websites for the perfect organizational system. I wanted to recoup some... [Read More]

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Greatest Adventure
By     |    Jan 16, 2014
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Greatest Adventure

We have a chalkboard hanging on the door leading into our garage. I write phrases on it or let the kiddos draw a picture on it. Most of the time, you’ll find something seasonal on the board. The start of the new year, a new beginning, had me looking at inspirational quotes for the benefit of the kids. This is what our board said: “Mistakes are proof you are trying.” I thought it was perfect. I grew up terrified of... [Read More]

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Insights From a Tween
By     |    Jan 14, 2014
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Insights From a Tween

Sometimes I forget my 11-year-old is turning into quite the little man. This morning he shared some tween insights with me. I’m not sure he intentionally planned the pep talk or if it was just a case of his sarcastic nature. I feel as if I underestimate him a good portion of the time. For every 20 moments where I don’t feel like I’m doing anything right with this parenting gig, there’s one amazing moment where I am reminded my... [Read More]

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Organizing Kids’ Artwork
By     |    Jan 13, 2014
Posted in: photography, projects     |    2 Comments

Organizing Kids’ Artwork

Organizing kids’ artwork was a huge dilemma for me when our oldest started preschool. I didn’t want to forget what he created, while at the same time, I didn’t want to keep it all either. There isn’t space for all the artwork my children make, and it’s just not necessary to have every scrap of creativity stored away in a storage container. It took me quite awhile to decide what was an acceptable compromise between saving memories and doing away with... [Read More]

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