Friday, December 16, 2011

I Burnt the Pancakes......AGAIN!

I burned the pancakes again. But this is about so much more than burnt pancakes. I think I could possibly be one of the worst cooks ever,  but it's about more than that too.

Seriously, I am a bad cook. If I thought that becoming a stay at home mom would enhance my cooking skills. Boy was I wrong. I actually think the situation is worse now because I attempt to cook more meals during the week so that we don't eat out or to just make life easier on the husband. Practice makes perfect, right? Not for me,  I think the more I cook.... the worst it gets.

For the last 3 days, my husband has joked that I should make him pancakes since he recently had surgery. So this morning I thought I would give him something other than the regular bowl of Cheerios, which he's been getting because the first day he was home I made crappy eggs.  I followed the instructions and made enough for what was supposed to be 10-12 pancakes. Whatever!  The box must have been talking about "mini" pancakes because the first batch made about four, two of which were of course burned. Okay fine, obviously I needed to make more and  so I doubled the recipe. I gave the black ones to the 2 year old, he'll literally eat anything, and was ready to try again.

Second batch, not so much better. For some reason it looked runny but I kept on throwing the mix onto the pan. What a mess! Really, a mess. Pancake mix was all over the counter and each pancake seemed to be burning more than the next one. And if they weren't burning they were so flat and runny that I couldn't really flip them over. The husband who could see the steam coming from my ears, nicely suggested that I turn the heat down. Obviously, I wasn't smart enough to think of that, because like I said before I am not a good cook. I gave him, or shall I say,  I threw two of the unburnt pancakes onto a paper plate and not so politely asked if he would like butter or syrup because he was going to need it since they were probably going to taste like crap. Yep, nice loving wife that I am who was making pancakes, not even a full breakfast - just pancakes, for her husband was basically by now just throwing his food at him and telling him it wasn't going to taste any good anyways. He just sat down and said he would eat them plain. I don't think he wanted to ask me for anything else, hmmm.....wonder why?

Meanwhile, even though these might be the worst pancakes ever I was determined to use the mix I had already mixed up because I hate to be wasteful. I figured I could freeze the pancakes for the kids because they would eat them and if they were frozen they might not even be able to notice that they were previously burnt. So I starting bagging up  the rest of the pancakes after the husband declined more, he only ate two.  I started chucking my bagged pancakes into the freezer and throwing my dishes in the sink. I looked around and there was a huge mess. Now I had spent all of this time cooking pancakes no one would probably eat and I had to spend twice as much time cleaning up the mess. Seriously! I should have just went to McDonalds to buy him pancakes.

Anyways like I said before, it's about so much more than stupid burnt pancakes. The night before I had completely jacked up sugar cookies. No, I didn't try and make them from scratch. I actually bought the premade mix and was just trying to make ones in the shapes of xmas trees and stars. I wanted to have those cute sugar cookies that I see everyone else making. You know the kind that look all pretty and the neighbors pass out as gifts. I couldn't figure out how to get the dough into these cute little shapes without it all sticking together. So forget it, the kids had round sugar cookies that for some reason didn't cook all the way through and looked almost like small frisbees.

I could go on and on about all the baked goods and dinners I've ruined. There's chicken that's been so dried out we couldn't eat it or food that was salty we had to throw it out. There's been more than a few times we ate out even though I had "cooked" dinner.  But even though I'm a bad cook, I think my anger and frustration is really coming from me feeling like I'm not good at something. And I think what makes it even more frustrating is that I'm not good at something  that I feel like I'm supposed to be good at. Ever feel like everyone else can do something better than you? That's how it is for me with anything having to do with the kitchen. It doesn't help that anyone whose ever in the kitchen with me tries to "help" me by giving me advice. This I hate because I guess I'd like everyone to at least think I know what I'm doing. So it's not about the cooking but more about my unrealistic goal of wanting to do everything that I do well.

So I suck at cooking. I will probably never be good at it or enjoy being in the kitchen. There are a million other people who can do it better, actually I don't know anyone who does it as badly as I do. But it doesn't matter because in life there will be things that we won't be good at. I guess it' just as important to realize what we're not good at in life so that we can focus and spend time on the things that we do well. Figuring that out.....well that could be many more blog entries.....

By the way, did I tell you what the 9 yr olds teacher wants me to do for their Christmas party next week?
Make pancakes.

Friday, December 9, 2011

GrAtiTuDe AtTiTuDe: Part 2_ Lesson Learned

My family had approached the Gratitude Bucket with a little bit of an attitude. However, as the first two weeks passed they really did begin to embrace the idea. It became a fun activity to do at the end of dinner. When other people would come over, they too would add things to the gratitude jar. But like I mentioned before, it is quite simple to be grateful and have a thankful attitude when things are going your way. November was a month in which many things did not go my way.

A few days before our 2 year olds birthday, he had an accident and split the bottom of his chin open. This happens to be the same child who has had a dislocated elbow and a broken arm, all within the last year. It also happened to be the only child who had no insurance.  Therefore, the visit cost $300. After spending 5 hours at the urgent care on my husband's only day off and more money than we wanted, that night we all still found something to be thankful for at dinner. I remember being thankful that the 9 year old was giving the 2 year old his bath because I was completely exhausted.

As the month dragged on, it seemed as if I was tired and well just plain old grouchy.  And so I was feeling like I had to stretch to find things I was thankful for. However, the kids and my husband seemed each day to complete the task easily. They were thankful for things related to Thanksgiving, relatives, god's word, the dr. who stitched up our little guy, and the list went on. 

 Then we had another incident at our home.  The very next day after having his stitches removed, the 2 year old broke his clavicle bone by jumping out of his bed. Now, I know all mothers have mom guilt and when our children are hurt we automatically think of how we could have prevented the situation. So when you have a child that has dislocated an elbow, broken an arm, had stitches, and broken his clavicle bone all within one year you start to feel like a pretty crummy mommy. I was consumed with all of the things I was doing wrong as a mother (which could be a whole different blog post) and how my children may be better off if I went back to work. You could say the guilt was interferring with my "thankful" attitude.  

On top of the horrible feelings of  guilt that were eating me up, there was also the fact that this child still had no insurance. The visit cost us another $200 and we were leaving for vacation the next day. I don't remember if I wrote down anything to be thankful for that night. I was frustrated and felt like we couldn't quite catch a break.  Other events happened in the month that just made it feel like it was one of those bumpy months in life.  But it didn't seem to phase the rest of my family. My husband became upset a few times when it seemed like something else was going wrong. But he let it roll off better than I did. He didn't seem to let it carry over.

When I reflected back on the month of November and our Gratitude bucket, I realized that the rest of my family knew what it was to be truly grateful. They were thankful whatever the situation and they were not just saying what they were thankful for or trying to think of something different to be appreciative of each day, they were truly thankful in their hearts. 

At the end of the month, we read our thankful notes from our Gratitude bucket. It was fun to see what had been written down. But you know who had the most notes in the bucket? There was a person who seemed to have not have missed a day. The 9 year old, the one who was originally the least excited turned out to have the most grateful heart. He had put down so many wonderful things like his brothers, his parents, his cousins, the dog we dogsit, god, and his grandpa. His writing was on more papers than anyone elses because not only did he himself have the most notes but he wrote down things for his little brother as well.
Many people say children are ungrateful but maybe they are just not being asked to express their gratitude. Maybe children truly have a thankful heart but they learn to be ungrateful by watching the adults surrounding them. All I know is I pride myself on being an appreciative person and believe that I am thankful for all of the blessings in my life. However, instead of teaching my children how to be appreciative for what they have, I in turn learned how to be thankful....... no matter what the circumstances.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Always be joyful.  Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

GrAtiTuDe AtTiTuDe: Part 1

I thought I was so clever when I decided to have my family participate in a month of gratitude. Of course, I was going to teach them what it really means to be grateful, to appreciate all that we have, and why our family is better off than most. Oh I had big lessons for them all......

After deciding to participate in writing a gratitude post starting Nov.1 until Thanksgiving, I decided to have my family join along with me. I took a large Lincoln log container wrapped it in some Fall looking scrapbook paper with the words GRATITUDE, grabbed some small sheets of paper for writing on, put it in the center of the dinner table, and prepared to tell my family my ingenious idea.

The first person to notice the container and ask what it was for was the nine year old. I was quite excited to share my idea with him because of course I just thought it was brilliant. I explained that each night after dinner we would all put something in the container that we were thankful for and then at the end of the month we would read them all aloud. His response was ...... a little less than enthusiastic. His exact words were, "Oh great mom". This was not a happy, “Oh great mom!” it was more of a grumble as he put the container back on the middle of the table. Alright so the 9 year old wasn't oh so excited, he was 9. What more could I expect from a 9 year old?  Kids are pretty self absorbed, right? My husband would surely jump on board and appreciate the values I was trying to instill in our children.

A few hours later, my husband came home and within a few minutes asked about the container on the table. He assumed the container said ATTITUDE and immediately thought it had to do with discipline. Then the 9 year old goes on to inform him of my "idea" in his less than excited tone.  Okay, so no one is really thrilled about my idea and now I'm not so excited either. In fact, now I'm just annoyed because no one seems to think I'm as clever as I thought I was. But I was determined and so after dinner that night, I wrote on my strip and told everyone that I was thankful for my children. Even though they weren't thrilled, all of the boys followed along. They said what they were thankful for, wrote it on their strip, and put it in the box.

So this is how it went each night for the first week and a half.  We would sit at dinner and write what we were thankful for. Sometimes we shared our gratitude out loud and other times we just wrote it down and put it in the box. Each night it seemed to get easier for us to find things we were thankful for and the kids seemed excited to share their writing. 

I was feeling quite proud of myself for implementing this activity with my family. They were on the same page and now it seemed as if they looked forward to sharing their thankfulness. Even my husband was writing things like he was thankful for his wife's hard work, for his children, and for his job that provided for us.  The kids were thankful for their family, god's word, their home, and the list went on.

But you know there is this funny thing about gratitude. It is easy to be thankful when things are going well, life is smooth sailing, and there are many things to put a smile on our face.  And November just didn't turn out to be one of those easy months for our family. And so the "attitude" related to the gratitude began to reappear. But this time it wasn't coming from the expected sources......

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Two Years

With a few days left, before you turn two
Mommy is spending some time looking back
at all that you are and all that you do.

From the moment you entered this world,
so quick and abrupt.
It was if our lives were immediately
turned right side up.

We were busy before,
with the 2 before you.
But once you arrived,
Well, I guess you could say…..
It was like starting anew.

You were tiny and ill your first year of life.
We worried and prayed that you would be alright.
However, no matter how sick or hurt that you were
You smiled and laughed through all you endured.

From RSV, pneumonia, whooping cough, croup
to broken arms and stitches.
Seriously, you have put us through
quite a crazy loop.

But I wouldn’t change any part
of the last two years.
You have brought abundant joy and hope to our lives
through laughter and tears.

I didn’t know someone this young,
had so much to teach.
Fearful of nothing, taking on the world,
leaving little out of your reach.

If the next two years are just as exciting,
I honestly don’t know what we’ll do.
However, I’m sure you’ll show us
how to keep pushing through.

I love you and hope that you always keep that smile
The one that melts our hearts and makes all the
frustration worthwhile.

Happy Birthday Baby Landon!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Mini Milestones

Halloween. One of those days each year that we get out our camera and capture the memories.  We take pictures for the photo albums and scrapbooks, oh wait we don’t have any of those. Seriously ……still working on that issue.
 Anyways, Halloween is usually a big deal at our house. We either have a haunted house or a scary porch full of skeletons, scary music, and fog. My husband and I join the kids in the festivities of pretending to be someone else for the evening. Yet each year, it is the same. We decorate, dress up, hang out with family and friends, and go trick or treating.  We end the night with blistered feet, more candy then we’ll ever let our kids eat, and kids on a sugar high with at least a 24 hour let down.
And although from the outside it all looked the same this year, it really was not. This Halloween had a couple of “mommy moments” I would like to remember. There wasn’t a great big fun party and we didn’t have the coolest costumes ever. There really wasn’t anything significantly different about this year. Not anything I would have probably noticed before. But this Halloween held a few mini milestones for my children.
The eldest, my nine year old, agreed to be Brainy Smurf in lieu of our smurfy theme. However, that was short lived. I guess it’s not so cool to paint yourself blue and wear glasses when you’re nine. So he insisted he wanted to be a Ninja. OK, fine.  We go to the Halloween store to get the Ninja outfit. Now the 4 year old, insists he doesn’t want to be a Smurf either. He is going to be a ninja also. And of course, once he sees that there are swords and knives to go with the ninja costume…..well there really was no competing.  So this was how it came to be that our perfect family costume was ruined….. we now had 2 ninjas, 3 smurfs.
About a week after we bought the ninja costume, the 9 year old tells us he is not going to wear it to school. I was dumbfounded. Every year, there is a parade at school. All of the kids dress up and show off their costumes. Great opportunity for me to take all those pictures I haven’t been taking. Right? After all the questioning and I must say bullying on my part, he wasn’t going to wear his costume to school and the best reason I got was because he didn’t want to change back into his clothes afterwards. Complete laziness, completely in character for him.  Mini milestone #1: No more dressing up for school.

Ready for school on Halloween, no costume.

Remember, the 4 year old was going to dress up like a ninja too. Of course getting a costume like big brother is better than dressing up like a Smurf…..I’m not really quite sure why we didn’t see this coming. The costume he actually picked was a blue Power Ranger Samurai. We tried to tell him it wasn’t a ninja costume but he insisted he was going to be the “blue ninja”. Alrighty then, blue ninja it is. This mom is smart enough to know not to argue with the 4 year old determined to be the “blue ninja” while in a Halloween store full of people. Once he got in the car and put on his mask, I realized that this is the first year this child was actually going to dress up. The first time we tried to dress him up we had this super cool Buzz Lightyear costume. He screamed and kicked and would not let us get that costume near him. That year we had to settle for Lightning McQueen sleeper jammies. Last year, we got him to wear a jester hat but he still would only wear sleeper jammies. Mini milestone #2: Dressing up for Halloween, and not in pajamas. Mini milestone #3: Choosing his own costume.
Our "blue ninja"
So Halloween was bittersweet. Excited that the middle child is finally interested in dressing up but sad that the eldest child is nearing a time when he will not want to dress up. Also realizing that by next year, the youngest will probably be picking his own costume as well.  
But most importantly, I just feel blessed that I had a different set of eyes this year. Maybe these “mini milestones” are things that are not important to others or maybe they are things other mothers would totally remember anyways. All I know is I am fortunate that in the chaos of motherhood, I found some time to notice my children growing up.
The remaining Smurfs

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Confession Time

I was missing it all. How did it happen so slowly but yet in an instant? I was there the whole time but yet I feel like it happened without me. It was right in front of my eyes and still I feel like I missed out. I was there all along…………but was I really? 
What I’m referring to is the growth and the childhood of my 3 little boys, who aren’t as little as I would like to think. I mean they are still all under the age of 10 but I just feel like they’re growing up so very quickly. Everyone says it, right? ….. “They grow up so fast “or “Enjoy them when they’re little, they’ll be all grown up before you know it”.  Yes, I’ve heard it many times and probably been guilty of saying it myself. 
In the last few weeks, I’ve come to a few realizations….First, I have been missing out on the little things that I was too busy to notice before.  I’ve spent a lot of time rushing to get from one thing to the next, so much so that sometimes I forgot where I’m supposed to be going. Second, I’m a horrible mother when it comes to documenting or photographing my children’s childhoods and special events. I don’t know how many times I show up to a program or school party and realize I have forgotten my camera AGAIN.  My oldest son has 5 Scrapbooks, 3 photo albums, 2 baby books, and a journal from when he was in the womb. I know, the blessing of being the first born child. The second child is still 4 months old in his ONLY scrapbook and the third child has a half filled out baby book. In fact, we have very few pictures in our home of our “baby” because I haven’t even taken the time to develop them. I know….I’m awful!

Trust me the mom guilt is eating away at me as I’m writing. But perhaps the most honest realization that I've had is that life is going by quickly and I’m missing it all…....kind of like when you arrive at a destination and don't remember how you got there.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not a neglectful mother, or a mom who is not interested in her children’s lives. I ,like most moms I know, constantly give motherhood all that I have.  However, during the last few years;  I have worked full time from home, been a full time stay at home mom, preschool room mom, worked on volunteer work for foster children, participated in bible studies, and  homeschooled my oldest son with two little ones at home as well. Honestly, I have been doing what most mom’s do……" doing  it all". I am not complaining of the busyness.  Most people who know me well, know that I enjoy doing many things and most of the time I put it on myself.  Yes, I know some of you are laughing or gasping out loud because I just admitted to what you’ve been thinking all this time. My schedule tends to be full not because I can’t say no but because I don’t want to say no. I want to do it all. I thrive on the chaos that is called my life. So it is not the full schedule that I am regretful of, because I believe there can be purpose in a busy schedule. Instead the regret I feel is that I never stopped for a moment to notice the little things. And I am just starting to learn that there is a lot to be learned from the simplicity of life.
And so this is how this blog has evolved. It is my journey of forcing myself to take the time to notice what is right in front of my eyes........