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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The conclusion of Schroeder's birthday posts

It happened by accident. I asked Stephen's mom to make reservations for a trip to Chicago with our two older kids sometime during the two week spring break. I told her it didn't really matter what days. She made the reservations, and sometime about a month ago, I realized that we would be gone over Schroeder's birthday. Whoops! I thought about bringing him along on our trip, but that would have really defeated the point. Thankfully, Schroeder is still learning what it means to have a birthday. He's getting a lot of help from his brother and sister. He now knows that he gets a cake, presents, and quite a bit of attention. He hasn't grasped that this is supposed to be given on a specific date so the 26th worked just as well for him as the 27th. It's his fault, really. I would have been happy to have had him on the 17th, 18th, 19th (you get the picture), but he waited until the 27th to make his appearance.
Schroeder is a sweet, independent, slightly mischievous little guy. The sweet is demonstrated when I get him dressed. He'll be leaning on my shoulders as I help him put his pants on. Without me saying anything, he would always say, "I love you too, Mommy." That has to be one of my favorite memories of him from this year. The independent and mischievous side comes out when he heads downstairs in the morning ahead of me and Stephen, scoots a chair over to the freezer, and makes himself a little breakfast of a Popsicle (or two). He loves Buzz, Woody, & Jesse, playing with the ipad (thankful for our fun cover), running in circles around our house with his siblings, climbing on Brandon and company at church, listening to music in the car (he always asks me, "What's this song?"), taking trips with Daddy around the neighborhood, climbing into bed with me in the middle of the night, sneaking into his brother's room to play with his LEGOs, macaroni and cheese, wearing pajamas, sleeping in D'arcy and Julian's room, making messes and punching. Even saying the word punch is fun for him. He throws it in at the end of a sentence just to make himself laugh. "I'm eating cheese. PUNCH! Ha ha ha." Just as a disclaimer, I don't condone punching to cause harm or out of anger, but we do allow some good natured wrestling in the house. I love seeing his relationship develop with Maggie. She walks around and imitates him all morning while the other two are in school and that amuses him a great deal. I still have another year for the two of them to be my "babies" before we send him off to preschool. I hope to savor it.

This is what he was doing WHILE we were singing.  I think we need to clarify this tradition for him.
He was super tickled that everyone was singing to him.

Schroe is 3!

Schroeder loves to be helpful. The other day he was helping me unload the dishwasher and he dropped a glass. This weekend, he wanted to plant these herbs with me, and when I turned around, he had torn off the the pull-away planter and dropped some of the guts on the ground. These moments make plain what parenting is all about. We slow down our lives to help someone else learn how to live theirs. It's inconvenient. It's challenging. Sometimes it's rewarding. And I think as we teach our kids, we find ourselves learning and growing too. As Schroeder slows me down this year, I'm going to try to survive, enjoy, and learn.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cheers! Schroeder is turning three!

Schroeder wants to be a big kid and keeps asking for a cup like D'arcy and Julian. He gets his feelings hurt when he isn't included in what they get to do. We have a trundle bed in D'arcy and Julian's room, and he loves when he is allowed to sleep in their room. He loves playing with Julian's toys, and sneaks up there to get a hand on them when Julian is at school. Julian doesn't see him the same way he sees his buddy (and cousin) Gabe, but he and Schroeder are starting to become good buds.

Norah Dove

I'm committed to only taking easy, lifestyle infant portraits. I use what the baby has on hand, and I try to get loads of shots with mom and dad loving on baby. Ashley said she has been cherishing this time of just holding her little baby girl and that is what I tried to capture. Welcome, Norah Dove to the world.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The dancing wrestler is turning 3.

So what happens after several hours of quiet imaginext play? This. Dancing and wrestling. Wrestling and jumping. Mommy yelling to get off the couch and table. Sometimes in the afternoon I turn on dance music while we pick up. It helps us all have a little more energy. It helps me stay in a good mood so I don't end up totally losing my temper. D'arcy and Julian are getting rather good at staying on task and getting their designated room clean. Schroeder not so much, but we are working on it. You can also see that Schroeder is in his typical outfit. Pajama bottoms and no shirt because he has inevitably spilled something small on his shirt and refuses to wear anything even slighty damp. What are we dancing to? I'm ashamed to say. The black eyed peas, glee, Michael Jackson, or Will Smith are good guesses. Schroeder has been asking for "Men in Black" quite frequently. I'm committed to giving them only the best musical education.

Friday, March 23, 2012

This Cookie Monster is turning three.

Bathtime only happens two or three times a week. We've never been one of those families who do baths every night. Summer time is coming, though, which means more playtime outside and more dirt. Plus, we've been trying to grow out the boys' hair, and after a couple nights I can't figure out how to get rid of bedhead. We sing a little song to our kids when they come our from the bath. I believe it originated from Stephen's mom. The kids in general love it, but Schroeder, right now at age three, won't let us get away with drying him off without singing it. Here goes. "Drying Machine, drying machine, we get you dry after you are so clean!" Here is our Cookie Monster nice and dry thanks to the drying machine.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Schroeder is turning three.

He is so great at just playing. D'arcy would never just sit and play with her toys. She always required a playmate, and since she was my first, demanded that I play with her. Julian and Schroeder, however, are fantastic little players complete with sound effects. It's a beautiful thing. Schroeder particularly likes trains, Imaginext, LEGOs (both duplo and his brother's regular ones), action figures and his Toy Story dolls. He'll play for hours each day by himself or with any assortment of his siblings. He wants you to know that this is a octocopter. I'm not sure what this means but he was confident about this information.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Evil Dr. Schroeder is turning three.

Don't worry. He isn't evil just because he is turning three. Evil Dr. Schroeder is a nickname he has acquired in some play universe my kids visit from time to time. This week, as we approach Schroeder's birthday, I'm going to attempt to document him in all his toddler glory. Here he is napping on the couch. Months and months ago, I gave up trying to give him a nap in his bed because he would get up again and again and our stairs are too steep for me to want to climb them fifteen times in an hour. Plus, he just played without bugging me and he wasn't too much of a pain at 5pm. He does fall asleep in the car, though. When he does, I try to gently, lovingly, lay him on the couch in our piano room. It typically works. He naps for an hour or two right there. It is problematic when we go somewhere in the car at 5:30. I don't want him to take a nap at 5:30. Anyway, here he is sleeping like a baby. He's a little sweaty and contorted but he is still cute.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I am still taking pictures.

Google called the other day telling me how far down the list my website was and wondering if I wanted it higher. I told them no thank you. I have all the business I want. It seems today that I'm booking my 11th wedding for the year. I've tried to keep it to one a month and so I've had to turn down folks. Other little jobs kind of pepper themselves into my schedule. I'm trying to keep me running this little business instead of this little business running me. But just to prove to you I am working, here are some PICTURES!

Kids say the darndest things...

D'arcy is maybe a little too familiar with the concepts of birth. She has yet to ask how a baby is conceived, but she sure knows how it comes into the world. She was born via C-section which she is happy to explain to people. Her brothers and sister were all VBACs delivered at home. She was "around" for both Schroeder and Maggie's birth, enjoys listening to my conversations with and about pregnant friends, and has watched lots of "A Birth Story" and "One born every minute" episodes on TV.
A month or so ago, she was describing this show she wanted to watch on Hulu about a lady who has delivered several babies as a surrogate. I had noticed she had watched a short promo and was asking her about it as I wasn't sure if I was comfortable with this new show. She told me that the lady worked as a surrogate because, and I quote, "she had a strong birth canal".
The other day, D'arcy was asking me about the status of my friend's pregnancy. Our friend is waiting for her second child to be born, and at last check was at 9cm, but had yet to go into labor. That was a week ago, and baby is still not here. This was what D'arcy said.
"Mom, has Melissa had her baby yet?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Is she still at 9cm?"
"(Chuckling) Yes, I think so."
"Wow, how did she get that far without contractions? Can she walk around?"

On a sweeter, less medical note, I'm sure going to miss it when Schroeder starts saying "Lemonade" instead of "Emmalade".

Monday, March 19, 2012

Maybe blogging my weeks goals will keep me accountable...

Make shutterfly book for Maggie's first year. Read the other kids first year books to them.
Paint little section of garage that was hidden behind a gutter that we got rid of.
Read 1 Samuel 23 & 24
Clean out car.
Finish details of Darcy and Julian's room. (This will be a 2 or 3 week project. This week I'm going to order pictures for D'arcy's collage, and take extra bookshelf up to their room.)
Work on more ideas for my blog.
Gather up clothes that Maggie Lu and Schroeder have outgrown and hand them down to Eowyn, Tessa, and Rogi.
Work out each day with Wii Dance and do 40 lunges.
Find a forward facing car seat for Maggie.
More prayer for my home group pals.

I'm 70% done with Maggie's first year book. Those things can be so time consuming. My pictures were already edited and mostly organized. I promised myself that I wouldn't fiddle with the editing anymore. Still, you have to upload the photos, organize them on pages, pick the style of the book, tweak everything. I think I spent at least an hour trying to figure out what style to choose. I picked one that I like and then decided a half hour later that it wasn't right. It will be well worth it in the end. I make them into little story books so I can read them to the kids. Schroeder and Julian love to read theirs. D'arcy asked me to make her one. She has an old school style picture album because we didn't have a digital camera when she was born. You know, way back when our tvs weren't all flat, facebook was only for college kids, and dinosaurs roamed the earth. But, I promised her, I would work on getting her pictures scanned in so I could make her one.

So leftovers from last week:
Finish shutterfly book for Maggie's first year. Read the other kids first books to them.
Continue details of D'arcy and Julian's room. (Place picture order for D'arcy's collage. Buy bolts to put the mirror on D'arcy's desk.)

And some new ones:
Read 1 Samuel 24 & 25
Work on a special series of photos of Schroeder for his birthday week (he turns three on the 27th) inspired by my photographer friend Alyssa.
Identify what is currently growing in our front yard and make some decisions on what to keep and what to plant.
Work out each day with Wii Dance and do 40 lunges.
Make & order some new "business cards". I make non-traditional cards because they make me happy.
Work through the Lemonade Day Packets we got from the library with D'arcy & Julian.
Make plans with some friends we haven't seen in a while.

I'm reading this.

Stephen persuaded me to watch the American movie. He had seen all the Swedish ones. I didn't know if I would like it, but I went and actually really loved it. Yes, there are some pretty graphic, violent moments. I buried my head in Stephen's shoulder during those. The character I loved the most was Swedish winter. I'm hoping the book proves to be just as good.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Motherhood (with the help of PMS) is an emotional roller coaster.

Schroeder is almost three and is a mess maker.  He (with his sister cheering) opened a new bag of honey nut cheerios and dumped it all over the kitchen floor.  He (with his brother cheering) squeezed out Stephen's bottle of body wash.  Think old spice not bath and body works.  I was headed to Target that night and picked him up some more.  I found Schroeder the next day naked, in our bathtub, covered in the new bottle of soap.  No water, just soap.  Lots of soap.  He has poured a third of a container of orange juice in a cup, and then when that was full, on the table and on the floor.
Last week, He decided to stop using the toilet full time (we've worked hard this week to nip that in the bud).  Instead, several times a day, he was peed wherever he stood, toke his wet clothes off, stuck them in my dryer, and either found some new pants or went without.  The boy has been potty trained for at least six months!  The other day, we put Schroeder to bed with a diaper on, and when we came up for bed, found him laying in the middle of our bed.  He had taken his diaper off, fallen asleep, and peed on our bed.
This boy is testing my patience, I suppose like all good almost three years olds should,  but last week, my emotions were all over the place.  I was losing my temper and tearing up over silly things.  I cried a little reading this article about Peyton Manning.  Yikes.  So I wasn't handling his three year old escapades very well.
One night, I left Stephen with a jar of spaghetti sauce and our four crazy kids, and went for some retail therapy.  When I came home, I grabbed Schroeder's baby book in an attempt to remember why I love him.

When I was looking at all his sweet pictures, I began to tear up because my memory of him as a nine month old, a one year old, an eighteen month old seem so faint.  I found out I was pregnant with Maggie when he was eight or nine months old.  I feel like I didn't have an opportunity to cherish his baby days.
Schroeder is a small kid.  He's maybe in the first percentile for height.  I always assumed that if I married a taller guy, my boys would have a chance at being average height.  I worry about his height a lot.  I measure him once a month to make sure he is growing at a steady rate because he barely grew between 18 months and 2 years.
So when I was looking at his book, I started to think maybe I didn't just miss his baby days, maybe I neglected him causing him to not grow to his full potential.  I shared all my feelings to my mommy friend the next day.  She came over for lunch and I kind of unloaded on her my silly thoughts and emotions.  She did what good friends do.  She listened and simply asked, "Do you really think that is true?"  My pecking thoughts want to convince me it is.
So here is to all you moms having energy to withstand the shennanigans of your three year old (or five, ten, or fill in the blank year old).  Here is to all moms having the Holy Spirit and close friends by to remind you of what is true and what isn't.  Here is to all moms relying on God's strength instead of their own to raise their kids. And here is to great pictures that help us remember why we love them.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Maybe blogging my weeks goals will keep me accountable...

I came to finish my blog post and got distracted by this.
This is Jax (aka Beta from this post). He was born two days ago. Yes, you read that right. He was 10lbs 4oz, 22 inches long, and born at home by my super awesome friend Joy. I'm so HAPPY about this.
Now on to some goals for the week. Here was what I wanted to accomplish last week.
Book New York City Getaway for Stephen and I for our birthdays/anniversary.
Read 1 Samuel 21 & 22.
Pick up a Lemonade Stand packet from our local library.
Work out each day with Wii Dance.
Work on some blog ideas.
Complete an undisclosed, literally over-my-head house project.
Organize, Edit, and upload all family photos from January.
Pray for the peeps in my home group.

Leftovers from last week:
Finish up AJ & Sarah's photos to submit for album design. Create Album worksheet for future clients. (I did work on this. It is soooooo close to being done.)
Find my license plate paperwork which is NOT in my car like it should be for some tax info needed on it.

Yes, everything got done. Ok, I still have more ideas for my blog that I hope to work on this week, and my dad came to my rescue on that over my head house project. I told Stephen that I totally could have done it myself, but I'm totally glad that I didn't have to because it looked like hard work. Stephen totally rolled his eyes at me.

So here goes. This is my list for this week.

Make shutterfly book for Maggie's first year. Read the other kids first year books to them.
Paint little section of garage that was hidden behind a gutter that we got rid of.
Read 1 Samuel 23 & 24
Clean out car.
Finish details of Darcy and Julian's room. (This will be a 2 or 3 week project. This week I'm going to order pictures for D'arcy's collage, and take extra bookshelf up to their room.)
Work on more ideas for my blog.
Gather up clothes that Maggie Lu and Schroeder have outgrown and hand them down to Eowyn, Tessa, and Rogi.
Work out each day with Wii Dance and do 40 lunges.
Find a forward facing car seat for Maggie.
More prayer for my home group pals.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Check this out if you are interested in learning more about AIDS.

Our church has vision for helping with the AIDS epidemic in Africa.  This is in a corner of our church.

As I was driving to a friend's house a couple of weeks ago, I was listening to my most favorite radio program, Fresh Air with Terry Gross.  It plays at noon and again at seven in the evening.  If I have to drive anywhere during the day, I always hope it is at those times.  On this particular evening, the topic was AIDS, and I felt that the interview was interesting and informative.  It was worth listening to and worth passing along.  Check it out here on NPR's site.  

Friday, March 9, 2012

What are we watching?

Stephen and I used to watch a lot of movies together.  Now, we watch a lot of TV together.  Typical, I suppose for people who have been married nine years.  TV replaced movies, though, because TV has just gotten better.  No, I'm not speaking from a moral point of view.  I'm speaking from a character development and interesting plotline point of view.  We tend to watch shows well after they've aired on television, seasons at a time.  Mostly because we don't pay for cable, but rely on Netflix and Hulu to provide our television entertainment.  There are some shows we can't agree on.  He likes Fringe which I just cannot follow.  I watch The Office which he just cannot laugh at.  There have been lots of series that we've loved and watched together like LOST, Mad Men, Big Love and Dexter.  
We are currently watching Friday Night Lights.  He picked it from Netflix which surprised me.  I had always assumed it was just a bad teenage soap opera.  I think I heard an interview with the creator on Fresh Air one time.  I think that was the first time I even considered taking it seriously.  I have a lot of trust in Terry Gross.  
So we start watching, and I think both of us were immediately hooked.  Yes, there is a lot of underage drinking, but it feels more European in some way, like kids from Texas grew up drinking cheap beer at the dinner table which makes it culturally ok.  Every man in the series has been in at least one fist fight, which is a bit far fetched.  But what do I know?  I've never lived in a small, football crazy Texas town.  There is less sexual restraint than one might hope for, but everyone is not sleeping with EVERYONE else like most good soap operas (including shows like Grey's Anatomy).  And I'm pretty sure this show was made for NBC so there isn't any of the Showtime or HBO nudity (I won't judge for you whether that's a good thing or bad thing).  Most relationships last for more than one season, and several last for the whole series (well, we've only seen the first four seasons).  Oh, and, thus far, only two people have died, only one person has become paralyzed, and only one teenage pregnancy has ensued (but she was nineteen so does that even count?).  
All in all, this show does drama in a down to earth kind of way.  You fall in love with most every character (and the writers are great about ditching story lines that are too ridiculous and fading out characters that have run their course).  I'm in a place where I still can relate to the cares of a freedom seeking teenager and can also relate to the adults' desire to inspire.  After one moving speech by the character Smash's mother, I looked at Stephen and said, "Now that is how you raise a son."