Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – memorial day weekend

We packed a lot of activities into one weekend!

Saturday was our fifth anniversary – but my sister’s husband’s brother (who is also a friend of ours) was getting married that evening, so we dropped the boys off at my parents’ house Friday night for a sleepover so we could celebrate a little early. The next morning I woke up early, being somewhat incapable of sleeping past 6am, and made cinnamon rolls for an anniversary surprise 🙂 He ate six of them over the course of the day, so I think they were a success 🙂 and I ate the other six between that day and the next, shh! So that’s a bit of {happy} and {real}:

I didn’t take any pictures at the wedding, in part because the cameras honestly tend to detract from the ceremony in my opinion, but also because corralling two toddlers with no practice in sitting still through long events took both my hands, all my skill, and most of my patience. Fortunately they had a foyer area where we could watch the wedding without any of our noise disrupting the event! My sister, who was a bridesmaid, said she couldn’t hear anything; the wedding planner, who kept darting in and out of the foyer, seemed to think otherwise by the looks of exasperation and disapproval she kept shooting our way.

And in general, despite the fact that it was an exceptionally nice wedding and reception, and was set up in a very family-friendly way (as I had anticipated, knowing the couple), the attitude of the other guests made it really hard for me to enjoy it. Maybe all those older women were childless, or had forgotten what it was like to have young kids – but I got a larger dose of judgmental glances at that reception than I have ever gotten before. If you really want to make someone feel uncomfortable enough to leave, just keep shooting nasty looks at them… but if you want to be courteous, come over and express whatever’s bothering you and maybe it can be addressed. It didn’t help that our kids were the youngest there. We had a lot of young children at our wedding and reception, and I would have loved to have more – it is weird to me to celebrate marriage, the covenant that leads to new life, in a child-exclusive way – but there were only a few here, and I think the others skipped the ceremony and came late. Sigh. I don’t think I want to attempt that again; my social anxiety is bad enough without the blatant disapproval of others pushing it home.

Sunday was another story altogether, though. Since my sister and her husband were in town for the wedding, we had a family party at my parents’ house, including my uncle, his sons, his girlfriend, and his girlfriend’s daughters, whom I hadn’t met before. Again, I didn’t take many pictures, but it was mainly because I was too busy swimming and eating to think about it! It was good to be with family, to relax, to be free to be ourselves and let the kids be themselves, and to remember the love of family which matters more than the passing judgments of strangers.

I did get a few shots of my husband and Rondel swimming together, while Limerick was napping! The boys absolutely love the pool and spent hours in it throughout the day, with whoever they could persuade to accompany them.

On Memorial Day itself, we stayed at home and recovered from the weekend. I was intending to clean but after doing three loads of laundry, washing a couple batches of dishes, and vacuuming the floors, I was pretty much exhausted. I keep forgetting how much less stamina I have in the first trimester! The floors were in desperate need of vacuuming, though, so I’m glad I at least got that done. Next in line? The bathrooms. (Always the bathrooms… I hate cleaning the bathrooms, so they get put off, and then they get horrible, and then I want to do them even less, but then I finally do them and it is such a weight off my shoulders.) I had found a good routine for housecleaning over the spring semester, but my schedule has completely changed again and I have two fewer mornings at home, which makes cleaning more difficult as the boys are more tired and needy in the afternoon and dinner prep needs to be done. I’m sure I’ll figure something out before the schedule changes again, though!

Head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter for the link-up today! There will probably be a lot more beauty and happiness there than in this rather rambling and complaining post of mine – but I am glad and thankful for the special times we’ve had thrown in with the challenging ones this weekend.

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – a big announcement!

Well, the boys and I managed to finish our teaser project from last week, and while it didn’t turn out quite as nicely as my Pinterest-addled mind envisioned, I’m still pretty happy about it 🙂

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The second picture has better smiles, but something about the first picture just seems fitting for two boys expecting a new sibling! Rondel’s somewhat suspicious face says, are you sure this is such a good idea? – while Limerick just looks slightly in shock! So I can never decide which one I like better…

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Of course, most of our takes ended up along these lines:

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L: Mom! It fell off again!
Me: Stop pulling it off then!

It would have been cute as well to have me holding the number 3, but that would have required another photographer so it wasn’t logistically going to happen this week. Another pair of adult hands would have simplified the process greatly though! No sooner would I position the kids and run back to the camera than they would start scooting around or becoming distracted by everything around them. I just considered myself fortunate that they were mostly happy throughout the proceedings 🙂

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They were much happier when I let them run wild on the little walls and hills and explore the number boards in their own way! I have no clue how professional photographers get toddlers to look so good in posed pictures.

So… the details? Our new little one will be arriving sometime around Christmas, and we are so excited to welcome him or her into our family. I’ve been significantly moodier and queasier with this pregnancy so I have my suspicions that it may be a girl, but we’ll have to just wait and see – it could be that I’m just out of shape so my body is protesting more 🙂

I am beyond excited to be able to walk through this Advent season with Mary, growing heavy with child, pondering the mystery of the Incarnation as the mystery of new life blossoms within me (and probably aching for the pregnancy to be over like she must have been at the end as well!). It just seems like it will be a special way to experience Advent and Christmas, a new way to see the wonder and the gift of the baby Jesus. Hopefully I will be able to hold to that instead of letting stress and busyness run my days.

Head on over to the link-up at Like Mother, Like Daughter to share in each other’s everyday joys and struggles!

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – some crafting with the toddlers

The boys being very excited about painting for various and sundry reasons, I pulled out my previous finger paint recipe and took the boys outdoors with some paper and sponge brushes. (A cornstarch-based edible paint would probably be less messy and sticky, but I didn’t have enough cornstarch to make it work. So condensed milk it had to be.)

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I mixed up just the primary colors to avoid ending up with just a brown mess, and I love the way the different colors combined on the paper, brushes, and sidewalk. It was also interesting seeing the different ways the boys painted: Rondel using wide sweeping strokes on the paper, blending the colors together thoroughly and without subtlety; Limerick flinging the brushes in the air above the paper to make fine strings and drips of paint below, far more into the process than the product.

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Rondel absolutely loved everything about painting. He loved mixing the different colors, testing the different brushes to see what they produced on the paper, and creating something from the raw materials available. He didn’t complain once about the stickiness of the paint, even when it dripped on his legs or when he decided to paint with his fingers to see how it compared to the brushes – which is a huge deal for this little boy who is (or used to be?) so sensorily sensitive. He also didn’t panic or get upset with Limerick at all, even when they wanted the same brush or color paint. It was good to see him so involved in the process of creation that he was able to tune out or ignore the physical discomforts of a hot sidewalk and sticky paint as well as the emotional distraction of a younger brother sharing the brushes and paints.

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Limerick dove into the painting process with his characteristic no-holds-barred exploratory attitude (which is one of the things I enjoy most about his personality!), dripping paint off his brush onto the papers and sidewalk with intense interest in how the paint flew and fell, with the side-effect of becoming very sticky and colorful himself… and then suddenly he realized how sticky he was and fell apart, attempting to cling to me with wriggly snuggles in his upset. Being set in the bathtub cheered him up considerably 😛

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In addition to their free play exploration painting, the boys helped me with one of my projects with some acrylic paint on wood. But since I haven’t yet finished the project, all you get are the teaser photos 🙂 I promise you it’ll be a good one when it’s done, and I hope to have pictures of the final product up next week!

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter today for the link-up and share your captured moments of everyday contentment with the rest of us!

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – our trip to San Diego

This past weekend we were able to drive out to visit my husband’s brother and his family in San Diego! They were incredibly gracious in opening their home to the four of us and squeezing themselves into one bedroom so we could squeeze ourselves into the other bedroom – without that hospitality, it would have been a lot harder financially for us to travel out there, and we want to try to maintain the friendship between the cousins in a way that is difficult if we only see them for Thanksgiving and Christmas, so the trip was a priority for us.

While the weather didn’t exactly encourage the kind of outdoor beach-y activities we’d hoped for (cold and rainy, anyone?), we did still have a great time with family. Limerick in particular loved interacting with his cousin F (who is Rondel’s age) and Rondel loved the adventure of a new city. And to my great surprise and relief, both boys handled the long car ride incredibly well; we only had to stop in Yuma both coming and going, and the boys were relatively cheerful even when they weren’t sleeping or snacking.

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My in-laws have a year pass to Sea World, and used their guest passes to take us for the day. The sea turtle exhibit was one of our favorites – the kids wanted to sit and watch the fish forever! Fish always leave me amazed at God’s creativity: there are so many unique shapes and colors that you don’t see in land animals.

Rondel was also hugely impressed by the orca whales and their ability to jump right out of the water!

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The sea lions were another exciting exhibit as Rondel and his cousin actually got to feed them by dropping tiny fish over the edge! It kind of looks like he is trying to climb over the edge himself though! This was also the first exhibit where Limerick (who had fallen asleep on the drive over and then woke up too early) stopped clinging to our necks and became keenly interested in what was happening around him, which made me quite happy.

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The next day we attempted to go to the beach despite the cool and cloudy weather, and Rondel and his cousin had a blast running and digging in the sand. Rondel even got completely knocked over by a wave at one point and got back up with a huge smile on his face – not at all a characteristic reaction for my sensitive boy. But he has always loved the beach, from the first time he set eyes on it two summers ago, and this visit was no exception.

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Limerick, on the other hand, was not impressed by the beach, which really surprised me. He is normally my adventurous and free-spirited boy, and I was expecting him to be running with cousin F up and down the sand. But I think he was just overwhelmed by it all: the roar of the wind coming in off the sea, the crash of the waves, the endless water stretching to the horizon, the unfamiliar feel of the fine, soft sand. He spent the entire time snuggled up with me or my husband 😦

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The closest Limerick got to the water – see how he’s nestled up to my husband so sadly? It wasn’t like him at all.

To top off the whole weekend, my parents surprised us by deep-cleaning the entire house while we were away! There isn’t much nicer than coming home to a sparkling clean house after being gone for a few days 🙂 And so I have been basically feeling very blessed and very loved this week, basking in the friendship of our extended family and the generosity of my parents. Sometimes I think I must be the most fortunate person in the whole world, to have these people loving me so much!

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter today to join the link-up and share in each others’ joy or travails from the week!

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – pretty much all real

I will be honest with you all, this was a rough week and a half. Last Tuesday we spend the morning playing at the park with the boys’ cousins – and by nap time Limerick was vomiting. And he didn’t stop for over 30 hours, most of that time losing it every 1-2 hours very violently. So then last Thursday he transitioned from one end to the other and Rondel started bringing everything back up. Both boys had low-grade fevers for a couple days and were essentially couch-ridden (I made them sick nests on the couches so they wouldn’t have to be upstairs in bed); Rondel slept for the majority of the day three days in a row, and I have never seen him that worn out and sick before in his life – which admittedly has been a rather short one, but still! It was a new mommy experience for me.

Yesterday was really the first day both boys were feeling (almost) back to normal – no diarrhea, no vomiting, and energy to get up and play for more than 10 minutes at a time. Through this whole week, I’ve been reminded of Auntie Leila’s rejoinder to consider this time of sickness as a time to sacrifice myself – my plans, my routines, my comfort – for the sake of these kids, to show them what Christ-like love is all about. As she puts it,

You know, when our children are sick, we have a wonderful opportunity to serve them in a completely different way from the way they are used to. We can take a break from all the demands of daily life — demands which include prying them away from love of self, encouraging them to serve others and take responsibility — and just take care of them. Rather than viewing this part of motherhood as a stressful chore that reveals our incompetence, we can see it as a real blessing.

It was very stressful for not to be able to clean the house, or have regular meals together, or get out of the house for the outside time that I need just as much as the boys normally do, (a lot more stressful than I would have anticipated!) and I had to keep telling myself that “love endures all things.”

Kind of humbling to realize how much of an emotional and spiritual challenge this week of sickness was to me… I’ve still got a long way to go to reach holiness! 😉

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In the first days of the illness, Rondel was so concerned about his brother. He kept asking me when he would be feeling better, and what was wrong, and just wanted to comfort him with his presence. This is one of the beautiful side-effects of sickness, I think – the development of compassion in the sick child’s siblings.

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But all too soon he needed his own spot on the couch 😦 When Limerick started to feel better he seemed to find a lot of happiness in helping me take care of Rondel, especially when I would let him deliver a bottle to his brother, which was adorable and sweet.

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One of the happy things that sustained us during the sick times (besides endlessly blowing bubbles for Limerick) was reading books. The boys like books well enough normally, but they also like to be moving and doing things – but when they didn’t have the energy to play, the books took them out of the moment and gave them something to think about. Limerick in particular has become far more excited about reading than he was before!

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demanding to read the Very Hungry Caterpillar

So there were some fun things in the middle of all the sickness – but all in all we are all extremely glad to have the blankets and sheets washed and off the couches, and a sense of normalcy and order restored to family life. I’m sure the boys are even more glad not to be hurting and sick anymore!

I really hope that you all had a better week than we did! And don’t forget to join me over at Like Mother, Like Daughter for the link-up today 🙂

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – the gift of family

This week has had some highlights and some rough spots, and both of them have emphasized to me the goodness and beauty of family.

At the beginning of the week, my husband’s brother (the oldest, and the only one of the five brothers that lives out of state) came back into town for a few days, so the five of them had a night out and I invited my two sisters-in-law with children to come up to our place for dinner and to give the cousins a chance to spend time together. It was really a fabulous evening 🙂 We had ribs and watermelon (easy for me to throw together in a crockpot since this all happened on a 10 hour work day, but maybe in hindsight not the neatest meal when there aren’t enough chairs for all the toddlers) and then took the kids outside to play in the water on what was conveniently the warmest day of the year thus far. With six kids ages three and under, outside play was far less stressful and more fun than inside play would have been!

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my local sister-in-law, with the current youngest cousin, just 3 months old!

My sisters-in-law are some of the sweetest and godliest women I know – I really am blessed to have them in my extended family through our marriages. It was such a pleasure for me to able to have this time with both of them, even if it did end up mostly centered on the kids! My out-of-state sister-in-law (hyphen overload, my goodness) has shared a lot of parenting wisdom with me over social media, and it was really awesome to see her put it into practice with her daughter during our time together.

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And my worries that the cousins would end up having a lot of conflict proved utterly groundless. They all seemed so at ease with each other, and enjoyed the time playing with each other. When they had all left and I shut and locked the front door, Rondel looked up at me and asked, “open door so cousins come back in?” It was so adorable 🙂

 

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In the smaller context of the immediate family, I’ve been so thankful that my boys have each other, to balance each other out and to give each of them a different personality to bounce against and play with and learn about conflict and friendship with. Whatever kind of sibling struggles you may have in childhood, your siblings end up being the people who are still part of your life in adulthood, when other friends have moved on or drifted away. So right now, one of my biggest goals for my boys is to help them learn to love each other well, whether in play, conflict, or service. We did a lot of playing together this week:

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Rondel climbed in, so Limerick climbed in too! And this time, it was Rondel’s idea for Limerick to join him, and Limerick thought it sounded like fun. Cloth diapers in laundry baskets are apparently pretty awesome to wiggle down into and bury one’s legs in 🙂 Then Rondel decided to hug one of the diapers, so of course Limerick had to do that too! He loves to do whatever his big brother is doing – and his big brother is starting to pick up on it, and occasionally tries to encourage him to copy him doing something silly.

(Also, yes, I’m aware of the sharp kitchen knife casually lying on the floor next to them… Rondel was using it, under supervision, to cut the banana that Limerick was finished with.)

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We’re finishing off this week, that started so well, with a nasty stomach bug. So far no one’s been sick except for Limerick, and we’re hoping it stays that way, because one miserably sick vomiting person in a household is enough!

But his sickness has made me realize again how blessed I am by my family, and how valuable family support truly is. When Limerick first got sick yesterday, it was about 30 minutes before I was supposed to leave for work, and I already had the boys at my parents’ house so my mom could watch them for the afternoon. And I could go to work without feeling guilty because I knew that she would be able to care for Limerick with all the common sense of an experienced mother and all the doting love of a grandmother. I could borrow clean clothes from her to wear to work so I didn’t have to drive all the way back home first. I didn’t have to worry about making dinner to feed the rest of us because my brother made dinner for the whole family at my parents’ house. We were incredibly buoyed up by their presence and support on a difficult day.

Today again, watching both boys after I got home from work, I saw how beautiful family could be when Limerick, who had otherwise been just lying wherever I put him with a tired and zoned-out expression on his face, broke into a smile and actually started laughing because of Rondel’s silly antics around him. I saw the power of brotherly love when Rondel came up to his sick brother and covered him in kisses and hugs, and lay down beside him on the bed to snuggle to “help him feel better.” I’m sure it didn’t help physically, but I’m equally sure that it helped Limerick emotionally.

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how Limerick has looked since about noon on Tuesday, with intermittent bouts of sleep, vomiting, and crying; only Rondel can really make him smile.

It makes me so happy that they have each other, to share laughter and silliness, and to learn compassion and love.

Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter today to join the link-up or just to be encouraged and encourage others, as we all try to figure out this marriage-and-parenting-and-striving-for-holiness-in-Christ thing together 🙂

Posted in family life, phfr

{pretty, happy, funny, real} – mostly sweet potatoes

I got some pictures of our baby sweet potatoes in the garden!

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One of the little slips didn’t make it – I think it was just too small to be transplanted – but I kept one of the purple potatoes and both orange potatoes in their jars anyway, so I’ll be able to replant in that location when the more sluggish slips have reached a better size.

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Right now, they look like they’re doing rather well! Even the orange potatoes, which have been slower to root, have a few slips with both good little leaves and decent-sized roots, so maybe I will plant them sometime this upcoming week.

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Of course, the difficulty with having those tiny new plants in the garden is that the boys have to show some caution now when digging in the dirt. Rondel is pretty good at understanding the idea of being gentle with the baby plants, but Limerick seems a bit more oblivious… I just hope they will learn and that the sweet potatoes will survive!

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Apart from the garden, Rondel’s sense of humor has been growing all the time. Last night he came running out of the bathroom with an extra pair of underwear asking to wear both. When we told him that only one pair would fit on his bottom at a time, he decided the other pair should go on his head! And he found another hat to top off the ensemble:

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I think the laughter he brings just might make up for the sleep deprivation he causes…

What’s been going on in your world? Head on over to the link up at Like Mother, Like Daughter to share with everyone else!